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The Morning After UFC 206

Matthew Wells

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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.

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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…

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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.

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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

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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.

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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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Events

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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