No sooner had Brazilian prospect Ketlen Vieira announced her signing with the UFC, than the promotion added another exciting newcomer to its bantamweight ranks. Katlyn Chookagian is the newest member of the UFC roster and is scheduled to make her debut against Lauren Murphy. The fighter announced the fight via her Instagram page on Monday.
UFC Fight Night 91 takes place July 13 at the Denny Sanford Premier Center in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. The event was to be headlined by a lightweight tussle between Tony Ferguson and Michael Chiesa, but Chiesa was forced to pull out of the bout and a replacement opponent is being sought for Ferguson. That came after the addition of Chookagian vs Murphy appeared to have completed the card.
Lauren Murphy approaches the bout off the back of her first UFC win, against Kelly Faszholz in February of this year. Prior to that she dropped questionable decisions to Sara McMann and Liz Carmouche, proving in defeat that the former Invicta FC bantamweight champion was capable of competing against some of the best fighters in the world.
But what of her opponent in Sioux Falls? Katlyn Chookagian might not be a household name, yet, but she will be looking to take a major step towards becoming one when she steps into the octagon for the first time on July 13.
A self confessed selfie junkie, Chookagian boasts an impressive 7-0 professional record with three wins coming inside the distance. The majority of her pro career has been fought under the Cage Fury Fighting Championships’ promotional banner. There she won championship fights at both flyweight and bantamweight. Not a bad haul considering Chookagian was the promotion’s first ever women’s champion.
Most recently Chookagian defeated Stephanie Bragayrac in only 45 seconds for CFFC’s bantamweight title in March this year. That stunning performance came little more than two months after a dominant unanimous decision win over Isabelly Varela earned her the company’s flyweight title belt.
With the UFC promoting their first ever women’s flyweight bout between Joanne Calderwood and Valerie Letourneau in Ottawa back on June 18, an eventual move to 125 pounds in the UFC seems likely should that division be added.
Until then Chookagian, a natural flyweight, will compromise for the big opportunity, carrying all the tools necessary to become a success at the highest level at 135 pounds. After all, many of the UFC’s top bantamweights – Cat Zingano and Jessica Eye to name but two – fought at flyweight before signing with the promotion.
The AllStar BJJ and Ricardo Almeida trained fighter also holds a notable amateur submission victory over Legacy FC flyweight champion Andrea “KGB” Lee. It is a much talked about highlight in an impressive, undefeated, amateur career that prepared Chookagian well for the professional ranks.
As for what to expect in the cage, the New York native is an accomplished striker with a background in kickboxing, and competitive Golden Gloves boxing experience.
While that might have provided the base layers to build from, Chookagian has developed into a skilled BJJ technician and has become the epitome of the evolved well-rounded fighters we take for granted in the modern era. The BJJ purple belt is an aggressive submission grappler more than a positional one, so don’t expect a snoozefest when her fights hit the mat.
Now all roads lead to Sioux Falls, where Chookagian will hope to do what Kelly Faszholz was unable to on her UFC debut. Defeat a battle tested former Invicta champion in Lauren Murphy. That is a tall order, but one that will be relished by a fighter who has leapt impressively over every career hurdle put in her way so far.
UFC Announces Liverpool Event, Darren Till Main Event
Scousers are drowning in celebration this evening. Earlier today, UFC officials announced the addition of a Liverpool show to their 2018 event calendar. Liverpool’s, Echo Arena, plays host for the event, which takes place on May 27th.
Liverpool’s own, Darren Till made the announcement this afternoon with Dan Hardy at the UFC Fight Night: Werdum vs. Volkov, ceremonial weigh-in. When asked by Hardy what it means to have the UFC in Liverpool, he had this to day, “Words can’t describe it. It doesn’t do it justice, words. So, it’s coming and I’m going to be the first Scousers to ever have done it. In 200 years they’re going to remember my name in combat sports in Liverpool. I’m gonna take someones chin off in Liverpool, that’s what’s happening”.
He was also quoted in an release from the promotion saying, “I can’t believe UFC is finally coming to Liverpool and I’m going to be headlining Echo Arena. My name is going to be remembered in 200 years time for being part of this historical event and I can’t even describe how much that means to me”. Till will headline the card, his opponent is yet to be announced.
In the official release, it quotes David Shaw, Senior Vice President International and Content, claiming, “The stars really aligned for the Octagon to touch down in Liverpool. We have seen such phenomenal demand from fans in the region for a live event. Pair that with having such a rising, local star in Darren Till it made absolute sense to bring our first live event to this historical combat sports city in 2018”.
UFC Liverpool lands on a date speculated for a different venue, in a different country. Reports swirled last month, specifically one from MMAFighting.com, which claimed the May 27th date belonged to the UFCs return to Dublin. A return to Dublin doesn’t seem to fall completely out of the realm of possibility. For now, it remains to be seen.
The UFC also announced two bouts, both in the Middleweight division, booked for the event. Elias Therodorou takes on Trevor Smith, and Daniel Kelly goes up against England’s Tom Breese.
Dillon Danis to make Pro debut against Kyle Walker at Bellator 198
Mixed Martial Arts officially adopted another incredibly talented jiu-jitsu practioner today. Bellator officials announced today the long-awaited debut of Dillon Danis, whom the promotion had signed in the year previous. After zero amateur and countless jiu-jitsu matches, Danis makes his debut at Bellator 198: Mir vs. Emelianenko, against Kyle Walker.
Kyle Walker enters the match up also making his Bellator debut. Walker recently made a resurgence in 2016 after taking off, almost exactly, 3 years. Since returning to the professional scene his record is 0-3, losing each fight by stoppage (2 Sub, 1 KO).
Walker looks to snap his streak yet, his opponent could provide a major challenge. In terms of advantages for Walker, he has a massive and obvious one. His experience. Walkers opponent fights for the first time in the sport of MMA. While Danis competed in many top-level jiu-jitsu tournaments and matches, comparing the competition would stop and end upon examining the rule sets. It is quite obvious, the difference. Danis will have a bit of adversity to overcome, in that respect.
In spite of this, Danis’ team, he trains out of the highly regarded SBG Ireland. Even before his MMA training, he trained under Marcelo Garcia. He earned his black belt in April of 2015, following an incredible 2014. In that year, Danis became UAEJJF World Champion, winning gold in the 82 kg (181 lb.) Brown belt category.
The prospect of what that could look like inside the cage is exciting. He may have developed some striking techniques but, the lack of time dedicated to that training in undeniable. Experience and time is required to develop skills of any kind.
Bellator 198: Mir vs. Emelianenko, takes place on Saturday, April 28th from the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Illinois. Bellator 198 features the third of four preliminary bouts in the promotions Heavyweight Grand Prix, Fedor Emelianenko takes on Frank Mir. It serves as the nights main event. Other bouts on the card feature; Emmanuel Sanchez against Sam Sicilia, Neiman Gracie faces Javier Torres, Rafael Lavato Jr. vs. John Salter, and more.
Aaron Chalmers vs. Ash Griffiths Added to Bellator 200
A reality television star finally gets his shot and it couldn’t be on much bigger of a stage. Scott Coker and the Bellator promotion announced almost two weeks ago, the organizations milestone event, Bellator 200, would take place in London, England. In the weeks and days following the initial news, fights such as Roy Nelson vs. Mirko Cro Cop, and Phil Davis vs. Linton Vassell became post-humorous additions. Today, promotion officials announced Aaron Chalmers makes a highly anticipated return when he takes on Ash Griffiths, in his promotional debut at the milestone event.
Along with the initial announcement of the event, Bellator officials also announced the first two fights booked to Bellator 200. The first of which matches Gegard Mousasi against Middleweight champion, Rafael Carvalho. Mousasi, formerly of the UFC, made a high-profile exit from his former employers to sign with Scott Coker (former Strikeforce CEO) and Bellator. His opponent, Rafael Carvalho, is the 3x defending Bellator Middleweight champion. Carvalho defeated fighters such as, Melvin Manhoef (2x), Brandon Halsey, and Alessio Sakara during his reign claiming and defending the title. The second match up includes British star, Michael ‘Venom’ Paige, as he makes his return to the Bellator cage against David Rickels.
With the addition of Aaron Chalmers to Bellator 200, two British stars now grace the card. Two British stars in two different avenues. Michael ‘Venom’ Paige is one of the biggest fighting stars in the country. Of course, Heavyweight Boxing champion, Anthony Joshua tops the list of famous fighters but Paige is on similar career trajectory, as his star only continues to grow. For Aaron Chalmers, his fighting talent did not give rise to the nature of his celebrity.
Before his professional career even began, Aaron Chalmers was cast to and appeared on the 8th season of the British reality television show, Geordie Shore. In case of ignorance to the English reality television scene, Geordie Shore is a reality television series based on the American reality series, Jersey Shore. The plot of which is essentially; Fit, and outgoing young adults move into a home in the city of Newcastle together for the Summer. As bland as that may seem, Aaron Chalmers is a recurring cast-member of the ongoing MTV show.
Chalmers professional MMA career began nearly one year ago. His first pro bout came in May of 2017, at BAMMA 29. At the event, he faced Greg Jenkins whom he defeated via submission by Americana, 2:12 into the opening round. Overall, Chalmers fought three times professionally, winning each contest. Largely, the reality television start hasn’t spent much time in the cage as a pro. His first win, took him deeper into the fight than the two following match-ups. His second and third bouts, (both for BAMMA) ended by KO/TKO inside the first minute of the opening round. At BAMMA 31, Chalmers defeated Alex Thompson by KO in 30 seconds. While his most recent bout against Karl Donaldson at BAMMA 33, also ended by KO/TKO. This time the referee ended the action 43 seconds into the fight.
Chalmers opponent, Ash Griffiths, had a much different path to this point. Griffiths followed a traditional journey as he did not supplant his training for appearances on a large reality TV network. While he remained focused on MMA, it did not translate into recent success. The British fighter currently finds himself in the midst of four consecutive loses, including his Bellator debut. This streak comes after he started his pro career successfully, etching a record of 4-2. Currently, his record sits slightly under a .500 win percentage at 4-6. A win for Griffiths seems necessary in order to stay within the ranks of the Bellator roster.
Bellator 200 takes place at the historic SSE Arena (Formerly known as the Wembley Arena) on May 25th. SSE Arena is the second largest indoor venue in London, holding 12,500 seats.
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