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.
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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