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RECAP: Dana White Tuesday Night Contender Series

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How did you guys like the fights?” Dana White asked the media during a scrum at the end of the Week 7 broadcast. “This was the best one yet,” he said with a jovial grin. No one in the huddle disagreed. The impromptu press conference with the UFC President and Jeff Novitzky came as a result of the breaking news of Jon Jones’ failed drug test, but the real reason for the gathering at the Ultimate Fighter gym was to celebrate the 10 athletes who traveled to Las Vegas for a potentially painful job interview.

The night was action packed from the very beginning. In the first bout Jordan Espinosa scored a beautiful d’arce choke against his arch-rival Nick Urso, ending the fight in just over a minute. After that, a pair of submission savvy grapplers, both sporting impressive win streaks, clashed and it was another quick finish. Mike Santiago finished Mark Cherico at 2;59 of the 1st round by knockout.

But neither one of those impressive wins was enough to earn a contract, apparently. Instead, the 1st UFC contract was award to Joby Sanchez, a returning competitor to the Dana White Tuesday Night Contender Series. Sanchez previously competed 3 times in the UFC posting a 1-2 record before being cut from the roster. Tonight he returned and got the redemption he fought so hard for in his first appearance on the show. His opponent JP Buys, was the biggest underdog on the card with a 4-1 professional record, but he almost looked capable of pulling off an upset in the early in the 1st.

A big kick wobbled Sanchez which Buys followed up with a thunderous German suplex. The young South African spent much of the round on the back of Sanchez and clearly won the round. Joby Sanchez was determined to keep his eyes on the prize and came out of the gate in round 2 looking like a completely different fighter. Whatever advice his corner gave him worked wonders for his approach because he wasted no time taking the fight to JP Buys and overwhelming him with volume, aggression and technique. Once he gained a dominant position on the ground, Sanchez took his opponent’s back and flattened him out before ending the fight with a TKO, earning a UFC contract in the process.

The co-main event between Steven Peterson and Benito Lopez was by far the most entertaining and exciting fight of the night. The boxing, takedowns and cage control of Peterson were keys to his strategy and almost got the job done, at least according to one judge. However, the elbows in the clinch and effective flying knees from Lopez (including one that opened a nasty cut on the lip of Peterson) seemed to have done more damage overall.

Both men showed incredible heart and kept a very intense pace from bell to bell. The result of the fight was a split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28) in favor of Benito Lopez. Despite failing to earn a stoppage, Lopez earned the only other UFC contract of the night. Dana White always favors those fighters who put it on the line the way that Steven Peterson and Benito Lopez did. In fact, do not be surprised to see Peterson back in the UFC Octagon.

The main event on the other hand, was the opposite of the co-main. And unlike the 1st 3 fights on the card, there was no finish, rather an unusual split decision. Anton Berzin has 2 previous fights at the Ultimate Fighter gym, back on the Ultimate Fighter season 19. His opponent, Kennedy Nzechukwu only came into the bout with 2 professional fights but showed a ton of potential. After being dropped in the 1st, Nzechukwu showed that he had the ability to take Berzin’s best punch.

The display of heart and excellent takedown defense must have gotten into his opponent’s head because Berzin seemed to fade throughout the second. By the third round, Anton Berzin looked as if he wanted out of the fight. Breathing heavily and using the cage to keep himself up, Nzechukwu cornered him and threw a few flurries that seemed to break his opponent completely. 2 judges actually scored a 10-8 for him in the third, though one judge scored the bout 29-28 in favor of Berzin. The result was a very odd score of 28-29, 29-27, 29-27 in favor of Nzechukwu, who is still very green but showed tremendous potential.

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Vitor Belfort vs Uriah Hall in the works for January 14th

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Vitor Belfort vs. Kelvin Gastelum UFC

Longtime UFC veteran Vitor Belfort announced on his Instagram that he is set to meet “The Ultimate Fighter 17” runner-up Uriah Hall.

The fight is set to take place on January 14th according to “The Phenom”, no event has been announced for the date yet. The bout marks Belfort’s first fight since beating Nate Marquardt in a controversial unanimous decision, back in June. Belfort had previously announced his retirement fight would come against Marquardt but has since changed his mind.

Belfort has been on an interesting run since his amazing KO filled 2013. He came back in 2015 in a middleweight title fight against then champion Chris Weidman. He would end up losing the fight via TKO after almost knocking out Weidman early on. He went on to knock out Dan Henderson before dropping three fights in a row by TKO, the latest, against Kelvin Gastelum, was changed to a no-contest, after Gastelum failed a drug test for Marijuana.

Uriah Hall looks to make his return to the cage after knocking out Krzysztof Jotko, back in September, in a fight many deemed the “comeback of the year”. Uriah had previously been on a three-fight losing skid, dropping a decision to current interim middleweight champion Robert Whittaker, and losing his next two via TKO.

The winner of the fight would end up on a two-fight winning streak and could potentially find themselves a few fights away from a title shot. Although no event has been announced for January 14th, it seems the UFC is already looking to get some fights booked. It is still unclear if this fight will serve as the main event.

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Bellator 185- How to Watch, Times and Fight Card

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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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Fight Announcements

Aldo vs. Lamas 2 and Ponzinibbio vs. Perry Added to UFC Winnipeg

Harry Davies

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The UFC has added Jose Aldo vs. Ricardo Lamas 2, and Santiago Ponzinibbio vs. Mike Perry to their UFC Winnipeg card on December 16th.

The two fights were announced as official today on the UFC’s Twitter account.

Aldo (26-3) last fought at UFC 212 in June, where he lost by third round TKO to Max Holloway. After being promoted to the undisputed 145-pound champion last November, he was looking to make the first defence of the title against Holloway.

Lamas first faced Aldo back in 2014 at UFC 169. Aldo, who was again featherweight champion at the time, defeated Lamas with ease winning by unanimous decision (49-46) on all scorecards. Lamas is on a two-fight winning streak after defeating both Charles Oliveira and Jason Knight with impressive finishes.

Since his last UFC loss to Lorenz Larkin back in 2015, Ponzinnibio (25-3) has won five consecutive fights. His most recent victory was a upset win over Gunnar Nelson in July at UFC Glasgow. There was some controversy after the fight, as replays seemed to show a short grab and several eyes pokes from Ponzinnibio before knocking out Nelson in the first round.

Mike Perry has taken the UFC by storm since making his debut for the promotion last August. Picking up four wins all by knockout, the only loss ‘Platinum’ suffered was too Alan Jouban by decision. Ranked at #9 in the welterweight division, a win over Ponzinnibio could definitely propel Perry into the top ten at 170-pounds.

With the additon of these two fantastic fights, the lineup for UFC Winnipeg is as follows:

  • Robbie Lawler vs. Rafael dos Anjos – Welterweight bout
  • Glover Teixeira vs. Misha Cirkunov – Light heavyweight bout
  • Antônio Rogério Nogueira vs. Jared Cannonier – Light heavyweight bout
  • Tim Elliott vs. Justin Scoggins – Flyweight bout
  • Chad Laprise vs. Galore Bafondo – Welterweight bout
  • Alessio Di Chirico vs. Oluwale Bamgbose – Middleweight bout
  • Vitor Miranda vs. Julian Marquez – Middleweight bout
  • John Makdessi vs. Abel Trujillo – Lightweight bout
  • Nordine Taleb vs. Sultan Aliev – Welterweight bout
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