Volkanovski – Ortega and Shevchenko – Murphy booked for UFC 266

The UFC is planning a massive event for their September PPV. First we learned earlier today that the matchup between Nick Diaz (26-9, 2 NC) and Robbie Lawler (28-15, 1 NC) was finalized for UFC 266 on September 25th.

The rematch between the two legends will be a five-round, non-title, non-main event matchup. This is only the second time that the UFC has ever done this. Nate Diaz – Leon Edwards was the first matchup to get the non-main event five-round treatment.

Now, we have learned that the promotion is adding two title fights on top of it. Dana White confirmed with ESPN’s Brett Okamoto this evening that the promotion had finalized a featherweight title fight between Alexander Volkanovski (22-1) and top contender Brian Ortega (15-1, 1 NC).

Both men are fresh off of their coaching stints on The Ultimate Fighter and they are ready to battle it out. Originally, the two men were supposed to fight back in March. However, the UFC featherweight champion came down with COVID and the fight got pushed back.

The delay ended up being a blessing in disguise as the two men coached on TUF which created more intrigue around the matchup. While this featherweight title fight is exciting, it’s not the only title fight that’s heading to UFC 266.

UFC flyweight title on the line

White also told ESPN this evening that the flyweight queen, Valentina Shevchenko (21-3), will be defending her title against Lauren Murphy (15-4). The matchup will be the co-main event of UFC 266.

Murphy has won five fights in a row on her way to earning this shot at Shevchenko. She’s also one of the few flyweights in the top ten that hasn’t had a chance to fight Shevchenko. On September 25th, she will get her chance.

Lauren Murphy is going to be a massive betting underdog and for good reason. You can easily make the argument that skill-for-skill, Valentina Shevchenko is the best female fighter on the planet. Honestly, it is something truly special to watch her compete inside the octagon.

The only losses she has in the UFC have come against Amanda Nunes at 135 pounds. Granted, I still maintain that I thought Shevchenko won the last time they fought. At flyweight, Shevchenko is a perfect 7-0. During that stretch, she has four finishes and in her three decisions, she’s lost a grand total of two rounds.

With a win at UFC 263, did Lauren Murphy earn a shot at the flyweight title?

Lauren Murphy, UFC

This past Saturday on the prelims of UFC 263, we saw a pivotal matchup in the women’s flyweight division. Top six contenders went head-to-head in a potential title eliminator as Lauren Murphy (15-4) took on Joanne “JoJo” Calderwood (15-6).

The fight was extremely close on Saturday night. In the first round, both ladies were able to do some solid work on the feet. It was an extremely tough round to score and I could have seen an argument for either fighter getting the nod in the first round.

The second round was all Lauren Murphy. Murphy was able to secure a takedown early and she controlled the entire round from the top position. In the third round, Murphy was not able to get Calderwood back to the ground.

Both of the fighters slugged it out in the third round at UFC 263, but Calderwood clearly got the better of the striking exchanges. With that, the two went to the scorecards. It was clear who won the second and third round, but the first was very much up in the air.

I could have easily seen three outcomes based on those three rounds. All three of these were arguable at UFC 263: Murphy by decision, draw, Calderwood by decision. It all would come down to how the second round was scored and who won the first round.

In the end, two of the three judges gave the fight to “Lucky” Lauren Murphy. A massive win for her as she made it five in a row in the UFC.

What’s next after UFC 263?

As mentioned, Lauren Murphy has put together five consecutive wins in the flyweight division. The only one above her in terms of consecutive wins is the current flyweight queen, Valentina Shevchenko (21-3).

Murphy was vocal after her last win at UFC 254 in October that she wanted a shot at the title. Of course, Jessica Andrade ended up getting the shot and was thoroughly dominated by the champion at UFC 261.

Having won her fifth in a row, is Lauren Murphy next? Well, I have to say that I would personally give her the shot. She’s won five in a row and she’s the only one in the top four who hasn’t had a crack at Shevchenko yet.

Dana White didn’t commit to giving her the next UFC title shot, but he acknowledge that it’s a real possibility. Really, there’s only one other top contender who has an argument and that’s Katlyn Chookagian (16-4).

Chookagian holds a victory over Lauren Murphy and she’s currently ranked second in the division ahead of Murphy. However, Chookagian did get a shot against Shevchenko last year and was dominated by the champion.

I don’t want to see Murphy fight Chookagian again and I personally don’t want to see Chookagian fight Shevchenko again right now. I think it’s time that Lauren Murphy gets her UFC title shot. It’s a new fight for the division and Murphy has earned it with five consecutive wins in the flyweight division.

After dominant win at UFC 261, what’s next for Valentina Shevchenko?

This past Saturday at UFC 261 we got to see a flyweight title fight that the world was intrigued by. The undisputed flyweight queen Valentina Shevchenko (21-3) defended her title against former strawweight champion Jessica Andrade (21-9).

Heading into the fight, the UFC and Dana White really hyped up the former strawweight champion to build interest. The thought was that the power and pure strength of Andrade could give Valentina Shevchenko problems she has yet to deal with.

However, let’s not forget that Shevchenko has fought 40 minutes with Amanda Nunes (21-4). Nevertheless, the UFC was building up Andrade was a truly formattable challenger for the title.

Well, on Saturday night, Valentina Shevchenko made a massive statement to everyone. Dana White said that Shevchenko fought like a demon at UFC 261 who was pissed off at everyone.

Shevchenko did what everyone said Andrade needed to do at UFC 261. She engaged Andrade in the clinch and in close quarters. However, Andrade couldn’t do anything and Shevchenko showed just how strong she is.

Shevchenko ragdolled the former UFC strawweight champion on Saturday night. There wasn’t one aspect of the fight that she didn’t dominate. In the second round, she secured the crucifix position off of a powerful takedown and got the TKO win.

What’s next after UFC 261?

At UFC 261, Valentina Shevchenko once again proved that there are levels to this game and nobody is even close to hers at 125 pounds. She’s so far ahead of the rest of these ladies it’s not even funny.

The thing that makes her so special is how well-rounded she is as a martial artist. She has elite striking, elite grappling and she’s stronger than most of the bantamweights on the roster.

The only person on the entire UFC roster that can compete with Shevchenko is Amanda Nunes. This is not an exaggeration or being a victim of the moment, but I truly believe that Shevchenko is the second greatest female mixed martial artist we’ve ever seen.

She is inches behind Nunes and if you have a hard time believing that, watch their second fight from UFC 215. Personally, I scored that fight for Shevchenko and if she would’ve won that split decision, she would be called the greatest.

In my perfect world, I would love to see the trilogy between these two ladies, but Dana White has dismissed that. In terms of the next contender at flyweight, there are a couple of upcoming UFC matchups to watch.

A few weeks from now, Katlyn Chookagian (15-4) takes on Viviane Araujo (10-2) at UFC 262. Then, in June, Lauren Murphy (14-4) takes on JoJo Calderwood (15-5). One of these four ladies will get the next crack at the champion. My only advice to whoever gets that shot is good luck because you’re going to need it.

UFC books JoJo Calderwood – Lauren Murphy

Just as the action was getting under way at UFC 260, we learned some breaking news. MMA Junkie was the first to report this evening that the promotion has finalized a matchup between top flyweight contenders Joanne “JoJo” Calderwood (15-5) and Lauren Murphy (14-4).

The matchup will take place at UFC 263 which is scheduled for June 12th. Calderwood will enter the contest as the sixth ranked flyweight in the UFC. She will be looking to take another step towards a shot at the flyweight title.

Last year, Calderwood was set to challenge for the flyweight title. The UFC booked her against Valentina Shevchenko in June. However, the champion suffered a knee injury and needed more time to prepare.

Instead of waiting on the sidelines, Calderwood decided to take a fight against Jennifer Maia. This ultimately proved to be a massive mistake as Maia would submit Calderwood in the first round and take her title shot.

Calderwood returned back at UFC 257 in January where she met Jessica Eye. She put on a very good performance and walked away with a decision win. This is going to be a massive fight for her on June 12th.

UFC title eliminator?

Lauren Murphy has been on quite the run in the UFC since 2019. Since the calendar turned over to 2019, Murphy has won four consecutive fights including wins over Andrea Lee and Roxanne Modafferi.

In her last fight, Murphy secured her first submission win at UFC 254. After the fight was over, Murphy said that she wanted a title shot. However, given her status in the division, that was always going to be a long shot.

Murphy is currently ranked third in the flyweight division. If she’s able to come out at UFC 263 and put on a dominant performance against JoJo Calderwood, it’s going to be hard to deny her of a shot at the title. Should be an excellent fight on June 12th.

After her big win at UFC 258, what’s next for Alexa Grasso?

This past Saturday at UFC 258, the women’s flyweight division was on display in the co-main event. One of the promotion’s top prospects, Maycee Barber (8-2), was making her return against Alexa Grasso (13-3).

Barber has claimed for the last couple of years that she was going to be the youngest champion in UFC history. Those plans were derailed by a knee injury and a loss last year, but she insisted that she was going to make a statement at UFC 258.

Alexa Grasso was making her second appearance in the flyweight division. After spending years depleting herself to make 115, Grasso moved up to 125. The decision to move up to the flyweight division was the best possible decision Grasso could have made.

When the fight started on Saturday, Barber seemed anxious while Grasso seemed calm and composed. Through the first two rounds, anytime Barber would come forward, Grasso would sting her with beautiful combinations.

What really impressed me was the fact that Barber couldn’t even get the advantage in the grappling. Grasso controlled most of the grappling exchanges at UFC 258 which I think nobody anticipated going into the fight.

In the third round, Barber went all out trying to get a finish. You have to give her credit for that, and Grasso withstood the storm from Barber. While Barber took the final round, Grasso walked away with her hand raised on Saturday night.

What’s next after UFC 258?

The UFC’s flyweight division has a very exciting new contender in Alexa Grasso. I’m very interested to see how the promotion moves her forward after her big win on Saturday night. With that, they have a couple of different paths.

The first path is giving her a slight step up in the rankings in terms of opponents. With that, you’d have someone like Viviane Araujo (10-2) who is currently ranked seventh. I think that would be a fantastic matchup and a lot of fun for the fans.

However, if they want to move her up quicker than that, perhaps a matchup against Lauren Murphy (14-4) or Katlyn Chookagian (15-4) could be next. If that’s what Grasso got next, she could just be one win away from a UFC title shot.

Again, it’ll be very interesting to see how the promotion goes with her. Either way, it’s exciting times in the flyweight division.

What’s next for JoJo Calderwood after UFC 257?

This past Saturday at UFC 257, Joanne “JoJo” Calderwood (15-5) took on Jessica Eye (15-9, 1 NC) on the PPV main card. Both of these flyweight contenders had a lot on the line on Saturday night.

Whoever won this fight was going to be in a position where they could get a top five opponent next. However, a loss would put them way back in the UFC flyweight division. Calderwood had a lot to prove on Saturday night.

Originally, JoJo Calderwood was supposed to get a UFC title shot back in June of last year. However, Valentina Shevchenko injured her knee and the fight was scrapped. The promotion offered to allow Calderwood to wait for the title shot.

However, Calderwood wanted to stay active. She said that she didn’t want a lengthy layoff leading into her first UFC title shot. With that in mind, she took a fight against Jennifer Maia. She was submitted in the first round and as a result, lost her UFC title shot.

At UFC 257, she had the chance to get back on track and that’s what she did. Over the course of three rounds, Calderwood used her effective kicks and knees to keep Eye at range. She mixed up her shots well and was able to walk away with a unanimous decision victory.

What’s next after UFC 257?

As mentioned, Calderwood was supposed to get a title shot last year. With this win at UFC 257, I think she’s right back near that conversation. However, she’s going to need one more win to get that shot at the title.

In looking at the rankings, I believe there are a couple of matchups that make a lot of sense for Calderwood. For Calderwood’s next fight, I would pair her up against either Katlyn Chookagian (15-4) or Lauren Murphy (14-4).

Both of those contenders are near a title shot, however, we already know that Jessica Andrade is getting the next crack at the UFC title. Chookagian and Murphy should honestly fight, however, Murphy doesn’t seem interested in that matchup.

I think the promotion should put Calderwood against one of those two contenders with a title shot on the line. Again, Calderwood was supposed to get the shot before Shevchenko was hurt. She still deserves to be in the conversation.

If the UFC pairs up Calderwood with one of those two, the winner would be in a great position to challenge the winner of Shevchenko – Andrade. It’ll be interesting to see how this situation at flyweight plays out.

UFC: State of the women’s flyweight division entering 2021

Arguably the most dominant champion in any UFC division is Valentina Shevchenko (20-3). Shevchenko is the queen of the flyweight division and she has shown that she’s head and shoulders above the competition at 125 pounds.

She has been so dominant that people lose their minds when she loses a round as she did at UFC 255. Shevchenko just defended her title last month against a very game, Jennifer Maia (18-7-1).

Nobody in the world believed that Maia could hang with Shevchenko. However, Maia was able to win a round and make it competitive. Well, as competitive as a fight can be when one person loses four of the five rounds.

Simply put, Valentina Shevchenko is at a different level. The UFC flyweight champion has only lost twice inside the octagon. Both of those losses came to two-division champion, Amanda Nunes.

However, many believe that Shevchenko won the second matchup which Nunes took by split decision. Nevertheless, when the flyweight division was created, the UFC created it with Valentina Shevchenko in mind.

UFC Flyweight in 2021

As we head into the new year, we already know what is going to be first for Valentina Shevchenko. The first challenger will be former UFC strawweight champion, Jessica Andrade (21-8).

Andrade is now competing in her third weight class in the UFC. She started at bantamweight when it was the only division. However, she was much smaller than all of her competition.

When the strawweight division was created, she dropped twenty pounds to compete there. She captured UFC gold, but it still didn’t appear to be her natural weight class. Finally at 125, she seems to have found the perfect fit.

In her debut, she finished former title challenger, Katlyn Chookagian (15-4), in the first round. A matchup between Shevchenko and Andrade should be a lot of fun for fight fans. No word on when this matchup will take place.

Outside of the title fight, there is another compelling matchup in the division that should be made. That would be the rematch between Chookagian and top contender, Lauren Murphy (14-4).

The two fought back in 2016 with Chookagian picking up the win. However, Murphy has now won four in a row which has placed her third in the rankings. A matchup between the two could be a title eliminator.

One storyline to watch out for in the UFC‘s flyweight division in 2021 is a potential champion versus champion super fight. Weili Zhang (21-1) is the UFC’s strawweight champion and widely considered one of the best in the world.

If she’s able to defend her title once or twice successfully in 2021, I wouldn’t rule out her moving up to challenge Shevchenko. Dana White has already said that he likes the idea. The flyweight division is definitely one to watch in 2021.

UFC Matchmaker: Lauren Murphy – Katlyn Chookagian 2

Lauren Murphy, UFC

This past weekend at UFC 255, Katlyn Chookagian (15-4) was able to get back on the winning side of things. She was very impressive in her unanimous decision victory over top contender, Cynthia Calvillo (9-2-1).

Chookagian had just fought about a month ago on Fight Island. She was stopped in the first round by former UFC strawweight champion, Jessica Andrade. Despite being stopped, Chookagian still entered UFC 255 as the second ranked contender at flyweight.

She did a fantastic job of keeping the fight at standing and at range on Saturday night. Calvillo couldn’t get anything going and Chookagian did a fantastic job of picking her apart from the outside.

The result was a dominant 30-27 victory for the former title challenger. After the fight was over, Chookagian made it clear that she believes anyone who wants a title shot must go through her first to get it. She also called a potential opponent easy money.

“Obviously, anyone that wants to fight Valentina probably has to fight me first. I’ve already beaten Lauren Murphy, but I’ll do it again. It’s an easy paycheck, so whatever,” Chookagian told the media at the post-fight press conference.

Will the UFC book the rematch?

In all honesty, this is the fight that makes the most sense for the UFC. I believe the best fight they can make right now is Chookagian against Lauren Murphy (14-4). Murphy has won four in a row on her way to being ranked fifth in the flyweight division.

The two previously fought back in 2016 and Chookagian won the fight by unanimous decision. Obviously, both of the fighters have improved since their first fight over four years ago.

Murphy was really pushing for a title shot after her last fight, but that was always a long shot. While she had wins over ranked contenders, nobody was near the very top of the division. A win over Chookagian would solidify her status as a top contender.

Chookagian is trying to get another shot at UFC gold. To do that, she’s going to need to string together another win or two. That could start with a victory over Murphy which would give her two straight victories over top five contenders.

Does Lauren Murphy deserve a title shot after UFC 254?

Lauren Murphy, UFC

One of the more vocal fighters after UFC 254 was flyweight contender, Lauren Murphy (14-4). Murphy was originally supposed to take on Cynthia Calvillo, but at the last minute she ended up fighting Lilya Shakirova at UFC 254.

The flyweight contender looked really solid in all areas on Saturday. Murphy looked solid on the feet, and she showed good skills on the ground. Murphy said she wanted to lock up her first submission victory and she was able to do just that.

UFC 254 marked the fourth straight time that Murphy has made the walk successfully. She’s taken on ranked opponents in the division and finished two of her last four opponents. Murphy was very vocal about wanting a title shot in her post-fight interview.

Later on at the post-fight press conference, Murphy continued to show frustrations of getting passed up. She talked about Jennifer Maia. getting the next shot at Valentina Shevchenko. Let’s just say that Murphy is not thrilled with Maia’s title shot.

What should the UFC do?

For context, JoJo Calderwood was originally supposed to face Valentina Shevchenko in June. However, the UFC champion sustained an injury that would cause the fight to be delayed. Calderwood decided to roll the dice and fight Maia.

Maia went on to finish Calderwood by submission in the first round. Because of the finish of the top contender, the UFC decided to give Maia the shot. However, her resume doesn’t really scream top contender as she’s just 3-2 in her last five fights.

Granted, her two losses were to former title challengers. Murphy does have a point in that she’s won four in a row against ranked caliber opponents. So what should the UFC do? Obviously, the promotion isn’t going to take away the title fight from Maia.

I also don’t think sitting and waiting is going to help Murphy. Instead, I think the UFC should book her against who’s probably the front runner for the next title shot, Jessica Andrade. Andrade made her flyweight debut at UFC Fight Island 6 and finished top contender Katlyn Chookagian. 

The former strawweight champion is finally competing in what she believes is her natural weight class. Andrade just fought and Murphy just fought. The logical move to me is to have the UFC pair both of them together and the winner should fight the flyweight champion early next year.

Cynthia Calvillo – Lauren Murphy targeted for UFC 254

UFC 254 is getting a fight between two top five women’s flyweight contenders. Cynthia Calvillo (9-1-1) and Lauren Murphy (13-4) are expected to throw down per MMA Fighting.

Fight for the next UFC title shot?

Cynthia Calvillo didn’t mess around when she made the move up to flyweight this year. After struggling with her weight to stay at strawweight, Calvillo moved up to what’s more of her natural weight class.

In her first fight in the division, she took on the number one ranked contender at the time, Jessica Eye. Eye had only lost one fight in the division and that was to the current UFC champion, Valentina Shevchenko.

Calvillo and Eye got a main event slot at UFC on ESPN 10, and Calvillo put on quite the performance. She used her strong grappling base to neutralize Eye and get the unanimous decision victory.

Because she moved right in and took out the number one contender, she made her flyweight rankings debut at number two. Her impressive victory in her first fight proved that she could hang, and some thought she could be ready for a title shot.

We now know that Jennifer Maia is getting the next shot at the champion, Shevchenko at UFC 255. With that, Calvillo will need one more fight to get to a title shot.

That is where the fourth ranked fighter in the UFC‘s flyweight division, Murphy, steps in. Murphy is no joke herself and she’s coming into this contest riding a three fight winning streak.

In her last fight, Murphy put on an excellent performance over the tough Roxanne Modafferi. That win put Murphy squarely in the top five, perhaps just a win away from the title shot.

These two ladies are likely next in line for a shot at the title. We do not know what this means for Katelyn Chookagian. However, these two will face at UFC 254 and the winner will likely have their eyes focused on the UFC 255 co-main event.