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. UFC held a big event this weekend, with UFC 266 taking place, and there was plenty of outside of the cage news that happened, so let’s dive right in.
Looking Back at UFC 266
- The main event of UFC 266 was an absolutely incredible fight. It saw Alexander Volkanovski keep the UFC Featherweight Championship after scoring a unanimous decision over Brian Ortega in one of the best fights of the year, with a third round that was absolutely bonkers, as well, and is in the running round of the year. Ortega showed a ton of toughness, yet again, in a title fight loss. Volkanovski proved that he is a worthy champion, silencing any doubters he may have still had. This is a fight worth going out of your way to see, and kudos to both men on such an entertaining fight.
- Valentina Shevchenko has no challenges at 125 lbs. right now. Lauren Murphy was a worthy challenger and earned her title shot, but she had nothing for the champion. Shevchenko dominated everywhere, finishing Murphy in the fourth round. She’s now defeated five of the top eight in the UFC’s flyweight rankings. With Cynthia Calvillo losing to Jessica Andrade on the main card, that eliminates a potential next challenger. Shevchenko’s next challenge will likely come from the winner of the fight between Joanne Calderwood and Alexa Grasso, which takes place in November. Shevchenko might have some interesting challenges in a few years as some of these young prospects who have tons of potential further develop, but she’s in a class of her own at 125 right now.
- Perhaps I tempered my expectations for his return, but, all things considered, I didn’t think Nick Diaz looked absolutely horrible in his return. Yes, he was slow, but that was to be expected after over six years away from fighting. He still did good work, especially to the body, and the volume was there. He looked like someone who hadn’t fought in six years, and that’s perfectly fine. I didn’t think he would win, and he didn’t, and I give him props for knowing when to quit while you’re ahead. He didn’t need to take any extra damage. I don’t know if we’ll ever see him again, but he does have several fights left on his UFC contract, for whatever it’s worth.
- Another fight that was great and worth going out of your way to see was the prelim fight between Merab Dvalishvili and Marlon Moraes. Moraes had Dvalishvili nearly finished on multiple occasions in the first, but seemed to gas himself out trying to finish, and Dvalishvili had one heck of a comeback in the first, nearly finishing Moraes late in the round. Dvalishvili ended up finishing Moraes in the second after a dominant round. This is Dvalishvili’s seventh straight win, and his first finish in UFC, and he’s right there in the mix when it comes to potential bantamweight title challengers. He is Aljamain Sterling’s teammate, though, and has said he will never fight Sterling under any circumstances. For Moraes, he’s lost four of his last five now, and I’m not sure he’ll be getting another shot in UFC at this rate.
- Chris Daukaus made himself into a name in the heavyweight division with his second-round knockout of Shamil Abdurakhimov. You could argue that he knocked Abdurakhimov out twice during the fight, as he came close to finishing him in the first. Daukaus has a real shot at being a title challenger sooner rather than later, and is one of a few new guys making a difference in the heavyweight division.
- Jon Jones was in the news again this week, and for what else, yet another arrest. He was arrested hours after having his fight against Alexander Gustafsson inducted into the UFC Hall Of Fame on charges of misdemeanor battery domestic violence and injuring or tampering with a vehicle, which is a felony. Of course, the whole story has yet to come out and it’ll be interesting to see if we even get the full story, but this is just yet another in the long list of issues Jones has had during his life and career. I’ve lost count on how many times he’s been arrested, and he always seems to be in trouble whenever he isn’t fighting, and sometimes when he is. I don’t think UFC cuts ties with him, because there’s still money to be made, but this will be the incident to see whether or not that’s the actual case.
- Both Israel Adesanya and Dan Hooker talked about this over the past week, but it appears the entire City Kickboxing team, which includes those two, several other UFC fighters and their coaches, are planning to move to the United States as quickly as possible. Hooker talked about how the lockdown restrictions in New Zealand makes it virtually impossible for them to train, and that’s before all of the hoops they have to go through to travel in and out of the country. The visa issue is also a big deal, as it wasn’t until the absolute last minute until Hooker got his visa. It’s a move that needs to be made, as New Zealand has the strictest COVID-19 measures over the world, and these fighters could potentially lose years off their careers over it. You have to give credit to Hooker for his performance in his win over Nasrat Haqparast on Saturday, as it was his best showing in quite some time, under the most difficult of situations. He also said after the fight that he personally believes his team is being targeted by the New Zealand government, who are supposedly not fans of UFC or mixed martial arts.
- UFC Bantamweight Champion Aljamain Sterling is suffering from lingering issues from his neck surgery, which took place in April, and it forced him out of scheduled title defense against Petr Yan at UFC 267 on October 30. It was always going to be tough for Sterling to come back as quick as he did, but he was determined to show that the circumstances of him winning the title from Yan in March were justified. It is expected that Yan will take on Cory Sandhagen for an Interim UFC Bantamweight Championship as the replacement fight. UFC 267, which takes place in Abu Dhabi, has to have two title fights, so an interim title is justified to fulfill contract obligations. Sandhagen, though he lost his last fight, but many thought he might’ve won, but he was the first to say yes after being called. TJ Dillashaw is unavailable, as he just had knee surgery seven weeks ago and is in no condition to take a fight right now. Rob Font was also contacted for the fight, but is unavailable to fight in October as well.
- Dustin Poirier said the fight between him and UFC Lightweight Champion Charles Oliveira is almost a done deal, and that there is just a few contractual issues to be sorted out. It is expected to be officially announced pretty much any day now as the main event of UFC 269 on December 11.
- The long-talked about bout between Max Holloway and Yair Rodriguez is official as the main event of the November 13 card taking place in Las Vegas. The winner is expected to challenge Alexander Volkanovski for the UFC Featherweight Championship.
- Miesha Tate tested positive for COVID-19, forcing her out of her main event bout against Ketlen Vieira on October 16. Vieira was pulled from the card as well, with the plan to reschedule the bout for a later date. The decision was made to bump the co-main event, between Holly Holm and Norma Dumont, to the headline spot, because there’s just too many shows being run and not enough available fighters. Luckily, it’s just an ESPN+ show at the UFC APEX, so it really doesn’t matter what headlines in the long run, especially if there’s late major changes like this.
- Rafael Dos Anjos is out of his UFC 267 bout against Islam Makhachev after having to undergo knee surgery. This marks the third time that a scheduled fight between Dos Anjos and Makhachev has been called off. The hope is to keep Makhachev on the card, with his manager, Ali Abdelaziz, naming Tony Ferguson and Dan Hooker as two options that Makhachev would like to fight.
- Dana White handed out four more contracts on the Contender Series on Tuesday, with AJ Dobson, Michael Morales, Kleydson Rodrigues and Victor Martinez the recipients. I know I’ve been talking about White handing out too many contracts on the show, but all four of these fighters deserved it following their performances on Tuesday.
Here are the fights I would make next for some of those who fought at UFC 266 on Saturday:
- Alexander Volkanovski vs. Max Holloway-Yair Rodriguez winner
- Brian Ortega vs. Josh Emmett
- Valentina Shevchenko vs. Joanne Calderwood-Alexa Grasso winner
- Lauren Murphy vs. Cynthia Calvillo
- Robbie Lawler vs. Geoff Neal
- Curtis Blaydes vs. Stipe Miocic
- Jessica Andrade vs. Jennifer Maia
- Merab Dvalishvili vs. Rob Font
- Dan Hooker vs. Beneil Dariush
- Chris Daukaus vs. Alexander Volkov-Marcin Tybura winner
- Taila Santos vs. Viviane Araujo
- Jalin Turner vs. Renato Moicano
Here are some of the fights that were officially announced over the past week:
- Alexander Hernandez vs. Mike Breeden — UFC Fight Night — October 2
- Danny Roberts vs. Ramazan Emeev — UFC Fight Night — October 16
- Manon Fiorot vs. Mayra Bueno Silva — UFC Fight Night — October 16
- Francisco Trinaldo vs. Dwight Grant — UFC Fight Night — October 23
- Grant Dawson vs. Ricky Glenn — UFC Fight Night — October 23
- Albert Duraev vs. Roman Kopylov — UFC 267 — October 30
- Gian Villante vs. Chris Barnett — UFC 268 — November 6
- Max Holloway vs. Yair Rodriguez — UFC Fight Night — November 13 (MAIN EVENT)
- Song Yadong vs. Julio Arce — UFC Fight Night — November 13
- Pat Sabatini vs. Gavin Tucker — UFC Fight Night — November 20
- Matt Brown vs. Bryan Barberena — UFC Fight Night — December 4
- Justin Tafa vs. Harry Hunsucker — UFC Fight Night — December 18
- Kleydson Rodrigues vs. Zarrukh Adashev — UFC Fight Night — January 15
- Bill Algeo vs. Joanderson Brito — UFC Fight Night — January 15
Coming up this week
This will be another busy week in the MMA world, with both UFC and Bellator holding events. Here’s a look at this week’s schedule:
- UFC On ESPN+ 51 takes place on Saturday, October 2 from the UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada. The entire card airs on ESPN+, with the main card at 7:00 p.m. ET, and the prelims taking place at 4:00 p.m. ET. Thiago Santos vs. Johnny Walker is the main event.
- Dana White’s Contender Series 41 takes place on Tuesday, September 28 from the UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada. The show airs on ESPN+ at 8:00 p.m. ET.
- Cage Warriors 127 takes place on Thursday, September 30 from London, England, airing at 1 PM eastern time on UFC Fight Pass.
- BFL 68 takes place on Thursday, September 30 from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, airing at 10:00 p.m. ET on UFC Fight Pass.
- Bellator 267 takes place on Friday, October 1 from the SSE Arena in London, England. The show airs live, with the main card on Showtime at 4:00 p.m. ET, and the prelims airing on YouTube at 12:30 p.m. ET. The main card also re-airs on Showtime at 9:00 p.m. ET. Douglas Lima vs. Michael Page is the main event.
- Cage Warriors 128 takes place on Friday, October 1 from London, England, airing at 1:00 p.m. ET on UFC Fight Pass.
- BFL 69 takes place on Friday, October 1 from Vancouver, British Columbia, airing on 10:00 p.m. ET on UFC Fight Pass.
- Cage Warriors 129 takes place on Saturday, October 2 from London, England, airing at 1:00 p.m. ET on UFC Fight Pass.
- CFFC 101 takes place on Saturday, October 2 from Bensalem, Pennsylvania, airing at 7:00 p.m. ET on UFC Fight Pass.
This Week in MMA History
On October 3, 2015, one of the best fighters in UFC history made his first title defense in one of the toughest fights of his career in the main event of UFC 192, which took place at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas. The show drew 14,622 fans for a gate of $1,859,000, and it also did 250,000 buys on pay-per-view.
In the main event, UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Daniel Cormier had a successful title defense, though it was a close fight that wasn’t easy to win, as he scored a split decision over Alexander Gustafsson on scores of 47–48, 48–47 and 49–46. Gustafsson had Cormier in trouble in the third after a knockdown, but Cormier stormed back to get the decision.
Also on the main card, all of which went to a decision, Ryan Bader beat Rashad Evans, Ruslan Magomedov defeated Shawn Jordan, Joseph Benavidez won over Ali Bagautinov, and Julianna Pena beat Jessica Eye. Among the winners on the prelims included Yair Rodriguez, Rose Namajunas, Sage Northcutt, Sergio Pettis and Derrick Lewis.
You can watch UFC 192 on UFC Fight Pass here.
In The Clinch
This week on In The Clinch, myself and Paul Fontaine will look back at UFC 266, look ahead to UFC On ESPN+ 51 and Bellator 267, talk about Jon Jones and look at all of the news that broke over the last week. You can listen to In The Clinch on the Fight Game Media Network, with our Patreon page found here.