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The Morning After: UFC London

Matthew Wells

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In those first groggy moments when you’re not quite sure if you’ve checked back into reality and your body is auto-running a full systems check before your first major movement from your location of slumber, you begin to realize morning has arrived. You start to replay the occurrences of the previous night, hoping to recall everything that occurred before your body ultimately decided to shut down all conscious functions for the evening. With your mind and body now in sync, there’s only one question to be answered before proceeding with the day ahead. What did I learn from last night?

While this may sound like a process that occurs after a night filled with alcohol and bad decisions during a weekend in college, this has nothing to do with a frat party. These are slightly-more-clear-headed thoughts recorded after the event that was UFC London. Welcome to The Morning After.

The lasting image of the night before was the main event of UFC Fight Night London which featured two iconic figures in mixed martial arts. Yes, Michael Bisping is indeed an icon in this sport. Not for a spectacular skill set or a career that transcended the sport, but he achieves this status for being the first to carry the torch for his home country and his ability to display a true fighting spirit every time he competes. When you face Bisping, you know you’re in for a grind (and he’s going to verbally destroy you before stepping into the cage too). Anderson Silva is an icon for completely different reasons. He’s the guy with the insane skillset who changed the game with his abilities. He’s the guy who people try to emulate in training the next day after his highlight knockouts. He’s the guy who still holds the record for the longest title run in his division’s history. When you face The Spider, you expect to be taunted, and you try to not end up on a highlight reel.

Did Michael Bisping win the fight or did Anderson Silva give the fight away?

This question is answered somewhere after the chaos that was the closing moments of the third round. While trying to point out to referee Herb Dean that his mouth piece had fallen out, Michael Bisping took his eyes off his opponent. Dean says, “Keep going, fight!” just before Anderson launches himself forward with a flying knee that would send Bisping to the canvas. Anderson Silva has always been the walk-off guy. If he lands a solid, clean strike to make you drop, he’s going to watch you fall.

Insert mass confusion here.

As Bisping hits the canvas, the horn sounds signifying the end of the round. As Anderson walks away, Herb Dean begins talking to Bisping. It’s understandable why Anderson thought the fight was over at this point, thus, he began celebrating. “I didn’t stop the fight,” Dean said to Bisping. “The fight’s not over,” Dean continued to explain to Bisping who was on the canvas with his back against the cage, yet actively talking to Dean. Herb would repeat the same message to Silva and his corner. As Bisping’s corner was tending to their fighter, Silva’s corner was trying to stop the celebration and explain he had to fight on into the fourth round.

About one minute and twenty seconds pass before Herb Dean signals to the timekeeper and asks Bisping if he’s good to fight before starting the round. This one minute and twenty seconds of time make the fight. Bisping spent 100% of that time recovering. To no fault of anyone other than his own, Anderson only received 12 seconds of attention from his corner, while the rest was spent celebrating, causing an adrenaline dump from thinking the fight was over. Dan Hardy spoke on the idea of the adrenaline dump during the post-fight show. While we can’t know for certain if this was the case, it’s an intriguing point. In the fourth round, a round in which you would expect Silva to come out and try to quickly end the fight, was Anderson trying to get back in the groove from a dump of adrenaline?

Regardless, after re-watching the fourth round with no outside influences from commentating or Twitter, Bisping certainly deserved the 10 on the scorecards. It’s a testament to the will of Michael Bisping to recover from the flying knee at the end of the third and then do enough to win the following round. This is something that should be commended and celebrated.

Opportunities were seemingly present in the fifth round for Silva to end the fight. The ending never happened due to his own lack of aggression, the toughness of Bisping, or perhaps something that lies somewhere in between. For fans of Anderson Silva, the frustration of knowing he can end the fight and then not doing so reared its ugly head once again. If Anderson wants to prove that he his still the most elusive fighter, employing his Wing Chun techniques, (which are incredibly impressive but won’t end many fights alone), then fans have to accept that Anderson seems to enjoy spending a lot of time in the cage testing his defensive abilities rather than ending fights.

The final takeaway from last night’s event was something that became an afterthought as we became locked in on the main event: This fight took place on UFC Fight Pass. How amazing was that? Aside from the #FightPassRemix that took place during the Tom Breese fight, having this card stream online was an incredible idea and should only get you excited about future fights that will take place live on the platform versus Pay Per View. The most viewed fight and fight card in Fight Pass history certainly delivered on all levels.

Congratulations to Michael Bisping for fighting the fight of his life and earning the win he’s wanted on his record for such a long time. Well earned and certainly well deserved.

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Announcement

Felice Herrig vs. Karolina Kowalkiewicz in the works for UFC 223

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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.

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Bellator

Douglas Lima found out about change to co-main event at Bellator 192 from the internet

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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.”

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Fight Announcements

Al Iaquinta vs. Paul Felder rescheduled for UFC 223 in April

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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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