UFC 203 from Cleveland, Ohio had it’s fair share of weird and sometimes wonderful moments. Ranging from faulty elevators to a fighter throwing a strike at a coach, it was a night that was far from dull. In truth, it was never going to be a ‘normal’ card with the debut of a certain former professional wrestler booked on it.
With MMA, it seems you can never be 100% confident that a fight is going to take place until both combatants have made the walk to the octagon. This was particularly the case with this card. On Monday, just 6 short days away from fight day, the card was 13-strong. However, a someone must have angered the MMA gods, because, by fight night, the fight numbers had diminished to 10. First, Damir Hadzovic was unable to secure a visa, so his proposed fight with Yusuke Kasuya had to be moved to a later card. Then, 2 days later, Ray Borg was taken ill, leading to his fight with Ian McCall being scrapped from the card also. Finally, just this morning, on the day of the event, CB Dollaway was forced out of his bout against Francimar Barroso due to injury; an injury that leads us nicely on to our next topic.
It can be confidently stated that his is a new misfortune to befall a UFC event. It appears as if an elevator in the fighter hotel had some technical issues on the day of weigh-ins. Several fighters, including Urijah Faber and Fabricio Werdum, ended up trapped in said elevator after getting in, only for the cord to snap, resulting in the elevator dropping one floor to the basement. It took around 10 minutes to free those trapped, but it came at a cost to the card. CB Dollaway was injured during the incident which is what ultimately caused his fight to be cancelled. In addition, the elevator issue also contributed to Alistair Overeem arriving late for weigh-ins and being fined $500.
Correia Plays the Heel
Truth be told, whether Bethe Correia wanted to be or not, she was always going to be the villain of the piece in facing Jessica Eye in the latter’s home state. After a close, and frankly, fairly ugly, fight, Correia was declared the winner by split decision and promptly celebrated with an enthusiastic Bethe Correia-style dance. Some deemed it over-celebration of a scrappy win, others that it was merely Correia up to her oold tricks and attempting to rile the crowd. If that was her intention, it certainly worked, as a barrage of boos rained down upon her from all sides.
CM Punk’s Debut
Honestly, everyone had a pretty good idea of roughly how former WWE star CM Punk’s debut would go. It does seem fitting, however, that the man with zero prior fighting experience, be it as a professional or an amateur, would take place on this card. This fight was the third to last on the main card, and featured two fighters in CM Punk and Mickey Gall who had a combined 2 pro bouts between them, with Gall, of course, accounting for both of those. After easily disposing of Punk by submission in the first round, Gall would call out Sage Northcutt and fans were treated to some motivating words from CM Punk.
Werdum vs Browne…….. And Coach Edmund?
The very start of this heavyweight clash continued UFC 203’s strange trend, as Fabricio Werdum flew (almost literally) straight out at Travis Browne with a leaping kick to the face. Had it connected fully, it could have been the fastest knockout in UFC history. Later in the round, Werdum landed a strike that had Browne calling for a timeout and holding his hand, in clear discomfort with what we now know was a dislocated finger. After allowing the doctor to come in and examine Browne, referee Gary Copeland mysteriously restarted the fight, despite the fact that the bout should have been ruled a TKO win for Werdum. The rest of the fight itself was relatively uneventful, which drew the ire of the Cleveland fans.Werdum reacted to the crowd’s disapproval with gestures that Browne’s coach, Edmund Tarverdyan, seemed to react badly too, approaching Werdum while shouting in his direction. The Brazilian responded by throwing a front kcick at Tarverdyan, which caused a mini scuffe that was quickly defused.
Miocic Wins, But Where’s the Tap?
A back and forward encounter between UFC heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic and Alistair Overeem headlined the card. Overeem would drop Miocic early and attempt to finish with a guillotine that Miocic subsequently battled out of. Miocic roared back, hurting Overeem himself before taking his opponent down and knocking him out cold with brutal ground and pound, setting the Cleveland crowd wild. However, in Overeem’s post-fight interview with Joe Rogan, “The Reem” was convinced that Miocic had tapped while in the guillotine. Several replays showed that was not the case, however, desptie Overeem’s insistance, leading to an awkeard-incage moment with the crowd jeering. Rogan would say afterwards that maybe fighters who have just been knocked out should not be subjected to post-fight interviews – something that does not sound like a bad idea at all.
UFC 203 will be remembered for a variety of reasons; for the good, the bad, and largely, the very strange.
Felice Herrig vs. Karolina Kowalkiewicz in the works for UFC 223
UFC 223 looks to add a variety of intriguing bouts. With Paul Felder vs. Al Iaquinta reportedly set for the unannounced UFC 223 card, the promotion looks to add a high stakes female flyweight match-up. According to MMANYTT.com, sources confirmed a bout between Felice Herrig and Karolina Kowalkiewicz, is in the works for the pay-per-view card.
Assuming the match-up does come to be, both women have much to gain from a victory. For Herrig, she currently sits on a four-fight win streak. A streak in which the strawweight contender defeated Kailin Curran, Alexa Grasso, Justine Kish, and Cortney Casey. The MMA veteran, Herrig, began fighting professionally in 2009. As of late, her issues with the marketing machine that is the UFC have intensified.
After demonstrating her technical prowess over Justine Kish at UFC Fight Night 122: Chiesa vs. Lee, Herrig put her emotions on display. She stated at the post-fight media scrum, “Sometimes, I feel like, I’m not young and beautiful enough for the UFC to want to promote me. And it’s sad because I’ve really worked so hard to be here and it’s hard to see these people who’ve not been through what I’ve been through. Who just got into the UFC at the right time. They’re getting all these opportunities and I see how hard I work to get here and it’s just like, it doesn’t matter. I just feel like, ‘I’m not pretty enough and I’m not getting any younger'”.
A frustrated Felice Herrig then spoke to MMAJunkie.com in December. She claimed, “Aside from (former UFC women’s strawweight champ) Joanna (Jedrzejczyk), I’m the only strawweight who’s gone on a four-fight winning streak. That’s a fact. At this point, I want to fight someone in the top 10. It doesn’t really make sense for me to keep fighting girls that are ranked below me. That’s the whole point. If I want to keep working my way up. I fight the most dangerous girls outside the top 10”. The #9 ranked women’s flyweight has a point. In her UFC career, she recorded one loss in six appearances. Yet, she has one co-main event booking, while fighters like Michelle Waterson, booked the main event in her second UFC bout. In Waterson’s third bout, she received a co-main event scheduling. Understandably, Felice Herrig is upset with her situation.
Later in her interview, Herrig brought up Kowalkiewicz as a potential next opponent. “For whatever reason, I really want to fight Karolina. I just think that would be an exciting fight… Stylistically, I really like that fight. She’s ranked above (me), and it may be a good gauge for me,” she stated. Right now, it looks like Herrig is close to getting what she wants.
Kowalkiewicz last fought in her native country of Poland on the UFC Fight Pass card, UFC Fight Night 118: Cowboy vs. Till, in October. The Polish star defeated Jody Esquibel, after losing consecutive contests to former UFC female strawweight champion, Joanna Jedrzejcyk and Claudia Gadelha, respectively.
A win for either makes a good case for the next or an eventual title challenger. Kowalkiewicz holds a victory over current division champion, Rose Namajunas. While a win for Herrig would further establish her impressive win streak and undoubtedly give her the boost in the rankings she deserves.
Douglas Lima found out about change to co-main event at Bellator 192 from the internet
Bellator 192 fight card has gone through a shake-up over the past week. Bellator president Scott Coker revealed last week that the scheduled welterweight title fight between Rory MacDonald and champion Douglas Lima will now be serving as the co-main event and the heavyweight matchup between Chael Sonnen and Rampage Jackson would instead take top billing. At the time no explanation was made for the change. Monday Douglas Lima was a guest on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani to discuss this change.
“I was little bummed, but it is what it is, it’s business you know. I was pretty excited you know? Being the main event, having Rampage fight as the co-main event, I was happy there. Then I was bummed out that they changed it back to the co-main event. It’s not going to change a thing for me, I’m just focusing on the fight.”
Lima has been notoriously looked over in the eyes of fight fans. A longtime member of Bellator and a two-time champion has not gotten the notice he deserves and hopes to get.
“I found out through the internet, nobody tells me anything, I didn’t know. the same thing happened in New York, I thought my fight would be before the two main events there, but it ended up being the first fight of the night on Pay-Per-View. Hopefully, it doesn’t take anything away from the fight, you know spotlight and stuff.”
Lima is looking to make all the naysayers take notice at Bellator 192 that takes place at The Forum in Inglewood, Califonia on January 20th.
“This is the fight I’ve been waiting for for a long time. To get my name out there, to get people to know who I am. I’ve been delivering a lot of good fights, fights fans like to watch but no attention yet. I’m hoping though that after a win over Rory this week it will really put my name out there and show all these welterweights out there that I am for real.”
Al Iaquinta vs. Paul Felder rescheduled for UFC 223 in April
MMA fans around the world wept in deep sorrow when Al Iaquinta withdrew from a bout scheduled for UFC 218 against Paul Felder. Weep no more, for Paul Felder faces Al Iaquinta at UFC 223. Rumblings behind the match-up, first reported by FloCombat.com, came Sunday night before MMAFighting.com confirmed the bout scheduled for unannounced pay-per-view card, later in the evening.
The original bout fell through due to a severe knee injury to Iaquinta. He spoke to BJ Penn Radio about the injury nearly a week before the December 2nd, PPV event in Detriot. The Long Island real estate agent claimed, “I tore my PCL and my MCL maybe three or four months ago… for me to really put in a full training camp and do what I need to do, I would’ve had to just focus on fighting and physical therapy… it was the kind of thing where all roads led to me not kind of taking a risk and fighting on December 2nd”.
Iaquinta went on to say, “I kind of accepted the fight, but I never signed a bout agreement… I was kind of told I had to give them an answer pretty quick. It was a fight I thought I really wanted. I thought it was a good stylistic match-up for me, so I accepted the fight, and then thinking about it over the course of a day, we realized it probably wasn’t a smart decision for my health, for everything”.
An outspoken lightweight, he is not the first of his kind. Al Iaquinta is no stranger to idly waiting on the sideline for the UFC to make a move. Contract disputes and other bad strokes of luck left the Serra-Longo with three octagon appearances since 2015. The feud between Iaquinta and the promotion comes as a surprise when looking at the credentials of the aforementioned fighter. With an octagon record of 8-2, he earned notoriety as one of the best lightweights in the world. During his time in the UFC, he defeated Kevin Lee, Ross Pearson, Joe Lauzon, Jorge Masvidal, and most recently Diego Sanchez.
His opponent, “The Irish Dragon”, Paul Felder, holds an impressive UFC record of his own. At 7-3, Felder defeated tough competition as well. His record notes wins over Daron Cruickshank, Jason Saggo, Stevie Ray, and Charles Oliveira. Even more impressive than his record, his knockout ratio. At this stage of his career, Felder knockouts 55% of his opponents (10 knockouts in 18 career pro bouts).
Like his opponent Iaquinta, Paul Felder has a separate career outside of fighting. As many should notice, Felder found a role as a color commentator with the promotion he fights for. Following the footsteps in a long line of fighters before him, Felder announced multiple events alongside another new addition to the UFC broadcast team, Brendan Fitzgerald.
PPV card, UFC 223 and its location are not official yet. Despite a lack of an announcement, the event takes place in Brooklyn, New York at the Barclays Centre, according to multiple reports. Currently, the card features no official bouts. Reports state Felice Herrig vs. Karolina Kowalkiewicz (per Jim Edwards), and Evan Dunham vs. Mairbek Taisumov (per Farah Hannoun) are both in the works for UFC 223.
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