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The Fight Night Review: UFC Fight Night 98

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For the MMA enthusiast, the four-week absence of any UFC event has been a long slog. Actually having to make plans on a weekend rather than simply watching the fights and being deprived of high-level MMA is a pain that no person should have to bear for a long time but UFC Fight Night 98 was more than worth the wait for the main event alone.

Pitting the number two and three ranked fighters in MMA’s most competitive division against one another was always going to provide exemplary results but Rafael dos Anjos and Tony Ferguson went above and beyond for 25 minutes in Mexico City. Hitting each other with everything they had, the bout went back-and-forth each round as each man went toe-to-toe landing some trademark blows and putting the lightweight division on notice for those who want to break into that elite bracket.

Starting the fight out, both men switched stances at such an alarming rate that you would be forgiven for thinking you were watching a capoeira exhibition. Looking for openings and keeping their opponent guessing, both men flowed between southpaw and orthodox with their strikes before dos Anjos settled down into his normal southpaw stance and began to get to work.

Whipping in his patented leg kicks, RDA provided heavy damage to Ferguson’s legs and also offset the balance of Ferguson in his upright stance. With the Brazilian hacking away at El Cucuy’s legs, a retort from the Ultimate Fighter 13 winner was dragged out of him by dos Anjos and set up the Brazilian’s own counter-striking. Replying with leg kicks of his own and with his right hand lower than usual in an attempt to absorb the brunt of dos Anjos’ body kicks, RDA’s left straights were given an opening and repeatedly found their home throughout the first.

In the second round, Ferguson made some adjustments of his own and began to settle into his unusual groove. Using his long range with right straights, stinging teeps to the body and an uppercut that would come underneath dos Anjos’ guard throughout the bout, Ferguson applied some pressure of his own backing his opponent to the cage, forcing him to try and fight his way out. From there, one of Ferguson’s greatest characteristics in his elusive head movement began to bear fruit. Avoiding damage and expending wasted energy from dos Anjos, Ferguson created angles of his own to attack from and provided, even more, deception for his uppercut to find its home.

The third stanza became a small sample size of the nature of the fight as the round ebbed and flowed in its momentum between either fighter. Ferguson started out by employing standing elbows in the pocket and also following up on his missed strikes by spinning through and attacking again. The former UFC champion meanwhile settled into the second half of the round with his left straights making their welcome return and stealing the round back in his favour.

The last two rounds saw Ferguson really kick into gear, however, and secured the fight in his favour on the scorecards.  Outscoring his opponent by 83 to 47 strikes according to FightMetric, El Cucuy didn’t let up in his pressure on dos Anjos as he peppered away with his diverse array of strikes and landed the most telling blow of the fight with a knee to the head after a missed superman punch attempt.

The win puts Ferguson on the first ever nine-fight win streak in the UFC’s lightweight division and surely a title fight has to be his next match-up. While Khabib Nurmagomedov currently occupies the UFC’s number one spot, his injury record leaves a question mark over his head as well as a win over Darrell Horcher being his only outing since his two-year absence from the sport. Of course, that opinion could change with a dominant win over Michael Johnson in a weeks time but Nurmagomedov’s stand out win over dos Anjos loses its shine with the advancements RDA has made since that fight and for the simple fact that that fight happened at the beginning of 2014.

For the glory that Ferguson has achieved by coming out on top, however, dos Anjos may well have had one of the worst years in MMA of recent times. From missing out on a massive payday through injury against Conor McGregor before back-to-back losses and losing the title in the process; your heart can’t help bit go out to dos Anjos. With that being said, with the heart and skill level he possesses, the Brazilian will no doubt find his way back into the win column in no time.

In the co-main event, Diego Sanchez put in one of his best performances in years as he recorded a unanimous decision victory over debutant Marcin Held in a fight that had some classic themes from the up-and-comer vs veteran cliche.

In the early running of the fight, Held dominated the stand-up against Sanchez through his youthful speed and his ability to manage the distance. Keeping Sanchez on the end of his lead left hand, Held was always in the right position to connect with The Nightmare and was easily able to get himself out of danger when Sanchez would return. Held even managed to lock in a standing guillotine in the first round but to no one’s surprise, Sanchez simply wouldn’t quit and wall walked up the cage before powering Held down to the mat.

Heading into the second round you would expect to see more of the same from Held but he was clearly keen to show off his famed grappling skills as he opened up the round with an Imanari roll to attack for a leg lock. Diego Sanchez though has severely underrated submission defence and thwarted any submission attempt by Held and dominated the round with heavy top position. The third round offered no real adjustments from Held either as again he looked to grapple with no success against Sanchez, despite the clear advantages he held in the first round on the feet.

While Held does have a high number of fights under his belt, the experience that Diego Sanchez has against top-tier opponents simply cannot be overlooked and begs the question that if Held had anywhere near Sanchez’s experience at the highest level, would he have deferred from the striking department as eagerly as he had in the second and third rounds.

Elsewhere, Ricardo Lamas managed to come back from a tough first round to score a guillotine choke on Charles Oliveira and put himself back in the win column at featherweight. The first round had been looking to head the same way that the Will Brooks – Alex Oliveira fight had played out as the heavier man dominated in close. Coming in nine pounds overweight, Do Bronx weighed heavy on top of Lamas in the first round and dominated the grappling exchanges before sinking in a rear-naked choke only offering a reprieve to Lamas in the form of the end of the round.

The next round seemed to be heading the same way as Oliveira again took the fight to the mat only for a gorgeous sweep to see Lamas come out in side control. From there, the fight eerily resembled Charles Oliveira’s last fight against Anthony Pettis as a guillotine choke against the cage saw the Brazilian’s demise and rewarded Ricardo Lamas for taking a fight against an opponent who struggled to make weight.

Beneil Dariush and Rashid Magomedov fought out a tactical bout earlier on in the night as both men thrived where the other had been expected to for three rounds. With the orthodox – southpaw dichotomy on full display, the lead foot of either man was key in getting off their power side strikes and it was clear from the get-go that Dariush and his camp had been working on just that. By positioning his lead foot on the outside of Magomedov’s, the distance to land his left head kick and body kick were shortened and he continually adjusted and fired in his kicks in the first two rounds. In the third round, the lofty altitudes of Mexico City clearly began to take their toll on Dariush however as his kicks were replaced by punches and allowed Magomedov back into the fight. It was expected for Magomedov to have the advantage on the feet with his boxing pedigree but Dariush kept the fight outside of the pocket and always made sure to return fire anytime Magomedov offered a strike of his own. On the other hand, Magomedov consistently came out on top in the few scrambles that played themselves out throughout the fight showing that to make any sort of headway at 155 lbs, you need to be as well-rounded as possible.

It was expected for Magomedov to have the advantage on the feet with his boxing pedigree but Dariush kept the fight outside of the pocket and always made sure to return fire anytime Magomedov offered a strike of his own. On the other hand, Magomedov consistently came out on top in the few scrambles that played themselves out throughout the fight showing that to make any sort of headway at 155 lbs, you need to be as well-rounded as possible.

A special shout out also needs to go to Alexa Grasso as she opened up the main card with a terrific performance against Heather Jo Clark. Displaying excellent stand-up skills and some impressive wrestling to boot, Grasso picked away at Clark with some crisp combinations after causing a clear eye problem for Clark in the first round and made sure to put herself on everyone’s must-watch list going forward.

All in all, UFC Fight Night 98 was an excellent card to end a month-long hiatus from the UFC and was a more than satisfactory warm-up for next week’s blockbuster UFC 205. Bring on the Big Apple!

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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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Fight Announcements

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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