Report: UFC close to finalizing Raphael Assuncao Vs. Marlon Moraes 2 for UFC Fortaleza main event

UFC officials are close to finalizing a rematch between top-ranked title challengers Raphael Assuncao and Marlon Moraes according to ESPN. This bout will take place on the promotion’s second ESPN+ event in Fortaleza, Brazil in February.

Raphael Assuncao has been calling for a title shot since his victory over Rob Font at UFC 226 in July. Assuncao is riding a four-fight win steak, with one of those wins coming over Marlon Moraes which took place last summer at UFC 212. Assuncao is an eight-year vet of the UFC and is not one to call out fighters, he just wants the respect he’s earned, and addressed that after his last victory.

Marlon Moraes is the former World Series Of Fighting bantamweight champion before making the jump to the UFC. Moraes has gone 3-1 in his time with the UFC, his only loss coming against Assuncao. Moraes has also been calling for a title shot after devastating finishes to Aljamain Sterling and Jimmie Rivera.

This rematch will have high stakes. It’s hard to argue that the winner of this fight doesn’t get a title shot. Assuncao could finally get his first crack at UFC gold and Moraes can get revenge on top of a chance to add another title to his résumé. Current champion T.J. Dillashaw has the division on hold for the moment as he is challenging flyweight champion Henry Cejudo at UFC 233 in January.

Opinion: ‘Don’t Sleep On This’ The Ultimate Fighter: Heavy Hitters 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 Ultimate Fighter: Heavy Hitters is the last season that will air on FS1 before moving over to ESPN next year. Title challenger hopefuls Kamaru Usman and Rafael dos Anjos will headline the event, which will feature a new heavyweight and women’s featherweight Ultimate Fighter champion. Underdog Justin Frazier will try to continue his Cinderella story to become like his coach and win after being picked last, but he has to get through Juan Francisco Dieppa. Invicta FC vets Pannie Kianzad and Macy Chiasson will battle it out for the women.

Former World Series Of Fighting featherweight champion Rick Glenn will take on former LFA featherweight champion, Kevin Aguilar. Rick Glenn is coming off a split decision win against vet Dennis Bermudez after going 2-2 in his UFC career. Kevin Aguilar picked up a win on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series, but did not pick up a contract. After a scheduled matchup between Gilbert Melendez and Arnold Allen fell through, Glenn was scheduled to face Allen before Aguilar stepped in on short notice. Aguilar is 15-1 and carries a seven-fight win streak into the contest. Aguilar captured the featherweight title in LFA by knocking out Thanh Le back in May. Aguilar looked sluggish on DWTNCS and barely walked away with the decision, while Glenn is coming into this bout with confidence in picking up his second straight win. My pick: Glenn by decision

The sister of current flyweight title challenger Valentina Shevchenko, Antonina Shevchenko makes her much anticipated debut against short-notice replacement Ji Yeon Kim. Shevchenko went 5-0 before headlining Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series at the end of June and impressed with a dominant 2nd-round TKO of Jaymee Nievara. Shevchenko is also a reported 39-1 in the world of kickboxing. Ji Yeon Kim is taking this fight on short notice after picking up her second straight win back in June. Kim is 2-1 in the UFC with wins coming over Justine Kish and Melinda Fábián. This seems like a mismatch and should be Shevchenko’s fight to lose. My pick: Shevchenko by finish

One of the most intriguing fights of the night should be between Pedro Munhoz and Bryan Caraway. Pedro Munhoz was on a four-fight win streak, taking out talent such as Russell Doane, Justin Scoggins, Damian Stasiak and Rob Font before losing a split decision to John Dodson at UFC Fight Night 119 back in March (a fight in which I thought he won). Munhoz bounced back in August with a win over Brett Johns. Bryan Caraway returned in March after a two year absence, and lost a split decision to Cody Stamann (another fight in which I thought it should have went the other way). Caraway was in talks for a title shot before injuries sidelined him and the title picture became more complicated. This has all the makings for a fight of the night, especially if Munhoz can stop Caraway’s ground game and keep the fight standing, though Munhoz is no slouch on the ground. I believe Pedro Munhoz will be title challenger in 2019, and it starts here. My pick: Munhoz

Invicta FC vet Pannie Kianzad was riding a two-fight win streak before joining the Ultimate Fighter, where she will face Macy Chiasson in the finale Friday. Chiasson only has two professional fights to her résumé and has also fought under the Invicta banner. Chiasson advanced with a TKO win over Leah Letson. Kianzad holds wins over current UFC fighters Milana Dudieva and Jessica-Rose Clark, but hit a bit of a rough patch with three straight losses from 2015 to 2018, one of those being UFC bantamweight Tonya Evinger. Kianzad has been riding high since her May win over Bianca Diamoni, but Chiasson will have a healthy height and reach advantage. This should be a good scrap. My pick: Pannie Kianzad will be the new Ultimate Fighter

Kamaru Usman has been calling for a title shot for a while now. Currently riding a 12-fight win streak, the Ultimate Fighter: American Top Team Vs. Blackzilians winner has taken out Hayder Hassan, Leon Edwards, Warlley Alves, Sean Strickland, Sérgio Moraes, Emil Meek and most recently BJJ ace Demian Maia along the way. It looks like this bout will determine who will face the winner of Tyron Woodley and Colby Covington. Rafael dos Anjos is coming off a loss to Covington, who controlled RDA roughly throughout the entire fight. RDA was riding a three-fight win streak before that bout, taking out former champion Robbie Lawler. It’s hard to see this fight playing out any differently than RDA’s last fight, as Usman has all the tools to capture the welterweight title if and when he gets his shot. My pick: future champ, Usman

The Ultimate Fighter Finale: Heavy Hitters begins on UFC Fight Pass @ 6:30PM ET/3:30PM 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.

Opinion: Top Knockouts of 2018 – February

Yoel Romero crushes Luke Rockhold with an overhand right @ UFC 221 on February 10th

Kevin Wirth gives Isaiah Gutierrez the Shawn Michaels treatment @ LFA 33 on February 16th, 2018

Alan Jouban knocks out Ben Saunders @ UFC Fight Night: Orlando on February 24th

Curtis Millender ends Thiago Alves’ night with a knee @ UFC Fight Night: Austin on February 18th

 

Cowboy Cerrone finishes Yancy Medeiros @ UFC Fight Night: Austin on February 18th

Thiago Santos downs Anthony Smith with a body kick then finishes him off with punches @ UFC Fight Night: Belem on February 3rd

Opinion: Top Knockouts of 2018 – January

Curtis Millender ends Nick Barnes night with a head kick @ LFA 30 on January 12th

Ryan Spann flatlines Alex Nicholson @ LFA 32 on January 26th

Mirsad Bektic crumples Godofredo Pepey with brutal body shot @ UFC Fight Night: Charlotte on January 27th

Jacare Souza ends Derek Brunson’s night with a head kick and punches @ UFC Fight Night: Charlotte on January 27th

Abdul Razak Alhassan knocks Sabah Homasi out cold with an uppercut @ UFC 220 on January 20th

Aaron Pico finishes Shane Krutchen with a body shot @ Bellator 192 on January 20th

Jeremy Stephens stops Doo Ho Choi @ UFC Fight Night: St. Louis on January 14th

Helen Peralta makes Jade Ripley do the zombie @ Invcita FC 27 on January 13th

Opinion: ‘Don’t Sleep On This’ UFC Beijing Edition – Song Yadong & Kenan Song

The UFC is in Beijing for the first time this weekend, and top ranked heavyweights Curtis Blaydes and Francis Ngannou are set to rematch for the fans in China; though they might not be the two fighters who steal the show. Song Yadong and Kenan Song, who both made their debut at UFC Fight Night 122 in Shanghai around a year ago, are both looking to add a third straight finish to their résumé.

Continue reading “Opinion: ‘Don’t Sleep On This’ UFC Beijing Edition – Song Yadong & Kenan Song”

Opinion: ‘Don’t Sleep On This’ UFC Argentina Edition – Neil Magny vs Santiago Ponzinibbio

‘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 will visit Argentina for the first time in the promotion’s history, as native Santiago Ponzinibbio will face off against Neil Magny in the main event.

Continue reading “Opinion: ‘Don’t Sleep On This’ UFC Argentina Edition – Neil Magny vs Santiago Ponzinibbio”

Opinion: ‘Don’t Sleep On This’ UFC 230 Edition: The Brunson/Adesanya Rivalry

If you’re not familiar with Derek Brunson and Israel Adesanya’s rivalry, let me catch you up in time for Saturday…

Former kickboxer Israel Adesanya came into the UFC on an 11-fight win streak. He extended his undefeated record to 14-0 with wins over Rob Wilkinson, Marvin Vettori and most recently Brad Tavares. After that win in July, Adesanya called out Paulo Costa and Anderson Silva. Those fights never came to be, but middleweight contender Derek Brunson called for ‘The Last Stylebender’, wanting to fight at Madison Square Garden on the November card and accompanying it with this video.

Continue reading “Opinion: ‘Don’t Sleep On This’ UFC 230 Edition: The Brunson/Adesanya Rivalry”

Opinion: “Don’t Sleep On This” UFC Moncton Edition – Volkan Oezdemir Vs. Anthony Smith

“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).

This weekend the UFC is back after the drama that unfolded 3 weeks ago at UFC 229. This is the promotion’s first time in Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada, and the fans there will get to see a main event involving two of the UFCs heaviest hitters. Former title challenger and #2 ranked Volkan ‘No Time’ Oezdemir will take on former middleweight and #10 ranked Anthony ‘Lionheart’ Smith.

Anthony Smith is a journeyman. With over 40 professional fights to his name, including bouts with promotions Strikeforce, Bellator, CFFC, RFA and others, Smith’s first stint with the UFC only lasted one fight. Smith found his way back to the UFC after going on 7-fight win streak and finishing 6 of those 7 opponents. Since returning, Smith has gone 6-2 with 5 finishes, taking out Ultimate Fighter winner Andrew Sanchez (which was a great comeback fight), former Bellator champ Hector Lombard and former champions and future HOF’ers Rashad Evans and Shogun Rua. Smith’s two fights at light heavyweight ended in the first round, and were devastating knockouts.

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 last year 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’. In January, Volkan challenged the champion Daniel Cormier, but was stopped in the 2nd round.

If you’re a betting man, count on this fight not making it to a second round. Smith has been more active, this will be his fourth fight this year and third fight in the last five months, while Volkan is nine months removed from his last fight due to Visa issues. Will ‘Lionheart’ keep his body count going or will Volkan finish him in ‘No Time’? Don’t blink.

UFC Moncton begins on UFC Fight Pass @ 6:30PM ET/3:30PM PT and continues with the prelims on Fox Sports 2 @ 8:00PM ET/5:00PM PT followed by the main card on Fox Sports 1 @ 10:00PM ET/7:00PM PT.

Live Results – PFL9: Light Heavyweight & Lightweight Playoffs

Saturday, October 13th – Long Beach Arena in Long Beach, California

The light heavyweight and lightweight playoffs are on tap this weekend for PFL‘s inaugural first season. The quarter-finals will only be 2 rounds, no elbows are to be thrown and if it is a draw, whoever won the first round will advance to the semis. #1 seeds Vinny Magalhaes and Natan Schulte look to continue their dominance on their quest for 1 million dollars.

The fights kick off on Facebook Watch @ 6:45PM ET/3:45PM PT and continue with the main card on NBCSN @ 9:00PM ET/6:00PM PT. You can stream the preliminaries here.

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

  • Light Heavyweight Semi-Final bout: #1 Vinny Magalhaes def. #4 Bozigit Ataev via submission (kimura) 1:58 of round 1
  • Lightweight Semi-Final bout: #1 Natan Schulte def. #4 Chris Wade via split decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)
  • Light Heavyweight Semi-Final bout: #6 Sean O’Connell def. #7 Smealinho Rama via KO (punches) 1:45 of round 1
  • Lightweight Semi-Final bout: #7 Rashid Magomedov def. #6 Thiago Tavares via TKO (punches) 3:36 of round 2
  • Light Heavyweight Quarter-Final bout: #1 Vinny Magalhaes def. #8 Rakim Cleveland via submission (kimura) 1:20 of round 1
  • Lightweight Quarter-Final bout: #1 Natan Schulte def. #8 Johnny Case via majority draw (20-18, 19-19, 19-19)
  • Light Heavyweight Quarter-Final bout: #4 Bogizit Ataev def. #5 Emiliano Sordi via TKO (punches) 1:43 of round 1
  • Lightweight Quarter-Final bout: #4 Chris Wade def. #5 Robert Watley via majority decision (19-19, 20-18, 20-18)

Preliminary Card (Facebook Watch 6:45PM ET/3:45PM PT)

  • Light Heavyweight Quarter-Final bout: #6 Sean O’Connell def. #3 Dan Spohn via majority decision (19-19, 20-18, 20-18)
  • Lightweight Quarter-Final bout: #3 Islam Mamedov def. #6 Thiago Tavares via unanimous decision (20-18, 20-18, 20-18)
  • Light Heavyweight Quarter-Final bout: #7 Smealinho Rama def. #2 Maxim Grishin via majority draw (20-18, 19-19, 19-19)
  • Lightweight Quarter-Final bout: #7 Rashid Magomedov def. #2 Will Brooks via unanimous draw (19-19, 19-19, 19-19)
  • Light Heavyweight bout: Brandon Halsey def. Ronny Markes via unanimous decision (20-18, 20-18, 20-18)
  • Lightweight bout: Ramsey Nijem def. Yuki Kawana via unanimous decision (19-18, 19-18, 19-18)