UFC 206, December 10th. A night in which Max Holloway defeated Anthony Pettis to become the interim UFC featherweight champion. However, it was also a night that saw one of the most incredible fights in UFC history between Cub Swanson and Doo Ho Choi.
Heading into that fight, “The Korean Superboy” Doo Ho Choi was the favourite, with a UFC record of 3-0, with three first round knockouts to his name. Without doubt, Swanson was to be the toughest test of his young career. The veteran was enjoying a good 2016, with decision victories over Hacran Dias and Tatsuya Kawajiri. Both men had won the majority of their fights by a finish, be it a knockout or submission, so fans were expecting fireworks. Even withstanding that, few expected what transpired in front of their eyes.
In the first round, Choi landed perhaps the most telling shots, although Swanson had his moments too, bloodying the nose of his younger opponent. Still, the Korean responded to Swanson’s advances, showing the striking ability that makes him one of the brightest young prospects in the division. By the end of the round, it was anybody’s guess who had come out on top, although two judges were in agreement that it was Swanson. Little did we know that all hell was about to break loose in the second round.
After exchanging head kicks to start the round, Swanson began to take control of the contest, landing combinations to the head of Choi. The Korean was showing that, not only is he a dangerous striker, but he has a great chin too. Swanson continued to land hard shot after hard shot to Choi and sent him backwards to the cage. Choi was in trouble and referee Dan Miragliotta began to take a closer look at the action, letting Choi know he needed to fight back – and fight back he did. He caught Swanson with a big hook which had the American reeling. The tables had clearly turned, and now Choi was landing shots, searching for the finish. Swanson used all of his veteran savvy to ride that wave and drag Choi to the mat. When the action returned to the feet, the madness started again, Choi moving forward with bad intentions, but Swanson managing to land the cleaner shots. Amazingly, despite taking huge punches from Swanson, Choi appeared unmoved, continuing to push forwards evoking thoughts of his countryman Chan Sung Jung, the “Korean Zombie”. The horn sounded to signal the end of one of the finest rounds in UFC history. There was little doubt that Swanson had taken it, the only question was what score the fight was heading into the third. In truth, fans probably did not care, they just wanted the third round to start.
The third round continued where the second left off, with Choi moving forward but Swanson landing more often and with more power. It was becoming a mystery how Choi was still standing as he refused to go down. Swanson landed two takedowns, including one beautiful judo throw, in an attempt to finish the fight on the ground. By the time they returned to the feet, it was clear that the bloodied Choi was tired, hurt and it looked as if Swanson could finish the fight. Swanson sensed it too, pouring it on in the final minute looking to finish, but Choi was going nowhere and kept trying to land that fight winning haymaker of his own. The final horn sounded and the crowd rose to their feet in thunderous applause, in awe of the display of heart, talent and courage that they witnessed.
Cub Swanson took home a unanimous decision win (30-27, 30-27, 29-28), but both men emerged with their reputations hugely enhanced. Swanson took issue with being labelled as underdog for the fight, and fired a warning to the rest of the division. “Don’t ever question me again.”
Other fights to earn a vote: Robbie Lawler vs Carlos Condit, Conor McGregor vs Nate Diaz II, Dominick Cruz vs TJ Dillashaw, Polo Reyes vs Dong Hyun Kim
Felice Herrig vs. Karolina Kowalkiewicz in the works for UFC 223
UFC 223 looks to add a variety of intriguing bouts. With Paul Felder vs. Al Iaquinta reportedly set for the unannounced UFC 223 card, the promotion looks to add a high stakes female flyweight match-up. According to MMANYTT.com, sources confirmed a bout between Felice Herrig and Karolina Kowalkiewicz, is in the works for the pay-per-view card.
Assuming the match-up does come to be, both women have much to gain from a victory. For Herrig, she currently sits on a four-fight win streak. A streak in which the strawweight contender defeated Kailin Curran, Alexa Grasso, Justine Kish, and Cortney Casey. The MMA veteran, Herrig, began fighting professionally in 2009. As of late, her issues with the marketing machine that is the UFC have intensified.
After demonstrating her technical prowess over Justine Kish at UFC Fight Night 122: Chiesa vs. Lee, Herrig put her emotions on display. She stated at the post-fight media scrum, “Sometimes, I feel like, I’m not young and beautiful enough for the UFC to want to promote me. And it’s sad because I’ve really worked so hard to be here and it’s hard to see these people who’ve not been through what I’ve been through. Who just got into the UFC at the right time. They’re getting all these opportunities and I see how hard I work to get here and it’s just like, it doesn’t matter. I just feel like, ‘I’m not pretty enough and I’m not getting any younger'”.
A frustrated Felice Herrig then spoke to MMAJunkie.com in December. She claimed, “Aside from (former UFC women’s strawweight champ) Joanna (Jedrzejczyk), I’m the only strawweight who’s gone on a four-fight winning streak. That’s a fact. At this point, I want to fight someone in the top 10. It doesn’t really make sense for me to keep fighting girls that are ranked below me. That’s the whole point. If I want to keep working my way up. I fight the most dangerous girls outside the top 10”. The #9 ranked women’s flyweight has a point. In her UFC career, she recorded one loss in six appearances. Yet, she has one co-main event booking, while fighters like Michelle Waterson, booked the main event in her second UFC bout. In Waterson’s third bout, she received a co-main event scheduling. Understandably, Felice Herrig is upset with her situation.
Later in her interview, Herrig brought up Kowalkiewicz as a potential next opponent. “For whatever reason, I really want to fight Karolina. I just think that would be an exciting fight… Stylistically, I really like that fight. She’s ranked above (me), and it may be a good gauge for me,” she stated. Right now, it looks like Herrig is close to getting what she wants.
Kowalkiewicz last fought in her native country of Poland on the UFC Fight Pass card, UFC Fight Night 118: Cowboy vs. Till, in October. The Polish star defeated Jody Esquibel, after losing consecutive contests to former UFC female strawweight champion, Joanna Jedrzejcyk and Claudia Gadelha, respectively.
A win for either makes a good case for the next or an eventual title challenger. Kowalkiewicz holds a victory over current division champion, Rose Namajunas. While a win for Herrig would further establish her impressive win streak and undoubtedly give her the boost in the rankings she deserves.
Douglas Lima found out about change to co-main event at Bellator 192 from the internet
Bellator 192 fight card has gone through a shake-up over the past week. Bellator president Scott Coker revealed last week that the scheduled welterweight title fight between Rory MacDonald and champion Douglas Lima will now be serving as the co-main event and the heavyweight matchup between Chael Sonnen and Rampage Jackson would instead take top billing. At the time no explanation was made for the change. Monday Douglas Lima was a guest on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani to discuss this change.
“I was little bummed, but it is what it is, it’s business you know. I was pretty excited you know? Being the main event, having Rampage fight as the co-main event, I was happy there. Then I was bummed out that they changed it back to the co-main event. It’s not going to change a thing for me, I’m just focusing on the fight.”
Lima has been notoriously looked over in the eyes of fight fans. A longtime member of Bellator and a two-time champion has not gotten the notice he deserves and hopes to get.
“I found out through the internet, nobody tells me anything, I didn’t know. the same thing happened in New York, I thought my fight would be before the two main events there, but it ended up being the first fight of the night on Pay-Per-View. Hopefully, it doesn’t take anything away from the fight, you know spotlight and stuff.”
Lima is looking to make all the naysayers take notice at Bellator 192 that takes place at The Forum in Inglewood, Califonia on January 20th.
“This is the fight I’ve been waiting for for a long time. To get my name out there, to get people to know who I am. I’ve been delivering a lot of good fights, fights fans like to watch but no attention yet. I’m hoping though that after a win over Rory this week it will really put my name out there and show all these welterweights out there that I am for real.”
Al Iaquinta vs. Paul Felder rescheduled for UFC 223 in April
MMA fans around the world wept in deep sorrow when Al Iaquinta withdrew from a bout scheduled for UFC 218 against Paul Felder. Weep no more, for Paul Felder faces Al Iaquinta at UFC 223. Rumblings behind the match-up, first reported by FloCombat.com, came Sunday night before MMAFighting.com confirmed the bout scheduled for unannounced pay-per-view card, later in the evening.
The original bout fell through due to a severe knee injury to Iaquinta. He spoke to BJ Penn Radio about the injury nearly a week before the December 2nd, PPV event in Detriot. The Long Island real estate agent claimed, “I tore my PCL and my MCL maybe three or four months ago… for me to really put in a full training camp and do what I need to do, I would’ve had to just focus on fighting and physical therapy… it was the kind of thing where all roads led to me not kind of taking a risk and fighting on December 2nd”.
Iaquinta went on to say, “I kind of accepted the fight, but I never signed a bout agreement… I was kind of told I had to give them an answer pretty quick. It was a fight I thought I really wanted. I thought it was a good stylistic match-up for me, so I accepted the fight, and then thinking about it over the course of a day, we realized it probably wasn’t a smart decision for my health, for everything”.
An outspoken lightweight, he is not the first of his kind. Al Iaquinta is no stranger to idly waiting on the sideline for the UFC to make a move. Contract disputes and other bad strokes of luck left the Serra-Longo with three octagon appearances since 2015. The feud between Iaquinta and the promotion comes as a surprise when looking at the credentials of the aforementioned fighter. With an octagon record of 8-2, he earned notoriety as one of the best lightweights in the world. During his time in the UFC, he defeated Kevin Lee, Ross Pearson, Joe Lauzon, Jorge Masvidal, and most recently Diego Sanchez.
His opponent, “The Irish Dragon”, Paul Felder, holds an impressive UFC record of his own. At 7-3, Felder defeated tough competition as well. His record notes wins over Daron Cruickshank, Jason Saggo, Stevie Ray, and Charles Oliveira. Even more impressive than his record, his knockout ratio. At this stage of his career, Felder knockouts 55% of his opponents (10 knockouts in 18 career pro bouts).
Like his opponent Iaquinta, Paul Felder has a separate career outside of fighting. As many should notice, Felder found a role as a color commentator with the promotion he fights for. Following the footsteps in a long line of fighters before him, Felder announced multiple events alongside another new addition to the UFC broadcast team, Brendan Fitzgerald.
PPV card, UFC 223 and its location are not official yet. Despite a lack of an announcement, the event takes place in Brooklyn, New York at the Barclays Centre, according to multiple reports. Currently, the card features no official bouts. Reports state Felice Herrig vs. Karolina Kowalkiewicz (per Jim Edwards), and Evan Dunham vs. Mairbek Taisumov (per Farah Hannoun) are both in the works for UFC 223.
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