The biggest fight card of the year is finally here. Two title fights, two potential #1 contender match-ups, one vacant belt, and a slew of incredible undercard fights. With such an array of talent covering most of the UFC weight divisions, spanning over both genders, it is no wonder UFC 187 has been talked about for months, even without Jon Jones as the headliner.
You have heavyweight strikers, middleweight wrestling powerhouses, slick strawweight grapplers and welterweights who are constantly in and out of journeyman status. But my eyes fall on the prelim card on Fox Sports One. More specifically, the headliner between John Dodson and Zach Makovsky. One might think that because these men are meeting on the prelims, and that there is a flyweight title on the main card, that this fight is not as prevalent as others. This fight, however, holds more significance in the flyweight division than the Benevidez vs. Moraga match up and might even determine the next title challenger for the reigning flyweight king, Demetrious Johnson.
The importance, in my opinion, lies with one man: John Dodson. Winner of TUF 14, and slayer of current 135 pound champ, TJ Dillashaw, John Dodson is potentially the savior of the UFC’s flyweight division. Now don’t get me wrong, I am a huge fan of Demetrious Johnson, and love to see that man fight, but numbers don’t lie. Johnson is not a huge draw. He doesn’t talk much trash, he doesn’t have a flashy fighting style and when you hand him a microphone he talks about how much he can’t wait to go home and see his family. Despite those reasons being why I am such a huge fan, most of the UFC fan base doesn’t seem to agree with me. Fans want knockouts, they want trash talk, and they want wars in the cage.
Bring in John Dodson and you get just that. While Dodson’s personality can rub people the wrong way, it’s hard to deny is ridiculous athleticism, punching power, and persona. Besides, even a fighter who people don’t like draws more than a fighter who is as bland as white bread. He’s a man who will backflip off the cage half a dozen times just for the fun of it. This is John Dodson’s first fight in almost a year as he is coming off of ACL surgery and recovery. And the man he is fighting, Zach Makovsky is 3-1 in the UFC. Dodson has already beaten Jon Moraga, who fights on the main card, as well as some of the division’s top talent. If Dodson beats Makovsky he will make it 3 in a row against surging talent, and if he can get the stoppage victory, there is really no one else in the division that makes more sense for Demetrious Johnson to fight.
With a victory this weekend, John Dodson could find himself the benefactor of Demetrious Johnson’s clearing out of the flyweight division. Couple that with a 3 fight win streak, and the fact that he dropped the champion 3 times in their first fight for the belt, and Dodson is nearly a shoo-in to get the next chance at the flyweight strap. Some would say the flyweight division needs Dodson, his punching power, physical ability, and unique personality, as the champion; and that is why John Dodson is UFC 187’s fighter to watch.
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.
Marco Reyes Flagged for Potential Anti-Doping Policy Violation
Earlier today, UFC officials announced that Lightweight, Marco Reyes was flagged for a potential UFC Anti-Doping Policy violation. The potential violation hails from a sample collected on March 8th, 2018, in an out-of-competition test.
Reyes made his way into the UFC through The Ultimate Fighter Latin America, season 2. Competing in the lightweight bracket, Reyes defeated Christhian Soto by 2nd rd. TKO of a preliminary round bout. He then went onto to face Horacio Gutiérrez, in the semifinals of the tournament. Gutiérrez defeated Reyes in the opening round by TKO.
Following his elimination from the tournament, the Mexican fighter met Cezar Arzamendia on the series finale, The Ultimate Fighter Latin America 2 Finale. Reyes impressively defeated Arzamendia, whom was the first overall pick for Team Gastelum, by 1st round KO.
From there, Reyes defeated Dong Hung Kim (rd. 1, KO), and Jason Novelli (Split Decision) respectively, before falling to rising contender James Vick. Most recently, the Lightweight fighter dispatched Matt Frevola in the opening round, ruining the Long Islanders promotional debut. His bout against Frevola took place at UFC Fight Night: Stephens vs. Choi, on January 14th of this year.
The UFC statement on the matter reads as follows:
The UFC organization was notified today that the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) has informed Marco Reyes of a potential Anti-Doping Policy violation stemming from an out-of-competition sample collected on March 8, 2018.
USADA, the independent administrator of the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, will handle the results management and appropriate adjudication of this case involving Reyes. Under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, there is a full and fair legal process that is afforded to all athletes before any sanctions are imposed. Additional information will be provided at the appropriate time as the process moves forward.
Dillon Danis to make Pro debut against Kyle Walker at Bellator 198
Mixed Martial Arts officially adopted another incredibly talented jiu-jitsu practioner today. Bellator officials announced today the long-awaited debut of Dillon Danis, whom the promotion had signed in the year previous. After zero amateur and countless jiu-jitsu matches, Danis makes his debut at Bellator 198: Mir vs. Emelianenko, against Kyle Walker.
Kyle Walker enters the match up also making his Bellator debut. Walker recently made a resurgence in 2016 after taking off, almost exactly, 3 years. Since returning to the professional scene his record is 0-3, losing each fight by stoppage (2 Sub, 1 KO).
Walker looks to snap his streak yet, his opponent could provide a major challenge. In terms of advantages for Walker, he has a massive and obvious one. His experience. Walkers opponent fights for the first time in the sport of MMA. While Danis competed in many top-level jiu-jitsu tournaments and matches, comparing the competition would stop and end upon examining the rule sets. It is quite obvious, the difference. Danis will have a bit of adversity to overcome, in that respect.
In spite of this, Danis’ team, he trains out of the highly regarded SBG Ireland. Even before his MMA training, he trained under Marcelo Garcia. He earned his black belt in April of 2015, following an incredible 2014. In that year, Danis became UAEJJF World Champion, winning gold in the 82 kg (181 lb.) Brown belt category.
The prospect of what that could look like inside the cage is exciting. He may have developed some striking techniques but, the lack of time dedicated to that training in undeniable. Experience and time is required to develop skills of any kind.
Bellator 198: Mir vs. Emelianenko, takes place on Saturday, April 28th from the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Illinois. Bellator 198 features the third of four preliminary bouts in the promotions Heavyweight Grand Prix, Fedor Emelianenko takes on Frank Mir. It serves as the nights main event. Other bouts on the card feature; Emmanuel Sanchez against Sam Sicilia, Neiman Gracie faces Javier Torres, Rafael Lavato Jr. vs. John Salter, and more.
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