Category: UFC

PREVIEW | UFC 257: Poirier vs. McGregor – Full card and predictions

THE UFC’s first pay-per-view event of 2021 sees its biggest draw return to the octagon atop a stacked main card to be hosted at Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi.

Fighters littered up and down the card will be keen to latch onto the attention garnered though the highly-anticipated main event, with plenty of statements to be made on the famed Fight Island.

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Just over a year removed from his spectacular showing at UFC 246, ‘The Notorious’ Conor McGregor steps into the octagon for a second time against Dustin Poirier, but much has changed since their first meeting in 2014.

Both have gone on to claim UFC gold in the lightweight division but will be out to impress current title holder, Khabib Nurmagomedov and potentially earn rematches against the undefeated Dagestani champion.

They won’t be the only 155-pounders eager to claim their contendership status, with the co-main event pitting vicious New Zealand striker Dan Hooker against UFC newcomer Michael Chandler.

Hooker’s last bout saw him edged by Poirier in a five-round war, while Chandler has held brass in Bellator’s lightweight division and now makes the long-awaited move to MMA’s leading promotion.

Another title eliminator of sorts takes place as women’s flyweight contenders Jessica Eye and Joanne Calderwood lock horns, with both eager to climb back into the top five and claim challenger status.

Another women’s bout slots into the main card as Brazilian prospects Marina Rodriguez and Amanda Ribas do battle, both on hot streaks and holding the potential to rise steeply with an impressive outing.

A potential banger between two men with some of the best monikers going around rounds out the main card action, as Matt ‘The Steamrolla’ Frevola meets Ottman ‘Bulldozer’ Azaitar. The undefeated Azaitar has shown plenty during his short time in the UFC, but comes up against a tough Long Island favourite in this bout.

FULL CARD AND PREDICTIONS:

FOTN: Hooker vs. Chandler
POTN: McGregor, Ribas, Azaitar
Prelim banger: Arman Tsarukyan vs. Nasrat Haqparast

MAIN CARD

Lightweight | Dustin Poirier [2] vs. Conor McGregor [4]
Prediction: McGregor by T/KO

Lightweight | Dan Hooker [6] vs. Michael Chandler
Prediction: Chandler by decision

W. Flyweight | Jessica Eye [6] vs. Joanne Calderwood [7]
Prediction: Eye by decision

Lightweight | Matt Frevola vs. Ottman Azaitar
Prediction: Azaitar by T/KO

W. Strawweight | Marina Rodriguez [8] vs. Amanda Ribas [10]
Prediction: Ribas by submission

PRELIMINARY CARD

Lightweight | Arman Tsarukyan vs. Nasrat Haqparast
Prediction: Tsarukyan by decision

Middleweight | Brad Tavares [14] vs. Antonio Carlos Junior
Prediction: Tavares by T/KO

W. Bantamweight | Julianna Peña [7] vs. Sara McMann [9]
Prediction: McMann by decision

Light Heavyweight | Khalil Rountree Jr. vs. Marcin Prachnio
Prediction: Rountree Jr. by T/KO

EARLY PRELIMINARY CARD

Middleweight | Andrew Sanchez vs. Makhmud Muradov
Prediction: Muradov by T/KO

Catchweight (150lbs) | Nik Lentz vs. Movsar Evloev
Prediction: Evloev by decision

Flyweight | Amir Albazi [15] vs. Zhalgas Zhumagulov
Prediction: Albazi by submission

Image Credit: UFC – (Retrieved via) Main Event

RESULTS | Dana White’s Contender Series: Season 4, Week 4

FOUR more up-and-comers earned UFC contracts in the latest Contender Series instalment, with only one winner missing out on a berth in the top MMA promotion. Jamie Pickett got the nod at the third time of asking with a vicious TKO victory, while Rafael Alves and Collin Huckbody won entry via submissions, and Jeffrey Molina carved out a unanimous decision triumph.

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Third time was truly a charm for Pickett, as he inflicted a 22-punch barrage on Jhonoven Pati to put him away early in Round 2. Of his four career defeats, the 31-year-old middleweight suffered two of them in the Contender Series, but proved he has what it takes with his seventh victory via T/KO. Pati (6-4) was a dangerous opponent having earned finishes across his six professional wins, but was left out on his feet by Pickett’s fight-ending combination.

Earlier in the night, Huckbody (8-2) pulled off the quickest stoppage of the five-fight card, leaning on his patented arm triangle to submit Kyron Bowen at 1:28 in Round 1. The 25-year-old now boasts a five-fight win streak, with four first-round finishes and six submissions (five via arm triangle) on his ever-improving record. He pulled off the move from mount too, showcasing a heck of a squeeze to yield the tap against his lighter opponent.

Alves snared the second submission of the night, with the guillotine choke his MO for putting Alejandro Flores (16-3) away. The Brazilian, who is both a high level grappler and striker, looked powerful from the offset, stalking Flores and threatening with his power. Despite Flores’ movement, and ability to land a takedown, he shot right into an Alves guillotine and in a flash, could find no escape. Alves is another fighter enjoying a five-fight tear at 19-9, while Flores’ impressive run over 10 bouts sees another loss added to the tally. Both men are 29 years old.

In one of two unanimous decisions on the night, Molina and Jacob Silva put on a show across 15 minutes of flyweight action. Despite the loss Silva (6-3) remains on the UFC’s radar having proved his dangerous arsenal and durability. But Molina was the one to earn a contract, controlling the distance and pace well while also landing some nice counter strikers and looking incredibly relaxed overall. It was his first decision victory, but Molina is now 8-2 with seven wins on the trot. He also pulled it off after breaking his foot in Round 1.

The unlucky winner of the lot was Romero, who still has time to prove his case at 8-0 and 23 years of age. The Canadian is well-rounded and technical, proving too slick for Mike Breeden, who is as tough as they come. Romero’s inability to clinch a finish while Breeden was badly compromised by leg kicks, and after dropping him, ultimately proved costly.

CONTRACTS: Collin Huckbody, Jeffrey Molina, Rafael Alves, Jamie Pickett

RESULTS:

Jamie Pickett def. Jhonoven Pati | TKO (punches) 0:33 Rd 2

Rafael Alves def. Alejandro Flores | Submission (guillotine choke) 2:55 Rd 2

Jeffrey Molina def. Jacob Silva | Decision (unanimous) 30-27, 30-27, 29-28

Anthony Romero def. Mike Breeden | Decision (unanimous) 30-26, 30-27, 29-28

Collin Huckbody def. Kyron Bowen | Submission (arm triangle) 1:28 Rd 1

Featured Image: Chris Unger/DWCS LLC/Zuffa LLC

RESULTS | Dana White’s Contender Series: Season 4, Week 3

THE COSCE brothers each earned a UFC berth as Season 4 of the Contender Series rolled on into Week 3, accounting for half of the total contracts handed out. Josh Parisian and Cheyanne Buys were the other worthy prospects to impress Dana White, while Kenneth Cross was the sole winner to leave without his signature required.

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The younger of two brothers to enter the UFC APEX octagon, Louis Cosce impressed in the night’s featured bout, making quick work of the experienced Victor Reyna. Despite an age gap of 10 years and the fact that Reyna had not been finished by opponents such as Kevin Holland, Daniel Rodriguez, and Miguel Baeza, the 24-year-old required just over a minute to get the job done.

The Round 1 TKO finish means Cosce improves to 7-0 as a professional, with all of his wins coming via first round stoppages. He rushed in with thunder from the get-go, with a huge overhand left dropping Reyna, before punishing unanswered blows from the side forced the referee to step in.

His older sibling, Orion Cosce boasts a virtually identical record at 7-0, all by way of stoppages and topped by his Round 3 TKO victory on the night. The 26-year-old faced tough opposition in formerly undefeated ace Matt Dixon, and was the biggest underdog on the card.

After Round 1, that status seemed justified as Dixon imposed his wrestling will on Cosce. But the Team Alpha Male product made some terrific adjustments across the following periods, forcing his opponent to desperately shoot for takedowns and eventually ending the fight in brutal fashion as he reigned down blows from the crucifix position.

The only other finish of the night came via the fists of heavyweight prospect Josh Parisian (13-3), took just under four minutes to put away Chad Johnson by TKO. It was Parisian’s second Contender Series dig after a winning debut in 2018, but the TUF veteran did enough this time to extend his finishing streak to six.

Parisian was the much bigger man at 50lbs heavier than his opponent, making it count with hefty leg kicks and strength to keep the fight standing. A knee and punch on the clinch break spelled the beginning of the end, as Parisian followed Johnson to the mat and eventually closed the show with some nasty ground-and-pound.

In the sole women’s matchup of the night, Cheyanne Buys brought a bit of gangster to the cage, despite requiring all three rounds to get the nod over Hilarie Rose. Both strawweight were 4-1 and looked virtually identical on the tale-of-the-tape, but Buys proved much to powerful on the feet for her quicker opponent.

Buys, whose husband is also a budding MMA prospect, controlled the fight in the clinch and had more answers up top, while managing to escape the tricky grappling prowess of Rose with an emphatic early slam. She now enters a division in need of some fresh contenders, and should bring some good flair with her well-rounded style.

Kenneth Cross was the unfortunate winner not to earn a contract, having edged Kevin Syler via decision in the night’s opening bout. Cross, now 11-3 and on a five-fight win streak simply didn’t do enough to earn his shot, and seemed to gas out late in the grappling-heavy bout.

CONTRACTS: Josh Parisian, Orion Cosce, Cheyanne Buys, Louis Cosce

RESULTS:

Louis Cosce def. Victor Reyna | TKO (punches) 1:12 Rd 1

Cheyanne Buys def. Hilarie Rose | Decision (unanimous) 30-27, 30-27, 30-27

Orion Cosce def. Matt Dixon | TKO (punches) 4:42 Rd 3

Josh Parisian def. Chad Johnson | TKO (punches) 3:43 Rd 1

Kenneth Cross def. Kevin Syler | Decision (unanimous) 30-27, 29-28, 29-28

RESULTS | UFC 252 – Miocic seals status as the heavyweight GOAT

STIPE Miocic confirmed his status as the consensus UFC heavyweight GOAT, after edging Daniel Cormier via unanimous decision in their epic trilogy decider at UFC 252. The Ohio native (20-3), who fought in his seventh-straight UFC title bout now has four successful defences to his name, and improves his ledger against Cormier to 2-1.

Having battled Miocic three-consecutive times, ‘DC’ conceded that this may be the end of his legendary career, with another championship opportunity unlikely to present. Two of his three professional losses have come at the hands of Miocic, with the third part of the former double-champs’ other famous rivalry with Jon Jones.

The ‘and still’ champion was made to endure a raft of sneaky right-hand punches from Cormier throughout, but managed to remain upright through all of his adversary’s power while landing some heavy boxing combinations of his own. After being stunned at the end of Round 1, Miocic got his own back in the closing stages of Round 2, with a significant eye poke closing up Cormier’s left side in the third.

While Cormier looked to push the pace across the championship rounds, he was controlled well by the bigger man, Miocic in clinch engagements, which proved vital in nullifying the Olympian’s wrestling. Almost every five-minute period was as tight as they come, though Miocic’s diversity of strikes and control of position ultimately earned him the nod.

What’s next? It has to be number one contender, Francis Ngannou. Although, light heavyweight champion, Jones has also put his hat in the ring for a potential move up to heavyweight.

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Jairzinho Rozenstruik could also be back on track for a shot at the heavyweight strap, after dispatching of former champion, Junior dos Santos in Round 2. ‘Bigi Boy’ was patient and respectful in his approach, but only required one clean combination to change the course of the fight.

The Suriname native swarmed on his seasoned opponent after dropping him with an uppercut and right hook, allowing him no time to recover as the referee duly stepped in. That’s now three-straight losses for ‘JDS’, while Rozenstruik (11-1) gains redemption for his punishing defeat to Ngannou in May.

The co-main event produced another banger, albeit if one of the competitors seemed to come away seriously compromised. Sean O’Malley was transported to hospital after potentially re-aggravating an old leg injury, which saw him stumble a couple of times during his fateful fight with Marlon Vera.

A clear underdog coming into the bout, Vera required just under five minutes to get the job done via TKO, pouncing on his flailing opponent and ending the show with some brutal elbows from top position. It remains unknown as to what exactly caused O’Malley’s leg to fail, as he was seen rolling his right ankle in the early stages. Despite that, the Ecuadorian pointed to his checking of O’Malley’s low kicks when queried in the post-fight interview.

Daniel Pineda was another to impress on the main card, halting the hype train of Herbert Burns with a second-round TKO victory. After six years out of the UFC octagon, Pineda made good on his return with an impressive performance on the mat against a renowned grappler. He ended the bout with some punishing elbows from the crucifix position, having proven much more active from top position than Burns.

RESULTS

MAIN CARD:

Stipe Miocic [C] Daniel Cormier [1] | Decision (unanimous) 49-46, 49-46, 48-47
Marlon Vera def. Sean O’Malley [14] | TKO (elbows) 4:40 Rd 1
Jairzinho Rozenstruik [6] def. Junior dos Santos [5] | TKO (punches) 3:47 Rd 2
Daniel Pineda def. Herbert Burns | TKO (elbows) 4:37 Rd 2
Merab Dvalishvili [15] def. John Dodson [12] | Decision (unanimous) 30-27, 30-27, 30-27

PRELIMINARY CARD:

Vinc Pichel def. Jim Miller | Decision (unanimous) 29-28, 29-28, 29-27
Virna Jandiroba def. Felice Herrig [15] | Submission (armbar) 1:44 Rd 1
Daniel Chavez def. TJ Brown | Decision (unanimous) 29-28, 29-28, 29-28
Livia Renata Souza def. Ashley Yoder | Decision (unanimous) 29-28, 29-28, 30-27

EARLY PRELIMINARY CARD:

Chris Daukaus def. Parker Porter | TKO (punches and knee) 1:28 Rd 1
Kai Kamaka III def. Tony Kelley | Decision (unanimous) 29-28, 29-28, 29-28

 

RESULTS | Dana White’s Contender Series: Season 4, Week 2

UFC president Dana White‘s recent vacation put him in a generous mood, as he handed out a record-equalling five contracts on the latest Contender Series instalment. Each winner on the five-fight card was awarded a shot in the elite MMA promotion, with Impa Kasanganay offered a bout in just 11 days.

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26-year-old Kasanganay again made good in his second Contender Series dig, earning another decision victory to move to 6-0 as a professional. The Congolese-American was forced to make some adjustments after falling behind in Round 1, taking the fight to the ground over the next two periods where he would dominate with vicious strikes from the top and back.

His opponent, Anthony Adams has now lost twice on the UFC feeder show, and boasts an 8-2 record. At 32 years of age, time sadly appears to be running out for the promising American to get his shot at the bigtime.

The first finish of the night came via another dominant showing of ground-and-pound in the very next fight, as Canadian TJ Laramie laid enough damage on Daniel Swain to warrant a doctor’s stoppage at the end of Round 1. White was impressed with his savage nature on the mat.

While it is yet to be confirmed, Swain appeared to have injured his ribs throughout the first five minutes, most likely due to Laramie’s attacks to his midsection from top position. Laramie, now 12-3 with four-straight wins, was the biggest favourite on the card despite his opponent’s notable 30-fight professional career.

The youngest fighter to grace the octagon on the night, Cory McKenna put on her own grappling showcase, edging highly-touted BJJ practitioner, Vanessa Demopoulos via decision. The 21-year-old’s win was made even more impressive by the fact that most of bout was fought on the mat, where the Welsh native’s strength and well-rounded game came to the fore.

McKenna seemed unfazed by the submission threats that Demopoulos posed, savvy to each as she dominated from the top and survived a late triangle attempt. She looked comfortable on the feet too, landing a couple of big head kicks in the face of Demopoulous’ wild aggression. McKenna is now 5-1 with plenty of time to develop, while Demopoulos is likely to remain around the mark having been crowned the LFA strawweight champion in July.

There may have been a couple of TKO’s due to injury on the night, but Adrian Yanez made no doubt about his first round stoppage of Brady Huang with a perfectly executed performance. His 39-second finish was the fifth-quickest in Contender Series history, and ensured he was a lock for a UFC contract.

Yanez also earned comparisons to Jorge Masvidal for his movement and boxing style, which is exactly how he got the job done. He initially slipped out to land a right hand and dropped Huang with the following left hook, before closing the show with an accurate four-punch combo to showcase his killer instinct.

Fans won’t be forgetting his name in a hurry, especially after hearing of his heartbreaking journey to the top, and a tongue-in-cheek plea to his new boss: “help me quit my day job… that was me on part-time”. The 26-year-old is now 11-3 with eight finishes, and riding a four-fight win streak.

In the night’s featured bout, Joe Pyfer‘s unfortunate elbow dislocation brought an early end to his battle against UFC newcomer, Dustin Stoltzfus. Pyfer looked the much larger man and landed a nice single-leg takedown amid the first round action, before Stoltzfus broke free via some submission attempts from bottom.

That was where the beginning of the end ensued, as Stoltzfus shot in for his own takedown with a big lift which saw Pyfer brace for impact, but his arm gave way. It happened just as the fight was heating up, but Stoltzfus had done enough in White’s eyes to earn a contract. At 12-1 with 10-straight wins, he seems to be entering his prime as a fighter.

CONTRACTS: Impa Kasanganay, TJ Laramie, Cory McKenna, Adrian Yanez, Dustin Stoltzfus

RESULTS:

Dustin Stoltzfus def. Joe Pyfer | TKO (injury) 4:21 Rd 1

Adrian Yanez def. Brady Huang | TKO (punches) 0:39 Rd 1

Cory McKenna def. Vanessa Demopoulos | Decision (unanimous) 30-27, 29-28, 29-28

TJ Laramie def. Daniel Swain | TKO (doctor stoppage) 5:00 Rd 1

Impa Kasanganay def. Anthony Adams | Decision (unanimous) 29-27, 29-27, 29-27

RESULTS | Dana White’s Contender Series: Season 4, Week 1

THREE fresh faces are set to enter the UFC after earning contracts on Dana White’s Contender Series, which returned for Season 4 this week. Jordan Leavitt and Uros Medic captured the attention of their new boss with first round finishes, while Dustin Jacoby is set to make his UFC return after taking out a unanimous decision victory.

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While the card was stripped down to four fights due to a late scrapping, those in action took full advantage of their spots to earn passage to the elite MMA promotion. As is often the case, the setting of a smaller UFC APEX octagon made for a bunch of high-pace action, kicked off by Leavitt’s Round 1 submission of Luke Flores.

Having fought as recently as July 17, Leavitt kept his momentum going to improve to 7-0 as a professional and take the next step in his MMA journey. The 25-year-old grappling ace wasted no time in securing a takedown – albeit unconventionally – and got to work with a series of transitions on the mat.

No slouch on the ground himself, Flores looked to stay busy from the bottom, but a poorly judged decision to pull guard spelt the beginning of the end for him. Leavitt snatched up the arm triangle in quick time, and celebrated with his now patented split.

Flores is now 0-2 in his Contender Series digs, which remain the only two losses on his professional record. At 32-years-old, time may be running out on any hopes of a UFC berth.

MMA judging again came under fire after Jerome Rivera got the unanimous nod over Luis Rodriguez, with the former’s volume of kicks and perennial forward movement perhaps sticking in the judges’ minds. Most significantly, two of the judges had him taking out all three rounds, totally discarding Rodriguez’s dominance in Round 2.

It was an incredibly close fight nonetheless, and the LFA vet is now 10-2 as a pro, but still yearns for his UFC contract. 22-year-old Rodriguez, who is now 11-2, was impressive on his flyweight debut and looked strong across each discipline. His wicked hooks, leg kicks, and takedowns all took toll across the bout, but his seven-fight win streak was ultimately broken.

It seems inevitable that we may see both men in the UFC someday though, and there was plenty to like about their well-rounded skillsets.

Arguably the performance of the night belonged to Serbian prospect, Medic, who lays claim to one of the great MMA nicknames – ‘The Doctor’. He put on a clinic too, taking out Mikey Gonzalez via TKO in Round 1 to send a resounding message to all UFC lightweights and welterweights.

As Nick Diaz would put it, Gonzalez began to throw ‘spinning shit’ early, but it proved ineffective in the face of Medic’s slamming body kicks. Medic had him folded with one early, but he snapped up one of his opponent’s legs to survive the incoming onslaught.

It took just a few more moments for Medic to land another though, with the referee stepping in as Gonzalez could only cover up against the fence. Unsurprisingly, the quick and nasty work warranted a ‘Goddamn’ from Uncle Dana.

Now 6-0, Medic has five first round finishes to his name, and a 100 per cent stoppage rate in his fledgling professional career. The rise to the top looks a steep one for the 27-year-old.

After eight years away from the promotion, Jacoby secured the final contract of the night in the featured bout, but required all three rounds to do so against a tough a durable Ty Flores. Having cut his teeth of late in Glory Kickboxing, Jacoby showed a clear striking advantage as he lit up Flores on the feet in Rounds 1 and 2.

The 32-year-old’s punishing straight punches and flurries with Flores backed up against the fence almost had the fight stopped in Round 2, with knees and elbows also thrown into the masterful striking display.

Jacoby seemed to have emptied the tank looking for an early finish though, with both men looking gassed as the pace completely slowed during the ultimate period. It mattered little for White as he granted Jacoby a second shot in the UFC, and he looks poised to make a mark at 205lbs as he enters his fighting prime.

RESULTS

Contracts: Jordan Leavitt, Uros Medic, Dustin Jacoby

Dustin Jacoby def. Ty Flores | Decision (unanimous) 30-26, 29-27, 29-27

Uros Medic def. Mikey Gonzalez | TKO (punches) 2:12 Rd 1

Jerome Rivera def. Luis Rodriguez | Decision (unanimous) 29-28, 30-27, 30-27

Jordan Leavitt def. Luke Flores | Submission (arm-triangle) 4:15 Rd 1

RESULTS | UFC Vegas 5 – Brunson derails Shahbazyan hype train

THE UFC returned to Las Vegas this weekend after a successful venture out to Fight Island, with plenty of news for fans to wrap their heads around after the latest Fight Night. Once again hosted out of the promotion’s APEX Centre, UFC Vegas 5 boasted just eight fights across a compromised card.

The late scratchings of Timur Valiev, Ray Borg, and Eric Spicely had already sent matchmaking into a spin, before Gerald Meerschaert was pulled due to a positive Covid-19 test, and Trevin Giles was deemed medically unfit to fight after fainting right before he was due to make the walk.

It meant fans would go from being treated to a record 15-fight card last time out, to the lowest amount of scheduled bouts since UFC 177 in 2014. Adding to the apparent curse surrounding the event, a bizarre trend of groin strikes piled up into double digits, and led to one very costly point deduction.

There was still plenty of fun to be had, and we bring you the best of the action in our top-to-bottom card recap.

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#UFCVegas5 #UFCFightNight #UFCFightPass

BREAKDOWN

FOTN: Vannata vs. Green
POTN: Vicente Luque, Jennifer Maia

KO/TKOs: 3
Submissions: 1
Decisions: 4

MAIN CARD

Experience counted for plenty as Derek Brunson handed rising middleweight prospect Edmen Shahbazyan his first professional loss. Ranked number eight at 185lbs, the American shrugged his gatekeeper tag and proved he was on a surge of his own, putting the 22-year-old away in Round 3.

Herb Dean and the ringside doctor took a good look at Shahbazyan come the end of Round 2, right after Brunson had very nearly put him out with some vicious ground-and-pound. The Armenian’s body language was telling, as Dean brought a merciful stop to the contest right as Brunson readied to unleash once again.

While all the hype surrounding this matchup spawned from either man’s ability to finish fast, a more reserved and patient Brunson would wear on his younger opponent with terrific chain wrestling pressure, combined with heavy hands both up top and on the mat.

The result may see Brunson, 21-7 push for top five status once more, but more significantly brings an abrupt end to the undefeated run of one of the UFC’s brightest up-and-comers. Now 11-1, Shahbazyan has plenty of time yet to regroup and rise to the top.

Shahbazyan wasn’t the only fighter whose plans were foiled, as Jennifer Maia snatched a title shot off Joanne Calderwood in the co-main event. Taking a fight in between her slated meeting with flyweight champ, Valentina Shevchenko was always deemed risky for ‘JoJo’, and proved an unnecessary one as she was submitted in Round 1.

Former Invicta champion, Maia looked dangerous in all departments, first landing good shots on the feet before getting to work as the fight hit the floor. After initially searching for a triangle, Maia transitioned to an armbar attempt, snatching up Calderwood’s arm and making the right adjustments as her opponent looked to scramble out, eventually yielding a tap.

Vicente Luque was another big winner in his main card dig, accounting for the unranked Randy Brown within two rounds. In what was Brown’s toughest test yet, matching the 11th ranked Brazilian proved a step too far as he fell victim to some nasty calf kicks, before Luque put him away in a beautiful finishing sequence.

Brown looked to be reaching for the mat to claim downed status, but was held up just enough to ensure his grasp would evade the floor and allow Luque to land a big knee to the head. Having crumbled his opponent, the Brazilian finished the job with punches and called out Nate Diaz post-fight.

Bobby Green and Lando Vannata produced a fight of the night performance to open the show, but it was mainly one-way traffic in favour of Green. The two men fought to a split draw in 2017, but there was no doubting this result as Green looked one step ahead on the feet to claim a dominant decision victory, his second-straight.

RESULTS:

Derek Brunson [8] def. Edmen Shahbazyan [9] | TKO (punches) 0:26 Rd 3
Jennifer Maia [6] def. Joanne Calderwood [3] | Submission (armbar) 4:29 Rd 1
Vicente Luque [11] def. Randy Brown | KO (knee and punches) 4:55 Rd 2
Bobby Green def. Lando Vannata | Decision (unanimous) 30-26, 30-27, 30-27

PRELIMINARY CARD

Prospects emerged on the preliminary card, headlined by a slick performance from Jonathan Martinez in the featured bout. Against a tough veteran in Frankie Saenz, Martinez got his patented kicking game going with an awesome mix of strikes to the legs, midsection, and head. A beautifully timed knee going backwards got the job done in Round 3, after Martinez dropped Saenz multiple times with his left high kick.

At the opposite end of the card, Martinez’s teammate Chris Gutierrez fought to a unanimous draw against UFC debutant Cody Durden. The 28-28 scorecards told the story of Gutierrez being dominated on the ground through Round 1, but edging out Rounds 2 and 3. Despite taking two rounds to Durden’s one, Gutierrez’s early complacency cost him dearly.

Nate Maness and Jamall Emmers both ground out solid unanimous decision victories, with Maness’ win marred by a point deduction to his opponent, Johnny Munoz for illegal low blows. Emmers took on a late notice replacement in Vince Cachero, who looks like being a game bantamweight prospect having survived some big shots at featherweight.

RESULTS:

Jonathan Martinez def. Frankie Saenz | TKO (knee and punches) 0:56 Rd 3
Nate Maness def. Johnny Munoz | Decision (unanimous) 29-27, 29-27, 29-27
Jamall Emmers def. Vince Cachero | Decision (unanimous) 30-27, 30-27, 30-27
Chris Gutierrez drew w/ Cody Durden | Decision (unanimous) 28-28, 28-28, 28-28

RESULTS | UFC Fight Island 3 – Whittaker edges Till in tense five-rounder

FIGHT ISLAND hosted its third and final UFC Fight Night on the weekend, with former middleweight champion Robert Whittaker taking out his headline dig against Darren Till via unanimous decision. The Australian returned to the winners list and halted Till’s run to the title all in one fell swoop, maintaining his number one contendership status in a tense main event which went the distance.

The 15-fight card equalled the promotion’s record for most bouts in a single event, matching the numbers put up all the way back in 1994 at UFC 2. Fearsome welterweight prospect Khamzat Chimaev ensured the records would keep on tumbling, as he completed the quickest turnaround victory in UFC history, defeating Rhys McKee just 10 days after his last outing in Abu Dhabi.

Catch up on all the results and more in our breakdown of the main card.

IN SHORT:

POTN Bonuses: Fabrício Werdum, Paul Craig, Khamzat Chimaev, Jesse Ronson, Tom Aspinall, Tanner Boser

Decisions: 8
KO/TKOs: 4
Submissions: 3

MAIN CARD

Robert Whittaker [1] def. Darren Till [6] | Decision (unanimous) 48-47, 48-47, 48-47

Whittaker and Till ensured their war would live up to the hype, as the two delivered a high-level, strategic striking battle across what was a gripping 25 minutes. Nine months after he relinquished his middleweight title to Israel Adesanya, the Australian staked his claim for a rematch having earned the nod over his English counterpart.

The number one ranked contender came out looking relaxed, landing his jab well as Till entered within range. But it wouldn’t take long for the fan favourite Englishman to find his own range, dropping Whittaker with a nasty elbow in one of many powerful exchanges amid the early goings.

Whittaker would see out the first period, before scoring a knockdown of his own in the second stanza via a big overhand right. He would follow Till to the mat and land some punishing elbows from top position, with the damage not only worn on Till’s face, but also on the lead leg that Whittaker was chopping up.

With respect earned on either side, both men took a touch more caution in their respective approaches. Till had recovered and Whittaker began to look a little wild as his adversary slipped out of range with aplomb, but his work on Till’s compromised limb and ability to change levels had him ahead in terms of points.

That kind of work in terms of volume played a significant factor in Whittaker gaining the upper hand, as he managed to land a greater amount of blows in response to Till’s heavy, but sparing combinations and left-hand missiles.

Needing to up his output, the enigmatic scouser began to push the pace, fighting Round 5 on his terms. While he managed to open up a big cut on Whittaker’s ear, his efforts were met by a couple of late and definitive takedowns to see out proceedings, as the Australian simply found a way to win.


Shogun Rua def. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira | Decision (split) 29-28, 28-29, 29-28

Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua inflicted a shutout in his trilogy fight against fellow Brazilian legend, Antonio Rogeria Nogueira, sending the 44-year-old into retirement on an unfortunately sad note. The two men know each other incredibly well, and the respect between them was evident amid a patient start.

But as the pair found their rhythm, Little Nog’s powerful left hand emerged and Shogun’s brutal kicking game also came to the fore. The bout became more of a brawl as the action wore on, with both fighters looking dangerous on the feet.

Rua seemed to finish the better of the two as they mixed some grappling into the show, with the 38-year-old landing some heavy shots up top and collecting a 27th career victory.


Fabricio Werdum [14] def. Alexander Gustafsson | Submission (armbar) 2:30 Rd 1

The theme of Brazilian stalwarts turning back the clock neither started nor ended in the co-main event, with Fabricio Werdum defying odds and age to take out Alexander Gustafsson in Round 1.

Much was made of a small rivalry between the two which extended back to a sparring session around a decade ago, but former champion, Werdum ensured Gustafsson’s entrance to the heavyweight realm would be a quick and fruitless one.

The Swede looked light on his feet and pumped his jab early, but it took one desperate chain of takedown attempts for Werdum to spell the beginning of the end. Having dragged Gustafsson down to the mat via his back, the 14th ranked Brazilian stepped over and looked to snatch up an armbar in transition, working on the grip with his belly down.

It took some adjustment, but Werdum was able to roll, extend his leg across Gustafsson’s face, pry his arm free and yield the tap in an impressive 2:30 performance. He’s simply world class on the ground.


Carla Esparza [7] def. Marina Rodriguez [9] | Decision (split) 28-29, 29-28, 30-27

Another former champion, Carla Esparza got the nod over Marina Rodriguez in their ranked strawweight bout, enforcing her strong wrestling game on the Brazilian to push further towards the top five.

Rodriguez looked the more potent of the pair on the feet, prompting Esparza to quickly shoot in on a beautiful takedown entry and eventually land in top position. While she could not quite find the distance to land damaging ground-and-pound, the American remained busy as her opponent looked to throw her legs up from guard.

Esparza made the near-costly mistake of looking for a submission late in the first two rounds having controlled them both, with Rodriguez using the scramble to get on top and cut her up with some nasty elbows.

The seventh-ranked contender survived, managing to frustrate and tire Rodriguez with her smothering grappling to see out another tight decision victory.


Paul Craig def. Gadzhimurad Antigulov | Submission (triangle choke) 2:06 Rd 1

Journeyman Scot Paul Craig made a claim for ranked status at light heavyweight, submitting Gadzhimurad Antigulov in just over two minutes. Craig managed to suck the Russian into his realm, accepting an early takedown and immediately getting to work from the bottom.

The 32-year-old threw up a triangle and despite eating some big shots for his trouble, managed to inch the choke in tighter and eventually yield the tap. It was a case of Antigulov opting to punch his way out, rather than fighting the position.


Alex Oliveira def. Peter Sobotta | Decision (unanimous) 30-27, 30-27, 30-27

‘Cowboy’ Alex Oliveira looked as good as ever in his unanimous decision victory over Peter Sobotta, putting on a ruthless kicking display to dominate the three rounds. The Brazilian veteran landed repeated blows to his opponent’s body, turning his midsection red as the colour of his glove tape.

With Oliveira working so well at kicking distance, Sobotta could not quite muster up the right form of attack to get within range, with the 32-year-old controlling the action on the feet. He would drop Sobotta right before the Round 2 bell, and looked sharp across the full 15 minutes.


Khamzat Chimaev def. Rhys McKee | TKO (punches) 3:09 Rd 1

The UFC’s quickest turnaround victory was earned in brutal fashion, as Chimaev made it two wins in 10 days to improve to 2-0 in the UFC. Having made his debut at middleweight, the Swedish representative cut back down to the welterweight limit and put a swift beating on promotional newcomer, McKee.

McKee came in as Europe’s top prospect outside the UFC and was game to the task, but simply has no answer to Chimaev’s blanketing grappling and strength on the mat. The Northern Irishman struggled between full mount and back mount as his opponent reigned down unanswered hammer fists, eventually having the referee intervene at just over three minutes in to the bout.

Now at 8-0, Chimaev again took no damage en route to landing 68 total strikes to nil, taking his overall differential to 192-2 in his first two UFC digs. Welterweights beware.

PRELIMINARY CARD

Francisco Trinaldo def. Jai Herbert | TKO (punches) 1:30 Rd 3
Jesse Ronson def. Nicolas Dalby | Submission (rear-naked choke) 2:48 Rd 1
Tom Aspinall def. Jake Collier | TKO (punches) 0:45 Rd 1
Movsar Evloev def. Mike Grundy | Decision (unanimous) 30-27, 30-27, 29-28
Tanner Boser def. Raphael Pessoa | TKO (punches) 2:36 Rd 2
Pannie Kianzad def. Bethe Correia | Decision (unanimous) 30-27, 30-27, 29-28
Ramazan Emeev def. Niklas Stolze | Decision (unanimous) 30-27, 30-27, 29-28
Nathaniel Wood def. John Castaneda | Decision (unanimous) 30-27, 30-27, 20-27

State of Play: 10 UFC fights to book before the end of 2020

WITH over half the year already behind us and the leading mixed martial arts promotion back into the swing of things, we put on our matchmaking hat to bring you 10 fights the UFC should make before the end of 2020.

Having done the same before Conor McGregor famously head-kicked (or shouldered) the year off in style, we know there are plenty of variables to play out yet, but think these are the matchups which will take fans’ minds most off the shambles we are currently experiencing amid a global pandemic.

Note: The proposed fights are ordered by weight class, working down from heavyweight.

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Heavyweight | Stipe Miocic [C]/Daniel Cormier [1] vs. Francis Ngannou [2]

No, we’re not already looking past the trilogy fight between Miocic and Cormier, pegged as the UFC 252 headliner in August, but this is rather a point to say that Ngannou deserves a second title shot. The scarily powerful Cameroonian has been on a tear since late-2018, embarking on a four-fight run of first round KO/TKO finishes. Of his victims, former champion Junior dos Santos lasted longest – 71 seconds.

The guy is nuts, but if his latest victory (a 20-second KO over Jairzinho Rozenstruik) is anything to go by, the questions surrounding his technique, maturity, and avenues to victory remain. Miocic managed to thwart Ngannou last time out to retain his heavyweight belt, and Cormier didn’t seem overly impressed by his wild combinations while on comms, but we’re sure the number two ranked fighter has a point to prove. He only needs one shot, and hopefully doesn’t have to wait too long to get the chance to land it.

Middleweight | Israel Adesanya [C] vs. Paulo Costa [2]

Has it been made yet or not? Many media outlets have gone with the story, but UFC president Dana White insists the dotted lines remained unsigned. Even before dispatching of Yoel Romero in one of the more forgettable title fights of all time, Adesanya’s most worthy next opponent has long been Costa. Injury has kept the Brazilian on the sidelines for a while, and he has made no secret of the fact he is chomping at the bit to be given a shot at UFC gold.

It is the fight that makes the most sense, despite the UFC bizarrely querying on social media whether the winner of Robert Whittaker and Darren Till‘s Fight Island bout should be next in line for a crack at ‘Stylebender’. In an interesting quirk, which only adds to the intrigue of the matchup, it would be only the second UFC title fight between two undefeated men since Rashad Evans took on Lyoto Machida at UFC 98 in 2009. Make it happen.

Middleweight | Robert Whittaker [2]/Darren Till [5] vs. Jack Hermansson [6]

This one has only piqued the interest of late, and promises to keep things moving at middleweight. While Whittaker and Till will have their focus firmly fixed on coming out on top in their bout at the weekend, Hermansson has already made it known that he has eyes on the winner.

It makes sense too, with ‘The Joker’ fresh off a first round submission victory over former interim title challenger, Kelvin Gastelum, while the remaining pair in question are arguably the most deserving title contenders after Costa (see above). Hermansson’s grappling prowess promises to test the two polished strikers, with both also boasting terrific takedown defence. A good test all-round, but with parts still moving.

Welterweight | Colby Covington [2] vs. Jorge Masvidal [4]

MMA fans have an almost perverse obsession with the old ‘friends-turned-enemies’ storyline, so this fight promises to give all you sickos a fix. After ‘Gamebred’ stepped in on late notice to challenge Kamaru Usman for the welterweight belt, his stocks are as high as ever, even in defeat. Covington has a lot less admires, including former teammate and best buddy, Masvidal, but is right up there with the world’s best 170-pound contenders.

Both now have a common defeat on their records, and it narrative aside, need to bounce back from those losses. With the likes of Gilbert Burns and Leon Edwards also looming as fresh and worthy adversaries for Usman, these two will need to again prove that they belong in the title conversation. Of course, they could be playing us all with an act, but we’d still like to see them go toe-to-toe.

Lightweight | Khabib Nurmagomedov [C] vs. Justin Gaethje [IC]

Arguably the fight which seems most certain on this list is the one to unify the lightweight championship. The only factor which could possibly derail the plan of Gaethje earning his shot at undisputed glory, and rightly so, is the unexpected passing of Khabib’s legendary father, Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov. While the champ deserves all the time in the world to mourn and get back on track, if he decides to do so, this bout has been pitched for UFC 253 in September. Gaethje has also been offered Conor McGregor in the meantime, but… no.

Lightweight | Dustin Poirier [2] vs. Tony Ferguson [3]

We’re all for keeping divisions moving, and what better way to produce the next lightweight contender than to have these two go at it. The two never produce boring fights, period, and have both been so close to the undisputed crown having held the interim strap at varying points in time. Remarkably, the perennial contenders have yet to meet in the octagon.

Poirier has made it clear that he wants either a big name or a title shot having edged Dan Hooker via decision last month, and Ferguson deserves the same treatment having only just had his 12-fight win streak broken by Gaethje in May. Of course, the pair could wait for the Khabib-Gaethje matchup to pan out, but the best way to stake your claim is always to add a big name to your resume. Fans will always yearn for Ferguson to fight Khabib, too, so this may provide an avenue to that bout at long last.

Featherweight | Brian Ortega [3] vs. Chan Sung Jung [4]

While these two seemed cordial in the build-up to their proposed bout in December of last year, it would be no surprise to hear them both quote Uncle Dana in saying the other “was never (their) friend”. Things turned sour between the pair after Ortega pulled out of that main event dig with a knee injury, and was only made worse after ‘T-City’ slapped up Zombie’s translator.

They have been going back-and-forth for a while now and, pandemic permitting, should settle the beef this year in what would be an incredible fight. The featherweight title was only recently put on the line, and Aussie champion Alexander Volkanovski needs a new number one contender. Both may thing they are worthy, but arguably remain a win off that honour alongside Zabit Magomedsharipov.

Bantamweight | Petr Yan [C] vs. Aljamain Sterling [2]

Alright, we understand if Yan wants to spend some time with his belt before even thinking of his first defence, but it seems as if the decision has already been made for him. The Russian himself even acknowledged Sterling as the clear, undeniable contender, and it would only makes sense to finally give ‘Funkmaster’ a well-earned shot at the belt. In reality, this should have been the matchup made at UFC 252 for the vacant title, but alas we may get to see it soon enough. Let’s have it, that 135-pound division is stacked.

Bantamweight | Cody Garbrandt [3] vs. Sean O’Malley [14]

We just told you the bantamweight division is stacked, and a matchup between these two would only confirm that. This potential bout already has some wheels, with the two indirectly going back-and-forth over social media. The former champion has been there and done that, but only now looks like returning to his former glory after a redemptive win over Raphael Assuncao last month. The undefeated ‘Suga’ Sean is fresh of an equally devastating KO victory on that same June night, and looks to be the next big thing among the 135-pound shark tank. The fans love it, and it seems both fighters will too.

W. Strawweight | Weili Zhang [C] vs Rose Namajunas [1]

Another fight which looks extremely likely to eventuate is that between these two strawweight queens. It’s the only female matchup on our list, but man is it a corker. Zhang is still riding the wave of her maiden title defence in what was a fight of the year contender against Joanna Jedrzejczyk, and has already acknowledged the skillset of ‘Thug’ Rose.

The respect is clearly mutual, with a rejuvenated Namajunas enjoying the sound of this billed fight for the 115-pound strap, right after her entertaining decision win over Jessica Andrade. While Rose is arguably the most well-rounded fighter in the division, Zhang is a scary-good athlete with enormous power – a factor which wore on Namajunas in her most recent bout. It makes for an interesting stylistic matchup, and one we’re so keen to see.

RESULTS | UFC Fight Island 2 – Figueiredo sleeps Benavidez to claim vacant flyweight title

IF there was any doubting it before, there can be no questioning now that Deiveson Figueiredo is the undisputed flyweight king, after defeating Joseph Benavidez for a second time at UFC Fight Island 2 this weekend.

It was the Brazilian’s fourth-consecutive win, and came just five months after putting the perennial American contender away via TKO, but being deprived of the belt having missed weight.

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He filed his name under the vacant championship rank this time, with the result now seeing Benavidez hold an 0-4 record in UFC title fights, and making it three champions he boasts two losses against, after Demetrious Johnson and Dominick Cruz.

The quick, powerful, and accurate Brazilian again made light work of his veteran opponent, dropping him three times within an action-packed first round, and getting the job done via rear-naked choke after a series of submission attempts.

To the credit of Benavidez, he fought the position valiantly and made Houdini-like escapes from some incredibly compromising chokes, but could only withstand the onslaught for so long.

It made for difficult viewing as his eyes rolled back upon falling into unconsciousness, but only cemented his status as a true fighter with enormous heart.

Jack Hermansson was another to make quick work of his ranked adversary, submitting former interim title challenger, Kelvin Gastelum in Round 1 via heel hook.

‘The Joker’, now 21-5 returned to the winners list in emphatic style, ducking under a flurry of Gastelum punches to land a takedown, before getting to work on the American’s legs.

After Gastelum survived an initial entanglement, Hermansson would not let slip on his second attempt, snatching up the hold once again to yield a tap from his opponent.

There were six decisions scattered across the card, and one of the more impressive distance victories came from Rafael Fiziev, who put on a striking clinic against the dangerous Marc Diakiese.

Fiziev, a coach at the famed Tiger Muay Thai, put his range of kicking skills on full show with some brutal shots to the body of his English adversary, all of which echoed through the empty Fight Island arena.

The 27-year-old easily took the first two rounds and withstood a late Diakiese surge, now improving to 2-1 in the UFC and 8-1 overall after going down in his promotional debut.

In the sole women’s matchup on the main card, Ariane Lipski lived up to her ‘Queen of Violence’ moniker with a brilliant kneebar finish of compatriot, Luana Carolina.

The Brazilian flyweight was on the hunt early, stalking her opponent before putting her down with power, resisting a calf slicer to eventually wrench up a savage kneebar and have Carolina reeling in pain.

The result sees Lipski improve to 2-2 in the UFC after a 0-2 start, with perhaps the weight of her legend prior to entering the promotion slowly lightening.

Rounding out the main card, Askar Askarov edged fellow flyweight contender and title fight back-up Alexandre Pantoja in a razor thin decision full of eye-catching scrambles.

Still undefeated, it was Askarov’s 12th professional win, and was earned though rallying in Round 2 and 3.

The accomplished grappler used his chain wrestling to wear of Pantoja, surviving an onslaught of early submission attempts to go on to tire the Brazilian and leave him with no real options on offence.

MAIN CARD RESULTS

Deiveson Figueiredo [1] def. Joseph Benavidez [2] | Technical submission (rear-naked choke) 4:48 Rd 1
Jack Hermansson [6] def. Kelvin Gastelum [7] | Submission (heel hook) 1:18 Rd 1
Rafael Fiziev def. Marc Diakiese | Decision (unanimous) 30-27, 29-28, 29-28
Ariane Lipski def. Luana Carolina | Submission (kneebar) 1:28 Rd 1
Askar Askarov [7] def. Alexandre Pantoja [4] | Decision (unanimous) 29-28, 29-28, 29-28

PRELIMINARY CARD RESULTS

Roman Dolidze def. Khadis Ibragimov | TKO (knee and punches) 4:15 Rd 1
Grant Dawson def. Nad Narimani | Decision (unanimous) 30-26, 30-27, 29-27
Joel Alvarez def. Joe Duffy | Submission (guillotine choke) 2:25 Rd 1
Brett Johns def. Montel Jackson | Decision (unanimous) 29-28, 29-28, 29-28
Amir Albazi def. Malcolm Gordon | Submission (triangle choke) 4:42 Rd 1
Arman Tsarukyan def. Davi Ramos | Decision (unanimous) 30-27, 30-27, 29-28
Serghei Spivac def. Carlos Felipe | Decision (majority) 28-28, 29-27, 29-27

Breakdown:

KO/TKO – 1
SUB – 4
DEC – 6

FOTN: Fiziev vs. Diakiese
POTN: Figueiredo, Lipski