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UFC 194 – Full Report

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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)

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Interviews

UFC 219’s Jimmie Rivera to TJ Dillashaw “Defend Your Belt or Vacate.”

Harry Davies

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MMA Latest had the chance to talk to #4 ranked UFC bantamweight Jimmie “El Terror” Rivera ahead of his fight at UFC 219 against John Lineker.

Rivera (21-1) extended his unbeaten run to twenty when he defeated Thomas Almeida at UFC Long Island in July. Originally scheduled to face former bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz, we began by asking Rivera how the opponent change had affected his preparation for UFC 219.

The only thing that’s changed is the game plan, everything else stays the same. Cruz is more of an irritating fight because he just doesn’t stop moving, but with Lineker, he’s going to stay in the pocket and bang, and I love that.

Recently, Rivera posted a video to his Twitter account of him sparring with the recently crowned bantamweight champion, TJ Dillashaw. He told us about the context of this video, and how the sparring went down between them.

It was 3 or 4 years back. I think TJ had just lost to (John) Dodson on TUF. My teammate Louis Gaudinot was actually fighting Tim Elliott at the time, and we were in Milwaukee so I got to train with (Urijah) Faber and Dillashaw.

I just sent it to TJ to say, don’t forget what happened. I was getting the best of him, and I don’t really brag about it. But he wants to leave the weight class and fight DJ for the money fight, and I want to fight for the belt, so it’s defend your belt or vacate.

After briefly referencing the potential superfight between Demetrious Johnson and TJ Dillashaw, I asked Rivera about his thoughts on the somewhat flawed UFC rankings system, and title fights being put together purely for entertainment value.

It sucks. When I become champ I won’t be like a TJ or McGregor, I’m going to be like Demetrious Johnson and defend my belt against people coming up, it’s the right thing to do. If you want to win the belt and leave the division straight away, it’s kind of bullshit.

Rivera concluded by telling me that although he isn’t looking past Lineker at 219, “the only fight that makes sense after this one, is fighting TJ for the belt.”

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Announcement

Mark Hunt Returns to Fight Curtis Blaydes at UFC 221

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UFC 221 in Perth has officially added a another Australian to the main card. Joining Robert Whittaker is the knockout legend Mark Hunt.

The Daily Telegraph first reported that Hunt will be stepping into the octagon to face #9 Curtis Blaydes. Some weren’t sure if we would ever see Hunt fight again after he was pulled from the main event in UFC Fight Night 21 against Marcin Tybura. The UFC removed him due to “medical concerns” while Hunt was stating he was perfectly fine.

After getting evaluated and cleared to fight by Australian and American doctors, it looks like his time has come to return.  Hunt’s last fight was back in June when he derailed the Derrick Lewis hype train with a 4th round TKO win.

Hunt had been adamant about calling out #3 ranked heavyweight Fabricio Werdum and trying to get that rematch booked, labelling Werdum a “chicken shit” and a “coward.”

Curtis “Razor” Blaydes who has an 8-1 record, is coming off a TKO victory due to doctor stoppage at UFC 217 in November. Since losing to now title challenger Francis Ngannou in April of 2016, Blaydes has rattled off three straight wins over Alexey Oleynik, Daniel Omielanczuk, and Cody East.

With all this momentum from the win streak, Blaydes looks to capitalize and win the biggest fight of his career against Hunt.

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News

Valentina Shevchenko vs. Priscila Cachoeira Officially Booked for Belem, Brazil card

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The wait is over. Valentina Shevchenko (14-3, 3-2 UFC) will make her highly anticipated flyweight debut when the UFC returns to Brazil. She will face Priscila Cachoeira (8-0) on the February 3rd card scheduled for Belem, Brazil. Luciana Andrade was the first to report the match-up last week. On Tuesday, the UFC posted an article which stated the bout had been set.

Now that the flyweight tournament is over and the inaugural champion has her crown, many women shall migrate from the strawweight and bantamweight ranks in search of a more suitable weight class. The division is so infantile means a lot moving parts in the rankings. Yet, only women who fought at one hundred and twenty-five lbs. are ranked. Such practices muddy the title picture for the time being. Essentially ruling out the idea of Montano vs. Shevchenko for the first defense of the belt, illogical. An idea that floated around the internet until today’s confirmation of the newest female flyweight match-up. The TUF 26 winner, Nicco Montano called it, “kinda silly”, earlier this week while on The MMA Hour. Montano believes her first title defense, as it stands, should pit her against the original finalist of the flyweight tournament, Sijara Eubanks. Although Eubanks withdrew from the title fight, she is still ranked as the #1 contender in the division.

Shevchenko explained her desire for the flyweight belt on The MMA Hour, a week earlier than Montano, “For me it’s number one, to fight for the title… It doesn’t matter for me, if I have to have one fight before it, okay I will do it… my main goal is to be the champion… It doesn’t matter I move from one thirty-five to one twenty-five. My goal is still the same, to be the champion”. The Russian fighter is coming off an unsuccessful title shot in the bantamweight division against the current reigning champ, Amanda Nunes. The bout went to a decision after close five rounds, Nunes ultimately defeated Shevchenko via split decision (47-48, 48-47, 48-47).

Her opponent, Priscila Cachoeira, is not only new to the UFCs female flyweight division but the promotion’s roster as well. Cachoeira originally was scheduled to make her promotional debut against veteran Lauren Murphy at The Ultimate Fighter Finale 26. The Brazilian fighter withdrew from the bout due to visa issues. As a professional, she is undefeated with four knockouts in her eight fights.

UFC Belem is scheduled for February 3rd, 2018. The card will feature Timothy Johnson vs. Marcelo Golm in the heavyweight division. It will also have Thiago Santos taking on Anthony Smith in the middleweight division.

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