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. It was a busy week of fights this past week, so let’s dive right in to what’s going on.
Looking back at UFC, Bellator & ONE’s events
- Marvin Vettori got a solid win in the main event of UFC’s show on Saturday afternoon, with a dominant showing to get a decision win over Kevin Holland. It wasn’t an overly impressive performance, despite setting the record for most takedowns in a middleweight UFC fight, but he got the job done. After the fight, he was saying he wanted a title shot, which I doubt he’ll get for a few reasons, this performance being one of them. He should take another fight in the meantime, later in the year, and he’ll need a real statement-finish win.
- You have to give kudos to Holland for taking this fight on ten days’ notice, but it was further proof that he desperately needs to work on his takedown defense. He had no answer to the takedowns from Vettori, even though he was arguably winning the striking battle. Holland has fought seven times in the past eleven months. I really think he needs to take several months off and find some wrestlers to train with, even if it means leaving his comfort zone for a little while. He also needs to seriously consider dropping down to 170 lbs. because it’s abundantly clear he’s too small for 185 lbs. He gave up lots of size to huge wrestlers like Vettori and Derek Brunson, and even struggled against other large middleweights like Darren Stewart. His natural talent will get him past lower-level or past-their-prime middleweights, but he needs to re-evaluate what division he’s going to fight in.
- Arnold Allen should get a big fight in his next fight. He’s now 17–1 in his career, and 8–0 in UFC in a tough featherweight division. His win over Sodiq Yusuff on Saturday was arguably his best showing in UFC, despite him slowing down in the third round. He’s someone who could be fighting for a title by the end of 2021 or sometime in 2022.
- Another fighter who had an impressive win on Saturday who could be fighting for the title by 2022 was Mackenzie Dern. Her striking again looked good and when she got Nina Nunes (formerly known as Nina Ansaroff) down to the mat, it was game over as she submitted Nunes in the first. This should move Dern either near or into the top five, and she should be a fight or two away from challenging for the title.
- Other big winners and moments from Saturday’s UFC show were Julian Marquez, Mateusz Gamrot, Jack Shore and Impa Kasanganay as winners, and if you missed the fight between John Makdessi and Ignacio Bahamondes, that one is worth going out of your way to find a replay of.
- Ryan Bader was the first fighter to advance in the Bellator Light Heavyweight Grand Prix, beating Lyoto Machida by decision on Friday at Bellator 256. It wasn’t the most exciting fight, but Bader got his revenge on Machida beating him nine years ago. Bader will have a tough road to regaining the Bellator Light Heavyweight Championship, but he remains one of the favorites of the seven fighters remaining. The rest of the Bellator show—to be honest? You didn’t miss much if you missed it.
- ONE’s Wednesday debut on TNT couldn’t have gone much worse if the plan was to get big wins for Demetrious Johnson and Eddie Alvarez, as they both ended up on the losing end. Johnson’s loss to Adriano Moraes just showed how knees to grounded opponents can end up badly for those on the wrong end, while Alvarez getting disqualified for illegal shots to the back of the head on Iuri Lapicus. Both were needing wins, especially Alvarez, but things didn’t go as planned. It was a huge step back for ONE trying to make some headway in the US, as the show also didn’t retain much of the AEW lead-in audience.
- UFC Bantamweight Champion Aljamain Sterling announced this past week that he is having to undergo neck surgery and is expected to be out until the fall. It is hopeful he’ll be able to fight again in October, but it could still be too early to say despite what he’s saying publicly. His neck has been bothering him for years and he’s been in need of the surgery, but he was on the run to the title and didn’t want surgery to get in the way. He does feel he can’t fight again without it. As for what happens with the title, that is up in the air. They could always do an interim title between Petr Yan and the winner between Cory Sandhagen and TJ Dillashaw and give Sterling time to recover, but it is still too early to know what is going to happen.
- With Ryan Bader advancing in the Bellator Light Heavyweight Grand Prix, Scott Coker said they will look at introducing an Interim Bellator Heavyweight Championship, since Bader will be unable to defend the Bellator Heavyweight Championship anytime within the next six months.
- There are still no updates for main events for UFC’s Fight Night event on June 5, or UFC 263 for June 12. There is hope they can announce both within the next week or two, as well as a location for UFC 263.
- I will say I liked the look of the new UFC uniforms provided by Venum. They just looked visually better than the Reebok uniforms, even though the color schemes were pretty similar. They looked like shorts and gear made more for fighters instead of what Reebok produced. All of the fighters seemed to like it better as well. I hope they expand more of the look in the coming months and years.
Here are some fights I would make following Saturday’s UFC On ABC 2 event:
- Marvin Vettori vs. Darren Till
- Arnold Allen vs. Yair Rodriguez
- Julian Marquez vs. Trevin Giles
- Mackenzie Dern vs. Marina Rodriguez
- Daniel Rodriguez vs. Niko Price
- Mateusz Gamrot vs. Mike Davis
- Jack Shore vs. Kyler Phillips
- Da Un Jung vs. Dustin Jacoby
Here are some fights that were announced over the past week:
- Andrei Arlovski vs. Chase Sherman — UFC Fight Night — April 17
- Tristan Connelly vs. Pat Sabatini — UFC 261 — April 24
- Rory MacDonald vs. Curtis Millender — PFL 2 — April 29 (MAIN EVENT)
- Damon Jackson vs. Luke Sanders — UFC Fight Night — May 1
- Valerie Loureda vs. Hannah Guy — Bellator 258 — May 7
- Neil Magny vs. Geoff Neal — UFC Fight Night — May 8
- Amanda Ribas vs. Angela Hill — UFC Fight Night — May 8
- Mike Trizano vs. Ludovit Klein — UFC Fight Night — May 8
- Greg Hardy vs. Tai Tuivasa — UFC 264 — July 10
- Ode Osbourne vs. Amir Albazi — UFC Fight Night — July 17
- Guram Kutateladze vs. Don Madge — UFC Fight Night — July 17
- Khalid Taha vs. Sergey Morozov — UFC Fight Night — July 17
- Aspen Ladd vs. Macy Chiasson — UFC Fight Night — July 24
- Maycee Barber vs. Miranda Maverick — UFC Fight Night — July 24
Coming up this week
Here are some upcoming major MMA events taking place this week:
- UFC On ESPN 22 takes place on Saturday, April 17. The main card airs at 10 PM eastern time on ESPN, with prelims airing at 7:00 p.m. ET, also on ESPN. Robert Whittaker vs. Kelvin Gastelum is the main event.
- ONE on TNT 2 takes place on Wednesday, April 14. It airs at 10:00 p.m. ET on TNT.
- Bellator 257 takes place on Friday, April 16. It airs at 9:00 p.m. ET on Showtime. Bellator Light Heavyweight Champion Vadim Nemkov defends against Phil Davis in the main event, which is also a first-round bout in the Bellator Light Heavyweight Grand Prix. Corey Anderson takes on Dovletdzhan Yagshimuradov in another Bellator Light Heavyweight Grand Prix bout.
- LFA 104 takes place on Friday, April 16. It airs at 9:00 p.m. ET on UFC Fight Pass.
This week in MMA history
April 16, 2005 is looked at as one of the major turning points in UFC history, as it was the first pay-per-view event UFC held following the conclusion of the first season of The Ultimate Fighter, with UFC 52 being held at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. It was a huge success, as it drew 14,562 fans for a $2.6 million gate, and 280,000 pay-per-view buys, the most since the early years of UFC.
It was headlined by the battle between the coaches of the first season of TUF, as UFC Light Heavyweight Championship was on the line between champion Randy Couture and challenger Chuck Liddell. It was arguably the biggest fight in UFC history at that point. It was also Liddell’s crowning moment, as he knocked out Couture in just over two minutes to become the new champion and start the explosion of his popularity.
The show also witnessed one of the greatest fights in UFC history, as Matt Hughes retained the UFC Welterweight Championship over Frank Trigg by submission in the first round. It is one of the great one-round fights in history. Trigg landed a low blow that was missed early and was pounding away on Hughes, and then went for a rear-naked choke that was locked in. Hughes was able to escape and roll on top, and then picked up Trigg as they got to their feet, and ran him across the Octagon before slamming him in one of the most-replayed moments in UFC history. Hughes then locked in a rear-naked choke to get the win.
Other fights on the card saw Renato Sobral submitting Travis Wiuff in the second round, Matt Lindland submitting Travis Lutter in the second round, and future champion Georges St. Pierre winning a decision over Jason ‘Mayhem’ Miller.
You can watch UFC 52 on UFC Fight Pass here.
In The Clinch on the Fight Game Media Network
This week on In The Clinch, myself and Paul Fontaine will look back at UFC On ABC 2 and Bellator 256, preview UFC On ESPN 22, look at the big fights on Bellator 257, take a look at all of the news going on and much more. You can listen to In The Clinch on the Fight Game Media Network, with the Patreon page found here.