Tag: combat central

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.

>> SCROLL for the full card and predictions

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 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.

>> SCROLL FOR FULL RESULTS

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 | 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

Card recap: LFA 87 – Logan outpoints Rosales for lightweight title

LEGACY Fighting Alliance (LFA) capped off phase one of its return with a fourth title fight in as many weeks, seeing Bryce Logan take home the lightweight strap on the end of a six-fight card. Held once again out of the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, the leading UFC feeder promotion gave fans a spectacle as four fights lasted all the allotted rounds.

The event proved somewhat of a curtain jerker for tomorrow’s UFC Fight Night at the Apex Centre, where 40 per cent of the fighters in action are LFA veterans. The promotion also announced phase two of its return schedule, with events to be held on August 21, August 28, and September 4.

>> SCROLL for full results

MAIN EVENT

Bryce Logan def. Jacob Rosales | Decision (unanimous) 48-47, 48-47, 48-47

Local hero Bryce Logan is the new LFA lightweight champion after perfectly executing his gameplan to defeat Jacob Rosales via unanimous decision. The 30-year-old now moves to 12-4 as a professional and is riding a three-fight win streak.

Well aware of Rosales’ power and length, the man with two first names flowed with terrific footwork to steer clear of his opponent’s main threats, while keeping him guessing with constant feints and a popping jab.

The frustration began to show for Rosales as he was constantly made to miss, and it seemed he was up against it after being dropped by a stiff left hand in Round 2. That exact shot may have been the one to bloody the 25-year-old’s nose, leaving the LFA cage a crimson mess.

While Rosales was able to up the volume and snatch a couple of rounds on the scorecards, he was unable to land the winning blow as he opened up, and was smothered well in the closing stages as Logan capped off an intelligently executed five rounds.

The result sees Rosales, a Contender Series alum, slip to 12-6 and 1-2 in his last three outings, but he would have lost few admirers for the durability and heart he displayed.

CO-MAIN EVENT

Nick Browne def. Ben Egli | Decision (unanimous) 29-28, 29-28, 30-27

Nick Browne survived a series of Round 3 submission attempts from late notice replacement, Ben Egli to earn his own unanimous decision nod in the co-main event. It was a battle between two renowned grapplers, though it seemed the most straightforward path to victory for Browne would be paved on the feet.

Seemingly undeterred by Egli’s prowess on the mat, Browne was the one to initiate the grappling exchanges and earned points for his work in top position – staying heavy and landing nice ground-and-pound. Egli would do his best to scramble and reverse position, but Browne proved no pushover as he moved into mount.

Browne’s willingness to battle on the mat despite a clear striking advantage almost cost him late in the fight, as Egli looked to snatch up a couple of Hail Mary armbar submissions in Round 3. Having survived, Browne improves to 10-1 and may be next in line for a shot at the lightweight title.

FEATURED BOUT

Joaquin Buckley def. Jackie Gosh | TKO (punches) 1:47 Rd 2

In the second of two TKO stoppages for the night, Joaquin Buckley exacted revenge for his 2016 loss to Jackie Gosh by putting him away in Round 2. Since their previous meeting, Buckley has gone 4-1 (10-2 overall), while Gosh has slid to 1-3 (8-3) after a 7-0 start to his professional career.

Buckley looked ominous from the outset, stalking his Israeli adversary with bad intentions and teeing off with vicious combinations. It didn’t take long into Round 2 for the damage to take toll, with a power left hand dropping Gosh momentarily, before two big hooks had him covering up and the referee rushing in.

With such power on the feet at middleweight, the 26-year-old Buckley looks a prospect on the rise.

RESULTS

Kai Kamaka III def. Michael Stack | Decision (unanimous) 29-28, 29-28, 29-28

Gerald Scott def. Keith Phathaem | TKO (punches) Rd 2

Zac Pauga def. Zac Cavender | Decision (unanimous) 30-27, 30-27, 29-28

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

Card recap: LFA 86 – Slick Flick snatches flyweight gold in 38 seconds

FIGHTERS meant business at LFA 86, with five of the six bouts finished within Round 1. The quickest stoppage of the lot fittingly came in the main event, as Jimmy Flick added some more hardware to his collection in the form of the flyweight belt.

Held out of the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, it was the third-straight Legacy Fighting Alliance headlined by a championship bout, with a fourth to go down next week as Bryce Logan and Jacob Rosales battle for the vacant lightweight title at LFA 87.

For now, we recap the action from an entertaining, albeit short-lived night of fights in our fight-by-fight recap.

Jimmy Flick def. Greg Fischer | Submission (arm-triangle) 0:38 Rd 1

The quickest finish of the night belonged to Jimmy Flick, who became the first man to finish Greg Fischer en route to snapping up the vacant LFA flyweight championship. It was Flick’s third title fight in a row across three promotions, and his 12th submission victory across a 14-5 record.

A pumped-up Flick could be heard screaming “Dana White, I’m ready”, before declaring himself the best grappler in the world at 125-pounds. He certainly has a case, with his slick turn of the corner on a double-leg takedown, and lightning-quick arm triangle snatch earning him the victory and some more hardware.

It was the perfect way to cap off what was a short-lived night, and we may well be seeing yet another LFA flyweight champ on his way to a UFC berth.

Arthur Estrazulas def. Dominic Clark | Submission (rear-naked choke) 3:26 Rd 1

The evening’s co-main event delivered on its hype, with Arthur Estrazulas turning the early tide to submit Dominic Clark in Round 1. With the vacant LFA lightweight title on the line in a week’s time, the Brazilian has raised his hand as an early first contender for the next shot.

Clark looked strong out of the blocks as he shot in for a couple of takedown attempts, eventually landing one in the face of Estrazulas’ phenomenal balance and defence. But the now 12-4 Brazilian reversed the position with a takedown of his own, using it to take Clark’s back, sink in the hooks, flatten him out, and sink in a tight rear-naked choke.

That’s now eight submission victories for the 31-year-old out of Kings MMA, and two wins in a row.

Fabio Cherant def. Erick Murray Jr.| Submission (anaconda choke) 0:57 Rd 1

Fabio Cherant was a man on a mission, gaining redemption after his first professional loss on the Contender Series to submit Erick Murray Jr in the first round. In his maiden LFA bout, Cherant took just under a minute to get rid of his opponent, working shots to the body before winging a quick left hand up top to stun Murray.

Sensing his moment, Cherant quickly snatched up the choke and adjusted it beautifully on the feet, with Murray dragging it to the mat to escape, but eventually tapping. The only blight on Cherant’s performance was the fact he missed weight by nine pounds, but he looks a serious prospect at light heavyweight with five submission wins on his 5-1 record.

Mando Gutierrez def. Jeff Jepsen | Submission (rear-naked choke) 1:57 Rd 1

Mando Gutierrez ensured the train of promotional debut wins would roll on, with his slick first round submission of Jeff Jepsen. The 23-year-old grappler showed he has more tricks in the bag than just his wrestling, winging powerful kicks on the feet and heavy knees in the clinch, before wrapping up a guillotine and using it to take the fight to the mat.

From there, the brutal pace Gutierrez enforced took full toll on Jepsen, as he transitioned to the back from half guard, quickly sunk in hooks and the choke to yield a tap. He looks the real deal, and a well-rounded package with four submission victories on the trot.

Mark Martin def. Tony Grant | TKO (punches) 3:52 Rd 1

A relentless showing from Mark Martin saw him make quick work of Tony Grant in their welterweight clash, taking just under four minutes to improve to 4-1 on his LFA debut.

The 26-year-old has now won three-straight fights and boasts three first round finishes, making him an exciting prospect. He was in on a takedown early, but fell into a successful attempt on his second dig, using it to land heavy ground-and-pound and looking to advance the position.

While Grant was able to get to his feet, Martin maintained the pressure with swarming knees to the body, before a sweet uppercut spelt the beginning of the end. With Grant out on his feet after being momentarily dropped, Martin kept him on the hook and landed heavy shots up top, with another folding knee and more ground-and-pound to his defenceless opponent closing the show.

Jordan Heiderman def. Jacob Heavlin | Decision (split) 28-29, 29-28, 30-27

Heavyweights again kicked off the action at the bottom of the card, with Jordan Heiderman handing Jacob Heavlin his first professional loss by way of a tight split decision. In what was both fighters’ LFA debuts, Heiderman was able to thwart the wrestling advances of Heavlin, and opened up a cut over his eye early, although it didn’t stop the now 1-1 (1) prospect from moving forward.

Both men had their moments on the feet, but seemed unfazed by the others’ power, continuing to get shots off at a high pace. Heiderman’s takedown defence, long punching combinations, and knees to the body got the job done in the face of Heavlin’s volume and pressure, with a late arm triangle attempt perhaps snatching Round 3.

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.

>> UFC Rankings
>> UFC Pound-for-pound

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 1 – Prospects rise as Kattar remains in title hunt

FIGHT ISLAND played host to its first midweek UFC Fight Night event on Thursday, headlined by Calvin Kattar‘s unanimous decision victory over Dan Ige in a closely contested main event. All five fights on the main card went the distance after all-bar one of the preliminary matchups lasted less than three rounds.

Lerone Murphy, Khamzat Chimaev, and Modestas Bukauskas all earned performance bonuses for their stoppages, while Mounir Lazzez and Abdul Razak Alhassan produced the fight of the night. However, Alhassan was not awarded his bonus after missing weight earlier in the week, rubbing salt into the wound of his first career loss.

>> SCROLL for the full results.

The headline bout was a tight one, but showcased all of Kattar’s championship credentials as he strengthened heading into the fourth and fifth rounds. Two judges scored the bout 49-46 for the sixth-ranked featherweight, handing him four rounds to Ige’s one, with the consensus being that the Hawaiian stole Round 2.

Kattar is now the only fighter to have earned two wins since the leading promotion’s restart in May, spoiling Ige’s party as the first Contender Series graduate to headline a UFC event. He improves to 22-4 with a fourth win in five outings, snapping Ige’s six-fight win streak in the process.

While Ige’s volume and durability tested his opponent, Kattar boasted the superior power on the feet and was able to land heavily up top in between stuffing all of Ige’s seven takedown attempts. The victor’s jab dictated the pace and direction of the fight, as Ige visibly wore the damage of Kattar’s precise shots on his face.

In the co-main event slot, Tim Elliott showed why he is one of the promotion’s favourites in his high-paced decision victory over Ryan Benoit, who was less than pleased with the outcome. While the nod went unanimously in Elliott’s favour by two rounds to one, there could have been an argument to suggest Benoit had credit in the bank over the first two periods.

Nonetheless, Elliott’s greater time in mount, more active finish, and ability to ride out a tight kneebar attempt in Round 2 earned him a spot back on the winners list. Speaking of, Jimmie Rivera‘s year-long layoff was cut emphatically in his win over Cody Stamann, albeit up at featherweight.

Both men were slightly tentative in pulling the trigger while standing, perhaps due to the short notice and high stakes nature of the bout, but Rivera would land the bigger and more effective shots over the course of three rounds. It was a tight and technical battle, but Rivera had all the answers against an opponent he respected highly.

Two of the more impressive performances of the night belonged to Taila Santos and Lazzez, who jerked the curtain for the main card with respective decision wins. Santos looked a much improved fighter compared to her last bout, where she suffered a maiden professional loss.

The Brazilian dominated Molly McCann in every facet, using her length to advantage while punishing the advancing Englishwoman with brutal knees from the clinch and superb grappling technique. Her skillset was much too diverse in the end, and may well earn her a number come next week.

Lazzez showcased a similarly brilliant and well-rounded skillset in his enthralling bout with Alhassan, made to resist an early onslaught by the Ghanaian in order to get his own game going. In taking the early punishment, Lazzez was able to bring Alhassan into unknown territory past Round 1, while picking him apart with a clinical array of strikes to arguably take out all three rounds.

MAIN CARD RESULTS:

Calvin Kattar [6] def. Dan Ige [10] | Decision (unanimous) 49-46, 49-46, 48-47

Tim Elliott [13] def. Ryan Benoit | Decision (unanimous) 29-28, 29-28, 29-28

Jimmie Rivera [8] def. Cody Stamann [9] | Decision (unanimous) 30-27, 30-27, 29-28

Taila Santos def. Molly McCann [15] | Decision (unanimous) 30-27, 30-27, 30-27

Mounir Lazzez def. Abdul Razak Alhassan | Decision (unanimous) 30-27, 30-27, 29-28

PRELIMINARY CARD RESULTS:

Khamzat Chimaev def. John Phillips | Submission (D’Arce choke) 1:12 Rd 2

Lerone Murphy def. Ricardo Ramos | TKO (punches) 4:18 Rd 1

Modestes Bukauskas def. Andreas Michailidis | TKO (elbows) 5:00 Rd 1

Jared Gordon def. Chris Fishgold | Decision (unanimous) 30-26, 30-26, 30-26

Liana Jojua def. Diana Belbita | Submission (armbar) 2:43 Rd 1

Jack Shore def. Aaron Phillips | Submission (rear-naked choke) 2:29 Rd 2