UFC headliner between Jan Blachowicz and Aleksandar Rakic is off

Corey Anderson

Bad news for UFC fans in Ohio that were expecting to see a potential title eliminator in the light heavyweight division in March. Ariel Helwani was the first to report this afternoon that the matchup between former champion Jan Blachowicz (28-9) and Aleksandar Rakic (14-2) is off.

The two men were expecting to headline the March 26th Fight Night that was set to take place in Ohio. It was the first UFC Fight Night that was going to have a full arena in the United States since the pandemic started.

Helwani reported that the former light heavyweight champion has been forced to withdraw. It’s not known yet the reasoning or how long Blachowicz will be out of action. However, the UFC is wanting to rebook this fight.

With that in mind, Rakic will be off the card altogether. Of course, that means that the promotion is going to need a new headlining fight and I guarantee the UFC is off and running with figuring that out.

UFC Headliner

With this being the first US Fight Night with a full arena since the pandemic started, you have to imagine that the UFC wants to do it big. Michelle Waterson and Amanda Ribas are the co-main event, but I can’t imagine they will move that up to the main event.

The UFC has done that in the past with Waterson, however, this card seems too big for that. With that in mind, what is a potential main event that the promotion could shift towards.

Well, there’s one big fight that jumps out to me immediately. That would be the welterweight contest between Gilbert Burns (20-4) and Khamzat Chimaev (10-0). This is a fight that the UFC wants to make and both men want the fight.

Burns has been calling for it to be a main event and the delay has likely been caused by trying to find a date that didn’t already have a main event. It was likely going to take place in April or May, but I could see the UFC moving it up given this news.

Time will tell, but considering we are just about two months out, I would expect that we will know sooner than later.

UFC books Clay Guida – Claudio Puelles

The UFC has finalized a lightweight matchup that will mark the 2022 debut of one of the more beloved fighters in the division. Fordewin MMA was the first to report over the weekend that the promotion has finalized a lightweight battle between Clay Guida (37-21) and Claudia Puelles (11-2).

The matchup will take place at a UFC Fight Night on April 23rd. This is a massive fight for Puelles who will be looking to pick up his fifth straight win. After starting out his career 7-1, the UFC signed Puelles back in 2016. However, his debut didn’t go well.

After losing his debut, Puelles completely turned things around. After that loss, he’s won four straight to earn him this shot against a guy like Clay Guida. Puelles hasn’t been the most active guy since making his UFC debut, but he had a very strong 2021.

After nearly two years away from the octagon, Puelles returned last June when he took on the previously unbeaten Jordan Leavitt. He won that fight by decision. Then he fought at a UFC Fight Night on December 4th and submitted Chris Gruetzemacher. Now, he gets the biggest fight of his career in April.

UFC Fight Night

Clay Guida entered 2021 on a two-fight losing streak. Given the losing streak and his age, there were a lot of questions surrounding The Carpenter. However, he answered all the doubters and had himself a very strong 2021 UFC campaign.

He started the year in February taking on Michael Johnson. After winning that fight by decision, he got a fight with Mark Madsen in August. The fight was incredibly close and he lost a split decision. However, he bounced back strongly by submitting Leonardo Santos in December.

Had one judge felt differently, Clay Guida could’ve gone 3-0 in the UFC in 2021. Guida showed in his last fight that he doesn’t plan on slowing down at all. Now, he’s taking on a tough young contender and will look to pick up his third win in his last four fights.

UFC books Johnny Walker – Jamahal Hill

The UFC has finalized a date for a banger of a light heavyweight matchup. MMA Fighting confirmed that the planned matchup between Johnny Walker (18-6) and Jamahal Hill (9-1, 1 NC) will take place on February 19th at a UFC Fight Night.

Walker will be looking to bounce back after his last fight. Walker had his first UFC main event when he took on former title challenger Thiago Santos. He didn’t have the best night and Santos was able to walk away with a decision victory.

That loss has seen Walker fall to 1-3 in his last four UFC appearances. When Walker first joined the promotion, he got off to a blistering start by winning his first three fights by first round knockout. However, he injured himself during a victory celebration and really hasn’t been the same.

He was stopped by Corey Anderson and has suffered two additional decision losses. In between there was an impressive win over Ryan Spann, however, he hasn’t been able to maintain the steam he had early on in his UFC career. This fight against Hill is massive for him.

UFC’s Rising Prospect

Jamahal Hill earned a UFC contract on Dana White’s Contender Series and has made a big impact on the light heavyweight division. After earning his contract, he started out 2-0, 1 NC. That included a knockout win over OSP.

The OSP knockout win earned him a spot against Paul Craig at UFC 263. Going into that fight, Hill wanted to keep things standing for a reason and that played out in the first round. Craig was able to pull guard and actually dislocated Hill’s arm for the win.

After that loss, Hill was booked against Jimmy Crute at a UFC Fight Night. Hill made a massive statement by knocking out Crute in the first minute of the fight. That win has earned him this shot against Johnny Walker.

If he’s able to get the win against Walker next month, I would expect a big step up for Hill in terms of his UFC competition. Hill looks like he can become a top contender and a win over Johnny Walker will show that he’s getting closer to that level.

UFC booking Sodiq Yusuff – Alex Caceres

The UFC has finalized a fun matchup in the featherweight division. MMA Junkie was the first to report this afternoon that the promotion had finalized a matchup between “Super” Sodiq Yusuff (11-2) and Alex Caceres (19-12).

The matchup will take place at a UFC Fight Night on March 12th. This is a big matchup for Yusuff who will be looking to bounce back after his first loss with the promotion.

Yusuff earned himself a UFC contract after appearing on Dana White’s Contender Series back in 2018. After winning on the show, Yusuff won his first four UFC fights. The biggest win came against Andre Fili.

In his last fight, he took on another top prospect in Arnold Allen. It was the first time we’ve really seen Yusuff struggle inside the octagon. Allen won a decision and now Yusuff will look to bounce back against the streaking veteran ‘Bruce Leeroy’.

UFC run for Caceres

It’s crazy to believe that Caceres has been with the UFC since 2011. When making his debut, Caceres was 5-2 and fresh off The Ultimate Fighter. Caceres didn’t win the show and he lost his first fight with the UFC.

Through his first eighteen fights with the promotion, Caceres was 9-9. However, he recently hit a stretch and he’s been incredibly impressive. It all started with his decision win over Steven Peterson back in 2019.

After that, he picked apart former top prospect Chase Hooper. After the Hooper win, he’s won three additional fights including two submissions. His winning streak now stands at five and he’s being rewarded with this matchup against Yusuff.

This is a massive opportunity for Bruce Leeroy. If he’s able to defeat Yusuff, he’s likely going to be looking at a top ten opponent in his next fight. This fight means a ton for both guys and it should be a very entertaining scrap.

UFC: Neil Magny Calls Matchup With Robbie Lawler ‘Even Better’

Robbie Lawler

UFC welterweight Neil Magny will fight in the co-main event of the upcoming Fight Night event on the 29th, but that almost wasn’t the case. That’s because his opponent was originally Geoff Neal, who was forced to withdraw from the bout earlier this month because of a sudden health scare. In fact, Neal went as far as to say on Instagram that he almost died.

Missing the fight under those circumstances is perfectly understandable, but it left Magny without an opponent. That is, until the matchmakers came through with an interesting bout involving a former champion.

Robbie Lawler has three straight losses and it’s been a little over a year since his last fight, but he’s giving it another go and Magny is the opponent this time. And according to Magny, it’s a matchup he’s excited for.

Neil Magny calls the fight with Lawler an even better opportunity

“It caught me a little off-guard. First, when I got the email about Geoff Neal falling out, I was kind of bummed and it was like, ‘Hey, man. Geoff Neal fell out of the fight; we’re keeping you on standby. The next day was like, ‘Hey, Robbie Lawler wants to fight,’ and I was like, ‘Holy crap. This is even better,’” Magny told MMAJunkie during a virtual media event.

Magny is currently looking to climb in a tough division. He’s near the bottom of the top fifteen, but with some of the other names in the division, that’s not a bad spot. The higher positions are closely contested, but Magny thinks a win over Lawler would elevate him.

He claimed a win would definitely put him in the top 10. He also claimed it would put him on the path to getting a title shot in the future.

“If I go out there and put on a great performance against him, then I’m fighting guys in the top 10 and moving closer to that title shot. I’m not going to be as naive and say I beat Robbie Lawler on Saturday and I’m getting a title shot on Monday,” Magny admitted, while remaining optimistic. “I know there’s some work to be done as far as working my way through ranks and that kind of thing, but a win over Robbie Lawler definitely propels me in the right direction.”

Lawler’s last fight was a defeat against Colby Covington during August of last year. Magny, on the other hand, is on his second straight victory and last defeated Anthony Rocco Martin as recently as June at UFC 250.

Both of those wins came this year, giving Magny good momentum to break into the top 10 going into the last stretch of 2020.

UFC: Is Khamzat Chimaev Overhyped?

Khamzat Chimaev exploded onto the hype train after his destruction of John Phillips at UFC Fight Night 172. Not only did Chimaev dominate Phillips, but he also crushed Rhys Mckee just 10 days later. Chimaev only absorbed 2 strikes during 2 fights, that’s unbelievable. But, Chimaev has recently started taking his callouts to twitter and now seems like a Dillion Danis type character (not saying that Danis is good). Chimaev has called for McGregor, Diaz, and Masvidal all in the same night. I think the kid is getting way too far ahead of himself and should win more fights before going for the top dogs.

The Johnny Walker Effect

UFC fans know to never overhype a prospect after what happened to Johnny Walker. For those who don’t know, Johnny Walker was pegged as the Light Heavyweight who was finally going to end Jon Jones’ reign as champ. Walker was handing out Knockouts in the first round left and right. Walker knocked out the best of fighters like Khalil Rountree Jr, Justin Ledet, and Misha Cirukunov. Do you see why he was overhyped? Walker fought actual nobodies and won because he was better than nothing but less than something. Walker lost immediately in his first real challenge against Corey Anderson and then lost again to Nikita Krylov. Chimaev has fought literally nobody in the promotion yet. This isn’t discrediting his dominating wins, but it takes away from their steam.

Fighting Style

Chimaev’s fighting style is “pick the other fighter up, bring him to my corner, and ground and pound for the win”. A high-class opponent like Khabib Nurmagomedov or Kamaru Usman, won’t let that happen. Chimaev will have to change his style of fighting if he wants to be a double champ like he says.

Conclusion

I myself, am a big fan of Chimaev, but I’m worried that the UFC fans are overhyping this diamond. Chimaev cannot be “gassed up” to fight real primetime fighters just yet. Chimaev should fight a top 15 opponent in his next fight though, someone like Neil Magny.