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Does MMA Have a New Heavyweight Superstar?

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MMA Fighter Celebrating in the Cage

Ever since the days of Dan Severin, MMA fans have known that of all the martial arts out there wrestling is the best base. Well, Ben “Vanilla Thunder” Tynan has been wrestling in spades. Tynan is a Canadian Junior Freestyle National Champion and even wrestled at North Dakota State, where he competed in the NCAA Division I National Championships.

The 6 ft 3 hulking heavyweight isn’t just a lay-and-prayer, he’s also a master grappler with some seriously impressive submission skills. In his last fight with Ji Won Kang, he secured the win with a lovely arm triangle. That isn’t Tynan’s only finishing move, the Canadian has finished fights via armbars, keylocks, and even guillotines.

Tynan is Undefeated

After giving up on wrestling, Tynan saw a potential path to riches in MMA. He had his first amateur MMA bout back in 2017, and his career couldn’t have gone smoother. From 2017 to 2021, Vanilla Thunder had seven amateur fights, winning them all by stoppage. During his amateur career, Tynan showed impressive athleticism and was clearly a level or two above his competition.

The Canadian heavyweight then turned pro in 2022 and quickly amassed a perfect 5-0 record. Again, not a single fighter has gone the distance with Tynan, who has no problem ending fights via powerful strikes or bone-breaking submissions.

Tynan has recently signed with One FC, which is considered one of the premier MMA organizations in the world. His last fight was meant to be his toughest test against 6-1 Ji Won Kang but nobody told Vanilla Thunder that. The 30-year-old carved through his opponent before eventually finishing him with a super-tight arm-triangle choke in the 3rd round.

Vanilla Thunder is a Future Champion

Standing at 6 ft 3 and weighing 240 pounds, Ben Tynan has the perfect physique for MMA. He uses his imposing size combined with world-class wrestling skills to send his opponents to the canvas. He then unleashes a hail of punches before looking for the submission finish.

Tynan’s opponents look helpless as he pins them down. He’s a master at securing the crucifix position, where he pins both opponents’ arms and rains down punch after punch. Vanilla Thunder is known for his incredible strength, and he’s yet to face a fighter who can handle his wrestling prowess.

The Canadian is very gifted when it comes to grappling and has immense grip strength. You can see his Jiu-Jitsu and wrestling skills on full display in his last fight against Kang. The Mighty Warrior had no answers as Tynan lay on him and smashed him with heavy ground and pound.

Tynan Needs to Work on His Stand Up Game

While Tynan definitely has grappling and wrestling down pat, his stand-up game is another story. Vanilla Thunder didn’t grow up boxing or kickboxing, and at the moment, you can tell. He makes a lot of basic mistakes, such as dropping his hands too much, not judging distance correctly, and winging his shots.

If Tynan is going to become heavyweight champ, he needs to level up his striking as soon as possible. His striking has already improved significantly since he turned pro, so it’s only a matter of time before the Canadian develops striking as good as his compatriot, GSP.

His Next Fight is Against Duke Didier

In Tynan’s next fight, he’ll take on Duke Didier, who currently has a record of 8-2. The tough Australian has never been stopped and will definitely test the Canadian’s stamina. 

Tynan will have to rely heavily on his wrestling skills to get the victory. However, he needs to be careful on the ground. Didier is also a master grappler with numerous submission victories. He has a particularly nasty omoplata. 

Didier isn’t a big striker, but he still has better hands than Tynan. Vanilla Thunder should close the distance, secure the clinch, and get the takedown as soon as possible. After getting the takedown, Vanilla Thunder should look for heavy ground and pound before transitioning to mount and finishing with his slick arm triangle.

If Tynan can get past Didier, that could set up a fight with undefeated Russian Anatoly Malykhin. If he can get the W over Malykhin, expect the Canadian to head over to the UFC and quickly jump into the top 10!

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UFC

Alex Pereira vs. Jiří Procházka to Headline UFC 303 After McGregor Withdrawal

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Alex Pereira vs. Jiří Procházka UFC 303

Conor McGregor’s UFC comeback will be further delayed as he has withdrawn from his UFC 303 fight against Michael Chandler due to injury. UFC president Dana White confirmed the news on Thursday, stating only that McGregor had sustained an injury.

UFC Shake-Up

The main event, originally set for June 29, will now feature a light heavyweight title rematch between champion Alex Pereira and former champion Jiri Procházka. Pereira previously claimed the belt by defeating Procházka via second-round TKO at UFC 295 last November.

Additionally, the co-main event, initially slated to be between former light heavyweight champ Jamahal Hill and Carlos Ulberg, has also been reshuffled due to Hill’s injury. Brian Ortega will now face Diego Lopes, while Ulberg will take on Anthony Smith.

This upheaval comes as another blow to the UFC, following the disruption of the Fight Night event scheduled for the week before UFC 303. The main event between Khamzat Chimaev and Robert Whittaker was derailed due to a medical issue with Chimaev, prompting the UFC to announce that Whittaker would instead fight Ikram Aliskerov.

Inconsistent McGregor

McGregor’s last appearance in the Octagon was at UFC 264 in July 2021, where he lost to Dustin Poirier via TKO after breaking his tibia at the end of the first round. It has been over four years since McGregor’s last victory and nearly eight years since his last title fight win.

Rumors of McGregor’s withdrawal had been circulating for more than a week. Speculation grew after a scheduled press conference with Chandler was abruptly postponed on June 3, with little explanation from the UFC. As rumors and a video of McGregor partying with his fiancée circulated, McGregor posted on X, attributing the postponement to “a series of obstacles” but maintaining his eagerness to fight again.

McGregor’s last bout against Poirier was marked by a heated exchange and a broken leg, ending in a loss that led to soul-searching for the former champion. McGregor, who has never defended a UFC title and was stripped of both due to inactivity, took a slow recovery route, focusing on his business ventures and making his acting debut in the “Road House” adaptation.

Chandler’s Disappointment

Despite Chandler’s reassurances and ongoing promotion of the fight, veteran MMA journalist Ariel Helwani reported increased pessimism about the bout’s likelihood. Helwani later confirmed McGregor’s injury had occurred a day or two before the postponed press conference, and McGregor’s camp had hoped he could recover in time.

Chandler remained relatively quiet during the fallout of the UFC 303 main event. While he tweeted quotes intermittently to divert attention, he did not directly address the speculation. The former Bellator champion did share a message on Instagram through his sponsor, megafitmeals, a day after the cancellation.

This development is particularly tough on Chandler, who had been patient for what would have been the most lucrative fight of his career. Chandler last fought in November 2022, losing to Poirier. He and McGregor were set up as coaches on “The Ultimate Fighter,” but the fight date was delayed for months amid disputes over McGregor’s reentry into the USADA testing pool.

“[Conor McGregor] was never the safe bet as an opponent; he was always the highest risk,” Chandler wrote. “Maybe the highest reward… but the biggest opportunity. There is no right or wrong in business… you only take risks to grow or remain comfortable where you are.

Now, with his return to the UFC postponed once again, questions loom about how much longer the promotion can support and accommodate McGregor.

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Countdown to UFC 302

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UFC 302 matchups

As the excitement builds for UFC 302, fight fans around the world are gearing up for a night of electrifying matchups and high-stakes showdowns. This event promises to deliver unforgettable moments, featuring a stacked fight card with some of the sport’s most dynamic athletes. To prepare, we will look at the top 3 fights on UFC 302 this Saturday June 1st. 

Islam Makhachev vs Dustin Poirier

Islam Makhachev, born in Makhachkala, Dagestan, Russia, began his journey in MMA under the instruction of Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov, the father of his close friend and former world champion, Khabib Nurmagomedov. Makhachev’s background in combat sambo, in which he is a world champion, heavily influences his fighting style. Known for his dominant grappling, suffocating top control, and relentless pressure, Makhachev has developed into one of the most formidable lightweights in the UFC. As of now, he holds an impressive professional record of 25-1-0, with the majority of his victories coming via submission or decision, showcasing his prowess on the ground. Makhachev continues to train at the American Kickboxing Academy (AKA) in San Jose, California, alongside other elite fighters, maintaining the Dagestani legacy in mixed martial arts.

Dustin Poirier embarked on his MMA career in 2009, quickly rising through the ranks with his relentless work ethic and versatile striking. Poirier’s preferred fighting style combines crisp boxing with powerful leg kicks, complemented by his Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt. This blend of skills has allowed him to finish fights both on the feet and on the ground. With a professional record of 30-8-0, Poirier has become a mainstay in the UFC’s lightweight division.

With Islam the favorite at around -600 odds, it is no doubt that everyone thinks he will be the winner. If Islam can take the fight to the ground, it could be an easy paycheck for him. However, if the fight can stay standing, Dustin’s experience in striking can prove to be the deciding factor in this fight.

Sean Strickland vs Paulo Costa

Sean Strickland began his MMA career at the age of 16, transitioning from a troubled youth to a disciplined martial artist. Strickland is known for his aggressive striking style, which is characterized by relentless forward pressure and a high volume of punches. He is a versatile fighter, capable of utilizing both his striking and grappling to secure victories. Strickland has compiled an impressive professional record, with many wins coming by way of knockout or decision.

Paulo Costa, also known as “The Eraser,” hails from Belo Horizonte, Brazil, and began his MMA journey inspired by his brother and the legendary martial artist Bruce Lee. Costa is renowned for his explosive power and aggressive fighting style, often overwhelming opponents with his striking and physicality. His preferred style is to engage in stand-up battles, leveraging his knockout power to finish fights early. Interesting fact: Before fully committing to his MMA career, Costa worked as a real estate agent and even appeared on a Brazilian reality TV show, highlighting his diverse background and charismatic personality.

It is difficult to see this fight going to the ground since most of their fights have stayed standing. Sean’s willingness to walk forward even while taking large amounts of damage may prove to be his downfall. Costa’s power and efficiency can take Sean down if he gets caught. However, Costa may not want the fight so close to him and can become overwhelmed by Sean’s onslaught. 

Kevin Holland vs Michal Oleksiejczuk

Kevin Holland began his MMA career in 2015 after transitioning from Kung Fu and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Known for his eclectic and unorthodox striking style, Holland’s fighting approach is characterized by his long reach, agility, and dynamic striking techniques, which include a mix of punches, kicks, and elbows. He has a reputation for being a highly active fighter, often taking multiple fights within a short period. Holland has compiled an impressive record, with half of his wins by knockout.

Michał Oleksiejczuk, from Łęczna, Poland, began his professional MMA career in 2014. Known for his powerful and precise striking, Oleksiejczuk prefers to stand and trade blows with his opponents, often looking for the knockout with his heavy hands. His fighting style is aggressive, relying on his boxing skills and ability to control the pace of the fight. 

This fight can be expected to be a striking matchup unless Holland decides to take the fight to the ground. Kevin’s reach advantage looks to be a deciding factor as he will look to exploit it during the fight. If Michal doesn’t finish Holland early, the fight could go Kevin’s way with his level head and stoicism during fights, minus his talking. 

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Jose Aldo Dominates Jonathan Martinez at UFC 301

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Jose Aldo fighting

The MMA world was in shock when former UFC Featherweight Champion Jose Aldo announced his return to the octagon. The Brazilian had officially retired after copping a beating from Merab Dvalishvili at UFC 278.

After two years away from the ring, Aldo decided he wanted to finish the last remaining fight on his contract. The UFC fed him the number 12 ranked bantamweight contender Jonathan Martinez. This was no easy task, seeing as Martinez was riding a six-fight win streak with victories over Cub Swanson and Said Nurmagomedov.

We guess no one told Aldo about ring rust because the Brazilian looked phenomenal in his return. He dominated the match, winning a lopsided unanimous decision. Even better, Aldo got the victory in front of his home crowd in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The fans went berserk, cheering on their hero as he let punches fly in Martinez’s direction. Unfortunately, Aldo and the fans were robbed of a stoppage finish.

The Crowd Screams Uh Vai Morrer!

Aldo came out, stalking Martinez as the younger fighter attempted to keep him at bay with his jab. Martinez threw a sloppy low kick, which was immediately counted by Aldo, who responded with a three-shot combination. 

Both fighters were feeling each other out. Aldo continued to walk down Martinez but couldn’t quite find his range. Martinez went for a takedown, but it had no chance of working. As the round one progressed, Aldo started ripping Martinez to the body. 

Despite Martinez landing a nice body kick, Aldo continued to stalk him. Then Aldo landed his best punch, a strong overhand right. The Brazilian’s feints started working, and his combos began touching the American.

Martinez Tries to Up His Aggressiveness

Martinez came out in round two with a new approach. He took the center of the octagon and refused to let Aldo push him around. Unfortunately for the American, Aldo landed a nasty inside low kick and then threw a three-punch combo, which forced Martinez to back up.

Aldo continued to land hard shots to the body. Martinez started to look a bit desperate in the octagon and shot a Hail Mary takedown, which was effortlessly stuffed by the veteran Brazilian fighter.

Martinez forced a clinch and tried to catch his breath. The ref let the fighters hang out in the clinch for far too long before eventually breaking them apart. Then Aldo landed a nice right hand and followed it up with hard shots to the body.

Martinez started taking more risks and letting his hands go. Unfortunately for the American, it opened him up to be counted. Aldo relished the opportunity and continually landed brutal shots. Aldo was consistently finding angles and used his feints to walk Martinez onto shots. Martinez almost landed a spinning back fist that could’ve spelled disaster for the Brazilian, but it just missed.

The Third and Final Round

Martinez clearly lost the first two rounds and needed a finish to get the win. He came out aggressive but again walked onto big punches from Aldo. He started to build something there, but Aldo is so savvy. He knows how to manage things. 

Martinez had some success with 1-2 combinations, but Aldo continued to respond with his own shots. Martinez started trading with Aldo in the pocket. Then the Brazilian landed a huge left hand, which seriously hurt Martinez.

Aldo swarmed for the finish and took the American down. He passed Martinez’s guard and progressed to mount. But the American escaped and managed to stand up. Ultimately, the Brazilian had to settle for a decision win.

What’s Next for Jose Aldo?

Aldo wants to make another title run and reclaim his bantamweight belt. After his last fight, he’s no longer under contract with the UFC, but there’s a matching clause, so the Brazilian is a restricted free agent. He plans to stick in the UFC and will meet with Dana White to discuss his next moves. 

In an ideal world, the Brazilian wants a title shot against champ Sean O’Malley in his next fight. After his epic career, he surely deserves to jump the queue. Dana has yet to confirm Aldo’s next fight, but that match against O’Malley would be a blockbuster! 

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