The sold-out MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada played host to one of the biggest events in UFC history on Saturday night. Two title fights. Two title changes. And one of the most incredible in-cage moments in the 22-year history of the UFC.
Jose Aldo (25-1) and Conor McGregor (19-2) was meant to be a fight for the ages. It had been built with a world press tour that saw both men’s contrasting personalities clash over, and over, and over again. It had been ripped away from us at UFC 189 when Aldo was forced out of the bout with a rib injury. Had Chad Mendes played spoiler when he stepped in to face McGregor at that pay-per-view, we might have been robbed of the fight completely. Yet finally it was here, and it was going to be a war.
And it was. A short, decisive, definitive one that left everyone watching it breathless. The opening bell rang as the crowd got to their feet. Only 13 seconds later Jose Aldo was laying on his back with his arms by his side and referee John McCarthy was stopping the fight. The two men had met head on in the centre of the octagon, with Aldo happy to stand in the pocket and fire off a straight-right, left-hook combination. McGregor fired a counter left-hook that landed perfectly and sent Aldo crashing face first to the mat. A couple of hammerfists followed but they were academic. Aldo was out before he hit the mat. The interim and world featherweight titles were unified, and Conor McGregor had fulfilled his prophecy of dethroning the only champion the UFC’s 145-pound division had ever known.
In the co-main event the two best 185-pound fighters on the planet collided. The impact gave us a new middleweight champion of the world and his name is Luke Rockhold (15-2). Defending champion Chris Weidman (13-1) came out strong in the opening round, taking the challenger’s back early and competing hard throughout. It was the only round he would win. Rockhold found a regular home for his thunderous body kicks as the fight progressed, and he was more than holding his own in the scrambles and grappling exchanges. After Weidman threw a spinning kick in the third round that left his back exposed, Rockhold rode him to the mat, moved to mount, and unloaded with elbows and punches. By the time the round was done many were questioning why referee Herb Dean had not stopped the fight, and Weidman was staggering back against the cage to hold himself up. There was no coming back from that. Little more than three minutes into the following round, Rockhold once again found himself on top of Weidman, and this time the referee intervened. Luke Rockhold ladies and gentlemen, your new UFC middleweight champion of the world.
Before Yoel Romero (11-1) and Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza (22-4) stepped into the octagon in the MGM Grand Garden Arena, the general consensus was that both men were ready to challenge for the middleweight title. Between them, they carried a perfect 11-0 UFC record into the cage, and it was clear that the winner would be next in line for a shot at 185-pound gold. Romero was at his explosive best in the first round, hurting Jacare with a spinning back fist and battering him with hard punches on the ground. Jacare survived and eventually came on strong in the third round, but it was not enough to sway two of the three judges. With the split decision win, Romero’s UFC record improved to 7-0 and he now holds wins over three of the current UFC top ten.
When the welterweight clash between Gunnar Nelson (14-2) and Demian Maia (22-6) was announced, grappling fans everywhere rejoiced. Their expectations were met, as the majority of the action took place on the mat. It was Maia who put on a masterclass, controlling Nelson over fifteen minutes. Dominant position followed dominant position, as Maia landed unanswered punches and elbows to leave no doubt that the judges would rule in his favor. All three did emphatically, as the Brazilian made it 3-0 for 2015 and extended his winning streak to four inside the octagon.
Earlier in the night it was the featherweights who opened up the main card as Max Holloway (15-3) and Jeremy Stephens (24-12) met in a fight that gathered pace as it progressed. Holloway was the slicker of the two fighters, outmaneuvering his opponent through all three rounds, getting the nod on each of the judges scorecards. This was Holloway’s eighth straight win and furthered his claim for a title shot.
December 12, 2015 | MGM Grand Garden Arena | Las Vegas, Nevada
MAIN CARD – Pay-Per-View, 10 p.m. ET
Conor McGregor def. Jose Aldo via KO (Punch) R1 0:13
Luke Rockhold def. Chris Weidman via TKO (punches) Round 4, 3:12
Yoel Romero def. Ronaldo Souza via split decision (29-27, 29-28, 28-29)
Demian Maia def. Gunnar Nelson via unanimous decision (30-25, 30-25, 30-26)
Max Holloway def. Jeremy Stephens via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
PRELIMINARY CARD – Fox Sports 1, 8 p.m. ET
Urijah Faber def. Frankie Saenz via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
Tecia Torres def. Jocelyn Jones-Lybarger via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Warlley Alves def. Colby Covington via submission (guillotine choke) Round 1, 1:26
Leonardo Santos def. Kevin Lee via TKO (punches) Round 1, 3:26
EARLY PRELIMS – UFC Fight Pass, 6.30 p.m. ET
Magomed Mustafaev def. Joe Proctor via TKO (knees and punches) Round 1, 1:54
Yancy Medeiros def. John Makdessi via split decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29)
Court McGee def. Marcio Alexandre Jr. via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
UFC Announces Liverpool Event, Darren Till Main Event
Scousers are drowning in celebration this evening. Earlier today, UFC officials announced the addition of a Liverpool show to their 2018 event calendar. Liverpool’s, Echo Arena, plays host for the event, which takes place on May 27th.
Liverpool’s own, Darren Till made the announcement this afternoon with Dan Hardy at the UFC Fight Night: Werdum vs. Volkov, ceremonial weigh-in. When asked by Hardy what it means to have the UFC in Liverpool, he had this to day, “Words can’t describe it. It doesn’t do it justice, words. So, it’s coming and I’m going to be the first Scousers to ever have done it. In 200 years they’re going to remember my name in combat sports in Liverpool. I’m gonna take someones chin off in Liverpool, that’s what’s happening”.
He was also quoted in an release from the promotion saying, “I can’t believe UFC is finally coming to Liverpool and I’m going to be headlining Echo Arena. My name is going to be remembered in 200 years time for being part of this historical event and I can’t even describe how much that means to me”. Till will headline the card, his opponent is yet to be announced.
In the official release, it quotes David Shaw, Senior Vice President International and Content, claiming, “The stars really aligned for the Octagon to touch down in Liverpool. We have seen such phenomenal demand from fans in the region for a live event. Pair that with having such a rising, local star in Darren Till it made absolute sense to bring our first live event to this historical combat sports city in 2018”.
UFC Liverpool lands on a date speculated for a different venue, in a different country. Reports swirled last month, specifically one from MMAFighting.com, which claimed the May 27th date belonged to the UFCs return to Dublin. A return to Dublin doesn’t seem to fall completely out of the realm of possibility. For now, it remains to be seen.
The UFC also announced two bouts, both in the Middleweight division, booked for the event. Elias Therodorou takes on Trevor Smith, and Daniel Kelly goes up against England’s Tom Breese.
Marco Reyes Flagged for Potential Anti-Doping Policy Violation
Earlier today, UFC officials announced that Lightweight, Marco Reyes was flagged for a potential UFC Anti-Doping Policy violation. The potential violation hails from a sample collected on March 8th, 2018, in an out-of-competition test.
Reyes made his way into the UFC through The Ultimate Fighter Latin America, season 2. Competing in the lightweight bracket, Reyes defeated Christhian Soto by 2nd rd. TKO of a preliminary round bout. He then went onto to face Horacio Gutiérrez, in the semifinals of the tournament. Gutiérrez defeated Reyes in the opening round by TKO.
Following his elimination from the tournament, the Mexican fighter met Cezar Arzamendia on the series finale, The Ultimate Fighter Latin America 2 Finale. Reyes impressively defeated Arzamendia, whom was the first overall pick for Team Gastelum, by 1st round KO.
From there, Reyes defeated Dong Hung Kim (rd. 1, KO), and Jason Novelli (Split Decision) respectively, before falling to rising contender James Vick. Most recently, the Lightweight fighter dispatched Matt Frevola in the opening round, ruining the Long Islanders promotional debut. His bout against Frevola took place at UFC Fight Night: Stephens vs. Choi, on January 14th of this year.
The UFC statement on the matter reads as follows:
The UFC organization was notified today that the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) has informed Marco Reyes of a potential Anti-Doping Policy violation stemming from an out-of-competition sample collected on March 8, 2018.
USADA, the independent administrator of the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, will handle the results management and appropriate adjudication of this case involving Reyes. Under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, there is a full and fair legal process that is afforded to all athletes before any sanctions are imposed. Additional information will be provided at the appropriate time as the process moves forward.
Dillon Danis to make Pro debut against Kyle Walker at Bellator 198
Mixed Martial Arts officially adopted another incredibly talented jiu-jitsu practioner today. Bellator officials announced today the long-awaited debut of Dillon Danis, whom the promotion had signed in the year previous. After zero amateur and countless jiu-jitsu matches, Danis makes his debut at Bellator 198: Mir vs. Emelianenko, against Kyle Walker.
Kyle Walker enters the match up also making his Bellator debut. Walker recently made a resurgence in 2016 after taking off, almost exactly, 3 years. Since returning to the professional scene his record is 0-3, losing each fight by stoppage (2 Sub, 1 KO).
Walker looks to snap his streak yet, his opponent could provide a major challenge. In terms of advantages for Walker, he has a massive and obvious one. His experience. Walkers opponent fights for the first time in the sport of MMA. While Danis competed in many top-level jiu-jitsu tournaments and matches, comparing the competition would stop and end upon examining the rule sets. It is quite obvious, the difference. Danis will have a bit of adversity to overcome, in that respect.
In spite of this, Danis’ team, he trains out of the highly regarded SBG Ireland. Even before his MMA training, he trained under Marcelo Garcia. He earned his black belt in April of 2015, following an incredible 2014. In that year, Danis became UAEJJF World Champion, winning gold in the 82 kg (181 lb.) Brown belt category.
The prospect of what that could look like inside the cage is exciting. He may have developed some striking techniques but, the lack of time dedicated to that training in undeniable. Experience and time is required to develop skills of any kind.
Bellator 198: Mir vs. Emelianenko, takes place on Saturday, April 28th from the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Illinois. Bellator 198 features the third of four preliminary bouts in the promotions Heavyweight Grand Prix, Fedor Emelianenko takes on Frank Mir. It serves as the nights main event. Other bouts on the card feature; Emmanuel Sanchez against Sam Sicilia, Neiman Gracie faces Javier Torres, Rafael Lavato Jr. vs. John Salter, and more.
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