After a relatively quiet month for MMA in June, we come to the cluster bomb that is the MMA world in July. This month, we are going to do something a little different with this article. Due to the volume of events, boosted by the UFC’s massive International Fight Week, this article will deal with 5 MMA fights not to miss EXCLUDING the three International Fight Week cards, with an additional piece on our pick of the fights for those events to come in the build up to those events. That being said, let’s get on with this list.
1.) July 8th, Cage Warriors 77 – Paddy Pimblett vs Teddy Violet
One of England’s big hopes for the future in Paddy Pimblett opens our list with his July 8th clash at Cage Warriors 77 against Teddy Violet. Pimblett currently holds an impressive 10 – 1 record at the tender age of just 21, with 5 submissions and 2 knockouts. Pimblett is one of the great personalities of not only British, but European MMA, and will be hoping to continue his march towards a Cage Warriors featherweight title shot on July 8th. Standing in his way will be another young European fighter in 24-year-old Teddy Violet. The Frenchman has a similar record to Pimblett at 10 – 2, also with 5 submissions and 2 knockouts. Violet fights in Cage Warriors for the first time after a brief stint with World Series of Fighting and is without doubt the stiffest test of Pimblett’s career so far. Which one of these promising Europeans will leave Cage Warriors 77 with their 11th professional victory? Tune in on July 8th to find out.
2.) July 16th, Bellator 158 – James Gallagher vs Mike Cutting
Bellator will host their first event in London, England on July 16th and, despite a plethora of issues with the card, there are some intriguing fights to look forward to. SBG Ireland prospect James Gallagher is certainly one of the names to watch on the night. At just 19-years-old, “The Strabanimal” has already compiled a perfect 3 – 0 professional MMA record with 3 first round submission victories. The Irishman is hotly tipped to be a big star in the future and will be looking to improve his fledgling record to 4- 0 in what will be his Bellator debut at Bellator 158. His opponent will be Mike Cutting, a man who is no stranger to submission wins himself, with all 6 of his own professional wins coming by that method. With both men so accomplished in the submission game, it would certainly be no shock to see this fight hit the mat quickly, and if it does, be prepared for these featherweights to steal the show.
3.) July 23rd, UFC on Fox 20 – Francis Ngannou vs Bojan Mihaljovic
Heavyweight Francis Ngannou has just 2 UFC bouts to his name thus far, but he has already emerged as a serious contender to watch in his division. The Frenchman knocked out fellow UFC newcomer Luis Henrique in his debut last December in brutal fashion and followed that up by beating on Curtis Blaydes for two rounds, leaving the doctor with no alternative but to stop the fight as Blaydes eye had completely swollen shut. Ngannou’s striking is crisp, clean and delivered with devastating power, so it is no surprise that his crowd pleasing style has become must watch MMA. His opponent at UFC on Fox 20 will be Bojan Mihaljovic, a Serbian also known for his finishing capabilities. The two were originally supposed to meet at UFC Zagreb, but Mihalkovic was forced to withdraw, resulting in Ngannou’s aforementioned fight with Blaydes. After losing the first 3 fights of his professional career, Mihaljovic has gone on a 10-fight tear, finishing 6 of his opponents along the way to signing with the UFC. At UFC on Fox 20 we could see the continued rise of one of the most feared heavyweight contenders in Ngannou, or we could see Mihaljovic steal his considerable hype and put it firmly behind himself. Either way, it seems likely that the judges will not be required.
4.) July 29th, Invicta FC 18 – Megan Anderson vs Peggy Morgan
Invicta FC host their 18th event on July 29th in its familiar home of Kansas, which is also now the home of Australian featherweight star, Megan Anderson. Anderson has impressed in her most recent 2 fights under the Invicta banner, earning TKO stoppages of both Amber Leibrock and Amanda Bell, the latter of which earned her Performance of the Night honours. Anderson is just 26-years-old and is viewed as a potential challenger to current Invicta FC featherweight champion, Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino. However, the popular Aussie has a tough hurdle to overcome on July 29th in Peggy Morgan. Morgan was featured on the first ever all-female series of The Ultimate Fighter in 2013 and is a 3-fight Invicta veteran. In Anderson, Morgan faces a high-profile opponent on her Invicta return following a win over Jessica Miele at CES 30, and a win on July 29th would mark a huge statement of intent from the 36-year-old.
5.) July 30th, UFC 201 – Rose Namajunas vs Karolina Kowalkiewicz
Rounding off the list we have a women’s strawweight bout that will likely see the next number 1 contender for UFC gold decided as Rose Namajunas takes on unbeaten the unbeaten Pole, Karolina Kowalkiewicz. Namajunas is one of the more popular figures in the division and is currently riding a 3-fight winning streak. Those wins for the TUF 20 finalist were over the now-Invicta FC strawweight champion Angela Hill, Tecia Torres and a Performance of the Night winning fifth round submission of Paige VanZant. At just 24, many see Namajunas as the future of the division. However, the same could be said about Karolina Kowalkiewicz. Having come into the UFC with a perfect 7 – 0 record, the Polish strawweight has reeled off consecutive decision victories over TUF 20 competitors Randa Markos and Heather Jo Clark. A win over another TUF 20 alum in Rose Namajunas could very easily set her up for a potential all-Polish UFC title fight with current champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk, should she also get by Claudia Gadelha. The UFC’s female fighters, particularly in the 115 pound division, are renowned for putting on a show, and this one could very easily end up being the Fight of the Night.
So there we have it, five MMA fights not to miss in July. 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 tell me personally @KeefeMcKenna.
Bellator 194, Nelson vs. Mitrione Pre-Fight Notes
Bellator takes over the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut later tonight. The promotion hosts, Bellator 194: Nelson vs. Mitrione from the venue, beginning at 6:30 pm (ET). Bellator 194 marks the 17th trip to the Mohegan Sun Casino. Their last trip, took place a little more than a few months ago in October of 2017, Bellator 185. The first trip to the Connecticut casino, occurred all the way back in April of 2009, and the second ever event held by the promotion, Bellator 2.
Twenty four fighters will make the walk later tonight, giving fans 12 bouts to watch from prelims to main event. Of the 24 athletes set to compete, five make their professional debuts. Peter Nascimento, Mike Kimbel, Pat Casey, Ross Richardson, and Ronnie Leon all fight for the first time, professionally. As amateurs, the group holds a combined record of 18-12. Only Ross Richardson maintained an undefeated amateur record (3-0).
In recent cards past, only some full broadcasts brought forward newly professional fighters. Events such as Bellator 191, 190, and 187, only broadcast short main card. While events like 193, 192, 189, 188, and 186 broadcast full fight cards. Since November of 2017, 15 fighters made their pro debuts with the Bellator promotion. Including Khonry Gracie in his unanimous decision loss to Devon Brock (Bellator 192), and Ty-wan Claxton, in his amazing KO finish of Johnny Bonilla-Bowman in the first round of Bellator 186. Claxton makes his second pro appearance tonight at Bellator 194 against Jose Antonio Perez, whom also fights for the second time professionally.
Upon completion of Bellator 194’s broadcast, 50% of the promotions first round matches in their Heavyweight Grand Prix will be decided. It is nearly impossible to choose, one match-up more interesting than the others. Yet, the Mitrione vs. Nelson match up is not only puzzling to fans and media alike. One half of the main event, at least, was once annoyed by the prospect of fighting his former TUF cast mate. Mitrione spoke to MMAJunkie about his reaction to the match-up, “Well, I asked them, how does that make sense? Roy is arguably the #2 guy in the division… Explain that to me, is there any seeding?…” He continued, “But the more I thought about, the less I really cared. Either I beat Roy when I have the strap, or I beat Roy to get the strap. What the hell difference does it make?”
In one bit of event news, fan favorite flyweight, Heather Hardy missed weight, in what turned out to be an odd set of circumstances. According to Hardy, she believed she made weight, without stripping down and using the towel. It was her understanding that the Mohegan Tribe Department of Athletic Regulation gave her a weight allowance for the bikini top and bottom she wore while on the scale. Hardy weighed in at 126.25 lbs. with the aforementioned bikini top and bottom.
This understanding was not shared by president of Mohegan Tribe Department of Athletic Regulation, Mike Mazzulli. The president made the decision to record Hardy’s weight without allowing her to disrobe, or take use the extra two hours allotted to make weight. It was his understanding upon examining and attempting to communicate with Hardy whilst she stood on the scale that brought him to the decision. After renegotiation of the bout agreement, Hardy was fined 20% of her purse which goes to her opponent Ana Julaton.
Bellator 194 Weigh Ins Live Video
Bellator 194 takes place Friday, February 16th at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. The stacked main card features the second bout in the Bellator Heavyweight Grand Prix matching Roy Nelson against Matt Mitrione. Both former members of the UFC roster, Mitrione and Nelson look to make a further impact in the Bellator Heavyweight division with a potential step towards the divisions championship crown. In the co-main event, MMA veteran Patricky Pitbull takes Derek Campos. The two will most likely battle for the next shot at the promotions Lightweight title, following the Brent Primus (c) vs. Michael Chandler rematch. Other notable bouts on the card include Liam McGeary vs. Vadim Nemkov, Heather Hardy vs. Ana Julaton, and Tywon Claxton against Jose Antonio Perez. Bellator 194 airs live on the Paramount network, main card beginning at 9 pm.
The official weigh-ins took place earlier today, the results are listed below.
Main Card (9 PM ET, Paramount Network)
Roy Nelson (23-14) vs. Matt Mitrione (12-5) Heavyweight bout.
RN: 265 lb.
MM: 255 lb.
Patricky Freire (18-8) vs. Derek Campos (19-6) Lightweight bout.
PF: 155 lb.
DC: 154 lb.
Heather Hardy (1-1) vs. Ana Julaton (2-3) Women’s Flyweight bout.
HH: 126.25 lb*
AJ: 125 lb.
Liam McGeary (12-2) vs. Vadim Nemkov (8-2) Light Heavyweight bout.
LM: 203.75 lb.
VN: 205 lb.
Tywan Claxton (1-0) vs. Jose Antonio Perez (0-1) Featherweight bout.
TW: 145 lb.
JS: 142.25 lb.
Preliminary Card (7 PM ET)
Ross Richardson (3-0, Amateur) vs. Ronie Arana Leon (2-5, Amateur) Lightweight bout.
RS: 155.5 lb.
RL: 156 lb.
Mike Kimbel (4-4, Amateur) vs. Geoffrey Then (0-1) Bantamweight bout.
MK: 135.75 lb.
GT: 135 lb.
Regivaldo Carlvalho (4-2) vs. Thomas English (6-8) Featherweight bout.
RC: 145 lb.
TE: 146 lb.
Jarod Trice (2-0) vs. Walter Howard (3-4) Light Heavyweight bout.
JT: 205.5 lb.
WH: 203 lb.
Marcus Surin (4-1) vs. Dean Hancock (3-1) Lightweight bout.
MS: 156 lb.
DH: 155.25 lb.
Peter Nascimento (2-1, Amateur) vs. Kastriot Xhema (1-1) Catchweight (165 lb.) bout.
PN: 163.5 lb.
KX 164.5 lb.
Tyler Hamilton (1-0) vs. Pat Casey (7-2, Amateur) Lightweight bout.
TH: 154 lb.
PC: 155.5 lb.
*Heather Hardy missed weight by ¼ of a pound and subsequently fined 20% of her purse. The fine will go to her opponent Ana Julaton.
Exclusive: Saad Awad looking for the quick knockout at Bellator 193
Saad Awad makes his return to the Bellator cage Friday as he takes on JJ Ambrose.
The veteran Awad has been with Bellator since 2013, amassing a 9-5 record in the process, with five of those wins coming via knockout. Impressive wins against Will Brooks and Evangelista Santos feature on his 21-9 record.
The heavy-handed striker gets to fight in his backyard of California for the first time in over a year. A native of San Bernardino, Awad is fighting only forty-five minutes from his home, in the co-main event no less.
“It’s great,” Awad told MMA Latest about co-main eventing in California. “I’m about forty-five minutes from my house, the arena sold out the week they released the tickets. So I know a lot of people are going to be here and the energy’s going to be really good, it’s going to be great, and it’s going to help me mentally.”
Meeting Awad in the co-main is a fellow California native himself, JJ Ambrose. Ambrose has been fighting since 2005 and has amassed 26 wins in his 13-year career.
“He’s a veteran, he kind of flew under the radar,” Awad said. “He’s fought all over the place. I think he brings a lot of experience, a good solid stand-up, and ground game, and wrestling.”
Although Awad highlighted Ambrose’s quality, make no mistake, the “Assassin” believes he holds all the advantages.
“I match-up with him great, to be honest, I think my striking is a little bit better, I think I hit a lot harder and my jiu-jitsu’s going to be a bit better, and I’m going to be able to outwrestle him,” Awad explained. “So I think stylistically it’s a bad matchup for him.”
Awad is coming off of a quick KO, one minute, seven seconds, over Zach Freeman. The quick win didn’t come as a surprise to Awad as he always expects to finish his opponents quickly.
“I mean, not be cocky, but I expect to get a quick KO against everybody,” Awad said. “When I don’t get a quick KO then I’m like ‘okay something’s wrong’ so then I have to change my gameplan up. So nothing against Zach Freeman, I mean, every fight I go in there looking for the quick knockout.”
Currently, on a solid two-fight winning streak, Awad highlights what exactly the key’s been for him to get this far.
“Honestly, I’ve just been training a lot,” Awad said. “I’ve just been training and focusing a lot on little details that I knew were my flaws, and every fight I’ll keep something new. If I see something go wrong in one of my fights, I’ll tweak that out and train it and get a little bit better and then just try and keep improving.”
With a win taking Awad to three victories in a row, it would make sense to offer the veteran a big fight. But Awad doesn’t have a name in mind next, although he doesn’t believe it would matter anyway.
“Whoever they give me,” Awad said. “I can ask for fights but they won’t give them to me. “My only thing is trying to get a title fight, I’m not even going to ask for that anymore. I’m going to ask them to keep me busy. I just want to stay busy. I get paid the same no matter who I fight so as long as they keep me busy, that’s what I’m happy for.”
As for 2018, Awad’s goals remain simple.
“Keep winning,” Awad said. “Stay busy and keep winning.”
If things go the way Awad expects, fans are in for a treat. As for Ambrose? Not so much.
“I’m going to go in there and leave with a knockout, a violent knockout,” Awad said. “Get my hand raised, talk some shit, and leave.”
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