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UFC Fight Night: MacDonald vs. Thompson Preview

Vinny Craig

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It’s the calm before the storm of the UFC’s biggest weekend of all time. The last event before International Fight Week and four event in seven days, the capital of Canada gets its first event in Ottawa. Canadian talents Rory MacDonald, Patrick Cote, Steve Bosse, Randa Markos, and much more give a great home crowd feel. The main event is likely a title eliminator in the Welterweight division between number one contender Rory MacDonald and surging Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson.

Main Card- Fox Sports 1 (10:30 PM EDT, 7:30 PM PDT, 3:30 AM GMT)

Welterweight- Rory MacDonald vs. Stephen Thompson

Welterweight- Donald Cerrone vs. Patrick Cote

Light Heavyweight- Steve Bosse vs. Sean O’Connell

Lightweight- Olivier Aubin-Mercier vs. Thibault Gouti

Women’s Flyweight- Valerie Letourneau vs. Joanne Calderwood

 

Preliminary Card- Fox Sports 2 (8:30 PM EDT, 5:30 PDT, 1:30 GMT)

Lightweight- Jason Saggo vs. Leandro Silva

Light Heavyweight- Misha Cirkunov vs. Ion Cutelaba

Middleweight- Tamdan McCrory vs. Krzysztof Jotko

Bantamweight- Chris Beal vs. Joe Soto

 

Early Preliminary Card- UFC Fight Pass (6:45 PM EDT, 3:45 PM PDT, 11:45 GMT)

Middleweight- Elias Theodorou vs. Sam Alvey

Women’s Strawweight- Randa Markos vs. Jocelyn Jones-Lybarger

Welterweight- Colby Covington vs. Jonathan Miller

Flyweight- Ali Bagautinov vs. Geane Herrera

 

Elias Theodorou vs. Sam Alvey

The Middleweight division just got a new champion when Michael Bisping beat Luke Rockhold at UFC 199. The very next fight for the division is between Elias Theodorou (11-1 MMA; 3-1 UFC) and Sam Alvey (26-7, 1 NC; 3-2) as they are the feature fight on UFC Fight Pass.

Theodorou was the winner of The Ultimate Fighter: Nations Middleweight tournament. He picked up two decision wins over Zein Saliba and Tyler Manawora to meet Sheldon Westcott in the finale. He picked up a second round TKO win in the finale to start his UFC career. He returned to his home country of Canada at UFC Fight Night 54 with a win over Bruno Santos. At UFC 185, ‘Spartan’ beat Roger Narvaez by TKO in the second round to earn his third straight win in the UFC. His first loss came in his last fight against Thiago Santos where Theodorou hung on to drag the fight to a decision. Theodorou has rounded out his game, but still relies on his heavy wrestling and pressure from the top. He comes in with 2.77 Takedowns per 15 min. and uses the ground advantage for his 3.75 Significant Strikes Landed per Minute (SLpM).

Alvey fought on The Ultimate Fighter season 16 as a Welterweight. After getting a quick first round KO to get into the house, he fought Joey Rivera and lost by majority decision. He returned to the UFC at UFC Fight Night 47 where he lost to Tom Watson by decision. His next three fights all ended with first round finishes as with knockouts over Dylan Andrews and Cezar Ferreira and a TKO over Dan Kelly. ‘Smile’ N’ last fought at UFC Fight Night 73 in October to face Derek Brunson. The fight lasted just over two minutes before Brunson landed a series of punches to earn a TKO win. Alvey comes in with two career Knockdowns and 4.34 SLpM which is good for fourth in the active division.

 

Valerie Letourneau vs. Joanne Calderwood

The first ever women’s Flyweight bout will take place between two current Strawweight competitors in Valerie Letourneau (8-4; 3-1) and Joanna Calderwood (10-1; 2-1). The bout will start off the main card on Fox Sports 1.

Letourneau was the last women to fight for the Strawweight belt in November at the famed UFC 193 event in Melbourne. Leading up to the title fight, Letourneau won three straight fights in the UFC and seven of her last eight overall with wins over Elizabeth Phillips (Split Decision), Jessica Rakoczy (Unanimous Decision), and Maryna Moroz (Unanimous Decision) and the lone loss coming to Claudia Gadelha outside of the UFC. In the fight, she took everything the champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk had when she absorbed 220 Significant Strikes to Letourneau’s 103. ‘Trouble’ has looked good in the UFC with 4.49 SLpM, 60% Striking Defense, and 87% Striking Defense.

Calderwood was on The Ultimate Fighter 20 which created the Strawweight division in the UFC. She picked up a win over Emily Kagan in her first fight to set up a bout with Rose Namajunas. ‘Jojo’ was finished by a Kimura in the second round to eventual finalist Namajunas. At the finale, Calderwood was paired with UFC newcomer Seohee Hamn where she won the fight by decision. She was heavily favored in her next fight to Maryna Moroz in Poland. Calderwood couldn’t make it out of the first round when she lost by Armbar. She returned against Cortney Casey in her home country of Scotland at UFC Fight Night 72 with a decision win. She has looked good in the UFC despite a loss as she steps in with 6.67 SLpM, 54% Striking Accuracy, and has yet to be taken down in the UFC.

 

Donald Cerrone vs. Patrick Cote

The co-main event also happens in the Welterweight division between Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone (29-7, 1 NC; 16-4) and Patrick Cote (23-9; 11-8).

Cerrone came to the UFC in the merger after ten fights in the WEC. He made his debut at UFC 126 with a win over Paul Kelly, one of four in a row to get him to a fight with Nate Diaz at UFC 141. In a somewhat title eliminator fight, he got brutalized by Nate Diaz for three rounds and lost the fight by decision. After a loss to Rafael dos Anjos at UFC Fight Night 27, ‘Cowboy’ won his next eight fights to earn his shot at the dos Anjos again, this time for a title. The fight lasted just 66 seconds as Cerrone was hit with a body shot and the ensuing punches to lose by TKO. He returned in his last fight against fellow ‘Cowboy’ Alex Oliveira in a Welterweight debut with a first round Triangle. Currently in the Lightweight division, Cerrone is top 5 in Knockdowns Landed (8), Significant Strikes Landed (824), Takedown Defense (88%).

Cote is a long-time veteran of the sport, making his UFC debut at UFC 50 against superstar Tito Ortiz. He lost the fight, but his UFC career was jumpstarted. He returned on The Ultimate Season 4, a season where previous UFC fighters returned. He made it to the finale against Travis Lutter where he lost by Armbar. He went on a five fight win streak, earning a title shot at Middleweight Kingpin Anderson Silva. After the loss to Silva and two more following it, he was cut by the UFC and went back to local promotions. He returned in 2012 to a loss to Cung Le but went on a three-fight win streak. His last loss came to Stephen Thompson at UFC 178 where he lost by decision. He sits on a three-fight win streak with wins over Joe Riggs, Josh Burkman, and Ben Saunders.

Rory MacDonald vs. Stephen Thompson

The co-main event is a Welterweight title eliminator between Rory MacDonald (18-3; 9-3) and Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson (12-1; 6-1).

MacDonald fought champion Robbie Lawler at UFC 189 in the 2015 Fight of the Year as they went five back-and-forth rounds ending in a TKO for Lawler. That came after three straight wins over Demian Maia, Tyron Woodley, and Tarec Saffiedine. His last loss before the title shot was also to Lawler coming off of five straight wins. At just 26 years old, MacDonald is still very young in the sport and is getting better with each fight. ‘Red King’ is the number one contender in the division and comes in at 3.96 SLpM, 63% Striking Defense, 2.06 Takedowns per 15 min., and 88% Takedown Defense.

Thompson is a winner of six straight fights over the last three years. ‘Wonderboy’ last tasted defeat against Matt Brown at UFC 145. In his next six, Thompson picked up wins over Nah-Shon Burrell, Chris Clements, Robert Whittaker, Patrick Cote, Demian Maia, Jake Ellenberger, and Johny Hendricks. Thompson has looked better with each fight, getting bigger and bigger wins. His stats are impressive with 4.79 SLpM, 50% Striking Accuracy, and 58% Striking Defense as one of the best strikers in the entire UFC.

 

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News

Stephen Thompson wants Rafael dos Anjos in contender eliminator bout

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Over the weekend, Rafael dos Anjos defeated Robbie Lawler at UFC Fight Night: Winnipeg, in dominant fashion via unanimous decision. The main event of the Canadian event was Dos Anjos’ third victory in as many fights at welterweight. The former UFC lightweight champion moved up in weight after suffering two consecutive losses. First, relinquishing his championship title to Eddie Alvarez, then falling to current interim lightweight champion, Tony Ferguson. Although the Brazilian had fought at the 155-pound weight limit exclusively in his career, his weight cut in order to reach the lightweight limit is admittedly brutal.

When talking with FloCombat, the top welterweight contender claimed, “It is not worth it [the weight cut] considering the amount I’m earning today. This was one of my motivations to change to welterweight. I don’t need to kill myself and earn this salary.” He further explained the agony of making the weight limit, “I want to avoid those last 15 pounds. That is terror and panic. It’s almost death. I don’t need to face that anymore. I want to fight well and happy, get in there strong and in good shape”.

Now that Dos Anjos has arrived at welterweight with such success, he believes he deserves a shot at Tyron Woodley and the 170-pound belt.

This is a sentiment that UFC president Dana White seems to agree with. At the Toronto press conference, White fielded a question on whether or not the winner of the Lawler vs. Dos Anjos match-up would yield a title contender, “Yup,” he responded. Later in the press event, White further clarified Dos Anjos’ position in the welterweight ranks, “(RDA) just had a great win to get himself back into contention and a win over Robbie Lawler obviously would do it”.

Yet, another top-ranked welterweight does not agree. Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson wants a third crack at welterweight gold, and he believes Dos Anjos is his ticket back to title contention.

What makes this challenge intriguing? The status of current welterweight champion, Tyron Woodley. Last week, Woodley announced on his TMZ show, The Hollywood Beatdown, he would be having surgery. The champion stated, “I’m going to go ahead and get this shoulder repaired. I’ve been saying, ‘You know what, I don’t want to get it cut on, I don’t want to get it repaired.’ But if there’s no fight that really makes a ton of sense for me to take the risk, to not be 100 percent with my shoulder, then I’m going to go ahead and have it repaired. They’re not going to do a full orthopedic rehabilitation, but they’re going to do a scope and they’re going to anchor down some sides. Then I’m going to get some PRP (platelet-rich plasma), some stem cells.” A timetable for his return is not readily available.

As the division stands, the truly deserving of the next welterweight title shot would be either Thompson or Dos Anjos. The recent credentials of both garner such status. Thompson most recently defeated rising contender, Jorge Masvidal at UFC 217. Before his early November victory over Masvidal, the undefeated kick-boxer challenged for the belt twice, consecutively. While he was unsuccessful in both attempts to earn the belt, each fight was extremely close. The first of which, scored a majority draw.

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Events

*Live Updates* UFC Winnipeg Official Results

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The UFC returns to Canada for the final Fight Night card of 2017. In the cold of Winnipeg, Manitoba, the UFC will host eleven of the originally twelve scheduled fights. Unfortunately, Tim Elliot will not fight in the north country. His scheduled opponent, Pietro Menga, a newcomer to the promotions roster, failed to make weight after taking the bout with just over a weeks notice.

An exciting main card will be capped off with a potential contender eliminator bout featuring, Robbie Lawler and Rafael Dos Anjos. The former champions (Lawler at welterweight, Dos Anjos at lightweight) both put together impressive win streaks which dispatched top contenders in their respective divisions. Elsewhere on the main card, Santiago Ponzinibbio takes on the outspoken Mike Perry.

The card begins on UFC Fight Pass at 4:30/1:30 ETPT.

UFC Winnipeg Official Results:

MAIN CARD – FOX – 8PM/5PM ETPT

  • #2 Robbie Lawler (28-11) vs. #4 Rafael Dos Anjos (27-9) – Welterweight bout
    • Result: Rafael Dos Anjos def. Robbie Lawler via unanimous decision (50-45, 50-45, 50-45)
  • #3 Ricardo Lamas (18-5) vs. Josh Emmett (12-1) – Catchweight bout (148.5 lbs)
    • Result: Josh Emmett def. Ricardo Lamas via KO (punch) 4:33 round 1
  • #10 Santiago Ponzinibbio (25-3) vs. Mike Perry (11-1) – Welterweight bout
    • Result: Santiago Ponzinibbio def. Mike Perry via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
  • #3 Glover Teixeira (26-6) vs. #7 Misha Cirkunov (13-3) – Light Heavyweight bout
    • Result: Glover Teixeira def. Misha Cirkunov via TKO (punches) 2:45  round 1

PRELIMINARY CARD – FS1 – 5PM/2PM ETPT

  • #14 Jared Cannonier (10-2) vs #15 Jan Blachowicz (20-7) – Light Heavyweight bout
    • Result: Jan Blachowicz def. Jared Cannonier via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
  • Julian Marquez (6-1) vs. Darren Stewart (7-2) – Middleweight bout
    • Result: Julian Marquez def. Darren Stewart via submission (standing guillotine) 2:42 round 2
  • Chad Laprise (13-2) vs. Galore Bofando (5-2) – Welterweight bout
    • Result: Chad Laprise def. Galore Bofando via TKO (punches) 4:10 round 1
  • Nordine Taleb (13-4) vs Danny Roberts (14-2) – Welterweight bout
    • Result: Nordine Taleb def. Danny Roberts via KO (head kick and punch) :59 round 1
  • John Makdessi (14-6) vs Abel Trujillo (15-7) – Lightweight bout
    • Result: John Makdessi def. Abel Trujillo via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
  • Alessio Di Chirico (10-2) vs Oluwale Bamgbose (6-3) – Middleweight bout
    • Result: Alessio Di Chirico def. Oluwale Bamgbose via KO (knee) 2:14 round 2

EARLY PRELIMINARY CARD – UFC FIGHT PASS – 4:30PM/1:30PM ETPT

  • Jordan Mein (29-12) vs. Erick Silva (19-8) – Welterweight bout
    • Result: Jordan Mein def. Erick Silva via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-27, 30-26)
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Fight Announcements

Gilbert Burns vs. Olivier Aubin-Mercier Added to UFC Orlando

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The UFC has now added more bouts to the front end of their 2018 schedule. Gilbert Burns (13-2, 5-2 UFC) will face Olivier Aubin-Mercier (10-2, 6-2 UFC) in Orlando, Florida on February 24th, 2018.

Alongside a few other high-profile fight announcements, is the addition to the UFC Orlando, Florida card. The two lightweights will join Jake Collier and Marcin Prachnio, as the second fight set for the event.

It has been a while since the UFC hosted an event in the state of Florida. Last seen by the Floridians was UFC on Fox: Texeira vs. Evans, on April 16, 2016 in Tampa Bay. The card was a success, despite the cancellation of its planned main event between Tony Ferguson and Khabib Nurmagomedov. Drawing a gate of $1.05 million and 2.13 million viewers.

Gilbert Burns signed with the UFC after accumulating an undefeated record of 8-0. His first loss came in his home country of Brazil, as Rashid Magomedov defeated him via unanimous decision at UFC Fight Night: Belfort vs. Henderson 3, in November of 2015.

In his most recent bout, Burns defeated Jason Saggo by KO with five seconds remaining in the second round at UFC Fight Night: Rockhold vs. Branch.

Aubin-Mercier will come into the contest as a winner in his last three bouts. The Canadian fighter trains out of the Tristar gym, alongside legends such as Georges St. Pierre and head coach, Firas Zahabi.

In 2011, Aubin-Mercier was chosen to compete on The Ultimate Fighter: Nations. Competing in the welterweight bracket, he became a finalist by defeating both, Jake Mathews (unanimous decision) and Richard Walsh (rear naked choke). In the finale, Aubin-Mercier lost to Chad Laprise by split decision.

UFC Orlando will take place at the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida on February 24th, 2018.

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