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 in the world of mixed martial arts, and look ahead to the weeks that are coming. It was a big week with a major UFC event, where an Undisputed UFC Heavyweight Champion was crowned, so let’s dive right in to everything going on.
UFC 270 reactions + more
- It’s going to be interesting times now for the UFC’s heavyweight division after Francis Ngannou became the undisputed UFC Heavyweight Champion with a unanimous decision win over Ciryl Gane in the main event of UFC 270 on Saturday. It was a lackluster fight during at least the first two rounds, then Ngannou made it interesting by using wrestling, something he’s never done, to come back and win the last three rounds to win the fight. He came into fight with a torn MCL and injured ACL, which happened around the first of the year during his camp, and it definitely changed his strategy and likely affected his power punches. Now comes the interesting part as to what happens with him and the UFC Heavyweight Championship as Ngannou’s contract has been extended until the end of the year, but he needs a new deal before he’ll fight again. I could see so many different things happen, but my personal hope is that they resolve their differences and come together and work out a new contract, even though as of this writing that seems unlikely.
- This column is part news and part personal opinion, so I’m going to get into a personal opinion portion of this. I think a bullet was dodged with Ciryl Gane losing, for the moment at least. Gane is a very, very, very good fighter who might actually be the best heavyweight in the world. However, his fights since the start of 2021 have been very lackluster and not all that exciting. The heavyweight title is supposed to be one of the elite titles in the promotion, and part of that is due to exciting fights. If he can go out and get some finishes instead of playing it cautious to go the distance, opinions would change, and I know I’m not the only one who feels this way.
- Alright Jon Jones, the ball is in your court. If you’re going to come back, now is the time.
- What an incredible fight between Deiveson Figueiredo and Brandon Moreno. Figueiredo got the decision in a close and exciting fight to become a two-time UFC Flyweight Champion. With that being the third fight between the two, that would normally mean it’s time to move on, especially considering every flyweight title fight since December 2020 has been between the two. However, with them being tied with each having won once and a draw, and with the excitement of all three fights, an immediate fourth fight between the two is really the next move.
- The rest of the card, even with it being a weaker card for a pay-per-view event and being hurt by lots of late changes and cancellations, ended up being a really fun show overall. Among the better performances on the card included wins by Michel Pereira, Said Nurmagomedov, Michael Morales, Jack Della Maddalena, Matt Frevola and Vanessa Demopoulos.
- If you missed the fight between Frevola and Genaro Valdez, that is a must-see fight from the UFC 270 prelims. It is one of the best three-minute fights you’ll ever see. Watch it immediately if you’re able to.
- UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Glover Teixeira’s first title defense is official, and, as I speculated when the event was first announced, it will be at UFC 274 on 5/7 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil against Jiri Prochazka. It was not officially announced whether this will be the main event. The only way it wouldn’t be is if they go ahead and book UFC Lightweight Champion Charles Oliveira against Justin Gaethje on the show, which is possible given Gaethje is open to fighting in Brazil, but that remains to be seen. It’s going to be a tough test for Teixeira for his first defense, but after the comeback he’s had at his age, you can’t count him out.
- The UFC’s return to London is now 100% official for March 19 as the company officially announced the event earlier this week. It also has a main event as Alexander Volkov will square off against Tom Aspinall in the five-round headline bout. Paddy Pimblett will also be on the card, fighting Kazula Vargas in a lightweight bout. Arnold Allen against Dan Hooker was also just announced early Monday morning before this was published.
- An interesting Bellator title fight was announced this week as Bellator Welterweight Champion Yaroslav Amosov will defend against Michael ‘Venom’ Page on 5/13 in London. It’s interesting in the sense that Page had openly talked about not wanting a title shot because of the champions’ clause in the contract should he win, as he’s interested in testing free agency when his contract is up. There hasn’t been anything new on that front as to whether he signed a new deal or is still planning on testing the free agency market, but this will be a situation to monitor in the coming weeks.
- Barring a last-minute big offer from the UFC, Kayla Harrison is going to re-sign with the PFL and continue to collect huge paychecks and rack up wins against lesser competition. You can’t really blame her, though. Also, Amanda Nunes leaving American Top Team to start her own camp had nothing to do with Harrison- it’s something that has interested Nunes for some time and is the start of her post-career path.
- Speaking of Nunes, UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion Julianna Pena said she expects the rematch to take place during the summer, and she said she doesn’t want the fight to take place in Brazil. You can scratch that fight off the list of potential fights at UFC 274 on 5/7 then.
- Chris Weidman is expected to return to action in the summer following his horrific leg break that took place at UFC 261 in April. He’s had some complications in recovery, but looks to be on the right track for returning.
- Dana White named his top four greatest UFC fighters of all-time: Jon Jones, Kamaru Usman, Georges St. Pierre and Anderson Silva.
Here are the fights I would make next for those who fought at UFC 270 on Saturday:
- Francis Ngannou (if he signs a new deal) vs. Jon Jones
- Ciryl Gane vs. Curtis Blaydes
- Deiveson Figueiredo vs. Brandon Moreno
- Michel Pereira vs. Daniel Rodriguez
- Said Nurmagomedov vs. Marlon Vera
- Michael Morales vs. Matthew Semelsberger
- Victor Henry vs. Rani Yahya
- Jack Della Maddalena vs. Nicolas Dalby
- Tony Gravely vs. Tony Kelley
- Matt Frevola vs. John Makdessi
- Vanessa Demopoulos vs. Ashley Yoder
- Jasmine Jasudavicius vs. Mayra Bueno Silva
Here are the fights that were announced over the past week:
- Jeremiah Wells vs. Mike Mathetha — UFC 271 — February 12
- Serghei Spivac vs. Greg Hardy — UFC 272 — March 5
- Nicolae Negumereanu vs. Ihor Potieria — UFC 272 — March 5
- Karl Roberson vs. Khalil Rountree — UFC Fight Night — March 12
- Alexander Volkov vs. Tom Aspinall — UFC Fight Night — March 19 (MAIN EVENT)
- Arnold Allen vs. Dan Hooker — UFC Fight Night — March 19
- Paddy Pimblett vs. Kazula Vargas — UFC Fight Night — March 19
- Shamil Abdurakhimov vs. Sergei Pavlovich — UFC Fight Night — March 19
- Neil Magny vs. Max Griffin — UFC Fight Night — March 26
- Ian Garry vs. Darian Weeks — UFC 273 — April 9
- Pat Sabatini vs. Gavin Tucker — UFC 273 — April 9
- Vinc Pichel vs. Mark Madsen — UFC 273 — April 9
- Jesse Ronson vs. Rafa Garcia — UFC Fight Night — April 16
- Miguel Baeza vs. Dhiego Lima — UFC Fight Night — April 16
- Chris Barnett vs. Martin Buday — UFC Fight Night — April 16
- Caio Borralho vs. Gadzhi Omargadzhiev — UFC Fight Night — April 16
- Jessica Andrade vs. Amanda Lemos — UFC Fight Night — April 23
- Maycee Barber vs. Montana De La Rosa — UFC Fight Night — April 23
- Gina Mazany vs. Shanna Young — UFC Fight Night — April 30
- Antonina Shevchenko vs. Cortney Casey — UFC Fight Night — April 30
- Daniel da Silva vs. Francisco Figueiredo — UFC Fight Night — April 30
- UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Glover Teixeira vs. Jiri Prochazka — UFC 274 — May 7
- Norma Dumont vs. Macy Chiasson — UFC 274 — May 7
- Bellator Welterweight Champion Yaroslav Amosov vs. Michael Page — Bellator — May 13
- Viviane Araujo vs. Andrea Lee — UFC Fight Night — May 14
Coming up this week
The UFC is taking the week off, but there are other promotions running, including Bellator, so here’s what’s on tap for this week:
- Eagle FC 44 takes place on Friday, January 28 from the FLX Arena in Miami, Florida. It airs on FLX Cast at 7:00 p.m. ET. It’s the debut of Khabib Nurmagomedov’s promotion in the United States. Sergei Kharitonov vs. Tyrone Spong is the main event, while UFC Hall Of Famer Rashad Evans makes his return to MMA on the card. Also on the card is UFC veterans Ray Borg, John Howard, Yorgan De Castro, Cody Gibson, and Anthony Njokuani.
- Bellator 273 takes place on Saturday, January 29 from the Footprint Center in Phoenix, Arizona. The main card airs at 10:00 p.m. ET on Showtime, with prelims airing on YouTube at 7:00 p.m. ET. Bellator Heavyweight Champion Ryan Bader vs. Interim Bellator Heavyweight Champion Valentin Moldavsky in a unification bout is the main event.
- CFFC 105 takes place on Saturday, January 29 from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, airing at 7:00 p.m. ET on UFC Fight Pass.
This week in MMA history
On January 28, 2012, the Octagon debuted inside one of their more now frequent venues when UFC visited the United Center in Chicago, Illinois for the very first time for their second main card event on FOX, UFC On FOX 2. It drew an attendance of 16,963 fans for a gate of $1.27 million. It also had 4.7 million viewers on FOX, peaking with six million viewers for the main event.
In the main event, Rashad Evans scored a dominant unanimous decision win over Phil Davis, winning on straight scorecards of 50-45. The win would set up Evans for a shot at re-gaining the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship against Jon Jones, his former teammate and now-heated rival. The two would fight at UFC 145 in April 2012, which Jones would win by unanimous decision.
In the co-main event, Chael Sonnen would score a unanimous decision over Michael Bisping. That win would lead to Sonnen’s highly anticipated rematch with Anderson Silva for the UFC Middleweight Championship. That took place at UFC 148 in July 2012 and saw Silva score a second-round TKO of Sonnen to retain the title.
In the third main card bout, Chris Weidman, on eleven days’ notice, would win a decision over Demian Maia. Among the winners on the prelims included Evan Dunham, Michael Johnson, Cub Swanson, Mike Russow and current UFC Lightweight Champion Charles Oliveira.
You can watch UFC On FOX 2 on UFC Fight Pass here.
In The Clinch
This week on In The Clinch, myself and Paul Fontaine will look back at more of the fallout of UFC 270. We will also look ahead to Eagle FC 44 and Bellator 273, talk all of the news and fight announcements of the week and much more. In The Clinch is available on the Fight Game Media Network, with all of the shows available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts and our Patreon Page.
We also have a bonus post-UFC 270 edition of In The Clinch available to listen to now, available exclusively on our Patreon page.