Zak Ottow brings a lot to the table when he shows up to fight. He recently earned his black belt in BJJ, which he trained for nine years to acquire and has also shown off impressive boxing skills, which were showcased in an entertaining first round knockout of Mike Pyle at UFC 222. All this, coupled with impressive wrestling and takedowns, he should certainly feel confident in the run up to his next bout, which is scheduled to take place in Boise at UFC fight night 133.
At an event hosted by Combate Americas in Sacremento, both Nate Diaz and Clay Guida made an appearance, supporting their teammates in their respective bouts. However, they managed to steal the show and divert attention from the fighters when they both clashed, forcing security staff and others to get involved. Ultimately what followed was an unnecessary scene at an event centered around controlled combat and safe competition.
Tyler Diamond, a teammate of Guida, has tweeted about the incident; saying that Diaz (surrounded by his entourage), came up and pushed Guida from behind. This resulted in Diamond stepping in between the two and receiving the infamous “Stockton slap” for his trouble.
Both Diaz brothers are well known for their brash attitudes and fans have grown accustomed to both of them playing up to the gangster role, but it could be argued that this is a step too far. Guida’s manager John Fosco, has said that his client intends to press charges with local police, on account of him being pushed into a metal pole which resulted in a split lip and a bruised face.
An investigation into the incident has been launched by Combate Americas.
The two fighters definitely do have history, stemming all the way back from UFC 94 when the two earned themselves fight of the night honours in a close split decision fight that ultimately went to “The Carpenter”. As well as this Diaz was involved with an altercation with Guidas’ team after the latter was finished by Brian Ortega at UFC 199. So, no doubt in mind that the intent to throw down is there, let’s hope Diaz can hold off until they can settle their beef in the octagon, and not in the crowds of someone else’s fight.
Of the two “Team Alpha Male” members though, it has been Tyler Diamond who has been more vocal about the incident, explaining he “was speaking with Clay face to face and he was pushed, then I saw Nate and about 10 dudes around him, so I got up with my arms in the air, trying to calm things down, and he slapped me while one of his cronies rabbit punched me”. It is worth noting that it was Guida who handed Diaz his first loss inside the octagon and broke his 5 fight winning streak; recently, Guida has been calling him out for a rematch, goading him with name calling. This has always been the case in the UFC, it’s called trash talk and it makes/sells fights, maybe Diaz has taken too much to heart? Or maybe there’s more reasons, time will tell.
Diaz has been heavily linked to a UFC return as of late, with options open to the American such as Canadian superstar Georges st Pierre. Guida is also booked to fight in UFC 225 on June 10th in Chicago against Bobby Green; so maybe getting into a scrap outside the octagon isn’t the best idea for either man (especially giving the unpredictable behaviour of Dana White).
In an organisation full of controversy, the shock value of new stories coming out the UFC is fairly low nowadays, but this isn’t necessarily the case when we learned the latest bit of gossip. It came in the form of rising featherweight star Yair Rodriguez, who was cut from the UFC late last night (May 10th).
Ever since winning The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America tournament, “El Pantera” is (was?) considered as one of the rising stars of the featherweight division, boasting a record of 11-2 in professional combat, 6-1 in the UFC. He has passed serious tests since joining the organisation, which was capped by a win over former lightweight/welterweight champion and hall of famer BJ Penn in January of 2017.
Rodriguez is known for his flashy fighting style and his spinning attacks, therefore he does bring in a decent fanbase; and with the added extra of being Mexican, he brings in a whole country of supporters for him and the UFC; but it has been heard from Dana White that Rodriguez will be dropped and can “take his act elsewhere” because the Mexican has turned down fights against Ricardo Lamas and Zabit Magomedsharipov on the UFC 227 fight card (coupled with the fact that he is coming off a loss to Frankie Edgar at UFC 211.
White has never been one for following procedure or precedence, this we know. But to cut someone for turning down a fight (which is his right as a fighter) is very controversial to say the least, especially giving that he is a known name by most MMA fans and is a legitimate prospect in his division.
With the exact reason behind the fights being turned down unknown, it’s hard to say whether or not this new development is fair. Rodriguez is yet to speak out about it but once he does, some light should be shed on the matter. All we know is, the highly anticipated fight between him and Magomedsharipov (which incidentally was confirmed, which we now know to be false as Rodriguez never agreed to the fight) is now not happening, which is a shame for the Russian as he himself has a point to prove and a stiff test against “El Pantera” was his chance to do exactly that.
Rodriguez will not be out of the public eye altogether though, as it remains highly likely that another MMA promotion will sign him, with options open to the Mexican such as Bellator MMA and Strikeforce. This probably wouldn’t be a bad idea for Rodriguez; with his skill in fighting ever increasing, it’s possible for him to become a star in one of these organisations, which could open up multiple other paths (including a re-entry into the UFC).
UFC 224 is quickly approaching. On May 12, 2018, at the Jeunesse Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the co-main event will include two men who have already proved their worth many times over in the Octagon. They have grown to be well-rounded fighters, and both are coming off knockout wins and want their next chance to get that shot at the belt.
Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza
Ronaldo Souza (25-5-0 1NC) is known in the UFC for being a submission specialist, with big finishes over Gegard Mousasi (R3 guillotine) back in 2014, and more recently over Tim Boetsh at UFC 208 with a perfectly executed Kimura in the first round. With one submission of the night award under his belt coming from a first round armbar win over Chris Camozzi in 2015; it’s no doubt that the Brazilian has a diverse ground game, that is most definitely not to be slept on.
Souza has also developed a highly respectable striking game in recent years, with two of his last three wins (Derek Brunson and Vitor Belfort) both coming first round knockout, subsequently earning him performance of the night awards.
Everything considered, Souza’s number 2 contender spot is well earned, but with his opponent coming off a big knockout over former champ Michael Bisping, some might feel that Gastelum is coming into this very confident. It goes without saying that Jacare will have to employ all his skills to get the win, but specifically he will need to stay away from the power and explosiveness of Gastelum.
Jacare should look to use feints and footwork to try to close the distance, clinch kelvin against the cage and shoot the double leg. If the fight goes to the mat, his BJJ advantage will show, as Gastelum does have a submission loss to Chris Weidman on his record.
It is also worth noting that due to his experience in the Octagon, Souza is more accustomed to a 5 round fight than Gastelum, bringing the latters’ cardio into question.
Kelvin Gastelum (15-3-0 1NC) started his career with a dominant run in series 17 of The Ultimate Fighter, capping it off with a split decision win over Uriah Hall. He competed in the tournament at middleweight, but soon decided to move down to welterweight after winning. He found success at 170lbs, showing us a strong and aggressive stand up game with a stocky frame and wrestling background.
However, he was too big for the division and ran into problems with the weight cut multiple times; his loss to Tyron Woodley (split decision) at UFC 183, coupled with the fact he came in over-weight, caused the UFC to step in and Dana White announced that Gastelum would have to move back up to middleweight.
Since returning to his original division he has continued to impress, using his strength to charge his opponents down, with a strong chin and wrestling game to back up any holes left by his aggressive style. He has impressive knockout wins over Nate Marquardt, Tim Kennedy, Vitor Belfort (later overturned but some feel that it was controversial) and most recently Michael “the Count” Bisping.
There is no denying this man his number 5 spot, but he will face his biggest test to date in the form of “Jacare” Souza. He will have to focus primarily on keeping the fight on the feet, as he will feel that he has a better chance striking with Souza as opposed to grappling. To do this he will need his takedown defence and his jab, but mostly he will need to mix things up as much as possible to keep his opponent guessing, possibly using a lot of low kicks to take Souzas’ base away and make it easier to get the finish – we already know kicks work against Souza since seeing the way Robert Whittaker was able to hit him with front kicks, which opened up opportunities for Whittaker to follow it up with punches.
All in all this has the makings of a very technical, competative fight that could go either way on the night. The method of victory is a difficult one to guess for sure as both fighters have legitimate abilities on both ground and the on the mat.
Time will tell but in the meantime, what do you think?