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. This week was full of fight announcements, as well as shows from UFC and Bellator, so let’s dive right into what’s going on.
Looking Back at UFC on ESPN+ 51 & Bellator 267
- I was looking forward to the main event of UFC On ESPN+ 51 between Thiago Santos vs. Johnny Walker as much as anyone, and, man, was that a disappointing fight or what? I did say in my Guide to UFC on ESPN+ 51 that if the longer the fight goes, the more terrible it would be. I also said I didn’t think it would go past two rounds, so I guess I can take solace in being half-right. It was slow and plodding and not very exciting, which is weird for two light heavyweights who like to get in slugfests. Both men were tentative, especially Walker, who would constantly look like he was about to pull the trigger on doing something, only to not do so. Santos got the win by decision, and I agreed with it, but what could’ve contended for Fight Of The Year is one of the DUD Of The Year fights, and neither mans’ stock improved in this one.
- The co-main event of Saturday’s UFC event had a weird ending. Kevin Holland and Kyle Daukaus clashed heads, badly, and Holland looked like he was out cold from it. Referee Dan Miragliotta signaled for a replay but let the fight go on, and Daukaus took advantage in pounding away at Holland, who started defending seconds later, and ultimately Daukaus submitted Holland with a standing rear-naked choke. It looked like Daukaus had gotten the win. However, there was a long discussion after the fight on how to handle this. Miragliotta made the right call to signal for the replay, but he should’ve stopped it at that moment to view it instead of letting it go on. The discussion also saw UFC officials Marc Ratner and Sean Shelby get involved, which they shouldn’t have when it comes to a commission decision. The call was made to rule the fight a no contest, which was really the right call, but it was handled wrongly as it screwed Daukaus out of a win, and Daukaus was only doing what he thought was right in continuing to fight since a timeout wasn’t called by Miragliotta after the clash of heads. It was a strange situation all around, and hopefully we get a rematch to give the fight some clarity.
- The rest of the UFC card on Saturday was mostly good, and had a lot of exciting finishes. This often happens with the weaker cards, where fighters who seem to have more to prove deliver exciting finishes. It was a good show overall, as it ended well before the main card was scheduled to end, so it was a quick night overall, and an easy watch. I would like to point out the performances of Alexander Hernandez, Casey O’Neill, Jamie Mullarkey and Douglas Silva de Andrade as stand-out finishes of the night. O’Neill has some real potential to be a viable title challenger to Valentina Shevchenko in the future.
- Saturday’s UFC show marked the final fight in the career of Bethe Correia. I will say she definitely over-achieved in the sport. Happy trails to her.
- Aspen Ladd had another scary weigh-in on Friday for Saturday’s UFC show. She officially missed weight, again, coming in at 137 pounds. However, she was shaking a lot, had trouble standing on the scale, had trouble lifting her arms, and was just in bad shape overall. Her fight against Macy Chiasson ended up not happening, but that was only because Chiasson didn’t want to fight someone in that condition. Ladd didn’t pull out of the fight, and the NSAC didn’t scrap the fight, though they might have had Chiasson not refused to fight. This is a familiar situation with Ladd, and it keeps getting more scary. I didn’t like that Miesha Tate was speaking out and claiming Ladd was trying to cheat the scale and was playing up her condition a little. I hope Ladd just decides to move up to 145 lbs., because this is getting closer and closer to a tragedy waiting to happen with her.
- Bellator 267 on Friday saw Michael ‘Venom’ Page score a razor-thin decision over Douglas Lima in the main event. I thought Page was going to win going in, but by the end of the fight, I had Lima winning, as did just about everyone else I saw. It should’ve been a five-round fight, but Bellator has yet to go with non-title or non-tournament five-round main events yet. It was just a close fight overall, and both men had some good moments. They’re now tied at one win apiece, so a third fight between the two could be next.
- I see a lot of people talking about how Page should be fighting for a Bellator title, but also bringing up that he doesn’t seem to want that. I can tell you he definitely doesn’t want to fight for a title. I’m not sure how many fights or time he has left on his Bellator deal, but Page wants out of there. He’s made no secret that he wants to go to UFC, and his relationship with Bellator brass seems shaky at best. If he were to win a title, he’d get locked into the champions clause in the standard contract, and that is something he wants to avoid. I do think UFC will take him, especially if he can stay in the win column, when his Bellator deal comes up.
- This week’s update on the Jon Jones arrest saw the police report publicly coming out with some disturbing details on the situation coming to light, including his fiancée not wanting to give police the full story on what happened. The week ended with Jones and his fiancée posting a video on his social media together, kissing one another. The whole situation is just weird and unhealthy, and Jones’ video is definitely completely not normal for these types of situations.
- There were lots of fight announcements over the past week with UFC announcing main events for the last three shows of the year that were without main events. It will be Ketlen Vieira taking on Miesha Tate in the headliner of the 11/20 card, in a fight that was pushed back due to Tate suffering from COVID-19. On the 12/4 card, it’ll be bantamweights Rob Font and Jose Aldo squaring off in the main event in a pivotal bout when it comes to the title picture. In the final UFC fight of 2021, on 12/18, it’ll be heavyweights Derrick Lewis and Chris Daukaus meeting in a chance for Lewis to keep himself in the title picture, while Daukaus gets his chance to break through into the top-five.
- Technically, UFC 269 on 12/11 is without a main event, but it’s already been widely reported, including several times in this column, what the main event for that card will be. Dustin Poirier even alluded to having signed his bout agreement for the fight on Twitter late Sunday night.
- What more can be said about Dan Hooker? Hooker, who just fought at UFC 266 last weekend, has taken a short-notice fight against arguably the most-avoided lightweight in the division, Islam Makhachev, at UFC 267 on October 30. It’s exceptionally notable as Hooker, after talking with his family, gave up his opportunity to return to New Zealand, and he doesn’t know when or even if he’ll be able to return home there. He’s going to remain in Las Vegas to train for this fight, but the majority of his coaches have returned to New Zealand, but they will be joining him in Abu Dhabi. The team is still planning on moving to the United States, sooner rather than later, they’re just deciding where they’re going to set up their home base. If Hooker were to beat Makhachev, under all of these circumstances, he could be right in line for a lightweight title eliminator.
- There were some UFC releases over the past week, as Thomas Almeida, Emily Whitmire, Mike Rodriguez, Antonio Arroyo and Sarah Alpar were all cut from the roster. None of those should be a surprise based on recent history, but Almeida’s cut is notable as he was always seen as a future title challenger with a ton of hype. He had a memorable fight with Brad Pickett at UFC 189 in July 2015, but he’s gone just 1–5 over his last six fights since then. It’s a shame he never quite panned out, because he was an exciting fighter before injuries took over.
- Dana White’s Contender Series only saw two signings this past week, with Ihor Potieria and Daniel Zellhuber earning deals. I honestly thought the other two winners, Caio Borralho and Rizvan Kuniev, would also get contracts based on how this season has gone, so I was pleasantly surprised that Dana went against the grain. Both Potieria and Zellhuber deserved contracts with their performances, and they’ll be solid additions to the roster.
Here are some fights I would make next for those who fought at UFC On ESPN+ 51 on Saturday:
- Thiago Santos vs. Paul Craig
- Johnny Walker vs. Tyson Pedro
- Kevin Holland vs. Kyle Daukaus
- Niko Price vs. Robbie Lawler
- Krzysztof Jotko vs. Darren Till
- Alexander Hernandez vs. Gregor Gillespie
- Jared Gordon vs. Paddy Pimblett
- Casey O’Neill vs. Sijara Eubanks-Luana Carolina winner
Here are the fights that were announced over the past week:
- Sijara Eubanks vs. Luana Carolina — UFC Fight Night — October 16
- Dan Hooker vs. Islam Makhachev — UFC 267 — October 30
- Makwan Amirkhani vs. Lerone Murphy — UFC 267 — October 30
- Thiago Moises vs. Joel Alvarez — UFC Fight Night — November 13
- Ketlen Vieira vs. Miesha Tate — UFC Fight Night — November 20 (MAIN EVENT)
- Augusto Sakai vs. Tai Tuivasa — UFC Fight Night — November 20
- Jessica Penne vs. Luana Pinheiro — UFC Fight Night — November 20
- Denys Bondar vs. Malcolm Gordon — UFC Fight Night — November 20
- Rob Font vs. Jose Aldo — UFC Fight Night — December 4 (MAIN EVENT)
- Sergei Pavlovich vs. Tanner Boser — UFC Fight Night — December 4
- Manel Kape vs. Zhalgas Zhumagulov — UFC Fight Night — December 4
- Pedro Munhoz vs. Dominick Cruz — UFC 269 — December 11
- Raulian Paiva vs. Sean O’Malley — UFC 269 — December 11
- Derrick Lewis vs. Chris Daukaus — UFC Fight Night — December 18 (MAIN EVENT)
- Raquel Pennington vs. Julia Avila — UFC Fight Night — December 18
- Cub Swanson vs. Darren Elkins — UFC Fight Night — December 18
- Brandon Royval vs. Rogerio Bontorin — UFC Fight Night — January 15
- Jasmine Jasudavicius vs. Kay Hansen — UFC Fight Night — January 15
- Brian Kelleher vs. Saidyokub Kakhramonov — UFC Fight Night — January 15
- Jared Cannonier vs. Derek Brunson — UFC 270 — January 22
- Greg Hardy vs. Aleksei Oleinik — UFC 270 — January 22
- Jacob Malkoun vs. AJ Dobson — UFC 270 — January 22
- Rodolfo Vieira vs. Wellington Turman — UFC 270 — January 22
- Ji Yeon Kim vs. Poliana Botelho — UFC 270 — January 22
Coming up this week:
- UFC on ESPN+ 52 takes place on Saturday, October 9, from the UFC APEX in Las Vegas. The entire card airs on ESPN+, with the main card at 4:00 p.m. ET, and the prelims kicking off at 1 PM eastern time. Mackenzie Dern vs. Marina Rodriguez is the main event.
- Dana White’s Contender Series 42 takes place on Tuesday, October 5, from the UFC APEX in Las Vegas. It airs at 8:00 p.m. ET on ESPN+.
This week in MMA history
On October 5, 2019, the most-attended UFC event in company took place when UFC 243 went down from Marvel Stadium in Melbourne, Australia. 57,127 fans were in attendance with a gate of $5,470,000, and with arguably the biggest fight in Australian MMA history taking place.
In the main event, Interim UFC Middleweight Champion Israel Adesanya became the Undisputed UFC Middleweight Champion when he scored a second-round knockout of then UFC Middleweight Champion Robert Whittaker. Adesanya had been on a quick and steady rise up the rankings, becoming an interim champion in April 2019, before unifying the titles in front of Whittaker’s home country fans. Adesanya and Whittaker are expected to have a rematch in early 2022.
Also on the main card, Dan Hooker scored a unanimous decision over Al Iaquinta, Serghei Spivac submitted Tai Tuivasa, Dhiego Lima won a decision over Luke Jumeau, and Yorgan de Castro knocked out Justin Tafa in the first round. Among those winning on the prelims included Jake Matthews, Brad Riddell and Megan Anderson.
You can watch UFC 243 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+ 51, Bellator 267 and Dana White’s Contender Series. We will also look ahead to UFC On ESPN+ 52, as well as 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.