UFC will allow a limited number of fans on upcoming trip to Fight Island

The UFC will have live fans in the stands for their first cards of 2021. After shutting out fans since March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the promotion will open their doors to a limited number of fans on Fight Island.

The UFC has an upcoming three-card run on Fight Island which concludes with UFC 257 headlined by Conor McGregor (22-4). MMA Junkie was the first to report the news that fans are officially back for the promotion.

The UFC had been hosting their events at the Flash Forum on Fight Island. However, with the addition of fans, the promotion will be hosting their next three events at the Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi.

At this point, there is no word on how many fans will be allowed in attendance. This news does break away from the initial statements from Dana White. White previously said he wouldn’t host events with partial crowds. 

White has been very firm that it would be all or nothing for the UFC. Either they would sell out an event or there would be no fans at all. However, he did say that he was hoping to have an International Fight Week with fans for the upcoming Fight Island Trip.

The UFC welcomes back fans

As of now, there is no information on if the promotion will try to host International Fight Week for the UFC’s first week back. It appears they are just opening up their doors to allow a limited number of fans to enjoy the live action.

I do find this all a little convenient when it comes to Conor McGregor. One of the biggest gripes with the promotion’s handling of Conor McGregor last year had to do with live gates.

The UFC held McGregor out waiting for fans to be able to return. However, McGregor just wanted to compete and his frustration led to his brief retirement. As the biggest star in the sport, McGregor pulls in a hefty live gate whenever he fights and the UFC didn’t want to lose that revenue.

Obviously this decision isn’t completely tied to McGregor seeing as they are not selling the arena out. I just find it a little convenient that he will headline the first PPV that will have fans in the stands. It’s very fitting for the promotion.

On a more important note, this is a great thing for the UFC. It’s a very positive step in the right direction to have at least some sort of fan interaction for fights. While the fighters have delivered over the last year, you do miss the energy that a live crowd brings.

While it’s on a very small scale, it will be nice to hear fans in the crowd again for this run on Fight Island. I wouldn’t be shocked if the UFC’s first full capacity event in 2021 also comes at Fight Island.

UFC has a new target date for Chimaev – Edwards per Dana White

The UFC currently has a new date targeted for the highly anticipated matchup between Khamzat Chimaev (9-0) and Leon Edwards (18-3). Dana White told TSN’s Aaron Bronsteter that the promotion is targeting Wednesday, January 20th on Fight Island.

This is absolutely huge for UFC fans. Dana White has been saying that he was hoping for an international fight week on Fight Island. If this fight comes together, the UFC is in for one helluva stretch to kickoff the new year.

The first card of 2021 is headlined by Max Holloway – Calvin Kattar on January 16th. The UFC‘s plan is to have Chimaev – Edwards be the mid-week fight that transitions to UFC 257. Of course, that card is headlined by Conor McGregor – Dustin Poirier.

If this comes together, that might be the best seven day fight period in the history of the UFC. They had a week like this back in July, but I don’t know if it would beat this one considering the star power on these cards.

Originally, Edwards and Chimaev were set to headline UFC Vegas 17 next Saturday night. However, Edwards came down with COVID-19 and was forced to pull out of the fight. The promotion has stayed with keeping this fight together as opposed to rebooking Chimaev.

UFC’s 2021 Start

As mentioned, if this fight gets finalized, the UFC couldn’t start out better in 2021. They are currently targeting to have fans be able to attend these events, however, nothing is finalized at the moment.

Edwards and Chimaev is a massive fight for the UFC‘s welterweight division. If Edwards wins, he would have won nine fights in a row and would clearly be the top contender in the welterweight division.

However, if Chimaev wins, he will solidify himself as the UFC‘s next star. Chimaev came out of no where in 2020 and he currently has more hype behind him than we’ve seen in a very long time.

This fight is not finalized and a lot will come down to the condition of Leon Edwards. However, if all goes as planned, it should be a very fun start to 2021 for fight fans.

UFC: Michael Chiesa says fighting Khamzat Chimaev is not smart business

One of the top welterweights in the UFC is currently making his way back from injury. Michael Chiesa (17-4) hasn’t fought since January when he defeated Rafael Dos Anjos by unanimous decision. The third straight UFC victory for Chiesa.

Chiesa is currently ranked eighth in the UFC‘s welterweight division. He’s currently working his way back from injury with aspirations to fight in either December or January. Today at the UFC Fight Island 5 media scrum, Chiesa fielded questions from reporters.

Of course, one of the questions that came through was around the UFC‘s newest sensation, Khamzat Chimaev (9-0). Chimaev is currently scheduled to headline a fight night in either November or December, but the UFC still doesn’t have an opponent for him yet.

Chiesa was asked about the standstills that are going on in his division. He said that he couldn’t blame guys for not wanting to fight Chimaev. When asked if he would potentially take the fight if the UFC offered, Chiesa implied that the fight didn’t make a ton of sense.

The UFC’s Tough Situation

“You have to think about it like this. If he beats a guy, hypothetically, let’s say he beats Wonderboy. Now it’s lucrative. Hell yeah, now he’s proven he’s the real thing. However, if I lay it on the line and he beats me, he takes my spot. I beat him and they’d say he’s a flash in the pan,” Chiesa told reporters.

I have to say that the UFC veteran does have a point. Despite all the hype, Chimaev still doesn’t have a number next to his names. He’s still on the outside looking in when it comes to the UFC‘s rankings. That’s why no ranked fighter wants the fight.

As Chiesa said, if Chimaev defeats any top ten guy, he takes their spot. However, if the top contender wins, nothing changes for them besides getting a paycheck. That is where the UFC‘s problem is when it comes to Chimaev.

They want to rush Chimaev up the mountain, but top ranked fighters realize the danger in fighting him. They also realize they have way more to lose, they gain nothing from it. I think the UFC is going to have their hands full getting Chimaev a fight.

Carlos Condit gets back in the win column at UFC Fight Island 4

Carlos Condit

In the featured prelim of tonight’s UFC Fight Island 4 card, Carlos Condit (31-13) took on former ultimate fighter winner, Court McGee (19-10). For Condit, he entered the octagon trying to snap a five fight losing streak that dated back to UFC 195 in 2016.

In the first round of the fight, Condit looked to be a little tentative. Court McGee was doing a good job early on of getting off first. However, Condit really started to find his range in the final minute of the first round of the fight.

Then, in the final seconds of the first, Condit broke McGee’s nose with a shot that put the former ultimate fighter winner on the canvas. Condit would assume control for the majority of the featured prelim after that moment.

While McGee did have his moments here and there, the former interim UFC welterweight champion was doing the majority of the damage. In the end, all three judges gave every round to The Natural Born killer which snapped his five fight losing streak.

What’s next after UFC Fight Island 4?

This was the first UFC win for Condit since May of 2015. It had been more than five years since Condit had his hand raised inside the octagon. You could tell in the post-fight interview that Condit was relieved more than anything else.

At 36 years old, there is still gas left in the tank for Condit. Recently, he said he would be interested in the UFC booking a rematch between him and Nick Diaz. Condit won their fight back at UFC 143, but it was a questionable decision in the eyes of many.

I personally wouldn’t mind the UFC booking him up against Robbie Lawler for a rematch. Their fight at UFC 195 was a classic, and many believed that Condit should have walked out of the cage with the undisputed UFC welterweight title.

Lawler is currently scheduled to fight Mike Perry, but after that, I would be all for running that one back. There are still some fun fights for Condit inside the UFC. I was just happy to see him get back in the win column Saturday night.

UFC Fight Island 4 Preview: Does Holly Holm have one more title run in her?

Tomorrow night, the UFC returns for their fourth fight night card on Fight Island. In the main event of the evening, we have a women’s bantamweight contest between former champion Holly Holm (13-5) and Irene Aldana (12-5).

Holm just turned 38 years old a couple of months ago, but the former UFC champion wants to capture gold one more time before she hangs it up. Saying this week at the media day that she wants to retire as UFC champion.

Irene Aldana is looking for the biggest win of her UFC career tomorrow night. Aldana is coming off of a huge knockout of Ketlen Vieira back in December last year at UFC 245. A win over Holm could give Aldana a shot Amanda Nunes.

Holm vs Aldana Prediction

This is a very intriguing matchup on paper for the UFC. Aldana has really crisp boxing skills which could give her some big moments on the feet. However, she’s going up against an elite striker who’s a former world champion in boxing.

Despite her credentials, Holm has been more of a point fighter in her UFC career. She has two highlight reel headkick knockouts, but outside of that, it’s usually not the most entertaining fight when Holm is in the cage.

She didn’t impress anyone back at UFC 246 in her rematch with Raquel Pennington. Holm used a lot of grappling and clinching to point her way to a decision. Even when she’s striking, she uses kicks to score points and keep range versus doing serious damage.

Aldana has very good pop in her hands. She can crack with the best of them at 135 pounds. Her knockout of Vieira is truly something special to watch as she used a jumping left hook to floor the previously unbeaten Brazilian.

Aldana is a very intriguing fighter in the division considering she’s won of the few that hasn’t fought Amanda Nunes yet. She’s 5-1 in her last six fights with the lone loss being a very close split decision loss to Raquel Pennington.

In this fight, I’m not really liking Aldana’s chances. While she certainly has the skills to get it done, I’m afraid she’s going to be out-pointed by Holm. Look for Holm to use her kicks and mix in some grappling to keep Aldana guessing and off her game.

Prediction: Holly Holm by Unanimous Decision

Rest of UFC Fight Island 4

There are some pretty decent fights on the UFC Fight Island 4 card. It’s not the sexiest card in the world, but there are some interesting fights. One of the earlier fights in the evening features the return of Carlos Condit (30-13) taking on Court McGee (19-9).

The fight I’m really looking forward to is the bantamweight contest between Germaine de Randamie (9-4) and Julianna Pena (9-3). To me this fight is better than the UFC Fight Island 4 main event. I think whoever wins the most impressively out of those two contests could be the next UFC title challenger.

What’s next for the winning fighters of UFC 253?

Last night at UFC 253, we saw two dominant performances in two title fights. The promotion’s first PPV back on Fight Island featured a fight for the vacant light heavyweight title and the undisputed middleweight crown.

Israel Adesanya (20-0) and Jan Blachowicz (27-8) put on incredible performances and walked out with UFC gold wrapped around their waists. In fights that were very even on paper, these two put forth dominant performances which left no doubt.

The main event failed to deliver a war like UFC president Dana White was hoping for, but instead we saw continued brilliance from Israel Adesanya. The co-main event saw a new king emerge in the UFC‘s light heavyweight division, and that king has some serious Polish Power.

What’s next for Israel Adesanya?

Last night, Israel Adesanya completely blew me away with his performance. I thought he was going to have a difficult time at UFC 253, but he got Paulo Costa (13-1) to play right into his hands. Adesanya finished off Costa in the second round of a one sided beating.

After the fight, Adesanya made it pretty clear who he wants in his next UFC title defense. Adesanya said that he’s looking at fighting Jared Cannonier (13-4) in his next fight. Cannonier has won all three of his fights by knockout since dropping to middleweight.

Cannonier does have his hands full as he’s fighting Robert Whittaker (21-5) next at UFC 254. Despite Adesanya’s dominant win over Whittaker back at UFC 243, a rematch would be a massive fight especially if Whittaker defeats Cannonier.

Whittaker is coming off of a win against Darren Till back in July. Safe to say that the UFC is going to have Adesanya face the winner of the middleweight clash that’s scheduled for UFC 254. Or perhaps a light heavyweight showdown with Jon Jones could be in the cards.

What’s next for the UFC’s Polish Power?

What more can you say about Jan Blachowicz? Blachowicz lost to Patrick Cummins back at UFC 210 in 2017. That was the second straight loss for Blachowicz who had just turned 34 years old. His UFC career didn’t look the brightest after that fight.

However, Blachowicz went on a run after that point that nobody could have seen coming. Jan Blachowicz has won eight of his last nine fights and it all led to UFC 253. Blachowicz knocked out Dominick Reyes (12-2) in the second round to claim UFC gold.

Blachowicz spent his time calling out Jon Jones in the post fight interview. However, despite the callouts, I don’t think Blachowicz will get Jones next. I think Blachowicz is going to be taking on the winner of the Glover Teixiera – Thiago Santos fight which is booked for November.

You would have to think that the UFC and Blachowicz want to see Santos win that fight. The lone loss that Blachowicz has on his record during this stretch came to Thiago Santos. Santos knocked Blachowicz in the third round of their fight.

If Santos is able to get by Glover, it will make for a very good rematch for the Polish fighter’s first UFC title defense. Either way, fans around the world should be very happy for Jan Blachowicz.

Conor McGregor to UFC President: ‘Stop lying!’

Conor McGregor, UFC

It has been a wild couple of days involving Conor McGregor and the UFC. First, the former champion releases screenshots of a conversation between him and Dana White proving that McGregor was eager to have a busy 2020 in the UFC.

Then McGregor said he would be boxing Manny Pacquiao next. Pacquiao’s camp confirmed the talks yesterday. However, Dana White was not really pleased with McGregor when it comes to the way he tweeted all of this out. White said McGregor broke, “Man Code,” at the UFC 253 post-fight press conference.

Well, early this morning, McGregor had a rebuttal for the UFC President. In his response, McGregor pointed out that White broke code first, and he said that White is in on the Pacquiao talks. White said last night that he didn’t know anything about the boxing match.

UFC vs McGregor

Right now, we are in a classic battle of he said-he said. McGregor is right in that White originally commented that McGregor didn’t want to fight months ago. However, White clarified his comments later saying he was referring to McGregor not wanting to be a replacement.

That statement was confirmed by the former UFC champion’s screenshots. White came out last week and said that the UFC was working on something fun for McGregor in early 2021 so I find it a little hard to believe that White said that he didn’t know anything about the potential boxing match.

Ariel Helwani of ESPN reported that the UFC was in on the talks to make that happen. I believe that White was more annoyed by the entire situation and threw the response out there to focus more on UFC 253 versus what’s happening with McGregor.

It has been a frustrating year for McGregor and the UFC. McGregor wanted to be active in 2020. A fight with Justin Gaethje made sense. However, when Gaethje beat Tony Ferguson for the interim UFC lightweight title, that fight went out the window.

The promotion was targeting McGregor – Gaethje for their event in July. That would have headlined the UFC‘s first trip to Fight Island. However, Gaethje is now fighting Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 254 for the undisputed lightweight title.

I don’t think public spats over Twitter help anything. McGregor and the UFC have always had a good relationship, and I think that White and McGregor just need to talk it out. Although things look bleak at the moment, I still expect McGregor to fight in the UFC sometime next year.

UFC 253 Recap: Israel Adesanya demolishes Paulo Costa to retain title

Tonight, the UFC returned to Fight Island to kick off a five week stint. The promotion was starting things out with a fight that Dana White was labeling as the potential fight of the year. UFC 253 was headlined by the middleweight title contest between Israel Adesanya (20-0) and Paulo Costa (13-1).

Fight Island got off to another good start for the UFC. Action was great from the prelims through the main card. Let’s take a dive into the fights from the main card of UFC 253.

Israel Adesanya retains UFC title in one sided main event

In the main event of the evening, we had the highly anticipated UFC middleweight contest between Israel Adesanya and Paulo Costa. These two entered the octagon as unbeaten fighters both looking to show they were the best in the world.

As the main event of the evening got underway, Costa immediately took the center of the cage. Adesanya threw a big leg kick early that Costa waved on. Costa looked patient in the first minute of the fight as Adesanya kept landing leg kicks.

Costa landed a big leg kick of his own a minute into the fight. Adesanya was doing well early landing from the outside. Costa landed a massive body kick that Adesanya countered with a clean leg kick. A much more patient Paulo Costa in this one.

Adesanya continued to batter Costa’s lead leg. Halfway through the first, Costa waved Adesanya on with his hands down. Adesanya landed a clean jab followed by a leg kick. Costa tried to push forward with one his flurries, but Adesanya was no where to be found.

Adesanya continued to land brutal leg kicks and a big body kick. Costa smiled at everything that Adesanya would land. Both men were talking a lot to each other as the round ended. Clear first round for the champion.

As the second round started, Adesanya continued to pepper the lead leg. Costa seemed really tentative early on in the second round. Adesanya appeared to be snipping Costa every time Costa thought about coming in.

Costa landed two massive leg kicks to switch things up a minute in. Adesanya landed another big leg kick and a smooth jab behind it. Costa pushed forward but ate a leg kick and left hook from Adesanya. Adesanya went right back to work with leg kicks.

A massive headkick cut Costa and Adesanya went right back to kicking the legs. Costa wasn’t throwing his hands at all. A close quarters combination floors Costa. Adesanya follows with some big shots and it’s over. Adesanya proves that he’s the best in the world as he retains his UFC middleweight title.

Polish Power gives Blachowicz the UFC light heavyweight title

In the co-main event of the evening, Dominick Reyes (12-1) and Jan Blachowicz (26-8) went to war to determine who would be the new UFC light heavyweight champion. After Jon Jones vacated the title and left the division, the winner would be crowned the new UFC king of 205.

As the co-main event got underway, Blachowicz pushed forward with a calf kick. Reyes countered with a leg kick of his own. Both fighters were trading leg kicks early on. Reyes landed a body kick and two big lefts behind it.

Blachowicz just got out of the way of some big shots early on. Blachowicz was plotting forward and landed a big body kick. Reyes continued to look to score points from the outside. Both men appeared to be feeling the other out early on.

Blachowicz landed a couple of nice leg kicks. However, Reyes countered those with a good left hand. Reyes landed a good body kick with about two minutes left in the round. Blachowicz landed a giant left hook and he followed it with a huge body kick.

Reyes had a dark purple welt that was already forming around the ribs after some of Blachowicz’s kicks. Blachowicz was throwing with some serious power with everything early on. Close round, but I will give the first to Blachowicz with the damage.

Reyes pushed forward aggressively to start the second round. Blachowicz seemed really calm as he started pushing forward with power shots of his own. Reyes was light on his feet, but seemed really tentative after a big combination from Blachowicz.

Blachowicz came forward with another big combination which he finished with a smooth right hand. Every time Blachowicz landed, it seemed to effect Reyes. Blachowicz landed a few big hooks that seemed to stagger Reyes for a moment.

Reyes did start to pick up the pace with about two minutes left in the round. Blachowicz kept pushing forward with massive combinations that appeared to hurt Reyes. Both men started trading massive shots and a massive shot drops Reyes.

Blachowicz follows up with a few big shots and it’s over. Jan Blachowicz is the new UFC light heavyweight champion of the world. A masterful performance from Jan Blachowicz who calls out Jon Jones after the fight.

Brandon Royval subs Kara-France in a classic

The third fight of the UFC 253 main card featured a flyweight contest between Brandon Royval (12-4) and Kai Kara-France (21-9, 1 NC). After making a successful UFC debut back in May, Royval was trying to make it two in a row. Kara-France was also looking to make it two a row in the UFC following a loss to Brandon Moreno.

As the first round got underway, Royval opened with a headkick. Royval kept looking for a headkick early, but Kara-France dropped him with a right hand. Kara-France pushed forward and dropped Royval again. However, Royval dropped Kara-France coming in with a back fist.

A scramble found the two on the ground with Kara-France on top. However, Royval was able to use some submission attempts to gain top control. Kara-France was able to use another scramble to get the fight back to the feet.

Once they were back on their feet, Royval was pushing forward with headkicks and spinning attacks. Royval then dropped Kara-France with a big knee and looked for a guillotine. Kara-France was able to pop his head free and land on top. Royval used a sweep to get back to his feet.

Royval kept pushing forward and pressuring Kara-France. However, Kara-France landed a massive right hand that stopped his momentum. After stopping for a second, Royval kept pushing forward. Although Kara-France dropped Royval early, Royval takes the first round on my scorecard.

As the second round got going, Royval continued to look to strike from distance. He was really putting everything together early in the second. Kara-France looked to be weathered as Royval continued to press forward.

A gassed Kara-France shot for a takedown, but landed right into a guillotine. It’s tight and Kara-France is forced to tap. A massive victory inside the UFC for Brandon Royval.

Ketlen Vieira outpoints Sijara Eubanks

The second fight of the UFC 253 main card featured a women’s bantamweight contest between Ketlen Vieira (10-2) and Sijara Eubanks (6-5). Vieira was looking to bounce back from her first UFC loss while Eubanks was trying to win her third straight including two in the past two weeks.

As the first round started, Vieira pushed forward immediately and got into a clinch position. Eubanks did a good job of turning around Vieira and pressing her against the fence. The two separated after the brief clinch.

Eubanks did a good job of landing early especially considering the disadvantage in size. Vieira looked much slower in the standup exchanges early, and she kept looking to force a clinch. Eubanks did a good job defending and broke again with a nice uppercut.

Halfway through the round, both ladies pushed forward and exchanged big shots in the pocket. Eubanks landed a good shot over the top, but Vieira countered nicely with a straight shot. Vieira really started finding her range late in round one. She also landed a takedown late which clinches round one for Vieira.

As the second round got underway, Vieira looked to continue to work off her jab. The two fighters came close in an exchange and Vieira used the close quarters to land a trip takedown. Eubanks worked back to the fence to try and use it to get up.

However, Vieira was doing a really good job of controlling Eubanks from the top. The referee decided to stand the fighters up with about half the round remaining. Eubanks tried to push forward with big shots.

Vieira was doing a very good job of catching Eubanks with clean shots on the exit. Eubanks landed a pretty nice side kick to the body and followed that up with a solid right hand. Vieira landed a pretty good 1-2. Less action in round two, but I give the round to Vieira.

Both fighters touched gloves as the final round started. Eubanks had a sense of urgency knowing she was down two rounds. Vieira was looking to work off her jab as Eubanks was pushing forward. Eubanks pushed forward and landed a big left hook which caused Vieira to look to clinch.

A big headkick landed for Eubanks and she followed it up with a big hook. Both of these ladies were trading serious leather in the third round. Vieira continued to really land some stiff jabs. Halfway through the final round, Eubanks did a good job coming over the top with a clean 1-2.

Again, both women landed big shots in close with about two minutes left. 90 second left in the round, and Eubanks lands a big shot to the body. Eubanks was doing much better in the third round. A late scramble found Eubanks on top at the end of the round.

I gave the final round to Eubanks, but the fight goes to Vieira on my scorecard. The judges scored the fight (29-28, 29-28, 29-28) for Ketlen Vieira. Vieira gets back in the win column inside the UFC after losing her first fight back in December.

Hakeem Dawodu edges Zubaira Tukhugov

Kicking off the UFC 253 main card was a featherweight contest between Hakeem Dawodu (12-1-1) and Zubaira Tukhugov (19-5-1). Tukhugov missed weight badly for this contest coming in at 150 pounds. Dawodu was looking to make it his fifth straight UFC victory.

As the first round started, Dawodu came forward with leg kicks. Both men seemed to be feeling the other out throughout the first minute of the fight. After the initial feeling out period, Tukhugov caught Dawodu with a clean left counter.

Two minutes into the first round, the action started to pick up a bit, but both men were still tentative. Dawodu kept throwing leg kicks, but wasn’t throwing much else. Tukhugov kept pushing forward with a few 1-2s.

A ton of respect was being shown by both men, but Tukhugov was getting the better of the exchanges early. Dawodu ripped a good body shot, but Tukhugov countered with some good shots. Slower first round that I lean towards Tukhugov.

As the second round started, both men looked a little more energetic. Dawodu opened with a spinning back kick and a nice leg kick. Tukhugov came forward with a shot from the outside, but Dawodu countered with a clean 1-2 on the exit.

Dawodu was doing a much better job of opening up in the second. Tukhugov then started finding a good amount of success with a counter left hook and uppercut combo. These two seemed content with just standing and trading in relatively close quarters.

With two minutes left in the round, both men threw everything into shots at the other. Tukhugov had a nice level change which he used to try to take Dawodu down, but Dawodu defended very well.

Dawodu was doing a better job of landing clean shots as the second round went on. However, with one minute left in the round, Tukhugov landed a nice takedown. Dawodu was getting the better of the striking, but with a takedown and minute of top control, I give the second to Tukhugov.

As the final round got underway, Tukhugov’s pace seemed to have slowed down. Dawodu kept looking for leg kicks from the outside. A minute into the round, Tukhugov landed a nice left and check left hook. However, Dawodu’s leg kicks were starting to add up on Tukhugov.

Two minutes in, Tukhugov shot forward for a couple of takedowns, but couldn’t land one. Dawodu landed a flush left hook which caused Tukhugov to shoot for another takedown. Dawodu was really starting to take over in the standup.

Tukhugov worked hard for a takedown, but he couldn’t land it. Tukhugov looked tired with about a minute and a half left. Dawodu landed a big shot to the body and followed that up with pointing to ground.

Tukhugov was gassing and Dawodu was really starting to show his swagger. Dawodu was putting his hands down and screaming at Tukhugov in the final minute. Clear final round for Dawodu, but I lean Tukhugov 29-28. In the end, the judges scored the fight (30-27, 29-28, 28-29) for Dawodu. A fifth straight UFC victory for Dawodu.

UFC 253 Co-Main Preview: Who will be the new UFC light heavyweight champion?

Dominick Reyes

For the first time since 2011, the UFC will have a light heavyweight champion not named Jon Jones or Daniel Cormier. Dominick Reyes (12-1) and Jan Blachowicz (26-8) will battle tomorrow night for the vacant UFC light heavyweight crown.

There hasn’t been much parody in the division since Shogun Rua held the title. After Jon Jones won the belt at UFC 128, the division was ruled by him. The only time the belt changed hands was when Jones’ outside issues stripped him from the title.

In those times, Daniel Cormier led the charge. However, with Cormier retired and Jones moving to heavyweight, it’s a new and exciting day in the UFC‘s light heavyweight division. The two top contenders are fighting to lead the charge on this new day.

In addition to this UFC title fight, there is a title eliminator between Thiago Santos and Glover Teixiera booked for November, and Anthony Rumble Johnson is coming back. Exciting times are ahead for the light heavyweight division.

UFC 253 Prediction

For Dominick Reyes, he’s trying to right the wrong that occurred at UFC 247. In the eyes of many, Reyes did the unthinkable which is beat Jon Jones. However, all three of the judges gave the fight to Jon Jones. There were some debatable rounds, but many thought Reyes won.

A lot of people look at this fight more as a UFC title defense for Reyes versus him challenging to become champion. The uncrowned UFC champion will have his hands full tomorrow night, but he does have the skills to match.

Reyes has been very good since making his debut back in 2017. Outside of a controversial win against Volkan Oezdemir, Reyes has looked relatively dominant in his UFC career. His athletic ability, good/long striking and strength have made him a handful.

Standing across from Reyes tomorrow will be some Polish Power. Also since 2017, Jan Blachowicz has turned the corner in his UFC career. He had one slip up in a TKO loss to Thiago Santos, but outside of that, he’s been very good.

He’s racked up wins over Jared Cannonier, Jimi Manuwa, Nikita Krylov, and Jacare Souza. However, his most impressive victories have been his knockouts over Corey Anderson and former UFC middleweight champion, Luke Rockhold.

Blachowicz will definitely have the power advantage between the two men when they step into the cage for the UFC light heavyweight title tomorrow night. It’s going to be a fantastic fight.

In terms of a prediction, this one is easier for me to predict than the main event. I think Reyes is going to give Blachowicz a lot of issues with his speed. While the reach actually favors Jan, Reyes does a better job of striking from range.

I think Reyes is also going to show much improved cardio over the span of this one. I expect both guys to have their moments throughout the fight, but I think Reyes will do enough to win it on the scorecards. This time, Reyes will walk out of the cage with a UFC title.

Prediction: Dominick Reyes by Unanimous Decision

Michael Chandler on UFC 254 backup role: ‘Perfect way to introduce myself’

Michael Chandler

There’s a new UFC lightweight that is going to quickly become a promotional favorite. That lightweight is Michael Chandler (21-5) who just signed a deal with the promotion last week. Chandler had been a multiple time lightweight champion in Bellator prior to signing with the UFC.

Not only did Chandler sign with the UFC, but he signed on to be the backup for UFC 254. That card is headlined by the lightweight title fight between Khabib Nurmagomedov (28-0) and Justin Gaethje (22-2). Should one fall out, Chandler will step into the title fight.

It’s an interesting decision for Chandler to agree to this for his UFC debut. Most people would want a traditional camp to prepare for a debut. However, Chandler’s thoughts on the matter is, “It’s the perfect way to introduce myself. I’ve never turned down a fight… I’ve never not shown up,” Chandler told ESPN.

A New UFC Company Man

Chandler has to be a favorite of UFC President Dana White already, and he hasn’t even fought. When Chandler came to terms with the UFC, he made it clear to the promotion that he would do anything that needed him to.

“This was the perfect time for me to insert my name into the mix. Dana said, ‘Will you fight on October 24th?’ I told him I’d be ready September 24th. He asked if I would fight one of those guys (Tony Ferguson or Dustin Poirier), I said absolutely. He asked if I’d backup the main event, I said absolutely,” Chandler said.

It’s clear that Chandler was willing to accept anything that the UFC offered. Chandler has been chomping at the bit to prove that he’s the best lightweight in the world for years. He sees this as the perfect time to jump to the UFC to prove that he’s truly the best.

Ferguson and Poirier have stayed loyal to their fight, so for now, Chandler will train to be the backup at UFC 254. He’s ready to go up against the best of the best if he has to. “Either I am who I say I am or I’m not. Sink or swim,” Chandler said.