The UFC returns to Ireland on Saturday, October 24th and will be available exclusively on UFC Fight Pass. While this card doesn’t hold many “big names” in the sense that many of the UFC’s recent cards have, it does have some quality fights throughout, including some potential wars on the prelims. The prelims for the card begin at 1 pm Eastern Time and consists of 7 fights between fighters who all possess fairly impressive records going into the fights.
Garreth McLellan vs Bubba Bush
The first fight of the card is a middleweight bout between two fighters who are stepping into the Octagon in the UFC for only the 2nd time in their careers. Gareth “Soldier Boy” McLellan (12-3) is coming off a unanimous decision loss to Bartosz Fabinski at UFC Fight Night 64 but prior to that, the South African fighter had put together a 6 fight win streak which included 5 submission victories, 4 of which had come in the 1st round. McAllen will seemingly be looking to get this fight to the ground early.
Bubba Bush (8-2-1) suffered a brutal TKO loss at the hands of Kevin Casey at UFC 175 in his UFC debut, however that loss was changed to a no contest after Casey tested positive for anabolic steroids. Prior to that fight, Bush had put together a 4 fight win streak, finishing all 4 fights in the 1st or 2nd round. With 4 KO/TKO wins and 3 submission wins to his name, Bush seems to be comfortable no matter where the fight ends up, although he may try to keep it standing against a dangerous submission fighter like McLellan
Darren Elkins vs Robert Whiteford
In a battle of featherweights, the 14th ranked Featherweight Darren Elkins (18-5) will be looking to get back on the right track following a decision loss to Hacran Dias at UFC Fight Night 58. With 12 fights in the UFC Elkins is one of the more seasoned octagon veterans with a record of 8-4 inside the octagon. He is 2-3 in his last 5 fights however and hasn’t finished a fight since a TKO victory in 2013 over Antonio Carvalho. Elkins will be trying to return to his winning ways and will most likely be looking to send a message over a fighter looking to break into the rankings in the featherweight division.
Robert Whiteford (12-2) is 2-1 in the UFC, winning his last 2 fights including a 1st round KO of Paul Redmond at UFC Fight Night 72 earlier this year. The Scottish fighter has looked good in his last 2 fights but faces a major step up in competition against Elkins. While Elkins seems to be fairly comfortable anywhere the fight takes place, Whiteford will most likely attempt to keep the fight standing as half of his wins have come by way of KO/TKO. If Whiteford is able to come away with a win he may just get that jump into the rankings that he’s been searching for.
Cathal Pendred vs Tom Breese
Probably the most recognizable name on the prelims, Cathal “The Punisher” Pendred (17-3) will return to his home country looking to rebound from his 1st UFC loss, a split decision loss to John Howard at UFC 189. This will be Pendred’s 4th fight in 2015 and his 6th fight in 2 years, so he is anything but inactive as far as fighters go. Pendred hasn’t finished a fight since his UFC debut at UFC Fight Night 46 however and has taken some flack from fans for being a “boring” fighter. Pendred has been quoted lately as saying that he agrees with the fans to an extent and that he is working to rectify that view point. He’ll get that opportunity in front of his home crowd.
Tom Breese (8-0) is stepping into the UFC octagon for the 2nd time following a 1st round TKO victory over Luiz Jorge Dutra Jr at UFC Fight Night 67. The undefeated Englishman has finished every fight he’s been in with only 3 of those fights getting past the 1st round. The Tristar fighter has shown that he possesses knockout ability but seems to be most comfortable on the ground with 6 of his 8 wins coming by submission. He faces his biggest test yet in Pendred, but a win against The Punisher could propel him into the thick of the welterweight division contender hunt.
Scott Askham vs Krzysztof Jotko
Scott Askham (13-1) returns to the octagon for a 3rd time following his 1st round KO of Antonio Dos Santos Jr at UFC Fight Night 69. With a 1-1 record inside the Octagon, the English fighter has shown himself to have impressive striking as well as a decent ground game. With his only loss coming by decision to Magnus Cedenblad at UFC Fight Night 53, Askham is looking to make a name for himself in the Middleweight division.
Krzysztof Jotko (15-1) will step into the octagon for his 4th UFC fight after a unanimous decision over Tor Troeng at UFC Fight Night 53. Jot has a 2-1 record in the UFC, with his only loss also coming at the hands of Magnus Cedenblad via guillotine choke at UFC Fight Night 41. The Polish fighter has shown the ability to win fights whether standing or on the ground but hasn’t finished a fight since 2012. He will seemingly be looking to alter that fact on Saturday as long as he can keep Askham from landing any of his significant knockout shots.
Aisling Daly vs Ericka Almeida
The women’s strawweight division will see some action in Ireland as well. Aisling Daly (15-6) is a former North American Allied Fight Series champion and has fought in nearly every major promotion before entering the UFC. This will be her 3rd fight inside the UFC, with a 1-1 record in the octagon, Daly will be looking to rebound from her decision loss to Randa Markos at UFC 186. With 13 of her 15 wins coming by either KO/TKO or submission, Daly is capable of finishing the fight no matter where it ends up.
Stepping into the octagon for the 2nd time, Ericka Almeida (7-1) will be looking to come back from her 1st ever loss, a decision loss to Juliana de Lima Carneiro at UFC Fight Night 67. A dangerous submission artist, the Brazilian fighter has finished all of her fights except 1 inside of the 1st round and 6 of them by submission. A victory over the #14 strawweight in the UFC will go a long way towards making the case that she is a legitimate threat in the division.
Neil Seery vs Jon Delos Reyes
Irish fan favorite Neil Seery (15-11) returns to Ireland attempting to return to the win column after dropping his last fight to Louis Smolka at UFC 189. The well-rounded flyweight is 2-2 in the UFC and was on a 2 fight win streak prior to the decision loss to Smolka. He hasn’t finished a fight since 2013 but has shown that he is more than capable of finishing the fight whether on the feet or on the mat. The 36-year-old is always entertaining and will be looking to continue that trend of exciting fights with a victory in front of his hometown Dublin crowd.
Jon Delos Reyes (8-4) makes this his 4th fight in the UFC, he is 1-2 in the UFC with his last fight ending with him choking out Roldan Sangcha-an in the 2nd round at UFC Fight Night 66. Reyes isn’t a fighter that likes to let fights go to decision, win or lose, only 1 of his fights have gone the distance and he has shown that he can easily finish a fight via strikes or submissions. When you combine Seery’s never say die attitude in fights with Reyes’ proclivity for finishing fights, this match up has all the makings of an all out war.
Stevie Ray vs Mickael Lebout
Stevie “Braveheart” Ray (18-5) is stepping into the octagon for the 3rd time riding a 4 fight win streak, including 2 tko victories in his 2 UFC fights. With 14 of his 18 wins coming by way of KO/TKO or submission, Ray has proven to be a well rounded finisher who likes to end fights quickly. The Scottish fighter will be looking to add Lebout to his highlight reel of finishes and make a name for himself in the UFC Lightweight division.
Mickael Lebout (14-4) will also be in his 3rd UFC fight on Saturday following a unanimous decision win over Teemu Packalen at UFC Fight Night 72. Lebout is 1-1 in the UFC and has proven himself to be a danger on the ground with 6 wins by submission to his name. While he’s only finished 1 of his last 5 fights, he has proven to be a tough fight for opponents and will look to be so for Ray. Ray would seem to be the favorite in this fight but you can’t count Lebout out.
While there isn’t as much name recognition for the casual fan, the prelims for UFC Dublin provide a variety of interesting and exciting match ups full of up and coming fighters looking to prove themselves to the UFC brass. Be sure to tune in to UFC Fight Pass at 1 pm ET on Saturday, October 24th for the prelims and at 4 pm ET for the main card of UFC Fight Night: Dubli
Aldo vs. Lamas 2 and Ponzinibbio vs. Perry Added to UFC Winnipeg
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.
THIS. CARD. pic.twitter.com/bc4AyNncqy
— UFC (@ufc) October 13, 2017
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
Why the UFC Needs to Introduce 165 and 175-pound Weight Divisions
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
James Gallagher out of Bellator 187 in Dublin due to injury
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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