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Jake’s Takes: Volkanovski vs Cejudo is the fight to make in 2022

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Teased since 2020, it seems like Henry Cejudo might finally be returning to the Octagon. The former double-champ bowed out from competition in the midst of his prime, but has teased a possible comeback. One of the names that has been mentioned in these potential returns has been reigning featherweight Alexander Volkanovski. Is this the time that we finally see this superfight?

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

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After creating one of the best legacies of recent times, Henry Cejudo decided to retire from MMA. Even if nobody really believed that Cejudo was gone for good, it marked a new era for the 135lb division that he had ruled. Throughout the course of his retirement, one fight was constantly and consistently on Cejudo’s tongue: Alexander ‘The Great‘ Volkanovski.

Since Cejudo’s retirement, UFC featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski has shown his incredible skill. Though he may have been in the bad graces of the fans after a close rematch with Max Holloway, Volkanovski put on an instant classic performance against Brian Ortega. The Aussie has proven himself to be an elite pound-for-pound talent in the past few years.

After the aforementioned win against Ortega at UFC 266, Cejudo started an online campaign to finally set up a fight with Volkanovski. The reigning champ said he would happily take the fight, if the conditions were right. Speaking to ESPN’s Marc Raimondi, the former champ Cejudo talked about how the Volkanovski fight could be set up.

“On top of everything that’s going on in my life, I still think about winning that third belt. I really do. I think it’s attainable. I think anybody is crazy to count me out. Hate the persona, hate the cringe, but dude, facts are facts. I’m an accomplished athlete. If you can name someone who’s more accomplished more than me in combat sports, I’ll bend the knee. But there isn’t.”

“So, yeah, I believe that I’m entitled to skip the whole damn line and fight Volkanovski. Because I deserve it. I won the flyweight belt from Demetrious Johnson, I beat TJ Dillashaw, I went up [to bantamweight] and knocked out Marlon Moraes, then defended it against Dominick Cruz, the greatest bantamweight of all time. But they’re still gonna doubt me.”

“It’s not even a challenge against Volkanovski. I know he’s probably a little bit afraid that this flyweight could potentially beat him. This challenge is for Dana White. Dana said that he would never doubt me […] once I beat Marlon and won my second belt.”

“I promise you, Alexander ‘The Average‘ wouldn’t last longer than three rounds with ‘Triple C‘.”

Dana White, however, wasn’t exactly keen on the idea of a Volkanovski vs Cejudo fight. Citing other worthy contenders & fearing a repeat of the ‘GSP at 185lbs’ fiasco, White called the situation a “tough conversation”.

For me, I think this is the ultimate fight to make in 2022. We have never seen a fighter attempt to win a third title in the UFC. This would be truly unprecidented, if it were to happen. Cejudo’s devotion to the cause is visible in his interviews. This isn’t just a publicity stunt, like some of his other attempts at staying relevant. This is a serious appeal to Dana White.

If Cejudo were to win, it would cement his legacy as one of the best fighters in MMA history. On top of the three title wins, Volkanovski’s name would be pricless on Cejudo’s resume of opponents. If I were Dana White, I’d be straight into the matchmaking room with this fight in mind.

Even for Volkanovski, though he feels he hasn’t anything to gain, a win over Cejudo would be massive for his own legacy. A former double-champion with an elite skillset? Nothing to be overlooked when analysing Volkanovski’s career when it’s all said and done.

Of course, I understand the hesitancy from White. Having Cejudo leapfrog the 145lb contenders would damage the legitimacy of the rankings system. As I mentioned earlier, Georges St. Pierre came out of retirement, moved a weight class, won the title and vacated it very shortly afterwards. It’s clear that’s another reason as to why White is reluctant to let Cejudo challenge for the title at featherweight. Unless he contractually agrees to defend the title, who’s to say the division won’t be in disaray if Cejudo vacates after a win?

Despite the risks, I maintain my position that Volkanovksi vs Cejudo is the fight that needs to happen in 2022. If anything at all, it’ll be an exciting battle between two of this generation’s top talents.

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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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