Fight Calendar: July 2021
Wonder what the post-COVID fight schedule looks like? We're here to tell you that July has some absolute BANGERS you won’t want to miss out on!
Let's look at the best of the cards scheduled for July 2021 in Boxing and MMA (Mixed Martial Arts), the most notable fights on them, and who the favorites are.
- July 9: (BOXING) Joseph 'JoJo' Diaz Jr. vs. Javier Fortuna
- July 10: UFC 264: Dustin Poirier vs. Conor McGregor III
- July 17: (BOXING) Jermell Charlo vs. Brian Castaño
- July 17: UFC Fight Night: Max Holloway vs. Yair Rodriguez
- July 24: (BOXING) Tyson Fury vs. Deontay Wilder III
- July 24: UFC Fight Night: Cory Sandhagen vs. TJ Dillashaw
July 9: Joseph 'JoJo' Diaz Jr. vs. Javier Fortuna
JoJo Diaz lost his IBF super featherweight title after he missed the 130 pound limit by 3.5 pounds in his last fight. It's very rare to see a professional boxer, let alone a world title holder, miss weight by so much. Many experts say he didn't look very good in that fight (vs. Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov) either, but it has to be taken into account that he fought a young, undefeated guy who also is a big puncher (15-0, 12 KO's).
For this fight, 28-year-old JoJo Diaz (31W-1L-1D) goes up into the 135 pound division to battle against 31-year-old Javier Fortuna (36W-2L-1D) for the vacant WBC interim lightweight title. Javier hasn't been defeated since 2018 and comes as the naturally-bigger man, but he is slightly older than JoJo.
The winner of the Diaz vs. Fortuna fight will be mandatory for the current WBC champion, Devin Haney.
HOW TO WATCH: Live on DAZN on Friday, July 9 at 9:00 p.m. ET / 6:00 p.m. PT.
July 17: Jermell Charlo vs. Brian Castaño
Jermell Charlo (34W-1L-0D) holds 3 of the main 4 belts in the light middleweight division. Brian Castaño (17W-0L-1D) will be putting his WBA title on the line. The winner of this fight will be crowned The Undisputed Light Middleweight champion of the world.
Charlo has a huge size and reach advantage. He is almost 4 inches taller, and has 6 inches longer reach. Both of the fighters possess knockout power, with Brian keeping a higher KO %, but with only about half as many fights Charlo has had.
Brian will come as a fierce opponent, there is no doubt about that. But will he be able to overcome Charlo's size advantage? We will have to see. According to Castaño, he only fought a shorter guy once in his pro career. So he is definitely accustomed to that size difference.
While Charlo's record is more substantial than Castaño’s with more wins against notable opponents, Brian does bring a Draw with Erislandy Lara (a southpaw boxer who in 2014 fought to a split-decision loss to the current pound-for-pound best in the world, Canelo Alvarez).
HOW TO WATCH: Live on SHOWTIME on Saturday, July 17 at at 9:00 p.m. ET / 6:00 p.m. PT.
July 24: Tyson Fury vs. Deontay Wilder III
And finally, we close July with a huge fight!
A couple of weeks ago, Tyson Fury (30W-0L-1D) and Anthony Joshua (24W-1L-0D) had agreed to fight each other twice this year in Saudi Arabia. Contracts were signed. Money guarantees were in an escrow. And we were looking forward to crowning an undisputed heavyweight champion of the world in, potentially, one of the biggest fights ever.
All of a sudden, news broke out that Deontay Wilder (42W-1L-1D), the former WBC heavyweight champ whom Tyson stripped of his belt in their previous fight, has won an arbitration case for a third match between them.
Less than 24 hours later, Tyson Fury had pulled out of the AJ fight and had already signed a contract to face Deontay Wilder, in under 10 weeks’ time (later announced to be July 24th).
The first fight these two had was competitive. Tyson hit the canvas twice, but in the eyes of most boxing experts, he won every other round outside of those two knockdowns. Still, the fight was ruled a draw.
In the second fight, Tyson undeniably defeated Wilder, setting the record straight and sending him to the canvas twice. The fight was stopped by Wilder's corner, throwing in the towel.
There is a rumor that Tyson could have paid Wilder $20M to step aside until he has had the AJ fights, but he refused.
For this match, Tyson comes in as a heavy favorite, but you can’t ever count out Deontay's 1-punch-knockout power--and Tyson just gave him 36 minutes’ worth of puncher's chances.
Still unconfirmed officially, there are a couple of very interesting fights on the undercard being discussed online.
HOW TO WATCH: Live on ESPN+ PPV on Saturday, July 24, time TBD.
Undercard: Frank Sanchez vs. Efe Ajagba
Efe Ajagba (15W-0L-0D) is a young Nigerian prospect who has slowly been making his way into the top 10 ranking of WBC (currently ranked #9). Efe is a big puncher. When he lands the right hand, you can see boxers react...unusually and weirdly. Some even think he may be as big of a puncher, if not, bigger than Deontay Wilder himself.
Frank Sanchez (18W-0L-0D) is ranked #6 by the WBO and has recently entered the spotlight being added to Eddie Reynoso's (Canelo Alvarez's long-time trainer) team, which is a very exclusive club to join.
It's surprising to see this fight being discussed, as Efe has always said in interviews that he wants to go slow and not mix with the top fighters in the world straight away--but he may very well be there already. Both Efe and Frank started their pro careers around 2017, so it is fair to say that they are about at the same stage in their pro-careers.
There are big hopes for both guys. They don’t want to run the risk of getting defeated by the next heavyweight champ before they have any viewership drawing power. Plus, they would likely get a six-figure purse (or less) to fight each other. If this fight gets confirmed, definitely stay tuned, as it's going to be fireworks. Efe isn't as technical as Frank, but he has that 1-punch performance eraser. Frank has power, but his Cuban pedigree has shaped him into a combination fighter so he rarely plants his feet. Fight fans will definitely be in for a treat if this one gets made.
Frank probably comes in as a slight favorite.
Undercard: Adam Kownacki vs. Robert Helenius II
Adam Kownacki (20W-1L-0D) has only one loss: Robert Helenius (30W-3L-0D) beat him in their first fight. Before losing for the first time, Adam has defeated a former world champion, Charles Martin, and a few top-level world title contenders: Chris Areola, Gerald Washington, and Artur Szpilka.
Robert Helenius has a couple of wins over former champions, both of them long after their prime: Lamon Brewster in his very last pro fight (2010) and Samuel Peter (2011). He also had a pretty good performance with just a week's notice against a top contender in the heavyweight division, Dillian Whyte.
Adam may have been out of shape in their first fight, so this time, he will be looking for revenge and continue chasing the dream of a world title.
July 10: UFC 264: Dustin Poirier vs. Conor McGregor III
After a convincing win in their first fight, Conor McGregor (22W-5L-0D) suffered a couple of defeats: first by Nate Diaz (he avenged this one in their next fight) and later to Khabib Nurmagomedov (29W-0L-0D) who retired undefeated earlier this year.
In the last couple of years, Conor used his superstar status for some lucrative opportunities, most notably his exhibition fight with an all-time great retired boxer Floyd 'Money' Mayweather. He has also pursued business endeavors like launching his own brand of Irish whiskey. Overall, he hasn't been very active in the world of MMA; he didn't fight at all in 2019, and had only one fight in 2020.
Earlier this year, in January, 2021, Conor took a fight that was supposed to demonstrate that despite his inactivity, he is still in the top 10 of UFC's Welterweight division against an opponent he had convincingly beaten once before, Dustin Poirier (27W-6L-0D). Dustin and his coach had other plans though. After a devastating sequence of low kicks that destroyed Connor's mobility, Dustin was able to TKO him in the 2nd round.
The even score (1 win each) makes this a much anticipated fight. Will Conor find a way to deal with the low kicks? Or will Dustin be a step ahead once again? We will have to wait for July 10th to find out!
HOW TO WATCH: Live on ESPN+ PPV on Saturday, July 10 at 10:00 p.m. ET / 7:00 p.m. PT.
Undercard: Sean O'Malley vs Louis Smolka
'Sugar' Sean O'Malley (13W-1L-0D) is one of the most-liked characters in all of UFC. On Poirier vs. McGregor's undercard, he goes against Luis Smolka (17W-7L-0D).
On paper, Smolka shouldn't be a big challenge for O'Malley. They both prefer fighting standing up, but O'Malley looks like a much better, stronger, faster, and longer-reach striker. On the ground, the advantage is also for O'Malley. He is a brown belt in BJJ, while Smolka is a brown belt in Judo.
Likely the only serious worry and unknown factor for this fight is that O’Malley has twice suffered an injury to his right leg since he started in the UFC. The first time O'Malley injured his leg was during his fight with Andre Soukhamthath (14W-8L-0D)--though he went on to win this fight by a decision. When he fought Marlon Vera (16W-7L-1D), he injured the same leg, and the fight was stopped by the ref: Vera won by TKO. Reports on the injuries suggest that the two incidents were not connected, so perhaps this was just bad luck for Sugar.
July 17: UFC Fight Night: Max Holloway vs. Yair Rodriguez
UPDATE - This fight has been postponed as Max Holloway has suffered an "undisclosed injury".
After 2 years of inactivity, Yair Rodriguez (13W-2L-0D) is back in the octagon to face the Hawaiian and UFC legend, Max Holloway (22W-6L-0D). Both of them have a striking-heavy style and both of them have been submitted only once in their career. This fight is going to be fireworks!
Yair's game is based on a lot of kicking (he is a black belt in taekwondo), and overall, he has a very unorthodox way of striking.
Max is an excellent striker with a wide variety of unorthodox kicking and punching techniques.
Max may be considered a favorite to win this fight, because the difference in striking between the two is not as big as the difference of knowledge on the ground. Max is a brown belt in BJJ, while Yair received his blue belt in 2018 and hasn't been promoted since. Max has also been the more active of the two.
However, Yair is probably the most awkward striker currently in the UFC and can never be counted out. In fact, there are analysts out there who are picking him to win (e.g. former MMA fighter and current MMA promoter and analyst Chael Sonnen).
Undercard: Islam Makhachev vs. Tiago Moises
Islam Makhachev (19W-1L-0D) has been built (profile-wise) as an heir to Khabib Nurmagomedov's throne. Khabib (29W-0L-D) has defeated every single opponent he has faced as a professional MMA fighter and recently decided to retire. Many consider him as the GOAT (Greatest of All Time) in MMA.
Islam has decent striking and can hold his own standing up, but his ground game is just incredible. Coming from a combat sambo background (multiple time world champion), being exposed to high-level wrestling in his homeland of Dagestan ASSR, and just growing up training with Khabib Nurmagomedov, he seems unstoppable on the ground. Standing up is where he got his only loss: getting TKO'd in the first round by Adriano Martins (28W-10L-0D) in 2015. He overcommitted with a lead hook, exposed his chin, and got caught by a counter lead hook.
At 26 years old, Tiago Moises (15W-4L-0) is three years younger than Islam (29). However, both guys are very young, so age is not necessarily a factor for their physical preparedness. Tiago is a black belt in BJJ.
Islam is the heavy favorite to win this fight.
Undercard: Marion Reneau vs. Miesha Tate
After retiring from the UFC in 2016, earlier this year, it was announced that Miesha Tate (18W-7L-0D), former UFC Women's Bantamweight Champion, is going to return to the octagon later this year. She fights Marion Reneau (9W-7L-1D) on the undercard of Holloway vs. Rodriguez.
Marion comes into the fight after 4 consecutive losses.
July 24: UFC Fight Night: Cory Sandhagen vs. TJ Dillashaw
TJ Dillashaw (17W-4L-0D) is a UFC veteran. He is coming into this fight after two years of inactivity: a suspension due to testing positive for a forbidden substance and a loss against Henry Cejudo (16W-2L-0D) in his last fight.
Cory Sandhagen (14W-2L-0D), on the other hand, has only been beaten once in the UFC, by the current Bantamweight champion, Aljamain Sterling (20W-3L-0D), who managed to take his back in the 1st round of their fight and score a submission by rear naked choke. He comes off two wins and has been active even through the pandemic.
Cory is a brown belt in BJJ and a former amateur world champion in kickboxing. TJ is a black belt in Muay Thai and a purple belt in BJJ. Cory is significantly younger than TJ (29 years old vs. 35 years old). Corey also has a significantly longer reach than TJ (70" vs. 67").
Cory Sandhagen is probably the favorite in this fight.
HOW TO WATCH: Live on ESPN+ on Saturday, July 24 at 10:00 p.m. ET / 7:00 p.m. PT.
Note: All information is accurate as of June 25, 2021.
The Author: Nikolay Tsenkov is a dad, husband, entrepreneur, and boxing aficionado. He started training late, when he was 26 years old. One of his biggest regrets in life is that he never competed. For several years he has trained alongside national and European champions and professional boxers. He is an avid student of boxing, but enjoys all sorts of martial arts.