The MMA world will feature elite action from Inglewood, California, and Las Vegas on Saturday night as Bellator and the UFC share the combat spotlight.
Patricio “Pitbull” Freire will take on A.J. McKee at The Forum in one of the biggest bouts in Bellator history. The fight is the finale of the promotion’s Featherweight World Grand Prix, and it features two stars who established themselves in Bellator, instead of being fighters who signed as free agents after stints in other promotions. The winner will win $1 million and be considered by some to be the best featherweight in the world, although UFC champ Alexander Volkanovski, among others, would argue that point.
What had been a respectful lead-up to the fight got heated Thursday during media activities as the fighters tried to get at each other.
The Fight Night at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas will be headlined by a pair of middleweights on four-fight win streaks, as UFC No. 8-ranked Uriah Hall takes on No. 11 Sean Strickland. The winner will be looking to climb in the rankings and potentially face a top-five opponent next.
Marc Raimondi will be on hand at the Forum to provide results and analysis, while Brett Okamoto will cover the events unfolding at the UFC Apex. Stats are supplied by ESPN Stats & Info.
Watch the UFC card on ESPN+.
Fights in progress:
— Daniel Cormier (@dc_mma) August 1, 2021
Round five: Dominance. Strickland has his way. Credit to Hall for hanging in and making it to the finish, but that was borderline hard to watch at the end. Hall fighting for his life, Strickland treating it like a light sparring session. Disappointing performance by Hall, and a potential breakout for Strickland.
Round four: Strickland is just bullying Hall around the Octagon. Jab continues to be there. Hall’s body language is not good. He’s showing a lot of heart, working out of bad positions when he’s in them, but he’s getting beat up, badly. Could make a case for another 10-8, but I’ll go 10-9 for Strickland. 39-35 Strickland.
Round three: Difficult, difficult round for Hall. He’s badly hurt in a close exchange and spends the final two minutes of the round in survival mode. His coaches encouraging him not to quit. 10-8 round for Strickland. 29-26 for Strickland overall.
Round two: Hall wakes up for the second round. Much better round for him, but he’s still having trouble with Strickland’s jab. Hall might have actually won the round, but the momentum seems to be with Strickland. 19-18 Strickland, through two.
Round one: Very slow start by Uriah Hall and Sean Strickland took full advantage. Absolutely picked him apart with the jab. Very composed, efficient first round by Strickland, and he does real damage. Debatable 10-9, 10-8 round for Strickland. I’ve got him up 10-8.
Key stat: Nurmagomedov is the 23-year-old cousin of UFC legend Khabib Nurmagomedov, who was in his cousin’s corner. Usman Nurmagomedov (13-0), a Dagestan native, was making his Bellator debut. Usman won with a knee to the liver in a clinch that folded Muro up. Khabib-coached fighters went 3-0 at Bellator 263. Russian-born fighters went 5-0. Muro (12-7), a 34-year-old fighting out of Oklahoma, had won three straight.
Key stat: Mamedov (20-1-1) is undefeated in his past 20 pro fights, a streak that dates to 2009. UFC legend Khabib Nurmagomedov was in the 31-year-old Dagestan native’s corner. Mamedov was making his Bellator debut. He was previously undefeated in World Series of Fighting and PFL. Primus (10-2), a 36-year-old Oregon native and former Bellator lightweight champion, had lost only one other time in his career, to former Bellator lightweight champion Michael Chandler, whom Primus also has a win over.
Damn this warrior princess girl got some heart. She out here talking about dying. Now that’s passion
— BONY (@JonnyBones) August 1, 2021
Key stat: Buys (6-2), who fights out of Las Vegas, rebounded from a loss in her UFC debut in March by landing a devastating head kick on de Paula (5-4) in the opening frame. Referee Mark Smith called the bout a TKO after Buys, who initially walked off following the kick, eventually followed the Brazilian to the ground and landed unanswered elbow strikes. It was the fourth-fastest finish in UFC strawweight history. Buys is now 5-1 in her past six.
Key stat: Yamauchi (26-5) has won seven of nine and remains one of the toughest outs in the Bellator lightweight division. The Japanese-born Brazil native crushed Gonzalez with a big right hand and then followed up with punches on the ground to win. Yamauchi, 28, has been in Bellator for eight years. Gonzalez (6-1), a 30-year-old prospect with elite wrestling technique fighting out of California’s Team Alpha Male, was 5-0 in Bellator coming in.
Jared Gooden knocks out Nik Stoltze with a sensational punch at UFC Fight Night.
Key stat: Gooden (18-6), aka “NiteTrain,” put Stolze to sleep with a vicious right hand on the feet. It is Gooden’s fourth career finish inside the first round. Stolze (12-5), of Germany, drops to 0-2 in the UFC. He had never been finished in a professional fight prior to Saturday. At 68 seconds, it’s the second-quickest KO/TKO at welterweight this year, behind Matthew Semelsberger‘s 16-second KO of Jason Witt.
Melsik Baghdasaryan just needs one kick to the head of Collin Anglin as he wins in his UFC debut.
Key stat: Baghdasaryan (6-1), of Armenia, finished the fight with a high left head kick. He earns a win — and a highlight — in his UFC debut, and he extends his win streak to six. He is undefeated since losing his professional debut in 2014. Anglin, who fights out of Michigan, sees a seven-fight win streak snapped.
Key stat: Porto (23-9) is the former Invicta FC women’s flyweight champion. The 37-year-old Brazilian has won five of six and is likely now a top contender for the Bellator women’s 125-pound belt. Joanne (9-6), a 27-year-old Brazilian, has dropped two straight following a three-fight winning streak.
— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) August 1, 2021
Key stat: Witt (19-7), of Kansas City, Missouri, survived a nightmarish third round to secure his second win in the UFC. As a +210 underdog at Caesars by William Hill, he became the sixth consecutive underdog of the night to avoid a loss. He also landed eight takedowns over the course of 15 minutes. Fighters to land at least eight takedowns in a UFC fight have a record of 103-10-1. Barberena (15-8), of California, has lost three of his past four.
@TeamKhabib is such a legend, his fighter just knocked a guy into convulsions and while the team was celebrating the win. Khabib went over to help the paramedics tend to the opponent. #Respect #Bellator263
— Corey ‘Overtime’ Anderson (@CoreyA_MMA) August 1, 2021
Key stat: Rabadanov (16-4-2) dropped Carey with a huge left hook and then finished on the ground. Carey was on the ground for some time after the finish and taken out on a stretcher for precautionary reasons. UFC legend Khabib Nurmagomedov, who was in Rabadanov’s corner, helped tend to Carey on the ground. Rabadanov, a PFL veteran, has just one loss in his past 10 fights. Carey (7-5) has dropped two in a row and three of four.
Key stat: Gruetzemacher (15-4), who fights out of American Top Team in Florida, picks up his second win in three fights and cashes as the biggest underdog on the card at +260. He was +420 to win by decision at Caesars by William Hill. Garcia (12-1), of Mexico, signed with the UFC this year as an undefeated fighter, but he is now 0-2 in two UFC appearances.
Key stat: Magomedsharipov, the 20-year-old, blue-chip prospect brother of UFC featherweight star Zabit, was making his United States and Bellator debut. He moves to 6-0. Magomedsharipov trains with his brother out of coach Mark Henry’s camp in New Jersey. Quiroz (3-5), a 34-year-old Mexico native fighting out of California, has lost two straight and four of five.
Key stat: Kamaka (8-4-1) would have won the bout were it not for a point deduction in the second round for an accidental low blow. It is the third draw in UFC competition in 2021. Chavez is now winless in his past two fights, while Kamaka is winless in his past three.
Key stat: Jones (11-5), a 31-year-old veteran of the Southern California regional scene, has won two straight. The 41-year-old Cisneros (13-8), a popular fighter in the area who got a big reaction from the crowd, has dropped two of three.
Key stat: Frey (11-6), a former Invicta FC champion, evens her UFC record to 2-2 and does so as a +140 underdog at Caesars William Hill. Yoder (8-8, 3-7 UFC) has now lost four of her past five, and her seven career losses as a UFC strawweight are tied for third most in the division’s history.
Key stat: Karakhanyan (31-11-1), a 36-year-old Russia native fighting out of California, has won two straight and three of his past four. The 31-year-old Crosbie (8-3), an Ireland native, has dropped two straight following a two-fight winning streak. Crosbie fights out of SBG Ireland, the home of Conor McGregor, and had McGregor coach John Kavanagh and Bellator star James Gallagher in his corner.
Key stat: Moore, a 33-year-old teammate of Conor McGregor at SBG Ireland, won his third straight Bellator bout. Winski, a 32-year-old fighting out of Dan Henderson’s gym in California, had a two-fight winning streak snapped in his Bellator debut.
Great game plan by Adashev because if he didn’t take that calf out I see Benoit getting a TKO. Adashev has some nice footwork. He mad Benoit chase him around and Benoit did it on a compromised leg. Great fight! #UFCVegas33
— Tatiana Suarez (@tatianaufc) July 31, 2021
Key stat: Adashev snaps a 2-fight losing streak. Adashev joins Makhmud Muradov as the only fighters representing Uzbekistan to win in the UFC. Benoit drops his third straight fight.
— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) July 31, 2021
Key stat: Rowe has finishes in all eight of his wins and has won eight of nine. Rowe cashes as a +145 underdog at Caesars by William Hill. He was +550 to win by KO/TKO/DQ.