This Week in MMA (12/20-12/27)—Plenty of Fight Announcements and a Fight-Card Break
Although Christmas week didn’t feature an MMA show from any of the leading promotions, there were still some very interesting developments made for future contests—certainly, the timing of these announcements wasn’t a coincidence!
Especially because of these announcements, MMA fans have more than ever to look forward to. Let’s take a look at some of the awesome MMA developments of the week!
Bellator and WSOF Book Interesting Contests
The week started off strong in terms of fight developments, as Bellator and WSOF unveiled three very interesting contests.
First, it was revealed that former UFC heavyweight Cheick Kongo will meet the undefeated Augusto Sakai at Bellator 150 on February 26th. Although Kongo has come up short in the promotion against King Mo and Vitaly Minakov (the heavyweight champion), he’s still riding a relative tear; his latest upset victory over Alexander Volkov demonstrated that he’s still a very talented and powerful heavyweight athlete.
As for Sakai, there’s quite a bit for fans to get excited about; at just twenty-four years of age, the Brazilian has commanded nine consecutive victories and has a perfect professional record. Moreover, three of these victories have come in Bellator, and seven of these nine victories have been secured via KO, TKO, or submission.
The gritty and still-relevant veteran versus the dangerous up-and-comer is an interesting angle, and the fight has the makings of a contest to remember.
The World Series of Fighting kept in-line with the general trend of announcing fights closer to their scheduled date, as the main and co-main events of WSOF 27 (which is scheduled for January 23rd) were revealed.
In the main event of the night, UFC and TUF veteran Mike Ricci will battle One FC and Strikeforce veteran, Caros Fodor.
Perhaps one of the more underrated fighters in the game today, Caros Fodor has a solid overall skillset, as well as a 3-1 record in One FC, and a 5-1 record in Strikeforce. He’s definitely a worthy opponent for Ricci, who has been dominant since his departure from the UFC.
The Tristar-MMA product has been undefeated since his split-decision loss to Myles Jury, and most recently defeated Joe Condon via head-kick knockout at WSOF’s lightweight tournament. Despite winning the contest, Ricci suffered an injury and was unable to proceed to the next round of the tournament. Nevertheless, the TUF runner-up has never been better, and will certainly entertain in this main-event slot.
The card’s co-main event contest was also announced and is worthy of its billing. WSOF’s own Teddy Holder (the man most well-known for upsetting Thiago Silva) will clash with the undefeated Russian finisher, Shamil Gamzatov. Although the powerful Russian certainly has some skills, at least, this will be a true test; Gamzatov’s prior wins have come over generally weak opposition, and Teddy Holder most certainly represents a major step-up in competition.
All of the action is scheduled to go down on January 23rd, live on NBCSN, in Memphis, Tennessee.
Early UFC Competitor Emmanuel Yarborough Passes Away at 51
Emmanuel Yarborough—who competed at UFC 3, as well as Pride 3—has passed away at 51 years of age.
The sumo-wrestling background of Yarborough, as well as his general fighting style, made him a fan favorite. And although his passing is especially sad given its closeness to the holidays, Yarborough will certainly be remembered for the role that he played in MMA’s early years.
UFC Fight Night London is Greatly Improved
A fight card that was scheduled to be solid—but not incredible—has just become a whole lot more interesting.
UFC Fight Night London (UFN 83) has a new main event— a clash between Michael Bisping and Anderson Silva that most fans have been interested in for years. Bisping was pulled from his scheduled contest with Gegard Mousasi (which was already an awesome fight), and the Brazilian was promoted to the card.
Simply put, most every fan will want to see this one.
It was also revealed that Gegard Mousasi will remain on the card as a new opponent is actively being sought.
As if all of this wasn’t enough, another awesome fight was announced for UFN 83, as English finisher Jimi Manuwa will battle the skilled and always-exciting Nikita Krylov. Especially for the fans that know the game, this is an incredible contest—and one that could end in an especially large number of spectacular methods.
The only downside to all of this, for many fans, is that the card will only be available for live viewing on UFC Fight Pass. The promotion is clearly playing hardball with its digital subscription service, as quite a few fans would tune in to see the entire card on live TV.
Nevertheless, the fights should be awesome (and for those who are still angry and/or uninterested in paying for the digital service, perhaps its week-long free trial could come in handy!).
Kelvin Gastelum Withdraws from UFC 195
In a late development (UFC 195 is scheduled for January 2nd), TUF-winner Kelvin Gastelum has withdrawn from his scheduled contest against Kyle Noke.
Gastelum was looking to make a quick return to the cage after his late-November loss to Neil Magny, in a fight that was, frankly, designed to get him back on his winning ways (for as solid of a fighter as Noke is, a Gastelum win was undoubtedly what was envisioned when the fight was booked).
The surging Legacy FC fighter, Alex Morono, has stepped-up to battle Noke—a very daring move when the closeness to the bout alone is considered, not to mention the flight time and preparation challenges presented by a foreign country!
One Championship Announces New Weigh-in Procedures
One Championship has announced a new weigh-in system following the tragic death of Jianbing Yang.
The system, honestly, appears to be rather complex; perhaps this is a good thing, and perhaps it isn’t. The best indicator of the method’s viability, however, is its use—the way that it is implemented and enforced. And of course, this remains to be seen.
Certainly, though, it is a step in the right direction (at the very least). The vast majority of fans (and quite a few fighters) would like to see the sport’s general weight-cutting procedures amended to care more for the safety of the athletes. Hopefully, One’s system will be successful, and similar systems will be adopted by other promotions.
This week may not have featured any fights, but there were certainly some interesting developments. Additionally, 2016 is being kicked-off with an MMA bang. Rizin will air its two events on Spike on the 31st, and the UFC will head down under for UFC 195, which features Robbie Lawler defending his title against Carlos Condit, on January 2nd.
Needless to say, 2016 is going to be a good year for MMA fans. Enjoy the fights!