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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*Live Updates* UFC Gdsank Official Results
The UFC hosted their second event in the country of Poland, as UFC Gdsank took place at the Ergo Arena. The card was headlined by a welterweight fight between Donald Cerrone and Darren Till.
Cerrone (32-9) was coming off a close unanimous decision loss to former 170-pound champion Robbie Lawler in July. It was the only time in “Cowboy’s” MMA career that he had suffered consecutive losses.
Till (15-0-1) improved his undefeated record in September, defeating Bojan Veličković by unanimous decision. It was a case of old school vs. new school in this headliner, as the up and comer Till hoped to secure the biggest win of his career over Cerrone.
MAIN CARD – UFC Fight Pass – 8PM BST
- Donald Cerrone (32-9) vs. Darren Till (15-0-1) – Welterweight bout
- Result: Darren Till def. Donald Cerrone via TKO (punches) Round 1 – 4:20
- Karolina Kowalkiewicz (11-2) vs. Jodie Esquibel (6-3) – Women’s strawweight bout
- Result: Karolina Kowalkiewicz def. Jodie Esquibel via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Jan Blachowicz (20-7) vs. Devin Clark (8-2) – Light heavyweight bout
- Result: Jan Błachowicz def. Devin Clark via SUB (rear-naked choke) Round 2 – 3:02
- Oskar Piechota (10-0) vs. Jonathan Wilson (7-3) – Middleweight bout
- Result: Oskar Piechota def. Jonathan Wilson via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
*Watch* Bellator 185 Weigh in: Live Stream, Results
Watch the live weigh-ins for Bellator 185 here.
Gegard Mousasi takes on Alexander Slemenko live this Friday night October 20th at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville CT. This is the first appearance for Mousasi in the Bellator cage as he looks to secure a title shot with a win over the very tough former Bellator champion Slemenko. Joining these men of the main card will be a pair of welterweights as Neiman Gracie from the famous Gracie BJJ family takes on Zak Bucia in the co-main event.
Full Weigh-in Results: (Updated in real time)
Gegard Mousasi (185) vs. Alexander Shlemenko (186)
Neiman Gracie (170.5) vs. Zak Bucia (170)
Heather Hardy (126) vs. Kristina Williams (126)
Ryan Quinn (155.5) vs. Marcus Surin (155)
Ana Julaton (125.5) vs. Lisa Blaine (122)
Jordan Young (200) vs. Alec Hooben (194)
Costello van Steenis (185) vs. Steve Skrzat (186)
Vinicius de Jesus (170) vs. Joaquin Buckley (171)
John Beneduce (154.5) vs. Dean Hancock (155)
Timothy Wheeler (144) vs. Pete Rogers (144)
Don Shainis (150) vs. Matthew Denning (149)
Frank Sforza (149) vs. Vovka Clay (150)
Kevin Carrier (156) vs. Jose Antonio Perez (153)
John Lopez (126) vs. Billy Giovanella (125)
Bellator 185- How to Watch, Times and Fight Card
Bellator is once again heading to Mohegan Sun in Uncasville Connecticut, and this time they are bringing with them one of the most anticipated former UFC fighter turned Bellator stars’ debut. Gegard Mousasi will be making his first appearance in the Bellator cage against a former Bellator champion in Alexander Shlemenko. Although this event has lost some of its star power over the last several weeks, it is still stacked and you can bet that the main event will bring some fireworks.
Earlier in the month, it was announced that King Mo had suffered an injury that had forced him out of his co-main event fight with former middleweight champion Liam McGeary. Bellator worked quickly to secure a replacement opponent for McGeary in Bubba McDaniels. Unfortunately for McDaniels and the fans alike, McGeary had later suffered an injury of his own and the fight was removed from the card.
This left a spot open in the co-main event slot, which would be filled by a welterweight matchup between Brennan Ward and David Rickels. Just four days out from the fight, Bellator announced that Ward had also become injured and the fight has been removed from the card as well. The main card has been shuffled around and the welterweight bout between Neiman Gracie and Zak Bucia will now serve as the co-main event.
Main Card- Spike TV (US/Canada) Spike UK (UK)- 9 pm EDT, 6 pm PDT, 2 pm UK
- Middleweight Main Event: Gegard Mousasi (42-6-2) vs. Alexander Shlemenko (56-9, 1 NC)
- Welterweight Feature Bout: Neiman Gracie (6-0) vs. Zak Bucia (18-8)
- Women’s Flyweight Feature Bout: Heather Hardy (1-0) vs. Kristina Williams (Debut)
- Lightweight Feature Bout: Ryan Quinn (13-7) vs. Marcus Surin (4-0)
- Women’s Flyweight Feature Bout: Ana Julaton (2-2) vs. Lisa Blaine (1-0)
Preliminary Card- Live Stream (MMA Latest New)- 7 pm EDT, 4 pm PDT, 12 pm UK
- 195 lb. Catchweight Preliminary Bout: Jordan Young (6-0) vs. Alec Hooben (5-3)
- Middleweight Preliminary Bout: Costello van Steenis (8-1) vs. Steve Skrzat (8-9)
- Welterweight Preliminary Bout: Vinicius de Jesus (5-1) vs. Joaquin Buckley (7-1)
- Lightweight Preliminary Bout: John Beneduce (2-1) vs. Dean Hancock (2-1)
- Featherweight Preliminary Bout: Timothy Wheeler (1-4) vs. Pete Rogers (2-4)
- 150 lb. Catchweight Preliminary Bout: Don Shainis (3-1) vs. Matthew Denning (5-6)
- 150 lb. Catchweight Preliminary Bout: Frank Sforza (6-0) vs. Vovka Clay (3-2)
- Lightweight Preliminary Bout: Kevin Carrier (Pro Debut) vs. Jose Antonio Perez (Pro Debut)
- Flyweight Preliminary Bout: John Lopez (6-4) vs. Billy Giovanella (9-5)
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