Over the past week, there have been a number of high profile fight announcements in both the UFC and Bellator. With four title fights announced and many other exciting fights slated, we take a brief look at each bout.
The light heavyweight champion Jon Jones returns at UFC 239 for International Fight Week. Jones’ opponent on this occasion will be the hard-hitting Brazillian Thiago Santos.
The last time we saw Jones was at UFC 235, where he defeated Anthony Smith by unanimous decision. If all goes to plan, this will be the third time we will have seen Jones compete in just over seven months. It is refreshing to see him staying so active, and with a win here, he could extend his undefeated streak to 17.
Santos was last in action at UFC Fight Night 145, where he defeated Jan Blachowicz. We picked Santos as one of our biggest winners following this event, and it seems we were correct. This will be Santos’ first shot at a UFC title, and as he always comes to fight, it’s sure to be exciting.
Amanda Nunes vs. Holly Holm
Joining Jones and Santos at UFC 239 will be a women’s bantamweight championship bout contested between the ‘champ champ’ Amanda Nunes and former 135-pound champion Holly Holm.
Holm will be returning for the first time since she defeated Megan Anderson at UFC 225. Having had successful knee surgery late last year, Holm will be looking to kick on and capture the title once again. This will be Holm’s fifth title fight for the promotion, where she holds a record of 1-3. Does she have the stand-up game to deal with the hard-hitting Nunes? Only time will tell.
The women’s 135 and 145-pound champion Amanda Nunes is arguably the scariest woman to ever enter the octagon. Riding an eight-fight winning streak, including six finishes, Nunes most recently captured the featherweight belt. Is Nunes the women’s GOAT? There can be no denying it if she beats Holm in July. She holds wins over Ronda Rousey, Miesha Tate, two wins over Valentina Shevchenko and one over Cris Cyborg, a win over Holm will certainly only further cement her legacy.
Henry Cejudo vs. Marlon Moraes
Another fight announcement this week was a bout between UFC flyweight champion Henry Cejudo and former WSOF champion Marlon Moraes. This bout will be for the recently relinquished bantamweight belt and will take place at UFC 238. Cejudo aims to become the fourth ‘champ champ’ in the promotion’s history, but Moraes has other plans.
Cejudo most recently knocked out TJ Dillashaw in the first round, in Dillashaw’s bid to become the flyweight champion. There were talks for a rematch between the two, this time for the bantamweight championship, but since Dillashaw relinquished the title, Cejudo will now face Moraes. This will be Cejudo’s first fight at 135 since his UFC debut in 2014.
Marlon Moraes is riding a four-fight winning streak and is 17-1 in his last 18 fights. Moraes is the clear contender at 135 after he beat perennial contender Raphael Assunção at UFC Fight Night 144.
With a win, Cejudo could be regarded as the greatest combat sports athlete ever. Olympic gold medalist and UFC double champion? It could be hard to deny. First, though, he has to get through the world-class Marlon Moraes.
Gegard Mousasi vs. Rafael Lovato Jr
Another title fight announcement this week came from Bellator between Gegard Mousasi and Rafael Lovato Jr. Although this bout was previously set for Bellator 214, the middleweight champion had to pull out with an injury. This bout will now take place at Bellator London on June 22nd.
Mousasi is undefeated under the Bellator banner and is on an eight-fight winning streak. His most high profile victory for Bellator came against Rory MacDonald. Mousasi dominated MacDonald, finishing him in the second round. Mousasi will return to the SSE Arena where he won the middleweight belt to defend against Lovato Jr.
Lovato Jr is one of the hottest rising fighters in MMA. Although at 35 he is far from a young prospect, at 9-0 he is certainly skilled. A fourth degree BJJ black belt, Lovato Jr is a multiple time Pan American gi and no-gi champion. With six submission wins in his MMA career, Lovato Jr is certainly to be feared on the ground and will provide a good test for Mousasi.
Some of Bellator’s most recognizable faces also had fight announcements this week. Paul Daley, Aaron Chalmers and James Gallagher will all join Mousasi and Lovato Jr at the SSE arena in June.
Tyron Woodley vs. Robbie Lawler 2
The headliner of UFC on ESPN 4 will be a rematch between two former welterweight champions Tyron Woodley and Robbie Lawler. The two previously met at UFC 201 in July 2016, where Woodley knocked out Lawler in the first round to capture the belt.
Since this bout, Woodley has had five championship fights, winning three, drawing one and most recently losing to Kamaru Usman. Lawler has gone 1-2, most recently losing to Ben Askren, albeit controversially.
Woodley did state on Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show that the bout is yet to be confirmed officially, however.
Francis Ngannou vs. Junior Dos Santos
A heavyweight fight announcement was also made this week between Francis Ngannou and Junior Dos Santos (JDS). This exciting match-up is slated for UFC 239 at international fight week.
This fight was originally scheduled for UFC 215, but JDS was pulled from the bout by USADA. Since then, JDS is 3-0 with two finishes and Ngannou is 2-2. Despite this, Ngannou has faced two former champions and a former title challenger.
This is a fight that has stand-up fanatics extremely excited. Can Ngannou land one of those big bombs and end it early? Or will JDS’s boxing be enough to keep Ngannou off and defeat The Predator?
Jorge Masvidal vs. Ben Askren
Yet another fight announcement this week came in the welterweight division. Again at UFC 239, Jorge Masvidal is slated to face Ben Askren. The number four ranked welterweight Masvidal is coming off a brutal knockout upset of Darren Till. A fight between Masivdal and Leon Edwards is what the fans wanted following their backstage brawl at UFC London, however, Askren gets the shot at Masvidal.
Askren himself was slated to rematch Robbie Lawler following the controversial finish to their bout at UFC 235. Despite this, Masvidal will face Askren in what may be seen as a number one contender fight.
These two men will join a stacked UFC 239 card, with two title fights, a big hitting heavyweight bout and the return of Luke Rockhold.
Other Fight Announcements
- A lightweight bout between Gilbert Burns and promotional returner Eric Wisley was also announced for UFC on ESPN 3.
- A featherweight bout between Shane Burgos and Cub Swanson was announced for UFC Fight Night 150. Swanson will be looking to snap a three-fight losing streak, whereas Burgos will be looking to kick on following his victory at UFC 230.
- Hard hitting Mike Perry steps in to face Alex Oliveria at UFC on ESPN 3. Perry replaces the injured Li Jingliang.
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