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Monday MMA Round-Up: Blachowicz stamps position as top contender

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - MAY 14: Jan Blachowicz of Poland reacts after his TKO victory over Aleksandar Rakic of Austria in a light heavyweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on May 14, 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. UFC and Bellator both held events this week, so let’s dive right in to all of the action going on.

UFC, Bellator, News Recaps

  • It was an unfortunate end to Saturday’s UFC on ESPN 36 event, but Jan Blachowicz secured his spot as next-in-line for a shot at re-gaining the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship with a win over Aleksandar Rakic. It was a very competitive fight, with each fighter winning a round thru the first two. Blachowicz landed a leg kick early in the third and as Rakic was planting on his back leg, his knee popped and he immediately went down in pain and it was stopped. Rakic did say he has a pre-existing injury to the knee but wasn’t going to pull out of the fight. Blachowicz has put himself in position to challenge whomever comes out of UFC 275 on June 11 as the light heavyweight champion, as Glover Teixeira defends against Jiri Prochazka.
  • The main card of Saturday’s UFC show was very entertaining, and, really, the whole show pretty much was. There wasn’t a big blowaway fight, but there also wasn’t really anything bad. I will say, on a personal level, any time there’s a Katlyn Chookagian fight that I enjoy, that means the show was good.
  • There was one moment of controversy during Saturday’s UFC event, and it came from the corner of Andrea Lee, specifically fellow UFC fighter Tony Kelley, the boyfriend of Lee, who made some insensitive comments about Viviane Araujo during the break after the first round. Araujo did look to poke Lee in the eyes a couple of times in the first, which went uncalled, but Kelley decided to use the break to say that “they’re dirty f**king Brazilians, they’re going to f**king cheat like that.” Kelley was criticized heavily by fellow fighters, media and fans for the term, and, of course, he decided to double down instead of apologize, claiming he’s being a victim of “cancel culture”. Dude, just take account of your actions and apologize, you’re no victim of “cancel culture”. That’s such a ridiculous cop-out of an excuse. Kelley was announced for a fight this week on 6/18 against Adrian Yanez, who said he would make Kelley pay for his comments inside the Octagon.
  • Logan Storley won a controversial decision over Michael Page in the main event of Bellator 281 on Friday to become the Interim Bellator Welterweight Champion. It was one of those fights that really came down to how judges score fights, and it was one exposing flaws in the scoring system. Storley scored a lot of takedowns in the fight, but he did no offense with them as he just laid on top of Page, and the judges felt that was enough to win rounds despite Page getting the better offense on the feet. Bellator President Scott Coker vehemently disagreed with the scorecards, saying he felt Page won, and he isn’t typically one to make statements like that as he typically remains diplomatic. It wasn’t all that exciting of a fight, though.
  • Speaking of exciting, one of the most exciting fighters in the sport wrapped up his career Friday at Bellator 281 as Paul Daley fought for the final time, ending his career with a second-round knockout of Wendell Giacomo. It was a typical kind of Daley fight, as he was losing early due to wrestling, but he was able to pull out the highlight-reel knockout in the second. Daley ends his career with a 44-18-2 record, including 35 wins by knockout.
  • UFC 277 on 7/30 will officially take place at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. That has yet to be formally announced and there was talk of holding the event in other locations, but Dallas remained the front-runner the entire time and the show will take place there. There will be two title fights as UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion Julianna Pena will defend against Amanda Nunes, according to sources who asked to remain anonymous. An Interim UFC Flyweight Championship bout was officially announced for the show as Brandon Moreno will take on Kai Kara-France.
  • Dustin Poirier is trying to get on that UFC 277 card and has said he is willing to fight anyone at lightweight or welterweight. He called out Colby Covington specifically, but there’s zero chance that fight happens on that day. Stephen Thompson has stepped up and said he is willing to take the fight. Poirier just wants to fight but seems to be in a lost space at the moment with a potential fight against Nate Diaz seeming to be completely off the table.
  • Speaking of Nate Diaz, he shared a picture of himself urinating outside of the UFC Performance Institute. I don’t get why he would do that, the Performance Institute has nice restrooms and the landscaping is very nice outside. Honestly, that was unprofessional of Diaz to share that photo. I know he’s frustrated and wants to fight, and they want him to sign a new deal. However, doing that stuff just makes you look bad, even if the trolls on social media support it. If I’m being more honest, I don’t see the big deal in him wanting to box Jake Paul- I think Jake Paul’s days as being a draw are done and there’s just no interest there any longer. It’s a gimmick that is past it’s due date now.
  • The front-runner to hold UFC 278 on August 20 is the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts.
  • Gregor Gillespie was removed from the UFC Fan Rankings on Sunday, but not the official UFC Rankings (yet), due to inactivity. There were those concerned he’d been released from the promotion, but he confirmed he hasn’t and said he’s been having trouble getting fights. He’s accepted fights against those ranked above him, who have turned the fight down, but he also admitted to turning down fights against potential opponents ranked below him. That’s just how the game is being played amongst ranked fighters all over each division, and it’s going to always happen as long as the rankings are a thing. But, yes, he is still on the UFC roster.

Playing Matchmaker

Here are the fights I would make next for those who fought at UFC on ESPN 36 on Saturday:

  • Jan Blachowicz vs. Glover Teixeira-Jiri Prochazka winner
  • Aleksandar Rakic vs. Dominick Reyes
  • Ryan Spann vs. Paul Craig-Volkan Oezdemir winner
  • Davey Grant vs. Julio Arce
  • Katlyn Chookagian vs. Manon Fiorot
  • Allan Nascimento vs. Tatsuro Taira
  • Viviane Araujo vs. Alexa Grasso
  • Virna Jandiroba vs. Tecia Torres
  • Amanda Ribas vs. Angela Hill

Fight Announcements

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

  • Jake Matthews vs. Andre Fialho — UFC 275 — June 11
  • Donald Cerrone vs. Joe Lauzon — UFC Fight Night — June 18
  • Adrian Yanez vs. Tony Kelley — UFC Fight Night — June 18
  • Umar Nurmagomedov vs. Nate Maness — UFC Fight Night — June 25
  • Jim Miller vs. Bobby Green — UFC 276 — July 2
  • Maryna Moroz vs. Sijara Eubanks — UFC Fight Night — July 9
  • Austin Lingo vs. David Onama — UFC Fight Night — July 9
  • Michelle Waterson vs. Amanda Lemos — UFC Fight Night — July 16
  • Paul Craig vs. Volkan Oezdemir — UFC Fight Night — July 23
  • Molly McCann vs. Hannah Goldy — UFC Fight Night — July 23
  • Mandy Bohm vs. Victoria Leonardo — UFC Fight Night — July 23
  • Brandon Moreno vs. Kai Kara-France — UFC 277 — July 30 (Interim UFC Flyweight Championship)
  • Drakkar Klose vs. Diego Ferreira — UFC 277 — July 30
  • Ramiz Brahimaj vs. Michael Morales — UFC 277 — July 30
  • Don’Tale Mayes vs. Justin Tafa — UFC 277 — July 30
  • Vicente Luque vs. Geoff Neal — UFC Fight Night — August 6
  • Terrance McKinney vs. Erick Gonzalez — UFC Fight Night — August 6
  • Mayra Bueno Silva vs. Stephanie Egger — UFC Fight Night — August 6
  • Yazmin Jauregui vs. Istela Nunes — UFC Fight Night — August 13
  • Sean Woodson vs. Luis Saldana — UFC 278 — August 20

Coming Up This Week

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

  • UFC on ESPN+ 64 takes place on Saturday, May 21, from the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada. The entire card airs on ESPN+, with the main card at 7 p.m. ET, and the prelims at 4 p.m. ET. Holly Holm takes on Ketlen Vieira in the main event.
  • Ares FC 6 takes place on Friday, May 20, from Paris, France, airing at 3 p.m. ET on UFC Fight Pass.
  • Eagle FC 47 takes place on Friday, May 20, from Miami, Florida, airing at 6 p.m. ET on FLX Cast. Former UFC Heavyweight Champion Junior Dos Santos takes on Yorgan De Castro in the main event.
  • FAC 14 takes place on Friday, May 20, from Detroit Lakes, Minnesota, airing at 8 p.m. ET on UFC Fight Pass.
  • Fury FC 63 takes place on Sunday, May 22, from Houston, Texas, airing at 4 p.m. ET on UFC Fight Pass.

This Week in MMA History

On May 19, 2012, Strikeforce wrapped up their Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, California, a year-long tournament to crown the best heavyweight under the Strikeforce banner. It ended up being won by someone who wasn’t even scheduled to be in the tournament, who went on to have a Hall Of Fame career.

In the finals, Daniel Cormier scored a unanimous decision over Josh Barnett to win the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix Championship. Cormier was originally an alternate, but replaced Alistair Overeem after Overeem was pulled from the tournament, and he knocked out Antonio Silva in the semi-finals. Barnett made it to the finals on the heels of wins over Brett Rogers and Sergei Kharitonov. Cormier would go on to become a two-division UFC champion and was recently announced as a 2022 inductee for the UFC Hall Of Fame.

Also on the main card, Gilbert Melendez scored a split decision over Josh Thomson to retain the Strikeforce Lightweight Championship, Rafael Cavalcante submitted Mike Kyle in 33 seconds, and Chris Spang scored a first-round TKO over Nah-Shon Burrell. Among the winners on the prelims included Bobby Green, Gian Villante and Isaac Vallie-Flagg.

You can watch Strikeforce: Barnett vs. Cormier 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 36, Bellator 281 and episode two of The Ultimate Fighter. We will also look ahead to UFC on ESPN+ 64, Eagle FC 47, take a look at all of the news and fight announcements and much more. In The Clinch is part of The Fight Game Media Network of podcasts, which are available FREE on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and also on our Patreon page.

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