The Ultimate Fighter season 23 featured a competition of light heavyweights and strawweights to fight their way into the UFC. In the light heavyweight division, the two finalists were Khalil Rountree (4-0) vs Andrew Sanchez (8-2).
Khalil Rountree did not have the most conventional path to the finale, losing to his training partner Cory Hendricks in the first preliminary bout of the season. However, Hendricks was forced to withdraw from the competition with a shoulder injury, giving Rountree a second chance to prove he could be the next Ultimate Fighter. He went on to defeat Josh Stansbury to earn a place in the final.
Andrew Sanchezteps earned a unanimous decision win over Myron Dennis in his own first round bout. With the preliminary fights concluded, Andrew was forced to face Team Gadelha team mate Eric Spicely, winning by KO in the first round to book his spot in the final.
Sanchez starts the round with a right kick and Rountree tries to respond with a strong combination that is blocked by Sanchez. Sanchez shoots for his first takedown, but Rountree sprawls, stuffing the attempt. As the fight returns to the feet, Rountree again looks to tee off, but a second takedown attempt from Sanchez was successful. Rountree briefly gets to his feet before Sanchez immediately takes the fight back down to the canvass, this time in half guard. Rountree turns and stands with Sanchez on his back. Rountree throws a left hook which misses, allowing Sanchez to once again achieve a takedown, and the round ends with Sanchez on top.
Almost immediately, Sanchez shoots for a takedown but Rountree manages to defend it. The two trade strikes before attempts another takedown that puts Rountree against the cage. Sanchez keeps the pressure on Rountree, controlling him and landing a number of strikes which bloodies the nose of Rountree. The round ends with with Sanchez in the top posisition.
Rountree comes out with a sense of urgency, knowing he is 2 rounds down. He throws a left high kick, but Sanchez responds with a high kick of his own, followed immediatly by a takedown attempt. He backs Rountree to the cage and is successful with the takedown. In full guard, Sanchez attacks with short hammer fists and Rountree throws strikes from the bottom, desperate to create an opening. Sanchez begins to move towards the bac, keeping control for the rest of the round. As the round comes to an end, the crowd begins to voice their displeasure at what they considered to be a lacklustre fight, which Rountree seemed to agree with, to rolling his eyes in response. The round ends sending this fight to the judges.
Official decision – Andrew Sanchez defeats Khalil Rountree via Unanimous Decision (30-25, 30-25, 30-26)
UFC Announces Liverpool Event, Darren Till Main Event
Scousers are drowning in celebration this evening. Earlier today, UFC officials announced the addition of a Liverpool show to their 2018 event calendar. Liverpool’s, Echo Arena, plays host for the event, which takes place on May 27th.
Liverpool’s own, Darren Till made the announcement this afternoon with Dan Hardy at the UFC Fight Night: Werdum vs. Volkov, ceremonial weigh-in. When asked by Hardy what it means to have the UFC in Liverpool, he had this to day, “Words can’t describe it. It doesn’t do it justice, words. So, it’s coming and I’m going to be the first Scousers to ever have done it. In 200 years they’re going to remember my name in combat sports in Liverpool. I’m gonna take someones chin off in Liverpool, that’s what’s happening”.
He was also quoted in an release from the promotion saying, “I can’t believe UFC is finally coming to Liverpool and I’m going to be headlining Echo Arena. My name is going to be remembered in 200 years time for being part of this historical event and I can’t even describe how much that means to me”. Till will headline the card, his opponent is yet to be announced.
In the official release, it quotes David Shaw, Senior Vice President International and Content, claiming, “The stars really aligned for the Octagon to touch down in Liverpool. We have seen such phenomenal demand from fans in the region for a live event. Pair that with having such a rising, local star in Darren Till it made absolute sense to bring our first live event to this historical combat sports city in 2018”.
UFC Liverpool lands on a date speculated for a different venue, in a different country. Reports swirled last month, specifically one from MMAFighting.com, which claimed the May 27th date belonged to the UFCs return to Dublin. A return to Dublin doesn’t seem to fall completely out of the realm of possibility. For now, it remains to be seen.
The UFC also announced two bouts, both in the Middleweight division, booked for the event. Elias Therodorou takes on Trevor Smith, and Daniel Kelly goes up against England’s Tom Breese.
Marco Reyes Flagged for Potential Anti-Doping Policy Violation
Earlier today, UFC officials announced that Lightweight, Marco Reyes was flagged for a potential UFC Anti-Doping Policy violation. The potential violation hails from a sample collected on March 8th, 2018, in an out-of-competition test.
Reyes made his way into the UFC through The Ultimate Fighter Latin America, season 2. Competing in the lightweight bracket, Reyes defeated Christhian Soto by 2nd rd. TKO of a preliminary round bout. He then went onto to face Horacio Gutiérrez, in the semifinals of the tournament. Gutiérrez defeated Reyes in the opening round by TKO.
Following his elimination from the tournament, the Mexican fighter met Cezar Arzamendia on the series finale, The Ultimate Fighter Latin America 2 Finale. Reyes impressively defeated Arzamendia, whom was the first overall pick for Team Gastelum, by 1st round KO.
From there, Reyes defeated Dong Hung Kim (rd. 1, KO), and Jason Novelli (Split Decision) respectively, before falling to rising contender James Vick. Most recently, the Lightweight fighter dispatched Matt Frevola in the opening round, ruining the Long Islanders promotional debut. His bout against Frevola took place at UFC Fight Night: Stephens vs. Choi, on January 14th of this year.
The UFC statement on the matter reads as follows:
The UFC organization was notified today that the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) has informed Marco Reyes of a potential Anti-Doping Policy violation stemming from an out-of-competition sample collected on March 8, 2018.
USADA, the independent administrator of the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, will handle the results management and appropriate adjudication of this case involving Reyes. Under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, there is a full and fair legal process that is afforded to all athletes before any sanctions are imposed. Additional information will be provided at the appropriate time as the process moves forward.
Dillon Danis to make Pro debut against Kyle Walker at Bellator 198
Mixed Martial Arts officially adopted another incredibly talented jiu-jitsu practioner today. Bellator officials announced today the long-awaited debut of Dillon Danis, whom the promotion had signed in the year previous. After zero amateur and countless jiu-jitsu matches, Danis makes his debut at Bellator 198: Mir vs. Emelianenko, against Kyle Walker.
Kyle Walker enters the match up also making his Bellator debut. Walker recently made a resurgence in 2016 after taking off, almost exactly, 3 years. Since returning to the professional scene his record is 0-3, losing each fight by stoppage (2 Sub, 1 KO).
Walker looks to snap his streak yet, his opponent could provide a major challenge. In terms of advantages for Walker, he has a massive and obvious one. His experience. Walkers opponent fights for the first time in the sport of MMA. While Danis competed in many top-level jiu-jitsu tournaments and matches, comparing the competition would stop and end upon examining the rule sets. It is quite obvious, the difference. Danis will have a bit of adversity to overcome, in that respect.
In spite of this, Danis’ team, he trains out of the highly regarded SBG Ireland. Even before his MMA training, he trained under Marcelo Garcia. He earned his black belt in April of 2015, following an incredible 2014. In that year, Danis became UAEJJF World Champion, winning gold in the 82 kg (181 lb.) Brown belt category.
The prospect of what that could look like inside the cage is exciting. He may have developed some striking techniques but, the lack of time dedicated to that training in undeniable. Experience and time is required to develop skills of any kind.
Bellator 198: Mir vs. Emelianenko, takes place on Saturday, April 28th from the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Illinois. Bellator 198 features the third of four preliminary bouts in the promotions Heavyweight Grand Prix, Fedor Emelianenko takes on Frank Mir. It serves as the nights main event. Other bouts on the card feature; Emmanuel Sanchez against Sam Sicilia, Neiman Gracie faces Javier Torres, Rafael Lavato Jr. vs. John Salter, and more.
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