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Marloes Coenen vs. Julia Budd Booked for Featherweight Title at Bellator 174

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Julia Budd vs Marloes Coenen

For the second time, Bellator have a women’s featherweight title bout booked. Marloes Coenen and Julia Budd have been lined up to fight for the inaugural title.

The fight has been added to the Bellator 174 card in Thackerville, Oklahoma on March 3. The bout was originally reported by MMA Fighting on Sunday. The title fight is set to headline the event which takes place at the WinStar World Casino and Resort.

The two were first scheduled to fight for the title in May 2016 at Bellator 155. Budd suffered an injury and was replaced by Alexis Dufresne, who went on to miss weight by almost five pounds before submitting Coenen in the first round.

Coenen had her sights set on a rematch, but cited Dufresne’s insistence on fighting for a Bellator title as the reason the bout did not materialise. Instead Coenen was booked against Talita Nogueira at Bellator 163. For the second time in a row, Coenen saw an opponent fail to make weight. This time, the bout would not go ahead.

The former Strikeforce bantamweight champion has been the clear number two at featherweight — behind Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino — for years and remains the obvious choice to fight for Bellator gold.

The same could be said of Julia Budd who is now riding a seven-fight win streak that followed her last defeat in 2011 against Ronda Rousey. Budd has positioned herself ahead of the chasing pack at 145 pounds, winning all three of her previous Bellator fights.

With Cris Cyborg’s current status under consideration following her potential violation of USADA’s anti-doping policy, Bellator have the top two active featherweights in the world fighting over their title.

Coenen vs. Budd will take place less than one month after the UFC introduce a 145 pound belt of their own, with bantamweights Holly Holm and Germaine de Randamie clashing at UFC 208 on February 11.

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Mark Hunt Returns to Fight Curtis Blaydes at UFC 221

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UFC 221 in Perth has officially added a another Australian to the main card. Joining Robert Whittaker is the knockout legend Mark Hunt.

The Daily Telegraph first reported that Hunt will be stepping into the octagon to face #9 Curtis Blaydes. Some weren’t sure if we would ever see Hunt fight again after he was pulled from the main event in UFC Fight Night 21 against Marcin Tybura. The UFC removed him due to “medical concerns” while Hunt was stating he was perfectly fine.

After getting evaluated and cleared to fight by Australian and American doctors, it looks like his time has come to return.  Hunt’s last fight was back in June when he derailed the Derrick Lewis hype train with a 4th round TKO win.

Hunt had been adamant about calling out #3 ranked heavyweight Fabricio Werdum and trying to get that rematch booked, labelling Werdum a “chicken shit” and a “coward.”

Curtis “Razor” Blaydes who has an 8-1 record, is coming off a TKO victory due to doctor stoppage at UFC 217 in November. Since losing to now title challenger Francis Ngannou in April of 2016, Blaydes has rattled off three straight wins over Alexey Oleynik, Daniel Omielanczuk, and Cody East.

With all this momentum from the win streak, Blaydes looks to capitalize and win the biggest fight of his career against Hunt.

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Stipe Miocic vs. Francis Ngannou Official for UFC 220

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UFC 220 in Boston, Massachusetts has its main event. Stipe Miocic (17-2) will put his belt on the line for the third time against rising heavyweight star, Francis Ngannou (11-1)

Rumors surrounded the match-up for UFC 220 after Ngannou’s first round knockout over Alistair Overeem, at UFC 218. The Cameroonian heavyweight called for the fight himself. In his octagon interview proceeding his most recent victory, Ngannou stated:

“I’m feeling good… I’m on my way to a title shot”.

The heavy handed Ngannou has finished all of his opponents in all of his six UFC bouts. A streak which includes a kimura submission over Anthony Hamilton and a TKO victory against former UFC heavyweight champion, Andrei Arlovski. Overall, he holds a ten fight win streak. His only defeat came by way of unanimous decision to Zoumana Cisse, in his second professional MMA fight.

If victorious, Ngannou would become the first African-born champion in UFC history.

Not to be diminished, Stipe Miocic rides his a streak of his own into the beantown match-up. Five consecutive wins, five knockouts and the past four of which, ended in the first round. A victory in Boston for the champ would make him the longest reigning heavyweight champion in UFC history. Currently, Miocic is one of three heavyweights, in the promotions entirety, whom has successfully defended the belt twice.

UFC 220 will be held at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts on January 20th, 2018. The pay-per-view (PPV) card will also feature light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier, as he faces challenger Volkan “No Time” Oezdemir.

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Darren Stewart Among Changes made to UFC Winnipeg

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December 16th, the UFC will touch down in the cold Canadian city of Winnipeg, Manitoba. The third Canadian event for the promotion this year, lost its main event in the second week of November, Jose Aldo vs. Ricardo Lamas, when Aldo, replaced Frankie Edgar at last weekends pay-per-view event, UFC 218. Fortunately, Josh Emmett was booked last week, to replace Aldo. The former featherweight champion is not the only one whom won’t make the walk in Canada.

Several fighters on the card have been forced to withdraw. The UFC announced changes to card yesterday releasing an article, indicating the replacements. Justin Scoggins withdrew due to a spinal injury, otherwise known as, spinal process fracture.

According to the Winchester Hospital website, most of these injuries heal without long-term damage.

Replacing the injured Scoggins, the undefeated British prospect, Pietro Menga. “Pitbull” compiled a 13-0 record before signing with the UFC. Seven, by way of submission. The British newcomer will face Tim Elliot at flyweight. Elliot, winner of TUF 24: Tournament of Champions, has had a bitter-sweet return to the UFC. With a record of 1-2 since his return, he looks to put on a dominating performance in order to find his way back into title contention.

The other Brit to posthumously join the Winnipeg card, Darren Stewart. Stewart replaces Vitor Miranda, to fight Julian Marquez in the middleweight division, the news was originally announced by MMA Today’s Nolan King.

After entering the UFC with an undefeated record, Stewart has gone winless in his three bouts with the promotion. Twice he fought Francimar Barroso, winning their first match-up, only to have the decision overturned by the Brazilian MMA Athletic Commission (CABMMA) for an inadvertent headbutt.

His opponent, Julian Marquez, found his way to the UFC roster through, Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series. Marquez, knocked out his opponent, Phil Hawes, in the second round. Nicknamed, “the Cuban Missile Crisis”,  he dominated his opponent, taking him down twice in the round before cleanly landing a head kick as Hawes, stood up against the fence.

The final change to the card comes in the welterweight division. Oddly enough, the opponents of both, Danny Roberts and Nordine Taleb, withdrew. Roberts and Taleb instead, will fight each other, as reported by Nolan King as well.

Hopefully, Canada’s final UFC event of the year proceeds with its twelve scheduled bouts. UFC Winnipeg takes place at the Bell MTS Place, in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada on December 16th. The card features, Robbie Lawler vs. Rafael Dos Anjos, in the main event, elsewhere on the main card, Santiago Ponzinibbio takes on fan favorite Mike Perry.

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