Almeida Wants to Show Giving Up Weight Won’t Slow Rise to the Top

December 18, 2023
4 months

Jailton Almeida isn’t the world’s biggest heavyweight. During Almeida’s last fight with former title challenger Derrick Lewis, Almeida gave up 30 points to Lewis. From the start of the fight, Almeida put Lewis on his back and kept him there. While Almeida couldn’t get a stoppage despite spending most of the fight in the mount, he established himself as a legitimate threat in the heavyweight division.

Almeida can continue to build his case for a title shot by beating long-time contender Curtis Blaydes. Blaydes is the No. 7 contender and is coming off a knockout loss to recent title challenger Sergei Pavlovich. Blaydes is an excellent wrestler who should be able to challenge Almeida’s prowess on the ground.

Adding Blaydes and Almeida to the main card on March 9, 2024, in Miami, Florida, will make for another spectacular bout on the card. While there is some uncertainty with the heavyweight division due to Jon Jones’ injury, continuing to stack up wins will be vital for Blaydes and Almeida if they want to fight for the championship, according to the latest news on MMAfighting.

Blaydes Pulled Out of Last Fight

Before Almeida took on Lewis, he was initially slated to take on Blaydes. Blaydes withdrew from the originally scheduled fight due to dealing with an ankle injury. Throughout his career, Blaydes has proven to be a thorn in the side of many top heavyweights.

Blaydes has a win, though it was due to a freak injury, over current heavyweight champion Tom Aspinall. He also has beaten former champion Junior dos Santos and respected veterans Jairzinho Rozenstruik, Alistair Overeem, and Alexander Volkov.

One thing that Blaydes needs help with is handling power punches. Blaydes is 17-4, with all four defeats coming by knockout against Francis Ngannou (twice), Pavlovich and Lewis.

Almeida Shows He Has A Gas Tank

When Almeida first entered the UFC, he debuted with a TKO win at light heavyweight before bumping up a weight class to fight Parker Porter. Almeida then ran through his next four opponents, winning all fights by TKO or submission in the first or second round. Many believed the fight would be quick when Almeida fought the hard-punching Lewis.

But that’s not even close to how it went. Instead of featuring a spectacular knockout, the best MMA news sites show this fight spent most of the time on the ground.

But Almeida wasn’t aggressive in striking from the top position. He had no problems taking Lewis down but didn’t seem in any hurry to put the big man away. Instead, a one-side beatdown ensued that saw Almeida continuously take down Lewis and rain down strikes on his way to a unanimous decision victory.

O’Malley Title Defense Set to Headline UFC 299

Sean O’Malley has a powerful motivator for his first title defense: revenge. O’Malley was still undefeated when he met Marlon Vera at UFC 252 during his fourth fight on the UFC roster. What happened caught everyone off guard.

Chito Vera, considered more of a gatekeeper at the time, hit O’Malley with vicious leg kicks in the first round. One of those leg kicks caused severe damage to O’Malley’s mobility. He couldn’t move well, and Vera could get him to the ground and force a stoppage.

The loss temporarily slowed O’Malley’s climb to the bottom of the bantamweight division. O’Malley needed four more wins to get his first shot at the title at UFC 292 in August 2023. Once O’Malley earned his shot, he picked up a second-round TKO to claim the championship.

Vera followed up his big upset over O’Malley by losing to former champion José Aldo. After a four-fight winning streak, Vera, 21-8-1 in his career, lost a split decision to Cory Sandhagen. If O’Malley hadn’t upset Aljamain Sterling to win the championship, Vera likely wouldn’t be getting a chance at the championship.

Barber Climbing Up Flyweight Ranks

Maycee Barber looked like a case of an overhyped young prospect. Barber, 25, lost consecutive fights to Roxanne Modafferi and Alexa Grasso before picking up uninspiring decisions over Miranda Maverick and Montana De La Rosa. But Barber was able to turn everyone’s opinions around last June.

Barber had a slobber knocker with Amanda Ribas, where she scored a second-round knockout. The UFC has set Barber up to fight former title challenger Katlyn Chookagian to see if the young American is a legitimate contender for the flyweight title.

Chookagian is a consistent but not powerful striker. She recently had a four-fight winning streak stopped in a decision loss to Manon Fiorot in October 2022. After a year off, Chookagian must show she still has what it takes to stay atop the rankings.

Gamrot Looks to Stop Respected Veteran

Mateusz Gamrot won big during his last lightweight fight against Rafael Fiziev. Gamrot didn’t pick up the win quite how he wanted to. Fiziev suffered an injury during the second round, allowing Gamrot to pick up his second straight win.

Former lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos is preparing for his 48th career fight. Dos Anjos lost a tough decision in his last fight to Vicente Luque the last time out. This fight will be a must-win for Gamrot, who is hoping to make a push toward a title shot. While dos Anjos making a climb up the rankings again is unlikely, he would like another high-profile victory to build his legacy.

Plenty of Other Names Announced for Event

Four other bouts have been announced for UFC 299 so far. As the promotion approaches the 300th numbered card, the hype is focused on building as much excitement as possible as the day gets closer.

Here are the other fights that have been announced but not mentioned above:

  • Bantamweight, Pedro Munhoz vs. Kyler Phillips
  • Women’s flyweight, Lauren Murphy vs. Karine Silva
  • Flyweight, C.J. Vergara vs. Assu Almabayev

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