The Pound for Pound UFC rankings remain unchanged from last week with Alexander Volkanovski retaining his number one spot. Islam Makhachev remains in the number two spot.
This week’s UFC fight night was stuffed full of heavyweight and light heavyweight fights, but the real game changer was in women’s flyweight. The rankings in that division are expected to change after Erin Blanchfield took the back and choked Jessica Andrade in round two. Blanchfield came out strong, using straight shots to control the center of the octagon. While Andrade was able to stop the initial takedowns of Blanchfield, she wasn’t able to stop Erin’s lateral movement and excellent footwork. Both set an incredible pace through round one, ending up against the cage. Round two saw Andrade come out with heavy pressure, controlling the center of the octagon until Erin took her down with an inside trip and over three and a half minutes to work. She didn’t need it, as she jumped right to the back and sunk in an expert rear naked choke. It’s a safe assumption that she may be the next prospect to take on the winner of Valentina Chevchenko vs Alexa Grasso. That’s a fight I would like to see, given how well balanced Erin was between her standup and ground game.
Zac Pauga was able to move down to light heavyweight and smother Jordan Wright against the cage. The TUF alumni Pauga threw some clean elbows in the clinch, cutting Wright up and stuffing his offense. Pauga’s head control and strikes coming off of clinch breaks were able to stop Jordan Wright’s kicking game and lead Pauga to a unanimous decision victory.
Alex Hernandez took on veteran Jim Miller to open the main card. The fight opened with a great first round as Jim Miller came out with a series of straight shots that set up long and effective combos. Hernandez starts to connected more, finding success after starting to exit the pocket with lateral movement and varying his strikes enough to set up original and unique combos. Miller is relentless and a tough out on any night, and after a dominant second round from Hernandez, Miller rallied in the last 90 seconds and had some needed success. Round three started by both fighters trading nasty combinations, staying even on significant strikes through the first half of the round. The last minute saw Jim Miller sweep Hernandez’s leg and jump on his back. He sunk a nasty neck crank onto Hernandez, but Alex was able to slip out with fifteen seconds to go, then getting on top and landing some nasty ground and pound to finish the fight. Both men end the fight bloody and Alex Hernandez wins a unanimous decision.
I was surprised to see OSP fighting down on the prelims so far, seeing as he’s been a mainstay in light heavyweight for the last decade. He wasn’t a mainstay in this fight, as Philipe Lins came out swinging, hitting OSP with a straight left and finishing him in a flurry in the first minute. Time comes for us all.
The lineup for UFC 285 is looking nasty. It opens with top NCAA wrestler Bo Nickal fighting Jamie Pickett at middleweight. Nickal is a Penn State graduate and three-time big ten conference champion. He’s 3-0 in MMA, but what experience he lacks in the cage, he makes up for on the college mats. Geoff Neal faces undefeated Shavkat Rakhmonov from Kazakhstan. This fight was supposed to happen in January, but was moved back to March. Next are the two title fights, the first being in women’s flyweight. Valentina Shevchenko takes on Alexa Grasso. Valentina has been the flyweight champ since December 2018 and has defended the belt eight times. After that, Jon Jones moves up to heavyweight and fights Ciryl Gane for the vacant belt. Jones has been one of the greatest MMA fighters of all time and an absolute lightning rod for controversy. This fight is going to be two giant dudes banging hammers, and I can’t wait.
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