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.
Looking Back at UFC On ESPN+ 52
- The main event of Saturday’s UFC on ESPN+ 52 event between Marina Rodriguez and Mackenzie Dern was a really strong fight and worth seeking out if you missed it. Rodriguez turned in a strong performance after being dominated and nearly finished by Dern in the second round, but she came back and won the final three rounds (after winning the first) to score the unanimous decision. It was a big win for her, her third straight overall, and she has just one loss in her 19-fight career.
- The biggest winner coming out of Rodriguez defeating Dern is Carla Esparza. There was lots of talk that a Dern win could have her leapfrog Esparza in the line for a title shot, or that it could possibly mean the UFC would look to book Esparza against Dern. Esparza already deserves a title shot. She should be getting the next one, not Zhang Weili. Esparza should still be getting the next shot without having to fight- she’s earned it. She also beat Rodriguez just over a year ago, and Rodriguez said after that she isn’t looking to fight Esparza again right now and that Esparza should be fighting for the title next. It would be a crime for Esparza to fight anyone except the champion next.
- While Dern looked good at times during the fight, it also exposed a lot of holes in her game. She still has in her overall skillset and where improvements need to be made. She can win fights, and most of them rather easily, if she can get opponents to the ground. However, if it stays on the feet, she is still a little too wild with her striking. She’s still got a lot of talent and potential, but the rush to the top five of the division may have come a little quicker than she was truly ready for.
- The rest of Saturday’s UFC show was an easy watch with only nine fights, and it had some solid performances. The fight between Damon Jackson and Charles Rosa is a fight worth going out of your way to see if you’re a fan of bloody fights. I can’t remember a recent fight that was as bloody as that one, and it made for some dramatic moments.
- Saturday also marked the first time in UFC history that all four fight night bonus awards went to females. You have to give props to Rodriguez, Dern, Mariya Agapova and Lupita Godinez for turning in solid showings on Saturday.
- The anticipated unification bout for the UFC Heavyweight Championship has been set as current champion Francis Ngannou and interim champion Ciryl Gane will meet in the main event of UFC 270 on January 22. A location for the event has yet to be announced, though Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Dallas look to be potential leading candidates as far as host city.
- The UFC Middleweight Championship bout between current champion Israel Adesanya and former champion Robert Whittaker has been pushed back from UFC 270, with it currently slated to headline UFC 271 on February 12. It is to allow Adesanya and the City Kickboxing team more time to figure out where they’re going to establish a home base for the team in the United States in anticipation of their move here.
- The main event of UFC 269 is now only awaiting an official announcement from the UFC, but the title fight between UFC Lightweight Champion Charles Oliveira and Dustin Poirier has had bout agreements now signed by both men.
- This upcoming Saturday’s UFC On ESPN+ 53 saw yet another main event change, as Holly Holm was forced out due to a knee injury. It will be Aspen Ladd stepping up to replace her against Norma Dumont in the headliner. It’s definitely the weakest main event of the year, and maybe in company history. It will be at 145 lbs. It’s interesting that Ladd is stepping in just two weeks after her most recent weigh-in issues, and even though she is moving up a weight class, she’s still going to have to cut to make the featherweight limit. Asking her to do so two weeks after her latest incident, even with the change in weight, seems kind of negligent, but we can only hope that nothing bad becomes of it this time.
- Bellator Women’s Featherweight Champion Cris Cyborg has had her next title defense announced, as she’ll defend against Sinead Kavanagh at Bellator 271 on November 12. The announcement was met with a lot of head scratching, as it was thought and looked clear as day that Cyborg’s next defense would be against Cat Zingano. Kavanagh has won two straight, but prior to that she had lost four of five, and she’s just 4–4 in Bellator. It definitely seems like she was not the best option for Cyborg. Scott Coker has said that the winner will defend against Zingano next.
- Scott Coker announced this week that all Bellator non-title main events will now be five rounds. It’s about time, and it comes on the heels of a couple of main events where five rounds might’ve been better than three rounds.
- Patricio Pitbull vacated the Bellator Lightweight Championship this past week. There were a few reasons as to why he did it. First of all, he did say that when he lost the Bellator Featherweight Championship to AJ McKee that he no longer felt like a champion, and that it didn’t feel right still holding a title having lost. He also said he didn’t want to hold up the division, as the plan right now seems to be a rematch between McKee and Pitbull for the featherweight title. Also, the upcoming fight between Peter Queally and Patricky Pitbull, at Bellator 270 on November 5, is supposed to be for a title shot, and Pitbull won’t defend against his brother should his brother win, so that also paid a factor. With the belt being vacated, the bout between Queally and Patricky will be for the Bellator Lightweight Championship.
- Dana White signed four more fighters to contract on this week’s edition of The Contender Series. The four fighters who earned them, Mike Malott, Carlos Hernandez, Fernie Garcia and Genaro Valdez, all deserved contracts, but I was surprised Joseph Holmes also didn’t get one. All five guys brought it, and this was overall the best episode thus far on this season.
- If you are a weekly viewer of Dana White’s Contender Series, or even if you’re not, I suggest watching this upcoming week’s episode, which features flyweight Jake Hadley competing for a UFC contract. I don’t even think he should be on the show and that he should just be signed outright to the UFC, as he is arguably the best young flyweight prospect in the sport. He’s 25, 7–0 with five finishes, and is an exciting fighter who I expect to be a big part of the UFC’s flyweight division in the future.
Here are some fights I would make next for those who fought at UFC On ESPN+ 52 on Saturday:
- Marina Rodriguez vs. Joanna Jedrzejczyk
- Mackenzie Dern vs. Angela Hill
- Randy Brown vs. Max Griffin
- Matheus Nicolau vs. Askar Askarov
- Mariya Agapova vs. Maryna Moroz
- Chris Gutierrez vs. Nate Maness
- Alexandr Romanov vs. Andrei Arlovski-Carlos Felipe winner
- Damon Jackson vs. Jonathan Pearce
Here are the fights that were announced over the past week:
- Aspen Ladd vs. Norma Dumont — UFC Fight Night — October 16 (MAIN EVENT)
- Jim Miller vs. Erick Gonzalez — UFC Fight Night — October 16
- Danaa Batgerel vs. Brandon Davis — UFC Fight Night — October 16
- Khama Worthy vs. Jai Herbert — UFC Fight Night — October 23
- Bellator Women’s Featherweight Champion Cris Cyborg vs. Sinead Kavanagh — Bellator 271 — November 12 (MAIN EVENT)
- Kevin Holland vs. Kyle Daukaus — UFC Fight Night — November 13
- Kennedy Nzechukwu vs. Da Un Jung — UFC Fight Night — November 13
- Joanne Calderwood vs. Taila Santos — UFC Fight Night — November 20
- Rani Yahya vs. Kyung Ho Kang — UFC Fight Night — November 20
- Shayilan Nuerdanbieke vs. Sean Soriano — UFC Fight Night — November 20
- Louis Smolka vs. Vince Morales — UFC Fight Night — December 4
- Calvin Kattar vs. Giga Chikadze — UFC Fight Night — January 15 (MAIN EVENT)
- Ramiz Brahimaj vs. Court McGee — UFC Fight Night — January 15
- UFC Heavyweight Champion Francis Ngannou vs. Interim UFC Heavyweight Champion Ciryl Gane — UFC 270 — January 22 (MAIN EVENT)
- Cody Stamann vs. Said Nurmagomedov — UFC 270 — January 22
- Marc-Andre Barriault vs. Chidi Njokuani — UFC Fight Night — February 5
- Jason Witt vs. Phil Rowe — UFC Fight Night — February 5
- Danilo Marques vs. Jailton Almeida — UFC Fight Night — February 5
- Miles Johns vs. John Castaneda — UFC Fight Night — February 5
- Julian Erosa vs. Steven Peterson — UFC Fight Night — February 5
- Douglas Silva de Andrade vs. Sergey Morozov — UFC 271 — February 12
Here are some of the notable MMA events coming up this week:
- UFC On ESPN+ 53 takes place on Saturday, October 16, from the UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada. The main card airs on ESPN+ at 7:00 p.m. ET, with the prelims airing on ESPN+ at 4:00 p.m. eastern time. Aspen Ladd vs. Norma Dumont is the main event.
- Dana White’s Contender Series 43 takes place on Tuesday, October 12, from the UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada. It airs on ESPN+ at 8:00 p.m. ET.
- Bellator 268 takes place on Saturday, October 16, from the Footprint Center in Phoenix, Arizona. The main card airs at 10:00 p.m. ET on Showtime, and the prelims air at 7 p.m. eastern time on YouTube. Bellator Light Heavyweight Champion Vadim Nemkov defends against Julius Anglickas in the main event, which is also a Bellator Light Heavyweight Grand Prix semi-final bout. The other semi-final bout also takes place as Ryan Bader takes on Corey Anderson.
- Cage Warriors 130 takes place on Sunday, October 17, from San Diego, California, airing on UFC Fight Pass at 6:00 p.m. ET.
- Fury FC 52 takes place on Sunday, October 17, from Houston, Texas, airing on UFC Fight Pass at 8:00 p.m. ET.
This Week in MMA History
On October 11, 1997, one of the more historic MMA events in the history of the sport took place, as the very first event in the PRIDE Fighting Championships history took place, PRIDE FC 1, in front of 47,860 fans inside the Tokyo Dome in Tokyo, Japan.
It was a mixture of some of the Gracie Family and some fighters who had fought in the UFC making up the first-ever event. In the main event, Rickson Gracie submitted Nobuhiko Takada with an armbar in the first round. In other notable fights, Kimo Leopoldo and Dan Severn fought to a time-limit draw, Koji Kitao submitted Nathan Jones, Renzo Gracie and Akira Shoji fought to a time-limit draw, and Gary Goodridge knocked out Oleg Taktarov in the first round.
You can watch PRIDE FC 1 on UFC Fight Pass here.
In The Clinch
This week on In The Clinch, myself and Paul Fontaine will recap UFC On ESPN+ 52 and Dana White’s Contender Series, look ahead to UFC On ESPN+ 53 and Bellator 268, talk all of 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.