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Monday MMA Round-Up: Heading Back to Fight Island

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 ahead to the week that is in the world of mixed martial arts. It was a rather uneventful week, but that is sure to change here soon, so let’s get right to it.

Looking Back at News

  • What was likely the biggest news story in MMA this past week had nothing to do with fighting, but it was the arrest of UFC bantamweight Irwin Rivera after he stabbed his two sisters. It is a really sad story as Rivera was reportedly dealing with bad mental issues and was in a bad mental state at the time of the incident, reportedly saying he was told to do it by a higher power. It was a really unfortunate situation, and one that luckily didn’t turn out as bad as it could’ve, as his sisters are expected to make a full recovery and are still supporting him. I do think it is time for random welfare checks to be done on fighters at times, whether it is by UFC, by the management teams of fighters, coaches of fighters, just someone.
  • The long-awaited and already postponed once UFC Bantamweight Championship fight between champion Petr Yan and challenger Aljamain Sterling was announced as being re-scheduled for UFC 259 on March 6. The card is looking loaded, with three title fights, as well as a lot of strong undercard fights. Yan is training at American Top Team in Florida, so him traveling to the United States to fight will no longer be a hurdle for the fight.
  • Curtis Blaydes against Derrick Lewis finally has a re-scheduled date, as it will headline the February 20 event. That could potentially determine a lot when it comes to the heavyweight title picture. Jon Jones is still expected to receive an immediate title shot upon making his heavyweight debut, but it will also be hard to deny Blaydes or Lewis fighting for a title next with a win.
  • The twice-postponed welterweight bout between Leon Edwards and Khamzat Chimaev is currently planned for the March 13 event, dependent on how Chimaev is feeling after his battle with COVID-19.
  • The planned UFC Featherweight Championship bout between champion Alexander Volkanovski and Brian Ortega was scheduled to take place at UFC 258 on 2/13, but no announcement on the fight has been made, and we are less than five weeks away from that card. There may be some hold-ups, so it remains to be seen whether that fight will take place then or at a later date.
  • UFC’s slate of events in February are currently all planned to take place at the UFC APEX in Las Vegas.
  • UFC returns to Abu Dhabi and Fight Island this week for the first of three events on Saturday. Fighters have already started to arrive to Yas Island. The events take place at the Etihad Arena, which is an area specifically designed for UFC events, as well as concerts, and will also mark the return of fans to UFC events, as each show will have a maximum capacity of 2,000 fans in attendance. Tickets for UFC 257 sold out within minutes, but there are still some available tickets for the other two events.
  • Dana White announced during a Q-&-A session for ESPN+ that he expects the rematch between Deiveson Figueiredo and Brandon Moreno to take place in either April or May.
  • White also said he hopes that Nate Diaz will return to action this year. He said that he doesn’t expect Diaz and Conor McGregor to fight again in 2021, as there are different plans currently for McGregor. A loss to Dustin Poirier could change a lot of those plans, though.
  • White’s meeting with Khabib Nurmagomedov is expected to take place this week, where White will put the full court press on Khabib to return for one more fight. I get why he is doing it, but he just needs to let Khabib take his time with whatever he wants to do, and not pressure him so quickly to return. Perhaps he wants to return one day, perhaps he doesn’t, but White doesn’t need to rush him into a decision he’s not fully ready to make. I’m hoping that at least the UFC Lightweight Championship situation will be made clear afterwards.
  • Diego Sanchez announced in a Twitter post on Sunday that his next fight will be his last, bringing an end to the career of the first official winner of The Ultimate Fighter. To be honest, it is long overdue for Sanchez to hang up the gloves, and it’s good to see he will do it on his own rather than be forced, even if it is a little past the time.
  • Monday will be a critical day in the MMA world as documents in the Class Action Trial case against UFC will be unsealed, and there is going to be a lot of previously private information made public. It’s going to be an interesting few days.

Fight Announcements

Here are some fights that were announced this past week:

  • Wu Yanan vs. Joselyne Edwards — UFC Fight Night — January 16
  • Warlley Alves vs. Mounir Lazzez — UFC Fight Night — January 20
  • Ricky Simon vs. Gaetano Pirrello — UFC Fight Night — January 20
  • Belal Muhammad vs. Dhiego Lima — UFC 258 — February 13
  • Curtis Blaydes vs. Derrick Lewis — UFC Fight Night — February 20 (MAIN EVENT)
  • Andrei Arlovski vs. Tom Aspinall — UFC Fight Night — February 20
  • Serghei Spivac vs. Jared Vanderaa — UFC Fight Night — February 20
  • UFC Bantamweight Champion Petr Yan vs. Aljamain Sterling — UFC 259 — March 6
  • Song Yadong vs. Kyler Phillips — UFC 259 — March 6
  • Livinha Souza vs. Amanda Lemos — UFC 259 — March 6
  • Rogerio Bontorin vs. Kai Kara-France — UFC 259 — March 6
  • Julia Avila vs. Julija Stoliarenko — UFC Fight Night — March 20

Coming Up This Week

Here are some upcoming events this week in the world of MMA:

  • UFC On ABC 1 takes place on Saturday, January 16. It marks the return of UFC to network television. The main card airs on ABC at 3:00 p.m. ET, with prelims airing on ESPN+ at 12:00 p.m. ET. Max Holloway takes on Calvin Kattar in the main event.
  • LFA 97 takes place on Friday, January 15, airing on UFC Fight Pass at 9:00 p.m. ET.
  • UAE Warriors 15/EFC 32 takes place on Friday, January 15, in Abu Dhabi, a day before UFC returns to action there. This is a co-promoted show featuring Khabib Nurmagomedov’s Eagle Fighting Championship promotion, and this card is in commemoration of his father, Abdulmanap. Among the notable fighters on the card are Jesse Arnett and former UFC fighters Mickael Lebout and Eric Spicely.
  • Brave CF 46 takes place on Saturday, January 16, at 6:00 a.m. ET. The card features former UFC fighters Ali Bagautinov, Leonardo Mafra, Konstantin Erokhin and Roman Bogatov.

This Week In MMA History

Rich Franklin vs. Dan Henderson in Dublin

On January 17, 2009, the UFC Octagon debuted in the MMA hotbed of Dublin, Ireland, with UFC 93 taking place at The O2. The event drew a sellout crowd of 9,369 fans with a gate of $1.3 million, and had 350,000 pay-per-view buys.

In the main event, Dan Henderson scored a split decision win over Rich Franklin in a close fight. The win led to Henderson becoming a coach on season nine of The Ultimate Fighter opposite Michael Bisping, in a season which is remembered by many, and it also led to one of the more memorable knockouts in UFC history when Henderson beat Bisping at UFC 100.

In the co-main event, it was a long-awaited rematch between PRIDE legends, as Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua got his revenge on Mark Coleman, finishing Coleman in the third round. Rua had dislocated his arm in their first fight in PRIDE, and Coleman had a crazy celebration following it, which led to a lot of bad blood between the two over the years. Also on the UFC 93 card, Rousimar Palhares won a decision over Jeremy Horn, Alan Belcher submitted Denis Kang, and Marcus Davis scored a split decision win over Chris Lytle. Among the winners on the prelim card included Martin Kampmann, Dennis Siver and John Hathway.

Among those in attendance at the show included a 20-year-old Conor McGregor, who was in the early stages of his career. He was 3–1 at the time, but had thought about walking away from the sport as he wasn’t making any money. He went to the show in support of teammate Tom Egan, who fought on the show, and said he was so inspired by the show that he decided to keep on with his fighting career. The rest, as they say, is history.

You can watch UFC 93 on UFC Fight Pass here.

In The Clinch

We will be back on Tuesday with a new episode of In The Clinch, hosted by myself and Paul Fontaine. On this week’s edition, we will preview the upcoming UFC On ABC 1 card, as well as take a look at the news from the past week. You can listen to In The Clinch on the Fight Game Media Network, with our Patreon page located here.

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