This is your weekly round-up on all things happening in the world of MMA.
- Stipe Miocic will defend his title at UFC 226 on the July 7 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas and in the opposite corner will be Daniel Cormier. Both are fresh off wins at UFC 220 in Boston and have both been confirmed as the coaches for the upcoming season and 27th edition of the Ultimate Fighter. Cormier has set a date for his retirement, announcing he will not fight in the Octagon past March 20 next year, the day he turns 40. Miocic recently confirmed his status as the most successful heavyweight in UFC history and a win over Cormier will only add to his legacy. Cormier’s training partner Cain Velasquez will be keeping a keen eye on proceedings, as he sets his sights on his return to action.
- We haven’t seen him since 2016, when he lost the rematch to Conor McGregor, but according to his recent post on Instagram, Nate Diaz could be ready to return in May or June this year. According to sources the post is legitimate and it will be a welcome return to a lightweight division that is picking up momentum with the confirmation that Tony Ferguson and Khabib Nurmagomedov will meet in April. There were some cynics, led by former champion Eddie Alvarez, but the return of Diaz will be big news for the UFC, who will have eyes on making a third fight between Diaz and McGregor.
- Bellator’s Heavyweight Grand Prix kicked off last week with Chael Sonnen getting past Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and Sonnen will know his semi-final opponent on April 28 when Fedor Emelianenko and Frank Mir will headline Bellator 196 at the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Illinois. The pair are considered two of the heavyweight division’s all-time greats, but have fallen on hard times in recent years, so the tournament represents one last shot at glory for both.
- Lorenz Larkin picked up his first win in Bellator, at the third attempt, getting past Fernando Gonzalez convincingly on points in Temecula, California. “The Monsoon”, who made a high profile switch to the organisation from the UFC last year, slipped to defeat at the hands of both Douglas Lima and Paul Daley, who he called out for a rematch, and will be glad to stop the rot and get back in the win column.
- As well as announcing Miocic and Cormier as the coaches for the upcoming TUF season, the UFC also confirmed the tagline for the series will be “Undefeated”. All 16 fighters on the show, split across the lightweight and featherweight divisions, are undefeated and will represent countries such as Italy, Ireland, Costa Rica, Australia and Spain to add to the international flavour. The finale to the series will be the night before their coaches clash on July 7, also at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
- Fights that have been confirmed this week include a venue for last week’s announced battle between Justin Gaethje and Dustin Poirier. The pair will meet at the Gila River Arena in Glendale, Arizona with fan favourite’s Carlos Condit and Matt Brown meeting in the chief support. Top women’s strawweight contenders, Karolina Kowalkiewicz and Felice Herrig will meet on April 7 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn at UFC 223, whilst in Bellator, Michael Chandler gets his rematch with lightweight champion Brent Primus on April 13th in St Charles, Missouri. Chandler suffered a sprained foot to hand Primus a first round win last June and he will get his shot at redemption in April.
- Rampage has kept himself in the limelight, after his loss to Sonnen last week, as he went face-to-face with one of his greatest rivals Rashad Evans in a nightclub last week. The two had one of the most entertaining rivalries between coaches back on the 10th instalment of The Ultimate Fighter and clearly something still lingers between the pair, staged or not. Jackson could well be done in MMA, whilst rumours are persisting that Evans could well be in the opposite corner to Michael Bisping in London on March 17. The two previously met back at UFC 78 with Evans picking up the win, however he has lost his last four and hasn’t won since 2013.
- Finally, boxing legend and sure-fire Hall of Famer Roy Jones Jr will fight for the final time on February 8 in his hometown of Pensacola, Florida against Scott Sigmon, with the fight being aired on the UFC Fight Pass platform. It will be the first time that Fight Pass has ever shown live boxing. Jones, who is fighting for the 75th time to end a legendary career which saw him claim six world titles in four divisions, told the media through a press release about his friendship with UFC President Dana White and the pair have spoken about their joy of working together as Jones Jr bows out of in-ring action.