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Monday MMA Round-Up: It Wasn’t Pretty – UFC On ESPN+ 33 Wrap-Up

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - AUGUST 29: Aleksandar Rakic of Austria celebrates after his victory over Anthony Smith in their light heavyweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on August 29, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

Hello, fight fans, and welcome to this week’s edition of the Monday MMA Round-Up. After a couple of crazy news weeks, this was a relatively tame week in the world of mixed martial arts. Let’s dive into the recent happenings.

Looking Back At UFC On ESPN+ 33

  • It wasn’t pretty. Aleksandar Rakic did what he needed to do to beat Anthony Smith, but he had a legitimate chance to finish Smith after those hard leg kicks in the first round, and didn’t go for it. He’s still a dangerous fighter, but looked more like someone just trying to win instead of trying to win and look impressive in doing so.
  • It was way too quick for Smith to return after that brutal beating at the hands of Glover Teixeira in May. He should’ve never taken this fight, and his management and team should’ve never let him take this fight. Whatever time he had left in his career has taken a drastic hit in these last two fights.
  • Neil Magny continues to maybe be the most underrated fighter in the sport. He had an impressive win over Robbie Lawler and is a guy who doesn’t get the love he deserves.
  • Robbie Lawler didn’t look that bad against Neil Magny, especially considering he took the fight on two weeks’ notice, but he didn’t look all that great, either. He’s in a tough spot as a former champion and legend in the sport, as his best days are clearly behind him, but he’s still competitive. He needs a big step back in competition to see where he really stands.
  • Alexa Grasso looked good in her flyweight debut and the weight class seems to suit her much better. She is still young and with loads of potential, and if she can get into a rhythm of fighting three times a year, she can quickly get into title contention in a division that lacks title challengers.

  • If that was Ricardo Lamas’ last fight, then it was a great fight to go out on, especially with a win. His chin isn’t what it used to be, and he took some hard shots from Bill Algeo and almost went down, but was able to rally with a big third round. Great showing by Lamas.
  • Sean Brady is going to be a top-ten welterweight in two years. He has all of the tools to be a title threat in the future.
  • Four submissions in the first four fights is always a good way to start a card.
  • There needs to be better protocols for rescheduling of fights after Magomed Ankalaev vs. Ion Cutelaba was cancelled again after Cutelaba tested positive for COVID once again. Two weeks seems to be rushing things, and there are other factors at play when it comes to rescheduling. Cutelaba did test negative for the virus on every test except the Saturday one, which does bring a lot of questions to the forefront. It’s still a learning process every week for everyone involved.
  • While it has yet to be officially announced, UFC 253 on September 26 will be in Abu Dhabi. It will kick off the next round of UFC Fight Island events, which will go for five weeks through UFC 254 on October 24. The UFC hasn’t even applied to hold events in Las Vegas until October 31, when they will return to the UFC APEX.
  • That run in Abu Dhabi could be the final Fight Island run of the year. The issues of getting overseas fighters into the US and getting them visas to fight have been getting better as time has gone by, and may not even be an issue come October.
  • I’m not saying this is going to happen, but with the recent news about more rapid tests becoming more available for everyone, along with possible vaccines and better treatments for the COVID virus being worked on, it would not surprise me if the UFC tries to make an attempt to run a show with fans some time in December.
  • The Tony Ferguson vs. Dustin Poirier fight will actually be at UFC 254 on October 24. They want another big fight for that show, but they also want insurance in case something happens to Khabib Nurmagomedov or Justin Gaethje, and this fight provides both.

Playing Matchmaker

Here are the fights I would make after UFC On ESPN+ 33:

  • Aleksandar Rakic vs. Jiri Prochazka
  • Anthony Smith vs. Nikita Krylov
  • Neil Magny vs. Geoff Neal
  • Robbie Lawler vs. Tim Means
  • Alexa Grasso vs. Jessica Eye
  • Alex Caceres vs. Giga Chikadze
  • Sean Brady vs. Daniel Rodriguez

Coming Up This Week

It may be Labor Day Weekend, but there will still be plenty of action in the world of mixed martial arts.

The UFC runs on Saturday in Las Vegas with UFC On ESPN+ 34 at the UFC APEX. Alistair Overeem takes on Augusto Sakai in the main event. Other main card fights include Ovince Saint Preux vs. Alonzo Menifield, Sijara Eubanks vs. Karol Rosa, and Michel Pereira vs. Zelim Imadaev. The entire show will stream on ESPN+, with the prelims kicking off at 6 PM eastern time, and the main card airing at 8 PM eastern time.

Dana White’s Contender Series is back for Week 5 on Tuesday at 8 PM eastern time on ESPN+. On Friday, LFA 90 takes place, airing on UFC Fight Pass at 9 PM eastern time.

This Week In MMA History

Just one year ago, on August 31, 2019, history was made in Shenzhen, China as the first-ever Chinese UFC champion was crowned.

Zhang Weili captured the UFC Women’s Strawweight Championship when she finished Jessica Andrade in just 42 seconds in wild fight. Weili rocked Andrade early, and a barrage of knees and punches ended it early.

Weili remains the champion a year later and is coming off one of the best fights in UFC history in her win over Joanna Jedrzejczyk in March, and fans are eagerly anticipating her next bout. Andrade, meanwhile, is still looking to get back into the win column since then, and is making the move up to the flyweight division for her next fight.

You can watch the event on UFC Fight Pass here: https://ufcfightpass.com/video/98279?playlistId=2939.

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