Move over UFC 200. The king is back and his ability to put on an incredible show is unparalleled. UFC 202 was everything we hoped UFC 200 would be as the feel of a blockbuster event was very apparent.
Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz put on an all-time classic fight on Saturday evening at the T-Mobile Arena in front of a packed house of Team Diaz supporters and a large contingent of Irish fans who made the trip across the globe to represent for their country’s hero. McGregor walked out of the cage bruised, battered, and limping heavily due to a damaged shin, but most importantly, walked out with his hand raised in victory. The back and forth war took its toll on both men. Nate Diaz’ face transformed into a crimson mask due to multiple cuts over the course of the bout, but largely escaped with only cosmetic damage.
Coming into fight week, the momentum was clearly in favor of the Stockton native. Not only did Nate win the first bout, it appeared he found a way to crack McGregor mentally. For the first time during in his UFC run, Conor was not in the driver’s seat when it came to mind games during fight week. The antics began on Wednesday afternoon at the press conference when water bottles made front page headlines. Go back to Nate’s post-fight interview after his win over Michael Johnson; he wasn’t going to be one of those clowns that was punked at a press conference.
Conor showed up late as usual, which prompted Diaz to show he wasn’t a fan of the Irishman’s timekeeping. Middle fingers, expletives, water bottles and Monster cans began flying around the theater creating an epic what-the-hell-just-happened moment. What was otherwise a dull press conference, quickly escalated into an infamous event. Sh*t just got real.
The UFC would never want to promote an event in such a manner for many reasons, yet due to that press conference, the world became engrossed in the fight. Borrowing lines from Tupac the next day, Conor made it very clear after his open workout the following day that the battle lines were drawn: “F*** Team Diaz! And if you’re down with Team Diaz, then f*** you too!” He seemed a bit too emotional. Perhaps Diaz was indeed in Conor’s head.
Coming into the week, it was believed Conor would come out with a much more calculated gameplan. Realizing he couldn’t KO Diaz with his best shot in their first encounter, another approach was necessary. But after Thursday, the tides changed. If Nate truly got under Conor’s skin, that gameplan may have very well been thrown by the wayside. When fighters get emotional, bad things can happen. See UFC 194 after thirteen seconds.
Ultimately, Conor proved he could not be cracked. Making the walk to the cage with a laser-focused glare, he was all business on the night it all mattered. What transpired will go down as one of the best fights in the history of the sport, yet since the judges were needed to officially declare a winner, the majority decision was controversial.
It all comes down to how you score the second round of the fight. Conor dropped Nate from punches twice in the first half of the round, winning four of the five minutes. Then Diaz rallied back hard. As the bell sounded, Conor’s back was against the cage, having just absorbed a vicious flurry of strikes could have led to a stoppage if more time was remaining in the round. Four out of the five minutes plus two knockdowns outweighs a one-minute blitz in this instance, and the round should have been scored in the favor of McGregor, despite being worse for wear at the end of the frame.
Rounds one, two and four were McGregor’s, your winner of the rematch, setting up a trilogy that both fighters would be keen on during their post-fight scrums. Both stated they would want the fight at 155 pounds though, because they both complained about not having six-pack abs. Who knew those warriors could be so vain?
The fireworks on Saturday evening began way before the main event. If you’re not a fan of Anthony “Rumble” Johnson after his thirteen-second scorching of Glover Teixeira in the co-main event, you must hate incredibly vicious and powerful strikers who are extremely humble in victory or defeat. “Humble Rumble” as coined by Ariel Helwani during the post-fight scrum is accurate. Give us Daniel Cormier versus Rumble for the title in New York at UFC 205.
Going back a fight prior, the legend of Donald Cerrone at 170 pounds continues. Cowboy unleashed a ridiculous combo that was reminiscent of something out of Killer Instinct to finish Rick Story in the first round. While Cerrone looks like a different beast at the higher weight class, it seems he will be searching for another crack at the title back in the lightweight division against Eddie Alvarez, a man he already holds a victory over on his record.
UFC 202 didn’t have the individual name power as UFC 200, but it made up for that with incredible finishes throughout the card. A fantastic job was done by the production team to immediately hype Cody Garbrandt versus Dominick Cruz on the spot. The same goes for instantly building steam for Anthony Johnson’s rematch against Daniel Cormier. Those are two title fights that will be absolutely nuts. Before we get to those, the next strap on the line is in the big boy divison at UFC 203. Big fight after big fight keeps this sport growing at an incredible rate. What a time to be a part of it.
Felice Herrig vs. Karolina Kowalkiewicz in the works for UFC 223
UFC 223 looks to add a variety of intriguing bouts. With Paul Felder vs. Al Iaquinta reportedly set for the unannounced UFC 223 card, the promotion looks to add a high stakes female flyweight match-up. According to MMANYTT.com, sources confirmed a bout between Felice Herrig and Karolina Kowalkiewicz, is in the works for the pay-per-view card.
Assuming the match-up does come to be, both women have much to gain from a victory. For Herrig, she currently sits on a four-fight win streak. A streak in which the strawweight contender defeated Kailin Curran, Alexa Grasso, Justine Kish, and Cortney Casey. The MMA veteran, Herrig, began fighting professionally in 2009. As of late, her issues with the marketing machine that is the UFC have intensified.
After demonstrating her technical prowess over Justine Kish at UFC Fight Night 122: Chiesa vs. Lee, Herrig put her emotions on display. She stated at the post-fight media scrum, “Sometimes, I feel like, I’m not young and beautiful enough for the UFC to want to promote me. And it’s sad because I’ve really worked so hard to be here and it’s hard to see these people who’ve not been through what I’ve been through. Who just got into the UFC at the right time. They’re getting all these opportunities and I see how hard I work to get here and it’s just like, it doesn’t matter. I just feel like, ‘I’m not pretty enough and I’m not getting any younger'”.
A frustrated Felice Herrig then spoke to MMAJunkie.com in December. She claimed, “Aside from (former UFC women’s strawweight champ) Joanna (Jedrzejczyk), I’m the only strawweight who’s gone on a four-fight winning streak. That’s a fact. At this point, I want to fight someone in the top 10. It doesn’t really make sense for me to keep fighting girls that are ranked below me. That’s the whole point. If I want to keep working my way up. I fight the most dangerous girls outside the top 10”. The #9 ranked women’s flyweight has a point. In her UFC career, she recorded one loss in six appearances. Yet, she has one co-main event booking, while fighters like Michelle Waterson, booked the main event in her second UFC bout. In Waterson’s third bout, she received a co-main event scheduling. Understandably, Felice Herrig is upset with her situation.
Later in her interview, Herrig brought up Kowalkiewicz as a potential next opponent. “For whatever reason, I really want to fight Karolina. I just think that would be an exciting fight… Stylistically, I really like that fight. She’s ranked above (me), and it may be a good gauge for me,” she stated. Right now, it looks like Herrig is close to getting what she wants.
Kowalkiewicz last fought in her native country of Poland on the UFC Fight Pass card, UFC Fight Night 118: Cowboy vs. Till, in October. The Polish star defeated Jody Esquibel, after losing consecutive contests to former UFC female strawweight champion, Joanna Jedrzejcyk and Claudia Gadelha, respectively.
A win for either makes a good case for the next or an eventual title challenger. Kowalkiewicz holds a victory over current division champion, Rose Namajunas. While a win for Herrig would further establish her impressive win streak and undoubtedly give her the boost in the rankings she deserves.
Douglas Lima found out about change to co-main event at Bellator 192 from the internet
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.”
Al Iaquinta vs. Paul Felder rescheduled for UFC 223 in April
MMA fans around the world wept in deep sorrow when Al Iaquinta withdrew from a bout scheduled for UFC 218 against Paul Felder. Weep no more, for Paul Felder faces Al Iaquinta at UFC 223. Rumblings behind the match-up, first reported by FloCombat.com, came Sunday night before MMAFighting.com confirmed the bout scheduled for unannounced pay-per-view card, later in the evening.
The original bout fell through due to a severe knee injury to Iaquinta. He spoke to BJ Penn Radio about the injury nearly a week before the December 2nd, PPV event in Detriot. The Long Island real estate agent claimed, “I tore my PCL and my MCL maybe three or four months ago… for me to really put in a full training camp and do what I need to do, I would’ve had to just focus on fighting and physical therapy… it was the kind of thing where all roads led to me not kind of taking a risk and fighting on December 2nd”.
Iaquinta went on to say, “I kind of accepted the fight, but I never signed a bout agreement… I was kind of told I had to give them an answer pretty quick. It was a fight I thought I really wanted. I thought it was a good stylistic match-up for me, so I accepted the fight, and then thinking about it over the course of a day, we realized it probably wasn’t a smart decision for my health, for everything”.
An outspoken lightweight, he is not the first of his kind. Al Iaquinta is no stranger to idly waiting on the sideline for the UFC to make a move. Contract disputes and other bad strokes of luck left the Serra-Longo with three octagon appearances since 2015. The feud between Iaquinta and the promotion comes as a surprise when looking at the credentials of the aforementioned fighter. With an octagon record of 8-2, he earned notoriety as one of the best lightweights in the world. During his time in the UFC, he defeated Kevin Lee, Ross Pearson, Joe Lauzon, Jorge Masvidal, and most recently Diego Sanchez.
His opponent, “The Irish Dragon”, Paul Felder, holds an impressive UFC record of his own. At 7-3, Felder defeated tough competition as well. His record notes wins over Daron Cruickshank, Jason Saggo, Stevie Ray, and Charles Oliveira. Even more impressive than his record, his knockout ratio. At this stage of his career, Felder knockouts 55% of his opponents (10 knockouts in 18 career pro bouts).
Like his opponent Iaquinta, Paul Felder has a separate career outside of fighting. As many should notice, Felder found a role as a color commentator with the promotion he fights for. Following the footsteps in a long line of fighters before him, Felder announced multiple events alongside another new addition to the UFC broadcast team, Brendan Fitzgerald.
PPV card, UFC 223 and its location are not official yet. Despite a lack of an announcement, the event takes place in Brooklyn, New York at the Barclays Centre, according to multiple reports. Currently, the card features no official bouts. Reports state Felice Herrig vs. Karolina Kowalkiewicz (per Jim Edwards), and Evan Dunham vs. Mairbek Taisumov (per Farah Hannoun) are both in the works for UFC 223.
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