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  1. At first glance, the video looks like your average bro prank – an ambush with a charlie horse. A trio of civilians barely notice when veteran MMA heavyweight Cheick Kongo sneaks up and slaps welterweight Paul Kelly with a leg kick, forcing him to do a walk of shame through the suit section of Nordstrom at a Las Vegas mall. Much giggling ensures (via YouTube): It was 2008, and Kongo and Kelly were two members of Wolfslair MMA, one of the more preeminent teams in the sport. A bond forged by shared blood and sweat gave way to a brotherly rivalry outside the gym, and the mild-mannered Kongo was always the one getting pranked. The thing was, Kelly really knew how to get his teammate – all he had to do was mess with Kongo’s food on fight week. Salt was a preferred weapon. “I was like, ‘Paul, please stop. You’re going to pay for that,'” Kongo recently told MMAjunkie Radio, recalling that time period. “And he was like, ‘Yeah, you won’t do (expletive).'” Related That crazy 2011 win over Pat Barry? Why it's not Cheick Kongo's greatest comeback If that wasn’t an invitation, nothing was. Kongo planned his sneak attack for the mall. He even got a coach to film the whole thing so the world would see Kelly’s reaction, which turned out to be even better than he could have imagined. Ten years later, Kongo can’t tell the whole story without laughing. “I kicked him because people used to think, ‘Oh, Cheick Kongo is a goodie,'” he said. “But I’m not.” As it turned out, those years in the late 2000s were something of a peak for Wolfslair MMA. Beset by conflicts between management and talent, the team fractured as several top fighters left. At one point, the team’s facility was burned to the ground under suspicious circumstances. Related Cheick Kongo thinks KO win has him in mix to fight eventual Bellator heavyweight champ Kelly (14-5) was released by the UFC in 2011 after a loss to Donald Cerrone, and his life took a dark turn two years later when he was convicted and sent to prison for dealing heroin. Kongo (28-10-2 MMA, 10-2 BMMA) was released by the industry-leader in 2013 and found a fresh start under the Bellator banner. Earlier this month, he picked up his sixth straight win after knocking out Jay Ayala at Bellator 199. Despite the downturn ending of Wolfslair, Kongo looks back on that time with great fondness. While it lasted, it was a great team. “That was memories for life,” he said. For more on Bellator’s upcoming schedule, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site. The Blue Corner is MMAjunkie’s blog space. We don’t take it overly seriously, 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. MMAjunkie Radio broadcasts Monday-Friday at 1 p.m. ET (10 a.m. PT) live from Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino’s Race & Sports Book. The show is hosted by “Gorgeous” George Garcia, Brian “Goze” Garcia and Dan Tom. For more information or to download past episodes, go to Gallery Cheick Kongo def. Javy Ayala at Bellator 199: Best photos view 4 images Voir l'article complet
  2. LONDON – Things got a bit heated – and a little comical – at today’s Bellator 200 media-day face-offs. The media event, which took place at Urban Kings Gym in London, featured all of the main-card fighters. Following the loss of a planned headliner between Mirko Cro Cop (36-11-2 MMA, 0-0 BMMA) and Roy Nelson (23-15 MMA, 1-1 BMMA), middleweight champion Rafael Carvalho (15-1 MMA, 6-0 BMMA) and challenger Gegard Mousasi (43-6-2 MMA, 1-0 BMMA) move up from the co-main-event slot and now top the card. Related Bellator 200 open workout video highlights: Mousasi, Page, Carvalho, Chalmers get busy Bellator 200 takes place Friday at The SSE Arena in London, and the main card airs via same-day delay on Paramount following live prelims on the Bellator app. The Carvalho-Mousasi face-off was a fairly uneventful and mundane affair. The same goes for main-card openers and female flyweights Kate Jackson (9-3-1 MMA, 1-1 BMMA) and Anastasia Yankova (5-0 MMA, 3-0 BMMA), as well as light heavyweights Phil Davis (18-4 MMA, 5-1 BMMA) and Linton Vassell (18-6 MMA, 7-3 BMMA). However, when co-headliner Michael Page (12-0 MMA, 8-0 BMMA) seemed to play up his height advantage and mock his opponent, David Rickels (19-4 MMA, 11-4 BMMA) pretended to rip out “MVP’s” heart and hold it up for the viewers. It elicited some laughs. Related Michael Page respects David Rickels but needs reminding of who 'Paula Tampax Daley' is Additionally, Aaron Chalmers (3-0 MMA, 0-0 BMMA) and Ash Griffiths (4-5 MMA, 0-1 BMMA), who meet in a catchweight bout, got squishy-nosed when they met for a very intimate face-off. Check out all of the face-offs and photos opps above. And for more on Bellator 200, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site. Voir l'article complet
  3. Gallery Roy Nelson def. Mirko Cro Cop at UFC 137: Best photos view 12 images There will be no last-minute opponent for Roy Nelson at Bellator 200. Bellator President Scott Coker today told MMAjunkie that Nelson has officially been pulled from Friday’s lineup. On Monday would-be opponent Mirko Cro Cop (36-11-2 MMA, 0-0 BMMA) was forced out of his planned heavyweight headliner with Nelson (23-15 MMA, 1-1 BMMA) due to knee injuries and surgery (via Instagram): Bellator 200 takes place at The SSE Arena in London, and the main card airs via same-day delay on Paramount following live prelims on the Bellator app. Nelson and Cro Cop were fighting for the No. 1 alternate slot in Bellator’s yearlong heavyweight grand prix. And though officially initially said they hoped to find a replacement on short notice, they’ve since confirmed the bout has been scrapped. Coker said Nelson will be compensated for the lost fight, though an exact amount wasn’t disclosed. Coker also said Nelson would be rebooked as quickly as possible for another card. The latest Bellator 200 card includes: MAIN CARD (Paramount (tape delay), 9 p.m. ET) Champ Rafael Carvalho vs. Gegard Mousasi – for middleweight title Michael Page vs. David Rickels Phil Davis vs. Linton Vassell Aaron Chalmers vs. Ash Griffiths Kate Jackson vs. Anastasia Yankova PRELIMINARY CARD (Bellator app, 12:30 p.m. ET) Vladimir Filipovic vs. Anatoly Tokov Pedro Carvalho vs. Daniel Crawford Martyn Harris vs. Ryan Scope Carl Noon vs. Mike Shipman Louis King vs. Charlie Ward Jeremy Petley vs. Saul Rogers Kevin Fryer vs. Costello Van Steenis Tom Green vs. Charlie Leary Walter Gahadza vs. Kent Kauppinen Jahreau Shepherd vs. Marcin Zywica Chad Griffiths vs. Tom Mearns Amir Albazi vs. Iurie Bejenari For more on Bellator 200, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site. Voir l'article complet
  4. Two former title challengers will meet in next month’s LFA 43 main event. Officials today announced former LFA title challenger Brendan Allen (8-3) and ex-Legacy FC title challenger Larry Crowe (10-6) are slated for the middleweight headliner. LFA 43 takes place June 22 at Beaumont Civic Center in Beaumont, and it marks the organization’s debut in the southeast Texas city. The main card airs on AXS TV. Related LFA gets new majority owner, plans to stay premier developmental organization Allen, a 22-year-old Louisianan and current Roufusport fighter, is 1-2 in his past three fights, though the defeats – both via decision – came to now-UFC fighter Eryk Anders and Anthony Hernandez in fights for the vacant LFA middleweight bout. Outside of those two title losses, he’s 8-1 with eight stoppages. He now meets Crowe, a 34-year-old Texan who competed throughout the existence of Legacy FC, which eventually merged with RFA to become LFA. There, he came up short in title fights with Bubba Bush and Leo Leites, but he recently made a successful LFA debut and scored a split-decision win over Bilal Williams. The latest LFA 43 card includes: Brendan Allen vs. Larry Crowe Jake Heffernan vs. Peter Stanonik Kolton Englund vs. Juan Gonzalez Cameron Graves vs. Jordan Titoni Itzel Esquivel vs. Desiree Yanez Jeremy Hardy vs. Joel Moore For more on LFA 43, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site. Voir l'article complet
  5. Aung La N Sang will put one of his two belts on the line at “ONE Championship 75: Spirit of a Warrior.” Sang (22-10), the organization’s reigning middleweight and light-heavyweight titleholder, looks to defend the middleweight strap when he fights challenger Ken Hasegawa (16-2-1) in the upcoming main event. ONE Championship 75 takes place June 29 at Thuwunna Indoor Stadium in Yangon, Myanmar, and the event streams on the ONE Championship app. Sang, a 33-year-old Burmese fighter, is on a 7-1 run. In his most recent bout, he picked up the light-heavyweight title after knocking out Alexandre Machado in just 56 seconds. Related ONE Championship 68 results: Aung La N Sang two-division champ after KO in 56 seconds Two bouts earlier, he won the 185-pound belt after scoring a decision victory over Vitaly Bigdash, which was followed by a first-round submission win over Alain Ngalani in a non-title open-weight/heavyweight bout. He now returns to middleweight to fight Hasegawa, a 31-year-old Japanese fighter. The former DEEP and Rizin FF competitor, who’s on a 4-1 run (with three stoppages), now makes his ONE Championship debut. Additional ONE Championship 75 matchups will be announced in the coming weeks. For more on ONE Championship 75, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site. Voir l'article complet
  6. LONDON – It only took Bellator middleweight champion Rafael Carvalho three title defenses to meet the challenge of his career. Carvalho (15-1 MMA, 6-0 BMMA) believes defense No. 4, which comes Friday against decorated veteran Gegard Mousasi (43-6-2 MMA, 1-0 BMMA), will test him in a way he’s never experienced. “I’ve never used all I can do in a fight,” Carvalho told reporters through a translator at a media day for Bellator 200. “In this fight, I see it as the hardest fight for me. Because every fight I’ve reinvented myself, and this fight, I see myself having to use everything I know.” Related Gegard Mousasi 'more nervous than normal' for Bellator 200 title fight vs. Rafael Carvalho The middle weight title fight headlines the Paramount-televised main card at The SSE Arena in London, which airs via same-day tape delay. The fight was promoted to the main event after heavyweight legend Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic was forced to withdraw from a fight against Roy Nelson due to injury. Carvalho is the betting underdog heading into the fight, but that’s nothing new for him despite his long run as champion. The fact is, he flies under the radar with his humble personality, leaving only his performances to do the talking. “Every fighter promotes himself in a different way, and I like to show what I can do,” he said. “I don’t like to trash talk my opponents. I have respect for my opponents, and I show what I can do in the cage.” Related Champ Rafael Carvalho: Win over Gegard Mousasi at Bellator 200 will solidify entire career Lately, Carvalho has spoken loudly with knockout wins over Melvin Manhoef and Alessio Sakara. But a win over Mousasi would bring unquestionable legitimacy to his reign as champ. “Ever since I started in Bellator, I have always been the underdog,” Carvalho said. “But every time I’m the underdog, I end up with my arms in the air. So you can keep me as the underdog, and I’ll be raising my hand.” All he has to do is deliver the performance of a lifetime Friday. For more on Bellator 200, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site. Voir l'article complet
  7. ESPN has seized control of the UFC’s television rights from FOX Sports. Variety reported late Tuesday night that the Disney-owned network, which already secured the digital rights to UFC programming, will broadcast 30 events total per year under a new deal worth about $300 million annually for five years, equaling $1.5 billion. While that’s about double the current seven-year deal with FOX, which paid about $100 million annually, it’s still well below the $$400-450 million that Endeavor – known as WME-IMG when it acquired UFC for $4 billion in July 2016 – was seeking in negotiations for UFC TV rights. When Endeavor acquired its longtime streaming partner, NeuLion, for $250 million, there was talk that the UFC could bypass networks altogether to broadcast its most desirable non-PPV fights. But that won’t be the case. Related What does UFC bring to ESPN? Former UFC exec and current GLORY CEO weighs in ESPN and UFC agreed on a multi-year digital rights deal worth around $150 million per year. That deal included 15 exclusive fight cards for ESPN’s new streaming service, ESPN+. News of the UFC-ESPN TV deal could be a major blow for FOX’s sports cable outlets, FS1 and FS2. Both channels relied heavily on UFC programming, which is currently one of the few draws on FS2. FOX Sports had an exclusive negotiation window for UFC TV rights that expired late last year. The loss of the UFC could be cushioned with the network’s WWE deal that is expected to be announced soon. FOX leaned on UFC for the launch of FS1 and FS2 in August 2013. The fights were typically among the network’s most-watched shows as its daily mainstays of talking heads failed to gain traction against dominant ESPN. Gallery Photos: Best of UFC octagon girls view 25 images With the UFC’s full TV rights in hand, ESPN has another tool as carriage agreements with cable and satellite companies expire. ESPN has undergone a series of cutbacks in recent years, many attributed to the decline of its subscriber base. ESPN, however, still remains highly profitable, largely because it commands more than $7 per subscriber each month just for the main ESPN network. That number rises past $9 for ESPN2 and its other channels. FOX, by comparison, gets less than $2 per month. The addition of the UFC to a mix that already includes agreements with every major U.S. sports league (except the NHL), along with major college sports properties such as the College Football Playoff, gives ESPN another reason to seek at least the same amount it charges to cable, satellite and over-the-top (OTT) video services (ie: SlingTV and DirecTV Now) providers. It remains unclear how many pay-per-views the UFC will roll out in 2019. The typical number annually is 12 or 13. If that holds, the UFC will see a marginal increase in its complete schedule. In 2017, the promotion put on 39 events. For more on the UFC’s upcoming schedule, visit the UFC Rumors section of the site. Voir l'article complet
  8. LONDON – Bellator held open workouts Tuesday for Bellator 200, and MMAjunkie was on the scene. Bellator 200 takes place Friday at The SSE Arena in London and airs on Paramount via same-day tape delay. In the headliner, middleweight champion Rafael Carvalho (15-1 MMA, 6-0 BMMA) looks to defend his title against Gegard Mousasi (43-6-2 MMA, 1-0 BMMA). And in the co-main event, Michael Page (12-0 MMA, 8-0 BMMA) will make his much-anticipated return to the cage after 18 months when he faces David Rickels (19-4 MMA, 13-4 BMMA). Watch the video above to catch Carvalho, Mousasi and Page, as well as Aaron Chalmers (3-0 MMA, 0-0 BMMA), getting in some work during the open workouts. For more on Bellator 200, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site. Voir l'article complet
  9. How much is a five-round unanimous-decision win over Demian Maia worth? Probably not as much as Kamaru Usman wishes. Usman (13-1 MMA, 8-0 UFC) didn’t put on the emphatic, spectacular performance he promised, but he did still manage to dominate Maia (25-8 MMA, 19-8 UFC) for a victory at UFC Fight Night 129. The welterweight bout was the main event of this past Saturday’s show from Movistar Arena in Santiago, Chile, and it aired on FS1 following prelims on FS2 and UFC Fight Pass. Usman now boasts an overall 12-fight winning streak, which includes an 8-0 mark in the UFC, after handing Maia the first three-fight skid of his career. Usman made it clear afterward that he believes his next fight should be for the title. But if the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA welterweight rankings are any indication, he still has work to do to get there. All Usman did was swap spots with Maia, moving up from No. 8 to No. 7. For complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 129, visit the UFC events section of the site. Gallery Kamaru Usman def. Demian Maia at UFC Fight Night 129: Best photos view 16 images Voir l'article complet
  10. Gallery Photos: Best of Al Iaquinta view 18 images Fresh off the bizarre turn of events that saw him sort of but maybe not really fight for the UFC lightweight title, Al Iaquinta has a new opponent in mind. And, yeah, it’s Justin Gaethje. And, yes, that does sound like an awesome idea. Responding to a fan query on his “Call Me Al” podcast this week, Iaquinta teased the possibility of a bout with Gaethje this summer. “We’re hoping for sometime in August,” Iaquinta said. “August, September. I think (the UFC) wanted it to be sooner, but that guy needs a rest. I was looking out for his health with that one. He needs a break for a minute. If it goes down the way it’s supposed to, it’ll be a good fight, a tough fight.” Related Full camp? Ray Longo says Al Iaquinta-Khabib Nurmagomedov would've been 'totally different ballgame' When pressed about whether the fight was being seriously discussed with the UFC, Iaquinta replied “little bit,” just to remain as coy as possible while also sounding like Robert De Niro in “Goodfellas.” We don’t have to tell you that this would be a whole lot of fun, right? You think “Ragin’ Al” vs. Gaethje, and you can’t help but feel like these violent delights have violent ends. But does it make sense for both of them right now? First you’ve got Iaquinta, who got an unexpected upgrade when he was shuffled from the undercard to the headliner of UFC 223 at the last minute. His unanimous-decision loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov snapped a five-fight winning streak, but he still went the distance with arguably the best lightweight in the game, and after preparing for a completely different opponent in a three-round fight. Related On Dustin Poirier, Justin Gaethje, and the competing visions of success in today's UFC Then you’ve got Gaethje, who’s currently riding the most exciting two-fight losing streak in UFC history. He got knocked out first by Eddie Alvarez and then by Dustin Poirier, but in his defense: a) both those guys are really good, and b) they were two of the best fights we’ve seen in 2017 and this year, and Gaethje was the common denominator in both. Actually, the more you think about it, the more perfect the Iaquinta-Gaethje matchup seems. Two exciting fighters, both coming off losses that didn’t exactly send their stocks plummeting? Why not throw them in there together? It seems borderline impossible that it wouldn’t result in a really good time – at least for the people outside of the cage. Though, Iaquinta does have a point about waiting another few months to make it happen, if only for the sake of Gaethje’s brain health. Ideally, he wouldn’t be the only person in this equation concerned about that. For more on the UFC’s upcoming schedule, visit the UFC Rumors section of the site. The Blue Corner is MMAjunkie’s blog space. We don’t take it overly seriously, 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. Gallery Dustin Poirier def. Justin Gaethje at UFC on FOX 29: Best photos view 13 images Voir l'article complet
  11. Fabricio Werdum appears to have been blindsided by the first failed drug test of his career. The UFC today announced that Werdum, a former heavyweight champion, was notified today of a potential anti-doping violation by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency. His potential violation stems from an out-of-competition sample collected April 25, slightly over one month after his knockout loss to Alexander Volkov (30-6 MMA, 4-0 UFC) at UFC Fight Night 127. In his first public address, Werdum, 40, called the situation a “misunderstanding” on Instagram. Hey guys, I got up this morning to the news that one of my urine samples from April tested positive for a prohibited substance. I am working with my team, the UFC and USADA to understand what happened. I’ve always been careful with everything I take and I’ve always supported a clean sport. We will work hard to solve this misunderstanding and I hope soon to be able to go back to the octagon and do what I love Related Colby Covington wastes no time blasting Fabricio Werdum after potential USADA violation Werdum (23-8-1 MMA, 11-5 UFC) reportedly was set to face Aleksei Oliynyk (56-11-1 MMA, 5-2 UFC) at UFC Fight Night 136 on Sept. 15 in Moscow. In light of USADA’s notification, it’s unlikely those plans will hold. USADA will now oversee the results management process before making a final ruling on Werdum’s case. Werdum’s loss to Volkov snapped a two-fight winning streak. On a quest to recapture the UFC heavyweight title he lost to current champ Stipe Miocic, Werdum has gone 3-2 in the octagon since then. For more on the UFC’s upcoming schedule, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site. Gallery Photos: Best of Fabricio Werdum view 28 images Voir l'article complet
  12. LONDON – More than 50 bouts into his professional career, Bellator middleweight title challenger Gegard Mousasi isn’t immune to pre-fight jitters. “I’m more nervous than normal, especially coming off a fight like my previous fight,” Mousasi told reporters prior to his fight with middleweight champ Rafael Carvalho, which headlines Bellator 200 on Friday at The SSE Arena in London. “But I know once the cage door closes, everything goes automatic. So I don’t worry about it.” Mousasi has been around long enough to experience the wild swings that accompany a long career in MMA. Still, he isn’t pleased by his win over ex-champ Alexander Shlemenko, which served as his promotional debut this past October after a highly publicized defection from the UFC. Related Champ Rafael Carvalho: Win over Gegard Mousasi at Bellator 200 will solidify entire career Even though he suffered a serious eye injury that bothers him to this day, Mousasi views his follow-up as a chance to prove he’s more than someone who merely survived a tough opponent. Although Mousasi (43-6-2 MMA, 1-0 BMMA) might have some nerves about being his best on fight night, he’s not particularly concerned about what Carvalho (15-1 MMA, 6-0 BMMA) brings to the table. Mousasi isn’t impressed by what he’s seen from the Brazilian champ despite three title defenses. What he sees is a one-sided fighter vulnerable to different attacks. “I have a lot of advantages, because he’s not a wrestler,” Mousasi said. “He’s not really a jiu-jitsu guy. He doesn’t push the pace, so it’s an advantage for me. I have my game plan.” Carvalho’s height and length is about the only thing that gives Mousasi pause. He’s come in lighter than usual to be the faster fighter, which he figures will give him another edge if the clash goes the distance. Gallery Photos: Best of Gegard Mousasi view 29 images “I heard he has difficulties with weight cuts, because he’s so big,” Mousasi said. “Strength won’t be a factor in this fight, I believe. So speed is on my side. I feel like I will be the stronger fighter.” Over 15 years of experience haven’t numbed Mousasi to the awareness that a major title is on the line when he steps into the cage on Friday. A decorated run in the UFC did not lead to a belt; it’s been seven years since he walked into a fight as a titleholder. Winning the Bellator middleweight championship would validate his move. Carvalho is waiting to spoil that scenario, so it’s up to Mousasi to put all that cage time to use. For more on Bellator 200, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site. Voir l'article complet
  13. In some ways, maybe Mauro Ranallo didn’t really want to have a catchphrase. But given his “Mamma mia!” exclamation turned out to be the one he’s best known for, he’s OK with it. It turns out the phrase the veteran combat sports announcer has yelled countless times has been a tribute to his mother all along. “It’s a tribute to my mom,” Ranallo recently told MMAjunkie. “Duilia Ranallo is my biggest supporter, and she has had the worst, probably, life of anyone I can imagine in terms of her health. She lost her eye when she was 6 years old in Italy. She’s been on long-term disability longer than I can remember. She has every health condition you can think of. And yet, what a spirit. (It’s) just a tribute to my mom, because she’s always been there for me.” Related Watch Mauro Ranallo's emotional appearance on MMAjunkie Radio to discuss bipolar disorder Ranallo, who started calling himself the “Bipolar Rock ‘N’ Roller” early in his career in Canada, has called thousands of MMA, boxing, kickboxing and pro wrestling fights over the years. Ranallo, who now also calls fights for Bellator, is the subject of an intimate documentary that debuts Friday on Showtime (9 p.m. ET/PT). The film – titled simply “Bipolar Rock ‘N Roller” – explores Ranallo and his lifelong battle with bipolar disorder. And it’s that early struggle with his mental illness that he says took a toll on his mother, as well. “She’d been put through the ringer by all of us, but especially me, because when you don’t understand something (like mental illness) and you see your child in a hospital bed …” Ranallo said his mom watches the fights he calls – even though she’s not a big fan of MMA. So it must have been a major thrill for her to hear the crowd at the WWE’s NXT Takeover event in New Orleans a year ago chanting “Mamma mia!” after Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa crashed through the announcers’ table, leaving Ranallo running for cover. Check out the full clip with Ranallo above. Below, watch his full recent interview on MMAjunkie Radio. And for more on Bellator’s upcoming schedule, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site. Voir l'article complet
  14. LONDON – Bellator hasn’t yet had success in finding a replacement opponent for Roy Nelson after Mirko Cro Crop dropped out of their heavyweight headliner that was set for Bellator 200 on Friday. But, hey, that one may end up sorting itself out. Should the injury bug strike Bellator 200 again, more specifically welterweight David Rickels, there could be a willing replacement in Michael Page. “100 percent,” Page said with a laugh after open workouts for his Bellator 200 encounter with Rickels. “Because straight away, I’m going to have to go and eat now. I could just stop. I don’t have to cut no more weight. That’s the main reason. “I don’t think he’s going to put a hand on me, anyway. People my weight can’t put hands on me. So, yeah, 100 percent.” Related Business aside, Michael Page can appreciate a fellow showman in Bellator 200 foe David Rickels Jokes (hopefully?) aside, the plan is still to have “Venom” Page (12-0 MMA, 8-0 BMMA) meet “The Caveman” Rickels (19-4 MMA, 13-4 BMMA) at The SSE Arena in London, England. The main card welterweight bout airs on Paramount via same-day tape-delay. It’s an important matchup for Page, not just because he gets to perform in front of a friendly English crowd for the second time in his Bellator career, but because he gets to put an end to an 18-month layoff. “Being out for so long is ridiculously stressful,” Page said. “It’s hard to continue training, because you don’t have a goal. And then when you do and things go wrong, it’s hard to continue training again. And that’s the hardest thing. I’m lucky I’ve got a good team around me, coaches that want to motivate me, too, and just scare me a little bit. “So I can’t slack myself, because one day off I’m getting a phone call like, ‘What’s going on. What are you doing? You should be in the gym.’ That just keeps me on track. But it’s still a difficult journey when you don’t have a fight ready.” Still, there are positives to be taken from the time away during which Page had a victorious pro boxing debut. For starters, it makes returning all the more exciting. But, moreover, it was a time that forced a mentality change in 31-year-old Page, who believes he’s grown as an athlete and as a person. Gallery Photos: Best of Michael 'Venom' Page view 16 images “As stressful as it was, I managed to overcome a lot, and (I’m) just happy to be here now,” Page said. Behind the scenes, Page says, there’s a lot that goes into keeping a busy schedule – “whether it be with the organization or whether it be personal.” But, regardless, “Venom” is still hoping to pick up the pace as he moves forward with his career. “You guys get to see us on camera, but once we’re off-camera we still get to live a life,” Page said. “And, especially in London right now, life is difficult. A lot goes on behind that you have to kind of take into consideration. But I’d love to just be as active as I possibly can.” That, of course, starts with Rickels. When it comes to that meeting, Page and his opponent seem to see eye-to-eye on a few things. Both appreciate adding some showmanship to their performances. And both agree in that Rickels’ main danger lies in the experience he brings in. While Page is no stranger to competition, with an extensive freestyle kickboxing past, fact is he hasn’t had that many chances to perform inside a cage. The ever-active Rickels, though, has done it 25 times. That, Page says, counts for “a hell of a lot” – even if he doesn’t see anything extraordinary in his competitor. Related Does Michael Page have heart of a champion? David Rickels ready to find out at Bellator 200 “He looks like another MMA fighter to me,” Page said. “I don’t see anything particularly – nothing that stands out to me in particular. But that experience there means if I make a mistake that I might have made in previous fights and been able to get away with, if I make a mistake with him, he’s going to capitalize. “I’ve got to make that sure I’m able to get myself out of that situation. Or I need to make sure I’m on point so I’m not even making mistakes, everything I do is perfect.” Clearly, there’s respect for Rickels here. But when it comes to another Bellator welterweight, with whom Page shares a bit of a turbulent past, “MVP” doesn’t seem too interested in exchanging pleasantries. “Who is that?” Page answered, when asked about Paul Daley. “Might go by another name. What’s the other name? “Is it … Or Paula? Is that Paula? That ‘Tampax’ Daley? To be fair, I don’t know what’s happened to him. I haven’t been paying attention, unfortunately.” To hear more from Page, check out the video above. And for more on Bellator 200, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site. Voir l'article complet
  15. LAS VEGAS – The newest season of “The Ultimate Fighter” is poised to help the UFC finally build a women’s featherweight roster, and current champion Cris Cyborg was on hand for the open tryouts to personally welcome the crop of hopefuls. A total of 28 women’s featherweights were on hand at Tuesday’s “The Ultimate Fighter 28” open tryouts at Las Vegas’ Palace Station Hotel & Casino, with each fighter hoping to land a spot on the show and, ultimately, a UFC contract. Additionally, 53 male heavyweight hopefuls were on hand for that division’s proceedings, as well. While the long-running reality TV competition series has been adding fighters to the roster for more than a decade, this season could prove particularly valuable, with Cyborg (20-1 MMA, 5-0 UFC) in need of challengers for her title. The Brazilian slugger was happy with the turnout and believes the show will go a long way toward building out the division, and for ensuring the weight class survives past her reign as champion. “I think my division is going to be the strongest division because the girls can be bigger, powerful – they can be faster,” Cyborg told MMAjunkie. “We have girls, and it’s going to continue. I’m really happy about this.” Gallery Photos: Best of Cris Cyborg view 42 images The female featherweight hopefuls included notables Marciea Allen (7-2), Carina Damm (23-14), Cindy Dandois (12-3), Ediane Gomes (11-4), Pannie Kianzad (9-3), Larissa Pacheco (11-2), Elizabeth Phillips (6-6) and Pam Sorenson (7-2), among others. UFC matchmakers Sean Shelby and Mick Maynard were in charge of evaluating the talent over brief grappling matches and pad work before “The Ultimate Fighter” producers ultimately decide who makes the cut. Cyborg was friendly with everyone attending the tryouts, taking photos with several, and says she wasn’t interested in trying to intimidate anyone with her presence but instead was simply there to support the evolution of her weight class. “It’s a sport,” Cyborg said. “I come here to compete. Here, I’m a normal person. In the cage, we’re going to fight if something happens, but we train for it. It’s not because they’re my enemies. It’s nothing like this. The time, the day of the fight, if you lose or win, it doesn’t matter. It’s a competition.” Filming for “The Ultimate Fighter 28” is expected to start in July, with the show debuting on FS1 in August. Coaches for the series have yet to be determined. To hear more from Cyborg and to check out some highlights from the day’s action, check out the video above. For more on the UFC’s upcoming schedule, visit the UFC Rumors section of the site. Voir l'article complet

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