Welcome to the monthly September 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 the August wrap up here.
UFC Fight Night – Overeem vs Sakai:
This card was heavily affecting by the Covid-19 pandemic as 7 fights were ultimately scrapped due to either fighters or trainers testing positive with the virus. This left for a 7-fight card which is far smaller than the usual 12. This is a reminder that the Coronavirus is very real and effecting the athletes despite all their strongest efforts.
Despite the cancellations, the main event again Alistair Overeem (47-18-1 no contest) and Augusto Sakai (15-2-1) went off without a hitch. Overeem who is widely considered a shoe in for the UFC Hall of Fame has a long and historic career. He was set up against Sakai who is a strong up and comer in the heavyweight division. Through the setbacks and weakened chin, Alistair continues to prove that he is a force to be reckoned with regardless of his age. He has reinvigorated his strategies and has adjusted very well. He has promised himself one last run at the title before retirement.
Employing a wrestling heavy game plan and working on his striking defense not allowing himself to endure heavy punches which is a frequent occurrence when fighting at heavyweight. Ultimately Overeem won by 5th round TKO inching himself closer to another title shot. Sakai is only 29 which is incredibly young by heavyweight standards can learn a lot and improve from this match up. I suspect he is going to come back better than ever in his next match.
2. UFC Fight Night – Waterson vs Hill:
Michelle Waterson (18-8) and Angela Hill (12-9) were originally slated as the co main event but were bumped up when the main event of Glover Teixeira (32-7) vs Thiago Santos (21-8) was pulled because of a positive Covid-19 case.
Waterson is a fan favourite and was coming off of two straight losses looking to turn things around, while Hill was coming off a split decision of her own. Hill was also attracting a lot of attention for herself as this was her fourth fight in 2020 and all were on short notice. A win here would have catapulted her stock in the strawweight division and put her in a rare spot of four victories within a calendar year. Waterson and the judges had another plan.
Waterson walked away with a split decision victory in a very close competition that some thought Hill had won. Despite the loss it was ultimately a great showcase for both fighters as it was exciting and won them fight of the night honours. Michelle still has a long way to go before entering the title picture again but this is certainly a step in the right direction. A few more wins from here and she may get her opportunity to finally become mom champ. As for Angela, she had so much success is 2020 even with this fight being so close, I would love to see her have the same activity in 2021 as it worked so well for her this year.
3. Bellator 246:
Bellator MMA had a Juan Archuleta (25-2) and Patchy Mix (13-1) face off for the vacant bantamweight title. The former champion, Kyoji Horiguchi (28-3) won the belt in June of 2019 but announced an injury that left the title vacated in November 2019. This matchup was delayed this long due to the pandemic. In a competitive match, Juan Archuleta won by unanimous decision and is now the bantamweight champion.
In other news, this was also the last Bellator event to air on the Paramount Network. Moving forward all events will now air on CBS sports which has a greater reach regarding an audience base and viewership.
4. UFC Fight Night – Covington vs Woodley:
In the main event, we had former interim welterweight champion Colby Covington (16-2) and former welterweight champion Tyron Woodley (19-6-1). This fight has been years in the making with the two verbally sparring each other in the media several times. This was the first fight back for Colby since his loss to the current champion Kamaru Usman (17-1) which meant he had something to prove if he wants to make it back to another title shot against his rival. In vintage fashion Colby put on a clinic and dominated Tyron until a 5th round finish.
This would be the 3rd fight in a row for Woodley in which he looked lackluster and unable to take things to second gear. His hesitancies in big match ups have fans to wondering if he has any juice left to compete. Maybe his ventures outside of the cage are taking president as he nears retirement. The biggest concern and controversy occurred following the fight in an interview with Kamaru Usman. Colby was saying some deplorable and racist things almost reaching a new low. I hate that his schtick has been to be a racist prick, it is also concerning that the UFC and Dana White do not take issue with it.
In the co main event, Donald Cerrone (36-15-1-1 no contest) took on Niko Price (14-4-1-1 no contest). This was widely regarded as a shoe in for the fight of the night honours which was not the case in the end. Price did well but went overboard with the fouls which lost of him a few points. Those points were crucial as the result ended in a majority draw. The great part about this was the reactions. Cerrone reacted to the draw as a loss while Price had reacted as if it was biggest win in his life.
Both talked about a rematch and how much mutual respect they have for each other, but I do not see that as the next step. Cerrone says he still has a lot of fight left in him. It might be a good move to return to lightweight where he is not undersized by most opponents.
Surging prospect Khamzat Chimaev (9-0) took on his stiffest competition to date in Gerald Meerschaert (31-14). Hot off two finishes from Fight Island, Chimaev was matched against Gerald to gauge where he stands against a more experience opponent. He proved that he is the next big thing in the UFC. Finished the fight with a walk off knockout 17 seconds into the first round.
He is clearly the next big star in the UFC and has unlimited potential. His issue now is finding opponents willing to fight him. He has a lot of hype behind him but beat unranked fighters. That means ranked fighters do not want to take the risk in being matched up as if they win then it does not mean much against an unranked opponent who is unproven and if they lose then they lost to an unranked fighter that maybe the casual fan has not heard of. Unranked fighters recognize his skill and do not want to be pitted against someone so good so early in their career. It is a good problem to have so many people recognize his skill. It backfires that people are not willing to fight him.
5. UFC 253:
In one of the most anticipated matchups of 2020 we saw Israel Adesanya (20-0) take on Paulo Costa (13-1). The two had built a rivalry over the last couple of years. This fight was pitted as two undefeated contenders vying for a title. As well as a classic match up between a technical striker and a power striker. This was anticipated to be a fight of year candidates based on the style and the animosity built. That was not the case in the end. The first round saw Paulo taunting Israel several times but not doing much of anything. Whereas Israel stuck to the outside and attacked with long shots, mainly leg kicks. The finish came in the second round by punches seeing Israel remain the champion.
This was just a masterclass performance and really leaves us wondering what is next for him. As for Paulo, it was a strange performance and nothing like how he usually fights. Israel is just such a tough puzzle to solve. Costa could not stick to his game plan and fight style.
The sky is the limit for Israel and Paulo has a long way to climb if Israel remains champion. There are a few rumours for Israel. Chatter about him moving up and challenging for the light heavyweight title. This would potentially make him the next champ-champ. Or facing off against his newest rival, Jon Jones (26-1-1 no contest).
In the co main event we had the vacant light heavyweight title up for grabs. Former champion Jon Jones vacated the title when he announced that he would be moving up to heavyweight. This was after his win against Dominic Reyes. That left the title in the hands of Dominic Reyes (12-2) to take on Jan Blachowicz (27-8). This was essentially Dominic’s fight to win as many people scored him the winner against Jones. If he could do that well against the long-time champ, then surely, he could beat Jan. Jan had plans of his own. After dominated the first round, Jan went in for the finish in the second and won by TKO and even breaking Reyes nose.
Jan has really turned his career around since 2017. He was considered a middle of the pack contender to champion. His next challenger could potentially be Israel Adesanya, or Jon Jones should he choose to not move to heavyweight, or the most likely is the winner between Thiago Santos and Glover Teixeira.
This is the September wrap up! Let me know what you thought, and what stories I might have missed out.