UFC International Fight Week is almost upon us and, following the list of fights not to miss for July, we now focus our attentions entirely on Las Vegas and the events of the week to come. Without further ado, let us dive straight into it.
1.) July 7th, UFC Fight Night 90 – Joseph Duffy vs Mitch Clarke
The first of three events in consecutive days for UFC International Fight week takes place on July 7th and gets the ball rolling very nicely. Opening the main card will be a lightweight bout between Joseph Duffy and Mitch Clarke. Duffy has impressed in his 3-fight stint in the UFC so far, even in defeat to Dustin Poirier in his most recent outing. Prior to that, he earned consecutive finishes, defeating Jake Lindsey by TKO and submitting Ivan Jorge in a victory that earned him Performance of the Night honours. “Irish Joe” will look to get back to winning ways and kick off International Fight week with a bang. His opponent, Mitch Clarke, will be looking to use the fight to turn his own fortunes around. Having lost a decision to Michael Chiesa in April of 2015, Clarke was pencilled in to return to action in his home town of Saskatoon later that year. However, a gruesome injury caused by an acupuncture needle embedding itself in his arm muscle required surgery and scuppered those plans. In the true spirit of International Fight Week, it is a battle of Ireland vs Canada at lightweight and it should provide great entertainment to fight fans.
2.) July 8th, The Ultimate Fighter 23 Finale – Ross Pearson vs Will Brooks
To The Ultimate Fighter Finale now and one of the most anticipated UFC debuts in recent history. The man who vacated the Bellator lightweight title just last month to sign for the UFC, Will Brooks, makes his bow for the promotion. Holding a professional record of 18 – 1 with 10 of those wins coming by way of a finish, Brooks has built up an impressive record with wins over the likes of Marcin Held, Alexander Sarnavskiy and twice over Michael Chandler. The 29-year-old has completed his dream move to the UFC now, but Ross Pearson is planning to turn that dream into a nightmare on July 8th. The man from Sunderland, England is a veteran of the UFC, having amassed 19 fights for the promotion which included winning the ninth season of The Ultimate Fighter. Despite wins over Paul Felder, Gray Maynard and Sam Stout among others to his name, Pearson heads into the fight with Brooks as the betting underdog, but will relish the chance to prove everyone wrong. This is without doubt a fight that every MMA fan should be looking forward to greatly.
3.) July 9th, UFC 200 – Diego Sanchez vs Joe Lauzon
The biggest card in UFC history takes centre stage now, and it would be plain wrong not to include the hot favourite for Fight of the Night honours on this list. Between Diego Sanchez and Joe Lauzon, there are 13 Fight of the Night bonuses, 7 Performance of the Night bonuses and an incredible 4 UFC Fight of the Year winners. That alone is reason enough to mark this one down as must watch MMA. Sanchez and Lauzon are both long-time UFC veterans, and it is somewhat of a surprise that their paths have not crossed sooner. The two men love a brawl and seem to be at their very best when the blood starts to flow, but there is much more to them than that, as both are incredibly skilled in all aspects of MMA. The strength and depth of quality fights on the UFC 200 card means this bout headlines the UFC Fight Pass exclusive preliminary portion of the night and subscribers can expect to get their money’s worth and more from this fight. Time to ensure you have that Fight Pass subscription renewed.
4.) July 9th, UFC 200 – Cat Zingano vs Julianna Peña
Another fight from UFC 200, and this time we head to the women’s bantamweight division for a match that could very well decide who will receive the next title shot. Cat Zingano has already had a crack at UFC gold, but that 14 second loss to Ronda Rousey is certainly not indicative of her abilities. In fact, that remains the only loss of Zingano’s professional MMA career to date and an interesting side note is that she currently holds UFC victories over both fighters in the women’s bantamweight title fight which will take place later on in the night between Miesha Tate and Amanda Nunes. Should Zingano emerge victorious on July 9th, that would be a useful bargaining chip for her in title fight negotiations. However, Julianna Peña is hungry for her first title shot and has no intention of being anyone’s stepping stone. The first female winner of The Ultimate Fighter has a perfect 3 – 0 record in the UFC and has finished all but 1 of her 7 professional wins. Peña has been increasingly vocal about her ambition to fight for the belt and a win over former challenger Cat Zingano may very well see her earn that right. Which of these fierce competitors will take a giant stride towards the gold strap they covet? At UFC 200, that question will be answered.
5.) July 9th, UFC 200 – Brock Lesnar vs Mark Hunt
One last fight, fittingly once again from UFC 200, and probably the most predictable entry on this list as former UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar makes his return to the promotion against “The Super Samoan” Mark Hunt. Just a few short weeks ago, this fight existed purely in the realms of fantasy, but on July 9th it will become reality. Lesnar, of course, needs no introduction. The man who TKO’d Randy Couture to win the UFC heavyweight title in 2008 is back and he has a point to prove after ending his MMA career on a bum note with successive first round losses to Cain Velasquez and Alistair Overeem. Mark Hunt, however, possesses what many believe to be the kryptonite to Lesnar’s Superman – powerful striking. And they do not come much more powerful than Hunt, who has become famous for his “walk-off knockouts”, with Frank Mir, Roy Nelson and Stefan Struve among those on his hit list. The consensus is that Hunt holds a massive advantage on the feet, whereas the fight enters Lesnar’s world if he gets Hunt to the mat. Whatever the outcome, the eyes of the world will be firmly on the octagon for UFC 200’s co-main event.
So there we have it, five MMA fights not to miss during the UFC’s International Fight Week. Do you agree with the list? Is there any other fight in particular you are looking forward to this month? Get in touch and let us know on Twitter @MMALatestNws or contact me personally @KeefeMcKenna.
Felice Herrig vs. Karolina Kowalkiewicz in the works for UFC 223
UFC 223 looks to add a variety of intriguing bouts. With Paul Felder vs. Al Iaquinta reportedly set for the unannounced UFC 223 card, the promotion looks to add a high stakes female flyweight match-up. According to MMANYTT.com, sources confirmed a bout between Felice Herrig and Karolina Kowalkiewicz, is in the works for the pay-per-view card.
Assuming the match-up does come to be, both women have much to gain from a victory. For Herrig, she currently sits on a four-fight win streak. A streak in which the strawweight contender defeated Kailin Curran, Alexa Grasso, Justine Kish, and Cortney Casey. The MMA veteran, Herrig, began fighting professionally in 2009. As of late, her issues with the marketing machine that is the UFC have intensified.
After demonstrating her technical prowess over Justine Kish at UFC Fight Night 122: Chiesa vs. Lee, Herrig put her emotions on display. She stated at the post-fight media scrum, “Sometimes, I feel like, I’m not young and beautiful enough for the UFC to want to promote me. And it’s sad because I’ve really worked so hard to be here and it’s hard to see these people who’ve not been through what I’ve been through. Who just got into the UFC at the right time. They’re getting all these opportunities and I see how hard I work to get here and it’s just like, it doesn’t matter. I just feel like, ‘I’m not pretty enough and I’m not getting any younger'”.
A frustrated Felice Herrig then spoke to MMAJunkie.com in December. She claimed, “Aside from (former UFC women’s strawweight champ) Joanna (Jedrzejczyk), I’m the only strawweight who’s gone on a four-fight winning streak. That’s a fact. At this point, I want to fight someone in the top 10. It doesn’t really make sense for me to keep fighting girls that are ranked below me. That’s the whole point. If I want to keep working my way up. I fight the most dangerous girls outside the top 10”. The #9 ranked women’s flyweight has a point. In her UFC career, she recorded one loss in six appearances. Yet, she has one co-main event booking, while fighters like Michelle Waterson, booked the main event in her second UFC bout. In Waterson’s third bout, she received a co-main event scheduling. Understandably, Felice Herrig is upset with her situation.
Later in her interview, Herrig brought up Kowalkiewicz as a potential next opponent. “For whatever reason, I really want to fight Karolina. I just think that would be an exciting fight… Stylistically, I really like that fight. She’s ranked above (me), and it may be a good gauge for me,” she stated. Right now, it looks like Herrig is close to getting what she wants.
Kowalkiewicz last fought in her native country of Poland on the UFC Fight Pass card, UFC Fight Night 118: Cowboy vs. Till, in October. The Polish star defeated Jody Esquibel, after losing consecutive contests to former UFC female strawweight champion, Joanna Jedrzejcyk and Claudia Gadelha, respectively.
A win for either makes a good case for the next or an eventual title challenger. Kowalkiewicz holds a victory over current division champion, Rose Namajunas. While a win for Herrig would further establish her impressive win streak and undoubtedly give her the boost in the rankings she deserves.
Douglas Lima found out about change to co-main event at Bellator 192 from the internet
Bellator 192 fight card has gone through a shake-up over the past week. Bellator president Scott Coker revealed last week that the scheduled welterweight title fight between Rory MacDonald and champion Douglas Lima will now be serving as the co-main event and the heavyweight matchup between Chael Sonnen and Rampage Jackson would instead take top billing. At the time no explanation was made for the change. Monday Douglas Lima was a guest on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani to discuss this change.
“I was little bummed, but it is what it is, it’s business you know. I was pretty excited you know? Being the main event, having Rampage fight as the co-main event, I was happy there. Then I was bummed out that they changed it back to the co-main event. It’s not going to change a thing for me, I’m just focusing on the fight.”
Lima has been notoriously looked over in the eyes of fight fans. A longtime member of Bellator and a two-time champion has not gotten the notice he deserves and hopes to get.
“I found out through the internet, nobody tells me anything, I didn’t know. the same thing happened in New York, I thought my fight would be before the two main events there, but it ended up being the first fight of the night on Pay-Per-View. Hopefully, it doesn’t take anything away from the fight, you know spotlight and stuff.”
Lima is looking to make all the naysayers take notice at Bellator 192 that takes place at The Forum in Inglewood, Califonia on January 20th.
“This is the fight I’ve been waiting for for a long time. To get my name out there, to get people to know who I am. I’ve been delivering a lot of good fights, fights fans like to watch but no attention yet. I’m hoping though that after a win over Rory this week it will really put my name out there and show all these welterweights out there that I am for real.”
Al Iaquinta vs. Paul Felder rescheduled for UFC 223 in April
MMA fans around the world wept in deep sorrow when Al Iaquinta withdrew from a bout scheduled for UFC 218 against Paul Felder. Weep no more, for Paul Felder faces Al Iaquinta at UFC 223. Rumblings behind the match-up, first reported by FloCombat.com, came Sunday night before MMAFighting.com confirmed the bout scheduled for unannounced pay-per-view card, later in the evening.
The original bout fell through due to a severe knee injury to Iaquinta. He spoke to BJ Penn Radio about the injury nearly a week before the December 2nd, PPV event in Detriot. The Long Island real estate agent claimed, “I tore my PCL and my MCL maybe three or four months ago… for me to really put in a full training camp and do what I need to do, I would’ve had to just focus on fighting and physical therapy… it was the kind of thing where all roads led to me not kind of taking a risk and fighting on December 2nd”.
Iaquinta went on to say, “I kind of accepted the fight, but I never signed a bout agreement… I was kind of told I had to give them an answer pretty quick. It was a fight I thought I really wanted. I thought it was a good stylistic match-up for me, so I accepted the fight, and then thinking about it over the course of a day, we realized it probably wasn’t a smart decision for my health, for everything”.
An outspoken lightweight, he is not the first of his kind. Al Iaquinta is no stranger to idly waiting on the sideline for the UFC to make a move. Contract disputes and other bad strokes of luck left the Serra-Longo with three octagon appearances since 2015. The feud between Iaquinta and the promotion comes as a surprise when looking at the credentials of the aforementioned fighter. With an octagon record of 8-2, he earned notoriety as one of the best lightweights in the world. During his time in the UFC, he defeated Kevin Lee, Ross Pearson, Joe Lauzon, Jorge Masvidal, and most recently Diego Sanchez.
His opponent, “The Irish Dragon”, Paul Felder, holds an impressive UFC record of his own. At 7-3, Felder defeated tough competition as well. His record notes wins over Daron Cruickshank, Jason Saggo, Stevie Ray, and Charles Oliveira. Even more impressive than his record, his knockout ratio. At this stage of his career, Felder knockouts 55% of his opponents (10 knockouts in 18 career pro bouts).
Like his opponent Iaquinta, Paul Felder has a separate career outside of fighting. As many should notice, Felder found a role as a color commentator with the promotion he fights for. Following the footsteps in a long line of fighters before him, Felder announced multiple events alongside another new addition to the UFC broadcast team, Brendan Fitzgerald.
PPV card, UFC 223 and its location are not official yet. Despite a lack of an announcement, the event takes place in Brooklyn, New York at the Barclays Centre, according to multiple reports. Currently, the card features no official bouts. Reports state Felice Herrig vs. Karolina Kowalkiewicz (per Jim Edwards), and Evan Dunham vs. Mairbek Taisumov (per Farah Hannoun) are both in the works for UFC 223.
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