Midnight Mania! What’s Next For Aaron Pico After KO Loss?

Welcome to Midnight Mania!

Aaron Pico entered the mixed martial arts (MMA) world with a ridiculous amount of momentum behind him. While in high school, Pico proved himself a world-class wrestler against elite competition. At the age of 19, Pico very nearly qualified for the US Olympic team, losing a close match up in the final.

Pico is a physical animal with great strength and a deep gas tank. Priming him even more for success was Pico’s background in boxing, which saw him win national championships at the junior level. In Pankration — a safer version of MMA for those underage — Pico won championships at the national level and in Europe.

So how the hell is Pico 4-3 in seven fights, with his two most recent losses coming via knockout?

Pico has tried to jump into the deep end of the talent pool since the beginning. Two years ago, he debuted against a foe with ten professional fights, quickly getting rocked and falling into a choke. A rough start to be sure, but Pico proved his grit by battling back to score four straight knockouts, all against opponents with far more experience than the prospect.

Thriving on momentum and physicality, Pico tried to brutalize Henry Corales (16-3). He scored big strikes early, but Corales endured and slept Pico with a massive overhand in a wild exchange. Pico tried to learn his lesson, switching camps to the patient strategists of the Jackson-Winkeljohn team and trying to wrestle more at Bellator 222. It worked early, but Adam Borics (13-0) stormed back to stop him in the second (seen in the tweet above).

Pico knocked out Leandro Higo before his pair of losses, and Higo had recently challenged for the Bantamweight title. He also dropped Corales early and could have finished him. It’s not a question of whether Pico can occasionally pick up wins against the upper end of Bellator’s Featherweight division — he can.

But that doesn’t mean he should.

What’s next for the 22-year-old? The immensely talented athlete that Bellator has invested a significant amount of time and money in? Hopefully, both the organization and Pico himself recognize that while the window of opportunity is short in combat sports, they need to view his career as a more long term situation.

Pico is still a point in his career where — despite all his physical gifts and credentials — he is making mistakes in the cage. That’s to be expected given his inexperience in professional MMA, but Bellator continues to match him with tough, aggressive opponents who can capitalize on such mistakes violently.

There’s no reason for this trend to continue, as it will send Pico to an early retirement.

Insomnia

This is basically a Colby Covington move.

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Who’s laughing now!? #TripleC

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Bellator’s double-champ Patricio Freire vs. Max Holloway is a dream match up for fans of MMA striking.

Six women are set to throw down in Uruguay on August 10th.

Another painful update to Cody Garbrandt’s back tattoo. The pistol is to be covered up next time, but at least Garbrandt was able to shoot Dominick Cruz with it first (GIF).

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Session #2 in the books with @westfalltattoo

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Khalil Rountree is back in Thailand, and my jealousy is immeasurable.

Michael Chandler’s workouts always focus on explosiveness and fast-twitch muscle, and you can certainly see the results in the cage.

“Groovy” vs. Doggo

Credit to the champ, Jon Jones’ comment on Valentina Shevchenko’s dancing post is funnier than anything I would’ve come up with: “This girl would literally shoot your d^ck off, remember that fellas ”

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Vamos a la playa ! ☀️

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Slips, Rips, and One Hero KO clips

Great combo! The spinning back fist (or back kick) can serve as a sneaky way to transition into Southpaw, where that left kick is always dangerous.

A pair of demonstrations from One Hero Series on the risk of throwing low kicks, which are the best weapon in the game only until something like this happens!

Let’s reinforce that lesson one more time. Lazy kicks are BAD!

Anytime the ring/cage is outside, expect copious amounts of nonsense.

Random Land

I admittedly spend a lot more time with trap bar than traditional deadlift, but that’s really semantics: I support this message.

A more interesting plot than the latest Jurassic Park.

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*Jurassic Park theme*

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Music from the making of Midnight Mania: Finishing off the 1950s in my aforementioned 1001 albums book, I found Marty Robbins’ concept album Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs very charming. The Grammy winning album dives headfirst into its Western theme, spinning tales of shootouts and hanging trees. From the album’s cover to its content, the whole thing is hilariously whole-hearted and sincere in its love of the American West.

Sleep well Maniacs! More martial arts madness is always on the way.

Midnight Mania! Petr Yan wants an interim title shot!

Welcome to Midnight Mania!

Petr Yan is not a man who wastes time. The 26-year-old Russian has picked up five UFC victories in less than a year on the roster, elevating himself from complete unknown to one of the top contenders in a very talent-rich division. From his work inside the cage to interviews outside it, Yan is a cool and efficient killer.

Perhaps that’s why “No Mercy” is calling for an interim title shot just five days after Henry Cejudo won the belt!

Now, I’m definitely a believer in Yan’s talent — he’s looked the part of elite Bantamweight since first stepping into the Octagon and has done nothing but win. His hypothetical match up is not a bad one, as Aljamain Sterling is currently the most deserving contender, and the timing of a double champ is uncertain. But even as a defender of interim title fights, this seems far too soon.

More realistically, Yan vs. Sterling would be an excellent title eliminator if Cejudo does defend his Flyweight crown next. Should Cejudo decide to handle Bantamweight business first, I’d rather see Sterling receive his title opportunity now, while Yan can face the winner of Raphael Assuncao vs. Cory Sandhagen. Think about those potential match ups: Assuncao is a crafty veteran and counter striker who could really punish Yan’s aggression, whereas Sandhagen is probably the closest athlete stylistically we have to TJ Dillashaw since the former champion was popped by USADA.

Bantamweight is a fantastic division, but it doesn’t need an interim belt just yet.

Insomnia

Apparently winning two titles and barely being touched by a trio of Heavyweights has given Bader an extra bit of confidence.

A great wrestling scramble from both men: Faber shoots a double, cuts the corner into back control, and re-drops into the shot to successfully land a takedown, but Cruz immediately sits out and hits a roll to destabilize his foe.

Middleweight is pretty rich with high-level jiu-jitsu guys.

The Rizin-Bellator co-promotion has really served to promote Kyoji Horiguchi as one of the best in the world. He would certainly be a legitimate challenger to either of Cejudo’s belts if that bout were ever possible.

Rafael dos Anjos will serve as a great test for Leon Edwards, who deserves the step up in competition.

I get the feeling Paul Felder wants back in the Octagon?

Chad Mendes is bulking up now that he doesn’t have to worry about that Featherweight nonsense.

Slips, Rips, and KO clips

Folayang is a pretty physical fighter with some tricky spin kicks, another tough test for Eddie Alvarez in One.

When slamming out of the triangle, it’s important to slam and posture immediately, otherwise you’re only throwing yourself deeper into the submission.

It’s a lot easier to stop the roll defense to the omoplate when the gi is available to grab.

Brutal knee to the liver!

Random Land

Gorgeous scene from somewhere.

This giant bird is metal.

Music from the making of Midnight Mania: show some love to the weird, dreamy single that introduced much of the world to Bjork just about 30 years ago.

Sleep well Maniacs! More martial arts madness is always on the way.

Midnight Mania! Fast Times at Khabib High?

Welcome to Midnight Mania!

Khabib Nurmagomedov represents Dagestan, and while some athletes might feel a burden to carry the weight of their country into competition, “The Eagle” always seems to do so proudly. He’s sported his famous papakha head-wear even since UFC allowed him to do so, and he’s usually quick to vouch for his team mates and fellow Dagestani athletes whenever possible.

All the same, that part of the world faces a variety of very difficult issues. Those stories are often brought to us by BloodyElbow’s Karim Zidan, the premier journalist on combat sports in Russia and the surrounding area. It’s Zidan who brought tonight’s headlining story from across the ocean, based on a Russian Teacher’s Newspaper interview with Khabib’s father, Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov.

For once, this one seems strictly positive, as the Nurmagomedov patriarch says that Russian President Vladimir Putin has set aside several million dollars for a new school in Dagestan after his son went to Putin with concerns regarding Dagestani education. Oh, and it’s be named for Khabib himself!

Per the interview, the Nurmagomedov family — certainly better off than most given Khabib’s new contract — has already been helping with local issues. Here’s a quote from Abdulmanap courtesy of Google Translate:

“As always, I go to the gym every morning to go to the school playground in my native village, and five, ten, sometimes fifteen people are waiting for me, asking me to help them. Someone to buy a house, someone needs money for a wedding, someone to help pay off a loan, assist in the treatment of a child, send to competitions and so on. Every morning. It’s very hard. We have a charity program – we patronize children’s homes, build a kindergarten, a gymnasium, laid about three kilometers of roads in the village, and now bought equipment to build roads in the mountains.”

As of late, it seems easy to paint Khabib Nurmagomedov as an absolute villain for consorting with known madmen, but there certainly seems to be a softer side to the Dagestani athlete as well. I cannot imagine the balancing act of living in such a dangerous place while being an extremely famous public figure.

Insomnia

Roughly 2,000 miles directly east of Nurmagomedov’s homeland is Kyrgyzstan, where Valentina Shevchenko is also receiving praise from leadership.

MMAmania’s own Andrew Coyne will be fighting in San Francisco on Saturday night, and I’ll be in his corner. Send “Bulldog” some love on social media or come watch him work if you’re in the Bay Area!

This seems like a terrible match up for Leben, as Cochrane is not a dozen years past his prime.

At this point, everyone who reads this column should know I’m a fan of Mike Perry, and those who also read my fight previews know that I’m a believer in his talent too… But Vicente Luque — a vicious sniper of a counter puncher — is one of the worst match ups imaginable for the “Platinum” one. I’d watch it though!

Danis didn’t even wait to actually win a single to copy his Irish training partner yet again.

Tyson Fury looking slick as ever on pads.

Slips, Rips, and KO clips

This Saenchai post could really be the entire section of clips.

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Punch K.O.

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That floor looks pretty damn hard…

A spinning backfist with no load up or tell is dangerous stuff, particularly when hidden by feints.

Random Land

MORE BIG CATS.

A perfect joke.

Presenting a home gym master at work:

Music from the making of Midnight Mania: Deafheaven’s 2015 LP New Bermuda sees the band continue to mix black metal with shoegaze and other softer sounds while remaining thoroughly dark and moody. Purists argue it “hipster metal,” but I like the blend just fine. Also, the album cover is damn pretty in person.

Sleep well Maniacs! More martial arts madness is always on the way.

Midnight Mania! Retired KSW kingpin Mamed Khalidov arrested in Poland by anti-terrorism police

Mamed Khalidov takes on Rodney Wallace on May 12, 2012 at KSW 19 in Lodz, Poland.

Welcome to Midnight Mania!

For dedicated fans — particularly those in Europe — Mamed Khalidov was a major “what-if.” For eight years, Khalidov dominated the field in KSW, winning both the Light Heavyweight and Middleweight crowns in that time. Naturally, UFC expressed interest in signing “Cannibal,” but the promotion was unwilling to match the substantial pay that KSW was offering for a fighter relatively unknown to the American audience.

In short, we never quite found out how high Khalidov’s peak was, as the Chechen-born athlete retired at the age of 38 after consecutive losses last year. That was probably supposed to be the end of Khalidov’s story in the public eye, bar some coaching or the occasional interview.

Instead, a report from TVP.info was released today, implicating Khalidov in the illegal importation of luxury cars. According to the report, Khalidov was arrested by the Anti-Terrorist Operations Office, as Khalidov was allegedly responsibly for forging the paperwork regarding the origins of the cars, which included “such vehicles as Porsche Panamera, Range Rover Evoque, BMW M6, BMW 7 Series.”

While these accusations are still fresh, combat sports and organized crime have a fairly long history. Most notably in the mixed martial arts (MMA) world, Lee Murray was a UFC veteran, foe of Anderson Silva, and — according to legend — knocked Tito Ortiz out cold in a street fight. He also took part in the largest bank robbery in United Kingdom history, for which Murray is currently serving a lengthy prison sentence.

Insomnia

Everyone made fun of the dorky guy in the white glasses, but his recent success is undeniable.

Kowalkiewicz seemed really uninspired in her performances against both Michelle Waterson and Alexa Grasso, and it sounds like the Polish striker may be considering retirement soon.

For those wondering why the new owners didn’t keep Mike Goldberg around…

Dana White must be thrilled.

This series of Twitter questions continues to entertain.

I wanted to use this cool highlight clip from 1984 as an excuse to talk up the most recent addition to the Team Alpha Male coaching staff, the legendary Lee Kemp. Kemp won gold at the World Championships in Freestyle Wrestling three times between 1978-1982, but his Olympic dreams went unfulfilled when America boycotted the 1980 Olympics. At any rate, Coach Kemp is one of the most interesting and motivating people I’ve ever spoken with. At 62 years of age, the man is still on the mat everyday and feels like wrestling a piece of iron.

Slips, Rips, and KO clips

No-gi baseball chokes are incredibly rare, the type of move that really shouldn’t work given the position.

Here’s an important reminder ahead of next week’s main event that 1) “The Korean Zombie” can flurry like few others and 2) the man has been fighting professional for more than 11 years!

A hand trap and pivot proved the perfect tools for securing the angle to land this devastating high kick.

Random Land

I play the same game with my (slightly) smaller cats using a simple piece of rainbow colored fabric.

Teach ‘em young.

Music from the making of Midnight Mania: continuing through the ‘50s in my must-listen-to-albums book, the records tend to shift between being more influential/”important” vs. simply great listens. This one sits comfortably in both categories.

Sleep well Maniacs! More martial arts madness is always on the way.

Midnight Mania! Sonnen alleges WWE tried to pay him off!

Welcome to Midnight Mania!

Chael Sonnen talks. His gift of gab has proven effective, elevating a grinding wrestler from relative obscurity to superstardom. For a time at least, Sonnen also walked the walk, defeating top contenders around the years of 2009-2012 to earn a pair of title shots against Anderson Silva, one of which required a miraculous, Hail Mary submission from “The Spider” to avoid defeat.

The truth is a grey area for Sonnen, who is certainly not above exaggeration or deception to sell his name. Still, his recent interview with Ariel Helwani on ESPN contained Sonnen’s most shocking claims in years. Allegedly, Sonnen received a call from an unnamed World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) rep. Said representative supposedly offered Sonnen handsome pay to “stick it up Dana White’s ass” by either no-showing his UFC 148 title rematch with Silva or winning the title and bringing it on WWE Raw the following Monday.

How much was Sonnen offered to forsake his shot at gold, piss off his boss, and anger the general mixed martial arts (MMA) world as a whole? Sonnen claims the price offered was seven figures, a million dollars to no-show the Silva bout or five million to win and bring the belt on Raw.

Now again, this is Chael Sonnen, so take this news with several grains of salt. In the same interview, Sonnen says he never gave either offer a moment of consideration. For the million dollar offer of no-showing Silva, I would believe that: Sonnen likely made close to that amount or more in his second title bid opposite the Brazilian. Plus, prior to Sonnen’s promotional shtick of being the funny troll, his whole persona was based on winning a world title to uphold a promise to his dying father. It’s hard for me to see a world-class, dedicated athlete abandoning his dream without significant reason.

The second offer? That seems far more beneficial had Sonnen won the belt. Five million dollars just to show off his belt at a WWE event with the only consequence being an angry boss? Not only is that worth consideration, it’s an easy decision! Al Iaquinta has taken every opportunity to piss White off for years now, and no one paid him five million to do it.

Again, this is all probably nonsense, conveniently timed because Sonnen is fighting Lyoto Machida on Friday at Bellator 222.

Insomnia

Over the weekend at UFC 238, Donald Cerrone became the latest member of Tony Ferguson’s collage of pain.

I have a feeling this will go down as a pretty iconic knockout, both in Shevchenko’s career and in the history of Women’s MMA.

One last post from the aftermath of UFC 238; Moraes’ early dominance was pretty incredible, only matched by Cejudo’s ability to absolutely take control given the smallest opportunity to shift momentum.

The average non-professional fighter — celebrity or otherwise — can withstand approximately one low kick for Justin Gaethje.

Anyone going to tune in? I’d favor Masvidal, as Pettis’ jiu-jitsu really seems to be really specialized for MMA (which obviously isn’t a bad thing for a pro fighter).

“Touch” Fili looking sharp ahead of UFC Sacramento. The exchange of talent and knowledge between Team Alpha Male and CSA has proven very beneficial for each team.

Little badass!

Slips, Rips, and KO clips

A good reminder to fight until the referee says otherwise.

Be honest, you definitely have two full minutes to check out these highlights of slick upward elbows.

Another fun edit of a brutal knockout, courtesy of a funky left hand from “GGG.”

Has Hong Man Choi been on the positive side of a knockout in the last ten years?

Random Land

One of the coolest plays possible.

This is basically a John Lineker fight.

The speed with which nature can reclaim lost territory is pretty fascinating.

Music from the making of Midnight Mania: The Band’s Stage Fright is roots rock as American as apple pie, except that it was made by a bunch of Canadians.

Sleep well Maniacs! More martial arts madness is always on the way.

UFC 238: What Happened Last Night?!?!?!?!

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) made its presence known to Chicago, Illinois last night (Sat., June 8, 2019) for UFC 238. For my money, it was one of the most talent-rich events of the year, featuring highly ranked athletes and relevant match ups down to the opening fight of the night. In addition, two title fights headlining the card is usually a pretty solid sign of quality.

Let’s take a look at the best techniques and performances of the night!

Double Champ Cejudo

For roughly eight minutes, Moraes battered Cejudo. The Brazilian looked incredibly calm and well-trained, setting the tone early with a brutal lock kick. Before long, Moraes was calmly punting Cejudo’s leg around the cage, leaving Cejudo stranded along the outside. Every so often, Moraes would fire high with a quick head kick, always threatening the knockout.

There was a moment in the latter half of the second round where everything changed. Cejudo charged forward with a right hand, crashed into the double-collar tie, and landed some big knees. After that exchange, Moraes seemed stunned and dead-tired, as though all the weight of the world was suddenly upon his shoulders.

The minute rest between rounds did not help the Brazilian. Cejudo continued to apply the pressure, and with Moraes stumbling around, it was no surprise when a takedown landed moments later. From top position, Cejudo landed hard shots on the Brazilian, who clung to half-guard like it was a life raft. Just as the round came to a close, Cejudo was able to posture up and tee off on his broken foe, forcing a stoppage (watch highlights).

It was brilliant work from Cejudo. Not only is the Olympian a world-class athlete, incredibly skilled wrestler, and pretty slick puncher, but the man can fight when it comes down to it. His back was to the wall after the start of this fight, but Cejudo battled back and made it a scrap largely through grit.

Shevchenko the Surgeon

Valentina Shevchenko is, bar none, the most efficient fighter on the roster.

I’ve wrote admiringly in the past about how there is no wasted movement in Shevchenko’s approach. How she does not move unless it is absolutely necessary. How Shevchenko lands at a great clip while very rarely getting hit herself … even at 135 pounds. Last night was a clinic — Eye landed just a single significant strike in her title bid.

It was simple work for “Bullet.” Opposite her right-handed foe, Shevchenko slammed her left round kick into the mid-section of Eye repeatedly in the first minute. When Eye desperately swung forward with a punch, Shevchenko calmly changed levels, took her down, and nearly finished at the end of the round with an Americana.

Shevchenko opened the second round with a couple cracking body kicks, which very clearly hurt. Who could blame Eye for her lowered hands when the high kick sailed into her temple moments later?

The Strange King Retains

Tony Ferguson and Donald Cerrone brought everything to the cage last night.

The first round was five minutes of intense competition. Ferguson danced around the cage, utterly loose. He struck at Cerrone with quick, rangy punches, connecting quite a bit with his left hand from both stances. Repeatedly, Ferguson would mix in spinning elbows, seemingly exposing his back to Cerrone with nary a care in the world. Cerrone, alternatively, was more tense, looking to stick Ferguson with his own jab. On occasion, “Cowboy” would flurry forward with combinations, and the veteran did open a cut on Ferguson’s brow.

“El Cucuy,” as he often does, pulled away in the second round. His left hand connected more and more often, and suddenly the spinning elbows were scoring as well. In addition, Ferguson won the kicking battle. His left kick/knee from Southpaw crashed into the jaw and mid-section repeatedly, and it was Ferguson who was landing low kicks. Cerrone’s kicks never seemed to connect with their full impact, glancing off the bony elbows of his foe.

Immediately after the bell rang to end the second round, Ferguson did land an illegal punch, though I don’t think it was quite as flagrant as the commentary team implied. Regardless, it had little impact on the final result, as Cerrone blew his nose and saw his eye immediately and completely shut tight (watch highlights).

The bout was waived off, and Ferguson secured his 12th straight victory in impressive fashion. Whether or not it helps get Ferguson closer to the title is impossible to say, but Ferguson extended his historic run.

Additional Thoughts

  • Aljamain Sterling defeats Pedro Munhoz via unanimous decision: In the best bout of the “Prelims” undercard, Sterling announced himself as the next title contender. Without scoring a single takedown, Sterling punished Munhoz with dozens of straight shots, tricky elbows, and a never ending stream of kicks. Sterling’s comfort in the pocket has improved dramatically within the last year alone. He was put in difficult positions by his aggressive foe, but Sterling stuck to the game plan and really picked apart Munhoz, who put forth an admirable effort in defeat.
  • Alexa Grasso defeats Karolina Kowalkiewicz via unanimous decision: Grasso’s speed and boxing were far too much for Kowalkiewicz, whose head seldom moved except for the many moments when Grasso’s cross crashed into her chin. After a slow start to her UFC career, this was the moment when Grasso lived up to expectations. At just 25 years old, there’s still plenty of time for Grasso to keep climbing the ladder and apply her boxing skills to the to best in the world.
  • Calvin Kattar defeats Ricardo Lamas via first-round knockout (watch highlights): Lamas’ movement and low kicks perplexed Kattar for roughly 60 seconds before Kattar seemed to have a complete understanding of Lamas’ movement and timing. At that point, Kattar’s boxing shined. Lamas was still hanging back, so Kattar feinted the jab often and dug into the body, finding the easiest target first. It all came to an early end when Kattar feinted a jab and fired a hook-cross combination high. Both punches connected to the jaw perfectly, sending Lamas to the mat in a heap.
  • Eddie Wineland defeats Grigory Pipov via second-round knockout (watch highlights): This was both an amazing slugfest and great performance from Wineland. The veteran came out aggressive, stinging Pipov was a half-dozen right hands in the opening minute. Pipov, however, showed serious composure to hang in there and come back a bit, digging some hard kicks and stunning Wineland with a cross of his own to start the second. Overall, Wineland’s footwork and head movement saw him connecting with punches at a far superior rate. In addition, Wineland did a great job of mixing up his delivery of the cross, which was on display when Wineland switched the angle one last time to deliver a brutal right hook and end the fight.

For complete UFC 238: “Cejudo vs. Moraes” results and play-by-play, click HERE!

UFC 238, The Morning After: Can Anyone Stand Up To ‘Bullet?’

In her last four fights, Shevchenko has faced two of the greatest female fighters of all time. Opposite Amanda Nunes — the defending double champ of the two weight classes above “Bullet” — Shevchenko lost a split-decision by a margin so small it might as well have been a draw.

Afterward, she dropped down to face women of a more similar stature to her own, which resulted in a title opportunity against Joanna Jedrzejczyk, the former Strawweight queen who defended her title five times. Against the most skilled challenger available, Shevchenko was never forced out of second gear, cruising her way to a decision victory via snappy counters and clinch takedowns.

Those two fights were not the most entertaining, but there were at least competitive. The other two fights of her recent four were clinical, professional savagery. The first look we saw of Shevchenko opposite a woman her size who was not a decorated champion came against Priscila Cachoeira. Shevchenko smashed her with counters, landed savage elbows on the mat, and thoroughly brutalized the Brazilian before finishing with a submission in the second round.

It was fairly easy to write off the dominance of that win — Cachoeira was a lamb brought to slaughter in her UFC debut, and she’s winless since. Yet last night Shevchenko faced the middle ground with little change in result. Eye was not a decorated champion like Nunes or Jedrzejczyk, but she was no rookie either. A nine year pro, Eye had faced many of the best Bantamweight’s on the roster, never being finished. At her own more natural weight class of Flyweight, Eye won three straight and rightfully earned her title shot.

The result was no different. Shevchenko slammed her foe with hard body kicks from the first bell before landing a pair of effortless takedowns. She was in complete control from top position, nearly finishing an Americana in the final 10 seconds of the round. Shevchenko opened the second with those same crushing body kicks, only to go high with the kick and send Eye deep into unconsciousness.

So what’s next for Shevchenko and the women’s Flyweight division? Most likely, it’s Katlyn Chookagian, who was victorious on the undercard of last night’s event. I am a fan of “Blond Fighter.” She understands how she wants to fight, is part of a great team, and her ability to sit down on her strikes opposite Joanne Calderwood was a significant improvement.

Is she ready for Shevchenko though? She’ll need a miracle.

After Chookagian, what’s next? I suppose Liz Carmouche will probably earn a second shot at UFC gold, or perhaps pioneer Roxanne Modafferi will find herself in a title fight. Either way, it seems likely that we’ll be looking to Strawweights and Bantamweights to shift divisions and give it a shot, which is a bad sign.

Shevchenko is set to rule for a long time with few credible challengers. If UFC wants to keep the division interesting and prevent stagnation, it would be best to outbid Bellator for any Flyweight prospects or even try to sign over champion Ilima-Lei Macfarlane.