Cejudo much wiser following TUF, DJ experiences
Six weeks after filming the new season of The Ultimate Fighter, and six months since his devastating first-round TKO loss to pound-for-pound king Demetrious Johnson, Henry Cejudo finally feels like he’s over the heartbreak. “I’m just disappointed in myself at this point,” Cejudo said Thursday during a media lunch in Las Vegas. “But it’s not like the Olympics where I have to wait four years. It could happen where I say something stupid, do something stupid and get a title shot.”Tickets are on sale now for The Ultimate Fighter Finale on Dec. 3. Get … Read the Full Article Here View full post on UFC News
Fabricio Werdum vs Cain Velasquez rematch official for UFC 207 on Dec. 30
Once more, with
A pair of former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) heavyweight champions will run it back for the upcoming UFC 207 pay-per-view (PPV) event, which takes place Sat., Dec. 30, 2016 inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Fabricio Werdum vs. Cain Velasquez.
These two first went to war in the UFC 188 main event in June 2015. Velasquez (14-2), then heavyweight champion, succumbed to the submission game of his Brazilian foe after sucking wind early in the third round.
He would compete just once following the loss, a UFC 200 beatdown of Travis Browne.
Werdum (21-6-1) moved on to his first title defense against Stipe Miocic at UFC 198, but found himself looking up at the lights after eating the challenger’s fist. He too, would rebound with a win over the aforementioned “Hapa” at UFC 203, albeit in less impressive fashion.
Time to separate the champ from the scamp.
UFC 207 will be headlined by the women’s bantamweight championship contest pitting reigning division queenpin Amanda Nunes opposite returning “Rowdy” judoka Ronda Rousey. Elsewhere on the card, 135-pound kingpin Dominick Cruz puts his bantamweight belt on the line against undefeated power puncher Cody Garbrandt.
For the latest and greatest UFC 207 fight card and rumors click here.
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Ahead of UFC 205, Chris Weidman goes Hollywood – on Long Island – with Kevin James
Actor and comedian Kevin James is no stranger to the world of MMA. The Hollywood everyman has long been a UFC fan.
Now he once again will share the screen with a fighter – and a fellow New Yorker.
James’ new sitcom “Kevin Can Wait,” on which he plays a newly retired police officer, will feature former UFC middleweight champion and fellow Long Island resident Chris Weidman. According to The Hollywood Life, in an upcoming episode, Weidman will play a rookie cop who is the new sidekick to James’ ex-partner.
“Kevin Can Wait,” which airs Mondays at 8:30 p.m. ET on CBS, films at Gold Coast Studios in Bethpage, N.Y., on Long Island.
Weidman posted a sneak peek of a scene with James on his Instagram feed:
With James filming the new series in New York, he no doubt will be one of the first celebrities expected to be seen when UFC 205 heads to Madison Square Garden for the first time on Nov. 12. Weidman (13-1 MMA, 9-1 UFC) starts his quest to get back to a middleweight title shot when he meets Yoel Romero (12-1 MMA, 7-0 UFC) on the pay-per-view main card.
“Kevin Can Wait” is James’ return to the small screen after his long run on the highly popular “The King of Queens,” which aired from 1998-2007. On that show, James once brought in Dan Henderson, Quinton Jackson, Randy Couture and Frank Trigg for a bar fight scene.
After “The King of Queens,” James work has been chiefly on the big screen, including starring roles in the “Paul Blart: Mall Cop” franchise, “Zookeeper” (which featured UFC analyst Joe Rogan), and “Here Comes the Boom,” in which he played a school teacher who becomes an MMA fighter trained by Bas Rutten and Mark DellaGrotte in order to raise money to save his school’s band program (watch that film’s trailer below). Rogan, Mike Goldberg, Bruce Buffer and Herb Dean all had appearances, and Chael Sonnen, Jason “Mayhem” Miller and Krzysztof Soszynski were among fighters facing James’ character.
The UFC’s Dirtiest Move Yet: Union Bashing – New Republic
The UFC's Dirtiest Move Yet: Union Bashing
Over the past 23 years, however, the UFC has evolved from a no-holds-barred blood sport into an international sensation, landing deals with Fox Sports and Reebok. In July, Lorenzo Fertitta and his brother Frank sold the UFC to a group led by talent …
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‘The Next Ronda Rousey’ Mackenzie Dern Pulls Off Crazy Submission at Legacy 61
Ben Henderson may have been on to something.
The former UFC lightweight champion and current Bellator top contender made headlines in August when he told Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour that his training partner, Mackenzie Dern, would eventually become “bigger than Ronda Rousey.” Friday night, she took a big step forward in realizing that potential.
Dern stepped into the cage for her second professional fight at Legacy Fighting Championship 61 and posted one of the year’s more impressive wins. Check it out here, courtesy of UFC social media personality Zombie Prophet:
Facing Montana Stewart, Dern threw her legs up from guard position for an omoplata. When Stewart attempted to defend by stacking, Dern used the submission to sweep to gain top position. Then, while still controlling the arm, she managed to regain control and sink in a rear-naked choke.
In judo, this would be called a sankaku garami transitioned into a okuri eri jime. In pro wrestling it’s something of modified crossface. In MMA, however, there doesn’t seem to be any name for it other than the “Dern Choke.”
While Dern (2-0) likely isn’t going to invent a new submission in every fight, there’s still cause to keep a close eye on her going forward. The proud owner of two World Jiu-Jitsu Championship gold medals and another gold from the ADCC Submission Wrestling World Championship, she is a highly accomplished grappler who owns an advantage over all comers on the ground.
Whether she settles into fighting at 115 pounds or decides to establish herself in the 125-pound division, the 23-year-old certainly has the tools to become a serious contender.
Read more MMA news on BleacherReport.com
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Congress to review sports betting prohibition
Congress to review sports betting prohibition View full post on www.espn.com – MMA
Lewis-Abdurakhimov Set for Main Event in Albany
A heavyweight doubleheader will headline the UFC’s first visit to Albany, New York on Friday, December 9, with No. 10-ranked Derrick Lewis facing off against Shamil Abdurakhimov in the main event, while No. 13-ranked Francis Ngannou takes on Anthony Hamilton in the co-featured bout of the card, which will air on UFC FIGHT PASS.Tickets for the UFC Fight Night event, which takes place at Times Union Center, go on sale on October 28. To register for special pre-sale access, visit www.ufc.com/albany.Currently sporting a four-fight winning streak that includes three knockouts, Houston&rsquo … Read the Full Article Here View full post on UFC News
Rashad Evans: ‘At the end of the day, I’m not going to be less of a man if I lose’
Even though Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC)
light heavyweight middleweight Rashad Evans (19-5-1) is on possibly the worst streak of his career, that’s not going to change his positive attitude ahead of his debut at 185 pounds for the UFC’s first trip to his home state of New York at UFC 205.
While Evans was on “UFC Unfiltered with Jim Norton and Matt Serra,” he discussed a few topics, including his upcoming bout against Tim Kennedy (18-5), his recent loss against No. 3 ranked light heavyweight Glover Teixeira (25-5), and his current mindset about fighting.
“Suga” revealed some details about the pressure he put on himself heading into fights, saying, “I used to get so, just so into my own head about ‘I have to win this fight and this has to be this and this has to be this’ and, you know, so much about the results of everything that I kind of would give myself too much anxiety about it.”
The current No. 8 ranked light heavyweight, who is in the midst of changing divisions, is on a two-fight losing skid and has lost four of his last six bouts. His last fight was a devastating loss to the hands of Glover Teixeira, who knocked out Evans within two minutes of the very first round. Rashad informed Norton and Serra of how he responded to that loss.
“After I got knocked out by Glover Teixiera, I got knocked out in like a minute and-a-half and I’m just like overwhelmingly embarrassed, and then more importantly, just disappointed because this was the fight!” said Evans. “That was the fight! That was the night I was gonna come back and I was gonna show the world that I still got it and, you know, they slept on me and everything, I was like that, and that was the fight. And I went and sh*t the bed and I’m like ‘f**k’, you know what I’m saying? I just couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t wrap my mind around it because, in my head, I just knew I was gonna win the fight.”
Since the crushing loss to the Brazilian, Evans has had some revelations about competing in mixed martial arts (MMA). He delivered some revealing and insightful things to say regarding how he has reverted his old mindset heading into a fight.
“I had to trust the fact that whatever has happened in the past and, you know, my depression after I lose, it all works out,” said Evans. “It all works out no matter what, you know what I’m saying? There’s not a loss that I had that I can’t come back from, you know? And then from going through that experience to help me to understand that I can still go out there and compete. I can win, I can lose. But at the end of the day, I’m not going to be less of a man if I lose, and training myself to that mindset has allowed me to enjoy this sport a lot more.”
Aside from his feud with Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, where most were siding with Jackson, Evans has always been one of the more likable fighters in the UFC. Hearing humanizing material like this from him only makes him more appealing to everybody. We’ll have to see if his new mindset is going to aid him to victory against Kennedy inside of “The World’s Most Famous Arena”, Madison Square Garden on Nov. 12.
To see who else is fighting at UFC 205 click here.
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Gegard Mousasi will fight anyone, but hopes Nick Diaz wants to fight him
Newly vocal UFC middleweight Gegard Mousasi is talking up his next opportunity, hoping to get a fight before the end of the year.
After dispatching Vitor Belfort (25-13 MMA, 14-9 UFC) earlier this month at UFC 204, Mousasi (40-6-2 MMA, 7-3 UFC) wants to let it ride and will fight in his usual weight class or step up to light heavyweight, he told MMAjunkie.
So who’s on his list?
While many linked Mousasi to a potential bout with Anderson Silva (33-7 MMA, 16-3 UFC), who took his spot at UFC 200, he bluntly declared the former middleweight champ was “not going to take the fight.”
Then there’s Uriah Hall (12-7 MMA, 5-5 UFC), whom he blasted at the UFC 204 post-event press conference. He said the matchup “doesn’t make sense for the UFC, and seeing as how Uriah Hall beat him only 11 months ago, it’s hard to argue.
“So probably, they’re going to make me wait,” reported Mousasi, who’s the No. 7 ranked fighter in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA middleweight rankings.
There is one matchup that excites the former Strikeforce light heavyweight champ, however. UFC President Dana White recently declared Nick Diaz (26-10 MMA, 7-7 UFC) “ready to go,” and Mousasi would be happy to welcome the onetime UFC welterweight title challenger back to the octagon.
He’s just a little skeptical about his chances of getting the fight.
“With Vitor Belfort, they didn’t give me the fight because I asked for it,” Mousasi said. “They gave that fight to me because Vitor Belfort asked for that fight. So, hopefully, Nick Diaz is going to ask for that fight, and then I can fight him.”
Mousasi pulls no punches about his career prospects – that’s for sure. Check out the above video for more with the former champ.
The year so far: The 35 best UFC photos from April, including a kick to the face for the ages – MMAjunkie.com
The year so far: The 35 best UFC photos from April, including a kick to the face for the ages
Today, check out the 35 best photos from April and its trio of cards: UFC Fight Night 86 in Croatia, UFC on FOX 19 in Florida, and UFC 197 in Las Vegas. Then don't miss Friday's look at the best photos from May's events, and stay tuned every day till …
Andrew Sanchez to Meet Trevor Smith at UFC Fight Night 102
TUF 23 winner Andrew Sanchez drops to middleweight, fights Trevor Smith at UFC Fight Night 102
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Vitor Belfort Clarifies Instagram Post, Not Retiring
It seemed as if Vitor Belfort‘s historic mixed martial arts career had ended after his technical-knockout loss against Gegard Mousasi at UFC 204 on Oct. 8.
Belfort appeared to announce his decision to retire on Instagram on Saturday:
Who does not recognize your own mistakes it is not worthy to lead yourself, even less the people around him.
I recognize that I am far from perfect, I am only human; a human being.
Once a poet in Brazil wrote:
” – may love be eternal while it lasts.”
It is a beautiful fragment of a poem, but a truly consider it naive.
If I may and with all do respect, I would re write it like this:
” – may love be eternal while we nurture it.”
I confess that I need to nurture my competitive will inside the Octagon. I must cherish that fire inside of me again.
Having recognized that to myself,
I DECIDED TO DO WHATEVER IT TAKES TO BURN THAT FLAME AGAIN!
Thanks a lot for all the support and advices. But I decided that I will end this chapter of my life looking at the mirror and recognizing myself.
However, Belfort clarified he’s not retiring, per John Morgan of MMAjunkie.
The 39-year-old has started to show the wear and tear that comes from fighting professionally for 20 years. He lost three of his last four matchups, including his middleweight title bout against Chris Weidman in May 2015.
Belfort’s first fight with the promotion was at UFC 12 on Feb. 7, 1997, when he defeated Tra Telligman and Scott Ferrozzo on the same night in a total of 120 seconds to win the heavyweight tournament.
After his third UFC victory over Tank Abbott in May 1997, Belfort had his first match with Randy Couture in a rivalry that continued for seven years.
Belfort defeated Couture in their second head-to-head matchup in January 2004 to capture the UFC light heavyweight title.
It was the only championship he won in his career, though the fight was controversial because doctors stopped it after Couture’s eye seemingly exploded after Belfort grazed it with a seam on his glove in the first minute of the first round.
Couture got his revenge in the rematch—which doctors stopped after the third round—recapturing the light heavyweight title.
Belfort’s legacy in MMA is complicated. He holds the UFC record with 12 knockout wins and has won 25 matches in his career.
Ben Fowlkes of MMAjunkie broke down what makes Belfort a complex figure:
Belfort’s history with performance-enhancing drugs is among the most well-documented in MMA history. He went from whispers and accusations to actual drug test failures to sanctioned use that blurred the lines of abuse.
He’s a kind of walking fossil record of MMA’s doping past, which serves as both a stain on his reputation and a context for his actions.
Belfort has also struggled to compete against the best fighters in the sport. His bouts have been exciting because most of them end in knockouts, but his career record against Couture, Chuck Liddell, Tito Ortiz, Alistair Overeem, Dan Henderson and Jon Jones was 3-8.
Read more MMA news on BleacherReport.com
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Paul Craig to Make Octagon Debut Against Luis Henrique da Silva at UFC on Fox 22
Sonnen, Ortiz to clash in January Bellator matchup
Sonnen, Ortiz to clash in January Bellator matchup View full post on www.espn.com – MMA
Dan Henderson’s Dynamite Dozen
Long established as one of mixed martial arts’ best ever, pound for pound, former PRIDE and Strikeforce champion Dan Henderson finished off his storied career last Saturday night with a five-round epic against Michael Bisping that certainly earned a place on Hendo’s list of defining moments.Crezio de Souza – June 15, 1997 – Brazil Open Result – Henderson TKO1A 1992 and 1996 United States Olympian in Greco-Roman wrestling, Henderson turned to the budding sport of mixed martial arts after the 1996 Games, and was immediately tossed into the fire in a Vale Tudo event … Read the Full Article Here View full post on UFC News
UFC 207: Dominick Cruz vs Cody Garbrandt Bantamweight title fight in the works
Championship double dip! The men’s and women’s Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Bantamweight belts will both be on the line on the same night (Sat., Dec. 30, 2016) at UFC 207, which will take place inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Dominick Cruz will likely defend his 135-pound title in the pay-per-view (PPV) co-main event against No. 6-ranked division contender, Cody Garbrandt, according to MMAFighting.com. The Cruz vs. Garbrandt clash will set the table for the main event of the evening between women’s 135-pound champion, Amanda Nunes, and former queenpin, Ronda Rousey.
Cruz is in the midst of an impressive three-fight win streak after spending almost three years on the sidelines recovering from various leg-related injuries and surgeries. He torched Takeya Mizugaki via first round knockout in his comeback fight and then took a split decision over then-champion T.J. Dillashaw after another year-long layoff to reclaim his world title. “Dominator” most recently defended his title against Urijah Faber over the summer at UFC 199 to get the edge in their trilogy match (2-1).
Garbrandt, meanwhile, talked himself into a championship fight after back-to-back-to-back violent first round finishes of Augusto Mendes, Thomas Almeida and Takeya Mizugaki this year. Cruz has been a willing participant in the verbal warfare, examples of which you can sample here, here, here and here.
Sorry, Bryan Caraway. Dillashaw won’t be too happy when he hears the news, either. But, this is the new UFC, where tenure, rankings and other logical things seemingly don’t mean much when compared to more marketable match ups.
To check out the latest UFC 207: “Nunes vs. Rousey” fight card and rumors click here.
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Joe Schilling joins Bellator Kickboxing card in Florence, draws Victorio Lermano
Bellator 168: “Carvalho vs. Manhoef 2” and Bellator Kickboxing: “Florence” both take place Dec. 10, 2016, at Mandela Forum in Florence, Italy. It’s the follow-up to a successful hybrid show in Torino, Italy, this past April. Additional mixed martial arts (MMA) bouts to support the Rafael Carvalho vs. Melvin Manhoef rematch for the Middleweight title will be announced at a later date, but for now three new fights have been added to shore up the kickboxing card.
Familiar face Joe “Stitch ‘Em Up” Schilling (19-9) will go against Victorio Lermano (30-7) at Middleweight. Schilling looks to get back on track after a spinning backfist loss to Hisaki Kato, but like the aforementioned Ross he’s facing a foe with more experience as a professional. In addition, “Soul Assassin” Kevin Ross (31-9) and Alessio Arduini (26-14-2) will be an important Lightweight bout. Ross won both of his Bellator bouts this year by decision, but Arduini actually has more experience overall and won’t just lay down to be assassinated.
Last — and certainly not least — when you talk about career longevity in kickboxing, it’s hard to beat Welterweight fighter Karim Ghajji (96-13-1). His opponent Luca Novello (22-4-2) seems like a babe in the woods by comparison.
Check out the latest updates to the Bellator 168: “Florence” fight cards below:
Bellator Kickboxing: “Florence” Card:
Lightweight: Giorgio Petrosyan (82-2-2, 1 NC) vs. Jordan Watson (48-11-2)
Flyweight: Denise Kielholtz (45-3) vs. Gloria Peritore (11-1-1)
Lightweight: Kevin Ross (31-9) vs. Alessio Arduini (26-14-2)
Middleweight: Joe Schilling (19-9) vs. Victorio Lermano (30-7)
Welterweight: Karim Ghajji (96-13-1) vs. Luca Novello (22-4-2)
Bellator 168: “Carvalho vs. Manhoef 2” Card (Spike TV):
Middleweight: Rafael Carvalho (13-1) vs. Melvin Manhoef (30-13-1, 2 NC)
Light Heavyweight: Alessio Sakara (18-11, 2 NC) vs. Joey Beltran (17-13, 1 NC)
To check out the latest Bellator MMA-related news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive news archive right here.
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5 reasons to watch Bellator 162, including the return of ex-champ Alexander Shlemenko
Shlemenko hasn’t fought for Bellator since February 2015, when he knocked out Melvin Manhoef. That fight was later ruled a no-contest after Shlemenko’s post-fight drug test came back positive for the steroid oxandrolone as well as oxandrolone metabolites. Additionally, Shlemenko’s testosterone-to-epitestosterone (T/E) ratio was 50-1, far above the California State Athletic Commission limit of 4-1. Due to the failed drug test, the CSAC handed Shlemenko a three-year ban and $10,000 fine.
In July, Shlemenko’s suspension and fine were reduced when the California Superior Court ruled that Shlemenko’s suspension should have ended when his California fight license expired at the end of February 2016. The court also reduced Shlemenko’s fine to $5,000, and that’s how Shlemenko landed atop the main card for Bellator 162.
Bellator 162 takes place at FedEx Forum in Memphis. The main card will air on Spike following prelims on MMAjunkie.
1. Get back
Between March 2011 and March 2014, Shlemenko rang up 13 straight victories. Then he hit a rough patch, losing two straight via first-round technical submission. The first of those losses came to Tito Ortiz in a light heavyweight bout. Shlemenko’s second defeat came when he lost his Bellator middleweight title to Brandon Halsey in just 35 seconds. Shlemenko rebounded from those losses with the knockout of Manhoef, but as noted above that win was later ruled a no-contest after his failed drug test, which Shlemenko maintains would have been invalidated had his “B” sample been tested.
Looking to prevent Shlemenko (53-9 MMA, 11-3 BMMA) from getting another shot at that title is Grove (23-15 MMA, 4-2 BMMA), who is on a two-fight winning streak since a May 2015 title fight loss to Halsey. Those two victories, both via knockout, came against Joey Beltran and Francisco France.
A win here and the victor could find himself under consideration for the winner of the Carvalho vs. Manhoef matchup.
2. A big fight
Bobby Lashley has not fought since he earned a TKO win over James Thompson in November 2015. Lashley (14-2 MMA, 4-0 BMMA) makes his return to the cage at Bellator 162, where he faces Josh Appelt (12-5 MMA, 3-1 BMMA) and the timing of his return couldn’t be better.
With the Bellator heavyweight title vacant, Lashley, who is riding a streak of seven straight victories, four of which have come with Bellator, could put himself in the mix for a shot at that belt with a win over Appelt.
At the very least, a victory should earn Lashley a shot at one of the other top names in the heavyweight division.
Appelt might not be a household name to MMA fans, but he stands between Lashley and a big fight, and as a veteran fighter, you can be sure that he wants nothing more than to steal the spotlight from Lashley.
3. The wait
Bellator has been waiting for A.J. Matthews to make the jump from prospect to contender for a while. Matthews looked ready to do just that heading into Bellator 156, entering that contest with two TKO wins in his previous Bellator outings, but he came up short, dropping a unanimous decision to Ben Reiter.
At Bellator 162, Matthews (8-5 MMA, 4-3 BMMA) looks to get back in the win column when he meets Hisaki Kato (6-2 MMA, 1-1 BMMA), a fighter who opened his Bellator career with a highlight-reel Superman punch KO of Joe Schilling that won him MMAjunkie’s “Knockout of the Month” in July 2015. Kato is coming off a knockout win over Yuta Watanabe at Rizin FF in April.
Both of these middleweights have good kickboxing skills, with Kato being a bit more freewheeling in his striking. If these two fight to their strengths, this could be a fun under-the-radar fight.
4. Another test
After his release from the UFC, Ryan Couture put together a four-fight winning streak, with each of those contests ending via rear-naked choke submission victories. On the strength of that run, Bellator decided to match him up against Patricky Freire at Bellator 148. Couture was knocked out in the first round of that fight.
At Bellator 162 Couture (10-4 MMA, 2-1 BMMA) faces Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt Goiti Yamauchi (19-3 MMA, 5-2 BMMA), who was on a three-fight winning streak before losing to Bubba Jenkins in March.
While Freire tested Couture’s ability to deal with a heavy-handed striker, Yamauchi will put Couture’s ground game to the test. Yamauchi’s overall submission game is solid and he excels at stringing submission attempts together.
It’ll be interesting to see how Couture, who is more of a grinder on the ground, deals with Yamauchi, who is moving up to lightweight from featherweight for the bout.
5. Hoping for a shot at gold
Julia Budd has two losses on her record – one to the current UFC women’s bantamweight champion, Amanda Nunes, and one to the former UFC women’s bantamweight champion, Ronda Rousey. Both of those defeats came under the Strikeforce banner in 2011. Since the loss to Rousey, Budd has run off six straight wins and is looking to set herself up for a shot at a Bellator title.
Budd was supposed to fight Marloes Coenen in May for the inaugural Bellator women’s featherweight crown, but an injury knocked her out of that bout. Alexis Dufresne stepped in to face Coenen in what became a non-title fight. Dufresne, who missed weight for the fight, defeated Coenen by first round submission.
With a win over Arlene Blencowe (7-5 MMA, 2-1 BMMA), who is 5-1 in her last six fights, Budd (8-2 MMA, 2-0 BMMA) should be back on track for that title fight.
Fabricio Werdum, Cain Velasquez agree to Dec. 30 UFC bout – ESPN (blog)
Fabricio Werdum, Cain Velasquez agree to Dec. 30 UFC bout
More than a year after they first met for the UFC heavyweight championship, former champions Fabricio Werdum and Cain Velasquez have agreed to do it again in a non-title rematch on Dec. 30 at UFC 207. The card, headlined by Ronda Rousey's return …
Cain Velasquez rematches Fabricio Werdum at UFC 207 in Las Vegas
Cain Velasquez-Fabricio Werdum rematch added to Ronda Rousey's UFC 207 card
Fabricio Werdum-Cain Velasquez rematch made official for UFC 207
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Donald Trump’s Failed Foray into the World of MMA
By now, most people recognize the key pages in the Donald Trump playbook. An ambitious effort starts with a bang but ends with the rumor of a whimper tucked deep into classified legal briefs, well clear of the camera’s eye.
The sports world has not gone unscathed. Trump’s ill-fated involvement with the United States Football League ended in a pungent stew of red tape and bad feelings and is the stuff of sports-business infamy.
Speaking to Esquire about the debacle, Charley Steiner, radio voice of the USFL’s Trump-owned New Jersey Generals and current play-by-play man for the Los Angeles Dodgers, said of Trump, “You can cut and paste the USFL and the GOP and it’s the same damn story. It’s all about him and the brand and moving on to the next thing if it doesn’t work out.”
The USFL is the splashiest sports example, but it is not, to coin a phrase, the Trumpiest. For that, you have to go to the sport of mixed martial arts, where he and his organization’s intimate, aggressive involvement wove a very recognizable pattern. Crack open that nesting doll and you’ll find Trump’s dealings with Affliction Entertainment. Although it holds a lower profile than the USFL example, it is still the best sports illustration of Trump’s modus operandi.
But let’s back up a few years. In point of fact, Trump does have deep roots in the MMA community. In MMA’s earlier days, his backing may have staved off the sport’s demise.
In 2001, when UFC 1 was only eight years old, MMA was in the eyes of many a novelty or worse. The UFC had been sold to Zuffa—a company owned by Las Vegas casino heirs Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta and their friend Dana White. At that point, many major markets and media had turned their collective back to the UFC, forcing the promotion to stage untelevised cards in third-tier civic centers.
Trump broke with that custom, however, and welcomed the UFC with open arms. He offered Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City, New Jersey—a major step up in location and prestige—as a potential host location. The new owners took him up on his offer, and the Trump Taj hosted UFC 30 and UFC 31 that year. (That venue also hosted UFC 28—the final event staged by previous UFC owners SEG.)
White never forgot the gesture and reciprocated with unconditional loyalty, culminating with his bellowed endorsement of Trump on prime-time TV at July’s Republican National Convention:
Arenas around the world refused to host our events. Nobody took us seriously. Nobody. Except Donald Trump. Donald was the first guy that recognized the potential that we saw in the UFC, and encouraged us to build our business. He hosted our first two events at his venue, he dealt with us personally, he got in the trenches with us, and he made a deal that worked for everyone.
On top of that, he showed up for the fight on Saturday night and sat in the front row! … Donald championed the UFC before it was popular, before it grew into a successful business, and I will always be so grateful to him for standing with us in those early days, so tonight I stand with Donald Trump.
Clearly, the relationship held special meaning for White. That context only makes it more interesting to recall that Trump’s deepest dive into MMA came with a company that was, at the time, hellbent on taking down the UFC.
In 2008, Affliction Clothing, a manufacturer of MMA apparel based in Seal Beach, California, decided to stage a rare and brazen challenge to the UFC’s dominance. Affliction Entertainment was formed as a separate company to stage pay-per-views with the ambition of cutting into the UFC’s revenue pie.
Seeking the biggest possible splash, Affliction execs threw a mountain of money and every other shiny thing they could find at Russian heavyweight great Fedor Emelianenko—long a UFC “white whale“—and ex-UFC champ Tim Sylvia. According to MMAjunkie, the former reportedly received $300,000 per bout, while the latter received $800,000—even eight years later, extremely handsome sums for MMA fighters.
But Affliction’s biggest flourish arguably came from a little deal it struck with a man called Donald Trump. Just ask Trump himself. There was something tremendous in the air.
“It’s really something that I’m doing because I enjoy doing it,” Trump told reporters during a Trump Tower news conference for Affliction Entertainment. “If we make money, that’s great. I think we will. I think it will be successful. What I do is usually successful.”
In the same news conference, Trump flashed the same brand of media awareness that has characterized his political career.
“I seem to get a lot of attention,” he noted. “For instance, if I wasn’t here today, you might have maybe one writer. And now the place is packed.”
According to some people, the partnership was purely cosmetic—Trump simply lent his face and name to a photo op and press release.
“They brought in Donald Trump for name value,” said Josh Gross, who covered the story while with SI.com and is now a contributor to Bleacher Report MMA. “They used his name for publicity, which happens a lot with Trump.”
But if you’re in the dicey business of reading Trump’s tea leaves, it could have been more than window dressing.
Trump declared he had bought a significant stake in the company, which would allow the upstart promotion to pursue and retain roster talent.
“But it’s not a very big deal for me,” he said. “When you build a billion-dollar building like I’m doing in Dubai and lots of other places, that’s a much bigger financial commitment.”
Maybe not a very big deal for Trump, but whatever it was, it seems to have come with a catch.
“People for Trump said they were running it,” Gross said.
There was one very direct, concrete connection between Affliction Entertainment and Team Trump. That came when Affliction announced Michael Cohen, executive vice president in The Trump Organization and special counsel to Trump himself, as the venture’s new chief operating officer.
“I can assure everyone,” Cohen said at the time in a statement, “fans watching on pay-per-view and those in attendance from all over the world, that our upcoming pay-per-view show will be the greatest MMA night ever.”
Trump’s son, Donald Jr., speaking with Men’s Fitness magazine (h/t Michael Crowley of Politico), seemed to support the notion that his father didn’t just lend out his name but his capital as well.
“If we have to put in more, we’ll put in more,” he said. (Politico added in its report that a source “familiar with the deal” believed Trump didn’t invest any money, but instead only licensed his name.)
Trump capped the lead-up to Affliction’s first event—code-named “Banned”—by taking center stage at the weigh-ins (note: NSFW language in video). He introduced Lindsay Clubine, then best known as Briefcase Model No. 26 on Deal or No Deal, confirming she’d be covering the event for Extra.
“Can you believe this is what a reporter looks like?” he said.
Fight night was July 19, 2008. Fedor vs. Sylvia topped the Affliction: Banned card, and Emelianenko dismantled Sylvia with a 36-second submission. The event also included knockout wins from Andrei Arlovski (against Ben Rothwell) and Josh Barnett (against Pedro Rizzo).
Nevertheless, Affliction: Banned was only a mild success, garnering about 100,000 buys, according to Wrestling Observer Newsletter (via MMAPayout.com)—far below UFC averages. That might have had something to do with the UFC’s cable TV counterprogramming, which featured Anderson Silva’s light heavyweight debut in an unspoken game of “My GOAT vs. Your GOAT.”
During the event, Clubine got the opportunity to interview Trump and asked him if he thought Affliction would end up taking over the UFC. He said: “It probably will. … All the fighters want to be with us, and I think it probably will take over.”
The second event, Affliction: Day of Reckoning, featured Emelianenko’s thrilling come-from-behind knockout of Arlovski but failed to reach the modest bar set by the first event. A third card, headlined by Emelianenko against Barnett, was scheduled for August 2009 but never came to fruition after Barnett failed a drug test for steroids.
Just days after canceling its third event, Affliction Entertainment—hemorrhaging cash and unable to gain the pay-per-view traction needed for a profit—folded as suddenly as it had popped up and returned to the UFC as a sponsor.
You don’t see Donald Trump in a lot of Affliction pictures during this late era. Ditto Cohen, who is now back with the Trump family.
“They weren’t looking to create a viable, sustainable system,” Gross said. “It was a response to the UFC. They weren’t looking to create a lasting league.”
Good thing for Team Trump they didn’t appear to be on the hook for the fallout.
Not long after Affliction threw in the towel, the company was embroiled in a lawsuit with Emelianenko and his manager, Vadim Finkelstein, who ran the M-1 Global organization that co-promoted Affliction Entertainment shows.
In the suit, Emelianenko and Finkelstein claimed Affliction execs did not do enough to salvage the third event, in part because they had had enough of the fight promotion game and were attempting to mend fences with the UFC.
Neither Trump nor Cohen was named in the suit, which was settled out of court in 2011.
A spokesperson for Affliction declined to comment for this story.
“Affliction was a flash in the pan,” Gross said. “They definitely put more money in fighters’ pockets than they otherwise would have gotten. They tried to compete with the UFC in the pay-per-view space, but it didn’t really work. The numbers just weren’t there. They probably bit off more than they could chew.”
Was that true of the guys then running the T-shirt company that started this? Probably. But to its credit, Affliction, with fight promoting firmly in its rearview mirror, continues to kick along as a popular MMA-affiliated apparel company.
The same can’t be said for Trump, who hasn’t been heard from in the sport since. Perhaps not surprising, given the familiar contours of the Trump enterprise. At this point, most people are able to recognize the telltale signs, from beginning to end.
“I’ve got a lot of money,” Trump said back at that first Affliction presser. “That helps, right?”
Scott Harris covers MMA for Bleacher Report. For more, follow Scott on Twitter.
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Bellator 162 Weigh-in Results: Alexander Shlemenko, Kendall Grove on Point
Sources: UFC undergoes layoffs in wake of sale
Sources: UFC undergoes layoffs in wake of sale View full post on www.espn.com – MMA
Thompson feeling NY love as Woodley fight approaches
NEW YORKBased on the reception he received during the UFC 205 press conference at the Theater at Madison Square Garden, Stephen Thompson might as well be considered an honorary New Yorker in the lead-up to his challenge for Tyron Woodley’s UFC welterweight title on November 12. “I do feel that way,” the Simpsonville, South Carolina native laughed. “I’ve been coming up here for the past four years, training with Chris (Weidman) – I was up here for his first fight with Anderson Silva – and I’ve been coming here for his fights and my fights numerous times a yea … Read the Full Article Here View full post on UFC News
Bellator 162 predictions, preview for ‘Shlemenko vs Grove’ on Spike TV
Bellator 162: “Shlemenko vs. Grove” takes place tomorrow night (Fri., Oct. 21, 2016) at FedEx Forum in Memphis, Tenn., featuring a Middleweight battle between former 185-pound champion Alexander Shlemenko and former The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 3 winner Kendall Grove. Shlemenko will look to re-establish himself after more than one year away from Bellator, while Grove would be in contention for a second title shot with his third straight win.
The four-fight Spike TV broadcast also features the return of Heavyweight wrestler Bobby Lashley, Middleweight knockout artist Hisaki Kato, and the son of an Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) legend in his first fight since a “Pitbull” dropped him in January.
Let’s break it down:
185 lbs.: Alexander Shlemenko (53-9, 1 NC) vs. Kendall Grove (23-15, 1 NC)
It has been a difficult process for “Storm” Shlemenko to get back to this point. The once-reigning king of Bellator’s Middleweights lost a non-title fight to Tito Ortiz and, shortly after, dropped his title to “Bull” Brandon Halsey. And just when it seemed like he’d get back on track with a knockout win over Melvin Manhoef the result was overturned because of a staggeringly massive drug test failure that earned him a three-year suspension from the California State Athletic Commission. He appealed the decision, his sentence was reduced, and he’s now cleared for his Bellator return.
Grove burst onto the scene in the third season of TUF, defeating Ed Herman to earn a “six-figure” contract. The Hawaiian then toiled away for the next 10 years of his career. He has always managed to stay above .500 in the win/loss column, but the only trophy in his case other than TUF 3 was a ShoFight Middleweight title in 2012. Going into his 40th professional fight at a relatively young 33 years old could mean there’s time left to tap his true potential. And with three wins in his last four Bellator fights (two straight by knockout) it’s arguably a peak time in his career.
Grove presents a size challenge for Shlemenko at 6’6″ with an 80-inch reach (versus 5’11” and a 70 inch reach for the former champion). That’s a bigger physical mismatch than either his loss to Halsey or Ortiz, but it certainly doesn’t bode well if Shlemenko fights and tests clean. The flip side of that coin is that what Shlemenko lacks in stature he makes up for in technique and experience, packing guns in both arms and having accuracy when he pulls the trigger with 29 total knockouts. Grove has been knocked out as many times as he’s won that way (seven each) so let’s not assume a size advantage equals a striking advantage. Shlemenko should be able to return to form, but Grove won’t make it easy.
Final prediction: “Storm” Shlemenko wins via second round knockout
265 lbs.: Bobby Lashley (14-2) vs. Josh Appelt (12-5)
Every time someone has tried to tag Lashley with the “you’re a pro wrestler, not a full-time fighter” label, he has answered his critics and opponents at the same time. With seven straight wins and four straight finishes (two submissions followed by two technical knockouts) there’s little doubt at this point that he’s capable of doing both simultaneously and succeeding in either arena. In fact, the only reason he’s not a Heavyweight champion in Bellator at this point is that nobody has offered him a shot at the vacant title.
Appelt has been there and done that in two stints outside Bellator, winning the Gladiator Challenge title before his debut and West Coast Fighting title after. He’ll presumably vacate that title for his Bellator return as he seeks a bigger prize — knocking off “Dominator” Lashley and putting his name on the short list right next to Cheick Kongo. Furthermore, 66 percent of his wins (eight of 12) come by knockout, while half of Lashley’s wins come by submission (seven of 14), but if Appelt wants the upset he needs to land first and/or stuff Lashley’s takedown. If Lashley gets you off your feet it’s a wrap.
Final prediction: Bobby Lashley wins via rear-naked choke in the first round
185 lbs.: Hisaki Kato (6-2) vs. A.J. Matthews (8-5)
A.J. Matthews is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma. For the last five years since his Bellator debut, he has either won two or lost two fights in a row. “The Mercenary” definitely has the size (6’0″ with a 75″ reach) and striking (six of eight wins by knockout) to be a force in the promotion, but fights that go the distance tend to go against him and his jaw doesn’t hold up to a well-executed strike. None may execute better than Kato, a fighter who owes 100 percent of his victories (and both of his losses) to striking exchanges. Fortune favors the bold and Kato will not be scared to exchange here.
Final prediction: Hisaki Kato wins via first round knockout
155 lbs.: Goiti Yamauchi (19-3) vs. Ryan Couture (10-4)
Both men come into this fight off losses with something to prove, though it’s hard to say who needs it more. Yamauchi had a three-fight win streak at Featherweight snapped by Bubba Jenkins, which has perhaps prompted him to try his fortunes one class up. Couture had an even longer and more impressive streak snapped — four wins with four straight rear-naked chokes — come to an end with a knockout punch from Patricky “Pitbull” Freire. Both are 5’10” with only a one-inch reach difference between them, so they are tailor made to fight each other, particularly given both rely heavily on submissions (15 for Yamauchi, six for Couture). In a fight so evenly matched I can only see one outcome.
Final prediction: Goiti Yamauchi wins via split decision
That’s a wrap!
MMAmania.com will deliver live coverage of Bellator 162: “Shlemenko vs. Grove” tomorrow night, with real-time results throughout the evening followed by Spike TV fights at 9 p.m. ET. To check out the latest Bellator MMA-related news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive news archive right here.
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GLORY 34 preview and predictions for ‘Holzken vs Groenhart’ on ESPN3
GLORY kickboxing will return on Friday night (Oct. 21, 2016) with GLORY 34, in Broomfield, Colo., the promotion’s third consecutive fight card in the United States.
The five-fight main card takes place at 1STBANK Center and will air live on ESPN3 starting at 12 a.m. ET / 9 p.m. PT. The main features a welterweight title bout between the current champion, Nieky Holzken (89-11) and No.1-ranked contender, Murthel Groenhart (60-20-3).
This will mark the third time the two welterweights have faced one another, and the second time they’ve faced off in the GLORY ring. Holzken defeated Groenhart by split decision back at GLORY 26 last December in Amsterdam.
The co-main event will feature middleweight Dustin Jacoby (9-7) and former middleweight champion, Simon Marcus (44-3-2) in a rematch from GLORY 30, where Marcus won the contest by unanimous decision.
In addition to those two matchups, the customary one-night, four-man contender tournament will take place in the middleweight division. In the semifinal matchups, Ariel Machado (43-7) (stepping in for Alex Pereira) faces GLORY newcomer, Yousmi Belgaroui, and Israel Adesanya (63-3) takes on Robert Thomas (8-4).
Let’s take a closer look at the matchups:
Nieky Holzken (44-3-2) vs. Murthel Groenhart (60-20-3)
Both of their previous bouts were close and there is nothing that leads me to believe this one will be any different. I incorrectly picked Holzken to win the GLORY 26 bout by TKO, and in watching that fight unfold, it seemed clear these two make for a close and exciting bout. I still think Holzken is the better fighter, but Groenhart has risen to the occasion each time they’ve fought. When Holzken gets rolling with his accurate punching combinations and punishing hooks, he is a handful and a shining example of high-level Dutch kickboxing. Groenhart, while not as refined a technician as the champion, has plenty of ring smarts, solid power and unpredictable jumping knee attacks. I do have a slight feeling three times may be a charm for Groenhart, but I will still side with the champion to defend his title–in another razor close fight–for the third straight time.
Prediction: Holzken by split decision
Simon Marcus (44-3-2) vs. Dustin Jacoby (9-7)
Marcus was simply too much for Jacoby when the two fought for the title at GLORY 30. Marcus dropped Jacoby twice in that bout, but didn’t put him away. Jacoby had a few moments, but couldn’t find a rhythm or set up any of his power punches, which he utilized on a five-fight win streak prior to losing to Marcus. The caveat here is Marcus comes into this fight off a bad knockout loss to Jason Wilnis at GLORY 33, which took place last month. That is a very quick turnaround after suffering a knockout loss. If Jacoby is able to land a couple of big punches, Marcus will be in some serious trouble. I think Jacoby is well aware of that fact and will try and press the action early unlike their last encounter. On paper, I’d side with Marcus every time, but factoring in the short turn around for Marcus, home Colorado crowd for Jacoby, and I think the underdog gets it done this time.
Prediction: Jacoby by TKO RD 2
Tournament semi-final: Israel Adesanya (31-2) vs. Robert Thomas (8-4)
This could end up being the fight of the tournament. Robert Thomas is as tough as they come and the Canadian has taken on some of the best the division has to offer in decision losses to former champion Artem Levin and former No.1-contender Joe Schilling. Adesanya hasn’t fought in GLORY since losing a decision to Filip Verlinden at GLORY 15. The Kiwi fighter can be tricky and unorthodox and likes to switch stances to find openings. This should go all three and will be a tough one to call. I’ll side with Adesanya.
Prediction: Adesanya by unanimous decision
Tournament semi-final: Yousri Belgaroui (18-1) vs. Ariel Machado (43-7)
Machado surprised everyone by defeating Pavel Zhuravlev at GLORY 32, before losing to Zinedine Hameur-Lain in the tournament final. Belgaroui makes his GLORY debut at GLORY 34. Machado has good movement, footwork and solid combinations. Belgaroui uses more of a linear approach, utilizing his height (6′ 5″) length and reach. The Tunisian can deliver some nasty knees from the clinch. I think the Brazilian’s boxing to be the difference here.
Prediction: Machado by unanimous decision
Tournament Final: Adesanya vs. Machado
I think the tournament final will go to the judges as well. The second fight in a tournament can often offer up some surprises with variables like fatigue and damage incurred from the semi-final bout, but I think Andesanya will do just enough to earn the nod from the judges.
Prediction: Adesanya by split decision
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