Travis Lizotte "Full Contact Writer"
Following the conclusion of last Friday nights Premier FC 32 it's hard not to notice a bit of a lull in the region; aside from a rumored all Amateur card December 11th for Premier FC, the last six weeks of 2021 are essentially free of local MMA events. While it gives some of us a good opportunity to catch our breathes after a very active Autumn here in New England, it also allows some of us to focus our attention on our region's fighters competing at the highest of level of the sport and representing New England MMA in the UFC. And as luck would have it, while we await the return of Regional MMA (Reality Fighting (January 8th, 2022) CES MMA, Cage Titans FC and NEF all have cards announced for the first two weeks of February 2022) our region's fighters will be very active on the sport's biggest stage!
Right out of the gate, this Saturday, from the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada one half of Tyson Chartier's New England Cartel, Boston's #4 Ranked Bantamweight Contender in the World; Rob Font (19-4) gets his chance to represent the region at UFC Fight Night. Winner of his last four fights inside the UFC's Octagon, including a Unanimous Decision victory in his first ever five round main event slot last time out against former Bantamweight World Champion Cody Garbrandt (12-4), New England's Font has himself right in title contention at 135. Font draws himself yet another former Champion Saturday night; Jose Aldo (30-7), one of the greatest Featherweights of all time, in a Bantamweight Main Event showdown at December 4th's UFC Fight Night: Font vs. Aldo.
An absolutely dynamic striker, Rio de Janeiro's Aldo went on one of the greatest winning streaks of all time when he ripped off 18 straight wins between 2006 and 2015. During his reign at Featherweight "Junior" Aldo captured and defended both the WEC and UFC Featherweight titles while staking his claim atop the 145 pound division for nearly a decade. Now a 35 year old 135 pounder, Aldo looks to make one last push for UFC gold when he meets high paced Boston Boxing Bantamweight; Rob Font this Saturday night on ESPN and ESPN+. Font will be looking to secure his first taste of UFC gold with what would be the biggest win of his career Saturday night, as he hopes a dominant performance over one of the best to ever do it will put him in line for the next shot at the UFC Bantamweight belt...as soon as Current Champion "Aljo" Sterling (20-3) and Interim Champion Petr Yan (16-2) solve their differences inside the Octagon.
New England fans planning to watch Rob Font take part in the Main Event Saturday night better show up early, because this card is stacked with fighters that have New England MMA ties. Getting New England MMA on the board early Saturday night will be Hartford, Connecticut and Thornton MMA's own William "Knightmare" Knight (10-2). Fresh off a first round knockout of fellow New Englander Fabio Cherant (7-3) at the UFC's Apex this August, Knight finds himself back in the swing of things Saturday night when he meets heavy-handed Texan; Alonzo Menifield (11-2) in a preliminary bout at Light-Heavyweight.
Also on the card are a pair of former CES Welterweight World Champions look to improve their UFC records to 2-0 Saturday, as Las Vegas' Chris "The Action Man" Curtis (27-8 (defeated Jason Norwood in April of 2018 at CES 49 to claim the vacant CES Welterweight World Title) makes the quick turnaround following his first round knockout of Phil Hawes (11-3) at UFC 268 earlier this November, when he meets Sanford MMA's Brendan "All In" Allen (17-4) in a Middleweight bout, featured on this Saturday's Main Card.
The other former CES Welterweight World Champion competing Saturday night at the UFC apex is Philadelphia, PA's Jeremiah Wells (9-2-1. Wells defeated Jason Norwood in August of 2018 at CES 52 to claim the vacant CES Welterweight World Title, as he made an instant impression on the New England faithful. He made good on his short notice call to the UFC in June when he used a mean right hook to stop Warlley Alves (14-5) in the second round by TKO. Wells gets the full camp this time out when he locks horns with Melbourne, Australia's Jake Matthews (17-5) in what will undoubtedly be the toughest test of Wells' career. These two Welterweights meet on Saturday's preliminary portion of UFC Fight Night: Font vs. Aldo, rounding out an exciting lineup of former New England MMA favorites gracing the Octagon this Saturday from the desert.
Just one week later the UFC moves across town to the T-Mobile Arena for UFC 269: Oliveira vs. Poirier, where once again the New England faithful will notice a very recognizable name on the UFC 269 fight card. Taunton, Massachusetts' Randy "The Zohan" Costa (6-2) enters the UFC Octagon for the fifth time in search of his third promotional victory against Shreveport, Louisiana's Tony "PrimeTime" Kelley (7-2). Costa has continued to show improvement each time he enters the cage, now fighting out of Sanford MMA in Deerfield, Florida and always displaying a willingness to "Send It", Costa has quickly become one of the most exciting Bantamweight prospects in the sport, carrying the legacy of his late friend Devin Carrier with him the entire way!
It's back to the UFC Apex the following Saturday as former CES MMA Heavyweight and 10 year veteran of the Philadelphia Police Department; Chris Daukaus (12-3, #8 Ranked Heavyweight (Defeated Joshua Marsh by second round Knockout at CES 52) draws the headliner for the first time in his UFC career, when he squares off with former Heavyweight title challenger; Derrick "The Black Beast" Lewis (25-8, #4 Ranked Heavyweight). Daukaus makes a bid for his fifth straight victory to begin his UFC career on December 18th against Texas' "Black Beast" in what should be an absolute slugfest between two knockout artists!
The main event isn't the only fight that has our attention at UFC Fight Night: Lewis vs. Daukaus, as former CES MMA World Bantamweight Champion Andre Ewell (17-8, who defeated Dinis Paiva by submission at CES 50 to capture the CES Bantamweight World Title, parlays his victory over Dinis Paiva into a spot on the UFC's Roster. Ewell could very well be fighting for that very spot December 18th, when he looks to snap his current two fight losing skid, as the former Bantamweight makes the move up to 145 pounds to battle Canada's Charles "Air" Jourdain (11-4-1) in a Featherweight preliminary bout.
2022 greets New England MMA fans with yet another New England fighter in a Main Event, when the other half of Chartier's New England Cartel, Calvin "The Boston Finisher" Kattar (22-5 (#5 Ranked Featherweight Contender) returns after a 364 day absence following his Decision loss to former Featherweight Champion Max Holloway (23-6). January 15th, with a location and venue still to be determined, Kattar looks to bounce right back into Featherweight Title contention when he meets #8 Ranked Featherweight, Kings MMA's Giga Chikadze (14-2). Winner of his last 9 straight overall, 7-0 in the UFC and on a streak of three straight knockouts. Georgian Kickboxer Giga Chikadze has quickly become someone to keep your eye on in the UFC's Featherweight division. Kattar looks to keep Chikadze firmly in his rear-view, and at the end of his signature jab, Saturday January 15th at UFC Fight Night: Kattar vs. Chikadze in the five round Featherweight Main Event.
Also appearing on the undercard at UFC Fight Night: Kattar vs. Chikadze, is another former CES MMA Bantamweight, New York native, Brian "Boom" Kelleher (23-12. Kelliher defeated Andre Soukhamthath by Decision at CES 28 back in 2015, and he'll make his thirteenth walk to the UFC's Octagon in search of his eighth promotional victory when he throwsdown with 26 year old Uzbekistan native, Siadyokub Kakhramonov (9-2, 1-0 UFC) on January 15th.
The very next weekend at UFC 270 at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California heavyweight monsters Francis N'Gannou (16-3, UFC Heavyweight Champion) and Cyril Gane (10-0, Interim UFC Heavyweight Champion) have a date for the undisputed UFC Heavyweight Title. But we refuse to overlook yet another New England MMA connection here in Anaheim, as former Cage Titans FC competitor, Jasmine Jasudavicius (6-1, Unanimous Decision over Kylie O'Hearn at Cage Titans: Combat Night 2) makes her highly anticipated UFC debut. The 32 year old Canadian has looked virtually unstoppable during her climb up the regional Women's Flyweight ladder, testing her skills against the absolute best regional opponents promoters could find, seasoning her for an eventual UFC debut. That shot finally comes January 22nd, 2022 against Fullerton, California Submission Specialist, Kay Hansen (7-4), on the undercard of one of the more highly anticipated UFC Heavyweight fights of all time at UFC 270: N'Gannou vs. Gane.
UFC 271, which is scheduled for Saturday February 12th, 2022, will carry us right back into the thick of things here regionally in New England (CES MMA February 4th, Cage Titans FC February 5th and NEF celebrates their 10-year Anniversary February 12th in Portland, Maine). And true to fashion UFC 271 will tote with it some New England intrigue of its own, as Wrentham, Massachusetts' Fabio "Water Buffalo" Cherant (7-3) enters the Octagon for the third time, looking for his first win, against fellow Light-Heavyweight and former King in the Ring Kickboxing Champion, Carlos Ulberg (3-1). Ulberg, who like his New England MMA foe, will also be seeking his first UFC victory at UFC 271. UFC 271 is rumored to be headlined by a UFC Middleweight Title rematch between current UFC Middleweight Champion, Israel "The Last Stylebender" Adesanya (21-1) and Challenger; "Bobby Knuckles" Robert Whittaker (23-5).
So buckle up New England MMA fans...we should have plenty to be thankful for this Holiday Season as our New England MMA fighters, whether born and raised New Englanders...or adopted into the New England MMA fraternity, have a busy Winter ahead inside the UFC's Octagon. Many of the region's most notable martial artists will be offered their reprieve from the harsh New England weather this winter, as they represent our region at the pinnacle of the sport...many in the Las Vegas heat, with the UFC!