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. If you are a fan of fight announcements, there were plenty of those this week, so let’s get right into everything that went on.
Looking Back At UFC on ESPN+ 44
- Well, it was an event that existed. It felt like the most forgettable UFC show in a long time. The main event between Ciryl Gane and Jairzinho Rozenstruik, which Gane won by unanimous decision, was far from a good fight. It wasn’t completely horrible, but it wasn’t a good one. Both men needed great showings to get themselves in that title shot talk, and while Gane looked good in showing a well-rounded attack, it’s not a win that screams title contention right now. Rozenstruik did next to nothing throughout the fight, and didn’t look good in losing. Oh well, sometimes not every exciting match-up works out.
- There was a really exciting fight between Pedro Munhoz and Jimmie Rivera on the show. Munhoz really utilized the calf kick and Rivera’s lead leg took a tremendous amount of damage. Munhoz was the clear winner, but Rivera never gave up and kept throwing some hard punches, which Munhoz ate really well. They both showed they belong inside the top ten at 135 lbs., which continues to be one of the best divisions in the sport. This was a rematch, and Munhoz and Rivera are now tied at one each, meaning a third fight has to happen sometime in the future.
- One fighter that looked impressive on the show was the only fighter to score a finish, and that was Ronnie Lawrence. His takedowns were fantastic and his striking was solid, even though he was unhappy with his striking in the fight. He’s young in his career, but he has lots of potential to be a player, and is another fantastic addition to the 135-pound division.
- There were tons of fight announcements this week, from all three major promotions, including the PFL announcing the full card for their first event of 2021. There were also plenty of announcements from UFC and Bellator, which are all listed below.
- UFC 261 on April 24 will have two title fights, as it was announced this week that UFC Women’s Strawweight Champion Zhang Weili will defend against Rose Namajunas in the headliner, and UFC Women’s Flyweight Champion Valentina Shevchenko will defend against Jessica Andrade. As of now, the event is planned to take place in Las Vegas, but that isn’t 100% official, as there is still talk of running events in either Florida or Texas, or both.
- Jorge Masvidal did commentary on the Canelo Alvarez fight this past weekend, and afterwards, he did an interview where he indicated he would be fighting Kamaru Usman in either August or September, more likely September. That is the plan, as it would coincide with the filming schedule and end of the upcoming season of The Ultimate Fighter. However, deals have yet to be signed, and with these two, it isn’t official until they sign the contracts.
- The rematch between UFC Flyweight Champion Deiveson Figueiredo and Brandon Moreno also has a date, with it taking place at UFC 263 on June 12. The first fight was incredible, and this one should be just as good.
- That leaves a big question: What will headline UFC 262 on May 15? The only titles that have champions currently not booked are welterweight and lightweight. With Kamaru Usman being earmarked for TUF with Masvidal, that one looks out of the picture. There’s still who knows what going on with the lightweight title, and it seems unlikely to be resolved anytime soon. Unless someone is looking to make a quick turnaround, it is possible there could be a non-title main event headline that card. Who could it be? This could be where Nate Diaz comes into play, whether against Justin Gaethje or Dustin Poirier, as Poirier said he wants that fight, but he also wants to get a good deal for it as well.
- Look for Kelvin Gastelum to potentially fight at UFC 260 on March 27. He’s been told to be prepared, and he is in camp getting ready, it is now just about finding an opponent.
- Kevin Lee is getting ready to return in the summer, and he wants to fight Tony Ferguson. They have fought once before, a fight won by Ferguson, but it is a fight that would make sense considering both of their places at 155 lbs. right now.
Here are some fights I would make for those who fought on Saturday at UFC On ESPN+ 44:
- Ciryl Gane vs. Alexander Volkov
- Jairzinho Rozenstruik vs. Blagoy Ivanov
- Magomed Ankalaev vs. Misha Cirkunov/Ryan Spann winner
- Nikita Krylov vs. Volkan Oezdemir
- Mayra Bueno Silva vs. Taila Santos
- Montana De La Rosa vs. Jessica Eye
- Pedro Munhoz vs. TJ Dillashaw
- Jimmie Rivera vs. Raphael Assuncao
- Thiago Moises vs. Arman Tsarukyan
- Alexis Davis vs. Marion Reneau/Macy Chiasson winner
- Dan Ige vs. Gavin Tucker — UFC Fight Night — March 13
- Angela Hill vs. Ashley Yoder — UFC Fight Night — March 13
- Charles Jourdain vs. Marcelo Rojo — UFC Fight Night — March 13
- Cortney Casey vs. JJ Aldrich — UFC Fight Night — March 13
- Gillian Robertson vs. Miranda Maverick — UFC 260 — March 27
- William Knight vs. Alonzo Menifield — UFC 260 — March 27
- Neiman Gracie vs. Jason Jackson — Bellator 255 — April 2
- Usman Nurmagomedov vs. Mike Hamel — Bellator 255 — April 2
- Jared Scoggins vs. Magomed Magomedov — Bellator 255 — April 2
- Tyrell Fortune vs. Matt Mitrione — Bellator 255 — April 2
- Jeremy Kennedy vs. Adam Borics — Bellator 256 — April 9
- Da Un Jung vs. Shamil Gamzatov — UFC Fight Night — April 10
- Impa Kasanganay vs. Sasha Palatnikov — UFC Fight Night — April 10
- Scott Holtzman vs. Mateusz Gamrot — UFC Fight Night — April 10
- Aaron Pico vs. Aiden Lee — Bellator 257 — April 16
- Jeremy Stephens vs. Drakkar Klose — UFC Fight Night — April 17
- Natan Levy vs. Austin Hubbard — UFC Fight Night — April 17
- Anthony Pettis vs. Clay Collard — PFL 2021 Event #1 — April 23 (MAIN EVENT)
- Natan Schulte vs. Marcin Held — PFL 2021 Event #1 — April 23
- Lance Palmer vs. Bubba Jenkins — PFL 2021 Event #1 — April 23
- Brendan Loughnane vs. Sheymon Moraes — PFL 2021 Event #1 — April 23
- UFC Women’s Strawweight Champion Zhang Weili vs. Rose Namajunas — UFC 261 — April 24 (MAIN EVENT)
- UFC Women’s Flyweight Champion Valentina Shevchenko vs. Jessica Andrade — UFC 261 — April 24
- Brendan Allen vs. Karl Roberson — UFC 261 — April 24
- Shinya Aoki vs. Sage Northcutt — ONE On TNT — April 28
- Sean Strickland vs. Krzsyztof Jotko — UFC Fight Night — May 1
- Felipe Colares vs. Journey Newson — UFC Fight Night — May 1
- Patchy Mix vs. James Gallagher — Bellator 258 — May 7
- Maurice Greene vs. Marcos Rogerio de Lima — UFC Fight Night — May 8
- Christian Aguilera vs. Carlston Harris — UFC Fight Night — May 8
- Andrea Lee vs. Antonina Shevchenko — UFC 262 — May 15
- Carla Esparza vs. Yan Xiaonan — UFC Fight Night — May 22
- Felicia Spencer vs. Danyelle Wolf — UFC Fight Night — May 22
- Denys Bondar vs. Victor Rodriguez — UFC Fight Night — May 22
- Rodrigo Nascimento vs. Alan Baudot — UFC Fight Night — May 22
- UFC Flyweight Champion Deiveson Figueiredo vs. Brandon Moreno — UFC 263 — June 12
Coming Up This Week
Here are this upcoming week’s events:
- UFC 259 is the big show this week, on Saturday, March 6, airing on ESPN+ pay-per-view at 10:00 p.m. ET, with prelims on ESPN at 8:00 p.m ET, and early prelims on ESPN+ at 6:00 p.m ET. UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jan Blachowicz defends against UFC Middleweight Champion Israel Adesanya in the main event. There are two additional title fights, as UFC Women’s Featherweight Champion Amanda Nunes defends against Megan Anderson, and UFC Bantamweight Champion Petr Yan defends against Aljamain Sterling.
- ONE Championship: Fists of Fury 2 takes place on Friday, March 5 at 6:00 a.m. ET on pay-per-view.
- iKon Fighting Federation 5 takes place on Friday, March 5, at 8:00 p.m. ET on UFC Fight Pass. UFC veteran Jason Knight competes in the main event.
This Week In MMA History
On March 3, 2007, one of the most memorable UFC events of that year took place when the Octagon debuted in Columbus, Ohio during the Arnold Classic for UFC 68. It was a sold-out event that, at the time, was the largest attendance for an MMA event in the United States, with 19,049 fans, over a $3 million gate, and 534,000 pay-per-view buys.
In the main event, UFC Hall Of Famer Randy Couture came out of retirement to once again become the UFC Heavyweight Champion, scoring a dominant decision win over Tim Sylvia to win the title. It was memorable for Couture dropping Sylvia with the first punch he threw, which caused a gigantic eruption in the crowd, and the crowd was loud for the rest of the fight. It was an incredible moment when Couture was announced as the winner and had the title wrapped around his waist.
Also on the card, Rich Franklin scored a second-round TKO win over Jason MacDonald, Matt Hughes won a decision over Chris Lytle, Martin Kampmann scored a first-round submission over Drew McFedries, and Jason Lambert scored a knockout win over Renato Sobral. In prelim fights, Matt Hamill, Jon Fitch, Gleison Tibau and Jamie Varner all scored wins.
You can watch UFC 68 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+ 44, we will preview this upcoming weekend’s UFC 259 event, we will look at all of the fight announcements made by UFC, Bellator and PFL, and whatever else we can come up with, so tune in. Check us out on The Fight Game Media Network Patreon page found here.