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UFC Fight Night 94 in Retrospect

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On paper, the UFC’s first venture to Hildago, Texas wasn’t exactly one to set the fans alight with anticipation.

With 24 fighters scheduled on the card, 18 of those 24 fighters were coming into Saturday night off of a loss. It wasn’t a card filled with much star-power either, but in terms of an excitement factor, this was an event that delivered some high-quality MMA. No fighter wants to go on a losing streak, especially in the shark tank of the UFC, so fighters came into Saturday looking to push the pace and made sure that they brought their A-game to UFC Fight Night 94, possibly no more so than in main event winner Michael Johnson.

Finding himself on a two-fight skid since beating Edson Barboza in February last year, Johnson was given no favours by being pitted against the high-flying Dustin Poirier heading into his very first UFC main event spot. Since Poirier’s return to 155 lbs, ‘The Diamond’ has put on some remarkable performances against the likes of Joseph Duffy and Bobby Green and looked to be on a collision course with someone from the division’s top five.

To Johnson’s testament, however, even with the back-to-back losses to Beneil Dariush and Nate Diaz, Johnson was still an ever-present in the lightweight divisions top 10 and displayed just why he was unmoved from that elite bracket against Poirier.

Throughout his UFC career, Johnson has shown strong fundamentals and an aptitude for fighting on the front foot.Possessing a stinging jab, a lengthy one-two and heavy leg kicks; Johnson has all the tools to make use of his athletic gifts in terms of speed and reach and used them to great effect in the first round of his last fight against Nate Diaz.

It had been expected that Poirier would be able to counter Johnson with his heavy hooks in this bout as he had against Bobby Green but Johnson had other ideas and his own counter-striking stylings were the decisive factor and were employed to devastating effect. Keeping a well-managed distance to retain his skill set, Johnson would start out peppering jabs and kicks towards Poirier and did so at a frenetic pace. That high work rate acted as a constant disturbance to Poirier’s footwork and he could never settle in position to throw his heavy counter punches and as a result was forced to always be on the move.

Clearly frustrated, Poirier had the decision to make to either close the distance himself or hope for a misstep in Johnson’s measurement of space and catch him cold. With 90 seconds gone, Poirier stepped forward with a one-two which raised the hands of Johnson in defence. From there, Poirier uncorked a massive uppercut hoping to get under the guard of the Blackzillians fighter but in his overcommitment to the punch, he was caught flush with a massive counter right hook to the chin and a left over the top.

The fight acted as a staunch reminder of the fine margins of error that come with the fight game and Poirier will now be left to climb the toughest division in the sport once again. For Michael Johnson, it was a much-needed win to remain in the picture and while he may not be gifted a title shot despite his pleas on the mic, he has certainly catapulted himself back into the upper echelons of the lightweight division.

In the co-main event, Derek Brunson continued his remarkable run at middleweight with his fourth consecutive first round finish over the enigmatic Uriah Hall. Much ado had been made over Hall’s bizarre UFC career heading into this bout with the talk yet again being over which iteration of the former Ultimate Fighter contestant we would see. Would it be the Hall who had blasted Gegard Mousasi with a spinning back kick or would it be the Uriah Hall who looks gun shy and hesitant in his attacks?

Truthfully, those questions weren’t fully answered with the short nature of the bout but the same habits that have gotten Hall into trouble in the past did re-occur and Derek Brunson made him pay the consequences.

By applying pressure and backing Hall up, Brunson removed the room needed for Hall’s kicking game and entered into the clinch early. Hall, to his credit, found a way out fairly sharpish and threw out a push kick in the hopes to get the fight into his wheelhouse. Brunson again came forward however and Hall was given little room to move or circle back into the middle of the Octagon. With Hall cornered, Brunson feinted the overhand left and Hall’s body reacted by moving out towards the faked punch with his hands down. Brunson quickly followed up on the feint and unleashed the left straight onto Hall’s exposed chin and dropped ‘Primetime’ to the mat.

Questions were raised as to the legitimacy of the stoppage as Herb Dean stepped in after some attempted ground and pound which on second viewing missed their mark but it appeared to be a matter of time before Brunson landed another conclusive blow. Elsewhere, wily veteran Evan Dunham put in a trademark performance against the short notice replacement Rick Glenn which consisted of all the staples of Dunham’s incredibly well-rounded game.

On the feet, Dunham landed at will and is one of the too few fighters who moves his head off the centre line when throwing combinations. Glenn had real trouble with Dunham stringing his strikes together (which almost exclusively finished with the left straight) and was totally evident in the stats as Dunham landed 144 significant strikes to Glenn’s 58 with 91% of Dunham’s strikes landing to the head.

For as sharp on the feet and dominating on the mat as he is, however, Dunham perhaps shines best in the clinch as he teed off with some thunderous knees and elbows when in close. In the third round, the disparity between the fighters on the night truly began to shine through though as Dunham continually found his mark. Dunham landed 85 of his significant strikes in that final stanza and it begs the question why there aren’t more corner stoppages in MMA?

Glenn was purely too tough for his own good and it comes down to a fighter’s corner to look after their fighters when the fight is getting too far away from their grasp. Glenn will undoubtedly make a return to the Octagon and perhaps will continue to fight at featherweight where he won WSOF’s 145 lbs title but stepping in on short notice against Evan Dunham is a mighty ask for any fighter, never mind one making their UFC debut.

All in all, UFC Fight Night 94 was an excellent fight card and you knew that this card would continue the streak of the ‘unappealing’ cards putting on the most exciting fights as soon as Chas Skelly ran out with a flying kick at the top of the show.


For the latest MMA news, live event coverage and more follow @mmalatestnws on Twitter.

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Ovince Saint Preux Steps in to Face Corey Anderson at UFC 217

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UFC 217 just got even more interesting. Earlier this week, Patrick Cummins pulled out of his light heavyweight matchup with Corey Anderson due to a Staph infection. Corey “Overtime” Anderson was not happy with his opponents decision, even calling out his opponent on Instagram asking how Cummins could, “call it quits so far from fight night”.

The UFC left Anderson on the card, and he found an opponent through the magic of Twitter. Ovince Saint Preux tweeted out directly to Anderson stating:

It didn’t take long for Anderson to respond agreeing to the fight, tagging Mick Maynard and Dana White in his response.

Only a few short hours later, the fight announcement came from the official UFC twitter account.

 

This top 10 Light Heavyweight matchup should add to an already amazing card coming in November at Madison Square Garden. Saint Preux is coming off of back to back wins both due to the very rare von flue choke, he finds himself ranked #7th in the latest edition of the 205-pound rankings. Corey “Overtime” Anderson is 4-2 in his last 6 fights, but is coming off a brutal first round knockout loss to Jimi Manuwa in March.

With such a exciting fight added to this card, what do you see happening November 4th?  Will Corey Anderson bounce back and look to jump into the top 5 of the rankings, or will Ovince Saint Preux go for a third straight von flue choke? Let us know.

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*Watch* Bellator 185 Weigh in: Live Stream, Results

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Watch the live weigh-ins for Bellator 185 here.

Gegard Mousasi takes on Alexander Slemenko live this Friday night October 20th at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville CT. This is the first appearance for Mousasi in the Bellator cage as he looks to secure a title shot with a win over the very tough former Bellator champion Slemenko. Joining these men of the main card will be a pair of welterweights as Neiman Gracie from the famous Gracie BJJ family takes on Zak Bucia in the co-main event.

Full Weigh-in Results: (Updated in real time)

Main Card:

Gegard Mousasi (185) vs. Alexander Shlemenko (186)
Neiman Gracie (170.5) vs. Zak Bucia (170)
Heather Hardy (126) vs. Kristina Williams (126)
Ryan Quinn (155.5) vs. Marcus Surin (155)
Ana Julaton (125.5) vs. Lisa Blaine (122)

Preliminary Card:

Jordan Young (200) vs. Alec Hooben (194)
Costello van Steenis (185) vs. Steve Skrzat (186)
Vinicius de Jesus (170) vs. Joaquin Buckley (171)
John Beneduce (154.5) vs. Dean Hancock (155)
Timothy Wheeler (144) vs. Pete Rogers (144)
Don Shainis (150) vs. Matthew Denning (149)
Frank Sforza (149) vs. Vovka Clay (150)
Kevin Carrier (156) vs. Jose Antonio Perez (153)
John Lopez (126) vs. Billy Giovanella (125)

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Bellator 185 Fight to Watch: Heather Hardy vs. Kristina Williams

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Heather Hardy will compete in MMA for the second time at Bellator 185 on Friday night, as she faces Kristina Williams in a strawweight contest. The fight takes place on the main card at the Mohican Sun Arena in Connecticut.

Potentially, what Bellator have in Heather ‘The Heat’ Hardy is a major draw that they can build their 125 pound division around. While relatively new to the organisation she is fast becoming one of the more popular names on the roster. Her career is in the early stages, but many have already started to draw comparisons with former boxer turned MMA star, Holly Holm. Holm’s UFC success partly inspired the native New Yorker to make the switch from boxing.

Hardy is already an established world champion in the land of the ‘sweet science’, holding a 21 fight undefeated professional record. She made her MMA debut in June this year with a victory over Alice Yauger, at Bellator 180. At 35, Hardy is a late starter in the sport, but proved at Madison Square Garden against the credible Yauger that she has a bright future.

Hardy’s first outing in the cage was disciplined and composed. Despite a slow start in round one, Hardy grew in confidence as the fight progressed and her cardio never faltered. She mixed in plenty of kicks that complimented her boxing and looked at ease in the clinch, even defending a couple of takedown attempts in the process.

Despite looking on course for a decision win, Hardy forced the TKO stoppage with just thirteen seconds remaining in round three. Even a large cut that required seven stitches from an accidental head clash could not deny her victory.

Hardy was fighting an experienced professional, competing for the tenth time in MMA, which makes the win over Yauger more impressive. However, her upcoming opponent Kristina Williams will be making her professional debut.

There is little known about Williams except that she is 3-0 at amateur level. One of those wins came by way of submission so there may well be a threat to Hardy if the fight goes to the ground. More importantly for Williams is how she copes on the big stage against a popular opponent, who is more familiar competing in high pressure combat situations. If Williams can produce an upset it will be a huge boost in her young career.

But in all honesty, this fight is about Hardy. It’s about getting the win and gaining valuable experience. The boxing career is on hold while MMA takes centre stage. Beating Williams will mean she likely continues fighting inside a cage rather than a boxing ring.

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