Weekly MMA Breakdown: Interesting Announcements, Better Fights
This week contained a bunch of news—and fights—that MMA fans certainly enjoyed. Let’s take a look at the announcements and bouts of the MMA world this week (11-15—11-22)!
Former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones excited quite a few of his fans—and detractors—with an Instagram post that showed his evidently improved physique, as well as a potential return date to the Octagon: April 23rd.
Although many fans are scoffing at the rematch now, Cormier vs. Jones 2 is actually a very solid fight and one that will undeniably be a difficult task for both men.
It’ll be good to see Bones competing again soon—let’s just hope he stays out of trouble and legally compliant outside of the cage, as the next straw will likely be the one that breaks the camel’s back.
Bellator Makes Exciting Announcements
As was mentioned last week, Bellator unveiled plans to hold a show in London next year, and it turns out the promotion has even more territorial expansion planned. In addition to the London card, Bellator announced that it would hold bouts in Italy and Israel in 2016.
This is an exciting development for Bellator and its fighters, as well as the fans in the listed locations. Moreover, the move is strategically beneficial, as the UFC has yet to bring cards to either Italy or Israel.
The promotion also announced several intriguing bouts.
Instead of fighting each other, veterans Josh Koscheck and Paul Daley will battle different opponents in the main and co-main events of Bellator 148 on January 29th.
Koscheck will battle Matt Secor while Daley will lock horns with Andy Uhrich. The promotion’s intentions are clear, in setting up the rematch between Koscheck and Daley, but neither man is a lock to win their fight. Uhrich may be able to give Daley a hard time, but Secor—who is currently riding a three-fight win streak—may very well secure the victory.
It appears to be an unnecessarily risky move by Bellator to further promote the Daley-Koscheck 2 fight.
The promotion also announced even more exciting fights, including:
The explosive Brian Rogers battling the durable and exciting Virgil Zwicker at Bellator 147 (on the main card). Also on the Bellator 147 main card, undefeated lightweight Adam Piccolotti will compete against the dangerous Team Alpha Male product, Mario Soto.
Finally, Bellator 147 was completed by the announcement of its main event, Pitbull vs. Anderson 2. During his three-fight-skid a few years back, Patricky Pitbull lost an upset decision to the then-undefeated Derek Anderson. Now better-than-ever, the two will lock horns yet again, in a surprisingly well-made bout.
The UFC Announces Two Solid Fights
Although the fight announcements made by the UFC (during this week) weren’t quite as plentiful as those made by Bellator, the contests that the promotion did reveal certainly are awesome.
First, Dennis Bermudez and Maximo Blanco were announced to compete on January 17th, at UFC Fight Night: Cruz vs. Dillashaw in Boston. Both explosive and exciting—and in Blanco’s case, entirely unpredictable—athletes, the two should put on an interesting fight.
Also, UFC 195 (headlined by Carlos Condit and Robbie Lawler) was complemented with the addition of the talented Brian Ortega battling the TUF 14-winner, Diego Brandao. It may not get the press that it deserves, but this is an extremely interesting match.
Bellator 146 Delivers Excitement, Brutal Finishes
An exciting and explosive overall card, Bellator 146 delivered for the fans attending live in Oklahoma, as well as those watching on television.
The main event featured the always-dangerous Melvin Manhoef slugging it out with fearless fellow-striker, Hisaki Kato.
Kato chose to remain on the feet against Mahoef, despite the fact that “No Mercy” has sent quite a few opponents out of the cage on stretchers as a result of his devastating power. Kato achieved some impressive success on the feet, and for a while, it appeared as though his strategy was a good one.
Until Manhoef, who appeared to be hurt, landed a vicious left hook—ending the fight, as well as his two-fight losing streak.
Amidst talks of retirement from the fans, Manhoef proved that he’s still a dangerous and able competitor. Moreover, both he and Kato bring it every time they step into the cage, and it really will be a pleasure to watch them compete in the future.
In the co-main event, Brandon Girtz devastated Derek Campos early into their fight, securing the victory via knockout. It was quick and explosive, and in avenging his earlier loss to Campos—especially when his previous win over Melvin Guillard is considered—Girtz has successfully demonstrated that he really is a new-and-improved fighter who fans will need to keep an eye on.
WSOF’s Eight-Man, One-Night Lightweight Tournament Excites
In terms of MMA fight results and injuries, the tournament could have gone smoother for WSOF, but nevertheless, it sure was fun to watch.
As Mike Ricci and Islam Mamedov (a Tristar athlete and TUF runner-up, and training partner of Khabib Nurmagomedov, respectively) secured wins in the first round of the tournament but were injured while doing so, they withdrew from the remainder of the night’s fights.
Accordingly, two men who lost their opening bouts—Brian Foster via submission, and Jorge Patino via decision (yes, the same Patino who competed against Pat Miletich in 1999!)—were able to re-enter the tournament. Thankfully for the fans, as well as the WSOF, the Arizona Athletic Commission was more-than-lenient in its medical suspensions and limitations for the fighters.
The excitement reached its peak in the tournament finals when Brian Foster—who impressively defeated Luis Palomino in his tournament re-entry—squared off with the man who submitted him initially, Joao Zeferino. This time, however, the American remained calm and explosive, avoiding the heel hook and securing the knockout win.
Certainly, all of the tournament competitors deserve the fans’ respect, especially those who re-entered the tournament after losing decisively in the same night!
It’s hard to say if we’ll get to see another one-night tournament like this, but it can be generally agreed that it was fun to watch this time around.
UFC Mexico Crowns TUF Winners, Has Exciting Main Event
Complementing the weekend’s exciting action, UFC Mexico was a solid all-around card.
In the first TUF final there wasn’t any question of the winner, as Enrique Barzola convincingly dominated Horacio Gutierrez. Barzola’s superior wrestling and ground skills allowed him to nab the victory—and the TUF Lightweight Title—without much danger.
The other TUF final bout between Erick Montano and Enrique Marin wasn’t quite so clear-cut. The two welterweights—who are also close friends—battled to a close split-decision verdict, with Montano securing two of the judges’ approval, as well as the TUF title.
The co-main and main event really picked the card up in terms of excitement and overall energy.
In his featherweight debut, longtime competitor and TUF 1-winner Diego Sanchez excited fans and demonstrated his warrior spirit yet again, but was unable to achieve any sizable success against the elite Ricardo Lamas. Lamas’ well-mixed arsenal of strikes and takedowns, along with his ability to remain disciplined and keep some distance between himself and Sanchez, allowed him to grab the unanimous-decision victory.
The co-main event was an ultra-close and very exciting bout between the TUF 17-winner Kelvin Gastelum and the last-minute replacement (and ever-improving fighter) Neil Magny.
Magny secured a good deal of early success in the grappling department, and just when it appeared as though he was on his way to cruising to a decision victory, Gastelum landed some cracking shots on the feet.
Magny was dropped with strikes twice in the fourth round, entering into survival mode (successfully). He then went on to likely lose the fifth and final round, allowing the fight’s decision to depend entirely upon the scoring of the third round (10-9 or 10-8).
In the end, Magny secured the split decision, demonstrating through his performance that he’s an outstanding and ever-improving athlete. The fight was close, but will do well to remind fans of just how far Magny has come in terms of skills and abilities. That and that Kelvin Gastelum can never be counted out of a fight!
The week was solid for MMA fight announcements but even better for actual fights. Hopefully, next week will provide just as much exciting action!