The main event of the evening for UFC Fight Night 81 in Boston was arguably the biggest fight in UFC Bantamweight history as former champion Dominick Cruz looked to regain the title that he never officially lost in a face off against current champion TJ Dillashaw. Regarded as 2 of the best pound for pound fighters in the world, this fight was one that UFC fans had been looking forward to for years. Would Cruz complete his incredible comeback story by regaining his title? Or would Dillashaw prove that there is truly a new king in the 135 lb weight class?
Both fighters come out quick and are showing a lot of movement. Cruz immediately throws a high kick that misses. They circle and Dillashaw connects with a kick to the body but Cruz grabs the leg and uses it to take Dillashaw down. They’re back to the feet almost immediately and Cruz lands a leg kick. They circle some more and then exchange strikes but nothing really seems to connect. Dillashaw lands an inside leg kick but Cruz responds with two quick right hands. Both fighters moving really well and they exchange again but nothing connects as both fighters dodge effectively. Cruz lands a right hand to the body. Dillashaw throws a head kick but slips and falls and Cruz immediately jumps on him. Dillashaw scrambles back to the feet and attempts a takedown of his own but Cruz stuffs it. Both fighters return to circling each other, looking for an opening. They again exchange strikes but nothing seems to connect. A left hand connects by Cruz is followed by a rich and then a leg kick. Dillashaw responds with a right hand and a body kick. Dillashaw blocks a head kick from Cruz and lands a body kick of his own. He lands another body kick and then stuffs a takedown attempt by Cruz, they exchange punches as they separate. Cruz stuffs a takedown attempt by Dillashaw and they’re back to circling as the round ends.
Both fighters come out swinging to start the round but nothing connects. Dillashaw is applying pressure and landing leg kicks but Cruz responds with several jabs and then a right hand. Cruz is moving and dodging very well, Dillashaw is having a hard time landing anything solid. Cruz lands two quick right hands to the body and then starts throwing jabs. Dillashaw slips and falls after another head kick attempt, eats a jab by Cruz as he stands up. Cruz stuffs a takedown attempt by Dillashaw and slips away from several strikes before he gets caught by a left high kick followed by a right hand. Dillashaw connects with some solid leg kicks on the lead leg of Cruz. Cruz lands a left hand but eats a right high kick and a left hand by Dillashaw. Cruz gets a takedown, Dillashaw is immediately back to his feet only to be taken down again by Cruz. Dillashaw scrambles back to his feet and throws a flurry of strikes but doesn’t connect with any of them. He manages to land a left hand but takes a leg kick from Cruz at the end of the round.
The round starts and Dillashaw is the aggressor. Both fighters exchange but don’t really connect with anything. Dillashaw lands a big leg kick on Cruz but Cruz counters with a 1-2 punch combination. Dillashaw connects with a right hand and follows it up with a body kick. Cruz lands several jabs and barely avoids a head kick from Dillashaw. Dillashaw lands a left jab but eats a right hook from Cruz on his way out. Dillashaw lands a right hand, body kick, uppercut combination that looked like all three strikes connected solidly. Dillashaw does appear to be telegraphing his shots however which is causing him to miss quite a bit. Dillashaw lands two solid leg kicks but gets taken down by Cruz again. They scramble back to the feet and exchange jabs. Dillashaw lands a high kick and Cruz responds with a body kick followed by a three-punch combination. Dillashaw shoots for the takedown but Cruz stuffs it and lands a right hand as they separate. Both fighters start to circle at the end of the round.
Cruz lands a right hook right out of the gate in round four. Dillashaw responds by connecting with a body kick, a leg kick and then a right hand of his own. Cruz lands a combination but nothing really solid. Both fighters begin to circle and throw lots of feints at the other. Dillashaw lands another leg kick and it seems to be affecting Cruz now. Cruz gets a takedown but they’re back to the feet almost immediately and Dillashaw lands a good combination that ends with a body kick. Dillashaw connects with a solid right hand and Cruz responds with a combination, a jab and then a 1-2 punch combination only to be taken down by Dillashaw. Dillashaw takes his back as they scramble to the feet against the cage. Dillashaw lands several knees to the same leg he’s been targeting with leg kicks. Cruz throws several small, quick hammer fist strikes and they separate. Dillashaw slips and falls while going for a high kick again. Cruz tries to take advantage with another takedown attempt but gets stuffed and eats a right hand from Dillashaw. Cruz responds with a right hand of his own just before the buzzer sounds to end the round.
The round begins and Dillashaw comes out swinging. He lands a leg kick and a body kick. Dillashaw follows that up with a big right hand and a big head kick as well. Cruz throws a combination and eats a leg kick from Dillashaw and Cruz has started to noticeably favor the lead leg. Cruz lands a big left hand followed by a left jab. Dillashaw hits him with several body kicks but gets hit with a right hand from Cruz. Cruz throws a spinning back fist but Dillashaw blocks it, Dillashaw also blocks a head kick by Cruz before landing another leg kick, and another. The leg kicks appear to be adding up and Cruz isn’t moving quite the same way that he was earlier in the fight. Cruz throws a high kick and punch but Dillashaw blocks or evades them all. Dillashaw throws a head kick of his own, which Cruz blocks and the two exchange strikes. Cruz lands a left hand and a small combination before getting hit with another leg kick. They exchange punches and Dillashaw attempts a takedown but gets stuffed by Cruz. They exchange punches as the final round ends.
Winner via Split Decision AND NEW UFC Bantamweight Champion: Dominick Cruz
48-47, 49-46, 46-49
Aldo vs. Lamas 2 and Ponzinibbio vs. Perry Added to UFC Winnipeg
The UFC has added Jose Aldo vs. Ricardo Lamas 2, and Santiago Ponzinibbio vs. Mike Perry to their UFC Winnipeg card on December 16th.
The two fights were announced as official today on the UFC’s Twitter account.
THIS. CARD. pic.twitter.com/bc4AyNncqy
— UFC (@ufc) October 13, 2017
Aldo (26-3) last fought at UFC 212 in June, where he lost by third round TKO to Max Holloway. After being promoted to the undisputed 145-pound champion last November, he was looking to make the first defence of the title against Holloway.
Lamas first faced Aldo back in 2014 at UFC 169. Aldo, who was again featherweight champion at the time, defeated Lamas with ease winning by unanimous decision (49-46) on all scorecards. Lamas is on a two-fight winning streak after defeating both Charles Oliveira and Jason Knight with impressive finishes.
Since his last UFC loss to Lorenz Larkin back in 2015, Ponzinnibio (25-3) has won five consecutive fights. His most recent victory was a upset win over Gunnar Nelson in July at UFC Glasgow. There was some controversy after the fight, as replays seemed to show a short grab and several eyes pokes from Ponzinnibio before knocking out Nelson in the first round.
Mike Perry has taken the UFC by storm since making his debut for the promotion last August. Picking up four wins all by knockout, the only loss ‘Platinum’ suffered was too Alan Jouban by decision. Ranked at #9 in the welterweight division, a win over Ponzinnibio could definitely propel Perry into the top ten at 170-pounds.
With the additon of these two fantastic fights, the lineup for UFC Winnipeg is as follows:
- Robbie Lawler vs. Rafael dos Anjos – Welterweight bout
- Glover Teixeira vs. Misha Cirkunov – Light heavyweight bout
- Antônio Rogério Nogueira vs. Jared Cannonier – Light heavyweight bout
- Tim Elliott vs. Justin Scoggins – Flyweight bout
- Chad Laprise vs. Galore Bafondo – Welterweight bout
- Alessio Di Chirico vs. Oluwale Bamgbose – Middleweight bout
- Vitor Miranda vs. Julian Marquez – Middleweight bout
- John Makdessi vs. Abel Trujillo – Lightweight bout
- Nordine Taleb vs. Sultan Aliev – Welterweight bout
Why the UFC Needs to Introduce 165 and 175-pound Weight Divisions
- The debacle that were the UFC 216 weigh-in last Friday further highlighted current weight cutting problems in mixed martial arts.
More specifically in this case it was in the UFC’s lightweight division. A fight between Nik Lentz and Will Brooks was pulled due to Lentz having ‘medical issues’ according to a UFC statement, hours before he was due to weigh-in.
Title challenger Kevin Lee then took to the scale seconds before the deadline and was over the limit by a pound. Fortunately he made weight after being given an extra hour. But these are not isolated cases, especially at 155-pounds.
There isn’t necessarily a solution to this problem but there may be a short term fix in the form of new weight classes approved by the ABC (Association of Boxing Commissions and Combative Sports) in July 2017. These include 165 and 175-pound divisions.
While not specific to the lightweight division, the problems with weight commonly occur there. In March this year, Khabib Nurmagomedov was rushed to hospital during fight week when cutting down for his title contest with Tony Ferguson. Subsequently the UFC 209 main event was cancelled. Khabib has been regularly discussed as a title challenger but he’s often struggled to make weight and failed on numerous occasions.
With drastic dehydration it is still unknown what health implications may effect him and other mixed martial artists in the future.
Some top ranked fighters such as Donald Cerrone, Jorge Masvidal and Rafael Dos Anjos have moved up to the welterweight division to preserve their health from these strenuous cuts, and have all been relatively successful.
However, many fighters are still reluctant and insist on dropping 10-20% of their bodyweight in the hours and days leading up to a bout. For example, Kevin Lee was rumoured to be 19 pounds over the day before he stepped on the scales.
At 170 pounds, welterweight is fifteen pounds more than lightweight which is a noticeable difference between relatively low weight classes. Especially when you consider that the divisions increase ten pounds from as low as 115 up to 155. There are many fighters who find themselves too big to be a lightweight, yet too small to compete at welterweight.
The incidents last Friday should hopefully be a wakeup call to the UFC, who can also set an example for other organisations such as Bellator, One FC, and Cage Warriors.
So far in 2017 the UFC has lost 14 fights in 48 hours or less before they were due to take place. That is one fight every two cards. While weight cutting is not always to blame, more often than not it plays a big role. These situations leave the UFC at a loss, fighters without opponents and a pay check, and fans disgruntled. Not to mention the health implications for the athlete involved.
The UFC must recognise these common patterns, remove the 170 pound welterweight division and create 165 and 175 pound rosters instead. Some may see an additional weight class as devaluing UFC titles even further but this would not be the case.
Recently the women’s featherweight title was created without having a roster of women to fill it. However, the difference with lightweight and welterweight is that they are comfortably the two deepest, most talent stacked divisions in the organisation.
Admittedly, there is a lot of history attached to the welterweight title since Pat Miletich first won it back in 1998. The likes of Matt Hughes and Georges St Pierre have also added prestige to the belt over the years.
Even so, the sport has changed since then and it’s in a transitional phase. We are in the era of USADA, the era of banned IV drips and certain commissions tightening their regulations on how much they allow fighters to safely cut. Everyone is accountable and aware of the dangers, yet steps still need to be taken.
The athletic commissions and the UFC in particular must act by introducing super lightweight (165lbs) and super welterweight (175lbs) divisions. Perhaps from a fighter’s perspective it seems like a no-brainer that their health should be the main priority.
From a fans point of view there is plenty of talent that could be used in those two divisions. The novelty of fighters blending into these classes would also have the feeling of a superfight. The likes of Nurmagomedov, Lee, Masvidal, Cerrone and Dos Anjos would certainly fit well into a 165 pound division.
Similarly, at 175 pounds, Tyron Woodley could transition from welterweight champion to super welterweight champion. Top talents such as Robert Whittaker, Stephen Thompson, Demian Maia and Robbie Lawler would be perfect matches for this weight.
If this was a success then super middleweight (195lbs) and cruiserweight (225lbs) divisions could be an option in future too.
As previously mentioned this won’t necessarily fix the issues of weight cutting but it gives martial artists another option and is a positive step towards fighter’s safety. Currently there has been no mention by the UFC about introducing these new divisions.
However, with fighter safety being of upmost importance these new divisions must be given serious consideration.
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.
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