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UFC 268: Usman vs Covington 2 - Nov 6 🇺🇸


wandshogun09
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The Octagon returns to Madison Square Garden with the most stacked card of the year.

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PPV MAIN CARD
Kamaru Usman vs Colby Covington - Welterweight Title

Rose Namajunas vs Zhang Weili - Strawweight Title

Frankie Edgar vs Marlon Vera

Shane Burgos vs Billy Quarantillo 

Justin Gaethje vs Michael Chandler 

ESPN PRELIMS
Andreas Michailidis vs Alex Pereira

Al Iaquinta vs Bobby Green 

Phil Hawes vs Chris Curtis 

Edmen Shahbazyan vs Nassourdine Imavov 

ESPN+/FIGHT PASS PRELIMS
Ian Garry vs Jordan Williams 

Gian Villante vs Chris Barnett 

John Allan vs Dustin Jacoby

Melsik Baghdasaryan vs Bruno Souza

CJ Vergara vs Ode Osbourne

 

What a fucking card! Before anyone says it, yeah I know, we won’t actually get all of this. These days we’ve just been conditioned to expect a bunch of fights to drop off a card. It’s a given now unfortunately. But this is less than a month away now and we should probably get talking about it because, on paper at least, this has ‘card of the year’ written all over it.

 

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Kamaru Usman vs Colby Covington 2 then. A rematch two years in the making. It was just a matter of time until these two crossed paths again. Usman’s more than proven himself the top dog at 170lbs at this point and, like him or loathe him, it’s pretty much been the consensus opinion over the last couple of years that Covington is probably second in the pecking order. Between them, they most likely clear out the division as things stand right now. So it always seemed inevitable that they’d meet again. Especially with how the first fight played out.

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It went down at UFC 245 in December 2019. I remember doing the opening post for the thread on here and going through both their careers and there were so many parallels between how their journeys had gone. Both were coming in with 15-1 records and had suffered defeat early in their career before going on streaks later. And in a weird little twist, the guy Usman lost to, Covington beat and the guy Covington lost to, Usman beat. Even later in the UFC, they both had to get through Demian Maia and Rafael Dos Anjos on the way up to title contention and those were their breakthrough wins. Usman got the gold with a complete domination over Tyron Woodley in early 2019 and that was that. Anyway, Usman and Covington finally met at UFC 245 and it turned out to be a FOTY contender. I haven’t seen it since around the time it happened, I’ll have to revisit it before the rematch, I just remember they had a hell of a battle. All we’d really seen to this point was them both grinding out clear wins, but against each other they were so evenly matched and close in skills that it made for a tremendous fight that was close all the way. By the time they came out for the 5th round I think pretty much everyone had it level with both winning 2 rounds apiece. Then it happened…

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Colby got his jaw jacked, got put on his arse and he was done. The ref stopped it and Usman had conquered his toughest challenge and retained his Welterweight belt. It was poetic justice that after all the shit talking Covington did going in, he got his jaw broken. And he’d talked all kinds of shit going in. Proper low road stuff, even by his standards, talking about Usman’s manager who had died and making dodgy comments about “tribes” and “smoke signals” aimed at Usman. And even when he wasn’t being a racist or disrespecting a dead man’s name, he was just being his usual cringey self desperately trying to make shite nicknames like “Marty Fakenewsman” catch on and wearing a bright orange suit to overcompensate for his lack of any actual legit charisma. So yeah, when Usman spun his jaw and he ran out of the cage and tried to hide his battered face and swollen jaw from the cameras…

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Ha!

For me, it went down as one of the most satisfying results to a fight ever. Probably the most satisfying for me since Brock Lesnar pulverised Frank Mir at UFC 100 a whole decade earlier. If Vince McMahon himself was scripting this, it couldn’t have had a better ‘heel getting his comeuppance’ payoff. It was beautiful.

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Since then Usman’s only gone from strength to strength. His next defence against Jorge Masvidal was a bit lacklustre. He won a lopsided decision but it wasn’t much good to watch. In fairness though, it was a late switch of opponent. After that, he stopped Gilbert Burns in February in really impressive fashion. Burns, for me, was probably the next toughest test for Usman after Covington and Usman didn’t just win, he got him out of there. Then he rematched Masvidal in April and…

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This after Masvidal said Usman was the “softest hitter he’d been in with”. Usman’s making a bit of a habit of forcing trash talking opponents to eat their words. He’s really solidified himself as the man at 170 at this point. Easily one of the top ‘pound-for-pound’ fighters in the sport and definitely one of the best Welterweights MMA has ever seen. He’s getting very close to GSP’s legacy for Welterweight GOAT status for me now.

As for Covington, he’s fought a whopping once in the two years since the first Usman fight. He fought Tyron Woodley last September, had his way and the fight ended in the 5th due to a Woodley rib injury. Covington was well on his way to winning anyway but it was a bit of a deflating ending and Woodley’s looked done at the top level for a while so I’m not sure what that win even tells us. I still think if anyone of the current crop can dethrone Usman, then skills-wise Covington probably has the best chance. But Usman’s only gotten better since they last fought, especially in the striking, and he’s been active. And we’ve seen Covington once and it was against a badly fading Woodley. Covington’s still chatting shit anyway. This time he’s going the PED accusing route;

“He’s been doing EPO his whole career. It’s so obvious. He’s got the pimples all over his back, all over his face. You’re a 35 year old man, you’re not going through puberty like you’re in your teens anymore. That’s from his testosterone being out of whack. He is the CEO of EPO. He’s ‘Marty Juiceman’. They’re gonna let him get away with it but you’ve gotta live with that the rest of your life. That you had to cheat the whole way through your career. I know I’m all natural American. I work the hard way. You know, blue collar. Earned it. Blood, sweat and tears. November 6th is destiny. Colby ‘Chaos’ Covington will be the UFC welterweight champion of the world, and there’s not a steroid in the world that can stop it”. - Colby Covington 

Getting his excuses in early maybe. I’d love to see Usman crumble this prick like he did Masvidal. A proper one punch knockout this time would be fantastic. Preferably in a fight that’s not even competitive either. Just a beating. I know there’ll be people in here going ‘yeah but if Covington wins we get the rubber match, it’s good for the sport’ etc. I don’t care. I can’t root for a bellend like Covington just so we get a third fight. I want him to go winless against Usman and then fizzle out and slide further down the rankings into obscurity. That’d be grand. It’s not what I expect to happen. Can’t stand him but I’ll always admit he’s one of the best in the division. He gave Usman a really hard fight last time, maybe Usman’s only hard fight in the UFC, to be honest. Only Covington has been able to push him like that. They were neck and neck for 4 rounds last time before Usman pulled ahead and then broke his face. They were even all the way. I just think Usman is the more improved of the two since they last met and I can see this being a bit more of a clear win. Should be good regardless.

 

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Rose Namajunas vs Zhang Weili 2 co-headlines. Not a massive fan of this myself. I don’t hate it or anything, I’m sure it’ll be fun however long it lasts. I just don’t really get why it’s happening. Not yet anyway. They literally just fought in April. Zhang was the champ going in, making her second defence a year after her crazy 5 round war with Joanna Jedrzejczyk. The fight started and before it even got going…

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All over. That was 1:18 into the first round. Done. Thug Rose channeling Mirko Cro Cop with the big left high kick and just like that we had a new UFC Strawweight champion.

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Now I’m a fan of Strawweight, there are some really good fighters in the division. But the way things sat coming out of this show, there weren’t a lot of obvious immediate challengers. But when Carla Esparza beat Yan Xiaonan to a bloody pulp in May, I thought she should be getting the next shot no question. And I’m far from a fan of Esparza but fair’s fair. She’s on a winning streak and a fight with Namajunas would actually have a cool little backstory because Esparza was the first ever Strawweight champ in the UFC, and beat none other than Rose Namajunas back in 2014 for the vacant belt. A rematch now, this time with Rose as the defending champion, would be a nice little full circle story. But for some reason, they’ve gone with Namajunas vs Zhang 2. Despite Zhang getting knocked out in a minute last time. There was zero controversy and it’s not like Zhang was some long reigning champion. Meanwhile, Robert Whittaker’s had to jump through hoops to get his rematch with Adesanya and Aldo never did get his rematch with McGregor. Don’t mean to be down on this fight because it’ll likely be entertaining enough. Just not a big fan of these immediate rematches unless they’re necessary and I don’t think this was. Oh well. If nothing else I can’t see it being boring.

 

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Frankie Edgar vs Marlon Vera. Bit of an old guard vs new blood feel to it but it should be a good fight. Interesting one for Edgar as well. People have been wanting to declare him washed up for about 5 years now and I was never on board with it. I argued the case for him for years and he proved me right a couple of times. I remember people acting like he was gonna get slaughtered when he fought Yair Rodriguez a few years ago and he went out and took Yair to school. In 2021 though, we’re now at the point where even I’ve got to admit the end is near.

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He’ll be 40 years old by the time he steps into the cage at MSG. Started in 2005. That’s a good old run, especially for a lighter weight class fighter. He’s competed at the highest level of the sport for nearly all of it as well, and won the Lightweight title when he probably should’ve been at Featherweight or even Bantamweight his whole career. The wars with Gray Maynard, going 3-0 over BJ Penn, wins over Sean Sherk, Urijah Faber, Cub Swanson, Chad Mendes, Yair Rodriguez and Charles Oliveira. He’s a future Hall Of Famer for sure. Everything comes to an end though. He’s lost 4 of his last 6 and even his last win over Pedro Munhoz, I thought the decision was iffy. The most telling sign that it’s probably over is that he’s started getting knocked out now as well. Knocking out Frankie Edgar used to seem like an almost impossible task. Ask Gray Maynard. But over the last couple of years, Ortega and Zombie put him out. Then in February this year, he took a flying knee off Cory Sandhagen that would’ve knocked out an elephant. A really, really bad knockout. The type that ruins a chin forever. Like when Rashad Evans sparked Chuck Liddell. Chuck had been stopped before that but he was still pretty durable. After the Rashad KO, his chin was toast. I fear this could be a similar thing with Frankie. Vera isn’t in that elite bracket at 135, he’s a guy I’d usually favour Edgar to beat. But I just don’t know with Frankie anymore. Vera’s a scrappy fucker and dangerous. He stopped Sean O’Malley and just beat Davey Grant in a total dogfight in June. He’s 12 years younger than Frankie as well. I dunno. Style-wise, Frankie certainly has the tools to win this fight. I just think it might be over. I think it actually might be kinder to Frankie if he loses. If he wins he’ll only convince himself that he’s got another run in him and that’ll end in tears. He might, might, still have enough to pick up some wins at this level but I think it’s pretty clear his days of hanging with the top contenders are over.

 

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Shane Burgos vs Billy Quarantillo sounds like a serious darkhorse FOTN contender to me. Not even sure it’s a darkhorse, to be fair. On almost any other card it’d probably be my ‘one to watch’, it’s just kind of getting lost in the shuffle here due to the depth of this card. Make no mistake though, this will be worth tuning in for. Burgos loves a good old scrap. I think the first time I saw him was when he fought Calvin Kattar and he gave Kattar all kinds of bother before Kattar finally rallied for the late finish. His barnburner with Josh Emmett was one of the best fights of 2020 as well. Unfortunately though, he’s been coming up on the losing end in these fights. And he got knocked out by Barboza last time out as well. He could really do with a W right about now. Quarantillo is a guy I haven’t seen that much of but I’ve really got into his fights in the UFC so far. His debut submission over Jacob Kilburn was great, he had a really fun fast paced battle with Spike Carlyle, scored a peach of a KO against Kyle Nelson and had a cracking FOTN winning TKO over Gabriel Benitez last time out. If there’s been a dull moment, I haven’t seen it. As we saw with Santos vs Walker recently, sometimes in MMA, two rights can make a wrong but I’d be surprised if this isn’t at least a ‘good fight’, with potential to be a lot more.

 

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Justin Gaethje vs Michael Chandler is ***WAND’S ONE TO WATCH*** here. Even on a card as ridiculously stacked as this, it’s a fight that really jumps out at you. Can’t go wrong with it. Feels like forever since we last saw Gaethje, doesn’t it? The Khabib loss was a year ago now and we haven’t seen him since. He’s been linked to a couple of fights, this Chandler fight was actually talked about early this year, it just never got finalised. I could be wrong but I don’t think the time away will effect him the way it does some fighters though. He fights the way he fights and that’s that. Chandler obviously had a great start to his UFC run, knocking out Dan Hooker in a round in January. Then him and Charles Oliveira met to crown a new Lightweight champ in May and, although Chandler had him in bother early, Oliveira came through and stopped him in the second round. So they’re both in the same position now. Both coming close to the gold only to fall at the final hurdle. Neither of them are far off though and a big win here puts one of them right back in the race. Chandler’s talking (or tweeting) a good game;

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I’ve got a feeling he might try to wrestle this one out though. But that might not be so straight forward. I think some put too much stock into the way Gaethje lost to Khabib and think now that anyone with decent wrestling can just rag him about. But Khabib is made of different stuff and people overlook that he had to walk through some fire to impose his will in that fight. It’s been largely forgotten now but Khabib ate some fucking shots on his way in from Gaethje in that fight. But he had the chin and the guts and determination to keep walking him down. That’s not gonna work for everyone. You try to walk Gaethje down and most of the time you’re getting ironed out. Gaethje sounds well up for it;

“The dude comes to fight. He loves fighting just as much as me. Styles make matchups and this is a stylistic matchup for the fans. Someone’s gonna get knocked out. Unless he turns into a bitch and tries to turn this into a wrestling match the whole time. He’s talking about timid souls taking a step backwards. He’s gonna be a timid soul when he starts shooting for legs because he doesn’t like the power. That’s what I think”. - Justin Gaethje 

Even if Chandler does go the wrestling route, that could be a lot of fun to watch as well. Khabib can make anyone look bad in the grappling. Gaethje can wrestle, he just chooses not to. But if Chandler forces that kind of fight, I think it’ll make for some entertaining exchanges. If it plays out mostly on the feet though, I’ve got to favour Gaethje. Both can crack but I think Gaethje’s insane durability and his aggression will be the difference maker. Should be a fantastic fight though. You look at Chandler’s last fight with Oliveira, even in defeat, you look at Gaethje’s mad fights with Poirier and Ferguson, then you look at both men’s wars with Eddie Alvarez. This has all the potential to be another one of them. I don’t wanna jinx it with the ‘possible FOTY’ stuff but the ingredients are definitely there. Can’t wait.

 

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Andreas Michailidis vs Alex Pereira. Right then. This is an intriguing one and it’s got very little to do with Michailidis. He’s 13-4, hasn’t beat anyone of note yet, can’t even say I recall watching him fight before. It’s the UFC debut of Pereira that makes this worth a look. He’s only 3-1 in MMA and hasn’t fought anyone you’d know yet. He’s fought very sporadically in MMA as well, few fights in 2015/16 and then one in 2020 and that’s it. It’s all about his Kickboxing background though. And one win in particular.

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Yep. There he is knocking out Israel Adesanya back in 2017. He actually beat Adesanya twice in Kickboxing but the other one was on points. This knockout though, is what he’s best known for. Truthfully, I’m not sure about him. Aside from beating Adesanya (nearly 5 years ago, by the way), he’s not really done much else worth talking about. His Kickboxing record is 33-7 and he’s got some other solid wins over Simon Marcus and Dustin Jacoby but nothing spectacular. And like I say, in MMA he’s done nothing really. He’s 34 now, I can’t see him going on some crazy run but I quite like the signing. Sod it. Throw him in there and see what happens. They’re obviously thinking if he gets a few good wins, the rematch with Adesanya is an easy one to promote. I have serious doubts he gets that far but if he can string some wins together that story writes itself.

 

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Al Iaquinta vs Bobby Green. Really like the sound of this. Where has Ragin’ Al been? Hasn’t fought since 2019 and for someone who’s usually got a lot to say, he’s been pretty quiet as well during that time. Always get the impression that Iaquinta isn’t that arsed about fighting. It’s just something he dips in and out of. Don’t know if he’s still selling houses but I think he was doing well with that at one time wasn’t he? So MMA is most likely just a secondary job to him. Shame really because he’s shown real potential in the past and if he was fully committed to MMA and stayed active, he would’ve only got better over the last few years. It’s probably healthier, physically and financially, that he’s got other shit going on outside the cage though. Don’t know how he’ll look here. MMA is very much a ‘out of sight, out of mind’ sport and Iaquinta has been away so long. I think people forget he was wins over Jorge Masvidal, Kevin Lee and stopped Diego Sanchez and Joe Lauzon years ago. He’s probably mostly remembered for going 5 rounds in a losing effort against Khabib on about 2 days notice. Not sure how he’s gonna look here. Like I said, 2 years away and he lost his last 2 fights as well. And Green’s been active the whole time. He’s also coming off losses but he’s fought 6 times since Iaquinta last got in there and he ran Fiziev close in his last fight. Could be decent but these long breaks for Al can’t be good.

 

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Phil Hawes vs Chris Curtis. Kind of intrigued by this one. The UFC actually tried to put this fight together a few weeks ago. Hawes was all set to face Deron Winn on the Dern vs Rodriguez card but Winn pulled out the day before. The UFC offered Curtis the fight but Hawes declined it, which was probably a wise move with less than 24 hours notice. So it’s been rescheduled for this card. Hawes is on a bit of a hot streak so I don’t blame him for not just hastily jumping in against a last minute replacement in Curtis. Nothing wrong with just pushing the date back a few weeks and giving both some time to prepare. We’ll probably get a better fight out of it as well. Anyway, Hawes is 11-2 with 9 finishes and has won his last 7 on the trot. Scored a quick KO on DWCS to get in, wrecked Jacob Malkoun in 18 seconds in his UFC debut and has taken decisions off Nassourdine Imavov and Kyle Daukaus so far this year. Not sure what his ceiling is but he looks the part so far. Chris ‘Action Man’ Curtis is 34 years old with a record of 26-8 with 15 inside the distance. He’s coming in off a 5 fight win streak and has appeared on DWCS himself and fought in the PFL.

 

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Edmen Shahbazyan vs Nassourdine Imavov. Quite interested in this, if only to see if Shahbazyan can get back on track. He came in with a lot of hype due to his association with Ronda Rousey. He quickly racked up a perfect 11-0 record, 10 were finishes, 5 were in under a minute! He wasn’t fucking about. And all in his early 20s. The most impressive win was his headkick knockout over Brad Tavares because Tavares had gone the distance with Israel Adesanya and Yoel Romero in the past, and this wet behind the ears kid comes in and flatlines him in less than 3 minutes. He was turning heads. It all got derailed big time though. Everyone’s favourite hype killer Derek Brunson handed him his first loss, and an arse kicking to go with it, last summer. Then they threw him right back in with Jack Hermansson and he got dominated again. Never got that matchmaking. It was obvious after the Brunson loss that he needed more time and work on his overall game before stepping up to that level. So they immediately chuck him back out there with Hermansson who’s another bad stylistic match for him? It’s not all doom and gloom. Shahbazyan’s still only 23. He’s got time and there’s a lot of promise and upside there. He just doesn’t need to be in with the top boys yet. I don’t know a lot about Imavov. He’s 25, from Dagestan and has a 10-3 record. Mostly fought unknowns but did TKO Ian Heinisch in his last fight. Sounds decent but it looks like they have at least scaled back Shahbazyan’s opposition a bit, which was obviously much needed. Still, Imavov could be a banana skin. Those Dagestani guys often come in as unknown quantities because they fight a lot of names we don’t recognise early in their careers. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re not legit. Could be a risky one for Shahbazyan actually.

 

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Ian Garry vs Jordan Williams. The UFC debut for Ian Garry is upon us. He’s 23 years old out of Dublin and as you’d expect from a guy of his age from Dublin, he was inspired to get into MMA by watching Conor McGregor. Here’s young Garry meeting old glass ankles years ago.

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He got into MMA himself, made his pro debut in 2019 and now has a perfect record of 7-0 with 5 finishes. He’s been talked about as one of the best prospects in MMA for a bit now and he’s just won the Cage Warriors strap in June.

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He’s leaving no stone unturned. He’s training in Florida at Sanford MMA under Henri Hooft who’s trained a who’s who in the sport. He’s training with the likes of Gilbert Burns and Derek Brunson, it’s a great move for him, especially so early in his career. At 23, he’s gonna improve leaps and bounds being on the mats with guys like that day in and day out. Williams is 9-5-0-1 and has already lost his first 2 UFC fights. Got submitted by Mickey Gall last time out. Sounds like a typical showcase debut opponent for Garry this. He shouldn’t have much hassle in this one. There’s always the chance the old ‘Octagon jitters’ come into play but Garry seems confident enough to deal with that.

 

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Gian Villante vs Chris Barnett could be a laugh. Definitely one of the weaker fights on the card but whatever. Could be perversely entertaining. Villante hasn’t looked with it for years to me. He was never that good to begin with but he was this tough, brawling New Yorker who you could throw out there early in a card for a lively dust up. Over the last few years though he really looks like he just doesn’t give a shit anymore. There’s a reason he’s gone up to Heavyweight and I don’t think it’s because he thinks he can make a little run there. I think he just couldn’t be arsed to train and put the burgers down anymore. He looked pregnant at the weigh in for his last fight. Honestly, I don’t know why he’s been kept around so long. He’s 3-7 in his last 10, looks fat and sloppy and he’s not even entertaining to watch anymore. Barnett won’t go far either and he’s another fatty but he’s at least a bit of a character. He’s 21-7 and lost his UFC debut to Ben Rothwell. Nothing fight but hopefully there’s at least some comedic value.

 

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John Allan vs Dustin Jacoby. Might be worth a gander, just for Jacoby. Barely remember Allan. Sherdog tells me he’s 13-6-0-1 and nothing about his record stands out to me. Jacoby’s filling in for Aleksa Camur, who pulled out with an injury. You can usually rely on Jacoby for a good scrap though. Short notice or not he’ll be coming to knock Allan’s head off. Probably an improvement on the original fight for me, although it’s a shame it wasn’t Allan who dropped out because Jacoby vs Camur would’ve been a banger.

 

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Melsik Baghdasaryan vs Bruno Souza. This might actually be a bit of an under the radar sleeper. I forgot about Baghdasaryan but looking him up now has refreshed my memory. He made his debut in July and looked great as I recall. Stopped Collin Anglin and got a POTN bonus for his efforts.

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He’s 6-1 in MMA now and also went 11-2 in Kickboxing and 3-0 in Boxing. He’s still not even 30 yet either. Of course, we need to see him against better opposition but that’ll come in time. Especially at 145 in the UFC because it’s a shark tank and there’s very few ‘easy fights’. I liked what I saw though. Souza is stepping in on late notice replacing TJ Laramie. He’s 25 years old, 10-1 and a Machida protégé as far as I can tell. 

 

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CJ Vergara vs Ode Osbourne. Dunno. Never seen Vergara before but he was on DWCS apparently and scored a quick knockout on there from what I’m reading. Osbourne I’ve seen a few times but recall little of it other than him getting done in by Manel Kape in his last fight. Typical curtain jerk prelim fodder but I’ll probably give it a whirl.

 

Roll on November! 

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Edited by wandshogun09
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20 hours ago, wandshogun09 said:

know there’ll be people in here going ‘yeah but if Covington wins we get the rubber match, it’s good for the sport’ etc. I don’t care. I can’t root for a bellend like Covington just so we get a third fight. 

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Sorry @wandshogun09, but chalk me up as another one hoping for a Colby win.

It makes the division more interesting, Usman has practically cleared out the division and a Colby championship run would have some great fights/build up with the likes of Leon Edwards and Jorge Masvidal (I know he's lost 2 title fights but this is the UFC).

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Ah damn, that's annoying. I was looking forward to seeing Rockhold back in the octagon. The UFC cards lately have been dominated by a  lot of no namers/newbies that I was kind of excited to see a name back in the cage.

Hopefully Strickland stays on the card, he's the type of guy that will take any kind of replacement even if they aren't ranked.

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