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.
UFC Announces Liverpool Event, Darren Till Main Event
Scousers are drowning in celebration this evening. Earlier today, UFC officials announced the addition of a Liverpool show to their 2018 event calendar. Liverpool’s, Echo Arena, plays host for the event, which takes place on May 27th.
Liverpool’s own, Darren Till made the announcement this afternoon with Dan Hardy at the UFC Fight Night: Werdum vs. Volkov, ceremonial weigh-in. When asked by Hardy what it means to have the UFC in Liverpool, he had this to day, “Words can’t describe it. It doesn’t do it justice, words. So, it’s coming and I’m going to be the first Scousers to ever have done it. In 200 years they’re going to remember my name in combat sports in Liverpool. I’m gonna take someones chin off in Liverpool, that’s what’s happening”.
He was also quoted in an release from the promotion saying, “I can’t believe UFC is finally coming to Liverpool and I’m going to be headlining Echo Arena. My name is going to be remembered in 200 years time for being part of this historical event and I can’t even describe how much that means to me”. Till will headline the card, his opponent is yet to be announced.
In the official release, it quotes David Shaw, Senior Vice President International and Content, claiming, “The stars really aligned for the Octagon to touch down in Liverpool. We have seen such phenomenal demand from fans in the region for a live event. Pair that with having such a rising, local star in Darren Till it made absolute sense to bring our first live event to this historical combat sports city in 2018”.
UFC Liverpool lands on a date speculated for a different venue, in a different country. Reports swirled last month, specifically one from MMAFighting.com, which claimed the May 27th date belonged to the UFCs return to Dublin. A return to Dublin doesn’t seem to fall completely out of the realm of possibility. For now, it remains to be seen.
The UFC also announced two bouts, both in the Middleweight division, booked for the event. Elias Therodorou takes on Trevor Smith, and Daniel Kelly goes up against England’s Tom Breese.
Rhode Island Prospect John Douma Booked for CES 49 against Zach Burhans
The New England regional MMA scene has been fairly quiet this month. Such a description won’t be apt one month from now. As the days fade away from the month of March, the two most prominent organizations of this region gear up for early April events. The CES MMA promotion holds CES 49, on the first Friday of April (April 6th). CES 49 takes place in its hub venue, Twin River Casino, in Lincoln, Rhode Island.
Yesterday, CES officials announced John Douma, a highly regarded pro featherweight prospect, makes his third appearance for the MMA promotion, when he faces Zach Burhans at CES 49.
For John Douma, he looks to continue his career with an undefeated record. At 2-0, Douma owns two stoppage victories, both coming in the first round (1 KO/TKO, 1 Sub). Born and raised in Wyckoff, Rhode Island, Douma is the New England regions 18th ranked pro Featherweight (Rankings by Tapology.com). A lofty ranking for a 21-year-old with only two professional fights on his record. Especially so in the regions most prominent professional division.
Zach Burhans comes into next months match with a similar amount of experience. Burhans has four professional fights in his arsenal of experience with a record of 3-1. Twice that of his opponent, but two times a small number is still a small number. The New York fighter makes his promotional debut at next months CES 49.
Surprisingly, Burhans has not fought since his last loss, which came in March of 2011. The loss was the first of his four fight pro career. It also was the first fight for Burhans since August of 2009. At CES 49, he ends his second hiatus from professional mixed martial arts. His second and most recent break from the sport was his longest. Burhans did not compete from March 2011, until next months CES MMA card. Making the span between his most recent and upcoming, around 6 years and nine months.
CES 49 takes place at Twin River Casino in Lincoln, Rhode Island on April 6th. Other bouts featured on the card include, #1 ranked New England Lightweight, Nate Andrews takes on Chris Padilla for the promotions vacant Lightweight title. Kaline Medeiros attempts to bounce back following her 3rd round submission loss to rising star, Mackenzie Dern at Invicta 26, when she faces 11th ranked pound-for-pound New England women’s fighter, Jenna Serio. Also, Chris Curtis goes up against Jason Norwood in a main card Welterweight clash.
Report: Bellator plans Rome event for July
With the news of Bellator 200, turning a bit stale being nearly a week old, comes more international event news for the promotion. According to a report by Raphael Marinho of Combate, Bellator scheduled its third international event of 2018. In the report, it states the promotion booked July 14th as a date for a Rome, Italy event.
It will be the first event held by Bellator in the historic city of Rome, Italy. The first in Rome, but the fifth Bellator event in Italy. Previously, the promotion made stops in Torino and Florence, Italy, holding two events in each location. It also marks the 23rd international held by Bellator. 23 events across 10 cities, and 5 countries.
The previous four Italian events held a mixture of combat sports. Each of the events had a Kickboxing card, serving as the main event and an MMA card, which acted as a main card. News of an accompanying Kickboxing card, most likely, would come following a formal announcement of the event.
Also included in the report, the promotion is working to make Alessio Sakara the headliner of evening. Sakara spent nine years with the UFC (Oct. 2005 – Oct. 2013). Over that span, he earned a record of 6-8. He was cut following four consecutive loses. Before signing with Bellator, Sakara signed with Final Fight Championship, where he went 1-0, 1 NC. His final fight with FFC (Final Fight Championship) was a 1:32 KO of his opponent.
The Italian athlete, Sakara, fought on three of the four previous Italy held Bellator events. Sakara headlined Bellator 190 & 168, while begin the co-main event for Bellator 152. Interestingly, the Middleweights only Bellator competition took place in his home country of Italy. He is 2-1 with the promotion, defeating Brian Rogers and Joey Beltran, respectively, while losing to Middleweight champion, Rafael Carvalho, most recently.
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