Welcome to the monthly August 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 July’s wrap up here.
1. UFC Fight Night Brunson vs Shahbazyan:
Derek Brunson (21-7) has been at the top 10 of the middleweight division for a long time. He has typically lost all the bigger fights that stopped him from reaching a title shot. That is why by some he may have been pegged as a gatekeeper for middleweight. That may be why they matched him up against rising star Edmen Shahbazyan (11-1). Edmen was undefeated leading into this fight with 10 finishes, receiving high praise from teammate Ronda Rousey (12-2), the media, and the UFC clearly had a lot of high hopes for him as well.
Derek obviously had plans of his own and won by third round TKO finish halting Edmen’s momentum. Brunson clearly felt disrespect with the story line of this fight and proved to everyone that he is still a force not to be messed with. That is not to say Edmen does not have a bright future, he showed a lot of great promise and I am sure that he will be back better than ever.
Joanne Calderwood (14-5) was a shoe in for the next flyweight title shot against Valentina Shevchenko (19-3). With the Covid-19 pandemic delaying the first schedule match and then and the next when Valentina got injured. Joanne not wanting to be on the sidelines for so long elected to take a fight against Jennifer Maia (18-6). This was risk if she would lose then she would also lose the title shot. That is exactly what happened. Jennifer Maia submitted Joanne by armbar in the first round. Thus she has stamped herself as the new top contender.
2. Bellator 243
The Bellator 243 main event saw Former Bellator champion Michael Chandler (21-5) take on former UFC champion Benson Henderson (28-9). The most notable reason why this fight was important was because this was the last on Chandler’s contract as he entered free agency. Chandler made a statement by finishing him by knockout in the first round.
Michael has been with Bellator for the majority of his career which is what makes the decision to not resign so surprising. He feels like he has not been a offered a fair deal yet. This could be a great opportunity to see Chandler in the UFC and how he stacks up against the divisions best. After the years of success and being at the top of this sport, he deserves the best. If he is looking for the promotion that will pay him the most or compete against the best to see how he stacks up, he deserves it. I would love to see him in the UFC, there are many exciting matchups like Dustin Poirier (26-6), Tony Ferguson (25-4), and Dan Hooker (20-9). I am excited to see whatever he chooses to do next.
3. UFC Fight Night Lewis vs Oleinik
Fan favourite Derrick Lewis (24-7-1 no contest) returned to the octagon against submission specialist Aleksei Oleinik (59-14-1). In signature fashion, Lewis won the fight by second round TKO. With this he officially became the owner of the most knockouts in UFC history with 11. After the fight he admitted that he wanted to lose a bit of weight before taking on the next fight. That commitment is great to hear as he wants to improve his conditioning as he takes on some more competitive opponents. He called out for a rematch with Francis Ngannou (15-3) and Curtis Blaydes (14-2) which both would make for fantastic fights. Ultimately it was announced that he would take on Blaydes on November 28th.
4. UFC 252
UFC 252 had an incredible main event. The trilogy between heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic (20-3) and Daniel Cormier (22-3) came to an end. Cormier shocked the world by knocking out Miocic in the first round in their first match back in 2018. This was historic because Cormier at the time became a double champ as he was also the light heavyweight champion as well.
The rematch was delayed many times as Cormier was hoping for a big money fight against former heavyweight champion and professional wrestler Brock Lesner (5-3). That fight never materialized which forced the eventual rematch against Stipe Miocic. In the second fight Cormier was clearly winning up until the fourth round. Stipe made some incredible adjustments and started focusing on the body which led to a TKO win.
The trilogy was delayed because of the global pandemic in which Stipe works as a front-line worker and fireman and because of an eye injury he sustained from eye pokes in the previous fight. I found this situation completely unfair for Stipe. The second fight was delayed because Daniel’s desire to fight Brock and no one seemed to mind. The third fight was delayed because of the pandemic and an injury and Dana White and Cormier were throwing a fit to relinquish the title. Thankfully, that never happened.
The third fight was certainly a contentious one but ultimately Stipe won it a unanimous decision. Of course, there had to be some sort of controversy. Cormier was accidentally poked in the eye and from there Stipe ran away with it heading into the championship rounds. This solidifies that Miocic is the greatest heavyweight champion of all time. He has the most UFC championship wins and has avenged two of his previous losses.
As for Cormier, he has admitted that his was going to be his retirement fight in or lose. It is tough to retire on a loss like this where there is added drama. That does not take anything away from him. He is certainly one of the greatest this sport has ever seen, and he is due that respect. He will certainly be inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame. MMA retirements seem to never stick but this one seems definitive as was removed from the heavyweight rankings and removed from the USADA testing pool. I wish him the best in retirement, and we will obviously see him for years to come in the commentary box.
In the co-main event, we saw rising star Sean O’Malley (12-1) take on Marlon Vera (16-6). This was once again supposed to be a showcase fight Sean but Vera came to win. In the first round Sean visibility injured his ankle. Marlon took full advantage and finished him by ground and pound. Vera claims that it was his leg kicks and checked kicks that caused the damage, but Sean chucks it to bad luck. Either way Vera walks away with pride and a victory.
The major concern the way I see it was the way Sean handled the loss. He was stretchered out which some fighters including Ben Askren (19-2-1 no contest) say is very embarrassing and should have walked out. In addition to this and frankly more concerning is that he refuses to acknowledge the loss. He mentally won the fight according to Sean. You would think that a high caliber fighter with loads of potential would be humbler and take it as a learning opportunity. Instead he is just being a sore loser.
5. Bellator 244
Bellator returned at Bellator 244 with an incredibly exciting main event. Double champ Ryan Bader (27-6-1 no contest) returned to the light heavyweight division to defend his title against Vadim Nemkov (12-2). Vadim exploded on the Bellator scene skyrocketing himself to a title shot in just 4 fights. In those, he only went to decision once. Vadim was largely overlooked in this match as Bader has a long and success resume in the sport and in being the double champ. Instead Nemkov dominated the fight and ultimately won by TKO in the second round. With only 14 fights, the sky is the limit for Nemkov. I feel like now that Jon Jones (26-1-1 no contest has moved up to heavyweight, there is the potential that Vadim to become the best light heavyweight in the world.
6. UFC Fight Night Munhoz vs Edgar
Just when you thought Frankie Edgar (24-8-1) does not have any more juice left in the tank, he comes back and proves everybody wrong. At 38 years old this was Frankie’s debut fight at bantamweight. Most people agree that this was the weight class he should have been at his whole career. He still pushed through lightweight and became champion, he pushed through featherweight and fought for the title multiple times. At some point the competition is physically too large and he needed a refreshing batch of opponents. That is what lead him to bantamweight.
In his first task he took on the always tough Pedro Munhoz (18-5-1 no contest). The fight was incredibly close and entertaining which won fight of the night. Frankie walked away with the split decision victory, but it could have gone both ways. The impressive thing is how well Frankie can move and fight, even at his age and the miles he has in the sport. I am excited to see how far he can make it in the new division.
7. UFC Fight Night Rakic vs Smith
Rising star Aleksander Rakic (13-2) took on former title challenger Anthony Smith (33-16). This was another disappointing night for Anthony has he was dominated for 3 rounds. Smith fights himself in a tough spot losing 3 in his last 4. He admitted afterwards as well that he felt physically weaker and could not do anything about it even if he felt he was technically better. If this is the case, he may need to return to the middleweight division or take the time to bulk up so he can compete again. As for Rakic, he looked incredible and on the verge of earning a title shot.
Fan favourite Robbie Lawler (28-15-1 no contest) returned after taking a year off against the always durable Neil Magny (24-7). This was another dominant performance of the night. Neil controlled the entirety of the fight. I have always thought that Magny is one of the most underrated fighters in the UFC. He is a tough fight for anyone, and he is going to consistently do well. I would love to see how high he can get in the rankings and eventually make it to a title shot. As for Robbie, the fans love him and the violence he can bring but it seems like the sport and age has caught up to him. He has lost 5 in his last 6 and looked flat in almost all of them (except against Ben Askren). He either lost the savage in him or he just cannot keep up anymore.
This is the August wrap up! Let me know what you thought, and what stories I might have missed out.