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Carla Esparza Returns Against Randa Markos in Halifax on February 19

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Carla Esparza UFC

Carla Esparza has been asking for a return bout for a while, and now has wish has been granted. The former UFC strawweight champion will meet Randa Markos at UFC Fight Night 105 in Halifax. The UFC confirmed the bout on Tuesday.

The event is headlined by a heavyweight rematch between Junior dos Santos and Stefan Struve, and takes place at the Scotiabank Centre in Halifax, Nova Scotia on February 19.

Esparza was the UFC’s inaugural strawweight champion, winning the title through season 20 of The Ultimate Fighter. After defeating Angela Hill, Tecia Torres and Jessica Penne on the show, Esparza met Rose Namajunas in December 2014 for the title. The Team Oyama fighter submitted Namajunas in the third round to claim UFC gold.

Esparza’s title reign was short lived, losing the belt to Joanna Jedrzejczyk in her first title defence. The manner of the defeat, and subsequent shoulder surgery, kept Esparza out of action for long periods through 2015-16. She has fought only once since that defeat to Jedrzejczyk, a decision win over Juliana Lima in May last year.

Randa Markos also competed on The Ultimate Fighter, reaching the semi-finals before being submitted by Rose Namajunas. The upcoming bout with Esparza will rekindle a semi-feud that took place during the show, with the pair clashing on more than one occasion over training.

The Canada native has had mixed success since the show concluded in 2014. After losing to Jessica Penne at the TUF 20 Finale, decision wins over Aisling Daly and Jocelyn Jones-Lybarger were achieved either side of a defeat to Karolina Kowalkiewicz. Last time out, Markos was put away in the first round by Cortney Casey. It was the fourth loss of Markos’ professional career.

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Darren Till vs Stephen Thompson set for February 24th in England

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Stephen Thompson

Wow! Nobody could have expected this news this morning. Dana White has stated he is moving the UFC Fight Night card in Orlando, Florida to the UK so rising star Darren Till (16-0-1) can face Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson (14-2-1) in his backyard.

According to Lance Pugmire of the LA Times, Dana White revealed the news during a Q&A in Santa Monica, California.

Logistically this fight has its problems. White didn’t state that the fight was scheduled to take place in Liverpool, I assume that is plan A for the UFC though. However, on the 24th the Echo Arena in Liverpool is booked by the UK MMA promotion, Cage Warriors.

Although White may be able to throw some money at the promotion, it is unlikely they’ll budge. Another possibility is to co-promote an event with Cage Warriors, but that’s even more unlikely, even though the concept is a great one.

The fight would not make sense in another UK city like Glasgow, Birmingham or Newcastle. Making the fight is strange if it’s unable to be in Liverpool, or at the top of the UFC London card.

🦍 #UFCLiverpool

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The event would be three weeks before UFC London, which is unheard of for events over in Europe. Normally England would be lucky to get two events in a year, let alone a month. Which makes you think it will either be one or the other. European cards are never typically stacked and having two in the space of three weeks in one country would eat into the quality on show in each card.

Could this be another case of Dana White talking too soon, or are we set for two mega UFC fights in the space of three weeks in the UK. We’ll find out soon enough.

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Khabib vs Barboza UFC 219 breakdown

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Khabib vs Barboza has been made official for UFC 219 and it promises to be an absolute cracker, so in this article, I’m going to give a full breakdown of this fantastic fight.

UFC 219 just got a whole lot better with the addition of Khabib vs Barboza to the main card, Khabib will be hungry to grab a victory in his first fight since his submission win over Michael Johnson at UFC 205.

However, UFC fans will be crossing their fingers and hoping that the fight does happen as Khabib has been scheduled to fight in the main event, back in April 2016, but his opponent Ferguson had to pull out of their scheduled main event because doctors had found fluid and blood in his lungs. Khabib also pulled out of there fight at UFC 209 because he was hospitalized trying to cut weight for there highly anticipated bout, which played down his chances at him getting a title shot against McGregor. This fight is a chance for him to once again prove himself to get that title shot. Hopefully, we do not see a repeat of these past scheduled fights for Khabib and hopefully, we can see him back in the octagon for UFC 219.

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Now onto Barboza, who is an explosive and aggressive fighter, his last three fights have resulted in three wins for the Brazilian who won his last fight by TKO/KO with his latest loss coming from Ferguson by way of submission at the Ultimate Fighter Finale, back in 2015.

This Brazilian fighter prefers to stand and trade with his opponents and usually outclasses his opponents on the feet, however, most of Barboza’s losses have come by submission, one of those opponents being Michael Johnson (who Khabib beat by submission) so Barboza may want to work on his submission defence and ground game altogether because Khabib is a very dominant fighter who can control the fight and has a strong ground game so he will be looking to take Barboza to the ground.

Barboza needs to try to take control of the fight away from Khabib and keep it stood up to try and outclass Khabib, which will make for a very Interesting bout on December the 30th and many will be tuning in to see how it turns out.

I believe Khabib will walk with the victory over Barboza at UFC 219 in a fight which promises to be exciting and aggressive throughout.

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Dan Hooker vs. Marc Diakiese set for UFC 219

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Dan ‘The Hangman’ Hooker will make his 8th UFC appearance when he squares off against Englishman Marc ‘Bonecrusher’ Diakiese at UFC 219 in December. The lightweight bout will take place at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on a card where the main event has yet to be announced.

New Zealand born Hooker has alternated between wins and losses thus far in his UFC career. However, he is coming off a notable TKO victory over Ross Pearson on home soil, earlier this year in Auckland. The fight was Hooker’s first in the lightweight division as all his previous bouts in the UFC had been at featherweight. Hooker looked flawless in his performance against the seasoned veteran Pearson, where he landed a vicious knee to win by KO in round two. It’s no surprise to see the Kiwi stick around 155 pounds and as he goes for back-to-back wins for the first time in the Octagon.

While Hooker looks for a second consecutive victory, Marc Diakiese aims to avoid two straight losses. The 24-year-old had his momentum derailed on his last visit to ‘Sin City’ in July, losing a split decision to Drakkar Klose. He started in the UFC with three consecutive wins that included a 30 second 1st round KO, and a TKO win on his debut in his hometown of Manchester, this time last year. Diakiese tends not to waste too much time in the cage with six career wins coming within the first round.

Both fighters are notable up-and-coming prospects in their respective countries and the contest has the potential to be stand-out on the card. Dan Hooker has great versatility and has a proven record of finishing fights by submission or knock-out. While arguably not as well rounded as Hooker, Diakiese will be the more powerful and aggressive of the two and will likely attempt to dictate the pace of the fight.

A win for either man will mean a significant step towards the elite top 15 at lightweight, especially on a big stage – that being the UFC’s marquee final pay-per-view of the year.

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