Breaking: TUF – Heavy Hitters cast revealed.

Premierieng on August 29th,  the highly anticipated 28th season of The Ultimate Fighter® will see UFC® middleweight champion Robert Whittaker coach opposite No. 4 ranked contender Kelvin Gastelum.

Following the series, which debuts Wednesday, August 29 on FS1, the two will clash for the middleweight title at a date that will be determined in the near future.

Continue reading “Breaking: TUF – Heavy Hitters cast revealed.”

MMAMotion Week In Focus #1

International fight week has lived up to expectations once again, we had two great UFC events as two more fighters won The Ultimate Fighter, and the coaches went head to head to decide who would become the baddest man on the planet and obtain the UFC heavyweight title. In this article, I’m going to take you through some of the key highlights of the week and I plan on making this a weekly article to keep everyone updated on whats going on in the world of MMA.

Continue reading “MMAMotion Week In Focus #1”

Breaking News: TUF 28 Coaches Announced.

The Ultimate Fighter season 28 Heavy Hitters will begin filming next week, and after plenty of speculation, it has been announced that the current UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker and Kelvin Gastelum will be the head coaches as sports toughest tournament sets to take off once again. Gastelum’s wishes of a title shot have finally come true as coaches are scheduled to fight later this year.

Continue reading “Breaking News: TUF 28 Coaches Announced.”

Opinion: After a dominant victory over Raquel Pennington, what’s next for Amanda Nunes and the other UFC 224 winners?

UFC 224 is in the books and more than a few people will be feeling sheepish as they scroll through social media this morning. Many fans had publicly written this event off for lack of star power, but when all was said and done, UFC 224 was one of the more entertaining cards in recent memory. Even the UFC themselves took the time to reference the criticism they had received in the lead up to the event.

On the main card alone we were treated to walk off KO’s from Lyoto Machida and John Lineker, as well as a knockdown followed by a swift submission from Mackenzie Dern. Not to mention there were also two outstanding 5 round fights with Kelvin Gastelum and Jacare Souza needing the judges to separate them and Amanda Nunes putting an end to a rough night for Raquel Pennington before the fifth round was over.

Let’s take a look at what could be next for Amanda Nunes and the other main card winners, following an entertaining night of action in Rio de Janeiro.

Lyoto Machida (24-8-0)

Lyoto Machida Vitor Belfort MMAMotion
Photo – Jason Silva, USA Today Sports

Kicking off the main card, former champion Lyoto Machida sent fellow Brazilian Vitor Belfort into retirement in dramatic fashion after just one minute of the second round. The spectacular knockout win gives Machida his first two fight win streak in a little over four years and while one final run at the title is unlikely, he proved that he still has plenty to offer the sport, 15 years on from his professional debut.

In his post fight interview, Machida admitted he had someone in mind for his next outing and joined the lengthy queue of middleweights and light heavyweights calling out former champion Michael Bisping (30-9-0).

Bisping has recently confirmed that he is “probably retired” and only a significant offer would entice him back into the cage. He also explained that offer would likely need to be at 205lbs rather than at middleweight. Would a light heavyweight match up between the two future hall of famers be enough the draw him into the octagon for one last hurrah? Only time will tell.

John Lineker (31-8-0)

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Photo – Jason Silva, USA Today Sports

John “Hands of Stone” Lineker lived up to his name on Saturday night with a stunning one punch KO of American bantamweight Brian Kelleher. While a win over unranked Kelleher is unlikely to do much for Lineker’s number six ranking, the 27-year-old knockout artist is likely to be looking for an opponent above him in the bantamweight rankings for his next fight.

With everyone above him in the rankings already booked to fight in the coming months, Lineker is somewhat short of options. The fight which makes the most sense, would be for him to face whoever picks up a loss when Jimmie Rivera (21-1-0) faces Marlon Moraes (20-5-1) in June.

Mackenzie Dern (7-0-0)

Mackenzie Dern Amanda Cooper MMAMotion
Photo – Jason Silva, USA Today Sports

Arguably the biggest talking point heading into UFC 224 was Mackenzie Dern’s weight. Coming in a little more than 7 pounds above the strawweight limit, Dern received a significant amount of criticism from both her colleagues and fans around the world. Just 2 minutes into her second UFC appearance, Dern landed a huge over hand right which knocked her opponent, former amateur golden gloves winner Amanda Bobby Cooper, to the canvas. Dern was quick to take advantage, bringing the fight to a close via rear naked choke just seconds later.

Putting the weigh in to one side, it was an impressive performance from the BJJ world champion. Certainly a marked improvement on her UFC debut just eight weeks prior. Unfortunately for Dern, the win will forever be marred by her missing weight by such a significant amount and the damage to her professional reputation which comes with that.

Dern addressed her disappointing performance on the scales during the post event press conference.

“On Friday, at 9 a.m. I wasn’t cutting anymore weight, I was in the sauna and there’s no more water coming out, I wasn’t sweating. I couldn’t walk anymore and the commission said you can’t keep going. Thankfully, Amanda accepted the fight. I’m ashamed at that. I don’t want that to happen again but it’s a mistake.” Dern said. “The UFC is investing in me and I’m going to work with them not to happen ever again.”

Dern went on to confirm that she had been informed that the UFC wanted her to move up to flyweight following the failed weight cut.

“My manager said that the UFC would want me to move up in weight. I believe that they won’t,” Dern said. “On Friday, [UFC matchmaker] Mick [Maynard] called me and said we have in institute here in Vegas and we’re going to invest in you, we want you here, we’re going to work with you so I said I’m going to work with you guys. I can’t lose that opportunity to get all this help from this organization that is so big and it’s going to help me make weight.”

With the BJJ star seemingly intent on remaining in the strawweight division, it’s time to consider the next step in her development. Juliana Lima (9-5-0) sits just outside the top 15 at 115lbs. With twice as many professional fights as Dern, Lima would provide a stiff test for the 25-year-old. Lima fell short in her last two bouts against Tecia Torres and Randa Markos and a victory over Dern would provide a quick change in career trajectory for the 36-year-old Brazilian. For Dern, this would be her final chance to prove she is capable of hitting her mark at strawweight and should she be victorious, a ranked opponent would be likely for her next fight.

Kelvin Gastelum (15-3-0, 1 nc)

Kelvin Gastelum Jacare Souza MMAMotion
Photo – Jason Silva, USA Today Sports

Kelvin Gastelum continued his mission for gold on Saturday night, doing enough to earn an extremely close fought split decision win over number 2 ranked middleweight Jacare Souza. It was a mature performance from the 26-year-old. It’s notoriously difficult to earn a split decision win as an underdog when fighting someone in front of their home crowd, but Gastelum managed it.

Having beaten the former champion and the number two contender in his last two fights, there is only one viable fight for Gastelum. He needs to face the winner of Yoel Romero (13-2-0) vs Robert Whittaker (19-4-0) and get his shot at the gold he covets so much. The UFC middleweight division is in a transition phase at the moment with a number of veterans reaching the end of their careers and it has provided the perfect environment for Gastelum to make his rapid climb to the top of the pile. With Luke Rockhold contemplating his future at 185lbs and former champion Chris Weidman recovering from injury, like it or not, Gastelum is next in line for a run at the belt.

Amanda Nunes (16-4-0)

Amanda Nunes Raquel Pennington MMAMotion

Amanda Nunes finally seems to be getting the respect she deserves. In a dominant display she outgunned a game Raquel Pennington over the course of four rounds, leading to Pennington telling her corner that she was done. Her corner ultimately talked her down and sent her back out for the fifth round, a decision which has led to an overwhelming amount of criticism from professional fighters everywhere. As expected, Pennington had little left to give and was finished by a flurry of Nunes strikes halfway through the final round.

The win fires Nunes into the record books with more finishes (7) than any other female fighter in UFC history.

With Pennington safely dispatched and her third title defence in the bag, focus will naturally shift to what might be next for the bantamweight queen.

With the number one ranked 135lb fighter Holly Holm enjoying some time at featherweight, and number three ranked Julianna Pena on maternity leave, there are limited options for Nunes in her own division. The obvious choice for her next title defence would be the number four ranked contender, Ketlen Vieira (10-0-0). The 26-year-old Brazilian is yet to taste defeat in ten professional fights and most recently earned a hard fought split decision win over perennial contender Cat Zingano.

There is, however, an alternative path for Nunes to tread should everything fall into place. Prior to booking the title defence against Pennington, there had been extensive talk of Nunes stepping up to 145lbs to take on arguably the most feared women in MMA, Cris Cyborg (20-1-0). The reigning women’s featherweight champion seemed to have reluctantly come around to the idea of putting her belt on the line against Nunes before the Pennington fight was announced. It now seems highly likely that those conversations will be rekindled in the coming weeks, perhaps targeting a fight before the year is out.

 

Betting breakdown: UFC 224 Underdog Betting Pick

Disclaimer: any betting advice given here is for entertainment purposes only. If you choose to gamble on fights, please do so legally and responsibly and understand that it is at your own risk.

UFC 224 takes place May 12, at Jeunesse Arena, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Today we will be taking a in depth look at my underdog pick for the card.

Kelvin Gastelum ITD +195 (Bovada)

I really like Gastelum here. Jacare is a legend and he has the skill to submit anyone should the fight go to to the ground, however I think he will struggle to get Kelvin down. Souza is elite on the ground, but doesn’t necessarily have elite takedowns, unlike D1 All American Chris Weidman, who was able to take Kelvin down relatively easy.

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In the striking department, while Souza is still dangerous(evidenced by his spectacular headkick KO of Derek Brunson in January) I expect Kelvin to have a significant speed advantage, in addition to some of the best boxing in the division, if not the entire UFC. I expect Gastelum to be patient, avoid the takedown early and use his speed and crisp combinations to put Souza away in the first round.

Kelvin-Gastelum-Vitor-Belfort

At 38 years old Jacare is nearing the end of his career, while Kelvin at 26 is still coming into his prime, as inevitably happens in this sport, I believe we will witness another changing of the guard Saturday night in Rio.

UFC 224 Fight Preview: Jacare vs Gastelum

One of the biggest fights right now in the middleweight division will take place when #2 ranked middleweight Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza faces off against #5 ranked Kelvin Gastelum at UFC 224 in Brazil this Saturday night. Prior to the event, let’s take a closer look at the two warriors who occupy the co-main event spot on the first PPV event in Brazil since June of last year.

Jacare is the definition of a complete mixed martial artist. He has countless Brazilian jiu-jitsu accolades and has been a professional MMA fighter since 2003. Despite being so dominant on the ground, Souza has developed a fantastic wrestling base and has a tip-top stand up game to match. The former Strikeforce middleweight champion has a 25-5 record and has fought, and beaten, some of the best fighters in middleweight’s MMA history, names include Robbie Lawler, Gegard Mousasi and Vitor Belfort. But despite multiple performances of the night awards, the sixth-degree black belt has never fought for a UFC belt. But he’ll be hoping with the right result over Gastelum he will finally get his chance to carry the torch for the UFC’s middleweight division.

Kelvin Gastelum knocks out boxers, submits legit BJJ practitioners, and outwrestles all Americans. Gastelum has surpassed expectations since moving up to middleweight after a troubling time at welterweight cutting weight. Critics always thought that Gastelum seemed too small to trouble the guys at the top of the middleweight division, but the 26-year-old is proving them all wrong. Gastelum has a 14-3 pro record but he possesses all the tools to make it a difficult night for his Brazilian opposition. The Californian impressed in his last fight when he knocked out former UFC middleweight champion Michael Bisping in an impressive fashion, earning him this fight with the #2 contender of the division.

A few people have asked me who I believe is going to take this fight, I have a sneaky suspicion that Gastelum might upset the apple cart a little bit. I think the Californian has it in him to knock out Jacare early and get the job done inside two rounds. But the unknown outcomes are what makes mixed martial arts so appealing. This fight is there for the taking for both of these gentlemen.

Ryan Cambridge

Breakdown: UFC 224 Gastelum vs. Jacare – Keys to Victory

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

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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

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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?