MMAjunkie's 'Fight of the Month' for July: A long-awaited debut meets expectations

With another action-packed month of MMA in the books, MMAjunkie looks at the best fights from July. Here are the five nominees, listed in chronological order, and winner of MMAjunkie’s “Fight of the Month” award for July.

At the bottom of the post, let us know if we got it right by voting on your choice.

* * * *

The nominees

Justin Gaethje def. Michael Johnson at TUF 25 Finale

Justin Gaethje (18-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC) promised a big splash in his UFC debut, and the former WSOF champ delivered when he defeated lightweight contender Michael Johnson (17-12 MMA, 9-8 UFC).

Gaethje added yet another victory to his undefeated record when he beat Johnson by second-round TKO in a “Fight of the Year” contender, putting himself on the map in the loaded 155-pound weight class.

Robert Whittaker def. Yoel Romero at UFC 213

Robert Whittaker (19-4 MMA, 10-2 UFC) came into his UFC interim middleweight title fight against Yoel Romero (12-2 MMA, 8-1 UFC) with a bum left knee, but he didn’t expect it to give him any trouble.

That all changed in the first round, though, when Romero hit Whittaker with a side kick. Whittaker felt the pain that would stick with him for the remainder of the bout. It didn’t hinder him completely, and he pushed through with his game plan and seemingly came back from an 0-2 hole to win a unanimous decision.

Instagram Photo

Derek Campos def Brandon Girtz at Bellator 181

Derek Campos (19-6 MMA, 8-4 BMMA) and Brandon Girtz (14-7 MMA, 6-5 BMMA) have met three times under the Bellator banner, and their trilogy proved an instant classic.

The two lightweights came to bang in the catchweight contest. Ultimately, Campos took home a TKO at the close of the second round when doctors determined a nasty gash on Girtz’s forehead was bad enough to end the fight.

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Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos def. Lyman Good at UFC on FOX 25

Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos (17-5 MMA, 2-2 UFC) and Lyman Good (19-4 MMA, 1-1 UFC) threw down for 15 minutes, but dos Santos brought a few more weapons and a little more energy.

Although one judge dissented for Good, Brazilian vet dos Santos picked up two scorecards to take home the split-decision call in the entertaining welterweight affair.

Instagram Photo

Brian Ortega def. Renato Moicano at UFC 214

Brian Ortega (12-0 MMA, 4-0 UFC) and Renato Moicano (11-1-1 MMA, 3-1 UFC) were nearly two-and-a-half rounds into a striking war that fans at cageside could hear as well as they could see. Then Moicano made the questionable decision to take down Ortega.

It played right into Ortega’s submission strengths as Moicano inadvertently stuck his neck into a guillotine choke that Ortega squeezed for the finish, forcing the tap at the 2:59 mark of Round 3.

* * * *

The winner: Gaethje vs. Johnson

Michael Johnson and Justin Gaethje

The contempt between Gaethje and Johnson finally came to a head inside the octagon, and it was a sight to behold.

Gaethje overcame nearly being finished twice to storm back for a finish of his own, defeating Johnson via second-round TKO in one of the most memorable UFC debuts in history.

“You cannot break me,” Gaethje said. “I promise you. You better put me to sleep.”

It appeared that came close to happening on two occasions during this slugfest. Gaethje was getting the better of some spectacular exchanges for most of the first round, but Johnson connected flush with a right hook that badly wobbled the newcomer. Johnson went for the finish, and he might’ve gotten it, but the bell sounded.

Both fighters came out swinging again in the second round, and again Johnson landed a right hand that wobbled Gaethje but didn’t drop him. Although Johnson failed to finish, he settled in and found holes in Gaethje’s defense, allowing him to land the better shots.

That is, until Gaethje hit an uppercut in the final 90 seconds that discombobulated Johnson. From there, Gaethje continued to pour it on with more uppercuts, busting up Johnson’s face until a knee signaled the end when “Big” John McCarthy stepped in at the 4:42 mark.

“Where is my equal at?” he asked the crowd. “I’m 18-0 with 15 knockouts. Who is my equal? That’s who I want.”

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

Dangerous 'lunchbox hands' aside, learning to accept decisions was key for Bellator's Amanda Bell

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Filed under: Bellator, News, Radio Highlight, Videos

After a an undefeated 2014, Amanda Bell went through a couple rough years before finally getting herself back on track in 2017.

But the recovery came in style. After a King of the Cage win over Gabrielle Holloway in February, Bell earned her ticket into Bellator’s 145-pound division. And unlike what happened in her ultimately unsuccessful Invicta FC debut in 2013, which also happened to be Bell’s first pro fight, this time she was able to make the most out of her welcome into a big promotion.

The manner in which Bell (5-4 MMA, 1-0 BMMA) beat Brittney Elkin (3-4 MMA, 0-1 BMMA) at Bellator 181 was in line with her preference: a second-round TKO. But as it turns out, the key to get to yet another finish lay exactly in not getting too attached to the idea of it.

“One way or another, I’ve learned to be more patient,” Bell told MMAjunkie Radio. “If I can finish it with my ground-and-pound, great, but there’s people who have become smart to it. Or there are people like me, who have a great defense against any kind of punches coming down on them. I used to let it frustrate me.

“But I’ve learned to just feel like, if they’re not open in this position, then find a way to open them up and then start raining punches down. I just had to learn to slow it down a little bit and, again, be OK with being in there for three, four rounds, however long I have to be in there.”

The featherweight, who hadn’t been able to fight more than once a year since 2014,  is now riding a two-fight streak following the consecutive Invicta FC losses to champ Megan Anderson and Faith Van Duin. And her way back into a winning path was earned, incidentally, with the first decision of her career.

Still, she hasn’t lost sight of what makes her game unique. And that is something that she believes all of her opponents, win or lose, have caught a glimpse of at some point in their battles.

“I’m a beast, dude,” Bell said. “You ask anybody – anybody who got stuck underneath my ground-and-pound, even for a moment. It scares them. It does. My manager jokes – he says, ‘When you get on top of them and start throwing those lunchbox hands, it hurts.’

“I think just having the balance and the strength to have the devastating ground-and-pound has always been my calling.”

For more on Bellator’s upcoming schedule, visit the MMA Rumors section of the site.

MMAjunkie Radio broadcasts Monday-Friday at 1 p.m. ET (10 a.m. PT) live from Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino’s Race & Sports Book. The show is hosted by “Gorgeous” George Garcia and producer Brian “Goze” Garcia. For more information or to download past episodes, go to www.mmajunkie.com/radio.

Filed under: Bellator, News, Radio Highlight, Videos
Source: MMA Junkie

The MMA Road Show with John Morgan No. 121 – Las Vegas: Paul Felder, Shane O'Malley, Mayweather-McGregor world tour wrap

mma-road-show-podcast

Episode No. 121 of “The MMA Road Show with John Morgan” podcast is now available for streaming and download.

MMAjunkie lead staff reporter John Morgan hosts the show while traveling the world to cover the sport.

Cold Coffee is back from the madness that was the Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor world tour, and he recaps his whirlwind week covering the craziness. Additionally he and John Morgan talk Bellator 181, “Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series,” the return of Brock Lesnar and much, much more, while also bringing you quick interviews with UFC lightweight and now broadcaster Paul Felder, as well as new UFC fighter Shane O’Malley.

You can check it out on iTunes or at themmaroadshow.com. You can also subscribe via RSS.

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

Stream or download MMAjunkie Radio #2488 with Jake Shields, Andre Harrison and Amanda Bell

Stream or download Tuesday’s edition of MMAjunkie Radio with guests Jake Shields, Andre Harrison and Amanda Bell.

Shields and Harrison compete on July 29 at “PFL: Everett” vs. Danny Davis Jr. and Steven Rodriguez, respectively. Bell is coming off a win at Bellator 181 this past Friday, defeating Brittney Elkin via TKO.

You can listen below or download the episode from SoundCloud.

Filed under: Bellator, News, Radio
Source: MMA Junkie

Brandon Girtz still wishes his Air Jordan cut hadn't led to 'baffling' stoppage at Bellator 181

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Filed under: Bellator, News, Radio Highlight, Videos

Derek Campos might have been the official winner of Bellator 181’s headlining trilogy with Brandon Girtz, but there were certainly two stars emerging from that instant classic.

Well, three if you count the infamous cut on Girtz’s forehead.

Girtz suffered the cut within the first frame of the main event. Spectators got their first good glance of it as he returned to the stool and the blood was wiped away. Late in the second round, referee John McCarthy called the doctor to assess the gash, but the fight was allowed to continue. Girtz, who even scored a late knockdown, went back to his stool as normal. From there, he awaited what he believed would be a third round.

Instead, the fight was called off.

The cut wasn’t exactly pretty. And the fact that it ended up requiring 33 stitches shows it wasn’t shallow, either. But Girtz is still not OK with how it brought Friday’s main event to a halt. More than the stoppage, itself, his problem seems to be with the process that led to it.

“I thought we were going into a third round,” Girtz told MMAjunkie Radio a few days after Friday’s event at WinStar World Casino and Resort in Thackerville, Okla. “All they kept telling me is, ‘We’re not going to stop it if it doesn’t get worse.’ All I could hear is, ‘It hasn’t gotten worse.’ I’m hearing all the right things. And then third round’s about to start and they’re like, ‘Nope, there’s no third round.’

Brandon Girtz

“It was just baffling. I was feeling good and they were telling me there was no change in the cut from the minute it happened to then. I didn’t feel like I was really taking damage into the cut. So it hurt, man. I was ready for a third round. I thought I was doing what I had to do.

“(The) doctor never said, ‘I’m stopping it’ or anything like that. I think he got out of the ring and then said ‘It’s done,’ because he didn’t want me to plead with him or something. I don’t know. That’s why it was pretty painful. In my heart, I was already going into a third round. And to have it just scrapped like that, it felt really awkward.”

Speaking of awkward: Girtz’s gash was later tended to by the same doctor that made the call. In fact, he suspects the 33 stitches might have included some extra care to make him “look pretty.” Girtz says that the doctor did explain his decision, citing safety concerns. But the fighter thought it would be wise not to press the issue too much.

“I wanted to, but the dude was back there working on my head,” Girzt said. “I didn’t really want to get into an argument. I wanted to say I strongly disagree, but the dude was back there stitching up my skull. I kind of just held in. At the end I told him I wish he wouldn’t have stopped it, but that’s all I could say at the time.”

General dissatisfaction aside, Girtz takes some solace on the fact that the battle was quickly praised as one for the ages. And as for the gash’s own rise to fame due to its likeness to the “Jumpman” logo Nike uses to promote Air Jordan?

“I chuckled at that,” Girtz said. “I can see it. It’s nothing that I need to get upset about. It’s definitely one of the biggest scars I’ve ever had, that’s for sure. I represent my scars, man. I’m out here doing stuff.”

Campos (19-6 MMA, 8-4 BMMA) was ultimately declared the winner via TKO. And, with the catchweight battle holding scorecards of 19-19, 20-18 and 18-20 up until the stoppage, it probably doesn’t help Girtz’s (14-7 MMA, 6-5 BMMA) heartbreak that he felt he had momentum on his side heading into the third frame.

“I thought I was the one pushing the pace and landing the strikes,” Girtz said. “I was watching Derek’s face, and it definitely wasn’t of happiness. I thought the third round was going to be mine. I really felt like I was the one coming forward and I was the one really hurting somebody.”

Which is not to say Girtz is in any way discounting his opponent. Quite the contrary – he’s all praise for Campos and the fact he was able to come back from shots that, from where Girtz was standing, should’ve been more than enough to put him away.

“And that man freaking came back,” Girtz said. “I saw him go away for a second. And he came back. There’s only ups to Derek. He’s a tough dude.”

With Campos now 2-1 in their trilogy, how does Girtz feel about evening out the score? Well, we’re not so sure ourselves.

“I definitely feel like there’s unfinished business,” Girtz said. “Am I yelling out, ‘I want to fight Derek’? I like Derek a lot. We got out there – he’s definitely one of the guys I like the most I’ve ever fought. So it’s hard to say I want another fight. Definitely, I do feel like there’s a lot of unfinished business. I wanted to do that third round. I felt great. It hurts, how it ended.”

For more on Bellator 181, check out the MMA Events section of the site.

MMAjunkie Radio broadcasts Monday-Friday at 1 p.m. ET (10 a.m. PT) live from Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino’s Race & Sports Book. The show is hosted by “Gorgeous” George Garcia and producer Brian “Goze” Garcia. For more information or to download past episodes, go to www.mmajunkie.com/radio.

Filed under: Bellator, News, Radio Highlight, Videos
Source: MMA Junkie

Watch MMAjunkie Radio here (1 p.m. ET) with Kurt Holobaugh, Jake Shields, Andre Harrison and Amanda Bell

Filed under: Bellator, News, UFC, WSOF

MMAjunkie Radio kicks off today at 1 p.m. ET (10 a.m. PT) with guests Kurt Holobaugh, Jake Shields, Andre Harrison and Amanda Bell.

Holobaugh defeated Matt Bessette on July 11 at “Dana White’s Contender Series: Week 1.” Shields fights Danny Davis Jr. and Harrison meets Steven Rodriguez on July 29 at “PFL: Everett.” Bell defeated Brittney Elkin on Friday at Bellator 181.

MMAjunkie Radio airs from 1 to 3 p.m. ET (10 a.m. to noon PT), live from Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino in Las Vegas. You can watch and listen live on MMAjunkie’s Facebook and YouTube pages. Additionally, SiriusXM Rush (Ch. 93) carries a replay later in the day (8-10 p.m. ET) and the following morning (7-9 a.m. ET), or catch a replay on demand.

MMAjunkie Radio listener guide:

  • HOW TO WATCH (ON WEB): Watch a live stream on MMAjunkie’s Facebook or YouTube pages.
  • HOW TO CALL: MMAjunkie Radio takes phone calls from listeners throughout the show. Call into the MMAjunkie Radio hotline at (866) 522-2846.
  • HOW TO DISCUSS: The MMAjunkie MMA Forums has a section devoted solely to MMAjunkie Radio. Stop by the MMAjunkie Radio forum to discuss the show, interact with the hosts, suggest future guests and catch up on the latest MMAjunkie Radio news.
  • HOW TO VISIT THE SHOW: You can watch MMAjunkie Radio live and in person at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino on the world-famous Las Vegas Strip. The booth is located in the resort’s Race & Sports Book next to the Mandalay Bay poker room. To plan a trip to Sin City and MMAjunkie Radio, go to www.mandalaybay.com.

Filed under: Bellator, News, UFC, WSOF
Source: MMA Junkie

Stream or download MMAjunkie Radio #2487 with Boston Salmon, Brandon Girtz and Dan Tom

Stream or download Monday’s edition of MMAjunkie Radio with guests Boston Salmon, Brandon Girtz and Dan Tom.

Salmon is fresh off a victory at “Dana White’s Contender Series: Week 1,” where he also netted himself a UFC contract. Girtz headlined Bellator 181 on Friday and suffered a loss to Derek Campos via cut in a Fight of the Year contender. MMA analyst Tom was our in-studio guest host.

You can listen below or download the episode from SoundCloud.

Filed under: Bellator, News, Radio, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

Watch MMAjunkie Radio here (1 p.m. ET) with Brandon Girtz, Boston Salmon and Dan Tom

Filed under: News, UFC

MMAjunkie Radio kicks off today at 1 p.m. ET (10 a.m. PT) with guests Brandon Girtz, Boston Salmon and Dan Tom.

Girtz came up short after suffering a cut in Friday’s Bellator 181 headliner with Derek Campos. Salmon won a UFC contract this past week after a win at “Dana White’s Contender Series: Week 1.” MMA analyst Tom is our in-studio guest host.

MMAjunkie Radio airs from 1 to 3 p.m. ET (10 a.m. to noon PT), live from Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino in Las Vegas. You can watch and listen live on MMAjunkie’s Facebook and YouTube pages. Additionally, SiriusXM Rush (Ch. 93) carries a replay later in the day (8-10 p.m. ET) and the following morning (7-9 a.m. ET), or catch a replay on demand.

MMAjunkie Radio listener guide:

  • HOW TO WATCH (ON WEB): Watch a live stream on MMAjunkie’s Facebook or YouTube pages.
  • HOW TO CALL: MMAjunkie Radio takes phone calls from listeners throughout the show. Call into the MMAjunkie Radio hotline at (866) 522-2846.
  • HOW TO DISCUSS: The MMAjunkie MMA Forums has a section devoted solely to MMAjunkie Radio. Stop by the MMAjunkie Radio forum to discuss the show, interact with the hosts, suggest future guests and catch up on the latest MMAjunkie Radio news.
  • HOW TO VISIT THE SHOW: You can watch MMAjunkie Radio live and in person at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino on the world-famous Las Vegas Strip. The booth is located in the resort’s Race & Sports Book next to the Mandalay Bay poker room. To plan a trip to Sin City and MMAjunkie Radio, go to www.mandalaybay.com.

Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

Watch the bloody Bellator 181 main event between Derek Campos and Brandon Girtz in full

Filed under: Bellator, Featured, News, Videos

On Friday night, Derek Campos took the lead in his rivalry with Brandon Girtz, but it took all kinds of blood to get it done.

In the Bellator 181 headliner on Spike at WinStar World Casino and Resort in Thackerville, Okla., lightweight Campos (19-6 MMA, 8-4 BMMA) got a TKO win over Girtz (14-7 MMA, 6-5 BMMA) in the second round thanks to a brutal cut … a cut that looked like the Nike Air Jordan “Jumpman” logo.

If you missed Friday’s main event, or just want to see the thriller again, check out the video above. And don’t miss our exclusive photo gallery below.

And for more on Bellator 181, including a full event recap, check out the MMA Events section of the site.

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

Bellator 181 post-event facts: Joe Warren creeps toward Bellator's all-time wins record

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Filed under: Bellator, News

The third chapter in the competitive story between Derek Campos and Brandon Girtz took place Friday in Bellator 181’s headliner at WinStar World Casino and Resort in Thackerville, Okla.

Campos (19-6 MMA, 7-4 BMMA) gained a 2-1 advantage in the series when a knee opened a cut on Girtz’s (14-7 MMA, 6-5 BMMA) forehead, leading to a doctor’s stoppage at the end of the second round in the Spike-televised main event. Prelims streamed on MMAjunkie.

For all the numbers to come out of Bellator’s latest event, check below for 20 post-event facts.

* * * *

General

Michael C. Williams

Betting favorites went 3-0 on the main card. One fight had even odds.

Betting favorites remained 8-3 in Bellator main events this year. Campos vs. Girtz closed with even odds.

Total fight time for the four-bout main card was 44:37.

* * * *

Main card

Derek Campos and Brandon Girtz

Campos’ four-fight winning streak is the longest of his Bellator career.

Campos has earned all of his Bellator stoppage victories by strikes.

Girtz suffered his third consecutive loss, the longest skid of his career. He hasn’t earned a victory since November 2015.

Girtz has suffered both of his Bellator stoppage losses due to strikes.

John Salter

John Salter’s (14-3 MMA, 4-0 BMMA) four-fight Bellator winning streak in middleweight competition is the second longest active streak in the division behind Rafael Carvalho (five).

Salter has earned all 13 of his career victories by stoppage.

Salter’s three submission victories in Bellator middleweight competition are tied with Justin Butcher for most in divisional history.

Kendall Grove (23-17 MMA, 4-4 BMMA) fell to 5-7 in his past 12 fights.

Grove has suffered 12 of his 17 career losses by stoppage.

Grove suffered his first submission loss since Dec. 1, 2012 – a span of 1,686 days (more than four years) and 11 fights.

Emily Ducote

Emily Ducote’s (6-2 MMA, 4-1 BMMA) four Bellator victories in women’s flyweight competition are second most in divisional history behind Ilima Macfarlane (five).

Jessica Middleton (2-2 MMA, 2-2 BMMA) suffered the first decision loss of her career.

Joe Warren’s (15-6 MMA, 13-5 BMMA) 13 victories in Bellator competition are tied with lightweight champ Michael Chandler for second most in company history behind Patricio Freire (14).

Warren’s nine victories in Bellator bantamweight competition are second most in company history behind champ Eduardo Dantas (10).

Joe Warren

Warren has alternated wins and losses over his past seven fights.

Warren has earned 10 of his 15 career victories by decision. That includes nine of his 13 wins under the Bellator banner.

Steve Garcia (7-2 MMA, 5-2 BMMA) has suffered both of his career losses by decision.

For complete coverage of Bellator 181, check out the MMA Events section of the site.

Filed under: Bellator, News
Source: MMA Junkie