A Timeline Of Nate Diaz’s Complaints & Grievances With The UFC

So, it’s come to this. Nate Diaz, one of MMA’s biggest stars, peeing on the UFC’s multi-million-dollar, state-of-the-art Performance Institute. The act of defiant protest last week was the culmination of months, nay years of exasperation Diaz has seemingly suffered at the hands of the UFC. With just one fight left on his contract, the…

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So, it’s come to this. Nate Diaz, one of MMA’s biggest stars, peeing on the UFC’s multi-million-dollar, state-of-the-art Performance Institute.

The act of defiant protest last week was the culmination of months, nay years of exasperation Diaz has seemingly suffered at the hands of the UFC. With just one fight left on his contract, the 37-year-old has this year consistently lashed out at the promotion for failing to secure his final opponent.

Nate has requested to be released from his contract and has even flirted with the idea of signing with Bellator. Never before, however, have we seen a professional athlete offer bodily fluids onto the negotiating table—a bold statement that has only further enamored Diaz to fans, and sent a clear message to the UFC brass.

But in Nate’s 15-year working relationship with the UFC, these sorts of protestations are far from the exception, but rather the rule. The Stockton bad boy has through the years regularly voiced countless complaints and grievances with his employer, and in this article, we’ll look back at some of his biggest spats with the UFC.

2014: Diaz Requests Release From “F*cked Up” UFC Contract

Diaz’s first significant public squabble with the UFC came in 2014, just months after he earned Knockout of the Night against Gray Maynard in the Ultimate Fighter Finale. Then 28 years old and 12-7 in the UFC, Diaz posted a tweet requesting to be released from his contract.

Following that tweet, Diaz decided to air his many contractual grievances with the UFC to media. The then lightweight stated that “I don’t get paid sh*t” and alleged that his employer had “conned me into signing an eight-fight contract.”

“My contract is all f*cked up,” Diaz told MMA Fighting. “I want to be paid like these other fighters. I’m over here getting chump change.”

Nate Diaz 2014

In protest of his unfavorable contract, Diaz chose to stay out of the Octagon for over a year— an act that saw the UFC drop him from the lightweight rankings. He finally made his return against Rafael dos Anjos in December 2014. Diaz missed weight for the bout and was fined 20 percent of his purse.

2016: Diaz Claims The “UFC Played Me Again” As Conor Rematch Stalls

In March 2016, Diaz pulled off one of the biggest upset wins in MMA history by defeating Conor McGregor on just 11 days’ notice — a feat that saw Nate’s star rise to stratospheric heights.

Organizing a rematch between his promotion’s two biggest stars was of course the number one priority for UFC President Dana White. But after he flew to Stockton, California to get Diaz to sign on the dotted line, things went pear shaped.

Their meeting started off amicably as Nate, White and a few UFC suits negotiated terms for the rematch while chowing down at a restaurant. But according to TMZ, Diaz later said something that caused White to become visibly angry, stand up and beeline it for his SUV.

Nate Diaz Dana White

This little blow up from White caused the rematch talks to drag on for months, during which time Diaz once again took to his favorite social media platform to enlighten the public as to the unscrupulous business practices of his employer.

Diaz would of course eventually hash out his differences with White and agree to a rematch with McGregor in August 2016, which he lost by majority decision.

2017: “This F*cker Can’t Stop Making Shit Up About Me”

Many people thought that Diaz — most notably himself — had in fact defeated McGregor in their rematch. Despite initially desiring a rubber match with the Irishman, in the months that followed, Nate nixed the idea.

Dana White, however, claimed that Diaz was still keen on the bout. The UFC President told media that “We keep offering Nate fights, and he keeps turning them down,” insisting that he was “holding out for McGregor.”

This prompted Diaz to lash out at White on Twitter, accusing him of lying and noting that the only fight he had been offered was that against McGregor.

2018: Nate Storms Out Of UFC 203 Presser

After nearly two years in the MMA wilderness, Diaz was scheduled to face Dustin Poirier at UFC 203 in November 2018. But when at the press conference the UFC decided to play a promo for the upcoming clash between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor, the Stockton native stormed off stage in a huff.

Diaz was seemingly offended that his long-awaited UFC return was being overshadowed by his most bitter rival, McGregor. He later tweeted that he was pulling out of the fight, and Nate wasn’t seen in the Octagon again until August the following year.

2019: Nate Slams The UFC For “Ostracizing” Him

In August 2019, Diaz finally made his return from three years of self-imposed exile to face Anthony Pettis at UFC 241. Leading up to the clash, Nate spoke to media to clear the air as to why he spent so long on the sidelines. And to no one’s surprise, he placed the blame squarely on the UFC, who Diaz accused of pretending that he had vanished.

“I beat the best guy at the moment, I beat the best guy, and you guys are just treating me like, vanished, then I’m like, ‘Oh well f*ck me, so f*ck you,’” Diaz told ESPN. “I’m a bigger draw, a bigger fight than anybody in the game and you guys are going to just sit back and not participate and ‘black sheep’ me — not ‘black sheep,’ it’s like ‘ostracized,’ put me on the outskirts of the whole conversation.”

nate diaz dana white

2022: Diaz Grows Increasingly Inpatient With The UFC

Diaz’s frustrations with the UFC have reached fever pitch this year. With just one fight left on his contract, the 37 year old has consistently called for the promotion to find an opponent for him, but to no avail.

Somehow, despite both fighters verbally agreeing in February, Diaz’s proposed matchup with Dustin Poirier fell through. This prompted Nate to once again request to be released from his UFC contract.

Then in April, Nate lashed out at the UFC for turning both himself and his brother, Nick, into NFTs (non-fungible tokens). The Stockton bad boy took to Twitter to air his displeasure, reiterating his desire to exit the UFC.

Nate, however, still seems determined to fight one last time in the UFC before he likely calls it quits. In May, his attention turned to Michael Chandler following his brutal knockout of Tony Ferguson at UFC 274. Diaz took to Twitter to demand that the UFC set up the matchup.

This demand clearly wasn’t considered by the UFC to Diaz’s satisfaction, because two days later, he decided to urinate on the lawn of the UFC Performance Institute. And that’s where Nate’s relationship with the promotion currently stands, which begs the question: will he finally get an opponent, and will it be the last of his UFC career?

It’s now been almost a year since Nate last graced the Octagon, and despite having lost three of his last four fights, his star is undoubtedly shining brighter than it ever has. We can only speculate as to the back-room machinations that have prevented him from securing an opponent. But hopefully soon he’ll come to terms with the UFC, secure an opponent, and if we’re lucky, sign a new contract.

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5 Positives & 2 Negatives From UFC Vegas 54

On Saturday night, the MMA leader returned to our screens for its latest fight night event, UFC Vegas 54. With another pay-per-view in the books, this weekend’s action headed back to the serene surroundings of Nevada’s Apex facility, where a new set of fighters looked to follow in the entertaining footsteps of Charles Oliveira, Michael…

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On Saturday night, the MMA leader returned to our screens for its latest fight night event, UFC Vegas 54.

With another pay-per-view in the books, this weekend’s action headed back to the serene surroundings of Nevada’s Apex facility, where a new set of fighters looked to follow in the entertaining footsteps of Charles Oliveira, Michael Chandler, and a host of other names who thrilled the Phoenix crowd last weekend.

At the top of the UFC Vegas 54 slate, the light heavyweights took center stage for the second time this year. While March’s UFC Vegas 50 card saw Thiago Santos and Magomed Ankalaev battle it out, last night’s event featured a collision between former champion Jan Blachowicz and his fellow European contender Aleksandar Raki?.

As well as a 205-pound appetizer in the co-main event between Ryan Spann and Ion Cu?elaba, entertaining names like Davey Grant, Katlyn Chookagian, Amanda Ribas, Michael Johnson, and Viviane Araujo were also in action, as well as promising debutants like Jake Hadley and Tatsuro Taira.

The 11-fight card certainly showed promise beforehand and was perhaps one of the stronger UFC Fight Night lineups in recent memory. But did it deliver? Let’s find out with the positives and negatives from UFC Vegas 54.

Positive – An Underdog Kicks Us Off In Style

There aren’t many better ways to start off a card than an underdog as high as +300 taking an opponent’s 0 inside one round. At UFC Vegas 54, TUF alum Andre Petroski kicked off proceedings by doing exactly that.

It was perhaps surprising that the middleweight bout between Petroski and Nick Maximov, a teammate of Nate Diaz, was chosen to open the card. But with how it started the night, it certainly turned out to be a fruitful choice.

After a brief battle on the feet, which saw leg kicks traded and some wild swings, Maximov was the one to change levels, shooting for Petroski’s leg. After a quick scramble, the 30-year-old attacked his counterpart’s neck, locking in a tight anaconda choke. Within seconds, Maximov was unconscious and awoke to a first loss added to his record.

In a battle of two elite wrestlers, it was shocking to see such an early submission, especially out of the toolbox of one of the night’s biggest underdogs. Petroski is now 3-0 in the UFC, and with back-to-back chokes, he’s given fair warning for his future opponents to protect their necks.

If the Pennsylvania native gets his post-fight callout answered, Gerald Meerschaert will provide a stiff test of his submission game and defense. Unfortunately, judging by the veteran’s response on Twitter, Singapore’s UFC 275 will come too soon.

But Petroski vs. “GM3” later this year? We’re down.

Positive – A Future Star Debuts

Not many have arrived in the Octagon as highly touted as Tatsuro Taira is. At UFC Vegas 54, the Japanese prospect faced his opening challenge in the form of tough two-time Dana White’s Contender Series competitor Carlos Candelario.

It’s safe to say that Taira passed his first test with flying colors.

While he was taken the full 15-minute distance, there was little doubt about the result. As well as displaying his speed, grappling prowess, rapid position advancements and reversals, and technical footwork, we also got to see Taira tackle a gritty opponent who simply wouldn’t go away.

The bout wasn’t without its challenges for the young newcomer, who had to escape from one particularly tight choke. But nevertheless, the closing aesthetic of Taira reigning down elbows and strikes from mount certainly made a statement.

At just 22 years old, the sky appears to be the limit for Taira. As well as his impressive debut delivering a positive, the arrival of a new youthful and exciting flyweight to the entertaining weight class was one of UFC Vegas 54’s highs, and that’s without mentioning his great hand-written post-fight callout.

Japan has been after a new breakout star in mixed martial arts, and it seems they’ve found the perfect figure in Taira.

Positive – Effective Grappling

Grappling fans were certainly treated across the opening three bouts at UFC Vegas 54.

After Petroski’s fast submission and Taira’s impressive ability to advance position and deliver ground-and-pound, Virna Jandiroba took up the mantle with her high-level Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Across three rounds, “Carcará” secured a dominant decision over Angela Hill after utilizing her ground talents to great effect.

On Friday, Bellator 281’s main event created discussion and controversy, both about the result and the application of the scoring criteria. In London, Logan Storley secured the interim welterweight title via split decision over Michael “Venom” Page. Throughout most of the fight, the American wrestler held MVP on the ground and against the cage, but without attempting submissions or landing anything significant.

After the bout, Bellator President Scott Coker expressed his disagreement with the verdict, as did some fans and pundits. While Coker has received criticism for his take, he has a point. Grappling must be effective in the sense that it’s utilized to deliver potentially fight-ending offense. Storley didn’t accomplish that. You know who did? Jandiroba.

From her first-round kneebar to her second-frame armbar attempt and ground-and-pound, the Brazilian perfectly displayed the “effective offense” element that was missing from Storley’s game on Friday.

Given the debate that was incited the night before, having a perfect example of effective grappling at UFC Vegas 54 was needed, and certainly a positive.

Positive – A KO That Was A Long Time Coming

We had a grappling-heavy start, but striking fans got their fill at UFC Vegas 54 courtesy of the fast hands of 25-fight promotional veteran Michael Johnson.

Johnson has seemingly become one of the UFC’s forgotten men. Heading into Saturday’s event, Johnson, who boasts victories over Dustin Poirier, Tony Ferguson, and Edson Barboza, was riding a four-fight losing streak, with his most recent setback coming to Clay Guida last February.

But not many have snapped a skid as emphatically as “The Menace” did inside the Apex.

Against Alan Patrick, the 35-year-old delivered a four-punch combination that sent his Brazilian foe to the canvas. From there, a brutal right hand shut the lights out before a follow-up shot extended Patrick’s nap.

As well as a UFC mainstay making his way back to the win column, the manner in which Johnson did so was a big positive of UFC Vegas 54.

Negative – ‘They’re Dirty Brazilians’

It perhaps says a lot about the UFC (and MMA) that Tony Kelley said this without hesitation or second thought in the corner of his partner Andrea Lee. Then again, perhaps it’s just indicative of Kelley.

After the first round of Lee’s fight with Viviane Araujo, UFC bantamweight Kelley responded to his fighter’s claim that the Brazilian did something illegal. The Louisianan suggested “that’s what they’re going to do,” further branding Araujo and her compatriots as “dirty f*cking Brazilians.”

Considering that statement came from the same man who chose a 20+-hour fight week drive to avoid wearing a mask for three hours on a flight, perhaps it’s not all that shocking.

Nevertheless, the remark was unsavory, unnecessary, and should have no place in mixed martial arts. While that comment was grim, his “you smoked her ass” re-assurance to Lee after she’d convincingly lost was also questionable.

Perhaps Adrian Yanez will knock some sense into him on June 18

Positive – “Dangerous” Davey Brings The Violence

If Michael Johnson had set the violence bar during the prelims, “Dangerous” Davey Grant at least matched it in his main card fight versus Louis Smolka.

It’s clear how Grant earned his moniker. Heading into UFC Vegas 54, the Englishman had collected four $50,000 bonus checks in a row. But his two previous bouts had seen him slip to decision defeats. This time, the judges weren’t required.

Bringing a level of destruction that we last saw Grant’s hands create against Jonathan Martinez last March, the 36-year-old slept 17-fight UFC vet Smolka with some truly vicious ground-and-pound following a brief scramble.

From the brutal calf kicks that sent Smolka to the ground to the grimace-worthy strikes that ended the contest, Grant’s performance was one of the most memorable of the night.

With that said, he can consider himself extremely unlucky not to be taking home a fifth-straight performance bonus. Sort him out with something Dana!

Negative – An Unfortunate Ending

UFC Vegas 54 was a great card with some great submissions and knockouts. The one thing that was missing? An entertaining and definitive main event.

Saturday’s headliner boasted high stakes, with Jan Blachowicz looking to work his way back to the title and Aleksandar Raki? hoping to secure his own rise to the top. Unfortunately, while one man did accomplish his target, it didn’t come in the way anyone would have hoped for.

Early in the third round, the bout came to an anticlimactic end after Raki? appeared to suffer a serious knee injury. After moving backwards under attack from Blachowicz, the Austrian’s knee blew out, sending him to the ground in pain. Credit must go to the former champion for not following up with shots.

Although there’s yet to be any confirmation as to the severity of the injury, it seems likely that “Rocket” tore his ACL, as well as perhaps further ligament damage. If that is the case, fans won’t be seeing Raki? inside the Octagon for some time.

Ultimately, it was quite a sour end to a very strong event, and that’s a negative.

While Glover Teixeira offered Blachowicz a rematch following the fight, which, of course, depends on the Brazilian’s upcoming defense against Ji?í Procházka, Magomed Ankalaev will certainly think that an impressive performance against Anthony Smith at UFC 277 could perhaps help him leapfrog Blachowicz given the fashion of the Pole’s victory on Saturday.

What were your positives and negatives from UFC Vegas 54?

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7 Positives & 4 Negatives From UFC 274

For the past week, pay-per-view fever has been back in Phoenix, Arizona, culminating with UFC 274 on Saturday night. As always, the big names were in town, including Joe Rogan back at the commentary desk, mainstream celebrities were involved, most notably with a $550,000 bet placed on Justin Gaethje by Drake, and Bruce Buffer had…

Continue Reading 7 Positives & 4 Negatives From UFC 274 at MMA News.

For the past week, pay-per-view fever has been back in Phoenix, Arizona, culminating with UFC 274 on Saturday night.

As always, the big names were in town, including Joe Rogan back at the commentary desk, mainstream celebrities were involved, most notably with a $550,000 bet placed on Justin Gaethje by Drake, and Bruce Buffer had another classic suit on for the occasion, which might have been his best (or strangest?) yet.

At the top of the card, fans were treated to two title fights, although one had a sizable asterisk attached to it and the other, well, it happened…

As well as Gaethje’s championship challenge against the inevitably-former titleholder Charles Oliveira, Rose Namajunas looked to defend her strawweight gold for the second time, a feat she failed to achieve in her first reign on the 115-pound throne.

Elsewhere, a dream lightweight matchup between Michael Chandler and Tony Ferguson threatened to steal the show, while the main card clash between Ovince Saint Preux and Maurício Rua appeared to have retirement implications attached.

Add in the exciting names of Khaos Williams, Matt Schnell, Andre Fialho, and Brandon Royval, and the night had the potential to be a special one. So, did it deliver? Let’s find out with all the positives and negatives.

Negative – Dethroned By The Scale

Who saw this coming?

Where to begin. From a PPV main event being thrown into chaos at the last minute to the tragic end of a once-unlikely reign, Charles Oliveira’s weight miss was about as negative as a moment could be.

On Friday, “Do Bronx” had hearts racing when he didn’t appear to weigh in until late in the day. When he did, he was half a pound over the championship limit at 155.5. Despite another full hour, Oliveira was unable to shed any more weight. As a result, he was no longer the champ the second his fight with Gaethje began.

While the fight still went ahead despite the weight miss, the fact it went from a defense to a normal fight for Oliveira, or a title eliminator, was a disappointment. Having developed from a mid-level fighter to a world champion in incredible fashion, to have the belt taken from him on the scale was a tragic way for it to end.

Even if he wins it back, the Brazilian will always have the stain of being the first UFC titleholder to lose gold by missing weight.

Of course, there has since been some confusion regarding the scales, and should more come to light regarding an apparent decalibration, that could prove to be a huge negative of the event in itself.

But for now, we had got 18 fighters on weight and the commission maintaining that fighters are responsible for the scales they use outside the officially allocated one.

What a mess.

Negative – That’s The Hat Trick

Holy fight-day cancelations, what is going on?

Remember in 2021, we had a string of consecutive bone breaks/dislocations? Starting with Chris Weidman’s leg break at UFC 261, fans witnessed horrible injuries at five consecutive PPVs. After Weidman, we saw Ronaldo Souza break his arm at UFC 262, Jamahal Hill dislocate his elbow at UFC 263, Conor McGregor break his leg at UFC 264, and Victoria Leonardo suffer an arm break at UFC 265.

I’m not one for superstitions, but it’s starting to feel like 2022’s answer for last year’s injury curse is a fight-day cancelation curse…

First was Alexandr Romanov vs. Chase Sherman at UFC Vegas 52, and then Carlos Candelario vs. Tatsuro Taira fell through hours before their scheduled card-opener at UFC Vegas 53. Now, completing the hat trick with perhaps the most painful of all, an illness for legend Donald Cerrone saw his collision with fellow veteran Joe Lauzon ripped from fans’ viewing during the broadcast.

Anyone else nervously looking at next weekend’s card?

Positive – “Loopy” Levels Up

Dominance personified.

Not much is more exciting and enjoyable to watch than a memorable finish or FOTY-worthy barnburner. But one thing that comes close is a complete shutout and masterclass. At UFC 274, that came courtesy of Lupita “Loopy” Godinez.

Not many have dealt with imposing power quite like Godinez did in the second fight of the night. The Mexican shared the Octagon in Arizona with Ariane Carnelossi, whose 14-2 pre-fight record comprised of nine knockouts and just two defeats, an MMA debut submission setback to Amanda Ribas and a doctor’s stoppage against Angela Hill in her first UFC outing.

After two wins in 2021, many expected Saturday night to mark the Brazilian’s arrival in strawweight contention. Instead, she was thoroughly dominated by “Loopy,” who put in the best performance of her career to date at UFC 274.

Not only did she consistently hurt Carnelossi during the short periods on the feet, but she combined powerful shots with beautiful entries, changing The Black Eyed Peas’ “Boom Boom Pow” to boom, boom, slam (I’m here all night…).

Godinez is active, always willing to fight, and, judging by her post-fight interview, extremely humble. Seeing her deliver a breakthrough performance on the PPV stage was certainly a positive.

Positive – An Early FOTN Contender

You always want a quality back-and-forth contest early on any card, but especially on a PPV slate. While the opening contest between Journey Newson and Fernie Garcia was entertaining, it was quickly eclipsed by Kleydson Rodrigues and CJ Vergara’s flyweight scrap.

While the first round saw some technical and hesitant striking, proceedings really picked up in the second, culminating with a remarkable reversal from Rodriguez and a flush spinning backfist. Midway through the fight, it had seemed as though Rodriguez was fading, but he found a fifth gear out of nowhere.

Given the third round we were treated to, thank God he did.

The only negative from this one, for me, was the result. This certainly wasn’t a robbery by any means, but I think Rodriguez should have had his hand raised. A point deduction for some family impactful fence grabs from Vergara wouldn’t have gone amiss either…

Positive – Fialho Shuts The Lights Out

In the fifth fight of the night, Andre Fialho brought us the event’s first finish, and in some style.

The Portuguese welterweight squared off against promotional newcomer Cameron VanCamp. Despite being seen as one of the biggest underdogs on the card, “Jumpman” threatened to cause an upset after seemingly hurting Fialho early.

That success was short-lived.

After landing a check left hook on an advancing VanCamp, Fialho loaded up seconds later when the American did the same. This time, the debutant didn’t live to see another day.

Fialho is quickly staking his claim as Breakthrough Fighter of the Year. Despite falling to defeat on debut, the Portuguese native’s efforts on short notice against Michel Pereira certainly didn’t affect his stock.

Now, having knocked out the once-highly touted Miguel Baeza and VanCamp in back-to-back months, it’s clear that Fialho is destined for a place near the top. He’ll seemingly have the chance to further prove that at UFC 275 in June.

Having called for a bout in Singapore post-fight, it seems that a conversation with Sean Shelby and Dana White has secured Fialho a place on the card.

Anyone for three KOs in three months?

Positive – The Royval Reverse

Brandon Royval didn’t just knock on the door of title contention at UFC 274, he smashed through it with an axe.

It’s remarkable to think that when an overweight Deiveson Figueiredo defeated Joseph Benavidez in February 2020 to leave the title vacant, many feared for the future of the division. Now over two years later and the division is thriving with elite and entertaining contenders.

While Figueiredo and Brandon Moreno have held gold, not many below them have impressed quite like Royval.

On Saturday night, “Raw Dawg” added UFC vet Matt Schnell to a list of submitted opponents that includes Tim Elliott and top-five flyweight Kai Kara-France, doing so with a one-armed guillotine. The way Royval reversed Schnell’s own submission attempts was reminiscent of the way in which Vicente Luque trapped Michael Chiesa in a D’Arce choke last August at UFC 265.

The night’s first submission was certainly a memorable one, and one of UFC 274’s biggest positives.

Positive – An Ageless Wonder

When I’m in my 40s, I imagine I’ll be sat wondering how the likes of Randy Couture, Glover Teixeira, and Francisco Trinaldo were able to compete in the cage at such a high level.

At UFC 274, “Massaranduba” looked as good as ever, unloading with powerful hooks and brutal body punches. The man on the receiving end of them was England’s Danny Roberts. While “Hot Chocolate” showed his toughness by surviving to hear the final horn, he’d been rocked a number of times and was firmly beaten in rounds two and three.

Seeing an aging fighter suffer losses towards the back-end of the career while their abilities fall away is always hard to watch, but on the other end of the spectrum, a veteran proving age is just a number is always a positive.

With Yoel Romero’s masterclass in Paris on Friday and Trinaldo turning back the clock at UFC 274, this week was certainly one for the old boys.

Negative – Yes, It Was Bad, But Don’t Boo “Shogun”

What was that about Phoenix? There are some names who contribute so much to the sport that they should be exempt from being booed? One of those is Maurício Rua, you psychos.

There’s no way to really dance around it, Ovince Saint Preux vs. Rua was a terrible fight. Low action, low quality, low entertainment. It was particularly disappointing from “OSP,” who was seen as the fresher fighter who had more to give heading into the contest.

Aside from some powerful body kicks, there was little offering from Saint Preux. Considering his run of form and the opponent in front of him, it was a bizarre showing. Ultimately, a lot of the blame goes to the UFC for booking a strange rematch on a PPV main card.

Nevertheless, boos for “Shogun” cannot be excused. Have some respect, Phoenix!

A side negative, how heartbreaking was it to see the joy on Rua’s face when he thought he’d won?

Positive – A UFC Knockout For The Ages

I’ll be honest, I’m not sure what to do here. Is this a positive or a negative? Although seeing Ferguson finished like that is sad to see, I can’t in my right mind list one of the greatest knockouts of all time as a negative.

My initial thought was, “F*ck, I missed it.” I don’t think I’ll ever forgive myself for checking the time a second before Michael Chandler channeled his inner Anderson Silva. Nevertheless, the replays quickly came and showed why I’d looked up to an unconscious Tony Ferguson face down on the canvas.

In the first round, “El Cucuy” looked good, and even dropped the former Bellator champion. At that moment, I thought to myself, “This has to be the time Chandler abandons his need to entertain on the feet and utilize his wrestling.” While he did exactly that to close out the round, that appears to have been a momentary strategy to regain himself.

From there, he wrapped up 2021’s KO of the Year award with probably the most brutal front kick of all time. It was the kind of KO that was not only scary in the way that Ferguson was sent to the ground but scary in how long it took him to regain consciousness.

My biggest concern heading into UFC 274 was a rough fourth consecutive loss for Ferguson. While that’s exactly what happened, what a phenomenal victory for Chandler.

Negative – The Worst Title Fight Of All Time

There were so many things wrong with this. All I can say is thank God Chandler vs. Ferguson delivered something memorable because, otherwise, the UFC 274 main card would have been extremely forgettable up to the main event. How crazy is it to have a KO of the Year contender sandwiched by two stinkers?

The biggest question is, what on Earth was going through Rose Namajunas’ mind? For a champion to lose a belt like that is a big, big stain on her record. She can certainly have 0 complaints about the result.

From her bizarre stare down after round two to her strange taunting in the final frame, not to mention Pat Barry’s apparent pleasure at how the fight was going, it was a completely horrible performance.

I’d be curious how the fight would have changed had Trevor Wittman led the corner efforts, because Barry should feel partly responsible for Namajunas’ defeat. If that’s the performance he was looking for, then he certainly shouldn’t be anywhere near the corner of a champion.

So there we have it. A new champion is crowned. I’m happy for Esparza and thankful that Namajunas lost the title off the back of that display. But while I’m glad “Cookie Monster” will be able to walk down the aisle with no particularly visible cuts or bruises next week, my care for her wedding appearance doesn’t override my desire to see a scrap.

That was the worst fight I’ve ever witnessed live.

Positive – He’s Done It Again

Charles Oliveira overcomes adversity so often that it’s not even adversity to him anymore. A knockdown seemingly means nothing against “Do Bronx.”

Like Michael Chandler last May and like Dustin Poirier last December, Oliveira recovered from early knockdowns, two on this occasion, to secure victory. While “Iron” fell via TKO, Gaethje joined “The Diamond” on the Brazilian’s lengthy list of submission victims.

The negative here, though, is that Oliveira won’t be returning home with the gold in his possession. Whether due to a genuine weight miss or issues with the scale, whatever the reason, it’s an almighty shame that Oliveira doesn’t have another memorable defense added to his reign, which is now over.

The champion has a name and it’s Charles “Do Bronx” Oliveira.

What were your positives and negatives from UFC 274?

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This Week In BOAT Talk Ep. 3: Namajunas Already The Best, Not Greatest

At the start of the year, we published a piece differentiating between the terms GOAT and BOAT. As the GOAT, an athlete was able to achieve sustained greatness through their accolades, records, championships, etc. But what’s this talk about a BOAT? The BOAT is the Best of All Time. Unlike the GOAT, you aren’t bound by…

Continue Reading This Week In BOAT Talk Ep. 3: Namajunas Already The Best, Not Greatest at MMA News.

At the start of the year, we published a piece differentiating between the terms GOAT and BOAT. As the GOAT, an athlete was able to achieve sustained greatness through their accolades, records, championships, etc. But what’s this talk about a BOAT?

The BOAT is the Best of All Time. Unlike the GOAT, you aren’t bound by the laws of longevity. There’s no need to wait for a decade or more to begin a conversation that you can plainly see is going to happen anyway. Nope, you can strictly go by talent and the likelihood to win any given contest, no matter the circumstances.

You can view Ep. 1 of “This Week In BOAT Talk” here.

You can view Ep. 2 of “This Week In BOAT Talk” here.

This week in BOAT talk, Rose Namajunas dishes on her strides toward GOAT status, even though she’s already the “best!”

UFC on BT Sport on Twitter: ""I'm the best!" 🥀 "You're the best  mother****** - ever!" @RoseNamajunas chanted her mantra before the fight  started at #UFC261. There was no doubt in Pat
Rose Namajunas

At UFC 261, Rose Namajunas could be found in the corner shouting to herself, “I’m the best.”

With a flush head kick to Zhang Weili one minute into the first round to reclaim her strawweight title, “Thug Rose” proved her self-affirmation true.

Later that year at UFC 268, Namajunas would cement her status as the #1 strawweight in the world by defeating Weili once again. With this victory, Namajunas is now a two-time world champion with wins over Zhang Weili (2), Jéssica Andrade, Michelle Waterson, and others, including Joanna J?drzejczyk (2).

There was a time when Joanna J?drzejczyk was in a class all by herself in the strawweight division. The nickname “Strawweight Queen” suited her just as well as “Joanna Champion,” as ruling over every 115er in the UFC seemed to be J?drzejczyk’s calling, until Namajunas earned back-to-back wins over her, cementing herself as the best.

Rose Namajunas proves UFC title win was no fluke
Rose Namajunas, Joanna J?drzejczyk

But as great as those two wins were, even Rose Namajunas herself acknowledged that while her self-belief in being the “best” remains clinched in her mind, there is a difference between being the best and being the greatest.

“If you’re a fan, you’re in for a great ride. I think what I see is: I’m clearly the best, obviously. It’s just a question of whether I’m the greatest in the division of all time,” Namajunas began during her UFC 274 media scrum.

One reason tonight’s fight against Esparza carries such magnitude for Namajunas’ legacy is because this will be her opportunity to have two consecutive title defenses for the first time in either of her reigns.

And of course, it will also present her with an opportunity to get back one of the biggest losses of her career, which came to her UFC 274 opponent Carla Esparza eight years ago when the interim strawweight title was hanging in the balance.

Rose Namajunas vs. Carla Esparza strawweight title rematch in the works for  UFC 274 co-main event - MMAmania.com
Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

“And I think this is a huge step towards that for me,” Namajunas continued. “And that’s the big test. So I think everybody, when they think about the strawweights, they think about Joanna [J?drzejczyk]. During her time, she came around at a time where the level of competition just wasn’t even close to her.

“So I guess what I’m looking to do is try to set myself apart because I’m clearly the best, but I think in the last fight, maybe it was kinda close. So I’ve really been working my butt off to just make sure that I can set that distance between all of us.”

Although J?drzejczyk has two losses to Namajunas on her résumé, she remains widely separated from the strawweight pack in terms of consecutive title defenses, with a total of five turned in against her opposition.

In Namajunas’ comments, she did not specify that she was the best ever (BOAT) or just the best among her contemporaries. But given the relatively short lifespan of her division and the only other name she compared herself to being J?drzejczyk, it’s fair to deduce that she was implying that she is the best of all time at strawweight and is now setting her sights on becoming the greatest of all time (GOAT).

Is Rose Namajunas the best? Right now that’s difficult to argue against. There’s no other strawweight in the world whose skill set can compare to Namajunas’ versatility. Whether on the feet or on the mat, Namajunas isn’t just elite but she is a proven finisher who continues to improve. And most importantly, she has beaten three former champions to showcase her consistency and supremacy.

But will she go down as the greatest? It’s nights like tonight that will help determine that in the years to come.

You can check out Rose Namajunas’ full UFC 274 media scrum below.

Continue Reading This Week In BOAT Talk Ep. 3: Namajunas Already The Best, Not Greatest at MMA News.

UFC 274: Oliveira vs. Gaethje Staff Predictions

UFC 274 is quickly approaching, and we’ve got our staff predictions ready for you ahead of this weekend’s big card! UFC 274 will be available exclusively on ESPN+ pay-per-view on Saturday, May 7, 2022. The main card begins at 10:00 PM ET, and the ESPN preliminary card kicks off at 8:00 PM. The early preliminary…

Continue Reading UFC 274: Oliveira vs. Gaethje Staff Predictions at MMA News.

UFC 274 is quickly approaching, and we’ve got our staff predictions ready for you ahead of this weekend’s big card!

UFC 274 will be available exclusively on ESPN+ pay-per-view on Saturday, May 7, 2022. The main card begins at 10:00 PM ET, and the ESPN preliminary card kicks off at 8:00 PM. The early preliminary card starts at 5:30 PM. The event will take place from The Footprint Center in Phoenix, Arizona.

In the main event, reigning champion Charles Oliveira will defend the lightweight title against Justin Gaethje in what will be Gaethje’s second attempt at UFC gold after falling to Khabib Nurmagomedov in 2020. The co-main event will see another title fight in a rematch between strawweight champion Rose Namajunas and her opponent, Carla Esparza.

Prior to the title fights, fan-favorites Michael Chandler and Tony Ferguson will lock horns in a bout that could very easily steal the show.

Also on the main card, we could very well be seeing the final Octagon appearance for the loser of Donald Cerrone vs. Joe Lauzon, or perhaps even both veterans. You won’t want to miss this monumental battle between two of the UFC’s most familiar faces.

Additionally, there will be a light heavyweight rematch between two other UFC veterans when Ovince Saint Preux takes on Mauricio “Shogun” Rua.

UFC 274 Staff Predictions

MMA News is the place to be for all the latest UFC 274 updates. I, Harvey Leonard, and Andrew Starc have provided our picks for you below.

Here is the full main card for UFC 274:

  • UFC Lightweight Championship Bout: Charles Oliveira (c) vs. Justin Gaethje
  • UFC Strawweight Championship Bout: Rose Namajunas (c) vs. Carla Esparza
  • Michael Chandler vs. Tony Ferguson
  • Mauricio “Shogun” Rua vs. Ovince Saint Preux
  • Donald Cerrone vs. Joe Lauzon

Donald Cerrone vs. Joe Lauzon

Donald Cerrone, Joe Lauzon

Clyde Aidoo: Donald Cerrone and Joe Lauzon are both long-toothed veterans of the UFC. With the two combatants being 39 and 37 years old respectively and both losing more than winning in recent years, many fighters could adopt the belief that this is anyone’s fight. I don’t quite think that’s the case.

The one difference that stands out to me between these two men’s records is the level of competition. Cerrone has continued to face ranked fighters and former champions while Lauzon has primarily tangled with fellow unranked veterans, such as his UFC 274 opponent Cerrone.

That said, I’m not looking at this fight from a “Who’s form is currently worse as of late?” perspective. I’m judging this fight the same way I would if these two were paired together at any point in their careers: which is that Lauzon is unlikely to join the list of names like Conor McGregor, Darren Till, and Justin Gaethje in putting away Cerrone early.

If that’s the case, Cerrone will warm up. And once Cerrone warms up, I believe him to be better than Lauzon just about everywhere. (Prediction: Donald Cerrone)

Harvey Leonard: Hopefully this is an entertaining fight for both men to bow out with. While “Cowboy” is inherently the better fighter, he certainly can’t take shots like he used to, and it’s clear that pressure has become his enemy. Although I’d expect a long fight to benefit Cerrone, it seems clear that Lauzon knows that and is targeting a quick start. With that in mind, I wouldn’t be surprised if an aggressive Lauzon hurts and finishes “Cowboy” relatively early.  (Prediction: Joe Lauzon)

Andrew Starc: A victory for Donald Cerrone here will be his 24th in the UFC, making him the winningest fighter in the promotion’s history. But it would also be his first in seven fights. Can the 39-year-old Cerrone get back in the win column? I don’t think so.

The wear and tear “Cowboy” has sustained over his career has well and truly caught up to him. While Joe Lauzon hasn’t fought since 2019, and his résumé isn’t nearly as impressive as Cerrone’s, I think he gets it done. (Prediction: Joe Lauzon)

Consensus: 2-1 Lauzon

Mauricio “Shogun” Rua vs. Ovince Saint Preux

Mauricio Shogun Rua Ovince St Preux
Getty Images

Clyde Aidoo: With Rua only losing one fight out of his last four Octagon appearances while Saint Preux has dropped three of his last four, Rua has looked better in recent years. However, we haven’t seen Rua compete since 2020 and he’s now hit 40, so it’s difficult to project how he’ll look in his return this weekend.

For me, this fight is a toss-up. And when that’s the case, I’ll go with the fighter who’s already proven he could beat the opponent at hand, in this case, that would be Saint Preux. (Prediction: Ovince Saint Preux)

Harvey Leonard: I think this one will be an uphill battle for Rua from the start. While “OSP” is on a poor run of form, losing consecutive fights via KO, a finish on the feet is unlikely to be a worry for him this time around. It’s always tough to predict when two veterans collide, but it seems Saint Preux just has more left in him. If he can avoid being bogged down by Rua’s wrestling, I’d expect a TKO or KO to come à la “OSP” vs. “Shogun” 1, or a submission when a hurt Rua changes levels.  (Prediction: Ovince Saint Preux)

Andrew Starc: When these two met in 2014, Ovince St. Preux got the KO in just 34 seconds. There’s been a lot of water under the bridge for the duo since then, however. Saint Preux has lost three of his last four, with his last victory coming against Alonzo Menifield in 2020.

Maurício Rua, meanwhile, has been inactive since November 2020, when he lost via submission to Paul Craig. St. Preux is the betting favorite, but I’m predicting the 40-year-old Rua will wind back the clock and get the win. (Prediction: Maurício Rua)

Consensus: 2-1 Saint Preux

Michael Chandler vs. Tony Ferguson

Tony Ferguson Michael Chandler
Tony Ferguson, Michael Chandler

Clyde Aidoo: If this fight took place three years ago, I’d side with El Cucuy with a decent level of confidence. But it’s difficult to do so in 2022.

I can see Chandler winning one of two ways. He could use his speed advantage and explosiveness to potentially run through Ferguson, whose chin and durability may never be the same again after being brutally pummeled by Gaethje two years ago. Or, Chandler could put his wrestling background to good use against Ferguson, as Charles Oliveira and Beneil Dariush did before him.

Ferguson claims to have gone back to his wrestling roots in preparation for this fight. If his takedown defense holds up and he can weather the first-round storm of Chandler, then this fight could very well be Ferguson’s to win. But those are two big ifs that are hard to bank on in 2022. (Prediction: Michael Chandler)

Harvey Leonard: As much as this is a fan-friendly bout that should deliver entertainment, it’s also a crucial one. So far in the UFC, Chandler’s stock hasn’t dropped in defeat. Against Oliveira, he was moments away from the title, and his part in a FOTY with Gaethje certainly maintained his reputation.

This time, defeat would be damaging for “Iron.” Given the manner of Ferguson’s recent performances and the names he’s lost to, a setback to “El Cucuy” would create a sizable gap between Chandler and the top contenders. With that said, I expect him to prioritize the win over entertainment this time. If that is the case, he’ll have the tools to grind out the victory, something he’ll know having seen Ferguson’s last two losses. (Prediction: Michael Chandler)

Andrew Starc: Tony Ferguson’s recent slump in form isn’t news to anyone, and at 38 years old, many believe he’s lost a step. But I don’t think he’s seen his last victory in the UFC. “El Cucuy’s” unorthodox style, phenomenal work rate, and legendary gas tank could pose problems for Michael Chandler, who’s coming off back-to-back losses. 

Yes, Chandler could very well put a Justin Gaethje-style beat-down on Ferguson, but I’m picking Tony for the upset win. (Prediction: Tony Ferguson)

Consensus: 2-1 Chandler

Rose Namajunas vs. Carla Esparza

Rose Namajunas, Carla Esparza
Rose Namajunas, Carla Esparza

Clyde Aidoo: Earlier, I mentioned that if a fight is a pick-em, I’m going to side with the fighter who has proven they can defeat the opponent. However, I’m not siding with Esparza here. The reason? This fight isn’t a pick-em, and it is no longer 2014.

Nope, Namajunas is now a much more patient, versatile, and lethal foe for Esparza. I can imagine her staying at a distance where she could pick Esparza apart or knock her out. Mind you, Namajunas has managed to finish two of the toughest women in the entire company: Joanna J?drzejczyk and Zhang Weili. So finishing Esparza is certainly a plausible outcome for the UFC 274 co-main event.

Esparza has made her improvements but far more subtly and incrementally than Namajunas has. Ultimately, her path to victory is still to outwrestle Namajunas as she did eight years ago. Only now, Namajunas poses an even bigger threat on the mat and is much more likely to employ tactics to stop the fight from even making it there. (Prediction: Rose Namajunas)

Harvey Leonard: Esparza’s form since 2018 has been something to behold, and her pressure wrestling and ground and pound are dangerous for anyone. And given the fact Zhang managed seven takedowns at UFC 268, I think it’s safe to say that Esparza will manage the feat at some point.

However, “Thug Rose” has great scrambles and I can’t see her being kept down long enough for “Cookie Monster” to unload with strikes or work to a finish. When the fight is on the feet, Namajunas should have a clear edge, even if it is just by landing more impactful strikes in low-volume frames. (Prediction: Rose Namajunas)

Andrew Starc: Rose Namajunas is of course a completely different fighter from the one who lost via submission to Carla Esparza in 2014. After avenging her loss to Jéssica Andrade, then regaining and defending her strawweight title against Weili Zhang, the 29-year-old looks virtually unbeatable.

Esparza, meanwhile, is on a five-fight win streak and possesses the wrestling to pose problems for Namajunas. I’m picking Esparza to get the upset victory and regain the title she lost in 2015. (Prediction: Carla Esparza) 

Consensus: 2-1 Namajunas

Charles Oliveira vs. Justin Gaethje

Charles Oliveira Justin Gaethje
Charles Oliveira, Justin Gaethje

Clyde Aidoo: This is a tough one. My mind says Gaethje wears out Oliveira on the feet after using his wrestling background and takedown defense to keep the fight standing. Oliveira may be a submission guru but he’s no Khabib when it comes to taking the fight to the mat.

My gut tells me that Oliveira has arguably more ways to win a fight than anyone on the entire UFC roster right now and that his confidence and sly knack for creating a path to victory is second to none and will be on display yet again on Saturday.

So which will I side with? I’m sorry, but 10 straight victories bleed straight from my gut, into my brain, and finally onto my pick. It’s pretty hard to bet against that track record.

“Do Bronx” is every bit as slick as he is talented, so I’m going to side with his veteran intangibles and prime form to get it done someway, maybe when we least expect it and successfully defending his title for the second time. (Prediction: Charles Oliveira)

Harvey Leonard: At UFC 269, I predicted that should Poirier hurt Oliveira as Chandler did, he’d have the power and finishing instinct to put “Do Bronx” away. Having been proven wrong by the Brazilian, I’m not sure there’s any basis to doubt the toughness and grit of the current iteration of Oliveira. With that in mind, and should he survive any hairy moments, I think the champ’s well-rounded game will take him to a second successful title defense, probably via submission.

Gaethje’s threat on the feet can never be counted out and a knockout could always happen, but with Oliveira’s development in the standup realm, coupled with his BJJ talents, I expect it’ll take a grappling specialist like Dariush or Makhachev to dethrone him, not the striking-heavy game of “The Highlight.” (Prediction: Charles Oliveira)

Andrew Starc: Written off many a time, Charles Oliveira continues to prove why he’s the best in the lightweight division. He’s now won his last 10 fights, and only one of those victories came by decision. But can he deal with the KO power of Gaethje? 

While Oliveira was almost put away by the similarly heavy-handed Michael Chandler, I think he can weather the storm from Gaethje and get the fight to the ground. Despite Gaethje’s impressive wrestling, I’m picking the Brazilian to extend his UFC submission record to 16.  (Prediction: Charles Oliveira)

Consensus: 3-0 Oliveira

That’ll do it for our UFC 274 staff picks! What do you think? Do your picks look similar? Let us know in the comments section! Also, you can check out the UFC 274 undercard below.

UFC 274 Preliminary Card (ESPN/ESPN+ 8:00 PM ET)

Randy Brown vs. Khaos Williams

Macy Chiasson vs. Norma Dumont

Brandon Royval vs. Matt Schnell

Blagoy Ivanov vs. Marcos Rogerio de Lima

Early Preliminary Card (ESPN+ 5:30 PM)

Danny Roberts vs. Francisco Trinaldo

Tracy Cortez vs. Melissa Gatto

Kleydison Rodrigues vs. CJ Vergara

Ariane Carnelossi vs. Loopy Godinez

Fernie Garcia vs. Journey Newson

Be sure to keep it right here on MMANews.com Saturday for all the results, highlights, and updates on UFC 274!

Continue Reading UFC 274: Oliveira vs. Gaethje Staff Predictions at MMA News.

7 Positives & 2 Negatives From UFC Vegas 53

On Saturday night, UFC Vegas 53 went down from inside the MMA leader’s home base, the APEX facility, in Nevada. Following in the footsteps of some of the top featherweights, welterweights, and women’s strawweights, the latest UFC Fight Night saw the bantamweights take center stage to close out the month of April. In a bout…

Continue Reading 7 Positives & 2 Negatives From UFC Vegas 53 at MMA News.

On Saturday night, UFC Vegas 53 went down from inside the MMA leader’s home base, the APEX facility, in Nevada.

Following in the footsteps of some of the top featherweights, welterweights, and women’s strawweights, the latest UFC Fight Night saw the bantamweights take center stage to close out the month of April.

In a bout that promised to showcase why the 135-pound division is regarded as one of the best, top-10 contenders Marlon Vera and Rob Font collided in the main event. While “Chito” was looking to surge towards title contention, Font was hoping to rebound from his previous defeat in a matchup that he admitted had little on the line for him ahead of the event.

Elsewhere on the card, the likes of former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski, entertaining veteran Darren Elkins, rising lightweight Grant Dawson, and unbeaten behemoth Alexandr Romanov were all in action.

So, could UFC Vegas 53 send us into another pay-per-view fight week off the back of a memorable card? Let’s find out with the positives and negatives.

Negative – Back-To-Back Fight Day Cancelations

What is in the Las Vegas water lately? A fight day cancelation is always frustrating but at two events in a row? Get outta here.

Last weekend saw the return of undefeated heavyweight prospect Romanov and his bout with Chase Sherman pushed back a week after a number of fights had already taken place. This time, it was the turn of Carlos Candelario vs. Tatsuro Taira. While this one did at least come pre-event, it was still far from ideal.

This contest pitted two exciting newcomers together in what looked set to be a fast-paced flyweight bout. While Candelario, whose only defeat came on Dana White’s Contender Series last year, would’ve also been fun to watch, it was Taira who I, like most, had my eye on.

The Japanese 125lber boats a perfect 10-0 record and is still just 22 years of age, not to mention he’s riding a 19-fight win streak if his amateur results are taken into account. To lose the debut of such a promising fighter last minute was certainly a negative.

Thankfully, just as Romanov vs. Sherman was re-arranged for UFC Vegas 53, Candelaro vs. Taira is set to go down at the next UFC Fight Night on May 14, meaning that its initial cancelation will likely be a short-term negative.

Negative – “Control Time Does Matter”

No, Dominick, no it does not.

There’s only so many times this can be listed as a negative before it simply becomes an expected part of the broadcast. At UFC Vegas 53, it took just two fights for one of the color commentators’ lack of grasp of the scoring criteria to shine through.

During the barnburner between Natan Levy and Mike Breeden (more on that soon), Jon Anik and Michael Bisping pondered whether the American had edged the second frame, which the Israeli had controlled more of but with little damage. In response, Cruz claimed that control time matters.

I’ll list below a quote from the criteria that shows why the former UFC bantamweight champion was wrong with his assessment.

  • “Successful execution of takedowns, submission attempts, reversals, and the achievement of advantageous positions that produce immediate or cumulative impact with the potential to contribute to the end of the match…”

The key words being, “contribute to the end of the match.”

Simply put, top and bottom fighters during grappling exchanges are scored based on the impactful nature of their actions, rather than the position itself. Control time does not fit into the equation if not effectively put to use.

MMA is an offensive sport and is all about pursuing a finish to the fight. Control time without submission attempts or impactful strikes is essentially meaningless when it comes to scoring a fight.

Cruz was at it again later in the night, suggesting that Jake Collier’s takedown with less than 10 seconds of the third round remaining, which resulted in about 5 seconds of top control and nothing else, is what ‘stole the round’ for him. *sigh*

Positive – An Early Back & Forth Brawl

After an entertaining fight for as long as it lasted between Gina Mazany and Shanna Young, the card’s strong start continued thanks to the efforts of Natan Levy and Mike Breeden.

For three rounds, the pair went at it hard, leaving everything inside the Octagon. Throughout the 15 minutes, both landed hard blows and had success in the grappling department.

The two lightweights were visibly exhausted after delivering an early Fight of the Night contender. In the end, it was the Israeli who had his hand raised via unanimous decision, but Breeden certainly did his stock no harm at UFC Vegas 53.

Add this bout to the list of reasons why fans should never sleep on preliminary cards…

Positive – A Wild Comeback In A Wild Fight

“Gifted” Gabe Green. If by “gifted,” he means gifted with immense toughness and recovery ability, then absolutely.

Picking up where the previous fight left off, Green and Yohan Lainesse threw down in the third bout of the night. Early on, the Canadian’s power was on full show and looked set to be the difference.

If the first round didn’t already suggest that, the thunderous right hand that practically face-planted Green in the second certainly did. When he hit the ground, it seemed that the fat lady had her mic on. She eventually sang into it, but not before the Californian had recovered and finished the fight himself.

Towards the end of the second frame, Green unloaded with alternating shots to the head and body. Nothing is more frustrating than watching a fighter let their hurt opponent off the hook by throwing solely to the protected head.

On Saturday, Green showed exactly why digging into the open body can be so effective. After one particularly strong shot to the liver sat Lainesse down, some ground-and-pound forced referee Herb Dean to step in.

Impressive comeback, vicious finish, and a UFC Vegas 53 positive.

Positive – A Mauling Worthy Of The Odds

It’s hard to imagine a fighter branded as a favorite ever being able to do justice to odds as lopsided as -2500. But if I was to hazard a guess at how they’d do it, it’d go something like Alexandr Romanov’s performance at UFC Vegas 53.

In the space of just over two minutes, the Moldovan put a beating on his American counterpart that included takedowns, ground and pound, and a submission. Romanov’s first takedown came in less than 15 seconds. While Sherman may have grown in confidence after making his way back to his feet, that was quickly slammed out of him courtesy of a brutal suplex.

From there, it was relatively easy for “King Kong.” After advancing to full mount, he delivered some hard shots to “The Vanilla Gorilla” against the cage, before locking in an Americana for the tap.

The positive here isn’t the result — that was expected. It’s the fact that a serious prospect in the heavyweight division went out there and dispatched a lower-level opponent in as brutal a fashion as he needed to, enhancing his reputation as a name to watch. An additional contender is always a positive.

With that, a big fight should be next for him, and the name of #13-ranked Augusto Sakai certainly wasn’t a bad one for Romanov to call out during his time on the mic post-fight.

Positive – Darren Deals Damage, And Takes Some…

Was Darren Elkins vs. Tristan Connelly ever going to end any way other than with both men beaten and bloody? The term ‘as advertized’ was invented with these kind of matchups in mind.

When Elkins is in action, two things are promised: damage and blood. Courtesy of his aggressive strategy and the ability of fellow veteran Connelly to match him, that’s exactly what we got.

Ultimately, after some brutal exchanges and thunderous elbows, the pair fought to the final buzzer, soon after which Elkins was awarded the unanimous decision victory.

Not many people have sent a ‘re-sign me’ message quite like “The Damage” did on Saturday night. Give that man a new deal, Shelby!

Positive – The Brito Bomb

Boom. How about that for a right hand?

Pre-UFC Joanderson Brito has arrived in the Octagon, and in some style. The one and only man to finish Andre Fili with strikes prior to UFC Vegas 53 was current #3-ranked featherweight contender Yair Rodriguez back in 2016. That is certainly not bad company for “Tubarão.”

It took less than a minute for Brito to close the contest. He did so in textbook fashion, probing with his sharp jab before flattening “Touchy” with a looping overhand right that twisted him into the 1996 Bill Paxton and Helen Hunt classic (Google might be needed for that one…).

Fili gave a valiant effort to recover, but after two more flash knockouts on the ground, Herb Dean had seen enough and the bout was over after just 41 seconds.

After a disappointing debut loss to Bill Algeo, this could well be the result that sets the 27-year-old Brazilian prospect on track for a fast rise up the 145-pound ladder.

Positive – Arlovski Doesn’t Age

If you’d expected a dull heavyweight slog in the UFC Vegas 53 co-main event, you were sorely mistaken.

Andrei Arlovski and Jake Collier threw hard for the duration and with a level of conditioning you wouldn’t expect from a 43-year-old and from a man of Collier’s size. After a tight three rounds, the former champ fell on the right side of a split decision.

While I did score the fight for Collier, calls of ‘robbery’ seem misplaced. Either way, however you scored the contest, no one can deny the toughness and durability of “The Pitbull.”

Remarkably, Arlovski is now on a four-fight win streak. Who’d have expected that sentence to make sense in the year 2022? With the victory, the veteran equaled Jim Miller and Donald Cerrone for the most wins in UFC history (23).

Judging by his fight week comments, which saw Arlovski reveal that he still has championship aspirations, it seems that the Belarusian-American is far from done inside the Octagon.

Positive – A Bantamweight Barnburner

What a way to cap off a thoroughly entertaining card. As promised, Rob Font and Marlon Vera went to war in the Fight of the Night, proving exactly why the bantamweight division is regarded as one of, if not the, most entertaining weight classes in the world.

From the first second, Font threw at a rate and volume that was a sight to behold, and probably gave cornerman Calvin Kattar flashbacks to his Octagon date with Max Holloway last January.

Towards the end of the second frame, Vera, who had seemingly been biding his time, joined the party, dropping his foe and threatening a finish. A fast and furious third stanza ended with the same aesthetic: Vera pummelling a downed Font.

In the fourth, a back kick to the head made it a trio of knockdowns from rounds 2-4. Once again, Font incredibly survived to reach his corner, although that was largely due to the Ecuadorian’s bizarre decision to give Font about 30 seconds on his back free of any offense.

Credit also has to go to Tyson Chartier, who asked his man if he was able to continue, something we don’t often see.

Despite his wobbly moments and multiple trips to the canvas, Font never stopped pushing forward and playing his part in an incredible headline clash. Ultimately, he was left pretty unrecognizable.

After 25 minutes, “Chito” was awarded a unanimous decision victory that will certainly mark his breakthrough into the elite at 135 pounds. Welcome to the main event winners’ circle, Marlon Vera.

What were your positives and negatives from UFC Vegas 53?

Continue Reading 7 Positives & 2 Negatives From UFC Vegas 53 at MMA News.