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. And, what a week it was, so let’s not waste much time and dig right in.
Looking Back at UFC 259
- You can’t help but impressed with the performance of Jan Blachowicz in the main event, as he became the first man to defeat Israel Adesanya in MMA competition when he prevented Adesanya from becoming a double champion on Saturday, winning by unanimous decision. I thought it was a good fight, not the exciting one many were hoping for, but a very sound, technical fight from both men. I had it scored 48-47 for Blachowicz, and I don’t think he won four rounds, but I felt he won the fight for sure, even though I did see some scores for Adesanya. You have to be impressed with Blachowicz, who once again was the underdog being counted out, and this proves that he is a worthy UFC Light Heavyweight Champion.
- As for Adesanya, this was a move that didn’t work out. It felt like pure talent was going to make the difference in this one, but the size advantage was just too much. Trying to go up 20 lbs., and then giving up 20 lbs., is a lot to ask of a fighter, not matter the talent. He came close to winning, and just a few different things could’ve changed the fight. He’ll go back to middleweight, where he should just stay, and he has a plethora of opponents waiting in the wings. It’s a shame he won’t have the chance to finish his career as an undefeated fighter, and perhaps had he not took this chance, it would be a big question if that was an attainable goal.
- Amanda Nunes’ performance on Saturday night was just incredible. She absolutely thrashed Megan Anderson, and probably made it look easier than most could even expect. She is clearly the greatest female fighter of all-time, and one of the best overall of all-time. That was also likely it for the women’s featherweight division, though Dana White said the division will continue even though there’s no one left. Nunes will likely be going back down to 135 lbs. to defend the bantamweight championship next, but against who? Signs are starting to point to Julianna Pena as getting the next shot. Pena has been vocal in claiming that Nunes is running from her, which we know is talk, but it may have worked. Pena won her last fight, and she was scheduled to fight Holly Holm in May, but Holm has pulled out due to injury, leaving Pena with no fight. With UFC 262 in May currently without a main event or a title fight, there’s a good chance they could try to get Nunes to make a quick return and defend against Pena on that card.
- Petr Yan made a bonehead maneuver, and it cost him the UFC Bantamweight Championship in a fight he was cruising to victory in. Aljamain Sterling brought him a fight early on, but gassed during the second round and Yan started coming on strong. Yan then made the stupid move in the fourth, while Sterling was a downed opponent and the referee clearly said he was down, and Yan landed a knee right to the head of Sterling; a blatant and intentional illegal strike. Sterling was done from that, even though he said he didn’t want to win the fight that way, but also admitted he was seeing double and was having trouble standing. Yan was disqualified, and with that Sterling became the new champion in the first time a UFC title changed hands via a disqualification. This is going to lead to an immediate rematch, which White said will be re-booked as soon as possible, but I sense it could be the summer time before the rematch is made.
- Islam Makhachev might be the future UFC Lightweight Champion in waiting. He had an absolutely dominant win over Drew Dober, submitting him in the third round, running his record to 19-1. His close friend, Khabib Nurmagomedov, said that Makhachev’s destiny is to hold the title, and he should be right up there in the mix with the top guys with his seven-fight win streak. Makhachev has all of the tools. He said post-fight that he wants to fight Tony Ferguson, which actually sounds like a great idea, and it would be a chance for Makhachev to enact a little bit of vengeance for the one that got away from Khabib.
- Speaking of Khabib, he is still the current UFC Lightweight Champion. There is still no update on his official status from Dana White, who still keeps trying to convince him to fight, even asking him if he would fight in September this past weekend. Khabib just laughed it off and didn’t respond. They’re supposed to have dinner sometime this week, which, if you’ve seen Khabib this past week or recently, he hasn’t been missing meals and doesn’t look like someone planning to fight anytime soon. This whole saga is starting to get boring, and can we just get to the end of it already?
- Other impressive winners on Saturday were Kyler Phillips, Askar Askarov, Kai Kara-France, Kennedy Nzechukwu, Sean Brady, Amanda Lemos and Uros Medic. Really, all of the prelim winners had great showings, and if you missed the prelims, I suggest going back and watching them.
- Aleksandar Rakic won a boring decision over Thiago Santos and then received his brown belt in jiu-jitsu following the fight, which had zero grappling in it. In fact, Rakic has only won one time in his career by submission. It was a bad loss for Santos and not a good win for Rakic.
- The big news outside of the Octagon this past week was UFC’s releases of former UFC Heavyweight Champion Junior Dos Santos and former UFC title challenger Alistair Overeem. Overeem was a mild surprise release, while Dos Santos was less of a surprise release, though both are still names who could headline events. Dos Santos had lost four straight, and his peak has been long gone. He was offered a short-notice fight after the decision was made to cut him, and he ended up turning it down, which made the cut official. Overeem had won more recently than he had lost, but all of his losses have come to top contenders, and there was no chance he would ever get another crack at UFC gold. Both releases make sense.
- TJ Dillashaw has a fight in the works, and turns out it won’t be against Urijah Faber, who still hasn’t committed to returning. It is said to be a title eliminator fight, with all signs pointing to Cory Sandhagen being the opponent. Sandhagen, for what it’s worth, neither confirmed nor denied he was fighting Dillashaw next. Many thought Sandhagen had the next title shot locked up, but with the bantamweight title situation now in crazy limbo after this weekend, it makes even more sense to book this fight.
- Dana White heard about Texas opening everything up to full capacity, including sporting events, and he can’t wait to come to Texas and run shows with full arenas. He got approval from Texas Governor Greg Abbott, who is getting criticized left-and-right for seemingly not caring about the citizens of his state. However, mayors in all of the big cities in Texas have said they won’t allow such events to take place in their cities right now. Look Dana, I get it, we all want shows with fans in the building. It would be a sign of normalcy. But, there is no need to rush this. You need to err on the side of caution for everyone involved; from your staff, to your fighters, to the fans who attend. You don’t need to run a show with fans in March. Re-evaluate for April and see what happens. And, as someone from Texas, please wait until we get more of the state vaccinated before you even consider this. Do the right thing.
Here are some fights I would make next for the fighters who competed at UFC 259 on Saturday:
- Jan Blachowicz vs. Glover Teixeira
- Israel Adesanya vs. Robert Whittaker (if Whittaker defeats Paulo Costa)
- Amanda Nunes vs. Julianna Pena
- Aljamain Sterling vs. Petr Yan
- Islam Makhachev vs. Tony Ferguson
- Aleksandar Rakic vs. Dominick Reyes-Jiri Prochazka winner
- Dominick Cruz vs. Frankie Edgar
- Kyler Phillips vs. Raoni Barcelos
- Askar Askarov vs. Deiveson Figueiredo-Brandon Moreno winner
- Kai Kara-France vs. Tim Elliott
- Kennedy Nzechukwu vs. Dustin Jacoby
- Sean Brady vs. Muslim Salikhov
- Amanda Lemos vs. Angela Hill-Ashley Yoder winner
Here are some fights that were announced over the past week:
- Jim Miller vs. Joe Solecki — UFC Fight Night — April 10
- Paul Daley vs. Sabah Homasi — Bellator 257 — April 16
- Luis Pena vs. Alexander Munoz — UFC Fight Night — April 17
- Johnny Munoz vs. Mark Striegl — UFC 261 — April 24
- Ariane Carnelossi vs. Na Liang — UFC 261 — April 24
- Rory MacDonald vs. David Michaud — PFL 2 — April 29 (MAIN EVENT)
- Tom Lawlor vs. Antonio Carlos Junior — PFL 2 — April 29
- Emiliano Sordi vs. Chris Camozzi — PFL 2 — April 29
- Gleison Tibau vs. Aleksei Kunchenko — PFL 2 — April 29
- Cub Swanson vs. Giga Chikadze — UFC Fight Night — May 1
- Gabriel Benitez vs. Jonathan Pearce — UFC Fight Night — May 1
- Raufeon Stots vs. Josh Hill — Bellator 258 — May 7
- Roxanne Modafferi vs. Taila Santos — UFC Fight Night — May 8
- Jimmy Flick vs. Francisco Figueiredo — UFC Fight Night — May 8
- Tafon Nchukwi vs. Jun Yong Park — UFC Fight Night — May 8
- Damir Hadzovic vs. Nikolas Motta — UFC Fight Night — May 8
- Edson Barboza vs. Shane Burgos — UFC 262 — May 15
- Marcin Tybura vs. Walt Harris — UFC Fight Night — June 5
- Maryna Moroz vs. Manon Fiorot — UFC Fight Night — June 5
- Carlos Felipe vs. Jake Collier — UFC 263 — June 12
- Matt Brown vs. Dhiego Lima — UFC Fight Night — June 19
- Virna Jandiroba vs. Kanako Murata — UFC Fight Night — June 19
- Josh Parisian vs. Rogue Martinez — UFC Fight Night — June 19
- Bruno Silva vs. Wellington Turman — UFC Fight Night — June 19
- Ovince Saint Preux vs. Maxim Grishin — UFC Fight Night — June 26
Coming Up This Week
Here is a list of what is coming up this week:
- UFC On ESPN+ 45 takes place on Saturday, March 13 in Las Vegas. The entire show streams on ESPN+, with the main card at 8 PM eastern time and prelims at 5 PM eastern time. Leon Edwards vs. Belal Muhammad is the main event.
- CFFC 92 takes place on Thursday, March 11. It airs on UFC Fight Pass starting at 7 PM eastern time.
- CFFC 93 takes place on Friday, March 12. It airs on UFC Fight Pass starting at 7 PM eastern time.
- LFA 101 takes place on Friday, March 12. It airs on UFC Fight Pass starting at 9 PM eastern time.
- Rise FC 6 takes place on Saturday, March 13. UFC veterans Elias Theodorou and Matt Dwyer meet in the main event.
This Week in MMA History
On March 10, 2006, the very first event in the history of Strikeforce took place in San Jose, California in front of 18,265 fans, which at the time was the most attended MMA event in the United States. It was the start of a promotion that left its mark on the MMA landscape during their history, which ended in 2013 after Zuffa (which brought the promotion in March 2011) shut it down and brought all of the fighters over to UFC.
In the main event of the first show, Frank Shamrock continued the Shamrock vs. Gracie rivalry, knocking out Cesar Gracie in just 21 seconds in what was Shamrock’s return to the sport after a three-year absence. Also on the main card were a lot of fighters who became household names and big stars in the sport. Clay Guida won a decision over Josh Thomson to become the first-ever Strikeforce Lightweight Champion, Cung Le, in his MMA debut, knocked out Mike Altman, Gilbert Melendez made Harris Sarmiento tap to punches, and a little-known prospect named Nate Diaz scored a TKO win over Tony Juarez.
Among the notable fighters competing on the prelims were Mike Kyle, Krzysztof Soszynski, Eugene Jackson, Brian Ebersol, Matt Horwich and former WWE Tough Enough winner Daniel Puder.
In The Clinch
This week on In The Clinch, myself and Paul Fontaine will recap UFC 259, take a look at UFC On ESPN+ 45, and talk about all of the news from this past week in the world of MMA. You can listen to us on The Fight Game Media Network, with our Patreon page here.