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This will be the second to last fight on the prelims tomorrow night, as NCAA Division I wrestler Frankie Saenz takes on Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt Marlon Vera. A few things stand out to me about this fight, aside from the simple fact that I’ve been watching them both since 2014. They are both trying to crack the top 15, they’re also both looking to make it three wins in a row. Each of these men also have 18 fights, Frankie has won 13 of them, and Marlon has won 12 of them and had a draw. This should be a fun bantamweight clash for us fans to watch.
Frankie Saenz won three different titles before joining the UFC; he won the WFF Featherweight Championship in his fourth professional fight, improving to 4-0 before losing his next two. With a record of 4-2, he fought for the Coalition of Combat Featherweight Championship, and won via majority decision. He then made both his bantamweight debut and KOTC debut, winning the KOTC Bantamweight Championship, and defended it twice before vacating it to join the UFC with an 8-2 record. He won his first three fights in the UFC, a unanimous decision over the 4-1 Tim Ticman, a unanimous decision over the 32-5 Iuri Alcantara, and a split decision over the 12-2 Sirwan Kakai.
Sanez then went on a little bit of a rough patch, and dropped his next three. The first of which he went into with an 11-2 record, and fought the former WEC Featherweight Champion Urijah Faber. Urijah almost finished Frankie in the second round but Frankie gutted through it and made it to the scorecards. His next fight would also be against a former WEC Champion, this time the former bantamweight king, Eddie Wineland; he was doing great in the fight, and most even had him winning it, before getting dropped with a beautiful right cross and finished moments after, about two minutes into round three.
His next outing was against the 5-1 Augusto Mendes, who’d only fought once in the UFC in a losing effort to Cody Garbrandt. Mendes has 17 medals in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, ranging from the Pan American Championships, to the World Championships, to the Brazilian National Championships, to the World Cup, and many more. Augusto was able to out wrestle Saenz, getting four takedowns to the Division I wrestlers zero, and was able to out strike him by 25 more total strikes. Frankie Saenz lost this fight via split decision, and I was just hoping that he wouldn’t get his pink slip from the UFC.
He didn’t get cut, and his next fight was against Merab Dvalishvili in December 2017, the fight didn’t really go his way, but the decision did. Many thought Merab did enough to win the decision, but he fell short via split decision. It was a competitive, back and fourth fight for sure, Saenz landed more significant strikes with 58 to Merab’s 47, and had better accuracy with them; however, Merab landed more total strikes with 104 to Frankie’s 66, and also landed eleven takedowns to Frankie’s zero. It’s not all bad though, Merab Dvalishvili is still in the UFC, and if Frankie Saenz would’ve lost this fight, he wouldn’t be.
His last fight was a good performance against Henry Briones, who he out struck in both total strikes and significant strikes, and was able to gain four takedowns, and gave up none; that’s much better than his last couple fights. He appears to be on the right track again, he is however 38 years old, I have to wonder how much he has left. Marlon Vera just turned 26, and is not an easy opponent either, he’s an elite mixed martial artist.
Marlon Vera is a very dangerous fighter, everywhere. He has nasty Muay Thai, and high level Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu; he can knock you out, he can submit you off his back or from the top, he has relentless, aggressive pressure. He’s no fun for anyone that fights him. Before being forced off The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America with a skin infection, he went 1-0 on the show with a KO win over Henry Briones, that’s a guy Cody Garbrandt couldn’t knock out that he starched with an upkick. Marlon made his UFC debut with a record of 6-1-1; he started off his UFC career 1-2, losing to guys he’d almost indefinitely beat at this point, as he dropped a pair of unanimous decisions to Marco Beltran and Davey Grant, and inbetween the defeats had a triangle choke victory over Ramon Salzar. He was so young then, he has evolved into quite the dangerous, well rounded, high level cage fighter.
By this time he was 7-3-1, and he was about to start his first UFC win streak, firstly he picked up a unanimous decision over Ning Guangyou. He next defeated Brad Pickett via head kick and punches at 3:50 of round three in a very entertaining fight, and next won via armbar against Brian Kelleher, a guy who submitted BJJ black belt Iuri Alcantara in his UFC debut. At 10-3-1, he would drop his next two, both via unanimous decision to John Lineker and Douglas Silva de Andrade. Firstly, I think he’d win the de Andrade rematch, but that’s my opinion, and secondly I think it’s very impressive simply just to not get knocked out by John Lineker. He is back to his winning ways with a pair of second round finishes, as he picked up a TKO over Wuliji Buren last August; and submitted the man that replaced him on TUF, Guido Cannetti, a fight he won via rear naked choke. Marlon Vera is absolutely a finisher, he has three wins via knockout, seven wins via submission, and two wins via decision; while his opponent Frankie Saenz also hold three wins via knockout, he has just two submissions, and eight decisions. Mr. Saenz also holds a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, but I’m not sure it will hold up against Marlon’s submission game, we will see! Out of Saenz’ losses, two are knockouts, two are decisions, and one is a disqualification; and out of Vera’s losses, all five are decisions, he’s tough as nails, as is Frankie.
As I said, both of these guys are looking to make it three in a row; Frankie Saenz is on a two fight decision streak, and Marlon Vera’s on a two fight finish streak. Marlon is 5’8” and Frankie is 5’6”, and Marlon has a five inch reach advantage on Frankie; however, it is generally easier for wrestlers to have success when they’re the shorter party, and Saenz has never been submitted before. 13-5 vs 12-5-1, NCAA Division I vs BJJ black belt.
Who takes it?
Friday, March 22nd – WinStar World Casino in Thackerville, Oklahoma
Bellator returns after a month away to Thackerville, Oklahoma as Emmanuel Sanchez is set to rematch Georgi Karakhanyan – a fight that went Sanchez’s way the first time via majority decision; Karakhanyan returns to Bellator after a two-fight stint with ACB. The co-main event features Valentin Moldavsky taking on Linton Vassell, who is moving up to heavyweight.
The main card kicks off @ 9:00PM ET/6:00PM PT on the Paramount Network.
Main Card (Paramount Network 9:00PM ET/6:00PM PT)
- Featherweight Bout: Emmanuel Sanchez def. Georgi Karakhanyan via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
- Heavyweight Bout: Valentin Moldavsky def. Linton Vassell via unanimous decision (29-27, 29-27, 29-27)
- Middleweight Bout: Anatoly Tokov def. Gerald Harris via submission (guillotine choke) 0:37, R2
- Middleweight Bout: Norbert Novenyi def. Will Lavine via submission (head & arm choke) 4:05, R2
Maycee Barber was all smiles after her UFC debut in November and had reason to be. The 20-year-old is currently the youngest fighter on the roster and is undefeated at amateur and pro (6-0). The Colorado native has been involved in the fight game since the age of 3, starting with karate and dabbling in everything from BJJ to boxing up until her pro debut in 2017. Fighting out of Fort Collins Martial Arts Academy, ‘The Future’ is back in action this weekend opening up the main card in Nashville against her toughest test to date, J.J. Aldrich.
Barber had cut her teeth in Legacy Fighting Alliance to begin her career, going 4-0 with three finishes (two by submission, one by ground and pound). Barber’s ground and pound has been on display her last three fights, and when she gets on top and in position, there’s very few who’d be able to withstand it. In her last fight for LFA against Audrey Perkins, Barber caught Perkins’ kick and transitioned to a straight armbar before finishing the fight with relentless G&P.
After her LFA run, Barber was invited to main event Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series and didn’t disappoint. In the 3rd round, Barber finished Jamie Colleen with that same ground and pound that ended her last fight and scored a contract.
Barber then made her debut at UFC Denver last November and faced off against fellow newcomer Hannah Cifers. Barber opened a lot of eyes with a brutal 2nd round stoppage of Cifers while taking minimal damage in the fight.
Barber wants to be a household name along with being the youngest UFC champion ever, and she has a little under 3 years to do so. Standing in her way this weekend is J.J. Aldrich. Aldrich is on a 3-fight win streak after losing her debut, besting Chan-Mi Jeon, Danielle Taylor and most recently Polyana Viana at UFC 227. Barber will make the move to flyweight, where she will have more strength and power to add to her skillset. You can watch ‘The Future’ open up the main card.
UFC Fight Night: Thompson Vs. Pettis streams live on ESPN+ with the main card starting at 8:00PM ET/5:00PM PT.
Cool, calm and collected; three words that characterise Jorge Masvidal during the run up to his main event clash with Darren Till at UFC Fight Night London.
These three words also serve to describe the American Top Team mainstay’s approach after falling victim to a straight left from Till early on before landing a vicious knockout on the Liverpudlian in the second round.
After a shaky opening minute, Jorge forced a change in the tide in hostile territory and he began fighting from the fence and countering ‘The Gorilla’ on numerous occasions.
Despite the damaging shots from ‘Gamebred’, Till called the striker on and payed the ultimate price mid-way through the second round – a left overhand which completely switched his lights off.
Masvidal followed up with a right hand, and after Darren collided with the canvas beneath, he was met with a left hand before Marc Goddard peeled him off.
Till was ranked at third in the UFC welterweight division heading into the clash. The vicious victory over the one time title challenger in Till will surely catapult him through the top ten into a potential title eliminator at the very least.
Leon Edwards: Bad blood is almost an understatement at this stage.
A heated altercation between the two after the culmination of Saturday’s card resulted in Jorge landing a “three piece and a soda” on Leon, who interrupted his post fight interview with Laura Sanko.
Edwards is alleged to have called for a July meeting with Masvidal which resulted in Jorge’s retaliation, and this ‘beef’ between the pair is sure to escalate in the coming days and weeks.
Edwards looked great against submission specialist Gunnar Nelson in the co-headliner and called for the winner of the subsequent main event in his Octagon interview with Dan Hardy. How about the UFC pit them together for UFC 239 during International Fight Week?
Ben Askren: One man with a keen eye on proceedings on Saturday night was recent UFC debutante Ben Askren. The undefeated wrestling phenom was in attendance at the O2 Arena and was widely expected to be paired off with the main event winner.
‘Funky’ Ben and Darren Till exchanged some barbs via Twitter in recent weeks, but Jorge’s emergence from London with the victory sets up a tantalizing bout with the former ONE FC lightweight kingpin.
A successful debut win over Robbie Lawler, albeit a vexed win, seen the Olympian slotted right in at the number six spot at 170lbs. Similarly to a potential Edwards meeting, a July date would be ideal for this one.
Stephen Thompson vs. Anthony Pettis Winner: Despite spending some considerable time in the same division in among the upper echelon contenders, Jorge Masvidal and Anthony Pettis are yet to meet in the Octagon. This striking affair becomes a legitimate possibility if the division jumper Pettis overcomes ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson in Nashville this weekend.
The three men in question are absolute snipers on the feet in contrasting ways. A bout would be sure to offer fireworks.
Despite already meeting back in late 2017, Thompson and ‘Gamebred’ could easily run it back considering the ongoing personal issues Masvidal was dealing with and has since thankfully resolved.
Kamaru Usman: The least likely match up realistically, but the champ is supposedly chomping at the bit at the prospect of defending his crown against Jorge Masvidal.
Usman displayed a flawless grappling game to neutralize long time champion Tyron Woodley at UFC 235 and is already chalked up to fight Colby Covington in the coming months once he recovers from surgery on his broken foot.
I’m sure Jorge also has no problem leapfrogging fellow American Top Team teammate, Covington into contention judging by his post fight comments where he expressed how “his kids need to eat and go to college”.
Who is your favourite matchup for the Miami based scrapper? I think we can agree, whomever is considered, they are all offering fireworks.
Saturday, March 16th – The O2 Arena in London, England
The UFC is back in London at about the same time they were last year, and the card is headlined by Liverpool’s Darren Till and Jorge Masvidal, who is back in action for the first time since November 2017. The co-main event pits streaking Leon Edwards against Iceland’s Gunnar Nelson and filling out the card is an important light heavyweight matchup between Volkan Oezdemir and Dominick Reyes, London’s own Nathaniel Wood and the return of Joe Duffy.
The preliminaries kick off @ 1:00PM ET/10:00AM PT with the main card starting @ 4:00PM ET/1:00PM PT streaming live on ESPN+.
Main Card (ESPN+ 4:00PM ET/1:00PM PT)
- 5-Round Welterweight Bout: Jorge Masvidal def. Darren Till via KO (punch) 3:05, R2
- Welterweight Bout: Leon Edwards def. Gunnar Nelson via split decision (28-29, 29-27, 29-28)
- Light Heavyweight Bout: Dominick Reyes def. Volkan Oezdemir via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
- Bantamweight Bout: Nathaniel Wood def. José Alberto Quiñónez via submission (rear-naked choke) 2:46, R2
- Welterweight Bout: Cláudio Silva def. Danny Roberts via verbal submission (armbar) 3:37, R3
- Catchweight Bout (188): Jack Marshman def. John Phillips via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Preliminary Card (ESPN+ 1:00PM ET/10:00AM PT)
- Featherweight Bout: Arnold Allen def. Jordan Rinaldi via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-27, 29-28)
- Lightweight Bout: Marc Diakiese def. Joseph Duffy via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Light Heavyweight Bout: Saparbek Safarov def. Nicolae Negumereanu via unanimous decision (29-26, 29-26, 29-27)
- Featherweight Bout: Dan Ige def. Danny Henry via submission (rear-naked choke) 1:17, R1
- Women’s Flyweight Bout: Molly McCann def. Priscila Cachoeira via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
- Featherweight Bout: Mike Grundy def. Nad Narimani via TKO (punches) 4:42, R2
The wife of former UFC Interim Lightweight champion, Tony Ferguson has filed a temporary restraining order against her partner, with claims of domestic abuse.
Cristina Ferguson who lives in the Santa Ana area of California along with her husband and son, has ordered the restraining order after multiple, separate incidents which are reported to have occurred at their home since January.
Ferguson hasn’t been arrested nor charged with any crime but a domestic violence hearing is scheduled to take place on April 5th. Details of the apparent incidents are scarce at the moment, but it is reported that the order was issued after Tony took the pair’s two year-old child back to the family home before changing the locks.
Cristina and their son have since left the house after a police check up on Tony, and unidentified sources claim how he “had not slept in three days, broke apart the fire place and believed someone had placed a computer chip in his leg.” The second source worryingly tells us how Ferguson had made the claim that “someone was inside his walls”.
A phone call was made to the police by Cristina Ferguson after leaving the family home, where she claims Tony “kept throwing ‘holy water’ at her”. Ferguson has not been deemed a threat to himself or others after eventually agreeing to get an evaluation. UFC President Dana White briefly commented on the situation, telling how Ferguson was dealing with some “personal issues”.
Ferguson himself tweeted:
It remains to be seen how this incident plays out, but Cristina Ferguson has since released a statement via her lawyer regarding the ongoing matter
“Tony Ferguson is a good husband and good father to our son. The current legal proceedings are a part of a process to ensure that Tony will receive the help necessary to continue being the best possible husband and father, as well as to pursue his passion and career as a UFC champion fighter. All positive well wishes are sincerely appreciated and I hope our privacy will be respected”.
It has been announced via Russian reporter Azamat Bostanov, Khabib Nurmagomedov has disclosed his timeline for his return to the Octagon.
Since his showstopping win over Conor McGregor, the Eagle has made a decision to pause his activity in MMA in protest to the severity of charges placed on him because of the post-fight brawl at UFC 229, in comparison to Conor’s, by the Nevada Athletic State Commission.
During the UFC 229 melee post win, corner mates Zubaira and Abubakar were caught in the scrap inside of the cage after Khabib jumped outside of the cage to attack Dillon Danis. Both have received fines and suspension sentences for their part in the altercation as well.
The 30-year-old’s voluntary absence resulted in a stall in the lightweight, at which point the UFC president Dana White along with matchmakers decided to create an interim fight between the #3 ranked lightweight Poirier and The featherweight champion Max Holloway.
For the time being, Nurmagomedov is still in Dagestan taking this time interacting with the citizens of his country, waiting out the sentence.
Since Jon Jones has returned to the light heavyweight picture, the division has seen an emergence of contenders. It’s a breath of fresh air since in the last few years we have seen only a few of the same title challengers. Daniel Cormier seems to be done with the division, focusing on ending his career at heavyweight. After that, Jones has his work cut out for him. Up next for Jones could very well be Thiago Santos, who has made waves in the division after moving up from middleweight. Alexander Gustafsson will be fighting recent challenger Anthony Smith in the summer. Corey Anderson is also on a win streak and awaiting what’s next for him. Then there’s the dark horse, Dominick ‘The Devastator’ Reyes who will face former title challenger Volkan ‘No Time’ Oezdemir this weekend. If Reyes can keep his win streak going, we could very well see him next in line for a shot at the champ.
Volkan Oezdemir seems like he came out of nowhere when he was picked up by the UFC. A former kickboxer and Bellator fighter, Volkan made his debut in 2017 and won a split decision against former title challenger Ovince Saint Preux. In his next fight, he stopped the hype train and 8-fight win streak of Misha Cirkunov and then dropped title contender Jimi Manuwa. Both of those fights ended in under a minute, which explains the nickname ‘No Time’. Since then, Volkan has dropped two straight – to then champion Daniel Cormier and most recently Anthony Smith. Now on the first losing streak of his career, Volkan is in a must-win situation as the light heavyweight picture is heating up.
It’s hard to believe that Dominick Reyes debuted back in 2017 when he seems like a fresh addition to the light heavyweight title picture. The 29-year-old Reyes is undefeated at 10-0 and had one bout in LFA before signing with the UFC. Reyes finished Joachim Christensen, Jeremy Kimball, Jared Cannonier and had a near-finish on former title challenger Ovince Saint Preux back in October. Reyes is excited for the ‘brawler vs. kind-of-boxer’ matchup this weekend and is ready to show the division that it’s ‘his turn’.
UFC Fight Night: Till Vs. Masvidal streams live on ESPN+ with the main card starting at 4:00PM ET/1:00PM PT.
A UFC Women’s Flyweight Championship clash between reigning gold holder Valentina ‘Bullet’ Shevchenko and #1 ranked contender and recent division star Jessica ‘Evil’ Eye has officially landed on UFC 238.
The Chicago card takes place on June 8th from the United Centre but it is yet to be determined if Shevchenko and Eye headline the event.
Shevchenko secured the title back at UFC 231 in a vacant title bout with former foe Joanna Jedrzejczyk in a largely one sided unanimous decision, while challenger Jessica Eye established her title tilt in a less dominant decision victory over Katlyn Chookagian.
After an unsuccessful siege of the 135lbs crown against stalwart Amanda Nunes back in 2017, Valentina found instant success a Flyweight. Paired in a largely debated scheduling with Priscila Cachoeira, the Kyrgyzstan native exacted a brutally one sided beat down leaving the Brazilian cover in claret before picking up a rear-naked choke victory in the second round. 2-0 heading into her trilogy with former Strawweight champ Joanna Jedrzejczyk, the similarly technical striker Shevchenko outpointed Joanna throughout their five round affair on her way to her premier promotion championship reign. Shevchenko may have clinched the title sooner on in her Flyweight rebirth but an initial clash between herself and inaugural champion Nicco Montano fell out back at UFC 228 resulting in the vacant title match.
Perennial contender for sometime now a division lower, former Bantamweight prospect Jessica Eye has earned her first title shot in her six year stint in the organisation. We’ve also witnessed an incredible turn around in Eye’s fortunes since her move to 125lbs, ending an astonishing four fight slide last year to find herself riding a three fight win streak heading into this championship pairing. Facing the stiffest of competition at Bantamweight, Eye dropped defeats to former world champion Miesha Tate, title challengers Bethe Correia and Sara McMann and TUF 18 victor Julianna Pena, although she was severely undersized for the division. The Ohio native seen a successful return to Flyweight at the start of 2018, picking up victories over Kalindra Faria, Jessica-Rose Clark and the aforementioned Chookagian.
UFC 238 takes place on June 8th from the United Centre in Chicago, Illinois, with two potential title eliminators announced recently. The Strawweight division will witness a shake up this summer with Rose Namajunas attempting to defend her throne against Jéssica Andrade in hostile Brazil, and either striker’s opponent will be determined after UFC 238, as Tatiana Suarez meets Nina Ansaroff. On the other hand, whoever leaves Chicago with the Flyweight crown is expected to meet the winner of Katlyn Chookagian and Joanne Calderwood’s clash.
UFC 238, which will be headlined by women’s flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko and challenger Jessica Eye, just got some more marquee women matchups. In what could be #1 contender bouts, dominant strawweight prospect Tatiana Suarez finally found an opponent in Nina Ansaroff and in the flyweight division, Katlyn Chookagian faces Joanne Calderwood.
Undefeated prospect Tatiana Suarez is 4-0 in the UFC with three finishes and was having trouble finding her next opponent. After taking out former Invicta FC standout Alexa Grasso and former strawweight champ Carla Esparza, Suarez wanted a step up in competition, and she will draw #3 ranked Nina Ansaroff. Ansaroff, who is the fiancé of double champ Amanda Nunes, is riding a 4-fight win streak since starting 0-2 in the UFC. Ansaroff has picked up big wins over former Invicta FC champion Angela Hill, Randa Markos and most recently former title challenger Cláudia Gadelha back in December at UFC 231. Will Ansaroff be the answer for the Suarez who seems to have ‘future champ’ written all over her?
Pennsylvania native and #3 ranked flyweight Katlyn Chookagian will be looking to bounce back from her second professional loss after putting together a 3-fight win streak. Chookagian came into the UFC undefeated and went 4-1 before she dropped a split decision to Jessica Eye, who will challenge for the title on this very card. Chookagian draws Joanne ‘JoJo’ Calderwood who has found new life after moving up to the flyweight division. Calderwood is 3-0 in the division, most recently picking up wins over Kalindra Faria and former KSW standout Ariane Lipski. With her move to Syndicate MMA, Calderwood looks to be a threat in the division.
UFC 238: Shevchenko Vs. Eye will air live on PPV Saturday, June 8th from the United Center in Chicago, Illinois.