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  1. Former UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo says he’s had an easier time cutting down to bantamweight than he has for featherweight. Aldo, 33, always has looked pretty gaunt when making the 145-pound limit, so when he announced that he was dropping down to 135, it caused quite a bit of concern. But Aldo (28-6 MMA, 10-5 UFC) was able to prove the naysayers wrong when he hit the mark in his bantamweight debut against Marlon Moraes last December. Now he’s preparing to fight Petr Yan for the vacant 135-pound title next week at UFC 251. Aldo is currently in a mandatory two-day quarantine period in Sao Paulo before he flies out to Abu Dhabi for fight week. Although circumstances aren’t ideal, Aldo revealed that the cut down to 135 pounds has been smooth. “These two days here in Sao Paulo are definitely gonna get in the way of my weight cut a little bit,” Aldo told ESPN. “But I bought a rope to jump, and I’m gonna go in the jacuzzi in the room or whatever. I’m gonna be able to stay active, but I’m happy to be a part of this, and the cut for 135 has actually been a lot easier than it was at 145.” Related Henry Cejudo admits he's to blame for Jose Aldo's UFC bantamweight title shot Twitter Mailbag: Dana White vs. Jon Jones, Jose Aldo UFC title shot in 2020, more Although he was edged out in a controversial split decision loss to Moraes, Aldo looked good going the full 15 minutes at a high pace with relative ease. Many people scored the fight in Aldo’s favor, and he was awarded a title shot against now-former champion Henry Cejudo on May 9. However, he was forced out of the bout due to travel restrictions in Brazil during the COVID-19 pandemic. With the belt now vacant following Cejudo’s recent retirement, Aldo was booked against Yan. Just days away from the showdown, he’s feeling good. “We adapted everything for me to move down in weight so my nutrition and everything else, and I really feel like I rejuvenated my body,” Aldo said. “It gave me a lot of energy, so I’m keeping my weight down more than I was before, and so that cut down to 135, I’m still feeling a lot better after that cut.” Gallery Photos: Jose Aldo through the years view 140 images Voir l'article complet
  2. Eugene Bareman doesn’t think Max Holloway’s had enough time to make necessary adjustments to beat Alexander Volkanovski. Bareman, the City Kickboxing head coach who trains Volkanovski, helped form a remarkable game plan that led to shutting down Holloway to claim the title last December at UFC 245. Volkanovski (21-1 MMA, 8-0 UFC) punished Holloway with heavy leg kicks and didn’t allow him to dictate the pace like he usually does. The pair will have a rematch in the co-main event next week at UFC 251 in Abu Dhabi, and while Bareman expects Holloway to have made some adjustments, he thinks it ultimately won’t work for him. “In this fight, we know that he’s gonna change some stuff,” Bareman told Submission Radio. “And for the most part, it’s hard for us to figure out what’s that gonna be. Like, there’s no data on it like there was for the first fight. So, there’s gonna have to be some adaptation on the fly. We’re just gonna have to see what happens. But the other question is, if Max tries to change too much – because there’s such a thing as trying to change too much in a short period of time. “You know, people talk about how Max has to find a way to mitigate the leg kicking that we did, which startled a lot of his game. So, people were saying that he’s gonna have to check those kicks and stuff. But to check those kicks is like, the way he stands and stuff, he stood like that for a decade. Now, you can check my calendar and my watch, but you’re gonna change a decade’s worth of work in a few months? That could possibly take away from your game if you’re gonna do that.” Related UFC featherweight champ Alexander Volkanovski set to release children's book Alexander Volkanovski says he'll finish Max Holloway in featherweight title rematch Alexander Volkanovski: Second win over Max Holloway would give me respect I deserve Bareman thinks Holloway (21-5 MMA, 17-5 UFC) will eventually revert to his old ways that have worked so well for him and resulted in his almost five-year unbeaten run he’d been on. “Smart coaches, they don’t change that much, especially in a shorter period of time like they have,” Bareman said. “Max, I just know from experience, to change some of the things that they’re trying to take away from Alex, it takes years. It takes years of ingraining that. And I don’t know, Max might be a super athlete that can learn at a different rate to everybody else, but for me, that’s the interesting part. “What changes are they gonna make that aren’t necessarily, that they’re gonna be able to learn in a short period of time since the first fight, that won’t take away from Max’s game? I’m interested to see.” While the first recipe worked to perfection for Volkanovski, Bareman says a few changes will be implemented on their side, too. The fight went the distance, and there’s plenty for Holloway’s team to pick up on, as well. But when it comes down to fundamentals, Bareman said Holloway has a lot more adjusting to do, and he doubts he will have had enough time to make the necessary changes. “Our strategy is gonna change a bit for the second fight,”Bareman said. “It has to. We have an obligation to change a few things because he’s seen what we did in the first this fight. But we’re changing strategy; we don’t have to change the way that Alex (fights). We don’t have to change anything fundamentally with Alex. What they’ve got to do is change some of the fundamental things that Max does. That’s gonna take years. “If they do try to change it, then more power to them, but that’s gonna work to our advantage. What we’re changing is just strategy. We don’t have to change the way he stands. We don’t have to change the way he steps over. We just have to adapt it slightly differently so that it’s not so predictable. I think from a coaching point of view, I think we’ve got a much easier job than what they have to do.” Gallery Alexander Volkanovski def. Max Holloway at UFC 245: Best photos view 34 images Voir l'article complet
  3. Thursday’s edition of MMA Junkie Radio with hosts “Gorgeous” George and “Goze” is here! On Episode No. 3,066 of the podcast, the guys cover the latest MMA news and notes. Let’s do this. THE RUNDOWN The World MMA Awards nominations have been released. We unpack just a few of the categories, including Male and Female Fighter of the Year, Fight of the Year, Journalist of the Year, Media Source of the Year, and Ring Card Girl of the Year. We now have visuals of what “Fight Island” looks like after UFC president Dana White shared some videos on social media. Impressed? Not impressed? We discuss. As reported by MMA Junkie’s John Morgan, Andrea Lee and Roxanne Modafferi have agreed to fight in September in a rematch of a 2014 clash under the Invicta FC banner. We give our thoughts. Popular UFC octagon girl Arianny Celeste announced she’s pregnant with her first child. Congratulations! Stream or download this and all episodes of MMA Junkie Radio over at OmnyStudio, or check it out above. You can also catch it on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, and more. A new episode of the podcast is released every Monday and Thursday. Voir l'article complet
  4. A fight between two more UFC hopefuls is in the works for Dana White’s Contender Series, Season 4. The promotion is targeting an Aug. 25 matchup between lightweight prospects Mike Breeden and Anthony Romero for the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. Multiple people with knowledge of the situation recently confirmed the targeted booking to MMA Junkie. They asked to remain anonymous as the promotion has yet to make an official announcement. The fight was first reported by MMA Fighting. Breeden (8-2 MMA) is currently riding a three-fight winning streak – all by TKO. In his most recent outing at LFA 77 in September 2019, Breeden added a sensational flying knee knockout to his highlight reel against Brandon Jenkins. Romero (7-0 MMA) is only 23 years old but had already made a mark in the KOTC promotion prior to his DWCS offer. In seven professional wins, Romero has earned three stoppage victories including two knockouts and a submission. DWCS, Season 4 will kick off Aug. 4 and expected to run for 10 episodes, with the season concluding on Oct. 6. To stay up to date with all of the DWCS happenings, check out MMA Junkie’s “Dana White’s Contender Series: Your complete guide to Season 4” which will be frequently updated as news comes to light. Gallery Photos: Best of Dana White's Contender Series view 62 images Voir l'article complet
  5. Dustin Poirier’s ultimate goal is to be the undisputed UFC lightweight champion, but he wants to earn his second shot at gold. Poirier (26-6 MMA, 18-5 UFC), the former interim champ, fell short in his attempt to unify the titles against champion Khabib Nurmagomedov last September, but he hasn’t given up on his title aspirations. Poirier rebounded with an impressive win over Dan Hooker last weekend at UFC on ESPN 12 and is still very much in the title picture. Nurmagomedov is expected to face current interim champ Justin Gaethje sometime in the fall in a matchup that Poirier will definitely have his eye on. Poirier is the last man to defeat Gaethje and shared the octagon with Nurmagomedov less than a year ago. But he revealed he isn’t interested in stepping in on short notice should one of those fighters fail to make it to their scheduled unification fight. Instead, Poirier is looking at earning his shot with a win over one of the other top contenders in the 155-pound division. Whether he has to fight the likes of Tony Ferguson or Nate Diaz next or just wait for his shot, Poirier wants to be pegged as the rightful No. 1 contender. “I’m interested in all those fights,” Poirier told MMA Junkie on Wednesday. “I’d like to fight all those guys. It just has to be the right time and the right scenario, and we’ll make it happen. But my goal before I’m done fighting is to be the undisputed world champion. So (I’ll do) whatever I need to do to make that happen. If that’s sit out and wait for this fight – nobody’s told me I’m next, so I’m not sure exactly what the UFC’s plan is. But if it’s not a title fight, it’s gotta be a big one. “It’s a tough one. I don’t want to slide in. I want to be picked because of what I’ve done. I want to have a proper training camp. I don’t want to slide in when somebody stubs their toe. I want to earn it, so we’ll see what’s next. I don’t want to look too far. I’ll wait on the UFC to call me.” Related USA TODAY Sports/MMA Junkie rankings, June 30: Dustin Poirier on the up (and up) Spinning Back Clique: Was Dustin Poirier vs. Dan Hooker the 'Fight of the Year'? Sean Shelby's Shoes: What's next for Dustin Poirier after UFC on ESPN 12 win? Poirier has been in his fair share of wars during his recent career and is looking to take some time off to fully heal from the bumps and bruises sustained during his hard-fought battle with Hooker. “The Diamond” admitted he’s unsure what’s next, but all he knows is that he’d like the matchup to be worth his while. “I just want big fights, and I wanna be paid for them,” Poirier said. “So I just want big fights and money. I want to be undisputed world champion, but I’m not pressing, I’m not pushing for other fights right now. I’m just gonna sit back, heal up, see what the UFC wants to do, and we’ll take the next step. But I think I’ve paid my dues and earned my shot at a big fight.” Voir l'article complet
  6. The British contingent set to descend on “UFC Fight Island” continues to grow, with Scottish light heavyweight Paul Craig the latest fighter from the U.K. booked for action in Abu Dhabi. Craig (12-4-1 MMA, 4-4-1 UFC) has built a reputation as a fighter with a never-say-die approach to his bouts and owns the record for the latest finish in a three-round UFC fight thanks to his last-second submission of Magomed Ankalaev at UFC Fight Night 127 back in 2018. Since that victory, the 32-year-old from Coatbridge, Scotland, has alternated losses and wins until his most recent outing last November, when he earned a split draw against Brazilian legend Mauricio Rua at UFC on ESPN+ 22. Related Triple Take: Which UFC 'Fight Island' title fight has the greatest stakes? First look: Dana White releases video detailing UFC 'Fight Island' infrastructure Brits are back: 5 matchups to follow as U.K. fighters take over UFC 'Fight Island' “The Bearjew” will return to action against Russia’s Gadzhimurad Antigulov in a light heavyweight bout at UFC Fight Night on Yas Island on July 25 – the final of the UFC’s four-event “Fight Island” season. The fight was announced by the UFC’s official European Twitter account. Antigulov heads into the fight looking to claim his first UFC win since May 2017, when he secured a first-round submission of Joachim Christensen at UFC 211. Since then, the 33-year-old has suffered a pair of first-round knockout losses to Ion Cutelaba and Michal Oleksiejczuk, as well as a host of canceled fight bookings. Antigulov’s scheduled bouts against Aleksandar Rakic, Sam Alvey, Roman Dolidze, Ed Herman, Devin Clark, and Klidson Abreu all have fallen through due to a combination of injuries and the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic. But now the 33-year-old is ready to return for his first appearance since April 2019. With the addition, the current July 25 lineup includes: the current July 25 lineup includes: Darren Till vs. Robert Whittaker Antonio Rogerio Nogueira vs. Mauricio Rua Alex Oliviera vs. Peter Sobotta Alexander Gustafsson vs. Fabricio Werdum Nicholas Dalby vs. opponent TBA Tom Aspinall vs. Jake Collier Raphael Pessoa vs. Justin Tafa Movsar Evloev vs. Mike Grundy Bethe Correia vs. Pannie Kianzad Umar Nurmagomedov vs. Nathaniel Wood Ramazan Emeev vs. opponent TBA Jai Herbert vs. Francisco Trinaldo Gadzhimurad Antigulov vs. Paul Craig Gallery 'Shogun' Rua vs. Paul Craig at UFC on ESPN+ 22: Best photos view 23 images Voir l'article complet
  7. The UFC’s July 25 event has taken multiple hits. Both Danny Roberts and Shavkat Rakhmonov are out of their respective bouts, according to two people with knowledge of the situation, who asked to remain anonymous since the promotion has yet to make an official announcement. Reasons for both Roberts and Rakhmonov withdrawing were not disclosed. No replacement has been found for either of their opponents, Nicolas Dalby and Ramazan Emeev. Roberts (17-5 MMA, 6-4 UFC), who snapped a two-fight losing streak with a knockout over Zelim Imadaev last November, originally was slated to face Dalby on March 21 in London, but the event was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The fight was rebooked for the July 25 on Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, but Roberts has been forced to withdraw. Rakhmonov (12-0 MMA, 0-0 UFC) will have to wait once again to make his UFC debut. He was initially scheduled to face Bartosz Fabinski on March 21 in London before the event was canceled. The undefeated Kazakhstani fighter was then matched up with Emeev on July 25 but has been forced out. Related Triple Take: Which UFC 'Fight Island' title fight has the greatest stakes? First look: Dana White releases video detailing UFC 'Fight Island' infrastructure With the changes, the current July 25 lineup includes: Darren Till vs. Robert Whittaker Antonio Rogerio Nogueira vs. Mauricio Rua Alex Oliviera vs. Peter Sobotta Alexander Gustafsson vs. Fabricio Werdum Nicholas Dalby vs. opponent TBA Tom Aspinall vs. Jake Collier Raphael Pessoa vs. Justin Tafa Movsar Evloev vs. Mike Grundy Bethe Correia vs. Pannie Kianzad Umar Nurmagomedov vs. Nathaniel Wood Ramazan Emeev vs. opponent TBA Jai Herbert vs. Francisco Trinaldo Voir l'article complet
  8. We’ve officially reached the halfway point of 2020, which provides a good excuse to reflect on what’s happened so far this year. The MMA world certainly has been a unique ride to follow over the past six months. No sports has gone untouched by the coronavirus pandemic, but in comparison to others, this world has been able to move along quite successfully. Primarily the UFC, that is. Although UFC events take the lions share of the attention under normal circumstances, it has been the only major show in town over the past several months. Neither Bellator, ONE Championship, PFL, Rizin FF, Cage Warriors, or Invicta FC have held an event since March. The back half of the 2020 schedule looks to see the majority of those promotions return – along with the UFC putting on almost weekly events – so the months ahead could see plenty of memorable moments. With that said, there’s no better time to look back at the best of the best so far in 2020 with a few mid-year awards on some major categories, issued with my judgment only. Without further ado … * * * * * Best male fighter: Gilbert Burns (Jeff Bottari, Zuffa LLC) This was probably the trickiest category to sort, mainly because of how infrequently athletes compete in MMA. Making a best fighter assessment six months into the year typically means we have one performance to go off of, and it’s entirely possible the overall 2020 “Fight of the Year” hasn’t even stepped in the cage so far. That’s how quickly things can change. Although there are several fighters who have competed more than once this year, there’s only one who has registered wins and eye-popping performances both times. Curtis Blaydes got halfway there with two main event wins, but Gilbert Burns was the man who brought it home. He scored a rare finish of Demian Maia in the form of a first-round knockout in March, then forced his way into a main event opportunity against former UFC champ Tyron Woodley in May simply by speaking out and staying prepared. Related Rafael dos Anjos picks Gilbert Burns to dethrone champ Kamaru Usman at UFC 251 Nate Diaz rips Kamaru Usman defending UFC belt vs. Gilbert Burns: 'This isn’t a title fight' Burns blanked Woodley on the scorecards, and in what seems like the snap of the fingers is now less than two weeks from challenging Kamaru Usman for the welterweight title at UFC 251. No one – and I mean no one – claimed at the start of the year that Burns would be fighting for a belt, in the main event of the most stacked main card we’ve seen in 2020, just over six months into the year. It’s been a crazy rise, and he deserves the recognition for it. Honorable mention: Justin Gaethje Best female fighter: Zhang Weili (Stephen R. Sylvanie, USA TODAY Sports) Given the lack of female fighters and weight classes compared to the men’s side, the standards change a little bit here from what was described for the male version of this category. Angela Hill would have a compelling case if she got the decision win over Claudia Gadelha to be the only one to go 3-0 so far this year, but that didn’t happen, so technically she experienced a loss. That leaves UFC strawweight champion Zhang Weili as the only true option. Her only win of the year came in style against Joanna Jedrzejczyk at UFC 248 in March in what’s essentially been universally dubbed as the best fight in women’s MMA history. It was a blood-and-guts performance from Zhang against the most decorated champion the division has ever seen, and that counts for a whole lot. Related Video: Relive Zhang Weili's 19-month journey from UFC debut to defending champion Yes, fellow women’s champions Valentina Shevchenko and Amanda Nunes earned far more lopsided defenses against Katlyn Chookagian and Felicia Spencer, respectively, but neither of those challengers is as credentialed or decorated as Jedrzejczyk. Because of that, the value of Weili’s win skyrockets. It might take another defense for Weili to lock up the year-end award, but to this point she’s defended her belt in arguably the most talked about fight – male or female – we’ve seen since Jan. 1. Honorable mention: Valentina Shevchenko Best fight: Weili vs. Jedrzejczyk at UFC 248 Gallery Zhang Weili def. Joanna Jedrzejczyk at UFC 248: Best photos view 27 images Weili doubles up courtesy of her win over Jedrzejczyk. That fight on March 7 in Las Vegas was one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever seen from the cageside position, and it was truly special. I’m not going to exhaust every detail of the action in Weili’s unanimous decision win over Jedrzejczyk, because I couldn’t do it justice. If you haven’t seen it already, correct yourself immediately. It’s on UFC Fight Pass, it’s on ESPN+ – it’s somewhere on the internet. Go find it and embrace the brutality. There’s been some other memorable affairs so far this year. Dustin Poirier vs. Dan Hooker and Josh Emmett vs. Shane Burgos offered similar thrilling exchanges and grotesque moments (though nothing matches Jedrzejczyk’s hematoma), but what wasn’t there were the championship stakes. Related Rose Namajunas explains why Zhang Weili vs. Joanna Jedrzejczyk isn't 'Fight of the Year' UFC 248 'Fight Motion': Epic Zhang Weili vs. Joanna Jedrzejczyk fight slowed down Weili vs. Jedrzejczyk would’ve been a wild fight under any circumstances, but the drama was further heightened by the fact only one side could walk away with the title. It came down to the wire, too, and no one knew the winner for certain when the decision was being read. It had all the ingredients you need and more, and if two people are able to produce a better fight over the next six months, then God help those poor souls. Honorable mention: Dustin Poirier vs. Dan Hooker at UFC on ESPN 12 Best submission: Aljamain Sterling vs. Cory Sandhagen at UFC 250 (Photo by Jeff Bottari, Zuffa LLC) I don’t feel particularly strongly about this category, if we’re being honest. Mainly because it’s quite open to interpretation with no obvious choice. You could go with Maurice Greene’s arm-triangle choke from bottom over Gian Villante at UFC on ESPN 12 purely for the weirdness (I’m still trying to figure how Villante tapped to that), but that was not some Bryce Mitchell Twister finish where the level of opponent doesn’t quite matter. Again, my preference is to side with stakes when deciding these categories, and although it ended with the most common submission technique in the sport, a rear-naked choke, I still have to give it up to the man Aljamain Sterling for absolutely washing Cory Sandhagen at UFC 250. There were a good number of people picking Sandhagen to win the matchup that UFC president Dana White dubbed as a No. 1 contender fight at bantamweight. Even if Sterling was going to win, most experts would’ve agreed it wouldn’t be an 88-second wipeout. No one had ever handled Sandhagen like Sterling did when he quickly established back position and finished the fight, and for that he deserves some praise. Honorable mention: Diego Ferreira def. Anthony Pettis at UFC 246 Best knockout: Cody Garbrandt vs. Raphael Assuncao at UFC 250 Cody Garbrandt nearly sent Raphael Assuncao’s head into the bleachers and his body through the octagon canvas with a sick knockout at UFC 250. Some (looking at you, Sean O’Malley) have labeled it sloppy and lacking technique, but we know that’s not not what it’s really all about in MMA. Knockouts from punches happen all the time. It’s the most routine way fights are finished when striking, but Garbrandt didn’t only separate Assuncao from consciousness, he did it with one of the cooler looking right-hand setups we’ve seen in a while. Just before the second-round horn, Garbrandt threw a feint that got a reaction out of Assuncao. He dipped away then loaded up on the same punch from another hemisphere then planted it right on Assuncao’s chin. The visual was pretty outstanding. Add in the backdrop to the fight, and Garbrandt has to triumph in this category. The former UFC bantamweight champ came in on a three-fight skid with everyone claiming he was done, despite being only 28. Assuncao is one of the most historically difficult opponents to finish at 135 pounds, and as nearly two rounds were completed, it seemed “No Love” might need the full 15 minutes. Then Garbrandt dropped the hammer, and all of a sudden he was a bantamweight contender again. I’d call that a pretty critical knockout from all perspectives. Honorable mention: Francis Ngannou def. Jairzinho Rozenstruik at UFC 249 Voir l'article complet
  9. It’s not really a race between Top Rank and the UFC – or is it? According to an ESPN report Wednesday, the Bob Arum-fronted boxing promotion is angling to hold Tyson Fury vs. Deontay Wilder 3 at Las Vegas’ Allegiant Stadium on Dec. 19. Top Ranked has reserved the date with the venue. Oh, there possibly could be fans in attendance, pending regulations. But what about the UFC? Will it be willing to round up its big stars to put on a spectacle event before boxing beats it to the punch (pun intended)? I don’t think it’s out of the question considering UFC president Dana White’s pride in having his company largely built on Las Vegas soil. It might genuinely mean something to him to be the first to hold fights in the city’s shiny new stadium that the Raiders call home. Something to not be glossed over – the rivalry between Arum and White is real. It always has been, and it seemingly always will be. At the start of the pandemic, Arum criticized White’s promoting of events. Weeks later, he promoted events of his own. Unsurprisingly, White didn’t hold back when asked about Arum in May. Top Rank is looking to upgrade Tyson Fury vs. Deontary Wilder 3 from MGM Grand Garden Arena in Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas. (Joe Camporeale, USA TODAY Sports) In the past, White has said he’s not going to half-ass attendance. It’s either a full arena (or stadium) or nothing at all. But this could potentially change things, in my opinion. There’s a reason to settle for a compromised amount of fans – if that’s an option. If the interest is there from the promotion’s side, and it’s a feasible idea, further questions are posed. Who will the UFC want to have headline? Could we see a reemergence of Conor McGregor from a so-called retirement? Is Israel Adesanya vs. Paulo Costa a big enough fight? Or would the UFC have to pull off something crazy, like, “Hey, Brock, I know we haven’t talked in a while, but…”? The future remains to be seen, and I’m sure White will be asked about this at his next press conference. For now, however, at minimum, I think it’s safe to say Top Rank has the UFC thinking about ways to be first. The Blue Corner is MMA Junkie’s blog space. We don’t take it overly serious, and neither should you. If you come complaining to us that something you read here is not hard-hitting news, expect to have the previous sentence repeated in ALL CAPS. Voir l'article complet
  10. The UFC has been forced to make major adjustments during the coronavirus pandemic, but that hasn’t stopped fighters from delivering inside the octagon. Since UFC on ESPN+ 28 on March 14, the promotion has carried eight other events behind closed doors, with five of them taking place in the 25-foot octagon at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. There’s something about that smaller cage that has resulted in increased action, faster finishes and absolute wars, as the fans watching at home have been treated to some of the best fights in recent memory. Here are the five best we’ve seen during the pandemic. **** UFC 249: Tony Ferguson vs. Justin Gaethje There was no doubt this fight would deliver, but few imagined it would be as one-sided as it was. Tony Ferguson faced Justin Gaethje on May 9 at UFC 249 for the interim lightweight title and No. 1 contender spot to face champion Khabib Nurmagomedov later this year. Ferguson was on a 12-fight winning streak going into the fight and was initially scheduled to face Nurmagomedov before the fight fell through yet again. After suffering back-to-back stoppage losses to Eddie Alvarez and Dustin Poirier, Gaethje turned things around by stopping his next three opponents all in the first round. Related Listen to Justin Gaethje's corner audio from his UFC 249 win over Tony Ferguson Eddie Bravo describes cold feet while coaching Tony Ferguson at UFC 249: 'I wasn’t ready for it' UFC 249 results: Justin Gaethje dominates Tony Ferguson, claims interim lightweight belt Gaethje’s less gung-ho approach ended up paying dividends once again as he was able to dominate Ferguson for the most part with his superior boxing before eventually stopping him in the fifth round. Ferguson’s durability and cardio made this an entertaining battle, as he continued to press forward despite taking a plethora of Gaethje’s best shots. Ferguson was even able to badly rock Gaethje with a beautifully timed uppercut at the end of Round 2, but “The Highlight” made the right kind of adjustments to take over the remainder of the fight. As well as the interim title, Gaethje earned two bonus checks for his efforts on the night, picking up his eighth and ninth bonuses in just seven UFC fights. Voir l'article complet
  11. Petr Yan packs some serious power at bantamweight. Yan faced UFC Hall of Famer Urijah Faber on the main card opener of UFC 245 in December in a fight that was critical in proving himself as a top player at 135 pounds. Yan stalked Faber and pressured “The California Kid” right off the bat. He took his time, trying to find his range with faints and fakes, forcing Faber to constantly move side-to-side to evade. Yan opened up at the end of Round 1, tagging Faber with an uppercut then a short right hand. In Round 2, Faber started out with another step-in knee, but Yan ate it with no issues. He continued to press Faber, pushing him back with a perfect one-two combination that dropped the former WEC champ. Faber showed good survival instincts, but was immediately dropped again with a big elbow that had him bloodied up, swollen and in all sorts of trouble. Yan was finally able to put the ever-so-tough Faber away in Round 3, blasting him with a massive head kick for his sixth consecutive UFC win. Yan (14-1 MMA, 6-0 UFC) returns at UFC 251 on July 11 when he meets Jose Aldo (28-6 MMA, 10-5 UFC) for the vacant bantamweight title in Yas Island, Abu Dhabi. Before he faces Aldo, though, relive Yan’s finish over Faber in the video above. Voir l'article complet
  12. Rory MacDonald hasn’t fought in 2020 nor will he, which leaves a lot of time for self-reflection. A former UFC welterweight title challenger and Bellator champion, MacDonald (21-6-1) signed with PFL months prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Because of the outbreak, the promotion decided to cancel its 2020 season. “Of course it’s frustrating,” MacDonald told MMA Junkie on Wednesday. “I was really motivated to start this new chapter with a bang. C’est la vie. I’m going to use this time wisely. I’m also using it to look inward and try to improve myself. I’m also looking back on the past to try to right my wrongs moving forward. In a sense, it was a positive thing, because it gave me some time to reflect and dial in my focus for the next chapter of my career.” Despite the PFL’s hiatus, MacDonald said he’s been utilizing the time to reflect on his journey. MacDonald admitted he’s made mistakes in his career, without them he wouldn’t be where he is today. He’s actively hoping to identify and correct previous errors in order to learn. “This quarantine, I was really trying to analyze my career,” MacDonald said. “Sometimes you just don’t think about it. You just go through the motions to the next fight. I was able to kind of take a step back, signing with a new company. I have a few regrets during my twenties – the decisions that I made from all different ranges in my career from training to business or whatever. “I want to take this opportunity with the change of promotion. I’m going to be 31 years old this summer. I want to make my thirties much more successful. I want to not have regrets when I’m 40 looking back. I want this to be the best part of my career. I’m focused and working hard at making those changes and applying them.” At this point in time, MacDonald struggles to define his legacy. Why? Well, because he thinks the best is yet to come. Deep inside, MacDonald said he thinks his peak potential is hidden. It has yet to shine through. “I’m really focused on achieving my goal of being one of the best to ever do it,” MacDonald said. “I feel like I slipped my opportunity at being world champion with the UFC. My career kind of went like this a little bit in my twenties. My thirties, I just really want it to be an uphill trajectory. I don’t want to have big ups and downs and lose focus in some fights and be hungry in others. “I just really want to stay hungry and get after my goal of being one of the best welterweights that (has) ever competed in this sport. That’s what I’m focused on – making a name for myself, and showing my skills and my full potential.” The PFL is currently running a series on MacDonald’s life called “The Red King Rundown.” The series premiere aired Tuesday, with more episodes expected in the near future. Voir l'article complet
  13. With another action-packed month of MMA in the books, MMA Junkie looks at the best knockouts from June 2020: Here are the five nominees, listed in chronological order, and winner of MMA Junkie’s “Knockout of the Month” award for June. At the bottom of the post, let us know if we got it right by voting for your choice. * * * * The Nominees Alex Perez def. Jussier Formiga at UFC 250 Alex Perez (24-5 MMA, 6-1 UFC) might not have gone into his matchup with Jussier Formiga (23-8 MMA, 9-7 UFC) on the short list of contenders for the vacant flyweight title, but he sure came out of it as one. Perez put his division on notice by taking out one of flyweight’s longstanding contenders in Formiga via TKO, but it was one of the rarest forms of TKO: the calf kick. Perez clobbered Formiga with calf kicks, connecting with his right leg to the lower portion of Formiga’s right. He dropped him twice with the kicks, and the second time around turned out to be one time too many. Sean O’Malley def. Eddie Wineland at UFC 250 Sean O’Malley (11-0 MMA, 3-0 UFC) had shown plenty of sizzle early in his UFC career, but he didn’t yet have the type of veteran name on his resume that indicates he truly could be on his way to the top. Then he fought Eddie Wineland (24-14-1 MMA, 6-8 UFC). After some frenetic early exchanges, “Suga” set up the fight-ending sequence. O’Malley feinted a left, Wineland bit, and O’Malley followed through with a flawless straight right hand to the jaw, which put Wineland to the mat and ended the bout. Cody Garbrandt def. Raphael Assuncao at UFC 250 Former bantamweight champ Cody Garbrandt (12-3 MMA, 7-3 UFC) finally got back in the win column when he defeated Raphael Assuncao (27-8 MMA, 11-5 UFC) with his most spectacular career finish. Garbrandt snapped a three-fight losing skid and got his hand raised for the first time since December 2016 when he beat Assuncao by second-round knockout. After a more reserved approach than his recent fights, Garbrandt waited until the closing seconds of the round to wind up with a grenade-level right hand that put Assuncao out on impact and spelled the end of the fight. Tyson Nam def. Zarrukh Adashev at UFC on ESPN 10 Tyson Nam (19-11-1 MMA, 1-2 UFC) broke his slump in the most brilliant of ways when absolutely obliterated Zarrukh Adashev (3-2 MMA, 0-1 UFC). Adashev came out with an early mini-blitz, indicating he was ready for a scrap. Which apparently was all good with Nam, who connected clean with a picture-perfect counter right hand just 32 seconds into the first round of the bantamweight fight. Tanner Boser def. Philipe Lins at UFC on ESPN 12 Tanner Boser (18-6-1 MMA, 2-1 UFC) made a statement in an important fight against the inaugural PFL heavyweight champion Philipe Lins (14-5 MMA, 0-2 UFC). The Canadian picked up an impressive first-round finish. Boser connected with a hard right hand that seemed to briefly stun the Brazilian, but he immediately followed up with a quick combination that send Lins straight to the canvas. After Lins went down, Boser aded a couple nasty hammerfists for good measure. * * * * The Winner: Cody Garbrandt Garbrandt still has it. Shortly after the 10-second clacker sounded in Round 2, Garbrand landed a vicious right hook that flattened Assuncao with one second left. Out on impact, Assuncao crumpled to the canvas facedown, forcing referee Keith Peterson to wave off the fight. The opening round was a tactical chess match. The volume of strikes thrown was low. Both fighters stayed at a distance, with Garbrandt targeting the low calf of Assuncao, who was constantly switching stances. In Round 2, the pace picked up. Garbrandt returned to targeting Assuncao’s leg, which was wearing damage. Midway through the round, Garbrandt connected on his best strike of the fight – a punch, which knocked Assuncao off balance. The playful trash talk picked up, with Assuncao claiming he slipped on Garbrandt’s punch. The conversation was all for not, however, as the next big punch was the last. Sneaking in a massive punch just before the horn sounded, Garbrandt picked up his first victory since December 2016. Voir l'article complet
  14. Eric Albarracin can’t wait for the build-up between Paulo Costa and Israel Adesanya. The undefeated Costa (13-0 MMA, 5-0 UFC) is next in line to challenge UFC middleweight champion Adesanya (19-0 MMA, 8-0 UFC), but it looks as though the pair will coach “The Ultimate Fighter” reality series first. Though no official announcement have been made for the revived version of the show, which last aired in 2018, Albarracin said he’s excited by the potential. Costa’s coach is confident the opportunity would help take the rivalry to the next level, resulting in a barnburner of a title fight. “That’s gonna be the greatest ‘Ultimate Fighter’ in history, if not the greatest middleweight title fight in history,” Albarracin told MMA Junkie Radio. “Because ‘The Eraser’ Paulo Costa, ‘Borrachinha’ (is) 13-0, 12 knockouts vs. ‘The Last Stylebender’ 19-0, we all know he’s the 185-pound champ, we all know they’re at each other’s throats. “He called him Ricky Martin in Australia and I always say, ‘Yeah, he looks like Ricky Martin but he hits like Mike Tyson.’ I can’t wait to see these guys (coach) a whole season. Who’s not gonna want to watch that? These guys at each other’s throats. By the end of the season, it’s gonna be a level 10 type of intensity between those guys.” It’s no secret that Costa and Adesanya aren’t fond of each other. The two continuously traded barbs for some time. Costa was front row in Melbourne, Australia, when Adesanya unified the middleweight titles with a knockout of Robert Whittaker last October. But after Costa suffered a bicep injury, Adesanya ended up facing Yoel Romero in his most recent defense. Adesanya beat Romero in a rather uneventful affair at UFC 248 in March and Costa made sure to let him know about it. The fight between Costa and Adesanya has been brewing for almost a year now, and Albarracin thinks a season of “TUF” would only spark things up even more. Now it remains to be seen if the UFC gives the green light to reviving the series which has been an instrumental part of the company’s history and success. Voir l'article complet
  15. The UFC is already beginning to map out its September slate. A women’s flyweight matchup between Andrea Lee and Roxanne Modafferi is expected to take place Sept. 12 in Las Vegas. Although the fight is not finalized, verbal agreements are in place. Two people with knowledge of the situation informed MMA Junkie of the targeted booking Wednesday but asked to remain anonymous since the promotion has yet to make an announcement. No other Sept. 12 UFC fights have been made public or reported at this time, and the promotion has not made an official announcement pertaining to the event date or location. Lee (11-4 MMA, 3-2 UFC) and Modafferi (24-17 MMA, 3-4 UFC) have fought before back in 2014, with Modafferi winning a split decision at Invicta FC 10. Lee will look to snap a two-fight losing streak. After winning her first three promotional outings, Lee has dropped back-to-back split decisions to Joanne Calderwood and Lauren Murphy. Modafferi competed as recently as June 20, losing a unanimous decision to Murphy at UFC on ESPN 11. Since her UFC debut at The Ultimate Fighter 27 Finale in December 2017, Modafferi has alternated wins and losses during her promotional tenure. Voir l'article complet

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