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UFC Fight Night 88 – A Glimpse at the Future of UFC Bantamweight Division

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Both the main event, as well as the featured UFC Fight Pass bout, at UFC Fight Night 88 will take place in the UFC bantamweight division. Despite the fact that neither bout has the UFC title on the line, they both have something in common; they offer a look at the future of the UFC bantamweight division.

This is especially the case with respect to the main event between Cody Garbrandt and Thomas Almeida – two unbeaten 24-year-olds who look destined for the top. Starting with Almeida, of his incredible 21 fights to date, he has finished 20, 16 of which came by knockout and the majority of those came in the first round. The muay thai black belt has an all-action style with a varied arsenal of attacks, utilising the eight points of contact that the martial art is famed for. This was most memorably evident in his UFC 189 classic against Brad Pickett. The Brazilian threw everything in his locker at Pickett who was able to absorb it all, that is, until Almeida unleashed a hellacious flying knee, knocking the Englishman out cold. In his 4 UFC bouts to date, Almeida has defeated Tim Gorman, Yves Jabouin, Pickett and Anthony Birchak, the latter 3 by knockout which all earned him Performance of the Night honours. The former Legacy FC bantamweight champion has been long-touted as a potential UFC champion, and he may get that chance sooner rather than later if he continues on this run.

Cody Garbrandt will have something to say about that, however. The Team Alpha Male representative holds a professional record of 8 – 0 and, like Almeida, only one of those has gone to a decision, with 7 wins by knockout. “No Love” was most recently seen in action in February at UFC Fight Night 83 in Pennsylvania. Originally booked to fight John Lineker, Garbrandt instead fought dangerous submission specialist Augusto Mendes after Lineker was forced to withdraw during fight week after contracting dengue fever. The late notice opponent change did not adversely affect Garbrandt in any way, as he put on a highly impressive performance, lighting up Mendes regularly before landing a two punch combination that dropped the Brazilian, earning Garbrandt another knockout victory. With that win, plus triumphs over Henry Briones and Marcus Brimage so far in his UFC stint, Garbrandt has laid a solid foundation on which to build his career going forward, which many predict will involve UFC gold.

However, when Almeida and Garbrandt meet on Sunday, only one will leave the octagon with their unbeaten record intact. As the old adage goes “somebody’s 0 must go,” and neither man will give up their 0 without one hell of a fight. This fight marks the first time that a UFC event has been headlined by a bantamweight fight that does not see the UFC title on the line and it is fitting that it features two of the brightest prospects in the division. As previously mentioned, both men are just 24-years-old and it would surprise nobody if this was not the last time we see them stand opposite each other in the octagon, and who knows, maybe the next time they meet there might be a shiny gold UFC belt on the line.

Almeida and Garbrandt are not the only young, undefeated bantamweights on the card, as alluded to above. The UFC Fight Pass featured bout also features a man some believe to be the future of the division, and that man is Aljamain Sterling. “The Funk Master” is 13 – 0 thus far and meets Bryan Caraway in what is most certainly the toughest test of his career to date. As opposed to Almeida and Garbrandt, Sterling is known more for his grappling and submission prowess rather than as a knockout artist, with 6 of his 13 wins coming by submission.  Fighting out of Serra-Longo, Sterling holds UFC wins over Cody Gibson, Hugo Viana, Takeya Mizugaki and Johnny Eduardo. His win over Mizugaki is particularly memorable as Sterling finished it with an arm triangle from the bottom, a move rarely seen in MMA. In the process, Sterling became only the second man after Urijah Faber to submit the Japanese legend. Sterling is just 26-years-old and has already climbed to a ranking of #4 in the UFC bantamweight list. Getting passed the battle experienced Bryan Caraway, who is a phenomenal fighter himself, could elevate Sterling into title contention.

Almeida, Garbrandt and Sterling will not have the division to themselves, of course, with current champion Dominick Cruz as well as contenders such as TJ Dillashaw, John Dodson and Raphael Assuncao not in any hurry to go anywhere. In addition, 25-year-old Michael McDonald and 26-year-old John Lineker, who themselves meet at UFC Fight Night 91 in July, must be mentioned in the same category as the aforementioned young trio. However, with these three young stars all fighting at UFC Fight Night 88, the event could be seen as a window through which all MMA fans will be able to get a glimpse at what the future of the UFC bantamweight division could look like.

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Fight Announcements

Stipe Miocic vs. Francis Ngannou Official for UFC 220

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UFC 220 in Boston, Massachusetts has its main event. Stipe Miocic (17-2) will put his belt on the line for the third time against rising heavyweight star, Francis Ngannou (11-1)

Rumors surrounded the match-up for UFC 220 after Ngannou’s first round knockout over Alistair Overeem, at UFC 218. The Cameroonian heavyweight called for the fight himself. In his octagon interview proceeding his most recent victory, Ngannou stated:

“I’m feeling good… I’m on my way to a title shot”.

The heavy handed Ngannou has finished all of his opponents in all of his six UFC bouts. A streak which includes a kimura submission over Anthony Hamilton and a TKO victory against former UFC heavyweight champion, Andrei Arlovski. Overall, he holds a ten fight win streak. His only defeat came by way of unanimous decision to Zoumana Cisse, in his second professional MMA fight.

If victorious, Ngannou would become the first African-born champion in UFC history.

Not to be diminished, Stipe Miocic rides his a streak of his own into the beantown match-up. Five consecutive wins, five knockouts and the past four of which, ended in the first round. A victory in Boston for the champ would make him the longest reigning heavyweight champion in UFC history. Currently, Miocic is one of three heavyweights, in the promotions entirety, whom has successfully defended the belt twice.

UFC 220 will be held at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts on January 20th, 2018. The pay-per-view (PPV) card will also feature light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier, as he faces challenger Volkan “No Time” Oezdemir.

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Events

Ladies Fight Night 7: “Double Trouble” Preview

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Polish women’s federation Ladies Fight Night is going to celebrate their second birthday this year on the 15th to 17th of December. Two days, two events with a lot of great bouts.

LFN in Poland is being titled the new Invicta FC. The Polish owners created this federation to give European women a chance to fight on a big platform.

Hosting their first ever event in December 2015, LFN will hold two great cards next week, that will feature women who have fought under many prestigious promotions, such as the UFC, Invicta, Bellator, Glory, and Kunlun.

Two days of fantastic fights, intensified by a double dose of sports impressions. The name is not accidental, LFN 7 / LFN 8 combines two events, during which the best Polish fighters will be shown, as well as the best fighters from Europe (including France, Sweden, Italy, the Czech Republic and Romania)

The stakes are high, and we are electrified by the clashes between warriors such as Żaneta Cieśla vs Silvia La Notte and Patricia Axling vs. Cindy Silvestri. Mainly due to their vastness of their experience in the cage.

In the fight of the evening, the talented Romanian Cristina Stanciu will face Magdaléna Šormovádo. Stanciu fought twice in the UFC, but she was unfortunately cut from the promotion after suffering consecutive losses to Cortney Casey and Maryna Moroz.

Judyta Rymarzak vs Marta Waliczek is an amazing fight between two experienced kickboxers. Both making their pro MMA debuts on the night, we will witness a one-of-a-kind duel between two kickboxing perfectionists, as they look to transcend their skills into the MMA world.

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Invicta

Mackenzie Dern victorious in Invicta debut 

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Late Friday night, Mackenzie Dern (5-0, 1-0 Invicta FC) won her co-main event booking, defeating Kaline Medieros (8-6, 2-2 Invicta FC), at Invicta FC 26: Maia vs. Niedzwiedz, via submission (armbar) with only fifteen seconds remaining in the fight.

Much of the fight was controlled by Dern. The heralded prospect displayed her power, visibly damaging her opponent with multiple overhand rights. Striking is an under-developed aspect of her attack, only when compared to the twenty-four-year-olds black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Above all, she showed a progression of her striking skills. Dern looked to be bigger and physically stronger than her veteran opponent. She utilized forward pressure and found the proper timing for her overhand right throughout.

The veteran Medeiros showed her toughness throughout the fight. She defended and scrambled out of some bad positions during the grappling exchanges. Ultimately, she tapped when caught in a deeply planted armbar.  While Medeiros did earn a few hard trip takedowns, it factored minimally in the result as she refused to follow Dern to the mat. The Boston native suffered her second straight loss, Friday night. Her first was to, former Invicta strawweight champion, Angela Hill.

Dern made her professional debut in July of 2016 with Legacy Fighting Alliance (previously: Legacy Fighting Championship). In her debut, she defeated Kenia Rosas by unanimous decision. The Phoenix-born fighter won her next three bouts. Before her MMA career began, Dern won the ADCC (Abu Dhabi Combat Club) championship at 60 kg. She was the first American born female to become champion at the weight. Her grappling resume boasts many more incredible accomplishments. Justifiably, a growing spotlight now hangs over her, her skills, and potential in the sport of MMA.

Elsewhere on the Invicta 26 card, Jennifer Maia defeated Agnieszka Niedzweidz by unanimous decision. Maia retained her Invicta flyweight belt, defending it for the second time. Invicta FC 26: Maia vs. Niedzweidz, took place at the Scottish Rite Temple in Kansas City, Missouri.

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