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Monday MMA Round-Up: Kamaru Usman’s dominant reign

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 at what is ahead in the world of mixed martial arts. There was a big UFC event this past week, and a big Bellator announcement, so let’s dive in and take a look at all of the happenings.

Looking Back at UFC 258

  • Kamaru Usman made a statement that he is not only the best welterweight in the world, but he’s one of the best fighters in the world period with his third-round TKO win over Gilbert Burns in the UFC 258 main event. Usman was able to weather being rocked early by Burns, but took over from there, and showed his punching power and striking improvements, dropping Burns with a hard jab in the third and finishing him off with follow-up punches on the ground. It’s a great showing for Usman, who looks on his way to becoming a dominant champion at 170 lbs.
  • As for Usman’s next challenge, it’s clear he wants a rematch with Jorge Masvidal. It doesn’t make sense considering he just dominated Masvidal in July, but he hasn’t been a fan of Masvidal saying that the only reason he (Usman) won was because Masvidal didn’t have a training camp. It is also still Usman’s biggest chance to make the most money, which is always a factor. Usman and his manager floated the idea of him and Masvidal coaching TUF, and UFC is looking for coaches, so that is actually a great idea.
  • The TUF coaches were going to be Masvidal and Colby Covington, as it was always the plan. A deal had yet to be done, but they were working on it. However, with Khamzat Chimaev having to pull out of his fight against Leon Edwards for a third time, UFC is looking to book Covington against Edwards, which opens the door for looking for different TUF coaches.
  • There were lots of comparisons between Usman and Georges St. Pierre after the fight about who is the greatest welterweight of all-time. The answer is still St. Pierre, as Usman hasn’t achieved what GSP did in title fights, which is the ultimate telling when it comes to where all-time greats stand. St. Pierre had 13 title fight wins, and Usman is now only at four. They also fought in two different eras. Usman is building his legacy as the best welterweight in this era, and the comparisons aren’t fair to him, or even to GSP.
  • I really hope the UFC starts promoting Usman more. He can be a real big star for the company and has everything they look for when it comes to a marketable champion.
  • The rest of the UFC 258 card was so-so. I wouldn’t call it a bad event, but also wouldn’t call it a memorable event. It was one of those where, if you missed it, you didn’t miss much outside of the main event. There were some fighters who scored good wins, including Alexa Grasso, Julian Marquez, Anthony Hernandez and Polyana Viana.
  • Maycee Barber losing to Grasso shouldn’t come as that big of a surprise. Grasso is a really good, even underrated, fighter who still has the chance to compete for a title. Barber needs to figure out what she’s doing when it comes to training camps. This is already the third different training camp she’s been with in the three years she’s been with UFC, and the third different set of head coaches she’s had. That already screams that there may be issues with her when it comes to training- either she is clashing with her coaches or isn’t feeling she’s getting what she needs. And, at 22, that can be a real bad thing, especially for a fighter who always claimed she was going to become the youngest UFC champion ever. If she doesn’t find a camp and stick with it, she may never even get a chance to win that UFC title. If you look throughout the history of UFC, both in the past and currently, the most successful fighters in the sport are the ones who stuck with the same training camp throughout their entire careers.
  • There is growing momentum that a fight between TJ Dillashaw and Urijah Faber is going to be made, as the fight is currently in the works and being discussed. There is no date on when it would happen, but it appears to be the plan. I’ve personally been pushing for the fight to be made, and I didn’t think it would happen, but it’s a fight that makes sense given the history and beef between the two, even if it doesn’t make sense from a rankings standpoint.
  • There was an attempt to switch the dates of main event fights between Robert Whittaker and Paulo Costa, and between Darren Till and Marvin Vettori. Whittaker/Costa is scheduled for 4/17, and Till/Vettori is scheduled for 4/10. They wanted to move Whittaker/Costa to the 4/10 card, but Costa turned down fighting a week earlier. The reason for the attempt to switch is due to the 4/10 show being on ABC, while the 4/17 show will be on ESPN+, and they felt Whittaker/Costa would be a bigger fight for the ABC show. No word if Till/Vettori will remain as the main event for the 4/10 ABC show, or if they attempt to put a bigger fight in that spot, perhaps either the fight between Dillashaw and Faber, or a rumored fight between Cody Garbrandt and Jose Aldo, which is also in the works, and Garbrandt wants it in April.
  • Bellator made the big announcement this week that their events are moving to Showtime when they return on April 2. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, and they needed to get off of CBS Sports Network, but this could end up being just a lateral move. I really hope I’m wrong. Showtime has history with MMA, specifically Strikeforce, but that was ten years ago, and the viewership of both MMA and in general is different than it was then, and that was also before the rise of streaming services. I hope they can grow their audience.
  • I will say that Bellator is doing a great thing by holding a Light Heavyweight Grand Prix. They have the right amount of solid 205-pounders to pull it off, and the division only got stronger when adding Yoel Romero, Anthony Johnson and Corey Anderson. And kudos to them for doing the right thing and booking Romero against Johnson right away—that is arguably the biggest fight they could make in the entire company (which does speak volumes seeing as both are ex-UFC fighters).

Playing matchmaker

Here are some fights I would make for the fighters who competed at UFC 258 on Saturday:

  • Kamaru Usman vs. Jorge Masvidal
  • Gilbert Burns vs. Neil Magny
  • Alexa Grasso vs. Viviane Araujo
  • Maycee Barber vs. Lara Procopio
  • Kelvin Gastelum vs. Derek Brunson/Kevin Holland winner
  • Ricky Simon vs. Cody Stamann
  • Julian Marquez vs. Anthony Hernandez
  • Belal Muhammad vs. Li Jingliang
  • Polyana Viana vs. Ashley Yoder

Fight announcements

Here are some fights that were announced this past week:

  • Drakkar Klose vs. Luis Pena — UFC Fight Night — February 20
  • Rafael Alves vs. Pat Sabatini — UFC Fight Night — February 20
  • Nasrat Haqparast vs. Don Madge — UFC Fight Night — March 13
  • JP Buys vs. Bruno Silva — UFC Fight Night — March 20
  • Abu Azaitar vs. Marc-Andre Barriault — UFC 260 — March 27
  • Bellator Featherweight Champion Patricio Freire vs. Emmanuel Sanchez — Bellator 255 — April 2
  • Ryan Bader vs. Lyoto Machida — Bellator 256 — April 9
  • Corey Anderson vs. Dovletdzhan Yagshimuradov — Bellator 256 — April 9
  • Jack Shore vs. Hunter Azure — UFC Fight Night — April 10
  • Bellator Light Heavyweight Champion Vadim Nemkov vs. Phil Davis — Bellator 257 — April 16
  • Yoel Romero vs. Anthony Johnson — Bellator 257 — April 16
  • Anthony Smith vs. Jimmy Crute — UFC 261 — April 24
  • Danaa Batgerel vs. Kevin Natividad — UFC 261 — April 24
  • Dominick Reyes vs. Jiri Prochazka — UFC Fight Night — May 1 (MAIN EVENT)
  • Ji Yeon Kim vs. Poliana Botelho — UFC Fight Night — May 1
  • Andreas Michailidis vs. KB Bhullar — UFC Fight Night — May 1
  • Bellator Bantamweight Champion Juan Archuleta vs. Sergio Pettis — Bellator 258 — May 7
  • Ryan Benoit vs. Zarrukh Adashev — UFC Fight Night — May 8
  • Gina Mazany vs. Priscila Cachoeira — UFC 262 — May 15
  • David Dvorak vs. Raulian Paiva — UFC Fight Night — May 22

Coming up this week

Here are some upcoming events this week:

  • UFC On ESPN+ 43 takes place on Saturday, February 20. The entire event airs on ESPN+, with the main card at 8:00 PM ET and the prelims at 5:00 PM ET. Curtis Blaydes vs. Derrick Lewis is the main event. You can find my Guide to UFC On ESPN+ 43 later this week.
  • LFA 100 takes place on Friday, February 19. It airs on UFC Fight Pass at 9:00 PM ET.

This Week in MMA History

On February 20, 2005, PRIDE FC held their first event of 2005, with Pride FC 29: Fists Of Fury taking place at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan in front of 22,047 fans, and featuring some of the promotion’s biggest stars on the card.

Murilo Rua knees “Rampage” at PRIDE 29

In the main event, Mirko Cro Cop scored a first-round knockout over UFC half-of-famer Mark Coleman, furthering Cro Cop’s quest to fight Fedor Emelianenko. In the co-main event, Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson scored a decision win over Murilo ‘Ninja’ Rua, which set up Jackson fighting his brother, Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua, later on in the year. Shogun also fought on the card, scoring a TKO win over Hiromitsu Kanehara with a stomp.

Also on the card, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira scored a decision win over Alistair Overeem, future UFC Heavyweight Champion Fabricio Werdum submitted Tom Erikson in the first round, and notable other winners included Kiyoshi Tamura, Sergei Kharitonov and Igor Vovchanchyn.

You can watch Pride FC 29: Fists Of Fury on UFC Fight Pass here.

In The Clinch

On this week’s edition of In The Clinch, myself and Paul Fontaine will recap UFC 258, look ahead to UFC On ESPN+ 43, take a look at all of the news going on and recap our bets from The Big Payback.

You can listen to us on the Fight Game Media Network, which has a new pricing scale where you can listen to all of the shows available for just $8 a month, meaning you will get at least four episodes (possibly more) of our show each month. You can find our Patreon page here.

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