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UFC London Main Event set, Fabricio Werdum vs. Alexander Volkov

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London’s main event is finally here. No, it is not Michael Bisping. Nope, not Gunnar Nelson and Darren Till. UFC Fight Night London gets a Heavyweight clash booked to the main event, Fabricio Werdum takes on Alexander Volkov. The UFC Europe twitter account made the news official in the earlier in the afternoon.

A booking of this magnitude, normally, is a titillating sight. Yet, considering the two heaviest weight divisions in the UFC are now embroiled in the newest season of The Ultimate Fighter, it seems both division titles are on ice. The good news, at least there is a clear picture of when both divisions will thaw out (UFC 226).

In the immediate aftermath of the UFC 226 main event, it is hard not to feel for Fabricio Werdum. It seems, no matter the outcome of this fight, Werdum holds limited options for his future. A win cements his place as the #1 contender and next deserving receipt of a title shot, but, when?

He must wait for the completion of The Ultimate Fighter and UFC 226. While those will coincide with each other, UFC London takes place on March 17th, UFC 226 is on July 7th. Four months separate the two events but, Werdum can’t fight for the title in four months and one day.

His opponent, Alexander Volkov, has a lot to gain. The Russian is undefeated in three octagon appearances. His victories over Timothy Johnson and Roy Nelson came by decision (Johnson split, Nelson unanimous). Most recently, Volkov defeated Stefan Struve by TKO at UFC Fight Night 115: Volkov vs. Struve. At 6’7, he defeated the only man taller than him on the roster in that appearance.

A win for Volkov could bolster his status as a new title contender. With the current state of the Heavyweight division, a win could yield Volkov the next title shot. A problem with that notion is the current match-making formula. The same justifications which lead to Cormier vs. Miocic, could not create Heavyweight champion vs. Alexander Volkov, or it just seems unlikely. Volkov is an excellent fighter and new contenders are clearly needed in his division but, his social media following is low. And these days, being an excellent fighter does not seem to be enough.

UFC Fight Night: Werdum vs. Volkov takes place in London, England at the O2 arena on March 17th.  Also featured on the card, Danny Roberts, Oliver Enkamp, Jimi Manuwa, Jan Blachowicz, Alex Reyes, Nasrat Haqparast and more.

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Fight Announcements

Jacare Souza vs. Kelvin Gastelum Official for UFC 224

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Brazils second UFC event of the new year added another middleweight contest. UFC officials announced, Kelvin Gastelum will face Jacare Souza in Rio de Janeiro at UFC 224.

The inevitable main card booking of Souza comes after headlining UFC on Fox 27. The Brazilian fighter is 3-2 in his last 5. His recent contests only look worrisome in comparison to the entirety of his long career. Prior to his past 5, Souza held an eight fight win streak. In that period of time, he defeated Gegard Mousasi, Derek Brunson (for the first time), and Chris Camozzi twice. Despite the drama words and numbers on screens create, his recent record is nothing to have concern over. A split decision loss to Yoel Romero in 2015, and a 2017 TKO loss to division champion, Robert Whittaker is manageable. Defeating Derek Brunson in the opening round of their main event bout kept him deep in the milky opaque froth that is the middleweight title picture. Clearly his position in that photo lies upon the upcoming match up.

Looking ahead for Jacare Souza, assuming he wins, becomes interesting, just as it devastating for Kelvin Gastelum. Gastelum is 3-1 since returning to middleweight, technically his record sits at 2-1 and 1 No Contest. He tested positive for marijuana in a sample collected the night of his bout against Vitor Belfort by USADA in March of 2017. Originally, the outcome of the bout read the way viewers remembered it; a 1st rd. TKO in favor of Gastelum. On May 7th, 2017, the win was officially overturned and changed to a No Contest. He also received a 90 day suspension, adjusted to the day of the failed test (March 11th).

In the aftermath of the failed test, his scheduled contest against Anderson Silva. He then split his next two contests, losing to Chris Weidman and defeating Michael Bisping emphatically, yet under odd circumstances. A win for Gastelum certainly muddies the waters of middleweight contenders, while adding to a good 185 lb. resume.

UFC 224 takes place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on May 12th, 2018 at the Jeunesse Arena. A battle betwen Brazilians is set for the date as Lyoto Machida takes on Vitor Belfort. Other featured bouts include; Aleksei Oleynik vs. Junior Albini*, Cezar Ferreira vs. Karl Roberson*, Alberto Mina vs. Ramazan Emeev, and Davi Ramos vs. Nick Hein*.

*Bouts reportedly set for UFC 224

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Dhiego Lima vs. Yushin Okami added to Glendale, Arizona card

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Fights, fights, fights, the world-wide leader in MMA added another fan-friendly bout to the already exciting ‘Fight Night: Glendale’ card. Two time ‘Ultimate Fighter’ finalist, Dhiego Lima takes on veteran Yushin Okami. Lima took to Instagram earlier today to announce the news.

Four days after adding an important Heavyweight clash to UFC Glendale, the promotion booked another crucial bout, in the Welterweight division. While, neither fighter ranks inside the top 15 of the Welterweight division, both sit at pivotal points in their career. In the case of Lima, he comes off a second appearance on the reality series, The Ultimate Fighter. Much like his first appearance, the Welterweight made the competition finals.

Lima first appeared on the reality series during Season 19: Team Edgar vs. Team Penn. In the preliminary round, he defeated Adam Stroup via unanimous decision (2 rounds), to earn a place in the house. From there, he submitted both his quarter-final and semi-final opponents. Lima left the Ultimate Fighter house undefeated, down the line, he did a similar thing on the 25th season of the show. He defeated Hayder Hassan, Gilbert Smith, and Tom Gallicchio, all by unanimous decision leaving the house undefeated for a second time.

Unfortunately, the inverse of his performances in the ‘TUF’ house came to fruition in the finals. In two Ultimate Fighter Finale’s, his record fell to 0-2, following Ultimate Fighter Finale Season 25. What happened to be even more unfortunate, Lima’s opponent at, The Ultimate Fighter Finale Season 25, Jesse Taylor, tested positive for the anti-estrogen agent clomiphene. The sample collected for the failed drug test was in an out-of-competition setting, therefor Lima’s loss to Taylor stands. The loss puts his record with the UFC at, 1-4.

A loss shouldn’t place Lima near the chopping block but, a win would greatly improve his standing with the promotion. The other half of the newly announced bout, is in a similar position.

Yushin Okami made his first appearance for the promotion at UFC 62. Okami earned the victory in his debut. The win marked his third consecutive win in the midst of a six fight win-streak. Over the course of those six victories, Okami defeated Alan Belcher (UFC 62), Kalib Starnes (UFC 64), Rory Singer (UFC 66), and Mike Swick (UFC 69). The Japanese born mixed martial artist remained on the roster for seven more years before being cut following a first round TKO loss to Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza.

Okami fought for various organizations following his release, while also dropping down to Welterweight. When, in the latter part of 2017, he was called upon as a short-notice injury replacement by the UFC. Seven days before UFC Fight Night 117: St. Preux vs. Rua, one half of the main event, Maurico Rua, withdrew due to an apparent knee injury. Okami answered the call, giving him seven days to prepare for rising Light Heavyweight contender, Ovince St. Preux. The Japanese native lost the contest by submission in the opening round.

UFC Fight Night Glendale takes place in Glendale Arizona at the Gila River Arena on April 14th. The main event features Justin Gaethje vs. Dustin Poirer.

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Aspen Ladd, Leslie Smith head trio of Fights Announced for UFC Atlantic City

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The UFC shall return to the east coast, bringing fights to Atlantic City, New Jersey. It is the first trip to the east coast city of sin since July of 2016. With the announcement, paired a trio of fights, featuring Aspen Ladd vs. Leslie Smith. The UFC made the announcement during the broadcast of Saturdays UFC Fight Night: Machida vs. Anders.

Alongside the high stakes booking of Ladd vs. Smith, the promotion announced two additional fights for the New Jersey event. New York-native Merab Divalishvili against Augusto Mendes in the men’s bantamweight division, and Magomed Bibulatov takes on Ulka Sasaki in the flyweight division.

UFC Atlantic City takes place on April 21st, broadcast on FS1. Boardwalk Hall hosts, as the venue of the event. The venue holds a bit of UFC history in its walls. Boardwalk Hall hosted three UFC events, the first of which in 2003, when the venue hosted UFC 41. Taking fans back to the days when events were ‘originally’ named, UFC 41: Onslaught hosted the likes of Matt Serra, Yves Edwards, Din Thomas, and Rich Clementi,  on the undercard. UFC 41’s main card featured Frank Mir vs. Tank Abbott, Caolo Uno against BJ Penn, Matt Lindland vs. Phil Baroni, and Tim Sylvia defeated Ricco Rodriguez for the Heavyweight title in the main event. Boardwalk Hall also hosted UFC 50: The War of ’04, and UFC 53: Heavy Hitters.

According to a report from MMA DNA and confirmation by MMAFighting.com, Siyar Bahadurzada meets Luan Chagas at UFC Atlantic City as well. The bout takes place in the Welterweight division. Chagas and Bahadurzada both ride wins into the match-up. Chagas victorious in his previous match up against Jim Walhead at UFC 212, looks to make consecutive victories in New Jersey. On the other end, Bahadurzada holds a two fight win streak. With a 3-2 UFC record, the Afghani looks to continue to move up the ranks in an extraordinarily deep UFC Welterweight division.

The promotion also announced during the broadcast, UFC Fight Night: Utica, New York. Utica, New York is a new city for the UFC, never having held an event there. UFC Fight Night: Utica takes place on Friday, June 1st at the Adirondack Bank Center.

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