Weekly Shout Outs to the Fighters
After an incredible weekend of fights, there were so many performances that had me buzzing and I have to give props to them. We had three straight nights of MMA madness between PFL, Bellator, and UFC 263. From the obvious to some that flew under the radar, I’m here to remind or fill you in.
Thursday night on PFL was the very hyped MMA debut of two-time Olympic gold medalist and undisputed 154lb champion Clarissa Shields. One of the best female boxers today taking the leap to another sport in the middle of her prime at twenty-six years old. She had a tough debut opponent in Brittany Elkin with nine professionals and a background in grappling. I thought the holes in Clarissa’s ground game would be too big, but she stuck it in my face. Earning a 3rd round TKO from ground and pound after being out grappled and mounted the first two rounds. Clarissa showed so much promise after staying calm in bad positions, showing great cardio, and some beautiful punches that earned her all her hype. With the circus of MMA fighters going to boxing, it’s so refreshing to see a boxer in her prime have the balls to come over to a combat sport that boxing isn’t the best base for, just a gangster movie. She mentioned she wanted to go back to boxing, but if she wants to get better, she has to stay consistent in her training. Women’s MMA would be a lot more fun with someone like her around. Shouts to you Clarissa.
Friday on iKon Fighting Federation 7 another great female boxer came over to MMA. Amanda Serrano the WBC and WBO featherweight champ had her third fight in MMA against Valentina Garcia. She had me flustered when she submitted Valentina with a standing guillotine sixty seconds into the first round. Was it the toughest opponent in the world? No, but to pull off a submission like that shows the versatility in her skills and reminder to any future opponents she’s dangerous anywhere. Like I said before about boxers always baiting MMA fighters into their sport and embarrassing them. These girls joined the handful of five or six boxers who are a different breed to take a shot in the very difficult sport of MMA. Amanda has so many options right now, whether it’s sticking to MMA or going for the Katie Taylor fight in her main sport which would be huge for women’s boxing. Another gangster shouts out Amanda Serrano.
Friday on Bellator 260, one of the biggest prospects in the sport blossomed into a real contender at 145lbs. Some who the MMA community has turned the back on after suffering back-to-back knockout losses but is 4-0 since then. His performance against Aiden Lee Friday was the most complete and best he’s ever looked. The wrestling was insane, takedown after takedown in a variety of ways. The boxing looked great as usual with some of the best bodywork in the sport right now. Constant offense on the ground going for d’arce chokes, armbars, and leglocks. The elbows and punches from on top were powerful and precise. He did something I loved that I feel is so underutilized in the current state of MMA which is body shots on the ground. The finishing sequence was Aiden Lee turtled on the ground so Aaron ripped two knees to the body that made me cringe. It made Aiden cringe too when he started to scramble, left his neck open, and Aaron locked up the anaconda choke to submit him in the 3rd round. I loved his call out of Adam Borics who was Pico’s last loss in a fight I think he could avenge. With a record of 8-3 with never going to the distance, this man is easily the most exciting fighter in Bellator. I’d argue one of the most exciting in all of MMA. Keep your eye on this guy; he’s the future of the sport.
Roberto De Souza
Late Saturday night at RIZIN 28 in Tokyo there was a 155lb title fight that flew under the radar between Roberto de Souza and Tofiq Musayev. Tofiq is an absolute savage from Azerbaijan who won the RIZIN lightweight Grand Prix fighting twice in one night in 2019. He had such a long layoff because he’s a soldier in the Azerbaijani army. He even turned down a UFC contract to stay with the major Japanese promotion. Who was riding crazy momentum going into this fight with a fourteen-fight win streak filled with UFC, Bellator, and regional Russian veterans. Souza is a beast in his own right being 12-1 with twelve finishes but I thought Tofiq was more well-rounded and would expose the holes in the standup. Boy was I wrong, Souza used his bread and butter jiu-jitsu to lock up the triangle choke seventy seconds in the first round to win the RIZIN 155lb title. This man is so underrated and is easily one of the best submission artists at 155lbs today. Both fighters could do damage in the UFC right now. I had to give props to Souza on a giant win that no one will notice.
There was no way I could leave Terrance out of this, he had one of the best performances at UFC 263. Let me give a little bit of background on this man. I first saw him on the Contender Series in 2019 where suffered a knockout loss to UFC vet Sean Woodson. He had another loss to Darrick Miner right after. He took 2020 off and has had an insane 2021. Scoring three first-round knockouts with two of them being under twenty seconds. He got the call to the UFC last minute when Frank Camacho pulled out of his fight with Matt Frevola five days before the fight. Just like that Terrance is in there and scores a second knockout over Frevola. A clean 1-2 down the pipe that put down the five-fight UFC veteran. In peak MMA fashion Terrance injured his knee celebrating which was sadly hilarious but thankful he didn’t need to use it. What a year for this man though, four wins with a total fight time of just under two minutes, the fastest knockout in lightweight history, and a 50k bonus for a cherry on top. Props to my man Terrance.
How could I leave out Brad? His fight with Drew Dober Saturday blew past the high expectations we had for this matchup. I’m impressed with Brad surviving the early stun from Dober that’d finish everyone else. Grappled to clear the cobwebs then went right back into the pocket with Drew slipping punches and landing his own counter shots. He showed toughness, intelligence, variety, and savagery going right back into the fire after getting hurt in the first round. The team at City Kickboxing always talks about embracing the darkness and that’s exactly what Brad did. Even came close to finishing Drew in the 3rd round after constant counter straights and hooks. After the fight, he dedicated the fight to his murdered teammate Fau Vake that I’m sure he’d be proud of. Brad showed even more balls calling out Gregor Gillespie that was a matchup that fell through last month but is honestly a tough one for Brad. He could’ve just moved on from that, but he wants the adversity. Just another ace added to the stacked deck that is 155lbs in the UFC.
This is the only guy who could lose the fight, but I still got to give a shout-out. Saturday night was vintage Nate Diaz. Taunts, middle fingers, submission attempts, clean boxing, a cut-up face, and losing a decision but not losing stock. Even as a huge Diaz fan, from watching the Masvidal fight I thought Leon was going to run over him. How dare I? While Leon did win a decision, Nate also won. He made the MMA world go crazy when he hit him with the Diaz signature Stockton slap-left cross combo that put Leon on queer street. If Nate had a little more urgency who would’ve had another massive upset under his belt. If fights had no time limit Nate’s record would look a lot different. There was a great Youtube comment I saw that said “Nate doesn’t lose fights, he just runs out of time”. It was a nightmare matchup and coming off a two-year lay-off he did great. I loved Nate at the press conference after, filled with gems like “In a real fight in a real-world, that fight’s a wrap. He was sleepwalking.”, vouched for Leon to get a title shot, and just showed an overall maturity we haven’t seen from him before. Nate’s got the MMA world in the palm of his hand, so I’m hyped for his next move. I don’t know if we’ll ever get anyone like the Diaz brothers again in this sport, so enjoy them while they’re here. Shouts out to the legend.
What a performance by the new flyweight champion. Since the fight was announced a few months ago I thought Figgy was going to finish Brandon this time, but as more time went on and the more I heard Brandon speak about the fight you could just see the composure, belief, and hunger. It all translated to the fight. The boxing was crisp, that power jab knockdown was beautiful, the grappling was quick and tenacious. Brandon pitched a shutout over one of the scariest fighters in flyweight history. He had a long bumpy journey, but he never veered off his goals. What’s insane is that he’s only twenty-seven and has been through so much in his MMA career. This man isn’t even at his peak yet. 125lbs has never been in a better place with a rematch against Askar Askarov or a trilogy with Figgy. I think over the next year the flyweight division is going to prove to everyone why it’s one of the most fun in the UFC.
I got to give praise to the defending champion. This was a huge fight for his legacy asking how he will bounce back from the Blachowicz fight. He reminded the middleweight division why he’s king. Everything was on point. Nobody has more beautiful movement than Israel, the footwork was quick and intelligent, the head movement was stunning, it was a defensive masterpiece. The offense was just as good, Israel looked fast, had great variety, and of course, the accuracy was on point. He neutralized Marvin’s biggest strength in wrestling and got up off his back every time. That one get-up he got where he kicked his foot off the cage to reverse position had me yelling. Just pure domination to end a one-sided rivalry from the champion. He pulled no punches in his post-fight interview calling out #1 contender and former champ Robert Whittaker which is the best and most needed fight that can happen at 185lbs.