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State of the Middleweight Division

Vinny Craig

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Just like Bel-Air, the Middleweight division was flipped, turned upside-down on Saturday with a new champion, a division that had only seen three champions in the last nine years with great title holders like Anderson Silva and Chris Weidman. Longtime contender Michael Bisping got his first shot at UFC gold in his 26th career fight and made the most of it with a first round KO victory over Luke Rockhold. The division gets a new look, which means new breeds get their shot at the title.

Champion

Michael Bisping

bisping

‘The Count’ can finally be called the champion of the world after the years of agonizing losses and non-stop trash talk. In 21 career Middleweight fights, Bisping became the first British UFC champion in just the second title try for the Brits (Dan Hardy at UFC 111). With just two wins over the top 10 in the division, plenty of fights are upcoming for Bisping as the title holder. Like many, a title defense in his hometown would be the best case scenario.

Next In Line

Chris Weidman

The former three-time defending champion with wins over Anderson Silva, Lyoto Machida, and Vitor Belfort is likely the front runner for a title shot at the new champion. Weidman was the original opponent for Rockhold in an immediate title rematch of their UFC 194 fight. Weidman pulled out two weeks prior to Saturday’s UFC 199 event and was replaced by the newest champion Michael Bisping. With a healing time of six to eight weeks from the time of surgery, the timetable for Weidman would be right around a fight in September/October.

Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza

The former Strikeforce Middleweight champion has shown well in the UFC. With six wins in seven fights, Souza was the front-runner for the short notice fight. A knee injury kept him from accepting the fight and likely sets him up for a title shot down the road. With wins over guys like Gegard Mousasi, Yushin Okami, and Vitor Belfort, the highly skilled grappler would do well in a title fight. His scheduled return would also fit a time-table of August to October, similar to the champions.

The Present

Luke Rockhold

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 08: Michael Bisping of England ducks a punch from Luke Rockhold of the USA in their middleweight fight during the UFC Fight Night 55 event at Allphones Arena on November 8, 2014 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

The defending champion did not take the current fight seriously enough. After five straight finish wins, Rockhold walked into his first title defense as calm and confident as ever. He walked out without a belt and with a lot of words from the champion Bisping. Many title losers receive immediate rematches when they make sense  to the division and the business, but this one doesn’t seem like that type of fight. Rockhold has yet to face guys like Yoel Romero, Anderson Silva, and Robert Whittaker who are at the top of the division’s rankings. A rematch with either Weidman or Souza makes sense for the former champion.

Yoel Romero

The current longest Middleweight winning streak might need one more fight for a title shot. Seven wins in a row put the Cuban at the top of the rankings. A positive USADA test has sent Romero back a little bit with a six-month suspension retroactive to his December fight. A top fight should be awaiting him in his return with guys like Weidman, Rockhold, and Robert Whittaker still needing opponents for future cards.

Robert Whittaker

It’s unfortunate the Aussie fighter is in such a deep division where five straight wins still leave you one or two fights away from a title shot. Five straight wins and six of his last eight have put Whittaker at number six in the rankings and in the vicinity of a title fight. He has never faced a guy higher than eight when he beat Uriah Hall at UFC 193 in Melbourne. He was scheduled at UFC 193 for a fight with Bisping, a fight that could be rebooked in a future title bout. Before that, fights with anyone above in the rankings will make sense.

The Future

Derek Brunson

Brunson is a winner of four straight and six of his last seven. The lone loss coming to Yoel Romero doesn’t look as bad with Romero being on the streak he is. Brunson’s fight with Gegard Mousasi at UFC 200 will say a lot about where he goes in this division. With only one win over a current top 15 Middleweight, it’s hard to justify him leaping over so many great contenders. A win over Mousasi and then a top 5 guy should put Brunson right in the middle of things.

Uriah Hall

The TUF 17 standout has nine UFC fights and is still just 31 years old. We’ve seen flashes of brilliance with spinning KO’s and plain dominating performances. With all of the good comes the bad as Hall has looked unable to pull the trigger and engage at points in his career. A bout with Anderson Silva will likely look to be re-booked for a future date after their UFC 198 bout was cancelled. A win over Silva will hold a lot of precedence in a deep division and will put Hall in a good position for big fights.

Worth Mentioning

Dan Henderson

LAS VEGAS, NV - MAY 24: (R-L) Dan Henderson looks to strike Daniel Cormier in their light heavyweight bout during the UFC 173 event at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on May 24, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Someone who’s been finished in three of their last five fights should never be in the title picture. Except if your name is Dan Henderson and the champion is Michael Bisping. Their epic TUF season of trash talking battles on culminated at UFC 100 where Henderson knocked out Bisping. At UFC 199, Bisping won the title and Henderson got another KO victory over Hector Lombard. Henderson didn’t seem completely sure he would ever fight again, but a title shot against Bisping would keep ‘Hendo’ around for one more.

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EXCLUSIVE: Jack Shore talks Cage Warriors 87 Opponent Change, Pressure and Being Ready for A Big Opportunity

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Jack Shore, a promising up and coming Welsh Featherweight who will be fighting on his fourth main Cage Warriors card in only his sixth professional fight. Despite his opponent, Federico Mini, dropping out days prior to the event, Shore isn’t concerned ahead of the opponent change. “Just another fight, I’m ready for anything come fight night and I’m looking forward to the challenge”. Cage Warriors have confirmed that Shore will now be fighting Italian, Mattia Galbiati.

Shore last fought at the Newport Centre, Wales at Cage Warriors 83, defeating his opponent Konmon Deh convincingly with a first-round submission. The crowd was electric for both his entrance and when his opponent tapped due to armbar, “I have a massive following and they like to make themselves heard on fight night, it’s getting bigger and bigger every time!”

Whilst using his extensive grappling to win the fight, the Tillery Combat MMA Academy fighter was very aggressive with his strikes on the ground, “I believe my grappling style is very different to what people are used to seeing and that’s why it’s entertaining to watch. I’m always looking to advance and put the pressure on, but I also try to use punches and elbows to set up my transitions.”

Being undefeated throughout his amateur career (including winning the IMMAF European Championships), to then continue being undefeated throughout his early professional career, Shore has a mature mindset for such a young fighter to how the sport works, “Obviously no one wants to lose but you have to be aware that it’s a possibility because anything can happen in this sport. But by being aware it allows me to train and prepare correctly to do everything I can (do) to prevent that from happening.”

Whilst growing up, Shore states that he wasn’t the most confident of people, “As a kid growing up I was never the world’s most confident person.” Cage Warriors being on BT Sport within the UK, being the biggest European MMA promotion, and having the following Shore has, he feels no pressure of fighting, “But as far as MMA is concerned I don’t feel any pressure at all. There’s obviously the fight day nerves but anyone will tell you I deal with them very well and am more than comfortable in that environment.”

With the current revolution of MMA in Wales occurring, former Cage Warriors fighters Brett Johns, Jack Marshman and John Philips all in the UFC, Josh Reed who has just come off a title shot with Cage Warriors Bantamweight champion Nathaniel Wood, Lewis Long being the best Welterweight in the UK. It brings a realistic opportunity of making the UFC, “Definitely. Since the first bunch of Welsh guys have been signed to the UFC it’s shown for guys like me, Lewis Long and Josh Reed that what we are pushing for is no doubt achievable. I believe that if we keep doing what we are doing then that dream won’t be too far away.”

Whilst having such a successful start to his professional career, and with the attention, this young Welshman is bringing, Shore is in no rush for the Cage Warriors belt, but is prepared if the opportunity arises. “I’m just taking one fight at a time. I’m aware that I’m still young in terms of my pro career so I will continue to fight whoever Cage Warriors put in front of me. Should a big opportunity like that present itself I’ll make sure I’m ready.”

Shore seems to be mature for someone of the age of just 22, the future seems bright for the young Welshman. Jack Shore fights on the up and coming Cage Warriors 87 card Saturday, 14th October at the Newport Centre, Newport, Wales. The event will be free-to-air on UK sports channels FreeSports, as well as be on UFC FightPass and via the red button on BT Sport.

Check the main card out for Cage Warriors 87 below:

Lewis Long vs Roberto Soldic (Welterweight)
Craig White vs Matt Inman (Welterweight)
Jack Shore vs Mattia Galbiati (Featherweight)
Aiden Lee vs Ludovit Klein (Featherweight)
Aaron Khalid vs Ross Houston (Welterweight)

By Ieuan Thomas.

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Battle Arena 47 Preview: Five Title Fights in Bedfordshire

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Battle Arena fight cards almost always provide us with some of the most entertaining amateur MMA bouts you will see.

This Saturday’s Battle Arena 47 card in Houghton Regis, Bedfordshire promises to continue the trend with five… yes five title fights.

Mathieu James, fighting out of MD Fight Club, takes on the Norweigan Johane Stromsnes in a featherweight bout to kick off the card. Followed by a lightweight fight with Max Pearson from Rising Crane MMA taking on Birmingham’s Bahtar Oryakhil. Pearson’s last appearance on Battle Arena was a split decision win back in February and he looks to take his Battle Arena record to 2-0-0.

Skipping through the undercard, Erland Limanduik Myhr vs. Lee Anthony certainly raises an eyebrown. Anthony, who is moving up to lightweight after two previous featherweight bouts, looks to shake off a decision loss last time out in April and regain the form he showed in his Battle Arena debut where he knocked out his opponent after just 38 seconds. Anthony who stands well over 6 foot will look to use his height advantage to out strike his opponent.

Callum Birkenshaw from SLKMMA in Bedworth puts his undefeated 3-0 record on the line against Liam Hardy from Mcleods MMA in a welterweight fight. In his last fight, Birkenshaw used his kickboxing skills to perfection, showing off 101-varieties of kicks and effective takedowns to stroll to a decision win over a resilient and super tough Jack Lake.

Now… time for the title fights! Our first of the evening sees Molly Lyndsey fight Megan Norman for the European title at 63kg. After a dominant display in her Battle Arena debut showing, Lyndsey was then outclassed on the canvas against Magdelina Giec, who’s very credible judo and jiu jitsu eventually led to her dislocating Lyndsey’s elbow.

Giechas now gone on to represent Poland at the World Games in jiu jitsu, so Lyndsey shouldn’t grade herself too harshly as she looks to take the European belt against Norman.

Next up is the bantamweight European title as Rob Masters defends his belt again, this time against Badar Khalid from Prime MMA in Dunstable.

Masters, who likes to start quickly, came back from a long lay off with a split decision win over Ollie Southam to retain his belt last time out, however Masters himself said via his Instagram.

Masters fights Badar Khalid who trains with Battle Arena featherweight champion Duncan Djillali. This should benefit Khalid mentally with the champions mentality oozing out at sessions looking at that belt hanging in the gym. Khalid is moving down a weight class for this bout and it looks to be an extremely exciting fight.

Two more title fights follow as Fred Sjolie defends his European lightweight title against the Irishman Shane Geraghty who fought just 4 weeks ago, choking out his opponent in the process.

The co-main event sees a regional title fight in the bantamweight division which is bursting with talent as George Caruna takes on Tom Gibbs for the belt. Both fighters will be high on confidence as they fight off the back of wins so expect to see an explosive bout.

Finally, the main event. Jaye John vs Duncan Djillali, for the British bantamweight title.

Another title fight from the bantamweight division? How good is this weight class in Battle Arena?

Djillali started the year brightly racking up three wins before suffering an extremely controversial decision loss. Feeling that he deserved another chance at a title, Battle Arena gave this to him. In comes Jaye John.

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John fought and was defeated just two weeks ago, so as you can imagine his bravery is admired for stepping back into the cage so soon with the chance to win the British title. We expect Duncan to keep the fight standing up to show off his extremely credible boxing skills.

Battle Arena is renowned for being one of the biggest amateur MMA shows in Europe so expect fireworks, expect finishes and expect some stars to break out.

Full fight card below:

Mathieu James (MD Fight Club) vs Johane Stromsnes (Front line academy) – 66KG
Max Pearson (Rising Crane MMA ) vs Bahtar Oryakhil (Counter Combat) – 70KG
Attila Hanzel (SBJMMA ) vs Tyler Thomas (Hells Pit) – 84KG
Louise Dempter (BMAC) vs Anna Askvik (Pancrase Stokholm) – 52KG
Harvey Stacy (RGA Bucks) vs Lionel Alexis (Bedford MMA) – 77KG
Erland Limanduik Myhr (ILA MMA) vs Lee Anthony (Elite TC) – 70KG
Hanna Ingram (5 Elements) vs Danielle Hutton (Team Walhead) – 66KG
Liam Hardy (McLeods MMA) vs Callum Birkenshaw (SLKMMA) – 77KG
Mark Kelly (Rising Crane MMA) vs Melvin Galdal (Frontline Academy) – 70KG
Jack Fletcher (RGA Bucks) vs Elijas Paknys (Frontline academy) – 84KG
Molly Lyndsey (5 Elements) vs Megan Norman (Hells pit) – 63KG – European Title
Rob Masters (Rising Crane MMA) vs Badar Khalid (Prime MMA) – 61KG – European Title
Shane Geraty (Samsons Martial Arts) vs Fred Sjolie (Frontline Academy) – 70KG – European Title
George Caruna (Mcleods MMA) vs Tom Gibbs (Elite TC) – 61KG – Region Title
Jaye John (Combat & Exercise) vs Duncan Djillali (Prima MMA) – 61KG – British Title

Written by Jack Wright

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Cage Warriors 84: Results

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Cage Warriors returns to the Indigo @ The O2 Arena in London, England with Nathaniel Wood headlining the card against Marko Kovacevic for the vacant bantamweight title.

The card also features a light heavyweight co-main event between Kenneth Bergh and Norman Paraisy as well as Matt iNman taking on Brad Wheeler in the welterweight division.

Stay tuned to our Twitter for live coverage!

Main Card (Live on BT Sport and UFC Fight Pass)

Cage Warriors Bantamweight Title: Nathaniel Wood def. Marko Kovacevic via TKO (punches) after 3:41 of Round 1.

Light-heavyweight: Kenneth Bergh def. Norman Paraisy via submission (guillotine) after 2:13 of Round 2.

Welterweight: Matt Inman def. Brad Wheeler via unanimous decision (30-25, 30-25, 30-26)

Lightweight: Alexander Jacobsen def. Tom Green via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-26, 30-26)

Welterweight: Craig White def. Hakon Foss via submission (guillotine) after 1:18 of Round 1.

Prelims (Live on SPORTbible Facebook)

Lightweight: Steve O’Keeffe def. Sean Carter via submission (heel hook) after 2:10

Catchweight (177lbs): Thomas Robertsen def. Phil Wells via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)

Middleweight: Mirko Jurkovic def. James Webb via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27).

Flyweight: Sam Creasey def. Iurie Bejenari via submission (rear-naked choke) after 3:41 of Round 1.

Bantamweight: Darren O’Gorman def. Bryan Creighton via submission (rear-naked choke) in Round 2.

 

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