May has come and gone, and what a great month for MMA it was. Fans were treated to a veritable feast of high quality, entertaining match-ups from organisations around the world, helped by the sheer volume of events put on. While June is not quite as hectic schedule-wise, there is still plenty to look forward to as I take you through my picks for the 5 fights in June you will not want to miss.
1.) June 4th, Cage Warriors Fighting Championship 76 – Lewis Long vs Andreas Stahl
First, we look to Europe and the returning Cage Warriors Fighting Championship. It was tremendous news for fans of, and fighters involved in European MMA when the company held their first event after over a year of uncertainty this past April, and they will look to build on the success of that show. On this occasion, Graham Boylan and the crew take their brand to Newport, Wales and one of the country’s proudest representatives will be in action on the night as Lewis Long takes on Andreas Stahl. The 27-year-old Welshman is one of the highest ranked fighters in Europe and boasts a professional record of 12 – 3, finishing 9 of those wins. Riding a 5-fight winning streak, Long has hit the accelerator on his career, and has no intentions of slowing up. If the name of his opponent, Andreas Stahl, sounds familiar and you cannot place it, then it is because the Swede is a UFC veteran, going 0 – 2 in his time with the promotion, albeit to tough opposition in Gilbert Burns and Santiago Ponzinibbio. However, prior to that run, Stahl had a perfect 9 – 0 record and fights for the first time since his release. This promises to be an all-action welterweight bout between two fighters with something to prove. UFC Fight Pass subscribers rejoice, because Cage Warriors FC 76 will be broadcast live on the network for your viewing pleasure. Tune in.
2.) June 4th, UFC 199 – Luke Rockhold vs Michael Bisping
When Chris Weidman pulled out of UFC 199 last month through injury, many wondered who the UFC could turn to in order to sell the pay-per-view at such short notice. Step forward Michael “The Count” Bisping. The current UFC middleweight champion, Luke Rockhold, has been an absolute wrecking machine of late, finishing all 5 of his opponents on his current winning run, which includes his 4th round TKO of Chris Weidman to capture his UFC title. Interestingly, another of those opponents was Bisping, who Rockhold looked phenomenal against, earning a second round one-armed guillotine submission victory. However, the Englishman is undeterred by that loss, steadfast in his belief that winning this fight is his “destiny”, that it is his time to hold UFC gold. Since that aforementioned loss to Rockhold, Bisping has won three straight, including a decision win against the longest reigning champion in the division’s history, Anderson Silva. It will be Bisping’s 26th UFC bout and his first title shot. UFC 199 is, as with every UFC pay-per-view card, stacked, but the main event for the UFC middleweight title stands out for a plethora of reasons. Can Luke Rockhold put on a repeat performance of the last time the two met and retain his title, or will Michael Bisping avenge his loss and become the first fighter from the UK to win a UFC belt? Tune in on June 4th to find out.
3.) June 18th, UFC Fight Night 89 – Valérie Létourneau vs Joanne Calderwood
On June 18th from Ottawa, Canada, the UFC will host their second event of the month. Featured on the card will be the first ever women’s flyweight fight in UFC history. The 125 pound division for women has long been called for in the UFC, due to the large weight gap between the existing women’s strawweight and bantamweight divisions. While the UFC have gone on record to say that this is not the founding of a new division, UFC president Dana White has previously stated that women’s flyweight would likely be the next division implemented by the promotion, so this fight could be seen as a sort of trial run for the division. Létourneau is coming off a UFC strawweight title loss to Joanna Jędrzejczyk that saw her drop her first fight in 4 for the UFC. Calderwood was last seen earning a win in front of her home crowd at UFC Glasgow over Cortney Casey, but an injury absence has kept her out of the octagon since. These two women are among the more physically larger women’s strawweights, and the cut to 125 should be much easier on them. This historic first women’s flyweight fight in the UFC is must-see MMA.
4.) June 18th, UFC Fight Night 89 – Rory MacDonald vs Stephen Thompson
This is a fight worthy of a place on any list of this nature. In fact, if I was to pick out just one fight not to miss in June, it would be this one all day long. This is a fight that will most likely determine who will face the winner of Robbie Lawler vs Tyron Woodley for the UFC welterweight title. MacDonald, fighting in his home country of Canada, did lose his most recent fight, but it was in a Fight of the Year with current champion, Robbie Lawler, at UFC 189 last July. “The Red King” was actually ahead on all three judges’ scorecards in that fight before being finished in the final round, and is plotting another run at the belt. Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson, on the other hand, is looking to climb to number one contender status for the first time and can boast a 6-fight winning streak which includes 3 Performance of the Night bonuses in his last 4 fights. Most recently, Thompson had a spectacular showing against former champion Johny Hendricks, dominating the fight before mercifully finishing Hendricks little over three minutes into the fight. The expert striker will be hoping to put those tools to work once again in Ottawa. Both of these men have a rightful reputation for being two of the most exciting fighters, not just in the welterweight division, but in all of MMA, so, in all honesty, you would have to be absolutely out of your mind to miss this fight. Mark it on your calendars and cancel all plans; you know what you are doing on June 18th.
5.) June 24th, Bellator 157: Dynamite 2 – Quinton Jackson vs Satoshi Ishii
Rounding off the list brings us to Bellator 157 and the return of one of the modern-day icons of MMA, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson. The former UFC light heavyweight champion headlines the event against Olympic judo gold medallist for Japan, Satoshi Ishii, at a catchweight of 215 pounds. Jackson fights in Bellator for the first time since his much publicised contract dispute, during which time he competed in the UFC and earned a decision victory over Fabio Maldonado. However, he is back in Bellator now and looking to build on a successful past with the promotion, having won all three of his fights prior to his UFC return, including winning the Bellator Light Heavyweight tournament by beating Muhammad Lawal in the final. Ishii is 14 – 4 – 1 in MMA, with 6 submission wins. The Japanese fighter is a 6th dan judoka, which he will be looking to put to good use against Jackson in an attempt to earn what would be the biggest victory of the 29-year-old’s MMA career to date. “Rampage” Jackson is always box office viewing, and Bellator 157 on June 24th is no exception.
So there we have it, five MMA fights to watch in June. 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.
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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