The UFC has officially confirmed the UFC 197 rumors that have been floating around the MMA world as of late. The UFC announced today that UFC 197 will be co-headlined by two highly anticipated title fights: Rafael Dos Anjos vs. Conor McGregor for the Lightweight belt, and Holly Holm vs. Miesha Tate for the Women’s Bantamweight title. The fight card is scheduled for March 5th and will take place at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
This will be Conor McGregor’s first fight since capturing the Featherweight belt when he defeated longtime champion Jose Aldo in a matter of 13 seconds. McGregor will be looking to mimic what he accomplished in the European promotion Cage Warriors, where he held both the Featherweight and Lightweight belt simultaneously. While both BJ Penn and Randy Couture held UFC belts in two separate weight classes, McGregor, if successful versus Dos Anjos, will be the first fighter in the UFC’s history to hold two belts at the same time.
Rafael Dos Anjos is also coming off a successful 2015, as he defeated Anthony Pettis last March to capture the Lightweight title, and then defended it successfully vs. Donald Cerrone last month, just one week after McGregor defeated Aldo. Like McGregor, Dos Anjos took little to no damage in his title defense as he finished the challenger in an early flurry and the fight was stopped just 1:06 into the 1st round. Dos Anjos is on a 5-fight win streak and has looked as impressive as any other fighter in the promotion, largely in part to the work of his world-class trainer, Rafael Cordeiro.
Holly Holm will be attempting to defend her Bantamweight title for the first time since shocking the world when she KO’d the formerly undefeated Ronda Rousey at UFC 193 in November. After original talks that Holm would first defend her belt in a rematch vs. the former champ, the UFC has decided to grant Tate a shot at the title before Rousey gets her inevitable chance to reclaim the title. This seemingly works well for all parties involved as Holm has stated that she wanted to defend her belt sooner rather than later and the extra time to recover will aid Rousey in the long run.
Miesha Tate will finally get her 2nd shot at the title after being promised to get the next chance at Rousey when she defeated Jessica Eye last summer, but eventually, she was passed for Holm instead. Tate has won 4 straight since losing to Rousey in 2013, with 2 of those wins coming against former title contenders Liz Carmouche and Sara McMann. The winner of Holm/Tate will most likely face the former champion in her return. It would be the first rematch for Holm, but if Tate captures the championship then it will be her third fight vs. Rousey. She lost the first two bouts via submission.
Without announcing any other fights that will take place on the card, UFC 197 is already highly anticipated as Holm and McGregor were arguably the two biggest story lines of 2015. This card is set to take place just 3 months before UFC 200 which by all indications may be the most stacked card since UFC 100 that took place back in 2009 and still holds the record for the most PPV buys in the promotions history. It’s safe to say that it’s a beautiful time to me a fan of Mixed Martial Arts.
Al Iaquinta vs. Paul Felder rescheduled for UFC 223 in April
MMA fans around the world wept in deep sorrow when Al Iaquinta withdrew from a bout scheduled for UFC 218 against Paul Felder. Weep no more, for Paul Felder faces Al Iaquinta at UFC 223. Rumblings behind the match-up, first reported by FloCombat.com, came Sunday night before MMAFighting.com confirmed the bout scheduled for unannounced pay-per-view card, later in the evening.
The original bout fell through due to a severe knee injury to Iaquinta. He spoke to BJ Penn Radio about the injury nearly a week before the December 2nd, PPV event in Detriot. The Long Island real estate agent claimed, “I tore my PCL and my MCL maybe three or four months ago… for me to really put in a full training camp and do what I need to do, I would’ve had to just focus on fighting and physical therapy… it was the kind of thing where all roads led to me not kind of taking a risk and fighting on December 2nd”.
Iaquinta went on to say, “I kind of accepted the fight, but I never signed a bout agreement… I was kind of told I had to give them an answer pretty quick. It was a fight I thought I really wanted. I thought it was a good stylistic match-up for me, so I accepted the fight, and then thinking about it over the course of a day, we realized it probably wasn’t a smart decision for my health, for everything”.
An outspoken lightweight, he is not the first of his kind. Al Iaquinta is no stranger to idly waiting on the sideline for the UFC to make a move. Contract disputes and other bad strokes of luck left the Serra-Longo with three octagon appearances since 2015. The feud between Iaquinta and the promotion comes as a surprise when looking at the credentials of the aforementioned fighter. With an octagon record of 8-2, he earned notoriety as one of the best lightweights in the world. During his time in the UFC, he defeated Kevin Lee, Ross Pearson, Joe Lauzon, Jorge Masvidal, and most recently Diego Sanchez.
His opponent, “The Irish Dragon”, Paul Felder, holds an impressive UFC record of his own. At 7-3, Felder defeated tough competition as well. His record notes wins over Daron Cruickshank, Jason Saggo, Stevie Ray, and Charles Oliveira. Even more impressive than his record, his knockout ratio. At this stage of his career, Felder knockouts 55% of his opponents (10 knockouts in 18 career pro bouts).
Like his opponent Iaquinta, Paul Felder has a separate career outside of fighting. As many should notice, Felder found a role as a color commentator with the promotion he fights for. Following the footsteps in a long line of fighters before him, Felder announced multiple events alongside another new addition to the UFC broadcast team, Brendan Fitzgerald.
PPV card, UFC 223 and its location are not official yet. Despite a lack of an announcement, the event takes place in Brooklyn, New York at the Barclays Centre, according to multiple reports. Currently, the card features no official bouts. Reports state Felice Herrig vs. Karolina Kowalkiewicz (per Jim Edwards), and Evan Dunham vs. Mairbek Taisumov (per Farah Hannoun) are both in the works for UFC 223.
Lewis Long vs. Ross Houston Officially added to Cage Warriors 91
Cage Warriors returns to the Newport Centre in Wales on March 3rd. The promotion announced today, via Twitter, the booking of Lewis Long vs. Ross Houston in the welterweight division.
The two fighters look to be on differing ends of their careers, yet, the bout marks an important opportunity for both fighters.
🔥 This one has fireworks written all over it! 🔥 pic.twitter.com/vgXHEZ8euy
— Cage Warriors (@CageWarriors) January 8, 2018
For Long, his record sits at, 15-5. In addition to his impressive record, the Welsh fighter holds a victory over former UFC contender, Che Mills. His victory over Mills emphasized a three fight unbeaten stretch. Regrettably, Long’s streak of three consecutive victories ended in his most recent bout.
Roberto Soldic defeated Long in decisive fashion at CW: 87, in his home country of Wales. Following forty seconds of the first round, Soldic landed a heavy head kick to finish the fight.
Long looks to re-gain momentum while his opponent looks to ride his momentum. Houston holds an undefeated record of, 5-0. Three of his five wins, coming in the Cage Warriors promotion. He holds two submission victories to his perfect record, the remainder of his victories came by way of decision. The Scotsman, fights out of SBG Inverness.
Cage Warriors 91 takes place in Newport, Wales at the Newport Centre on March 3rd. As it stands, the card features twelve amateur and eight professional bouts. Of the professional bouts, six of the eight will feature a fighter native to Wales.
On the main card, bantamweights Josh Reed and Brian Bouland will attempt to assert their names in the title mix. Officially, the CW:91 card is incomplete, more fight announcements to complete the Welsh card are expected to come.
Mamed Khalidov vs. Tomasz Narkun Officially Booked for KSW 42
KSW 42 in Lodz, Poland has its main event. The promotion’s middleweight champion, Mamed Khalidov (34-4), will compete in a superfight against light heavyweight champion, Tomasz Narkun (14-2).
Khalidov and Narkun will not put their belts on the line, as this main event fight will be a catchweight bout.
Mamed Khalidov is back to take another crown! The KSW middleweight champion will face the KSW light heavyweight champ in the #KSW42 main event!
👑 Tomasz Narkun ❓
👑 Borys Mańkowski ✅
👑 Michał Materla ✅ pic.twitter.com/PZzBCxAkBH
— KSW (@KSW_MMA) January 8, 2018
Mamed Khalidov last fought at KSW 39 when he defeated Borys Mankowski via unanimous decision. Fans were dissatisfied with the verdict, reacting with whistles and boos. Khalidov did not give an interview after the fight, and instead left the cage going straight to his changing room.
The 37-year-old from Olsztyn enters this superfight against Narkun on excellent form, being unbeaten in his last 14 fights. Khalidov has Szymon Bońkowski and Paweł Derlacz in his corner, the two coaches who had a major part to play in former UFC strawweight champion Joanna Jędrzejczyk’s success.
This will be the second fight in a row in which Khalidov will not defend his championship belt. He last defended his title in May of 2016 at KSW 35, beating Aziz Karaoglu via unanimous decision.
Like Khalidov, Narkun last fought at KSW 39, defeating Marcin Wojcik via submission (triangle choke) in the first round. He won his light heavyweight belt via first round TKO when he defeated former UFC fighter Goran Rejlic, at KSW 32 in London. A 28-year-old warrior from Szczecin, Narkun frequently requested a fight for the KSW heavyweight belt, but the federation had other plans for the well-developed “Giraffe.”
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