UFC books Dan Hooker – Nasrat Haqparast

The UFC has finalized a fun lightweight matchup for their PPV card next month. After a report from BJPenn.com, it’s been confirmed that the promotion is planning on having a lightweight contest between Dan Hooker (20-10) and rising contender Nasrat Haqparast (13-3).

The fight will take place at UFC 266 on September 25th. It’s no surprise that Hooker finds himself fighting on that card. With COVID restrictions and quarantine rules in New Zealand, the City Kickboxing fighters like to fight either on the same card or right around each other.

Hooker has said for months that he wanted to fight on the same card as teammate Alexander Volkanovski. The UFC featherweight champion is headlining next month’s PPV when he takes on Brian Ortega.

The surprising part of this announcement is the opponent. Nasrat Haqparast is not the opponent I was expecting for Hooker. Haqparast has won two in a row and overall, he’s 5-2 inside the octagon.

Entering UFC 266, Haqparast will not have a ranking by his name. This is a massive opportunity for the lightweight from Afghanistan. Considering all that’s going on in that part of the world, this is a huge moment for him and his native land.

Hooker’s Return at UFC 266

How quickly things have changed for The Hangman in the UFC. A little over a year ago, Hooker was fighting Dustin Poirier in a headliner inside the APEX in Las Vegas. In the first two rounds, Hooker was beating Poirier to the punch.

In fact, Hooker was outclassing The Diamond for the first couple of rounds. However, Poirier flipped the switch and won the final three rounds to win the decision. Had Hooker won that fight, he might’ve been in line for a UFC title shot.

From there, Hooker welcomed Michael Chandler to the UFC back in January. Hooker was the betting favorite, but Chandler scored a first round knockout that shocked everyone. Now, Hooker has fallen back in the rankings and he’s fighting an unranked opponent.

This is a good reset moment for Hooker. Haqparast is an opponent he should beat and it’s a good opportunity for him to get his momentum back. However, it won’t be easy and you can bet that Haqparast will be more motivated than ever at UFC 266.

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.

What happened between the UFC and Francis Ngannou?

Francis Ngannou

Yesterday we all saw some shocking news in the world of mixed martial arts. We learned that UFC 265 in August will be headlined by an interim title fight between top contenders Derrick Lewis (25-7, 1 NC) and Ciryl Gane (9-0).

The two men will battle it out in Houston on August 7th. However, this move was incredibly puzzling to say the least. It’s puzzling due to the fact that Francis Ngannou (16-3) just became the undisputed heavyweight champion at the end of March.

After Ngannou became the champion, he spent a considerable amount of time in Africa to celebrate. Ngannou recently returned to the United States and resumed training in preparation for his first title defense.

For the last month or so, the UFC has been trying hard to book Ngannou against Derrick Lewis for the August PPV. However, with Ngannou’s travel schedule, he told the UFC that he wouldn’t be ready by the beginning of August.

The promotion then came back to Ngannou and asked about UFC 266 in September. Ngannou and his representatives accepted the fight for the end of September and moved forward with their preparations. However, everything changed yesterday.

UFC’s Change of Plans

The UFC had been moving forward with the September fight, but Ciryl Gane’s performance over the weekend made them hedge. After seeing Gane remain perfect by defeating Alexander Volkov, the promotion tried to use it for leverage to get Ngannou to fight in August.

Ngannou’s camp remained firm in their stance that he would defend the title in September, but not at the beginning of August. The UFC ultimately decided to pull the plug on Ngannou all together and booked the interim title fight.

In the history of the promotion, this is the quickest that they’ve ever instituted an interim title. It’s also incredibly interesting that it was made in the heavyweight division considering the title has been defended on average once a year over the past few years.

So now, the UFC’s superstar heavyweight champion is sidelined. This move makes no sense and to me the promotion just cut their nose off to spite their face.

UFC heads back to Fight Island with Jan Blachowicz – Glover Teixeira (Report)

Corey Anderson

Over the weekend we learned that there has been a change of plans regarding the UFC‘s upcoming light heavyweight title bout. The champion Jan Blachowicz (28-8) was set to defend his title against Glover Teixeira (32-7) in September.

That bout was supposed to take place at UFC 266 on September 25th. However, that is no longer the case. Instead, we’ve learned that the fight is being pushed back a month and the promotion is returning to Fight Island.

AG.Fight was the first to report that Blachowicz -Teixeira was being moved. The light heavyweight title fight will now headline UFC 267 on Fight Island which is tentatively scheduled to take place on October 30th.

This is actually the second time that this light heavyweight title fight has been pushed back. Originally, it was scheduled for early September before being pushed back to the end of the month. Hopefully, there’s no additional movement with the UFC title fight.

Dana White has been saying that the UFC would be returning to Fight Island at some point. After having three stretches there over a six month period, the UFC hasn’t returned since January, but the plan is for there to be multiple events on Fight Island.

UFC Returns to Fight Island

The UFC’s Fight Island PPV is getting a helluva main event with this matchup between Blachowicz and Teixeira. This fight is all about two guys who have completely turned their careers around over the past few years.

Back at UFC 210, Jan Blachowicz lost to Patrick Cummins. That loss dropped Blachowicz to 2-4 in the UFC and he was on the verge of getting cut. However, since that loss, The Polish Power has gone 9-1 on his way to capturing the UFC light heavyweight title.

Glover Teixeira has seen a very similar turnaround. Back in 2012 when Teixeira made his UFC debut, he hadn’t lost in seven years. He started his career out with the promotion by winning five straight earning him a shot against Jon Jones.

He came up short in his bid to become champion. After that loss, Teixeira went on a stretch where he was just above 500 at 5-4. Getting up there in age and becoming a 500 fighter didn’t spell well for Glover’s UFC title aspirations.

However, after his loss to Corey Anderson, Teixeira has won five consecutive fights to earn himself a title shot. His title shot will come two days after his 42 birthday and if he’s able to win at UFC 267, it will be quite the story.

UFC booking Curtis Blaydes – Jairzinho Rozenstruik

Curtis Blaydes, UFC

The UFC is close to finalizing a big time matchup in the heavyweight division. MMA Fighting was the first to report today that the promotion had verbal agreements for a heavyweight fight between Curtis Blaydes (14-3, 1 NC) and Jairzinho Rozenstruik (12-2).

The matchup will take place at UFC 266 which is currently scheduled for September 25th. This is the fight that Rozenstruik wanted. Bigi Boy just fought Augusto Sakai less than two weeks ago in a main event.

That night, Rozenstruik picked up the first round TKO win. After the fight was over, he requested that the UFC book him against Curtis Blaydes next. Bigi Boy said that it was the fight he wanted and a fight that made sense for the heavyweight division.

With the win over Sakai, Rozenstruik moved to 6-2 in his eight UFC fights. He was unbeaten entering 2020 and he had a title eliminator against Francis Ngannou. Ngannou knocked Rozenstruik out in 20 seconds.

Rozenstruik then went 1-1 in his next two fights. Earlier this year, he had a main event against Ciryl Gane where he looked awful. Bigi Boy wasn’t aggressive and lost a decision. He promised the UFC he’d deliver in his next fight and that’s what he did with a first round TKO.

UFC 266 Heavyweight Battle

UFC 266 will provide Curtis Blaydes with a much needed opportunity to bounce back. Back in 2018, Blaydes was close to a title shot when he took on Francis Ngannou. Had Blaydes won that fight, he might’ve earned himself a shot at the belt.

However, like Rozenstruik, Blaydes was knocked out in under a minute by Ngannou. After that loss, Blaydes won four straight to put himself in another title eliminator. This one was against the popular Derrick Lewis.

Given what we know about the Jon Jones situation, the winner of Blaydes/Lewis was going to get a UFC title shot against Francis Ngannou. After starting well, Blaydes was knocked out cold by Derrick Lewis. Another big setback for Curtis Blaydes.

Blaydes is one of the best heavyweights in the world. However, he has seemed to stumble right when he gets to a title eliminator. He needs a big win over Rozenstruik in September to get him back on track and in the conversation for a future title shot.

UFC books Merab Dvalishvili – Marlon Moraes

The UFC has booked a fun matchup in the bantamweight decision. Merab Dvalishvili‘s (13-4) head coach Ray Longo appeared on the Anik and Florian Podcast and revealed that Dvalishvili would be fighting Marlon Moraes (23-8, 1 NC) next.

The matchup will take place at UFC 266 pm September 4th. The fight was later confirmed by MMA Fighting with promotional officials. This is a big fight for Dvalishvili as he’s getting his first crack at the UFC top ten.

Dvalishvili is on an impressive six-fight winning streak. When Dvalishvili first joined the UFC, it wasn’t smooth sailing for him. Dvalishvili was given a contract after Dana White watched him during the filming of his show, Looking for a Fight.

He made his debut with the promotion back in December of 2017 and immediately lost his first two fights. However, he’s been perfect since. His last UFC appearance was back in May when he defeated Cody Stamann by Unanimous Decision.

UFC Trouble for Magic Marlon

Back in February of 2019, the top contender in the UFC’s bantamweight division was Marlon Moraes. After losing his debut with the promotion, Moraes won four consecutive fights to put him in prime position for a title shot.

His wins included Aljamain Sterling, Jimmie Rivera and Raphael Assuncao. Moraes fought Henry Cejudo for the vacant bantamweight title at UFC 238. Magic Marlon had a dominant first round, but he couldn’t put Cejudo away.

Slowly, Cejudo starting breaking Moraes. Then, in the third round, Cejudo finished him off. Since that loss, Marlon Moraes has not been the same fighter. He won a split decision over Jose Aldo, but most believe he lost that fight.

Then, he was stopped in both of his UFC appearances in 2020. In the eyes of the public, Moraes has lost four consecutive fights dating back to the Cejudo loss. This fight against Dvalishvili is massively important. If he gets dominated in this one, his days with the promotion could be numbered.

BREAKING: UFC books title fight between Jan Blachowicz and Glover Teixeira

Corey Anderson

The UFC has finalized the next title fight in the light heavyweight division. Dana White told ESPN’s Brett Okamoto that the promotion has booked the title fight between the champion Jan Blachowicz (28-8) and top contender Glover Teixeira (32-7).

The matchup will take place at UFC 266 on September 4th. At this time, it’s not known where UFC 266 will take place. Glover Teixeira is finally getting his second crack at the light heavyweight championship.

Teixeira’s first shot was back in 2014 when he took on Jon Jones. Jones was able to win that fight by decision and it’s been a long road for Teixeira to get back to a title shot.

Back in 2018, many were wondering what the UFC future was for Teixeira. Teixeira had gone 2-3 in five fights and he was getting ready to turn 40 years old. However, that’s when Teixeira completely turned his career around.

Starting in January of 2019, Teixeira has gone 5-0 inside the octagon. His last two wins were stoppage wins over former title challengers Thiago Santos and Anthony Smith. Teixeira has seen an incredible resurgence and now he gets his title shot at UFC 266.

Second UFC title defense for the Polish Power

Someone who can completely relate to Teixeira’s resurgence is the UFC light heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz. At UFC 210, Blachowicz lost to Patrick Cummins and he was just 1-4 in five fights.

The promotion came close to cutting him, but decided to keep the Polish Power around. After that loss to Cummins, Blachowicz has gone 9-1 inside the octagon including winning five fights in a row.

Blachowicz’s comeback culminated at UFC 253 when he defeated Dominick Reyes to become the light heavyweight champion. Following that win, the promotion booked him against one of the biggest stars in the sport, Israel Adesanya.

Adesanya fought Blachowicz at UFC 259 seeking to become a two-division champion. However, Blachowicz proved to be too much and successfully defended his title. Now, Blachowicz will be seeking a second straight defense of his light heavyweight crown.