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Shevchenko breaks out with upset of Holm

Shevchenko vs. Holm
For the first time in her professional fighting career, former bantamweight champion Holly Holm fought somebody with better striking credentials as her, and it led to her second-straight loss as nine-time Muay Thai World Champion Valentina Shevchenko broke into the elite group of the women’s bantamweight division with a unanimous 49-46 decision victory.

Holm was able to out-muscled Shevchenko in the first round, flipping her takedown attempts around and pushing her up against the cage to land some shots. But from then on, Shevchenko was able to control the fight with her counter-striking that regularly saw her right hook land on Holm’s head.

Once Shevchenko settled into her rhythm, Holm was rattled and a headbutt in the third round opened up a cut over Holm’s eye that was increasingly opened up as the overhands kept coming across from Shevchenko.

After seeing her early lead in the fight crumble away, Holm’s only hope in the fifth round was to get a knockout, but while she picked up her pace in the final round, she was still unable to get past the counter-punches Shevchenko was landing.

Though Holm has now lost two fights since shocking the world and knocking out Ronda Rousey for the title late last year, she is still clearly one of the best women fighters in the UFC. This was more a breakout moment for Shevchenko, who came off a very close loss to now-champion Amanda Nunes.

If Rousey continues to push back her return to the UFC, Shevchenko has made herself the clear challenger for Nunes with this victory.

Barboza kicks his way to win over returning Melendez

Edson Barboza

It was the striker versus the brawler and with a devastating kick, Edson Barboza was able to keep Gilbert Melendez at a distance and cruised to a unanimous decision victory with two judges scoring it 30-27 and a third scoring it 29-28.

Melendez’ lead left leg was battered and bruised by the end of the fight, leaving him to walk around the octagon with a limp. Barboza continued to showcase himself as one of the very best lightweights in the UFC with another big victory over a former king of the division. His gameplan was flawless. Every single time Melendez tried to close the distance, Barboza whipped his leg and nailed Melendez with a hard kick; mostly targeting the his lead left leg.

Several of the kicks caused Melendez’ leg to buckle as he fell to the mat. Though he was quickly able to get up, as the fight went on he was moving much slower, was much more hesitant to move inside and struggled to put all of his weight on his front foot when he was throwing his punches.

Melendez wouldn’t go away though. The former long-time Strikeforce champion kept getting back to his feet and kept coming forward. In the second round he landed an overhand right that staggered Barboza, but he was unable to capitalize. Barboza was able to regain his composure as he again kept some distance before taking Melendez down and nearly ending the fight with some ground-and-pound before the bell signaled the end of the round.

After feeling Melendez’ power, Barboza stayed away in the third round, but still remained aggressive with his smacking kicks.

With his third-straight victory, Barboza said he felt he earned a shot at a top contender in an eliminator bout for a title shot. Melendez had been off for a year since testing positive for a banned substance last summer at UFC 188. He did not look particularly rusty, just not at the level Barboza is now. Melendez has lose three-straight without a victory since 2013. He’s lost four of his five fights since joining the UFC after coming in as the dominant Strikeforce champion.

Ngannou stops Mihajlovic early in first

He’s big, he’s strong, he’s powerful and Francis Ngannou once again showed why he’s considered to be one of the rising stars in the heavyweight division.

In only moments, Ngannou trapped Bojan Mihajlovic in the corner of the cage and made his promotional debut end nearly as fast as it began. Ngannou floored Mihajlovic with a left hand, followed him down and followed up with heavy hits that forced referee Herb Dean to step in at the 1:34 mark in the first round.

Mihajlovic protested the stoppage, but he was curled up in the fetal position and was taking several hammerfists without showing any attempt to get out of the terrible position.

Herrig quickly chokes out Curran in return

It’s been well over a year since we last saw Felic Herrig after her unanimous decision loss to Paig VanZant, but there was no rust on her game after all that time off. And she wasted no time making her winning move against Kailin Curran.

Herrig almost immediately took Curran down, got her back right away and locked in the rear-naked choke to earn the submission victory at 1:59 in the first round.

Wineland floors Saenz three times in KO victory

Eddie Wineland

It became increasingly clear as the fight went on that there was going to be a knockout and at the 1:54 mark of the third round, Eddie Wineland finished a dazed Frankie Saenz, who just moments before was sent to the mat for a third time in the fight.

Wineland has plenty of chances to put Saenz away earlier in the fight, but before landing her right hand that ended the fight in the third, Wineland failed to capitalize whenever he hurt Saenz, and that allowed to remain dangerous with quick leg kicks and hooks as he moved in-and-out to strike. But Wineland picked up Saenz’ timing immediately and hurt him in every round with his strong right hand.

Saenz was the busier fighter and was able to take Wineland down in the first round, but the more powerful shots belonged to Wineland, who with the victory bounced back from back-to-back losses and three defeats in his previous four fights.

Saenz has now dropped back-to-back fights since winning three-straight since his UFC debut.

Oliveira’s ground-and-pound brutalizes Moontasri

Alex Oliviera

Looking to rebound from a tough first round losses against Donald Cerrone taken on short notice back in February, Alex ‘Cowboy’ Oliveira made the up-and-down James Moontasri his punching bag at UFC on Fox 20 in Chicago.

Oliveira pummeled Moontasri, out-striking him an incredible 156-30 and unloading on him every time he took him down to the canvas. Oliveira was unable to become the first person to knockout the resilient Moontasri, but cruised to and wide unanimous decision victory with one judge scoring the bout 30-25 and two scoring it 30-26. All three judge games Oliveira at least one 10-8 round for his dominance in the fight, particularly on the mat.

When Moontasri was able to wiggle off the ground, Oliveira pushed him up against the cage and continued his attack. There was nothing Moontasri could do. Oliveira proved that despite his last loss, he is among the very best in the welterweight division while Moontasri is a middling fighter who will probably never earn a ranking in his UFC career.

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Corey Johns

Editor in Chief
You could say Corey was born to become a sports journalist. His father won a national championship coaching college soccer. His mother is a baseball fanatic who hasn't missed seeing an Orioles game since 1983 (literally, sometimes it's annoying). His great uncle was a big-time boxing promoter and his maternal grandfather was once a department head at the Baltimore Sun. Basically, sports and journalism run through his blood. He played just about every little league sports there was when he was a kid and was a multi-sport athlete in high school; even playing in the first-ever high school sanction Rugby game in the country. Eventually he retired from sports as an undefeated Maryland state Rugby champion as a high school senior. Perhaps lack of athletic talent has more to do with the retirement, but he will tell you that it more had to do with a great desire to jump right into media. Upon his graduation from University of Maryland, Baltimore County as a triple communications major, Corey started the So Much Sports network and has continued to grow his websites and continues to work to make them premier sports media outlets.

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