MMA buzz: Derrick Lewis entertains with KO and postfight antics

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As the year rolls forward, news and rumors will commence with updates on potential matchmaking, promotion news and fight locations across UFC, PFL, Bellator and more. As such, we’ll have it all covered right here, with analysis and insight from our reporters and writers.

Check out our latest updates now and refresh often for the latest as the year unfolds.

Key links: MMA schedule | P4P rankings


May 11: Lewis entertains UFC Fight Night crowd with KO and postfight antics

Andreas Hale: Even though he is 39, Derrick Lewis kept telling anybody who would listen that he was in his physical prime as a fighter. And at UFC Fight Night on Saturday, he proved it by showcasing his much-improved wrestling against Rodrigo Nascimento, while still earning his UFC leading 15th win by knockout or TKO.

But as much as things change, many still stay the same as Lewis added to his legend of post-fight antics by removing his fight shorts to fan his fallen opponent with them. However, he wasn’t finished as he tossed his gloves and his protective cup into the crowd. He still wasn’t done as the St. Louis crowd cheered him on and pulled down his underwear to share his bare backside to the jovial crowd.

“I appreciate St. Louis for letting me show my naked ass tonight,” Lewis said.

But that knockout wasn’t good enough for a Performance of the Night bonus as the UFC opted to go in a different direction.

Carlos Ulberg took home a Performance of the Night bonus for his 12-second head kick knockout of Alonzo Menifield while Diego Ferreira’s stunning third-round stoppage of heavy favorite Mateusz R?becki also earned a bonus.

Trey Waters’ entertaining decision victory over Billy Ray Goff earned the Fight of the Night as the two slugged it out for the full 15 minutes, with Waters squeezing out the decision. Fortunately, Goff won’t go home empty-handed with a bonus.

The UFC’s return to St. Louis also garnered the highest-grossing United States UFC Fight Night of all time with a $2,470,197 gate and an attendance of 15,960. During the post-fight press conference, UFC president Dana White mentioned that he’s open to exiting The Apex in Las Vegas for more fight cards in cities. With a gate like the one received on Saturday night, it’s clear to see why.


April 30: DC and Chael debate Topuria, Holloway, featherweight, BMF titles

ESPN Staff: What’s next for UFC featherweight champion Ilia Topuria is anyone’s guess.

Daniel Cormier and Chael Sonnen debated on The Good Guy/Bad Guy Podcast the upcoming future of the 145-pound division, coming off the heels of Max Holloway’s emphatic BMF title win over Justin Gaethje at UFC 300. Holloway, one of the greatest featherweights in MMA history, is keen on getting the UFC belt back. However, in an interview with Holloway and Joe Rogan earlier this week, Rogan claimed that Topuria seemed uninterested in giving “Blessed” the next shot and was considering facing Brian Ortega instead. Sonnen even insisted that Topuria could consider giving Sean O’Malley a title shot next.

“I don’t understand what Ilia Topuria is doing,” Cormier said. “When you’re telling Max you won’t fight him, Ortega, you won’t fight him, you’re not fighting Volkanovski in a rematch. You’re turning down all these guys, who would he fight in his division if he doesn’t want to fight any of these guys?”

Sonnen believes that the bigger issue is that the BMF title is clouding the division’s future.

“Dana White and the UFC has a problem, and they need to address it,” Sonnen said. “It is the BMF belt, and it’s caught fire in a way they did not expect, and we’ve got to get some parameters around it.

“I want Max to say, ‘You know what, Ilia? I’m gonna come down to 145. You said if I don’t put my belt up you’re going to fight Brian Ortega. I’m gonna come to ’45 and I’m gonna offer that same belt to Brian Ortega.’ Make Brian Ortega publicly chose, does he want the featherweight title or the BMF? I think the BMF is a lot bigger than the UFC is aware and I’m not sure if Ortega doesn’t go after the BMF instead.”


April 27: Perez among four fighters to earn $50K for KO wins at UFC Fight Night

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Alex Perez needs just one punch to flatten Matheus Nicolau

Alex Perez stops Matheus Nicolau with a huge hook to win in Round 2 of the main event of UFC Fight Night.

Hale: Alex Perez’s brutal one-punch knockout of Matheus Nicolau earned him an extra $50,000 at UFC Fight Night on Saturday night. The battle of flyweights ended in stunning fashion when Perez — who accepted the fight on three weeks’ notice after Manel Kape pulled out due to a rib injury — ended Nicolau in violent fashion with a right hand in the second round. Perez (25-8 MMA, 7-4 UFC) ended a three-fight skid with the knockout and earned his third UFC Performance of the Night bonus.

Three other Performance of the Night bonuses were handed out and earned courtesy of knockouts. Bogdan Guskov’s second-round finish of Ryan Spann in the co-main event, heavyweight Jhonata Diniz cashed in on his UFC debut with a second-round knockout of his own against Austen Lane and Uros Medic’s wicked uppercut TKO of Tim Means in the first round all saw the fighters add an extra $50,000 to their bank accounts.

What was thought to be a surprising omission was David Onama’s decision victory over Jonathan Pearce, which was a tightly contested bout. Although the thrilling slugfest to close the fight appeared to be a frontrunner for Fight of the Night, Onama missed weight by 2.5 pounds and was disqualified from earning a bonus.


April 24: Suarez hoping for title shot at The Sphere

Brett Okamoto: Undefeated UFC strawweight Tatiana Suarez is hoping to have some clarity on her next fight in the coming days. If she has it her way, it will be a title fight against Zhang Weili on Mexican Independence Day weekend at The Sphere in Las Vegas.

Suarez (10-0) hasn’t fought since August due to injury, but is still the UFC’s No. 1-ranked strawweight contender. Zhang (25-3) has acknowledged Suarez as a potential title challenger in the past, although she didn’t mention her by name after her recent title defense against Yan Xiaonan at UFC 300.

“I honestly am shocked [she didn’t say my name], because I saw her almost every single day [during her camp in Las Vegas],” Suarez told ESPN. “And I’m not saying anything bad, I just thought I would have been in her mind because I did see her so often and I’m the No. 1-ranked strawweight.”

Suarez, 33, would bring something potentially new to a UFC championship fight, in that she would likely be the most dominant grappler Zhang has ever fought. Suarez has wrestled since the age of 3, and once aspired to represent the U.S. in the Olympics, before she was diagnosed with cancer in 2012. She is now cancer-free.

Suarez and Zhang have been (and likely will continue to be) very friendly towards one another, but that hasn’t stopped Suarez from predicting her grappling advantage will be the difference when they eventually meet.

“I think I submit her, 100 percent,” Suarez said. “It will go to the ground at some point, Whether it’s she wants to make down or I take her down … I’m OK with anything in terms of [how it gets to the ground]. And I just think I’m better than her, at submissions — I have an array of submissions. I don’t just have a rear-naked choke. I can catch a lot of people in a lot of different things that they probably haven’t even seen.”


April 24: Manchester locked in for location of UFC 304

Hale: In an early morning post on X, the UFC announced its return to the United Kingdom for UFC 304 on July 27. It has long been rumored that the MMA promotion would head back to Manchester this Summer for a pay-per-view. The last time the UFC was in Manchester was for UFC 204 when Michael Bisping defended his middleweight championship against Dan Henderson in the main event held at the Manchester Arena in 2016. Aside from UFC 204, there have been three other occasions when the UFC was in Manchester with UFC Fight Night: Machida vs. Munoz in 2013, UFC 105: Couture vs. Vera in 2009 and UFC 70 in 2007 when Gabriel Gonzaga infamously knocked out Mirko Cro Cop with a head kick.

It is expected that one — if not both — of the UFC’s British champions could be featured on the card. UFC welterweight champion Leon Edwards last fought in December, when he turned back the challenge of former interim titleholder Colby Covington at UFC 296. The obvious matchup would find Birmingham’s Edwards defending his title in his home country against the UFC’s No. 2 ranked contender, Belal Muhammad, who has been patiently waiting for his name to be called after defeating Gilbert Burns in May 2023. Edwards and Muhammad have history as the two met in 2021, but the fight was ruled a No Contest after an accidental eye poke delivered to Muhammad rendered him unable to continue.

The UFC could also feature interim heavyweight champion Tom Aspinall, who is coming off a stunning first-round knockout of Sergei Pavlovich to claim the gold at UFC 295 in November. Although Aspinall has been targeting a unification bout with heavyweight champion Jon Jones, Jones appears focused on facing former champion Stipe Miocic for his return to the Octagon after tearing a pectoral muscle.

That leaves a potential showdown with the UFC’s No. 5 ranked heavyweight, Curtis Blaydes. The two also have history, as Aspinall suffered his last loss in the Octagon to Blaydes when the British fighter went down with a knee injury just 15 seconds into the fight. Blaydes is coming off of a second-round knockout victory over Jailton Almeida in March.

If the UFC feels ambitious, they could grant light heavyweight champion Alex Pereira his request to bump up to heavyweight to challenge Aspinall for interim gold. Pereira expressed his interest in climbing up to a third weight class following his blistering first-round knockout of Jamahal Hill at UFC 300. Although UFC President Dana White didn’t appear to be too keen on having Pereira move to heavyweight, it certainly wouldn’t be out of the question to see it take place on this card.


April 23: Cormier says McGregor-Chandler should be for 165-pound title

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Leon Edwards retains title with dominant win over Colby Covington

Leon Edwards defeats Colby Covington to retain the UFC welterweight title at UFC 296.

Hale: Conor McGregor and Michael Chandler are finally set to meet in the Octagon at UFC 303 on June 29. While the fight is massive on its own, Daniel Cormier believes something should be added to take it to another level.

And that something is introducing a new championship in a new weight class.

“I believe that if they’re going to do a 165-pound division, it should have a name attached to the weight class that is so big that it draws people’s attention,” Cormier said on Good Guy/Bad Guy opposite Chael Sonnen. “Conor McGregor being that name. Michael Chandler, on the other hand, will benefit from being in the right place at the right time, where these guys would then fight for the super lightweight championship of the world, because that’s what I believe it is. Because it’s only 10 pounds heavier than 155, so let’s call it the super lightweight division. Move 170 to 175, move 185 to 195, keep 205, [keep] heavyweight.”

The idea of introducing another weight class between 155 pounds and 170 pounds has been a talking point amongst fans, fighters and pundits for years. Plenty of fighters have complained about the 15-pound jump between lightweight and welterweight, which has left many fighters too small for welterweight but too large for lightweight. The 155-pound division has long had abundant talent and could benefit from adding a new division.

Sonnen disagrees entirely with the idea of introducing a new division.

“There is no need for a 165-pound title, for one,” Sonnen said. “Part two, the commission does not sanction 165-pound fights. Part three, the UFC does not contest a 165-pound division. Part four, these guys [McGregor and Chandler] combined are coming off of more losses than I have had in my entire career.”

McGregor and Chandler coached opposite of each other on The Ultimate Fighter 31 in early 2023 and have been penciled in for a fight since then. However, a litany of false starts over the past year put the future of the showdown in question. The fight finally came together and was announced following UFC 300.

McGregor is 1-3 in his last four fights over the past five years. He broke his leg against Dustin Poirier in July 2021 and has not competed since then. Chandler is also 2-4 in his UFC career but has been far more active than McGregor over the past half-decade. He, too, is coming off of a loss to Poirier in November 2022 and hasn’t fought while awaiting a fight date for his blockbuster showdown with McGregor.

Dana White has long opposed introducing a new division, and it would be hard to justify a championship fight between two fighters with a combined record of 2-6 in their eight fights.


April 22: Ji?í Procházka…the middleweight?

Hale: Ji?í Procházka already has plans to change weight classes.

The former UFC light heavyweight champion has thrust himself back into the title picture with a knockout victory over Alexander Rakic at UFC 300. Before long, Procházka could find himself in a rematch with the man who defeated him for the title, Alex Pereira. However, should he be able to reclaim the championship he lost by knockout last November, Prochazka, 31, is eyeballing to move down to middleweight to pursue the gold as a 185-pound fighter.

The revelation came from Procházka’s official YouTube channel, where he was asked about the possibility of moving to heavyweight.

“Rather than heavyweight, I thought I’d try middleweight because of the way I feel my metabolism now and the way my body works in preparation,” Procházka said. “So, I know that if I adjust my diet to where I really feel great and clean, I know I could handle the middleweight with some lighter diet.”

Procházka also revealed that he has signed a new deal with the UFC, so he will have plenty of time to adjust to a new weight class.

“It’s an eight-fight, forty-month contract, I think,” Procházka said.

But Procházka did want to clarify that none of this matters if he cannot regain the 205-pound title.

“I would definitely concentrate on that after winning the light heavyweight title,” he said. “But this is all future stuff. I’m just focusing on what I need to do right now.”

Standing at six-feet-four-inches, Procházka is far from a small light heavyweight. But it’s not shocking that a fighter with such a unique persona as Prochazka would attempt a downshift in divisions. Given the current landscape at middleweight, with the title changing hands in four consecutive championship fights since November 2022, it’s likely that Procházka would immediately factor into the title picture upon his arrival.

With an 80-inch reach to go along with his tall frame, he would have a significant height and reach advantage over everyone not named Israel Adesanya. Also, the upper crust of the division features fighters who all focus heavily on striking, and Procházka would fit right in with that current crop of competitors. That is, until Khamzat Chimaev enters the fray should he defeat former champion Robert Whittaker on June 22.


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