10 reasons to watch UFC-Sydney, none of which include hotel drama

The UFC is in Australia on Saturday for UFC Fight Night 121. Headlining the event is a heavyweight scrap between former champion Fabricio Werdum and Marcin Tybura.

Werdum steps into the octagon having fought 42 days ago at UFC 216. He defeated Walt Harris via first-round submission on that card. Werdum got the nod for the Australia card after the UFC pulled Tybura’s original opponent, Mark Hunt, from the event over medical concerns. Tybura’s most recent fight was in June. He earned a decision over former champion Andrei Arlovski in that contest. There’s no doubt two consecutive wins over former champs would boost his status in the division.

In the co-main event, two Australian fighters meet when Bec Rawlings welcomes UFC newcomer Jessica-Rose Clark to the octagon.

UFC Fight Night 121 takes place Sunday (but airs live on Saturday in North America due to the time difference) at Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney. It airs on FS1 following early prelims on UFC Fight Pass.

Here are 10 reasons to watch the event.

1. The race is on

With heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic unbooked for his next title defense, the rest of the division is left to jockey for position to be that next opponent. That includes the man Miocic took the title from, Werdum.

Werdum, currently, ranked No. 3 in the division according to the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA heavyweight rankings, has his work cut out for him in that regard since he’s gone 2-1 since his loss to Miocic. Knowing that, Werdum (22-7-1 MMA, 10-4 UFC) seems to be taking the volume route back to title consideration. He faces Tybura (16-2 MMA, 3-1 UFC) in Sydney a few weeks removed from his recent win over Harris.

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Tybura, the man who hopes to play spoiler to Werdum’s plan, is currently an honorable mention in the rankings.

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2. Moving on up

Rawlings is under pressure heading into her first flyweight bout. She’s 2-3 since she joined the UFC, with losses in her past two outings. Rawlings was also one-and-a-half pounds overweight ahead of her most recent fight, a decision loss to Tecia Torres.

Rawlings’ (7-6 MMA, 2-3 UFC) opponent, Clark (7-4 MMA, 0-0 UFC), steps in as a late injury replacement for Joanne Calderwood.

While Clark might be an unknown quantity, don’t expect her to wilt under the bright lights of the UFC. In her two most recent fights, she faced former Strikeforce bantamweight champion Sarah Kaufman and veteran Carina Damm. She lost to Kaufman and defeated Damm; both fights went the distance.

Clark mostly throws power punches and heavy low kicks with an occasional combination. She struggles if the fight hits the ground and she ends up in bottom position. Expect her to try and keep this one standing.

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3. The repairs are complete

It’s no surprise to see Australia-born Jake Matthews on this card. The 23-year-old has fought seven times for the UFC. Six of those outings took place in his home country or in nearby New Zealand. However, Matthews enters this fight on a two-fight losing skid. His most recent defeat was a November 2016 split-decision loss to Andrew Holbrook.

Healed up after undergoing surgery on both hips, Matthews (10-3 MMA, 4-3 UFC) moves back to welterweight, where he began his MMA career, for this fight against Bojan Velickovic (15-5-1 MMA, 2-2-1 UFC). Like Matthews, the Serbian is coming off a loss. He dropped a unanimous decision to Darren Till in his most recent bout.

Early in his career, it seemed the UFC had Matthews pegged as a promotable fighter for its Australian market. His losing skid seems to have dampened that enthusiasm, as he dropped from the co-main event at UFC Fight Night 101 to the middle of the main card in Sydney.

If the added weight and repaired hips get Matthews back in the win column, expect the promotion’s interest in him to revive.

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4. Work with what you’ve got

Daniel Kelly doesn’t have the chiseled body of many UFC fighters. The 40-year-old Australian’s knees appear to be held together by braces and tape. He’s been an underdog in almost all of his UFC fights.

Despite these apparent shortcomings, Kelly went unbeaten between November 2015 and March 2017. His most prominent win was a unanimous-decision victory over former light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans at UFC 209. Kelly’s feel-good story then ended in June, when Derek Brunson knocked him out.

Kelly’s opponent, Elias Theodorou, is also coming off a loss. The 29-year-old Canadian dropped a decision to Brad Tavares in July.

Kelly (13-2 MMA, 6-2 UFC) is a four-time Olympian in judo, so expect him to try to work from the clinch against his younger opponent. As for Theodorou (13-2 MMA, 5-2 UFC), he’s one of the more cerebral fighters at middleweight. He crafts a gameplan specific to his opponents, and he generally sticks with that approach.

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5. High expectations

Alex Volkanovski could become the next big thing out of Australia. He joined the UFC in 2016 with a record of 13-1 and a long list of titles from smaller MMA promotions. Now 2-0 with the UFC, he faces Shane Young at featherweight.

Volkanovski is a powerful striker with good takedown skills, but he excels on the ground. When he gets his opponent to the mat, the Australian likes to posture up and rain down heavy ground strikes. Those ground strikes earned him a second-round TKO in his UFC debut.

Young (11-3 MMA, 0-0 UFC) is the third scheduled opponent for Volkanovski (15-1 MMA, 2-0 UFC) for this card. The New Zealand-born fighter’s two previously booked opponents withdrew due to injury. Young, who is on a five-fight winning streak, stepped up on less than a weeks’ notice to take this fight.

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6. Looking for a foothold

Ryan Benoit has struggled since joining the UFC’s flyweight division in 2013. He’s alternated wins and losses and been unable to generate any momentum, even with a knockout of Sergio Pettis in 2015. His most recent fight was a split-decision loss to Brandon Moreno.

Benoit (9-5 MMA, 2-3 UFC) faces Ashkan Mokhtarian in Sydney. Mokhtarian (13-2 MMA, 0-1 UFC) debuted with the UFC in June. He entered that fight against John Moraga with 12 career stoppage victories. The Iranian-born fighter left that matchup with his second career loss.

Like Mokhtarian, when Benoit does win, it’s usually via stoppage. He has seven knockouts and one submission in his eight victories. With their recent losses, expect both of these men to do their best to avoid a second consecutive defeat.

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7. Back meet wall

Will Brooks joined the UFC’s lightweight division with a lot of hype. Before he signed with the promotion, the former Bellator champion ran off eight straight wins. He won his UFC debut, but Brooks has since been stopped in his two most recent bouts by unranked fighters.

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To date, Brooks’ performances with the UFC have been uninspired. That could change when he faces Nik Lentz, who is also coming off a loss. If you recall, the UFC pulled Lentz (27-8-2 MMA, 11-5-1 UFC) from his scheduled fight against Brooks (18-3 MMA, 1-2 UFC) at UFC 216 due to “medical issues” on weigh-in day. Brooks had already made weight for the lightweight bout before the promotion scratched the contest. No fighter wants to go through camp and a weight cut only to do the same thing a month later.

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8. Let’s try this in a different hemisphere

Anthony Hamilton and Adam Wieczorek were set to face off at UFC Fight Night 118. However, the heavyweight bout was scratched the day before the event due to security concerns inside Ergo Arena in Gdansk, Poland. The UFC made that decision after both fighters made weight at the official weigh-ins. The two now meet more than 9,750 miles away in Sydney.

Wieczorek (8-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC), who makes his UFC debut on this card, is on a seven-fight winning streak. Each of his victories have come by way of stoppage. Wieczorek’s sole loss was a 2011 decision defeat to Tybura. Hamilton (15-8 MMA, 3-6 UFC) briefly toyed with retirement after his most recent fight, his third consecutive first-round stoppage defeat.

9. In a hurry

Nadia Kassem has just four fights to her name. Kassem, who recently turned 22, won each of those bouts by first round knockout. Three of those stoppages came in under 30 seconds. Nicknamed “187,” Kassem’s longest outing was her most recent, when she nearly hit the 90-second mark. Her total fight time is 2:22.

Kassem (4-0 MMA, 0-0 UFC) meets fellow Aussie Alex Chambers in this strawweight contest. The 39-year-old Chambers (5-3 MMA, 1-2 UFC) has not fought since Paige VanZant submitted her in September 2015. Her opponent has fought three times since then.

Expect Kassem to come out fast and test Chambers’ cage readiness after such a long time away.

10. KO kings

Expect action in the heavyweight opener. Neither Rashad Coulter nor his opponent Tai Tuivasa have ever gone the distance. All eight of Coulter’s (8-2 MMA, 0-1 UFC) wins have come by knockout, while Tuivasa (5-0 MMA, 0-0 UFC) has five first-round KO victories in five professional fights.

The 24-year-old Tuivasa, who makes his UFC debut in his home country, is a former rugby player. He left that sport five years ago to focus on boxing and MMA. He’s a training partner of Mark Hunt, who he cornered at UFC 209. His brother-in-law is UFC competitor Tyson Pedro.

Tuivasa has been sidelined for more than a year. He underwent knee surgery following his October 2016 win over former UFC fighter James McSweeney. Coulter’s most recent fight, his UFC debut, ended in a second-round knockout loss to Chase Sherman. Coulter displayed an incredibly durable chin in that “Fight of the Night” bonus-winning performance.

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For more on UFC Fight Night 121, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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Filed under: Featured, News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

UFC Fight Night 121 pre-event facts: Fabricio Werdum brings big numbers

The UFC returns to Australia this weekend with UFC Fight Night 121, which takes place Saturday at Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney and airs on FS1 following early prelims on UFC Fight Pass.

Former UFC heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum (22-7-1 MMA, 10-4 UFC) makes a quick turnaround from a win at UFC 216 in October when he steps in for Mark Hunt against Marcin Tybura (16-2 MMA, 3-1 UFC) in the headliner.

The card has experienced a number of changes on top of the main event, but nevertheless some notable names are still set to compete. For more on the numbers behind the UFC’s 11th fight card in Australia, check below for 40 pre-event facts for UFC Fight Night 121.

* * * *

Main event

Werdum, 40, is the oldest of the 26 fighters scheduled to compete at the event.

Werdum, 40, is the second oldest active fighter in UFC heavyweight division behind Mark Hunt (43).

Werdum competes in his second UFC bout in a 42-day stretch. He defeated Walt Harris at UFC 216 in October.

Werdum’s 42-day turnaround between fights is the shortest of his more than 15-year career.

Werdum is 8-2 since he returned to the UFC for a second stint in February 2012.

Werdum has earned seven of his 10 UFC victories by stoppage.

Marcin Tybura.

Werdum’s 65-second victory over Harris at UFC 216 was the fastest of his career.

Werdum’s five submission victories in UFC/Strikeforce heavyweight competition are tied for second most in combined divisional history behind Frank Mir (eight).

Tybura competes is in his second consecutive fight against a former UFC heavyweight champion. He defeated Andrei Arlovski at UFC Fight Night 111 in June.

Tybura’s three-fight UFC winning streak in heavyweight competition is the third longest active streak in the division behind Stipe Miocic (five) and Francis Ngannou (five).

Tybura has earned 13 of his 16 career victories by stoppage.

Tybura has earned both of his UFC stoppage victories by knockout.

Co-main event

Bec Rawlings.

Bec Rawlings (7-6 MMA, 2-3 UFC) makes her official debut in the UFC women’s flyweight division. She missed weight twice in the strawweight division.

Jessica-Rose Clark (7-4 MMA, 0-0 UFC) makes her UFC debut on short notice with just two victories in her past six fights dating back to June 2015.

Remaining main card

Tim Means (27-8-1 MMA, 9-5 UFC) is 7-3 (with one no-contest) since he returned to the UFC for a second stint in May 2014.

Means has earned 22 of his 27 career victories by stoppage. That includes five of his nine UFC wins.

Means’ four stoppage victories since 2015 in UFC welterweight competition are tied with Donald Cerrone for second most in the division behind Vicente Luque (five).

Belal Muhammad.

Belal Muhammad (12-2 MMA, 3-2 UFC) has earned eight of his 12 career victories by decision.

Jake Matthews(10-3 MMA, 4-3 UFC) moves up to the UFC welterweight division after spending his entire octagon tenure at lightweight.

Matthews enters the event with back-to-back losses for the first time in his career. He hasn’t earned a victory since March 2016.

Bojan Velickovic (15-4-1 MMA, 2-2-1 UFC) fell to 1-2-1 since he dropped to the UFC welterweight division in July 2016.

Elias Theodorou.

Elias Theodorou (13-2 MMA, 5-2 UFC) has completed at least one takedown in six of his seven UFC appearances.

Daniel Kelly (13-2 MMA, 6-2 UFC) has won as the underdog in five of his six UFC victories.

Kelly has earned four of his six UFC victories by decision.

Kelly defends 65.2 percent of all opponent significant strike attempts in UFC middleweight competition, the third highest rate among active fighters in the weight class behind Thiago Santos (66.7 percent) and Michael Bisping (65.9 percent).

Alex Volkanovski (15-1 MMA, 2-0 UFC) enters the event on a 12-fight winning streak. He hasn’t suffered a defeat since May 2013.

Preliminary card

Ryan Benoit (9-5 MMA, 2-3 UFC) has alternated wins and losses over his past eight fights. He suffered a loss in his most recent bout at the TUF 24 Finale in December.

Will Brooks (18-3 MMA, 1-2 UFC) enters the event with back-to-back losses for the first time in his career. He hasn’t earned a victory since July 2016.

Nik Lentz (27-8-2 MMA, 11-5-1 UFC) is 2-1 since he returned to the UFC lightweight division in December 2015.

Lentz has landed two or more takedowns against 14 of his 18 UFC opponents.

Lentz’s 17 guillotine choke submission attempts in UFC competition are the most in company history.

Anthony Hamilton.

Anthony Hamilton’s (15-8 MMA, 3-6 UFC) three-fight losing skid is the longest of his career. He’s 1-4 in his past five fights overall and hasn’t earned a victory since July 2016.

Hamilton’s average fight time of 5:19 in UFC heavyweight competition is second shortest among active fighters in the weight class behind Francis Ngannou (4:35).

Hamilton has suffered five of his six UFC losses by stoppage.

Hamilton’s 14-second knockout of Damian Grabowski at UFC 201 is the second fastest in UFC heavyweight history. Only Todd Duffee’s seven-second knockout at UFC 102 was faster.

Adam Wieczorek (8-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC) makes his UFC debut on a seven-fight winning streak. He hans’t suffered a defeat since November 2011.

Frank Camacho (20-5 MMA, 0-1 UFC) drops to the UFC lightweight division after losing a welterweight bout in his debut.

Alex Chambers.

Alex Chambers(5-3 MMA, 1-2 UFC), 39, is the second oldest active female on the UFC roster behind Marion Reneau (40).

Chambers returns to competition for the first time since Sept. 5, 2015. The 805-day layoff is the longest of her more than seven-year career.

Chambers’ submission of Kailin Curran at 3:15 of Round 3 at UFC Fight Night 65 stands as the latest third latest submission in a three-round UFC strawweight fight.

Chambers defeated Curran despite being outlanded by 37 significant strikes, the biggest deficit for a stoppage in a UFC strawweight fight.

Nadia Kassem (4-0 MMA, 0-0 UFC), 21, is the youngest of the 26 fighters scheduled to compete at the event. She’s 18 years the junior of her opponent.

Rashad Coulter (8-2 MMA, 0-1 UFC) has earned all nine of his career victories by knockout. That includes six wins in Round 1.

For more on UFC Fight Night 121, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

FightMetric research analyst and live statistics producer Michael Carroll contributed to this story. Follow him on Twitter @MJCflipdascript.

Filed under: Featured, News, UFC, Videos
Source: MMA Junkie

Anthony Hamilton vs. Adam Wieczorek scratched from UFC-Gdansk, rescheduled for Nov. 18

Although their absence from ceremonial weigh-ins was chalked up to “safety concerns,” the heavyweight matchup between Anthony Hamilton vs. Adam Wieczorek has now been pulled from Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 118 lineup.

UFC officials told MMAjunkie that the two fighters did not appear on stage at weigh-ins because of security concerns inside Ergo Arena in Gdansk, Poland. However, hours later, the promotion announced the fight was off the card and will now take place at Nov. 19 at UFC Fight Night 121 from Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney.

Wieczorek (8-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC) and Hamilton (15-8 MMA, 3-6 UFC) were in attendance at the ceremonial weigh-ins. However, a few dozen Lechia Gdansk “ultras” – extreme and sometimes violent supporters of the local soccer team – showed up just prior to the session. Wieczorek is a supporter of Ruch Chorzow, a Lechnia Gdansk rival team from South Poland.

Police in riot gear outside of Ergo Arena following UFC-Gdansk ceremonial weigh-ins.

After the group made their presence known with a few synchronized chants, venue staffers put up a barricade in front of the section where the rowdy fans were seated. The UFC took precaution in keeping Wieczorek and Hamilton from participating in the weigh-ins.

Police sporting riot gear quickly gathered outside of the arena, stopping spectators as they exited, and asked for identification.

UFC Fight Night 118 will now proceed with 11 bouts.

With the change to the card, UFC Fight Night 118 currently includes:

MAIN CARD (UFC Fight Pass, 3 p.m. ET)

  • Donald Cerrone vs. Darren Till
  • Jodie Esquibel vs. Karolina Kowalkiewicz
  • Jan Blachowicz vs. Devin Clark
  • Oskar Piechota vs. Jonathan Wilson

PRELIMINARY CARD (UFC Fight Pass, 12:15 p.m. ET )

  • Nasrat Haqparast vs. Marcin Held
  • Brian Kelleher vs. Damian Stasiak
  • Sam Alvey vs. Ramazan Emeev
  • Andre Fili vs. Artem Lobov
  • Warlley Alves vs. Salim Touahri
  • Aspen Ladd vs. Lina Lansberg
  • Felipe Arantes vs. Josh Emmett

For more on UFC Fight Night 118, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

Filed under: Featured, News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

Security concerns over rowdy soccer fans force 2 fighters out of UFC-Gdansk ceremonial weigh-ins

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Filed under: Featured, News, UFC, Videos

GDANSK, Poland – Adam Wieczorek and Anthony Hamilton didn’t appear at UFC Fight Night 118 ceremonial weigh-ins, but the heavyweights will still clash at tomorrow’s UFC Fight Pass-streamed event.

UFC officials told MMAjunkie that the two fighters did not appear on stage because of security concerns inside Ergo Arena in Gdansk, Poland, though their fight will go on as expected.

Wieczorek (8-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC) and Hamilton (15-8 MMA, 3-6 UFC) were in attendance at the ceremonial weigh-ins. However, a few dozen Lechia Gdansk “ultras” – extreme and sometimes violent supporters of the local soccer team – showed up just prior to the session. Wieczorek is a supporter of Ruch Chorzow, a Lechnia Gdansk rival team from South Poland.

Police in riot gear outside of Ergo Arena following UFC-Gdansk ceremonial weigh-ins.

After the group made their presence known with a few synchronized chants, venue staffers put up a barricade in front of the section where the rowdy fans were seated. The UFC took precaution in keeping Wieczorek and Hamilton from participating in the weigh-ins.

Police sporting riot gear quickly gathered outside of the arena, stopping spectators as they exited, and asked for identification.

The two heavyweights each made weight earlier in the day, with Wieczorek at 233 pounds and and Hamilton at 256, during official weigh-ins at the host hotel.

For more on UFC Fight Night 118, visit the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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Source: MMA Junkie

10 reasons to watch UFC Fight Night 118 with 'Cowboy' looking to snap his first career skid

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Filed under: News

Here’s hoping you all enjoyed the short break in the UFC schedule we just had, because from now until the end of the year, there’s only one weekend without a UFC event. That weekend isn’t until Dec. 23.

The UFC’s sprint to the end of 2017 begins on Saturday with UFC Fight Night 118.

In the main event, young upstart Darren Till meets Donald Cerrone, the man who just can’t say no when the UFC calls and offers him a fight. Till is unbeaten in his 16-fight career. That run includes four fights in the UFC. Cerrone is on the first two-fight losing skid of his career. With a loss in this contest, the former UFC lightweight title challenger could be at risk of going winless during the calendar year – something that has never happened during his 11 years of fighting.

In the co-main event, former strawweight title challenger Karolina Kowalkiewicz looks to get back in the win column after two straight defeats against UFC newcomer Jodie Esquibel.

UFC Fight Night 118 takes place at Ergo Arena in Gdansk, Poland. The entire card streams on UFC Fight Pass.

Here are 10 reasons to watch the event.

1. Lights, camera, action

After just four fights in the UFC, Till (15-0-1 MMA, 3-0-1 UFC) saunters into his first main event with the promotion full of attitude and confidence. The 24-year-old, faces 25-fight UFC veteran Cerrone (32-9 MMA, 19-6 UFC), who also knows a thing or two about swagger and self-belief.

There are some, like former UFC fighter Brendan Schaub, who think Till shouldn’t fight Cerrone this early in his career, but Till has something to say about that kind of talk.

“You’ve got people like Brendan Schaub … saying he doesn’t know me, he’s disrespecting me and whatever, saying ‘Cowboy’ shouldn’t be taking this fight, but why shouldn’t I be taking the fight? Let’s get it straight, I’m unbeaten here,” Till said on the “Obviously Fight Talk” podcast. “I’m unbeaten. Nobody’s been able to beat me.”

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As for the 34-year-old Cerrone, who is ranked No. 10 in the most recent USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA welterweight rankings, he seems to see a little of himself in his young opponent.

“I was up-and-coming once. I was in his shoes. He might be the next guy,” Cerrone told MMAjunkie. “You can’t look at him like, ‘Oh, this guy sucks.’ He’s undefeated. We’ll see. It’s like going from like a farm team, called up to the big show and now he’s the main event, five rounds – that’s a lot. Lights, camera, action.”

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2. Strange days

Interesting is one way to describe the strawweight matchup between Kowalkiewicz and Esquibel. Kowalkiewicz fought three of the best 115-pound fighters in her three most recent outings. During that run, she defeated Rose Namajunas, dropped a title fight to champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk and was submitted by Claudia Gadelha.

A cynic might look at this fight as the promotion giving the No. 4 ranked Kowalkiewicz (10-2 MMA, 3-2 UFC), who competes in her home country of Poland for the first time as a UFC fighter, a favorable matchup. After all, Esquibel (6-2 MMA, 0-0 UFC), who is unranked, makes her promotional debut in this contest.

During her run with Invicta FC, Esquibel went 4-2 with losses to current UFC fighters Alex Chambers and Alexa Grasso at atomweight. Her strawweight debut morphed into a 117.6-pound catchweight contest when her opponent, DeAnna Bennett, came in heavy. Esquibel won that fight by split decision.

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3. Unsatisfied

Before his UFC debut, Jan Blachowicz was on a five-fight winning streak with victories over four former UFC fighters. In his promotional debut, Blachowicz put Ilir Latifi away in the first round. After that triumph, the Polish fighter went 1-4.

Blachowicz’s (19-7 MMA, 2-4 UFC) opponent, Devin Clark, has gone unbeaten at 205 pounds, including two decision wins with the UFC. In his most recent bout, Clark (8-1 MMA, 2-1 UFC) pitched a shutout against Jake Collier. He dominated the fight, but left the arena disappointed.

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“At times, I just stopped moving and didn’t go for the finish,” Clark told MMAjunkie. “There’s definitely openings, and I got hesitant at times.”

Clark fought at a high pace against Collier and that could be a concern for Blachowicz, who has run out of gas in the past, most recently during his April loss to Patrick Cummins.

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4. A whole lot of finishes

Oskar Piechota made his Cage Warriors debut in June. He claimed that promotion’s vacant middleweight title that night with a 32-second knockout. The quick KO win was Piechota’s ninth finish in 10 fights. Piechota (9-0-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC) makes his UFC debut against Jonathan Wilson (7-2 MMA, 1-2 UFC) in this middleweight scuffle.

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Wilson began his UFC career with a 50-second knockout of Chris Dempsey in a light heavyweight bout. He followed that victory with two losses. Wilson, a heavy-handed striker with six knockout wins, drops from light heavyweight for this matchup.

If you’re looking for a sleeper pick for “Fight of the Night,” this could be your fight.

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5. Looking for some traction

The good news for Marcin Held is that he gets to fight in his home country of Poland for the first time in more than seven years. The bad news is the former Bellator lightweight title challenger enters his bout against Nasrat Haqparast (8-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC) on the worst run of his nine-year career. Held (22-7 MMA, 0-3 UFC), who joined the UFC in 2016, has lost each of his three fights inside the octagon.

When he signed with the UFC in 2016, many felt Held would be a threat in the lightweight division. An excellent grappler with 12 career submission wins, the 25-year-old has been unable to get on track since he joined the promotion.

Haqparast makes his UFC debut as a short-notice injury replacement. This bout marks the first time Haqparast fights outside of Germany. In his nine pro contests, Haqparast has eight knockout victories, six of which have come in the first round. His only defeat came in his professional debut.

6. Local man makes his UFC debut

Adam Wieczorek makes his UFC debut on the strength of a seven-fight winning streak. Each of those victories have come by way of stoppage. Wieczorek, the former PLMMA heavyweight champion, has spent his entire career fighting on the Polish scene. Wieczorek’s sole loss is a 2011 decision to current UFC heavyweight Marcin Tybura.

Wieczorek (8-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC) faces Anthony Hamilton in Poland. Hamilton (15-8 MMA, 3-6 UFC) briefly toyed with retirement after his most recent fight, his third consecutive first-round stoppage defeat. He steps into this contest as a late injury replacement.

7. Looking for his place

Brian Kelleher made quite an impression in his UFC debut. Not only did he submit Iuri Alcantara, he did so in front of a hostile Brazilian crowd, but he then taunted that crowd after he defeated the home country fighter. During his post-fight interview, Kelleher threw the infamous Portuguese “you’re gonna die” chant back at the fans.

Kelleher’s second UFC fight did not go as well. He lost that bout via submission to Marlon Vera.

With both his UFC fights ending early in the first round, it’s hard to get an idea of just where Kelleher, who fought for more than 10 promotions before joining the UFC, fits in the bantamweight division.

Kelleher (17-8 MMA, 1-1 UFC) faces Damian Stasiak. Stasiak (10-4 MMA, 2-2 UFC), a good ground fighter, also lost his most recent fight. He dropped a decision to Pedro Munhoz in that contest.

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8. Time to make a move

When Artem Lobov faced Cub Swanson in the main event of UFC Fight Night 108, there were questions about the matchup. With a record of 2-2 in the UFC, the thinking was Lobov didn’t deserve a shot at Swanson who was on a three-fight winning streak and ranked No. 6 in the featherweight division at the time. The oddsmakers seemed to agree. Swanson was a more than a 6-1 favorite and he dominated the contest on fight night. Despite the decision loss, Lobov earned some respect with his performance. He hung tough, despite absorbing 251 strikes.

Lobov (13-13-1 MMA, 2-3 UFC) meets Andre Fili in Poland. Calvin Kattar upset Fili (16-5 MMA, 4-4 UFC) in his most recent bout. The decision defeat keeps Fili on a win one, lose one rollercoaster for his eight-fight UFC career.

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This should be a high-paced striking battle between two fighters desperate to get back in the win column and make a move in the featherweight division.

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9. A once hot prospect returns

In 2015, Warlley Alves was on his way up the welterweight rankings. He closed that year with a first-round submission win over Colby Covington. The victory gave Alves’ a record of 10-0. Since then, he’s dropped two unanimous decisions.

This is his first fight of 2017. With nearly a year between fights and with two straight losses, it’s going to be interesting to see what lessons Alves took from those setbacks and how he’s developed.

Alves (10-2 MMA, 4-2 UFC) faces UFC newcomer Salim Touahri in this bout. Touahri (10-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC) has won five straight fights ahead of his promotional debut. Four of those wins have come by knockout.

10. An anticipated debut

The unbeaten 22-year-old Aspen Ladd makes her UFC debut in Poland against Lina Lansberg in a bantamweight bout. Lansberg, a decorated muay Thai fighter, is best known for making her UFC debut against Cristiane Justino this past September. Lansberg lost to Justino via TKO.

Ladd made her pro debut with Invicta in 2015. She went 5-0 with the promotion. Four of her victories were by stoppage.

Ladd (5-0 MMA, 0-0 UFC) is an aggressive fighter who likes to pressure, but she’s never met an opponent with as much experience as Lansberg (7-2 MMA, 1-1 UFC). Her previous opponents had seven combined fights before Ladd faced them. Lansberg has nine MMA fights and almost 50 muay Thai contests to her name.

The 35-year-old Lansberg is a very tough fighter who can absorb a tremendous amount of punishment. She’ll be an excellent test for the still-developing Ladd.

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For more on UFC Fight Night 118, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

Filed under: News
Source: MMA Junkie

UFC Fight Night 118 lineup set with 12 bouts on UFC Fight Pass in Gdansk, Poland

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Filed under: News, UFC

The fight card is set for the UFC’s return to Poland later this month for UFC Fight Night 118.

UFC Fight Night 118 takes place Oct. 21 at Ergo Arena in Gdansk, Poland. The event streams live on UFC Fight Pass.

In the main event, former lightweight title challenger and current welterweight Donald Cerrone (32-9 MMA, 19-6 UFC) tries to hand Darren Till (15-0-1 MMA, 3-0-1 UFC) his first professional setback. It will be Cerrone’s first time fighting outside North America since 2007.

In the co-main event, Jodie Esquibel (6-2 MMA, 0-0 UFC) takes on former women’s strawweight title challenger Karolina Kowalkiewicz (10-2 MMA, 3-2 UFC). Kowalkiewicz, from Poland, will be looking to snap a two-fight skid – the only losses of her career, which started with a setback to champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk.

Rounding out the four-fight main card, Jan Blachowicz (19-7 MMA, 2-4 UFC) fights in front of his home Polish fans when he takes on Devin Clark (8-1 MMA, 2-1 UFC) at light heavyweight. And Poland’s Oskar Piechota (9-0-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC) makes his promotional debut in a middleweight fight against Jonathan Wilson (7-2 MMA, 1-2 UFC).

The featured fight on the eight-bout preliminary card also is a key one for Polish fans. Former Bellator standout Marcin Held (22-7 MMA, 0-3 UFC) is winless at 0-3 since signing with the UFC. He’ll take on Teemu Packalen (8-2 MMA, 1-2 UFC) at lightweight.

The full UFC Fight Night 118 lineup includes:

MAIN CARD (3 p.m. ET, UFC Fight Pass)

  • Donald Cerrone vs. Darren Till
  • Jodie Esquibel vs. Karolina Kowalkiewicz
  • Jan Blachowicz vs. Devin Clark
  • Oskar Piechota vs. Jonathan Wilson

PRELIMINARY CARD (11:45 a.m. ET, UFC Fight Pass)

For more on UFC Fight Night 118, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

Artem Lobov-Andre Fili, Smoliakov-Wieczorek set for UFC Fight Night 118 in Poland

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The UFC’s October return to Poland continues to build with another couple fights ticketed for the lineup.

Artem Lobov (13-13-1 MMA, 2-3 UFC) will take on Andre Fili (16-5 MMA, 4-4 UFC) in a featherweight bout, and Dmitrii Smoliakov (8-2 MMA, 0-2 UFC) will fight Adam Wieczorek (8-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC) at heavyweight. UFC officials recently announced the bookings.

UFC Fight Night 118 takes place Oct. 21 at Ergo Arena in Gdansk, Poland. The event will stream live on UFC Fight Pass.

Fili has alternated wins and losses for his entire eight-fight UFC tenure. He debuted with a TKO win over Jeremy Larsen nearly four years ago, giving him a 13-1 start as a pro. But since then, he has losses to current featherweight champ Max Holloway, Godofredo Pepey, Yair Rodriguez, and most recently a decision setback to Calvin Kattar at UFC 214 less than three weeks ago.

The loss to Kattar was the first decision loss of Fili’s career. Of his four wins in the promotion, two are by stoppage – a bonus-winning head-kick knockout of Gabriel Benitez in Mexico in November 2015, and his TKO of Larsen. He has decision victories over Felipe Arantes and Hacran Dias, the latter of which came nearly a year ago.

Lobov will try to get back in the win column after back-to-back decision wins over Chris Avila and Teruto Ishihara. A longtime training partner of Conor McGregor, Lobov lost Season 22 of “The Ultimate Fighter” when Ryan Hall outpointed him at the finale. After that, he dropped to featherweight from lightweight, but lost a decision to Alex White before his consecutive wins.

In April, he got the highest-profile opportunity of his career when he headlined UFC Fight Night 108 against longtime title contender Cub Swanson in Nashville. And though he gave the veteran a battle and earned “Fight of the Night” honors for the performance, he dropped a unanimous decision and saw his career record fall back to .500.

Smoliakov started his pro career a perfect 8-0 with four knockouts and four submissions. But it’s been a different story since he came to the UFC. In July 2016, he made his promotional debut at UFC on FOX 20 in Chicago, but was submitted by Luis Henrique in the second round. In January at UFC Fight Night 103, Cyril Asker knocked him out in the first round.

Wieczorek will make his UFC debut in front of his home Polish fans. The lone l oss of his pro career came to current UFC heavyweight Marcin Tybura back in 2011. But since then, he has seven straight wins, all by stoppage, to get his shot in the big show. When he steps in the cage against Smoliakov, though, it will have been more than a year since his most recent fight.

The latest UFC Fight Night 118 card now includes:

  • Ramazan Emeev vs. Trevor Smith
  • Jan Blachowicz vs. Devin Clark
  • Oskar Piechota vs. Jonathan Wilson
  • Andre Fili vs. Artem Lobov
  • Dmitrii Smoliakov vs. Adam Wieczorek

For more on UFC Fight Night 118, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie