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“Top of the Food Chain Series” Volume 7: Best ability to absorb strikes

Derek Bowe

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Being able to take punishment in the fight game is an ability which cannot be undersold. Fighters have made careers off the “taking one, to deliver one” strategy of fighting. One key factor to remember when a lot of punishment is absorbed over time, that ability diminishes, and when it goes, it goes quickly. Many retired greats had unfortunately come to realize this toward the end of their careers. Nonetheless, with that said, here we are ranking the most effective at absorbing strikes in mixed martial arts today, let’s enjoy it while it lasts.

#5 Fabio Maldonado, Light Heavyweight, UFC

The Brazilian, Fabio Maldonado opens up the history books in his attempts to mimic the “rope-a-dope” style that the great Muhammad Ali once used so effectively during his storied boxing career to tire foes out before he goes to work offensively. Maldonado has absorbed damage from some very dangerous strikers in his career, yet has only been finished by strikes twice in his thirty total mixed martial arts bouts. One of which came at the hands of Stipe Miocic, a last minute fight Maldonado accepted in the weight division above his own, at heavyweight.

#4 Frankie Edgar, Featherweight, UFC

Frankie Edgar in the smallest fighter on this list, yet has shown he can fare well when up against getting hit with big shots. Most notably was his trilogy against Gray Maynard in which the second and third installments, Frankie Edgar was in major trouble in the first round while getting pummeled with clean power shots from the challenger, Maynard. Each of those fights while weathering a seemingly insurmountable storm in the first round, Frankie bounced back with force, drawing with Maynard in the second fight, while still retaining his lightweight title, and ultimately knocking Maynard out in their third and final meeting after yet another rocky first round. Edgar also stood toe to toe with Jose Aldo, the current sport’s featherweight champion and pound-for-pound number one fighter, taking everything Aldo threw at him over the course of five rounds.

#3 Junior Dos Santos, Heavyweight, UFC

Former heavyweight champion Junior Dos Santos qualifies for this list largely for his role in the two losses to Cain Velasquez where Dos Santos showed incredible ability, and heart to continually take damage when lesser fighters might have succumbed to the punishment. Dos Santos powered through the second fight enroute to losing by decision to Cain Velasquez, then nearly repeated a decision loss to the former champion in their third fight until and technical knockout loss ended his night in the fifth, and final round of the bout. Dos Santos also stood toe to toe with Stipe Miocic and Mark Hunt, two of the more powerful strikers on the heavyweight division, besting the both of them. Hunt by knockout, and Miocic via decision respectively.

#2 Roy Nelson, Heavyweight, UFC

Roy Nelson is a popular fighter, largely due to his “everyman’s” physique which does not suggest he is a professional athlete, even more, an elite one at that. Roy can dish out a load of power himself with his strikes, and he is the perfect example of the afformentioned “take one, to deliver one” strategy. Roy Nelson has been hit with big shots from all the powerful strikers of the heavyweight division, only being finished twice to strikes, once earlier in his career at the hands of contender Andrei Arlovski, and most recent to the frightening power of Mark Hunt. He has stood toe to toe with Junior Dos Santos, Alistair Overeem, Fabrício Werdum, Stipe Miocic, and Mirko Cro Cop. All of which are clinical finishers. This resume easily places Nelson amongst the most resilient.

#1 Diego Sanchez, Lightweight, UFC

Diego Sanchez, The Ultimate Fighter 1 winner at the middleweight division has a chin that is seemingly made of granite. The lightweight has been up against the sport’s best over his thirteen year career. Sanchez over the latter parts of his career has been known to charge in head first into a firefight and absorb huge strikes which leave his opponents bewildered as they are unable to secure a finishing blow on the Albuquerque native. Only twice has Sanchez been finished due to strikes, and one came by way of a knee from Joe Riggs nine years ago, the other due to a doctor stoppage opposite former lightweight champion B.J. Penn in 2009 when Sanchez contested for the title. This wreckless style has made Sanchez a fan favorite, as his fights almost never contain a dull moment. Diego Sanchez absorbs strikes better than any fighter in mixed martial arts today.

Honorable Mentions: Mark Hunt, Benson Henderson, Chan Sung Jung

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Stephen Thompson wants Rafael dos Anjos in contender eliminator bout

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Over the weekend, Rafael dos Anjos defeated Robbie Lawler at UFC Fight Night: Winnipeg, in dominant fashion via unanimous decision. The main event of the Canadian event was Dos Anjos’ third victory in as many fights at welterweight. The former UFC lightweight champion moved up in weight after suffering two consecutive losses. First, relinquishing his championship title to Eddie Alvarez, then falling to current interim lightweight champion, Tony Ferguson. Although the Brazilian had fought at the 155-pound weight limit exclusively in his career, his weight cut in order to reach the lightweight limit is admittedly brutal.

When talking with FloCombat, the top welterweight contender claimed, “It is not worth it [the weight cut] considering the amount I’m earning today. This was one of my motivations to change to welterweight. I don’t need to kill myself and earn this salary.” He further explained the agony of making the weight limit, “I want to avoid those last 15 pounds. That is terror and panic. It’s almost death. I don’t need to face that anymore. I want to fight well and happy, get in there strong and in good shape”.

Now that Dos Anjos has arrived at welterweight with such success, he believes he deserves a shot at Tyron Woodley and the 170-pound belt.

This is a sentiment that UFC president Dana White seems to agree with. At the Toronto press conference, White fielded a question on whether or not the winner of the Lawler vs. Dos Anjos match-up would yield a title contender, “Yup,” he responded. Later in the press event, White further clarified Dos Anjos’ position in the welterweight ranks, “(RDA) just had a great win to get himself back into contention and a win over Robbie Lawler obviously would do it”.

Yet, another top-ranked welterweight does not agree. Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson wants a third crack at welterweight gold, and he believes Dos Anjos is his ticket back to title contention.

What makes this challenge intriguing? The status of current welterweight champion, Tyron Woodley. Last week, Woodley announced on his TMZ show, The Hollywood Beatdown, he would be having surgery. The champion stated, “I’m going to go ahead and get this shoulder repaired. I’ve been saying, ‘You know what, I don’t want to get it cut on, I don’t want to get it repaired.’ But if there’s no fight that really makes a ton of sense for me to take the risk, to not be 100 percent with my shoulder, then I’m going to go ahead and have it repaired. They’re not going to do a full orthopedic rehabilitation, but they’re going to do a scope and they’re going to anchor down some sides. Then I’m going to get some PRP (platelet-rich plasma), some stem cells.” A timetable for his return is not readily available.

As the division stands, the truly deserving of the next welterweight title shot would be either Thompson or Dos Anjos. The recent credentials of both garner such status. Thompson most recently defeated rising contender, Jorge Masvidal at UFC 217. Before his early November victory over Masvidal, the undefeated kick-boxer challenged for the belt twice, consecutively. While he was unsuccessful in both attempts to earn the belt, each fight was extremely close. The first of which, scored a majority draw.

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Events

*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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Fight Announcements

Gilbert Burns vs. Olivier Aubin-Mercier Added to UFC Orlando

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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.

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.

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