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UFC 216's Ray Borg says he brings 'will to win' no one has before against Demetrious Johnson

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Filed under: News, UFC, Videos

LAS VEGAS – Ray Borg wasn’t exactly happy with the backlash after he had to pull out of his original title encounter with Demetrious Johnson. But, as he prepares for a second chance, he’s putting all of it aside.

Borg (11-2 MMA, 5-2 UFC) was set to meet flyweight kingpin Johnson (26-2-1 MMA, 14-1-1 UFC) at UFC 215 in September, but illness forced him out of the title bout less than 12 hours before the fighters were supposed to hit the scale. While Borg said the situation wasn’t weight-cut-related, many – from fans to some of his colleagues – were quick to tie the two things together.

Borg, who’d missed weight for two 125-pound UFC meetings before, quickly saw himself under online fire for the withdrawal. And the flyweight contender didn’t take it quietly.

As he prepares for Saturday’s UFC 216, however, Borg seems to be taking somewhat of a “haters gonna hate” approach to the ordeal.

RelatedOh, you have the 'remedy' for Demetrious Johnson? 'Cute,' UFC champ says

“There’s a little bit of anger,” Borg told MMAjunkie ahead of the pay-per-view co-headliner, which airs on pay-per-view from T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. “But, at the same time, if people don’t know who you are and talk crap about you, you haven’t made it yet.

“So, at the same time, I just take it with a strong mind and move forward and not pay attention to people who work a 9-to-5 do.”

Despite the added drama, Borg says the emotion heading into this meeting is exactly the same as any other fight week. There’s been a process to get here, Borg says, but letting that get to him in any capacity would only affect his display on the biggest fight of his career.

In any case, it’s not like he needed any extra fuel heading into it.

“The motivation is always there,” Borg said. “I don’t get paid my full purse if I don’t make weight. I can’t get bumped up if I don’t make weight. And the money is always better when you win fights. That’s more motivation than I need.”

As far as the game plan goes, Borg says, things haven’t changed much with the extra weeks he got to prepare for the do-over. Mostly, he and his camp used the extra time to make sure the weight stayed low and add some “tools into the toolbox.”

Of course, Borg thinks he can take Johnson’s crown. But the UFC’s first and only flyweight titleholder has heard that a few times before – more precisely, 10 times in a row. Everyone who’s tried has failed. What makes Borg think that he’s going to be the one to get the job done?

“I really feel like I bring in this resilience and this will to win that no one else has brought in,” Borg said. “No one’s really seen D.J. the way I’ve seen him in my life – as the goal. The belt’s always been the goal. D.J. has always been the belt holder. So, in my eyes, he’s always been my goal to beat.

“I really feel like no one really has quite the style that I bring in. No one really does.”

To hear from Borg, check out the video above.

And for more on UFC 216, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

Feb 6, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Ray Borg (red gloves) fights against Justin Scoggins (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports Feb 6, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Ray Borg (red gloves) fights against Justin Scoggins (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports Feb 6, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Ray Borg (red gloves) fights against Justin Scoggins (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports Feb 6, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Ray Borg (red gloves) fights against Justin Scoggins (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports Feb 6, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Ray Borg (red gloves) rests after the fights against Justin Scoggins (not pictured) during UFC Fight Night at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports Aug 8, 2015; Nashville, TN, USA; Ray Borg (red gloves) fights against Geane Herrera (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Lindsey-USA TODAY Sports Aug 8, 2015; Nashville, TN, USA; Ray Borg (red gloves) fights against Geane Herrera (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Lindsey-USA TODAY Sports Aug 8, 2015; Nashville, TN, USA; Ray Borg (red gloves) fights against Geane Herrera (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Lindsey-USA TODAY Sports Aug 8, 2015; Nashville, TN, USA; Ray Borg (red gloves) fights against Geane Herrera (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Lindsey-USA TODAY Sports Aug 8, 2015; Nashville, TN, USA; Ray Borg (red gloves) reacts after defeating Geane Herrera (not pictured) during UFC Fight Night at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Lindsey-USA TODAY Sports Aug 8, 2015; Nashville, TN, USA; Ray Borg (red gloves) reacts after defeating Geane Herrera (not pictured) during UFC Fight Night at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Lindsey-USA TODAY Sports Feb 14, 2015; Broomfield, CO, USA; Ray Borg celebrates his win over Chris Kelades (not pictured) during UFC Fight Night at the 1stBANK Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports Jun 28, 2014; San Antonio, TX, USA; Shane Howell (blue gloves) fights Ray Borg (red gloves) in a Flyweight bout at UFC Fight Night 43 at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports Jun 28, 2014; San Antonio, TX, USA; Shane Howell (blue gloves) fights Ray Borg (red gloves) in a Flyweight bout at UFC Fight Night 43 at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports Feb 14, 2015; Broomfield, CO, USA; Ray Borg (red) celebrates his win over Chris Kelades (not pictured) during UFC Fight Night at the 1stBANK Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports jQuery.extend( window._usmgOptions,{ scriptUrl: "https://s2.wp.com/wp-content/themes/vip/usatoday-plugins/api-galleries/assets", analyticsCallback: "galleryAnalytics", fullscreenUrl: "http://mmajunkie.com/sigallery/SxYsRwaaXSTRGLDQ7cjGX8/275989", customAnalytics: true, title: "Ray Borg", feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == "undefined") ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();
Filed under: News, UFC, Videos

Bellator 184 weigh-in results: Champ Eduardo Dantas (134.5), Darrion Caldwell (134.7) set for title fight


Filed under: Bellator, News, Videos

The weigh-ins are in the books for Friday’s Bellator 184, and the headlining title fighters are official for the main event.

In the main event, bantamweight champion Eduardo Dantas puts his belt on the line against Darrion Caldwell. Caldwell came in at 134.7 pounds. Sanchez was amped up and brought an animal mask to the weigh-ins. After stepping off the scale at 134.5, he approached Caldwell, who tried to slap the mask away.

Also on the card, two former featherweight champs are in action: Daniel Straus takes on Emmanuel Sanchez in the co-feature. Straus was 145.8; Sanchez was 145.2. And fellow ex-champ Pat Curran meats John Teixeira on the main card. Curran was 145.6; Teixeira was 145.8.

Bellator 184 takes place at WinStar World Casino and Resort in Thackerville, Okla. The night’s main card airs on Spike following prelims on MMAjunkie.

Bellator 184 weigh-in results included:

MAIN CARD (Spike, 9 p.m. ET)

  • Champ Eduardo Dantas (134.5) vs. Darrion Caldwell (134.7) – for bantamweight title
  • Emmanuel Sanchez (145.2) vs. Daniel Straus (145.8)
  • Pat Curran (145.6) vs. John Teixeira (145.8)
  • Leandro Higo (135.2) vs. Joe Taimanglo (135.7)

PRELIMINARY CARD (MMAjunkie, 7 p.m. ET)

  • Teagan Dooley (202) vs. DeMarcus Simmons (201.8)
  • Carrington Banks (155.3) vs. Steve Kozola (155.2)
  • L.J. Hermreck (144) vs. Westin Wilson (146)
  • Justin Patterson (170.1) vs. Chance Rencountre (170.1)
  • Sean Holden (157.4) vs. Shakir McKillip (159.6) – 160-pound catchweight
  • Manny Muro (154.6) vs. Emmanuel Rivera (154)
  • Ernest James (263.9) vs. Ray Jones (245.2)
  • Daniel Carey (149.8) vs. Kendall Carnahan (149.9)

For more on Bellator 184, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.


Filed under: Bellator, News, Videos

Watch MMAjunkie Radio here (1 p.m. ET) with Cub Swanson, Marvin Vettori, Karyn Bryant


Filed under: News, UFC, Videos

MMAjunkie Radio kicks off today at 1 p.m. ET (10 a.m. PT) with guests Cub Swanson, Marvin Vettori and Karyn Bryant.

Swanson headlines UFC Fight Night 123 on Dec. 9 against Brian Ortega in Fresno, Calif. Vettori will co-host the episode in the studio in Las Vegas. He’s in town to support teammate Beneil Dariush, who opens Saturday’s UFC 216 main card on pay-per-view against Evan Dunham. And Bryant will be anchoring the FOX Sports desk this weekend for pre- and post-fight UFC 216 coverage.

MMAjunkie Radio airs from 1 to 3 p.m. ET (10 a.m. to noon PT), live from Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino in Las Vegas. You can watch and listen live on MMAjunkie’s Facebook and YouTube pages. Additionally, SiriusXM Rush (Ch. 93) carries a replay later in the day (8-10 p.m. ET) and the following morning (7-9 a.m. ET), or catch a replay on demand.

MMAjunkie Radio listener guide:

  • HOW TO WATCH (ON WEB): Watch a live stream on MMAjunkie’s Facebook or YouTube pages.
  • HOW TO CALL: MMAjunkie Radio takes phone calls from listeners throughout the show. Call into the MMAjunkie Radio hotline at (866) 522-2846.
  • HOW TO DISCUSS: The MMAjunkie MMA Forums has a section devoted solely to MMAjunkie Radio. Stop by the MMAjunkie Radio forum to discuss the show, interact with the hosts, suggest future guests and catch up on the latest MMAjunkie Radio news.
  • HOW TO VISIT THE SHOW: You can watch MMAjunkie Radio live and in person at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino on the world-famous Las Vegas Strip. The booth is located in the resort’s Race & Sports Book next to the Mandalay Bay poker room. To plan a trip to Sin City and MMAjunkie Radio, go to www.mandalaybay.com.

Filed under: News, UFC, Videos

Stream or download MMAjunkie Radio #2536 with Paul Felder, Jon Tuck, Dewey Cooper

Stream or download Wednesday’s episode of MMAjunkie Radio with guests Paul Felder, Jon Tuck and Dewey Cooper.

Felder will be working the FOX Sports desk this weekend as an analyst for UFC 216 on Saturday. Tuck is in Las Vegas to corner fellow UFC lightweight Beneil Dariush against Evan Dunham at UFC 216. Cooper will corner Kevin Lee in his UFC 216 headliner against Tony Ferguson for the interim lightweight title.

You can stream the entire episode on AudioBoom.com or listen below.


Filed under: News, Radio, UFC

Champ Michael Bisping mostly walks back his Georges St-Pierre steroid comments on 'Conan'


Filed under: Blue Corner, Featured Videos, News, UFC, Videos

On Wednesday’s edition of “Conan,” UFC middleweight champion Michael Bisping retracted – mostly – some prior comments about his upcoming opponent.

Bisping (30-7 MMA, 20-7 UFC) and former longtime welterweight titleholder and all-time MMA great Georges St-Pierre (25-2 MMA, 19-2 UFC) fight for Bisping’s title in the UFC 217 main event, which takes place Nov. 4 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Earlier this year, Bisping said he believed St-Pierre delayed the fight so he could get steroids out of his system.

But with late-night host Conan O’Brien, who is one of many new celebrities who purchased an investment stake in the UFC after it was sold to WME-IMG, Bisping said he doesn’t really believe St-Pierre was using steroids.

Check out the video clip above, as well as the other clips from Bisping’s appearance on TBS below.

And for more on UFC 217, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

The Blue Corner is MMAjunkie‘s official blog and is edited by Mike Bohn.

Feb 27, 2016; London, United Kingdom; Anderson Silva (red gloves) competes against Michael Bisping (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at O2 Arena. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Feb 26, 2016; London, United Kingdom; Anderson Silva and Michael Bisping square off during weigh-ins for UFC Fight Night at O2 Arena. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Feb 27, 2016; London, United Kingdom; Anderson Silva (red gloves) before his fight against Michael Bisping (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at O2 Arena. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Feb 27, 2016; London, United Kingdom; Anderson Silva (red gloves) before his fight against Michael Bisping (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at O2 Arena. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Feb 27, 2016; London, United Kingdom; Anderson Silva (red gloves) competes against Michael Bisping (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at O2 Arena. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Feb 27, 2016; London, United Kingdom; Anderson Silva (red gloves) competes against Michael Bisping (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at O2 Arena. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Feb 27, 2016; London, United Kingdom; Anderson Silva (red gloves) competes against Michael Bisping (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at O2 Arena. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Feb 27, 2016; London, United Kingdom; Anderson Silva (red gloves) reacts during his fight against Michael Bisping (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at O2 Arena. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Feb 27, 2016; London, United Kingdom; Anderson Silva (red gloves) competes against Michael Bisping (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at O2 Arena. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Feb 27, 2016; London, United Kingdom; Anderson Silva (red gloves) competes against Michael Bisping (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at O2 Arena. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Feb 27, 2016; London, United Kingdom; Anderson Silva (red gloves) competes against Michael Bisping (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at O2 Arena. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Feb 27, 2016; London, United Kingdom; Anderson Silva (red gloves) competes against Michael Bisping (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at O2 Arena. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Feb 27, 2016; London, United Kingdom; Anderson Silva (red gloves) competes against Michael Bisping (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at O2 Arena. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Feb 27, 2016; London, United Kingdom; Anderson Silva (red gloves) competes against Michael Bisping (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at O2 Arena. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Feb 27, 2016; London, United Kingdom; Anderson Silva (red gloves) competes against Michael Bisping (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at O2 Arena. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Feb 27, 2016; London, United Kingdom; Anderson Silva (red gloves) competes against Michael Bisping (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at O2 Arena. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Feb 27, 2016; London, United Kingdom; Anderson Silva (red gloves) competes against Michael Bisping (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at O2 Arena. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Feb 27, 2016; London, United Kingdom; Anderson Silva (red gloves) competes against Michael Bisping (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at O2 Arena. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Feb 27, 2016; London, United Kingdom; Anderson Silva (red gloves) competes against Michael Bisping (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at O2 Arena. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Feb 27, 2016; London, United Kingdom; Anderson Silva (red gloves) competes against Michael Bisping (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at O2 Arena. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Feb 27, 2016; London, United Kingdom; Anderson Silva (red gloves) competes against Michael Bisping (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at O2 Arena. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Feb 27, 2016; London, United Kingdom; Anderson Silva (red gloves) competes against Michael Bisping (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at O2 Arena. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Feb 27, 2016; London, United Kingdom; Anderson Silva (red gloves) competes against Michael Bisping (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at O2 Arena. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Feb 27, 2016; London, United Kingdom; Michael Bisping reacts after his fight against Anderson Silva during UFC Fight Night at O2 Arena. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Feb 27, 2016; London, United Kingdom; Michael Bisping reacts after his fight against Anderson Silva during UFC Fight Night at O2 Arena. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports jQuery.extend( window._usmgOptions,{ scriptUrl: "https://s2.wp.com/wp-content/themes/vip/usatoday-plugins/api-galleries/assets", analyticsCallback: "galleryAnalytics", fullscreenUrl: "http://mmajunkie.com/sigallery/zm52B75EgRx9cBMvtDz4fd/276008", customAnalytics: true, title: "Best of Bisping vs. Silva", feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == "undefined") ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();
Filed under: Blue Corner, Featured Videos, News, UFC, Videos

Knee injury, surgery forces Teemu Packalen from UFC Fight night 118 vs. Marcin Held

The UFC’s return to Poland later this month for UFC Fight Night 118 has taken a hit to one of its featured bouts.

Teemu Packalen (8-2 MMA, 1-2 UFC) is out of his lightweight fight against Marcin Held (22-7 MMA, 0-3 UFC) after suffering a knee injury that required surgery. Packalen announced the injury on his social media accounts and today posted a photo from the hospital, post-operation.

The Packalen-Held fight was set as the featured prelim. With the event only about two weeks away, it is not yet known if Held will remain on the card against a new opponent. UFC officials have not yet made a formal announcement of Packalen’s removal from the card.

UFC Fight Night 118 takes place Oct. 21 at Ergo Arena in Gdansk, Poland. The event streams live on UFC Fight Pass. In the main event, former lightweight title challenger and current welterweight Donald Cerrone will try to hand Darren Till his first professional loss.

Marcin Held

Held is badly in need of a win. He beat Dave Jansen at Bellator 155 in May 2016 to avenge one of his Bellator losses, then signed with the UFC. But since coming over less than a year ago, he has decision losses to Diego Sanchez and Joe Lauzon – a fight even Lauzon said Held was robbed in by the judges. And in May, he was knocked out seven seconds into the third round by a Damir Hadzovic knee in Sweden, giving him three straight setbacks.

Finland’s Packalen has alternated wins and losses since coming to the UFC a little more than two years ago. He started his career 7-0 with seven stoppages. But in his promotional debut, he dropped a decision to Mickael Lebout in Scotland. He bounced back with a bonus-winning submission of Thibault Gouti in February 2016 in just 24 seconds in London. But in March, after 13 months on the sideline, he was knocked out in 30 seconds by Marc Diakiese. Now it appears he’ll be sidelined for a while once again.

The UFC Fight Night 118 lineup includes:

MAIN CARD (3 p.m. ET, UFC Fight Pass)

  • Donald Cerrone vs. Darren Till
  • Jodie Esquibel vs. Karolina Kowalkiewicz
  • Jan Blachowicz vs. Devin Clark
  • Oskar Piechota vs. Jonathan Wilson

PRELIMINARY CARD (11:45 a.m. ET, UFC Fight Pass)

  • Marcin Held vs. TBA
  • Dmitrii Smoliakov vs. Adam Wieczorek
  • Brian Kelleher vs. Damian Stasiak
  • Ramazan Emeev vs. Trevor Smith
  • Andre Fili vs. Artem Lobov
  • Warlley Alves vs. Jim Wallhead
  • Aspen Ladd vs. Lina Lansberg
  • Felipe Arantes vs. Josh Emmett

For more on UFC Fight Night 118, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

May 28, 2017; Stockholm, Stockholms Lan, Sweden; Marcin Held (red gloves) stands in his corner as he fights Damir Hadzovic (not pictured) during UFC Fight Night at Ericsson Globe. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports May 28, 2017; Stockholm, Stockholms Lan, Sweden; Marcin Held (red gloves) fights Damir Hadzovic (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Ericsson Globe. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports May 28, 2017; Stockholm, Stockholms Lan, Sweden; Marcin Held (red gloves) fights Damir Hadzovic (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Ericsson Globe. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports May 28, 2017; Stockholm, Stockholms Lan, Sweden; Marcin Held (red gloves) fights Damir Hadzovic (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Ericsson Globe. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports May 28, 2017; Stockholm, Stockholms Lan, Sweden; Marcin Held (red gloves) fights Damir Hadzovic (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Ericsson Globe. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports May 28, 2017; Stockholm, Stockholms Lan, Sweden; Marcin Held (red gloves) fights Damir Hadzovic (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Ericsson Globe. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports May 28, 2017; Stockholm, Stockholms Lan, Sweden; Marcin Held (red gloves) looks on before fighting Damir Hadzovic (not pictured) during UFC Fight Night at Ericsson Globe. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Jan 15, 2017; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Joe Lauzon (left) is declared the winner by decision over Marcin Held during UFC Fight Night at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports Nov 5, 2016; Mexico City, Mexico; Diego Sanchez (red gloves) fights against Marcin Held (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Distrito Federal. Mandatory Credit: Etzel Espinosa-USA TODAY Sports jQuery.extend( window._usmgOptions,{ scriptUrl: "https://s2.wp.com/wp-content/themes/vip/usatoday-plugins/api-galleries/assets", analyticsCallback: "galleryAnalytics", fullscreenUrl: "http://mmajunkie.com/sigallery/8M7vjkvCUChuewUi6f2fpG/275987", customAnalytics: true, title: "Marcin Held", feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == "undefined") ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();
Filed under: News

Coach Mark Henry says Eddie Alvarez fighting Justin Gaethje at UFC 218 in Detroit

The UFC’s long-awaited return to Detroit is shaping up to be a big card, and now it appears a pair of former champs will grace the lineup.

Just two days after a main event between featherweight champion Max Holloway and ex-lightweight champ Frankie Edgar was made official, the card apparently will feature current “TUF 26” coaches Eddie Alvarez (28-5 MMA, 3-2 UFC) and Justin Gaethje (18-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC) in a lightweight showdown.

Alvarez’s coach, Mark Henry, made the announcement Wednesday on his Instagram account, though UFC officials have not yet made a formal announcement of the date and location. The pair have been presumed to fight since they were named coaches for Season 26 of “The Ultimate Fighter,” which airs Wednesday nights on FS1. The TUF 26 Finale, which often is the event on which the opposing coaches fight in the main event, takes place the night before in Las Vegas.

UFC 218 takes place Dec. 2 at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit. The main card airs on pay-per-view following prelims expected for FS1 and UFC Fight Pass. The UFC has not been to the Detroit area since 2010 for UFC 123 in the city’s north suburbs.

Gaethje, a former WSOF lightweight champion who moved to the UFC earlier this year in free agency, is No. 4 in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA lightweight rankings. Former UFC and Bellator champ Alvarez sits just behind him at No. 5.

Gaethje won WSOF’s lightweight title in January 2014 at WSOF 8. He defended it five times, all with knockout or TKO finishes. The only time he didn’t get a finish for WSOF, where he went 10-0 before signing with the UFC, was in a non-title fight against UFC veteran Melvin Guillard after Guillard missed weight. Gaethje won that fight by split decision in November 2014.

When he signed with the UFC earlier this year, Gaethje got a stiff first test against Michael Johnson at the TUF 25 Finale in Las Vegas. But the 28-year-old passed with flying colors and won not just a $50,000 performance bonus for his second-round TKO win, but a “Fight of the Night” bonus, as well, instantly endearing himself to a new group of fans in his new promotional home.

Alvarez will be going after his first official result in more than a year when he steps in against Gaethje. Earlier this year, a highly anticipated fight against Dustin Poirier ended in a no-contest when Alvarez landed illegal knees to a downed Poirier.

Prior to that, at UFC 205 in November 2016, he lost his lightweight title to Conor McGregor, making McGregor the first concurrent two-division champ in UFC history. Prior to that, he had a three-fight winning streak with split decisions over former champs Gilbert Melendez and Anthony Pettis followed by a dominant TKO win over Rafael dos Anjos to win the lightweight title at UFC Fight Night 90 in July 2016.

Before Alvarez came to the UFC in 2014, he went 9-1 under the Bellator banner, where he was that promotion’s first lightweight champion. He closed out his Bellator run with three straight wins, including winning back the lightweight belt from Michael Chandler, who had taken it from him two years prior in an upset.

The UFC 218 lineup includes:

  • Champ Max Holloway vs. Frankie Edgar – for featherweight title
  • Francis Ngannou vs. Alistair Overeem
  • Henry Cejudo vs. Sergio Pettis
  • Yancy Medeiros vs. Alex Oliveira
  • Cortney Casey vs. Felice Herrig
  • Razak Al-Hassan vs. Sabah Homasi
  • Drakkar Klose vs. David Teymur
  • Eddie Alvarez vs. Justin Gaethje

For more on UFC 218, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

July 7, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Justin Gaethje (blue gloves) reacts after defeating Michael Johnson (red gloves) during The Ultimate Fighter Finale at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports July 7, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Michael Johnson (red gloves) moves to the octagon to fight Justin Gaethje (not pictured) during The Ultimate Fighter Finale at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports July 7, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Justin Gaethje (blue gloves) gestures before his bout with Michael Johnson (not pictured) during The Ultimate Fighter Finale at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports July 7, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Michael Johnson (red gloves) fights Justin Gaethje (blue gloves) during The Ultimate Fighter Finale at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports July 7, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Michael Johnson (red gloves) fights Justin Gaethje (blue gloves) during The Ultimate Fighter Finale at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports July 7, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Michael Johnson (red gloves) fights Justin Gaethje (blue gloves) during The Ultimate Fighter Finale at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports July 7, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Michael Johnson (red gloves) fights Justin Gaethje (blue gloves) during The Ultimate Fighter Finale at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports July 7, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Michael Johnson (red gloves) fights Justin Gaethje (blue gloves) during The Ultimate Fighter Finale at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports July 7, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Michael Johnson (red gloves) fights Justin Gaethje (blue gloves) during The Ultimate Fighter Finale at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports July 7, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Michael Johnson (red gloves) fights Justin Gaethje (blue gloves) during The Ultimate Fighter Finale at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports July 7, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Michael Johnson (red gloves) fights Justin Gaethje (blue gloves) during The Ultimate Fighter Finale at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports July 7, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Michael Johnson (red gloves) fights Justin Gaethje (blue gloves) during The Ultimate Fighter Finale at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports July 7, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Michael Johnson (red gloves) fights Justin Gaethje (blue gloves) during The Ultimate Fighter Finale at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports July 7, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Michael Johnson (red gloves) fights Justin Gaethje (blue gloves) during The Ultimate Fighter Finale at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports July 7, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Justin Gaethje (blue gloves) does a backflip off the top of the octagon fence after defeating Michael Johnson (not pictured) during The Ultimate Fighter Finale at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports July 7, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Justin Gaethje (blue gloves) does a backflip off the top of the octagon fence after defeating Michael Johnson (not pictured) during The Ultimate Fighter Finale at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports July 7, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Michael Johnson (red gloves) fights Justin Gaethje (blue gloves) during The Ultimate Fighter Finale at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports July 7, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Michael Johnson (red gloves) fights Justin Gaethje (blue gloves) during The Ultimate Fighter Finale at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports July 7, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Michael Johnson (red gloves) fights Justin Gaethje (blue gloves) during The Ultimate Fighter Finale at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports July 7, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Michael Johnson (red gloves) fights Justin Gaethje (blue gloves) during The Ultimate Fighter Finale at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports July 7, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Michael Johnson (red gloves) fights Justin Gaethje (blue gloves) during The Ultimate Fighter Finale at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports July 7, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Michael Johnson (red gloves) fights Justin Gaethje (blue gloves) during The Ultimate Fighter Finale at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports July 7, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Michael Johnson (red gloves) fights Justin Gaethje (blue gloves) during The Ultimate Fighter Finale at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports July 7, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Michael Johnson (red gloves) fights Justin Gaethje (blue gloves) during The Ultimate Fighter Finale at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports jQuery.extend( window._usmgOptions,{ scriptUrl: "https://s2.wp.com/wp-content/themes/vip/usatoday-plugins/api-galleries/assets", analyticsCallback: "galleryAnalytics", fullscreenUrl: "http://mmajunkie.com/sigallery/zs7EHJWoebxPiYh7EWasJc/275984", customAnalytics: true, title: "Gaethje def. Johnson", feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == "undefined") ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();
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Shamil Abdurakhimov vs. Chase Sherman set for UFC Fight Night 122 in Shanghai

The card for the UFC’s debut in mainland China continues to grow with the addition of a heavyweight fight.

Shamil Abdurakhimov (17-4 MMA, 2-2 UFC) is set to take on Chase Sherman (11-3 MMA, 2-2 UFC) at UFC Fight Night 122 next month. Promotion officials announced the new booking, which first was reported by MMA Today.

UFC Fight Night 122 takes place Nov. 25 at Mercedes-Benz Arena in Shanghai. The card will stream in full on UFC Fight Pass.

RelatedAnderson Silva vs. Kelvin Gastelum official for UFC's Shanghai debut main event

Shamil Abdurakhimov

Abdurakhimov will be trying to rebound from a TKO loss to Derrick Lewis in the UFC Fight Night 102 main event in Albany, N.Y., in December 2016. It was the Russian’s first UFC headlining opportunity, and though he fought well early, Lewis eventually got to him for a fourth-round TKO. Prior to that, he had his first two UFC victories – decisions over Anthony Hamilton and Walt Harris to rebound from a promotional debut TKO loss to Timothy Johnson.

Sherman lost his first two UFC fights by decision to Justin Ledet on short notice and by knockout to Harris in January. But in May, he bounced back in a big way and picked up a $50,000 “Fight of the Night” bonus for his knockout of Rashad Coulter at UFC 211 in Dallas. In July, he took a unanimous decision from Damian Grabowski at UFC on FOX 25 to make it two straight.

With the addition, the latest UFC Fight Night 122 card now includes:

  • Anderson Silva vs. Kelvin Gastelum
  • Kailin Curran vs. Xiaonan Yan
  • Gina Mazany vs. Yanan Wu
  • Shamil Abdurakhimov vs. Chase Sherman

For more on UFC Fight Night 122, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

Jul 22, 2017; Long Island, NY, USA; Chase Sherman (blue gloves) reacts to fight against Damian Grabowski (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Nassau Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports Jul 22, 2017; Long Island, NY, USA; Damian Grabowski (red gloves) fights Chase Sherman (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Nassau Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports Jul 22, 2017; Long Island, NY, USA; Damian Grabowski (red gloves) fights Chase Sherman (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Nassau Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports Jul 22, 2017; Long Island, NY, USA; Damian Grabowski (red gloves) fights Chase Sherman (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Nassau Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports Jul 22, 2017; Long Island, NY, USA; Damian Grabowski (red gloves) fights Chase Sherman (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Nassau Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports Jul 22, 2017; Long Island, NY, USA; Damian Grabowski (red gloves) fights Chase Sherman (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Nassau Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports Jul 22, 2017; Long Island, NY, USA; Damian Grabowski (red gloves) fights Chase Sherman (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Nassau Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports Jul 22, 2017; Long Island, NY, USA; Damian Grabowski (red gloves) fights Chase Sherman (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Nassau Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports Jul 22, 2017; Long Island, NY, USA; Damian Grabowski (red gloves) fights Chase Sherman (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Nassau Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports Jul 22, 2017; Long Island, NY, USA; Damian Grabowski (red gloves) fights Chase Sherman (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Nassau Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports Jul 22, 2017; Long Island, NY, USA; Damian Grabowski (red gloves) fights Chase Sherman (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Nassau Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports Jul 22, 2017; Long Island, NY, USA; Damian Grabowski (red gloves) fights Chase Sherman (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Nassau Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports Jul 22, 2017; Long Island, NY, USA; Damian Grabowski (red gloves) fights Chase Sherman (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Nassau Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports Jul 22, 2017; Long Island, NY, USA; Damian Grabowski (red gloves) fights Chase Sherman (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Nassau Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports Jul 22, 2017; Long Island, NY, USA; Damian Grabowski (red gloves) fights Chase Sherman (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Nassau Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports Jul 22, 2017; Long Island, NY, USA; Damian Grabowski (red gloves) fights Chase Sherman (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Nassau Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports Jul 22, 2017; Long Island, NY, USA; Damian Grabowski (red gloves) fights Chase Sherman (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Nassau Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports jQuery.extend( window._usmgOptions,{ scriptUrl: "https://s2.wp.com/wp-content/themes/vip/usatoday-plugins/api-galleries/assets", analyticsCallback: "galleryAnalytics", fullscreenUrl: "http://mmajunkie.com/sigallery/hJYDWCfwmwNkkvtKijkfRA/275982", customAnalytics: true, title: "Sherman def. Grabowski", feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == "undefined") ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();
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Hurricane Harvey hero Derrick Lewis suggests Donald Trump should be careful with his words

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LAS VEGAS – Derrick Lewis knows first-hand what a devastating hurricane and its destructive aftermath feel like.

In August, Lewis endured Hurricane Harvey, which killed 82 people and caused massive damage to Southeast Texas. He went above and beyond to help save residents in his hometown of Houston and told MMAjunkie of his experience driving his truck through and around ant-infested flood waters to save people from dire situations.

So imagine how Lewis (21-7-1 MMA, 9-4 UFC), who fights Fabricio Werdum in a heavyweight clash Saturday at UFC 216, felt as he watched footage of President Trump’s visit to Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, a visit San Juan mayor Carmel Yulin Cruz called “terrible and abominable.”

RelatedDerrick Lewis' plan vs. Fabricio Werdum? 'Swing until hopefully I hit something'

Imagine what went through Lewis’ mind as Trump downplayed the lives lost in Puerto Rico because it didn’t match the number of Hurricane Katrina deaths in 2005. Or how the President said Hurricane Maria wasn’t “a real catastrophe.” Or how the Trump lobbed rolls of paper towel at Puerto Ricans in need.

In simple terms, he’s not surprised by the words and actions of the President and chuckled when asked about his thoughts.

“He’s been saying and doing crazy stuff all year long,” Lewis told MMAjunkie during Wednesday’s UFC 216 media day. “People shouldn’t be shocked about the stuff he say and do. That’s just the way he is.”

Lewis isn’t surprised, but that doesn’t mean he’s OK with how Trump has conducted himself.

RelatedRelive Derrick Lewis' exploits helping Hurricane Harvey victims with Trae Tha Truth

“I think he should try to bring us together,” Lewis said, “be careful with the stuff he says, how he says it.”

That, of course, hasn’t always been the case for a President who comments – and tweets – about issues you wouldn’t expect. Case in point: Trump calling NFL players who protest social injustice by kneeling during the national anthem “sons of bitches.”

UFC interim lightweight title challenger Kevin Lee has expressed his desire to have “a bigger voice” in being able to use his platform to exercise his First Amendment right. What if Trump said the same of UFC fighters?

RelatedWhat hits like a heavyweight, but moves like a welterweight? A driven Derrick Lewis, apparently

“I would be mad, too,” Lewis said. “That’s some bull(expletive) that he did say that. I would take it serious, take it to heart. He says a lot of crazy stuff.”

“People have the right to do and say whatever they want,” he added. “At the end of the day, (NFL players who protest) will have to live with the decisions that they make, things that they do. And I believe they’re doing the right thing.

“You really have to stand up for what you believe in. I believe they’re doing the right thing.”

And for more on For more on UFC 216, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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UFC Fight Night 119's Marlon Vera wants to fight in Las Vegas, but will detour for John Lineker

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UFC bantamweight Marlon Vera says it all the time – sign him up for a fight in Las Vegas.

That, or Madison Square Garden. Fight at those places, and there’s no mistaking you’ve hit the big time.

For now, Vera (10-3-1 MMA, 4-2 UFC) heads to a decidedly less hospitable locale for his next job: A fight with No. 9 bantamweight John Lineker (29-8 MMA, 10-3 UFC) in Brazil.

Until very recently, Vera wasn’t booked for a fight. Then he wound up stepping in between Lineker and Bryan Caraway (21-7 MMA, 6-2 UFC), who were bickering incessantly about a fight in December, to take on Lineker at UFC Fight Night 119.

It’s a big step up for Vera, who’s won his past three but has yet to face a fighter of Lineker’s caliber, much less in his own country.

“I’m pretty sure not many guys want to go to Brazil to fight him,” Vera told MMAjunkie Radio. “But for me, he’s just another opponent. I respect him as a person, but as a fighter, I will treat him the same way I treat other guys and do my best to beat him.”

The two open the FS1-televised main card of the event on Oct. 28 at Ibirapuera Gymnasium in Sao Paulo.

Vera recently traveled to Las Vegas to give himself a leg up by working with the specialists at the UFC’s Performance Institute and training with his jiu-jitsu coach at 10th planet.

“I’m really excited to see the place, because I hear they have everything there,” he said of the UFC’s facility. “I want to see how much we can take advantage of it, learning how to be better as an athlete.”

A trip to Sin City reminds him of how close he is to fulfilling his dream of headlining a major fight card. He’s already adorning billboards in his native Ecuador. If he can beat Lineker, it might not be long before the same happens in Las Vegas.

“For me, it’s a dream to fight on a big card here, but I’m not in a rush,” he said. “I’m getting big opportunities. I’m fighting tough fights. Definitely I want to fight here after this one.”

At the same time, Vera knows it’s best to be patient. Sometimes, you take detours before your big shot. Lineker is one of those.

“If they want to send me to China, that’s no problem,” he said. “For me, a fight is a fight, whether it’s a big card or small card. It’s still the best show in the world. I just take anything they give me. I don’t complain about that.”

For more on UFC Fight Night 119, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

Jul 22, 2017; Long Island, NY, USA; Marlin Vera (blue gloves) reacts to fight against Brian Kelleher (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Nassau Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports Jul 22, 2017; Long Island, NY, USA; Brian Kelleher (red gloves) fights Marlin Vera (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Nassau Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports Jul 22, 2017; Long Island, NY, USA; Brian Kelleher (red gloves) fights Marlin Vera (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Nassau Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports Jul 22, 2017; Long Island, NY, USA; Brian Kelleher (red gloves) fights Marlin Vera (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Nassau Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports Jul 22, 2017; Long Island, NY, USA; Brian Kelleher (red gloves) fights Marlin Vera (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Nassau Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports Jul 22, 2017; Long Island, NY, USA; Brian Kelleher (red gloves) fights Marlin Vera (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Nassau Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports Jul 22, 2017; Long Island, NY, USA; Brian Kelleher (red gloves) fights Marlin Vera (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Nassau Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports Jul 22, 2017; Long Island, NY, USA; Brian Kelleher (red gloves) fights Marlin Vera (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Nassau Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports Jul 22, 2017; Long Island, NY, USA; Brian Kelleher (red gloves) fights Marlin Vera (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Nassau Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports Jul 22, 2017; Long Island, NY, USA; Brian Kelleher (red gloves) fights Marlin Vera (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Nassau Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports Jul 22, 2017; Long Island, NY, USA; Brian Kelleher (red gloves) and Marlin Vera (blue gloves) react to fight during UFC Fight Night at Nassau Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports Jul 22, 2017; Long Island, NY, USA; Marlin Vera (blue gloves) reacts to fight against Brian Kelleher (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Nassau Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports Jul 22, 2017; Long Island, NY, USA; Marlin Vera (blue gloves) reacts to fight against Brian Kelleher (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Nassau Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports jQuery.extend( window._usmgOptions,{ scriptUrl: "https://s2.wp.com/wp-content/themes/vip/usatoday-plugins/api-galleries/assets", analyticsCallback: "galleryAnalytics", fullscreenUrl: "http://mmajunkie.com/sigallery/j2mit4fjjkPTDDcnQMFxmR/275865", customAnalytics: true, title: "Vera def. Kelleher", feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == "undefined") ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();
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The MMA Road Show with John Morgan No. 132 – Las Vegas: UFC 216 preview with Samano and Barboza, featuring Ferguson and Lee

Episode No. 132 of “The MMA Road Show with John Morgan” podcast is now available for streaming and download.

MMAjunkie lead staff reporter John Morgan hosts the show while traveling the world to cover the sport.

Cold Coffee is off to Spain, but not before he sits down with John Morgan and MMAjunkie’s Simon Samano to preview UFC 216, as well as discuss the vibe in Las Vegas following a tragic weekend. Along the way, hear Morgan’s interview with Edson Barboza, as well as the media day talks with Tony Ferguson and Kevin Lee.

Listen below, or check it out on iTunes or at themmaroadshow.com. You can also subscribe via RSS.


Filed under: News, UFC

Episode No. 6 recap: 'The Ultimate Fighter 26: A New World Champion'

Episode No. 6 of “The Ultimate Fighter 26: A New World Champion” opens with a strength and conditioning session for Team Alvarez. Coach Eddie Alvarez brings in his personal coach to help the fighters, who are beginning to feel a bit worn down by the intensity of training.

Team Alvarez’s Lauren Murphy believes the coaching methods present some danger of overtraining, but nevertheless, the sessions continue. Barb Honchak, the #2 seed who meets #15 Gillian Robertson of Team Gaethje later in the episode, is beginning to ramp up the intensity of her fight preparation.

Honchak, the former Invicta FC flyweight champion, may be 37, but she is considered one of the favorites in the tournament, which is evident by her high seeding. Although Honchak hasn’t fought in more than two years, she feels primed and prepared to show why she was once considered the top 125-pound fighter in the world.

Focus shifts to Team Gaethje’s Robertson, who at 22 is the youngest fighter in the competition and 15 years the junior of her opponent. Coach Justin Gaethje begins to go over some strategy with Robertson, who he knows is lacking some confidence but urges her to use the entirety of her skillset, not just grappling.

Back at the TUF house, Melinda Fabian of Team Alvarez is struggling with some homesickness. She’s also dealing with a lingering leg injury, which she says has hindered her from training at 100 percent. She believes she can make weight and fight, but is having some doubts about the level at which she can fight.

Fabian visits the UFC Performance Institute in Las Vegas. She’s treated with massage therapy and cupping, and while her injury “is still very painful,” Fabian has not put any consideration into withdrawing from the competition.

At the weigh-in, Honchak and Robertson come in under the 126-pound flyweight limit. A friendly staredown follows, and the sixth opening-round tournament bout is official.

Fight day arrives, and Honchak and Robertson head to the TUF gym for their fight. They finalize preparation in the locker rooms with their respective coaching staffs before making the walk to the octagon. They enter the cage, and the sixth tournament fight is underway.

#2 Barb Honchak (10-2) vs. #15 Gillian Robertson (3-2)

Round 1 – They trade leg kicks to open the fight. Honchak moves forward while pumping the jab to the head and the body. Robertson is circling away and picking her shots. Honchak changes levels for a takedown and pushes Robertson’s back toward the cage. Robertson fights away from the fence and turns the position around. Robertson is controlling from inside the clinch but she can’t hold Honchak for long. They trade strikes off the break. Honchak is beginning to get loose with her hands and that forces Robertson to close the distance and force a clinch. Robertson is working knees and trip attempts but eats a hard knee to the gut which forces her to break away and back up. Robertson is clearly hurt but puts on a good poker face. Honchak changes levels and gets an easy double-leg takedown. Honchak begins to work from inside the guard. Robertson throws up an armbar attempt but her positioning isn’t right and Honchak avoids any real danger. Honchak passes to half guard and starts to land some hard blows which are slowing Robertson down. Honchak postures up and lands a flurry of strikes before the end of the round.

Round 2 – Honchak pounds Robertson’s thigh with a pair of leg kicks then follows with some hand combinations. Robertson shoots for a takedown but Honchak easily sprawls. Honchak muscles Robertson onto her back and is in a dominant top position. Honchak goes back to work from half guard as Robertson searches for submissions from her back. Honchak moves to side control and is working to isolate Robertson’s left arm for an Americana. Robertson powers through it and rolls Honchak over, but Honchak immediately stands up to escape the position. Robertson is driving for a single leg takedown against the fence but Honchak’s strength is once again too much and she’s powered onto the back. Honchak steps over into mount and is unleashes hard punches and elbows. The referee gives Robertson multiple warnings before stepping in and waving it off.

Barb Honchak def. Gillian Robertson via TKO (punches, elbows) – Round 2

“It felt good,” Honchak says after her victory. “I think everybody came in here looking at me. Now they know that I am what I was. They’re still looking at me, I think.”

Team Alvarez ties the competition 3-3 with Honchak’s victory. Team Gaethje takes control of fight selection, and with only two opening-round matchups remaining, coach Gaethje selects #10 Rachael Ostovich to go up against #7 Fabian of Team Alvarez next.

Also see:

Catch new episodes of “The Ultimate Fighter 26: A New World Champion” every Wednesday at 10 p.m. ET (7 p.m. PT) on FS1. MMAjunkie recaps each episode of the reality series.


Filed under: News, UFC

'UFC 216 Embedded,' No. 2: 'The celebration of our hard work and determination'

The UFC returns to Las Vegas this week, and the promotion has rolled out its “Embedded” treatment for a preview of Saturday’s UFC 216 event.

UFC 216, which features two title fights, takes place Saturday at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The main card airs on pay-per-view following prelims on FX and UFC Fight Pass.

In the headliner, Tony Ferguson (23-3 MMA, 13-1 UFC) takes on Kevin Lee (16-2 MMA, 9-2 UFC) for an interim lightweight title. The winner will stay in line for a potential unification bout against champion Conor McGregor.

In the co-main event, flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson (26-2-1 MMA, 14-1-1 UFC) looks for a UFC-record 11th straight title defense when he meets challenger Ray Borg (11-2 MMA, 5-2 UFC). That fight was pushed back from UFC 215 in September in Edmonton due to a Borg illness on fight day.

In the second episode of “Embedded,” Ferguson gets in some specialized training with coach Eddie Bravo before taking a road trip to Las Vegas. Lee goes through a fight-night simulation. Fabricio Werdum has the UFC Performance Institute all to himself and makes “the face,” while Derrick Lewis goes hard at his home gym in Houston. Flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson leaves Seattle for Southern California, while title contender Ray Borg introduces us to his pet pig.

Check out the full episode above.

Also see:

For more on UFC 216, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

Jun 25, 2017; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Kevin Lee (blue gloves) reacts after beating Michael Chiesa (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sean Pokorny-USA TODAY Sports Feb 1, 2014; Newark, NJ, USA; Kevin Lee (blue gloves) before his fight against Al Iaquinta (red gloves) during UFC 169 at Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports Feb 1, 2014; Newark, NJ, USA; Al Iaquinta (red gloves) fights Kevin Lee (blue gloves) during UFC 169 at Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports Feb 1, 2014; Newark, NJ, USA; Al Iaquinta (red gloves) fights Kevin Lee (blue gloves) during UFC 169 at Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports Feb 1, 2014; Newark, NJ, USA; Al Iaquinta (red gloves) fights Kevin Lee (blue gloves) during UFC 169 at Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports Feb 1, 2014; Newark, NJ, USA; Al Iaquinta (red gloves) fights Kevin Lee (blue gloves) during UFC 169 at Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports Feb 1, 2014; Newark, NJ, USA; Al Iaquinta (red gloves) fights Kevin Lee (blue gloves) during UFC 169 at Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports Sep 27, 2014; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Kevin Lee celebrates his victory over Jon Tuck during a lightweight fight during UFC 178 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports Feb 14, 2015; Broomfield, CO, USA; Kevin Lee (blue) and Michel Prazeres (red) compete during UFC Fight Night at the 1stBANK Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports Feb 14, 2015; Broomfield, CO, USA; Kevin Lee (blue) and Michel Prazeres (red) compete during UFC Fight Night at the 1stBANK Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports Feb 14, 2015; Broomfield, CO, USA; Kevin Lee (blue) celebrates his win over Michel Prazeres (left) during UFC Fight Night at the 1stBANK Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports December 11, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Kevin Lee poses during weigh-ins for UFC 194 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports Nov 19, 2016; Belfast, Northern Ireland; Kevin Lee (red gloves) fights Magomed Mustafaev (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at SSE Arena. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Nov 19, 2016; Belfast, Northern Ireland; Kevin Lee (red gloves) fights Magomed Mustafaev (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at SSE Arena. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Nov 19, 2016; Belfast, Northern Ireland; Kevin Lee (red gloves) fights Magomed Mustafaev (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at SSE Arena. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Nov 19, 2016; Belfast, Northern Ireland; Kevin Lee (red gloves) reacts to fights against Magomed Mustafaev (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at SSE Arena. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Mar 11, 2017; Fortazela, Brazil, USA; Kevin Lee (blue gloves) fights Francisco Tinaldo (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Centro de Formacao Olimpica de Fortaleza. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports Mar 11, 2017; Fortazela, Brazil, USA; Kevin Lee (blue gloves) fights Francisco Tinaldo (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Centro de Formacao Olimpica de Fortaleza. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports Mar 11, 2017; Fortazela, Brazil, USA; Kevin Lee (blue gloves) fights Francisco Tinaldo (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Centro de Formacao Olimpica de Fortaleza. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports Mar 11, 2017; Fortazela, Brazil, USA; Kevin Lee (blue gloves) defeats Francisco Tinaldo (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Centro de Formacao Olimpica de Fortaleza. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports Mar 11, 2017; Fortazela, Brazil, USA; Kevin Lee (blue gloves) defeats Francisco Tinaldo (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Centro de Formacao Olimpica de Fortaleza. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports Jun 25, 2017; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Michael Chiesa (red gloves) fights Kevin Lee (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sean Pokorny-USA TODAY Sports Jun 25, 2017; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Michael Chiesa (red gloves) fights Kevin Lee (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sean Pokorny-USA TODAY Sports Jun 25, 2017; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Michael Chiesa (red gloves) fights Kevin Lee (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sean Pokorny-USA TODAY Sports Jun 25, 2017; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Kevin Lee (blue gloves) before his fight against Michael Chiesa (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sean Pokorny-USA TODAY Sports jQuery.extend( window._usmgOptions,{ scriptUrl: "https://s2.wp.com/wp-content/themes/vip/usatoday-plugins/api-galleries/assets", analyticsCallback: "galleryAnalytics", fullscreenUrl: "http://mmajunkie.com/sigallery/NUEYhhB9cYaVsvwhUxSUdd/275943", customAnalytics: true, title: "Kevin Lee", feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == "undefined") ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();
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Derrick Lewis' plan vs. Fabricio Werdum? 'Swing until hopefully I hit something'

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LAS VEGAS – UFC heavyweight Derrick Lewis’ back isn’t 100 percent, but he’s still confident he’ll beat ex-champ Fabricio Werdum at UFC 216.

“I believe I’ll get him out of there before the fight is over,” Lewis (21-7-1 MMA, 9-4 UFC) told MMAjunkie at a media day in support of his pay-per-view fight with Werdum (23-3 MMA, 13-1 UFC) on Saturday at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. “I’m feeling in better shape than the last fight. The back is a little bit tight, but other than that, I’m feeling good.”

In June, Lewis re-aggravated a longtime back injury in a fight with Mark Hunt at UFC Fight Night 110. He hobbled out of the cage with a fourth-round TKO loss and then announced his retirement.

RelatedRelive Derrick Lewis' exploits helping Hurricane Harvey victims with Trae Tha Truth

Lewis, the No. 12 fighter in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA heavyweight rankings, reversed course on his decision and booked the fight against No. 3 Werdum, who’s trying to work back to a title shot. The 40-year-old PRIDE vet most recently lost a majority decision to Alistair Overeem, bringing him to 1-1 since losing the belt to champ Stipe Miocic.

“I believe he still has the potential to be a champion,” Lewis said of Werdum. “He’s a tough guy. He goes out there and fights. He pushes the fight to you. He’s real strong in jiu-jitsu and his conditioning. But to me, I don’t care. I’m just going to go out there and swing until hopefully I hit something.”

So far, that approach has worked more than not. What Lewis lacks in technique, he makes up for in tenacity and aggression. Against Hunt, a far superior technical striker, he hung in until the combination that forced a referee stoppage in the fourth.

RelatedUFC 216's Fabricio Werdum: I deserve title shot with impressive win over Derrick Lewis

On several occasions, Lewis has surpassed expectations against fighters considered to be more technically advanced. And every time, he’s simply shrugged it off like it was no big deal.

Lewis thinks the same about his UFC career. Although a win over Werdum would look great on his resume and boost his chances of a future title shot, he’s more interested in financial rewards than ceremonial ones.

“I don’t care if I ever fight for the belt, just as long as they pay me good,” he said. “That’s all I really care about.”

Check out the above video to hear Lewis on the upcoming fight, his new vegan diet and other topics.

And for more on For more on UFC 216, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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UFC 216 fighters carry on with heavy hearts in wake of Las Vegas mass shooting

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LAS VEGAS – Among the events taking place at T-Mobile Arena this month are Vegas Golden Knights home games and concerts by The Weeknd and Jay-Z. There’s also UFC 216 this Saturday.

In a normal week, these events would flash in rotation on the promotional video board outside the arena. This, however, is not a normal week. Displayed instead are messages of inspiration and gratitude toward first responders to the massacre outside Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, where a gunman killed 58 people and injured more than 500 as he shot from the 32nd floor onto a nearby concert crowd.

In the wake of this tragedy, the UFC, which is donating $1 million to affected families, is carrying on with the first major sporting event scheduled in this city. Not surprisingly, it’s difficult for some fighters to handle their business as usual just down the street from where the worst mass shooting in modern American history happened.

RelatedUFC 216's Kevin Lee a man of few words ahead of interim title showdown

That’s especially true for Las Vegas resident Kevin Lee, who admitted at Wednesday’s media day it’s been a struggle to shift focus entering the biggest fight of his career.

“Yeah, it’s rough,” said Lee, who faces Tony Ferguson in the headlining interim lightweight title bout. “There isn’t really much for me to say. …

“I’ve got a job to handle. I’m not going to let one man ruin that. He’s a coward.”

Evan Dunham also finds himself in a tough spot as a resident of the city, coping as he prepares for a lightweight bout with Beneil Dariush.

RelatedUFC pledges $1 million to families of Las Vegas mass shooting; UFC 216 will go on as planned

“It’s definitely been a tough one,” Dunham said. “I could stay focused on the task at hand. I know what needs to be done, and I’m ready to do it. Go out there and get a win for Vegas. … (This) affected everyone in one way or another. It’s just a horrible tragedy.”

Some UFC 216 fighters were on The Strip when the shooting began, including Dariush and his family. Word spread quickly, he said, but nothing seemed out of the ordinary initially.

It wasn’t until Dariush got back to his hotel room that he realized the gravity of the situation.

“It was so heartbreaking. I still don’t know how to process it exactly,” Dariush said. “I want to put it out of my mind, because I’m fighting Saturday. At the same, time I feel it’s almost selfish not to think about it. For me, if I walk inside the octagon, all I got to do is touch gloves, and it’s there. It’s natural. So, for me, not thinking about it just doesn’t feel right. I want to think about it. I want to know what is happening. I want to be more informed about it, and I want to help the families if I could.”

RelatedLas Vegas mass shooting leaves Conor McGregor 'absolutely devastated'

Heavyweight Fabricio Werdum, who’s from Brazil but is no stranger to Las Vegas, said he was playing roulette when he caught wind of what had happened.

“My friend called me. She said, “Fabricio, go to your room. A lot of people just died,'” he recalled. “I just went to my room, I stayed in my room, and I watched the news. I’m very sad for the families. Fifty-nine (people) died. It’s a lot. For sure, I am praying for the families, because this is a bad thing.”

As bad as it is, the hope among UFC 216 fighters is that the event serves as an escape to help this normally glowing city heal during a dark time.

Lee aims to give his adopted hometown a new champion to feel good about.

“Fighting is where I feel most alive,” Lee said. “I’m going to go out there, and I’m going to live. And I’m going to show the people what living really is. It’s going to be in the moment. It’s only going to be about that moment. And that’s how we’re going to live. It’s going to be a celebration.

“Saturday night will be a celebration for us and the city.”

For more on UFC 216, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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Oh, you have the 'remedy' for Demetrious Johnson? 'Cute,' UFC champ says

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LAS VEGAS – UFC flyweight champ Demetrious Johnson has a word for those predicting his eventual downfall.

Cute.

“It’s always intriguing that this person thinks he can beat me,” Johnson (26-2-1 MMA, 14-1-1 UFC) told MMAjunkie during UFC 216 media day. “And that team thinks they have the remedy of ‘The Mighty One.’ Now it’s my job to be like, ‘You guys are so far behind.'”

Of course, it’s the challenging party’s job to say they can beat the champ. In this case, it’s Ray Borg (11-2 MMA, 5-2 UFC) and his team that are predicting they have the remedy.

RelatedIf successful at UFC 216, UFC champ Demetrious Johnson explains who's next

The team, Jackson-Wink MMA, is one Johnson is very familiar with. Three of its fighters have faced Johnson in the octagon. Like the others, they’ve been confronted with defeat.

Still, longtime coach Brandon Gibson insists Borg is the one to dethrone Johnson. Just like the once-unbeatable Ronda Rousey or Dominick Cruz, he can be brought down.

When Johnson hears statements like that, he thinks about the time he sparred with a former partner of his two-time opponent Ian McCall.

“We were out there, and he goes, ‘What the (expletive)? We were so far behind. We had no idea what you were doing. I’ve never felt anything like this before in my life. Now, I can tell where we were so far behind.'”

As you can imagine, Johnson takes great pride in this story. It’s a little reminder that he keeps showing up those who predict his downfall.

RelatedRay Borg scrapped nutritionist but cutting weight same way for UFC 216 vs. Demetrious Johnson

“I get off on that, being this quiet guy who’s in the shadows, and everybody’s like, ‘This is what I do, I’m so good, look at these biceps.’And I’m like, ‘That’s real cute. Let’s dance.'”

On Saturday at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Johnson will attempt to break the record for most consecutive title defenses at 11. He then expects to face the winner of an upcoming bout between Henry Cejudo, a previous victim, and Sergio Pettis. Then the whole cycle of predictions starts over again.

But for now, a new challenger beckons, and with that the opportunity to send him and his compatriots home, wondering how they came up short.

“(Borg) is young, athletic. He seems very hungry, just like the last 10 of them were,” Johnson said. “I’m fighting Greg Jackson’s camp again. But I’m always excited and up for the challenge.”

For more on UFC 216, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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UFC 216's Fabricio Werdum: I deserve title shot with impressive win over Derrick Lewis

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LAS VEGAS – With the UFC heavyweight title picture growing increasingly crowded, Fabricio Werdum believes he can get the next crack at champion Stipe Miocic with a win over Derrick Lewis at UFC 216.

Werdum (21-7-1 MMA, 9-4 UFC), who meets Lewis (18-5 MMA, 9-3 UFC) in the featured bout on UFC 216’s pay-per-view main card, which takes place at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas following prelims on FX and UFC Fight Pass, is only two fights removed from losing the heavyweight belt to Miocic by first-round knockout at UFC 198 in May 2016.

Despite the fact he’s also coming off a loss to Alistair Overeem (43-15 MMA, 8-4 UFC), who is scheduled to fight Francis Ngannou (10-1 MMA, 5-0 UFC) in a crucial contender bout at UFC 218 in December, Werdum believes he can slide into the No. 1 contender spot vs. Miocic (17-2 MMA, 11-2 UFC) with an impressive performance against Lewis.

RelatedFabricio Werdum faces 'zero, zero pressure,' will try to finish Derrick Lewis on mat at UFC 216

“I deserve (a title shot),” Werdum told MMAjunkie at today’s UFC 216 media day. “Stipe (hasn’t fought) for a long time. I don’t know how long, but he don’t fight for a long time. I think all three. Me, Overeem and Francis can go for the title shot. I think maybe, maybe, if Derrick Lewis beats me (he can get one). But he doesn’t deserve it at this moment to go for the title shot.

“I think a good fight, a good submission, a good knockout, fans will say, ‘Werdum, you’re the next one.’ … I believe I should go for the title shot again.”

At 40, Werdum’s timeframe to regain heavyweight gold is seemingly shrinking with each passing day. He said he’s healthy and injury-free going into UFC 216, though, and intends to deliver a performance that shows exactly what he’s capable of.

RelatedThis is not a great look for you, Fabricio Werdum

Werdum, No. 3 in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA heavyweight rankings, has never lost consecutive fights during his career, and after the setback against Overeem at UFC 213 in July, he wants to use No. 12-ranked Lewis as a platform to not only bounce back, but prove he should be the one fighting Miocic next.

“I want to beat Derrick Lewis,” Werdum said. “I respect him a lo,  because I know he’s a top fighter. He has a good punch, he has good kicks too. He’s in my way. My goal is the title shot again.”

For more on UFC 216, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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UFC 216's Beneil Dariush wants to make Evan Dunham pay for calling him out

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LAS VEGAS – Beneil Dariush isn’t offended by the fact Evan Dunham specifically requested him as an opponent for UFC 216. However, he plans to make him regret that decision.

“When somebody asks for me my first thought is, ‘Oh, he thinks I’m weak,'” Dariush told MMAjunkie at today’s UFC 216 media day.” Why else would you call somebody out if you don’t think you can beat them? That’s the most motivating part. This guy thinks he can beat me. Let’s get after it. Let’s do this. It’s the only thing on my mind.”

UFC 216 takes place Saturday at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Dariush (14-3 MMA, 8-3 UFC) vs. Dunham (18-6 MMA, 11-6 UFC) opens the pay-per-view main card following prelims on FX and UFC Fight Pass.

The fight is crucial for Dariush’s career. He’s coming off his worst loss to date, a brutal “Knockout of the Year” candidate against Edson Barboza at UFC Fight Night 106 in March. Dariush has never lost back-to-back fights before, and he has no intention of starting with Dunham.

Although Barboza put him on the highlight reel in one of the worst ways imaginable, Dariush said he hasn’t been deterred. He would have liked to return to competition sooner, but intends on taking out his pent up frustration on Dunham.

“Coming off a loss sucks,” Dariush said. “It’s not fun losing, and the way I lost especially. I feel I controlled the fight the entire time – then one second, one mistake – he capitalized on it, and he won the fight. I want to get back out there and just work, make a statement. I had to take a lot of time off, which is frustrating. I like to fight consistently. I just want to get back out there and move and show the world that I’m still here.”

The matchup with Dunham has potential for fireworks on the feet and ground. Both fighters have striking and grappling styles, which are largely effective for them, but it’s what happens when those two styles come together that will tell the tale.

Dariush, No. 10 in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA lightweight rankings, believes he has the advantage over Dunham in any scenario, and that’s why he is confident he’ll get back on track with a statement win.

“We’re both jiu-jitsu school owners,” Dariush said. “With that being said, if it goes to the grappling, let’s do it, no problem with me. If we’re standing, same thing, no problem. The pressure is going to be the difference. Whether it be on the ground, whether it be standing. I have a different pressure, and I don’t think he’ll be able to last.”

For more on UFC 216, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

Nov 5, 2016; Mexico City, Mexico; Beneil Dariush (red gloves) defeats Rashid Magomedov (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Distrito Federal. Mandatory Credit: Etzel Espinosa-USA TODAY Sports Nov 5, 2016; Mexico City, Mexico; Beneil Dariush (red gloves) fights Rashid Magomedov (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Distrito Federal. Mandatory Credit: Etzel Espinosa-USA TODAY Sports Nov 5, 2016; Mexico City, Mexico; Beneil Dariush (red gloves) fights Rashid Magomedov (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Distrito Federal. Mandatory Credit: Etzel Espinosa-USA TODAY Sports Nov 5, 2016; Mexico City, Mexico; Beneil Dariush (red gloves) fights Rashid Magomedov (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Distrito Federal. Mandatory Credit: Etzel Espinosa-USA TODAY Sports Nov 5, 2016; Mexico City, Mexico; Beneil Dariush (red gloves) fights Rashid Magomedov (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Distrito Federal. Mandatory Credit: Etzel Espinosa-USA TODAY Sports Nov 5, 2016; Mexico City, Mexico; Beneil Dariush (red gloves) defeats Rashid Magomedov (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Distrito Federal. Mandatory Credit: Etzel Espinosa-USA TODAY Sports Nov 5, 2016; Mexico City, Mexico; Beneil Dariush (red gloves) defeats Rashid Magomedov (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Distrito Federal. Mandatory Credit: Etzel Espinosa-USA TODAY Sports jQuery.extend( window._usmgOptions,{ scriptUrl: "https://s2.wp.com/wp-content/themes/vip/usatoday-plugins/api-galleries/assets", analyticsCallback: "galleryAnalytics", fullscreenUrl: "http://mmajunkie.com/sigallery/v9r25AP7Yh4ZQjECtJMftc/275869", customAnalytics: true, title: "Dariush def. Magomedov", feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == "undefined") ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();
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UFC 216 headliner Tony Ferguson: 'Fake' Kevin Lee is 'trying to be something that he's not'

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LAS VEGAS – Tony Ferguson said he respects Kevin Lee for his willingness to compete against him in the UFC 216 headliner, but that’s where the courteous words stop.

Ferguson (22-3 MMA, 12-1 UFC) meets Lee (16-2 MMA, 9-2 UFC) in Saturday’s UFC 216 main event, which takes place at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas and airs on pay-per-view following prelims on FX and UFC Fight Pass. The fight will decide the next interim UFC lightweight champion, a spot “El Cucuy” has been pursuing for quite some time.

RelatedTony Ferguson takes all business to another level ahead of UFC 216 title fight vs. Kevin Lee

“The Ultimate Fighter 13” winner believes he’s made it to the top of the 155-pound class by doing things the right way. His current nine-fight winning streak is the longest in divisional history, and that run includes notables such as ex-champion Rafael dos Anjos, Edson Barboza and Josh Thomson. Ferguson describes himself as “the most real,” from what he delivers in the octagon to his interview. He said he doesn’t view Lee in the same light.

“I’m not fake, and I see this guy as fake,” Ferguson told MMAjunkie at today’s UFC 216 media day. “He’s trying to be something that he’s not. I know where you come from. I lived in the suburbs (of Michigan), too. Trust me, I know. We have people around the block. I don’t have to be fake. I’m probably one of the most real guys.”

If Ferguson, No. 3 in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA lightweight rankings, is able to get past No. 8-ranked Lee at UFC 216 and push his winning streak to 10, he would likely put himself in position for a title-unification match with UFC champion Conor McGregor (21-3 MMA, 9-1 UFC).

RelatedKevin Lee: Tony Ferguson's toughness just means he'll 'take a longer ass-whooping' at UFC 216

Although McGregor is the fight everyone in the division seems to want, Ferguson said he’s not going to exhaust himself chasing the Irishman. He insists McGregor is reluctant to fight him, and he’s not sure if that’s going to change after he puts on the type of performance against Lee that he expects of himself.

“I don’t like red panties. I like blue panties,” Ferguson said. “He’s got to defend or vacate. He’s going to have to fight me. There’s no insider information. He’s never spoken my name. I’m one of the most ruthless vatos out there. This guy, he doesn’t want a part of me. I’m not aiming at him. I don’t give two (expletives).

“I don’t want to fight someone who doesn’t want to fight me or compete against some of the best. When you’re saying, ‘I’ll fight anybody, anytime.’ You’re (expletive) full of (expletive). For me, I’ve been fighting anybody, any time, any weight – straight up.”

For more on UFC 216, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

Nov 5, 2016; Mexico City, Mexico; Tony Ferguson (blue gloves) defeats Rafael Dos Anjos (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Distrito Federal. Mandatory Credit: Etzel Espinosa-USA TODAY Sports May 5, 2012; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Tony Ferguson in a lightweight bout against Michael Johnson during UFC on Fox 3 at the Izod Center. Michael Johnson won by unanimous decision in the third round. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports May 5, 2012; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Michael Johnson (left) fights Tony Ferguson in a lightweight bout during UFC on Fox 3 at the Izod Center. Michael Johnson won by unanimous decision in the third round. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports May 5, 2012; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Michael Johnson (left) fights Tony Ferguson in a lightweight bout during UFC on Fox 3 at the Izod Center. Michael Johnson won by unanimous decision in the third round. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports Oct 18, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; Tony Ferguson during the weigh-in for UFC 166 at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Richardson-USA TODAY Sports Oct 19, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; Tony Ferguson (red gloves) fights against Mike Rio (blue gloves) in their lightweight bout during UFC 166 at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Richardson-USA TODAY Sports Oct 19, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; Tony Ferguson (red gloves) celebrates his victory against Mike Rio (not pictured) in their lightweight bout during UFC 166 at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Richardson-USA TODAY Sports May 24, 2014; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Tony Ferguson (red) and Katsunori Kikuno (blue) throw punches during their UFC 173 welterweight bout at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Ferguson won the bout by TKO. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports May 24, 2014; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Tony Ferguson (red) locks onto Katsunori Kikuno (blue) during their UFC 173 welterweight bout at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Ferguson won the bout by TKO. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports August 30, 2014; Sacramento, CA, USA; Tony Ferguson (red gloves) fights against Danny Castillo (blue gloves) during the lightweight bout of UFC 177 at Sleep Train Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports August 30, 2014; Sacramento, CA, USA; Tony Ferguson (red gloves) fights against Danny Castillo (blue gloves) during the lightweight bout of UFC 177 at Sleep Train Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports August 30, 2014; Sacramento, CA, USA; Tony Ferguson (red gloves) celebrates after defeating Danny Castillo (blue gloves) during the lightweight bout of UFC 177 at Sleep Train Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports Dec 6, 2014; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Tony Ferguson (red) and Abel Trujillo (blue) during UFC 181 at Madalay Bay Events Center. Ferguson won via second round submission. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports Dec 6, 2014; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Tony Ferguson (red) and Abel Trujillo (blue) during UFC 181 at Madalay Bay Events Center. Ferguson won via second round submission. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports Dec 6, 2014; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Tony Ferguson (red) and Abel Trujillo (blue) during UFC 181 at Madalay Bay Events Center. Ferguson won via second round submission. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports Dec 6, 2014; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Tony Ferguson (red) submits Abel Trujillo (blue) during UFC 181 at Madalay Bay Events Center. Ferguson won via second round submission. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports Dec 6, 2014; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Tony Ferguson (red) submits Abel Trujillo (blue) during UFC 181 at Madalay Bay Events Center. Ferguson won via second round submission. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports Dec 6, 2014; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Tony Ferguson (red) after submitting Abel Trujillo (blue) during UFC 181 at Madalay Bay Events Center. Ferguson won via second round submission. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports Feb 28, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Tony Ferguson (red gloves) during his Lightweight bout against Gleison Tibau (blue gloves) at UFC 184 at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports Feb 28, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Tony Ferguson (red gloves) during his Lightweight bout against Gleison Tibau (blue gloves) at UFC 184 at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports Jul 15, 2015; San Diego, CA, USA; Josh Thomson (red) fights Tony Ferguson (blue) during UFC Fight Night at Valley View Casino Center. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports Jul 13, 2016; Sioux Falls, SD, USA; Tony Ferguson (red gloves) fights against Lando Vannata (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Denny Sanford Premier Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports Jul 13, 2016; Sioux Falls, SD, USA; Tony Ferguson (red gloves) fights against Lando Vannata (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Denny Sanford Premier Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports Jul 13, 2016; Sioux Falls, SD, USA; Tony Ferguson (red gloves) fights against Lando Vannata (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Denny Sanford Premier Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports Nov 5, 2016; Mexico City, Mexico; Rafael Dos Anjos (red gloves) fights Tony Ferguson (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Distrito Federal. Mandatory Credit: Etzel Espinosa-USA TODAY Sports Nov 5, 2016; Mexico City, Mexico; Rafael Dos Anjos (red gloves) fights Tony Ferguson (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Distrito Federal. Mandatory Credit: Etzel Espinosa-USA TODAY Sports Nov 5, 2016; Mexico City, Mexico; Rafael Dos Anjos (red gloves) fights Tony Ferguson (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Distrito Federal. Mandatory Credit: Etzel Espinosa-USA TODAY Sports Nov 5, 2016; Mexico City, Mexico; Rafael Dos Anjos (red gloves) fights Tony Ferguson (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Distrito Federal. Mandatory Credit: Etzel Espinosa-USA TODAY Sports Nov 5, 2016; Mexico City, Mexico; Rafael Dos Anjos (red gloves) and Tony Ferguson (blue gloves) react after their fight during UFC Fight Night at Distrito Federal. Mandatory Credit: Etzel Espinosa-USA TODAY Sports Nov 5, 2016; Mexico City, Mexico; Tony Ferguson (blue gloves) defeats Rafael Dos Anjos (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Distrito Federal. Mandatory Credit: Etzel Espinosa-USA TODAY Sports jQuery.extend( window._usmgOptions,{ scriptUrl: "https://s2.wp.com/wp-content/themes/vip/usatoday-plugins/api-galleries/assets", analyticsCallback: "galleryAnalytics", fullscreenUrl: "http://mmajunkie.com/sigallery/BZmaANcyDjkNFoqU9L5v2d/275891", customAnalytics: true, title: "Tony Ferguson", feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == "undefined") ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();
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UFC 216's Kevin Lee a man of few words ahead of interim title showdown

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LAS VEGAS – Kevin Lee rarely has nothing to say. But today was a different story.

The UFC interim lightweight title challenger was far from his usual self during UFC 216 media day, giving curt answers to standard pre-fight questions.

Of course, there was the huge elephant in the room, a tragic mass-shooting on Sunday that has rocked his adopted hometown to its core.

RelatedUFC 216 headliner Tony Ferguson: 'Fake' Kevin Lee is 'trying to be something that he's not'

“Yeah, it’s rough,” Lee (16-2 MMA, 9-2 UFC) told MMAjunkie in advance of his Saturday pay-per-view headliner against Tony Ferguson (23-3 MMA, 13-1 UFC) at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. “There isn’t really much for me to say.”

Lee said it’s been a struggle not to shift focus on the biggest week of his career. He said Las Vegas is “different” since he returned to the city after a press jaunt in Los Angeles. But he promises to soldier on.

“I’ve got a job to handle,” Lee said. “I’m not going to let one man ruin that. He’s a coward.”

On several occasions, Lee said his performance would be a “celebration” that would bring the city together and show them about living. He also talked about bringing the belt back to his native Detroit to “wave it around the neighborhood” and “show the kids they can do it, too.”

RelatedKevin Lee: Tony Ferguson's toughness just means he'll 'take a longer ass-whooping' at UFC 216

But in light of current events, he said the topic of fighting feels trivial. Even his animosity toward his opponent is accompanied by empathy.

“There’s so many bigger things in life,” he said. “Me and Tony, we might have a lot of back and forth, we might have a lot of disrespect, and I might not like him. At the end of the day, he’s going to be disappointed with the result, but I hope he goes home, he enjoys his life, he enjoys his family, and he keeps on living. I hope the same for me.”

For more on UFC 216, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

Jun 25, 2017; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Kevin Lee (blue gloves) reacts after beating Michael Chiesa (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sean Pokorny-USA TODAY Sports Feb 1, 2014; Newark, NJ, USA; Kevin Lee (blue gloves) before his fight against Al Iaquinta (red gloves) during UFC 169 at Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports Feb 1, 2014; Newark, NJ, USA; Al Iaquinta (red gloves) fights Kevin Lee (blue gloves) during UFC 169 at Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports Feb 1, 2014; Newark, NJ, USA; Al Iaquinta (red gloves) fights Kevin Lee (blue gloves) during UFC 169 at Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports Feb 1, 2014; Newark, NJ, USA; Al Iaquinta (red gloves) fights Kevin Lee (blue gloves) during UFC 169 at Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports Feb 1, 2014; Newark, NJ, USA; Al Iaquinta (red gloves) fights Kevin Lee (blue gloves) during UFC 169 at Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports Feb 1, 2014; Newark, NJ, USA; Al Iaquinta (red gloves) fights Kevin Lee (blue gloves) during UFC 169 at Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports Sep 27, 2014; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Kevin Lee celebrates his victory over Jon Tuck during a lightweight fight during UFC 178 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports Feb 14, 2015; Broomfield, CO, USA; Kevin Lee (blue) and Michel Prazeres (red) compete during UFC Fight Night at the 1stBANK Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports Feb 14, 2015; Broomfield, CO, USA; Kevin Lee (blue) and Michel Prazeres (red) compete during UFC Fight Night at the 1stBANK Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports Feb 14, 2015; Broomfield, CO, USA; Kevin Lee (blue) celebrates his win over Michel Prazeres (left) during UFC Fight Night at the 1stBANK Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports December 11, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Kevin Lee poses during weigh-ins for UFC 194 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports Nov 19, 2016; Belfast, Northern Ireland; Kevin Lee (red gloves) fights Magomed Mustafaev (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at SSE Arena. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Nov 19, 2016; Belfast, Northern Ireland; Kevin Lee (red gloves) fights Magomed Mustafaev (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at SSE Arena. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Nov 19, 2016; Belfast, Northern Ireland; Kevin Lee (red gloves) fights Magomed Mustafaev (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at SSE Arena. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Nov 19, 2016; Belfast, Northern Ireland; Kevin Lee (red gloves) reacts to fights against Magomed Mustafaev (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at SSE Arena. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Mar 11, 2017; Fortazela, Brazil, USA; Kevin Lee (blue gloves) fights Francisco Tinaldo (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Centro de Formacao Olimpica de Fortaleza. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports Mar 11, 2017; Fortazela, Brazil, USA; Kevin Lee (blue gloves) fights Francisco Tinaldo (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Centro de Formacao Olimpica de Fortaleza. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports Mar 11, 2017; Fortazela, Brazil, USA; Kevin Lee (blue gloves) fights Francisco Tinaldo (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Centro de Formacao Olimpica de Fortaleza. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports Mar 11, 2017; Fortazela, Brazil, USA; Kevin Lee (blue gloves) defeats Francisco Tinaldo (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Centro de Formacao Olimpica de Fortaleza. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports Mar 11, 2017; Fortazela, Brazil, USA; Kevin Lee (blue gloves) defeats Francisco Tinaldo (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Centro de Formacao Olimpica de Fortaleza. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports Jun 25, 2017; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Michael Chiesa (red gloves) fights Kevin Lee (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sean Pokorny-USA TODAY Sports Jun 25, 2017; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Michael Chiesa (red gloves) fights Kevin Lee (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sean Pokorny-USA TODAY Sports Jun 25, 2017; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Michael Chiesa (red gloves) fights Kevin Lee (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sean Pokorny-USA TODAY Sports Jun 25, 2017; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Kevin Lee (blue gloves) before his fight against Michael Chiesa (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sean Pokorny-USA TODAY Sports jQuery.extend( window._usmgOptions,{ scriptUrl: "https://s2.wp.com/wp-content/themes/vip/usatoday-plugins/api-galleries/assets", analyticsCallback: "galleryAnalytics", fullscreenUrl: "http://mmajunkie.com/sigallery/NUEYhhB9cYaVsvwhUxSUdd/275874", customAnalytics: true, title: "Kevin Lee", feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == "undefined") ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();
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