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Monday MMA Round-Up: Ngannou captures UFC gold

Hello, fight fans, and welcome to this week’s edition of the Monday MMA Round-Up, where we look at the week that was and look ahead to what’s happening in the world of mixed martial arts. It was a mostly-quiet week until a big UFC event on Saturday that produced some newsworthy topics, so let’s dig right in to what is happening.

Looking Back At UFC 260

  • Saturday night was the night Francis Ngannou had waited for his whole career when he knocked out Stipe Miocic in the second round at UFC 260 to become UFC Heavyweight Champion. Ngannou was far-and-away the better fighter on Saturday night, and he looked as scary as ever, showing his vast improvements made since the first time he and Miocic fought. It is hard to imagine anyone beating him at the moment given his improvement.
  • As for Miocic, it will be interesting to see what happens next with him. He’s 38 and has now suffered a couple of brutal knockout losses over the last few years. He’s always been someone who seems to take it one fight at a time, and who knows if he’ll fight again. He has nothing left to prove, and there was no talk of him getting an immediate rematch afterwards. Perhaps it was because of the nature of the loss and the trip to the hospital and they didn’t want to speculate on what’s to come, or perhaps there’s thinking he may not fight again. Dana White noted he hasn’t always had the best relationship with Miocic, but acknowledges him as the best heavyweight of all-time in UFC. If he decides to fight again, he should at least be considered an option to get the title back, though he still hasn’t fought anyone not named Ngannou or Cormier since May 2017.
  • The big talk afterwards for Ngannou was him against Jon Jones next. Jones has been anything but quiet on social media since Saturday night, mainly saying he’ll fight Ngannou but wants to be paid fairly to do so. No one knows what fairly to him means, but it’s clear he wants a huge payday for that fight. It’s a rough situation, and Dana White even said if Jones doesn’t want the fight, they could do Ngannou against Derrick Lewis next. Look, the next fight needs to be Ngannou against Jones. That has the potential to be one of the biggest fights in UFC history. Pay Jones, and Ngannou for that matter, what they want, or at least close to it, and get the fight done. That fight needs to happen.
  • For all of the talk going in of UFC 260 being a one-fight show, and it definitely was on paper, it sure did deliver one of the best cards since the pandemic started. There was action all down the show and lots of great finishes. Be sure to go back and watch it when you’re able to.
  • Saturday night also was the last time we’ll see former UFC Welterweight Champion Tyron Woodley compete in the Octagon as his loss to Vicente Luque was the final fight on his UFC contract. He’s about to turn 39 and has lost four straight, and it is almost a certainty that they will opt to not re-sign him. He did look good early on, bringing the fight to Luque, which is something he didn’t do in his last three fights, but his chin was rocked early and he just can’t take a punch anymore. I’m not sure if Woodley wants to continue fighting, but if he does, I’m sure there’s a spot in Bellator waiting for him.
  • Luque continues to be perhaps the most underrated fighter in the welterweight division. He is now 13–2 since a loss in his UFC debut, with the only two losses coming to Leon Edwards and Stephen Thompson- elite competition. He has earned a chance to headline a card and get a big fight. He is shooting for the stars in wanting to fight Nate Diaz, which won’t happen, but you have to give him props for trying.
  • Sean O’Malley silenced some of the critics he had, at least for now, with his performance on Saturday night. He was mixing everything well against Thomas Almeida, landing great kicks and punches before finishing Almeida in the third. If there is something to criticize him about, it was him walking away a couple of times thinking he had a walk-off knockout, only for the fight to keep going. He needs to cut that out in the future and keep fighting until it is actually stopped, because those actions could come back to get him one day.
  • Miranda Maverick only has two UFC bouts, but if she keeps improving and showing it like she did on Saturday night, she’ll be fighting for UFC gold before the end of 2022.
  • If you like brawls, please go back and watch the opening fight between Marc-Andre Barriault and Abu Azaitar. You’ll get your fix for some guys who just appreciated pounding away on each other.
  • This flew under the radar and had zero mention on the broadcast on Saturday, but UFC 260 was the final event where fighters will be wearing Reebok uniforms. Venum will be taking over on the next card on 4/10, and it will be interesting to see the difference, not only in uniforms and equipment, but in pay for the fighters. I’m not really going to miss the Reebok uniforms, as they were fairly bland and unremarkable, and Reebok didn’t really do that great of a job overall. Venum will be a massive improvement.
  • Dana White has confirmed what I wrote about in this column last week, and that is the hope that UFC 264 on July 10 will be held in the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, with a main event of Conor McGregor against Dustin Poirier in the trilogy bout. There are still lots of kinks to work out in getting approval for the show inside a full arena, but again, that is the hope.
  • White also said that he is done doing pay-per-view events at the UFC APEX unless forced to. We do know that UFC 261 and UFC 262 will be held in full arenas in Florida and Texas, but there has been no word yet on UFC 263 on June 12. It is possible that could land in either Florida or Texas, but there is also hopes they can get clearance to run full arena events in other states. In a perfect world, they’d be able to do overseas events and have a full travel schedule, but the world isn’t ready for that, and no telling when that will be. I expect an announcement on that to come sometime within the next several weeks.
  • Amanda Nunes’ next fight will be against Julianna Pena, and details are being worked out on that fight. It is possible it could land on the UFC 263 card if a deal comes together in the next two weeks.
  • Alexander Volkanovski is still sick and suffering effects from COVID-19, so there is no current timetable as to when his title defense against Brian Ortega is going to be re-scheduled.
  • Aljamain Sterling is dealing with neck issues, which have been a long-term issue with him. He’s still under medical suspension and has yet to even be cleared to train, but there is also no timetable at the moment on the rematch between him and Petr Yan.
  • Miesha Tate announced her return to competition this week, as she will be returning to action at the UFC card on 7/17 against Marion Reneau. Tate has also put in her notice to step down from her executive position with ONE Championship. Tate will bring some much-needed freshness to a rather stale women’s bantamweight division. She said she has the fire to compete once again, and she’s still relatively young at 34-years-old. A couple of wins and she could easily be granted a shot at re-gaining the bantamweight title, and her challenging Nunes would actually be a big fight for the division.
  • Always remember—MMA fighters don’t retire. They take breaks. Except for Khabib. He’s retired. For sure. His mother made him.

Playing matchmaker

Here are some fights I would make for those who competed at UFC 260 on Saturday:

  • Francis Ngannou vs. Jon Jones
  • Stipe Miocic vs. Alexander Volkov
  • Vicente Luque vs. Michael Chiesa
  • Sean O’Malley vs. Raphael Assuncao
  • Miranda Maverick vs. Andrea Lee-Antonina Shevchenko winner
  • Jamie Mullarkey vs. Devonte Smith
  • Alonzo Menifield vs. Da Un Jung-William Knight winner
  • Michal Oleksiejczuk vs. Ion Cutelaba-Devin Clark winner
  • Marc-Andre Barriault vs. Eryk Anders

Fight announcements

Here are some fights that were announced over the past week:

  • Cat Zingano vs. Olivia Parker — Bellator 256 — April 9
  • Liz Carmouche vs. Vanessa Porto — Bellator 256 — April 9
  • Corey Anderson vs. Dovletdzhan Yagshimuradov — April 257 — April 16
  • Jessica Penne vs. Hannah Goldy — UFC Fight Night — April 17
  • Tony Gravely vs. Anthony Birchak — UFC Fight Night — April 17
  • Alex Oliveira vs. Randy Brown — UFC 261 — April 24
  • Dwight Grant vs. Stefan Sekulic — UFC 261 — April 24
  • Johnny Munoz vs. Jamey Simmons — UFC 261 — April 24
  • Poliana Botelho vs. Mayra Bueno Silva — UFC Fight Night — May 1
  • Anthony Johnson vs. Yoel Romero — Bellator 258 — May 7
  • Patricky Freire vs. Peter Queally — Bellator 258 — May 7
  • Ronaldo Souza vs. Andre Muniz — UFC 262 — May 15
  • Damir Ismagulov vs. Rafael Alves — UFC 262 — May 15
  • Dusko Todorovic vs. Maki Pitolo — UFC Fight Night — June 5
  • Francisco Trinaldo vs. Muslim Salikhov — UFC Fight Night — June 5
  • Joanne Calderwood vs. Lauren Murphy — UFC 263 — June 12
  • Paul Craig vs. Jamahal Hill — UFC 263 — June 12
  • Tagir Ulanbekov vs. Tyson Nam — UFC Fight Night — June 19
  • Tim Elliott vs. Su Mudaerji — UFC Fight Night — June 26
  • Brad Tavares vs. Omari Akhmedov — UFC 264 — July 10
  • Jennifer Maia vs. Jessica Eye — UFC 264 — July 10
  • Ryan Hall vs. Ilia Topuria — UFC 264 — July 10
  • Miesha Tate vs. Marion Reneau — UFC Fight Night — July 17

Coming up this week

No UFC event this week, but plenty of action as Bellator returns for the first time in 2021 on a new network, so here’s a look at this upcoming week’s major MMA schedule:

  • Bellator 255 takes place on Friday, April 2, with the main card airing on Showtime at 9:00 ET. Bellator Featherweight Champion Patricio Freire defends against Emmanuel Sanders in the main event, which is also a semi-final bout in the Bellator Featherweight Grand Prix, with the winner moving to the finals against AJ McKee.
  • Brave CF 50 takes place on Thursday, April 1, at 8:30 a.m. ET. The card features former UFC fighters Ismail Naurdiev, Ali Bagautinov, Dustin Ortiz and Brad Katona.
  • CFFC 94 takes place on Thursday, April 1, at 7 p.m. ET airing on UFC Fight Pass.
  • CFFC 95 takes place on Friday, April 2, at 7 p.m. ET airing on UFC Fight Pass.

This week in MMA history

Chuck Liddell vs. Tito Ortiz at UFC 47

On April 2, 2004, the biggest fight in UFC history, at the time, finally took place after years of trying to book the fight, as UFC 47 took place at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, in front of 11,437 fans. It was also one of the early successes on pay-per-view for the UFC, garnering 105,000 buys. I remember this show vividly, as it was the first UFC show I ever attended as an 18-year-old kid with a fake ID in Las Vegas.

In the main event, the grudge match years in the making was settled, for now, as Chuck Liddell and Tito Ortiz squared off. Ortiz had claimed that he would never fight Liddell due to them being friends and training partners, while Liddell said there was never an agreement to never fight. There was a lot of trash talk, but in the end, it was Liddell coming victorious, as he finished Ortiz in the second round. They would fight twice again in their careers, with the two splitting the other two fights.

Also on the card, Chris Lytle submitted Tiki Ghosn, Yves Edwards won a split decision over Hermes Franca, Andrei Arlovski scored a TKO win over Wesley ‘Cabbage’ Correira, and Nick Diaz scored a second-round knockout over Robbie Lawler in a memorable fight and finish that has been replayed many times over the years.

You can watch UFC 47 on UFC Fight Pass here.

In the Clinch

This week on In The Clinch, myself and Paul Fontaine will look back at UFC 260, look ahead to what is next for Francis Ngannou and if it really is Jon Jones next, we will look ahead to Bellator returning as UFC takes a week off, take a look at all of the news and talk about plenty more. You can listen to In The Clinch on The Fight Game Media Network, with the Patreon page found here.

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