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Jake’s Takes: Francis Ngannou leaving the UFC?

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If you’ve been keeping up with MMA news lately, you might have heard about the situation with Francis Ngannou. The reigning UFC heavyweight champion has made headlines due to the fact that he may be leaving the promotion in 2022. Is this all an over exaggeration or will we really see Ngannou in the Octagon for the last time next year?

Here is my two cents on it all – this is Jake’s Takes!

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It’s no secret that Ngannou and the UFC have been at odds in recent times. The promotion hasn’t given the champion very much wiggle room. They initially wanted Ngannou to defend his title in June, but that wasn’t on the cards. A fight with Derrick Lewis was reluctantly booked for August, but the champ needed more time to prepare.

The UFC, instead, booked Lewis to fight rising star Ciryl Gane. No disrespect to Gane, but the only reason he’s holding the interim title is because the UFC created that fight to force Ngannou’s hand.

Ngannou also claimed that the UFC had been extending his deal without his knowing. The champ claimed that his contract was due to expire in May 2021. The ‘Champion’s Clause’ in his contract – something mentioned plentifully in the Zuffa antitrust lawsuit – means that the UFC can add fights to a champion’s contract whenever they wish. He also mentioned the ‘Tolling Provisions’ clause, which adds fights to a contract when they’re inactive.

It seemed like things had finally settled between Ngannou and the higher-ups when a title unification bout was booked for UFC 270. Tensions began to flare up once again in November, however, when Ngannou claimed that UFC staff intentionally made him walk past Gane at UFC 268, trying to set up a photo opportunity or altercation of some kind.

The biggest bit of news came earlier this month, with the champ claiming he only had a single bout left on his deal. Ngannou claimed that – should he be unhappy with the status of his next contract – would leave the UFC. This sparked massive media coverage. UFC president Dana White seemed to think that Ngannou leaving was a totally viable option.

White said, “These things happen. Sometimes you don’t always come to terms with people… look, if you wanna be with us, we’d love to have you. If you don’t want to be with us, no problem. It’s all good.”

Despite this, if Ngannou unifies the title at UFC 270, I see the promotion extending his deal once again. The ‘Champion’s Clause’ that I mentioned earlier on gives the UFC the power to add fights to his contract at their discretion. White might seem nonchalant about letting Ngannou leave, but let’s be real: he’s not letting his champion leave for a rival promotion.

Should Ngannou lose and Gane becomes undisputed, there’s a fairer chance that the promotion allows him to leave. Even still, let’s not kid ourselves, there is no reason not to give Ngannou the contract he wants. He has a large following in the MMA community and has the potential to go mainstream. He’s got the hardest recorded human punch ever, for God’s sake.

Win, lose or draw, I don’t see Ngannou leaving the UFC. There may be more to this dispute than White’s tight-fistedness, but either way – I will be very surprised if we see the last of ‘The Predator‘ in the Octagon at UFC 270.

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5 takeaways from ONE: Only the Brave

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ONE Championship were back today with ONE: Only the Brave, an event which although it was hit by cancellations as always, still saw us able to tuck into an 11 fight card! With the semi finals of the featherweight kickboxing grand prix and some big contests in terms of divisional standings, here are 5 takeaways from ONE: Only the Brave.

Kondratev can upset at featherweight

Kondratev may not be a huge name In a shark tank of featherweight kickboxers, but with a superb finish over the previously undefeated Dovydas Rimkus, he’s certainly shown he has upset potential. Obviously he has bags of kickboxing ability, but what’s most noticeable is that always threatening fight ending power. Even in his ONE debut loss to Pound for pound staple Marat Grigorian, Ivan’s power shone through, putting the Armenian down, a man who’s renowned for being able to take a hit. Although he finds himself in argueably the most stacked kickboxing division of all time, Kondratev has shown he’s never out of the fight, something to keep in mind going forward. He can land, he can hard and he can certainly stir up that division.

Brooks is belt bound

UFC veteran Jarred Brooks may have only debuted for ONE in January with a round 2 submission over Lito Adiwang, but with a huge unanimous decision victory over today over #4 ranked strawweight Hiroba Minowa, he looks to be on a direct path to ONE gold.
He may possess a set of underrated a deceptively fast hands, but its no secret Brooks’ bread and butter is his suffocating wrestling base. He’s used this imposing tool to tear through his ONE opposition thus far and looks to face strawweight King Joshua Pacio next time out. If he sticks to his strengths and matches the pace he’s been setting in recent outings, you can’t help but think he’s going to be a nightmare for all the top strawweights and flyweights ONE have to offer.

Opacic is the uncrowded king at heavyweight.

ONE’s heavyweight kickboxing division may not be the deepest division they have, but ONE things for sure, Rade Opacic is the uncrowded king. ONE bring in new heavyweights and Opacic just keeps knocking them down. He continued his impressive streak today with a second round TKO over a game Francesko Xhaja. Since joining ONE, Opacic is 4-0, all 4 being second round stoppages credit to his heavy hands and composed yet very intelligent kickboxing style for a man who’s just 24 years of age. Body work, head shots, leg kicks, you name it Rade sprinkles his whole arsenal into these contests which makes him so unpredictable and dangerous. Yet to be challenged, expect this Serbian to continue adding to an already violent highlight reel as he surges toward that gold strap.

Zhang Lipeng is DANGEROUS

We were initially impressed with the experienced Lipeng after his debut unanimous decision victory over former champ Eduard Folyang last August. Fast forward to earlier today he wasted no time forcing his name into lightweight contention, flatlining a confident Ruslan Emilbek Uulu in just 32 seconds with a vicious two piece. Lipeng is showing it all, he can go the distance imposing a well rounded game and he harbours that killer instinct and power to end the fight in an instant. A very exciting addition to an electric lightweight roster, don’t be surprised if Lipeng causes some damage to those rankings come years end.

Chingiz Allazov is a threat to Superbons throne

Although suffering a tough defeat to Enriko Kehl on his ONE debut, Chingiz Allazov has since shown everyone why he’s one of the best featherweight kickboxers in the world. The vicious beat down of Samy Sana in just 39 seconds was one thing, but today even having suffered a late opponent change, Allazov decemated and outclassed Thai warrior Joe Nattawut. Utilising those fast and slick boxing combinations and implementing the body work he does so well, all Allazov needed was to accompany them with a couple of bludgeoning head kicks and it was wraps for his Thai opponent. Don’t be fooled by his debut, Allazov is very much one of the best kickboxers on earth, once he finds that rhythm he’s seemingly unstoppable, don’t be surprised at all if he takes the grand prix title.

Also on the card, Sitthichai Sitsongpeenong looks untouchable, convincingly taking out Davit Kiria in the second featherweight semi final bout, securing a comfertable unanimous decision victory. The Thai violently picks Kiria apart utilising all of his tools in a masterful fashion. He will take on Chingiz Allazov in the featherweight grand prix final. A Superb victory for both fighters, what a final we have in store.

Full results for ONE: Only the Brave:

Sitthichai Sitsongpeenong def Davit Kiria via unanimous decision

Chingiz Allazov def Joe Nattawut via round 1 TKO

Zhang Lipeng def Ruslan Emilbek Uulu via round 1 KO

Rade Opacic def Francesko Xhaja via round 2 TKO

Hiroyuki Tetsuka def Edson Marques via round 3 KO

Jarred Brooks def Hiroba Minowa via unanimous decision

Ivan Kondratev def Dovydas Rimkus via round 3 KO

Tatsumitsu Wada def Wang Shuo via unanimous decision

Purev Otgonjargal def Micael De Jesus via unanimous decision

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ONE: ONLY THE BRAVE Final Weight and Hydration Results

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ONE: ONLY THE BRAVE goes down today headlined by a Featherweight Kickboxing grand-prix semi-final between Sitthichai Sitsongpeenong and Davit Kiria. Jarred Brooks and Zhang Lipeng will also feature on the card under MMA rules.

You can see the full final weigh-in and hydration results below.

ONE: ONLY THE BRAVE Final Weight and Hydration Results

Kickboxing – Featherweight (65.9 KG – 70.3 KG)
Sitthichai Sitsongpeenong (69.25 KG, 1.0066) vs. Davit Kiria (70.30 KG, 1.0091)

Kickboxing – Featherweight (65.9 KG – 70.3 KG)
Jo Nattawut (69.45 KG, 1.0057) vs. Chingiz Allazov (70.20 KG, 1.0241)

Mixed Martial Arts – Featherweight (65.9 KG – 70.3 KG)
Kim Jae Woong (70.20 KG, 1.0156) vs. Tang Kai (70.10 KG, 1.0229)

Mixed Martial Arts – Lightweight (70.4 KG – 77.1 KG)
Ruslan Emilbek Uulu (77.05 KG, 1.0144) vs. Zhang Lipeng (76.85 KG, 1.0233)

Kickboxing – Heavyweight (102.2 KG – 120.2 KG)
Rade Opacic (111.50 KG, 1.0176) vs. Francesko Xhaja (103.00 KG, 1.0031)

Mixed Martial Arts – Strawweight (52.3 KG – 56.7 KG)
Hiroba Minowa (56.40 KG, 1.0087) vs. Jarred Brooks (56.25 KG, 1.0005)

Kickboxing – Catchweight (71.65 KG)*
Ivan Kondratev (70.95 KG, 1.0191) vs. Dovydas Rimkus (71.65 KG, 1.0009)

Mixed Martial Arts – Catchweight (61.50 KG)**
Tatsumitsu Wada (60.95 KG, 1.0044) vs. Wang Shuo (61.50 KG, 1.0091)

Mixed Martial Arts – Welterweight (77.2 KG – 83.9 KG)
Hiroyuki Tetsuka (83.15 KG, 1.0229) vs. Edson Marques (83.60 KG, 1.0078)

Mixed Martial Arts – Catchweight (108.0 KG)
Anderson Silva (108.00 KG, 1.0128) vs. Paul Elliott (106.15 KG, 1.0070)

Mixed Martial Arts – Bantamweight (61.3 KG – 65.8 KG)
Purev Otgonjargal (65.40 KG, 1.0009) vs. Micael De Jesus (64.30 KG, 1.0160)

Hydration values less than or equal to 1.0250 earn a passing mark, while values greater than or equal to 1.0251 earn a failing mark. Athletes who failed weight and hydration tests on Day 1 or Day 2 are given another chance to clear tests on the morning of the event.

*Bout originally at featherweight (65.9 KG – 70.3 KG), now at a catchweight of 71.65 KG. Both athletes failed to pass weight and hydration. Bout is no longer a ONE Featherweight Kickboxing World Grand Prix alternate.

**Bout originally at flyweight (56.8 KG – 61.2 KG), now at a catchweight of 61.50 KG. Wang Shuo failed to pass weight and hydration, and will forfeit a percentage of his purse to Tatsumitsu Wada.

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Team Renegade’s Tom Breese signs multi-fight deal with Levels Fight League

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Top UK fighter Tom Breese (12-3) has officially signed a multi-fight deal with Levels Fight League and will make his promotional debut at LFL 4 on March 13. 

The fighter and coach out esteemed UK gym Team Renegade, which houses stars such as Leon Edwards, Jai Herbert & Aiden Lee, joins the dutch promotion folliwng his release last year from the UFC.

During his time within the UFC, the 30 year old enjoyed a 5-3 run in the UFC between 2016 and 2021 with notable wins over Dan Kelly, Cathal Pendred, and Keita Nakamura, and earned ‘Performance of the Night’ honours on three occasions.

Tom Breese will face David Ramires (8-4) in the main event of Levels Fight League 4. The Dutch-based Brazilian won his last fight via knockout in the first minute of the first round in the main event of LFL 3 back in October and will be aiming for a repeat performance. 

LFL 4 will be available to watch live around the world on www.LFLMMA.com on March 13!

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