Zabit Magomedsharipov is riding a high under the UFC banner. Currently undefeated and on a four-fight win streak in the UFC and considered as the next UFC star, he is capitalising on the momentum by trying to steer the UFC brass to his next Octagon outing. Continue reading “Report: Zabit wants Chad Mendes in his next UFC outing”
In the days leading up to UFC 228, a number of people could be found on social media writing this card off as ‘boring’ and promising that they wouldn’t be watching. Of course there is no real way to tell just how much of that was just social media bravado but if people really did avoid this card, they missed out on one of the most entertaining events of the year so far.
For any of you who think I’m exaggerating, I’d invite you to check out these two finishes, neither of which were awarded performance bonuses…
The former UFC featherweight Yair “El Pantera” Rodriguez is now in talks to figh #12 ranked featherweight Zabit Magomedsharipov at UFC 228 later in September.
Earlier this month, Rodriguez was released from the UFC by Dana White after a spat regarding a fight offer with Zabit. However, as per ESPN’s Brett Okamoto, it appears Yair has done a U-turn, and is back in discussions:
Dana White cut The 25-year-old Mexican prospect after refusing consecutive fight offers.
The news follows reports that Combate Americas, a one time suitor of Rodriguez following his alleged release by the UFC, have withdrawn their contract offer to the young star.
A Combate Americas executive revealed to MMAMotion that they had indeed withdrawn their offer, amid concerns that Rodriguez wasn’t committed to signing with them.
We withdrew the offer to Yair last week. We felt we made a great offer. However, if we are going to make an investment in any talent, we feel that the talent should be 100% committed to Combate Americas. In this case, Yair’s representative was taking what we felt was a prolonged period of time to make any kind of decision, so we felt it was in our best interest to move on.
More on this news as it develops.
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).
The UFC is never short of title challengers, with Dana White constantly scouting the globe for fresh talent on Dana White’s Looking For A Fight, Tuesday Night Contender Series and The Ultimate Fighter, we are lucky enough to know the future of MMA is in safe hands. In this list, we’re going to look at the top five potential UFC champions.
5. Tai Tuivasa
Tai “Bam Bam” Tuivasa has surprised many since making his UFC debut last year. The 25-year-old has an undefeated professional record of 7-0 with all seven of his wins coming by way of knockout in the first round. “Bam Bam” is expected to face his toughest opponent yet when he faces former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski at UFC 225 in June. The Australian will be hoping to keep up his destructive record by punching a hole through the former champion and climb the rankings on his journey to the top of the heavyweight division.
4. Israel Adesanya
28-year-old Israel “Stylebender” Adesanya has also impressed in his recent fights inside MMA’s greatest proving ground. With a great reputation in kickboxing, it must have been a surprise to many when the “Stylebender” chose to switch his focus to mixed martial arts. This decision has treated Adesanya well though. He has earned an undefeated record of 13-0. The Nigerian made his UFC debut in February of this year when he stamped his authority in the middleweight division with a very impressive TKO victory over Rob Wilkinson. Adesanya then fought Marvin Vettori just two weeks ago at UFC On Fox Glendale. He has wasted no time in getting back inside octagon again as he is scheduled to be the main event for The Ultimate Fighter Finale in July where he’ll occupy his first main event.
3. Darren Till
Englands own, Darren Till, has continued to defy expectations on his road to the top of the welterweight division. Till has excited many and his coaches believe he is the best in the business. “The Gorilla” is a master in Muay thai and has all the weapons in his arsenal to make life very difficult for anyone who dares to stand toe to toe with him inside the octagon. He also holds an undefeated record of 16 wins and one draw, and in Till‘s latest fight, he completely pasted UFC fan favourite Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone in the first round. Till faces his toughest test to date though at UFC Liverpool at the end of May in Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson. If Till gets the victory he desires, he could well be in line to get a shot at champion Tyrone Woodley‘s strap.
2. Zabit Magomedsharipov
Another tough Russian out of Dagestan, Zabit Magomedsharipov has a professional record of 15-1. He is a very exciting fighter to watch, throwing fancy strikes from all different angles, and is never in one spot for more than a fraction of a second. Pairing this up with his Russian grade wrestling, it makes Zabit one of the toughest featherweights on the planet. It’s going to be very exciting watching him climb the rankings from the #14 ranked position he occupies at this current time. Zabit proved once again how much of great fighter he is when he fought Kyle Bochniak at UFC 223. He outclassed the brawler in every aspect of MMA and is looking forward to fighting higher ranked opponents in the future.
1. Paulo Costa
27-year-old Paulo Costa as the real deal at middleweight. He is the size of a light heavyweight with insane punching power, incredible wrestling, and a shifty ground game. Costa has finished every pro fight he has ever been in and holds an impressive 11-0 record – 10 knockouts and one submission. Since making his UFC debut back in March of 2017, Costa has put away Garreth McLennan, Oluwale Bamgbose and former welterweight champion Johnny Hendricks, and is showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon. Costa is scheduled to fight Uriah Hall at UFC 226 in July, and I’m sure he will emerge victoriously and be the new middleweight champion by 2020!
After one of the most outrageous fight weeks in memory, we finally made it to UFC 223. Nine fights which remained on the card and while they may have lacked in highlight real finishes, they more than made up for it with some exciting, back and forth battles and some serious displays of heart.
Let’s take a look at what could be next for new lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov and the other winning fighters.
Devin Clark (9-2-0)
In picking up a comfortable unanimous decision victory over Mike Rodriguez, Devin Clark moved back into the win column following his loss to Jan Blachowicz at UFC Fight Night 117.
Clark moves to 3-2-0 in his UFC career and a match up with Khalil Rountree (6-3-0) seems like a logical next step. Rountree is 2-3-0 in the UFC and is coming off of a loss to Michal Oleksiejczuk at UFC 219 last December. A win for either fighter would push them one step closer to breaking into the UFC light heavyweight rankings.
Ashlee Evans Smith (6-3-0)
In a match up which represented the 125lbs debut for both fighters, Ashlee Evans Smith won every round on the score cards on her way to a unanimous decision victory over Bec Rawlings. Evans Smith appeared bigger and stronger in coming down from 135 lbs than her opponent who was making the step up from strawweight and it showed in her performance.
For her second flyweight bout, Rachel Ostovich (4-3-0) would provide Evans Smith with an opportunity to gain a foothold in the rankings. Ostovich hasn’t fought since a winning effort at the TUF 26 finale against Karine Gevorgyan and as a natural flyweight would provide a sterner test for Evans Smith.
Olivier Aubin-Mercier (11-2-0)
Canadian Gangster, Olivier Aubin-Mercier added a fourth win to his UFC win streak with an impressive first round TKO victory over Evan Dunham. The win moves the “Quebec Kid” to a record of 7-2-0 in the UFC.
In his next fight, Aubin-Mercier will look to cement his place in the UFC lightweight rankings. Beneil Dariush (14-4-1) is currently ranked at number 15 in the lightweight division and would be the perfect opponent to welcome Aubin-Mercia to the rankings. Dariush is 0-2-1 in his last three fights following losses to Alexander Hernandez and Edson Barbosa either side of a draw against the man Aubin-Mercia just defeated, Evan Dunham.
Karolina Kowalkiewicz (12-2-0)
Bringing the preliminary card to a close, former title challenger Karolina Kowalkiewicz earned a split decision victory to end the four fight win streak of Felice Herrig. Speaking after the fight, Kowalkiewicz voiced her desire to earn another shot at the UFC strawweight title.
A rematch with Joanna Jedrzejczyk (14-2-0) seems inevitable if Kowalkiewicz is to fight her way back into title contention. The two Polish stars last met at UFC 205 where Jedrzeczyk won a comfortable victory over her compatriot. If Kowalkiewicz can demonstrate that she has improved enough to topple Joanna in a rematch, that will surely be enough to earn her another opportunity to become the UFC strawweight champion.
Chris Gruetzemacher (14-3-0)
With an impressively dominant TKO win over veteran Joe Lauzon, Chris Gruetzemacher snapped his two fight losing streak and picked up his first UFC win since his debut. It was a professional performance from the 31-year-old former TUF contestant and it came as little shock when Lauzon’s corner called an end to the fight after the second round.
For Gruetzemacher’s next fight, I’d like to see him matched with Ross Pearson (20-14-0, 1 n/c). Pearson is coming off a decision win over Mizuto Hirota at UFC 221. Both fighters are 1-2 in their last three fights and a win for either fighter would move them a step closer to the UFC lightweight rankings.
Zabit Magomedsharipov (15-1-0)
In an incredibly entertaining fight of the night, Zabit Magomedsharipov impressed with a decision win over an extremely game Kyle Bochniak. In his post fight interview, Zabit called for a match up with number 10 ranked featherweight prospect Yair Rodriguez. Yair responded on Twitter saying, “Congrats on a great win Zabit. It would be an honor to fight you one day. We’ll have to meet each other in the Top 10 which I know you’ll make quickly. My next fight coming up, so stay tuned.”.
There can be no doubting the talent of Zabit and it makes sense for him to take on a ranked opponent in his next fight. Darren Elkins (24-5-0) is currently ranked at number nine in the featherweight division and is carrying a six fight win streak. Elkins is another incredibly tough fighter and has the necessary skills to test Zabit in a way that he has not yet been tested in his short UFC career.
Renato Moicano (12-1-1)
Renato Moicano bounced back from a third round submission loss to Brian Ortega at UFC 214, earning a comfortable unanimous decision win over Calvin Kattar. Moicano dominated the final two rounds of the fight, peppering Kattar with leg kicks on the way to ending his opponents 10 fight win streak.
Veteran featherweight Ricardo Lamas (18-6-0) is coming off a loss to Josh Emmett last December and is 3-3 in his last six fights. With Moicano looking to climb the rankings, number 7 ranked 35-year-old Lamas would make for an interesting test.
Rose Namajunas (8-3-0)
In her first defense of the UFC strawweight title, Rose Namajunas proved that her first victory over Joanna Jedrzejczyk was no fluke, picking up a unanimous decision victory after an entertaining 5 round battle.
While Jedrzejczyk remains convinced that she did enough to win the fight, it is time for Rose to move on from the dominant former champion and focus on building a legacy of her own. Jessica Andrade (18-6-0) is the next logical contender for the title and would present an interesting challenge for the champion. Andrade has the ground skills to test Rose with seven of her 18 victories coming via submission. With Claudia Gadhela and Karolina Kowalkiewicz both also looking for another crack at the title, there are no shortage of options for “Thug” Rose over the coming months.
Khabib Nurmagomedov (26-0-0)
After perhaps the most dramatic fight week on record, Khabib Nurmagomedov defeated Al Iaquinta by unanimous decision to claim the UFC lightweight championship. Khabib could be forgiven for being a little less than his absolute best considering Iaquinta was the fourth opponent scheduled to face him in just over a week. Despite this, the 29-year-old never really looked troubled by Iaquinta and finally captured the belt he has coveted for so long.
Post fight, Khabib suggested a match up with all time great Georges St.Pierre. As fun as that fight would be, talk naturally turned to Conor McGregor (21-3-0). Considering the events of fight week and the genuine tension which exists between them, no opponent makes more sense for Khabib right now than the Irishman. Speaking about the prospect of facing McGregor in the octagon, the new champion confirmed that he was eager to make it happen.
“I hope he’s gonna fight. We have to fight. Make world tour everywhere, Tokyo, Moscow, Dublin, Los Angeles, Rio. Big world tour, promote this fight, and fight end of the year, biggest arena in the world, Madison Square Garden. Why not? Or maybe in Zaire or Philippines. Doesn’t matter. Doesn’t matter, I’m here. He want to become lightweight champion? He have to fight with me. Now, no more this all fake champions. You guys remember when he put tweet, ‘Beg me.’ Please, beg me.
“We have to finish this. It’s going to be very big fight. It’s going to be very big fight, I think. Let’s go. I am ready for this. November, September in Moscow, November in New York. Any time. Let’s go. Let’s fight in Africa or somewhere. I am here.”
Khabib Nurmagomedov vs Conor McGregor in Africa for the UFC lightweight title? Who doesn’t want to see that?