UFC Vegas is in the books and with 8 of the 12 fights going the distance; Fight Night 88 certainly lived up to its billing as one of the most tightly matched cards of the year so far. However if you thought that a distinct lack of finishes meant there weren’t many stories to come out of last nights’ fights you would be wrong. Here are a few of the things we have learned from UFC Vegas.
“No Love” Has Put The Entire Bantamweight Division on Notice
Cody Garbrandt once again proved why he is one of the most highly touted prospects in all of Mixed Martial Arts with a quick and decisive 1st round knockout of fellow young prospect, number 7 ranked Thomas Almeida. Prior to this weekend, the Ohio-born Garbrandt had looked nothing short of perfect in his fledgling MMA career, flying out to an impressive 8-0 record, finishing 7 of his 8 opponents. Despite this string of victories, “No Love” was not even ranked inside the top 15 of the UFC’s Bantamweight division; that will surely change when the rankings are next released. This victory against Almeida, who was previously unbeaten in all 21 of his pro MMA bouts, will not only bring with it an official ranking, but also a step up in competition for 24-year-old Garbrandt. His next opponent will almost certainly be another top 10 fighters and may even come at UFC 203 in Cleveland, Ohio, Garbrandt’s home state. It remains to be seen if that will come to fruition, however, one thing is for sure, Cody Garbrandt put the entire UFC Bantamweight division on red alert with his performance on Sunday.
Jeremy Stephens is Ready For a Top 5 Opponent Next
Before this weekend the UFC had Jeremy Stephens at #9 in the Featherweight rankings and given some of the fighters above him in that list, that seems a fair spot for the Iowa-born, Alliance MMA product. However those that draw up the rankings may have to assess Stephens’ position after his performance in Las Vegas on Sunday, because not only did Stephens take home a unanimous decision victory, he got that W against a very dangerous man in Renan Barao. This is a big scalp for Stephens and whilst it cements his place in the top 10, it also furthers his claim for a fight against a top 5 ranked opponent in the near future. In his post-fight interview “Lil Heathen” stated he was ready to step in if one of Frankie Edgar and Jose Aldo get injured before they fight for the Interim UFC Featherweight Championship at UFC 200. Whilst he may not be the first to get the call should that happen, it must be said he has earned a big name fight next and with Chad Mendes currently without an opponent, I believe that Joe Silva will look to set up a fight between Stephens and Mendes in the near future.
It’s Back to the Drawing Board for the Brazilians
Both Thomas Almeida and Renan Barao had high hopes of igniting a title charge with victories this past weekend; instead, they were left assessing what went wrong as both fell to defeats at the hands of their American opponents. Former UFC Bantamweight champion Barao moved up to Featherweight in the hope of starting a fresh run at UFC gold and a win over Jeremy Stephens would have been a great first step in that quest. However in a hard fought contest he ended up losing a unanimous decision to Stephens, furthermore his weight cut still seemed to be an issue even though he went up 10lbs for this fight. Since suffering two losses to TJ Dillashaw, Barao has looked like a shadow of the fighter that won the 135lb belt and this loss to Stephens will leave the Brazilian scratching his head as to what he should do next. The question for him is whether he can ever replicate the type of performances that saw him go 32-1 to begin his MMA career. For Thomas Almeida the damage of his loss is not of the same scale, as a young fighter who has looked fantastic in the UFC up till this point, he has only to look at his first loss to Cody “No Love” Garbrandt as a learning experience. The knock on Almeida coming into this fight was his lack of head movement and how much he gets hit as a consequence of that. This proved to be his downfall against a fast and powerful striker in Garbrandt and though this first career loss will hurt the young Brazilian prospect now; long term it should only serve to make him a stronger fighter, providing, of course, he and his coaches make the appropriate adjustments to his game going forward.
Bryan Caraway Is Not To Be Underestimated
It would seem that Bryan Caraway said it best in his post-fight interview, “I am the underdog in every single fight and I keep winning… you can keep doubting me. But eventually, you are going to have to deal with me and recognize my talent”. No longer can anyone at Bantamweight underestimate Bryan Caraway, he certainly proved that much as he ground out a tight split decision victory over up-and-comer Aljamain Sterling. After a back and forth first two rounds, it was Caraway that bit down on his mouthpiece and controlled the pivotal 3rd, to take home a W that will taste all the sweeter given Sterling’s trash talk prior to fight week. The animosity made for an interesting spectacle at the weigh-ins when Caraway refused Sterling’s hand and pre-fight when the two did not touch gloves. In defeating Sterling who is ranked at number 4 in the Bantamweight standings Caraway, like Garbrandt, sent a message out the every 135-pounder on the roster this past weekend.
Jessica Eye May Be On The Brink
With only 1 win in her last 6 outings; that coming against Leslie Smith at UFC 180 in Mexico City, it is pretty safe to say that Jessica “Evil” Eye’s UFC career is teetering on the edge. Simply losing to Sara McMann on Sunday may not have put her in this position; however the manner in which she went down to the former Olympian was so passive that Eye has left herself in a situation whereby her next fight, will likely be to remain on the UFC roster. Whether it was because of their past, or the pressure of having her teammate Stipe Miocic recently win Heavyweight gold, only Eye will know. But she looked highly tentative to mount any significant offense whether on the feet or on the mat, in the end, it was a case of what might have been as McMann controlled the fight and handed the Ohio native her 3rd straight loss. It is not beyond the realms of possibility that Sunday may be the last time we see “Evil” Eye compete inside the octagon for a while; however it is far more likely she will get one last chance to prove her worth, here’s hoping she take it with both hands.
Erik Koch is Back Looking Sharp
Early in the night, the Vegas crowd witnessed the return of a somewhat forgotten fighter; his name, Erik Koch. In the 3rd fight of the evening, Iowa-born Koch returned from a two-year injury layoff to face Shane Campbell in a Lightweight collision with big implications for both men. For Koch this was the end of a long road that was filled with disappointment, as injury had derailed a promising start to his UFC career and denied him a title shot with the then Featherweight Champion Jose Aldo. Koch has long been considered as having all the tools to compete for UFC gold but has been held back by a string of injuries, something he hopes is now behind him. If that is the case then the UFC’s Lightweight division, where he now plies his trade, has just gotten a little tougher. On the basis of his performance on Sunday, when he finished Campbell via rear-naked choke at 3:02 of the 2nd round it seems Koch is back with the same sharpness he showed a couple of years ago. If this man stays fit and healthy and continues to progress as many experts believe he can, there is no reason why we won’t see him mixing it up with the top 10 or 15 of the UFC’s 155lb division very soon.
With the up and coming fighters on this card, UFC Vegas was most certainly a glimpse into the future of the Bantamweight division. However with the wins for Cody Garbrandt and Bryan Caraway and the potential of Thomas Almeida and Aljamain Sterling, it was also a look at the present for a division which has enjoyed a lot of good coverage recently. Coverage which is unlikely to stop anytime soon, since the champ Dominick Cruz has his rubber match vs Urijah Faber just next week at UFC 199 and the rematch between top contenders TJ Dillashaw and Raphael Assuncao will take place at UFC 200 in July. As far as competitive divisions go, Bantamweight is stacking up quite nicely against the rest these days, UFC Vegas showed us that if nothing else.
*WATCH* DaveNoseMMA – Aljamain Sterling Knockout Aftermath
Stipe Miocic vs. Francis Ngannou Official for UFC 220
UFC 220 in Boston, Massachusetts has its main event. Stipe Miocic (17-2) will put his belt on the line for the third time against rising heavyweight star, Francis Ngannou (11-1)
Rumors surrounded the match-up for UFC 220 after Ngannou’s first round knockout over Alistair Overeem, at UFC 218. The Cameroonian heavyweight called for the fight himself. In his octagon interview proceeding his most recent victory, Ngannou stated:
“I’m feeling good… I’m on my way to a title shot”.
— UFC (@ufc) December 10, 2017
The heavy handed Ngannou has finished all of his opponents in all of his six UFC bouts. A streak which includes a kimura submission over Anthony Hamilton and a TKO victory against former UFC heavyweight champion, Andrei Arlovski. Overall, he holds a ten fight win streak. His only defeat came by way of unanimous decision to Zoumana Cisse, in his second professional MMA fight.
If victorious, Ngannou would become the first African-born champion in UFC history.
Not to be diminished, Stipe Miocic rides his a streak of his own into the beantown match-up. Five consecutive wins, five knockouts and the past four of which, ended in the first round. A victory in Boston for the champ would make him the longest reigning heavyweight champion in UFC history. Currently, Miocic is one of three heavyweights, in the promotions entirety, whom has successfully defended the belt twice.
UFC 220 will be held at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts on January 20th, 2018. The pay-per-view (PPV) card will also feature light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier, as he faces challenger Volkan “No Time” Oezdemir.
Ladies Fight Night 7: “Double Trouble” Preview
Polish women’s federation Ladies Fight Night is going to celebrate their second birthday this year on the 15th to 17th of December. Two days, two events with a lot of great bouts.
LFN in Poland is being titled the new Invicta FC. The Polish owners created this federation to give European women a chance to fight on a big platform.
Hosting their first ever event in December 2015, LFN will hold two great cards next week, that will feature women who have fought under many prestigious promotions, such as the UFC, Invicta, Bellator, Glory, and Kunlun.
Two days of fantastic fights, intensified by a double dose of sports impressions. The name is not accidental, LFN 7 / LFN 8 combines two events, during which the best Polish fighters will be shown, as well as the best fighters from Europe (including France, Sweden, Italy, the Czech Republic and Romania)
The stakes are high, and we are electrified by the clashes between warriors such as Żaneta Cieśla vs Silvia La Notte and Patricia Axling vs. Cindy Silvestri. Mainly due to their vastness of their experience in the cage.
In the fight of the evening, the talented Romanian Cristina Stanciu will face Magdaléna Šormovádo. Stanciu fought twice in the UFC, but she was unfortunately cut from the promotion after suffering consecutive losses to Cortney Casey and Maryna Moroz.
Judyta Rymarzak vs Marta Waliczek is an amazing fight between two experienced kickboxers. Both making their pro MMA debuts on the night, we will witness a one-of-a-kind duel between two kickboxing perfectionists, as they look to transcend their skills into the MMA world.
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