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UFC Fight Island: Whittaker vs Till - Jul 25 🇦🇪 🏝

Who wins and how?   

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Saturday 25th July. Fight Island. Yas Island. Abu Dhabi. Look at this lot...

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ESPN/ESPN+ MAIN CARD
Robert Whittaker vs Darren Till 

Shogun Rua vs Antonio Rogerio Nogueira 

Fabricio Werdum vs Alexander Gustafsson 

Carla Esparza vs Marina Rodriguez

Paul Craig vs Gadzhimurad Antigulov

Alex Oliveira vs Peter Sobotta

Khamzat Chimaev vs Rhys McKee 

ESPN+/FIGHT PASS PRELIMS
Francisco Trinaldo vs Jai Herbert 

Nicolas Dalby vs Jesse Ronson

Jake Collier vs Tom Aspinall

Movsar Evloev vs Mike Grundy

Tanner Boser vs Raphael Pessoa

Bethe Correia vs Pannie Kianzad 

Ramazan Emeev vs Niklas Stolze 

Nathaniel Wood vs John Castaneda 

 

I love this. Can’t knock that card, can you? One of the best Fight Nights in years that I can remember. Shogun vs Nogueira and Werdum vs Gustafsson could’ve easily headlined Fight Nights in their own right or been used to beef up a PPV main card. At this point, yeah, I’ll let that Eye vs Calvillo bollocks slide. July is more than making up for that mess. 

 

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Robert Whittaker vs Darren Till. Great main event. I almost don’t want to get too hyped for it though given Whittaker’s track record of injuries and medical conditions taking him out of fights. We last saw him in October, losing the Middleweight strap to Israel Adesanya in Melbourne. Since then he was linked to a fight with Jared Cannonier at UFC 248 in March but ended up withdrawing for personal reasons. There was all sorts of talk at the time about his daughter needing a bone marrow transplant and stuff. Whittaker has since come out and said it was nothing like that but he was dealing with some mental health issues and needed to step away from fighting for a bit. Obviously that’s enough but I still think there was more to it. Dana even got a bit choked up talking about Whittaker and how “selfless” he was. It’s none of our business but, whatever was going on, hopefully Whittaker is doing good now. There’s no questioning his heart and toughness. The man went a total of 10 rounds with Yoel Romero, for fuck’s sake. 50 minutes locked in a cage with Yoel Romero! Hopefully he can stay healthy now and regain some of that momentum. Till’s hoping to continue to build on his fresh start at 185. He had a nightmare late 2018/early 2019 with those losses to Woodley and Masvidal, took him right out of the title mix at 170 for the foreseeable future. Made his Middleweight debut in November at MSG and beat Kelvin Gastelum on points.

And here we are. This has actually been kind of brewing since early this year when Till was trying to insert himself into the Whittaker vs Cannonier thing. Till just started stalking Whittaker on social media and randomly popping up on almost anything he posted.

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One of the most unusual beginnings of a fight build ever. Till on social media in general is odd. His current thing seems to be terrorising Mike Perry and photoshopping his own face onto different fighters. This is how his Twitter is looking these days...

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Some of it is actually amusing in a childish way but it’s been weird. He seems to be pissing about on Twitter, photoshop and in Mike Perry’s head 24/7 these days. So much that I’m starting to think he’s forgot that he’s fighting Bobby Knuckles in a few weeks. Not sure what to think about this fight. I’m definitely looking forward to it but I don’t really have an idea how I see it playing out. I’d probably have picked Whittaker fairly easily a year ago but with his time out and going through personal shit, who knows where he’s at with that now? And the jury is kind of out on Till at 185. It might actually be a much better fit for him because that cut to 170 must’ve been a cunt. His performance against Gastelum was kind of conservative but I thought he looked good considering it was his MW debut and who he was in with. Definitely a confidence booster. But judging by how he’s carried on the last few months, I think it might’ve inflated his confidence a bit TOO much. It’s almost a shame we’re not able to have the full on media and press conferences because these two are so polar opposite in personality that it probably would’ve been quite an entertaining buildup. Team Whittaker for me. I don’t care about the ‘tit stars’ (ColinBollocks ™️) or that he’s supposedly ‘boring’. I hope he irons Till out.

 

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Shogun Rua vs Antonio Rogerio Nogueira 3 is ***WAND’S ONE TO WATCH*** and that shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. I don’t care that it’s 2020 and they’re all battered and haggard. It’s Shogun vs Little Nog. This all started 15 years ago when the two met in the Quarterfinals of the 2005 Pride Grand Prix.

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June 26th 2005. Saitama, Japan.

To this day, one of my favourite fights. Easily in the Top 5 Pride fights ever as well. 2005 was the year The Ultimate Fighter was born and Forrest Griffin vs Stephan Bonnar was talked about as the ‘BEST FIGHT OF ALL TIME’ forever but it wasn’t even the best fight of 2005. Shogun vs Nog pissed all over it. Just a tremendous back and forth war. I honestly think they took the 205 division to another level that night. Shogun got the nod but I wouldn’t have been upset if they gave it to Nogueira. It was one of those fights. An all time classic.

Fast forward a decade and they would meet again. This time in the UFC.

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August 1st 2015. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

And once again, Shogun won a competitive decision. Wasn’t a patch on the first one but it was still a pretty good fight. By this point though, they’d both been through the ringer of hard battles and injuries and both had clocked a lot of miles in the 10 years since the first match. 

They’ve both fought sporadically since that second clash. Shogun’s fought 5 times and gone 3-1-1. He’s so far gone from his prime. People who play that down obviously never saw him at his peak. But in fairness, he still seems to get the job done for the most part despite having no knees. He’s just done as a top guy. Stick him in against other fading legends or mid level fighters and he’ll still knock a lot of them dead. Nog’s looked the worse of the two to me. He’s gone 2-2 since that last Shogun fight and he just looks like he’s moving in quicksand half the time. He’s coming off a KO loss to Ryan Spann last May. He just turned 44 years old, it’s the last fight on his contract and he’s confirmed that he’s retiring after this.

“This will probably be the last fight of my career, my farewell fight. So being able to have this rematch with Shogun is both challenging and motivating. I thank Shogun for giving me this opportunity. I’m sure we will put on a great fight again. It’s been a great career.” - Antonio Rogerio Nogueira

When this fight was first reported a few months ago (originally for UFC 250), I was a bit cold towards it. I thought it was pointless with Shogun already leading 2-0 and I felt like trotting them out there again would just kind of diminish the memory of the first fight. But with the story of it being Nog’s retirement match, I’ve come around to it and it’s a fitting way for him to go out. I’d much rather this be his farewell than seeing him murdered by a Walker or Rakic or some other young beast. This is the way to do it. Let him go out against the guy he had his best fight with. Hopefully the retirement sticks regardless of the result here. At 44, I can’t see him getting a better chance to leave his gloves on the canvas than this.

 

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Fabrício Werdum vs Alexander Gustafsson. I don’t think anyone even thought about this one. A proper fight you thought you’d never see. This would’ve been a bit of a dream match back in 2015 when Werdum was throttling Cain and Gus was taking Cormier to the limit. It’s not quite the same thing in 2020 but it’s still a very interesting fight for different reasons. Werdum’s had a dodgy few years since losing the belt to Stipe. He went 3-2 in his next few fights then got himself suspended by USADA. He finally returned at UFC 249 in May, looking all sluggish and doughy, and dropped a decision to Alexey Oleynik. It was a weirdly entertaining fight though, in a way only Heavyweight fights can be. I really enjoyed it. Werdum definitely looked a bit rusty and considering he turns 43 a few days after this fight, that’s to be expected. But if he’s got one last run in him, he’s going to have to step it up here. Gustafsson is an even more intriguing case. I think everyone was a bit taken aback when he announced his retirement last June after the Anthony Smith loss. He was only 32 years old and still thought of as a top contender. I don’t know what to expect out of him here. Especially with him moving up to Heavyweight. He didn’t always look amazing physically at 205, so I wonder how he’ll look at Heavyweight. No doubt he has the height and range and I think his speed and movement could serve him well against the big lugs at HW. But I don’t know. I just can’t picture it.

 

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Carla Esparza vs Marina Rodriguez just got moved to this card. It was meant to go down on the Kattar vs Ige undercard on July 15th but one of Esparza’s cornermen tested positive for COVID so they yanked the fight and postponed it a couple of weeks. It’s an OK fight but I struggle to get up for Esparza fights. Generally, anything she’s involved with, I just feel apathy towards. I can’t knock her success. She’s had a pretty solid career. She was the first ever Strawweight champ in both Invicta and the UFC, won TUF, has wins over the likes of Rose Namajunas, Michelle Waterson, Cynthia Calvillo etc. She just bores me shitless most of the time. She did have an unexpected corker with Alexa Grasso on the Mexico card in September but I put that more down to Grasso being a little whirlwind and forcing the action. Needless to say, I’m rooting for Rodriguez here. Haven’t seen too much of her but she’s looked decent in the footage I have watched. She’s Brazilian, 33 years old, unbeaten at 12-0-2 and has UFC wins over Tecia Torres and Jessica Aguilar.

 

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Paul Craig vs Gadzhimurad Antigulov. Another late addition. OK fight. Always quite enjoyed watching Craig. Seems a good guy and his ability to pull submissions out from the very brink of defeat makes him exciting to watch. Seriously, his last second sub against Ankalaev on one of the London shows a while back still amazes me. He was losing the whole fight and pulled a triangle off and got the tap at 4:59 of the third. Ridiculous. He’s had his setbacks though and he comes into this one off a split draw against Shogun in November. Antigulov is a Russian roughhouse with a solid 20-6 record. 19 of his 20 wins came inside the distance. Hasn’t beat anyone that good but he’s always game and dangerous. He’s hit a slump of late though, he’s been stopped early by Ion Cutelaba and Michal Oleksiejczuk in his last 2 outings. So Craig could be catching him at a good time here.

 

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Alex Oliveira vs Peter Sobotta will probably be decent enough. I’ve never warmed to Cowboy Oliveira, he’s always seemed a bit of a dick, but you’ll very rarely see a dull fight out of him. I’ll give him that. Never going to be a contender but he’s perfect for a spot like this, where they just chuck him in the middle of the card in a fun scrap. He beat Max Griffin last time out, snapping a 3 fight losing streak. Sobotta is still only 33 but it seems like he’s been knocking about forever. He’s had a couple of UFC stints and a bunch of layoffs so I guess that’s what’s dragged it out. Decent fighter with wins over Ben Saunders and Nicolas Dalby. He got beat by Leon Edwards back in 2018 and has been out of action ever since for whatever reason. He pulled out of a couple of fights last year with injuries. If he makes it to the cage this time, I’d expect Oliveira to come out on top.

 

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Khamzat Chimaev vs Rhys McKee opens up the main card. Last minute addition. Of course, Chimaev just made his UFC debut on the Kattar vs Ige undercard on July 15th. Anyone who saw that will know why the UFC can’t wait to get him back in there. He pissed right through John Phillips with ease and is already being hailed as the second coming of Khabib. Way early for that kind of talk for me but there’s no question he looks a beast so far. He’s 7-0 now with 7 finishes. Trains at Allstars in Sweden with Gustafsson etc. This is him back in his division as well now. He took the Phillips fight on short notice at 185 but he was a Welterweight before that. This is back at 170. McKee just got the news that he’s in the UFC. What a welcome they’re giving him with Chimaev, eh? He’s Irish, 10-2-1 with all his wins coming inside the distance, former BAMMA Lightweight champ. Solid signing but fuck me, 6 days notice to fight this Khamzat bastard? Nah, you’re alright.

 

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Francisco Trinaldo vs Jai Herbert just got added. I’ll be checking this one out. It’s Herbert’s UFC debut. He’s from Wolverhampton, 10-1 with 8 knockouts and won the vacant Cage Warriors Lightweight belt last year. Trains with Leon and Fabian Edwards. He was supposed to debut on that London card in March against Marc Diakiese but obviously that one went down the shitter. I’ve never actually seen him fight but I’ve heard his name around the Midlands, he looks decent from the little clips I’ve seen. He’s not exactly getting the welcome mat rolled out though. Trinaldo has never been a guy who’s been in the contender mix but he’s been a solid test for many a fighter on the way up the ladder. He’s got a bit of an underrated resume actually. He’s 25-7 and over the years he’s racked up wins over the likes of Jim Miller, Paul Felder, Ross Pearson, Yancy Medeiros and Evan Dunham. He’s 41 years old now so he’s not quite as effective a gatekeeper as he once was. But he’s still looking decent and he beat John Makdessi and Bobby Green in his last couple of fights. Should give us an idea what Herbert’s got because Trinaldo doesn’t come to play.

 

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Nicolas Dalby vs Jesse Ronson. Another card change. It was supposed to be Dalby vs Danny Roberts. A fight that had already been rescheduled twice after being booked originally for the London card in March that got cancelled. Then it got put on this card. And it’s off again. Shame, I was well up for that. This could still be alright but it’s not the same for me. Dalby got back in the UFC last year after his bloodbath with Ross Houston in Cage Warriors gained him some attention. He returned to the Octagon in September, on home soil in Copenhagen, and beat Alex Oliveira. He’s a good fighter. He also took Darren Till to a draw in a great fight back in 2015. Ronson returns to the UFC after a 6 year absence. It didn’t go well last time, he went 0-3 in the Octagon. He did take Kevin Lee to a split decision during that run though. After the UFC let him go in 2014, he went away and regrouped. He’s gone 8-5 since the UFC release, mostly fighting on the Canadian circuit where he won the Welterweight and Lightweight titles in the TKO promotion. He’s 21-10 overall now. I wouldn’t expect Dalby to lose this one but stranger things have happened. Especially with late fill-ins.

 

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Jake Collier vs Tom Aspinall is another fight that was originally booked for that London show. Can’t say I’m familiar with either man myself. Collier has been inactive since 2017. He’s 11-4 and, apparently, he’s fought in the UFC six times. Six! I don’t recall ever seeing him. If I did then he can’t have left much of an impression. Aspinall is from Wigan and is making his UFC debut. 7-2, all finishes. That’s all I’ve got. Hey, it’s low level Heavyweight MMA. It’s either going to be so bad it’s perversely entertaining or it’s just going to be pure, unredeemable shite. There isn’t much grey area when it comes to the Heavies. Just a big brown one.

 

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Movsar Evloev vs Mike Grundy is one of the standouts on this card for me. Pretty sure this was scheduled at some point last year but never ended up happening for whatever reason. I’ve only seen a handful of both guys’ fights but it was enough that I want to see more. Evloev is Russian, 26 with a perfect record of 12-0 with 7 finishes. 2-0 so far in the UFC. Beat Enrique Barzola last time out. Seem to remember him looking a bit of a beast grappler. And Grundy is no pushover there himself. He was an amateur wrestler out of Wigan who got bronze at the Commonwealth Games in 2014. In MMA he’s 12-1 and on a 9 fight win streak. He made his UFC debut in March 2019 and stopped Nad Narimani in a really good fight where he had to weather a storm and got the TKO in the second round. Really looking forward to seeing this. Hopefully they grapple a lot because that could be good shit. If it becomes a dogfight then fuck knows.

 

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Tanner Boser vs Raphael Pessoa. More Heavyweight goodness. I kind of like this one actually. Boser’s jumped in on late notice after Justin Tafa dropped out. He’s fresh off a quick stoppage win over Philipe Lins on the Poirier vs Hooker card the other week. He’s 18-6-1 overall. Pessoa is Brazilian, 31 years old, 10-1 with 7 finishes. His only loss so far is to Ciryl Gane. These two most likely aren’t really going anywhere in the division but it should be fun however long it goes and probably ends with a bang either way. 

 

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Bethe Correia vs Pannie Kianzad. No fucks given really, are there? I was actually a tad surprised Correia is still on the roster, to be honest. She’s been cack forever. She’s gone 2-3-1 since Ronda Rousey squashed her in 2015. She’s coming off a ‘big’ win over Sijara Eubanks now so I guess we’re stuck with her for a little while longer yet. She’s 37 now and doesn’t seem to be improving at all. In fact, she’s regressed. But she’ll probably be shitting up the prelims for a couple more years yet. Kianzad is Iranian/Swedish, 28 years old with a 12-5 record. She was also a TUF finalist and former Cage Warriors champ. Hadn’t noticed before but she’s a bit of a cutie as well. Not the best in the cage, although she’s not as bad as Correira. I don’t think. I guess we’re about to find out.

 

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Ramazan Emeev vs Niklas Stolze. Little bit of a comedown for me this. It was supposed to be Emeev against Shavkat Rakhmonov and I was really looking forward to seeing Rakhmonov’s debut. But he’s out and we’re going to have to wait a bit longer for that. Stolze has been drafted in as his replacement and he’s also making his UFC debut. He’s German, 27 years old with a record of 12-3 with 9 finishes. He has trained at SBG in Ireland in the past, not sure if he does anymore. Doesn’t sound a bad signing, just disappointed Rakhmonov’s out. Emeev is 33 years old, 18-4 and had won 7 straight before losing to Rocco Martin in November. He’s nothing amazing but he’s a tough journeyman kind of fighter who should theoretically be able to ask questions of a less experienced opponent.

 

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Nathaniel Wood vs John Castaneda. Was pretty gutted about this actually. Wood vs Umar Nurmagomedov was the original fight but, understandably, Umar pulled out when Khabib’s dad Abdulmanap died. In all honesty, the change of opponent is actually probably better for Wood. He’s coming off a disaster in February where he got stopped by John Dodson. Trying to rebound against an undefeated stud prospect in Nurmagomedov, while ballsy, mightn’t have been the best move. Wood’s 27 years old, from London, 16-4 record, former Cage Warriors Bantamweight champion. He’d won 8 in a row before that Dodson loss and finished all 8 opponents. Despite the loss to Dodson, I feel like Wood probably has the brightest future out of all the UK fighters coming up through the ranks. But he’s got to get back on track here. Castaneda, nicknamed ‘Sexi Mexi’, is 17-4 with 12 finishes and has most recently fought in the Combate Americas promotion. Don’t know much about him other than that but from the little clips I’ve seen on Twitter, he looks like your typical Mexican scrapper so this could be pretty wild however long it lasts.

 

That’s some card, isn’t it? I think it’s being overlooked because it’s getting lost in all these back-to-back cards the UFC have been banging out lately. But this is on another level for me when it comes to Fight Nights. Great main event, legends trilogy bout and Nog’s farewell in the co-main, Gus’ debut at Heavyweight. Then you’ve got some real potential barnburners like Nurmagomedov vs Wood and Dalby vs Roberts. Evloev and Grundy could put on a grappling clinic. The Rakhmonov debut. There really is a bit of everything on this one.

Rob?

ROB?

Edited by wandshogun09

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Can't wait for this one! Loaded card for a Fight Night as you say Wand. No prizes for guessing who I'm backing in the main event.

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An absolute gent and a monster in the cage when he's healthy. The fight with Adesanya- I think- was Rob being a bit too eager to get a big finish, he almost Garbrandt-ed it with his aggression. Compare that to how he fought against Brunson and Jacare, where he was calculated and found his openings, and yeah. I just really want Rob to bounce back from those Romero fights, he got through them but no doubt the Soldier of God claimed a little bit of his soul in those 10 rounds.

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The Adesanya fight could’ve been being talked about a lot differently today if not for spilt seconds and fractions of inches. It was a great performance from Izzy no doubt, but he was playing a dangerous game here. Leaning back, chin up, hands down...

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Obviously it paid off that night. But just imagine if Whittaker would’ve clipped him on the chin with one of those shots and knocked him out? This moment would be remembered as Adesanya’s ‘Silva vs Weidman’ moment rather than a career defining victory. As great as Adesanya is, it’s why I think he’ll get caught sooner rather than later. I don’t think he’ll have as long a run as Anderson did. Partly because the Middleweight division is stronger now than it was back then but also I don’t think his defence/chin is as good as Anderson’s was in his prime. It’s not a massive problem because his timing and reflexes often make up for it. But I don’t get that feeling of invincibility watching him like I did with The Spider in his heyday. He’s more susceptible to getting pulled into a firefight. The Gastelum fight being the prime example but even that exchange with Whittaker there. You rarely saw Anderson trade like that and leave things to chance. He was more of a sniper. It works for Izzy though and makes him exciting to watch. When he’s not in there with Yoel anyway. 

All that aside, I really hope he clobbers Till. Another loss here won’t look good at all for Whittaker and Till’s a nob so it’d be doubly crap. 

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Got a feeling Till beats Whitaker, just favour him against a very conventional striker like Whitaker. Gotta wonder what that Adesanya loss has taken out of Whitaker too, hes been on the end of some hefty punishment the last couple of years.

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3 hours ago, wandshogun09 said:

Partly because the Middleweight division is stronger now than it was back then but also I don’t think his defence/chin is as good as Anderson’s was in his prime. It’s not a massive problem because his timing and reflexes often make up for it. But I don’t get that feeling of invincibility watching him like I did with The Spider in his heyday. He’s more susceptible to getting pulled into a firefight. The Gastelum fight being the prime example but even that exchange with Whittaker there. You rarely saw Anderson trade like that and leave things to chance. 

I think that's mostly because striking and gameplanning during Anderson's era was weak compared to today. 

Anderson didn't have to trade or lead because his opponents usually played into his game. They would usually extend themselves trying to land strikes, and in the process, make themselves vulnerable to Anderson's counter strikes. It was against aggressive, yet relatively unskilled strikers, that Anderson shined brightest (see his bouts against Leben and Griffin for examples). 

Later on, Weidman and Bisping found out ways to neutralise with Anderson's counter game (feints, etc). Left with few other options, Anderson was forced to lead, and we found out that he wasn't a particularly good boxer on the front foot. Bisping in particular found it quite easy to tag Anderson when the latter marched forward. 

Anderson will be remembered as a legend (rightfully so), but was he a better fighter in his prime than say Whittaker or Adesanya are today? In my view, no. The game, or more specifically the middleweight division, has progressed quite a bit in the past decade or so. 

Edited by jimufctna24

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That and also it just wasn’t Anderson’s style to come forward and blast away like Wanderlei or Shogun at their pomp. His destruction of Leben was an exception to the rule because he knew he could get away with it due to Leben swinging from his shins. You could’ve parked a car between Leben’s non-existent defensive guard his arms were so wide apart coming in. Anderson was always more of a counter striker. Even that Forrest Griffin annihilation, he mostly hung back and just let Griffin plod into his own demise. The only other high profile fight where I’d say Anderson was a full on come forward striker was the first Rich Franklin fight. But I’m guessing that’s because he must’ve seen a weakness in Franklin’s Thai clinch defence and wanted to immediately close the distance and establish his dominance there. 

1 hour ago, jimufctna24 said:

Anderson will be remembered as a legend (rightfully so), but was he a better fighter in his prime than say Whittaker or Adesanya are today? In my view, no. 

I wasn’t arguing that, it’s something we’ll never be able to answer. And of course, combat sports are constantly evolving so the overall skills, techniques, access to better and different training methods and nutritional knowledge today is better than it was when Anderson ruled. If Anderson was in his 20s now and just coming along who’s to say he wouldn’t go on to be better than the Anderson we knew? We’ll never know.

Middleweight is definitely better these days. You don’t get today’s equivalent of Nate Quarry getting title shots anymore because there’s no need. The division is deep enough now that it’s always churning out worthy contenders. But Anderson beat most of the best of his era. There wasn’t a 185er I’d say he ducked during his reign. He never faced Lindland but Lindland had gone from the UFC by that point. It’s easy for people to look back now and shit on certain divisions back then because the names are all either retired now or we saw them getting battered a bunch at the end of their careers. But you still had Rich Franklin, who I think doesn’t really get his due. Anderson wrecked him twice. Nate Marquardt was legit back then. There were nights in his career where I thought he looked as good as anyone, champion material. He just never found that long term consistency. Anderson done him. Hendo was a huge win at the time. Belfort was big. Weidman was a bad matchup who came along at the perfect time, right at the tail end of Anderson’s prime. And while Bisping always had the attributes to give Anderson problems, it’s also worth noting that Anderson was 40 years old already by the time he faced Bisping. And there’s still a strong case that he should’ve won that fight. However we chop it up, Anderson is a legend. Aside from a couple of rotten fights, he did about as good as he could’ve possibly done in those prime years and beat all comers from 2006 to 2012.

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Deal with it, Jim. Deal with it.

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48 minutes ago, wandshogun09 said:

And of course, combat sports are constantly evolving so the overall skills, techniques, access to better and different training methods and nutritional knowledge today is better than it was when Anderson ruled.

Fair point. 

However, I believe the Middleweight division has evolved more than say the Heavyweight or Light-Heavyweight divisions. Is the Heavyweight division of say 2011, which had prime versions of Cain and JDS in it, really inferior to today's division? 

55 minutes ago, wandshogun09 said:

Weidman was a bad matchup who came along at the perfect time, right at the tail end of Anderson’s prime. And while Bisping always had the attributes to give Anderson problems, it’s also worth noting that Anderson was 40 years old already by the time he faced Bisping. And there’s still a strong case that he should’ve won that fight. However we chop it up, Anderson is a legend. Aside from a couple of rotten fights, he did about as good as he could’ve possibly done in those prime years and beat all comers from 2006 to 2012.

I've never been sold that Anderson's losses to Bisping and Weidman can be attributed to his age (not that you said it was the only factor).

The warning signs were evident long before Weidman chinned him. When Maia and Cote chose to not extend themselves against him, he looked a bit lost and could only really lead with low kicks. 

And aye, he did change the game in some ways. As a striker, he was leagues above the other middleweights of his era. He was a crisp counter striker, who could stun opponents with his hands, knees, or feet. I just don't think he was as complete a fighter as some of the other greats of his era (Aldo, GSP, etc), and while I think he would be a contender today if he was still in his prime, I don't think he'd be champion. But as you said, for various reasons, we will never know for sure. 

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I’ve always felt like the lacklustre performances against Maia and Leites were as much down to him not wanting to be taken down as anything else. His early career losses in Japan (Takase, Chonan) had been submissions. And even in the UFC, the only weakness he’d shown was on the ground when Lutter had him mounted and Hendo took the first round off him. Leites and especially Maia had the kind of grappling that could’ve given Anderson issues if they’d been able to get that going and I think Anderson was a bit wary of that. You’re probably onto something about them not giving him opportunities to counter being a factor as well though, especially on the Cote fight. It was probably a combination of both and it just meant Anderson danced around waiting for openings that never really came, or if they did he didn’t want to leave himself vulnerable to the takedown.

On the Heavyweight division, it’s weird. It seemed to evolve and then devolve again. It’s undeniable that the division improved massively around 2007/08. The Tim Sylvia era came to an end and the belt went to a beloved underdog in Randy Couture. That was the first step to recovery. Then you had Cro Cop and Big Nog jump over from Pride right around the same time along with Werdum and Herring. Then in about a 6 month span we saw the UFC debuts of Shane Carwin, Cain Velasquez, Junior Dos Santos and Brock Lesnar. At the same time, outside the UFC you had Fedor, Overeem, Barnett, Bigfoot etc. It was by far the healthiest the Heavyweight division has ever been before or since. Sadly, that crew is now mostly gone and the ones that remain are fading out. And there hasn’t really been anyone to replace them. Stipe’s fucking awesome. I think he’d have hung just fine in that boom period of the division. But I’ve always got the feeling he’s not going to stick around too much longer. He’s never seemed like a MMA ‘lifer’ to me. And that’s probably a good thing. He’s just a normal dude with other things going on in his life. He just happens to be a fucking all time great Heavyweight MMA fighter. But if he doesn’t fight much longer, there’s not much else going on. DC’s got one left and that’ll be his career wrapped up in August. JDS, Overeem and Werdum probably have no more than a handful of fights left. Cain’s probably done. The only two who really stand out to me are Francis Ngannou and maybe Ciryl Gane. But even then it’s early days with Gane and him and Ngannou are teammates so that’s probably that future monster clash dead before it even gets off the ground. If people think Heavyweight is bad now, give it a couple more years when all the current names have retired and we’re watching Blaydes vs Volkov 5 for the title. 

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32 minutes ago, wandshogun09 said:

His early career losses in Japan (Takase, Chonan) had been submissions. And even in the UFC, the only weakness he’d shown was on the ground when Lutter had him mounted and Hendo took the first round off him.

I've mentioned this before, so I will probably sound like a broken record, but Anderson was better suited to the cage rather than the ring. The cage doesn't have corners. which gives counter strikers more room to create distance and evade grappling exchanges. The ring with its sharp edges, makes strikers more vulnerable to being trapped in corners, which means they have to be very physical when fighting off takedowns. 

While Anderson was an excellent counter striker, he didn't have the frame to fight as a sprawl and brawler. Hence why he struggled a bit in Pride. Had the UFC used a ring instead of the cage, then it's very possible that he would have ended up as a wasted talent. 

32 minutes ago, wandshogun09 said:

Stipe’s fucking awesome. I think he’d have hung just fine in that boom period of the division.

Agreed. Stipe would be a handful for any heavyweight, past or present. 

Edited by jimufctna24

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Wicked. Both Danny Roberts and Shavkat Rakhmonov are off this card injured. Killing one of the fights I was most looking forward to on the show (Roberts vs Dalby) and Rakhmonov’s debut. Absolute bastard.

With both cancelled fights being at Welterweight, I guess the logical move is to pair the opponents off so we’re probably getting Nicolas Dalby vs Ramazan Emeev now. Decent enough but underwhelming. 

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yeh makes sense.

We may see these Fight Island cards thin out because unless its like a situation above where two guys in the same division can match up, there is no chance of them getting last minute subs in like they have been doing in Vegas, fights will just be cancelled.

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Yeah most likely. I’ve noticed I’ve been editing the opening posts on these COVID era cards a lot with all the changes and pullouts. You’d think that because most of the fights on these cards come together fairly close to show time, that there’d be less time for fighters to pick up injuries due to the short camps. But I guess that’s a double edged sword. The guys who stay in shape in between fights are probably fine but I bet some guys are getting the call and maybe coming in a bit out of shape, trying to squeeze in too much training in a short time to overcompensate and that’s how they’re getting hurt.

Just seen on MMA Junkie that Paul Craig vs Gadzhimurad Antigulov has been added to this now as well. 

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NOOOOO! Looks like Umar Nurmagomedov vs Nathaniel Wood might be off. Umar and teammate Tagir Ulanbekov cancelled their flights to Fight Island after Abdulmanap’s death this week. Ulanbekov was out of his fight anyway from what I can tell, and has already been replaced. Looks like Nurmagomedov is off too. 

Totally understandable, especially for Nurmagomedov being related to Abdulmanap, but no less disappointing. Nurmagomedov vs Wood was one of the fights I was most looking forward to in July. 

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