At UFC 196 earlier this month, Miesha Tate finally fulfilled her dream of becoming the UFC women’s bantamweight champion when she defeated Holly Holm with a memorable rear naked choke with just 90 seconds remaining in the fifth and final round of a fight she was losing on the judges’ scorecards prior to that round. Almost immediately, talk began of a potential match with her long-time rival and former UFC champion, Ronda Rousey, who holds two submission victories over Tate. However, another women’s 135-pound contender left Las Vegas on March 5th with a win and holds a strong claim for her own shot at UFC gold – Amanda “The Lioness” Nunes.
The 27-year-old Brazilian faced off against an incredibly dangerous opponent in Valentina Shevchenko at UFC 196 and emerged with a well-deserved unanimous decision win. Nunes controlled the first two rounds of the fight using her powerful striking and strong grappling game to great effect to build a lead on the scorecards which was, as it turned out, an unassailable one. Her win was somewhat overshadowed by the events of later that night, but it was certainly an impressive performance against an underrated opponent.
However, it is certainly not the only impressive performance of Nunes’ current winning streak. Her fight prior to the Shevchenko bout came against former UFC title challenger, Sara McMann. On that occasion, Nunes fended off a couple of takedown attempts from the Olympic wrestler before landing a huge right hand that dropped her opponent. From there, Nunes softened up McMann with brutal ground and pound, took the American’s back, and locked in a fight-ending rear naked choke. It was, without doubt, a performance that got everyone’s attention. The other win of her current streak came against Ronda Rousey’s friend and ‘Four Horsewomen’ member, Shayna Baszler in March 2015 via TKO due to leg kicks. Her run of three consecutive wins in the women’s bantamweight division is tied with TUF 18 winner Julianna Peña as the second longest active streak in the division, with current champion Miesha Tate’s five-fight streak being the longest. The other two contenders being talked about for a title shot, Holm and Rousey, both lost their most recent bouts.
The fact that Nunes is a dual threat – fearsome striking coupled with a heavy top game and submission ability, makes her a dangerous opponent for any woman in the 135-pound division. Of her 12 professional MMA wins, only her most recent win over Shevchenko has gone the distance, with the majority of those ending in the first round. Indeed, her only loss in the UFC came against another former title challenger, Cat Zingano, and that was a fight that Nunes almost finished in the first round. There can be no doubt about it: Amanda Nunes is one of the most exciting and entertaining fighters in women’s MMA today.
Something else to consider is that prior to Holly Holm defeating Ronda Rousey for the women’s bantamweight title last November, Nunes was offered and accepted a fight with current champion, Miesha Tate. However, Tate believed that she was next in line for a title shot, but was overlooked in favour of Holm. Tate turned down the Nunes fight, citing that Nunes, being higher ranked at the time than Holm, was a more dangerous opponent and that it felt like she was being used as a gatekeeper of sorts. Of course, all of that has changed now with Tate becoming the champion earlier this month.
While Dana White has all but confirmed that Rousey will get the first shot at Miesha Tate’s title, we are still no closer to knowing for sure when that will occur. With Rousey’s commitments outside of MMA, it is conceivable that Tate would have to wait around for her first defence, which could mean missing out on UFC 200. “Cupcake” has said that she wants to be an active champion, defend her belt and prove she is the best because “that’s the champion’s job.” With that in mind, waiting for a contender clearly isn’t Tate’s style. Holly Holm is, understandably, pushing hard for a rematch of her own, but, from a personal standpoint, I am not a fan of immediate rematches in cases where a fighter was beaten decisively. Holm may have been ahead on the scorecards at UFC 196, but Tate choked her opponent unconscious in the final round – that’s about as decisive an ending as you can get. Amanda Nunes is ready to fight now, whenever called upon, and has put together a solid recent run. To my mind, she is the opponent that makes the most sense the way things stand.
Should Tate be booked to face Rousey, there is a risk of the division stagnating somewhat. Consider this: if Rousey were to defeat Tate and become UFC champion once more, who would be the most likely to be her next opponent? The woman who ended her last title reign, Holly Holm. If Holm were to repeat her UFC 193 heroics, Miesha Tate would have a strong case to be her next opponent. Where does that cycle end? The division needs a new, hungry title challenger and they don’t come much hungrier than “The Lioness”. While I would never say that Tate cannot beat Rousey, that Rousey cannot beat Holm and that Holm cannot beat Tate, the fact is that we have seen all those fights before in recent UFC history. Amanda Nunes has not fought any of those three women. Putting her in against Tate would be making a fight nobody has seen before and, as such, provides MMA fans with an intriguing matchup.
As things stand, it does appear likely that Ronda Rousey will be the first challenger for the new champion Miesha Tate and I still expect that is the route the UFC will take. However, if I was playing matchmaker for a day, my choice for Tate’s first title defence would be Amanda Nunes at UFC 200. The card is likely to be the biggest card in UFC history and, with the impact women’s MMA has had in the relatively short time it has been in the UFC, it deserves to be represented on UFC 200 and the belt deserves a challenger who has put together a winning run to set up a shot at gold. In the event that Rousey is in fact ready for UFC 200, a rematch with Holly Holm to determine the next challenger for the belt would surely be a no-brainer? Arguably, it is a bigger fight for Rousey than facing Tate, whom she has already beaten twice.
With that said, these are the reasons I believe Amanda Nunes should fight for the UFC Women’s Bantamweight Title at UFC 200. The chief reason is simply that she has earned it the old-fashioned way – by winning. Who do you think deserves the first shot at Miesha Tate’s title? Get in touch on Twitter and let us know @MMALatestNws or contact me directly @KeefeMcKenna and voice your opinion!
UFC 219: Cyborg vs Holm recap
In yearly tradition , the UFC hosted a pay per view fight card at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas once again and for the second year in a row, the card was headlined by two females fighting for the title of the baddest woman on earth. Cristine Cyborg Santos was looking to defend her featherweight title for the first time since capturing the title last summer in a tko victory over Tonya Evinger. Her opponent would be Holly Holm, the woman who shot into stardom after knocking out Ronda Rousey to become the bantamweight champion in 2015 and was fighting for the featherweight title for the second time after being unsuccessful in a controversial loss to Germaine De Radamie in Brooklyn.
In the co main event, The UFC welcomed one of the most feared lightweights and beloved contender Khabib Nurmagomedov who returned to the cage after a year layoff after failing to make weight earlier this year in a title eliminator with Tony Ferguson . Welcoming Nurmagomedov to the cage was exciting Brazilian striker Edson Barboza who was on a 3 fight win streak after losing to interim lightweight champion Tony Ferguson in 2015. The winner would guarantee a title shot for themselves against either Tony Ferguson or the winner of the title unification fight between Conor McGregor and Tony Ferguson if it happens.
The rest of the card had other stories that intrigued the fans with the return of former UFC interim welterweight champion Carlos Condit taking on Neil Magny, Cynthia Carvillo looking to go 5-0 in 2017 with a win over Carla Esparza and an exciting lightweight fight between Marc Diakiese and Daniel Hooker.
The Main Event
UFC Women’s Featherweight championship
Christine ” Cyborg” Santos vs Holly ” The Preachers Daughter” Holm
When the UFC announced it’s intentions to start a featherweight division for females in the UFC, a fight between Cris Cyborg and Holly Holm was the most logical fight to start the division. It took almost a year to come into fruition but on Saturday night, we finally had the answer of who would be the most feared female fighter in the world.
The fight started off with Holm tripping Cyborg after a kick and started the clinch game for Holly , who overpowered Cyborg against the cage. A move that would slow down Cyborg’s attacks in the later rounds but this was not the case tonight. Cyborg, who was known as a devastating berserker like striker in her earlier has become a more patient striker under the guidance of Jason Parillo. Cyborg caught Holly with a variation of counter strikes throughout the fight which swelled Holm’s left eye. Holm had her moments in the fight and gave Cyborg her toughest fight to date.
As we moved into the later rounds, the counter strikes were landing more often for Cyborg and started to dictate to fight. The final bell rang and although many scores were thrown around on twitter all in favor for Cyborg. Cris Cyborg won a unanimous decision with one judge scoring the fight 49-46 which had Cyborg winning four rounds and the other two judges scoring the fight a lot closer 48-47.
What’s next for Cyborg? She asked for Meagan Anderson in Australia , the last Invicta featherweight champion who has yet to make her debut for UFC after signing last summer. With the card in 6 weeks, its unlikely she will get her wish but Cyborg vs Anderson should be next in the shallow and confusing 145 division for females.
The Co-main event
Khabib ” The Eagle ” Nurmagomedov vs Edson Barboza
A fight that in many people’s eyes was the true main event with fan favorite Khabib Nurmagomedov putting his unbeaten 24 fight win streak on the line against fellow top contender Edson Barboza.
What can you say about Nurmagomedov that hasn’t been said already. He was nothing short of perfection.
Implementing his game early, Nurmagomedov took the fight to the ground early in round 1 after failing on the first attempted takedown on Barboza. Once the takedown was secured, the Russian posture to his feet and landed devastating ground and pound on Barboza. It took a minute to see Barboza would be in for a rough night as by the sound of the bell ending for the first round, Barboza was bloodied up and looked defeated.
The second round was even more devastating when Khabib had Barboza on the ground for the entire round. The commentators in awe of Khabib’s abilities began to sound concerned that Barboza took too much damage as no matter who much punishment Nurmagomedov would deliver to Barboza, Barboza continued to be in the fight and looked for the knockout whenever the fight would go back to standing which ultimately ended in the brazilian being taken down again.
Barboza had a chance to end the fight in the third when he landed a head kick on Nurmagomedov who showed a granite chin and walked through the shot like T-1000.
The fight went to the judges and the judges scored the fight in favor of Khabib Nurmagomedov ( 30- 25, 30-25,30-4) which just highlights the one-sided victory for the Russian who moves to 25-0 and will likely take on Tony Ferguson next year.
The rest of the card
Although not the most exciting run of fights in the lead up to the main and co main. The main card hosted the return of Carlos Condit who after returning to the cage following a 16 month hiatus only to suffer a decision loss to an impressive Neil Magny who used his wrestling to take down the former champ on numerous occasions.
Speaking of former champs, former strawweight champion Carla Esparza scored a big win beating undefeated Cynthia Carvillo, who impressed in round 1 before Esparza turned the tides and finished the fight with a flurry of strikes to secure the victory.
Daniel Hooker used the ” McKenzietine” guillotine choke to submit the Brit Marc Diakiese in the third round after winning the first two rounds with his ground game. In what many anticipated to be a stand up war, the fight was quite the opposite and Hooker sinked in the choke after an attempted takedown by Diakiese.
We won’t be ringing in the new year celebrating the prelims this year as every fight on the FS1 portion of the card went to a decision.
Michal Oleksiejczuk got the biggest underdog win on the night upsetting Khalil Rountree Jr in a decision in which both fighters gassed early after Rountree held on the a guillotine which gassed the American when he failed to get the submission. The other decision victories went to Myles Jury looking impressive at featherweight against Rick Glenn and Matheus Nicolau who knocked down Louis Smolka three times in the first round to win a one-sided decision.
Omari Ahkmedov and Marvin Vettori went to a majority draw in what seemed like the longest fight in history and finally Tim Elliot scored a submission victory over Mark De La Rosa and dedicated the victory to the late great Robert Follis who sadly took his own life this month.
Overall UFC 219 wasn’t a great card but a masterclass by Khabib Nurmagomedov was worth every penny.
Forget Cormier vs. Jones – Cyborg vs. Megan Anderson Should Headline UFC 214
Daniel Cormier vs. Jon Jones II is all but confirmed for UFC 214 in Anaheim, California on July 29. Despite the magnitude of the light-heavyweight championship rematch, the UFC would do well to look elsewhere for their UFC 214 main event — namely in the direction of Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino and Megan Anderson.
The UFC’s schedule for the first half of 2017 is largely booked as of now. Fight announcements for July are coming in daily but there is still no clue as to who might headline UFC 213, the promotion’s International Fight Week pay-per-view offering. Jon Jones is expected to make his long-awaited return in July however not for 213.
UFC President Dana White has stated that Jones will not be eligible to compete during International Fight Week due to his suspension, making UFC 214 in late July the most likely option. White also insisted that Jones cannot be trusted to headline an event due to his past transgressions.
If White holds true to his word it’ll be a bizarre and unfortunate set of circumstances to promote the most important rematch in the history of the UFC. Many titleholders are booked for the moment, so the Cormier vs. Jones rerun would seem the most logical choice. However, as has been the norm in the past two years of UFC promotion an interim title can be slapped on to any semi-interesting match.
Countless arguments are made about how interim titles are senseless and harmful to the actual titleholder but those arguments although valid, are not much more than gripes.
The absence of sanctioning bodies in mixed martial arts are a contentious point of debate in the MMA community and combat sports in general but sanctioning bodies in regard to titles are almost always a nuisance in the world of boxing.
Any educated fan knows who the real champion is. Even in the rare instance where the interim titleholder is held in higher regard or more popular than the actual champion as was the case with Conor McGregor and Jose Aldo, nothing was done to diminish the value of the featherweight belt.
The notion that a title fight must headline a card may be antiquated but it seems that is the manner that the UFC will continue to handle business for the foreseeable future. Five rounds are seldom a negative in high-level MMA and an interim belt would be most justified if a match is made between former Invicta featherweight champion Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino and current champion Megan Anderson.
If Cormier vs. Jones will play second fiddle to another fight, an interim featherweight title fight between “Cyborg” and Anderson would be a sensible headliner for UFC 214. Given the lack of options and the current featherweight champion’s fighting future in doubt, the fight would merit its headlining spot.
Jones in a co-headliner may seem strange business wise. It is rare for Dana White to put morale ahead of dollar signs but if it is the case it may be for the better. An alpha male like Jones doesn’t want to be second to anyone. The very fact that the marquee will say Cormier vs. Jones instead of Jones vs. Cormier most likely rankles with the superstar.
Yet the promotion of Jones is more intriguing now than it ever has been. Jones reportedly pulled in right under 500,000 buys for UFC 197. Not too shabby for a 15-month layoff with a lukewarm undercard.
Moreover, a fight with the magnitude of Cormier Vs. Jones will be heavily promoted under any circumstance. ESPN, TMZ, Deadspin, will all be pulled towards covering the event, so the co-main event placing may not be that big of a deal. The benefits that the Cormier/Jones rematch can provide for the women’s featherweight division are substantial.
..that the fight itself was between a 135 pounder who had lost her last two and a fringe top 10 bantamweight didn’t make matters any better.
UFC 208 was the official introduction of the featherweight division in the Ultimate Fighting Championship and it wasn’t loved by many spectators. Germaine de Randamie outpointed Holly Holm in a 25-minute striking affair.
Technically, the fight was brilliant but provided not a single awe-inspiring moment. The fact that there was controversy regarding some illegal blows, a contested decision, and that the fight itself was between a 135 pounder who had lost her last two and a fringe top 10 bantamweight didn’t make matters any better.
The great thing about a Cyborg/Anderson fight is that both women really want the fight and also happen to be great kickboxers that have genuine horsepower. “Cyborg” trounced Leslie Smith in less than a round and utterly pummeled Lina Lansberg in just over five minutes. Anderson is young and still relatively raw but has some exceptional power at featherweight.
The desire to improve is also not lost on the talented Aussie. Her Invicta FC debut was an embarrassingly one-sided loss to notorious overachieving veteran Cindy Dandois.
Grappling is an aspect of MMA that Anderson hasn’t fully grasped as of yet but is miles ahead of where she was in 2015. Anderson’s 2016 was outstanding with three knockouts in a row and she showed her artistic side as she used Charmaine Tweet’s blood to splatter the canvas red like a deranged college activist student.
There was a USADA flagging for “Cyborg” after her last win that was retroactively cleared. Unfortunate and badly timed, it ended up rekindling an old hatred that some in the MMA community have had for the Brazilian since her first positive test in 2011.
“Cyborg” is a respectful competitor and her fighting style is barbaric but her past with PEDs rubs some fans the wrong way, making her a lightning rod for controversy. More often than not, controversy sells.
In the skills and experience department “Cyborg” will hold a distinct advantage, however, Anderson is not lacking in confidence and may be the first fighter that can match “Cyborg’s” power. Anderson also happens to be a fan favourite in Invicta and isn’t shy about trash talking when the opportunity calls for it.
Justino vs. Anderson would not only be a well-matched and entertaining scrap, it would possess something many women’s MMA fights are too commonly missing, intrigue.
Ronda Rousey is unlikely to come back and that leaves the UFC looking for ways to create a new female star. This bout would seem like the most probable one to do that.
Rousey had a great home backing in Southern California from early on in her career and it might be time for “Cyborg” to take some of those fans as she has been a SoCal native for years. Anaheim is only a few miles from “Cyborg’s” hometown of Huntington Beach and it shares an ocean with The Land Down Under.
If a sacrifice is made by the UFC to prove a point, then let it be one that carries some positive possibilities for other athletes who are hungry and deserving of the spotlight. Step aside Jones, and let the ladies handle this one.
Reports: Vitor Belfort to step in against Anderson Silva at UFC 212
UFC 212 may have a new co-main event featuring two legends from Brazil.
Ag.Fight has reported Vitor Belfort has offered to fill in for Kelvin Gastelum to face Anderson Silva at UFC 212 in Rio on June 3.
Gastelum was originally scheduled to face Silva, but due to a potential USADA anti-doping violation which saw Gastelum flagged for marijuana metabolites stemming from an in-competition sample collected on March 11, 2017, a provisional suspension was levied and he was removed from the card.
Silva, who celebrates his 42nd birthday on April 14, will remain on the UFC 212 card which is headlined by a featherweight title fight between Max Holloway and Jose Aldo. Silva found his way back into the win column at UFC 208 where he won a unanimous decision over Derek Brunson, notching the 34th professional victory for the former UFC Middleweight Champion. The win over Brunson is the first official victory on Silva’s record since UFC 153 over Stephan Bonnar since the win over Nick Diaz at UFC 183 has since been overturned to a No Contest.
Due to Gastelum’s USADA issues, we may have a rematch of a title bout that took place at UFC 126 that saw Silva defend his middleweight strap against Belfort in devastating fashion.
Belfort, who turned 40 on April 1, has one more fight remaining on his UFC contract and expressed his desires to fulfill his contract after suffering a loss in his last outing to the aforementioned Gastelum at UFC Fight Night 106 in March. The loss was the third straight TKO loss for the former champion, whose last win came over Dan Henderson at UFC Fight Night 77 in November 2015. Belfort always wants the biggest fight available, and name-wise, they don’t come much bigger than Anderson Silva.
While both men have had their bumps in the road in the recent final chapters of their careers, fighting on their home soil in Brazil is something both men always look forward to.
UFC 212 takes place at the HSBC Arena in Rio de Janerio, Brazil on June 3, 2017.
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- Marco Antonio Beltran vs. Delveson Alcantra
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