The UFC Championship belt is a very hot commodity and an even harder one to hold on to these days.
Tyron Woodley, having not stepped into the UFC Octagon since January 2015, returned in incredible fashion, wasting little time dethroning one of the toughest fighters in all of the sport, Robbie Lawler. The “ol’ T-Wood bomb” as Lawler would describe it during the post-fight press conference, detonated on the chin of Lawler sending the man who took part in the two prior fight of the year candidates crashing to the canvas. Woodley becoming the new champion marks the seventh contender to walk away as the new champion in 2016, joining Eddie Alvarez, Michael Bisping, Stipe Miocic, Amanda Nunes, Dominick Cruz, and the recently fallen Miesha Tate.
The narratives from most MMA pundits leading into this fight were not in favor of “The Chosen One”. The time away from the cage was a huge concern, along with questions about his gas tank in the later rounds, even questions about his place in line and if he even deserved the shot at the title. After all, Woodley came into the fight ranked fourth and had not completed in eighteen months, while fellow welterweight number one contender Stephen Thompson racked up three big wins during that span, largely coming away unscathed in each of those bouts. Credit must be given to the UFC and Dana White on this one, though; Woodley was promised a title shot after the Johny Hendricks debacle at UFC 192 in Houston and they made good on that promise. It was well worth the wait for American Top Team, Din Thomas, Duke Roufous and many others that helped Woodley get to this crowning moment as he seized the opportunity, proving all doubters wrong.
Shortly after having the belt wrapped around his waist, the flood of post-fight interviews began which is, of course, standard for a new champion. Woodley put on the headset and stood in front of the FS1 camera to talk about his victory and soon would hear Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson, who was on the broadcast panel for the evening, congratulate him on the win and also take the opportunity to issue a challenge for the title on live television. This was the moment we were all waiting for! Surely Woodley would take the bait and simply say something to the extent of, “Let’s do it!” Surely the newly crowned champion would set his sights on the clear number one contender for the Welterweight Championship. Aside from Robbie Lawler being granted an immediate rematch after defending his belt in two of the best fights the sport has ever seen, no other matchup makes sense, right? Not only would Woodley do the unthinkable and shut down Thompson’s request for a shot at the strap, he would go on to name an even more unlikely opponent: Nick Diaz. Huh? Did he mean the infamous bad boy from Stockton who is serving the final days on his suspension from the Nevada State Atheltic Commission? The Nick Diaz who lost his last three fights (although the one against Anderson Silva has since been overturned to a no-contest)? The same Nick Diaz who has not seen his hand raised inside the Octagon since 2011? Yes, the Nick Diaz who isn’t found on anyone’s Top 15 rankings received the new champion’s first call out. Tyron Woodley completely shocked the mixed martial arts world twice in one night.
Tyron’s reasoning for making the bizarre call out would become clear soon after, citing wishes for “big money” fights and also perhaps making Stephen Thompson pay for his statements prior to UFC 201. Thompson would be heard in many interviews leading up to this title fight saying that he wanted Robbie Lawler to win because he preferred that challenge over fighting against Woodley. Tyron seemingly took that as a slight at his fighting style and his chances of winning the belt and immediately threw it back in the face of Thompson at the first opportunity by stating, “You said you wanted to fight Robbie Lawler and now you get the opportunity to fight Robbie Lawler!” In the ultimate flex of new-found championship power, Woodley completely dismissed the only man deserving of a title shot from a sporting perspective.
But, as we know, everything in this sport isn’t about the best “sporting” move. A lot of the fight game is entertainment value and what generates the most money. This will be reiterated once UFC 204’s main event becomes official. This is also why a purely-for-entertainment-value matchup is headlining UFC 202 in August. Money is the motivation for a lot of things that occur in the MMA world and sometimes as fans, reporters, and analysts we have to check our sporting baggage at the gate before hopping on the crazy entertainment plane. In this instance, Woodley believes a fight with Nick Diaz at UFC 202, which would put both Diaz brothers on the same card, would be very beneficial to him financially. He’s certainly not wrong from that standpoint. Aside from the pipe dream of having Nate and Nick share the main and co-main event of UFC 209, an all-Diaz UFC 202 along with a certain Irishman would do insane numbers. “The Chosen One” is choosing the money fights and you certainly cannot fault Woodley for wanting to cash in now that he has the strap around his waist, but surely this can be done without devaluing the prestige of the title? It’s hard to imagine that a guy on a seven-fight win streak, who is very marketable in his own right, could be passed over for a guy who is 0-3 since 2011 to get a crack at the title. This sport is crazy, but that’s insane.
The women’s strawweight contender picture become a little clearer as well on Saturday evening, as Karolina Kowalkiewicz walked away with a split decision nod over Rose Namajunas. This potentially sets up an exciting all-Polish showdown in what would be the letter-for-letter hardest billing to spell (and pronounce) in the history of the sport: Jedrzejczyk vs. Kowalkiewicz. Both ladies do not shy away from the action when things get heated in the Octagon and also seem to get better as a fight goes into later rounds, which sets the stage for an epic five-round championship bout. Kowalkiewicz weathered the early storm of Namajunas who took the first round on the scorecards but closed out the bout strong with impressive striking from the clinch. Her knees to the body completely changed the outlook of the fight midway through the second round. Not only were the knees significant, Karolina’s ability to keep Rose in the clinch to continuously land strikes was superb.
While taking away nothing from Kowalkiewicz’ performance inside the cage on Saturday evening, the question must be asked of Namajunas’ camp about their decision to not have her fiance Pat Barry in her corner. Barry’s intensity and emotion are always on full display when Namajunas competes. They make a great team and it’s become a package of sorts on fight week. We’ve become accustomed to Barry playing the role of hype man, and yet that fire and passion was missing from the sidelines on the evening which could have affected Rose’s ability to give that extra push in the final round. There is no way to know for sure if his presence would have changed the outcome of the bout, however, if the move was made because it was believed to have a positive effect on Rose’s performance, as the old saying goes, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
Atlanta was treated to a great night of fights for UFC 201 with some incredible finishes. Damien Brown started the party early in the first bout of the evening with a devastating knockout of Cesar Arzamendia. Wilson Reis certainly proved why he was originally scheduled to face Demetrious Johnson for the title as he dispatched Hector Sandoval with a quick rear-naked choke in the first round. A freight train ran through the Octagon during the FS2 Prelims too when Anthony Hamilton obliterated Damian Grabowski in just fifteen seconds. If the performance on the final televised prelims actually has any influence on whether or not someone will pull the trigger on ordering the Pay Per View at the last minute, Nikita Krylov’s head kick knockout of Ed Herman perhaps caused a few people to hop off the fence and shell out for the main card. Those that made the move would be treated to another vicious kick, this one coming from Jake Ellenberger that completely folded Matt Brown in the first round.
Aside from a few duds, the card’s six finishes should have made even the stingiest of MMA critics happy. Now, the UFC sets their sights on Salt Lake City for a stage that is set for one of the sport’s brightest prospects to showcase his skills, Yair Rodriguez. Maybe by August 6, we’ll know if the welterweight division steers towards sport or spectacle.
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5 Things We Learned from UFC on Fox 26: Lawler vs Dos Anjos
The UFC’s return to Winnipeg in over 4 years certainly did not disappoint the fans, as the card delivered just as it was expected with plenty of action packed fights.
Upset was in play often times for this card as on more than one occasion, the fans’ jaws dropped in shock and the predictions going into the fights were completely defied.
There are plenty of things to take away from this card, but what were the 5 biggest lessons learned here?
1. Rafael dos Anjos means business at welterweight
While Vegas odds may not have reflected it, dos Anjos had plenty of doubters coming into this fight on whether he could beat the top fighters in the welterweight division, his new found home. I’ll be the first to say, I didn’t think he’d be able to deal with Lawler’s power and size, considering that ‘Ruthless’ used to compete at middleweight, but he completely changed my perspective on what he brings to this division.
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With the mix of powerful leg kicks and crisp boxing, dos Anjos completely neutralized the former welterweight champion and took home a dominant victory, winning all five rounds of the fight.
Yes, Lawler was injured and barely moved for the last three rounds, but that should not discredit the masterful performance that dos Anjos had tonight. This only sets up a fight with the current champion Tyron Woodley now (unless Colby Covington gets it), and while Woodley is a whole different match up, it makes for an entertaining fight.
2. Robbie Lawler is still one of the toughest fighters on the roster
Despite both his legs looking like they were completely destroyed by the third round and him losing the fight, we once again saw the toughness and grit of Lawler to never give up.
While we don’t know how bad his injury was, when you see Lawler not moving much and standing still for three rounds straight, you know something is seriously hurting. He endured an unbelievable amount of punishment tonight but at the end was still standing pumping up the crowd. What a warrior.
3. Josh Emmett… the new force to be reckoned with at 145lbs?
Simply no words. It was easily the biggest shocker of the night and maybe even upset of the year. Stepping in on relatively short notice for Jose Aldo, Emmett was counted out in this fight on paper against the former title challenger Ricardo Lamas, and weighing in at 148.5lbs on the scale didn’t help convincing the fans.
But it definitely didn’t matter as he delivered a left hook from hell, sleeping Lamas at the end of the first round, sending a shock to the entire division and rising as a new threat to everyone in top 10. He said that his goal here was to shock the world, and shock the world he did. With this performance, Emmett immediately rises to a position where he now only needs one or two more significant wins from a possible title shot.
4. Mike Perry needs some time to develop into a title contender
Despite showing an unbelievable toughness in a three-round war against Santiago Ponzinibbio, Perry was unable to back up his words before the fight, losing via unanimous decision.
In a fight against a very tough opponent, Perry was once again exposed in a couple of areas as he was against Alan Jouban on his endurance, as he showed signs of fatigue as the second round came around. At the age of 26, he still has plenty of time, but Perry will need to fill that massive hole in order to continue to rise the ladder in the extremely stacked welterweight division, or else he’ll run into some trouble sooner or later.
5. Glover Teixeira isn’t done just yet
This fight was an excellent example of advantages a veteran brings compared to a young and upcoming fighter. Teixeira, coming off that tough loss in Sweden against Alexander Gustafsson, was also doubted by many as he came in as the underdog against a rising prospect in Misha Cirkunov.
Teixeira was put in immediate trouble in the first round, getting tagged by Cirkunov multiple times and getting backed up against the cage, but was able to outsmart Cirkunov by dragging him down to the ground and eventually pounding him out. Teixeira seemed to have lost all momentum against Anthony Johnson, and even more so against Gustafsson, but this fight proved that he is not done just yet, and showed the difference in level between the top 5 and top 10 of the division.
*Live Updates* UFC Winnipeg Official Results
The UFC returns to Canada for the final Fight Night card of 2017. In the cold of Winnipeg, Manitoba, the UFC will host eleven of the originally twelve scheduled fights. Unfortunately, Tim Elliot will not fight in the north country. His scheduled opponent, Pietro Menga, a newcomer to the promotions roster, failed to make weight after taking the bout with just over a weeks notice.
An exciting main card will be capped off with a potential contender eliminator bout featuring, Robbie Lawler and Rafael Dos Anjos. The former champions (Lawler at welterweight, Dos Anjos at lightweight) both put together impressive win streaks which dispatched top contenders in their respective divisions. Elsewhere on the main card, Santiago Ponzinibbio takes on the outspoken Mike Perry.
The card begins on UFC Fight Pass at 4:30/1:30 ETPT.
UFC Winnipeg Official Results:
MAIN CARD – FOX – 8PM/5PM ETPT
- #2 Robbie Lawler (28-11) vs. #4 Rafael Dos Anjos (27-9) – Welterweight bout
- Result: Rafael Dos Anjos def. Robbie Lawler via unanimous decision (50-45, 50-45, 50-45)
- #3 Ricardo Lamas (18-5) vs. Josh Emmett (12-1) – Catchweight bout (148.5 lbs)
- Result: Josh Emmett def. Ricardo Lamas via KO (punch) 4:33 round 1
- #10 Santiago Ponzinibbio (25-3) vs. Mike Perry (11-1) – Welterweight bout
- Result: Santiago Ponzinibbio def. Mike Perry via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
- #3 Glover Teixeira (26-6) vs. #7 Misha Cirkunov (13-3) – Light Heavyweight bout
- Result: Glover Teixeira def. Misha Cirkunov via TKO (punches) 2:45 round 1
PRELIMINARY CARD – FS1 – 5PM/2PM ETPT
- #14 Jared Cannonier (10-2) vs #15 Jan Blachowicz (20-7) – Light Heavyweight bout
- Result: Jan Blachowicz def. Jared Cannonier via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
- Julian Marquez (6-1) vs. Darren Stewart (7-2) – Middleweight bout
- Result: Julian Marquez def. Darren Stewart via submission (standing guillotine) 2:42 round 2
- Chad Laprise (13-2) vs. Galore Bofando (5-2) – Welterweight bout
- Result: Chad Laprise def. Galore Bofando via TKO (punches) 4:10 round 1
- Nordine Taleb (13-4) vs Danny Roberts (14-2) – Welterweight bout
- Result: Nordine Taleb def. Danny Roberts via KO (head kick and punch) :59 round 1
- John Makdessi (14-6) vs Abel Trujillo (15-7) – Lightweight bout
- Result: John Makdessi def. Abel Trujillo via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Alessio Di Chirico (10-2) vs Oluwale Bamgbose (6-3) – Middleweight bout
- Result: Alessio Di Chirico def. Oluwale Bamgbose via KO (knee) 2:14 round 2
EARLY PRELIMINARY CARD – UFC FIGHT PASS – 4:30PM/1:30PM ETPT
- Jordan Mein (29-12) vs. Erick Silva (19-8) – Welterweight bout
- Result: Jordan Mein def. Erick Silva via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-27, 30-26)
Ladies Fight Night 7: “Double Trouble” Preview
Polish women’s federation Ladies Fight Night is going to celebrate their second birthday this year on the 15th to 17th of December. Two days, two events with a lot of great bouts.
LFN in Poland is being titled the new Invicta FC. The Polish owners created this federation to give European women a chance to fight on a big platform.
Hosting their first ever event in December 2015, LFN will hold two great cards next week, that will feature women who have fought under many prestigious promotions, such as the UFC, Invicta, Bellator, Glory, and Kunlun.
Two days of fantastic fights, intensified by a double dose of sports impressions. The name is not accidental, LFN 7 / LFN 8 combines two events, during which the best Polish fighters will be shown, as well as the best fighters from Europe (including France, Sweden, Italy, the Czech Republic and Romania)
The stakes are high, and we are electrified by the clashes between warriors such as Żaneta Cieśla vs Silvia La Notte and Patricia Axling vs. Cindy Silvestri. Mainly due to their vastness of their experience in the cage.
In the fight of the evening, the talented Romanian Cristina Stanciu will face Magdaléna Šormovádo. Stanciu fought twice in the UFC, but she was unfortunately cut from the promotion after suffering consecutive losses to Cortney Casey and Maryna Moroz.
Judyta Rymarzak vs Marta Waliczek is an amazing fight between two experienced kickboxers. Both making their pro MMA debuts on the night, we will witness a one-of-a-kind duel between two kickboxing perfectionists, as they look to transcend their skills into the MMA world.
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