On Saturday night Paige VanZant and Michelle Waterson meet in a network television main event on FOX. For the fighters involved it is an important bout. For their respective fans it means plenty. The impact it will have on the strawweight division’s immediate title picture is minimal.
At different points in their careers, neither fighter is expected to immediately challenge for the title with a win. Neither VanZant or Waterson reside in the current 115 pound top ten.
In the co-main event in Sacramento, Mickey Gall and Sage Northcutt meet with only 12 professional fights between them. Gall’s perfect 3-0 record includes a win over a journalist and a win over a pro wrestler. Every one of Gall’s three wins have been against fighters making their professional debuts.
While Northcutt is more experienced, with nine professional fights on his resume, he is still nowhere near the top ten in either the lightweight or welterweight divisions he has been bouncing between. Nor is he anywhere near the top 20, or even the top 50. Tapology has Northcutt ranked at 87 at lightweight. Fight Matrix has him ranked at 156.
What does this say about the UFC’s marquee television show as we approach 2017? While Saturday’s event is the clearest example of elite-level championship irrelevance, it is part of a trend that has been noticeable all year.
When the UFC signed their seven-year broadcasting deal with the FOX network in 2011, the “big FOX” events were seen as a major opportunity to increase the popularity of the sport. Long time UFC fans waited with baited breath for another “Griffin vs Bonnar” moment that would draw new fans to the sport overnight. In reality the UFC had already grown beyond the point where that was ever a realistic possibility, but that did not stop the company attaching huge importance to the FOX events and using them to grow the sport gradually.
The following figures do not include interim titles, or fights which were promoted as title eliminators but did not actually see the winner fight for the title in their next fight.
In the first full year on FOX we saw four major events. In total they hosted one title fight, produced four immediate title challengers, and included five former UFC champions. Fast forward to 2016 and the picture splattered across the events in garish paint is quite different.
No title fights. No title eliminators. Even the total of four former champions is unimpressive when you consider that one of those is Josh Barnett who held the heavyweight title all the way back in 2002, and has not been considered a realistic title threat since returning to the UFC in 2013. If we are being brutally honest, Rashad Evans is viewed in much the same way now too.
On top of that, unlike previous years where the UFC promoted four FOX events, the VanZant vs. Waterson headlined show in Sacramento on Saturday is the fifth of 2016.
2017 is a pivotal year for the UFC on network television. New owners WME-IMG have included a much improved TV deal as part of their projected plans for the company going forward. The current deal with FOX runs until 2018, where WME-IMG will be hoping other networks will be fighting for a seat at the negotiating table.
The first FOX event of 2017 is already scheduled with a potential title eliminator in the main event slot. Valentina Shevchenko and Julianna Pena fight with both women hoping to secure a bantamweight title shot. Even that is not guaranteed however. Miesha Tate and Jessica Eye was announced as a title eliminator on FOX in 2015. That was until Tate won and the UFC and then champion Ronda Rousey cooled on the idea, opting instead to promote a bout between Rousey and Holly Holm.
With Holm now fighting Germaine de Randamie to become the inaugural women’s featherweight champion, and Ronda Rousey challenging bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes at UFC 207 at the end of this month, the winner of Pena and Shevchenko’s FOX main event might not be getting a title shot any time soon either.
Holm has already made comments regarding her desire to move back to 135 pounds and reclaim the bantamweight title she lost earlier this year, once she has fought for the featherweight strap. If that means a second fight with Rousey — should Rousey defeat Nunes at UFC 207 — then the chances of Pena or Shevchenko being forced to wait are increased tenfold. Especially when you take into account UFC President Dana White’s comments regarding a champion vs champion rematch should everything fall into place.
Meanwhile Saturday’s event in Sacramento has become a dumping ground for popular fighters with no top-five credibility. Even Urijah Faber, whose retirement bout against Brad Pickett is on the main card, is there because of his popularity in Sacramento rather than his ability to make an impact on the upper echelons of his division. Even if Faber were not on the verge of retirement, he would not be considered a potential title challenger at this stage in his career.
If we see more of the same in 2017, the UFC will be banking on their popular fighters doing enough inside the cage to retain their fanbases. After all, there is a TV deal waiting to be renegotiated that hinges on it.
Ladies Fight Night 7: “Double Trouble” Preview
Polish women’s federation Ladies Fight Night is going to celebrate their second birthday this year on the 15th to 17th of December. Two days, two events with a lot of great bouts.
LFN in Poland is being titled the new Invicta FC. The Polish owners created this federation to give European women a chance to fight on a big platform.
Hosting their first ever event in December 2015, LFN will hold two great cards next week, that will feature women who have fought under many prestigious promotions, such as the UFC, Invicta, Bellator, Glory, and Kunlun.
Two days of fantastic fights, intensified by a double dose of sports impressions. The name is not accidental, LFN 7 / LFN 8 combines two events, during which the best Polish fighters will be shown, as well as the best fighters from Europe (including France, Sweden, Italy, the Czech Republic and Romania)
The stakes are high, and we are electrified by the clashes between warriors such as Żaneta Cieśla vs Silvia La Notte and Patricia Axling vs. Cindy Silvestri. Mainly due to their vastness of their experience in the cage.
In the fight of the evening, the talented Romanian Cristina Stanciu will face Magdaléna Šormovádo. Stanciu fought twice in the UFC, but she was unfortunately cut from the promotion after suffering consecutive losses to Cortney Casey and Maryna Moroz.
Judyta Rymarzak vs Marta Waliczek is an amazing fight between two experienced kickboxers. Both making their pro MMA debuts on the night, we will witness a one-of-a-kind duel between two kickboxing perfectionists, as they look to transcend their skills into the MMA world.
The Wake-Up Report-UFC 218
The Wake-Up Report is a way for you to get all the important info about the fights the night before. After letting it all sink in and letting all the carnage seep deep into your soul, we get to go back and take a second look at all the madness of the night. Last night the UFC pulled off one of the best PPV cards a true fight fan could imagine. Waking up after a night of fights like we had last night is like waking up from a dream that was also a bit scary. There was two ‘Fight of the Night’ in UFC president Dana White’s eyes but in the eyes of the millions of fans watching all over the world, there could have been so many more.
UFC 218 kicked off at 6:15 ET with the UFC Fight Pass Prelims, by 6:20 we already had the first knockout of the night. Justin Willis welcomed ‘Dana White Tuesday Night Contender Series’ fighter, Allen Crowder to the UFC with a massive left hand to the chin.
Official Result: Willis def. Crowder by KO in round 1
— FOX Sports: UFC (@UFCONFOX) December 3, 2017
The prelims continued with a submission win for Dominick Reyes over Jeremy Kimball.
Official Result: Reyes def. Kimball by Submission in round 1
Proceeding that fight was a strange one between Abdul Razak Alhassan and Sabah Homasi. An early stoppage by veteran UFC ref Herb Dean led to the KO win by Homasi. Immediately, the stoppage was contested by Alhassan. Dana White agreed that the fight was ended too soon and announced in the post-fight media scrum that this fight will be run back on the UFC 219 card on December 30th.
Official Result: Homasi def. Alhassan by KO in round 1
The early prelims ended with a great win by Amanda Bobby Cooper over Angela Magana.
Official Result: Cooper def. Magana by TKO in round 2
We followed that strawweight fight up with another strawweight battle when Felice Herrig squeaked out the split decision victory over Courtney Casey.
Official Result: Herrig def. Casey by Split Decision
— FOX Sports: UFC (@UFCONFOX) December 3, 2017
David Teymur was on the winning side of a unanimous decision over his opponent Drakkar Klose. Teymur has now won four in a row since coming to the UFC and should be setting himself up for a ranked opponent in his next time out.
Official Result: Teymur def. Klose by Unanimous Decision
Right smack in the middle of this massive fight card was one fight that you can tell your grandkids about one day. Alex “Cowboy” Oliveira vs. Yancy Medeiros is the reason we all love MMA. That fight had everything you could want in a fight. Both men gave their all and pushed themselves to the brink in over to get the win. On this cold December night in Detriot, MI, Yancy Medeiros was the better man and he was able to stop Oliveira in the third round by TKO. Earning themselves a well deserved ‘Fight of the Night’ bonus, these two fighters have put the rest of the welterweight division on notice.
Official Result: Medeiros def. Oliveira by TKO in round 3
— FOX Sports: UFC (@UFCONFOX) December 3, 2017
The next fight featured another Oliveira, Charles Oliveira. He took on ‘The Irish Dragon’ Paul Felder. Felder put on a dominant performance and took out Oliveira in the second round with a big TKO victory.
Official Result: Felder def. Oliveira by TKO in round 2
As if the FS1 free prelims didn’t already satisfy your fight needs for the night we happily moved right along to the PPV portion of the evening. The main card kicked off in the strawweight division with a pair of title contenders looking to be the first title defense for the newly crowned champ Rose Namajumas. Both women started off strong, but it was Tecia Torres who shortly emerged as the stronger physical fighter. She was able to get Michelle Waterson up against the cage several times and eventually worked out the unanimous decision victory and perhaps a third date with Namajunas.
Official Result: Torres def. Waterson by Unanimous Decision
🌪 🌪 🌪
— UFC (@ufc) December 3, 2017
Following the strawweights were the coaches of this season of The Ultimate Fighter, Eddie Alvarez, and Justin Gaethje. This fight was one of the focal points for fans in the weeks leading up to the fight. These two men had a great deal of respect for one another and showed that inside the octagon as well. A back and forth of heavy hands and vicious leg kicks ended in the TKO victory for Alvarez and he handed Gaethje the first loss of his career. This fight also earned a ‘Fight of the Night’ bonus from the bossman, Dana White.
Official Result: Alvarez def. Gaethje by TKO in round 3
— Ride The Pine Sports (@RideThePine_) December 3, 2017
Next came a bout in the flyweight division. Perhaps not as exciting as the rest of the card, but, former gold medal wrestler Henry Cejudo did what he had to do to get the nod over young talent Sergio Pettis.
Official Result: Cejudo def. Pettis by Unanimous Decision
From some of the smallest guys on the roster to the monsters of the heavyweight division, in walked rising star Francis Ngannou and Alistair Overeem. We all knew coming into this fight that we would see carnage, but nothing prepared us of the ginormous KO that was about to ensue. Francis Ngannou was able to squash Overeems plan of wrapping him up in the clinch and immediately put his massive left fist right to Overeem’s chin. The world record holder for punching power used all of his might and unleashed on his opponent. With this win, Ngannou has solidified his title shot against champion Stipe Miocic. Dana White has plans for that bout in the first quarter of 2018.
Official Result: Ngannou def. Overeem by KO in round 1
— BossLogic (@Bosslogic) December 3, 2017
As if things couldn’t get better than that, we still had a main event featuring one of the greatest fighters to ever grace the UFC octagon. Jose Aldo was looking to regain his title, and for a good portion of the first round it looked like that would be the case. Max Holloway saw it another way. Holloway absorbed all the shots from Aldo and imposed his strength on the exhausted Aldo. The fight, that went on in very similar fashion from the first meeting between these two fighters, ended in the third round when the ref stepped in and called the fight.
Official Result: Holloway def. Aldo by TKO in round 3
All Holloway, all the time.
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) December 3, 2017
Max Holloway has secured a place in the history books as one of the greatest to fight in the UFC at 145 pounds. It would seem that Frankie Edgar will get the next shot at the champ. As for Aldo, only time will tell where the former champ goes from here. Perhaps there will be a change of weight classes as he looks for another shot at the man who robbed him of his title initially, Conor McGregor.
The fight fans of Detroit, MI received an early holiday present in the form of violence and mayhem. UFC 218 was a successful fight card and one for the record books. Like true fans of fighting we take a brief moment to reflect before quickly turning our attention to next week where we begin the madness all over again. The nest card will take place in Fresco, CA on December 8th. That card will be headlined by Cub Swanson vs. Brian Ortega.
2017 IMMAF World Championships set to be streamed live on IOS and Android app
This years IMMAF World Championships in Bahrain is only 4 days away now and competitors from around the world are preparing themselves for what will be an extraordinary event and opportunity to make themselves known. The prestigious event is being hosted by the BMMAF under the patronage of His Highness Shaikh Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa.
For fans around the world good news came today as they will be able to watch their favourite amateur athlete take to the cage in the Khalifa Sports City Arena via an app. The BahrainTV app will be streaming all of the fights live for fans to watch at home or even on the go on their phone. You can also keep up to date via MyNextMatch.com for all relevant info for the event.
The links for the BahrainTV app are as follows:
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