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UFC Fight Night: Namajunas vs. VanZant Lineup and Fights You Can’t Miss

Vinny Craig



After just under two weeks off, the UFC is back for the biggest weekend in history. Starting off that weekend is a Fight Pass exclusive card on Thursday, December 9. Here are the lineup and times for the event!

Preliminary Card- UFC Fight Pass (6:45 PM EST, 3:45 PST, 11:45 PM GMT)

Women’s Strawweight: Kailin Curran vs. Emily Kagan

Featherweight: Zubaira Tukhgov vs. Phillipe Nover

Welterweight: Michael Graves vs. Danny Roberts

Welterweight: Santiago Ponzinibbio vs. Andreas Stahl

Bantamweight: Aljamain Sterling vs. Johnny Eduardo

Middleweight: Antonio Carlos Junior vs. Kevin Casey

Welterweight: Omari Akhmedov vs. Sergio Moraes

Welterweight: Tim Means vs. John Howard

Main Card- UFC Fight Pass (10 PM EST, 7 PM PST, 3 AM GMT)

Middleweight: Elias Theodorou vs. Thiago Santos

Lightweight: Sage Northcutt vs. Cody Pfister

Lightweight: Jim Miller vs. Michael Chiesa

Women’s Strawweight: Rose Namajunas vs. Paige VanZant


Five fights you don’t want miss from the event!


Aljamain Sterling vs. Johnny Eduardo

In the Bantamweight division, we have Aljamain Sterling (11-0 MMA, 3-0 UFC) and Johnny Eduardo (27-9; 2-1). The fight is buried on the preliminary card despite being one of the fights people are most excited for.

Sterling is a winner of three straight in the UFC. He last fought UFC on Fox 15 where he picked up a win as the underdog against Takeya Mizugaki. He won the fight in the third round by Arm-Triangle choke. This comes after a TKO win over Hugo Viana at UFC Fight Night 45 and a decision win against Cody Gibson at UFC 170. Coming out of the Serra-Longo camp, home of UFC Middleweight champion Chris Weidman, Sterling is good everywhere and is exciting to watch. He’ll come into the fight with 3.41 Significant Strikes Landed per Minute (SLpM) and only 1.12 Significant Strikes Absorbed per Minute (SApM). His wrestling is also good with 3.66 Takedowns per 15 min. and 1.5 Submission Attempts.

Eduardo is a winner of his last two including a first round KO of Eddie Wineland. Eduardo started his UFC career off with a loss to Raphael Assuncao at UFC 134. Just under a year later he beat Jeff Curan by decision and then needed another two years before beating Wineland. Eduardo is  a striker who hits his opponent (2.60 SLpM) as often as he gets hit (2.60).


Elias Theodorou vs. Thiago Santos

Middleweights start the main card with Elias Theodorou (11-0; 3-0) and Thiago Santos (11-3; 3-2). Both got finishes in their last affairs.

Theodorou is The Ultimate Fighter: Nations winner from the Canadian team. He won in the finale beating Sheldon Westcott by second round TKO. His last two fights have been victories as he got a decision win over Bruno Santos and a TKO against Roger Narvaez. Theodorou is the type of fighter to take you down (3.55 Takedowns per 15 min.) and then execute serious ground and pound (4.59 Significant Strikes Lander per Minute).

Santos is a winner of two straight, both by finish. He has three UFC wins all together starting with a TKO win over Ronny Markes in the first round. His last two have come by TKO over Andy Enz by UFC 183 and a KO over Steve Bosse at UFC Fight Night 70. The head kick KO over Bosse earned him a Performance of the Night check. Santos is all striking with 3.88 SLpM and 68% Striking Defense.


Sage Northcutt vs. Cody Pfister

In one of the most anticipated fights on the card, Sage Northcutt (6-0; 1-0) and Cody Pfister (12-4-1; 1-1) face off in the Lightweight division.

Northcutt was on the Fight pass prelims in his last fight and now is on the main card. His debut lasted only 57 seconds as he picked up a TKO win over Francisco Trevino at UFC 192. That increased his streak to six straight finishes to start his career. He has a karate background and has learned the ground game after. Northcutt landed 21 Significant Strikes to his opponent’s 1.

Pfister is a two fight UFC vet with a win and a loss. He made his debut early this year when he lost to James Moontasri by Rear-Naked choke. His next fight was at UFC 189 where he picked up a decision win over Yosdenis Cedeno. Pfister has only landed 27 Sig. Strikes in two fights with five takedowns, all in the second fight.


Jim Miller vs. Michael Chiesa

The co-main event for the card also happens in the Lightweight division as veterans Jim Miller (25-6, 1 NC; 14-5, 1 NC) and Michael Chiesa (12-2; 5-2).

Miller started his career at UFC 89 and had nine of his first ten fights with the organization. At UFC on Versus 5, Miller was placed into a title eliminator fight of sorts with future Lightweight champion Benson Henderson. He would lose the fight by decision and then lost another title eliminator to Nate Diaz in a headlining bout for UFC on Fox 3. Recently, he has lost two of three with the lone win coming to Danny Castillo at UFC on Fox 16. Miller is a grappler by trade with some striking prowess. He doesn’t get hit often with his 62% Striking Defense and uses that for his takedowns with 1.83 Takedowns per 15 min. Miller has the most submission attempts in Lightweight history with 34.

Chiesa is The Ultimate Fighter Live winner when he beat Al Iaquinta by Rear-Naked choke. That win gave way to another Rear-Naked choke victory over Anton Kuivanen. He is 3-2 wince those two wins with a Submission of the Night win over Colton Smith and a Fight of the Night loss to Joe Lauzon. In his last fight, he won a decision over Mitch Clarke at UFC Fight Night 63. Chiesa is also a grappler with 2.81 Takedowns per 15 min. and 1.2 Submission Attempts per 15 min.


Rose Namajunas vs. Paige VanZant

In the main event is the first time a non-title Women’s Strawweight fight has headlined a card, and no one is better for the task than Rose Namajunas (3-2; 1-1) and Paige VanZant (6-1; 3-0). The original fight was expected to be VanZant against Joanne Calderwood. When Calderwood pulled out, Namajunas stepped in.

Namajunas was the runner-up in The Ultimate Fighter Season 20. ‘Thug Rose’ was spectacular on the show with three straight submission wins over Alex Chambers, Joanne Calderwood and Randa Markos. The finale was a title fight with former Invicta champion Carla Esparza who also impressed on the show. Namajunas looked good in the fight but ultimately was submitted in the fourth round. She was expected to face Nina Ansaroff at UFC 187, but Ansaroff pulled out hours before the fight after missing weight by four pounds. She got back in there at UFC 192 with a first round submission over Angela Hill. The keyword in this is submission as Namajunas has won all of her fights by submission including a flying-Armbar at Invicta 5.

VanZant is a winner of four straight, three in the UFC. She has impressed with her cardio and all-around game. She has wins over Kailin Curran (Fight of the Night), Felice Herrig and Alex Chambers. VanZant has shown impressive stats lately with her 5.16 SLpM, 60% Striking Accuracy, 3.08 Takedowns per 15 min. and 1.5 Submission Attempts per 15 min.



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UFC Announces Liverpool Event, Darren Till Main Event



Scousers are drowning in celebration this evening. Earlier today, UFC officials announced the addition of a Liverpool show to their 2018 event calendar. Liverpool’s, Echo Arena, plays host for the event, which takes place on May 27th.

GDANSK, POLAND – OCTOBER 21: (R-L) Darren Till of England punches Donald Cerrone in their welterweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event inside Ergo Arena on October 21, 2017 in Gdansk, Poland. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Liverpool’s own, Darren Till made the announcement this afternoon with Dan Hardy at the UFC Fight Night: Werdum vs. Volkov, ceremonial weigh-in. When asked by Hardy what it means to have the UFC in Liverpool, he had this to day, “Words can’t describe it. It doesn’t do it justice, words. So, it’s coming and I’m going to be the first Scousers to ever have done it. In 200 years they’re going to remember my name in combat sports in Liverpool. I’m gonna take someones chin off in Liverpool, that’s what’s happening”.

He was also quoted in an release from the promotion saying, “I can’t believe UFC is finally coming to Liverpool and I’m going to be headlining Echo Arena. My name is going to be remembered in 200 years time for being part of this historical event and I can’t even describe how much that means to me”. Till will headline the card, his opponent is yet to be announced.

In the official release, it quotes David Shaw, Senior Vice President International and Content, claiming, “The stars really aligned for the Octagon to touch down in Liverpool. We have seen such phenomenal demand from fans in the region for a live event. Pair that with having such a rising, local star in Darren Till it made absolute sense to bring our first live event to this historical combat sports city in 2018”.

UFC Liverpool lands on a date speculated for a different venue, in a different country. Reports swirled last month, specifically one from, which claimed the May 27th date belonged to the UFCs return to Dublin. A return to Dublin doesn’t seem to fall completely out of the realm of possibility. For now, it remains to be seen.

The UFC also announced two bouts, both in the Middleweight division, booked for the event. Elias Therodorou takes on Trevor Smith, and Daniel Kelly goes up against England’s Tom Breese.

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Marco Reyes Flagged for Potential Anti-Doping Policy Violation



Earlier today, UFC officials announced that Lightweight, Marco Reyes was flagged for a potential UFC Anti-Doping Policy violation. The potential violation hails from a sample collected on March 8th, 2018, in an out-of-competition test.

Reyes made his way into the UFC through The Ultimate Fighter Latin America, season 2. Competing in the lightweight bracket, Reyes defeated Christhian Soto by 2nd rd. TKO of a preliminary round bout. He then went onto to face Horacio Gutiérrez, in the semifinals of the tournament. Gutiérrez defeated Reyes in the opening round by TKO.

Following his elimination from the tournament, the Mexican fighter met Cezar Arzamendia on the series finale, The Ultimate Fighter Latin America 2 Finale. Reyes impressively defeated Arzamendia, whom was the first overall pick for Team Gastelum, by 1st round KO.

From there, Reyes defeated Dong Hung Kim (rd. 1, KO), and Jason Novelli (Split Decision) respectively, before falling to rising contender James Vick. Most recently, the Lightweight fighter dispatched Matt Frevola in the opening round, ruining the Long Islanders promotional debut. His bout against Frevola took place at UFC Fight Night: Stephens vs. Choi, on January 14th of this year.

The UFC statement on the matter reads as follows:

The UFC organization was notified today that the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) has informed Marco Reyes of a potential Anti-Doping Policy violation stemming from an out-of-competition sample collected on March 8, 2018.
USADA, the independent administrator of the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, will handle the results management and appropriate adjudication of this case involving Reyes. Under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, there is a full and fair legal process that is afforded to all athletes before any sanctions are imposed. Additional information will be provided at the appropriate time as the process moves forward.
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Dillon Danis to make Pro debut against Kyle Walker at Bellator 198



Mixed Martial Arts officially adopted another incredibly talented jiu-jitsu practioner today. Bellator officials announced today the long-awaited debut of Dillon Danis, whom the promotion had signed in the year previous. After zero amateur and countless jiu-jitsu matches, Danis makes his debut at Bellator 198: Mir vs. Emelianenko, against Kyle Walker.

Kyle Walker enters the match up also making his Bellator debut. Walker recently made a resurgence in 2016 after taking off, almost exactly, 3 years. Since returning to the professional scene his record is 0-3, losing each fight by stoppage (2 Sub, 1 KO).

Walker looks to snap his streak yet, his opponent could provide a major challenge. In terms of advantages for Walker, he has a massive and obvious one. His experience. Walkers opponent fights for the first time in the sport of MMA. While Danis competed in many top-level jiu-jitsu tournaments and matches, comparing the competition would stop and end upon examining the rule sets. It is quite obvious, the difference. Danis will have a bit of adversity to overcome, in that respect.

In spite of this, Danis’ team, he trains out of the highly regarded SBG Ireland. Even before his MMA training, he trained under Marcelo Garcia. He earned his black belt in April of 2015, following an incredible 2014. In that year, Danis became UAEJJF World Champion, winning gold in the 82 kg (181 lb.) Brown belt category.

The prospect of what that could look like inside the cage is exciting. He may have developed some striking techniques but, the lack of time dedicated to that training in undeniable. Experience and time is required to develop skills of any kind.

Bellator 198: Mir vs. Emelianenko, takes place on Saturday, April 28th from the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Illinois. Bellator 198 features the third of four preliminary bouts in the promotions Heavyweight Grand Prix, Fedor Emelianenko takes on Frank Mir. It serves as the nights main event. Other bouts on the card feature; Emmanuel Sanchez against Sam Sicilia, Neiman Gracie faces Javier Torres, Rafael Lavato Jr. vs. John Salter, and more.

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