Nothing in fighting is more frustrating than not being able to work your game. It’s a demoralizing and physiologically frustrating feeling that sets in when your opponent is capable of neutralizing and shutting down your game before you can even begin to initiate it. You can handle going out in a blaze of glory, on your shield, dying by the sword, and all that other cliche shit but simply being negated, neutralized, and shut out of a fight leaves you without a sense of conclusion. There’s no finality and you barely feel like you were even there in the same cage.
When current Lightweight Champion Rafael Dos Anjos was asked about his pre-Champion loss to undefeated and #1 ranked Khabib Nurmagomedov, you could feel those sentiments simmering behind his words. In an interview with media at UFC Fight Night 62, Dos Anjos explained how he felt about a potential future match up with the last man to decisively beat him.
“He’s a tough guy, but I fought again 45 days after facing him,” recalled do Anjos. “I was calling my manager ten minutes after the fight and asking to fight again… He didn’t hurt me. He just held me down and killed my game.”
In their previous bout, Khabib Nurmagomedov was able to blitz Dos Anjos back into the cage where he would then smother him into the ground with an incessant and frustrating grappling game. Dos Anjos was mindful of this, but Nurmagomedov’s ability to blend his striking with his takedowns made his efforts unstoppable.
“It was basically a grappling match.” said Dos Anjos as he downplayed Nurmagomedov’s strategy. “He has a strong game close to the fence. Not chasing him maybe is a good strategy.”
Dos Anjos’ observations seem solid, but this was the same game plan that Dos Anjos’ corner told him to employ after his first round against Khabib. His corner encouraged Dos Anjos to move in and out like Machida and to stay away from the fence. In the second round, Dos Anjos did put more pressure onto the Russian, very conscious of keeping his own heels away from the fence. But once he advanced, Khabib’s punching flurries would continually back Dos Anjos off and once his defenses were raised he would get jammed up with the clinch and subsequent takedown.
Despite how Dos Anjos downplays the bout, the crowd was literally booing at his impotence against the cage. Legs sprawled out like a wet newborn fawn still attached to its cord, Dos Anjos was helpless under the relentless Askren-esque pressure that Khabib was smashing him with.
“No excuse, he was better that night,” explains Dos Anjos. “I was under pressure, I had issues before that fight, but he was better. Next time, the fight will be different. I only lost one of my last 10 fights. I want to clear that up.”
Having partially torn his right MCL in his knee, during training leading up to his championship win over Pettis, there’s no expectations for his matchup with Nurmagomedov to happen anytime soon. His current timeline would put him hopefully back in the cage around October or December of this year. With a timeline out that far though, there’s a potential for his next match to happen in Brazil. An idea that excited the current champion.
“I would love to fight in Brazil, but the UFC makes the call. We have to see their schedule, see if it’s going to work,” he said. “When my knee and foot are better, I will be available to fight. I believe I will be cleared to train hard in three months, and then I will need at least three months to get ready for a title fight.”
Before any of that can happen though, Nurmagomedov faces Donald Cerrone at UFC 187 in Las Vegas. Cerrone might seem like an easy obstacle to some, but Cerrone has turned a new leaf, demonstrating a new found ability to control the range in his fights compared to the brawling in the pocket fighter that he used to be. How Cerrone intends to shut down Khabib’s takedowns will determine his ability to win that fight, and all eyes will be on Cerrone vs Nurmagomedov to find out who the next challenger for the title will be.
James Gallagher out of Bellator 187 in Dublin due to injury
Irish fans will have to wait a little longer to see James Gallagher fighting on home soil after Gallagher suffered a knee injury in preparation for his main event fight with Jeremiah Labiano in Dublin next month. This bad news was first reported by MMAFighting.com.
The 20-year-old from Strabane co. Tyrone who trains in the famous SBG gym with Conor McGregor and Gunnar Nelson among others has set the featherweight division alight since joining Bellator in 2016. James “The Strabanimal” Gallagher has gone 3-0 with all three of his wins coming by rear naked choke.
After submitting Chinzo Machida, the brother of former UFC light heavyweight champion, Lyoto Machida in Madison Square Garden Gallagher has become a budding star for Bellator.
Due to the youngster’s attitude and potential, many comparisons between Gallagher and UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor have been made by the fans and media which has made Gallagher one of Bellator’s most recognizable names. This notoriety has ultimately led to the young Irishman getting a chance to headline in Dublin this November but this injury has delayed his rise for the time being.
Gallagher on social media Thursday stated that he has suffered an injury to his PCL and LCL in his knee and would be out for the remainder of the year. He has assured fans we would return next year and carry on where he started with “The Jimmy show.”
His longtime rival AJ McKee, who has engaged in a Twitter war with Gallagher after his last fight, will now headline Bellator 187 in the 3 Arena in Dublin on November 10th against Gallagher’s SBG teammate Brian Moore. Moore will be making his third appearance for Bellator in this featherweight clash.
UFC 216: Paige VanZant Pulls Out of Fight with Jessica Eye
The UFC 216 card looks to have suffered a major blow as Paige VanZant has been pulled from the card citing a back injury, per Ariel Helwani.
VanZant (7-3) has not fought since losing to Michelle Waterson back in December 2016 and was scheduled to make her Flyweight debut against the unranked Jessica Eye.
As of, MMA Fighting, the number 10 ranked UFC Strawweight suffered an intervertebral disc injury whilst training jiu-jitsu, and was advised by her doctor to miss training for a few weeks.
Not only is this a major blow for VanZant as she looks to regain some momentum following her last outing, but it must be considered a huge blow for the UFC as VanZant is a popular figure who can contribute significantly to the buy rate.
Eye (11-6) will also be feeling hard done by on this occasion, as this marks the second time in a row her opponent has pulled out of scheduled bout, she was looking to make things right after suffering four defeats in a row.
The injury will not require surgery so there is a possibility of rescheduling the contest for a later date, although nothing has yet been mentioned. It remains to be seen whether Eye will wait, or ask to be rescheduled with a new opponent.
UFC 216 takes place at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on October 7th and is headlined by Tony Ferguson vs. Kevin Lee for the Interim Lightweight Championship, it also features UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson as he takes on Ray Borg in his record eleventh title defence.
Germaine de Randamie out of UFC Fight Night 115
Former UFC Women’s Featherweight Champion Germaine de Randamie has been forced out of next weeks Fight Night event in Rotterdam. The Dutch fighter was set to fight Marion Reneau in the UFC’s return to the Netherlands. The news was first reported by MMA Junkie.
— Marion Reneau (@BelizeanBruiser) August 26, 2017
‘GDR’ won the Women’s Featherweight belt back in February after beating former Women’s bantamweight champion, Holly Holm. The kickboxer won the fight by a controversial decision after punching Holm after the bell in two rounds. Germaine also injured her hand in the fight and announced shortly after that she would need surgery. GDR never ended up getting the surgery and that same injury has now forced her out of the upcoming fight.
Germaine ended up getting her title stripped a few months later after she refused to defend the belt against the now current champion, Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino. She told many reporters that she considered Cyborg a cheater after she ended up failing a drug test for performance enhancing drugs. After a lot of backlash from both fans and fighters, the UFC stripped her title and made a new title fight at UFC 214 between Cyborg and Tonya Evinger. Cyborg ended up winning the fight by TKO in the 3rd round.
The UFC plan on keeping her former opponent Marion Reneau on the card and are currently searching for a replacement opponent. Reneau is currently coming off of a majority draw against Brazilian fighter Bethe Correia. Reneau’s biggest win so far in the UFC is against Jessica Andrade in a fight she won by submission via triangle choke.
The card is currently headlined by a heavyweight fight between Stefan Struve and Alexander Volkov. The card takes place on September 2nd in Rotterdam, Netherlands and will stream exclusively on UFC Fight Pass.
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