Who doesn’t love a title fight for free? Especially when the card is absolutely stacked. The fight that many have been waiting on for years is finally here, as Bantamweight Champion TJ Dillashaw faces off against an incredibly dangerous Dominick Cruz. From the first fight of the UFC Fight Pass prelims to the title fight televised on FS1, this is an incredible card.
FIGHT TO WATCH: Anthony Pettis vs. Eddie Alvarez
Showtime is back. I repeat, Showtime is back! That alone makes this the fight to watch of the evening. Prior to losing to current Lightweight Champion Rafael dos Anjos at UFC 185, Anthony Pettis (18-3, 5-2 UFC) was on a 5-fight win streak which saw him beat Benson Henderson for the UFC title and defend it against Gilbert Melendez. The owner of one of the most replayed moves in MMA history, the Showtime Kick, Pettis is looking to go on another run to the title. His opponent, Eddie Alvarez (26-4, 1-1 UFC), is ready to make a title run of his own. After losing his UFC debut to Donald Cerrone via decision at UFC 178, Alvarez rebounded with a split decision victory over Gilbert Melendez in June at UFC 188. Pettis said of Alvarez, “I don’t think he’s even a challenge,” to which Alvarez is looking to respond in the cage by dictating how the fight goes. This is going to be an incredible fight and one of the most intriguing fights in the lightweight division with heavy title implications.
HONORABLE MENTION 1: Paul Felder vs. Daron Cruickshank
A losing streak is going to end one way or the other on Sunday. Paul Felder (10-2, 2-2 UFC) and Daron Cruickshank (16-7, 6-5-1 UFC) are both on two-fight losing streaks but are both incredibly talented mixed martial artists just a couple wins away from the upper echelon of the lightweight division. “The Irish Dragon” Felder was 10-0 prior to losing to Edson Barboza in July and after a quick turnaround promptly lost to Ross Pearson. After a couple months off, Felder is looking to show why he is one of the best fighters in the lightweight division. His opponent, Cruickshank, started his UFC career with two wins and since has been very up and down. He, as well as Felder, is looking to rebound from losing his last two fights. This is sure to be a war between two extremely talented men with little to lose and everything to gain.
HONORABLE MENTION 2: Maximo Blanco vs. Luke Sanders
The long awaited UFC debut of Luke “Cool Hand” Sanders (10-0) is finally here. The undefeated RFA Bantamweight Champion is about to take a step up in competition. His opponent, Maximo Blanco (12-6, 4-3 UFC), is not a pushover. Blanco is currently on a 3-fight win streak and is looking to end the hype surrounding Sanders. Both men are incredibly tough and talented fighters and this is sure to be a good fight between two men who are on substantial winning streaks.
UFC Fight Night 81 takes place this Sunday, January 17 at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts.
Full fight card:
- T.J. Dillashaw vs. Dominick Cruz *Bantamweight Championship Bout*
- Anthony Pettis vs. Eddie Alvarez
- Travis Browne vs. Matt Mitrione
- Ross Pearson vs. Francisco Trinaldo
- Patrick Cote vs. Ben Saunders
- Chris Wade vs. Mehdi Baghdad
- Maximo Blanco vs. Luke Sanders
- Paul Felder vs. Daron Cruickshank
- Tim Boetsch vs. Ed Herman
- Charles Rosa vs.
- Sean O’Connell vs. Ilir Latifi
- Rob Font vs. Joey Gomez
- Francimar Barroso vs. Elvis Mutapcic
*Hettes has been reported out of the fight due to injury. There has not been a replacement announced at this time.
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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