The anticipation for UFC 200 has created a lot of buzz in the MMA world, and there is no shortage of fighters seeking a spot in that legendary card. However, there are a lot of interesting fights scheduled before July’s UFC 200. The most notable ones being Jones vs Cormier II, Weidman vs Rockhold II, Faber vs Cruz III, among others. All of those fights are amazing in their own right, and so are the cards for UFC 197 and 199. The problem is that the best card prior to UFC 200 just might be 198, and there is not a whole lot of people talking about it. The card is full of fresh, exciting, and fan friendly fights involving some of the biggest mixed martial arts fighters of all time. The event is scheduled to take place May 14th in Curitiba, Brazil. In addition to the great fights, the event will be held at Arena da Baixada, which will be the first UFC stadium event in Brazil. 

The undercard will likely have some main card worthy fights, such as Cris Cyborg’s UFC debut, and hot prospect Warlley Alves taking on Bryan Barberena. Rumors of Cyborg’s potential UFC debut have been thrown around quite a bit over the past few years. The speculation is over as she has been added to UFC 198 to fight Leslie Smith at a catchweight of 140 pounds. The anticipated match up with Ronda Rousey will not happen at her debut, but it is a huge step towards that potential fight. Cyborg has dominated Invicta FC’s featherweight division, and hopes to shake up women’s MMA in the UFC. Smith fought recently at UFC Fight Night Hunt vs Mir, and beat Rin Nakai via unanimous decision.  

On the other hand, the undefeated top prospect Warlley Alves is looking to move up the rankings in the very tough Welterweight division. Alves has finished his last two fights by submission both being guillotines, including the first round stoppage of Colby Covington at UFC 194. The talent of Alves is undeniable, but can he make some noise in one of the most stacked divisions. Bryan Barberena is no stranger to undefeated hot prospects, since his last fight was against Sage Northcutt. Barberena pulled a big upset against Northcutt, by submitting the young phenom in the second round. The question is can he do it again, or is Alves too skilled? 

Things get very interesting in the main card with important fights like Demian Maia vs Matt Brown, Anderson Silva vs Uriah Hall, Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza vs Vitor Belfort, and the heavyweight championship bout between Stipe Miocic and Fabricio Werdum. As mentioned before, the Welterweight division is super deep with talented young fighters as well as tough and skilled veterans. A clash of top ten ranked veterans could have title shot implications, as Brazilian Jiu Jitsu wizard Demian Maia faces “The Immortal” Matt Brown. Brown has gone the distance against the last two Welterweight champions in the past, and he is looking to build on his latest submission win over Tim Means. He has a very tough task in the form of Maia, and this should be a very entertaining fight to watch. The winner will likely enter the top five and put himself in the position of fighting for a shot at UFC gold. 

If you enjoy striking battles, then you should love the matchup between Uriah Hall and Anderson Silva. It might be safe to say that nobody is shooting for a takedown in this on, but you just might see a knockout of the year candidate. Both fighters are coming off disappointing losses, but they are still top ten in the Middleweight division. The winner would take a step closer to a shot at the winner of  UFC 199’s main event, and most likely a spot in the top five. The fight should be very fan friendly and thrilling from start to finish, so make sure you don’t blink during this one.

The next fight has even more influence on the Middleweight division, as it should definitely provide the next number one contender. The number two ranked middleweight “Jacare” Souza will meet number three ranked Vitor “The Phenom” Belfort in the co-main event. Two guys with major knockout power, so this could easily be a quick one. There is nobody currently at middleweight or maybe even the entire UFC roster who has better Brazillian Jiu Jitsu than Souza, so If the fight goes to the ground he will certainly have the advantage. Souza lost his last fight to Yoel Romero in a very controversial fight, but he is looking to finally get that shot at the belt. Vitor’s last fight was a first round KO of Dan Henderson, and he hopes to get a rematch against either Weidman or Rockhold.

The main event is the Heavyweight championship of the world, as Fabricio Werdum defends his title for the first time against Stipe Miocic. Werdum was scheduled to fight Cain Velasquez in a rematch earlier this year, but Cain suffered a back injury. The UFC offered Miocic as a replacement to Werdum, but the champ was also injured. Nonetheless, they will fight in May and it should be a great fight between two warriors. Both men are very well trained and they can hit, so this could also be a quick fight as are most Heavyweight bouts. Fabricio’s tremendous ground game could be the x factor in this matchup, but it is not a grappling match so anything could happen. Two of the baddest men on the planet fighting for glory is a great way to close out an amazing card of fights. It is a great time to be an MMA fan, and the future looks very bright for the sport. 

Joao V. Gomes

Pro Fighting Fans Staff Writer

Two UFC veterans will do battle in the WSOF 30 main event when current WSOF Middleweight and Light heavyweight champion David Branch (17-3) attempts to defend his 185lb title against Clifford Starks (13-2). The event takes place April 2nd in Las Vegas, Nevada.

David Branch was never able to make it to the top in the UFC, however at his new home, the World Series of Fighting, the 34 year-old American seems to have finally found his groove. He is the reigning WSOF Middleweight and Light Heavyweight champion. He’s currently riding a seven fight win streak, all of them have come under the WSOF banner. Branch has finished his past four opponents so Clifford Starks will need to be at his best on April 2nd.

Clifford Starks only has two losses on his professional MMA record, and both of those losses were in the UFC against Yoel Romero and Ed Herman. Outside of the UFC he’s perfect, including a five fight winning streak which has landed him in the title fight opposite David Branch.  Where Branch is able to end the fight anywhere, Starks will need to rely on a strong wrestling game to grind out his opponent.

WSOF 30 airs April 2nd on NBCSN, the prelims begin at 8pm ET and the main card has a later than usual start time at 11:30pm ET.  The co-main event is for the vacant WSOF welterweight title when Jon Fitch meets Joao Zeferino.  For more coverage of WSOF 30 and everything MMA keep checking back with Pro Fighting Fans.

Brent Haugh

Profightingfans.com Editor/Writer

 

When the news broke that Conor McGregor (19-3) would be staying at welterweight to rematch Nate Diaz (19-10) in the UFC 200 main event, the MMA world got confirmation of something they already knew. But now its official, on July 9th the Irishman will look to avenge his UFC 196 submission loss to Diaz.

In the first meeting, McGregor was successful early on with his striking. He opened up a cut on Nate but he never really had him in any danger. Diaz proved to be difficult to discourage as the Stockton, California native kept moving forward.  Eventually in the second round he caught McGregor with solid punches on the feet and stunned the 145lb champion.  It forced Conor to look for a takedown and that was the beginning of the end.  Diaz was able to lock in a rear-naked choke and finish the fight at 4:12 of the second round.

It seemed at the time that Conor McGregor’s next step would be to defend his UFC featherweight title and that was likely to happen at UFC 200. Well the loss must not be sitting well with “The Notorious” because he’s decided to leave that division behind for the time being.  Staying at welterweight will at least give him the opportunity to get used to the extra weight and be ready for a five round fight.  The first matchup was on 12 days’ notice, and McGregor had been preparing to fight at 155lbs.  It could be a much different fight the next time around, but we must keep in mind that Diaz will likely improve his gameplan as well.

Either way, it would appear that “The Notorious” Conor McGregor gets whatever he wants as long he keeps making the UFC boatloads of money and Nate Diaz is just along for the ride. Don’t miss this fight, July 9th, available on pay per view.  For more coverage on UFC 200 keep checking back with profightingfans.com.

 

Brent Haugh

Pro Fighting Fans Editor/Writer

Anderson Silva (33-7) will continue to search for a career resurgence as it’s expected to be announced that he’ll be meeting former TUF Finalist Uriah Hall (12-6) at UFC 198 on May 14th.  The matchup has the potential for some violent fireworks, it really depends on which version of each man shows up in Brazil.

Silva returned to action for the first time in over a year this past February when he headlined a UFC Fight Pass event against longtime UFC middleweight Michael “The Count” Bisping. Despite hurting Bisping on multiple occasions and coming very close to a finish, Silva ultimately lost a judge’s decision to the Brit.  Thanks to a failed drug test against Nick Diaz last January, Silva has now gone winless since a 2012 victory over Stephan Bonnar.  Anderson proved against Bisping that he can still fight at a high level and is capable of ending it in a matter of seconds.

In Uriah Hall, Anderson Silva is facing a man that at times can be the scariest dude on the planet, and at other times he’s a nervous wreck. No one will ever forget his spinning heel kick knockout of Adam Cella on TUF 17, or his recent finish over veteran Gegard Mousasi.  But since joining the UFC, Hall has also had some pretty lackluster performances against the likes of Kelvin Gastulem and John Howard.  Uriah is coming off a unanimous decision loss to Robert Whittaker this past November, it was Hall’s 3rd fight in as many months.  Now that he’s had a bit of time off it’ll be interesting to see if he can return to old form against such a big star, Anderson Silva.

UFC 198 will take place at Arena da Baixada in Curitiba, Parana, Brazil with a heavyweight championship main event. Fabricio Werdum will defend his title against top contender Stipe Miocic, also on the card, welterweight contenders Matt Brown and Demian Maia will do battle.  The main card will be presented on pay-per-view.  For more coverage of UFC 198 and everything MMA keep checking in with Pro Fighting Fans.

 

Brent Haugh

Pro Fighting Fans Editor/Writer

 

 

Over the weekend UFC officials announced several fights that will be a part of UFC Fight Night 88, which takes place May 29th, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  Former UFC bantamweight champion Renan Barao is making the move up to the featherweight division and his first assignment is not an easy one.  He’ll be facing off against Jeremy Stephens.

A former lightweight, Stephens will be making his 8th appearance as a featherweight and is a big power puncher.  He’s had mix results at 145lbs, going 4-3 since dropping down but he still remains a tough out for anyone.  “Lil’ Heathen” has good takedown defense and is usually able to keep his fights standing.  Over the course of his career he’s had notable victories over Rafael dos Anjos, Sam Stout and more recently Dennis Bermudez.  However he is on a 1-3 stretch and in desperate need of a win.

Renan Barao was once the most feared bantamweight in the world. His reign of destruction included wins over Michael McDonald, Eddie Wineland and he’s twice defeated Urijah Faber.  Barao first beat Faber at UFC 149 and won the interim bantamweight championship.  After multiple injuries to then champion Dominick Cruz, the UFC made Barao the official bantamweight champion.  He defended the title three times but after losing to TJ Dillashaw in 2014 he’s seemed to have lost a step.  Jeremy Stephens is going to be a really good test for Barao to see where he stands in the featherweight division.

Barao vs. Stephens will likely be part of the main card for UFC Fight Night 88 taking place at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada on May 29th, 2016.  The main event features a bantamweight clash between rising stars Cody Garbrandt and Thomas Almeida.  Broadcasting information is not yet available.  Keep checking back with profightingfans.com for more updates.

 

Brent Haugh

Pro Fighting Fans Editor/Writer

Over the weekend UFC officials announced that a bantamweight bout between Thomas Almeida and Cody Garbrandt will be headlining UFC Fight Night 88. The event is set to take place May 29th at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The winner of this fight could find themselves in a bantamweight title fight before the end of 2016. They both have perfect records, Almeida is 20-0 while Grabrandt is 8-0, so someone will be tasting defeat for the first time.

It will be Almeida’s fifth fight in the UFC and he has wins over veterans Yves Jabouin and Brad Pickett. In the fight with Pickett, Almeida had to survive an early barrage before he was able to get the TKO in the 2nd round by flying knee.  He’s a very dangerous striker and possibly the best prospect in the UFC’s 135lb division.

Garbrandt is coming off his third straight UFC win and eight overall. He was supposed to face John Lineker in his last fight but the Brazilian dropped out at the last minute due to injury.  Instead Garbrandt faced UFC newcomer Augusto Mendes and he got the win in the first round by TKO.  He trains with Team Alpha Male, led by bantamweight title challenger Urijah Faber, so Garbrandt is definitely well rounded and would be a tough fight for Thomas Almeida.

Along with the main event several other bouts have been announced for the UFC Fight Night 88 card, including, Renan Barao vs. Jeremy Stephens at featherweight, Tarec Saffiedine vs. Rick Story and Lorenz Larkin vs. Jorge Masvidal. It looks like a stacked card, for more coverage of this fight card and everything UFC, check out profightingfans.com.

Brent Haugh

Pro Fighting Fans Editor/Writer

After every UFC event we here at Pro Fighting Fans love to play matchmaker. In this column we’ll tell you who we think the winners and losers of each fight should face next.  So check back with Pro Fighting Fans after each UFC event to see what we think the next step is.

 

Bec Rawlings (7-4)

Who she should face next: Aisling Daly (16-6)

Bec Rawlings was able to stay active and outpoint Seo Hee Ham on Sunday. It made it two straight wins for the Australian strawweight. She was visibly the slower fighter and it’s possible she may have been the recipient of good fortune in regards to the judge’s scores.

However, Rawlings still won a second fight in a row in a division that is still very low on talent. She’s had a rocky start so it’s hard to imagine she’ll be given a huge challenge next time out, the UFC will give her a winnable fight. Although Aisling Daly has a big experience advantage over Bec Rawlings, she’s 2-1 in the octagon and has stumbled at times. Three wins in a row for Rawlings would do wonders for her as she moves up in the rankings.

 

Steve Bosse (11-2)

Who he should face next: Tim Boetsch (18-10)

Steve Bosse made up for a disappointing performance in his UFC debut by starching James Te Huna at UFC Fight Night 85. Bosse’s first fight lasted 29 seconds and the fight with Te Huna was only 52 seconds long. What this means is that it is still way too early to tell what kind of UFC fighter Steve Bosse will be. We know he has punching power and that’s it.

Tim Boetsch has been around a long time as both a middleweight and light heavyweight in the UFC. He’s fought some pretty big names and he’s not a pushover in any sense of the word. Putting Bosse up against a guy like Boetsch, who is nearing the of his career, would be a perfect way to see where the Canadian stands as of now.

 

Daniel Kelly (11-1)

Who he should face next: Elias Theodorou (11-1)

After his win at UFC Fight Night 85, Daniel Kelly said he’ll be taking some time off to coach Judo in the upcoming summer Olympics. At 38 years old it’s unlikely Kelly will make any sort of title run in the UFC, but if he wants that chance he needs to be willing to take on big challenges in the future.

His only loss was against Sam Alvey via TKO, he’s since won two straight fights. Kelly’s TUF: Nations cast mate Elias Theodorou holds an identical record and to make this potential matchup even more intriguing, Elias defeated Sheldon Westcott in the show’s finale, Westcott eliminated Kelly from the tournament. This would be a tough fight to call and entertaining to watch.

 

Jake Matthews (10-1)

Who he should face next: Magomed Mustafaev (13-1)

Jake Matthews showed all kinds of potential when he took out veteran Johnny Case by submission on Saturday night. Matthews is still very young and needs to keep developing if he wants to compete with top 15 UFC lightweights.

Magomed Mustafaev is a perfect 2-0 since joining the UFC with victories over Joe Proctor and Piotr Hallmann. He also holds a win over Abubakar Nurmagomedov, the younger brother of UFC lightweight contender Khabib Nurmagomedov. Mustafaev is definitely capable of giving the 21 year old Matthews a solid challenge.

 

Neil Magny (18-4)

Who he should face next: Carlos Condit (30-9)

Neil Magny took all kinds of punishment in the first round of his fight with Hector Lombard at UFC Fight Night 85. Lombard wasn’t able to convince the ref to stop the fight so it continued. Magny made it out of the round and by the end of the 2nd he was the one trying to force a stoppage. When the third started it was obvious Magny was going to get the win it was just a matter of when. Finally referee Steve Percival stopped the fight early in the final round. He’s proven that he is a legitimate contender at 170lbs and Magny should be close to a title shot.

In the minds of a lot of UFC fans, Carlos Condit should be the current welterweight champion, but unfortunately he lost a close decision to Robbie Lawler at UFC 195. Condit could possibly get a rematch with Lawler, if that doesn’t happen he should fight Neil Magny in a title eliminator. The length of both men would make for a very interesting battle.

 

Mark Hunt (12-10-1)

Who he should face next: Josh Barnett (34-8)

Mark Hunt has now won two straight fights for the first time since 2013. His knockout of Frank Mir reminded us that he has the power to stop any heavyweight on the planet. Age is not on his side but as long as he wants to fight, the UFC will have opponents for him.

Josh Barnett currently finds himself in a spot very similar to the one Mark Hunt is in. They’re both nearing the end of their respective careers, yet they can still hang with the best the UFC has to offer. Hunt also said he’s interested in rematches and Barnett defeated the New Zealander 10 years ago under the Pride banner. The winner of this fight might have one last title push left in him, only time will tell.

 

Brent Haugh

Pro Fighting Fans Editor/Writer

A third matchup has been confirmed for Bellator 155 which takes place at CenturyLink Arena in Boise, Idaho on May 20th, 2016. The card already features a middleweight title fight as champion Rafael Carvalho will attempt to defend his belt against Melvin Manhoef. Now a very important heavyweight matchup has also been confirmed, Dan Charles (10-3) will face off against the undefeated Augusto Sakai (10-0).

This will mark the fifth time Sakai has fought under the Bellator banner. He is 4-0 as a Bellator fighter and three of those victories came by way of stoppage. His most recent win was a unanimous decision over Alex Huddleston at Bellator 145 in November 2015. Seven of his nine victories have been stoppages and against Charles, the heavy handed Brazilian will look to keep his unblemished record intact.

Since starting his professional MMA career with seven straight victories, Arizona native Dan Charles has stumbled going 3-3 in his past 6 fights. Most recently Charles knocked out Chase Gormley at Bellator 143, the win got him back on the right track after a TKO loss to Bobby Lashley. Eight of his ten career victories have been stoppages and six of those were TKO’s or knockouts.

Both of these men are finishers so we shouldn’t expect this one to go to the judge’s scorecards. The winner should find themselves right in the mix in the ever thin Bellator heavyweight division.

The bout takes place at Bellator 155 on May 20th, 2016 and will likely air on Spike TV. For future coverage of Bellator 155 keep checking back with profightingfans.com.

 

Brent Haugh

Pro Fighting Fans Editor/Writer

Where: UFC Fight Night, Brisbane, Qld

When: SAT. MAR. 19, 2016 10PM/7PM ETPT

While the main event is Hunt vs. Mir, another fight to watch on the main card is between two ranked welterweight fighters. It will be the #13 ranked Hector Lombard vs. #9 ranked Neil Magny. Going by their records, Lombard has more experience and more wins, but Magny is the better ranked of the two. According to ufc.com, the fighter odds has Lombard at a +125, and Magny at a -145. So at least on their website, Magny is the predicted winner and favored outcome. Lombard’s last fight, which was against Joshua Burkman at UFC 182 ended in a no contest. Magny on the other hand got a win in his last fight against Kevin Gastelum at UFC Fight Night Magny vs Gastelum where it received the fight of the night award.

At only twenty-eight years old, Magny is a whole decade younger than Lombard, as well as being taller, and has a longer arm and leg reach. It’s a lot of advantages for Magny but will make a victory much harder for Lombard. According to their fighter profiles on ufc.com, Lombard’s fight history based on eight fights is 22% submissions, 35% striking, and 43% takedowns, while Magny’s history based on thirteen fights is 3% submissions, 40% striking, and 56% takedowns. Both men are good fighters and show that they’re both capable of earning a victory in the octagon, but in this case my pick of who will win is Magny. Whether or not it will happen, well only time will tell.

There are many ways to watch this great match-up, and a few are FS1, UFC Fight Pass, and participating bars. For more info from the UFC, check out ufc.com and click on the event. For more info on everything MMA, keep checking back with profightingfans.com

 

Ana Trent

Pro Fighting Fans Staff Writer

After every UFC event we here at Pro Fighting Fans love to play matchmaker. In this column we’ll tell you who we think the winners and losers of each fight should face next.  So check back with Pro Fighting Fans after a UFC event to see what we think the next step is.(Note: We apologize for the delay with this article)

Brad Pickett (25-11)

Who he should face next: Erik Perez (15-6)

Brad Pickett admitted that if had he lost to Francisco Rivera at UFC Fight Night 84 he would have retired. For the sake of this article we are going to assume that retirement is no longer an option and Pickett will in fact fight another day. The win snapped a three fight losing streak and it was his second fight after returning to the bantamweight division.

Pickett should stay in the bantamweight division. There is no need for him to be cutting a large amount of weight at this point in his career. He’s a great measuring stick for up and coming fighters and I think the UFC should put him against young guys looking to build a resume. One of those guys is none other than Erik Perez.

Perez’s two UFC losses came against Takeya Mizugaki and Bryan Caraway, so it’s obvious he’s not ready for the top of the division just yet. However a fight with Pickett would give him a challenge against a veteran with a good chin and great stand up ability. Of course at Pickett’s age it’s always nice to say you beat a young up and comer like Erik Perez.

 

Tom Breese (10-0)

Who he should face next: Sean Strickland (17-1)

Tom Breese came away from UFC Fight Night 84 with his perfect professional record still intact. He’s 3-0 since joining the UFC, but his victory over Keita Nakamura was far from being his most impressive and the UFC might want to keep pushing him along slowly before they give him a major step up in competition.

Sean Strickland is 4-1 since joining the UFC’s welterweight division in 2014. His only loss came against Santiago Ponzinibbio and he’s since won two straight. This would be an exciting matchup and the outcome would prove which one of these guys is ready for that big step up in competition.

 

Gegard Mousasi (38-6-2)

Who he should face next: Derek Brunson (15-3)

Gegard Mousasi has been a tad inconsistent since finally joining the UFC in 2013. He has losses to fellow middleweights Lyotoa Machida, Ronaldo Souza and Uriah Hall. He’s still in the top ten of the middleweight division, but if he wants a title shot he needs to keep fighting the best of the best.

Derek Brunson is finally on the cusp of cracking the top ten, he still needs a signature win to put him on the map. A victory over a proven veteran like Gegard Mousasi would be incredible for his career. The UFC would just need to convince the often bored looking Mousasi that this is a fight that would be good for him.

 

Michael Bisping (28-7)

Who he should face next: Yoel Romero (11-1)

After Michael Bisping defeated Anderson Silva at UFC Fight Night 84, many people were calling for him to get a shot at the middleweight title. Sure he’s been around a long time but I think he needs to beat another top 185lb fighter before he gets the title shot that has eluded him for many years.

Yoel Romero thought he might get a title shot after he took out Ronaldo Souza at UFC 194. However, the UFC had other plans and granted former champion Chris Weidman a rematch with Luke Rockhold at UFC 199. Now Romero can either wait or take another fight. There has been so much controversy in Romero’s UFC career that I really think he needs a number 1 contender fight before he gets a title shot. Facing Michael Bisping would be a worth title eliminator and the winner would most definitely be the front runner for a middleweight title shot.

 

Brent Haugh

Pro Fighting Fans Editor/Writer