Hello, fight fans, and welcome to this week’s edition of the Monday MMA Round-Up. The UFC has wrapped up their five events in five weeks stretch at the UFC APEX in Las Vegas, capped off with one of the best fights of the year. It is time for a week off, but there is still plenty going on in the sport, so let’s look back at the week that was.
Looking Back At UFC On ESPN 12 & Other News
- Dustin Poirier vs. Dan Hooker was my personal most anticipated fight during the five-week stretch of fights, and it delivered far more than I expected. It was an absolute instant classic, one of the best fights of the year, and perhaps one of the best fights in UFC history. If you missed it, it is a must-watch fight, so find a replay.
- Poirier always finds himself in exciting fights, and he might even still be underrated as crazy as that sounds. If it weren’t for the fact that the lightweight division is so deep, he could easily be the top guy in the division. The big knock in the past has always been he can’t win the big one, but he’s gotten over that hump. Also, he is absolutely one of the best people in the sport, and an excellent role model.
- In a perfect world, Poirier’s next fight would be against Conor McGregor. If they were ever going to fight again, now would be the perfect time, and it would establish a legitimate top contender at 155 pounds. However, McGregor won’t ever fight someone he previously beat for a second time, so the chances it’ll ever happen are probably 0.2%. I have a feeling Poirier is going to be fighting Tony Ferguson next, perhaps late this year or early next year.
- You have to give props to Hooker as he has been in two of the top five fights this year. It was going to be hard to top his incredible war with Paul Felder in February, but it happened. His biggest issue is he started to fade in the third round of both fights. He was able to do enough late to beat Felder, but Poirier battered him over the last three rounds. There’s still room for improvement, and he still could find himself in the title picture if he comes back with two wins.
- Mike Perry. I don’t know what to say about the guy. Every time he fights, it feels like an adventure. He took a ton of criticism for having his girlfriend as the only person in his corner, but it worked. This time, at least. Mickey Gall doesn’t have the experience that many fighters do, and if Perry doesn’t add more to his corner, I’m not sure the success can continue.
- The Brendan Allen vs. Kyle Daukaus fight was tremendous. If it weren’t for the main event, that would have been Fight Of The Night. Allen looks like a future title contender at 185 pounds, and Daukaus has tons of potential.
- Huge props to Julian Erosa, who fought on just a few days’ notice and pulled off the upset of Sean Woodson. Woodson had a lot of momentum and was undefeated coming in, and Erosa weathered the storm to find the finish in the third round. This is Erosa’s third UFC stint and first UFC win since 2016.
- Takashi Sato’s quick win over Jason Witt was a feel good moment. Sato lost his father in February, and was planning to dedicate his fight then to his father. However, the fight was cancelled during weigh-ins, and Sato was left without a fight until just a couple of weeks ago. It was a great way to honor his father.
- Khama Worthy, Tanner Boser and Kay Hansen all scored impressive wins during the prelims. Worthy, in particular, is a fighter to keep an eye on, and Hansen will continue to improve as she is only 20.
- Paige VanZant was doing the media rounds this past week, and her upcoming fight against Amanda Ribas will be her last in the UFC. While there is always a chance she could re-sign, I find it highly unlikely. Bellator has wanted her ever since they signed her husband, and they will overpay to get her. The UFC doesn’t need VanZant, who doesn’t fight on a regular schedule anyways and that has lost her favor within the company. The fact that they put her against Ribas, someone who they want to build and should be heavily favored, shows that they want to send her into free agency on a loss.
- Jon Jones and Jorge Masvidal both coming out talking this past week indicates to me that they will likely fight before the year is up. I’d put my money on Masvidal fighting sooner than Jones, but they seem to be closer to returning than they were a week or two ago. Their manager, Malki Kawa, is supposed to meet with UFC brass any day now, and I expect a lot of issues to get smoothed over there.
- Still no official word about a return for Bellator. They were originally going to return early-to-mid July, but now it could be late July or even August before they come back. They have fights in the works, but a location is still being secured. They also have to deal with the issue of getting international fighters into the US and securing visas, which has wreaked havoc for the UFC lately. Bellator also doesn’t have the luxury of having a deal with an overseas country, which complicates things more, and they rely on a lot of international talent to fill their cards.
- While it has been fun having weekly fights on ESPN, with both the return of the MLB and the NBA, fight cards will be returning to ESPN+ shortly. The 8/1 and 8/8 shows will all be on ESPN+ as NBA games will be dominating the ESPN schedule.
Matchmaking After UFC On ESPN 12
Here are the fights I would like to see following this past weekend’s UFC On ESPN 12 event:
- Dustin Poirier vs. Tony Ferguson
- Dan Hooker vs. Charles Oliveira
- Mike Perry vs. Michel Pereira
- Maurice Greene vs. Tanner Boser
- Brendan Allen vs. Ian Heinisch
- Khama Worthy vs. Thiago Moises
- Kay Hansen vs. Mackenzie Dern
Coming Up This Week
The UFC has a week off for the July 4th holiday before heading to Abu Dhabi for four events on Fight Island.
Invicta Fighting Championships returns for the first time since the pandemic started as Invicta FC 40 takes place on Thursday from Kansas City, Kansas, airing on UFC Fight Pass. Emily Ducote takes on Juliana Lima in the main event.
This Week In MMA History
On July 3, 2010, the UFC held one of their best pay-per-views in company history at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, with UFC 116. It was a much-anticipated event as UFC Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar was making his long-awaited return to battle Interim UFC Heavyweight Champion Shane Carwin in a title unification bout.
Carwin got off to a hot start in the first round, pounding away on Lesnar and nearly finishing him a couple of times. Lesnar was able to weather the storm and survive the first. The second round was a whole other story as Carwin was gassed after the first. Lesnar took him down in the second before securing an arm-triangle choke to score the win and become the undisputed champion.
The co-main event was one of the best fights of 2010 as Chris Leben and Yoshihiro Akiyama had a war that was won by Leben in the third round. Also on the card, Chris Lytle beat Matt Brown, Stephan Bonnar defeated Krzysztof Soszynski, and George Sotiropoulos scored a win over Kurt Pellegrino.
The show did 1,160,000 buys on pay-per-view, one of the highest in UFC history. The event won Best Major Show in the 2010 Wrestling Observer Newsletter Awards, the only UFC event to ever win that award. Also in the WON Awards, Leben vs. Akiyama finished third and Lesnar vs. Carwin finished fourth in Fight Of The Year.
You can watch the UFC 116 main card on UFC Fight Pass here: https://ufcfightpass.com/video/71423?playlistId=1856.