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 were UFC and Bellator events on Saturday, and plenty of news, so let’s dive right into what’s going on.
Looking back at UFC on ESPN+53 and Bellator 268
- The talk going into Saturday’s UFC On ESPN+ 53 main event was whether it was the weakest main event in UFC history, and whether you thought it was or not, Norma Dumont’s unanimous decision win over Aspen Ladd was, quite frankly, one of the worst UFC fights of the year. Ladd did nothing in the first three rounds, and I really mean nothing, and pretty much had already given the fight away through the first three. She did better in the fourth and fifth, but Dumont was the clear victor. It was a really bad fight, and Dumont was talking about title fights afterwards, which I’m not sure she should be after that kind of fight.
- Ladd’s coach, Jim West, got a lot of criticism after the fight for how he treated Ladd between rounds. His speech to her between the third and fourth, to me, was fine, and something coaches need to do more often. He was yelling at her that she was losing the fight and she needed to start doing something, and that was true. In between the fourth and fifth, he started to do it again, but the yelling got out of control and was laced with inappropriate words; it was borderline abusive. There’s a way to handle telling a fighter they’re losing, and how he handled it first was the right way, but the second time was crossing the line. That said, I think more coaches need to take this approach when they know their fighter is losing, because Ladd did at least respond and fight better in the fourth and fifth rounds, though it was really too little, too late.
- If one thing was proven on Saturday’s UFC card, it’s that you can’t count out veterans against young guys. Andrei Arlovski and Jim Miller both showed they can still get the job done in scoring wins. Arlovski won a close decision over Carlos Felipe, while Miller, in his record-setting 38th UFC fight, knocked Erick Gonzalez out cold with a left hand at the beginning of the second round.
- I don’t care that Jim Miller never won a UFC title or even fought for a UFC title, he deserves to be in the UFC Hall Of Fame for all of the accolades he has accomplished during his UFC career, which will keep on going. I do hope he gets to his goal of, barring a surprise Brock Lesnar return, being the only fighter to fight on the UFC 100, UFC 200 and UFC 300 cards. By my count, UFC 300 would take place in July 2024, and Miller would be 40-years-old, so this is something that MUST HAPPEN. I also think there is a spot for Andrei Arlovski in the UFC Hall Of Fame, though I wouldn’t make the same case for him as I would for Miller.
- The rest of Saturday’s UFC card was a mixed bag, with some fun finishes and some uneventful fights. Nate Landwehr and Danaa Batgerel had some fun finishes, so those would be worth going back and seeking out.
- The main event of Bellator 268 was also an uneventful fight, but for different reasons. Bellator Light Heavyweight Champion Vadim Nemkov scored a fourth-round submission of Julius Anglickas to retain the championship and move on to the finals of Bellator’s Light Heavyweight Grand Prix. It wasn’t a boring fight in the fashion the fight between Dumont and Ladd was, but Anglickas was clearly overmatched by Nemkov, who might be the best light heavyweight in the world. However, Nemkov’s game of getting the takedown and stay just active enough from the top until the fourth didn’t make for a fun fight to watch.
- I did not expect Corey Anderson to finish Ryan Bader as quickly as he did, nor did I even expect Anderson to knock him out, at least in that fashion. It happened all in 0:51 seconds, as Anderson dropped Bader with a right hand and swarmed on him and pounded away until it was stopped. That win sets Anderson up for a title shot against Nemkov, which is the reason Anderson signed with Bellator.
- The long-anticipated bout between Leon Edwards and Jorge Masvidal, which has been in the makings since their backstage confrontation in London in March 2019, is finally going to happen at UFC 269 in December. They’ve been trying to put together the fight for a long time, but there had been times where both Edwards and Masvidal turned it down, but now does seem like a good time for it, and if Edwards wins, he better be getting a title shot. That joins a stacked card, which saw the main event between UFC Lightweight Champion Charles Oliveira and Dustin Poirier become officially announced.
- It’s only been five months since he announced his retirement, but Paul Felder has been open about admitting that the itch to return to competition is there. He admitted he misses fighting tremendously, but that it also could be due to triathlon season being over. He says he’s going back to the gym and started training, and is going to work with some Philadelphia-based UFC fighters, and that he would go from there when it comes to whether he’ll come back or not. I’ve always enjoyed Felder, whether inside the Octagon or on commentary, and I would be a fan of it if he were to choose to return.
- Luke Rockhold is out of his UFC 268 bout against Sean Strickland, having been forced to pull out due to herniated discs in his back. The plan is to hopefully rebook Rockhold against Strickland in the new year, but it’s all dependent on when Rockhold will be able to return. He talked about having to possibly be out for six months, which may throw that fight out of the window, and Strickland has said he wants to fight in January at UFC 270 in Anaheim.
- Dana White’s Contender Series this past week saw three new signees to the UFC roster. Martin Buday and Slava Borshchev were no-brainers after they scored early finishes. The third signee was Jake Hadley, which, if you’ve read this column and seen him mentioned, especially last week, you would know that I felt he didn’t need to be on this show and that he just needed to be outright signed to a UFC contract. However, they put him on the show, and he missed weight for his fight, which he ended up winning by submission in the second round anyway. Not only that, but he had several issues and run-ins with UFC staff members over the week, and he was far from the most-liked person in Las Vegas, to say the least. Despite all of that, White opted to sign him, much to the dismay of UFC executive Hunter Campbell and UFC matchmakers Sean Shelby and Mick Maynard, all of whom White said stormed out of the room when he said he was signing Hadley. Hadley is a fantastic fighter, and regardless of what happened, it was the right call to sign him.
Here are some fights I would make next for those who fought at UFC On ESPN+ 53 on Saturday:
- Norma Dumont vs. Holly Holm
- Aspen Ladd vs. Felicia Spencer-Leah Letson winner
- Andrei Arlovski vs. Parker Porter
- Jim Miller vs. Jeremy Stephens
- Manon Fiorot vs. Luana Carolina
- Nate Landwehr vs. Chas Skelly
- Bruno Silva vs. Zak Cummings
Here are some of the fights that were announced over the past week:
- Hu Yaozong vs. Andre Petroski — UFC 267 — October 30
- Phil Hawes vs. Chris Curtis — UFC 268 — November 6
- Miguel Baeza vs. Khaos Williams — UFC Fight Night — November 13
- Jake Matthews vs. Jeremiah Wells — UFC Fight Night — December 4
- UFC Lightweight Champion Charles Oliveira vs. Dustin Poirier — UFC 269 — December 11 (MAIN EVENT- NOW OFFICIAL)
- Leon Edwards vs. Jorge Masvidal — UFC 269 — December 11
- Geoff Neal vs. Santiago Ponzinibbio — UFC 269 — December 11
- Maycee Barber vs. Erin Blanchfield — UFC 269 — December 11
- UFC Flyweight Champion Brandon Moreno vs. Deiveson Figueiredo — UFC 270 — January 22
- Michael Morales vs. Trevin Giles — UFC 270 — January 22
- Matt Frevola vs. Genaro Valdez — UFC 270 — January 22
- Ian Heinisch vs. Sam Alvey — UFC Fight Night — February 5
- Hakeem Dawodu vs. Mike Trizano — UFC Fight Night — February 5
- Kyler Phillips vs. Marcelo Rojo — UFC 271 — February 12
- Jesse Strader vs. Chad Anheliger — UFC Fight Night — February 19
- Austin Lingo vs. Jonathan Pearce — UFC Fight Night — February 19
- Ignacio Bahamondes vs. Rongzhu — UFC Fight Night — February 26
Coming up this week
- UFC On ESPN+ 54 takes place on Saturday, October 23, from the UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada. The entire card airs on ESPN+, with the main card airing at 4 p.m. eastern time, and the prelims airing at 1:00 p.m. ET. Paulo Costa vs. Marvin Vettori is the main event.
- Bellator 269 takes place on Saturday, October 23, from the VTB Arena in Moscow, Russia. The main card airs on Showtime at 3 p.m. eastern time, with prelims kicking off on YouTube at 12:00 p.m. ET. Fedor Emelianenko vs. Tim Johnson is the main event.
- Dana White’s Contender Series 44 takes place on Tuesday, October 19, from the UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada. It airs on ESPN+ at 8:00 p.m. ET.
- LFA 116 takes place on Friday, October 22, from Vail, Colorado, airing on UFC Fight Pass at 10:00 p.m. ET.
- XMMA 3 takes place on Saturday, October 23, from Miami, Florida. The card features UFC veterans John Dobson, Nate Marquardt, John Howard, Cody Gibson and Valdir Araujo.
- RIZIN 31 takes place on Sunday, October 24, from Yokohama, Japan. It airs on pay-per-view at 12:00 a.m. ET.
This week in MMA history
One of the most controversial decisions in UFC history took place nearly twelve years ago at UFC 104 on October 24, 2009. The event was held at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. It drew 14,892 fans for a gate of $1.9 million, and got an additional 500,000 buys on pay-per-view.
The main event was an anticipated battle for the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship, as champion Lyoto Machida was making his first title defense, defending against Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua. They had a closely-contested battle that went the distance. It ended with Machida scoring a unanimous decision on straight 48–47 scorecards in what was one of the most-talked about decisions in UFC history. Every single media outlet scored the fight for Rua, and it seemed fans all thought Rua won, and that the only three people in the world who thought Machida won were the three judges. It led to an immediate rematch between the two months later.
Also on the main card, Cain Velasquez scored a second-round TKO over Ben Rothwell, Gleison Tibau defeated Josh Neer by unanimous decision, Joe Stevenson scored a second-round knockout of Spencer Fisher, and Anthony ‘Rumble’ Johnson finished Yoshiyuki Yoshida in 41 seconds. Among the winners on the prelims included Ryan Bader, Pat Barry, Stefan Struve, Jorge Rivera, Kyle Kingsbury, and Chael Sonnen, who won a decision over Yushin Okami.
You can watch UFC 104 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+ 53, Bellator 268 and Dana White’s Contender Series. We will also look ahead to UFC On ESPN+ 54, Bellator 269 and look at all of the news of the week. You can listen to In The Clinch on The Fight Game Media Network, with our Patreon page found here.