Makhachev, Tate score wins at UFC Vegas 31
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 wasn’t as crazy of a week this week as it was last week, but some notable things did go down, so let’s look back at all of it.
Looking Back at UFC On ESPN 26
- If he hadn’t established himself as a lightweight title threat before Saturday, Islam Makhachev’s dominant fourth-round submission win over Thiago Moises in the main event of UFC On ESPN 26 did just that. Makhachev has a style that doesn’t always make for exciting fights, but it’s extremely effective, and, if you can’t stop him from taking you down, then it will probably make for a long night. It’s time for him to start fighting top-five competition, and those inside the top-five need to stop ducking him. He could be the champion at 155 lbs. within a year—he’s that good.
- Miesha Tate looked outstanding in her return from retirement, as she finished Marion Reneau in the third round as she used her well-rounded takedown attack to dominate from the top throughout the fight. Tate was in incredible shape and looked just as good as she did when she went on her run to become a UFC champion. She made it very clear the gold is to win the title again, and, after that performance, she could be just one fight away from challenging for that title. Paul Fontaine wrote about her road back to the UFC.
- Happy trails to Marion Reneau, who called it a career following her loss to Miesha Tate on Saturday. It was known going in that it would be her final fight, and she gave it her all. Reneau had a unique career in that she didn’t even start her professional MMA career until she was 32, and didn’t even make it to UFC until she was 37, an age at which most fighters are too old to make it to the world’s premier MMA promotion. While she didn’t end her career on a high note, she was someone you could never count out in a fight, and the loss to Tate was the only time she was ever finished in her career.
- Mateusz Gamrot is a name to watch out for at 155 lbs. He scored a 65-second submission win over Jeremy Stephens, just running through the UFC veteran and handing him his quickest career loss. Gamrot is now 19–1 and improving, and he could find himself up in the rankings in the next few fights if he keeps it up.
- Other fighters who had impressive wins at UFC On ESPN 26 on Saturday were Billy Quarantillo, Daniel Rodriguez and Amanda Lemos. All three looked primed for some ranked opposition for their next fights, and Lemos made the biggest statement in scoring a 35-second win, which is generally unheard of at 115 pounds.
- If you missed Bellator 262 on Friday night, well, to be honest, you didn’t really miss much. Juliana Velasquez retained the Bellator Women’s Flyweight Championship in a close split decision over Denise Kielholtz. It was a very uneventful fight, but was close enough that it could’ve gone either way, and many thought the decision was controversial. Realistically, in a fight that bad, we were all losers.
- UFC announced that the 2021 International Fight Week would take place from September 21–25 in Las Vegas, culminating with UFC 266 on 9/25. While it traditionally takes place in July, logistics made it easier for it to happen in September, as the week will include the UFC Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony on Thursday, as well as two days of a special UFC Fan Experience on Friday and Saturday.
- UFC 266 will be a big event with two title fights, and three total five-round fights. The main event was made official this week, as it will be UFC Featherweight Champion Alexander Volkanovski defending against Brian Ortega. In the second title fight, Valentina Shevchenko will defend the UFC Women’s Flyweight Championship against Lauren Murphy, who decided that September would be just fine for her to have time to prepare to challenge Shevchenko. Also, the fight between Robbie Lawler and Nick Diaz was made officially-official, and it will be five rounds. Why, you may ask? It was going to be the co-main event and they had contracts signed for five rounds before the Shevchenko/Murphy booking was finalized for the event.
- What’s up with Justin Gaethje? UFC has been attempting to book a fight between Gaethje and Michael Chandler, but Gaethje’s manager, Ali Abdelaziz, says Chandler doesn’t deserve that fight, and that Gaethje should be fighting Charles Oliveira next. Gaethje is one of UFC’s most exciting fighters, but he hasn’t fought since October, and fans are eager to see him return against anyone.
- Al Iaquinta has been campaigning to get a fight against Tony Ferguson next, and, quite frankly, I think that’s a great idea. We don’t know how much Ferguson has left in the gas tank after three straight losses, and Iaquinta hasn’t fought since October 2019 and has two straight losses. It would show exactly what both men have left to bring to the table.
- Dana White’s Contender Series officially returns on August 31, airing Tuesday nights on ESPN+ from the UFC APEX in Las Vegas. Tickets will be available to buy for the Contender Series show as UFC has started to sell a limited amount of tickets to events held at the UFC APEX, beginning with this Saturday’s event.
Here are some fights I would make next for those who fought at UFC On ESPN 26 on Saturday:
- Islam Makhachev vs. Beneil Dariush
- Miesha Tate vs. Germaine De Randamie
- Mateusz Gamrot vs. Arman Tsarukyan
- Rodolfo Vieira vs. Julian Marquez
- Billy Quarantillo vs. Charles Rosa
- Daniel Rodriguez vs. Santiago Ponzinibbio
- Amanda Lemos vs. Tecia Torres-Angela Hill winner
- Malcolm Gordon vs. Ode Osbourne-Manel Kape winner
- Rodrigo Nascimento vs. Chase Sherman-Parker Porter winner
Here are some fights that were announced over the past week:
- Ronnie Lawrence vs. Trevin Jones — UFC Fight Night — July 31
- Sam Alvey vs. Roman Kopylov — UFC Fight Night — July 31
- Magomed Ankalaev vs. Volkan Oezdemir — UFC Fight Night — September 4
- Taila Santos vs. Mandy Bohm — UFC Fight Night — September 4
- Marc-Andre Barriault vs. Dalcha Lungiambula — UFC Fight Night — September 4
- UFC Featherweight Champion Alexander Volkanovski vs. Brian Ortega — UFC 266 — September 25 (MAIN EVENT)
- UFC Women’s Flyweight Champion Valentina Shevchenko vs. Lauren Murphy — UFC 266 — September 25
- Robbie Lawler vs. Nick Diaz — UFC 266 — September 25
- Mariya Agapova vs. Sabina Mazo — UFC Fight Night — October 9
- Phil Hawes vs. Deron Winn — UFC Fight Night — October 9
Coming up this week
- UFC On ESPN 26 takes place on Saturday, July 24 from the UFC APEX in Las Vegas. The entire card airs on ESPN and is simulcast on ESPN+, with the main card at 7:00 p.m. ET with the prelims at 4:00 p.m ET. Cory Sandhagen takes on TJ Dillashaw in the main event.
- Fury FC 48 takes place on Sunday, July 25 from Houston, Texas, airing at 3:30 p.m ET on UFC Fight Pass.
This Week in MMA History
The whole MMA world had their eyes glued to UFC Fight Pass on July 19, 2014, as the Octagon returned to Dublin, Ireland for the first time in over five years. Irish MMA had grown so much over that time, which included the rise of a local superstar who would go on to be the biggest star in MMA history. On this July night, in front of a sold-out crowd of 9,500 at the O2 Arena, that superstar made his UFC return after eleven months out of action.
Conor McGregor made a triumphant return to action in the main event of UFC Fight Night 46, finishing Diego Brandao in the first round. It was the end of a successful night for Irish MMA fighters, and the crowd went crazy and erupted at the finish. This was the unofficial start of McGregor’s run that led to him becoming the superstar he is today.
Also on the card, Gunnar Nelson submitted Zak Cummings in the second round, Ian McCall scored a decision win over Brad Pickett, and Norman Parke scored a second-round finish of Naoyuki Kotani. Among the winners on the prelims included Ilir Latifi, Nikita Krylov, Cathal Pendred and Paddy Holohan.
You can watch UFC Fight Night 46 on UFC Fight Pass here.
In The Clinch
This week on In The Clinch, myself and Paul Fontaine will recap UFC On ESPN 26, look at what’s next for Islam Makhachev and Miesha Tate and whether Tate should get a title shot next or have one more fight. We will also preview UFC On ESPN 27, and look ahead to 2021 International Fight Week. You can listen to In The Clinch on The Fight Game Media Network, with our Patreon page found here.