Hello, fight fans, and welcome to the final edition of the Monday MMA Round-Up for the year 2020, where we look back at the week in the world of mixed martial arts. With this past week being Christmas, it was a relatively quiet week in the world of mixed martial arts, with no major events taking place, but there was still a little bit of news announced, so let’s dive right in to what happened this past week.
A Slow News Week
- The big news this week were the reports that UFC would be returning to network television with their first event of 2021, the January 16 card headlined by Max Holloway taking on Calvin Kattar, on ABC. This is a big step in the ever-growing relationship between UFC and ESPN/Disney, and will serve as a test run to see if more events will air on the network in the future. While no official broadcast plans have been announced, I can confirm that at least the main card will air on the network, and there is talk of some prelim fights also airing.
- UFC officially announced they will be returning to Abu Dhabi for the first three events of 2021, specifically the January 16, January 20 and January 23 cards. If you’re reading this column, you’ve known this for a while. However, there was talk of fans being in attendance, which now looks to be a no-go, and the events will be staged like all of the Fight Island events have previously, and all three will take place inside the Flash Forum.
- The UFC 257 pay-per-view event will air at the standard times. However, the January 16 card will kick off with prelims at 12:00 p.m. eastern time, while the January 20 card will kick off with prelims at 9:00 p.m. ET. Broadcast times will be geared more toward local audiences in Abu Dhabi, with less emphasis on catering to the fighters’ various schedules.
- A January 30 UFC event that was planned has been cancelled, and fights that were targeted for the show have been moved to other events. It will not have an effect on UFC’s 2021 schedule, as the plan is still to run their contractually scheduled 42 events. It is just to give everyone a week off after running three events in eight days in Abu Dhabi. When the schedule picks back up on February 6, it is planned for all events to resume taking place at the UFC APEX in Las Vegas, at least for the time being.
- Speaking of UFC 257, congratulations to headliner Conor McGregor, who is expecting his third child with his long-time girlfriend and now fiance, Dee Devlin.
- The much-talked about UFC Light Heavyweight Championship bout between UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jan Blachowicz and UFC Middleweight Champion Israel Adesanya will take place at UFC 259 on March 6.
- As I wrote in this column last week, Michael Chandler will fight Dan Hooker at UFC 257 on January 23. No official announcement has been made.
- Bellator is seriously considering holding a light heavyweight tournament in 2021 following the recent signings of Yoel Romero and Anthony Johnson. They would be among the fighters competing, along with Bellator Light Heavyweight Champion Vadim Nemkov, Ryan Bader, Phil Davis and others.
- Following the birth of their daughter, both Amanda Nunes and Nina Ansaroff have scheduled their return fights. Nunes will defend the UFC Women’s Featherweight Championship against Megan Anderson at UFC 259 on March 6, while Ansaroff, who was the one who gave birth, will fight Mackenzie Dern at the April 10 UFC event in a battle between mothers.
- Anthony Pettis has officially left UFC, signing with the PFL this past week. I think that’s a good move for Pettis as he will be a big focus for their 2021 season, and their viewership is potentially better than Bellator these days. He should be the favorite for the lightweight tournament, and we could still see him end his fight career back in UFC one day.
Here are some fights that were announced this past week:
- Santiago Ponzinibbio vs. Li Jingliang — UFC Fight Night — January 16
- Joaquin Buckley vs. Alessio Di Chirico — UFC Fight Night — January 16
- Phil Hawes vs. Nassourdine Imavov — UFC Fight Night — January 16
- Michael Chiesa vs. Neil Magny — UFC Fight Night — January 20
- Dean Barry vs. Mike Jackson — UFC Fight Night — January 20
- Andrew Sanchez vs. Makhmud Muradov — UFC 257 — January 23
- Devonte Smith vs. Alex Da Silva — UFC Fight Night — February 6
- Alexandre Pantoja vs. Manel Kape — UFC Fight Night — February 6
- Randy Brown vs. Alex Oliveira — UFC Fight Night — February 27
- Montana De La Rosa vs. Mayra Bueno Silva — UFC Fight Night — February 27
- Emily Whitmire vs. Hannah Cifers — UFC Fight Night — February 27
- Amanda Nunes vs. Megan Anderson — UFC 259 — March 6
- Charles Jourdain vs. Steve Garcia — UFC Fight Night — March 13
- Jason Witt vs. Matthew Semelsberger — UFC Fight Night — March 13
- Nina Ansaroff vs. Mackenzie Dern — UFC Fight Night — April 10
Coming Up This Week
It’s a light week for events in the world of mixed martial arts, but there are a couple of notable cards taking place:
- Okatgon 20 takes place on Wednesday, December 30, with UFC veterans Karlos Vemola, Viktor Pesta and Ildemar Alcantara competing on the card.
- Chael Sonnen’s Submission Underground 20 takes place on Wednesday, December 30, airing at 7 PM eastern time on UFC Fight Pass, for those who are grappling fans.
- RIZIN has their annual New Year’s Eve card, with RIZIN 26 taking place on Thursday, December 31 at 12 AM eastern time. RIZIN Bantamweight Champion Kai Asakura defends against Kyoji Horiguchi in the main event.
This Week In MMA History
On December 29, 2007, one of the most anticipated fights, at the time, in mixed martial arts history took place at the UFC’s big year-end event as UFC 79 took place at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas.
It marked the UFC return of ‘The Axe Murderer’, Wanderlei Silva, as he took on ‘The Iceman’ Chuck Liddell, in the dream fight fans had been looking forward to for years when both were considered the best 205-pound fighters in the world. It took place years after both had lost and weren’t at the top of the division, but it was still very anticipated. It was the co-main event of this show and ended up being a very good fight; Liddell won via unanimous decision in what would be the final win of Liddell’s illustrious career.
In the main event, it was the trilogy bout as Georges St. Pierre and Matt Hughes fought for the third time with the Interim UFC Welterweight Championship on the line. St. Pierre replaced UFC Welterweight Champion Matt Serra in the fight, and would go on to thoroughly dominate the fight, submitting Hughes in the second round to not only win the interim title, but win the trilogy between the two. St. Pierre would go on months later to defeat Serra to unify the welterweight titles.
Also on the show: Lyoto Machida submitted Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou in the second round, Rich Clementi submitted Melvin Guillard in the first round, and James Irvin, Dean Lister, Mark Bocek and Manny Gamburyan were also among winners on the card. It drew 11,075 fans for a gate just under $5 million to the Mandalay Bay, and it also secured 650,000 pay-per-view buys.
In The Clinch
On this week’s edition of In The Clinch, hosted by myself and Paul Fontaine on the Fight Game Media Network, we will be talking all of the news on this quiet week as well as some memories of past UFC events we have attended as we enjoy these few weeks away from live events. You can listen to us on the Fight Game Media Network Patreon here.