Watford’s recent success highlights the need for consistency

Watford


Watford are in their third Premier League campaign since promotion from the second tier of English football in 2015. A club that have not had much consistency in this top flight stint have started the current campaign extremely well. New manger Marco Silva is highly rated and his recruitment and style of play have attracted interest from other clubs. Watford will want to keep hold of him and the players that are excelling and achieve the consistency they need with the Portuguese manager.

Promotion

Watford returned to Premier League football in 2015. They finished second in the Championship, behind Bournemouth, although they had four managers in the season. It was a chaotic start to the campaign which saw three managers leave by the time the first week in October had finished. When promoted they parted company with the manager, Slaviša Jokanović, who had steadied the ship and helped them achieve promotion. The replacement was Quique Sánchez Flores who put in place the foundations that are currently being built on.

Watford in the Premier League so far

It was all in all a great first season in the Premier League for Watford. a thirteenth placed finished in the league that signalled they had not struggled with relegation. A brave FA Cup run settled the fans even more, seeing their side reach the semi-finals. A run that saw Watford beat Arsenal 2-1 at The Emirates in the quarter-finals of the competition. Unfortunately for Sánchez Flores the Watford board did not share his opinion that the season was successful and his contract was not renewed and he left the club at the end of the season.

“The club and me don’t have the same point of view about the season. We don’t have the necessary conditions to activate the clause to renew my contract so I will leave Watford as a consequence. I felt completely happy with this year and I have enjoyed this experience.” (Quique Sánchez Flores)

Walter Mazzarri replaced Sánchez Flores and it proved a return to reality for Watford. While money was spent and good players brought to the club nothing clicked. The team struggled all season and five straight defeats at the end of the season, the last of which was a 5-0 humiliation at Vicarage Roads at the hands of Manchester City, highlighted were the club where. They finished seventeenth due to the late slump but were never in real danger of being relegated as they were six points clear of the relegation zone. It was announced before the City game that Mazzarri would leave the club at the end of the season.

Improving fortunes

This campaign has produced fresh hope around Watford Football Club. Marco Silva, although joining from relegated Hull City, has brought an entertaining brand of football to Vicarage Road. Sitting pretty in eighth place in the league only four points behind Arsenal and Liverpool and five behind Tottenham is a good way to measure the early season form. A 3-3 opening day draw with Liverpool was exciting and a 2-1 home victory over Arsenal is a stand out result so far. A three game losing streak was brought to an end recently when Watford saw off David Moyes’ West Ham to regain some momentum.

Silva was able to recruit well over the summer. He made Tom Cleverly’s move from Everton permanent after he spent the second half of the 2016/17 season on loan at the club. He also signed Nathaniel Chalobah from Chelsea who had been on loan at the club in 2012/13. In signing these two players he brought in people with an understanding of the club. They understood the values and history of the club due to representing Watford before and this helps them settle quicker.

Will Hughes was brought in from Derby County for £8 million. Although Hughes has struggled to break into the side his quality cannot be denied. He had been linked with a move away from Derby for some time before joining Watford. He had been linked with a move to Liverpool in the past.

Left-back Marvin Zeegelaar joined for under £3 million from Sporting Lisbon offering experience at the highest level after playing for the Portuguese side five times in the Champions League last season. Silva was also able to snatch Andre Gray away from Premier League rivals Burnley to improve his goal getting options. As well as these three loan players came in – André Carrillo (Benfica), Orestis Karnezis and Molla Wagué (both Udinese).

While all these are superb signings for Watford one stands out from the rest. They were able to attract Brazil u20 prospect Richarlison from Fluminense. The move believed to be in the region of £11.5 million was greeted with great excitement.  In the campaign before he joined Watford he scored 18 goals in 22 appearances for Fluminense. The Brazilian is mainly utilised on the left wing but can play comfortably in any attacking position.

He provides excitement and a real goal threat as his direct style of play adds something different in Watford’s attack. He is currently Watford’s top scored with five goals in all competitions.

Adding these players to the foundations that were in place when Silva joined the club leads to the potential for success. A top half finish should be the lowest aim for the club this season, it could be better if the players fulfilling their potential at the moment continue to do so.

Worries for the future?

With the joys of overachieving and playing entertaining football come some negatives. When players perform and managers get the team set up in an attractive and successful way rival clubs start to monitor these individuals. Watford will have to deal with this in the near future.

Dutch manager Ronald Koeman left Everton and Silva has been linked with the job. ‘The Toffees’ missed out on what appeared to be their initial choice to replace Koeman as Sean Dyche distanced himself from the job. Attention soon shifted aggressively onto Silva. Watford must keep hold of Silva and seem determined to do so turning down £10 million which Everton offered to secure the services of the ex Hull City manager.

It is not just Silva who has his suitors. Richarlison has attracted interest from Arsenal. ‘Gunners’ manager Arsene Wenger has highlighted the young Brazilian as a potential replacement for Alexis Sanchez if he does leave in January or when his contract runs out in the summer. It would be hard to resist a move to Arsenal as the club has a great reputation and is consistently involved in European competition.

Conclusion

Silva has achieved a great start to his career at Watford. However, interest from other clubs produce interesting questions. Will the Watford manager have the clubs history with managers in the back of his mind if the option to leave becomes available? It would be difficult not to. The three previous seasons have seen six managers take charge of the club.

“I know the speculation and I know some of you raise doubt about commitment. Me and my players put in a very good answer [against West Ham]. Speculation can happen but it is not fair to doubt commitment.” (Marco Silva)

Consistency is key in football and it is ironic that Watford who have chopped and changed manager, even when it was not the right choice, now find themselves in this position. Perhaps it is a problem of their own making. Watford should do everything in their power to keep Silva at the club and fight for the consistency they need to become successful, if they do not they will find themselves going round in circles until the inevitable relegation battles arrive on their doorstep.


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Pogba bringing hope to Old Trafford again

POGBA


Paul Pogba returned to action for Manchester United in their 4-1 victory over Newcastle United in the Premier League. The Frenchman inspired ‘the Red Devils’, scoring a goal and assisting another. He strolled back into the side as if he had never been away. Picking up exactly where he left off before the injury running the game with his technique and athleticism will be encouraging for the United faithful. He lifted everybody around Old Trafford and has reinstated hope in the fans.

Over 2 months had gone by since Pogba last took the field for United. He limped off with a thigh problem 19 minutes into his sides Champions League Group A contest against Basel. Unfortunately for the former Juventus man, who was given the captains armband in the game against Basel, the injury was worse than first feared and he was sidelined for considerably longer than first thought.

Even more unfortunate for Pogba, the injury came as he was showing his worth on the pitch. The signing of him from Italian champions Juventus made sense. A player who has huge popularity with fans around the globe and was widely recognised as one of the best young players in the world helped the club make a statement. Pogba started the current campaign on fire. 4 games brought him 2 goals and 2 assists in the league. His aura was growing and it felt like something special was happening. Then the injury hit.

The team seemed to brush off Pogba’s absence with 4-0 wins in the Premier League over Everton and Crystal Palace, with a 1-0 away triumph over Southampton in-between. A 4-1 League success over Burton Albion in the League Cup came during this period also.

Then came a drab affair at Liverpool. A goalless draw and negative tactics put in place by Jose Mourinho highlighted the United number 6’s absence. In the big games expectations on top players is increased. Missing Pogba for one of United’s toughest away days of the season was a major problem for the club. While Mourinho’s tactics may have been defensive even if Pogba was available the threat United would have carried would have been greater with him involved.

It was not necessarily the results that suffered while Pogba was injured. Although United had some poor results. The stand out one being the 2-1 defeat at Huddersfield. It was the style of play. Mourinho’s man seemed to be missing some creativity. The absence of Pogba, who is expected to link the midfield to the attackers, really showed.

Another event which emphasised the void left by the midfielder was when United visited Chelsea. Mourinho implemented a similar negative game plan for the trip to Stamford Bridge that he did when he went to Anfield. The difference was that Chelsea were a little more open than Liverpool were. Chelsea were victories and it found United slipping further away from Pep Guardiola’s brilliant Manchester City.

Manchester United’s talisman has a lot of pressure on his shoulders. He can manage it. He is a player who always wants the ball regardless of the situation. He may not make the right decisions on every occasion but he wants to be in the position to make them. It is remarkable that he has this ability and it takes pressure off other players around him.

Pogba’s importance to Manchester United has been emphasised. His return coincides with the return of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and both having huge personalities will have a positive effect on the squad. His form on his return has been remarkable and he will only get better. It is vital that he continues to take control of games and use his technique and reputation to drive Manchester United forward. If he can do that consistently the title race will get very interesting very quickly.


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Carl Frampton reborn but relieved

CFrampton


Carl Frampton returned to competitive action after 10 months away from the sport. It was also his first fight since his unblemished record was tarnished, losing to Leo Santa Cruz in a majority decision. In the build up Frampton spoke of how he did not obviously show his disappointment obviously in the ring after the fight the defeat had seriously affected him. If you thought he might ease himself back into action to dust off some ring rust with a lower level fighter you would have been mistaken.

Frampton took on experienced Mexican Horacio Garcia. At 27 years of age he had fought 37 times before his encounter with Frampton. While recent fights had not gone his way he remained a threat to the returning former 2 weight champion.

‘The Jackal’ got the better of Garcia over the distance the fight could have been completely different if it was extended by 2 rounds.

Looking sharp early Frampton found his range almost instantly and landed big shots on his opponent. He was on his toes and moved away from the Mexican, who had Canelo Alvarez at ringside to cheer him on. Frampton looked good, as if he had not been away. Making Garcia follow him around and making him look sluggish and flat footed at times.

As the fight moved on into the middle rounds things began to change. Frampton slowed down and started getting pinned up against the ropes, exactly where he did not want to be. Garcia started letting flurries go and Frampton’s legs were unable to move him out of trouble. It was not a case of ‘the Jackal’ wanting to get into a war, he had no choice. He knew it was turning into Garcia’s type of fight and he did not have the energy to do anything to stop it.

Jamie Moore now in Frampton’s corner emphasised the importance of moving and using the jab to the body but in the later round the Northern Irish fighter had to rely on instincts. And he certainly delivered. Parts of Frampton were tested that we rarely get to see. His ability, preparation and game plan are usually so tight that he does not have his engine and desire tested. He dug in and when the chips were down he hung on for the win.

His temperament was also thrown under the microscope. In the 7th round he slipped but due to a punch being landed on the way down it had to be scored a knock-down. He initially threw his hands up and claimed he slipped but that was all. Soon he was back to his feet and trying to steady the ship. It felt that this may make the fight close going down the stretch but in the end it was not important. Frampton won on all 3 judges scorecards; the closest by 3 and the widest by 5. The final card had him winning by 4 points.

Coming through this will have got rid of the worries that were present after his loss to Santa Cruz. Now Frampton wants one of the champions.

“It was a good fight for the fans. I boxed well for the first few rounds but then got myself caught up in a fight. I wanted a hard fight for my comeback and that’s what I got. The rust is off, the cobwebs are gone and now I want to fight one of the big guys.” (Carl Frampton)

The trilogy fight with Santa Cruz is on the cards but there are domestic fighters who will want a piece of Frampton. Lee Selby fights next month and holds the IBF featherweight title. A fight between the pair has been predicted for some time. The one people want to see though is the trilogy fight with Santa Cruz. Another British boxing classic could be on the card if Frampton decides to take on Scott Quigg again or Josh Warrington. The other champions at featherweight are Gary Russel Jr and Oscar Valdez who hold the WBC and WBO respectively. While all those fighters have fights scheduled another possible opponent Abner Mares could step in to face Frampton.

This fight answered a lot of questions for Frampton. He is back and looks great. A changed of team and promoter could be exactly what the 30 year old needs to reinvigerate his career. Coming back in such a tough fight will advance his preperaton for a title fight greatly. 2018 is set to be a huge year for ‘the Jackal’.

Also on the card Jamie Conlan was stopped by Jerwin Ancajas in the 6th round as he attempted to win the IBF World super flyweight title. Paddy Barnes moved to 5-0 and recorded his first professional stoppage to claim the vacant WBO Inter-Continental Flyweight title against Eliecer Quezada.


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Everton facing serious problems

Toffee Trouble


Everton’s 2-2 draw against struggling Crystal Palace was cited as a positive by stand in manager David Unsworth. Everton were behind twice in the game and the way the draw was achieved was in some ways impressive. However, Everton should be overcoming these challenges if they wish to get back to were they once were. Many problems are apparent at the club and the new manager that comes in, whoever that may be, faces a big challenge to turn the club around.

“It’s horrible for any coach to be sat there after one minute 1-0 down, but the lads were terrific and showed great fight and desire to come straight back and I’m very proud of them.” (David Unsworth)

Decline since 2014

While it is easy to look at recent issues the club is paying for a few seasons peppered with bad decisions. The 2013/14 saw manager Roberto Martinez finish 5th in the Premier League. Martinez improved the squad with 3 loan signings – Gareth Barry, Gerard Deulofeu and most importantly Romelu Lukaku. The on loan Belgian striker would prove vital for ‘the Toffees’ over a period of time. In his season on loan he top scored for Everton with 16 in all competitions.

Both Barry and Lukaku made their moves to Goodison Park permanent in the summer of 2014. Samuel Eto’o joined on a free and Brendan Galloway and Muhamed Besic made the move to the blue side of Merseyside that summer also. That took their summer spending to £36 million which is low for the quality of players they brought in.

Only 12 games were won in the Premier League for Everton in the 2014/15 season leaving them in 11th place. They were knocked out of the FA Cup and League Cup in the 3rd round and they reached the last 16 in the Europa League.

This represented a failure. No European football next season meant that Martinez was already under pressure going into the new season.

The same place finish, 11th, in the 2015/16 season saw Martinez’s employment with the club come to an end. Sub par recruitment and no sign of improvement were the reasons Martinez could not continue. While there was an improvement in the domestic cup competitions, Everton reached the semi finals in both, the lack of success in the league and failure to qualify for Europe was simply not good enough.

The new man coming in, Ronald Koeman, joined from Premier League rivals Southampton. Fortunes improved but certain problems were apparent. Lukaku had grown as a player, improved and was depended on highly by Everton to score goals. Koeman’s first season in charge saw Lukaku score 26 goals in all competitions. The closest rival he had in terms of goalscoring was Ross Barkley with 6 goals. Improvement in the league proved that the club were focusing on league objectives as they went out in both domestic cups in the 3rd round.

2017/2018 – A disaster so far

Interest in Lukaku was present for a long period of time. The summer transfer window saw him switch to Manchester United and Koeman had a serious problem. Money in the bank but teams knew they had it. Prices inflated and deals stalled. It was a tough time for the club and manager.

Big money was spent on Michael Keane, Davy Klaassen, Jordan Pickford and eventually Gylfi Sigurdsson. Wayne Rooney made a return to the club in an attempt to bring some star quality.

The biggest frustration during this period is the Ross Barkley situation. A real talent who was vital to Everton in recent times trying to force a move away and Koeman taking a hard stance. He made an example of Barkley and the situation was negative for the player, club and the manager, fatally, suffered from.

Now sitting 16th in the league and struggling for form David Unsworth is taking on managerial duties. Some time has gone by since the sacking of Koeman and still Everton have not replaced him with a permanent successor.

What went wrong?

A lot has to be said for the recruitment in the summer. There were some good signings in Koeman’s defence. Keane came in from Burnley. He is a good age and had been excelling at his previous club. Pickford is a superb goalkeeper and is only getting better. If Everton can build a solid defence in front of him they have the making of a solid unit at the back.

The big issue that ultimately found Koeman in trouble was the lack of income splashed out on a goalscorer. Lukaku had carried the team since his arrival. Without his goals the club would have found themselves in danger earlier. He scored goals and is a great hold up player. Holding it up brought players in deeper roles into the game and offered them space.

Rooney came in and given recent form it was clear he was not in a position to fill the void left by the Belgian. Sandro Ramirez came in from Malaga, but at 22 years of age and with little experience it would be too much to ask of him to start scoring regularly instantly. The signing of Olivier Giroud could have changed this, a move that Koeman said was close.

Creative players Klaassen and Sigurdsson have failed to make an impact. Klaassen has played 11 times in all competitions and failed to score and Sigurdsson has the single goal to show for his 16 games for his new club.

A major issue in the Everton side at the moment is the lack of pace. The front players are not the quickest and Rooney and Sigurdsson both drop deep and it can ease the pressure on the centre backs knowing that that space is vacant.

What does the future hold?

It will continue to be a difficult season for ‘the Toffees’. There is a real unbalance in the squad and goals will be difficult to come by.

Will they survive? Realistically there is far too much experience for the team to be relegated. The quality of the players at the club will lead them to a mid table finish and another season losing ground to the teams at the top of the table.

The new man coming in will have a job on his hands. It looks likely that Watford manager Marco Silva is the favourite, even though Watford are rejecting advances from Everton, but Unsworth is also fancied by the club. First choice for Everton was Sean Dyche but they have had no luck in luring him to Goodison.

It will not be a season to remember for Everton fans. This season will be a battle. If they can bring Silva to the club the future will be something to look forward to. The club has money and a decent foundation to build around. A manager of the calibre of Silva will bring fresh ideas and a stylish type of football. Whoever the new manager is their main priority will be bringing goals and pace to the side.


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Are English players still proud of playing for their country?

GSEngland


Question marks over England’s manager, Gareth Southgate, have been present ever since he took charge of the side. The majority of them were fair – his lack of experience and his reserved and cautious personality are usually enough to discard candidates CV’s. While he has not answered any of the questions that were asked when he took over he deserves some credit. He took over in the strangest of circumstances and lead England to a World Cup. It could have been a disaster and while it was not pretty at least it was successful. The issues with the English national team runs deeper than the manager.

The biggest factor Southgate had in his favour during the search for a new manager was his experience with the younger players. He had coached the under 21 side for 3 years before being promoted to the senior role. As the squad was put together this time there was joy as some players who have never been involved in the senior squad were included. Success at youth level on the national circuit meant that this was somewhat exciting.

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Unfortunately it has not been of Southgate’s choosing to throw in the younger and less experienced players. From his original squad choice for these games 7 players have returned to their clubs due to injuries. This begs the question, do the English players still take pride in wearing the famous three lions?

The major loss to the England squad is Tottenham’s Harry Kane. The man who captained England in their last fixtures picked up a knock against Crystal Palace. Kane is England’s main man and genuinely world class. While these games are only friendlies the standard of opponent means they are good preparation for the World Cup in Russia.

England will be without Kane’s Tottenham team mates Dele Alli and Harry Winks which will hurt England but nowhere near as much as missing their star striker. Oddly enough Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino has declared Kane fit for their next fixture. Tottenham take on Arsenal in the North London derby next and it seems funny timing for the Spurs manager to make such a statement.

While Southgate remains adamant that there is not club vs country debate it seems there is. Kane’s absence from England duty is more than likely precautionary a decision has more than likely been made that his club duties are more important than his national ones.

“I am hearing this talk of club v country but it is a nonsense, the players are injured and cannot play.  I knew Harry Kane was in trouble because he stayed down. Harry Kane doesn’t stay down. I knew already we had a potential problem. Both him and Harry Winks were scanned. Both scans our medical department have viewed and no way they are available for our two games.” (Gareth Southgate)

While what Southgate is saying makes sense, it is difficult to believe. If Kane had this injury in the run into a World Cup or competitive game would he be out? Certainly not. What if a player like Tammy Abraham or Jamie Vardy put in 2 world class performances against 2 of the biggest national football powers? Do they go ahead of him in the queue? No they would not. So why would Kane play in this game and risk further injuries? It does not make sense for him. Southgate needs to be strong and make some big decision in the run in to this World Cup and side with players who are willing to give their all.

Other players missing include Raheem Sterling who has had an indifferent time for England. He performed out of his skin against Italy at the 2014 World Cup but has been inconsistent since. Manchester City team mate Fabian Delph also drops out for the second consecutive time. While injuries are part and parcel of football it seems to happen to regularly and conveniently for the City pair.

Jack Butland has suffered an injury that will see him sidelined for some time and Jordan Henderson of Liverpool will also miss out.

The issue here is complex. Genuine injuries happen, it cannot be stopped. But should players be allowed to withdraw due to knocks and save themselves for club duties? Of course they should. But they should face consequences. Players who answer the call and perform to the best of their ability should not lose their places because of somebodies reputation. Southgate needs to be strong and hold pride in representing the country and eagerness to play in high regard.


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Hammers managerial reshuffle

Slavan Moyez


Slaven Bilic’s time in charge of West Ham United has come to an end. It has been coming for sometime as the club have dipped in form and struggled to adapt to a new stadium. The new man coming in, David Moyes, is looking to reinvent himself after his career snowballed after a poor showing at Manchester United. Can he find the form that sparked his glory days at Everton? Or will we see the Moyes of more recent times continue to suffer?

Bilic had to go!

Bilic joined the club in 2015 and hit the ground running. He fired the team into a 7th place finish exceeding expectations at the time. A busy transfer market saw the new boss bring in the likes of Dimitri Payet, Michail Antonio and Angelo Ogbonna on permanent deals. West Ham’s squad was bolstered further by some impressive loan players coming in. Carl Jenkinson, Manuel Lanzini, Victor Moses and Alex Song all came in for the season and helped West Ham reach the upper mid table.

Unfortunately for the former Croatian national team manager he could not carry it into the 2016/17 season. Payet, who had been the catalyst for so much glory for ‘the Hammers’, left and the loan players returned. Lanzini joined on a permanent deal and was successful but it was not enough. The other signings brought in by Bilic struggled. Money was splashed on Andre Ayew from Swansea. Further funds were used on Robert Snodgrass and Jose Fonte in January but West Ham failed to reach the heights of the previous season. They struggled to an 11th place finish, which did not look like a success after achieving 7th place.

The performances got worse at the start of this season. Only 2 league wins for Bilic in the opening 11 games meant that he had to leave. Although he attracted players such as Javier Hernandez and Marko Arnautovic he could not turn it around. A come back win against Tottenham in the League Cup bought Bilic sometime. But ultimately 11 goals scored, 23 conceded and lying 18th in the league is simply not good enough for a club like West Ham.

Moyes’ last chance

If David Moyes has anything going for him it must be the hunger to succeed and prove everybody wrong. He has struggled ever since leaving Everton. Succeeding Alex Ferguson really effected the Scotsman and in recent roles he has failed and been sacked. Can he rediscover the formula that saw him achieve so highly at Everton? He does not have a choice. If he wants a successful future in football management he has to turn West Ham around.

It has been a difficult first day with West Ham’s Managing Director Karen Brady having made comments about the incoming manager when he was at Sunderland. A comment Moyes made to a female reporter after an interview caused controversy and Karen Brady accused the then Sunderland manager of sexism. His first task will be getting Brady on his side as the club will have the option to get rid of Moyes at the end of the season if things do not go to plan. An uneasy position for Moyes but one he could not realistically argue against.

There are some positives for Moyes. West Ham are a big club and the players they currently have are good to work with. Their is potential in the squad and because they did not perform well for Bilic does not mean they will not get behind the new boss. In January they will have money to spend. He will be able to get some of his players in and build the squad. If he gets that right and can tap into the potential of the current squad he can succeed.

Moyes has got his chance. It is time for him to step up and regain some credibility. It will be difficult for him given his history but he has shown in the past he is a good manager and West Ham have a solid foundation to build on. Unfortunately for Bilic he achieved too high in his first season. Expectations were raised by the 7th place finish and the pressure in the Premier League to improve year on year grew and ultimately was his downfall. Moyes must come in and steady the ship. It will take some time to get West Ham back in the top half but Moyes has the ability to do it even if he has not shown in recently.


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UFC 217 – A night for the underdogs

3NewChamps


The most anticipated night for fight fans across the world has been and gone. It did not disappoint that is for sure. A card stacked with top quality fights headed up by 3 world title fights provided non stop action and enough drama to satisfy UFC fans for the rest of the year. Georges St-Pierre’s return after a 4 year absence was the main draw. He faced off against Michael Bisping for the middleweight belt. Ex Team Alpha Male team mates Cody Garbrandt and TJ Dillashaw battled it out for the right to be called the bantamweight champion of the world. The third title fight was in the women’s strawweight division pitting Polish champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk against Rose Namajunas. It was a night that would see silverware change hands regularly.


Rose Namajunas Def. Joanna Jedrzejczyk via KO in round 1 

As Joe Rogan said on commentary, who would have thought Namajunas would have knocked out Jedrzejczyk who was widely considered the best female fighter in the UFC. Namajunas is a submission specialist and many believed if she was going to cause an upset she would make the champion submit. She landed a heavy left hook to score her second knockdown of the fight in the first round. She piled on the pressure and the champion had no response. It appeared that Jedrzejczyk tapped from the punches landing on her from the challenger.

Namajunas was cool during the build up and even cooler in the ring. As a huge underdog with bookmakers she was available at 9/2 while the champion was 1/6. She took everything in her stride and with the quality of opponent in front of her shows how good her mindset is. Even after the win she was calm, no adrenaline infused celebrations, just a calm gracious attitude which will surely grow her fan base.The future is bright for ‘Thug Rose’ as she is still only 25 years of age.

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It was not just the bookies who were favouring Jedrzejczyk it was the wider MMA comunity as well. A rematch is certainly on the card and the ex champion has already signalled her intent to set the record straight.

“I must sit and talk to Dana and the UFC. I think I’ve been a good athlete and good champion for the UFC. That’s it. I think I deserve the rematch, if I will not get the rematch, we’ll see. I want my belt back and that’s the thing, it’s probably going to be the biggest goal right now to get my belt back because s**t happens everywhere, so it was a mistake, it was a big surprise.” (Joanna Jedrzejczyk)

‘The Boogeywoman’ went on to say that it was not a lucky punch and that Namajunas had a great game plan. The rematch is the logical option for both women and with Jedrzejczyk being brought back to earth expect a closer fight next time.


TJ Dillashaw Def. Cody Garbrandt via KO in round 2

The build up to this fight was electric. Crosswords, tension on the Ultimate Fighter series and former friendships really made the run up to the fight sizzle. The action delivered as well. After such a fantastic build up it is sometimes an anti-climax when it comes to the fight.

The first round was slow. Garbrandt stalking his opponent waiting for him to make errors coming forward so he could land a massive shot to end the contest. Dillashaw moving around the octagon and looking loose trying to connect with a kick to his opponents head. When the two came together it was frantic. Garbrandt landed a huge right hand inside the last 10 seconds of the round and totally floored TJ.

Dillashaw will be grateful it landed so late. The punch landing 30 seconds earlier could have been a win for the champion.

TJ recovered and proceeded with caution in the second. A wild kick missed and Garbrandt show boated, which now looks foolish. But at the time he was in control. Moving out of distance as TJ came forward and letting his fast hands go when the chance presented itself.

The dynamic of the fight changed when TJ landed a high kick right on the sweet spot of his opponents head. Garbrandt went down and was clearly shaken. Then later in the round the two came together and TJ was able to land the killer blow. Flooring Garbrandt TJ pounced and ended the contest loading up shots on his grounded opponent.

After all the animosity in the build up the two came together and were respectful to each other. That was after somebody in TJ’s camp shouted something which caused Garbrandt to react. It was quickly forgotten and a handshake between the two represented a huge moment in the rivalry.

What next? TJ wants to go down and fight Demetrious Johnson. He still has unfinished business in his current weight division. A close defeat against Dominick Cruz, which saw TJ lose the belt in January 2016 means that a rematch must be on the agenda. However, down the road the rematch with Garbrandt will happen. The pair are evenly matched and with Garbrandt only being 26 he is still well and truly on the bantamweight radar.

https://twitter.com/Cody_Nolove/status/927028466041663489


Georges St-Pierre Def. Michael Bisping via submission (rear naked choke) in round 3

What a way to end the night! Going into the fight the odds were against GSP. He started well and put Bisping on the back foot. Then he was cut open as Bisping landed viscous strikes and elbows on the ground from the bottom. A left hook dropped Bisping and as GSP put the pressure on before retreating slightly he was able to take Bisping’s back and put him to sleep. The momentum of the fight swung between each fighter and it really entertained.

It was the perfect way to round off the night with the third world title changing hands. Bisping humble in defeat congratulated the new champion and after all the words exchange the respect was obvious. GSP back and it seems he is here to stay. He looked strong and quick at 185 but questions will be raised about his stamina as he seemed to become tired in the second round.

History made and a legacy enhanced. What next for GSP? Robert Whittaker in Australia looks like the next step and defending the title will even further cement GSP’s legendary status. Bisping on the other hand maintains he will not call it a day. Age and now fight options play a factor in rumours he is finished. He still has enough in him for a couple more fights but does he want it?


UFC 217 delivered that is 100% true. The title fights were the main highlight but the prelims and undercard was also good viewing.

The option for rematches are open to all the title fights and the level of fighters involved it is no impossible that the all the titles could return to the losers at this event. The event certainly helped the reputation of the company. With Conor McGregor off the scene for sometime and a gap in UFC cards as he took on Floyd Mayweather hurt the reputation. With new stars emerging the UFC brand improves and the entertainment and drama on show in New York highlights the growing strength of the roster.

3 world title fights, 3 new champions – there is a lot to live up to for UFC 218. Who would bet against the organisation getting even stronger next year.


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