Welcome to this week’s edition of “All Five Rounds”, where we take a look at some of the most recent headlines and the fighters who made them in the world of mixed martial arts.
It’s been an extremely busy summer in MMA, filled with plenty of action in both the UFC and Bellator. With the warm summer months now behind us, the upcoming schedule for the end of this year and the start of 2014 is beginning to take shape.
Clearly, we’ve been spoiled this year, especially since late June when the UFC began a relentless schedule that included many of the promotion’s top talent battling it out in the octagon.
While duplicating the past few months will be next to impossible, MMA has once again shown why it’s one of the world’s fastest growing sports, continuing to deliver the matchups that fight fans want the most.
Jones Defends Belt, Has Next Challenge
In an exciting, five-round war this past Saturday night in Toronto, UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones defended his belt for the sixth straight time, defeating top-ranked contender Alexander Gustafsson by unanimous decision.
Since first taking the 205 pound title from Mauricio “Shogun” Rua in March of 2011, Jones (19-1-0) has been on a tear, defeating many of the UFC’s most dangerous fighters while dominating the light heavyweight division.
While there were some who felt that Gustafsson had done enough to earn an immediate rematch with Jones, the champion was once again able to remain on his feet for the duration, something that the Rochester, NY native has become known for during his brief career.
UFC President Dana White wasted no time in choosing Jones’ next opponent, announcing Wednesday that the hard-hitting Glover Teixeira will be the next to challenge for the 205 pound title.
In his last appearance, Teixeira (22-2-0) quickly disposed of Ryan Bader with a first-round knockout earlier this month. Now a perfect 5-0 in the UFC, Teixeira has been a favorite to face Jones since earlier in the year, and is one of the few remaining legitimate contenders at 205 who has yet to face the current champion.
As of now, it has been reported that the bout is likely to take place on February 1, 2014 in Newark, New Jersey.
Bisping Forced Out Of Meeting With Munoz
Veteran UFC middleweight Michael Bisping has been forced to withdraw from his upcoming matchup against Mark Munoz due to injury, opening the door to an intriguing bout between Munoz and Lyoto Machida. Scheduled for October 26th in Bisping’s hometown of Manchester, the injury has cost the talented middleweight an opportunity to fight in front of his countrymen, all the more disappointing considering that he has always been England’s most popular mixed martial artist.
Always an elusive target, Machida recently decided to leave the light heavyweight division in favor of a drop in weight to 185 pounds. Having no actual experience as a middleweight in the UFC isn’t likely to matter, fighters such as Dan Henderson, Chael Sonnen, and of course Anderson Silva, have all experimented with the idea of competing at both 185 and 205 pounds simultaneously in the past.
Currently unranked as a middleweight, Machida holds the fifth spot in the light heavyweight rankings, and last saw action on August 3rd when he lost a controversial, three-round unanimous decision to Phil Davis that many feel the Brazilian should have won.
Defeating Tim Boetsh courtesy of a three-round, unanimous decision during his last trip into the octagon, Munoz has continued on his path towards an eventual title shot, and is widely considered to be one of the promotion’s top middleweight contenders.
Listed as the fifth-ranked contender at 185 pounds, Munoz faced current UFC Middleweight Champion Chris Weidman in July of 2012, resulting in a second-round knockout loss. As of now, Munoz has won four of his past five outings.
Barao Wins Again
In the co–main event at UFC 165 in Toronto last weekend, Renan Barao defended his UFC interim bantamweight title in convincing fashion, defeating challenger Eddie Wineland with a vicious kick that led to a referee stoppage just seconds later.
Now undefeated since 2005, Barao has been at the top of his game for quite a while, and seems to have realized that without a win over current bantamweight champ Dominick Cruz, a glaring omission may remain on his resume.
Sidelined for nearly two full years, Cruz has been reported to be working towards a return in early 2014, despite what the skeptics have said about his chances for a successful comeback. More importantly however, Dana White and the rest of the powers within the UFC have clearly begun to grow impatient with the situation, and have even doubted the likelihood of a return to the promotion on any level.
As it stands now, Barao will once again be forced to wait it out in order to see if the Cruz comeback becomes a reality. If the current champ does in fact return in early 2014, Barao has recently expressed interest in the bout being held in his native Brazil.