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. The UFC ran a final event for the month of November before taking the holiday week off this week, so let’s dive right in to everything going on.
Looking Back at UFC on ESPN+ 56
- After a strong run of very entertaining and fun UFC shows, Saturday’s UFC On ESPN+ 56 was rather lackluster. Ten of the eleven fights went to a decision, and most of them would fall under the uneventful category. Ketlen Vieira won via unanimous decision win over Miesha Tate in a close fight, but one that wasn’t all that exciting. It’s a solid win for Vieira, who keeps herself in the title picture.
- Miesha Tate didn’t need the loss, though. She did say she was happy with her performance overall, but a win might’ve gotten her a title shot against Amanda Nunes. With the loss, Tate needs to get herself back as quickly as possible and get a couple of more wins now if she wants to fulfill her goal of re-gaining the UFC Women’s Bantamweight Championship.
- Sean Brady showed he has the potential to be a top-level fighter and potential title challenger as he remains undefeated following a decision win over Michael Chiesa. Brady had a strong first two rounds, and Chiesa made a strong comeback in the third and had Brady in trouble, but Brady weathered the storm to move to 15-0. He should be ranked inside the top ten when the new rankings come out, and he’s set himself up for a big fight next.
- In the search for Valentina Shevchenko’s next title challenger, enter the name of Taila Santos. Santos scored her first UFC finish win as she submitted Joanne Wood in the first round of the only fight to not go the distance on Saturday. It moved Santos to 19-1 overall, and with a four-fight win streak, she’s just as viable a contender as anyone else in the division at the moment.
- The only real fight worth going out of your way to see from Saturday’s UFC event would be the fight between Davey Grant and Adrian Yanez. It was a nice battle on the feet with both men landing some hard shots, and was the best fight on the card overall.
- It is far from signed or even in the works as of the moment, but the idea is for Kamaru Usman to defend the UFC Welterweight Championship against Leon Edwards in the spring. Edwards won’t have to fight anyone else in the meantime.
- The UFC will likely be returning to London, England for the March 19 UFC Fight Night event. It is not finalized, but that is the current plan. There is a possibility the main event could feature Darren Till, with a potential fight against Sean Strickland being talked about. Strickland, though, has other ideas as he’s more interested in fighting Paulo Costa or Jack Hermansson.
- Canada just announced that all visiting athletes will have to be fully vaccinated in order to compete in events in the country, effective January 15, 2022. The UFC is planning on returning to Canada in 2022, but now all fighters will have to be fully vaccinated, so who knows if that throws a wrench into any plans. I honestly doubt it does.
- Dana White has mentioned he won’t make the vaccine mandatory for fighters, but I could see an instance where it will be strongly encouraged if fighters want to be guaranteed to be able to fight. I don’t expect Canada to be the last country to implement these rules, much like the United States and other countries already have.
- Jon Jones claimed to be “60 days sober” this weekend, but as MMA Junkie’s Mike Bohn pointed out, it’s only been 58 days, as of Sunday, since his arrest in Las Vegas. Whatever if he wants to round up, but claiming to be 60 days sober is a good thing for Jones, even if it’s apparently only for alcohol since he was talking about eating edibles on Twitter, and that’s not something a “sober” person does.
Jon Jones' arrest happened 58 days ago. https://t.co/yZeFE9mTHP
— Mike Bohn (@MikeBohnMMA) November 21, 2021
- In other Jones news, he’ll return to action, in one form, on December 9, as he’ll be competing in a grappling contest against AEW wrestler Jake Hager.
- Al Iaquinta is the latest fighter to talk about retirement. He was talking on his “Call Me Al Show” that he was “thinking that’s it” after his loss two weekends ago at UFC 268, also saying that’s the way you go out as a fighter, with a loss. It wasn’t an official retirement, but he has lost three straight and hasn’t been as active, so it wouldn’t shock me if he never fights again.
Here are some fights I would make next for those who fought at UFC On ESPN+ 56 on Saturday:
- Ketlen Vieira vs. Holly Holm
- Miesha Tate vs. Pannie Kianzad
- Sean Brady vs. Khamzat Chimaev
- Michael Chiesa vs. Li Jingliang
- Taila Santos vs. Valentina Shevchenko
- Joanne Wood vs. Cynthia Calvillo
- Rani Yahya vs. Song Yadong
- Adrian Yanez vs. Sean O’Malley (if O’Malley beats Raulian Paiva)
- Pat Sabatini vs. Damon Jackson
- Cody Durden vs. Jeff Molina
Brendan Allen vs. Roman Dolidze — UFC Fight Night — December 4
Cheyanne Vlismas vs. Mallory Martin — UFC Fight Night — December 4
Alonzo Menifield vs. William Knight — UFC Fight Night — December 4
Philipe Lins vs. Azamat Murzakanov — UFC Fight Night — December 4
Thiago Santos vs. Magomed Ankalaev — UFC Fight Night — March 12 (MAIN EVENT)
Jack Shore vs. Umar Nurmagomedov — UFC Fight Night — March 19
Coming up this week
There are no major MMA events taking place this week with it being the Thanksgiving holiday week. Enjoy the week off from major MMA events.
This week in MMA history
One of the most important events in UFC history took place on November 22, 2002, as UFC 40 took place from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. It was a huge success, drawing 13,265 fans, which was a UFC record at the time, for a gate of $1.54 million, also a record at the time, as well as 100,000 buys on pay-per-view.
In what was dubbed as “the biggest fight in UFC history” at the time, the main event saw UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Tito Ortiz defend against his most-heated rival, Ken Shamrock, in what was Shamrock’s return to the UFC for the first time since he left in 1996, where he went on to have a successful wrestling career with WWE. Both men appeared on FOX Sports’ The Best Damn Sports Show Period to build up the fight, and it was unique at the time as the two spent lots of time trash talking each other to build up the fight. It was also the first fight to get mainstream attention from the likes of ESPN and USA Today, and many felt that UFC 40 was the turning point as to whether MMA would survive in North America, though it still took a couple of more years for interest to really sky rocket.
In what was an exciting fight, Ortiz would go on to defeat Shamrock after Shamrock’s corner stopped the fight following the third round, and Ortiz retained the championship. The two would go on to fight twice more during their careers, with both fights being won by Ortiz. Also on the card, Matt Hughes had a successful defense of the UFC Welterweight Championship as he defeated Gil Castillo, Chuck Liddell scored a first-round knockout of Renato ‘Babalu’ Sobral, Carlos Newton submitted Pete Spratt, and Robbie Lawler knocked out Tiki Ghosn.
You can watch UFC 40 on UFC Fight Pass here.
In The Clinch
This week on In The Clinch, myself and Paul Fontaine will recap UFC On ESPN+ 56, talk about what we’re thankful for in the world of MMA in 2021, look at all of the news and everything going on. You can listen to In The Clinch on The Fight Game Media Network, which can be found on all of your major podcast platforms, including Apple Podcasts, Spotify and more, as well as our Patreon.