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The Morning After UFC Fight Night Chicago

Matthew Wells

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What was once an iron clad trio of Ronda Rousey, Miesha Tate, and Holly Holm perched on top of the women’s bantamweight division, after Valentina Shevchenko’s performance in Chicago, and of course the new Champ in Amanda Nunes, we have parity.

Holly Holm has been the fighter who stays tight with quick in and out combinations, comes in with a solid game plan, and utilizes efficient movement. While she was largely these things on Saturday evening, something was off.

Perhaps facing an opponent in Valentina who refused to over-commit on anything exposed something about Holly’s game. The fight against Ronda was a textbook example of how to handle a fighter who did exactly what Shevchenko didn’t do. Credit that to Valentina’s extensive kickboxing and Muay Thai background. She forced Holm to go first over the course of five rounds while staying compact in her movements and blasted Holm with counter strikes time and time again.

With Holm’s loss, what happens with the division now that all three of the aforementioned trio are out of the immediate title picture?

Allow me to play UFC matchmaker for a moment, and step into Joe Silva and Sean Shelby’s shoes. The division sets up perfectly for a winner vs winner, winner vs loser, and loser vs loser matchups at the top. The next title shot should go to Julianna Pena. She’s undefeated in the UFC and after winning at UFC 200 deserves a crack at the belt against the newly crowned champ who fought on the same night. To truly establish her place at the top of the division, Valentina Shevchenko taking on the former champion, Miesha Tate is a cracking matchup. Lastly, the “get back on track” fight would be a matchup between Holly Holm and Cat Zingano. The only issue with this matchup is the loser would walk away with three losses in a row…yikes. Of course, there is the wild card in Ronda Rousey, who, if and when she decides to say “I back,” throws a wrench into all of the previous matchups as she has been promised a title shot upon her return.

Moving on, the co-main event of the evening featured two of the most exciting fighters in the sport.

No, I was not on the receiving end of Edson Barboza’s insanely vicious leg kicks like Gilbert Melendez was last night, but I know that pain. Certainly not on the same level, as Barboza is clearly the best in the world at the technique, but having trained for this sport in the not-too-distant past, receiving leg kicks is a very memorable experience. If someone offered you a large sum of money to take a full power leg kick from Edson, I’d strongly advise against accepting that challenge. You don’t need that in your life.

Plain and simple, Edson Barboza will chop your legs out from under you. If you’re building the prototype of the perfect MMA fighter, Barboza’s leg kicks are a must. He literally kicked Melendez off of his feet multiple times during the fight. Midway through the second round, Gilbert Melendez was praying to make it out of the fight on two legs. The bout started off with Fight of the Night written all over it, but as combination after combination culminated with a hard leg kick to the left lead leg of Melendez, the furiously contested battle from the first round morphed into a story of survival in the third round. With his best poker face still on display, Melendez favored his left leg while attempting to find a hail-Mary knockout blow in the final frame to avoid a loss by way of the judges. One thing is for certain, you can’t question the toughness of Gilbert Melendez.

After two 30-27s and a 29-28 variety on the score cards, Edson Barboza finds himself at the top of the crowded lightweight division, potentially setting up a matchup against now-former Champion, Rafael dos Anjos. That’s the perfect matchup to make at this point. Let’s see how Barboza deals with Dos Anjos’ relentless pressure. If he passes that test, a shot at gold has to be the next step. Insert something, something, Tony Ferguson.

UFC Fight Night Chicago set up some interesting storylines for the near future in a couple of divisions. Fighters like Eddie Wineland and Felice Herrig getting their hands raised after solid performances also give us something to think about. But more importantly, can we please find an opponent for Francis Ngannou who will throw counter strikes? One of the scariest looking human beings to ever enter the Octagon also leaves us with the biggest question mark. Is this truly a guy who can make a run to the top of the division, or is he a guy who is simply can-crushing the lower-tier of the UFC Heavyweight division? A potential matchup against Roy Nelson is intriguing, as we know Big Country will bring a solid mix of wrestling and striking. There has also been a lot of chatter about a fight against Derrick Lewis, which is a great clash of freakish power, and a fight that would surely end violently.

Looking ahead to the next UFC event, Tyron Woodley gets his highly criticised title shot against Robbie Lawler at UFC 201 in Atlanta, Georgia. A man who hasn’t competed inside the Octagon since January 2015 is stepping in against one of the most frightening fighters in the sport for the right to be called Champion in one of the most stacked divisions in the UFC. Whether you are for or against this matchup,  be prepared for fireworks because both men certainly look to be on their A-game leading up to this one. Save your judgements until after this one is over and simply enjoy the brutality.

 

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5 Things We Learned from UFC on Fox 26: Lawler vs Dos Anjos

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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.

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.

It’s My Time!

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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.

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*Live Updates* UFC Winnipeg Official Results

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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)
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Ladies Fight Night 7: “Double Trouble” Preview

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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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