Monday MMA Round-Up: Busy February Ahead
Hello, fight fans, and welcome to this week’s edition of the Monday MMA Round-Up, where we look at the week that was in the world of mixed martial arts. It was a rather quiet week, with no UFC this past week, and it wasn’t very newsworthy outside of the cage, so let’s get into the week’s top stories.
UFC gears up for busy February
- For the most part, it felt like UFC world took the week off to recover from the string of events in Abu Dhabi that culminated with UFC 257 last Saturday. There’s been no news concerning the UFC Lightweight Championship and what’s going to happen with it, but expect that to be cleared up soon, with it looking like Dustin Poirier and Michael Chandler fighting for the vacant title later this year.
- There were two main events announced this week for two events in April, both in the middleweight division, which should paint a clear picture where the division is headed: Darren Till will take on Marvin Vettori on the April 10 card, and Robert Whittaker will face Paulo Costa on the April 17 card. We should know where middleweight champion Israel Adesanya stands after his fight with Jan Blachowicz on March 6, and there’s also another pivotal middleweight main event between Kevin Holland and Derek Brunson going down on March 20. The middleweight division is one of the standout divisions in UFC right now.
- There is talk of UFC 261 on April 24 taking place in Singapore with UFC Women’s Strawweight Champion Zhang Weili defending in the main event. She is expected to defend against Rose Namajunas, but if negotiations stall there, it could end up being against Carla Esparza. If it is not against Namajunas, I know people would be hoping for it to be a rematch against Joanna Jedrzejczyk. She is being targeted to fight on that card against Yan Xiaonan, though agreements haven’t yet been made, and Jedrzejczyk said on her Instagram this past week that she wouldn’t be fighting then, so we’ll see how it all plays out.
- Another expected fight for UFC 261 is Uriah Hall against Chris Weidman. They were scheduled to meet at UFC 258 on February 13, but Weidman recently came down with COVID, so they decided to postpone the fight since it’s the match-up they want for both.
- Speaking of fights being cancelled, the main event for the February 27 show between Dominick Reyes and Jiri Prochazka was cancelled this past week after Reyes suffered an injury. That is disappointing, as it was a big fight for both, especially Prochazka, who has been wanting to fight for months. They announced a new main event for the show as Jairzinho Rozenstruik and Ciryl Gane will move their fight up a few weeks from the March 13 card to headline. That should be an interesting fight, to say the least.
- One of the more interesting stories from last week was Casey Kenney’s appearance on Sean O’Malley’s podcast and his comments about Megan Anderson. First of all, he should have avoided the question about whether he would sleep with Anderson. He didn’t, however, and his comments came off as embarrassing, or just stuff that just shouldn’t be said. It’s also weird since both Kenney and Anderson are fighting on the UFC 259 card on March 6, with Anderson challenging Amanda Nunes for the UFC Women’s Featherweight Championship. Kenney made a half-assed non-apology afterwards, but I feel like he should be moved off that card onto another upcoming card. Anderson wasn’t happy, and she shouldn’t go into the most important fight of her career having to deal with potentially running into someone who made comments about her that made her uncomfortable. Also, note to fighters: Don’t answer stupid questions like that, you always come off bad.
- This weekend’s UFC On ESPN+ 42 event, which takes place in Las Vegas, has a pair of interesting fights at the top of the card. Alistair Overeem battles Alexander Volkov in the main event, and Overeem is eager to win and fight for a UFC title again. He has stated that if he were to win a UFC title, he would retire immediately as there would be nothing left to accomplish. An even bigger fight takes place in the co-main event, which sees bantamweights Cory Sandhagen and Frankie Edgar square off. The winner of that fight will likely fight the winner of the UFC Bantamweight Championship bout between champion Petr Yan and challenger Aljamain Sterling at UFC 259.
- Speaking of UFC 259, it will take place at the UFC APEX in Las Vegas. The rest of the events in March are also expected to take place there.
- PFL announced the dates for their 2021 season this past week, with their first event of 2021 scheduled to take place on April 23. They have an interesting roster of talent, and they’ve added big names such as Anthony Pettis and Rory MacDonald, so this should be an interesting year for them.
- As we turn the calendar to February, Bellator has yet to announce when their first show in 2021 will be. Though news has yet to be announced, they are expected to run again in March. They won’t be running as many shows as in years past, though, which is an interesting change. Make of that what you will.
- The XMMA show on Saturday, which featured a lot of former UFC talent, was a very fun show and showed that you can put on some good regional shows with lots of ex-UFC talent. James Vick suffered his fifth straight loss in the main event of the show, and his fourth loss in that stretch coming by knockout. He really needs to evaluate his future in the sport, especially if he has aspirations of getting back to UFC, which seems very unlikely at the moment.
- I was surprised that UFC parted ways with Anthony Rocco Martin this week. Martin is a very solid fighter, but he also is someone who likely won’t ever make a title run at 170 lbs. He is also good enough to knock off contenders. I actually expect he would sign with PFL and be a part of their upcoming season.
Here are some fights that were announced this past week:
- Karol Rosa vs. Joselyne Edwards — UFC Fight Night — February 6
- Seung Woo Choi vs. Youssef Zalal — UFC Fight Night — February 6
- Martin Day vs. Timur Valiev — UFC Fight Night — February 6
- Ricky Simon vs. Brian Kelleher — UFC 258 — February 13
- Jairzinho Rozenstruik vs. Ciryl Gane — UFC Fight Night — February 27 (MAIN EVENT)
- Kennedy Nzechukwu vs. Carlos Ulberg — UFC 259 — March 6
- Ben Rothwell vs. Philipe Lins — UFC Fight Night — March 13
- Darren Till vs. Marvin Vettori — UFC Fight Night — April 10 (MAIN EVENT)
- Robert Whittaker vs. Paulo Costa — UFC Fight Night — April 17 (MAIN EVENT)
- Chase Sherman vs. Parker Porter — UFC Fight Night — April 24
Coming Up This Week
It is another quiet week in the MMA world, with only one major event taking place:
- UFC On ESPN+ 42 is this week’s big UFC event, taking place on Saturday, February 6. The entire event streams on ESPN+, with the prelims kicking off at 5 PM eastern time, and the main card at 8 PM eastern time. Alistair Overeem takes on Alexander Volkov in the main event. Be sure to check out my Guide to UFC On ESPN+ 42 later this week.
This Week In MMA History
UFC is full of tradition on Super Bowl Weekend, with big annual pay-per-view events held up through 2015 in Las Vegas, but still with smaller events being held throughout the world. One of the more notable Super Bowl Weekend pay-per-view events took place on February 3, 2007, when UFC 67: All Or Nothing took place at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in front of 10,227 fans and in front of 350,000 pay-per-view buyers.
In the main event, Anderson Silva submitted Travis Lutter in the second round. It was supposed to be a fight with Silva’s UFC Middleweight Championship on the line, which Lutter earned a shot at by winning season four of The Ultimate Fighter in the middleweight division, but Lutter missed weight for the fight in what Joe Rogan has called the worst a fighter has ever looked on a scale that he’s ever seen. Silva was unhappy about it and made a statement, as fighters missing weight for title fights is still a rare occurrence in UFC.
The show was notable for UFC debuts of two extremely popular fighters from PRIDE, which UFC has just finished purchasing. Mirko Cro Cop made his debut, finishing Eddie Sanchez in the first round, and future UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson also debuted, knocking out Marvin Eastman in the second round. Also on the main card, Roger Huerta finished John Halverson in just 18 seconds, and future title challenger Patrick Cote won a decision over Scott Smith.
The show was also notable for two future UFC champions making their debuts in the prelims: Future UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Lyoto Machida won a decision over Sam Hoger, and future UFC Lightweight Champion Frankie Edgar debuted with a decision win over Tyson Griffin in the Fight Of The Night.
You can watch UFC 67 on UFC Fight Pass here.
In The Clinch
On this week’s episode of In The Clinch, hosted by myself and Paul Fontaine, we preview UFC On ESPN+ 42, plus take a look at all of the middleweight fights being made and other assorted topics. You can listen to us on the Fight Game Media Network, with our Patreon page here. Thank you for the continued support!