On the back of a hugely successful International Fight Week in Las Vegas, one would forgive the UFC if they decided to take a week off. Luckily for fight fans, the break lasted all of three days and a rare midweek card took place in Sioux Falls with a battle of bantamweight knockout artists Michael McDonald and John Lineker atop of the show.
The 135-pound division has never looked better in recent months. Former champions like TJ Dillashaw and fresh challengers such as Cody Garbrant have looked to climb to the top of the mountain in search of a lucrative bout with reigning champion Dominick Cruz. Ranked at number eight and number five respectively Lineker and McDonald had a huge chance to showcase their talents in the main event showcase and lay a claim to a potential shot at gold in the coming year.
Originally scheduled to headline the UFC’s maiden show in South Dakota opposite Michael Chiesa, Tony Ferguson would have to settle for a co-main event slot opposite Octagon newcomer Lando Vannata.
The aforementioned Chiesa was forced out of the fight at the end of June with a ruptured disk in his back, which was particularly cruel considering this had been touted as a potential number one contender fight at 155 pounds.
For Ferguson who is currently riding a divisional high seven-fight win streak, it was business as usual and a new opponent in Vannata, a product of Greg Jackson and Mike Winklejohn was drafted in on short notice to face “El Cucuy.”
Having taken this opportunity on short notice Lando did not take long to turn this encounter into a back and forth war. Using head movement he managed to slip and roll through some of Ferguson’s best offense hurting him on two occasions in the first round. Ultimately the significant strikes began to add up for “El Cucuy” as he landed the jab again and again. A huge superman punch rocked Lando early in the second and caused him to make a grave mistake. Dipping his head he ran right into the front headlock a position that Tony has made his own recently. Switching from a guillotine choke to his patented dance choke Ferguson dragged Vannata to the mat and squeezed with everything he had, forcing the tap at two-minute mark of round 2.
Lando opened the round light and fluid on his feet finding the mark with the front leg side kick that is a staple of all Mike Winklejohn trained fighters. A move toward Ferguson’s hips forced a reaction from “El Cucuy” and opened up the right hand that slammed in over the top. It was clear that Vannata was not in Sioux Falls to roll over. Turning swiftly a spinning back kick clattered off Tony’s ribs sparking a reaction. Tony began to go to work with his jab from orthodox and southpaw. Working off the straight punches an inside leg kick found the mark and a hard body kick followed quickly. Another spinning attack from Landan Vannata had Ferguson on wobbly legs as a back fist landed flush to the jaw. Showing his mettle Ferguson responded the only way he knows how by trading punches and gritting it out despite appearing to be in trouble. He landed another jab and a straight right hand. Vannata responded with a teep to the body and incredibly found himself pushing for the finish seconds later. As Tony threw a punch and rolled with it, he met a huge high kick that had the lightweight contender out on his feet. Ferguson managed to survive the onslaught that followed smartly using a heel hook to deter strikes and stay in the fight.
In between rounds Vannata’s corner were extremely happy with how their fighter had performed early on and called for it to continue “Move your head and shock the world.” It was Ferguson who started the stronger of the two however as he once again found his jab landing repeatedly. A leaping right hand from Lando glanced off Ferguson’s head. “Groovy” began to drop his hands to his detriment as Ferguson kept him at range with straight punches that were snapping the head of Vannata back. A big elbow for Ferguson followed the numerous jabs. As Lando moved forward recklessly Tony showed his creativity using the fence to land a superman punch that shook his opponent. Dipping his head to avoid punches Vannata made the mistake of offering up his neck to Ferguson something you should never do. Tony immediately pushed for a guillotine before switching the train of attack to a d’arce choke, the very same submission he snared Edson Barboza with in December. Dragging Lando to the mat he quickly applied pressure and forced the tap to extend his winning run to eight, placing himself firmly in front of the rest of the chasing pack at lightweight.
Tony Ferguson defeats Lando Vannata via submission (Round 2, 2:22)
Cover image: Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC
Gilbert Burns vs. Olivier Aubin-Mercier Added to UFC Orlando
The UFC has now added more bouts to the front end of their 2018 schedule. Gilbert Burns (13-2, 5-2 UFC) will face Olivier Aubin-Mercier (10-2, 6-2 UFC) in Orlando, Florida on February 24th, 2018.
— UFC Canada (@UFC_CA) December 14, 2017
Alongside a few other high-profile fight announcements, is the addition to the UFC Orlando, Florida card. The two lightweights will join Jake Collier and Marcin Prachnio, as the second fight set for the event.
It has been a while since the UFC hosted an event in the state of Florida. Last seen by the Floridians was UFC on Fox: Texeira vs. Evans, on April 16, 2016 in Tampa Bay. The card was a success, despite the cancellation of its planned main event between Tony Ferguson and Khabib Nurmagomedov. Drawing a gate of $1.05 million and 2.13 million viewers.
Gilbert Burns signed with the UFC after accumulating an undefeated record of 8-0. His first loss came in his home country of Brazil, as Rashid Magomedov defeated him via unanimous decision at UFC Fight Night: Belfort vs. Henderson 3, in November of 2015.
In his most recent bout, Burns defeated Jason Saggo by KO with five seconds remaining in the second round at UFC Fight Night: Rockhold vs. Branch.
Aubin-Mercier will come into the contest as a winner in his last three bouts. The Canadian fighter trains out of the Tristar gym, alongside legends such as Georges St. Pierre and head coach, Firas Zahabi.
In 2011, Aubin-Mercier was chosen to compete on The Ultimate Fighter: Nations. Competing in the welterweight bracket, he became a finalist by defeating both, Jake Mathews (unanimous decision) and Richard Walsh (rear naked choke). In the finale, Aubin-Mercier lost to Chad Laprise by split decision.
UFC Orlando will take place at the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida on February 24th, 2018.
Eryk Anders vs. Lyoto Machida Officially Headlines UFC Belem
Eryk Anders vs. Lyoto Machida is officially booked to headline UFC Belem in Brazil.
Following his unanimous decision victory over Markus Perez on last weekends, UFC Fight Night: Ortega vs. Swanson, undefeated middleweight, Eryk Anders, called for the match-up with former UFC light heavyweight champion, Lyoto Machida. The UFC heard, and obliged.
First reported by The MMA Kings (@mma_kings.)
EXCLUSIVE: My sources tell me that Eryk Anders (@erykanders) has gotten his wish. He'll headline UFC Fight Night: Belem against Lyoto Machida (@lyotomachidafw) in Brazil. Ask and you shall receive. #UFC pic.twitter.com/qX62A9qH6k
— The MMA Kings (Nolan King) (@mma_kings) December 14, 2017
Anders holds a 2-0 undefeated record in the UFC. The Alabama native made his promotional debut against Rafael Nata in July of this year. A bout he took on short notice, replacing Alessio di Chirico whom withdrew from the fight due to a neck injury. Anders defeated Natal by knockout in the first round that night at UFC Long Island.
Prior to his indoctrination to MMA, the undefeated middleweight played for the University of Alabama football team, between 2006-2009.
Machida recently returned to the UFC roster after an 18-month suspension handed down by USADA, stemming from a failed out-of-competition test leading up to his April 2016 contest against Dan Henderson.
In his return to the octagon, Machida faced Derek Brunson in the main-event of the UFC Fight Night: Brunson vs. Machida, in Sao Paulo, Brazil. “The Dragon” lost the bout via first round KO.
UFC Belem, Brazil is scheduled for February 3rd, 2018, at the Mangueirinho Arena. The card will also feature the flyweight debut for Valentina Shevchenko as she faces Priscila Cachoeira.
Sensor Equipped Tracking Gloves to be Used at UFC 219
From implementing the likes of USADA, the UFC Performance Instiute and the introduction of the instant replay. The UFC has always prioritized being at the top of the sport science game.
Now, at UFC 219 on December 30th, the Nevada State Athletic Commission has approved a test run for sensor equipped tracking gloves to be worn by a selection of fighters on the card.
The technology behind the gloves comes from AGI International (an analytics company) along with HEED (a consumer platform company). A collaboration founded by the UFC.
After a sparring exhibition between top lightweights, Edson Barbosa (19-4-0) and Mark Diakiese (12-1-0), HEED co-founder Mati Kochavi had this to say regarding how “70 insights” collected from sensors on the gloves, the corner-men, the octagon itself can depict a clearer image of a fight.
“Those insights are covering entire aspects of the fight between Diakiese and Barbose. Their passion, power of the fight, resiliency and strategy. All happen in the octagon.“
Shouldn’t sport be told in real-time, with real data, information and emotions?”
He finally promises “We are a company which is trying to revolutionize the way we (broadcast) sports and live events”
As for now there is little to zero information into the technical aspects of the gloves, however products like a Fit Bit have similar abilities to give data on speed, force, motion, elevation, heart rate etc.
The UFC 219 card takes place on Decemebr 30th at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. It will be headlined by a women’s featherweight title fight between current champion Cris Cyborg (18-1) and former UFC bantamweight champion, Holly Holm (11-3).
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