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The Ultimate Fighter 20: Finale Re-Cap

AJ Camacho

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I’m loaded on Dos Equis and cough syrup so lets just get to the damn re-cap.

Main Card (on FOX Sports 1)

Carla Esparza DEFEATS Rose Namajunas
BY REAR NAKED CHOKE in the 3rd Round

Rose kept Esparza against the fence with a myriad of spastic spinning strikes, flying round head kicks, and stiff side kicks. Esparza clearly wanted to close the distance but couldn’t cover that much ground without taking damage. Spinning sh!t for days. Esparza begins to time her takedowns at the end of Rose’s combination riding out top position on the squirmy and spastic Namajunas. Finally, in the third round Rose would lazily kick and feed her foot to the takedown hungry Esparza, getting taken down. Esparza would grind her way to the back to ear the win by Rear Naked Choke.

Charles Oliveira DEFEATS Jeremy Stephens
BY UNANIMOUS DECISION 29:28/29:28/29:28

From the outset of the bout Oliveira would sit out and deploy his closed guard against the forward pressing Stephens. A third of the first round would be spent by Stephens, trying to pull out of Oliveira’s constrictive arm bar attempt. Oliveira did well controlling the distance only engaging at long range with his kicks or lunging in for his double leg takedowns, carefully staying out of the kill range of Stephens. His strategy would be rewarded earning him the back control transition to a hyper extended arm bar, until he released his leg pressure from Stephen’s body allowing Stephens to barrel back over onto the top position. Ultimately Stephens would evade 3 arm bars and 1 guillotine throughout the fight. Stephens would earn some solid ground and pound damage when he was on top but none of it was enough to win. Charles Oliveira Wins by Unanimous Decision.

The Ultimate Fighter Finale: Stephens v Oliveira

K.J. Noons vs Daron Cruickshank
Deemed a NO CONTEST due to eye poke in the 2nd Round

KJ Closes distance ducking down to hit Daron off of his shoulder rolls. Cruickshank tries to time his knees and uppercuts against KJ’s duck unders while getting backed into the fence. For the most part, they come out of the first round even. For the second time in the fight, KJ would throw an open hand into Cruickshank’s eyes stalling the match. Big John seems tolerant of the penalty but it’s clearly being caused by KJ’s framing with his lead hand. Cruishank can’t see out of his left eye and the doctor stops it. Big John calls it, No Contest.

Yancy Medeiros DEFEATS Joe Proctor
BY GUILLOTINE CHOKE in the 1st Round

Both fighters came out, working away on the body and the lead leg on each other. Medeiros, setting up combinations off his jab while Proctor his looking to throw bombs. Medeiros would walk Proctor down into the fence and hit the spinning back kick on Proctor’s liver as he came bouncing off of the fence. Proctor collapsed and Medeiros pounced on his neck to get the Guillotine Choke Win.

Jessica Penne DEFEATS. Randa Markos
BY SPLIT DECISION 28:29/30:27/29:28

Surprisingly, Penne’s Judo would out throw Markos’ wrestling, repeatedly landing in top position. Markos adjusts in the second round choosing to try and keep the fight standing. The third round would decide the winner as Markos would be unable to retain distance, getting taken down and smothered by Penne. Penne would do enough to win the Split Decision.

Preliminary Card (on FOX Sports 1)

Felice Herrig DEFEATS Lisa Ellis
BY ARM BAR in the 2nd Round

Lisa Ellis blitzed Herrig out of the gate turning the fight into a brutal grappling match. Ellis, known more for her wrestling, really demonstrated some solid Jiu Jitsu in this match… until she decided to repeatedly sit back on her @ss instead of pushing for the single leg. Ellis’ passivity gets steam rolled by Herrig’s aggression. Ellis reverses but gets caught, earning Herrig the Arm Bar Win from the bottom.

Heather Jo Clark DEFEATS Bec Rawlings
BY UNANIMOUS DECISION 29:28

Clark immediately smothered Rawlings with the clinch, trying to negate Bec’s brawl and sprawl game. For the most part, Rawlings was not able to keep Clark off of her. Clark demonstrated a much improved wrestling game, since her time in the TUF house, dominating most of the clinches and ground exchanges. The fight turned inside out in the third, Bec able to better retain distance and unload damage loaded boxing combinations but it was too late to win the fight. Clark Wins by Unanimous Decision.

Joanne Calderwood DEFEATS Seo Hee Ham
BY UNANIMOUS DECISION 30:27/30:27/30:26

Both fighters with high pure kickboxing stances, no fear of a takedown happening here. Ham was unable to decode Calderwood’s defenses and close the distant. Ham continued to circle preventing herself from being walked down into the cage but despite a handful of clinch exchanges Calderwood is able to keep the fight a long range exchange. Ham wears down in the third round and Calderwood took her down to finish strong on top for the Unanimous Decision Win.

The Ultimate Fighter Finale: Calderwood v Ham

Tecia Torres DEFEATS Angela Magana
BY UNANIMOUS DECISION 30:27/30:27/30:26

Toress kept the pressure on Magana for all 3 rounds, tenaciously walking Magana back with flurries of combinations, stiff side kicks, and rapid foot work. Magana stayed in the fight early on, getting her own share of strikes, but her non committal kicks and loose guard (chin up, hands down) just gave too many striking opportunities for Torres. Tecia Torres Win by Unanimous Decision.

Preliminary Card (on UFC Fight Pass)

Aisling Daly DEFEATS Alex Chambers by ARM BAR in the 1st Round
Angela Hill DEFEATS Emily Kagan by UNANIMOUS DECISION

I’m going to pass out now.

Onnit Primal Bells

Fight Announcements

Aldo vs. Lamas 2 and Ponzinibbio vs. Perry Added to UFC Winnipeg

Harry Davies

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The UFC has added Jose Aldo vs. Ricardo Lamas 2, and Santiago Ponzinibbio vs. Mike Perry to their UFC Winnipeg card on December 16th.

The two fights were announced as official today on the UFC’s Twitter account.

Aldo (26-3) last fought at UFC 212 in June, where he lost by third round TKO to Max Holloway. After being promoted to the undisputed 145-pound champion last November, he was looking to make the first defence of the title against Holloway.

Lamas first faced Aldo back in 2014 at UFC 169. Aldo, who was again featherweight champion at the time, defeated Lamas with ease winning by unanimous decision (49-46) on all scorecards. Lamas is on a two-fight winning streak after defeating both Charles Oliveira and Jason Knight with impressive finishes.

Since his last UFC loss to Lorenz Larkin back in 2015, Ponzinnibio (25-3) has won five consecutive fights. His most recent victory was a upset win over Gunnar Nelson in July at UFC Glasgow. There was some controversy after the fight, as replays seemed to show a short grab and several eyes pokes from Ponzinnibio before knocking out Nelson in the first round.

Mike Perry has taken the UFC by storm since making his debut for the promotion last August. Picking up four wins all by knockout, the only loss ‘Platinum’ suffered was too Alan Jouban by decision. Ranked at #9 in the welterweight division, a win over Ponzinnibio could definitely propel Perry into the top ten at 170-pounds.

With the additon of these two fantastic fights, the lineup for UFC Winnipeg is as follows:

  • Robbie Lawler vs. Rafael dos Anjos – Welterweight bout
  • Glover Teixeira vs. Misha Cirkunov – Light heavyweight bout
  • Antônio Rogério Nogueira vs. Jared Cannonier – Light heavyweight bout
  • Tim Elliott vs. Justin Scoggins – Flyweight bout
  • Chad Laprise vs. Galore Bafondo – Welterweight bout
  • Alessio Di Chirico vs. Oluwale Bamgbose – Middleweight bout
  • Vitor Miranda vs. Julian Marquez – Middleweight bout
  • John Makdessi vs. Abel Trujillo – Lightweight bout
  • Nordine Taleb vs. Sultan Aliev – Welterweight bout
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Why the UFC Needs to Introduce 165 and 175-pound Weight Divisions

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  • The debacle that were the UFC 216 weigh-in last Friday further highlighted current weight cutting problems in mixed martial arts.

More specifically in this case it was in the UFC’s lightweight division. A fight between Nik Lentz and Will Brooks was pulled due to Lentz having ‘medical issues’ according to a UFC statement, hours before he was due to weigh-in.

Title challenger Kevin Lee then took to the scale seconds before the deadline and was over the limit by a pound. Fortunately he made weight after being given an extra hour. But these are not isolated cases, especially at 155-pounds.

There isn’t necessarily a solution to this problem but there may be a short term fix in the form of new weight classes approved by the ABC (Association of Boxing Commissions and Combative Sports) in July 2017. These include 165 and 175-pound divisions.

While not specific to the lightweight division, the problems with weight commonly occur there. In March this year, Khabib Nurmagomedov was rushed to hospital during fight week when cutting down for his title contest with Tony Ferguson. Subsequently the UFC 209 main event was cancelled. Khabib has been regularly discussed as a title challenger but he’s often struggled to make weight and failed on numerous occasions.

With drastic dehydration it is still unknown what health implications may effect him and other mixed martial artists in the future.

Some top ranked fighters such as Donald Cerrone, Jorge Masvidal and Rafael Dos Anjos have moved up to the welterweight division to preserve their health from these strenuous cuts, and have all been relatively successful.

Former UFC lightweight Donald Cerrone has looked spectacular since making the move up to 170-pounds.

However, many fighters are still reluctant and insist on dropping 10-20% of their bodyweight in the hours and days leading up to a bout. For example, Kevin Lee was rumoured to be 19 pounds over the day before he stepped on the scales.

At 170 pounds, welterweight is fifteen pounds more than lightweight which is a noticeable difference between relatively low weight classes. Especially when you consider that the divisions increase ten pounds from as low as 115 up to 155. There are many fighters who find themselves too big to be a lightweight, yet too small to compete at welterweight.

The incidents last Friday should hopefully be a wakeup call to the UFC, who can also set an example for other organisations such as Bellator, One FC, and Cage Warriors.

So far in 2017 the UFC has lost 14 fights in 48 hours or less before they were due to take place. That is one fight every two cards. While weight cutting is not always to blame, more often than not it plays a big role. These situations leave the UFC at a loss, fighters without opponents and a pay check, and fans disgruntled. Not to mention the health implications for the athlete involved.

The UFC must recognise these common patterns, remove the 170 pound welterweight division and create 165 and 175 pound rosters instead. Some may see an additional weight class as devaluing UFC titles even further but this would not be the case.

The UFC’s official website only lists four fighters in the women’s featherweight division.

Recently the women’s featherweight title was created without having a roster of women to fill it. However, the difference with lightweight and welterweight is that they are comfortably the two deepest, most talent stacked divisions in the organisation.

Admittedly, there is a lot of history attached to the welterweight title since Pat Miletich first won it back in 1998. The likes of Matt Hughes and Georges St Pierre have also added prestige to the belt over the years.

Even so, the sport has changed since then and it’s in a transitional phase. We are in the era of USADA, the era of banned IV drips and certain commissions tightening their regulations on how much they allow fighters to safely cut. Everyone is accountable and aware of the dangers, yet steps still need to be taken.

The athletic commissions and the UFC in particular must act by introducing super lightweight (165lbs) and super welterweight (175lbs) divisions. Perhaps from a fighter’s perspective it seems like a no-brainer that their health should be the main priority.

From a fans point of view there is plenty of talent that could be used in those two divisions. The novelty of fighters blending into these classes would also have the feeling of a superfight. The likes of Nurmagomedov, Lee, Masvidal, Cerrone and Dos Anjos would certainly fit well into a 165 pound division.

Similarly, at 175 pounds, Tyron Woodley could transition from welterweight champion to super welterweight champion. Top talents such as Robert Whittaker, Stephen Thompson, Demian Maia and Robbie Lawler would be perfect matches for this weight.

Could we see the current welterweight champion Tyron Woodley compete at 175-pounds in the future?

If this was a success then super middleweight (195lbs) and cruiserweight (225lbs) divisions could be an option in future too.

As previously mentioned this won’t necessarily fix the issues of weight cutting but it gives martial artists another option and is a positive step towards fighter’s safety. Currently there has been no mention by the UFC about introducing these new divisions.

However, with fighter safety being of upmost importance these new divisions must be given serious consideration.

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Bellator

James Gallagher out of Bellator 187 in Dublin due to injury

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Irish fans will have to wait a little longer to see James Gallagher fighting on home soil after Gallagher suffered a knee injury in preparation for his main event fight with Jeremiah Labiano in Dublin next month. This bad news was first reported by MMAFighting.com.

The 20-year-old from Strabane co. Tyrone who trains in the famous SBG gym with Conor McGregor and Gunnar Nelson among others has set the featherweight division alight since joining Bellator in 2016.  James “The Strabanimal” Gallagher has gone 3-0 with all three of his wins coming by rear naked choke.

After submitting Chinzo Machida, the brother of former UFC light heavyweight champion, Lyoto Machida in Madison Square Garden Gallagher has become a budding star for Bellator.

Due to the youngster’s attitude and potential, many comparisons between Gallagher and UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor have been made by the fans and media which has made Gallagher one of Bellator’s most recognizable names. This notoriety has ultimately led to the young Irishman getting a chance to headline in Dublin this November but this injury has delayed his rise for the time being.

Gallagher on social media Thursday stated that he has suffered an injury to his PCL and LCL in his knee and would be out for the remainder of the year. He has assured fans we would return next year and carry on where he started with “The Jimmy show.”

His longtime rival AJ McKee, who has engaged in a Twitter war with Gallagher after his last fight, will now headline Bellator 187 in the 3 Arena in Dublin on November 10th against Gallagher’s SBG teammate Brian Moore. Moore will be making his third appearance for Bellator in this featherweight clash.

 

 

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