We may never come down from the emotional roller coaster of UFC 193 (that is until UFC 194 next month), but the show must go on. The Ultimate Fighter Latin America 2 has been airing on Fight Pass every Monday for the past couple months. The two coaches of the season, Kelvin Gastelum and Efrain Escudero, will be on the card to end the season. Here’s a look at all things TUF Latin America 2 Finale you need to know
Lineups and Times
Early Prelims- UFC Fight Pass (6:30 PM EST, 3:30 PM PST, 11:30 PM BST)
Welterweight: Vernon Ramos vs. Alvaro Herrera
Welterweight: Erick Montaro vs. Enrique Marin- TUF Latin America 2 Welterweight Finale
Lightweight: Valmir Lazaro vs. Michael Prazares
Preliminary Card- Fox Sports 1 (8 PM EST, 5 PM EST, 1 AM BST)
Featherweight: Gabriel Benitez vs. Andre Filli
Bantamweight: Scott Jorgensen vs. Alejando Perez
Welterweight: Hector Urbina vs. Bartosz Fabinski
Bantamweight: Erik Perez vs. Taylor Lapilus
Main Card- Fox Sports 1(10 PM EST, 7 PM PST, 3 AM BST)
Lightweight: Efrain Escudero vs. Leandro Silva
Flyweight: Jussier Formiga vs. Henry Cejudo
Featherweight: Ricardo Lamas vs. Diego Sanchez
Welterweight: Neil Magny vs. Kelvin Gastelum
As if this lineup card didn’t make you excited enough, here are four fights you can’t miss!
Efrain Escudero vs. Leandro Silva
The Lightweight division is STACKED and this is just another fight to add to the pile as Efrain Esucdero (24-9 MMA; 5-5 UFC)* and Leandro Silva (18-2-1, 1 NC; 2-1, 1 NC) start off the main card.
Escudero is The Ultimate Fight Season 8 Lightweight winner after beating favorite Phillipe Nover by decision. His first stint in the UFC yielded success as he went 3-2 before being cut. He made a second less successful try in the UFC where lost both of his fights. Now on his third UFC stint, Escudero has won his last two fights. His Mexican heritage has made him a selling point with the UFC’s new region. None of his stats jump out at you, but he’s a well rounded fighter. He’ll step into the octagon with 2.03 Significant Strikes Absorbed per Minute (SApM)**, 55% Takedown Accuracy and 1.0 Submission Attempt per 15 min.
Silva hasn’t lost a fight in his last three. His fight with Drew Dober was originally a Guillotine win for Silva but was overturned to a No-Contest by the Brazilian commission after the submission was wrongly stopped early. He came back with a decision win at UFC Fight Night 70 over Lewis Gonzalez. Silva is a known grappler (10 career wins by submission) who avoids getting hit(60% Striking Defense) to get the fight where he wants it.
Jussier Formiga vs. Henry Cejudo
Two top five Flyweights meet when Jussier Formiga (18-3; 4-2) and Henry Cejudo (9-0; 3-0) fight to move one step closer to a title shot.
Formiga is a winner of three straight and four of his last five. The Brazilian was thrown to the wolves to start his UFC career as he had a Flyweight title eliminator with John Dodson at UFC on FX 5. He came back with a decision win over future title challenger Chris Cariaso only to be put back in his place with a fight against number two Flyweight Joseph Benavidez, a fight he lost by TKO. Since then he as three straight wins over Scott Jorgensen (Rear-Naked Choke), Zach Makovsky (UD) and Wilson Reis (UD). His grinding style is a terrible stylistic matchup with a guy like Cejudo. He steps in with 66% Striking Defense, 2.71 Takedowns per 15 min. and 87% Takedown Defense (TDD).
Cejudo is a US Olympic gold medalist at the 2008 games. He was the youngest (21) athlete to ever win a gold medal at the Olympic games. As an MMA fighter, Cejudo has yet to lose a fight. He has battled weight issues in the past, missing weight two different occasions. Cejudo has three straight dominating wins in the UFC, losing only one round on one judges score sheet. His wrestling has found its way into the cage with him as he has yet to taken down in his career. His striking has come around evident by his 4.09 Significant Strikes Landed per Minute (SLpM) and only 2.11 SApM, good for a +1.98 Striking Differential.
Ricardo Lamas vs. Diego Sanchez
The co-main event is a Featherweight bout (yes, Featherweight) between two of the UFC’s biggest Mexican stars in Ricardo Lamas (15-4; 6-2) and Diego Sanchez (25-7; 13-7).
Lamas is just three fights removed from fighting for the Featherweight belt against Jose Aldo at UFC 169. Since his loss for the title, Lamas is 2-1 with the only loss coming at the hands of three time title challenger Chad Mendes when he was TKO’d in the first round of their main event fight at UFC Fight Night 63. Lamas’ only two UFC losses have come to Aldo and Mendes. Lamas is good at everything, but not really great at any one particular thing. His 2.33 SLpM and 2.19 SApM are about average, but his 1.3 Submission Attempts per 15 min. are above the norm.
Sanchez will become only the second UFC fighter to compete in four weight classes under the UFC banner if he makes weight for the fight. The other is his fellow TUF 1 Middleweight final opponent in Kenny Florian, who also fought at 145 for the last two fights of his career. ‘The Dream’ is a seasoned vet with 20 career fights, none of which have been boring. He is a seven time Fight of the Night winner with three of those getting the coveted Fight of the Year from a media outlet. Sanchez hasn’t been so hot lately with two of his last three fights ending with him the loser. The lone win was a very close Split-Decision win over Ross Pearson, a fight many thought Sanchez lost. Despite always being in ‘wars’, Sanchez doesn’t get hit that often (2.85 SApM) and can take his opponents down at a pretty good clip (1.56 Takedowns per 15 min.). He is best know for weathering the storm of fighters and then turning it on at the end of a round/fight.
Neil Magny vs. Kelvin Gastelum
In the main event is a Welterweight fight with future title implications. Neil Magny (16-4; 9-3) and Kelvin Gastelum (10-1; 6-1) will end the night of good fights. Gastelum was expected to face Matt Brown in the main event with Magny at UFC 195 against Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson. Brown had to pull out due to an ankle injury and was replaced by Magny, leaving ‘Wonderboy’ out of a fight at UFC 195.
Magny is a winner of eight of his last nine. He was on a seven fight win streak, all within 15 months of each other, before his submission loss to Damien Maia at UFC 190. He would step back in quickly with a Split-Decision win over Erick Silva at UFC Fight Night 74. This will be his fifth fight this year, equaling his total from last year. Magny is a lengthy Welterweight (80” reach) who uses his reach to stay away from his opponents to not get hit. He comes in 3.77 SLpM and only 1.60 SApM, good for the best Striking Differential in the division at +2.17. He also has a strong wrestling background with 2.91 Takedowns per 15 min. and 50% Takedown Accuracy.
Gastelum is The Ultimate Fighter Season 17 winner, beating favorite Uriah Hall by Split-Decision in the finale. After competing at Middleweight for the show, Gastelum moved down to his natural weight class of 170 pounds. He rattled off four straight wins after the finale with two Rear-Naked Choke wins. He was in a contender fight with fellow contender Tyron Woodley at UFC 183. Gastelum dropped the ball and missed weight by 10 pounds in the biggest fight of his career. He would also lose that fight and be forced to move up a weight class where he would win his only fight against Nate Marquardt. Just like his opponent, Gastelum is well rounded with stats to back it up; 3.60 SLpM, 2.42 SApM, 50% Takedown Accuracy and 66% Striking Defense.
*All records from Sherdog.com
**All stats from FightMetric.com
Felice Herrig vs. Karolina Kowalkiewicz in the works for UFC 223
UFC 223 looks to add a variety of intriguing bouts. With Paul Felder vs. Al Iaquinta reportedly set for the unannounced UFC 223 card, the promotion looks to add a high stakes female flyweight match-up. According to MMANYTT.com, sources confirmed a bout between Felice Herrig and Karolina Kowalkiewicz, is in the works for the pay-per-view card.
Assuming the match-up does come to be, both women have much to gain from a victory. For Herrig, she currently sits on a four-fight win streak. A streak in which the strawweight contender defeated Kailin Curran, Alexa Grasso, Justine Kish, and Cortney Casey. The MMA veteran, Herrig, began fighting professionally in 2009. As of late, her issues with the marketing machine that is the UFC have intensified.
After demonstrating her technical prowess over Justine Kish at UFC Fight Night 122: Chiesa vs. Lee, Herrig put her emotions on display. She stated at the post-fight media scrum, “Sometimes, I feel like, I’m not young and beautiful enough for the UFC to want to promote me. And it’s sad because I’ve really worked so hard to be here and it’s hard to see these people who’ve not been through what I’ve been through. Who just got into the UFC at the right time. They’re getting all these opportunities and I see how hard I work to get here and it’s just like, it doesn’t matter. I just feel like, ‘I’m not pretty enough and I’m not getting any younger'”.
A frustrated Felice Herrig then spoke to MMAJunkie.com in December. She claimed, “Aside from (former UFC women’s strawweight champ) Joanna (Jedrzejczyk), I’m the only strawweight who’s gone on a four-fight winning streak. That’s a fact. At this point, I want to fight someone in the top 10. It doesn’t really make sense for me to keep fighting girls that are ranked below me. That’s the whole point. If I want to keep working my way up. I fight the most dangerous girls outside the top 10”. The #9 ranked women’s flyweight has a point. In her UFC career, she recorded one loss in six appearances. Yet, she has one co-main event booking, while fighters like Michelle Waterson, booked the main event in her second UFC bout. In Waterson’s third bout, she received a co-main event scheduling. Understandably, Felice Herrig is upset with her situation.
Later in her interview, Herrig brought up Kowalkiewicz as a potential next opponent. “For whatever reason, I really want to fight Karolina. I just think that would be an exciting fight… Stylistically, I really like that fight. She’s ranked above (me), and it may be a good gauge for me,” she stated. Right now, it looks like Herrig is close to getting what she wants.
Kowalkiewicz last fought in her native country of Poland on the UFC Fight Pass card, UFC Fight Night 118: Cowboy vs. Till, in October. The Polish star defeated Jody Esquibel, after losing consecutive contests to former UFC female strawweight champion, Joanna Jedrzejcyk and Claudia Gadelha, respectively.
A win for either makes a good case for the next or an eventual title challenger. Kowalkiewicz holds a victory over current division champion, Rose Namajunas. While a win for Herrig would further establish her impressive win streak and undoubtedly give her the boost in the rankings she deserves.
Douglas Lima found out about change to co-main event at Bellator 192 from the internet
Bellator 192 fight card has gone through a shake-up over the past week. Bellator president Scott Coker revealed last week that the scheduled welterweight title fight between Rory MacDonald and champion Douglas Lima will now be serving as the co-main event and the heavyweight matchup between Chael Sonnen and Rampage Jackson would instead take top billing. At the time no explanation was made for the change. Monday Douglas Lima was a guest on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani to discuss this change.
“I was little bummed, but it is what it is, it’s business you know. I was pretty excited you know? Being the main event, having Rampage fight as the co-main event, I was happy there. Then I was bummed out that they changed it back to the co-main event. It’s not going to change a thing for me, I’m just focusing on the fight.”
Lima has been notoriously looked over in the eyes of fight fans. A longtime member of Bellator and a two-time champion has not gotten the notice he deserves and hopes to get.
“I found out through the internet, nobody tells me anything, I didn’t know. the same thing happened in New York, I thought my fight would be before the two main events there, but it ended up being the first fight of the night on Pay-Per-View. Hopefully, it doesn’t take anything away from the fight, you know spotlight and stuff.”
Lima is looking to make all the naysayers take notice at Bellator 192 that takes place at The Forum in Inglewood, Califonia on January 20th.
“This is the fight I’ve been waiting for for a long time. To get my name out there, to get people to know who I am. I’ve been delivering a lot of good fights, fights fans like to watch but no attention yet. I’m hoping though that after a win over Rory this week it will really put my name out there and show all these welterweights out there that I am for real.”
Al Iaquinta vs. Paul Felder rescheduled for UFC 223 in April
MMA fans around the world wept in deep sorrow when Al Iaquinta withdrew from a bout scheduled for UFC 218 against Paul Felder. Weep no more, for Paul Felder faces Al Iaquinta at UFC 223. Rumblings behind the match-up, first reported by FloCombat.com, came Sunday night before MMAFighting.com confirmed the bout scheduled for unannounced pay-per-view card, later in the evening.
The original bout fell through due to a severe knee injury to Iaquinta. He spoke to BJ Penn Radio about the injury nearly a week before the December 2nd, PPV event in Detriot. The Long Island real estate agent claimed, “I tore my PCL and my MCL maybe three or four months ago… for me to really put in a full training camp and do what I need to do, I would’ve had to just focus on fighting and physical therapy… it was the kind of thing where all roads led to me not kind of taking a risk and fighting on December 2nd”.
Iaquinta went on to say, “I kind of accepted the fight, but I never signed a bout agreement… I was kind of told I had to give them an answer pretty quick. It was a fight I thought I really wanted. I thought it was a good stylistic match-up for me, so I accepted the fight, and then thinking about it over the course of a day, we realized it probably wasn’t a smart decision for my health, for everything”.
An outspoken lightweight, he is not the first of his kind. Al Iaquinta is no stranger to idly waiting on the sideline for the UFC to make a move. Contract disputes and other bad strokes of luck left the Serra-Longo with three octagon appearances since 2015. The feud between Iaquinta and the promotion comes as a surprise when looking at the credentials of the aforementioned fighter. With an octagon record of 8-2, he earned notoriety as one of the best lightweights in the world. During his time in the UFC, he defeated Kevin Lee, Ross Pearson, Joe Lauzon, Jorge Masvidal, and most recently Diego Sanchez.
His opponent, “The Irish Dragon”, Paul Felder, holds an impressive UFC record of his own. At 7-3, Felder defeated tough competition as well. His record notes wins over Daron Cruickshank, Jason Saggo, Stevie Ray, and Charles Oliveira. Even more impressive than his record, his knockout ratio. At this stage of his career, Felder knockouts 55% of his opponents (10 knockouts in 18 career pro bouts).
Like his opponent Iaquinta, Paul Felder has a separate career outside of fighting. As many should notice, Felder found a role as a color commentator with the promotion he fights for. Following the footsteps in a long line of fighters before him, Felder announced multiple events alongside another new addition to the UFC broadcast team, Brendan Fitzgerald.
PPV card, UFC 223 and its location are not official yet. Despite a lack of an announcement, the event takes place in Brooklyn, New York at the Barclays Centre, according to multiple reports. Currently, the card features no official bouts. Reports state Felice Herrig vs. Karolina Kowalkiewicz (per Jim Edwards), and Evan Dunham vs. Mairbek Taisumov (per Farah Hannoun) are both in the works for UFC 223.
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