Sunday, November 13, 2022

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UFC burning questions — Is this really the end for Nate Diaz? Is Sean O’Malley close to gold?

After two title fights stole the present in Dallas final weekend at UFC 277 to finish the month of July, the promotion will flip the web page, beginning with a stacked schedule in August, which can function two UFC Combat Nights earlier than UFC 278 on Aug. 20.

With a busy month forward, our writers look at the TUF Season 30 finals, attention-grabbing fights taking place this month, and the upcoming high contender elimination struggle between Petr Yan and Sean O’Malley. Plus, what does Nate Diaz do after his bout with Khamzat Chimaev?

Brett Okamoto, Marc Raimondi and Jeff Wagenheim reply these UFC questions and extra forward of UFC Combat Evening: Thiago Santos vs. Jamahal Hill on Saturday (9 p.m. E.T. on ESPN and ESPN+).

After Usman-Edwards at UFC 278, which struggle in August intrigues you most?



Marlon Moraes and Merab Dvalishvili showcase their unimaginable stamina in Spherical 1 of their UFC 266 bout.

Wagenheim: Sorry to be Captain Apparent by pointing to the co-main occasion, however Jose Aldo vs. Merab Dvalishvili fascinates me as a gathering on the crossroads between a legendary former champion and a surging contender. Aldo has rejuvenated his profession with a three-fight successful streak, however will he nonetheless be on high of his recreation at 36? Particularly, will his famously stingy takedown protection maintain up in opposition to the relentless Dvalishvili, who has had 11-, 12- and 13-takedown nights within the UFC? If Aldo can preserve the struggle standing, Dvalishvili can be out of his aspect, together with his seven-fight successful streak on the road.

Okamoto: I am gonna go along with Paulo Costa vs. Luke Rockhold at UFC 278. Marlon Vera vs. Dominick Cruz is a detailed, shut second — and really, I believe that can be a extra entertaining struggle to observe, however Costa vs. Rockhold has my curiosity. Costa is a whole thriller at this level. He has all of the bodily instruments to be a serious participant at this weight (or mild heavyweight) for a very long time, however the place is his mindset at?

The entire scenario final 12 months with Marvin Vettori and lacking weight was weird. Now, he is coping with inactivity. The date of this struggle was pushed again. Rockhold needed it quite a bit earlier than August. I do not know what we’ll get, and that is irritating as a result of Costa can struggle. And Rockhold, he sounds as fired up and as devoted as he is ever been. There are lots of query marks round this one.

Raimondi: Aldo vs. Dvalishvili. Not solely will the winner be one of many high contenders within the bantamweight division — the perfect weight class within the sport — however the stylistic matchup is past fascinating. Dvalishvili is likely one of the most relentless wrestlers in MMA historical past, a takedown machine. Aldo, in the meantime, has spent his legendary profession avoiding takedowns masterfully and maintaining issues on the toes, the place he’s superior to only about everybody else. One thing should give right here, and it is unimaginable to foretell precisely how it will go. Aldo represents by far the hardest take a look at of Dvalishvili’s profession.

Who of the 4 TUF finalists has the best ceiling?



Staff Peña heavyweight fighter Zac Pauga explains his mindset heading into his semifinal matchup in opposition to teammate Jordan Heiderman.

Okamoto: Zac Pauga. This can be a complete homer decide by me, full disclosure. Pauga and I share an alma mater in Colorado State College. However, it is also simply the right reply. The one factor working in opposition to Pauga is time. He is already 34, which is not precisely a younger age to interrupt into the UFC. However, the whole lot else is working for him. He is an A-plus athlete. Any time you are speaking a few former NFL participant, that is cause sufficient to take a more in-depth look. He is at an incredible camp in Elevation Combat Staff in Denver, working with one other nice heavyweight in Curtis Blaydes. I am unable to consider a greater scenario for Pauga to develop right into a respectable contender. He is additionally in a division that’s at all times huge open. It does not take that lengthy to make a splash at heavyweight when you can string collectively a few good outcomes.

Wagenheim: I am not a TUF man. I favor the Contender Sequence as a gauge of the place UFC hopefuls stand as a result of they’re ready for his or her tryout by their common coaches, not by energetic fighters who use the truth present to pump up curiosity in their very own conflict. So, after I watched the Season 30 semifinals to reply this query, these have been the primary TUF fights for me in at the very least ten seasons. And, I did not precisely come away because the president of anyone’s fan membership.

Mohammed Usman has the title worth to get himself observed, however that hasn’t been a lot of a boon for Antonina Shevchenko, the sister of UFC ladies’s flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko. And actually, I disagreed with the cut up choice that went Usman’s manner in his semifinal struggle in opposition to Eduardo Perez. I used to be most impressed by Usman’s finals opponent, Zac Pauga, who might make some noise if he drops again all the way down to his standard division, mild heavyweight.

Raimondi: How cool wouldn’t it be to see The Usman Brothers within the UFC? The elder Usman, the pound-for-pound king within the sport, has often been in his youthful brother’s nook for matches and will add an attention-grabbing dynamic to the game. Usman, a former collegiate defensive finish at Arizona with a wrestling background from his highschool days in Texas, has the potential to develop within the sport. Plus, having mentors like UFC Corridor of Famer Rashad Evans and the present welterweight champ helps.

Over/beneath: Nate Diaz will struggle 1.5 extra fights in his UFC profession.

Wagenheim: I will go along with the beneath. Diaz marches to the beat of his personal drum, which is likely one of the many issues that endear him to followers. He has lengthy been a person who desires out of the UFC to money in with a boxing match in opposition to a YouTuber or launch a hashish model or one thing. And the UFC positive appears prepared (lastly) to say goodbye to Diaz, reserving him in opposition to one of the vital daunting names on the roster.

If he derails the Khamzat Chimaev hype prepare on his manner out the door, would not it’s essentially the most Diaz factor ever?

Raimondi: I will take the beneath. After his struggle with Chimaev at UFC 279 on Sept. 10, Diaz will nearly definitely stroll. What he does subsequent is not as sure.

Diaz will definitely have a boxing match with Jake Paul on the desk, and hey, possibly now that Paul is just not combating Hasim Rahman Jr. on Saturday it will increase the possibilities of Diaz vs. Paul much more. If Paul misplaced to Rahman, a possible bout with Diaz would have misplaced a little bit of its luster. Now, the sector is huge open, relying on what occurs with Diaz in opposition to Chimaev.

Okamoto: Underneath. If he have been to signal a brand new contract with the UFC, he would have executed it over the past a number of months. There have been lots of negotiations, and I might say the UFC was aggressive of their pursuit to re-sign him. That they had a plan for Diaz if he selected to remain round, and so they introduced him with it. Supposedly, they needed to place collectively a bundle that might have benefited everybody, and on the finish of the day, Diaz nonetheless selected to struggle out his present deal.

Now, can either side reconvene after September and are available to a brand new deal? In fact, it is attainable. However I do not see what would change between every now and then to steer Diaz to signal when he already had an opportunity. I believe it is fairly clear Diaz has different plans outdoors of the UFC for his speedy future.

One of the best prospect to struggle in August is ________________.



Terrance McKinney wins his second UFC struggle in simply 2:11 as he submits Fares Ziam.

Raimondi: Some individuals may need gotten off the Terrance McKinney bandwagon after he misplaced to Drew Dober in March. I’m assuredly not a type of individuals. McKinney harm Dober in that struggle and practically completed him. And Dober is rattling good. Have a look at his end of Rafael Alves at UFC 277 final Saturday evening. The man is a stud.

McKinney is 2-1 within the UFC with two first-round finishes, together with a seven-second knockout over Matt Frevola. He is nonetheless solely 27 years outdated and getting higher. One factor he has that can’t be taught is confidence. He went toe to toe with Dober, who has big energy in his palms, and he did not hesitate. Perhaps that would get him in bother at instances, nevertheless it’s additionally one thing he can harness as he good points extra expertise.

Okamoto: Terrance McKinney. His loss to Dober does not imply he is not an incredible prospect. Dober is hard as nails, and admittedly, I used to be slightly shocked the UFC made that struggle in McKinney’s third look.

McKinney has bodily instruments that soar off the display. He already does not have many holes in his recreation, and he is a type of guys I count on to see actual enhancements in each time he fights. Along with his bodily presents, dimension and mentality, I count on lots of enchancment from him within the subsequent few years. Examine again in three when he needs to be hitting his peak at 30 years outdated, and I believe we’ll have one thing right here.

Wagenheim: Jamahal Hill, one-half of subsequent Saturday’s foremost occasion, is within the high 10 of the UFC’s mild heavyweight rankings, so possibly he is elevated himself above “prospect” standing. His reserving on the high of the cardboard helps the notion that the UFC views Hill as a contender. However, there is a lengthy highway from No. 10 to the belt, so I will spotlight the truth that he constructed his 10-1 file on the energy of first-round knockouts of fellow prospects Johnny Walker and Jimmy Crute in addition to a KO of veteran Ovince Saint Preux. If Hill can deal with former title challenger Thiago Santos, he’ll supercharge his ascent.

If Sean O’Malley beats Petr Yan, will he have executed sufficient to earn a title shot?

Wagenheim: Completely and emphatically. And it is about time. From the second O’Malley burst on the scene in 2017, he has been beneath a shinier highlight than his matchups have warranted. That is largely a byproduct of his blustery mouth, his radiant hairdo, and his edge-of-the-seat combating fashion. However, whereas O’Malley has talked an enormous recreation, he has but to legitimize his high-octane hype with a high-level win. A victory over Yan, a former champion who’s the No. 1 contender within the UFC males’s bantamweight division, could be the “Suga Sean” eye opener we have all been ready for.

Okamoto: Completely. Yan is as legit as they arrive at 135 kilos. He is ranked solely behind the champion, who some felt he beat of their rematch earlier this 12 months. At the start of the 12 months, I had Yan ranked contained in the High 5 pound-for-pound fighters on this planet.

It is a quick monitor for O’Malley. You may definitely make the argument that even when he does beat Yan, he was in a position to speed up by the division a lot sooner than most — due to the chance that is been given to him. However, he earned that by making individuals care about his fights and delivering when wanted. I am personally not shocked the UFC put this struggle collectively, and sure, I consider O’Malley’s subsequent struggle can be for a championship if he beats Yan.

Raimondi: The highest of the bantamweight division is fairly darn crowded. TJ Dillashaw, the previous champion, is subsequent to problem champion Aljamain Sterling. One must think about if Aldo beats Dvalishvili, he’d be subsequent in line. However actually, the reply to this query is totally.

O’Malley already has an enormous following amongst followers and if he have been to beat Yan, that help ought to solely go up tenfold. If O’Malley wins this struggle at UFC 280 in October, the sky is the restrict for him when it comes to stardom. We would not be speaking about Conor McGregor-level but, however it could be the closest factor the UFC has needed to that in years. So, certainly O’Malley would have executed sufficient simply when it comes to marketability alone to get the title shot with a Yan victory.

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