All posts by Daniel Feliciano

Alexander Volkanovski vs Henry Cejudo

Despite the controversy around his most recent win, Alexander Volkanovski has cemented his legacy as one of the best featherweights ever.

At UFC 251, Volkanovski beat Max Holloway via a super-close decision making it back-to-back dubs against the Hawaiian. Those wins followed on from his win over Jose Aldo, meaning he’s beaten the consensus greatest featherweights of all time throughout his run.

After that win on Fight Island, Volk announced he would be moving on to new challengers in the future which is when an old face popped his head out.

After a knockout win against Dominick Cruz at UFC 249, Henry Cejudo shocked the world by announcing his retirement. He vacated his Flyweight and Bantamweight titles and walked off into the sunset, having beaten Cruz, TJ Dillashaw and ‘Mighty Mouse’ Demetrious Johnson in three of his last four bouts. Cejudo though, is apparently not quite done with the UFC.

Following UFC 251 Cejudo took to Twitter to call out Volkanovski for a featherweight title shot, stating he would knockout the ‘overgrown midget’.

Volk dismissed a fight with Cejudo, saying it does nothing for his legacy. He did however say that if the UFC paid him the right amount, he’d be happy to knock ‘Triple C’ out.

So what would happen if these two fought? It would be entertaining that’s for sure.

Cejudo ended his career as a double champ with only two losses on his record. He beat the consensus greatest flyweight of all-time Demetrious Johnson via decision, before knocking-out a steroid-using TJ Dillashaw in just 32 seconds. He followed that up with a stunning comeback knockout win of Marlon Moraes to win a second belt before becoming the first person to knockout consensus greatest bantamweight of all-time Dominick Cruz.

A hall of fame resumé if I’ve ever seen one, but those wins are draped in controversy. The win over Mighty Mouse was undoubtedly questionable, with many scoring the bout in favour of the defending champion at the time. Follow that up with the drug-test failure of TJ Dillashaw, who was dropping 10lbs in weight for the fight, and then a controversial referee stoppage in the Cruz fight and there are still lots of question marks.

UFC Fight Night: Elkins v Volkanovski : News Photo

One thing not up for debate though is Cejudo’s skill level. He is a world class wrestler; his Olympic gold medal proves that. He also carries great power in his hands as his 8 knockout wins prove. He stepped up in weight and his cardio and striking held up, so why not do it again?

The reason why not, is because Alexander Volkanovski is not your normal 145lbs featherweight. It’s well documented that ‘The Great’ is a former rugby player and at one point weighed in at 214lbs. It’s also well noted that he made the cut and has lost just once professionally, and that was at welterweight.

Volk has tremendous cardio, as shown in the Holloway bouts where he kept up with the cardio king through 5 rounds both times. He also has great striking and power but his wrestling is underrated. He has good takedown defence but is also not scared to go for takedowns of his own to secure positions. He got Holloway down several times in their second fight but he’s also shown it well in previous bouts.

His pressure is unrelenting and he’d unquestionably be the biggest man that Cejudo has fought. Volk has shown a tremendous chin in his previous fights so Cejudo would have to rely on out-wrestling a far bigger fighter to get the win.

In the end, Volk is just too big and too strong for Cejudo. I’d give the Australian the nod with a knockout win.


Chelsea Desperate For Defensive Quality In The Summer

As Chelsea rolled past Norwich City to maintain their place in third place at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday, the game seemed to ask more questions than provide answers.

Olivier Giroud missed countless chances in the first half before he finally got on the scoresheet thirty seconds before half-time to give the Blues the lead. Despite Norwich already being relegated, that was the only real action in an incident-less clash in West London.

Frank Lampard’s side have already acknowledged their struggles in attack for next season though. They have already completed the signings of Hakim Ziyech from Ajax and Timo Werner from RB Leipzig for a combined fee of around £80million and continue to be linked strongly with Leverkusen superstar Kai Havertz.

They are desperate for more goals in their side and have addressed the issue well, with time to spare before the new season for those players to bed in and be able to hit the ground running. It’s the other end of the pitch that is desperate for adjustments though.

Despite the clean sheet against Norwich, Chelsea have conceded 49 goals in the Premier League this season. That’s the most out of any club in the top half of the table and the most they’ve conceded in a single season since 1996/97 when they conceded 54.

It’s a long way away from the days when Jose Mourinho’s Blues, including Frank Lampard in midfield, conceded just 15 goals in their 38 games. While it’s unrealistic to expect them to re-live those past glories, its certainly not wrong to expect better.

Napoli v AC Milan - Serie A : News Photo
Koulibaly would be a dream signing for Chelsea but they’d have to compete with Man City

Andreas Christensen, Antonio Rudiger, Kurt Zouma and Fikayo Tomori have all played 15 games or more each in the league, which shows just how choppy Lampard has been with his selections. Add to that Cesar Azpilicueta playing 4 games at centre-back this season too and you have a man clearly unaware of his best defence.

With all those names and their experiences combined though, none of them stand out as top drawer defenders. None of them have any real leadership qualities to their name and none of them, in my opinion, love defending. As cliché as it is, you need to have defenders that love defending to be successful.

Virgil Van Dijk is one of the best ball-playing centre-backs in the world, but there’s nothing that he enjoys more than killing the opposition attack dead in it’s tracks with an interception. Raphael Varane loves breaking the lines with his passing but the joy in his eyes is unmatched compared to when he wins a foot-race with an attacker trying to counter-attack and takes the ball from him. You have to love defending. Chelsea are severely lacking that profile in their side.

With a move for Kai Havertz reportedly set to cost upwards of the £70million mark, questions need to be asked about whether the priorities are right at Chelsea at the moment. For me, there’s nothing wrong with targeting the German if you also plan on adding to your defence. If it’s one or the other though, Lampard could be making a crucial mistake not investing in a leaky defence.

Manchester City are reportedly looking at Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly, who would fit in perfectly at Stamford Bridge. While they may not be able to compete for him, there are certainly other options. The likes of Milan Skriniar, Jose Gimenez and Ruben Dias are all likely to be attainable for a price of around what they’d pay for Havertz, if not less. They’d all walk into Chelsea’s line up and instantly become the lead figure in the side, while also being of the level. It’s not just enough to improve on a player you currently have who isn’t good enough, they need to be of the correct standard. Replacing Antonio Rudiger with someone better than him, but still not good enough for Champions League calibre strikers won’t help Chelsea long term and it’s something fans need to think about when they ask for players to come in.

Liverpool waited for Van Dijk because he was the man and they wouldn’t settle for less. It was an admirable stance to take and has clearly worked out well for them. Chelsea should take note of that with their defensive targets and make the decision.

UFC Fight Island: Kattar vs Ige – Main Card Predictions

After a super successful UFC 251 card, the UFC makes a quick turn-around for it’s second card on Fight Island this week.

The card has some good fights on the undercard but the main card is where all the action After picking 12 out of 13 winners at UFC 251, I take a look at this card to see if I can maintain that success rate. You can see my prelims predictions here.

Abdul Razak Alhassan (10-1) vs Mounir Lazzez (9-1) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

With 10 wins and 10 knockouts, Alhassan is one of the biggest prospects in the welterweight division. After his first professional defeat to Omari Akhmedov, he bounced back with three big wins including in his last fight where he knocked out Niko Price in just 43 seconds. ‘Sniper’ Lazzez makes his UFC debut with a similarly impressive record, having won 8 of his 9 fights by knockout. Alhassan missed weight for this fight and they’ll now fight at a catchweight. After almost two years away due to legal troubles, ‘Judo Thunder’ will want to come back with a bang and I think we’ll see that here.
PICK – Abdul Razak Alhassan via Knockout, Round 1

Molly McCann (10-2) vs Taila Santos (15-1) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

Meatball Molly comes into this fight on a three fight win-streak, knowing that a win could see her move into the Top 15. Taila Santos came into the UFC off the back of a 15-0 record but then lost her first ever fight in the organisation by split decision. The record is incredibly padded though, having fought several women with losing records or making their pro debuts. McCann is very good at closing range down and throws good volume. She’s arguably the best fighter that Santos has ever fought and when she doesn’t wilt under the power in the first round, she will likely take over.
PICK – Molly McCann via Unanimous Decision

Jimmie Rivera (22-4) vs Cody Stamann (19-2-1) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

Cody Stamann makes a quick turnaround after his win at UFC 250, against Rivera who is looking to get back on the horse having lost three of his last four bouts. These two usually both compete at bantamweight but due to the short notice it’s been bumped up to featherweight by the UFC and should be an exciting fight. Rivera is a super well-rounded fighter, good at everything but not exceptional anywhere while Stamann is very much a wrestler. This is a bout almost guaranteed to go the distance with the two having 27 decision wins between them and I think Rivera should get it done. He’s been unlucky in his recent fights and I think he may just be a level above where Stamann is at currently.
PICK – Jimmie Rivera via Unanimous Decision

Tim Elliott (15-11-1) vs Ryan Benoit (10-6) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

A fight between two fighters coming off losses, with Elliott potentially fighting for his career in the UFC. Elliott has lost four of his last five including his last three in a row, while Benoit has yo-yo’d his last ten fights going 5-5 with no streaks involved. Elliott is very similar to another Octagon veteran in Clay Guida, in the sense that he’s just constantly active. Whether he’s striking, grappling, scrambling or defending he’s constantly busy and Benoit is unlikely to be able to keep up in the cardio department. Benoit has decent power and a big shot is his most likely path to victory, but I think Elliott does enough to earn the nod from the judges.
PICK – Tim Elliott via Unanimous Decision

Calvin Kattar (21-4) vs Dan Ige (14-2) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

A top 10 clash in the 145lbs division headlines the second card on Fight Island for the week. Calvin Kattar comes in with three wins from his last five including a vicious KO of Jeremy Stephens in his last bout. ‘Dynamite’ Dan Ige is on a six-fight win streak including a decision win over former lightweight contender Edson Barboza in his last fight. While Ige was given the nod, it was a controversial decision with many scoring it in favour of the Brazilian. He is a grappler with submissions on his record and he will look to smother Kattar’s strikes and close the distance to clinch and get a takedown. Kattar is a clear level above Ige though in my opinion on the feet but the ground game is untested. If Ige can get the takedown, then he will have the advantage. Ige was dropped three times in his win over Barboza though and Kattar will take confidence in that. In a five round war, I think Kattar will be able to land enough damage on the feet to secure a TKO win.
PICK – Calvin Kattar via Knockout, Round 4

Norwich City: Which Players Deserve To Stay In The Premier League?

After relegation back to the Championship was confirmed, Norwich City now have to figure out a way back to the promised land.

A crushing defeat to West Ham saw the Canaries get sent back down at the first attempt, having accumulated just 21 points from their 35 games so far. They have won just five games all season and their top goalscorer Teemu Pukki hasn’t scored since January.

Despite the poor season, the club have shown they have some real talent in their squad. A few players have reportedly attracted interest from clubs that will be in the Premier League next season, while others have had no news reported on their futures.

Tim Krul has proven previously that he is a top division goalkeeper. His performances at Newcastle were good and now this season he has kept his side in games they had no right to be in at times. While the truth of the matter is that no top sides will take him, the lower end of the table could see a bargain in the Dutchman.

In defence, the players haven’t given the best representations of themselves. The full-backs Max Aarons and Jamal Lewis came into the league with big reputations as exciting, young, attacking full-backs. While they’ve lived up to that billing, defensively they’ve not been nearly good enough. They’re both young though and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a mid-table side take a punt on either of them. Jamal Lewis especially has impressed me this season and I wouldn’t be shocked if Leicester moved to bring him in as a replacement for Chelsea target Ben Chilwell.

In the heart of the defence, Ben Godfrey has done okay but he showed a lot of deficiencies in his game. Aerially he isn’t the best and his tackling needs a lot of work. He’s very comfortable on the ball though which could stand him in good stead in the future. Another year in the Championship won’t do him any harm at 22 years old and could be the catalyst for another push into the Premier League the following year.

The midfield and attack is where they’ve struggled most and it’s no surprise that I only see three more members of the squad potentially in the top league next season.

Todd Cantwell, Emiliano Buendia and Teemu Pukki have all shown quality in spurts that they belong in the division.

Norwich City v Wolverhampton Wanderers - Premier League : News Photo

Cantwell is only 22 years old and has goals this season against Manchester City, Manchester United, Chelsea, Wolves and Arsenal. His general link play from the wing has been good and he’s adapted well to the physicality of the league. As a young Englishman, he will appeal to much of the league. Clubs such as Burnley, Crystal Palace and even Tottenham could do with a player of his profile and he will likely be available for a relatively low fee because of Covid-19. He has plenty of room to grow and develop more and the risk would be relatively low. Even if he was signed and didn’t perform well, due to his age and the current market you’d probably be able to sell him for a profit.

Pukki has shown that with service he knows how to find the back of the net. His 11 goals scored this season came mainly at the start of the campaign when Norwich were fearless and attacked everyone the same way. Naive? Maybe. But it showed his qualities. He’s suffered since Norwich adapted their style to try and be more defensive, resulting in his goal drought that has stretched since January now as of this writing. A club looking for goals would without a doubt be interested in him, so keep an eye on the likes of Sheffield United,Crystal Palace and Brighton who could show an interest.

Finally, the best of the bunch – Emiliano Buendia. The Argentine is only 23 years old and has been one of the better playmakers in the league this season. He has accumulated 7 assists in the league and created more chances than anyone else in the league not named Kevin De Bruyne, Jack Grealish or Trent Alexander-Arnold. His ability to beat a man and to retain possession in tight spaces mean he’d be an asset to the top sides in the division as an option for depth. Chelsea are reportedly interested in Said Benrahma from Brentford and Buendia would be an excellent alternative. Spurs and Arsenal could also do a lot worse than bringing him into their sides, with evidence suggesting his numbers would only get better in a team where he is surrounded by more quality.

Norwich will of course look to hold on to as many people as they can in the hope that they can bounce straight back. The likelihood of that though, is very low and the big boys will be circling for a bargain.

How Should Manchester City Spend Their £150m Summer Transfer Budget?

Manchester City’s summer has essentially begun already, despite the season not quite being done with yet.

The Cityzens confirmed their second placed finish in the Premier League with a 5-0 win over Brighton and then had their participation in the Champions League confirmed as CAS upheld their appeal against UEFA sanctions and overturned their two year ban from European competition.

Reports now suggest that Pep Guardiola will be given a transfer budget of £150million to rebuild his squad and challenge Liverpool to reclaim their Premier League title.

According to reports Guardiola wants five players this summer, including a centre-back, left-back and a striker. David Alaba and Kalidou Koulibaly are the prime defensive targets but surely would take a large chunk of the budget if moves were successful.

In attack, City have already lost Leroy Sane to Bayern Munich. I said recently that the club should look to replace him with young wingers such as Calvin Stengs and I stand by that with this news. He wouldn’t be too expensive, wouldn’t expect to walk into the first eleven but would add some of the qualities that the club are now missing since the German international’s departure.

In midfield, David Silva will leave the club after 10 years when this season ends. With Phil Foden seemingly being trusted more by Pep at the back end of this campaign, it seems likely that he will step into that role. The club will still likely look to bring in another midfielder though, and an option surely near the top of their list will be Fabian Ruiz. The Napoli playmaker has been superb and was been linked to Guardiola’s side last season although a move never materialised. His passing ability would make him a great like-for-like swap for Silva although if Koulibaly is a target, it’s unlikely Napoli will want to part with him too.

FC Bayern Muenchen - Training Session : News Photo
David Alaba is Manchester City’s prime target this summer

Another option that has been mentioned is Houssem Aouar. After the French season was cancelled, it left Lyon out of the Champions League places meaning they may need to sell some of their top players to raise funds. Along with Moussa Dembele and Memphis Depay, Aouar is right up there. A fee of around £30million is likely to be enough and the 22 year old’s skillset would be a welcome addition to City’s ageing midfield.

Defensively, Guardiola’s side have already been linked to Nathan Ake. The ex-Chelsea defender is highly likely to leave Bournemouth this summer, whether the club are relegated or not and it was previously reported that he is a player that Pep likes. As said when I wrote about the potential deal here, Ake may be better as a back-up option at the club with the future of John Stones up in the air.

A summer window of Alaba or Koulibaly alongside Aouar, Ake and Stengs would see City strengthen massively a squad that is already capable of winning all the major honours they compete for. Players will surely leave this summer but if Guardiola gets in the players he wants, they will once again be in the conversation for silverware come the end of the 2020/21 season.

UFC Fight Island: Kattar vs Ige – Prelims Predictions

After a super successful UFC 251 card, the UFC makes a quick turn-around for it’s second card on Fight Island this week.

The card is headlined by featherweights Calvin Kattar and Dan Ige but has some sleeper fights on the undercard for the hardcore fans to sink their teeth into.

After picking 12 out of 13 winners at UFC 251, I take a look at this card to see if I can maintain that success rate.

Jack Shore (12-0) vs Aaron Phillips (12-3) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

Welshman Jack Shore returns to the UFC after his winning debut over Nohelin Hernandez in September last year. Phillips is making his UFC debut after amassing a five-fight win streak in the WFC, including four finishes. Shore has 7 submission wins on his record but also has power in his hands with four KO’s and will be looking to take this fight to the ground. Phillips loves a head kick and that could open the door for ‘The Tank’ to secure the takedown to work for his submissions. At just 25 years old Shore is one to watch, but Phillips is no pushover himself. I think Shore will get the fight down and threaten with submissions, before ultimately getting a decision win.
PICK – Jack Shore via Unanimous Decision

Liana Jojua (7-3) vs Diana Belbita (13-5) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

Two women looking for their first wins in the UFC square off on Fight Island following defeats on their debut. Jojua was stopped by punches by Sarah Moras back in September, while Belbita was beaten on the judges scorecards by Molly McCann the following month. While Jojua had won four of her last 5 wins via submission, Belbita is no slouch on the ground. She herself has 4 submission wins on her record including 2 of her last 4 wins. The difference in this fight is the stirking. Belbita is a more well rounded fighter and has a nasty right hook. I expect her to be able to avoid any takedown attempts to outstrike ‘She Wolf’ for the decision win.
PICK – Diana Belbita via Unanimous Decision

Jared Gordon (15-4) vs Chris Fishgold (18-3-1) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

Jared Gordon will have to overcome an abundance of obstacles if he’s to be successful in this fight. ‘The Flash’ had both his cornermen test positive for Covid-19, meaning they couldn’t make the trip to Fight Island. His team-mate Paul Felder will step up from the commentary table to corner Gordon in this fight. Fishgold has lost two of his last three fights and is making his first appearance in over a year. The UK fighter is a submission specialist with 13 of his 18 wins coming via tap out. Gordon has lost 3 of his last 4 fights, being KO’d each time. The fact he’s against a grappler might be a welcome rest for his chin and his stand up game will be an advantage to him. That said, Fishgold has the physical advantage in this fight and if he can get the fight down to the ground then he may be able to keep him there for a submission.
PICK – Chris Fishgold via Unanimous Decision

Modestas Bukauskas (10-2) vs Andreas Michailidis (12-3) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)

The reigning Cage Warriors Light Heavyweight champion makes his UFC debut against Greek debutant in an interesting clash. Bukauskas has dominated in his three Cage Warriors fights, winning them all including stopping former champ Marthin Hamlet late in the fourth round of their title fight. 7 of his 10 wins have come by way of knockout. Michailidis has won his last three fights in the first round by knockout, having also won 7 of his fights by KO. This should be a fun stand-up fight. Bukauskas is a good kickboxer and will have a reach advantage over his opponent. Michailidis has fought a few bums on his way to the UFC and this will be a big step up in competition for him. I think Bukauskas makes a victorious debut in the UFC.
PICK – Modestas Bukauskas vs Knockout, Round 1

Ricardo Ramos (14-2) vs Lerone Murphy (8-0-1) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

A sleeper for fight of the night here. Ricardo Ramos bounced back from his highlight reel knockout loss to Said Nurmagomedov with back-to-back wins over Journey Newson and Luiz Garaggori, while Lerone Murphy’s UFC debut saw a split draw at UFC 242. Ramos is a silky BJJ fighter who has good wrestling, while Murphy is a solid wrestler but a very good striker. He has a great double jab which gets used a lot but he’s also great off his back and in the scramble. Against Zubaira Tukhagov he showed his ability to get back to his feet against a better pure wrestler than Ramos, so he will take confidence in that. Both fighters also have no issue with attacking submissions. Ramos has an array of spinning attacks in his arsenal but I think this fight will end up being a battle on the ground with plenty of scrambles. In what should be an entertaining, energetic fight, I’m going with a decision win for Ramos.
PICK – Ricardo Ramos via Unanimous Decision

John Phillips (22-9) vs Khamzat Chimaev (6-0) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

UFC veteran John Phillips is yet another UK fighter on the card and he takes on Swede Khamzat Chimaev who takes this fight on short notice. Phillips is a powerful middleweight who swings for the fences with every punch, while Chimaev is moving up from welterweight to take this bout. Chimaev is a very good striker but uses that technique to close the distance and get the fight to the ground. If that happens in this, you’ll see Phillips at his absolute worst as he is like a fish out of water on his back. The longer the fight goes, you’ll see Phillips’ power deplete and he’ll become even easier to take down so I expect the short-notice debutant Chimaev to win this one.
PICK – Khamzat Chimaev via Submission, Round 2

Stay tuned for the main card picks coming soon.

Manchester City UEFA Ban Overturned by CAS

Manchester City have seen their two-year ban from UEFA competitions overturned by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

The club were initially fined €30million and suspended from all UEFA competition for two-years following breaches of FFP rules and obstructing the investigation into their wrongdoings. The club immediately denied such accusations and vowed to fight the punishments. Their initial appeal was rejected but the CAS have now accepted their appeal and overturned the sanctions.

The club will now only pay a €10million fine, while they will still be able to compete in the Champions League.

That means after winning their game against Brighton this past weekend, they have secured their place in Europe’s premier club competition next season after guaranteeing a second-place finish.

An interesting line in the CAS statement revealed that while there is evidence of City’s wrongdoings, some of them were “time-barred” as they happened over five years ago. This means that Manchester City can’t be prosecuted or punished for what they did.

The decision means that the Premier League will have it’s traditional Top 4 places in next season’s Champions League, meaning two of Leicester, Chelsea, Manchester United and Wolves will miss out. The chasing clubs had been hoping the ban would be upheld, which would allow fifth place in the league to take their place and qualify.

With that now not an option, the final three games of the season take on even more meaning for the four clubs who will play each other on the final day of the season.

Whilst I believe it’s not a surprise that the ban has been overturned, it is disappointing. FFP has been put in place for a number of years now and Man City have clearly broken the rules. For them to escape punishment is a kick in the teeth to clubs around Europe who have worked tirelessly to follow these rules for risk of sanction.

FFP is essentially non-existent to top clubs at this point and needs to be re-evaluated if it is to have the desired effect in the future.

UFC 251 Fallout: What Next for Holloway & Aldo?

After a fantastic card on Fight Island, the UFC has a new Bantamweight champion and a new contender in the GOAT conversation at Featherweight.

With the vacant title on the line in the 135lbs division, Russian Petr Yan lived up to ‘No Mercy’ moniker as he scored a 5th round TKO victory over Jose Aldo, while Max Holloway was controversially pipped on the scorecards once again in his rematch with Alexander Volkanovski at 145lbs.

The results mean the UFC have new chapters beginning in those divisions. Volk has beaten Aldo and now Holloway twice, meaning he will almost certainly move on to new challengers next time out. Yan’s win means Aldo has lost both of his fights in his new weight class, confirming that his best is most definitely behind him.

But where do they go from here? Holloway hasn’t fought in a non-title fight since 2016 while Aldo’s downward spiral now reads 3-6 across two divisions since his 13 second KO defeat to Conor McGregor in December 2015.

In Holloway’s case, the door isn’t completely shut. In his post-fight press conference UFC president Dana White slammed “bad judging” and made it clear he had ‘Blessed’ winning on his scorecard. When asked whether that means he could be granted a trilogy fight despite losing the first two White responded, “we’ll see what happens.” Volkanovski however was adamant he was putting this rivalry behind him and moving on to new contenders.

UFC 251: Volkanovski v Holloway : News Photo
Despite most media scoring it in his favour, Holloway lost a split decision in his rematch with Volkanovski at UFC 251

If Volkanovski does move on to new contenders, it leaves Max in limbo. #2 ranked Zabit Magomedsharipov is currently scheduled to fight #5 ranked Yair Rodriguez, while he’s already beaten #3 ranked Brian Ortega who’s expected to fight #4 ranked Chan Sung Jung a.k.a The Korean Zombie. Unless Max is willing to wait for those results to come through and fight one of those fighter to determine a new No.1 contender, it’s likely that he may have to look at fighting way down the rankings against #6 Calvin Kattar, who fights on Fight Island later this week against Dan Ige.

Another option could be a potential move to lightweight. After a move up to try and become a ‘champ-champ’ Holloway got beaten convincingly by Dustin Poirier in April 2019. While his cardio carried well his volume didn’t quite have the same effect it usually does on the bigger opponent. Poirier is of course one of the absolute best at 155lbs, so maybe Max could look to start slightly lower down against someone like Cowboy Cerrone or Al Iaquinta and work his way up against new opponents in a new weight division.

For Aldo, the decision is tougher. After dominating for so long, he has struggled in recent years to maintain that consistency in the Octagon. After dropping down to Bantamweight he lost to Marlon Moraes in a controversial decision, which led to him getting this title shot to begin with. But now after losing that too, he surely goes to the back of the queue. With 135lbs so stacked at the moment, he may never get another chance. Aljamain Sterling, Cody Stamann, Corey Sandhagen, Cody Garbrandt, Marlon Moraes, Frankie Edgar and Sean O’Malley are all looking to become challengers to the throne in the near future which means Aldo will have to go against them. He may now act as a gate-keeper for some of the younger talent, which would be a damn shame considering just how good he was and still is.

At 33 he is still in his physical prime but because of all the wars he has already been through, his body seems like it may have had enough. Retirement is for sure a very real option for ‘The King of Rio’ and he would still go down as one of the best to ever do it. We often talk about how we always hope fighters don’t stick around for too long and damage their legacy for the sake of a pay-cheque and Aldo is now in that very scenario.

Despite how sad it is for long time fans of the two, it’s a positive for the UFC. They are continuing to develop and produce talent of a world class calibre and now have two new stars at the head of their respective divisions. All is not lost for the company, but two of the best ever now need to make a decision on their futures.

UFC 251 Results (Highlights)


Davey Grant def Martin Day via KO – (Round 3, 2:38)

A fun first round on Fight Island as the two Bantamweights both striking well with each other and landing. Day lands a big right hand that cracks the chin of Grant and drops him, but the Scotsman survives and gets back to his feet. The knockdown the biggest influencer of the first round and it goes to Day. 10-9.

Second round and Grant is being very aggressive. He’s looking to end it early but Day is evading well. Some big shots land but nothing significant really lands. Grant takes the round based purely off his aggression. 19-19.

Third round and Grant is being aggressive again. Day is begin to get tired and is evading less and less. He’s throwing wildly and Grant is doing well to keep the pace up. Both fighters go for a big shot and Day hits nothing but air. Grant hits a nice body shot and follows up with a vicious left hook that flattens Day and knocks him unconscious! Unbelievable punch and a brutal knockout win!

Grant tells Dana White after the fight that he broke his jaw in the first round. I’m assuming it was the knockdown punch, so kudos to him for fighting through it and getting a knockout of his own.

Karol Rosa def Vanessa Melo via Unanimous Decision (30-26 x2, 30-27)

Two Brazilian women competing in a catchweight bout after Melo missed weight by 5lbs. Rosa starts strong and fast, landing big volume of strikes while Melo tries to feel her out. Both fighters landing shots and Rosa loses balance a few times but generally is getting the better of the standing exchanges. She ends the round with a takedown and some ground and pound.

Second and third round are much more of the same. Rosa completely dominant on the feet and landing takedowns at will. Melo has been completely outclassed and while there are no significant highlights from this fights, it’s as dominant as you’re likely to see on the card tonight.

Raulian Paivia def Zhalgas Zhumagulov via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)

The classic striker vs grappler battle sees a very even first round. Paivia is taking the centre of the Octagon well and Zhumagulov is attacking the legs as expected. Lots of takedown attempts but Paivia does very well to stuff them and land counters, but they don’t look particularly powerful. Zhumagulov lands a takedown very late that could have stolen him the opening round. 10-9 Zhumagulov.

Second round is more of the same but Zhumagulov seems to have warmed up a bit. He’s more aggressive coming forward and landing with shots a bit more but Paivia doing his best to keep his distance. More back and forth action with each Paivia using his length well to land jabs and keep away. Zhumagulov ends the round with another takedown very late but this round is likely his anyway.

Third round starts with a bit more urgency from Paivia as he starts throwing combinations. Zhumagulov doesn’t change tact though and continues with haymakers and takedown attempts. Paivia though stuffs them all but then lands an accidental groin strike to cause a pause in the action. The fight resumes and Paivia stuffs three big takedown attempts before the round comes to an end. I scored it 29-28 to Zhumagulov, but the judges go the other way.

Marcin Tybura def Maxim Grishin via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x2, 30-26)

A very, very slow fight this one with not a lot of action.

Tybura pushed forward for the first two rounds and landed late takedowns with neither fighter landing anything significant whatsoever. In the third, Tybura got the takedown earlier and in the end did more than enough to secure a dominant win.

The less said about this fight though, the better.


Leonardo Santos def Roman Bogatov via Unanimous Decision (29-26 x3)

Opening round is a fun one, with Santos landing some nice strikes and Bogatov showing unrelenting pressure and he looks for the takedown. Lots of unorthodox movement from the Russian and spinning attacks to go with it but nothing significant lands from either fighter. 10-9 Bogatov for the pressure.

Second round starts with Bogatov a bit more aggressive than the first. Actively shooting for takedowns now but Santos is calm and composed. Santos lands a huge straight right hand, then another, then another to rock Bogatov. Santos is looking for the finish but Bogatov is still standing. A huge head kick drops Bogatov and Santos goes for the ground and pound but Bogatov is responding to referee Marc Goddard’s calls for him to fight back. Santos has punched himself out now and Bogatov ends up on top against the cage. The round somehow ends with Bogatov landing bombs of his own on top of Santos. 19-19 for me but Bogatov saved himself a potential 10-8 round there.

Probably the craziest round you’re likely to see, ever. The round begins with both men completely exhausted. A takedown attempt by Bogatov against the cage ends with a knee to the groin and Santos is in agony. After taking the full five minutes to recover they get back into it and Bogatov once again is attacking the body and going for takedowns. He lands ANOTHER groin strike and Goddard gives him a stern warning, that he’ll take points from him if there are any other fouls in this fight. Santos is still absolutely exhausted and Bogatov gets him against the cage looking for a takedown. Inexplicably though, Bogatov lands a huge knee flush to the face of Santos while he has a knee on the ground causing Goddard to pause the bout again with a minute to go. The referee deducts TWO points from Bogatov and that’s enough to give Santos the decision win.

Makwan Amirkhani def Danny Henry via Submission (Anaconda choke) – (Round 1, 3:15)

A sleeper for fight of the night here as these two lock horns in the centre of the Octagon. Henry looking to feel his way into range with his boxing but Amirkhani looks razor sharp. A flying knee lands clean for Mr. Finland and he follows it up with a takedown. He takes the back and has a hook in immediately before switching to a modified Anaconda choke. Henry is fighting the choke but Amirkhani has it locked in strong. Referee checks the arm of Henry and it’s completely limp. He’s out cold! Impressive victory for Makwan Amirkhani.

Muslim Salikhov def Elizeu Dos Santos via Split Decision (30-27, 29-28, 28-29)

A very touchy, feely first round between two top strikers. Both fighters feeling their way into this one and it takes a few minutes before we see them opening up. Salikhov lands a nice spinning back kick and Dos Santos replies with a spin kick of his own. Dos Santos lands a heavy right hand that hurts Salikhov and he goes for the finish. Salikhov ducks the next punch and lands a takedown, but Dos Santos ends up on top landing ground and pound as the round ends. 10-9 Dos Santos.

Second round more of the same again. Dos Santos happy to stand and strike with Salikhov interestingly, despite his advantage on the ground. Spin attempt from ‘Capoeira’ sees Salikhov throw him to the floor but he waits for him to get back up. Seconds later, Dos Santos lands another big right hand that rocks Salikhov but once again the Russian lands a takedown to recover. Both fighters attempt some spinning attacks and land some good strikes to see out the round, but the big right that rocked Salikhov has likely won Dos Santos this round too. 20-18.

Broadcast tells us that between rounds both corners told their respective fighter that they believed they were 2-0 up. Predictably then, the third round starts with a bit more conservative energy. Dos Santos using his reach well and landing jabs but Salikhov is throwing kicks freely. Neither fighter looks like they want to commit to trying to get a finish, likely working off the advice from their corners. Not a lot of output from either fighter as we enter the final minute, with both happy to see this go to the judges. Salikhov’s round for the extra pressure but nothing in it. 29-28 Dos Santos for me.

Jiri Prochazka def Volkan Oezdemir via Knockout – (Round 2, 0:49)

An interesting first round begins with Prochazka almost talking to himself to hype up. Oezdemir throwing his left hand but Prochazka looking to walk through it. Lots of feints and Oezdemir lands a big left hook that wobbles the debutant! Prochazka fights through it though and continues to swing with his own punches but his hands are so low and he’s very open to counters. First round ends but it was very, very entertaining. 10-9 Volkan.

Second round begins with more of the same strange movements from Prochazka. Oezdemir lands a nice left hand but Prochazka follows it up with a low kick and then a head kick that lands clean. Oezdemir is wobbled and Prochazka marches forward. He fakes the flying knee to back Oezdemir against the cage, then lands a flush one-two down the pipe to knock Volkan out cold. What a knockout. What a debut!


Amanda Ribas def Paige VanZant via Submission (Armbar) – (Round 1, 2:21)

VanZant steps out in the first round already emotional from her walk out. Ribas lands a leg kick and they engage in a clinch. Ribas clearly much physically stronger and she gets a head and arm throw against the cage. RIbas lands some nice strikes before transitioning to take the back. Ribas locks in an armbar, goes belly down and despite VanZant’s attempts to escape she’s forced to tap. That’s a wrap for VanZant’s UFC career.

Rose Namajunas def Jessica Andrade via Split Decision (29-28 x2, 28-29)

A fun first round starts off with Rose taking the centre and using her huge reach advantage to land jabs, much like their first bout. Andrade is bouncing around a lot, moving her head off the centre line and not charging forward nearly as much as before. Rose isn’t afraid of the wild exchanges and her precise techniques landing her clean shots but she’s not completely avoiding damage. Andrade engages in a clinch but Rose throws a lovely knee into the chin as the round comes to a close. 10-9 Namajunas.

More of the same in the second round and Rose is looking comfortable. Andrade throwing leg kicks as Rose goes for a big flying knee but misses. Huge body shot lands by Andrade but then Rose lands a big hook of her own. Andrade starting to throw wild hooks but Rose is moving away well. Namajunas goes for a flying knee again and misses, ending up on her back but she pops up again well. Nice one-twos landing from Rose as Andrade engages in a clinch, but Rose throws an elbow on the break to get away unscathed. Fight ends with both exchanging in the pocket. 20-18 Rose.

Final round and both fighters believe they’re up on the scorecards. Andrade throwing a lot of left hooks but Rose using her jab well and staying at distance to avoid damage. Andrade lands a right hand to draw blood from Namajunas’ nose and she’s starting to get hit more than the previous rounds. Andrade lands a left hook that rocks Rose and then she grabs a takedown. Rose threatens with an armbar and a triangle choke before pushing Andrade off and bouncing back up without taking any more damage. Both women landing power shots as we enter the final minute as Andrade presses forward with powerful strikes again. Rose shoots in for the takedown and gets it but Andrade reverses the position immediately before popping back up to her feet. Both women land one more big shot each before the buzzer goes. Andrade round but Rose should get the decision. 29-28.

Petr Yan def Jose Aldo via Knockout – (Round 5, 3:24)

Both fighters showing respect to each other in the first round as they try to claim control of the centre of the Octagon. Both guys throwing out jabs but the first big punch is landed by Yan, who throws a right overhand that lands flush on Aldo’s chin. The Brazilian returns with a heavy calf kick that sends the Russian to the ground but he bounces back up immediately. Aldo shoots for a takedown towards the end of the round but Yan scrambles and earns top position, then lands big ground and pound. Aldo looks hurt and shells up as Yan lands some bombs but he survives the round. 10-9 Yan.

Aldo throwing a lot more leg kicks in the second round, troubling Yan. The Russian isn’t scared to stand in the pocket with Aldo though and is landing some nice punches in the exchanges. Aldo landing more jabs now and starting to make Yan miss but not much action in the second round. 19-19.

Jose Aldo working the body really well in this third round. Ripping left hooks into body constantly, Yan is struggling to make anything land. Aldo lands a nice knee to the head but Yan walks straight through it without any problems. Yan being forced to fight southpaw because of the damage his leg has taken but the strikes are beginning to land now. Yan lands a nice combo and a big elbow on Aldo as the Brazilian starts to fade into the final minute of the round. Round ends with a big land by Yan in a very close round. Despite that, I’m giving the round to Aldo but it could have gone either way. 29-28 Aldo.

Yan looks fresher coming into this round and he lands a nice body kick early in the round. Aldo lands a big body shot but Yan responds immediately with a one-two on the chin of the Brazilian. Clinch in the centre and both fighters throw out knees and body strikes before Yan attempts a sweep to take Aldo down, but he manages to keep his balance. Yan starting to hunt Aldo down across the Octagon, with Aldo constantly retreating and covering up. Big shots from Yan and he sweeps the legs of Aldo and gets him down. Yan standing over a grounded Aldo and just landing big shots but the round comes to an end before he can finish it. Without doubt a Yan round. 38-38.

Fifth round starts and Yan lands a huge one-two immediately that drops Aldo! More ground and pound and Aldo is hurt. Yan has a crucifix position against the cage and is landing big punches and elbows on Aldo. Amazing ground and pound from Yan, Aldo is in huge trouble. Heavy, heavy shots to the head going unanswered but the referee is giving him every chance to fight back. Yan continues to land, Aldo is done but the referee won’t call it. More big elbows and punches and the referee finally steps in to call it. Petr Yan is the world champion!

Alexander Volkanovski def Max Holloway via Split Decision (48-47 x2, 47-48)

Very, very cagey first round from both competitors in this rematch. Volkanovski has landed a few leg kicks but Max is moving well and avoiding most punches. Holloway lands a nice one-two and Volkanovski gets wobbled and instead of jumping on it, Blessed mocks him instead! A flying knee attempt from Holloway missed before a head kick lands right at the end of the round and drops Volkanovski. He pushes the pressure but the horn goes. 10-9 Holloway.

Second round starts calmly, with Holloway using kicks very well in this fight. Max lands a big combo to the body and head that forces Volkanovski to acknowledge it with a nod. Volkanovski pushing forward but he’s swinging wildly and being outclassed at the moment. End of the round approaching and Holloway steps in and lands a big uppercut that drops Volkanovski once again. Big punch from Max and it gives him the round once again. 20-18 Blessed.

Third round opens up with more of the same as Holloway is controlling the range brilliantly with his kicks. Some nice punches from both and then Volkanovski shoots in deep for a takedown. Holloway defends it well and it leads to a clinch against the cage. Holloway shows his strength to stave off any attempts before letting off a knee on the break. Volkanovski leads with a strong left hook but Max looks totally composed in this fight. Alexander lands some jabs and leg kicks but as the round comes to an end it’s hard to see him winning this on the scorecards. 30-27 Holloway.

Volkanovski landing a lot of leg kicks in the fourth and the bruising on Holloway’s thigh is very obvious. Alexander using jabs and left hooks to close the distance but Holloway just returns fire every single time. Clinch in the centre and Volk trips Max and gets the fight to the floor. He steps over the guard of his opponent but Holloway gets his back against the cage and manages to get back to his feet very quickly. Volkanovski landing more shots now and he has Max thinking about the leg kicks again. End of the round, Max gets on the board. 39-37 Holloway.

Final round but it could easily be 2-2 on the scorecards and the fighters know it. Holloway lands a nice left hook that Volkanovski acknowledges but then he comes back with some shots of his own. Volk clinches and pushes Max against the cage but once again ‘Blessed’ gets away relatively easily. Halfway through and both fighters still look good for cardio. Both fighters exchanging strikes and eating heavy punches, then Volkanovski shoots in for a takedown and secures it. Once again, Holloway gets his back to the cage and gets back to his feet almost immediately. Volk lands a nice left hand as we enter the final round and then he shoots for a takedown again, but Holloway stuffs it. Final seconds of the fight and Volk finally gets a takedown and lands a strike on the ground before the buzzer goes. I have it 3-2 to Holloway, 48-47. What a fight.

Kamaru Usman def Jorge Masvidal via Unanimous Decision (50-45 x2, 49-46)

First round starts with Masvidal landing lots of kicks to the leg of Usman, who swings a wild right hand and misses. Masvidal throws a body kick that Usman catches and sends him to the floor and gets on top. Usman lands a big elbow but Masvidal smiles and eventually gets back to his feet without any more damage. Masvidal is winning the striking exchanges on the feet with his speed advantage. 10-9 Masvidal after Round 1.

Second round starts with Usman going straight for the leg of Masvidal looking for a takedown. Masvidal stuffs it yet again. Usman lands a nice right hand as they break, which sees Gamebred respond with a hook but Usman ducks and initiates another clinch. Lots of body work from both fighters in the clinch, but it seems like Usman is just simply trying to wear Masvidal out. 19-19 after 2.

Third round is more of that same, with Usman clinching but not able to get the takedowns. Masvidal is defending superbly against the cage though, forcing Usman to just really use foot stomps. More body work from both and Usman hits Masvidal a bit too low for the referees liking and there’s a pause in the action. On the restart there is some jostling and Masvidal goes for that switch-stance punch that KO’d Darren Till, however Usman reads it and shoots for the takedown. ‘Gamebred’ gets back up but Usman shows his strength advantage and drags him back down. Usman gets into Masvidal’s guard and starts landing big elbows as the round comes to a close. 29-28 Usman.

Start of the fourth and Usman lands a big body kick before shooting for another takedown. Masvidal stuffs it against the cage again and the clinch ensues, with Usman landing foot stomps and shoulder strikes. They separate briefly but Usman goes back in for the takedown, forcing Masvidal to give up his back as they get back to their feet. ‘Gamebred’ spins back into a clinch and it’s more of the same offence. Masvidal explodes with strikes and forces the separation, but Usman goes straight back in for a clinch. Usman lands a big right hand on the chin before engaging in yet another clinch with foot stomps and shoulder strikes. Masvidal is visibly tired now but still looks dangerous when they engage, it’s just not often enough.

Round 5 starts with both men squaring off and Usman lands a nice jab. Usman goes for the takedown once again and manages to turn the corner to complete it this time. Usman sitting on top of Masvidal as he tries to get out but ‘The Nigerian Nightmare’ is just too strong. Usman tries to advance to mount but ‘Gamebred’ explodes out. Usman holds him in a front face lock as we enter the final minute. Masvidal manages to get back to his feet but Usman too strong in the clinch and lands more body blows. Masvidal giving it everything in the last 30 seconds, moves for the flying knee but Usman avoids it. The klaxon goes and the two exchange words at the end but it should be nothing but an Usman unanimous decision win.