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 273 took place this past week, and we are headed into a busy weekend, so let’s dive right in to all of the happenings.
UFC 273 fallout & more
- Alexander Volkanovski put on a masterful performance in the main event of UFC 273 on Saturday. He was dominant over the first three rounds before finishing Cham Sung Jung early in the fourth round to retain the UFC Featherweight Championship. His striking was incredible, he utilized his takedowns well, and he looked to be miles ahead of Jung in overall skill. It was arguably the most complete performance of Volkanovski’s career. That makes it 21 straight wins for him, including now being 11-0 as a UFC fighter. There’s a strong case that can be made that he’s the best pound-for-pound fighter in the sport. It looks like the trilogy bout with Max Holloway is going to be next, and that really feels like it’s going to be a very big fight when it happens.
- Chan Sung Jung’s reaction to losing to Alexander Volkanovski was just so sad to see, and that might be the end for him. Best known as “The Korean Zombie,” Jung is known for his memorable fights, but there was a key thing that didn’t come across last night that he said that his translator left out. He said post-fight that he “isn’t good enough to be a champion” when he was being interviewed, but the translator left that out. That just has to break your heart as a fan to hear that, and it’s one of the toughest things for a fighter to admit. He said he didn’t know if he was going to keep fighting, and it wouldn’t surprise me if he decided to retire. If that was the last time we see him fight, that would be disappointing, but he’s given us plenty of memories over the years.
- It’s time for Aljamain Sterling to get the credit he deserves and be recognized as the true UFC Bantamweight Champion. He won a close split decision over Petr Yan on Saturday to become the undisputed champion, in a fight that could’ve gone either way, but it just shows how tough, and good, both men are. Sterling has won seven straight fights, and nine of his last ten, and he deserves to have his time as a UFC champion and celebrate what is a legitimate title win.
- The fight between Khamzat Chimaev and Gilbert Burns was absolutely incredible, and I think it edges into the top spot on the 2022 Fight Of The Year list. There was tons of drama, the crowd was into it, and they went after each other from the opening minute until the last second. It was incredible performances from both men, with Chimaev answering a lot of questions in scoring the decision win.
- With Chimaev scoring the win, it appears that a showdown with Colby Covington could be near. Dana White did an interview with Pat McAfee on Friday and indicated that they were looking at doing an event on ABC later this year and were targeting a main event between Covington and Chimaev. That would be a massive fight and one that would get Chimaev a title shot with a win, but there are some questions now after the Burns fight. It may be time to pump the brakes a little on the rise of Chimaev and maybe put him against a different high-profile opponent, because I think that, right now, Covington beats him, but I still think this fight is going to happen.
- Other big winners on Saturday at UFC 273 were Mackenzie Dern, Ian Garry, Raquel Pennington, Mike Malott and Aleksei Oleinik. For Oleinik, it was the 60th win in his career, and the 47th submission win for the 44-year-old, who joked afterwards that he’s got maybe “five, ten years left” for his career.
- Dana White said after the show that they’ve been looking at doing future events in Boston, New York, Dallas, Austin, Salt Lake City, Seattle and Toronto. He said that they won’t be traveling to Australia this year because he can’t risk bringing a show there and having it get shut down. Dallas is on the books for UFC 277 on July 30. I’ve heard Austin is being talked about for a show in June, as the new Moody Center arena is opening in just a matter of days. White said if they end up in Toronto, it will likely be in the fall. I hope this means they’re looking at a full return to touring, because I’m sure there’s tons of people, aside from myself, who are ready to get these shows out of the Apex.
- The long-awaited and anticipated rematch between Zhang Weili and Joanna Jedrzejczyk was announced for UFC 275 in Singapore on June 11. It is scheduled for three rounds, but Dana White mentioned that he would consider making it a five-round fight. It makes sense for the fight to be in Singapore, but if they’re considering making it five rounds, I would move it to a headline slot on another card, because three five-round fights on a card is a bit much, and there’s two title fights scheduled for the card already. Saturday’s UFC 273 show only had two title fights, and the second one had a finish, but it was almost 2 a.m. on the east coast before the show was over, so it was a long night.
- Nate Diaz was recently in Las Vegas, where he had a meeting with UFC brass. I’ve longed wrote about his situation in here. He wants to finish his last fight on his contract as soon as possible. They want to sign him to a new deal, so they won’t book his final fight. He’s publicly asked for his release. Dana White has said he feels confident they’re going to sign him to a new deal, but then added on Saturday that he isn’t sure where they left off.. It’s clear that, at least publicly, each side is making it look like they’re ahead in this dispute. The ball is in the court of Diaz. They aren’t going to release him. They want to remain in the Nate Diaz business, because there’s several fights where interest will be high. I do think Diaz eventually signs a new deal. I hope it happens soon.
- This isn’t official, but there are heavy discussions about a UFC return to the United Kingdom in July. When they were in London last month, there were rumblings they had holds on arenas in Manchester, Liverpool and Glasgow. I could see Glasgow, Scotland being the destination, especially after Paul Craig was calling for a main event bout there against Anthony Smith, specifically mentioning July. We’ll see if it happens.
- Henry Cejudo is set to re-enter the USADA drug testing pool, according to his manager, Ali Abdelaziz, as he told ESPN late Sunday night. Cejudo has been openly talking about fighting on his social media for months, but it’s been one of those deals where it got tiresome because he was still out of the testing pool, thus meaning he wasn’t going to fight any time soon. That now changes, and he should be eligible to fight in six months. That will be a spark to whichever division he fights in, whether he fights at bantamweight, or decides to make a run at featherweight towards Alexander Volkanovski.
- This upcoming Friday is arguably Bellator’s biggest show of the year, and perhaps of the last several years, and there has been no promotion or mention of it anywhere. You’d hardly know it exists, or that Bellator even exists, because you never hear anything about them. Their featherweight champion and arguably their biggest star, and the star of this upcoming show, AJ McKee, doesn’t even have his social media accounts verified, and he gets less traction there than lots of people associated with mixed martial arts. They need to do something, because it feels like we’re watching the slow death of Bellator, which would be sad.
Here are the fights I would make next for those who fought at UFC 273 on Saturday:
- Alexander Volkanovski vs. Max Holloway
- Chan Sung Jung vs. Edson Barboza
- Aljamain Sterling vs. TJ Dillashaw
- Petr Yan vs. Merab Dvalishvili
- Khamzat Chimaev vs. Colby Covington
- Gilbert Burns vs. Michael Chiesa
- Mackenzie Dern vs. Rose Namajunas-Carla Esparza loser
- Mark Madsen vs. Jim Miller
- Ian Garry vs. Jeremiah Wells
- Anthony Hernandez vs. Dricus Du Plessis
- Raquel Pennington vs. Sara McMann
- Mike Malott vs. Ramiz Brahimaj
- Aleksei Oleinik vs. Augusto Sakai
Here are the fights that were announced over the past week:
- Jordan Wright vs. Roman Kopylov — UFC Fight Night — April 23
- Marcin Prachnio vs. Philipe Lins — UFC Fight Night — April 23
- Andrei Arlovski vs. Jake Collier — UFC Fight Night — April 30
- Zhang Weili vs. Joanna Jedrzejczyk — UFC 275 — June 11
- Kyle Daukaus vs. Roman Dolidze — UFC Fight Night — June 18
- Ronnie Lawrence vs. Saidyokub Kakhramonov — UFC Fight Night — July 9
Coming up this week
Here are some of the notable MMA events taking place this week:
- UFC On ESPN 34 takes place on Saturday, April 16, from the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada. The main card airs on ESPN at 8:30 p.m. ET, while the prelims air on ESPN+ at 5:30 p.m. ET. Vicente Luque takes on Belal Muhammad in the main event.
- Bellator 277 takes place on Friday, April 15, from the SAP Center in San Jose, California. The main card airs on Showtime at 10:00 p.m. ET, with the prelims airing on YouTube at 7:00 p.m. ET. Bellator Featherweight Champion AJ McKee defends against Patricio Pitbull in the main event, while Bellator Light Heavyweight Champion Vadim Nemkov defends against Corey Anderson in the finals of the Bellator Light Heavyweight Grand Prix in the co-main event.
- CFFC 107 takes place on Friday, April 15, from Atlantic City, New Jersey, airing at 7:00 p.m. ET on UFC Fight Pass.
- LFA 129 takes place on Friday, April 15, from Prior Lake, Minnesota, airing at 9:00 p.m. ET on UFC Fight Pass.
- Ares FC 5 takes place on Saturday, April 16, from Paris, France, airing at 12:00 p.m. ET on UFC Fight Pass.
This week in MMA history
It was only a year ago, but it has notable meaning to this upcoming weekend as we look back at Bellator 257, which took place on April 16, 2021. We were still in the midst of the pandemic and empty arena buildings as Bellator had set up a residency at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut.
It was the quarterfinals of the Bellator Light Heavyweight Grand Prix in the top two fights. In the main event, Bellator Light Heavyweight Champion Vadim Nemkov successfully defended his title and advanced when he scored a unanimous decision over Phil Davis. In the co-main event, Corey Anderson scored a third-round TKO over Dovletdzhan Yagshimuradov to advance to the semifinals. These two will now square off on Saturday in the finals, 365 days after their journey in the Grand Prix began.
Also on the main card, Veta Arteaga scored a majority decision over Desiree Yanez, while Paul Daley scored a second-round knockout of Sabah Homasi in an exciting fights. Among the winners of the prelims included Julia Budd, Julius Anglickas, Raymond Daniels, Lance Gibson Jr., and Mads Burnell.
In The Clinch
This week on In The Clinch, myself and Paul Fontaine will go over all of the UFC 273 fallout. We will also look ahead to UFC On ESPN 34, Bellator 277 and everything else going on in the world of mixed martial arts. In The Clinch is a part of The Fight Game Media Network of podcasts, which are available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts and our Patreon page.