This Week in MMA (1/17-1-24): Sage Northcutt Gets a Last-Minute Replacement Opponent, WSOF 27 Delivers Solid Action
Although the World Series of Fighting was the only major promotion to hold an event this weekend, the week as a whole still held some exciting announcements and news for fans to enjoy. Let’s take a look!
World Series of Fighting 27: Luiz Firmino Decisions Caros Fodor, Shamil Gamzatov Debuts With a First-Round Finish Over Teddy Holder
Injuries certainly did hinder WSOF 27, but all in all, it provided an enjoyable night of action.
In the main event, seasoned veteran and late replacement (he took the fight on about two weeks’ notice) Luiz Firmino made good use of the clinch and the takedown, ultimately being awarded the victory on all three judges’ scorecards. Fodor had his moments, but in the end, the veteran experience of Firmino proved to be too much.
In the co-main event, promotional-newcomer Shamil Gamzatov dispatched Teddy Holder in the first round via strikes. The undefeated Russian has done well to establish himself as yet another elite prospect signed to the WSOF with this win alone.
WSOF 27 flowed pretty well as a whole, and it looks like even better fight cards are on the way from the World Series of Fighting.
Hector Lombard vs. Neil Magny Booked for March 20th in Brisbane, Australia; Bec Rawlings vs. Seo Hee Ham also Announced
UFC welterweight Neil Magny loves competing, and his wishes for a step-up in competition have been granted in the form of Hector Lombard.
Magny will meet the Australia-rooted Lombard on March 20th in Australia, serving as a co-main event to a Frank Mir and Mark Hunt headliner.
Magny has remained consistently active throughout his UFC career, whereas this contest will be Lombard’s first since January of 2015, when he was suspended for testing positive for anabolic steroids (why Lombard was suspended for a significantly shorter amount of time than Alexander Shlemenko, who is serving a three-year suspension for a similar offense, is anyone’s best guess).
Nevertheless, this is a great fight for the Australian fans.
A women’s strawweight contest was also added to the card, as Seo Hee Ham will compete against Bec Rawlings.
Both women are skilled, but a win here is of the utmost importance for their respective career trajectory, as the loser will likely be unable to fight the high-level athletes in the promotion again.
UFC Legend BJ Penn Officially Ends Retirement, Joins Jackson-Wink’s Team Ahead of a Speculated Bout with Nik Lentz
The former two-division champion isn’t done yet.
B.J. Penn has, to the dismay and delight of a number of fans, officially resumed his UFC career. Ahead of a bout with Nik Lentz, the legend has decided to train amongst the experts at Jackson-Wink’s MMA team.
Whether one believes this is a good idea or not, at least Penn has made the decision to train amongst some real experts of the game. This is probably the best decision he could have made in terms of a training camp.
As for the success of his return, time will, of course, tell. But for Penn’s sake and the well-being of his fans, let’s hope that he makes some notable improvements to his regiment and overall game, for as tough as he is, he will really need to be “on” to defeat Nik Lentz.
“Jacare” vs. Belfort Booked for UFC Brazil Card on March 14th
Two of the best middleweights in the world—Vitor Belfort and Jacare Souza—will clash in the main event of a March 14th UFC event in Brazil.
Jacare is coming off of a hard-fought and close decision loss to Yoel Romero, who is now unable to compete after failing a drug test.
Belfort returned to his winning ways against the legendary Dan Henderson late last year, being defeated by Chris Weidman for the title prior to that.
There’s no doubt about it—this is an awesome fight.
And although many will consider it a low blow, the fight’s location will undoubtedly benefit Belfort, who has always seemed to look more cut and muscular when competing in events sanctioned by the Brazilian Athletic Commission.
Darren Elkins Meets Chas Skelly on March 5th at UFC 197; Diego Sanchez vs. Jim Miller and Michael Johnson vs. Tony Ferguson 2 Also Announced
Two high-level featherweights will compete at UFC 197; the UFC announced this week.
Darren Elkins—a promotional veteran of six years—will lock horns with Chas Skelly, a skilled up-and-comer with only one loss to his name, and four consecutive UFC wins.
The promotion’s recent trend of announcing fights closer to their scheduled date is interesting, and watching this one play-out should be fun for the fans.
Also announced for UFC 197 is Jim Miller vs. Diego Sanchez, which will headline the Fight Pass portion of the event’s prelims.
This fight should be incredibly exciting as Sanchez and Miller are two of the most thrilling veterans in the game. Still, it’s not quite the step down in competition that each fighter desperately needs and deserves after sporting a brutal schedule for years (the better part of a decade for Miller, and for Sanchez, over ten years!).
But once again, the fans are sure to win with this one.
Finally, UFC 197 attendees and television viewers will be pleased to find that an awesome lightweight rematch between Michael Johnson and Tony Fergusson has been announced. It’s a bit of a surprise, given the current career position of each man, but it should still be an exciting contest.
The card is shaping up to be a lot of fun for the fans, and this is definitely one of the fights to watch.
Francisco Rivera Steps-Up to Battle Brad Pickett in London
It’s an easy compliment to throw around, but this really is an outstanding fight.
Pickett’s original opponent, Enrique Briones, suffered an injury and was forced to withdraw from the fight.
Now, the iron-fisted Rivera will meet the similarly styled Pickett in what should be a barnburner. Undoubtedly, both men are thrilled to compete against the other, given the exciting styles that they both possess.
This one has the early makings of “Fight of the Night”.
Sage Northcutt Gets a New Opponent and Weight Class for his Upcoming Fight
The fast-rising Sage Northcutt will still compete on the upcoming Fox 18 card, but against a different opponent, and at welterweight.
The natural lightweight’s original opponent, Andrew Holbrook, suffered a late injury, and subsequently withdrew from the contest. MMA Lab product Bryan Barberena has stepped up to fill in.
This is actually a much more difficult fight for Northcutt than many are anticipating. The ever-improving Barberena is a tough and gritty competitor who honestly has the tools to pull off the upset. It’s far from guaranteed, but a Barberena win is definitely a distinct possibility here.
This week in MMA brought some solid news and action, but next week stands to be even better. The UFC will hold its free Fox 18 card on Saturday the 30th while Bellator’s 2016 debut will come just one day prior, on Friday the 29th.
Enjoy the fights!