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UFC 224: Nunes vs Pennington


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Saturday 12th May, the UFC is back on PPV and back in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil with this...


Amanda Nunes vs Raquel Pennington - Bantamweight Title

Jacare Souza vs Kelvin Gastelum 

Mackenzie Dern vs Amanda Cooper

John Lineker vs Brian Kelleher 

Vitor Belfort vs Lyoto Machida


Cezar Ferreira vs Karl Roberson

Alexey Oleynik vs Junior Albini

Nick Hein vs Davi Ramos

Elizeu Zaleski Dos Santos vs Sean Strickland


Warlley Alves vs Sultan Aliev 

Thales Leites vs Jack Hermansson 

Alberto Mina vs Ramazan Emeev

Markus Perez vs James Bochnovic 


Alright, it's not the most loaded PPV we've ever seen. Looks more like a strong FOX card. But I'll take it. There's enough fights and fighters I like on there to hold my interest. We were meant to be getting Dos Anjos vs Covington for the interim strap on this but they've decided to bung that one on UFC 225 in Chicago now instead. Probably a good idea not to bring Covington to Brazil. I've got a hunch it would've made McGregor vs The Bus look like Sunday mass in comparison. 



Nunes vs Pennington headlines. When the talk first started of Pennington being next in line for a shot at Nunes' title i kind of scratched my head. But when you think about it, who deserves it more than Pennington at 135? No names are jumping out at me. Once it became clear that Cyborg vs Nunes wasn't going to happen just yet, it had to be this fight. Nunes has already kind of cleared out the division. If she hasn't beat them as champion, then chances are she already beat them on the road to becoming champion. This is a woman who destroyed and retired Ronda Rousey and also has wins over Miesha Tate, Valentina Shevchenko twice, Sara McMann and Germaine De Randamie. And aside from the two close Shevchenko fights, she's been dominant. Her last loss was to Cat Zingano back in 2014, and even then she was crushing Zingano early as well. She's a terrifying woman. 

Pennington has a cool underdog story though. The 'Rocky' nickname is quite appropriate. She made her MMA debut in 2012, battering Kim Couture (Randy's ex) to a TKO but then had mixed results following that win. In 2013 she went on The Ultimate Fighter with a shitty 3-3 MMA record. She was thought to be just there to make up the numbers but she surprised everyone by upsetting veteran Tonya Evinger and making it to the semi finals. She also got Fight Of The Season with Jessamyn Duke and won Dana White over with her aggression, toughness and heart. In just her second fight in the UFC she stepped in on short notice and lost a split decision in a really exciting slugfest against Jessica Andrade. She choked the living fuck out of Ashlee Evans-Smith at UFC 181 with a bulldog choke that put Smith out cold to the point she completely faceplanted. She took Holly Holm to a split decision in Holm's UFC debut in a fight that many had Pennington winning. At UFC 191 she rematched Jessica Andrade and avenged the loss, submitting Andrade with a rear naked choke. And at UFC 205 at MSG, she beat Miesha Tate, sending Tate into retirement. 

So while at first glance you might look and think Pennington, at 9-5 in her career, getting a title shot is undeserved. To her credit, she's grafted her arse off and managed to turn her career around from being on the verge of having a losing record to putting together a solid 4 fight streak, avenging the Andrade loss, retiring Tate and earning herself a title shot. 

As for the fight itself, as you can probably tell I like Pennington a lot. She's my kind of fighter, no quit in her and she's game as fuck. But I struggle to see how she beats Nunes here. Nunes is on a different level for me. I always felt like the woman best equipped to beat her at 135 was Shevchenko and she's 0-2 against Nunes now. I can't see Nunes losing anytime soon unless that Cyborg fight is imminent. 



Jacare vs Gastelum is ***WAND'S ONE TO WATCH*** on this bad boy. This is a beast of a fight. I love this matchup and the timing of it. Jacare bounced back from his shocking loss to Robert Whittaker by walking through Derek Brunson in a round in January. It was exactly the way you'd want to rebound from such a loss and Jacare looked every bit the killer he always did. And Gastelum was last seen almost taking Michael Bisping's head clean off with a massive left hook in Shanghai in November. I like Gastelum at 185. It's weird, he looks undersized and a bit soft at the weight but he's an animal at middleweight. I have no idea what is going to happen when these two collide. Obviously, as with any Jacare fight, if it hits the ground he's got the advantage. Goes without saying. He's one of, if not THE best pure grappler in the sport. In the standup who the fuck knows? I can't wait to see these two lock horns. 


Dern vs Cooper is the next step in the Mackenzie Dern UFC experiment. You can see why they hired her. She's a BJJ black-belt, ADCC world champion, medals upon medals in the grappling world, she's still only 25 years old, she's pretty, she's marketable etc etc. And she's currently 6-0 in her young MMA career. But watching her, it just feels like she's not ready. People can say 'if they match her up carefully' and this and that but they did that with the Yoder fight in her UFC debut. Yoder was 5-3 and primarily a grappler. On paper she was perfect fodder for Dern to shine against. But Dern scraped by in a messy split decision. She's also missed weight twice already (pre-UFC) at strawweight, which isn't good. I don't know, maybe we can put the lacklustre performance against Yoder down to the old Octagon jitters. We'll see how she does here. Cooper is 3-3 so an even worse record than Yoder's. But I actually think this is a tougher fight because Cooper has some striking and she's been in with the likes of Cynthia Calvillo and Tatiana Suarez. Cooper also beat Angela 'Vinegar Tits' Magana in her last fight so I like her for that alone. If Dern is going to go on to be something though, she really needs to be beating someone like Amanda Cooper impressively.

Oh and knock that annoying fake Brazilian accent off! :angry: 



OK, Lineker vs Kelleher is my other ***WAND'S ONE TO WATCH***. This is going to be wild. Most Lineker fights are. But from the little I've seen of Kelleher, these two are going to make for a right slobberknocker. You know what you're getting from Lineker. He'll show up, probably miss weight, then he'll get angry for having to pay the fine for not making weight and swing haymakers in the vicinity of his opponent's face and body until they fall down or he gasses horribly trying. He doesn't know any other way and I love him for it (well, except the missing weight bit). Kelleher is a hard little fucker himself though. He's had a bunch of losses, he's 19-8 overall. But he brings it and he's shown a couple of times that on a good night he's capable of beating skilled fighters, in any area of the fight. This is a man who submitted BJJ black-belt Iuri Alcantara in less than 2 minutes last year. In Brazil, no less! And in his most recent fight he beat Renan Barao. I get that a victory over Barao doesn't carry the same weight it used to but it's still a big scalp and he really went to town on Barao in the striking and had him badly hurt and hanging on for dear life at the final buzzer. I'll be watching this one through my fingers. 



Belfort vs Machida, for a period of time, would've been a main event anywhere. In 2018 it's the PPV opener but I don't mind this fight. These two have definitely seen better days but they're not completely shot or anything. I'd say Belfort is further gone than Machida but he's still dangerous early on and he held up over 3 rounds and outpointed Nate Marquardt last June. Yeah, Marquardt is on his last legs as well but still, Vitor went the distance and I seem to recall him looking decent. Make no mistake though, he's on the final chapter of his career and has been a shell of the man he was when TRT was all the rage in MMA. Back then he was just a ball of muscles and veins with a shit mohawk on top, kicking heads off. That man is a distant memory now. Machida is fast approaching 40 and is also nearing the end of his career. In his last fight he broke a 3 fight losing streak and won a split decision over Eryk Anders. That was only February and I already barely remember the fight, which either means it wasn't much good or I'm losing it. I think I had Anders winning actually.

Yeah, these guys are going nowhere. I kind of like the matchup but it's also a bit sad in a way to see two guys who were once awesome and now they're just fighting for the sake of it. I hope it's a quick knockout either way because with these two there's a strong chance it turns into a staring contest. The most interesting thing about this one for me is, who will the Brazilian crowd side with? It's not often you get two big name Brazilian fighters square off in Brazil. Who will be the babyface in this one, do we reckon? I'm thinking Vitor. He's got more of a history and he's probably the sentimental favourite. He's been Brazil's boy since he was 19, they've been through his ups and downs with him career-wise and with that horrible business with his sister's kidnap and murder. I just think there's probably more of an attachment there to Vitor but that's just an outsider's view and I could be wrong. 



Ferreira vs Roberson could be worth keeping tabs on. Cezar Ferreira is basically the lovechild of Mark Kerr and Vitor Belfort, isn't he? Just look at him. Decent fighter currently at 12-6, but he's never quite reached the potential I think most expected of him coming off the first TUF Brazil a few years ago. Roberson is the unknown element here. He's 6-0 with 5 finishes. Hasn't beat anyone of note yet really but he did go to a 5 round decision with Jerome Le Banner in kickboxing in 2015, so there's that. 



Oleynik vs Albini is the heavyweight offering for this one. I kind of like Oleynik. He's been around the block. 40 years old, 64 fights, 52 wins, 47 finishes. Holds wins over Mirko Cro Cop and Jeff Monson. But the ones that really won me over were his knockout over boring arse Jared Rosholt and his submission over alleged woman beater Travis Browne. He's coming off a loss to Curtis Blaydes now so hopefully he gets back on track here. He's facing Junior 'Pampers' Albini. Last seen losing to Andrei Arlovski whilst wearing a giant nappy. He's 14-3 and a weathered 27 years old. I'm not keen on him. Looks the type who itches his arse then sniffs his hand. Come on, Oleynik. 



Leites vs Hermansson should be decent. Always had a soft spot for Leites ever since I saw him fight live against Marquardt in London where he fought like a lion and survived to the final buzzer, despite Marquardt hitting him with a fucking piledriver of all things. He's 36 years old and 27-8 now. And despite a run of 8 wins in a row a few years back, he's fallen off lately and has been on a win one/lose one string of patchy results in his last bunch of fights. Hermansson is Swedish, 16-4 record, a guy I think Leites beats but he's no pushover. 



Mina vs Emeev is low-key one of the more interesting matchups on the card. Mina is Brazilian, unbeaten at 13-0 with 12 finishes. He's a BJJ black-belt and holds wins over Sexyama (!) and Mike Pyle in the UFC. His opponent Emeev is Russian and 16-3. With wins over Sam Alvey, ex UFC fighters Maiquel Falcao, Luigi Fioravanti and Mario Miranda and ex Bellator fighter and M-1 champ Vyacheslav Vasilevsky. These two aren't the most recognisable names but they're both pretty badass when you dig deeper. 


Bits and pieces from the undercard;

‚ÄĘ You have Elizeu Zaleski Dos Santos who I can't picture but his¬†mouthful of a¬†name rings a bell. Quick look at his record and he's on a 4 fight streak coming off wins over Max Griffin and Lyman Good.

‚ÄĘ And Warlley Alves is on there. He was the TUF Brazil 3 winner. Has wins¬†over Alan Jouban and Nordine Taleb. And it¬†isn't talked about these days but he also submitted Colby Covington in just over a minute back on the Aldo vs McGregor undercard. Ha, fuck you Colby.¬†


That's your lot. 


Edited by wandshogun09
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For some unexplainable reason I simply cannot take to Gastelum at all, and with that said I hope Jacare submits him quick style. I don't see that happening though.

Jacare seems to me like one of those guys who's destined to sit just outside the top 3 or 4 fighters in his division and never make that final leap. His record is decent, but he seems to crumble when he faces the elite of the division, having already lost to Romero and Whittaker. I guess time will tell, but if he can't beat Gastelum he's not cracking that top 3 in my opinion.

I'm not really all that pumped about seeing Nunes take on Pennington. I was looking forward to the UFC announcing Cyborg vs Nunes, so this is a bit of a let-down. Still, reckon Nunes will win a decision.

Lineker vs Kelleher should be interesting, and I wouldn't be all that surprised to see Kelleher take the win via decision in this one. Lineker does well against fighters who either trade with him, or who he can march down and eventually catch, but Kelleher has looked savvy since arriving on the scene, with an impressive win over Barao.

If he uses similar tactics to negate Lineker I could see him walk away with another big scalp.

I'm also hoping that Vitor is beaten on his way out of the sport. I know both guys have popped for PED's, but Vitor seemed to be the guy who's PED usage helped his career the most. The change in him since he got banned from using TRT is insane. 

I have this horrible feeling that the fight is going to be the drizzling shits. I can see a lot of movement, plenty of faking and feigning, but little actual fighting. I reckon it's got decision written all over it, for who I don't know. And who cares really?

A decent little card, but never a PPV in my opinion. This is a FightNight card at best.

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I have little, and close to no, interest in Nune's Vs Pennington. It's a real non-event to me. I really like the Gastelum/Jacare fight though and I actually totally forgot it was booked so that was a nice surprise. Lineker Vs Kelleher should be a great scrap, and like Wand pointed out, likely fight of the night. 

Early predictions:

Nunes, Gastelum, Cooper, Lineker and Belfort (if he lands in the first two minutes. If he doesn't, then Machida by decision following a mind numbingly dull fight. These two, at this stage of their career, don't match up well if excitement is the goal). 

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I agree with you chaps. It's a nice card and that, but the main event is a little underwhelming. I like both fighters, but neither are in anyway stars or feel like a big deal - compare this to the first two Rose v JJ fights, for example. Hopefully we get a bit of a spark in the build.

Jacare v Gastelum is fantastic, though. Again, a bit UFC on FOX, but a solid co-main event, I guess.

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8 hours ago, David said:

I'm also hoping that Vitor is beaten on his way out of the sport. I know both guys have popped for PED's, but Vitor seemed to be the guy who's PED usage helped his career the most. The change in him since he got banned from using TRT is insane. 

Aye, that's more or less my take. 

To answer Wand's question in the OP. I am fairly certain that Belfort is the bigger name in Brazil. For reasons mentioned, he was a bit of a darling in Brazil for years. He also appeared on the Brazilian version of Big Brother. Anderson is the only fighter who might be a bit more popular than Vitor in Brazil.

However, it's possible that committed Brazilian MMA fans prefer Machida. McGregor is more well-known that Bisping in the UK, but it's very possible that Bisping would have the crowd in his corner if the two fought in some bizarre catch-weight fight at the O2 arena. 

Also, I felt Machida was very lucky to get the nod from the judges against Anders. I scored the fight to Anders. 

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Just in terms of celebrity.  I can't remember who said it, but someone compared his fame in the UK to that of Belfort's in Brazil. Reid was a tabloid favourite over here in the early 2010's. He won Big Brother and was married to Katie Price for a few years. I'm not going to lie, I did have to check Reid's Wikipedia to remind me of why he was famous for a while outside of the MMA bubble. I only remember the very early seasons of Big Brother. 

Of course, in terms of MMA relevance, there is a massive gulf between them. Looking at Reid's record, I can't remember the details of any fight he was in. I don't like Belfort, but I can remember the details of at least 10 of his bouts, probably more. 





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Yeah. It's a week away and you could hear crickets piss on candyfloss. 

I actually really like this card as well. There's a bit of everything on there. The main event being a mismatch is what hurts it but even that is probably going to be fireworks however long it goes. It's not like it's Jake Shields vs Colby Covington or something. Nunes is a beast, love watching her fight. And Pennington, while a massive underdog, I think is slightly underrated because of her record and if nothing else she's game. Unfortunately most peoples' interest in a card seems to hinge on the main event (sometimes co-main) these days and this one just doesn't really have any talking points. But the fight itself should be fun. It's either Nunes just bulldozing her (most likely) or Pennington lasts and we get a wild brawl. 

Anyone bashing the quality of the card as a whole though is either being overly harsh or just doesn't know much about the fighters on there. If you can't find anything to like about Jacare vs Gastelum and Lineker vs Kelleher then I don't know why you're watching MMA. Add in the darkhorse Mina vs Emeev fight on Fight Pass, Mackenzie Dern's next fight and although a few years late Belfort vs Machida opening up the PPV, there's a nice mix of stuff on there.

Probably does 6 buys on PPV but that makes no odds to us or how good the card is going to be. 

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On 11/04/2018 at 4:19 AM, jimufctna24 said:

Looking at Reid's record, I can't remember the details of any fight he was in. 





im going off old memories and havent seen the fight more than once, but i remember Reid/Kong Watson being a bit of a 5 round war back in the day. It was about as big a UK MMA fight could be at the time, and it delivered. Reid was a bit of a laughing stock but he was no doubt tough as fuck.

Alex Reid/Jason "Bad Arse" Barrett is best forgotten though. An absolute shit fest, UK only PPV (which i paid for...i think).

Edited by Egg Shen
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