Sanabul Fight News: Week 8

UFC 273 included two title fights, and a non-title fight which may have generated more PPV buys than both the others combined. With Aljamain Sterling and Petr Yans rematch being one of the biggest stories on the card, we also had Alexander Volkanovski facing the legendary Korean Zombie, and Gilbert Burns attempting to stop the hype train Khamzhat Chimaev in his tracks.

The prelims did not disappoint on Saturday night, with veteran Julio Arce kicking off the card against UFC debutant Daniel Santos, Julio has an incredible record of 18-5 and won the fight convincingly with over 80 more significant strikes than Daniel. Julio should get a step back up in competition and you likely won’t see him on the early prelims again for a while.
 
Kay Hansen and Pieira Rodriguez had a fun fight with Kay getting two takedowns and two minutes of ground control time in the first to take the league. Former DWCS winner, Rodriguez, came back to win the next two rounds somewhat convingly with three total takedowns of her own and 23 more significant strikes to sway the judges in her way and move her record up to 8-0. Kay Hansen is now on a 3-fight loss streak and the UFC will likely have to make a tough decision when it comes to re-negotiating her contract.
Aleksei Oleinik and Jared Vanderaa had a particularly odd matchup with Aleksei being 44 years old and Jared being 12-8, this fight wasn’t expected to be too exciting. Aleksei was going into the fight with 59 wins and was intent on coming out with his 60th, which he did in exciting fashion. Oleinik locked up a neck crank to secure his 47th professional MMA submission, and stated in his post-fight interview with Joe Rogan that he does not plan on retiring anytime soon. Congratulations to Aleksei for being such a legend of the sport and having the skills and confidence at that age to finish a younger man in the first round, what an inspiration!
Mike Malott had a very impressive debut in the UFC with a KO win over veteran grappler Mickey Gall in the first round. Mike has quite a bit of hype around him, representing Canada, he won his fight on DWCS fairly easily with a very quick submission win, and got fast-tracked to a veteran like Mickey Gall on such a high-radar card, Mike is definitely a new contender to watch in the Welterweight division. I would look for him to fight a 12-15 ranked opponent next if they are looking to ride the hype that is currently buzzing around Malott, Li Jingliang was an athlete that was at the press conference asking questions to the athletes, this would be a good fight to make with Li Jingliang coming off a loss to Khamzhat Chimaev.

Anthony Hernandez and Josh Fremd had an interesting matchup, with Hernandez having 6 submissions in 9 wins, and Josh being 3 inches taller with 7/9 wins coming via finish, many fans were looking forward to seeing an all-out war from these two middleweights. Anthony Hernandez showed some very impressive grappling/wrestling skills, and a pace that I have not seen from a middleweight in a very long time. Josh couldn’t keep up with the pace Anthony was keeping up, with 8 total takedowns and about 20 submission attempts, somehow the fight lasted the distance with Anthony winning in convincing fashion. If you are a fan of BJJ in MMA and missed this fight, I implore you to go run it back.  

The featured prelim was looked forward to by many, Ian Garry being one of the most anticipated prospects of the year, Darian Weeks was a very game opponent and many were looking at this fight as a test to see if Ian Garry really was the next best prospect in the division. Ian ended up winning in relatively convincing fashion, although there was some controversy from those who thought Darians clinch game and takedown could have been the decisive factor in the fight. I would not feel confident in making a case for Ian clearly winning the fight, and considering Darian weeks is now 0-2 in the UFC, this for sure slowed down the hype around Ian Garry and his rise to fame. Now, a win is a win, so I would look to move Ian up in competition as he continues to improve at such a young age of 24. A good fight to make would be against a veteran like Matt Brown, or a non-ranked welterweight like Niko Price.

Tecia Torres and Mackenzie Dern was a bout that was included in the press conference last Thursday, with Mackenzie starting a little bit of trash talk asking what would happen if she took Tecia down, and when she has her arms around her neck strangling her. Both athletes impressed during this fight, with Mackenzie being such an incredible grappler, it was impressive that Tecia was able to defend all of her submission attempts, and Mackenzie impressed with her standup, arguably beating Tecia on the feet as well as on the ground. It wasn’t an obvious win for Mackenzie, but I could definitely make a convincing case for her winning the decision. Mackenzie will likely get a fight with a top-5 fighter in the division, and with the Weili/Joanna rematch coming up, she could wait and take whoever loses in that matchup.

There were three UFC Countdown videos posted on the official UFC YouTube channel. One had 1.6M views, one had 575k views, and the last had 360k views. Can you guess which fight had the most and which had the least? If you guessed Gilbert Burns and Khamzhat Chimaev having 1.6M views, you were right, and wow was the hype deserved. This fight was one of the most incredible fights of the year, and I would place it at my #1 for 2022 so far for sure. If you missed this fight you need to go watch it, maybe two or three times.

The pair were nonstop trying to finish each other from the moment the fight began to the moment it ended, and the willpower and heart each of the men showed to completely empty their gas tanks until the second the fight ended was a statement of where each of these men are at in this division. Khamzhat had lots of pressure to prove the hype was real, and to prove how skilled he really is. Gilbert’s pressure was different, he was fighting to prove the doubters wrong, and to prove he is still a contender in the division. I believe both of these men proved their points this fight, and next matchups could be Khamzhat/Colby or Khamzhat/Usman and Gilbert/Colby or Gilbert and the winner of Luque/Muhammad.

Aljamain Sterling may have had the most pressure on him out of anyone on the card, with the belt around his waist since the first match, and the questions surrounding how much he deserves the title of Bantamweight champion, he needed to make a statement in this fight. Petr Yan also was incredibly hungry to take back the belt he felt he deserved after the first fight, and this matchup was extremely hyped up for the last few months. Aljamain clearly had a new game plan coming into this fight, and showed off his extremely slick and dominant grappling in the first three rounds, pretty clearly going up 3-0 in my opinion. Yan came back in the last two rounds as Aljamain’s pace slowed down considerably and could have taken the last two rounds. The challenger will always need to clearly beat the champion to take the belt, and Yan did not do that, resulting in Aljamain retaining control of his belt. TJ Dillashaw was cageside and Aljamain got on the mic with a callout that will look to set up TJ for another shot at the Bantamweight title.

Alex Volkanovski showed his high level all-around MMA skills in the headliner against Chan-Sung Jung, with a relatively easy TKO in the fourth round. Zombie was on the mic after the fight stating that after every loss he takes he reconsiders retiring, and he will wait to make an official decision until after the emotions wear off. Honestly, the featherweight division (Other than Max Holloway), is clearly not at the same level as Alex yet, so we will likely see the trilogy with the two best in the division go down next. The fight ended Saturday night with Herb Dean ending the fight after a hard punch from Alex clearly shook up Zombie, and the fight was ended while both men were on their feet.

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