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Blissful Friday and welcome again to TGIFighting. We’ll get you set for this weekend’s MMA motion and break down the information of the day. Let’s get it on.
UFC on ESPN 23: Not a Good Card…However Right here Are Two Names You Must Know
Absolutely anything would appear pedestrian after the bona fide blockbuster that was UFC 261, however even graded on a curve, this Saturday’s card in Las Vegas shouldn’t be leaping off the display.
However there are two names that bounce out from the miasma of mediocrity: Jiri Prochazka and Giga Chikadze. They’re each enjoyable fighters on the up-and-up of their respective divisions. Wins on Saturday would do loads to place them on fan radars.
The night’s predominant occasion is pretty first rate. Dominick Reyes (12-2) is an thrilling and charismatic fighter greatest recognized for pushing Jon Jones (26-1, 1 NC) to the restrict final yr. On Saturday he’ll have interaction with Prochazka (27-3-1). The 28-year-old Czech bruiser hasn’t misplaced since 2015, although he is solely competed as soon as within the UFC. No UFC expertise wanted to know his take-two-to-give-one fashion will resonate with any struggle fan. That have deficit additionally hasn’t stopped him from turning heads within the media for his conduct out and in of the cage, and he is been a sizzling title in prospecting circles for a number of years now.
Prochazka is not only a good fighter; he is an motion fighter. An astonishing 24 of his 27 professional wins have come by knockout. That’s fairly good. This bout is probably going a title eliminator, with Reyes sitting at No. 3 and Prochazka at No. 5 on the official UFC gentle heavyweight rankings.
The co-main occasion is also a matchup between a newcomer and a veteran. The UFC has positioned the beloved however getting old Cub Swanson (27-11)—are you able to consider he is 37 years previous?—to function a signature belt-notch for the fast-rising Giga Chikadze (12-2), who’s a crisp 5-0 since getting into the UFC in 2019.
Steve Luciano/Related Press
That run of success was a little bit of a shock, as critics had pointed to Chikadze’s low degree of pre-UFC competitors and an underwhelming talent set past his kickboxing base. However he is elevated his grappling and is discovering methods to win, most just lately with a head-kick knockout that earned him his first efficiency bonus. Briefly, he is getting higher each time he steps contained in the fencing.
And but, not even sizzling newcomers can save this card from itself. Sorry, however the wow issue merely is not there. Why not be sincere about that reality? Simply because it is the UFC does not routinely make it an excellent card. There is not any magic fairy mud right here. After the primary and co-main, no predominant card fighter cracks the highest 10 in his or her division.
For those who’ve bought one thing else to do Saturday night time, this might be a card value skipping. However if you happen to do tune in, Prochazka and Chikadze are the 2 guys value keeping track of.
Trevor Wittman: Greatest Coach in MMA?
There’s been a current altering of the guard amongst MMA’s prime coaches. Historic gurus like Greg Jackson, Firas Zahabi and Rafael Cordeiro are nonetheless a lot revered however do not shine fairly as brightly as they did a number of years in the past.
Ascending to take their place within the pecking order are coaches like Eugene Bareman at Metropolis Kickboxing in New Zealand, who trains UFC middleweight champ Israel Adesanya (20-1) and featherweight champ Alexander Volkanovski (22-1). There’s additionally Mike Brown at American High Group in Florida, who coaches ladies’s double-champ Amanda Nunes (21-4), Dustin Poirier (27-6, 1 NC) and Petr Yan (15-2).
Arguably, nonetheless, the highest coach within the sport is Trevor Wittman.
Jack Dempsey/Related Press
Wittman shouldn’t be precisely new to MMA teaching, however a current shift to a extra customized strategy, grounded in fundamentals, has paid huge dividends. Amongst his costs: welterweight champ Kamaru Usman (19-1), Rose Namajunas (10-4), Stipe Miocic (20-4) and Justin Gaethje (22-3). That is 4 present or current champions proper there.
“Once I was with an enormous workforce earlier than, I by no means bought that one-on-one time to concentrate to my motion, my footwork or the way in which I used to be punching. Now I’ve to concentrate to that,” Usman told me in February. “I prefer it at this a part of my profession. That is the sort of consideration I would like so as to have the ability to maintain on to that belt.”
Gary McCullough/Related Press
Final weekend’s UFC 261 was Wittman’s high-water mark, as Usman emphatically defended his welterweight title, and Namajunas captured the strawweight strap from Zhang Weili (21-2). As all the time we’ll see what occurs, however for now, Wittman’s on prime of the MMA teaching heap.
ONE Championship: Reug Reug Swept Underneath the Rug
While you’re brainstorming an answer to an current problem, it is typically stated that you simply’re throwing what you’ll be able to in opposition to the wall to see what sticks.
Nicely, ONE Championship retains attempting that, however the partitions are fabricated from Teflon. And it is not only a string of dangerous luck. It is extra like weird luck, if there may be such a factor.
Wednesday night time at ONE on TNT 4 was simply the most recent instance. Oumar “Reug Reug” Kane (3-1), the Senegalese fighter whose go-for-broke knockout energy turned heads on social media, misplaced to completely unheralded Kirill Grishenko (4-0) in maybe the strangest trend doable.
On the finish of the primary spherical, Grishenko appeared to land a punch an immediate after the bell, and Reug Reug staggered again to the ground and started writhing in ache. Phrase got here out that the punch had landed on his throat, although the replay was, let’s consider, inconclusive. Reug Reug misplaced by TKO (retirement). Nice.
ONE Championship @ONEChampionship
Kirill Grishenko 🇧🇾 beats “Reug Reug” by TKO! Do YOU agree with the ref’s name? @tntdrama @BleacherReport @BR_MMA @brlive #WeAreONE #ONEChampionship #ONEonTNT4 https://t.c