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Monday MMA Round-Up: Adesanya retains at UFC 271

HOUSTON, TEXAS - FEBRUARY 12: Israel Adesanya of Nigeria reacts after defeating Robert Whittaker of Australia by unanimous decision in their UFC middleweight championship fight during the UFC 271 event at Toyota Center on February 12, 2022 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC)

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. It was a big weekend with UFC 271 taking place, which Paul Fontaine and I covered on an In The Clinch bonus show on the Patreon, so let’s dive right into everything going on.

Looking Back at UFC 271

  • Israel Adesanya retained the UFC Middleweight Championship in the main event of UFC 271 on Saturday, scoring an unanimous decision over Robert Whittaker. I thought it was a clear win for Adesanya as I scored it 49–46 for him, but Whittaker made it really competitive over the final four rounds. Ultimately, Whittaker was unable to keep Adesanya down with the takedowns, and Adesanya was better on the feet throughout the fight, which was the difference. It’s the fifth title defense for Adesanya, who is looking at fresh challenges in the future. He said he wants to fight again in June, which I’m sure will happen.
  • It also marked the first fight on a new contract that Adesanya signed with UFC. As always, terms were not disclosed, but word is his new deal makes him the second-highest paid fighter on the roster behind Conor McGregor. Adesanya was talking post-fight about wanting his new contract to create a trickle down effect to the rest of the fighters and how UFC fighters shouldn’t have to have second or third jobs and hopes that this begins a new era. There is always lots of talk about fighter pay, and until there’s proof that it’s actually getting better, the jury will still be out on that.
  • Whittaker did say after the fight that he thought he did enough to win the fight. He admitted that Adesanya is a very good fighter, and likely the best in the sport, but he did feel he did enough to win. Unfortunately, when it comes to winning fights, and especially winning title fights, it’s hard to win when you only feel like you did enough to win. You have to make it convincingly, and he didn’t do that. He’s still probably the second-best middleweight in the world, but it is hard to see him getting another crack at Adesanya barring it just getting to a point where a third fight is the best, and only, option.
  • Tai Tuivasa had an incredible night as he knocked Derrick Lewis out cold with a vicious elbow in the second round, and followed it by doing multiple “Shoeys” afterwards. He was even able to get Dana White to do one following White’s appearance at the post-fight press conference. It marked Tuivasa’s sixth straight win, all coming by knockout, and he has shown fantastic improvement and is a much different, and much better, fighter than he was when he was in the midst of a three-fight losing skid. He should be in a main event slot for his next fight, which could put him just one win away from getting a heavyweight title shot.
  • Jared Cannonier made a statement as he finished Derek Brunson in brutal fashion in the second round with some hard elbows on the ground that knocked Brunson out cold. It was quite the comeback for Cannonier, who was locked into a tight guillotine choke at the end of the first and was likely only saved by the bell. He came back strong in the second and hurt Brunson badly to the point that Brunson’s corner threw in the towel at the same time the fight was being stopped. He also took advantage of his post-fight interview time, telling Dana White that he’s next for a title shot, and no one else but him is going to get it. White seemed to commit to it at the post-fight press conference. That should be a fun fight between Adesanya and Cannonier.
  • The other two main card winners, Renato Moicano and Bobby Green, had impressive showings. Moicano submitted Alexander Hernandez in the second round, while Green scored a decision win over Nasrat Haqparast. Both men cut good post-fight promos as well. Green is one of the veterans of the sport who has gotten better during the pandemic, and he should be awarded with a main event slot on a Fight Night card sometime as he’s definitely earned it.
  • The prelims were great as well, with some great showings by Casey O’Neill, Kyler Phillips, Ronnie Lawrence, Douglas Silva de Andrade and Jeremiah Wells. O’Neill spoiled the retirement of Roxanne Modafferi, and definitely played the role of the villain during and after the fight, but she showed she has tons of potential to be a future title challenger. If you missed UFC 271, it was a great show overall.
  • The big story of the weekend was the Joe Rogan situation. Rogan has been under a lot of fire recently due to his podcast, The Joe Rogan Experience, and he’s been in the news for a lot of reasons, including having to make apologies for past behaviors. He ended up not working at UFC 271, which was said to be due to a scheduling conflict. It came out after the show that there was no scheduling conflict, but that Rogan decided to not work the show. It could’ve been his decision, or the decision of ESPN, as we’ll likely never know for sure, but whoever made the call, it was probably the right thing to do at the moment. He is expected to be back at UFC 272 on 3/5.
  • Dana White made mention this week that he recently had dinner with UFC Heavyweight Champion Francis Ngannou, and that they are planning to meet again once Ngannou returns from a trip to Cameroon. White seemed pleased when he was talking about Ngannou, which seems to indicate that talks are progressing for him to sign a new deal. Israel Adesanya specifically mentioned his new contract hopefully being one of the keys to Ngannou getting a new deal done. This will be something to monitor over the coming weeks/month.
  • Dustin Poirier was at UFC 271 on Saturday and spoke to the media saying that he expects the fight between him and Nate Diaz to take place in the summer. Diaz remains the hold-up as they want Diaz to sign a new contract while Diaz came out this weekend saying he wants the fight ASAP and that it would be his retirement fight. No one believes that Diaz is retiring, and the UFC doesn’t want to let him go, so we will see what happens. Poirier did officially close the door on a fourth fight with Conor McGregor, saying he won’t take that fight and that it doesn’t interest him.
  • This upcoming week’s UFC card on Saturday took a major hit this past week as the main event between Rafael Dos Anjos and Rafael Fiziev was pulled from the card. Fiziev has been having issues getting his visa approved, and it wasn’t going to be approved in time for this weekend, but it will be in time for the two to fight at UFC 272 on 3/5 as the fight was moved to the co-main event slot of that card, and will remain at five rounds.

Playing matchmaker

Here are the fights I would make next for those who fought at UFC 271 on Saturday:

  • Israel Adesanya vs. Jared Cannonier
  • Robert Whittaker vs. Marvin Vettori
  • Tai Tuivasa vs. Ciryl Gane
  • Derrick Lewis vs. Augusto Sakai
  • Derek Brunson vs. Paulo Costa
  • Renato Moicano vs. Mateusz Gamrot
  • Bobby Green vs. Brad Riddell
  • Andrei Arlovski vs. Aleksei Oleinik-Ilir Latifi winner
  • Casey O’Neill vs. Jessica Eye-Manon Fiorot winner
  • Kyler Phillips vs. Ricky Simon

Fight announcements

Here are the fights that were announced over the past week:

  • Kyle Daukaus vs. Jamie Pickett — UFC Fight Night — February 19
  • Jonathan Pearce vs. Christian Rodriguez — UFC Fight Night — February 19
  • Rafael Dos Anjos vs. Rafael Fiziev — UFC 272 — March 5
  • Umar Nurmagomedov vs. Brian Kelleher — UFC 272 — March 5
  • Curtis Blaydes vs. Chris Daukaus — UFC Fight Night — March 26 (MAIN EVENT)
  • Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos vs. Mounir Lazzez — UFC Fight Night — April 16
  • Jessica Penne vs. Luana Pinheiro — UFC Fight Night — April 30
  • Jared Gordon vs. Rafael Alves — UFC Fight Night — April 30
  • Yoel Romero vs. Melvin Manhoef — Bellator Paris — May 6
  • Angela Hill vs. Virna Jandiroba — UFC Fight Night — May 14
  • Dan Ige vs. Movsar Evloev — UFC Fight Night — June 4
  • Poliana Botelho vs. Karine Silva — UFC Fight Night — June 4

Here are the notable MMA events taking place this week:

  • UFC On ESPN+ 59 takes place on Saturday, February 19 from the UFC APEX in Las Vegas. The entire card streams on ESPN+, with the main card at 7:00 p.m. ET and the prelims at 4:00 p.m. ET. Johnny Walker vs. Jamahal Hill is the main event.
  • Bellator 274 takes place on Saturday, February 19 from the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. The main card airs at 10:00 p.m. ET on Showtime, with prelims airing on YouTube at 6:00 p.m. ET. Neiman Gracie vs. Logan Storley is the main event.
  • PFL Challenger Series 1 takes place on Friday, February 19 from Orlando, Florida, airing at 9:00 p.m. ET on fuboTV.

This week in MMA history

Diego Sanchez at UFC on FUEL TV, 2012

On February 15, 2012, as part of the new television deal between UFC and FOX, the first-ever UFC event to take place on FUEL TV went down as UFC On FUEL TV 1 took place from the Omaha Civic Auditorium in Omaha, Nebraska. The show drew 6,283 fans for a gate of $405,895.

In the main event, a crazy bout took place as Diego Sanchez scored an unanimous decision over Jake Ellenberger on straight 29–28 scorecards. It started off crazy with Sanchez walking out carrying a cross, and the two had a fantastic brawl over the three rounds. It was one of the last main events to only be contested at three rounds.

In the co-main event, Stefan Struve scored a second-round TKO win over Dave Herman in a fight where Herman showed up looking homeless with a long beard and body hair all over him. The card also had two future champions and potential future UFC Hall Of Fame members as Stipe Miocic scored a 43-second knockout of Phil De Fries, and TJ Dillashaw scored a unanimous decision over Walel Watson.

You can watch UFC On FUEL TV 1 on UFC Fight Pass here.

In The Clinch

We have two episodes of In The Clinch this week. We will be doing our normal Monday show that comes out on Tuesday featuring all of the final fallout of UFC 271, a look ahead to UFC On ESPN+ 59 and Bellator 271, a look at all of the news and much more. You can listen to In The Clinch on The Fight Game Media Network with our network of podcasts available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts and our Patreon page.

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