UFC books Uriah Hall – Sean Strickland

The UFC has finalized a fun middleweight matchup for their August PPV. ESPN’s Brett Okamoto was the first to report today that the promotion had finalized a matchup between Uriah “Primetime” Hall (17-9) and Sean Strickland (23-3).

The matchup between top fifteen contenders will take place at UFC 265 on August 7th. For Sean Strickland, he’s going to be searching for his fifth consecutive victory inside the octagon.

Strickland made his UFC debut back in 2014 and originally fought at welterweight. In fact, one of his three losses in his career came against the current UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman.

However, Strickland has looked like a different fighter since moving up to 185 pounds. He’s won three straight at 185 and his performances have led to the UFC giving him this shot against Hall in August. If Strickland can pull off a victory in August, he will jump into the top ten and be inching his way closer to the top.

UFC 265: Can Uriah Hall reach his potential?

When Uriah Hall was on the Ultimate Fighter, everyone believed that he would be a future UFC champion. The guy had the skill and the talent. Hall seemed like the total package. However, he just couldn’t quite put everything together.

Every time he would get close to the top, he would stumble. However, he now appears to be coming into his own and he’s currently riding the biggest winning streak of his UFC career at four straight.

The last time we saw Hall was at UFC 261. Hall became the first man to win by TKO without having landed a single strike. Chris Weidman of course threw a brutal leg kick that was checked perfectly by Hall. Weidman’s leg snapped and Hall got the victory.

That win comes on the heels of Hall’s TKO win over Anderson Silva. While he’s ranked higher than Strickland, this is going to be a very tough test for Hall. If he wins, he might just be another win away from a UFC title shot.

UFC 262 Preview: Tony Ferguson – Beneil Dariush

Tony Ferguson, UFC

Tomorrow night in the co-main event of UFC 262, Tony Ferguson (25-5) meets Beneil Dariush (20-4-1) in a pivotal matchup in the lightweight division. El Cucuy is looking to snap a two-fight losing streak while Dariush looks to get closer to the UFC‘s top five.

From 2013 to 2019, Tony Ferguson was perfect inside the octagon. El Cucuy was a perfect 12-0 and even captured the interim UFC lightweight title during his run. Ferguson fought and defeated a who’s who of the lightweight division.

Some of the wins on his resume include Edson Barboza, Rafael Dos Anjos, Kevin Lee, Anthony Pettis, and Donald Cerrone. Despite all of these wins and an interim title stint, Ferguson never got his shot at the undisputed UFC lightweight title.

Ferguson was paired with Khabib Nurmagomedov several times, but the fight always fell through. Most recently at UFC 249. Ferguson was supposed to get his shot, but instead, he faced Justin Gaethje for the interim title. Gaethje defeated Ferguson and snapped his winning streak.

At UFC 256, Ferguson was dominated by Charles Oliveira and now El Cucuy finds himself in a difficult spot. Facing his third straight defeat and he has a hungry contender in front of him.

Beneil Dariush comes into UFC 262 having won six fights in a row. His last victory was a split decision over Diego Ferrier back in February. This is the biggest fight of his career and a win of Ferguson would prove that he belongs amongst the lightweight elite.

UFC 262 Prediction

When Tony Ferguson fought Charles Oliveira, he was completely dominated on the ground. At UFC 256, Oliveira took Ferguson down at will and El Cucuy really couldn’t do anything to get up.

That is really concerning when considering this matchup. Dariush fights with a ton of forward pressure and his grappling is very good. If he can ground Ferguson tomorrow night, he might be able to ride out a decision victory.

On the feet, you’d have to give the advantage to Ferguson. Ferguson has been training at Wild Card and he’s really been working on his hands. Dariush has really solid power, but the fluidity of the striking is in favor of El Cucuy.

If you were to ask me who would win this fight a year ago, I would’ve probably laughed. No disrespect to Beneil Dariush, but I considered Ferguson to be the second best lightweight on the planet.

However, I don’t know what were going to get from him at UFC 262. I do know what were getting from Beneil Dariush. We are getting a hungry fighter who has the grappling ability to neutralize Tony Ferguson. If we get classic El Cucuy, I’d pick Ferguson, but the unknown has me leaning towards Dariush.

Prediction: Beneil Dariush by Split Decision

UFC 262 Preview: Michael Chandler – Charles Oliveira

Tomorrow night in the headliner of UFC 262, the vacant lightweight title is on the line. Former Bellator lightweight champion Michael Chandler (22-5) is seeking to add a second world title to his resume against Charles “Do Bronx” Oliveira (30-8, 1 NC).

In 2020, the biggest free agent in MMA was Michael Chandler. Chandler finished out his Bellator career with a first round knockout over former UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson. After the win, the bidding war started.

Ultimately, Chandler signed with the UFC because he wanted to show he’s the best in the world. At UFC 257, Chandler made his debut against Dan Hooker. After closing as a betting underdog, Chandler knocked out Dan Hooker in the first round.

The performance earned him a spot in the main event tomorrow night. Standing across the cage from him is the hottest lightweight in the UFC. Charles Oliveira will walk into the fight tomorrow night carrying an eight-fight win streak.

For Oliveira, his issue was never his talent. Oliveira always had the talent to be a UFC champion, but he just never put everything together. In December of 2017, Paul Felder stopped Oliveira at UFC 218.

After that fight, something changed in Oliveira. He turned into a different fighter and the winning streak started. The highlights of the win streak include victories over Kevin Lee and Tony Ferguson. Do Bronx is looking to add Michael Chandler and a UFC title to that winning streak tomorrow night.

UFC 262 Prediction

This is such a fascinating matchup and I can really see both guys winning at UFC 262. When it comes to the totality of striking, I would have to give the technical advantage on the feet to Charles Oliveira.

However, when it comes to explosion and power on the feet, the advantage goes to Michael Chandler. Obviously, Michael Chandler is one of the best wrestlers in the lightweight division. However, Oliveira is the best jiu jitsu practitioner in the lightweight division.

Both of these men cancel each other out in ways which is why the fight at UFC 262 is so hard to predict. If this fight ends up being a war, I really like the championship experience and grit that Michael Chandler will bring.

If this fight goes to really deep waters, I like Michael Chandler. If this fight ends in a first round knockout, I also like Michael Chandler. However, my gut just tells me that Do Bronx gets it done at UFC 262. Chandler’s never been submitted, but I think that might change tomorrow night.

Prediction: Charles Oliveira by Submission (Guillotine Choke) – Round 3

PFL 4 matchups announced: Anthony Pettis looks to bounce back against Alex Martinez

PFL has announced the card for their fourth event of 2021. The Pro Fight League posted on their official Twitter page today the matchups for the next round of the lightweight and featherweight seasons.

The fourth PFL event is going to take place on June 10th. In the main event, Claressa Shields will be making her MMA debut when she takes on Brittney Elkin (3-6). Shields is the best P4P boxer in the world and she’s a former Olympic Gold Medalist.

There will obviously be a lot of hype surrounding her PFL debut. In terms of the 2021 season, a lot of eyes are going to be on Anthony “Showtime” Pettis (24-11). Pettis will be taking on Alex Martinez (8-0, 1 NC) in the co-main event of the evening.

Showtime made his PFL debut just a few weeks ago. Pettis was a big signing for the Pro Fight League and they put him up against the popular Clay Collard (19-8, 1 NC) in his first matchup.

The former UFC lightweight champion was hurt multiple times throughout the first two rounds. However, Pettis was able to rally late and almost pulled off the victory. But, in the end, Collard got the win and spoiled the PFL debut for Pettis.

PFL 4

That night, Alex Martinez defeated Loik Radzhabov by split decision. This fight against Pettis at PFL 4 is the biggest fight in Martinez’s young career. This is also a huge fight for the former world champion.

If Pettis falls to Alex Martinez, it will raise a lot of questions about what’s left in the tank. The man who defeated Pettis back at PFL 1 is ready to get back to his winning ways. Clay Collard will be taking on Joilton Lutterbach (34-9).

Lutterbach lost his first fight by split decision and he’s looking to bounce back against Collard at PFL 4. To view the full list of matchups that were announced, see the PFL tweet below.

PFL’s Kayla Harrison has her eyes set on GOAT status in the final year of her contract

MMA, PFL

Make no mistake about it, the best female fighter in PFL is Kayla Harrison (9-0). The two-time Olympic Gold Medalist in Judo is an extremely special talent and she’s completely destroyed every opponent that’s been put in front of her.

In her nine professional wins, only two of them have gone the distance. Both of those fights were against arguably the second best PFL female fighter Larissa Pacheco (14-4). Pacheco and Harrison are likely going to meet again during this PFL season.

Harrison made a statement after her last performance and she said after the fight that she’s the baddest woman in any room. She wants the world to see her as the greatest of all time once she’s done competing.

Harrison’s contract with PFL is set to expire after this season. PFL is already having a dream scenario where Harrison ultimately fights Claressa Shields, but that probably will not play itself out.

Assuming Harrison runs through the other PFL lightweights this season and captures another title, she’s going to be the hottest free agent on the market. Harrison will have the UFC and Bellator knocking at her door to take her away.

PFL, Bellator, or the UFC?

The Olympian has been vocal that she does actually believe in the PFL format with seasons and rankings. However, she does recognize that there are big fights out there outside of PFL that could cement her legacy.

Of course, the biggest show in town is the UFC which is the home of the greatest of all time in Amanda Nunes (21-4). Nunes is the UFC’s two-division champion and she’s actually a teammate of Harrison’s at American Top Team.

Dana White recently commented about the PFL champion saying, “I don’t know if she’s ready. I just don’t know if her people think she’s ready. It’s a whole other level when you get here (the UFC).”

The PFL champion fired back on Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show stating, “I think that if Dana is ready to pay me a lot of money, I’ll make him a lot of money. I’m ready to face the best in the world.”

Harrison is likely going to win her third PFL championship this year. After the year is over, The Pro Fight League, Bellator, and the UFC will all be calling. My guess is that she ultimately winds up in the UFC especially considering her ability to make 145 pounds. This will definitely be a story to follow at the end of the year.

UFC books Jeremy Stephens – Mateusz Gamrot

Jeremy Stephens

The UFC has finalized a lightweight matchup that will take place in July. MMA Junkie was the first to report today that the promotion has finalized a matchup between Jeremy Stephens (28-18, 1 NC) and Mateusz Gamrot (18-1, 1 NC).

The contest will take place at a UFC Fight Night on July 17th. Last night we also learned that Islam Makhachev – Thiago Moises will also be on the July 17th Fight Night. This fight is a big fight for Mateusz Gamrot.

The former KSW lightweight champion will be making just his third appearance in the UFC. Gamrot made his debut back in October and the Polish lightweight suffered his first career loss. He lost by split decision to Guram Kutateladze on Fight Island.

Gamrot bounced back in April when he knocked out Scott Holtzman in the second round of their fight. Jeremy Stephens still has a big name and a decent following so this is a huge spot for the UFC newcomer. A win over Stephens would likely get him someone in the top fifteen.

UFC return for Lil Heathen

Jeremy Stephens will be making his lightweight return on July 17th. However, he was supposed to make his lightweight return last month. Stephens was set to take on Drakkar Klose (11-2-1) just a few weeks ago.

Both men weighed in, but everything went south at the pre-fight faceoffs. Stephens shoved Klose and he shoved him so hard that there was whiplash which caused Klose to suffer a concussion.

After a rough night dealing with those symptoms, the UFC called off the fight. It was an extremely stupid move by Stephens and ended up costing him a payday. Now, he’s getting a new opponent.

Originally, the promotion was going to book Klose and Stephens again, but have decided to move in a different direction. Now, Stephens will try to snap his four-fight losing streak against a very hungry challenger in Mateusz Gamrot. Should be a good one on July 17th.

UFC books Islam Makhachev – Thiago Moises

The UFC has finalized a big matchup in the lightweight division pitting two top prospects against each other. Brazil’s Thiago Moises (15-4) will try to stop the hype train of Islam Makhachev (19-1).

ESPN’s Brett Okamoto confirmed the fight last night with UFC President Dana White. The matchup will take place at a UFC Fight Night on July 17th. This is a massive opportunity for Thiago Moises.

Moises is not currently ranked in the lightweight division. However, he has won his last three fights. His wins include victories over Michael Johnson, Bobby Green, and Alexander Hernandez.

While he doesn’t have a spot in the UFC rankings, these wins have him knocking on the door. His opponent is being looked at as a future UFC champion and if Moises can pull off the upset, it will say a lot about him as a prospect.

UFC return for Makhachev

Islam Makhachev just looks like he’s going to be a UFC lightweight champion. He fights very similar to his training partner turned coach Khabib Nurmagomedov. Of course, Nurmagomedov retired undefeated as the undisputed UFC lightweight champion.

Makhachev has great striking and of course he has his Dagestani wrestling. The last time we saw Makhachev was at UFC 259 when he took on Drew Dober. Makhachev completed dominated the fight and submitted Dober in the third round.

With that win, Makhachev has now won seven fights in a row. To be honest, I’m a little surprised this is the direction the promotion decided to go. I figured Makhachev would be in to fight someone in the UFC’s top ten.

In terms of rankings, this is actually a step back as Dober is still ranked in the top fifteen and Moises is not ranked. This almost has the feel of a tune-up fight just to keep Islam Makhachev active.

Whatever the UFC’s reason was, it doesn’t really matter at the end of the day. Makhachev will be back in July and he should be a massive favorite to pick up his eighth straight victory.

UFC booking headliner between Darren Till and Derek Brunson

The UFC is making moves tonight and they’ve finalized another headliner for August. Dana White told ESPN’s Brett Okamoto this evening that the promotion has finalized a middleweight headliner between Darren Till (18-3-1) and Derek Brunson (22-7).

The matchup will take place on August 14th. This is the second middleweight main event that the promotion has finalized. It was also just reported that Paulo Costa and Jared Cannonier would headline a Fight Night the following week. 

This headlining spot is huge for Derek Brunson. Brunson has been a bit of a Gate Keeper for the UFC‘s middleweight division over the last year and a half. First, Brunson was tasked with taking on Ian Heinisch when he was a surging contender.

Brunson dispatched of Heinisch. Then, the UFC had Brunson take on The Golden Boy, Edmen Shahbazyan. Shahbazyan was being looked at as the next big thing, but again, Brunson was able to stop the hype train.

Then, the UFC had Brunson take on Kevin Holland in March. Holland went a perfect 5-0 in 2020 and looked like someone the promotion was really going to push. Well, Brunson dominated the fight to win his fourth straight.

After beating top prospects, Brunson is finally getting a crack at a big name and in a big spot. Darren Till has a ton of name recognition and a win over Till puts Brunson squarely in the title picture.

UFC return for Till

Darren Till was supposed to headline a card last month with Marvin Vettori. However, shortly before fight week, Till broke his collarbone and was forced out of the fight. Kevin Holland stepped in to take his place.

We haven’t seen Till since the UFC’s first trip to Fight Island. Last July, Till fought former middleweight champion Robert Whittaker. Till was able to hurt Whittaker early in that fight, but ultimately Whittaker got the decision victory.

This main event in August will be just the third middleweight fight for Darren Till in the UFC. After struggling for years to make 170, Till moved up to 185 to start fresh. He’s gone 1-1 so far with his win coming against Kelvin Gastelum.

UFC books headliner between Paulo Costa and Jared Cannonier

The UFC has finalized a big time headliner in their middleweight division. Dana White confirmed with ESPN’s Brett Okamoto this evening that the promotion had finalized a headliner between Paulo Costa (13-1) and Jared Cannonier (13-5).

The matchup will headline a UFC Fight Night on August 21st. Both of these men are looking to bounce back after losses in their last time out. Cannonier took on Robert Whittaker at UFC 254 on Fight Island.

Entering that matchup, Cannonier was 3-0 at middleweight with three TKO victories. The Killa Gorilla looked like he was going to be the next challenger for the champion, Israel Adesanya.

However, to get a title shot, Cannonier had to defeat the former champion in Whittaker. While Cannonier was able to hurt Whittaker a little in the third round, the fight was all Robert Whittaker.

Whittaker won a decision and Cannonier suffered his first loss at 185. However, there is no shame in losing to Robert Whittaker and that’s why Cannonier’s stock didn’t fall much. Now, the UFC is giving him the opportunity to get right back in the title picture with this headlining spot.

UFC redemption for Costa

A month prior to Cannonier’s matchup against Whittaker, Paulo Costa got his shot at the middleweight title. In the main event of UFC 253 on Fight Island, the undefeated Costa took on Israel Adesanya.

Costa’s blistering style and power was expected to challenge Stylebender. However, Costa put on a horrific performance and Adesanya stopped him in the second round. If I remember correctly, I don’t think Costa landed a single significant shot with his hands.

After the fight, Costa came forward with some odd excuses like the fact that he drank until he blacked out the night before his fight. However, most don’t believe some of the stories that he’s told.

Nevertheless, UFC 253 was an embarrassment for Costa. Costa was supposed to fight Robert Whittaker last month, but he had to pull out after getting sick. Now, the promotion is putting him in there with another top contender in Cannonier. Whoever wins this matchup should be on the short list for title challengers in early 2022.

UFC booking Thiago Santos – Johnny Walker

The UFC is in the process of finalizing a fun light heavyweight matchup between top ten contenders. Combate was the first to report that the promotion was close to finalizing a matchup between Thiago Santos (21-9) and Johnny Walker (18-5).

The matchup will take place at a UFC Fight Night on September 25th. This is a massive opportunity for Johnny Walker who is currently ranked tenth in the division. Walker was supposed to fight Jimmy Crute back in March.

However, Walker had to pull out of the fight and Crute went on to fight Anthony Smith. I figured the UFC would give Walker someone like Crute upon his return, but that’s not what’s happening. Walker is getting a shot at a former title challenger and top five contender.

In March of 2019, Johnny Walker knocked out Misha Cirkunov in seconds. That knockout had him 3-0 in the UFC with three quick first round knockouts. The promotion moved Walker up the ladder fast and had him face Corey Anderson at UFC 244.

Walker had hurt his shoulder celebrating the Cirkunov win and this was his return fight. Anderson knocked him out in the first round. Then, Walker lost to Nikita Krylov by decision. Walker did get a win over Ryan Spann in September which got him back on track.

This matchup on September 25th is huge for Walker. If he can pick up an impressive victory over Santos, he might only be a win or two away from a UFC title shot.

UFC crossroads for Marreta

It seems just like yesterday that Thiago “Marreta” Santos was challenging Jon Jones at UFC 239. Santos destroyed his knee in the opening rounds, but still fought the all time great to a split decision.

Santos returned after a lengthy layoff to fight Glover Teixeira last fall. He had his moments in the fight, but Santos ultimately gassed out and was submitted by Glover Teixeira.

At UFC 259, Santos fought Aleksandar Rakic and seemed extremely gun shy. He lost a decision and now he’s lost three in a row. Fighting Johnny Walker is a step back for Marreta, but it’s a needed one. This is a big fight for both of these men but in very different ways. It should be a fantastic matchup with so much on the line.