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. This week marked the kick-off for UFC in 2021, and the events are just now ramping up, so let’s dive right in on what is happening.
Looking Back at UFC On ABC 1
- Max Holloway. What more can be said? That was one of the most incredible performances in UFC history. His dominant decision win over Calvin Kattar in the main event of UFC’s first show on ABC was flawless, fun, outstanding and statement-making. He landed 445 significant strikes over the five rounds. 445! To put that number in perspective, the previous record was 290, which he actually held, so he beat that by 155 strikes. He also attempted 744 significant strikes, easily besting the previous record of 515. The Holloway that fought on Saturday isn’t just the best featherweight in the world- that Holloway is one of the best fighters in the world, period. There is no denying him a chance to regainUFC Featherweight Championship in his next outing- that has to happen, and Dana White even admitted it will happen.
- You have to give credit to Calvin Kattar for the absolute toughness he showed during the fight, but his corner should’ve stopped it from going on, especially after the fourth round. He was a beaten man at that point, and while he was still throwing with some power behind it, it was clear he wasn’t going to be able to connect perfectly on Holloway. There was a lot of chatter about him potentially scoring the upset, but this Holloway was on a whole other level. Kattar still has the potential to fight for the title someday, so it will be interesting to see how he rebounds or if this is a beating that takes time off of the rest of his career.
- Carlos Condit looked great in his win over Matt Brown in the co-main event of Saturday’s card, getting the decision win. He showed he can still take some damage but dish out more, and his mixture of striking and ground work was as good as ever from him. He isn’t the same fighter he was seven or so years ago, and that is completely expected. He still has a lot left to give, especially if he remains active, as I also feel that the quick three-month turnaround was a good thing for him. This was the last fight on his UFC contract, and they should absolutely re-sign him as he is still a good fighter to have on the roster.
- I wouldn’t be surprised if Matt Brown does retire. He didn’t get finished, which is good for him considering recent history, but he’s now 40, is 3-7 in his last ten fights, and has had a lot of injuries and beatings to deal with. He’s had a great career, and probably overachieved from what would’ve been expected from him twelve years ago.
- You have to feel for Santiago Ponzinibbio, who returned from over two years out of action and saw his seven-fight win streak ended with a massive left hook from Li Jingliang in the first round. Impressive showing for Jingliang.
- I hope people don’t see Joaquin Buckley as just another hype job. They did the right thing by showcasing his incredible knockout from last year, but I also think fighting too often, like he has, caught up to him against Alessio Di Chirico. He did looked alright before getting hit with the head kick, but fighting too often can have its detriments. Hopefully, he gets a good chance to rebound months from now.
- All of the hype surrounding Khabib Nurmagomedov’s announcement was a whole lot of nothing, and really, it wasn’t a great look. Nurmagomedov and Dana White finally had their face-to-face meeting on Friday, which led to White announcing on Saturday that Nurmagomedov might come back if someone impresses him, and used it to hype up the pay-per-view. Here’s what I think is really going on based on looking at Dana’s body language while being interviewed on ABC—Khabib told him he was done and Dana doesn’t want to be pressured to make the fight between Dustin Poirier and Conor McGregor a title fight, so he’s going to wait until a little bit after UFC 257 to declare the UFC Lightweight Championship is vacated and then decide who will fight for the title later in the year. They are scheduled to meet again in Las Vegas following UFC 257, which is probably where the final decision will be made.
- UFC 260 was unofficially announced for March 27 this weekend, with two title fights on the card- UFC Heavyweight Champion Stipe Miocic defending against Francis Ngannou, and UFC Featherweight Champion Alexander Volkanovski defending against Brian Ortega. There’s a lot of great fights set up for now through the end of March, with the lone weak-link looking like UFC 258 with only one title fight.
- Dana White said they’re working on a fight for Nate Diaz, and are hoping to get it done and book it within the next few months. He didn’t announce who they were looking at booking him against, leading many to speculate. To put the speculation to rest, the opponent in mind is Justin Gaethje.
- As noted in this column last week, the fight for Leon Edwards and Khamzat Chimaev was officially announced for March 13. If the fight falls apart again this time, it won’t be rebooked and they will move on to something else for both, so they’re really hoping it happens this time.
Here are some fights to make for the fighters who fought on UFC On ABC 1:
- Max Holloway vs. Alexander Volkanovski/Brian Ortega winner
- Calvin Kattar vs. Alexander Volkanovski/Brian Ortega loser
- Carlos Condit vs. Tim Means
- Li Jingliang vs. Vicente Luque
- Alessio Di Chirico vs. Punahele Soriano
- Joselyne Edwards vs. Vanessa Melo
- Carlos Felipe vs. Tai Tuivasa
- Ramazan Emeev vs. Nicolas Dalby
- Austin Lingo vs. Chase Hooper
Here some fight announcements from this past week:
- Cody Stamann vs. Andre Ewell — UFC Fight Night — February 6
- Seung Woo Choi vs. Collin Anglin — UFC Fight Night — February 6
- Gillian Robertson vs. Miranda Maverick — UFC 258 — February 13
- Julian Erosa vs. Nate Landwehr — UFC Fight Night — February 20
- Leon Edwards vs. Khamzat Chimaev — UFC Fight Night — March 13 (MAIN EVENT)
- Jairzinho Rozenstruik vs. Ciryl Gane — UFC Fight Night — March 13
- Ryan Hall vs. Dan Ige — UFC Fight Night — March 13
- Eryk Anders vs. Darren Stewart — UFC Fight Night — March 13
- Tagir Ulanbekov vs. Matheus Nicolau — UFC Fight Night — March 13
- Paul Craig vs. Jamahal Hill — UFC Fight Night — March 20
- Dricus Du Plessis vs. Trevin Giles — UFC Fight Night — March 20
- Zubaira Tukhugov vs. Ricardo Ramos — UFC Fight Night — March 20
- Guram Kutateladze vs. Don Madge — UFC Fight Night — March 20
- UFC Heavyweight Champion Stipe Miocic vs. Francis Ngannou — UFC 260 — March 27 (MAIN EVENT)
- UFC Featherweight Champion Alexander Volkanovski vs. Brian Ortega — UFC 260 — March 27
- Modestas Bukauskas vs. Michal Oleksiejczuk — UFC 260 — March 27
- Yorgan De Castro vs. Jarjis Danho — UFC Fight Night — April 10
- Gerald Meerschaert vs. Bartosz Fabinski — UFC Fight Night — April 17
Coming Up This Week
This is a big week for UFC, as they have two events, capped off with a gigantic pay-per-view event. Here is a look at what is coming up:
- UFC On ESPN 20 on Wednesday, January 20, from the Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi. The entire show airs on ESPN, with the main card at 12 PM ET, and the prelims at 9 AM ET. Michael Chiesa takes on Neil Magny in the main event.
- UFC 257 on Saturday, January 23, from the Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi. The PPV main card is on ESPN+ PPV at 10 PM ET, with prelims on ESPN+ beginning at 6:30 PM ET and continuing on ESPN at 8 PM ET. Dustin Poirier takes on Conor McGregor in the main event.
- ONE Championship on Friday, January 22 on pay-per-view at 7:30 AM ET. Shinya Aoki takes on James Nakashima in the MMA main event portion.
This Week in MMA History
A new era kicked off for UFC on January 19, 2019, which marked the beginning of the UFC’s television partnership with ESPN. It was the beginning of a partnership that will go through at least 2025. It kicked off at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, in front of 12,152 fans. The main card aired on ESPN+, while a four-fight preliminary card aired on ESPN, with additional prelims also airing on ESPN+
In the main event, Henry Cejudo finished T.J. Dillashaw in just 32 seconds to remain the UFC Flyweight Champion. Dillashaw was attempting to become a two-division champion, as he held the UFC Bantamweight Championship at the time. In an interesting twist, Dillashaw failed a post-fight drug test for EPO, which caused UFC to strip him on the bantamweight title, which was later won by Cejudo at UFC 238 in June 2019, making Cejudo a two-division champion. In the two years since that fight, Cejudo has “retired” from MMA, while Dillashaw is gearing up to return after a two-year suspension.
In what was the first UFC fight to ever air live on ESPN, Cory Sandhagen submitted Mario Bautista in the televised prelim portion of the card. Donald Cerrone finished Alexander Hernandez in the featured prelim on ESPN, which kicked off the ESPN era with 1,956,000 viewers. Also on the main card, Glover Teixeira submitted Karl Roberson, Paige VanZant submitted Rachael Ostovich, Joseph Benavidez scored a decision over Dustin Ortiz, Gregor Gillespie got a TKO win over Yancy Medeiros, and Allen Crowder got a DQ win over Greg Hardy. In some other prelim fights, Geoff Neal won a decision over Belal Muhammad, and Dennis Bermudez got a decision win over Te Edwards.
You can watch UFC On ESPN+ 1 on UFC Fight Pass here.
This Week on In The Clinch
This week on In The Clinch, myself and Paul Fontaine will look back at UFC On ABC 1, and we will also take a look at the upcoming UFC On ESPN 20 and UFC 257 shows. We will also recap all of the big news of the week. You can listen to us on the Fight Game Media Network on our Patreon page.
There will also be a special show this week on Fight Game Media’s main podcast feed looking at the fight between Dustin Poirier and Conor McGregor. GG will be hosting the show, and he will be joined by myself, Paul Fontaine, Dave Meltzer, Jon Moxley as we look ahead to that big fight.