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Matchmaker Monday | what’s next after UFC 276?

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The premier event of International Fight Week, UFC 276, has come and gone. The card saw contenders emerge and champions showcase their dominance. Now, Matchmaker Monday is here and it’s time to see what’s next for the winners and losers.

DISCLAIMER: this is purely opinion based, feel free to disagree!

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(c) Israel Adesanya (23-1) – UFC middleweight champion

It was another shutout performance from defending middleweight champion Israel Adesanya. Though it may not have been the exhilarating finish that was promised, ‘The Last Stylebender’ found the path to his fifth title defense on the scorecards. The next challenger for the champ is known by the masses, and that is Adesanya’s old foe Alex Pereira. Not only does it present an dangerous stylistic matchup for Adesanya, the history between the pair will create fireworks in the build up. We could be in for an amazing fight with this one.

(#2) Jared Cannonier (15-6) – UFC middleweight contender

The first UFC title shot of contender Jared Cannonier has come and gone. An lackluster performance from the Texas native has surely left a bitter taste in his mouth. At 38 years old, a second shot at the belt is unlikely, so Cannonier will need to make a statement to reestablish himself. The division is somewhat tied up in fights, but a main event against the winner of Jack Hermansson vs Darren Till would be a fun fight & another name for his resume.

(c) Alexander Volkanovski (25-1) – UFC featherweight champion

Is there a hotter fighter than Alexander Volkanovski after UFC 276? The champ put a decisive end to his rivalry with Max Holloway with a brutal display of speed and aggression in their co-main event title fight. Though he’s open to defending his title more against the contenders of 145lbs, Volkanovski is eager to get back to action against the best competition. He called for a vacant title fight at lightweight with former champ Charles Oliveira, and I’m all for it. Two pound-for-pound elites fighting for a world title? Sign me up!

(#1) Max Holloway (23-7) – former UFC featherweight champion

It may not be his first, but this is definitely the toughest loss in the storied career of Max Holloway. His third loss to the reigning champ has essentially locked the former titleholder out of the title picture for the forseeable future. A lot of Holloway’s future will depend on what Volkanovski chooses to do next, but if the pride of Hawaii is staying at featherweight, I think that Josh Emmett makes sense. It would be a fresh face for Holloway and a chance for Emmett to explode into the top contender status. It isn’t a solid pick, but I wouldn’t be opposed to it at all.

Alex Pereira (6-1) – UFC middleweight contender

The power of Brazil’s Alex Pereira was on full display over the weekend, picking up a first round knockout over Sean Strickland. In only 9 months, the former GLORY double-champ has put himself into title contention. There is only one fight for ‘Poatan’, and it has to be against champion Israel Adesanya. Given their history in kickboxing and their competitive rivalry, this could be one of the most important title fights at 185lbs in recent years.

(#4) Sean Strickland (25-4) – UFC middleweight contender

The decision to stand and bang with Pereira was a regrettable decision for Sean Strickland, leaving him with his first ever loss at middleweight. This certainly hurts Strickland’s chances at earning a title opportunity, but all hope is certainly not lost. Someone else in need of a win at 185lbs is Kelvin Gastelum, a former title challenger with fast hands and an exciting style. I could definitely see these two contenders in need of a rebound win facing off later in 2022.

Bryan Barberena (18-8) – UFC welterweight contender

The legend-killing streak of Bryan Barberena continued on Saturday night, becoming the first man in six years to finish Robbie Lawler with strikes. ‘Bam Bam’ has quietly built a three-fight run and is now potentially knocking on the door of the top 15. It wouldn’t quite break him into the elite, but a scrap with Andre Fialho will line Barberena up for a bigger fight in the future. Not only would it be a major fight in both of their careers, it would be a reckless brawl.

Robbie Lawler (29-16, 1 NC) – former UFC welterweight champion

Dropping a TKO to Bryan Barberena has stunted the returning momentum of Robbie Lawler, but he has no hopes of slowing down. Another pay-per-view appearance later in the year for the former champ would make the most sense. A hardened veteran in his own right, I think that a rematch with Matt Brown could be an exciting affair for Lawler. Their bout from eight years ago was FOTY contender, so, why not run it back?

(#9) Pedro Munhoz (19-7, 2 NC) & (#13) Sean O’Malley (15-1, 1 NC) – UFC bantamweight contenders

An anticlimactic end to a crucial bantamweight bout left both Pedro Munhoz and Sean O’Malley disappointed. Neither man was able to deal much damage up to the point that the bout was ended due to an eye-poke, which has left fans and fighters with a bad taste in their mouths. Depending on the timeframe associated with Munhoz’ recovery, a rematch likely makes most sense to be their next bouts. Better yet, schedule the rematch for five rounds.

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How would you matchmake these fighters? Do you disagree with my picks? Let us know in the comments!

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PFL 9 Weigh-In Results

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Professional Fighters League (PFL) is live from London’s famous Copperbox Arena as the results for the Women’s Lightweight and Men’s Featherweight Semi-Final playoff Weigh-In concludes.

Reigning champion Kayla Harrison will headline the card as she looks to secure her spot in the finals with yet another dominant win in the division, this time over Martina Jindrova. In the co-main event, UK favourite Brendan Loughnane clashes with rival Chris Wade in a bad blood fuelled bout fans will not want to miss!

Elsewhere on the card touted prospects Louie Sutherland, Raphael Uchegbu & Ali Taleb will make their promotional debuts for PFL as they fight to qualify for next years European League. PFL 9 will be broadcast live for UK viewers on Channel 4 Sports YouTube channel from 6pm BST.

You can view the full fight card for PFL 9 and its Weigh-In results below.

PFL 9 Weigh-In Results

Post Main Card European Qualifiers:

Marcin Held vs Myles Price

Louie Sutherland vs Abraham Bably

Tayo Odunjo vs Magnus Iversen

Ali Taleb vs Darius Mafi

Zebenzui Ruiz vs Raphael Uchegbu

Main Card

Kayla Harrison (155lbs) vs Martina Jindrova (154lbs)

Chris Wade (145lbs) vs Brendan Loughnane (145lbs)

Larissa Pacheco (155lbs) vs Olena Kolesnyk (155lbs)

Ryoji Kudo (145lbs) vs Bubba Jenkins (146lbs)

Dakota Ditcheva (126lbs) vs Hassna Gaber (125lbs)

Simeon Powell (205lbs) vs Joao Paulo Fagundes (204lbs)

Preliminary Card

Stuart Austin vs Sofiane Boukichou

Omar Hussein vs Aleksandr Chizov

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UFC 278: Usman vs Edwards 2 – Preview

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The MMA leader will return to Salt Lake City for the first time in six years for UFC 278. At the head of the card, defending welterweight champion and pound-for-pound king Kamaru Usman faces his hardest challenge to date. He will rematch English sharpshooter Leon Edwards, who looks to become Britain’s second UFC champ whilst exacting revenge on his old foe.

Let’s take a closer look at this card!

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(c) Kamaru Usman (20-1) vs (#2) Leon Edwards (19-3, 1 NC) – UFC welterweight championship bout

England’s best hope for another UFC title will have to go through one of the greatest welterweights of all time if he hopes to return to Birmingham as champion.

Once only thought of as a pillow-handed wrestler with potential to break the top ten, Kamaru Usman has superceded expectations by becoming the UFC’s pound-for-pound number one. The thumping KO power, improving striking, never-ending cardio and granite chin, added with his world-class wrestling, have singled Usman out as the best welterweight on planet Earth. Coming into UFC 278, the champ has five title defenses already under his belt and is entering the territory of being considered the best 170lb of all time. If he can replicate the performance he put on against Edwards the first time, it would appear that ‘The Nigerian Nightmare’ will haunt the division for as long as he sees fit.

The long and winding road to a title shot is finally coming to an end for Leon Edwards. A run of seven years undefeated – his only blemish being a no contest against Belal Muhammad – has earned the Brit his chance at a championship. Edwards brings a style that could cause major problems for Usman. The dangerous kicks and sharp straight left have given problems to everybody he has faced. Not only does Leon possess an elite striking game, but his grappling and conditioning are more than able to be compared with the best in the division. It will be no easy task, but ‘Rocky’ Edwards has a good shot to bring the title home.

(#6) Paulo Costa (13-2) vs Luke Rockhold (16-5) – middleweight bout

A former middleweight champion is hoping to make a return to title contention, but he take on a Brazilian wrecking ball in the co-main event.

Though he’s only dropped losses to champion Israel Adesanya and title contender Marvin Vettori, it feels like Paulo Costa has lost the steam he once had. Poor form and a lack of professionalism in the aforementioned bouts have knocked the Brazilian down the ladder, but he seems reinvigourated ahead of UFC 278. If there’s one thing Costa brings to the table, it’s his brutish pressure. His ability to bring the heat and work the body until his opponents crumble is the main thing that make him a very dangerous opponent. A big performance against Rockhold will surely place ‘The Eraser’ back into title discussions.

There was a point in time when Luke Rockhold was anticipated to go on a historic title run to rival Anderson Silva’s, but that never played out. Since his title win in 2015, the Californian has only fought four times, picking up only one win. He has now partnered up with Jason Parillo and says that he fully intends on going on another title run. The natural athleticism, wide frame, thunderous kicks and underappreciated jiu-jitsu of the former champ are all attributes he brings into this fight. At 37 years old and his ability to take a punch under serious doubt, it seems like unlikely, but never count Rockhold out.

(#3) Jose Aldo (31-7) vs (#6) Merab Dvalishvili (14-4) – bantamweight bout

A potential crack at 135lb gold will be on the line in the feature bout, which will see a matchup between the greatest featherweight of all time and a Georgian wrestling machine.

Who could’ve envisioned the comeback that Jose Aldo has been pulling off? The former 145lb champion seemed destined for a gloomy retirement, but he has turned back the clock with sensational showings against Marlon Vera, Pedro Munhoz and Rob Font. The lightning-fast striking of Aldo is always discussed ahead of his fights, but his legendary takedown defense could pay real dividends in this outing. A second crack at the bantamweight title won’t be far off if ‘The King of Rio’ makes it four straight.

Starting out your UFC tenure with two losses is never a good start, but Merab Dvalishvili has made sure that’s not the memory fans would have of him. Instead, the community has come to know him as one of Georgia’s finest fighters and a fierce prospect to be reckoned with. The name of the game is wrestling for Dvalishvili, who has averaged 7.3 takedowns every fifteen minutes so far. If he can turn back a legend like Aldo, ‘The Machine’ will be in discussions with the elite.

Tyson Pedro (8-3) vs Harry Hunsucker (7-5) – light-heavyweight bout

A clash between two men with perfect finishing rates will look to captalise on their pay-per-view slot at UFC 278.

A long absence from Tyson Pedro was finally snapped earlier this year, finishing Ike Villanueva by TKO in one round. Despite training with knockout artists like Mark Hunt and Tai Tuivasa, Pedro’s main talent lies on the mat. He will be very quick to snatch a submission when the fight hits the mat, but is a capable striker as well. He’s eager to re-enter the rankings, having been a top fifteen contender before his layoff. ‘Kangaroo Paws’ never disappoints, so keep your eyes on him this weekend.

The UFC journey for Harry Hunsucker hasn’t unfolded as he intended, to say the least. A pair of losses to Tai Tuivasa and Justin Tafa have given the Kentucky native the incentive to move down to the light-heavyweight division. Hunsucker is not afraid to go forward in search of the finish, which he has gotten in all of his fights. The move to 205lbs could do wonders for ‘The Hurricane’ and give him his first win in the promotion.

(#11) Marcin Tybura (22-7) vs (#13) Alexandr Romanov (16-0) – heavyweight bout

A seasoned Polish veteran of the division will have to fight off an oncoming Moldovan smasher to keep his ranking in the featured prelim.

Time and time again, Marcin Tybura proves to the masses that he deserves to be taken seriously as a force at heavyweight. His only loss in his last six bouts came to divisional mainstay Alexander Volkov, who snapped a five-fight win-streak. The Pole has fast reflexes and big power, backed nicely by a wrestling game that sees him maul from top position. A win at UFC 278 would be massive for the former M-1 Global champion.

Is there a scarier oncoming threat at heavyweight than Alexandr Romanov? The Moldovan successfully flipped an amateur wrestling career into an undefeated MMA career, where he has racked up fifteen finishes in sixteen wins. Romanov will always try to bring the fight to the ground and will put his opponents there in emphatic fashion. From there, he’s happy to work for a submission or pound until the finish. ‘King Kong’ could became a major issue for the heavyweight division.

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Will Usman continue to cement his legacy? Will Edwards bring the title back to Birmingham? Let us know in the comments!

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PFL 9 | 2022 Playoffs Full Card, Fight Preview

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The PFL’s Great British stop off concludes on Saturday, when the promotion touches down in the Big Smoke for their first event in the English capital, PFL 9.

Atop of the card is one of the most dominant fighters in all of combat sports, Kayla Harrison, as she prepares to take on Martina Jindrova. The other women’s lightweight semi-final also takes place on Saturday, as Larissa Pacheco takes on Olena Kolesnyk, with eyes on the $1 million. That’s not all the fans will be the beneficiaries of seeing, as the men’s Featherweight semi-finals also take place, as Manchester’s own Brendan Loughnane takes on rival, Chris Wade, and Bubba Jenkins takes on Ryoji Kudo.

As well as the women’s lightweight and mens featherweight semi-finals, an array of newly signed Brits will be welcomed into the PFL with their debuts in the European qualifiers.

Two Manchester Top Team talents will announce themselves in the SmartCage for the first time, as well as Titan Fighter’s, Louie Sutherland joining teammates, Stuart Austin and Simeon Powell for his promotional debut.

Despite there being prelims and postlims, the main focus will be on the four play off bouts, with all eyes fully focused on the $1 million culmination. Going into her 3rd semi-final bout in three years, Kayla Harrison can make history as the only fighter in the PFL to have won the tournament three times. As always, Kayla is going into her semi-final bout unscathed and unchallenged so far.

Brendan Loughnane on the other-hand is coming into his semi-final having only competed twice in the regular season, as his scheduled bout with Boston Salmon was cancelled due to Salmon withdrawal. It’s no secret that Loughnane and Wade aren’t the best of friends, and in an interview with VMTV, Loughnane said: “The guy is a moaning little b**tard, ‘oh I’ve got to go over to Brendan’s hometown’, first of all it’s nowhere near my hometown, it’s a four hour coach journey so get that in your head for a start.

“London was booked well before our fight, it could’ve been anyone he’s acting like it he’s getting dragged over here cause it’s me and it’s london, the guy just moans about everything. Shut up and get your a*se over here and let’s fight.”

You can check out the full PFL 9 card below. PFL 9 will be shown live for UK fans on Channel 4’s Sport YouTube channel.

PFL 9 Full Card

Post Main Card European Qualifiers:

Marcin Held vs Myles Price

Louie Sutherland vs Abraham Bably

Tayo Odunjo vs Magnus Iversen

Ali Taleb vs Darius Mafi

Zebenzui Ruiz vs Raphael Uchegbu

Main Card

Kayla Harrison vs Martina Jindrova

Chris Wade vs Brendan Loughnane

Larissa Pacheco vs Olena Kolesnyk

Ryoji Kudo vs Bubba Jenkins

Dakota Ditcheva vs Hassna Gaber

Simeon Powell vs Joao Paulo Fagundes

Preliminary Card

Stuart Austin vs Sofiane Boukichou

Omar Hussein vs Aleksandr Chizov

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