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UFC Manila Fight Analysis

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De Los Reyes def. Sangcha-An via. rear naked choke round 2

After a brief break in the fight with the referee checking a cut on De Los Reyes, the fight was reset with Reyes in Sangcha-An’s guard. Reyes quickly postured up and rolled An backwards into a turtled up position giving Reyes back control.

A scramble occurred when Reyes attempted to get his hooks in, but Reyes was able to apply his hooks and simultaneously, with the help of the large amount of blood on both men, slip his arm under the chin of An. Reyes then transitioned to a body triangle and a palm to palm grip seemingly sealing An’s fate, but the Filipino wasn’t quite finished yet.

By some miracle An was able to escape the rear naked choke and body triangle, but Reyes immediately switched to a rear naked choke with the left arm this time and got the quick finish.

This was truly a great fight by both men and more than worthy of fight of the night honours, but it wasn’t the mot technical fight by either man. An would have seriously benefitted from trying to be a lot more savvy in this fight, using his long kicks to keep Reyes away and wear him out, rather than throwing hooks like they are going out of fashion and gas himself out early. When the fight went to the ground it was quite clear that Reyes had the advantage and the now worn out An had no real defense except sheer guts and determination, only prolonging the inevitable submission.

Ning def. Wee via KO round 2

This contest was a very good example of taking a man’s desire to fight because that is exactly what Ning did to Wee in order to get the finish.

The ending of this fight started with with both fighters very inactive apart from a partially blocked headkick by Ning. However, upon hearing the referee say ’10 seconds to go’ Ning’s fire was lit and he unloaded a huge left hook stunning Wee. Ning followed up with a straight to the body and a right hand upstairs dropping Wee forcing him to turtle up and the referee to step in.

This contest was fairly lacklustre following the initial flurry from Ning in round one, but arguably it was this very flurry in the opening minutes of the contest that ended Wee’s night. After recovering from the early onslaught, Wee seemingly did not want to fight whatsoever, with minimal output from then on and just concentrating on surviving. Ning was able to sense this and bided his time smartly, albeit rather dully, until he was the opening for the finish late in the second frame.

Li def. Lima via. KO round 1

Li searched for uppercut early in this fight, often faking with the jab and ducking down looking to come up with the big punch. Li used this uppercut threat to close the distance well on the rangier Lima forcing his back against the cage, giving Li the fight in the phone booth he wanted.

Against the cage, Lima was able to get off a good check hook that Li simply ate like a sandwich and fired straight back with hooks of his own, catching Lima and putting him on the floor.

A follow-up barrage of punches later and the fight was finished.

Lima played straight into Li’s game the entirety of this short contest, allowing Li to close distance well without any threat whatsoever. Lima should have stayed away from Li with kicks and punished him with quick level change takedowns whenever Li rushed in. Instead, Li was able to walk Lima down and when he had him trapped against the cage Li unloaded his power with hooks, with the likeliness at least one good one would land and it did, ending the fight.

Tuck def. Bang via. rear naked choke round 1

Tuck was very patient, but consistent in his striking in this match up, not throwing too often, but making sure the combos counted when he did.

The ending of this fight started with a counter right hook by Tuck dropping Bang after a short exchange. Tuck followed Bang to the floor landing punches from behind the turtled up Bang. As Bang started to get to his feet, Tuck jumped immediately on his back sinking in his hooks and trapping one of Bang’s arms with his leg. Tuck forced Bang faced down on the mat and sunk in the rear naked choke which Bang was simply unable to defend with one arm forcing the tap.

This was a great showing for Tuck, looking extremely confident and implementing his game plan to the letter, keeping Bang and his power at range and landing good solid combos. Tuck didn’t rush anything and took the openings as they came and got the first round finish.

Bang was simply out of his depth in this fight and was never able to get close enough to unleash his power, while Tuck put on a pretty much flawless performance, always keeping the next step in mind, showing all the markings of a great contender at 155lbs.

Magny def. Lim via KO round 2

This fight was a classic example of blowing your wad too early. After hurting Magny in the first round Lim tried to finish the fight throwing punches like they were going out of fashion to try and but Magny away. this was all in vain as Magny was able to recover and win the second half of the round.

As round 2 came out Lim was exhausted while Magny was still very fresh. Magny slowly worked his way past Lim’s punches and got the take down transitioning straight to mount easily.

Lim looked very amateur on his backed, with his only defense being attempts to buck Magny off his mount and rolling to his back. The latter of these gave Magny the win as he was able to ground and pound from back mount on the exhausted and flailing Lim giving him the KO finish.

Coming into this fight, Lim was so confident in his KO power he was willing to throw all in his energy into his punches, and while that may work when fighting the lower end of the UFC spectrum, it is a risky game plan against a 10 fight UFC vet like Magny. Magny showed championship level composure defending himself well and escaping Lim’s onslaught when the time was right. Magny rushed nothing in this contest and systematically broke down Lim for the stoppage win.

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Exclusive: Mike Ekundayo, “He could come with anything, I don’t care”

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In a little less than a week, Rise of Champions crowns its inaugural bantamweight champion. The crowning of the first 135 lb. champion marks the young promotions first champion. It makes sense why the promotion owned and operated by UK MMA star, Brad Pickett, and Team Titan head coach, Mickey Papas plan to crown the promotions first champion in the bantamweight division. Pickett competed in the division throughout his tenure with the WEC, and ultimately the entity which absorbed the light weight promotion, the UFC. Even more-so, two young and rising prospects of the division. One undefeated in his professional and amateur career, the other riding a seven consecutive victories, five by submission. The two meet February 17th, Mike Ekundayo puts his career unbeaten streak up against Jonas Magard’s at ROC 5, for the aforementioned, inaugural bantamweight championship.

Speaking to the undefeated Ekundayo before his fight, he believes this opportunity to be inevitable. Born in Hackney, (a borough of London) early in life, Ekundayo was no stranger to cramming his belongings into large cardboard boxes. At the age of 7, he moved from Hackney to Herne Hill, a district located in South London. Two years later he found himself in similar situation, moving from his vaguely new home in Herne Hill to Brixton. A road trip in the car to his new home, took approximately 5 minutes.

It is admittedly, not an easy life. In a harrowing article describing the horrors of gang life in London by the metro.uk, former gang member turned community activist, made the claim, “When you are from Brixton, from Peckham, west London, anywhere in London, you are seeing hardship where a lot of communities can’t reach their full potential”.

In his own words, Ekundayo describes his home as, “not the best start to have in your life. It’s not the best upbringing”. But that couldn’t matter any less for him. Not only does the London resident consistently work to grow his potential, he gets to see it every day. His coaches Brad Pickett and Mickey Papas hold the knowledge as well as first-hand experience, increasing his limits with every session. “We’re all close”, speaking of his coaches and team. “My head coach is Mickey Papas, he’s very knowable in the game. He’s been around for a very long time. He teaches me a lot, I can learn a lot of stuff from Mickey Papas. Sometimes I just think, how does he know all of this? Where did he get this information from?”

He continued, “While I was coming up through amateur, Brad (Pickett) was still an active fighter, but nowadays he’s taken a coaching approach. So he’s coaching us prospects getting us to where he got to and further… He’s been through it all, gotten to the top, and stayed at the top”.

Further discussing his coach, “For UK MMA, you could definitely call Brad a legend. He’s done a lot in his career, and someone who I rate highly as an MMA fighter is Demetrious Johnson, and of course Brad has got a win over (him). I feel like just being surrounded by someone like Brad, you’re working towards the right things. When he passes information onto you, you respect it that bit more because of far he got in his career. He’s definitely given me the right guidance, I trust his guidance”.

When it comes to the upcoming title fight, confidence poured out from where praise and respect had once been. “I just think it’s my time, to be honest. I really do believe it’s my time for all of this. The work I put in, certain things become inevitable”, he said. “I actually called this after I won my third fight, I called for belts and big shows. I spoke it to existence”. He continued, “It’s my time to finally to get a strap of some sort. All the straps is what we’re going for, all of them. We’re going for every one”.

“Rise of Champions is my show… That’s how I feel when I’m performing on ROC, it’s just my show, it’s my time to shine. Everyone knows who there here to see, there not really there to see the other guys. It’s my time, it’s my show and I’m going to put on a show on February 17th and I’m going to win that belt”.

The infectious nature of his positive attitude was palpable. Although we only spoke through small rectangular devices, I could feel his energy in the room. His attitude shined brightest when talking about what it would mean to be the first ever ROC Bantamweight champion. Ekundayo claimed, “It just means a lot to have my first belt in anything to be honest… Within myself, I call myself a champion, every day. But now, other people would have to call me a champion because I’ve got a belt… And one thing I really want to do is, which sounds a bit weird, I just want to take the belt home to my area, to Brixton.”

“I just want to take it to my area, and just show the people of that area what hard work can achieve… I want to just take it to my people and show them that not for nothing, we are from Brixton, it’s not the best start to have in your life. It’s not the best upbringing but you can rise above it and you can achieve your goals and that’s what the belt will mean”.

When the conversation shifted to the topic of his opponent, Ekundayo had less encouraging words rolling off his tongue. Jonas Magard, the second half of the ROC 5 main event, holds a record of 7-4. Currently he owns a seven fight win streak after starting his career 1-3. Ekundayo thought, “He did fight quite decent guys in his three loses… but in the seven fight win streak, none of his opponents have been of caliber”.

He elaborated further, “What’s in my thoughts is more me, then it is of him. So, he could come with anything, I don’t care. I’m just focused on how I’m going to be picture perfect. How I’m going to paint a masterpiece, how I’m going to make it a beautifully perfect performance. That’s what my primary focus is on, so what he does to me is irrelevant, I’m just going to focus on how I’m going to be perfect on the night of February 17th”.

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Announcement

UFC 222 Re-Worked with Cris Cyborg vs. Yana Kunitskaya, and Frankie Edgar vs. Brian Ortega

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UFC 222 has been saved, and it didn’t take a superhero to lift the burning boulder which was Max Holloway’s injury and withdrawal. All it took was a female named Cyborg and a man with a demeanor so smooth, he could be mistaken for an alter-ego. Cris Cyborg now serves as the UFC 222 main event when she defends her featherweight belt against Yana Kunitskaya. Frankie Edgar bumped down to the co-main event to face Brian Ortega in what is likely a title eliminator. The news of the UFC 222 revival originally stemmed from a report by MMAFighting.com and confirmed later in the evening by the UFC.

Over the course of the week, reports surrounded the Las Vegas card and whether it would survive. Multiple options were reportedly being mulled over; cancelling the card outright, changing the pay-per-view (PPV) to a ‘Fight Night’ with an Edgar vs. Ortega main event, Dillashaw vs. Garbrandt 2 main event, among others. Ultimately, the promotion landed on Cyborg vs. Kunitskaya as the new main event, while also booking Brian Ortega.

This adjustment of the card places their women’s Featherweight champion in the second PPV main event in three months. Cris Cyborg recently put her undisputed Featherweight title on the line against Holly Holm at the year ending card, UFC 219. She successfully defended her belt by unanimous decision, in what was an amazing technical display from the Brazilian. In her octagon career, Cyborg is undefeated in her four appearances with three KO/TKO stoppages.

The second half of the new main event, Yana Kunitskaya, makes her UFC debut against the scariest women on the roster. If the 145 lb. champion was not enough of a challenge, Kunitskaya also makes her first appearance in the division since defeating Cindy Dandois in December of 2010. Of Russia descent, her most recent performances came inside the Invicta FC cage. At the female-only promotion, she posted a record of 1-1, with 1 No Contest. Her loss and no contest, both came at the hands of former UFC Featherweight title challenger, Tonya Evinger.

Turning to the co-main event, both fighters have been relatively inactive but, for good reason. Brian Ortega amazingly forced perennial men’s Featherweight contender, Cub Swanson, to tap in the second round of their ‘Fight Night: Fresno’ contest. Ortega fought twice in 2017, but more-so stayed inactive following his stoppage victory over Swanson. The Californian contender announced his desire to wait in line for the next title shot following the recent victory.

For Frankie Edgar, his last fight took place at UFC 211 when he absolutely demolished young and rising star, Yair Rodriguez. A card which took place last May. While Ortega holds an undefeated record, Edgar is undefeated in his previous 9 fights, excluding people named Jose Aldo.

UFC 222 takes place at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada on March 3rd.

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Announcement

UFC Middleweight Champion, Robert Whittaker Announces Birth of Third Child

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Times seem dull and dreary for the UFC’s Middleweight Champion, Robert Whittaker. The New Zealand born fighter withdrew from the promotions event debut in the eastern region of his residence, Australia. UFC 221, which takes place this Saturday, booked Whittaker to defend his title for the first time against former division champion, Luke Rockhold. His withdrawal was due to mistreatment of a serious staph infection inside of the Australians stomach.

It couldn’t get much worse, having to disappoint fans, and missing the first UFC event in eastern Australia. As it turns out, it could not get worse for Whittaker. Life only got better, as he had the pleasure of announcing the birth of his third child.

His new child is the champions third and first girl. Information regarding his child is limited as this moment is a tender and special time for the Whittaker family.

UFC 221 takes place in Perth, Australia at Perth Arena on February 11th. The cards main event features Whittakers short notice replacement, Yoel Romero taking on Luke Rockhold. Much to the satiety of fans, an interim belt is not in the equation in this instance.

Thank God. Excuse me, thank Dana White.

UFC 221 also features the ‘Super Samoan’ Mark Hunt vs. Curtis Blaydes, Tai Tuivasa faces Cyril Asker, Alexander Volkanovski vs. Jeremy Kennedy and more.

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