Every Monday, the Combat Press staff gathers its thoughts on the previous weekend’s fights and fight news. This feature isn’t a recap and it isn’t an editorial, but rather a bit of both worlds. We’ll scour the best from the combat-sports landscape and deliver it, with some commentary, right here. Let’s get started…
Isn’t it refreshing when all of the action takes place inside the cage? That was definitely the case at UFC on Fox 29.
The evening’s headliner certainly delivered. Dustin Poirier and Justin Gaethje went toe-to-toe until Poirier finally rattled Gaethje in the fourth round and followed up for the finish. We should all be thankful that the eye pokes from Gaethje didn’t bring an early end to the bout.
Of course, Poirier asked for a title shot following his win. He’s now 7-1 with one no-contest as a lightweight. His victories include the finish of Gaethje, as well as stoppages of Carlos Diego Ferreira, Yancy Medeiros, Bobby Green and Anthony Pettis. He’d make for an interesting pairing with current champ Khabib Nurmagomedov.
Alex Oliveira turned in an excellent submission win over Carlos Condit in the evening’s co-headliner. While “Cowboy” is firmly locked into a spot in the league’s welterweight division, Condit is now on a four-fight skid. It’s looking pretty grim for the former interim champ.
Israel Adesanya only managed a split decision against Marvin Vettori, but the bigger problem is that Vettori exposed Adesanya’s weak ground game. The undefeated kickboxer’s going to have to improve in that area, or further bulk up his takedown defense. If he doesn’t, then he might not hold onto that perfect record for much longer.
Michelle Waterson toughed it out for the win against Cortney Casey, but her talent would be better utilized at atomweight. Here’s hoping the UFC realizes as much and adds the division soon.
Bellator held its 197th event on Friday. Michael Chandler continued to demonstrate that he’s the best lightweight fighter in the organization, but he had to settle for a first-round win over Brandon Girtz in a non-title affair after current champ Brent Primus was forced out with an injury. Chandler lost the title to Primus as a result of an injury of his own, but he should recapture the belt once he and Primus finally do meet.
Bellator’s event allowed a lot of the company’s prospects to add to their win column. AJ McKee Jr and Logan Storley remained undefeated with decision wins over Justin Lawrence and Joaquin Buckley, respectively. Meanwhile, Kevin “Baby Slice” Ferguson Jr. scored a 34-second submission finish of Devon Brock, and Juliana Velasquez landed a kick to the stomach of her opponent, Rebecca Ruth, for the knockout finish. Further down the lineup, the undefeated Eric Ellington made his promotional debut with a split-decision nod over Jordan Howard.
Poland’s KSW organization crowned a new welterweight champion at KSW 43 when EFC Worldwide mainstay Dricus Du Plessis ventured outside of South Africa for the first time in his career and finished Roberto Soldić via strikes in the second round. UFC veteran Phil De Fries captured KSW’s vacant heavyweight title on the same card.
On the regional circuit, UFC veteran Clay Collard crushed the hopes of undefeated prospect Carson Gregory at SteelFist Fight Night 57. Collard is now 16-7. He’s claimed wins in both of his fights since departing the UFC, and those victories have netted him championships in SteelFist’s lightweight and welterweight divisions.
Isao Kobayashi won his interim featherweight King of Pancrase bout against Koyomi Matsushima at Pancrase 295, but the win came as the result of a disqualification following an illegal knee thrown by Matsushima. The evening’s headliner had a much more decisive end. Strawweight King of Pancrase Mitsuhisa Sunabe slammed opponent Shinya Murofushi in the second round for the knockout victory.
At Kunlun Fight 72, Vlad Tuinov and Marouan Toutouh won one-night, four-man qualifying tournaments to join the 2018 70-kilogram tournament Final 16. Russia’s Tuinov took down Yassin Baitar over three rounds and overwhelmed Tomoyuki Nishikawa in the final to capture the tourney. Toutouh eliminated two very tough and experienced opponents in Nayanesh Ayman and Milan Pales. Toutouh floored Pales with a left hook to the body in the third round to win his qualification tournament.
With six fighters already locked into the tournament field, this year’s bracket is shaping up to be one of the best since its inception in 2014. Unfortunately for the promotion, all of the Chinese participants in the tournament have been bested by their foreign counterparts. The promotion made a decision to lump eight Chinese fighters in the final two qualifying tournaments, most likely to ensure there would be at least two Chinese fighters in the Final 16.
KNOCK OUT continued its trend of bringing in high-level Thai fighters to challenge the big names on the roster. This time it didn’t pay off for the Japanese fighter in the match-up. “Mr. KNOCK OUT” Yosuke Morii couldn’t hold off current Rajadamnern stadium 135-pound champion Yodlekpet Or. Pitisak. Considered to be one of the best Muay Thai fighters in the world in his weight division, Yodlekpet showcased his beautiful technique and stopped Morii with an elbow strike in the fourth round to win the KNOCK OUT lightweight title.