Don’t Sleep On This – UFC Phoenix Edition

UFC is finally making its main card debut on ESPN this weekend, and on paper, it shouldn’t disappoint. The main card features the return of one of the greatest heavyweights in the sport, facing a former title challenger looking to get back to the top. In the co-main event; after being booked to fight this summer and then having it fall apart, a lightweight bout between James Vick and Paul Felder was rescheduled to the delight of many fans. Kron Gracie will also be making his UFC debut against ‘Bruce LeroyAlex Caceres. The prelims also offer a lot of great style matchups, and that’s what I’ll be taking a look at.

On the ESPN prelims, Ashlee Evans-Smith, who was originally scheduled to face Lauren Murphy, now faces former LFA flyweight champion Andrea ‘KGB’ Lee. Lee is looking for her sixth straight win and second with the UFC after being successful in her debut back in May. Evans-Smith is looking for her second in a row after besting Bec Rawlings in April. These two match up very similar, with Evans-Smith usually having the advantage with her wrestling background, but doesn’t seem to rely on it often. My pick: Andrea Lee gets the nod after three rounds

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Headlining the prelims on ESPN are bantamweight contenders Jimmie Rivera and Aljamain Sterling. Rivera is coming off a win over John Dodson, which helped with the sting of his first defeat since 2008 by Marlon Moraes last June. Rivera came into the UFC on a 15-fight win streak and continued with five more straight against Marcus Brimage, Pedro Munhoz, Iuri Alcântara, Urijah Faber and Thomas Almeida. Sterling also suffered a defeat to Moraes, but since then has won two straight against Brett Johns and Cody Stamann. This could very well be a precursor to a title fight – if T.J. Dillashaw fights Moraes next, whoever wins this could be next in line. My pick: Jimmie Rivera by unanimous decision

Kicking off the main card will be featherweights Andre Fili and Myles Jury. Fili is coming off the wrong end of a split decision loss to Michael Johnson, but before that had reeled off two straight against Artem Lobov and Dennis Bermudez. Jury had taken two years off and when he came back had won two straight as well, against Mike De La Torre and Rick Glenn. Back in July, Jury welcomed Chad Mendes back from his suspension and lost the fight via first round TKO. My pick: I love this matchmaking, but I think the more well-rounded fighter will get it done, Myles Jury

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In what will be the UFC‘s 5000th fight (if nothing changes), Kron Gracie, the son of Rickson Gracie and the grandson of Hélio Gracie, will be making his UFC debut. Gracie will come in with a 4-0 record (all submissions), but hasn’t fought since December of 2016. ‘Bruce Leroy’ Alex Cacares will have the task of dealing with the submission specialist. Caceres is coming off a win against Martín Bravo, but is only 4-6 in his last 10. My pick: This is a classic striker-versus-grappler, Gracie by (no surprise) submission

The third and final strawweight bout of the night is Cortney ‘Cast Iron’ Casey versus Cynthia Cavillo. Casey has been on the wrong end in two of her last three fights, all split decisions; losing to Felice Herrig and Michelle Waterson, but picking up the win against Angela Hill in August. Cavillo was on a roll coming into the UFC, winning her first three (two by submission) against Amanda Cooper, Pearl Gonzalez and Joanne Calderwood. Calvillo then lost to former champion Carla Esparza at UFC 219 along with being suspended for marijuana metabolites, but returned in November with another submission win against Poliana Botelho. Casey has the height and reach advantage, but Calvillo will most likely want to take this fight to the mat where she has excelled. My pick: Calvillo

In the co-main event, a fight that was supposed to happen in the summer is finally set to take place. James ‘The Texecutioner’ Vick faces Paul ‘The Irish Dragon’ Felder. Vick has been on a tear during his UFC run, going 8-1 from 2013 to 2017. Vick kicked off last year with a win over Francisco Trinaldo before getting the main event slot at UFC Fight Night 135 in Lincoln, Nebraska against former WSOF lightweight champion Justin Gaethje. After all the back-and-forth, bad blood and dust had settled, Gaethje had knocked Vick out in under two minutes. Standing in his way of trying to put that loss behind him is Paul Felder. Felder had won three straight and was set to face Vick at UFC Fight Night 133, but Vick was pulled in favor of said matchup against Gaethje. Felder then stepped in on short notice and moved up to welterweight to fight Mike Perry at UFC 226 – a decision loss, but Felder suffered a broken arm early on in the fight. Both fighters have something to prove, and a win could help them move up that crowded lightweight ladder. My pick: Felder via TKO

In the first main event on ESPN, Cain Velasquez makes his much anticipated return to the cage against Francis Ngannou. Ngannou had taken the heavyweight division by storm, winning six straight with highlight reel knockouts along the way and earning himself a title shot against then-champion Stipe Miocic. Miocic exposed the flaws in Ngannou’s game and that carried over in his next fight against Derrick Lewis. In a rematch against Curtis Blaydes at UFC Fight Night 141, Ngannou surprised a lot of his critics with a first round TKO of the National Champion wrestler. It’s been almost four years since Cain Velasquez has fought; a TKO win against Travis Browne at the historic UFC 200. Velasquez is still hailed by many as the greatest heavyweight of all time even though has a hard time staying active, but one of the advantages he has by training at American Top Team are his training partners – two of which are current champions and one being a former champion. All that being said, even with his knockout power, I can’t see Ngannou shoring up his lack of a ground game against the best wrestler in the heavyweight division. My pick: Cain Velasquez is victorious in his octagon return

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Live Results – LFA 59: Michaud Vs. Aguilera

Friday, February 1st – Comerica Theatre in Phoenix, Arizona

LFA is back for it’s third event of the month and a welterweight title shot could be on the line. UFC and Bellator vet David Michaud  takes on hard-hitting Christian Aguilera; and another UFC vet makes is LFA debut, Seth Baczynski.

The main card kicks off @ 10:00PM ET/7:00PM PT on AXS TV.

Main Card (AXS TV 10:00PM ET/7:00PM PT)

  • Welterweight Bout: David Michaud def. Christian Aguilera via TKO (punches) 4:14, R1
  • Catchweight Bout: Jared Gooden def. Steven Newell via UD (30-26, 30-27, 30-27)
  • Middleweight Bout: Daniel Madrid def. Seth Baczynski via submission (guillotine choke) 2:54, R1
  • Bantamweight Bout: Kevin Natividad def. Andy Perez via SD (28-29, 29-27, 29-28)
  • Bantamweight Bout: Kyler Phillips def. Emeka Ifekandu via KO (head kick) 2:30, R1
  • Bantamweight Bout: Hunter Azure def. Jaime Hernandez via TKO (punches) 2:15, R1

Don’t Sleep On This – UFC Fortaleza Edition: Charles Oliveira Vs. David Teymur

The UFC is back in Brazil for the first time under the ESPN banner. UFC Fight Night: Assunção Vs. Moraes 2 will air exclusively on ESPN+, so if you haven’t already subscribed, now is the time. Apart from the rematch that will be more important than their first matchup, there’s an undercard full of outstanding matchups. One of which is the always dangerous vet Charles ‘Do Bronx’ Oliveira against TUF vet David Teymur.

Charles Oliveira is a 22-fight veteran with the UFC, which includes 12 submission victories; the most in the history of the organization. Since returning to lightweight in 2017, Oliveira has gone 4-1, including a three-fight submission win streak (which all came last year) against Clay Guida, Christos Giagos and Jim Miller – Oliveira broke the record for most submissions against Giagos and extended it against Miller. All four of his most recent lightweight wins have come with a performance bonus as well.

David Teymur lost his first professional fight in 2013. Since then, he has reeled off eight straight, including five with the UFC. After losing in the quarter-finals of the Ultimate Fighter’s 22nd season, Teymur had a successful debut against Martin Svensson and followed that up with wins over Jason Novelli, Lando Vannata, Drakkar Klose and most recently Nik Lentz this past June.

After claiming that he wants to go back down to featherweight soon, Oliveira has been very impressive back at lightweight. Teymur has yet to be figured out at lightweight and wants to make it nine in a row. In a stacked lightweight division that is currently at a standstill with the suspension of champion Khabib Nurmagomedov, strides have to be made, and both of these fighters have been on hot streaks. Coming from a kickboxing background, Teymur hasn’t really been tested on the ground yet, and there’s no question Oliveira will look for that takedown quick and try to extend his submission record. Either way, a win for either fighter should propel them into the top 15.

UFC Fight Night: Assunção Vs. Moraes 2 streams live on ESPN+ with the main card starting at 8:00PM ET/5:00PM PT.

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Live Results – LFA 58: Park Vs. Willis

Friday, January 25th – Route 66 Casino Hotel in Albuquerque, New Mexico

LFA is back after their 2019 debut last week, and Harvey Park versus Jaleel Willis headlines the promotion’s 58th event; UFC vet Joby Sanchez and Demetrius Wilson serve as co-headliners.

The main card kicks off @ 10:00PM ET/7:00PM PT on AXS TV.

Main Card (AXS TV 10:00PM ET/7:00PM PT)

  • Lightweight Bout: Harvey Park def. Jaleel Willis via TKO (punches) 3:17, R1
  • Flyweight Bout: Joby Sanchez def. Demetrius Wilson via UD (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
  • Lightweight Bout: Fernando Padilla def. Donald Sanchez via TKO (punches) 1:27, R2
  • Featherweight Bout: Toninho Marajo def. Vince Fricilone via KO (knee) 0:40, R1
  • Lightweight Bout: Flavian Pilgrim def. Sherwin Price via KO (punch) 0:50, R1
  • Welterweight Bout: Maycon Mendonça def. Joshua Moreno via UD (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
  • Featherweight Bout: Natan Levy def. Henry Barahona via UD (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)

Sabina Mazo set to make her UFC debut against Maryna Moroz at UFC Philadelphia

LFA women’s flyweight champion Sabina Mazo will make her UFC debut against Maryna Moroz at UFC on ESPN 2.

The second event to be broadcast on ESPN will get another marquee women’s matchup. On a card that already features Karolina Kowalkiewicz, Michelle Waterson and Alexa Grasso, top prospect and LFA flyweight champion Sabina ‘Colombian Queen’ Mazo will make her much awaited octagon debut against veteran Maryna ‘Iron Woman’ Moroz.

Since being signed by the UFC in early December, fans have been waiting for undefeated prospect Sabina Mazo to be booked to fight. Putting together a 6-0 record, including four in LFA where she captured the flyweight title, Mazo was put on the map after two back-to-back head kick knockouts in 2017.

11-fight veteran Maryna Moroz hasn’t had a win since August of 2016. After starting her UFC career with a 3-1 record, including wins over Joanne Calderwood, Cristina Stanciu and Danielle TaylorMoroz has dropped two in a row to former strawweight champ Carla Esparza and former Invicta FC champ Angela Hill.

This will be Mazo’s biggest test yet in her young MMA career and Moroz will be searching for her first win in almost three years. This striker-versus-striker matchup will be a fun one to watch and to see if Mazo has what it takes to hang in a surging flyweight division.

UFC Fight Night: Barboza Vs. Gaethje will on air live on ESPN Saturday, March 30th from the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Live Results – LFA 57: Zalal Vs. Mariscal

Friday, January 18th – 1stBank Center in Broomfield, Colorado

LFA is kicking off 2019 with a featherweight showdown between undefeated prospect Youssef Zalal and Jose Mariscal; also on the card, Ronda Rousey’s longtime friend and Judo practitioner Pauline Macias makers her LFA debut.

The main card kicks off @ 10:00PM ET/7:00PM PT on AXS TV.

Main Card (AXS TV 10:00PM ET/7:00PM PT)

  • Featherweight Bout: Chepe Mariscal def. Youssef Zala via UD (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
  • Welterweight Bout: Anthony Adams def. Josh Cavan via KO (punch) 4:56, R1
  • Middleweight Bout: Adam Stroup def. Lucas Rota via UD (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
  • Welterweight Bout: Austin Jones def. Calen Born via UD (29-28, 30-27, 29-28)
  • Catchweight Bout (157): Jonathan Wyderko def. Matt Johnson via TKO (knee and punches) 3:41, R1
  • Women’s Strawweight Bout: Pauline Macias def. Madie Meacham via TKO (verbal submission) 1:18, R2
  • Middleweight Bout: Taylor Johnson def. Aaron Chambers via TKO (punches) 2:43, R1

Darren Till & Jorge Masvidal agree to terms for UFC on ESPN+ 5 in London

Jorge Masvidal returns to the octagon for the first time since November 2017 to face England native Darren Till in London.

Two highly competitive strikers will meet on March 16th across the pond as welterweights Darren Till and Jorge Masvidal are both looking to get back into the win column. Till, fresh off his loss to champion Tyron Woodley and Masvidal, looking to shake off the rust of not fighting for 16 months.

Darren Till will enter the cage for the first time in March and not have an undefeated record under his name. That 0 was taken from him by welterweight champion Tyron Woodley back in September. After starting out his career 17-0-1, wins against tough veteran Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone and former title challenger Stephen Thompson garnered Till a title shot, his first fight in the states, and it didn’t go according to plan. After mulling over moving up to light heavyweight after the loss, it looks like Till has at least one more fight at welterweight.

Jorge Masvidal hasn’t fought since losing a decision to Stephen Thompson at UFC 217 in November 2017, couple that with a loss to Demian Maia months earlier, and I’m sure Masvidal wants to get the taste of that losing streak out of his mouth. Before that, Masvidal was riding a different kind of streak that included wins over Ross Pearson, Jake Ellenberger and Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone before falling short of a title shot bid against Maia.

Masvidal is a friend and training partner of Colby Covington, the interim welterweight champion at the moment. Till had lobbied for a fight with Covington, but it looks like Masvidal’s request worked out better. It will be interesting to see if Masvidal’s time off shows, because Till is eager to get back in there and learn from his mistakes, as he’s back on his quest to become a champion.

UFC Fight Night: Till Vs. Masvidal will air on ESPN+ Saturday, March 16th from The O2 Arena in London, England.

Don’t Sleep On This – UFC Brooklyn Edition: Gillespie/Medeiros & Calderwood/Lipski

A new era for the UFC starts this weekend in Brooklyn, New York.

The deal with ESPN is ready to kick off with a superfight between flyweight champion Henry Cejudo and bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw which will stream exclusively on ESPN+. In a rather stacked card, two matchups stand out to me: undefeated prospect Gregor Gillespie will take on the always exciting vet Yancy Medeiros and Joanne ‘JoJo’ Calderwood looks to make some noise in the women’s flyweight division as she takes on newcomer Ariane ‘The Violence Queen’ Lipski.

New York native Gregor ‘The Gift’ Gillespie, former ROC lightweight champion, came into the UFC with a 7-0 record and three years later is still undefeated. His last four wins coming by way of stoppage against Andrew Holbrook, Jason Gonzalez, Jordan Rinaldi and most recently Vinc Pichel at UFC Fight Night 131 back in June, Gillespie is looking to crash the lightweight title picture and should get that push from the company.

Yancy Medeiros, who has been with the promotion since 2013, started out at lightweight before moving to welterweight; is now back a lightweight for this bout after a loss to Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone just under a year ago. Ripping off three straight at welterweight, (finishes against Sean Spencer, Erick Silva and Alex ‘Cowboy’ Oliveira, respectively) Medeiros is no stranger to fight bonuses, collecting five over his stint with the promotion. Keep an eye on the weigh-ins, as Medeiros promised his opponent a ‘rude awakening’ if he gets too close after they hit the scales.

Former kickboxing champion Joanne ‘JoJo’ Calderwood was part of the Ultimate Fighter season 20, where the first UFC strawweight champion was crowned. Calderwood lost to current champion Rose Namajunas in the quarterfinals. A lot has changed since then. The UFC implemented the women’s flyweight division in 2017 and Calderwood was eager to move up, feeling more comfortable at that weight, and it’s shown. JoJo is undefeated at flyweight, besting former strawweight title challenger Valérie Létourneau and Kalindra Faria. The only other flyweight without a loss and on a win streak is Jessica Eye, someone who Calderwood is keeping an eye on as current champ Valentina Shevchenko waits for her next opponent.

UFC newcomer Ariane ‘The Violence Queen’ Lipski is finally here. The former KSW women’s flyweight champion signed with the big show after her latest win this past March (she was scheduled to face Maryna Moroz in November before Moroz sustained an injury). Lipski is known to be a rare knockout artist among the flyweights and carries a nine-fight win streak into her upcoming bout. The Brazilian prospect was most recently seen training with former UFC women’s featherweight champion, the heavy-handed Cris Cyborg.

Gillespie versus Medeiros is an interesting fight. Gillespie is looking to crack the top 10 while Medeiros is trying to find himself back in the win column with a move back down to lightweight. If this fight manages to stay on the feet, it could be another bonus for both fighters; but if it hits the ground, I give Gillespie the advantage.

Calderwood versus Lipski is a fight I’m very excited to see. I expect both fighters to stand and bang, as this will be the toughest test yet for Lipski, but I wouldn’t be surprised if ‘JoJo’ brings it to the ground, as she looked rather comfortable there in her last fight.

UFC Fight Night: Cejudo Vs. Dillashaw streams live on ESPN+ which feature the early prelims (6:00PM ET/3:00PM PT) and the main card (10:00PM ET/7:00PM PT) (which feature Gillespie/Medeiros), while the preliminaries air live on ESPN (8:00PM ET/5:00 PM PT) (which feature Calderwood/Lipski).

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Junior dos Santos Vs. Derrick Lewis to headline UFC on EPSN+ 4 event in Wichita, Kansas

Derrick Lewis will look to rebound from his loss to heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier in November against former champion Junior dos Santos.

Lewis and dos Santos are set to throw down as the main event on March 9th in Wichita, which will be the promotion’s first visit to Kansas. Lewis is coming off his UFC 230-saving loss to champion Daniel Cormier, as dos Santos is riding a two-fight win streak.

Derrick Lewis had won nine of his last 10 dating back to October 2015, knocking out his opponents in all but two matchups (his lone loss coming from Mark Hunt in Auckland, New Zealand).  After ripping off three straight after that (Marcin Tybura, Francis Ngannou and comeback of the year nominee against Alexander Volkov), Lewis was called upon to save UFC 230 by challenging Daniel Cormier for the heavyweight title after just fighting 28 days prior. Lewis was submitted in the second round.

Junior dos Santos is currently riding a two-fight winning streak, his first winning streak since joining the UFC where he won nine straight from 2008 to 2012 and captured the heavyweight gold. After alternating wins and losses, JDS is coming off wins against former WSOF heavyweight champion Blagoy Ivanov and former undefeated Australian prospect Tai Tuivasa in Adelaide just over a month ago.

Lewis is looking to get back on track after some time off and dos Santos is eager to get back in the title picture. This should be a classic stand-up war, where Lewis packs tremendous power that can put your lights out at any time and JDS’ boxing is one of, if not the best, in the heavyweight division. With Cain Velasquez and Francis Ngannou set to meet in February, we could see a couple rematches materialize while the heavyweight division figures itself out for the new year.

UFC Fight Night: Lewis Vs. dos Santos will air on ESPN+ Saturday, March 9th from Intrust Bank Arena in Wichita, Kansas.

Opinion: Top Knockouts of 2018 – December

Bantamweight champ Amanda Nunes shocks the world and finishes featherweight champ Cris Cyborg by knockout to become the first women’s “champ champ” at UFC 232 on December 29th

Louis Taylor floors Abus Magomedov to win the middleweight title and $1 million dollars at PFL 11 on December 31st

Uriah Hall storms back in the 3rd round and drops newcomer Bevon Lewis with a right hook at UFC 232 on December 29th

Joaquim Silva puts Jared Gordon out on his feet @ UFC Fight Night: Milwaukee on December 15th

Edson Barboza wins the war against Dan Hooker @ UFC Fight Night: Milwaukee on December 15th

Alen Amedovski does it again, stopping Ibrahim Mane early @ Bellator 211 on December 1st

Dheigo Lima gets back in the win column with a walk-off KO of Chad Laprise @ UFC 231 on December 8th

 

 

 

Kent Kauppinen stuns the Italian crowd with his knockout of Alessio Sakara @ Bellator 211 on December 1st