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TUF 23 Finale Preview

Vinny Craig

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The Ultimate Fighter has been a staple of the UFC since it was first introduced in 2005 with its first season. 12 years and 23 seasons later, we get our first ever title fight between coaches at the finale. The biggest weekend in MMA continues along with TUF 23 Finale on Friday night July 8 with the Strawweight title fight headlining the event.

This season of TUF saw 8 Women’s Strawweight and 8 Light Heavyweight competitors in the same house. Wrestlers, boxers, Muay-Thai, and submission grapplers alike made the season very enjoyable to watch. The fierce rivalry between coaches Joanna Jedrzejczyk and Claudia Gadelha as they tried to get into each other’s head made this one of my favourite seasons to watch as a viewer.

Main Card- Fox Sports 1 (10 PM EDT, 7 PM PDT, 3 AM GMT)

Strawweight: (c)Joanna Jedrzejczyk vs. Claudia Gadelha- for the UFC Strawweight title

Light Heavyweight: Andrew Sanchez vs. TBD- TUF 23 Light Heavyweight tournament finale

Strawweight: Amanda Cooper vs TBD- TUF 23 Strawweight tournament finale

Lightweight: Ross Pearson vs. Will Brooks

Featherweight: Doo Ho Choi vs. Thiago Tavares

Lightweight: Joachim Silva vs. Andrew Holbrook

 

Preliminary Card- Fox Sports 1(8 PM EDT, 5 PM PDT, 1 AM GMT)

Featherweight: Gray Maynard vs. Fernando Bruno

Flyweight: John Moraga vs. Mattheus Nicolai

Middleweight: Cezar Ferreira vs. Anthony Smith

 

Early Preliminary Card- UFC Fight Pass (7 PM EDT, 4 PM PDT, 12 AM GMT)

Lightweight: Jake Matthews vs. Kevin Lee

Welterweight: Li Jianliang vs. Anton Zafir

 

Jake Matthews vs. Kevin Lee

The UFC Fight Pass feature fight has been a big spot for veterans and prospects alike to get exposure on the UFC’s platform. The feature fight for this card is Australia’s own Jake Matthews (10-1 MMA; 4-1 UFC) against Michigan’s own Kevin Lee (12-2; 5-2).

Matthews was on TUF: Nations as part of the Australia team against the Canadian side in the Welterweight bracket. He made his UFC debut at Lightweight in his home country of Australia where he beat Dashon Johnson by Triangle choke. After a Rear-Naked choke over Vagner Rocha, he suffered the first loss of his career in one of the year’s best cards in Australia when he was finished by James Vick in the first round by a Guillotine choke. He has come back with two straight finishes at UFC 193 and UFC Fight Night 85, both in Australia. Matthews has really rounded out his game with the addition of better striking while in the UFC. He steps in the cage with 3.78 Significant Strikes Landed per Minute (SLpM), 2.11 Takedowns per 15 min. and 1.2 Submission Attempts per 15 min.

Lee steps in on short notice as Stevie Ray pulled out of the fight due to visa issues. The ‘Motown Phenom’ is one of just a handful fighters to be successful in the Octagon from my home state of Michigan where MMA is not as popular as it could be. He joins fellow Michigan native Amanda Cooper on the card to represent our state. He is a winner of five of his last six with the lone loss coming at UFC 194 against Leonardo Santos. He then bounced back in his last fight with a decision win over Efrain Escudero at UFC 197. The stats are very similar as Lee comes in with 3.77 SLpM, 2.77 Takedowns per 15 min. and 1.3 Submission Attempts per 15 min.

Ross Pearson vs. Will Brooks

Former Bellator Lightweight Champion Will Brooks (18-1, 0-0) takes on UFC vet Ross Pearson (19-10, 1 NC; 11-7, 1 NC). Brooks replaces James Krause who was pulled from the fight for undisclosed reasons.

Pearson will be making his 20th UFC appearance when he steps into the Octagon. He has alternated wins for losses over his last eight fights with the last one being a win over Chad Laprise in January. The winner of TUF season 9 started out his UFC career 3-0 with wins over Andre Winner, Aaron Riley, and Dennis Siver. Since that start, he is 8-7 with a no-contest against Melvin Guillard when an illegal knee rendered Pearson unable to continue. Pearson is top ten all-time in the Lightweight division in Knockdowns Landed (6), Significant Strikes Landed (693), Significant Strike Defense (68.6%), and Total Fight Time (3:12.37)

We finally get to see Brooks make his long-awaited UFC debut after spending the majority of his career in Bellator. Brooks was unhappy with his contract and wanted to be released from the company despite being the champion. He was granted his release and signed by the UFC to step in against Pearson. ‘Ill Will’ is a winner of his last eight including the interim title belt, the vacant belt and two title defences in Bellator

(c)Joanna Jedrzejczyk vs. Claudia Gadelha

Dominant Strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk (11-0; 5-0) takes on number-one contender Claudia Gadelha (13-1; 2-1) in a rematch of their December 2014 fight. It’s the first time coaches on TUF will fight for the belt on the finale.

Jedrzejczyk joined the newly formed Strawweight division in the second ever UFC Strawweight fight when she beat Julianna Lima by decision. She went on to face Gadelha at UFC on Fox 13 in a closely contested fight. In a controversial decision, Jedrzejczyk was the winner by split-decision to earn a title shot at then-champion Carla Esparza. They fought at UFC 185 in the co-main event where Jedrzejczyk dominated the fight for the round and a half it lasted and finished the fight in the second. After winning the belt, she has defended it twice over Jessica Penne (TKO win at UFC Fight Night 69) and Valerie Letourneau (Unanimous Decision at UFC 193). Joanna is tied for fifth all-time in SLpM with Sean O’Connell (6.14) and second all-time in Striking Differential (+3.89).

Gadelha was a part of the first UFC Strawweight fight when she beat Tina Lahdemaki at UFC Fight Night 45. Her next fight was the fight against Jedrzejczyk at UFC on Fox 13 where a claim that she won that fight can be made. She landed 7 of 16 Takedowns and landed a better percentage of her Significant Strikes in the fight. She was expected to return at UFC Fight Night 64 against Aisling Daly, but an injury was a blessing as she got a number-one contender fight against top Strawweight Jessica Aguilar at UFC 190 in Brazil. She dominated the fight with a better all-around game as she out-struck and out-grappled her opponent.

 

 

 

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Ovince Saint Preux Steps in to Face Corey Anderson at UFC 217

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UFC 217 just got even more interesting. Earlier this week, Patrick Cummins pulled out of his light heavyweight matchup with Corey Anderson due to a Staph infection. Corey “Overtime” Anderson was not happy with his opponents decision, even calling out his opponent on Instagram asking how Cummins could, “call it quits so far from fight night”.

The UFC left Anderson on the card, and he found an opponent through the magic of Twitter. Ovince Saint Preux tweeted out directly to Anderson stating:

It didn’t take long for Anderson to respond agreeing to the fight, tagging Mick Maynard and Dana White in his response.

Only a few short hours later, the fight announcement came from the official UFC twitter account.

 

This top 10 Light Heavyweight matchup should add to an already amazing card coming in November at Madison Square Garden. Saint Preux is coming off of back to back wins both due to the very rare von flue choke, he finds himself ranked #7th in the latest edition of the 205-pound rankings. Corey “Overtime” Anderson is 4-2 in his last 6 fights, but is coming off a brutal first round knockout loss to Jimi Manuwa in March.

With such a exciting fight added to this card, what do you see happening November 4th?  Will Corey Anderson bounce back and look to jump into the top 5 of the rankings, or will Ovince Saint Preux go for a third straight von flue choke? Let us know.

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*Watch* Bellator 185 Weigh in: Live Stream, Results

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Watch the live weigh-ins for Bellator 185 here.

Gegard Mousasi takes on Alexander Slemenko live this Friday night October 20th at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville CT. This is the first appearance for Mousasi in the Bellator cage as he looks to secure a title shot with a win over the very tough former Bellator champion Slemenko. Joining these men of the main card will be a pair of welterweights as Neiman Gracie from the famous Gracie BJJ family takes on Zak Bucia in the co-main event.

Full Weigh-in Results: (Updated in real time)

Main Card:

Gegard Mousasi (185) vs. Alexander Shlemenko (186)
Neiman Gracie (170.5) vs. Zak Bucia (170)
Heather Hardy (126) vs. Kristina Williams (126)
Ryan Quinn (155.5) vs. Marcus Surin (155)
Ana Julaton (125.5) vs. Lisa Blaine (122)

Preliminary Card:

Jordan Young (200) vs. Alec Hooben (194)
Costello van Steenis (185) vs. Steve Skrzat (186)
Vinicius de Jesus (170) vs. Joaquin Buckley (171)
John Beneduce (154.5) vs. Dean Hancock (155)
Timothy Wheeler (144) vs. Pete Rogers (144)
Don Shainis (150) vs. Matthew Denning (149)
Frank Sforza (149) vs. Vovka Clay (150)
Kevin Carrier (156) vs. Jose Antonio Perez (153)
John Lopez (126) vs. Billy Giovanella (125)

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Bellator 185 Fight to Watch: Heather Hardy vs. Kristina Williams

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Heather Hardy will compete in MMA for the second time at Bellator 185 on Friday night, as she faces Kristina Williams in a strawweight contest. The fight takes place on the main card at the Mohican Sun Arena in Connecticut.

Potentially, what Bellator have in Heather ‘The Heat’ Hardy is a major draw that they can build their 125 pound division around. While relatively new to the organisation she is fast becoming one of the more popular names on the roster. Her career is in the early stages, but many have already started to draw comparisons with former boxer turned MMA star, Holly Holm. Holm’s UFC success partly inspired the native New Yorker to make the switch from boxing.

Hardy is already an established world champion in the land of the ‘sweet science’, holding a 21 fight undefeated professional record. She made her MMA debut in June this year with a victory over Alice Yauger, at Bellator 180. At 35, Hardy is a late starter in the sport, but proved at Madison Square Garden against the credible Yauger that she has a bright future.

Hardy’s first outing in the cage was disciplined and composed. Despite a slow start in round one, Hardy grew in confidence as the fight progressed and her cardio never faltered. She mixed in plenty of kicks that complimented her boxing and looked at ease in the clinch, even defending a couple of takedown attempts in the process.

Despite looking on course for a decision win, Hardy forced the TKO stoppage with just thirteen seconds remaining in round three. Even a large cut that required seven stitches from an accidental head clash could not deny her victory.

Hardy was fighting an experienced professional, competing for the tenth time in MMA, which makes the win over Yauger more impressive. However, her upcoming opponent Kristina Williams will be making her professional debut.

There is little known about Williams except that she is 3-0 at amateur level. One of those wins came by way of submission so there may well be a threat to Hardy if the fight goes to the ground. More importantly for Williams is how she copes on the big stage against a popular opponent, who is more familiar competing in high pressure combat situations. If Williams can produce an upset it will be a huge boost in her young career.

But in all honesty, this fight is about Hardy. It’s about getting the win and gaining valuable experience. The boxing career is on hold while MMA takes centre stage. Beating Williams will mean she likely continues fighting inside a cage rather than a boxing ring.

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