Opinion: Top Knockouts of 2018 – June

Alex Nicholson and Kelvin Tiller both score two of my favorite knockouts of the year @ PFL1 on June 7th

Marlon Moraes ends Jimmie Rivera’s night 33 seconds into the fight @ UFC Fight Night: Utica on June 1st

Brendan Allen faceplants Larry Crowe @ LFA 43 on June 22nd

Anthony Smith crumples Rashad Evans with a vicious knee @ UFC 225 on June 9th

Juan Archuleta uncorks a monster right hand to end Robbie Peralta’s night @ Bellator 201 on June 28th

Josh Parisian lands a spinning back fist to put Greg Rebello out on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series on June 26th

Petr Yan has a successful debut against Teruto Ishihara @ UFC Fight Night: Singapore on June 23rd

Opinion: Top Knockouts of 2018 – May

Might be my top knockout of the year, Lyoto Machida (one of my all-time favorite fighters) recreates his famous crane kick against Vitor Belfort @ UFC 224 on May 12th – this was also Vitor’s retirement fight

John ‘Hands Of Stone’ Lineker puts down Brian Kelleher @ UFC 224 on May 12th

Phil Davis lands a perfect head kick on Linton Vassell @ Bellator 200 on May 25th

Featherweight champion Kevin Aguilar knocks out interim champion Thanh Le @ LFA 40 on May 25th

Gabriel Benitez slams Humberto Bandenay on his way to a KO victory @ UFC Fight Night: Chile on May 19th

Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos puts away Sean Strickland with a spinning heel kick and punches @ UFC 224 on May 12th

Dominick Reyes drops Jared Cannonier with a short uppercut @ UFC Fight Night: Chile on May 19th

Poliana Botelho scores the fastest finish in strawweight history with vicious liver kicks to end Syuri Kondo’s night @ UFC Fight Night: Chile on May 19th

Opinion: ‘Don’t Sleep On This’ – UFC Milwaukee Edition: Jessica-Rose Clark Vs. Andrea Lee

‘Don’t Sleep on This’ is a new segment I’m going to pump out leading up to every card about a fighter and/or matchup that should not be missed (a/k/a slept on).

On this weekend’s FS1 prelims, we’ll get a marquee women’s flyweight matchup that should certainly have title implications for the winner. #10-ranked Jessica-Rose Clark will face #15-ranked Andrea ‘KGB’ Lee, two of the division’s most talked about fighters. Clark is looking to bounce back from her first loss since she ripped off a three-fight winning streak; as Lee is looking to continue her five-fight winning streak after winning her UFC debut in May.

InvictaFC vet Jessica-Rose Clark a/k/a Jessy Jess joined the UFC in November of last year and debuted with a split decision win over fellow Aussie Bec Rawlings at UFC Fight Night 121; two months later she came away with an impressive win against Paige VanZant. This past June, Clark dropped a decision against flyweight upstart Jessica Eye. Clark has decided to switch up camps for this fight, leaving Syndicate MMA, a decision that also prompted her to quit alcohol.

Screen Shot 2018-12-10 at 7.41.28 PM.png

Andrea Lee is also a former InvictaFC fighter, as well as being the former LFC and LFA women’s flyweight champion. Lee made her debut at UFC Fight Night 129 this past May and picked up a fairly dominant unanimous decision win against Veronica Macedo. 

04_LEE_VS_TRACY__006.0

In August, Lee was a victim of domestic violence, and addressed the incident, looking forward to getting back in the cage. As someone who experienced domestic violence herself, Jessica-Rose Clark offered Lee ‘sanctuary’ after the incident, even though she doesn’t know Lee personally herself. This fight also comes up not too long after another domestic abuse incident involving fellow UFC fighter Rachael Ostovich surfaced. On top of these ladies being world-class athletes and training nearly all year round, you have to admire their strength in these unfortunate situations. I’m looking forward to this fight for many reasons, but mostly because they’re going to go out there and put on a great fight. Warriors.

UFC on FOX 31: Lee Vs. Iaquinta 2 prelims air on Fox Sports 1 @ 5:00PM ET/2:00PM PT.

Report: UFC signs undefeated LFA flyweight champ Sabina Mazo

The UFC have picked up one of the hottest up-and-coming prospects in women’s MMA. Sabina ‘The Colombian Queen’ Mazo has signed with the UFC, per ESPN.

Flyweight Sabina Mazo is an undefeated (6-0) prospect out of Kings MMA who went professional in 2015. Mazo made some noise after signing with Legacy Fighting Alliance and scoring head kick knockouts in her first two fights with the organization; which awarded her a flyweight title shot after the belt was vacated by Andrea Lee. Mazo won the belt against Shannon Sinn at LFA 37 in April and then defended it just last month against Carol Yariwaki. Mazo is the first Colombian fighter to sign with the UFC and hopes to make her debut in late March/early April of 2019.

Opinion: Top Knockouts of 2018 – April

Adam Borics lands a flying knee knockout over Teodor Nikolov @ Bellator 196 on April 6th

Gilbert Burns crumples Dan Moret @ UFC Fight Night: Glendale on April 14th

Siyar Bahadurzada halts Luan Chagas with a devastating liver kick @ UFC Fight Night: Atlantic City on April 21st

Muslim Salikhov drops Ricky Rainey with a punch @ UFC Fight Night: Glendale on April 14th

Olivier Aubin-Mercier gets his first stoppage win against Evan Dunham @ UFC 223 on April 7th

David Branch knocks out Thiago Santos @ UFC Fight Night: Atlantic City on April 21st

Recap & Highlights: LFA 56 – LFA ends the calendar year with a new lightweight champion

The LFA ended the calendar year with an exciting card that crowned a new lightweight champion. All but one fight ended in a finish, with hot prospect Youssef Zalal extending his unbeaten streak, Demarques Jackson making a case for the next title shot and Austin Hubbard upsetting Killys Mota for that lightweight title.

Middleweight Bout: Dante Schiro def. Robert Gidron via submission (arm triangle) 2:25, R1

Schiro immediately went for the takedown and worked his way into an arm triangle for the win, almost made it look too easy.

Featherweight Bout: Youssef Zalal def. Steven Merrill via submission (D’Arce choke) 3:22, R1

The first round began with a bad break in the action after Zalal held on to the fence where Merrill was working on a single leg; when Merrill went for another single leg, Zalal caught him with a knee coming in but Merrill got up and rocked Zalal with a right. Shortly after, the fight found it’s way to the ground where Zalal was able to lock in a D’Arce choke. In the post-fight interview, the undefeated prospect told Sean Shelby to give him a call.

Light Heavyweight Bout: Alton Cunningham def. Erick Murray, Jr. via TKO (punches) 1:53, R2

After a 1st round full of grappling exchanges, Cunningham brought the fight to the mat in the 2nd and finished off Murray, Jr. with ground and pound. During the post-fight interview, Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series alum Cunningham called for another shot in the UFC.

Welterweight Bout: Jonathon Thomson def. Ange Loosa via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-27)

Thomson hands Loosa his first professional loss in the first fight of the night to go the distance.

165lb. Catchweight Bout: Demarques Jackson def. Bobby Lee via submission (guillotine choke) 2:11, R1

Bobby Lee shot for a takedown and when Jackson was trying to get himself up at the cage he was able to lock in a guillotine. Could a fight with the next lightweight champion be next?

LFA Lightweight Championship: Austin Hubbard def. Killys Mota via TKO (punches) 4:45, R5

After a fairly dominant 1st round for Killys Mota, Austin Hubbard took over in the second and didn’t let up, winning the next three rounds. In the 5th round, Hubbard had Mota finished, but the ref wouldn’t call it, it took about over a minute and the crowd booing to get the referee to finally call it off. Austin Hubbard is your new LFA lightweight champion.

 

Live Results – LFA 56: Hubbard Vs. Mota

Friday, December 7th – Mystic Lake Casino in Prior Lake, Minnesota

LFA is ending the calendar year with a lightweight title fight. Elevation Fight Team’s Austin Hubbard will challenge undefeated Brazilian Killys Mota for the vacant strap. Longtime LFA/RFA vet Bobby Lee takes on Demarques Jackson, who just scored a win over in Bellator this past summer, in the co-main event.

The main card kicks off @ 9:00PM ET/6:00PM PT on AXS TV.

Main Card (AXS TV 9:00PM ET/6:00PM PT)

  • LFA Lightweight Championship: Austin Hubbard def. Killys Mota via TKO (punches) 4:45, R5
  • 165lb. Catchweight Bout: Demarques Jackson def. Bobby Lee via submission (guillotine choke) 2:11, R1
  • Welterweight Bout: Jonathon Thomson def. Ange Loosa via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-27)
  • Light Heavyweight Bout: Alton Cunningham def. Erick Murray, Jr. via TKO (punches) 1:53, R2
  • Featherweight Bout: Youssef Zalal def. Steven Merrill via submission (D’Arce choke) 3:22, R1
  • Middleweight Bout: Dante Schiro def. Robert Gidron via submission (arm triangle) 2:25, R1

Opinion: ‘Don’t Sleep On This’ UFC 231 Edition

‘Don’t Sleep on This’ is a new segment I’m going to pump out leading up to every card about a fighter and/or matchup that should not be missed (a/k/a slept on).

The UFC is back in Toronto this weekend, the same place where Max Holloway won the interim belt on his way to becoming featherweight champion. Holloway will take on the undefeated Brian ‘T-City’ Ortega, who was originally scheduled to face Holloway back in July at UFC 226 before Holloway was pulled from the fight due to ‘concussion-like symptoms’. The co-headliner will crown the women’s flyweight champion, after Nicco Montaño was stripped of the title back in September. Valentina Shevchenko will face former strawweight champ Joanna Jedrzejczyk, in which many, (including myself) consider a superfight. The card is rounded out with the return of Gunnar Nelson, a fantastic light heavyweight bout between Jimi Manuwa and Thiago ‘Marreta’ Santos and possibly the next flyweight title challenger bout in Katlyn Chookagian versus Jessica Eye.

Kicking off the FS1 prelims, lightweights Olivier Aubin-Mercier and Gilbert Burns were rebooked after Burns was deemed medically unsafe to fight at UFC on FOX 28 in February. OAM was riding a four-fight win streak before losing to Alexander Hernandez at UFC on FOX 30 in July. Burns had a small win streak of his own before being stopped by Dan Hooker at UFC 226. Burns, who is a 2nd degree BJJ black belt, has been finding his hands as of late. Burns last two wins have come by way of devastating knockout, to Jason Saggo and Dan Moret. OAM on the other hand, scored his first TKO finish at UFC 223 against Evan Dunham; his other eight finishes have come by submission (seven by rear-naked choke). It will be interesting to see if Burns will try to use his power to get Aubin-Mercier out of there, or take it to the ground, which can result in a grappling clinic. My pick: Burns via submission

The fight that follows is one that carries some animosity. Erik ‘Ya Boi’ Anders had called out Canada’s own Elias Theodorou after his win against Tim Williams at UFC Fight Night 135 in August; but in September, Anders answered the short notice call and moved up to light heavyweight to face Thiago Santos in Brazil; a fight that didn’t go his way but was fight of the night nonetheless. Anders says this fight is ‘just business’, but Theodorou plans to show him there’s levels to MMA and ‘break’ him ‘mentally and physically.’ Anders was the first ever LFA middleweight champion before getting his call to the UFC. Anders’ only two losses in 13 professional fights were in Brazil to legend Lyoto Machida and LHW Santos. Elias Theodorou, the Ultimate Fighter: Nations winner, has gone 7-2 over his UFC career, but has been known to take the safe approach in fights, only scoring two finishes in those contests. Regardless, he has victories over notables Sam Alvey, Cezar Ferreira, Dan Kelly and most recently Trevor Smith back in May. I’m curious to see how Anders will approach this fight, and if he will fall into Theodorou’s pace. My pick: Anders

Up next is a potential women’s flyweight #1 contender fight. Katlyn ‘Blonde Fighter’ Chookagian takes on Jessica ‘Evil’ Eye. Chookagian went 2-1 as a bantamweight before returning to flyweight and has won two straight against Mara Romero Borella and Alexis Davis. Jessica Eye is on a two-fight win streak of her own since moving to flyweight, taking out Kalindra Faria and Jessica-Rose Clark. Eye had a rough and frustrating bantamweight run, going 1-5 with a couple split decision losses and a no contest due to testing positive for marijuana (a fight which she won). Now back at her natural weight of 125, Eye believes the flyweight title will be hers eventually. This is a very hard fight to predict, as Eye should have the upper hand in the stand-up, Chookagian is a BJJ brown belt under master Renzo Gracie. My pick: Chookagian’s height and reach will be the difference maker

Gunnar Nelson hasn’t fought since UFC Fight Night 113 in July of 2017. The result of that fight was KO loss to title challenger hopeful Santiago Ponzinibbio. Nelson was poked in the eye moments before the knockout, but nonetheless it marked the third loss on his UFC record. Nelson came into the UFC riding a nine-fight win streak and continued that with four straight UFC wins before dropping a split decision to Rick Story in his first main event. Nelson was scheduled to face Neil Magny at UFC Fight Night 130 in May, but withdrew with an injury. Now he’s scheduled to face Alex ‘Cowboy’ Oliveira, who’s riding a two-fight win streak and only has one loss in his last eight bouts. ‘Cowboy’ has beat the likes of former Bellator champ Will Brooks, Tim Means, Ryan LaFlare and former interim champ Carlos Condit. Oliveira has been more active than Nelson, but Nelson has spent this camp in his homeland of Iceland, instead of SBG Ireland, and has added some power lifting to his training, as you can see here. If ring rust is a real thing, Nelson might have trouble with Oliveira, who excels on both the ground and stand-up, while Nelson is primarily a grappler who has added a lot of strength to his game so it seems. My pick: Gunnar Nelson is back, and is going to put the welterweight division on notice

One of the fights I’m most looking forward to Saturday is the light heavyweight showdown between heavy hitters Jimi ‘Poster Boy’ Manuwa and Thiago ‘Marreta’ Santos. Jimi Manuwa was at one point in contention for a title shot after flooring Ovince Saint Preux and Corey Anderson in back-to-back fights, but losses to Volkan Oezdemir and Jan Blachowicz stalled that. Thiago Santos moved up to light heavyweight for his last bout, a win against Eryk Anders. Santos had won five of six fights before that at middleweight, finishing opponents in four straight; three ending with kicks, including title challenger hopeful Anthony Smith. Santos adds some new blood to the light heavyweight division, and Manuwa is looking to get back on track. One thing is for sure, someone is going to sleep, most likely early. My pick: Thiago ‘Marreta’ Santos by KO

Valentina Shevchenko holds three wins over Joanna Jedrzejczyk. Those wins are in amateur kickboxing bouts dating back to 2008. 10 years later these two will meet again for the vacant women’s flyweight championship. Shevchenko had a crack at the bantamweight title about a year ago, but couldn’t seem to figure out champion Amanda Nunes. Shevchenko then moved to the flyweight division in February with an absolute dismantling of newcomer Priscila Cachoeira, a fight that should have been stopped way earlier. Shevchenko was set to face former champion Nicco Montaño, but Montaño’s weight cut issues came up again and the fight was called off, and eventually Montaño was stripped. Long-reigning strawweight queen Joanna Jedrzejczyk defended her title five times before losing it to Rose Namajunas, but she bounced back in July with a win over Tecia Torres. When an opportunity came up to book Shevchenko and Joanna, two of the UFC’s best strikers, it was a no brainer. After a main event failed to materialize at UFC 230, Shevchenko was briefly linked to fight Sijara Eubanks for the vacant title at that event, but luckily the original fight got back on track when a main event was found. This is going to be a very entertaining fight not to be missed, and I’m curious to see if Shevchenko’s ground game will come into play at all. My pick: Shevchenko

The main event for UFC 231 was supposed to happen in July at UFC 226 but during fight week Max Holloway was showing signs of ‘concussion-like symptoms‘ and was taken to the hospital, subsequently calling the fight off. Holloway seems to be healthy now, and one of the most anticipated featherweight title fights in history will finally happen. Brian ‘T-City’ Ortega is an undefeated BJJ black belt under Rener Gracie who has run through the competition in front of him including Diego Brandão, Clay Guida, Renato Moicano, Cub Swanson and most recently former champion Frankie Edgar. Ortega is up for the challenge and wants to prove he’s ready to be a champion, but Max Holloway has an amazing résumé of his own. After losing to a just-getting-started Conor McGregor, Holloway has been on a 12-fight win streak, with names like Andre Fili, Cole Miller, Cub Swanson, Charles Oliveira, Jeremy Stephens and Ricardo Lamas on his win list. Holloway then won the interim title against Anthony Pettis in Toronto, so being back in the place it all started after beating Jose Aldo for the title then defending it in the rematch, has to be pretty special for Max. Ortega says he is weary of Max’s health issues leading up to fight week, but all signs point to a great matchup between a striker and a grappler. My pick: Ortega pulls off the upset

UFC 231: Holloway Vs. Ortega begins on UFC Fight Pass @ 6:00PM ET/3:00PM PT and continues with the prelims on Fox Sports 1 @ 8:00PM ET/5:00PM PT followed by the PPV portion of the card starting @ 10:00PM ET/7:00PM PT.

 

Opinion: Top Knockouts of 2018 – March

Brian Ortega becomes the first fighter to stop Frankie Edgar inside the cage @ UFC 222 on March 3rd

Alexander Hernandez upsets Beneil Dariush @ UFC 222 on March 3rd

Danny Roberts crumples Oliver Enkamp @ UFC Fight Night: London on March 17th

Milana Dudieva finishes Christina Marks with an overhand right @ Invicta FC 28 on March 24th

Jamall Emmers drops Guilherme Faria and finishes him off on the ground @ LFA 36 on March 23rd

Adrian Yanez floors Nathan Trepagnier with quick left and right hooks @ LFA 35 on March 8th

Opinion: ‘Don’t Sleep On This’ UFC Adelaide Edition – Sodiq Yusuff & Kai Kara-France

‘Don’t Sleep on This’ is a new segment I’m going to pump out leading up to every card about a fighter and/or matchup that should not be missed (a/k/a slept on).

The UFC returns to Adelaide, Australia for the second time in the promotion’s history this Saturday for UFC Fight Night 141: dos Santos Vs. Tuivasa. Two highly touted fighters will be making their anticipated UFC debuts this weekend, ‘Super’ Sodiq Yusuff and Kai ‘Don’t Blink’ Kara-France.

Sodiq Yusuff, who trains out of Team Lloyd Irvin, is a 7-1 prospect who most recently picked up a contract on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series against Mike Davis. That fight was one of the best of the season, as both fighters went at it early, but Yusuff’s movement, power and calf kicks wound up being the deciding factor. You can check out the full fight hereYusuff is set to take on fellow newcomer and undefeated Syndey, Australia native Suman Mokhtatrian. Yusuff is one of the bigger featherweights in the division that’s going to be a fun addition to the UFC.

New Zealand’s Kai Kara-France was part of season 24 of the Ultimate Fighter back in 2016 when they were searching for a challenger to the flyweight title. The former Bragging Rights Fights champion carried a 12-6 record with 7 knockouts into the season, defeating Terrance Mitchell in the opening round before dropping a decision to current UFC fighter Alexandre Pantoja. Since his run on the Ultimate Fighter, Kara-France has won five straight, and will finally get his chance in the UFC. Kara-France will be matched up against Roufusport’s Elias Garcia, who lost his debut back in July.

UFC Fight Night: dos Santos Vs. Tuivasa begins on UFC Fight Pass @ 7:00PM ET/4:00PM PT and continues with the prelims on Fox Sports 1 @ 8:00PM ET/5:00PM PT followed by the main card starting @ 10:00PM ET/7:00PM PT.