Frankie Edgar was supposed to fight Pedro Munhoz at UFC 251 on July 11. The bout fell through when Munhoz tested positive for COVID-19 hours before he was set to leave for “Fight Island” in Abu Dhabi.
Edgar, the former UFC lightweight champion, had a choice. He could make that long flight and take a new opponent on short notice. Or he could wait for Munhoz to get healthy.
Last December, Edgar took a short-notice fight as a replacement and fought “The Korean Zombie,” Chan Sung Jung. Edgar lost by TKO. With that in mind, Edgar told the UFC he’d prefer to be rebooked against Munhoz in a bout that would be Edgar’s bantamweight debut.
Edgar and Munhoz will finally meet in the UFC Fight Night main event Saturday in Las Vegas at the UFC Apex. Munhoz is ESPN’s No. 7-ranked MMA bantamweight. A win over Munhoz puts Edgar on another title track. If Munhoz wins, it gives him a victory over a future UFC Hall of Famer.
“I’ve taken some short-notice fights or short opponent changes, and it didn’t always work out the way I wanted it to,” Edgar said. “I learned from some past mistakes, I guess you could say. I said, ‘Let’s just wait.’ I got rebooked a month later. It’s really not that big a deal.”
Edgar (23-8-1) has dropped two straight, including a featherweight title challenge of then-champion Max Holloway. The New Jersey native has long thought about dropping to bantamweight — he was always the smaller man in fights at lightweight and featherweight — and finally made the decision to do so last summer. Edgar, 38, was the UFC lightweight champion in 2011 and 2012. He was a perennial contender at featherweight after that, including competing in three title fights, all losing efforts.
Munhoz (18-4, 1 NC) was on a three-fight winning streak prior to falling to top contender Aljamain Sterling at UFC 238 in June 2019. The Brazil native, who lives and trains in Florida, owns a vicious knockout win over former bantamweight champ Cody Garbrandt. Munhoz, 33, has won seven of his past nine fights.
Fight in progress:
Recap to come.
Wright opened a huge cut near Villanueva’s right eye in the first round. Referee Jason Herzog paused the action for the ringside physician to come into the Octagon and look at the cut. The doctor recommended Herzog stop the bout due to the location and severity of the cut and the ref did. Wright was awarded the TKO (doctor’s stoppage) victory at 1:31 of the first round.
To open the first round, Wright landed a spinning back kick that dropped Villanueva. With Villanueva rocked, Wright closed the distance and got him in a Thai clinch, leading to the knee that opened up Villanueva’s eye. The cut was on the inside of Villanueva’s right eyebrow, which would have led to blood dripping into his eye.
Jordan Wright aka The Beverly Hills Ninja aka my part-time roommate just had a beautiful @ufc debut, dropping his opponent with a spinning hook kick with his first strike. 🔥🔥🔥
— Lando Vannata (@GroovyLando) August 22, 2020
Wright (11-0, 1 NC) took this fight — his UFC debut — on six days notice. The 28-year-old California native, who also trains at JacksonWink MMA in Albuquerque, New Mexico, has won two straight after a loss to Anthony Hernandez at Dana White’s Contender Series in 2018. That result was overturned to a no contest due to Hernandez’s drug-test failure for marijuana.
Villanueva (16-11), a 36-year-old Texas resident, has dropped two straight and is still seeking his first UFC win.
Welterweight Matthew Semelsberger (7-2) picked up his first win in the UFC, in a fun, high-pace decision victory over Carlton Minus (10-2). All three judges scored the 15-minute bout for Semelsbeger: 30-26, 30-27 and 29-28.
A former collegiate football player at Marist, Semelsberger went right at Minus the entire fight. He walked him down with left hooks to the body and combinations to the head. He knocked Minus down with a right hand in the second round, after catching a leg kick attempt. He eventually took Minus’ back that round and looked for a choke, but couldn’t secure the finish.
Minus, of Anchorage, Alaska, was game for Semelsberger’s pace, and countered well throughout the fight. He stood his ground and fired back counter hooks, and found a consistent home for his jab. The weight of his punches was simply not as much as Semelsberger’s, as he typically was forced backwards in the majority of the exchanges.
Semelsberger has now won four in a row. Both fighters were making their UFC debut.
On Wednesday, Jones wasn’t even in the UFC. In the first round on Saturday, he was being throttled by Valiev, holding on for dear life as Valiev used him as a punching bag. It was a legitimate question at the moment if Jones even belonged in there, he was getting so outclassed.
Then, the second round came. And Jones pulled off one of the biggest comebacks of the year.
Trevin Jones has earned the biggest statistical comeback finish of 2020, finishing his opponent with a -40 significant strike differential (26 to 66). #UFCVegas7
— UFC News (@UFCNews) August 22, 2020
Jones stopped Valiev by TKO at 1:59 of the second round to open the UFC Fight Night prelims. Jones landed a big right hook that dropped Valiev and then pounced with a huge flurry of punches on the ground.
“That was just no quit,” Jones said.
Valiev threw a steady diet of kicks in the first round with a ton of success. A front kick to the midsection put Jones in danger. Valiev snapped the kick and his toes dug into Jones’ body, causing him to double over in pain. Valiev let loose with more kicks and whipping hooks to the body. Somehow, Jones survived the onslaught and landed a takedown near the end of the round to survive.
Jones, 30, has won three straight, all by finish. The Guam resident filled in for Mark Striegl, who was scheduled to fight Valiev before testing positive for COVID-19 earlier this week. Valiev, a 30-year-old Dagestan native by way of New Jersey, had a six-fight winning streak snapped. Both men were making their UFC debuts.
Still to come:
Pedro Munhoz (-270) vs. Frankie Edgar (+230) | Men’s bantamweight
Marcin Prachnio (+185) vs. Mike Rodriguez (-220) | Light heavyweight
Austin Hubbard (-105) vs. Joe Solecki (-115) | Lightweight
Mariya Agapova (-1250) vs. Shana Dobson (+800) | Women’s flyweight