Welcome to our weekly edition of the Monday MMA Round-Up. There was several big news items this week, and the UFC ran at the UFC APEX in Las Vegas for the third straight week with UFC On ESPN 10. Let’s dive into what happened over the past week.
Looking Back At UFC On ESPN 10
- We’ll start this off with the official announcement of UFC 251 and Fight Island being Yas Island in Abu Dhabi. Of course, if you read this, you already knew the location weeks ago. The card is really strong with three title fights, but to be honest, the main event between Kamaru Usman and Gilbert Burns is underwhelming. It’s not to discredit Burns, who has quickly moved up the rankings. But, you just look at the fight and you know Burns isn’t supposed to be there, that it is supposed to be Jorge Masvidal, but contract disputes have hurt the situation. You can claim Burns is “the #1 ranked contender”, but he really shouldn’t be there. In full disclosure, I vote in the UFC Rankings, and I don’t have him as number one.
- The situation between Masvidal and the UFC isn’t getting any better. They offered him the title fight late Monday night before the announcement of UFC 251 on Tuesday, and they offered him the same amount of money he made for the fight against Nate Diaz. It was clear the UFC was still wanting that fight and looking to soften the stand-off between the two, but the damage had already been done. Masvidal claimed it was a “take it or leave it” offer, which if that were the case, knowing Masvidal, he doesn’t take those types of threats lightly. I really hope the situation gets resolved and we see Masvidal back before the end of the year.
I already explained why I signed a new deal. It’s either take it or leave it and not get paid. I would’ve signed another deal if it was done in good faith. He called me night before he wants to announce and tell me take or it leave it. That’s not negotiating that’s strong arming
— Jorge Masvidal UFC (@GamebredFighter) June 14, 2020
- Not to give the UFC and Dana White another problem, but it came out on Sunday that Amanda Nunes is now contemplating retirement. That would be a massive blow to the company, but I don’t expect it to happen. Would it surprise me if it did? Not at all, but Nunes is probably feeling the joy of upcoming motherhood and that is her main focus, and fighting is currently an afterthought. I don’t expect her to fight again this year, but I fully expect to see her again.
- The UFC Heavyweight Championship fight between Stipe Miocic and Daniel Cormier is finally official for August 15. There is no location announced, but it will likely be at the UFC APEX in Las Vegas, where the company will return in August after four shows on Fight Island. There is an outside chance the fight could be held in an arena with fans in attendance if things get cleared up, but Dana White said he doesn’t want to go back to running with fans unless an arena can be full. Of course, I don’t believe him there, because for a company consumed with making as much money as possible, some gate is better than no gate.
- The issues with the UFC and fighters regarding pay aren’t getting any better. This is the most attention the fighter pay has gotten in years, and perhaps ever. The public is now aware of the issues with Masvidal, Conor McGregor, Jon Jones, Henry Cejudo, and countless others, and are now well aware what is keeping them from seeing their favorite fighters compete. If I’m the UFC, I would want to resolve this as quickly as possible, because it’s a slap in the face to the fans.
- The visa issues with Dan Hooker have been cleared, and now we are less than two weeks away from a five-round fight between him and Dustin Poirier. Everyone should be excited for that fight.
- Onto this past Saturday’s UFC On ESPN 10 card, which wasn’t deep on paper, but was a very solid show.
- I will say the main event between Cynthia Calvillo and Jessica Eye was about what I expected, and that wasn’t a very fun fight to watch. It wasn’t horrible, it was just okay, but definitely ended up being the weak link on the card.
- I’m not surprised there were weight issues with Eye, who missed weight for the second straight time. She has had a difficult time moving back down to 125 pounds, and while she didn’t miss up until these past two fights, it’s not a good sign. I will give her a slide on this one, though, because the fight was made on less than three weeks’ notice, which is way less than ideal.
- Calvillo looked good in the win, and she is clearly a favorite of Dana White, who was already talking about her being a fight away from a title shot. I think she’s more than a fight away, but a good run would give Valentina Shevchenko a fresh challenger.
- Fighters who were impressive on the night include Marvin Vettori, Andre Fili, Mariya Agapova, Tyson Nam, Julia Avila and Merab Dvalishvili.
- If I’m a UFC bantamweight, the one fighter I’m avoiding right now is Merab Dvalishvili. He wants Sean O’Malley, which I’m 100% sure won’t happen. He is a dangerous opponent for anyone. I do feel bad for him, though, because he is teammates and close friends with Aljamain Sterling, so that might hurt his title hopes.
- I want the smaller Octagon kept around. It makes the fights feel better, even if they may not be at times. I know the bigger Octagon will be back when Fight Island comes around, but they should use the smaller one more often.
- ONE Championship claimed it added $70 million in capital to bring their total capital to $346 million. I don’t really believe that at all, and ONE likes to exaggerate things.
Fights To Make After UFC On ESPN 10
- Cynthia Calvillo vs. Katlyn Chookagian
- Jessica Eye vs. Montana De La Rosa
- Marvin Vettori vs. Krzysztof Jotko
- Andre Fili vs. Hakeem Dawodu
- Jordan Espinosa vs. Tyson Nam
- Merab Dvalishvili vs. Cody Stamann
Coming Up This Week
The UFC is back for the fourth straight week at the UFC APEX in Las Vegas with UFC On ESPN 11 on Saturday. It is headlined by a pivotal heavyweight bout as Curtis Blaydes puts his three-fight win streak on the line against Alexander Volkov. Blaydes has claimed that should he win, he will be sitting out until he gets a title shot. Of course, Francis Ngannou is ahead of him, so that could be a long wait.
There is a strong co-main event which sees Josh Emmett take on Shane Burgos, which has the potential to be an absolute barnburner. Also on the main card is Raquel Pennington vs. Marion Reneau, Belal Muhammad vs. Lyman Good, and Jim Miller vs. Roosevelt Roberts. This is a deep show with some solid prelim fights, including Clay Guida vs. Bobby Green, Tecia Torres vs. Brianna Van Buren, and Roxanne Modafferi vs. Lauren Murphy.
Keep an eye on Max Rohskopf, who is making his UFC debut on the show against Austin Hubbard in the opening fight on the prelims. He is 5-0 in his young career, but has been regarded as the top overall prospect in the sport.
This Week In MMA History
On June 20, 2004, Pride Fighting Championships held a notable event, Pride FC: Critical Countdown 2004. It featured the second round of the Pride 2004 Heavyweight Grand Prix, and featured some of the biggest names in Pride FC history on the card.
The main event was a tournament fight between Fedor Emelianenko and Kevin Randleman, which became a famous fight due to the moment where Randleman performed a suplex slam on Emelianenko and dropped him right on his head. The moment has been played in highlight reels for both men over the years. Despite that, Emelianenko would go on to submit Randleman in just 93 seconds.
Other notable fights on the show saw Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira beat Heath Herring and Sergei Kharitonov defeat Semmy Schilt. There was another famous moment in Pride history that occurred on the show, which was Quinton Jackson knocking out Ricardo Arona with a vicious power bomb slam. That also has been played in highlight reels over the years.