Early Prelims- UFC Fight Pass (3:30 EST, 12:30 PST, 8:30 GMT)
Heavyweight: Luiz Henrique vs. Francis Ngannou
Welterweight: Hayder Hassan vs. Vicente Luque
Welterweight: Leon Edwards vs. Kamaru Usman
Preliminary Card- Fox Sports 1 (5 PM EST, 2 PM PST, 10 PM GMT)
Featherweight: Cole Miller vs. Jim Alers
Lightweight: Nik Lentz vs. Danny Castillo
Middleweight: Josh Samman vs. Tamdan McCrory
Middleweight: C.B. Dolloway vs. Nate Marquardt
Featherweight: Charles Oliveira vs. Myles Jury
Main Card- FOX (8 PM EST, 5 PM PST, 1 AM GMT)
Women’s Strawweight: Randa Markos vs. Karolina Kowalkiewicz
Lightweight: Michael Johnson vs. Nate Diaz
Heavyweight: Junior dos Santos vs. Alistair Overeem
Lightweight: (c)Rafael dos Anjos vs. Donald Cerrone- for the UFC Lightweight Championship
The four main card fights are can’t miss. Here’s a preview for the four fights airing live and free on FOX:
Randa Markos vs. Karolina Kowalkiewicz
In a Women’s Strawweight battle, TUF 20 dark horse Randa Markos (5-2 MMA, 1-1 UFC)* and promotional newcomer Karolina Kowalkiewicz (7-0; 0-0) will start of the main card on FOX. This is just the second Strawweight fight to be on the main card of a FOX card.
Markos was a semi-finalist for season 20 of The Ultimate Fighter. She would get the upset of the season as she beat Tecia Torres by decision in the elimination round. She went on to beat Felice Herrig in the quarter final by inverted Armbar. Her loss would come to finalist Rose Namajunas by Kimura in the first round. After the show, she has a close Split-Decision, Fight of the Night loss to Jessica Penne and a decision win over Aisling Daly. Markos recently moved camps from Michigan Top Team to Tri-Star in Montreal in an effort to better her career and make strides towards being a champion.
Kowalkiewicz is widely considered a top 5 best Strawweight in the world. The former KSW standout signed with the UFC in the summer and almost immediately signed the fight with Markos. Kowalkiewicz has a TKO and 2 submission victories in her 7 career wins. The Polish standout has watched fellow countrywoman Joanna Jedrzejczyk surge through the division en route to being the champion.
Michael Johnson vs. Nate Diaz
Lightweights, Lightweight everywhere as Michael Johnson (16-9; 8-5) and Nate Diaz (17-10; 12-8) face off in a Lightweight battle.
Johnson has won four of his last five fights against stiff competition. He has wins over Joe Lauzon, Gleison Tibau, Melvin Guillard and Edson Barboza. His last fight was the co-main event of Fight Night 73 in Nashville. The fight looked to go his way the entire fight and he looked to be cruising to a decision win. After Bruce Buffer announced a Split-Decision win for his opponent Beneil Dariush, the entire crowd and Johnson couldn’t believe it. Johnson’s southpaw stance and effective striking is a strong advantage compared to Diaz.’The Menace’ will bring some impressive stats into the cage as he has 3.60 Significant Strikes Landed per Minute (SLpM)**, 63% Striking Defense and 81% Takedown Defense (TDD).
Diaz is a fan favorite every time he fights. We last saw the younger Diaz last December in a FOX card where he was leg kicked into another dimension by now Lightweight champ Rafael dos Anjos. Diaz has career wins over some top names like Melvin Guillard, Donald Cerrone, Jim Miller and Gray Maynard. Contract disputes have kept Nate out for awhile and we have only seen him fight twice in the past 25 months. Diaz owns the record for most Significant Strikes landed in a fight with 238 when he beat Cerrone at UFC 141. That is the only time he has eclipsed the 100 Significant Strike mark in his career. Diaz will land more strikes than Johnson (3.90 SLpM), but will also take one to give one (3.06 Significant Strikes Absorbed per Minute (SApM)).
Junior dos Santos vs. Alistair Overeem
The co-main event is a Heavyweight matchup almost four years in the making. Junior dos Santos (17-3; 11-2) and Alistair Overeem (39-14, 1 NC; 4-3) finally will fight. The bout was made once when dos Santos was the champion and after Overeem beat former Heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar at UFC 141. Overeem tested positive for PED’s and was thus removed from the fight. They were again scheduled at UFC 160 in a non-title fight, but Overeem pulled out due to injury.
Dos Santos is the former Heavyweight champion. After seven straight wins, five by TKO/KO, the Brazilian was set for a title shot in the first ever FOX even in November 2011. In just 64 seconds, dos Santos was the new Heavyweight champion over Cain Velasquez. After the fight with Overeem was scrapped, Frank Mir stepped in for a chance at Heavyweight gold at UFC 146. Dos Santos would make easy work as just over 3 minutes of the second round he defended the belt. He would lose the title at UFC 155 and get another shot at UFC 165 where he would lose again. He last fought at UFC on Fox 13 where he headlined against fellow contender Stipe Miocic. The fight went five hard rounds and dos Santos came out the victor by Split-Decision. JDS is one of the best strikers in Heavyweight history as he is tops with 12 knockdowns, 708 Significant Strikes Landed and third in Total Strikes Landed (804).
Overeem has fought a who’s who in both the Light Heavyweight and Heavyweight divisions. He has wins over Vitor Belfort, Igor Vovchanchyn, Gary Goodridge, Fabricio Werdum, Brock Lesnar and Frank Mir among many others. He made his UFC debut at UFC 141 as the headliner with Brock Lesnar. He would hit a body kick that dropped the former champ and earned Overeem a title shot. As stated above, he would test positive on a drug test and be suspended. It hasn’t looked good for ‘The Reem’ since then as he is 3-3 and has been finished in all three losses. In the UFC, Overeem comes in with 5.08 SLpM, 1.61 SApM and 74.5 Striking Accuracy.
(c)Rafael dos Anjos vs. Donald Cerrone
The main event is a title fight on FOX for the eigth time in 17 installments. Lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos (24-7; 13-5) and challenger Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone (28-6, 1 NC; 15-3) meet in a rematch for the Lightweight belt. The two previously fought at UFC Fight Night 27.
Dos Anjos won the belt back in March with a win over Anthony Pettis at UFC 185. Despite having a torn MCL, dos Anjos was able to be almost perfect en route to a dominant win over the champ. It was his ninth win in ten fights. In his title run, RDA earned wins over Cerrone, Benson Henderson and Nate Diaz among others. He is joined by champion Fabricio Werdum and former champion Lyoto Machida at Kings MMA in California. For a champion, his stats are pretty unimpressive with 2.96 SLpM and 2.36 SApM. Some impressive stuff is 69% Striking Defense, 2.65 Takedowns per 15 min. and 65% TDD.
Cerrone is a former WEC title challenger. He would lose three times in three tries for the WEC belt. Once in the UFC, ‘Cowboy’ rattled off four wins in eight months with a loss three months later. He is currently on an 8 fight win streak in 25 months with big wins over Edson Barboza, Jim Miller (headliner), Eddie Alvarez, Myles Jury and Benson Henderson. Cerrone will get his first chance at UFC gold after being in big fights for the past four years. Cerrone has impressed with 3.99 SLpM, 8 knockdowns (tied for most in division), 820 Significant Strikes Landed (second) and 1.7 Submission Attempts per 15 min.
*All records from Sherdog.com
**All stats from FightMetric.com
Felice Herrig vs. Karolina Kowalkiewicz in the works for UFC 223
UFC 223 looks to add a variety of intriguing bouts. With Paul Felder vs. Al Iaquinta reportedly set for the unannounced UFC 223 card, the promotion looks to add a high stakes female flyweight match-up. According to MMANYTT.com, sources confirmed a bout between Felice Herrig and Karolina Kowalkiewicz, is in the works for the pay-per-view card.
Assuming the match-up does come to be, both women have much to gain from a victory. For Herrig, she currently sits on a four-fight win streak. A streak in which the strawweight contender defeated Kailin Curran, Alexa Grasso, Justine Kish, and Cortney Casey. The MMA veteran, Herrig, began fighting professionally in 2009. As of late, her issues with the marketing machine that is the UFC have intensified.
After demonstrating her technical prowess over Justine Kish at UFC Fight Night 122: Chiesa vs. Lee, Herrig put her emotions on display. She stated at the post-fight media scrum, “Sometimes, I feel like, I’m not young and beautiful enough for the UFC to want to promote me. And it’s sad because I’ve really worked so hard to be here and it’s hard to see these people who’ve not been through what I’ve been through. Who just got into the UFC at the right time. They’re getting all these opportunities and I see how hard I work to get here and it’s just like, it doesn’t matter. I just feel like, ‘I’m not pretty enough and I’m not getting any younger'”.
A frustrated Felice Herrig then spoke to MMAJunkie.com in December. She claimed, “Aside from (former UFC women’s strawweight champ) Joanna (Jedrzejczyk), I’m the only strawweight who’s gone on a four-fight winning streak. That’s a fact. At this point, I want to fight someone in the top 10. It doesn’t really make sense for me to keep fighting girls that are ranked below me. That’s the whole point. If I want to keep working my way up. I fight the most dangerous girls outside the top 10”. The #9 ranked women’s flyweight has a point. In her UFC career, she recorded one loss in six appearances. Yet, she has one co-main event booking, while fighters like Michelle Waterson, booked the main event in her second UFC bout. In Waterson’s third bout, she received a co-main event scheduling. Understandably, Felice Herrig is upset with her situation.
Later in her interview, Herrig brought up Kowalkiewicz as a potential next opponent. “For whatever reason, I really want to fight Karolina. I just think that would be an exciting fight… Stylistically, I really like that fight. She’s ranked above (me), and it may be a good gauge for me,” she stated. Right now, it looks like Herrig is close to getting what she wants.
Kowalkiewicz last fought in her native country of Poland on the UFC Fight Pass card, UFC Fight Night 118: Cowboy vs. Till, in October. The Polish star defeated Jody Esquibel, after losing consecutive contests to former UFC female strawweight champion, Joanna Jedrzejcyk and Claudia Gadelha, respectively.
A win for either makes a good case for the next or an eventual title challenger. Kowalkiewicz holds a victory over current division champion, Rose Namajunas. While a win for Herrig would further establish her impressive win streak and undoubtedly give her the boost in the rankings she deserves.
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.”
Al Iaquinta vs. Paul Felder rescheduled for UFC 223 in April
MMA fans around the world wept in deep sorrow when Al Iaquinta withdrew from a bout scheduled for UFC 218 against Paul Felder. Weep no more, for Paul Felder faces Al Iaquinta at UFC 223. Rumblings behind the match-up, first reported by FloCombat.com, came Sunday night before MMAFighting.com confirmed the bout scheduled for unannounced pay-per-view card, later in the evening.
The original bout fell through due to a severe knee injury to Iaquinta. He spoke to BJ Penn Radio about the injury nearly a week before the December 2nd, PPV event in Detriot. The Long Island real estate agent claimed, “I tore my PCL and my MCL maybe three or four months ago… for me to really put in a full training camp and do what I need to do, I would’ve had to just focus on fighting and physical therapy… it was the kind of thing where all roads led to me not kind of taking a risk and fighting on December 2nd”.
Iaquinta went on to say, “I kind of accepted the fight, but I never signed a bout agreement… I was kind of told I had to give them an answer pretty quick. It was a fight I thought I really wanted. I thought it was a good stylistic match-up for me, so I accepted the fight, and then thinking about it over the course of a day, we realized it probably wasn’t a smart decision for my health, for everything”.
An outspoken lightweight, he is not the first of his kind. Al Iaquinta is no stranger to idly waiting on the sideline for the UFC to make a move. Contract disputes and other bad strokes of luck left the Serra-Longo with three octagon appearances since 2015. The feud between Iaquinta and the promotion comes as a surprise when looking at the credentials of the aforementioned fighter. With an octagon record of 8-2, he earned notoriety as one of the best lightweights in the world. During his time in the UFC, he defeated Kevin Lee, Ross Pearson, Joe Lauzon, Jorge Masvidal, and most recently Diego Sanchez.
His opponent, “The Irish Dragon”, Paul Felder, holds an impressive UFC record of his own. At 7-3, Felder defeated tough competition as well. His record notes wins over Daron Cruickshank, Jason Saggo, Stevie Ray, and Charles Oliveira. Even more impressive than his record, his knockout ratio. At this stage of his career, Felder knockouts 55% of his opponents (10 knockouts in 18 career pro bouts).
Like his opponent Iaquinta, Paul Felder has a separate career outside of fighting. As many should notice, Felder found a role as a color commentator with the promotion he fights for. Following the footsteps in a long line of fighters before him, Felder announced multiple events alongside another new addition to the UFC broadcast team, Brendan Fitzgerald.
PPV card, UFC 223 and its location are not official yet. Despite a lack of an announcement, the event takes place in Brooklyn, New York at the Barclays Centre, according to multiple reports. Currently, the card features no official bouts. Reports state Felice Herrig vs. Karolina Kowalkiewicz (per Jim Edwards), and Evan Dunham vs. Mairbek Taisumov (per Farah Hannoun) are both in the works for UFC 223.
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