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 plenty of things that went on over the past week, and we have a big week ahead of us, so let’s dive right into everything going on.
Looking Back at UFC and Bellator from this past weekend
- Despite all of the shenanigans that took place in the days leading up to the fight, the main event of Saturday’s UFC On ESPN+ 54 event between Marvin Vettori and Paulo Costa was an excellent fight. Both men looked good, even Costa, who had seemed disinterested all week in fighting with off his weight shenanigans. Vettori spent all week acting like a guy who was just there to fight under any circumstances necessary, and he turned in a solid showing en route to winning a unanimous decision. It was a big win for Vettori, who will keep himself in that mix in the middleweight division despite his loss to Israel Adesanya.
- As for what’s next for Costa, he said he still wants to fight at 185 lbs., win the title, and then move up full-time to light heavyweight. Dana White said Costa would be fighting at 205 lbs. from now on. Costa blamed the weight miss on dealing with a biceps injury during training camp, which, I’m not sure really affects cutting weight, but who knows. I do know that those people who said Costa should be cut after everything are just way off base, because that’s not going to happen. I would personally like to see him stay at light heavyweight.
- I was disappointed in the performance of Grant Dawson in the co-main event on Saturday. He had been super impressive during his career, coming in 17–1, and had been on the cusp of breaking into the lightweight rankings. He had a strong first two rounds against Ricky Glenn, but faded badly in the third and nearly was finished, but he was lucky to escape with a draw. It’s definitely not the showing he wanted, and he’s got lots of improvement to be made if he wants to contend in a tough UFC lightweight division.
- There were some impressive finishes on Saturday’s UFC show, coming from Alex Caceres, Gregory Rodrigues, Jai Herbert and Jeff Molina. The rest of the show was a mixed bag, and it definitely felt like a 14-fight card, and not necessarily for all of the right reasons.
- There was lots of criticism from lots of people, myself included, when Bellator announced that Fedor Emelianenko’s opponent for his first fight in nearly two years would be Tim Johnson. It made sense from Bellator’s perspective, as Johnson is a guy already on the roster and they don’t have to go through the deal of signing someone new. There were just so many better potential options out there, but Bellator went with their guy. It worked out, as Fedor scored a classic first-round knockout of Johnson in just under two minutes in his home country of Russia. It was the finish all Fedor fans were hoping to see, and even if his best days are behind him and fighting at age 45 is questionable, everyone got to enjoy him at least one more time. There is no telling whether this will be his last fight, as his chin is gone but he can still beat anyone if he connects first, and that includes top-ten heavyweights.
- Whoever booked the fight between Usman Nurmagomedov and Patrik Pietila should be fired for promotional malpractice. Nurmagomedov did what he was expected to do, and that was maul Pietila and finish him in the first round. It was an absolute mismatch. Nurmagomedov was 13-0 headed into that fight and already in Bellator’s top-five. Pietila was in his second Bellator fight, and came in with an 11-7 record. That’s a fight that shouldn’t have ever been made, and shame on the matchmakers for letting it happen.
- This past week’s edition of Dana White’s Contender Series saw four new fighters signed to a UFC deal, and you could make a strong case that all five winners should’ve gotten a deal. Armen Petrosyan and Caio Borralho both deserved contracts after their finishes. Petrosyan had to bounce back from some early trouble, but he had an impressive finish with a head kick followed by punches knockout. Borralho should’ve been signed when he was on the show three weeks ago, but he made a quick return, moving up a weight class, and scored a first-round finish this time to leave no doubt that White should sign him. Piera Rodriguez scored a decision win over Valesca Machado in a fantastic fight where whomever won would’ve gotten a contract, and Machado will be on the list of fighters to call to offer a short-notice fight. Jonny Parsons beat Solomon Renfro by split decision in the main event, earning a contract in the process. Many thought Renfro won the fight, and he would’ve gotten a deal had he won, and Parsons is deserving, and I hope we see Renfro also on that short list for short-notice replacements.
- Dana White said they are working on a fight for Nate Diaz, which would be the last fight on his current UFC deal. I don’t see them actually booking him in a fight without a new contract, despite what everyone says, but it could still happen. Diaz was floating the idea of fighting Tony Ferguson over the past week, which is a fight White says is not under consideration. It is a fight that Diaz wants, though, as the real fight he was after, against Vicente Luque, doesn’t appear to be happening.
- UFC 270 on January 22 was officially announced for the Honda Center in Anaheim, California, with tickets going on sale soon. It will be headlined by two title fights, as UFC Heavyweight Champion Francis Ngannou and Interim UFC Heavyweight Champion Ciryl Gane battle in a unification bout, and UFC Flyweight Champion Brandon Moreno defends against Deiveson Figueiredo to complete their trilogy.
- She’s still currently listed in the UFC’s rankings on their official website, but Joanna Jedrzejczyk has been removed from the rankings pool (I am a voter). That’s an interesting situation. She has one fight left on her UFC contract, but has been turning down fights, saying she deserves to be fighting for a title and that’s the only fights she wants.
- The biggest story of the week came from the UFC notifying all of their athletes about the new mandates when it comes to traveling to the United States to compete, as starting on November 8, all foreign athletes, coaches, managers and training partners who will be traveling from overseas will have to be fully vaccinated. That is going to become a big deal as the promotion is holding all of their November and December events in the U.S. Dana White said Fight Island in Abu Dhabi would be hopping again, but that is not the perfect fix for everything, as there are still lots of logistical things that have to be sorted out surrounding lots of different things before they can just move a lot of their events over there. The U.S. is also not the only country where these types of restrictions will be mandated, and a lot of countries the UFC likes to visit when they’re on their full touring schedule will have some sort of similar mandate. It will be interesting times, and it pretty much boils down if fighters want to continue to have a successful UFC career, it might mean getting vaccinated, whether they agree or not. Then again, a lot of these fighters will put anything into their bodies for a social media post that pays them $100, but this they have an issue with. I do hope things work out for the best for everyone involved.
Here are some fights I would make next for those who fought at UFC On ESPN+ 54 on Saturday:
- Marvin Vettori vs. Sean Strickland
- Paulo Costa vs. Thiago Santos
- Grant Dawson vs. Thiago Moises-Joel Alvarez winner
- Ricky Glenn vs. Jim Miller
- Jessica-Rose Clark vs. Raquel Pennington-Julia Avila winner
- Alex Caceres vs. Movsar Evloev
- Francisco Trinaldo vs. Matt Brown-Bryan Barberena winner
- Nicolae Negumereanu vs. William Knight
- Randa Markos vs. Tabatha Ricci
Here are the fights that were announced over the past week:
- Cynthia Calvillo vs. Andrea Lee — UFC Fight Night — November 13
- Tucker Lutz vs. Pat Sabatini — UFC Fight Night — November 20
- Bellator Bantamweight Champion Sergio Pettis vs. Kyoji Horiguchi — Bellator 272 — December 3 (MAIN EVENT)
- Clay Guida vs. Leonardo Santos — UFC Fight Night — December 4
- Josh Emmett vs. Dan Ige — UFC 269 — December 11
- Andre Ewell vs. Charles Jourdain — UFC Fight Night — December 18
- Raoni Barcelos vs. Trevin Jones — UFC Fight Night — December 18
- Katlyn Chookagian vs. Jennifer Maia — UFC Fight Night — January 15
- Joaquin Buckley vs. Abdul Razak Alhassan — UFC Fight Night — January 15
- Ashley Yoder vs. Vanessa Demopoulos — UFC Fight Night — January 15
- Viviane Araujo vs. Alexa Grasso — UFC 270 — January 22
- Tony Gravely vs. Saimon Oliveira — UFC 270 — January 22
- Warlley Alves vs. Jack Della Maddalena — UFC 270 — January 22
- Renato Moicano vs. Alexander Hernandez — UFC 271 — February 12
Coming up this week
Here are some of the notable MMA events taking place this week:
- UFC 267 takes place on Saturday, October 30 from Yas Island, Abu Dhabi. It has a special start time of 2:00 p.m. eastern time for the main card, and the prelims air at 10:30 a.m. eastern time. The entire card is on ESPN+, and even though it’s a numbered show, it is available at no extra cost for ESPN+ subscribers. UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jan Blachowicz defends against Glover Teixeira in the main event, while an Interim UFC Bantamweight Championship bout between Petr Yan and Cory Sandhagen is the co-main event.
- Dana White’s Contender Series 45 takes place on Tuesday, October 26 from the UFC APEX in Las Vegas. It airs on ESPN+ at 8:00 p.m. eastern time.
- PFL 2021 #10: The Finals takes place on Wednesday, October 27 from the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida. The main card airs at 8:00 p.m. eastern time on ESPN2, and the prelims air on ESPN+ at 6:00 p.m. eastern time. Kayla Harrison vs. Taylor Guardado for the PFL Women’s Lightweight Tournament Championship is the main event, and there will also be five other tournament championships on the card as PFL closes out their 2021 year.
- CFFC 102 takes place on Saturday, October 30 from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, airing on UFC Fight Pass at 7:00 p.m. eastern time.
This week in MMA history
It’s recent history, and it took place during weird times in the world, but it was also a very notable day in UFC history, when, on October 31, 2020, arguably the greatest fighter in UFC history had his final bout with the promotion at UFC On ESPN+ 39 in Las Vegas.
Former UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva stepped into the Octagon for the final time in the UFC APEX, in front of no fans and on ESPN’s streaming service, a weird way to end his storied career with the company. It also didn’t go his way, as, after having a good showing in the early rounds, he was finished in the fourth round by Uriah Hall, ending a run where he won just once in his last nine fights. It was a disappointing end to a career for the UFC legend, who will one day find his rightful spot in the UFC Hall Of Fame. Silva has turned to professional boxing in 2021, and is coming off a knockout of Tito Ortiz in a boxing match in September.
You can watch UFC On ESPN+ 39 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+ 54, Bellator 269 and Dana White’s Contender Series. We will also look ahead to UFC 267, the PFL Finals and take a look at all of the news of the past week. You can listen to In The Clinch on The Fight Game Media Network, with our Patreon page found here.