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Monday MMA Round-Up: Gearing Up for 2021

Hello, fight fans, and welcome to the first 2021 edition of the Monday MMA Round-Up, where we take a look back at the week that was in the world of mixed martial arts and look ahead at what’s to come. It was a quiet week in the world of MMA as everyone was still enjoying the holidays for the most part, but there was a little bit of news to get into this week.

Looking Back at a Quiet Week

  • The much-anticipated welterweight fight between Leon Edwards and Khamzat Chimaev was called off once again this week, this time due to Chimaev still feeling the effects of dealing with COVID-19 in December. It is funny that in early December, when the fight was still scheduled for 12/19, that there were rumors that Chimaev had the virus and would be forced out, which were all denied by his team. Then, Edwards fell ill with the virus and the fight was postponed. As it turns out, Chimaev did have the virus in early December, even though his team denied it, and had Edwards not also gotten it, the fight would’ve ended up postponed anyways. That’s all beside the point, now, as it was postponed again off of the 1/20 event. Edwards still wanted to fight, but UFC wants the Edwards/Chimaev fight to happen, so they opted to pull Edwards and go with Michael Chiesa vs. Neil Magny as the main event. As for Edwards vs. Chimaev, and this is dependent really on the overall health of both, but the hope is to have it headline the 2/20 event, which doesn’t have a main event at the moment, but it is also possible the fight could be pushed back to March, which has a show on 3/13 with no current headliner.
  • As I broke in this column on Monday last week (which I didn’t get credit for, but it is what it is), UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jan Blachowicz defending against UFC Middleweight Champion Israel Adesanya in the main event at UFC 259 on March 6 was made official on Wednesday. Many are wondering why Adesanya gets the shot over Glover Teixeira, but Adesanya has quickly proven himself as a draw, and the endgame is still Adesanya taking on Jon Jones, even if the fight has to take place at heavyweight. A location for the event has yet to be announced, and as everything these days, it is all dependent on COVID-19.
  • As of right now, the plan is to hold two UFC pay-per-view events in March, with UFC 260 taking place on March 27. That is where UFC Heavyweight Champion Stipe Miocic defending against Francis Ngannou will happen.
  • All three of the January UFC events taking place in Abu Dhabi will happen at the brand new Etihad Arena. While there was talk of fans being allowed, at least at UFC 257, it doesn’t appear to be the case, though it could end up being a last-minute thing. However, there will likely be some semblance of “fans” at UFC 257, as there will likely be invited guests and VIPs sitting in the stands for the show headlined by Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier.
  • Kevin Holland got his wish, as he will headline the 3/20 event against Derek Brunson. I’m a big fan of this fight, as Brunson is really the standard bearer when it comes to whether a fighter will be a true contender at 185 pounds. If Holland gets past Brunson, I could realistically see him fighting for a title sometime in 2021.
  • I’ve been talking about it for weeks, but the fight between Dan Hooker and Michael Chandler is finally official for UFC 257 in less than three weeks. That is a great fight and will show UFC fans who are unfamiliar with Chandler just how good he is, but Hooker will present a tough opponent. This is no for sure win for Chandler.
  • UFC announced this week they will raise pay-per-view event prices to $69.99, and there was some negative reaction to it. I get it, people always react negatively to prices going up, and I remember paying $25-$30 for UFC events way back in the day, but this is always to be expected. Also, this was a decision made by Disney/ESPN and not UFC, as they are the ones that set the price. Also, anyone who thinks that $5 more is too much right now, just remember that UFC is coming off of their best year on pay-per-view of the last four years, and that happened to be in the middle of a pandemic.
  • Bellator is looking at kicking off their 2021 schedule in February, and their events will continue to take place at the Mohegan Sun in Connecticut for the time being.
  • It is going to be real interesting seeing how much COVID-19 impacts UFC events in 2021. I still expect a lot of fight changes over at least the first few months of the year until more people get vaccinated. I know there are always going to be people who are against being vaccinated, especially in the fight game, and that is to be expected, but if I were a fighter concerned about being able to compete and make a living, I would be among the first getting the vaccine. But, hey, that is just my opinion, everyone is entitled to do what they feel is best for them. Continue to stay safe, everyone, we can get through this all.

Fight Announcements

Here are some fights that were announced over the past week:

  • Mike Davis vs. Mason Jones — UFC Fight Night — January 20
  • Dalcha Lungiambula vs. Markus Perez — UFC Fight Night — January 20
  • Su Mudaerji vs. Zarrukh Adashev — UFC Fight Night — January 20
  • Dan Hooker vs. Michael Chandler — UFC 257 — January 23
  • Michael Trizano vs. Rafael Alves — UFC Fight Night — February 20
  • Alex Caceres vs. Kevin Croom — UFC Fight Night — February 27
  • Nikita Krylov vs. Magomed Ankalaev — UFC Fight Night — February 27
  • UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jan Blachowicz vs. Israel Adesanya — UFC 259 — March 6 (MAIN EVENT)
  • Jinh Yu Frey vs. Gloria De Paula — UFC Fight Night — March 13
  • Derek Brunson vs. Kevin Holland — UFC Fight Night — March 20 (MAIN EVENT)
  • Cheyanne Buys vs. Kay Hansen — UFC Fight Night — March 20
  • Jimmy Crute vs. Johnny Walker — UFC 260 — March 27

Coming up this week

Enjoy the week off, as there are no major MMA events this week. That will change as UFC returns to action on January 16, kicking off a 42-event schedule for 2021.

This Week in MMA History

WEC 2010: Benson Henderson vs. Jamie Varner

The first week of January is generally a quiet one in the MMA world, but one of the big events that took place this week in the past came on January 10, 2010, with the blue Octagon of the WEC holding WEC 46 in Sacramento, California, in front of a crowd of 10,027.

In the main event, the WEC Lightweight Championship was unified, as Interim WEC Lightweight Champion Benson Henderson submitted WEC Lightweight Champion Jamie Varner in the third round to become the undisputed WEC Lightweight Champion. Varner was fighting for the first time in nearly a year and Henderson came into the fight on an absolute roll, having defeated Donald Cerrone to become the interim champion exactly three months earlier.

In the co-main event, Urijah Faber got yet another signature win in front of his hometown crowd, as he submitted Raphael Assuncao in the third round. With the win, Faber would go on to challenge Jose Aldo for the WEC Featherweight Championship in the first, and only, WEC pay-per-view event in April of 2010. Also on the show, former WEC Featherweight Champion Mike Brown submitted Anthony Morrison, future UFC title challenger Mark Hominick submitted Bryan Caraway, and former WEC Bantamweight Champion and future UFC title challenger Eddie Wineland scored a decision win over George Roop.

You can watch WEC 46 on UFC Fight Pass here.

In The Clinch

This week on In The Clinch, myself and Paul Fontaine will take a look back at 2020 in the MMA world, and give out our awards over several categories for the year, and look at a few intriguing storylines going into 2021. We will also take a look at all of the news of the past week. In The Clinch is a part of the Fight Game Media Network, which is fully supported by listeners on our Patreon page, which can be found here.

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