MMA Junkie News

Arjan Bhullar announces UFC heavyweight bout vs. Adam Wieczorek

It looks like a pair of heavyweights will face each other in their second UFC appearances.

On Monday, Arjan Bhullar (7-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC) announced that he’s set to fight Adam Wieczorek (9-1 MMA, 1-0 UFC) on April 14 at UFC event that has yet to be announced (via Twitter).

IT'S TIME!!!!!!
Opponent: Adam Wieczorek (Poland)
Date: April 14
City and Venue: Announcement Coming

Let's Go!#teambhullar #TheOne #onebillionstrong #warpath pic.twitter.com/IVMMPa7ki4

— Arjan Singh Bhullar (@TheOneASB) January 8, 2018

Currently, the UFC officially has events lined up through UFC Fight Night 127 on March 17 in London. Nothing beyond that has been announced.

Both Bhullar and Wieczorek were successful in the their UFC debuts last year.

RelatedUFC's Arjan Bhullar hopes he can wear his turban to next fight – and beyond

In September, Bhullar became the first Sikh and first Indo-Canadian to compete with the UFC, winning a unanimous decision from Luis Henrique at UFC 215. The Polish Wieczorek, meanwhile, also scored a unanimous win in his debut against Anthony Hamilton at UFC Fight Night 121 in November.

For more on the UFC’s upcoming schedule, visit the UFC Rumors section of the site.

Nov 18, 2017; Sydney, Australia; Adam Wieczorek lands a hit against Anthony Hamilton during UFC Fight Night at Qudos Bank Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hyde-USA TODAY Sports Nov 18, 2017; Sydney, Australia; Anthony Hamilton pins Adam Wieczorek to the mat during UFC Fight Night at Qudos Bank Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hyde-USA TODAY Sports Nov 18, 2017; Sydney, Australia; Adam Wieczorek lands a hit against Anthony Hamilton during UFC Fight Night at Qudos Bank Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hyde-USA TODAY Sports Nov 18, 2017; Sydney, Australia; Adam Wieczorek holds Anthony Hamilton during UFC Fight Night at Qudos Bank Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hyde-USA TODAY Sports Nov 18, 2017; Sydney, Australia; Adam Wieczorek lands a kick against Anthony Hamilton during UFC Fight Night at Qudos Bank Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hyde-USA TODAY Sports Nov 18, 2017; Sydney, Australia; Adam Wieczorek moves in with a hit against Anthony Hamilton during UFC Fight Night at Qudos Bank Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hyde-USA TODAY Sports Nov 18, 2017; Sydney, Australia; Anthony Hamilton moves in against Adam Wieczorek during UFC Fight Night at Qudos Bank Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hyde-USA TODAY Sports Nov 18, 2017; Sydney, Australia; Anthony Hamilton pins Adam Wieczorek to the mat during UFC Fight Night at Qudos Bank Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hyde-USA TODAY Sports Nov 18, 2017; Sydney, Australia; Anthony Hamilton moves in as Adam Wieczorek defends during UFC Fight Night at Qudos Bank Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hyde-USA TODAY Sports Nov 18, 2017; Sydney, Australia; Adam Wieczorek moves in with a kick against Anthony Hamilton during UFC Fight Night at Qudos Bank Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hyde-USA TODAY Sports Nov 18, 2017; Sydney, Australia; Adam Wieczorek moves in against Anthony Hamilton during UFC Fight Night at Qudos Bank Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hyde-USA TODAY Sports Nov 18, 2017; Sydney, Australia; Adam Wieczorek applies a hold against Anthony Hamilton during UFC Fight Night at Qudos Bank Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hyde-USA TODAY Sports Nov 18, 2017; Sydney, Australia; Adam Wieczorek before his match against Anthony Hamilton during UFC Fight Night at Qudos Bank Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hyde-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/tnv3PgW249aRGPPpkWFWHF/295218", customAnalytics: true, title: "Wieczorek def. Hamilton", feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == "undefined") ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();
Filed under: News, UFC

Co-Main Event Podcast: Download episode No. 288 with Ben Fowlkes, Chad Dundas

Episode No. 288 of the Co-Main Event Podcast now is available for streaming and download.

MMAjunkie/USA TODAY columnist Ben Fowlkes and Bleacher Report lead MMA writer Chad Dundas host the weekly show (also dubbed the “CME,” if you nasty). This week, the grand-prix junkies discuss Bellator’s upcoming heavyweight tournament, UFC 220’s Stipe Miocic vs. Francis Ngannou headliner, Bellator 192’s Douglas Lima vs. Rory MacDonald main event, Conor McGregor, Jeff Novitsky and more.

Check it out at comainevent.com, or download the podcast directly.


Filed under: News, UFC

MMAjunkie's '2017 Men's Fighter of the Year': Max Holloway's old-school approach felt new again

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Filed under: Featured, News, UFC

It was a good year to be a maker of weirdly futuristic metallic ties.

That’s because 2017 saw the rise of Max Holloway, a hard-nosed Hawaiian with an unconventional sense of style and a swagger that he started to truly own at right around the same time that he also became the sole owner of the UFC featherweight title.

It might seem strange for a guy who only beat one opponent to be named MMAjunkie’s “2017 Fighter of the Year.” After ending 2016 with a TKO win over Anthony Pettis to claim the UFC interim featherweight title, Holloway fought twice in the last calendar year, both times against 145-pound legend Jose Aldo.

Holloway (19-3 MMA, 15-3 UFC) didn’t just beat the longtime champion twice – he finished him. In two tries, the guy who held the featherweight strap for half a decade couldn’t get past the third round against the 26-year-old Holloway. And the second beatdown was even worst than the first.

RelatedUFC champ Max Holloway wants to 'make everyone believe the hype' with multiple title defenses in 2018

In fairness, Holloway told us this was coming. His path to the undisputed title was littered with repeated warnings that we were entering the “Blessed” era, so we might as well get ready.

“I match up with anyone in the world,” Holloway said prior to his bout with Pettis at the end of 2016. “Put me in there with anyone – I don’t care. I’m the best guy in the world, and I believe it. I believe in myself. If you don’t believe in yourself, then what are you doing this stuff for? I believe in my damn self. I know I’m here for a reason, and I just can’t wait to prove it.”

Holloway proved it against Pettis, and then set his sights on Aldo. When he showed up in Brazil to fight the longtime champ on his own turf, Holloway brought a soccer ball as a gift.

“The old boy said he wants to play soccer after he’s done fighting,” Holloway said. “Us Hawaiians, we like to give gifts, and this gift is for him. He’s going into retirement. It’s right here. He can have the ball, and we can get this fight going.”

It’s only hubris if you lose. If you win, and then win the rematch in even more dominant fashion six months later, then it’s just well-earned confidence.

Holloway not only starts 2018 as the clear and unquestioned king of the featherweight division, he’s also the owner of an awful lot of UFC featherweight records.

RelatedUFC in 2017: A ridiculously robust look at the stats, streaks, skids and record-setters

He has the most fights in the division’s history (17), the most wins (14), the most stoppages (nine), the most knockouts (seven), and the longest winning streak (11).

But beyond the numbers, what Holloway brought to featherweight and to the UFC in 2017 was a fresh new energy. Here was a young champion, sauntering into his prime, with an eye on cementing himself as one of the all-time greats – and he wasn’t shy about saying so.

At a time when other champs are focused more on quick money and fame than they are on proving themselves in the cage again and again, Holloway’s old-school approach felt new again. Headed into the new year, here’s a champion worth getting excited about.

Also see:

Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) celebrates with family after fight against Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Jose Aldo (blue gloves) enters the arena before the fight during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) before the fight against Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) fights Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) fights Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) wife watches the fight against Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) fights Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) fights Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) fights Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) fights Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) fights Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) fights Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) fights Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) fights Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) fights Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) fights Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) fights Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) fights Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) fights Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) fights Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) fights Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) fights Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) fights Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) fights Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) fights Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) fights Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) fights Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) fights Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) fights Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) fights Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) fights Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) fights Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) fights Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) fights Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) celebrates with family after fight against Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) celebrates with family after fight against Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-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/zafjwopo8yyQsrsuvMkt48/295070", customAnalytics: true, title: "Holloway def. Aldo", feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == "undefined") ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();
Filed under: Featured, News, UFC

Video: Before Bellator 192, watch champ Douglas Lima's tourney final with Ben Saunders


Filed under: Bellator, News, Videos

Prior to eventually claiming the Bellator welterweight title, Douglas Lima ended his rematch with Ben Saunders in emphatic fashion.

The bout came at Bellator 100 in 2013 and served as the organization’s Season 8 welterweight-tournament final.

Like their first fight, which left UFC vet Saunders knocked out, Lima ended the rematch with a big blow. It came via head kick following a brutal gut punch. Check it out above.

RelatedInjury-free Bellator champ Douglas Lima wants to prove place at top, knock out Rory MacDonald

And catch reigning 170-pound champ Lima, who’s No. 8 in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA welterweight rankings, back in action on Jan. 20, when he meets challenger Rory MacDonald (19-4 MMA, 1-0 BMMA) in Bellator 192’s headliner.

The fight takes place at The Forum in Inglewood, Calif., and airs on Paramount.

For more on Bellator 192, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

Jun 24, 2017; New York, NY, USA; Douglas Lima (red gloves) fights Lorenz Larkin (blue gloves) during Bellator NYC at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports Jun 24, 2017; New York, NY, USA; Douglas Lima (red gloves) fights Lorenz Larkin (blue gloves) during Bellator NYC at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports Jun 24, 2017; New York, NY, USA; Douglas Lima (red gloves) fights Lorenz Larkin (blue gloves) during Bellator NYC at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports Jun 24, 2017; New York, NY, USA; Douglas Lima (red gloves) fights Lorenz Larkin (blue gloves) during Bellator NYC at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports Jun 24, 2017; New York, NY, USA; Douglas Lima (red gloves) fights Lorenz Larkin (blue gloves) during Bellator NYC at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports Jun 24, 2017; New York, NY, USA; Douglas Lima (red gloves) fights Lorenz Larkin (blue gloves) during Bellator NYC at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports Jun 24, 2017; New York, NY, USA; Douglas Lima (red gloves) reacts to fight against Lorenz Larkin (blue gloves) during Bellator NYC at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports Jun 24, 2017; New York, NY, USA; Douglas Lima (red gloves) fights Lorenz Larkin (blue gloves) during Bellator NYC at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports Jun 24, 2017; New York, NY, USA; Douglas Lima (red gloves) fights Lorenz Larkin (blue gloves) during Bellator NYC at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports Jun 24, 2017; New York, NY, USA; Douglas Lima (red gloves) fights Lorenz Larkin (blue gloves) during Bellator NYC at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports Jun 24, 2017; New York, NY, USA; Douglas Lima (red gloves) fights Lorenz Larkin (blue gloves) during Bellator NYC at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports Jun 24, 2017; New York, NY, USA; Douglas Lima (red gloves) fights Lorenz Larkin (blue gloves) during Bellator NYC at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports Jun 24, 2017; New York, NY, USA; Douglas Lima (red gloves) fights Lorenz Larkin (blue gloves) during Bellator NYC at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports Jun 24, 2017; New York, NY, USA; Douglas Lima (red gloves) fights Lorenz Larkin (blue gloves) during Bellator NYC at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports Jun 24, 2017; New York, NY, USA; Douglas Lima (red gloves) fights Lorenz Larkin (blue gloves) during Bellator NYC at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports Jun 24, 2017; New York, NY, USA; Douglas Lima (red gloves) fights Lorenz Larkin (blue gloves) during Bellator NYC at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports Jun 24, 2017; New York, NY, USA; Douglas Lima (red gloves) fights Lorenz Larkin (blue gloves) during Bellator NYC at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports Jun 24, 2017; New York, NY, USA; Douglas Lima (red gloves) fights Lorenz Larkin (blue gloves) during Bellator NYC at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports Jun 24, 2017; New York, NY, USA; Douglas Lima (red gloves) fights Lorenz Larkin (blue gloves) during Bellator NYC at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-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/txAFjL5j8ejttquxHnMu8Y/295067", customAnalytics: true, title: "Lima def. Larkin", feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == "undefined") ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();
Filed under: Bellator, News, Videos

Ex-NFL player: How Conor McGregor can flex collective bargaining power

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Filed under: News, Radio Highlight, UFC

A.J. Hawk remembers the introduction to his sixth season in the NFL: closed doors.

Hawk, a linebacker, was fresh off a win at Super Bowl XLV with the Green Bay Packers. Competitively, he was at his peak. But when negotiations on a new collective bargaining agreement failed, team owners initiated a lockout and shut out the players.

Four months and a few court battles later, he and his teammates went back to work. The NFL Players Association (NFLPA) had won additional concessions from team owners, including increased minimum salaries and additional medical benefits. The owners also won concessions.

It wasn’t the most comfortable time in Hawk’s career, but he can’t imagine what his career would’ve been like without the NFLPA at the bargaining table.

RelatedWe're still arguing about Mayweather-McGregor PPV sales nearly five months later? Why?

“Having the NFLPA is huge,” he told MMAjunkie Radio. “I don’t know how the NFL would be without the union.”

Hawk retired one year ago after 11 seasons and turned his attention to media work, joining Sirius XM as a college football analyst. He also took a shine to MMA.

Hawk would never consider himself a technical expert on in-cage action, but he knows firsthand the benefits of participating in a unionized sport. And while MMA lends itself far more easily to the formation of an association over a union, which organizes employees, he believes it would make a huge difference in fighters’ lives.

“It would really help them out to have a collective bargaining agreement, where they could come together and you had someone to back you when you’re fighting a suspension, or you’re fighting for more pay from Reebok,” he said. “You want a bigger piece of the pie.”

RelatedJohn Kavanagh: Conor McGregor making decision on what makes sense for next move

A voice at the table might have helped fighters negotiate a bigger increase in sponsorship pay from the UFC’s official apparel maker, which the promotion restructured to give $3,500 to fighters with one to three fights, while those with four or five get $5,000.

Hawk has immense respect for MMA fighters and wants them to get what they deserve. At the same time, he’s watched MMA long enough to know the difficulties inherent to organizing a global sport with a disparate group of athletes.

At the present moment, he sees only one fighter who could be the catalyst for collective bargaining: Conor McGregor.

“If (the fighters) want to realize what kind of power they have – it would be absurd to think they could do it – but let’s say Conor gets booked on a fight,” Hawk said. “He’s headlining. If they shut down the fight – if Conor goes about his business, and all of a sudden, the day of, he says, ‘No, we’re not fighting unless we get these terms, and we’re going to come together, (and) this card does not happen tonight,’ – if it was for a card like that and you shut down a whole card.

“I just don’t know how you get all the fighters to come together, because you’re asking people to sit out fights and not get paid, possibly, for the greater good of the future of the sport. It’s just really tough to get everyone on the same page.”

RelatedWant Conor McGregor back? UFC champ says it will take begging, calls Nurmagomedov dog (expletive)

So far, only few have. Efforts to organize fighters – via the Mixed Martial Arts Fighters Association (MMAFA), The Professional Fighters Association (PFA), and the Mixed Martial Arts Athletes Association (MMAAA) – haven’t been able to build a groundswell of support among UFC or Bellator fighters.

McGregor, for his part, has voiced his support for some sort of organization, seeing the need to protect younger fighters in the sport. But he’s also blasted recent efforts like the MMAAA, which at one time boasted now-former champ Georges St-Pierre (26-2 MMA, 20-2 UFC), current bantamweight champ T.J. Dillashaw (15-3 MMA, 11-3 UFC), and perennial contender Donald Cerrone (32-10 MMA, 19-7 UFC) – as ham-handed and insincere.

“There needs to be something – I just don’t know what it is, McGregor said. “I’m focusing on me. I’m focusing on my family’s security, my family’s financial security. That’s all I can do. So I when I saw that, I just thought it was the biggest, fakest load of (expletive) I’ve ever seen in my life.”

RelatedIt's a new year, and the next phase of the Conor McGregor saga is just beginning

McGregor (21-3 MMA, 9-1 UFC) reportedly is taking active steps to protect his cash flow if and when he returns to the UFC. The Irish champ, who banked over $100 million to box Floyd Mayweather, wants to be the sole pay-per-view earner on a UFC fight card, according to UFC welterweight champ Tyron Woodley (18-3-1 MMA, 8-2-1 UFC).

Woodley, like many UFC fighters with a direct stake in an event’s success, pines for an opponent that could bring a huge payday. For those who haven’t quite gotten to his level, the best way to earn a bigger piece of the pie is to continue winning at all costs.

Whether a fighter is a newcomer or champion, though, victory remains the most effective negotiating tool.

MMAjunkie Radio broadcasts Monday-Friday at 1 p.m. ET (10 a.m. PT) live from Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino’s Race & Sports Book. The show is hosted by “Gorgeous” George Garcia, Brian “Goze” Garcia and Dan Tom. For more information or to download past episodes, go to www.mmajunkie.com/radio.

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Filed under: News, Radio Highlight, UFC

ATT head coach: Amanda Nunes vs. Cris Cyborg '1,000 percent' going to happen

Jul 9, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Amanda Nunes (blue gloves) reacts after defeating Miesha Tate (red gloves) during UFC 200 at T-Mobile Arena. Nunez won by rear naked choke. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports Jul 9, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Amanda Nunes (blue gloves) punches Miesha Tate (red gloves) during UFC 200 at T-Mobile Arena. Nunez won by rear naked choke. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports Jul 9, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Amanda Nunes (blue gloves) punches Miesha Tate (red gloves) during UFC 200 at T-Mobile Arena. Nunez won by rear naked choke. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports Jul 9, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Amanda Nunes (blue gloves) reacts after defeating Miesha Tate (red gloves) during UFC 200 at T-Mobile Arena. Nunez won by rear naked choke. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports Jul 9, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Amanda Nunes (blue gloves) reacts after defeating Miesha Tate (red gloves) during UFC 200 at T-Mobile Arena. Nunez won by rear naked choke. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports March 5, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Amanda Nunes is declared the winner by decision against Valentina Shevchenko during UFC 196 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports March 5, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Valentina Shevchenko and Amanda Nunes react following their match during UFC 196 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports March 5, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Amanda Nunes lands punches against Valentina Shevchenko during UFC 196 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports March 5, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Amanda Nunes lands punches against Valentina Shevchenko during UFC 196 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports March 5, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Amanda Nunes fights against Valentina Shevchenko during UFC 196 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports March 5, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Amanda Nunes reacts during the match against Valentina Shevchenko during UFC 196 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports Aug 9, 2015; Nashville, TN, USA; Amanda Nunes speaks during a press conference after UFC Fight Night at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Lindsey-USA TODAY Sports Aug 8, 2015; Nashville, TN, USA; Amanda Nunes (blue gloves) reacts to defeating Sara McMann (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Lindsey-USA TODAY Sports Aug 8, 2015; Nashville, TN, USA; Amanda Nunes (blue gloves) reacts to defeating Sara McMann (red gloves) (not pictured) during UFC Fight Night at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Lindsey-USA TODAY Sports Aug 8, 2015; Nashville, TN, USA; Amanda Nunes (blue gloves) reacts to defeating Sara McMann (not pictured) during UFC Fight Night at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Lindsey-USA TODAY Sports Aug 8, 2015; Nashville, TN, USA; Sara McMann (red gloves) fights against Amanda Nunes (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Lindsey-USA TODAY Sports Aug 8, 2015; Nashville, TN, USA; Sara McMann (red gloves) fights against Amanda Nunes (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Lindsey-USA TODAY Sports Aug 8, 2015; Nashville, TN, USA; Sara McMann (red gloves) fights against Amanda Nunes (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Lindsey-USA TODAY Sports Aug 8, 2015; Nashville, TN, USA; Sara McMann (red gloves) fights against Amanda Nunes (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Lindsey-USA TODAY Sports Aug 7, 2015; Nashville, TN, USA; Amanda Nunes during weigh ins for UFC Fight Night at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Lindsey-USA TODAY Sports Mar 21, 2015; Rio de Janeiro, RJ, BRAZIL; Amanda Nunes (red gloves) reacts after defeating Shayna Baszler (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Ginasio do Maracanazinho. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports Mar 21, 2015; Rio de Janeiro, RJ, BRAZIL; Amanda Nunes (red gloves) reacts after defeating Shayna Baszler (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Ginasio do Maracanazinho. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports Mar 21, 2015; Rio de Janeiro, RJ, BRAZIL; Amanda Nunes (red gloves) reacts after defeating Shayna Baszler (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Ginasio do Maracanazinho. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports Mar 21, 2015; Rio de Janeiro, RJ, BRAZIL; Amanda Nunes (red gloves) vs. Shayna Baszler (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Ginasio do Maracanazinho. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports Mar 21, 2015; Rio de Janeiro, RJ, BRAZIL; Amanda Nunes (red gloves) before her fight against Shayna Baszler (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Ginasio do Maracanazinho. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-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/qUvibWG9n9Vcm9fuXKwCdQ/295122", customAnalytics: true, title: "Amanda Nunes", feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == "undefined") ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();

It might be the new marketing catchphrase for a UFC women’s champion vs. champion fight: “Leave your mark on history.”

Amanda Nunes’ longtime coach is pushing it as he stumps for a matchup between the UFC women’s bantamweight champ and featherweight champ Cris Cyborg.

“People want to see it,” American Top Team head coach Conan Silveira told MMAjunkie. “I think they have the best opportunity to leave their marks on history.”

Silveira backs Nunes (15-4 MMA, 8-1 UFC), who this past week rolled out the tagline on Twitter as she argued her desire to face Cyborg (18-1 MMA, 3-0 UFC) isn’t personal, but about legacy.

RelatedTrading Shots: How do you solve a problem like Cris Cyborg?

Nunes previously has waffled on the subject. After starching ex-champ Ronda Rousey, she talked up a meeting with Cyborg. Then, she seemed to backtrack in favor of defending her belt. After a rematch win over Valentina Shevchenko, she shifted again to favor a conquest at featherweight.

UFC President Dana White is on record saying Cyborg vs. Nunes is the “fight to make.” But Cyborg appears to need convincing.

In an extended blog post written on her personal website, the women’s featherweight champ argued she needs to face legitimate featherweight contenders rather than bulked-up bantamweights. She hopes to face Invicta FC champ Megan Anderson for her next title defense.

Nunes, Cyborg wrote, can work her way into contention like other potential challengers.

RelatedAmanda Nunes: Cris Cyborg and I should fight to 'leave our marks on the sport'

Nunes used to fight at 145 pounds, but dropped to 135 pounds in pursuit of UFC gold, which she won in 2016 with a beatdown of the now-retired Miesha Tate. Silveira doesn’t think his charge will be at a disadvantage over weight.

“I believe for the weight division, Amanda is going to be extremely well-prepared,” he said. “She’s not going to have to make the weight. She’s probably going to be strong in that division. I do believe the compensation (for) the strength that comes from Cyborg definitely will be the tools that Amanda has on her side.

“I think it’s the perfect fight. It’s a perfect match. It’s a champions fight – it’s something we don’t see happen often.”

The timeline and location of the bout also doesn’t matter to Silveira. It could take place in the fighters’ home country of Brazil, or in Las Vegas. The most important thing is that it happens. On that, he’s certain it eventually will.

RelatedCris Cyborg isn't making UFC's job easy when it comes to women's featherweight title; should she?

“I think it’s not 100 percent, but 1,000 percent going to happen,” Silveira said. “I think it’s something everybody wants to see, even the ones that think they’re going to lose something. I just think it’s a champions fight. I think they need to have that fight. It’s a big push for MMA in general, females and males. People want to see it. I think they have the best opportunity to leave their marks on history.

“I believe that when you fight and you get to be a contender, it’s really hard. When you win and you become a champion, it’s even harder than that. But when you have a chance to leave your name in history, I think you have to do it. It’s something that’s good for everybody. If Cyborg was an American Top Team fighter, yeah, it really doesn’t make any sense. But still, I think the chance of what’s going to come from the fight is something only a few people have to do in life.”

For more on the UFC’s upcoming schedule, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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Filed under: Featured, News, UFC

Mike Perry, Max Griffin announce UFC on FOX 28 matchup

Mike Perry officially is on the comeback trail after a high-profile setback last month.

Perry (11-2 MMA, 4-2 UFC) today confirmed his next octagon appearance, which will take place against Max Griffin (13-4 MMA, 1-2 UFC) at UFC on FOX 28.

Both fighters confirmed the booking on social media. A request for confirmation from the UFC wasn’t immediately returned.

Via Instagram:

Leggo!!! The day has finally come. Me vs @platinummikeperry in Orlando on @ufconfox. Fireworks are promised yo! #marinobleskickboxing #mmagold #britomma #carnagebjj #coachdoug #grunderwrestling #ufc #ufcorlando

Via Instagram:

Pumped to fight here in #Orlando where I live ! @maxpainmma is trying to bring the pain in my city ! We about the #PlatinumParties here in the O ! Welcome this man into Our City and I will set #FireWorks off inside the @amwaycenter @ufc February 24th ! #PlatinumToTheMax #PlatinumPain#PlatinumCity #PlatwayArena #PlatTown#BeAllPlatICouldBe #UFC #MMA

UFC on FOX 28 takes place Feb. 24 at Amway Center in Orlando, Fla. While the bout’s order has not been confirmed, Perry’s highlight-reel pedigree makes him a shoo-in for the FOX-televised main card, which follows prelim fights on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass.

Orlando resident Perry’s loss snapped a two-fight knockout streak that put him on the cusp of a marquee fight with the undefeated Darren Till (16-0-1 MMA, 4-0-1 UFC), who jawed with him following a win over Donald Cerrone at UFC Fight Night 118. Both Perry and Till seemed content to make the fight happen in spite of the roadblock, but UFC matchmakers had other plans.

Griffin also is on the mend following a “Fight of the Night” loss to Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos at UFC Fight Night 119. Now 1-2 in the octagon, Griffin gets a chance to bounce back in style.

The latest UFC on FOX 28 card now includes:

  • David Branch vs. Yoel Romero
  • Jessica Andrade vs. Tecia Torres
  • Max Griffin vs. Mike Perry
  • Jake Collier vs. Marcin Prachnio
  • Olivier Aubin-Mercier vs. Gilbert Burns
  • Alan Jouban vs. Ben Saunders
  • Gadzhimurad Antigulov vs. Aleksandar Rakic
  • Yana Kunitskaya vs. Sara McMann

For more on UFC on FOX 28, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

Apr 22, 2017; Nashville, TN, USA; Mike Perry (blue gloves) defeats Jake Ellenberger during UFC Fight Night at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports Apr 22, 2017; Nashville, TN, USA; Mike Perry (blue gloves) fights Jake Ellenberger (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports Apr 22, 2017; Nashville, TN, USA; Mike Perry (blue gloves) fights) Jake Ellenberger during UFC Fight Night at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports Apr 22, 2017; Nashville, TN, USA; Mike Perry (blue gloves) defeats Jake Ellenberger during UFC Fight Night at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports December 17, 2016; Sacramento, CA, USA; Alan Jouban (red gloves) fights Mike Perry (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Golden 1 Center. Jouban defeated Perry via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27). Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports December 17, 2016; Sacramento, CA, USA; Alan Jouban (red gloves) fights Mike Perry (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Golden 1 Center. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports December 17, 2016; Sacramento, CA, USA; Alan Jouban (red gloves) fights Mike Perry (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Golden 1 Center. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports December 17, 2016; Sacramento, CA, USA; Alan Jouban (red gloves) fights Mike Perry (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Golden 1 Center. Jouban defeated Perry via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27). Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports December 17, 2016; Sacramento, CA, USA; Alan Jouban (red gloves) fights Mike Perry (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Golden 1 Center. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports Oct 8, 2016; Manchester, UK; Danny Roberts (red gloves) fights against Mike Perry (blue gloves) during UFC 204 at Manchester Arena. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Oct 8, 2016; Manchester, UK; Danny Roberts (red gloves) fights against Mike Perry (blue gloves) during UFC 204 at Manchester Arena. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Oct 8, 2016; Manchester, UK; Danny Roberts (red gloves) fights against Mike Perry (blue gloves) during UFC 204 at Manchester Arena. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Oct 8, 2016; Manchester, UK; Mike Perry (blue gloves) celebrates his victory over Danny Roberts during UFC 204 at Manchester Arena. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Aug 20, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Hyun Gyu Lim (red gloves) competes against Mike Perry (blue gloves) during UFC 202 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports Aug 20, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Mike Perry (blue gloves) reacts after fight against Hyun Gyu Lim (red gloves) during UFC 202 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Dahl-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/hGuZAhEQJkZccmcuvLLtnS/295182", customAnalytics: true, title: "Mike Perry", feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == "undefined") ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();
Filed under: News, UFC

Max Holloway set to defend title vs. Frankie Edgar at UFC 222

Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) celebrates with family after fight against Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Jose Aldo (blue gloves) enters the arena before the fight during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) before the fight against Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) fights Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) fights Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) wife watches the fight against Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) fights Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) fights Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) fights Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) fights Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) fights Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) fights Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) fights Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) fights Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) fights Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) fights Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) fights Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) fights Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) fights Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) fights Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) fights Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) fights Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) fights Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) fights Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) fights Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) fights Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) fights Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) fights Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) fights Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) fights Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) fights Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) fights Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) fights Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) fights Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) celebrates with family after fight against Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) celebrates with family after fight against Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-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/zafjwopo8yyQsrsuvMkt48/295180", customAnalytics: true, title: "Holloway def. Aldo", feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == "undefined") ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();

Max Holloway’s UFC featherweight title reign will continue against the man it originally was supposed to start against.

Holloway (19-3 MMA, 15-3 UFC) has been booked to defend his belt vs. Frankie Edgar (22-5-1 MMA, 16-5-1 UFC) at UFC 222, a person with knowledge of the situation told MMAjunkie. The UFC later made it official with an announcement on Twitter.

#UFC222 has a main event! And we have all of the fights you need to watch to get ready!@BlessedMMA vs @FrankieEdgar!https://t.co/a1PwOGWIDy pic.twitter.com/kQEm5uIjwj

— UFC Fight Pass (@UFCFightPass) January 9, 2018

UFC 222 takes place March 3 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The event airs on pay-per-view following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass.

The booking comes as little surprise, with both fighters still expressing interest in one another after a previous booking fell through. Edgar told MMAjunkie last month that he was hoping to fight Holloway in March.

RelatedUFC champ Max Holloway wants to 'make everyone believe the hype' with multiple title defenses in 2018

Holloway, No. 1 in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA featherweight rankings, and No. 3 Edgar originally were set to meet at UFC 218 last month in Detroit until Edgar was forced to withdraw roughly four weeks out because of a broken orbital suffered during training camp. Jose Aldo (26-4 MMA, 8-3 UFC) took Edgar’s place to rematch Holloway, who won by third-round TKO over the ex-champion for the second time.

Holloway, 26, will look for his second successful title defense as he also aims to extend his career-high winning streak to 13 fights. He hasn’t suffered a loss since August 2013, a unanimous decision to current lightweight champion Conor McGregor.

Holloway, who was named 2017 “Fighter of the Year” by the UFC, is just the fifth fighter in the promotion’s history to tally at least a 12-fight winning streak. The most dominant 145-pounder in the UFC, Holloway has won 11 straight in the division, which is the longest active streak. His nine stoppage wins in UFC featherweight competition are the most in divisional history. Has also has the most overall wins in the division’s history with 14.

RelatedUFC champ Max Holloway impressed with new contenders Brian Ortega, Josh Emmett

Edgar, meanwhile, will enter the fight on the strength of back-to-back wins over Jeremy Stephens and Yair Rodriguez. In his most recent bout at UFC 211 last May, Edgar dominated Rodriguez for a TKO win via doctor stoppage. With a win, Edgar would become the fifth fighter in UFC history to claim titles in two different divisions.

Edgar held the UFC lightweight title for nearly two years from April 2010, winning a decision over B.J. Penn, until February 2012, when he lost the belt to Benson Henderson via unanimous decision. Edgar failed to reclaim the title in their immediate rematch. Since moving down to 145 pounds, Edgar has lost two featherweight title fights, both to Aldo. His last loss came against Aldo at UFC 200 in July 2016 for the interim title.

With the addition, the UFC 222 card includes:

  • Champ Max Holloway vs. Frankie Edgar – for featherweight title
  • C.B. Dollaway vs. Hector Lombard
  • Sean O’Malley vs. Andre Soukhamthath
  • Andrei Arlovski vs. Stefan Struve
  • Mackenzie Dern vs. Ashley Yoder

For more on UFC 222, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

For more on UFC 222, visit the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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Filed under: Featured, News, UFC

That pre-fight slap? Cris Cyborg doesn't particularly enjoy it, but it serves a purpose

It appears that Cris Cyborg is human after all and, much like the rest of us, doesn’t actually enjoy getting slapped in the face.

Recently, the champ published a video in which coach Jason Parillo does just that before Cyborg’s UFC 219 headliner against Holly Holm. While slaps aren’t an uncommon practice to get MMA fighters pumped before their fights (looking at you, Clay Guida), this one did look particularly – and painfully – well-executed.

But hey, there’s something to be said for tradition. (via Instagram)

Speaking to Brazil’s Combate.com and SporTV channel, Cyborg explained that this has been a common pre-fight practice in the almost seven years she’s been working with the coach. It’s intended to make sure that she’s in the moment and, as she jokingly said in her Instagram caption, that “her spirit hasn’t escaped.”

Clearly, Cyborg (18-1 MMA, 3-0 UFC) takes them like a champ. But she admitted that her immediate reaction is pretty much in line with the one that any of the rest of us would have.

Well… the ones of us that wouldn’t storm out of the room sobbing uncontrollably, anyway.

“It’s a slap that I’m not expecting,” Cyborg said. “He’s talking to me and then, out of nowhere, gives me this slap. But he does it to wake me up, to see if I’m really there. We’ve been working together for a while and he always does it.

“It’s not something that I like, actually, at the time it makes me want to punch him in the mouth (laughs). It’s something that’s our own, we always do it and it always helps wake me up.”

Who are we to argue against something that is clearly working? After defending her 145-pound belt with an unanimous decision over Holm on Dec. 30, Cyborg improved her winning streak in MMA to a whopping 19 consecutive official results. Holm was, in fact, the first opponent to take Cyborg the distance since 2008.

Cyborg’s future after her first UFC title defense remains unclear. While UFC president Dana White wants the champ to meet fellow countrywoman and women’s 135-pound champ Amanda Nunes (a wish Nunes shares), Cyborg has expressed her desire to respect the order of the 145-pound division.

For more on the UFC’s schedule, visit the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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


Filed under: Blue Corner, News, UFC

MMAjunkie's best UFC photos from July-August 2017: Fireworks in the 'Fight of the Year'

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Filed under: Featured, News, UFC

2017 was another busy year for the UFC with 39 total events around the globe. MMAjunkie and USA TODAY Sports had a photographer at each of those shows, which featured 457 different fights.

Some of the sport’s most epic and iconic moments are captured through a lens. With another year of octagon action complete, it’s time to look back the best photos from the past 12 months.

The organization put on a total of six events between July and August, including The Ultimate Fighter 25 Finale and UFC 213 in Las Vegas; UFC Fight Night 113 in Glasgow, Scotland; UFC on FOX 25 in Uniondale, N.Y.; UFC 214 in Anaheim, Calif.; and, finally, UFC Fight Night 114 in Mexico City.

USA TODAY Sports Images photographers Kyle Terada, Per Haljestam, Brad Penner, Gary A. Vasquez and Miguel Tovar were on assignment for those events and captured the best moments in and out of the cage.

Check out the full photo gallery for July and August below. Above, don’t miss the best-of-the-best video.

For more of the UFC’s top images from 2017, check out:

For more on the UFC’s upcoming schedule, stay tuned to the UFC Rumors section of the site.

July 7, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Tecia Torres (red gloves) reacts after defeating Juliana Lima (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; Ed Herman (red gloves) fights C.B. Dollaway (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; Marc Diakiese (red gloves) fights Drakkar Klose (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 8, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Belal Muhammad (blue gloves) celebrates after defeating Jordan Mein (not pictured) during UFC 213 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports July 8, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Aleksei Oleinik (blue gloves) celebrates after defeating Travis Browne (red gloves) during UFC 213 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports July 8, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Anthony Pettis (red gloves) fights Jim Miller (blue gloves) during UFC 213 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports July 8, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Fabricio Werdum (red gloves) fights Alistair Overeem (blue gloves) during UFC 213 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports July 8, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Robert Whittaker (blue gloves) celebrates after fighting Yoel Romero (red gloves) during UFC 213 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports Jul 16, 2017; Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom; Leslie Smith (red gloves) fights Amanda Lemos (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at SSE Hydro. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Jul 16, 2017; Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom; Charlie Ward (red gloves) fights Galore Bofando (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at SSE Hydro. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Jul 16, 2017; Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom; Jack Marshman (red gloves) fights Ryan Janes (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at SSE Hydro. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Jul 16, 2017; Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom; Joanne Calderwood (red gloves) fights Cynthia Calvillo (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at SSE Hydro. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Jul 16, 2017; Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom; Gunnar Nelson (red gloves) fights Santiago Ponzinibbio (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at SSE Hydro. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-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; Chris Weidman (red gloves) reacts to fight against Kelvin Gastelum during UFC Fight Night at Nassau Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports July 29, 2017; Anaheim, CA, USA; Drew Dober knocks out Joshua Burkman for the victory during UFC 214 at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports July 29, 2017; Anaheim, CA, USA; Eric Shelton moves in with a knee hit against Jarred Brooks during UFC 214 at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports July 29, 2017; Anaheim, CA, USA; Aljamain Sterling applies a hold against Renan Barao during UFC 214 at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports July 29, 2017; Anaheim, CA, USA; Volkan Oezdemir moves in with a hit against Jimi Manuwa during UFC 214 at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports July 29, 2017; Anaheim, CA, USA; Cris Cyborg is declared the winner by TKO and champion against Tonya Evinger during UFC 214 at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports July 29, 2017; Anaheim, CA, USA; Jon Jones lands punches as Daniel Cormier is pinned to the mat during UFC 214 at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports Aug 5, 2017; Mexico City, Mexico; Jordan Rinaldi (blue gloves) reacts after defeating Alvaro Herrera (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Mexico City Arena. Mandatory Credit: Miguel Tovar-USA TODAY Sports Aug 5, 2017; Mexico City, Mexico; Dustin Ortiz (red gloves) fights against Hector Sandoval (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Mexico City Arena. Mandatory Credit: Miguel Tovar-USA TODAY Sports Aug 5, 2017; Mexico City, Mexico; Rashad Evans (blue gloves) in his fight against Sam Alvey (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Mexico City Arena. Mandatory Credit: Miguel Tovar-USA TODAY Sports Aug 5, 2017; Mexico City, Mexico; Humberto Bandenay (blue gloves) celebrates after knocking out Martin Bravo (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Mexico City Arena. Mandatory Credit: Miguel Tovar-USA TODAY Sports Aug 5, 2017; Mexico City, Mexico; Sergio Pettis (red gloves) fights Brandon Moreno (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Mexico City Arena. Mandatory Credit: Miguel Tovar-USA TODAY Sports Aug 5, 2017; Mexico City, Mexico; Sergio Pettis (red gloves) fights Brandon Moreno (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Mexico City Arena. Mandatory Credit: Miguel Tovar-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/zpUs5yRQFWPZoBJRq3peSV/294984", customAnalytics: true, title: "Best UFC Photos of 2017: July-August", feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == "undefined") ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();
Filed under: Featured, News, UFC

Paul Felder joins Brendan Fitzgerald on call for Sunday's UFC Fight Night 124

UFC lightweight Paul Felder is keeping himself busy outside of the cage, joining Brendan Fitzgerald on the call for Sunday’s UFC Fight Night 124 event.

MMAjunkie today confirmed the plans with FOX Sports officials.

Laura Sanko will also be in St. Louis to add reports and interviews to the FS1 broadcast, while Michael Bisping and Yves Edwards will serve as desk analysts in Los Angeles alongside host Karyn Bryant.

Featuring a featherweight headliner between sluggers Jeremy Stephens and Dooho Choi, UFC Fight Night 124 takes place at Scottrade Center in St. Louis. The night’s four-fight main card and four preliminary bouts air on FS1 following five early prelims on UFC Fight Pass.

Felder (15-3 MMA, 7-3 UFC) is quickly becoming a mainstay on UFC broadcasts, though “The Irish Dragon” is still very much an active fighter, as well, currently boasting a three-fight winning streak in the UFC’s lightweight division after downing Charles Oliveira, Steven Ray and Alessandro Ricci. The Roufusport fighter is 5-1 in his past six appearances, with his lone loss coming to Brazilian powerhouse Francsico Trinaldo.

Fitzgerald represents one of the newest voices in the UFC broadcast booth after making his official debut at this past December’s UFC Fight Night 123 event in Fresno, Calif. That event also featured the Fitzgerald-Felder pairing.

Prior to that card, Fitzgerald previously called fights on UFC Fight Pass for Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series.

The complete lineup for UFC Fight Night 124 includes:

MAIN CARD (FS1, 10 p.m. ET)

  • Jeremy Stephens vs. Dooho Choi
  • Vitor Belfort vs. Uriah Hall
  • Jessica-Rose Clark vs. Paige VanZant
  • Emil Meek vs. Kamaru Usman

PRELIMINARY CARD (FS1, 8 p.m. ET)

  • Darren Elkins vs. Michael Johnson
  • James Krause vs. Alex White
  • Matt Frevola vs. Marco Polo Reyes
  • Thiago Alves vs. Zak Cummings

PRELIMINARY CARD (UFC Fight Pass, 6 p.m. ET)

  • Jessica Eye vs. Kalindra Faria
  • Irene Aldana vs. Talita Bernardo
  • J.J. Aldrich vs. Danielle Taylor
  • Mads Burnell vs. Mike Santiago
  • Kyung Ho Kang vs. Guido Cannetti

For more on UFC Fight Night 124, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

Jul 16, 2017; Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom; Paul Felder (blue gloves) reacts after defeating Stevie Ray (not pictured) during UFC Fight Night at SSE Hydro. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Jul 16, 2017; Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom; Stevie Ray (red gloves) fights Paul Felder (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at SSE Hydro. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Jul 16, 2017; Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom; Paul Felder (blue gloves) reacts after defeating Stevie Ray (not pictured) during UFC Fight Night at SSE Hydro. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Feb 19, 2017; Halifax, NS, Canada; Paul Felder before the start of his fight against Alessandro Ricci (not pictured) during UFC Fight Night at Scotiabank Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports Feb 19, 2017; Halifax, NS, Canada; Paul Felder (red gloves) fights Alessandro Ricci (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Scotiabank Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports Feb 19, 2017; Halifax, NS, Canada; Paul Felder (red gloves) fights Alessandro Ricci (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Scotiabank Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports Feb 19, 2017; Halifax, NS, Canada; Paul Felder (red gloves) fights Alessandro Ricci (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Scotiabank Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports Feb 19, 2017; Halifax, NS, Canada; Paul Felder (red gloves) reacts after defeating Alessandro Ricci (not pictured) during UFC Fight Night at Scotiabank Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports Feb 19, 2017; Halifax, NS, Canada; Paul Felder (red gloves) reacts after defeating Alessandro Ricci (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Scotiabank Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports Sep 24, 2016; Brasilia, Brazil; Francisco Trinaldo (red gloves) competes against Paul Felder (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Nilson Nelson Gymnasium. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports Sep 24, 2016; Brasilia, Brazil; Francisco Trinaldo (red gloves) competes against Paul Felder (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Nilson Nelson Gymnasium. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports Sep 24, 2016; Brasilia, Brazil; Paul Felder (blue gloves) reacts during his fight against Francisco Trinaldo (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Nilson Nelson Gymnasium. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports Sep 24, 2016; Brasilia, Brazil; Francisco Trinaldo (red gloves) competes against Paul Felder (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Nilson Nelson Gymnasium. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports May 29, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Paul Felder (blue gloves) kicks Joshua Burkina (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Mandalay Bay Events Center. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports May 29, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Paul Felder (blue gloves) reacts after win against Joshua Burkman (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Mandalay Bay Events Center. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Dahl-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/ukmiEtmNkTJ2aLSYdjmYRQ/295131", customAnalytics: true, title: "Paul Felder", feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == "undefined") ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();
Filed under: News, UFC

We're still arguing about Mayweather-McGregor PPV sales nearly five months later? Why?

Jul 13, 2017; Brooklyn, NY, USA; during a world tour press conference to promote the upcoming Mayweather vs McGregor boxing fight at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports July 11, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor stare down one another during a world tour press conference to promote the upcoming Mayweather vs McGregor boxing fight at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports July 11, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Conor McGregor reacts during a world tour press conference to promote the upcoming Mayweather vs McGregor boxing fight at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports July 11, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Conor McGregor gestures toward Floyd Mayweather during a world tour press conference to promote the upcoming Mayweather vs McGregor boxing fight at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports July 11, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Conor McGregor speaks as Floyd Mayweather reacts during a world tour press conference to promote the upcoming Mayweather vs McGregor boxing fight at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports July 11, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Floyd Mayweather shadow boxes during a world tour press conference to promote the upcoming Mayweather vs McGregor boxing fight at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports July 11, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Conor McGregor gestures toward Floyd Mayweather during a world tour press conference to promote the upcoming Mayweather vs McGregor boxing fight at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports July 11, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Floyd Mayweather holds up a check while speaking during a world tour press conference to promote the upcoming Mayweather vs McGregor boxing fight at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports July 11, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Conor McGregor reacts toward Floyd Mayweather during a world tour press conference to promote the upcoming Mayweather vs McGregor boxing fight at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports July 11, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor meet face to face following the world tour press conference to promote the upcoming Mayweather vs McGregor boxing fight at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports July 11, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor meet face to face as UFC president Dana White keeps them separated following the world tour press conference to promote the upcoming Mayweather vs McGregor boxing fight at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports July 11, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor meet face to face following the world tour press conference to promote the upcoming Mayweather vs McGregor boxing fight at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports Jul 12, 2017; Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Fans of Conor McGregor cheer during a world tour press conference to promote the upcoming Mayweather vs McGregor boxing fight at Budweiser Stage. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports Jul 12, 2017; Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Fans of Conor McGregor hold up a sign predicting the defeat of Floyd Mayweather (not pictured) during a world tour press conference to promote the upcoming Mayweather vs McGregor boxing fight at Budweiser Stage. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports Jul 12, 2017; Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Rap artist Drake performs before Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor appear during a world tour press conference to promote the upcoming Mayweather vs McGregor boxing fight at Budweiser Stage. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports Jul 12, 2017; Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Conor McGregor dances as he speaks during a world tour press conference to promote the upcoming Mayweather vs McGregor boxing fight at Budweiser Stage. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports Jul 12, 2017; Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor point and stare down each other during a world tour press conference to promote the upcoming Mayweather vs McGregor boxing fight at Budweiser Stage. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports Jul 12, 2017; Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor stare each other down during a world tour press conference to promote the upcoming Mayweather vs McGregor boxing fight at Budweiser Stage. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports Jul 12, 2017; Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor stare each other down as UFC president Dana White intervenes during a world tour press conference to promote the upcoming Mayweather vs McGregor boxing fight at Budweiser Stage. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports Jul 12, 2017; Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Conor McGregor taunts Floyd Mayweather as he speaks during a world tour press conference to promote the upcoming Mayweather vs McGregor boxing fight at Budweiser Stage. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports Jul 12, 2017; Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Conor McGregor draws a reaction from the crowd as he speaks during a world tour press conference to promote the upcoming Mayweather vs McGregor boxing fight at Budweiser Stage. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports Jul 12, 2017; Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Conor McGregor speaks during a world tour press conference to promote the upcoming Mayweather vs McGregor boxing fight at Budweiser Stage. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports Jul 12, 2017; Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Conor McGregor taunts Floyd Mayweather as he speaks during a world tour press conference to promote the upcoming Mayweather vs McGregor boxing fight at Budweiser Stage. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports Jul 12, 2017; Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Conor McGregor sits near UFC president Dana White during a world tour press conference to promote the upcoming Mayweather vs McGregor boxing fight at Budweiser Stage. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports Jul 12, 2017; Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Floyd Mayweather (right) draws a reaction from Conor McGregor as he speaks during a world tour press conference to promote the upcoming Mayweather vs McGregor boxing fight at Budweiser Stage. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports Jul 12, 2017; Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Floyd Mayweather taunts Conor McGregor as he speaks during a world tour press conference to promote the upcoming Mayweather vs McGregor boxing fight at Budweiser Stage. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports Jul 12, 2017; Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Floyd Mayweather poses with an Irish flag during a world tour press conference to promote the upcoming Mayweather vs McGregor boxing fight at Budweiser Stage. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports Jul 12, 2017; Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Conor McGregor reacts as he takes cash from a money bag brought onto the stage by Floyd Mayweather during a world tour press conference to promote the upcoming Mayweather vs McGregor boxing fight at Budweiser Stage. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports Jul 12, 2017; Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Floyd Mayweather taunts Conor McGregor while wearing an Irish flag and Conor McGregor mocks Floyd Mayweather with his money bag during a world tour press conference to promote the upcoming Mayweather vs McGregor boxing fight at Budweiser Stage. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports Jul 12, 2017; Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Conor McGregor throws the Irish flag at Floyd Mayweather as he speaks during a world tour press conference to promote the upcoming Mayweather vs McGregor boxing fight at Budweiser Stage. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports Jul 12, 2017; Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Conor McGregor throws an Irish flag at Floyd Mayweather as he speaks during a world tour press conference to promote the upcoming Mayweather vs McGregor boxing fight at Budweiser Stage. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports Jul 12, 2017; Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor stare each other down during a world tour press conference to promote the upcoming Mayweather vs McGregor boxing fight at Budweiser Stage. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports Jul 13, 2017; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Conor McGregor walks the runway during a world tour press conference to promote the upcoming Mayweather vs McGregor boxing fight at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports Jul 13, 2017; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Conor McGregor during a world tour press conference to promote the upcoming Mayweather vs McGregor boxing fight at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports Jul 13, 2017; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Floyd Mayweather enters Barclay Canter during a world tour press conference to promote the upcoming Mayweather vs McGregor boxing fight at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports Jul 13, 2017; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Conor McGregor during a world tour press conference to promote the upcoming Mayweather vs McGregor boxing fight at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports Jul 13, 2017; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor during a world tour press conference to promote the upcoming Mayweather vs McGregor boxing fight at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports Jul 13, 2017; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Conor McGregor during a world tour press conference to promote the upcoming Mayweather vs McGregor boxing fight at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports Jul 13, 2017; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Conor McGregor during a world tour press conference to promote the upcoming Mayweather vs McGregor boxing fight at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports Jul 13, 2017; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Floyd Mayweather throws money at Conor McGregor during a world tour press conference to promote the upcoming Mayweather vs McGregor boxing fight at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports Jul 13, 2017; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Floyd Mayweather throws money at Conor McGregor during a world tour press conference to promote the upcoming Mayweather vs McGregor boxing fight at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports Jul 13, 2017; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor during a world tour press conference to promote the upcoming Mayweather vs McGregor boxing fight at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports Jul 13, 2017; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor during a world tour press conference to promote the upcoming Mayweather vs McGregor boxing fight at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports Jul 13, 2017; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor during a world tour press conference to promote the upcoming Mayweather vs McGregor boxing fight at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports Jul 14, 2017; London, United Kingdom; Conor McGregor enters the ring during a world tour press conference to promote the upcoming Mayweather vs McGregor boxing fight at SSE Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Flynn-USA TODAY Sports Jul 14, 2017; London, United Kingdom; Conor McGregor and Floyd Mayweather face off during a world tour press conference to promote the upcoming Mayweather vs McGregor boxing fight at SSE Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Flynn-USA TODAY Sports Jul 14, 2017; London, United Kingdom; Dana White steps in as Conor McGregor and Floyd Mayweather face off during a world tour press conference to promote the upcoming Mayweather vs McGregor boxing fight at SSE Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Flynn-USA TODAY Sports Jul 14, 2017; London, United Kingdom; Conor McGregor reacts to Floyd Mayweather during a world tour press conference to promote the upcoming Mayweather vs McGregor boxing fight at SSE Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Flynn-USA TODAY Sports Jul 14, 2017; London, United Kingdom; Conor McGregor addresses the crowd during a world tour press conference to promote the upcoming Mayweather vs McGregor boxing fight at SSE Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Flynn-USA TODAY Sports Jul 14, 2017; London, United Kingdom; Floyd Mayweather address the crowd during the press conference to promote the upcoming Mayweather vs McGregor boxing fight at SSE Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Flynn-USA TODAY Sports Jul 14, 2017; London, United Kingdom; Conor McGregor reacts during a world tour press conference to promote the upcoming Mayweather vs McGregor boxing fight at SSE Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Flynn-USA TODAY Sports Jul 14, 2017; London, United Kingdom; Floyd Mayweather during the press conference to promote the upcoming Mayweather vs McGregor boxing fight at SSE Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Flynn-USA TODAY Sports Jul 14, 2017; London, United Kingdom; Floyd Mayweather shouts at Conor McGregor during the press conference to promote the upcoming Mayweather vs McGregor boxing fight at SSE Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Flynn-USA TODAY Sports Jul 14, 2017; London, United Kingdom; Conor McGregor reacts to Floyd Mayweather during a world tour press conference to promote the upcoming Mayweather vs McGregor boxing fight at SSE Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Flynn-USA TODAY Sports Jul 14, 2017; London, United Kingdom; Floyd Mayweather address the crowd during the press conference to promote the upcoming Mayweather vs McGregor boxing fight at SSE Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Flynn-USA TODAY Sports Jul 14, 2017; London, United Kingdom; Floyd Mayweather address the crowd during the press conference to promote the upcoming Mayweather vs McGregor boxing fight at SSE Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Flynn-USA TODAY Sports Jul 14, 2017; London, United Kingdom; Floyd Mayweather address the crowd during the press conference to promote the upcoming Mayweather vs McGregor boxing fight at SSE Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Flynn-USA TODAY Sports Jul 14, 2017; London, United Kingdom; Conor McGregor and Floyd Mayweather face off during a world tour press conference to promote the upcoming Mayweather vs McGregor boxing fight at SSE Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Flynn-USA TODAY Sports Jul 14, 2017; London, United Kingdom; Conor McGregor and Floyd Mayweather face off during a world tour press conference to promote the upcoming Mayweather vs McGregor boxing fight at SSE Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Flynn-USA TODAY Sports Jul 14, 2017; London, United Kingdom; Dana White (hidden) separates Conor McGregor and Floyd Mayweather astray face off during a world tour press conference to promote the upcoming Mayweather vs McGregor boxing fight at SSE Arena. 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Nearly five months after one of the biggest fights in combat sports history we’re still finding ways to argue about it. And by we, I mostly mean some of the principal players involved, the guys who went home with all the money in the end, which is part of what makes this really bizarre.

It started, hilariously enough, with a press release. Last month Showtime put out an official release that pegged sales for the Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor fight at 4.3 million pay-per-view buys in North America. That number, the release noted, “nearly (doubled) the 2.48 million buys for Oscar De La Hoya vs. Mayweather in 2007.”

In other words, it was an incredibly successful fight, at least in commercial terms. But that’s apparently not good enough for UFC President Dana White.

RelatedJohn Kavanagh: Conor McGregor making decision on what makes sense for next move

In an interview with Yahoo! Sports recently, White complained about Showtime – and about boxing promoters in general, who he says do a bad job of promoting their own sport.

“I don’t give a (expletive) about Showtime’s (expletive) full-of-(expletive) press release they put out,” White said. “It’s the biggest fight ever in combat sports history. The thing did over 6.7 million buys, and if the service didn’t drop, we would have got closer to seven million. It was the biggest event ever. It was the biggest boxing event ever, without a boxer. It was only one boxer involved in the fight.”

Espinoza responded on Twitter, putting forth the hypothesis that “telling the truth” is what really got under White’s skin. That was all the invitation that McGregor needed to join the fray, repeating the accusations of weasel-dom that came to typify his interactions with the Showtime crew during the lead-up to the fight.

Shut your weasel mouth. Who gives a fuck about the North American numbers when we are the GLOBAL KINGS you shmuck. WORLDWIDE. No.1! https://t.co/tq5Gj1Os7Y

— Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) January 5, 2018

LOL…except that it wasn't #1 in worldwide revenues either. https://t.co/QXy9CWtKFy

— Stephen Espinoza (@StephenEspinoza) January 5, 2018

It’s a ridiculous argument to have at this point, and a counter-productive one. It smacks of insecurity and fragile egos. Not content to simply be among the best-selling fights of all time, they have to lay claim to the top spot – whether or not the numbers support it.

And arguing about the veracity of those numbers only gets you so far. As Espinoza pointed out in a follow-up interview on SiriusXM, Showtime doesn’t have the UFC’s freedom when it comes to bragging about pay-per-view sales.

“The one thing I’ll point out – I don’t want to get too much into a back-and-forth – but we’re a public company and there are regulations, there are legal requirements,” Espinoza said. “We can’t put out press releases giving fake numbers. We have shareholders. We have millions of shareholders. When we put something on it, when we say, ‘Here’s a Showtime Sports press release from Mayweather-Pacquiao or Mayweather-McGregor,’ that has gone through lawyers and everyone has looked at it. It’s factual.”

In other words, what we’re looking at here is a battle between receipts and just saying stuff.

RelatedIt's a new year, and the next phase of the Conor McGregor saga is just beginning

But why pick a fight over this? And why now? Everyone agrees that the Mayweather-McGregor fight was a huge success. The same Showtime release that White compared to excrement also claimed that the bout generated over $600 million in global revenue. That’s literally more than the GDP of some small island nations. And this is something you want to argue about?

I could understand it if there were actual money at stake. If you thought Showtime was holding out on you, sure, audit the numbers and get every last cent you’re owed. But if it’s just a public perception battle, what’s the point?

White’s word isn’t exactly gold these days, so it’s unlikely that he’s going to convince anyone who doesn’t actively want to be convinced.

McGregor’s army starts out from a place of total acceptance, so they can be won over. But then, he could also tell them that he’s a direct descendant of Hercules and they’d rush to social media to flame anyone who disagreed.

Espinoza is the one who comes off as the level-headed adult in the room, calmly shaking his head at the two guys screaming that they’re the best ever.

If the goal was to draw a striking contrast between how they do things in boxing versus how it’s done in MMA, mission accomplished. If the goal was to come out on the better end of that comparison, yeah, not so much.

For complete coverage of “The Money Fight: Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor,” check out the MMA Events section of the site.

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Filed under: Featured, News, UFC

Francis Ngannou: Stipe Miocic is UFC champ only because I wasn't here yet

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Filed under: Featured, News, UFC, Videos

LAS VEGAS – Francis Ngannou certainly isn’t taking Stipe Miocic lightly, but he also believes the UFC heavyweight champion’s reign might as well have an asterisk.

“You say he’s the champion for a reason, yes, he’s the champion for a reason: He’s the champion because the real champ wasn’t there,” Ngannou told MMAjunkie. “Now the real champ is on the way, and (Miocic) is not going to be the champion as long.”

Miocic (17-2 MMA, 11-2 UFC) and Ngannou (11-1 MMA, 6-0 UFC) meet in the heavily anticipated main event of UFC 220, which takes place Jan. 20 at TD Garden in Boston. Featuring the No. 1 and No. 2 fighters in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA heavyweight rankings, the headliner airs on pay-per-view following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass.

It’s been a meteoric rise for Ngannou, who has finished all six of his UFC opponents to date. He made his debut as an absolute unknown but now appears on the verge of superstardom.

RelatedUFC 220 extended preview: Francis Ngannou 'the scariest man in the history' of MMA?

Ngannou, born in Cameroon and trained in France before a recent move to Las Vegas, said he occasionally takes for granted just how quick he’s made his way to the top.

“Sometimes I feel like it’s normal because even before my UFC debut, I always believed in myself,” Ngannou said. “I always believed even before I started the sport in my life that I can do something really great. That’s probably the reason that I started the sport – because I feel that when you feel something in you and something that you can’t explain, you just have to do it to show people.”

Of course, Miocic isn’t exactly a slouch. The champ boasts his own five-fight knockout streak, and his two career losses have each earned “Fight of the Night” honors in the UFC – a sure testament to his durability.

That said, standing with Ngannou might not be the wisest decision, and Miocic is a former NCAA Division I collegiate wrestler. Still, “The Predator” is confident that he’s capable of dealing with any potential grappling attack. After all, it’s not as if other foes haven’t entered with the same strategy.

RelatedFrancis Ngannou laughs off tweet from Stipe Miocic declaring himself UFC 220 winner

“Of course he’s a good wrestler, but my little technique, plus my power, I can stop it anywhere I want, when I want,” Ngannou said. “Every single thing that he will try, I will stop it. I will put my trap everywhere, so he might bring himself in the trap, and I will just close the trap.”

Should Ngannou ascend to the throne, he could prove a very valuable commodity to the UFC. He happily represents his home nation of Cameroon, as well as all of Africa, the only viable continent in which the UFC has yet to hold an event. Additionally, Ngannou has ties to France, where the promotion is still helping the battle to legalize the sport.

But more than all of that, Ngannou has the potential to be a global superstar (note his previously announced partnership with BodyArmor, the UFC’s official sports drink), a walking embodiment of the label “Baddest Man on the Planet.” For those reasons alone, this fight could mean wonders for Ngannou, but he’s not looking at the contest as the top of the mountain.

“It’s something very important – you can’t say that this means nothing,” Ngannou said. “It’s very important, but does this mean anything? No, this is jut one step. Everything that I did or I’m doing is just one step of what I’m going to do.

“I’m not just looking to beat Stipe and be the champion and be complete. No, I’m looking forward to doing something really (special). I don’t know what, but maybe something that someone has never done.”

For more on UFC 220, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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'Bang' Ludwig: Demetrious Johnson vs. T.J. Dillashaw 'has to happen for the history books'

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LAS VEGAS – Will a superfight between UFC champs Demetrious Johnson and T.J. Dillashaw ever happen? Dillashaw’s coach says it damn well better.

“Just as a martial artist and a fan of the sport, too, it just has to happen for the history books,” Duane Ludwig told MMAjunkie while in Las Vegas to coach at his Bang Muay Thai affiliate school, Xtreme Couture.

UFC flyweight champ Johnson (27-2-1 MMA, 13-1-1 UFC) and bantamweight champ Dillashaw (15-3 MMA, 11-3 UFC) have gone back and forth in the media about the possibility of the contest. Despite the athletes competing in different divisions, Dillashaw has said he’ll happily cut an additional 10 pounds for the opportunity to take on the man who’s currently No. 1 in the the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA pound-for-pound rankings.

Johnson has previously expressed some hesitation, preferring instead to see Dillashaw make the weight first, perhaps against another opponent, before signing the bottom line. But Ludwig believes “Mighty Mouse” owes the world the opportunity to see the fight.

RelatedUFC champ T.J. Dillashaw: Demetrious Johnson fight biggest option for career

“I don’t care, Demtrious, you know you’re the best at your weight class right now, but you’re not fighting the top guys,” Ludwig said. “Demetrious as at an A-plus level, right? The guys that he’s fighting, no disrespect, but the guys that he’s fighting are at a B-plus level. They’re not on his level, but that’s why he’s the champ, right?

“T.J. is on the A-plus level at a different weight class. He’ll come down, he’ll make the weight with coach Sam Calavitta just for the evolution of martial arts in general because T.J. is the best martial artist that the planet’s ever had. So is Demetrious, just different weight class, so let’s find a common weight class and find out who’s the true martial artist and put it to the test.”

UFC President Dana White recently indicated he intends to make the bout, and now seems the perfect time with no true No. 1 contender available for the champions in either division.

RelatedDana White: T.J. Dillashaw vs. Demetrious Johnson is happening next

For Ludwig, a former UFC and Strikeforce contender, the opportunity to be part of the contest would be incredible, he says. And with the bout seemingly nearing reality, Ludwig said he’s already breaking down the matchup and believes Dillashaw can be the man to finally end Johnson’s record-setting reign off 11 consecutive UFC title defenses.

“I wouldn’t say I see weaknesses, but I see areas that T.J. can be successful,” Ludwig said. “That’s what I see.

“I understand Demetrious, I feel, well, but he’s always changing and evolving, as well, but so are we, and that’s what we must be doing as human beings and martial artists. But I feel I understand him, and I feel that T.J. can beat him.”

For more on the UFC’s upcoming schedule, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

December 30, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; T.J. Dillashaw is declared the winner by decision against John Lineker during UFC 207 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports December 30, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; T.J. Dillashaw fights against John Lineker during UFC 207 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports December 30, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; John Lineker ends up on T.J. Dillashaw after missing a kick during UFC 207 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports December 30, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; T.J. Dillashaw applies a hold against against John Lineker during UFC 207 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports December 30, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; T.J. Dillashaw throws a punch against John Lineker during UFC 207 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports December 30, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; T.J. Dillashaw throws a punch against John Lineker during UFC 207 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports December 30, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; T.J. Dillashaw reacts following his unanimous decision victory against John Lineker during UFC 207 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports Jul 9, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; TJ Dillashaw (red gloves) reacts after round 2 against Raphael Assuncao during UFC 200 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports Jul 9, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Raphael Assuncao (blue gloves) and TJ Dillashaw (red gloves) fight during UFC 200 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports Jul 9, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Raphael Assuncao (blue gloves) is punched by TJ Dillashaw (red gloves) during UFC 200 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports Jul 9, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Raphael Assuncao (blue gloves) is punched by TJ Dillashaw (red gloves) during UFC 200 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports Jul 9, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Raphael Assuncao (blue gloves) is punched by TJ Dillashaw (red gloves) during UFC 200 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports Jul 9, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Raphael Assuncao (blue gloves) is kicked by TJ Dillashaw (red gloves) during UFC 200 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports Jul 9, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Raphael Assuncao (blue gloves) is punched by TJ Dillashaw (red gloves) during UFC 200 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports Jan 17, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; TJ Dillashaw (red) punches Dominick Cruz (blue) during a world bantamweight championship bout at UFC Fight Night at the TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports Jan 17, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; TJ Dillashaw (red) looks on after his loss to Dominick Cruz (not seen) in a world bantamweight championship bout at UFC Fight Night at the TD Garden. Cruz won after five rounds by split decision. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports Jan 17, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; TJ Dillashaw (red) and his corner walk towards the octagon before a world bantamweight championship bout against Dominick Cruz (not pictured)at UFC Fight Night at the TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports Jul 25, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Renan Barao (blue gloves) fights against TJ Dillashaw (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports Jul 25, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Renan Barao (blue gloves) fights against TJ Dillashaw (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports Jul 25, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Renan Barao (blue gloves) fights against TJ Dillashaw (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-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/fZNRWAv6G7Mus4UDCbmrZA/295028", customAnalytics: true, title: "T.J. Dillashaw", feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == "undefined") ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();
Filed under: Featured, News, UFC, Videos

Watch MMAjunkie Radio here (1 p.m. ET) with Jorge Masvidal and Ray Borg


Filed under: News, UFC, Videos

MMAjunkie Radio kicks off today at 1 p.m. ET (10 a.m. PT) with guests Jorge Masvidal and Ray Borg.

UFC welterweight contender Masvidal is angling for a fight with Michael Bisping or Neil Magny. Former flyweight title challenger Borg meets Brandon Moreno on Feb. 18 at UFC Fight Night 126.

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

MMAjunkie's '2017 Fight of the Year': Debuting champion lives up to hype

With another action-packed year of MMA in the books, MMAjunkie takes a look at the best fights from January to December. Here are the top five and the winner of MMAjunkie’s “Fight of the Year” for 2017.

* * * *

Honorable mentions

5. Jessica Andrade def. Claudia Gadelha UFC Fight Night 117

The crucial matchup of UFC women’s strawweight contenders could result in only one winner, and Jessica Andrade (17-6 MMA, 7-5 UFC) got the job done against Claudia Gadelha (15-3 MMA, 4-3 UFC) in one of the most highly praised female bouts in company history.

In a clash of two fighters looking to get another crack at 115-pound gold, Andrade earned a lopsided unanimous-decision victory over fellow Brazilian Gadelha in a memorable blood-and-guts battle.

4. Darren Elkins def. Mirsad Bektic at UFC 209

After being beaten to a bloody pulp by top featherweight prospect Mirsad Bektic (11-1 MMA, 4-1 UFC), UFC veteran Darren Elkins (23-5 MMA, 13-4 UFC) staged one of the greatest comebacks in recent memory – and perhaps all-time – when he somehow rallied to win by third-round TKO.

Up until the finishing sequence, it was all Bektic as he battered Elkins in brutal fashion. But when the victory seemed in hand, it quickly slipped away. “The Damage” pushed forward late in the fight, caught Bektic with a stunning combination of strikes, including a head kick, and pulled off the miraculous finish, which also was named MMAjunkie’s “2017 Comeback of the Year.”

3. Eddie Alvarez def. Justin Gaethje at UFC 218

It was billed as a can’t-miss firefight to determine the most violent man in the sport. It delivered. Eddie Alvarez (29-5 MMA, 4-2 UFC) and Justin Gaethje (18-1 MMA, 1-1 UFC) battered each other in a brutal striking battle that finally ended when Alvarez laid out by Gaethje’s third-round knee.

Former UFC and Bellator champ Alvarez promised to go toe to toe with previously unbeaten former WSOF titleholder Gaethje. Both men dished out and absorbed plenty of damage in the lightweight contest, but Alvarez finished the job when he loaded up with a massive knee that dropped his opponent and led to the stoppage.

2. Yancy Medeiros def. Alex Oliveira at UFC 218

Yancy Medeiros (15-4 MMA, 6-4 UFC) has a knack for putting on exciting fights, and his lightweight clash with Alex Oliveira (17-5-1 MMA, 7-3 UFC) may have been his best yet. Medeiros broke something in Oliveira – and not just his nose.

Combining for a single-fight UFC record four knockdowns, the pair went toe to toe for a little more than 12 minutes. Both were badly hurt, but once Oliveira winced and wilted, Medeiros was relentless and picked up the third-round TKO win.

* * * *

Winner: Justin Gaethje def. Michael Johnson at TUF 25 Finale

The contempt between Gaethje and Michael Johnson (17-12 MMA, 9-8 UFC) finally came to a head inside the octagon, and it was a sight to behold.

Gaethje overcame being nearly finished twice to storm back for a finish of his own, defeating Johnson via second-round TKO in one of the most memorable UFC debuts in history.

“You cannot break me,” Gaethje said. “I promise you. You better put me to sleep.”

It came close to happening on two occasions during this slugfest. Gaethje was getting the better of some spectacular exchanges for most of the first round, but Johnson connected flush with a right hook that badly wobbled the newcomer. Johnson then went for the finish, but the horn sounded.

Fight of the Year? How about FLIP of the Year! Here's the finish from Gaethje vs. Johnson! #TUF25Finale https://t.co/1PNRtKNowM

— FOX Sports: UFC (@UFCONFOX) July 8, 2017

Both fighters came out swinging again in the second round, and again Johnson landed a right hand that wobbled Gaethje, but it didn’t drop him. Although Johnson failed to finish, he settled in and found holes in Gaethje’s defense, which allowed him to land the better shots.

That is, until Gaethje hit an uppercut in the final 90 seconds that discombobulated Johnson. From there, Gaethje continued to pour it on with more uppercuts, busting up Johnson’s face until a knee signaled the end when “Big” John McCarthy stepped in at the 4:42 mark.

“Where is my equal at?” he asked the crowd after the thrilling performance. “I’m 18-0 with 15 knockouts. Who is my equal? That’s who I want.”

Gaethje ultimately found his equal in Alvarez in his next octagon appearance, but not before putting on another “Fight of the Year” contender.

Also see:

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/295025", customAnalytics: true, title: "Gaethje def. Johnson", feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == "undefined") ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();
Filed under: Featured, News, UFC

MMAjunkie reader predictions: Make your picks for UFC Fight Night 124 in St. Louis

We want your predictions for Sunday’s UFC Fight Night 124 event in St. Louis.

Our staff picks feature includes the consensus picks from MMAjunkie readers. Simply cast your vote for each bout below, and we’ll use the official tallies that are registered by Thursday at midnight ET (9 p.m. PT).

Those MMAjunkie MMA reader consensus picks will be part of the UFC Fight Night 124 staff picks we release Friday ahead of the event. UFC Fight Night 124 takes place at Scottrade Center in St. Louis, and it airs on FS1 following prelims on UFC Fight Pass.

* * * *

Doohoo Choi vs. Jeremy Stephens

Records: Doohoo Choi (14-2 MMA, 3-1 UFC), Jeremy Stephens (26-14 MMA, 13-13 UFC)
Past five: Choi 4-1, Stephens 2-3
Division: Featherweight
Rankings: None
Odds (as of 1/8/18): Choi -170, Stephens +150

Take Our Poll (function(d,c,j){if(!d.getElementById(j)){var pd=d.createElement(c),s;pd.id=j;pd.src='http://s1.wp.com/wp-content/mu-plugins/shortcodes/js/polldaddy-shortcode.js';s=d.getElementsByTagName(c)[0];s.parentNode.insertBefore(pd,s);} else if(typeof jQuery !=='undefined')jQuery(d.body).trigger('pd-script-load');}(document,'script','pd-polldaddy-loader')); Vitor Belfort vs. Uriah Hall

Records: Vitor Belfort (26-13 MMA, 15-10 UFC), Uriah Hall (13-8 MMA, 6-6 UFC)
Past five: Belfort 2-2 (one no-contest), Hall 2-3
Division: Middleweight
Rankings: Belfort honorable mention
Odds (as of 1/8/18): Hall -245, Belfort +175

Take Our Poll (function(d,c,j){if(!d.getElementById(j)){var pd=d.createElement(c),s;pd.id=j;pd.src='http://s1.wp.com/wp-content/mu-plugins/shortcodes/js/polldaddy-shortcode.js';s=d.getElementsByTagName(c)[0];s.parentNode.insertBefore(pd,s);} else if(typeof jQuery !=='undefined')jQuery(d.body).trigger('pd-script-load');}(document,'script','pd-polldaddy-loader')); Jessica-Rose Clark vs. Paige VanZant

Records: Jessica-Rose Clark (8-4 MMA, 1-0 UFC), Paige VanZant (7-3 MMA, 4-2 UFC)
Past five: Clark 3-2, VanZant 3-2
Division: Women’s flyweight
Rankings: n/a
Odds (as of 1/8/18): Clark -150, VanZant +110

Take Our Poll (function(d,c,j){if(!d.getElementById(j)){var pd=d.createElement(c),s;pd.id=j;pd.src='http://s1.wp.com/wp-content/mu-plugins/shortcodes/js/polldaddy-shortcode.js';s=d.getElementsByTagName(c)[0];s.parentNode.insertBefore(pd,s);} else if(typeof jQuery !=='undefined')jQuery(d.body).trigger('pd-script-load');}(document,'script','pd-polldaddy-loader')); Emil Meek vs. Kamaru Usman

Records: Emil Meek (9-2 MMA, 1-0 UFC), Kamaru Usman (11-1 MMA, 6-0 UFC)
Past five: Meek 4-1, Usman 5-0
Division: Welterweight
Rankings: Usman No. 9
Odds (as of 1/8/18): Usman -570, Meek +435

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For more on UFC Fight Night 124, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

Dec 10, 2016; Toronto, ON, CAN; Dooho Choi (blue gloves) reacts to fight with Cub Swanson (red gloves) during UFC 206 at Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports Dec 10, 2016; Toronto, ON, CAN; Cub Swanson (red gloves) fights Dooho Choi (blue gloves) during UFC 206 at Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports Dec 10, 2016; Toronto, ON, CAN; Cub Swanson (red gloves) fights Dooho Choi (blue gloves) during UFC 206 at Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports Dec 10, 2016; Toronto, ON, CAN; Cub Swanson (red gloves) fights Dooho Choi (blue gloves) during UFC 206 at Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports Dec 10, 2016; Toronto, ON, CAN; Cub Swanson (red gloves) fights Dooho Choi (blue gloves) during UFC 206 at Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports Dec 10, 2016; Toronto, ON, CAN; Cub Swanson (red gloves) fights Dooho Choi (blue gloves) during UFC 206 at Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports Dec 10, 2016; Toronto, ON, CAN; Cub Swanson (red gloves) fights Dooho Choi (blue gloves) during UFC 206 at Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports Dec 9, 2016; Toronto, ON, Canada; Dooho Choi during weigh ins for UFC 206 at Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports Nov 28, 2015; Seoul, South Korea; Doo Ho Choi (red gloves) competes against Sam Sicilia (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Olympic Gymnastics Arena. Mandatory Credit: Lili Troncale-USA TODAY Sports Nov 28, 2015; Seoul, South Korea; Doo Ho Choi (red gloves) competes against Sam Sicilia (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Olympic Gymnastics Arena. Mandatory Credit: Lili Troncale-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/3RT4pvEusjLsZmqHT7T3QD/295039", customAnalytics: true, title: "Dooho Choi", feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == "undefined") ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();
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Best Bellator photos from July-August 2017: The infamous 'Air Jordan' logo gash

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Bellator continued to make noise in the MMA world in 2017, putting on a number of high-profile and notable events that captured the attention of fight fans more than ever before.

Although it wasn’t its busiest year in terms of volume of events, Bellator put on arguably more big fights over the past 12 fights than any year prior. Now it’s time to relive some of those moments in picture form.

The flourishing organization had somewhat of a mid-year lull, putting on just two events between July and August of this past year. Bellator 181 took place in Thackerville, Okla., while Bellator 182 went down in in Verona, N.Y.

Naturally, the promotion had a photographer posted cageside for every bout at every event. To see the best snapshots from Bellator’s July and August fight cards, check out the photo gallery above.

For more of Bellator’s best images from 2017:

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


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Trading Shots: How do you solve a problem like Cris Cyborg?

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What should the UFC do with its women’s featherweight champion, and how much should that decision be affected by the desires and demands of the champion herself? That’s the topic of discussion between MMAjunkie columnist Ben Fowlkes and retired UFC and WEC fighter Danny Downes in this week’s Trading Shots.

Fowlkes: This whole Cris Cyborg situation vexes me, Danny. I’m terribly vexed.

First, Cyborg goes out there and beats Holly Holm in her first title defense at UFC 219. Good fight, closer than I expected, but the result was pretty clear. Then UFC President Dana White goes around telling people that Cyborg vs. Amanda Nunes is the fight he “will make” next, and that seems reasonable enough, right? It’s got the whole champion vs. champion thing going for it.

Plus the UFC has not bothered to establish any women’s featherweight rankings, or get any sort of division going there, so it seems like Cyborg vs. a rotating cast of bantamweights is the UFC’s plan.

But Cyborg doesn’t like that plan. She wants a real featherweight contender next. She’d prefer Invicta FC champ Megan Anderson, but if Anderson’s not ready she’ll take (… wait for it …) Pam Sorenson? As the person running Cyborg’s Twitter account told me, “rankings have to matter.” But do they, Danny? I mean, do they really?

The UFC doesn’t seem to think so, especially in Cyborg’s division. It’s not like Sorenson would be high up on the women’s featherweight rankings even if they did exist in the UFC. So what do we really want to see here? And am I the only one to suspect that Cyborg vs. Sorenson is not it?

Downes: Never get involved in a land war in Asia and never discount Pam “Bam” Sorenson. The pride of Blaine, Minn., (checks record) beat Helena Kolesnyk in July to run her professional record to 6-2 and run her current win streak to … one.

OK, it’s probably not fair to dunk on Sorenson, but I can’t say that anyone other than Cyborg wants to see that fight.

On the one hand, I understand why Cyborg’s team would cling to this antiquated notion that “rankings have to matter.” It’s for self-preservation. The division was created for Cyborg, and if the UFC never tries to develop 145-pound bouts, the possibility of dissolving the division increases. The UFC has discussed eliminating men’s flyweight and that division is far deeper than women’s featherweight. With no women’s featherweight division (and the belt that accompanies it), Cyborg’s usefulness and bargaining power diminishes significantly.

Having said that, I (and I assume most fans) have no interest in watching Cyborg be the queen of a developmental league. People may see a resemblance to Ronda Rousey and the creation of the women’s bantamweight division, but those comparisons don’t hold up. Yes, Rousey was crowned champion of a relatively shallow division at the time, but there were still enough viable contenders.

Even as women’s MMA has expanded over the years, a women’s featherweight division hasn’t grown alongside it. Invicta FC had difficulties populating the division with bodies in general, let alone contenders for Cyborg. That situation hasn’t changed much.

It’s an unfortunate set of circumstances for her, but that’s the thread the Fates have weaved. The conditions of the division prove that Cyborg vs. Nunes makes the most sense. Not just in the “money fight” climate of recent years, but in general.

Who would you have Cyborg fight? Can you name another women’s featherweight not named Germaine de Randamie? Doesn’t Cyborg have to play ball here? What possible leverage does she have?

Fowlkes: It seems like we’ve asked that question about her before. Actually, it seems like we’ve asked it at basically every stop along the way in her UFC ascendancy. She keeps planting her feet and making demands. We keep thinking she’s finally pushed it too far. And then usually she gets what she wants. The fact that there’s even a women’s 145-pound title to begin with (remember those 140-pound catchweight fights that the UFC made her do for no reason) is proof of that.

I agree that ain’t nobody trying to pay $60 to see Cyborg vs. Sorenson. I think Cyborg vs. Anderson could generate some interest, but Anderson seems in no hurry to actually make that fight, and even if she were it wouldn’t solve the problem so much as delay it. If there’s no division, there’s no reliable way of establishing contenders. And it seems like the last thing the UFC wants to do is spend time, money, and energy building up this particular weight class, for a lot of very good reasons.

That’s where I get stuck, Danny. I can understand Cyborg’s position on the matter. I can also understand the UFC’s. And if we’re going to applaud people like Darren Till or Nate Diaz for saying rankings don’t matter and titles are fairy tales, how strongly can we support Cyborg for insisting the opposite while the UFC actually tries to get her into fights that people might want to see?

Downes: It’s a mistake to use the current Cyborg situation and use it to make arguments about structural UFC issues. This isn’t about whether or not rankings do/should matter. The champion doesn’t always face the top contender and that’s OK.

The only person who could legitimately make the argument Cyborg is attempting here is Nunes. While there isn’t a wealth of contenders for her, she still has some work to do. If she wanted to clean it out because “rankings matter,” I could respect that. The fact that Nunes wants the fight eliminates the only real objection I’d consider.

You’re correct that Cyborg has had her demands met along the way (although not with the promptness she’d prefer), but you have to think her luck will run out eventually. I return to the point about leverage. Look at it from the UFC’s perspective. What’s the worst-case scenario? Cyborg doesn’t accept the fight and stays on the shelf for an extended period.

As you point out, the UFC didn’t even want a 145-pound division to begin with. So who cares if the belt lies dormant? The UFC gave us Holm vs. de Randamie to spite Cyborg. Stringing her along should be easy.

I don’t think Cyborg is trying to “duck” Nunes. She’s trying to play the long game in a sport that wants the quick payoff. It’s admirable, but she’s misplaying her hand.

She’s beaten every opponent in front of her for over a decade. The only thing she hasn’t been able to do is create viable challengers. Avoiding a fight with Nunes isn’t going to make that any more of a reality. I respect the long hustle, but sometimes you have to take what’s on the table.

For complete coverage of UFC 219, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

Ben Fowlkes is MMAjunkie and USA TODAY’s MMA columnist. Danny Downes, a retired UFC and WEC fighter, is an MMAjunkie contributor who has also written for UFC.com and UFC 360. Follow them on twitter at @benfowlkesMMA and @dannyboydownes.

Dec 30, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Cris Cyborg celebrates her victory by unamimous decision against Holly Holm and her title defense following UFC 219 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports Dec 30, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Cris Cyborg is introduced before fighting against Holly Holm during UFC 219 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports Dec 30, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Holly Holm moves in with a hit as Cris Cyborg defends during UFC 219 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports Dec 30, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Holly Holm moves in with a hit as Cris Cyborg defends during UFC 219 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports Dec 30, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Cris Cyborg lands a hit against Holly Holm during UFC 219 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports Dec 30, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Holly Holm moves in with a kick as Cris Cyborg defends during UFC 219 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports Dec 30, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Cris Cyborg moves in with a hit against Holly Holm during UFC 219 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports Dec 30, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Cris Cyborg defends against Holly Holm during UFC 219 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports Dec 30, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Cris Cyborg moves in with a hit against Holly Holm during UFC 219 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports Dec 30, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Cris Cyborg moves in with a hit against Holly Holm during UFC 219 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports Dec 30, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Holly Holm moves in with a kick as Cris Cyborg defends during UFC 219 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports Dec 30, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Cris Cyborg fights against Holly Holm during UFC 219 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports Dec 30, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Cris Cyborg moves in with a kick as Holly Holm defends during UFC 219 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports Dec 30, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Cris Cyborg lands a hit against Holly Holm during UFC 219 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports Dec 30, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Cris Cyborg lands a hit against Holly Holm during UFC 219 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports Dec 30, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Holly Holm lands a hit against Cris Cyborg during UFC 219 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports Dec 30, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Holly Holm lands a hit against Cris Cyborg during UFC 219 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports Dec 30, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Cris Cyborg celebrates her victory by unamimous decision against Holly Holm and her title defense following UFC 219 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports Dec 30, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Cris Cyborg celebrates her victory by unamimous decision against Holly Holm and her title defense following UFC 219 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports Dec 30, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Cris Cyborg is declared the winner by unanimous decision against Holly Holm and retains her title followng UFC 219 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-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/qPrnZ2GMzKchbr2tKPsHvf/295013", customAnalytics: true, title: "Cyborg def. Holm", feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == "undefined") ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();
Filed under: Featured, News, UFC

MMAjunkie's '2017 Knockout of the Year': A head-rattling heavyweight finish

With another action-packed year of MMA in the books, MMAjunkie takes a look at the best knockouts from January to December. Here are the top four honorable mentions and winner of MMAjunkie’s “Knockout of the Year” award for 2017.

* * * *

Honorable mentions

5. Edson Barboza def. Beneil Dariush at UFC Fight Night 106

Lightweight contender Edson Barboza (19-5 MMA, 13-5 UFC) added another spectacular knockout to his highlight reel in March, this time at the expense of Beneil Dariush (14-3-1 MMA, 8-3-1 UFC).

After being tagged and thrown off rhythm by Dariush’s solid gameplan, Barboza once again displayed his lightning-quick striking ability in the second round. He timed a perfect counter flying knee just as his opponent closed the distance for a takedown, putting Dariush out cold on impact and further added to his legend as a fearsome KO artist.

UNREAL! @EdsonBarbozaJr is a human highlight reel. Flying Knee to the moon landed on Dariush FTW. #UFCFortaleza https://t.co/PNJtzlLvz6

— FOX Sports: UFC (@UFCONFOX) March 12, 2017

4. Alexander Gustafsson def. Glover Teixeira at UFC Fight Night 109

Alexander Gustafsson’s (18-4 MMA, 10-4 UFC) latest main-event showcase in his hometown of Stockholm was easily his most impressive. The two-time UFC title challenger picked apart Glover Teixeira (27-6 MMA, 10-4 UFC) before finishing him off with a vicious knockout in the fifth round.

Gustafsson’s uppercut landed consistently throughout the light heavyweight fight and put Teixeira in trouble on more than one occasion. “The Mauler” tripled up with the attack early in the fifth round, then landed a right hook that downed his Brazilian foe and ended the fight.

3. Tywan Claxton def. Jonny Bonilla-Bowman at Bellator 186

Tywan Claxton (1-0 MMA, 1-0 BMMA) secured the most stellar Bellator knockout the year. His reaction to it was rather simple: “The fight’s over, and I’ve got all of my teeth.”

Claxton blasted fellow featherweight Jonathan Bonilla-Bowman (1-1 MMA, 0-1 BMMA) with a flying knee – one that seemed to glide halfway across the cage – before the knockout video quickly went viral.

2. Matt Brown def. Diego Sanchez at UFC Fight Night 120

It didn’t go as long as some might have hoped, but it delivered everything one might expect, as Matt Brown (21-16 MMA, 14-10 UFC) was almost finished but came back to score a first-round knockout of Diego Sanchez (27-11 MMA, 16-11 UFC).

After being stunned with a kick, “The Immortal” caught Sanchez’s next shot and threw a pinpoint right elbow over the top that landed flush to the head and sent Sanchez crashing to the floor. There would be no need for a follow-up blow after the highlight-reel walk-off.

* * * *

Winner: Francis Ngannou def. Alistair Overeem via punches at UFC 218

Francis Ngannou (11-1 MMA, 6-0 UFC) scored the signature win of his career at UFC 218 against former Strikeforce and DREAM champ Alistair Overeem (43-16 MMA, 8-5 UFC). “The Predator” connected with one of the cleanest shots ever seen in the octagon and laid out Overeem in the first round to earn a heavyweight title shot.

One powerful left hand from Ngannou was all it took, and suddenly Overeem was unconscious on the mat. The brutal one-punch knockout extended Ngannou’s winning streak and dashed Overeem’s title hopes, all in slightly less than two minutes of cage time.

In the bout between two big men known for their striking, it was Overeem who seemed to want to get the fight to the mat. After charging across the cage to start the fight, Overeem tried for a takedown and then initiated a clinch, though it didn’t take long for Ngannou to turn him and force him into the fence as a counter.

But back in the center of the octagon, as Overeem ducked in low with a wide left hook, Ngannou dipped with the blow and came back with a thunderous left uppercut that practically lifted Overeem into the air as it dropped him flat on the mat.

Ngannou would come diving in with an additional right hand hammerfist before referee Dan Miragliotta could stop him, but there was no need, as Overeem was already out cold and the bout halted at the 1:42 mark of the opening round.

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Also see:

Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Ring Girl is seen before the fight between Alistair Overeem and Francis Ngannou during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Alistair Overeem (red gloves) fights Francis Ngannou (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Alistair Overeem (red gloves) fights Francis Ngannou (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Alistair Overeem (red gloves) fights Francis Ngannou (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Francis Ngannou (blue gloves) reacts to fight against Alistair Overeem (red gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Francis Ngannou (blue gloves) reacts to fight against Alistair Overeem (red gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Francis Ngannou (blue gloves) reacts to fight against Alistair Overeem (red gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-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/PVHvwAmcPibVKkBiQxUBCm/294943", customAnalytics: true, title: "Ngannou def. Overeem", feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == "undefined") ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();
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