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Monday MMA Round-Up: Charles Oliveira is still the best lightweight in the world

PHOENIX, ARIZONA - MAY 07: Michael Chandler celebrates after his knockout victory over Tony Ferguson in a lightweight fight during the UFC 274 event at Footprint Center on May 07, 2022 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Chris Unger/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 crazy busy week, capped off by a notable UFC 274 event, so let’s dive right in to all that’s going on.

Looking Back at UFC 274, Bellator, PFL

  • Charles Oliveira is still the best lightweight in the world despite the fact that he is no longer the UFC Lightweight Champion following issues at the scales on Friday during the weigh-ins for UFC 274. He missed weight by a half-pound and was stripped of the title, but he still managed to submit Justin Gaethje in the first round of a wild fight. That does mean there’s no lightweight champion, but Oliveira will be in the next title fight as the number one contender.
  • The issues with the scale were well documented over the weekend. According to most, it was mainly an issue with one of the scales at the fighter hotel. For reference, there’s one scale that the fighters mainly use to check their weight that is in the main workout room. There is a second scale that is backstage at the weigh-ins, but is only used once fighters get backstage, where they make one final check before they step in line to go out and weigh in on the official scale. It was the workout room scale, which, according to several fighters, was showing fighters were on weight on Thursday night, but then it was found out the scale was reading lower than it actually was. Some have pointed to people switching the scale between pounds and kilos as messing up the calibration. First off, there should never been any switching between the two, it should be easy enough for anyone to read the pounds, no matter the language you speak. Secondly, no one should be messing with the scales, for the reason of messing up the calibration. Dana White said they’re going to start having someone monitor the scale, which is a good move, but it’s dumb that it came to that. I do believe all of the fighters who spoke out about the issues, even though there were some that said they didn’t notice anything wrong.
  • That co-main event at UFC 274 that saw Carla Esparza win the UFC Women’s Strawweight Championship in a decision over Rose Namajunas was one of the absolute worst fights in UFC history, and arguably the worst title fight in UFC history. Neither woman wanted to do anything, and it was really the wrestling pressure of Esparza that won her the fight. The first two rounds were incredibly dull, with the two landing a combined 15 total strikes over the first ten minutes. Whatever gameplan Namajunas and her team had was terrible, plus the coaching between rounds wasn’t good and they were convinced she had won the first four rounds. She complained afterwards about playing defense and why the judging doesn’t reward defense, which, if you know the scoring criteria, it’s all about offense. It was just a horrible performance from the defending champion. Esparza deserves criticism, as well, as she didn’t take many chances, though she did fight a strategic fight. Plus, she didn’t get her face all damaged up before her wedding this upcoming weekend, which she said she’ll wear the title down the aisle as her “something new.” If you have insomnia, watch that fight, and if it doesn’t help, pair it with the fight between Shogun Rua and Ovince Saint Preux from Saturday and that should do the trick.
  • Arguably the greatest knockout in UFC history happened on Saturday when Michael Chandler brutally knocked out Tony Ferguson with a kick right to the jaw. It was one of those kicks where it looked like he was throwing a kick like you would kick a football off a tee with, and it connected and Ferguson went lights out immediately and had a bad fall face first to the mat and he was out for quite some time, but ended up being okay. It was a massive win for Chandler, who cut a tremendous post-fight promo setting up several different potential match-ups, with the big callout being Conor McGregor, even saying he will do it at 170 lbs. Chandler has been an excellent signing and is arguably the most-exciting UFC fighter on the roster at the moment. For all of his success in Bellator, Chandler would’ve been a massive superstar had he joined the UFC around 2014, but his stock is at an extreme high at the moment.
  • One fight on the prelims I want to note is the flyweight fight between Brandon Royval and Matt Schnell. That is about as good as a two-minute fight is going to get, and considering it won Fight Of The Night, that says a lot. Royval had an incredible finish and that fight is worth going back and watching.
  • One of the more anticipated fights on Saturday’s UFC show ended up getting cancelled when Donald Cerrone came down with food poisoning on Saturday, which caused his fight against Joe Lauzon to be scratched from the card. There has been talk of re-scheduling the fight for the Austin card on 6/18. Cerrone released a statement on Instagram on Sunday talking about being disappointed with having to pull out, and then said he’s going to fight two more times, which would be 50 fights under the Zuffa banner, then he would retire.
  • Speaking of fighters gearing up for retirement, Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua suffered a loss to Ovince Saint Preux on Saturday in a fight that would’ve been the worst fight on the card had it not been for the strawweight title fight. Rua was talking about having two fights left in him going into Saturday’s fight, and even with the terrible fight, Dana White did confirm he will grant Rua his last fight, which will be the end of his contract.
  • Bellator had a show on Friday, with Bellator 280 taking place in Paris, France. Ryan Bader retained the Bellator Heavyweight Championship with a unanimous decision win over Cheick Kongo in a bad main event, while Yoel Romero waited until literally the last second to finish over-matched late replacement Alex Polizzi. There’s just no real interest at the moment in Bellator, and they don’t help themselves by tweeting on their official promotion account the eyes emoji after one of their past big stars, Chandler, scores a big UFC win, meanwhile all of their events are headlined by ex-UFC stars and some of their best fighters are openly talking about wanting to sign with the UFC.
  • PFL also had a show on Friday, which was headlined by Kayla Harrison scoring a dominant decision over Marina Mokhnatika in the main event. Harrison’s demeanor during the week was weird, as she was openly talking about how she had agreed to a deal with Bellator to fight Cris Cyborg on one of the Hawaii shows in April until PFL swooped in and matched offers. I’m not expert, but her body language and the way she spoke and spoke about free agency makes it seem like she’s unhappy about still being with PFL. Also scoring wins at PFL 3 were Anthony Pettis and Rory MacDonald, who both won by submission in the first round.
  • There was lots of talk early in the week about Dana White and the now famous war board inside UFC Headquarters, which is a big board listing all of the fights on the upcoming schedule. Generally, when there are shots of that board that get out, everything is covered up, but White did a video interview with the Pivot Podcast where the board was in plain sight, and many people were pausing it to figure out fights. I can tell you, from having been in that room once before, that board is impressive, but every fight listed on there isn’t official, just ideas that they are working towards. Most of them come to fruition, but some don’t. Afterwards, several fights on that board were announced, which I’ll get into, but there were a few notable ones that are ideas but not signed. The big one is a welterweight fight between Khamzat Chimaev and Nate Diaz, which White said is a fight they want to make, but it’s not close to done. It was on the board for UFC 276 on 7/2, but it won’t happen then. Diaz did tweet on Sunday “July 30th 170 pounds”, which seems to indicate when and at what weight he wants to fight, so it’s entirely possible it could happen then.
  • One fight listed on that board that won’t take place on the date listed is a potential interim heavyweight title fight between Jon Jones and Stipe Miocic. It was listed for UFC 277 on 7/30, but Jones, in an interview while he was at the CES MMA show on Friday, said he is hopeful the fight takes place on September 24 in Las Vegas. I have heard that is the currently planned date. Jones also said the UFC was playing games with the fight, which White denied, but that fight looks closer to done than it did even a week ago.
  • The big fights for International Fight Week and UFC 276 on 7/2 were made official on Saturday, and it will be headlined by two title fights. UFC Middleweight Champion Israel Adesanya will defend against Jared Cannonier in the main event, and UFC Featherweight Champion Alexander Volkanovski will defend against Max Holloway in their trilogy bout in the co-main event. Other fights announced for the show are listed below.
  • Daniel Cormier was announced as an inductee for the 2022 UFC Hall Of Fame, which the ceremony will take place on June 30 in Las Vegas. I can’t think of many fighters more deserving than Cormier, who is a two-division UFC champion and one of the best ambassadors for the sport. He is also one of the most genuinely nicest people in the sport, and a complete class act. Congratulations to Cormier, who will go in alongside his good buddy Khabib Nurmagomedov.
  • It doesn’t appear that there will be a fourth fight between UFC Flyweight Champion Deiveson Figueiredo and Brandon Moreno. There is talk that there actually will be an interim title fight between Moreno and Kai Kara-France. I don’t know if Figueiredo is injured or what’s going on, but it sure is interesting that there’s already talk of an interim title less than four months after he won the title.
  • Since entering the USADA drug testing pool within the last couple of weeks, Henry Cejudo has already been tested twice in preparation for his return to action. In fact, in 2022 alone, 670 fighters have been tested by USADA. However, Conor McGregor still has yet to be tested in 2022. When it comes to McGregor, there is still no time table on his return, and it could be December before it even happens.

Playing Matchmaker

Here are the fights I would make next for those who fought at UFC 274 on Saturday:

  • Charles Oliveira vs. Islam Makhachev
  • Justin Gaethje vs. Dustin Poirier
  • Carla Esparza vs. Zhang Weili-Joanna Jedrzejczyk winner
  • Rose Namajunas vs. Yan Xiaonan
  • Michael Chandler vs. Conor McGregor
  • Tony Ferguson vs. Dan Hooker
  • Ovince Saint Preux vs. Philipe Lins
  • Randy Brown vs. Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos
  • Francisco Trinaldo vs. Abubakar Nurmagomedov
  • Macy Chiasson vs. Julia Avila
  • Brandon Royval vs. Matheus Nicolau
  • Blagoy Ivanov vs. Andrei Arlovski

Fight Announcements

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

  • Elise Reed vs. Sam Hughes — UFC Fight Night — May 21
  • Tony Gravely vs. Johnny Munoz — UFC Fight Night — June 4
  • Rogerio Bontorin vs. Manel Kape — UFC 275 — June 11
  • Joaquin Buckley vs. Albert Duraev — UFC Fight Night — June 18
  • Mateusz Gamrot vs. Arman Tsarukyan — UFC Fight Night — June 25
  • UFC Middleweight Champion Israel Adesanya vs. Jared Cannonier — UFC 276 — July 2 (MAIN EVENT)
  • UFC Featherweight Champion Alexander Volkanovski vs. Max Holloway — UFC 276 — July 2
  • Pedro Munhoz vs. Sean O’Malley — UFC 276 — July 2
  • Robbie Lawler vs. Bryan Barberena — UFC 276 — July 2
  • Rafael Dos Anjos vs. Rafael Fiziev — UFC Fight Night — July 9 (MAIN EVENT)
  • Cody Garbrandt vs. Rani Yahya — UFC Fight Night — July 9
  • Jessica Penne vs. Briana Fortino — UFC Fight Night — July 16
  • Punahele Soriano vs. Dalcha Lungiambula — UFC Fight Night — July 16
  • Anthony Smith vs. Magomed Ankalaev — UFC 277 — July 30
  • Paulo Costa vs. Luke Rockhold — UFC 277 — July 30
  • Thiago Santos vs. Jamahal Hill — UFC Fight Night — August 6 (MAIN EVENT)
  • Miranda Granger vs. Cory McKenna — UFC Fight Night — August 6

Coming Up This Week

Here are the notable MMA events taking place this week:

  • UFC on ESPN 36 takes place on Saturday, May 14, from the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada. The main card airs on ESPN2 & ESPN+ at 10 p.m. ET, while prelims also air on ESPN2 & ESPN+ at 7:30 p.m. ET. Jan Blachowicz takes on Aleksandar Rakic in the main event.
  • Invicta FC 47 takes place on Wednesday, May 11, from Kansas City, Kansas, airing at 8 p.m. ET on MMA Junkie.
  • Bellator 281 takes place on Friday, May 13, from London, England. The main card airs on Showtime at 4 p.m. ET, while prelims air on YouTube at 12:30 p.m. ET. Michael Page battles Logan Storley for the Interim Bellator Welterweight Championship in the main event.
  • LFA 132 takes place on Friday, May 13, from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, airing at 9 p.m. ET on UFC Fight Pass.
  • CFFC 108 takes place on Saturday, May 14, from Bensalem, Pennsylvania, airing at 7 p.m. ET on UFC Fight Pass.
  • Fury FC 62 takes place on Sunday, May 15, from Castle Rock, Colorado, airing at 2 p.m. ET on UFC Fight Pass.

This Week in MMA History

On May 13, 2017, one of the more notable UFC events of that year took place as UFC 211 went down at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. The event drew 17,834 fans for a gate of $2,662,645 and an additional 300,000 buys on pay-per-view.

In the main event, UFC Heavyweight Champion Stipe Miocic scored a first-round knockout of Junior Dos Santos to retain the championship. It was a rematch of a fight that took place in December 2014, which was won by Dos Santos in a close fight. This wasn’t nearly as close as Miocic needed just over two minutes to dispose of Dos Santos.

In the co-main event, UFC Women’s Strawweight Champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk continued her dominance, at the time, of the division, scoring a unanimous decision win over Jessica Andrade. Also on the main card, Demian Maia won a split decision over Jorge Masvidal, Frankie Edgar scored a finish at the end of the second round over Yair Rodriguez, and David Branch won a split decision over Krzysztof Jotko. The prelim headliner was a no contest between Eddie Alvarez and Dustin Poirier, while Jason Knight, Chase Sherman, James Vick, Cortney Casey and Enrique Barzola scored wins on the prelims.

You can watch UFC 211 on UFC Fight Pass here.

In The Clinch

This week on In The Clinch, myself and Paul Fontaine will go over more of the fallout of UFC 274. We’ll also look back at Bellator 280 and PFL, look ahead to UFC on ESPN 36 and take a look at all of the big fight announcements of the past week. You can listen to In The Clinch on The Fight Game Media Network of podcasts, which are available FREE on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

We also have a special post-UFC 274 wrap-up show available exclusively on our Patreon page, so check it out and thank you for the support!

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