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Despite lacking some of the big names of some recent ONE Championship events, this weekend’s Shanghai card held plenty of entertainment.

The Main Event saw Stamp Fairtex (65-15-5) defend her Women’s Atomweight Muay Thai belt against Alma Juniku (24-4-0).  The 18-year-old Australian was making her debut in ONE Championship and clearly must have impressed the talent scouts to be thrust immediately to a title shot.  Despite a very strong performance, the fight went the distance and the judges gave the victory to Stamp, who remains both Muay Thai and Kickboxing Atomweight Champion.

Stamp Fairtex scores a unanimous decision victory and retains her ONE Atomweight Muay Thai World Title in a closely-contested thriller against game challenger Alma Juniku! #WeAreONE #LegendaryQuest #Shanghai #MartialArts pic.twitter.com/SY3vaQpEwB

— ONE Championship (@ONEChampionship) June 15, 2019

In the co-main, former UFC, Dream and K1 veteran Yoshihiro ‘Sexy Yama’ Akiyama (14-6-2) lost to Malaysian Agilan Thani (9-3-0).  The fight was a close fought back and forth, with Thani scoring points with some superb body slam takedowns in round 1 and 2, and both men trading big hits from standing.  Thani gassed severely towards the end of the second, but managed to stay on his wobbly feet until the bell rang.  With both men exhaustedly clinging on in the third, when the bell went the the judges deemed that Thani had done enough to deserve the win.  The loss means 43-year-old ‘Sexy Yama’ is the latest fighter to join the growing number of former UFC fighters to lose on their ONE debut.  For Thani, this is a welcome return to form after his last two losses and injury time out.

BOUT OF THE NIGHT CONTENDER
Malaysian sensation Agilan Thani scores the biggest win of his career in a seesaw battle against martial arts legend Yoshihiro Akiyama! #WeAreONE #LegendaryQuest #Shanghai #MartialArts pic.twitter.com/IL881Bv0gW

— ONE Championship (@ONEChampionship) June 15, 2019

The night was a success for the Chinese athletes on the card, with all 5 athletes winning their bouts and knock outs for Zhang Chenlong (47-12-1), Han Zi Hao (60-16-0) and Fan Rong (10-2-0).  ONE Management will no doubt be happy with the rising prominence of their Chinese fighters as they seek to expand in this key Asian market. 

Zhang Chenglong makes it a clean sweep for , connecting with a spectacular right hand to put Tyler Hardcastle to ! #WeAreONE #LegendaryQuest #Shanghai #MartialArts pic.twitter.com/Exmir0omNC

— ONE Championship (@ONEChampionship) June 15, 2019

Chinese phenom Han Zi Hao sends the home crowd into a frenzy with a stunning knockout of Scottish star Andrew Miller! #WeAreONE #LegendaryQuest #Shanghai #MartialArts pic.twitter.com/dgcUz3J8vR

— ONE Championship (@ONEChampionship) June 15, 2019

The "King Kong Warrior" Fan Rong turns in a monstrous performance to score a dominating TKO victory over Egyptian bruiser Sherif Mohamed! #WeAreONE #LegendaryQuest #Shanghai #MartialArts pic.twitter.com/1edZnViffH

— ONE Championship (@ONEChampionship) June 15, 2019

A few fighters made it onto the ‘fighers to watch’ list.  Reinier De Ridder easily defeated a seriously ripped Gilberto Galvao with a knee to the head in the 2nd round.  The Dutch grappler is now 11-0 overall and 2-0 in ONE, making him a serious challenger in the middleweight division.  Japanese fighter Itsuki Hirata won her ONE Championship and professional MMA debut against Filipino Angelie Sabanal in the women’s atomweight division.  Despite some aggressive striking by Sabanal, Hirata secured a takedown and finished her opponent with a deft kimura in the first round.  That marks the 4th submission victory for her in 4 fights and at only 18 years old is an exciting new addition to the Women’s MMA scene.

Reinier De Ridder TKOs Gilberto Galvao in jaw-dropping fashion to remain UNDEFEATED! #WeAreONE #LegendaryQuest #Shanghai #MartialArts pic.twitter.com/ir3C6q19qF

— ONE Championship (@ONEChampionship) June 15, 2019

In her ONE debut, Japanese phenom Itsuki Hirata pulls off a slick submission on Angelie Sabanal! @_itsuki_h_ #WeAreONE #LegendaryQuest #Shanghai #MartialArts pic.twitter.com/3mSGAq0l6U

— ONE Championship (@ONEChampionship) June 15, 2019

Full results

Main Event:

·       Stamp Fairtex def. Alma Juniku by unanimous decision (Muay Thai: Atomweight World Championship)

·       Agilan Thani def. Yoshihiro Akiyama by unanimous decision (MMA: Welterweight)

·       Zhang Chenglong def. Tyler Hardcastle by TKO in R1 (Kickboxing: Bantamweight)

·       Han Zi Hao def. Andrew Miller by TKO in R2 (Muay Thai: Bantamweight)

·       Koyomi Matsushima def. Kwon Won Il by unanimous decision (MMA: Featherweight)

·       Tarik Khbabez def. Anderson Silva by unanimous decision (Kickboxing: Light Heavyweight)

·       Reinier De Ridder def. Gilberto Galvao by TKO in R2 (MMA: Middleweight)

·       Rodlek PK. Saenchaimuaythaigym def. Liam Harrison by unanimous decision (Muay Thai: Bantamweight)

Prelims:

·       Chen Lei def. Anthony Engelen by unanimous decision (MMA: Catchweight 67.5kg)

·       Fan Rong def. Sherif Mohamed by TKO in R2 (MMA: Middleweight)

·       Niu Kang Kang def. Eric Kelly by unanimous decision (MMA: Featherweight)

·       Yoon Chang Min def. Trestle Tan by TKO in R1 (MMA: Lightweight)

·       Itsuki Hirata def. Angelie Sabanal by submission in R1 (MMA: Atomweight)

·       Phoe Thaw def. Victorio Senduk by TKO in R1 (MMA: Featherweight)

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Bellator 222 at Madison Square Garden in New York played host to an eventful night of fights on Friday night — including the second professional mixed martial arts outing of the social media outspoken jiu-jitsu phenom that is Dillon Danis.

Danis, now 2-0, once again backed up his online talk, despite the arguably insufficient level of opposition — and whether you like him or not, the one thing you cannot do is dispute the abilities that the SBG Ireland fighter possesses on the ground.

In this highly anticipated bout against Max Humphrey (now 3-3), Danis never really looked in doubt. The New York native successfully secured a smooth double leg after an attempted early striking exchange from Humphrey, and it was really all cruise control from there for “El Jefe” in front of his home crowd.

Once the fight landed on the mat, Humphrey didn’t look like he was too interested in being in there with Danis, but on the other hand, it was an opportunity for the decorated jiu-jitsu specialist to get to work, and show the fans the improvements that he has made since his debut.

Danis went on to immediately take Humphrey’s back, unloading some vicious ground and pound on the 30-year-old, who came into this fight on the back of a TKO loss in July of last year. Very quickly, it became evident that Danis looked more comfortable with his hands this time around, landing some accurate, heavy shots on Humphrey while working on the back position.

It seemed as if a rear naked choke was waiting to happen, but after Humphrey managed to defend his neck quite well, Danis calmly transitioned into an armbar, before shifting his back off the cage and forcing his opponent to tap.

What’s worth noting about the manner of Danis’ victory is just how comfortable he looked at every stage of the fight once it hit the mat. The expression on his face during the transition from the back into the armbar looked as though he was on the mat in the gym, rolling with a sparring partner.

The level of Danis’ ground game is certainly not to be questioned. But with that being said, it is unlikely that he will have shut too many people up with a win over an opponent of Humphrey’s caliber. His record will still show that he is unproven against high-level opposition, and his standup is as much of an unknown as it was prior to his professional debut.

But, credit has to be given where it is due. Danis comfortably took care of the two opponents that were put in front of him so far. It would be unrealistic for him to be thrown into the cage with some of the world’s best mixed martial artists right away. It is a process that will likely take some time, so don’t be surprised if Danis’ next fight is against another opponent with a questionable record.

Despite the fan frustration with the level of opposition matched up against Danis, there really is no need for him to rush into any big fights. Danis is generating so much attention on social media, once again last night after calling out the likes of Jon Jones in his post fight media obligations, that people will tune in to watch his next fight regardless of who is standing across the cage — giving him all the time in the world to polish his striking, and perfect his game ahead of the blockbuster fights that are inevitably coming in the future.

All things considered, Danis is bound to have a successful MMA career on his jiu-jitsu abilities alone. There are not many fighters out there that would be competitive on the mat with the New Yorker, and once his striking improves, it is hard to look past him as a potential future world champion.

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I really am not a fan of the “cringe” gimmick,I feel like Cejudo isn’t doing himself any favors with this schtick. I never believed it gets him any more attention, and that it just alters the opinion of people who already happen to be paying attention. But all of that is of minor importance, because the performance he put on at UFC 238 spoke volumes about Cejudo as a fighter. It was the type of performance that fighters make a name for themselves off of,the kind of fight that sends fighters into another stratosphere in terms of the level of respect they’ve attained. Cejudo’s officially entered that territory and no matter what you may think of his out of the cage antics, you have to give the man his due.

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UFC 238 is in the books and it was a fantastic night of action in Chicago. Kicking off the main card was a pair of heavyweights. After a promising start in the UFC, Tai Tuivasa was looking to get back into the win column against Blagoy Ivanov. The Bulgarian was coming off a win over Ben Rothwell in March and was looking to cement himself in the division’s top 15. After an action packed 15 minutes and both fighters hurting each other, it was Blagoy Ivanov who got the nod on the judges scorecards via unanimous decision to move to 2-1 in the UFC. Next up was a pivotal bantamweight bout between Jimmie Rivera and the streaking Petr Yan. Rivera was coming off a decision loss to Aljamain Sterling in February while Yan extended his perfect record in the UFC Octagon to 4-0 with a win over John Dodson in February. It was Yan who prevailed via a unanimous decision and he has put himself one fight away from a shot at the 135lbs title.

The people’s main event  was up next as fan favourite’s Tony Ferguson and Donald Cerrone squared off in a massive lightweight bout. The winner would all but guarantee a title shot. Tony was coming off a TKO win against Anthony Pettis in Ocotber while Cowboy was making his quickest turn around in his career after beating Al Iaquinta back in May. As expected, this was a war for as long as it lasted. At the end of the second round Ferguson landed a shot clearly after the bell which didn’t go down well with the crowd in Chicago. As Cowboy emerged from the stool for the start of the 3rd round, he blew his nose and with that his eye closed shut. The Doctor was called in and the fight was called a TKO win for Ferguson. He extend his winning streak to 12 since 2013.

In the co-main event, the women’s flyweight title was on the line as champion Valentina Shevchenko was looking to defend her title for the first time against Jessica Eye. Shevchenko captured the title in December 2018 against Joanna Jędrzejczyk and Jessica Eye made it 3-0 since moving down to flyweight after beating Katlyn Chookagian last year. Shevchenko showed why she was a -1500 favourite in this fight as she landed a brutal head kick at the start of the 2nd round which knocked out Eye instantly.

In the main event of the evening, Henry Cejudo was moving up in weight to challenge Marlon Moraes for the vacant bantamweight championship. Both fighters were on a combined 8 fight win streak with Cejudo starching former bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw in under 40 seconds. Moraes on the other hand, is coming off 4 wins in a row and in February got his revenge against Raphael Assunção. Moraes dominated the first round eating up the leg of the Olympic Champion. As the fight went on, Cejudo started to take over and eventually got the fight to the ground and finished Moraes via TKO in round 3 to become the fourth double champion in the UFC.

Check out their fellow pro’s reaction to an action packed night of fights in Chicago.

Henry Cejudo vs Marlon Moraes 

Congrats @HenryCejudo good call out you know I’m the biggest drawl in the division. I’ll be back to the top soon

— Cody Garbrandt (@Cody_Nolove) June 9, 2019

Well done @HenryCejudo!! Done very well to turn that around

— Alex Volkanovski (@alexvolkanovski) June 9, 2019

Valentina Shevchenko vs Jessica Eye

Congratulations @bulletvalentina on a spectacular performance. You are an amazing martial artist. God bless.

Parabéns @bulletvalentina por um desempenho espetacular. Você é um incrível artista marcial. Deus abençoe. pic.twitter.com/wuZgUm1gD5

— Cris Cyborg on Youtube (@criscyborg) June 9, 2019

Jesus, the sound from that kick. Absolutely vicious! Hopefully Jessica is okay.

— Ian McCall (@Unclecreepymma) June 9, 2019

Tony Ferguson vs Donald Cerrone

Congratulations @TonyFergusonXT! Meanwhile, @Cowboycerrone, you are one tough S.O.B. pic.twitter.com/Z0VgjkPDjP

— Carlos Condit (@CarlosCondit) June 9, 2019

Petr Yan vs Jimmie Rivera

Peter Yan is something serious ! #UFC238

— Derek Brunson (@DerekBrunson) June 9, 2019

Blagoy Ivanov vs Tai Tuivasa

Good scrap my bro @bambamtuivasa !!

— Tyson Pedro (@tyson_pedro_) June 9, 2019

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Henry Cejudo

The king of cringe reigned supreme in Chicago, surviving a vicious Round 1 kicking assault to work Moraes into retreating against the cage for the rest of the fight before threatening an anaconda choke, securing top position and TKO’ing the man into submission. I was so impressed with Cejudo tonight, and I’m hard pressed to find a man who threatens him like Moraes was supposed to threaten him. A longer, rangier fighter than Moraes may be the secret to beating the son of gold, and that fighter emerged tonight in Aljamain Sterling. Length and volume might present problems for Henry. However, Henry is the Champ Champ. If Dana is surely keeping the Flyweight division alive, I want Cejudo to defend there next against the winner of Joseph Benavidez and Jussier Formiga. That’s the fight to make.

Marlon Moraes

Riding 3 first-round finishes, “Magic” looked fantastic in Round 1, eating Cejudo alive with leg kicks and looked poised to land a big shot early, but something happened at the end of the round. It looked like Moraes wasn’t prepared for a fight that went past Round 1, his cardio gassing out and allowing Cejudo to pressure him against the cage and ultimately grind him into a TKO defeat. I’m honestly shocked cardio was the problem in Moraes’ defeat, but you can’t win them all. He looked great in Round 1 and if he can work on consistency he will remain a true threat at 135. What’s next? I would pay money to see Moraes fight a fellow fighter of UFC 238 in Pedro Munhoz or Petr Yan, but I’m more interested in a fight with Munhoz or, perhaps, a returning Dominick Cruz?

Valentina Shevchenko

Wow. What a performance by Valentina Shevchenko. I believed Shevchenko has always been a little overhyped, but I’m stunned by the excellency I saw tonight, lulling Eye into concerning about body shots and then taking her head off with a clean head kick. I’m convinced. Unless there’s a remarkable finish in the Carmouche/Modafferi fight that leapfrogs her, I want “Bullet” in the cage against Katlyn Chookagian sooner than later. Let’s keep the train moving.

Jessica Eye

Tough break for Jessica Eye, who really didn’t get a chance to implement any gameplay she had cooked up coming into tonight. She was fired up for the opportunity, but it was cut short tonight. Tonight marked the first time she was stopped with strikes. What a brutal way to lose. All of that said, however, don’t discuss retirement. Eye isn’t the retire-after-a-big-loss type. I can see her coming back in another grinding fight against the loser of Liz Carmouche and Roxanne Modafferi.

Tony Ferguson

El Cucuy is the best nickname in the sport for the most weirdly terrifying fighter in the sport. Once Tony starts getting weird and floating around the octagon like a ghost, the other guy needs to be on high alert. That’s what happened around the start of round 2 tonight, when Tony started jiving and moving smooth and landing elbows. Reminiscent of the Pettis finish (but somehow more obscene), Tony put Cowboy away but was severely disappointed in himself. I love Tony Ferguson for the weight he puts on fighting. He wants clean finishes, and he wants to be champion. This should be a victory for Ferguson, but it more than likely feels like a side-step. Book the rematch.

Donald Cerrone

Cowboy got pieced up a little tonight, and the late shot didn’t have anything to do with it. I’m not the biggest Cowboy fan, but it sucks for a fight to end the way it did tonight. He looked like Cowboy, starting slow and gaining speed. A 3-round affair was never the way to settle this fight. Book a 5-round main event rematch between these two and let them put on a show again. San Antonio?

Petr Yan

I wasn’t convinced by Petr Yan coming into tonight. I believed he looked good in his last fights, but he would hit a wall somewhere after Dodson. The wall hasn’t appeared yet, but I still don’t think Rivera was the best coming out party either. Yan looked sharp and powerful, but Rivera is not the man, as of late, who beat Uriah Faber. I’m still waiting for the big Yan performance, but I’m not feeding him someone who he can perform easily against. No, give me Petr Yan versus the winner of Assuncao and Cory Sandhagen.

Jimmie Rivera

Rivera hasn’t been the same since the Moraes KO, and Yan was able to land clean hands a the end of Rounds 1 and 2 to drop him into another decision loss. I really feel for the guy and the team at Tiger Schulmann. Can he make a comeback? Absolutely. He’s only 29 years old, with solid hands and an incredible gas tank. I think he needs to evaluate some things in the gym and get back in there after a break around October. He’s been calling for it, and with both men on losing streaks, a fight against Cody Garbrandt could be in the future.

Blagoy Ivanov

A solid, yet exhausting, effort by the Bulgarian. Ivanov dropped Tuivasa in Round 2, and attempted several guillotines, unable to put away Tuivasa but still looking solid. A little work on the gas tank and finishing ability and he’ll be looking more the threat in the Heavyweight division. Give me a fight between Ivanov and the winner of Marcin Tybura and Augusto Sakai.

Tai Tuivasa

Bursts of hilarious energy put Tuivasa in good positions throughout the fight, but he came up a bit short against the discipline and veteran ability of Ivanov. Tuivasa is simultaneously ridiculous fun to watch and frustrating as hell. He has some defensive holes to work on moving forward, and it’s too bad Justin Willis isn’t around for a fight in Australia. I am at a loss as what to do with him next. Sergei Palvovich? A debut heavyweight? I’m most comfortable with a fight against the loser of Tybura and Sakai, but who knows.

Prelim Picks:

Tatiana Suarez — see above

Nina Ansaroff — Michelle Waterson

Aljamain Sterling — see above

Pedro Munhoz — see above

Alexa Grasso — Carla Esparza

Karolina Kowalkiewicz — debut strawweight

Calvin Kattar — winner of Josh Emmett / Mirsad Bektic

Ricardo Lamas — Makwan Amirkhani

Yan Xiaonan — Felice Herrig

Angela Hill — Aleksandra Albu

Darren Stewart —  Omari Akhmedov

Bevon Lewis —  Charles Byrd

Eddie Wineland —  Luke Sanders

Grigory Popov — Andre Soukmathath

Katlyn Chookagian — (see above)

Joanne Calderwood — Jennifer Maia

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Although the ONE Championship athletes have been on a break the past few weeks, the matchmakers have clearly not.  This week ONE Championship announced a slew of interesting fights for the upcoming events in Kuala Lumpur in July and Manila in August.

Eddie Alverez vs. Eduard Folayang

In a tantalising match up, former UFC and Bellator champion Eddie Alverez (29-7-1) will fight the former ONE Championship Lightweight champion Eduard Folayang (21-7-0) in Manila.

This promises to be an interesting stylistic match up between Folayang’s wushu style and Alverez’s boxing – wrestling.  Alverez is coming off his brutal first round knock-out loss to Timofey Nastyukhin in March.  Folayang lost the lightweight belt in the same event, being submitted by Shinya Aoki.  In what is arguably the most talent laden division in ONE Championship, both these men will be eager to ensure they remain potential title contenders.

Angela Lee vs. Michelle Nicolini

Angela Lee (9-1-0) will continue her foray into the Strawweight division and challenge Brazilian grappler Michelle Nicolini (5-2-0) in Kuala Lumpur.  These two ladies know each other well, having fought each other in a grappling match in 2016 where Nicolini emerged victorious.  However, Lee is the more experienced under MMA ruleset and the better striker of the two.  Lee will probably aim to out-strike Nicolini and avoid taking the fight to the ground.

Giorgio Petrosyan vs. Petchmorakot Petchyindee Academy

A replay of the controversial quarterfinal of the ONE Championship Featherweight Kickboxing Grandprix has been scheduled for Malaysia. 

The first event in Singapore in May saw the judges score the fight in favour of the Thai fighter, only to have the result overturned a few days later and the bout declared a no-contest.  The explanation given that there was too much use of defensive clinching that was not in line with the modified K1 ruleset used by ONE Championship.  Initially reluctant to fight again, Petchmorakot was no doubt persuaded by the US$1 million prize money on the table for the winner of the Grand Prix as well as a financial sweetener for taking the rematch.  And for honour of course!

Demetrious Johnson vs. Tatsumitsu Wada

In the semi-finals of the ONE Championship Flyweight World Grand Prix, Demetrious ‘Mighty Mouse’ Johnson (28-3-1) will face the former DEEP Flyweight champion Tatsumitsu Wada (21-10-3) in Manila.  On paper, Johnson is the better fighter although with all the upsets faced by UFC fighters coming to ONE recently, he will no doubt prepare carefully.

Honorio Banario vs. Timofey Nastyukhin

Also scheduled for Manila is Team Lakay fighter Banario (14-8-0), taking the place of injured Lowen Tynanes in the ONE Lightweight Grand Prix.  Banario will face Nastyukhin (13-4-0), the man who knocked out Eddie Alvarez.  Nastyukhin is a dangerous striker and Banario needs to take care when coming into range.   

ONE Championship Masters of Destiny will take place in Kuala Lumpur on Friday 12th July

Current line-up:

·         Giorgio Petrosyan vs. Petchmorakot Petchyindee Academy (ONE Featherweight Kickboxing World Grand Prix quarterfinal)

·         Angela Lee vs. Michelle Nicolini (mixed martial arts – women’s strawweight)

·         Ev Ting vs. Daichi Abe (mixed martial arts – lightweight)

·         Abro Fernandes vs. Gurdarshan Mangat (mixed martial arts – flyweight)

·         Jihin Radzuan vs. Jomary Torres (mixed martial arts – women’s atomweight)

·         Dae Sung Park vs. Kimihiro Eto (mixed martial arts – lightweight)

·         Troy Worthen vs. Chen Rui (mixed martial arts – bantamweight)

·         Hiroki Akimoto vs. Kenny Tse (ONE Super Series kickboxing – flyweight)

·         Kai Ting Chuang vs. Janet Todd (ONE Super Series kickboxing – women’s atomweight)

·         Aleksi Toivonen vs. Akihiro Fujisawa (mixed martial arts – flyweight)

·         Saiful Merican vs. Mohammed Bin Mahmoud (ONE Super Series Muay Thai – bantamweight)

·         Adrian Mattheis vs. Liu Peng Shuai (mixed martial arts – strawweight)

·         Sorgraw Petchyindee Academy vs. George Mann (ONE Super Series Muay Thai – featherweight)

ONE Championship Dawn of Heroes will take place in Manila on Friday 2nd August

Current line-up:

·         Jonathan Haggerty vs. Rodtang Jitmuangnon (ONE Flyweight Muay Thai World Championship)

·         Eduard Folayang vs. Eddie Alvarez (mixed martial arts — lightweight)

·         Demetrious Johnson vs. Tatsumitsu Wada (ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix semifinal)

·         Danny Kingad vs. Kairat Akhmetov (ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix semifinal)

·         Honorio Banario vs. Timofey Nastyukhin (ONE Lightweight World Grand Prix semifinal)

·         Reece McLaren vs. Yuya Wakamatsu (mixed martial arts — flyweight)

·         Leandro Issa vs. Daichi Takenaka (mixed martial arts — bantamweight)

·         Ayaka Miura vs. Samara Santos (mixed martial arts — women’s strawweight)

·         Neunglanlek Jitmuangnon vs. Chris Shaw (ONE Super Series Muay Thai — bantamweight)

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Mixed Martial Arts is forever unpredictable, and the pecking order can change in an instant. A man who’s brought this to the forefront of people’s minds, more than anybody else in recent times, is Henry Cejudo.

Demetrious Johnson and TJ Dillashaw had sat upon the flyweight and bantamweight thrones respectively, and it seemed likely that these men would remain unrivaled for some time to come, unless one or the other changed divisions to fight the each other — but Cejudo had different ideas.

Despite losing his first encounter to Johnson via first round stoppage, Cejudo was still confident that he could topple the long reigning champion. In a terrific five round war, Cejudo’s Olympic calibre wrestling was enough to win via decision in one of the biggest upsets in UFC history to date.

The next challenge for the Olympian would come against Dillashaw, who had set his sights on becoming a member of the selective group of “Champ Champs.”

Dillashaw was coming off back to back wins over Cody Garbrandt, and looked to be in the greatest form of his career, so Cejudo once again found himself as the underdog. And in another shock, Cejudo not only beat Dillashaw, he walked through him en route to an early first-round stoppage.

A rematch was instantly discussed with the idea that this time Cejudo would move up to Dillahsaw’s weight in his own attempt to become a double champion, but unfortunately, a cruel reality of the sport reared its ugly head. Dillashaw tested positive for the performance enhancing drug “EPO,” and was forced to relinquish his world title.

Cejudo will still get his opportunity to become a two-weight world champion but he will meet in the Octagon, a man who may be the hardest challenge of his career.

Marlon Moraes is an extremely dangerous man, both a Jiu-Jitsu and a Muay Thai black belt, the Brazilian has done everything in the bantamweight division except win the belt.

After a split decision loss to Raphael Assunção, Moraes has been close to unbeatable ever since. He defeated John Dodson via decision, and then went on to knock out top contenders in Aljamain Sterling and Jimmy Riviera, announcing himself as a danger to any bantamweight walking planet Earth.

In a rematch against Assuncao, he emerged victorious, submitting his countryman with a guillotine. There was simply no more denying him, and Moraes was finally granted his world title shot.

In a clash which fans are highly anticipating, at UFC 238, two of the most under-appreciated fighters battle it out for the vacant bantamweight world title.

Cejudo will look to prove the doubters wrong once again to pick up his second world title, and Moraes looks to finally cement himself as a world champion. In an interesting striker vs wrestler matchup, in which the striker also has an excellent ground game, the fight will be captivating wherever it ends up, and all martial arts fanatics will be enthralled to see how this one plays out.

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I feel like this gimmick that Cejudo has been holding up all of this time is not going to pay off in the end, I’m starting think that it’s doing more damage than good. But that’s just me,perhaps to some it has some degree of entertainment and isn’t as uncomfortable to watch. But if my social media feed is any indication, its not having the desired effect, I don’t believe it is generating any more attention to Cedjudo .  Just  changing the perspective of the audience who happens to already be paying attention in the first place, but that’s the world we live in these days, the entertainment era or whatnot.

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UFC 238 is set to bring you wars this Saturday. But one bout that catches my eye, dubbed as “The Peoples Main Event” by Ariel Helwani, is between two athletes who are the definition of warriors.

A cowboy saddling up to ride into the depths of hell to find “El Cucuy” waiting for him, in what will surely be a scrap that will be talked about for years to come. Both Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone and Tony “El Cucuy” Ferguson have decorated careers, and are known to show up and leave their all in the Octagon.

Cowboy has been on a tear since deciding that UFC gold was once again his ambition, defeating the likes of Mike Perry, Alexander Hernandez, and just one month ago, Al Iaquinta, to earn himself a spot in a fight against the No. 2 ranked lightweight, and former Interim Champion Tony Ferguson. With a win over El Cucuy, Cowboy will hope to catapult himself into the title picture, and a possible title shot against the winner of Khabib vs. Poirier.

On the other end, you have “El Cucuy”, who has been on a near rampage since entering the UFC. “The Boogeyman” has an impressive record, with only one loss since joining the promotion. The TUF winner has been on an 11-fight win streak since, looking to make it 12, and as a result put himself back into title contention, and to regain something he technically never lost, but was stripped of due to a freak injury. “El Cucuy” is looking to get back what he believes is rightfully his.

Both men have incredible backgrounds and achievements, and are certain future UFC Hall Of Famers in my opinion.

This is going to be a fun fight, filled with precise combinations, sweet tumble rolls, and quite possibly a KO that will have you out of your seat. These warriors are something special and should be appreciated each time they step into the Octagon. I for one am ecstatic. Now one question remains, will “Cowboy” ride off into the sunset? Or will “El Cucuy” drag another victim down to the depths? We will find out on Saturday!

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This weekend’s UFC 238 goes down in Chicago. It is held up by the main event of Henry Cejudo vs Marlon Moraes for the vacant Bantamweight title and the co-main where Valentina Shevchenko will defend her Flyweight title against veteran Jessica Eye. Two great fights for hardcore fans.

Of course, there is also the people’s main event when Tony Ferguson makes his return to the Octagon to face a resurgent Donald Cerrone, in a lightweight tilt that must have title implications.

However, even though there are great fights up and down the card, I have not heard one person mention Ricardo Lamas (19-7) facing Calvin Kattar (19-3). It is the opening fight of the prelims and while it has no implications for the Featherweight title it does have implications in both ranking and career terms.

Ricardo Lamas has lost 2 of his last 3 fights, one of which was a devastating KO at the hands of Josh Emmett and he has dropped to 10th in the rankings. Prior to his loss to Emmett, Lamas had only lost to Jose Aldo (in his sole title fight), Chad Mendes and Max Holloway. All were elite level fighters and top of the food chain at Featherweight.

Now, as time catches up to him, he is falling down the rankings and looking more and more like a gatekeeper to the top ten. Lamas may be considering this as one of the last times he makes the walk to the Octagon.

On the flip side of this fight, Kattar is coming in during his prime. He is 31 years old and has cracked the top 15 in rankings. If he beats Lamas, then he will leapfrog into the top 10 and start being able to test himself against the top of an extremely deep division. In Kattar’s first four UFC fights, he has won 3 and dropped a close decision to Renato Moicano who was extremely close to a title shot until he got stopped by Jose Aldo.

Kattar is no joke, he is a skilled Muay Thai fighter under Boston legend Mark DellaGrotte. Calvin has finished 2 of his last 3 opponents and looks to improve with each fight, particularly with his footwork and timing. Kattar is not known for his ground game, but so far he has not had to show it.

This is where Lamas can capitalise. Lamas has a black belt in BJJ and was a division three NCAA wrestler in college. However, in recent years, Lamas has fallen in love with striking and almost abandoned his ground game. It would not be a mistake for Lamas to believe he can beat Kattar on the feet. But I personally feel that if he wants to win this fight, he may be forced to go back to his roots.

The reason this is the fight to watch though is exactly because Lamas may abandon his roots once more and turn this into a barn burner. Lamas while not a from a boxing background has superb striking and is tough as hell. Kattar though, in my opinion, will pick him apart and eventually get the win late in round 2.

This is a potential underdog for a fight of the night and everyone should tune into the prelims for this one!

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