The Welterweight division was completely flipped when Tyron Woodley took the title at UFC 201 with a first-round knockout of Robbie Lawler. One of the deepest divisions in the UFC keeps getting deeper with the new champion as the new look at the top brings in exciting matchups. The call-out of former title challenger Nick Diaz during the post-fight interview by Woodley shows the fans, and the UFC brass, where his mind is as a champion. Many guys could earn their way to a title shot in the next couple of months, all with eyes on that coveted gold strap.
The Champion –Tyron Woodley
Many wrote Tyron Woodley off against Robbie Lawler. It was seen as a setup bout for bigger fights against other guys. The 18 month wait he took to cash in on being promised the title shot worked in his favor after he beat Lawler by first-round knockout to capture the belt. He took the opportunity with all eyes on him to call out Nick Diaz for a fight at UFC 202. While that timetable was not going to be met, a fight with Diaz and Woodley would do big numbers. Many others have ‘deserved’ the shot more, but many thought the same when Woodley got his title shot.
While many can claim to have earned their title shot, no one can take that claim away from “Wonderboy”. Seven straight wins and two top 3 wins undoubtedly have a lot of pull for the Karate style fighter, but the big fight Woodley wants may see him wait for his shot or take another fight. If the fight with Woodley can’t come together, a fight with Lawler, Kelvin Gastelum, or Neil Magny (if he can get past Lorenz Larkin) would be the match-ups to move forward in the division.
The one-time Middleweight title challenger has put together a nice run in the 170-pound division. Five straight wins and 8 of 10 in the Welterweight division puts Maia one or two fights away from getting a title shot in his second division. He has wins in his career over great fighters and is set for a fight with three-time title challenger Carlos Condit at UFC on Fox 21. A win over Condit, especially a finish, gives the Brazilian that one top 5 win every title challenger needs.
What many believe should be the current champion after his close decision with Robbie Lawler at UFC 195 is just a contender for the time being. After flirting with retirement after 39 career fights, Condit will return as the headliner at UFC on Fox 21 against Maia. He earned his stripes in the division when he won the Interim belt against Nick Diaz at UFC 143. Despite losing the unification bout, he has stayed at the top of the division with well-timed wins to earn his title shot at UFC 195. With the fight being so close at UFC 195, a win over Maia places ‘The Natural Born Killer’ inside that bubble of immediate title contenders.
The workhorse of the division happens to also be one of the best fighters. Eleven fights inside 25 months have seen Magny win 10 of those fight, each coming over bigger and bigger opponents. After seven straight wins, a loss to Maia set him back very little as he has three consecutive wins right after. His fight with Lorenz Larkin at UFC 202 is the longest time between fights for Magny since his first and second UFC fights. A win at UFC 202 isn’t the one to gain Magny a title shot but puts him closer and available for bigger opponents in the near future.
Despite losses to Lawler and Thompson in his last two, MacDonald is still among the top tier at 170. At just 27 years old, MacDonald has a lot of fight time left to regain his form. While not currently under contract, one of the best fighters in the Welterweight division has spent the majority of his professional career with the UFC. If he chooses to return to the UFC, fights with anyone inside the top 10 is a step in the right direction to get back on track for a title run.
The Ultimate Fighter Season 17 winner is a real threat as long as he can comfortably make 170 pounds. After five straight wins, he lost a fight to champion Tyron Woodley after missing weight badly at UFC 183. He is 2-2 in his last four but looked fantastic in his last two fights against Neil Magny (decision loss) and former champion Johny Hendricks (decision win). At just 24 years old, Gastelum has a lot of room, and time, for improvement. Big fights await the young star and a title shot could be right around the corner with multiple big wins.
The other Irishman goes about his business much different from his teammate Conor McGregor. The seasoned grappler already has six UFC at 28 years old, including submission wins over Brandon Thatch and Albert Tumenov. With his striking prowess (Brown belt in Karate) and grappling mastery, it won’t be long before ‘Gunni’ is a top Welterweight. Fights against fellow top 15 fighters will keep Nelson in the hunt for the title he wants so badly.
The Russian fighter has some of the best boxing in the division as a National Master in Boxing and Hand-to-Hand combat. Five straight wins were cut short after he was submitted by Gunnar Nelson back at UFC: Rotterdam in May. He’s another young prospect in one of the deepest divisions at just 24 years old, a lot of time to sure up the parts of his game that need work. A win in his next fight will do great things for him going forward, followed up by a ranked fight after.
The former title challenger was called out by champion Tyron Woodley after his title win at UFC 201. He’s worth mentioning not just because of the call-out, but also because he brings fans in to watch events. Despite losing his last three fights, despite being caught with inflated levels of marijuana in his system, Diaz continues to be around the top of a division he has not fought in since 2013.
Georges St. Pierre
The long-time champion who never lost his belt has been hinting at a return for quite some time. The title he held for the better part of seven years is now in the hands of Tyron Woodley who says he wants the money fights. A fight with Woodley in New York City is the money fight he is looking for but is all contingent on whether GSP is ready to return to the division he dominated for years.
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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