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UFC Rankings Gets Drastic Shakeup, Four Fighters Removed

Vinny Craig

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After the first stop in Salt Lake City, Utah, the UFC’s official rankings (http://www.ufc.com/rankings) saw a huge shakeup, cleaning up the rankings of four former champions suspended from USADA infractions,  over the past 48 hours. While the UFC does not vote on the rankings themselves, they can remove fighters from being voted on in the rankings.

The highest profile change is to former Light Heavyweight champion and number 1 Pound-for-Pound fighter Jon Jones. He kept his ranking as the Interim title holder and the top spot on the P4P list before last week when he was removed. Misha Cirkunov, who has won three straight fights, has joined the top 15 in his place. Jones won 13 straight victories to claim the top spot on the pound-for-pound rankings before legal issues forced the UFC to strip the Jackson-Wink fighter of his belt and his ranking. Returning at UFC 197, ‘Bones’ regained his top spot in the pound-for-pound rankings and was the Interim Light Heavyweight champ.

A title unification bout against champion Daniel Cormier was scheduled for the main event of UFC 200. Three days prior to the event, Jones was pulled from the event for an out-of-competition drug test administered on June 16. It was revealed during a Nevada State Athletic Commission hearing that Jones tested positive for clomiphene, an anti-estrogen substance, and letrozole.

Former UFC Heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar returned to action after four and a half years at UFC 200 to claim a win over Mark Hunt. After the win, Lesnar joined the rankings for the first time in the UFC at number 8, just one spot ahead of Hunt. Six days after the event, USADA notified Lesnar and the UFC that he tested positive during an out-of-competition test. Four days later, he was notified of an infraction during a test administered on fight night. He was removed from the rankings at number 8 and Francis Ngannou has joined the top 15.

Another former Heavyweight champion, and opponent of Lesnar twice, has also been removed from the rankings. Frank Mir, the two-time Heavyweight champion, last fought at UFC Fight Night 85 in the main event against Mark Hunt on March 20. After being knocked out in the first round, the mandatory fight night test came back positive on April 7 for oral turinabol metabolites. Mir was removed from the rankings and replaced by legend Antonio ‘Bigfoot’ Silva.

Former Light Heavyweight champion and current Middleweight contender is the last of the four removed from the rankings. Scheduled for a fight with Dan Henderson back in April, Machida was coming off of two straight losses and three losses in his last four fights. After almost a full year off, Machida was notified of an infraction during an out-of-competition test where he tested positive for a substance he listed on his USADA forms. Machida was removed from the rankings at his number 8 spot in the division.

On the other end of the spectrum, Yoel Romero, after being suspended for six months for an out-of-competition test, has been put back in the rankings at number 14. Romero was suspended for a contaminated supplement that was not listed on the label and settled with six months’ suspension. After his win over Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza, he was as high as number 2 in the division after seven straight wins. He takes the place of Machida but jumps ahead of Thiago Santos in the rankings.

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Fight Announcements

Stipe Miocic vs. Francis Ngannou Official for UFC 220

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UFC 220 in Boston, Massachusetts has its main event. Stipe Miocic (17-2) will put his belt on the line for the third time against rising heavyweight star, Francis Ngannou (11-1)

Rumors surrounded the match-up for UFC 220 after Ngannou’s first round knockout over Alistair Overeem, at UFC 218. The Cameroonian heavyweight called for the fight himself. In his octagon interview proceeding his most recent victory, Ngannou stated:

“I’m feeling good… I’m on my way to a title shot”.

The heavy handed Ngannou has finished all of his opponents in all of his six UFC bouts. A streak which includes a kimura submission over Anthony Hamilton and a TKO victory against former UFC heavyweight champion, Andrei Arlovski. Overall, he holds a ten fight win streak. His only defeat came by way of unanimous decision to Zoumana Cisse, in his second professional MMA fight.

If victorious, Ngannou would become the first African-born champion in UFC history.

Not to be diminished, Stipe Miocic rides his a streak of his own into the beantown match-up. Five consecutive wins, five knockouts and the past four of which, ended in the first round. A victory in Boston for the champ would make him the longest reigning heavyweight champion in UFC history. Currently, Miocic is one of three heavyweights, in the promotions entirety, whom has successfully defended the belt twice.

UFC 220 will be held at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts on January 20th, 2018. The pay-per-view (PPV) card will also feature light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier, as he faces challenger Volkan “No Time” Oezdemir.

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Events

Ladies Fight Night 7: “Double Trouble” Preview

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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.

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Invicta

Mackenzie Dern victorious in Invicta debut 

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Late Friday night, Mackenzie Dern (5-0, 1-0 Invicta FC) won her co-main event booking, defeating Kaline Medieros (8-6, 2-2 Invicta FC), at Invicta FC 26: Maia vs. Niedzwiedz, via submission (armbar) with only fifteen seconds remaining in the fight.

Much of the fight was controlled by Dern. The heralded prospect displayed her power, visibly damaging her opponent with multiple overhand rights. Striking is an under-developed aspect of her attack, only when compared to the twenty-four-year-olds black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Above all, she showed a progression of her striking skills. Dern looked to be bigger and physically stronger than her veteran opponent. She utilized forward pressure and found the proper timing for her overhand right throughout.

The veteran Medeiros showed her toughness throughout the fight. She defended and scrambled out of some bad positions during the grappling exchanges. Ultimately, she tapped when caught in a deeply planted armbar.  While Medeiros did earn a few hard trip takedowns, it factored minimally in the result as she refused to follow Dern to the mat. The Boston native suffered her second straight loss, Friday night. Her first was to, former Invicta strawweight champion, Angela Hill.

Dern made her professional debut in July of 2016 with Legacy Fighting Alliance (previously: Legacy Fighting Championship). In her debut, she defeated Kenia Rosas by unanimous decision. The Phoenix-born fighter won her next three bouts. Before her MMA career began, Dern won the ADCC (Abu Dhabi Combat Club) championship at 60 kg. She was the first American born female to become champion at the weight. Her grappling resume boasts many more incredible accomplishments. Justifiably, a growing spotlight now hangs over her, her skills, and potential in the sport of MMA.

Elsewhere on the Invicta 26 card, Jennifer Maia defeated Agnieszka Niedzweidz by unanimous decision. Maia retained her Invicta flyweight belt, defending it for the second time. Invicta FC 26: Maia vs. Niedzweidz, took place at the Scottish Rite Temple in Kansas City, Missouri.

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