On a night where the MMA world saw the welterweight title picture add a new contender, several fighters threw their names in as potential post fight award winners. We’ve managed to narrow it down to 3 choices. A knockout of the night, submission of the night, and fight of the night.
Knockout of the Night
The temptation was there to give this one to Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson for his dismantling of Johny Hendricks but I decided against it since, A) it wasn’t technically a knockout, and B) there was an absolutely devastating knockout earlier in the night. Diego Rivas was handled on the ground by Noad Lahat in round 1 but came back strong in round 2 and unleashed a brutal flying knee that put Lahat out cold. It was actually a scary scene after the knockout as Lahat appeared to be seizing at one point and a stretcher was brought out. Thankfully, Lahat was able to stand up on his own and walk out with some assistance from his coach. He was checked out at the hospital and was cleared of any serious injury. That flying knee puts Diego Rivas in the mix as an early contender for KO of the Year.
Submission of the Night
This was another one that could have gone another way but due to the pure brutality of the submission this goes to Cirkunov. While Mickey Gall’s 45 second rear naked choke over Mike Jackson was impressive, it didn’t elicit the same reaction that Cirkunov’s neck crank/rear naked choke of Alex Nicholson did. Cirkunov had been dominating Nicholson the entire fight before finally taking his back in round 2. He couldn’t quite get his arm under the neck of Nicholson, so the Latvian opted to place his forearm across his opponents jaw, creating the neck crank. Nicholson tapped almost immediately and grabbed his jaw in obvious pain. On replay you could hear an audible crack from Nicholson’s jaw and Cirkunov stated that he heard and felt it crack as he applied the submission.
Fight of the Night
Mike Pyle vs Sean Spencer
There were multiple seemingly one-sided fights on this card, so picking a fight of the night was actually quite easy. Mike Pyle and Sean Spencer went to war for 3 rounds in a fight that saw both fighters come close to finishing their opponent at different points. Spencer took round 1, using his jab very effectively and never letting Pyle get comfortable. In round 2, Spencer landed some more shots but Pyle started to show his veteran presence as he began to counter many of Spencer’s shots and even wobbled “Black Magic” at one point. The two traded shots in a close round but it seemed as though it was one round a piece going into the third. Round 3 was when Mike “Quicksand” Pyle lived up to his nickname. The longer the fight went, the more trouble Spencer was in. Pyle secured a takedown and was landing effective shots, but it still looked like this fight would go the distance. Then, with about 35 seconds left in the fight, Pyle connected with a spinning back elbow that rocked Spencer. Pyle, smelling blood, swarmed his opponent and unleashed a flurry of elbows, punches and knees until the ref stepped in and stopped the fight to give Pyle a late 3rd round TKO victory.
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.
Marco Reyes Flagged for Potential Anti-Doping Policy Violation
Earlier today, UFC officials announced that Lightweight, Marco Reyes was flagged for a potential UFC Anti-Doping Policy violation. The potential violation hails from a sample collected on March 8th, 2018, in an out-of-competition test.
Reyes made his way into the UFC through The Ultimate Fighter Latin America, season 2. Competing in the lightweight bracket, Reyes defeated Christhian Soto by 2nd rd. TKO of a preliminary round bout. He then went onto to face Horacio Gutiérrez, in the semifinals of the tournament. Gutiérrez defeated Reyes in the opening round by TKO.
Following his elimination from the tournament, the Mexican fighter met Cezar Arzamendia on the series finale, The Ultimate Fighter Latin America 2 Finale. Reyes impressively defeated Arzamendia, whom was the first overall pick for Team Gastelum, by 1st round KO.
From there, Reyes defeated Dong Hung Kim (rd. 1, KO), and Jason Novelli (Split Decision) respectively, before falling to rising contender James Vick. Most recently, the Lightweight fighter dispatched Matt Frevola in the opening round, ruining the Long Islanders promotional debut. His bout against Frevola took place at UFC Fight Night: Stephens vs. Choi, on January 14th of this year.
The UFC statement on the matter reads as follows:
The UFC organization was notified today that the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) has informed Marco Reyes of a potential Anti-Doping Policy violation stemming from an out-of-competition sample collected on March 8, 2018.
USADA, the independent administrator of the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, will handle the results management and appropriate adjudication of this case involving Reyes. Under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, there is a full and fair legal process that is afforded to all athletes before any sanctions are imposed. Additional information will be provided at the appropriate time as the process moves forward.
Dillon Danis to make Pro debut against Kyle Walker at Bellator 198
Mixed Martial Arts officially adopted another incredibly talented jiu-jitsu practioner today. Bellator officials announced today the long-awaited debut of Dillon Danis, whom the promotion had signed in the year previous. After zero amateur and countless jiu-jitsu matches, Danis makes his debut at Bellator 198: Mir vs. Emelianenko, against Kyle Walker.
Kyle Walker enters the match up also making his Bellator debut. Walker recently made a resurgence in 2016 after taking off, almost exactly, 3 years. Since returning to the professional scene his record is 0-3, losing each fight by stoppage (2 Sub, 1 KO).
Walker looks to snap his streak yet, his opponent could provide a major challenge. In terms of advantages for Walker, he has a massive and obvious one. His experience. Walkers opponent fights for the first time in the sport of MMA. While Danis competed in many top-level jiu-jitsu tournaments and matches, comparing the competition would stop and end upon examining the rule sets. It is quite obvious, the difference. Danis will have a bit of adversity to overcome, in that respect.
In spite of this, Danis’ team, he trains out of the highly regarded SBG Ireland. Even before his MMA training, he trained under Marcelo Garcia. He earned his black belt in April of 2015, following an incredible 2014. In that year, Danis became UAEJJF World Champion, winning gold in the 82 kg (181 lb.) Brown belt category.
The prospect of what that could look like inside the cage is exciting. He may have developed some striking techniques but, the lack of time dedicated to that training in undeniable. Experience and time is required to develop skills of any kind.
Bellator 198: Mir vs. Emelianenko, takes place on Saturday, April 28th from the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Illinois. Bellator 198 features the third of four preliminary bouts in the promotions Heavyweight Grand Prix, Fedor Emelianenko takes on Frank Mir. It serves as the nights main event. Other bouts on the card feature; Emmanuel Sanchez against Sam Sicilia, Neiman Gracie faces Javier Torres, Rafael Lavato Jr. vs. John Salter, and more.
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