On a night of comebacks, resurgence, horrendous judging, and a possible retirement, UFC’s latest trip to Canada was filled with a little bit of everything that makes the sport of mixed martial arts interesting. Include a few great performances from the fighters involved and UFC on FOX 21 in Vancouver was arguably he best non-PPV cards thus far in 2016.
The welterweight division has become incredibly crowded at the front of the line ever since Tyron Woodley was crowned Champion. Prior to Saturday evening, Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson had the best case for a title shot, which was famously (or infamously) shot down by Woodley just moments after having the belt wrapped around his waist. Thompson is riding a streak of seven wins in a row; the last three of which were in headlining spots, and two of those were first round knockouts. Show any pundit a nameless resume like that, and surely the mystery fighter would be a shoe-in for a title shot. Before you punch that ticket for Wonderboy (and honestly, you really should), another prominent name in the division made a very, very strong case for consideration in Vancouver.
Demian Maia, the most feared Brazilian Jiu-jitsu practitioner in all of MMA, did Demian Maia things Saturday night by submitting former title challenger Carlos Condit. It wasn’t that Maia submitted Condit, it was how he did it. Not only was it just under two minutes of the first round, Maia managed to absorb only one strike from one of the most dangerous strikers in all of MMA. That’s insanely good. As a matter of fact, Demian Maia has only absorbed 13 significant strikes over his last four fights. These were all fights in the UFC, against the best competition in the world. Maia is on a streak of his own that rivals Thompson’s with six wins in a row. Over that stretch, two of the wins came in headlining spots, and three of his opponents were tapped. While Thompson is the rightful claim holder to the next title shot (and it appears it will be his pending an official announcement), Maia used the age gap as leverage to jump his place in line during the post-fight press conference. Hey, if it can work for Hendo, why not the human backpack?
Age is still very much in favor of the former Lightweight Champion Anthony Pettis, and so is the decision to move down to featherweight. After a three-fight losing skid, Pettis decided to shed an extra ten pounds to find his footing in the Octagon. Aside from looking more drawn out than we’ve ever seen him on the scales, Pettis looked great in the cage against Oliveira. Giving credit where it’s due, Oliveira is no slouch on the ground, yet Pettis was able to lock in a guillotine choke in the third round for the tap. Now that Pettis knows he can hit 145 on the scale and be successful in the Octagon, this sets up a host of interesting match ups at the top of the featherweight class. Frankie Edgar, Max Holloway, and Jose Aldo all make sense for Pettis as potential opponents. One thing is for certain, there is no shortage of sellable opponents for Conor McGregor to share the stage with at featherweight. At this point, It’s just up to him to decide if he’s done trying to make the weight limit.
The most spectacular finishing strike of the evening came from Paige VanZant, who made her return to the Octagon after competing on Dancing with the Stars. Just a few moments into the second round of her fight with Bec Rawlings, Paige unleashed a jumping switch kick that caught her opponent flush on the chin. Just like that, Paige danced her way back into everyone’s heart as the incredibly marketable badass dancing fighter. However, if we’re being critical and completely honest about Paige’s overall performance, the first round showed familiar flaws in her game that were exploited by Rose Namajunas. Luckily Bec is not Rose, and that epic knockout kick can buy her some time to shake off the rust from DWTS and improve some of the technical errors in her standup game.
The unfortunate part of this trip to Vancouver came in the form of incompetent judging, which reared its ugly head multiple times throughout the evening. The first instance occurred on the prelims between Enrique Barzola and Kyle Bochniak. The fight was relatively easy to score, as Barzola got the better of the exchanges in every round and landed more strikes overall. At worst, Barzola lost one round if you were in a giving mood, yet the split decision was read in favor of Bochniak with two judges seeing it 29-28 for the Boston fighter. The judge that scored it for Barzola? 30-27, which was more in line with media scores for the bout:
The next questionable decision came in the rematch between Jim Miller and Joe Lauzon. In the end, the fans won because it was an amazing fight, but one of the fighters had to be awarded their winning purse. After losing the first round, Lauzon made adjustments and controlled the action in the second and third round, making this an easy fight to score 29-28 in favor of Lauzon. However, two of the judges had their eyes some place else, resulting in a split decision in favor of Miller. Refer to the media scores of this bout as well:
Lastly, a photograph of the scorecard from Anthony Pettis versus Charles Oliveira surfaced from ESPN’s Brett Okamoto shortly after the completion of the bout. While the scorecard was not needed to determine the winner, its impact certainly would have been felt if it were necessary to render a judge’s decision. All three judges scored the opening round a 10-8, a round which was clearly in favor of Pettis due to hurting Oliveira badly from strikes, yet Oliveira did more enough in the round before and after that point to warrant a 9 on the cards. The second round scores were equally perplexing as two judges saw it for Oliveira and one for Pettis, all to the tune of 10-9s. Luckily for our sanity, a finish occurred once Pettis grabbed a hold of Oliveira’s neck, and cries of robbery or “WTF?” were avoided.
From Vancouver, BC to Hamburg, Germany in just seven days, the UFC keeps traveling the globe to bring exciting fights to fans of combat sports. The Pit Bull from Belarus squares off against The Warmaster in the first of the next two upcoming events that are headlined by heavyweights. Who has one more run at the title left in them? We’ll certainly find out in less than a week, and hopefully we won’t need judges.
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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.”
UFC 219: Cyborg vs Holm recap
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.
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.
Invicta 27 Officially Announced
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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