What's Going On?

What’s Going On? (Jan 14th – 20th)

A whole new week means a whole new set of MMA news and events that needs to be discussed by yours truly. So let’s get right into it with some interesting topics for this week:

Tony Ferguson vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov is on!

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The fight that the MMA world has been waiting for is finally upon us as Tony Ferguson is scheduled to face off against Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 223. The big question is whether or not it will be for the interim or actual UFC Lightweight Championship. If it is for the real belt then that means Conor McGregor will be stripped a second time due to inactivity. And if for some reason the fight is for the interim belt, then Dana White will once again go back on his promise (shocker) and the fans will more than likely be upset due to McGregor not defending his belt for almost two years.

Cris Cyborg vs. Amanda Nunes?

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This is probably the biggest women’s fight the UFC can make. Dana White has expressed interest in making the matchup happen, but Cris Cyborg seems uninterested in the matchup. Cyborg’s reason is that both fighters are from Brazil and she would rather not fight someone from her own country. Amanda Nunes on the other hand does not seem to care about this fact and would love to have the champion vs. champion fight anyways. Regardless, I would love to see this matchup just like every other sane human being.

Michael Bisping says no to fighting Vitor Belfort

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In their first encounter, Vitor Belfort (who may have been juiced to the gills) gave Michael Bisping his lazy eye by kicking his face into oblivion. Bisping has despised Belfort ever since and has become a strong advocate against steroid usage. Belfort called for this rematch to happen with Bisping responding by saying there is a “zero percent chance” it happens. This is another blockbuster fight that would be big especially in Bisping’s home country of England. Plus, Bisping would have a chance to avenge his loss against Belfort. If he really thinks Belfort only won because of testosterone replacement therapy, then he should have no problem beating him in a rematch with both men clean.

Paige VanZant breaks arm in fight

In Paige VanZant’s last fight against Jessica-Rose Clark, she broke her arm sometime in the first half of the fight. VanZant as able to continue fighting and went on to lose a decision to her opponent. Even though this is valiant and makes her one tough chick, it still does not excuse her coaches for letting her continue fighting. VanZant can clearly be heard telling her coaches in between round 2 and 3 that she had broke her arm and yet they let her continue fighting knowing this fact. I feel this is irresponsible and could have caused VanZant’s arm to be damaged even more and potentially beyond repair.

Cynthia Calvillo fails drug test

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Hot, young prospect Cynthia Calvillo failed an in-competition drug test for marijuana metabolites for her fight against Carla Esparza at UFC 219. Marijuana usage in MMA is a controversial one. While there are many reasons why marijuana should be legal in MMA, the NSAC still has it as an illegal substance. Therefor all fighters must abide by these rules and regulations. There should be no reason to not follow these rules as doing so would just cause a suspension from the commission. Calvillo shouldn’t have taken it knowing thee guidelines and will thus face the price for it. Still, I hope this rule is changed in the near future.

Other News:

What Happened?

What Happened? (UFC Fight Night: Stephens vs. Choi)

Another great night of fights have ended when two knockout artists faced off in a featherweight bout in St. Louis, Missouri. Now it is time to see how the fights went down and how my predictions fared at UFC Fight Night: Stephens vs. Choi:

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Darren “The Damage” Elkins vs. Michael “The Menace” Johnson

Darren Elkins was able to pull off another epic comeback when he faced off against former lightweight Michael Johnson. First he had to weather the storm of “The Menace’s” quick and heavy hands in the first round that left his face bloodied up. Although he was stuffed a few times in the first, “The Damage” was able to get Johnson down to the ground in the second with a perfectly timed takedown and get the rear naked choke for the victory. This must be disheartening for Johnson who was looking to make a splash in the featherweight division. His striking was still pretty crisp and should only look to improve his grappling moving forward. Meanwhile, Elkins has shown that he is a serious threat to anybody in the division and will be looking to face a top ranked fighter in the future.

Winner: Darren Elkins via Submission in Round 2

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Kamaru “Nigerian Nightmare” Usman vs. Emil “Valhalla” Meek

Kamaru Usman decided to take the safe route in this one when he pressured Emil Meek with his impressive wrestling and grappling to get the decision victory. Had the “Nigerian Nightmare” stood and tried to strike with “Valhalla” then he would more than likely have been able to score the knockout victory. This could have brought him more fans and given him better favorability among Dana White. I still think his performance was awesome due to the number of takedowns he was able to score that slammed his opponent to the mat. Meek should, obviously, look to improve his grappling so that this does not happen again.

Winner: Kamaru Usman via Decision

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Paige “12 Gauge” VanZant vs. Jessica-Rose Clark

Paige VanZant’s UFC career has been frustrating to watch I must admit. Every time it looks like she is improving she ends up going back to doing the same thing she has done in almost all of her fights. For instance, that headlock takedown that she uses to throw he opponent over her back and onto the mat has been used by her in just about every fight I have watched of her (I dare you to watch her previous fights and prove me wrong). This takedown is very ineffective though which make me very upset that she still uses it. It almost always gives her opponents her back which is EXACTLY what happened in this fight at the very beginning. Then she has the audacity to try that flying switch kick multiple times against Jessica-Rose Clark just because she was able to get a knockout from it against Bec Rawlings. It just made her too predictable. I’m curious if Team Alpha Male is a good fit for her because I have seen little improvement from a fighter that shows a lot of potential. As for Clark, she was able to do everything she needed to do to beat VanZant. Her grappling and top control was enough to win the first two rounds and then in the third round (with VanZant’s arm being broken) was able to keep VanZant at bay with her boxing. Clark is getting somewhat of a following especially with this win so it will be interesting to see how she does against possibly the champ or another top contender in flyweight (if there are any)

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Jeremy “Lil’ Heathen” Stephens vs. “The Korean Superboy” Doo Ho Choi

Now we know who da fook he is. Stephens came in and did what he needed to do to silence the haters (and contards) by dismantling fan-favorite Doo Ho Choi. The fight was pretty close in the first round with (in my eyes) Doo Ho Choi winning the round arguably. The second round was where “Lil’ Heathen” was able to get “The Korean Superboy” closer towards the cage wall. This is where Stephens excels at since his ability to pressure fighters with his striking and great power. This is what got him the victory as he dropped Choi with an impressive right hook and then followed up with ground and pound for the victory. Stephens needs to ride this momentum to make this his year. He usually falls short against top contenders so he must continue to improve in his striking defense and grappling that usually leads to his downfall. Choi on the other hand needs to stop using his chin as an excuse for poor striking defense. He has just been too hittable in his prior fights.

Winner: Jeremy Stephens via Knockout/Technical Knockout in Round 2

Who You Got?

Who You Got? (UFC Fight Night: Stephens vs. Choi)

The UFC returns to St. Louis when two precise featherweight strikers go head to head in the main event of the evening. Here are my picks and predictions for how all of the main card fights of the night will go down:

Kamaru “Nigerian Nightmare” Usman vs. Emil “Valhalla” Meek

Here we have two guys who would love to (and more than likely will) score a knockout of the night. Kamaru Usman has been on a warpath as of late winning ten in a row with half of those wins being knockouts. Emil Meek on the other hand had an impressive debut against Jordan Mein when he was able to get a decision win in his opponent’s home territory. I expect Usman to get the win here with his pressure and right hand power against Meeks crazy swing-for-the-fences style. Since I see Meek getting hit a lot in the opening round, I expect one of those shots to put him away making it a quick night for the “Nigerian Nightmare.”

Predicted winner: Kamaru Usman via Knockout/Technical Knockout in Round 1

Paige “12 Gauge” VanZant vs. Jessica Rose-Clark

The hype train the is Paige VanZant moves up to the flyweight division where she takes on fairly new Jessica Rose-Clark. VanZant’s relentlessness will help he trough this fight as Rose-Clark is a great technical fighter who will make this a close fight. The way I see this fight going is VanZant using her cardio and takedown attempts to edge out a decision. Rose-Clark likes to throw down on the feet and only gets top position through reversals and sweeps when taken down. VanZant’s top control is good enough to help her grind towards a decision.

Predicted winner: Paige VanZant via Decision

Uriah “Prime Time” Hall vs. Vitor “The Phenom” Belfort

Darren “The Damage” Elkins vs. Michael “The Menace” Johnson

Sadly Uriah Hall vs. Vitor Belfort had to be taken away from us due to Hall’s weight cutting dilemma (I even had to rewrite this prediction now). So instead Darren Elkins and Michael Johnson will fill in the main card slot.  This is going to be another brawler vs. technical striker (similar to the Usman vs. Meeks bout above). The difference being Elkins constant takedown attempts he does in every fight. However, Johnson is a superb wrestler and more than likely stuff Elkins takedown attempts. Meanwhile, on the feet I expect Johnson to outstrike the ever tough Darren Elkins towards his first win in the featherweight division by a decision.

Predicted winner: Michael Johnson via Decision

Jeremy “Lil’ Heathen” Stephens vs. “The Korean Superboy” Doo Ho Choi

Finally it is main event time as we see an extremely close matchup that the matchmakers have gifted us with here. I was leaning towards Doo Ho Choi to win this for the longest time but decided to go with the veteran in Jeremy Stephens to get the victory. His ability to pressure and counter at the same time has been so impressive. Choi’s striking has been good but has been hit too many times while on the back foot or when pressured (see his fight with Cub Swanson for example). Takedowns won’t be an issue here either as I expect both to stand and trade with one another. This will lead to a huge win for Stephens which may end in a knockout but I see a decision as the more likely since Choi has such a great chin.

Predicted winner: Stephens via Decision