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UFC 203 – The Perils of a Hometown Advantage

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Every fighter will try their best to defuse the situation when asked is their added pressure associated with a certain fight. “It’s just a fight” is thrown out religiously in combat sports and while the contest immediately in front of an athlete is always the most pressing there are certain situations in an athlete’s career where added pressure is certainly present. For reigning heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic UFC203 has the potential to be one of these situations.

The opportunity to fight in front of one’s hometown can be viewed as a blessing as well as a curse. This is the cauldron of pressure that Miocic will step into this Saturday as he faces Alistair Overeem at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio.

The sport of mixed martial arts has had some revered champions in the past. These men and women are appreciated by the fans for a number of reasons, be it , an entertaining style, an outspoken personality or a combination of both. The most striking characteristic that can be attributed to the likes of Anderson Silva, Ronda Rousey and Georges St- Pierre that separates them from the rest, is their unique ability to perform whether or not they are walking into the lion’s den of an unforgiving crowd or in front of favorable home support.

GSP is the perfect example of this. Throughout his illustrious run as UFC welterweight champion, some of St Pierre’s greatest performances took place in front of thousands of home fans urging their champion on with fervor. GSP unified the welterweight title in Montreal against Matt Serra. He would go on to defend the belt four more times in Canada to cement his legacy as the sport’s biggest star, becoming a household name in the Great White North in the process.

While he smashed some of the UFC’s attendance records for his fights in Canada, Georges also beat a who’s who of welterweight greats in the US proving his physical and mental dominance in both situations. His continuous display of mental fortitude in the line of fire was an integral part of who Georges’ was a champion and why he is still loved to this day.

Stipe Miocic has experienced one side of this double edged sword so far. In 2015 the Croatian-American brutalized Mark Hunt in Adelaide Australia, the Super Samoan’s back yard.

The Heavyweight Champion put on a show in Curitiba, Brazil this past May when he downed hometown hero Fabricio Werdum with one punch, a punch that shook up the world. Miocic showed his championship mettle as he snatched the belt, shocking the 45,000 Brazilian mixed martial arts fans in attendance that had been baying for his blood throughout fight week. The lights and spectacle of a huge pay per view had certainly rattled Werdum causing him to rush in with his chin raised against one of the heavyweight division’s most talented boxers.

Almost one year prior to UFC198 Fabricio Werdum captured heavyweight gold in similar circumstances. Fighting for the title in Mexico City against Cain Velasquez was a big ask. Velasquez an American of Mexican descent held home court advantage and was already a two-time heavyweight champion at this stage. Despite the fact Werdum had captured interim gold previously in the Arena Ciudad de Mexico he would be viewed by the majority in attendance as an outsider looking to play spoiler to a Mexican crowd starved of a hero in Mixed Martial Arts.

What unfolded was a masterclass in every facet of MMA. Werdum beat Velasquez in the clinch, on the outside and in the third round pounced on a sloppy takedown attempt to wrap up a guillotine choke. Velasquez did not factor in the toll that fighting at high altitude would play and paid the price as a jubilant Werdum stunned Mexico.

When looking at these past two heavyweight championship fights two conclusions can immediately be drawn. The volatile nature of the heavyweight division can is clear for all to see. One punch can prove to be the defining moment of any fight. The second question worth looking at is; Is it an easier task to build up confidence walking into a foreign arena? A siege mentality certainly seems extremely difficult to break. With little or no pressure on a foreign challenger, it can simply allow the fighter to concentrate on the task at hand and not the magnitude of the occasion.

Just as the MMA world had begun to place Werdum’s name at the top of the sports heavyweight greats, his title reign came to a screeching halt before it had truly begun. The party for Stipe, on the other hand, had only just got going.

An avalanche of promotional work accompanied his ascension to the heavyweight throne. His title victory was the first championship won by an athlete or team from Cleveland in 52 years. Having broken the infamous “Cleveland sports curse” the champions success prompted an NBA finals victory for the Cavaliers. The cities sports scene is flourishing.

While Cleveland rides a wave of success, the familiar traps could easily have been laid for a title upset on September 10th. Miocic will have to separate himself from the 20,000 odd screaming fans to decipher the complicated puzzle that is Alistair Overeem.

If Miocic has learned anything from his experiences this past May he will not have overlooked the dangers of a hometown advantage while lavishing in its benefits. If this is the case we may well have another cause for a sporting celebration in “The Land” and Miocic may well join the list of former champions who rose to the occasion under the brightest of lights. Either way, UFC203’s main event is sure to be a cracker.

Stay tuned to MMALatestNews this week for pre and post-fight coverage of UFC203 which takes place this coming Saturday in Cleveland Ohio.


For the latest MMA news, live event coverage and more follow @mmalatestnws on Twitter.

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Events

*Live Updates* UFC Winnipeg Official Results

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The UFC returns to Canada for the final Fight Night card of 2017. In the cold of Winnipeg, Manitoba, the UFC will host eleven of the originally twelve scheduled fights. Unfortunately, Tim Elliot will not fight in the north country. His scheduled opponent, Pietro Menga, a newcomer to the promotions roster, failed to make weight after taking the bout with just over a weeks notice.

An exciting main card will be capped off with a potential contender eliminator bout featuring, Robbie Lawler and Rafael Dos Anjos. The former champions (Lawler at welterweight, Dos Anjos at lightweight) both put together impressive win streaks which dispatched top contenders in their respective divisions. Elsewhere on the main card, Santiago Ponzinibbio takes on the outspoken Mike Perry.

The card begins on UFC Fight Pass at 4:30/1:30 ETPT.

UFC Winnipeg Official Results:

MAIN CARD – FOX – 8PM/5PM ETPT

  • #2 Robbie Lawler (28-11) vs. #4 Rafael Dos Anjos (27-9) – Welterweight bout
    • Result: Rafael Dos Anjos def. Robbie Lawler via unanimous decision (50-45, 50-45, 50-45)
  • #3 Ricardo Lamas (18-5) vs. Josh Emmett (12-1) – Catchweight bout (148.5 lbs)
    • Result: Josh Emmett def. Ricardo Lamas via KO (punch) 4:33 round 1
  • #10 Santiago Ponzinibbio (25-3) vs. Mike Perry (11-1) – Welterweight bout
    • Result: Santiago Ponzinibbio def. Mike Perry via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
  • #3 Glover Teixeira (26-6) vs. #7 Misha Cirkunov (13-3) – Light Heavyweight bout
    • Result: Glover Teixeira def. Misha Cirkunov via TKO (punches) 2:45  round 1

PRELIMINARY CARD – FS1 – 5PM/2PM ETPT

  • #14 Jared Cannonier (10-2) vs #15 Jan Blachowicz (20-7) – Light Heavyweight bout
    • Result: Jan Blachowicz def. Jared Cannonier via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
  • Julian Marquez (6-1) vs. Darren Stewart (7-2) – Middleweight bout
    • Result: Julian Marquez def. Darren Stewart via submission (standing guillotine) 2:42 round 2
  • Chad Laprise (13-2) vs. Galore Bofando (5-2) – Welterweight bout
    • Result: Chad Laprise def. Galore Bofando via TKO (punches) 4:10 round 1
  • Nordine Taleb (13-4) vs Danny Roberts (14-2) – Welterweight bout
    • Result: Nordine Taleb def. Danny Roberts via KO (head kick and punch) :59 round 1
  • John Makdessi (14-6) vs Abel Trujillo (15-7) – Lightweight bout
    • Result: John Makdessi def. Abel Trujillo via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
  • Alessio Di Chirico (10-2) vs Oluwale Bamgbose (6-3) – Middleweight bout
    • Result: Alessio Di Chirico def. Oluwale Bamgbose via KO (knee) 2:14 round 2

EARLY PRELIMINARY CARD – UFC FIGHT PASS – 4:30PM/1:30PM ETPT

  • Jordan Mein (29-12) vs. Erick Silva (19-8) – Welterweight bout
    • Result: Jordan Mein def. Erick Silva via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-27, 30-26)
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Fight Announcements

Gilbert Burns vs. Olivier Aubin-Mercier Added to UFC Orlando

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The UFC has now added more bouts to the front end of their 2018 schedule. Gilbert Burns (13-2, 5-2 UFC) will face Olivier Aubin-Mercier (10-2, 6-2 UFC) in Orlando, Florida on February 24th, 2018.

Alongside a few other high-profile fight announcements, is the addition to the UFC Orlando, Florida card. The two lightweights will join Jake Collier and Marcin Prachnio, as the second fight set for the event.

It has been a while since the UFC hosted an event in the state of Florida. Last seen by the Floridians was UFC on Fox: Texeira vs. Evans, on April 16, 2016 in Tampa Bay. The card was a success, despite the cancellation of its planned main event between Tony Ferguson and Khabib Nurmagomedov. Drawing a gate of $1.05 million and 2.13 million viewers.

Gilbert Burns signed with the UFC after accumulating an undefeated record of 8-0. His first loss came in his home country of Brazil, as Rashid Magomedov defeated him via unanimous decision at UFC Fight Night: Belfort vs. Henderson 3, in November of 2015.

In his most recent bout, Burns defeated Jason Saggo by KO with five seconds remaining in the second round at UFC Fight Night: Rockhold vs. Branch.

Aubin-Mercier will come into the contest as a winner in his last three bouts. The Canadian fighter trains out of the Tristar gym, alongside legends such as Georges St. Pierre and head coach, Firas Zahabi.

In 2011, Aubin-Mercier was chosen to compete on The Ultimate Fighter: Nations. Competing in the welterweight bracket, he became a finalist by defeating both, Jake Mathews (unanimous decision) and Richard Walsh (rear naked choke). In the finale, Aubin-Mercier lost to Chad Laprise by split decision.

UFC Orlando will take place at the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida on February 24th, 2018.

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Eryk Anders vs. Lyoto Machida Officially Headlines UFC Belem

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Eryk Anders vs. Lyoto Machida is officially booked to headline UFC Belem in Brazil.

Following his unanimous decision victory over Markus Perez on last weekends, UFC Fight Night: Ortega vs. Swanson, undefeated middleweight, Eryk Anders, called for the match-up with former UFC light heavyweight champion, Lyoto Machida. The UFC heard, and obliged.

First reported by The MMA Kings (@mma_kings.)

Anders holds a 2-0 undefeated record in the UFC. The Alabama native made his promotional debut against Rafael Nata in July of this year. A bout he took on short notice, replacing Alessio di Chirico whom withdrew from the fight due to a neck injury. Anders defeated Natal by knockout in the first round that night at UFC Long Island.

Prior to his indoctrination to MMA, the undefeated middleweight played for the University of Alabama football team, between 2006-2009.

Machida recently returned to the UFC roster after an 18-month suspension handed down by USADA, stemming from a failed out-of-competition test leading up to his April 2016 contest against Dan Henderson.

In his return to the octagon, Machida faced Derek Brunson in the main-event of the UFC Fight Night: Brunson vs. Machida, in Sao Paulo, Brazil. “The Dragon” lost the bout via first round KO.

UFC Belem, Brazil is scheduled for February 3rd, 2018, at the Mangueirinho Arena. The card will also feature the flyweight debut for Valentina Shevchenko as she faces Priscila Cachoeira

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