Hello, fight fans, and welcome to this week’s edition of the Monday MMA Round-Up, where I give thoughts on the week that was and the week that is ahead in the world of mixed martial arts. We are coming off of just a single UFC event this past week, but this week is ramping up to be a busy week, so let’s dive right in.
Thoughts On The Week
- Derek Brunson finally got past being the stepping stone for a young, rising prospect when he put away Edmen Shahbazyan in the third round of Saturday night’s main event. He weathered the big first-round storm that Shahbazyan put on him, unlike he was able to do in his fights against Robert Whittaker and Israel Adesanya, and showed his veteran instincts in dominating the rest of the fight. Brunson, who was looked at as a gatekeeper at 185 pounds, is now on a three-fight win streak and is on his best run in quite some time.
- Shahbazyan’s big chance to break out didn’t go as planned, but the future is still bright for the 22-year-old. He has a tremendous amount of talent and will bounce back. I don’t feel like this was rushing him too fast; Brunson was the right opponent and a real benchmark of where you stand at 185 pounds.
- Joanne Calderwood’s risking of her title shot didn’t pay off, and it’s going to be something that haunts her for a long time. I get needing to stay active and receive a paycheck because she hasn’t fought since September and it was looking like November before Valentina Shevchenko would be ready to return from surgery, but title shots can be hard to come by, and she may never be in this position again. I wouldn’t have done it, but I also understand the monetary aspect.
- Jennifer Maia’s win over Calderwood was impressive, but I’m not sure she should be getting a title shot next. She might be getting it by default because Shevchenko is now in need of a challenger and there’s few options, but this was the first time in three fights that Maia made weight. I would want to see her make weight one more time so there could be more confidence in her making it and not ruining a title fight.
- Vicente Luque continues to impress in the welterweight division, as his win over Randy Brown moves him to 8-1 in his last nine fights, with seven of those wins by stoppage. He is someone who is tough to book at 170 pounds. Many of the top guys in the division turn down fights against lower-ranked opponents, and they see Luque as dangerous. Luque also seems to have hit a plateau, as every time he moves up the rankings, he loses to someone ranked higher as his last two losses have come to Stephen Thompson and Leon Edwards. Luque is a guy you can count on for a fun fight, and he does keep improving.
- The fight between Bobby Green and Lando Vannata was an excellent fight, and it was nice to finally see Green put together three convincing round wins. He is someone who leaves it in the hands of the judges, and his style can make it hard to score his fights, and he’s been on the wrong end of some bad calls. It was nice to finally see a right call made here.
- Green and Vannata have now fought twice, and have two Fight Of The Night bonuses. They are both exciting, and you could match these guys up once a year and expect a fun fight.
- Man, this card was cursed. We were supposed to have eleven fights, but when all was said and done, there were only eight fights. It made for a quick event as it lasted just over four hours, and I can’t remember a UFC show going by that fast.
- You have to feel for Kevin Holland, who had his fight cancelled while he was waiting to get the signal for his walkout. He actually found out his fight with Trevin Giles was cancelled while he was watching a TV monitor backstage, when he found out Giles fainted and was out of the fight. Holland is a guy who wants to fight every week, and you could tell he was crushed during his time with the media.
- You also have to feel for Gerald Meerschaert. He was taking a fight on short notice and everything looked good to go with him as he passed all of his COVID-19 tests until Friday. He passed his tests and everyone is supposed to be locked inside their rooms for the most part when inside a fight week bubble. He said he was healthy and feeling no symptoms when he failed the test, so hopefully he is able to return soon.
- I was surprised when the UFC announced that Robert Whittaker and Jared Cannonier would fight in October. I didn’t expect Whittaker to fight that soon again, and I was expecting them to keep Cannonier on the sidelines to fight the winner between Israel Adesanya and Paulo Costa.
- I’m not surprised that Khabib Nurmagomedov decided to come back in October. I wouldn’t have blamed him for not fighting this year, but that is not in his mentality, and I think he feels he can best honor his father by fighting and defending his title.
Here are some fights I would make following UFC On ESPN+ 31:
- Derek Brunson vs. Jack Hermansson
- Edmen Shahbazyan vs. Antonio Carlos Junior
- Jennifer Maia vs. Lauren Murphy
- Joanne Calderwood vs. Cortney Casey
- Vicente Luque vs. Geoff Neal-Neil Magny winner
- Bobby Green vs. Jim Miller
Coming Up This Week
The UFC holds another event this week as UFC On ESPN+ 32 takes place on Saturday. The entire event will stream on ESPN+, with the main card at 9 PM eastern time and the prelims starting at 6 PM eastern time. Derrick Lewis takes on Aleksei Oleinik in the main event. Other main card fights include Omari Akhmedov vs. Chris Weidman, Maki Pitolo vs. Darren Stewart, Yana Kunitskaya vs. Julija Stoliarenko, and Beneil Dariush vs. Scott Holtzman.
Bellator is back this week with Bellator 243 on Friday, airing at 10 PM eastern time on the Paramount Network. Michael Chandler battles Benson Henderson in the main event. Other main card fights are Matt Mitrione vs. Tim Johnson, Myles Jury vs. Georgi Karakhanyan and Curtis Millender vs. Sabah Homasi. The prelims feature the return of Valerie Loureda as she takes on Tara Graff.
Dana White’s Contender Series is back this week for the first show of the season, airing on ESPN+ on Tuesday at 8 PM eastern time. Ten fighters will be competing to impress Dana White and matchmakers Sean Shelby and Mick Maynard in hopes of earning a contract to fight in the UFC.
This Week In MMA History
On August 7, 2010, one of the all-time great UFC title fights took place in Oakland, California, and one of the biggest upsets of all-time almost happened, but instead one of the greatest comebacks in UFC history was witnessed.
The then Oracle Arena was the site of UFC 117 on this day, which was headlined by UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva defending against Chael Sonnen in an anticipated fight. There was tons of trash talk coming into the show courtesy of Sonnen, who built the fight up into a huge deal. He almost delivered on his talk as he dominated Silva throughout four rounds, and was looking at a clear decision win when in the fifth round, Silva found a triangle choke and Sonnen was forced to tap, cementing one of the greatest comebacks in UFC history.
Also on the show, Jon Fitch beat Thiago Alves, Clay Guida defeated Rafael Dos Anjos, Matt Hughes submitted Ricardo Almeida, and Junior Dos Santos scored a decision win over Roy Nelson. It was one of the more successful shows of 2010 for the UFC as it garnered 600,000 buys on pay-per-view, which exceeded expectations going in.
You can watch the UFC 117 main card on UFC Fight Pass here: https://ufcfightpass.com/video/70960?playlistId=1856.