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The Morning After UFC 200

Matthew Wells

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After a long week full of breaking news, controversial occurrences, and incredible fight cards two nights prior, International Fight Week culminated with its marquee event on Saturday night, UFC 200. With a few new production elements on display, color added to the Reebok fight kits, and a yellow mat in the Octagon, the stage was set for a special event. While the dust settles from the whirlwind of the weekend, can we truly say that UFC 200 delivered on all of its promises as a blockbuster event?

Contrary to the beliefs of some, Saturday’s event proved to be a special evening. For true fans of the sport of MMA, there was perhaps only one name on the entire fight card of UFC 200 that was not instantly familiar. As the evening progressed through the course of a twelve-fight card, you got the recurring feeling of “Wow! What a sick fight this next one will be!” While that anticipation may or may not have been fulfilled, it was revived after each fight due to the incredible talents scheduled to grace the Octagon.

The entire Fight Pass Prelims delivered with first round knockouts to set the stage for the remainder of the evening. Jim Miller destroyed Takanori Gomi, who seemed off his game earlier in the week during Ultimate Media Day. Gegard Mousasi was scheduled against Thiago Santos, which based on the latter’s recent Octagon success should have been a decent matchup, yet the talent gap between the two men was apparent very early on as Mousasi steamrolled his way to victory. Despite his intensity throughout interviews all week long, Diego Sanchez found himself without his mouthpiece that was removed by vicious strikes from Joe Lauzon just before the referee would call a stop to the bout.

Two former champions competed on the Fox Sports 1 Prelims; one who’s career has hit a very rough patch since losing his title and the other who simply found himself on the wrong side of a very close decision. Johny Hendricks doesn’t seem to be the same guy who arguably beat Georges St. Pierre. The focus of making a weight limit he probably shouldn’t be fighting at is severely hindering his in-cage performances. As confirmed by his coaches and nutritionist just a couple of weeks prior, Johny’s recent fights have truly been with the scales. While the simple answer would be moving up to the next weight class, Johny is one of those “tweener” guys who would truly benefit from a weight class between the 170 and 185-pound limit, as he’s undersized compared to the elite in the middleweight division. After suffering a hard-fought loss to Kelvin Gastelum on the night, it will be interesting to see how Johny moves forward.

For one of the most lasting memories of the card, we jump forward to the Pay-Per-View portion of the card for everyone’s fight of the night, Jose Aldo versus Frankie Edgar. Thirteen seconds after the opening bell of his previous fight, Aldo was staring at the ceiling while Conor McGregor was “making it rain” while straddling the top of the cage. Since that moment, Aldo has been incredibly focused on proving that was a fluke occurrence…and, boy, did he ever. Jose Aldo looked incredible over the course of five rounds against former Lightweight Champion Frankie Edgar, one of the toughest men to enter the Octagon. Physically Aldo looked much better than in his bout with Conor, probably due to less stress from an extensive, strenuous press tour. Not dealing with McGregor’s mind games also helped the new Interim Featherweight Champion prepare properly to put on a performance to remind everyone of his unique talents.

UFC 200 also proved that once you’ve reached a certain level of reverence, wins and losses don’t matter. Well, that is at least true when you take a fight on two day’s notice against the Light Heavyweight Champion Daniel Cormier. Anderson Silva not only got a pass on his loss, he also received some of the loudest cheers of the evening after the completion of the third round for making the fight competitive during the striking exchanges. Of course, DC would impose his will in the wrestling game. As he said in the post-fight presser when asked about why he was booed by the fans who didn’t like Cormier avoiding striking with Silva, “I would say to you, ‘You go stand in front of Anderson for 15 minutes if you have the ability to take him down.” Completely justified, completely reasonable, and quite frankly, completely expected from the champ. Considering the cluster of stress that Cormier dealt with during fight week with Jon Jones testing positive and being pulled from the fight, it’s not a surprise that Cormier would simply do what he needed to do in order to have his hand raised. Mission Accomplished.

Brock Lesnar returned to the Octagon after a five-year layoff and perhaps looked even better than before against Mark Hunt. A fight that was very briefly billed as the main event once Jon Jones versus Daniel Cormier was scrapped, was moved back to the co-main slot once Anderson Silva stepped in to face Cormier. The analysis on this fight didn’t run very deep. If Brock could complete takedowns without getting clipped by Hunt, he would win the fight. Brock completed a few takedowns. Brock won the fight. Five years removed from his previous bout and having only trained for six weeks, Brock returned to smash one of the top heavyweights in the world. Will we see Lesnar back in the Octagon again? Hopefully so after that performance.

While some fans began to exit the arena after witnessing Lesnar’s victory, there was still one more fight on the card, and it was for the Women’s Bantamweight Championship between Miesha Tate and Amanda Nunes. Just like Hunt vs. Lesnar, this fight saw its share of shifts in placement as the drama of the week played out, but ultimately ended in the top spot. Nunes said before the fight she believed she had all the tools to beat Miesha, and she was certainly correct. The tool of destruction that spelled the beginning of the end for Tate, was a knee that landed flush on the nose, possibly breaking it, but certainly stunning the now-former champion. Nunes wasted little time following up and quickly found herself locking in a rear-naked choke to earn the victory, and the right to be called Champion. Nunes projected herself intro the title fight triangle of Ronda Rousey, Miesha Tate, and Holly Holm, and emerged with the gold. Amanda Nunes is the first openly gay UFC Champion, an accomplishment she said she is very, very proud of.

For an event that had so much uncertainty over the past few days, it was all-in-all a great way to cap off International Fight Week 2016. Yes, the main event wasn’t perhaps what you would expect to carry a card of the highest magnitude, but the preliminary card was one of, if not the best, of all time. If you were to tell me that this three-card week would produce two new champions, a few incredible performances, and intense emotional drama, I’d be very pleased with those results.

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Bellator

Douglas Lima found out about change to co-main event at Bellator 192 from the internet

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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.”

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UFC 219: Cyborg vs Holm recap

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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.

Preliminary cards

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.

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Invicta 27 Officially Announced

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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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