Welcome to the Monthly Wrap Up for January 2021! Here is where I breakdown some of the headlines and fights for the month of January and provide some insight and opinion on it. I would to hear what you think so please leave a comment down below.
You can find the December Wrap Up here.
1. UFC Fight Night: Holloway vs Kattar.
The UFC returned from a one-month break for this event. This event returned to the famous Fight Island in Abu Dhabi. This would also be the first event of a three-event string in two weeks. This was also dubbed the new International Fight Week as fans were allowed back into the arena after almost a year without them. Not to mention that this was the UFC debut on the ABC Network, the first time being on Network television since the Fox deal expanding their fan viewership.
Headlining the show was former featherweight champion Max Holloway (22-6) against surging contender Calvin Kattar (22-5). This was a very important fight for Max as he had previously lost 3 out of last 4 and he needed to bounce back. Kattar is highly respected and many expect him to challenge for a title in the near future. Max was determined not to let him make a name out of him.
What ended up happening was nothing short of amazing. Max had what can be considered one of the best performances of all time. He broke so many striking records including: most significant strikes landed (445), total strike landed (447), and most strikes landed in a single round (141). Frankly it was crazy that the fight wasn’t stopped in the fourth or fifth round. It really showed Kattar’s heart and determination but he took a lot of unnecessary damage. It got to the point was the UFC boss Dana White was gravely concerned for his health.
This writing truly does not do Max’s performance justice. He clearly showed he still has plenty left in the tank and can still hang with the best. I believe that he rightly deserves a shot at the title against Alex Volkanovski (22-1) again or against Brian Ortega (15-1-1 no contest).
2. UFC Fight Night: Chiesa vs Magny.
The UFC hosted second event on this stint on Fight Island during the day on a Wednesday. Now I normally like midweek or Sunday events as it keeps things different and also frees up Saturday plans. But it is difficult when the event takes place during working hours. Hopefully the next time they host a midweek event it will be after 5pm.
In the main event Michael Chiesa (18-4) took on Neil Magny (24-8). Both were surging on three fight winning streaks and are just on the cusp of the welterweight title picture. Chiesa took full advantage of the opportunity and dominated Magny over five rounds winning four of those rounds.
Chiesa is a former winner of the Ultimate Fighter and former top contender at lightweight. I completely underestimated him for this fight. There is an asterisk I find attached to his previous wins at welterweight. No disrespect to him Carlos Condit (32-13), and Diego Sanchez (30-13) are well passed their primes, and Rafael Dos Anjos (30-13) is also a former lightweight but his win against Magny clearly indicates that he is legit and this is the right weight class for him as Magny is one of the divisions best and highly underrated. After the fight he also called out Colby Covington (16-2) which was amazing. That would be a really competitive match that I would love to see. Frankly, I look forward to seeing Colby lose again so I hope Chiesa is the next guy to do it.
3. UFC 257
The fight PPV event of the year was headlined by the UFC’s biggest star Conor McGregor (22-5) face off in a rematch against Dustin Poirier (27-6-1 no contest). The storyline behind this fight was a huge push from the UFC already going ahead and assuming that Conor had this one in the bag. They were talking about having Conor rematch against Khabib Nurmagomedov (29-0) because that would be a massive payday for everyone. Poirier was completely overlooked during the leadup of this event. The only thing about him that was mentioned that was that he wanted to even the score as he had lost their first fight by first round TKO.
Despite a strong start and winning the first round, that was as good as it was going to get for Conor. Poirier employed a game plan that attacked the legs with the ever-effective lower calf kick. It worked like a dream for him. Conor was in visible pain from the kicks and could not move well in the second round. That lead to Dustin finding the opportunity to be the first person to knock out Conor in MMA competition. This was one of the biggest if not biggest wins of Dustin’s career and I am so happy for him. He is truly one of the good guys in this sport representing himself really well and he deserves the best.
Because Dana believes he can convince Khabib to come out of retirement the vacant lightweight title was not up for grabs tonight. I honestly believe that Khabib is not coming back which was made even more apparent because Conor didn’t win. With that in mind, I believe this should have been for the title and Dustin should now be crowned the new lightweight champion. If I were the matchmaker at this point, I would do Charles Oliveira (30-8-1 no contest) to fight Dustin for the vacant title as he has won seven in a row.
Conor sited the leg kicks and inactivity for his reason for the loss and vows to return. The problem is that every Conor fight is a huge fight. Because of that he cannot be afforded a tune up fight when that is exactly what he needs in this case. The UFC should be matching him up against someone he can beat but the top of the division is so competitive it might be tough to find someone to fill that role.
Speaking of that lightweight division being competitive, the co-main event also showcased top contenders. Dan Hooker (20-1) introduced Michael Chandler (22-5) to the UFC. Chandler was a longtime veteran and former champion in Bellator making his UFC debut. Chandler took full advantage of the opportunity knocking out Hooker in the first round. That had to be one of the most impressive UFC debuts of all time. Chandler proved that he belongs with the best lightweights in the world and I am excited to see him back in the cage. As for Hooker her took off his gloves and left them in the cage which potentially may indicate that he is retiring. I certainly hope that is not the case as he still one of the top fighters in the division.
This is the January 2021 Wrap Up! Let me know your thoughts, and what stories I might have missed out on.