The Sunday Aftermath

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Saturday November 15th can officially be entered into the record books as the busiest day of MMA ever. There was at least one promotional title on the docket for Cage Warriors, WSOF, Bellator and the UFC on the jam-packed Saturday night.

Bellator Bring It

Arguably the best card of the weekend was Bellator 131 which saw a host of familiar names in action with the lightweight strap up for grabs in the co-main event. Headlining, though, was the bout between over-the-hill UFC hall of fame inductees Stephan Bonnar and Tito Ortiz (with Justin McCully as special guest referee…. we wish). It was a lacklustre affair with neither man bringing anything new to their games. Ortiz clinched and attempted takedowns as Bonnar threw combinations with not much behind them. The fight was a fun one, despite everything, and Ortiz took the split decision win as well as one step closer to a Bellator title shot.

Speaking of Bellator titles, Michael Chandler and Will Brooks fought it out for the lightweight iteration before Ortiz took his W. It was another closely fought battle as all Bellator 155 lbs title fights seem to be with both men trading strikes and takedown attempts in almost equal number. It was the 4th round, though, where the definitive blow was landed. As the pair scrambled on the floor, Brooks hit his opponent with a concussive uppercut which put Chandler on queer street. As Chandler oddly looked to the referee to seemingly for a timeout, Brooks took no prisoners and got the finish with a series of strikes against the fence – cementing his place as Bellator’s top lightweight.

Duffy Shines At Cage Warriors 74

Irish interest this weekend all centred around Cage Warriors. Joseph Duffy, Steve McCombe and Phil Mulpeter were all scheduled for action in London but after Mulpeter was forced to pull out of the fight due to a cut, Duffy and McCombe were left flying the flag alone. It was a mixed night for the pair. McCombe ended up losing to Nathaniel Wood after horrifyingly snapping his arm when a Wood high kick caught him while Duffy viciously knocked out his opponent in the opening seconds of his bout with a knee bang on the jaw. Two titles were also up for grabs in London also.  Nicolas Dalby was impressive again as he dominated Mohsen Bahari and won a unanimous decision (50-45×3) while Pannie Kianzad won the inaugural women’s bantamweight title beating Eeva Siiskonen also via unanimous decision (50-45×2, 49-46).

Triple Title WSOF

Not one, not two but three titles were on the line at the under-the-radar WSOF event last night. In actuality, it’s more like 2.5 belts were up for grabs after Justin Gaethje’s opponent, Melvin Guillard, missed weight and wasn’t eligible to take home the gold. Nevertheless the fight went ahead over three rounds and it was a high quality coming of age for Gaethje who took the split decision win against the former UFC contender. Before that, #1 female strawweight in the world Jessica Aguilar defended her belt with ease against Kalindra Faria. Aguilar, who signed with WSOF days before the UFC announced the introduction of the 115 lbs division, seems to be stranded in the promotion with all worthy challengers signed to the Dana White run promotion. Hopefully for her and the fans she can eventually find her way to the big league while still in her prime. Then, the main event was contested between David Branch and Yushin Okami for the 185 lbs belt. It was equally dominant for the champion Branch who was in control of a largely uneventful bout before getting the stoppage after a hard right hand in the penultimate period.

Werdum Sinks Cinderella Story

Despite being a horrific card for the most part on paper, UFC 180, the promotion’s first ever event in Mexico, still had arguably the three best fights of the weekend closing out the show. Ricardo Lamas and Denis Bermudez kicked off the high level competition and brought it right from the start. Bermudez was his usual wild, aggressive self and caught “The Bully” a couple of times early but was largely off target with his strikes. Lamas started the slower but was defensively sound and settled eventually. Midway through the round, Bermudez was on the attack again when caught with a stiff jab on the nose which dropped him to the floor. Lamas immediately followed him down, sank the guillotine choke and got the tap – ending the seven fight winning streak of “The Menace”.

Welterweight contenders followed that when Jake Ellenberger took on Kelvin Gastelum. It was all Gastlelum from the start as he jabbed and avoided the power of Ellenberger, for the most part, before taking him to the floor.  To his credit, “The Juggernaut” managed to get back to his feet before suplexing his opponent to the ground. Gastelum, though, saw it coming and managed to stay off of his back before hitting a magnificent switch and taking the back of Ellenberger. The rear naked choked was rapidly locked in and the tap came to give Gastelum, by far, the biggest win of his career.

The main event, though, was what everyone came to see. After Cain Velasquez was injured just three weeks out, the UFC created an interim heavyweight belt and drafted in Pride veteran Mark Hunt to face #1 ranked Fabricio Werdum for the gold. It was a tentative start from both men as Werdum opened the ledger with a stiff leg kick which Hunt immediately gave back before dropping the Brazilian with a big right hand. Werdum recovered to his feet before quickly going for the takedown which Hunt stopped it with ease and got one of his own – dangerously putting himself into the guard of the BJJ black belt. Hunt landed some nice ground and pound before getting back to his feet as the round came to an end.

Hunt swung hard to start the second and dropped Werdum again with a straight right. The Brazilian, though, looked to be settling and was lighter on his feet as Hunt’s strikes were more and more off target. Then, out of nowhere, Werdum flew at Hunt and knocked him down with a massive knee. The Brazilian pounced as Hunt laid defenseless on the deck and finished it with a flurry of hammerfists to become the 5th UFC interim heavyweight champion. With full champion Cain Velasquez due to be back from a knee injury midway through next year it makes for a huge unification bout between undoubtedly the two best 265 pounders in the world.

Podcaster, lead MMA writer and analyst for SevereMMA. Host of the SevereMMA podcast, out every Sunday. Economics and Mathematics graduate from UCC. Also write for Sherdog. Previously of hov-mma and fightbooth. As heard on 2FM, Red FM, Today FM and more. Follow me on twitter for updates @SeanSheehanBA and on Facebook Facebook.com/seansheehanmma