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UFC Fight Night 83: Cowboy vs Cowboy Breakdown

Dan Tom

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Cerrone1

Donald Cerrone (28-7)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’11” Age: 32 Weight: 170 lbs Reach: 73″
  • Last Fight: TKO loss / Rafael Dos Anjos (12-19-15)
  • Camp: Jackson-Wink MMA (New Mexico)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Muay Thai
  • Risk Management: Moderate

Supplemental info:
+   Multiple Muay Thai Accolades
+   28-0 as a Pro Kickboxer
+   5 KO victories
+   12 first round finishes
+   15 Submission wins
+   KO power / heavy hands
+/-Sometimes starts slow
+   Accurate & intercepting knees
+   Devastating leg & head kicks
^   Dangerous from both sides
+   Intelligent strike setups
^   Reads & reacts to tendencies
–    Head often upright
^   Counter/right hand availabilities
–    Body shot vulnerabilities
+   Underrated wrestling ability
+   Active guard game
^   Favors triangle chokes
+   Excellent in transition

Howboy4

Alex Oliveira (13-3-1)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’11” Age: 29 Weight: 170 lbs Reach: 77″
  • Last Fight: KO win / Piotr Hallmann (11-7-15)
  • Camp: TATA Fight Team (Brazil)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Muay Thai
  • Risk Management: Moderate

Supplemental info:
+   Pro Muay Thai experience
+   BJJ Blue Belt
+   9 KO victories
+   9 first round finishes
+   2 Submission wins
+   KO Power
+   Fast starter
+   Manages distance well
^   Moves laterally/angles out
+   Natural slip & roll ability
+/-Heavily reliant on head movement
+   Accurate left hook-right hand
–    Will sometimes throw self out of position
+   Physically strong inside clinch
^   Favors body lock takedowns
+   Active back taker
–    Lacks technics in transition
–    Struggles from bottom
+   Good chin / never stopped

Summary:

Headlining the main card on FOX Sports 1 is a literal showdown of Cowboys. Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone, who was originally slated to fight Tim Means(pulled for USADA violations), will now face Brazil’s Alex “Cowboy” Oliviera. With 3 out of his 4 UFC bouts being on short notice, this should be old hat for Alex Oliveira. Cerrone is no stranger to fighting last minute stand-ins either, and is looking to get back on the horse after coming up short in his recent title attempt.

As familiar as the MMA mainstream is with Cowboy Cerrone, the charismatic Cowboy Oliveira’s 2015 run has made him appear on the radar of many. From his fan friendly style to his unmistakable smile, there is a lot to like about the former bull rider. Although knockout power and aggression often speak louder than technique, it is the quiet traits of Alex that are most impressive. Primarily his ability to deceptively dictate the striking range, as the Brazilian will utilize his length & lateral movement to set up attack angles. Even though his arsenal is borderline basic(favoring left hook-right hand/uppercut combinations), Oliveira displays instinctive head movement off entries and in between punches. This style has kept him above water thus far in his career, but he won’t be carrying his usual advantages into this gun fight.

Similar in size, Donald will also be a big step up in skill for Oliveira. Despite a 4-inch reach advantage for Alex, I feel Cerrone’s kicking game will give him an edge in weapons range. With low hands and little kick offerings of his own, Oliveira will be relying on his footwork should he not show adjustments in this fight. In particular, I feel the way in which Alex applies head movement may cost him when exchanging with Donald. Showing a natural ability to slip punches or roll underneath, Oliveira does so with his head largely unprotected. This type of movement will make Alex available for knees & head kicks, which is troubling when you consider his opponent’s strengths.

From dangerously disguised head kicks to accurately intercepting his opposition with knees, Cerrone’s ability to read openings should give him the edge standing. Alex could try and disrupt Cerrone’s striking rhythm by implementing his strong clinch game against the fence. Although showing improvements in this area of his game, Oliveira still may lack the proper takedown techniques to contest with Cerrone. Wielding a highly underrated wrestling game himself, I feel Donald can negate any “plan B” for Alex or even employ his own. If Oliveira is successful in grounding Cerrone, he may get more than he bargained for given Donald’s notorious guard game.

Alex’s best chances in this fight will certainly be in the opening frame. With Donald being suspect to slow starts, Oliveira’s quick & aggressive establishments could pay off early if he pours it on with a heavy hand. His right hand, in particular, will serve him best given Cerrone’s often upright head position. Though Donald’s body vulnerabilities have shown to be more apparent, Alex’s attack arsenal seems completely devoid of any body shots. It is hard not to be a fan of Cowboy Oliveira, but unless he makes big style adjustments he could find himself out-gunned here. I do however recommend caution as the off-paper intangibles make this shoot out a lot closer than it appears.

Official Pick: Cerrone – Decision

Brunson2

Derek Brunson (14-3)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’1″ Age: 32 Weight: 185 lbs Reach: 78″
  • Last Fight: TKO win / Sam Alvey (8-8-15)
  • Camp: Jackson-Wink MMA (New Mexico)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Southpaw / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Moderate

Supplemental info:
+   3x Div.2 All-American Wrestler
+   BJJ Blue Belt
+   7 KO victories
+   10 first round finishes
+   3 Submission wins
+   KO power
+   Good power double takedown
+   Strong pressure against fence
^   Takedowns & strikes off the break
+   Solid top/positional control
^   Consistent pressure & strikes
+   Manages distance well
+   Subtle shuffle step entries
^   Closes distance & sets up strikes
+   Deadly left head kick

Roan3

Roan Carneiro (20-9)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’11” Age: 37 Weight: 185 lbs Reach: 75″
  • Last Fight: Submission win / Mark Munoz (2-28-15)
  • Camp: American Top Team (Atlanta)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Muay Thai
  • Risk Management: Good

Supplemental info:
+   Regional MMA Titles
+   Multiple Grappling Accolades
+   BJJ Black Belt
+   9 first round finishes
+   3 KO victories
+   9 Submission wins
+   Strong inside clinch
^   Sticky body lock controls
+   Excellent transitional grappler
^   Active & technical back taker
+   Underrated wrestling ability
^   Div. 1 in Brazil
+   Has not been taken down in 5 yrs.
+   Solid striking fundamentals
^   Good defensive technics

Summary:

Pittsburgh’s co-main event features a battle of Top 15 middleweights as Derek Brunson takes on Roan Carneiro. Making a quiet but stern ascension, Brunson has been fighting his way up the Zuffa ranks for quite some time. He will now face one of his most experienced opponents in the veteran Carneiro. With a seemingly late career resurgence at 37 years old, Roan has shown an improved grasp and execution of his overall game. Needless to say, both men will be looking to crack the Top 10 and mainstream audiences radar with a win here.

Carrying more weapons on the feet, I give a slight edge to Brunson in the stand up. Although he wields heavy hands & kicks, it’s his ability to close the distance that is most impressive. Using his own amalgamation of a Thai March & “shuffle-step”, Derek will deceptively move forward and set up strikes. Feinting and fakes will be a must against the technically and defensively sound Carneiro. Rarely throwing himself out of position, Roan displays basic but effective offense. His counter right hand, in particular, could be effective if Derek gets careless. Brunson should have the edge in firepower but his aggression sometimes leads him out of position.

With both fighters durability and styles, I expect much of this fight to take place in close quarters. Given that, neither man has succeeded a takedown in over five years, the clinch battle should be a key factor in this fight. Since both men are largely “top players”, I believe whoever scores a takedown should have an advantage. Although Derek’s athleticism & skill may make him harder to hold down, he will need to be very cautious if put in a position where he needs to stand. Like many wrestlers, their get-up methods are habitually based on turtling out to stand.

Despite being a very effective escape in MMA, it is also a risky one in that it will briefly open the back to be taken. These openings can be devastating against a back-take specialist like Carneiro, who displayed this exact scenario in his last bout with Mark Munoz. However, Brunson demonstrates a solid positional and defensive game that should keep him above water. I am a huge fan of late-career resurgences, and would love to see Roan get the win here. But it is hard to go against the fight-to-fight improvements of Derek and the quality of opposition he has faced. Although he is a justified favorite, I feel this fight is a lot closer than the odds have it. Proceed with caution.

Official Pick: Brunson – Decision

Cody2

Cody Garbrandt (7-0)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’6″ Age: 24 Weight: 135 lbs Reach: 65.5″
  • Last Fight: Dec win / Enrique Briones (7-11-15)
  • Camp: Team Alpha Male (Sacramento, CA)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   Wrestling Titles & Accolades
+   32-1 as an Amateur Boxer
+   6 KO victories
+   4 first round finishes
+   KO Power
+   Accurate check hook
+   Deadly right hand
^   Counters / Intercepts
+   Underrated kicks
+   Fast hand speed & footwork
+   Explosive double-leg takedown
+   Excellent scramble ability
^   Gets back to feet
+/-Willingness to brawl
^   Engages emotionally

Augusto1

Augusto Mendes(5-0)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’6″ Age: 32 Weight: 135 lbs Reach: 66.5″
  • Last Fight: Sub win / Donald Williams (2-17-15)
  • Camp: MMA Lab (Arizona)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthdox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   BJJ World Champion
+   Black Belt BJJ
+   1 TKO victory
+   2 first round finishes
+   4 Submission wins
+   Excellent ground control
^   Solid submission set ups
+   Shows good takedowns
+   Displays competent striking
+   Hard right body kicks
–    Left hand slightly low
–    Head upright in exchanges
–    Fighting on 7 days notice

Summary:

With John Lineker stepping out due to illness, Cody Garbrandt will now face the undefeated Augusto Mendes. The MMA Lab once again saves the day with it’s short notice stable, as Mendes will certainly have his work cut out for him in fighting Cody “No Love“. Seeming undeterred from this new challenge, the confident Team Alpha Male prospect will look to use this stage to make a statement.

Aside from the seven-day notice, I feel the standing exchanges will present the most problems for Mendes. Despite competing at Bantamweight, Augusto shows a more plotting approach that could play into the hands of Garbrandt. Possessing excellent foot speed & movement, Cody’s footwork should dictate the angles and overall terms of offense. Mendes also shows to keep his left-hand low with his head upright in exchanges. I feel this will make him wide open for Garbrandt’s deadly right-hand.

Augusto looks to have strong kicks standing, but I suspect those will only lead to takedown and counter opportunities. Though I am sure Mendes would not mind making this a ground fight, I doubt Cody’s wrestling will allow him much say. With extended mat time not looking to be on the menu, Augusto’s best chances to catch Garbrandt will likely be in transition. But with Cody training with some of the best transitional finishers in MMA, it’s difficult to see things materializing for the Brazilian here.

Official Pick: Garbrandt – Inside the distance

Dennis3

Dennis Bermudez (14-5)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’6″ Age: 29 Weight: 145 lbs Reach: 66″
  • Last Fight: TKO loss / Jeremy Stephens (7-11-15)
  • Camp: Long Island MMA (NY)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   TUF 14 Finalist
+   NCAA Div. 1 All-American
+   4 KO victories
+   4 first round finishes
+   4 Submission wins
+   Consistent pace & pressure
^   Athletic / well conditioned
+   Good fundamental footwork
+   Hard leg kicks & knees
+/-Aggressive entries
+   Excellent takedown defense
^   Solid balance & base
+   Strong inside clinch
+   Great scrambling & positional awareness

Kawajiri2

Tatsuya Kawajiri (35-8-2)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’7″ Age: 37 Weight: 145 lbs Reach: 69″
  • Last Fight: Decision win / Jason Knight (12-11-15)
  • Camp: T-Blood (Japan)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Moderate

Supplemental info:
+   Shooto Lightweight Title
+   Shooto Rookie of the Year
+   12 KO victories
+   16 first round finishes
+   10 Submission wins
+   Heavy hands
+   Will switch stances
^   Kicks & shots from southpaw
+   Manages distance well
–    Wild / low-handed entries
+   Strong pressure against cage
^   Favors double-leg takedowns
+   Excellent top game
^   Suffocating head & shoulder pressure

Summary:

In a fun featherweight matchup, Dennis Bermudez looks to get back on track against the crafty Tatsuya Kawajiri. Despite being the veteran fighter, Kawajiri will be the one carrying a win streak into the octagon. Getting caught by two of the division’s best, Bermudez will surely be setting his sights on another winning streak.

Starting off on the feet, is where I feel the New York native will have his biggest advantage. Demonstrating technically aggressive footwork, Bermudez’ consistent pressure may give fits to Kawajiri and possibly force bad shots. When not pressuring for the takedown, Tatsuya will shuffle along the outside switching his stance. This distance disruption will usually buy him enough time to engage. From southpaw, he offers decent enough kicks and takedown entries. However, he will often fancy ineffective spinning back-fists that may cost him against Bermudez.

Wielding an excellent reactive-shot of his own, Dennis packs an accurate counter right hand that could find it’s home should Tatsuya get wild. With that said, Dennis has also shown susceptibilities to right hands. Carrying his left hand slightly low and coming in aggressive is how Bermudez was caught in his last two fights. Although Kawajiri has the skills to tangibly time Dennis, I suspect the Japanese fighter to continue his trend of offensive wrestling. Suffocating his opposition into the cage or onto the mat, Tatsuya has been able to dominate most at featherweight with strength and fundamental positioning.

Where the rubber may fail to hit the road is that he is facing a better wrestler with superior athleticism & conditioning. With an active clinch game of his own, the key factor for Bermudez will be his ability to out-scramble Kawajiri. I have always been a big fan of Kawajiri’s role in Japanese MMA, but with Bermudez holding the best takedown defense in UFC featherweight history(92%), it’s hard to see Tatsuya gaining his necessary momentum here.

Official Pick: Bermudez – Decision

Riggs4

Joe Riggs (41-16)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’0″ Age: 33 Weight: 185 lbs Reach: 71.5″
  • Last Fight: DQ win / Ron Stallings (9-5-15)
  • Camp: MMA Lab (Arizona)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Southpaw / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Moderate

Supplemental info:
+   Former WEC Middleweight Champ
+   Strikeforce Interim WW Title
+   Brown Belt BJJ
+   29 KO victories
+   27 first round finishes
+   7 Submission wins
+   KO Power
+   Dangerous left hand
+   Crafty check right hook
+   Strong in clinch
^   Favors body lock takedowns
+   Solid transitional grappler
^   Underrated back taker
+   Hard elbows / ground strikes
–    Shown cut & injury vulnerabilities
–    Reluctant kick defense

Camozzi2

Chris Camozzi (22-10)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’3″ Age: 29 Weight: 185 lbs Reach: 75.5″
  • Last Fight: Decision win / Tom Watson (8-8-15)
  • Camp: Factory X Muay Thai (Denver, CO)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Southpaw / Muay Thai
  • Risk Management: Moderate

Supplemental info:
+   TUF 11 Alum
+   Multiple Regional MMA Titles
+   Brown Belt BJJ
+   7 KO victories
+   7 first round finishes
+   6 Submission wins
+   Accurate distance striker
^   2nd most strikes in UFC MW history
+   Excellent leg kicks
^   Most landed in UFC MW history
+   Active long jab
+   Underrated Guillotine
+   Improved takedown defense
^   Good under-hook awareness
–    Struggles when pressure fought
+   Solid chin / never stopped

Summary:

In a middleweight scrap of two UFC veterans, Joe Riggs will take on Chris Camozzi. With both men having a knack for making fights close, I can understand if this match is hard to get a beat on. Starting off on the feet, I feel Camozzi will have an inherent advantage in the southpaw vs southpaw matchup. From an active long jab, to hard leg kicks, Camozzi’s overall arsenal should translate effectively.

Joe Riggs has made strides in his striking in regards to his head/offensive movement. However, he shows a reluctance to checking and defending leg kicks. This could be very troublesome considering Chris has landed the most leg kicks in UFC middleweight history. I feel Camozzi’s length and distance striking will give Joe fits should he not find his way inside.

Despite both men holding Brown Belts in Jiu-Jitsu, I feel Riggs should be the more technically skilled MMA grappler. Riggs has a very underrated transition game and ability to take backs in scrambles, but it’s floating on top delivering elbows where Joe makes his money. I feel that taking this fight to the ground will be Riggs strongest recipe for success. However, Joe favors his takedowns from the clinch, which is a place where Camozzi is strong.

Demonstrating solid under-hook awareness, Chris has steadily improved his takedown defense over the years. This has also helped Camozzi incorporate offense into his clinch via hard knees & elbows. Although Riggs is more than capable of taking Chris to the ground, I feel Camozzi should be able to shut a large amount of attempts down. I hate to come off as discounting Joe Riggs as he is a true veteran of the sport. But after repeated injuries, cuts, and mental lulls, it’s hard to pick him confidently here.

Official Pick: Camozzi – Inside the distance

Krause2

James Krause (22-7)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’2″ Age: 29 Weight: 155 lbs Reach: 75″
  • Last Fight: Sub win / Daron Cruickshank (7-25-15)
  • Camp: Glory MMA & Fitness (Missouri)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Moderate

Supplemental info:
+   TUF 15 Alum
+   Amateur MMA Titles
+   Brown Belt BJJ
+   6 KO victories
+   16 first round finishes
+   14 Submission wins
+   Accurate long jab
+   Deceptive front & head kicks
+   Will switch stances
^   Hard kicks from southpaw
+   Sneaky speed changes
–    Struggles with volume
–    Shown body shot availabilities
+   Dangerous submission game
^   Competent from all positions
+/-5/26 in takedowns (last 8 fights)

Shane1

Shane Campbell (12-3)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’0″ Age: 28 Weight: 155 lbs Reach: 71″
  • Last Fight: Dec win / Elias Silverio (8-23-15)
  • Camp: Toshido MMA (Canada)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Muay Thai
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   North American Muay Thai Title
+   Kickboxing Accolades
+   Purple Belt BJJ
+   5 KO victories
+   3 first round finishes
+   2 Submission wins
+   KO power / heavy kicks
+   Aggressive pace & pressure
+   Will switch stances
^   Deadly liver kicks from southpaw
+   Devastating leg kicks
+   Improved wrestling ability
^   Good takedown defense
+   Active transition & submission game
+/-Will fight from bottom
+/-Willingness to exchange

Summary:

Kicking off the main card on FOX Sports 1 the UFC will once again turn to it’s Lightweight division as James Krause battles Shane Campbell. Having mixed showings since his arrival, Krause will be looking to score his first win streak in the organization. A well-rounded & exciting fighter, James is the slightly favored and more experienced on paper. However, the Canadian kickboxer may be much more live than the numbers show.

Known primarily for his dangerous striking, Shane Campbell possesses an underrated submission & wrestling game. Working with David Lee at Toshido MMA, Shane has steadily been rounding out these aspects of his game. In watching his previous fights, it’s clear that Campbell has been conditioned to counter wrestle. With few opponents willing to strike for extended periods of time, most of Shane’s matches involve him thwarting grappling efforts.

With Krause not possessing the most aggressive nor effective takedown game(25% UFC success rate), I expect most of this fight to contest and likely be decided on the feet. However, I do feel James carries a slight advantage in his overall ground game. Although Shane displays solid submission defense, he will have to mind his position in scrambles given Krause’s back taking ability. That said, it’s standing where I see the scales shifting toward Shane.

Both men are offensively minded strikers who like to use their hands to set up kicks. Carrying a natural reach advantage, James wields a nice long jab that he can use to disrupt Campbell’s aggressiveness. As seen in his fight with John Makdessi, Shane will not shy from a gun fight if engaged. However, James will have to commit to giving & taking as Makdessi did if he means to follow that path.

Often referred to as “tall-guy defense”, both fighters show a natural tendency to keep their head upright and even lead-off movements with it. Although this will keep head kicks in play, I see body kicks being the key factor in this fight. Being hit and hurt to the body in 3 of his last 6 fights, I’m not sure I like Krause’s chances against one of the best body kickers in the game. With uncanny liver accuracy, Campbell only needs the tips of his toes to steal your soul. James is super tough and technically well-rounded but looks to struggle in what Shane carries in spades.

Official Pick: Campbell – Inside the distance

Preliminary Card Predictions

  • Strickland def. Garcia
  • Sarafian def. Bamgbose
  • Webb def. Coy
  • Smith def. Leleco
  • Reneau def. Evans-Smith
  • Murphy def. Faszholz
  • Hamilton def. Abdurakhimov

Recommended Plays

Pieces for your parlay:

-Chris Camozzi
-Cody Garbrandt
-Dennis Bermudez

Props worth looking at:

-Shane Campbell – Inside the distance
-Cody Garbrandt- by KO/TKO
-Dennis Bermudez – by Decision

Fights to avoid:

-Derek Brunson vs Roan Carneiro
-Daniel Sarafian vs Oluwale Bamgbose
-Alex Garcia vs Sean Strickland

Fantasy MMA Picks

High Tier Picks:

-Donald Cerrone
-Cody Garbrandt
-Chris Camozzi

Low Tier Picks:

-Alex Oliveira
-Shane Campbell
-Roan Carneiro

For the complete analysis of future & past UFC events visit MixedMartialAnalyst.com and for future breakdowns & your latest in world-wide MMA news, stay tuned & follow @MMALatestnws MMALatestNews.com

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Fight Announcements

Aldo vs. Lamas 2 and Ponzinibbio vs. Perry Added to UFC Winnipeg

Harry Davies

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The UFC has added Jose Aldo vs. Ricardo Lamas 2, and Santiago Ponzinibbio vs. Mike Perry to their UFC Winnipeg card on December 16th.

The two fights were announced as official today on the UFC’s Twitter account.

Aldo (26-3) last fought at UFC 212 in June, where he lost by third round TKO to Max Holloway. After being promoted to the undisputed 145-pound champion last November, he was looking to make the first defence of the title against Holloway.

Lamas first faced Aldo back in 2014 at UFC 169. Aldo, who was again featherweight champion at the time, defeated Lamas with ease winning by unanimous decision (49-46) on all scorecards. Lamas is on a two-fight winning streak after defeating both Charles Oliveira and Jason Knight with impressive finishes.

Since his last UFC loss to Lorenz Larkin back in 2015, Ponzinnibio (25-3) has won five consecutive fights. His most recent victory was a upset win over Gunnar Nelson in July at UFC Glasgow. There was some controversy after the fight, as replays seemed to show a short grab and several eyes pokes from Ponzinnibio before knocking out Nelson in the first round.

Mike Perry has taken the UFC by storm since making his debut for the promotion last August. Picking up four wins all by knockout, the only loss ‘Platinum’ suffered was too Alan Jouban by decision. Ranked at #9 in the welterweight division, a win over Ponzinnibio could definitely propel Perry into the top ten at 170-pounds.

With the additon of these two fantastic fights, the lineup for UFC Winnipeg is as follows:

  • Robbie Lawler vs. Rafael dos Anjos – Welterweight bout
  • Glover Teixeira vs. Misha Cirkunov – Light heavyweight bout
  • Antônio Rogério Nogueira vs. Jared Cannonier – Light heavyweight bout
  • Tim Elliott vs. Justin Scoggins – Flyweight bout
  • Chad Laprise vs. Galore Bafondo – Welterweight bout
  • Alessio Di Chirico vs. Oluwale Bamgbose – Middleweight bout
  • Vitor Miranda vs. Julian Marquez – Middleweight bout
  • John Makdessi vs. Abel Trujillo – Lightweight bout
  • Nordine Taleb vs. Sultan Aliev – Welterweight bout
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Why the UFC Needs to Introduce 165 and 175-pound Weight Divisions

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  • The debacle that were the UFC 216 weigh-in last Friday further highlighted current weight cutting problems in mixed martial arts.

More specifically in this case it was in the UFC’s lightweight division. A fight between Nik Lentz and Will Brooks was pulled due to Lentz having ‘medical issues’ according to a UFC statement, hours before he was due to weigh-in.

Title challenger Kevin Lee then took to the scale seconds before the deadline and was over the limit by a pound. Fortunately he made weight after being given an extra hour. But these are not isolated cases, especially at 155-pounds.

There isn’t necessarily a solution to this problem but there may be a short term fix in the form of new weight classes approved by the ABC (Association of Boxing Commissions and Combative Sports) in July 2017. These include 165 and 175-pound divisions.

While not specific to the lightweight division, the problems with weight commonly occur there. In March this year, Khabib Nurmagomedov was rushed to hospital during fight week when cutting down for his title contest with Tony Ferguson. Subsequently the UFC 209 main event was cancelled. Khabib has been regularly discussed as a title challenger but he’s often struggled to make weight and failed on numerous occasions.

With drastic dehydration it is still unknown what health implications may effect him and other mixed martial artists in the future.

Some top ranked fighters such as Donald Cerrone, Jorge Masvidal and Rafael Dos Anjos have moved up to the welterweight division to preserve their health from these strenuous cuts, and have all been relatively successful.

Former UFC lightweight Donald Cerrone has looked spectacular since making the move up to 170-pounds.

However, many fighters are still reluctant and insist on dropping 10-20% of their bodyweight in the hours and days leading up to a bout. For example, Kevin Lee was rumoured to be 19 pounds over the day before he stepped on the scales.

At 170 pounds, welterweight is fifteen pounds more than lightweight which is a noticeable difference between relatively low weight classes. Especially when you consider that the divisions increase ten pounds from as low as 115 up to 155. There are many fighters who find themselves too big to be a lightweight, yet too small to compete at welterweight.

The incidents last Friday should hopefully be a wakeup call to the UFC, who can also set an example for other organisations such as Bellator, One FC, and Cage Warriors.

So far in 2017 the UFC has lost 14 fights in 48 hours or less before they were due to take place. That is one fight every two cards. While weight cutting is not always to blame, more often than not it plays a big role. These situations leave the UFC at a loss, fighters without opponents and a pay check, and fans disgruntled. Not to mention the health implications for the athlete involved.

The UFC must recognise these common patterns, remove the 170 pound welterweight division and create 165 and 175 pound rosters instead. Some may see an additional weight class as devaluing UFC titles even further but this would not be the case.

The UFC’s official website only lists four fighters in the women’s featherweight division.

Recently the women’s featherweight title was created without having a roster of women to fill it. However, the difference with lightweight and welterweight is that they are comfortably the two deepest, most talent stacked divisions in the organisation.

Admittedly, there is a lot of history attached to the welterweight title since Pat Miletich first won it back in 1998. The likes of Matt Hughes and Georges St Pierre have also added prestige to the belt over the years.

Even so, the sport has changed since then and it’s in a transitional phase. We are in the era of USADA, the era of banned IV drips and certain commissions tightening their regulations on how much they allow fighters to safely cut. Everyone is accountable and aware of the dangers, yet steps still need to be taken.

The athletic commissions and the UFC in particular must act by introducing super lightweight (165lbs) and super welterweight (175lbs) divisions. Perhaps from a fighter’s perspective it seems like a no-brainer that their health should be the main priority.

From a fans point of view there is plenty of talent that could be used in those two divisions. The novelty of fighters blending into these classes would also have the feeling of a superfight. The likes of Nurmagomedov, Lee, Masvidal, Cerrone and Dos Anjos would certainly fit well into a 165 pound division.

Similarly, at 175 pounds, Tyron Woodley could transition from welterweight champion to super welterweight champion. Top talents such as Robert Whittaker, Stephen Thompson, Demian Maia and Robbie Lawler would be perfect matches for this weight.

Could we see the current welterweight champion Tyron Woodley compete at 175-pounds in the future?

If this was a success then super middleweight (195lbs) and cruiserweight (225lbs) divisions could be an option in future too.

As previously mentioned this won’t necessarily fix the issues of weight cutting but it gives martial artists another option and is a positive step towards fighter’s safety. Currently there has been no mention by the UFC about introducing these new divisions.

However, with fighter safety being of upmost importance these new divisions must be given serious consideration.

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Bellator

James Gallagher out of Bellator 187 in Dublin due to injury

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Irish fans will have to wait a little longer to see James Gallagher fighting on home soil after Gallagher suffered a knee injury in preparation for his main event fight with Jeremiah Labiano in Dublin next month. This bad news was first reported by MMAFighting.com.

The 20-year-old from Strabane co. Tyrone who trains in the famous SBG gym with Conor McGregor and Gunnar Nelson among others has set the featherweight division alight since joining Bellator in 2016.  James “The Strabanimal” Gallagher has gone 3-0 with all three of his wins coming by rear naked choke.

After submitting Chinzo Machida, the brother of former UFC light heavyweight champion, Lyoto Machida in Madison Square Garden Gallagher has become a budding star for Bellator.

Due to the youngster’s attitude and potential, many comparisons between Gallagher and UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor have been made by the fans and media which has made Gallagher one of Bellator’s most recognizable names. This notoriety has ultimately led to the young Irishman getting a chance to headline in Dublin this November but this injury has delayed his rise for the time being.

Gallagher on social media Thursday stated that he has suffered an injury to his PCL and LCL in his knee and would be out for the remainder of the year. He has assured fans we would return next year and carry on where he started with “The Jimmy show.”

His longtime rival AJ McKee, who has engaged in a Twitter war with Gallagher after his last fight, will now headline Bellator 187 in the 3 Arena in Dublin on November 10th against Gallagher’s SBG teammate Brian Moore. Moore will be making his third appearance for Bellator in this featherweight clash.

 

 

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