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 MMA. It was another week of no fights happening, but that changes this upcoming week, plus there was lots of news over the past week, so let’s dive right in.
- Just as quickly as it was announced, the planned UFC 272 main event bout on 3/5 between UFC Featherweight Champion Alexander Volkanovski and Max Holloway was called off as Holloway is still recovering from a lingering injury. The list of those who offered to step in was quite lengthy, with Henry Cejudo, Chan Sung Jung, Josh Emmett, Yair Rodriguez and Giga Chikadze all throwing their names into the mix. Volkanovski’s preferred opponent is “The Korean Zombie”, Jung, and that looks to be the front-runner for the new title fight. It’s possible they wait until after this upcoming weekend’s main event between Chikadze and Calvin Kattar. If Chikadze wins, he’d definitely be deserving of a title shot, but that would also be asking him to do a quick turnaround. The shot going to Jung would be the bigger fight, though, and there’s been lots of demand for Jung to get a title shot. Now feels like the perfect opportunity for the fight, so we’ll see what happens. In the words of Holloway, it is what it is.
- In the second of two title fights happening at UFC 272 on 3/5, it’ll be the long-awaited rematch between UFC Bantamweight Champion Aljamain Sterling and Interim UFC Bantamweight Champion Petr Yan. It’ll come nearly a year to the day of their first fight, which saw Yan get disqualified, which led to Sterling becoming the new champion. Sterling appears to have been officially cleared to return, which stopped the two from fighting in October, where Yan became the interim champion with a win over Cory Sandhagen. I tend to favor Yan in this one, but it’s also Sterling’s chance for revenge and for him to prove he’s the rightful champion.
- There is finally a main event for the 2/19 UFC Fight Night show, as it will be a battle to determine who the best Rafael is in the lightweight division, as Rafael Dos Anjos will take on Rafael Fiziev in the headline bout. This is a big test for Fiziev, who has been looking very impressive, and is a quick bounce back as he just fought a month ago. This came together when Tony Ferguson didn’t want to fight Dos Anjos, but is a great main event regardless.
- Speaking of Ferguson, he was teasing about a week ago that he had signed for a fight, and Dana White did mention weeks ago that they had something lined up for Ferguson. Most were expecting the rematch with Dos Anjos, but then it became clear thru social media that it wasn’t happening. Ferguson has been calling for a fight against Michael Chandler, and he’s been called out numerous times by Gregor Gillespie, with Gillespie even saying that Ferguson turned down a fight against him. We’ll see what happens, but I have a feeling we’re going to hear something soon.
- Literally days after saying he didn’t want to fight again in his hometown of Houston due to the pressure he feels, Derrick Lewis agreed to fight Tai Tuivasa at UFC 271 on 2/12 in Houston. This has the makings of everything you could want in a heavyweight fight, and is an exciting addition to a card that needed a boost. It was the fight I called for after Lewis won against Chris Daukaus, and it just makes all the sense in the world.
- With the fight between Lewis and Tuivasa being made for UFC 271, that takes the proposed fight between Dustin Poirier and Nate Diaz off the table, at least for that event. Poirier had agreed to a short-notice fight against Diaz at UFC 271, but it didn’t come to fruition. It’s a fight that has its’ status change literally every hour, and it remains to be seen whether it will actually happen.
- Miesha Tate has been teasing the idea of moving down to 125 lbs., though she has yet to make an official decision. She has said that part of the reason is due to her friendship with new UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion Julianna Pena, as she doesn’t see a scenario where the two would fight. She is also interested in fighting Valentina Shevchenko and thinks the division could use some spicing up.
- Tatiana Suarez is targeting a return to action from her knee injury during the summer. She hasn’t fought since UFC 238 in June 2019, as neck injuries kept her out of action. She was scheduled to return at UFC 266 in September until suffering a very bad knee injury, as she called it.
- It was announced this past week that the prices of UFC pay-per-view events would be going up $5, to $74.99 overall. I can’t say I’m surprised, but I am a bit shocked that they did this so soon after the last increase, which was just a year ago. I do remember a lot of talk about it at the time, but UFC went on to have their biggest year ever on pay-per-view, so it didn’t matter in the end. In the end, I don’t think this increase will matter in the long run. This does seem to be an ESPN call, as, unless things have changed, UFC still gets the same cut regardless of price. Of course, and it goes without saying, but this increase should always lead to fighters getting paid more, but we know the story there.
- It does appear that UFC Fight Night events will continue to take place at the UFC APEX despite the announced return of some of those events to full buildings. Though not official, the word is the 4/16 UFC Fight Night event will take place there. Without the ability to consistently go to international markets, I don’t the the company wants to burn through the American markets, so running some events at the UFC APEX isn’t a surprise.
- Fedor Emelianenko has publicly stated that he wants his final fight to be against Ryan Bader and for the Bellator Heavyweight Championship. If anyone in the sport deserves to go out in a title fight, it’s Fedor.
- Joanna Jedrzejczyk says she will return to action this year, and relatively soon she added. She said she wants to fight Zhang Weili in a rematch of their classic title fight. She did claim that she was offered the winner of the upcoming title fight between Rose Namajunas and Carla Esparza, but favors a fight with Weili instead. I don’t buy that for a second.
- Paulo Costa’s manager, Wallid Ismail, said that Costa would be returning to middleweight for his next fight. Hopefully he takes it seriously this time and actually commits to making the weight.
Here are the fights that were announced over the past week:
- Tim Means vs. Jeremiah Wells — UFC Fight Night — February 5
- Derrick Lewis vs. Tai Tuivasa — UFC 271 — February 12
- Nasrat Haqparast vs. Bobby Green — UFC 271 — February 12
- Rafael Dos Anjos vs. Rafael Fiziev — UFC Fight Night — February 19 (MAIN EVENT)
- Johnny Walker vs. Jamahal Hill — UFC Fight Night — February 19
- Jim Miller vs. Nikolas Motta — UFC Fight Night — February 19
- Jairzinho Rozenstruik vs. Marcin Tybura — UFC Fight Night — February 26
- UFC Bantamweight Champion Aljamain Sterling vs. Interim UFC Bantamweight Champion Petr Yan — UFC 272 — March 5
- Jalin Turner vs. Jamie Mullarkey — UFC 272 — March 5
- Sodiq Yusuff vs. Alex Caceres — UFC Fight Night — March 12
- Tafon Nchukwi vs. Azamat Murzakanov — UFC Fight Night — March 12
- Drew Dober vs. Ricky Glenn — UFC Fight Night — March 12
- Ariane Lipski vs. JJ Aldrich — UFC Fight Night — March 12
- Cory McKenna vs. Elise Reed — UFC Fight Night — March 19
- Matt Brown vs. Bryan Barberena — UFC Fight Night — March 26
- Montel Jackson vs. Batgerel Danaa — UFC Fight Night — March 26
Coming up this week
Here are some of the major MMA events taking place this week:
- UFC On ESPN 32 takes place on Saturday, January 15, from the UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada. The entire card airs on ESPN, as well as streaming on ESPN+, with the main card at 7:00 p.m. ET, and the prelims at 4:00 p.m. ET. Calvin Kattar takes on Giga Chikadze in the main event.
- Invicta FC 45 takes place on Wednesday, January 12, from Kansas City, Kansas, airing on MMA Junkie’s YouTube page at 8:00 p.m. ET.
- LFA 121 takes place on Friday, January 14, from Dallas, Texas, airing on UFC Fight Pass at 9:00 p.m. ET.
This Week in MMA History
January 13, 2013 is a bittersweet day for fans of the Strikeforce promotion, as it is the day that marked the very final event in the promotion’s history. It took place from the Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. It came almost two years after Zuffa, parent company of UFC, bought the promotion, and marked the official merger of Strikeforce’s roster into UFC’s roster.
It all ended with a title change in the main event as Tarec Saffiedine scored a unanimous decision over Nate Marquardt to become the final Strikeforce Welterweight Champion, and is the answer to the trivia question of who won the final Strikeforce fight. The rest of the card featured a lot of fighters who would become UFC mainstays, including a future two-division UFC champion, and another who would fight for a title.
The rest of the main card saw Daniel Cormier score a second-round TKO over Dion Staring, Josh Barnett submitting Nandor Guelmino in the first round, Gegard Mousasi scoring a first-round submission of Mike Kyle, and Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza submitting Ed Herman in the first round. Among the prelim results were Ryan Couture winning a decision over KJ Noons, Tim Kennedy submitting Trevor Smith in the third round, and Roger Gracie submitting Anthony Smith in the second round.
You can watch Strikeforce: Marquardt vs. Saffiedine on UFC Fight Pass here.
In The Clinch
This week on In The Clinch, myself and Paul Fontaine will continue our In The Clinch 2022 Global MMA Draft with at least our fourth round, and possibly our fifth round of picks. We will also look ahead to UFC On ESPN 32 and look at all of the crazy news of the past week. You can listen to In The Clinch on The Fight Game Media Network of podcasts, which are available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, and our Patreon page.
We will also have a special bonus edition of In The Clinch immediately following UFC 270 on January 22, which will be exclusively available on our Patreon page.