The Light Heavyweight belt was defended by a man not named Jon Jones for the first time in four years. With Jones’ legal troubles behind him for the most part, the division is in a weird situation. In a Fight of the Night, Daniel Cormier successfully defended his Light Heavyweight belt for the first time. He beat former title challenger Alexander Gustafsson by a Split-Decision, and he looked impressive while doing it. The division is exciting with more chances than ever, and we’re going to take a look ahead as we always do after a title fight.
‘DC’ looked pretty good in his first title defense. Cormier utilized the clinch well, throwing uppercuts from the plum. He got hit a ton, and was close to being finished, which is very uncharacteristic of him. His only career loss could very well be avanged in the near future. In the Post-Fight Press Conference, Cormier said he would fight Jones next, just not in New York. “Why should I let him fight where he’s comfortable? He needs to hear the anger for what he did”.
The former champ was stripped of his belt after legal issues rendered him unable to defend his belt. Those legal matters have, for the most part, been cleared up. Jones has been training while suspended, and will likely get a chance to fight for the title he never lost immediately. Cormier took a beating from Gustafsson, it’s likely he’ll need some time off to recover. Off the grid a little is the chance that we might get this match up on UFC 200. The event is 10 months away, but the ensuing pay day for both men is a once in a life time opportunity.
If for some reason the UFC decides to not give Jones an immediate title shot or the timing doesn’t work out, Ryan Bader is the next step. He won his fifth straight on Saturday at UFC 192, beating former champion Rashad Evans. With all of that, Bader and Cormier were scheduled to fight before Cormier was pulled for his title fight at UFC 187. They got into an argument at the Post Fight Press Conference, which sells the fight. If Bader is passed over again, it would be wise for him to take a low risk fight to stay right in the title talks.
I often do these lists months in advance and just update as these guys fight. The present section started with 5 two months ago, and is down to just two. ‘Rumble’ is a winner of 4 of his last 5 in the division, with the lone loss coming to the champ for the vacant belt. His return fight was a solid showing over fellow top ten fighter Jimi Manuwa, in which he won by TKO. Johnson is the guy know if everybody else fails, and another match up with the champion is inevitable.
Another former title challenger, Teixeira is still right there for some big fights. He was a winner of 21 straight fights at one point before losing in a title fight to then champ Jones. He would also lose the ensuing fight to Phil Davis at UFC 179. The Brazilian native is always a threat, and with this division in the state it is now, he could jump ahead and be in another title shot. He should get big time match ups like his fight with Patrick Cummins in order to stay relevant.
The former barista turned ranked Light Heavyweight, Patrick Cummins is a good fighter. While his career started with a loss to the champ in a fill-in role, Cummins has turned into a good pickup for the UFC. He is 4-1 since his debut loss to Cormier and has impressed people with his wrestling. A few more good wins and the right PR could land Cummins a title shot sooner rather later.
Ovince St. Preux
The fromer D1 college football player is making waves as a mixed martial artist. His athleticism and range is what makes him a great fighter, and a couple of big wins is what he needs. He is 6-2 in the UFC with the losses coming to Ryan Bader and Glover Teixeira. I would say two top ten wins and a top 5 win is what it will take for the Tennessee born and bred.
The former BAMMA champion is a top ten guy in the UFC. Despite losing his last fight to the number one contender in Anthony Johnson, Manuwa has lost two of his last 3, but he won his first 14 career fights. We know he can win big fights with big power, but it’s about putting all his skills together. It will take at least 3 big wins to be considered as a title contender.
Shogun Rua and Quinton Jackson
Two true legends of the sport are almost completely out of title talks for good. Rua has lost 5 of his last 8, and Rampage has lost 4 of his last 7 in the Octagon. The fights to make for both of them are fun, nostalgic fights that will get viewers. The match up is to have these two fight again, and let the craziness ensue. Jackson said on The MMA Hour Ep. 300 that his legal troubles with Bellator could prevent him from ever fighting in the cage again.
The division is still Jon Jones’s when he returns. He has some match ups waiting for it, including sellable rematches. Cormier is a formitable champion, and holding down the division well. Besides the Gus, Rumble, Teixiera, Bader, Jones, Cormier bunch, the division is still looking for its next star. Just for fun ,in the case of a Light Heavyweight tournamenrt, here is my rankings; (1)Jon Jones vs. (8)Jimi Manuwa, (2)Anthony Johnson vs. (7)Patrick Cummins, (3)Ryan Bader vs. (6)Ovince St. Preux, (4)Alexander Gustafsson vs. (5)Glover Teixieria
Aldo vs. Lamas 2 and Ponzinibbio vs. Perry Added to UFC Winnipeg
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.
THIS. CARD. pic.twitter.com/bc4AyNncqy
— UFC (@ufc) October 13, 2017
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
Why the UFC Needs to Introduce 165 and 175-pound Weight Divisions
- The debacle that were the UFC 216 weigh-in last Friday further highlighted current weight cutting problems in mixed martial arts.
More specifically in this case it was in the UFC’s lightweight division. A fight between Nik Lentz and Will Brooks was pulled due to Lentz having ‘medical issues’ according to a UFC statement, hours before he was due to weigh-in.
Title challenger Kevin Lee then took to the scale seconds before the deadline and was over the limit by a pound. Fortunately he made weight after being given an extra hour. But these are not isolated cases, especially at 155-pounds.
There isn’t necessarily a solution to this problem but there may be a short term fix in the form of new weight classes approved by the ABC (Association of Boxing Commissions and Combative Sports) in July 2017. These include 165 and 175-pound divisions.
While not specific to the lightweight division, the problems with weight commonly occur there. In March this year, Khabib Nurmagomedov was rushed to hospital during fight week when cutting down for his title contest with Tony Ferguson. Subsequently the UFC 209 main event was cancelled. Khabib has been regularly discussed as a title challenger but he’s often struggled to make weight and failed on numerous occasions.
With drastic dehydration it is still unknown what health implications may effect him and other mixed martial artists in the future.
Some top ranked fighters such as Donald Cerrone, Jorge Masvidal and Rafael Dos Anjos have moved up to the welterweight division to preserve their health from these strenuous cuts, and have all been relatively successful.
However, many fighters are still reluctant and insist on dropping 10-20% of their bodyweight in the hours and days leading up to a bout. For example, Kevin Lee was rumoured to be 19 pounds over the day before he stepped on the scales.
At 170 pounds, welterweight is fifteen pounds more than lightweight which is a noticeable difference between relatively low weight classes. Especially when you consider that the divisions increase ten pounds from as low as 115 up to 155. There are many fighters who find themselves too big to be a lightweight, yet too small to compete at welterweight.
The incidents last Friday should hopefully be a wakeup call to the UFC, who can also set an example for other organisations such as Bellator, One FC, and Cage Warriors.
So far in 2017 the UFC has lost 14 fights in 48 hours or less before they were due to take place. That is one fight every two cards. While weight cutting is not always to blame, more often than not it plays a big role. These situations leave the UFC at a loss, fighters without opponents and a pay check, and fans disgruntled. Not to mention the health implications for the athlete involved.
The UFC must recognise these common patterns, remove the 170 pound welterweight division and create 165 and 175 pound rosters instead. Some may see an additional weight class as devaluing UFC titles even further but this would not be the case.
Recently the women’s featherweight title was created without having a roster of women to fill it. However, the difference with lightweight and welterweight is that they are comfortably the two deepest, most talent stacked divisions in the organisation.
Admittedly, there is a lot of history attached to the welterweight title since Pat Miletich first won it back in 1998. The likes of Matt Hughes and Georges St Pierre have also added prestige to the belt over the years.
Even so, the sport has changed since then and it’s in a transitional phase. We are in the era of USADA, the era of banned IV drips and certain commissions tightening their regulations on how much they allow fighters to safely cut. Everyone is accountable and aware of the dangers, yet steps still need to be taken.
The athletic commissions and the UFC in particular must act by introducing super lightweight (165lbs) and super welterweight (175lbs) divisions. Perhaps from a fighter’s perspective it seems like a no-brainer that their health should be the main priority.
From a fans point of view there is plenty of talent that could be used in those two divisions. The novelty of fighters blending into these classes would also have the feeling of a superfight. The likes of Nurmagomedov, Lee, Masvidal, Cerrone and Dos Anjos would certainly fit well into a 165 pound division.
Similarly, at 175 pounds, Tyron Woodley could transition from welterweight champion to super welterweight champion. Top talents such as Robert Whittaker, Stephen Thompson, Demian Maia and Robbie Lawler would be perfect matches for this weight.
If this was a success then super middleweight (195lbs) and cruiserweight (225lbs) divisions could be an option in future too.
As previously mentioned this won’t necessarily fix the issues of weight cutting but it gives martial artists another option and is a positive step towards fighter’s safety. Currently there has been no mention by the UFC about introducing these new divisions.
However, with fighter safety being of upmost importance these new divisions must be given serious consideration.
James Gallagher out of Bellator 187 in Dublin due to injury
Irish fans will have to wait a little longer to see James Gallagher fighting on home soil after Gallagher suffered a knee injury in preparation for his main event fight with Jeremiah Labiano in Dublin next month. This bad news was first reported by MMAFighting.com.
The 20-year-old from Strabane co. Tyrone who trains in the famous SBG gym with Conor McGregor and Gunnar Nelson among others has set the featherweight division alight since joining Bellator in 2016. James “The Strabanimal” Gallagher has gone 3-0 with all three of his wins coming by rear naked choke.
After submitting Chinzo Machida, the brother of former UFC light heavyweight champion, Lyoto Machida in Madison Square Garden Gallagher has become a budding star for Bellator.
Due to the youngster’s attitude and potential, many comparisons between Gallagher and UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor have been made by the fans and media which has made Gallagher one of Bellator’s most recognizable names. This notoriety has ultimately led to the young Irishman getting a chance to headline in Dublin this November but this injury has delayed his rise for the time being.
Gallagher on social media Thursday stated that he has suffered an injury to his PCL and LCL in his knee and would be out for the remainder of the year. He has assured fans we would return next year and carry on where he started with “The Jimmy show.”
His longtime rival AJ McKee, who has engaged in a Twitter war with Gallagher after his last fight, will now headline Bellator 187 in the 3 Arena in Dublin on November 10th against Gallagher’s SBG teammate Brian Moore. Moore will be making his third appearance for Bellator in this featherweight clash.
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