Don’t Sleep On This – UFC Wichita Edition: Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos Vs. Curtis Millender

UFC is back this weekend after the eventful 235 event and heavyweights will take center stage. Derrick Lewis is set to face Junior dos Santos in Wichita, Kansas, but the co-main event is something to look out for – welterweights Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos and Curtis Millender haven’t suffered a loss since 2015 and with both fighters riding 5+ win streaks, this is a fight you do not want to miss.

Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos or ‘Capoeira’ as he’s known in Brazil, is riding a 6-fight win streak with the UFC. Capoeria hasn’t lost since his promotional debut, a split decision that didn’t go his way. Since then he has stopped Omari Akhmedov, Sean Strickland and most recently Luigi Vendramini in September. Capoeira had been buried on the prelims (save for one preliminary headliner) but now he will serve as the co-main event, and much deserved so.

Curtis Millender was making waves in LFA, ending back-to-back fights with highlight reel head kicks that finally landed him in the UFC. The former Bellator vet is riding an 8-fight win streak and is 3-0 since joining the promotion, debuting with a knockout of Thiago Alves and taking decision victories over Max Griffin and most recently Siyar Bahadurzada in December.

These are two fighters who are capable of highlight reel finishes, riding very impressive win streaks and looking to climb higher in the rankings. Capoeira will get his chance to show he deserves to be on a main card and Millender will continue to get a push from the UFC. I’m curious to see if this fight goes to the ground, which I believe dos Santos will have the advantage; Millender does hold a 5″ reach advantage and with slightly similar styles, a first round finish for either fighter isn’t out of the question. Book this for fight of the night.

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

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MMAMotion Exclusive: Jason ‘The Kid’ Knight – “I’m finna’ put knuckles all up side Artem’s head and cut his face up”

The Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship received a further bump in it’s already surging popularity when two former UFC fighters, Jason Knight and Artem Lobov, engaged in a  recent twitter spat and through dialogue alone, sealed the deal for a Bare Knuckle fight in early April. I caught up with ‘The Kid’ to talk about the upcoming battle with Lobov along with a number of other exciting things coming up in his sights.

Continue reading “MMAMotion Exclusive: Jason ‘The Kid’ Knight – “I’m finna’ put knuckles all up side Artem’s head and cut his face up””

MMAMotion Exclusive: Gillian Robertson – “I feel like Paige Van Zant is someone who you know for a fact that I’ll be able to finish”

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A lot has happened recently in women’s MMA: new champions have been crowned, former champions have gotten back into the win column and new stars have risen to stake their claim for a shot at UFC gold.

Last weekend was no exception with the Czech Republic’s first ever UFC event. Coming off a dominant win in the main card of UFC Prague, American Top Team’s rising flyweight star Gillian Robertson is full of fire and is determined to make her mark at 125lbs. Continue reading “MMAMotion Exclusive: Gillian Robertson – “I feel like Paige Van Zant is someone who you know for a fact that I’ll be able to finish””

Don’t Sleep On This – UFC 235 Edition

UFC 235 has been the most talked about card so far this year. We have the return of Jon ‘Bones’ Jones, who’s looking at his quickest turnaround since 2011, taking on journeyman Anthony ‘Lionheart’ Smith. Tyron ‘The Chosen One’ Woodley will defend his welterweight title against Kamaru ‘The Nigerian Nightmare’ Usman after negotiations with interim champ Colby Covington never materialized, and ‘Ruthless’ Robbie Lawler returns to the cage against the newly signed ‘Funky’ Ben Askren. That’s just a few of the fights featured on the main card; I’m taking a look at my fights to look out for and predicting the winners, here we go.

Kicking off the ESPN prelims, Mickey Gall gets his wish and takes on Diego Sanchez. UFC vet since 2005, Sanchez has settled in at welterweight after bouncing around between lightweight and featherweight. Sanchez is coming off a win against Craig White where he dominated for three rounds and is only 5-7 in his last 12, but every time you think he’s done, he’ll surprise you with an impressive win; he’s looking to do the same against the prospect Gall. Gall is also coming off a win, against George Sullivan in August, bouncing back from his first professional loss. All of Gall’s wins have come by way of rear-naked choke. I spoke with Mickey Gall when I was covering PFL 7, you can check it out below. My pick: Mickey Gall via submission

Later on the prelims is a marquee light heavyweight matchup. Misha Cirkunov, who was once on an 8-fight win streak, is fighting an exciting newcomer to the division in Johnny Walker. Walker asked to step in on short-notice once Ovince Saint-Preux had to bow out due to injury, and got his wish. Walker is on an 8-fight win streak at the moment, scoring a UFC contract on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series Brazil and following that up with wins against Khalil Rountree, Jr. and Justin Ledet. Walker has been quite the personality since joining the promotion, and this one month turnaround is coming off a 15-second knockout win and another performance bonus. Cirkunov was looking to make it nine in a row and put his name in title contention, but Volkan Oezdemir had other plans and finished the Russian in just 28 seconds at UFC Fight Night 109. Cirkunov then suffered another loss to former title challenger Glover Teixeira before getting back in the win column against Patrick Cummins this past October. My pick: Cirkunov wins this fight on the ground and gets the submission

Headlining the ESPN prelims is an exciting featherweight bout between veteran Jeremy Stephens and one of, if not the best prospect in the division, Zabit Magomedsharipov. After riding an impressive 3-fight win streak, Stephens fell to José Aldo this past summer, a loss that stuck with him for while – something he spoke about this week on Ariel Helwani’s MMA ShowZabit came into the UFC on an 8-fight win streak and collected four more wins (three by submission) against Mike Santiago, Sheymon Moraes, a fight of the night with Kyle Bochniak and most recently locking up a rare modified kneebar against Brandon Davis at UFC 228. This will be Zabit’s toughest fight to date, but his awkward fighting style and well-rounded game will be the difference. My pick: Zabit

Kicking off the main card is the return of Cody ‘No Love’ Garbrandt, who is fighting in his first non-title bout since August 2016. Garbrandt will take on Pedro Munhoz, who is 6-1 in his last seven; with that sole loss being a split decision against John Dodson, a fight many thought should have went the other way. Munhoz is coming off a TKO win against Bryan Caraway at the Ultimate Fighter 28 finale in November and looks to continue making his way to the top, which a win against the former champ will do. Garbrandt is coming off his second straight loss to T.J. Dillashaw; in both fights Garbrandt did have his moments, but seemed to rush the fight and fought more with emotion than with his head. After some time off, we’ll see if he’ll be able to put those fights behind him and get back to a title shot. My pick: This could very well be fight of the night, and if that’s the case, I’m going with Cody Garbrandt

‘Ruthless’ Robbie Lawler will also be making his return to the octagon after injuries have sidelined him since December 2017. In his post-title run, he defeated Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone and then lost to Rafael dos Anjos on that December card. Lawler is tasked with welcoming the funky one, Ben Askren, to the UFC. Askren has been talked about by fans for a while, wondering when he’d make the jump to the big show; unfortunately UFC president Dana White wasn’t a fan and had compared Askren’s fights to ‘taking ambien’. Askren to the UFC looked like it would never happen, until the first trade in MMA history was announced in November, shipping flyweight champ Demetrious Johnson to ONE FC for Askren. Askren will now get to test his undefeated record against the best welterweights in the world. My pick: Askren gets it done in his debut

In the co-main event, Tyron Woodley will defend his welterweight title against Kamaru Usman, not the interim champ Colby Covington. It looks like Covington couldn’t make the March date so the UFC moved on. Now that opportunity comes to Usman, who hasn’t lost since 2013 and is riding a 13-fight win streak that includes victories over former title challenger Demian Maia and former lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos. Woodley has defended his belt four times (one draw), most recently submitting Darren Till at UFC 228. These two fighters match up pretty similarly, both coming from a wrestling base but the edge in striking and power leaning towards Woodley. My pick: This fight could go all 5 rounds, either way I have Woodley winning a strategic battle and retaining his belt

Jon Jones will make a two month turnaround after coming back and claiming his title at UFC 232 in December. Jones said he wants to fight at least three times this year and is welcome to face anyone who wants to step up. First on that list is Anthony Smith. Smith is a 44-fight veteran of the sport, fighting for promotions like Strikeforce, Bellator, CFFC and RFA before landing back with the UFC in 2016. In his second stint with the promotion, Smith has gone 7-2 with six finishes and is currently riding a 3-fight win streak which includes knockouts over two former champions and most recently a submission win over contender Volkan Oezdemir which earned him his title shot. Smith’s experience is the only advantage he holds over the champion, as this will be the biggest test of his long career. Smith has a puncher’s chance, but there’s a reason Jon Jones is considered the G.O.A.T. in MMA. My pick: Jon Jones via 2nd round submission

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Results: UFC Fight Night Prague play-by-play

The Czech Republic hosts its first UFC event to witness a spectacular Light-Heavyweight bout between #6 ranked Thiago Santos, hailing from Brazil, coming from middleweight, and hoping to climb higher within the division against the pride of Poland, #4 ranked Jan Blahowicz.

The co-main is a heavyweight co-main event against the Skyscraper Stefan Struve and Brazilian powerhouse Marcos Rogerio de Lima.

The Main Card starts at 2:00pm EST on ESPN+. Prelim card will be live on ESPN 2 at 11:00am EST.

Live tweets and play-by-play will be by @thedantyman  on the MMA_Motion twitter account.

Main Card(ESPN+ at 2:00pmEST):

 Thiago Santos def. Jan Blachowicz via Third Round TKO
Stefan Struve def. Marcos Rogerio de Lima via Second Round Submission (Arm Triangle)
Michal Oleksiejczuk def. Gian Villante via First Round KO
Liz Carmouche def. Lucie Pudilova via Unanimous Decision (30-27 , 29-28 x2)
Petr Yan def. John Dodson via Unanimous Decision  (30-27 x3 )
Magomed Ankalaev def. Klidson Abreu via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x2, 29-28)

Prelim Card(ESPN 2 at 11:00amEST:

Dwight Grant  def. Carlo Pedersoli Jr. via First Round TKO
Chris Fishgold  def. Daniel Teymur via Second Round submission(RNC)
Gillian Robertson def. Veronica Macedo via Second Round Submission (RNC)
Damir Hadzovic def. Marco Polo Reyes by Second Round TKO
Ismail Naurdiev  def. Michel Prazeres via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x2, 30-26)
Diego Ferreira def. Rustam Khabilov via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x2, 29-28)
Damir Ismagulov def. Joel Alvarez via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)

Don’t Sleep On This – UFC Prague Edition: John Dodson Vs. Petr Yan

UFC on ESPN+ 3 will visit the Czech Republic for the first time in the promotion’s history, and it will be headlined by top heavyweights Jan Blachowicz and Thiago Santos. Also on the main card is an exciting bantamweight matchup between John ‘The Magician’ Dodson and Petr ‘No Mercy’ Yan. Dodson is looking to find his footing the division since moving up from flyweight and Yan has been making noise since his debut last summer.

After winning the Ultimate Fighter 14 against current bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw in 2011, Dodson moved to flyweight and went 5-2 in the division, with those two losses coming in title fights against champion at the time, Demetrious Johnson. After the second loss, Dodson moved back up to bantamweight and has alternated wins and losses since. Those wins came against Manny Gamburyan, Eddie Wineland and Pedro Munhoz; while the losses have been against contenders John Lineker, Marlon Moraes and most recently Jimmie Rivera.

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Petr Yan came over from ACB after winning the bantamweight championship while avenging the only loss of his career. At 11-1, Yan has won three straight since debuting with the UFC, besting Teruto Ishihara, Jin Soo Son and Douglas Silva de Andrade.

Yan will have the height and a slight reach advantage, but it’s hard to match the speed of Dodson. This will be the biggest test of Yan’s career, but something he’s welcoming, as he wanted John Lineker after his latest win. Yan signed a new contract with the UFC in the beginning of the year and this will be his fourth fight in just eight months. Dodson is just trying to get some consistency going, as a loss here will land him on the first losing streak of his career.

UFC Fight Night: Blachowicz Vs. Santos streams live on ESPN+ with the main card starting at 2:00PM ET/11:00AM PT.

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Results: Bellator 215 Live

This weekend, Uncasville is the place to be to catch a double-hitter Bellator event. Tonight comes Bellator 215, kicking things off with a Main Event Heavyweight bout between Former Heavyweight Grand Prix contestant Matt Mitrione against Sergei Kharitonov. In the co-main, undefeated welterweight Logan Storley hopes to continue his streak against Romania’s Ion Pascu.

Main card starts at 9:00pmEST/6:00pmPST On Paramount Network and DAZN.

Prelims are DAZN exclusive and start at 6:30pmEST/3:30PST.

Main article written by @MrDantyMan.

MAIN CARD

Matt Mitrione vs. Sergei Kharitonov ended in a No Contest via groin kick early in round 1

Logan Storley def. Ion Pascu via Unanimous Decision

Eduardo Dantas def. Toby Misech via Unanimous Decision

John Douma def. Mike Kimbel via Submission (Triangle Choke) in round 1

Austin Vanderford def. Cody Jones via Submission (Arm-Triangle) in round 1

PRELIM CARD

Billy Goff def. Ryan Hardy via Unanimous Decision

Zarrukh Adashev def. Ronie Arana via Unanimous Decision

Matt Probin def. Ali Zebian via Split Decision

Pete Rogers def. Jason Rine via TKO (punches) in round 2

Steve Mowry def. Darion Abbey via Submission (Kimura) in round 1

Amanda Bell def. Amber Leibrock via KO (punches) in round 1

Lindsey VanZandt def. Tabatha Watkins via TKO (right hook) in round 2

Pat McCrohan def. Jason Markland via TKO (punches) in round 1

Analysis: Alex Caceres vs. Kron Gracie – What Will Go Down?

The legendary Gracie lineage makes it’s return to the Ultimate Fighting Championship this weekend, as clan member Kron Gracie makes his fifth professional walk against promotion Featherweight gate keeper Alex ‘Bruce Leeroy’ Caceres on the main card of UFC on ESPN 1.

Kron, the youngest son of the legendary Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu pioneer Rickson Gracie, arrives with big expectations following two submission victories in Japan over UFC alumni Tatsuya Kawajiri and fellow submission specialist Hideo Tokoro bringing a four fight undefeated record with him. The ADCC gold medalist faces a stern yet winnable first test in the Octagon by way of 26 fight veteran Alex Caceres.

Caceres, the Florida native holds a notable victory over recent Flyweight title charger Sergio Pettis but has become unstuck against the likes of Yair Rodríguez and Urijah Faber with ‘El Pantera’ spring-boarding into main event contention with his win over the 30 year old.

Holding the obvious striking advantage over Gracie, Caceres will have his work cut out if Kron lands the all important takedown or decides to pull guard, similarly to another submission grappler Dillion Danis who recently made his mixed-martial arts bow in Bellator, proving successful as he secured a first round toehold finish.

Saturday’s clash with Caceres will be Kron’s first walk in just over two years. Some expect a hesitant start from the Brazilian, but his Judo black belt and grappling expertise should be more than enough for him find a probable finish over ‘Bruce Leeroy’. The 30 year-old has submitted the likes of Gary Tonon, UFC Lightweight contender Beneil Dariush, Otávio Souza and ONE FC mainstay Shinya Aoki during his illustrious submission grappling.

Kron isn’t necessarily biased toward choke or joint finishes with countless variations in his search for the tap on display throughout his five year stint in submission grappling. Expect Kron to finish within the opening round.
Official pick: Kron Gracie via submission.

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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Analysis: Diving deep in to Adesanya vs. Silva

What a co-main event we have between two of the best strikers to ever step foot inside the Octagon – Anderson ‘The Spider’ Silva (34-8) 1 NC vs ‘The Last Stylebender’ Israel Adesanya (15-0).

It has been said that the winner of this fight will be next in line to fight for the UFC Middleweight Championship. Some speculate on whether or not a win over Silva is worthy of a title shot for Stylebender, and others speculate if a win over Adesanya is worthy of a title shot for The Spider.

Anderson Silva is one of those guys that when he was at his peak, he was considered to be invincible. The way he would just tear through everyone, it was incredible. The list of guys he beat is also quite incredible: KO’d the iron-chinned Chris Leben in his UFC debut, landing 19 of 19 strikes to finish the fight in under a minute, he then KO’d champion Rich Franklin to capture the UFC Middleweight Crown, also in round one, and the rest is really history. He had ten UFC title defenses, and would’ve had 11 had Travis Lutter made weight in his first title defense. 16 straight wins inside the octagon, 14 finishes, he was an absolute ninja!

In addition to having ten title defenses at 185 lbs, he also went up to Light Heavyweight three times, and all three times he scored first-round knockouts, over James Irvin, former UFC Champion Forrest Griffin, and Stephan Bonnar. What many don’t realize, Anderson could have and would have been the first concurrent UFC Champion if he fought Forrest Griffin one fight beforehand, as Griffin had just lost his belt to TUF 2 Heavyweight winner Rashad Evans in the fight prior.

It’s the unreal opportunistic striking ability he possesses that made everyone believe he was unstoppable, and he still has that. Of course, he isn’t everything he used to be at almost 44 years of age, however, he does hone the same abilities he’s shown all of us before. The only difference I see is perhaps his chin isn’t as good anymore, which we were never really sure of because his head movement was so elite, and he doesn’t have much of a killer instinct anymore, as he hasn’t finished anyone since 2012 when he fought a juiced up Stephan Bonnar; and not too many people thought it was a great fight to take because it does nothing for him, but look at Bonnar’s record, the only people he’s ever lost to were current or former UFC Champions, and none of them could finish him.

In his last six fights, he’s gone 1-4 with 1 NC, I’ll just say 2-4 because Nick Diaz also failed the post-fight drug test at UFC 183. His only official win since then was a controversial decision over Derek Brunson (#8), but as I’ve stated before, his fight with Michael Bisping was also controversial for a couple reasons; reason number one is the fact that they fought in England and the judges clearly favoured the hometown guy, though I and many others thought Anderson should’ve won on the scorecards. Reason number two, a lot of people think it shouldn’t have even gone to the cards. Anderson could’ve easily gotten the stoppage when Bisping dropped at 4:58-4:59 of round 3 due to a flying knee, Bisping was still covering up when, and a couple seconds after the buzzer sounded. Regardless, Bisping got the nod on the scorecards and then proceeded to win the belt in his next fight. I just kept thinking, that could’ve been Anderson fighting Rockhold for the belt right now during the Rockhold/Bisping rematch, and still can’t help but wonder how it would’ve gone. I would have absolutely loved that match up!

As for Israel, I’m not sure we’ve ever had someone quite like him. We have some great strikers in the UFC like Edson Barboza who’s 25-3 in kickboxing, Stephen Thompson who’s 57-0 in kickboxing, Darren Till who’s 44-0 in kickboxing, but there seems to be an extra element of special with Israel Adesanya. On the night of UFC 234, he will have been with the UFC for two days shy of a year, and he’s already at this stage. 13 of his 15 wins are knockouts, and he’s already been five rounds, which is great for him. He is 32-0 in amateur kickboxing, 75-5-1 in professional kickboxing, and 5-1 in professional boxing, and he’s fighting a Muay Thai black prajied (belt/strap), and 5th-degree Taekwondo black belt. You could definitely say this is a matchup between two absolute assassins on the feet, the only difference in their skill sets is Anderson has a 3rd-degree black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu under the Nogueira brothers, while Israel has a blue belt under Andre Galvao.

Does the winner of this fight deserve a title shot? For both, I say yes, and here’s why:

Aside from Israel (#6), the next guys ranked above are Chris Weidman (#5), who’s had four knockout losses in his last five fights, Kelvin Gastelum (#4), who’s fighting for the belt moments after this fight takes place, Jacare Souza (#3), who is 2-2 in his last four fights and already fought both the champion and challenger, Luke Rockhold (#2), who’s coming off a KO loss and said he’s moving to 205 lbs, and Yoel Romero (#1), who stays at middleweight is also questionable and is 0-2 vs the champion. If Israel defeats Anderson and gets a title shot, whether he wins or loses the title fight, he will still have a bunch of middleweights to keep him busy. If he wins the belt, the division is full of potential contenders to challenge him; if he loses against Whittaker/Gastelum, he still has a bunch of guys he hasn’t fought to work his way back up and continue to grow. As for if Anderson wins, who wouldn’t want to see him fight for the belt again? Anything can happen in an Anderson Silva fight!