UFC: Zabit Magomedsharipov’s career potentially in jeopardy

Zabit Magomedsharipov, UFC

One of the best featherweights in the UFC might have to call it a career. Zabit Magomedsharipov (18-1) has been out of the octagon since November of 2019 and was recently removed from the UFC‘s featherweight rankings.

Magomedsharipov was removed from the rankings due to his inactivity. However, it’s recent health issues that are putting Magomedsharipov’s career in jeopardy. MMA DNA reported over the weekend that Magomedsharipov’s career could be in trouble.

The UFC featherweight’s manager put out a statement regarding the status of his client. You can read the message in it’s entirety below. As you can read, it’s not looking great for the top UFC featherweight.

Prior to his absence from the octagon, Magomedsharipov looked like he was a future champion. Magomedsharipov had all the skills you would need to be a champion from his grappling to his unique striking.

The Dagestan native had gone a perfect 6-0 in the UFC with wins over Jeremy Stephens and Calvin Kattar prior to his lengthy layoff. Magomedsharipov was scheduled to face off against Yair Rodriguez last August. However, that fight fell through when Rodriguez suffered an ankle injury. 

What’s next for Magomedsharipov and the UFC?

For now, the primary concern is getting Magomedsharipov healthy. Magomedsharipov might have to undergo surgery to try and fix some of the issues he’s having and that will give him an idea of if he can resume his UFC career.

Zabit was knocking on the door of a title shot prior to all of this happening. His managers had been stating that he wanted to be next for the title, however, he was behind Max Holloway and Brian Ortega in the pecking order.

Magomedsharipov has long been linked to Yair Rodriguez, but that fight has fallen through every time it was booked. Now, Rodriguez is fighting Max Holloway in what appears to be a UFC title eliminator. 

Obviously, there’s no telling when Magomedsharipov will be able to return. Upon his return, I would give him someone in the top ten, but I wouldn’t rush him right back to the top. It’s going to be a while before we see Zabit challenge for a UFC title if he is able to resume his career.

Calvin Kattar wants a title shot with a win at UFC Fight Island 7

UFC

This weekend at UFC Fight Island 7, Calvin Kattar (22-4) has the biggest fight of his career. In the headliner, he’s taking on the former featherweight champion of the world, Max Holloway (21-6), in the UFC‘s first main event on ABC.

Kattar comes into the contest as the sixth ranked featherweight in the UFC. He’s 4-1 in his last five fights inside the octagon with the only loss coming to Zabit Magomedsharipov (22-1) in a fight that was taken on short notice.

That fight was a three round main event, however, if it had been a five round fight, many believe Kattar would have won. Instead, Zabit walked away with his hand raised that night. Kattar has since won two straight over Jeremy Stephens and Dan Ige.

The Boston Finisher knows that the opportunity in front of him at UFC Fight Island 7 is a big one. Max Holloway is considered by many in the business to still be the best featherweight on the planet.

Yes, he lost to the champion, Alexander Volkanovski (22-1), however, the majority believe he won their fight in July. Nevertheless, Holloway lost by split decision and now Kattar is getting his shot at the former champion.

Kattar spoke to the media yesterday to discuss the fight and his plans after. He made it very clear that he believes a UFC title shot should be next if he wins. Kattar told the media, “What else do you gotta do besides take out the number one guy?”

Should Kattar get a UFC title shot with a win?

Calvin Kattar is in a very interesting spot heading into Saturday night. He’s still ranked outside the top five, however, he’s taking on the number one contender. He definitely has a case for a title fight if he gets the win.

However, there is one fighter in front of him who could throw a wrench in his UFC title plans. That fighter being Zabit. Zabit already holds a victory over Kattar and he’s currently ranked third in the division.

If Kattar wins, everyone in front of him is either booked, suspended or coming off of a loss outside of Zabit. Currently, the promotion is targeting a title fight between Volkanovski and Brian Ortega (15-1, 1 NC) in the next couple of months.

Should Kattar get the win on Saturday, I think the fight to make would be the rematch between Zabit and Kattar. Give them both a full camp to show who is truly the better fighter between the two. If the UFC makes that fight, you’ll have a true number one contender in the division.

UFC champions that are likely to lose in 2021

Corey Anderson

2020 was a great year if you were a UFC champion. Not a single champion lost their title in a title fight during 2020. There were some vacated title, however, nobody lost their title inside the octagon.

I don’t believe we are going to see the same thing for the UFC champions in 2021. There are some stacked divisions in the UFC and there are champions that have incredibly tough title defenses ahead of them.

There are a few champions who aren’t even going to be favored in their next title defense. Even if the champions get through their first difficult defense, many divisions have even tougher matchups awaiting the champions.

With that, I wanted to go through the divisions and pick out some UFC champions that I believe are at the highest risk in 2021. Some titles won’t change hands in 2021 while others are almost guarantees in my opinion.

Three UFC champions that will lose in 2021

Stipe Miocic

The first champion and in my opinion the most likely champion that I see losing his UFC title in 2021 is Stipe Miocic (20-3). The greatest heavyweight in the promotions history has a nightmare of a year in front of him in 2021.

Miocic’s first title defense will come against Francis Ngannou (15-3). The fight is a rematch from UFC 220. That night saw Miocic completely dominate Ngannou and overwhelm the dangerous challenger.

However, I believe that the rematch is going to go differently. Ngannou has rededicated himself to his career and I believe he’s going to enter their title fight better than ever. I can’t say the same thing for the UFC heavyweight champion.

I’m not sure we are going to see the best version of Stipe Miocic whenever they fight. Stipe is definitely capable of winning, but he’s going to need to be the best version of himself. Anything short of it and he’s getting put to sleep.

Let’s say that Stipe Miocic makes it through Ngannou. Well, then he has to face the greatest of all time in Jon Jones (26-1, 1 NC). Jones is moving to heavyweight after dominating the UFC’s light heavyweight division for over a decade.

So if Miocic makes it through Ngannou, he has an even tougher task in front of him in defeating Jon Jones. With those two challenges in front of him, I don’t see Miocic making it out of 2021 with the UFC heavyweight title.

Jan Blachowicz

The next UFC champion that will fall in 2021 is the new light heavyweight champion, Jan Blachowicz (27-8). Blachowicz has completely turned his career around the last few years and it culminated at UFC 253.

That night, Blachowicz took on Dominick Reyes (12-2) for the light heavyweight title. Reyes was the favorite, however, Blachowicz used his famous Polish Power to dominate Reyes and capture the title.

Blachowicz has all of the makings to be a UFC champion that could reign for a while. However, he has a nightmare of a matchup in his first defense. He will be taking on the middleweight champion, Israel Adesanya (20-0), at UFC 259.

Adesanya is moving up to try and become a two-division UFC champion. I believe this is an awful matchup for Blachowicz. The light heavyweight champion is going to go have to either grapple Adesanya or catch him with one big shot.

He’s definitely got the power to put Adesanya out, but in a pure striking matchup, I think he’s going to get lit up. While it’s been a great story, I think the reign of the Polish Power ends at UFC 259 at the hands of Israel Adesanya.

Alexander Volkanovski

The final UFC champion that I will touch on is the featherweight champion, Alexander Volkanovski (22-1). Volkanovski has been on an incredible run inside the octagon and he’s going to be defending his featherweight title for the second time in early 2021.

Volkanovski’s first title defense came at UFC 251 against former champion, Max Holloway (21-6). In the eyes of most, Holloway won that fight, but two of the judges gave the fight to Volkanovski.

It marked the second straight win for Volkanovski over Holloway. Had it not been the second straight win, we’d likely have seen an immediate rematch. Nevertheless, the division is moving forward to start the year.

First up for Volkanovski will be Brian Ortega (15-1, 1 NC). Ortega is fresh off of his victory over The Korean Zombie back in October. In my opinion, the Brian Ortega we saw that night was the best featherweight in the UFC.

His striking had gotten so much better since the last time we saw him. He’s big, he’s elite on the ground and now his striking is developed. He’s going to be an extremely tough out for the UFC champion.

However, should Volkanovski get by Ortega, there’s a number of difficult fights. I could see him having to fight Holloway again and after the second fight, I might lean towards Max Holloway in the trilogy.

Another tough fight for Volkanovski could be Zabit Magomedsharipov (18-1). Zabit didn’t fight in 2020, however, he’s looked at as one of the best contenders in the division. Zabit could cause a lot of problems for Volkanovski.

Out of the three champions I’ve listed, Volkanovski would be the one I’m the least surprised by keeping his UFC title. However, with the guys lined up behind him, I would bet on him falling in 2021.

State of the UFC’s featherweight division entering 2021

One of the more dynamic divisions in the UFC over the last decade has been the featherweight division. The division had it’s first title fight back in 2011 when Jose Aldo (29-7) fought Mark Hominick at UFC 129.

Prior to that the featherweight division had been in the WEC. After the featherweight division moved over to the UFC, the division was ruled by Aldo until the end of 2015 when Conor McGregor knocked Aldo out in the first round.

While Aldo did end up winning an interim featherweight title after McGregor left the division, once Aldo’s reign was over, we transitioned to the blessed era. Max Holloway (21-6) became UFC featherweight champion in 2016.

Holloway went on a run that saw him beat Anthony Pettis, Aldo (Twice), Frankie Edgar, and Brian Ortega (15-1, 1 NC). However, the Blessed Express finally fell last December to the new king, Alexander Volkanovski (22-1).

Volkanovski entered UFC 245 as a betting underdog to Holloway. However, he used a steady attack to dethrone the featherweight king. The two ran things back at UFC 251 with Volkanovski barely edging Holloway by split decision.

With two consecutive wins over Max Holloway, Volkanovski is ready for new challenges in the UFC‘s featherweight division in 2021. Fortunately for him, it’s a division full of killers which is promising for a big year.

UFC’s featherweight division in 2021

Starting at the top, we should expect to see a UFC featherweight title fight pretty quickly in 2021. After Brian Ortega completely dominated Chan Sung Jung (16-6), he’s earned the next shot at Volkanovski.

Dana White has said that the title fight between those two will likely take place in February. The former champion, Holloway, is still near the top of the division. Holloway will kick off the UFC‘s action in 2021 on Fight Island.

UFC Fight Island 7 is being headlined by Holloway as he takes on Calvin Kattar (22-4). Kattar has risen to the top of the division having only lost once in the last couple of years. Whoever wins that fight should be in a really good position in the division.

The one UFC contender people need to watch out for is Zabit Magomedsharipov (18-1). The Russian didn’t get to fight in 2020 and he’s not currently booked, but he’s been perfect at 6-0 since joining the UFC.

Had he picked up a win in 2020, he could’ve gotten a title shot before Brian Ortega. I would expect the UFC to get Zabit a fight relatively early in 2021. The top contender needs to get back in the octagon sooner than later.

The featherweight division is absolutely stacked and Volkanovski is going to have his hands full in 2021. To be completely honest, I really don’t know who will leave 2021 as the UFC featherweight champion. Should be a very fun year in that weight class.

UFC: Alexander Volkanovski eyes two key fights for next title defense

Everything has been pretty quiet at the top of the featherweight division since UFC 251. Champion Alexander Volkanovski (22-1) has been in a state of limbo since he defeated the former champion, Max Holloway (21-6), for the second time.

The second fight was razor close, and at first, the UFC seemed interested in putting on the trilogy. However, Volkanovski didn’t seem interested as he had just defeated Holloway twice in his eyes. Can’t really blame the guy for wanting to move on.

Since then, the UFC has abandoned the idea. Now, Volkanovski is eyeing two key featherweight contests to determine who will face him next. Those two contests are the Chan Sung Jung – Brian Ortega fight and the Zabit Magomedsharipov – Yair Rodriguez fight.

Who will be the next contender for the UFC featherweight crown?

On the upcoming fights, the UFC featherweight champion said to MMA Junkie, “I want these guys to go out and take their number one contender spot. Right now, if someone was just given the shot, it’s not a big fight.” Volkanovski wants his next fight to generate a ton of interest.

“At the end of the day, it’s what the UFC and fans want. It also depends on their performances. If someone has a big knockout, submission or a dominant performance, it can solidify them as the next guy,” Volkanovski said.

Brian Ortega (14-1, 1 NC), Chan Sung Jung (16-5), Zabit Magomedsharipov (18-1), and Yair Rodriguez (13-2, 1 NC) would all be deserving of a UFC title shot with a win. But whoever wins those contests must do it impressively. Sound like the most impressive could get the next shot at the champ.

What about Holloway?

As I pointed out above, originally the UFC was interested in a trilogy fight with Holloway. However, Volkanovski wants to see Holloway get active again in the division before he grants him another shot at the title. He does seem interested in the trilogy eventually.

“Even though I’m 2-0, there still seems to be unfinished business. I think it could definitely happen, but not anytime soon,” Volkanovski told MMA Junkie. My guess is that Holloway is going to be paired up with someone like Calvin Kattar (22-4) before the year is over.

There is a lot of fluidity right now in the featherweight division. The UFC champ is happy to just watch it all play out. Whatever fight generates the most interest after all these matchups, Volkanovski will be ready for it and ready to defend.

How would Patricio “Pitbull” Freire fair in the UFC?

Patricio Pitbull Freire

Over the weekend, the media were quick to ask UFC President Dana White about the comments that Scott Coker made regarding Bellator’s light heavyweight division. Coker stated that their division was better than the UFC’s.

White responded with a short and quick, “Isn’t he cute?” The media followed-up by asking about if the UFC be interested in cross promotional super fights. White dismissed this saying nothing would be interesting.

When the media followed-up asking about arguably Bellator’s top fighter, Patricio Pitbull (30-4), White played it off. He said he couldn’t tell you anything about Bellator’s double champ. Pitbull wasn’t pleased with the response.

How would Pitbull fair in the UFC?

Let me start out by stating that I’m a big fan of Patricio Pitbull. I think he is a great fighter, and I truly believe that he can compete with anyone in the UFC‘s featherweight division. There is a reason that Pitbull is currently ranked 4th in the ESPN featherweight rankings.

I believe that Patricio Pitbull would be squarely in the top five of the UFC‘s featherweight rankings if he was with the promotion. Would he beat Alexander Volkanovski, Max Holloway, or Zabit Magomedsharipov? I’m not sure about that, but he would definitely be competitive.

Where I don’t see him being very competitive is in the UFC‘s lightweight division. Pitbull is the Bellator lightweight champion as well, but that’s not his natural weight class. The UFC‘s lightweight division is the deepest division in the history of the sport.

Yes, Patricio Freire has a knockout over top free agent Michael Chandler, but I’m not sure how he would do against the UFC‘s best. Imagine Pitbull against Khabib Nurmagomedov, Justin Gaethje, Conor McGregor, Tony Ferguson, Dustin Poirier, and I could go on and on. He’d be a sizable underdog in any of those contests.

If the UFC and Bellator would ever agree to such an event, I would implore Pitbull to take on the UFC‘s featherweight champion. That would be a competitive fight. However, I don’t think he could swim with those sharks at lightweight. What do you think?

 

UFC BREAKING: Zabit Magomedsharipov – Yair Rodriguez off due to an ankle injury

Yair Rodriguez

One of the more anticipated UFC featherweight contests of 2020 will not happen. Dana White confirmed this evening that Yair Rodriguez (13-2) has injured his ankle and will not headline the August 29th fight night against Zabit Magomedsharipov (18-1).

What does the UFC do?

The UFC has tried to make this fight multiple times over the last couple of years. Injuries have continued to get in the way of this fight being a reality.

Zabit and Rodriguez are two of the brighter stars in the UFC‘s lower weight classes. The fight between the two of them was likely to determine who would face Alexander Volkanovksi next for the featherweight title.

As ESPN’s Ariel Helwani suggested, Calvin Kattar has offered to step in to face Zabit in the main event of the August 29th card. Kattar and Zabit do have history.

The two men just fought and headlined a fight night back in November. Zabit won the three round main event, but Kattar was really coming on strong at the end. Many believe that Kattar could have won if it had been a traditional five round main event.

Kattar would make sense from a rankings perspective, but there’s no word on if Zabit would want to fight Kattar back-to-back. There are a couple of additional options for Zabit at 145 pounds.

Other Options

The UFC has been trying to book Chan Sung Jung and Brian Ortega for some time now. White has said that the UFC is close to booking that fight. However, maybe the promotion looks to see if one of them would be interested in stepping in to face Zabit.

Another outside the box option could be giving Max Holloway a call to see if he’d take the fight. The former champion could really establish that he should get another shot at Volkanovski if he can beat Zabit.

White said the Rodriguez has a high ankle sprain and a fracture. It’s unlikely, but if he recovers quickly, the UFC could shift gears to move up a main event and move back the Zabit – Rodriguez fight. Many options are on the table and we should expect the UFC to move quickly on this one.

 

UFC: Zabit Magomedsharipov Confirms Long Awaited Yair Rodriguez Fight

Zabit Magomedsharipov, UFC

Zabit Magomedsharipov versus Yair Rodriguez is one of those fights that just seemed like it was never going to happen. There were talks about it since 2018 but a number of things came up that made it seem less and less likely as time went on.

First, it seemed like Rodriguez was out of the UFC after declining the fight. Then, he was back. And then injury kept the fight from happening at UFC 228. There’s been a lot of events since then and this matchup probably moved to the back of a lot of people’s minds.

However, it’s finally happening, as Magomedsharipov confirmed on Instagram by sharing the official fight poster.

The fight announcement we’ve all been waiting for

The caption that Zabit wrote on the post is pretty fitting and describes the whole situation.

“Two years later, on the third attempt, this fight will still take place,” he said.

It’s one of the most exciting fights that fans could ask for, as Rodriguez and Zabit are both in the conversation for the top rising fighter in their division. Zabit is undefeated in the UFC with only one loss overall while Rodriguez has an unconventional fighting style and never puts on a boring performance.

Based on how long everyone has been waiting for this one, it’s safe to say this will be the main event of the upcoming Fight Night 176 card on August 29th. The event is set to happen from the UFC Apex facility. Some of the other fighters on the card include Anthony Smith, Ricardo Lamas, and promising light heavyweight Aleksandr Rakic.

But let’s be real. After waiting a couple of years for this fight, it’s probably the one we’re all looking forward to on this card.

UFC: Max Holloway could get the next title shot according to Dana White

It was very clear that UFC president Dana White was not a fan of the decision at UFC 251 between featherweight champion, Alexander Volkanovski, and former champion, Max Holloway.

The fight left the UFC in a bit of a pickle when it comes to what happens next. If Holloway had only lost that one time to Volkanovski, the promotion would have no issues booking the fight again.

However, Holloway has lost two consecutive fights to Volkanovski. Yes, the second fight was razor close, but still it’s two losses in the record books. With that, most thought that there is no way that the UFC would give Holloway another shot especially right away.

Despite that, White said to ESPN that, “It’s hard to not…” when considering booking Volkanovski – Holloway 3. White went on to talk about how Volkanovski wouldn’t enjoy that idea.

What should the UFC do?

The UFC is really in a tough spot when it comes to the featherweight division. The UFC is going to book Zabit Magomedsharipov and Yair Rodriguez but that’s not finalized yet. They are also going to book Brian Ortega – Chan Sung Jung but that fight is also not finalized.

Those are all the contenders in the division outside of Calvin Kattar. I’m not convinced the UFC loves the idea of giving Kattar a shot at the title right now.

So with everyone booked, either Volkanovski is going to sit for a while or they run the fight back a third time. I definitely understand the frustration this would bring from the champion.

Volkanovski really has nothing to gain from fighting Holloway a third time meanwhile Holloway has everything to get back. Both of these fighters are so evenly matched. A third fight between the two would create more problems than solutions.

What if Max Holloway wins a close fight? How could you then deny Volkanovski a fourth fight since he won the first two? If you give Holloway another shot, it really hurts the division.

While he might not want to, I think the best thing would be for Volkanovski to sit on the sidelines for a bit. Maybe let Holloway fight a guy like Calvin Kattar next. Let the division play out more before giving Holloway a third fight with Volkanovski.

UFC: Fights to make after UFC 251

Following any major UFC event, the fans want to know what comes next? UFC held their first event on Fight Island last night, and everyone wants to know what fights are going to be made following UFC 251. Here are five fights that the UFC should make.

Kamaru Usman vs Gilbert Burns

This is a fight that we basically got confirmed from UFC president Dana White last night. In the post-fight press conference, White made it clear that Gilbert Burns (19-3) would be the next challenger for Kamaru Usman (17-1).

Burns was originally scheduled to be in the main event last night, but a positive COVID-19 test took him out. Once he recovers, he is the first guy in line for Usman. He’s also the one fighter who is the worst matchup for Usman in the division.

Usman did not win any new fans at UFC 251, but the champion did what he had to do in defeating Jorge Masvidal (35-14). Usman leaned on his wrestling and controlled the BMF title holder for five rounds.

Burns and Usman matchup extremely well. Usman’s wrestling can be neutralized by Burns’ elite skills on the ground. Burns has elite striking and speed which can give Usman issues.

Usman and Burns were once teammates which adds in another wrinkle to the fight. Expect this matchup to be booked in October/November.

Jorge Masvidal vs Colby Covington

Gamebred stepped up on six days notice, but he fell short in his quest to become the UFC’s welterweight champion. He made it clear that he wants to stay active and work his way back to the title. The quickest route to that is against his former training partner.

Colby Covington (15-2) would make the perfect opponent. Both men used to live together, but now they can’t stand each other. Both are coming off a loss to Usman which is a perfect setup for the fight.

This fight would have a ton of heat, and the winner would be guaranteed another shot at the UFC‘s welterweight title. With the drawing power of both men, this could headline a card on it’s own. I wouldn’t be shocked to see this one occur around the same time that we see Usman-Burns.

Weili Zhang vs Rose Namajunas

It was known that the winner of the Rose Namajunas (9-4) and Jessica Andrade (20-8) fight would likely get the next shot at UFC strawweight champion, Weili Zhang (21-1). Both women went to war last night, but Namajunas walked away with a decision.

To me, Namajunas has always been the second best strawweight in the world. I thought she was always better than Andrade, but got caught in that slam. I also firmly believe that Zhang is the absolute best in the world.

Thug Rose is going to get the title shot after last night’s victory, but I’m not sure how I feel about the matchup for her. This fight could be a springboard for Zhang.

If Zhang is able to defeat Namajunas, she could aim for a champion versus champion fight with Valentina Shevchenko next.

Petr Yan vs Aljamain Sterling

The UFC crowned a new bantamweight king last night, and his name is Petr Yan (15-1). It didn’t come easy, but Yan was able to stop Jose Aldo (28-7) in the fifth round to claim the UFC‘s bantamweight champion.

Last month, Aljamain Sterling (19-3) made an emphatic statement that he’s the top contender at 135 pounds. In a fight with Cory Sandhagen (12-2) which was considered a title eliminator, Sterling finished Sandhagen in under 90 seconds.

Many people believe that Sterling was more deserving of a title shot than Yan was. Well, now the UFC can move to make this fight. There might not be a more exciting division in the UFC than bantamweight right now. Yan/Sterling is going to be incredibly fun to watch.

Alexander Volkanovski vs Winner of Zabit Magomedsharipov-Yair Rodriguez

The UFC‘s featherweight king didn’t get the clean victory he wanted last night. Many people, including Dana White, believe that he lost the fight. However, the judges are all that matter and they gave the fight to Alexander Volkanovski (22-1).

I can’t see the UFC moving to book Volkanovski-Holloway 3 with Alexander being up 2-0 in the series. The Australian champ wants to fight by the end of the year, so what makes the most sense?

Reportedly, Zabit Magomedsharipov (18-1) and Yair Rodriguez (13-2-1) are supposed to fight in August. Magomedsharipov is currently ranked right behind Holloway while Rodriguez is ranked fifth.

Both of these men are extremely popular and talented fighters. I think the UFC would be smart to make this fight the title eliminator. Brian Ortega and Chan Sung Jung who are also supposed to fight this year, have already had shots at the title.

Magomedsharipov is considered the next great Russian champion that’s in the UFC. If Zabit can defeat Rodriguez in August, it would be a massive global fight to pair him with the champion, Volkanovski.

UFC has great fights ahead

The UFC is going to put on some stacked cards the rest of this year. All of the fights listed above should take place before we hit 2021. Combine those with the fights that are already scheduled, and you should be expecting some stacked cards in the second half of 2020.