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Monday MMA Round-Up: Khabib’s Last Stand

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 mixed martial arts. I hear something major happened over the weekend, so let’s dive right into things with my thoughts on the week.

Looking Back At UFC 254

  • Of course, the big story coming out of UFC 254 on Saturday is the win and subsequent retirement of Khabib Nurmagomedov. First off, his performance was absolutely incredible. He dominated Justin Gaethje in a way we’ve never seen Gaethje dominated before, bringing the constant pressure and still making it look easy to get Gaethje down. His transition to the mount and triangle choke to get the finish was a thing of beauty. His post-fight emotional breakdown was enough to bring a tear to someone’s eye. His post-fight retirement was unexpected, but at the same time, it wasn’t surprising. For him, fighting has always been something he did for his father, who passed away in July from the coronavirus. His father being gone changed everything for him. He’s set for several lifetimes monetarily. Money doesn’t make a difference in his life. His father was the driving force in his life, and it is hard to do something when the one person who you did it for is no longer around. This wasn’t one of those retirements where he’ll be back in a year. This one is real. And it was a sad moment, because he is one of the greatest of all-time.
  • With his retirement announcement, the big talk after the show was his place on the totem pole in the greatest of all-time talk. It is hard to say without a doubt he is, but he is definitely in the discussion alongside the likes of Georges St-Pierre, Jon Jones, Amanda Nunes, Demetrious Johnson, Anderson Silva and others. He leaves a lasting legacy that is going to be hard to match.
  • Speaking of St-Pierre, everyone wants to speculate that maybe Khabib would come back for that fight. I don’t see it ever happening. Khabib said he gave his mother his word, and Dagestan men are well-known for keeping their word. Also, fighting GSP was his father’s dream, and not being able to have his father there in his corner for that fight is a big reason we will never get a chance to see it.
  • Back to the greatest of all-time discussion… Jon Jones needs to be less of an egomaniac. He decided that right after Khabib’s retirement would be a good time to go onto Twitter and start listing all of his accomplishments and to continue on about how he is the true GOAT. It was the wrong time and the wrong place, and Jon should’ve just kept his mouth shut and let Khabib have his moment. However, Jon keeping his mouth shut is a tough problem for him, especially when Twitter is just a click away. Terrible form, Jon. Do better.

  • With Khabib’s retirement, what happens with the UFC Lightweight Championship? Ideally, I would love to see some kind of tournament for the title. Imagine the talent you could put in there: Conor McGregor, Justin Gaethje, Tony Ferguson, Dustin Poirier, Michael Chandler, Dan Hooker, Charles Oliveira, Paul Felder, Nate Diaz, Max Holloway, Rafael Dos Anjos, Islam Makhachev, Al Iaquinta, Kevin Lee; all of those and more and you have yourself an outstanding tournament and, realistically, enough fights to headline many shows in 2021.
  • With that being said, if the fight gets signed, McGregor vs. Poirier on January 23 will be for the UFC Lightweight Championship. Guaranteed.
  • Robert Whittaker’s win over Jared Cannonier was absolutely incredible. Despite being a former champion, I still believe Whittaker may be the most underrated fighter in the sport. He has never gotten 100% of the credit he deserves, and dare I say it, he is a Hall Of Fame fighter. Even though his loss to Israel Adesanya was just a year ago, it is hard to deny him a chance to regain the title, and a rematch may be different with Whittaker having a new state of mind.
  • Lauren Murphy’s win and passionate post-fight promo in calling for a title shot is more of what we need in the sport. I appreciate her passion in wanting the title fight. But on the flip side her calling for Jennifer Maia to be pulled from a title shot was a bad look. Maia may not be a strong challenger, but she does have the benefit of being the right person at the right time. Valentina Shevchenko was ready to fight in November, she needed an opponent, and Maia had just beaten the would-be challenger and was going to be ready to go. Murphy’s four-fight win streak is impressive, but she did get a win over Andrea Lee in February in a fight that most thought she lost. And she just beat a short-notice replacement making her UFC debut. She should fight Cynthia Calvillo and we will get a true top contender, or at least who would be next in line after Jessica Andrade.
  • Fighters who impressed me at UFC 254 include Phil Hawes, Casey Kenney, Nathaniel Wood (even though he lost), Shavkat Rakhmonov and Miranda Maverick. If you missed the Kenney vs. Wood fight, go back and watch it. It is one of the better fights of the year.
  • I am not a fan of the upcoming fight between Leon Edwards and Khamzat Chimaev. It feels like Edwards was kind of forced into this fight, but I also get they are frustrated with him for turning down a lot of fights. However, it is a gigantic step-up in competition for Chimaev. Realistically, it is a terrible fight for him to take. I get the hype, but he hasn’t faced anyone remotely good or near being ranked, and now you’re asking him to fight the #3-ranked welterweight in the UFC. I think this one is going to end up badly for Chimaev.
  • It’s time for the UFC to wash themselves of Mike Perry. The domestic violence story that surfaced this week involving his ex-wife is very problematic, and Perry has been causing more issues than needed in recent times. It’s clear he needs some real help, and he really is someone who shouldn’t be fighting professionally. He was scheduled to fight Robbie Lawler at UFC 255 on November 21, but it is starting to look like that fight has been pulled from the card, though no official word has come out.
  • Speaking of UFC 255, I don’t think that one is going to get a lot of interest.
  • Sayonara, Fight Island, see you again sometime in the first part of 2021 (late January or early February is the plan).

Playing Matchmaker

Here are some fights I would make for some of the fighters who competed at UFC 254 on Saturday:

  • Justin Gaethje vs. Dan Hooker
  • Robert Whittaker vs. Israel Adesanya
  • Jared Cannonier vs. Derek Brunson
  • Alexander Volkov vs. Alistair Overeem
  • Lauren Murphy vs. Cynthia Calvillo
  • Magomed Ankalaev vs. Johnny Walker
  • Tai Tuivasa vs. Chase Sherman
  • Casey Kenney vs. Raphael Assuncao
  • Shavkat Rakhmonov vs. Takashi Sato
  • Miranda Maverick vs. Cortney Casey-Priscila Cachoeira winner

Fight Announcements

Here are some notable fight announcements from the past week:

  • Jake Hager vs. Brandon Calton, Bellator 250, 10/29
  • Rafael Dos Anjos vs. Islam Makhachev, UFC Fight Night, 11/14  (Main Event)
  • Jose Aldo vs. Marlon Vera, UFC 255, 11/21
  • Ovince Saint Preux vs. Jamahal Hill, UFC Fight Night, 12/5
  • Tecia Torres vs. Angela Hill, UFC 256, 12/12
  • Leon Edwards vs. Khamzat Chimaev, UFC Fight Night, 12/19 (Main Event)
  • Marlon Moraes vs. Rob Font, UFC Fight Night, 12/19

Coming Up This Week

  • UFC On ESPN+ 39 on Saturday, October 31. It airs on ESPN+, with the main card at 7 PM ET and the prelims at 4 PM ET. Uriah Hall vs. Anderson Silva is the main event. I will have my Guide To UFC On ESPN+ 39 coming tomorrow.
  • Bellator 250 on Thursday, October 29. It airs on CBS Sports Network at 9 PM ET. Gegard Mousasi vs. Douglas Lima for the vacant Bellator Middleweight Championship is the main event.
  • CFFC 86 on Thursday, October 29, airing at 7 PM ET on UFC Fight Pass
  • Ares FC 2 on Friday, October 30, airing at 2 PM ET on UFC Fight Pass
  • Taura MMA 11 on Friday, October 30, at 6 PM ET. Notable UFC veterans on the card include Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva, Jonathan Wilson, Daron Cruickshank, Marcelo Golm, William Macario and Richardson Moreira.
  • CFFC 87 on Friday, October 30, airing at 7 PM ET on UFC Fight Pass
  • LFA 94 on Friday, October 30, airing at 9 PM ET on UFC Fight Pass

This Week In MMA History

On Halloween night, October 31, in the year 2004, one of the more memorable PRIDE FC events was held, with PRIDE FC 28: High Octane at the Saitama Super Arena in Japan. It was where the heated rivalry between Wanderlei Silva and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson had its second chapter. In that fight, Silva knocked Jackson out with some vicious knees, leaving the lasting visual of an unconscious and bleeding Jackson lying on top of the bottom rope as Silva was celebrating his win. It is also regarded as one of the best fights in PRIDE FC history.

Also on the show, Mirko Cro Cop defeated Josh Barnett, Dan Henderson defeated Kazuhiro Nakamura, and Mark Hunt defeated Dan Bobish. The show drew 24,028 fans to the Saitama Super Arena, and the fight between Silva and Jackson was named the Fight Of The Year for 2004 in the Wrestling Observer Newsletter Awards.

You can watch PRIDE FC 28: High Octane on UFC Fight Pass here: https://ufcfightpass.com/video/32238/pride-28-high-octane.

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