Welcome to the Monthly July wrap up! Here is where I breakdown some of the biggest headlines from the month and provide some insight and opinion on it. I would love to hear what you think so please leave a comment down below. You can find June’s wrap up here.
1. UFC 251:
A new breakout star in Jiri Prochazka (27-3-1) emerged when he finished former light heavyweight title contender Volkan Oezdemir (17-5) by second round knockout. With his flashy style and lots of taunting, he stamped himself as someone to really watch out for in the future. Amanda Ribas (10-1) made quick work of Paige VanZant (8-5) with an armbar submission in the first round. This loss marks the last fight on Paige’s contract and on the free agency market which is in most cases is not advantageous. For Paige however, because she has such a tremendous following, this may not have been a bad thing for her.
Rose Namajunas (9-4) returned after a year break in a rematch again Jessica Andrade (20-8). The initial fight had Jessica winning by slam knockout. Rose turned out to be the better fighter in the rematch winning by split decision and they both took home fight of the night honours.
The triple header started with Petr Yan (15-1) take on former featherweight champion Jose Aldo (28-7) challenging for the vacant bantamweight title since Henry Cejudo (16-2) retired. I do not believe Aldo deserved the title shot, it should have been given to Aljamain Sterling (19-3) but because Aldo is a bigger name, he managed to cut the line. Aldo did have some moments of greatness particularly in the second round but ultimately Yan proved to be the superior fighter and finished Aldo in the fifth round. The stoppage was late, the referee gave Aldo a few more opportunities to come back than he really deserved which led to him taking more damage than he should have. Yan is obviously incredibly talented and cannot wait to see how he does against the other young and coming contenders.
Next up Alexander Volkanovski (22-) rematched Max Holloway (22-6). In the first match up we saw Alexander win by decision. Max thought that he had won the fight but I think the judges got it right. With no contenders emerging through the crowd, Max got an immediate rematch. This match was far much closer. Volkanovski won by split decision but myself and a lot of the MMA world felt the Max deserved the win. The unfortunate thing Max is that it would be really difficult to set up a trilogy three fights in a row, both Alex and the fans would be looking to see something new. With Brian Ortega (14-1) and Chan Sung Jung (16-5) facing off, and Yair Rodriguez (13-2) and Zabit Magomedsharipov (18-1) scheduled to fight as well, a new contender with emerge shortly.
In the main event, there was a lot of drama leading up to fight day. The challenger Gilbert Burns (19-3) tested positive for Covid-19 and was removed from the card. Jorge Masvidal (35-14) was called to the rescue and replaced him on a week notice. Masvidal was always the number one contender but money got the better of things and the UFC was not willing to pay him what he wanted. That was until they lost their main event a week out. Desperate times calls for desperate measures and Jorge ultimately got what he asked for.
The sad part was that he did not have the proper time to prepare and cut his weight for him to put up a competitive match against the champion Kamaru Usman (17-1). Usman dominated the majority of the fight and won by decision. Fans were able to see that Masvidal had the right fight IQ and skills to compete but just did not have the time properly prepare.
2. Figueiredo vs Benavidez:
The first matchup between Deiveson Figeuredo (19-1) and Joseph Benavidez (28-7) ended in controversy for the vacant flyweight title. An accidental head butt resulted in a massive cut on Benavidez which then lead to a huge knockout for Figueiredo. Benavidez is beloved fighter across fans and the sport and this was considered his one last chance at winning a UFC title. That coupled with the controversy is what made the rematch such an obvious choice.
The second matchup did not leave any question marks. Deiveson laid a beating on Joseph for the entirety of the first round and then choked him out unconscious. The performance was incredible and surely sparked new interest in the flyweight division after Cejudo vacated the division. Cannot help but feel terrible for Benavidez. He has been at the top of the flyweight division for his entire career but just could never get the job done when faced former champion Demetrius Johnson and now Deiveson.
3. Bellator 242:
Marked the return for Bellator after a five month hiatus due to the pandemic. They were not as fast to return as the UFC but rest assured, they did it. They locked down their own version of Fight Island and created the Fight Sphere taking place at the Mohegun Sun in Uncasville, Connecticut. The event went off without a hitch. In the main event Sergio Pettis (20-5) beat Ricky Bandejas (13-4) by unanimous decision.
4. UFC on ESPN 14:
The last major event of the month was a strong one especially considering it was a free event. Robert Whittaker (21-5) had his first match since he lost the middleweight title to Israel Adesanya (19-0). Facing off against a stiff challenge in Darren Till (18-3), Whittaker held his own and looked really good. Rob walked away with a unanimous decision.
Shogun Rua (27-11-1) and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (23-10) completed their trilogy match up. The rivalry started way back in June 2005 in Pride and then again in August 2015. This match up ended the exact same way as the others. Shogan took a unanimous decision just as he did in the previous ones. Before the fight started there was the anticipation that this might be a disappointing fight. Both fighters clearly past their prime, and Rogerio saying this would be his retirement fight. It turned out to be entertaining and both looking great! I wish Nogueira all the best in retirement. Both he and his brother have solidified themselves as legends in the sport throughout their years in Pride and the UFC.
Alexander Gustafsson (18-7) returned from retirement and moved up a weight class to heavyweight. Fabricio Werdum (24-9-1) welcomed him back and it was his last fight on his UFC contract. Werdum proved that he still has plenty left in the tank and easily submitted Alexander in the first round by armbar. For Alex if he still feels like he has the passion to continue then he should return to the light heavyweight division. He has had a lot of success in the division and was very competitive in his title fights.
As for Werdum, based off of where he is in his career, the best place for him would be Bellator. Bellator has had the tendency to sign fighters out of their prime but still carry a lot of name value. In addition to this, a very lucrative fight would be a rematch against Fedor Emelianenko (39-6-1). The two fought way back in June 2010. Werdum did the impossible and ended Fedor’s incredible unbeaten streak of 28 fights. Fedor is widely regarded as arguably the best heavyweight fighters of all time. This rematch would surely garner a lot of viewers.
This is the July wrap up! Let me know what you thought, and what stories I might have missed out.