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UFC on FOX: Emmett vs Stephens - Feb 24


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Another Big FOX show on Saturday 24th February. The Octagon descends on Orlando, Florida. 


Josh Emmett vs Jeremy Stephens 

Jessica Andrade vs Tecia Torres 

Ovince Saint Preux vs Ilir Latifi 

Mike Perry vs Max Griffin


Renan Barao vs Brian Kelleher 

Sara McMann vs Marion Reneau

Maryna Moroz vs Angela Hill

Alan Jouban vs Ben Saunders


Sam Alvey vs Marcin Prachnio

Rani Yahya vs Russell Doane

Eric Shelton vs Alex Perez 

Albert Morales vs Manny Bermudez 


Again, like the last Big FOX show, not a blockbuster but it's full of fights and fighters that are worth tuning in for. 



Emmett vs Stephens is going to be pure chaotic violence. Quick turnaround here for Stephens. He's just beat Doo Ho Choi a couple of weeks ago now he's right back in there with another dangerous fight. Can't stand the bloke but fair play, he's not fucking about. And I must admit he's great to watch. Still hope Emmett clobbers the prick though. Emmett's a guy who kind of came from nowhere. He's had a few UFC fights but never really got on anyone's radar until his last fight in December. He came in on fairly short notice against Ricardo Lamas and smoked him with a left hook from hell in the first round. He's 14-1 and he clearly packs a punch but it's not like he was KOing guys left and right before this. Out of 13 previous wins only 4 of them were by KO/TKO. So it was a bit of a shock to see him just wipe out a fighter who's been in with some of the best fighters in the division. But he nearly took Lamas' head clean off. Should be exciting as fuck until one of them goes to sleep. 



Jessica Andrade vs Tecia Torres is the co-headliner. Both are coming off big wins and could be in line for a title shot in the near future depending on the result of this fight and how the rest of the division shakes out. Andrade already had a crack at Joanna Jedrzejczyk last year, fought valiantly but came up short. But she beat Claudia Gadelha on the Japan card in September in a great fight where she looked like a monster. Torres beat Michelle Waterson last time out. She's 10-1 and also holds victories over Paige VanZant, Felice Herrig and Juliana Lima. Not to mention she's 1-1 with the current champ Rose Namajunas. If she's able to beat a tank like Andrade, and Rose goes 2-0 over Jedrzejczyk in April, I think Namajunas vs Torres 3 is going to be next. Lots of 'ifs' though. And Andrade is a little bulldozer. 



OSP vs Latifi was meant to go down on last week's Jacare vs Brunson FOX card but Latifi picked up an injury in camp pushing the fight back to this show. Should be a good one. Like I said when I previewed it last time, OSP has been fun to watch recently. He KO'd Corey Anderson with a vicious headkick at UFC 217 and before that he pulled off 2 Von Flue choke finishes in a row against Yushin Okami and Marcos Rogerio De Lima. Latifi is 4-1 in his last 5 with the only loss to Ryan Bader. He decisioned Tyson Pedro in his last fight in September and looked good doing it. I like this fight so I'm glad it got rescheduled. I'm a Latifi fan so I hope he wins but I'm warming to OSP a bit more lately so another Von Flue wouldn't upset me. 



Mike Perry vs Max Griffin should kick off the main card with a bang. This is Perry's first fight since losing to Santiago Ponzinibbio in December. His second career defeat putting him at 11-2 overall now. But if the way he bounced back from his first loss is anything to go on, expect the same old bomb throwing Mike Perry here. After he suffered his first loss to Alan Jouban I remember people thinking it might humble him or make him more cautious. Wrong. In his very next fight he knocked Jake Ellenberger out cold and stiff with an elbow, then did a spinaroonie next to the corpse. He then KO'd Alex Reyes with a knee in his next fight. Max Griffin is 13-4 and seems the type to throw down with Perry. Which, is probably a bad idea for him, but it should make for an explosive FOX opener. 



Barao vs Kelleher could be good. I don't know a great deal about Kelleher, to be honest. Think I've only seen one of his fights. He submitted Iuri Alcantara which is impressive enough. He's 18-8 and 31 years old. That's the extent of my knowledge on him. It saddens me to see how far Barao has dropped. Whether it's USADA making him more human, him losing confidence or the two Dillashaw beatings leaving him a shell of what he was, who knows? But it's nuts to think this is the same guy who was considered Top 3-5 P4P just a few years ago. He was on a 30+ fight unbeaten reign of terror and was destroying the likes of Faber, Pickett, Wineland etc. Fast forward and now he's lost 4 of his last 6 fights. I wouldn't have thought twice about predicting him to just steamroll a guy like Kelleher a couple of years back but now, I don't know. I just don't know with him anymore. 



McMann vs Reneau is a mum fight. A battle of two of the most unassuming and polite women in the game. Sara McMann seems like a lovely woman. Crazy story as well. Her brother was murdered when she was younger and her fiancé died in a car crash where she was driving. It takes someone with a ridiculous amount of strength to come back from that to where she is now. She also won the Olympic silver medal at the 2004 Games as well as a bunch of wrestling and grappling accolades. She's 11-4 in MMA and 37 years old. The window is closing on her career but she was on a nice little streak in 2016/17. She got submitted in her last fight by Ketlen Vieira though so this is her chance to rebound. Reneau is similar in that she's also getting up in age. She's 40 now with an 8-3 record. She started late though, she only made her debut in 2010 when she'd have been 32 and she doesn't have the gruelling wrestling miles on her like McMann does. Sounds harsh but it kind of feels like the loser of this is pretty much finished. They're both decent but a loss now, with their average records and around 40 years old, it'll probably be time to rethink things. 



Moroz vs Hill should be fun. It's most likely to be a standup battle as that's both girls' strength. Moroz is Ukrainian and has a strong Boxing and Kickboxing background. She's 10-2 in MMA with her biggest win to date being her UFC debut where she upset Joanne Calderwood with a quick armbar. Angela Hill has a Muay Thai style, she's got an undefeated 16-0 Kickboxing record. She only has a 7-4 MMA record but she's improving all the time and she had one of the best under the radar fights of 2017 dragging Jessica Andrade into deep waters in an absolute war. Looking forward to this one. Think they match up for some fireworks if it stays on the feet. 



Jouban vs Saunders is a fight I love the sound of. One of those fights where neither guy is on a run at a title or placing anywhere in the rankings but you just know it's going to be a fun matchup. Jouban's an entertaining fighter to watch. He's coming off 2 losses on the trot to Niko Price and Gunnar Nelson but before that he took Mike Perry's 'O' and had some FOTN wins over Belal Muhammad and Matt Dwyer. Matching him against Saunders is perfect because Saunders is the same kind of fighter. As far back as his stint on TUF 6 he had that fight of the season against that weirdo Dan Barrera. He's got wicked Muay Thai, especially his brutal Thai clinch of doom, and if he's taken down he never stops attacking from the guard. I've always got time for a Killa B fight and this one should be fantastic. 



Rakic vs Antigulov is ***WAND'S ONE TO WATCH*** for this bad boy. All the way down on Fight Pass. See, this is the shit that I don't get. People are always saying 205 is a shallow and weak division. So you take a genuine young prospect in Rakic, in a division where they're few and far between, and you keep burying him deep in the undercards and on the Fight Pass stream that only the hardest of hardcores is watching anyway. How they expect anyone to give a bollocks about the new breed of 205ers when they're hardly ever showcased to a wider audience is beyond me. Anyway. Yeah, this is a fight that should be worth tracking down. Like I say, Rakic looks promising. He's Austrian, 25 years old, 6'5", 9-1 with 8 finishes. Antigulov is a tough  test for him. He's Russian and fighting out of ATT, 31 years old, 20-4 record. He's won 14 in a row and finished his last 6 victims within 2 rounds or less. This is a great fight on paper between two killers. Shame hardly anyone's going to see it. 


Elsewhere on the prelims, I hope Gilbert Burns batters Olivier Aubin-Mercier. Burns is a BJJ world champ but he won his last fight by brutal one punch KO. He hasn't really met the expectations some had of him so far in the UFC but I like him. That and Aubin-Mercier is a fucking dullard. I look at his record and he's got a bunch of subs but every time I see him he's just boring and lifeless. What else? Sam Alvey's usually worth a look. And Rani Yahya has awesome grappling to watch.

Quality card, I reckon. 

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The UFC must give Romero the title fight if they're going to make Emmett top 5, and main eventing a Big Fox card, directly after comfortably missing weight. 


I must say I don't care for the whiny tones bastard, so I hope who da fook is that guy knocks him the fook out.  Should be a violent main as you say, wand.   Quite looking forward to OSP and Ilir Latifi.  Both guys with good potential, though you always feel its one step forward, two steps back for OSP.  Latifi is a scary mofo. 

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The Emmett situation is a weird one because it feels like hes been massively rewarded for missing weight...but at the same time he came in on short notice and KO'd a staple top 5 featherweight. Still he showed me enough against Lamas to warrant me being excited about the Stephens fight.

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On 03/02/2018 at 3:38 PM, wandshogun09 said:

It saddens me to see how far Barao has dropped. Whether it's USADA making him more human, him losing confidence or the two Dillashaw beatings leaving him a shell of what he was, who knows? But it's nuts to think this is the same guy who was considered Top 3-5 P4P just a few years ago. He was on a 30+ fight unbeaten reign of terror and was destroying the likes of Faber, Pickett, Wineland etc. Fast forward and now he's lost 4 of his last 6 fights. I wouldn't have thought twice about predicting him to just steamroll a guy like Kelleher a couple of years back but now, I don't know. I just don't know with him anymore. 

Aye, I don't think many predicted Barao's demise. At one stage the UFC were so confident in Barao's ability that they hyped him as the world's best fighter. He was that highly rated, that when he rematched Faber there was a feeling that the outcome was inevitable. The same applied for when he fought Macdonald in London. 

I do think that lighter-weight fighters have a relatively short shelf-life. Those divisions tend to evolve pretty quickly. Barao isn't an isolated incident either. I always remember Frank Mir saying that Miguel Torres was as close to a perfect fighter as you could get. He was 37-1 and a P4P kingpin until he literally ran into Brian Bowles in 2009. He never had the same aura after that fight. Either he regressed or the division evolved - or perhaps a combination of both. People don't remember Torres so much because his rise and fall took place in the WEC. Unlike Barao, Cruz, Aldo, Dillahsaw and others who have reigned in the lighter-weight divisions, all of the key moments in Torres's career took place outside of the UFC. However, for a time, Torres - like Barao - was somewhat of a reference point in MMA. 

In addition, Barao is a bit like Aldo, in that they have both amounted a lot of miles on the clock at a relatively young age. I am not sure how Barao trains, but the beatings he received from Dillashaw surely took years off his career. Therefore, it seems unlikely that his career will rebound. 

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Yeah, good points. The miles on the clock is probably a big part of it. He'd already had a lot of fights by the time he got to the UFC. And like you say, the lighter weight fighters don't seem to have as long a shelf life as some of the higher weight class fighters. I guess because they rely so much on speed and quick reflexes which are probably some of the first things to go as a fighter progresses through their career. 

I also really think those two losses to Dillashaw might've just fucked him physically and mentally. People forget but they were really bad beatings. Not a million miles away from the batterings JDS took off Cain in their last two fights. Barao took a load of punishment in those fights and the stoppage the second time was particularly brutal. Looking at his record since the two TJ losses, not only has Barao not been the same since, I don't think he's even looked good at all really since. Those TJ beatings were fairly close together as well. The first was in May 2014, the rematch was in July 2015. He scored a win over Mitch Gagnon in between the TJ fights (which I remember thinking he made hard work of) then since the second loss to TJ he's only fought 3 times and gone 1-2. Since coming up against Dillashaw, the only guys Barao has been able to beat have been Gagnon and Philippe Nover. And even then I don't remember him looking particularly impressive in either fight. It's shocking really. He's still got the skills in there, obviously. But it's like those beatings from Dillashaw have smashed his confidence and swagger completely to bits. And who knows the toll they took physically. Some fights when they're savage like that just seem to finish a fighter for good and they're never able to get back to that level afterwards. The Rashad fight seemed to finish Chuck for good. The first Hunt fight seemed to finish Bigfoot. Same with JDS after Cain and Barao after Dillashaw. 

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Yeah, good points, jim. It's mad to think Barao is only 31, seeing as he should be in his prime, but realistically that was 4/5 years ago.

Maybe the weight is an issue too. After TJ mauled him twice he gave FW a go, but I think he realised how many gorillas there are there by comparison(?). If he's struggling with BW and finds himself undersized for FW he's in a bit of a rubbish position.

Of course, there comes a time when the division always overtakes. I think there is some of that too. TJ being the best example.

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I think something that Barao suffers from is that divisions are spaced quite widely in terms of weight increments. Given the problems he had with weight cutting (not that being a Nova Uniao guy would've helped much either), and that he seemed out-sized at FW, it seems he might have done better in a Light/Junior Featherweight or Super-Bantamweight division.

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Yeah Torres was unfortunate that the WEC guys got merged into the UFC just after he started declining. At least Faber had a bit of a run in the UFC. 

Torres did have a strong performance against Mighty Mouse in the UFC though, which is a fight that's been largely forgotten. Loads of people had him winning that fight at the time, think I did as well actually. Of course, DJ is a different animal today compared to back then. Today he's the flyweight king, back then he was just another bantamweight contender. But it was probably the high point as far as Torres' UFC run goes. And even then it went down as a loss. Says it all really. 

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Its a bit sad that Torres is forgotten though. I think its safe to say that the lighter weight divisions developed very quickly once they started in the UFC, that coupled with Torres perhaps having already peaked after a long career (in terms of fights, not so much age)...its probably also not unfair to say that his 'greatness' had a touch of savvy marketing by the WEC about it. When you look at the two WEC divisions that became UFC divisions though the leading lights were always Jose Aldo, Urijah Faber and Miguel Torres. One is a Hall of Famer, one is nailed on Hall of Famer the other is never spoken of.

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Amazingly, Aldo and Torres never reigned at the same time. Just as Aldo was about to reach the pinnacle, Torres started to decline. In many ways, it could be argued that Aldo replaced Torres as the WEC's consensus best fighter. Aldo beat Mike Brown to win the Featherweight belt in November of 2009. Aldo was on the rise before winning the belt, but his reputation as a fighter didn't peak until he won the belt of Brown, and followed it up by slicing Faber to bits on the WEC's only PPV in April of 2010.

Torres had lost his belt some 3 months before Aldo beat Brown, and lost to Benavidez the month before Aldo beat Faber. Thinking about it a bit more, it was the Benavidez defeat that was the death nail of Torres's aura. The Bowles fight was a crazy brawl, and Torres had Bowles in a bit of trouble before getting caught rushing in. It was tempting to write that fight off as an anomaly. A bit similar to how some quite unfairly reacted when Weidman beat Anderson the first time. However, when Benavidez wrestlefucked and subbed Torres in his next outing, it was clear that Torres's time at the top of the sport was on very shaky ground. 

Torres's reputation peaked around 2008 and early 2009. In addition to the reasons already mentioned, another reason for his reputation was that his record was very easy on the eyes. At the time, it was rare in MMA for a fighter to have amounted 30 plus fights on their record, and have only 1 defeat to their name. It was the sort of record you only really saw in boxing. 

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