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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. There was a new champion crowned in the UFC this past weekend, so let’s dive right into all of the happenings going on.

Looking back at UFC 265

  • Ciryl Gane is the new Interim UFC Heavyweight Champion after finishing Derrick Lewis in the third round of the main event at UFC 265 to win the title. It was a mostly boring fight, with Lewis doing almost nothing and Gane being his usual patient self who doesn’t take a lot of risks. He decided in the R3 to take a risk, and it paid off with him finishing Lewis. It was a disappointing showing for Lewis in his home town, but this was the result many expected. Gane is just a terrific fighter, who is still only three years into his mixed martial arts career. That sets Gane up for a unification bout with Francis Ngannou, and it will be an interesting bout as the two used to be training partners, and both have similar huge size, even for heavyweights.
  • This figures to be the end for Lewis as a title contender. He’s always going to be a popular fighter who can win out of nowhere, but this is now two title fights he’s been in where he pretty much hasn’t shown up. It’s going to be hard to book him now, because he needs to be kept away from opponents who are headed to title contention status, but he can still headline shows against others who are in similar position.
  • Jose Aldo turned in his best performance to date as a bantamweight, scoring a solid unanimous decision win over Pedro Munhoz on Saturday. Aldo worked a lot to the body and head over the first two rounds, then chopped at the legs a little more in the third to get the clear win. The week seemed to be all about Aldo for the fellow UFC fighters, as many fighters were fighting on the same card as him for the first time and showing him the utmost respect for being a legend of the sport. He showed he can still compete for titles, and he shot his big shot afterwards, calling out T.J. Dillashaw for a December fight. That is unlikely to happen, but Aldo could very well find himself a fight away from another title shot, which could very well come against Dillashaw if things work out that way.
  • Vicente Luque continues to impress, and his submission win over Michael Chiesa on Saturday just added to his long list of finishes. It was a fantastic reversal of fortune during the fight, as Chiesa had him in trouble with choke attempts before Luque was able to reverse to a D’Arce choke that got Chiesa to tap. Luque’s career turnaround has been remarkable, as he lost his UFC debut to Michael Graves, which put his record at 7–5–1 at the time. Since then, he’s got 14–2 with 13 finishes, with the only losses coming to Leon Edwards and Stephen Thompson, both top-five fighters right now. Luque could very well be fighting for the welterweight title in 2022, and he definitely deserves the chance to fight for it.
  • Others who had impressive showings on Saturday were Rafael Fiziev, Jessica Penne, Manel Kape and Miles Johns. The fight between Fiziev and Bobby Green was a great fight, especially the third round, and that one is worth seeking out. Penne, Kape and Johns all had impressive finishes. It was a real solid night of fights in Houston.
  • Julianna Pena was in Houston making a whole lot of noise and saying that there should be an Interim UFC Women’s Bantamweight Championship created if Amanda Nunes is unable to fight this year. Pena started it all by crashing the pre-fight press conference yelling “Where’s Amanda?” after Nunes had to pull out when she and her entire family tested positive for COVID-19. Pena then started yelling about Nunes testing negative (yes, she tested negative a week before the show after spending two weeks battling the virus, which happened to be when the final two weeks of her training camp would’ve been, so in no way could she have fought). Pena then took the stage on Saturday backstage in the media room calling for either a fight against Nunes in December or an interim title to be made. Nunes has been cleared to return and hopes to fight before December. This was just more cringe-worthy stuff from Pena, who has a long history of cringe-worthy comments.
  • There is some concern whether UFC 268 on November 6 will take place at Madison Square Garden in New York City. As of now, it will take place there. The city making vaccine mandates have lots of fighters questioning whether they want to compete on the card, including Michael Chandler being publicly vocal over it. I personally don’t think there will be any actual issues when it comes to whether fighters can compete if they are or aren’t vaccinated, but there is enough to make officials think about having a back-up option just in case. For what it’s worth, Dana White says they have contingency plans for everything, and they don’t mind running Texas or Florida for every pay-per-view show, despite those two states being hot spots for the virus at the moment.
  • And for what it’s worth, by my count, of the 26 fighters who fought at UFC 265 on Saturday, 15 were vaccinated and 11 weren’t. This is not an official number, just an estimate based on certain things I saw while in Houston.

Playing matchmaker

Here are some fights I would make next for those who fought at UFC 265 on Saturday:

  • Ciryl Gane vs. Francis Ngannou
  • Derrick Lewis vs. Augusto Sakai
  • Jose Aldo vs. Dominick Cruz
  • Pedro Munhoz vs. Cody Stamann
  • Vicente Luque vs. Leon Edwards
  • Michael Chiesa vs. Stephen Thompson
  • Tecia Torres vs. Claudia Gadelha
  • Song Yadong vs. Raphael Assuncao
  • Rafael Fiziev vs. Brad Riddell
  • Jessica Penne vs. Jinh Yu Frey
  • Manel Kape vs. Su Mudaerji

Fight announcements

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

  • Ariane Lipski vs. Mandy Bohm — UFC Fight Night — September 4
  • Charlie Ontiveros vs. Steve Garcia — UFC Fight Night — October 9
  • Fedor Emelianenko vs. Tim Johnson — Bellator Moscow — October 23
  • Paulo Costa vs. Marvin Vettori — UFC Fight Night — October 23 (MAIN EVENT)
  • Rafael Dos Anjos vs. Islam Makhachev — UFC 267 — October 30
  • Alexander Volkov vs. Marcin Tybura — UFC 267 — October 30
  • Tagir Ulanbekov vs. Allan Nascimento — UFC 267 — October 30
  • Luke Rockhold vs. Sean Strickland — UFC 268 — November 6
  • Edmen Shahbazyan vs. Nassourdine Imavov — UFC 268 — November 6
  • Ovince Saint Preux vs. Philipe Lins — UFC Fight Night — November 13
  • Joanne Calderwood vs. Alexa Grasso — UFC Fight Night — November 20
  • Cody Garbrandt vs. Kai Kara-France — UFC 269 — December 11

Coming up this week

The UFC is off this week, but there are some events taking place this week, and here are some notable shows going down:

  • Bellator 264 takes place on Friday, August 13, from the Mohegan Sun Arena. The main card airs on Showtime at 9:00 p.m. ET, with prelims airing on YouTube at 6:00 p.m. ET. Bellator Middleweight Champion Gegard Mousasi defends against John Salter in the main event.
  • PFL 2021 #7 takes place on Friday, August 13, from the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Florida. The main card airs at 9:00 p.m. ET time on ESPN2 & ESPN+, and the prelims air at 5:30 p.m. ET on ESPN+. Rory MacDonald takes on Ray Cooper in the main event as the PFL Playoffs kick off.
  • CFFC 99 takes place on Saturday, April 14, at 6:00 p.m. ET, airing on UFC Fight Pass.

This week in MMA history

GSP vs. Jon Fitch at UFC 87

On August 9, 2008, three of the biggest stars in UFC history would share the same card, albeit with all three in different positions at the time, as the Octagon debuted in Minneapolis, Minnesota for UFC 87. The show was a successful debut, drawing 15,087 fans for a gate of $2.252 million, and 625,000 pay-per-view buys.

In the main event, UFC Welterweight Champion Georges St. Pierre, in the midst of his dominant reign as the top welterweight in the world, scored a dominant decision win, giving Jon Fitch a beating to retain the title. In the co-main event, it was future UFC Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar scoring his first UFC win, getting a dominant decision nod over Heath Herring. Also on the main card, Rob Emerson scored a 12-second knockout of Manvel Gamburyan, Kenny Florian scored a decision over Roger Huerta, and Demian Maia submitted Jason MacDonald.

In the prelims, a fighter who would go on to become one of the greatest fighters in UFC history made his debut, as an unknown fighter from New York nicknamed “Bones” made his debut. Jon Jones would go on to score a decision win over Andre Gusmao, starting a run that has yet to see him truly be defeated. Also among the winners on the prelims were Cheick Kongo and Ben Saunders.

You can watch UFC 87 on UFC Fight Pass here.

In The Clinch

This week on In The Clinch, myself and Paul Fontaine will look back at UFC 265, give a quick look at what’s coming up this week, talk all of the news and whatever else we come up with. You can listen to In The Clinch on The Fight Game Media Network, with our Patreon page found here.

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