This Saturday the UFC heads back to Chicago for another Fox card with the highly anticipated rematch between the UFC Bantamweight champion TJ Dillishaw and #1 contender Renan Barao taking centre stage. With no PPV space left for the title fight, the UFC put it on for free using the Fox platform. The co-main event features a Women’s Bantamweight title eliminator fight between two time title-challenger Miesha Tate and Jessica Eye. Let’s look at the rest of the card!
Joe Lauzon vs. Takanori Gomi
In the starter for the main card we get a Lightweight fight between Joe Lauzon (24-10 MMA; 11-7)* and Takanori Gomi (35-10, 1 NC; 4-5). The two have plenty of experience in the MMA game with 79 total fights between them.
Lauzon has the most fight night bonuses in UFC history with 13. His first UFC fight came with a splash as he knocked out the former Lightweight champion Jens Pulver. He fought on The Ultimate Fighter season 5 where he lost in the semi-final to Manvel Gamburyan. He won his first three contests under the UFC banner including the Pulver fight. He has gone 8-7 since then and has gone 2-1 in his last three. We last saw ‘J-Lau’ at UFC 183 where he lost by TKO to Al Iaquinta. Lauzon is a grappler and comes in with 2.9 Submission Attempts per 15 min.**
Gomi is the former Shooto and Pride Lightweight champion. He fought 37 times before joining the UFC in 2010, including 14 fights in Shooto and 15 in Pride. Gomi fought in a main event against Kenny Florian in his first UFC fight. He lost by Rear-Naked choke in the third round. Three of his five losses in the UFC have come by submission. He last fought at UFC Fight Night 52 where he lost by TKO to Myles Jury. Gomi has a striking prowess and comes into the contest with 3.91 Significant Strikes Landed per Minute (SLpM) and has a 60% Striking Defense.
Edson Barboza vs. Paul Felder
Another marquee Lightweight contest on the main card is Edson Barboza (15-3; 9-3) and Paul Felder (10-0: 2-0). The original Lightweight matchup was expected to be former Lightweight champion Anthony Pettis and Myles Jury. Pettis had to withdraw due to an elbow injury and was replaced by Barboza and then not too long after, Jury had to opt out and a whole new fight was made with Felder replacing Jury.
Barboza has gone 2-2 in his last four. He started his MMA career 6-0 before joining the UFC. He then won his first four straight to bring his record to 10-0. In his toughest fight to date, Barboza was TKO’d by former WEC champion Jamie Varner at UFC 146. Since then he has gone 5-2 with three finishes. He is a Muay-Thai specialist with 3.80 SLpM and only 3.30 Significant Strikes Absorbed per Minute (SApM) to go along with 65% Striking Defense.
Felder is undefeated thus far in his MMA career. He was the CFFC Lightweight champion before joining the UFC at UFC Fight Night 54. His last fight came at UFC 182 where he got a Knockout of the Year candidate in his spinning back fist KO against Danny Castillo. His stats are pretty similar with 3.79 SLpM and only 2.26 SApM. He has completed the only Takedown he has attempted inside the Ocatgon.
Miesha Tate vs. Jessica Eye
In the co-main event is a Women’s Bantamweight title eliminator between Miesha Tate (16-5; 3-2) and Jessica Eye (11-2, 1 NC; 1-1, 1 NC). This will be the third fight in which Tate is the co-main event, including her UFC 168 loss for the title against Ronda Rousey. This is only the fourth main card slot on Fox for a women fight, the second time a women’s fight has co-main evented as well (other was Tate vs. Liz Carmouche at UFC on Fox 11).
Tate is a two-time title challenger to Rousey. Her first UFC fight came in another title-eliminator to Cat Zingano which she lost by TKO. After Zingano had a knee injury, Tate was picked to replace Zingano as a coach on TUF and in the title fight. After losing her second straight UFC fight, Tate has gone on a three fight win streak. She last headlined the prelims for UFC 183 where she came back after a brutal first round (and a broken orbital) to win a decision. She has only a 2.46 SApM and 2.45 Takedowns per 15 min. ‘Cupcake’ is currently ranked third in our monthly rankings.
Eye is also going for a chance at UFC gold. Her time in the UFC has yielded all possible situations. She won her first fight by decision, but was later turned to a NC when she tested positive for marijuana. Her next two fights she split with a loss to Alexis Davis and a win in her last fight to Leslie Smith at UFC 180. Her striking comes at a frantic pace with 5.46 SLpM and 60% Striking Defense. She is ranked 6th on the MMA Latest rankings.
(c)TJ Dillishaw vs. Renan Barao
The main event is a Bantamweight title fight between the champion TJ Dillishaw (11-2; 7-2) and the former champion Renan Barao (33-2, 1 NC; 8-1). The two met for the first time in the main event of UFC 173 where the roles were reversed as Barao was the champion trying to defend against Dillishaw. The Team Alpha Male product put on a great performance and beat the former champion by fifth round TKO. The rematch was set immediately for UFC 177 in Sacramento, the training home of Dillishaw. Barao would be unable to make it to the fight as he was injured while cutting weight and the powers that be promoted newcomer Joe Soto to the spotlight. Soto kept up, but ultimately lost by fifth round TKO to the champion. The fight was rescheduled to for the UFC 186 main event, but Dillishaw did not make it to the fight as he hurt his ribs.
Dillishaw has won 7 of his last 8 fights including his title win and defense. He was a finalist on The Ultimate Fighter Season 13 where he lost to now Flyweight title challenger John Dodson. He would win four straight after the loss with three stoppages. The UFC put him in the toughest spot he’s been in with a matchup against Raphael Assuncao. The fight was a good one with Dillishaw coming out the loser for his second loss in the UFC. He had a dominant decision win over Mike Easton before getting a title fight. Dillihsaw is first in the active division in Knockdowns (5), Significant Strikes Landed (576), SLpM (5.56) and Striking Differential (+3.14). He has never been taken down inside the Octagon in 14 attempts.
Barao was on a 33 fight unbeaten streak before losing to Dillishaw. Under the Zuffa banner, he went 2-0 in the WEC and then three straight to start off his time in the UFC. After then champion Dominick Cruz was injured, the UFC called Barao for an interim title shot against Urijah Faber. Barao would win that fight and would defend that interim belt twice. The unification bout between Cruz and Barao was set for UFC 169, but once again Cruz was unable to make it to the Octagon. The UFC gave the belt to Barao and his first defense came against Faber with a first round TKO. The next fight was the first Dillishaw fight which he was handed his first loss in 9 years. After being unable to make the UFC 177, the UFC gave him a tune up fight to get ready to for Dillishaw. He beat Mitch Gagnon with a third round Arm-Triangle choke after two rounds of pretty even striking. ‘The Baron’ absorbed 140 Significant Strikes in the first fight with the champion, the most he’s ever been hit. He still comes with a 3.62 SLpM and also comes in having never been taken down inside the Octagon in 27 attempts.
*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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