UFC books Ion Cutelaba – Devin Clark

Ion Cutelaba

The UFC is finalizing a matchup in the light heavyweight division. MMA DNA was the first to report that the promotion is finalizing a matchup between Ion Cutelaba (15-6, 1 NC) and Devin “Brown Bear” Clark (12-5). The matchup will take place on May 1st.

Cutelaba has become quite the interesting fixture in the UFC‘s light heavyweight division. Between his intense and entertaining pre-fight weigh-ins or his fighting style, there are a lot of people that like to tune in when Cutelaba is on the docket.

For the first time since 2019, Cutelaba will be fighting someone that’s not Magomed Ankalaev. Back in February of 2020, Cutelaba took on Ankalaev. After a brief exchange, it appeared that Cutelaba was hurt. Well, at least that’s what the referee believed.

The ref stepped in to stop the action and Cutelaba immediately went crazy. Ultimately, it appeared that Cutelaba was playing a bit of possum to draw Ankalaev into a brawl. However, it backfired when the referee stepped in.

The UFC did give Cutelaba a chance at redemption. At UFC 254, Cutelaba got a rematch with Ankalaev. However, this time Ankalaev left no doubts as he put Cutelaba out cold. Cutelaba will now try to get some redemption when he faces Devin Clark.

UFC’s Brown Bear looking to bounce back

Devin Clark just had the biggest opportunity of his career back in November. After Curtis Blaydes tested positive for COVID, Clark’s matchup with Anthony Smith was bumped to the main event in November.

Clark got a UFC main event slot opposite a former title challenger. Had Clark won that matchup, he could’ve been looking at a solid ranking and a top ten opponent next. However, Clark was submitted by Anthony Smith in the first round.

That loss snapped a two-fight win streak for The Brown Bear. Now, Clark will get a chance against a fighter with some solid name recognition and a fighter who used to be in the rankings. Whoever wins this matchup might be close to getting a UFC ranking by their name in May.

What’s next for Devin Clark after UFC Vegas 15?

This past weekend at UFC Vegas 15, Devin Clark (12-5) got the biggest opportunity of his career. After COVID scratched the original main event, he got the opportunity to headline a card against a former UFC title challenger in Anthony Smith.

Clark came into UFC Vegas 15 on a two-fight winning streak. He was the first man to derail the hype train of Alonzo Menifield back in June, but this was going to be a big step up in competition for Brown Bear.

Clark has very good wrestling and many people thought he could give Anthony Smith problems. Smith had some issues in his last couple of fights giving up takedowns and Clark had a style that could give him problems.

As soon as the fight started, Clark showed that he was game. Immediately opening the UFC Vegas 15 headliner with a big right hand which he attempted to chain into a takedown. However, Lionheart Smith did a fantastic job of reversing the position to take Clark down.

I was impressed with how Clark was able to defend himself on the ground. Brown Bear didn’t panic and he looked to reverse. Eventually, he exploded to end up in top position. However, he got a little lazy with his hands and Anthony Smith locked him in a triangle choke.

After initially defending the choke, Clark was forced to tap. The UFC Vegas 15 loss snapped his winning streak and it didn’t last very long. A tough loss for the Jackson-Wink product.

What’s next after UFC Vegas 15?

After the loss this past weekend, it’s back to the drawing board for Brown Bear. Clark did a few things really well in the fight, but a tactical error saw his first UFC main event end really quickly.

Fortunately, there’s no shame in losing to a top ten opponent who’s a former title challenger. It was a big step up in competition and maybe one that Clark wasn’t quite ready for. However, there are plenty of opponents in the UFC for him after this.

One matchup I like is a potential matchup with Ion Cutelaba (15-6, 1 NC). Cutelaba was ranked in the top 15 before he lost his second consecutive fight to Magomed Ankalaev back in October at UFC 254.

The Hulk would be a good next matchup for Clark. Both men are outside of the top 15 currently in the light heavyweight division. However, a win for either man would get them back on track to challenge someone in the UFC‘s top 15 at light heavyweight.

UFC Vegas 8 Preview: Can Anthony Smith bounce back against Aleksandar Rakic?

Anthony Smith

Tomorrow night the UFC returns with action from the APEX as light heavyweights take center stage for a solid main event. Anthony “Lionheart” Smith (33-15) will be taking on Aleksandar Rakic (12-2) in the main event of the evening. A very solid night of fights are ahead so let’s dive into the main card.

Top Eight UFC light heavyweights battle

The main event is a really solid one between two top eight UFC light heavyweights. Both Anthony Smith and Aleksandar Rakic are looking to bounce back after suffering losses in their last time out. Due to the short notice main event slot, this is a three round fight.

For Smith, he’s coming off of a really tough loss to Glover Teixeira back in May. Smith looked really good in the first couple of rounds, but about halfway through the fight there was a massive change. Teixeira was hurting Smith badly, and finished him in the fifth.

It was the second loss in three fights for Lionheart, granted the other came to Jon Jones at UFC 235. Smith is one of the top contenders at light heavyweight for a reason. He entered the division with three consecutive finishes before getting the Jones fight. Then he submitted Alexander Gustafsson after the Jones loss.

Smith possesses solid ground and striking skills. Lionheart has a wealth of experience, and he does have the skills to pose some interesting challenges for Rakic.

Rakic came into the UFC back in 2017 and he’s looked incredibly impressive. He did lose a close split decision in his last fight, but outside of that, he’s 4-0 with two incredible finishes. One of those finishes was a highlight reel headkick against Jimi Manuwa.

Rakic is explosive in his striking, and he’s incredibly efficient on his feet. He’s a very exciting fighter for the light heavyweight division. In his 12 victories, nine of them have come by knockout.

In going through this fight, I think the three round nature is going to play a big factor. If this was a five round main event, I think I would lean a little towards Smith given the experience. I think the fight is going to go the distance in this one.

Rakic is extremely explosive, but I really would like to see him go five rounds. Smith has fought into the fifth round a couple of times in his career. With it being three rounds, I like Rakic to land some really clean shots and pick up a decision. Don’t count out Lionheart, but I think Rakic takes this one.

Prediction: Aleksandar Rakic by Unanimous Decision

Robbie Lawler vs Neil Magny

In the co-main event of the evening you have the former UFC welterweight champion, Robbie Lawler (28-14, 1 NC), taking on the Haitian Sensation Neil Magny (23-7). This is a little bit of a do or die fight for the former champion.

After his stint with Strikeforce, Lawler returned to the UFC back in 2013. Ruthless went on a 8-1 run that saw him become the welterweight champion and defend the title successfully twice. He then was knocked out by Tyron Woodley to lose that title.

Since losing the title, Lawler really hasn’t been the same. He won a decision against Cowboy Cerrone, but then he’s lost three in a row. The Askren loss is still questionable, but he was dominated by Rafael Dos Anjos and Colby Covington over five rounds.

With Lawler, you pretty much know what you’re going to get. You’re going to get a guy who is always looking to finish the fight with his striking. In the past, he would be very aggressive, but we haven’t seen that guy in a few fights. Maybe he returns Saturday.

Magny is looking to have the best year of his professional career. After an 18 month layoff, Magny has won two fights in 2020. A third over a former champion would be huge for Magny. The Haitian Sensation is also looking to pick up another win over a former UFC champion.

Magny is not going to really wow you with any of his skills, but he’s incredible efficient. He’s put together a resume that includes wins over Kelvin Gastelum, Johny Hendricks, and Carlos Condit. Magny is incredible long, and he’s got very good grappling skills.

This is a tough fight for me to pick. A few years ago, I would have said Magny has no chance. However, I’m not sure Robbie Lawler is the same guy he used to be. To win this fight he needs to fight how Santiago Ponzinibbo fought Neil Magny.

Lawler needs to move forward and throw big shots. Magny is at a striking disadvantage here so you might see him try to wrestle more in this one. Maybe I’m going with my heart a little, but I think Lawler will land bigger shots over three rounds. I’m not picking a finish, but I think the bigger shots outweigh the volume in a very close fight.

Prediction: Robbie Lawler by Split Decision

Alexa Grasso vs Ji Yeon Kim

The third fight on the main card is a really good women’s flyweight weight contest as Alexa Grasso (11-3) moves up in weight to take on Ji Yeon Kim (9-2-2). Both of these women are ranked in their respected UFC divisions.

Grasso comes into this contest at 3-3 in her last six fights. She has incredibly good striking, but she’s ran into a problem in her three losses. Grasso does not fair well against fighters with good grappling backgrounds.

In her three losses, Grasso has shown that when she gets taken down, she’s more of the fighter who hopes for a stand up from the referee. When in striking range, she can compete with anyone, and this is a fight that can let her shine.

Kim entered the UFC with a decent amount of hype given her pedigree. She is well-versed in many martial arts and had some amateur boxing and kickboxing experience. Kim also entered the octagon for the first time at 6-0-2.

She did have an impressive win in her last outing, but outside of that, the results have been very underwhelming. Kim is 3-2 in the octagon but two of those wins came via split decision. If those judges sided the other way we’d be looking at a fighter who is 1-4.

I think this fight is going to stay on the feet over the course of three rounds. Kim has plenty of skill to be able to win this fight, but I just can’t have any confidence in her based on what I’ve seen.

I think Grasso will have the speed and technique advantage moving up from 115. Look for Grasso to use some crisp combinations in this one. If Kim can keep the fight at distance, she might be able to get the decision, but I’m going with Grasso on this one.

Prediction: Alexa Grasso by Unanimous Decision

Ricardo Lamas vs Bill Algeo

The second fight on the main card features former featherweight title challenger, Ricardo Lamas (19-8), taking on UFC newcomer Bill Algeo (13-4). Lamas was supposed to fight Ryan Hall, but Hall was forced to pull out due to injury.

Lamas is at an interesting stage in his career. He’s 38 years old and he’s just 1-3 in his last four fights. However, one was a split decision loss and the other two came against Josh Emmett and Calvin Kattar. No shame in those losses. In between the losses was a TKO win over Darren Elkins.

With Lamas, you’re going to get a guy who is comfortable everywhere. He has really good striking, and he’s got great submissions. He even submitted Charles Oliveira back in 2016.

This is a really tough draw for Algeo in his first fight with the promotion. Algeo is a veteran of the Contender Series, but lost a decision in his fight. He did come away giving off a good impression which is why the UFC is willing to give him the short notice fight here.

Algeo has very good striking, and he hits with good power. He does a really good job of mixing up his strikes going up top and to the body. Algeo definitely has the skills to make this an interesting matchup.

Yes, Lamas on paper is just 3-4 in his last seven fights. However, those four losses are all to top competition. This is just a little too much to ask of Algeo in his debut. Maybe I’m wrong, but I’m going with experience here and I’m picking Ricardo Lamas to pick up the victory.

Prediction: Ricardo Lamas by Unanimous Decision

Magomed Ankalaev vs Ion Cutelaba

Kicking off the UFC Vegas 8 main card on ESPN+ is a light heavyweight rematch between Magomed Ankalaev (13-1) and Ion Cutelaba (15-5, 1 NC). This fight was originally supposed to happen a couple of weeks ago, but a positive COVID test pushed it back.

These two fought back in February and the results was nothing short of controversial. Nothing of significance seemed to land from Ankalaev, but Cutelaba was acting rocked. You could tell he was acting just by his movements. Maybe some shots landed for Ankalaev, but nothing damaging.

During his acting, you could tell Cutelaba was trying to time a big shot. Maybe not the brightest strategy, but he did have Ankalaev going after him pretty open. Nevertheless, the referee stopped the fight believing Cutelaba was out on his feet during his cherade.

Now, the two men will run the fight back. Ankalaev will try to make it five wins in a row in the UFC’s light heavyweight division. Ankalaev has diverse striking and very good power in his shots. Magomed Ankalaev is really good wherever the fight goes.

In the early stages of any fight, Cutelaba is extremely dangerous. He’s got fantastic hand speed and really good power. Just ask Khalil Rountree about the power that Cutelaba possesses. However, his skills are more geared towards a fast start.

If this fight gets out of the first round, I’m not sure how well I think Cutelaba will do against Ankalaev over three rounds. I think the diversity in the striking is really going to play to Ankalaev’s advantage. While not the sexiest fight picks, I’m going with another main card decision in this one.

Prediction: Magomed Ankalaev by Unanimous Decision

UFC Vegas 8 Outlook

On paper, this is a fantastic card from the UFC. MMA fans should be excited for tomorrow night. I expect the card to deliver some great fights that will have everyone talking about it next week.

 

UFC: Ion Cutelaba tests positive for COVID-19; fight with Magomed Ankalaev off

Ion Cutelaba

COVID-19 has struck again when it comes to fight cancellations. This time it has taken out one of the main card fights from this weekend’s UFC 252 PPV. Ion Cutelaba has tested positive for COVID-19.

As a result, the anticipated UFC rematch with Magomed Ankalaev has been postponed again. This is the second time that the fight has been pushed back.

UFC pushing back to August 29th

In speaking with MMA Fighting, Cutelaba’s manager said that the current plan is to move the fight back a couple of weeks. “Just got to make sure he doesn’t get sick these next few days,” Cutelabla’s manager said of the proposed August 29th date.

The fight is a rematch from a fight back in February at UFC Fight Night 169. In that fight, Ankalaev appeared to have hurt Cutelaba on the feet causing the referee to step in granting Ankalaev the TKO victory.

Cutelaba immediately protested saying it was all a setup. Cutelaba attempted to contest the fight result, but that went no where. They tried booking the fight for UFC 249, but that also got cancelled.

Ankalaev will enter the octagon whenever they fight on a current four fight winning streak. Cutelaba was coming off of a very big win over Khalil Rountree prior to the loss to Ankalaev.

This is a big fight for the light heavyweight division. Ankalaev is currently ranked thirteen while Cutelaba is not ranked. A win for either man in this rematch whenever it takes place could mean a potential top ten opponent in their next fight.