UFC: Germaine de Randamie – Juliana Pena on tap October 3rd fight night

The UFC is close to finalizing a key women’s bantamweight matchup for their October 3rd fight night card. Per MMA Fighting, Germaine de Randamie (9-4) will take on Juliana Pena (9-3) in a matchup of top five bantamweights.

Next UFC title challenger?

The winner of this matchup could determine who will get the next shot at the UFC‘s bantamweight title. For de Randamie, she’s gone 6-2 in her UFC career with her two losses coming against the champion, Amanda Nunes.

The two ladies fought back in December for the bantamweight title with Nunes taking the unanimous decision victory. De Randamie did have some bright spots in the last fight.

It will be interesting to see what the UFC does if de Randamie goes on to win this fight. She’s already ranked at the top of the division, but she does have two losses to the current champion so it would be difficult booking a third matchup.

For Pena, the October 3rd fight will be her first fight of 2020 and just her second fight since the beginning of 2017. In her UFC career, she’s gone 5-1 with her lone loss coming to UFC flyweight champion, Valentina Shevchenko.

Both of these women are elite and it’ll be interesting to see how this one plays out. De Randamie is arguably the most decorated striker in the division while Pena is very good on the ground. A clash of styles for the October 3rd Fight Night.

UFC: Nunes Retirement Talk Causes Annoyed Response From Dana White

UFC, Dana White

The UFC has a number of current star fighters who might not return for future fights, including Conor McGregor and Jon Jones, but another name joining that list for different reasons could be Amanda Nunes… The same Amanda Nunes that’s currently the champion in both the women’s bantamweight and women’s featherweight divisions, meaning her retirement would put the UFC in a bad spot in multiple places.

After all, Nunes just defended her featherweight title at UFC 250 and is the largest draw on the women’s side of the sport right now, surpassing others such as Ronda Rousey and Cris Cyborg during her eleven fight winning streak. And the featherweight division which Nunes recently defended her crown in is less appealing without her in it, lacking the same star power in the rest of the rankings.

So it’s safe to say that when Dana White learned of Nunes’ talk about possibly retiring at this point, he wasn’t happy.

“I will kill her… I literally just told Sean [Shelby] and Mick [Maynard] in the last meeting, ‘Let’s get this division built for her. Let’s build this division for her, and let’s start figuring this out. And now she’s talking about retiring?” White said on the Schmozone Podcast.

There’s not a comparable talent on the featherweight roster to Nunes. Cris Cyborg was just about the only name favored over Nunes at 145 lbs, but she would end up knocked out within the first round against Nunes and is now in Bellator rather than the UFC. Felicia Spencer was able to survive five rounds without getting finished, but still lost her recent title challenge by unanimous decision.

That leaves a big question: who would replace Nunes as the face of both the women’s bantamweight and women’s featherweight divisions if she does go through with her possible ideas about retiring?

The answer isn’t clear to the fans and it doesn’t seem like it’s clear to Dana White, either.

“You know how I always say, ‘If you’re talking about retiring, you probably should.’ Unless you’re where she’s at. In this time, when I got guys crying about money, one of our female fighters, who could go on and keep doing this for a long time, is saying, ‘Maybe I retire now.’ She’s got plenty of money and she can do it,” White continued.

It hasn’t been a good few months for the UFC when it comes to the business side. The league is already suffering financially from lost ticket sales, and at the same time, it could lose talents such as McGregor, Jones, Jorge Masvidal, and now Nunes. The bantamweight belt is still vacant, and it looks like Henry Cejudo will remain retired.

The UFC has always had something of a star power problem, where the league doesn’t create as many marketable star athletes as others such as the NFL and NBA, but that problem could get a lot worse this year depending on how things go. And depending on what happens, this specific situation could cast doubt on the future of an entire division.

UFC: Two-Division Champ, Amanda Nunes, considering retirement

The greatest female fighter in UFC history is considering walking away from the sport. In an interview with Esporte Espetacular, Amanda Nunes said that there’s nothing left for her in the sport of MMA. “I’ve achieved everything I wanted. . . I can go on with my life, maybe a new step, maybe find new talents,” Nunes said in the interview.

What’s left to prove?

When you sit back and think about it, there really is nothing at the moment for Amanda Nunes. In talking about proposed superfights, I suggested that the UFC needed to pair her and flyweight champion, Valentina Shevchenko, up one more time. Nunes holds a 2-0 record in their series, but the last fight was very controversial. However, UFC President, Dana White, said that Shevchenko would fight strawweight champion, Weili Zhang, before she would fight Nunes again. If there’s no Shevchenko fight, who is Nunes supposed to fight at this stage in her career?

There are a couple of solid contenders for Nunes, but there’s no matchups that are remotely interesting. That’s no knock on the ladies that are lined up behind Nunes, but it’s a testament to just how good the champ is. I don’t see any competitive fights for her at 135 or 145. I think the only fight you could sell would be Megan Anderson, but Nunes just destroyed Felicia Spencer who just beat Anderson not too long ago. The only woman who can hang with her is Shevchenko, and that fight is not happening. Maybe it is time for the champion to walk away from the sport, at least for a while.

Greatest female fighter in UFC history

“The Lioness” has accomplished more than any other woman in UFC history. She’s the only woman to hold a belt in two weight classes at the same time. She’s the only fighter in UFC history to successfully defend both titles while holding onto them. She’s knocked out Ronda Rousey, she’s knocked out Cyborg, she’s knocked out Holly Holm, and she holds two wins over arguably the second greatest female fighter of all time, Valentina Shevchenko. Nunes is about to become a first-time mother with her wife and fellow UFC fighter, Nina Ansaroff. With nothing left to prove, maybe it’s time that she takes a step back and focus on other things in her life. At just 32-years-old, Nunes doesn’t have to walk away forever, but maybe it’s time to take a break from fighting. Maybe down the road she can return for a superfight if a new dominant champion emerges. Until then, there’s nothing left for her to prove. She can walk away now with no reservations as the greatest female UFC fighter we’ve ever seen.

Five Fights to Make after UFC 250

UFC, Dana White

Last night, the UFC made it’s PPV return to the fight capital of the world, and the card did not disappoint. There was a leg-kick TKO, two walk-off knockouts, and a brilliant performance from the greatest female fighter of all time. With that being said, let’s talk through five matchups that should be booked following UFC 250.

Suga Sean O’Malley vs Top Ten Opponent

Before last night, I said that the UFC did a great job of booking Eddie Wineland as an opponent for Suga Sean. O’Malley (12-0) is an elite striker, and he does a fantastic job at fighting from range. I thought it was the perfect showcase fight for him, and he did not disappoint. About halfway through the first round, O’Malley uncorked a right straight that put Wineland to sleep. O’Malley’s star is only going to continue to shine brighter, but I think the UFC needs to bring him along gradually. They need to use a similar path that they used with Conor McGregor.

O’Malley needs to fight someone in the rankings for his next fight. If you ask me, I would give him someone like a Rob Font (17-4). Font is currently ranked as the tenth best bantamweight in the world according to the UFC rankings. Font is coming off back to back wins, and he would be a good test for O’Malley. Font has been in there with some of the best guys in the world, and has only lost three times since 2016 to John Lineker, Pedro Munhoz, and Ralphael Assuncao. This is another winnable fight for O’Malley, but it would be a fight that would give him some top ten experience. Another win would vault O’Malley closer to the top five and a potential title shot.

Cory Sandhagen vs Jimmie Rivera

Last night did not go as planned for Cory Sandhagen (12-2). Sandhagen entered the matchup riding high having been unbeaten in the UFC. Sandhagen was submitted early in the first round by Aljamain Sterling (19-3). The only positive for Sandhagen was that he didn’t take damage in this fight. Sterling was able to get his back very quickly, but didn’t land a ton of shots. Instead, Sterling used his diverse ground attack to lock up a rear naked choke. With the loss, it’s back to the drawing board for Sandhagen.

To me, Jimmie Rivera (22-4) would be a good next opponent for Sandhagen. Rivera is currently ranked eighth in the world, but he’s coming off of back to back losses to Petr Yan and Sterling. Rivera is a tough guy who has consistently been one of the best in the world at bantamweight. Rivera hasn’t fought since last June so you have to believe he’s looking for a fight. With the limited damage, I’m guessing Sandhagen would like to get back in there as soon as he can. This would be a solid matchup of two top ten bantamweights who are looking to get back on the right track.

Cody Garbrandt vs Marlon Moraes

Cody Garbrandt (12-3) might have landed the best clean walkoff knockout of all time last night. Garbrandt had his back against the wall and he was facing a very tough challenger in Ralphael Assuncao (27-8). Garbrandt showed massive improvements last night in terms of his fighting IQ. Garbrandt stayed on the outside and used his speed brilliantly in this fight. Just before the second round ended, Garbrandt unleashed a right hand that put Assuncao to sleep. After getting knocked out three times in a row, this is exactly the type of win that Garbrandt needed.

“Magic” Marlon Moraes (23-6-1) is in a very weird spot in the bantamweight division. Moraes is currently the number one ranked bantamweight and he’s coming off of a win against the man who is getting the next title shot, Jose Aldo. Moraes is 5-1 in his last six fights with his only loss being to former champion, Henry Cejudo. It’s very clear that Aljamain Sterling is getting the next title shot, but a Garbrandt/Moraes fight would be perfect to setup the next challenger. Yan and Aldo will fight this summer, but maybe the UFC looks to book Sterling against the winner with Garbrandt/Moraes on the under card. Either way, I think this is the fight that makes the most sense.

Aljamain Sterling vs Winner of Yan/Aldo

There is no one in the UFC right now that is probably more deserving of a title shot than Aljamain Sterling. Sterling has now won five straight fights since his last loss to Marlon Moraes. Sterling has looked sensational in his last three fights, but last night he went to the next level. He went through the fourth ranked bantamweight like he was nothing. Sterling made an emphatic statement that he is next for the title, and honestly, he should be fighting for the title now.

Petr Yan (14-1) and Jose Aldo (28-6) have their fight finalized for sometime in July. Dana White announced that the fight was done and would take place in July. Sterling will be watching this fight very closely to figure out who he’s going to be taking on for the title.

Amanda Nunes vs Megan Anderson

To be honest, I really don’t know what to do with Amanda Nunes (20-4). She looked better than ever last night completely out-classing poor Felicia Spencer (8-2) over the course of a five-round beat down. Nunes is so much better than her competition it’s not even funny. I don’t see anyone in either of her two divisions giving her a challenge. Her only realistic challenger would be the UFC’s flyweight champion, Valentina Shevchenko. I previously said it’s a super fight the UFC needs to make, but last night, Dana White said that fight wouldn’t be happening anytime soon.

With that in mind, we look at her two divisions for some challengers. After previously defending her bantamweight title a couple of times in a row, I think Nunes will look to defend her featherweight title for the second time in a row. The logical choice for a challenger would be Megan Anderson (11-4). Anderson is 3-1 in her last four fights with her only loss being to Felicia Spencer. Anderson is a very tall woman and could pose some interesting challenges for the champion. However, I don’t think anyone would give Anderson much of a chance in this one. Nunes is just so much better than anyone which is why she is the greatest of all time.

UFC 250 Recap: Amanda Nunes Crushes Felicia Spencer

UFC 250 marked the PPV return to the fight capital of the world and the main event featured a featherweight title fight between champion Amanda Nunes (20-4), and challenger, Felicia Spencer (8-2). The UFC has come back with a bang with these events, and tonight was arguably the best night of fights yet.

Amanda Nunes Dismantles Felicia Spencer

The greatest female fighter of all time, Amanda Nunes, made her return to the featherweight division for the first time since she took the title from Cris Cyborg back at UFC 232. Nunes was a massive favorite over challenger, Felicia Spencer. A Las Vegas better even placed a $1 million bet on Nunes prior to the fight. Early on, it became very evident as to why Nunes was such a massive favorite in this fight. Nunes hit Spencer with some bombs early on in the first round. To Spencer’s credit, she did take the shots well. Spencer tried to engage in grappling the champion, but Nunes immediately tossed her to the floor. Nunes spent the rest of the round dominating Spencer on the ground, punishing the challenger with vicious elbows which cut the challenger.

In round two, Spencer tried to rush the champion, but she continued to eat big shots coming in. Spencer continued to try to engage Nunes in the grappling in round two, but again, Nunes was able to take Spencer down. The fight ended back up on the feet, and Nunes continued to use Spencer for target practice. Round three didn’t see much of a change in the fight. Nunes just stayed on the outside picking Spencer apart. Nunes really hurt Spencer in the third round with some serious leg kicks. Spencer was having difficulties putting weight on her leg at the end of the round. Nunes was just having her way with the challenger.

Entering the championship rounds, Spencer tried to press forward knowing that she was down three rounds. However, Nunes just kept picking apart the challenger. Nunes kept a smile on her face as she stayed on the outside hurting Spencer. Nunes was using every striking technique she had in her repertoire, and every single one was landing. Despite getting dismantled, Spencer kept pushing forward trying to mount some offense, but there was nothing there. Nunes rocked Spencer bad at the end of the round. Nunes locked in a rear naked choke, but the round ended before Spencer went to sleep.

In the fifth round, Nunes landed a couple of clean shots then she took the fight to the ground. Spencer tried to throw up some submissions from guard, but nothing ever appeared to be close. Nunes seemed content to coast through the fifth round. Inside the guard, Nunes cut Spencer again with some sharp elbows. With about a minute left in the fight the two ended back up on the feet. Nunes landed a few more good shots and landed a massive takedown towards the end of the round. The final bell mercifully sounded in one of the most lopsided title fights in UFC history.  Nunes took the fight by unanimous decision (50-44, 50-44, 50-45).

Garbrandt Sleeps Assuncao in Two

The co-main event of the event featured the return of former bantamweight champion, Cody Garbrandt (12-3), and top contender, Raphael Assuncao (27-8). Both of the fighters went into this fight on two-fight losing streaks. The former champion, Garbrandt, had a ton of pressure on his shoulders after being knocked out in his previous three fights. Garbrandt opened up the fight with some solid leg kicks while keeping the distance on Assuncao. The entire first round, Garbrandt stayed very patient on the outside picking his shots on Assuncao. Assuncao really never got the distance right in round one. Assuncao was chasing Garbrandt all round and he was eating shots from the outside including some very nice leg kicks.

Garbrandt opened round two with a blitz where landed a clean head kick on Assuncao. Garbrandt’s speed and diverse striking attack was giving Assuncao fits. About two minutes into the second, Assuncao landed a couple of decent right hands, but Garbrandt didn’t react. In the past, Garbrandt would bite down on his mouthpiece and throw caution to the wind. Garbrandt stayed patient in round two trying to strike from the outside. Garbrandt quickly floored Assuncao with a big right hook that landed behind the ear. Assuncao bounced back up and landed some decent shots. Assuncao seemed to be gaining his range towards the end of the round, but right before the round ended, Garbrandt landed a massive right hook that put Assuncao to sleep. “No Love” made a massive statement with this fight, and proved to everyone that he is still one of the best bantamweights in the world.

Sterling Puts Sandhagen To Sleep via RNC

The fight that I was personally looking forward to the most heading into the evening was the bantamweight title eliminator fight between Aljamain Sterling (19-3) and Cory Sandhagen (12-2). Petr Yan and Jose Aldo will be fighting for the vacant title this summer, but Dana White said the winner of this matchup would fight the winner of that fight. The betting odds were dead even leading up to this fight with both men sharing very similar skill sets. Sterling came storming out of the gate putting a ton of pressure on Sandhagen early. Sterling was able to get Sandhagen down, and take his back within the first minute of the first round. From there, the fight did not last long. Sterling was able to lock in a rear naked choke and put Sandhagen to sleep. “Funk Master” left no doubt to who the number one contender is in the UFC’s bantamweight division with that performance.

Magny Decisions Rocco Martin

The second fight of the PPV featured a welterweight contest between Neil Magny (22-7) and Anthony Rocco Martin (17-5). There was a lot of pressure on Rocco Martin entering this fight with him saying earlier in the week that this fight was the last fight on his current UFC deal. Rocco Martin did come out with a sense of urgency really trying to push the pace early against the Haitian Sensation. The first round featured a lot of clinch work that was initiated by Rocco Martin. Whenever the fighters were at distance, Magny seemed to have the striking advantage, landing some solid straight punches and kicks.

In the second round, Rocco Martin was able to land a solid right hand which seemed to hurt Magny. A big takedown in the middle of the round for Rocco Martin was probably the most significant part of the round. In the third round, Magny came out with a ton of urgency. Rocco Martin seemed to be tired, and Magny put the pressure on him. Magny did a really good job of not letting Rocco Martin breathe in the third round. Rocco Martin was breathing very heavy in the third, and Magny landed some clean shots throughout the round. Magny looked like he could go another five rounds after the final bell sounded, and Rocco Martin looked exhausted. In the end, the judges gave the unanimous decision victory to Neil Magny (30-27, 30-27, 29-28). After nearly a two-year layoff, Magny has come out strong in 2020 with back to back victories.

Suga Show Rolls On With a Walkoff

The PPV main card kicked off with a great matchup between Suga Sean O’Malley (12-0) and Eddie Wineland (24-14-1). I said in our preview that I thought this would be the perfect showcase fight for O’Malley and it proved to be that. Wineland is a big name and is the kind of guy who would go right after O’Malley on the feet. Early on in the fight, O’Malley did a really good job at controlling the distance with his kicks. Wineland kept trying to press forward, but he really could never get close enough to do any damage. O’Malley used his feints extremely well in this fight and put Wineland to sleep with a massive right straight in the first round. O’Malley was already on the fast track to stardom before this fight, but his stock jumped massively with this performance.

Prelim Highlights

There were some definite bright spots in the prelims tonight. One of the early standouts was Herbert Burns (11-2), who kicked off the evening with a quick submission over veteran, Evan Dunham. Alex Perez (24-5) was also incredibly impressive in his performance against Jussier Formiga. Perez was able to get a stoppage via leg kicks which marks the second straight week we’ve seen a leg kick TKO in the octagon. Perez is now 6-1 in his seven UFC fights. Perez is likely next in line for the flyweight title. Devin Clark (12-4) was able to halt all momentum for previously unbeaten, Alonzo Menifield by getting the unanimous decision victory.

One of the fights that Dana White was telling everyone about before tonight was the fight between Maki Pitolo (13-5) and Charles Byrd (10-7). Both men went back and forth early on, but Pitolo was able to get the stoppage in the second round. Byrd has now been finished in three consecutive fights. The next fight featured a featherweight contest between Brian Kelleher (21-11) and Cody Stamann (19-2-1). Stamann was coming into this fight with an extremely heavy heart after he lost his younger brother this week. Stamann turned in an incredible performance and was able to take the unanimous decision victory. The next prelim saw a middleweight contest between Ian Heinisch (14-3) and Gerald Meerschaert (31-13). This was a fight that almost didn’t happen with a corner member of Heinisch testing positive for COVID-19 earlier this week. However, later testing determined it was a false positive so the fight went on. Heinisch went on to make a big statement stopping Meerschaert in the first round.

Bruce Leeroy Stops The Teenage Dream

The featured prelim of the evening featured a featherweight contest between the youngest fighter on the roster, Chase Hooper (9-1-1), and Alex Caceres (16-12-1). Hooper entered this fight with a ton of momentum and a lot of eyes on him. Hooper had the most viewed fight in the history of Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series. Caceres was a big step up in competition for Hooper and it showed. Caceres hurt Hooper early and often on the feet. There was a massive difference in the two men’s striking ability. Caceres spent the entire first fight busting “The Teenage Dream” up on the feet. Hooper threatened a couple of times in grappling exchanges, but this fight was controlled by Bruce Leeroy. Caceres went on to take the unanimous decision victory.

Final Takeaways

Amanda Nunes has no real challenges ahead of her at this point in either one of her divisions. To me, there is only one fight to make with Nunes, and that is a trilogy fight with flyweight champion, Valentina Shevchenko. Shevchenko, who arguably won the last fight with Nunes, is facing a similar situation at flyweight. These two need to fight for a third time. Nunes’ dominance is something to behold. Felicia Spencer was absolutely game tonight, but she had nothing for the champion tonight.

Aljamain Sterling made a massive statement with his first round victory tonight. I’ve thought all along that Sterling deserved to fight for the title over Jose Aldo/Petr Yan, and he reinforced those thoughts tonight. “Funk Master” will now wait his turn, but there is no denying him of his shot now.

Sean O’Malley and Cody Garbrandt’s knockouts were something to behold tonight. While it was great to see Garbrandt back in the win column, to me, the night belonged to the Suga Show. O’Malley is a budding star, and he made a massive statement tonight. Look for O’Malley to jump into the top 10 in the UFC’s rankings after this performance. Do not be shocked to see the UFC take the Conor McGregor route with O’Malley. I fully expect the Suga Show to get a headlining fight in his next appearance.

 

UFC 250 Preview: Amanda Nunes looks to continue her reign against Felicia Spencer

This Saturday night, the UFC makes its return to PPV with UFC 250 which will be headlined by the greatest female fighter of all time, Amanda Nunes, defending her featherweight title against Canadian challenger, Felicia Spencer. UFC 250 also is an extremely important event for the UFC’s bantamweight division with a number of key matchups that will play a big role in deciding who will take on the winner of the Petr Yan/Jose Aldo title fight this summer. This is a stacked fight card that has intriguing matchups up and down the card. With that in mind, let’s dive into the card and take a look at some of those intriguing matchups.

Amanda Nunes vs Felicia Spencer

The main event of UFC 250 marks the return of champion, Amanda Nunes (19-4), following her victory over Germaine de Randamie at UFC 245. In that fight, Nunes looked a little more vulnerable than she normally does. The challenger was able to land some solid shots on Nunes for the first time in a while, Nunes appeared to be human. Still in a down performance, Nunes was able to unanimously defeat the former featherweight champion in de Randamie. Nunes hasn’t lost in six years and has looked unbeatable outside of her fights with flyweight champion, Valentina Shevchenko. Nunes is the total package with elite striking ability, incredible power, and a slick ground game. There are no holes in her game. At this stage in her career, it’s hard even finding fights that would be competitive for her. She’s just that much better than all the competition. Felicia Spencer (8-1), is hoping to show the world that she is beatable by pulling off the enormous upset.

You would be hard-pressed to find any girl tougher in the world than Felicia Spencer. Spencer is a bulldog when she fights who doesn’t stop pressing forward even if she is taking some heavy shots. She took everything that former champion, Cris Cyborg, had and just kept coming forward back at UFC 240. That night, Spencer suffered her only career loss. After losing to Cyborg, Spencer bounced back in impressive fashion stopping Zarah Fairn dos Santos in the first round. In that fight, she took some shots on the feet but dominated once the fight got to the campus. Spencer is the type of fighter who doesn’t want to win a pretty fight. She’s not going to dazzle you with her skills, but she looks to run you over with pure toughness and determination. In her training leading up to this fight, it looks like she’s really trying to make strides in her striking game to make her more fluid on the feet. This will be a key factor if she hopes to pull off the upset.

When it comes to this fight, I’m having a hard time seeing how Felicia Spencer can win. This is not a knock on her, but more of a testament to just how good Amanda Nunes is. The Lioness is truly something special to behold, and I don’t believe Spencer has the tools to win this fight. Spencer does not have the fluidity to dodge the shots that Nunes will be throwing on Saturday night. While she was able to evade some of Cyborg’s looping punches, she’s going to really struggle to evade the speed and accuracy that Amanda Nunes will be throwing at her. Spencer’s only chance in this fight is to make it a clinch war early where she can hope to tire the champion. If she can make Amanda tired, she could maybe take it to the ground where she can do what Cat Zingano did to Nunes almost six years ago. However, I think the fans are going to be in for a showcase performance by Amanda Nunes. Spencer is as tough as they come, but she is going to get lit up early and often in this fight. I just think the power and the speed is going to be way too much for Felicia Spencer on Saturday. Spencer is one of the best in the world at 145, but there is a massive gap between the contenders and Amanda Nunes.

Prediction: Amanda Nunes by TKO – Round 1

Cody Garbrandt vs Raphael Assuncao

The co-main event of the evening features the return of former bantamweight champion, Cody Garbrandt (11-3), as he looks to rebound against perennial bantamweight contender, Raphael Assuncao (27-7). Entering 2017, Garbrandt was looked at as the next big star of the UFC. He had just dominated Dominick Cruz to win the bantamweight title back at UFC 207, and he was extremely entertaining to watch. Garbrandt had seven first-round finishes in his first eleven fights which is almost unheard of for guys in the lower weight classes. Garbrandt had a speed/power combination that made him a handful. His stardom was starting to take off when he coached the Ultimate Fighter alongside ex-teammate, TJ Dillashaw. The two’s feud made the show a hit, and a lot of people were tuned into UFC 217 specifically to watch those two go at it. Garbrandt looked incredibly sharp early and almost finished the fight in the first round. Since that round, Garbrandt has not been the same fighter. Garbrandt got knocked out in the second round by Dillashaw. Following the loss, Garbrandt had trouble staying healthy but was able to get a rematch the next year. This time, Dillashaw knocked out Garbrandt in the first round. Then Garbrandt would go on to get knocked out in the first round by contender, Pedro Munhoz at UFC 235 last year. This is a make it or break it fight for “No Love”. He needs a big win here to get himself back on the right path and stop this horrendous skid that he’s currently on.

Standing across from Garbrandt will be contender, Raphael Assuncao. Since joining the UFC, Assuncao has quietly put together one of the better careers for someone who has never fought for the title. He’s 11-3 in the UFC and holds wins over TJ Dillashaw, Marlon Moraes, Aljamain Sterling, and Pedro Munhoz. You would think with all of those wins over the top guys in the world the guy would have fought for the title. The problem for Assuncao has been the title eliminator fights. At UFC 200, he lost to TJ Dillashaw in a fight that would have likely given him a title shot had he won. After that, Assuncao rattled off four consecutive wins and he found himself again on the cusp of a title shot only to lose to Marlon Moraes who he had just defeated 18 months prior. For the first time in his career, Assuncao has lost two fights in a row coming into UFC 250. This fight is massive for both guys who are at the top of the division, but both are coming into Saturday on multiple fight losing streaks.

I’ve gone back and forth with this fight on what I think is going to happen. Who wins will honestly come down to one man and that man is Cody Garbrandt. If we can see 2016 Cody Garbrandt, I think he is going to win impressively. His back is against the wall, and I believe that he still has plenty in the tank. Garbrandt is splitting this camp between Team Alpha Male and Mark Henry’s gym in New Jersey. I think you are going to see a new and improved Garbrandt in this fight. However, he cannot get reckless like he did against Pedro Munhoz. Garbrandt threw caution to the wind after he rocked Munhoz and got himself knocked out. Garbrandt needs to stay patient and pick his shots. If he rushes in recklessly, Assuncao possesses the power to knock him out. I think you are going to see a more mature Cody Garbrandt in this fight, and I think he stops his losing streak by stopping Raphael Assuncao.

Prediction: Cody Garbrandt by TKO – Round 2

Aljamain Sterling vs Cory Sandhagen

In all honesty, this is the fight that I’m most looking forward to on Saturday night. This bantamweight matchup between Aljamain Sterling (18-3) and Cory Sandhagen (12-1) will likely determine who will be facing the winner of the Petr Yan/Jose Aldo fight for the bantamweight title. I was blown away the last time that we saw Sterling in the octagon. Sterling’s striking looked better than ever which just makes him even more dynamic and dangerous. “Funk Master” is such a fitting name when you watch the way he picked apart Pedro Munhoz at UFC 238. Sterling throws from awkward angles yet he seems to find a home for most of his shots. He’s tremendous on the ground and doesn’t mind the fight going there which opens up his kicking game. Coming into this fight, Sterling has won four fights in a row. I believed that he should have been the one fighting for the title against Petr Yan, but the UFC is going for more name recognition in that one. Sterling is riding high and he’s hoping that he can continue that high against Sandhagen.

Cory Sandhagen has looked sensational since he debuted in the UFC back in 2018. Sandhagan made his UFC debut on just eight days’ notice when he stopped Iuri Alcantara in the second round. Since then he’s rattled off three more wins including notable victories over John Lineker and Raphael Assuncao. There are not a lot of weaknesses in Sandhagen’s game. He’s good on the ground and he’s really good on the feet. Sandhagen does a really good job of using his height and reach to control the distance when he strikes. In a fight that is likely going to go the distance, point fighting is going to be very important. Despite being taller by four inches, Sandhagen actually will have a reach disadvantage in this fight, but don’t let that fool you. Sandhagen fights taller than his reach with his frequent use of kicks to all targets from the legs to up top. This is truly a fight where I don’t know what’s going to happen.

It does not get more even than these two. Both guys bring a similar skillset to the octagon, and both guys are riding impressive winning streaks. This is a fight that I would be scared to bet any sort of money on. I’ve gone back and forth the last couple of days, and as I’m writing this, I’m going to lean towards Sterling. Sterling is so close to the title and I think he will fight with urgency. I think this fight is going to go back and forth, but I believe in the end, Sterling will do enough to secure a decision. I do not see either guy getting a finish, and I see the decision being razor close.

Prediction: Aljamain Sterling – Split Decision

Neil Magny vs Anthony Ricco Martin

The second fight on the main card features a welterweight contest between Neil Magny (22-7) and Anthony Rocco Martin (17-5). This is an interesting matchup that I see going one of two ways. Martin is the better fighter on the ground so if he’s able to get the fight to the ground, I can see him either winning by submission or by points. However, Martin does not do a very good job of getting fights to the ground which likely means we will see a standup fight. Magny has fought some of the best guys in the world and possesses a decent standup game. Magny also has a really good gas tank that will allow him to fight at a faster pace which does not favor Martin. Since I see this fight staying up on the feet, I think Magny is going to control this one throughout. Magny is coming off a win back in March after a 16-month layoff. I think Magny is going to get his second consecutive win by staying on the outside and controlling the range, picking apart Martin throughout. I don’t see either man getting a finish unless Martin gets it to the ground, so I’m going to go with Magny here to get his second win of 2020.

Prediction: Neil Magny – Unanimous Decision

Sean O’Malley vs Eddie Wineland

Kicking off the PPV card we will get to watch the Suga Show. “Sugar” Sean O’Malley (11-0) will be taking on veteran and former title challenger, Eddie Wineland (24-13-1). O’Malley has been through the wringer over the last couple of years. The 25-year-old burst onto the scene back in 2017 with an incredible performance on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series. O’Malley would then go on to win his first two fights in the UFC. However, failed drug tests kept O’Malley out for two years before his return back in March. O’Malley’s situation was incredibly frustrating because the tests were finding trace amounts of a substance that was likely there due to a tainted supplement. O’Malley was frustrated, but stayed patient and finally got to return at UFC 248. There, O’Malley looked better than ever stopping Jose Alberto Quinonez in the first round. This is a perfect follow-up fight for O’Malley because he is now getting a chance to fight someone with a little name recognition.

Eddie Wineland has been around for a long time and was the first WEC bantamweight champion. Wineland has fought guys like Urijah Faber, Joseph Benavidez, John Dodson, and Renan Barao. Wineland challenged for the UFC’s bantamweight title against Barao back in 2013. Wineland is about as tough as they come and he’s the kind of guy who is going to come right at O’Malley. The last time we saw Wineland, he stopped Grigory Popov in the second round back at UFC 238. Wineland is no joke, but he also makes for the perfect opponent for the rising UFC star.

This to me is a complete showcase fight for Sugar Sean O’Malley. He’s going to have a big advantage on the feet, and he’s taking on a guy who is going to come right at him. This fight on this stage will give O’Malley another big bump in his popularity if he’s able to impressively win. If you’re trying to build up a star, this is perfect matchmaking. Of course, Wineland is extremely tough and has a punchers chance, but I can’t see him beating O’Malley. I think O’Malley is going to pick him apart from the outside before catching Wineland with something big as he comes in. This fight is a stepping stone fight for O’Malley and I don’t believe he’s going to disappoint.

Prediction: Sean O’Malley by TKO – Round 1

Prelim’s to Watch

The entire card is really good for Saturday night. The prelims are filled with several intriguing matchups and fighters to pay attention to. I’m anxious to watch the featured prelim between Chase Hooper (9-0-1) and Alex Caceres (15-12). Hooper is another guy who could develop into a star for the UFC. The 20-year-old possesses some of the best ground skills in the UFC, and it will be interesting seeing him go up against a veteran like “Bruce Leeroy”. In addition to that, you have guys like Ian Heinisch, Cody Stamann, and Alex Perez all fighting on the prelims. I’m also very interested in seeing the undefeated Alonzo Menifield who is coming into UFC 250 with four consecutive first round finishes. The very first fight of the evening features Herbert Burns (10-2) and veteran, Evan Dunham (18-8-1). This is a fun fight and I’m interested to see more of Burns who is coming off of a sensational victory in his first UFC fight back in January. Burns is the brother of UFC welterweight contender, Gilbert Burns. Overall, the card is incredibly stacked with fun fights from start to finish. I’ll be excited to tune in on Saturday night for another night of incredible fights.

UFC: Realistic Super Fights to Make

There has been a lot of craziness going on in the UFC with people calling for super fights, and others like Jon Jones saying they will walk away until he gets compensated for a super fight. With all these discussions going on, I started thinking about the UFC and super fights that could be made. Right now, the sports world is still not back to normal, but the UFC is pushing forward with events. The UFC will eventually bring fans back to the arena and when they do, there are several realistic options for super fights. Let’s breakdown some of the fights that the UFC could make to earn large paydays for the company and the fighters who are seeking a fat check.

Francis Ngannou vs Anthony Johnson

For this first one, I wanted to target a fight that could realistically come together quickly. This could be a fight that comes together before fans are even back in the stands. You might question this fight at first, but once you think about it, it starts to make sense. Anthony “Rumble” Johnson (22-6) hasn’t fought in over three years since he lost to Daniel Cormier for the second time at UFC 210. Johnson announced after the fight that he would be stepping away from the sport to pursue other avenues. The decision came as a shock to everyone because Rumble was peaking in his career. He was coming off of a five-year stretch where he went 12-2 with nine knockouts. The only man to defeat him was Cormier, who did it twice. When Rumble was knocking people out, it was scary to watch. His knockouts over Glover Teixeira, Ryan Bader, and Jimi Manuwa were impressive, to say the least. Rumble announced late last year that he would be returning to the UFC, but he said he hadn’t decided which division he would compete in. He originally said that he intended to compete at heavyweight, but he suggested that he might try to drop down to 205 for another run at the light heavyweight title. I think he should come back to the heavyweight division to stand across the octagon from someone possibly even more terrifying.

Is there anyone more terrifying in the UFC right now than Francis Ngannou (15-3)? Ngannou lost his way with two lackluster performances a couple of years ago, but since then, he’s fought four times with none of those fights going more than 90 seconds. Ngannou has rattled off four consecutive knockouts against Curtis Blaydes, Cain Velasquez, Junior dos Santos, and Jairzinho Rozenstruik. Last month, Ngannou took on the undefeated, Rozenstruik in a matchup that was much anticipated. Rozenstruik called Ngannou out, and Francis made him aware that calling him out was a mistake. Ngannou destroyed the previously unbeaten Rozenstruik in just 20 seconds. I think it’s safe to say that Ngannou is the hardest hitter that the UFC has ever seen. It’s remarkable to say, but he reminds me of a prime Mike Tyson when he fights. Right now, Ngannou is left without a dance partner. There was some back and forth with him and Jon Jones, but that fight does not look like it’s going to materialize. Ngannou should be fighting for the title, but Cormier and champion, Stipe Miocic are in the process of negotiating the conclusion to their trilogy. Ngannou needs someone to fight, and Rumble Johnson needs a big name for his return. Sign me up right now for two of the most prolific knockout artists in UFC history going head to head. Whoever wins the fight would be first in line to fight for the title after Cormier and Miocic fight. You know this fight will not go to the ground and you have to believe that someone would be going to sleep. It’s a fight that gets my heart racing just thinking about it.

Amanda Nunes vs Valentina Shevchenko 3

Normally you wouldn’t consider a trilogy fight where one fighter is 2-0 in the series to be a super fight, but this isn’t your normal circumstance. The two best female fighters in the world are Amanda Nunes (19-4) and Valentina Shevchenko (19-3). I completely disagree with the UFC’s women’s P4P rankings where they moved strawweight champion, Weili Zhang, ahead of Shevchenko. No disrespect to Zhang, but she doesn’t have the resume to be ranked ahead of Shevchenko. Shevchenko has looked invincible since the UFC created the flyweight division. She is 5-0 and not a single one of those fights was even remotely competitive. Shevchenko is truly the full package with no weaknesses in her game. Her last loss came as UFC 215 to Amanda Nunes. I believe that Nunes is the greatest female fighter of all time, but I believe that Shevchenko won the last fight between the two of them.

Since 2015, the only person to make Amanda Nunes look mortal is Valentina Shevchenko. Nunes has put together a resume that puts her easily in the top spot to be the greatest female fighter of all time. If you think of the all-time greats in women’s MMA, she’s beaten them. When you think of the most famous names in women’s MMA, you think of Ronda Rousey, Cris Cyborg, Miesha Tate, and Holly Holm. Well, Nunes beat all four of those women and none of them made it to the second round. She is the only woman in UFC history to hold a belt in two weight classes at the same time. The only real challenge she’s had was that fight against Shevchenko. These two women are just operating on an entirely different level. Nunes is fighting Felicia Spencer this Saturday at UFC 250 and once Shevchenko recovers from her injury, she will likely be facing off with Joanne Calderwood. I don’t see either challenger posing a threat to the two champions. Assuming they both get through those fights victorious, I think you should pair them up again. If you look at the rankings, there is no one in those weight classes who will give them trouble, and the toughest women in their divisions have already been defeated by them. The only fight that would make sense is pairing these two back up for a massive fight in terms of legacy. Shevchenko does have the opportunity for a second champion versus champion fight in the future with Zhang, but I think Zhang needs to fight Rose Namajunas and perhaps another fight with Joanna Jedrzejczyk before she moves up to 125 to challenge “Bullet”.

Jon Jones vs Israel Adesanya

This is the matchup that you dream about when you think about super fights. Two undefeated champions facing off with some heat between the two of them. There is no question that these two men do not like each other, and this fight would be massive for UFC fans all over the world. Israel Adesanya (19-0) burst onto the UFC just two years ago, but he’s already blossomed into one of the biggest stars in the sport. Sporting a perfect 19-0 record, Adesanya has defeated Robert Whittaker, Kelvin Gastelum, Yoel Romero, and Anderson Silva in the last 17 months. The Nigerian native has dazzled fans with his flashy striking style and his confident personality. Adesanya has a little work to do in his own division before moving up to 205, but “The Last Stylebender” already has a time frame for his move. Adesanya will fight the undefeated, Paulo Costa (13-0), at some point this year. If Adesanya gets through Costa, his last fight before a move up would likely be a rematch with Robert Whittaker or a fight with Darren Till depending on who wins their fight in July. Adesanya says that he wants to come after Jon Jones in 2021.

Jon Jones (26-1-1) is in a little bit of a weird spot. Widely considered the greatest MMA fighter of all-time, Jones is currently in a contract dispute with the UFC. Jones’ last three fights didn’t sell extremely well, and Jones didn’t give fans a reason to want to tune in. Jones has almost looked like he’s just been going through the motions in his last couple of fights. When he came back and won the title against Alexander Gustafsson, Jones had that killer instinct. He finished Gustafsson and made a statement in doing so. Since then he’s had okay decision victories over Anthony Smith, Thiago Santos, and Dominick Reyes. The Santos fight was a split decision, and a lot of people believed he lost the fight to Reyes. Jones seems to be the victim of fighting to his competition level. When he doesn’t see someone as a major threat, he just goes through the motions in the fight. Jones had been asking for a fight with UFC heavyweight star, Francis Ngannou, which led to this contract dispute. Jones wants to get paid more, and he probably should get paid more. However, from the UFC’s perspective, they are looking at a guy who hasn’t sold well in his last few outings which doesn’t give them the incentive to pay Jones more. Jones has said he would vacate the title due to all of this, and if he goes through with that, this super fight kind of goes out the window. This fight would need to be for the light heavyweight title, but if Jones leaves the UFC for a while, the steam behind this super fight goes with him. I think the UFC will work things out with Jones and he will defend his title towards the end of the year. Assuming Jones gets through that fight victorious, he can wait for Adesanya. If both guys take care of business, the UFC should look to book Adesanya/Jones for the light heavyweight title at International Fight Week next July at the newly built Allegiant Stadium which holds over 60,000 fans.

Khabib Nurmagomedov vs Conor McGregor 2

Did you think there’d be a super fight list without the biggest draw in the history of the sport? Khabib Nurmagomedov (28-0) and Conor McGregor (22-4) are the two highest-paid fighters in the UFC. They are global stars who sell at the highest level and they hate each other. Khabib Nurmagomedov is arguably the best pound for pound fighter in the world. The man is an absolute animal who has never really been challenged in his 28 fights which sounds insane. Nurmagomedov has mauled every man that has stepped across the cage from him, and his last two performances have been his best showings so far. Last September, Nurmagomedov fought Dustin Poirier for the undisputed lightweight championship. Poirier had captured the interim lightweight title, and came into the fight with an incredible amount of momentum coming off wins against Justin Gaethje and Max Holloway. Many people thought Poirier would give Nurmagomedov trouble, but there was no trouble at all. There were a couple of times where Poirier threatened Khabib, but for the most part, it was a one-sided mauling. Prior to that fight, Nurmagomedov faced off against the famous Irishman at UFC 229. Nurmagomedov dominated that fight even rocking McGregor on the feet. Khabib would go on to submit McGregor in the fourth round. Afterwards, a brawl broke out which saw “The Eagle” attack McGregor’s corner, and Nurmagomedov’s corner attacked McGregor. There is just too much there between the two men to not run the fight back. The one hurdle standing in the way at the moment would be interim champion, Justin Gaethje. Gaethje and Nurmagomedov are scheduled to fight later in the summer to early in the fall.

Conor McGregor is the biggest star in UFC history and there’s not really a close second. McGregor soared to fame and became the first fighter in UFC history to hold a belt in two weight classes simultaneously. After he destroyed Eddie Alvarez to win the lightweight title at UFC 205, McGregor jumped to the world of boxing to fight Floyd Mayweather in a boxing match which netted McGregor a $100 million payday. After the Mayweather fight, many wondered if McGregor would ever return to the sport of MMA. The UFC stripped him of both of his titles and the divisions moved on. Nurmagomedov won the lightweight title while McGregor sat on the sidelines. McGregor would make headlines for his actions outside the octagon which included attacking a bus that held the lightweight champion, Nurmagomedov. There was so much heat between the two men leading up to their fight at UFC 229. Following the loss, McGregor stepped away from the sport for another lengthy layoff. Throughout 2019, McGregor seemed to be getting back to his roots. He was starting to get his personal life in order, and he seemed to be dedicating himself back to the sport that made him a superstar. It was announced that McGregor would return against Donald Cerrone back in January. McGregor never looked better, destroying Cowboy Cerrone in just 40 seconds. There is no question as to what is the biggest fight the UFC can possibly make. No disrespect to Justin Gaethje, but the biggest fight the UFC can make is Conor McGregor getting his second chance at the undisputed champion Khabib Nurmagomedov. Obviously, Gaethje will get the next shot as the interim champion, but I can promise you that the UFC front office will be praying for a Nurmagomedov victory. A Nurmagomedov/McGregor rematch for the UFC lightweight championship would be the biggest fight in the history of the sport.