By Dave Madden @DMaddenMMA
The belly of ASR Restaurant and Lounge swelled on the evening of January 6th, 2016 when Northern California fight fans converged like peasants into the VIP area, transformed for an hour of intensity into a conference room. Nobody wanted to miss the decree of several of the region’s top MMA dignitaries. Leading into West Coast Fighting (WFC) 16: King of Sacramento, the promotion held a press conference to further enlighten the masses of the stakes at hand in the 916. When the cage door locks behind Nor Cal’s finest on January 23rd, 2016 at the McClellan Conference Center, the individuals, kings or queens, with their hands raised in victory exit the cage with territorial bragging rights and, potentially, could earn an opportunity to march onto the most recognizable canvas in mixed martial arts, the UFC’s. Behind a table at the front of the room were four thrones filled with highly-skilled athletes who claim Capital City pride in their fighting pedigree: Mike Gonzalez, Kito Andrews, Max Griffin, and David Mitchell.
In the main event, David “Bulletproof” Mitchell (19-5), WFC’s middleweight champ, and Max “Pain” Griffin (11-2), WFC’s welterweight champ, meet at a catchweight of 175 pounds for a title pressing more weight on their shoulders than any gold. Eyes firmly on the prize, the air occupied by both Griffin and Mitchell fogged over with tension, and the two appeared eager to cut, break, submit, or turn the lights out on that tension. More important than cutting off the power source of one another, West Coast Fighting acknowledged the chance that Dana White, UFC President, might attend WFC 16’s highly anticipated bout, which means a live-action interview.
Recently, the UFC, via their online membership site: UFC Fight Pass, released: Lookin’ for a Fight. The reality show features Dana White, former UFC welterweight champion and heavyweight MMA personality, Matt Serra, and their whacky companion, Nick the Tooth, traveling around the country in search of the next fighter to invite to the UFC’s Octagon.
For Mitchell, a trip to the UFC would actually be a reunion, as he previously competed under the promotion’s banner on five different occasions. Mitchell would surmise that his last run in the UFC was the wrong time, and a string of struggles forced his exit, though he now claims there is no time like the present.
“I’m on a whole other level, like three levels. I’m going up levels every day. I’m doing things right now that I don’t think any other human being on Earth is doing. I’m ready, not just to win this title and not just to smash Max Griffin; I’m here to go and be a UFC champ. I wouldn’t still be here if God didn’t have something for me in mind.”
Griffin, bred in the WFC promotion, intends on earning his first pass out of the local scene with a win over Mitchell. Crowned in confidence, Griffin refused to back down from confrontation, airing a ‘wait and see’ approach. He repeatedly expressed belief in his training and abilities.
“He [Mitchell] is the same fighter, every time. All of a sudden, he’s posting videos that he runs now.” Turning to look at Mitchell from across the podium, Griffin continued, “You should have been training your hardest. If you’re putting all your chips in, you should always fight like that. All of a sudden, you post some shit on Facebook that you think you’re just going to beat me. You’re trippin’. You look unhealthy. You’re going to San Diego to drink juice to make weight; I’m eating meat. You’re eating nuts and veggies. You’re going to be so weak. You’ll see.”
From top to bottom, the card slated for WFC 16 possesses a vast collection of local talent. Whether watching the event live, or on pay-per-view, you don’t want to be denied access from this MMA kingdom when the bell rings. Everyone at WFC 16 will be looking for something: fans are looking for entertainment; Dana and the UFC, if present, are looking for a fighter; and the men in the main event are desperately looking to spill the royally bad blood between them, sorting out who, in fact, is the King of Sacramento.
Take note of the matchups at WFC 16, and it’s easy to understand why this event has garnered so much attention:
Watch this entertaining pre-fight press conference for yourself:
If you’re in the area, you won’t want to hear about this event in the past tense, get your tickets at:
Aldo vs. Lamas 2 and Ponzinibbio vs. Perry Added to UFC Winnipeg
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.
THIS. CARD. pic.twitter.com/bc4AyNncqy
— UFC (@ufc) October 13, 2017
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
Why the UFC Needs to Introduce 165 and 175-pound Weight Divisions
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
James Gallagher out of Bellator 187 in Dublin due to injury
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.
- Cage Warriors7 days ago
EXCLUSIVE: Matt Inman Talks Cage Warriors 87, His Love For Fighting And Craig White Possibly Tiring Himself Out.
- Bellator2 days ago
Michael Page Not Focusing on Opponent Ahead of Boxing Debut
- British6 days ago
EXCLUSIVE: Jack Shore talks Cage Warriors 87 Opponent Change, Pressure and Being Ready for A Big Opportunity
- News6 days ago
Why the UFC Needs to Introduce 165 and 175-pound Weight Divisions
- Opinion4 days ago
Rafael dos Anjos vs. Robbie Lawler Sets Up Intriguing Title Fight Scenarios
- Interviews1 week ago
No More “Nice Boy” for Norman Parke Ahead of KSW 40
- Bellator6 days ago
Exclusive: Andrey Koreshkov eyeing fight with Rory MacDonald
- Opinion2 days ago
A list of fighters who fought Michael Bisping – while on steroids