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UFC 304: Edwards vs Muhammad 2 - Jul 27 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿


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What’s this? A UK card but not in London? Manchester is Rematch City. This’ll be a long read…

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PPV MAIN CARD
Leon Edwards©️vs Belal Muhammad - Welterweight Title 

Tom Aspinall©️vs Curtis Blaydes - Interim Heavyweight Title 

Bobby Green vs Paddy Pimblett

Christian Leroy Duncan vs Gregory Rodrigues 

Arnold Allen vs Giga Chikadze 

ESPN PRELIMS 
Muhammad Mokaev vs Manel Kape

Nathaniel Wood vs Daniel Pineda

Molly McCann vs Bruna Brasil

Caolan Loughran vs Jake Hadley  

ESPN+/FIGHT PASS PRELIMS
Mick Parkin vs Lukasz Brzeski

Oban Elliott vs Preston Parsons 

Sam Patterson vs Kiefer Crosbie 

Shauna Bannon vs Alice Ardelean 

Modestas Bukauskas vs Marcin Prachnio  
 

 

First off, yeah, poster’s rotten. What the hell actually is that exactly? Got to rank up there with the worst posters they’ve ever done for me. The double whammy of being yet another piss yellow effort plus the weird sideways, vertigo inducing design. I know the posters don’t really matter in the grand scheme of things but, Christ, what are they playing at? Anyway, moving on. I like this card a lot. Prelims are hit and miss but that main card is pretty sweet. Not 100% on the bout order yet but I’ll edit as and when. 

Oh and in case you missed the news, there’ll be no lovely UK friendly start time for this. Oh no. They’re doing this on US time so the yanks can watch at a convenient time. Never mind the ticket buying fans over here, and the fighters themselves, who will have to pull an all nighter at the arena. Won’t be surprised if they still try and take the liberty of putting this on Box Office. Greedy money grabbing wankers. I just checked on the UFC website and, for now at least, it’s listed as being on regular TNT Sports.

 

 

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Leon Edwards vs Belal Muhammad 2 tops the bill in Manchester. A rematch that’s been brewing since almost the second their first fight in 2021 ended. Now they meet again for much higher stakes. It’s obviously not as big a fight as Leon’s battles with Kamaru Usman and it doesn’t have the full on ‘wanting to see a dickhead get his comeuppance’ factor like the Colby Covington thing. But Belal’s earned his shot and I actually like this rematch. There’s definitely some bad blood there and I expect there’ll be some needle back and forth as fight week gets closer.

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So yeah, they fought back in March 2021, headlining an Apex card. It came at a time when both were still on the climb and it had got to the point with Edwards where it seemed like he was genuinely cursed and he’d never quite fulfil his potential. If you remember, this was just after that mad period for him when COVID hit and killed that planned London card where Leon was supposed to headline against Tyron Woodley. Then between late 2020 and early 2021, the UFC made 3 attempts at making Leon vs Khamzat Chimaev and they all fell apart on both sides due to positive COVID tests. He just couldn’t catch a break. The last time it got cancelled was this card in March 2021, and that’s where Belal stepped in to face Leon. At the time, it was all respectful vibes between the two. And Leon was just thankful to finally be getting to fight.

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I haven’t seen the fight since around the time it happened. I’ll do my usual rewatch and review in here closer to show time. If my recollection is accurate, I remember Leon absolutely schooling Belal in the striking for the whole first round. Maybe I’ve remembered it wrong but I recall thinking at the time that it was maybe the sharpest and most dangerous we’d ever seen Edwards look in his UFC career and it felt like a stoppage was inevitable. Then just seconds into the second round…

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Just horrific. As eyepokes go, and they all suck, that has to rank up there as one of the most gruesome we’ve ever seen. Belal went down screaming in agony and I think it was clear very quickly that the fight was done at that point. No way Belal was gonna be able to continue with his eye in that state. It was obviously accidental and it was such an unfortunate and anti-climactic way for the fight to end. But that was that. It went down officially as a No Contest, the only blemish on Leon’s record since 2015.

In the fallout and over the years since, things have got a bit ugly between them. I don’t remember much beef in the immediate aftermath of the fight. I think Leon felt bad for winning that way and of course for Belal it was a miserable experience all around. They’ve been chirping at each other for years now though. Taking shots at each other in interviews, digs on social media etc. Now it’s finally gonna be settled.

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As you know, Leon Edwards went on to much bigger things after that fight with Belal. I won’t go into the whole ‘headkick heard around the world’ thing again. We’ve talked about it to death at this point. But that title win over Usman in the summer of 2022 was absolutely epic. And one of the greatest knockouts in UFC history. Not only because of the story of how the fight was going, but also Leon Edwards was almost the last person you’d have expected a KO like that from. Then he won the rematch in London. That was big. Really solidified him as the true champion and not some one hit wonder who ‘got lucky’. Beating one of the greatest Welterweights of all time in back-to-back fights and going 2-1 in the trilogy was huge for him. Legacy making stuff. Then he capped off a successful 2023 with a clear points win over Colby Covington in December.

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Beautiful.

It’s been really cool seeing Leon reach the top and win and defend the gold. And not just because he’s from my city. He never took the easy route, never seemed to have the backing of the UFC PR machine, never one of the ‘chosen ones’. Let’s face it, he was supposed to be a run of the mill tick-over title defence for Usman on the way to a big Usman vs Chimaev title fight or something. While Usman and Covington were squabbling over the title and being hailed as the consensus #1 and #2 in the division at 170, Leon was quietly racking up wins and grafting in the gym like a maniac. Then he swoops in and takes the title from under both of them. The Covington win in particular was so satisfying. It wasn’t a great fight to watch but just seeing Leon shut down pretty much every single attempt Colby made to get something going was fantastic. After 3 failed title shots, that really felt like a case of Leon driving the final nail in Colby’s career as any kind of title contender. And pretty much all his fans abandoned ship after as well, which was as pathetic as it was funny to me. Really felt like Leon put an end to an abhorrent era with that win. Covington’s still been desperately trying to talk shit, but nobody seems to take him seriously anymore.

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It was a very Merry Christmas in the Edwards household.

I’ve seen some criticism levelled at Edwards in the months since that Covington win, for not being an active enough champion. Even seen some dopey calls to strip him of the belt. It’s OK for Jon Jones to sit out a whole year and keep the strap though? Fuck that noise. Plus it’s only been 6 months. And in that time, Edwards was trying to get a fight sooner than July. There was a fair bit of talk at one point that he was gonna be in one of the top fights at UFC 300 in April. Reports at the time were that Leon said yes to fights with Islam Makhachev, Khamzat Chimaev and Shavkat Rakhmonov for 300. I mean, fuck! Hardly the actions of someone ducking tough fights, is it? The talks for those fights fizzled on those guys sides, in fairness almost certainly because of the timing. They’re all Muslim so fighting in April was gonna be highly unlikely because of Ramadan. Leon says he asked for Belal at 300 but the UFC didn’t even entertain it. Which was obviously a little dig from Leon insinuating the UFC didn’t see Belal as 300 worthy. But I’m sure Ramadan was a big factor there as well. Although, I reckon if asked Belal would’ve still tried to make it work just because it was a title fight and who it was against.

Regardless, it’s on now. We got there in the end.

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Belal’s a bit of a Marmite character in MMA. He’s got his supporters but the majority opinion I see is more negative. Being fair, he’s not the most exciting fighter to watch, is he? Nothing against him and you’ve got to play to your strengths and do what works for you. But his fights are very rarely entertaining to watch. Credit where it’s due, he’s on a win streak, he’s beat some good fighters and he’s as deserving of the title shot as anyone at 170, if not more. The only other guy who has a strong case at the moment for me is Shavkat. But I’m not sure what’s going on there, I think he’s still recovering from a foot or ankle injury. No problem with Belal getting the shot here though. He’s 23-3-0-1 now and hasn’t lost in 5 years. Since that first fight with Edwards, he’s gone 5-0 with wins over Demian Maia, Wonderboy Thompson, Vicente Luque, Sean Brady and Gilbert Burns. Not too shabby at all. Although if you watched those fights, all of them bar the Brady one were dull as dishwater. I think he deserved a pass for the Maia and Wonderboy fights because those two are a bastard to look good against at the best of times. But the Luque and Burns ones were pretty much equally as rotten as well. It’s one of the main things that’s held Belal back. He’s almost like a modern day Jon Fitch in that sense. No fun to watch at all but he’s good enough that he’s probably gonna beat and derail a lot of the guys the UFC actually want in the title mix. He’s got himself in a position now where it’s difficult to deny him a crack at the title. And I suppose the fact it’s Leon with the belt helped his case. There’s unfinished business there and you know the UFC love themselves a rematch. Unlike pretty much all Belal’s fights previously, there’s at least a story to this one, something for them to work with.

Belal’s been talking a big game as well…

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It all comes across as forced and a bit laughable though. I love the fact that, even when he’s fantasy booking the fight in his head, he still can’t finish Leon and has to settle for a wide points win 🤣 Have some ambition Belal, for fuck’s sake! On a serious note, apparently Belal’s been training with Khabib and Makhachev for this fight, which sounds like a great move for him in all honesty. I feel like with his style, they’re the perfect fit for him to add to his grappling and take it to that next level from smothering to actually threatening. We’ll see and I don’t think we’ll really notice the benefits in this fight but it can only be a good thing for him, I reckon.

Leon seems dialled in for this one. And no doubt, the fight being on home soil is gonna motivate him even more…

“I need a finish. I feel like anything short of a finish is not good enough. All the shit this guy talked on social media, the fucking tweets, the t-shirts, he deserves it. He deserves an ass-whooping. He’s just talking. I’ll let him talk and let him make his little memes and his little tweets but everyone knows he ain’t on my level. That’s just the facts of it. He has improved, so have I. There’s levels to the game and I truly believe I’m levels above him. Come July, I’ll show that.”

“I’ve never lost a fight in the UK. I’ve never lost on home turf. I bring that confidence with me, I bring the confidence of being a champion with me, and he’s just too easy to hit. He can improve all he wants, he’s too easy to hit. His head is right there. He’s going to get hit and get hit a lot.”

“I feel like I get Belal out of the way - all the wrestling phase is kind of going. It was Usman, then it was Colby, then it was him (Belal). The rest is strikers, which is lovely. Get these wrestlers out the way and just crack on with my career. I feel like I have a lot more to do. I truly feel I haven’t done nothing yet and there’s so much more I want to accomplish and do in this sport. I’m focused and driven and I cannot wait to accomplish it.” - Leon Edwards

I like this more vocal and outspoken version of Leon. I don’t get the sense he’s overconfident. If anything, I think he might’ve lacked a bit of confidence before those Usman wins and this is where he should’ve been mentally the whole time. It’s never been a skill issue with Leon. I feel like he’s been underrated for much of his career and I think a lot of that is just because he’s not typically a dynamic finisher. He’s a technician and mostly a decision winner. But again, I think even some of that might’ve been down to him not fully believing in himself and being hesitant to come forward and really let loose at times. We’ve seen in a bunch of fights he has a tendency to back up and concede ground and I don’t think he needs to do that as much as he does. He showed against Usman he does have the tools in his locker to finish top level opposition. And while his two fights since then have gone the distance, I do think that Usman KO might’ve been a bit of a turning point and a lightbulb moment for him that he can stop these guys. And again, that first round of the first Belal fight showed he can be an imposing attacking striker when he wants to be, and it was working a treat! He just needs to close his damn fists and not extend the fingers and we’re good.

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Here we are then. How we seeing this play out? My initial thought is that Leon wins fairly comfortably. Either a clear decision or I could see a stoppage. But I think this could be a tough one. I certainly think Belal is gonna pose more of a challenge than Covington did. He’s gonna be motivated beyond belief. Not only is it his long awaited first shot at UFC gold, he feels like he was hard done by against Leon in 2021 so there’s that revenge element to it as well. It was an accidental eyepoke but he’s out for revenge. On top of that, Belal’s always in phenomenal shape. He’s a strong, solid, gruelling type of fighter. Nothing he does is pretty but it doesn’t have to be. He just has to win, by hook or crook. And despite how the first fight was looking before the poke, and it was looking bad for Belal, I can certainly see a scenario where he can just stifle Leon to a decision. It’ll be horrible to watch but it’s the most likely way he wins. Lots of clinching, takedowns and just riding out the clock. On the flipside, it does feel like there’s a bit of delusion on Belal’s side. He seems to have somehow convinced himself that he was doing well in the first fight and the eyepoke saved Leon. He’s also latched onto some flawed belief that Leon’s scared of him and has been avoiding the rematch. When really, he’s just been busy beating the two guys everyone considered the #1 and #2 over the last 5 years. Belal hasn’t fought in over a year now either. The win over Burns was last May. I don’t think that’s gonna be a major factor here and I’ve got no doubt Belal’s gonna be in top nick by late July. But it’s never ideal. He turns 36 just before this fight as well, so it’s not like he’s got tons of time left. This might well be his only shot. I genuinely think he’s got a better chance than many are probably gonna give him credit for but, if Leon’s on his game, I think he should win this. I don’t see it being a walk in the park but I think he’s got enough about his overall game to give Belal problems and if he can keep it on the feet I think he’s the way better striker. Looking forward to it more than I thought I’d be, to be honest.

 

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Tom Aspinall vs Curtis Blaydes 2 then. Like the main event, a rematch of a fight that ended weirdly, in a complete anti-climax, and one that you knew we’d have to see again at some point. Obviously, this shouldn’t have been the next fight for Aspinall. He should absolutely 100% be gearing up to face Jon Jones right now. He’s the interim champ, for fuck’s sake. Yet Jones is hell bent on fighting a 42 year old Stipe Miocic and then retiring. Now Aspinall has to defend the interim belt while that mess plays out. But we’ll get into that. As it stands, with Jones vs Aspinall not happening, this was the most logical fight to make.

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Tom Aspinall’s been a breath of fresh air in the Heavyweight division. In a post-Francis Ngannou landscape, he’s the best thing about Heavyweight by far. One of the only good things the division has going for it these days. He’s just turned 31 years old, so practically a baby by Heavyweight standards, and he’s 14-3 with all 14 wins coming by knockout or submission. 13 of those wins didn’t make it out of the first round. He doesn’t fuck about. He fought on the UK scene early on, notably in the BAMMA and Cage Warriors promotions. Then signed with the UFC in 2020. Since then he’s been on a tear. After a couple of quick wins over jobbers like Jake Collier and Alan Baudot, he was thrown in with his first big name opponent in Andrei Arlovski. I’ve seen Aspinall talk about that fight and how he’d been to see Arlovski fight way back at UFC 70 in 2007 and looked up to him. Didn’t stop him strangling big Andrei though. He’s gone from strength to strength since. The only setback?…

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They headlined a card at the O2 in London back in July 2022. I remember going in feeling like that was gonna be the biggest test of Aspinall’s career to date, I think I was actually fancying Blaydes to derail him but either way, I was very interested in that fight. Then just 15 bastard seconds into the first round, disaster struck….

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That went down in the record books as a TKO win for Blaydes, which always seems off. But it wasn’t Blaydes fault.

Aspinall suffered a torn MCL, torn meniscus and ACL damage. Looking at it again there, it doesn’t look like the kick itself did the damage, it seems to be when he steps back and tries to put weight on it. I’ve watched interviews with him and he said he’d had a nagging injury with that same knee from before he even got in the UFC but kept putting it off and fighting through it because he kept getting offered fights. Obviously he put it off for one fight too many and that was the result. Sounds messed up but it was probably a blessing in disguise in the long run because it forced him to address it and get the knee sorted. And because of the way it happened, so early in the fight, it just felt like one of those freak injuries and it really didn’t harm his stock. It would all depend on how he’d come back from the injury and layoff.

Unlike the Leon vs Belal thing, there was zero animosity between the two big lads after the fight.

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Love that. They’ve been nothing but respectful to each other since either. It was just one of those unfortunate things that happens from time to time in sports, especially combat sports. It’s a hazard of the game and it comes with the territory. From what I recall, Blaydes seemed almost as disappointed to win that way as Aspinall did to lose that way. Just a shite situation for all involved.

To say Aspinall came back in style would be an understatement though. He returned from the injury in July 2023, a year almost to the day after the injury, in the same O2 Arena in London. Back to the scene of the crime. Any concerns about him coming off the injury and the year on the shelf were quickly disregarded. He ran through Marcin Tybura in about a minute and looked like he hadn’t missed a beat.

Then in November came the biggest night of Aspinall’s career to date. An interim title fight against Sergei Pavlovich, at Madison Square Garden in New York. It was far from ideal circumstances though. The original main event of Jones vs Stipe fell apart just a few weeks before the show, so the UFC scrambled, created an interim belt and came up with Aspinall vs Pavlovich.

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1:09 was all Aspinall needed. It was tense and edge of the seat stuff while it lasted and Sergei did clip Tom in one of the first exchanges. Didn’t seem to hurt him significantly but definitely got his attention. Then Aspinall flattened him. It was a complete shootout. With both coming in on such short notice, there were no proper training camps for either, anything resembling a gameplan seemed to go out the window and they both just slung bombs at each other until one fell down. In the end, I think Aspinall’s speed was the difference. He was just quicker on the draw and was able to light Sergei up with a couple of nasty shots to the temple.

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Interim champ. But really, he’s got just as strong a claim to being the actual Heavyweight champion as Jon Jones does. Jones dickriders neglect that part. Jones won a vacant title in a favourable stylistic matchup against Ciryl Gane. He’s 1-0 at Heavyweight. That’s it. He never won the title from the champion Francis Ngannou. He waited for Ngannou to leave the UFC before finally returning. Not even knocking it. It was a smart move for him and it seems to have worked in fooling a good percentage of the fanbase that it somehow proved he’s the man at Heavyweight now. But his title is no more legitimate than Aspinall’s. And if Aspinall beats Blaydes here, I'd argue Aspinall’s title is more legit. At that point there’d be no argument against it for me.

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Sadly, this is never happening. Aspinall’s been calling him out left, right and centre for months on end. Jones doesn’t wanna know. It’s got to the point now where Aspinall seems to have given up on it and has been trying to move on but he’s still being asked about it incessantly in interviews so there’s a narrative being spun that he’s “begging”. Gotta love the backwards MMA fan logic there. The interim champ wants to fight the champ and unify the belts, and somehow he’s getting shat on for it while people cheer on the guy ducking the fight?

The defence from Jones fans has been pathetic. Pretending they actually badly wanna see Jones against a 42 year old, gimpy kneed Stipe in 2024 because that’s what Jones wants. Ignoring the fact it’s a blatant and shameless attempt to swerve Aspinall for an easier fight against an old legend. That’s what this is. Let’s call it like it is. And that’s no disrespect to Stipe or his legacy. I’ve said for years on here he’s probably the Heavyweight GOAT for me. It’s either him or Fedor. He was great. But he hasn’t fought in years now, his last fight was a bad KO loss, he’s 42, was struggling to walk the last time we saw him at an event and he released a video hitting the pads recently and he looked terrible.

I don’t think Jones would be getting half the pushback he’s getting if he said something like ‘I’m gonna fight Stipe, then I’m coming for the winner of Aspinall vs Blaydes’. But he’s not doing that. He’s gonna fight old Stipe and then get out of dodge. And meanwhile he’s constantly dismissing and downplaying Aspinall. Criticising him for not beating any champions in one breath, but not letting him have the opportunity in the next. He’s become an absolute joke. The other defence I keep seeing is ‘well he’s the GOAT, he should be allowed to cherry pick who he wants to fight’. No, not as champ when there’s an interim champ right there calling him out. How is this even a debate? Jones’ legacy is at 205. That’s where all his accomplishments and accolades are. And he was a great Light Heavyweight champ. He’s done next to nothing at Heavyweight though. Belt or not, he’s 1-0 and was gifted that title fight because the UFC just lost Ngannou and wanted people to quickly forget they’d fumbled. That’s it.

“Jon Jones, most people think he’s one of the best guys to ever do it. So obviously I want my chance to test myself against him. He, on the other hand, isn’t too keen on it. But I’m going to keep pushing for it until I either get that fight or he vacates the title and I get the full version of the title. When Jon signs on the dotted line to fight me, I’ll be focused on Jon. But right now, I’m fighting Curtis Blaydes and I couldn’t really give a shit about what anyone else says, to be honest with you.”

“Curtis is the toughest matchup in the division for me stylistically. This is no disrespect to Curtis - it’s a bit of a lose-lose fight in the fact that he’s not that popular. The guys that you want to fight are the guys who stylistically you match up well with, and they’re really popular. They’re the guys you want to fight. And Curtis is kind of the opposite of that.” - Tom Aspinall

Of course, Jones jumped all over this, tweeting “Oh, the irony” or some shite in response. As if Aspinall’s quote there validates Jones’ ducking. The difference is, Aspinall’s admitting Blaydes is a tough and risky fight for him, the point is he’s still taking the sodding fight despite that, isn’t he? He’s not avoiding the hardest fights. Unlike Jones.

Anyway…

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I feel like I’m disrespecting Blaydes here but that’s not my intention. The Jones ducking of Aspinall is such a big part of the story I couldn’t just gloss over it. Blaydes is legit though. He’s had his ups and downs but on a good night I feel like he’s got the tools to give anyone problems. And I mean anyone. He got stopped by Pavlovich after that knee injury fight with Aspinall but he bounced back in March with a TKO win over Jailton Almeida. He’s a handful. Big, strong as a bull, knockout power in his hands and the wrestling background to back it all up. I felt like he was a tricky test for Aspinall before their 2022 fight and nothing’s changed. The two main things we haven’t seen out of Aspinall yet are his conditioning over a longer fight and his wrestling being put to the test. On paper, Blaydes is the perfect guy to give us the answers to both of those questions.

Blaydes isn’t a fan of the silly start times either…

“I’m very surprised, it’s almost like a slight. Like, you don’t respect Leon and Tom enough to give them a normal title fight situation? I don’t think they’d do this to McGregor. There’s no way they’d do this to McGregor or Oliveira. There are certain guys they wouldn’t do this to. I think it’s just a little bit disrespectful. I know they don’t give a damn about me, I’m talking about Aspinall and Leon. You would think they would have earned enough respect to get a normal fight week. Apparently not. The plan is to be vampires that week.” - Curtis Blaydes

Well said. I like Blaydes. He’s grown on me over the years and it was cool to see him get that win over Jailton last time out. I was happy to see him get this fight when it was announced. Not half as happy as a certain Mr Jones though.

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He’s fucking praying Blaydes wins so he can pathetically claim the win as his own. The Kool-Aid comment is hilarious as well. Aspinall’s been more than respectful in his callouts. Yet him having the cheek, as interim champ, to want to get a shot at the belt is “drinking his own Kool-Aid” now?

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Very interesting fight. Hard to even call it a rematch because they never really fought the first time. It was over so quick and nothing of note happened before Aspinall’s knee imploded seconds in. The questions we had going in about how their styles would match up are the same questions we have now. We got no answers. So this is really a completely fresh matchup. And I'm really not sure how it plays out. For all my talk of Blaydes possibly being the one to put Aspinall’s wrestling/cardio to the test, I could just as easily see Aspinall walloping him in a round. For one, it’s Heavyweight MMA and the margins for error with big hitters like this are so narrow. Then you factor in how good of a finisher Aspinall is and how Blaydes has been stopped a few times in the past. It wouldn’t come as a massive shock if Aspinall gets to him early. I like both but I’m fully rooting for Aspinall here. I would like to see it go longer though. And I never usually wanna see long Heavyweight fights. In an ideal world, Blaydes has some success with the wrestling and lands some heavy punches, but Aspinall ultimately deals with it and comes through with the knockout in the 4th or 5th round. Answering some questions but showing just enough vulnerability for Jones to fancy it and we get that fight on. I doubt we ever see it though.

 

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Bobby Green vs Paddy Pimblett is ***WAND’S ONE TO WATCH*** for Manchester. It’s been the slowest crawl, a sloth’s pace, but Paddy’s finally starting to fight live opposition! Let’s see how this goes. Green’s 37 now and only one fight removed from that absolutely brutal late stoppage knockout loss to Jalin Turner but he’s still the toughest fight they’ve put Paddy in so far in the UFC. For all my criticism of Paddy, he’s rarely involved in boring fights and I can’t see a dust up with Bobby Green being the start of that. Paddy fights so goofy and his defence is so sloppy that it always feels like just a matter of time until he gets clipped and knocked out. It hasn’t happened yet and they’ve done a fine job babying him to this point, but it makes his fights fun to watch because you know that day is coming. And he’s such a knobhead, it’s hard not to get invested and root against him. 

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Green bounced back from the Jalin Turner loss and got back in the win column at UFC 300, beating Jim Miller by decision in an absolute dogfight. It was a really entertaining, bloody scrap that on almost any other card would’ve got more love. It understandably got overshadowed on that card though. Bobby called out Pimblett immediately after the fight. He said Paddy mentioned his name first and that’s what set it off.

“Paddy, how dare you? You slimy, sugary little snake. How dare you say my name? I’m coming up to you, July, I’ll come to your backyard, with your people, and kick your ass. He shouldn’t have said my name, he should’ve kept it to those other guys. This guy right here will find you. And when I line it up, and I get the sights right, you’re gonna pay dearly.”

“Paddy don’t run shit. The show’s gonna run how they want it to run. He’s talking like a spoiled brat. Anybody that says my name, I put them on my list. Paddy just said my name and so that’s what’s personal for me. I just wanna get you because you thought you could say my name. I’m gonna show you this is a bad idea.” - Bobby Green

I’m not sure where all this ‘he said my name’ stuff is coming from or why it’s bothered Bobby so much. Unless I missed it, it was him who called Paddy out first. But whatever. He’s got the fight he wanted and it should be a lot of fun. He’s gonna be the villain in this one, even though he’ll be the babyface in my eyes. You know the crowd is gonna be all in on supporting Paddy.

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A lot’s happened in Paddy’s life since he last fought. As you can see there, he recently gave birth to twin girls! Yeah, in all seriousness, as much as I can’t stand the prick, hopefully this will force him to grow up a bit and maybe be a bit less detestable. At the very least you’d think he’ll start taking his career more seriously now and stop being such a fucking glutton and bloating up to comedic levels between fights. Doubt he will though. The gannet’s probably stuffing his face with Haribos, crisps, cake and all manner of filth between training sessions as I type this 7 or so weeks out from the fight. Lad.

He’s not a big fan of Bobby Green it seems…

“Everyone talks about me, so it’s all the same. But he’s just a proper tool, lad. I think he’s a proper shit human being. He’s just a proper wanker. If he’s saying that I mentioned him first, he’s just lying. Why would I mention you? Why would I mention Bobby Green, lad?”

“He looks like a rapper but he can box. Comes out with loads of fake jewellery on like a proper 90s rapper. He’s out with fake jeans on and fucking seven rings and just like - what are you doing? What are you up to? You mad cat. I never mentioned you first. Let’s just get that straight. Bobby, you mentioned me, you wanted clout off me, you little nit.”

“He’s got very good striking. He’s got good hands. But his chin is gone after what happened with Jalin Turner. Jim Miller is no knockout artist and he wobbled him once or twice in that fight at UFC 300. I think that’s off Jalin Turner absolutely obliterating Bobby Green’s skull into the canvas. So as I said, his striking is good, his takedown defence is good. And that’s what he’s gonna try and do, use his takedown defence and keep it on the feet, because he thinks he’ll outstrike me. But as I said, his chin’s gone. So strike with me, you’ll see what happens.”

“I can see me knocking him out. I can see me submitting him. I’m sure someone said he’d never been submitted, so that would be nice, to be fair. The first person to submit Bobby Green.” - Paddy Pimblett

OK, first off, Bobby Green has been submitted. A couple of times. You have to go way back to 2009 for the last example but it’s been done before. Second, this bickering over who mentioned whose name first is really weak patter. I hope they find another angle to go with the trash talk because, with the clash of personalities, there’s an amusing and entertaining build up to be had with these two. This ‘but he started it’ shite isn’t it.

Not sure how this goes. I think Paddy actually has a point about Green’s chin though. I don’t think it’s “gone” necessarily but that Turner KO was scary and Miller did tag him and shake him up a bit last time out. At 37 years old and after so many fights, it wouldn’t be a shock if his durability is starting to fade now. This’ll be his 50th pro fight. But then again, Paddy seemingly pinning his hopes on that doesn’t sound good either and makes me think he’s only accepted this fight now because he believes Bobby’s punch resistance is shot. We just saw him beat a completely washed up Tony Ferguson, so he’s not above being shameless and jumping on an opportunity like that. I still think Bobby should win though. This is about the level now where I could still potentially see Paddy getting a win, but there’s actually real risk there with a fight like this. I didn’t feel like there was that same risk going into his previous fights in the UFC. And even then, they still had to rob Jared Gordon. The fact he couldn’t finish the corpse of Ferguson wasn’t a good look either. The UFC clearly desperately want him to be a contender and they’ve done a good job of somehow dragging him to 5-0 in the Octagon. But the fact he’s only just fighting a guy like Bobby Green tells you all you need to know about the lack of confidence the matchmakers have in him. Compare the speed of his progress to someone like Ilia Topuria or even Jack Della Maddalena. If the powers that be truly rated Paddy, he’d have been stepped up a long time ago. The thing is, if he beats a guy like Green, it’s gonna be hard to protect him any longer. He’s gonna have to keep fighting ranked opposition and, sooner rather than later, it’s all gonna unravel. Beautiful. Hope Bobby sparks him.

 

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Christian Leroy Duncan vs Gregory Rodrigues is a late change. Was originally gonna be CLD against Poland’s Robert Bryczek but Bryczek dropped out a few weeks out. In steps ‘Robocop’ and it’s an improvement for me. The Bryczek fight was decent enough but adding everyone’s favourite Barack Obama lookalike to any card is an instant boost for me. Only thing I don’t like about this matchup is that someone has to lose. CLD really seems to have found his feet now in the UFC. He didn’t have the best start - won his debut on an injury then suffered his first loss against Armen Petrosyan. He’s looked good in his last two fights though. He stopped Denis Tiuliulin in November and Claudio Ribeiro in March. Not convinced he’s gonna go all the way but he’s looking good lately and he’s enjoyable to watch. Rodrigues has had a few setbacks but he’s been consistently exciting to watch ever since he set foot in the Octagon in 2021. He’s 15-5, has won 4 of his last 5 fights and is coming off a TKO win over Brad Tavares in February. You’d think he’ll go the grappling route in this one because he’ll have the advantage there but he loves a scrap as well so fuck knows how this goes. Really like the matchup though. One of the rare times I’m bigging up a Middleweight fight.

 

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Arnold Allen vs Giga Chikadze is a good piece of matchmaking. I like it. Could’ve easily seen this headlining a Fight Night on its own. They’re both in a bit of a rebuilding phase at the moment so they should be looking to make a big statement here. Allen’s coming off back-to-back decision losses to Max Holloway and Movsar Evloev. Both really good fights though and the fact he went 5 rounds with Max, even in defeat, would’ve only boosted his confidence and been a valuable experience builder. The Evloev fight was very competitive as well. At just 30, it feels like he can still get back on track. Losing to one of the greatest Featherweights of all time and an undefeated rising contender doesn’t mean he’s on the scrapheap. But unfortunately for him, I don’t think he goes much higher anyway. He’s a good fighter but I can’t see him ever getting to the point he can get over that last hurdle against the very elite at 145. I think he should win this one though. Chikadze’s decent. Good striker, former Kickboxer, fought in GLORY and was on an alright 9 fight win streak before Calvin Kattar battered him in early 2022. That was a rough beating and he never returned for over 18 months after. He finally came back on the Singapore card last August and beat Alex Caceres on points. Wasn’t a hugely impressive win but, given the hammering he took from Kattar and the subsequent layoff, he just needed a win. They’re throwing him right back in the deep end here though. He turns 36 this summer. He was talking a big game a few years back about what he was gonna do and who he wanted to fight. He better get a move on with that. Yeah, Allen should be winning this.

 

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Muhammad Mokaev vs Manel Kape is happening. Maybe. Wouldn’t hold your breath on Kape actually showing up like. Bit of an odd one actually because Mokaev was very vocal about his disappointment when Steve Erceg got the title shot against Pantoja in May. He thought it should’ve been him getting the shot and he did have a decent case for it. I think they always wanted him on the Manchester card but I didn’t really expect him to be matched up with Kape. I don’t hate the fight but, again, relying on Kape to make it to fight night is always optimistic. Plus Mokaev had been calling for a fight with Brandon Royval which I liked the sound of more. Hopefully Kape turns up this time. He’s got to be one of the most frustrating fighters on the entire roster. Talks all kinds of shit about everyone else but, when it comes time to get in there and back his talk up, he calls in sick a lot of the time. Good fighter when he shows up and could actually provide a decent test for Mokaev, it’s just getting him in the cage that’s the biggest challenge. Mokaev’s coming off that boring arse decision over Alex Perez at the Apex in March. That fight being so dull was probably the main reason the UFC went with Erceg for the title shot over Mokaev. Hopefully this’ll be a better fight than that was. Well, hopefully it happens at all.

 

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Nathaniel Wood vs Daniel Pineda. Another good fight. I think Wood’s looked a lot better since moving up to Featherweight a few fights ago. He was quite vocal at the time about struggling with the cut to 135 and it was refreshing to see a fighter realise that any gains you get by cutting a lot of weight are often undercut by depleting yourself to stupid levels to where you can’t fully recover by fight night. He went 3-0 after moving up but he dropped a decision to Muhammad Naimov in his last fight in October. I’m glad he’s sticking with 145 though and not hastily moving back down. And in fairness, Naimov’s repeated groin strikes, glove grabbing and fence grabbing really affected the flow of the fight in my opinion. It was a messy fight and I felt like Naimov should’ve at least had a point deducted, but nothing. Shitty way for Wood to lose but hopefully he can get back on track here. Pineda’s a tough, scrappy guy but he’s nothing special and he turns 39 just days after this fight. He’s long in the tooth for a Featherweight, he’s been inactive about 14 months and he’s coming off a loss. Wood really should be winning fights like this at this stage so I’m hoping he can really put on an impressive performance.

 

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Molly McCann vs Bruna Brasil is whatever. You know what this is. Like Paddy, the UFC badly wish Molly was better than she is. I feel like I’m overly harsh on her at times but some of that is because I think her and Paddy often get lumped together and overrated as a pair. People get caught up in the crowd reactions they get on UK shows and get carried away and start talking crazy about them selling out Anfield and all sorts. People forget, she’s not that good. She’s 14-6 now and coming off an armbar submission win over Diana Belbita in February. In fairness, it might’ve been the best Molly’s looked in her UFC career but you also have to look at the opposition. Belbita had 8 losses coming into the fight and 4 of them were by submission. 3 by armbar. So she’s weak in the grappling and has been particularly susceptible to the armbar her whole career. Fair play, Molly was smart to exploit it. But it’s not that impressive a win. Similar with her couple of spinning elbow stoppages. Yeah, they looked cool and all credit to her for pulling those finishes out. But they came against absolute no hopers Luana Carolina and Hannah Goldy. Level of opposition has to be taken into account, surely? This feels like another case of the matchmakers trying to do ‘Meatball’ a favour. Bruna Brasil isn’t much good. She’s 9-4-1, has gone 1-2 so far in the UFC and comes into this fight off a decision loss to Loma Lookboonmee. Her UFC win was over Shauna Bannon on the London card last year and it was awful. One of those fights where both looked shite and one fighter only won because the other one looked even worse.

 

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Caolan Loughran vs Jake Hadley is a late switch. Was originally Loughran against Ramon Taveras but that’s off and Hadley’s stepping in on just one week’s notice. Very solid save in fairness. Don’t find either particularly likeable but it’s a good fight, a nice little Ireland vs England clash and both are former Cage Warriors champions. Loughran’s 28 years old and 9-1 with 7 finishes. He didn’t get off to the best of starts in the UFC, losing on points to Taylor Lapilus on the Paris card last September. He seemed more bothered about winding up the French crowd than anything else and the fight was pretty lacklustre as I recall. He came back on the Atlantic City card in March and beat Angel Pacheco in a much better showing. He actually called out Raul Rosas Jr after that win, I wouldn’t have minded seeing that. But they’ve gone a different route for both. Brummie Hadley is 27 and has a 10-3 record with 8 inside the distance. He’s coming off back-to-back decision losses to Cody Durden and Charles Johnson. Both were fantastic fights but he came out on the losing end. So he’s taking a bit of a gamble here. Not only the late notice but he’s 0-2 in his last couple of fights and he’s coming up from Flyweight to Bantamweight for this because of the short notice. I suppose a loss here has its built-in excuses in that way though and if he wins, he’s back in business. Should be a fun fight regardless.

 

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Mick Parkin vs Lukasz Brzeski. Oh boy. This is gonna be total dogshit, isn’t it? A good chunk (pun intended) of Heavyweight fights are but this one in particular just fills me with dread. No way I’m sitting through this. Parkin’s from London, 28 years old and undefeated at 9-0 with 6 finishes. All sounds good unless you’ve actually watched his fights. Rotten stuff. He’s gone 3-0 in the UFC so far with wins over Jamal Pogues, Caio Machado and Mohammed Usman. And all 3 of them were among THE worst fights I think I’ve seen in recent memory. I want to like him. A UK fighter, unbeaten and a young Heavyweight. But I’ve tried and he’s just another plodding blob. If he was the real deal, he’d have looked a lot better against those 3 jobbers than he did. Imagine what Tom Aspinall would’ve done to those guys on the way up? They’d have been total showcases. Parkin looking so pedestrian against that level doesn’t bode well for his future. And Brzeski? He’s 9-4-1-1 and has lost 3 of his last 4 fights. Like Parkin, I don’t recall enjoying any of it. And his last fight, he finally won, snapped a 3 fight losing streak and beat Valter Walker. In a fight that I’d have on the shortlist for ‘Worst Fight Of 2024’ so far. It was fucking abysmal. Save yourself the bother, for your own sanity, don’t waste 15 minutes on this bollocks. If you’re watching live, do something else for a bit. If you’re watching on Sunday, skim through. Life’s too short.

 

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Oban Elliott vs Preston Parsons should be worth tuning in early for. Elliott’s Welsh, 26 years old and has a record of 10-2. He’s a name I knew I’d heard a bunch but couldn’t remember if I’d actually seen him fight. He fought in Cage Warriors his whole career before appearing on DWCS last summer. He finally made his Octagon debut on the Volk vs Topuria undercard in February and beat Val Woodburn on points. From what I remember, he got tagged a few times but won quite convincingly in the end.

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Really enjoyed his post-fight interview as well. Clearly a big pro wrestling fan as he lifted most of his interview directly from Ric Flair’s post-Rumble 92 win promo. “With a tear in my eye…”. I’m a bit hazy on Parsons despite him fighting multiple times in the UFC already. He’s 28 years old and has an 11-4 record. He’s had a very up and down, inconsistent run of results but he’s coming into this fight off a decision win over Matthew Semelsberger in January.

 

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Sam Patterson vs Kiefer Crosbie isn’t setting my world alight but it might be alright. Patterson’s 28 with an 11-2-1 record and 10 finishes. He had a disastrous UFC debut back in March 2023. He got blitzed in just over a minute by Yanal Ashmouz in front of a home crowd in London. Just the worst way to kick off his UFC career. He took the rest of the year off and returned in January, up a division at 170, and got a quick submission win over Yohan Lainesse. Even then though, he still looked shaky in the striking exchanges. Seems very much like a one trick pony, his grappling is his strength but it feels like a matter of time until he gets chinned again. Crosbie’s a teammate of Conor McGregor at SBG in Dublin. He’s 34 years old and 10-4 with 7 finishes. He made his UFC debut in September and got subbed in a round by Kevin Jousset. Don’t think I saw that fight but, just looking at his record, his last 2 losses were by submission and Patterson’s a submission guy. I wonder how this is gonna play out? I wonder.

 

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Shauna Bannon vs Alice Ardelean is a nothing fight that’s been thrown together just 2 weeks out from the show because Bannon’s original opponent Ravena Oliveira dropped out. Dublin’s Bannon is 30 years old with a 5-1 record and apparently won titles at Flyweight and Strawweight in a promotion called Cage Legacy. The skill level in that org must be in the toilet because I gave Bannon’s UFC debut a chance last July and thought she was fucking awful, to be honest. Maybe there was an element of Octagon debut nerves, so we’ll see how she does this time. But the old saying is ‘you only get one chance to make a first impression’ and Bannon looked terrible and lost a decision against Bruna Brasil. She’s in with Alice Ardelean here, who makes her UFC debut on short notice…

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Yep. From bits I’m reading she’s Romanian but based in my neck of the woods, sunny Birmingham. Her record differs depending on where you read but Sherdog has her listed at 8-5 with 7 finishes. She has won her last 5 fights and finished 4 of them but who knows how good the competition was? I did notice that her last loss was against some woman named Zhang Weili in 2016? Wonder where she is these days? Yeah, Ardelean sounds like just another Ailin Perez type to me, all arse shaking and not much else. Expectations aren’t high but I’ve gotta root for the ‘Bum from Brum’. 

 

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Modestas Bukauskas vs Marcin Prachnio. Not arsed in the slightest. Just no interest in either of them. Especially Prachnio. Found him dull as fuck pretty much every time I’ve seen him and I’m still recovering from his rancid snoozer against William Knight last year. He’s somehow got a 2021 win over Khalil Rountree, which I have no recollection of. But that was back when Rountree was half checked out of MMA and all over the shop results-wise. He beat Devin Clark in February in a fight I’m pretty sure I skipped. Bukauskas isn’t so bad but he’s not great either. He’s 15-6 and a former Cage Warriors champ. He got ironed out by Vitor Petrino in his last fight in November.

 

 

Good stuff. It’s a piss take that they’re doing this on a US time zone. I get why from the boring business perspective but it’s utter shite for fans over here who are already gonna get rinsed on ticket prices, hotels and travel. Then on top of that, they’re not gonna get out of the arena until 6am Sunday morning? Have to think there’s gonna be vast amounts of alcohol and coke consumed in the arena that night. Can see there being trouble in the crowd as well. Especially because there’s a realistic chance of Belal and Blaydes beating our boys in the dullest fashion possible. Think my days of attending shows are officially over. I’m happy to just watch at home.

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👊🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿

Edited by wandshogun09
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This isn't because I'm biased but I'm looking forward to this card so so so much more than I am for 303 which is criminal it being the return of Conor McGregor and that ppv should be absolutely mammoth but it clearly isn't no matter how you look at it and try to argue and defend it's a dreadful card all in all 

But this show is unbelievably stacked absolute win for us in the UK 

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Robocop heading over here?

This can only mean the Christian Leroy Duncan vs Robert Bryczek fight is off and he’s filling in. It’s the only Middleweight fight on the card. Either would be a fine replacement fight but I hope it’s Robocop vs CLD. I like the sound of that pairing.

Rodrigues had originally been scheduled to fight on the Fight Night in Denver on July 13th so he’ll have been in camp anyway. 

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Posted (edited)

A twist I never saw coming…

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Goes without saying I can’t stand the twat but this might actually be a smart tactic. If nothing else it might get the UFC to make him a better offer than they otherwise would’ve. Obviously if they think he’s got other options, they’re more likely to sweeten their next offer to him. Thing is, who are these YouTubers that are gonna “offer him millions” exactly? I don’t follow the YouTube/influencer Boxing shite, who’s in Paddy’s weight range that would generate big coin? Not saying there isn’t anyone, like I said, I don’t follow it so I don’t know who’s who, what weight they’re at or what kind of eyeballs and money they bring in. Is there an obvious opponent for Paddy to cash in against? Clearly, Jake Paul’s way too big. Although, with how porky Paddy gets between fights I’m sure he could weigh in heavy enough. Wouldn’t be a good idea though 🤣

Kind of makes more sense now why the UFC matchmakers have seemingly decided to stop protecting him all of a sudden. If they think he might actually go and test free agency after this fight, they’d definitely prefer him to take a L on the way out to lower his stock a bit. I think he’ll end up staying myself and this is all just a tactic to drive his price up before his next contract negotiation. But you never know. If he beats Bobby Green here, it’s all tough fights from there and I don’t think Paddy particularly wants that. I wouldn’t be surprised if he wants to just dip out after this fight before he gets thrown in with the killers in the Top 10, and just go and chase some silly influencer fight. 

This fight with Green was interesting anyway but this adds an extra layer for me. At this stage in Green’s career, I definitely think it’s a winnable one for Paddy but it’s a much more dangerous fight for him and Green’s certainly a more live opponent than anyone Paddy’s faced in the UFC yet. 

Edited by wandshogun09
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Posted (edited)

The whole influencer thing is hard to guage because we are outside of that whole bubble. I know the top people who have come through Misfits and a few others but that's about it. There are influencer boxing scenes all over though, an event in Spain drew 70,000 fans and did 3.5 million viewers the other day and i didn't recognise a single name on the fightcard (Will Smith sung a few songs though). It's a mental old world out there and there's money being thrown around.

I'd be interested to know what Darren Till got paid to box on that influencer card the other week.

Edited by Egg Shen
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If paddy gets a big exciting finish then the ufc will throw a bigger and better deal for him to resign they won't want to lose him if they can help it he's a big name and someone they can push and have already given some time and backing already.

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The UFC doesn't like being held of task like that though. If Paddy wants to play hardball the UFC will probably lowball him and let him walk.

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Loughran’s fighting Jake Hadley now, which is a pretty good replacement on just a week’s notice.

I did see Hadley was piping up and having a dig at Joshua Van the other day, after Van’s loss to Charles Johnson in Denver last week. I was hoping we might get Van vs Hadley next because it would be a fun fight but also a very winnable rebound fight for Van. This’ll do though. 

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Yeah I think it was only because he just fought in May that he wasn’t on this card originally.

They’ve done a little shuffle of the card for some reason. CLD vs Robocop has been moved to the main card and Mokaev vs Kape has been demoted to the prelims. Not sure what that’s about. 

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My initial thought when I saw the new main card lineup was that Mokaev vs Kape must be off. And given Kape’s track record for not showing up to fights, it would hardly have been a surprise. But that’s how Marcel Dorff’s got it currently. Mokaev vs Kape headlining the prelims. 

Edited by wandshogun09
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