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The Morning After UFC 197

Matthew Wells

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A week filled with strange events ultimately culminated in fantastic fashion with UFC 197. What was supposed to be the welcome back party for Jon Jones, the party was almost spoiled early in the week when a certain brash Irishman sent out a single Tweet that turned the mixed martial arts world on its head when he suggested he would be retiring seemingly out of nowhere. While UFC President Dana White addressed the situation a few hours afterward by saying Conor McGregor refused to fulfill media obligations to promote UFC 200, thus he would be removed from the card, the news sent shockwaves across newswires across the planet. If there was any doubt of McGregor’s reach, the situation all but consumed any pre-fight hype of UFC 197.

When we entered the MGM Grand Garden Arena to prepare for the UFC 200 press conference which took place just prior to the UFC 197 weigh-ins, a quick glimpse at the stage would show you there were no nameplates on the two most prominent seats on the stage, either side of Dana White’s podium, hinting there would be a huge announcement about the main event of UFC 200. What happened was quite strange, as Nate Diaz was called up last to fill a seat to the right of Dana White, with no opponent named to face him at the time. This sent the journalists in a frenzy to dig into Dana White for an explanation as to why there was no new opponent for Nate, even more so, almost imploring Dana White to make an exception for Conor McGregor to be added back onto the card due to the overwhelming reaction to the news. Dana would say after the main event on Saturday night that journalists were acting weird with their questions during the press conference. Could you blame the questions, especially considering that McGregor said he was not retiring?

Shifting the spotlight back on the event at hand, the UFC 197’s fight week activities were highlighted by the return of the extremely jubilant former UFC light heavyweight champion, Jon Jones. His positive attitude radiated through UFC Embedded episodes, open workouts, media day, all the way up to soaking in every moment of his walkout and embracing his family cage side before entering the Octagon on fight night. He wanted this fight to be for the fans, which he proved by simply accepting the fight against Ovince Saint Preux on short notice when Daniel Cormier suffered an injury just weeks before the fight. Cormier, although injured, strangely was the third man in the booth for the main event, commentating and giving praise to Jones throughout the fight. The move was seen as very professional, yet it felt very strange considering the beef between the two.

For Jones, the night was to serve as an opportunity to make up for UFC 151, when he refused to fight Chael Sonnen on short notice, ultimately causing the entire event to be scrapped, resulting in plenty of upset fans who made travel arrangements. When speaking to Jones during media day, he made it very clear this was a one-time thing, and not to get used to the idea of him being turing into a guy who will fight anyone at the drop of a dime. It’s a completely understandable stance to take considering the formula for success has not failed Jones or his camp to this date.

As for the fight against Ovince Saint Preux, Jones was timid and gun-shy, yet still dominant nonetheless over the course of five rounds en route to claiming interim gold. Jones looked a bit rusty, which sounds a little crazy when you consider he pitched a complete shutout against Saint Preux, even earning a 10-8 from one judge on the scorecards. Jon said he heard the boos and wanted to appease the fans by turning up the intensity, yet his corner implored him to stick to the gameplan and secure a victory on the night, with much bigger things looming in the near future. It was announced early on Saturday evening that if Jones emerged with his hand raised, and both fighters could be cleared by doctors, UFC 200 would be headlined by the rematch between Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier. Normally, that would be a very exciting fight to top off the biggest card of the year, yet knowing the series of events that lead to McGregor versus Diaz being scrapped, makes it lose some of its luster.

How about Demetrious Johnson? He may have settled any argument there was about who is the better pound for pound fighter between himself and Jon Jones. Johnson completely dismantled Henry Cejudo in the first round, unleashing attacks from every angle to the head and body in the clinch, dropping the Olympic Gold Medalist midway through the opening frame. It was just business as usual for Mighty Mouse, who makes it look way too easy every time he steps in the cage. As he said all week long, this was just another fight, just another opponent, and just another step closer to breaking Anderson Silva’s record. Aside from the normal “oohs and ahhs” of other big moments during the card, Demetrious Johnson’s performance was the only one that earned an immediate round of applause from the journalists watching on closed circuit in Studios A & B at the MGM Grand.

The stories from this card run deep, yet aside from the two big stories of Jones and Johnson, the other prominent concern is Anthony Pettis. After losing two fights in a row heading into UFC 197, the former champion was searching for answers by spending time at Jackson-Wink MMA to prepare for Edson Barboza. When speaking with Pettis on media day, he felt the time spent there was incredibly beneficial to his game, which gave him a much-needed boost to his confidence. Even with the changes and the positive outlook on the fight, Pettis would walk away suffering his third loss in a row. There is no doubt that the UFC lightweight division is still the most stacked division in all of MMA, but for a former champion to drop three in a row has to wear heavy on the psyche of Pettis, who now needs to find a win in the worst way next time he steps inside the Octagon. If you are one of the people that suggessted Pettis should be cut after this loss (yes, that actually happened in the knee-jerk reaction of the Twitter MMA fan), you should be ashamed of yourself.

At the end of it all, the two most dominant fighters on the planet walked away with their hands raised and gold around their waist, as many expected. Perhaps unexpected, however, was to be left with the argument that Demetrious Johnson may have overtaken Jon Jones on the pound for pound rankings due to his exceptional performance. It’s a good argument to think about as we carry on to the next UFC event: UFC Rotterdam.

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Bellator

Bellator 194, Nelson vs. Mitrione Pre-Fight Notes

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Bellator takes over the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut later tonight. The promotion hosts, Bellator 194: Nelson vs. Mitrione from the venue, beginning at 6:30 pm (ET). Bellator 194 marks the 17th trip to the Mohegan Sun Casino. Their last trip, took place a little more than a few months ago in October of 2017, Bellator 185. The first trip to the Connecticut casino, occurred all the way back in April of 2009, and the second ever event held by the promotion, Bellator 2.

Twenty four fighters will make the walk later tonight, giving fans 12 bouts to watch from prelims to main event. Of the 24 athletes set to compete, five make their professional debuts. Peter Nascimento, Mike Kimbel, Pat Casey, Ross Richardson, and Ronnie Leon all fight for the first time, professionally. As amateurs, the group holds a combined record of 18-12. Only Ross Richardson maintained an undefeated amateur record (3-0).

In recent cards past, only some full broadcasts brought forward newly professional fighters. Events such as Bellator 191, 190, and 187, only broadcast short main card. While events like 193, 192, 189, 188, and 186 broadcast full fight cards. Since November of 2017, 15 fighters made their pro debuts with the Bellator promotion. Including Khonry Gracie in his unanimous decision loss to Devon Brock (Bellator 192), and Ty-wan Claxton, in his amazing KO finish of Johnny Bonilla-Bowman in the first round of Bellator 186. Claxton makes his second pro appearance tonight at Bellator 194 against Jose Antonio Perez, whom also fights for the second time professionally.

Upon completion of Bellator 194’s broadcast, 50% of the promotions first round matches in their Heavyweight Grand Prix will be decided. It is nearly impossible to choose, one match-up more interesting than the others. Yet, the Mitrione vs. Nelson match up is not only puzzling to fans and media alike. One half of the main event, at least, was once annoyed by the prospect of fighting his former TUF cast mate. Mitrione spoke to MMAJunkie about his reaction to the match-up, “Well, I asked them, how does that make sense? Roy is arguably the #2 guy in the division… Explain that to me, is there any seeding?…” He continued, “But the more I thought about, the less I really cared. Either I beat Roy when I have the strap, or I beat Roy to get the strap. What the hell difference does it make?”

In one bit of event news, fan favorite flyweight, Heather Hardy missed weight, in what turned out to be an odd set of circumstances. According to Hardy, she believed she made weight, without stripping down and using the towel. It was her understanding that the Mohegan Tribe Department of Athletic Regulation gave her a weight allowance for the bikini top and bottom she wore while on the scale. Hardy weighed in at 126.25 lbs. with the aforementioned bikini top and bottom.

This understanding was not shared by president of Mohegan Tribe Department of Athletic Regulation, Mike Mazzulli. The president made the decision to record Hardy’s weight without allowing her to disrobe, or take use the extra two hours allotted to make weight. It was his understanding upon examining and attempting to communicate with Hardy whilst she stood on the scale that brought him to the decision. After renegotiation of the bout agreement, Hardy was fined 20% of her purse which goes to her opponent Ana Julaton.

 

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Bellator

Bellator 194 Weigh Ins Live Video

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Bellator 194 takes place Friday, February 16th at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. The stacked main card features the second bout in the Bellator Heavyweight Grand Prix matching Roy Nelson against Matt Mitrione. Both former members of the UFC roster, Mitrione and Nelson look to make a further impact in the Bellator Heavyweight division with a potential step towards the divisions championship crown. In the co-main event, MMA veteran Patricky Pitbull takes Derek Campos. The two will most likely battle for the next shot at the promotions Lightweight title, following the Brent Primus (c) vs. Michael Chandler rematch. Other notable bouts on the card include Liam McGeary vs. Vadim Nemkov, Heather Hardy vs. Ana Julaton, and Tywon Claxton against Jose Antonio Perez. Bellator 194 airs live on the Paramount network, main card beginning at 9 pm.

The official weigh-ins took place earlier today, the results are listed below.

Main Card (9 PM ET, Paramount Network)

Roy Nelson (23-14) vs. Matt Mitrione (12-5) Heavyweight bout.

RN: 265 lb.

MM: 255 lb.

Patricky Freire (18-8) vs. Derek Campos (19-6) Lightweight bout.

PF: 155 lb.

DC: 154 lb.

Heather Hardy (1-1) vs. Ana Julaton (2-3) Women’s Flyweight bout.

HH: 126.25 lb*

AJ: 125 lb.

Liam McGeary (12-2) vs. Vadim Nemkov (8-2) Light Heavyweight bout.

LM: 203.75 lb.

VN: 205 lb.

Tywan Claxton (1-0) vs. Jose Antonio Perez (0-1) Featherweight bout.

TW: 145 lb.

JS: 142.25 lb.

Preliminary Card (7 PM ET)

Ross Richardson (3-0, Amateur) vs. Ronie Arana Leon (2-5, Amateur) Lightweight bout.

RS: 155.5 lb.

RL: 156 lb.

Mike Kimbel (4-4, Amateur) vs. Geoffrey Then (0-1) Bantamweight bout. 

MK: 135.75 lb.

GT: 135 lb.

Regivaldo Carlvalho (4-2) vs. Thomas English (6-8) Featherweight bout.

RC: 145 lb.

TE: 146 lb.

Jarod Trice (2-0) vs. Walter Howard (3-4) Light Heavyweight bout.

JT: 205.5 lb.

WH: 203 lb.

Marcus Surin (4-1) vs. Dean Hancock (3-1) Lightweight bout.

MS: 156 lb.

DH: 155.25 lb.

Peter Nascimento (2-1, Amateur) vs. Kastriot Xhema (1-1) Catchweight (165 lb.) bout.

PN: 163.5 lb.

KX 164.5 lb.

Tyler Hamilton (1-0) vs. Pat Casey (7-2, Amateur) Lightweight bout.

TH: 154 lb.

PC: 155.5 lb.

*Heather Hardy missed weight by ¼ of a pound and subsequently fined 20% of her purse. The fine will go to her opponent Ana Julaton.

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Events

UFC 221 Rockhold vs. Romero Live Results

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UFC 221 marks the first event hosted by the promotion in Western Australia. UFC 221 takes place in Perth, Australia at the Perth Arena. The co-main event features Australian star, Mark Hunt against Curtis Blaydes. In the main event, Luke Rockhold looks to earn the Middleweight interim title when he takes on Yoel Romero. Romero is not eligible to earn the interim Middleweight title due to the fact that the Cuban missed weight. Yoel Romero replaced the original headliner of the card, Robert Whittaker. Whittaker, current Middleweight champion, withdrew from the event due to a serious case of mistreated staph infection.

FIGHT NIGHT BONUSES:

Fight of the night: Li Jianliang vs. Jake Matthews

Performance of the night: Jussier Formiga, Israel Adesanya

MAIN CARD – PPV – 10PM/7PM ETPT

  • Yoel Romero (12-2) vs. Luke Rockhold (13-3) – Catchweight (187.7) bout
    • Result: Yoel Romero def. Luke Rockhold via KO (punch) 1:48 round 3
  • Mark Hunt (13-11, 1 NC) vs. Curtis Blaydes (8-1, 1 NC) – Heavyweight bout
    • Result: Curtis Blaydes def. Mark Hunt via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-26, 29-27)
  • Tai Tuivasa (8-0) vs. Cyril Asker (9-3) – Heavyweight bout
    • Result: Tai Tuivasa def. Cyril Asker via TKO (punches and elbows) 2:18 round 1
  • Jake Matthews (12-3) vs. Li Jianliang (14-4) – Welterweight bout
    • Result: Jake Matthews def. Li Jianliang via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-26, 30-26)
  • Tyson Pedro (6-1) vs Saparbek Safarov (8-1) – Light Heavyweight bout
    • Result: Tyson Pedro def. Saparbek Safarov via submission (kimura) 3:54 round 1

PRELIMINARY CARD – FS1 – 8PM/5PM ETPT

  • Damien Brown (17-11) vs. Dong Hyun Kim (15-8-3) – Lightweight bout
    • Result: Dong Hyun Kim def. Damien Brown via split decision (29-28, 29-28 Kim, 29-28 Brown)
  • Rob Wilkinson (11-1) vs. Israel Adesanya (11-0) – Welterweight bout
    • Result: Israel Adesanya def. Rob Wilkinson via TKO (punches) 3:37 round 2
  • Jeremy Kennedy (11-0) vs Alexander Volkovski (16-1) – Featherweight bout
    • Result: Alexander Volkovski def. Jeremy Kennedy via TKO (punches) 4:57 round 2
  • Jussier Formiga (20-5) vs Ben Nguyen (17-6) – Flyweight bout
    • Result: Jussier Formiga def. Ben Nguyen via technical submission (RNC) 1:43 round 3

EARLY PRELIMINARY CARD – UFC FIGHT PASS – 6:30PM/3:30PM ETPT

  • Ross Pearson (21-12, 1 NC) vs. Mizuto Hirota (19-8-2) – Lightweight bout
    • Result: Ross Pearson def. Mizuto Hirota via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
  • Teruto Ishihara (10-4) vs. José Alberto Quiñónez (7-2) – Bantamweight bout
    • Result: José Alberto Quiñónez def. Teruto Ishihara via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
  • Luke Jumeau (12-4) vs. Daichi Abe (6-0) – Welterweight bout
    • Result: Luke Jumeau def. Daichi Abe via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-27, 28-27)
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