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 busy weekend with UFC and Bellator events, and this upcoming week will be just as busy, so let’s dive right in.
UFC & Bellator recaps
- AJ McKee’s future sure changed in an instant on Friday night as Patricio Pitbull became the new Bellator Featherweight Champion by scoring a unanimous decision in the main event of Bellator 277. McKee came in as an undefeated champion, but perhaps an undefeated champion that was looking more toward the future while ignoring the present. McKee talked about his contract status during the week, was talking about UFC Featherweight Champion Alexander Volkanovski before and during the week, and his UFC aspirations were pretty clear during the week as well. McKee was under the champions clause portion of his contract, as he and Bellator hadn’t come to terms on a new deal, but because he was a champion, his contract automatically was extended three fights when he won the title and his contract expired. With him losing the title, it’s unknown whether he now becomes a free agent or if he has two fights left for Bellator, and neither he nor Scott Coker could answer that question. Whatever his future may be, the loss hurts his negotiating status. His value is now less with the loss and no longer being a champion, and I doubt he was going to get the $250,000 per fight he was wanting from the UFC to begin with, but he definitely won’t be getting that now. It remains to be seen what his future is, but I do think he will eventually make his way to the UFC.
- With the win over McKee, Patricio Pitbull became a three-time Bellator Featherweight Champion, firmly establishing himself as the promotion’s best featherweight of all-time, and perhaps the promotion’s best fighter of all-time. It was a great rebound for him after being finished by McKee in July, and now he gets to add to his legacy with the promotion as there are plenty of potential challengers for him in the division.
- Bellator’s Light Heavyweight Grand Prix didn’t get the definitive ending on Friday as Bellator Light Heavyweight Champion Vadim Nemkov and Corey Anderson had a no-contest due to an accidental clash of heads near the end of the third round. Anderson was dominating the fight and looked to be on the way to winning, but they clashed heads on the ground while Anderson was dominant from the top, busting open a cut on Nemkov that was bad enough for the fight to be stopped. Because there hadn’t been three completed rounds, it was ruled a no contest. Had the fight gone five more seconds and this had happened in the fourth, Anderson would’ve won a technical decision, become the champion and won the $1 million prize. They will be having a rematch later in 2022.
- Saturday’s UFC on ESPN 34 event saw Belal Muhammad score a unanimous decision win over Vicente Luque in the main event. It was a competitive fight that saw Muhammad’s wrestling control the majority of the fight. It wasn’t the most exciting main event, but far from the worst either. It is Muhammad’s eighth straight fight without a loss, and he should be right in the mix for a big opponent next. He called out Colby Covington, a fight he’s wanted for years, and, if for some reason, the proposed fight between Covington and Khamzat Chimaev doesn’t take place, I could see Muhammad fighting either one next.
- The rest of Saturday’s UFC show was a real mixed bag, and it felt like a show that was a chore to get through. There were some good finishes coming from the likes of Andre Fialho, Devin Clark, Drakkar Klose, Rafa Garcia and Alatengheili. However, a lot of the fights went the distance and were on the dull side and it felt like the show went forever. It was definitely one of the weaker recent UFC events, and, honestly, being inside the UFC Apex didn’t help. There was people inside the building, but they were quiet all night aside from just a few instances, and it was a whole different environment from the last several shows that came in front of full crowds. It’s not a positive environment, either.
- A rarity in MMA transpired during Saturday’s UFC show. In fact, it happened twice. There were two technical decisions on the show as unintentional fouls late in the third transpired in two fights, which led to stoppages and the fights going to the scorecards. It first happened in the fight between Martin Buday and Chris Barnett, where Buday landed a downward elbow to the back of the head of Barnett. It then happened in the co-main event between Caio Borralho and Gadzhi Omargadzhiev, where Borralho landed a knee while Omargadzhiev had a hand down. First of all, in the Borralho case, that’s a horrible rule that needs to be abolished- it should be where only a knee has to be on the mat. In Buday’s case, you could argue that Barnett turned his head. Neither looked intentional, despite what some people like to believe, so I feel the right calls were made, though there does need to be much clearer decisions made as to what instances call for disqualifications or not.
- A lot of people wanted to bring up the disqualification in the Petr Yan and Aljamain Sterling finish from last year when talking about both situations on Saturday, especially the Borralho finish. In both cases on Saturday, both fell in the little gray area that is there. In the Sterling/Yan situation, Sterling’s knee was clearly down, Yan saw it was clearly down, yet he still threw and landed the knee. That was clearly intentional, and he deserved to be disqualified. The same thing happened about two months later with an upkick in a fight between Luana Pinheiro and Randa Markos where Pinheiro’s knee was clearly down. Ultimately, the referee is the one who makes the decision on the disqualification, and Dan Miragliotta could’ve easily disqualified both Buday and Borralho since he was the referee in both fights. He’s also an old-school referee who never does that, while others would, so it’s really a situation where referees are the ones who need to be held accountable in these moments.
- I have changed my opinion on open scoring and believe it needs to be implemented. There were a few cases this weekend where corners told their fighters they were either up or the fight was tied where that clearly wasn’t the case. Antonio McKee told his son, AJ, that he was up 4–0 on Pitbull, which clearly was wrong. TJ Laramie was told after the second that it was 1-1 by his corner, but all three judges had it 2-0 for Pat Sabatini after two in that fight, including a 10–8 second on all three cards. Vicente Luque was told that it was 2-2 headed into the fifth by his corner, but Muhammad was up 3-1 on two scorecards after four rounds. It’s getting bad seeing corners give fighters incorrect information because a lot of these coaches and corners are bad at scoring fights themselves, and it’s actively hurting their fighters. It’s time for open scoring so that fighters and corners have all of the right and correct information so the fighters can be properly informed and the coaches can properly coach.
- I’m not advocating for Dominick Cruz to be removed from UFC commentary, but he said one of the dumbest things I’ve ever heard said in this sport, and definitely not something a commentator should say. He said something bad during the fight between Martin Buday and Chris Barnett, during the round break while Barnett was talking to his corner. Cruz’ comments were that it’s not the corner’s job to protect their fighter, it’s the corner’s job to get the fighter back out there. That is one of the most idiotic things to ever be said, and Cruz looks really bad in saying that.
- Dana White said he is hoping to make a fight between Jon Jones and Stipe Miocic for the Interim UFC Heavyweight Championship at UFC 276 on July 2 in Las Vegas. Miocic has been offered the fight, but it is unknown if he’s accepted or not. Jones has yet to be offered it, but if Miocic accepts, I’m sure that’s when they’ll start negotiating with Jones. That is the fight to make for an interim title, and it would be a worthy main event for International Fight Week. White did note that he’s very excited for the summer schedule of fights they have planned and/or booked.
- UFC’s return to the United Kingdom appears to have a date and location set, as it is currently planned to be July 23 in Liverpool, England.
- Marlon Moraes announced his retirement this week, ending his career with a 23–10–1 record. He was a one-time UFC title challenger and a former WSOF Bantamweight Champion. His career ends on a bad note, with four straight losses, all by knockout, to end his career. He holds wins over Jose Aldo, Aljamain Sterling, Miguel Torres, Raphael Assuncao and Jimmie Rivera in his career.
Here are the fights I would make next for those who fought at UFC on ESPN 34 on Saturday:
- Belal Muhammad vs. Colby Covington
- Vicente Luque vs. Sean Brady
- Caio Borralho vs. Cody Brundage
- Andre Fialho vs. Philip Rowe
- Mayra Bueno Silva vs. Pannie Kianzad
- Pat Sabatini vs. Jonathan Pearce
- Mounir Lazzez vs. Lyman Good
- Devin Clark vs. Tyson Pedro-Ike Villanueva winner
- Drakkar Klose vs. Mark Madsen
- Martin Buday vs. Don’Tale Mayes
Here are the fights that were announced over the past week:
- Jordan Wright vs. Marc-Andre Barriault — UFC Fight Night — April 23
- Jonathan Martinez vs. Vince Morales — UFC Fight Night — May 21
- Alexander Volkov vs. Jairzinho Rozenstruik — UFC Fight Night — June 4 (MAIN EVENT)
- Erin Blanchfield vs. JJ Aldrich — UFC Fight Night — June 4
- Mike Trizano vs. Lucas Almeida — UFC Fight Night — June 4
- Joselyne Edwards vs. Ramona Pascual — UFC 275 — June 11
- Orion Cosce vs. Blood Diamond — UFC 275 — June 11
- Gloria de Paula vs. Maria Oliveira — UFC Fight Night — June 18
- Cody Durden vs. JP Buys — UFC Fight Night — June 18
- Jasmine Jasudavicius vs. Natalia Silva — UFC Fight Night — June 18
- Damir Ismagulov vs. Guram Kutateladze — UFC Fight Night — June 18
- Cody Stamann vs. Eddie Wineland — UFC Fight Night — June 18
- Julian Marquez vs. Gregory Rodrigues — UFC Fight Night — June 18
- Neil Magny vs. Shavkat Rakhmonov — UFC Fight Night — June 25
- Chris Curtis vs. Rodolfo Vieira — UFC Fight Night — June 25
- Tagir Ulanbekov vs. Tyson Nam — UFC Fight Night — June 25
- Raulian Paiva vs. Sergey Morozov — UFC Fight Night — June 25
- Thiago Moises vs. Christos Giagos — UFC Fight Night — June 25
- TJ Brown vs. Shayilan Nuerdanbieke — UFC Fight Night — June 25
- Cynthia Calvillo vs. Nina Nunes — UFC Fight Night — July 9
- Antonina Shevchenko vs. Cortney Casey — UFC Fight Night — July 9
- Alex Perez vs. Askar Askarov — UFC Fight Night — July 16
- Dustin Jacoby vs. Da Un Jung — UFC Fight Night — July 16
Coming up this week
Here are the notable MMA events taking place this week:
- UFC on ESPN+ 63 takes place on Saturday, April 23, from the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada. The entire card streams on ESPN+, with the main card taking place at 9 p.m. ET, and the prelims taking place at 6:00 p.m. ET. Amanda Lemos takes on Jessica Andrade in the main event.
- PFL 2022 #1 takes place on Wednesday, April 20, from the Esports Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The main card airs on ESPN & ESPN+ at 9:00 p.m. ET, and the prelims air on ESPN+ at 5:30 p.m. ET. Clay Collard vs. Jeremy Stephens is the main event.
- Bellator 278 takes place on Friday, April 22, from the Blaisdell Center in Honolulu, Hawaii. The main card airs on Showtime at 10 p.m. ET, with prelims airing on YouTube at 8:00 p.m. ET. Bellator Women’s Flyweight Champion Juliana Velasquez defends against Liz Carmouche in the main event.
- LFA 130 takes place on Friday, April 22, from New Town, North Dakota, airing at 9:00 p.m. ET on UFC Fight Pass.
- Bellator 279 takes place on Saturday, April 23, from the Blaisdell Center in Honolulu, Hawaii. The main card airs on Showtime at 10:30 p.m. ET, with prelims airing on YouTube at 8:00 p.m. ET. Bellator Women’s Featherweight Champion Cris Cyborg defends against Arlene Blencowe in the main event.
- Fury FC 60 takes place on Sunday, April 24, from Houston, Texas, airing at 2:30 p.m. ET on UFC Fight Pass.
This week in MMA history
On April 24, 2010, the first, and only, pay-per-view event in the history of World Extreme Cagefighting took place, and it was a rather historic event. WEC 48 took place from the Arco Arena in Sacramento, California. It drew 12,555 fans for a gate of $954,635, while also getting 175,000 buys on pay-per-view. It still stands as the most purchased non-UFC pay-per-view in mixed martial arts history.
In the main event, WEC Featherweight Champion Jose Aldo had a dominant performance, chopping the legs of Urijah Faber over 25 minutes en route to a unanimous decision. Aldo and Faber were arguably the two biggest stars in WEC’s history, and this was easily the biggest fight in the promotion’s history. This show was what led to the merger of WEC into UFC months later.
In the co-main event, Benson Henderson scored a first-round submission of Donald Cerrone to remain the WEC Lightweight Champion. Also on the main card, Manvel Gamburyan scored a first-round knockout of Mike Brown, Shane Roller scored a first-round submission of Anthony Njokuani, and Scott Jorgensen won a decision over Antonio Banuelos.
This show also featured one of the greatest fights in MMA history, with that being the absolute war between Leonard Garcia and “The Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung, which saw Garcia win a split decision. It was a back-and-forth affair that saw both men beat the absolute crap out of each other, and is remembered to this day for the instant classic it was. Other winners on the prelims included Anthony Pettis, Takeya Mizugaki, Chad Mendes and Brad Pickett.
You can watch WEC 48 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 34 and Bellator 277. We will also look ahead to this upcoming week’s busy schedule of events and all of the news of the past week. In The Clinch is part of The Fight Game Media Network, with all podcasts available free to listen to on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, as well as our Patreon page.