UFC Unfiltered: UFC using its leverage, big news for Ronda Rousey and Travis Browne, hard times for former champs

Photo: Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via USA TODAY Sports

Most of the western half of the United States has been punched in the face by record high temperatures for the last few days. So while temps rise and your tolerance for people’s BS sinks, we’ll take a look at MMA news for the week.

We’ve got surprise fight announcements, surprise baby gender reveals, a brutal knockout, tough life lessons and more, so let’s get to everything you might have missed this week. 

UFC utilizes its leverage

In a move that is both shocking and par for the course, the UFC has placed Derrick Lewis and Ciryl Gane in the UFC 265 main event with an interim title on the line per Brett Okamoto of ESPN.

UFC Derrick Lewis
Derrick Lewis reacts after his knockout victory over Curtis Blaydes in a heavyweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on February 20, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Photo: Chris Unger/Handout Photo via USA TODAY Sports

UFC 265 is scheduled to take place on Saturday, August 7 in Houston, Texas. 

Current heavyweight kingpin Francis Ngannou informed the UFC brass he wouldn’t be ready to defend the title he took from Stipe Miocic in March, so now the second-ranked Lewis and the third-ranked Gane will battle it out in what will amount to a No. 1 Contender match-up for the unified strap assumably by year’s end. 

Dana White and Ngannou’s manager have engaged in a war of words over the handling of the situation. 

That leaves two fighters, Miocic and the in-coming Jon Jones, as the odd men out. That itself could be an interesting title eliminator fight to make.

Joe Schilling ain’t that guy.

Former professional kickboxer and Bellator fighter Joe “Stitch ‘em Up” Schilling got his first knockout win since November 2018 we he sent some poor idiot to the Shadow Realm who dared to “flex on him” in a bar. Schilling claims self-defense is a “life-threatening experience.” No word on if this KO will bring Schilling, 37, any closer to a Bellator title shot. 

UFC legend Ronda Rousey announces baby girl on the way.

Ronda Rousey and Travis Browne broke some news. Former UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion Ronda Rousey and UFC Heavyweight Travis Browne released a video announcing the gender of their baby. The couple revealed through Rousey’s YouTube channel that the couple is expecting a baby girl. 

Hard time for former champs

Life outside the UFC is hard. There was a time not too long ago when a UFC fighter could collect quality paychecks in extremely winnable fights whenever their time in the Octagon was over. 

That time is no more. Former UFC Lightweight Champion Anthony Pettis has learned that the hard way, dropping back-to-back fights in the PFL to Clay Collard and Raush Manfio, respectively. I won’t blame you if you had to Google either fighter, trust me I did. That isn’t meant as disrespect to the fighters Pettis has faced, it’s just that after a career as fine as his, cracking skulls named Ben Henderson, Stephen Thompson and Charles Oliveira, it has been a hard pill to swallow that “Showtime” maybe isn’t “Showtime” anymore.

He’s not alone. Former pound-for-pound great Demetrious Johnson suffered his first knockout loss in ONE Championship against Adriano Moraes in April. 

Some may say that these are flukes or that maybe age is catching up with them. Father Time is undefeated after all. 

I would offer a third argument: that the level of competition around the world is catching up. Where the U.S. and Brazil have been the two hot beds for fighters over the infancy of modern MMA, new champions out of Asia, Mexico, Russia and Africa beg to differ. 

Rashad Evans is back

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. Fighter hangs up the gloves, vows that they are done with the sport and happier than ever in the newest chapter in life. Fighter lays low for a few months, maybe even years. Suddenly they’re on ESPN telling the world that they’re committed to a full time return to the sport that has moved on from them. 

The former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion announced that when he saw how much money YouTubers Jake and Logan Paul have been raking in it motivated him to return. His desire is for a showdown with Roy Jones Jr. but is willing to take an MMA fight if the price is right. 

Luis Pena arrested

UFC fighter Luis Pena, known better as “Violent Bob Ross”, was arrested last Friday on charges of robbery by sudden snatching, battery and criminal mischief after an altercation with his girlfriend on June 14. 

Finally… 

Make no mistake about it; the upcoming Poirier-McGregor 3 fight is about more than bragging rights and a potential shot at the Lightweight Championship that Khabib Nurmagomedov left behind in the UFC lost and found.

Can Conor McGregor regain the elite form that saw him ascend to the top of the MMA world as no one else has ever done? McGregor, the former UFC Featherweight and Lightweight champion hasn’t won a significant fight since 2016, and yes, I’m counting the farce that was the “Cowboy” Cerrone fight. 

McGregor looks to be in great shape and his Twitter game and mic skills remain nearly unmatched, but does the hunger to be the very best in the world still burn inside of the man now worth north of $200 million? Dustin Poirier and Conor McGregor face off on July 10 in Las Vegas to complete their trilogy.