This Week In MMA – March, Week 1

MMA
Mandatory Credit: Jeff Bottari – Zuffa LLC

Take a look back on a week in MMA where the majority of headlines were grabbed by a UFC 259 card that lived up to its lofty expectations — featuring a tripleheader of title fights across the bantamweight, featherweight, and light heavyweight divisions.

Kicking off the week, Stockton fan-favourite, Nate Diaz labelled former BMF championship opponent, Jorge Masvidal a “bitchass sellout” for his decision to search for a welterweight title rematch against Kamaru Usman in his next outing.

Speaking ahead of Petr Yan’s title defence against Aljamain Sterling on Saturday, the #2 ranked, Cory Sandhagen claimed that the defending titleholder was just a “paper champion” — given the fact that the competition the Dudinka native faced on his way to a vacant title win, didn’t stack up to Sandhagen’s.

Hinting at his surprising retirement from mixed martial arts, uber-prospect, Khamzat Chimaev cited his ongoing battle with health issues amid a positive COVID-19 test result, as the reason he was contemplating his future. UFC president, Dana White immediately refuted that speculation, claiming Chimaev is still expected to return in June, and how he’s currently on a course of prednisone steroidal medicine to help combat his health woes. 

Republic of Chechnya leader, Ramzan Kadyrov also detailed how he had spoken with Chimaev regarding his posts on social media, more or less swaying his decision to hang up his gloves, noting his influence on the younger generation in Chechnya. 

Former UFC middleweight champion, Luke Rockhold recently detailed how he’d be open to the possibility of a return to the sport in the summer, possibly toward the season, noting his continued recovery from surgery to repair a torn labrum and rotator cuff.

Responding to claims that he was hungover after consuming an entire bottle of wine prior to his UFC 254 title challenge last September, Paulo Costa received some advice from rival, Israel Adesanya  — who encouraged the Brazilian to let go of his ego in a bid to grow as a professional. 

Booked for UFC 262 on May 15th. — a barnburner at featherweight as the exciting, Shane Burgos makes his Octagon return against Muay Thai standout, the veteran, Edson Barboza in a matchup that promises fireworks on paper.

In some surprising and quite frankly disappointing news, former UFC heavyweight champion, Junior dos Santos and one-time title challenger, perennial top-five contender, Alistair Overeem were both released from the promotion during the week, following a twelve and ten-year stay, respectively. 

Speaking following the release of former Strikeforce, DREAM, and K-1 Grand Prix gold holder, Overeem, RIZIN FF boss, Nobuyuki Sakakibara claimed that the Japanese promotion would be interested in working out a deal with the veteran if he was open to finishing his iconic career in Asia.

Maintaining hope that current undisputed lightweight best, Khabib Nurmagomedov would make a return, UFC president, Dana White claimed that as long as Nurmagomedov doesn’t say “leave me alone, stop asking me” — then there’s a chance he could make a comeback

The future of former two-time UFC bantamweight champion, T.J. Dillashaw also became a lot clearer ahead of UFC 259 — with the aforenoted, White detailing how the Angels Camp native would return in a title-eliminator instead of a rumoured immediate title shot. The previously mentioned, Sandhagen claimed that the UFC had reached out to him regarding the possibility of a matchup against the former titleholder.

Opening our first of three title fights this weekend, controversy surrounded the finish of our title clash between Yan and Sterling. Appearing to fade in the third round, Sterling was rising back to his feet in the fourth as Yan began to sway the tide of the fight in his favour. Landing a massive, fight-altering illegal knee to a grounded, Sterling — referee, Mark Smith immediately called a timeout in the action.

Reeling from the effects of the shot, Sterling fell to his back on the canvas, with the above mentioned, Smith consulting the Octagon side physician. Detailing to the doctor how Yan had been informed that Sterling was a grounded fighter, the blow was, in fact, an intentional illegal strike — resulting in a disqualification loss for Yan — with Sterling strapped with the bantamweight championship — marking the first time in UFC history that a title has changed hands off the back of a disqualification. 

Knocking back former Invicta FC featherweight champion, Megan Anderson in her second defence of the 145-pound title — the previously noted, Nunes steamrolled the Australian within two minutes.

Rocking the challenger on the feet with massive punches, Anderson clumsily fell into a double-leg, giving up her back before the Brazilian locked up a triangle armbar — eventually forcing the tap from Anderson, in dominant, spectacular fashion. 

Rounding off our triple threat of title tilts, Jan Blachowicz successfully defended his light heavyweight championship — handing Israel Adesanya his first professional loss, and preventing the middleweight gold holder from becoming a two-weight world champion held simultaneously. 

Utilizing his wrestling cleverly in the fourth and fifth round, Blachowicz turned in a shrewd performance on his way to a unanimous decision win, before voicing his interest in matching with rightful number-one contender, Glover Teixeira in his next title defence. 

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