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. We’re coming off of a major UFC pay-per-view this past weekend, so let’s dive right in to all of the happenings.
Looking back at UFC 269
- It may sound like a broken record for UFC events this year, but UFC 269 is probably the ultimate UFC show of the year. I’m hard pressed to find a card that was better from the start to end, with it being comparable to UFC 268 in November. There wasn’t a Fight Of The Year contender, but UFC 269 had likely the two best rounds of the year, a lot of fun, and even great, fights, lots of crazy finishes, a couple of fun post-fight celebrations, and arguably the biggest upset in UFC history. Find a replay of this show and watch it if you’re a fight fan.
- The Charles Oliveira era in the lightweight division is truly here after he submitted Dustin Poirier in the third round of the main event on Saturday. The first round was an absolutely incredible round, and Oliveira’s grappling ended up proving to be too much for Poirier. It marked Oliveira’s tenth straight win as he joins Kamaru Usman as the only two UFC fighters to currently have win streaks of 10+ inside the Octagon. If there was any doubt that he was the top lightweight in the world, that’s likely gone. Oh, and he gets to fight Justin Gaethje next, and that will be one of the most anticipated fights of 2022.
- Julianna Pena scored the upset of the century when she submitted Amanda Nunes in the second round to win the UFC Women’s Bantamweight Championship. There weren’t many, myself included, that gave Pena much of a shot, but her pressure in the second round and her willingness to just keep pouring it on Nunes put Nunes out of her comfort zone in a way that she hasn’t been in a long time, and it tired Nunes out, and Pena did an excellent job in capitalizing to get the finish. It was arguably the biggest upset in UFC history, and sets the path for a big rematch in the division when Nunes gets her immediate shot to re-gain the title, something that division hasn’t had in a long time. Nunes said it wasn’t her night, and Pena had a good gameplan, and it makes the rematch super interesting.
- It’s time to pay Sean O’Malley and get him some bigger fights in the bantamweight division. He looked excellent in finishing Raulian Paiva in the first round, and Paiva was a legitimate opponent and someone who wasn’t getting the credit he deserved going into that fight. O’Malley is now 7-1 since his UFC signing, with the lone loss being while he was fighting on one leg. With the UFC returning to arena shows for some UFC Fight Night events (more below), he is someone who should headline one of those shows to see what kind of a draw he is, and then he can move into bigger slots on pay-per-view main cards if he keeps winning.
- Kai Kara-France had an impressive finish of Cody Garbrandt in the first round, one that should warrant at least a title eliminator bout next. He showed power and speed and hurt Garbrandt several times. As for Garbrandt, I don’t know where he goes from here. His chin looks completely gone and he’s 1-5 over his last six fights. He likes to get in slugfests, but those aren’t to his benefit any longer. His time at flyweight might be short-lived, and he could be back up at bantamweight for his next fight, should there even been one.
- Dominick Cruz should fight three times in 2022, especially if his goal is to fight for the bantamweight title once again. After suffering some early trouble in the first round, he completely took over his fight against Pedro Munhoz en route to a unanimous decision win. Cruz could be in a title eliminator next, or perhaps in two fights, but he’s still a real threat in the division, but he needs to stay active as the bantamweight division is wild and he could easily get passed over.
- I said this on our last episode of In The Clinch, but you should never have Tai Tuivasa fight in an empty arena setting. He had a great knockout of Augusto Sakai in the second round, and the post-fight celebration with all of the Shoey’s taking place was one of the best post-fight moments in UFC history. Imagine had this fight happened inside of the UFC APEX like originally scheduled. That’s also four straight wins for Tuivasa, who looked like he was done after the stretch where he’d lost three straight, so he’s firmly back in the mix at heavyweight.
- The UFC will be returning to the road for UFC Fight Night events in March. While the March 19 event planned for London isn’t 100% official as they’re still trying to figure out COVID-19 restrictions over there, the March 26 event will be the return to Fight Night road events in the United States as it will mark the Octagon’s return to Columbus, Ohio. That card is headlined by Jan Blachowicz taking on Aleksandar Rakic. It is unknown, at the moment, whether this is a full return to all Fight Night events on the road, or if they’ll still hold the occasional event at the UFC APEX in Las Vegas. We will know more about that when they start announcing stuff for April.
- Speaking of the March 19 event planned for London, while not signed, the targeted main event for that card is a middleweight bout between Darren Till and Uriah Hall. It should come as no surprise that Till is the headliner. Paddy Pimblett is also expected to be a big part of the card.
- Two locations for UFC pay-per-view events were let known this past week. UFC 271 on February 12 will take place at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas, while UFC 272 on March 5 will be at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
- After previously expressing that there might not be much interest, it certainly seems now that Dana White is interested in signing Kayla Harrison to a UFC contract. They met this past week in Las Vegas, which I’m sure is no coincidence after Harrison had recently met with Bellator. It seems now the ball is in Harrison’s court. Her and Amanda Nunes had expressed willingness to fight lately, but that is all up in the air now with Nunes’ loss to Julianna Pena, and there was a great video captured by ESPN MMA that showed Harrison’s reaction following the fight. It was possible there would’ve been a post-fight square-off between Harrison and Nunes, but it now becomes interesting what happens in the future with this story.
— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) December 12, 2021
- The PFL was in the news this week, announcing the PFL Challenger Series will debut on February 18, streaming exclusively on fuboTV and the Fubo Sports Network. The PFL Challenger Series is a chance for prospects to earn their way into future PFL seasons, with the opening run expected to last until at least April. As for the main PFL series, there has yet to be an announcement as to where they will air following the conclusion of their television deal with ESPN.
- I really don’t want to talk about the new proposed World Fight League, which is talking about launching in 2023. I’m in the camp of thinking they’ll never get off the ground, or that if they actually do, it won’t be something that lasts very long. If it does come to full fruition, then I’ll start to give it the time and space. Their plans just don’t seem like something that is going to work.
Here are some fights I would make next for those who fought at UFC 269 on Saturday night:
- Charles Oliveira vs. Justin Gaethje
- Dustin Poirier vs. Nate Diaz
- Julianna Pena vs. Amanda Nunes
- Geoff Neal vs. Daniel Rodriguez
- Kai Kara-France vs. Askar Askarov
- Sean O’Malley vs. Marlon Moraes
- Josh Emmett vs. Chan Sung Jung
- Dominick Cruz vs. Marlon Vera
- Tai Tuivasa vs. Shamil Abdurakhimov
- Bruno Silva vs. Joaquin Buckley-Abdul Razak Alhassan winner
- Andre Muniz vs. Nassourdine Imavov
- Erin Blanchfield vs. Montana De La Rosa
- Ryan Hall vs. Damon Jackson
Here are the fights that were announced over the past week:
- Raoni Barcelos vs. Victor Henry — UFC Fight Night — December 18
- Raquel Pennington vs. Macy Chiasson — UFC Fight Night — December 18
- Caio Borralho vs. Jamie Pickett — UFC Fight Night — January 15
- TJ Brown vs. Gabriel Benitez — UFC Fight Night — January 15
- Diana Belbita vs. Gloria de Paula — UFC Fight Night — February 19
- Gregory Rodrigues vs. Armen Petrosyan — UFC Fight Night — February 26
- Muhammad Mokaev vs. Cody Durden — UFC Fight Night — March 19
- Makwan Amirkhani vs. Mike Grundy — UFC Fight Night — March 19
- Michelle Waterson vs. Amanda Ribas — UFC Fight Night — March 26
Coming Up This Week
Here are some of the notable MMA events coming up this week:
- UFC On ESPN+ 57 takes place on Saturday, December 18, from the UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada. The final UFC event of the year streams entirely on ESPN+, with the main card at 7:00 p.m. ET, and the prelims at 4:00 p.m. ET. Derrick Lewis vs. Chris Daukaus is the main event.
- Titan FC 73 takes place on Friday, December 17, from Miami, Florida, airing 7:00 p.m. ET on UFC Fight Pass.
- CFFC 104 takes place on Friday, December 17, from Atlantic City, New Jersey, airing at 7:00 p.m. ET on UFC Fight Pass.
- Fury FC 55 takes place on Sunday, December 19, from Houston, Texas, airing at 3:30 p.m. ET on UFC Fight Pass.
This week in MMA history
On December 13, 2008, one of the more fun seasons of The Ultimate Fighter wrapped up, as The Ultimate Fighter 8 Finale took place from the Pearl at The Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas, Nevada. It wrapped up season eight of the show, which was coached by Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and Frank Mir, and took place in front of 1,853 fans, scoring a gate of $405,000.
It wrapped up the tournaments in the lightweight and light heavyweight divisions. In the main event, which was the lightweight finals, Efrain Escudero scored a unanimous decision win over Phillipe Nover, who Dana White had hyped during the year as one of the next big UFC stars. In the light heavyweight finals, Ryan Bader scored a first-round knockout over Vinny Magalhaes. Bader would go on to be one of the most successful TUF winners in the sport, having a strong UFC career before moving over to Bellator, where he has won both the Bellator Light Heavyweight Championship and the Bellator Heavyweight Championship.
Also on the main card, Anthony Johnson scored a third-round knockout over Kevin Burns, Wilson Gouveia submitted Jason MacDonald in the first round, and Junie Browning scored a second-round submission of David Kaplan. Among the winners on the prelims included Tom Lawlor, Eliot Marshall, Shane Nelson and Krzysztof Soszynski.
You can watch The Ultimate Fighter 8 Finale on UFC Fight Pass here.
In The Clinch
This week on In The Clinch, myself and Paul Fontaine will recap UFC 269, look ahead to UFC On ESPN+ 57, take a look at all of the news and everything going on in MMA. You can listen to In The Clinch on The Fight Game Media Network, available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts and other major podcast platforms. Also, visit our Patreon page to sign up for additional shows, and to support us and allow us to bring you more content.