Issue 205

May 2024

Ray Klerck jumps into the Fighters Only wayback machine to recap the best of mixed martial arts in May 2024.

Harry Hardwick Claims Cage Warriors Gold In Cage Warriors 172 Main Event

Fighters Only May 26, 2024

Harry Hardwick collected Cage Warriors gold whilst making history, last night at Cage Warriors 172. 

At the Vertu Motors Arena on Saturday night (May 25) ‘Houdini’ faced Orlando Wilson Prins in the main event of the evening, stopping the Dutchman in the second round to claim the vacant Cage Warriors Featherweight title. 

After an incredible walk to the cage, Hardwick looked to find his timing and distance early in the opening stanza and looked to be enjoying himself in front of a North East crowd. 

The Middlesbrough man mixed his strikes up between the body and the head and ultimately proved to be too much for Prins, dropping him with a body shot in the second and reigning down with ground and pound before referee Marc Goddard called time on the contest. 

He, alongside Lightweight champion George Hardwick, become the first brothers to simultaneously hold Cage Warriors titles. 

The co-main event was poised to be an all out war between James Plant and Daniel Kolasinski and it certainly delivered. The pair met in the middle and instantly started landed huge shots on each other, with Power hitting the mat with a flash knock down. After straying wildly from the game plan, Power’s corner had a stern word with him in between rounds 1 & 2, with the ASW man taking note and finishing the contest 15 seconds into the second round. 

Kennedy Freeman rallied in the third round to continue her impressive unbeaten streak when she faced Gisele Libanio. The Brazilian was known for her heavy wrestling and it was on display when she kept the North East native pinned against the fence for the duration of the opening round. Whilst in a clinch in the second, Freeman fired a knee up the middle, of which Libanio felt was a low blow. After a lengthy delay in proceedings, it was decided that the shot was in-fact legal and the bout continued. The third round was all Freeman, with her crisp striking landing and stopping Libanio in the third. 

Leon Hill was back at Lightweight and back to winning ways with a second round rear naked choke finish over promotional newcomer Tommy Hawthorn. The first round largely saw the pair spend most of the five minutes trying to get a read on eachother but as the second round started it was clear Hawthorn was fatigued. Seeing this, Hill’s corner roared their man on, asking for plenty of pressure and he obliged. After getting the floor to the ground, the submission was locked on and it was all over. 

Chasen Blair looked good at Lightweight with a first round submission against Latvian, Arturs Leisans. Having spent his first 6 bouts as a Welterweight, the American made the decision to drop to Lightweight and looked more than comfortable at the lower weight. 

Aiden Lee marked his first return to the promotion with a slick submission against Josh Abraham in the opening bout of the main card. After the pair traded on the feet for a while, the Renegade man got the fight to the floor and, after some solid defence from Abraham, eventually tied up a rear naked choke and got the tap with 14 seconds left of the opening round. 

In the featured prelim, Jack Humphries made his professional debut in style. There was a lot of hype surrounding the 20-year-old, who had made a name for himself on the Amateur scene through the IMMAF tournaments. Joao Dos Santos was the man across the cage from the Fearless MMA man at Cage Warriors 172 and was not able to stop Humphries from implementing his powerful game plan and stopping Dos Santos 3 minutes into the opening round. 

Michael Tchamou proved he had submissions as well as striking as he handed Joe Amber his second professional loss with a first round guillotine. There were also wins for Joe Fields, Charles Joyner, Jackson Clarke & Jordan O’Neil.

Stamp Fairtex Pulls Out Of ONE 167, Denice Zamboanga Gets New Opponent

Fighters Only May 25, 2024

Misfortune fell on the headline bout of ONE 167 earlier this week when ONE Championship announced the withdrawal of Stamp Fairtex.

The ONE Women’s Atomweight MMA World Champion was forced to pull out of the Saturday, 8th June, event after having to undergo surgery for a torn meniscus that she suffered while training.

Stamp was scheduled to defend the gold against Denice Zamboanga, but she now will have to rehab her injury. After the breaking news, the Thai megastar ensured fans she would return and asked them to send encouragement.

“Throughout the past, I had injuries, but I was still able to fight. But this is the first time that I had to have surgery. I am sad that I have to withdraw from this important fight that is coming up,” Stamp said.

"After the surgery, I need to continue my physical work. I will spend this time during this period to improve and develop myself. I promise that I will be back to the best I can be. I ask everyone to cheer me on."

In the wake of the shakeup, ONE announced plans to keep #2-ranked atomweight MMA contender Zamboanga on the ONE 167 card. She will now face judo star Noelle Grandjean inside Bangkok, Thailand’s Impact Arena. 

Though relieved to still be competing, the Filipina star will undoubtedly feel disappointed that she won’t be challenging for a World Title. En route to earning a shot at Stamp, Zamboanga dispatched divisional threats in Lin Heqin and Julie Mezabarba with clinical performances. 

“The Menace” will look to cement her position in the stacked atomweight MMA division with a third win, but her new opponent will certainly offer an interesting battle.

Grandjean has a golden opportunity to make her name known against Zamboanga. Should the Thai-French athlete topple her high-ranked foe, she could enter the World Title picture and add further heat to the weight bracket.

“Lil’ Monkey” entered the world’s largest martial arts organization as an unbeaten star, but she has struggled to maintain form across her four performances, going 2-2 overall. 

Grandjean dispatched Lea Bivins with a first-round knockout in her promotional debut in 2022, but her next win wouldn’t come until Victoria Souza this past March at ONE Fight Night 20.

Her momentum slipped once again when she was submitted by Chihiro Sawada at ONE Fight Night 22 earlier this month, so fans can expect her to come out blazing against Zamboanga on June 7.

ONE 167 will now be headlined by the ONE Featherweight Muay Thai World Title showdown between Tawanchai PK Saenchai and “Smokin” Jo Nattawut. The pair will meet a second time after their kickboxing firefight last year. 

The co-main will see the return of ONE Flyweight Muay Thai World Champion Rodtang Jitmuangnon, who battles Bosnian-Canadian striker Denis Puric in flyweight kickboxing.

Carlos Ulberg To Step In And Face Jamahal Hill At UFC 303

Fighters Only May 24, 2024

Carlos Ulberg will look to make the most of the opportunity handed to him as he steps in to face Jamhal Hill at UFC 303. 

Late last week, it was confirmed that Khalil Rountree Jr. was out of the contest with Hill after consuming a supplement which contained DHEA, which is a banned substance under the UFC anti doping policy. 

The bout will be an extremely turnaround for ‘Black Jag’, whose last outing was on May 12 against Alonzo Menifield. However, the bout was over in just 12 seconds when after Menifield came flying forward, Ulberg adjusted his feet and moved out of range before turning Menifield against the fence and catching him with two huge left hooks which sent Menifield crashing to the mat. 

It was undoubtedly the biggest win of Ulberg’s career so far, with the New Zealand man extending his unbeaten record to six. After losing his promotional debut to Kennedy Nzechukwu, Ulberg has learnt on the job and after a unanimous decision win against Fabio Cherant immediately after the loss, is yet to see the judges scorecards again. Three first round finishes against Tafon Nchukwi, Nicolae Negumereanu and Ihor Potieria led to a bout against Da Un Jun, and Ulberg showed his submission game to be as strong as striking with a third round rear naked choke. 

He then had a less than ideal start to 2024, having been matched twice to face Dominic Reyes, with both bouts ultimately ending up being pulled, before his initial clash with Menifield on March 30, fell to the same fate. Now looking to make up for lost time, Black Jag could leapfrog many in the division if he can pull off a victory against Hill. 

For Hill, the bout will mark an opportunity to prove that he is still at the very top of the division following his first round stoppage loss against Alex Pereira for the vacant UFC Light Heavyweight strap. The fight was Hill’s first one back since he suffering a ruptured Achillies tendon. Prior to the injury, Hill became the first of the Contender Series Alumni to be crowned a UFC world champion when he beat Pereira’s team mate, Glover Teixeira, to be crowned the Light Heavyweight champ.

It appears that the bout will still serve as the co-main event on the UFC 303, which will be headlined by the return of Conor McGregor, as he faces Michael Chandler in a Welterweight contest. Other notable bouts on the card include, UFC veterans Cub Swanson and Andre Fili battling it out at 145lbs, Michelle Waterson-Gomez taking on Gillian Roberts and Joe Pyfer will be back in action when he faces Marc-Andre Barriault.

Dakota Ditcheva Ready To Prove She Is 'At This Level' Ahead Of PFL 4: 2024 Regular Season

Fighters Only May 23, 2024

Dakota Ditcheva envisions herself being the face of women’s MMA one day, but is happy to remain on the current trajectory she is on.

The British prospect will face Chelsea Hackett on June 13 in the second week of the Women’s Flyweight 2024 PFL regular season. She currently finds herself sitting at the top of the table following a first round destruction of Lisa Mauldin in April. 

Due to the nature of the PFL Season, all eight athletes in the tournament will compete over the first two events, trying to amass as many points as possible. A first-round victory will earn the victor 6 points, down to 3 points for a decision win. With Ditcheva not only getting the first round finish but doing it quicker than any of the other women, earned her the top spot. When talking to Ariel Helwani on the latest episode of The MMA Hour, the 2023 PFL European champion revealed that the point scoring system is on her mind whilst competing. She said:

“I was thinking about it when I was fighting. Yeah, which is probably not the best thing, I don't think to be concentrating on that. But it is important, you know, you can get top, top points in the first round and then if I drop a few now, maybe another girl will kind of come up and it's only top four that, that place. So. Right. Definitely something that I think about. Yeah."

Following a flawless run in the 2023 European season, Ditcheva entered the regular season for the first time in 2024 with names such as Liz Carmouche and Talia Santos also in the mix. ‘Dangerous’ is relishing the idea of potentially facing one of the more experienced women in the tournament.

“Definitely something that I think about. Yeah. I think probably one of the main things that I've seen is like now I've come up to the, the global season and they've brought in these two experienced fighters. It's kind of like everyone's thinking, Where's Dakota going to fit now? Right? So but that's good for me. You know, again, it just keeps me motivated to prove that, I'm at this level and it's exciting fights that people want to see as well.”

American Top Team has some of the biggest names in the sport training in the gym day in, day out and is one of the most recognisable gyms in the world. Ditcheva is one of numerous top female athletes representing the Florida based gym across many major promotions. When asked which of the women had really taken her under their wing, the young prospect revealed that former UFC Joanna Jedysafs had been a huge help. 

“She's not there anymore but Joanna J did come in. She's been in a few times when I've been there and she's just honestly the most humble and loveliest person that I've ever met. She said to me, You know, you ever need anything, ever want any training, just call me. You know, they can bring me back, I can come help. So, wow, that's somebody that I've looked up to that still doesn't sink into me, but someone that I've watched like from the very beginning. So to to have her say them words and, you know, she said to me, like, you're the next the next champ. Like, you know, you're going to be the next one. And even things like that just don’t sink in like, I work with the same coaches, she's got like it gives me great confidence.”

At only 25, Ditcheva still has years left in the sport. The Manchester native was the poster girl of the inaugural PFL European tournament and has certainly been thrust into the spotlight since signing her first major promotional contract. But as ‘Dangerous’ admitted, as much as she can see herself becoming a huge name in the sport, the road ahead can sometimes appear daunting.

“Yeah. I mean, that's probably what scares me more, to be honest, that maybe just scares me a little bit. You know that people are putting all this like this faith in me, although I know I'm going to do that anyway. I'm going to be the face of female MMA I know that's one of my goals you know, to inspire and things like that and I want to be the best but it is very can be daunting at times that I kind of got all this kind of media and stuff like that on me.

“But, you know, it's all coming at the right time. I feel like my journey with PFL kind of started off at the right point, know, and they've really built me up in the right way, you know, doing the European season first, got me ready for this season and I feel like I'm prepared and learning more and more each fight.”

Tom Aspinall Sees 'Whole New Fight' Against Curtis Blaydes At UFC 304

Fighters Only May 22, 2024

Tom Aspinall is relishing the opportunity to perform in front of a UK crowd once more when he takes on Curtis Blaydes as UFC 304. 

After much discussion as to whether the interim Heavyweight champion would unify the division in a clash with current champion Jon Jones, it was ultimately decided that the Brit would defend his interim belt against the only man who has a victory over him in the UFC, albeit in less than ideal circumstances. When the two first met back in 2022, the bout was over in 15 seconds when Aspinall blew his knee out after throwing a kick. It was widely speculated that the rematch would take place one day and it was confirmed this would be the case when an abundance of bouts were announced for UFC 304 last week. 

Aspinall spoke with Talk Sport MMA to cover a plethora of topics, of which of course included his upcoming rematch with Blaydes. When asked whether or not he felt that the work he did not get to display the first time round, will be on display in the rematch, Aspinall said he could see it happening but they are both very different fighters from the first contest. He said: 

“Yeah, I think so but we are two different fighters now. Like, we've improved a lot the both of us, since then I've got a lot more experience since then, especially big fight experience, which is massive. Since then I came back and main evented in London and then I flew across and won in Madison Square Garden against the most dangerous guy in the Heavyweight division and knocked him out so my confidence has grown loads since then and just everything's better. Everything's a lot better. I'm a new version of myself now, than I was when I fought him last time. and he's improved as well, so whole new fight this time.”

Aspinall has become a staple of UK UFC shows but the Atherton man has travelled extensively throughout his promotional tenure. He is yet to fight as close to home as he will on July 27, when he makes the walk at the Co-Op Live Arena in Manchester. As the 31-year-old explained, it comes with both pros and cons. 

 “I don’t mind travelling, I quite like travelling and fighting but obviously I like fighting at home as well it’s a lot less stress. I don't know. It's less stress in a way, but it's more stress in other ways. There's a lot more pressure on me in this fight than me fighting in New York or Abu Dhabi or wherever. There's a lot more stress in terms of that but it is good. It's good. This is what I dreamt of when I as little boy starting MMA, stuff like this so yeah looking forward to it.”

Although the show is in Manchester, British fight fans will be in the stadium for the duration of the night, with UFC 304 set to take place on a time scale more suited to the US audience. This means Aspinall will likely not make the walk to the octagon until the early hours of Sunday morning. Aware of the fact he will have to change things up closer to fight night, the interim Heavyweight champion has not yet fully worked out exactly what adjustments will be needed. He said: 

“To be honest, it’s something that was not quite figured out. I would imagine that for a couple of weeks before we’ll be changing the training time to like 4am I guess I don't know, for right now we're just training as normal but we still like 10 weeks from fighting right now so it’s something I’ve not figured out I’m going to speak to a few more people who know more about than I do. Maybe Bisping, he’s done it, Maybe see how Leon’s doing it. Maybe speak to a couple of doctors, scientists, that kind of thing.”

Conor McGregor Targeting Active 2024 - Wants Nate Diaz At Sphere

Fighters Only May 22, 2024

Conor McGregor is eyeing a big 2024.

‘The Notorious’ will make his long-awaited return to the octagon on June 29 against Michael Chandler in the main event of UFC 303. Following their time as coaches on The Ultimate Fighter, fans have eagerly awaited the two would square off against one another and the announcement finally came last month, when UFC CEO Dana White announced the bout in his post UFC 300 press conference. 

In an interview with Oscar Willis of The Mac Life, a stoic McGregor elaborated on where his mind is at heading into the monumental bout. He said:

“(I’m) Ready to go. I'm calm, I’m composed, I’m cold in the soul for this man and this this whole thing. I'm coming back with a vengeance and I'm coming back with skill. So I'm excited to show my skills, my man, I’m in a great place mentally, physically, spiritually. And five weeks, five days time, we're back on the horse.”

McGregor made a name for himself being able to talk the talk and walk the walk throughout his career and even though there will no doubt be plenty of back and forth between himself and Chandler leading into the contest, it is clear that there is mutual respect between the two. Whilst discussing the bout, McGregor admitted that he can’t see himself revisiting the levels of animosity he has held for previous opponents. 

“Yeah, I don't think I'll go to that level again. You know, it doesn't serve a purpose. It doesn't serve me well. You know, like you say, you remain cold to the situation. You remain emotionless. It's a blank face and a specific body type, he has his set movements, his set patterns he moves in and his set shots. And, you know, I'm aware of them and I'm preparing for a multitude of outcomes. And, you know, just getting myself as ready as I can be and I am confident that all my shots will land.”

In his three years away from the sport, McGregor has been involved in a multitude of different business ventures including the launch of Forged Irish Stout, the opening of his restaurant and even featuring in the remake of Roadhouse. However, now with a date in the diary and an opponent set, the 35 year old is fully focused on the task in hand tuning up nicely with his coach John Kavanagh ahead of fight night.

“Yeah, well, I’m back and I'm on a tear, my man. I'm feeling great. Upgrade the software without damaging the hardware. You know, an old coach Kavanagh adage and that's, you know, why we're doing that. So we're in a really great place, myself and John. Training has been tremendous and I'm excited to get going.”

Having not competed since his leg injury against Dustin Poirier at UFC 264, McGregor is looking to make up for lost time and be extremely active throughout the duration of the next year. The Irishman confirmed he is looking to compete three times this year and even had some names in mind of who he would like to face. He said:

“You know, we've got Chandler, June and obviously September Sphere is Mexican Independence Day, potentially someone with a Mexican heritage. Maybe Diaz, I think Diaz would be perfect. I don't know the ins and outs. I kind of thought that would be a lovely one. I'm up for anyone, any one of them, and that's the truth. I don't really care who it is. I’m back. I want activity. And, you know, I've said this before and I'm God willing, this is the time and I feel and believe that it is.”

Three Huge Fights Announced For UFC 304 Including Leon Edwards, Tom Aspinall & Paddy Pimblett

Fighters Only May 16, 2024

UFC President Dana White recently took to social media to announce some major news that UK fight fans have been waiting for.

The entire main card for UFC 304 in Manchester is confirmed with two title fights announced and a big clash between two fan favourites.

In the main event at the Co-Op Live Arena on July 27, welterweight champion Leon Edwards will look to defend the belt on home soil for the second time.

He faces the consensus number one contender at 170-pounds in Belal Muhammad who met "Rocky" for the first time back in 2021 where the fight ended in a no contest due to an accidental eye poke in the second round.

This result aside, Muhammad has produced a nine-fight win streak to earn his shot at the belt as he looks to bring Edwards' incredible run to an end.

The co-main event features another title fight rematch after the fight encounter ended in disappointing fashion.

The only blemish on the UFC run of interim heavyweight champion Tom Aspinall is his fight with Curtis Blaydes in London which ended in just 15 seconds due to a knee injury for the Brit.

Now, he will fight in Manchester for the first time since his pro debut in a defence of the interim belt against Blaydes who has gone 1-1 since his previous encounter with Aspinall.

Also announced by the UFC boss for this card is the return of Paddy "The Baddy" Pimblett who will be taking on the #15-ranked lightweight contender in Bobby Green.

"King" Green called for this fight after his impressive showing against Jim Miller at UFC 300 and given their exciting styles and contrasting personalities, this is one that a lot of people have been hoping to see booked next.

The three new additions round out the PPV main card that is set to go down in the early hours of Sunday morning for the UK fans.

Also featuring on the main card are two other big fights for their respective divisions as ranked fighters in Arnold Allen and Giga Chikadze face off at featherweight whilst Muhammad Mokaev takes on Manel Kape at flyweight in what could be a title eliminator.

José Aldo Details UFC Return & Leans Towards Re-Signing With The Promotion

Fighters Only May 14, 2024

José Aldo may have fought out the last fight on his UFC contract but it appears that he is leaning towards re-signing with the promotion in the near future.

The "King of Rio" produced one of the most memorable and successful UFC returns in the history of the promotion several weeks ago at UFC 301.

The former featherweight great had announced his retirement from the sport following a loss to Merab Dvalishvili back at UFC 278 in August of 2022.

With one fight left on his UFC contract, he was given permission by the promotion to pursue boxing before he stepped back inside the Octagon and looked like he hadn't missed a single step.

A win over surging contender Jonathan Martinez puts him back into the top 10 rankings at bantamweight and it doesn't look like we have seen the last of Aldo just yet.

During his first ever appearance on The MMA Hour, Aldo (via translator Fabiano Buskei) spoke about how the ball started rolling towards him making a legendary return.

"The process had started even before the turn of the year. I spoke to some people, I speak to Dana, I said I wanted to come back. Age is not a problem, I feel young, I wanted to go back. The process started through thinking about Dominick Cruz but then ended up with Jonathan Martinez and it was just through coincidence that the comeback was in Rio."

In the build-up to the UFC's return to Brazil, it was unclear whether this was Aldo putting one final full stop on his MMA career by fighting out his contract and putting on one last show for his home fans or whether this was the beginning of a new chapter.

Aldo told Ariel Helwani that the plan was never to finish up his contract so that he could fight anywhere else, mentioning several times in the interview that he has the upmost respect for the UFC and what they have done for him, his career and his family.

"Leaving one fight on the contract was never meant to actually wind down that contract and finish that contract by having that fight. The idea was actually keeping a fight on the contract because I never had the desire to fight anywhere else. Fighting in the UFC was always my dream, that's it. Being in the UFC is what I always wanted to do and I never wanted to leave so I wanted to show some people what I got."

Commenting on his future, the 135-pound contender says that talks are already underway about what his next step will be.

The Brazilian icon appeared to be heavily leaning towards signing a new contract with the UFC after feeling like he still has more to offer at this stage in his career.

Aldo revealed that he had been offered the opportunity to box on the undercard of the Mike Tyson vs Jake Paul event but due to the admiration he has for the UFC, he would listen to them first before making any further decisions.

"It's not about the money anymore, there are a lot of things to be taken into consideration and it's more of what I can do and what I can accomplish. I think that in that fight, I was able to show a lot of things that I can do, that I'm an MMA fighter, that I'm a complete fighter. So now the conversation is what can we show in the future and the things that we can accomplish."

Riyhad Season & UFC Extend Partnership

Fighters Only May 08, 2024

Turki Alalshikh is continuing to make monumental moves in the combat sports world, extending the Riyhad Season partnership with the UFC. 

In recent years, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has became a power house for boxing, with the likes of Tyson Fury vs Francis Ngannou, Anthony Joshua vs Francis Ngannou and the upcoming unified Heavyweight title fight all heading the Kingdom. Fight fans have also seen MMA events head that way too, with the PFL vs Bellator CHAMPS card taking place at the Kingdom arena, and PFL’s Mena series set to start this weekend. 2024 see the UFC hold their first Fight Night in the Kingdom when Robert Whittaker takes on Khamzat Chimaev on June 22.

A press release released by Turki Alalshikh, read:

“Turki Alalshikh, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the General Entertainment Authority (GEA), has announced that Riyadh Season has extended their partnership with the UFC. 

“The agreement will see another UFC event brought to the Kingdom during Riyadh Season 2024-2025. In addition to the UFC event, Riyadh will also host a Power Slap event, the world’s premier slap fighting organization led by Dana White, for the first time. 

“In addition to these two events to be held in the Kingdom, Riyadh Season will also serve as sponsor for UFC 306 on Saturday, September 14, the first UFC event to be held at The Sphere in Las Vegas. 

“HE Turki Alalshikh said: “This agreement is a continuation of Riyadh Season’s aims to host and partner with prominent and international events of mass interest. It also enhances our efforts for Riyadh Season to produce diverse content in order to engage and attract an even wider audience with different interests from around the world. UFC is the most prominent Mixed Martial Arts organization in the world and their platform of global fans is unrivalled.”

As mentioned in the aforementioned press release, the new deal will also see PowerSlap head to the kingdom for the first time, having grown from strength to strength since its launch back in January 2023.

Speaking on the deal, UFC CEO Dana White said: 

“I'm excited about this deal. Obviously, you know, my goal from day one has been to bring this all over the world. We're going to do our first event in the kingdom this year. And then now we just signed to do another one next year. Plus, I'm bringing Power Slap this year and next year, too.” He continued.

“So we're going into a new market, which is what I love to do. I love to go into new markets. I love to break records. And I can tell you this right now, for the people that live in Saudi Arabia and they've never been to a live UFC event they’re in for a real treat, nobody walks out of one of our events and says, I don't ever want to see one of these again.”

Shogun Rua Inducted Into UFC 2024 Hall Of Fame

Fighters Only May 06, 2024

The Brazilian legend, that is Shogun Rua, has been inducted into the 2024 UFC Hall Of Fame.

The announcement came during the stacked UFC 301 card in Rio De Janeiro, of which Rua was in attendance.

The Brazilian legend played a monumental role in the sport from the early days, having made his professional debut in 2002, Rua joined PRIDE in 2003 and won the PRIDE Light Heavyweight Grand Prix before breaking his arm against Mark Coleman at Pride 31. He then racked up wins against Cyrille Diabate, Kevin Randleman, Kazuhiro Nakamura, and Alistair Overeem, before joining the UFC ranks.

Although his promotional debut didn't go to plan against Forrest Griffin at UFC 76, the Brazilian then racked up wins against Mark Coleman and Chuck Liddell before coming up short against Lyoto Machida at UFC 104.

In their rematch at UFC 113, Rua got the better of Machida, stopping him in the first round by way of strikes to claim the UFC Light Heavyweight championship.

He then dropped the belt to Jon Jones less than a year later when Jones finished him with strikes in the third round.

After a few years in which he struggled to find form, Rua appeared to get back to winning way when he racked up wins against Antonio Nogueira, Corey Anderson and Gian Villante before losing to Anthony Smith at UFC Fight Night 134.

He then went unbeaten in three with a draw against Paul Craig and two wins against Tyler Pedro and Antonio Rogerio.

The career ultimately ended on a three fight skid with losses to Craig, Ovince St Preux and Ihor Potieria.

Pantoja Defends As UFC 301 Delivers Several Big Wins

Fighters Only May 05, 2024

Alexandre Pantoja successfully defended his UFC Flyweight title with a unanimous decision win against Steve Erceg at UFC 301.

The card proved to be a largely successful night for the Brazilians in Rio, with all but three of the native athletes getting their hand raised.

In the main event, Alexander Pantoja continued his impressive winning run up with his victory against Erceg.

In what proved to be a largely back and forth contest, Pantohja claimed 48-47, 48-47, 49,46 on the scorecards, to continue his unbeaten streak.

In the co-main event, Jose Aldo rounded on his illustrious career with a unanimous decision win against Jonathan Martinez. After taking all three rounds comfortably, Aldo bowed out with a veteran style performance against the in form Martinez.

One of the biggest upsets of the night came when Anthony Smith handed Vitor Petrino his first professional loss when he locked in a guillotine choke just over midway through the first round of their Light Heavyweight contest. With Smith entering the contest having lost three of his last four, there was a lot of pressure on the former title challenger to deliver against the unbeaten Petrino but sure enough, Smith delivered the win and silenced the Rio crowd.

The ever exciting Michel Pereria racked up another win, in his 42nd professional bout against Ihor Potieria. The unique striking of Pereira was once again on display as with less than a minute left, and a backflip later, Pereira collected a first guillotine choke.

Caio Borralho earned yet another win in the UFC when he stopped Paul Craig in the second round of their Middleweight Contest, when a straight left rendered the Scotsman unconscious immediately.

The doctor called a stop the contest between Jack Shore and Joanderson Brito when the Welshman was called he could not continue due the damage he had sustained to his lead leg. Although initially looking broken, it transpired that Shore would have been able to continue, if the referee had not called a stop the bout.

Elsewhere on the card, there were also big wins for the likes of Drakkar Klose, Iasmin Lucindo and Maurico Ruffy.