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5 Things We Learned From UFC Fight Night 90



The first card of International Fight Week is in the books and it was one heck of a way to start off a 3-day period of fight cards. After a crazy 24-hour period that included Jon Jones being pulled from UFC 200, Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz entertaining everyone at a press conference and speculation over if Daniel Cormier would still fight on Saturday and who his opponent would be if so, many fans were just grateful to finally get to just sit down and watch some fights. And what a night of fights it turned out to be. Here’re 5 things we learned from UFC Fight Night 90: Dos Anjos vs Alvarez.

The art of the submission is very much alive

Fans love seeing fights end in a knockout. They’re often exciting and come out of nowhere. Submission victories for fighters are often the result of grinding out your opponent on the ground ultimately securing the choke or the joint lock. At Fight Night 90, submissions were the way to go for many fighters. The first 5 fights on the card ended in submission and Joe Duffy pulled off the fourth fastest submission in UFC Lightweight history on the main card. Overall, half of the fights on the card ended in submission victories and fans were treated to a variety of them including a pair of armbars, a D’Arce choke, a guillotine and a rear naked choke. There are quite a few fighters whose opponents will have to think twice about taking to the mat after this card.

Joseph Duffy can be a serious lightweight contender

Coming off his first UFC loss at the hands of Dustin Poirier at UFC 195 in January, many people wondered how the highly touted Irish lightweight would respond. Going against Mitch Clarke, another potential Lightweight standout, it didn’t take Duffy long to answer the question. It took less than 30 seconds for Duffy to drop Clarke with a massive right hand that sent Clarke crashing to the canvas. As Clarke attempted to recover, he gave Duffy his back and it was all over as Duffy immediately sank in a rear naked choke for the victory. Duffy showed power in his hands and added another submission victory to his record in a performance that’s sure to have other 155 lber’s taking notice.

Belal Muhammad may be the juggernaut

There are fights where, even in a loss, a fighter makes a name for himself. Belal Muhammad did just that on Thursday night when he took on Alan Jouban. For most of the first round, Muhammad took a hellacious beating from Jouban, getting dropped twice and absorbing a massive amount of punishment. That trend continued in the second round as Muhammad was dropped again and looked very much the worse for wear after the first 10 minutes of the fight. Despite many not even being sure how he was still conscious, much less continuing to fight. Muhammad then came forward relentlessly in the final round, landing some big shots that appeared to have Jouban in serious trouble at times. Muhammad wasn’t quite able to finish in any of those exchanges however and Jouban would take the unanimous decision victory. After the final bell, both fighters received a standing ovation from the crowd and Muhammad had obviously earned the respect of everyone who watched the fight.

Lewis vs Nelson wasn’t exactly what fans had hoped for

The co-main event was a battle between heavy-handed fan favourite heavyweights as Derrick Lewis took on Roy Nelson. Both fighters had been calling for this fight and both alluded to wanting to fight someone who would put on a show for the fans. Lewis came out in the first round with bad intentions and was getting the better of the promised striking exchanges. Nelson decided to switch up strategies a bit and began implementing clinches and takedowns into the fight, securing 7 of them throughout the fight and controlling the action for much of the time. Lewis came on strong towards the end of the final round and at one point landed a right hand that almost took Nelson’s head off his shoulders. Somehow, Nelson survived the final barrage and the fight that almost everyone assumed would end in a knockout, went to a judge’s decision. The 37-4 significant strike difference appeared to be the deciding factor as Lewis won a split decision victory. After the fight, Lewis called for a rematch against Nelson, saying “I promised a knockout”.

Eddie Alvarez returned to form

Former Bellator champion Eddie Alvarez hadn’t had the most impressive opening run upon entering the UFC. A loss to Donald Cerrone followed up with a pair of split decision wins over Gilbert Melendez and Anthony Pettis had many people wondering where the “old” Eddie Alvarez was. Where was the brawler who had epic wars with Michael Chandler and knocked out Patricky Freire? On Thursday night, that Eddie Alvarez showed up again as he faced off against one of the most dominant 155 lb champions in recent memory in Rafael Dos Anjos. The first 2 minutes consisted mostly of leg kicks, feeling each other out and blocking each others punches. Then, about midway through the round, a perfectly placed right hand from Alvarez wobbled the champ and that was all the opening Alvarez needed. Alvarez swarmed Dos Anjos, not giving him a second to possibly recover and unleashed what ended up being a total of 57 significant strikes to the champion before Herb Dean had had enough and stepped in and a new Lightweight Champion was crowned.

In what is being called the biggest week in UFC history, with the biggest card in UFC history approaching on Saturday, UFC Fight Night 90 certainly set the bar high. Now we can only hope that the remaining two cards can rise to the occasion and at least match what Fight Night 90 brought to the table.

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Fighter to Watch

Exclusive: Mike Ekundayo, “He could come with anything, I don’t care”



In a little less than a week, Rise of Champions crowns its inaugural bantamweight champion. The crowning of the first 135 lb. champion marks the young promotions first champion. It makes sense why the promotion owned and operated by UK MMA star, Brad Pickett, and Team Titan head coach, Mickey Papas plan to crown the promotions first champion in the bantamweight division. Pickett competed in the division throughout his tenure with the WEC, and ultimately the entity which absorbed the light weight promotion, the UFC. Even more-so, two young and rising prospects of the division. One undefeated in his professional and amateur career, the other riding a seven consecutive victories, five by submission. The two meet February 17th, Mike Ekundayo puts his career unbeaten streak up against Jonas Magard’s at ROC 5, for the aforementioned, inaugural bantamweight championship.

Speaking to the undefeated Ekundayo before his fight, he believes this opportunity to be inevitable. Born in Hackney, (a borough of London) early in life, Ekundayo was no stranger to cramming his belongings into large cardboard boxes. At the age of 7, he moved from Hackney to Herne Hill, a district located in South London. Two years later he found himself in similar situation, moving from his vaguely new home in Herne Hill to Brixton. A road trip in the car to his new home, took approximately 5 minutes.

It is admittedly, not an easy life. In a harrowing article describing the horrors of gang life in London by the, former gang member turned community activist, made the claim, “When you are from Brixton, from Peckham, west London, anywhere in London, you are seeing hardship where a lot of communities can’t reach their full potential”.

In his own words, Ekundayo describes his home as, “not the best start to have in your life. It’s not the best upbringing”. But that couldn’t matter any less for him. Not only does the London resident consistently work to grow his potential, he gets to see it every day. His coaches Brad Pickett and Mickey Papas hold the knowledge as well as first-hand experience, increasing his limits with every session. “We’re all close”, speaking of his coaches and team. “My head coach is Mickey Papas, he’s very knowable in the game. He’s been around for a very long time. He teaches me a lot, I can learn a lot of stuff from Mickey Papas. Sometimes I just think, how does he know all of this? Where did he get this information from?”

He continued, “While I was coming up through amateur, Brad (Pickett) was still an active fighter, but nowadays he’s taken a coaching approach. So he’s coaching us prospects getting us to where he got to and further… He’s been through it all, gotten to the top, and stayed at the top”.

Further discussing his coach, “For UK MMA, you could definitely call Brad a legend. He’s done a lot in his career, and someone who I rate highly as an MMA fighter is Demetrious Johnson, and of course Brad has got a win over (him). I feel like just being surrounded by someone like Brad, you’re working towards the right things. When he passes information onto you, you respect it that bit more because of far he got in his career. He’s definitely given me the right guidance, I trust his guidance”.

When it comes to the upcoming title fight, confidence poured out from where praise and respect had once been. “I just think it’s my time, to be honest. I really do believe it’s my time for all of this. The work I put in, certain things become inevitable”, he said. “I actually called this after I won my third fight, I called for belts and big shows. I spoke it to existence”. He continued, “It’s my time to finally to get a strap of some sort. All the straps is what we’re going for, all of them. We’re going for every one”.

“Rise of Champions is my show… That’s how I feel when I’m performing on ROC, it’s just my show, it’s my time to shine. Everyone knows who there here to see, there not really there to see the other guys. It’s my time, it’s my show and I’m going to put on a show on February 17th and I’m going to win that belt”.

The infectious nature of his positive attitude was palpable. Although we only spoke through small rectangular devices, I could feel his energy in the room. His attitude shined brightest when talking about what it would mean to be the first ever ROC Bantamweight champion. Ekundayo claimed, “It just means a lot to have my first belt in anything to be honest… Within myself, I call myself a champion, every day. But now, other people would have to call me a champion because I’ve got a belt… And one thing I really want to do is, which sounds a bit weird, I just want to take the belt home to my area, to Brixton.”

“I just want to take it to my area, and just show the people of that area what hard work can achieve… I want to just take it to my people and show them that not for nothing, we are from Brixton, it’s not the best start to have in your life. It’s not the best upbringing but you can rise above it and you can achieve your goals and that’s what the belt will mean”.

When the conversation shifted to the topic of his opponent, Ekundayo had less encouraging words rolling off his tongue. Jonas Magard, the second half of the ROC 5 main event, holds a record of 7-4. Currently he owns a seven fight win streak after starting his career 1-3. Ekundayo thought, “He did fight quite decent guys in his three loses… but in the seven fight win streak, none of his opponents have been of caliber”.

He elaborated further, “What’s in my thoughts is more me, then it is of him. So, he could come with anything, I don’t care. I’m just focused on how I’m going to be picture perfect. How I’m going to paint a masterpiece, how I’m going to make it a beautifully perfect performance. That’s what my primary focus is on, so what he does to me is irrelevant, I’m just going to focus on how I’m going to be perfect on the night of February 17th”.

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UFC 222 Re-Worked with Cris Cyborg vs. Yana Kunitskaya, and Frankie Edgar vs. Brian Ortega



UFC 222 has been saved, and it didn’t take a superhero to lift the burning boulder which was Max Holloway’s injury and withdrawal. All it took was a female named Cyborg and a man with a demeanor so smooth, he could be mistaken for an alter-ego. Cris Cyborg now serves as the UFC 222 main event when she defends her featherweight belt against Yana Kunitskaya. Frankie Edgar bumped down to the co-main event to face Brian Ortega in what is likely a title eliminator. The news of the UFC 222 revival originally stemmed from a report by and confirmed later in the evening by the UFC.

Over the course of the week, reports surrounded the Las Vegas card and whether it would survive. Multiple options were reportedly being mulled over; cancelling the card outright, changing the pay-per-view (PPV) to a ‘Fight Night’ with an Edgar vs. Ortega main event, Dillashaw vs. Garbrandt 2 main event, among others. Ultimately, the promotion landed on Cyborg vs. Kunitskaya as the new main event, while also booking Brian Ortega.

This adjustment of the card places their women’s Featherweight champion in the second PPV main event in three months. Cris Cyborg recently put her undisputed Featherweight title on the line against Holly Holm at the year ending card, UFC 219. She successfully defended her belt by unanimous decision, in what was an amazing technical display from the Brazilian. In her octagon career, Cyborg is undefeated in her four appearances with three KO/TKO stoppages.

The second half of the new main event, Yana Kunitskaya, makes her UFC debut against the scariest women on the roster. If the 145 lb. champion was not enough of a challenge, Kunitskaya also makes her first appearance in the division since defeating Cindy Dandois in December of 2010. Of Russia descent, her most recent performances came inside the Invicta FC cage. At the female-only promotion, she posted a record of 1-1, with 1 No Contest. Her loss and no contest, both came at the hands of former UFC Featherweight title challenger, Tonya Evinger.

Turning to the co-main event, both fighters have been relatively inactive but, for good reason. Brian Ortega amazingly forced perennial men’s Featherweight contender, Cub Swanson, to tap in the second round of their ‘Fight Night: Fresno’ contest. Ortega fought twice in 2017, but more-so stayed inactive following his stoppage victory over Swanson. The Californian contender announced his desire to wait in line for the next title shot following the recent victory.

For Frankie Edgar, his last fight took place at UFC 211 when he absolutely demolished young and rising star, Yair Rodriguez. A card which took place last May. While Ortega holds an undefeated record, Edgar is undefeated in his previous 9 fights, excluding people named Jose Aldo.

UFC 222 takes place at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada on March 3rd.

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UFC Middleweight Champion, Robert Whittaker Announces Birth of Third Child



Times seem dull and dreary for the UFC’s Middleweight Champion, Robert Whittaker. The New Zealand born fighter withdrew from the promotions event debut in the eastern region of his residence, Australia. UFC 221, which takes place this Saturday, booked Whittaker to defend his title for the first time against former division champion, Luke Rockhold. His withdrawal was due to mistreatment of a serious staph infection inside of the Australians stomach.

It couldn’t get much worse, having to disappoint fans, and missing the first UFC event in eastern Australia. As it turns out, it could not get worse for Whittaker. Life only got better, as he had the pleasure of announcing the birth of his third child.

His new child is the champions third and first girl. Information regarding his child is limited as this moment is a tender and special time for the Whittaker family.

UFC 221 takes place in Perth, Australia at Perth Arena on February 11th. The cards main event features Whittakers short notice replacement, Yoel Romero taking on Luke Rockhold. Much to the satiety of fans, an interim belt is not in the equation in this instance.

Thank God. Excuse me, thank Dana White.

UFC 221 also features the ‘Super Samoan’ Mark Hunt vs. Curtis Blaydes, Tai Tuivasa faces Cyril Asker, Alexander Volkanovski vs. Jeremy Kennedy and more.

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