A whirlwind of news and disappointments has us arriving at February 6, the date first set for UFC 196 with a Heavyweight title fight main event. First, challenger Cain Velasquez dropped out due to a back injury and was replaced by Stipe Miocic. Not even 24 hours later, Champion Fabricio Werdum backed out due to injury leaving UFC 196 in jeopardy. Fast forward to Tuesday last week and the event has been changed to UFC Fight Night: Hendricks vs. Thompson and will air LIVE and FREE on Fox Sports 1. The name UFC 196 has been given to the March 5 PPV that will be headlined by a Lightweight title fight between Lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos and Featherweight champion Conor McGregor.
Early Prelims- UFC Fight Pass (7 PM EST, 4 PM PST. 12 AM GMT)
Featherweight: Artem Lobov vs. Alex White
Welterweight: Mickey Gall vs. Mike Jackson
Preliminary Card- Fox Sports 1 (8 PM EST, 5 PM PST, 1 AM GMT)
Featherweight: Noad Lahat vs. Diego Rivas
Flyweight: Ray Borg vs. Justin Scoggins
Heavyweight: Derrick Lewis vs. Damian Grabowski
Lightweight: Josh Burkman vs. K.J. Noons
Main Card- Fox Sports 1 (10 PM EST, 7 PM PST, 3 AM GMT)
Welterweight: Mike Pyle vs. Sean Spencer
Light Heavyweight: Misha Cirkunov vs. Alex Nicholson
Flyweight: Joseph Benavidez vs. Zach Makovsky
Light Heavyweight: Ovince St. Preux vs. Rafael Cavalcante
Heavyweight: Roy Nelson vs. Jared Rosholt
Welterweight: Johny Hendricks vs. Stephen Thompson
Joseph Benavidez vs. Zach Makovsky
In a Flyweight bout with title implications when number one contender Joseph Benavidez (23-4 MMA; 10-2 UFC)* and Zach Makovsky (19-6; 3-2) meet. The fight was originally scheduled to start off the PPV portion,
Benavidez is a two-time Flyweight title challenger. He last fought for the title on FOX where he was KO’d in the first round. He is now on a four-fight win streak and looking to get back to the title. He has wins over Tim Elliot, Dustin Ortiz, John Moraga and Ali Bagautinov. He has yet to lose a non-title fight in the UFC so far. Benavidez is a very well rounded fighter with 3.27 Significant Strikes Landed per Minute (SLpM)**, 66% Striking Defense and 0.8 Submission Attempts per 15 min.
Makovsky is the former Bellator Bantamweight champion when he beat Ed West. He joined the UFC at UFC on Fox 9, coincidentally where Benavidez last fought for the title. He would get the decision win over veteran Scott Jorgensen that night and then move on to Josh Sampo at UFC 170. He picked up a loss to Jussier Formiga but got back on track with a win over Tim Elliot. He last fought at UFC 187 against John Dodson where he lost a close decision. Makovsky has a wrestling base and shows it with his 3.60 Takedowns per 15 min.
Ovince St. Preux vs. Rafael Cavalcante
Light Heavyweights Ovince St. Preux (18-7; 6-2) and Rafael Cavalcante (12-6, 1 NC; 1-3) match up.
St. Preux is a former Strikeforce standout with five wins in six fights. He moved to the UFC with the merger and made his debut at UFC 159 against Gian Villante. His first four fights yielded three finishes with two submissions and a KO, including a Von-Flue choke against Nikita Krylov at UFC 171. His last four have seen him go 2-2 with wins over Shogun and Patrick Cummins. St. Preux is a solid striker with 2.59 SLpM and 53% Takedown Accuracy.
Cavalcante is the former Strikeforce Light Heavyweight champion when he beat King Mo. The hype didn’t last long as he lost the title before he was able to defend it against Dan Henderson. He has not seen success in the UFC with just one win (TKO over Igor Pokrajec) in four UFC fights. He last fought at UFC 190 where he was dominated and then TKO’d by Patrick Cummins in Brazil. ‘Feijao’ is a power striker with 11 of his twelve wins coming by KO/TKO and one submission due to punches. He has been hit a ton in the UFC with 4.69 Significant Strikes Absorbed per Minute (SApM) and only 2.32 SLpM.
Roy Nelson vs. Jared Rosholt
The co-main event is a top 15 Heavyweight showdown between Roy Nelson (20-12; 7-8) and Jared Rosholt (14-2; 6-1).
‘Big Country’ is a fan favorite with his KO power and a big belly. He is just 1-4 in his last five with the win coming over Antonio Nogueira in the main event of Fight Night: Abu Dhabi. 18 of his 20 career wins have come by finish, with all seven of his UFC wins by KO/TKO. He has only been finished once inside the Octagon when Mark Hunt face planted him in the main event of Fight Night Japan. He has been the main event in three of his last four fights and the co-main or main event in five of six.
Rosholt is a winner of his last three and six of seven in the UFC. He is almost the exact opposite of Big Country who has five of his six UFC wins by decision. He won his biggest fight yet against Stefan Struve at UFC 193 where he got the decision nod. The former Oklahoma State wrestler is the younger brother of former UFC Middleweight Jake Rosholt. Rosholt does the majority of his damage on the ground with 13 career takedowns and 38% of his Significant Strikes landed came from the ground.
Johny Hendricks vs. Stephen Thompson
The new main event of the UFC Fight Night 82 is a Welterweight scrap between former champion Johny Hendricks (17-3; 12-3) and Stephen Thompson (11-1; 6-1). It will be a five-round main event.
Hendricks is the former Welterweight champ. He won the vacant belt at UFC 171 after losing his first title fight to then-champion Georges St. Pierre. When St. Pierre left the sport, Hendricks fought veteran and now-champ Robbie Lawler for the belt. He would win the first match up in a Fight of the Year. The two would meet again at UFC 181 where Lawler got the better of Hendricks and won the belt. Hendricks has had weight issues since then and was pulled from a highly anticipated bout against Tyron Woodley at UFC 192 after being hospitalized for body complications due to extreme weight cut.
‘Wonderboy’ is a winner of five straight with three KO/TKO finishes. He was switched from being on UFC 189 to the main event of TUF 21 Finale against Jake Ellenberger. He hit two spinning heel kicks with the second ending the fight in the first round. That was his sixth win by TKO/KO in his 11 career wins. Wonderboy lands 4.68 SLpM at 50% Striking Accuracy. He’ll need to use his 78% Takedown Defense (TDD) against the former D1 All-American Hendricks
*- All records from Sherdog.com
**-All stats from FightMetric.com
Felice Herrig vs. Karolina Kowalkiewicz in the works for UFC 223
UFC 223 looks to add a variety of intriguing bouts. With Paul Felder vs. Al Iaquinta reportedly set for the unannounced UFC 223 card, the promotion looks to add a high stakes female flyweight match-up. According to MMANYTT.com, sources confirmed a bout between Felice Herrig and Karolina Kowalkiewicz, is in the works for the pay-per-view card.
Assuming the match-up does come to be, both women have much to gain from a victory. For Herrig, she currently sits on a four-fight win streak. A streak in which the strawweight contender defeated Kailin Curran, Alexa Grasso, Justine Kish, and Cortney Casey. The MMA veteran, Herrig, began fighting professionally in 2009. As of late, her issues with the marketing machine that is the UFC have intensified.
After demonstrating her technical prowess over Justine Kish at UFC Fight Night 122: Chiesa vs. Lee, Herrig put her emotions on display. She stated at the post-fight media scrum, “Sometimes, I feel like, I’m not young and beautiful enough for the UFC to want to promote me. And it’s sad because I’ve really worked so hard to be here and it’s hard to see these people who’ve not been through what I’ve been through. Who just got into the UFC at the right time. They’re getting all these opportunities and I see how hard I work to get here and it’s just like, it doesn’t matter. I just feel like, ‘I’m not pretty enough and I’m not getting any younger'”.
A frustrated Felice Herrig then spoke to MMAJunkie.com in December. She claimed, “Aside from (former UFC women’s strawweight champ) Joanna (Jedrzejczyk), I’m the only strawweight who’s gone on a four-fight winning streak. That’s a fact. At this point, I want to fight someone in the top 10. It doesn’t really make sense for me to keep fighting girls that are ranked below me. That’s the whole point. If I want to keep working my way up. I fight the most dangerous girls outside the top 10”. The #9 ranked women’s flyweight has a point. In her UFC career, she recorded one loss in six appearances. Yet, she has one co-main event booking, while fighters like Michelle Waterson, booked the main event in her second UFC bout. In Waterson’s third bout, she received a co-main event scheduling. Understandably, Felice Herrig is upset with her situation.
Later in her interview, Herrig brought up Kowalkiewicz as a potential next opponent. “For whatever reason, I really want to fight Karolina. I just think that would be an exciting fight… Stylistically, I really like that fight. She’s ranked above (me), and it may be a good gauge for me,” she stated. Right now, it looks like Herrig is close to getting what she wants.
Kowalkiewicz last fought in her native country of Poland on the UFC Fight Pass card, UFC Fight Night 118: Cowboy vs. Till, in October. The Polish star defeated Jody Esquibel, after losing consecutive contests to former UFC female strawweight champion, Joanna Jedrzejcyk and Claudia Gadelha, respectively.
A win for either makes a good case for the next or an eventual title challenger. Kowalkiewicz holds a victory over current division champion, Rose Namajunas. While a win for Herrig would further establish her impressive win streak and undoubtedly give her the boost in the rankings she deserves.
Douglas Lima found out about change to co-main event at Bellator 192 from the internet
Bellator 192 fight card has gone through a shake-up over the past week. Bellator president Scott Coker revealed last week that the scheduled welterweight title fight between Rory MacDonald and champion Douglas Lima will now be serving as the co-main event and the heavyweight matchup between Chael Sonnen and Rampage Jackson would instead take top billing. At the time no explanation was made for the change. Monday Douglas Lima was a guest on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani to discuss this change.
“I was little bummed, but it is what it is, it’s business you know. I was pretty excited you know? Being the main event, having Rampage fight as the co-main event, I was happy there. Then I was bummed out that they changed it back to the co-main event. It’s not going to change a thing for me, I’m just focusing on the fight.”
Lima has been notoriously looked over in the eyes of fight fans. A longtime member of Bellator and a two-time champion has not gotten the notice he deserves and hopes to get.
“I found out through the internet, nobody tells me anything, I didn’t know. the same thing happened in New York, I thought my fight would be before the two main events there, but it ended up being the first fight of the night on Pay-Per-View. Hopefully, it doesn’t take anything away from the fight, you know spotlight and stuff.”
Lima is looking to make all the naysayers take notice at Bellator 192 that takes place at The Forum in Inglewood, Califonia on January 20th.
“This is the fight I’ve been waiting for for a long time. To get my name out there, to get people to know who I am. I’ve been delivering a lot of good fights, fights fans like to watch but no attention yet. I’m hoping though that after a win over Rory this week it will really put my name out there and show all these welterweights out there that I am for real.”
Al Iaquinta vs. Paul Felder rescheduled for UFC 223 in April
MMA fans around the world wept in deep sorrow when Al Iaquinta withdrew from a bout scheduled for UFC 218 against Paul Felder. Weep no more, for Paul Felder faces Al Iaquinta at UFC 223. Rumblings behind the match-up, first reported by FloCombat.com, came Sunday night before MMAFighting.com confirmed the bout scheduled for unannounced pay-per-view card, later in the evening.
The original bout fell through due to a severe knee injury to Iaquinta. He spoke to BJ Penn Radio about the injury nearly a week before the December 2nd, PPV event in Detriot. The Long Island real estate agent claimed, “I tore my PCL and my MCL maybe three or four months ago… for me to really put in a full training camp and do what I need to do, I would’ve had to just focus on fighting and physical therapy… it was the kind of thing where all roads led to me not kind of taking a risk and fighting on December 2nd”.
Iaquinta went on to say, “I kind of accepted the fight, but I never signed a bout agreement… I was kind of told I had to give them an answer pretty quick. It was a fight I thought I really wanted. I thought it was a good stylistic match-up for me, so I accepted the fight, and then thinking about it over the course of a day, we realized it probably wasn’t a smart decision for my health, for everything”.
An outspoken lightweight, he is not the first of his kind. Al Iaquinta is no stranger to idly waiting on the sideline for the UFC to make a move. Contract disputes and other bad strokes of luck left the Serra-Longo with three octagon appearances since 2015. The feud between Iaquinta and the promotion comes as a surprise when looking at the credentials of the aforementioned fighter. With an octagon record of 8-2, he earned notoriety as one of the best lightweights in the world. During his time in the UFC, he defeated Kevin Lee, Ross Pearson, Joe Lauzon, Jorge Masvidal, and most recently Diego Sanchez.
His opponent, “The Irish Dragon”, Paul Felder, holds an impressive UFC record of his own. At 7-3, Felder defeated tough competition as well. His record notes wins over Daron Cruickshank, Jason Saggo, Stevie Ray, and Charles Oliveira. Even more impressive than his record, his knockout ratio. At this stage of his career, Felder knockouts 55% of his opponents (10 knockouts in 18 career pro bouts).
Like his opponent Iaquinta, Paul Felder has a separate career outside of fighting. As many should notice, Felder found a role as a color commentator with the promotion he fights for. Following the footsteps in a long line of fighters before him, Felder announced multiple events alongside another new addition to the UFC broadcast team, Brendan Fitzgerald.
PPV card, UFC 223 and its location are not official yet. Despite a lack of an announcement, the event takes place in Brooklyn, New York at the Barclays Centre, according to multiple reports. Currently, the card features no official bouts. Reports state Felice Herrig vs. Karolina Kowalkiewicz (per Jim Edwards), and Evan Dunham vs. Mairbek Taisumov (per Farah Hannoun) are both in the works for UFC 223.
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