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  1. Tony Ferguson isn’t buying Khabib Nurmagomedov’s reason about his circumstantial fallout from UFC 249. On Wednesday, the UFC lightweight champion confirmed that he’s out of the April 18 event because of a travel ban in Russia, where Nurmagomedov currently is on lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic. To Ferguson, Nurmagomedov had the opportunity to fly back to the U.S., where he originally was stationed at American Kickboxing Academy before California was issued a stay-at-home order last month. However, during a recent stint in Abu Dhabi, Nurmagomedov (28-0 MMA, 12-0 UFC) instead flew to Dagestan. \ Ferguson (25-3 MMA, 15-1 UFC) thinks the move was intentionally done to get out of the fight. “Khabib, I believe he already knew that he wasn’t going to fight,” Ferguson said in an ESPN interview he teased on Twitter. Ferguson later added, “He bailed out, man. He bailed out.” Ferguson took shots at Nurmagomedov and former champion Conor McGregor, hurling expletives in each respective rival’s direction. “Khabib and Conor run around with their tails between their legs like a (expletive) dog,” Ferguson said. “I run with the dogs, man. These guys aren’t dogs, man. They’re a bunch of (expletives). Khabib is a (expletive).” Related Khabib Nurmagomedov confirms he's out of UFC 249: 'I can’t control it all' Bob Arum slams Dana White over UFC 249 plans: 'He's somebody with a flawed intelligence' Tony Ferguson opens as betting favorite vs. Justin Gaethje for potential UFC 249 fight Judging by one remark, Ferguson doesn’t seem thrilled with the prospect of fighting anyone other than Nurmagomedov or McGregor (22-4 MMA, 10-2 UFC). “Whether or not it’s Khabib, whether or not it’s (expletive) Conor, I’m all for just whooping somebody’s ass,” Ferguson said. “I already beat the top five in a round robin, and now they want me to reset. They want to give me another top five? I don’t (expletive) think so. I’m a champion already.” For the fifth time in their UFC careers, Nurmagomedov were set to fight – and for the fifth time it is off. Numerous fighters, including top UFC contenders Justin Gaethje and Dustin Poirier, volunteered their services on social media following news of Nurmagomedov’s unlikely participation. It remains publicly unknown if UFC 249 currently has a location as UFC president Dana White remains tight lipped. Voir l'article complet
  2. Kevin Holland doesn’t care. Scheduled to fight March 21 at UFC on ESPN+ 29 in London, Holland’s fight was among the 13 canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. Holland (16-5 MMA, 3-2 UFC) found out the news four days prior. “I woke up, and it was the day we were supposed to fly out,” Holland told MMA Junkie on Wednesday. “I was about to go finish, get the bags packed up and everything. I looked on my phone, and my manager hit me up like, ‘Yo, everything is canceled. You’re not going to go anywhere.’ I was like, ‘Ugh, that sucks.’ I was still at the house in the process of getting ready to go. (It wasn’t) that bad.” It took more than a week, but the UFC ultimately compensated the event’s athletes despite the card’s cancellation. Holland said he feels lucky to work for the company. “If it wasn’t going to happen, I was going to take it for what it was,” Holland said. “It did happen, so I’m really grateful. (The UFC) is a great company to work for. It makes it even better when they’re doing stuff like that in a time of need. They’re looking out for their athletes. That’s a blessing.” As frustrating as his UFC on ESPN+ 29 cancellation was, Holland hasn’t allowed himself to lose focus. Still in fight shape, Holland said he isn’t going to let the coronavirus pandemic get in the way of him competing if possible. “(We) try to stay ready so we don’t have to get ready. You know what I mean?” Holland said. “Every opportunity we can, we sneak in somewhere. We do a little something, stick with the same partners, don’t switch up partners, (and) try to stay as close to smart about this thing as possible. At the end of the day, you’re still taking risks. At the end of the day, I just want to fight. The risk is worth the reward to me.” Related Marvin Vettori, Nicolas Dalby among fighters who say they were compensated for UFC London cancellation Fight simulation: How Tyron Woodley vs. Leon Edwards at UFC London played out in 'EA UFC 3' Top five UFC London moments: Michael Bisping's win over Anderson Silva and more If the opportunity is there, Holland says he’s willing to “risk” it by fighting April 18 at UFC 249. The event doesn’t have a location at the moment – at least not one that is known to the public. “That’s a picture-perfect fight right there – something private,” Holland said. “That’s fight club right? You don’t really talk about it. If something was to pop up or something was to happen where I got the fight, I’m more than happy (to accept). That’s essential to me. I’ve got to fight. “I’m stuck in the house not doing nothing, shadowboxing. My dog is looking at me like I’m crazy. He’s like, ‘What are you doing, dude? You’re tripping.’ But I look at him the same way when he licks his butt, so it’s OK.” While Holland doesn’t have a specific individual in mind he’d like to fight April 18, an entire camp was on the tip of his tongue. Holland and Roufusport have history. “Anybody local can get the smoke,” Holland said. “I’m down for anybody, anywhere. It doesn’t really matter for me. It’d be nice to get somebody from Roufus’ camp again. We’re 1-1. I got Gerald Meerschaert. (Brendan Allen) got me. … Another striker, a grappler, the last guy on the roster, the top guy on the roster – maybe I drop down to 170 and beat up (Tyron) Woodley. He acts like he really wants to fight. He’s with the Roufus camp. I don’t know. Whoever wants it. Whoever wants the smoke.” Check out MMA Junkie’s full interview with Holland in the video above. Gallery Kevin Holland def. Alessio Di Chirico at UFC on ESPN+ 12: Best photos view 33 images Voir l'article complet
  3. For the fifth time, Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Tony Ferguson is off. Nurmagomedov, the UFC lightweight champion, won’t defend his title in the highly anticipated bout with Ferguson at UFC 249, which is supposed to take place on April 18 in a location yet to be determined. On Wednesday, Nurmagomedov (28-0 MMA, 12-0 UFC) announced on Instagram that he won’t be competing since he’s stuck in Russia during the coronavirus pandemic. “Staying home in quarantine and reading the reaction of people to the situation around my fight, it turns out that the whole world should be in quarantine,” Nurmagomedov wrote. “Governments of all countries, famous people around the world urge people to follow all safety requirements in order to limit the spread of the disease, to save people, and (I am) the only one relieved of all obligations and must demonstrate free will and train flying around the world, for the sake of fight? I understand everything, and I’m definitely upset more than you to cancel the fight, probably like all others, I had many plans after the fight, but I can’t control it all.” Related Bob Arum slams Dana White over UFC 249 plans: 'He's somebody with a flawed intelligence' Tony Ferguson opens as betting favorite vs. Justin Gaethje for potential UFC 249 fight Kamaru Usman wanted everyone to hear Jorge Masvidal 'squeal like a pig' in an empty arena fight Nurmagomedov’s withdrawal comes as no surprise as the UFC has been scrambling for weeks to keep his title fight with Ferguson – and the pay-per-view as a whole – alive while the rest of the sports world is shut down. Nurmagomedov, who is in Dagestan, was faced with travel restrictions as the Russian government banned travel to help contain the spread of COVID-19. UFC 249 originally was scheduled to take place at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., but due to public gathering restrictions and closing of all non-essential businesses by the state government, the UFC was forced to move the event. Since then, nearly 80 percent of the country is under some form of lockdown as COVID-19 has worsened. The UFC was looking into taking the event outside of the country or potentially Native American reservations. It’s uncertain if the UFC will try to continue to keep UFC 249 for April 18 now that Nurmagomedov is unable to compete. UFC president Dana White has been defiant that the show must go on. Many fighters offered to step in on short notice when it was first announced that Nurmagomedov was likely out of the fight. Below is Nurmagomedov’s full post: Staying home in quarantine and reading the reaction of people to the situation around my fight, it turns out that the whole world should be in quarantine, governments of all countries, famous people around the world urge people to follow all safety requirements in order to limit the spread of the disease, to save people, and Khabib is the only one relieved of all obligations and must demonstrate free will and train flying around the world, for the sake of fight? – I understand everything and I’m definitely upset more than you to cancel the fight, probably like all others, I had many plans after the fight, but I can’t control it all. The greatest countries and the largest companies of our time are shocked by what is happening, every day the situation changes unpredictably. But Khabib still has to fight, is that what you saying? – Take care of yourself and put yourself in my shoes. Voir l'article complet
  4. The ongoing coronavirus outbreak isn’t affecting Antonio Carlos Junior as many other fighters, the Brazilian said. That’s because Carlos Junior is currently recovering from a knee surgery that forced him out of a scheduled UFC on ESPN+ 28 fight vs. Makhmud Muradov in Brasilia. “It actually doesn’t change much for me,” Carlos Junior told MMA Junkie. “I had knee surgery four weeks ago, and all I can do is physiotherapy, but I hope I can get back slowly to training in about a month.” “I had torn my ACL during a sparring session. Recovery has been good. The doctor was excellent, and I can count on my physiotherapist, who is great.” Carlos Junior (10-4 MMA, 7-4 UFC) was initially scheduled to face Brad Tavares in Brasilia. Tavares pulled out due to injury and was replaced by Muradov, b after Carlos Junior suffered an injury of his own, the bout was subsequently scrapped from the card. With ACL injuries usually taking at least six months for full recovery, Carlos Junior is looking to return by the end of 2020, and he still wants the Tavares matchup. “Probably end of the year, November or December,” Carlos Junior said on his return. “I hope I can fight Brad Tavares; he’s a good fighter and is also in the rankings.” One fighter who recently expressed interest in fighting Carlos Junior is Marvin Vettori, who wants to avenge his 2016 loss to him, but Carlos Junior isn’t too interested in running things back. “I don’t think so,” Carlos Junior said on Vettori’s callout. “That kid is a good fighter, but he still has a lot to show if he wants to fight me again.” After winning five straight from 2016 to 2018, Carlos Junior has since dropped back-to-back decisions to Ian Heinisch and, most recently, Uriah Hall last September, a fight he thinks he won. But Carlos Junior feels primed to return to the win column once healthy and chalks those losses to circumstances outside of the octagon. “A lot of things happened in my personal life that affected me in the fight, but now everything is going great,” Carlos Junior said. “Besides, I don’t think I lost my last fight.” Voir l'article complet
  5. UFC light heavyweight contender Jan Blachowicz insists he’s at the front of the queue to fight for the title once things get back up and running again, and he’s ready to fight for the belt with or without champion Jon Jones. Speaking to Polish MMA website MMARocks.pl before Jones’ plea deal was announced, Blachowicz reacted to the news of the UFC light heavyweight champion’s recent arrest, and said Jones has a problem handling the trappings of success. “I know they let him out of the arrest, so we’ll see how the situation goes,” he said (via translation). “Obviously, the guy can’t manage the success he has, and that’s the main problem because he thinks he can do anything until something happens. “Life is unfair, (but) this is how the world works. The law is for rich people. We can’t do anything about it. We can only complain, but it is what it is. The only thing I can do is do my job in the octagon. It’s not my role to be a judge. Jon is going big time when it comes to the unnecessary gun usage involved. However, maybe the hit-and-run with the pregnant woman was even worse than this.” In the meantime, Blachowicz is sitting tight and biding his time during the coronavirus pandemic. Along with former title challengers Dominick Reyes and Thiago Santos, the Polish fighter is one of three men vying for the next shot at gold. But he said when the action resumes inside the octagon, there is nobody ahead of him in the queue to fight for the 205-pound title. “Everyone is trying to make his way to the belt, but these guys already had a chance and they didn’t take it,” he said of his two fellow contenders. “Now they can rest some, or they can fight between the two of them. I am the next in line, and nobody can get in line in front of me. They can just fight to see who’s going to be fighting me next, when I’m defending the belt (or) if anything happens and they take the belt from Jon.” Blachowicz said despite Jones’ personal issues away from the cage, his preference would be to face the reigning champion. But he admitted his focus isn’t on beating Jones specifically, it’s on winning the title. “Personally, I would prefer to fight him next for the belt, but fighting for the belt itself is the most important thing,” he said. “If they take away the belt (from Jones), or if the UFC decides to make an interim belt, I think in that situation I’d be fighting Reyes next, and then the rematch with Thiago Santos. Of course, that’s only if Jones is out of the championship race.” However, with the world currently facing a collective battle against the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, that championship race is currently at a standstill and Blachowicz said that his plans, just like those of most other people in the world, are currently on hold. “Everyone has the same problem because 90 percent of people in the world are just trying to survive now,” he said. “We are all living under a big question mark because I don’t know what will happen next. If my fight will happen, the next question is when? Right now, I cannot plan anything. I don’t even know if I will be next as a contender for the belt or if I’ll have to wait a bit longer. All the time I live a life full of question marks, like everyone else in the world.” Voir l'article complet
  6. Cris Cyborg had quite a run in the UFC. The women’s MMA pioneer achieved plenty, but also had her ups and downs both in and outside the cage. Friday will mark seven months since Cyborg (22-2 MMA, 1-0 BMMA) signed with Bellator, and the featherweight champion is happy she made the switch. “In the UFC I had a nice time, but hard times too making me think, ‘Maybe I’m going to retire, maybe going to take a break,’ because there was a lot of stress outside the cage, not just inside,” Cyborg told MMA Junkie. “And I said, ‘I really want to be happy, I love my job,’ and since signing with Bellator, it’s made me more motivated, made me dream again, and I’m happy to work with them. “It’s not about odds, it’s not about games, it’s not about damage to my brand, it’s not about lies, you know. It’s stressful, it’s not good. Then I started fighting for this (Bellator) and now I love and I’m excited here. I’m happy and I don’t have stress. I just train and do my best, that’s it.” Cyborg signed with the UFC in March 2015. At the time she joined the Las Vegas-based promotion, Cyborg held the Invicta FC featherweight championship. She went on to defend that title twice while under UFC contract before making the jump to the big promotion in fall of 2016. Looking back at the start of the UFC chapter of her storied career, Cyborg remembered she could have gone the Bellator route much earlier, as she had planned leaving Invicta FC due to a lack of fights before the UFC offer came along. “I was going to change,” Cyborg said. “The UFC didn’t have my division, so I was probably going to go with Bellator and then what happened is that UFC contacted my manager and I signed a deal with UFC. “My contract was with the UFC, but I was fighting in Invicta. I did like seven fights in Invicta , but was already a UFC fighter.” Cyborg first fought for the UFC in May 2016 on the main card of UFC 198 in her native city of Curitiba, Brazil. During a time in which the UFC did not have a women’s featherweight division, Cyborg stopped Leslie Smith in the first round of a 140-pound catchweight bout. The Brazilian thought she would go back to defend her Invicta FC featherweight title, but that didn’t turn out to be the case. “When I had my first fight with UFC, it was my final fight from Invicta FC (contract), but when I did my first fight (in the UFC), I thought I was going back to Invicta to defend my title,” Cyborg said. “Then Dana White said you’re not going back to Invicta, now you’re UFC fighter. I said, ‘Ok, but you don’t have my division and everybody knows the novela.’ I then fought at a catchweight and that was not good for me. Then we fight so much, then they opened our division.” Cyborg fought twice at 140 pounds. She had to go to drastic measures to make the weight, and the five extra pounds to make the catchweight bout took a toll on her body. According to Cyborg, that was the main reason why she didn’t fight for the inaugural women’s featherweight belt at UFC 208 “I got sick in one weight cut and I was going to fight two months later and then Dana said, ‘Ok, you don’t want to fight, cool I’m going to make the division anyways with your title fight,’ and I didn’t fight the first fight of my division because I was sick from the weight cut. But it’s nice, now they have the weight over there, cool, we made history.” Getting passed over for the crack at the first UFC women’s 145-pound belt, an opportunity which instead went to Germaine de Randamie and Holly Holm, was one of Cyborg’s many issues working with the UFC. When asked if the issues outside the octagon affected her performances inside the cage, Cyborg said it was just like any other hiccups fighters experience in the careers. “For me this didn’t affect me or anything,” said Cyborg, who ultimately defeated Tonya Evinger at UFC 214 to claim the vacated belt. “I can handle it. But in the beginning, I don’t think it affected me, but it gets harder when you have a lot of stress growing. Same when you have camp and have stress at home, you can’t train right. It’s the same thing. But this is the fight game, you know. That’s the game, but I figured it out and I chose to be happy and less stressed and love my job back.” Cyborg and the UFC mutually agreed to part ways. The UFC released Cyborg from a potential matching period after the last fight on her contract, citing they were no longer in the “Cyborg business.” The potential rematch with current UFC women’s featherweight and bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes was no longer in play after Cyborg’s release. Many, including Cyborg, wanted the Nunes rematch, as it a chance to avenge her first loss in 13 years and an opportunity to reclaim the belt. “When you talk to any fighter of course they want the rematch,” Cyborg said. “My first loss I never had an opportunity for a rematch, it was my first fight of my career in MMA. I asked for a rematch but they wouldn’t give it to me. I know at some point if it’s in God’s plans I’m going to get the rematch. Later, soon, I don’t know, but I just have to continue focusing, work hard, and if the fight happens, that be cool.” It’s impossible to tell if Nunes and Cyborg will ever fight again. But one thing is for sure: the 34-year-old Cyborg doesn’t have plans to stop fighting anytime soon. “After this deal that I did, I’m really happy to be working with Scott and now I’m motivated,” Cyborg said. I don’t see when I want to retire. I really feel great and that’s it. I feel great about fighting and I want to do some good fights for my fans, so let’s see.” Voir l'article complet
  7. It appears the fighters on the UFC London card have been taken care of financially after the event fell through due to the global coronavirus pandemic. Marvin Vettori, Nicolas Dalby and other fighters on the card who had their bouts pulled when UFC on ESPN+ 29 was scrapped in March took to social media to thank the UFC for sorting them out. California resident Vettori was scheduled to face Darren Stewart on the card and was willing to compete before a travel ban put a halt to his plans. In a unique turn of events, Stewart was rebooked on the Cage Warriors 113 card against Bartosz Fabinski, who also had lost his original UFC London opponent due to travel restrictions. Now 10 days later, Vettori said the UFC has taken care of him and posted about it on Twitter: “Thank to the @ufc for taking care of me for the London card situation, I’ve been all in from day 1 in this and it’s good to see that even in hard times like these the work im doing is being recognized. Always ready always working. Thank you @ufc @danawhite @Mickmaynard2” Thank to the @ufc for taking care of me for the London card situation, I’ve been all in from day 1 in this and it’s good to see that even in hard times like these the work im doing is being recognized. Always ready always working Thank you @ufc @danawhite @Mickmaynard2 — Marvin Vettori (@MarvinVettori) April 1, 2020 Vettori (14-3-1 MMA, 4-2-1 UFC) is coming off back-to-back wins for the first time in his UFC career with victories over Cezar Ferreira and Andrew Sanchez. The Italy native’s homeland has taken a massive hit during the pandemic, but Vettori reported this past week that his family is safe and healthy during its own lockdown. Dalby had his co-main event fight with Danny Roberts completely scrapped from the card. He made a triumphant return to the octagon this past September in his home country of Denmark with a win over Alex Oliveira by unanimous decision, giving him four straight victories. “As a fighter AND a father & family provider I would like to take a moment to thank @seanshelby, @danawhite and @ufc for stepping up and taking care of us fighters from the cancelled #UFCLondon event! These times are taking a huge hit on all of us, even UFC. So I really commend you for helping us get through this tough period so we can take care of our families and stay ready to fight as soon as possible and once again put on exciting fights for the fans, in the best fight promotion in the world #Thankful | #GoodKarma | #StaySafe” More fighters chimed in with their gratitude toward the UFC while they cope through these tough times. Thankyou @ufc @UFCEurope @seanshelby @danawhite supporting us fighters during these tough times for everyone this helps us look after our families and takes the edge off us not being able to fight at #UFCLondon but I can assure you I will be ready to fight when ever — Mike Grundy (@MGWRESTLING) April 1, 2020 Leading up to #UFCLondon fight week was pretty nerve racking with all the things that were happening. I was prepared to fight. But it was out of our control and not meant to be. Thank you @ufc @danawhite @Mickmaynard2 for taking care of us despite the cancellation. I’m ready. — Jake Collier (@Jakecollier88) April 1, 2020 Staying ready for April 18th. big mouth! And, yes we received some compensation for the cancelled #UFC card. Big ups to them for that. @hustleaestheti1 @SPECIMEN_FG @ko_reps pic.twitter.com/oagAd2BUyV — Kevin Holland (@Trailblaze2top) April 1, 2020 Gallery Marvin Vettori def. Andrew Sanchez at UFC on ESPN+ 19: Best photos view 20 images Gallery Nicolas Dalby def. Alex Oliveira at UFC on ESPN+ 18: Best photos view 16 images Voir l'article complet
  8. MMA Junkie Radio hosts “Gorgeous” George and “Goze” will go live Wednesday at noon ET with streaming commentary and analysis via SportsCastr. They’ll discuss Jon Jones’ latest arrest and plea deal, Bellator deciding to postpone all its May events, PFL putting its season on hold, what’s going on in the UFC’s welterweight division, and much more. Be sure to check back and follow @MMAjunkie, @MMAjunkieRadio and @SportsCastrLive on Twitter to be notified when the guys go live. Voir l'article complet
  9. It puts him perhaps in the minority among fighters, but Derrick Lewis isn’t too keen on fighting during the global coronavirus pandemic. It certainly helps that Lewis just fought in February, when he rallied to defeat Ilir Latifi with a unanimous decision at UFC 247. But with coronavirus continuing to spread, Lewis (23-7 MMA, 14-5 UFC) doesn’t think it’s worth risking his health and potentially compromising the health of his family members by fighting right now. “Of course I want to get through this safely,” Lewis told MMA Junkie. “I can’t be selfish and stuff like that and go out there and get myself sick and all my family, and bringing back whatever I got and give it to my kids and stuff like that, and my loved ones. So I’ve got to be not selfish enough and just wait and see what the president has to say about everything and just look up to the leaders and just see what they have to say.” He does have a targeted event in mind, though, when the UFC returns once again to his home state of Texas on June 27. “June – I’ll be fighting in June in Austin, Texas,” Lewis said. Initially looking for an active 2020, Lewis knows it’s highly unlikely considering the UFC already has been forced to postpone three events – and possibly more down the line. “That was my goal – to shoot (for) four fights this year before all this stuff happened,” Lewis said. “So we’ll see if we can do three. But what it’s looking like right now – it (doesn’t) look like it. So if we can get another one in, that would be great. If not, that’s fine.” After dropping two straight, including a failed attempt at capturing the UFC heavyweight title against former champion Daniel Cormier in 2018, Lewis has bounced back with two straight wins over Blagoy Ivanov and Latifi. But for Lewis, the climb back is not necessarily toward the title. “I don’t really care about the title, even if it’s more money – but just the headache that comes with being a champion and stuff like that,” Lewis said. “All the media stuff and the attention it gets, I’m not really in it for all of that because I’m not really a people person. That’s the reason why I say crazy stuff in my interviews. Like, I hate doing interviews and stuff – I just want people to get the hell away from me.” Voir l'article complet
  10. Veteran boxing promoter Bob Arum has taken aim at Dana White over the UFC president’s dogged determination to go ahead with UFC 249. While most of the sporting world has gone into temporary shutdown during the COVID-19 pandemic, White has remained steadfast in his commitment to keep the UFC’s April 18 pay-per-view event alive. That approach has led to criticism from some quarters, with 88-year-old Arum telling CBS Sports’ “State of Combat” podcast that White “should be ashamed of himself” for continuing to push for the show. “What’s going on in this country and the world with this virus, the last thing we need is for an event to take place with no spectators just to get the event to take place,” he said. “But the truth is, Dana White is somebody with a flawed intelligence.” While White is persisting with his plans to keep UFC 249 going, Hall of Fame boxing promoter Arum has completely shut down his events and says he won’t make any firm plans for his next slate of shows until he knows what’s happening with the ongoing coronavirus situation. “People ask me what plans I’m making for these fights when we will get the all clear. Because I don’t know when the all clear is going to be and I have no idea whether it will be two months, three months or even the rest of the year, I’m not making any plans right now,” he said. “When this thing looks like it’s clearing up, we will start making plans.” It remains unclear what form UFC 249 will take, with no news confirmed on either the fight card or the location of the event. As things stand, it seems unlikely the planned UFC lightweight title fight between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson will form the headline act on the card, with Nurmagomedov currently stuck in Russia. However, a host of fighters have since made public their willingness to step in and fight on the card, with Dustin Poirier, Tyron Woodley, Kamaru Usman and Jorge Masvidal all throwing their hats into the ring for a possible spot. Voir l'article complet
  11. Fans in the U.S. saw Donald Trump do it. Viewers in the U.K. saw former Tottenham Hotspur owner Alan Sugar do it. Now, martial arts fans around the world will see ONE Championship chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong take the reins of one of the most popular reality shows in the world, and he’s bringing backup. Sityodtong is the figurehead of the latest iteration of “The Apprentice,” which will feature 16 contestants from across the globe, who will battle it out over a series of challenges to earn the prize of a $250,000 job to work for a year as Sityodtong’s protege at ONE Championship’s global headquarters in Singapore. Unlike previous versions of “The Apprentice,” the ONE Championship version of the show will require its candidates to undertake physical challenges, as well as business tests and, judging by the official trailer video above, it looks like a host of ONE Championship stars are set to play a part over the course of the 13-episode series, with “12 World Champions” featured on the show. The candidates aren’t likely to include many figures we know, but it did get us thinking about how the show might look if we threw all of the world’s top MMA promoters and industry figures into one big show like this. Whose business acumen would shine through? Whose personality would dominate the negotiating table? Who’d make friends, and who’d lose them? Check out the full promo for “The Apprentice: ONE Championship Edition” above. 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
  12. Twenty-two fighters have made their UFC debuts so far in 2020, with 10 of them picking up victories to give their careers on the biggest stage a winning start. Of those 10 winners, there were five newcomers who stood out as they delivered A-grade performances on their respective debuts. Here, we recap their displays as we look back at the best rookie performances of 2020 so far. * * * * Daniel Rodriguez If there’s one thing UFC fans love to see, it’s a fighter who will step in the cage and throw down, even when it’s against someone who has built a winning reputation for doing the same. That’s exactly what we saw from welterweight Daniel Rodriguez at UFC on ESPN+ 25 in Rio Rancho, N.M., as he went toe-to-toe with Tim Means before eventually finishing “The Dirty Bird” via submission inside two rounds. Despite facing such well-established, respected opposition, Rodriguez (11-1 MMA, 1-0 UFC) showcased the sort of composure you’d expect to see from a 10-fight UFC veteran, as he outstruck Means, dropped him, and then submitted him with a standing guillotine to cap off an outstanding octagon debut. What made his performance all the more impressive was the fact that Rodriguez had the deck stacked against him but still prevailed. He was facing a dangerous veteran, in Means’s home state of New Mexico, on just three weeks’ notice. That’s as tough an assignment as you could expect to receive in your UFC debut, yet Rodriguez passed with flying colors. Welcome to the UFC Daniel Rodriguez! #UFCRioRancho pic.twitter.com/wuQhy86Cns — UFC (@ufc) February 16, 2020 Next up: A submission specialist delivers a knockout performance. 1 2 3 4 5 …6Voir l'article complet
  13. There’s “Flashback Friday” and “Throwback Thursday” (and Tuesday, too, if you want). But at MMA Junkie, we figured why not expand that to every day? “Combat Rewind” brings you some of combat sports’ best highlights from every calendar day of the year. It’s a look back at history, courtesy of the UFC Fight Pass archives, featuring stellar finishes and classic moments in MMA and beyond on their anniversaries. So kick back and relive the following bits of greatness in the video above: Strikeforce Challengers 15: James Terry vs. Josh Thornburg – April 1, 2011 Strikeforce Challengers 15: Lorenz Larkin vs. Scott Lighty – April 1, 2011 Shooto Japan: Wataru Miki vs. Takayoshi Ono – April 1, 2011 Victory FC 49: Raufeon Stots vs. William Joplin – April 1, 2016 Fight footage courtesy of UFC Fight Pass, the UFC’s official digital subscription service, which is currently offering a seven-day free trial. UFC Fight Pass gives fans access to exclusive live UFC events and fights, exclusive live MMA and combat sports events from around the world, exclusive original and behind the scenes content and unprecedented 24-7 access to the world’s biggest fight library. Voir l'article complet
  14. It’s been more than two months since Andre Fili dropped a unanimous decision to fast-rising prospect Sodiq Yusuff, but the frustration seems as fresh as the moment the judges’ scores were read. “That one hurt bad, dude,” Fili told MMA Junkie. “I can’t lie. I can’t pretend like, ‘Oh yeah, you earn more from your losses.’ Man, (expletive) all that, dude. That hurt bad.” Riding the high of a “Performance of the Night” win in his hometown six months earlier, Fili entered the UFC 246 clash with Yusuff brimming with confidence. A back-and-forth clash top open steered toward Yusuff’s favor in the second. Fili dug deep in the third, but it wasn’t enough, and Yusuff was awarded a decision win. Fili said he did take lessons from the performance, but it doesn’t make the result sit any more comfortably in his mind. “I thought I won the fight, but I also know I had a better fight in me, and had I of just fought to my potential, it wouldn’t have been – had the whole fight looked like the third round, there wouldn’t have been any doubt,” Fili said. “There wouldn’t have been any judges (expletive) it up or anything like that. Had I of finished the fight, there wouldn’t have been any bull(expletive), and that’s on me. That’s not anyone else. “That’s the thing about fighting – the finality of it. I really believe I won that fight, but now forever, the record book will always just say I lost that fight. It won’t say, ‘Oh, I probably actually won rounds 1 and 3.’ Like, ‘Oh, a lot of people told me it was a robbery.’ None of that (expletive) matters. It’s just the record says that I lost. Dealing with that finality as a fighter is hard. You put your heart and soul into this (expletive), and then you’ve got to just face the fact that you put everything that you have into this thing, and it doesn’t work out. It hurts bad.” A longtime member of California’s famed Team Alpha Male, Fili (20-7 MMA, 8-6 UFC) has shown flashes of his capabilities during a seven-year UFC run. But “Touchy” says he’s not interested in just competing in the sport’s biggest promotion. He has championship aspirations, and he knows every loss along the way sets back the timeline he wants to accomplish. While some fighters can simply accept setbacks and move forward, Fili said that’s not the way he is wired. “Unless you’ve chased something and put your entire soul into it and come up short, it’s hard to understand that losing a fight hurts like that,” Fili said. “But I’m excited to fight again. I love this (expletive). I’ll do this (expletive) until I can’t. I just want to make good on my potential. I want to, all the people who invested in me and stood by me who see the potential I have and see that I’m a world champion-caliber fighter and I have the potential, I want to make that investment worthwhile. For myself, I just want to get back in there and get a win.” The ongoing coronavirus pandemic means the UFC’s schedule is anything but a certainty moving forward. But Fili said he’s staying prepared for anything and would really like the opportunity to compete on the May 16 card currently scheduled to take place in his home state. “I’m trying to get on that May 16 card in San Diego if that still happens, which I really hope to God it happens because it’s nice and close to home,” Fili said. “San Diego is a dope city. California fans are the (expletive) best. And I don’t really give a (expletive) about an opponent. I want to fight the best guys in the world.” And beat them, of course. Fili knows MMA fans can be fickle, with “What have you done for me lately?” a very clear concern. But a few months shy of his 30th birthday, Fili says he’s not concerned with the opinion of others. He knows what matters most. “I genuinely just want to fight the best guys in the world, and I want to beat ’em,” Fili said. “I want to get my hand raised. I want to show everybody and show myself that I’m the best ’45er in the world. Like, I really believe that, and I know people will hear this and roll their eyes, and I know people will comment and talk (expletive) and tag me losing this – like, I know for a fact people are going to roll their eyes and talk (expletive) when I say I’m the best ’45er in the world, but I really believe that I am. I think I’ve shown flashes of it, and I just want to get back in there and really manifest and capitalize on this potential. “I’ve been training with the best guys in the world. I’ve beaten some of the best guys in the world already. I just want to keep going.” Voir l'article complet
  15. If one thing is certain right now, it’s that nothing is certain. The current COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on every aspect of the world’s global operations, and the sporting world is no different. Both the UFC and Bellator have canceled events, and the PFL has been forced to delay its 2020 season. Next up on the chopping block is a long-awaited UFC lightweight title fight between current champ Khabib Nurmagomedov and former interim titleholder Tony Ferguson. Ranked in the top two slots of the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMA Junkie MMA lightweight rankings, the two were expected to face off at UFC 249 on April 18, but that card taking place anywhere in the world seems like anything but a guarantee, even as UFC president Dana White does his best to try and keep it together. Nurmagomedov is currently in Russia, where he faces an international travel ban that could keep him in the country. And, of course, White hasn’t even announced if he has a location for the card secured. Related Kamaru Usman willing to 'risk it all' with UFC 249 title defense; Jorge Masvidal's manager calls foul Twitter reacts to Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Tony Ferguson being in jeopardy at UFC 249 No. 4 Justin Gaethje has been mentioned as a possible replacement opponent for Ferguson, but “The Highlight” has often mentioned his disdain for taking short-notice fights, and he’s been linked to a summer fight with No. 5 Conor McGregor, as well. No. 3 Dustin Poirier has also mentioned his willingness to step up on short notice, but he’s been expected to face No. 7 Dan Hooker on May 16 in California – of course, assuming that fight card still takes place, as well. In the meantime, No. 6 Charles Oliveira is due for a big fight after his recent win over Kevin Lee – the main event of a March 14 card in Brasilia that, right now registers “Do Bronx” as the last UFC fighter to pick up a win in the octagon. And, of course, if there was ever a fighter that would be willing to fight during a global pandemic, perhaps on an aircraft carrier out in international waters or maybe in a C-17 flying a few miles up over the Earth’s surface, No. 7 Donald Cerrone probably knows a guy. In other words, much like everything else in our world, who really knows what’s going to happen next? While we wait, check out the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMA Junkie rankings, which, for now, look a lot like last week’s rankings, as well. Voir l'article complet

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