Hello, fight fans, and welcome to this week’s edition of the Monday MMA Round-Up, looking back at the week that was in the sport of MMA. It was a big week with UFC 251 going down on UFC Fight Island, and there is another big week of fights ahead, so let us dive right in.
Looking Back At UFC 251
- First off, UFC 251 ended up being a great show. It’s not one of the best shows they’ve ever put on like many were hoping, but still a great night.
- It ended up being hurt by the main event turning into a bland fight. It was tough putting Kamaru Usman and Jorge Masvidal in that situation after everything they went through, and they didn’t have the fight many were hoping. That’s okay, because Usman did what he needed to do to get the win, and Masvidal has everyone praising him because they knew he wasn’t fully prepared.
- I would like to see the fight again on an even playing ground, with both men having a chance to fully prepare for one another, and in a better setting. I think it would be a better fight.
- You have to give a ton of props to Usman. The guy flew to Las Vegas on a Thursday, took a COVID test and quarantined, was preparing to fly to Abu Dhabi on the chartered flight on Friday before being pulled, flew back to his home in Dallas on Saturday, flew back to Las Vegas on Sunday, took another COVID test and quarantined again, and then flew 15 hours on the chartered flight on Monday. That is going to take a toll on anyone, so anyone complaining about how he performed, just look at everything he had to go through.
- I’m not sure there is a welterweight right now who could beat Usman. I think his best challenger is Bellator’s Douglas Lima, and that fight is never going to happen. There are two guys I see on the UFC roster who have a shot, and they are Geoff Neal and Abdul Razak Alhassan. The question is whether either two will ever get there. In the case of Neal, it’s because no one wants to fight him. Everyone knows how dangerous he is. That sounds a lot like Usman when he was working his way up. In the case of Alhassan, he and Usman are close friends and sometimes train together, plus he is 34 and has had a lot of inactivity due to issues outside of the Octagon, which those may end up hurting him if he reaches a certain level.
— UFC (@ufc) July 13, 2020
- I hope this doesn’t hurt Masvidal’s popularity. He made himself into arguably the second-biggest UFC star at the moment, with a lot of help from a huge marketing push by ESPN, and he still has lots of value. I hope he doesn’t get into further contract disputes and he keeps a regular fight schedule.
- I had Max Holloway beating Alexander Volkanovski, as did the majority of people. It was not a robbery, but still feels like the wrong decision. It is hard saying Volkanovski is the best featherweight without having a decisive win in the rematch.
- I would like to see Volkanovski vs. Holloway for a third time, but it needs to be a year from now. They should each fight one other time before going back to it. It’s one of those trilogies where one guy has won twice, but you know the other guy might just be the better fighter.
- Petr Yan deserves credit for putting a beating on Jose Aldo after two close rounds, but watching that, I don’t feel Yan is truly the best bantamweight in the world. He may have the belt, but that is a wild division right now.
- There is something wrong with the matchmaking if Aljamain Sterling isn’t the first challenger for Yan. Dana White wouldn’t commit to it, and that is wrong. Sterling might actually be the best bantamweight in the world.
- I don’t know where you go with Aldo now. It’s weird to not see him fight for a title, but the days of him being in title fights are more than likely gone.
- Rose Namajunas seemed to have regained her passion for MMA. She’s always such an unknown because it often feels like her next fight will be her last, even when she ends up coming back. She looked great against Jessica Andrade, and she talked about wanting to fight again this year. That is a comment you rarely hear from her, and it was great to hear.
- The judge who scored that fight for Andrade should never be allowed to judge again.
- Amanda Ribas is going to be a star in the sport. She has so much energy and it is impossible to not like her. Plus, she is extremely talented. I’m anxious to see what they do with her from here on out.
- Bellator, Paige VanZant is all yours. That was as bad as someone can look heading into free agency. It’s why the UFC matched her up with Ribas. They knew they had no interest in keeping her, and the feeling was likely mutual. VanZant has regressed as a fighter since leaving Team Alpha Male, and that can be attributed to a number of reasons, including the recurring arm injury she has been dealing with. It is best for both sides to move on.
- Jiri Prochazka is going to be a force in the UFC. He feels differently than a lot of light heavyweights, and I have no issues with how he acts inside the Octagon. He has ridiculous power. Count me as someone who wants to see him against Jon Jones one day.
- I was super impressed with how the first week went in Abu Dhabi for UFC Fight Island. I get that the company took some criticism when it was revealed they actually didn’t spend much, if any money to put on the show, since the Abu Dhabi government paid for everything. That is a good thing considering what is going on, because it ensures the government has control over everything to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. I have no issues with this, and I think anyone who does should look at the bigger picture.
- With everything involving international travel and overseas fighters having trouble getting to the US, they’re going to continue to need Fight Island, which is also a good thing. The talk has been of them returning in September or October, but October is more likely since September is going to be pretty busy with the Contender Series going on in Las Vegas, and the need for key people to be in Vegas makes going back-and-forth impossible because of the bubble situation. Either way, having an entire month of fights dedicated to one location is good right now until the world gets back to some normalcy.
- There is talk that Bellator will be returning on July 25, but as of this writing (7:00 AM on July 13) there has yet to be an announcement. If they are coming back in 12 days, they have to announce something soon.
- The PFL should really let the fighters they still have under contract explore their options for getting a deal elsewhere. They’re holding up fighters from making money, and they all have yet to even receive a stipend they were promised months ago. Speaking of the stipend, word is that it will only be $1,000 a month, which is a huge slap in the face. Over the course of a year, that is less than what a fighter would receive for an entry-level UFC deal, and many could get better than that. Either put on events like everyone else is, or let the fighters go.
Fights To Make After UFC 251
Here are the fights I would like to see made following UFC 251:
- Kamaru Usman vs. Leon Edwards
- Jorge Masvidal vs. Nate Diaz 2
- Alexander Volkanovski vs. Chan Sung Jung
- Max Holloway vs. Calvin Kattar/Dan Ige winner
- Petr Yan vs. Aljamain Sterling
- Jose Aldo vs. Dominick Cruz
- Rose Namajunas vs. Zhang Weili
- Jessica Andrade vs. Joanna Jedrzejczyk 2
- Amanda Ribas vs. Carla Esparza/Marina Rodriguez winner
- Jiri Prochazka vs. Nikita Krylov
- Muslim Salikhov vs. Belal Muhammad
- Makwan Amirkhani vs. Kron Gracie
Coming Up This Week
This is another big week for the UFC on Fight Island, as they will bring us two shows from Abu Dhabi.
First up is UFC Fight Night: Kattar vs. Ige on Wednesday. That event airs entirely on ESPN, with the main card at 10PM eastern time and the prelims at 7PM eastern time, with both also being simulcast on ESPN+. The main event is Calvin Kattar against Dan Ige in what should be a great fight. The rest of the main card sees Tim Elliott vs. Ryan Benoit, Jimmie Rivera vs. Cody Stamann, Molly McCann vs. Taila Santos, and Abdul Razak Alhassan vs. Mounir Lazzez.
On Saturday, it will be UFC Fight Night: Figueiredo vs. Benavidez 2. The main card of that event streams on ESPN+ at 8PM eastern time, with the prelims airing on both ESPN and ESPN+ at 5PM eastern time. The vacant UFC Flyweight Championship is on the line again in the main event as they run it back with Deiveson Figueiredo against Joseph Benavidez. In the co-main event, it is a great middleweight bout as Jack Hermansson takes on Kelvin Gastelum. Rounding out the main card is Marc Diakiese vs. Rafael Fiziev, Ariane Lipski vs. Luana Carolina and Alexandre Pantoja vs. Askar Askarov.
There is another LFA show airing on UFC Fight Pass on Friday as LFA 85 streams at 9PM eastern time. There is also lots of regional action taking place as the sport of MMA ramps up even more during the pandemic.
This Week In MMA History
July 19, 2008 felt like something was happening in the world of MMA. Pride was long gone, Strikeforce existed but was still running small events, Elite XC existed but would be done in just less than four months later, and the UFC was all the rage (and they already had the WEC under Zuffa control).
Affliction, which was a big-time clothing company that catered to the MMA fanbase, decided they would get into the MMA promotion business, and they held their first event on July 19, 2008, with Affliction: Banned taking place in Anaheim, California. It was an ambitious debut as they went on pay-per-view, which ended up being a good success.
The main event of the show saw Fedor Emelianenko submit Tim Sylvia in just 36 seconds. Also on the show, Andrei Arlovski knocked out Ben Rothwell and Josh Barnett knocked out Pedro Rizzo. It was a memorable event for a lot of reasons, and the UFC went as far as running a show against it. It felt like it was going to be a fun new promotion, which sadly ended up not being the case as they ran just one more event before eventually folding after a planned third event fell apart.
You can watch Affliction: Banned on UFC Fight Pass here: https://ufcfightpass.com/video/29984.