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Monday MMA Round-Up: Cannonier, Kongo, Harrison victorious

HOLLYWOOD, FL - AUGUST 19: Kayla Harrison and Genah Fabian in a lightweight fight during the PFL playoffs at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on August 19, 2021 in Hollywood, Florida. (Cooper Neill / PFL)

Hello, fight fans, and welcome to this week’s edition of the 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 with UFC, Bellator and PFL all running events, so let’s dive right in to all of the happenings going on.

Looking Back at a Busy Weekend

    • Jared Cannonier scored a solid decision win over Kelvin Gastelum in the main event of Saturday’s UFC show in a busy Las Vegas. It was a competitive main event, but Cannonier clearly won the first, third and fourth rounds to win the fight, even though Gastelum stated he felt he won the fight. The win could put Cannonier either next in line for a title shot, dependent on when the fight between Israel Adesanya and Robert Whittaker takes place and the outcome, or he could fight in a title eliminator bout next. That wasn’t the big story, though, as Cannonier talked afterwards about being broke and needing to fight. It’s yet another fighter, though the first time a main event, top-five ranked fighter, talking about being broke and not making enough money, while Endeavor, UFC’s owner, tout about UFC having the biggest first-half in UFC history when it comes to earnings. Something has to be done, as this is becoming a weekly story, and it’s a real bad look for the leading MMA promotion.
    • Alexandre Pantoja might have secured himself as the man to challenge Brandon Moreno for the UFC Flyweight Championship. Pantoja submitted Brandon Royval in the second round on Saturday night in an exciting fight, then respectfully called Moreno out afterwards. Pantoja does hold a win over Moreno, though not an official one on their records, as Pantoja was the one who eliminated Moreno when they were on The Ultimate Fighter together. There have been questions whether Moreno’s challenger would be either Deiveson Figueiredo or Askar Askarov, but UFC seems cool on both, as Moreno just finished Figueiredo, and Askarov did miss weight for his last fight. Pantoja’s performance was a huge deal for him, and it might end up being enough.
    • I generally don’t shout out particular fighters who had impressive showings, but Saidyokub Kakhramonov deserves some special attention after winning his UFC debut on Saturday when he submitted Trevin Jones late in the fight. Kakhramonov was debuting after taking the fight on Tuesday, which is already a hurdle of its’ own. Not only did he take it on Tuesday, he was in his native Uzbekistan when he got the call, and somehow was able to make arrangements to get from there to the United States to fight on Saturday. That’s just incredible. He did miss weight by 2.5 lbs., but I won’t hold that against him considering the circumstances. I’m interested in seeing how well he performs with a full training camp and no obstacles like this before him.
    • The UFC show got off to a strong start on Saturday, with violent finishes in the first four fights, with four fighters going to sleep. Ignacio Bahamondes had a spinning wheel kick knockout of Roosevelt Roberts that will be in the running for Knockout Of The Year. Other fun finishes came at the hands of Josiane Nunes, William Knight and Ramiz Brahimaj.

  • Cheick Kongo is still collecting wins at age 46 as he submitted Sergei Kharitonov with just one second to go in the second round in the main event of Bellator 265 on Friday. Kongo has just one loss in his last eleven fights, just continuing an impressive run he’s had. He’s definitely not the same fighter he was ten and fifteen years ago, but he’s still plenty capable of competing in the Bellator heavyweight division and scoring wins.
  • Kayla Harrison made it look easy, once again, in scoring a dominant first-round TKO finish of Genah Fabian in the main event of PFL 8 on Thursday. Harrison advances to the finals of the 2021 PFL Women’s Lightweight Tournament, where she’ll again be the heavy favorite against Taylor Guardado when they meet in October. That will be an interesting fight for her, as it will mark the last fight on her PFL contract, and there is interest from both Bellator and UFC in signing her. She’s not in it for the money, though a win will net her another $1 million payday, and she’ll get a huge money deal from wherever she signs. She wants to be the best, and all roads point to a fight against either Cris Cyborg or Amanda Nunes. It’s interesting times for one of the most interesting personalities in the sport.
  • Miesha Tate was another UFC fighter in the news this week talking about her pay, revealing that during her recent win she collected $200,000, but between taxes, paying for training camp, food and other expenses, she spent 98% of it, which is a ridiculous amount. She claimed 70% of it went towards taxes, which seems really, really high and raises some questions, but it’s still absurd that a fighter who makes that amount barely takes anything home at the end of the day. It’s a growing situation that remains concerning, to say the least.
  • Speaking of Tate, her next fight in her return is booked, and it will be in a main event slot, as she battles Ketlen Vieira in the headliner of the 10/16 UFC event, which takes place the same night as a Bellator event, so that will be a busy night.
  • Alexander Gustafsson’s return to the light heavyweight division is going to have to wait, as he suffered an injury and was forced out of his scheduled bout on 9/4 against Paul Craig.
  • Jorge Masvidal wants to return in November at Madison Square Garden, and he’s pretty open to fighting just about anyone that is highly-ranked in the welterweight division.
  • Nate Diaz does want to fight in December, but booking him a fight could be easier said than done as the options of who he would fight is pretty slim at the moment, unless they decide to do the fight against Tony Ferguson, which may still interest Diaz.
  • It is Edson Barboza vs. Giga Chikadze fight week and I couldn’t be more excited.

Playing matchmaker

Here are some fights I would make next for those who fought at UFC On ESPN 29 on Saturday:

  • Jared Cannonier vs. Derek Brunson-Darren Till winner
  • Kelvin Gastelum vs. Uriah Hall
  • Mark O. Madsen vs. Vinc Pichel
  • Clay Guida vs. Jeremy Stephens
  • Parker Porter vs. Juan Espino
  • Alexandre Pantoja vs. Brandon Moreno
  • Brian Kelleher vs. Julio Arce
  • William Knight vs. Marcin Prachnio

Fight announcements

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

  • Mana Martinez vs. Guido Cannetti — UFC Fight Night — August 28
  • Andre Petroski vs. Michael Gillmore — UFC Fight Night — August 28
  • JJ Aldrich vs. Vanessa Demopoulos — UFC Fight Night — August 28
  • Jack Shore vs. Zviad Lazishvili — UFC Fight Night — September 4
  • Nate Maness vs. Tony Gravely — UFC Fight Night — September 18
  • Montel Jackson vs. JP Buys — UFC Fight Night — September 18
  • Dan Hooker vs. Nasrat Haqparast — UFC 266 — September 25
  • Roxanne Modafferi vs. Taila Santos — UFC 266 — September 25
  • Omar Morales vs. Jonathan Pearce — UFC 266 — September 25
  • Misha Cirkunov vs. Krzysztof Jotko — UFC Fight Night — October 2
  • Miesha Tate vs. Ketlen Vieira — UFC Fight Night — October 16 (MAIN EVENT)
  • Mason Jones vs. Alan Patrick — UFC Fight Night — October 23
  • Makwan Amirkhani vs. Tristan Connelly — UFC 267 — October 30
  • Cody Durden vs. Aoriqileng — UFC Fight Night — November 20
  • Nina Nunes vs. Amanda Lemos — UFC Fight Night — December 18

Coming Up This Week

Here are some of the notable MMA events taking place this week:

  • UFC On ESPN 30 takes place on Saturday, August 28 from the UFC APEX in Las Vegas. The main card airs on ESPN & ESPN+ at 10:00 p.m. ET, with prelims airing on ESPN+ at 7:00 p.m. ET. Edson Barboza vs. Giga Chikadze is the main event.
  • PFL 2021 #9 takes place on Friday, August 27 from the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida. The main card airs on ESPN2 & ESPN+ at 10:00 p.m. ET, and the prelims air on ESPN+ at 6:00 p.m. ET. The semi-finals of the PFL Playoffs for the featherweight and light heavyweight divisions take place on the main card.
  • LFA 114 takes place on Friday, August 27, airing on UFC Fight Pass at 900 p.m. ET.
  • Invicta FC 44 takes place on Friday, August 27, airing on pay-per-view at 10:00 p.m. ET.

This week in MMA history

Nogueira vs. Couture, UFC 102

It was a battle of legends and UFC Hall Of Famers on August 29, 2009 when the Octagon debuted in Portland, Oregon for UFC 102, taking place at the Rose Garden. It was a successful event, at a time when the promotion was on fire, drawing 16,088 fans for a gate of $1.92 million, and 435,000 buys on pay-per-view.

In the main event, it was a back-and-forth battle between former UFC Heavyweight Champions, as Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira scored a unanimous decision win over Randy Couture. Both men were coming off of losses in separate heavyweight title bouts, and it was a fight that hardcore fans were wanting to see for years, bringing the best of PRIDE and UFC together for a fight years in the making.

Also on the main card, Thiago Silva scored a first-round knockout of Keith Jardine, Jake Rosholt submitted Chris Leben in the third round, Nate Marquardt knocked out Demian Maia in 21 seconds, and Brandon Vera won a decision over Krzysztof Soszynski. Among the winners on the prelims included Aaron Simpson, Gabriel Gonzaga, Todd Duffee, Mark Munoz and Evan Dunham.

You can watch UFC 102 on UFC Fight Pass here.

In The Clinch

This week on In The Clinch, myself and Paul Fontaine will recap UFC On ESPN 29 and all of the other action in the MMA world, look ahead to UFC On ESPN 30 and its’ fantastic main event, take a look at the news and everything going on in the MMA world. You can listen to In The Clinch on The Fight Game Media Network, with our Patreon page found here.

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