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Monday MMA Round-Up: Women headline UFC + recap of two Bellator events

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - APRIL 23: Jessica Andrade of Brazil reacts after submitting Amanda Lemos of Brazil in a strawweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on April 23, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/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 busy week this past week so let’s dive right in to all of the happenings.

Women headline UFC + recap of two Bellator events

  • Saturday’s UFC event didn’t have the most exciting card on paper, but turned into a fun event overall with seven of the eleven fights ending with a finish inside the first round. Jessica Andrade accomplished a first in UFC history in the main event when she scored a submission win over Amanda Lemos with a standing arm-triangle choke, the first time that particular submission finished a UFC bout. Andrade decided to move back to strawweight in an effort to make another title run, and this is a big win for her in an effort to make that run.
  • Other big winners on the show included Claudio Puelles, who scored his third UFC win by kneebar over Clay Guida, Maycee Barber, Charles Jourdain, Marc-Andre Barriault and Tyson Pedro, who won in his first outing since December 2018. There was just over 77 minutes of total fight time over the eleven fights on the card, so if you missed it, it’s an easy watch on replay.
  • Clay Guida’s loss to Claudio Puelles was the final fight on his UFC contract, which will be an interesting situation going forward. He’s been with the promotion since 2006, is one of the more popular fighters on the roster, has had some of the most exciting fights in UFC history, and is a member of the UFC Hall Of Fame. You would think that means they keep him. However, he’s 40 and has struggled in recent times. They’ve let a lot of fighters go in these kinds of situations. I don’t see Guida going anywhere, and I think he should be a UFC fighter until he decides to hang up the gloves, though if his next fight came for PFL or Eagle FC, I won’t say I’m surprised, either.
  • Cris Cyborg looks to be headed into free agency after winning on Saturday night at Bellator 279, when she retained the Bellator Women’s Featherweight Championship with a dominant decision win over Arlene Blencowe. It wasn’t a competitive fight, which has pretty much been the story of Cyborg’s Bellator career. She said afterwards that she wants big fights, and named Cat Zingano, Amanda Nunes and Kayla Harrison as the fights she wants. She could sign a new deal with Bellator, which would lead to the Zingano fight. The only way she’s getting the Nunes fight is to go back to the UFC, which is very, very unlikely. Honestly, the only way she gets the Harrison fight is to either sign with PFL or go back to UFC, and I doubt either happens. She’s definitely in an interesting position.
  • Raufeon Stots and Patchy Mix were the first two fighters to advance to the semi-finals of the Bellator Bantamweight Grand Prix, as they picked up wins on Saturday at Bellator 279. Stots scored a third-round knockout of Juan Archuleta to advance and also become the Interim Bellator Bantamweight Champion. Mix scored a unanimous decision win over Kyoji Horiguchi to advance. They’re on opposite sides of the bracket, but that fight appears to be the favorite to be the finals of the tournament.
  • Liz Carmouche finally had a major organization championship wrapped around her waist, albeit under debated circumstances, as she scored a fourth-round finish of Juliana Velasquez to win the Bellator Women’s Flyweight Championship at Bellator 278 on Friday. Velasquez was up 30-27 on two scorecards after three rounds, and up 29-28 on the other, and looked on her way to keeping the title until Carmouche got on top in the fourth and found the crucifix position and started landing elbows. They weren’t hard and there wasn’t many that landed, but referee Mike Beltran stopped it rather quickly. Most, myself included, felt it was a very early stoppage. Velasquez wasn’t happy afterwards and is planning to file an appeal, but she should be campaigning for an immediate rematch, which she is likely to get. It’s a shame that Carmouche’s accomplishment is overshadowed by the finish as she’s worked hard and came up short several times in trying to become a champion, but finally got the breakthrough she’s been waiting for.
  • If you missed the fight between Clay Collard and Jeremy Stephens in the main event of the 2022 PFL season opener on Wednesday, it is a fight worth going back and watching. It was an incredible fight that saw both men just beat the crap out of each other, ending with Collard getting the decision. It will be on the list of Fight Of The Year contenders by the end of the year.
  • Francis Ngannou was at the boxing match between Tyson Fury and Dillian Whyte and came into the ring following Fury’s win, where the two teased a match-up. The talk is it would be a mixed rules fight, and from what I can gather, it appears to be more of an exhibition than an actual fight. It also won’t happen until next year, anyways, and is all dependent on Ngannou’s UFC future. I still think Ngannou’s best path is signing a new UFC deal, because the Fury match-up, especially if it’s an exhibition, is going to be there years down the line, while he’s in his UFC prime at the moment.
  • Robert Whittaker has been forced out of his UFC 275 bout against Marvin Vettori due to an ankle injury. He is expected to be out until the fall now. They will likely take Vettori off the card and find him a different opponent on a different date. If it were me, I would book Vettori against Darren Till in the headliner of the Liverpool show on July 23. I feel like that is a perfect kind of fight, but it’s also a dangerous one for Till. If they don’t do that, I do see Till headlining that card, and I would think Jack Hermansson would be the logical choice for opponent.
  • After spending some time looking through the testing database thus far for 2022, here are some recent USADA drug testing updates: From what I can tell, Conor McGregor is the only fighter not to be tested thus far in 2022, which is strange because every fighter under contract is supposed to be tested once a quarter (I think, don’t quote me on that). Among those who have been tested this year include John Hathaway (hasn’t fought since March 2014), Travis Browne (hasn’t fought since July 2017), Urijah Faber (has been tested three times despite not fighting since December 2019 and being unsure if he’s fighting again), Jon Jones (hasn’t fought since February 2020), and both Diaz brothers.

Playing matchmaker

Here are the fights I would make next for those who fought at UFC on ESPN+ 63 on Saturday:

  • Jessica Andrade vs. Mackenzie Dern
  • Amanda Lemos vs. Tecia Torres
  • Claudio Puelles vs. Jim Miller
  • Maycee Barber vs. Maryna Moroz
  • Charles Jourdain vs. Edson Barboza
  • Marc-Andre Barriault vs. Anthony Hernandez
  • Tyson Pedro vs. Ed Herman
  • Philipe Lins vs. Devin Clark

Fight announcements

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

  • Parker Porter vs. Jailton Almeida — UFC Fight Night — May 21
  • Damon Jackson vs. Darrick Minner — UFC Fight Night — June 4
  • Benoit St. Denis vs. Niklas Stolze — UFC Fight Night — June 4
  • Court McGee vs. Jeremiah Wells — UFC Fight Night — June 18
  • Uriah Hall vs. Andre Muniz — UFC 276 — July 2
  • Brad Tavares vs. Dricus Du Plessis — UFC 276 — July 2
  • Jessica-Rose Clark vs. Julija Stoliarenko — UFC 276 — July 2
  • Tresean Gore vs. Josh Fremd — UFC Fight Night — July 9
  • Muhammad Mokaev vs. Charles Johnson — UFC Fight Night — July 23

Coming up this week

Here are the notable MMA events taking place this week:

  • UFC on ESPN 35 takes place on Saturday, April 30, from the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada. The main card airs on ESPN & ESPN+ at 7:00 p.m. ET, while the prelims air on ESPN2 & ESPN+ at 4:00 p.m. ET. Rob Font takes on Marlon Vera in the main event.
  • PFL 2022 #2 takes place on Thursday, April 28, from the Esports Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The main card airs on ESPN2 at 9:00 p.m. ET, while prelims air on ESPN+ at 5:30 p.m. ET.
  • Urijah Faber’s A1 Combat 1 takes place on Sunday, May 1, from Wheatland, California, airing at 6:00 p.m. ET on UFC Fight Pass.

This week in MMA history

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – MAY 01: (R-L) Jiri Prochazka of the Czech Republic knocks out Dominick Reyes in a light heavyweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on May 01, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

It was barely a year ago, but one of the best fights of 2021 took place this week last year at UFC on ESPN 23 on May 1, 2021 at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada. The only bad thing was that it came behind closed doors and before UFC sold any seats at the Apex, but it still brought a fight that got votes for Fight Of The Year.

In the main event, Jiri Prochazka scored a second-round knockout over Dominick Reyes in an incredible back-and-forth fight that also saw Prochazka take home honors for Knockout Of The Year. It was a classic battle on the feet with both men hurting each other, but it ended with Prochazka landing a spinning elbow and Reyes went down to the mat out cold. Neither man has fought since then as Prochazka is preparing for his shot at UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Glover Teixeira in June, while Reyes is expected to return in the summer.

Also on the main card, Giga Chikadze scored a first-round knockout of Cub Swanson, Ion Cutelaba and Dustin Jacoby fought to a draw, Sean Strickland scored a decision over Krzysztof Jotko, and Merab Dvalishvili won a decision over Cody Stamann. Among the winners on the prelims included Luana Pinheiro, TJ Brown and Loma Lookboonmee.

You can watch UFC on ESPN 23 on UFC Fight Pass here.

In The Clinch

This week on In The Clinch, myself and Paul Fontaine will look back at this crazy week of MMA action, recapping UFC on ESPN+ 63, both Bellator events and the PFL event. We will also look ahead to UFC on ESPN 35 and take a look at all of the happenings going on in the world of mixed martial arts. In The Clinch is free to listen to as part of The Fight Game Media Network, with all podcasts available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and our Patreon page.

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