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State of the Middleweight Division

Vinny Craig

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Champion

Luke Rockhold

UFC 194 proved to be the new champion day as Luke Rockhold joined Conor McGregor as being crowned a new champion. Despite cellulitis in his leg, Rockhold was able to go three and a half hard rounds with Chris Weidman and ultimately finish the champion in the fourth. Rockhold has a target on his back now as the champion and everyone is training for him. It only gets more difficult for the champion here as talent after talent is on its way for his title.

Next In Line

Yoel Romero

We’ve heard it a thousand times on broadcasts, embedded, etc. ‘Never leave it in the hands of the judges’ is what we hear. My scorecards had ‘Jacare’ winning the fight with Romero, but the people who get paid to do it did not see it that way. Romero will most likely get a title shot off that win with ‘Jacare’ not far behind with his performance. It has come out that the Cuban was sick during the fight and we should expect a better Yoel next time around. I would say the fight happens around May or June.

The Present

Chris Weidman

The now former champion was beaten by a worthy opponent who just outworked him. Weidman will be back and will be in title talks for awhile, but for now should focus on getting better and picking up some wins to add to his resume. I will pick him against almost anyone in the division, including the champion at this point.

‘Jacare’ Souza

Jacare impressed me with his performance at UFC 194, but apparently did not impress the judges. The very close decision loss leaves him exactly where he started in my book and could lead him to a title sooner rather than later. Before then, good fights loom for him with guys like Weidman, Machida, Whitaker and even Uriah Hall.

Robert Whitaker

Speaking of Robert Whitaker, the Australian native is showing up on the presents list now. His win over Uriah Hall was dominant and seems to be poised to make a run. It helps that Middleweight is deep in a weird way in that most guys can’t make title runs right now, but are rather past those points or not there yet.

The Future

Derek Brunson

Brunson has set himself up very well to be a threat in this division with his win over Sam Alvey in Nashville. His next matchup with a fellow top 15 guy will prove to be pivotal in his next step towards the title or even his next step towards more prominent fights with bigger names.

Sam Alvey

Alvey had three straight KO/TKO wins before losing to Derek Brunson, but still is someone guys shouldn’t want to mess with in the division. He could put anyone down at anytime, and I see big things in his future. ‘Smile’ N’ has flaws and will definitely need some work, but he’s on his way to getting there.

Uriah Hall

I feel bad for having to put Uriah Hall here with all the talent he has, but he just seems to come up short when it counts. His highlight reel KO’s can only amount to so much before he’s not relevant to the title picture anymore. He’s flirting with that line, and is every so close as to going over to the dark side.

Long Shot

Way too many guys are hanging on in this division with their past accomplishments leading them forward. I enjoy the likes of Lyoto Machida, Vitor Belfort, Dan Henderson and Michael Bisping, but I don’t see these guys near title shots anytime soon. With their age, I could see these next years being their last hoorahs inside the octagon for these guys. The guard has changed to a much younger crowd of Middleweights and the talent pool is filling with young, vibrant and exciting fighters on the horizon.

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Ovince Saint Preux Steps in to Face Corey Anderson at UFC 217

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UFC 217 just got even more interesting. Earlier this week, Patrick Cummins pulled out of his light heavyweight matchup with Corey Anderson due to a Staph infection. Corey “Overtime” Anderson was not happy with his opponents decision, even calling out his opponent on Instagram asking how Cummins could, “call it quits so far from fight night”.

The UFC left Anderson on the card, and he found an opponent through the magic of Twitter. Ovince Saint Preux tweeted out directly to Anderson stating:

It didn’t take long for Anderson to respond agreeing to the fight, tagging Mick Maynard and Dana White in his response.

Only a few short hours later, the fight announcement came from the official UFC twitter account.

 

This top 10 Light Heavyweight matchup should add to an already amazing card coming in November at Madison Square Garden. Saint Preux is coming off of back to back wins both due to the very rare von flue choke, he finds himself ranked #7th in the latest edition of the 205-pound rankings. Corey “Overtime” Anderson is 4-2 in his last 6 fights, but is coming off a brutal first round knockout loss to Jimi Manuwa in March.

With such a exciting fight added to this card, what do you see happening November 4th?  Will Corey Anderson bounce back and look to jump into the top 5 of the rankings, or will Ovince Saint Preux go for a third straight von flue choke? Let us know.

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*Watch* Bellator 185 Weigh in: Live Stream, Results

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Watch the live weigh-ins for Bellator 185 here.

Gegard Mousasi takes on Alexander Slemenko live this Friday night October 20th at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville CT. This is the first appearance for Mousasi in the Bellator cage as he looks to secure a title shot with a win over the very tough former Bellator champion Slemenko. Joining these men of the main card will be a pair of welterweights as Neiman Gracie from the famous Gracie BJJ family takes on Zak Bucia in the co-main event.

Full Weigh-in Results: (Updated in real time)

Main Card:

Gegard Mousasi (185) vs. Alexander Shlemenko (186)
Neiman Gracie (170.5) vs. Zak Bucia (170)
Heather Hardy (126) vs. Kristina Williams (126)
Ryan Quinn (155.5) vs. Marcus Surin (155)
Ana Julaton (125.5) vs. Lisa Blaine (122)

Preliminary Card:

Jordan Young (200) vs. Alec Hooben (194)
Costello van Steenis (185) vs. Steve Skrzat (186)
Vinicius de Jesus (170) vs. Joaquin Buckley (171)
John Beneduce (154.5) vs. Dean Hancock (155)
Timothy Wheeler (144) vs. Pete Rogers (144)
Don Shainis (150) vs. Matthew Denning (149)
Frank Sforza (149) vs. Vovka Clay (150)
Kevin Carrier (156) vs. Jose Antonio Perez (153)
John Lopez (126) vs. Billy Giovanella (125)

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Bellator

Bellator 185 Fight to Watch: Heather Hardy vs. Kristina Williams

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Heather Hardy will compete in MMA for the second time at Bellator 185 on Friday night, as she faces Kristina Williams in a strawweight contest. The fight takes place on the main card at the Mohican Sun Arena in Connecticut.

Potentially, what Bellator have in Heather ‘The Heat’ Hardy is a major draw that they can build their 125 pound division around. While relatively new to the organisation she is fast becoming one of the more popular names on the roster. Her career is in the early stages, but many have already started to draw comparisons with former boxer turned MMA star, Holly Holm. Holm’s UFC success partly inspired the native New Yorker to make the switch from boxing.

Hardy is already an established world champion in the land of the ‘sweet science’, holding a 21 fight undefeated professional record. She made her MMA debut in June this year with a victory over Alice Yauger, at Bellator 180. At 35, Hardy is a late starter in the sport, but proved at Madison Square Garden against the credible Yauger that she has a bright future.

Hardy’s first outing in the cage was disciplined and composed. Despite a slow start in round one, Hardy grew in confidence as the fight progressed and her cardio never faltered. She mixed in plenty of kicks that complimented her boxing and looked at ease in the clinch, even defending a couple of takedown attempts in the process.

Despite looking on course for a decision win, Hardy forced the TKO stoppage with just thirteen seconds remaining in round three. Even a large cut that required seven stitches from an accidental head clash could not deny her victory.

Hardy was fighting an experienced professional, competing for the tenth time in MMA, which makes the win over Yauger more impressive. However, her upcoming opponent Kristina Williams will be making her professional debut.

There is little known about Williams except that she is 3-0 at amateur level. One of those wins came by way of submission so there may well be a threat to Hardy if the fight goes to the ground. More importantly for Williams is how she copes on the big stage against a popular opponent, who is more familiar competing in high pressure combat situations. If Williams can produce an upset it will be a huge boost in her young career.

But in all honesty, this fight is about Hardy. It’s about getting the win and gaining valuable experience. The boxing career is on hold while MMA takes centre stage. Beating Williams will mean she likely continues fighting inside a cage rather than a boxing ring.

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