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It’s All Over! – UFC 192 Finish Analysis

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UFC 192’s main card may have been a decision-fest, but some of the undercard dwellers definitely made their case for a bump up the card with some stunning finishes that we will break down now. This is the UFC 192 finish analysis.

Sage Northcutt def. Francisco Trevino via KO round 1

Sage Northcutt went someway to living up to his hype on Saturday night dispatching Trevino in under a minute, but it wasn’t his skills that got him the win, instead it was his sheer athletic talent leading to a rapid fire punching assault and a quick debut win.

 

This fight finish started with a costly slip from Trevino as he tried to surprise his experienced kicker opponent with a hook kick of his own. Sage capitalized on the slip by following Trevino to the mat and unloading a barrage of punches on Trevino. Francisco was able to get back to his feet, but the punches never stopped coming forcing Trevino to cover up in defense. This allowed Northcutt to change levels and get an easy takedown landing in side control. Trevino defended by turtling up and giving his back to Sage who continued his punching from side back control causing the referee to step in.
Trevino would have had better success by stopping Sage’s punching rhythm by controlling his posture. Trevino should have broken down Northcutt on the ground and controlled his head giving Sage less space to open up with the punches. Trevino was upset about what could be argued was an early stoppage, but when you’re turtled up and someone’s hammering you with punches, the ref is going to stop the fight more times than not.

Derrick Lewis def. Viktor Pesta via KO round 3

Derrick Lewis may not have the most well rounded skills in the heavyweight division, as shown by being out-grappled for the entire first two rounds of this contest, but he does have legitimate knockout power that eventually carried him to this TKO win.

 

There isn’t too much to say about this finish, except sometimes all you need is power. Lewis rocked Pesta late in the second round and almost finished him, until Pesta was saved by the bell, but Viktor was never able to recover. Going into the third round, the still rocked Pesta shot for immediate takedowns only to be shrugged off by Lewis as he continued his ground and pound assault. Pesta focused on defending punches rather than defending position and ended up giving Lewis an easy mount pass and after a few more punches the fight was done.

 

One thing to take away from this contest is defense. Even when hurt, you must defend position and look for escape routes, especially on the ground or in the clinch. Pesta all but handed Lewis an extremely dominant position and gave up the fight.

 

Rose Namajunas def. Angela Hill via submission (rear naked choke) round 1

 

Angela Hill showed her lack of MMA experience in this contest with some simply unforgivable ground defense, especially against a slick submission artist like Rose Namajunas who took her back beautifully for a rear naked choke finish.

 

The ending of this one started with a takedown from Rose who controlled Hill well on the ground. the striker Hill tried desperately to separate herself from Rose on the mat to gain space and get to her feet where she is infinitely more comfortable, but Namajunas was having none of it. When this failed, Hill turtled up and allowed Rose to take her back and sink in the leg hooks. From here Hill made the error of all errors and tried to stand straight up as soon as she saw the opportunity and while focusing on this she lifted her chin and failed to control Rose’s arms, giving Namajunas the perfect scenario for the rear naked choke.

 

Rose slapped on the submission on the now standing Hill who didn’t really attempt to peel the hold off at all and rather waited until she was nearly unconscious to wave her arms to signal her tapping out.

 

This fight showed how important basics are. Rear naked choke defense 101 is keep your chin tucked and go 2 on 1 controlling your opponent’s choking arm. From here you can look to improve your position and get to safety. Hill rushed everything too much and instead fell right into Namajunas’ trap.

Adriano Martins def. Islam Makhachev via KO round 1

Adriano Martins’ KO win showed one of the most beautiful, deadly and overlooked aspects of MMA that can win or lose you a fight, the art of timing.

 

Despite Islam’s early success in the striking exchanges in this fight, the seasoned KO artist Martins was using his veteran experience throughout the fight, using these exchanges to figure out Makhachev’s striking patterns and analyse openings for counters. This paid off big time as when Islam threw a massive overhand left, Martins was able to slip back just out of the way and simultaneously counter with an overhand right of his own to Islam’s now completely open jaw. this punch landed full force and perfectly on Makhachev, collapsing him to the floor and forcing the referee to call the fight in favour of Martins.

Albert Tumenov def. Alan Jouban via KO round 1

In this winning effort, Tumenov showed off just how much power he has in his legs, by kicking straight through Jouban’s guard to get the KO win.

 

Jouban really didn’t do much wrong despite losing this fight. He kept his hands up and defend the kick correctly by cushioning his temple with his glove. However, this still wasn’t enough to fend off the power of Tumenov who was still able to visibly rock Alan with the head kick and follow up with punches. Albert followed the kick with two uppercuts that connected and finally a straight left on the jaw that put Jouban away. Jouban could have looked to tie up Tumenov, however this sequence happened in a split second and even that may not have saved him from this knockout.
Despite Jouban’s protest, this was a legitimate stoppage as Jouban went down from this kick hard and ended up face down on the ground with his arms by his side showing no signs of scrambling for position or a takedown indicating he had no clue where he was

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Jacare Souza vs. Kelvin Gastelum Official for UFC 224

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Brazils second UFC event of the new year added another middleweight contest. UFC officials announced, Kelvin Gastelum will face Jacare Souza in Rio de Janeiro at UFC 224.

The inevitable main card booking of Souza comes after headlining UFC on Fox 27. The Brazilian fighter is 3-2 in his last 5. His recent contests only look worrisome in comparison to the entirety of his long career. Prior to his past 5, Souza held an eight fight win streak. In that period of time, he defeated Gegard Mousasi, Derek Brunson (for the first time), and Chris Camozzi twice. Despite the drama words and numbers on screens create, his recent record is nothing to have concern over. A split decision loss to Yoel Romero in 2015, and a 2017 TKO loss to division champion, Robert Whittaker is manageable. Defeating Derek Brunson in the opening round of their main event bout kept him deep in the milky opaque froth that is the middleweight title picture. Clearly his position in that photo lies upon the upcoming match up.

Looking ahead for Jacare Souza, assuming he wins, becomes interesting, just as it devastating for Kelvin Gastelum. Gastelum is 3-1 since returning to middleweight, technically his record sits at 2-1 and 1 No Contest. He tested positive for marijuana in a sample collected the night of his bout against Vitor Belfort by USADA in March of 2017. Originally, the outcome of the bout read the way viewers remembered it; a 1st rd. TKO in favor of Gastelum. On May 7th, 2017, the win was officially overturned and changed to a No Contest. He also received a 90 day suspension, adjusted to the day of the failed test (March 11th).

In the aftermath of the failed test, his scheduled contest against Anderson Silva. He then split his next two contests, losing to Chris Weidman and defeating Michael Bisping emphatically, yet under odd circumstances. A win for Gastelum certainly muddies the waters of middleweight contenders, while adding to a good 185 lb. resume.

UFC 224 takes place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on May 12th, 2018 at the Jeunesse Arena. A battle betwen Brazilians is set for the date as Lyoto Machida takes on Vitor Belfort. Other featured bouts include; Aleksei Oleynik vs. Junior Albini*, Cezar Ferreira vs. Karl Roberson*, Alberto Mina vs. Ramazan Emeev, and Davi Ramos vs. Nick Hein*.

*Bouts reportedly set for UFC 224

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Exclusive: Mike Ekundayo, “He could come with anything, I don’t care”

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In a little less than a week, Rise of Champions crowns its inaugural bantamweight champion. The crowning of the first 135 lb. champion marks the young promotions first champion. It makes sense why the promotion owned and operated by UK MMA star, Brad Pickett, and Team Titan head coach, Mickey Papas plan to crown the promotions first champion in the bantamweight division. Pickett competed in the division throughout his tenure with the WEC, and ultimately the entity which absorbed the light weight promotion, the UFC. Even more-so, two young and rising prospects of the division. One undefeated in his professional and amateur career, the other riding a seven consecutive victories, five by submission. The two meet February 17th, Mike Ekundayo puts his career unbeaten streak up against Jonas Magard’s at ROC 5, for the aforementioned, inaugural bantamweight championship.

Speaking to the undefeated Ekundayo before his fight, he believes this opportunity to be inevitable. Born in Hackney, (a borough of London) early in life, Ekundayo was no stranger to cramming his belongings into large cardboard boxes. At the age of 7, he moved from Hackney to Herne Hill, a district located in South London. Two years later he found himself in similar situation, moving from his vaguely new home in Herne Hill to Brixton. A road trip in the car to his new home, took approximately 5 minutes.

It is admittedly, not an easy life. In a harrowing article describing the horrors of gang life in London by the metro.uk, former gang member turned community activist, made the claim, “When you are from Brixton, from Peckham, west London, anywhere in London, you are seeing hardship where a lot of communities can’t reach their full potential”.

In his own words, Ekundayo describes his home as, “not the best start to have in your life. It’s not the best upbringing”. But that couldn’t matter any less for him. Not only does the London resident consistently work to grow his potential, he gets to see it every day. His coaches Brad Pickett and Mickey Papas hold the knowledge as well as first-hand experience, increasing his limits with every session. “We’re all close”, speaking of his coaches and team. “My head coach is Mickey Papas, he’s very knowable in the game. He’s been around for a very long time. He teaches me a lot, I can learn a lot of stuff from Mickey Papas. Sometimes I just think, how does he know all of this? Where did he get this information from?”

He continued, “While I was coming up through amateur, Brad (Pickett) was still an active fighter, but nowadays he’s taken a coaching approach. So he’s coaching us prospects getting us to where he got to and further… He’s been through it all, gotten to the top, and stayed at the top”.

Further discussing his coach, “For UK MMA, you could definitely call Brad a legend. He’s done a lot in his career, and someone who I rate highly as an MMA fighter is Demetrious Johnson, and of course Brad has got a win over (him). I feel like just being surrounded by someone like Brad, you’re working towards the right things. When he passes information onto you, you respect it that bit more because of far he got in his career. He’s definitely given me the right guidance, I trust his guidance”.

When it comes to the upcoming title fight, confidence poured out from where praise and respect had once been. “I just think it’s my time, to be honest. I really do believe it’s my time for all of this. The work I put in, certain things become inevitable”, he said. “I actually called this after I won my third fight, I called for belts and big shows. I spoke it to existence”. He continued, “It’s my time to finally to get a strap of some sort. All the straps is what we’re going for, all of them. We’re going for every one”.

“Rise of Champions is my show… That’s how I feel when I’m performing on ROC, it’s just my show, it’s my time to shine. Everyone knows who there here to see, there not really there to see the other guys. It’s my time, it’s my show and I’m going to put on a show on February 17th and I’m going to win that belt”.

The infectious nature of his positive attitude was palpable. Although we only spoke through small rectangular devices, I could feel his energy in the room. His attitude shined brightest when talking about what it would mean to be the first ever ROC Bantamweight champion. Ekundayo claimed, “It just means a lot to have my first belt in anything to be honest… Within myself, I call myself a champion, every day. But now, other people would have to call me a champion because I’ve got a belt… And one thing I really want to do is, which sounds a bit weird, I just want to take the belt home to my area, to Brixton.”

“I just want to take it to my area, and just show the people of that area what hard work can achieve… I want to just take it to my people and show them that not for nothing, we are from Brixton, it’s not the best start to have in your life. It’s not the best upbringing but you can rise above it and you can achieve your goals and that’s what the belt will mean”.

When the conversation shifted to the topic of his opponent, Ekundayo had less encouraging words rolling off his tongue. Jonas Magard, the second half of the ROC 5 main event, holds a record of 7-4. Currently he owns a seven fight win streak after starting his career 1-3. Ekundayo thought, “He did fight quite decent guys in his three loses… but in the seven fight win streak, none of his opponents have been of caliber”.

He elaborated further, “What’s in my thoughts is more me, then it is of him. So, he could come with anything, I don’t care. I’m just focused on how I’m going to be picture perfect. How I’m going to paint a masterpiece, how I’m going to make it a beautifully perfect performance. That’s what my primary focus is on, so what he does to me is irrelevant, I’m just going to focus on how I’m going to be perfect on the night of February 17th”.

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UFC 222 Re-Worked with Cris Cyborg vs. Yana Kunitskaya, and Frankie Edgar vs. Brian Ortega

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UFC 222 has been saved, and it didn’t take a superhero to lift the burning boulder which was Max Holloway’s injury and withdrawal. All it took was a female named Cyborg and a man with a demeanor so smooth, he could be mistaken for an alter-ego. Cris Cyborg now serves as the UFC 222 main event when she defends her featherweight belt against Yana Kunitskaya. Frankie Edgar bumped down to the co-main event to face Brian Ortega in what is likely a title eliminator. The news of the UFC 222 revival originally stemmed from a report by MMAFighting.com and confirmed later in the evening by the UFC.

Over the course of the week, reports surrounded the Las Vegas card and whether it would survive. Multiple options were reportedly being mulled over; cancelling the card outright, changing the pay-per-view (PPV) to a ‘Fight Night’ with an Edgar vs. Ortega main event, Dillashaw vs. Garbrandt 2 main event, among others. Ultimately, the promotion landed on Cyborg vs. Kunitskaya as the new main event, while also booking Brian Ortega.

This adjustment of the card places their women’s Featherweight champion in the second PPV main event in three months. Cris Cyborg recently put her undisputed Featherweight title on the line against Holly Holm at the year ending card, UFC 219. She successfully defended her belt by unanimous decision, in what was an amazing technical display from the Brazilian. In her octagon career, Cyborg is undefeated in her four appearances with three KO/TKO stoppages.

The second half of the new main event, Yana Kunitskaya, makes her UFC debut against the scariest women on the roster. If the 145 lb. champion was not enough of a challenge, Kunitskaya also makes her first appearance in the division since defeating Cindy Dandois in December of 2010. Of Russia descent, her most recent performances came inside the Invicta FC cage. At the female-only promotion, she posted a record of 1-1, with 1 No Contest. Her loss and no contest, both came at the hands of former UFC Featherweight title challenger, Tonya Evinger.

Turning to the co-main event, both fighters have been relatively inactive but, for good reason. Brian Ortega amazingly forced perennial men’s Featherweight contender, Cub Swanson, to tap in the second round of their ‘Fight Night: Fresno’ contest. Ortega fought twice in 2017, but more-so stayed inactive following his stoppage victory over Swanson. The Californian contender announced his desire to wait in line for the next title shot following the recent victory.

For Frankie Edgar, his last fight took place at UFC 211 when he absolutely demolished young and rising star, Yair Rodriguez. A card which took place last May. While Ortega holds an undefeated record, Edgar is undefeated in his previous 9 fights, excluding people named Jose Aldo.

UFC 222 takes place at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada on March 3rd.

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