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, so let’s get right into what is going on.
Looking Back at
- UFC 263 was an absolutely fantastic event on Saturday night. The company has been hitting on all cylinders when it comes to these pay-per-view events back in front of live crowds, and the crowds have been great as well. It’s a hot company right now, with lots of weekly entertainment, and you should at least be watching the big events. You’re missing out if you aren’t.
- While he didn’t get the finish, Israel Adesanya’s dominant win over Marvin Vettori was yet another example of why he is far-and-away the best middleweight in the world. I don’t know if Vettori and his team had a bad game plan, or if Adesanya and his team knew what their game plan would be, but Vettori wasn’t even in the league of Adesanya on Saturday and Adesanya made him look foolish. It was a masterful performance, even if you aren’t a fan of title fights going the distance. I’m hard-pressed to find a middleweight who I think will beat Adesanya. He may be in for one of those title reigns that lasts until he decides he doesn’t want to fight any longer.
- I do think the UFC dodged a bullet with Marvin Vettori not winning the UFC Middleweight Championship. I have nothing against the guy, but I feel he would’ve been a potential PR nightmare for the company as champion. At the pre-fight press conference on Thursday, he said several things directed at Adesanya that were borderline racist and homophobic, and that doesn’t make for good trash talk at all. I think he’s a good fighter, but he needs to learn what you can and can’t say publicly, and perhaps he needs to learn to speak without cursing.
- Brandon Moreno, the ultimate underdog babyface, shocked the world when he submitted Deiveson Figueiredo to win the UFC Flyweight Championship on Saturday. As the week progressed and you saw how the two men were carrying themselves, coupled with Figueiredo appearing to have a rough weight cut, it just felt like Moreno was poised to get the win, but the way he did it, coupled with how dominant he was, had to be a total shock to everyone. Moreno came off like a superstar in front of the crowd in Glendale, and he’s now the first-ever Mexican-born UFC Champion, and the feeling is that he’ll become a massive superstar in Mexico. His story and journey is absolutely fantastic as well, and further proof that in MMA, the good guys can win.
"I worked so hard for this!"
— UFC on BT Sport (@btsportufc) June 13, 2021
- What can you say about Nate Diaz? Even in losing, he is still the second-biggest star in the UFC. He also made fans believe he could win, rocking Leon Edwards with just over a minute to go, but the combination of showboating and not enough time left on the clock led to Edwards getting a decision in a fight he clearly won. Diaz won’t lose anything at all in the loss, because everyone loves him and will always want to see him fight. He said he wants to fight again in three-to-four months, and after July 10, we could figure out what might be next for him.
- Leon Edwards absolutely deserves the next title shot at UFC Welterweight Champion Kamaru Usman. I know he didn’t finish Nate Diaz, but what more can you ask the guy to do? He hasn’t lost in his last ten fights, he’s won several five-round fights, he’s checked every box when it comes to getting a title shot. There are many guys who’ve gotten title shots without finishing opponents including Colby Covington who wasn’t finishing fights on his way to a title shot. He deserves Usman next more than anyone, but it does feel like he isn’t getting Usman next. Edwards needs to stand his ground and say he’s fighting for the title next. It might be the only way he gets the shot.
- When you look at fighters who had good UFC careers, Demian Maia is a prime example of someone who, while he never became a champion, had a great UFC career. His UFC run is more-than-likely over after UFC 263, as his loss to Belal Muhammad was the last fight on his contract, and Dana White said they wouldn’t be re-signing him. It was always unlikely, as he’s almost 44 and has lost several fights in a row. Maia ends his UFC career with 22 wins, second-most all-time, and a lasting submission legacy.
- The fight between Brad Riddell and Drew Dober is an absolute must-see fight. It was a back-and-forth brawl with both men rocking each other a few times and both landing big shots. It should end up among the contenders for “Fight Of The Year” when all is said-and-done this year.
- Other big winners on the night at UFC 263 were Lauren Murphy, Paul Craig and Terrance McKinney. McKinney scored a seven-second knockout in his UFC debut. Murphy won her fifth straight fight, scoring a decision win over Joanne Calderwood. She should be next in line for Valentina Shevchenko, though Dana White wouldn’t commit to it after the show. He rarely ever actually commits to title shots anyways, but she’s the clear next challenger to Shevchenko, so it will likely happen. She deserves it, and, after all, Shevchenko has to fight someone eventually.
- I’ve long thought that Douglas Lima was the second-best welterweight in the world, but Yaroslav Amosov made it clear that he is the second-best 170-pounder in the world with a dominant decision win over Lima at Bellator 260 on Friday to become the new Bellator Welterweight Champion. Amosov dominated with his wrestling, and coaches at American Top Team have said he’s the best wrestler who’s ever come through their camp. He might be a long-term champion in the division, as it is hard to see anyone giving him a challenge anytime soon.
- Bellator’s matchmaking of Paul Daley at Bellator 260 was a head-scratcher. Daley is someone who admittedly doesn’t know how much longer he will fight, and now is the best time to put him in entertaining fights where he likes to slug it out with his opponents. Matching him up against strong wrestlers, which is what they did on Friday (against Jason Jackson who dominated him) was a complete waste of a fight for Daley. I hope he comes back, and I hope they match him up against someone who will bring an entertaining fight.
- Aaron Pico, probably for the first time, actually looked like a fighter who could become a future champion with his dominant win over Aiden Lee on Friday. It wasn’t his toughest opponent yet, but it was the most complete performance that Pico has had, winning with striking and wrestling before getting the submission. Pico is always in exciting fights, and they may have rushed him early in matchmaking, but they’ve done a great job in building him back up to where I can’t wait to see what he does next.
- Claressa Shields’ MMA debut at PFL #4 on Thursday was successful, and, quite honestly, it had to be what you would expect from her. She is an extreme novice in grappling, and even against an opponent with a 3-6 record, that inexperience is going to show. It takes time to become a competitive grappler against even lower-level opponents. Her striking was still solid, and she got the win after taking some lumps. I’m not sure what her ceiling is in MMA, and constant moving between boxing and MMA may stunt her potential, but her next fight will be interesting to say the least.
- In an update from last week, UFC 266 will actually take place on September 25 at a location to be announced. Dana White did announce that UFC Featherweight Champion Alexander Volkanovski defending against Brian Ortega is being targeted for that event, but has yet to be signed.
- Nick Diaz will be returning to UFC action in 2021. There’s no word when it will be or who it will be against, but I’d match him up against either Robbie Lawler or Carlos Condit.
- Dana White responded to Paulo Costa’s recent comments, saying that Costa is in no position to be talking about crazy money after his last performance, which was Costa’s loss to Israel Adesanya that came after Costa claimed his performance was affected by drinking wine all night before the fight. White certainly does have a point with his comment there. White said he would be happy to let Costa fight out his contract and let him go see what he’s worth on the open market. Costa claiming that he should be paid the same as the Paul brothers make for boxing, even though they’ve been celebrities for 10+ years and thus can command ridiculous amounts of money for garbage boxing fights, is one of the more ridiculous statements made by a fighter, and he’s someone who has been making lots of those lately. It remains to see what happens, but Costa is definitely overplaying his value in this situation.
Here are some fights I would make following UFC 263 on Saturday night:
- Israel Adesanya vs. Robert Whittaker
- Marvin Vettori vs. Paulo Costa
- Brandon Moreno vs. Askar Askarov
- Deiveson Figueiredo vs. Alexandre Pantoja
- Leon Edwards vs. Kamaru Usman
- Nate Diaz vs. Dustin Poirier-Conor McGregor loser
- Belal Muhammad vs. Li Jingliang
- Paul Craig vs. Volkan Oezdemir
- Brad Riddell vs. Gregor Gillespie
- Lauren Murphy vs. Valentina Shevchenko
- Movsar Evloev vs. Bryce Mitchell
- Pannie Kianzad vs. Aspen Ladd
Here are some fights that were announced over the past week:
- Andre Fili vs. Daniel Pineda — UFC Fight Night — June 26
- Julia Avila vs. Julija Stoliarenko — UFC Fight Night — June 26
- Billy Quarantillo vs. Gabriel Benitez — UFC Fight Night — July 17
- Bellator Featherweight Champion Patricio Pitbull vs. AJ McKee — Bellator 263 — July 30 (MAIN EVENT)
- Casey Kenney vs. Song Yadong — UFC 265 — August 7
- Roosevelt Roberts vs. Ignacio Bahamondes — UFC Fight Night — August 21
- Tracy Cortez vs. JJ Aldrich — UFC Fight Night — August 28
- Tafon Nchukwi vs. Mike Rodriguez — UFC Fight Night — September 18
- Jessica Andrade vs. Cynthia Calvillo — UFC 266 — September 25
- Manon Fiorot vs. Mayra Bueno Silva — UFC 266 — September 25
- Jared Gordon vs. Joe Solecki — UFC Fight Night — October 2
Coming Up This Week
Here are some of the major MMA events taking place this week:
- UFC on ESPN 25 takes place on Saturday, June 19, back at the UFC APEX in Las Vegas. The entire card airs on ESPN2 and ESPN+, with the main card at 7 PM eastern time, and prelims at 4 PM eastern time. “The Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung takes on Dan Ige in the main event.
- PFL #5 takes place on Thursday, June 17, from Atlantic City. The main card airs on ESPN2 at 9 PM eastern time, with prelims airing on ESPN+ at 5:30 PM eastern time. Rory MacDonald takes on Gleison Tibau in the main event.
- UAE Warriors 20 takes place on Saturday, June 19, at 9 AM eastern time, with a main event of Jesse Arnett battling former UFC title challenger Ray Borg.
This Week in MMA History
On June 20, 2009, one of the best fights in UFC history took place, one that ended up being inducted into the Fight Wing of the UFC Hall Of Fame. It headlined The Ultimate Fighter 9 Finale, which took place at The Palms in Las Vegas, in front of 2,217 fans.
In that all-time classic, Diego Sanchez scored a split decision over Clay Guida in a back-and-forth brawl. It got off to a hot start with the two of them just throwing big shots at each other in the opening seconds, and they never let up throughout the fifteen minutes. It established both men as must-see fighters, and was the real fight that gained Guida the recognition as a hardcore fan favorite. The win would propel Sanchez into a title shot against then UFC Lightweight Champion BJ Penn.
Also on the card, two new Ultimate Fighter winners were declared, both of them from England, as James Wilks and Ross Pearson earned the six-figure contracts. Also on the card, Chris Lytle scored a decision win over Kevin Burns, and former TUF winners battled as Joe Stevenson got a decision over Nate Diaz.
You can watch The Ultimate Fighter 9 Finale on UFC Fight Pass here.
In The Clinch
This week on In The Clinch, myself and Paul Fontaine will recap UFC 263, look back at some notable stuff that took place on the Bellator and PFL shows, look ahead to UFC On ESPN 25, and much more. You can listen to In The Clinch on The Fight Game Media Network, through our Patreon page found here.