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. UFC and Bellator both held events this weekend, so let’s dive right in to all of the happenings.
Looking back at UFC & Bellator
- Jamahal Hill made his contender status known with a first-round knockout of Johnny Walker in the main event of Saturday’s UFC On ESPN+ 59 event. He landed some perfect punches that put Walker’s lights out cold, picking up his tenth career win and likely moving himself into the top ten of the light heavyweight rankings. Hill has lots of potential, and he has three first-round UFC finishes, so he’ll be in line for a tough fight next.
- All I have to say is this: Jim F’N Miller. Miller continues to turn in impressive showings at the age of 38, including on Saturday during his record 39th appearance inside the Octagon. He finished the debuting Nikolas Motta in the second round in a fight in which he was the underdog, which marked his 23rd UFC win, which ties Donald Cerrone for most all-time in UFC history. There is no doubt Miller will make his goal of fighting at UFC 300 in July 2024, but I’m seriously beginning to wonder if become the first, and possibly only, fighter to have 50 UFC fights isn’t out of the question.
- I want to give props to Chas Skelly, who won on Saturday, in what could be the final fight of his career, when he finished Mark Striegl in the second round with some punches on the ground after dropping him with a knee. Skelly has had a rough career the past several years, as freak injuries have kept him from competing, both on his end and to his opponents. He ends his career with a 19–3 record, and one no contest, including a solid 8–3 record during his UFC career. I don’t think he ever got the recognition for being a quality fighter that he deserved. He left the door open for fighting again if something interesting comes, but it’s very likely we saw him compete for the final time.
- Logan Storley scored an impressive decision win over Neiman Gracie in the main event of Bellator 274 on Saturday. It was a solid fight that Storley was the clear winner in, and it should move him in line to be the next challenger for the Bellator Welterweight Championship. Also scoring wins on the show were Andrey Koreshkov, Adam Piccolotti, and, in his first MMA fight in over four years, Brennan Ward.
- I talked in this column last week about how we, as fans, are ready to see Bobby Green compete in a UFC main event, and here, a week later, we are getting that, even if under the not most ideal situations. Green will be stepping up on ten days’ notice to fight Islam Makhachev in the main event of this upcoming weekend’s UFC event in Las Vegas. Makhachev has long been one of the most avoided fighters on UFC’s roster, and Green is stepping in, fresh off a win just over a week ago at UFC 271, like it’s no big deal at all. Makhachev is going to be a tough fight, but it would be quite some story if Green is somehow able to pull off one of the biggest upsets in a long time.
- Luke Rockhold has said he’s planning on returning to action somewhere around June, and has pointed at Paulo Costa as a potential opponent. That’s a fight that would make sense a whole lot. Rockhold is also interested in re-booking the fight against Sean Strickland, though that may be out of the picture right now.
- Two featherweight UFC bouts that have been talked about when it comes to potential bookings are a fight between Max Holloway and Josh Emmett, and a fight between Yair Rodriguez and Brian Ortega, according to Ariel Helwani on his Substack page. Holloway and Emmett were actually looked at as a possible main event for the Columbus card on 3/26 when they were needing a new main event, but it didn’t come together. It’s possible they could just wait until after the title fight between Alexander Volkanovski and Chan Sung Jung happens before they decide what to do with Holloway. As for the potential fight between Rodriguez and Ortega, expect that one to happen sometime in the summer.
- The whole saga as to why Cat Zingano is not fighting Cris Cyborg in her next fight for the Bellator Women’s Featherweight Championship, which was pretty much the plan until recent events, took another turn as Scott Coker said it was Zingano’s management team that turned down the fight against Cyborg. Zingano will fight Pam Sorenson at Bellator 276 on March 11 now instead. Cyborg also wasn’t going to be available for that date, and the situation with Cyborg is something to keep an eye on, as it’s been rumored she only has one or two fights left on her contract, and that her contract expires in the summer.
- I want to give kudos to whoever made the decision to move the fight between Donald Cerrone and Joe Lauzon to the UFC 274 card on May 7, which absolutely deserves to take place in front of fans instead of an empty UFC APEX, especially if it’s the last fight for either Cerrone or Lauzon, or perhaps for both.
- The UFC Fight Night events scheduled to take place in April, on April 16, April 23 and April 30, will all take place inside the UFC APEX in Las Vegas. It still remains to be seen when they’ll go full touring again after March, but it really does feel like time to start moving all these shows away from the Apex. It’s starting to become a dull fight environment, in my opinion.
Here are some fights I would make next for those who fought at UFC On ESPN+ 59 on Saturday:
- Jamahal Hill vs. Anthony Smith
- Johnny Walker vs. Marcin Prachnio
- Kyle Daukaus vs. Julian Marquez
- Parker Porter vs. Andrei Arlovski
- Jim Miller vs. Drew Dober-Ricky Glenn winner
- Joaquin Buckley vs. Gerald Meerschaert
- David Onama vs. Shane Young
- Stephanie Egger vs. Julia Avila
- Jonathan Pearce vs. Charles Jourdain
Here are the fights that were announced over the past week:
- Islam Makhachev vs. Bobby Green — UFC Fight Night — February 26 (MAIN EVENT)
- Josiane Nunes vs. Ramona Pascual — UFC Fight Night — February 26
- Ramiz Brahimaj vs. Michael Gillmore — UFC Fight Night — February 26
- Cat Zingano vs. Pam Sorenson — Bellator 276 — March 11
- Jai Herbert vs. Ilia Topuria — UFC Fight Night — March 19
- Danaa Batgerel vs. Chris Gutierrez — UFC Fight Night — March 26
- Bellator Featherweight Champion AJ McKee vs. Patricio Pitbull — Bellator 277 — April 15 (MAIN EVENT)
- Bellator Light Heavyweight Champion Vadim Nemkov vs. Corey Anderson — Bellator 277 — April 15
- Aaron Pico vs. Jeremy Kennedy — Bellator 277 — April 15
- Mayra Bueno Silva vs. Wu Yanan — UFC Fight Night — April 16
- Jordan Leavitt vs. Victor Martinez — UFC Fight Night — April 16
- Tatsuro Taira vs. Carlos Candelario — UFC Fight Night — April 30
- Darren Elkins vs. Tristan Connelly — UFC Fight Night — April 30
- Donald Cerrone vs. Joe Lauzon — UFC 274 — May 7
Coming up this week
Here are some of the notable MMA events taking place this upcoming week:
- UFC On ESPN+ 60 takes place on Saturday, February 26, from the UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada. The entire card streams on ESPN+, with the main card at 7:00 p.m. ET and the preliminary card at 4:00 p.m. ET. Islam Makhachev vs. Bobby Green is the main event.
- Bellator 275 takes place on Friday, February 25, from the 3Arena in Dublin, Ireland. The main card airs on Showtime at 5:00 p.m. ET, with the preliminary card airing on YouTube at 2 p.m. ET. Bellator Middleweight Champion Gegard Mousasi defends against Austin Vanderford in the main event.
- PFL Challenger Series 2 takes place on Friday, February 25, from Orlando, Florida, airing at 9:00 p.m. ET on fuboTV.
- LFA 125 takes place on Friday, February 25, from Niagara Falls, New York, airing at 9:00 p.m. ET on UFC Fight Pass.
- Fury FC 58 takes place on Sunday, February 27, from Dallas, Texas, airing at 3:30 p.m. ET on UFC Fight Pass.
This week in MMA history
February 23, 2013 marked one of the more important days in UFC history, and MMA in general, when the very first women’s bout in UFC history took place in one of the most important events in UFC history, and it was even put in the pivotal main event position. It all took place at UFC 157 from the Honda Center in Anaheim, California. The show drew 13,257 fans for a gate of $1.35 million and 450,000 buys on pay-per-view.
In the main event, UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion Ronda Rousey submitted Liz Carmouche with her signature armbar in the first round. It was Rousey’s UFC debut. She was the final Strikeforce Women’s Bantamweight Champion, and when the merger between UFC and Strikeforce took place, she was named as the first UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion in December 2012. This marked her debut title defense and was the start of one of the run where Rousey became one of the biggest draws in UFC history.
In the co-main event, Lyoto Machida defeated Dan Henderson by split decision in a close fight. Other main card fights saw Urijah Faber submit Ivan Menjivar in the first round, Court McGee won a unanimous decision over Josh Neer, and future UFC Welterweight Champion, Robbie Lawler, in his UFC return, scoring a first-round knockout of Josh Koscheck. Among the winners on the preliminary card included Brendan Schaub, Michael Chiesa, Dennis Bermudez, and Neil Magny.
You can watch UFC 157 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+ 59 and Bellator 274. We will also look ahead to this week’s UFC On ESPN+ 60 and Bellator 275 events. We will also talk all of the news of the week and much more. In The Clinch is part of The Fight Game Media Network of podcasts, which are available on all podcast platforms, including Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts and our Patreon page.