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.
We have another fight in Halifax!
— UFC Canada (@UFC_CA) January 10, 2017
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.
UFC Announces Liverpool Event, Darren Till Main Event
Scousers are drowning in celebration this evening. Earlier today, UFC officials announced the addition of a Liverpool show to their 2018 event calendar. Liverpool’s, Echo Arena, plays host for the event, which takes place on May 27th.
Liverpool’s own, Darren Till made the announcement this afternoon with Dan Hardy at the UFC Fight Night: Werdum vs. Volkov, ceremonial weigh-in. When asked by Hardy what it means to have the UFC in Liverpool, he had this to day, “Words can’t describe it. It doesn’t do it justice, words. So, it’s coming and I’m going to be the first Scousers to ever have done it. In 200 years they’re going to remember my name in combat sports in Liverpool. I’m gonna take someones chin off in Liverpool, that’s what’s happening”.
He was also quoted in an release from the promotion saying, “I can’t believe UFC is finally coming to Liverpool and I’m going to be headlining Echo Arena. My name is going to be remembered in 200 years time for being part of this historical event and I can’t even describe how much that means to me”. Till will headline the card, his opponent is yet to be announced.
In the official release, it quotes David Shaw, Senior Vice President International and Content, claiming, “The stars really aligned for the Octagon to touch down in Liverpool. We have seen such phenomenal demand from fans in the region for a live event. Pair that with having such a rising, local star in Darren Till it made absolute sense to bring our first live event to this historical combat sports city in 2018”.
UFC Liverpool lands on a date speculated for a different venue, in a different country. Reports swirled last month, specifically one from MMAFighting.com, which claimed the May 27th date belonged to the UFCs return to Dublin. A return to Dublin doesn’t seem to fall completely out of the realm of possibility. For now, it remains to be seen.
The UFC also announced two bouts, both in the Middleweight division, booked for the event. Elias Therodorou takes on Trevor Smith, and Daniel Kelly goes up against England’s Tom Breese.
Dillon Danis to make Pro debut against Kyle Walker at Bellator 198
Mixed Martial Arts officially adopted another incredibly talented jiu-jitsu practioner today. Bellator officials announced today the long-awaited debut of Dillon Danis, whom the promotion had signed in the year previous. After zero amateur and countless jiu-jitsu matches, Danis makes his debut at Bellator 198: Mir vs. Emelianenko, against Kyle Walker.
Kyle Walker enters the match up also making his Bellator debut. Walker recently made a resurgence in 2016 after taking off, almost exactly, 3 years. Since returning to the professional scene his record is 0-3, losing each fight by stoppage (2 Sub, 1 KO).
Walker looks to snap his streak yet, his opponent could provide a major challenge. In terms of advantages for Walker, he has a massive and obvious one. His experience. Walkers opponent fights for the first time in the sport of MMA. While Danis competed in many top-level jiu-jitsu tournaments and matches, comparing the competition would stop and end upon examining the rule sets. It is quite obvious, the difference. Danis will have a bit of adversity to overcome, in that respect.
In spite of this, Danis’ team, he trains out of the highly regarded SBG Ireland. Even before his MMA training, he trained under Marcelo Garcia. He earned his black belt in April of 2015, following an incredible 2014. In that year, Danis became UAEJJF World Champion, winning gold in the 82 kg (181 lb.) Brown belt category.
The prospect of what that could look like inside the cage is exciting. He may have developed some striking techniques but, the lack of time dedicated to that training in undeniable. Experience and time is required to develop skills of any kind.
Bellator 198: Mir vs. Emelianenko, takes place on Saturday, April 28th from the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Illinois. Bellator 198 features the third of four preliminary bouts in the promotions Heavyweight Grand Prix, Fedor Emelianenko takes on Frank Mir. It serves as the nights main event. Other bouts on the card feature; Emmanuel Sanchez against Sam Sicilia, Neiman Gracie faces Javier Torres, Rafael Lavato Jr. vs. John Salter, and more.
Aaron Chalmers vs. Ash Griffiths Added to Bellator 200
A reality television star finally gets his shot and it couldn’t be on much bigger of a stage. Scott Coker and the Bellator promotion announced almost two weeks ago, the organizations milestone event, Bellator 200, would take place in London, England. In the weeks and days following the initial news, fights such as Roy Nelson vs. Mirko Cro Cop, and Phil Davis vs. Linton Vassell became post-humorous additions. Today, promotion officials announced Aaron Chalmers makes a highly anticipated return when he takes on Ash Griffiths, in his promotional debut at the milestone event.
Along with the initial announcement of the event, Bellator officials also announced the first two fights booked to Bellator 200. The first of which matches Gegard Mousasi against Middleweight champion, Rafael Carvalho. Mousasi, formerly of the UFC, made a high-profile exit from his former employers to sign with Scott Coker (former Strikeforce CEO) and Bellator. His opponent, Rafael Carvalho, is the 3x defending Bellator Middleweight champion. Carvalho defeated fighters such as, Melvin Manhoef (2x), Brandon Halsey, and Alessio Sakara during his reign claiming and defending the title. The second match up includes British star, Michael ‘Venom’ Paige, as he makes his return to the Bellator cage against David Rickels.
With the addition of Aaron Chalmers to Bellator 200, two British stars now grace the card. Two British stars in two different avenues. Michael ‘Venom’ Paige is one of the biggest fighting stars in the country. Of course, Heavyweight Boxing champion, Anthony Joshua tops the list of famous fighters but Paige is on similar career trajectory, as his star only continues to grow. For Aaron Chalmers, his fighting talent did not give rise to the nature of his celebrity.
Before his professional career even began, Aaron Chalmers was cast to and appeared on the 8th season of the British reality television show, Geordie Shore. In case of ignorance to the English reality television scene, Geordie Shore is a reality television series based on the American reality series, Jersey Shore. The plot of which is essentially; Fit, and outgoing young adults move into a home in the city of Newcastle together for the Summer. As bland as that may seem, Aaron Chalmers is a recurring cast-member of the ongoing MTV show.
Chalmers professional MMA career began nearly one year ago. His first pro bout came in May of 2017, at BAMMA 29. At the event, he faced Greg Jenkins whom he defeated via submission by Americana, 2:12 into the opening round. Overall, Chalmers fought three times professionally, winning each contest. Largely, the reality television start hasn’t spent much time in the cage as a pro. His first win, took him deeper into the fight than the two following match-ups. His second and third bouts, (both for BAMMA) ended by KO/TKO inside the first minute of the opening round. At BAMMA 31, Chalmers defeated Alex Thompson by KO in 30 seconds. While his most recent bout against Karl Donaldson at BAMMA 33, also ended by KO/TKO. This time the referee ended the action 43 seconds into the fight.
Chalmers opponent, Ash Griffiths, had a much different path to this point. Griffiths followed a traditional journey as he did not supplant his training for appearances on a large reality TV network. While he remained focused on MMA, it did not translate into recent success. The British fighter currently finds himself in the midst of four consecutive loses, including his Bellator debut. This streak comes after he started his pro career successfully, etching a record of 4-2. Currently, his record sits slightly under a .500 win percentage at 4-6. A win for Griffiths seems necessary in order to stay within the ranks of the Bellator roster.
Bellator 200 takes place at the historic SSE Arena (Formerly known as the Wembley Arena) on May 25th. SSE Arena is the second largest indoor venue in London, holding 12,500 seats.
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