UFC Battle Night time in Columbus, Ohio, delivered with the mud deciding on three divisions as Curtis Blaydes, Alexa Grasso and Kai Kara-France placed on a present whereas placing the present champions on discover. Will any of the three get a title combat with their subsequent matchup?
Blaydes definitely hopes so, because the fighter overtly referred to as out for a title shot subsequent. Blaydes talked about Stipe Miocic, who was in attendance to observe the festivities, whereas within the Octagon for his postfight interview. With the way forward for Francis Ngannou and his reign as heavyweight champion in query, might we see Blaydes preventing for the interim belt this summer time?
Brett Okamoto, Jeff Wagenheim and Carlos Contreras Legaspi break down the Saturday card, together with Neil Magny becoming a member of Georges St-Pierre on the very prime of the welterweight leaderboard and Marc Diakiese displaying distinctive grappling capability in his efficiency versus Viacheslav Borshchev.
Watch UFC Battle Night time: Blaydes vs. Daukaus on ESPN+
Table of Contents
What does the long run maintain for Curtis Blaydes?
Who ought to be subsequent: Stipe Miocic
Man, I believe it is likely to be Miocic. Why not? The one purpose it wouldn’t be is that if Miocic is preventing Jon Jones (presumably for an interim title). This division is reasonably messy, however understandably so. Francis Ngannou is out the remainder of the 12 months resulting from knee surgical procedure. That seemingly means an interim title combat is occurring. Who’re the plain candidates for an interim title combat? Miocic and Jones. However is Jones preventing? He says he’s, however the place is the proof? Why hasn’t the UFC booked it but? Jones has been speaking about this transfer to heavyweight for the higher a part of a decade now. When is it occurring? If Jones is able to, then that’s the combat. Miocic vs. Jones. However I’m beginning to marvel if/once we see Jones combat once more. The UFC must resolve it. And if Jones isn’t able to go quickly, then Miocic vs. Blaydes is the combat to make.
If not Miocic? Ciryl Gane
Gane is coming off a title unification loss to Ngannou in January. It was a disappointing loss for Gane, in that he went up on the scorecards early however couldn’t cope with Ngannou’s wrestling because the bout wore on. If he had bother with Ngannou’s wrestling, he’s prone to have a troublesome time with Blaydes. Nonetheless, that is the obvious combat to make from a rankings perspective if Blaydes doesn’t combat for an interim title. It might be a troublesome draw stylistically for Gane, but when he desires to be within the very prime echelon of this division, he can’t have any weaknesses. There’s an opportunity he would possibly have to show he can wrestle towards one of many highest within the division his subsequent outing. — Okamoto
Grasso exhibits off her full recreation in Columbus
Typically, a 12 months off generally is a good factor for a fighter. For Alexa Grasso, making one thing good out of a streak of cancellations and dealing on her jiu-jitsu along with her Brazilian coach and coaching associate Diego Lopes was a prime precedence. She knew that her tempo might make Joanne Wooden battle on their ft, and he or she was searching for an announcement by exhibiting her improved floor recreation.
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The Guadalajara-born fighter was near submitting the previous strawweight champion, Carla Esparza, in Mexico Metropolis in 2019. She promised her coaches the primary submission of her profession this time and he or she delivered towards Wooden, who had been submitted in three of her final 5 fights.
In a division the place Valentina Shevchenko appears untouchable, Grasso is aware of she must convey an entire recreation to name for her consideration. It was additionally the primary end within the promotion for her. Each Viviane Araujo — who was imagined to face her at UFC 270 in January — and Manon Fiorot, who picked up a giant win towards former title contender Jennifer Maia on Saturday night time, could possibly be the right matchup for a No. 1 contender combat subsequent. — Legaspi
Whoa or Meh: Diakiese flips the script, Rosa lacks solutions
Whoa: Marc Diakiese vs. Viacheslav Borshchev
Diakiese got here to MMA from kickboxing. So did Borshchev. So who would have anticipated their light-weight bout to play out like a grappling contest? The followers didn’t get the fisticuffs that they had anticipated, however that didn’t make this combat a complete downer as a result of it confirmed us one thing. It was a tribute to Diakiese that he proved himself well-rounded sufficient to dominate on the canvas. The Congolese-British light-weight had 11 takedowns, tied for third-most ever within the division. Diakiese piled up 12 minutes, 24 seconds of management time within the 15-minute combat, which he gained by unanimous choice (30-27, 30-27, 30-27) to finish a two-fight shedding streak with a formidable show.
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Meh: Sara McMann vs. Karol Rosa
Identical to Diakiese vs. Borshchev, the combat proper earlier than it between bantamweights Sara McMann and Karol Rosa passed off primarily on the canvas, with McMann sustaining management for 10:27. What was disappointing about that? I imply, good for the 41-year-old McMann, a 2004 Olympic silver medalist in wrestling, that she might so totally be in management. However a lot extra was anticipated of Rosa. She got here in on a six-fight profitable streak and was a greater than 2-to-1 betting favourite. However on this night time, she had no solutions. — Wagenheim
Put some respect on Kara-France’s title with a title shot
Kai Kara-France tells the story about assembly Joe Burrow for the primary time and having no thought who he was.
In Auckland, New Zealand, Metropolis Kickboxing is residence to 2 UFC champions: middleweight Israel Adesanya and featherweight Alexander Volkanovski. It might quickly be three.
That didn’t seem like a robust risk for the fitness center’s Kai Kara-France within the opening moments of his flyweight bout with Askar Askarov. The undefeated Russian took Kara-France to the canvas lower than 90 seconds, shortly seized dominant place and threatened a submission for a lot of the primary spherical. However from that time on, it was Kara-France’s combat. He fended off all however considered one of Askarov’s 10 takedown makes an attempt the remainder of the best way. He damage him with punches and put him on retreat in Spherical 2. After Askarov (14-1-1) seized a physique triangle and once more chased a submission within the ultimate spherical, the New Zealander peeled him off and went on the assault till the ultimate horn. Kara-France then jumped on the cage and motioned for a belt round his waist and shortly had his hand raised for a unanimous choice victory in Columbus.
“Hey, I do know Brandon Moreno and Deiveson Figueiredo are preventing very quickly. I would like the subsequent title shot!” yelled Kara-France, referring to this summer time’s anticipated fourth straight assembly between the champion in Figueiredo and former belt holder Moreno. Kara-France, who was preventing — and profitable his third in a row towards a ranked opponent — on his twenty ninth birthday, confirmed that he belongs in a title combat. And he additionally confirmed that, even when he struggles at the beginning, Kara-France shouldn’t be going to make anybody’s night time straightforward. — Wagenheim
Magny coming stage with St-Pierre is a giant deal
Neil Magny incomes his nineteenth win at welterweight is a formidable accomplishment. George St-Pierre is arguably the best fighter of all time, and Magny will seemingly surpass him within the win column later this 12 months. It’s understood that Magny shouldn’t be the expertise that St-Pierre ever was when he was energetic. It’s additionally understood that Magny’s mark shouldn’t be the identical as GSP’s as a result of the Canadian celebrity constantly fought the perfect of his period because the dominant welterweight champion. I’m not suggesting that Magny’s 19 wins within the UFC’s 170-pound division are equal to St-Pierre’s. They aren’t, and historical past is not going to confuse the 2.
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However in some methods, the truth that Magny is not a generational expertise like St-Pierre makes his feat extra spectacular. Nobody would have ever predicted this profession for Magny, a seventh choose on The Final Fighter collection again in 2012, who started his UFC profession 1-2. Magny has constantly gotten probably the most out of his expertise; he’s all the time in form, energetic and deserves recognition for this achievement. Until he can lastly recover from the hump and earn a title shot, followers gained’t bear in mind him as one of many best welterweights of all time and even one of many highest welterweights of his technology. And but, he’ll seemingly go down as probably the most profitable welterweight within the historical past of the UFC primarily based on his win depend. Nitpick that every one you need, it’s a large deal. — Okamoto
Fiorot is flying up the ranks — which isn’t a foul factor
The ladies’s flyweight division is so utterly broad open, it really poses a continuing danger of dashing its prospects. It occurred to Maycee Barber, as she jumped up the rankings too shortly and took a loss towards Roxanne Modafferi. It occurred to Cynthia Calvillo, as she regarded good towards Jessica Eye, however subsequently misplaced three in a row to Katlyn Chookagian, Jessica Andrade and Andrea Lee. Casey O’Neill grabbed our consideration in 2021 with three consecutive wins, however she almost misplaced to a retiring Modafferi final month and we’ll see how she stacks up in a Prime 10 combat towards Eye this summer time.
The chance isn’t essentially dangerous, however it’s price monitoring given the state of the division. Valentina Shevchenko has been a dominant champion and he or she wants new blood, and Manon Fiorot could possibly be subsequent. Fiorot, who simply convincingly beat No. 4-ranked Jennifer Maia, is likely to be stalled for the speedy future. Typically, the quick observe is the proper path, and primarily based on Fiorot’s expertise in karate and Muay Thai, alongside along with her distinctive, long-range model — she shouldn’t fall sufferer to rising pains. Will she ultimately beat Shevchenko? Let’s not get forward of ourselves. However she’s within the Prime 5 to remain now, for my part, and he or she’s prepared for it. — Okamoto