In the UFC’s first trip back to Toronto since UFC 165: Jones vs. Gustafsson in September 2013, the Canadian fans were expecting another gem of a fight card with UFC 206 on Saturday evening. There were a number of bumps in the road before this card began, which caused many fans to question the likelihood that the event would produce memorable fights. However, for those that tuned in, and even more for those fans in attendance at the sold-out Air Canda Centre, UFC 206 was home to some of the most memorable moments of the year.
Daniel Cormier suffered a groin injury just weeks away from the scheduled championship matchup against Anthony “Rumble” Johnson, which caused the scheduled main event to fall off and left the UFC scrambling for a way to keep interest high for its first Pay-Per-View since the historic UFC 205 at Madison Square Garden. The original co-main event between Anthony Pettis and Max Holloway was elevated to main event status, which for true fans of the sport, is a hell of a matchup, but perhaps not one that could carry a Pay-Per-View. That is, unless you make it a title fight of some sort, which is exactly what the UFC did to appeal to the casual fan. After stripping Conor McGregor of his title and promoting then-interim champ Jose Aldo to undisputed, the promotion billed the new main event as an interim title matchup with a promise of a shot at Jose Aldo for the winner. For some, stripping McGregor of his belt in order to salvage PPV buys was a little off-base. Even if you thought McGregor was never fighting at 145 again, the double-champ was only able to sport dual belts for two weeks before “the army” came to take one away. Like it or not, it created a conversation about the new main event at UFC 206, and ultimately, that was the goal.
Then…Anthony Pettis missed weight by three pounds.
For the former UFC Lightweight Champion who was seeking his second win at featherweight to continue his career resurgence after losing three fights in a row at 155, missing weight in this spot was a huge disappointment for everyone. Not only would Pettis lose 20% of his purse, he would also be ineligible to become the interim champ if he were to win on Saturday night, which would have created all sorts of chaos. What would happen to the interim belt? If Pettis wins, does he still face Aldo next? What if he beats Holloway, and then tells Joe Rogan in the cage he can’t make 145 and will be returning to the lightweight division? Well, the second portion of the previous question was exactly what happened after the main event on Saturday, although, “Showtime” did not emerge victorious over the “Blessed” one. Not only did Max Holloway beat Anthony Pettis, he stopped him. It was the first time Pettis has ever been stopped throughout his incredible career. The featherweight title crisis was averted, and Max Holloway took home a new gold belt to match his gold tie. The hashtag “WheresJoseWaldo” was born.
A kick to the dome took a bonus home…
Flashback to July 13, 2016. Tony “El Cucuy” Ferguson needed a dancing partner once Mike Chiesa was forced to pull out of their matchup due to a back injury. Enter undefeated Jackson-Wink product, Lando Vannata. Ferguson has cruising through the lightweight division with relative ease. All of a sudden, a short notice replacement shocked the world with his performance, and everyone came to understand why Vannata was called in to take the fight against a fighter on the verge of a title shot. Although he lost the bout, Lando displayed incredible heart and striking ability, seemingly pushing Ferguson to his limits. In his second Octagon appearance, a lot of attention was on Vannata to prove that his initial showing was not a fluke. With his big smile and ultra-relaxed attitude, “Groovy” put the world on notice once again in the Fight Pass feature bout against John Makdessi. Lando landed a self-taught spinning heel kick to the jaw of Makdessi which sent him crashing to the canvas. Remember Edson Barboza’s wheel kick to Terry Etim? How Makdessi locked up and timbered over, was similar to that. What made it even more interesting is after the fight, Vannata said when Edson landed that kick in 2012, he couldn’t throw any spinning attacks, much less a perfect spinning heel kick. Hours and hours of repetition in the gym working on the technique paid off on Saturday as he took home a $50,000 bonus for the hostilities.
…but for another, no love was shown.
Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone landed a vicious head kick of his own to end the fight against Matt Brown in the co-main event, yet surprisingly to some, did not earn a bonus. Brown attempted to get in Cerrone’s head all week long by attempting to create tension, yet that didn’t stop Cerrone from landing a head kick from hell in the third round of their war. If you consider all of the incredible moments on the card, it was inevitable that someone would be snubbed on the extra paycheck, but that did not stop the internet from creating their own conspiracy theories. Cerrone is on the board of the Mixed Martial Arts Athletes Association (MMAAA), the latest fighter movement towards a union for fighters, which was a move that did not sit well with UFC boss Dana White. Throughout fight week, Cerrone said he would have a sit down with Dana to discuss things and talk things out like friends. During the post-fight presser, Cerrone said everything between him and Dana were ironed out and they now see eye-to-eye. However, that didn’t stop some people from believing Cerrone was bonus-snubbed due to his involvement with the MMAAA.
The People’s Main Event was Fight of the Year
In a matchup between two fan favorite fighters that could easily headline a smaller UFC event, Cub Swanson was set to face against Korean sensation, Dooho Choi on the main card of UFC 206. The fight was highly anticipated by fans and fighters alike because both men bring incredibly exciting styles to the cage. We know what Cub Swanson can do against the top competition in the featherweight division. He’s been in wars throughout his career that garnered his loyal following. Choi, on the other hand, while destroying everyone up to this point in his career was still unproven against the top tier at 145. Both men left everything they had inside the cage over the course of three rounds in what was an incredible back and forth battle. Swanson’s unorthodox striking created openings that Choi simply wasn’t ready for. To his credit, his iron chin and heart wouldn’t allow him to fall early. As a result, “Superboy” found home for his own powerful strikes that nearly spelled the end of the fight a handful of times over fifteen minutes. Bombs, lasers, haymakers, and whatever other metaphor you would like to use were landed repeatedly, ultimately resulting in fireworks for the fans. Cub Swanson would win the day on the judges’ scorecards, but there was no loser in this bout as both fighter’s stock rose in this lock for Fight of the Year.
There were a lot of people sleeping on UFC 206, citing a lack of a true Pay-Per-View main event. Yes, the new main event was manufactured in a frenzy to save face, those people missed out on one of the most incredible events of the year. To say that in December, on a year that was home to UFC 198, UFC 200, UFC 205, UFC 206, and others, is saying a lot. No, it wasn’t the McGregor show, but all competitors involved proved why you should tune in to these events. The incredible atmosphere created by the Canadian fans cheering on their country’s own fighters made it extra special. It will be tough to top this event before the year is over, but the “Rowdy” one will make her return on December 30 to close the book on 2016. Who knows what kind of excitement could be in store over the next couple of weeks. Stay tuned.
UFC Announces Liverpool Event, Darren Till Main Event
Scousers are drowning in celebration this evening. Earlier today, UFC officials announced the addition of a Liverpool show to their 2018 event calendar. Liverpool’s, Echo Arena, plays host for the event, which takes place on May 27th.
Liverpool’s own, Darren Till made the announcement this afternoon with Dan Hardy at the UFC Fight Night: Werdum vs. Volkov, ceremonial weigh-in. When asked by Hardy what it means to have the UFC in Liverpool, he had this to day, “Words can’t describe it. It doesn’t do it justice, words. So, it’s coming and I’m going to be the first Scousers to ever have done it. In 200 years they’re going to remember my name in combat sports in Liverpool. I’m gonna take someones chin off in Liverpool, that’s what’s happening”.
He was also quoted in an release from the promotion saying, “I can’t believe UFC is finally coming to Liverpool and I’m going to be headlining Echo Arena. My name is going to be remembered in 200 years time for being part of this historical event and I can’t even describe how much that means to me”. Till will headline the card, his opponent is yet to be announced.
In the official release, it quotes David Shaw, Senior Vice President International and Content, claiming, “The stars really aligned for the Octagon to touch down in Liverpool. We have seen such phenomenal demand from fans in the region for a live event. Pair that with having such a rising, local star in Darren Till it made absolute sense to bring our first live event to this historical combat sports city in 2018”.
UFC Liverpool lands on a date speculated for a different venue, in a different country. Reports swirled last month, specifically one from MMAFighting.com, which claimed the May 27th date belonged to the UFCs return to Dublin. A return to Dublin doesn’t seem to fall completely out of the realm of possibility. For now, it remains to be seen.
The UFC also announced two bouts, both in the Middleweight division, booked for the event. Elias Therodorou takes on Trevor Smith, and Daniel Kelly goes up against England’s Tom Breese.
Rhode Island Prospect John Douma Booked for CES 49 against Zach Burhans
The New England regional MMA scene has been fairly quiet this month. Such a description won’t be apt one month from now. As the days fade away from the month of March, the two most prominent organizations of this region gear up for early April events. The CES MMA promotion holds CES 49, on the first Friday of April (April 6th). CES 49 takes place in its hub venue, Twin River Casino, in Lincoln, Rhode Island.
Yesterday, CES officials announced John Douma, a highly regarded pro featherweight prospect, makes his third appearance for the MMA promotion, when he faces Zach Burhans at CES 49.
For John Douma, he looks to continue his career with an undefeated record. At 2-0, Douma owns two stoppage victories, both coming in the first round (1 KO/TKO, 1 Sub). Born and raised in Wyckoff, Rhode Island, Douma is the New England regions 18th ranked pro Featherweight (Rankings by Tapology.com). A lofty ranking for a 21-year-old with only two professional fights on his record. Especially so in the regions most prominent professional division.
Zach Burhans comes into next months match with a similar amount of experience. Burhans has four professional fights in his arsenal of experience with a record of 3-1. Twice that of his opponent, but two times a small number is still a small number. The New York fighter makes his promotional debut at next months CES 49.
Surprisingly, Burhans has not fought since his last loss, which came in March of 2011. The loss was the first of his four fight pro career. It also was the first fight for Burhans since August of 2009. At CES 49, he ends his second hiatus from professional mixed martial arts. His second and most recent break from the sport was his longest. Burhans did not compete from March 2011, until next months CES MMA card. Making the span between his most recent and upcoming, around 6 years and nine months.
CES 49 takes place at Twin River Casino in Lincoln, Rhode Island on April 6th. Other bouts featured on the card include, #1 ranked New England Lightweight, Nate Andrews takes on Chris Padilla for the promotions vacant Lightweight title. Kaline Medeiros attempts to bounce back following her 3rd round submission loss to rising star, Mackenzie Dern at Invicta 26, when she faces 11th ranked pound-for-pound New England women’s fighter, Jenna Serio. Also, Chris Curtis goes up against Jason Norwood in a main card Welterweight clash.
Report: Bellator plans Rome event for July
With the news of Bellator 200, turning a bit stale being nearly a week old, comes more international event news for the promotion. According to a report by Raphael Marinho of Combate, Bellator scheduled its third international event of 2018. In the report, it states the promotion booked July 14th as a date for a Rome, Italy event.
It will be the first event held by Bellator in the historic city of Rome, Italy. The first in Rome, but the fifth Bellator event in Italy. Previously, the promotion made stops in Torino and Florence, Italy, holding two events in each location. It also marks the 23rd international held by Bellator. 23 events across 10 cities, and 5 countries.
The previous four Italian events held a mixture of combat sports. Each of the events had a Kickboxing card, serving as the main event and an MMA card, which acted as a main card. News of an accompanying Kickboxing card, most likely, would come following a formal announcement of the event.
Also included in the report, the promotion is working to make Alessio Sakara the headliner of evening. Sakara spent nine years with the UFC (Oct. 2005 – Oct. 2013). Over that span, he earned a record of 6-8. He was cut following four consecutive loses. Before signing with Bellator, Sakara signed with Final Fight Championship, where he went 1-0, 1 NC. His final fight with FFC (Final Fight Championship) was a 1:32 KO of his opponent.
The Italian athlete, Sakara, fought on three of the four previous Italy held Bellator events. Sakara headlined Bellator 190 & 168, while begin the co-main event for Bellator 152. Interestingly, the Middleweights only Bellator competition took place in his home country of Italy. He is 2-1 with the promotion, defeating Brian Rogers and Joey Beltran, respectively, while losing to Middleweight champion, Rafael Carvalho, most recently.
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