UFC books Michael Chiesa – Neil Magny

The UFC has been putting in the work on this holiday week. ESPN’s Brett Okamoto is reporting that the promotion is close to finalizing a really good matchup at welterweight that will take place on Fight Island.

Per Okamoto, Michael Chiesa (17-4) and Neil Magny (24-7) will go head-to-head on the UFC‘s January 20th Fight Night. That card is being headlined by the welterweight matchup between Khamzat Chimaev and Leon Edwards.

January 20th will mark the UFC return for Michael Chiesa after spending the majority of 2020 on the sidelines. Chiesa last fought in January, but he’s been on the sidelines with leg injuries this year.

He’s seen a career resurgence since moving from lightweight up to the UFC‘s welterweight division. He’s won three straight at 170 which has placed him eighth in the rankings. Just one spot ahead of his opponent on January 20th.

UFC Welterweight Matchup

Standing across from Chiesa will be Neil Magny. Like Chiesa. The Haitian Sensation has won three straight in the UFC‘s welterweight division. Magny made his return this year after serving a suspension that kept him out for a year and a half.

Magny has looked sensational this year. His return started in March when he defeated Li Jingliang. Then he took on Anthony Rocco Martin at UFC 250. Both of those decision victories led him to a fight with former UFC champion, Robbie Lawler.

Magny completely outworked and dominated the former champion over the course of fifteen minutes. The victory was the biggest win of his career. Both of these contenders are in a prime spot to make that next leap in the welterweight division.

Whoever wins this matchup will likely get someone in the UFC‘s top five the next time out. Okamoto did note that should the main event have a fighter fall out, either Magny or Chiesa could serve as the backup for the main event.

UFC books return of Santiago Ponzinibbio against Li Jingliang

The UFC is finalizing a big time matchup in their welterweight division. MMA Fighting was first to report that the promotion is finalizing a welterweight contest between Santiago Ponzinibbio (27-3) and Li Jingliang (17-6).

The fight is expected to take place on the first event of 2021 on Fight Island. That UFC card is being headlined by the featherweight showdown between Max Holloway and Calvin Kattar.

The welterweight contest will be the first UFC fight in over two years for Ponzinibbio. Starting in 2015, Ponzinibbio started a run where he looked like he was going to be a serious problem in the UFC‘s welterweight division.

Entering the fight on Fight Island, Ponzinibbio will be carrying in a seven-fight winning streak. In his last fight which took place in 2018, Ponzinibbio knocked out Neil Magny in an incredibly impressive performance.

Injuries and other health issues have kept the Argentinian outside of the octagon for the last couple of years. However, if Ponzinibbio shows that he’s back to his original form on January 16th, the welterweight division has another exciting contender.

UFC Welterweight Matchup

However, getting a victory in his UFC return will not be easy. Ponzinibbio will be taking on the Chinese contender, Li Jingliang. Jingliang fights out of China Top Team and he’s 7-2 in his last nine fights inside the octagon.

We last saw Jingliang back in March when he took on Neil Magny. Both of these welterweight contenders share a final opponent in Magny. However, Jingliang wasn’t nearly as successful as Ponzinibbio was against Magny.

Over the course of three rounds, Magny was able to get the unanimous decision win over Jingliang. This loss snapped a three-fight winning streak for Jingliang inside the UFC. The Leech is getting a good opportunity welcoming Ponzinibbio back into the UFC.

Whoever wins this matchup on January 16th should jump into the rankings in the welterweight division. I’m very excited and curious to see how Ponzinibbio looks after over two years off from competition.

UFC: Dana White says that Abu Dhabi will be the new fight capital; will return in Sept. or Oct.

UFC, Dana White

When UFC President Dana White started talking about Fight Island earlier this year, the fans imaginations ran wild. There were mockups of fights on the beach and fighters making the walk in the sand.

When the UFC announced Fight Island, it was incredible to see what they had put in place. The protocols and the infrastructure was just incredible. Not to mention, the fights were pretty good which kicked off with UFC 251.

White appeared on TMZ today and discussed when the promotion would be making their return to Abu Dhai.

UFC’s New Fight Capital

“Everyone wants to go there. We’re working on fights right now for the next run. Obviously the big international stars will fight over there. This next trip over there, I’ll probably be there for five weeks,” White told TMZ.

It is unclear when the UFC will be returning, but it will probably hinge on the travel status for some of the international fighters. We know for sure that the UFC is planning on UFC 254 being on Fight Island which is headlined by the Khabib – Gaethje title fight.

Again, depending on travel, the first event that could be back on Fight Island is UFC 253. That card is headlined by the Paulo Costa – Israel Adesanya title fight. That fight is tentatively booked for the APEX, but I could see that one switching venues.

White is expecting Abu Dhabi to remain a staple for big fights in the future. “Abu Dhabi is going to be the fight capital of the world. The infrastructure that’s already built and the stuff were talking about, this is going to become a destination if you’re a fight fan.”

No question that the UFC is planning on continuing their partnership with Abu Dhabi for a long time. The pandemic has increased their partnership and I believe we are going to see Abu Dhabi be a main location for big fights for a very long time.

 

 

UFC: Jessica Eye welcomes Jessica Andrade to the flyweight division on Oct. 17

The former UFC strawweight champion has decided to move up in weight. Jessica Andrade (20-8) is moving up to flyweight and taking on former title challenger Jessica Eye (15-8, 1 NC) on October 17th per ESPN.

As Okamoto’s tweet says, Andrade will be competing in her third weight class in the UFC. After starting her career at 135 pounds, she dropped to 115 when that weight class started. Now, it’s on to flyweight.

Eye welcomes another to the UFC flyweight division

For the second consecutive fight, Jessica Eye is going to welcome a former strawweight contender to the flyweight division. She took on Cynthia Calvillo back in June.

In that fight, Eye was not able to get past the wrestling of Calvillo. It was just Eye’s second loss since she had moved to flyweight back in 2018. The other of course being the knockout loss to current UFC flyweight champion, Valentina Shevchenko.

For Andrade, she’s jumping right into the deep end of the UFC‘s flyweight division taking on the fifth ranked contender. We last saw Andrade compete at UFC 251 on Fight Island.

Andrade took a tough loss against former champion, Rose Namajunas. Despite being outclassed early on, Andrade came on strong and really put on a clinic late. However, it was a little too late.

Many people believe that 125 pounds is the ideal weight class for Andrade. She carries a lot of muscle from her days of competing at 135 pounds. Now, she won’t have to worry about cutting the 10 extra pounds.

Andrade might become the best version of herself in the UFC‘s flyweight division. A win for either her or Eye has a big impact on the flyweight division. While I don’t think the winner will be next in line, I think the winner will get a title eliminator in their next outing.

 

UFC: What’s next for Fabricio Werdum?

Last night, Fabricio Werdum (24-9-1) turned back the clock at UFC Fight Island 3. Many (including myself) were doubting the former heavyweight champion ahead of his fight with Alexander Gustafsson.

Werdum returned back in May and looked horrendous against Alexey Oleynik. Werdum was on the final fight of his UFC contract, and he fought like a man with something to prove last night.

UFC or Bellator?

Werdum was able to get Gustafsson’s back early and submit him with an arm bar. A huge win for Werdum who will now enter MMA free agency.

The former UFC champion has recently indicated that he would be walking away from the promotion after last night. Werdum’s legacy is secure inside the UFC after he defeated Cain Velasquez for the heavyweight title at UFC 188.

The logical career move for Werdum would be to go to Bellator MMA. There is no path forward for Werdum inside the UFC‘s heavyweight division. However, Bellator would welcome him right to the top of the division.

Bellator’s heavyweight division lacks star power, Werdum is still a big name. Assuming Werdum makes the jump to Bellator, I wouldn’t be shocked if they gave him the heavyweight champion, Ryan Bader, in his first fight.

Bellator usually likes to push the UFC vets they sign immediately due to the drawing power. Especially former UFC champions that sign with the promotion. No matter what, Werdum can walk away from the promotion with his head held high after last night’s performance.

UFC: Alexander Gustafsson says he previously broke Werdum’s nose in sparring

Alexander Gustaffson, UFC

The UFC will be hosting it’s final card of July from Fight Island this Saturday night. One of the fights that’s got people talking is the heavyweight clash between Alexander Gustafsson (18-6) and Fabricio Werdum (23-9-1).

Ahead of Saturday night, the former training partners’ history has come up. Recently, Gustafsson stated that he hurt Werdum really bad in sparring to the point where Werdum wouldn’t spar him again.

The Mauler’s UFC Heavyweight Debut

Gustafsson has long been one of the best fighters in the world at light heavyweight. He’s climbed to a title shot three times, but has fallen short every time.

After his last fight against Anthony Smith, Gustafsson announced that he would be leaving the sport. However, the retirement was short-lived when it was announced that Gustafsson would be returning as a heavyweight.

In his way is a man he’s familiar with in former UFC heavyweight champion, Werdum. It’s always interesting when people bring up their old training sessions leading up to a fight.

The Mauler also says that he broke the former UFC heavyweight champion’s nose, but Werdum has denied this claim. Werdum has lost two consecutive fights leading up to this fight on Saturday night.

If Werdum wins on Saturday, he might walk away from the sport given the fact that he will be turning 43 the following week. If Gustafsson wins, he’s got a couple of options in front of him.

Gustafsson could make the decision to go back to light heavyweight for another run at the title. On the other hand, a win on Saturday could start a new journey for Gustafsson at heavyweight.

UFC: Major title fights will be coming back to Fight Island

UFC, Dana White

The UFC will be leaving Fight Island to return to the United States this week after a very successful first run in Abu Dhabi.

In speaking with The National, White detailed some of the bigger fights that he has in mind for the UFC‘s return to Abu Dhabi.

“Khabib will be the next…we’re talking about Israel Adesanya vs. Paulo Costa, that fight is happening. Zhang Weili vs. Rose Namajunas is a possibility. All the massive, big fights with literally the champion vs. the No. 1 contender are all looking like Fight Island.”

UFC’s Fall Return

The UFC‘s fall return to Fight Island is going to be massive. I would expect that the first fight we will see booked is the middleweight title fight between Israel Adesanya (19-0) and Paulo Costa (13-0).

The two undefeated fighters have a ton of heat between the two of them. Over the weekend, the fight was prematurely announced for September. However, Dana White said the fight is not official.

Khabib Nurmagomedov (28-0) will be making his return at some point against Justin Gaethje (22-2). The two men will unify the UFC‘s lightweight championship on Fight Island.

Zhang and Namajunas is another massive fight that will happen on Fight Island. There could also be additional title fights that will still be announced in the months to come for Fight Island in the fall.

The UFC will likely have to make most of their big fights on Fight Island with the way that the pandemic is going. The United States is a fluid country with the virus. As a result, I think the UFC might be setting up shop on Fight Island for most of 2020.

Three fights to make after UFC Fight Island 1 and 2

UFC

The UFC held it’s second and third events from Fight Island this week and the fights didn’t disappoint. The promotion is already going to be in matchmaking mode after the two cards.

With that in-mind, let’s dive into four fights that the UFC should look to make following the two Fight Island fight nights from this past week.

Calvin Kattar vs Max Holloway

Calvin Kattar (22-4) came out this week on the UFC‘s Fight Island and put on a clean boxing display against Dan Ige. Kattar proved he was one of the best at 145.

With this win, Kattar appears to be just one win away from a title shot. With that, who should the UFC give him next?

Everyone who is ranked above is tentatively booked for their next fights. Only two are not and that is the champion and Max Holloway (21-6).

Holloway and Kattar would be the perfect fight for the UFC to make assuming that Holloway is staying at featherweight. The former champion just proved he’s still at the very top of the heap even in a loss to Alexander Volkanovski.

This would be Kattar’s true test to see if he’s title shot ready. If Kattar fights and beats Max Holloway, you cannot the deny the man of a title shot.

If Holloway bounces back and beats Kattar, you can start to try to angle for his third shot at the champion Volkanovski.

Deiveson Figueiredo vs Askar Askarov

Last night, we crowned a new flyweight champion in Deiveson Figueiredo (19-1) who stopped Joseph Benavidez for the second consecutive time.

When he did it back in February, he didn’t get the UFC title due to missing weight. However, there was no controversy last night as Figueiredo ran through Benavidez on his way to the title.

Another fighter who looked incredibly impressive last night was Askar Askarov (12-0-1). Admittedly, I didn’t pick Askarov to beat Alexandre Pantoja, but he proved me wrong.

With a win over Panoja, I think that the undefeated Russian should be next in line to fight Figueiredo for the UFC flyweight championship.

Russian MMA is on fire right now with two active champions in the UFC. Askarov could make a push to become the third, then at featherweight Zabit Magomedsharipov could be right behind.

I will say it’s going to take a herculean effort to wrestle the flyweight title away from Figueiredo. Figueiredo looks like he can be Brazil’s next great male UFC champion. He looks poised to potentially dominate the division for a while.

Jack Hermansson vs Romero/Hall winner

Jack Hermansson (21-5) made extremely quick work of Kelvin Gastelum last night at UFC Fight Island 2. The Joker submitted Gastelum in just 78 seconds of their fight.

Hermansson is now 5-1 in his last six fights in the UFC. There’s not really a clear path for his next fight, but I think I see a potential matchup coming after the month of August.

Yoel Romero (13-5) and Uriah Hall (15-9) are scheduled to fight next month. I think Hermansson could face the winner of that matchup.

In all likelihood, the winner of Whittaker/Till will get the next title shot, and I can’t see the UFC remaking Hermansson/Cannonier right now. Yoel Romero would be the next step up for Hermansson.

Hermansson is getting closer to a title shot. He’s going to need one or two wins coming against someone in or near the top five to make it happen. A win over Romero/Hall would get him halfway there.

The UFC’s week ahead

The UFC is going to be firing on all cylinders this week. Dana White said this week that he was hoping to get the UFC‘s schedule through October/November done by Friday. We should see some big news this week coming from the promotion.

 

UFC: Could Khamzat Chimaev fight again next weekend?

One of the more dominating victories that came out of the two fight nights this week from the UFC‘s Fight Island was the victory from Khamzat Chimaev (7-0).

The Swedish born fighter has drawn comparisons to UFC lightweight champion, Khabib Nurmagomedov, with his mauling style. One thing the promotion already loves about him is his hunger. Apparently, Chimaev envisions a quick turnaround.

“He asked me that night for another fight,” UFC president Dana White said this weekend. “I said why not? Yeah. All right. Let’s do it… So Mick (Maynard) is working on that now.

UFC’s Next Mauler

Chimaev’s debut was something to behold. John Phillips is a tough guy, but Chmaev ragdolled him like it was nothing. The striking numbers were one of the more lopsided in MMA history. Chimaev scored a 10-7 round in the first round of their fight.

The UFC will have their work cut out for them in finding Chimaev a fight on such short notice. I’m not sure who is on Fight Island already, but with only six days to go, the UFC will have to work quickly.

Chimaev strikes me as the kind of guy who really does not care who the UFC puts in front of him. Much like Nurmagomedov, Chimaev’s style is going to be extremely difficult for people to deal with.

His style is also one that could fight anyone at anytime and be very effective. I’m very excited to watch Chimaev fight next. We could be looking at the UFC‘s first Swedish born champion in Khamzat Chimaev.

UFC: Is Khamzat Chimaev the next Khabib?

Last night, the UFC hosted their second successful event on Fight Island. The card delivered from top to bottom with great action.

There were many standouts on the card, but there was one fighter who stood above the rest in my opinion. That fighter was Khamzat Chimaev (7-0) who smashed John Phillips (22-10, 1 NC) for two rounds before submitting him with a D’Arce choke.

The UFC’s Khabib 2.0?

As Chimaev walked out last night, the commentators said that people compare him to UFC lightweight champion, Khabib Nurmagomedov (28-0). Those are lofty comparisons for someone making their UFC debut.

However, it was apparent very early into the fight that the comparisons were warrented. Chimaev opened with a wild kick that transitioned beautifully to a takedown. Once on the ground, Chimaev unloaded shots on Phillips.

As Ariel Helwani tweeted, Chimaev landed 124 strikes in just over one round of action. I thought I was watching a bigger version of Nurmagomedov when I was watching Chimaev make his debut.

Chimaev has this ground aggressiveness about him where he wants to, “smash,” his opponents. It is very evident as to why the UFC wanted to pick him up.

From here, it’ll be interesting to see what the UFC does with Chimaev. Chimaev stated that he would like to fight at his normal weight class which is welterweight in his next fight. He even called out Donald Cerrone.

One thing is for sure, Chimaev is definitely a name to keep your eyes on. You can check out some of his highlights below.