Fight fans were able to take a step back from the UFC after four events in seven days with a week and a half off. But the busiest month in UFC history goes on with its fifth event, this one LIVE and FREE on Fox, the 20th installment on the nationally televised station. Last year, this event was being headlined by a Bantamweight title bout. This year, it’s a different type of Bantamweight bout as former champion Holly Holm takes on European prospect Valentina Shevchenko and Edson Barboza welcomes Giblert (does r/mma read my articles?) Melendez at Lightweight.
Main Card- Fox (8 PM EDT, 5 PM PDT, 1 AM BST)
- Women’s Bantamweight- Holly Holm vs. Valentina Shevchenko
- Lightweight- Edson Barboza vs. Gilbert Melendez
- Heavyweight- Francis Ngannou vs. Bojan Mihajlović
- Women’s Strawweight- Felice Herrig vs. Kailin Curran
Preliminary Card- Fox (6 PM EDT, 3 PM PDT, 11 PM BST)
- Bantamweight- Frankie Saenz vs. Eddie Wineland
- Featherweight- Darren Elkins vs. Godofredo Pepey
- Welterweight- Kamaru Usman vs. Alexander Yakovlev
- Lightweight- Michel Prazeres vs. J.C. Cottrel
Early Preliminary Card- UFC Fight Pass (4 PM EDT, 1 PM PDT, 9 PM BST)
- Welterweight- Alex Oliveira vs. James Moontasri
- Welterweight- Hector Urbina vs. George Sullivan
- Featherweight- Jim Alers vs. Jason Knight
- Heavyweight- Luis Henrique vs. Dmitry Smolyakov
Frankie Saenz vs. Eddie Wineland
This scintillating Bantamweight bout between Frankie Saenz (11-3 MMA; 3-1 UFC) and Eddie Wineland (21-11-1; 3-5) is the featured prelim bout joining the likes of Michael McDonald, Brandon Thatch, Michael Chiesa, Demian Maia, and Cat Zingano to be the featured prelim bout.
Saenz won four straight bouts, all title fights, to get into the UFC when he faced Nolan Ticman at UFC Fight Night 47. He continued his hot streak with three wins in a row at Bantamweight against Ticman, Iuri Alcantara, and Sirwan Kakai. He got a huge step up in competition as he faced top Bantamweight Urijah Faber as the featured prelim bout at UFC 194. A hard fought battle saw Saenz lose his first fight in over three years as the former WEC champion Faber out did him in every aspect of the fight game. The Arizona native has relied on heavy pressure on top and striking from a distance in the UFC with 2.25 Takedowns per 15 min. and 4.28 Significant Strikes Landed per Minute (SLpM). His downside is how often he gets hit as he’s absorbed 130 Significant Strikes over his last two fights.
Wineland is the former WEC champion when he beat Antonio Banuelos for the inaugural Bantamweight title. His reign was short lived as Chase Beebe took the title in his first defense. After ending his WEC time with four straight wins, Wineland was given Urijah Faber in what would end up being a title-eliminator bout at UFC 128. He was handled easily as ‘The California Kid’ controlled the fight. He put together two wins in a row over Scott Jorgensen and
Brad Pickett to earn an Interim-title bout against Renan Barao at UFC 165. He was the butt of one of the best knockouts in history as Barao hit him with a spinning back kick to the head. That has started a plunge of losing three of his last four to Barao, Johnny Eduardo, and Bryan Caraway. Caraway is tenth all-time in the division for Striking Defense with 62.7% over his UFC career.
Edson Barboza vs. Gilbert Melendez
The co-main event is a competitive Lightweight bout between top ten guys in Edson Barboza (17-4; 11-4) and Gilbert Melendez (22-5; 1-3).
Barboza is coming off the biggest win of his career against Anthony Pettis at UFC 197. The fight was competitive, but the size of Barboza was the ending factor. After starting out his career with 10 straight wins, he ran into former Strikeforce champion Jamie Varner at UFC 146. He lost the fight by TKO for the first loss of his career. Another three fight win streak was halted by Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone as he lost by Submission. He’s 4-2 in his last six with wins over Evan Dunham, Bobby Green, Paul Felder, and then Pettis most recently. Barboza is tied for tops in the active division with 8 Knockdowns tied with Cerrone and Michael Johnson.
Melendez is the former Strikeforce Lightweight champion with four title defenses running right into the UFC. 7 straight wins gave way to an automatic title shot upon joining the UFC against then-champion Benson Henderson on Fox. The fight was as close as it could be with Melendez losing by Split-decision. He came back with one of the best fights of all-time as he beat Diego Sanchez by decision at UFC 166. Another chance at the title eluded him as he was finished by Anthony Pettis at UFC 181. He last fought at UFC 188 when he lost another split-decision to now champion Eddie Alvarez. He was suspended after his post-fight drug test came up positive and he was suspended for 12 months. ‘El Niño’ has decreased output (3.28 SLpM, down from 3.66) and increased his striking absorption (2.76 SApM, up from 2.11 SApM).
Holly Holm vs. Valentina Shevchenko
The main event is just the second non-title women’s bout to headline an event, the first to do so on Fox. This honor goes to former champion Holly Holm (10-1; 3-1) and Valentina Shevchenko (12-2; 1-1). The first was a Strawweight bout between Rose Namajunas and Paige VanZant.
Holm was undefeated before her last fight at UFC 196 against Miesha Tate. She made her long-awaited UFC debut at UFC 184 in the co-main event as she won a struggling fight against Raquel Pennington. Her second fight was a much better approach as she handily beat Marion Reneau, out striking her 65 to 29. Her dominant performance earned her a shot at superstar champion Ronda Rousey in front of the biggest crowd ever for a UFC event. She shocked the world with a second round KO to take the belt. Her first defense was scheduled for UFC 196 against Miesha Tate. She was winning the fight when she got taken down and submitted in the fifth round by a Rear-Naked choke. Holm steps as one of the best strikers in the division with 3.46 SLpM, 67% Striking Defense and has only been taken down by Tate.
Shevchenko just made her UFC debut in December when she beat former Strikeforce champion Sarah Kaufman at UFC on Fox 17. She won the fight with her grappling despite being one of the most decorated strikers in the women’s divisions with a career 58-2-1 record as a kickboxer and 2-0 as a boxer. She gets a big step up in competition as she faced now Bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes at UFC 196. Despite being dominated in the first round and a half, the Russian made a bid at the end as she ended the fight on top of Nunes. She has yet to get her striking going in the UFC with just 60 Significant Strikes Landed in 30 minutes of cage time. Her grappling has picked up what her striking left behind as she has landed 5 takedowns in the UFC.
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.
Sensor Equipped Tracking Gloves to be Used at UFC 219
From implementing the likes of USADA, the UFC Performance Instiute and the introduction of the instant replay. The UFC has always prioritized being at the top of the sport science game.
Now, at UFC 219 on December 30th, the Nevada State Athletic Commission has approved a test run for sensor equipped tracking gloves to be worn by a selection of fighters on the card.
The technology behind the gloves comes from AGI International (an analytics company) along with HEED (a consumer platform company). A collaboration founded by the UFC.
After a sparring exhibition between top lightweights, Edson Barbosa (19-4-0) and Mark Diakiese (12-1-0), HEED co-founder Mati Kochavi had this to say regarding how “70 insights” collected from sensors on the gloves, the corner-men, the octagon itself can depict a clearer image of a fight.
“Those insights are covering entire aspects of the fight between Diakiese and Barbose. Their passion, power of the fight, resiliency and strategy. All happen in the octagon.“
Shouldn’t sport be told in real-time, with real data, information and emotions?”
He finally promises “We are a company which is trying to revolutionize the way we (broadcast) sports and live events”
As for now there is little to zero information into the technical aspects of the gloves, however products like a Fit Bit have similar abilities to give data on speed, force, motion, elevation, heart rate etc.
The UFC 219 card takes place on Decemebr 30th at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. It will be headlined by a women’s featherweight title fight between current champion Cris Cyborg (18-1) and former UFC bantamweight champion, Holly Holm (11-3).
Holly Holm vs Bethe Correia targeted for UFC: Singapore main event
After losing a closely contested inaugural UFC featherweight title fight, Holly Holm is set to return to the division where she became a champion in a headlining spot.
According to reports from MMAFighting.com, Holm is currently pencilled in to take on former title challenger Bethe Correia at UFC Fight Night 111 on June 17th. The women’s bantamweight bout is scheduled to be the showcase main event as the UFC makes only its second visit to Singapore.
Holm (10-3) is currently on a three-fight losing streak, the longest in her combat sporting history, and most recently fought in the main event of UFC 208. Before losing to Germain de Randamie in February of this year, ‘The Preacher’s Daughter’ had lost back-to-back fights to Valentina Shevchenko and Meisha Tate, the latter in Holm’s first women’s bantamweight title defence.
Correia (10-2-1) meanwhile, is currently undefeated in her last two fights, a split-decision victory over Jessica Eye and, more recently, a majority draw with Marion Reneau at UFC Fight Night: Fortaleza.
Both Holm and Correia have two common opponents throughout their careers in Raquel Pennington and Ronda Rousey but have recorded very different results against the pair. Where Holm has defeated both Pennington and, more famously, Rousey at UFC 193, Correia’s only career defeats have come against the two 135 pounders.
UFC Fight Night 111 will be held at the Singapore Indoor Stadium and currently has three other former Zuffa champions booked for the June event. Former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski is set to face Marcin Tybura while former UFC lightweight champion Rafael Dos Anjos will make his first foray to welterweight against the last Strikeforce welterweight champion Tarec Saffiedine.
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