UFC Fight Night 67 takes place on May 30 at the Goiania Arena in Goiania, Brazil and will be headlined by Carlos “The Natural Born Killer” Condit and Thiago “Pitbull” Alves. Two former Welterweight title challengers who are looking to earn another shot at the belt. Before the main event though, five fighters will compete in the Octagon for the very first time. Let’s take a look at those fighters in more detail.
Fighter: Ericka Almeida
Team: Academy Octavio Almeida/Herman Gutierrez Team
Previous Organisation: Jungle Fight
Notable Victories: N/A
Ericka Almeida is yet another Jungle Fight champion who will relinquish their title to compete in the UFC. She steps into her fight with Juliana Lima on short notice as Lima’s original opponent Jessica Penne will now be headlining against the Women’s Strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejcyk at UFC Fight Night 69 on June 20.
Almeida enters this fight as an undefeated prospect and will look to keep it that way as she fights her toughest test to date in Juliana Lima. Her opponent is coming off her first UFC victory when she beat Nina Ansaroff last year and will look to build on it as both women enter this fight with a point to prove. Both Brazilian women are well versed in Jiu Jitsu but I give a slight edge (at least in MMA grappling) to Almeida. If this fight hits the mat, expect to see good grappling exchanges and transitions but every fight starts on the feet and I believe it is here that Lima will have the advantage although she’ll have to watch out for Almeida’s knees in the clinch..
Almeida has only gone out of the first round once and has 6 submission victories out of her 7 fights so I see her wanting to get this fight to the ground as fast as she can. If her previous fights are anything to go by, Lima will have to weather an early storm if she is to implement her game plan.
Here is Almeida’s last fight at Jungle Fight 76 against Jennifer Gonzalez.
Fighter: Tom Breese
Team: Tristar Gym
Previous Organisation: BAMMA/Cage Warriors
Notable Victories: N/A
The next UFC debutante is another undefeated young gun looking to make their mark on the highest stage. Tom “The Octopus” Breese, is a 23 year old from Birmingham who currently trains at and fights out of the highly regarded Tristar Gym in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Breese will be fighting the Brazilian Luiz Dutra, who is coming off a disqualification loss in his UFC debut to Kiichi Kunimoto.
Breese has finished all of his 7 fights and 6 of those finishes have been by way of submission with just the 1 knock out. At 6 ft 3, Breese is very much on the tall side when it comes to the Welterweight division so he will have a significant height advantage against the 5 ft 11 Dutra. This size could come as an advantage if the fight hits the mat as Breese’s grappling game is very strong and he always looks to finish the fight. On the feet, Breese will also possess a reach advantage but I feel that the striking of Dutra is more dangerous.
Breese fights out of Tristar which is often spoken of as one of the best MMA gyms in the world. Fighters out of that camp typically look much better after every fight so I expect Breese to do well in this fight.
Here is Tom Breese in his last fight against Thibaud Larchet from CWFC 74.
Fighter: Elizeu Zaleski Dos Santos
Team: CM System
Previous Organisation: Jungle Fight
Notable Victories: N/A
After entertaining the Brazilian fans with his exciting fights in the Jungle Fight promotion for the last couple of years, Elizeu Zaleski Dos Santos is making his UFC debut in what could very well be a contender for fight of the night against fellow debutante and striker Nicolas Dalby. Winning his last 4 fights with finishes, the main they call “Capoeira” will have a lot of confidence coming into this fight.
Dos Santos began training in Capoeira when he was 9 years old and it is evident in the way he throws all of his strikes with such fluidity. Along with his 11 TKO finishes are 2 submissions and just the one fight that has gone the distance so expect to see Dos Santos try and keep the fight standing, especially as I’m sure he’ll want to test his skills against the Karateka Dalby.
Here is Dos Santos fighting against Itamar Rosa at Jungle Fight 71
Fighter: Nicolas Dalby
Team: Rumble Sports
Previous Organisation: Cage Warriors
Notable Victories: N/A
The man who will make his debut against the above-mentioned Dos Santos is Nicolas Dalby, an undefeated fighter out of Denmark with a background in Karate and a purple belt in BJJ. Dalby has been fighting in Cage Warriors and other European organisations for a few years now and when he steps inside the Octagon, he will be just the second Dane after former top Middleweight and Welterweght Martin Kampmann.
This fight is very intriguing on the feet as both fighters have very unique striking bases with Dalby having a Karate base and Dos Santos being a Capoeira practitioner. Both are experts with their kicks but throw them from different angles and at different speeds. This fight could either be a quick knock out or they could both negate each others offense and it could become a technical battle. If that happens and the fight goes to the ground, it would be interesting to see both Dalby and Dos Santos in areas that we don’t normally see.
Here is Nicolas Dalby fighting Mohsen Bahari at CWFC 74.
Fighter: Darren Till
Team: Astra Fight Team
Previous Organisation: MSC – MMA Sanda Combat
Notable Victories: N/A
The last fighter to make his debut on this card will be Darren Till. A 22 year old from Liverpool who trains and fights in Brazil, Till will bring an undefeated record to the Octagon as he steps in as a late replacement for TJ Waldburger against Wendell Oliveira.
Darren Till has a Muay Thai background which is evident in his ability to throw kicks at will but he tends to avoid the clinch and only fight from the outside which is where he has the most success. If he can implement this against Oliveira and use his height advantage to keep the fight at a comfortable distance, he could be in with a shot. If he can’t however, he’ll have to avoid the lethal boxing that Oliveira possesses or his chin will be tested out. Both fighters have 2 submission wins only as they both prefer to stand so if the fight were to make it’s way to the mat, I figure the fresher man would take the win.
Here is Darren Till against Guillermo Martinez Ayme from Arena Tour 4.
Forget Cormier vs. Jones – Cyborg vs. Megan Anderson Should Headline UFC 214
Daniel Cormier vs. Jon Jones II is all but confirmed for UFC 214 in Anaheim, California on July 29. Despite the magnitude of the light-heavyweight championship rematch, the UFC would do well to look elsewhere for their UFC 214 main event — namely in the direction of Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino and Megan Anderson.
The UFC’s schedule for the first half of 2017 is largely booked as of now. Fight announcements for July are coming in daily but there is still no clue as to who might headline UFC 213, the promotion’s International Fight Week pay-per-view offering. Jon Jones is expected to make his long-awaited return in July however not for 213.
UFC President Dana White has stated that Jones will not be eligible to compete during International Fight Week due to his suspension, making UFC 214 in late July the most likely option. White also insisted that Jones cannot be trusted to headline an event due to his past transgressions.
If White holds true to his word it’ll be a bizarre and unfortunate set of circumstances to promote the most important rematch in the history of the UFC. Many titleholders are booked for the moment, so the Cormier vs. Jones rerun would seem the most logical choice. However, as has been the norm in the past two years of UFC promotion an interim title can be slapped on to any semi-interesting match.
Countless arguments are made about how interim titles are senseless and harmful to the actual titleholder but those arguments although valid, are not much more than gripes.
The absence of sanctioning bodies in mixed martial arts are a contentious point of debate in the MMA community and combat sports in general but sanctioning bodies in regard to titles are almost always a nuisance in the world of boxing.
Any educated fan knows who the real champion is. Even in the rare instance where the interim titleholder is held in higher regard or more popular than the actual champion as was the case with Conor McGregor and Jose Aldo, nothing was done to diminish the value of the featherweight belt.
The notion that a title fight must headline a card may be antiquated but it seems that is the manner that the UFC will continue to handle business for the foreseeable future. Five rounds are seldom a negative in high-level MMA and an interim belt would be most justified if a match is made between former Invicta featherweight champion Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino and current champion Megan Anderson.
If Cormier vs. Jones will play second fiddle to another fight, an interim featherweight title fight between “Cyborg” and Anderson would be a sensible headliner for UFC 214. Given the lack of options and the current featherweight champion’s fighting future in doubt, the fight would merit its headlining spot.
Jones in a co-headliner may seem strange business wise. It is rare for Dana White to put morale ahead of dollar signs but if it is the case it may be for the better. An alpha male like Jones doesn’t want to be second to anyone. The very fact that the marquee will say Cormier vs. Jones instead of Jones vs. Cormier most likely rankles with the superstar.
Yet the promotion of Jones is more intriguing now than it ever has been. Jones reportedly pulled in right under 500,000 buys for UFC 197. Not too shabby for a 15-month layoff with a lukewarm undercard.
Moreover, a fight with the magnitude of Cormier Vs. Jones will be heavily promoted under any circumstance. ESPN, TMZ, Deadspin, will all be pulled towards covering the event, so the co-main event placing may not be that big of a deal. The benefits that the Cormier/Jones rematch can provide for the women’s featherweight division are substantial.
..that the fight itself was between a 135 pounder who had lost her last two and a fringe top 10 bantamweight didn’t make matters any better.
UFC 208 was the official introduction of the featherweight division in the Ultimate Fighting Championship and it wasn’t loved by many spectators. Germaine de Randamie outpointed Holly Holm in a 25-minute striking affair.
Technically, the fight was brilliant but provided not a single awe-inspiring moment. The fact that there was controversy regarding some illegal blows, a contested decision, and that the fight itself was between a 135 pounder who had lost her last two and a fringe top 10 bantamweight didn’t make matters any better.
The great thing about a Cyborg/Anderson fight is that both women really want the fight and also happen to be great kickboxers that have genuine horsepower. “Cyborg” trounced Leslie Smith in less than a round and utterly pummeled Lina Lansberg in just over five minutes. Anderson is young and still relatively raw but has some exceptional power at featherweight.
The desire to improve is also not lost on the talented Aussie. Her Invicta FC debut was an embarrassingly one-sided loss to notorious overachieving veteran Cindy Dandois.
Grappling is an aspect of MMA that Anderson hasn’t fully grasped as of yet but is miles ahead of where she was in 2015. Anderson’s 2016 was outstanding with three knockouts in a row and she showed her artistic side as she used Charmaine Tweet’s blood to splatter the canvas red like a deranged college activist student.
There was a USADA flagging for “Cyborg” after her last win that was retroactively cleared. Unfortunate and badly timed, it ended up rekindling an old hatred that some in the MMA community have had for the Brazilian since her first positive test in 2011.
“Cyborg” is a respectful competitor and her fighting style is barbaric but her past with PEDs rubs some fans the wrong way, making her a lightning rod for controversy. More often than not, controversy sells.
In the skills and experience department “Cyborg” will hold a distinct advantage, however, Anderson is not lacking in confidence and may be the first fighter that can match “Cyborg’s” power. Anderson also happens to be a fan favourite in Invicta and isn’t shy about trash talking when the opportunity calls for it.
Justino vs. Anderson would not only be a well-matched and entertaining scrap, it would possess something many women’s MMA fights are too commonly missing, intrigue.
Ronda Rousey is unlikely to come back and that leaves the UFC looking for ways to create a new female star. This bout would seem like the most probable one to do that.
Rousey had a great home backing in Southern California from early on in her career and it might be time for “Cyborg” to take some of those fans as she has been a SoCal native for years. Anaheim is only a few miles from “Cyborg’s” hometown of Huntington Beach and it shares an ocean with The Land Down Under.
If a sacrifice is made by the UFC to prove a point, then let it be one that carries some positive possibilities for other athletes who are hungry and deserving of the spotlight. Step aside Jones, and let the ladies handle this one.
Reports: Vitor Belfort to step in against Anderson Silva at UFC 212
UFC 212 may have a new co-main event featuring two legends from Brazil.
Ag.Fight has reported Vitor Belfort has offered to fill in for Kelvin Gastelum to face Anderson Silva at UFC 212 in Rio on June 3.
Gastelum was originally scheduled to face Silva, but due to a potential USADA anti-doping violation which saw Gastelum flagged for marijuana metabolites stemming from an in-competition sample collected on March 11, 2017, a provisional suspension was levied and he was removed from the card.
Silva, who celebrates his 42nd birthday on April 14, will remain on the UFC 212 card which is headlined by a featherweight title fight between Max Holloway and Jose Aldo. Silva found his way back into the win column at UFC 208 where he won a unanimous decision over Derek Brunson, notching the 34th professional victory for the former UFC Middleweight Champion. The win over Brunson is the first official victory on Silva’s record since UFC 153 over Stephan Bonnar since the win over Nick Diaz at UFC 183 has since been overturned to a No Contest.
Due to Gastelum’s USADA issues, we may have a rematch of a title bout that took place at UFC 126 that saw Silva defend his middleweight strap against Belfort in devastating fashion.
Belfort, who turned 40 on April 1, has one more fight remaining on his UFC contract and expressed his desires to fulfill his contract after suffering a loss in his last outing to the aforementioned Gastelum at UFC Fight Night 106 in March. The loss was the third straight TKO loss for the former champion, whose last win came over Dan Henderson at UFC Fight Night 77 in November 2015. Belfort always wants the biggest fight available, and name-wise, they don’t come much bigger than Anderson Silva.
While both men have had their bumps in the road in the recent final chapters of their careers, fighting on their home soil in Brazil is something both men always look forward to.
UFC 212 takes place at the HSBC Arena in Rio de Janerio, Brazil on June 3, 2017.
Confirmed bouts include:
- Jose Aldo vs. Max Holloway
- Claudia Gadelha vs. Karolina Kowalkiewicz
- Antonio Carlos Junior vs. Eric Spicely
- Johnny Eduardo vs. Matthew Lopez
- Marco Antonio Beltran vs. Delveson Alcantra
- Yancy Medeiros vs. Erick Silva
- Paulo Henrique Costa vs. Oluwale Bamgbose
- Leonardo Santos vs. Olivier Aubin-Mercier
Rafael Carvalho – I Hope Manhoef Comes to Fight This Time
Bellator 176 takes place this Saturday on April 8th from Torino, Italy and will mark the promotion’s second trip to Italy after Bellator 152 which took place almost one year ago. The main event for the event will be a middleweight title rematch between champion Rafael Carvalho and challenger Melvin Manhoef.
The two first met at Bellator 155 in May of last year. On that occasion, Carvalho left with a decision victory that some felt should have gone the way of his Dutch opponent. Carvalho does not believe that the judges will be required this time, however. “I will defend my title with a knockout,” Carvalho told MMA Latest News. “I hope he (Manhoef) comes to fight this time like the Manhoef we know.”
The fight received some criticism at the time from fans and even Bellator commentator Jimmy Smith. However, Carvalho believes the blame for that lies squarely at the feet of Manhoef, whose tactics on the night surprised him. “I trained for, and came with, a tactic to knock him out,” Carvalho explained. “However, he did not come to fight and was not as aggressive as he usually is. He was afraid I would take him to the ground. I do not understand why he ran away from the fight. I was always moving forward but he did not want to come and strike, just to use low kicks. You do not win a fight with only low kicks.”
The rematch takes place in Europe, which is a first for Carvalho, but will also be in front of a crowd that loves striking, as the card takes place in conjunction with a Bellator kickboxing event. That is something which excites the Brazilian. “It will be really good to fight in Europe,” Carvalho enthused. “Europe is the land of the great K-1 strikers – the fans love strikers. Manhoef is a feared striker and I hope he does not sh*t himself scared and comes for a murderous striking fight.”
The fact that the event is happening alongside a Bellator kickboxing event has another level of intrigue to it, as Carvalho also revealed that he is planning on competing on a Bellator kickboxing card in the near future and hopes to fight in both Bellator disciplines. “I think about it a lot,” he said. “My manager has already informed Bellator that I would like to fight in Bellator Kickboxing also.”
The expansion of Bellator in recent times has been there for all to see, from signing big name free agents such as Rory MacDonald and Ryan Bader, to hosting more shows in different countries such as Italy and Ireland. However, one country that the promotion has not yet visited is Brazil, which is something that Carvalho believes should happen in the near future – and one would have to believe that Carvalho would have a strong case to headline such an event. “It would be a great show,” he began. “Bellator cannot stay out of Brazil. Brazilians love MMA – it is where it all started. A show in Curitiba or Rio de Janeiro would be a great success. We have many top Brazilian fighters in Bellator. A card in Brazil cannot wait any longer.”
Bellator 176 takes place on April 8th from Pala Alpitour in Torino, Italy. Tune in to see Rafael Carvalho and Melvin Manhoef settle the score once and for all to see who will leave Europe with the Bellator middleweight title.
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