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PFL 2022 | Inside the lightweight division

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Despite it being the women’s lightweight and men’s welterweight divisions time to shine on Friday, May 6th, a lightweight clash between between Anthony Pettis and Ireland’s own Myles Price is stealing the limelight for UK and Irish viewers. Ahead of the bout, we take a look inside the lightweight division and weigh-up who could come out on top as the season progresses.

Anthony Pettis (24-12)

A former UFC and WEC champion, Anthony ‘Showtime’ Pettis was a big signing for the PFL in its last season. Without a win in the promotion after losing to Clay Collard and Raush Manfio, Pettis entered last season off the back of two wins in the UFC over Donald Cerrone and Alex Morono. Everyone knows that you can never count Pettis out in a fight and he gets the chance to start over in the PFL with his opening bout against Ireland’s Myles Price.

Clay Collard (21-9, 1 NC)

After leaving the UFC and competing in Boxing for several years, Collard stepped into the PFL and has instantly made an impact as a fan favourite. After beating Pettis in the opening round last season, Collard made it to the semi-finals before losing to Manfio. He once again kicked off the season with an incredible fight, taking on another former UFC debutant in Jeremy Stephens. ‘Cassius’ Clay Collard is without a finish so far in the PFL but is never in a dull fight because of his boxing output.

Jeremy Stephens (28-20)

One of the most devastating finishers the UFC has ever seen, ‘Lil Heathen’ finally saw his UFC run come to an end after five straight losses. With 19 of his pro wins coming via KO/TKO, his highlight reel is one of the very best in MMA period. His PFL debut delivered and then some with a war against Clay Collard that set the tone for this season. Tied with Anderson Silva for the second-most knockdowns in UFC history, it’s only a matter of time before Stephens finds a finish in his new home.

Raush Manfio (16-3)

The reigning champion of this division, Raush Manfio proved exactly why he has that status in his first fight of this season. After likely losing the first two rounds to Don Madge, Manfio pulled out a huge overhand right to stop Madge and claim some points on the board. His opponent in the final last season, Loik Radzhabov, is no longer with the promotion but winning the tournament for a second time will be an extremely tough task for the Brazilian.

Olivier Aubin-Mercier (14-5)

After debuting in the UFC in his fifth pro fight and competing there 12 times, Aubin-Mercier became a free agent in 2019 after losing three in a row. The Canadian is currently 3-0 in the PFL, picking up two wins last year and getting three points on the board this season with a split decision win over Natan Schulte. Yet to be finished in 19 fights, Aubin-Mercier is a tough fight for anyone in the division and he’s off to a good start.

Stevie Ray (23-10)

A former UFC and Cage Warriors fighter, Scotland’s Stevie Ray lost his opening contest to Alex Martinez but his resume in the UFC speaks for itself. Wins over the likes of Michael Johnson, Joe Lauzon and Ross Pearson kept ‘Braveheart’ in the UFC for 11 fights. Now with his back somewhat against the wall after losing his PFL debut, it’s time for the Scotsman to do what he’s done so many times in his career and rebound with a win.

Don Madge (10-4-1)

South Africa’s ‘Magic Man’, Don Madge is a very exciting prospect in this division. After competing in EFC, Madge was signed to the UFC and picked up two wins over Te Edwards and Fares Ziam. After four cancelled bouts in a row, Madge left the UFC and picked up a debut PFL win over Nathan Williams. Whilst he lost his first fight of the season after being caught by Manfio, Madge put in a great performance up to the point of the overhand. Though he may have taken a loss, the rest of the division will surely be alerted by how effective Madge looked against the reigning champion.

Alexander Martinez (9-2, 1 NC)

Returning for a second run in the PFL lightweight division, Martinez’s first season ended with a 1-2 record. He got off to a great start by beating Loik Radzhabov via a split decision and losing the next bout to Natan Schulte by another split decision. Facing Radzhabov for a second time in the next round, this time the decision went the other way. Martinez rounded out his PFL record as 2-2 by starting the season with another win, this time over Stevie Ray. 

Natan Schulte (21-5-1)

A true veteran of the PFL tournament, Schulte is a two-time winner at 155 pounds. Winning back-to-back tournaments in 2018 and 2019, the Brazilian is 10-2-1 with the promotion with four submission wins. Last season, Schulte went 1-1 before having several cancelled fights that kept him out of the rest of the tournament. Schulte will be looking to reclaim what was once his after Manfio became champion in his absence. 

Myles Price (11-7)

Ireland’s ‘Magic’ Myles Price has picked up some of the best wins of his career in recent fights and has a huge chance to make a statement in his PFL debut. After beating Peter Queally in his last fight in Bellator, Price will face former UFC and WEC champion Anthony ‘Showtime’ Pettis. Price has had some issues with inactivity in his career after having four cancelled fights between 2016-2018 and being unable to fight since the start of the pandemic. His last fight against Queally came in February of 2019 and he will now return after several years away from the cage with the biggest fight of his career.

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Fight To Watch | Muhammad Mokaev vs Charles Johnson

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Fights are being booked fast and furiously for July 23rd as the UFC’s anticipated return to London approaches. With fireworks expected throughout the whole event, MMAPlay365 and VMTV have scoured through the card and selected Muhammad Mokaev vs Charles Johnson as our ‘Fight To Watch’ on the night.

Muhammad Mokaev returns to the octagon following a successful debut back at UFC London in March against Cody Durden. ‘The Punisher’ made light work of his American counter-part, submitting him in the first round via guillotine choke with very little problems. His upcoming opponent, Charles Johnson, signs with the UFC after an impressive four-fight winning streak on LFA, which saw him capture and defend flyweight gold.

His ability to mix it up on the feet and in grappling scenarios make this a much more dangerous bout for Mokaev stylistically, but it’s still nothing the 21 year old won’t be able to handle in the eyes of MMAPlay365 Founder, Adam Newsome:

“At this stage of Muhammad Mokaev’s UFC career every fight is going to be a test. And just because you haven’t heard of Charles Johnson doesn’t mean he isn’t a good fighter. Johnson was the Flyweight Champion in LFA. If you aren’t familiar with LFA it’s basically the American equivalent of Cage Warriors. You are battle tested in LFA and if you become a Champion the chances are the UFC are going to sign you.

So this is a very interesting match-up but still right now I don’t think that Mokaev gets tested enough to the point he loses. This is going to be another fight I see him doing extremely well in and I don’t see Mokaev losing a fight until he hits the top 20 of the division. But even when that time comes, he is going to have improved and developed so much that he could run through that pool of fighters at that time. If a fighter is going to beat Mokaev outside the best fighters in the division then now is the time to do it whilst he’s still developing. But even though he’s still developing he’s still a problem. I’m not sure Mokaev finds another finish here so I am predicting a dominant three round decision victory for Muhammad Mokaev.”

Cauley Quilty, Editor for VMTV, had this to say on the fight: “Muhammad Mokaev is always a treat to watch in action and his UFC debut back in March was nothing short of spectacular! He came to fight and did exactly that getting the first round finish and I see him doing the same thing when he steps back out there against Charles Johnson. His extensive amateur career and impressive run of professional performances make it almost impossible to not side with Mokaev in this bout, especially with the way he defeated Durden on his debut.

However, Charles Johnson isn’t an opponent anyone should underestimate as his resume and recent performances speak for themselves! His fight vs Carlos ‘Mota’ Tizil was a barnburner and with 8 of his 11 wins coming by way of finish you know he can get the job done when needed. Both fighters are highly touted and respected so expect the winner of this to receive a bump up in competition on their next outing.”

Who do you think leaves the ‘Fight To Watch’ with their hand raised? Be sure to let us know your predictions below!

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Sumo | Summer Tournament wide open after 10 days

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The Sumo Summer Tournament has a surprise joint-leader after 10 days, but many Rikishi are in with a shout of glory with only 5 days to go.

So far, only two have managed to achieve a guaranteed winning record, with M15 ranked Ichiyamamoto and M4 Takanosho posting 8-2 records 10 days in to the basho. It remains to be seen if he can keep up his championship challenge, but Ichiyamamoto is bringing back memories of the January 2020 basho when the M17 ranked Tokushoryu took home the title in a huge surprise. Whatever happens, Ichiyamamoto should see himself catapulted up the rankings for the next tournament if he can keep up this form. It is a welcome return to form for Takanosho who has previously been a Sekiwake.

Sumo: Summer Tournament – M15 ranked Ichiyamamoto finds himself in the joint-lead after 10 days of action.

Despite his patchy form, Terunofuji has scrapped himself to a 7-3 record, which puts him 1 behind the leaders in a large chasing pack. On day 10 he managed to get by a spirited Hoshoryu who is improving all the time. The Mongolian giant will be hopeful of taking home his first championship of the year. Others in the pack on 7-3 are Kiribayama, Ura, Sadanoumi and Aoiyama. With NINE more wrestlers on 6-4, only two behind the leaders and with an outside shot, there will be an amazing 16 Rikishi who may be dreaming of lifting the Emperor’s Cup come Sunday 22nd May. The chances of there being a playoff for the win for the second tournament running are looking pretty high.

Down at the other end of the table, it has been another tournament to forget for March’s playoff runner-up, Takayasu, who has posted a losing record of 2-8 so far. After doing so well to get himself back to M1 rank, he will find himself going down the rankings ahead of the July tournament. Ozeki Shodai has continued his poor form and one more defeat will once again see him staring down the possibility of losing his rank come July. March winner Wakatakakage, alongside fellow Sanyaku ranked competitors Abi, Takakeisho and Mitakeumi, are all fighting for winning records having gone 5-5 so far.

Keep an eye out for the next update after Saturday’s day 14 when I will be recapping the standings and looking ahead to what promises to be a very exciting final-day’s action.

Remember to check out the VMTV Sumo introduction and guide here if you need a refresher of the rules and some of the words used in these articles.

You can find the full rankings and results of the tournament so far at the Japan Sumo Association’s page here.

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UFC London | Aspinall vs Blaydes Staff Predictions

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The UFC will take centre stage once again in London as they return to UK shores for a second time this year on July 23rd. Following the immense success of the previous show in March, the O2 Arena will again play host to another stacked night of fights.

Headlining the card is surging heavyweight contender Tom Aspinall who will be looking to cement his name amongst the top ranked in the division with a win over #4 ranked Curtis Blaydes. It’s do or die for Darren Till when he faces Jack Hermansson in the co-main event as he aims to get his first win since 2019.

Leading up to the event, VMTV have teamed up with MMAPlay365 and our writing staff will be giving their predictions for each fight on the card as there announced. You can view details on the partnership between VMTV and MMAPlay365 here.

Tom Aspinall vs Curtis Blaydes

  • Cauley – Curtis Blaydes via KO/TKO, R4
  • Matt – Tom Aspinall via decision
  • Jamie -Tom Aspinall via KO/TKO, R3
  • Jake – Tom Aspinall via KO/TKO, R3
  • Darragh – Curtis Blaydes via KO/TKO, R3
  • Harry – Tom Aspinall via KO/TKO, R3
  • Colin – Tom Aspinall via KO/TKO, R2

Darren Till vs Jack Hermansson

  • Cauley – Jack Hermansson via decision
  • Matt – Darren Till via KO/TKO, R2
  • Jamie – Darren Till via decision
  • Jake – Darren Till via decision
  • Darragh – Jack Hermansson via submission, R3
  • Harry – Jack Hermansson via decision
  • Colin – Darren Till via decision

Nikita Krylov vs Alexander Gustafsson

  • Cauley – Nikita Krylov via decision
  • Matt – Nikita Krylov via KO/TKO, R1
  • Jamie – Alexander Gustafsson via decision
  • Jake – Nikita Krylov via submission, R1
  • Darragh – Nikita Krylov via decision
  • Harry – Alexander Gustafsson via decision
  • Colin – Nikita Krylov via decision

Paul Craig vs Volkan Oezdemir

  • Cauley – Paul Craig via submission, R1
  • Matt – Paul Craig via submission, R2
  • Jamie – Paul Craig via submission, R2
  • Jake – Paul Craig via submission, R2
  • Darragh – Paul Craig via submission, R1
  • Harry – Paul Craig via submission, R2
  • Colin – Paul Craig via submission, R2

Muhammed Mokaev vs Charles Johnson

  • Cauley – Muhammed Mokaev via KO/TKO, R2
  • Matt – Muhammed Mokaev via submission, R1
  • Jamie – Muhammed Mokaev via submission, R2
  • Jake – Muhammed Mokaev via decision
  • Darragh – Muhammed Mokaev via KO/TKO, R1
  • Harry – Muhammed Mokaev via decision
  • Colin – Muhammed Mokaev via submission, R1

Molly McCann vs Hannah Goldy

  • Cauley – Molly McCann via KO/TKO, R3
  • Matt – Molly McCann via decision
  • Jamie – Molly McCann via KO/TKO, R2
  • Jake – Molly McCann via decision
  • Darragh – Molly McCann via decision
  • Harry – Molly McCann via decision
  • Colin – Molly McCann via decision

Mandy Bohm vs Victoria Leonardo

  • Cauley – Victoria Leonardo via KO/TKO, R2
  • Matt – Mandy Bohm via decision
  • Jamie – Mandy Bohm via decision
  • Jake – Mandy Bohm via decision
  • Darragh – Mandy Bohm via decision
  • Harry – Mandy Bohm via decision
  • Colin – Mandy Bohm via decision
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