Four Heavyweight fights ended the night for the UFC’s first event in Zagreb. The fifth straight sell out on European soil shows the UFC that these trips over large waters are worth it. Back in the U.S., FOX gets another big card, this time in Tampa, Florida. The last time the UFC made it to Tampa we saw the super fight between then Welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre and then Lightweight champion BJ Penn at UFC 94. This time through, the Light Heavyweights take charge with a top 10 match up along with 12 other ranked fighters, including two other top 10 bouts.
Early Prelims- UFC Fight Pass (4 PM EDT, 1 PM PDT, 9 PM GMT)
Welterweight: Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos vs. Omari Akhmedov
Middleweight: Cezar Ferreira vs. Oluwale Bamgbose
Lightweight: Drew Dober vs. Islam Makhachev
Welterweight: Randy Brown vs. Michael Graves
Bantamweight: John Dodson vs. Manny Gamburyan
Preliminary Card- FOX (6 PM EDT, 3 PM PDT, 11 PM GMT)
Featherweight: Cub Swanson vs. Hacran Dias
Welterweight: Court McGee vs. Santiago Ponzinibbio
Women’s Bantamweight: Bethe Correia vs. Raquel Pennington
Lightweight: Beneil Dariush vs. Michael Chiesa
Main Card- FOX (8 PM EDT, 5 PM PDT, 1 AM GMT)
Women’s Strawweight: Rose Namajunas vs. Tecia Torres
Catchweight (160 lbs.): Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Darrell Horcher
Middleweight: Lyoto Machida vs. Dan Henderson
Light Heavyweight: Glover Teixeira vs. Rashad Evans
Rose Namajunas vs. Tecia Torres
The main card starts with a top ten match up in the Strawweight division as former title challenger Rose Namajunas (4-2 MMA; 2-1 UFC) and Tecia Torres (7-0; 3-0) take center stage. The two fought under the Invicta banner in 2013 with Torres the winner by Unanimous Decision.
Namajunas made her start on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 20 with most of the Strawweight fighter. She breezed through the competition with three submission wins in just over 13 minutes of fight time. She earned her spot on the finale with the inaugural title on the line against Carla Esparza. The title would go to Esparza after three rounds with a Rear-Naked choke. Namajunas has gone on to win her next two by submission, both Rear-Naked choke, with the latest against Paige VanZant coming in a five-round main event. ‘Thug’ Rose would dominate the fight from start to finish with two 10-8 rounds before ending it early with a submission victory. In that fight, she landed eight of ten takedowns and had four submission attempts.
Torres has impressed since TUF with three straight wins. Despite losing twice on the show, her fight in the finale showed what she could do with a dominant decision win over Angela Magana. Her next fight was in front of the Mexican crowd at UFC 188 with another dominant decision over Angela Hill. In her last fight, ‘Tiny Tornado’ got a late replacement opponent as Michelle Waterson had to drop out and she faced Jocelyn Jones-Lybarger. It was another dominant win as she outstruck her opponent 77 to 29 in Significant Strikes.
Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Darrell Horcher
In one of the strangest decisions in its history, the UFC has gone with promotional newcomer Darrell Horcher (13-1; 0-0) to face top contender Khabib Nurmagomedov (22-0; 6-0). Nurmagomedov was originally expected to face Tony Ferguson in the main event of the event before Ferguson pulled out due to illness.
Nurmagomedov is undefeated in 22 fights as a professional including a win over the current champion Rafael dos Anjos. A sambo fighter, Nurmagomedov is one of the best wrestlers in the UFC with 35 career takedowns, good for 7 all time in the Lightweight division. ‘The Eagle’ landed 23 takedowns in his fight with Abel Trujillo, the most in one fight all-time. He last fought over two years ago against dos Anjos with a decision win at UFC on Fox 11. He has had three fights scheduled since then, each time pulling out with an injury. He comes into the fight with 7.09 Takedowns per 15 min and 69% Striking Defense.
Horcher will be making his UFC debut. The former Bellator fighter is 13-1 in his career with the lone loss coming to Phillipe Nover at Bellator 95. He last fought for Cage Fury Fighting Championship where he won the Lightweight belt and defended it with TKO wins. Of his 13 career wins, 8 have come by stoppage. This will undoubtedly be the toughest test for the 28-year-old American.
Lyoto Machida vs. Dan Henderson
This time at Middleweight, Lyoto Machida (22-7; 14-7) and Dan Henderson (31-14; 8-8) rematch their UFC 157 bout that was at Light Heavyweight. Machida was the victor by Split-decision in their first bout.
Machida is the former Light Heavyweight champion. He beat Rashad Evans at UFC 98 by KO for the title. After defending the belt, he would lose to Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua. After starting his career with 16 straight wins, he is 6-7 in his last 13. After looking great at Middleweight, Machida has lost his last two by devastating fashion against now champion Luke Rockhold and Yoel Romero. ‘The Dragon’ is third all-time with 13 Knockdowns in his UFC career behind Anderson Silva and Chuck Liddell.
Henderson is the former Pride Middleweight and Welterweight and Strikeforce Light Heavyweight champion. Upon returning to the UFC with two Pride belts, he had two championship fights awaiting him. He fought Anderson Silva and Rampage Jackson back-to-back, losing both fights and his belts. Since coming back to the UFC for a third stint after his Strikeforce days, ‘Hendo’ has gone 3-6 with the last four losses coming by stoppage. The patented H-Bomb hasn’t landed since his KO win over Tim Boetsch at UFC New Orleans in the main event, but it’s always a threat. Henderson is a legend of the sport with wins over Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Renzo Gracie, Ryo Chonan, Vitor Belfort, Wanderlei Silva, Fedor and Shogun Rua.
Glover Teixeira vs. Rashad Evans
The new main event is a Light Heavyweight bout between top ten contenders Glover Teixeira (24-4; 7-2) and Rashad Evans (19-4-1; 14-4-1). The original fight was expected to be Evans against former champion Shogun Rua. Rua suffered a small injury and was replaced by Teixeira and moved to UFC 198.
Teixeira is a former title challenger to Jon Jones. After starting his career with 17 of 19 wins, he was signed to the UFC. He picked up five straight victories, four by stoppage, to earn his title shot. At UFC 172, he was dominated at his own short range game and beaten by decision by Jones. He would lose the follow up fight to Phil Davis at UFC 179, also by decision. His last two have ended by stoppage with a Rear-Naked choke over Ovince St. Preux and a TKO over Patrick Cummins. This will be his fourth main event since joining the UFC.
Evans is the former champion when he beat Forrest Griffin at UFC 92. He did not get to defend the title as he was beaten by Lyoto Machida at UFC 98 to lose the belt. He would get another chance at gold after earning four straight wins over Thiago Silva, Rampage Jackson, Tito Ortiz and Phil Davis. He would come up well short against Jon Jones at UFC 145 where he was dominated for five rounds. He is 2-2 since that fight with the wins coming over Dan Henderson and Chael Sonnen. In the history of the Light Heavyweight division, ‘Suga’ is tops in total fight time (4:00:55) and Takedowns (50).
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.”
UFC 219: Cyborg vs Holm recap
In yearly tradition , the UFC hosted a pay per view fight card at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas once again and for the second year in a row, the card was headlined by two females fighting for the title of the baddest woman on earth. Cristine Cyborg Santos was looking to defend her featherweight title for the first time since capturing the title last summer in a tko victory over Tonya Evinger. Her opponent would be Holly Holm, the woman who shot into stardom after knocking out Ronda Rousey to become the bantamweight champion in 2015 and was fighting for the featherweight title for the second time after being unsuccessful in a controversial loss to Germaine De Radamie in Brooklyn.
In the co main event, The UFC welcomed one of the most feared lightweights and beloved contender Khabib Nurmagomedov who returned to the cage after a year layoff after failing to make weight earlier this year in a title eliminator with Tony Ferguson . Welcoming Nurmagomedov to the cage was exciting Brazilian striker Edson Barboza who was on a 3 fight win streak after losing to interim lightweight champion Tony Ferguson in 2015. The winner would guarantee a title shot for themselves against either Tony Ferguson or the winner of the title unification fight between Conor McGregor and Tony Ferguson if it happens.
The rest of the card had other stories that intrigued the fans with the return of former UFC interim welterweight champion Carlos Condit taking on Neil Magny, Cynthia Carvillo looking to go 5-0 in 2017 with a win over Carla Esparza and an exciting lightweight fight between Marc Diakiese and Daniel Hooker.
The Main Event
UFC Women’s Featherweight championship
Christine ” Cyborg” Santos vs Holly ” The Preachers Daughter” Holm
When the UFC announced it’s intentions to start a featherweight division for females in the UFC, a fight between Cris Cyborg and Holly Holm was the most logical fight to start the division. It took almost a year to come into fruition but on Saturday night, we finally had the answer of who would be the most feared female fighter in the world.
The fight started off with Holm tripping Cyborg after a kick and started the clinch game for Holly , who overpowered Cyborg against the cage. A move that would slow down Cyborg’s attacks in the later rounds but this was not the case tonight. Cyborg, who was known as a devastating berserker like striker in her earlier has become a more patient striker under the guidance of Jason Parillo. Cyborg caught Holly with a variation of counter strikes throughout the fight which swelled Holm’s left eye. Holm had her moments in the fight and gave Cyborg her toughest fight to date.
As we moved into the later rounds, the counter strikes were landing more often for Cyborg and started to dictate to fight. The final bell rang and although many scores were thrown around on twitter all in favor for Cyborg. Cris Cyborg won a unanimous decision with one judge scoring the fight 49-46 which had Cyborg winning four rounds and the other two judges scoring the fight a lot closer 48-47.
What’s next for Cyborg? She asked for Meagan Anderson in Australia , the last Invicta featherweight champion who has yet to make her debut for UFC after signing last summer. With the card in 6 weeks, its unlikely she will get her wish but Cyborg vs Anderson should be next in the shallow and confusing 145 division for females.
The Co-main event
Khabib ” The Eagle ” Nurmagomedov vs Edson Barboza
A fight that in many people’s eyes was the true main event with fan favorite Khabib Nurmagomedov putting his unbeaten 24 fight win streak on the line against fellow top contender Edson Barboza.
What can you say about Nurmagomedov that hasn’t been said already. He was nothing short of perfection.
Implementing his game early, Nurmagomedov took the fight to the ground early in round 1 after failing on the first attempted takedown on Barboza. Once the takedown was secured, the Russian posture to his feet and landed devastating ground and pound on Barboza. It took a minute to see Barboza would be in for a rough night as by the sound of the bell ending for the first round, Barboza was bloodied up and looked defeated.
The second round was even more devastating when Khabib had Barboza on the ground for the entire round. The commentators in awe of Khabib’s abilities began to sound concerned that Barboza took too much damage as no matter who much punishment Nurmagomedov would deliver to Barboza, Barboza continued to be in the fight and looked for the knockout whenever the fight would go back to standing which ultimately ended in the brazilian being taken down again.
Barboza had a chance to end the fight in the third when he landed a head kick on Nurmagomedov who showed a granite chin and walked through the shot like T-1000.
The fight went to the judges and the judges scored the fight in favor of Khabib Nurmagomedov ( 30- 25, 30-25,30-4) which just highlights the one-sided victory for the Russian who moves to 25-0 and will likely take on Tony Ferguson next year.
The rest of the card
Although not the most exciting run of fights in the lead up to the main and co main. The main card hosted the return of Carlos Condit who after returning to the cage following a 16 month hiatus only to suffer a decision loss to an impressive Neil Magny who used his wrestling to take down the former champ on numerous occasions.
Speaking of former champs, former strawweight champion Carla Esparza scored a big win beating undefeated Cynthia Carvillo, who impressed in round 1 before Esparza turned the tides and finished the fight with a flurry of strikes to secure the victory.
Daniel Hooker used the ” McKenzietine” guillotine choke to submit the Brit Marc Diakiese in the third round after winning the first two rounds with his ground game. In what many anticipated to be a stand up war, the fight was quite the opposite and Hooker sinked in the choke after an attempted takedown by Diakiese.
We won’t be ringing in the new year celebrating the prelims this year as every fight on the FS1 portion of the card went to a decision.
Michal Oleksiejczuk got the biggest underdog win on the night upsetting Khalil Rountree Jr in a decision in which both fighters gassed early after Rountree held on the a guillotine which gassed the American when he failed to get the submission. The other decision victories went to Myles Jury looking impressive at featherweight against Rick Glenn and Matheus Nicolau who knocked down Louis Smolka three times in the first round to win a one-sided decision.
Omari Ahkmedov and Marvin Vettori went to a majority draw in what seemed like the longest fight in history and finally Tim Elliot scored a submission victory over Mark De La Rosa and dedicated the victory to the late great Robert Follis who sadly took his own life this month.
Overall UFC 219 wasn’t a great card but a masterclass by Khabib Nurmagomedov was worth every penny.
Invicta 27 Officially Announced
The all-women promotion, Invicta FC, returns to Kansas City, Missouri on January 13th, 2018 for Invicta 27. The promotion announced on their website, the promotions inaugural 2018 event will start the new year off with a fan-friendly main event, Sarah Kaufman (18-4 1 NC) vs. Pannie Kianzad (8-2).
Kaufman returns to Invicta FC after a three-year stint with the UFC. The Canadian athlete fought once prior, in the female-only promotion, defeating Leslie Smith via split decision. Both women earned Fight of the Night honors for their efforts. In her previous three bouts, Kaufman posted a record of 1-2. The former Strikeforce bantamweight champion lost her final two UFC bouts against Alexis Davis and Valentina Shevchenko. Her most recent bout was a victory over Jessica Rose-Clark, in the Battlefield FC promotion.
The veteran Kaufman made her debut in 2006, nearly six years before her opponent. Pannie Kianzad made her professional debut with the Estonian promotion MMA Raju, in 2012. Kianzad began her career undefeated in eight bouts. On the way, capturing the Cage Warriors bantamweight championship. The Iranian-Swede holds an identical record to Kaufman in her previous three bouts, 1-2. Currently, she finds herself on a two-loss skid.
In the co-main event, Vanessa Porto (19-8) faces Mariana Morais (12-5). The Brazilian, Morais, is coming off a disappointing title challenge in the flyweight division of the KSW promotion. Ariane Lipski submitted her in 58 seconds. Porto, however, is fresh off her Invicta 26, TKO victory over, Milana Dudieva.
Porto is an Invicta FC veteran, having fought in seven of the promotions twenty-six held events. Throughout her career, the veteran faced the best women the world had to offer. The thirty-three-year-old has fought the likes of Roxanne Modafferi (twice), Agnieszka Niedzwiedz, Barb Honchak, Tara LaRosa, Jennifer Maia (twice), Tonya Evinger, Germain De Randamie, Amanda Nunes, and Cris “Cyborg” Justino.
The first card of 2018 for Invicta holds a plethora of inexperienced women. Of the 17 women booked for the card, only four women hold ten or more professional fights on their record. Another four women will make their professional MMA debut: Loma Lookboonmee, Jade Ripley, Helen Peralta, and Akeela Al-Hameed. The Invicta 27, the card will feature nine bouts. The event will take place at the Scottish Rite Temple in Kansas City, Missouri on January 13th, 2018. The card will proceed as follows:
Pannie Kianzad (8-2) vs. Sarah Kaufman (18-4 1 NC) – Bantamweight Division
Vanessa Porto (19-8) vs. Mariana Morais (12-5) – Flyweight Division
Sharon Jacobson (4-2) vs. Ashely Nichols (3-1) – Strawweight Division
Ashley Cummings (5-4) vs. Stephanie Alba (3-2) – Atomweight Division
Brogan Walker-Sanchez (4-0) vs. TBA – Flyweight Division
Felicia Spencer (3-0) vs. Akeela Al-Hameed (0-0) – Featherweight Division
Mallory Martin (1-2) vs. Tiffany Masters (2-1) – Strawweight Division
Melissa Wang (1-0) vs. Loma Lookboonmee (0-0) – Atomweight Division
Jade Ripley (0-0) vs. Helen Peralta (0-0) – Strawweight Division
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