It is Monday, time for an additional version of Ariel Helwani’s MMA Present, which airs dwell beginning at 1 p.m. ET on Twitter and YouTube. After it ends, you’ll be able to take heed to the complete present through the ESPN podcast middle.
Joyful Monday, associates.
Whereas most sports activities not named baseball are fairly quiet proper now, our beloved MMA is simply heating up (get it, just like the climate?). This upcoming weekend options the UFC’s return to Minneapolis, which has an outstanding heavyweight battle between Junior dos Santos and Francis Ngannou in the principle occasion, a Cage Warriors card with six (sure, six) title fights on it, one other installment of Dana White’s Contender Collection, Titan FC 55, LFA 70 and a slew of different occasions.
Keep in mind the UFC’s first journey to Minnesota again in 2008? Georges St-Pierre dominated Jon Fitch in the principle occasion and Brock Lesnar bulldozed Heath Herring en path to a title shot after his first UFC win. (Nonetheless amazes me he acquired a title shot after one UFC win, by the way in which). Good instances.
Anyhow, listed below are extra random ideas on the week that was and to come back in MMA:
The UFC Battle Night time major occasion on Saturday options two of the heaviest hitters on the UFC roster in Francis Ngannou and Junior dos Santos. However extra importantly, a heavyweight title shot might be at stake on this battle between contenders ranked within the prime three.
UFC Battle Night time: Ngannou vs. Dos Santos
• Saturday, Minneapolis
• Prelims: ESPN 6 p.m. ET
• Major card: ESPN 9 p.m. ET
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1. You recognize what’s bizarre about Chan Sung Jung? We have been watching him on the WEC/UFC stage for over 9 years now and I really feel like we nonetheless know little or no about him. He looks as if a happy-go-lucky kinda man — at all times smiling — however actually, what else? And but, he’s actually one of the crucial beloved fighters of the previous decade. It is fairly wonderful when you consider it, and it is in all probability all due to his fashion.
Within the 9 fights since his WEC debut in April 2010, just one — the precise debut versus Leonard Garcia — has gone the space. His final 5 fights have been headliners and so they have all ended through both TKO, KO or submission. After all, the most important battle in that stretch was his UFC 163 loss to Jose Aldo. I recall the shoulder and orbital bone surgical procedures he wanted after that loss. I recall the 4 years off between 2013 and 2017 to get well from the surgical procedures and to meet his necessary South Korean navy service. I recall his triumphant return Tremendous Bowl Weekend two years in the past in opposition to Dennis Bermudez and pondering possibly he’d go on a run, solely to see him undergo a severe knee damage afterwards and sit out one other yr and a half. And naturally, I am going to eternally recall his last-second knockout loss to Yair Rodriguez final November, which I might argue is as heartbreaking a loss I’ve ever seen. For sure, the 32-year-old has been by means of loads.
And so to see him come again on Saturday evening and end Renato Moicano in simply 58 seconds was a factor of magnificence. I puzzled after the Rodriguez loss whether or not he’d ever have the ability to overcome a loss so devastating. Come to think about it, possibly we do know greater than I thought of Jung. He at all times delivers, he by no means provides up and he has but to permit each setback thrown his means stunt his progress as a fighter. He is a cult-like fighter if there has ever been one, and it was good to see him smiling — and crying of pleasure, too — after his newest masterpiece. Additionally, for no matter it is price, his walkout music is ideal, his nickname is among the greatest ever and he has phenomenal hair. Welcome again, TKZ. This is hoping we will see you extra usually sooner or later.
2. I am at all times impressed by how fighters can compartmentalize their lives earlier than huge fights. For instance, Randy Brown, who revealed after his win over Bryan Barberena that his grandmother died on Tuesday. We have heard tales like this earlier than, and we have additionally seen the mourning fighter win most of the time. I do not understand how they do it.
three. Deron Winn vs. Eric Spicely was a extremely enjoyable curtain jerker. I got here away pondering two issues: Winn, who was dropping all the way down to 185 from 205, could be greatest served preventing at 170 due to his peak [5-foot-5] and attain [71 inches]. And Spicely, who took the battle on six days’ discover, is harder than a two-dollar steak (credit score: Jim Ross). Glad they received the Battle of the Night time bonus.
Deron Winn defeats Eric Spicely by unanimous determination by the rating of 29-28. For extra UFC motion, join ESPN+ http://plus.espn.com/ufc.
Four. Somebody on Twitter requested me after Ariane Lipski’s battle whether or not she was overhyped coming into the UFC. I do not suppose that is honest. After profitable 9 in a row previous to her Octagon debut, Lipski is now Zero-2 in her first two UFC fights versus Joanne Calderwood and Molly McCann. These are two of the higher flyweights on the earth. Lest we overlook, “The Korean Zombie” misplaced his first two Zuffa fights (yeah, I do know the Garcia battle was controversial however work with me right here). I nonetheless suppose Lipski is usually a participant at 125. McCann, alternatively, actually appears to be discovering her groove after shedding her debut final yr. And I nonetheless cannot imagine she fought simply three months after having surgical procedure on her damaged orbital in March.
5. Maybe getting back from a five-year layoff versus an up-and-comer like Luis Peña, who’s 10 years his junior, was too tall of a activity for Matt Wiman. I believe that battle ought to have been stopped between the second and third rounds as a result of these final couple of minutes have been actually laborious to observe. Additionally, I hope Peña stays at light-weight. That is a a lot better weight class for him.
6. It was one other good week for Hawaiian prospects with each Dan Ige and Punahele Soriano choosing up huge wins. Which begs the query: When are we lastly getting that Hawaii vs. the world UFC card in Hawaii? That is taking means too lengthy.
7. I noticed some individuals calling for an interim bantamweight title battle after information broke that Henry Cejudo underwent shoulder surgical procedure final week. I disagree with that. The man simply received the belt, in spite of everything. If something, there is a case to be made for an interim flyweight title, however everyone knows that is not taking place any time quickly. Within the meantime, I might wish to see a Petr Yan vs. Aljamain Sterling No. 1 bantamweight contender battle.
One of the best insider within the sport, Ariel Helwani, and greatest persona within the sport, Chael Sonnen, break down the MMA weekend and sit up for the most important playing cards.
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Eight. Sean O’Malley, man. That is unhappy stuff. Should you’re scoring at residence, he has now had 4 checks come again constructive for the banned substance ostarine. He was suspended for six months by the USA Anti-Doping Company and the Nevada State Athletic Fee after the primary two, and now the NAC has quickly suspended him after two extra checks got here again constructive. In consequence, he is off UFC 239. He’ll possible have a listening to in July, in accordance with my colleague Marc Raimondi, who’s an skilled at these items.
After all, the second this story broke late final week everybody considered Jon Jones’ saga. The massive distinction is, O’Malley is already licensed in Nevada, whereas Jones wasn’t, thus avoiding suspension and permitting the UFC to maneuver UFC 232 to California on six days’ discover. Although, it’s price noting, Nevada allowed Jones to withdraw his license software first. I assume we now know the reply to the query all of us puzzled in December about whether or not the identical remedy would apply to a non-megastar.
One silver lining: USADA has determined in opposition to suspending O’Malley once more as a result of they imagine these are the identical traces present in his system final yr, which is identical cause why they do not proceed to droop Jones each time the long-term M3 metabolite of oral turinabol exhibits up in his system. I do marvel, if this actually is a case of double jeopardy, why USADA is not punishing O’Malley but Nevada is holding him up. I might wish to suppose USADA, contemplating anti-doping is its experience, could be the standard-bearer in circumstances like these, however maybe Nevada looks like they should set their very own commonplace as a result of USADA is paid by the UFC. I am solely speculating as a result of Nevada has declined touch upon the matter so far, which looks as if a mistake, within the curiosity of transparency. Backside line, that is all one huge, darkish cloud over one of many sport’s most promising prospects.
9. John Lineker’s withdrawal from the Greenville card appears a bit off to me. In response to his supervisor Alex Davis, he pulled out of the battle after struggling a reduce Thursday evening whereas he was chopping weight. Fascinating to notice, Davis advised me it was Lineker’s name to tug out of the battle versus Rob Font, not the UFC’s or the medical workers. Keep in mind how only a few weeks in the past Lineker was publicly complaining about not getting sufficient fights? So this does not add up. Was he having a tough time chopping weight? Lineker has had a historical past of failed weight cuts, although Davis wouldn’t verify that since he wasn’t there with him, and, to the perfect of my data, Lineker hasn’t given his facet of the story but.
10. With O’Malley getting pulled from UFC 239, it feels just like the UFC ought to simply go forward and e book Font versus O’Malley’s unique opponent, Marlon Vera, for July 6, proper?
11. Why did Bellator make it so laborious to observe their occasion this weekend? There must be a better means.
12. Should you missed it, you missed an excellent back-and-forth affair between Gegard Mousasi and Rafael Lovato Jr. Ultimately, Lovato received through majority determination and thus turned the brand new Bellator middleweight champion. Curious if they’re going to run that one again or give Lyoto Machida a title shot. I say the latter.
13. Bellator’s London card was a kind of the place each prospect Scott Coker & Co. needed to win received, even when the victories weren’t essentially the most thrilling ones. James Gallagher, Aaron Chalmers, Fabian Edwards, Denise Kielholtz and Terry Brazier all picked up Ws.
14. Nobody however me will care about this, however I could not assist however do a double take after I noticed this outcome: Oliver Enkamp (Eight-2) def. Walter Gahadza (18-Four) through submission (rear-naked choke), Four:54 of Spherical 1. Why? My oldest son’s title is Oliver and my second son’s title is Walter. I imply, what are the possibilities, proper? Fairly positive it is a first in MMA historical past.
15. Good to see Aaron Pico emerge on social media late final week. I am not prepared to surrender on him simply but.
16. I haven’t got far more to say about Brendan Loughnane not getting a UFC contract following his win on Contender Collection apart from I nonetheless cannot imagine the rationale given was that he shot for a double leg with 10 seconds left. Ten seconds! In case you are questioning, UFC has unique rights to any winner on the present for 30 days following the battle (losers are free to signal elsewhere straight away), so he cannot signal with anybody simply but. If UFC in the end decides to go on him, this is hoping Bellator, who’s clearly making a giant push within the UK, will get over the truth that he as soon as spurned their supply to maintain his UFC choices open and scoops him up.
A win by Weili Zhang, proper, in her upcoming strawweight title battle in mainland China may assist the UFC’s enterprise blossom there. AP Picture/John Locher
17. In 10-15 years we could look again on the UFC’s funding in China — what with the opening of the Efficiency Institute and whatnot — as one of many shrewdest strikes the corporate has ever made. Time will inform, but when they will crack that market with a star or two, and we all know they have been looking for one, that shall be enormous for the corporate and the game. Weili Zhang can expedite that course of in a pair months.
18. I used to be glad to see the UFC announce that the Aug. three Battle Night time card shall be held on the Prudential Heart in Newark, New Jersey. It has been an extended three and a half years because the UFC held an occasion there, and, extra importantly, it hasn’t since New York legalized MMA. New Jersey was one of many very first states to embrace blended martial arts, so it at all times felt bizarre that it might be the most important loser as soon as New York acquired its act collectively. After all, Newark’s proximity to Madison Sq. Backyard and the Barclays Heart actually hurts, so it is good that they are coming again for a Battle Night time card.
19. Lengthy overdue that the ESPY’s provides MMA and boxing its personal Fighter of the 12 months award. They acquired the nominees proper, too: Israel Adesanya, Henry Cejudo, Daniel Cormier and Amanda Nunes. Fan voting is open right here and one thing tells me Cejudo will profit most contemplating he simply fought. Perhaps I am fallacious, although. All are actually deserving.
Which champ takes residence the trophy? 🏆 (through @ESPYS)
Vote now: https://t.co/GoclPCHbrO pic.twitter.com/RzvxVLEwtD
– ESPN MMA (@espnmma) June 19, 2019
20. All the perfect to welterweight contender Santiago Ponzinibbio, who not too long ago underwent emergency surgical procedure for a bacterial an infection in his knee. After a second journey to the hospital after surgical procedure, I am advised he is again residence and feeling higher.
21. I might be shocked if the winner of JDS vs. Ngannou would not get a title shot subsequent. Solely query is, if Daniel Cormier wins on Aug. 17, will that individual battle DC or battle for the vacant title? My guess is it is for the latter.
22. Saturday’s Jussier Formiga vs. Joseph Benavidez battle is a superb one on paper, however I don’t know what’s at stake. If the flyweight division was wholesome, they might absolutely be preventing for a title shot, however who is aware of what is going on on with the load class as of late. All I do know is that the winner higher make a number of noise afterwards in the event that they need to be even thought-about for a title shot subsequent.
Monday’s Helwani Present lineup:
Eddie Alvarez is seeking to rebound in August after struggling a loss in his ONE Championship debut. Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Getty Pictures
1 p.m. ET: Marlon Vera
He’ll speak about what’s subsequent for him after Sean O’Malley’s non permanent suspension.
1:15 p.m.: Molly McCann
She’s going to recap her win at UFC Greenville over Ariane Lipski.
1:30 p.m.: Eddie Alvarez
Alvarez will focus on his loss in his ONE Championship debut and his return in August.
1:50 p.m.: Deron Winn
Winn will look again at his profitable UFC debut.
2:05 p.m.: Brendan Loughnane
He’ll replicate on his Contender Collection win, why he did not get the contract and focus on what’s subsequent.
2:25 p.m.: Liz Carmouche
She’s going to preview her UFC girls’s flyweight title battle in opposition to Valentina Shevchenko.
Jon Jones is gearing up for his gentle heavyweight title protection in opposition to Thiago Santos at UFC 239 on July 6. AP Picture/John Locher
2:45 p.m.: Jon Jones
Jones will sit up for his UFC 239 title battle in opposition to Thiago Santos.
three:05 p.m.: Weili Zhang
She’s going to focus on her upcoming UFC strawweight title battle in opposition to Jessica Andrade.
three:25 p.m.: Rafael Lovato Jr.
He’ll look again at his Bellator middleweight title win over Gergard Mousasi.
three:45 p.m.: Luis Peña
He’ll recap his win over Matt Wiman this previous weekend and focus on his future plans.