We are midway through the year 2016, and so far it has given us plenty of MMA moments to remember it by! In total there has been 16 events to take place this year, we have seen a number of exciting moments including multiple titles changing hands, numerous flash knockouts and a slew of beautifully timed submissions. One of the biggest events in UFC history; UFC 200, is quickly approaching so we thought what better time than now to announce the MMA Latest News Mid Year Awards?! The contributors at MMA Latest vote on these awards just like every post fight bonus’s article, and are by no means tied to any awards the UFC has or will hand out.
Fight Of The Mid-Year: Robbie Lawler vs. Carlos Condit (UFC 195)
It goes without saying that no matter who Robbie Lawler fights, win or lose, he is always in contention to put on the fight of the year. Many believed it to be near impossible for him to put on as exciting of a performance as he did against Rory MacDonald at UFC 189 last year, but Ruthless Robbie Lawler kicked off the first event of the year with a bang. He faced Carlos Condit in a back and forth five round war in one of the closest decision victories in recent memory. Condit won rounds one and four decisively, Lawler won rounds two and five no questions asked.
Round three was the deciding factor and could have been judged either way, however; 2-3 judges had Robbie Lawler narrowly retaining his belt via Split decision! Condit threw more volume and flashier strikes, where we saw Lawler throw with power and patience. At one point or another, both men had the other one hurt badly and anyone but these two likely would have gone down. Lawler and Condit both had the championship drive to remain standing and ended up putting on what is being deemed as “the best 5th round ever”. It was truly a great way to kick off the first card of the year; this vote was unanimous among us at MMA Latest.
Submission Of The Mid-Year- Nate Diaz vs. Conor McGregor (UFC 196)
When Raphael Dos Anjos was forced to withdraw from his Lightweight bout versus Conor McGregor, many were left wondering who would be the replacement? In steps Nate Diaz on a mere eight days notice, and all of a sudden a rivalry no one expected had been born between him and McGregor. The two were at a war of words leading up to the bout which had been moved to Welterweight, and the two put on a show for the Main Event. McGregor landed a number of power lefts on Nate in round one, busting him open badly. Round two was a different story, McGregor had completely gassed himself and Nate Diaz went in for the kill. Diaz landed some nasty combinations, including a patented Stockton Slap or two, and he was able to rock McGregor. While McGregor was rocked, he shot for a takedown that Diaz was able to stuff, Diaz took his back quickly thereafter and locked in the Rear Naked Choke winning by Submission in the second round earning himself the Submission of the Mid-Year award!
Honorable Mention: Ben Rothwell Def. Josh Barnett via GoGo Choke.
Knockout Of The Mid-Year: Yair Rodriguez vs. Andre Fili (UFC 197)
Yair Rodriguez is one of the best known up and comers in the game, mostly due to his unpredictability and his electrifying kicks, and he did not disappoint in his bout versus Andre Fili. Going into the fight Rodriguez was 3-0 in the octagon, but the all elusive first KO victory had dodged him. Yair controlled much of the early exchanges from the get go, even throwing a few of his patented flying somersault strikes. Yair finally earned his first UFC stoppage soon after at 2:15 of the very first round via devastating KO. Fili was backed up against the cage and Rodriguez threw a devastating flying switch kick to the chin rendering Fili unconscious; thus giving Rodriguez a walk off Knockout as no additional strikes were needed. Yair continues to make a name for himself in the stacked Featherweight division and he well deserved the award for Knockout Of The Mid-Year as the voting was unanimous.
Breakout Fighter Of The Mid Year: Bantamweight Cody Garbrandt
The heavy handed Bantamweight Cody Garbrandt has had quite the impressive run thus far in his UFC career. Coming into the UFC in 2015, Garbrandt boasted an impressive record of 5-0 with five straight KO/TKO victories, four of which were in the very first round. He has not slowed down since, Garbrandt is now 9-0 and has already earned two first round Knockouts in 2016. His most impressive win came versus fellow undefeated knockout extraordinaire Thomas Almeida earlier this year; Garbrandt knocked him out in under three minutes. Garbrandt faces Takeya Mizugaki at UFC 202 this August as he looks to continue his rise to UFC stardom!
Honorable Mention: Heavyweight Stipe Miocic
Female Fighter Of The Mid-Year: Bantamweight Miesha Tate
The shadow of “Tate is the best Bantamweight in the world besides Ronda Rousey” is all but over. Rousey suffered the devastating KO loss to Holly Holm late 2015 and it was announced that Miesha Tate would challenge Holm for the belt. Tate has yearned for UFC gold her entire career, she was never able to get over the Ronda Rousey hump, that is until this year. Many had counted Tate out of her title fight against Holm; I mean, Holm just demolished the girl Tate was never able to beat, there is no way Tate beats Holm right? Wrong. Tate submitted Holm in the fifth and final round to obtain the UFC belt for the first time in her career. Holm had been controlling the majority of the 23:30 that the two had fought, that is until Tate had finally secured the takedown. Tate took her back and was able to sink in the rear-naked choke, Holm being the champ that she is refused to tap and went to sleep. This win secured Miesha Tate the Comeback Of The Mid-Year award as well! Tate looks to defend the belt against the surging Amanda Nunes at UFC 200, July 9th.
Male Fighter Of The Mid-Year: Bantamweight Dominick Cruz
This vote turned out to be the closest one; Cruz beat out the honorable mention of Middleweight Michael Bisping by only one vote! it goes to say that Dominick Cruz is one of the most technical all around fighters to ever step in the octagon. His movement is unmatched and is near impossible to duplicate in training, his striking is always unpredictable, and he is able to make the best fighters in the world look three steps behind consistently. Going into his title fight against T.J Dillashaw in January, many wondered if he was going to be remotely close to the same fighter he was before his four year injury ridden layoff. Many fighters would have given up after what he had gone through, not “The Dominator”, he faced Dillashaw for the Bantamweight Title at UFC Boston in January and put on a performance to remember. Cruz danced around like his old self, landing his strikes tactically, making Dillashaw miss with the majority of his strikes. Cruz went on to defeat Dillashaw via decision and looked almost better than he had before.
At UFC 199, Cruz faced longtime rival Urijah Faber for a third time, and once again did what he does best, make the other guy miss and win. Cruz dropped Faber a number of different times with his perfect timing and came close to stopping the fight. He went on to sweep the scorecards earning a unanimous victory. Cruz is the Male fighter of the year so far and it might sound crazy, but his performances give the feeling that he was never really stripped of the belt due to injuries. It almost feels as if he was the champion the entirety of his four year layoff and took that time to get better instead of giving up like some would have.
Upset Of The Mid-Year: Michael Bisping Def. (C) Luke Rockhold in Rd 1 (UFC 199)
This fight earned Bisping the upset award for a number of reasons. For starter, Michael Bisping took this fight on eleven days notice after former champion Chris Weidman was forced to withdraw due to an injury. Reason number two, Michael Bisping had previously lost to Luke Rockhold via submission years prior. Reason number three, it was Luke Rockhold, the guy who beat the man to stop Anderson Silva in his prime, the guy that was deemed the best Middleweight in the world; undefeated Chris Weidman. Luke had won the belt from Weidman December of 2015 and many had expected Rockhold to buzz saw through Bisping. Bisping had different ideas, Bisping was coming off an impressive win against Anderson Silva earlier this year, in the very first round Bisping stunned Rockhold with a beautiful combo dropping him to the canvas, Rockhold got up quickly but was met with a huge left hand from the Brit, this time sending him to the canvas for good. Bisping is finally the UFC champ after a long ten year career and doing so in his first title fight ever!
Event of the Mid-Year: UFC 199
This award follows the previous one up nicely. If you have not seen this event yet, take the time and watch every fight as all of them were exciting. The co-main featured Dominick Cruz defending his bantamweight title against long-time nemesis Urijah Faber, in the third of their trilogy and rubber match. The main event featured Luke Rockhold defending his Middleweight title against Michael Bisping. In total eight of the thirteen fights ended with a stoppage, a champ retained and a champ was crowned. The first fight of the night gave a real good reason to sign up for fight pass, Polo Reyes vs. Dong Hyun Kim was an absolute war and it was a miracle that both guys made it into the third round. Dan Henderson channeled his inner self in a remarkable come from behind win to knockout Hector Lombard, Cruz defeated Faber in a masterful performance, and Bisping finally claimed UFC gold. These were some of the highlight but head to toe this card easily has been the best event to this point.
Most Anticipated For The Remainder of 2016: UFC debut in New York City
As a New Yorker nothing feels better than writing this. UFC is finally legalized in NY and there is no sweeter feeling around. New York has joined the other 49 states and will host its first event in NYC at UFC 205, November 11th, 2016 in the historic Madison Square Garden. Thanks to the many fighters who rallied for this to take place as well as the pro MMA organizations who lobbied for this bill to finally be passed. The city that never sleeps is due for a big show, although no fights have been announced yet, the feeling is that its going to be something HUGE.
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.”
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.
Invicta 27 Officially Announced
The all-women promotion, Invicta FC, returns to Kansas City, Missouri on January 13th, 2018 for Invicta 27. The promotion announced on their website, the promotions inaugural 2018 event will start the new year off with a fan-friendly main event, Sarah Kaufman (18-4 1 NC) vs. Pannie Kianzad (8-2).
Kaufman returns to Invicta FC after a three-year stint with the UFC. The Canadian athlete fought once prior, in the female-only promotion, defeating Leslie Smith via split decision. Both women earned Fight of the Night honors for their efforts. In her previous three bouts, Kaufman posted a record of 1-2. The former Strikeforce bantamweight champion lost her final two UFC bouts against Alexis Davis and Valentina Shevchenko. Her most recent bout was a victory over Jessica Rose-Clark, in the Battlefield FC promotion.
The veteran Kaufman made her debut in 2006, nearly six years before her opponent. Pannie Kianzad made her professional debut with the Estonian promotion MMA Raju, in 2012. Kianzad began her career undefeated in eight bouts. On the way, capturing the Cage Warriors bantamweight championship. The Iranian-Swede holds an identical record to Kaufman in her previous three bouts, 1-2. Currently, she finds herself on a two-loss skid.
In the co-main event, Vanessa Porto (19-8) faces Mariana Morais (12-5). The Brazilian, Morais, is coming off a disappointing title challenge in the flyweight division of the KSW promotion. Ariane Lipski submitted her in 58 seconds. Porto, however, is fresh off her Invicta 26, TKO victory over, Milana Dudieva.
Porto is an Invicta FC veteran, having fought in seven of the promotions twenty-six held events. Throughout her career, the veteran faced the best women the world had to offer. The thirty-three-year-old has fought the likes of Roxanne Modafferi (twice), Agnieszka Niedzwiedz, Barb Honchak, Tara LaRosa, Jennifer Maia (twice), Tonya Evinger, Germain De Randamie, Amanda Nunes, and Cris “Cyborg” Justino.
The first card of 2018 for Invicta holds a plethora of inexperienced women. Of the 17 women booked for the card, only four women hold ten or more professional fights on their record. Another four women will make their professional MMA debut: Loma Lookboonmee, Jade Ripley, Helen Peralta, and Akeela Al-Hameed. The Invicta 27, the card will feature nine bouts. The event will take place at the Scottish Rite Temple in Kansas City, Missouri on January 13th, 2018. The card will proceed as follows:
Pannie Kianzad (8-2) vs. Sarah Kaufman (18-4 1 NC) – Bantamweight Division
Vanessa Porto (19-8) vs. Mariana Morais (12-5) – Flyweight Division
Sharon Jacobson (4-2) vs. Ashely Nichols (3-1) – Strawweight Division
Ashley Cummings (5-4) vs. Stephanie Alba (3-2) – Atomweight Division
Brogan Walker-Sanchez (4-0) vs. TBA – Flyweight Division
Felicia Spencer (3-0) vs. Akeela Al-Hameed (0-0) – Featherweight Division
Mallory Martin (1-2) vs. Tiffany Masters (2-1) – Strawweight Division
Melissa Wang (1-0) vs. Loma Lookboonmee (0-0) – Atomweight Division
Jade Ripley (0-0) vs. Helen Peralta (0-0) – Strawweight Division
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