UFC books headliner between Darren Till and Marvin Vettori

The UFC is making moves with their middleweight division. Last night, we learned that the promotion had finalized a bout between Paulo Costa and Robert Whittaker that would headline a Fight Night on April 17th. 

Today, ESPN’s Brett Okamoto was the first to report that the UFC has finalized another incredible middleweight matchup. On April 10th, Darren Till (18-3-1) and Marvin Vettori (16-4-1) will headline another Fight Night.

This is going to be a massive seven day stretch for the middleweight division. Darren Till last fought back in July when he took on former UFC champion, Robert Whittaker (22-5).

The fight was extremely close, but Whittaker pulled out a decision. Till was originally supposed to headline a card against Jack Hermansson (21-6) in December, however he ended up injured and the promotion moved to Kevin Holland (21-5).

However, Holland ended up testing positive for COVID and he was pulled from that fight. That is when Marvin Vettori stepped into the picture. Vettori had another fight booked, but stepped up for the UFC and took that fight against Hermansson.

UFC’s Middleweight Division

Marvin Vettori looked sensational in December when he fought Hermansson. In his first UFC headliner, Vettori dropped and hurt Hermansson early on. He went on to dominate the fight for all five rounds.

The win was a massive statement and the fourth straight for Vettori. Vettori now finds himself fourth in the UFC’s middleweight rankings one spot behind Darren Till. However, Vettori has expressed frustrations with being ranked behind Till.

Nevertheless, now the two will get a chance to prove who is the better fighter. As mentioned, this is a huge seven day stretch for the middleweight division. Let us not forget that Kevin Holland and Derek Brunson (21-7) are also headlining a Fight Night on March 20th. 

This stretch from March through April has big implications for the middleweight division. Israel Adesanya (20-0) is moving up to challenge for the light heavyweight title, however, upon his return to middleweight, there should be a lot of clarity with all these matchups.

Should Robert Whittaker be upset with the UFC?

There is not really any doubt as to who is the number one contender in the UFC‘s middleweight division. The top contender in the division is the former champion, Robert Whittaker (22-5).

Whittaker lost the title to Israel Adesanya (20-0) at UFC 243 in 2019. However, outside of that fight against Adesanya, Whittaker has been perfect in the middleweight division. There’s been nobody who’s been able to defeat him.

Recently, it was announced that the UFC is having Adesanya move up to face Jan Blachowicz (27-8) at UFC 259. Adesanya will be attempting to become a two-division champion by capturing the light heavyweight championship.

The fighter that’s left in limbo in this situation is Robert Whittaker. There is nobody in the middleweight division that is more deserving of a shot at Adesanya than Whittaker. However, the promotion doesn’t believe that he’s ready for a shot at the title.

After UFC 254, Dana White said that Whittaker would be next for Adesanya. The promotion wanted to turn the fight around quick, but with a baby on the way, Whittaker wanted to spend the holidays with his family. That’s when the promotion changed their tune.

Should Whittaker be upset with the UFC?

Dana White said recently that Whittaker needs to fight someone else before he gets his next UFC title shot. In my opinion, this should be incredibly frustrating for the former middleweight champion.

Whittaker’s only loss at middleweight was to Adesanya. Outside of that, he’s been unbeaten since 2014. Darren Till (18-3-1) and Jared Cannonier (13-5) were both guaranteed title shots if they beat Whittaker in 2020.

However, Whittaker beat both of those contenders. It’s puzzling that the logic from the promotion is that Whittaker needs another win, however, I know that they’ll say it’s because he turned down their timeline for the middleweight title shot.

Yet, Jan Blachowicz had the same issue as Whittaker. Blachowicz just had a baby with his wife before resuming training for their fight in March. I have a strong feeling that Whittaker could have made that timeline work.

Ultimately, I believe the UFC and Adesanya were only interested in the Whittaker fight if it was able to happen quickly. The plan has been for them to move Adesanya up to light heavyweight to further his star power.

However, it’s not fair to the former champion. People have had title shots for much less and champions who have lost have gotten immediate title shots with less of a championship resume. I absolutely believe that Whittaker should be frustrated.

State of the UFC’s middleweight division entering 2021

Last night, we learned that the UFC‘s middleweight champion is officially moving up in weight for his next fight. Israel Adesanya (20-0) is moving up to light heavyweight to fight Jan Blachowicz (27-8) for the light heavyweight title at UFC 259. 

Adesanya is trying to become just the fifth fighter in the promotion’s history to hold two belts at the same time. There have been a lot of questions surrounding Adesanya’s future at 185 with him moving up.

The UFC middleweight champion has been very vocal about his desire to potentially fight Jon Jones (26-1, 1 NC) in 2021. If the UFC makes that fight should Adesanya win the light heavyweight title, the middleweight strap would be on ice.

However, Adesanya has said that he will definitely return to the UFC’s middleweight division no matter what. He stated that 185 is his natural weight class and where he feels the best. This move is to just challenge himself and further his legacy.

In all honesty, the move is actually a good thing for the middleweight division. There are great fights inside the division, however, Adesanya has defeated most of the fighters that sit inside the top ten.

UFC’s middleweight division in 2021

The top contender in the middleweight division is former UFC champion, Robert Whittaker (22-5). Whittaker went on an incredible run to grab the middleweight title, but was easily defeated by Adesanya last October.

Since then, Whittaker took out two of the more compelling contenders in the division. He defeated Darren Till (18-3-1) and Jared Cannonier (13-5) by decision. Both of those fighters were guys Adesanya was interested in fighting.

However, Whittaker turned them away. With the way Adesanya defeated Whittaker last year, the champion isn’t motivated for the rematch at this time. The word is that the UFC is looking to book Whittaker against former title challenger, Paulo Costa (13-1).

Costa was just knocked out by Adesanya at UFC 253. Prior to that, many thought he was the most dangerous contender in the division. There is preliminary talk about that fight being for an interim title, but that’s far from confirmed.

The two fighters I have my eyes on entering 2021 is Marvin Vettori (16-4-1) and Kevin Holland (21-5). Vettori has busted through in 2021 on the heels of four straight wins to fifth in the middleweight rankings.

The Italian middleweight has already lost to Adesanya, but he lost by split decision. One big win for Vettori in 2021 could make him next in line. Kevin Holland was our breakout fighter of the year in 2020.

Holland has become a star after going 5-0 this year. The entertaining middleweight gets his first main event opportunity against Derek Brunson (21-7) in March. Should he win that, he could be just a win away from a title shot.

If Holland can get a couple of wins, he’s probably the most compelling UFC challenger at 185 for Adesanya. There’s a little beef there already, and the fight’s buildup would be a lot of fun. Should be an interesting year at middleweight.

What’s next for Jack Hermansson after UFC Vegas 16?

This past weekend at UFC Vegas 16, Jack Hermansson (21-6) took on Marvin Vettori (16-4-1) in the main event. Vettori was the third scheduled opponent for Hermansson for the headlining fight.

Originally, Hermansson was set to take on Darren Till. Then he was supposed to face Kevin Holland. However, both of those fights fell through which is how Marvin Vettori got the main event shot against The Joker.

I really thought that Hermansson’s grappling was going to be the difference at UFC Vegas 16. However, I was wrong and underestimated the defensive skills of Marvin Vettori. Hermansson was never able to get Vettori to the ground for any significant portion of time.

The fight remained on the feet for the majority of the time. While Hermansson had moments here and there, the standup was clearly controlled by Marvin Vettori. Vettori even dropped and almost finished Hermansson in the first round.

In the end, the judges gave four of the five rounds to Marvin Vettori. Hermansson suffered his second loss in his last three fights at UFC Vegas 16. With that in mind, what’s next for The Joker after his loss on Saturday night.

What’s next after UFC Vegas 16?

When you take a look at the UFC‘s middleweight rankings, there are a few options for Hermansson. One of the clearest options is taking on the winner of the rematch between Chris Weidman and Uriah Hall.

Those two men are scheduled to fight in February. Weidman and Hall are on the backside of the top ten in the UFC‘s middleweight division. A win for either man would vault them closer to the top five where a guy like Hermansson could be waiting.

Another option for Hermansson could be Darren Till. As mentioned above, Till was originally set to be Hermansson’s opponent before a knee injury derailed the fight. Both men are coming off losses so a fight between the two could make sense.

Jack Hermansson was going to fight at UFC Vegas 16 no matter who the opponent was

It’s been a wild journey for Jack Hermansson (21-5) leading up to the UFC Vegas 16 main event. The promotion’s fourth ranked middleweight is getting his third headlining fight, but he’s had to stay on his toes on who he’d be facing.

Originally, the UFC announced that Hermansson would be taking on Darren Till at UFC Vegas 16. These two men had some fun back and forth over social media and it was a fight that the fans were really excited for.

However, Darren Till sustained an injury and he was forced to pull out of the fight. The UFC went to work and decided to have Hermansson fight Kevin Holland. Holland has made a strong case for fighter of the year going 4-0 in 2020 thus far.

Kevin Holland was nicknamed loudmouth by Dana White because he simply doesn’t stop talking in the cage. Holland was getting the biggest opportunity of his career headlining against a top UFC middleweight like Hermansson.

Hermansson had no issues taking the fight against Holland. Then, last week, Holland tested positive for COVID-19 and he was forced out of the UFC Vegas 16 main event. That is when the promotion turned to Marvin Vettori (15-4-1).

Vettori was scheduled to take on Jacare Souza at UFC 256, but the promotion wanted him to move up. Once again, Hermansson didn’t care about who the replacement was. Without even thinking about it, Hermansson accepted the fight. 

It’s just about a UFC fight for Hermansson

There has been so many cases in the history of the UFC where a fight gets scrapped altogether if one person falls out. Sometimes the UFC can’t find a replacement opponent and other times the main event fighter doesn’t want to fight the replacement.

Hermansson is not one of those guys. He appeared on Ariel Helwani’s MMA show today to talk about the wild ride leading up to this weekend. Helwani asked Hermansson about the opponent changes and if he ever thought of saying no.

“It didn’t matter who it was, you know? As long as I have a fight, I’m all good. I’m here in Vegas to fight and they can put anyone in front of me now,” Hermansson told Helwani.

If you weren’t a fan of Hermansson before, how could you not love the guy after an answer like that. One of the best middleweights in the UFC and he doesn’t care about who the opponent is, he just wants to fight.

Marvin Vettori is no joke and this fight is not expected to be an easy one for Hermansson. However, as he said, he doesn’t care about who the opponent is or how hard the fight will be. For Jack Hermansson, it’s just about getting in there and fighting on Saturday night.

UFC: Darren Till out; Kevin Holland steps in to face Jack Hermansson

Kevin Holland

One of the more popular fighters in the UFC‘s middleweight division is out of his main event next month. Per ESPN’s Brett Okamoto, Darren Till has been forced to withdrawal from his December 5th main event against top contender Jack Hermansson.

The fight was proving to be a pivotal fight in the fluid middleweight division. However, an injury has derailed the fight. Jack Hermansson really wanted to get another fight in before the year ended. He wanted the UFC to find him a ranked opponent after Till fell out.

However, all ranked opponents that the UFC offered the fight to, turned it down. That’s when the UFC turned to Kevin Holland. The brash middleweight has competed and won four fights since the month of May.

Holland is riding high right now and has even had some back and forth with current UFC champion, Israel Adesanya. This was an opportunity that Holland simply couldn’t pass up when the UFC called. Despite not having a ranking, Holland was willing to fight, and that’s what mattered to Hermansson.

UFC’s New Main Event

Talk about a golden opportunity for Kevin Holland. The UFC loves guys who have the attitude that they will fight anyone at anytime. That is exactly how Holland has acted in the year 2020. If he’s able to win next month, it would be his fifth win since May.

Holland has been knocking on the door of the top 15, but he hasn’t cracked the rankings just yet. He know will be jumping into the deep end of the pool when he takes on the UFC‘s fourth ranked contender in the middleweight division.

This is quite the gamble for Hermansson. Hermansson is coming off of a quick and dominant win against Kelvin Gastelum back on Fight Island. The Till fight was huge for Hermansson, but it’s obvious that the main thing Hermansson wanted to do is stay active.

It’s a very risky move to take on a hot fighter who’s not currently ranked. Hermansson really doesn’t gain a ton from winning the fight, however, he can lose a lot if Holland pulls off the upset. Should make for a very interesting contest.

UFC: Robbie Lawler – Mike Perry fight is off

Robbie Lawler

One of the more exciting bouts on the UFC 255 card is off. Per the official Twitter account of Mike Perry (14-6), Robbie Lawler (28-15, 1 NC) has pulled out of their fight with an undisclosed injury. This report was then confirmed by MMA Fighting.

This was expected to be a fun fight for UFC fans. Lawler has long been a fan favorite and Mike Perry is one to always bring the fight. The former UFC welterweight champion was looking to snap his current four fight losing streak.

While Perry on the other hand was looking to win his second fight in a row this year. A win over Lawler would have been the biggest win in the career of Platinum. There is no word yet on how long Lawler will be out due to his injury.

Mike Perry has made it known that he would still like to fight on the November card. He called out Khamzat Chimaev for a fight at UFC 255. Chimaev of course was just booked to headline a fight night against Leon Edwards on December 19th. 

The UFC’s Options

In addition to Chimaev, Perry also called out Darren Till who is scheduled to face Jack Hermansson on December 5th. It’s clear that Perry is itching to get back into the UFC with all of the negative press going on around him.

I think that the UFC will look at potential opponents that make sense for Perry. Assuming that Lawler is going to be out for an extended period of time. If Lawler can bounce back quick, the UFC could always look to book the fight at a later date, perhaps in December.

However, if the promotion needs to find a new opponent, they’ll need to find one that will generate some interest. Potentially a good matchup would be with Niko Price (14-4-1, 1 NC). Price is an exciting fighter who is coming off of a draw against Cowboy Cerrone.

Not sure what the UFC is going to do with Perry, but Price could be an option. I would again advise that the promotion looks for someone who would make a fun fight with Perry to keep the energy level the same for his spot on the card.

Leon Edwards wants to welcome Nick Diaz back to the UFC

Leon Edwards

You had to imagine that as soon as Nick Diaz (26-9, 2 NC) announced that he was coming back to the UFC, the callouts would start. Today has already seen a couple of high level fighters call out the Stockton native. The first callout came from Darren Till.

After the callout from Till, one of the best welterweights in the world called out Diaz. Leon “Rocky” Edwards (18-3) is struggling to find himself an opponent in the UFC‘s welterweight division. He sees Diaz as the perfect opponent.

Would the UFC make it happen?

Edwards is currently ranked third in the welterweight division, and he’s on an eight fight winning streak. Despite his credentials, the UFC is having a difficult time getting Leon Edwards a fight. With all the top contenders booked, he’s been left on the sidelines.

A fight with Diaz could make sense for both parties. For Edwards, it would be a massive fight that could gain in more popularity in the UFC. Edwards desperately needs a sexy fight that would get the fans more invested in him. A fight with Nick Diaz should do the trick.

For Nick Diaz, a fight with Edwards would be a great way to get right back into the mix. If Diaz could come in and defeat Leon Edwards in his first UFC fight back, it would tell everyone that Nick Diaz is ready to battle for the title. However, I’m not sure the UFC will make this fight right away.

It will all come down to what the UFC wants to do with Diaz. If they want to slowly work him back in, I would expect a lower ranked opponent. However, if they want to fast-track him, a fight with Edwards would make perfect sense.

 

 

UFC: Darren Till and Jack Hermansson to headline Fight Night

UFC news is coming quick on this Friday afternoon. ESPN’s Brett Okamoto is reporting that the promotion is finalizing a middleweight contest between Darren Till (18-3-1) and Jack Hermansson (21-5) for a Fight Night on December 5th.

Darren Till took to Instagram to confirm the news that he would be headlining the December 5th UFC card against Hermansson.

Two top six UFC middleweights go to war

Darren Till is coming off of a razor close decision loss to Robert Whittaker back at UFC Fight Island 3. The fight was back and forth with Till tearing his MCL in the fight. Till came up just short against the former champion.

It was just the second fight for Till in the UFC‘s middleweight division after he had spent his career at welterweight. Till fought and defeated Kevlin Gastelum by split decision back at UFC 244 in his divisional debut.

Speaking of Kelvin Gastelum, he was just defeated by the man who will take on Till on December. Jack Hermansson just ran through Gastelum at UFC Fight Island 2. The Joker caught Gastelum in a heel hook less than 90 seconds into the fight.

In the last two years, Hermansson is 5-1 with his only loss coming to Jared Cannonier back at UFC Fight Night 160. Had Hermansson won that fight, he might have found himself next in line for a UFC title shot.

Instead, The Joker took on Gastelum on Fight Island. After making quick work of Gastelum, he turned his sites to Darren Till. Hermansson wanted this fight, and he’s getting this fight. The winner takes another step towards UFC gold. This should be a good one in December.

Darren Till tore his MCL at UFC Fight Island 3

Top UFC middleweight Darren Till suffered a tear of his MCL in his fight with Robert Whittaker last weekend at UFC Fight Island 3.

During the middle rounds, Till could be heard telling his corner that his knee was gone. He told his corner that he had no bounce. Till said in the post-fight press conference that he believe he tore his ACL.

Till’s head coach told ESPN today that The Gorilla tore his MCL. “Torn MCL, doctors are amazed he was able to stand up for the last three rounds. . . He is in a cast for six weeks then we’ll reassess, hopefully it will start to knit while immobilized,” Till’s coach said.

What’s next for the UFC’s Till?

The fight at UFC Fight Island 3 was razor close with Whittaker. It’s pretty astonishing how well Till fought considering he couldn’t really plant much on that knee.

Till fought fantastic and I actually scored the fight for Till including giving him the final two rounds. Even in a loss, Till proved that he is one of the very best in the UFC‘s middleweight division.

Obviously it’s going to take some time for Till to heal. We don’t have an exact timeline on when he’s coming back. Once he returns, there are a couple of options that I have in mind for his next contest.

One option is he could fight the winner of Edmen Shahbazyan and Derek Brunson who fight this weekend. Another option is he could fight the winner of the Yoel Romero – Uriah Hall matchup that takes place later in August.

If those are not options for the UFC another great option would be fighting the loser of the Adesanya – Costa title fight in September. No matter what, Till needs a top level opponent whenever he’s healthy and ready to go. Who do you think the Gorilla should fight next?