Opinion: Top Knockouts of 2018 – September

Kailin Hill does it again, a superman punch into a flying knee knockout against Adam Fugitt @ LFA 51 on September 28th

Geoff Neal with the head kick KO on Frank Camacho @ UFC 228 on September 8th

AJ McKee deads John Macapá @ Bellator 205 on September 21st

Jéssica Andrade knocks out Karolina Kowalkiewicz @ UFC 228 on September 8th

Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos lands a flying knee and follows it up with a knockout @ UFC Fight Night: Sao Paulo on September 22nd

Thiago Santos, Jan Blachowicz set to headline UFC’s first visit to the Czech Republic

The UFC has found it’s main event for the promotion’s first visit to the Czech Republic – #4-ranked Jan Blachowicz will take on #7-ranked Thiago Santos at UFC Prague on February 23rd, 2019.

Jan Blachowicz is currently riding his first winning streak in the UFC since he debuted in 2014. After losing a majority decision to Patrick Cummins at UFC 210 in April 2017, Blachowicz  has reeled off four straight; taking out Devin Clark, Jared Cannonier, getting revenge in the rematch against Jimi Manuwa and most recently spoiling Nikita Krylov’s return to the UFC with an arm-triangle choke on enemy soil just three months ago.

Thiago Santos signed the agreement for this bout fresh off a knockout win against Jimi Manuwa that took place just 13 days ago, in which many considered to be fight of the night at UFC 231. ‘Marreta’ will be searching for his third 4-fight win streak with the UFC. 7-1 in his last eight bouts (six being stoppages), Santos has taken out Eryk Anders and the aforementioned Manuwa since moving up to light heavyweight, leapfrogging in the rankings after his latest win.

Blachowicz seems to be in the prime of his fighting career, and with the light heavyweight division starting to heat up, a win here could propel him into talks for a title shot. Santos is also in his prime, and a win here against a higher ranked opponent like Blachowicz can also do the same.

UFC Fight Night: Blachowicz Vs. Santos will air on ESPN+ from the O2 Arena.

Report: UFC sign wrestling standout Deron Winn

It has been confirmed that the UFC has secured a deal with highly touted MMA prospect and wrestling standout, Deron Winn.

The AKA team member got somewhat of a spotlight at Golden Boy Promotions last month with a victory over UFC veteran Tom Lawlor. The 29 year old Winn was previously 4-0 with four first-round TKO’s.

Deron-Winn-and-Daniel-Cormier

We got to see his impressive cardio when he took Lawlor the distance, winning via unanimous decision. He is only 5′ 7” and was fighting at light heavyweight, but it looks like he wants to cut to middleweight for his UFC debut. He was also an assistant wrestling coach on The Ultimate Fighter 27 for Team Cormier.

His wrestling credentials are endless, and he was great from the start, going 163-6 throughout high school, winning the high school state title three times, a two time Junior College National Champion, and three-time All-American, just to name a few, with countless international tournament places.

It’ll be exciting to see how he does in the UFC.

Opinion: Top Knockouts of 2018 – August

Eryk Anders with the walk-off head kick KO as the round ends against Tim Williams @ UFC Fight Night: Lincoln on August 25th

Justin Gaethje obliterates James Vick @ UFC Fight Night: Lincoln on August 25th

Ricky Bandejas knocks out James Gallagher, handing him his first professional loss @ Bellator 204 on August 17th

Alexandre ‘Popo’ Bezerra lands a flying knee to knock out Magomed Idrisov @ PFL 7 on August 30th

Sadibou Sy finishes Caio Magalhaes @ PFL 7 on August 30th

Opinion: Top Knockouts of 2018 – July

Kailin Hill lands a vicious head kick KO to start off LFA 45 on July 20th

Niko Price with the hammerfist knockout from the bottom @ UFC Fight Night: Boise on July 14th

Light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier becomes the second double champ in UFC history with his knockout of heavyweight champ Stipe Miocic @ UFC 226 on July 7th

Anthony Smith takes out a legend @ UFC Fight Night: Hamburg on July 22nd

Cristian Torres lands an uppercut from hell on Dashawn Boatwright @ LFA 46 on July 27th

Andrey Koreshkov spinning back kick’s the hell out of Vaso Bakocevic @ Bellator 203 on July 14th

Jose Aldo ends Jeremy Stephens’ night early with a liver shot @ UFC Fight Night: Calgary on July 28th

Michele Martignoni ties for fastest knockout in Bellator history @ Bellator 203 on July 14th

Raoni Barcelos is successful in his debut with a vicious combo against Kurt Holobaugh @ UFC Fight Night: Boise on July 14th

Prospect Profiles by Brad MMA: Liverpool’s own Liam McCracken (Part 1)

We head back to the North West of England in this edition of Prospect Profiles by Brad MMA, particularly the beautiful city of Liverpool. Again we will scratch the surface of the amateur leagues from the area and look at another rising talent that has all of the tools to be a future world champion.

I think we can all agree that with the current day’s game, a fighter that solely relies on striking within their competitive MMA career is somewhat doomed from the start. As the sport evolves, so do the styles and coaching methods, which in turn hugely effects the new bloodline of young fighters that are being injected into the competitive ranks. Long gone are the days that British gyms lacked quality in the grappling department. Now, we see young, amateur fighters coming into the fray with a more complete toolbox of skills to express once locked in the cage.

Nestled in amongst the Stoneycroft district of Liverpool is the Aspire Combat Sports Academy (ACSA). Headed up by veteran Cage Warriors, ACB and Bellator fighter, Dean Garnett and BJJ black belt, Phil Turner, ACSA have its fair share of experience when it comes to providing their fighters with a complete skill set, especially on the mat.

liam macracken

One particular member of their team is 17 years old, Liam McCracken. Fighting as a junior amateur since 2015, McCracken has already accumulated seven amateur fights picking up four impressive wins. Delving into that further, two of those have come by way of submission and the other two have been lopsided unanimous decisions where it has seen Liam showcase an aggressive yet patient grappling game to dominate his opponent to the buzzer.

In 2018, it is clear to see that McCracken is really hitting his stride and developing into a tremendously exciting talent. After losing his initial fight under the Celtic Gladiator banner in February, Liam got back on the proverbial horse in June against Estonian born Sandro Gogoladze on the UK Fighting Championships 7 card.

Gogoladze was most certainly the longer-limbed fighter in the contest posing a threat from distance. However, from the offset, whether it be a coach-influenced game plan or his own fight IQ, McCracken pushed forward to dominate the centre and attempt to pressure his opponent against the cage. After an initial unsuccessful scramble for a double-leg, a persistent Liam grasped his hands around the hips and sent Gogoladze to the canvass via a slamming double leg takedown. From side control, McCracken manages to pressure Gogoladze into exposing his neck and without further ado, grasped a slick guillotine choke to put an end to the fight with only 1:40 on the clock in the first round.

Now, this is a good point to mention what I find most impressive about McCracken. Referring back to my mention of his ground fundamentals by way of his coaches at ACSA, it seems that there is a noticeable switch in his character once the fight hits the canvass. Whilst the fight is standing, Liam shows his determination and ferocity in trying to get the fight to the ground, but when he obtains that authority and feels comfortable, his mentality seems to switch to be a more patient, technical and calculated mindset in order to advance his transitions and work towards control. This “comfort” in these positions is surely derived from his time under Dean Garnett and Phil Turner.

After his win over Gogoladze, McCracken kept the momentum going with a unanimous decision win over highly touted Sam Gittins and moved on to arguably the toughest test of his amateur career within the Cage Warriors Academy North West promotion on December 1st to see out the year.

Cage Warriors Academy is the regional level of the main Cage Warriors promotion. Ingeniously, it develops young, talented fighters through the ranks of amateur, and then feeds them into the main Cage Warriors promotion and on to greener pastures. Top notch UK and Northern Irish talents such as Cory McKenna and Cage Warriors’ new signing Liam Gittins have paid their dues in the development program.

For the vacant Cage Warriors Academy North West junior bantamweight belt, McCracken drew MMA Academy Liverpool protege, Curtis Campbell. Campbell, another leggy, distance-based striker would attempt to avoid the wrestling pressure game of McCracken to no avail.

The first round was one-sided, seeing Liam assertively slam Campbell to the canvass on four occasions and look for control of the back. Unable to lock in a choke, the penultimate round commenced, seeing McCracken’s dominant groundwork prevail again. Observing a 17-year-old amateur having the experience to lace his opponent’s legs and remove his base against the fence to keep full control speaks volumes, and it is this type of virtuosity that is not only a pleasure to watch for grappling fanatics but sets a young fighter apart from peers.

Another impressive and well-drilled part of McCracken’s skill-set is his ability to mix up the entries into takedowns. A lot of fighters that have a predominant grappling style tend to repeat their same preferred takedown entry to their detriment – this is not the case here. Whether it be a snatched single leg from outside or a level change with a trip from the clinch, McCracken has an assortment of options to exploit to keep his opponent guessing.

The third round saw a somewhat desperate Campbell, now heavily down on the scorecards over two rounds, look for a much-needed finish to see out the contest. A shift in momentum and pace saw McCracken go on the defensive, receiving an airborne slam of his own in the process. However, his aforementioned “comfort” with all things grappling allowed him to avoid any serious danger and see out the final round for the unanimous decision win.

As McCracken’s 2018 comes to an end on a certain high, he is morphing into a legitimate prospect that has the scouse fight fans feeling the excitement. It will be interesting to see how he defends his amateur title in such a high-level environment as the Cage Warriors Academy. Everyone on their roster has a hunger to impress. They are well versed and eager to make a name for themselves to calve their path into the Cage Warriors professional world and onwards with the likes of Paddy Pimblett and Darren Till.

One thing is for sure, McCraken’s early start in the business has been a tremendous learning curve for him and his confidence and enthusiasm, along with his fan base, has only grown. It is exciting to see how his career will blossom come 2019 under the tutorage of Garnett and Turner.

I will be catching up with Liam in the coming weeks for an interview so standby for the second part of this instalment.

– Brad Dalrymple

Follow me on Twitter @Brad_MMA

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

Results: Bellator 213 – Macfarlane vs Letourneau

Saturday 15th December, Neal S. Blaisdell Arena in Honolulu, Hawaii – Bellator will bring MMA excitement to Hawaii for the first time.

The main card will be headlined by Aloha State’s pride in the women’s division, Ilima-Lei Macfarlane against an ex-UFC fighter in Valerie Letourneau for the Bellator woman’s flyweight championship.

In the co-main event, former champions collide as MMA Veteran and former UFC champion, Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida makes his Bellator debut against former Bellator Middleweight champion, Rafael Carvalho.

To catch all the action, download the DAZN app to tune in at 8:30pm EST/5:30 CST for prelims, and at 10:00pmEST/7:00pm CST for the main card.

The play-by-play and results will be brought to you by Danty on the @MMA_Motion twitter page.

Main Card

  • Ilima-Lei Macfarlane def. Valerie Letourneau via Third Round Submission (Triangle Choke)
  • Lyoto Machida def. Rafael Carvalho via Split Decision (29-28 x2)
  • Neiman Gracie def. Ed Ruth via Fourth Round Submission (RNC)
  • Liam McGeary def. Muhammad Lawal via Third Round KO
  • Nainoa Dung def. Kona Oliveira via Third Round TKO

Preliminary Card

  • Maki Pitolo def. Chris Cisneros via Third Round Submission (RNC)
  • Timothy Teves vs. Canaan Kawaihae
  • Kai Kamaka III def. Shojin Miki via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)
  • Ryan Dela Cruz vs. Spencer Higa
  • Dustin Barca def. Isaac Hopps via Split Decision (30-27, 29-28)
  • Kala Hose vs. Marcus Gamble
  • Russell Mizuguchi vs. Michael Nakagawa

 

 

Confirmed: Diego Sanchez vs Mickey Gall booked for UFC 235

It looks like Mickey Gall will get his wish as he’s now slated to fight The Ultimate Fighter series one winner, Diego Sanchez at UFC 235 in Las Vegas.

After Gall’s last win over George Sullivan at UFC Fight Night 135, he called out “The Nightmare” for a good old-fashioned scrap, and it looks like the challenge has been accepted.

Gall has gathered himself a reputation for his post-fight callouts, with names such as Sage Northcutt and Dan Hardy, rolling off his tongue in some of his previous Octagon interviews.

The Jackson-Wink veteran, Sanchez is by far the most experienced fighter Mickey has ever fought with 41 fights to his record and an accumulation of 16 years of experience in the cage. However, in the last two years, his form has become questionable, ultimately going 3-3 since the start of 2016.

Gall has built a solid reputation in the UFC welterweight division since being discovered on the show “Dana White: Looking for a Fight”. He was drafted predominantly to face a debuting CM Punk. Gall subsequently dispatched Punk with ease in the first round and has since followed through with wins over notable names such as Sage Northcutt and George Sullivan.

Youth and ground technicals are definitely on his side, but experience may play a factor, who knows with this one?

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