The MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada played host to another massive UFC event on Saturday night. While we had been robbed of a lightweight title fight after Rafael dos Anjos pulled out injured, we saw two of the UFC’s biggest stars defeated in the feature bouts in what was an enthralling night of action.
If the main event was about answering questions it did so emphatically. Conor McGregor (19-3) is unquestionably the greatest featherweight on the planet, but whether that would translate to UFC success north of 145 pounds was uncertain. In a 170 pound fight between two natural lightweights, Nate Diaz (19-10) had too much for the UFC featherweight champion as he earned the biggest win of his career to date.
The first round saw both men trading on the feet with McGregor pushing the pace and landing the harder shots. By the time the first frame was over, Diaz had a serious cut opened up over his right eye but it would become a non-factor. As the fighters started trading again, Diaz rocked McGregor with a counter left that changed the complexion of the bout in a hurry. Diaz pursuit was relentless as McGregor tried to fight back before a desperate takedown attempt saw the Irishman end up eating punches on the mat. As McGregor turned Diaz took his back and sunk in a choke for the win.
In the co-main event, Miesha Tate (18-5) put in a typically gutsy performance to become the new UFC women’s bantamweight champion. Billed as a striker vs grappler contest as soon as the fight was made, that is exactly how the title bout with Holly Holm (10-1) played out. Holm was able to control the distance and land the cleaner strikes throughout large portions of the fight, but it was not enough to hold onto her championship belt as Tate eventually sunk in a choke in the fifth and final round.
After a tentative first round won by Holm, Tate was able to take the champion down and control her for the majority of the second. In a precursor to the eventual finish, Tate came mightily close to choking Holm out in the second frame but the champion survived. Once Holm made it out of the round she began to build momentum, stuffing numerous takedown attempts in rounds three and four while landing good combinations throughout. Going into the fifth anything was possible, including a draw if the judges had scored round two 10-8 in Tate’s favor, but the challenger would render the judges redundant as she took Holm down before taking her back. As the choke sunk in deeper once they landed on the mat, Holm did not tap, instead passing out as referee John McCarthy stopped the fight with only 90 seconds remaining.
Before the title fights took place, Ilir Latifi (12-4) made it three straight wins inside the octagon with a unanimous-decision victory over Gian Villante (14-7). After a close first round, Latifi began to impose his will in the second, at one point suplexing Villante before scoring another big takedown towards the end of the round. It was more of the same in the final frame as Latifi did enough to convince all three judges he had won all three rounds.
In the other light-heavyweight contest on the main card Corey Anderson (8-1) did enough over three rounds to get past Tom Lawlor (10-6). After surviving an early scare in the first round, The Ultimate Fighter season 19 winner out-landed Lawlor throughout the fight and spent much of the third round in top position. That was enough to convince all three judges to award Anderson the victory in a fight that was much closer than the judges scorecards suggested.
Earlier in the night, it was the women’s bantamweights who opened up the main card as Amanda Nunes (12-4) controlled two-thirds of her fight with Valentina Shevchenko (12-2) en route to a unanimous decision victory. After out-striking her opponent comfortably in the first round, Nunes took Shevchenko down and battered her with ground and pound in the second before working hard for a choke that she was unable to finish. That left Shevchenko needing a stoppage that she was never able to find, despite increasing her work rate in the third round.
March 5, 2016 | MGM Grand Garden Arena | Las Vegas, Nevada
MAIN CARD – Pay-Per-View, 10 p.m. ET
Nate Diaz def. Conor McGregor via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 2, 4:12
Miesha Tate def. Holly Holm via technical submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 5, 3:30
Ilir Latifi def. Gian Villante via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Corey Anderson def. Tom Lawlor via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
Amanda Nunes def. Valentina Shevchenko via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-27, 29-27)
PRELIMINARY CARD – Fox Sports 1, 8 p.m. ET
Siyar Bahadurzada def. Brandon Thatch via submission (arm-triangle choke) – Round 3, 4:11
Nordine Taleb def. Erick Silva knockout (punches) – Round 2, 1:34
Vitor Miranda def. Marcelo Guimaraes via TKO (strikes) – Round 2, 1:09
Darren Elkins def. Chas Skelly via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-27, 30-26)
EARLY PRELIMS – UFC Fight Pass, 6.30 p.m. ET
Diego Sanchez def. Jim Miller via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Jason Saggo def. Justin Salas via TKO (punches) – Round 1, 4:31
Teruto Ishihara def. Julian Erosa via knockout (punches) – Round 2, 0:34
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.
Rhode Island Prospect John Douma Booked for CES 49 against Zach Burhans
The New England regional MMA scene has been fairly quiet this month. Such a description won’t be apt one month from now. As the days fade away from the month of March, the two most prominent organizations of this region gear up for early April events. The CES MMA promotion holds CES 49, on the first Friday of April (April 6th). CES 49 takes place in its hub venue, Twin River Casino, in Lincoln, Rhode Island.
Yesterday, CES officials announced John Douma, a highly regarded pro featherweight prospect, makes his third appearance for the MMA promotion, when he faces Zach Burhans at CES 49.
For John Douma, he looks to continue his career with an undefeated record. At 2-0, Douma owns two stoppage victories, both coming in the first round (1 KO/TKO, 1 Sub). Born and raised in Wyckoff, Rhode Island, Douma is the New England regions 18th ranked pro Featherweight (Rankings by Tapology.com). A lofty ranking for a 21-year-old with only two professional fights on his record. Especially so in the regions most prominent professional division.
Zach Burhans comes into next months match with a similar amount of experience. Burhans has four professional fights in his arsenal of experience with a record of 3-1. Twice that of his opponent, but two times a small number is still a small number. The New York fighter makes his promotional debut at next months CES 49.
Surprisingly, Burhans has not fought since his last loss, which came in March of 2011. The loss was the first of his four fight pro career. It also was the first fight for Burhans since August of 2009. At CES 49, he ends his second hiatus from professional mixed martial arts. His second and most recent break from the sport was his longest. Burhans did not compete from March 2011, until next months CES MMA card. Making the span between his most recent and upcoming, around 6 years and nine months.
CES 49 takes place at Twin River Casino in Lincoln, Rhode Island on April 6th. Other bouts featured on the card include, #1 ranked New England Lightweight, Nate Andrews takes on Chris Padilla for the promotions vacant Lightweight title. Kaline Medeiros attempts to bounce back following her 3rd round submission loss to rising star, Mackenzie Dern at Invicta 26, when she faces 11th ranked pound-for-pound New England women’s fighter, Jenna Serio. Also, Chris Curtis goes up against Jason Norwood in a main card Welterweight clash.
Report: Bellator plans Rome event for July
With the news of Bellator 200, turning a bit stale being nearly a week old, comes more international event news for the promotion. According to a report by Raphael Marinho of Combate, Bellator scheduled its third international event of 2018. In the report, it states the promotion booked July 14th as a date for a Rome, Italy event.
It will be the first event held by Bellator in the historic city of Rome, Italy. The first in Rome, but the fifth Bellator event in Italy. Previously, the promotion made stops in Torino and Florence, Italy, holding two events in each location. It also marks the 23rd international held by Bellator. 23 events across 10 cities, and 5 countries.
The previous four Italian events held a mixture of combat sports. Each of the events had a Kickboxing card, serving as the main event and an MMA card, which acted as a main card. News of an accompanying Kickboxing card, most likely, would come following a formal announcement of the event.
Also included in the report, the promotion is working to make Alessio Sakara the headliner of evening. Sakara spent nine years with the UFC (Oct. 2005 – Oct. 2013). Over that span, he earned a record of 6-8. He was cut following four consecutive loses. Before signing with Bellator, Sakara signed with Final Fight Championship, where he went 1-0, 1 NC. His final fight with FFC (Final Fight Championship) was a 1:32 KO of his opponent.
The Italian athlete, Sakara, fought on three of the four previous Italy held Bellator events. Sakara headlined Bellator 190 & 168, while begin the co-main event for Bellator 152. Interestingly, the Middleweights only Bellator competition took place in his home country of Italy. He is 2-1 with the promotion, defeating Brian Rogers and Joey Beltran, respectively, while losing to Middleweight champion, Rafael Carvalho, most recently.
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