Tag: sean o’malley

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

 

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.

UFC Rankings update: May-June 2020

THE UFC has resumed full-time operations and with it comes the ever-changing rankings landscape. Four events have gone down since the promotion’s emphatic return at UFC 249 on May 9, with the only belt to change hands that of the interim lightweight strap belonging to Justin Gaethje. Among the big winners have been Gilbert Burns, Glover Teixeira, and Alistair Overeem, while their opponents all suffered drops down the rankings. The full, updated UFC rankings can be found here, and pound-for-pound list, here with changes soon to come after the weekend’s event.

HEAVYWEIGHT (206-265lbs)

Augusto Sakai ⬆️ [10]
Blagoy Ivanov ⬇️ [15]

Sakai’s co-main event decision victory over Ivanov saw him jump three places into 10th spot, while the Bulgarian slid the same amount to number 15 as the last of the ranked heavyweights. A random shuffle saw former champion Junior dos Santos move down to fifth, leaving Derrick Lewis clear in the number four spot. Those ranked 11-14 also moved around the two active men, with the MMA community now eagerly awaiting a trilogy fight between Stipe Miocic and Daniel Cormier at the top.


WELTERWEIGHT (170lbs)

Gilbert Burns ⬆️ [1]
Tyron Woodley ⬇️ [4]

The big story to come out of the welterweight division was Burns’ rise to number one contendership, leapfrogging his opponent in former champion, Woodley, and the likes of Jorge Masvidal, Colby Covington, and Leon Edwards. The Brazilian earned a title shot against Kamaru Usman with his dominant decision victory, and it remains to be seen whether Conor McGregor, who swapped places with Anthony Pettis down to number 15, will be removed upon his shock retirement.


LIGHTWEIGHT (155lbs)

Justin Gaethje ⬆️ [IC]
Beneil Dariush ⬆️ [14]
Drew Dober ⬆️ [15]

The big risers at 155 pounds were Darisuh and Dober, who each earned berths in the rankings of late. Most recently, Dober’s eye-catching TKO of former ranked lightweight Alex Hernandez earned him a spot, while stretching his win streak out to three. Random shuffles saw the aforementioned pair land at 14 and 15 respectively, while Donald Cerrone swapped places with Islam Makhachev to move to 12th, and the McGregor situation makes for some confusion at the top. Of course, Gaethje earned a title unification bout with Khabib Nurmagomedov after defeating perennial contender, Tony Ferguson at UFC 249.


FEATHERWEIGHT (145lbs)

Calvin Kattar ⬆️ [6]
Dan Ige ⬆️ [11]
Arnold Allen ⬇️ [12]

A couple of rising prospects made the most significant leaps at featherweight, with Kattar moving to number six after defeating Jeremy Stephens at a 150-pound catchweight, while Ige continued his impressive run by defeating former lightweight contender, Edson Barboza via split decision. Allen, whose last fight was in January, was level with Ige in 11th spot, but moved one down to 12th in a random restructuring. A rematch between champion Alexander Volkanovski and Max Holloway has also been marked for UFC 251.


BANTAMWEIGHT (135lbs)

There will soon be some division-defining movement at 135-pounds, with three massive bantamweight fights going down on the UFC 250 main card. Number two ranked Aljamain Sterling made yet another claim for his long-awaited title shot by submitting Cory Sandhagen in quick time, but it seems Jose Aldo [6] and Petr Yan [3] will scrap for the vacant belt. Former champ Cody Garbrandt [9] got back to winning ways with a massive knockout of veteran contender Raphael Assuncao [5], while Sean O’Malley pushed his case for a ranking with his own statement KO on the same night.


FLYWEIGHT (125lbs)

Brandon Royval ⬆️ [11]
Tim Elliott ⬇️ [12]
Mark De La Rosa ⬇️ [NR]

Royval is the new prospect on the block, debuting at number 11 in the flyweight rankings after defeating former title challenger, Elliott in a fight of the night scrap on the Woodley vs. Burns undercard. Numbers 12-15, including Elliott were shuffled down, with De La Rosa pushed out of his number 15 spot and thus, the rankings altogether. Alex Perez [9] will also be a big mover having defeated Jussier Formiga [4] on the latest card, with Joseph Benevidez and Deiveson Figueiredo set to rematch for the vacant title.

MENS POUND-FOR-POUND

Francis Ngannou ⬆️ [14]
Dominick Reyes ⬆️ [15]
Tyron Woodley ⬇️ [NR]
Henry Cejudo ⬇️ [NR]

WOMEN’S POUND-FOR-POUND

Nina Ansaroff ⬇️ [15]


WOMEN’S DIVISIONS

There has been no movement in any of the women’s divisions, but that may be soon about to change as flyweights Jessica Eye [1] and Cynthia Calvillo [10 SW] headline the promotion’s upcoming Fight Night. Amanda Nunes of course successfully defender her featherweight belt against Felicia Spencer in the latest PPV event, while number two flyweight Katlyn Chookagian dismantled Antonina Shevchenko [12] in their bout, and Angela Hill was denied a berth in the rankings after losing a tight decision to Claudia Gadelha. Carla Esparza and Sijara Eubanks were other ranked winners, and Mackenzie Dern may find herself among the strawweight numbers after submitting Hannah Cifers in quick time.

RESULTS | UFC 250: Nunes vs. Spencer – The Lioness makes history with divisional sweep

AMANDA Nunes made history on Sunday as the first ever UFC fighter to simultaneously defend two active titles, dominating Felicia Spencer in a one-sided headline bout for the women’s featherweight championship. Nunes looked flawless across the five rounds, showcasing her full range of skills while putting to bed doubts about her cardio.

All eyes were also on the UFC Apex Centre in Las Vegas for a night which would garner huge implications in the bantamweight division, with six high-level 135-pounders featuring on the main card. Of them, Aljamain Sterling, Cody Garbrandt, and Sean O’Malley earned wins befitting of performance of the night bonuses as part of the seven bouts which would not require a full 15 minutes.

Check out all the results from top to bottom, including each decision and a run-down of the main card action.

POTN: Sean O’Malley, Aljamain Sterling, Cody Garbrandt, Alex Perez
FOTN: Nil

MAIN CARD

Amanda Nunes [C] def. Felicia Spencer | Decision (unanimous) 50-44, 50-44, 50-45

Initial thoughts: We are not worthy, and neither is any other female fighter at the moment.

‘The Lioness’ only further extended her lead atop the ladder of women’s MMA greats with one of the more lop-sided championship decision victories in recent times. Nunes was simply dominant in all areas of the fight and somewhat merciful toward the end; but not before showcasing a catalogue of skills ranging from low kicks, to hard punching combos targeting both the head and body, terrific grappling technique and strength, her often forgotten jiu jitsu prowess, and damaging ground-and-pound.

Much of the narrative in the build-up told of Spencer’s main avenue to victory coming through an advantage on the ground. The Canadian would bravely work her way into grappling range but eat some nasty shots for her trouble, eventually becoming gun-shy on the approach. It meant her greatest strength, and supposed only advantage seemed a world away, with Nunes, a BJJ black belt the one to thrive with her wrestling and submission game on the mat in any case.

Despite being cracked on the feet and cut open during multiple exchanges on the ground, Spencer stayed in the fight for the full 25 minutes and was game as anyone, but simply outclassed by a world class fighter who has all the tricks in the book and is on top of her game. A stoppage from referee Herb Dean was the final hurdle for Spencer to manage before riding out to the final bell, as Nunes made a point of further proving her cardio with another well-managed five-round triumph.

Fallout: After cleaning out both divisions of which she champions, Nunes would be well served to wait for a truly worthy contender. Let the current batch fight it out and make a case. In the meantime, bask in the glory of your success.

For Spencer, the thin pickings at 145 pounds mean there is no glaring opportunity for her next either – perhaps a rematch with Megan Anderson for number one contendership?


Cody Garbrandt [9] def. Raphael Assuncao [5] | KO (punch) 4:59 Rd 2

Initial thoughts: It’s good to have you back, Cody.

Former bantamweight champion Garbrandt put his name back in lights with a redemptive knockout victory over perennial veteran contender, Assuncao. Not even the Round 2 bell could save Assuncao from Garbrandt’s lethal combination of speed and power, as ‘No Love’ suckered the Brazilian in with his back to the cage before locking onto his target and unleashing a right hook from hell to bring about the immediate stoppage.

Having split his camp under the tutelage of his regular Team Alpha Male coaches and Mark Henry on the opposite side of the US, Garbrandt looked as measured and composed as he ever has in the octagon. It worked to help him earn his first win since 2016, after suffering the first three defeats of his professional career in succession.

Though renowned for his strength within boxing range, Garbrandt had great success with calf kicks to bruise the legs of his 37-year-old opponents and ensure there would be no way he could match the American’s fleet footedness. Assuncao was patient in not biting on Garbrandt’s feints, but could not resist his punching power once hit having been dropped earlier in the round with the very same right hand.

Face-down knockouts are always ugly, but come from the absolute best shots. This one of Garbrandt’s best, and a mature performance which should put the bantamweight division on notice once again.

Fallout: Billed as the ninth ranked bantamweight coming in, a top five spot should beckon for Garbrandt having taken out the division’s number five.


Aljamain Sterling [2] def. Cory Sandhagen [4] | Submission (rear-naked choke) 1:28 Rd 1

Initial thoughts: Give this man his shot!

Sterling staked his seemingly undeniable claim for a 135-pound title shot with one of the quickest showings of the night, taking out Sandhagen via submission in Round 1. Both men were on strong win streaks coming into the bout, with Sandhagen unbeaten in the UFC, while the number two ranked Sterling had saluted in his previous four outings.

The grappling game of Sterling once again came to the fore as he handed Sandhagen a maiden stoppage loss, immediately closing the distance in the 25-foot octagon and getting to work from an initial clinch. Sterling would slip to the back and get hooks in as the two hit the mat, before slotting his arm around the jaw of his opponent to threaten the rear-naked choke. After an adjustment to the first attempt, Sterling got under the chin of Sandhagan to yield a last-second tap before the American went out.

Fallout: There was simply a great intensity to Sterling’s game and he looked to be on a mission, with the proposed Yan-Aldo fight for bantamweight gold now surely up in the air given his run.


Neil Magny def. Anthony Rocco Martin | Decision (unanimous) 30-27, 30-27, 29-28

Initial thoughts: 30-27? That ain’t it.

The first decision of the main card came at welterweight, as awkward cardio machine Magny edged Martin via unanimous decision. While Magny was awarded two 30-27 scorecards, the bout was far closer in reality with Martin faring well across the first two rounds to put up a case for taking either of them. Magny undeniably won the third though, sealing consecutive wins for the year.

Martin was smart to close the distance early against his tall and lean opponent, pushing a decent pace against the far more measured output of Magny. It seemed Magny continually had answers for Martin’s advances, able to slip out of trouble on the mat while landing a greater volume of strikes in the face of Martin’s bigger shots. After an economical start, Magny poured the pressure on late against a tiring Martin, and earned a tight win to push his case to be reinstated in the welterweight rankings.


Sean O’Malley def. Eddie Wineland | KO (punch) 1:54 Rd 1

Initial thoughts: He’s gonna tell Joe Rogan he love him, isn’t he? (He did).

‘Suga’ O’Malley pulled off one of the most impressive moves of the night, cleanly knocking out inaugural WEC bantamweight champion and grizzled 39-fight veteran, Wineland with as clean a right hand as you are likely to see. The now 12-0 25-year-old is a star in the making and will likely have a number next to his name come Tuesday after inflicting a walk-off KO reminiscent of brick-handed heavyweights like Mark Hunt.

After finding the target with his right hand earlier in the round, O’Malley produced a truely fine set-up to his finish; feigning a right uppercut to bring Wineland’s left hand down and distracting with a left-hand feint, before thumping his right glove down the pipe in what was a picture perfect shot which sat Wineland down. It was one and done, a walk-off, and the finest knockout of the year until Garbrandt inflicted his own violence about an hour later.

Fallout: Get this man a number.

PRELIMINARY CARD

Alex Caceres def. Chase Hooper | Decision (unanimous) 30-27, 30-27, 30-27

In short: There are levels to this game, and Caceres proved as much to the youngest fighter in the promotion with a dominant all-round performance. Hooper is a stud and belongs at the level, but this was a step too far as he was outclassed on the feet against a composed assassin, and unable to get his grappling game going. It wasn’t for a lack of trying though, the kid is game.


Ian Heinisch [13] def. Gerald Meerschaert | TKO (punches) 1:14 Rd 1

In short: If there ever was an ideal way to return to the winners list, this was it. Heinisch justified his ranked status with a huge TKO victory over a credentialed veteran, landing a well-timed overhand right on the end of a level change. He even did a flip to celebrate, the guy is a middleweight!


Cody Stamann [12 BW] def. Brian Kelleher | Decision (unanimous) 30-27, 30-27, 30-27

In short: One of the sleepers of the undercard here, with Stamann looking ultra-impressive at 145-pounds. Fighting in the wake of the loss of his brother, the American was solid in all areas of the fight against a game competitor who constantly moved forward. Stamann insists his future is at bantamweight, where he is ranked number 12.


Maki Pitolo def. Charles Byrd | TKO (punches) 1:10 Rd 2

Pitolo needed just over six minutes to pull off an impressive TKO victory over Byrd, who at 36 years old retired after the fight. The Hawaiian looked great having moved up from welterweight, landing hard combinations up top in between some back-and-forth grappling exchanges in Round 1.

Some early pressure from Pitolo in Round 2 was enough to but Byrd away, punching through his compatriot’s guard both to the head and body before landing a beautiful takedown and finishing with heavy ground-and-pound. It would be the first octagon victory for the man dubbed ‘Coconut Bombz’.

EARLY PRELIMINARY CARD

Results:

Alex Perez [9] def. Jussier Formiga [4] | TKO (leg kick) 4:06 Rd 1

Devin Clark def. Alonzo Menifield | Decision (Unanimous) 30-27, 29-28, 29-28

Herbert Burns def. Evan Dunham | Submission (rear-naked choke) 1:20 Rd 1

Card preview – UFC 248: Adesanya vs. Romero

TWO UFC belts are one the line for the second time in 2020 at UFC 248, as Israel Adesanya and Weili Zhang take to the octagon for their first respective title defences. The enigmatic Nigerian gets his wish in facing middleweight boogeyman Yoel Romero, while Chinese star Zhang faces her toughest challenge yet in legendary strawweight Joanna Jedrzejczyk. The two title fights hold up a card bereft of ranked fighters, but featuring a fun mix of promotional staples and prospects to keep an eye on, making it a card not to be missed.

MAIN CARD:

Middleweight | Israel Adesanya [C] vs. Yoel Romero [3]

Ask and you shall receive – that is exactly the case for UFC middleweight champion Adesanya as he readies for his maiden title defence against the ‘Solider of God’, Romero in the UFC 248 headliner. Obsessed by cementing his legacy in the sport and proving naysayers wrong, the Nigerian hand-picked arguably the worst stylistic match-up possible – not to mention the man almost every other middleweight would be keen to avoid – in Romero, with the Cuban’s freakishly explosive athleticism and Olympic level wrestling pedigree making him a scary proposition.

Despite his fabled nature the 42-year-old is still human, highlighted by three losses in his last four bouts and failure to make weight for two previous title bouts. Given his 198lbs figure a week out from the fight, that factor could well come into play once again. But the veteran’s ability to lull his opponents into a false sense of security has been one of his craftiest tricks over the years, exploding at the unlikeliest of times to come up trumps on the big stage. Romero’s second official shot at UFC gold should bring the best out of him after consecutive losses, with time running out on his championship window.

That is something which has only recently opened for Adesanya who, like Romero, has expanded on his expertise in one discipline (kickboxing) to become a world class mixed martial artist in quick time. Much of ‘Stylebender’s’ justification for this bout has come from a desire to prove his quality as an all-round martial artist rather than a pure striker, with the greatest grappler at 185lbs no greater opponent to test those skills against. As cognitively dynamic as they come, Adesanya will have to be weary of Romero’s tricks and ready for that next-level athleticism, as it could spring at any moment.

While some would pitch this fight as somewhat of a foregone conclusion given Romero’s downfalls at the final hurdle, the Cuban is the perfect embodiment of the old saying that anything can happen in this sport, and that’s the beauty of this match-up. The purity of each man’s skill in opposing disciplines also makes it intriguing, and it will be a matter of whether Romero can successfully impose his grappling game on Adesanya, and whether the champion can withstand the varying threats to counter with his own game. Adesanya wants a finish, and it would take something special to become the first man to do so in Romero’s UFC career.

Prediction: Adesanya via decision.

Women’s Strawweight | Zhang Weili [C] vs. Joanna Jedrzejczyk [4]

Asian superstar Weili Zhang makes her own maiden title defence against former strawweight queen, Joanna Jedrzejczyk in Sunday’s co-main event, with the Polish challenger looking to reclaim her belt at the second time of asking. The greatest strawweight of all time needs no introduction, and is poised to hand the current champion her toughest challenge yet.

Since being dethroned by ‘Thug’ Rose Namajunas in 2017 and falling short in the rematch five months later, Jedrzejczyk has earned her way back to the challenger spot on the back of two impressive wins at 115lbs – albeit against opponents further down the pecking order. A loss to Valentina Shevchenko for the flyweight strap spilt the defeats, but the Pole’s status as the winningest strawweight in UFC history to go with five title defences counts for a lot as she edges ahead of three other worthy contenders for another shot at UFC gold.

Zhang is one top-end strawweight who Jedrzejczyk is yet to share the octagon with, and thus throws up a completely fresh challenge for the 32-year-old Muay Thai practitioner. The UFC’s first-ever Chinese champion may have less UFC outings that her opponent has title bouts, but a 20-fight win streak points toward all the experience she needs to match it with a future hall of famer like Jedrzejczyk. Zhang’s clinical finish of Jessica Andrade to win claim the title was indicative of her power on the feet, but her dominant grappling means she will bring a well-rounded game to the octagon.

Both fighters are able to push the pace in different ways, with Jedrzejczyk’s technical volume striking wilting the will of many an opponent, while Zhang’s swarming pressure in the transitions adds to her undeniable knockout power. Given both women have only been finished once each in their careers, it may take something special to end the bout on either side, so expect more of a war of attrition whether the fight plays out up top or on the mat. Jedrzejczyk will back herself to find Zhang’s chin, it is just whether she can do so continually with the Chinese star coming the other way.

Prediction: Zhang via decision.

Lightweight | Beneil Dariush vs. Drakkar Klose

The three-fight win streaks of Beneil Dariush and Drakkar Klose run parallel no longer as the two prime to do battle in the third-last fight of the night. The two were set to meet in June, 2019 at UFC Fight Night 155, but the bout was scrapped due to injury on Dariush’s part.

A formerly ranked prospect, 30-year-old Dariush has gotten back on track over the last 18 months with three impressive wins over dangerous lightweight opponents. Consecutive performance of the night bonuses on the back of nifty submissions have the Iranian poised to make a run back into the numbers, and his black belts in both Brazilian jiu jitsu and muay thai bode well for more success wherever the fight goes.

But Klose is also dangerous on many levels, able to end the fight on the feet but also hailing from a solid grappling background. With both men being forced to overcome slight speed-bumps on their way to the top of a stacked division, this looms as a crucial fight in the long-term journey of their careers. Dariush has the high-end experience despite being a year Klose’s junior, so should fancy himself to capitalise on key moments at every level.

Prediction: Dariush via submission.

Welterweight | Neil Magny vs. Li Jingliang

Journeyman and promotional mainstay Neil Magny makes his awaited return to the octagon against Chinese stud, Li Jingliang, with the latter looking to set the tone for compatriot and good friend, Weili Zhang in this main card slot.

While a reminder of Magny’s experience against some of the greatest welterweights of this generation would be superfluous, he may have to lean on it now more than ever given his extended period away from the cage. The American’s awkward style as a tall and long fighter makes him tough for any challenger, and he will undoubtedly be looking to get right back to his typically active ways to make a run into the rankings once again.

Jingliang’s seven wins in his last eight fights present an ominous proposition however, with his exploits well-known to the southern-hemispheric crowd. The 31-year-old is set for his first fight in the US since 2017, expecting to make good on having two of his three UFC losses away from Asian soil. A dangerous finisher on the feet, many would back Jingliang to make an impact if he can win the range battle, with Magny’s reach troubling for most.

Prediction: Jingliang via T/KO.

Welterweight | Alex Oliveira vs. Max Griffin

Alex ‘Cowboy’ Oliveira will be out to rectify a three-fight losing skid when he faces Max Griffin to open the main card. But the fight looms as a key fight in the careers of both men given Griffin comes in with a 3-5 promotional record having failed to string together consecutive wins overall since 2016.

Nonetheless, this fight should be a fun one to jerk the curtain on the main card as both men are renowned for putting it all on the line with their all-action styles, which earns them considerable points from the promotion’s high-ups (see Griffin’s five-fight contract) and fans alike. Expect both fighters to bang on the feet, with durability no issue and an entertaining bout set to ensue. A tough one to pick.

Prediction: Griffin by T/KO.

PRELIMINARY CARD:

Bantamweight | Sean O’Malley vs. Jose Alberto Quinonez

Key points:

– Popular Contender Series alum, ‘Suga’ Sean returns after over two years out.
– This bout was originally scrapped due to an O’Malley doping violation, re-booked for UFC 247 and then moved to this event.
– Quinonez is 1-1 since the original booking of this fight.
– Quinonez entered TUF at just 3-1, and made it all the way to the final.
– The undefeated O’Malley has a 70 per cent finishing rate.

Prediction: O’Malley via T/KO.

Lightweight | Mark Madsen vs. Austin Hubbard

Key points:

– Madsen is an Olympic and World Championship silver medalist in Greco Roman Wrestling.
– The 35-year-old Dane is 9-0 so far in MMA with three KO’s, submissions, and decisions.
– Both men hold one win each in the UFC
– Hubbard was hospitalised with a rare condition post his maiden UFC win, requiring surgery.

Prediction: Madsen via decision.

Middleweight | Rodolfo Vieira vs. Saparbek Safarov

Key points:

– Vieira is a multiple-time Brazilian jiu jitsu world champion
– This will be the 6-0 Brazilian’s second UFC bout.
– Dagestani wrestler Safarov is 1-2 in the UFC, but coming off his maiden win almost a year ago.
– The fight marks Safarov’s return down to middleweight.

Prediction: Vieira via submission.

Middleweight | Gerald Meerschaert vs. Deron Winn

Key points:

– Winn has been likened to AKA teammate, Daniel Cormier for his wrestling pedigree and size.
– Winn suffered his first loss in MMA last time out, but won his first four MMA bouts via TKO.
– Meerschaert has almost six times the amount of professional fights as Winn (41)
– Both men have fought as high as light heavyweight.

Prediction: Meerschaert via submission.

EARLY PRELIMINARY CARD:

Middleweight | Emily Whitmire vs. Polyana Viana

In 25 or less: Both women will be desperate to turn things around, and can win the fight wherever it goes.

Prediction: Viana via decision.

Bantamweight | Danaa Batgerel vs. Guido Cannetti

In 25 or less: Batgerel boasts a win over Kai Kara-France, but Cannetti comes in the older and stronger man. Tough one.

Prediction: Batgerel via decision.

Combat Hat: The 10 best Contender Series alumni

IT is no secret that Dana White and co. have serious eyes for talent, with organised UFC scouting searches spawning all the way back in 2005 with The Ultimate Fighter, and transitioning into the now-famed Contender Series. The standalone promotion is set to launch in Asia this year, and has already produced an impressive list of alumni. We take a look at the show’s 10 best graduates – in order of appearance – after four featured on Sunday’s UFC 246 card.

Season One:

Sean O’Malley (Week 2) | 10-0/2-0 UFC | Bantamweight

‘Sugar’ Sean O’Malley became an instant fan favourite after his impressive knockout victory in just the second Contender Series edition. His seamless transition into the UFC with two unanimous decision victories worked to immediately justify the new scouting format, and his personality out of the cage only adds to his in-cage appeal and grappling quality. The 25-year-old has already had notable moments in the leading promotion, including a unique post-fight interview with Joe Rogan while lying on the mat in agony due to a fractured foot. His natural progression into the bantamweight rankings has been halted due to doping violations and two subsequent six-month bans, but O’Malley is due to make his long-awaited return against José Alberto Quiñónez at UFC 248.

Dan Ige (Week 3) | 12-2/4-1 UFC | Featherweight

One of the many promising Hawaiian prospects is Dan Ige, who fought his way to a UFC contract by submitting Luis Gomez (no, not Michael Bisping’s mate) in an entertaining Week 3 bout. Despite not earning a contract on the night and coming up short in his official UFC debut, Ige has proved himself worthy of the promotion with four consecutive wins in just over a year, and has notable grappling credentials as a Brazilian jiu jitsu black belt and judo brown belt. Despite his five submission victories, Ige is also capable on the feet having put Mike Santiago away within a minute in his maiden UFC win, while also using those heavy hands to rock Danny Henry before submitting him in style. Next on the agenda is Mirsad Bektic at UFC 247, and a win would go a long way to getting that sought-after ranking next to his name.

Geoff Neal (Week 3) | 13-2/5-0 UFC | Welterweight

The ‘Handz of Steel’ moniker just about does justice to Geoff Neal, who has proven to be the real deal at 170lbs. A well-built athlete with scary knockout power, Neal entered the scene on the Contender Series at middleweight, but since flourished at welterweight to finish four of his five UFC wins and earn the division’s number 11 ranking. While he has not crossed a fellow ranked opponent as of yet, impressive stoppage victories over the likes of Niko Price and Mike Perry of late make him fully deserving of the ranked tag in a talent-rich weight class. He seems to be in a hurry, and with plenty of big names to challenge ahead of him, Neal could be the next big thing at 170lbs with scope to move to 185lbs in time and if need be.

Season Two:

Antonina Shevchenko (Week 3) | 8-1/2-1 UFC | W. Flyweight

The sister of women’s flyweight champion, Valentina Shevchenko, Antonina entered the mixed martial arts realm as an esteemed kickboxer. She was given the chance at a UFC contract after working to a 5-0 professional record, and took it with both hands with a beautiful display of her muay thai pedigree to earn a TKO win via knees to the body. Currently the number 12 ranked women’s flyweight contender, Shevchenko’s run to the top was momentarily halted by a first professional loss to veteran leveller Roxanne Modafferi, but she returned to the winners list with a fight of the night performance against Lucie Pudilova in August, 2019. Her next bout is yet to be announced, but a decent hit-out should be in store for Shevchenko, and her name goes a long way to progressing quickly.

Maycee Barber (Week 5) | 8-1/3-1 UFC | W. Flyweight

A fighter in a hurry, Maycee Barber is hell-bent on bringing ‘The Future’ forward by beating out Jon Jones to become the youngest-ever UFC champion. The 21-year-old has shown plenty since earning a contract during Season Two via vicious elbow strikes, going on to nab finishes in all three of her UFC wins via three different methods. Barber’s physicality and pure meanness inside the octagon has proven too much for many of her opponents, and she gained a heap of respect for her heart upon fighting on with a torn ACL in her first professional loss at UFC 246. Given the injury, fans will have to wait around a year to see the American in action again, with plenty of options ahead for the ninth ranked women’s flyweight star nonetheless.

Edmen Shahbazyan (Week 5) | 11-0/4-0 UFC | Middleweight

One of the brightest middleweight prospects is Edmen Shahbazyan, who fights out of the famed Glendale Fighting Club under Edmond ‘Head Movement’ Tarverdyan. Tarverdyan has trained the 22-year-old since he was a boy, with UFC hall of famer Ronda Rousey one of his former training partners. The fighter of Armenian descent boasts an incredible professional MMA record, going undefeated through 11 bouts with his UFC debut the only one to endure past the first round. Wins over Brad Tavares and Jack Marshman have accelerated the prodigy into ninth in the middleweight rankings, with a top-tenner surely up next unless he opts for a gatekeeper-type opponent. Either way, his technical stand-up game and punching power have proven too much for all 11 opponents, and he is a scary proposition for the future.

Jimmy Crute (Week 6) | 10-1/2-1 UFC | Light Heavyweight

Australian brawler Jimmy Crute is one of three exciting talents to be signed out of the Season Two, Week 6 instalment, fighting to a 2-1 record in the promotion after earning a TKO victory in his Contender Series shot. Fighting under the tutelage of legendary Australian kickboxer Sam Greco, ‘The Brute’ finished two light heavyweight mainstays – Paul Craig and Sam Alvey – within three months of entering the UFC, but came up short on the mat during his first venture into the realm of ranked opponents. After a much-needed break to develop his game, the 23-year-old Victorian is set to fight just his third professional bout overseas when he meets Michał Oleksiejczuk in New Zealand at UFC Fight Night 168. Crute’s heavy hands and tendency to finish fights make him one to watch, possessing a deceptively good ground game to boot.

Sodiq Yusuff (Week 6) | 11-1/4-0 UFC | Featherweight

One who may well find himself among the rankings come Wednesday is Nigeria’s ‘Super’ Sodiq Yusuff, a heavy hitter who has started life in the UFC flawlessly. His 4-0 record to date was extended at UFC 246 with a comfortable decision win over Andre Fili, with the typically dangerous knockout artist serving a reminder of his grappling quality with some accomplished ground work – he started off in a jiu jitsu gym after all. Yusuff did not need a finish in his Contender Series effort to earn a contract, but has since made up for it with two beautiful TKO wins in the top promotion. At 26 years old, Yusuff will soon enter his prime and is perhaps one of the more fearsome prospects given his well-rounded game and obvious avenue to victory – that undeniable power.

Chase Hooper (Week 6) | 9-0/1-0 UFC | Featherweight

The son of Ben Askren (not really), Chase Hooper has proven to be a beneficiary of Dana White’s decision to sign him to a development league contract upon an impressive decision win in his Contender Series shot. Victorious and still undefeated after three more fights outside of the top promotion, Hooper was ultra-impressive in his UFC debut at UFC 245 in dispatching of Daniel Teymur via TKO within the first round. A true modern-day MMA prodigy, Hooper possesses a range of weapons with his splitting elbows, slick ground game and rare range on the feet. There is plenty of time for the 20-year-old to find his feet, but fans will inevitably be eager to see more of ‘The Teenage Dream’ as soon as possible. He may look like a kid, but has a skillset beyond his years.

Brazil:

Johnny Walker (Week 2) | 17-4/3-1 UFC | Light Heavyweight

Another fighter who did not require a finish to impress Dana White, the unique and truly unorthodox Johnny Walker has found a home at number 11 in the UFC light heavyweight rankings. An athletic freak with a crazy knack for early and eye-catching finishes on the feet, the Brazilian was put forward as a prospect who could be the one to dethrone long-time 205lbs champion Jon Jones, but a first round TKO loss to Corey Anderson proved there are levels to the game, and has put Walker back in the pecking order. With a proposed moved to Tristar Gym, Walker will hope to recapture the magic that saw him claim three consecutive T/KO victories upon entering the UFC, and could still be anything.

Other notables:

Casey Kenney 13-1/2-0 UFC

Greg Hardy 5-2-(1)/2-2-(1) UFC

Ricky Simon 15-3/3-2 UFC

Augusto Sakai 14-1/3-0 UFC

Marina Rodriguez 12-0-2/2-0-2 UFC

RESULTS: QUINTET Ultra – Team UFC triumphs in landmark grappling event

IN somewhat a symbolic result, Team UFC triumphed in another entertaining instalment of Kazushi Sakuraba‘s QUINTET grappling event, beating out teams representing the Pride, WEC, and Strikeforce promotions. Check out all the teams and results below, as well as a trio of featured singles matches.

GRAPPLING TEAM SURVIVAL MATCHES:

SEMI FINAL | TEAM PRIDE vs. TEAM UFC (W)

UFC:

Sean O’Malley
Anthony Johnson
Clay Guida
Anthony Smith (C)
Gilbert Burns

PRIDE:

Takanori Gomi
Hector Lombard
Gregor Gracie
Yves Edwards
Kazushi Sakuraba

Sean O’Malley sub. Takanori Gomi (Guillotine)

‘Suga’ Sean showed off some slick submission skills in his opening bout against famed Japanese martial artist, Gomi. After trading collar ties on the feet for the first minute, Gomi looked to wrestle O’Malley to the ground but was shut down well on two occasions. Looking somewhat gassed as time passed, Gomi shot in deep a third time but O’Malley swooped on the guillotine and got the tap at 2:52.

Sean O’Malley sub. by Hector Lombard (Ankle lock)

A mismatch in size but O’Malley, the smaller fighter opted to keep the bout at a full eight minutes. It was another quick one, with ‘Suga’ pulling guard but having it opened with relative ease by Lombard, before the big Cuban grabbed an ankle lock and sat back to get the quick tap. Too big, strong, and slick.

Anthony Johnson drew w/ Hector Lombard

In a wrestling vs. judo matchup, both fighters locked horns on the feet for much of the eight minutes. Johnson shot first but moved straight into a Lombard guillotine, popping his head out shortly after. After a series of standups, shidos and repositions, ‘Rumble’ suffered an eye poke at 6:16 but was okay to continue. He worked a nice takedown into half guard and mount with 30 second left, but ran out of time to work. Double elimination.

Clay Guida sub. by Gregor Gracie (Armbar)

Two experienced foes met in this bout, with Gracie the bigger man coming in – and with a famous name. Gracie pulled guard early and Guida jumped in, with Gracie looking to get high on his opponent with his legs. After a break at 1:55 with Grace not letting Guida stand up, he pulled guard again and swooped on the arm of an aggressive Guida to get the tap.

Anthony Smith drew w/ Gregor Gracie

Another physical mismatch and one Smith would have liked to finish as captain and with Team Pride getting the lead. The taller and heavier man, Smith followed Gracie to the mat as they fought hands for a couple of minutes. After a break, Gracie attempted a kimura and ended up in half guard, looking to mount but being met by a persistent Smith. Gracie grabbed a front headlock but Smith’s defence held up again as he pried the arm away to get into full guard, later escaping having his back taken. Another draw and double elimination, but an active one.

Gilbert Burns sub. Yves Edwards (Rear-naked choke)

A big job was left for arguably the UFC’s best combatant in Burns, coming up first against Edwards – an even physical match-up. Burns immediately looked for the takedown early with a trip but ended up on bottom, continuing to be the aggressor as he locked in a body triangle from the back. Edwards managed to scoot out well but with Burns forcing the issue, ends up in a tricky kneebar attempt. Escaping again, Burns next attacks a kimura but Edwards resists, leaving Burns to scoot around to the back again and get somewhat of a strangle over Edwards’ chin to end the bout at 5:03.

Gilbert Burns dec. Kazushi Sakuraba

In the deciding bout, Burns took on Team Pride captain and QUINTET founder, Sakuraba with the winner taking all. After a minute of jostling on the feet, Burns rushed in for the takedown and landed on top, later getting into side control. Later, Burns would test Sakuraba by passing guard and looking for a toe hold, but the experienced Sakuraba would escape with a grin. A nice trip from Burns late on confirmed he was the aggressor, and saw Team UFC win overall with the decision victory.

SEMI FINAL | TEAM STRIKEFORCE (W) vs. TEAM WEC

STRIKEFORCE:

JZ Cavalcante
Jake Shields
Muhammed Lawal
Gilbert Melendez (C)
Babalu Sobral

WEC:

Chad Mendes (C)
Mark Munoz
Cub Swanson
Glover Teixeira
James Krause

JZ Cavalcante drew w/ Chad Mendes

The explosive WEC captain and famed wrestler, Mendes was first up agains Cavalcante with ‘Money’ coming in having never being submitted in MMA. Both would start by baulking on the feet with Mendes snapping down hard in the clinch. Ever the acrobat, Cavalcante showed his willingness to work with a couple of audacious flying armbar attempts, but to no avail. The match finally hit the mat after three minutes, with Mendes on top but unable to pass guard. Mendes almost gets a leg but runs out of room, and there is a double shido as they both settle on the ground. A true stalemate draw to start, double elimination.

Jake Shields sub. Mark Munoz (Arm triangle)

A grappling and MMA veteran, Shields came in with a 47 lbs deficit but opted to keep the match at eight minutes. The two immediately locked up with Shields looking to pull guard. After a restart and with Munoz on his back, Shields mounted from side control and wrapped up an arm triangle. Munoz survived but had Shields wrap up the same submission after moving to the back, with third attempt from the top eventually yielding the tap at 4:47.

Jake Shields sub. Cub Swanson (Injury/leg lock)

Swanson is always a tough sub and would prove as much while this bout lasted, coming in a smaller fighter but with fresher legs. Shields worked early in Swanson’s guard as they both stayed busy, but Shields was unable to pass. Pulling guard again, Shields enacted another scramble and was looking to force the issue. After isolating Swanson’s left leg and reaping, Swanson turned the wrong way and had his knee pop, claiming fault for the injury and bringing an unfortunate end to the match.

Jake Shields drew w/ Glover Teixeira

This was a mammoth effort from Shields in his third-consecutive match, against a bigger and fresher opponent no less. With Glover advancing first and grabbing a single leg, he worked for an arm triangle on multiple occasions but had Shields provide the perfect defence as he looked to twist from side control. Unable to stay in mount while wrapping up the same submission, Glover’s pressure saw a shido go the way of Shields, but the American survived from the bottom and even attempt a guillotine late on. Double elimination.

Muhammed Lawal sub. by James Krause (Guillotine)

It was all left to super-coach Krause with ‘King Mo’ first in his sights. In a remarkable effort given the size difference and Lawal only needing to survive, Krause managed to get the finish in under a minute. Lawal went for a big lift but had to adjust as Krause wrapped up a guillotine, appearing to tap as Krause let go and the referee stepped in. A bit of a sloppy finish, but good nonetheless for Krause.

Gilbert Melendez drew w/ James Krause

The Team Strikeforce captain was left until last against Team WEC’s best guy, just needing to fight out a draw. Having only been submitted once in MMA, ‘Gilbo’ was always going to be a tough sub and proved just that while also remaining active with his wrestling. Krause had a good chance to finish late on as he locked in the body triangle, but Melendez got back to the feet and it was game over. Team Strikeforce through.

FINAL | TEAM STIKEFORCE vs. TEAM UFC (W)

STRIKEFORCE:
Babalu Sobral
Muhammed Lawal
Gilbert Melendez (C)
JZ Cavalcante
Jake Shields

UFC:
Clay Guida
Anthony Johnson
Sean O’Malley
Anthony Smith (C)
Gilbert Burns

Babalu Sobral drew w/ Glay Guida

In the first match shortened to four minutes due to Sobral’s weight advantage, Guida just had to survive to the finish. In what seemed like a sprint, Sobral pulled guard early and looked to work from there with Guida jumping straight in, doing his best to stall and kill the clock. Sobral had a front headlock late on but Guida rode it out for the draw and double elimination.

Muhammed Lawal drew w/ Anthony Johnson

A match between two high-level wrestlers, this one saw both men vying for position up top. A front headlock from ‘Rumble’ almost saw him run Lawal off stage, with the two constantly running out of room. Another eye poke to Johnson had onlookers a little worried, but the two battled out the eight minutes using every inch of the mat. An improvised kimura and guillotine attempt from ‘King Mo’ in the closing stages was not enough, with another draw and double DQ.

Gilbert Melendez drew w/ Sean O’Malley

This was another impressive showing from ‘Suga’ against a seasoned and tough opponent, with the two battling for grips early. Melendez secured a nice takedown into O’Malley’s closed guard after a couple of minutes, but it ended in an eventual double shido. O’Malley answered ‘Gilbo’s wrestling well after that, even enacting a slick trip and initiating a beautiful scramble in the closing stages. An entertaining draw.

JZ Cavalcante drew w/ Anthony Smith

This was another enthralling battle between the great offence of ‘Lionheart’, and the strong defence of Cavalcante. A sweeping takedown from Smith was shut down as the two ran out of room, with ‘JZ’ continuing his acrobatics in this bout. Smith shot in deep but was met with a guillotine, only to pop out before engaging in some chat. Smith went on to set up a D’Arce choke which looked tight, but Cavalcante fought his way out, with Smith changing to a kimura and then a triangle armbar to no avail. Incredible grappling, but a fourth draw.

Jake Shields dec. by Gilbert Burns

In what was a dream matchup to close the show, arguably the two best grapplers in the entire event met to decide a winner. Burns wheeled around early to land a single leg takedown, working into a body triangle as the two fought hands. Burns enjoyed a lot of top position while having the back early, with a shido on Shields all but closing the show. It proved game over, with Burns grinding out the win in a decision to lead Team UFC to victory.

SINGLES MATCHES:

FREDSON PAXIAO sub. by CRAIG JONES (Rear-naked choke)

DANIELLE KELLY sub. CYNTHIA CALVILLO (Ankle lock)

SUPERFIGHT | ALEKSEI OLEINIK sub. by GORDON RYAN (Knee bar)