UFC booking Paul Craig – Jamahal Hill

The UFC is finalizing a fantastic matchup in the light heavyweight division. MMA Junkie was first to report that the promotion is booking a matchup between Paul Craig (14-4-1) and Jamahal Hill (8-0, 1 NC).

The matchup between the two top fifteen contenders is expected to take place on March 20th. Craig will enter the octagon looking to pick up his third straight victory in the UFC. He hasn’t tasted defeat in his last four fights.

During that span, Craig has gone 3-0-1 with the draw coming against Shogun Rua. Craig was able to get that fight back at UFC 255 when he forced Shogun to tap out due to strikes.

Paul Craig has only tasted defeat twice since 2018 and those losses came to Alonzo Menifield and Jimmy Crute. Craig has some impressive wins including a last second triangle choke over rising contender, Magomed Ankalaev.

Craig has some decent overall skills, but he’s really known for his grappling ability. His triangle chokes are sensational especially considering he’s a light heavyweight. Half of his professional wins have come via triangle choke.

UFC Light Heavyweight Battle

Standing across from Craig on March 20th is one of the more exciting prospects in the UFC‘s light heavyweight division. There are many people in the promotion that are excited about Sweet Dreams, Jamahal Hill.

Hill will come into the contest on March 20th riding a ton of momentum. He would be coming into this fight on a two-fight knockout streak, however his knockout win over Klidson Abreu was overturned to a No Contest due to a positive drug test for marijuana.

However, I’m wondering if that might change. The UFC just announced that they will no longer punish fighters for positive tests for marijuana finally. Nevertheless, it stands as a No Contest for now.

Hill took on Ovince St. Preux back in December and he completely destroyed him. He picked up the second round TKO and put the light heavyweight division on notice. Paul Craig will be another big test for Hill. Should Hill win this one, the UFC’s light heavyweight division has a new and shiny contender.

UFC books Johnny Walker – Jimmy Crute

We have our first UFC match making news of 2021. ESPN’s Brett Okamoto was first to report this afternoon that the promotion is finalizing a banger of a matchup at light heavyweight between Johnny Walker (18-5) and Jimmy Crute (12-1).

The fight is expected to take place on March 27th. Both of these light heavyweight fighters rank inside the top 12 of the UFC‘s rankings at 205. Both are also two of the more exciting young contenders at light heavyweight.

Johnny Walker will try to make it two in a row when he makes the walk on March 27th. Walker was being looked at as one of the best prospects in the UFC in 2019. The Brazilian stormed onto the UFC scene in 2018.

After being awarded a contract on Dana White’s Contender Series, Walker made his UFC debut against Khalil Rountree. Walker knocked out Rountree in under two minutes. His next two fights both ended in under a minute.

The UFC moved him up to face Corey Anderson at UFC 244. Walker was the favorite, however, he ended up getting finished in the first round. He then lost a second straight fight to Nikita Krylov back in March. He did bounce back to knockout Ryan Spann in September.

Big UFC matchup at Light Heavyweight

Standing across from Walker will be The Brute, Jimmy Crute. Crute had a great 2020 where he won two fights by first round stoppage. One by submission then one by knockout back in October.

Crute is being looked at as one of the best prospects in the UFC. The Australian light heavyweight contender is just 24 years old. However, he has tremendous skills on the ground and on the feet as he showed in 2020.

This fight will be a big test for Crute. He’s in a very good position because if he doesn’t win, it won’t set him back a ton. However, if he’s able to beat Johnny Walker, he will be vaulted into the top ten with another big fight ahead of him.

This is a very big fight for the UFC’s light heavyweight division. With Jon Jones out of the picture and Israel Adesanya moving up to challenge Jan Blachowicz at UFC 259, the division is entering a new day. Undoubtedly, both of these men are big prospects for the future of 205.

UFC: Jon Jones says he’s never returning to light heavyweight

UFC, Jon Jones

Earlier this year, Jon Jones (26-1, 1 NC) vacated his UFC light heavyweight championship. Jones decided to vacate the title to pursue a new challenge in the heavyweight division. He first captured the light heavyweight title in 2011.

Jon Jones might be the greatest fighter the UFC has ever seen. Jones has never truly lost inside the octagon. His lone loss is a disqualification loss to Matt Hamill in a fight that he was completely dominating.

Outside of that, he’s rarely been challenged over the last 12 years in the UFC. In reality, Jon Jones has been the only opponent that has been detrimental to Jon Jones. Jones’ issues outside the cage have cost him time in his career and his title a couple of times.

Nevertheless, Jones has overcome those issues and had a great stretch over the last two years in the octagon. All starting at UFC 232 when he finished Alexander Gustafsson to regain the light heavyweight title.

After that he defeated Anthony Smith, Thiago Santos, and Dominick Reyes by decision. Not the most dominant performances, but in the end, they show up as successful UFC title defenses for Jones.

Jones has been so dominant that he appeared bored at times when fighting. In my opinion, this boredom or lack of fear caused for some bad performances. Still, he’s come through all of his fights with his hand raised.

UFC Future for Jones

Jon Jones is in the process of building up his body for his next chapter in the UFC‘s heavyweight division. In an exclusive interview with Bleacher Report, Jones discussed the decision to move to heavyweight and vacate the light heavyweight title.

“The reason why I decided to vacate the light heavyweight belt and not hang onto it is that I knew my move to heavyweight was going to take a really long time. I have no intentions of ever going back to light heavyweight,” Jones said.

Jones also said that the current plan is for him to face the winner of the UFC heavyweight title fight between Stipe Miocic (20-3) and Francis Ngannou (15-3). Those two are expected to fight in March with Jones fighting the winner in the summer or fall.

Jones also talked about the challenge of both saying, “I’ll be ready for either of them. Both fights are extremely challenging. Stipe, he’s the greatest heavyweight of all time. And then Francis is just a freak when it comes to his knockout power, and he’s improving constantly.”

He then added, “Both fights are gigantic challenges, but that’s what I’m here for in this stage of my career. Go big and see what I’ve got.” Jon Jones understands that capturing the UFC heavyweight title would cement him as the greatest to ever do it.

He said he wants to capture the title then defend it two or three times before retiring from the UFC. Outside of the heavyweight title is of course the potential matchup with rival Israel Adesanya (20-0).

Adesanya is moving up to fight Jan Blachowicz (27-8) for the light heavyweight title at UFC 259. If Adesanya wins and Jones wins, the UFC might try to make a superfight. It would be the first time a two-division champion would take on another champion.

State of the UFC’s light heavyweight division entering 2021

Corey Anderson

Last night, we got big announcement for the light heavyweight division. At UFC 259, Jan Blachowicz (27-8) will be defending his light heavyweight crown against the middleweight champion, Israel Adesanya (20-0).

It’s a massive fight with huge implications for the UFC‘s light heavyweight division. 2020 has been a very fascinating year at 205 pounds. When the year started, Jon Jones (26-1, 1 NC) was getting ready to defend his title against Dominick Reyes (12-2).

The fight took place at UFC 247. Reyes pushed Jones to the absolute limit and many believed that he won that fight. However, all three judges awarded Jones the decision and Jones walked away with his title.

Shortly after that, Jan Blachowicz knocked out Corey Anderson who was looked at as the next top contender. Jones was in attendance and the two men did a little talking through the cage. It appeared that would be the next title fight.

However, Jones decided to vacate his UFC light heavyweight title to pursue the heavyweight title. When Jones vacated, the promotion booked Blachowicz against Dominick Reyes for the vacant title at UFC 253.

Dominick Reyes was an uncrowned champion in the eyes of many in the MMA community after his fight with Jones. However, his uncrowned reign didn’t last long because Blachowicz knocked him out in the second round to capture the light heavyweight title.

UFC’s light heavyweight division in 2021

As mentioned, we already have the first title fight booked for UFC 259. Now, depending on who wins that fight, there are different fights that could be booked. If Blachowicz retains his title, Glover Teixeira (32-7) will be next.

The 41 year old Teixeira is riding a five-fight winning streak. He had an incredible 2020 where he finished former title challengers Anthony Smith (34-16) and Thiago Santos (21-8). However, he’s being passed over for Adesanya at this time.

The UFC has said that he’s the next contender, but the promotion is always about booking the biggest fights. While it’s not fair to Teixeira, his fight against Blachowicz is no where near as big as Adesanya moving up.

If Adesanya wins at UFC 259, I don’t see Teixeira getting the next shot. The reason is that I think the UFC will do everything they can to book the fight between Adesanya and Jon Jones should Adesanya capture the light heavyweight title.

Jones is intent on becoming heavyweight champion over the summer. Imagine a fall blockbuster that pairs the two-division champion, Adesanya, against the new heavyweight champion, Jon Jones.

That is the current status at the very top of the division. The contender I have my eyes on as we enter 2021 is Jiri Prochazka (27-3-1). Prochazka hasn’t lost in five years and he made his debut with the promotion at UFC 251.

He’s a very entertaining fighter and he put Volkan Oezdemir to sleep when they fought. He fights Dominick Reyes in February in a pivotal matchup for the division. 2021 is going to be interesting year for the light heavyweights.

I honestly don’t know what path the division is going to go down. The paths are vastly different depending on who wins at UFC 259 between Blachowicz and Adesanya.

Anthony Johnson on his UFC return: “I’m trying to bury everybody”

Anthony Rumble Johnson

One of the most terrifying knockout artist in the history of the UFC is getting ready for his return. Anthony “Rumble” Johnson (22-6) will be returning to action in 2021 after retiring back in 2017.

Back at UFC 210, Rumble was submitted for the second time by Daniel Cormier. Cormier turned away Rumble in his only two attempts to capture the UFC light heavyweight championship. After the second fight, Rumble announced his retirement. 

He stated in his post-fight interview that he wanted to focus on other things. However, it seems that Rumble has caught that fighting passion again. He’s not playing with this comeback that was announced a few months ago.

Johnson entered the USADA testing pool and should be eligible to fight in March. He made it no secret that he’s planning on taking down whatever’s in his way at 205. In an interview he posted on his Instagram page, Rumble made no secrets about his plan.

When asked about who he’s targeting in the UFC, Johnson replied, “Everybody. I’m not going to call out just one person. I’m trying to buy everybody.” Terrifying words from the knockout artist.

Rumble’s UFC return

We are getting closer and closer to Rumble Johnson making his return to the UFC. He’s doing it at a great time considering the light heavyweight division is wide open. Jon Jones vacated the title to move up to heavyweight and the division has a new king.

Jan Blachowicz reigns over the light heavyweights at the moment. The Polish Power is on an incredible run and he’s got a bigtime fight in the works with the current UFC middleweight champion, Israel Adesanya.

When it comes to contenders at light heavyweight, the number one contender is Glover Teixeira. Teixeira has gone on an incredible run of winning five consecutive fights. If Adesanya wasn’t moving up, Glover would be getting a UFC title shot.

However, with Adesanya getting the next shot at Blachowicz, Teixeira will have to wait his turn. It’s worth noting that Teixeira was knocked out in 14 seconds by Rumble Johnson. Not saying they would, but maybe the UFC asks Glover if he wants a rematch while he waits.

However, I don’t think that fight’s likely. Another option for Johnson could be a guy like Johnny Walker. Would be a winnable fight for Rumble, but a fun one for fans.

One thing is for sure, I expect a big name in Rumble’s UFC return. If he comes back and looks like he did a few years ago, he’s only one win away from a title shot in my eyes.

UFC: Jan Blachowicz eyeing a future move to heavyweight

Corey Anderson

The UFC‘s light heavyweight champion doesn’t plan on staying at 205 for the rest of the career. Poland’s Jan Blachowicz sees his title reign at light heavyweight ultimately leading him to the UFC‘s heavyweight division.

The UFC‘s Polish Power has turned around his career in a major way over the past couple of years. If you go back to 2017, you will find a dejected Jan Blachowicz who had just lost his second consecutive fight in the octagon.

After losing a majority decision to Patrick Cummins, Blachowicz knew he needed to take his career more serious. He really started to focus and train harder than he ever had before. The results since have been astonishing.

Since that loss to Cummins at UFC 210, Blachowicz has gone 8-1 with the only loss coming to former title challenger Thiago Santos. Somehow, Blachowicz seems to be getting better and better with age.

Blachowicz will turn 38 in February of next year. However, he’s on a stretch that proves that age is just a number. In his last four fights, Blachowicz has defeated Luke Rockhold, Jacare Souza, Corey Anderson, and Dominick Reyes. He won three of those by knockout.

UFC’s future heavyweight?

This run has seem Blachowicz reach the mountain top and become UFC light heavyweight champion. However, he’s still not satisfied. Blachowicz is disappointed that he never got the chance to fight Jon Jones.

Jones vacated the UFC light heavyweight title this year when Blachowicz was the number one contender. Blachowicz told Submission Radio that he believes the UFC‘s pound for pound GOAT is dodging him because he knows he will lose.

“That’s (A fight against me) gonna be his first loss at heavyweight. I’ll give him first loss at 205, or maybe heavyweight. We will see. But, he does everything to not fight against me.”

When asked about a potential move to heavyweight, Blachowicz said, “I would like to stay in 205 a little bit longer. But it’s also hard because nobody knows what Jon Jones is doing right now. I think two more years at 205 and then I will go to heavyweight.”

The UFC‘s light heavyweight champion made it clear that he wants to move up to chase Jon Jones. However, he acknowledged that there’s two roadblocks in his way. He must first defeat Israel Adesanya and Glover Teixiera before he moves up.

“First of all, I have to win against Glover or Israel, and after this fight we can talk about Jon Jones. I don’t care. I believe I catch him (Jones) in future somewhere, at 205 or at heavyweight.”

UFC Vegas 15 Preview: Anthony Smith – Devin Clark

Anthony Smith

In the co-main event of tomorrow night’s UFC Vegas 15 card, we have a light heavyweight contest which features a former title challenger. Anthony “Lionheart” Smith (33-16) will be taking on Devin “Brown Bear” Clark (12-4) in his 50th professional fight.

That number is truly astonishing considering the former UFC title challenger is only 32 years old. Nevertheless, Smith will be making the walk for the 50th time as he’s looking to bounce back after two consecutive losses in the octagon.

Clark on the other hand is looking to break into the UFC‘s top 15. The Jackson-Wink product has won back to back fights to push his overall record to 12-4. Clark has been tested in his UFC career against some of the best including Aleksandar Rakic and current champ, Jan Blachowicz.

Of course, Clark came up short in both of those fights. However, I’ve seen a lot of improvement in his last couple of outings. Sure, the competition level wasn’t extremely high, but he seems to be heading in the right direction.

Smith on the other hand is heading in the wrong direction. Two consecutive losses for Smith have had him contemplating his UFC career. Smith looked fantastic in the first couple of rounds against Glover Teixiera. However, since then, he’s been dominated in seven rounds since.

UFC Vegas 15 Preview

When thinking about the UFC Vegas 15 co-main event, this should be a win for Anthony Smith. However, the key word in that sentence is that it should be Anthony Smith. I really think Smith has a very solid overall game.

We’ve seen him look good on the feet and he’s shown off good submission skills in the UFC. However, he just looked completely out of it in his last fight against Aleksandar Rakic. Sure, he was hurt with leg kicks, but mentally he looked checked out.

Tomorrow night will all come down to which Anthony Smith we get. Devin Clark is going to push forward and try to take Smith down. We’ve seen Smith fold to the point where he accepts getting taken down then shows no urgency to get back up.

If that happens tomorrow night, we are going to see Clark pickup another decision win. However, if we see some urgency out of Smith, I think he can score enough points on the feet and win some scrambles to get the decision.

I think that this fight is going to go the distance. Again, UFC Vegas 15 will come down to which Anthony Smith we get. I think he’s going to show just enough urgency to squeak out an extremely narrow split decision, but I’m not confident in that pick.

Prediction: Anthony Smith by Split Decision

UFC 255 Preview: Shogun Rua – Paul Craig 2

Shogun Rua

Kicking off the main card of UFC 255 tomorrow is a rematch in the light heavyweight division. Former light heavyweight champion, Mauricio “Shogun” Rua (27-11-1), will be taking on Paul Craig (13-4-1). The fight is a rematch from last November.

The two men previously fought to a split draw last year. Since then the former UFC light heavyweight champion, Rua, fought back on Fight Island when he concluded his trilogy with Antonio Rogero Nogueira.

Rua won that fight by split decision. The former champion is now 2-0-1 in his last three fights, however, he hasn’t looked incredibly impressive in those performances. Shogun will head into tomorrow night as the 14th ranked light heavyweight in the UFC.

Craig on the other hand will come into the fight 15th. Paul Craig is known for one that and that is submitting his opponents. Out of his 13 professional wins, only one of them hasn’t been a submission. Craig has only gone the distance once in his professional career and that was against Shogun.

UFC 255 Prediction

This is such an interesting fight to think about. Both men are inside the top 15 of the UFC‘s light heavyweight division, however, both are in vastly different career positions. Shogun is clearly on his way out the door in his fighting career.

Meanwhile, Craig is looking to take another step forward to getting to fight top ten competition. I think that we are going to learn a lot about this fight in the opening round tomorrow night.

If the former UFC light heavyweight champion can establish his leg kicks early and maintain good striking distance, he’s got a great chance. Craig is the bigger man, but his striking isn’t anything to write home about.

While Shogun is a black belt in Jiu Jitsu, Craig wants to get this fight to the mat. He should have a big advantage on the mat and we have seen Shogun submitted before. Shogun’s cardio concerned me in his last fight, but we’ve only seen Craig go the distance once.

I’m honestly not sure who will have the cardio advantage. When making a prediction, I think that Craig is going to be able to get this fight to the ground. I think his strength on the ground will prevail and he will get the win over the former UFC champion.

Prediction: Paul Craig by Submission (Arm-Triangle Choke) – Round 2

The UFC’s Light Heavyweight Dilemma

Corey Anderson

The UFC has a very complicated situation that is developing in their light heavyweight division. It all started back in the summer when Jon Jones announced that he would be vacating the light heavyweight championship following his incredible run.

Jones said he wanted to focus on capturing the UFC‘s heavyweight title. Following Jones’ departure, the UFC announced that Jan Blachowicz and Dominick Reyes would fight for the vacant light heavyweight championship.

Blachowicz went on to knock out Reyes to capture the title back at UFC 253. A fight was setup to take place before this matchup between Glover Teixeira and Thiago Santos. The fight was looked at as a title eliminator. The winner was said to be in line to face Blachowicz next year for the undisputed light heavyweight championship.

However, a wrench was thrown into the plans here. Last week it was announced that Israel Adesanya would be moving up for a UFC light heavyweight championship match. He’s expected to take on Jan Blachowicz at some point early next year.

Last Saturday at UFC Vegas 13, Glover Teixeira defeated Thiago Santos. The 41 year old won his fifth straight fight making him the clear number one contender in the light heavyweight division. However, because of the Adesanya fight, we have no idea when Teixeira will actually get a shot.

UFC’s Current Situation

When it comes to selling, Israel Adesanya challenging for the title is much bigger than Glover Teixeira for the UFC. Adesanya is a superstar who has the chance to become an even bigger star by capturing his second championship.

For the sake of the article, let’s say that Adesanya is able to defeat Blachowicz next year to capture the title. Glover Teixeira will just get the first crack at Adesanya right? Unfortunately for the 41 year old contender, it’s not that easy.

Adesanya recently said that he would still plan on fighting at 185 and defending both titles if he were to win. There’s a good chance that he would move back down after capturing the light heavyweight title to rematch with Robert Whittaker.

Even if he decides to stay at 205 for back-to-back fights, the likelihood that Teixeira would get the first title shot is low. If Adesanya defeats Blachowicz, the UFC will likely do everything they can to book the Adesanya – Jon Jones fight.

This would be the biggest fight that the promotion could possibly make. However, it would be at the expense of Glover Teixeira. With the Adesanya – Blachowicz fight in the works, the best thing for Glover’s chances is a Blachowicz win. However, if Adesanya wins, God only knows when Teixeira will actually get the shot he deserves.

UFC Vegas 13 Preview: Thiago Santos – Glover Teixeira

Tomorrow night, the UFC returns for their thirteenth live event at the APEX. In the main event of the evening, Thiago Santos (21-7) will take on Glover Teixeira (31-7) in a battle of two top ranked light heavyweight contenders.

Originally, this fight was looked at as a title eliminator. After Jan Blachowicz defeated Dominick Reyes at UFC 253, this winner of this fight was supposed to get the title shot. Originally, this fight was supposed to take place in August.

Then it was supposed to take place in early October on Fight Island. However, a battle with COVID-19 for both men pushed the fight back twice. That’s how we landed on the two headlining the UFC Vegas 13 card.

However, due to the fight being pushed back a few times, Blachowicz has found himself a new opponent. The UFC is planning on booking Blachowicz against middleweight champion, Israel Adesanya. Thus, the winner of tomorrow night, will have to wait their turn.

The turn of events makes you feel really bad for both men. Neither one of them could control getting sick, but because of the delays, a sexier fight for the UFC has appeared. While tomorrow’s fight is still big, the significance has gone down a little for the UFC.

UFC Vegas 13 Prediction

I have been very excited about this fight for a while. If you would have asked me who I thought was going to win about a year ago, I would have told you that Santos would win easily. Santos looked extremely good in his title shot against Jon Jones.

He fought that fight essentially on one leg after tearing his knee apart. Teixeira is 41 years old, but somehow he’s turned his career around. Four straight victories for the former title challenger have put him right back in the UFC‘s title picture.

In my opinion, Teixeira needs to try to grapple tomorrow night. He can hold his own on his feet, but a fully healthy Thiago Santos is a tough guy to deal with when it comes to striking. I’m expecting Teixeira to try to use his wrestling to get the fight to the ground.

However, Santos has proven that he’s not the easiest person in the world to get to the ground. I think Santos is going to be able to keep this one standing, and I think he’s going to make a big statement tomorrow night about why he should be the next UFC title challenger.

Prediction: Thiago Santos by TKO – Round 3