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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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Ovince Saint Preux Steps in to Face Corey Anderson at UFC 217

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UFC 217 just got even more interesting. Earlier this week, Patrick Cummins pulled out of his light heavyweight matchup with Corey Anderson due to a Staph infection. Corey “Overtime” Anderson was not happy with his opponents decision, even calling out his opponent on Instagram asking how Cummins could, “call it quits so far from fight night”.

The UFC left Anderson on the card, and he found an opponent through the magic of Twitter. Ovince Saint Preux tweeted out directly to Anderson stating:

It didn’t take long for Anderson to respond agreeing to the fight, tagging Mick Maynard and Dana White in his response.

Only a few short hours later, the fight announcement came from the official UFC twitter account.

 

This top 10 Light Heavyweight matchup should add to an already amazing card coming in November at Madison Square Garden. Saint Preux is coming off of back to back wins both due to the very rare von flue choke, he finds himself ranked #7th in the latest edition of the 205-pound rankings. Corey “Overtime” Anderson is 4-2 in his last 6 fights, but is coming off a brutal first round knockout loss to Jimi Manuwa in March.

With such a exciting fight added to this card, what do you see happening November 4th?  Will Corey Anderson bounce back and look to jump into the top 5 of the rankings, or will Ovince Saint Preux go for a third straight von flue choke? Let us know.

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*Watch* Bellator 185 Weigh in: Live Stream, Results

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Watch the live weigh-ins for Bellator 185 here.

Gegard Mousasi takes on Alexander Slemenko live this Friday night October 20th at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville CT. This is the first appearance for Mousasi in the Bellator cage as he looks to secure a title shot with a win over the very tough former Bellator champion Slemenko. Joining these men of the main card will be a pair of welterweights as Neiman Gracie from the famous Gracie BJJ family takes on Zak Bucia in the co-main event.

Full Weigh-in Results: (Updated in real time)

Main Card:

Gegard Mousasi (185) vs. Alexander Shlemenko (186)
Neiman Gracie (170.5) vs. Zak Bucia (170)
Heather Hardy (126) vs. Kristina Williams (126)
Ryan Quinn (155.5) vs. Marcus Surin (155)
Ana Julaton (125.5) vs. Lisa Blaine (122)

Preliminary Card:

Jordan Young (200) vs. Alec Hooben (194)
Costello van Steenis (185) vs. Steve Skrzat (186)
Vinicius de Jesus (170) vs. Joaquin Buckley (171)
John Beneduce (154.5) vs. Dean Hancock (155)
Timothy Wheeler (144) vs. Pete Rogers (144)
Don Shainis (150) vs. Matthew Denning (149)
Frank Sforza (149) vs. Vovka Clay (150)
Kevin Carrier (156) vs. Jose Antonio Perez (153)
John Lopez (126) vs. Billy Giovanella (125)

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Bellator 185 Fight to Watch: Heather Hardy vs. Kristina Williams

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Heather Hardy will compete in MMA for the second time at Bellator 185 on Friday night, as she faces Kristina Williams in a strawweight contest. The fight takes place on the main card at the Mohican Sun Arena in Connecticut.

Potentially, what Bellator have in Heather ‘The Heat’ Hardy is a major draw that they can build their 125 pound division around. While relatively new to the organisation she is fast becoming one of the more popular names on the roster. Her career is in the early stages, but many have already started to draw comparisons with former boxer turned MMA star, Holly Holm. Holm’s UFC success partly inspired the native New Yorker to make the switch from boxing.

Hardy is already an established world champion in the land of the ‘sweet science’, holding a 21 fight undefeated professional record. She made her MMA debut in June this year with a victory over Alice Yauger, at Bellator 180. At 35, Hardy is a late starter in the sport, but proved at Madison Square Garden against the credible Yauger that she has a bright future.

Hardy’s first outing in the cage was disciplined and composed. Despite a slow start in round one, Hardy grew in confidence as the fight progressed and her cardio never faltered. She mixed in plenty of kicks that complimented her boxing and looked at ease in the clinch, even defending a couple of takedown attempts in the process.

Despite looking on course for a decision win, Hardy forced the TKO stoppage with just thirteen seconds remaining in round three. Even a large cut that required seven stitches from an accidental head clash could not deny her victory.

Hardy was fighting an experienced professional, competing for the tenth time in MMA, which makes the win over Yauger more impressive. However, her upcoming opponent Kristina Williams will be making her professional debut.

There is little known about Williams except that she is 3-0 at amateur level. One of those wins came by way of submission so there may well be a threat to Hardy if the fight goes to the ground. More importantly for Williams is how she copes on the big stage against a popular opponent, who is more familiar competing in high pressure combat situations. If Williams can produce an upset it will be a huge boost in her young career.

But in all honesty, this fight is about Hardy. It’s about getting the win and gaining valuable experience. The boxing career is on hold while MMA takes centre stage. Beating Williams will mean she likely continues fighting inside a cage rather than a boxing ring.

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