Hello, fight fans, and welcome to this week’s edition of the Monday MMA Round-Up, where we look back at the week that was and look forward to the week that is in the world of MMA. Today, we recap UFC On ESPN 11 and look forward to UFC On ESPN 12, the fifth straight week of UFC action. There wasn’t much news this week, so let’s dig right in.
Looking Back At UFC On ESPN 11
- If you haven’t seen the fight between Josh Emmett and Shane Burgos, it is a must-watch fight. It is the second best fight that has happened this year, and the best men’s fight of the year. The amount of punishment that Burgos was able to withstand is amazing, and an amazing performance from Emmett after blowing out his knee in the first 45 seconds.
- Featherweight is the most fun division to watch in the UFC right now, and is so easy to book. You can literally put the name of every 145-pounder on the roster, throw them into a hat, draw out two names, and you have a great match-up.
- Curtis Blaydes. Well, he did exactly what he said he was going to do in rag-dolling Alexander Volkov. Blaydes isn’t the most exciting fighter to watch, and the majority of his fights would be considered boring. He knows how to win, he is a strong wrestler, and a good fighter. He’s not someone I would want to pay to watch, which hurts his standing for a title shot.
- It was very nice to see a UFC couple, Raquel Pennington and Tecia Torres, score UFC wins on the same night. Torres looked the best she ever has in the UFC and seemed on a mission to show she is way better than those four straight losses showed. Kudos to them as well for suggesting, and Dana White for approving, the fighter names on the fight shorts be in rainbow color to celebrate Pride Month. That was a great touch.
- Props to Lyman Good for becoming the first fighter to suffer from COVID to return to action, and extra props for fighting so close after the death of his father. His fight with Belal Muhammad was really good, and even though Good came up on the wrong end, getting back to action after everything that has happened has to feel like a small victory.
- Jim Miller. What else is there to say? He keeps finding ways to win after 35 UFC fights, and looks to be as good as ever at age 37. Despite having to yet fight for a UFC title, and despite never being a pay-per-view headliner, Miller absolutely deserves a spot in the UFC Hall Of Fame. He is still such a pleasure to watch.
- Max Rohskopf telling the referee he didn’t want to continue after telling his coach, Robert Drysdale, NINE times that he was done, was the right move. Drysdale should’ve never sent him back out, and it again highlights the fact that sometimes coaches don’t have the best interests of their fighters.
— Spinnin Backfist (@SpinninBackfist) June 20, 2020
- Dana White’s Contender Series is going to return in August after a delay due to the pandemic. I must admit that I’m surprised that it is returning so soon, because there’s been a lot of instances where they’ve needed short-notice replacements, and they’ve used fighters that were planned to be on the show as those, such as Rohskopf, Brandon Royval, Anthony Ivy and Christian Aguilera.
- While they haven’t officially announced where events will be held after August 1, all of the August events are scheduled to be at the UFC APEX, including UFC 252, headlined by Stipe Miocic against Daniel Cormier. Here’s an interesting twist to that: Miocic doesn’t want to fight in the small Octagon, which is what is set up at the APEX. It can’t be changed out, because all of the production set-up is for the small Octagon, and switching to the 30-foot cage would require extensive renovation. It’ll be interesting to see what happens, and it wouldn’t shock me if the fight is currently in the stage of “might not happen.”
- The Ultimate Fighter is returning, and Israel Adesanya and Paulo Costa are slated to coach it. They were slated to fight in August, but Dana White is adamant on the show returning, and this is his best option for coaches. The format hopefully will be tweaked, but I’m not sure it should come back given the success of the Contender Series. But, TUF holds a special place in Dana’s heart, and it will always be around.
- Costa signed a new deal to coach TUF, but it isn’t a huge money contract. There are lots of guys signing new deals, but they aren’t fighters who are getting paid huge money. Which just further shows that the company is willing to spend some money, but not chunks of money on getting the top fighters to fight. Again, it benefits them more than it benefits the fanbase.
- They announced all four of the cards that will be taking place on Fight Island in Yas Island, Abu Dhabi. The fight I’m most interested in is the 7/25 headliner between Robert Whittaker and Darren Till.
Here are some fights I think should be made following UFC On ESPN 11:
- Curtis Blaydes vs. Derrick Lewis-Aleksei Oleinik winner
- Alexander Volkov vs. Walt Harris
- Josh Emmett vs. Calvin Kattar-Dan Ige winner
- Shane Burgos vs. Edson Barboza
- Raquel Pennington vs. Sara McMann
- Belal Muhammad vs. Claudio Silva
- Jim Miller vs. Bobby Green
- Tecia Torres vs. Angela Hill
- Lauren Murphy vs. Cynthia Calvillo
Coming Up This Week
The UFC is back at the UFC APEX in Las Vegas for the fifth straight week, this time for UFC On ESPN 12. The card is headlined by a lightweight bout between Dustin Poirier and Dan Hooker. That has the potential to be one of the best fights of the year, and is an absolute home run in matchmaking. Also on the card is Mike Perry vs. Mickey Gall, which is still on despite Perry posting a video showing cuts all over his face and hands, Brendan Allen vs. Kyle Daukaus, and Gian Villante vs. Maurice Green. This is a card that has a stellar main event, but not a ton of depth underneath, and has gone through a lot of changes and cancellations over the past week or two. The main card kicks off at 8 PM ET, with prelims starting at 5 PM ET, and all fights airing on ESPN and simulcast on ESPN+.
There is also Titan FC 61, airing on Friday at 7 PM eastern time on UFC Fight Pass, as well as a few small regional shows.
This Week In MMA History
Normally in this section, I would highlight an event or moment that captured the attention of the MMA world. This week is the anniversary of two of the greatest one-round fights in MMA history, so we must take a look at two fights in particular.
On June 23, 2002, Pride FC presented Pride 21: Demolition. The main event of the show was arguably the greatest fight in Pride history, which was the classic brawl between Don Frye and Yoshihiro Takayama. These two just kept swinging at each other, and the moment that sticks out the most was when they were in a clinch with both men just pounding away on each other. Frye took the win in one of the most memorable fights in MMA history.
June 26, 2011 saw the UFC debut in Pittsburgh for UFC On Versus 4, which went through a lot of last-minute changes that ended up with a main event of Cheick Kongo vs. Pat Barry. Those two delivered in a classic one-round brawl. They were throwing big punches at each other and rocking each other. Barry then rocked Kongo badly and Kongo was having trouble standing, walking around on shaky legs. As Barry started to come in to try and land one more punch to end it, Kongo hit him with a short uppercut that knocked Barry out cold in one of the most memorable knockouts in UFC history.