Hello, fight fans, and welcome to this week’s edition of the Monday MMA Round-Up, where we look back at everything going on in the world of mixed martial arts, and look ahead at what is to come. It was a notable week in the MMA world, so let’s dive right into things.
Looking Back at UFC 257 & UFC On ESPN 20
- Dustin Poirier did it. He did what many thought he could do, but what more didn’t expect him to do. He beat Conor McGregor. Not only did he beat him, he finished him with strikes in the second round, becoming the first man to hand McGregor a knockout loss. Poirier had to overcome losing the first, but he stuck to his game plan, and the calf kicks threw McGregor off and did the damage. It was an upset to many, but this further proves that Poirier is one of the best lightweights in the world. No matter what, Poirier’s next fight should be for the UFC Lightweight Championship.
- McGregor noted the lack of activity as one of the key reasons for the loss. He was gracious in defeat, giving Poirier all of the credit, and admitting he didn’t plan for the calf kicks and didn’t adjust. After watching the fight twice, McGregor didn’t look like his normal self in there. His footwork wasn’t at his best and he didn’t seem completely comfortable in there. The inactivity in 2020 was due to a lot of reasons, but to be honest, it shouldn’t have happened, and there were mistakes made on both sides. Hopefully he can get back in there multiple times this year and get the action he craves, as it is something he will need if he’s going to get back into the title picture. I believe he is far from done. Also, Conor, focus on MMA. Forget about boxing.
- Michael Chandler’s UFC debut couldn’t have gone any better with the first-round knockout win over Dan Hooker. He was in about as much of a must-win situation as there is, with all of the hype coming over from Bellator and the big contract he got, and he proved his value right away. I could see him fighting for a title next, which may rub people the wrong way, but when you look at his value and what they’re paying him, it shows they want him fighting in title fights. You don’t sign Michael Chandler to a big contract to keep him away from title fights.
- Dana White finally admitted what has been so clear to everyone but him: It doesn’t appear that Khabib Nurmagomedov is coming back. I mean, it’s been obvious for months, but Dana thought he could convince him. Unfortunately, money isn’t a motivation for everyone in this world, especially when it is someone who doesn’t need it. I guess now that UFC 257 is over, we can vacate the UFC Lightweight Championship and get the division rolling again.
- Michael Chiesa’s win over Neil Magny at UFC On ESPN 20 on Wednesday was way more impressive than it is getting credit for. He dominated an opponent who is hard to beat, and his wrestling and grappling was on a different level than it ever has been. Chiesa has seemingly exceeded expectations over recent times, and he could very well find himself fighting for a UFC title before the calendar turns to 2022.
- One of the big stories to keep an eye on in the coming weeks is the potential mandatory 14-day quarantine for all international travelers coming to the United States that is likely to be imposed by the new administration. It will have an effect on UFC unless exceptions are made for athletes, which is possible. It could change when and where shows will be held, and Abu Dhabi could become an even more valuable asset for UFC.
- Speaking of Abu Dhabi, this was the end of the three-event stretch at the Etihad Arena. It was nice having fans back in attendance, as they really added to the shows after nine months of no fans. It is undecided when they will return, though June and/or July seem like a likely time, if not sooner.
- If you didn’t see the fight between Mike Davis and Mason Jones from Wednesday’s UFC card, that one is worth going out of your way to see.
- The Ottman Aziatar situation is one of the most bizarre things I’ve ever heard of in MMA. For those who don’t know, Azaitar was scheduled to fight at UFC 257 on Saturday. He was pulled from his fight and subsequently cut from the roster after it was found out that he and his team cut their wristbands, that proved they had tested negative for COVID, off and handed them to someone outside of the bubbled safe zone, so that person could sneak into the bubble without being tested. They must’ve given the wristbands to James Bond, as the guy who had it snuck into a hotel room at the W Abu Dhabi, then climbed up four levels of balconies to get into Azaitar’s room to drop off a bag, then changed clothes and left the hotel while being chased by security. What was in the bag is unknown, and that may remain one of the big mysteries in MMA lore.
- There wasn’t a lot of news outside of the Octagon this week, as it was a newsworthy week inside, but the big story was the official announcement of the UFC Heavyweight Championship bout between champion Stipe Miocic and challenger Francis Ngannou at UFC 260 on March 27. Also targeted for that card, but not signed, is a bout between Tyron Woodley and Vicente Luque, which is a good fight for both.
Here are some fights I would make for some of the fighters who fought at UFC 257 on Saturday, and for those who fought at UFC On ESPN 20 on Wednesday:
- Dustin Poirier vs. Michael Chandler for the vacant UFC Lightweight Championship
- Conor McGregor vs. Paul Felder
- Dan Hooker vs. Tony Ferguson
- Michael Chiesa vs. Stephen Thompson
- Neil Magny vs. Geoff Neal
- Joanne Calderwood vs. Katlyn Chookagian
- Jessica Eye vs. Roxanne Modafferi
- Viviane Araujo vs. Jennifer Maia
- Marina Rodriguez vs. Claudia Gadelha
- Amanda Ribas vs. Virna Jandiroba
- Brad Tavares vs. Omari Akhmedov
- Julianna Pena vs. Holly Holm
- Matt Schnell vs. Amir Albazi
Here are some fights that were announced over the past week
- Ode Osbourne vs. Denys Bondar — UFC Fight Night — February 6
- Aiemann Zahabi vs. Drako Rodriguez — UFC Fight Night — February 20
- Phil Hawes vs. Nassourdine Imavov — UFC Fight Night — February 20
- Alexander Hernandez vs. Thiago Moises — UFC Fight Night — February 27
- Vince Cachero vs. Ronnie Lawrence — UFC Fight Night — February 27
- Dustin Jacoby vs. Maxim Grishin — UFC Fight Night — February 27
- Rani Yahya vs. Ray Rodriguez — UFC Fight Night — March 13
- Tai Tuivasa vs. Don’Tale Mayes — UFC Fight Night — March 20
- Leonardo Santos vs. Grant Dawson — UFC Fight Night — March 20
- Tyron Woodley vs. Vicente Luque — UFC 260 — March 27
- Randa Markos vs. Luana Pinheiro — UFC 260 — March 27
- Norma Dumont vs. Bea Malecki — UFC Fight Night — April 10
- John Makdessi vs. Ignacio Bahamondes — UFC Fight Night — April 10
- Zak Cummings vs. Sam Alvey — UFC Fight Night — April 10
Coming Up This Week
There aren’t any major MMA events this week, but there is a couple of smaller events. Here’s a look:
- LFA 98 on Friday, January 29 at 9 PM eastern time, airing on UFC Fight Pass.
- KSW 58 on Saturday, January 30 at 10 AM eastern time
- XMMA on Saturday, January 30 at 6 PM eastern time, featuring UFC veterans James Vick, Kyle Bochniak, Kyle Stewart, Francisco Rivera and more
This Week in MMA History
January 31 is notable for several events in MMA history, but on January 31, 2015, one of the most different UFC pay-per-view main events took place as the UFC held their, what used to be annual, Super Bowl Weekend pay-per-view event in Las Vegas, with UFC 183 taking place at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
The main event was an anticipated middleweight clash between Anderson Silva, returning for the first time since his devastating leg break in his second fight with Chris Weidman, and Nick Diaz, who was fighting for the first time since his loss to Georges St. Pierre. Despite both coming off losses, this was a fight that fans got into leading up to the show due to the personalities of both and seeing this as somewhat of a dream fight.
The fight was, well, a little goofy, at least early on. It is probably best known for when Diaz laid down in the Octagon (pictured above) as he was trying to goad Silva into fighting. The fight ended up going all five rounds, and Silva won by unanimous decision. However, in an extremely rare circumstance, the fight was changed to a no contest afterwards after both men failed their post-fight drug tests- Silva for steroids and Diaz for marijuana. There had been talk over the years about a rematch, but with Silva no longer a member of the UFC roster and Diaz’ status unknown (he hasn’t fought since this fight), it will likely never happen.
Also on the show, Tyron Woodley scored a decision over a very overweight Kelvin Gastelum, Al Iaquinta knocked out Joe Lauzon and proceeded to destroy his hotel room, Thales Leites submitted Tim Boetsch, and Thiago Alves finished Jordan Mein with a vicious body kick. In the prelims, Miesha Tate scored a decision over Sara McMann, Derek Brunson finished Ed Herman, and John Lineker missed weight and scored a decision over Ian McCall.
You can watch UFC 183 on UFC Fight Pass here: https://ufcfightpass.com/video/52793/ufc-183-silva-vs-diaz?playlistId=1850
In The Clinch
On this week’s edition of In The Clinch, myself and Paul Fontaine will take a look back at UFC 257 and UFC on ESPN 20, as we recap what happened on each show and look ahead to what is to come following those shows. We will also look at some of the news and give an update on The Big Payback betting game we have going. You can listen as part of the Fight Game Media Network, with our Patreon page found here.