The Ultimate Fighter has seen many great fighters pass through its show. Many of these fighters have come back to compete on any several Ultimate Fight Finale card. This card is no different, with so many great fighters, plus some up and coming fighters from all around the world, it was difficult to choose a fight to watch. That being said there was one fight that jumps out to me as one that could be an absolute barn burner, the one that could possibly take the cake for a fight of the night bonus, and that is Gray Maynard vs. Fernando Bruno.
Gray Maynard (12-6-1) was not too long ago considered one of the greatest Featherweight in the game. The 37-year-old was on season 5 of The Ultimate Fighter under the tutelage of BJ Penn. He is known as a fighter who will go hard for the whole fight and has pushed his opponent to the final bell in 11 of his 19 professional fights. He has had some bad luck in fights along his UFC career, including a no contest due to a controversial double knockout in his TUF finale fight against Rob Emerson. Then after five round brawl with former champion Frankie Edgar at UFC 125, it was considered a draw, which many felt Maynard had won. That fight earned a Fight of the Night honours, as well as Fight of the Year in 2011. Ten months later Maynard lost the rematch with Frankie Edgar and has been on a bit of a slide since. He is currently on a 4 fight losing streak, and will be looking to turn his luck around with a win over the Brazilian Fernando Bruno.
Fernando Bruno (16-3) fought on The Ultimate Fighter Latin America season 4. He is a well-rounded fighter who trains out of Nova Uniao gym in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil with some of the greatest fighters Brazil has to offer, such as Jose Aldo, Renan Barao, and Claudia Gadelha. Bruno is coming off of a loss to Glaico Franco at UFC 190 in Rio. He lost the fight via rear naked choke in the final seconds of the third round. He might not be a very well-known name, but he is a great fighter on the ground, and he knows how to push the pace on the feet.
Both of these fighters are looking produce some wins in the hopes of rising in the ranks. The Featherweight division is filled with many talented fighters, and it could be easy to fall to the bottom of the list if you can’t find a way to win. Both of these guys know this to be true, and will do whatever it takes to win. The bouts when the fighters are the most hungry are always the most entertaining, and this one should be no different.
Molly McCann to face Bryony Tyrell for inaugural Cage Warriors Flyweight Title
For a short while, we knew the Liverpool sensation, “Meatball” Molly McCann, fights for the inaugural Cage Warriors women’s Flyweight title on February 24th. We knew where and when, but not who. Yet, her journey began with a verbal campaign after defeating Priscila de Souza in her previous bout. Following hearing her name ringing victorious throughout the arena, “Listen… I deserve a title shot, tell them Echo, tell them.” She proclaimed to the Liverpool crowd stuffed into the Echo arena.
She got what she asked for, and we now know whom will challenge the ‘Queen of Liverpool’ for the new Cage Warriors belt. Molly McCann faces Bryony Tyrell at CW 90, at the familiar Echo arena in Liverpool. The bout became official when the Cage Warriors twitter made the announcement early Thursday morning.
— Cage Warriors (@CageWarriors) January 25, 2018
Bryony Tyrell, makes her professional promotional debut at CW 90. Tyrell competed as an amateur under the Cage Warriors banner. Interestingly, both Tyrell and McCann competed separately as amateurs at CW 68. McCann earned the unanimous decision victory, while Tyrell got the inverse, a unanimous decision loss to Beckie Ainscough. In her professional career, Tyrell garnered a record of 4-1-1. Her only loss came at the hands of experienced British fighter and current Bellator Flyweight, Kate Jackson. While Tyrell holds a similar amount of experience as her opponent, each of her pro bouts were in the Strawweight division. Strength and size may factor into the title match, as McCann is a legitimate Flyweight with overpowering strength.
Besides her perceived strength advantage, McCann holds a notoriety pushed by her city of Liverpool. Of 139 UK and Ireland women, McCann ranks second, pound for pound (Tapology.com). Further investigating her position, the only women to surpass her ranking, Agnieszka Niedzwiedz, is a top ranked fighter for the American all-women promotion, Invicta FC.
Further complicating matters is a bit of history between the two women. Tyrell and McCann competed against one another in a grappling tournament, in the year of 2014. Tyrell bested McCann earning a submission via armbar. As amateurs, the two also spent a brief period training together at Southhampton’s Exile Gym, where Tyrell continues to train.
Cage Warriors 90 takes place at the Echo Arena in Liverpool, England on Saturday, February 24th. The main event features, Lee Chadwick defending his middleweight belt against Jonas Billstein. Other fights on the card include, Paddy Pimblett vs. Alexis Savvidis, Alexander Jacobsen vs. Lawrence Fitzpatrick, Elliot Jenkins vs. Josh Abraham, and more.
Interview: Manny Bermudez, “The second this fight goes on the ground, it’s gonna be a pretty terrible story for this guy”
Manny Bermudez is accustom to many things when it comes to fighting, especially when it comes to pressure. “I’ve been doing this since I was young”, the undefeated bantamweight prospect claimed as he brushed off the question. His answer slid off the tongue as if he had been trained to do so, “Yeah, I get nervous. Yeah, it gets scary sometimes but, you either man up and face it, or you take a loss (and) you have to start over”. He certainly hadn’t. What he had trained is a calm and loose demeanor, a mindset that palpably asserts rationality. “It’s best to just take it on the chin”.
Currently, Manny Bermudez is the number one ranked professional bantamweight in the New England region (ranking by Tapology.com). Something you would not expect from the polite and kind twenty-three year old. Despite whom he projects, there comes a time, every so often, when the quiet man morphs into a dominating force. It is something you may see if you travel down to South Shore Sportfighting, in Norwell, the place he began and continues his training.
A place in which he take great pride in beginning his MMA journey, “I’ve known Bill since I was like fourteen”. He praised his head coach Bill Mahoney, the head instructor of South Shore Sportfighting. “He’s seen me, just like, grow up. He’s seen what I’m good at, what I’m not good at”. He continued following an abrupt outburst elsewhere in the room, “One of the things he always talks about is, how you have to know your fighters to be a good coach… You see all these higher up schools like the Greg Jackson’s and all that, they got all these fighters but, they can’t really focus on these guys because they’re not homegrown. And so, South Shore has been an awesome place for me to be homegrown from because Bill really pays attention to me… he knows what I’m good at, what I need to work on. When he sees a weakness, he tells me straight up”.
Or, you may see his ferocity if you purchase tickets to this weekend’s Cage Titans 37 at Plymouth Memorial Hall in Plymouth, Mass. At CT 37, Bermudez takes on another highly touted prospect, Mike Hernandez for the promotions vacant bantamweight championship title. Talking to him, you may not think you are speaking with a fighter, undefeated in ten professional bouts. Not only undefeated but finishing eight of his ten opponents, seven by choke, one by KO/TKO. Lastly, don’t forget, all eight finishes came inside the opening round.
“The second I drop down to 135, I can feel the difference in the guy’s I’m fighting. I feel like a wet rag on these guys”. Fittingly, his fights have nearly all looked that way. In his most recent bout, Bermudez toyed with his opponent on the feet, landing a hard straight right which caught the attention of his opponent, Bendy Casimir. After a bit of measuring done by both fighters, Bermudez ate a head kick from his opponent, caught it, and followed him to the ground. From there, Bermudez immediately worked himself into mount and instituted his infamous Bermudez Triangle forcing a BJJ Black Belt to tap in the opening minutes. An aspect of his game he is extremely confident about.
“I think the second this fight goes on the ground, it’s gonna be a pretty terrible story for this guy”, the Abington-native claimed. Yet, the South Boston fighter respected the ability of his opponent, “He seems like a tough, scrappy dude”. He continued, “He’s a veteran with a good record, a successful record. He’s fought in Bellator, he’s fought UFC vets. I mean, I don’t think they come much tougher, locally”. Although he understands the challenges his opponent brings to light, he is confident, “I want this to be a statement that, it doesn’t matter what you’re throwing at me, I’m gonna to face it and keep going”.
The Cage Titans promotion couldn’t be much better of a place to fight for Bermudez. Without traffic, a drive from his home to the Cage Titans event venue is more or less, thirty minutes. When asked about the significance of earning a title with a local promotion such as Cage Titans, means to him, he had nothing but praise for the promotion who hosted seven of his ten pro fights. “Cage Titans, is one of the organizations that really represents the northeast. I’ve had a lot of shows, where I’ll go down there and I see my friends so close to me and just hearing that support from the people, from the crowds. At my last fight, we flew the guy in from Vegas, and I choked him in a minute or two”, he said. “You could hear everyone yelling, ‘UFC! UFC! UFC!’… I go on Facebook, and everyone’s yelling, ‘Get Manny to the UFC!’, so they all support me, they all have my back so to be fighting for this title and the possibility of somebody else holding it, from out of state, I’d say, it’s a little more personal… it’s a promotion I fought for so many times that I think it holds more personal meaning for me, than it would for somebody like him.”
A win for the local prospect certainly muddies the waters of his situation. The #1 bantamweight in New England has no interest in signing with a promotion other than the UFC. His only desire and goal, at the moment, is to sign with the aforementioned promotion. Considering the achievements Bermudez has already accomplished in his young career, a regional title greatly increases an already deserving resume.
***UPDATE 1/25/18*** Mike Hernandez was forced to withdraw yesterday from Saturdays main event at Cage Titans 37, due to a family emergency. Manny Bermudez will now face Seth Basler, in a non-title bout.
UFC 217 Fight To Watch: Stephen Thompson vs. Jorge Masvidal
UFC 217 features a myriad of phenomenal fights, a list that includes 3 champions and 3 former champions, but amongst this impressive list of fights, one that stands out the most is Stephen Thompson vs Jorge Masvidal.
It seems like a lot of people are forgetting about this fight due to a stacked card that puts this excellent bout at only the 2nd fight in the main card, but stylistically this is the most exciting match up of the night.
No knock on any other fights. Bisping vs GSP is going to be Bisping vs GSP, nothing less. Garbrandt vs Dillashaw is an intriguing match up as well, a storyline that includes two former training partners and friends turned to bitter enemies, and Joanna Jędrzejczyk making her 6th title defense against Rose Namajunas.
But Thompson vs Masvidal is so exciting for two reasons:
1) Stylistic Match Up
As briefly mentioned above, the stylistic view of this fight is beyond excellence. Everyone is aware of ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson’s achievements. 57-0 in kickboxing and a former title challenger who came as close as humanly possible to take the title away from Tyron Woodley. ‘Gamebred’, on the other hand, is an all around great mixed martial artist. Although a natural lightweight, it wouldn’t be an overstatement that Masvidal shined a lot more since moving up to the welterweight division.
This fight has an extremely high chance of becoming a kickboxing match with little to no grappling involved. And what makes it truly so fascinating is the fact that neither of these guys are too worried about getting taken down, which will showcase who’s striking is truly better. Most likely scenario of the fight will be both guys throwing hands for 3 rounds straight, with Masvidal pushing most of the action. But neither fighter can make a game changing mistake, as both fighters are more than capable of finishing fights.
2) Welterweight Division
The fight will also clean up the top of the welterweight division a little bit. With Colby Covington joining top 3 and Robbie Lawler and Rafael dos Anjos going at each other in a month’s time, winning this fight is crucial for Thompson and Masvidal in order to remain in the conversation of a title shot, but of course, only one guy can walk out the winner. It would be difficult for them to drop down in the rankings and then having to fight their way back up with all the prospects that have been rising.
So with all the cards laid out on the table for the fight, it’s time to make a prediction:
It’s tough to see Thompson getting caught with big shots by Masvidal, especially with a reach and size advantage, but it’s a hard pick due to Masvidal’s explosiveness and his ability to pull the trigger. Ultimately, I believe Thompson will edge Masvidal out by a bit, but by no means will this be an easy or simple fight for Thompson.
Prediction: Stephen Thompson def. Jorge Masvidal via Unanimous Decision
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