The UFC’s light heavyweight division is the promotion’s most estranged division by far. It’s very top heavy – to be precise, it’s a three-horse race in the title picture, with one horse on the sidelines due to his own transgressions. Among some aging fighters whose best days may be behind them, there is a handful of very talented fighters with world class talent that simply haven’t been able to break through the triforce that is Anthony Johnson, Jon Jones, and Daniel Cormier.
On the outside looking in, we have Alexander Gustafsson, Ryan Bader, andJimi Manuwa – all perennial contenders who have come up short in championship bouts, title eliminator fights, or have knocked each other off on their journey to UFC gold. However, considering the lack of depth at 205, they are always one big win away from another shot at the throne in a division that needs a new face to make waves in the upper ranks. Misha Cirkunov has plans to do exactly that by the end of 2017.
Born in Latvia and fighting out of Toronto, Canada, Cirkunov made his latest statement this past weekend in front of the Canadian crowd at UFC 206 with an impressive win over Nikita Krylov. It was Misha’s fourth fight in the UFC and he only needed 4:38 to get the job done via submission against a very, very tough opponent. The support from the local fans gave Cirkunov a feeling of invincibility as he stated during his post-fight scrum, “Having this kind of crowd supporting me, I thought I could go into anything. I thought I could go into a fire and just like, come out not burned.” He truly soaked in the moment as he climbed on top of the cage and screamed, “I LOVE THIS CITY!”
While he may not be truly flame resistant, he’s as hot as they come right now among light heavyweights. With all four of his UFC wins coming by stoppage, the Cirkunov hype train is starting to gain some real momentum. Admittedly, he understands his time to crack into the upper echelon of the division is coming soon, and he feels by the end of 2017 he’ll be ready to compete at the highest level. “I’ve just got to work on a few more things. I like to play chess – MMA chess. I think at the end of 2017, beginning of 2018, I’ll be at the level of those elite guys.” In the meantime, Cirkunov is ready to take on some of the light heavyweight “legends” such as Mauricio “Shogun” Rua to test his skills against a true veteran of the sport with high fight IQ.
Perhaps the most interesting part of Cirkunov’s success is that he doesn’t have a dedicated MMA coach. He trains and works with a group that considers themselves “MMA nerds” who simply love the sport, but there is no one man steering the ship. “We consider ourselves big, big fans of the game. We really like mixed martial arts and we don’t have any man above us and any man below us. We just absorb, we talk, we study. We create a game plan on the go,” explained Misha. Not having a coach focused on his career and development is rarely seen at the highest level of the sport, but it’s worked well for him thus far and doesn’t see an immediate need to make a change to that approach. “Now that I’m reaching an elite level, I think next year I’m planning on fighting twice. I’ll be studying, getting to know who I’m going to be fighting, preparing for that matchup,” stated Cirkunov. The self-dubbed “MMA nerds” have found success with Cirkunov, and very well may create a new player at the top of the 205-pound division.
“Now that I’m reaching an elite level, I think next year I’m planning on fighting twice. I’ll be studying, getting to know who I’m going to be fighting, preparing for that matchup,” stated Cirkunov. The self-dubbed “MMA nerds” at Xtreme Couture Toronto have found success with Cirkunov, and very well may create a new player at the top of the 205-pound division.
*Live Updates* UFC Winnipeg Official Results
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)
Gilbert Burns vs. Olivier Aubin-Mercier Added to UFC Orlando
The UFC has now added more bouts to the front end of their 2018 schedule. Gilbert Burns (13-2, 5-2 UFC) will face Olivier Aubin-Mercier (10-2, 6-2 UFC) in Orlando, Florida on February 24th, 2018.
— UFC Canada (@UFC_CA) December 14, 2017
Alongside a few other high-profile fight announcements, is the addition to the UFC Orlando, Florida card. The two lightweights will join Jake Collier and Marcin Prachnio, as the second fight set for the event.
It has been a while since the UFC hosted an event in the state of Florida. Last seen by the Floridians was UFC on Fox: Texeira vs. Evans, on April 16, 2016 in Tampa Bay. The card was a success, despite the cancellation of its planned main event between Tony Ferguson and Khabib Nurmagomedov. Drawing a gate of $1.05 million and 2.13 million viewers.
Gilbert Burns signed with the UFC after accumulating an undefeated record of 8-0. His first loss came in his home country of Brazil, as Rashid Magomedov defeated him via unanimous decision at UFC Fight Night: Belfort vs. Henderson 3, in November of 2015.
In his most recent bout, Burns defeated Jason Saggo by KO with five seconds remaining in the second round at UFC Fight Night: Rockhold vs. Branch.
Aubin-Mercier will come into the contest as a winner in his last three bouts. The Canadian fighter trains out of the Tristar gym, alongside legends such as Georges St. Pierre and head coach, Firas Zahabi.
In 2011, Aubin-Mercier was chosen to compete on The Ultimate Fighter: Nations. Competing in the welterweight bracket, he became a finalist by defeating both, Jake Mathews (unanimous decision) and Richard Walsh (rear naked choke). In the finale, Aubin-Mercier lost to Chad Laprise by split decision.
UFC Orlando will take place at the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida on February 24th, 2018.
Eryk Anders vs. Lyoto Machida Officially Headlines UFC Belem
Eryk Anders vs. Lyoto Machida is officially booked to headline UFC Belem in Brazil.
Following his unanimous decision victory over Markus Perez on last weekends, UFC Fight Night: Ortega vs. Swanson, undefeated middleweight, Eryk Anders, called for the match-up with former UFC light heavyweight champion, Lyoto Machida. The UFC heard, and obliged.
First reported by The MMA Kings (@mma_kings.)
EXCLUSIVE: My sources tell me that Eryk Anders (@erykanders) has gotten his wish. He'll headline UFC Fight Night: Belem against Lyoto Machida (@lyotomachidafw) in Brazil. Ask and you shall receive. #UFC pic.twitter.com/qX62A9qH6k
— The MMA Kings (Nolan King) (@mma_kings) December 14, 2017
Anders holds a 2-0 undefeated record in the UFC. The Alabama native made his promotional debut against Rafael Nata in July of this year. A bout he took on short notice, replacing Alessio di Chirico whom withdrew from the fight due to a neck injury. Anders defeated Natal by knockout in the first round that night at UFC Long Island.
Prior to his indoctrination to MMA, the undefeated middleweight played for the University of Alabama football team, between 2006-2009.
Machida recently returned to the UFC roster after an 18-month suspension handed down by USADA, stemming from a failed out-of-competition test leading up to his April 2016 contest against Dan Henderson.
In his return to the octagon, Machida faced Derek Brunson in the main-event of the UFC Fight Night: Brunson vs. Machida, in Sao Paulo, Brazil. “The Dragon” lost the bout via first round KO.
UFC Belem, Brazil is scheduled for February 3rd, 2018, at the Mangueirinho Arena. The card will also feature the flyweight debut for Valentina Shevchenko as she faces Priscila Cachoeira.
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