The main event of UFC on Fox 20 was a big one as former UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion Holly Holm (10-1) returned to action for the 1st time since her loss to Miesha Tate at UFC 196. Her opponent was famed kickboxer and #7 ranked Women’s Bantamweight Valentina Shevchenko (12-2). Holm came into the fight looking to prove that she’s still one of the best fighters in the division and take a step towards taking back the division title. Shevchenko was looking to bounce back from a loss to current champion Amanda Nunes and to showcase her devastating striking game. The women took center stage looking for a win that could propel them directly into the heart of the title picture.
No touch of gloves to start with as both fighters began to circle. Holm opened up with a side kick to the leg of Schevchenko and darted right back out again. Shevchenko looked to be having issues with the range difference early as Holm used her leg kicks to her advantage. Shevchenko landed a leg kick of her own and countered with a right hook as Holm came forward. Holm landed a leg kick and Shevchenko connected with a jab. Holm dropped her with a hard left hand but Schevchenko recovered fairly quickly. Holm continued to look for the leg kicks to set up her punches and it seemed to be effective but Shevchenko caught her a few times with a counter right hook. Both fighters traded kicks and then they clinched before Shevchenko landed a huge throw to take Holm down. Holm popped back to her feet immediately and began to land knees to the midsection as they clinched against the cage. Holm then began to knee the inside of the left leg of Shevchenko. They separated and ended the round circling each other in the center of the octagon.
Both fighters again started the round gauging range and looking for openings. Leg kicks again appeared to be the gameplan for both fighters as they traded them several times. Shevchenko barely missed with a big axe kick. Neither fighter looked to be particularly aggressive in the 1st 2 minutes of the round until Shevchenko went for a takedown that was stuffed by Holm. Shevchenko landed a right hand that appeared to stumble Holm a bit and followed it up with a jab and a counter right hook. Shevchenko threw a clean spinning back fist but Holm blocked it and landed a side kick to the body. They again traded leg kicks before Shevchenko landed a right hand and a big left hand that appeared to stun Holm for a second. Shevchenko really started to look comfortable with her kicks and her jab as the round went on, landing more and more of them. Holm missed with a head kick but Shevchenko stumbled when she went to throw a kick of her own. Shevchenko again threw a spinning back fist as she was hit by a leg kick from Holm. Shevchenko landed a final hook as the round ended.
The 3rd round opened with an immediate exchange of leg kicks by both fighters. There was a noticeable redness on the lead leg of both fighters. Shevchenko threw a spinning back fist at the same time as Holm threw a superman punch, neither fighter connected. They circled again and Shevchenko threw a superman punch of her own that missed. They exchanged punches and Shevchenko caught a kick from Holm and took her down with it. They immediately stood back up but Holm was now bleeding from a small cut. Shevchenko again tripped Holm to the ground into half-guard. Shevchenko began to look to advance her position but there wasn’t much action from either fighter while they were on the ground. Shevchenko began to throw short punches and some knees to the body but the crowd began to get restless at the lack of action. Shevchenko began to throw some short elbows that connected to the cut on Holm’s right eyebrow as the round ended.
Both fighters started out slow once again. They exchanged jabs and Holm landed a side-kick to the body and Shevchenko responded with another leg kick. There came another body kick from Holm after a missed spinning body kick by Shevchenko but Shevchenko landed a solid combination. Shevchenko just missed with a wheel kick to the head and Holm responded with a leg kick. Shevchenko began to find a consistent home for her right hook, landing it repeatedly and following it up with a left hand. Holm looked to feint and land a counterpunch but Shevchenko hit with another leg kick instead. Holm kept just missing with her combinations but Shevchenko missed with a takedown attempt. Shevchenko caught a kick and went for the takedown but Holm stuffed it and landed a solid kick to the body. A superman punch missed but leg kick landed by Shevchenko. Shevchenko connected with a jab, took a leg kick but responded with a good combination of punches and an inside leg kick to end the round.
Shevchenko opened the round with a leg kick. They exchanged punches but Shevchenko appeared to get the better of the combo exchange. A leg kick by Shevchenko is answered by a jab from Holm. Shevchenko connected with an overhand left and followed it with a 1-2 combination. Holm came in aggressively but ate a right-hand counter from Shevchenko. There was a big combination exchange and a failed takedown attempt by Shevchenko. Shevchenko landed a wheel kick and then a counter right and Holm didn’t look like she could find her rhythm. They exchanged leg kicks again before a missed punch by Holm led to a counter from Shevchenko. Holm landed a body kick and a leg kick of her own but kept eating counter punches from Shevchenko. Holm began to step up her aggression in the final minute but Shevchenko didn’t back down an inch and continued to look for her counters. Shevchenko landed 2 quick right hands and Holm landed a leg kick as the fight came to an end.
Winner by Unanimous Decision: Valentina Shevchenko (49-46, 49-46, 49-46)
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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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