Just nine days out from the next UFC card, the full lineup of fights at the Apex Facility in Las Vegas is starting to take shape.
A few days ago, the event didn't even have an official location. However, Adam Hill of the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported Wednesday UFC President Dana White has said the card "is a go" in its desired location.
At the time, the only bouts on the card were the main event between former welterweight champion Tyron Woodley and Gilbert Burns.
Now, it appears that more fights are being targeted for the short-notice event.
Mike Heck of MMA Fighting has reported the promotion is targeting a flyweight matchup between Tim Elliott and promotional newcomer Brandon Royval, a lightweight tilt between Brok Weaver and Roosevelt Roberts, and a bantamweight fight between Louis Smolka and Casey Kenney.
Combined with the main event and four other fights that were previously scheduled, the card could look like this:
- Tyron Woodley vs. Gilbert Burns
- Tim Elliott vs. Brandon Royval
- Brok Weaver vs. Roosevelt Roberts
- Louis Smolka vs. Casey Kenney
- Mackenzie Dern vs. Hannah Cifers
- Blagoy Ivanov vs. Augusto Sakai
- Klidson Abreu vs. Jamahal Hill
However, more fights could be on the way. Heck also reported the organization was working on up to six fights and it should be expected to see a "close to full slate" on Saturday night. That could mean an additional 4-5 more fights are added before the event goes off next weekend.
While much of the news surrounding the UFC right now is on scheduling there is still some aftermath from last week's action and a brewing rivalry that could be gold for fans.
Anthony Smith Defends Referee Jason Herzog
MMA officiating was a hot-button issue after UFC 249 because of Keith Peterson's decision to end Dominick Cruz's fight against Henry Cejudo too early in the eyes of the challenger. It was again the topic of discussion after Jason Herzog allowed Anthony Smith every possible opportunity to rally against Glover Teixeira as he took an increasingly bad beat down.
Smith was outstruck in the third round 43-1 and the next two rounds weren't any more competitive. At 55-12, Smith took a ton of damage while offering little hope that he could come back and win the fight.
However, Lionheart has defended Herzog.
"I'm good with it. That's the way that I wanted it to pan out," Smith said, per Damon Martin of MMA Fighting. "I know that people online are going crazy right now, and I think that's for a couple different reasons. I have some theories on why it bothers people so much, but I put myself in that position on purpose by having the rule where my corners aren't allowed to stop the fight and by making sure that I know the referee's commands and what it's going to sound like before he stops the fight and what I need to do, by what I told the doctor. Everything worked perfect."
Smith's preference to battle it out no matter what is why he has a reputation as a tough, durable fighter. Whether that's good for the sport is still up for debate, but it's clear Smith holds no personal grudges against Herzog for the late stoppage.
Jones and Ngannou Continue to Publicly Campaign for Fight
The Twitter beef between light heavyweight champion Jon Jones and all-around terrifying human being Francis Ngannou continues to rage and escalate quicker than one would expect.
What started off as fairly innocuous speculation about moving up to heavyweight from Jones soon became an actual callout and the back-and-forth was on.
Fans shouldn't be too quick to rejoice in a potential megafight yet, though. Almost as quickly as Jones was to call out Ngannou, he turned to the UFC and its negotiations for the fight. According to Jones, the UFC was not willing to pay him more to move up to heavyweight:
Jones suggested he may be taking an extended leave of absence in the wake of the negotiations:
This could be seen in one of many ways. Jones has long teased a move up to the heavyweight division, but it has never come to fruition, so it would make sense he wants to be compensated accordingly. Publicly claiming the UFC hasn't offered enough money to make such a jump could be a negotiation tactic.
Jones is coming off the closest fight in a career that has been marked by domination. Dominick Reyes took the champion to a decision in a competitive five-round bout.
While a rematch with Reyes would be another potential fight to make, a move to heavyweight is one of the biggest things the UFC could do. With Francis Ngannou's recent knockout of Jairzinho Rozenstruik, this would be an opportunity for the UFC to strike while the iron is hot.
Regardless of whether Jones' tirade is a bargaining move, the chances of a fight don't look great but things can change pretty quickly.