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Felice Herrig vs. Kailin Curran – UFC on FOX 20’s Ultimate Crossroads Fight

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On Saturday night, tucked neatly away as the opening bout of the UFC on FOX main card, is a strawweight clash between Felice Herrig and Kailin Curran. Both fighters sit well below the top ten in a division that still has little more than 30 active fighters under UFC contract. Both have had troubled starts to their young UFC careers.

Ahead of her promotional debut against Paige VanZant in November 2014, it was Curran who was considered the greater prospect against her scrappy opponent. Respected MMA analyst Patrick Wyman, then of sherdog.com, referred to Curran as “an excellent athlete with a solid kicking repertoire and quick, crisp hands and looks to have real potential”. A comfortable decision win was the prediction.

Despite completing all five of her attempted takedowns, Curran was ultimately outworked by VanZant before being stopped in the third round.

The defeat was the first of the Hawaiian’s professional career and set her on a path to Adelaide, Australia, where The Ultimate Fighter 20 contestant Alex Chambers laid in wait. Despite her previous defeat, Curran walked into enemy territory the heavy favourite. Come fight night Curran was still available at -300 with certain bookmakers. For two rounds she showed everyone why that betting line existed.

Then the Reign MMA fighter made a mistake in the third round, and Chambers capitalized in sensational fashion. A back to the wall, career on the line, hail mary submission from the Australian had not only turned the tide in the fight but reversed the career roles of both fighters. Now it was Curran’s UFC tenure that would be on the line the next time she stepped into the octagon.

In a fight that former WWE head writer Vince Russo would have booked as a “pink slip on a pole” match, Curran faced Emily Kagan in a position she should never have found herself in. Still considered a prospect, as an even greater betting favourite than she had been against Chambers, Curran struggled through the first frame before submitting Kagan in the second. She had avoided the dreaded pink slip, although Kagan would not.

Curran’s UFC on FOX opponent Felice Herrig’s UFC career has followed a similar pattern, despite her contrasting status within the sport. Herrig’s professional career dates back to 2009. Her resume is packed with quality names like Barb Honchak, Carla Esparza, and Tecia Torres.

More than that, the 31-year-old veteran was a rare product of the pre-UFC era for women in the sport. Without the UFC, without even Strikeforce, Herrig was one of the few women able to forcibly market themselves to make a decent living from a sport that was only tentatively offering opportunities to most female fighters.

When she did eventually get her big break, a spot on The Ultimate Fighter 20, Herrig was one of the most notable fighters on the roster. However, after defeating Heather Jo Clark in the opening round, Herrig was submitted by Randa Markos in the quarter-finals.

Still considered at the time a top ten strawweight in the UFC’s newest weight class, Herrig would make her official UFC debut against Paige VanZant in April 2015. Herrig held considerable advantages over her opponent. Three times as experienced, with solid offensive wrestling, Herrig was expected to pose a competitive threat to an opponent who had been unable to defend a single takedown attempt in her previous fight, against Curran, at the back end of 2014.

That is what we saw for five minutes. The first round was exciting, competitive, and tough to score. Derek Cleary gave it 10-9 to Herrig, while judges Michelle Agustin and Jose Tabora favoured VanZant by the same margin. Then came the beatdown. VanZant’s movement and energy combined with relentless offense appeared to break Herrig in a hurry. All three judges ended up scoring the third round 10-8 for VanZant, an indication of how one-sided the fight had become.

Herrig has not fought since losing by decision to VanZant, and a loss to the UFC’s poster strawweight is not the only thing shared with her upcoming opponent, Kailin Curran. Both approach their bout on Saturday night in Chicago, Illinois, invoking thoughts of what might have been.

Had Curran been able to capitalize on the opportunities presented to her in the VanZant fight, or at the very least completed the job against Chambers in Australia, could she have become one of the promotion’s poster strawweight herself?

Had Herrig gone a step or two further in The Ultimate Fighter 20, or managed to shut down an enthusiastic yet inexperienced VanZant in Newark, how close would she be now to a title shot at 115 pounds?

Now the two meet in the ultimate crossroads fight in the United Center on Saturday. Despite their losses, all four of their combined UFC fights have made for enthralling viewing. With plenty to prove and the stage on which to do so, expect more of the same when they open up the main card on Saturday night.

UFC on FOX 20 takes place Saturday, July 23 at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois, and is headlined by the women’s bantamweight bout between former UFC champion Holly Holm and Valentina Shevchenko.

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Events

*Live Updates* UFC Winnipeg Official Results

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The UFC returns to Canada for the final Fight Night card of 2017. In the cold of Winnipeg, Manitoba, the UFC will host eleven of the originally twelve scheduled fights. Unfortunately, Tim Elliot will not fight in the north country. His scheduled opponent, Pietro Menga, a newcomer to the promotions roster, failed to make weight after taking the bout with just over a weeks notice.

An exciting main card will be capped off with a potential contender eliminator bout featuring, Robbie Lawler and Rafael Dos Anjos. The former champions (Lawler at welterweight, Dos Anjos at lightweight) both put together impressive win streaks which dispatched top contenders in their respective divisions. Elsewhere on the main card, Santiago Ponzinibbio takes on the outspoken Mike Perry.

The card begins on UFC Fight Pass at 4:30/1:30 ETPT.

UFC Winnipeg Official Results:

MAIN CARD – FOX – 8PM/5PM ETPT

  • #2 Robbie Lawler (28-11) vs. #4 Rafael Dos Anjos (27-9) – Welterweight bout
    • Result: Rafael Dos Anjos def. Robbie Lawler via unanimous decision (50-45, 50-45, 50-45)
  • #3 Ricardo Lamas (18-5) vs. Josh Emmett (12-1) – Catchweight bout (148.5 lbs)
    • Result: Josh Emmett def. Ricardo Lamas via KO (punch) 4:33 round 1
  • #10 Santiago Ponzinibbio (25-3) vs. Mike Perry (11-1) – Welterweight bout
    • Result: Santiago Ponzinibbio def. Mike Perry via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
  • #3 Glover Teixeira (26-6) vs. #7 Misha Cirkunov (13-3) – Light Heavyweight bout
    • Result: Glover Teixeira def. Misha Cirkunov via TKO (punches) 2:45  round 1

PRELIMINARY CARD – FS1 – 5PM/2PM ETPT

  • #14 Jared Cannonier (10-2) vs #15 Jan Blachowicz (20-7) – Light Heavyweight bout
    • Result: Jan Blachowicz def. Jared Cannonier via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
  • Julian Marquez (6-1) vs. Darren Stewart (7-2) – Middleweight bout
    • Result: Julian Marquez def. Darren Stewart via submission (standing guillotine) 2:42 round 2
  • Chad Laprise (13-2) vs. Galore Bofando (5-2) – Welterweight bout
    • Result: Chad Laprise def. Galore Bofando via TKO (punches) 4:10 round 1
  • Nordine Taleb (13-4) vs Danny Roberts (14-2) – Welterweight bout
    • Result: Nordine Taleb def. Danny Roberts via KO (head kick and punch) :59 round 1
  • John Makdessi (14-6) vs Abel Trujillo (15-7) – Lightweight bout
    • Result: John Makdessi def. Abel Trujillo via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
  • Alessio Di Chirico (10-2) vs Oluwale Bamgbose (6-3) – Middleweight bout
    • Result: Alessio Di Chirico def. Oluwale Bamgbose via KO (knee) 2:14 round 2

EARLY PRELIMINARY CARD – UFC FIGHT PASS – 4:30PM/1:30PM ETPT

  • Jordan Mein (29-12) vs. Erick Silva (19-8) – Welterweight bout
    • Result: Jordan Mein def. Erick Silva via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-27, 30-26)
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Fight Announcements

Gilbert Burns vs. Olivier Aubin-Mercier Added to UFC Orlando

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The UFC has now added more bouts to the front end of their 2018 schedule. Gilbert Burns (13-2, 5-2 UFC) will face Olivier Aubin-Mercier (10-2, 6-2 UFC) in Orlando, Florida on February 24th, 2018.

Alongside a few other high-profile fight announcements, is the addition to the UFC Orlando, Florida card. The two lightweights will join Jake Collier and Marcin Prachnio, as the second fight set for the event.

It has been a while since the UFC hosted an event in the state of Florida. Last seen by the Floridians was UFC on Fox: Texeira vs. Evans, on April 16, 2016 in Tampa Bay. The card was a success, despite the cancellation of its planned main event between Tony Ferguson and Khabib Nurmagomedov. Drawing a gate of $1.05 million and 2.13 million viewers.

Gilbert Burns signed with the UFC after accumulating an undefeated record of 8-0. His first loss came in his home country of Brazil, as Rashid Magomedov defeated him via unanimous decision at UFC Fight Night: Belfort vs. Henderson 3, in November of 2015.

In his most recent bout, Burns defeated Jason Saggo by KO with five seconds remaining in the second round at UFC Fight Night: Rockhold vs. Branch.

Aubin-Mercier will come into the contest as a winner in his last three bouts. The Canadian fighter trains out of the Tristar gym, alongside legends such as Georges St. Pierre and head coach, Firas Zahabi.

In 2011, Aubin-Mercier was chosen to compete on The Ultimate Fighter: Nations. Competing in the welterweight bracket, he became a finalist by defeating both, Jake Mathews (unanimous decision) and Richard Walsh (rear naked choke). In the finale, Aubin-Mercier lost to Chad Laprise by split decision.

UFC Orlando will take place at the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida on February 24th, 2018.

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Eryk Anders vs. Lyoto Machida Officially Headlines UFC Belem

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Eryk Anders vs. Lyoto Machida is officially booked to headline UFC Belem in Brazil.

Following his unanimous decision victory over Markus Perez on last weekends, UFC Fight Night: Ortega vs. Swanson, undefeated middleweight, Eryk Anders, called for the match-up with former UFC light heavyweight champion, Lyoto Machida. The UFC heard, and obliged.

First reported by The MMA Kings (@mma_kings.)

Anders holds a 2-0 undefeated record in the UFC. The Alabama native made his promotional debut against Rafael Nata in July of this year. A bout he took on short notice, replacing Alessio di Chirico whom withdrew from the fight due to a neck injury. Anders defeated Natal by knockout in the first round that night at UFC Long Island.

Prior to his indoctrination to MMA, the undefeated middleweight played for the University of Alabama football team, between 2006-2009.

Machida recently returned to the UFC roster after an 18-month suspension handed down by USADA, stemming from a failed out-of-competition test leading up to his April 2016 contest against Dan Henderson.

In his return to the octagon, Machida faced Derek Brunson in the main-event of the UFC Fight Night: Brunson vs. Machida, in Sao Paulo, Brazil. “The Dragon” lost the bout via first round KO.

UFC Belem, Brazil is scheduled for February 3rd, 2018, at the Mangueirinho Arena. The card will also feature the flyweight debut for Valentina Shevchenko as she faces Priscila Cachoeira

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