5 UFC stars who regularly struggle to finish their opponents

UFC president Dana White loves to tell his fighters never to leave things in the hands of the judges, but it’s fair to say that some of his roster don’t always follow that advice.

Right now, there are a number of fighters competing in the UFC who, while relatively successful, seem to struggle when it comes to finishing their opponents.

Often, this doesn’t make them any less popular. Some of them can count themselves among the bigger stars in the promotion. Despite this, it’s rare to see them win before the final buzzer.

Here are five UFC stars who regularly struggle to finish their opponents.

#5. Belal Muhammad – UFC welterweight

Belal Muhammad's lack of finishes in the octagon may hold him back from title contention
Belal Muhammad’s lack of finishes in the octagon may hold him back from title contention

There are a number of observers, Daniel Cormier included, who believe that Belal Muhammad and not Colby Covington should be in line for the next shot at the welterweight title.

They might have a point. ‘Remember the Name’ has not been beaten in a nine-fight run that dates back to 2019, and takes in victories over some of the best fighters in his division.

However, one reason why the UFC may have overlooked Muhammad is his overall lack of finishing ability inside the octagon.

To be fair, ‘Remember the Name’ did dispatch Sean Brady in ruthless fashion in his last bout. Brady had never been beaten before, but Muhammad put him away with a violent flurry of punches in the second round.

However, prior to that, six of his previous seven wins had gone the distance, including his victories over Stephen Thompson, Vicente Luque and Demian Maia.

Before his current run, too, he’d gone the distance in four of his five other octagon wins. Overall, Muhammad has 13 UFC victories under his belt, and only three of them have ended before the final buzzer.

‘Remember the Name’ is undoubtedly a great fighter, but perhaps this missing piece of the puzzle is what will prevent him from climbing to the top of the welterweight mountain.

#4. Katlyn Chookagian – UFC flyweight

Katlyn Chookagian has never finished an opponent in the octagon
Katlyn Chookagian has never finished an opponent in the octagon

Katlyn Chookagian has been renowned as one of the best female flyweights in the UFC for a long time now, dating back to her move to the division back in 2018.

‘Blonde Fighter’ has picked up nine wins at 125 pounds, and has only suffered four losses, one of which was a highly controversial split decision defeat to Jessica Eye.

However, none of those nine wins saw her finish her foe, with all of them instead going the distance. In fact, Chookagian’s two wins as a bantamweight prior to her move to 125 pounds also went the distance, too.

In this instance, it seems like Chookagian’s fighting style – which tends to involve her looking to pick her opponents apart on the feet – is largely to blame.

Usually, fighters find that they pick up a lot of finishes over lower-level foes prior to arriving in the UFC. ‘Blonde Fighter’, on the other hand, only stopped three of her seven opponents prior to her promotional debut.

At this stage in her career, it doesn’t feel like Chookagian will change up her fighting style any time soon. Unfortunately, then, it’s also unlikely that she’ll become any bigger of a star, even if she continues to win most of her bouts.

#3. Leon Edwards – UFC welterweight champion

Leon Edwards is the world's best 170lber, but he doesn't often finish his opponents
Leon Edwards is the world’s best 170lber, but he doesn’t often finish his opponents

There are a few things about UFC welterweight champion Leon Edwards that, right now at least, seem enshrined in truth.

Firstly, after his second win over Kamaru Usman a couple of weeks ago, ‘Rocky’ is the best 170lber on the planet. Secondly, his head kick knockout of ‘The Nigerian Nightmare’ in 2022 is up there with the greatest finishes in octagon history.

However, looking at that head kick and taking it as the norm for Edwards would actually be a big mistake. In fact, it’s easier to argue instead that ‘Rocky’ should probably be considered a fighter who often struggles to finish his foes.

Prior to that legendary knockout of Usman, Edwards had won 10 of his previous 11 fights in the octagon, with the other being a no contest with Belal Muhammad.

Interestingly, though, just two of those 10 fights ended before the final buzzer – a submission win over Albert Tumenov back in 2016 and a TKO stoppage of Peter Sobotta in 2018.

Remarkably, Edwards’ stoppage of Sobotta came in the final second of the third and final round of the fight, too – meaning had the referee been very slightly slower, he’d have had a ninth decision win to his name.

Prior to this run, as well, Edwards had finished just one opponent in the octagon, stopping Seth Baczynski in 2015.

So should ‘Rocky’ be considered a point-fighter? It’s debatable, as the native of Birmingham, England, is an aggressive fighter for the most part.

However, head kick of Usman aside, there’s definitely an argument to suggest he struggles for finishes, even if that doesn’t make him any less of a fighter or champion.

#2. Merab Dvalishvili – UFC bantamweight

Merab Dvalishvili could be the best bantamweight in the world right now, but he rarely finishes his foes
Merab Dvalishvili could be the best bantamweight in the world right now, but he rarely finishes his foes

Following his dominant win over former bantamweight champion Petr Yan a couple of weeks ago, there’s a very real argument that Merab Dvalishvili might be the best 135lber in the UFC right now.

‘The Machine’ does not hold the title – his teammate and friend Aljamain Sterling does – but he is on the best win streak in the division and the pace that he sets in his fights seems to be something nobody can cope with.

However, one thing that cannot be said about the native of Georgia is that he’s a deadly finisher inside the octagon.

Of his nine wins inside the octagon, just one has come inside the distance – his incredible come-from-behind stoppage of Marlon Moraes in 2021.

That win, which saw Dvalishvili recover from a horrendous knockdown in the first round to destroy Moraes in the second, was amazing to watch. Interestingly, it was also one of the few times he’d had to rely on something other than his incredible pressure to win.

Outside of that, none of the Georgian’s opponents have really been able to stop his clinch work, takedown and forward movement, leading most of them to defeats. Even Ricky Simon and Frankie Saenz, who beat Dvalishvili in his first two octagon appearances, didn’t really beat him, per say.

Saenz won a split decision that arguably should’ve gone the other way, and Simon was awarded a TKO win after a controversial referee stoppage in the third round of a fight that Dvalishvili was clearly winning.

Overall, then, it may be the case that if an opponent can force Dvalishvili out of his comfort zone, as Moraes did, he’s more than capable of unleashing a nasty finish.

Until someone can do that, though, it’d be crazy for him to change his style to something more reckless. He might not be the best finisher, but he’s a genuinely phenomenal fighter.

#1. Holly Holm – former UFC bantamweight champion

Despite her famous knockout of Ronda Rousey, Holly Holm has found finishes hard to come by
Despite her famous knockout of Ronda Rousey, Holly Holm has found finishes hard to come by

Holly Holm will always be revered by longtime fans of the UFC for her famous head kick knockout of Ronda Rousey back in 2015.

At the time, ‘Rowdy’ was seen as unbeatable, but across two rounds, Holm picked her apart and then finished her with a picture-perfect kick to the dome, largely ending her career as a top-level MMA fighter too.

However, while ‘The Preacher’s Daughter’ is often pushed as a major star by the promotion, headlining numerous shows and fighting in plenty of title bouts, she’s only ever replicated that head kick finish once.

That came against an overmatched Bethe Correia in 2017, giving Holm her second highlight-reel moment in the octagon.

Outside of those two wins, though, every single one of Holm’s other victories has come via decision. While she was highly dominant in some of those fights, most notably against Megan Anderson and Yana Santos, she never really came close to finishing them.

What’s even more remarkable is the fact that despite being part of the UFC’s roster for eight years now, ‘The Preacher’s Daughter’ has only actually picked up eight wins over that time.

In that sense, not only is Holm a fighter who often struggles to finish her foes, but she’s also a rare example of a superstar whose record isn’t quite as good as her reputation might suggest – even if she remains one of the most feared female fighters in the world.

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5 times when a UFC fighter’s corner should’ve thrown the towel in to save them

This weekend at UFC 285, fans were treated to a rarity of sorts when Derek Brunson’s corner threw the towel in during his fight with Dricus du Plessis, saving him from unnecessary damage.

Cornermen saving their fighters by throwing in the towel is a worryingly rare sight in the UFC. Over the years, though, we’ve seen a number of fights that probably should’ve been stopped in this way.

Often, the beatings fighters involved ended up taking altered their careers for the worse, making matters even more painful.

Here are five times when a UFC fighter’s corner should’ve thrown in the towel to save them.

#5. Kris Moutinho vs. Sean O’Malley – UFC 264

Kris Moutinho suffered inhuman punishment at the hands of Sean O'Malley
Kris Moutinho suffered inhuman punishment at the hands of Sean O’Malley

Fans were baffled in 2021 when Sean O’Malley, arguably the hottest prospect in the bantamweight division, was paired with unknown debutant Kris Moutinho at UFC 264.

To be fair to Moutinho, he was replacing Louis Smolka on short notice. Still, the fight made no sense. ‘Sugar’ had already beaten the likes of Eddie Wineland and Thomas Almeida, who were far more proven than the newcomer.

Everyone feared the worst for Moutinho, and they were proven correct.

In an absolutely merciless performance, O’Malley dismantled the newcomer, destroying him with strikes from the word go. By the end of the first round alone, ‘Sugar’ had connected with 77 significant strikes, bloodying Moutinho up and knocking him down late on.

Moutinho’s corner would’ve been justified stopping the fight there and then, but instead, they let their fighter take more criminal punishment in the second round.

The debutant absorbed another 70 significant strikes in that round. Remarkably, the fight went into the third stanza, where ‘Sugar’ hammered him with another 83 shots before referee Herb Dean called a rare standing TKO.

Incredibly, the fans in attendance didn’t seem happy with the stoppage, but it was entirely justified. In reality, Moutinho’s corner should’ve thrown in the towel after the first round.

It was painfully clear that their fighter was badly outgunned, and to allow him to continue only meant he suffered more brain trauma.

#4. Anthony Smith vs. Glover Teixeira – UFC Fight Night 171

Glover Teixeira brutally punished Anthony Smith in their bout
Glover Teixeira brutally punished Anthony Smith in their bout

A number of fighters in the UFC live up to their nicknames, but few come close to Anthony Smith. Known as ‘Lionheart’, the former light heavyweight title challenger has shown his insane toughness on numerous occasions.

Sometimes, though, that toughness has landed Smith in more trouble than he probably deserved. One such example was his 2020 bout with Glover Teixeira.

In the headliner of a Fight Night event at the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, fans expected Smith and Teixeira to go toe-to-toe. Indeed, they lived up to those expectations.

However, despite ‘Lionheart’ performing well in the first two rounds, he seemed to run out of steam as the bout went on. In the third round, he found himself trapped underneath the Brazilian, who proceeded to batter him with strikes from top position.

The fight could well have been stopped by Smith’s corner there and then, but after an eye injury was cleared by the cageside doctor, the action continued.

‘Lionheart’ once again found himself on the bottom in the fourth round and took an utterly criminal beating. When he somehow survived the round and staggered to his corner, he outright told them that his teeth were falling out.

Quite why Smith’s corner didn’t throw the towel in there and then remains a mystery. However, ‘Lionheart’ was allowed to go out for the fifth round, where the bout was finally stopped by ref Jason Herzog.

Thankfully, Smith’s career seems to have recovered well from the beating. However, it’s safe to say that his corner were reckless here, and probably should’ve saved him.

#3. Dan Hooker vs. Edson Barboza – UFC on Fox 31

Dan Hooker was lucky that his career recovered from the beating he took from Edson Barboza
Dan Hooker was lucky that his career recovered from the beating he took from Edson Barboza

In late 2018, lightweight prospect Dan Hooker appeared to be on a roll. He’d won four fights in a row, stopping Ross Pearson, Marc Diakiese, Jim Miller and Gilbert Burns, and clearly needed a step up.

That came in the form of a clash with top 10-ranked Edson Barboza. Unfortunately, the bout could not have gone more wrong for ‘The Hangman’.

The New Zealand-based fighter tried his best to land strikes in the first round, but quickly found himself suffering from the heavy leg kicks of Barboza. When the Brazilian stunned him with a right hand towards the end of the round, it was clear which way the fight was heading.

Even that didn’t really hint to the damage ‘The Hangman’ would take in the second round, though. Already limping from the low kicks, Hooker was hit with numerous big shots, including huge kicks to the body, more leg kicks, and hard punches too.

When the round ended, it was painfully clear that Hooker had no chance of winning. Realistically, his corner should’ve saved him by throwing in the towel there and then.

Instead, he was allowed to go out for the third round, where he continued to take insane punishment despite not going down. Finally, a huge body punch forced him to collapse to his knees, and mercifully, the fight was stopped.

Luckily for ‘The Hangman’, he recovered from the beating and still seems relatively durable today – although he needed to take a full seven months off after the fight to recover.

#2. Edson Barboza vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov – UFC 219

Edson Barboza suffered a criminal beating from Khabib Nurmagomedov
Edson Barboza suffered a criminal beating from Khabib Nurmagomedov

Edson Barboza was responsible for a criminal beating when he faced Dan Hooker in 2018. Just a year before it, though, he suffered a terrible beating of his own at UFC 219.

Worryingly, the punishment that the Brazilian absorbed at the hands of Khabib Nurmagomedov seemed to have done genuine damage to his career at one point, although he did eventually seem to recover.

At the time, Barboza was riding a strong three-fight win streak. With Khabib returning from over a year on the shelf, the Brazilian felt like a major threat to him.

Of course, that wasn’t the case. ‘The Eagle’ came into the fight seemingly angry that he’d been overlooked for a UFC lightweight title shot, and took every frustration he had out on Barboza.

The Brazilian found himself forced to the ground in the first round, and Khabib went onto utterly destroy him with elbows and punches, practically swelling his eyes shut. When the stanza ended, he could barely make it to his corner.

Barboza’s team could well have stopped the fight then. It was painfully clear their fighter stood no chance of actually beating Khabib, who looked like a man possessed. However, instead of throwing the towel in, they allowed him to continue.

Remarkably, he survived the distance, but ended up absorbing a total of 154 strikes, many of them needless. Barboza’s career did recover – his next win was the bout with Hooker – but not before suffering a frighteningly similar beating from Kevin Lee in the meantime.

#1. Junior dos Santos vs. Cain Velasquez – UFC 166

Junior Dos Santos should've been saved by his corner against Cain Velasquez
Junior Dos Santos should’ve been saved by his corner against Cain Velasquez

The rivalry between former UFC heavyweight champions Cain Velasquez and Junior dos Santos is usually recalled as the greatest in the history of the division. However, despite ‘JDS’ winning the first bout via KO, it was also a painfully one-sided feud.

Velasquez beat the Brazilian down heavily in their second fight, claiming back the title he’d lost to the Brazilian in the process. When dos Santos bounced back by knocking out Mark Hunt, though, the trilogy fight was quickly signed.

Sadly for ‘JDS’, the bout at UFC 166 turned out to be even worse than his previous meeting with the champion.

Velasquez shrugged off an early shot from dos Santos that staggered him, and went on to bully him in the clinch, abusing him with huge punches. That continued in the second round, and in the third, when Velasquez dropped the Brazilian with a right hand, it looked like the fight was over.

The champion followed by seemingly knocking him out momentarily with follow-up punches. When he then put him him down for a second time, quite why Herb Dean didn’t step in was anyone’s guess.

Dos Santos survived the round, but it was clear that he wasn’t with it at all as he staggered to his corner. For the good of his career, his corner should’ve stopped things there and then.

Incredibly, though, they let him continue on. Eventually, he was finished in the fifth round via TKO. When the fight ended, ‘JDS’ had eaten no fewer than 274 strikes.

Was prime Cain Velasquez the best heavyweight of all time? 📹 via @UFC https://t.co/dahix9pWAY

In this case, dos Santos’ career never truly recovered. He went on to win six more fights in the UFC, but also suffered six defeats via TKO and looked vulnerable every time he fought.

Had his corner stopped his bout with Velasquez, he could well have gone on to far more success than he ended up having.

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5 Things WWE NXT got right this week: Warning sent to Hall of Famer; surprise return

Several matches and segments were preannounced for the latest episode of WWE NXT. The show kicked off with a high-profile match between Trick Williams and the returning Ilja Dragunov.

Jacy Jayne was also ready to make a statement as she took on Indi Hartwell in a match on Tuesday. Meanwhile, Alba Fyre put down Ivy Nile in a quick match on the show.

Tony D’Angelo defeated Von Wagner in a match that helped push him forward. After the win, The Don challenged Dijak to a Jailhouse Street Fight for NXT Roadblock. D’Angelo is on the right path to recovering his value on the brand, and he looks ready for some big matches on the show.

Dabba Kato also appeared in a backstage segment and said that Apollo Crews left him high and dry for months. Kato was set to teach Crews a lesson on the upcoming episodes of the show.

Take a look at the five things WWE NXT got right on this week’s show.

#5. Ilja Dragunov taught Trick Williams a lesson to kick off WWE NXT

The Czar was dominant on WWE NXT.
The Czar was dominant on WWE NXT.

Trick Williams kicked off the night with a match against Ilja Dragunov on WWE NXT. Williams took a cheap shot at Dragunov before the match started and looked to gain some unfair advantage early on.

The former United Kingdom Champion hit back with some stiff strikes, but a jab to the eye slowed him down once again. JD McDonagh came out to join the commentary team and distracted Dragunov in the process.

The Czar did not lose focus for long and hit his opponent with a few running knees before getting a knee drop. He finished off Williams with the Torpedo Moskau for the win. Dragunov and McDonagh had a face-off before the segment came to an end.

Williams has improved over the past few months and put on a good showing alongside Ilja, who was the star. WWE is slowly building towards a grudge match between JD and Ilja that will likely highlight the upcoming NXT Roadblock event.

#4. Gigi Dolin returned to get back at Jacy Jayne

Jacy Jayne faced off against Indi Hartwell in a match that was set up last week on WWE NXT. Many fans believed that the match was simply set up to award Jayne a win and push her ahead as a solo heel in the women’s division.

The former Toxic Attraction member took control of the match early and locked her opponent in a side headlock. Hartwell fought back and used her strength to take her down with a spine buster for a near fall.

Jayne hit a cannonball and stomped down on her opponent in the corner. It looked like she was ready to pick up the win before Gigi Dolin returned to attack her from behind. The two fought out of the ring, and Jayne ran out of the arena.

The match wasn’t anything special and simply set up Dolin’s return. WWE did not waste too much time in bringing her back, and it looks like the two women will have their first match against each other at NXT Roadblock.

#3. Pretty Deadly laid waste to Gallus after their win on WWE NXT

Gallus' win was overshadowed by the attack.
Gallus’ win was overshadowed by the attack.

Edris Enofe and Malik Blade competed against WWE NXT Tag Team Champions Gallus in a non-title match this week. Gallus looked to showcase their dominance over the tag team division of the brand as they took control of the match early.

Blade was isolated for some time and was hit with many big moves before two Pretty Deadly impersonators walked out with a big cake. The distraction allowed Enofe to tag in and hit a dive to the outside and an elbow drop for a near fall.

Blade and Enofe’s resistance did not last too long, as Gallus was simply too good for them. The NXT Tag Team Champions isolated Blade again and hit their finisher for the win.

Pretty Deadly wanted to celebrate the anniversary of Gallus’ loss to them, but Wolfgang and Mark Coffey attacked the presenters. The heels fired back and took them down with steel chairs before driving them into the steel post and steel steps to end the segment.

The tag team division of the brand has always been strong, and it looks like another great championship match will light up the upcoming NXT Roadblock event. Pretty Deadly is currently the most established tag team on the roster that can give Gallus a tough fight.

#2. Bron Breakker overcame Jinder Mahal to retain his title

Bron Breakker had another successful title defense.
Bron Breakker had another successful title defense.

Bron Breakker faced one of his toughest challenges yet in the form of Jinder Mahal on WWE NXT. Jinder matched Bron’s strength right after the opening bell, and both men took each other down with clotheslines.

Indus Sher was at ringside trying to help out Mahal during the contest. This brought out the Creed Brothers, who attacked Veer and Sanga to level the playing field.

Mahal stayed on the front foot and hit Breakker with some good moves before sending him into the steel steps outside the ring. He hit a suplex and hit a knee before Breakker came back with a Frankensteiner.

The former WWE Champion went for Khallas, but Breakker reversed it into a Spear for the win. The match was a good test for Bron, who has proven to be a fighting champion. He has overcome several big stars in his current reign and looks set to make history with the title in hand.

#1. Grayson Waller sent a message to Shawn Michaels to end the show

Carmello Hayes showed up on the balcony after Bron Breakker retained his WWE NXT Championship against Jinder Mahal. He made it clear that he was coming for the championship sooner rather than later.

However, their staredown was interrupted by Grayson Waller, who was in the production truck. The heel invited Shawn Michaels to the Grayson Waller Effect at NXT Roadblock before the show went off-air.

Breakker vs. Hayes will be one of the best title matches fans will get this year. Both men have proven themselves on different levels, and it’s time for them to go head-to-head in singles competition.

Meanwhile, Waller’s invitation to Michaels seems to be very interesting. He already failed to defeat Tyler Bate last week after disrespecting the Hall of Famer. HBK may not be returning to the ring for a match against Waller, but he could bring along a fitting competitor to shut the heel once and for all.

What did you make of NXT this week? Let us know in the comments section below.

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5 fighters who should join Jens Pulver in the UFC Hall of Fame

This weekend saw the announcement that Jens Pulver, the inaugural UFC lightweight champion, will be inducted into the promotion’s Hall of Fame this summer. So which fighters could join him soon?

Jens Pulver’s induction into the UFC Hall of Fame is well overdue, and there are a number of other fighters who are worthy of being inducted, too.

The first lightweight champion in UFC history is headed to the Hall of Fame! 🏆Congratulations @Jens_Pulver on becoming 2023’s newest #UFCHOF Inductee![ Presented by @ToyoTires ] https://t.co/DSIGNQqpXu

These fighters range from former champions to popular legends who never managed to win a title, but still made their mark in the octagon.

Here are five fighters who ought to join Jens Pulver in the UFC Hall of Fame.

#5. Frank Mir – former UFC heavyweight champion (Modern Wing)

Frank Mir should be considered an all time great at heavyweight
Frank Mir should be considered an all time great at heavyweight

One fighter who certainly belongs in the UFC Hall of Fame is former two-time heavyweight champion Frank Mir.

One of the most skilled submission artists in the history of the heavyweight division, it’s arguable that Mir is his generation’s most underrated fighter.

The Las Vegas native debuted in the octagon way back in 2001 at the age of just 20. He eventually departed the promotion 16 years later, giving him the longest uninterrupted tenure of any fighter in UFC history.

Longevity is not the only thing on Mir’s side when it comes to a potential Hall of Fame induction, though. During his tenure in the octagon, he beat some of the best heavyweights in the game, including Tim Sylvia, Brock Lesnar, Mirko Cro Cop and Roy Nelson.

Perhaps most impressively, he became the first man to both knock out and submit former UFC and PRIDE champion – and Hall of Fame inductee – Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira.

What is the Greatest Submission of All-Time?#7 Seed: Frank Mir and Minotauro Nogueira met in a clash of BJJ heavyweights for an unforgettable back-and-forth ground war that ended in a win by Kimura for Frank Mir – and a painful loss for Big Nog. https://t.co/4ZHqnpDbz3

Arguably, only two things stand against Mir’s potential Hall of Fame induction right now. Firstly, he hasn’t officially retired and the promotion only tends to induct fighters who’ve hung their gloves up.

Secondly, he didn’t leave under the best terms, moving to Bellator MMA in 2017. However, the fact that his daughter Bella recently signed a developmental deal with Dana White and company probably stands in his favor.

Essentially, then, Mir hasn’t fought since 2019 and doesn’t seem to be likely to compete again anytime soon, so he ought to be given his rightful spot in the Hall of Fame.

#4. Evan Tanner – former UFC middleweight champion (Pioneer Wing)

It’s now been nearly two decades since Evan Tanner’s brief reign as UFC middleweight champion and almost 15 years since his tragic death in the deserts of California in 2008.

Despite all this time passing, Tanner has still not been inducted into the promotion’s Hall of Fame, but that should really change in the near future.

Tanner has seemingly been forgotten by many longtime fans at this stage, and newer ones might not even recognize his name. However, it’s not a stretch to describe him as one of the best middleweights to ever step into the octagon.

The native of Amarillo, Texas, made his debut in the octagon in 1999 after putting together an impressive 16-1 record on the regional circuit. Remarkably, he was a self-taught fighter, watching old VHS tapes for inspiration and then training alone in his garage.

Initially, he fought at 205 pounds, even unsuccessfully challenging Tito Ortiz for the light heavyweight crown in 2001. However, his best successes came when he moved down to 185 pounds in 2003.

Tanner claimed two victories over top contender Phil Baroni, and then stopped Robbie Lawler to put himself in line for a title shot. From there, he upset hot favorite David Terrell, brutalizing him with ground-and-pound in a wild fight to become the promotion’s first middleweight titleholder in over a year.

Tanner’s reign did not last too long as he was unseated by Rich Franklin in his first defense. However, despite suffering a further three losses before his career ended prior to his death, he was never an easy out for any fighter.

Renowned for helping to popularize the use of elbow strikes on the ground to great effect, Tanner was a charismatic, popular fighter whose tragic death probably robbed the fans of more potentially great fights.

Former UFC Middleweight Champion Evan Tanner passed away 12 years ago today. Rest In Peace. https://t.co/8eMeVoCVrI

Sure, he might not be as decorated as some of the other fighters on this list, but he definitely belongs in the Hall of Fame.

#3. Vitor Belfort – former UFC light heavyweight champion (Pioneer Wing)

Vitor Belfort's longevity in the UFC was near unparalleled
Vitor Belfort’s longevity in the UFC was near unparalleled

It seems hard to believe but, somehow, Vitor Belfort has not yet been inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame. Considering his longevity, accomplishments and various reinventions, this is baffling.

‘The Phenom’ debuted in the octagon way back in 1997, when the sport of MMA was still in its infancy. He immediately rose to fame with his explosive wins over the likes of Tank Abbott and Tra Telligman.

At one point, he looked invincible. His first career loss to Randy Couture proved that wrong, but the Brazilian then rebounded with a famous win over Wanderlei Silva before moving to PRIDE.

He would return to the UFC on two separate occasions later, seeing success both times. First, he won the light heavyweight title from Couture, albeit in controversial fashion. Then, he cut a path of destruction through the middleweight division, beating the likes of Dan Henderson, Luke Rockhold and Michael Bisping.

10 years ago today, TRT Vitor Belfort changed Michael Bisping’s life forever https://t.co/geAbzaz6Bn

Belfort was never able to claim gold at 185 pounds despite two attempts at it, falling to both Anderson Silva and Chris Weidman. He also courted controversy with his infamous use of testosterone replacement therapy during his run as a middleweight.

However, for his lengthy and impressive list of victims, as well as his incredible longevity – competing at the top for nearly two decades – should be enough to net him a spot in the Hall of Fame in the near future.

#2. Diego Sanchez – former UFC welterweight contender (Modern Wing)

Despite not winning a title, Diego Sanchez should be considered a legend
Despite not winning a title, Diego Sanchez should be considered a legend

For the most part, the fighters inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame thus far have either held titles in the promotion or claimed gold in one of the other large MMA organisations like PRIDE or WEC.

However, while Diego Sanchez never claimed gold in the octagon – if you ignore his tournament win in the inaugural season of TUF – it’s safe to say that he definitely warrants a spot in the Hall’s Modern Wing.

Put simply, ‘The Nightmare’, who departed the promotion in 2022 following two straight defeats, could well be considered the most exciting fighter to watch in UFC history.

His wars with the likes of Nick Diaz, Karo Parisyan and Martin Kampmann still stand the test of time as true classics, while his bout with Gilbert Melendez was widely recognized as the best fight of 2013.

In fact, technically speaking, Sanchez is already in the Hall of Fame in a way; his crazy 2009 fight with Clay Guida was inducted into the Fight Wing in 2019.

Does Sanchez warrant a spot of his own, though? Absolutely. ‘The Nightmare’ was still competing near the top of the promotion 15 years after his initial victory on TUF, when the other fighters to graduate from his season were long gone.

More to the point, he competed in four different divisions during his time in the octagon, something that only a handful of other fighters can claim.

Overall, while Sanchez could never call himself a champion, he should definitely be considered a true legend and would definitely warrant an induction into the Hall of Fame.

#1. Anderson Silva – former UFC middleweight champion (Modern Wing)

Quite why Anderson Silva isn't already in the Hall of Fame is a mystery
Quite why Anderson Silva isn’t already in the Hall of Fame is a mystery

Given that he was once widely considered the greatest pound-for-pound fighter in the world and held the UFC middleweight title for a record-setting six-and-a-half years, quite why Anderson Silva has not yet been inducted into the promotion’s Hall of Fame is a mystery.

‘The Spider’ debuted in the octagon in 2006 with a win over Chris Leben, taking out ‘The Crippler’ in under a minute. That set him up for a shot at middleweight champion Rich Franklin and, despite coming in as an underdog, Silva destroyed ‘Ace’ to claim the gold. It set the trend for a truly remarkable career.

Silva reeled off win after win after win. He defeated every top contender in the 185-pound division, including Nate Marquardt, Dan Henderson, Chael Sonnen and Vitor Belfort.

He even made a handful of forays up to 205 pounds, easily dispatching former light heavyweight kingpin Forrest Griffin in 2009.

That Forest Griffin KO never gets old.Anderson Silva at his best 🔥#UFCVegas12 | Saturday 9pm | BT Sport 1 HDhttps://t.co/NiS8DPslRW

By the time Silva was finally dethroned by Chris Weidman in 2013, he’d won 16 bouts in the octagon in a row, a record that, thus far, nobody has come close to beating.

Sure, ‘The Spider’ tested positive for banned substances in 2015 following his win over Nick Diaz and his career ended badly, with just one win in his final six bouts. However, that doesn’t take away from his accomplishments.

Put simply, for a time, there was no bigger star in MMA than Anderson Silva, and it’s a travesty that he hasn’t already been inducted into the Hall of Fame. Hopefully, it’s something that will change soon.

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5 players who are most likely to win the Ballon d’Or in 2028

The Ballon d’Or award is widely regarded as the most prestigious individual accolade in football. First presented by French news magazine France Football in 1956, the award recognizes the standout male footballer deemed to have performed best over the previous season. In its current format, the top 100 journalists from FIFA’s top 100 nations cast their votes to determine the Ballon d’Or winner.

With 12 Ballon d’Or awards shared between them, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have been the two brightest stars in the history of the award. Messi, with seven wins, holds the record for most Ballon d’Or wins, and by the looks of it, the World Cup winner could add another to his collection this year.

Brilliant as the pair are, even they cannot escape Father Time, meaning a new era is set to dawn sooner rather than later. Today, we will make a fun prediction of the post-Messi-Ronaldo era, check out which players could go on to win the award in the coming years.

Now, without further ado, let’s take a quick look at five players who could win the Ballon d’Or award five years from now, in 2028.

#5 Jude Bellingham

Borussia Dortmund v Sport-Club Freiburg - Bundesliga
Borussia Dortmund v Sport-Club Freiburg – Bundesliga

Borussia Dortmund’s 19-year-old central midfielder Jude Bellingham is one of the most sought-after players in the world right now. The England international, who is currently being chased by Liverpool and Real Madrid, could leave Dortmund in a big-money switch in the summer.

Bellingham is a gifted central midfielder who not only knows how to do damage higher up the pitch but can also hold down the fort. Bellingham has a penchant for scoring goals and his composure is beyond his years. Considering he picks the right club and continues his development, he could be one of the favorites for the 2028 Ballon d’Or.

Bellingham has scored 20 goals and provided 23 assists in 115 appearances for Dortmund in all competitions so far. In international football, he has one goal and two assists to his name in 22 games.

#4 Vinicius Junior

Real Madrid CF v Atletico de Madrid - Copa Del Rey Quarter Final
Real Madrid CF v Atletico de Madrid – Copa Del Rey Quarter Final

Real Madrid and Brazil winger Vinicius Junior has already become a superstar. The 22-year-old left-winger scored the winner in the 2022 Champions League final against Liverpool and finished in eighth place in the 2022 Ballon d’Or rankings.

In full flight, Vinicius Junior is a force to be reckoned with. He possesses blistering pace, has the innate ability to beat players in one-on-one duels, and works tirelessly from start to finish. For the Whites, Vinicius Junior has scored 49 goals and claimed 49 assists in 201 appearances across competitions. For Brazil, on the other hand, Vinicius Junior has scored twice and claimed two assists in 20 games.


Real Madrid and Brazil are two of the most ambitious teams in football and regularly find themselves competing for the biggest trophies. Considering the fact that winning the most prestigious accolades helps an individual greatly in the Ballon d’Or race, the odds are in Vinicius Junior’s favor to win the cherished award sooner rather than later.

#3 Pedri

Girona FC v FC Barcelona - LaLiga Santander
Girona FC v FC Barcelona – LaLiga Santander

Lionel Messi won six of his seven Ballon d’Or awards as a Barcelona player, with the club arming him with all the right ingredients to become an icon. Central midfielder Pedri could follow in Messi’s footsteps and bring the prestigious accolade to Camp Nou in the future.

At only 20 years of age, Pedri has already emerged as a natural leader in Barcelona’s midfield. He is confident with the ball at his feet, knows how to dictate the game’s tempo, has a knack for splitting defenses open with throughballs, and can also score. Since joining from Las Palmas in July 2020 (after a loan spell), Pedri has scored 15 goals and claimed seven assists in 102 games across competitions.

Pedri posted and deleted this story with a circle around his No. 8…He posted it after Barcelona went 8 points clear of Real Madrid 😅 https://t.co/Ba85mL5JjQ

With age on his side and great icons to learn from, Pedri has every right to fancy himself lifting the prized accolade in 2028.

#2 Erling Haaland

Tottenham Hotspur v Manchester City - Premier League
Tottenham Hotspur v Manchester City – Premier League

The Ballon d’Or award has a knack for favoring goalscorers, and Manchester City goalmachine Erling Haaland is one of the best in the business. Only 22 years of age, the Norwegian has demonstrated lethal finishing in two of Europe’s top five leagues: Germany’s Bundesliga and England’s Premier League.

Before joining Manchester City for a €60 million fee in the summer of 2022, Haaland scored a staggering 86 goals in 89 appearances in the Bundesliga. The strong and pacey center-forward has caught England by storm, scoring 25 goals in only 20 Premier League appearances. He has already shattered a few important Premier League records, becoming the quickest to score 20 league goals (14 games) and four hat-tricks (19 games).

Erling Haaland is still running away with the Premier League Golden Boot ⚽️ https://t.co/p6MEy30F60

Considering he manages to keep injuries at bay, he could easily be posing with the prestigious Ballon d’Or award in 2028.

#1 Kylian Mbappe

SL Benfica v Paris Saint-Germain: Group H - UEFA Champions Leagu
SL Benfica v Paris Saint-Germain: Group H – UEFA Champions Leagu

Kylian Mbappe, 24, is already hailed as one of the best players in the world, chances are, he will only get even better in the coming days. The Frenchman has proven himself to be a model athlete and has shown admirable mental fortitude in the last few years, making him the most likely to win the Ballon d’Or in the future.

The PSG superstar, who won the Golden Boot after scoring eight goals at the 2022 FIFA World Cup, possesses blistering pace, is a competent creator, and a lethal finisher. Mbappe has already scored 36 goals and provided 23 assists in 66 appearances for his country. At PSG, he has bagged 196 goals and claimed 94 assists in 243 appearances across competitions.

If he manages to maintain his run of form and racks up a few important trophies, he could land a Ballon d’Or or two by the time 2028 comes around.

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5 midfielders with the best passing ability in Europe this season (2022-23)

Midfielders form the backbone of a football team. They dictate the speed of the game, bring players into the fold, and carve open defenses by playing inch-perfect through balls into dangerous areas. Midfielders seldom enjoy the glory attackers do, but without them, the entire system tends to fall apart.

The top five European leagues have the privilege of fielding some of the most gifted midfielders on the planet. Many of the said world-class footballers have dazzled onlookers with their crisp passes this season, and today, we will briefly review their performances.

Now, without further ado, let’s take a swift look at the five midfielders with the best passing ability in the 2022-23 season:

#5 Toni Kroos — Real Madrid

Athletic Club v Real Madrid CF - LaLiga Santander
Athletic Club v Real Madrid CF – LaLiga Santander

For close to a decade, Real Madrid maestro Toni Kroos has reigned as one of Europe’s most efficient players. The German central midfield player is not as adventurous as some of the other names on this list today. However, when it comes to dictating play, there is hardly anyone better than the Real Madrid no. 8.

Kroos is adept at playing short passes and keeping the opposition on their toes. He also has the innate ability to switch play to wide areas with his long balls and is rarely dispossessed under pressure. In the 2022-23 La Liga season, Kroos averages 74.5 accurate passes (95% accuracy) and 6.3 accurate long balls (86% accuracy) per game. Overall, Kroos has played 15 La Liga matches this term, scoring twice and claiming two assists.

In the Champions League, he claimed two assists in five group-stage matches. There, he averaged 86.5 accurate passes (95% accuracy), eight long balls (87% accuracy), and 2.2 key passes per game.

#4 Joshua Kimmich — Bayern Munich

FC Bayern München v Eintracht Frankfurt - Bundesliga
FC Bayern München v Eintracht Frankfurt – Bundesliga

Bayern Munich’s right-back turned central midfielder Joshua Kimmich has been in red-hot form in the 2022-23 season. The Germany international has featured in 18 games in the Bundesliga this season, scoring thrice, providing three assists and creating six big chances. Kimmich averages 2.7 key passes, 70.4 accurate passes (89% accuracy), and 5.4 long balls (74% accuracy) per game in the Bundesliga.

Con este GOLAZO de Kimmich, el Bayern empató al Köln en los minutos finales del partido 🤩🤯. https://t.co/Prr3ogu3Kp

In the Champions League group stage, Kimmich claimed three assists and created four big chances in five games. He averaged 68.2 accurate passes (91% accuracy), 4.2 accurate long balls (68% accuracy), and 2.2 key passes in that round.

#3 Luka Modric — Real Madrid

Real Madrid v Valencia CF - Super Copa de España
Real Madrid v Valencia CF – Super Copa de España

Despite being firmly on the wrong side of 30, 37-year-old central midfielder Luka Modric has been one of Real Madrid’s best players this season. The Croatian superstar has been immaculate with his distribution, has worked harder than most, and has created goalscoring opportunities quite frequently.

In the 2022-23 La Liga campaign, Modric has featured in 17 matches, scoring twice, creating five big chances, and providing two assists. The former Tottenham Hotspur midfielder averages 1.3 key passes, 43.8 accurate passes (90% accuracy), and 2.4 accurate long balls (77% accuracy) per game.

The 2022 FIFA World Cup semi-finalist also looked sharp in the group stage of the 2022-23 Champions League, scoring twice in four games. He averaged 56.2 accurate passes (90% accuracy), 3.2 long balls (59% accuracy), and 0.8 key passes each game.

#2 Kevin De Bruyne — Manchester City

Manchester City v Wolverhampton Wanderers - Premier League
Manchester City v Wolverhampton Wanderers – Premier League

Arguably the best midfielder in the world right now, Manchester City ace Kevin De Bruyne is in a league of his own. Not only can he dictate the tempo of the game with his short passes in the middle of the park but also do damage with his defense-piercing passes higher up. An in-form De Bruyne can take on any midfield unit in the world and come out on top.

Since the start of the 2022-23 Premier League season, the Belgian has played 19 games, scoring thrice and providing 11 assists. He has created 20 big chances, the most in Europe; and played 20 accurate through balls. The midfielder averages 44.95 passes per game in the Premier League.

16 – Kevin De Bruyne has provided more assists in all competitions this season than any other player in Europe’s top five leagues (16), with seven of these assists resulting in Erling Haaland goals. Blueprint. https://t.co/fpMKWpiRYk

The former Chelsea man has been impressive in the UEFA Champions League as well. In the group stage, De Bruyne played four games, claiming three assists, creating two big chances, and averaging 2.5 key passes per game.

#1 Martin Odegaard — Arsenal

Arsenal FC v Manchester United - Premier League
Arsenal FC v Manchester United – Premier League

Arsenal are currently sitting at the top of the 2022-23 Premier League table, and their captain, Martin Odegaard, has emerged as the team’s best performer. The former Real Madrid man has been reliable in possession, exhibited immaculate vision, and unlocked defenses with his slide rule through balls.

In the English top flight this season, the Norwegian midfielder has scored eight goals, provided five assists, and created 10 big chances. He averages 34.8 accurate passes (82% accuracy), 2.2 key passes, and 1.6 accurate long balls (64% accuracy) long balls per game.

Mikel Arteta rarely deployed him in the group stages of the 2022-23 Europa League season. He averaged only 37 minutes over six games, starting only two matches. He created two big chances and averaged 1.3 key passes per game.

PSG at only 5th! Paul Merson ranks his 5 favorites for the Champions League this season. Click here

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From equaling Rafael Nadal in the Slam race to extending his own records in Melbourne: 5 milestones Novak Djokovic achieved with Australian Open glory

Perhaps it was inevitable, but Novak Djokovic still had to get out on court and do it, and he did so in style. The 35-year-old beat Stefanos Tsitsipas in straight sets on Sunday (January 29) to win a 10th Australian Open title and create more tennis history.

In a rematch of the pair’s 2021 Roland Garros matchup, Djokovic took on Tsitsipas in the title match at Melbourne Park with a lot at stake. The Serb was dialed in from the get go, grabbing the first break of the match to take the opener for the loss of just three games.

Tsitsipas, playing his first final at the Australian Open, began to grow into the contest in the second set. Serving first helped, as he put scoreboard pressure on Djokovic, who fell behind set point late in the second. To his credit, though, the Serb survived as a tiebreak ensued. Although he saw a 4-1 lead evaporate, Djokovic regrouped to take the second set and take control of the match.

Following a medical break at the start of the third, Djokovic dropped serve for the first time on the night, as Tsitsipas sought to find a way back. However, the Greek couldn’t capitalize on the break. At the same time, he kept up his strong level of play, with the scoreboard pressure against him this time.

Another tiebreak ensued, where Djokovic opened up a lead, arriving at three championship points, but Tstisipas was not ready to throw in the towel yet. He saved the first two but was powerless to save a third as the Serb hoisted aloft the winner’s trophy at Melbourne Park for a record-extending 10th time.

With the triumph, Novak Djokovic achieved a few milestones while also returning to World No. 1 for a record-extending 374th week. Here’s a look at a few of them:

#1 Novak Djokovic moves sole 4th in all-time men’s singles titles leaderboard

Novak Djokovic at the 2023 Australian Open
Novak Djokovic at the 2023 Australian Open

Novak Djokovic entered the Australian Open level with Rafael Nadal (92) in fourth place on the all-time men’s singles titles leaderboard, having triumphed in Adelaide at the start of the year.

Three weeks later, Djokovic triumphed at his bastion at Melbourne Park for a 10th time to go sole fourth on the leaderboard. The Serb is now only one behind third-placed Ivan Lendl (94), whom he could surpass later this year. Jimmy Connors (109) and Roger Federer (103) are the two players at the top.

93 – @DjokerNole has won his 93rd career ATP title, becoming the fourth men’s player with the most titles in the Open Era (surpassing Rafael Nadal – 92). Leap.#AusOpen https://t.co/E5PwxFR9XJ

With the win over Tsitsipas, Djokovic has now improved to 12-0 on the season, with his injury-plagued build-up to the tournament now a distant memory.

#2 Becomes 3rd oldest player in Open Era to win Australian Open

Novak Djokovic at the 2023 Australian Open
Novak Djokovic at the 2023 Australian Open

Novak Djokovic has not lost at the Australian Open since a fourth-round exit to Hyeon-Chung in 2018. That’s now a record 28 matches without defeat, two better than Andre Agassi, spanning four titles.

After missing the 2022 edition due to deportation following his medical exemption controversy, Djokovic returned to the winner’s podium at Melbourne Park in style, dropping just one set all week.

In the process, the 35-year-old became the third-oldest player in the Open Era to win the Australian Open.

3 – @DjokerNole is third oldest player in the Open Era to secure the title at the Australian Open, younger only than Ken Rosewall (in 1972 and 1971) and Roger Federer (2018). Gold. https://t.co/PHWE0VVB0q

Only Ken Rosewall (1971-72) and Roger Federer (2018) were older than Djokovic when they won at Melbourne Park.

#3 Second player in the Open Era to win his first 10 finals at a tournament

Novak Djokovic at the 2023 Australian Open
Novak Djokovic at the 2023 Australian Open

Novak Djokovic has extended his perfect record in Australian Open finals to a stunning 10-0.

In the process, he became only the second player in the Open Era to win his first ten finals at a tournament. Rafael Nadal (Roland Garros, Barcelona) is the first player to do so.

10 – @DjokerNole is the second male player in the Open Era to stay unbeaten in his first 10 finals in a single ATP tournament after Rafael Nadal (Roland Garros and Barcelona). Streak. #AusOpen https://t.co/NEDm9kD5Zh

It’s also the first instance of a male player winning a hardcourt Grand Slam on ten occasions.

#4 Moves level with Rafael Nadal for most Grand Slam titles by a male player

Djokovic won his tenth title.
Djokovic won his tenth title.

With his win over Tstisipas, Novak Djokovic moved level with Rafael Nadal (22) for most Grand Slam singles titles by a male player in the Open Era. The Spaniard was the defending champion at Melbourne Park but lost in the second round.

22 – @DjokerNole has equalled Rafael Nadal as the men’s player with the joint-most Grand Slam titles in the Open Era (22). Including women, he has equalled Steffi Graf (22) – only Serena Williams has more (23). Goat?#AusOpen https://t.co/DB0u49LPaD

Djokovic is now level with Steffi Graf on the Open Era Grand Slam singles leaderboard, with only Serena Williams (23) ahead of the pack.

#5 Second male player in Open Era to win same Grand Slam 15 years apart

Djokovic at the 2023 Australian Open - Day 14
Djokovic at the 2023 Australian Open – Day 14

Novak Djokovic continued his love affair with Melbourne Park, the venue of his first Grand Slam title 15 years ago.

A decade and a half later, Djokovic returned to the venue to win a record-extending 10th title. In the process, he became only the second male player in the Open Era to win the same Grand Slam 15 years apart.

2 – @DjokerNole is the second male player in the Open Era to win a single Grand Slam title 15+ years after the first in the tournament (Australian Open 2008 – 2023), after Rafael Nadal (17 years between the Roland Garros 2005 and 2022). Unstoppable. #AusOpen https://t.co/X7ECxtLs2v

Only Rafael Nadal stands ahead of Djokovic in this respect, winning his first Roland Garros title in 2005 and his 14th in 2022, spanning 17 years.

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5 Things WWE RAW XXX got right: Sami Zayn survives; Brock Lesnar returns

WWE RAW XXX had some massive matches set for the show as the creative team went all out on Monday night. Sami Zayn went through a trial at the hands of The Tribal Chief after WWE scrapped The Bloodline Acknowledgement Ceremony.

Becky Lynch and Bayley were set to compete inside a steel cage on the show. However, the match was scrapped, possibly because of the lack of time on the show. Dakota Kai and IYO SKY attacked Lynch before the match, as Damage CTRL punished her even more to end the segment.

Austin Theory defended his United States Championship against Bobby Lashley. Meanwhile, several legends appeared throughout the night to make things more exciting for fans.

Take a look at the five things WWE RAW XXX got right this week.

#5. The Trial of Sami Zayn on WWE RAW XXX

Sami Zayn was put to the test on WWE RAW.
Sami Zayn was put to the test on WWE RAW.

The Trial of Sami Zayn was arguably the biggest announcement for WWE RAW XXX. After Hulk Hogan and Jimmy Hart started the show, the creative team immediately jumped into the segment.

Roman Reigns came out with the rest of The Bloodline. Paul Heyman ripped into Zayn and claimed he was with Kevin Owens from the start. He showed some clips to prove his point and said that Zayn wanted to supplant Reigns as The Tribal Chief.

The Honorary Uce said that he was hurt that this was happening to him after all he had done for The Bloodline. Reigns gave the verdict by telling Solo Sikoa to take him out with the Samoan Spike before Jey Uso intervened.

He spoke up for Zayn and played a video to show how loyal The Honorary Uce had been to the family. Reigns changed his mind and said that Zayn was not guilty – for now. However, he would have to prove his loyalty at the Royal Rumble.

The segment was slow and well done. Jey Uso jumping in to save Zayn from the Samoan Spike was the cherry on the cake. The storyline has become even more entertaining, and it will be interesting to see if Sami betrays Roman at Royal Rumble.

#4. The Usos retained their RAW Tag Team Championship thanks to Sami Zayn

Jey Uso's trust in Zayn paid off.
Jey Uso’s trust in Zayn paid off.

The opening segment bled into The Usos’ RAW Tag Team Championship defense against Judgment Day. Jimmy Uso and Damian Priest squared off, and The Usos took control of the contest early on WWE RAW XXX.

Priest sent Jimmy onto the announcers’ desk before being isolated by Judgment Day. The champion bounced back and hit a few good moves before sustaining a knee injury.

It looked like The Usos would have to forfeit their titles as Jimmy could not compete, but Sami Zayn stepped up and asked Adam Pearce to let him fight. Sami was all fired up throughout the contest and hit a few explosive moves.

Rhea Ripley interfered in the match, allowing Priest to hit Zayn with the South of Heaven. Dominik attempted the 619, but Jey rocked him with a Superkick. Ripley caused another distraction, but Zayn helped Jey stay alive in the match.

Jey and Sami teamed up to hit 1D on Dom to pick up a massive win to retain the RAW Tag Team Championship for The Usos.

This was another great segment that built Zayn up in The Bloodline. He saved The Usos from losing their titles just minutes after nearly being taken out by the faction. It added more depth to the story and showed that Sami was ready to do anything for the family. Working alongside Jey to save the titles made things even sweeter.

Do you want some Bloodline magic in your home? Get official merchandise at !

#3. Imperium got a taste of its own medicine on WWE RAW XXX

DX got a realistic segment on WWE RAW XXX.
DX got a realistic segment on WWE RAW XXX.

D-Generation X came out on WWE RAW XXX before Kurt Angle joined them and said he always wanted to be a part of the faction. Triple H said that he would have to pass the test before Imperium walked out to the ring.

GUNTHER said that he wanted to make the mat sacred again before challenging the veterans to a match. One by one, all members of DX backed out, saying they were old and retired. Kurt Angle tried to ignore the entire scenario before Seth Rollins, and The Street Profits came out to answer the challenge.

Teddy Long made the match official, and Angle joined in as the guest referee. Giovanni Vinci fought off Seth Rollins and Montez Ford for his side before the Profits took control of the contest.

GUNTHER went after Angle for being biased and punished his opponents with some big moves. The Profits fired back, and Rollins took out GUNTHER with a pedigree.

Vinci suffered the finishing moves from the babyfaces as Rollins, and The Street Profits emerged victoriously. Surprisingly, Vinci took the fall again to lose the match for his team on RAW.

This was another solid match and segment that lit up WWE RAW XXX. All the men involved played their part well, and it was great to see D-Generation X accept that they were too old to fight now.

#2. The Undertaker passed the torch to Bray Wyatt

LA Knight came out on WWE RAW and took some shots at Bray Wyatt. He asked any of the legends in the back to show up and face him in the ring.

The lights went out, and The Undertaker’s gong echoed. The Deadman rode to the ring on a bike to stun the former Million Dollar Champion.

Knight tried to talk his way out of the situation before Wyatt showed up in the ring. Taker grabbed Knight by the throat and shoved him into Wyatt, who hit him with Sister Abigail.

Wyatt and The Undertaker stared each other down before The Deadman whispered something to The Eater of Worlds and walked out on RAW.

Knight has done extremely well as a heel, but one can hope that he doesn’t get turned into another Baron Corbin. The Undertaker shoved Knight into Bray Wyatt, and it looked like he was passing the torch onto the former Universal Champion. Fans have compared the two men in the past, and it was wise of the creative team to book this segment.

#1. Brock Lesnar returned to cost Bobby Lashley the United States Championship match

Several fans knew something was on the cards after Austin Theory’s United States Championship match against Bobby Lashley was turned into a No Disqualification Match. The two men competed in the main event of WWE RAW XXX.

The All Mighty took control early and threw Theory into the barricades before the young superstar hit back with some suplexes. Theory tried to use a steel chair, but Lashley sent him outside the ring.

The US Champion broke the Hurt Lock ad and stayed alive even though Lashley was clearly on top in the match. He sprayed The All Mighty with a fire extinguisher and sent him into the steel steps.

Lashley put Theory through a table before Brock Lesnar made his return. The Beast Incarnate hit Lashley with an F5 before hitting another to Theory on top of him, allowing the young superstar to pin him for the win on RAW.

Lesnar’s return changes the mood of the show once again. He will probably face Lashley at the upcoming Royal Rumble match to settle who is the real monster in the company. Surprisingly, Omos or MVP did not come out to help The All Mighty in this situation.

Rhea Ripley just said she’d love to enter the men’s Rumble. Watch Lashley’s hilarious reaction here

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5 things WWE NXT New Year’s Evil got right: Unexpected end to championship match; controversial finish in Battle Royal

WWE NXT New Year’s Evil had a few big matches scheduled for its second show of the year. Bron Breakker was set to defend his NXT Championship against Grayson Waller in one of the biggest matches on the show.

A few more challengers for the top titles of the brand were crowned throughout the night. Wes Lee found his next opponent for the NXT North American Championship, while a returning team became the next challenger for the New Day’s titles.

A Battle Royal was also set to determine Roxanne Perez’s opponent for Vengeance Day. Overall, it turned out to be a productive night for the brand.

Take a look at the five things WWE NXT New Year’s Evil got right this year.

#5. Dijak became Wes Lee’s next challenger for the NXT North American Championship

Dijak became the next challenger for the NXT North American Championship.
Dijak became the next challenger for the NXT North American Championship.

Dijak and Tony D’Angelo competed in a #1 contender’s match for the WWE NXT North American Championship. Wes Lee joined the commentary team as the two big men took to the ring.

Dijak took control early and also dished out some punishment to Channing “Stacks” Lorenzo. The latter tried to protect D’Angelo throughout the match, and the focus turned from the match to their relationship as a family.

Tony hit a spinebuster for a near fall before Dijak exploded with a Superkick and a Chokeslam. Stacks tried to help D’Angelo, but The Don told him to get out of the way and take care of his business.

The distraction allowed Dijak to hit Cyclone Kill and pick up the win to become Lee’s next challenger. The match was decent, and Dijak got the spotlight he needed. It’s time that WWE gives him the recognition he deserves and puts the North American Championship on him.

#4. Jinder Mahal joined Indus Sher to surprise The Creed Brothers

Jinder Mahal could become a top star in WWE NXT.
Jinder Mahal could become a top star in WWE NXT.

The Creed Brothers came out for their match against Indus Sher, but Sanga was out without Veer. It looked like fans would get a handicap match between the two sides at WWE NXT New Year’s Evil before a main roster superstar made a surprise appearance.

Jinder Mahal came out to attack the Creeds and sent Julius into the ring post before laying him out with the Khallas. Meanwhile, Sanga took Brutus out and sent him into the steel steps.

Later in the night, Mahal got a singles match against Julius Creed. The babyface took control early on before Jinder hit him with a Spinebuster. Julius did not stay down for long and got a couple of near falls.

Sanga distracted Julius, allowing Jinder to avoid a dive off the top rope. The distraction helped Mahal hit a big kick, followed by Khallas for the win.

The former WWE Champion has been working aimlessly on the main roster for years now. Moving to the NXT roster could be a good move for Jinder, especially if Veer is out of action for some time. He works flawlessly as a heel.

#3. Gallus returned to lay out Pretty Deadly on WWE NXT

Pretty Deadly looked to earn a shot at New Day’s WWE NXT Tag Team Championship this week. They competed in a gauntlet match against three teams this week.

The first team turned out to be a few enhancement talents who couldn’t do much against the former champions. After a couple of double-team moves, Pretty Deadly picked up the win with Spilt Milk.

Edris Enofe and Malik Blade came out as the second team to face Pretty Deadly. The two men fought against Elton Prince and Kit Wilson and nearly picked up the win with a Spinebuster.

Blade hit a Frog Splash for another near fall before a brawl broke out between the two sides. Prince rolled up his opponent and picked up the win off an inside cradle.

Gallus made its return to WWE NXT and surprised the heel team. Mark Coffey went hard at Pretty Deadly before Wolfgang tagged in to take control. The two men toyed around with Wilson and Prince before hitting their finisher to pick up a dominant win.

Gallus’ return will bolster the NXT tag team division. The faction is among the best tag teams in the company. New Day will probably have a tough time retaining their titles against Coffey and his men at Vengeance Day.

#2. Grayson Waller and Bron Breakker couldn’t bring their match to a decisive end

The NXT Championship match had a botched ending.
The NXT Championship match had a botched ending.

Grasyon Waller challenged Bron Breakker for the WWE NXT Championship. The heel tried to run away from the match early, but he was met with a big slam and a standing moonsault when he returned.

The Australian Superstar mounted a comeback and hit a suplex, but Bron was too powerful for him. The two superstars exchanged moves before the champion was sent into the turnbuckles. One of the buckles snapped, and officials had to fix it.

Waller stayed on the attack once the action picked up again and dodged a Spear before hitting a big knee strike. He went for a move off the ropes, but the turnbuckles snapped again, throwing Waller to the outside.

The challenger was counted out as he couldn’t make it back to the ring, and Breakker retained his title. Later in the night, Shawn Michaels announced that the two superstars would meet again for the title at Vengeance Day, this time inside a Steel Cage.

The match itself was good, and WWE found a different way to end it while protecting both superstars. It will keep Breakker busy for some time as he has run through many challengers over the past four months.

#1. Gigi Dolin and Jacy Jayne became the challengers for Roxanne Perez’s NXT Women’s Championship

The entire women’s roster had its eyes on the NXT Women’s Championship as the 20-woman Battle Royal took off in the main event. Cora Jade went out of the ring before Tatum Paxley was eliminated.

The ring quickly emptied as Lash Legend eliminated Amari Miller. Sol Ruca saved herself from elimination and headed back into the ring by walking on her hands.

Jade returned to the ring before being sent out almost immediately. Fans were surprised when Wendy Choo, Nikkita Lyons, and Zoey Stark were also eliminated from the contest.

Alba Fyre, Lyra Valkyria, Jacy Jayne, and Gigi Dolin were the final four in the ring. Valkyria eliminated Fyre before Cora Jade came back to eliminate her.

Jayne and Dolin were the final two in the ring and went at each other to determine who would face Perez. They fought outside on the apron and fell at the same time, confusing the referees. In the end, they were both announced as the winners of the match.

The match was good as it had some interesting spots. It also led to the ignition of some new rivalries. However, the finish could have been much better as both women could have jumped out of the ring simultaneously to show that it was all a part of their plan.

The match between Perez and Toxic Attraction will be good as the champion will have to face two heels who have worked together for several months. A win would help Perez get a massive boost.

Will WWE be sold to Saudi Arabian investors? Our experts investigate here.

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5 under-the-radar fighters who actually have great UFC records

The UFC’s roster is now a huge, sprawling list of over 600 fighters. Unsurprisingly, a number of them end up flying under the radar of the fans.

Right now, the UFC is home to a number of top-class fighters who are under the radar, but actually have surprisingly great octagon records.

Whether these fighters can find a way to break out as stars in 2023, or whether they continue to be unheralded, remains a question mark right now. However, it’s safe to say that in terms of their skills, they’re all well worth watching.

Here are five under-the-radar fighters who actually have great UFC records.

#5. Roman Dolidze – UFC record: 6-1

Roman Dolidze should find himself ranked in the UFC's middleweight division in the near future
Roman Dolidze should find himself ranked in the UFC’s middleweight division in the near future

This past weekend saw Georgian middleweight Roman Dolidze pick up his biggest UFC win to date, as he stopped longtime veteran Jack Hermansson via TKO in the second round.

Prior to the bout, which Dolidze took on late notice, Hermansson was ranked at No.8 in the division. Therefore, it’s likely that Dolidze may well end up rising into the top 15 at worse when the rankings are next updated.

However, while he’ll definitely come into view for many fans going into 2023, it’s arguable that the Georgian should already have garnered some notable hype even prior to the Hermansson bout.

After all, his current octagon record stands at a hugely impressive 6-1, with four of those wins finished via KO or TKO. More to the point, his single loss to Trevin Giles in March 2021 came under controversial circumstances. Many fans felt that Dolidze, who was making his debut at 185 pounds, deserved the nod from the judges.

Essentially, Dolidze is a classic example of an exciting fighter who has slowly climbed up the mountain in the UFC, taking on tougher opponents each time until it becomes impossible to ignore him. Judging by his current form, 2023 should see him finally become a known quantity to the fans.

#4. Damir Ismagulov – UFC record: 5-0

Damir Ismagulov has yet to lose a fight in the UFC
Damir Ismagulov has yet to lose a fight in the UFC

A glance at the UFC’s top-15 lightweights shows a number of the promotion’s biggest star names, from Islam Makhachev and Dustin Poirier to Michael Chandler, Justin Gaethje and Conor McGregor.

However, one name in the rankings that might well go unnoticed is Damir Ismagulov. Currently ranked at No.12, it’s likely that many fans, particularly casual ones, wouldn’t be able to pick the Russian out of a line-up.

Despite this, Ismagulov has a remarkably strong octagon record of 5-0, compiled over the past four years. In fact, he hasn’t lost a bout in MMA overall since September 2015, giving him one of the lengthiest win streaks on the UFC’s roster.

So why aren’t more people talking about him? The likelihood is because Ismagulov has yet to finish an opponent inside the octagon.

Sure, it’s not like he’s been squashing overmatched foes; Guram Kutateladze and Thiago Moises are extremely tricky fighters. However, it’s harder for the promotion to market someone without at least one highlight-reel finish.

Despite this, Ismagulov clearly does have plenty of striking power – he hurt Kutateladze badly on the feet and has 12 pre-UFC knockouts to his name. So, if he can pick up his first finish in 2023, he should no longer fly under the radar for anyone.

#3. Chris Gutierrez – UFC record: 7-1-1

Chris Gutierrez may have a lot of momentum after ending the career of Frankie Edgar
Chris Gutierrez may have a lot of momentum after ending the career of Frankie Edgar

When former UFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar announced his plans to retire after one final fight last month, many fans were stunned that Chris Gutierrez was chosen as his last ever opponent.

After all, the promotion had always tended to use aging veterans to build up hot prospects on their way out, and yet Gutierrez was flying under the radar for most fans leading into the bout.

However, in reality, maybe ‘El Guapo’ should’ve garnered more hype. He came into his clash with Edgar with an outstanding octagon record of 6-1-1, with his only loss coming to Raoni Barcelos in his 2018 debut.

More to the point, two of his losses had come in violent fashion, including a spinning backfist finish of Danaa Batgerel. Many fans also felt he deserved the nod in his draw with Cody Durden, which saw him recover from a bad first round to take the final two stanzas.

Gutierrez was able to turn out the lights on Edgar’s octagon career last month, but given that ‘The Answer’ was already badly damaged prior to that fight, it seems that ‘El Guapo’ remains under the radar.

Chris Gutierrez stops Frankie Edgar 😳A perfect knee up the middle ends this one early #UFC281 https://t.co/M5A0A1VKYq

If he can continue to win, particularly in the same entertaining fashion that he did against Edgar, that could well change in 2023.

#2. Grant Dawson – UFC record: 7-0-1

Grant Dawson is on a hugely impressive winning streak
Grant Dawson is on a hugely impressive winning streak

Usually, any fighter able to put together an unbeaten UFC record over the course of eight fights would garner plenty of hype, particularly if they’d been able to finish five of their seven wins.

However, that hasn’t been the case for Grant Dawson, who not only remains under the radar with the fans, but also seemingly with the promotion itself. Despite his outstanding record, ‘KGD’ remains unranked.

Why is this? The likely explanation is that Dawson has floated between weight classes during his run with the UFC, with his first three wins coming at 145 pounds and his fourth coming at a 150-pound catchweight.

Since early 2021, Dawson has fought exclusively as a lightweight, although he did miss weight for his recent late-notice bout with Mark Madsen. Given that none of his four victims at 155 pounds were ranked prior to their fights with him, it makes sense that ‘KGD’ hasn’t cracked the top 15 yet.

Despite this, it’s clear that Dawson is ready for a run at the elite. Prior to their bout, Madsen was a 12-0 hot prospect who looked set for a push towards the top, and so it’s only fair that ‘KGD’ now gets that opportunity.

He might not be the most charismatic fighter on the roster, but Dawson is certainly legit, and so hopefully, 2023 will give him a chance to prove that against the best in the world.

#1. Belal Muhammad – UFC record: 13-3-1

Belal Muhammad is too good to fly under the radar for much longer
Belal Muhammad is too good to fly under the radar for much longer

Most fighters who crack the UFC’s top 10 in their weight class can no longer be seen to be flying under the radar, but somehow, it still feels like welterweight contender Belal Muhammad is being unfairly ignored.

‘Remember the Name’ has a remarkably strong octagon record of 13-3-1, he hasn’t lost a fight since January 2019, and he’s coming off a brutal knockout finish of a highly-touted prospect in Sean Brady.

Despite this, many fans just don’t mention him in terms of possible title contenders at 170 pounds, preferring to discuss the likes of Khamzat Chimaev, Colby Covington and Gilbert Burns.

To say that it’s tricky to understand would be an understatement. With wins over Vicente Luque, Stephen Thompson and Demian Maia on his ledger alongside that win over Brady, Muhammad’s record stacks up against any other welterweight in the promotion.

More interestingly, it’s not like Muhammad isn’t charismatic, either. In fact, he’s arguably one of the better microphone workers in the division.

Basically, it feels like he simply can’t go ignored for much longer – and one more big win in 2023 could push him over the edge towards stardom.

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