Cleat Geeks

Weigh-in Wednesday Special — The People vs. Demetrious Johnson

The flyweight division has never been more exciting than it is right now. Unfortunately for the reigning champion Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson it is not because there is a logjam at the top of the division or because there is a fresh set of challengers for his title. It’s because he’s gone back-and-forth now publicly with the UFC over the course of the past few weeks about who his next title challenger will be. If what he said last week on social media is true, it’s easy to see why he is frustrated and he isn’t in the wrong at all. For whatever reason, him and Dana White have never been able to see eye to eye and their differences and are now at a breaking point. According to him, he was offered a contract to fight Ray Borg and was basically forced to do so without PPV points. He was then told that with the injury to bantamweight champion Cody Garbrandt that he would now be fighting former champion TJ Dillashaw, who’s never had a fight at flyweight.

The jist of the story is that he wanted paid more and was denied that to only be told that he is fighting TJ Dillashaw whether he likes it or not. Dana White has done everything but accuse him of ducking TJ, saying last week that “he makes the fights, not Mighty Mouse.” Let’s face it, the UFC is all about selling fights and PPVs. That has become more evident over time and top contenders in divisions have taken back seats to undeserving title challengers multiple times now. It’s just the way their business works now, whether we all like it or not. When looking at the big picture, which again for them is making money, TJ Dillashaw vs. DJ is much more marketable and interesting than Ray Borg vs. DJ. That’s the bottom line and I think that is why they will continue to push for that fight.

Unfortunately for the UFC, there really are only two outcomes to this. First, DJ agrees to fight Dillashaw and gives in to the UFC’s demands and we have a great PPV headliner or co-main event. The only other possible outcome is a drawn-out, ugly battle between an employee and an employer. Not only will you upset one of your best champions who, prior to now, has never complained about the challengers put in front of him, but you also send a message to the rest of your fighters that you don’t really care what they think. That’s also become very evident over the last few years with the way things have been ran. They’ve already formed a fighter’s union, although we haven’t heard much about that in a while, and they’re going to start sticking together. I don’t think a strike is something that we are too far away from seeing in the UFC. The number of guys happy with the UFC and its structure is very small, when you’ve managed to upset your champions you’ve got a real problem on your hands.

DJ is not a superstar and he’s not done a very good job of marketing himself, yet he’s very quick to point out that the UFC doesn’t make any attempts to market him. It’s both of their jobs to market themselves and quite frankly, in his case they both have failed. He’s not a household name in MMA, but he is a completely dominant champion, maybe the most dominant we’ve ever seen in the UFC. Yet for all of his accomplishments, he’s been stuck on a lot of free TV cards to defend the title he’s held since it came to be in September of 2012. He’s beat Joseph Benavidez and John Dodson twice, both in convincing fashion, he’s disposed of BJJ black belts Wilson Reis and Chris Cariaso and he finished Olympic Gold Medalist Henry Cejudo in the first round. 5 of his 10 title fights have appeared on free TV, while 6 other title fights in history have appeared on free TV. That should tell you everything you need to know about DJ and his relationship, or lack thereof, with the UFC.

The UFC isn’t entirely in the wrong here, Dana is right about him making the fights and not DJ. However, DJ claims to have never been one to pick and choose who he fights, and if that is the case, this is how you treat the ultimate company man? When the UFC and a fighter have a public problem, there’s usually the UFC’s side of the story, the fighter’s side of the story and somewhere in there lies the truth. This feud is just getting started and it has all the potential to get very ugly.

UFC Fight Night Predictions

Rafael Dos Anjos vs. Tarec Saffiedine

What bad luck Dos Anjos has had in the last 18 months. He went from being the lightweight champion of the world and having a fight booked with kingpin Conor McGregor to fighting 12th-ranked Tarec Saffiedine in his debut at 170 pounds. One ankle injury changed the trajectory of his entire career. He’s lost two straight which, along with a gruesome weight cut, has led to his new home at welterweight. He finds himself matched up with a fighter who has also lost a lot of steam over the past few years. Saffiedine came over to the UFC from Strikeforce back in 2013 but injuries have kept him from fighting for the majority of that time, with just 5 fights in the last 4 and a half years. These two are very different fighters in that Dos Anjos is looking to pressure while Saffiedine would prefer to counter and fight from outside distance. Both fighters are currently riding two-fight losing streaks, and although the loser will likely keep his job in the UFC, they both desperately need a win here. Saffiedine is just 2-3 in his 5 performances in the UFC, none of which were spectacular or overly exciting. Dos Anjos suffered a TKO loss to Eddie Alvarez last July when he lost his title and then lost an exciting, 5-round war against Tony Ferguson. Pressure should be his biggest weapon here and his improved striking since his run as lightweight champion has helped him evolve his overall game. Saffiedine and Dos Anjos both have some of the most vicious leg and body kicks in all of MMA and we will certainly see a lot of that. Both fighters have good ground skills and cardio, while Saffiedine will employ a 2-inch height advantage. Dos Anjos looked good in his last performance but Ferguson just simply looked better. The same can’t be said for Saffiedine as he’s been gunshy throughout his career. It’s paid off in the past but waiting for openings in the UFC won’t get you very far. Dos Anjos wins a decision to get back on track.


Dong Hyun Kim vs. Colby Covington

Dong Hyun Kim has been around the UFC for a long time and he’s beat some of the toughest guys in the division. He owns wins over Nate Diaz, Matt Brown, TJ Grant and Paula Thiago. In between those wins he has lost to the elite of the 170-pound division and has been somewhat inconsistent. His wrestling and top game is one of the best in the division and he throws strikes to end fights. That cost him dearly against current champion Tyron Woodley back in 2014, but he has since rebounded to win 3 straight. He now faces rising contender Colby Covington, whose style is eerily similar. The former NCAA Division 1 All-American has been working on his striking as well to complement his ground skills. Covington is still young in the sport but has all the skills to be a force in the welterweight division. The winner of this fight and the first fight on the card could very well find themselves matched up against each other. While Covington has the athleticism and skillset to be a force, people seem to forget how big “Stun Gun” is and just how suffocating his top game is. He’s Jon Fitch with powerful, albeit wild, striking. Kim wins by second-round TKO.


Andrei Arlovski vs. Marcin Tybura

Arlovski’s career has been a rollercoaster ride since day one, that’s simply just who he is, down but never out. A loss here would be his fifth in a row and would likely mark his final fight in the UFC for a second time. His 1st-round TKO loss to current champion Stipe Miocic was just the start of a downfall, as he’s since been finished 3 more times to Alistair Overeem, Josh Barnett and Francis Ngannou, respectively. The Jackson-Wink product now finds himself with his back against the wall at the age of 38, although it seems like he should be much older than that. His opponent has a very small sample of UFC fights, winning back-to-back fights via knockout after dropping his debut. Tybura no doubt wants to keep this fight standing and these two should trade punches until one of them falls down, probably sooner rather than later. I see that person being Tybura. He reminds me of a slower, less athletic Ben Rothwell and you can take that for what it’s worth. This won’t necessarily signal another career resurgence for Arlovski, but he wins here via knockout in the first round.


Holly Holm vs. Bethe Correia

I really can’t remember the last time I was less excited about a main event bout. Holly Holm is a one hit wonder at this point, the Buster Douglas of MMA and there really isn’t much she can do to drop that title. Beating Bethe Correia proves that she still belongs in the top 10 of the division but not much else other than that. This fight is a way of putting 2 women who are former Rousey opponents on a main event status fight and make them feel special. Have I mentioned how much I hate this fight? It doesn’t really improve either woman’s standing in a somewhat open division due to Rousey’s absence. Holm shocked the world in November of 2015 when she beat Ronda Rousey, yet she’s done little to resemble that woman since. She dropped the title in her next fight against Miesha Tate, a fight she largely controlled until a fifth-round takedown turned into a rear-naked choke. Still, you’ve got to give her credit for not only beating Rousey but for going to sleep as opposed to tapping against Tate. She’s since then dropped back-to-back decisions to current title challenger Valentina Shevchenko and new featherweight and maybe-not-much-longer featherweight champion Germaine de Randamie. Rousey fell right into the trap and the counter ability that Holm possesses and if Correia isn’t careful, she will get caught in her web as well. Correia is a strange fighter herself, having 3 split decisions on a short, 13-fight MMA career. Holm’s lack of activity and willingness to engage has cost her the last two decision losses and another one would spell doom for her short career. She’s a marketable name in the women’s division if only for the Rousey win, but another loss and she may find herself without a job. Correia and Marion Reneau fought to a very odd draw a few months ago while she stole a split decision from Jessica Eye prior to that. We saw a lot of fighters who fought GSP and lost fall off the face of the earth and fail to ever resurface and we are seeing the same from a lot of Rousey’s opponents. This should be an interesting fight pitting strikers against one another, while I expect coaching to be the difference. Greg Jackson does what he does best and prepares another brilliant game plan and leads Holm to her first win since the Rousey defeat. Holly Holm by decision is the pick.

The Belizean Bruiser – UFC’s Bantamweight Rising Star

#PinkCleats #DraftQueens


UFC. Ultimate Fighting Championship. The images that come to mind when I even say that make me cringe. From sitting on the opponent’s chest and beating their face in, to submissions and arm-bars, to blood and more blood. Truly a violent Gladiator sport. Whoever would have thought a lady… a school teacher lady at that… would be such an X-Factor in this sport? Oh, and did I mention that we’re related? Marion “Belizean Bruiser” Reneau, the fastest female rising star to grace the cage. While Marion may not be your typical UFC Fighter, she is an all star in many ways. 

#PinkGeeks #DraftQueens

UFC’s Bantamweight Rising Star

The Bruiser has been training for 10 years in the sport. Considering she was 29 when she began training, and will be 40 in a few days, she may have age against her, but that’s not how she see’s it. When she was turned down for The Ultimate Fighter 18 (TUF) solely due to age. Asking her about this experience, she says, “There was no concern on my behalf, their only concern is a 40-year-old beating them up.” This must be true if President of UFC Dana White, publicly apologized for not allowing her on TUF, while being okay with younger girls who eat at In and Out while training. Reneau is in her prime and always willing to take the next giant leap. She has always been athletic from a very young age. She excelled in soccer in High School, ran track and was a heptathlete in college. That training not only has given her a physical and mental advantage, but she is a beast at time management.

All of us want to accomplish goals and do more with our lives. But few actually do it. To Reneau sitting around and waiting for something or someone to change your life is a no-no. “If you want to change your life you have to take one step forward at a time to get it done. Saying it over and over won’t do it, and making excuses won’t cut it. I hear all the time I’m too busy, I have kids, I work full-time. I look at them and say, and so do I.” When not in the Cage, The Bruiser educates high schoolers (consisting of lesson planning, teaching, grading assignments, as well as classroom behavior), is a mother to 1 young man and 1 cool dog, and her training (including 4-mile runs and several classes with multiple styles). When summer or school breaks hit, she is full-time training and full-time momming. She also admits that while she may eat some Doritos or Gummy Bears, her guilty pleasure to wash all the day away is working in her garden.

#PinkGeeks #DraftQueens

Reneau’s record sits at 7 wins, 3 losses, and 1 draw. While it is public knowledge that she doesn’t accept the draw decision, she knows exactly what she needs to do for it not to happen again. I asked her if she could expand her thoughts on what she didn’t accept about the draw, and here is what she had to say, “It’s plain and simple, yes I did win that fight. But because of the location of the fight, the judges were biased. I think in order to resolve that, we need to bring international judges for fights that occur in countries where the culture is strong.” When asked if this was an ongoing issue in the UFC fighter community she expounded saying, “Oh Heck Yes! Especially in Brazil! The judging out there is the worst, you either have to finish your opponent or completely dominate them. Round 1 was close between my opponent and me, but I won hands down and Round 3 was definitely a win for me as well.” It’s no secret MMA judging criteria have faced many controversies over the years, and even with changes and propositions like Reneau’s or even this one, the high culture aspect may never be changed. After all Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is just that, Brazilian. It also isn’t the first sport to have issues with international judging.

#PinkGeeks #DraftQueens

The Belizean Bruiser Beatdown

Scenario’s such as the draw and any other perceived setbacks have only made Reneau, a better competitor. Each fight she comes away with another nugget on how to improve her training. She knows it is a process and part of the process is to mentally be stronger, to train smarter, to train harder, as well as to learn to “hear my own voice and say no when I need to.” This mental breakthrough came after participating in one of the worst training camps of her life where she entered into a fight injured, which also caused her to lose the fight. During fights she is mentally clear and relying on exceptional training, before a fight, her mantra is KILL or BE KILLED. Currently, she is focused on climbing to the top and making as much money as she can in the sport. She doesn’t want to jump all the way up to the top of the leaderboards, though she does see herself there.

#PinkGeeks #DraftQueens


Recently she has been calling for her next fight on social media she doesn’t have any specific opponent in mind, but she did say, “I want a Top-10 opponent. I have earned it.” Currently, she is ranked #12 in the Women’s Bantamweight class. She can do this if she sticks to what she has learned from her previous fights. “I want to focus on finishing my fights. It seems like every time I let it go to decision, I end up losing.” When I sit back and look at the women’s rankings, and knowing she wants a top-10 opponent, I would set her up against Julianna Pena, with similar amounts of fights and loses it should be a no-brainer choice for those making the match-ups, as well as provide a high enough ranked opponent for Reneau to make the mark she deserves to make.

#PinkGeeks #DraftQueens

Calling out the next fight.

Wearing many hats is never easy, but Marion Reneau does it with grace. One of the highlights of her day is when her students Snapchat her while they are playing the UFC game as her, or random tickle attacks plaguing the Reneau household which can turn into a grappling match at any given moment with her son. These are the moment’s the nearly 40-year-old, mother, teacher, and MMA fighter will never take for granted.

Fights to Make After UFC 212

Now that the interviews are over, the blood has been spilled and the hands have been raised on another successful UFC event it is time to look into the UFC crystal ball and predict some matches that would make sense moving forward as more events unfold for the remainder of the 2017 calendar year. Therefore, we will look each match from the UFC 212 fight card and give possible opponents for both the winner and looser.

Erick Silva vs. Yancy Medeiros

Erick Silva was highly touted as a rising contender in the 170-pound division just a few short years ago. He has won back-to-back fights just one time in his 15-fight career. He has shown flashes of brilliance but needs to head back to the drawing board after suffering his fourth knockout loss in as many years. A fight with fellow veteran UFC fighter Ben Saunders, who is also coming off a knockout loss, would help him get back on the right track. Yancy Medeiros is now 2-0 since returning to the welterweight divison and has the aggressive style to win some fans over. A fight with Emil Meek would provide the fans with a fun slugfest and would be a good litmus test for both fighters.


Oluwale Bamgbose vs. Paulo Borrachinha

Bamgbose showed his heart and iron chin in the second-round TKO loss but has a fan favorite style and should find himself back in the Octagon soon. He expended a lot of energy in the first round and paid for it by wearing himself out. He’s an incredible athlete and the UFC should book him opposite Alex Nicholson, who is coming off a knockout loss from last week. Borrachinha remains undefeated in the Octagon and looks to get a big fight in his next outing after this impressive performance. The majority of the top 25 in the middleweight division is already booked for upcoming fights but Borrachinha needs to be put against a respected veteran for his next fight. Fights with the returning David Branch or longtime vet Thales Leites make the most sense.


Nate Marquardt vs. Vitor Belfort

Nate Marquardt is just 3-7 since returning to the UFC in 2013 and should be cut from the roster. He’s had a great career but has proven that he can no longer compete with the elite in the division and should retire or be cut before he suffers more knockouts. Vitor Belfort, should he decide to sign a new contract with the UFC, should be placed in a rematch with Anderson Silva. Both fighters are at the end of their careers but still have something to offer in the division. Neither fighter should be close to title contention and at this point are just fighting for the money and pride. It makes perfect sense to match them up once again rather than run the risk of destroying another young prospect.


Karolina Kowalkiewicz vs. Claudia Gadelha

Karolina was no match for the clear 2nd best strawweight in the world, getting submitted in the first round of their co-main event fight. She has now lost two straight, respectfully, and should look to rebound alongside Michelle Waterson. Waterson was recently submitted by Rose Namajunas and also looking to get back on the right track. Gadelha has lost only two professional fights, both to the current champion. If she isn’t able to get a third fight with the champion the UFC should book her against Randa Markos, who is fresh off a decision win against former champion Carla Esparza.


Jose Aldo vs. Max Holloway

Jose Aldo is now 1-2 in his last 3 fights in the UFC but shouldn’t fall too far in the featherweight rankings. An immediate rematch is not likely to happen with the way this fight finished. A rematch with Cub Swanson from the WEC days make the most sense for the former champion. Their 2009 meeting ended in just 8 seconds when Aldo blasted him with a flying knee to win via TKO. A rematch between the two would likely serve as a number one contender’s match. Max Holloway should be matched up with Frankie Edgar, who we last saw just last month at UFC 211 when he beat Yair Rodriguez by second-round TKO (doctor’s stoppage.) There are other options available for the newly-crowned champion but a bout with Edgar would provide him with a stiff test and a great fight for fans.

Weigh-in Wednesday; Predicting 125-155 Pound Champions By Years End

Flyweight – Current Champion – Demetrious Johnson


The man they call Mighty Mouse is fresh off another brilliant performance in his drubbing of BJJ wizard Wilson Reis. Once again, he made a BJJ black belt tap. He has made some of the best strikers in the division look mediocre in the stand-up game and he’s made multiple submission artists tap to a multitude of different submission techniques. He also tied Anderson Silva for the most consecutive title defenses in UFC history with 10. He looks poised to surpass that and make it an almost unreachable goal. The Ultimate Fighter winner Tim Elliott was able to win some ground scrambles and put the champion in territory he wasn’t familiar with and make him sweat. He was able to overcome the early first-round near-submission and cruise to a comfortable decision. He’s made some of the best flyweights in the world look average at best and was able to nullify the wrestling of Olympic gold medalist Henry Cejudo. In his reign as champion in the UFC, he has shown absolutely no holes in his game, with the all-around game to defeat the best in the business with rather ease. Still, every Superman has his kryptonite and I think he will find his sooner rather than later. Although he’s one of the greatest of all time and has the skills to defeat any prospect, I think he will find his kryptonite this year. Jackson-trained prospect Ray Borg will dethrone the champion in late 2017.


2018 champion – Ray Borg


Bantamweight – Current Champion – Cody Garbrandt


Cody Garbrandt became the first UFC fighter to solve the Dominick Cruz puzzle, taking a decision and the strap from the dominant bantamweight at UFC 207. Although an immediate rematch seemed inevitable, Cruz decided to take some time off and award TJ Dillashaw a title shot after their current running of The Ultimate Fighter. Garbrandt is still very young and hasn’t shown any weaknesses in the Octagon, winning 9 of his 11 professional MMA bouts by knockout or TKO. He has a background in wrestling as well which was on display against Cruz and will be a tough out for anyone at bantamweight. He has some unfinished business with former training partner TJ Dillashaw, who presents a very unique challenge, but one not all that different from Cruz. Garbrandt looked the part of a guy who could hang on to the title for a long time but the matchup with Dillasahaw will tell us a lot about him and his future. Although I think it’s too early to tell how dominant of a champion he will or won’t be, I think he passes the Dillashaw test and potentially one more before the end of 2017.


2018 champion – Cody Garbrandt


Featherweight – Current champion – Jose Aldo (champion), Max Holloway (interim)


Jose Aldo and Max Holloway meet next month to unify the 145-pound belts and that fight has many people drooling. The aura of invincibility that Aldo once had is gone, thanks to the 13-second KO from Conor McGregor at UFC 194 in December of 2015. Aldo got back on track at UFC 200 with a one-sided beating of Frankie Edgar to recapture the vacant belt. By the time he steps in the cage (assuming he does) at UFC 212, he will be competing in just his third fight in three years. That’s alarm for a guy who is not getting any younger, has been KO’d for the first time recently, and has been publicly questioned since the USADA era was ushered in. During that same three-year span, Max Holloway has fought and defeated 7 of the very best featherweights in the world. He’s finished Charles Oliveira, Cub Swanson and Anthony Pettis in that time. He’s rattled off 10 straight since losing a decision to Conor McGregor in 2013 and looks like a man possessed and certain to claim gold. 3 or 4 years ago this fight wouldn’t have many excited, but the 2017 version of Jose Aldo seems much more likely to lose than the 2013 or 2014 versions. Holloway told the media after his finish of Pettis that he was “the baddest mother f**ker on two feet,” and that he’d fight whoever he had to. I’m riding the Holloway train until it derails, he has my vote.


2018 champion – Max Holloway


Lightweight – Current champion – Conor McGregor

The Conor McGregor circus continues unfortunately. While I have the utmost respect for him and his abilities, it’s time to decide what you want to do with your future. Last week there were rumors of a bout between him and welterweight champion Tyron Woodley at UFC 213 in July. Those were quickly shot down and since then the universe has diverted its attention back to the circus that is the McGregor-Mayweather saga. For the record, I don’t think Conor will defend his belt by the end of the year, and hopefully to save some face the UFC strips him of his belt. Ferguson and Khabib can’t seem to get on the same page on a booking, Nate Diaz wants $20 million and the rest of the division is pretty well booked for fights right now. This one is the flip of a coin and I really don’t know how it unfolds in the next 7 months. Diaz was supposedly offered an interim lightweight title fight against Ferguson but has yet to accept. Khabib is recognizing Ramadan and doesn’t appear to be able to fight anytime soon. The UFC needs to find a dance partner for Ferguson and sooner rather than later. Whoever that may be, I think he’s good enough to defeat them and ride into 2018 the lightweight champion of the world.


2018 champion – Tony Ferguson

Still need more MMA? Would you like to listen to a great MMA podcast while you read the rest of the articles on Cleatgeeks? Then listen to the MMA News Podcast presented by Pony Keg Sports. In the latest episode, they interview Bellator MMA fighter Brent Primus.

Weigh-In Wednesday; Predicting UFC Women’s Champions By Years End

Women’s Strawweight – Current Champion – Joanna Jedrzejczyk


Joanna Champion, because I have to google how to spell her last name, is one of the most dominant champions in all of the sport today. She claimed the title from Carla Esparza in March of 2015 and has since defended her title successfully 4 consecutive times without much trouble. Karolina was able to rock her late in her last defense but aside from that she’s rarely been challenged inside of the Octagon. She is set to defend her title next weekend opposite former bantamweight Jessica Andrade. Andrade has found new life at 115 pounds and has rattled off three straight since moving down. The Brazilian could make this fight interesting if she is able to get it to the ground but no one has been able to consistently ground the champion thus far and it’s hard to imagine a scenario where someone can. Joanna’s striking is by a wide margin the best in the strawweight division, a Muay Thai specialist with knockout power and a seemingly unlimited gas tank. Claudia Gadelha was able to take her to decision twice but it’s very difficult for a contender to get a third shot, even if it’s in a shallow division, just ask Joseph Benavidez. Although there are many mores names she has yet to fight who could challenger for her title, it’s difficult to envision anyone dethroning her. For that reason, I see Joanna being the champion through the end of 2017 and for a long time.


2018 champion – Joanna Jedrzejczyk


Women’s Bantamweight – Current Champion – Amanda Nunes


Amanda Nunes may have ended the career of Ronda Rousey, but she’s got a tough challenge ahead in Valentina Shevchenko. The two look to lock horns by mid-summer, possibly at UFC 213 or 214. Nunes has great striking and is absolutely fearless inside the Octagon but she has a blaring weakness—her cardio, or lack thereof. She fights much like a female version of Conor McGregor, with precision striking and relentless pressure, but much like her male counterpart tends to fate earlier rather than later. Valentina is fresh off back-to-back wins over former titleholder Holly Holm and a brilliant performance in a second-round submission of Julianna Pena. Although Valentina’s most recent loss comes to Nunes, she appears to have put it all together inside the Octagon and appeared as if she’d have probably taken a decision from Nunes had it been a five-round affair. Nunes has the ability to turn the lights off for any bantamweight on the women’s roster but Shevchenko won’t be lured into a fire fight and will fight calm and collected. Nunes hasn’t shown us much on the ground but she has finished two of her UFC fights via submission so she certainly is no slouch. Shevchenko fought the perfect game plan against Holly Holm in her destruction of her and I expect a mild upset in her second affair with Nunes. Shevchenko should do enough to dethrone Nunes in their second bout, but with the bantamweight title and the hot potato treatment it endured in 2016, it’s anyone’s guess as to who the champion is by year’s end. Shevchenko may defend her title late in the year should she emerge victorious but she will likely continue her reign on the division.

If you can’t get enough MMA with this great article alone and you want more, then we here @cleatgeeks can help you with that teaming with our good friends @ponykegsports with the MMA News Podcast. This week Tim and Josh discuss the results of UFC 211 and interview  Luke “The Jedi” Jumeau.


2018 champion – Valentina Shevchenko


Women’s Featherweight – Current Champion – Germaine de Randamie

Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

De Randamie had a mild upset win over Holly Holm in her most recent performance, albeit an underwhelming one, to become the inaugural women’s featherweight champion. Her short reign as champion has been clouded by controversy though, stemming from her illegal shots landed on Holm, which were her most significant strikes landed, after the bell rang. Although she claims innocence, she was guilty of that one on two occasions and that changed the entire fight. She has since considered retirement, according to viable sources on the internet, and doesn’t seem thrilled about the prospect of fighting “Cyborg.” You can’t blame her, I have the sneaking suspicion that most of the men in the featherweight division wouldn’t agree to fight Cyborg in the Octagon. She showed a lot of patience in her title fight against Holm, who lacks the same killer instinct she showed against Rousey in the biggest upset in UFC history. Although she is a very complete fighter and has a high fight IQ, if she is placed inside locked doors with Cyborg she will find herself on the losing end. The fact that the fight hasn’t been booked yet is concerning to say the least, and Cyborg has made a feud with the UFC public. She’s still, however, the most promising superstar on the women’s roster in Rousey’s absence and will get her wish in a big pay day and a UFC title.

2018 Champion – Cris “Cyborg”




UFC 211 Predictions

Henry Cejudo vs. Sergio Pettis

The main card kicks off with an exciting flyweight contest between up-and-coming Sergio Pettis and former title challenger Henry Cejudo. Cejudo looks to avoid a 3-fight losing streak after suffering a first-round TKO to champion Demetrious Johnson and being on the wrong end of a controversial, split decision against Joseph Benavidez. A win against Pettis will show that Cejudo belongs in the mix for another title shot but will put him at least one more win away from another shot at gold. Pettis has enjoyed mixed success at flyweight and bantamweight in his career but is currently riding a 3-fight win streak. He looks to move out of the shadow of older brother Anthony Pettis and move into title contention with a win over the former Olympic Gold medalist. Pettis’ improved ground game will not do him much good against Cejudo and his smothering wrestling base. If he can keep this fight standing he has a good chance to take a decision but Cejudo’s wrestling will likely be the difference maker in this fight. Pettis is still growing as a fighter and has a great style to give Cejudo trouble if he can keep it upright, but that doesn’t seem likely over the course of 15 minutes. Neither fighter has finished a fight inside the Octagon so a finish her is unlikely but not entirely out of the question for the former title challenger. The more likely outcome is a wrestling clinic from Cejudo on his way to a unanimous, 30-27 scorecard sweep.


Frankie Edgar vs. Yair Rodriguez

Yair Rodriguez is a star in the making and could elevate the level of interest in Mexico. The UFC has done him no favors in matching him up with Frankie Edgar, who is a former lightweight champion and 2-time featherweight title challenger. If you were going to build a guy who could give the young, athletic, unorthodox Rodriguez fits, it would be Frankie Edgar. He has an endless gas tank, a seemingly impenetrable chin, great wrestling and boxing. There really aren’t any holes in Edgar’s game, the truth is that Jose Aldo is just too good for him. The size advantage for Rodriguez should allow him to stay at range with Edgar and pick his shots while he will boast a sizeable reach and height advantage. Whether he can use that effectively against a guy as smart and talented as Edgar is still to be determined. A win for Rodriguez likely nets him a title shot while a win for Edgar probably wouldn’t warrant a third title shot in 4 years time. Edgar has good boxing but will need to close the distance against the dangerous Rodriguez to give him trouble and we will almost certainly see the surging Rodriguez on his back at some point. He has good submissions and good takedown defense and a three-round affair may benefit him as we’ve seen Edgar in trouble early in his fights numerous times. Gray Maynard was able to tag him early in both fights and Frankie hasn’t fought someone as tall, long and athletic as Rodriguez in all his time in the UFC. If this fight stays standing it is Rodriguez’s fight to lose but I don’t see that happening all that much. Frankie wins a close, split decision while Yair proves he belongs in the top 5.


Demian Maia vs. Jorge Masvidal

Speaking of wanting to keep fights standing, Jorge Masvidal will look to do only that against Demian Maia. Don’t listen to him tell you that he can hang with Maia on the ground and has better grappling, he knows that to be untrue just as well as the rest of us. If he can keep this fight off the ground he will absolutely win, and probably by a knockout of some sort. If Maia does what he does best, snatches a limb and drags him to the ground, it could be a very short night for Masvidal. The win over Cerrone put him on the map and the 170-pound division on notice. He seems to have all the tools needed to beat Maia and contend for gold but despite what he thinks it is not an easy fight for him. Maia made quick work of Carlos Condit in his most recent bout and has outgrappled some of the very best at welterweight and middleweight. His takedowns have been incredible in his last few fights and when he gets opponents there it is just a matter of time before he makes them succumb to a submission of some kind. His striking has never and will never be a factor in fights, he looks only to get opponents to the ground in his world. If he is successful against Masvidal, there is a good chance he will get his second shot at gold against Tyron Woodley. Both guys present unique challenges for the welterweight champion but have different routes to victory. This contest should decide the next challenger for Woodley and isn’t likely to make it to the scorecards. Maia knows that he is close and took a huge risk by facing Masvidal. He will pay for it in the end and falls to punches from his opponent. Masvidal by first-round TKO is the pick.


Joanna Jedrzejczyk vs. Jessica Andrade

Joanna champion looks to defend her title once more and solidify her place as the most dominant women’s champion in the sport today. With Rousey out of the picture, she is arguably the best female fighter on the roster and one of the most marketable overseas. She will have a tough time with Jessica Andrade 2.0, who looks like a woman possessed right now. Andrade has been nothing short of dominant since dropping down to strawweight, dispatching of Jessica Penne, Joanne Calderwood and Angela Hill. It may seem as if she is getting a title shot by process of elimination, and while that isn’t entirely untrue, she is a deserving challenger for the 115-pound title. This fight card has featured a lot of striker vs. grappler matchups and this one is really no different. While Andrade does have knockout power, Joanna’s gas tank would most likely allow her to chew up the challenger if she is unsuccessful getting her to the ground. If she can ground the champion even a few times, she could do enough to steal rounds or lock up a tight submission. Joanna hasn’t allowed that to happen yet and she is riding an undefeated streak in her professional MMA career. She hasn’t been tested much at all but Andrade could give her problems if she isn’t on her game. Joanna has some of the most fearsome muay thai in all of the UFC, including that from the men’s divisions. Her combinations are other worldly and although she hasn’t finished a fight since her drubbing of Jessica Penne, she does have the ability to turn out the lights. Andrade most likely packs more in each punch but Joanna throws volume and lands a high percentage. This fight will be a great back-and-forth affair, very similar to the Claudia fights. This time the champion will find a finish late. Joanna by fourth-round TKO is the pick here.


Stipe Miocic vs. Junior dos Santos

Again, the pattern here for UFC 211 is the striker vs. grappler matchup. On the surface, this fight may seem like the same, with dos Santos and his great boxing against Miocic and his underrated wrestling pedigree. You’d be sadly mistaken if you thought that is how this fight would play out. Dos Santos stuffed all but one of Miocic’s attemtps in the first fight and Miocic still almost did enough to win a decision. Their first bout seems like an eternity ago. Since then we have seen Junior dos Santos fall to Alistair Overeem while Stipe has defeated some of the best in the world including Overeem himself. This fight will take place mostly standing with both fights looking for the knockout. The Junior dos Santos of old seemed long gone after suffering two losses to then-champion Cain Velasquez and Alistar Overeem. He bounced back nicely in his last fight, a one-sided beating of Ben Rothwell. I’m not saying that the Junior who ran the heavyweight division for a few years is back, but he did rebound nicely and is a former champion with a well-rounded skillset. Miocic may look to get this fight to the ground again, especially if he is not successful standing, but that isn’t likely to work any better now than it did back in December of 2014. Their first fight was extremely close and I truly believe that dos Santos overlooked Miocic and found himself hurt on multiple occasions. Dos Santos faded late in the losses to Cain but went five full rounds with Stipe after those losses. Stipe was in bad trouble against Overeem in his last fight but somehow overcame being rocked early and bounced back to show that he is a deserving champion with some serious heart. Stipe’s power has been on full display lately and may have even grown recently, winning his last five fights by some form of knockout. He knocked Fabricio Werdum out cold with a counter while backpedaling and destroyed Mark Hunt before finishing him late in the fifth and final round in front of his hometown Australia crowd. Simply put, he’s a man on a mission and dos Santos is a shell of his former self. The dos Santos from 2011 likely puts Stipe away but that man is long gone. Stipe by third-round knockout is the pick.



Weigh-in Wednesday — Big Opportunities at UFC 211


Yair Rodriguez is scheduled to lock horns with multiple time title challenger Frankie Edgar this weekend at UFC 211. A win against the likes of Edgar should net him a title shot against the winner of next month’s marquee match-up between Max Holloway and Jose Aldo. Unfortunately for him, a win for Frankie Edgar likely doesn’t get him another featherweight title shot as he’s already come up short twice in two title fights against Jose Aldo. A win against Rodriguez and a win by Max Holloway may be enough to give him a third title shot against a fresh title holder, but a win by Aldo almost certainly doesn’t set up a third fight. Edgar was undersized at lightweight and he’s still at least somewhat undersized at featherweight. Moving down a division was the best move he’s made in his career but another move down to bantamweight may be in the near future for the former lightweight champion.

Rodriguez is still very young, both in his personal life and in his UFC career, with a 6-0 mark in the UFC at the age of 24. He rose to fame by winning The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America season and has quickly risen the rankings of the featherweight division. His fighting style has made him even more popular, with a high-pressure attack that includes a vast display of unorthodox striking. His drubbing of BJ Penn was his breakout fight, destroying the former lightweight champion before finishing him in the second round. The fight prior against Alex Caceres proved that he has the gas tank needed to use his fighting style over the course of a five-round battle. He is taking a big step up in competition for this fight, Frankie Edgar hasn’t lost a non-title fight since 2008. He also presents a unique challenge with his wrestling abilities, of which Rodriguez has not faced yet in the UFC.

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Jorge Masvidal is set to take on Demian Maia this weekend at UFC 211 and the winner of this fight should, I repeat should, face Tyron Woodley for the welterweight title. Jorge Masvidal has found himself on the wrong end of split decisions three times in his UFC career but has found great success at 170 lb. His most recent win was a performance of the night winner against Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone, a fight he won by TKO in the second round. He lobbied on social media for the fight with Cowboy, confident that he had what it took to defeat him and he did just that. That fight put him on the map and made him an instant contender in a somewhat shallow division. Woodley retaining his title against Stephen Thompson for the second straight time all but ensures that whoever wins this match-up will fight Woodley. However, we’ve seen stranger things happen in the UFC and Nick Diaz’s name has been tossed around an awful lot lately regarding the next welterweight title challenger.

Unlike the first match-up we discussed, this fight should grant the winner a title shot regardless of who wins and how. Demian Maia is on a 6-fight win streak since losing to former title challenger Rory MacDonald at UFC 170 in 2014. During that streak, he has submitted the likes of Neil Magny, Matt Brown and Carlos Condit while utterly dominating Gunnar Nelson and Ryan LaFlare. Although it’s tough to forget his title shot against Anderson Silva at UFC 112 in Abu Dhabi, he shouldn’t get passed over for a shot at Woodley if he comes out victorious Saturday. Again, this division seems to be in somewhat of limbo right now, especially with Woodley already starting a fight camp for July. If the winner comes out unscathed there is certainly the possibility of a quick turn-around to fight in 2 months. However, if either man leaves the fight victorious and injured, the welterweight division could be turned upside down.


Sergio Pettis lost his flyweight debut opposite Ryan Benoit but has since won 3 straight in his true home weight class. He enjoyed mixed success at 135 pounds but was ultimately undersized in a division ruled by guys who cut a lot of weight to enjoy that size advantage. Moving down to flyweight has paid dividends for his career and if he wins on Saturday against Henry Cejudo, he will be among the elite at 125 pounds and could challenge flyweight king Demetrious Johnson very soon. Although he has no finishes in the UFC, he’s been a solid prospect going 3-1 at flyweight and an impressive 3-1 at bantamweight as well. He’s got without question the biggest test of his career in Henry Cejudo this weekend, who is coming off a loss to perennial contender Joseph Benavidez. A third straight loss for Cejudo would take him out of title contention for the near future and possibly longer. Sergio Pettis has always been known as Anthony’s brother, but a win against Cejudo and he can shed that name and make one of his own.

Henry Cejudo has one of the best wrestling resumes in the UFC, if not the best overall. He became the youngest Olympic wrestling champion in US history in 2008 at age 22. He has transitioned very well into the world of MMA and is a nightmare match-up for most of the guys in the division, Sergio Pettis included. It’s no secret where he would like this fight to take place, yet most opponents are unable to thwart his wrestling attacks. He will give up a 5-inch reach disadvantage to Pettis in this fight and that could play a big factor in this fight. He went 4-0 in the UFC before being given a title shot against Mighty Mouse, after finding early success and landing a takedown he was finished halfway through the first round with body shots and follow up punches. He then dropped a split decision, a controversial one at that, to Joseph Benavidez. He needs to right the ship now while he’s still young. If he can come out victorious on Saturday he won’t find himself in another title fight, but he won’t be too far away.


You’ve just got to feel sorry for Eddie Alvarez whether you like him or not. At UFC 205 he laid an egg and was finished and destroyed by Conor McGregor for the world to see. He helped the king of the UFC make his way into the history books and boosted his career even more. He says he’s used that loss as motivation for this fight and moving forward but I’m not sure I believe all of that. Hopefully for his sake he comes into UFC 211 prepared, because he’s taking on Dustin Poirier, who also has something to prove. Both fighters have now been brutally knocked out by McGregor, which makes this match-up even more compelling. Alvarez became the champion by knocking out Rafael Dos Anjos but would never successfully defend the UFC belt. He’s fought the best fighters in the world between his time in the UFC and Bellator, only losing to the absolute best.

Dustin Poirier became one of the first fighters in recent memory to go up a weight class and enjoy more success. He’s gone 5-1 in the lightweight division since returning there in 2015 and he’s stayed very active in that time. His lone loss since returning came at the hands of a Michael Johnson first-round knockout. Aside from that, he’s looked better than ever. He finds himself in one of the biggest fights of his career, with a chance to fight the last lightweight champion and a chance to prove he can win the big fights. He’s struggled against elite competition both at lightweight and featherweight, falling to Chan Sung Jung, Cub Swanson, Conor McGregor and Michael Johnson. If he can get past Eddie Alvarez, he won’t find himself too far from a title shot with the strong potential for an interim title fight as Khabib and Nate Diaz don’t appear ready to fulfill that. A win by Alvarez likely puts him in a great position as well but it will take the UFC and fans a long time to forget how bad of a performance he put on at UFC 205 so a win doesn’t likely put him in quite the same position.


The State of the MMA Division – Flyweight

Trying to figure out the next challenger for Demetrious Johnson is difficult at this point. He’s now disposed of the #1 ranked contender Joseph Benavidez twice, #2 Henry Cejudo, #6 Wilson Reis and #8 Tim Elliott. Those are just the fighters in the top 10 that he has beat, numerous others have fled to other divisions and even other promotions outside the UFC. He’s the king of the flyweight division and has solidified his place amongst some of the greatest ever in all of MMA. Benavidez is set to take on prospect Ben Nguyen next month and with another win may finally get the third title shot that has eluded him for years. Getting a third title shot after going 0-2 against the same champion doesn’t come easy, but if Benavidez comes out victorious that will be his 7th straight win, all against elite competition. The two wild cards in the chase for gold at 125 pounds are fast-rising stars Brandon Moreno and Ray Borg, who now find themselves ranked 3rd and 4th, respectively.

Moreno is fresh off a submission win over Dustin Ortiz two weeks ago that was set up by a beautiful head kick. He has won his first three UFC bouts and has beat some tough competition to say the least. The UFC sometimes has a bad habit of rushing young prospects into title fights and that trend may continue here with few other options to face the current champion. Ray Borg’s most recent performance was a unanimous decision win against flyweight staple Jussier Formiga, although he’s only two fights removed from a decision loss to Justin Scoggins. He’s enjoyed great success in his young career but has failed to make weight once and has had to be removed from fights on 2 separate occasions now, neither of which will help him get a title shot.

There may be another wild card in the race for the next title shot in Sergio Pettis, whose brother Anthony held the lightweight title. He is expected to lock horns with former title challenger and second-ranked Henry Cejudo next week at UFC 211 in the PPV opener. A win against Cejudo will net him a big fight for sure, potentially even a title shot or title eliminator bout. Although he’s only ranked tenth in the talent-starved division, everyone else in the top 10 aside from Borg and Moreno has either fallen to the champion or is coming off a loss. He’s in great position to climb the proverbial ladder with a win in his next bout but he has his work cut out for him.

Henry Cejudo has lost back-to-back fights after starting his UFC career 4-0 and being able to take down the champion in their first fight. A win against Pettis likely doesn’t get him another title shot yet but his split decision loss against Joseph Benavidez this past December was controversial and he presents a unique challenge for the champion. The UFC has a good way of matching up former title challengers with each other and they will likely continue to do so to separate contenders from pretenders. #5 Jussier Formiga and #6 Wilson Reis are both coming off tough losses and will probably be matched up against one another. #7 Dustin Ortiz is coming off the submission loss to Moreno and has struggled against elite competition in the division so his days as a prospect are likely over. He’s suffered 4 losses in his last 6 fights and although he is ranked, he may be only one more loss away from being cut from the roster. The UFC will likely match him up with an opponent towards the bottom of the division and remove him from the top 10 rankings. 3 of his past 4 wins have come by way of split decision so he also has that working against him. #11 John Moraga, who is also a former title challenger, also finds himself on the brink of being cut, going just 3-5 in his last 8 fights in the promotion. He’s currently riding a 3-fight losing streak after his unanimous decision loss to Sergio Pettis in January of this year. He, much like Ortiz, will likely be matched up with someone much lower than he in the rankings. The fact that there are fighters who are only .500 in their UFC careers ranked says a lot about this shallow division.

In summary, there are fresh, new challengers for Demetrious Johnson’s title but there isn’t much on the horizon. He’s stayed more active than most of his UFC champion counterparts, fighting at least twice per year since winning the title. With that said, he came away from the Reis fight unscathed and will fight at least once more before the end of the year barring injury, potentially even twice. If he can eliminate Borg and/or Moreno before the end of the year, it will be really hard to dismiss him as not being the best of all time. He’s got challengers waiting for the next 18 months or so but it doesn’t look very good after that for new challengers.

Weigh-in Wednesday — How good is Jon Jones?

In the wake of UFC 210, Daniel Cormier’s 2nd title defense and Anthony Johnson’s surprise retirement, it was a strange weekend in the UFC. However, we now have some clarity on the division and what is in store next for the champion. Daniel Cormier used his post-fight speech to take jabs at Jimi Manuwa and Jon Jones, who were both cageside during the tirade. UFC 213, which takes place in July, still does not have a main event but now has a co-main event between newly-crowned champion Cody Garbrandt and former champion TJ Dillashaw. It seems likely, although Dana promised otherwise, that Jones and Cormier will settle their score in the main event there, assuming that “DC” is healthy and willing. The first fight was not rather close and it’s anyone’s guess as to how the second fight plays out.

That brings up an interesting question regarding the light heavyweight title: just how good is Jon Jones? Cormier showed him the respect he deserved as the champion prior to their first bout at UFC 182 in 2015, calling him the greatest ever. Jones’ rise to the top was rather fast and he became the youngest champion in UFC history at the age of 23. Although almost anyone would agree that he is one of the greatest of all time, I think there should be some asterisks next to his numbers. First and foremost, he’s now tested positive for two banned substances in his time in the UFC. He also had four consecutive title defenses against former or current middleweights from 2011-2013. The first true test of his career, and quite frankly his only to this point, came against Alexander Gustafsson. Gus took Jones the distance in their instant classic at UFC 165 and made him earn the decision. That was the first man to make Jones look human, and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Gus was also the first person who could match Jones physically. He made a career out of beating up on much shorter, smaller fighters in his time as light heavyweight champion.

It’s been said many times that the only reason Jones has been so good is because of his size and length, and I don’t think that’s entirely true but it is a large part of what has made him so successful. For most of its time the light heavyweight division was ruled by shorter fighters who didn’t have the frames that guys like Jones and Gus carry. The longest reach by a UFC light heavyweight champion prior to and since Jones was Forrest Griffin, who had a 77-inch reach, while Jones’ wingspan registers 85 inches. He beat Shogun Rua at UFC 128 to claim the title back in 2011 and destroyed him for the better part of three rounds before winning via TKO. His first title defense came against “Rampage” Jackson and then fought four straight opponents who are or were middleweights in the UFC. Three of those fighters employed a 74-inch reach while longtime nemesis Rashad Evans had a 75-inch reach. Having a few inch reach sometimes makes all the difference in a fight, but having a 10-inch reach advantage on your opponents is basically a handicap. We watched Jones easily defeat all of those five opponents, with the Rashad fight being the only one to go the distance. However, he has since gone to decision four straight times against Gus, Glover Teixeira, Daniel Cormier and Ovince St. Preux, respectively. 3 of those 4 opponents had a reach of more than 76 inches, with Gus at 79 and OSP at 80. I don’t think it’s sheer coincidence that he has gone to decision four times with guys who could match him physically.

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The fact that he has faced such a low level of competition isn’t entirely his fault though. Chael Sonnen talked his way into a title shot after being willing to step in for Dan Henderson on short notice. Vitor Belfort received the title shot because Lyoto Machida turned it down and Belfort was again the only one willing to fight him on short notice. I know that it sounds crazy to consider Chael, Vitor, Rashad and Machida lower levels of competition but that’s the reality of it. These guys didn’t belong in the same ring as Jones, none of them had much to offer the champion. Even though Machida was a former light heavyweight champion himself, the size difference was astronomical. Machida was able to land punches because of his speed but presented no other threats in the cage, being choked unconscious in their bout. His wrestling is great, his submissions are complemented by his long limbs, and his granite chin allows him to stand and trade shots with the best in the business. The Gustafsson fight reminded us that he is human and he can be hurt, and I’m sure that we will eventually see a rematch between those two, especially with the division looking the way it is.

The truth is that as long as DC is able to stay healthy and active, we may see him and Jones fight multiple more times. Looking at the landscape of the division, you’ve got a retired Rumble, Jimi Manuwa who is just 3-2 in his last 5 UFC fights, losing to Gustafsson and Rumble, and then you’ve got aging fighters like Glover and Shogun. There isn’t much young competition who are up-and-coming aside from Misha Cirkunov, who has finished all 4 of his UFC fights. All of the names mentioned above are viable options for the UFC as reputable challengers and able to sell PPVs, which we know is their ultimate goal, but it’s been hard for DC to be able to connect with the fans. If the UFC wants a light heavyweight champion that can move the needle and sell the fights, it’s Jon Jones. He’ll be rushed into a title shot, and deservedly so, he ran the division for so long and looked invincible for the majority of that time. I’m very curious to see how a Jon Jones coming off a long layoff looks, especially considering the fact that he will surely be tested heavily. I don’t see how DC is able to beat him though, he’s in the same class as the other fighters who fought Jones, he’s too small with no real advantages as Jones was able to keep the fight standing. He’s got knockout power as we saw him KO multiple heavyweights but he had trouble closing the distance on Jones and overcoming the eye pokes. The light heavyweight division is in a strange place right now and the UFC needs Jon Jones back as champion more than they think, even if he is just a little overrated.


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