Charles Oliveira strengthened his status as the strongest lightweight in the world, Amanda Nunez sensationally lost the UFC champion title, Fedor Emelianenko returned to MMA enchantingly two years later, and Conor McGregor continues his career decline. “MK-Sport” sums up the results of the year in mixed martial arts.
They still fought
On October 16, Sochi hosted the AMC Fight Nights tournament, in the main duel of which the main enemies of Russian MMA clashed in a cage: Vladimir Mineev and Magomed Ismailov . The fans have been waiting for the second fight between them for three years.
In October 2018, at the 90th promotion tournament, athletes fought for the first time in a cage. Then, in the five-round fight, it was not possible to determine the winner, a draw was declared by a separate decision of the judges, which did not satisfy either side. Ismailov won two rounds and Mineev three. But Vladimir was deprived of one point for breaking the rules (from time to time he held on to the cage), so a draw is a natural and fair result. This opinion was also shared by Khabib’s father, Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov , thanks to whom there was no conflict immediately after the battle.
Ismailov, considering that he was brazenly robbed, refused the second fight and went to conquer the ACA league. In this promotion, he fully revealed his full fighting and media potential. They beat Vyacheslav Vasilevsky, Artem Frolov and Alexander Emelianenko . Defeating the latter launched Magu far into space. The last fight under the contract, the Bald Predator fought against the Ural Hulk Ivan Shtyrkov , who was defeated by a unanimous decision. Mineev, however, continued to fight in Fight Nights with middle-level rivals and became the middleweight champion.
In 2021, Amir Muradov became the owner of Fight Nights , who was able to negotiate with Ismailov about a confrontation with Mineev. According to some reports, the athletes received ten million rubles each.
The second fight resembled the first, with only one exception – Magomed did not calculate his strength and was exhausted by the third five minutes. For the first two rounds, he beat Mineev harshly both in the standing position and on the ground. But Ismailov overestimated his capabilities, for which he was punished. In the third round, Vladimir, feeling that his opponent was running out of gas, used an additional supply of energy, which was enough to win by technical knockout. It all ended with Magomed losing consciousness and could not come to his senses for some time.
After that, the relations between the athletes improved a little, but there is no talk of a third fight so far. In the summer of 2022, Ismailov will fight Alexander Shlemenko in the RCC promotion, while Mineev is still without rivals.
Domination of Charles Oliveira
After the end of his career, Khabib Nurmagomedov, the lightweight division of the UFC began to play with new colors. It turns out that there are a lot of the coolest fighters in this weight class who can be champions. Brazilian Charles Oliveira and American Michael Chandler fought for the vacant title . Before the fight at UFC 262 in May, Chandler was the clear favorite.
In the first round, he managed to shake the opponent, but failed to finish off. After experiencing powerful pressure, the Brazilian began to make his own history. In spite of all his haters, he showed that he is not only a master of grappling, but also a first-class drummer. At the beginning of the second round, he defeated Chandler by TKO and became the UFC champion. To do this, it took him 11 years and 28 fights (!!!).
The world refused to accept Oliveira as champion. He was destined in advance to be an obvious underdog in a battle against Dustin Poirier . It was the American that the fans considered the real champion. Poirier destroyed Conor McGregor twice in the first half of 2021 and became a real star.
The fight between Oliveira and Poirier took place at UFC 269 in December. The first round was reserved for the American, who worked perfectly in a stance, beat off Oliveira’s legs and showed a boxing master class. The Brazilian turned everything upside down in the second round when he managed to move the fight to the ground. On the lower floor, the champion competently controlled the challenger and thrashed him on the head with his elbows. In the third round, Oliveira finished the fight with a signature move – he jumped on Poirier’s back and performed a choke hold.
The first defense was successful. Next in line is Justin Gaethje. And then the winner of the pair Islam Makhachev – Beneil Dariush . 2022 will be a super exciting year for the UFC lightweight division.
Many believe that it is the Russian fighter who can take the belt away from Oliveira. Islam Makhachev finally came out of the shadow of Khabib Nurmagomedov and spent the best year in his career.
In 2021, he won three early victories over Drew Dober, Thiago Moises and Dan Hooker . He forced everyone to surrender after submissions, Islam soared into the top 5 of the lightweight rankings and got a challenger duel against Beneil Dariush .
American experts are confident that in a potential battle between Makhachev and Oliveira, we will see a chess game of two first-class wrestlers, and the winner will be the one who is more cunning.
On March 7, at UFC 259, the Russian bantamweight fighter Pyotr Yan made a gross mistake, as a result of which he gave his champion belt to the American Aljamein Sterling.
Jan’s first defense was under his control. He interrupted Sterling in a standing position, but more importantly, he completely declassified him in the fight. It was on the ground that many predicted defeat for Peter. In the fourth round, the American became cunning. He sat down and got one foot on one knee. In one moment, Yang could not stand it and struck a powerful knee blow to the head, which turned out to be forbidden.
It was at the moment of the blow that Sterling was in the “parterre” position – that is not how to beat by the rules. Aljamein was given time to recover, but when he heard that he could be awarded the victory, he showed an acting game. His face writhed in pain, and he himself could not get up. As a result of this performance, the fight was stopped, Ian gave the title to Sterling, losing by disqualification.
Aljamaine revealingly did not accept the title, throwing it right into the octagon. As it turned out later, all these were the freaks of the American. Within a few hours, he was photographed with a belt, calling himself a real champion, and Yana – a cheater and bedding. Of course, this behavior negatively affected Sterling’s image. Fans turned their backs on him, and UFC executives continued to rank Peter above him in various ratings.
The rematch was supposed to take place at UFC 267 in Abu Dhabi in October, but Sterling refused to fight a month before the show, citing the fact that he had not recovered from neck surgery. Health problems did not prevent the American from posting on his Instagram moments of training, where he was preparing his Georgian friend Merab Dvalishvili for one of the fights.
In the end, Corey Sandhagen agreed to fight with Peter . The fight lasted all five rounds and became one of the best in 2021.
Sterling recently announced that he has fully recovered and is ready to destroy Peter early next year. Rumor has it that the contracts are almost signed.
Is it possible to become a UFC champion at the age of 42, when there are young prospectors all around, hungry for victories and titles? Brazilian Glover Teixeira has shown in practice that it is possible.
He started his career back in 2002, got into the UFC in 2012, and became the champion in 2021. Three years ago he was written off, offered to end his career and do something safe for his health. But Teixeira bent his own line. After losing to Corey Anderson in 2018, he won five straight wins and a title shot.
The Brazilian entered the battle against the formidable and powerful Pole Jan Blakhovich as an obvious underdog. In the end, it all ended with Teixeira strangling the champion in the second round and taking the title from him.
Will he be able to carry out at least one successful defense, we will find out soon. Glover will have to fight with the daring Czech Jiri Prokhazka , who in two fights in the UFC tightly knocked out Volkan Ozdemir and Dominik Reyes .
Upset of the Year
Of course, many were surprised that Teixeira was able to cope with Blakhovic. But the main sensation of the year was the defeat of the Brazilian Amanda Nunez in the battle against the American Juliana Peña.
Nunez approached the fight as a favorite, went on a streak of 12 wins and two titles in the bantamweight and featherweight divisions. Singing was given the role of a whipping bag.
In the first round, the Brazilian simply did not feel the challenger, tossed her, beat her as she wanted and even scoffed. But in the second five minutes, Nunez’s plan collapsed like a paper house during a powerful hurricane. Peña unexpectedly climbed into the hard wheelhouse, it was clear that she was going all-in – for such a turn of events Amanda was not ready. Having missed a few blows to the head, the champion decided to continue the fight on the ground. But on the floor, Peña went out for a choke hold and after a few seconds Nunez knocked in surrender, she practically did not defend herself. The Brazilian later said that she had “lost control of her body.”
The rematch is expected in mid-2022. Nunez, despite the defeat, will still be the favorite. But Peña must transform after such an important victory and become stronger morally. A very interesting second fight awaits us.
The crash of McGregor
The outgoing year is the most unlucky one in the career of the Irishman Conor McGregor . In January, he returned to the Octagon at UFC 257, hoping to become the champion by the end of the year. But the reality was that McGregor’s time had passed. He lost to Dustin Poirier by knockout in the second round. Various excuses poured in. He managed to beg for another fight with the American, which ended even worse than the previous one.
In July, as part of the UFC 264 show, Conor suffered a terrible injury – a broken leg. But again he did not accept defeat, said a bunch of nasty things about the Porier family, insulted his wife. In addition, the Irishman periodically publishes posts on social networks about Khabib Nurmagomedov .
Now McGregor has gained a lot in mass. Its weight is about 90 kilograms. He plans to return next summer and wants to fight Nate Diaz for the third time .
Eagle FC is a new player in the world of MMA
Khabib Nurmagomedov, meanwhile, made it clear to everyone that his return to the UFC is just fan fantasy. Now Eagle is busy with other things. He acquired the GFC promotion and renamed it Eagle FC.
During the year, the organization held many good tournaments in Russia, and already at the beginning of 2022, Nurmagomedov is going to conquer the United States. His organization will now host tournaments in Miami. According to Khabib and the president of the league, Shamil Zavurov , they will hold eight to ten events in the United States next year. For this, the stars of the past were signed to the organization: Rashad Evans, Renan Barao, Diego Sanchez and Kevin Lee, who most recently was one of Nurmagomedov’s antagonists in the UFC.
The first tournament will take place on January 28, and in the main duel of the evening, Russian Sergey Kharitonov will fight Tyron Spong , a famous kickboxer who has never played in MMA.
The return of Fedor Emelianenko
A historic event took place on 23 October. The American promotion Bellator held the first tournament in Russia, and was led by a fight with the participation of Fedor Emelianenko . The last emperor has not fought since December 2019, when in Japan, in the Bellator 237 tournament, he defeated American Quinton Jackson by TKO .
In Moscow, 45-year-old Emelianenko met with 36-year-old Timothy Josnon . Initially, the bookmakers considered the favorite of the Russian, but as the fight approached, Fedor became an underdog.
The fight ended quickly, like all Fedor’s last battles. It took him exactly 100 seconds to knock out Johnson brightly and tightly.
Emelianenko still has one more contract fight. In the summer of 2022, Bellator promised to return to Russia again to arrange a solemn farewell to MMA for the Last Emperor. His rivals can be Cheik Kongo or Ryan Bader.
Fight of the Year: Chandler vs. Gaethje
In 2021, there were many high-profile fights and it is very difficult to single out one. But according to fans, the most spectacular fight was between Justin Gaethje and Michael Chandler , which took place on November 7 at UFC 268.
In the octagon, two masters of early victories met, but it so happened that their confrontation lasted all three rounds. In 15 minutes, a real war and a shootout unfolded in the cage, but Gaethji turned out to be more precise and stronger. The judges unanimously gave him the victory. This result allowed Justin to become a top contender against lightweight champion Charles Oliveira.
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