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UFC 222, Cyborg vs. Kunitskaya Pre-Fight Notes



Tonight, UFC 222 broadcasts live through the televisions of people across the world, hopefully. In truth, the MMA community is lucky to have two hundred and twenty-second pay-per-view on this weekend. As most of us know, the card was in jeopardy when one half of the headlining match-up withdrew.

The UFC planned to roll out a Featherweight title challenge, for the main event. They planned to have Frankie Edgar challenge defending champion, Max Holloway for the 145 lb. strap. Of course, that is not the main event fans are getting. As alluded to, Max Holloway withdrew from the card with leg injury, nearly one month before tonight’s event.

Cris Cyborg vs. Yana Kunitskaya is the new reality placed before us. A match-up most would confirm: nobody asked for. Not that the situation is bewildering, because what else could they do?

Separate from the odd situation, Yana Kunitskaya becomes the first UFC newcomer since, Gilbert Melendez to fight for a UFC title in their promotional debut.

Before you shout millions of suggestions towards your blue-light screen, consider the entirety of the situation. Factor in, the promotion needed a quick replacement. I doubt match-making, one month from an event is ideal in any scenario. Include the company’s current PPV strategy; Title Fights for PPV Main Events.

Reports around that time, indicated the UFCs desire to “save” the UFC 222 main event with a rematch of the recent and electrically legendary Bantamweight title contest between then-champion, Cody Garbrandt and current champion, TJ Dillashaw. The match-up never came to fruition. So the question becomes, who else could they book?

Every women’s division champion (besides Featherweight), is either booked or injured. Nicco Montano is in the process of recovering from a broken foot. Rose Namajunas is scheduled to rematch the ‘boogeywoman’ of whom she took her Strawweight belt from, Joanna Jedrzejczyk. Amanda Nunes was booked, although there was significant talk about a champ vs. champ showdown involving her and Cris Cyborg. Now, looking at the men’s divisions, options were scarce as well. If the champions were not already booked, they were in rehab for injuries or surgeries.

What else were they going to do? CM Punk vs. Floyd Mayweather?

Onto the Pre-Fight notes.

Don’t expect a lot of diversity tonight. Or do, it just depends on what type. Majority of tonight’s athletes hail from the United States. To be exact, tonight’s 24 fighters, represent 7 countries. Only two countries claim more than one athlete. The United States can claim 15, while Brazil claims 4. Hopefully, the math is not too confusing and it makes sense that each of the 5 remaining countries have one representative. Russia has Yana Kunitskaya, Belarus: Andrei Arlovski, Iran: Beniel Dariush, Cuba: Hector Lombard, Netherlands: Stefan Struve.

When it comes to weight classes representation tonight, one divisions prevalence is stronger than the rest, Bantamweights. UFC 222 holds four Bantamweight bouts, (in order) Bryan Caraway vs. Cody Stamann, John Dodson vs. Pedro Munhoz, Cat Zingano vs. Ketlen Vieira, and Sean O’Malley vs. Andre Soukhamthath. The only other division to make the walk more than once tonight, Featherweight. The division ends the card with Frankie Edgar vs. Brian Ortega in the co-main event, and Cris Cyborg vs. Yana Kunitskaya as the main event.

Continuing this pace of numbers, five fighters put their undefeated records on the line when they make the walk. Jordan Johnson when he takes on Adam Milstead, in the nights opening fight, Mackenzie Dern puts hers up against Ashley Yoder, Ketlen Vieira tests her 9-0 record against Cat Zingano, Sean O’Malley looks to improve to 10-0 when he faces Andre Soukhamthath, and Brian Ortega looks to keep his record clean when he takes on Frankie Edgar.

Three of tonight’s athletes make their promotional debut with the UFC. Alexander Hernandez, Mackenzie Dern, and Yana Kunitskaya all fight inside the octagon for the first time. Mackenzie Dern is the most notable of the names, despite Kunitskaya headlining the card. A lot of attention is directed towards Dern and her UFC debut. It is hard to avoid the attention being undefeated and attractive, especially in the current climate. And if you are wondering what the UFC thinks of her, watch the Embedded series or just notice she was booked to headline the FS1 prelims in her debut.

A peculiar juxtaposition, three athletes make their UFC debut and one fighter makes his final walk. The highly respected and MMA veteran of 41 fight, Mike Pyle will retire, win or lose, after tonight.

Tonight’s main card holds an interesting assortment of fighters. From Cat Zingano to Andrei Arlovski to Brian Ortega, the main card turned out well (on paper), considering the circumstances. Looking at the experience of the main card athlete’s you’ll find, between them, they’ve competed on 53 UFC PPV cards. Diving even further, 40 of the 53 PPV card appearances saw them fight on the main card. 7 of 53, were co-main event bookings while 11 were main event bouts.

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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.

GDANSK, POLAND – OCTOBER 21: (R-L) Darren Till of England punches Donald Cerrone in their welterweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event inside Ergo Arena on October 21, 2017 in Gdansk, Poland. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

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, 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.

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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.

Twin River Casino, Lincoln, Rhode Island. Photo courtesy of

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 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. 

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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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