This Week In MMA – March, Week 2

Mandatory Credit: Jeff Bottari – Zuffa LLC

Taking a look back on this week in MMA, the majority of the headlines were grabbed by the fallout from last weekend’s UFC 259 bantamweight title fight between Petr Yan and Aljamain Sterling, Julianna Pena’s callout of two-weight world champion, Amanda Nunes, the imminent return of former interim lightweight champion, Tony Ferguson, and last night’s UFC Vegas 21 headliner between Leon Edwards and Belal Muhammad.

In some heartwarming news to kick off the week, #7 ranked lightweight contender, Dan Hooker was finally reunited with his partner and young daughter in his native New Zealand, following a four-week mandatory quarantine in Abu Dhabi, UAE and a further two-week period of quarantine following his UFC 257 appearance against Michael Chandler.

Fresh from a dominant arm-triangle stoppage of Elevation Fight Team striker, Drew Dober at UFC 259 — Islam Makhachev claimed that he wanted to help the above mentioned, Ferguson retire amid the Californian’s history with Makhachev’s teammate, undisputed lightweight best, Khabib Nurmagomedov. 

Off the back of her UFC 257 rear-naked choke win over former title challenger, Sara McMann, TUF 18 victor, Julianna Pena suggested a Mother’s Day matchup with current two-weight champion, Amanda Nunes, as she attempts to draw the Brazilian, whom Pena claimed has continued to avoid a fight with her. 

Detailing how if Nunes wanted to keep being “fat” by staying at the 145-pound featherweight, Pena made a bold statement, claiming the official is going to have to “pull” her off of Nunes if they share the Octagon. 

Following the release of a number of social media posts hinting at a possible retirement amid his ongoing battle with health issues amid a positive COVID-19 test result, Khamzat Chimaev was removed from the official UFC rankings — with UFC 259 victor, Sean Brady replacing him in the #14 slot. 

Off the back of his controversial disqualification win over Petr Yan at UFC 259 in which he claimed the undisputed bantamweight championship, Aljamain Sterling noted how he’s “excited” about an upcoming rematch with the Dudinka native.

Expected to make a return from his first Bellator defeat in a featherweight title challenge against Patricio Pitbull, Straight Blast Gym mainstay, Pedro Carvalho has agreed to clash with veteran Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu ace, Din Thomas black belt, Daniel Weichel at Bellator 257 on April 16th. 

Following his early triangle armbar loss to the above mentioned, Nunes, former Invicta FC featherweight best, Megan Anderson is expected to test free agency, with her UFC contract coming to an end after her defeat to Nunes. The Australian had initially claimed that the entire featherweight division would be shelved in May, however, promotion official denied those claims. 

Hoping to clash at the third time of trying, Georgian grappling talent, Merab Dvalishvili and Cody Stamann have been booked for a UFC Fight Night 190 event on May 1st. — after two failed pairing in the past prevented the pair from meeting.

Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship and Rizin FF alum, Sheena Bradenberg was charged with one count of reckless driving as well as a count of failing to stop at the scene of a deadly accident in relation to an August 1st. 2020 hit and run which left 56-year-old motorcyclist, Troy Lambert dead. 

Veteran former UFC and Cage Warriors official, Neil Hall sadly passed away this week amid COVID-19 pneumonia, in a statement released by his wife, Kath. Hall, a pioneer of officiating in the U.K., Hall had officiated numerous fights under the UFC’s banner, and following his death, tributes flooded in for the veteran referee.

Ramping up his rivalry with the above mentioned, Sterling, Yan claimed that as far as he’s concerned, Sterling exaggerated the effect the illegal knee strike had on him when he realised that he would become the bantamweight champion as a result of the illegal strike. 

Former UFC welterweight champion, Matt Serra, the longtime trainer of Sterling, whom the Uniondale native is a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt under, detailed how he felt “hurt” and “disrespected” by Sterling’s decision to leave him out of his corner for UFC 259, and in the same breath, announced his retirement from cornering fighters in the future. 

Ahead of a projected summer trilogy, rubber-match between Dustin Poirier and Conor McGregor, UFC president, Dana White dispelled the theory that McGregor must utilise his brash persona to find best success in the Octagon, instead detailing how he believes the Dubliner overlooked Poirier — planning on his future moves instead. 

Attempting to rebound from a unanimous decision loss to former heavyweight champion, Andrei Arlovski, Canadian contender, Tanner Boser is slated to return at a June 5th. UFC event as he draws the faltering veteran, Ilir Latifi in a heavyweight tangle.

Set to make his Octagon return in an attempt to bring a halt to a two-fight slide, former interim 155-pound titleholder, the aforenoted, Ferguson has drawn the streaking three-time Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu world champion, Beneil Dariush at UFC 262 on May 15th. in an intriguing matchup

Attempting to earn a title shot at welterweight, the #3 ranked, Leon Edwards finally returned on Saturday night as he drew the #13 short-notice fill-in, Belal Muhammad. Starting brightly, Edwards landed a flush one-two on the Palestine contender, as well as a notable left high-kick, the latter of which forced a backstep from a wobbling, Muhammad.

In a truly unfortunate ending to the matchup for both men, Edwards began the second round with an unintentional eye poke to Muhammad, who immediately fell to his back on the canvas in agony, detailing to referee, Herb Dean and the Octagon-side doctor how he “couldn’t see” out of his right eye. With the foul deemed unintentional, the headliner was ruled a ‘No Contest’. 

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