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 world of mixed martial arts. There were quite a handful of events this past week, but outside of the cage, it was a rather quiet week compared to recently. Let’s dive right into thoughts on everything that happened.
Looking Back At UFC On ESPN 16
- Holly Holm’s performance in a dominant decision win over Irene Aldana in the main event of Saturday’s UFC show was Holm’s best overall performance in the UFC. She looked exceptional, and while she has been known as a patient fighter, she was very aggressive and pushing the pace, and her mixing of striking and grappling was at an extremely high-level. Aldana had nothing for her. She is about to turn 39, but Holm still has what it takes to be a contender.
- Germaine de Randamie keeps her name in the title hunt with a submission win over Julianna Pena. That was quite the surprise, not just because Pena is an excellent ground fighter, but also because it was the first submission win in de Randamie’s career. She had a solid performance as well.
- However, with Holm and de Randamie both winning, that is bad news when it comes to figuring out who next challenges Amanda Nunes for the UFC Women’s Bantamweight Championship. Nunes is defending the featherweight title against Megan Anderson next, so it will be sometime next year before she defends the 135-pound title. Her last two title defenses at 135 came over Holm and de Randamie. Wins by Aldana and Pena would’ve given her fresh challenges and really shaken up the division. As it stands, the division is at a real standstill. It’s hard to see Holm or de Randamie doing any better against Nunes a second time around.
- Carlos Condit got back into the win column, scoring a much-needed and long-awaited decision win over Court McGee. Injuries and other interests have kept Condit on multiple long stretches of inactivity, but he is still only 36 and this showed he has some more fight left in him. He finished the first round strong and it led to lots of confidence in the next two rounds, which he controlled to get the win. As long as he is able to remain active, he showed he still has the skills to compete at a high level. He’s one of the most exciting fighters in the history of the sport, so any time Condit is in a fight it is a must-watch fight.
- The biggest outside-of-the cage news this week has to be the UFC trying to put together a fight between Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier. This comes on the heels of both men agreeing to a charity exhibition sparring match in December, which won’t happen because both would need approval from the UFC, which they won’t give. The targeted date for the proposed fight is January 23. Poirier has already said yes to the fight. McGregor and his team have yet to respond, but I don’t expect him to take the fight. I personally believe he should, and his plans for a 2020 season should just be restarted fresh in 2021, but McGregor is also someone who doesn’t go backwards and take fights against opponents he’s already beaten. Either way, if it somehow does happen, it is a great fight for both men.
Martial art sparring match in aid of charity. Dublin, December 12th 2020.
Free to air spar. McGregor vs Poirier.
List of chosen charities available soon. All donations welcome ❤️ pic.twitter.com/cLfFbQ0IJF
— Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) September 30, 2020
- Francis Ngannou has been calling for Stipe Miocic to defend the UFC Heavyweight Championship against him on December 12. That isn’t going to happen as Miocic won’t be returning until next year. Also, no choice has been made as to who will be challenging Miocic next, though the only two options are Ngannou and Jon Jones.
- Bellator’s first event on CBS Sports Network ended up being a challenge. The show lost the main event right before weigh-ins, and they ended up with a complete nothing main event for their first show on the new network. Worse than that, it seems like no one watched. CBS Sports Network isn’t even tracked by Nielsen because the ratings for shows are so low, and with the fact they aired the show live, meant it was at 4 PM on the east coast, and at 1 PM on the west coast, and on a Thursday, which meant the majority of viewers were likely at work or doing other things. I don’t want to be negative, but it doesn’t seem like this deal is going to work out for them, and the hope is they’re able to get on big CBS and/or Showtime. They also spent a lot of money over the last week signing a lot of fighters, which is odd for a company that doesn’t bring in much revenue. Hopefully, the company continues to last because it is good to have an alternative for fans and fighters, but they’re back in what looks to be an uphill battle.
- James Gallagher finally got his hands on Cal Ellenor at Bellator Milan 3 on Saturday and scored an impressive submission win. It is clear that Bellator wants Gallagher to be one of their big stars, and he has a lot of star quality, so it will be interesting to see where they go from here with him.
- Israel Adesanya and Jon Jones need to lay off of each other on social media. Unless you plan on fighting each other within the next six months, fighting on Twitter is pointless.
- If you have yet to see any of it, do yourself a favor and check out the four-part documentary series on ESPN+ about how UFC Fight Island came together. It is called UFC Fight Island: Declassified, and it was put together by Rory Karpf, who has done several 30 For 30 specials, including the special on Ric Flair. It is very well done and all of the behind the scenes stuff of putting together the July shows in Abu Dhabi is fascinating. I know people like to criticize Dana White for appearing too much on UFC documentaries, but he’s the President of the company and the most important figure in the behind the scenes stuff, and should rightly be featured a lot like he is on this. It is always good to get an inside look behind the scenes of the UFC.
Here are the fights I would make for some of the fighters following UFC On ESPN 16:
- Holly Holm vs. Germaine de Randamie
- Carlos Condit vs. Matt Brown
- Irene Aldana vs. Sijara Eubanks
- Julianna Pena vs. Marion Reneau
- Kyler Phillips vs. Hunter Azure
- Casey Kenney vs. Andre Ewell
Coming Up This Week
The UFC continues on Fight Island on Saturday with UFC On ESPN+ 37. It will be headlined by a bantamweight bout between Marlon Moraes and Cory Sandhagen. Also among the main card fights is Edson Barboza vs. Makwan Amirkhani and Ben Rothwell vs. Marcin Tybura. The entire show will be airing on ESPN+, with the main card at 8 PM eastern time, and the prelims at 5 PM eastern time.
Also this week will be Bellator 248, which is a split show, and has a pair of main events with Michael Page vs. Ross Houston and Cheick Kongo vs. Timothy Johnson. It is the first major MMA event to be held in France, as it emanates from Paris. The show airs on CBS Sports Network at 11:30 AM eastern time on Thursday.
Also this week will be KSW 55 on Saturday at 12 PM eastern time.
This Week In MMA History
On October 10, 2009, one of the best fights in WEC history took place when the promotion made their lone appearance in the state of Texas for WEC 43 in San Antonio.
In the main event, Benson Henderson scored an unanimous decision win over Donald Cerrone in an incredible fight to win the Interim WEC Lightweight Championship. It was a close, back-and-forth fight that saw Cerrone go for lots of submissions, but Henderson fought his way out of them and did enough to take home the decision and interim title. The fight finished second in the Wrestling Observer Newsletter awards for 2009 Fight Of The Year.
You can watch WEC 43 on UFC Fight Pass here: https://ufcfightpass.com/video/31784.