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The Morning After UFC 196 – A Tale of Two Chokes

Matthew Wells

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The events that took place at UFC 196 will have a lasting image on the mixed martial arts world for quite some time. A brash, seemingly invincible world-beater was knocked down a peg, while a championship belt migrated to a new owner, validating a career of a fighter who has given so much to the sport.

Immediately at the conclusion of the main event, I officially dubbed the event “UFC 196 – A Tale of Two Chokes”. While the title is an obvious nod to the back-to-back rear naked choke submission victories in the co-main and main event, it could also serve as a pun for the shortcomings of the competitors who left without their hand raised.

Did Holly Holm “choke”? Obviously, in a literal sense, yes. She went out on her shield without tapping from the choke applied by the now-champion Miesha Tate, but did she “choke” in terms of making one huge mistake that cost her the fight in the closing moments? It is debatable, yet perhaps even more interesting is the thought of what would happen if Tate was unable to find a finish and instead won the final round 10-9 on the judges scorecard: The fight would have been declared a draw.

We could have witnessed the first draw in a championship bout since Frankie Edgar vs. Gray Maynard at UFC 125. Going into the 5th round, Holly Holm was up three rounds to one, however that one round was a 10-8 in favor of Miesha Tate on all three judges’ scorecards. If Tate went on to earn a 10-9 in the final frame, the fight would have been declared a draw. Could you imagine the fallout of a draw in this situation? What would that have done to Miesha’s career? Would she have been given a rematch, or would she have been passed over for the Holly Holm vs. Ronda Rousey rematch? For Miesha’s sake, these questions do not have to be answered. A patient, collected performance prevailed at the end of the day, ironically, the same attributes of a performance that allowed Holly Holm to remove the belt from Rousey’s grasp. Miesha’s game plan was simple; do not over-commit and take advantage of the rare openings that Holm gives. Just when you thought Miesha’s only shining moment would be the second round, seemingly out of nowhere she was able to take advantage of an opening that would eventually lead to the rear-naked choke submission.

It simply feels right that Tate can officially call herself UFC Champion. After playing second fiddle to Rousey for so many years, to almost retiring after being passed over for a title shot in 2015, the determination and patience she has shown inside and out of the cage have finally paid off. Interestingly enough, we find ourselves in a Daniel Cormier/Jon Jones situation now with Tate winning the strap without going through Rousey to get it. Expect that to be the theme in the build-up to their impending third matchup.

The main event of the evening surely could not surpass the drama of a title-changing fifth-round submission, could it? Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz certainly had a tough act to follow. Not only would the main event deliver in terms of excitement, the result of the bout would seemingly ruin a lot of plans for the near future and also change the outlook on the sport as a whole.

Strip away all of the hype and swagger that both individuals carry with them and what we had in the main event was a featherweight squaring off against a lightweight at the welterweight limit on two week’s notice. At the core, should we be surprised that the smaller man could not get it done? While the matchup was not exactly David vs. Goliath, the fight was another opportunity for weight-cutting practices to be questioned if the smaller man could step into the cage and prevail. We have already seen a shift in those beliefs from some fighters who are no longer willing undergo extreme weight cuts, and in some cases, the choice is made for the fighter based on rules set in place. Being very much a copycat sport, this was an opportunity for Conor McGregor to potentially influence other fighters to take a chance at a higher weight class.

This was also an opportunity for McGregor to begin his path of multi-division destruction. The hype train would have been traveling full steam ahead with a win at UFC 196 over Diaz, setting up a ridiculous matchup against Robbie Lawler at UFC 200 for the Welterweight Championship.

In all fairness, it is not as if Conor went out there and was dominated by the bigger man. Perhaps with a little more patience and a better strategy, things would be very different right now. Conor won the first round and was winning the second until his nonchalant defensive strategy backfired when Nate rocked him with a solid left, which would soon lead to the end of the fight. Nate was able to take everything Conor gave him, which came as a surprise to the Irishman, who is used to seeing his opponents break after feeling his power.

It should be of little surprise that Conor’s power was not as effective against the bigger Diaz. Anyone looking at the fight objectively beforehand knew Conor would have a speed advantage, but the tradeoff would be a loss of power. The difference in ground game skills need not be mentioned, as proven by the result of the fight. Nate Diaz performed incredibly well given the circumstances of this fight without a full training camp. He took home the largest payday of his career by a large margin for his performance. Nate also may have earned himself a crack at the Lightweight Championship when Rafael dos Anjos is healthy.

The loss for McGregor should have very little impact on his career projection, and if anything, solidified his legacy as a competitor. Conor showed up to take on a huge challenge, to not only keep a pay-per-view card intact but to also test his skills by proving that he can compete against anyone at any weight. Even though the experiment failed and lessons were learned, McGregor proved he is willing to step in the cage against anyone, regardless of the circumstances. Let us not forget, Nate Diaz was not the only one taking a fight on two week’s notice.

The matchup was certainly high-risk for both men, but the key takeaway is simply this: they both showed up to fight. This is something fans and fighters alike should appreciate. Instead, there were many attacking McGregor as well as Holm for their losses. It is an ugly trend that needs to change. People cannot wait to validate their own mediocrity through the failures of someone else.

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5 Things We Learned from UFC on Fox 26: Lawler vs Dos Anjos

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The UFC’s return to Winnipeg in over 4 years certainly did not disappoint the fans, as the card delivered just as it was expected with plenty of action packed fights.

Upset was in play often times for this card as on more than one occasion, the fans’ jaws dropped in shock and the predictions going into the fights were completely defied.

There are plenty of things to take away from this card, but what were the 5 biggest lessons learned here?

1. Rafael dos Anjos means business at welterweight

While Vegas odds may not have reflected it, dos Anjos had plenty of doubters coming into this fight on whether he could beat the top fighters in the welterweight division, his new found home. I’ll be the first to say, I didn’t think he’d be able to deal with Lawler’s power and size, considering that ‘Ruthless’ used to compete at middleweight, but he completely changed my perspective on what he brings to this division.

With the mix of powerful leg kicks and crisp boxing, dos Anjos completely neutralized the former welterweight champion and took home a dominant victory, winning all five rounds of the fight.

Yes, Lawler was injured and barely moved for the last three rounds, but that should not discredit the masterful performance that dos Anjos had tonight. This only sets up a fight with the current champion Tyron Woodley now (unless Colby Covington gets it), and while Woodley is a whole different match up, it makes for an entertaining fight.

2. Robbie Lawler is still one of the toughest fighters on the roster

Despite both his legs looking like they were completely destroyed by the third round and him losing the fight, we once again saw the toughness and grit of Lawler to never give up.

While we don’t know how bad his injury was, when you see Lawler not moving much and standing still for three rounds straight, you know something is seriously hurting. He endured an unbelievable amount of punishment tonight but at the end was still standing pumping up the crowd. What a warrior.

3. Josh Emmett… the new force to be reckoned with at 145lbs?

Simply no words. It was easily the biggest shocker of the night and maybe even upset of the year. Stepping in on relatively short notice for Jose Aldo, Emmett was counted out in this fight on paper against the former title challenger Ricardo Lamas, and weighing in at 148.5lbs on the scale didn’t help convincing the fans.

It’s My Time!

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But it definitely didn’t matter as he delivered a left hook from hell, sleeping Lamas at the end of the first round, sending a shock to the entire division and rising as a new threat to everyone in top 10. He said that his goal here was to shock the world, and shock the world he did. With this performance, Emmett immediately rises to a position where he now only needs one or two more significant wins from a possible title shot.

4. Mike Perry needs some time to develop into a title contender

Despite showing an unbelievable toughness in a three-round war against Santiago Ponzinibbio, Perry was unable to back up his words before the fight, losing via unanimous decision.

In a fight against a very tough opponent, Perry was once again exposed in a couple of areas as he was against Alan Jouban on his endurance, as he showed signs of fatigue as the second round came around. At the age of 26, he still has plenty of time, but Perry will need to fill that massive hole in order to continue to rise the ladder in the extremely stacked welterweight division, or else he’ll run into some trouble sooner or later.

5. Glover Teixeira isn’t done just yet

This fight was an excellent example of advantages a veteran brings compared to a young and upcoming fighter. Teixeira, coming off that tough loss in Sweden against Alexander Gustafsson, was also doubted by many as he came in as the underdog against a rising prospect in Misha Cirkunov.

Teixeira was put in immediate trouble in the first round, getting tagged by Cirkunov multiple times and getting backed up against the cage, but was able to outsmart Cirkunov by dragging him down to the ground and eventually pounding him out. Teixeira seemed to have lost all momentum against Anthony Johnson, and even more so against Gustafsson, but this fight proved that he is not done just yet, and showed the difference in level between the top 5 and top 10 of the division.

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*Live Updates* UFC Winnipeg Official Results

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The UFC returns to Canada for the final Fight Night card of 2017. In the cold of Winnipeg, Manitoba, the UFC will host eleven of the originally twelve scheduled fights. Unfortunately, Tim Elliot will not fight in the north country. His scheduled opponent, Pietro Menga, a newcomer to the promotions roster, failed to make weight after taking the bout with just over a weeks notice.

An exciting main card will be capped off with a potential contender eliminator bout featuring, Robbie Lawler and Rafael Dos Anjos. The former champions (Lawler at welterweight, Dos Anjos at lightweight) both put together impressive win streaks which dispatched top contenders in their respective divisions. Elsewhere on the main card, Santiago Ponzinibbio takes on the outspoken Mike Perry.

The card begins on UFC Fight Pass at 4:30/1:30 ETPT.

UFC Winnipeg Official Results:

MAIN CARD – FOX – 8PM/5PM ETPT

  • #2 Robbie Lawler (28-11) vs. #4 Rafael Dos Anjos (27-9) – Welterweight bout
    • Result: Rafael Dos Anjos def. Robbie Lawler via unanimous decision (50-45, 50-45, 50-45)
  • #3 Ricardo Lamas (18-5) vs. Josh Emmett (12-1) – Catchweight bout (148.5 lbs)
    • Result: Josh Emmett def. Ricardo Lamas via KO (punch) 4:33 round 1
  • #10 Santiago Ponzinibbio (25-3) vs. Mike Perry (11-1) – Welterweight bout
    • Result: Santiago Ponzinibbio def. Mike Perry via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
  • #3 Glover Teixeira (26-6) vs. #7 Misha Cirkunov (13-3) – Light Heavyweight bout
    • Result: Glover Teixeira def. Misha Cirkunov via TKO (punches) 2:45  round 1

PRELIMINARY CARD – FS1 – 5PM/2PM ETPT

  • #14 Jared Cannonier (10-2) vs #15 Jan Blachowicz (20-7) – Light Heavyweight bout
    • Result: Jan Blachowicz def. Jared Cannonier via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
  • Julian Marquez (6-1) vs. Darren Stewart (7-2) – Middleweight bout
    • Result: Julian Marquez def. Darren Stewart via submission (standing guillotine) 2:42 round 2
  • Chad Laprise (13-2) vs. Galore Bofando (5-2) – Welterweight bout
    • Result: Chad Laprise def. Galore Bofando via TKO (punches) 4:10 round 1
  • Nordine Taleb (13-4) vs Danny Roberts (14-2) – Welterweight bout
    • Result: Nordine Taleb def. Danny Roberts via KO (head kick and punch) :59 round 1
  • John Makdessi (14-6) vs Abel Trujillo (15-7) – Lightweight bout
    • Result: John Makdessi def. Abel Trujillo via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
  • Alessio Di Chirico (10-2) vs Oluwale Bamgbose (6-3) – Middleweight bout
    • Result: Alessio Di Chirico def. Oluwale Bamgbose via KO (knee) 2:14 round 2

EARLY PRELIMINARY CARD – UFC FIGHT PASS – 4:30PM/1:30PM ETPT

  • Jordan Mein (29-12) vs. Erick Silva (19-8) – Welterweight bout
    • Result: Jordan Mein def. Erick Silva via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-27, 30-26)
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Ladies Fight Night 7: “Double Trouble” Preview

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Polish women’s federation Ladies Fight Night is going to celebrate their second birthday this year on the 15th to 17th of December. Two days, two events with a lot of great bouts.

LFN in Poland is being titled the new Invicta FC. The Polish owners created this federation to give European women a chance to fight on a big platform.

Hosting their first ever event in December 2015, LFN will hold two great cards next week, that will feature women who have fought under many prestigious promotions, such as the UFC, Invicta, Bellator, Glory, and Kunlun.

Two days of fantastic fights, intensified by a double dose of sports impressions. The name is not accidental, LFN 7 / LFN 8 combines two events, during which the best Polish fighters will be shown, as well as the best fighters from Europe (including France, Sweden, Italy, the Czech Republic and Romania)

The stakes are high, and we are electrified by the clashes between warriors such as Żaneta Cieśla vs Silvia La Notte and Patricia Axling vs. Cindy Silvestri. Mainly due to their vastness of their experience in the cage.

In the fight of the evening, the talented Romanian Cristina Stanciu will face Magdaléna Šormovádo. Stanciu fought twice in the UFC, but she was unfortunately cut from the promotion after suffering consecutive losses to Cortney Casey and Maryna Moroz.

Judyta Rymarzak vs Marta Waliczek is an amazing fight between two experienced kickboxers. Both making their pro MMA debuts on the night, we will witness a one-of-a-kind duel between two kickboxing perfectionists, as they look to transcend their skills into the MMA world.

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