MMA Junkie News

Gilbert Melendez meets Jeremy Stephens at UFC 215 in Edmonton

The UFC’s debut in Edmonton has a new featherweight fight between a pair of veterans.

Former Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez (22-6 MMA, 1-4 UFC) is set to take on Jeremy Stephens (25-14 MMA, 12-13 UFC) in a 145-pound bout at UFC 215. UFC officials announced the fight today following an initial report from TSN.

UFC 215 takes place Sept. 9 at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. The main card airs on pay-per-view following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass, though the bout order hasn’t been finalized.

It hasn’t been easy sledding for Stephens the past three years. After dropping from lightweight to featherweight in the wake of a three-fight skid, Stephens picked up a trio of wins over Estevan Payan, Rony Jason and Darren Elkins. But since that streak, he’s gone just 2-5.

His losses, though, include a who’s-who of the 145-pound weight class: Cub Swanson, Charles Oliveira, former lightweight champ Frankie Edgar and current featherweight kingpin Max Holloway. And he lost all of those fights by decision. His wins include a TKO of Dennis Bermudez and a decision over former champ Renan Barao, which picked him up a “Fight of the Night” bonus.

Melendez is on hard times of his own, also agains tthe toughest competition of his career. After coming over from Strikeforce as lightweight champion, he got a shot at then-UFC 155-pound champ Benson Henderson, but dropped a split decision in April 2013. After a “Fight of the Night” win over Diego Sanchez later that year, Melendez was on the shelf till another title shot.

After coaching opposite Anthony Pettis on “The Ultimate Fighter,” he was submitted by “Showtime” in their UFC 181 title fight in December 2014. At UFC 188 in June 2015, he dropped a split decision to former Bellator champ and eventual UFC champ Eddie Alvarez. Adding to his woes, he failed a post-fight drug test and was suspended. When he returned about a year ago, he lost a decision to Edson Barboza, giving him four losses in five fights since coming to the UFC on a seven-fight winning streak.

With the addition, the latest UFC 215 lineup includes:

  • Francis Ngannou vs. Junior Dos Santos
  • Ilir Latifi vs. Tyson Pedro
  • Henry Cejudo vs. Wilson Reis
  • Rick Glenn vs. Gavin Tucker
  • Ashlee Evans-Smith vs. Sarah Moras
  • Arjan Bhullar vs. Luis Henrique
  • Gilbert Melendez vs. Jeremy Stephens

For more on UFC 215, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

December 12, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Jeremy Stephens fights against Max Holloway during UFC 194 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports December 12, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Max Holloway lands a punch against Jeremy Stephens during UFC 194 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports December 11, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Jeremy Stephens reacts during weigh-ins for UFC 194 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports Jul 11, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Jeremy Stephens (blue gloves) reacts after knocking out Dennis Bermudez (not pictured) during UFC 189 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Stephens won via third round TKO. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports Jul 11, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Dennis Bermudez (red gloves) is knocked out by Jeremy Stephens (blue gloves) during UFC 189 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Stephens won via third round TKO. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports Jul 11, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Jeremy Stephens (blue gloves) reacts after knocking out Dennis Bermudez (not pictured) during UFC 189 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Stephens won via third round TKO. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports Jul 11, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Dennis Bermudez (red gloves) and Jeremy Stephens (blue gloves) fight during UFC 189 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Stephens won via third round TKO. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports Jul 11, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Dennis Bermudez (red gloves) and Jeremy Stephens (blue gloves) fight during UFC 189 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Stephens won via third round TKO. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports Jul 11, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Dennis Bermudez (not pictured) and Jeremy Stephens (blue gloves) fight during UFC 189 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Stephens won via third round TKO. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports Jul 11, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Dennis Bermudez (not pictured) and Jeremy Stephens (blue gloves) fight during UFC 189 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Stephens won via third round TKO. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports Jul 10, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Jeremy Stephens weighs in for his bout against Dennis Bermudez (not pictured) during weigh-ins for UFC 189 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports Jun 28, 2014; San Antonio, TX, USA; Cub Swanson (red gloves) fights Jeremy Stephens (blue gloves) in a Featherweight bout at UFC Fight Night 43 at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports Jun 28, 2014; San Antonio, TX, USA; Cub Swanson (red gloves) fights Jeremy Stephens (blue gloves) in a Featherweight bout at UFC Fight Night 43 at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports Jun 28, 2014; San Antonio, TX, USA; Cub Swanson (red gloves) fights Jeremy Stephens (blue gloves) in a Featherweight bout at UFC Fight Night 43 at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports Jun 28, 2014; San Antonio, TX, USA; Cub Swanson (red gloves) fights Jeremy Stephens (blue gloves) in a Featherweight bout at UFC Fight Night 43 at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports Jun 28, 2014; San Antonio, TX, USA; Jeremy Stephens prepares for a fight with Cub Swanson (not pictured) in a Featherweight bout at UFC Fight Night 43 at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports Jan 25, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Darren Elkins (red gloves) reacts after beating Jeremy Stephens (not pictured) during UFC on FOX 10 at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports Jun 28, 2014; San Antonio, TX, USA; Jeremy Stephens prepares for a fight with Cub Swanson (not pictured) in a Featherweight bout at UFC Fight Night 43 at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports Jan 25, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Darren Elkins (red gloves) reacts after beating Jeremy Stephens (not pictured) during UFC on FOX 10 at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports Jan 25, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Darren Elkins (red gloves) fights Jeremy Stephens (blue gloves) during UFC on FOX 10 at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports Jan 25, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Darren Elkins (red gloves) fights Jeremy Stephens (blue gloves) during UFC on FOX 10 at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports Jan 25, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Darren Elkins (red gloves) fights Jeremy Stephens (blue gloves) during UFC on FOX 10 at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports Jan 25, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Darren Elkins (red gloves) fights Jeremy Stephens (blue gloves) during UFC on FOX 10 at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports Jan 24, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Darren Elkins (Left) and Jeremy Stephens (Right) after their weigh-in for the UFC on FOX 10 fight, as Dana White looks on at the Chicago Theatre. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports Jan 24, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Jeremy Stephens during his weigh-in for the UFC on FOX 10 fight, at the Chicago Theatre. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-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/6F65TxQywrDSmGmGHUyqUF/256947", customAnalytics: true, title: "Jeremy Stephens", feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == "undefined") ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();
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Ex-UFC champ Anthony Pettis' goal in lightweight return: 'Make people want to watch me fight again'

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For Anthony Pettis, returning to the lightweight division that he once ruled also meant a return to his fundamentals.

Pettis (19-6 MMA, 6-5 UFC) meets Jim Miller (28-9 MMA, 17-8 UFC) at UFC 213 on Saturday looking for recovery. That means not only bouncing back from a recent TKO setback to current featherweight champ Max Holloway, which followed a submission win over grappling expert Charles Oliveira, but a dire 1-4 recent record.

There’s something to be said for the caliber of opponents the former lightweight champ has succumbed to. Other than Holloway, who earned the interim 145-pound belt with their UFC 206 battle, the list holds the likes of ex-champs Eddie Alvarez and Rafael dos Anjos, as well as current 155-pound contender Edson Barboza.

But, regardless, it’s a slump. And it’s one that contrasts starkly with a record that once involved four consecutive finishes over top competitors  – including the armbar that earned him the title over ex-champ Benson Henderson at UFC 164.

Pettis has made changes to break out of his funk. After “almost dying” in a botched cut for his meeting with Holloway, he is done with featherweight. But, more than that, he’s re-shifted his focus toward what made him champ in the first place.

“I honestly went away from the wrestling,” Pettis told MMAjunkie Radio ahead of the pay-per-view lightweight affair, which opens the main card at Las Vegas’ T-Mobile Arena. “I just went and focused on what I was good at: striking. A lot of striking this camp. A lot of jiu-jitsu. I think the wrestling is always there. But I’d just put that in my head, that I had to get better at it, to get better at it.

“I was just too focused on wrestling, and that took away from all the other parts of my game.”

That might seem like an interesting assertion considering that Miller, while notoriously well-rounded, does come from a wrestling background. But the way Pettis sees it, that’s all the more reason to focus on his own strengths on Saturday.

“Wrestling is a big part of the sport,” Pettis said. “But if you look at it, I’m not gonna catch up to this guys. I’m not going to catch up to a Clay Guida in wrestling, and they’re not going to catch up to me in striking. So I’ve got to go out there and make sure that my striking is OK for the fight and not get caught up on the who’s on top and who’s doing the takedowns.”

Other than the obvious – winning – Pettis rose to prominence thanks to a flashy striking style that made for exciting battles. His arsenal, however, would also grow to showcase a slick submission game – which he used both to conquer the lightweight crown and to defend it, against Gilbert Melendez.

But then came the title loss to Dos Anjos. The setbacks to Alvarez and Barboza followed. The slump led to outside questions as to what was at the bottom of Pettis’ decay – had the lifestyle that comes with a UFC belt taken his head out of the game?

To that, Pettis answers with a definitive no. Yes, he wanted to make money with his career; but then again, which fighter doesn’t? Instead, it was something else he says contributed to his downfall.

“The thing that changed me the most was injuries,” Pettis said. “I had a knee surgery coming out of the Ben Henderson fight. I had the year off with ‘The Ultimate Fighter.’ Then they put me in there against Melendez. I won that fight, and then I had to take time off.

“And I fought (Rafael dos Anjos). A lot of injuries I had just sort of slowed my training town. And if you’re not in the gym as much as all these other guys, you’re going to fall behind. And that’s why I feel I fell behind.”

Despite the rough times, Pettis is the kind of fighter who seems to be always at the edge of a resurgence – hence, the interim title shot that followed his comeback win over Oliveira. And who knows what a definitive display over Miller could mean in the UFC’s messy lightweight division.

But, currently avoiding these sorts of speculations, the 30-year-old fighter has a simpler goal in mind.

“I think with (lightweight champ) Conor McGregor doing the Floyd Mayweather fight, it kind of throws the division up,” Pettis said. “So there’s room for guys to change that landscape. But, at this point around, this is my first fight back at 155. I’ve just got to go make a statement. (I’ve) got to make people want to watch me fight again.”

For more on UFC 213, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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 and producer Brian “Goze” Garcia. For more information or to download past episodes, go towww.mmajunkie.com/radio.

Aug 27, 2016; Vancouver, BC, Canada; Charles Oliveira (blue gloves) fights Anthony Pettis (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Rogers Arena. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports Aug 27, 2016; Vancouver, BC, Canada; Anthony Pettis (red gloves) competes against Charles Oliveria (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Rogers Arena. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports Aug 27, 2016; Vancouver, BC, Canada; Anthony Pettis (red gloves) competes against Charles Oliveria (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Rogers Arena. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports Aug 27, 2016; Vancouver, BC, Canada; Anthony Pettis (red gloves) competes against Charles Oliveria (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Rogers Arena. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports Aug 27, 2016; Vancouver, BC, Canada; Anthony Pettis (red gloves) competes against Charles Oliveria (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Rogers Arena. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports Apr 23, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Anthony Pettis (red gloves) competes against Edson Barboza (blue gloves) during UFC 197 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports Apr 23, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Anthony Pettis (red gloves) competes against Edson Barboza (blue gloves) during UFC 197 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports Apr 23, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Anthony Pettis (red gloves) competes against Edson Barboza (blue gloves) during UFC 197 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports Apr 23, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Anthony Pettis (red gloves) competes against Edson Barboza (blue gloves) during UFC 197 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports Apr 23, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Anthony Pettis (red gloves) competes against Edson Barboza (blue gloves) during UFC 197 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports Apr 23, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Anthony Pettis (red gloves) competes against Edson Barboza (blue gloves) during UFC 197 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports Apr 23, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Anthony Pettis (red gloves) greets Edson Barboza (blue gloves) after their fight UFC 197 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports Jan 17, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; Anthony Pettis (red) looks on between rounds of a lightweight bout against Eddie Alvarez (not pictured) at UFC Fight Night at the TD Garden. Alvarez won after three rounds by split decision. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports Jan 17, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; Anthony Pettis (red) kicks Eddie Alvarez (blue) during a lightweight bout at UFC Fight Night at the TD Garden. Alvarez won after three rounds by split decision. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports Jan 17, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; Anthony Pettis (red) kicks Eddie Alvarez (blue) during a lightweight bout at UFC Fight Night at the TD Garden. Alvarez won after three rounds by split decision. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-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/MwQVVnLUrf5h6L5wpshsmY/256829", customAnalytics: true, title: "Anthony Pettis", feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == "undefined") ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();
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TUF 25 Finale official weigh-in video, photos: New 'TUF' winner will be crowned

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LAS VEGAS – The first of back-to-back UFC shows for “International Fight Week” goes down Friday night with the TUF 25 Finale in Las Vegas.

This morning, the fighters on the card stepped on the scale to become official for the event, which takes place at T-Mobile Arena and airs on FS1 following early prelims on UFC Fight Pass.

In the main event, Michael Johnson (17-11 MMA, 9-7 UFC) and Justin Gaethje (17-0 MMA, 0-0 UFC) meet in a lightweight bout. Gaethje is a former WSOF champion who is making his UFC debut. And in the co-feature, Dhiego Lima (12-5 MMA, 1-3 UFC) takes on Jesse Taylor (30-15 MMA, 0-1 UFC) to determine the Season 25 winner of “The Ultimate Fighter.”

Check out our exclusive video from the early and official weigh-ins of the four fighters at the top of the card above, as well as our complete photo gallery below.

And for more on The Ultimate Fighter 25 Finale, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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Filed under: News, Photo Gallery, UFC, Videos

Tecia Torres took short-notice fight at TUF 25 Finale because she didn't want to wait for Michelle Waterson

Feb 4, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Tecia Torres (red gloves) defeats Bec Rawlings (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports Feb 4, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Tecia Torres (red gloves) fights Bec Rawlings (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports Feb 4, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Tecia Torres (red gloves) lands a punch against Bec Rawlings (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports Feb 4, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Tecia Torres (red gloves) fights Bec Rawlings (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports Feb 4, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Tecia Torres (red gloves) fights Bec Rawlings (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports December 12, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Tecia Torres fights against Jocelyn Jones-Lybarger during UFC 194 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports Apr 16, 2016; Tampa, FL, USA; Tecia Torres (blue gloves) fights Rose Namajuanas (red gloves) in the women's straw weight bout (bout 10) during UFC Fight Night at Amalie Arena. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports Apr 16, 2016; Tampa, FL, USA; Tecia Torres (blue gloves) fights Rose Namajuanas (red gloves) in the women's straw weight bout (bout 10) during UFC Fight Night at Amalie Arena. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports Apr 16, 2016; Tampa, FL, USA; Tecia Torres (blue gloves) fights Rose Namajuanas (red gloves) in the women's straw weight bout (bout 10) during UFC Fight Night at Amalie Arena. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports Apr 16, 2016; Tampa, FL, USA; Tecia Torres (blue gloves) fights Rose Namajuanas (red gloves) in the women's straw weight bout (bout 10) during UFC Fight Night at Amalie Arena. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports December 12, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Tecia Torres lands a kick against Jocelyn Jones-Lybarger during UFC 194 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports December 12, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Tecia Torres fights against Jocelyn Jones-Lybarger during UFC 194 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports December 12, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Tecia Torres moves in with a punch against Jocelyn Jones-Lybarger during UFC 194 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports December 12, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Tecia Torres moves in with a punch against Jocelyn Jones-Lybarger during UFC 194 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports December 12, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Tecia Torres is declared the winner by decision against Jocelyn Jones-Lybarger during UFC 194 at MGM Grand Garden 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/zMSmbnSN9KT2B5ADGdCqrJ/256863", customAnalytics: true, title: "Tecia Torres", feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == "undefined") ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();

Impatience may have cost Tecia Torres a signature fight in the UFC strawweight division, but she hopes all will still work out in her favor in the end.

Torres (8-1 MMA, 4-1 UFC), who hasn’t fought since a unanimous decision victory over Bec Rawlings at UFC Fight Night 104 in February, was itching to get back in the octagon as soon as possible. She said a bout with Michelle Waterson was in the works for late summer, but the prospect of waiting wasn’t all that appealing.

So, when it was announced that Amanda Ribas had been pulled from Friday’s Ultimate Fighter 25 Finale bout with Juliana Lima (9-3 MMA, 3-2 UFC) due to a potential USADA violation, Torres pounced on the opportunity to step in, even if it meant jeopardizing a much bigger fight with Waterson (14-5 MMA, 2-1 UFC).

RelatedInside look at Michelle Waterson's ESPN 'Body Issue' photo shoot

“I was waiting for a fight since February because I’ve been wanting to fight,” Torres told MMAjunkie Radio. “I saw Amanda Ribas got pulled from the fight, so I asked for this fight. I was like, ‘Sean Shelby, can I have that fight, please?’ I was waiting on Michelle Waterson, but he was saying it would be late August, but he wasn’t really telling me anything.

“I asked if I could take this fight and he said, ‘Yeah.’ He said, ‘At this point, if you want to fight one of the big wigs, you have to beat anybody.’ That’s why I wanted it. I want to fight, I want to get paid. I still want to fight Michelle Waterson. I’ll still take that in late August if I can if I’m OK after this fight.”

The Ultimate Fighter 25 Finale takes place Friday at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Torres vs. Lima opens the early UFC Fight Pass prelims prior to the televised card on FS1.

A fight between Torres, No. 7 in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA women’s strawweight rankings, and Waterson, would have likely been a fight to receive prominent card placement wherever it was booked. Instead, Torres fights Lima in the opening fight of the night, which on the surface seems like a considerable step down.

Torres, however, said she’s not necessarily worried about any of that, because she just wants to fight.

“I like fighting earlier in the night because I can get it over with,” Torres said. “I’m a fan of the sport, so I want to see the other girls fight on the card and some of the other guy fights. I’m excited about that. Being on TV is a little bit easier for my friends and family to watch it, but I understand they want to sell more Fight Pass and get some fights on there. I hope we open up the show with a bang and show women can fight hard.”

The bout with Lima comes somewhat in the middle of a transition stage for Torres. She’s spent almost the entirety of her MMA career training out of Florida’s American Top Team gym, but after her recent engagement to fellow UFC fighter Raquel Pennington, Torres opted to relocate to Colorado.

Although the fight with Lima came together on less than three weeks’ notice, Torres said she’s feeling the positive effects of her new training environment and expects that to carry over into her performance.

“I’m getting a lot more one-on-one attention,” Torres said. “I think my style is going to be a little more evolved this fight. Although I took it on two and a half weeks’ notice, I was still training before that. I feel like with every fight that comes, I’ll just get better and better.

“I felt that in my last fight because I did a month with this camp and a month with my old camp. I felt really good about it, so I’m just excited about how this fight’s going to go. I really feel like I’m going to show the best version of me yet.”

If Torres is successful at the TUF 25 Finale, she would put a fifth UFC victory on her resume, which is more than anyone in divisional history outside of champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk. The undefeated titleholder has already plowed through most of the top-ranked 115-pound contenders, but has yet to have an encounter with Torres.

“The Tiny Tornado” believes a title shot is imminent as long as she continues to win, and if she can beat Lima and then get her fight with Waterson, she said that’s a pretty solid road map to a fight with Jedrzejczyk (14-0 MMA, 8-0 UFC) for the gold.

“I think I’m definitely one or two wins away from getting a title shot,” Torres said. “I’ve been No. 5 (in the UFC’s rankings) now for a while – probably the last few years. … I think that everybody has had that opportunity to fight for the title in the top five – except for me. I think one or two wins and I should be getting that shot for myself.”

For more on The Ultimate Fighter 25 Finale, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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 and producer Brian “Goze” Garcia. For more information or to download past episodes, go to www.mmajunkie.com/radio.


Filed under: News, UFC

TUF 25 Finale staff picks: Will it be a rude awakening for Justin Gaethje's UFC debut?

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Johnson
vs.
Gaethje Lima
vs.
Taylor Diekiese
vs.
Klose Cannonier
vs.
Roehrick Tavares
vs.
Theodorou Fortuna
vs.
Johnson MMAjunkie readers’
consensus picks
2017: 58-47
Gaethje
(67%)
Taylor
(59%)
Diakiese
(84%)
Cannonier
(76%)
Theodorou
(65%)
Johnson
(53%) Simon Samano
@SJSamano
2017: 68-37
Gaethje
Taylor
Diakiese
Cannonier
Theodorou
Fortuna Matt Erickson @MMAjunkieMatt
2017: 66-39
Johnson
Taylor
Diakiese
Cannonier
Theodorou
Johnson Dann Stupp
@DannStupp
2017: 64-41
2015 Champion
Gaethje
Taylor
Diakiese
Cannonier
Theodorou
Johnson Steven Marrocco @MMAjunkieSteven
2017: 64-41
Gaethje
Lima
Diakiese
Cannonier
Theodorou
Fortuna Ben Fowlkes @BenFowlkesMMA
2017: 63-42
2016 Champion
Gaethje
Taylor
Diakiese
Cannonier
Theodorou
Fortuna Brian Garcia
@thegoze
2017: 62-43
Johnson
Taylor
Klose
Cannonier
Tavares
Fortuna Fernanda Prates @nandaprates_
2017: 61-44
Gaethje
Taylor
Diakiese
Cannonier
Theodorou
Fortuna Mike Bohn @MikeBohnMMA
2017: 59-46
2014 Champion
Gaethje
Taylor
Diakiese
Cannonier
Theodorou
Johnson George Garcia @MMAjunkieGeorge
2017: 58-47
Johnson
Lima
Diakiese
Cannonier
Tavares
Johnson John Morgan @MMAjunkieJohn
2017: 56-49
Gaethje
Taylor
Diakiese
Cannonier
Tavares
Fortuna

The UFC’s “International Fight Week” has two events this year, including another live finale of “The Ultimate Fighter.”

The TUF 25 Finale takes place Friday at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The card airs on FS1 following early prelims on UFC Fight Pass.

(Click here to open a PDF of the staff picks grid in a separate window.)

In the main event, Michael Johnson (17-11 MMA, 9-7 UFC) takes on former WSOF lightweight champ Justin Gaethje (17-0 MMA, 0-0 UFC), who makes his UFC debut. Johnson is the betting favorite at -170, but it’s Gaethje who has a 7-3 edge from our 10 MMAjunkie editors, writers and radio hosts.

In the co-main event, the latest “TUF” winner will be crowned. The 25th season of the show featured former cast members, including finalists and winners. The welterweight final will be between Season 19 runner-up Dhiego Lima (12-5 MMA, 1-3 UFC) and Season 7 finalist Jesse Taylor (30-15 MMA, 0-1 UFC) – who never made it to the final because he was kicked off the show. He has his shot at redemption nine years later, and he’s got an 8-2 edge in our picks.

Also on the main card, Marc Diakiese (12-0 MMA, 3-0 UFC) puts his unbeaten record on the line against fellow unbeaten lightweight Drakkar Klose (7-0-1 MMA, 1-0 UFC). Diakiese is one of the biggest favorites on the card at 3-1 and is a 9-1 pick from our staff members. At light heavyweight, Jared Cannonier (9-2 MMA, 2-2 UFC) takes on short-notice replacement Nick Roehrick (7-0 MMA, 0-0 UFC), and Cannonier is the event’s only unanimous pick.

Elias Theodorou (13-1 MMA, 5-1 UFC) has an 7-3 picks edge over Brad Tavares (14-4 MMA, 9-4 UFC) in their middleweight fight, and Marcel Fortuna (9-1 MMA, 1-0 UFC) is a 6-4 pick over Jordan Johnson (7-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC) in their light heavyweight bout to open the main card.

In the MMAjunkie reader consensus picks, Gaethje, Taylor, Diakiese, Cannonier, Theodorou and Jordan Johnson are the choices.

Check out all the picks above.

For more on The Ultimate Fighter 25 Finale, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

Sep 17, 2016; Hidalgo, TX, USA; Michael Johnson (blue gloves) defeats Dustin Poirier during UFC Fight Night at State Farm Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sean Porkorny-USA TODAY Sports Aug 8, 2015; Nashville, TN, USA; Michael Johnson (red gloves) fights against Beneil Dariush (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Lindsey-USA TODAY Sports December 19, 2015; Orlando, FL, USA; Nate Diaz moves in with a punch against Michael Johnson during UFC Fight Night at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports December 19, 2015; Orlando, FL, USA; Nate Diaz defends against a kick by Michael Johnson during UFC Fight Night at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports Aug 9, 2015; Nashville, TN, USA; Michael Johnson 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; Beneil Dariush (blue gloves) reacts after defeating Michael Johnson (not pictured) during UFC Fight Night at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Lindsey-USA TODAY Sports Aug 8, 2015; Nashville, TN, USA; Michael Johnson (red gloves) fights against Beneil Dariush (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Lindsey-USA TODAY Sports Aug 8, 2015; Nashville, TN, USA; Michael Johnson (red gloves) fights against Beneil Dariush (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Lindsey-USA TODAY Sports Aug 8, 2015; Nashville, TN, USA; Michael Johnson (red gloves) fights against Beneil Dariush (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Lindsey-USA TODAY Sports Aug 7, 2015; Nashville, TN, USA; Michael Johnson during weigh ins for UFC Fight Night at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Lindsey-USA TODAY Sports Feb 22, 2015; Porto Alegre, Brazil; Michael Johnson (blue gloves) celebrates after his fight against Edson Barboza (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Ginasio do Gigantinho. Mandatory Credit: Jason da Silva-USA TODAY Sports Sep 17, 2016; Hidalgo, TX, USA; Michael Johnson (blue gloves) defeats Dustin Poirier during UFC Fight Night at State Farm Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sean Porkorny-USA TODAY Sports Sep 17, 2016; Hidalgo, TX, USA; Dustin Poirier (red gloves) competes against Michael Johnson (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at State Farm Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sean Porkorny-USA TODAY Sports Sep 17, 2016; Hidalgo, TX, USA; Dustin Poirier (red gloves) competes against Michael Johnson (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at State Farm Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sean Porkorny-USA TODAY Sports Sep 17, 2016; Hidalgo, TX, USA; Dustin Poirier (red gloves) competes against Michael Johnson (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at State Farm Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sean Porkorny-USA TODAY Sports Sep 17, 2016; Hidalgo, TX, USA; Dustin Poirier (red gloves) competes against Michael Johnson (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at State Farm Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sean Porkorny-USA TODAY Sports Sep 17, 2016; Hidalgo, TX, USA; Dustin Poirier (red gloves) gets knocked down by Michael Johnson (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at State Farm Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sean Porkorny-USA TODAY Sports Sep 17, 2016; Hidalgo, TX, USA; Dustin Poirier (red gloves) gets knocked down by Michael Johnson (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at State Farm Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sean Porkorny-USA TODAY Sports Sep 17, 2016; Hidalgo, TX, USA; Dustin Poirier (red gloves) gets knocked down by Michael Johnson (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at State Farm Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sean Porkorny-USA TODAY Sports Sep 17, 2016; Hidalgo, TX, USA; Dustin Poirier (red gloves) gets knocked down by Michael Johnson (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at State Farm Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sean Porkorny-USA TODAY Sports Sep 17, 2016; Hidalgo, TX, USA; Michael Johnson (blue gloves) defeats Dustin Poirier during UFC Fight Night at State Farm Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sean Porkorny-USA TODAY Sports Sep 17, 2016; Hidalgo, TX, USA; Michael Johnson (blue gloves) defeats Dustin Poirier during UFC Fight Night at State Farm Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sean Porkorny-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/BmPeLHi26f6C5PxADa7iAb/256693", customAnalytics: true, title: "Michael Johnson", feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == "undefined") ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();
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10 reasons to watch the TUF 25 Finale, including the UFC debut of ex-WSOF champ Justin Gaethje

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In Justin Gaethje’s mind, an MMA referee serves one purpose: to preserve life.

“The time for talking is over. That octagon door is going to lock and it’s going to be me, Michael (Johnson) and hopefully ‘Big John,’ (McCarthy),” Gaethje said after an open workout ahead of his UFC debut on Friday. “One of the referees, he’s there to save one of our lives.”

Gaethje, one of the most aggressive fighters in MMA, signed with the UFC as a free agent in May, relinquishing his WSOF lightweight title in the process. Gaethje brings with him a perfect 17-0 record with 15 finishes and meets Michael Johnson in the main event of The Ultimate Fighter 25 Finale.

For Johnson, a veteran of 16 UFC fights, the matchup provides an opportunity for him to put a 1-3 stretch behind him, something he seems anxious to do.

“I’m itching like Tyrone Biggums over here,” Johnson said following his open workout.

In the co-main event, Dhiego Lima and Jesse Taylor meet to determine the welterweight winner of Season 25 of “The Ultimate Fighter.”

The TUF 25 Finale takes place at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The card airs on FS1 following early prelims on UFC Fight Pass.

Here are 10 reasons to watch.

1. Let’s see what you’ve got

In May, Gaethje made the transition from highest ranked non-UFC lightweight in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA lightweight rankings, to No. 8 (now No. 7) ranked 155-pound fighter in the UFC. That adjustment took place when the former WSOF champion inked a free-agent deal with the UFC.

When he announced his signing on Twitter, Gaethje (17-0 MMA, 0-0 UFC) requested a fight against “the scariest lightweight possible.” The UFC responded by matching him against No. 12 Johnson (17-11 MMA, 9-7 UFC) in a main-event fight.

Gaethje’s goal is obviously to become the UFC champ. By booking him against Johnson, someone who has fought some of the best in the division, the UFC, fans and Gaethje himself are all going to get a good idea of just how attainable that goal is.

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The downside of this fight, if you can call it that, is if Gaethje adds a 16th stoppage to his record, the logjam at the top of the division means he’s likely going to have to battle at least once more before he gets a title shot.

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2. That last step

Dhiego Lima

In “The Ultimate Fighter 25: Redemption” welterweight finale fight, Lima, who made it to the Season 19 final, faces Taylor, who was supposed to fight in the Season 7 final. Lima lost to Eddie Gordon by knockout. He then went 1-2 before being released by the promotion in July 2015. Taylor didn’t get the opportunity to fight in his season’s finale. Instead, his behavior outside the cage got him released from the show. Taylor did get one fight in the UFC, but lost to Season 7 runner-up C.B. Dollaway by first-round submission. He was released after that contest and fought for seemingly every other MMA promotion before getting the opportunity on Season 25 of “TUF.”

Lima’s (12-5 MMA, 1-3 UFC) accomplishment of getting back to the “TUF” final is impressive. But the fact is, he’s only 28 and three fights removed from his UFC career. Taylor (30-15 MMA, 0-1 UFC) is 34, and it’s been nine years and 36 fights since his only octagon appearance – so he gets the nod for stick-to-it-iveness.

3. Rare occurrence, but no complaints

It’s not often the UFC takes two young(ish) prospects and matches them up early in their UFC careers, especially in a crowded division. But that’s what’s happening with unbeaten lightweights Marc Diakiese and Drakkar Klose.

Diakiese is an exciting and flashy striker who excels at distance, something he displayed in his last outing, a “Performance of the Night” bonus-winning knockout of Teemu Packalen. Diakiese (12-0 MMA, 3-0 UFC) has decent takedowns and is good from the top position, but if he finds himself on his back, he struggles. Klose’s (7-0-1 MMA, 1-0 UFC) wrestling base showed in his short-notice UFC debut, a decision win over Devin Powell. Klose closed distance well and was heavy against the cage. He also landed both takedown attempts, which could be the deciding factor here.

WOW!!! One-punch knockout win for @Marc_Diakiese at #UFCLondon. pic.twitter.com/FKet8Ta8X4

— UFC Canada (@UFC_CA) March 18, 2017

4. Really short notice

Jared Cannonier

Let’s hope Jared Cannonier didn’t spend too much time preparing for this event by watching tape of Steve Bosse, because Bosse is off the card. Cannonier now faces Nick Roehrick, who took the light heavyweight fight on three days’ notice.

Cannonier is coming off a decision loss to former title contender Glover Teixeira. Before that defeat, he had won two straight, claiming post-fight bonuses in each of those victories.

Roehrick (7-0 MMA, 0-0 UFC) joins the UFC with a perfect 7-0 record, the same record Cannonier (9-2 MMA, 2-2 UFC) had when he made his UFC debut. Roehrick undoubtedly hopes his promotional debut goes smoother than Cannonier’s, which ended in the first round when he was knocked out by Shawn Jordan.

5. Change the discussion

Brad Tavares

Brad Tavares has no problems defeating middle-of-the-pack UFC middleweights, but when he steps up in competition, he struggles. Over the past five years, Tavares has gone 7-3 with his losses coming to Yoel Romero, Tim Boetsch and Robert Whittaker. Tavares (14-4 MMA, 9-4 UFC) gets a chance to change that narrative against rankings honorable mention Elias Theodorou (13-1 MMA, 5-1 UFC), whose only defeat is a decision loss to Thiago Santos.

This bout looks like the most evenly matched fight on the card, and the winner could parlay his victory into a fight against a ranked opponent.

6. Looking for that first win

Angela Hill

Angela Hill has been successful outside the UFC, going unbeaten while winning and defending the Invicta strawweight title. Unfortunately, Hill has struggled in the UFC, compiling an 0-3 record over two stints with the promotion. Hill returned to the UFC in her most recent bout, a “Fight of the Night” decision loss to recent title contender Jessica Andrade. While Hill did lose that contest, she did what Andrade’s two previous strawweight opponents could not – go the distance.

Hill (6-3 MMA, 0-3 UFC), currently ranked No. 9 in the division, gets another chance at UFC victory against Ashley Yoder (5-2 MMA, 0-1 UFC), who enters the contest coming off a decision loss to Justine Kish.

Hill has displayed good outside striking ability. She’ll need those skills against Yoder, who has won four fights via submission.

7. It’s been a minute

Two longtime UFC fighters return from injuries on this card. Ed Herman, who has not fought since a July 2016 knockout loss to Nikita Krylov and C.B. Dollaway, whose most recent bout was a December 2015 knockout loss to Nate Marquardt meet in a light heavyweight contest.

Herman (23-12-1 MMA, 10-8-1 UFC) was out with an undisclosed injury, while Dollaway’s (15-8 MMA, 9-8 UFC) prolonged absence stemmed from an elevator mishap following the UFC 203 ceremonial weigh-in in September.

Both fighters are 3-4 over their past seven bouts. Herman has alternated wins and losses over that time, Dollaway is on a three-fight losing skid. This is a sensible matchup that neither fighter can afford to lose.

8. Important for different reasons

Jessica Eye

Undefeated Aspen Ladd makes her UFC debut against a very dangerous opponent. The 22-year-old Ladd, whose first pro fight took place in February 2015, meets 30-year-old Jessica Eye, who has not won since November 2014 when she defeated Leslie Smith via TKO.

When Eye joined the UFC, she was 10-1, she’s now 11-6 with one no-contest and has decision losses in her past four fights. Eye (11-6 MMA, 1-5 UFC) has fought some tough opponents during that run, but her back is against the wall against Ladd (5-0 MMA, 0-0 UFC). If Eye loses this bout, the odds of her being released are high.

As for Ladd, she’s never faced anyone with the name recognition or high-level experience of Eye. If she can get her sixth consecutive win, she’s likely to earn a shot at a top-15 bantamweight opponent.

9. Looking forward

Gray Maynard

Gray Maynard and Teruto Ishihara are both coming off frustrating unanimous decision defeats. Ishihara falling to Artem Lobov and Maynard losing to Ryan Hall.

Ishihara (9-3-2 MMA, 2-1-1 UFC), a potential star in the making, saw Lobov control the range during their fight, never allowing the young Japanese fighter to mount any sustained offense of his own. Maynard (12-6-1 MMA, 10-6-1 UFC), the UFC veteran, dealt with a competitor in Hall who fought to his strengths, using his Brazilian jiu-jitsu base to negate any offense Maynard hoped to bring to the contest.

Don’t be surprised if these featherweights look to put their recent disappointments behind them with a good old-fashioned donnybrook.

10. Looking for a boost

Tecia Torres

It’s rare that two top-15 fighters open a UFC event, but No. 7 Tecia Torres and No. 13 Juliana Lima do just that on this card. This matchup was not the original booking, but when USADA flagged Amanda Ribas for a potential anti-doping violation, Torres agreed to step in to face Lima.

Neither of these strawweights has had success against other ranked fighters. Torres’ (8-1 MMA, 4-1 UFC) sole loss came to Rose Namajunas, while Lima (9-3 MMA, 3-2 UFC) has dropped decisions to former champion Carla Esparza and champion-to-be Joanna Jedrzejczyk.

One of these women will leave Las Vegas with a boost in confidence, knowing she belongs among the top-ranked strawweights.

For more on The Ultimate Fighter 25 Finale, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

Sep 17, 2016; Hidalgo, TX, USA; Michael Johnson (blue gloves) defeats Dustin Poirier during UFC Fight Night at State Farm Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sean Porkorny-USA TODAY Sports Aug 8, 2015; Nashville, TN, USA; Michael Johnson (red gloves) fights against Beneil Dariush (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Lindsey-USA TODAY Sports December 19, 2015; Orlando, FL, USA; Nate Diaz moves in with a punch against Michael Johnson during UFC Fight Night at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports December 19, 2015; Orlando, FL, USA; Nate Diaz defends against a kick by Michael Johnson during UFC Fight Night at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports Aug 9, 2015; Nashville, TN, USA; Michael Johnson 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; Beneil Dariush (blue gloves) reacts after defeating Michael Johnson (not pictured) during UFC Fight Night at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Lindsey-USA TODAY Sports Aug 8, 2015; Nashville, TN, USA; Michael Johnson (red gloves) fights against Beneil Dariush (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Lindsey-USA TODAY Sports Aug 8, 2015; Nashville, TN, USA; Michael Johnson (red gloves) fights against Beneil Dariush (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Lindsey-USA TODAY Sports Aug 8, 2015; Nashville, TN, USA; Michael Johnson (red gloves) fights against Beneil Dariush (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Lindsey-USA TODAY Sports Aug 7, 2015; Nashville, TN, USA; Michael Johnson during weigh ins for UFC Fight Night at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Lindsey-USA TODAY Sports Feb 22, 2015; Porto Alegre, Brazil; Michael Johnson (blue gloves) celebrates after his fight against Edson Barboza (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Ginasio do Gigantinho. Mandatory Credit: Jason da Silva-USA TODAY Sports Sep 17, 2016; Hidalgo, TX, USA; Michael Johnson (blue gloves) defeats Dustin Poirier during UFC Fight Night at State Farm Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sean Porkorny-USA TODAY Sports Sep 17, 2016; Hidalgo, TX, USA; Dustin Poirier (red gloves) competes against Michael Johnson (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at State Farm Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sean Porkorny-USA TODAY Sports Sep 17, 2016; Hidalgo, TX, USA; Dustin Poirier (red gloves) competes against Michael Johnson (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at State Farm Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sean Porkorny-USA TODAY Sports Sep 17, 2016; Hidalgo, TX, USA; Dustin Poirier (red gloves) competes against Michael Johnson (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at State Farm Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sean Porkorny-USA TODAY Sports Sep 17, 2016; Hidalgo, TX, USA; Dustin Poirier (red gloves) competes against Michael Johnson (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at State Farm Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sean Porkorny-USA TODAY Sports Sep 17, 2016; Hidalgo, TX, USA; Dustin Poirier (red gloves) gets knocked down by Michael Johnson (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at State Farm Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sean Porkorny-USA TODAY Sports Sep 17, 2016; Hidalgo, TX, USA; Dustin Poirier (red gloves) gets knocked down by Michael Johnson (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at State Farm Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sean Porkorny-USA TODAY Sports Sep 17, 2016; Hidalgo, TX, USA; Dustin Poirier (red gloves) gets knocked down by Michael Johnson (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at State Farm Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sean Porkorny-USA TODAY Sports Sep 17, 2016; Hidalgo, TX, USA; Dustin Poirier (red gloves) gets knocked down by Michael Johnson (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at State Farm Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sean Porkorny-USA TODAY Sports Sep 17, 2016; Hidalgo, TX, USA; Michael Johnson (blue gloves) defeats Dustin Poirier during UFC Fight Night at State Farm Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sean Porkorny-USA TODAY Sports Sep 17, 2016; Hidalgo, TX, USA; Michael Johnson (blue gloves) defeats Dustin Poirier during UFC Fight Night at State Farm Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sean Porkorny-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/BmPeLHi26f6C5PxADa7iAb/256820", customAnalytics: true, title: "Michael Johnson", feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == "undefined") ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();
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Ice Cube pitches cross-promotion for Big3 basketball league, Mayweather-McGregor fight

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The Big3’s inaugural season is scheduled to conclude at Las Vegas’ T-Mobile Arena on Aug. 26, the same place and date as the megafight between Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor.

While this could be viewed as a conflict, Big3 co-founder Ice Cube actually sees it as an opportunity for his upstart 3-on-3 pro basketball league.

“We would love to work with them in any way they’d like to work with us to make it an extraordinary day,” Ice Cube told reporters on a conference call today. “A cross-promotion makes sense. Why not?”

Big3 CEO Amy Trask added the fight’s promoters “have indicated to us that they are every bit as thrilled to work with us … as we are with them.”

RelatedDifference between McGregor and Mayweather training in these Instagram videos is alarming

The logistics of converting T-Mobile Arena from basketball to one of the most anticipated boxing matches in years haven’t been worked out. The only event listed on the arena’s official event schedule for Aug. 26 is the Big3 title game.

Messages left with T-Mobile Arena were not immediately returned.

The Big3’s championship game is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. local time. Since it’s the title game, there’s no need for multiple games being played in the same day as in the regular season.

The start time of the undercard ahead of Mayweather-McGregor has yet to be announced.

For more on “The Money Fight: Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor,” check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

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May 1, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Floyd Mayweather reacts following weigh-ins for the upcoming boxing fight against Manny Pacquiao (not pictured) at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports May 1, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Floyd Mayweather reacts following weigh-ins for the upcoming boxing fight against Manny Pacquiao (not pictured) at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports May 2, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Floyd Mayweather during his world welterweight championship bout against Manny Pacquiao at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports May 2, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao box during their world welterweight championship bout at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports May 2, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Floyd Mayweather in his corner after the first round of his world welterweight championship bout against Manny Pacquiao at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports May 2, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Floyd Mayweather during his world welterweight championship bout against Manny Pacquiao (not pictured) at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports May 2, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Floyd Mayweather during his world welterweight championship bout against Manny Pacquiao (not pictured) at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports May 2, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Floyd Mayweather (left) during his world welterweight championship bout against Manny Pacquiao at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports May 2, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao (Yellow/Red trunks) box during their world welterweight championship bout at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports May 2, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Floyd Mayweather during his world welterweight championship bout against Manny Pacquiao (not pictured) at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports May 2, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Floyd Mayweather during his world welterweight championship bout against Manny Pacquiao (not pictured) at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports May 2, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao (Yellow/Red trunks) box during their world welterweight championship bout at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports May 2, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Floyd Mayweather wears a towel around his head as he sits in his corner between rounds during his world welterweight championship bout against Manny Pacquiao (not pictured) at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports May 2, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Floyd Mayweather during his world welterweight championship bout against Manny Pacquiao (not pictured) at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports May 2, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Floyd Mayweather (left) during his world welterweight championship bout against Manny Pacquiao at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports May 2, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Floyd Mayweather (black/gold trunks) and Manny Pacquiao (yellow/red trunks) box during their world welterweight championship bout at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mayweather won via unanimous decsion. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports May 2, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Floyd Mayweather during his world welterweight championship bout against Manny Pacquiao (not pictured) at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports May 2, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Floyd Mayweather during his world welterweight championship bout against Manny Pacquiao (not pictured) at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports May 2, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Referee Kenny Bayless (center) separates Manny Pacquiao (left) from Floyd Mayweather during their boxing bout at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports May 2, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Floyd Mayweather (black/gold trunks) and Manny Pacquiao (yellow/red trunks) box during their world welterweight championship bout at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mayweather won via unanimous decision. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports May 2, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao box during their world welterweight championship bout at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports May 2, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Floyd Mayweather during his world welterweight championship bout against Manny Pacquiao (not pictured) at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports May 2, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Floyd Mayweather during his world welterweight championship bout against Manny Pacquiao (not pictured) at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports May 2, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Floyd Mayweather during his world welterweight championship bout against Manny Pacquiao (not pictured) at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports May 2, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Floyd Mayweather during his world welterweight championship bout against Manny Pacquiao (not pictured) at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports May 2, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Floyd Mayweather during his world welterweight championship bout against Manny Pacquiao (not pictured) at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports May 2, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Referee Kenny Bayless (center) separates Manny Pacquiao (left) and Floyd Mayweather during their boxing bout at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports May 2, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Floyd Mayweather during his world welterweight championship bout against Manny Pacquiao (not pictured) at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports May 2, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Floyd Mayweather during his world welterweight championship bout against Manny Pacquiao (not pictured) at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports May 2, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Floyd Mayweather during his world welterweight championship bout against Manny Pacquiao (not pictured) at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports May 2, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Floyd Mayweather (black/gold trunks) and Manny Pacquiao (yellow/red trunks) box during their world welterweight championship bout at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mayweather won via unanimous decsion. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports May 2, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Floyd Mayweather reacts after his welterweight championship bout against Manny Pacquiao at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports May 2, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Floyd Mayweather celebrates on the ropes after his welterweight championship bout against Manny Pacquiao at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports May 2, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Floyd Mayweather celebrates after his welterweight championship bout against Manny Pacquiao at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports May 2, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Detailed view of fans in the crowd look on as Floyd Mayweather celebrates after his welterweight championship bout against Manny Pacquiao at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. 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Watch MMAjunkie Radio here (1 p.m. ET) with Valentina Shevchenko and Don Frye (in studio)

MMAjunkie Radio kicks off today at 1 p.m. ET (10 a.m. PT) with guests Valentina Shevchenko and Don Frye.

Shevchenko headlines Saturday’s UFC 213 card in Las Vegas in a rematch with women’s bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes. Nunes beat her in their first fight at UFC 196, then went on to win the title. Shevchenko is favored in the rematch. And UFC Hall of Famer Frye will join us in the studio. He’s in town to induct Kazushi Sakuraba into the Hall tonight.

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

Stream or download MMAjunkie Radio #2480 with Anthony Pettis, Curtis Blaydes, Rob Font, Terrion Ware, Cody Stamann

Stream or download Wednesday’s edition of MMAjunkie Radio with guests Anthony Pettis, Curtis Blaydes, Rob Font, Terrion Ware and Cody Stamann.

All five guests fight Saturday at UFC 213. Pettis and Blaydes are featured on the pay-per-view main card vs. Jim Miller and Daniel Omielanczuk, respectively. Ware and Stamann compete against each other, while Font takes on Douglas Silva de Andrade, with both fights featured on the UFC Fight Pass prelims.

You can listen below or download the episode from SoundCloud.


Filed under: News, Radio, UFC

UFC champ Amanda Nunes ready to disprove conditioning concerns in Valentina Shevchenko rematch

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LAS VEGAS – If there’s been one knock on women’s bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes during a largely dominant UFC run, it’s that her conditioning might not be quite up to par.

Nunes’ first fight with Valentina Shevchenko, who she meets in a title rematch in Saturday’s UFC 213 pay-per-view headliner at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas (prelims air on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass), added to that concern when she faded in the third round of the March 2016 encounter before winning a unanimous decision.

RelatedUFC 213's Valentina Shevchenko: 5 rounds vs. champ Amanda Nunes 'will be good for me'

One of the primary storylines going into the rematch with Shevchenko (14-2 MMA, 3-1 UFC) is that five rounds are now in play for a title fight. Nunes (14-4 MMA, 7-1 UFC) hasn’t gone past the first round since that fight, beating Ronda Rousey and Miesha Tate by stoppage. But at UFC 213 she is prepared to silence her critics.

“I’m ready for five rounds,” Nunes said at Wednesday’s UFC 213 open workouts. “She can say all those things about my condition and stuff, but I’m ready. I have to prove it Saturday, and I will, and everything will be done. I’m going for the finish. The first, the second, the third, the fourth, the fifth – I will be ready.”

RelatedUFC 213 pre-event facts: Yoel Romero brings special stats into interim title fight

Nunes, No. 1 in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA women’s bantamweight rankings, won the title from Tate in the headliner of last year’s International Fight Week festivities. She gets the main-event spot on the organization’s annual July tradition for a second year in a row as part of a run that includes five straight wins.

The Brazilian said she appreciates her position and is not letting the significance of it pass her by.

“It’s been amazing for me,” Nunes said. “My dreams have come true, and I’m just enjoying every single day. Once again I’m back in Vegas. It’s going to be amazing, for sure.”

For more on UFC 213, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

March 5, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Amanda Nunes during the match against Valentina Shevchenko (not pictured) 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 against Amanda Nunes (not pictured) 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 (left) 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 during the match against Valentina Shevchenko (not pictured) 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 pins Valentina Shevchenko to the mat 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 (right) against Amanda Nunes 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 lands a kick against Amanda Nunes 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 (top) 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 (left) against Amanda Nunes 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 (top) 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; Valentina Shevchenko is pinned to the mat by Amanda Nunes 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 against Amanda Nunes (not pictured) 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 (left) 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 moves in with a knee hit against Amanda Nunes 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 (right) against Amanda Nunes 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 (right) against Amanda Nunes 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 (right) against Amanda Nunes 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 (left) against Amanda Nunes 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 (right) against Amanda Nunes 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 lands a punch against Amanda Nunes 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 (left) against Amanda Nunes 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 celebrates following her fight against Amanda Nunes (not pictured) 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 celebrates following the match against Valentina Shevchenko (not pictured) 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; Valentina Shevchenko hugs Amanda Nunes following their match at 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 following her victory 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; 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 against Amanda Nunes (not pictured) 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 celebrates following the match against Valentina Shevchenko (not pictured) during UFC 196 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. 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Filed under: Featured Videos, News, UFC, Videos

Robert Whittaker: Fighting Yoel Romero for interim title at UFC 213 is reward in itself

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LAS VEGAS – It’s taken Robert Whittaker three years to go from a beatable welterweight reality TV veteran to a middleweight title challenger. But really, he’s done most of his climbing in just the past three months alone.

Whittaker cut the line of contenders with a knockout of former Strikeforce champ and contender apparent Rondaldo Souza in April. On Saturday at UFC 213, Whittaker will vie for the interim middleweight title – the highest accolade he can achieve with undisputed champ Michael Bisping (30-7 MMA, 20-7 UFC) on the mend from a knee injury.

RelatedUFC 213 pre-event facts: Yoel Romero brings special stats into interim title fight

But Whittaker (18-4 MMA, 9-2 UFC) said the real reward ahead is the chance to face the man also vying for the interim strap.

“More than anything, more than that shiny belt at the end of it, is the fact that I get to fight Yoel Romero,” Whittaker said, who meets Romero in the pay-per-view co-headliner at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. “He’s such a tough dude, and I’m in this game to fight tough dudes.”

There haven’t been many who’ve looked tougher than Romero (12-1 MMA, 8-0 UFC), who was scheduled to take on Bisping before injuries disrupted those plans. The former Olympic silver medalist wrestler dispatched ex-champ Chris Weidman with a vicious flying knee this past November at UFC 205.

RelatedRobert Whittaker expects smart UFC 213 encounter, but believes he'll put 'too much hurt' on Romero

“I want to be known as one of the best fighters ever, so to walk that path, I have to fight the best and the baddest dudes in the world,” Whittaker said.

Whittaker expects Romero to use his wrestling pedigree to try and dominate on the mat and keep things interesting on the feet. But Whittaker said he has his own tricks to counteract that plan.

To hear more from Whittaker and watch his workout, check out the video above.

And for more on UFC 213, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

Apr 15, 2017; Kansas City, MO, USA; Robert Whittaker (Blue Gloves) reacts to fight against Alexander Volkov (Red Gloves) during UFC Fight Night at the Sprint Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports Apr 15, 2017; Kansas City, MO, USA; Ronaldo Souza (Red Gloves) fights Robert Whittaker (Blue Gloves) during UFC Fight Night at the Sprint Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports Apr 15, 2017; Kansas City, MO, USA; Ronaldo Souza (Red Gloves) fights Robert Whittaker (Blue Gloves) during UFC Fight Night at the Sprint Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports Apr 15, 2017; Kansas City, MO, USA; Ronaldo Souza (Red Gloves) fights Robert Whittaker (Blue Gloves) during UFC Fight Night at the Sprint Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports Apr 15, 2017; Kansas City, MO, USA; Ronaldo Souza (Red Gloves) fights Robert Whittaker (Blue Gloves) during UFC Fight Night at the Sprint Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports Apr 15, 2017; Kansas City, MO, USA; Ronaldo Souza (Red Gloves) fights Robert Whittaker (Blue Gloves) during UFC Fight Night at the Sprint Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports Apr 15, 2017; Kansas City, MO, USA; Ronaldo Souza (Red Gloves) fights Robert Whittaker (Blue Gloves) during UFC Fight Night at the Sprint Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports Apr 15, 2017; Kansas City, MO, USA; Ronaldo Souza (Red Gloves) fights Robert Whittaker (Blue Gloves) during UFC Fight Night at the Sprint Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports Apr 15, 2017; Kansas City, MO, USA; Ronaldo Souza (Red Gloves) fights Robert Whittaker (Blue Gloves) during UFC Fight Night at the Sprint Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports Apr 15, 2017; Kansas City, MO, USA; Ronaldo Souza (Red Gloves) fights Robert Whittaker (Blue Gloves) during UFC Fight Night at the Sprint Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports Apr 15, 2017; Kansas City, MO, USA; Ronaldo Souza (Red Gloves) fights Robert Whittaker (Blue Gloves) during UFC Fight Night at the Sprint Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports Apr 15, 2017; Kansas City, MO, USA; Ronaldo Souza (Red Gloves) fights Robert Whittaker (Blue Gloves) during UFC Fight Night at the Sprint Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports Apr 15, 2017; Kansas City, MO, USA; Ronaldo Souza (Red Gloves) fights Robert Whittaker (Blue Gloves) during UFC Fight Night at the Sprint Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports Apr 15, 2017; Kansas City, MO, USA; Alexander Volkov (Red Gloves) reacts to fight against Robert Whittaker (Blue Gloves) reacts to fight against during UFC Fight Night at the Sprint Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports Apr 15, 2017; Kansas City, MO, USA; Robert Whittaker (Blue Gloves) reacts to fight against Alexander Volkov (Red Gloves) during UFC Fight Night at the Sprint Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports jQuery.extend( window._usmgOptions,{ scriptUrl: "https://s2.wp.com/wp-content/themes/vip/usatoday-plugins/api-galleries/assets", analyticsCallback: "galleryAnalytics", fullscreenUrl: "http://mmajunkie.com/sigallery/pxH3ZFwkC8VmViShYxFvFA/256710", customAnalytics: true, title: "Whittaker def. Souza", feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == "undefined") ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();
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UFC interim title challenger Yoel Romero says he'll win because he's flanked by God

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LAS VEGAS – Rarely a man of many words, UFC interim middleweight title challenger Yoel Romero did just about as much saluting – and posing – as he did talking at open workouts for UFC 213.

When your nickname is “Soldier of God,” that’s what you do.

“Jesus!” Romero yelled, pounding his chest before working up a sweat at the Park Theater in the Monte Carlo Resort and Casino.

RelatedUFC 213 pre-event facts: Yoel Romero brings special stats into interim title fight

Asked about his opponent, Robert Whittaker (18-4 MMA, 9-2 UFC), in the co-headliner of Saturday’s pay-per-view event at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Romero (12-1 MMA, 8-0 UFC) had all the confidence of a man with full confidence in the man above.

“He prepared himself for this,” Romero, the No. 2 ranked fighter in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA middleweight rankings, said of No. 4 Whittaker. “I was made for this.”

RelatedHere's that video of Yoel Romero dancing to 'Despacito' that you didn’t know you needed

And why will he come out ahead against the younger upstart who’s already knocked off one contender-to-be?

To hear more from Romero and to watch his workout, check out the video above.

And for more on UFC 213, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

Nov 12, 2016; New York, NY, USA; Yoel Romero (blue gloves) celebrates after defeating Chris Weidman (red gloves) during UFC 205 at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports Nov 12, 2016; New York, NY, USA; Yoel Romero (blue gloves) takes down and defeats Chris Weidman (red gloves) during UFC 205 at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports Nov 12, 2016; New York, NY, USA; Yoel Romero (blue gloves) takes down and defeats Chris Weidman (red gloves) during UFC 205 at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports Nov 12, 2016; New York, NY, USA; Yoel Romero (blue gloves) takes down and defeats Chris Weidman (red gloves) during UFC 205 at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports Nov 12, 2016; New York, NY, USA; Yoel Romero (blue gloves) celebrates after defeating Chris Weidman (red gloves) during UFC 205 at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports December 12, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Yoel Romero celebrates his victory against Ronaldo Souza during UFC 194 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports December 12, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Yoel Romero before fighting against Ronaldo Souza during UFC 194 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports December 12, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Yoel Romero fights against Ronaldo Souza during UFC 194 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports December 12, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Yoel Romero fights against Ronaldo Souza during UFC 194 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports December 12, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Yoel Romero lands punches against Ronaldo Souza during UFC 194 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports December 12, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Yoel Romero lands punches against Ronaldo Souza during UFC 194 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports December 12, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Yoel Romero lands punches against Ronaldo Souza during UFC 194 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports December 12, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Yoel Romero lands a kick against Ronaldo Souza during UFC 194 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports Apr 19, 2014; Orlando, FL, USA; Yoel Romero celebrates a victory after his middleweight fight against Brad Tavares (not pictured) during UFC on FOX 11 at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: David Manning-USA TODAY Sports Sep 27, 2014; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Yoel Romero (blue gloves) fights Tim Kennedy (red gloves) during a middleweight fight during UFC 178 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports Sep 27, 2014; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Yoel Romero (blue gloves) fights Tim Kennedy (red gloves) during a middleweight fight during UFC 178 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports Sep 27, 2014; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Yoel Romero celebrates his knockout victory over Tim Kennedy during a middleweight fight during UFC 178 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports Sep 27, 2014; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Yoel Romero celebrates his knockout victory over Tim Kennedy during a middleweight fight during UFC 178 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports Jan 15, 2014; Duluth, GA, USA; Yoel Romero ( red gloves) fights Derek Brunson during UFC Fight Night at Gwinnett Center. Romero wons. Mandatory Credit: Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports Jan 15, 2014; Duluth, GA, USA; Yoel Romero (red gloves) reacts during his fight against Derek Brunson during UFC Fight Night at Gwinnett Center. Mandatory Credit: Joshua S. Kelly-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/TjTgRbYRZNpq5FRg5jHkUd/256783", customAnalytics: true, title: "Yoel Romero", feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == "undefined") ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();
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'TUF 25' finalist Dhiego Lima considered quitting if fights didn't match training

Dhiego Lima has been down this road before, and it didn’t work out very well. On Friday, he’ll have plenty of redemption on his mind.

Lima reached the middleweight final of Season 19 of “The Ultimate Fighter,” but was stopped by Eddie Gordon in the first round. Ultimately, he went 1-3 in the UFC and was bounced out to try to earn his way back. His second chance came on Season 25, on which he reached the final once again.

Lima (12-5 MMA, 1-3 UFC) takes on Jesse Taylor (30-15 MMA, 0-1 UFC) to try to become the “TUF 25” welterweight winner in the co-main event of Friday’s TUF 25 Finale, which takes place Friday at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The card airs on FS1 following early prelims on UFC Fight Pass.

With his shot at redemption on the “Redemption” season of the show, Lima, whose brother is Bellator welterweight champion Douglas Lima, said if his fights in the house didn’t sync up with how he believed his training was, he might have walked away from the sport.

RelatedTom Gallicchio vs. James Krause joins Dhiego Lima vs. Jesse Taylor to complete TUF 25 Finale lineup

“This MMA game is really tough,” Lima told MMAjunkie. “It has a lot of ups and downs. But even when I lost, I always believed in myself. I was always very good in training, but it never clicked during fights. This time, I told myself in the ‘TUF’ house that if I couldn’t fight as well as I do in training, I may never fight again. That was my mindset.

“I put pressure on myself. I knew that if I let my game go, no one can beat me. The last time around, when I would step into the octagon, my mind would go blank. I couldn’t find myself in there. I worked on that. I’m very confident now. I proved that I need only believe in myself. No one else has to. Now my mind is open. I’m happy – training happy and fighting happy. Now I’m the best Dhiego Lima anyone has ever seen.”

Since the show was taped earlier this spring, Lima has known for quite a while that Taylor would be his opponent, even though the rest of the world only found out late Wednesday on the final regular-season broadcast of the show on FS1.

Taylor fought UFC veteran James Krause in the second semifinal and submitted him to earn his spot against Lima. Taylor is seeking his own redemption nine years after he reached the Season 7 final – only to be booted from the opportunity thanks to an ill-fated drunken night in Las Vegas after getting out of the “TUF” house.

Lima believes he knows Taylor’s style and likely game plan, though, and is prepared to counter it.

“I’ve known for about 20 weeks now, so I had a very long time to get ready for him,” he said. “I didn’t change much. I just trained more wrestling. I trained a lot with Roan Carneiro. Jesse Taylor is a good wrestler. He’ll want to take me down and hold me. He doesn’t have much standup (or) much of anything else. He’s more old school. If he gets a takedown, he’ll do well, and if he doesn’t, he gets very frustrated.

“I worked on takedown defense and landing heavy hands. My takedown defense is sharp. I’m very well prepared. My jiu-jitsu, kickboxing, and boxing are also on point. I’ll fight my fight. I’ll fight happy.”

The happy thing seems to be a theme with Lima, and perhaps for good reason. After starting his pro career 9-1, his struggles started with the loss to Lima. He bounced back with a decision over Jorge de Oliveira for his lone UFC win, but then was knocked out by Tim Means and Li Jingliang and found himself on the outside looking to get back.

The UFC losses forced him to look at his preparation differently, and he believes that will pay dividends starting Friday, as if it hasn’t already just by virtue of him getting back to another “TUF” final.

“I don’t train as hard anymore,” Lima said. “I have a very smart approach now. “I don’t hurt myself as I used to. But the main change is still my mindset. I used to go into fights worrying about what would happen. Now my way of thinking is different. I’m not worried about the past. I know how good I am. I learned to trust in myself. I learned to believe in myself.

“I thought a lot about (Season 5 “comeback” winner) Matt Serra. I have this on my mind even today. I’m confident that the same thing will happen to me. I’m coming back to the UFC like a beast. Now I’ll manage to be the TUF and UFC champion. My time has arrived.”

For more on The Ultimate Fighter 25 Finale, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

Feb 27, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Dhiego Lima on the scale at the weigh-in for his fight at UFC 184 at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports Jul 6, 2014; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Dhiego Lima sits in defeat after a knockout loss by Eddie Gordon (not pictured) during the first round of an Ultimate Fighter middleweight title fight at Mandalay Bay Events Center. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports Feb 27, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Dhiego Lima and Tim Means face off at the weigh-in for their fight at UFC 184 at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports Feb 28, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Dhiego Lima (red gloves) during his Welterweight bout against Tim Means (blue gloves) at UFC 184 at Staples Center. Means won on a KO in the first round. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports Feb 28, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Dhiego Lima (red gloves) during his Welterweight bout against Tim Means (blue gloves) at UFC 184 at Staples Center. Means won on a KO in the first round. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports Feb 28, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Dhiego Lima (red gloves) during his Welterweight bout against Tim Means (blue gloves) at UFC 184 at Staples Center. Means won on a KO in the first round. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports Feb 28, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Dhiego Lima (red gloves) during his Welterweight bout against Tim Means (blue gloves) at UFC 184 at Staples Center. Means won on a KO in the first round. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-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/XNJLrVXdbxcESDGb7AqDf7/256822", customAnalytics: true, title: "Dhiego Lima", feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == "undefined") ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();
Filed under: News, UFC

After making most of adverse UFC debut, Marcel Fortuna aims to break into 205-pound rankings

Feb 4, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Marcel Fortuna (blue gloves) fights Anthony Hamilton (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports Feb 4, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Marcel Fortuna (blue gloves) fights Anthony Hamilton (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports Feb 4, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Marcel Fortuna (blue gloves) fights Anthony Hamilton (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports Feb 4, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Marcel Fortuna (blue gloves) fights Anthony Hamilton (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports Feb 4, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Marcel Fortuna (blue gloves) knocks down Anthony Hamilton (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports Feb 4, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Marcel Fortuna (blue gloves) fights Anthony Hamilton (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports Feb 4, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Marcel Fortuna (blue gloves) knocks down Anthony Hamilton (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports Feb 4, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Marcel Fortuna (blue gloves) knocks down Anthony Hamilton (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports Feb 4, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Marcel Fortuna (blue gloves) knocks down Anthony Hamilton (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports Feb 4, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Marcel Fortuna (blue gloves) defeats Anthony Hamilton (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports Feb 4, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Marcel Fortuna (blue gloves) defeats Anthony Hamilton (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports Feb 4, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Marcel Fortuna (blue gloves) defeats Anthony Hamilton (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports Feb 4, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Marcel Fortuna (blue gloves) fights Anthony Hamilton (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports Feb 4, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Marcel Fortuna (blue gloves) fights Anthony Hamilton (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports Feb 4, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Marcel Fortuna (blue gloves) fights Anthony Hamilton (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-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/rxJ7YdGZKmEmYun692rTwU/256681", customAnalytics: true, title: "Fortuna def. Hamilton", feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == "undefined") ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();

Marcel Fortuna has a few reasons to be confident heading into his second UFC fight.

As far as adversity goes, it’s hard to top the conditions surrounding Fortuna’s octagon debut. Coming off a 20-month layoff, not only did the 205-pounder take the call to meet Anthony Hamilton at UFC Fight Night 104 on two weeks notice – he accepted it in the heavyweight division. That meant a 50-pound disparity on the scale.

But on fight night none of it mattered. In a twist that surprised even Fortuna himself, the jiu-jitsu black belt scored a “Peformance of the Night” bonus for his first-ever knockout win. And, with the added $50,000 in the bank, came a priceless confidence boost.

“It was a huge challenge, but I chose to take it,” Fortuna told MMAjunkie. “I believed in myself. After all this time training, looking for this opportunity, I decided not to let it get away. It was a tough fight, and I got the first-round knockout. It was very exciting, the first knockout of my career. It made me extremely happy and lot more confident in my striking.”

RelatedTUF 25 Finale pre-event facts: Can dominant Justin Gaethje extend undefeated streak in UFC debut?

Fortuna makes his second UFC appearance this Friday at FS1-televised The Ultimate Fighter 25 Finale in Las Vegas under much better conditions. For starters, he’s back at light heavyweight. But in yet another welcome departure from his debut, he had the luxury of actually preparing for his opponent.

The target is Jordan Johnson (7-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC), an undefeated fighter who’s also looking to build momentum after a victorious UFC debut and, why not, “whoop ass, dude.” Fortuna (9-1 MMA, 1-0 UFC) is aware of his opponent’s solid resume, but he’s also convinced he’ll be the stiffest challenge of Johnson’s career.

“It will be a good test for him, and a high-level fight,” Fortuna said.

Coming off such a big win under adverse conditions can certainly do wonders for a man’s confidence. But there’s also something to be said for the caliber of training partners Fortuna has relied on at the world-famous American Kickboxing Academy headquarters.

“I’m training very hard in San Jose – doing a lot of sparring with (lightweight champion) Daniel Cormier and with (former middleweight champion) Luke Rockhold,” Fortuna said. “I’ve been doing hard training with some heavy guys. I’m well-prepared. I’ve studied (Johnson’s) game a lot. I’ve worked on combos with my muay Thai coach based on his game. I’ve done a lot of wrestling preparation, as well.”

Fortuna might be a fresh face in the big stage, but he’s far from an overnight hit. In fact, his MMA career has been a long time in the making. Now 31, the Brazilian 205-pounder first started Brazilian jiu-jitsu back in 2002, when he was only 16. Five years – and a world title as a brown belt – later, he got his black belt.

Already a lauded grappler, Fortuna moved to the United States in 2009, already looking to get his start in MMA. That’s when muay Thai came into the equation – and later wrestling. His pro debut, however, would only come in 2011. Fortuna would go on to build a solid, but relatively shallow, record. In both 2012 and 2013, for instance, he had a single fight per year.

Fortuna attributes the inconsistency to a few factors. At first, he had a hard time getting opponents due to his jiu-jitsu credentials. But he also lacked a manager that helped him along. With that fixed – hence, the UFC call that came three weeks after switching management – Fortuna is now looking to get the ball rolling.

“I want to get this first win in the (light-heavyweight) division and keep moving forward until I break into the rankings,” Fortuna said. “I want a good win, so I can make that happen as soon as possible. I want to break into the rankings and, sooner than later, fight ranked opponents. That’s my goal.”

For more on The Ultimate Fighter 25 Finale, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.


Filed under: News, UFC

UFC Fight Night 113 lineup set in Scotland, including new Danny Henry vs. Daniel Teymur booking

The lineup is set for the UFC’s return to Scotland later this month with the addition of a featherweight fight to the event.

Newcomers Danny Henry (10-2 MMA, 0-0 UFC) and Daniel Teymur (6-0 MMA, 0-0 UFC) are scheduled to meet on the preliminary card of UFC Fight Night 113. UFC officials announced the new booking today.

UFC Fight Night 113 takes place July 16, a Sunday, at SSE Hydro in Glasgow, Scotland. The card airs on FS1 following early prelims on UFC Fight Pass.

Henry, from Scotland, gets a home-country fight for his promotional debut. He has three straight wins and victories in seven of his past eight fights. His resume includes finishes in nine of his 10 wins with five knockouts and four submissions.

Teymur, from Sweden, now joins his brother, lightweight David Teymur, as a UFC fighter. He’ll put his unbeaten record on the line against Henry. Teymur has all six of his wins by stoppage with three knockouts and three submissions.

In the UFC Fight Night 113 main event, Gunnar Nelson (16-2-1 MMA, 7-2 UFC) meets Santiago Ponzinibbio (24-3 MMA, 6-2 UFC) in a welterweight fight. The co-feature is between Scotland’s own Joanne Calderwood (11-2 MMA, 3-2 UFC) and Cynthia Calvillo (5-0 MMA, 2-0 UFC) at strawweight.

Also on the main card, Paul Felder (13-3 MMA, 5-3 UFC) meets Scotland’s Stevie Ray (21-6 MMA, 5-1 UFC) at lightweight; Ryan Janes (9-2 MMA, 1-1 UFC) takes on Jack Marshman (21-6 MMA, 1-1 UFC) at middleweight; light heavyweights Paul Craig (9-1 MMA, 1-1 UFC) and Khalil Rountree (5-2 MMA, 1-2 UFC) are booked; and to open the main card on FS1, heavyweight newcomers James Mulheron (11-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC) and Justin Willis (4-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC) will fight.

The event’s four-fight FS1 preliminary card, along with Henry-Teymur to open, includes Bobby Nash (8-2 MMA, 0-1 UFC) vs. Danny Roberts (13-2 MMA, 2-1 UFC) at welterweight; Alexandre Pantoja (17-2 MMA, 1-0 UFC) vs. Neil Seery (16-12 MMA, 3-3 UFC) at flyweight in Seery’s retirement bout; and Galore Bofando (4-2 MMA, 0-0 UFC) vs. Conor McGregor teammate Charlie Ward (3-2 MMA, 0-1 UFC) at welterweight.

UFC Fight Pass will carry a pair of early prelims: Brett Johns (13-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC) vs. Albert Morales (7-1-1 MMA, 1-1-1 UFC) at bantamweight, and Amanda Lemos (6-0-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC) and Leslie Smith (9-7-1 MMA, 3-3 UFC) open the event in a women’s bantamweight bout.

The finalized UFC Fight Night 113 lineup includes:

MAIN CARD (FS1, 3 p.m. ET)

  • Gunnar Nelson vs. Santiago Ponzinibbio
  • Joanne Calderwood vs. Cynthia Calvillo
  • Paul Felder vs. Stevie Ray
  • Ryan Janes vs. Jack Marshman
  • Paul Craig vs. Khalil Rountree
  • James Mulheron vs. Justin Willis

PRELIMINARY CARD (FS1, 1 p.m. ET)

  • Bobby Nash vs. Danny Roberts
  • Alexandre Pantoja vs. Neil Seery
  • Galore Bofando vs. Charlie Ward
  • Danny Henry vs. Daniel Teymur

PRELIMINARY CARD (UFC Fight Pass, noon ET)

  • Brett Johns vs. Albert Morales
  • Amanda Lemos vs. Leslie Smith

For more on UFC Fight Night 113, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

Jul 11, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Gunnar Nelson (red gloves) celebrates after defeating Brandon Thatch (blue gloves) during UFC 189 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Nelson won via first round submision. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports Jul 10, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Gunnar Nelson weighs in for his bout against Brandon Tatch (not pictured) during weigh-ins for UFC 189 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports Jul 11, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Gunnar Nelson (red gloves) and Brandon Thatch (blue gloves) fight during UFC 189 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Nelson won via first round submision. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports Jul 11, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Gunnar Nelson (red gloves) and Brandon Thatch (blue gloves) fight during UFC 189 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Nelson won via first round submision. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports Jul 11, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Gunnar Nelson (red gloves) and Brandon Thatch (blue gloves) fight during UFC 189 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Nelson won via first round submision. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports Jul 11, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Gunnar Nelson (red gloves) submits Brandon Thatch (blue gloves) during UFC 189 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Nelson won via first round submision. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports Jul 11, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Gunnar Nelson (red gloves) reacts after submitting Brandon Thatch (blue gloves) during UFC 189 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Nelson won via first round submision. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports December 12, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Gunnar Nelson fights against Demian Maia during UFC 194 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports May 8, 2016; Rotterdam, Netherlands; Gunnar Nelson moves in with a hit against Albert Tumenov during UFC Fight Night at Ahoy Rotterdam. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports May 8, 2016; Rotterdam, Netherlands; Gunnar Nelson moves in with a kick as Albert Tumenov defends during UFC Fight Night at Ahoy Rotterdam. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports May 8, 2016; Rotterdam, Netherlands; Gunnar Nelson pins Albert Tumenov to the mat during UFC Fight Night at Ahoy Rotterdam. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports May 8, 2016; Rotterdam, Netherlands; Gunnar Nelson pins Albert Tumenov to the mat during UFC Fight Night at Ahoy Rotterdam. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports May 8, 2016; Rotterdam, Netherlands; Gunnar Nelson lands elbow hits as he pins Albert Tumenov to the mat during UFC Fight Night at Ahoy Rotterdam. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports May 8, 2016; Rotterdam, Netherlands; Gunnar Nelson moves in with a kick as Albert Tumenov defends during UFC Fight Night at Ahoy Rotterdam. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports May 8, 2016; Rotterdam, Netherlands; Gunnar Nelson applies a choke hold to win by submission against Albert Tumenov during UFC Fight Night at Ahoy Rotterdam. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports May 8, 2016; Rotterdam, Netherlands; Gunnar Nelson is declared the winner by submission against Albert Tumenov during UFC Fight Night at Ahoy Rotterdam. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports jQuery.extend( window._usmgOptions,{ scriptUrl: "https://s2.wp.com/wp-content/themes/vip/usatoday-plugins/api-galleries/assets", analyticsCallback: "galleryAnalytics", fullscreenUrl: "http://mmajunkie.com/sigallery/9weY9RJiMexq9yAYDg2sLi/256818", customAnalytics: true, title: "Gunnar Nelson", feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == "undefined") ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();
Filed under: News, UFC

TUF 25 Finale early weigh-in results and live video stream (noon ET)

LAS VEGAS – MMAjunkie is on scene and reporting live from today’s early and official TUF 25 Finale fighter weigh-ins, which kick off at noon ET (9 a.m. PT).

The early weigh-ins, which precede the day’s ceremonial affair, take place at the UFC host hotel in Las Vegas. The TUF 25 Finale ceremonial weigh-ins take place at 7 p.m. ET at Park Theater at Monte Carlo in Las Vegas. The nearby T-Mobile Arena hosts Saturday’s pay-per-view event.

Among those weighing in are headliners Michael Johnson (17-11 MMA, 9-7 UFC) and Justin Gaethje (17-0 MMA, 0-0 UFC), who meet in the lightweight main event, and Dhiego Lima (12-5 MMA, 1-3 UFC) vs. Jesse Taylor (30-15 MMA, 0-1 UFC), who are the welterweight finalists for Season 25 of “The Ultimate Fighter.”

UFC officials recently adopted the early weigh-ins to allow fighters more time to rehydrate before the event.

The full TUF 25 Finale weigh-in results include:

MAIN CARD (FS1, 9 p.m. ET)

  • Michael Johnson () vs. Justin Gaethje ()
  • Dhiego Lima () vs. Jesse Taylor – TUF 25 final ()
  • Marc Diakiese () vs. Drakkar Klose ()
  • Jared Cannonier () vs. Nick Roehrick
  • Brad Tavares () vs. Elias Theodorou ()
  • Marcel Fortuna () vs. Jordan Johnson ()

PRELIMINARY CARD (FS1, 7 p.m. ET)

  • Angela Hill () vs. Ashley Yoder ()
  • Tom Gallicchio () vs. James Krause ()
  • C.B. Dollaway () vs. Ed Herman ()
  • Jessica Eye () vs. Aspen Ladd ()

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

  • Teruto Ishihara () vs. Gray Maynard ()
  • Juliana Lima () vs. Tecia Torres ()

For more on The Ultimate Fighter 25 Finale, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

Sep 17, 2016; Hidalgo, TX, USA; Michael Johnson (blue gloves) defeats Dustin Poirier during UFC Fight Night at State Farm Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sean Porkorny-USA TODAY Sports Aug 8, 2015; Nashville, TN, USA; Michael Johnson (red gloves) fights against Beneil Dariush (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Lindsey-USA TODAY Sports December 19, 2015; Orlando, FL, USA; Nate Diaz moves in with a punch against Michael Johnson during UFC Fight Night at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports December 19, 2015; Orlando, FL, USA; Nate Diaz defends against a kick by Michael Johnson during UFC Fight Night at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports Aug 9, 2015; Nashville, TN, USA; Michael Johnson 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; Beneil Dariush (blue gloves) reacts after defeating Michael Johnson (not pictured) during UFC Fight Night at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Lindsey-USA TODAY Sports Aug 8, 2015; Nashville, TN, USA; Michael Johnson (red gloves) fights against Beneil Dariush (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Lindsey-USA TODAY Sports Aug 8, 2015; Nashville, TN, USA; Michael Johnson (red gloves) fights against Beneil Dariush (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Lindsey-USA TODAY Sports Aug 8, 2015; Nashville, TN, USA; Michael Johnson (red gloves) fights against Beneil Dariush (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Lindsey-USA TODAY Sports Aug 7, 2015; Nashville, TN, USA; Michael Johnson during weigh ins for UFC Fight Night at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Lindsey-USA TODAY Sports Feb 22, 2015; Porto Alegre, Brazil; Michael Johnson (blue gloves) celebrates after his fight against Edson Barboza (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Ginasio do Gigantinho. Mandatory Credit: Jason da Silva-USA TODAY Sports Sep 17, 2016; Hidalgo, TX, USA; Michael Johnson (blue gloves) defeats Dustin Poirier during UFC Fight Night at State Farm Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sean Porkorny-USA TODAY Sports Sep 17, 2016; Hidalgo, TX, USA; Dustin Poirier (red gloves) competes against Michael Johnson (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at State Farm Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sean Porkorny-USA TODAY Sports Sep 17, 2016; Hidalgo, TX, USA; Dustin Poirier (red gloves) competes against Michael Johnson (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at State Farm Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sean Porkorny-USA TODAY Sports Sep 17, 2016; Hidalgo, TX, USA; Dustin Poirier (red gloves) competes against Michael Johnson (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at State Farm Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sean Porkorny-USA TODAY Sports Sep 17, 2016; Hidalgo, TX, USA; Dustin Poirier (red gloves) competes against Michael Johnson (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at State Farm Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sean Porkorny-USA TODAY Sports Sep 17, 2016; Hidalgo, TX, USA; Dustin Poirier (red gloves) gets knocked down by Michael Johnson (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at State Farm Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sean Porkorny-USA TODAY Sports Sep 17, 2016; Hidalgo, TX, USA; Dustin Poirier (red gloves) gets knocked down by Michael Johnson (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at State Farm Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sean Porkorny-USA TODAY Sports Sep 17, 2016; Hidalgo, TX, USA; Dustin Poirier (red gloves) gets knocked down by Michael Johnson (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at State Farm Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sean Porkorny-USA TODAY Sports Sep 17, 2016; Hidalgo, TX, USA; Dustin Poirier (red gloves) gets knocked down by Michael Johnson (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at State Farm Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sean Porkorny-USA TODAY Sports Sep 17, 2016; Hidalgo, TX, USA; Michael Johnson (blue gloves) defeats Dustin Poirier during UFC Fight Night at State Farm Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sean Porkorny-USA TODAY Sports Sep 17, 2016; Hidalgo, TX, USA; Michael Johnson (blue gloves) defeats Dustin Poirier during UFC Fight Night at State Farm Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sean Porkorny-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/BmPeLHi26f6C5PxADa7iAb/256362", customAnalytics: true, title: "Michael Johnson", feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == "undefined") ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();
Filed under: Featured, News, UFC

Video: Watch today's TUF 25 Finale ceremonial weigh-ins live on MMAjunkie at 7 p.m. ET


Filed under: News, UFC, Videos

LAS VEGAS – The TUF 25 Finale ceremonial fighter weigh-ins take place today, and you can catch a live video stream of the proceedings here on MMAjunkie at 7 p.m. ET (4 p.m. PT).

The weigh-ins take place at Park Theater at Monte Carlo in Las Vegas. The nearby T-Mobile Arena hosts Saturday’s pay-per-view event.

In addition to the video stream above, you can check out the early and official TUF 25 Finale weigh-in results from earlier in the day.

For more on The Ultimate Fighter 25 Finale, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.


Filed under: News, UFC, Videos

Tom Gallicchio vs. James Krause joins Dhiego Lima vs. Jesse Taylor to complete TUF 25 Finale lineup

Semifinalists Tom Galicchio (19-9 MMA, 0-0 UFC) and James Krause (23-7 MMA, 4-3 UFC) will square off at The Ultimate Fighter 25 Finale.

UFC officials tonight announced the two “The Ultimate Fighter 25” cast members will square off at the season’s live finale shortly after the final taped episode of the season aired on FS1. Both welterweights came up short in their semifinal contests – Gallicchio losing a decision to Dhiego Lima, while Krause was submitted byJesse Taylor.

Lima (12-5 MMA, 1-3 UFC) and Taylor (30-15 MMA, 0-0 UFC) meet in “The Ultimate Fighter 25” tournament final, with the winner earning $250,000.

The Ultimate Fighter 25 Finale takes place Friday at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The card airs on FS1 following early prelims on UFC Fight Pass.

Galicchio was a cast member on “The Ultimate Fighter 22,” where he picked up a submission win over Mike Flach before suffering a decision loss to Marcin Wrzosek and openly questioning his future in the sport. Still, he came back to show for this season’s “Redemption” offer, downing UFC veterans Eddie Gordon and Justin Edwards before falling short against Lima.

Menawhile, Krause was an active member of the UFC roster but still elected to chase the sizable prize money offered on the show. He downed Johnny Nunez and Ramsey Nijem before losing to Taylor.

With the additions to the card, The Ultimate Fighter 25 Finale lineup now includes:

MAIN CARD (FS1, 9 p.m. ET)

  • Michael Johnson vs. Justin Gaethje
  • Dhiego Lima vs. Jesse Taylor – “TUF 25” welterweight tournament final
  • Marc Diakiese vs. Drakkar Klose
  • Jared Cannonier vs. Nick Roehrick
  • Brad Tavares vs. Elias Theodorou
  • Marcel Fortuna vs. Jordan Johnson

PRELIMINARY CARD (FS1, 7 p.m. ET)

  • Tom Galicchio vs. James Krause
  • Angela Hill vs. Ashley Yoder
  • C.B. Dollaway vs. Ed Herman
  • Jessica Eye vs. Aspen Ladd

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

  • Teruto Ishihara vs. Gray Maynard
  • Juliana Lima vs. Tecia Torres

For more on The Ultimate Fighter 25 Finale, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.


Filed under: News, UFC

Episode No. 12 recap: 'The Ultimate Fighter 25: Redemption'

Episode No. 12 of “The Ultimate Fighter 25: Redemption” opens with coach T.J. Dillashaw introducing the arrival of special guest coach Tim Elliott, who won Season 24 of “The Ultimate Fighter” reality series.

Elliott has trained in Colorado with Dillashaw and Duane Ludwig in the past and is also a good friend of Team Dillashaw’s James Krause, who is tentatively scheduled to fight Team Dillashaw’s Jesse Taylor later in the episode.

Both fighters begin preparation for the second semifinal, which will determine who fights Dhiego Lima on Friday at The Ultimate Fighter 25 Finale. There’s still uncertainty around Krause’s eye, though, as he has yet to be officially cleared for competition after suffering a cornea scratch in his quarterfinal win.

Several fighters are staying prepared in the event Krause cannot fight. Krause visits the doctor, and after some tests, he’s granted clearance for his bout with Taylor.

Krause is thrilled to “put the drama behind” and finally be able to place 100 percent of his focus on the upcoming fight.

Back at the “TUF” house, Elliott and Zak Cummings visit to spend some time with their friend, Krause, ahead of his fight. Many of the eliminated athletes begin to indulge in the free alcohol supply, and while outside some words are exchanged between Elliott and Team Garbrandt’s Seth Baczynski. That leads to Baczynski throwing a water bottle at Elliott just before the fighters return inside the house.

Baczynski and Julian Lane grow frustrated with Elliott’s talking, and they crowd the flyweight fighter. Lane repeatedly pushes Elliott, who begins laughing and mocks Lane’s infamous, “Let me bang, bro” moment. The situation essentially explodes with a lot of shoving and even some punch attempts. Eventually an extremely heated Lane and Justin Edwards force Elliott and Cummings to leave the house.

The frustration continues inside, though, with Baczynski confronting Krause over the fact his friends and training partners from outside the competition were at the house. There’s more physicality between them, with Baczynski pushing Krause in the face before being separated.

Taylor, who is scheduled to fight Krause later in the episode, is holding his upcoming opponent back and attempting to keep him calm. Krause eventually walks away from the situation and returns to his room where he can focus on his upcoming fight.

At the official weigh-ins, Krause and Taylor come in under the required 171-pound welterweight limit.

Fight day arrives, and after warmups take place in the locker rooms, both fighters enter the octagon for the final “TUF 25” semifinal bout.

Team Dillashaw’s James Krause (23-7) vs. Team Dillashaw’s Jesse Taylor (30-15)

Round 1 – Krause opens with a front kick to the body. Krause changes levels and scores with a single leg takedown. Taylor gets right back up and attacks with a takedown of his own. Krause attempts to scramble but Taylor keeps top position. Taylor lands a hard elbow and some short ground and pound while Krause begins primary submission attacks. Taylor’s top control is solid for the time being, but Krause catches him overly aggressive and sweeps into top position. Krause is now the one on top peppering his opponent with strikes before Taylor gives up his back. He turns over before Krause can do anything with it, and Taylor is on top. Taylor lands a flurry of hard blows, which forces Krause to work for an escape. He gets to his feet, but Taylor is glued to him and immediately secures another takedown. Taylor batters Krause from on top until the end of the round.

Round 2 – Krause opens with a body kick, but Taylor immediately goes for the takedown. After a brief struggle Taylor gets on top and moves Krause’s body toward the fence where he can work his strikes. Taylor advances to half guard and delivers a steady stream of offense, which prevents a stand-up and Krause is doing little to get off his back. There are several scramble, but each time Taylor finds a way to end up with top control. Krause is cut open on his forehead from Taylor’s strikes. Taylor puts in solid work for the remainder of the round to close out one of the most lopsided rounds of the season.

Round 3 – Krause throws a head kick to open the round, which falls just short. To no surprise, Taylor immediately closes the distance and makes good on a takedown near the fence. Krause is clearly more desperate to stay off his back, but Taylor’s strength and control is an utter nightmare. Taylor eventually advances to Krause’s back, then takes the mount. Taylor locks his arms under Krause’s neck for a guillotine choke and uses all his leverage until Krause goes unconscious, and the referee steps in to stop the fight.

Jesse Taylor def. James Krause via submission (guillotine choke) – Round 3

Taylor, who made the finals during Season 7 of “The Ultimate Fighter” but was pulled from the finale due to an outside-the-cage incident, is absolutely thrilled with his victory.

“I can’t believe this is happening again – incredible,” Taylor says after his victory. “I finally finished the job; it’s been nine years in the making. I feel exuberant. I couldn’t be more proud of myself. I couldn’t ask for more. It’s like a dream.”

Taylor joins Lima at The Ultimate Fighter 25 Finale on Friday’s FS1-televised card at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Early prelims stream on UFC Fight Pass.

Taylor and Lima have a staredown inside the octagon before the episode comes to a close.

Also see:

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


Filed under: News, UFC

'Shogun' Rua vs. Ovince Saint Preux 2 slated for September UFC Fight Night in Japan

Apr 22, 2017; Nashville, TN, USA; Ovince Saint Preux (red gloves) defeats Marcos Rogerio De Lima (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports Apr 22, 2017; Nashville, TN, USA; Ovince Saint Preux (red gloves) fights Marcos Rogerio De Lima (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports Apr 22, 2017; Nashville, TN, USA; Ovince Saint Preux (red gloves) fights Marcos Rogerio De Lima (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports Apr 22, 2017; Nashville, TN, USA; Ovince Saint Preux (red gloves) fights Marcos Rogerio De Lima (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports Apr 22, 2017; Nashville, TN, USA; Ovince Saint Preux (red gloves) fights Marcos Rogerio De Lima (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports Apr 22, 2017; Nashville, TN, USA; Ovince Saint Preux (red gloves) fights Marcos Rogerio De Lima (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports Apr 22, 2017; Nashville, TN, USA; Ovince Saint Preux (red gloves) fights Marcos Rogerio De Lima (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports Apr 22, 2017; Nashville, TN, USA; Ovince Saint Preux (red gloves) fights Marcos Rogerio De Lima (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports Apr 22, 2017; Nashville, TN, USA; Ovince Saint Preux (red gloves) defeats Marcos Rogerio De Lima (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports Apr 22, 2017; Nashville, TN, USA; Ovince Saint Preux (red gloves) defeats Marcos Rogerio De Lima (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports Apr 22, 2017; Nashville, TN, USA; Rogerio De Lima (blue gloves) after losing to Ovince Saint Preux during UFC Fight Night at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports Apr 22, 2017; Nashville, TN, USA; Rogerio De Lima (blue gloves) after losing to Ovince Saint Preux during UFC Fight Night at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports Apr 22, 2017; Nashville, TN, USA; Ovince Saint Preux (red gloves) defeats Marcos Rogerio De Lima (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports Apr 22, 2017; Nashville, TN, USA; Rogerio De Lima (blue gloves) after losing to Ovince Saint Preux during UFC Fight Night at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports Apr 22, 2017; Nashville, TN, USA; Ovince Saint Preux (red gloves) defeats Marcos Rogerio De Lima (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-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/fcmByJtq6VVKFsSKL8QcdS/256791", customAnalytics: true, title: "Saint Preux def. Lima", feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == "undefined") ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();

A PRIDE legend will be back in his old stomping grounds in September when Mauricio Rua returns to Japan for a rematch with Ovince Saint Preux.

The light heavyweight bout between Rua and Saint Preux will take place at the Sept. 23 UFC Fight Night event at Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan. Broadcast plans for the card have yet to be announced.

The UFC on Wednesday announced the bout.

Rua, No. 12 in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA light heavyweight rankings, is riding a three-fight winning streak since his 34-second TKO loss to No. 10-ranked Saint Preux at UFC Fight Night 56 in November 2014.

Saint Preux, meanwhile, has had an up-and-down run since his encounter with “Shogun.” He’s gone 2-4 in his past six fights, with a recent submission win over Marcos Rogerio de Lima to snap a three-fight losing skid.

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


Filed under: News, UFC

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