Tag Archives: Beneil Dariush

Beneil Dariush withdraws from UFC Vegas 49 main event, Bobby Green replaces him

UFC Vegas 49 has hit a major road block after Beneil Dariush was forced to withdraw from the main event with an ankle injury.

Dariush was scheduled to face off with Islam Makhachev in a huge lightweight title eliminator bout, with the winner expected to face the winner of Charles Oliveira vs Justin Gaethje later this year.

But with Dariush out, the UFC have moved quickly to replace him in the bout and Bobby Green will step in on just ten days notice to take the fight.



Green most recently fought at UFC 271 last weekend, earning a unanimous decision victory over Nasrat Haqparast on the main card with an impressive striking performance.

It was his fifth win in his last seven bouts and a second consecutive victory, having knocked out Al Iaquinta in the first-round at UFC 268 in November previously.

But he will step into the cage to fight Makhachev, who many see as the next champion in the division, on a nine-fight win streak and ready to challenge for the championship.

Due to the short notice nature of the bout, it will be contested at a 160-pound catchweight according to ESPN’s Brett Okamoto.

Dariush’s injury was said to have happened just this week, with Okamoto claiming to have been present at the gym when the incident took place.

He says as Dariush went for a takedown in training, his toe got caught in the mat and as he and his partner’s weight came crashing down it left his foot in a very awkward position and thus causing some quite ‘severe’ damage.

There is no time-frame on Dariush’s return to the octagon, however it seems as though his chances of getting into the title picture in the immediate aftermath are now in doubt.

A win for Makhachev will likely cement his place as the number one contender for the title later this year, but a win for Green could see one of the most remarkable MMA stories in recent years.

As of writing, Green isn’t even ranked in the UFC lightweight rankings but will be taking on the number four fighter in the world.

UFC Vegas 49 is scheduled to take place at the Apex Centre in Las Vegas on February 26th.

Beneil Dariush and Islam Makhachev agree to main event bout

The UFC lightweight division has been given a huge fight early on in 2022 as Beneil Dariush and Islam Makhachev have agreed to fight.

The two top-five lightweight contenders have both been making their own individual claims for a potential title shot in their next fight, but it seems they’ve been told another win is needed to make that happen.

Now Dariush and Makhachev will face off on February 26th 2022 in a main-event bout to decide who deserves the next title shot between the two of them.



Dariush has been on a killer win-streak as of late, racking up a seven-fight win streak with victories over the likes of Thiago Moises, Drew Dober, Drakkar Klose, Carlos Diego Ferreira and most recently Tony Ferguson in a dominant performance at UFC 262.

Makhachev’s win streak is even more impressive, racking up an incredible ten-fight run which includes stoppage wins over Dober, Moises and Dan Hooker most recently at UFC 267.

The bout being made between the two of them almost guarantees that Justin Gaethje will get the next title shot, following his win over Michael Chandler at UFC 267 in a brilliant performance.

Dustin Poirier is currently scheduled to face Charles Oliveira at UFC 269 for the 155lbs title on December 11th, and the winner is expected to defend against Gaethje at some point in 2022.

The winner of this Dariush vs Makhachev bout would then be firmly placed to challenge the winner of that fight, having extended their win streak and added a top-five ranked opponent to their resumΓ©.

Ali Abdelaziz, who manages both fighters, was quoted by ESPN as stating this would be a number one contender fight.

“I don’t like it when two guys who I really love have to fight, but these two have worked their whole lives to become a champion and this is a No. 1 contender match,” Abdelaziz said.

“Whoever wins this fight will fight for the title, so who am I to tell them not to fight? They’re at the top and I wish both guys the best of luck.”

Abdelaziz also confirmed that both fighters had agreed and signed new contracts with the UFC as part of the negotiations for this fight.

Booking the UFC lightweight division after UFC 268

After UFC 267 and UFC 268 took place in consecutive weeks, the lightweight division has moved significantly forward in terms of the title picture.

After such a long period of domination by Khabib Nurmagomedov at the top of the mountain, it took a while for Dana White and the UFC to move on from him and help the division forward.

But with the title fight at UFC 262 which saw Charles Oliveira crowned champion, we finally got movement. Now, the UFC has finally stepped forward.



At UFC 267 it was Islam Makhachev who took the headlines at 155lbs. The man who is regarded as the heir to Khabib’s throne by the man himself took on Dan Hooker in a fight that many expected to be the toughest of his career.

Instead, Makhachev walked through the New Zealand native with an immediate takedown and then a nasty kimura lock to earn a first-round submission win.

It means a nine-fight win streak and a move up to fourth in the UFC rankings, with many believing he is now the obvious next contender for the title against the winner of UFC 269’s main event between the champion Oliveira and Dustin Poirier.

One person who didn’t believe that however was the man who is currently ranked at number two – Justin Gaethje.

Gaethje took on Michael Chandler at UFC 268 on Saturday night and in the undoubted fight of the year (and my personal favourite fight ever) went to war, with the belief that a win earned him another shot at the belt.

In a stunning back and forth bout where both men were hurt several times, ‘The Highlight’ came out victorious via a unanimous judge’s decision – his first since time going the distance since 2014.

But those results and performances have given the UFC a headache-and-a-half going forward. How does the UFC book the division now for 2022? We’ve had a go at doing it ourselves.


Winner of Oliveira/Poirier vs Islam Makhachev

This shouldn’t be controversial at all, but Makhachev absolutely deserves the next title shot.

A nine-fight win streak, beating excellent guys along the way and now starting to add finishes to his resumΓ© too. He has the skillset to really cause a problem for either guy and both would be fresh match ups. Not to mention that he’s never had a title shot before.

Loser of Oliveira/Poirier vs Justin Gaethje

It may seem harsh to give Gaethje someone coming off a loss, but it makes sense. Gaethje’s last fight before the Chandler war was a title shot in which he was largely dominated, so to go straight back in for the belt after just one fight seems unfair when Makhachev exists.

Just like Robert Whittaker up a few divisions, Gaethje should beat the top guys and earn the spot back. A win over either Oliveira or Poirier after their title fight would mean he has no equal in terms of deserving a title shot.

Beneil Dariush vs Michael Chandler

Beneil Dariush reacts after defeating Tony Ferguson in their lightweight bout during the UFC 262 event at Toyota Center on May 15, 2021 in Houston,...

The forgotten man in the top five is Dariush, but he has a huge claim to being close to the title too. Currently on a seven-fight win streak after dominating Tony Ferguson at UFC 262, Dariush took some time away for his family with his wife pregnant.

But come 2022 he is likely to be ready to trade leather again, and who better than the former Bellator champ? Dariush only has the one marquee win, so may need to be built up a little more for a title shot and a win over Chandler would absolutely do that.

For Chandler, it’s a chance to put this most recent defeat behind him but also a reward for such a good performance despite the result. His stocks will have only risen with that fight, so there’s no harm in this match-up.

Conor McGregor vs Rafael Dos Anjos

Rafael dos Anjos of Brazil and Conor McGregor of Ireland face off during the UFC 197 on-sale press conference event inside MGM Grand Hotel & Casino...

You can’t talk about lightweight without mentioning Conor McGregor but after back-to-back losses to Poirier at UFC 257 and UFC 264, the UFC should have him fighting someone slightly lower down in the rankings.

Dos Anjos is desperate for another run at the title at 155lbs, but his first reign with the belt put him on a collision course with the Notorious one, until a broken foot ultimately led to the now legendary McGregor-Diaz feud.

There is a back-story for the company to build on, animosity to fuel McGregor, a payday for Dos Anjos and the chance to work their way up the rankings for both fighters. It just makes sense.

Planning out 2021 for the UFC lightweight division

The lightweight championship is no longer vacant as the ‘Do Bronx’ era began at UFC 262 when Charles Oliveira knocked out Michael Chandler in Houston, Texas.

The 31-year-old made it nine wins in a row at 155lbs with a second round stoppage, after surviving a scare in the first round to become the 11th undisputed world champion in the organisation’s history to take over from Khabib Nurmagomedov.

While the belt is now occupied, the division is far from settled with so many top contenders immediately ready to challenge and ensure he isn’t just a paper champion.

So how does the division play out going forward? Oliveira is the champion and seems ready to take on all comers but the top six ranked guys can all be paired up together but what is the best way to do it, so that the next contender makes sense?

Well the obvious next contender is the winner of the Dustin Poirier vs Conor McGregor trilogy at UFC 264.

The two fought back in 2014 in the featherweight division, with Notorious getting the first round knockout win en route to his stunning title win over Jose Aldo before claiming the lightweight crown from Eddie Alvarez.

They met again in January of this year in a rematch but this time at 155lbs, with a very different result. Poirier used calf kicks brilliantly to destabilise McGregor’s movement and while the Irishman landed some big shots, ‘Diamond’ was able to come through them this time and eventually get a huge knockout win of his own in the second round.

Opponents Dustin Poirier and Conor McGregor pose face off for media during the UFC 257 press conference event inside Etihad Arena on UFC Fight Island...

That win should have seen Poirier challenge for the title in his next bout, but instead he opted to take the money fight with McGregor for a final trilogy bout – something he was praised for by UFC president Dana White.

Poirier is the most deserving man in the division for a title shot and McGregor is still without a doubt the biggest name in the sport, despite winning just once at lightweight in his entire UFC career. It’s the obvious fight to make, with Poirier’s run undeniable if he wins again while McGregor would be “back” and would be the fight Oliveira wants too as his first defence.

Justin Gaethje is still waiting in the wings for an opponent after his defeat to Khabib back at UFC 254, and the perfect choice for him could be the man who is looking to break into the top five once again – former champion Rafael Dos Anjos.

The Brazilian was the champion at 155lbs once upon a time and after a venture into welterweight where he was successful until his lack of size paid dividends against the elite of the division, he moved back down.

Since returning he got a big win over Paul Felder on short notice to push himself into the top ten and stylistically would prove a good match up against Gaethje. Both guys have a great grappling background, but are excellent strikers on the feet too and would prove to be excellent competition for one another.

Justin Gaethje of the United States celebrates after defeating Tony Ferguson of the United States in their Interim lightweight title fight during UFC...

Neither have fought since the back end of 2020 and would both be available to make a fight happen any time soon, although whether Gaethje would be willing to go against the number six ranked guy is up for debate.

The other option for Gaethje is a fight against UFC 262’s other big lightweight winner, Beneil Dariush. The Iranian dominated Tony Ferguson to a unanimous decision win in the co-main event to break into the top five and with Gaethje ranked at number two it’s certainly a fight that would make sense.

The issue with that, is that Dariush is expecting his first child next month and told everyone in his post-fight interview with Joe Rogan that he doesn’t expect to come back to the cage until the end of the year or even early next year.

That would mean over a year out of the cage for Gaethje, which isn’t something that he’s likely to be happy about. For that reason, the UFC can look to pair Dariush up with the beaten challenger Chandler in their next fight as they both look to get to the top of the mountain again.

Chandler would be afforded the chance to recover from the vicious knockout he suffered, but also keep himself in the picture with a fight against a top five guy knowing that a win could set him up to get back into title contention as soon as possible.

Charles Oliveira of Brazil holds the belt after defeating Michael Chandler during their Championship Lightweight Bout at the UFC 262 event at Toyota...

So we have a mini tournament bracket that has Oliveira as the champion, with the winner of Poirier vs McGregor getting the next title shot. Gaethje vs Dos Anjos and Dariush vs Chandler, with the winners fighting each other potentially to see who would fight the winner of the original title fight.

Who’s in?

UFC 262 Fallout: Who can beat Oliveira? Tony Ferguson is finished

It’s the beginning of a new era at 155lbs as Charles Oliveira defeat Michael Chandler at UFC 262 to become the 11th undisputed lightweight champion.

It was a rocky start for the Brazilian, as ‘Iron’ Mike was able to close the distance quickly and effectively using his right cross to the body before going upstairs with a couple of hard shots. Those punches took their toll on Oliveira who ended the first round on his back eating big punches, thankful for the buzzer.

Chandler came out rather excited in the second round but his world came crumbling down around him as just 19 seconds later the referee was waving the bout off in ‘Do Bronx’s favour.

The commentary team had spent the entire build up to the fight talking about how Oliveira threw all his strikes with perfect technique and in straight lines, and it was on full display in the finish of this fight.

The 31-year old slipped a barrage of strikes from Chandler, who clearly wanted to take advantage of the fact he’d hurt Oliveira in the round previous, and landed a stunning left hook right on the button to put his opponent down.

He moved in for the kill immediately, landing punches, a knee and an elbow before Chandler tried to create space by moving away. But Oliveira refused to allow him that breathing room and chased him around the cage, before landing another big left hand that put his lights out.

The scenes following the referee’s stoppage were something to behold, as Oliveira climbed the cage and went straight to the commentary table to tell them “surprise, surprise!” – mocking what Chandler had told the world after he stopped Dan Hooker in his debut at UFC 257.

He then proceeded to run around the stadium celebration, embracing fans and coaches before returning to the cage to show the utmost respect to Chandler and his team.

It was the 28th fight of his illustrious UFC career, making him the man with the most fights in the promotion before winning the belt. But it couldn’t have come at a better time for him. He’s in his fighting prime at just 31-years-old and seems to have accumulated the knowledge and IQ from his previous fights to pick and choose his moments well.

He has the most finishes in UFC history now with 17, as well as the most submission wins in the companies history with 14, which begs the question of just who can beat him right now. Whoever does eventually take the belt from him will have to be something special, because Oliveira is far from a one-trick pony.

In the co-main event we saw a brilliant performance from another lightweight in Beneil Dariush as he completely dominated Tony Ferguson for 15 minutes to claim a place in the top five of the 155lbs rankings.

Many thought that Ferguson would come out all guns blazing after back-to-back defeats to Justin Gaethje and Oliveira, but Dariush closed the distance well and used his superior grappling to tremendous effect to take next to no damage in the fight and get a routine win in the end.

While Dariush was incredibly impressive, it was a sad sight to see for Ferguson as it looks like the wild techniques and awkwardness that once made him great are now the exact reason he can’t get anything going.

His basic fundamentals are lacking and in an era where the average level of the UFC fighter has increased, coinciding with father time tapping ‘El Cucuy’ on the shoulder, it may now be time to call it a day.

His run at the top of the division was incredible and the fact he never got to challenge for the undisputed title will always burn him, but rather than go out even sadder he should just admit his time at the top is over and walk away.

Ferguson’s fights are notorious for being absolute wars and he has taken so much damage over his career, not to mention we don’t know the damage caused long-term by the heel hook he refused to tap out to during the UFC 262 card.

There’s no shame in admitting that you’re just not that guy anymore and saving yourself for another day and that’s exactly what I hope he does.

UFC 262: Oliveira vs Chandler – Results (Highlights)

EARLY PRELIMS

Christos Giagos def Sean Soriano via Submission (D’arce Choke), Round 2 (0:59)

Big start to the fight for both guys as Giagos lands a nice right hand to open that wobbles Soriano, who responds with a nice low kick that puts Giagos down to one knee. Giagos shoots for a takedown and pushes the fight against the cage before switching to take the back, before letting it go before they separate. Soriano lands a nice one-two down the middle and Giagos is wobbling again, but he responds with a combo of his own. Soriano’s speed is causing Giagos big problems and he’s landing clean. Giagos goes for a takedown but Soriano sprawls well and denies it. Both guys head hunting with the punches right now, but Soriano mixing in some leg kicks too and it’s serving its purpose so far. Head kick from Soriano lands partially as he slips, before Giagos shoots for a takedown and dumps him down as the round ends. 10-9 Soriano.

Soriano comes out heavy once again and lands a big right hand but Giagos goes for a takedown much earlier this time and gets top position quickly. He flows through the position and Soriano tries to get back up, but Giagos locks up a d’arce choke and sits down on it! It’s super tight and Soriano stops fighting it and goes to sleep! Huge win for Giagos!

Tucker Lutz def Kevin Aguilar via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 29-28 x2)

Fast start from Aguilar as he presses forward and applies pressure early looking to throw big strikes to the head. Lutz looking to slow him down a little with leg kicks and then a clinch, but Aguilar doing well to separate and lands a nice left hook. Lutz now starting to come forward more and he lands a nice left hook of his own clean, before a head kick lands partially too. Aguilar is doing well to be dangerous in the pocket and make Lutz think first, then Lutz lands a huge uppercut. Big takedown from Lutz, with perfect timing and minimal effort, before shifting Aguilar over to the cage and starts landing some decent ground and pound to control the position. Aguilar trying to get back up but Lutz does well to keep him down and end the round on top. 10-9 Lutz.

Aguilar charges forward early once again at the start of the round but Lutz times him well and lands a decent left hook counter once again. Good little flurry while moving forward from Lutz again, but Aguilar looking to counter with a hard right hand. Aguilar looks to grapple against the cage but Lutz is able to stop him in his tracks easily then separates with a knee to the head. Aguilar comes forward and lands a nice body shot, but Lutz is timing everything perfectly so far and shoots in for a takedown to get it with ease again. This time though Aguilar is able to battle back to his feet quickly with his legs, before Lutz starts up on the leg kicks and left hooks once again. A more even round certainly, but still Lutz’s for me. 20-18.

Big left hand lands early from Aguilar and gets the crowd on their feet, before another left hand lands and sends Lutz backwards. Lutz replies with a big uppercut and hook combo that rocks Aguilar, but he keeps coming forward and lands more shots making this ugly and hurting Lutz. Aguilar goes for a one-two but Lutz ducks under it and gets the takedown, shuffling him over to the cage and stacking him. Aguilar explodes back to his feet and eats a couple of punches and a knee for his troubles, but he continues to come forward looking to be aggressive. Aguilar shoots for a takedown of his own but Lutz denies him and they go back to trading. Lutz keeping distance with leg kicks and clinching whenever Aguilar gets close as we enter the final 30 seconds. Big left hand from Aguilar snaps Lutz’s neck back but he keeps calm, keeps moving and should take the win. 29-28 Lutz.

Priscilla Cachoeira def Gina Mazany via Knockout, Round 2 (4:51)

Cachoeira comes out of the blocks very aggressive, right hand loaded looking for a power strike but Mazany nice and busy early with her jab and a small flurry. Mazany clinches up and is able to trip Cachoeira down to the top position and while Cachoeira gets up quickly, she’s immediately brought back down to the mat. Mazany starts landing some nice ground and pound as she controls the position, before Cachoeira eventually gets back up and starts landing some nice right hands. Mazany ducks under and gets another takedown to control the rest of the round from top position with ground and pound. 10-9 Mazany, easily.

Immediate takedown at the start of the round for Mazany has them in exactly the same position that they ended the first round in, with top control and suffocating pressure. Cachoeira looks to get back to her feet but Mazany transitions and takes the back, before Cachoeira rolls back onto her back to go into full guard again. More control from Mazany on top as she lands a couple of big elbows. The referee pauses the fight after she fails to advance position and stands them up and now Cachoeira is walking Mazany down and has thrown some big punches. Huge right hands landing from Cachoeira and Mazany is exhausted and hurt! Mazany looking for the takedowns but can’t get it and Cachoeira is beating her up and the referee steps in! Huge win for Cachoeira!

PRELIMS

Andrea Lee def Antonina Shevchenko via Submission (Triangle Armbar), Round 2 (4:52)

Busy start to the fight from Lee early on, looking to land some kicks and a jab early on while Shevchenko is getting her reads and looking to counter. Lee clinches up against the cage and looks for some knees but she gets overpowered by Shevchenko who lands some of her own before the separate. Shevchenko engages in a clinch this time and lands several knees to the body before Lee is able to get away from it. Shevchenko goes for a spinning back first but Lee lands a big head kick and wobbles her, then goes for a takedown and eventually is able to trip her. Lee looks for a big hammer fist that just misses but she’s controlling the top position and sees the round out on top. Close round that Lee probably takes because of the takedown. 10-9.

Lee opens up the round with a huge spinning back elbow that lands flush and rocks Shevchenko! She goes for a finish and Shevchenko grabs her but Lee hip tosses her and ends up in a very dominant position. Big elbows to the head of Shevchenko and she transitions into a mounted triangle and rolls through. She starts throwing elbows off her back with the triangle on and she’s looking for an armbar too but Shevchenko is just about surviving. Huge elbows from Lee with the triangle still synched in and she finally is able to extend the arm of Shevchenko and gets the tap right at the end of the round! Huge win!

Jordan Wright def Jamie Pickett via Knockout, Round 1 (1:04)

Pickett opens the round with a big body kick and charges in for a takedown. Wright stays standing and starts throwing some big elbows to the side of the head and Pickett is hurt! Wright lands some big knees and sends Pickett stumbling as he swings a big right hand. Wright holds on to Pickett in a clinch and throws a big knee up the middle that drops him! He starts landing some huge ground and pound and the referee steps in to end if mercifully! Huge win for Wright! What a performance.

Lando Vannata def Mike Grundy via Split Decision (29-28, 27-30, 30-27)

A very tactical start from both guys as Vannata bounces around on the outside throwing feints and leg kicks while Grundy is switching stances and staying out of range. Grundy charges in for a takedown but Vannata holds up and both men throw a knee and land in the groin to cause a pause. They resume action and Vannata lands a couple of nice strikes before Grundy gets a single leg takedown. Lots of scrambling as Grundy looks to keep the grip but eventually Vannata is able to escape. Vannata lands a nice knee and then a right hand behind it, before Grundy goes for another takedown but he gets back up to his feet very quickly. Vannata doing well to defend all these takedown attempts and get back up and separated quickly, but not enough action from him so that’s likely a Grundy round. 10-9.

Vannata looks very fluid and relaxed in the second round here as he fakes a knee up the middle, but Grundy fires forward with a takedown attempt once again. Vannata stays standing once again before both men exchange nice, tight right hooks. Vannata pushing forward with pressure and lands a nice kick, before Grundy explodes forward with a big right hand that lands clean. Vannata lands a nice combo that ends with a leg kick before Grundy shoots for yet another takedown. Head kick from Vannata lands and then as he starts faking uppercuts Grundy replies with a big overhand right. Vannata having more success in this round as it ends, 19-19 heading into the third.

Grundy opens up the round with two immediate takedown attempts but Vannata denies them both and fires back with a hard calf kick. Grundy shoots in again but Vannata throws a hard knee that lands flush on the chin but Grundy powers through it and gets Vannata down finally. He starts working to the back but Vannata gets back up, avoiding a submission attempt from Grundy, before picking up and slamming Grundy down to the mat. Grundy explodes back up to his feet and Vannata starts pressuring forward once again as both fighters exchange head kicks. Final minute and both guys still look sharp as Vannata denies yet another takedown attempt to end the round. Great fight, I’ve got it 29-28 Vannata.

Andre Muniz def Jacare Souza via Submission (Armbar), Round 1 (3:59)

Good start to the fight for Jacare as he comes forward landing some nice kicks to the body with a few flurries of strikes before shooting in for a takedown against the cage. Jacare lifts and sweeps the legs to complete the takedown, immediately stepping over and throwing some good ground and pound strikes. Muniz is able to kick his way up and then shoots in for a takedown of his own and lands it. Jacare is able to work his way back up to the feet but Muniz gets him down again and Jacare jumps up again quickly. Muniz jumps on the back and tries to roll over the top, but holds on to Jacare’s arm and sinks in a deep armbar. Jacare’s arm visibly snaps and the referee waves the fight off! Insanity! What a submission win!

*TRIGGER WARNING*

MAIN CARD

Edson Barboza def Shane Burgos via Knockout, Round 3 (1:16)

Big start to the fight from Barboza as he steps forward and lands four huge calf kicks to Burgos that immediately causes problems. Burgos starts firing out his jabs but Barboza is looking to counter them with a heavy leg kick every time. Jab starts to land for Burgos and opens up a cut over the eye of Barboza, who then throws a spinning back kick to the body. Burgos starting to land more and then rips the body big and follows up with a nice left hook too. Barboza throws the uppercut and Burgos replies with a right hand. Barboza spins with a wheel kick and rocks Burgos, then follows up with two or three big right hands! Burgos keeps coming forward though and gets wobbled off a jab. Barboza continues to land the right hook and leg kicks as the round ends. 10-9 Barboza.

Burgos comes forward to apply pressure early in this round but Barboza continues to throw the leg kicks. Burgos goes body, body head while standing and lands nicely. Barboza throws another heavy leg kick and follows it up with a huge left hook, but Burgos keeps coming. Burgos throwing a nice front kick to the body, then follows up with a left hook to the body too. Burgos lands two leg kicks of his own now, before a spinning back kick to the body from Barboza. Burgos throws another calf kick but Barboza responds with a big left hook combo to the body and then the head. Three big body shots from Burgos and then Barboza goes for the wheel kick that just misses as the round ends. What a fight this is. 20-18 Barboza for me, but could be 19-19.

Final round and Burgos is pouring on the pressure now, but Barboza standing with him and throwing those leg kicks once again. Burgos comes forward with the body shots again, and Barboza lands a great body shot before a left hook and overhand right land flush. Both men reset but suddenly Burgos starts to stagger backwards and just falls against the cage! Barboza goes for the finish and the referee ends it quickly! What a fight.

Katlyn Chookagian def Viviane Araujo via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x2, 30-27)

Fast start to the fight for Araujo as she steps forward looking to land hard shots and closing the distance to prevent Chookagian’s kicking game from getting going. A nice left hook from Araujo leaves a mark on the cheek of Chookagian, but she fires back with a nice front kick to the body. Araujo throwing a lot of power into all of her shots and missing wildly so far and Chookagian is starting to get her kicks and jab working. Araujo starting to slow down a bit already and Chookagian lands two nice kicks to the body before Araujo shoots in for a takedown. They clinch up against the cage as Chookagian stuffs it and both ladies trade knees to the body as the round ends. 10-9 Chookagian.

Good start to the round from Chookagian as she seems to have figured out her range now, slipping a couple of Araujo strikes before landing a push kick to the chest that sits Araujo down. Chookagian moving well and throws a body kick but Araujo catches it and puts her on the ground. Araujo gets on top and looks to move into full mount. She looks to synch up a guillotine but Chookagian survives it and eventually is able to get back up to her feet. Chookagian now starts throwing big strikes to an exhausted Araujo as the round starts coming to an end. 19-19. Big final round incoming.

Araujo comes out aggressive in the third, looking for nice hooks but Chookagian showing her range once again and landing nice jabs and body kicks. Araujo still coming forward and looking to cause damage with her hands, but Chookagian’s footwork has been great throughout this fight and she is sticking and moving well. Side kick to the body of Araujo, then she counters Araujo’s right overhand with a left high kick. Araujo goes for a takedown but Chookagian does brilliantly to defend it then lands a huge knee up the middle as they separate. Big right hand lands from Araujo in the final 10 seconds but Chookagian fires back with a flurry of punches and kicks to end the round strong. 29-28 Chookagian for me, but it’s all on how the first round was scored.

Rogerio Bontorin def Matt Schnell via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x2, 29-28)

Pretty slow start to this one as both guys look to go make their reads early on. Schnell takes the centre of the cage and cuts off the centre as Bontorin circles on the outside, with the odd jab and low kick each. Schnell finally strings together a flurry of strikes but Bontorin does well to avoid damage, before landing a big right cross. Left hook and then a jab follows it, before a calf kick puts Schnell down on one knee. Bontorin lands a left hand but Schnell replies with a beautiful right hand then a pull left-hook counter that wobbles Bontorin. Bontorin lands a hard calf kick and the round comes to an end. 10-9 Bontorin.

Right high kick from Schnell opens up the round and lands flush on the nose, before following it up with a nice right hand too. Schnell lands a nice jab, low kick combo but Bontorin replies with another strong leg kick of his own. Bontorin is landing his left hook cleanly at will, but Schnell is still coming and landing some good strikes of his own. Schnell throws a nice four-punch combination before Bontorin replies with a low kick and left hook. Bontorin lunges forward and lands a big left hand that wobbles Schnell and he lands two or three more before missing with a big knee as they separate. Another short flurry from Schnell as the round ends, very close round but it’s probably Bontorin’s again for the more eye-catching strikes.

Both men look fearful of making a mistake to lose this fight as we start the third round. Schnell looking to get his combinations off but Bontorin landing the bigger strikes once again. Bontorin moves forward with a big left, right, left combination that rocks Schnell! He changes levels as Schnell is hurt and gets a takedown and starts landing some big elbows on the ground. Schnell tries his best to get out but Bontorin controls the position and sees the round out on top. 30-27 for me.

Beneil Dariush def Tony Ferguson via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)

Very aggressive start to the fight from Dariush as he takes the centre and throws a big left hand early. Ferguson not really throwing anything yet and Dariush closes the distance quickly and shoots in for a takedown against the cage. He locks the hands and dumps him down on the mat and Ferguson immediately starts throwing elbows from the bottom. Dariush starts swinging some heavy ground and pound but nothing really landing. Dariush controlling the position from the top and while there’s not much damage being handed out, he’ll take that round. 10-9 Dariush.

Second round starts in a similar way and Dariush rushes him for a takedown and immediately gets it against the cage. Ferguson looks to synch up a d’arce choke but Dariush stays so calm and eventually pops his head out with no danger. Dariush starts raining down ground and pound again and Ferguson eventually tries to sweep him, but they end up entangled on the ground. Dariush synches in a heel hook super deep and Ferguson is grimacing with pain but he refuses to tap out! Dariush lets it go then moves to control top position for the rest of the round again. 20-18 Dariush.

Third round and Fergusons leg is in bits after the heel hook. Dariush lands a nasty body kick and then shoots in for a takedown once again and gets Ferguson down with a slam. Dariush goes into side control and is just completely controlling the positions. Ferguson is looking for some type of offence from his back but Dariush dominating him from top position into the final 30 seconds. Dariush rains down some ground and pound to end the fight but that is as one-sided a fight as you’ll see. Huge win. 30-27 Dariush.

Charles Oliveira def Michael Chandler via Knockout, Round 2 (0:19)

Fast start to the fight as Oliveira comes out and drops Chandler with a calf kick early. Chandler comes forward and throws a flurry of strikes, with a left hook busting open the eye of Oliveira. Oliveira shoots in for a takedown and Chandler sinks in a deep guillotine! Oliveira manages to escape and then Chandler gives up his back trying to get back up. Oliveira sinks in both hooks and starts working for the rear-naked choke but Chandler works back to his feet with Oliveira on his back and just drops backwards. He explodes out of the body triangle and gets back to his feet, then rocks Oliveira with a huge punch. He starts teeing off on Oliveira and cuts him up but Oliveira survives the round. Crazy! 10-9 Chandler.

Chandler comes out hard in the second round and Oliveira slips a big shot then lands a picture perfect left hook that drops Chandler! Oliveira charges over and starts blitzing Chandler who is in trouble! Oliveira lands another left hook that crumbles Chandler and it’s all over!!! AND NEWWWW!

UFC 262: Oliveira vs Chandler – Main card predictions

The new king of the lightweight division will be crowned at UFC 262 when Charles Oliveira takes on Michael Chandler for the vacant 155lbs title.

203 days after Khabib Nurmagomedov retired, the number three and four ranked fighters in the division go head to head to be crowned champion but the division will be far from settled after this fight.

In the co-main event both Tony Ferguson and Beneil Dariush will bring the chaos as both men enter a crossroads phase of their career, trying to get to the top but having to cross a top guy on their path.

Last week at UFC Vegas 26 we went 6/9 on an interesting card with one perfect pick to move to 308/482 (63.9%) with 134 perfect picks (43.51%).

We’ll look to improve that record with this 12 fight card and having started with the early prelims here and rounded off the rest of the prelims here, we move onto the main card.


Shane Burgos (13-2) vs Edson Barboza (21-9) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

My pick for fight of the night here as two absolute bangers meet in the featherweight division to open up the main card. Burgos was beaten by Josh Emmett in his last fight at UFC Vegas 3, with both guys trading absolute bombs on the feet, while Barboza “lost” his featherweight debut to Dan Ige before destroying Makwan Amirkhani at UFC Fight Island 5.

Both of these guys are expert strikers, with Burgos coming with a fairly heavy boxing approach while Barboza is as good a kickboxer as there is in the UFC. Both guys use great pressure to overwhelm their opponents and are happy to hold their ground in the centre of the cage rather than back up. Both guys have genuine KO power, but one thing about Burgos is that he is hittable.

He’s as durable as they come though and while he has the ability to get the knockout, Barboza’s ability to use kicks to keep range and some decent grappling in his arsenal too I think he takes a super close fight.
PICK – Edson Barboza via Decision

Katlyn Chookagian (15-4) vs Viviane Araujo (10-2) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

A striker’s paradise in the women’s flyweight division here as former title challenger Chookagian looks to make it back-to-back wins for the first time since 2019. Chookagian lost to Valentina Shevchenko before beating Antonina just two months later. She then got knocked out by Jessica Andrade due to a body shot at UFC Fight Island 6 before bouncing back with a decision win over Cynthia Calvillo at UFC 255. Araujo has won her last two in the UFC, beating Montana De La Rosa before a win over Roxanne Modafferi at Fight Island 8.

Chookagian is a great kicker from distance, but showed in her last fight that she’s capable of mixing in some wrestling to her game too. Araujo on the other hand walks her opponents down and uses good striking and clinches to wear her opponent down for two rounds before slowly fading in the third.

This is a really close fight on paper and in the octagon, but I think Chookagian is able to mix it up that little bit more and has no issues with her gas tank so she should be able to outlast Araujo and get the win.
PICK – Katlyn Chookagian via Decision

Matt Schnell (15-5) vs Rogerio Bontorin (16-3) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

A fun bantamweight fight between two natural flyweights that was bumped up to the main card following a change in the cards. Schnell has won five of his last six fights, with a win over Tyson Nam at UFC Fight Island 8 most recently. Bontorin has lost his last two in a row, including a violent KO loss to Kai-Kara France III as recently as UFC 259.

Schnell is a brilliant grappler, but he’s shown in recent fights that he has got great power on his feet too and solid technique. Bontorin is a very similar fighter, with good skills on the ground backing up his powerful striking technique. On the feet Schnell has a slight power advantage and in the grappling both have the ability to control from the top but not get submitted from the bottom.

Schnell has a great cardio advantage though and in a scrap I expect to be quite scramble-heavy, I think he can keep the pressure up late to get a stoppage.
PICK – Matt Schnell via Knockout, Round 3

Tony Ferguson (26-5) vs Beneil Dariush (20-4-1) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

Enter chaos for this huge lightweight fight between ‘El Cucuy’ Tony Ferguson and the division’s dark horse Beneil Dariush. Ferguson was on a record-breaking 12-fight win streak before getting dominated by both Justin Gaethje and then Charles Oliveira at UFC 256. Dariush on the other hand is on a six-fight win streak including a memorable KO win over Drakkar Klose before a spinning-back fist win over Scott Holtzman at UFC Vegas 6 and a split decision win over Diego Ferreira at UFC Vegas 19.

Ferguson is elite at absolutely everything. He brings total chaos to fights with unrivalled forward pressure, heavy hands with his unorthodox striking and great jiu-jitsu skills from top position or off his back. Dariush is similar, with stunning jiu-jitsu skills now being paired with heavy hands and improved striking of his own. This fight will undoubtedly be wild for as long as it lasts, but Ferguson is still by far the best fighter Dariush has ever fought. The question is which Ferguson turns up; the savage or the new version who can’t take the punishment anymore?

My bets are on the old Ferguson, simply because Dariush isn’t even close to being as good and dangerous as Gaethje and Oliveira are. Dariush will however take encouragement from the fact that Oliveira was able to dominate Ferguson on the mat. Despite that though, I think Ferguson comes through the other side and gets a highlight reel KO win to get back on track.
PICK – Tony Ferguson via Knockout, Round 1

Charles Oliveira (30-8 1NC) vs Michael Chandler (22-5) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

There will be a new lightweight champion crowned this weekend when two styles clash in the main event. Oliveira is on an impressive eight-fight win streak including wins over Kevin Lee and Tony Ferguson, while Chandler is on a three-fight win streak of his own including a vicious knockout win in his company debut against Dan Hooker at UFC 257.

Oliveira is a third-degree Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, with heavy hands and great volume on the feet too. Chandler on the other hand is a world class wrestler with great power in both his hands to set up those grinding takedowns. Oliveira is a scary proposition for anyone right now, with the most submission wins in UFC history but enough power and range to really cause Chandler problems. Chandler will undoubtedly be looking to put Oliveira on his back foot in a similar way that he did against Hooker but he will need the fight to stay on the feet to have his best chance of winning.

It’s going to be a crazy fight regardless of how it goes, but Oliveira just has so many paths to victory. The one thing we haven’t see from him is if his cardio can hold up for 25 minutes since he’s never gone past a third round before. Despite that, I think he gets it done with a knockdown followed by a submission to become the new champion.
PICK – Charles Oliveira via Submission, Round 2

Tony Ferguson and Beneil Dariush both facing crossroads at UFC 262

It’s rare that when you have two big names going head to head in the UFC that there is a crossroads at stake for both guys, but that will be the case in the UFC 262 co-main event this weekend.

Tony Ferguson spend several years as the man in the lightweight division that nobody wanted to face, but after back-to-back dominant defeats in his most recent fights he has got people questioning whether or not he still has it.

On the other side of the cage from him this Saturday night will be the highly impressive Beneil Dariush, who has made a name for himself as the 155lbs dark horse with a string of excellent performances and a six-fight win streak.

Ferguson is in desperate need of a win in this fight. After a record 12 fight win streak at 155lbs, ‘El Cucuy’ was essentially an uncrowned champion in many people’s eyes. He’d beaten everyone in his path and a fight with Khabib Nurmagomedov fell through an insane five times meaning he never got a shot at the undisputed title during his career to date.

But he did get a second shot at an interim title against Justin Gaethje last year in the first event to take place during the pandemic for the UFC.

It was a bad night for him as he was knocked out in the fifth round after being brutalised for the entire fight beforehand. Gaethje however was considered one of the absolute best in the world, who enjoys chaos just as much as Ferguson does.

The loss wasn’t looked at so badly, but the performance against Charles Oliveira at UFC 256 was a shadow of the Ferguson we’d all grown to know and love.

Part of the mystery around the fight that never happened with Khabib was Ferguson’s brilliant ground game that went along with his craziness on the feet. But Oliveira came in, went toe-to-toe in the striking exchanges and completely dominated him on the ground.

In his last 40-odd minutes of cage time, Ferguson has lost the aura of invincibility that he once had.

UFC Fight Night: Ferreira v Dariush : News Photo

In steps Dariush now, who has found an aura of his own recently. A six-fight win streak including four finishes, the Iranian has been seen as a man who can make a push up the rankings and potentially challenge for the title.

But this fight is without a doubt the biggest of his career and there is more pressure on him now than ever before. His previous biggest win in his career was arguably his submission win over Drew Dober back in 2019, but Dober isn’t even ranked.

A win over Ferguson will show that he is finally ready to make the step up to the elite, because there are no easy fights after that. A defeat though would set him back and surely have fans question whether he can actually do it at the highest level.

He’s previously been beaten by Michael Chiesa and Edson Barboza, two who have failed to make it at the highest level themselves thus far in their careers, so it’s a barrier he must pass.

For Ferguson, a loss essentially ends his hopes at ever becoming the world champion. Three in a row against fighters of arguably diminishing quality and reputation each time would likely end his career at the top. Dariush needs the win to prove he’s worthy of the reputation he has received and can step up to fill Ferguson’s position in the division.

It’s a crossroads for both guys and a win has never been more important for either guy and all roads lead to chaos at UFC 262.

Tony Ferguson to fight Beneil Dariush at UFC 262

The lightweight division is heating up after it was confirmed that Tony Ferguson will fight Beneil Dariush on May 15th at UFC 262.

Ferguson had been in title contention for years and racked up a 12 fight win streak between 2013 and 2020, before falling to defeat in his last two outings. He was knocked out brutally by Justin Gaethje at UFC 249 in May 2020 in an interim title fight to set up a bout against Khabib Nurmagomedov and then was dominated most recently at UFC 256 in December by Charles Oliveira.

Dariush on the other hand is currently on a six-fight win streak with two submissions, two knockouts and two decisions. His most recent fight came in a rematch against the highly rated Carlos Diego Ferreira, where he beat him a second time by split decision at UFC Vegas 18 in February.

Dariush has been clamouring for a big name fight for a while now and has finally been rewarded for his growing popularity and wins, with Ferguson one of the biggest names in the entire company.

‘El Cucuy’ has struggled in his most recent bouts and has lost his position in the title picture as a result of these defeats. The showing against Oliveira in particular was stunning to many fans, as the Brazilian completely dominated and controlled him on the ground for the entire 15 minute duration of the fight.

Many believed that Ferguson was the man to stop Nurmagomedov’s reign as lightweight champion and since their fight never happened despite being booked on four separate occasions, the fight against Oliveira was supposed to prove that he could dominate someone with stunning grappling skills.

Instead he was beaten to a pulp and now will fight against Dariush, who is another fantastic grappler. With both men seemingly on different trajectories in their careers, it’s a great match up for both fighters to try and prove their point.

Dariush has improved dramatically over the last few years and has many analysts and fans talking up his chances of climbing the ranks and getting into title contention himself.

Ranked at number nine, a win over Ferguson would likely see him move into the top five and then potentially he would be just one win away from claiming himself a title shot. Ferguson on the other hand knows that if he is ever to hold undisputed gold in the UFC then he must win this fight.

A defeat would see him on a three-fight skid at 36 years of age with a list of killers in front of him including all the fighters that beat him, making it near impossible for him to climb back up the ranks.

A win though means he’s still in the upper echelons in the division and can look to make a final run while also halting the Dariush hype train right in its tracks. It’s likely to be a three-round fight since it’s happening on a numbered card, although no main event has been announced yet despite UFC 261 and UFC 263’s main events already being revealed.

UFC Vegas 18: Overeem vs Volkov – Results (Highlights)

EARLY PRELIMS

Ode Osbourne def Jerome Rivera via Knockout, Round 1 (0:26)

Both fighters come out and meet in the centre and Rivera throws a high left kick. Osbourne rolls the kick, catching the kick on his shoulder and lands a huge left hand straight down the pipe! Rivera is down, Osbourne lands a couple of strikes on the ground but it’s over inside 30 seconds! Wow!

Timur Valiev def Martin Day via Unanimous Decision (30-25 x2, 30-26)

Good start to the round for Valiev as he comes out and attacks the legs early with a series of kicks. Day counters another leg kick with a short combo in the pocket but Valiev steps out of the way and then goes for a single leg takedown. He takes the back against the cage and has a body lock before dragging Day down to the mat, only for Day to get back up quickly. Valiev finally gets the fight down and stops the scramble attempt to end up in top position. Some nice short elbows from Valiev but Day is defending well as the round comes to an end. 10-9 Valiev.

Valiev opens the second round with some more leg kicks, before a nice one-two and a takedown have the fight on the ground in the centre of the octagon. Valiev passes into side control and Day tries to get back to his feet but it’s prevented well with some solid ground and pound. Valiev completely dominant right now with constant pressure on the ground, staying busy and landing shots to the body and head of Day. Complete domination for the entire second round, could be a 10-8 round. 20-17 Valiev.

Final round and Day starts throwing some kicks and a few strikes, knowing he needs a finish in this round. It doesn’t last long though as Valiev gets another takedown early in the round and controls the positions once again. More ground and pound strikes on the ground as Day tries to get back up, but Valiev is a nuisance and keeps a body lock and just drags him up and down as much as possible. Valiev switches between half-guard, mount and side control for the rest of the round for a dominant decision victory. 30-26 Valiev.

Seungwoo Choi def Youssef Zalal via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x2, 30-27)

Tactical start to this fight from both guys as Choi takes the centre, but Zalal is happy to circle on the outside and jab while avoiding heavier shots. Choi throws a few big head kicks but Zalal slips them relatively easily. Zalal shoots for the takedown and gets in on the hips but Choi steps over the trip attempt and they end up tied up against the cage. Zalal continues to look for the takedown against the cage but they’re at a stalemate and the referee separates them. Another clinch against the cage as the round comes to an end and Choi gets a takedown right on the horn. 10-9 Zalal for me but could go either way.

Second round starts with an exchange of kicks before another clinch against the cage, as Zalal looks for the takedown again. He gets a single leg but Choi defends really well against the cage until the referee separates them again. Body kick and one-two from Choi lands clean as he starts to come forward more. He pushes forward with another combo before the clinch again against the cage, before Choi gets Zalal down to the mat before letting him straight back up. A few more exchanges before the end of the round, this one more clear cut in Choi’s favour. 19-19 or 20-18.

Choi starts the final round strong, as he looks to have Zalal beat in all areas right now. They clinch against the cage again and Zalal finally gets the fight to the ground and goes straight for a guillotine. It looks tight as he rolls through but Choi eventually turns into it and ends up on top in guard. Choi eventually works his way back up to the feet but Zalal goes for a single leg takedown again and gets Choi down against the cage. Every time Zalal gets him down in this round he pops straight back up, refusing to accept bottom position as we enter the final 40 seconds. Round comes to an end with a clinch against the cage and it will likely be a Choi decision win. 29-28 Choi.

Lara Procopio def Molly McCann via Unanimous Decision (29-27, 29-28, 30-27)

Fast start to this fight as McCann comes out throwing leg kicks and punch combinations early, while Procopio looks to walk her to the cage and go for a takedown. After a battle against the cage, Procopio gets a beautiful trip and ends up in top position halfway through the round. Procopio dominating on the ground and has McCann’s neck tight to control posture, but McCann fights out of that position, although she eventually pushes into full mount. McCann gives up the back and Procopio looks for an armbar before transitioning to the back and looking for a choke but the horn goes. Dominant from Procopio, 10-9.

McCann comes out aggressively again and looks to keep Procopio with her back against the cage, but a clinch and takedown attempt ends with McCann on her back. Procopio looks to transition into different positions but McCann throws up an armbar! Procopio looks to stack her to escape but McCann rolls through and locks it in tight! She has a full extension but Procopio refuses to tap and eventually is able to escape the position! Eventually the women get back to their feet against the cage and then Procopio lands another takedown inside the final minute as both women trade shots before the horn. 19-19.

Final round and Procopio is breathing heavy, but she still engages with the clinch situation against the cage looking for a takedown. She gets the fight down to the ground in scrappy fashion and then quickly transitions looking for a heel hook. McCann rolls through twice and escapes, but Procopio immediately gets back on her and brings McCann back down to the ground a further three times just using her size advantage. 30 seconds to go and Procopio takes the back of McCann and starts throwing punches to see the round out and take a decision win. 29-28 Procopio.

PRELIMS

Karol Rosa def Joselyne Edwards via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)

An immediate shot and takedown from Rosa gets the fight down to the ground and the Brazilian into a strong position. She sits in half guard comfortably, throwing some nice ground and pound and just completely controlling the fight. Rosa moves into full mount and starts teeing off before Edwards throws her legs up and rolls through to get back to the feet. Both women exchange shots on the feet with Rosa beating up the legs as the round comes to an end. 10-9 Rosa.

Rosa comes out aggressively again with some heavy leg kicks, and Edwards buckles under the power of the kicks too. Rosa steps in and clinches before the separate and Rosa throws more kicks. Edwards charges forwards with a combination of hooks that land clean but she eats them well and comes forward with some shots of her own. Edwards comes forward again with a rush but Rosa gets hold of her and the fight goes back to the ground with Rosa on top. Rosa’s mouth is bleeding heavily but she’s staying on top and landing ground and pound well as the round ends. 20-18 Rosa.

Final round and after one exchange on the feet Rosa goes straight for the takedown and secures it. After some ground and pound and some grappling on the ground Rosa gets back to the feet herself and lets Edwards up, before they clinch up against the cage again. Edwards battling to stay on her feet as Rosa looks to wear on her with her physical advantage. Rosa drags Edwards down to the ground with under 90 seconds remaining and controls the position for the remainder of the round before ending with a big flurry of punches to take a decision win. 30-27 Rosa.

Devonte Smith def Justin Jaynes via Knockout (Doctor Stoppage), Round 2 (3:38)

Cagey start to the fight as both men look to feel each other out before committing to any big shots early on. Smith lands some nice jabs that rock Jaynes a little, but Jaynes is throwing tight left hook counters that are just missing too. Smith’s jab is working well to keep Jayne’s away from him but then Jaynes lands a nice right hand that wobbles Smith. Jaynes is covering up from the jab and then Smith lands a nice left followed by a kick that Jaynes catches. Smith lands some big shots while his leg is still in the air and Jaynes is rocked! Smith throws some knees and a right hand but Jaynes weathers the storm and the round ends. 10-9 Smith.

Jaynes comes out in the second round and goes straight for a takedown and they clinch up against the cage. Jaynes goes to sweep him but Smith explodes and reverses the position to end up on top in side control. He throws some nice knees to the body and some short punches to cause Jaynes some problems. Smith passes into full mount with ease and starts raining down punches before taking the back and looks for the rear naked choke but Jaynes reverses and escapes. Smith explodes back to his feet quickly and tells the referee he wants it back on the feet. Referee pauses the fight with Jaynes’ eye swelled shut and the doctor waves it off. TKO win for Smith!

MAIN CARD

Danilo Marques def Mike Rodriguez via Submission (Rear Naked Choke), Round 2 (4:51)

Immediate takedown from Marques as he shoots in for a single leg and uses lots of movement before eventually tripping him down. Rodriguez fighting hard to get back to his feet against the cage, but Marques keeping his hands locked up and eventually gets him back down once again. Marques working hard to keep Rodriguez down and he’s tying up the legs to do so. Rodriguez gets back to the feet but once again Marques drags him back down. Rodriguez gets back to the feet with 15 seconds to go and throws a few knees and body shots but he looks exhausted. 10-9 Marques.

Second round starts with the two exchanging feints on the feet, with Rodriguez landing a nice low kick. Marques fakes a couple of takedown attempts before landing an overhand right and then finally getting the big takedown. Marques passes into full mount against the cage and he starts raining down big ground and pound punches. Both men look exhausted as Rodriguez gets back to a knee, but Marques keeps landing big punches and then takes the back with both hooks in. He rolls to the back and sinks in a rear naked choke and puts Rodriguez to sleep. Wonderful performance from Marques.

Beneil Dariush def Diego Ferreira via Split Decision (29-28 x2, 28-29)

A crazy pace to start this fight as Dariush comes out firing with strikes before shooting for a takedown. Ferreira defends it by pulling guard with an omoplata before exploding out back to his feet, but Dariush looks for a takedown again against the cage. When he can’t get it he separates and the two start trading bombs! Both men land huge shots on each other but Dariush keeps coming forward. Big knee to the body and Ferreira goes down! Dariush looks for ground and pound but Ferreira ties him up on the ground and is able to ride it out. Final 30 seconds and they get back to the feet, and Ferreira lands a big right hand clean. Dariush returns with a right of his own before a front kick to the face from Ferreira lands flush. What a round! 10-9 Dariush.

Second round starts as the first ended with both men throwing big strikes once again. Dariush looking a bit more tired than Ferreira, so he shoots for a takedown and then gets a trip against the cage and lands on top. Ferreira gets back up but Dariush puts him straight back down and starts to control on top. Ferreira defending but the pressure of Dariush is causing him a big problem and Dariush ends the round controlling position from the top. 20-18.

An insane pace continues into the third round as Ferreira starts to use his footwork more to avoid a brawl and keep out of the way of the takedown attempts. Dariush lands a couple of punches himself and misses a takedown before a kick lands on the cup of Ferreira and causes a short pause. Halfway through the round and we haven’t hit the ground yet but Dariush lands a beautiful one-two to the chin. Ferreira catches a kick and looks to put Dariush on the ground but a great scramble means they both get back to the feet and start swinging for the fences. Dariush shoots for a takedown with a minute remaining and gets it, and takes the back with a body lock as he sinks the hooks in but Ferreira shakes him off and the two scramble to the horn. Great fight, 30-27 Dariush for me though.

Alexandre Pantoja def Manel Kape via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x2, 30-27)

Fun start to the fight as Pantoja looks to get right in Kape’s face early but ‘Starboy’ showing his amazing speed and slipping all attacks with his hands low. Kape making Pantoja miss a lot but barely throwing any strikes of his own as we move through the round, while Pantoja is trying to make reads and can’t. Kape’s jab is landing nicely when he throws it but just not enough volume. Pantoja lands a nice body kick and then Kape goes for a cartwheel kick that misses and Pantoja ends up on top. A couple of big strikes land while Kape is on the ground but he gets back up and ends the round with a takedown attempt of his own. 10-9 Pantoja.

Pantoja comes forward in the second round and throwing lots of kicks, and while Kape isn’t getting hurt or the sheer activity is giving Pantoja the rounds. Kape lands a nice one-two but Pantoja returns with some body kicks. Right hand lands from Pantoja but Kape returns fire with a nice one-two of his own. Kape trying to up the pace a little but still not throwing enough to trouble his opponent as we enter the final minute. Kape throws a head kick, follows it up with a left hand and then a takedown, but Pantoja rolls through and gets back to the feet quickly. Better round for Kape and it’s hard to score so could go either way. 19-19 for me.

Slower start to the round by both men in this one as Kape continues to feint and bounce, while Pantoja is almost waiting so he can counter. Nice left hook from Kape lands but Pantoja returns fire with a body kick. Leg kick from Pantoja misses and Kape lands a nice left hand in return before Pantoja lands a head kick. Kape not showing much urgency as we enter the final 90 seconds. Kape lands a left hand that troubles Pantoja and he follows it up with a nice combo. Kape shoots for a takedown and gets it but Pantoja rolls out again and the fight comes to an end. 29-28 either way for me.

Clay Guida def Michael Johnson via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)

A super fun start to this fight as Johnson and Guida meet in the middle of the cage and start trading bombs! Johnson lands a few nice shots before Guida responds with a right hand that lands on the eye and causes Johnson big problems. Guida keeps marching forward and lands more shots with the right hand before he shoots for the takedown and eventually gets him down. Johnson manages to get back to the feet and they clinch against the cage and exchange knees. Guida’s right hook is causing Johnson problems but he’s firing back with nice hooks of his own. Fun round, 10-9 Guida.

Second round continues at a frantic pace as Guida goes straight for a takedown this time against the cage. Johnson battles really well to stay up on his feet before breaking away and landing a nice knee, but Guida is relentless with his pressure and is forcing Johnson to grind. Several attempts are denied by Johnson between now and the end of the round as Johnson looks very tired when the horn goes. 20-18 Guida.

Third round and Guida comes firing out once again with crazy pressure. Johnson circles and looks to land a jab but Guida is throwing hooks and uppercuts, then lands a big knee before shooting for a takedown. They clinch up against the cage before Guida gets him down before taking his back. He locks up a body triangle and rolls him over, then looks to sink in a rear naked choke. Johnson fights the hands and breaks the grip on the hands but can’t break the body triangle and the horn sounds for the end of the fight. Clay Guida should take the win here, 30-27.

Cory Sandhagen def Frankie Edgar via Knockout, Round 1 (0:28)

Edgar comes out into the centre with Sandhagen and throws a leg kick as ‘Sandman’ circles on the outside. Edgar steps in with a looping left and SANDHAGEN WITH A FLYING KNEE!!!! EDGAR IS OUT COLD!!! OH MY GOD!!

Alexander Volkov def Alistair Overeem via Knockout, Round 2 (2:06)

Odd start to the round as Volkov throws a leg kick and Overeem seems to freeze and shell up against the cage, allowing Volkov to land some shots. Volkov continues to step forward with leg kicks and Overeem looks tense, but he explodes with two heavy left hands that land clean. Both men trade shots at the same time but as Volkov lands Overeem loses his balance and falls. Volkov jumps on him to land ground and pound but Overeem gets back to his feet quickly and they break. Volkov walking Overeem down against the cage and unloads a big combo as he covers up before the round comes to an end. 10-9 Volkov.

Volkov starts landing some nice jabs and Overeem is struggling to cope with the length and power. Volkov’s strikes landing through the guard of Overeem and he is busting him up bad. Overeem looks for a takedown but Volkov stops it easily and starts landing more shots. Overeem is badly hurt but he’s trying to fight back. Volkov lands a big left hand and Overeem falls to his knees and the referee waves it off to prevent further damage. What a performance from Volkov!