Hello, fight fans, and welcome to this week’s edition of the Monday MMA Round-Up, where we look at all of the happenings in the world of mixed martial arts. The worldwide leader in MMA, UFC, started a busy stretch this past week while other promotions are standing by waiting to get going again, so let’s dive in and take a look at what is going on in the MMA world.
Looking Back At UFC On ESPN+ 42
- It wasn’t the main event, but it felt like the biggest fight on the show, and Cory Sandhagen delivered a memorable moment when it counted most, knocking out Frankie Edgar with a flying knee in 28 seconds in what might end up being the Knockout Of The Year. It was a scary moment as Edgar went out cold and was stiff as he fell face-forward, but he ended up being okay. This was an absolute statement win by Sandhagen, and he should fight the winner between Petr Yan and Aljamain Sterling next- he’s earned that shot. Bantamweight is a fun division.
CORY SANDHAGEN WITH THE KNOCKOUT OF THE YEAR @SpinninBackfist
— Barstool Sports (@barstoolsports) February 7, 2021
- As for Edgar, it is tough to see him lose like that. That was a brutal loss, and it likely ends any chance he has of ever fighting for the bantamweight title. It is hard to see what’s next for him. He’s 39, has been in a lot of wars, and that’s three bad knockout losses in the last three years. It was a perfectly-timed knee from Sandhagen and likely would’ve knocked anyone out, but he may not be able to take those kinds of shots anymore. I don’t know what is next for him, but I would prefer he move back to 145 lbs. as he seemed better suited there, especially as he gets older.
- In the main event, Alexander Volkov looked very impressive in stopping Alistair Overeem in the second round. He was just so much better in there than Overeem was, and Volkov is really an underrated fighter. Aside from a last-minute loss to Derrick Lewis in a fight he was going to win, his only loss came to Curtis Blaydes, who is just a bad style match-up for anyone not named Francis Ngannou. Volkov could be fighting for a title in the next year or so.
- Heavyweight has suddenly become one of the more interesting divisions in the UFC after being one of the more uninteresting divisions for a long time. You have the outstanding title fight between Stipe Miocic and Francis Ngannou coming in March, but after that, you have Volkov, the winner of the fight between Curtis Blaydes and Derrick Lewis, and the winner of Jairzinho Rozenstruik and Ciryl Gane all waiting in the wings. That is without mentioning the big one– Jon Jones coming to the heavyweight division this year. This is a fun time for the big boys.
- I’m also not sure where Overeem goes from here. He turns 41 in May and it looks like he’s not going to make it for another chance at fighting for the UFC Heavyweight Championship. That has been the thing that has been driving his motivation, but the road is getting to the end there. I don’t think he retires yet, but there really isn’t much left for him to do in UFC at this point. He does still hold value as far as being a name who can headline shows.
- Beneil Dariush might be the most underrated fighter at 155 lbs. His win over Diego Ferreira made it six straight wins for him, and he’s improved leaps and bounds in the striking department, and he showed off his excellent grappling skills in this win. With all of the talk about the UFC Lightweight Championship and contenders for it, his name needs to be put right in the mix there.
- Two other fighters who scored nice wins on Saturday’s show were Clay Guida and Alexandre Pantoja. Guida looked to turn back the clock a little in getting a decision over Michael Johnson, and he talked afterwards about wanting to be tested against the young guys and not treated as a veteran. Pantoja got an impressive win over Manel Kape, who came into the fight with tons of hype. Pantoja had a close loss to the flyweight champion Deiveson Figueiredo in 2019, and he badly wants another chance at him.
- The rest of Saturday’s UFC show was so-so. The prelims were kind of lackluster aside from Ode Osbourne getting a 26-second knockout win and Devonte Smith making Justin Jaynes’ eye look like a small planet, but the five main fights delivered and it ended up being a good show.
- It came out this past week that UFC tried to put together a short-notice fight between Michael Chandler and Charles Oliveira for UFC 258, which takes place this coming Saturday. Chandler accepted the fight, but Oliveira turned it down, as he didn’t want to fight a tough opponent on less than two weeks’ notice with no training camp without the lightweight title on the line, but that he would’ve taken it if a title was up for grabs. I can’t blame Oliveira on that one. Speaking of which, can we get some full clarity on the UFC Lightweight Championship soon, please?
- UFC 258 is the big show this week, and while it’s not the sexiest of main cards, the overall show looks to be a good one. I don’t expect big business for this one, but the main event between UFC Welterweight Champion Kamaru Usman and former teammate Gilbert Burns is an interesting fight.
- Diego Sanchez’ retirement fight has been set, and he will fight Donald Cerrone on May 8. It was the fight I was personally campaigning for when Sanchez announced his next fight would be his last, as there is a lot of bad blood there. Kudos to the matchmakers for taking the suggestion.
- UFC continued their roster cuts this past week, with eleven fighters either cut or not having their contracts renewed. The biggest name on the list was former TUF: Brazil winner Antonio Carlos Junior, who had put together a nice UFC career, but had lost three straight and it looked like he was never going to get back into middleweight contention. The rest of the names were no surprise, as the remaining ten that were released had a combined 7–30 record in UFC.
- I talked about Bellator having yet to make any announcements about upcoming events and wondering when they were going to run. Shortly thereafter, word came out that they would be returning on April 9, but no official announcements have been made, yet, at least. They did announce that they would be making an announcement on Tuesday. I expect that announcement to be events and fights for those events, with the possibility of an announcement that their events will also end up airing on the new Paramount+ streaming channel, which launches in March.
- The PFL announced their light heavyweight, welterweight, lightweight and featherweight rosters for their upcoming season this past week, and there are lots of quality fighters in them, with room for more to be added. I’m looking forward to their events this year, as they have several nice match-ups that could be made there.
Here are some fights I would make for those who competed at UFC On ESPN+ 42 this past Saturday:
- Alexander Volkov vs. Jairzinho Rozenstruik/Ciryl Gane winner
- Alistair Overeem vs. Junior Dos Santos
- Cory Sandhagen vs. Petr Yan/Aljamain Sterling winner
- Frankie Edgar vs. Calvin Kattar
- Clay Guida vs. Vinc Pichel
- Alexandre Pantoja vs. David Dvorak
- Beneil Dariush vs. Rafael Dos Anjos
- Diego Ferreira vs. Gregor Gillespie
- Devonte Smith vs. Joel Alvarez
Here are the fights that were announced over the past week:
- Bobby Green vs. Jim Miller — UFC 258 — February 13
- Marion Reneau vs. Macy Chiasson — UFC Fight Night — February 27
- Emily Whitmire vs. Sam Hughes — UFC Fight Night — February 27
- Sean O’Malley vs. Thomas Almeida — UFC 260 — March 27
- Jessica Penne vs. Hannah Goldy — UFC 260 — March 27
- Arnold Allen vs. Sodiq Yusuff — UFC Fight Night — April 10
- Aliaskhab Khizriev vs. Kyle Daukaus — UFC Fight Night — April 10
- Luis Saldana vs. Jordan Griffin — UFC Fight Night — April 10
- Tracy Cortez vs. Justine Kish — UFC Fight Night — April 17
- Uriah Hall vs. Chris Weidman — UFC 261 — April 24
- Cub Swanson vs. Gavin Tucker — UFC Fight Night — May 1
- Damon Jackson vs. TJ Laramie — UFC Fight Night — May 1
- Kai Kamaka vs. TJ Brown — UFC Fight Night — May 1
- Mike Jackson vs. Dean Barry — UFC Fight Night — May 1
- Donald Cerrone vs. Diego Sanchez — UFC Fight Night — May 8
Coming Up This Week
Here are the notable MMA events taking place this week:
- UFC 258 is this week’s big show as UFC returns to pay-per-view on Saturday, February 13. It airs on ESPN+ PPV at 10 p.m. eastern time, with prelims on ESPN at 8 PM eastern time, and early prelims on ESPN+ at 6:30 p.m. eastern time. UFC Welterweight Champion Kamaru Usman defends against Gilbert Burns in the main event.
- Eagle Fighting Championship 33, the promotion owned by Khabib Nurmagomedov, has an event on Tuesday, February 9 at 8 a.m. eastern time.
- ACA 117 takes place on Friday, February 12 at 8 a.m. eastern time.
- Titan FC 67 takes place on Friday, February 12 at 6:30 p.m. eastern time, airing on UFC Fight Pass.
- LFA 99 takes place on Friday, February 12 at 9 p.m. eastern time, airing on UFC Fight Pass.
This Week In MMA History
A brand new fight promotion that ended up taking the MMA world by storm for the short period of their existence debuted on this week in 2007, as EliteXC held their very first event on February 10, 2007 in Southaven, Mississippi with EliteXC: Destiny. The show aired on Showtime and did a fantastic 1.62 rating.
In the main event, it was the next in line in the feud between the Gracies and the Shamrocks as Frank Shamrock and Renzo Gracie squared off. Gracie won the fight in the second round by disqualification, as Shamrock landed two knees to the head of Gracie while he was a downed opponent. He had already been warned once during the fight by Herb Dean for landing punches to the back of Gracie’s head.
This event also made history as it featured the very first female MMA fight aired live on television as Gina Carano defeated Julie Kedzie by unanimous decision. Also on the main card, Antonio ‘Bigfoot’ Silva finished Wesley ‘Cabbage’ Correira in the first round, Joey Villasenor scored a decision over David Loiseau, and Charles ‘Crazy Horse’ Bennett knocked out KJ Noons in the first round. Among the notables scoring wins in the prelims were Riki Fukuda, Javier Vazquez and Mike Pyle.
You can watch EliteXC: Destiny on UFC Fight Pass here.
In The Clinch
On this week’s episode of In The Clinch, myself and Paul Fontaine will recap UFC On ESPN+ 42, we will preview UFC 258, and take a look at all of the news and happenings in the MMA world, as well as give our best bets for UFC 258 and look at how our bets did this past week. You can listen to us on the Fight Game Media Network, with our Patreon page found here.