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Five Reasons You Should Care About Alexa Grasso’s UFC Debut

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Alexa Grasso vs Mizuki Inoue

As far as TUF finales go, Saturday night’s offering in Mexico City is about as good as it gets. Rafael dos Anjos and Tony Ferguson meet in a crowd-pleasing headliner with title implications. Then there is a supporting cast that includes Marcin Held’s UFC debut against Diego Sanchez, and a featherweight scrap between Ricardo Lamas and Charles Oliveira.

On top of that, Invicta FC standout Alexa Grasso will be setting foot inside the UFC’s octagon for the first time when she faces Heather Jo Clark. With a series of thrilling action-fights at the top of the card, you could be forgiven for overlooking the main card opener, so here are five strong reasons why you shouldn’t.

1 – Always Exciting. Always

Grasso took a combined one minute and 13 seconds to dispatch the first three opponents of her professional MMA career. While the level of competition has since increased, the Mexican’s performances have been no less enthralling. From her competitive bout with fellow prospect MIZUKI, to her dominant dismantling of Jodie Esquibel, Grasso’s fights always make for compelling viewing.

When Alexa Grasso throws punches she commands attention. Slick footwork, effortless head movement, and incredibly fast hands fired off from all angles. That might be what you would expect from someone coming from a country with such a rich boxing heritage, but Guadalajara’s undefeated strawweight shows ever improving grappling too. Grasso’s smooth yet aggressive submission offense is the perfect compliment to a striking game built around sound fundamentals.

2 – Underrated Opposition

Recently turned 36-years-old, building a UFC career that has been held back by significant injury, Heather Jo Clark’s name rarely comes up when people talk about the top end of the strawweight division. The Xtreme Couture fighter’s 7-5 professional record does not tell the full story.

After struggling with injury during The Ultimate Fighter season 20, Clark still managed to beat scrappy Australian Bec Rawlings at the season finale. Then after nearly 17 months away from the octagon, Clark pushed future title challenger Karolina Kowalkiewicz hard in a competitive losing effort back in May. Win or lose, Clark has never been an easy fighter for opponents to get past. How Grasso fares in her step up to the big league against Clark, will tell us plenty about how far she can go in the division.

3 – This is Important for Invicta too

The perception held by many fans is that Invicta FC is a feeder organisation for the UFC. Some even confuse the UFC Fight Pass broadcast deal that the all-women’s promotion have with UFC ownership. While Invicta’s role in providing opportunities for women in the sport is important, the reality is that more recently, the UFC have rarely been calling fighters up from Invicta at all.

Over the past 12 months, Veronica Macedo, Lina Lansberg, Ketlen Vieira, Katlyn Chookagian, Kelly Faszholz, Jocelyn Jones-Lybarger, Danielle Taylor, and Anna Elmose have all made their UFC debuts. Eight fighters. Not one was picked up from Invicta. If you include Tatiana Suarez and Amanda Bobby Cooper who fought in the TUF 23 finale, it would be 10, with only Cooper making the move from Invicta into the UFC through the show. Invicta has to be the platform that helps fighters achieve their UFC goals, and adding Alexa Grasso’s name to that list reminds us that it can be.

4. Prospect Status Overload

It’s not that the strawweight division is devoid of prospects. It’s packed with them. Rose Namajunas, Tecia Torres, and Paige VanZant are still young in their MMA careers despite their status within the division. Recent TUF winner Tatiana Suarez has the tools to make a serious dent in the division too. That is before we’ve even considered fighers outside of the UFC such as Angela Lee and Livia Renata Souza.

Yet there is a champion at the top of the 115 pound division who has become so dominant, so quickly, that competitive contenders could start to dry up in a hurry. Joanna Jedrzejczyk has only met one woman who could truly test her, Claudia Gadelha, and she has already beaten the Brazilian twice. If Jedrzejczyk gets past Karolina Kowalkiewicz at UFC 205 people will already start to wonder who is next. If the Mexican can continue to show the promise she has thus far, a future Joanna Jedrzejczyk vs. Alexa Grasso title fight is not out of the question.

5. Finally the Mexican Star the UFC Have Courted

The UFC have been keen to develop their Mexican fanbase for some time. From the events they have held across the border, to the three Latin American series of The Ultimate Fighter that they have put together, Mexico is a market they are interested in cultivating. The final piece in the puzzle is a charismatic, heroic star who can connect with the nation’s passion. They have never had that.

While Cain Velasquez has held the UFC heavyweight title on two separate occasions, he is far from media friendly. Often reported as difficult to deal with, and injured as often as he is available to fight, building a relationship with fans has never been easy. Beyond that, only Yair Rodriguez has made any sort of waves in his division and is still some way from the very top. There are plenty of ifs where Grasso is concerned too, but if she can put it all together there is a connection there ready to be built with a Mexican audience the UFC would love to develop further.

The TUF Latin American 3 Finale: dos Anjos vs Ferguson takes place Saturday, November 5 at the Arena Ciudad de Mexico in Mexico City, Mexico. The Alexa Grasso vs. Heather Jo Clark bout opens up the main card, which will air live on FOX Sports 1.

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UFC looks for undefeated fighters for the next season of TUF

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As the latest season of The Ultimate Fighter comes to a close in a few weeks, UFC has set tryouts for the next season of The Ultimate Fighter on December 12th but there is a catch, participates must hold an undefeated record.

Titled The Ultimate Fighter 27: Battle of the Undefeated, the next installment of TUF will be looking for male fighters with an undefeated record with a minimum of 3-0 to apply for the show. The casting call asks for featherweights and welterweights but in the early stages of tryouts, a weight class will be decided later in the process.

Fighters must be aged between 21 – 34 and will grapple and light spar in front of UFC matchmakers and must be prepared to stay in Vegas until December 16th.

It is unknown what the future of TUF will be after the TV deal with FOX ends next year but the show has been a success for the company and many fighters to emerge from The Ultimate Fighter have become champion including current interim Lightweight champion Tony Ferguson, Bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw and Strawweight champion Rose Namajunas coming from past seasons of the show.

This will be the third time in a row that a gimmick will be added to the show that has been on the decline in the ratings in recent years but yet to use only undefeated fighters. An undefeated streak can be one of the most prestigious records to keep in mixed martial arts with the wins and losses being so vital in a fighters career.

Who will keep their zero? Who will be the next Ultimate Fighter? Who will be the coaches?

These questions will be answered when the new season of TUF begins shooting in January and the show premiering later in the year.

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Tom Gallicchio on UFC Release “It’s Been a Dream of Mine to Fight in KSW”

Harry Davies

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MMA Latest spoke to TUF 22 and 25 season competitor Tom Gallicchio about being cut from the UFC, and potential promotions that he could sign for in the future.

Gallicchio (19-10) signed for the UFC after reaching the semi-finals of The Ultimate Fighter: Season 25. Losing to James Krause in his debut, “Da Tank” was informed earlier this month that the UFC had parted ways with him.


Q: Before we jump into the whole free agency stuff, talk me through how the UFC broke the news that they were going to release you?

I thought I was going to have another fight, this time at lightweight. I got a letter dated July 7th, saying they were going to keep me, I received it in September. I was getting emails to update my USADA, I never got a cut letter and I got tested by USADA on October 24th. I was hoping to fight sometime in January or February, then they broke the news to me that they need to make a room for new talent.

Q: You made your UFC debut against James Krause in July, then 4 months down the line, they cut you. How surprised were you at this somewhat out of the blue decision?

I’m thankful for my opportunity in the UFC and the fact that they gave me another shot, but it was definitely surprising how it happened.  They released a newsletter in September welcoming Jesse (Taylor) Dhiego (Lima) and myself into the UFC, all signs pointed towards another fight. Hearing that I was cut was just heartbreaking.

Q: Have any talks started with a new promotion. I saw you name a few on Twitter, the likes of  Bellator, BAMMA, KSW and ACB. Who do you see yourself signing for?

I would love to compete in any of those! A couple of them hit me up, one of which I am very happy to talk with. Since they came out, It’s been a dream of mine to fight in KSW. They’re taking care of their fighters, I would love to fight for them. I want to travel, I want to see the world, I want to fight. I’ve got a lot of fans overseas and I want to give them a show.

It’s been a dream of mine to fight in KSW.

Q: Your long time friend Jesse Taylor was victorious in the TUF 25 Finale, but he has since accepted a 1-year ban for failing a USADA test. What is your take on this given how close you two are?

I know Jesse is not a juicer, I’ve known him ever since I came down to (Team) Quest. It’s probably come from some supplement that he’s taking, it sucks for him. I think he went into a little bit of panic mode, he could have done a better job of handling it.

I don’t take supplements, if there was a way, I’d still keep myself in the USADA pool just because I believe in a clean sport. I think it’s important we keep the sport clean and if we’re cleaning up the supplement companies then good, because no one else is.

Where would you look to see Tom fight next? Let us know below!

 

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2017 IMMAF World Championships: Finals fixtures

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After 4 days of non stop action from Monday to Thursday we have our final 14 bouts to determine the 2017 IMMAF World Champions. Most of these fighters have fought four times for their slot  in the final and tomorrow will be their chance to finish off what has been a fantastic week of fights.

Kicking off the action tomorrow will be Michele Oliveira vs. Danni Neilan. Both women have looked extremely impressive in their bouts so far, Oliveira has spent less time in the cage than her opponent after finishing two of her fights. Neilan is the Irish teams last chance of a gold in this competition and comes into this after a war of a last fight. She is constantly pressuring and has solid striking with incredible ground and pound from any position on top.

Joel Aronlainen came down to featherweight after testing the water at lightweight in the European Championships. His lanky build and impressive overall skill set has seen him pick up 3 finishes in the competition so far. His opponent Delyan Georgiev is undefeated and will be a tough challenge for him. Georgiev has dominated the featherweight division at amateur, his gold medal at the European Championships could now lead to him becoming a world champion if he continues to perform like we’re used to seeing him do.

At 155lbs, Vitali Andruhovich will take on top American prospect Quintin Thomas for the gold. Andruhovich has been on the right side of two very close split decisions in this tournament so far. His controversial win over Irishman Ciaran Clarke had many people scratching their heads at the decision. He now has the chance to prove himself with a win against Quintin Thomas. Thomas is the UMMAF National Champion and a very experienced amateur fighter. Racking up 13 wins he has been a dominant fighter in most of his fights, his sole losses coming from sustaining an injury and a split decision loss.

For the Middleweight medal we have a battle of the Nordic fighters. Iceland’s Bjorn Lukas Haraldsson has looked phenomenal in his fights so far, finishing each and everyone inside a round. The Mjolnir fighter has been to many the highlight of the tournament, but has a tough task a head of him in Laallam who’s had half the number of fights in this tournament and looked impressive in both.

Bahrain’s last hope for a medal lies in the hand of Light Heavyweight finisher Murtaza Talha Ali. Ali has finished all four of his bouts so far, 3 via TKO/KO and his last being by way of submission. Standing in his way of gold will be Pavel Pahomenko from Belarus who’s proven to be lethal with submissions once an opportunity arises scoring two submission wins inside the first round.

Here is the full fixture list for the finals tomorrow:

  • Michele Oliveira  vs.  Danni Neilan 125 lbs
  • Anna Astvik  vs.  Hannah Dawson 115 lbs
  • Chamia Chabbi  vs.  Manon Fiorot 135 lbs
  • C. McCrudden  vs.  Fabiana Giampà 145 lbs
  • Gase Sanita  vs.  Kaycee Blake 155 lbs
  • Yernaz Mussabek  vs.  Serdar Atlas 125 lbs
  • Gamzat Magomedov  vs.  O. Moldagaliyev 135 lbs
  • Joel Arolainen  vs.  Delyan Georgiev 145 lbs
  • V. Andruhovich  vs.  Quitin Thomas 155 lbs
  • Sola Axel  vs.  Benjamin Bennett 170 lbs
  • B. Haraldsson  vs.  Khaled Laallam 185 lbs
  • Pavel Pahomenko  vs.  Murtaza Talha Ali 205 lbs
  • Irman Smajic  vs.  Lev Vins 265 lbs
  • Atanas Krastanov  vs.  Marcin Kalata 300 lbs
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