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Jeremy Stephens welcomes Renan Barão to Featherweight Division with 29-28 Unanimous Decision Upset

Peyton Wesner

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On a Sunday night when the future of the bantamweight division was on display, former UFC bantamweight champion Renan “The Baron” Barão moved up to 145 pounds for confirmation that he can do battle with featherweight warriors like Conor McGregor, José Aldo, and Frankie Edgar. However, before he faces the best of the division, the 2nd ranked bantamweight had a date with 9th ranked Jeremy “Lil’ Heathen” Stephens.

Both having seen much more successful days prior to stepping into the octagon, considering Barão had lost two of his last three (T.J. Dillashaw can be thanked) and Stephens was on a spiral of three defeats in his last four, this co-main event was imperative to both fighters. If the aforementioned explanation didn’t do anything for your excitement, then Saturday’s weigh-ins, in which Lil’ Heathen shoved The Baron as he hoped off the scales, should have increased one’s anxiousness for these two to square off.

Although Stephens didn’t land the first strike as the day before, he gained more comfort as the bout grew old before landing combination after combination in route to a 29-28 unanimous decision victory.

Round 1
From the onset, the two fighters didn’t trade punches, but leg kicks rather and the former champion had more success with such a strike by landing consistently. Then, Stephens transitioned to with a clinch attempted, but he was drilled with a strike. Now exiting the exchange, Lil’ Heathen did land flush with a leg kick, yet Barão answered with a right-left combination prior to showcasing his speed with a clean, fluent exit. In what would become a common theme, The Baron persisted with another clinch; though, Stephens showcased his outstanding takedown defense by placing his back to the cage. Within close quarters, Barão enjoyed multiple knees to his adversary’s body before a break. He continued to be on the attack with a sharp left straight in southpaw stance before causing damage in a Stephens’ induced clinch around the mid-round mark. The five-minute segment concluded with more clinch action, for after the two traded in the pocket, the experienced bantamweight tried his hand at another takedown. Unfortunately for him, Lil’ Heathen showed true grit to stay on his feet by keeping a low center of gravity in a squat position and circled out.

Round 2

The action began with Barão continuing to push the pace with a right thigh kick. Furthermore, he illustrated great pose and never ceasing movement by ducking in and out of Stephens’ dangerous blows. However, this had no bearing on his takedown success as Stephens hedged two, making The Baron 0-for-7 up to that point. Now, if there was ever a clear cut momentum swing, which in most fights there is, it had to be Stephens stunning and wobbling his opponent with a beautiful left hook.  Barão, now desiring to re-find solid ground, was unable to have too much time to discover such as Stephens was now pushing the pace prior to landing a massive left uppercut. The barrage continued on the Brazilian with a right hook, but he was able to back off the true featherweight thanks to a pieced together right hook-left hook combination. The tempo eventually slowed around the three-minute mark. Or that was until Barão tried another clinch for a takedown. Almost as a replay of the first five minutes, Stephens put his back against the cage before reversing position.  Now able to land strikes more effectively, the American landed left body shots before alternating to knees with the crowd cheering heavily. Despite, The Baron nicking Stephens with a spinning back kick, the stand-up strike totals continued to soar for the 9th ranked featherweight. Inside of one minute, the now crowd favorite increased the volume with a series of straight right-hand punches. While Barão finally timed a takedown, the ground stint didn’t last long, for the fight was back to standing as the horn sounded.

Round 3

In the winner-take-all final five, Renan Barão and Jeremy Stephens witnessed swings and misses initially. Yet, a left straight by The Baron started the party, for his opponent countered with a left-right jab combination. Barão replicated a similar two-piece but was pushed to the cage via a left handed body shot. Following an unsuccessful clinch that resulted in a break at the 3:07 mark, a back and forth exchange broke out, which the American landed another uppercut flush to the chin. Barão, like a power line in a wind storm, was swaying back and forth on unstable legs. Nonetheless, he had enough balance and awareness to get Stephens off his feet into takedown territory. While Lil’ Heathen later escaped, he quickly returned the favor with an attempt of his own. Though, a standing break transpired before Stephens broke in the final minute with a left-hand rip. Do or die, Barão came running in for the takedown, but all he did in the process was eat an uppercut. This one would go the distance with another clinch with 16 seconds remaining and big elbows landed by the man looking for a victory in his featherweight debut. The waiting game commenced with both Renan Barão and Jeremy Stephens throwing their hands up in victory.

He Said It

Barão is a true champion. Dana White promised me something tonight, so I came here to take it!” voiced Jeremy Stephens. “And that’s exactly what I did.

Result:
Jeremy Stephens defeats Renan Barão via Unanimous Decision – (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)


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5 Things We Learned from UFC on Fox 26: Lawler vs Dos Anjos

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The UFC’s return to Winnipeg in over 4 years certainly did not disappoint the fans, as the card delivered just as it was expected with plenty of action packed fights.

Upset was in play often times for this card as on more than one occasion, the fans’ jaws dropped in shock and the predictions going into the fights were completely defied.

There are plenty of things to take away from this card, but what were the 5 biggest lessons learned here?

1. Rafael dos Anjos means business at welterweight

While Vegas odds may not have reflected it, dos Anjos had plenty of doubters coming into this fight on whether he could beat the top fighters in the welterweight division, his new found home. I’ll be the first to say, I didn’t think he’d be able to deal with Lawler’s power and size, considering that ‘Ruthless’ used to compete at middleweight, but he completely changed my perspective on what he brings to this division.

With the mix of powerful leg kicks and crisp boxing, dos Anjos completely neutralized the former welterweight champion and took home a dominant victory, winning all five rounds of the fight.

Yes, Lawler was injured and barely moved for the last three rounds, but that should not discredit the masterful performance that dos Anjos had tonight. This only sets up a fight with the current champion Tyron Woodley now (unless Colby Covington gets it), and while Woodley is a whole different match up, it makes for an entertaining fight.

2. Robbie Lawler is still one of the toughest fighters on the roster

Despite both his legs looking like they were completely destroyed by the third round and him losing the fight, we once again saw the toughness and grit of Lawler to never give up.

While we don’t know how bad his injury was, when you see Lawler not moving much and standing still for three rounds straight, you know something is seriously hurting. He endured an unbelievable amount of punishment tonight but at the end was still standing pumping up the crowd. What a warrior.

3. Josh Emmett… the new force to be reckoned with at 145lbs?

Simply no words. It was easily the biggest shocker of the night and maybe even upset of the year. Stepping in on relatively short notice for Jose Aldo, Emmett was counted out in this fight on paper against the former title challenger Ricardo Lamas, and weighing in at 148.5lbs on the scale didn’t help convincing the fans.

It’s My Time!

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But it definitely didn’t matter as he delivered a left hook from hell, sleeping Lamas at the end of the first round, sending a shock to the entire division and rising as a new threat to everyone in top 10. He said that his goal here was to shock the world, and shock the world he did. With this performance, Emmett immediately rises to a position where he now only needs one or two more significant wins from a possible title shot.

4. Mike Perry needs some time to develop into a title contender

Despite showing an unbelievable toughness in a three-round war against Santiago Ponzinibbio, Perry was unable to back up his words before the fight, losing via unanimous decision.

In a fight against a very tough opponent, Perry was once again exposed in a couple of areas as he was against Alan Jouban on his endurance, as he showed signs of fatigue as the second round came around. At the age of 26, he still has plenty of time, but Perry will need to fill that massive hole in order to continue to rise the ladder in the extremely stacked welterweight division, or else he’ll run into some trouble sooner or later.

5. Glover Teixeira isn’t done just yet

This fight was an excellent example of advantages a veteran brings compared to a young and upcoming fighter. Teixeira, coming off that tough loss in Sweden against Alexander Gustafsson, was also doubted by many as he came in as the underdog against a rising prospect in Misha Cirkunov.

Teixeira was put in immediate trouble in the first round, getting tagged by Cirkunov multiple times and getting backed up against the cage, but was able to outsmart Cirkunov by dragging him down to the ground and eventually pounding him out. Teixeira seemed to have lost all momentum against Anthony Johnson, and even more so against Gustafsson, but this fight proved that he is not done just yet, and showed the difference in level between the top 5 and top 10 of the division.

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*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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Ladies Fight Night 7: “Double Trouble” Preview

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Polish women’s federation Ladies Fight Night is going to celebrate their second birthday this year on the 15th to 17th of December. Two days, two events with a lot of great bouts.

LFN in Poland is being titled the new Invicta FC. The Polish owners created this federation to give European women a chance to fight on a big platform.

Hosting their first ever event in December 2015, LFN will hold two great cards next week, that will feature women who have fought under many prestigious promotions, such as the UFC, Invicta, Bellator, Glory, and Kunlun.

Two days of fantastic fights, intensified by a double dose of sports impressions. The name is not accidental, LFN 7 / LFN 8 combines two events, during which the best Polish fighters will be shown, as well as the best fighters from Europe (including France, Sweden, Italy, the Czech Republic and Romania)

The stakes are high, and we are electrified by the clashes between warriors such as Żaneta Cieśla vs Silvia La Notte and Patricia Axling vs. Cindy Silvestri. Mainly due to their vastness of their experience in the cage.

In the fight of the evening, the talented Romanian Cristina Stanciu will face Magdaléna Šormovádo. Stanciu fought twice in the UFC, but she was unfortunately cut from the promotion after suffering consecutive losses to Cortney Casey and Maryna Moroz.

Judyta Rymarzak vs Marta Waliczek is an amazing fight between two experienced kickboxers. Both making their pro MMA debuts on the night, we will witness a one-of-a-kind duel between two kickboxing perfectionists, as they look to transcend their skills into the MMA world.

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