Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returned to action for UFC 213: “Romero vs. Whittaker,” which went down last night (Sat., July 8, 2017) inside inside the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada airing live on pay-per-view (PPV). The promotion’s latest mixed martial arts (MMA) card was supposed to be headlined by a women’s Bantamweight title fight between division queen Amanda Nunes and Valentina Shevchenko before “Lioness” was bounced from the event after she fell ill on fight day. As a result, Yoel Romero and Robert Whittaker’s interim Middleweight title fight was pegged as the headliner.
Biggest winner: Robert Whittaker
And new … interim champ! “The Reaper” now has his first UFC title after outworking and outclassing Yoel Romero in “Sin City” (see it again here), putting an end to “Soldier of God’s” perfect run inside the Octagon, as well as his title hopes. Whittaker was simply too much for the wrestling powerhouse, who couldn’t capitalize on his bum knee throughout the fight. It gave Whittaker the opportunities he needed to land his shots and pull away the clear cut unanimous decision win. And while the interim belt is nice and all, you can bet Whittaker is a bit happier knowing he will get his chance to put hands on reigning division champion, Michael Bisping, later this year for the chance to unify the straps. Unless of course, this fight somehow manages to go take place first.
Runner Up: Anthony Pettis
“Showtime” needed a win in the biggest way as the former Lightweight champion returned to his old stomping grounds at UFC 213, fighting at 155 pounds for the first time since suffering three straight defeats in the division. And after having a terrible run at Featherweight, where he went 1-1, including losing an interim title fight to Max Holloway, Pettis can breathe easy knowing he’s back in the win column at 155 pounds. Or at all, for that matter. His dominant victory over Jim Miller (recap) likely won’t be enough to shoot him up the upper tier of the ranks, but it will, at the very least, get him a more high profile fight in his next outing. Baby steps.
Biggest Loser: Travis Browne
It hasn’t been a good couple of years for “Hapa,” as he has now lost four in a row, including his latest setback against Alexey Oliynyk, who submitted the towering Heavyweight in the second round of the “Prelims” headlining bout (see it). And it doesn’t take a genius to figure out the his troubles all began when he left Jackson-Winkeljohn to join Glendale Fight Club in California. What the future holds for “Hapa” is unclear, as the promotion will have a tough decision to make regarding one of its heavy hitters. And to hear Browne tell it, he wouldn’t be too surprised if he was let go from his roster spot.
For complete UFC 213 coverage, including play-by-play results, click here
Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Welterweight WRASTLERS Dong Hyun Kim and Colby Covington dueled yesterday (June 17, 2017) at UFC Fight Night 111 inside Singapore Indoor Arena in Kellang, Singapore.
Kim entered this bout as the least respected No.8-ranked fighter in the world. Despite his success inside the Octagon, Kim has gained very little forward momentum towards the title, and this match up against an unranked prospect was the latest show of disinterest towards “Stun Gun.”
Unfortunately, the other problem for Kim is that Covington is a really damn good unranked prospect. The D1 All-American wrestler had won six of seven UFC bouts heading into this battle, but this was his chance to make a major leap in competition.
Covington passed this test with flying colors.
Despite an early slip, it was Covington who scored the first takedown, landing a single leg along the fence. Kim scrambled quickly to the fence and stood, but Covington was able to transition into the back clinch. It took a few moments, but Covington eventually transitioned back into the double leg and finished the shot.
With two minutes remaining, Kim finally escaped the endless takedown transition and get back up to his feet fully. However, he was unable to get his back of the fence, allowing Covington to keep his man pinned until the final 50 seconds. Immediately after breaking free, Kim went into “Korean Zombie” mode and lunged after Covington, but he wasn’t able to land anything major.
It was a very strong start for the American wrestler.
Covington opened the round with some decent kicks, but it didn’t take long for him to transition back to his chain wrestling attack. Kim’s defensive grappling was solid enough to stop Covington from really locking down a dominant position, and he eventually escaped the clinch.
Only to get cracked with a nasty overhand left! Covington chased down his wounded foe with kicks, flying knees, and more left hands, but he he eventually chose to simply take the fight back down to the mat. Kim tried to reverse and scramble, but even when he found good position Covington relentless fought to get on top.
Ten minutes deep into the round, “Chaos” was quite dominant.
Covington was more patient on his feet to start the third round, as his confidence was growing. Kim had slowed down, making it easier for Covington to slip around his punches and landed solid punches.
Two minutes into the round, Covington still decided to level change into a slick knee pick that sent Kim to the mat. Kim scrambled but was still stuck in Covington’s transitional wrestling, eventually escaping and scoring his first takedown of the fight with about a minute remaining.
Nevertheless, Covington reversed before the end of the fight and finished in top position.
Heading into this bout, it was common knowledge that Covington was a great technical wrestler and athlete, but we didn’t know just how well those skills would fare against top competition.
Spoiler alert: it was dominant.
Covington beat the crap out of Kim and wore him down badly. From start to finish, Covington landed a huge number of takedowns and grinded for shots along the fence, yet he never actually slowed down. His pace was pretty incredible, and that will be a huge advantage as he eventually finds himself in five round bouts.
While Covington’s kickboxing is still occasionally a bit awkward, he’s also talented on his feet. The Southpaw kicks hard and uses those kicks to set up his hands. Plus, he builds off the threat of his takedowns well, and natural athleticism goes a long way in exchanges.
As a likely new member of the top 10, there’s a number of options for Colby Covington. This was a major win, so a match up with another proven top athlete — someone like Neil Magny — would make plenty of sense.
Dong Hyun Kim wins fights in two ways: dominating via takedowns or athleticism. Against a more skilled wrestler with better conditioning, there was no real path to victory for Kim unless he really stuck to a game plan, which he’s never actually done. The way he fought in this match pretty much guaranteed the loss unless that perfect punch landed.
This is likely the end of Kim as a top 10 contender. 35 years old and without any wins over current top 10 athletes — and if Tarec Saffiedine is cut, without any ranked wins at all — it’s hard to see Kim bouncing back from this to climb the ranks.
Yesterday at UFC Fight Night 111, Colby Covington announced himself as a contender with a dominant win. What is next for “Chaos?”
For complete UFC Fight Night 111 “Holm vs. Correia” results and play-by-play, click HERE!
Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returned to action for UFC Fight Night 111: “Holm vs. Correia,” which went down yesterday (Sat., June 17, 2017) inside Singapore Indoor Stadium in Kallang, Singapore, airing live on UFC Fight Pass. The promotion’s latest mixed martial arts (MMA) card was headlined by a women’s Bantamweight fight that saw Holly Holm defeat Bethe Correia via knockout in the third round (see it). Also, Marcin Tybura picked up the biggest win of his career by outlasting Andrei Arlovski in the co-headlining act (recap).
Biggest winner: Holly Holm
Holm needed a win in the worst way after losing three in a row. And she got just that after stunning Correia in the third round of their scheduled five-round fight, knocking the Brazilian out with a sneaky high kick, which was followed up by a punch to the kisser as “Pitbull” was trying to figure out how she ended up on the floor. Indeed, the win for “The Preacher’s Daughter” was huge, as it not only ended her skid, but, put her back on the fast track to a chance to reclaim her title, according to this. Now, while Holm won’t get a title shot right away, it wouldn’t be too farfetched to see her back at the big dance after another huge win. And now that the Featherweight division has a couple of new heavy-hitters fighting for the strap, Holm could have her pick of where to fight next.
Runner Up: Rafael dos Anjos and Colby Covington
“RDA” got back on the winning track after losing two straight at Lightweight, making good in his Welterweight debut by taking out Tarec Saffiedine. Now, the former 155-pound champion can breath a bit easier, knowing the pressure is off to get a “W.” But, things will only get tougher for Rafael, as the 170-pound weight class is filled with sharks that can potentially persuade him to re-think his move up a division. But, for know, dos Anjos is sitting pretty in his new weight class.
Covington picked up the biggest win of his combat career by taking out longtime UFC veteran Dong Hyun Kim to score consecutive win number four (recap). Colby will now likely find himself in the top 15 ranking, which means he can now get used to facing only the best moving forward. And he won’t have too much trouble trying to find opponents moving forward. It’s what he wanted, and he’s shown he’s more than game, but whether or not he can hand with the top-ranked fighters in the division, remains to be seen.
Biggest Loser: Andrei Arlovski
Arlovski has now dropped five in a row after coming up on the judges’ scorecards against Marcin Tybura. It’s not a good run for the former Heavyweight champ, who could fin himself on the outs with the promotion, despite being a personal favorite of company president Dana White. But now the UFC is under new management, I would be surprised if “The Pitbull” gets another fight inside the Octagon. And who know,s maybe Arlovski himself will decide it’s best to move on form this part of his life before it gets that far.
For complete UFC Fight Night 111 coverage, including play-by-play, click here
Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Light Heavyweight sluggers Ion Cutelaba and Henrique da Silva brawled last night (June 10, 2017) at UFC Fight Night 110 inside Spark Arena in Auckland, New Zealand.
Cutelaba entered this bout as a serious fighter to watch, one of his division’s better prospects. The young wrestler packed some considerable power and aggression into his game, and he even got up in his foe’s grill during the introductions! This was a very important battle for da Silva. The Brazilian “Frankenstein” came up big with a pair of finishes in his opening UFC fights, but he’s also lost his previous two. To remain a prospect, da Silva had to find a way to earn the victory.
Cutelaba went after his opponent immediately. He cracked da Silva clean with a huge right hand that stunned the Brazilian, following up with a series of blows in the clinch. A left hand sent da Silva to the mat, and the Combat Sambo specialist followed him there.
From top position, Cutelaba postured quickly and dropped hard shots. Da Silva had his whits about him — somewhat — and attempted an arm bar, but the Russian simply kept dropping punches on him. Rather than adjust to defend himself, Cutelaba hung onto the arm and ate shots until he slipped into unconsciousness.
The whole thing took less than one minute!
There’s not much to analyze here, but Cutelaba fought perfectly. He was quick and accurate early on his feet, finding a home for his massive right hand early. Once he landed, “The Hulk” swarmed, rocking his opponent worse and sending him to the mat.
Once Cutelaba gained top position, he unleashed some ferocious ground strikes and sealed the deal. It was a perfect display of killer instinct, as he brutalized a wounded foe without getting overzealous.
At 23 years old, Cutelaba is one of his division’s best prospects. He shouldn’t be thrown in the deep end just yet, but a battle with someone like Ilir Latifi would make sense. As for da Silva, this is a very disappointing result for the scrappy Brazilian. “Frankenstein” is comfortable in brawls and has always shown a solid chin; he just got demolished early.
Having lost three straight, there’s a chance this is da Silva’s last appearance in the Octagon for the time being. That said, he should be able to stick around, as the 205-pound division needs as many faces as it can find.
Last night, Ion Cutelaba absolutely ran through his opponent. Who should “The Hulk” face next?
For complete UFC Fight Night 110: “Lewis vs Hunt” results and play-by-play, click HERE!
As a fighter, Alexander Volkanovski is in his second incarnation. In his first, he donned short shorts and striped socks and acted like a bowling ball towards clusters of humanity. For a decade, he was a rugby player in Lake Illawarra on the South Coast of Australia. He stood 5-foot-5 and was built like the kind of fixture that can only be moved with a dolly.
These days he goes through men one at a time, which on Saturday (in the U.S.) he’ll try to do again against Mizuto Hirota at UFC Fight Night 110 in Auckland. But back then his goal was to run through people.
“I played rugby league, I probably played for about 10 years I think, and I wrestled before then,” Volkanovski says. “I did about a year of wrestling, and I think I got a bit tired of the tights, so I started to play football with the mates. I used to be a front rower, the big guys up front. I used to be 97 kilograms, which is like 210 pounds, or something like that (213 to be exact).
“If you can imagine, I was just a bull — a little stocky bull. I used to be the guy they would pass the ball and just run straight.”
It is a little hard to imagine. Volkanovski fights as a featherweight in the UFC. Going from a shade over 210 pounds to 145 pounds is one hell of a trick. Yet since deciding to take off the cleats a few years ago, he has incrementally whittled himself down into something more befitting of his “5-foot-6 on a generous day” frame.
“I fought from middleweight down,” he says. “My first four fights in amateur at middleweight, and the first four professional were at welterweight. And I just kind of went down from there. Now obviously I’m very comfortable at 145, and it works perfect.”
As a rugby player, Volkanovski played for the local club, the Warilla Gorillas, at a grade below the pinnacle level of the sport. He was a mainstay of that club and helped it to win the grand final in his last season there. It was a rough and tumble sport confined to 80 minutes of toil, yet it was a team sport that followed the ebb and flow of a collective.
Having wrestled for a year in his youth, Volkanovski paid close attention to fighting throughout his days on the rugby field. He had a couple of amateur fights that went his way, and the itch to compete began to fester in him in different ways.
“I’ve always loved UFC,” he says. “I watched it back since the days it wasn’t big in Australia at all, and you had to watch a Blockbuster videos. They would always come like a year late, but I tried as many of the live ones I could or wait for the videos to come out. So, I’ve loved the sport for that long. I’ve always been into martial arts.
“So finally I said, you know what, I’m going to take this on and take it all the way. And it happened.”
His friends all over greater Shellharbour wondered about his decision at first.
“A lot of people thought I was mad when I told them I was going to change to MMA,” he says. “My last year of football, we won the grand final, I was the player’s player [winning the Mick Cronin Medal], and I ended on a really good year.”
Then he segued into fighting full-time. He has been at it for only six years in total, and only four professionally. In that time, Volkanovski, now 28, has gone 14-1, with most of his bouts having taken place in Australia. He has physically morphed from a human wrecking into a svelte featherweight. A pressure fighter who likes to dictate the space and throw hands, he made his UFC debut against Yusake Kasuya at UFC Fight Night 101 in November. He performed well in front of his countrymen, scoring a second-round TKO (punches) on the main card.
What he realized early on is that the ability to control wins and losses in a dictation of wills is far more gratifying than earning wins in a team sport. He says he loved being wholly accountable for his every move.
“There are no excuses in fighting,” he says. “You can be playing a team sport and have a good game, and you can lose. In fighting, it’s all on me. If I go out there and lose, then it’s my fault. I like that. So I know if I fight well, I’m going to win. I definitely love the fact that it’s all on you, and you do what you have to do to win.
“And each fight is like a grand final in the rugby league.”
In his follow-up fight, he’ll face the 36-year-old Hirota, who is doing his second stint in the UFC. Hirota is coming off of a unanimous decision victory over Cole Miller at UFC on FOX in December, and has a lot of familiar traits as Alexander “The Great.”
“It’s a similar sort of style to me, he likes to pressure and really use his MMA game — the jiu-jitsu, he likes to clinch, and he likes to throw punches rather than go for submissions,” he says. “I can relate.”
Listening to Volkanovski talk, it’s easy to tell his time in the UFC is no cameo bent from a former rugby player. He has seen fellow Australians like Robert Whittaker climb his way to an interim title fight in the middleweight division, and help refuel MMA fanaticism in Australia. He has a fan base of his own, that he expects to turn out in New Zealand as well.
As a professional rugby player, Volkanovski reached the penultimate station in the professional ranks. He was a step short. As a UFC fighter, he wants to do himself one better.
“I want to get to the top,” he says. “That’s what I’ve always said even before I made the UFC, it’s the one thing I’ve always said and I always will say. I wasn’t just happy making the UFC, I want to hit them top ranks. I want to go and get that title.
“I’m only 28. I started reasonably late, as I’ve only been doing it professionally for a few years. I’ve only been full time for a few years. So I’ve got so much room for improvement, and I’m expecting big things. The UFC has got me on two main cards in a row, my debut and now this. I believe they are expecting big things, and that’s exactly what’s going to happen. I’ll go out there and show the world why we’re expecting big things.”