Unlike many popular professional sports associations, the UFC has no off-season. 365 days a year, from January to December, the best mixed martial artists are training and honing their craft to climb up the rankings and experience their “One Shining Moment.” However, for most, before enjoying his or her “One Shining Moment,” a fighter must establish and prove he or she belongs among the best. This is called the “One Defining Moment.” So without further ado, let’s check out the One Defining Moments of those stepping into the octagon at The Ultimate Fighter Finale 23.
Ross Pearson (21-10, 11-7 in UFC) vs. Will Brooks (17-1, 0-0 in UFC)
***Co-Main Event – Lightweight Bout
Ross “The Real Deal” Pearson
When Ross “The Real Deal” Pearson returned to lightweight and knocked out George Sotiropoulos, he threw his name into a hat of great fighters within the division. Yet, in the always competitive UFC, one simply cannot put his or her name into consideration. Really, he or she must make a statement. This is exactly what he did on April 6, 2013, against Randy Couture. Right out of the gates, it was Couture who initiated a clinch and started working his opponent’s body with strikes and nasty knees. Moreover, the aforementioned brawler landed sharp elbows while gradually bringing the target of his knees higher and higher. As far as Pearson, he simply couldn’t get into the necessary boxing range to fully showcase his talent. Due to Couture’s smothering approach, he successfully landed a takedown around the mid-way point in Round 1. Though, The Real Deal slipped out of the cage mauling and commenced to find his groove in the late stages, which was displayed by a brutal left knee and a left hook. Although there was no doubt the initial round was the property of Couture, Pearson weathered the storm and was set for a strong 2nd. The Real Deal, starting to take more control of the octagon, caused more and more damage with his left hook through the first minute. Couture answered his opponent’s strikes by blanketing him with another clinch and connecting with several kicks and punches combinations. Thus, slipping behind 20-18 on the scorecard started to look more likely for the Englishman. Yet, who would have thought a caught left kick would change the result? Throughout the first 8 minutes, Randy Couture experienced great success with his kicks. Unfortunately for him, it proved to be his downfall. Pearson, catching a left body kick from Couture, caused a trip from the American. Like a shark with blood in the water, The Real Deal presented a real threat by jumping all over his opponent and unleashing hard left hooks. Couture, looking to only survive, was somehow able to get back to his feet. Meeting him as he turned around was nothing less than bombs in the form of Pearson’s right and left hooks. Couture was hurt as he tried to circle to his right. Then, his lights went out. Pearson finished the job with a brutal left hook that ended the fight quicker than it started. It is never safe to leave it to the judges, and Ross Pearson proved his perseverance will never do so, on that April evening.
Will “Ill Will” Brooks
Set to partake in one of the most highly anticipated UFC debuts to recent date this Friday, Will “Ill Will” Brooks enters the best MMA promotion in the world as an already established fighter. More specifically, his “One Defining Moment” can be identified as Bellator 131 on November 15, 2014, when he re-matched Michael Chandler for the vacant lightweight belt. Following a feel out process by both fighters, the former champion Chandler began his execution of cutting his opponent off from the rest of the circle. Yet, Brooks had the more successful strike game, for he was landing flush with a very fluid kick, punch combos. Around one minute in, Chandler attempted a single leg takedown. Despite Brooks getting to the side of the cage, his opponent inflicted much damage in the clinch and took the back of the interim champion (with Brooks on his knees). Quickly scrambling, Ill Will hopped back to his feet prior to drilling Chandler with more kicks and his right jab. The former champion had no significant strikes in the final 90 seconds of Round 1, leading viewers to believe Brooks was ahead 10-9. Unlike the 1st, the two lightweights were aggressive coming out of the physical reprieve. Chandler induced another clinch around the same time as the round prior. However, he was only able to record an Ill Will slip from his efforts as the super athletic now UFC fighter escaped. But, in the next exchange Chandler drilled his adversary with a hard right hook and proceeded to land a kick. There was just one problem with the kick; it was a hard groin shot to Brooks. The interim champion, face to the ground in pain, was allowed a minute to regather his thoughts and continued his pursuit. After resuming, Ill Will had a stingy sidekick land. Moreover, he persisted in working the outside of the cage and slipping out of harm’s reach. Though, he wouldn’t the next time. Sprawling and blocking a Chandler takedown, Brooks got back to stand-up, but in the worst place possible as he had no room to manoeuvre and his back was against the cage. The former champion took advantage of the aforementioned and started teeing off with multiple big blows from his right hand. The bout could have been over, yet Will Brooks has a great chin, which allowed him to stay upright and offer uppercuts in return. After escaping, Ill Will shot for a takedown. What a mistake this was. The interim champion literally put his head right into the lap of Chandler, allowing him to attempt a guillotine choke. Granted, with his hips out of position, Chandler was unable to get the guillotine initially; yet, transitioning the position to stand-up, he had the choke tight and began cranking on Brooks’ neck. The crowd exploded as the finish looked imminent. Not this time! Ill Will, staying calm, slipped out of the hold and ended the round with a plethora of big blasts that caught the former champion with his hands down. In the 3rd, Brooks was by far the fresher of the two fighters. From landing jabs and moving out of danger to stuffing deep takedown attempts and unloading short knees, the interim champion rebounded fantastically by putting together a no-doubt 3rd round victory. The championship rounds were next, and only one would be needed to crown a champion. Starting with a jab and continuing to miss fists, Ill Will looked to be pulling away. Although a Chandler flying knee took some of the winds out of his sail, it was not too much as the interim champion stuffed another takedown attempt and proceeded to circle. At this moment, Brooks would cause a mouse to surface under one of his opponent’s eyes. Yet, that’s not all! Furthermore, a Brooks’ right hook to the temple disoriented Chandler and caused him to put his hands up in surrender. Will Brooks would follow up with a few strikes for good measure, ending the fight and solidifying his status as the best Bellator lightweight in the world
#C Joanna Jedrzejczyk (11-0, 5-0 in UFC) vs #1 Claudia Gadelha (13-1, 2-1 in UFC)
***Main Event – Women’s Strawweight Championship
No women’s strawweight has been more active since the division was conceived than current champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk. In fact, this Friday’s fight will be her sixth in less than two years. Though, to make a name in this business, she only needed three opportunities and a title shot to display the talent and heart of a champion. The Poland native was facing, at the time, the only champion the division had ever seen, Carla Esparza. In the first exchange, Esparza eyed an immediate takedown but was met with a sprawl and a hard elbow leaving the exchange. The first toe-to-toe standoff could be scored to Jedrzejczyk; however, Esparza soon tried again and trapped her opponent’s left leg before solidifying a takedown. Granted, the pride of Poland escaped out the back door, but she soon found herself against the side of the cage and eating a hard right hook. Following the break, Jedrzejczyk, again, was unable to have time or room to strike, for the opposition shot for a second takedown in the centre of the octagon and ended up landing it along the side. Constantly desiring to get back to stand-up, the now champion shook off Esparza and executed a stingy right hook, which actually staggered the then belt holder. Jedrzejczyk, known for pressing forward while on the feet, became more and more effective in landing strikes. Moreover, whether it was a right hook, left jab, or a straight from either side, she was landing flush while stuffing four takedowns in just over two minutes. At the end of the 1st, Jedrzejczyk took her dominance to a new level by teeing off with five very significant strikes as Esparza was trapped against the cage. Meeting Esparza on her side of the octagon to commence the 2nd, Jedrzejczyk stayed aggressive in the next round. Furthermore, she landed a formidable right hook prior to scrambling against the cage to defend another takedown attempt. Less than a minute later, Esparza persisted to execute her wrestling game plan but was sprawled upon before absorbing a left straight, right hook combination. Jedrzejczyk administered, even more, damage with a right hook, right elbow two-piece. The end of Esparza’s reign was inevitable as the Polish striker continued to batter her opponent. A Jedrzejczyk right-hand, a left-hand straight combo led to a plethora of right-hand hooks, ultimately stopping the bout with less than a minute left in the 2nd. Striking and takedown defence, if you have both, you will have a spot at the top for a very long time.
How a fighter bounces back from his or her first professional loss, tells a lot about the longevity and future success of the individual. Hence, Claudia Gadelha did more than prove herself and her potential when compiling a masterful performance last August at UFC 190 in Rio de Janerio, Brazil. Gadelha, wasting no time to feel out her opponent, immediately attacked Jessica Aguilar with a nasty left knee in the clinch as well as a series of jabs and hooks. She later caused more damage thanks to a follow-up left-right-left hook combination. Even when Gadelha was hit, she was unfazed and proceeded to land hooks and deadly Thai clinch knees. The never ceasing attack of Gadelha bloodied up the nose of Aguilar and slammed the latter to the canvas for her fourth takedown. When the dust cleared after the 1st five minutes; there was no question Gadelha had won the round and was up 10-9. And soon, the 2nd would be her’s too. Showcasing the same aggressiveness as the segment prior, the top women’s strawweight contender cracked her opponent with a right hook and transitioned to a hard one-two. Immediately after, a right hook didn’t just rock Aguilar but cracked her. Gadelha followed up with a right body kick while looking for the finish. Aguilar induced a clinch to stay alive; however, all it did was give Gadelha a moment to get a hold and score another takedown. Once back on the feet, Gadelha pounded the opposition with combinations, uppercuts, and kicks. Moreover, she shot and completed an end of round takedown, just for good measures. Unlike some who would have coasted in the 3rd, Claudia Gadelha came out with a desire to finish the fight. Despite Aguilar getting off some sharp leg kicks, the top contender answered with heavy blows that sent the American backwards. To seal the victory and great performance, the Brazilian enjoyed her fourth takedown of the evening. Although her ground and pound barrage for the finish fell short, Claudia Gadelha’s next bout was sealed and an attempt for UFC gold was next.
More One Defining Moments:
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.
Marco Reyes Flagged for Potential Anti-Doping Policy Violation
Earlier today, UFC officials announced that Lightweight, Marco Reyes was flagged for a potential UFC Anti-Doping Policy violation. The potential violation hails from a sample collected on March 8th, 2018, in an out-of-competition test.
Reyes made his way into the UFC through The Ultimate Fighter Latin America, season 2. Competing in the lightweight bracket, Reyes defeated Christhian Soto by 2nd rd. TKO of a preliminary round bout. He then went onto to face Horacio Gutiérrez, in the semifinals of the tournament. Gutiérrez defeated Reyes in the opening round by TKO.
Following his elimination from the tournament, the Mexican fighter met Cezar Arzamendia on the series finale, The Ultimate Fighter Latin America 2 Finale. Reyes impressively defeated Arzamendia, whom was the first overall pick for Team Gastelum, by 1st round KO.
From there, Reyes defeated Dong Hung Kim (rd. 1, KO), and Jason Novelli (Split Decision) respectively, before falling to rising contender James Vick. Most recently, the Lightweight fighter dispatched Matt Frevola in the opening round, ruining the Long Islanders promotional debut. His bout against Frevola took place at UFC Fight Night: Stephens vs. Choi, on January 14th of this year.
The UFC statement on the matter reads as follows:
The UFC organization was notified today that the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) has informed Marco Reyes of a potential Anti-Doping Policy violation stemming from an out-of-competition sample collected on March 8, 2018.
USADA, the independent administrator of the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, will handle the results management and appropriate adjudication of this case involving Reyes. Under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, there is a full and fair legal process that is afforded to all athletes before any sanctions are imposed. Additional information will be provided at the appropriate time as the process moves forward.
Dillon Danis to make Pro debut against Kyle Walker at Bellator 198
Mixed Martial Arts officially adopted another incredibly talented jiu-jitsu practioner today. Bellator officials announced today the long-awaited debut of Dillon Danis, whom the promotion had signed in the year previous. After zero amateur and countless jiu-jitsu matches, Danis makes his debut at Bellator 198: Mir vs. Emelianenko, against Kyle Walker.
Kyle Walker enters the match up also making his Bellator debut. Walker recently made a resurgence in 2016 after taking off, almost exactly, 3 years. Since returning to the professional scene his record is 0-3, losing each fight by stoppage (2 Sub, 1 KO).
Walker looks to snap his streak yet, his opponent could provide a major challenge. In terms of advantages for Walker, he has a massive and obvious one. His experience. Walkers opponent fights for the first time in the sport of MMA. While Danis competed in many top-level jiu-jitsu tournaments and matches, comparing the competition would stop and end upon examining the rule sets. It is quite obvious, the difference. Danis will have a bit of adversity to overcome, in that respect.
In spite of this, Danis’ team, he trains out of the highly regarded SBG Ireland. Even before his MMA training, he trained under Marcelo Garcia. He earned his black belt in April of 2015, following an incredible 2014. In that year, Danis became UAEJJF World Champion, winning gold in the 82 kg (181 lb.) Brown belt category.
The prospect of what that could look like inside the cage is exciting. He may have developed some striking techniques but, the lack of time dedicated to that training in undeniable. Experience and time is required to develop skills of any kind.
Bellator 198: Mir vs. Emelianenko, takes place on Saturday, April 28th from the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Illinois. Bellator 198 features the third of four preliminary bouts in the promotions Heavyweight Grand Prix, Fedor Emelianenko takes on Frank Mir. It serves as the nights main event. Other bouts on the card feature; Emmanuel Sanchez against Sam Sicilia, Neiman Gracie faces Javier Torres, Rafael Lavato Jr. vs. John Salter, and more.
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