Monday MMA Round-Up: Chikadze scores impressive win at UFC on ESPN 30
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 in the world of mixed martial arts. The UFC held an event and crowned two new TUF winners, among other things, so let’s dive right in to the news.
Looking back at UFC on ESPN 30
- Giga Chikadze had the performance of the weekend, scoring a third-round TKO win over Edson Barboza in the main event of UFC On ESPN 30 on Saturday. They had a good fight, not a Fight Of The Year contender that many were expecting, but if you were expecting some hard kicks and crazy strikes being thrown, you got it. Chikadze hurt Barboza in the third round and capitalized on it, finishing him in 1:44 of the third. Chikadze called for either a title shot next, or the fight he wants, against Max Holloway. Chikadze is one fight away from being there in the title talk, and fighting Holloway would certainly be a title eliminator. As of now, Holloway is slated to fight Yair Rodriguez on November 13, but if something happens to Rodriguez and he becomes unavailable, it would be too perfect to book Holloway vs. Chikadze. Chikadze has earned the right to be a title contender at 145 lbs., which is a tough and deep division.
- Season 29 of The Ultimate Fighter wrapped up during the show, with Bryan Battle and Ricky Turcios winning the middleweight and bantamweight finals, respectively, and earning the six-figure UFC contracts. When I look at Battle, I see a very green fighter who is going to have trouble in a tough middleweight division. Turcios is more polished right now, but I still see him having trouble with a lot of bantamweights, though I like his chances to be more successful sooner than I like Battle’s chances. Congratulations to them, and the final fight between Turcios and Brady Hiestand ended up being a fun fight.
- I got into this debate on Saturday, and I stand by this opinion that the Contender Series is a much better way to become a UFC star than The Ultimate Fighter is these days. I know Dana White says TUF isn’t ever going anywhere, and I believe him, because it’s a cornerstone property of the UFC, but Contender Series brings more UFC-ready fighters, and more fighters who are stars. Despite what White says, according to those who know, Contender Series actually does more viewers than TUF did on ESPN+ this year. Fighters from the early and recent seasons of Contender Series have gone on to be ranked, headline cards, and fight for titles. It has been years since TUF produced a main event caliber fighter. Yes, the winner of TUF gets a higher starting deal than a winner on Contender Series, but it isn’t that much, and if I had to choose between the two to find a way to get a UFC contract, I would choose the Contender Series path ten times out of ten.
- If I’m Kevin Lee, I’m at a crossroads on what I do next. Lee talked a big game going into his welterweight debut against Daniel Rodriguez, but after losing to Rodriguez on Saturday, Lee’s next move is unclear. He’s lost five of his last seven fights. Despite gaining some size, he’s still too small for welterweight, and is too big for lightweight, and there’s no chance of a 165-lbs. division happening. He definitely needs to take a step down in competition and to figure things out, because he’s lost a lot of luster.
- Speaking of Rodriguez, that was an impressive showing considering he took the fight on just over two weeks’ notice, and just over a month after his last fight. He’s already fought three times over the past four-and-a-half months, but this win should move him close to, or even in, the welterweight rankings, and he deserves some high-level opposition for his next fight.
- A fighter I want to give props to for his win on Saturday is Gerald Meerschaert, who came in as the biggest underdog on the card, and had a tough test in front of him in Makhmud Muradov, who had a 14-fight win streak and was looking every bit of a future title challenger. Meerschaert lost the first round and looked to be in trouble several times in the fight, but the veteran pulled out the comeback victory, submitting Muradov in the second round. Meerschaert has that never give up attitude and can never be counted out of a fight, and is just a pleasure to watch because he’s just a good guy doing good things.
- Another fighter to give props to is Abdul Razak Alhassan, who bounced back from a three-fight losing skid to look every bit of the dangerous fighter he was in the past when he gained a reputation of someone you don’t want to fight, when he knocked out Alessio Di Chirico with a head kick in 17 seconds. That makes it eleven career wins for Alhassan, all by knockout in the first round.
- Despite losing yet again on Saturday, and having scored no wins in his last seven fights, it appears Sam Alvey is not done in UFC. Dana White talked about how much they like him and how he’s always willing to fight, giving the impression he wasn’t going anywhere. I don’t know about this, as his fights haven’t even been all that exciting. Also, Sam, please stop throwing a temper tantrum every time you lose a decision. You need to do a better job of leaving no doubt that you won a fight, but you’re making it too close for the judges, and acting like a four-year-old who doesn’t get their way whenever the scores go against you.
- As I talked about in this column a couple of weeks ago, Rose Namajunas’ first title defense of her second reign as UFC Strawweight Champion is official for UFC 268 on November 6 at Madison Square Garden, and it will be against Zhang Weili, as I noted it would. I don’t think that was the right fight to make, but if you read my take on it two weeks ago, you’d know exactly why it was made. Also, if I’m Carla Esparza, I stay ready in case something happens, and I’d also hold out for a title shot, because she has earned that.
- For those who may ask, I don’t know the deal with UFC 268 at MSG and New York’s COVID-19 vaccine requirements. The last I heard, in order to compete in New York City and at Madison Square Garden, athletes had to have at least undergone their first vaccination shot. I don’t know if there’s a special deal that’s been worked out with the UFC bypassing that rule, or if it’s going to end up being an issue. I guess we’ll see, especially in the case of Michael Chandler, who is on the card and has made a vocal stance of not taking the vaccine, even after he said he would if it got FDA approval before he backtracked on that.
- Stipe Miocic was doing interviews early in the week, talking about being upset about not being asked to fight of the Interim UFC Heavyweight Championship. However, in those same interviews, he mentioned he probably wouldn’t have taken the fight in August due to the impending birth of his second child. He just said he felt he should’ve at least been asked. I don’t get what he’s so upset about- they know you want time off for the birth, because you told them that, and they didn’t put you in any immediate plans because of it, but Dana White has mentioned Miocic’s name as a potential challenger in 2022. Miocic needs to be more clear about things publicly, because he did come off bad during the week, at least in my opinion.
- No, Michael Bisping, I am not out of my mind. I know how to score fights. Also, funny that you say I’m out of my mind on my scorecard when the next two tweets shown on the screen had the exact same thing. Game, set, match: Me.
- PFL 9 happened on Friday, and that’s about as much as you can say about it. It wasn’t a fun show to watch at all. And that’s before terrible judging in the main event, though the right guy won.
Here are some of the fights I would make next for those who fought at UFC On ESPN 30:
- Giga Chikadze vs. Chan Sung Jung (or Max Holloway if Yair Rodriguez becomes unavailable)
- Edson Barboza vs. Andre Fili
- Bryan Battle vs. Tresean Gore
- Ricky Turcios vs. John Castaneda
- Daniel Rodriguez vs. Sean Brady
- Kevin Lee vs. Drew Dober at 155 lbs.
- Gerald Meerschaert vs. Anthony Hernandez
- Abdul Razak Alhassan vs. Wellington Turman
Here are some fights that were announced 0ver the past week:
- Alex Morono vs. David Zawada — UFC Fight Night — September 4
- Jack Shore vs. Liudvik Sholinian — UFC Fight Night — September 4
- Julian Erosa vs. Charles Jourdain — UFC Fight Night — September 4
- Emily Whitmire vs. Hannah Goldy — UFC Fight Night — September 18
- Alex Oliveira vs. Niko Price — UFC Fight Night — October 2
- Antonina Shevchenko vs. Casey O’Neill — UFC Fight Night — October 2
- Charles Rosa vs. Damon Jackson — UFC Fight Night — October 9
- Chas Skelly vs. Mike Trizano — UFC Fight Night — October 9
- Andrew Sanchez vs. Bruno Silva — UFC Fight Night — October 16
- Timur Valiev vs. Daniel Santos — UFC Fight Night — October 16
- Kris Moutinho vs. Aaron Phillips — UFC Fight Night — October 23
- Magomed Ankalaev vs. Volkan Oezdemir — UFC 267 — October 30
- UFC Women’s Strawweight Champion Rose Namajunas vs. Zhang Weili — UFC 268 — November 6
- Frankie Edgar vs. Marlon Vera — UFC 268 — November 6
- Germaine de Randamie vs. Irene Aldana — UFC 268 — November 6
- Al Iaquinta vs. Bobby Green — UFC 268 — November 6
- Lando Vannata vs. Tucker Lutz — UFC Fight Night — November 13
- Jessica Eye vs. Andrea Lee — UFC Fight Night — November 13
- Ben Rothwell vs. Marcos Rogerio de Lima — UFC Fight Night — November 13
- Cheyanne Buys vs. Loma Lookboonmee — UFC Fight Night — November 20
- Terrance McKinney vs. Fares Ziam — UFC Fight Night — November 20
- Alex Perez vs. Matt Schnell — UFC Fight Night — December 4
- Priscila Cachoeira vs. Gillian Robertson — UFC 269 — December 11
Coming up this week
Here are some of the notable MMA events upcoming this week:
- UFC On ESPN+ 49 takes place on Saturday, September 4 from the UFC APEX in Las Vegas. The entire card airs on ESPN+, with the main card taking place at 4:00 p.m ET, and the prelims airing at 1:30 p.m. ET. Derek Brunson vs. Darren Till is the main event.
- Dana White’s Contender Series returns on Tuesday, August 31 from the UFC APEX in Las Vegas, the first of ten straight weeks of episodes. It airs at 8:00 p.m ET on ESPN+.
- Fury FC 50 takes place on Sunday, September 5 from Houston, Texas, airing on UFC Fight Pass at 2:00 p.m ET.
This week in MMA history
On August 31, 2013, the UFC held their first, and thus far only, pay-per-view event in the city of Milwaukee, with UFC 164 taking place at the BMO Harris Bradley Center. The event was the chosen location of the Harley Davidson Hometown Throwdown promotion and drew 9,178 fans for a gate of $907,116, and did 270,000 buys on pay-per-view.
In the main event, it was the hometown hero winning UFC gold as Anthony Pettis submitted Benson Henderson in the first round with an armbar to win the UFC Lightweight Championship, ending Henderson’s 18-month reign. Pettis would go on to defend the title just once before losing it to Rafael Dos Anjos in March 2015.
In the co-main event, it was a battle of former UFC Heavyweight Champions as Josh Barnett scored a first-round TKO of Frank Mir. The rest of the main card saw Chad Mendes finish Clay Guida in the third round, Ben Rothwell score a third-round TKO win over Brandon Vera, and Dustin Poirier took a decision over Erik Koch. Among the winners of the prelims were Gleison Tibau, Tim Elliott and Al Iaquinta.
You can watch UFC 164 on UFC Fight Pass here.
In The Clinch
This week on In The Clinch, myself and Paul Fontaine will look back at UFC On ESPN 30, look ahead to UFC On ESPN+ 49, take a look at the news of the week and much more. You can listen to In The Clinch on the Fight Game Media Network, with our Patreon page found here.