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. I’m trying a few new things in this week’s column, so it’ll look slightly different, so let’s waste no time in getting into all of the happenings.
UFC 275 Fallout & other news
- UFC 275 was an incredible show, with the main card being the best UFC pay-per-view event thus far in 2022, and the entire card arguably being the best event of the year so far. The main event, which saw Jiri Prochazka capture the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship in the final round of a fight he was looking like he was going to lose, as he submitted Glover Teixeira, is the front-runner for 2022 Fight Of The Year and was an absolute instant classic. If you missed that fight, and the show in general, I urge you to go back and catch a replay, as you won’t be disappointed.
- I’ll get into it more down below, but after the result of the main event, you have to go with an immediate rematch. Glover Teixeira was 28 seconds away from keeping the light heavyweight title with either a win, or, at worst, a split draw based on the fact the scorecards were 39-37, 38-37 and 38-38 in his favor. Props have to be given to Jiri Prochazka for pulling out the submission that late and not just going to the scorecards, and I’m big on the Prochazka hype train, but it was a heart-breaking loss for Teixeira, and he deserves to get an immediate crack back at the title. It also helps that there’s no real clear cut top contender at 205 lbs., and Jan Blachowicz, the likely top choice, can fight someone else in the mean time.
- Valentina Shevchenko survived what turned out to be a tough test, one much tougher than anyone was anticipating, as she retained the UFC Women’s Flyweight Championship in a narrow split decision over Taila Santos. Santos was able to utilize and effective grappling game, one which Shevchenko hasn’t had to deal with at 125 lbs., but Shevchenko was able to survive it and work her striking and her own ground game to score the win. She definitely got helped by Santos’ right eye closing shut due to an accidental clash of heads, but these things happen sometimes, and it can effect the outcomes. The scorecards saw one 48-47 for Santos, but the other two were 48-47 and 49-46 for Shevchenko. The 49-46 scorecard was a bad one, as Santos definitely won rounds one and three, and the second round was the real swing round. It wasn’t a robbery like people tried to make it out to be, and 72% of the media scores that get tracked on MMA Decisions had it for Shevchenko, so she was the rightful winner in the eyes of the majority. It’ll be interesting if that’s a fight that gets re-visited in the future.
- It was confirmed by Ariel Helwani thru her manager that Taila Santos did suffer a broken orbital bone when the clash of heads occurred, and that she will be undergoing surgery once she returns to Brazil.
- It was going to be hard to replicate their first fight, but Zhang Weili and Joanna Jedrzejczyk were doing so while it lasted. They were having a fantastic fight, and then Weili scored an incredible knockout in the second round with a spinning back fist that caused Jedrzejczyk to face plant as she was out cold. Weili looked absolutely fantastic and had a great crowd reaction and looks to be next in line to challenge Carla Esparza for the UFC Women’s Strawweight Championship.
- Following that fight, Joanna Jedrzejczyk took off her gloves and announced her retirement from MMA. She talked about training for this fight for five months and it being tough, and that she’s been fighting for 20 years, is 35 and wants to be a mother and a business woman. To me, it was surprising, but not surprising at the same time. Obviously, had she won, she wasn’t going to walk away as she would have gotten a title shot. The loss made it easier to walk away, even though she did sign a new six-fight contract prior to this fight. She had a great career and will likely be inducted to the UFC Hall Of Fame one day, and she will be missed for sure.
- There were several other fun finishes on the card, including on the main card as Australian fighters Jake Matthews and Jack Della Maddalena as they both scored knockout finishes. Other finishes on the card saw both Hayisaer Maheshate and Silvana Gomez Juarez score first-round knockouts. Every fighter who scored a finish was the recipient of a post-fight performance bonus, so it was a great night for a lot of fighters in Singapore.
- UFC 278 was officially announced for August 20, taking place at the Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah, which will be the promotion’s second visit to the city and first pay-per-view event held there. It will be headlined by the return of UFC Welterweight Champion Kamaru Usman as he defends against top contender Leon Edwards in a fight Edwards has been chasing for quite some time. Other fights for the card will start to trickle out in the coming weeks.
- In what looked like it was going to be a basic UFC Fight Night event, the card planned for September 10 now looks to be a pay-per-view event, being UFC 279. Rumors are that it will be held in either Boston, Massachusetts or Atlanta, Georgia, and several fighters who were scheduled for the card were notified that their fights would be shifted to a now-planned September 17 card. There’s nothing officially announced by the promotion, but that looks to be the play. With the Abu Dhabi card being listed as UFC 281, even though not a pay-per-view event, it looks like there will be an early October pay-per-view event, UFC 280. It wouldn’t surprise me if that ends up on October 8 in Las Vegas.
- Boston was the planned location for an August 13 UFC Fight Night card, but that looks to be shifted to taking place in San Diego, California. It makes sense as the main event for that card will be a bantamweight battle between Dominick Cruz and Marlon Vera. Cruz lives and trains in San Diego, while Vera lives in Southern California and used to train in San Diego, so that is a perfect location for that fight.
- In an interview with ESPN’s Brett Okamoto, Dana White said that he has no current interest in booking Islam Makhachev for UFC Lightweight Champion Charles Oliveira’s next title defense, saying he still wants to do Makhachev against Beneil Dariush. White mentioned that Oliveira’s next opponent could come from the winner of the upcoming title fight between UFC Featherweight Champion Alexander Volkanovski and Max Holloway.
- A planned UFC trip back to Canada, which was slated to take place on September 17 in Toronto, is now on hold due to undisclosed reasons, though the uptick in COVID-19 cases appears to be the reason. There is still hope the Octagon can return to Canada sometime before 2022 is over.
- I won’t get much into it, but Bryce Mitchell shouldn’t be doing podcast interviews. However, the things he says will always get him to be a guest on certain shows, but he needs to really watch what he says, because it could hurt his career (especially if you’re going to say the government was behind a school shooting that left 19 children dead.)
- In what was a surprising bit of news, Bellator has granted permission for Michael ‘Venom’ Page to take on Mike Perry in a bare knuckle fight that will headline BKFC 27 in London on August 20. Bellator has often let their fighters take all kinds of fights for other promotions during times of inactivity, as Page wanted to fight in the summer but they said they don’t have a spot for him until at least October. That fight against Perry will be interesting.
The Crystal Ball
In the debut edition of The Crystal Ball, I look at all of the winners from UFC 275 and what might be next for them:
- Jiri Prochazka became the new UFC Light Heavyweight Champion in an improbable submission win with 28 seconds to go over Glover Teixeira. With the way the fight played out, the only real choice for his first title defense is an immediate rematch with Glover Teixeira. That’s the fight to make.
- Valentina Shevchenko won a narrow split decision over Taila Santos, but it marked her seventh title defense of the UFC Women’s Flyweight Championship. She talked about possibly challenging the winner of the upcoming fight between Julianna Pena and Amanda Nunes, but she also talked about an interesting possible next challenger. If she beats Lauren Murphy at UFC 276 on 7/2, I see Shevchenko fighting Miesha Tate for her next title defense.
- Zhang Weili got the incredible second-round knockout of Joanna Jedrzejczyk with a spinning back fist and looked better than ever in doing so. She called for a title shot, specifically mentioning wanting it to happen at UFC 281 in Abu Dhabi on October 22. That makes sense as the show needs at least one title fight, so he challenging UFC Women’s Strawweight Champion Carla Esparza is next.
- Jake Matthews turned in a career-best performance with his second-round knockout of Andre Fialho. His striking was crisp and powerful and he had Fialho in trouble pretty much the entire fight. He talked about wanting to fight on the Paris card on 9/3, and that seems feasible. I would like to see him fight Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos next.
- Jack Della Maddalena moved to 2-0 since signing his UFC deal with another impressive first-round knockout, this time of Ramazan Emeev. Maddalena has potential to be a star for the Australian market, and he has 12 straight wins now. The crystal ball says he fights Matthew Semelsberger next.
- Josh Culibao likely secured himself a new UFC deal with his decision win over Seungwoo Choi in an exciting fight, and it marked his second straight win. Culibao is showing improvement and I would like to see him fight Julian Erosa next.
- Hayisaer Maheshate had an impressive UFC debut on Saturday as he knocked out Steve Garcia with a big right hand in just 74 seconds. Maheshate is the youngest Chinese lightweight on the roster and it’s still early in his career, so I imagine he’ll be brought along slowly. I could see him fighting someone new next, but for the sake of the column, the crystal ball sees him fighting Genaro Valdez next.
- Brendan Allen continued to impress with a hard fought decision win over Jacob Malkoun. It was a close fight, but it marked Allen’s second straight win, and he’s 4-1 over his last five. He’s close to the rankings, but I don’t see him fighting a ranked opponent next. Instead, I see him fighting the winner of the fight between Joaquin Buckley and Albert Duraev, which takes place this upcoming week, next.
- Kyung Ho Kang scored a decision win over Danaa Batgerel in a fun fight, which got Kang back into the win column. He’s 7-2 in his last nine and he looked good on Saturday. The crystal ball says he fights Davey Grant next.
- Silvana Gomez Juarez scored a knockout of Liang Na in 1:22 to score her first UFC win. She’s now 1-2 inside the Octagon and will be looking to get some momentum going in her next fight. The crystal ball says she fights Piera Rodriguez next.
- Joselyne Edwards won a decision over Ramona Pascual in the opening fight in a close fight. It ended a two-fight losing skid and likely gets her a new deal after her first four fights have been completed. This was at featherweight, but I see her going back down to bantamweight next. The crystal ball says she fights Stephanie Egger next.
The Chopping Block
In the debut edition of The Chopping Block, I look at those who came up on the losing end from UFC 275 and whether they should worry or not:
- Glover Teixeira had a heart-breaking loss to Jiri Prochazka in the main event, losing the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship in an instant classic. There was talk during the week about what Teixeira’s future would be, especially with a loss. He confirmed he’s GOING NOWHERE and I see an immediate rematch coming next.
- Taila Santos gave Valentina Shevchenko arguably her toughest fight to date, especially at flyweight, and came up ever so short in her attempt to become a UFC champion. To make matters worse, she suffered a broken orbital bone and will need surgery. Her future is SAFE for sure, and a few wins could get her another shot at the title.
- Joanna Jedrzejczyk announced her retirement after her loss to Zhang Weili. Happy trails to Joanna Champion. Her next stop: UFC HALL OF FAME.
- Andre Fialho just looked flat in his second-round knockout loss at the hands of Jake Matthews. I talked about being worried that fighting three times in eight weeks would catch up to him, and it started to feel like he was looking to the future when he was talking during the week about fighting again in July. He’s 2-2 thus far during his UFC tenure and he’ll be SAFE since he likes to fight often, but he needs to slow things down.
- Ramazan Emeev suffered a first-round knockout loss to Jack Della Maddalena on Saturday, which marked his second straight loss. He is 2-3 in his last five fights after starting his UFC run with three straight wins. He doesn’t have an exciting style and right now I’d say it’s 50/50 whether he gets another UFC fight.
- Seungwoo Choi was in yet another exciting fight, but he dropped a split decision to Josh Culibao, his second straight loss. He’s 3-4 during his UFC run. My gut feeling is that he’s LIKELY SAFE but a third straight loss would signal a release.
- Steve Garcia suffered a 74-second knockout loss to Hayisaer Maheshate on Saturday, which moved him to 1-2 during his UFC tenure. With him being a product of the Contender Series, it wouldn’t surprise me if he got a third fight, but I think he’ll be CUT with the upcoming influx of new talent.
- Jacob Malkoun completed the fourth fight, likely the last fight on his first UFC deal, with a decision loss to Brendan Allen on Saturday. He’s 2-2 thus far during his UFC tenure, but with him being one of Robert Whittaker’s top training partners, I feel he’ll get a NEW CONTRACT but he’ll need to rack up some wins quickly.
- Danaa Batgerel dropped a decision to Kyung Ho Kang in a fun little scrap. It’s his second straight loss, but he did take this fight on short notice, which will give him some leeway, plus he tends to be in exciting fights. He’s SAFE for now but will need a win in his next fight.
- Liang Na was on the wrong end of a first-round knockout at the hands of Silvana Gomez Juarez. She’s 0-2 so far during her UFC tenure. She’s from China, which may mean she gets one more shot. I say she’s SAFE from the chopping block for now.
- Ramona Pascual lost a close decision to Joselyne Edwards. There was a strong case that she could’ve won the fight. However, the loss puts her at 0-2 thus far and she fights at featherweight, which there aren’t a lot of those. I say it’s a 75% chance she’s CUT but could be brought back, especially if she drops a weight class.
Here are the fights that were announced over the past week:
- Kennedy Nzechukwu vs. Karl Roberson — UFC Fight Night — July 9
- Alexandre Pantoja vs. Alex Perez — UFC 277 — July 30
- Dominick Cruz vs. Marlon Vera — UFC Fight Night — August 13 (MAIN EVENT)
- Malcolm Gordon vs. Allan Nascimento — UFC Fight Night — August 13
- UFC Welterweight Champion Kamaru Usman vs. Leon Edwards — UFC 278 — August 20 (MAIN EVENT)
- Trevin Giles vs. Louis Cosce — UFC Fight Night — September 17 (moved from September 10)
- Nikolas Motta vs. Cameron VanCamp — UFC Fight Night — September 17 (moved from September 10)
- Trey Ogden vs. Daniel Zellhuber — UFC Fight Night — September 17 (moved from September 10)
- Tabatha Ricci vs. Cheyanne Vlismas — UFC Fight Night — October 1
The Pink Slip
Unfortunately, there were some fighters who got the unfortunate news this week that they’ll be in search of a new promotion to fight for in their next bouts. Here is who hit the free agent market this week:
- Louis Smolka, who suffered a third-round knockout loss to Davey Grant at UFC on ESPN 36 on 5/14, as he was released from his contract. He was in his second UFC stint, but went 3-4 and suffered losses in three of his last four fights.
- Frank Camacho, who suffered a first-round knockout loss to Manuel Torres at UFC on ESPN 36 on 5/14, as he was released from his contract. He went 2-6 with the promotion, ending with three straight losses.
- Alex da Silva, who suffered a decision loss to Joe Solecki at UFC on ESPN+ 65 on 6/4, as his contract wasn’t renewed. He ends his UFC stint with a 1-3 record.
- Andreas Michailidis, who suffered a decision loss to Rinat Fakhretdinov at UFC on ESPN+ 65 on 6/4, as his contract wasn’t renewed. He ends his UFC stint with a 1-3 record.
- TJ Laramie, who suffered a decision loss to Pat Sabatini at UFC on ESPN 34 on 4/16, as he was released from his contract. He was winless in his two UFC outings. This one came as a surprise to me.
- Tristan Connelly, who suffered a decision loss to Darren Elkins at UFC on ESPN 35 on 4/30, as he was released from his contract. He went 1-2 during his UFC tenure, but with two straight losses. I was also surprised at this one as I thought he’d get a fourth fight.
- Felipe Colares, who suffered a third-round knockout loss to Chase Hooper at UFC on ESPN+ 64 on 5/21, as he was released from his contract. He went 2-4 during his six-fight UFC run.
- Niklas Stolze, who suffered a second-round submission loss to Benoit Saint-Denis at UFC on ESPN+ 65 on 6/4, as he was released from his contract. He went winless during his three UFC fights.
Coming Up This Week
Here are some of the notable MMA events taking place this upcoming week:
- UFC on ESPN 37 takes place on Saturday, June 18, from the Moody Center in Austin, Texas. The main card airs on ESPN at 7 p.m. ET, and the prelims air on ESPN News at 4 p.m. ET. Calvin Kattar takes on Josh Emmett in the main event.
- PFL 4 takes place on Friday, June 17 from the Overtime Elite Arena in Atlanta, Georgia. The main card airs on ESPN at 10 p.m. ET, and the prelims air on ESPN+ at 7 p.m. ET.
- Lux Fight League 23 takes place on Friday, June 17 from Puebla, Mexico, airing at 7 p.m. ET on UFC Fight Pass.
- CES 69 takes place on Friday, June 17 from Lincoln, Rhode Island, airing at 8 p.m. ET on UFC Fight Pass.
In The Clinch
This week on In The Clinch, myself and Paul Fontaine will look back at UFC 275 and the latest episode of The Ultimate Fighter. We will also look ahead to UFC on ESPN 37, plus look at all of the news and notes of the week. In The Clinch is part of The Fight Game Media Network, with all podcasts available FREE on Apple Podcasts and Spotify. You can also support all shows thru our Patreon page.