Nestled nicely between UFC 201 and UFC 202 was the promotion’s venture to Salt Lake City, Utah for a free night of fights, headlined by two of the most exciting strikers in the game, regardless of weight class. This card was set up to be a showcase for the featherweight born in Parral, Chihuahua, Mexico, Yair “El Pantera” Rodriguez, but his opponent Alex “Bruce Leeroy” Caceres wasn’t about to roll over for anybody.
On paper, the pre-fight social media consensus was “this card sucks,” which fortunately for those fans who aren’t hyper-critical, usually means the card plays out to be an absolute banger. Filled with mid-card talent and a few prospects, this was the perfect opportunity for someone to leave their mark in the minds of fans. For the first half of the evening, that seemed to be the case with all six preliminary fights delivering exciting finishes and close decision battles.
Featherweights ruled the evening as an early Fight of the Night candidate took place in the Fight Pass prelim headliner between Cub Swanson and Tatsuya Kawajiri. Coming into the fight ranked fifth with his eyes set a run at the title, Cub, who is allergic to boring fights, needed to get past one of the most durable men in the sport in impressive fashion. An early finish could not be found on the night, but the back and forth clash left us all wishing the fight was scheduled for five rounds instead of three. The result creates an interesting question for the featherweight division: What do you do with Cub Swanson now? Conor McGregor is still technically king of the division, although who knows if he will actually return to the weight class. Jose Aldo earned the right to be called Interim Champion at UFC 200 by defeating Frankie Edgar. Max Holloway has been on an absolute tear and has to be considered for a title shot soon after knocking off the only other man ranked ahead of Swanson, Ricardo Lamas. The problem for Cub is that prior to his current two-fight win streak, he lost to Edgar and Holloway in succession. The top of the featherweight division will take quite some time to play out, which could leave Swanson just outside of the title picture for the time being. Perhaps shortly after UFC 202 is complete, we’ll know if Jose Aldo’s Interim title will be upgraded to the real belt, and the division can resume full-speed ahead.
Speed was also something noticeably missing from the Salt Lake City card, which is commonplace for UFC on FS1 events. Normally the complaints about the pacing of the card seem like petty gripes from entitled fans, however, last night, those complaints were legitimate. A better balance must be found to fit in adequate advertisements from sponsors while keeping a steady flow of fights. No, it didn’t help that the event hit a serious lull once it reached the main card with lackluster fights resulting in decision after decision, draining the energy out of the crowd that was once very lively during the prelim bouts. Five of the six main card matchups required a judge’s decision. Even the lone finish reached the final round. The lengthy breaks between fights due to heavy advertising and ensuring the allocated television timeslot was filled, had most of us were reaching for caffeine to get us through to the main event.
Alex “Bruce Leeroy” Caceres is much more than an eccentric character with a huge afro. He’s a dangerous striker who will throw various spinning attacks and his signature double-punch that is usually only seen in cheesy old school martial arts movies. Well, so is Yair “El Pantera” Rodriguez, who may be the only man in the entire division who could throw more “spinning sh*t” than Caceres. What happens when you pit two guys who look like they’re mashing buttons in the latest rendition of Street Fighter? Well, quite simply, they look like they were mashing buttons in the latest rendition of Street Fighter. It’s incredible that dizziness didn’t set in for either fighter as they both threw more spinning attacks over five rounds than perhaps the entire sport has seen all year. The fight was incredible to watch, but El Pantera was clearly the victor at the conclusion of the fight, landing more significant strikes while keeping his foot on the gas pedal from bell to bell. Yair Rodriguez solidified his claim as one of the hottest prospects in the sport with that performance. However, one judge didn’t see it that way and subsequently delivered one of the worst scorecards of 2016 with a 49-46 score in favor of Bruce Leeroy. Let’s just assume, for sanity, that he was confused by the ridiculous design of the Utah Athletic Commission’s scorecard, which resembled a sudoku board rather than a score sheet. Seriously, look at this thing:
The winners in Salt Lake City stood next to Jon Anik in the cage for their opportunity to sell fans on their next fight. More often than not, the post-fight interview is just as important as the physical performance in the cage. You have to get fans excited about seeing you enter the cage again, ideally with a direct callout of another fighter. Some of the post-fight interviews were interesting, to say the least, as some guys nailed it while others missed the mark. Sage Northcutt found himself on the receiving end of a call out from David Teymur, which has become a common theme among lightweights as Sage represents a “money fight” for the unranked competitors. Court McGee mentioned Conor McGregor’s name during his post-fight interview, which came off a little strange. It wasn’t a call out, though, it was intended to be a nod to the crowd’s support that rivaled The Notorious’ Irish following. Aside from Teruto Ishihara’s expected shout out to the ladies of Salt Lake City, the golden microphone goes to Dennis Bermudez for his mic-drop call out of Frankie Edgar after his co-main event victory. It was simple, strong, and to the point. He wants Frankie Edgar at Madison Square Garden. Who cares if he shouted out the wrong date? We all knew what he meant and it was the best call-out of the evening, without a doubt.
The promotion sets its eyes back to Las Vegas for the next Pay-Per-View event, UFC 202, for the rematch of Conor McGregor versus Nate Diaz. If the media conference call from earlier in the week is any indication, the mutual respect showed by the pair this time around means we’re in for an intense fight to close out the evening on August 20, 2016. Who knows what will happen in the aftermath? Will there really be a man who’s able to call himself a Champion after losing his last two fights? Win or lose, does Conor he really bring himself to the brink of death to make the 145-pound limit to defend his belt? For Nate, where does he land in the rankings at 155 with another win over Conor? If he loses, does it set up a trilogy? Stay tuned because this situation could go in many different directions, but one thing is for certain, both men will follow the money.
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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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