MMA Odds and Ends for Thursday: Rumble and Bader Set For January

rumble-johnsonFight announcements were the order of the day on Wednesday, as the UFC filled some of their January cards with four separate bouts. The biggest of the four will serve as the headliner for UFC on Fox 18, set to take place on January 30th. That spot is now occupied by Anthony ‘Rumble’ Johnson and Ryan Bader, in what should determine the next light heavyweight title challenger for the eventual rematch between Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier. ‘Rumble’ had been requesting the fight, and as so often is the case with UFC matchmaking, the fighter got exactly what they asked for. Johnson has won 10 of 11 since his exile from the UFC back in 2012 and subsequent return, and was ever so close to beating Cormier for the light heavyweight belt himself. Perhaps the scariest striker in all of MMA, ‘Rumble’ has the type of power where it doesn’t matter where he hits opponents or how cleanly, they ended up dropping. If he connects against Bader, the results are unlikely to be any different. Outside of former (re: actual) light heavyweight champion Jon Jones, Ryan Bader holds the best win streak in the division. Now sitting at five straight, he most recently bested former champion Rashad Evans across five rounds only to be denied a title shot thanks to the return of Jones from suspension. The former TUF winner has made improvements to every facet of his game, and is perhaps the most deserving fighter in the UFC right now who hasn’t received a title shot. Also added to UFC on Fox 18 is a welterweight battle between Jake Ellenberger and Tarec Saffiedine. Ellenberger has been in a free-fall of late, dropping 4 of his past 5. At times, he’s looked as if he doesn’t want to be in the cage, and he’s struggled to pull the trigger. Saffiedine, on the other hand, has been woefully inactive. With only 3 fights since the beginning of 2013, I actually had to look him up to make sure I spelled his name correctly since I haven’t thought about him in so long. Two weeks prior to UFC on Fox 18, one of the biggest Fight Night events the UFC has ever put on will take place in Boston. The headliner for that card will be TJ Dillashaw and Dominick Cruz in a massive bantamweight title bout, but the organization is filling out the rest of the card. Boston’s own Charles Rosa was added last night in a bout with Jimy Hettes. With the grappling style of both men, this could turn into a very entertaining, scramble-laden affair. Finally, UFC 195 saw Justine Kish and Nina Ansaroff added in a strawweight bout. Kish has not officially competed since January of 2014, as her stint on TUF was cut short by a knee injury. Ansaroff will be facing a long layoff as well, as her five-fight win streak was snapped in her November 2014 UFC debut, and she has not had a fight since. And in the daily dose of Bellator weirdness, lightweight champion Will Brooks and featherweight champion Patricio Freire (and his brother Patricky) were involved in an altercation at the Bellator fighter’s hotel that forced the police to be called to the scene. The details are still uncertain, but… That’s So Bellator.

Written by Brad Taschuk

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