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Monday MMA Round-Up: Strickland nabs main event win at UFC on ESPN+ 58

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - FEBRUARY 05: Sean Strickland reacts after his split-decision victory over Jack Hermansson of Sweden in their middleweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on February 05, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/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. The UFC was back in action this week, so let’s dive right in to everything going on.

Looking back at UFC on ESPN+ 58

  • Sean Strickland scored an impressive win in the main event of UFC on ESPN+ 58 on Saturday, winning a split decision over Jack Hermansson. It shouldn’t have even been a split as he definitely won at least four rounds, but Sal D’Amato had a horrible scorecard. At least it didn’t cost Strickland the fight, though. It wasn’t the greatest main event as both fought a methodical approach with Strickland primarily focusing on landing his jab and Hermansson wasn’t able to get his grappling going. That makes it six straight wins for Strickland, with his last five coming at middleweight. He is right on the cusp of fighting for a title, and that realistically could be his next fight.
  • A name to keep an eye on at welterweight after Saturday night, if you haven’t already, is Shavkat Rakhmonov. He scored a fantastic first-round knockout of Carlston Harris, dropping him with a spinning wheel kick right to the side of the head and then knocked him out cold with a vicious right hand during the follow-up ground-and-pound. That moved Rakhmonov to 15-0 overall, 3-0 in the UFC, with all 15 wins coming by a finish. He could be right in the title mix before the end of the year.
  • The light heavyweight division is one that has always seemed in need of new, fresh blood recently, and it got that with the addition of Jailton Almeida. He made his debut on Saturday and had an absolute demolishing of Danilo Marques, taking him down and pounding away from the top until the finish. He is another fighter to keep an eye out on in the future.
  • If you did miss UFC on ESPN+ 58, go out of your way to watch the fight between Julian Erosa and Steven Peterson. It was an absolutely crazy fight, especially the last two rounds as the two just beat the crap out of each other. It’s another early contender for 2022’s Fight Of The Year.
  • I also want to give a shoutout to Chidi Njokuani. If you’ve read this column or listened to me on In The Clinch, you’d know I thought he should’ve just been signed to a UFC deal instead of having to earn one on Dana White’s Contender Series. He did his part on the show, and then followed it up with a 16-second knockout of Marc-Andre Barriault in his debut. It’s nice to see that, at 33-years-old and with almost 30 fights under his belt, Njokuani is getting this chance to show how good he’s always been to a larger audience.
  • The coaches for season 30 of The Ultimate Fighter were announced this past week, and as noted last week, they will be Julianna Pena and Amanda Nunes. The show is slated to start filming any day now, with the cast already announced. The most notable name on the cast of heavyweights and women’s flyweights is Mohammed Usman, the brother of UFC Welterweight Champion Kamaru Usman. The new season kicks off on May 3 on ESPN+, and Pena and Nunes will fight in the summer. I don’t think it will be on the UFC 276 card on July 2 as the show will still be airing, though it could be. UFC 277 in August seems to be a safer bet as to when the fight will take place.
  • There were rumors that Henry Cejudo had re-entered the USADA testing pool in relation to making a comeback to UFC action. They were fueled by Chael Sonnen, who claimed that Cejudo told him so while the two were doing commentary for the Eagle FC event. Cejudo has since denied that he’s in the testing pool, which he will need to be in for six months before he’s even eligible to fight again. Both of these guys often make claims that can be taken with grains of salt, so who knows who is actually telling the truth of the two. If Cejudo really does want to fight, he should be in the testing pool as quickly as possible.
  • Max Holloway has been cleared to return from his injury, and he’s going to be training just in case there is a back-up needed for the featherweight title fight between UFC Featherweight Champion Alexander Volkanovski and Chan Sung Jung. Jung did replace Holloway in the fight, and many were wondering why they didn’t wait for Holloway to get cleared if it was going to be so soon, but you have to remember the fight was originally slated for March before being pushed back a month, and, at the time of the change, they really didn’t know when Holloway would be cleared, so they went with the next best option. You can’t criticize the matchmaking for this one. Calvin Kattar also said he was going to be training just in case a back-up was needed.
  • Paul Daley announced that he will be fighting at the Bellator show in London on May 13, and that it will be the final fight of his career as he will hang up the gloves afterwards. No word on his opponent, but Daley has a had a long and successful career with lots of exciting fights and is one of the more exciting fighters Bellator has on their roster.
  • Former UFC title challenger Megan Anderson provided an update on her future since her UFC contract ended nearly a year ago and said she has no current plans to fight. She added that she’s enjoying streaming video games online, doing analyst work for Invicta FC and ESPN Australia, and that she’s filming a movie and that fighting just isn’t in her plans right now.

Playing matchmaker

Here are some fights I would make next for those who fought at UFC on ESPN+ 58 on Saturday:

  • Sean Strickland vs. Jared Cannonier-Derek Brunson loser
  • Jack Hermansson vs. Krzysztof Jotko
  • Nick Maximov vs. Bryan Battle
  • Shavkat Rakhmonov vs. Michel Pereira
  • Brendan Allen vs. Brad Tavares
  • Julian Erosa vs. Hakeem Dawodu
  • Chidi Njokuani vs. Dusko Todorovic
  • Jailton Almeida vs. Marcin Prachnio

Fight announcements

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

  • Gabriel Benitez vs. David Onama — UFC Fight Night — February 19
  • Nicolae Negumereanu vs. Kennedy Nzechukwu — UFC 272 — March 5
  • Jai Herbert vs. Mike Davis — UFC Fight Night — March 19
  • Aleksei Oleinik vs. Ilir Latifi — UFC Fight Night — March 26
  • Anthony Hernandez vs. Albert Duraev — UFC 273 — April 9
  • Melsik Baghdasaryan vs. TJ Laramie — UFC Fight Night — April 16
  • Dwight Grant vs. Sergey Khandozhko — UFC Fight Night — April 23
  • Yohan Lainesse vs. Gabe Green — UFC Fight Night — April 30
  • Blagoy Ivanov vs. Marcos Rogerio de Lima — UFC 274 — May 7
  • Kleydson Rodrigues vs. CJ Vergara — UFC 274 — May 7
  • Jamall Emmers vs. Daniel Pineda — UFC Fight Night — May 14
  • Frank Camacho vs. Manuel Torres — UFC Fight Night — May 14
  • Holly Holm vs. Ketlen Vieira — UFC Fight Night — May 21 (MAIN EVENT)
  • Alexander Gustafsson vs. Ben Rothwell — UFC Fight Night — May 21

Coming up this week

Here are some of the notable MMA events taking place this week:

  • UFC 271 takes place on Saturday, February 12 from the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas. The main card airs on ESPN+ pay-per-view at 10:00 p.m. ET, with the main prelims on ESPN at 8:00 p.m. ET and early prelims on ESPN+ at 6:00 p.m. ET. UFC Middleweight Champion Israel Adesanya defends against Robert Whittaker in the main event.
  • ONE Championship: Bad Blood takes place on Friday, February 11 from Singapore, China, airing at 5:00 a.m. ET on pay-per-view. ONE Featherweight Champion Bibiano Fernandes defends against John Lineker in the main event.
  • Showtime FC 1 takes place on Friday, February 11 from Lakeland, Florida, airing at 6:00 p.m. ET on UFC Fight Pass.
  • Fury FC 57 takes place on Friday, February 11 from Humble, Texas, airing at 8:00 p.m. ET on UFC Fight Pass.
  • LFA 124 takes place on Friday, February 11 from Phoenix, Arizona, airing at 10:00 p.m. ET on UFC Fight Pass.

This week in MMA history

Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix, 2011

On February 12, 2011, Strikeforce kicked off something new for the promotion as they embarked on the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix, which consisted of eight of the top heavyweight fighters they had on their roster at the time. The first two fights of the first round took place on this date from the Izod Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The event drew 11,287 fans and had an average of 741,000 viewers on Showtime, which was a Strikeforce record at the time.

In the main event, in a first-round match-up, Antonio ‘Bigfoot’ Silva put a beating on arguably the greatest heavyweight of all-time, Fedor Emelianenko, with the fight being stopped at the end of the second round by doctors, giving Silva the win. In the other first-round match-up, in the co-main event, Sergei Kharitonov would score a first-round knockout of Andrei Arlovski.

In other fights on the card, the late Shane Del Rosario submitted Lavar Johnson in the first round, Chad Griggs defeated Gian Villante via a first-round TKO and Valentijn Overeem won a first-round submission over Ray Sefo.

You can watch Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Bigfoot on UFC Fight Pass here.

In The Clinch

This week on In The Clinch, myself and Paul Fontaine will look back at UFC On ESPN+ 58, look ahead to the big UFC 271 event, talk all of the news of the week and much more. You can listen to In The Clinch on the Fight Game Media Network, which is available on all major podcast platforms including Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts and our Patreon page.

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