Grabbing the majority of the headlines this weekend, the UFC continued it’s schedule a the Apex facility in Las Vegas, Nevada — fielding its first title fight of the years Kamaru Usman attempted to lodge his third successful title defence in a welterweight headliner against Gilbert Burns. Bellator MMA also announced a stacked light heavyweight tournament beginning in April — as well as featherweight and bantamweight title fights.
Reflecting on his stunning UFC Vegas 18 knockout loss to Cory Sandhagen last Saturday, former lightweight champion, Frankie Edgar detailed how he has very little memory of the twenty-eight-second fight — dropping a devastating stoppage defeat after Sandhagen launched a massive flying-knee. Edgar worryingly noted how he wasn’t sure who he actually fought after the fight.
With the future of the undisputed lightweight championship still up in the air with UFC president Dana White still attempting to turn Khabib Nurmagomedov’s hand on one last fight — reports emerged that the promotion is targeting a trilogy, rubber-match between Dustin Poirier and Conor McGregor for the summer, however, it’s believed a championship of any form won’t be on the line.
Sitting down with ESPN MMA reporter, Stockton favourite, Nate Diaz announced his intentions to make his Octagon return in April — noting his interest in welterweight matchups against both rival, Dustin Poirier and the streaking, Charles Oliveira — putting the kibosh on a floated return to 155-pounds.
Diaz, who has twice shared the Octagon with McGregor ruled out a return against the Dubliner, before also distancing himself from a would-be fan-friendly pairing against former interim lightweight champion, Tony Ferguson.
Similarly distancing himself from a matchup with Diaz, Charles Oliveira’s manager and head coach, Diego Lima claimed that a clash with the Californian simply made no sense at this time, and how his client and student needs to fight for the title next.
Fresh off his knockout win over Edgar, Elevation Fight Team standout, Sandhagen who should be primed to challenge either Petr Yan or Aljamain Sterling for Octagon gold next, however, he claimed how he was nervous that former champion, T.J. Dillashaw would leapfrog him into contention upon his Octagon return. Open to a title-eliminator against the Angels Camp native, Sandhagen claimed Dillashaw doesn’t want to fight him.
Scheduled to headline UFC Vegas 21 on March 13th. — lingering health issues have forced Khamzat Chimaev from yet another main event clash against Leon Edwards. Whilst an opponent has yet to be found for the Birmingham native, the promotion are actively attempting to draft in former interim champion, Colby Covington on short-notice. Talks are tentative, however, the promotion is aware it may prove difficult for Covington to make the March 13th. event — so a rescheduling may be warranted.
Eyeing his Octagon return for April — former bantamweight champion Cody Garbrandt has put his flyweight title siege plans on pause. Hoping to make it two wins at two at 135-pounds, the recent Mark Henry mover called for a matchup with former featherweight kingpin, Jose Aldo.
Announcing a couple of intriguing title fights, Bellator will field a featherweight title rematch between Patricio Freire and Emmanuel Sanchez, as well as a bantamweight title outing between Juan Archuleta and Sergio Pettis. Sealing an eight-man light heavyweight Grand Prix, former UFC middleweight and light heavyweight title challengers, Yoel Romero and Anthony Johnson will lock horns in the first bracket, while Ryan Bader, Lyoto Machida, Phil Davis, Corey Anderson, Dovletdzhan Yagshimuradov, and defending champion, Vadim Nemkov all feature.
Successfully retaining his undisputed UFC welterweight championship, Kamaru Usman rallied from some early adversity in the opening round to score a third frame ground-and-pound stoppage of challenger and former teammate, Gilbert Burns. Dropping the Brazilian on multiple occasions with a stiff jab, Usman was ushered by head coach, Trevor Wittman to stick behind that shot — ultimately leading him to victory.
Following the knockout win, Usman issued a callout to former-foe, Jorge Masvidal — detailing his interest in a rematch against the Florida native following his six day’s notice unanimous decision win over the BMF champion back at UFC 251 on ‘Fight Island’ last July.