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UFC Abu Dhabi: Sandhagen vs Nurmagomedov - Aug 3 🇦🇪


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Posted (edited)

Back in Abu Dhabi and this is both one of the strongest Fight Nights ever and one of the most depressing. Don’t be scared homie.

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ABC MAIN CARD
Cory Sandhagen vs Umar Nurmagomedov 

Vicente Luque vs Nick Diaz 

Marlon Vera vs Deiveson Figueiredo 

Mackenzie Dern vs Loopy Godinez 

Tony Ferguson vs Michael Chiesa 

FIGHT PASS PRELIMS
Joel Alvarez vs Elves Brener

Alonzo Menifield vs Azamat Murzakanov  

Javid Basharat vs Chris Gutierrez 

Shamil Gaziev vs Don’Tale Mayes

Jai Herbert vs Rolando Bedoya

Abdul-Kareem Al-Selwady vs Guram Kutateladze 

Mohammad Yahya vs Kaue Fernandes

Azat Maksum vs CJ Vergara 

Sedriques Dumas vs Denis Tiuliulin 

Viktoriia Dudakova vs Sam Hughes 


 

Yep. A right mixed bag. On the one hand you’ve got two of my favourite fight bookings of the year in the two big Bantamweight fights on the main card. On the other hand…the ghoulish Diaz and Ferguson fights slapped on there. A card of two halves. It’s definitely pretty stacked by Fight Night standards though, isn’t it? Both in fight quality and name value. All of those main card fights are ones you’d have expected them to whack on a PPV so getting them on a Fight Night here is cool. 

And oh yeah, an added bonus for us is that we get the lovely UK friendly start time. According to the UFC website, it’s an 8pm main card kickoff, so probably 5pm for the prelims. Get in!

 

 

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Cory Sandhagen vs Umar Nurmagomedov headlines this bad boy and I’m all about it. This fight was actually supposed to main event a Fight Night card in Nashville last August but a shoulder injury took Umar out. I was gutted at the time because it was the step up fight we’d all been waiting to see Umar in, his toughest test yet, his first main event, first 5 rounder and so on. Sandhagen ended up facing Rob Font that night and won on points but, as it turned out, he suffered his own injury in the fight and has been out ever since. At this point I guess it made sense to just pick up where they left off and rebook the fight. I’m glad they did. Fair play to Sandhagen though. He’s ranked #2 at Bantamweight currently, Umar’s ranked #10. So it’s not like a win here does anything for Sandhagen rankings-wise. But it’d be another win, against an undefeated guy on the rise and a win over a Nurmagomedov, which can’t hurt.

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So yeah, last time we saw Sandhagen he beat Font by decision. It was a surprisingly dull fight but Sandhagen did pick up an injury (torn tricep) in the first round of that fight and still made the best of a bad situation and dominated the rest of the fight one-armed. Now after a year out, he’s taking a bit of a risk here. I don’t think he’s getting enough credit for it really. It’s not like there’s a long line of 135ers calling out Umar anyway. So for the #2 ranked guy to accept a fight like this, especially after a layoff, it’s ballsy. There’s been too many times we’ve seen fighters reach a certain level in the rankings and then they just wanna protect the number next to their name and only wanna fight the champ or really big names. Sandhagen could’ve pushed for a rematch with Petr Yan (ranked #4) or even sat back and waited for whoever the champion is after the inevitable O’Malley vs Merab fight. But I guess, having already lost a year, he just doesn’t wanna sit out any more. And when you consider we don’t even have a date for O’Malley vs Merab yet, it probably wouldn’t have been a good idea to try and wait. Still, gotta give Cory his due. He’s not sitting on his ranking, he’s defending it. And against a #10 who hasn’t tasted defeat yet. It might feel like one of those ‘high risk, low reward’ matchups but, much like Poirier vs Saint Denis, if he wins this fight I think he’ll probably be next in line for the title shot.

“The Dagestanis kind of have this aura of being these superhuman people. And that’s not true. They are just doing things that people haven’t picked up on yet. I have a really good and smart team of coaches to help me navigate that.”

I think as long as I work my ass off, I could definitely get a finish in this one. I want this fight to be one that, like, drops peoples jaws. I want people to be like, ‘Wow, Cory is that good? I didn’t know Cory could grapple like that. I didn’t know that he could fundamentally break someone down in striking the way that he did.’ I mean, people have seen that from me before, but they haven’t seen my high high-level grappling. So I’m really excited to show that. I also think that the additions I’ve made since the elbow’s been hurt, are going to play a big factor in this. I definitely added some heat onto a lot of the things that I’m doing.” - Cory Sandhagen

He definitely sounds well up for it, despite the gap between them in the rankings. Sandhagen’s a really interesting guy to listen to. Which is a rare thing from fighters these days. He’s actually intelligent and listening to how he views his career and MMA in general, as well as breaking down his own style and how it matches with opponents, he’s not like a lot of the meatheaded, ‘controversy for clicks’ twats who get all the media attention these days. I’ve found myself moving away from watching fighter interviews altogether in recent years but Sandhagen’s one of a few who I’ll still listen to.

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Umar Nurmagomedov is a bit of an enigma. He’s 28 years old and undefeated at 17-0 but it feels like we still know so little about him. We haven’t seen him put in any real danger, haven’t seen him in many bad positions, haven’t seen him go into a 4th or 5th round. His progress has been quite slow and a lot of that’s been because of injuries, layoffs and inactivity. This step up feels long overdue at this point. Hopefully he can stay more active now and start building some momentum because, from what we have seen, he looks the real deal. We last saw him in March, beating UFC newcomer Bekzat Almakhan by decision. He pretty much dominated from my memory of it but, even that, facing a debuting fighter on short notice wasn’t ideal. That aside his UFC career has consisted of wins over Sergey Morozov, Brian Kelleher, Nate Maness and Raoni Barcelos. Decent wins but it feels like he should’ve been much further along in his career by now. Again though, the lack of consistent activity is what’s stalled his progress. This Sandhagen fight is exactly what he needs to break through into that upper echelon at 135 though.

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Might seem like a lofty prediction at first glance, and it certainly was very optimistic when he originally tweeted that back in 2021. But right now in 2024, Umar’s on track to achieving it. He’s got a hell of a test in front of him here and I’m not sure if he’s up to it or not. But this is the moment of truth for him. If he beats a fighter the calibre of Sandhagen, he’s right in the thick of the title shot conversation. Seriously, say he beats Sandhagen, the #2 ranked guy in the Bantamweight division, it wouldn’t be crazy to see him thrown right into a title fight. Especially if he puts in a strong performance and wins impressively. The fact he’s undefeated wouldn’t hurt in the promotion either.

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Very interesting fight. Whatever happens here, at the very least it feels like we should finally know a lot more about Umar when this fight is all done and dusted. Looking at the top of the division, assuming it’s O’Malley vs Merab next because it has to be. After that, the more I think about it the more I think this is definitely gonna end up being a title eliminator. The other top ranked 135ers - Yan’s got more work to do, Chito’s just lost to the champ, Cejudo just lost to Merab, Figgy’s still new in the division. It pretty much has to be the winner of this fight challenging the winner of O’Malley vs Merab. The one darkhorsey, wildcardy, x-factor could be Jose Aldo but I’m not sure he’s sticking around and he’d probably need at least another big win anyway. Yeah, I think the title shot is up for grabs here. So a fascinating fight in its own right, but also likely has high stakes as well. Buzzing for this one. Hopefully they both make it to the fight.

 

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Vicente Luque vs Nick Diaz. Co-main event, 5 rounds. In 2024. Oh boy. Just all bad vibes around this one for me. The fact it’s been booked full-stop is bad enough, but 5 rounds? Apparently, the Abu Dhabi money men specifically wanted Diaz on this card so that’ll be a big part of it. It definitely has the feel of those mad Saudi cards in WWE where they were asking for guys like Yokozuna who’d been dead years at that point. It’s like some MMA video game where you can play as names from the past against the current roster. Except this is real life and the ship sailed on Diaz making a serious comeback about a decade ago. Bizarre stuff. The contrast between the main event, a legitimate high level number one contender fight…and this! It’s madness.

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Luque probably shouldn’t be in there either, to be honest. Neither of them should be. For anyone that hasn’t been following, Luque suffered a brain haemorrhage after his knockout loss to Geoff Neal in August 2022. Yes, a brain haemorrhage. I’ve always thought a bleed on the brain like that is an instant career ender in combat sports. Apparently not. Since he’s came back he’s gone 1-1. A decision win over an ageing and fading Rafael Dos Anjos, and then a stoppage loss against Joaquin Buckley in March this year. Can’t remember much about the RDA fight but Luque winning that was probably more to do with where RDA is in his career than anything. The Buckley loss was rough though. Had a really uneasy feeling watching it. The man’s been through some wars and was always game for a scrap but he just looked done at the end of that fight to me. Fans, media and even the commentators talking like he “quit” and saying he didn’t look himself didn’t sit right with me either. It was like they were all just pretending they didn’t know about the brain injury. Of course he didn’t look right. He’s never gonna be ‘right’ again. He’ll probably win this one though…

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What are we doing here? Bear in mind, Dana was saying before the last Diaz comeback that he should stay retired. Then he threw him in there anyway, he looked bad, got beat up and I think everyone assumed he was fully done at that point. Yet here we are again. Money talks. Yeah, Diaz was a great fighter in his day and I was as much a fan and as entertained by his fights and antics as anyone. But that time has been and gone. Diaz will turn 41 years old literally the day before this fight, hasn’t fought in 3 years and hasn’t won a fight since he bashed up BJ Penn way back in October 2011! UFC 137…we’ll be approaching UFC 305 by the time he steps into the Octagon here. Fucking 13 years without a win. The last time Nick won a fight, both Ronda Rousey and Conor McGregor were still well over a year away from making their UFC debuts. Both have had full careers and burned out and declined since. For the longest time, it seemed like he was completely done with fighting and was only sticking around for big paydays. Him coming back for those fights with Georges St Pierre and Anderson Silva were in line with that. But his comeback in 2021 for the rematch with Robbie Lawler wasn’t expected.

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Against my better judgment, I kind of allowed myself to be sucked in for this. Even at the time I’d have rathered he didn’t fight again but if he was going to come back, at least it was against Lawler. That was a rematch I’d wanted to see since they were both in Strikeforce. Plus it was way preferable to the Diaz vs Khamzat Chimaev fight that was being thrown around as a possibility back then. I shudder to think how that would’ve looked. Lawler was on the decline anyway so, on paper, it was just a fun fight between two fan favourites who had some history. And if Diaz looked good, fair enough, give him another fight. It didn’t go well though.

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There were very brief little spells where Diaz showed flashes of his old self, but even then, it looked like he was fighting in slow motion or like he was stuck in quicksand or something. Lawler ended up battering him to the floor in the third round and Diaz just chose not to get up. It was a sad sight but you could just tell his heart wasn’t in it at all. There was a post-fight clip going around on social media of Lawler kind of consoling him in the cage and even Lawler just seemed sad about the whole thing.

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The serious doubts had started when Nick turned up on fight week looking all out of shape, to the point it had to be changed to a Middleweight fight because he couldn’t make 170lbs. When you consider that Nick had always been known to be in phenomenal shape throughout his career, and never had issues making weight, it wasn’t a good sign. Even coming off a 6 year layoff, the one thing everyone knew about Diaz was he stayed in shape. Even in those years where he had no fights on the horizon, you’d regularly see him doing triathlons and swimming and running and all sorts. And in the run up to that Lawler fight, there were pictures of Diaz popping up where he looked in crazy condition. Then fight week, he looked a bloated mess. Not sure what happened for his conditioning to go so far out of whack but him being in good shape was the only thing it felt like you could count on going in, and even that wasn’t there. Then there was that long, rambling sitdown interview he did with Brett Okamoto where he just kept reiterating “I don’t know why I’m doing this”, saying he didn’t enjoy any part of it, and that whoever set the fight up was an idiot etc. When a few months earlier when the fight was first announced, he was tweeting about his comeback and posting training footage and stuff. Just odd all around. From reading between the lines back then, he was talking about having plans to start his own business and open a gym and that those plans went tits up because he trusted the wrong people. It was something like that. So my guess is all that money he made from those big GSP and Anderson fights was invested poorly or with dodgy people and the comeback was purely out of necessity because he badly needed the money. Sad state of affairs and you have to assume this is the same thing.

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This pic is from February. He randomly attended the Apex card headlined by Dolidze vs Imavov for some reason. That’s probably when the wheels were set in motion for this comeback. I can’t think why else he’d choose a nothing happening card like that to show up to unless he was meeting with the bosses. Looks rough to me though. He was actually supposed to face GSP in a grappling match in December but pulled out. Then showed up at the Apex there looking really gaunt and ill. Who knows what we’re getting. Despite what he’ll say on fight week though, and I’m fully expecting him to repeat the same “I don’t know why I’m doing this” stuff, according to Ariel Helwani, Nick’s been after a fight for a bit.

“He’s in Houston training, he has gotten rid of all of the baggage, he’s gotten rid of all of the partying, all that stuff. I’m told he’s in a great mental, physical and spiritual place right now.” - Ariel Helwani

Yeah, we’ll see. Helwani also mentioned that Diaz was pushing for specific fights and had named GSP, Colby Covington, MVP and Kevin Holland as fights he was interested in. Obviously the GSP rematch wasn’t ever gonna happen but apparently he wanted to fight Colby at UFC 300. When that fell through he was trying to get MVP or Holland on the 303 card when it was still supposed be headlined by McGregor vs Chandler. You can definitely see why he’d have wanted to attach himself to those cards. Can’t say I’d have had any interest in any of those fights though. I think a few of us mentioned when this fight was announced that having Nick and Tony Ferguson on the same card and not booking them against each other seems like a strange move. I don’t wanna see either of them fight anymore but at least that would’ve seemed like fairer matchmaking. They’re both shot to bits so it wouldn’t have felt like a mismatch either way. This though, despite my concerns about Luque, I can’t see past him absolutely wrecking Diaz here. My worry with Luque is about his ability to take punishment after the brain injury. I don’t see that being much of an issue here because I don’t see Diaz doing much to him. Luque’s the younger man by 9 years, he’s been way more active and he’s gonna be much quicker on the draw and he has power. Just the perfect recipe for disaster for Diaz. In an ideal world, neither takes any damage and the fight ends in 2 minutes by submission with both simultaneously laying their gloves down and retiring after. But yeah, I know, it’s not an ideal world.

 

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Marlon Vera vs Deiveson Figueiredo is ***WAND’S ONE TO WATCH*** for Abu Dhabi. Shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to anyone who’s been reading my posts lately. Ever since Figgy moved up to Bantamweight, I’ve been banging on about wanting to see every single combination of Figgy vs Chito vs Petr Yan. This is volume one of what will hopefully be a series of bangers between those 3 little madmen. Can’t really go wrong any way you mix and match that lot, can you? If I have one gripe with this, it’s that I wish it was 5 rounds. Luque vs Diaz getting 5 rounds while this gets 3 is a crime, in my opinion. But looking at the positives, the glass half full way to view this is that 3 rounds might actually make for more of an all-action dogfight because they won’t have it in the back of their minds that they might need to conserve energy for those later rounds.

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Chito is looking to redeem himself here. He got outclassed and beat up by Sean O’Malley in their title fight at UFC 299 in March. He proved his toughness but that‘s about as positive as it got for him. His durability wasn’t ever in question. He lasted the full 25 minutes but O’Malley put a beating on him. Shame really. I like Chito and was hoping he’d knock the pink out of O’Malley’s hair. And despite what the UFC propaganda machine kept telling us, I actually felt like Chito was the more popular ‘star’ that fight week. Unfortunately he just couldn’t get the job done when it mattered. Fun fighter though and he’s had some good wins over the likes of Edgar, Font, Cruz and Munhoz. His recent losses to O’Malley and Sandhagen have pretty much confirmed where he sits in the pecking order at 135 though. He’s never gonna be ‘the guy’ but he’s always gonna bring excitement and, matched with the right opponent, there’s still a lot of fun to be had. This is absolutely one of those matchups for me.

“I’m figuring out how to get back to that title conversation. The best way to do that is to go to Abu Dhabi and fucking rip this man apart. They said ‘What about Figueiredo?’ I said, ‘Fuck yeah’. He’s a former champion, undefeated in the weight class, why not put another former champ in my collection of heads? He’s been having success but I would say he’s beaten big names in the division that probably don’t have the drive that I still have. I’m taking this just as seriously as I was taking the title fight. I’m going to get in there and fucking let this motherfucker know we’re on my time! If I have to dig deep and fucking go to the basement and pull all the demons out, we’ll bring them.” - Chito Vera

Doesn’t sound like the loss to O’Malley has deterred him or knocked his confidence at all. And to be fair, a win over another popular name like Figueiredo would be a hell of a way to bounce back. I’d go as far as to say, if he beats Figgy it might just be Chito’s best win to date. I can see why a fight like this would have him fired up. Figgy’s got that same kind of aggression and dog in him so you’d think it’ll be a fight right up both men’s alley. An interesting note on Chito, he’s reportedly switching up his training for this one. He’s still training with Jason Parillo and some of the RVCA guys but Chito’s apparently set up his own gym in California near his home that will be focused around him. That doesn’t always pan out for the best but we’ll see. He’s still with Parillo so it’s not a complete overhaul but maybe a few tweaks were needed. He specifically said the change was made in order to “avoid bullshit and politics” so there must’ve been something negative going on in his training camps.

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Figgy’s back. Fresh off his submission win over Cody Garbrandt at UFC 300 in April. As a Figgy fan and an admitted Garbrandt hater, it was a very satisfying fight to watch and kicked off the 300 card on a real positive vibe. It’s going well for Figgy since he finally made the jump up to 135. It was a big talking point throughout his last few fights at Flyweight that he was having a lot of trouble making 125 towards the end there. I still think it hindered him massively in a couple of those Moreno fights. The move to 135 was inevitable but while he was champ and getting that PPV cut, I didn’t blame him soldiering on at 125. Once he lost that 4th fight with Moreno though, I was happy to see him sack it off and move up in weight. He’s gone 2-0 as a Bantam so far. A points win over Rob Font in December, followed by the sub over Garbrandt in April. He’s on the right trajectory but at 36 years old, time is of the essence. He’ll be 37 in December, that’s pretty much a pensioner in the lighter weight classes. He doesn’t have bags of time left in the game and probably only has a handful of fights left competing at a high level. So he’s looking to cram in as much as he can and max out the big wins, moments and paydays over the next 2-3 years or so. He’s ranked #6 already, so a win here over #4 ranked Chito will put him firmly in that mix for the gold. My ideal scenario is for the winner of this fight to face Yan towards the end of the year. Yan’s gone on record saying he’s looking at a November return so the winner of this against Yan on the MSG card or something would be ace. But we’ll see how it plays out. For now, I’m just chuffed we’re getting this fight.

 

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Mackenzie Dern vs Loopy Godinez is a decent little fight. Bittersweet because I like both and they’re both coming off losses. Don’t really wanna see either fall further into a slump but that’s the game. One of them is gonna get back to winning ways, the other is gonna fall further behind. Speaking of ‘behinds’…Mackenzie Dern has lost her last couple of fights now and she’s 1-3 in her last 4. You know the UFC would love to have her as champion or at least get her into title contention but every time she gets close, she hits a wall. She got smacked about and stopped by Jessica Andrade on the MSG card last November, then she lost a decision against Amanda Lemos on the Volk vs Topuria card in February. That was a good fight but Dern took a bit of a hiding, if I’m remembering it right. Just can’t see her ever smashing through that ceiling or putting a consistent run of wins together at this point. Loopy’s not on as bad a run but she’s been facing a lower level of competition overall compared to who Dern’s been in with. Loopy’s 12-4 and coming off a points loss against Virna Jandiroba in March. She was on a 4 fight win streak before that though. Not sure how this goes. It feels like a winnable one for Dern and if she can make it more of a grappling match she’ll obviously have an advantage. But they’ve both been kind of hot and cold in form at times. Hopefully it’s a good fight either way.

 

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Tony Ferguson vs Michael Chiesa opens up the main show. Again, why? If they insist on still trotting the likes of Ferguson and Nick Diaz out there, why not put them against each other? This isn’t quite as depressing to me as Luque vs Diaz just because at least neither of these guys are coming in after a brain bleed or a 3 year layoff. But it’s not far behind. And who knows what state Fergie’s brain is in these days? Hopefully these two mostly grapple. Because, in all fairness, there’s probably still an entertaining and very watchable fight to be had if they go that route. I suspect it’s gonna be hard to watch though.

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You know the score with Ferguson by now. I’ve never even been a fan of him particularly. At times I’ve thought he’s seemed a right prick and he’s never exactly been what you’d call likeable. But even still, it’s been sad to witness his decline. Looking back it was always on the cards. Even at his best, so much of his game was him relying on his chin and toughness and his ability to just absorb and soak up punishment and somehow come through finishing it with a D’Arce choke or something. It’s part of what made him so exciting to watch but there’s obviously a limit and a cost to be paid for fighting like that long term. It’s crazy to think now that just a few years ago, as late as 2019/20, the MMA world was clamouring for Ferguson vs Khabib. That seems ridiculous now but you had to be there, didn’t you? Back then, that was THE fight at 155 and it got away. And since then, Ferguson’s went on one of the sharpest declines I can recall in all my years watching this shit. He came into 2020 as the guy everyone wanted to see face Khabib, here we are 4 years later and he’s on a 7 fight losing streak and was finished in 4 of them. That horrible beating he took off Justin Gaethje was the final straw and it’s been downhill ever since. Seeing him fed to fucking Paddy Pimblett in his last fight and losing to that bellend was the worst. Even with the flaws Ferguson always had as a fighter, I’ve zero doubt that, at any time before 2020, he would’ve diced Paddy up something fierce with elbows and strangled his bloody carcass into unconsciousness. I’d usually say that when you start losing to guys you’d have butchered in your prime, it’s time to stop. But it’s been time to stop for a while now where Ferguson’s concerned. If there’s a glimmer of hope here, Chiesa’s never been an imposing striker, he’s never finished anyone by KO or TKO, he’s on a 3 fight losing skid himself and he hasn’t fought in over a year. Hopefully that at least limits the chances of Ferguson getting sparked. Maybe it will be a grappling match. That’s the best possible scenario. But man, if Ferguson does get knocked out by Chiesa, the plug has to be pulled. An 8 fight losing streak and you get knocked out by someone who can’t break an egg? At that point, everyone around him needs to step in and save him from himself.

 

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Joel Alvarez vs Elves Brener is a fairly late addition to the card and a cracking one. Really like the sound of this. Hopefully Alvarez makes it to the cage this time though. He’s pulled out of a couple of fights this year so far. He last fought on the London card in July 2023, beating Marc Diakiese by submission. It wasn’t without some controversy though, a clash of heads started the finishing sequence. Alvarez is 20-3 now and has won 5 of his last 6 with the only loss being to Arman Tsarukyan. He’s an entertaining fighter to watch from what I remember of him and in 23 pro fights he’s only been to a decision once. Brener’s 16-4 and coming off a points loss against Myktybek Orolbai at UFC 301 in May. It was a good fight though and Brener was 3-0 in the UFC going in so not a disaster. Brener made a fan of me with his come from behind stoppage of Guram Kutateladze in their bloodbath last summer. Think him and Alvarez should match up perfectly.

 

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Alonzo Menifield vs Azamat Murzakanov isn’t doing much for me but might be alright. Menifield’s seemed a good guy in the bits and pieces I’ve seen of his interviews and stuff over the years so I always kind of wanna see him do well. He actually got off to a decent start in the UFC, scoring a first round knockout over Paul Craig in just his second fight in. It’s gone wonky since though. He’s 15-4-1 now and got iced by Carlos Ulberg in just 12 seconds in his last fight on the St Louis card in May. Things can only get better after a night like that, right? Murzakanov is a weird one. He’s unbeaten at 13-0 with 10 wins coming inside the distance but he’s also 35 years old and hasn’t been that active. He’s beat Tafon Nchukwi, Devin Clark and Dustin Jacoby so far in the UFC. He was scheduled to face Khalil Rountree in December, which would’ve given us a better idea of what he’s about, but pneumonia forced him out. This feels like the type of matchmaking where they’re cutting their losses and looking at Menifield as a sacrificial lamb to feed to Murzakanov but you never know. Neither are spring chickens and Murzakanov is largely untested and coming off a 16 month layoff. That plus it’s 205 and fuck knows?

 

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Javid Basharat vs Chris Gutierrez is OK. Nothing special but it’s alright prelim filler. Basharat’s 28 years old, Afghan born but fights out of and grew up in London from what I remember. I took a liking to him and his brother Farid when they first signed with the UFC but I soured on Javid big time after the Victor Henry fight in October. I was half rooting for Henry in that one anyway just because of the Josh Barnett connection. The fight ended as a No Contest due to a bad accidental groin kick and Henry couldn’t continue. It happens. It’s how Basharat handled it after the fight that made him look a right dickhead. He went from calling Henry a quitter to denying the kick was low at all. Barnett took exception to Basharat talking shite and Basharat was even trying to tell Barnett what was what. I wanted Barnett to track him down and German suplex him into another dimension. Anyway, Basharat got his comeuppance in March, losing a decision to Aiemann Zahabi. That was Basharat’s first loss, hopefully it humbled him a tad and he acts like less of a helmet going forward. Gutierrez isn’t an easy rebound fight for him. He’s had his ups and downs and his losing effort against Song Yadong in their Apex headliner in December was disappointing. His had some decent fights for his level, although his career highlight so far is his KO over a completely shot Frankie Edgar.

 

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Shamil Gaziev vs Don’Tale Mayes. The piss break match. The snack break match. The getting a drink break match. There’s always something better to do than watch low level Heavyweight MMA. This’ll be shite. I gave Gaziev a chance until I watched, sorry I mean endured, his main event against Jairzinho Rozenstruik back in March. Turns out he’s just another big lumbering slug. One of the worst fights of the year so far easy and Gaziev’s own performance was embarrassing, to be honest. He was 12-0 coming in, which makes me wonder how bad those first 12 opponents must’ve been. Because he was wank against Rozenstruik. Got knackered after one round and somehow it dragged on until the end of the 4th round, where Gaziev basically quit on the stool between rounds and Marc Goddard mercifully called the fight off. Mayes is coming off a points win over Caio Machado in April that I had no recollection of but, looking back at the thread for that event now, I was surprisingly positive about it. Described it as looking like “a fairly entertaining sloppy brawl”. Probably wasn’t very good but my expectations would’ve been rock bottom for that one so anything better than rancid would’ve been a pleasant surprise. Yeah, skip this. Even with the early start time, don’t subject yourself to this shite. 

 

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Jai Herbert vs Rolando Bedoya feels like a fight that would’ve been targeted for UFC 304 in Manchester originally but never quite made the cut so it’s been pushed back a week to this card. Neither are going anywhere really but it’s not a bad fight. Herbert’s 36 now and has a 12-5-1 record. Hasn’t had the best of UFC stints but he’s certainly had a couple of ‘moments’. If you recall, his UFC debut against Francisco Trinaldo is the fight that ended with Herbert getting knocked out and led to the Dan Hardy vs Herb Dean cageside handbags. A more positive moment though, was Herbert’s fight against Ilia Topuria in 2022. Yeah, OK, Herbert got ironed out in the end but he did have that moment where he almost beheaded Topuria with a headkick. That’s aged well. If nothing else, he can always look back on that fight and tell the grandkids he almost KOd the champ. In all seriousness, Herbert’s alright, some solid striking but he’s probably not gonna be on the roster much longer. I’d have liked to have seen him do better being a Midlands fighter but a combination of a limited skillset and him probably getting to the UFC a bit too late have limited his potential. Bedoya’s 27 years old, from Peru and has a record of 14-3 with 7 finishes. He’s gone 0-2 in the UFC so far, dropping decisions to Khaos Williams and Song Kenan. He was on an 11 fight winning streak before that though. He’s Chute Boxe affiliated so I should like him but I barely remember him.

 

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Abdul-Kareem Al-Selwady vs Guram Kutateladze might just be the sleeper on the whole card for me. It’s probably gonna go under a lot of radars but it’s a fight I’m really into and should make the prelims well worth a watch. I’ve only seen Al-Selwady fight once, his UFC debut back in March, and he got chinned by Loik Radzhabov. It was a really good scrap though and Al-Selwady certainly had his moments. He had Radzhabov hurt badly at one point and I had them 1-1 before Radzhabov rallied with the KO in the third. It was enjoyable enough of a fight for Al-Selwady to stick in my memory though. He’s 15-4 now with 10 finishes, was the Lightweight champion in both the Brave and Fury FC promotions and beat Cage Warriors champ George Hardwick on DWCS last summer.

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Very interested to see how Kutateladze looks here as well. At one point I had quite high hopes for him but there’s been so many setbacks and layoffs, injuries, Visa issues, the lot. It’s been frustrating following his career. He made his UFC debut back in 2020 and won a razor close split decision against Mateusz Gamrot in a great fight. Then he was out over 18 months and finally returned only to lose a split decision in another fantastic fight against Damir Ismagulov. Then guess what happened? Yep, he was out another year then came back in July 2023 and got stopped in an absolute bloodbath against Elves Brener. Results aside though, these fights were all so good and he had success in all of them at points, even the ones he lost. I came away from all of them thinking ‘if only this fucker could stay healthy’. He’s only 32, there’s still some time to make something happen. But he’s gonna have to find a way to get through these training camps in one piece and actually make it to fight night because the window on his prime is rapidly closing. This should be a battle and a half if he shows up though.

 

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Mohammad Yahya vs Kaue Fernandes is whatever. Both have fought once in the UFC so far and both would probably rather forget it. Yahya faced Trevor Peek at UFC 294 in Abu Dhabi and lost on points. Can’t even remember if I saw that fight. If I did then nothing sticks out in the memory about it. He’s 12-4, was the UAE Warriors champ and made history as the first Emirati fighter to compete in the UFC. Brazil’s Fernandes is a Nova Uniao fighter and 8-2 with 6 finishes. He lost a decision in his UFC debut against Marc Diakiese and it was absolutely rotten to watch. A shit fight is always a bad first impression but when you lose a shit fight? Disaster of a debut. Oh well, it can only get better for these two, I guess.

 

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Azat Maksum vs CJ Vergara is a solid piece of matchmaking. The Flyweights rarely disappoint. Maksum’s from Kazakhstan, 15-1 and coming off his first career loss here. Him and Charles Johnson had a cracking fight back in February at the Apex that I think about 7 people actually watched. Maksum lost on points but it was such a good fight and I’m always interested to see how a previously undefeated fighter responds coming off their first loss. Vergara’s 32, has a 12-5-1 record and lost on points against Assu Almabayev in his last fight at UFC 299 in March. Not only did he lose, he missed weight for that one so he’s got some redeeming to do here. Can’t say I remember a great deal about Vergara other than his batshit back and forth barnburner with Daniel Lacerda back in March 2023. If you never saw that, give it a look. Trust me. Mad fight. I expect Maksum to return to the win column here but, like I say, you never know how that first taste of defeat will effect a fighter.

 

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Sedriques Dumas vs Denis Tiuliulin is a nothing fight. This fight was briefly booked for the Saudi show in June but Dumas pulled out for some reason which I can’t be arsed to look into. We really didn’t need this rebooked, did we? Could happily go the rest of my life without ever clapping eyes on these two ham and eggers again. Can’t stand Dumas. For one, he’s a shitty fighter. He’s 9-2 and has a couple of crap decision wins over Cody Brundage (another useless jobber) and Abu Azaitar (who was coming off a massive layoff at the time). We last saw Dumas in March getting eyepoked and stopped by Nursulton Ruziboev in a round. Usually I’d feel bad for a fighter losing as a direct result of getting poked in the eye but sod this prick.

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Yeah, as bad a fighter as Dumas is, it seems he’s an even shittier person. At least one of these was a domestic violence case and I’ve seen pictures his ex girlfriend’s mum posted of her daughter’s bruised face. Complete arsehole. It’s nothing compared to beating women but he’s also came across as a proper twat in the snippets I’ve caught of him on the MMA side of things as well. Just a horrid little cretin. Needless to say, I’ll be rooting for Tiuliulin here. Problem is he’s a bit of a no hoper himself. He’s 36 years old with a record of 10-9-1, is coming off 3 straight losses and was finished in all of them. Expectations aren’t high for this but I’m Team Tiuliulin all the way.

 

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Viktoriia Dudakova vs Sam Hughes. No expectations for this but we’ll see. Russia’s Dudakova is 25 years old and currently undefeated at 8-0 with 6 finishes. So far, so good. But the couple of her fights I’ve seen haven’t blown me away. She made her UFC debut in July last year against Istela Nunes but it was over in just 34 seconds when Nunes posted her arm as she was taken down and broke it. The old Shogun Rua vs Mark Coleman 1 finish. Shitty way for Dudakova to win her debut but a win’s a win, I guess. She followed that with a lacklustre and pretty unimpressive points win over Jinh Yu Frey in October. The jury was out for me on Dudakova’s potential going into that one but the fact she didn’t look better against Frey - who was 38 years old, 11-9 and on a 3 fight losing streak - it doesn’t exactly scream ‘hot prospect’, does it? Hughes isn’t any better than Frey either. She’s 8-6 and coming off a one sided decision loss to Yazmin Jauregui on the Mexico City card in February. She’s been on the roster over 3 years now, has fought 8 times in the UFC and I can’t recall ever thinking she looked good. If Dudakova doesn’t look impressive in this one, any kind of prospect talk can go in the bin going forward. These are the kind of fights that any up and comer who’s got legit potential should be winning in style.


 

Nick Diaz fight week then…

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Edited by wandshogun09
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The main card has like an Affliction feel to it. A mixture of top level relevant fights and random fights between legends who are way down the wrong side of the hill. There'll probably be some depressing moments but i'm all for it, makes for an interesting night of fights.

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Posted (edited)

Helwani explaining how the whole thing with Nick Diaz ending up on this card went down…(Diaz talk is about 9 mins in) 

 

Edited by wandshogun09
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