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MMAjunkie's best UFC photos from May-June 2017: Head kicks galore and an in-cage proposal

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Filed under: Featured, News, UFC, Videos

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

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

The organization put on a total of six events between May and June, including UFC 211 in Dallas; UFC Fight Night 109 in Stockholm; UFC 212 in Rio de Janeiro; UFC Fight Night 110 in Auckland, New Zealand; UFC Fight Night 111 in Singapore; and, finally, UFC Fight Night 112 in Oklahoma City, Okla.

USA TODAY Sports Images photographers Jerome Miron, Per Haljestam, Jason Silva, Simon Watts, David McIntyre and Sean Pokorny were on assignment for those events and captured the best moments in and out of the cage.

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

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

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

May 13, 2017; Dallas, TX, USA; Eddie Alvarez (red gloves) fights Dustin Poirier (blue gloves) during UFC 211 at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports May 13, 2017; Dallas, TX, USA; Dustin Poirier (blue gloves) sits on the ground after fighting Eddie Alvarez (red gloves) during UFC 211 at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports May 13, 2017; Dallas, TX, USA; Yair Rodriguez (blue gloves) looks around after being defeated by Yair Rodriguez (red gloves) during UFC 211 at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports May 13, 2017; Dallas, TX, USA; Joanna Jedrzejczyk (red gloves) fights Jessica Andrade (blue gloves) during UFC 211 at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports May 28, 2017; Stockholm, Stockholms Lan, Sweden; Pedro Munhoz (red gloves) fights Damian Stasiak (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Ericsson Globe. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports May 28, 2017; Stockholm, Stockholms Lan, Sweden; Abdul Razak Alhassan (red gloves) fights Omari Akhmedov (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Ericsson Globe. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports May 28, 2017; Stockholm, Stockholms Lan, Sweden; (Editors Note: Graphic Content) Peter Sobotta (red gloves) fights Ben Saunders (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Ericsson Globe. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports May 28, 2017; Stockholm, Stockholms Lan, Sweden; Volkan Oezdemir (red gloves) reacts after defeating Misha Cirkunov (not pictured) during UFC Fight Night at Ericsson Globe. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports May 28, 2017; Stockholm, Stockholms Lan, Sweden; Alexander Gustafsson (red gloves) fights Glover Teixeira (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Ericsson Globe. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports May 28, 2017; Stockholm, Stockholms Lan, Sweden; Alexander Gustafsson (red gloves) fights Glover Teixeira (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Ericsson Globe. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports May 28, 2017; Stockholm, Stockholms Lan, Sweden; Alexander Gustafsson (kneeling) proposes in the octagon to his girlfriend Moa Antonia Johansson (right) after defeating Glover Teixeira (not pictured) during UFC Fight Night at Ericsson Globe. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Jun 3, 2017; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Pualo Borrachinha (red gloves) fights Oluwale Bamgbose (blue gloves) during UFC 212 at Rio Olympic Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports Jun 3, 2017; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Nate Marquardt (blue gloves) reacts to fight against Victor Belfort (red gloves) during UFC 212 at Rio Olympic Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports Jun 3, 2017; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Karolina Kowalkiewicz (blue gloves) reacts to fight against Claudia Gadelha (red gloves) to fight against during UFC 212 at Rio Olympic Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports Jun 3, 2017; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Jose Aldo (red gloves) fights Max Hollway (blue gloves) during UFC 212 at Rio Olympic Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports Jun 3, 2017; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Jose Aldo (red gloves) fights Max Hollway (blue gloves) during UFC 212 at Rio Olympic Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports Jun 3, 2017; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Jose Aldo (red gloves) reacts to fight against Max Hollway (blue gloves) during UFC 212 at Rio Olympic Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports Jun 10, 2017; Auckland, NZ; Vinc Pichel (blue gloves) celebrates after defeating Damien Brown (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Spark Arena. Mandatory Credit: Simon Watts-USA TODAY Sports Jun 10, 2017; Auckland, NZ; Alexander Volkanovski (red gloves) fights against Mizuto Hirota (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Spark Arena. Mandatory Credit: Simon Watts-USA TODAY Sports Jun 10, 2017; Auckland, NZ; Dan Hooker (red gloves) fights against Ross Pearson (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Spark Arena. Mandatory Credit: Simon Watts-USA TODAY Sports Jun 10, 2017; Auckland, NZ; Ion Cutelaba (red gloves) reacts after defeating Henrique da Silva (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Spark Arena. Mandatory Credit: Simon Watts-USA TODAY Sports Jun 10, 2017; Auckland, NZ; Dan Hooker (red gloves) fights against Ross Pearson (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Spark Arena. Mandatory Credit: Simon Watts-USA TODAY Sports Jun 10, 2017; Auckland, NZ; Derrick Lewis (red gloves) fights against Mark Hunt (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Spark Arena. Mandatory Credit: Simon Watts-USA TODAY Sports Jun 10, 2017; Auckland, NZ; Mark Hunt (blue gloves) reacts after defeating Derrick Lewis (not pictured) during UFC Fight Night at Spark Arena. Mandatory Credit: Simon Watts-USA TODAY Sports Jun 17, 2017; Singapore, Singapore; Justin Scoggins (red gloves) reacts after his match against Ulka Sasaki (not pictured) during UFC Fight Night at Singapore Indoor Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David G. McIntyre-USA TODAY Sports Jun 17, 2017; Singapore, Singapore; Rolando Dy (blue gloves) competes against Alex Caceres (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Singapore Indoor Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David G. McIntyre-USA TODAY Sports Jun 17, 2017; Singapore, Singapore; Marcin Tybura (blue gloves) competes against Andrei Arlovski (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Singapore Indoor Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David G. McIntyre-USA TODAY Sports Jun 17, 2017; Singapore, Singapore; Colby Covington (blue gloves) reacts after his fight against Dong Hyun Kim (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Singapore Indoor Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David G. McIntyre-USA TODAY Sports Jun 17, 2017; Singapore, Singapore; Bethe Correia (blue gloves) competes against Holly Holm (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Singapore Indoor Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David G. McIntyre-USA TODAY Sports Jun 17, 2017; Singapore, Singapore; Bethe Correia (blue gloves) competes against Holly Holm (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Singapore Indoor Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David G. McIntyre-USA TODAY Sports Jun 25, 2017; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Clay Guida (red gloves ) reacts after beating Erik Kock (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sean Pokorny-USA TODAY Sports Jun 25, 2017; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; BJ Penn (red gloves ) fights Dennis Siver (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sean Pokorny-USA TODAY Sports Jun 25, 2017; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Tim Means (red gloves) fights Alex Garcia (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sean Pokorny-USA TODAY Sports Jun 25, 2017; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Felice Herring (red gloves) fights Justine Kish (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sean Pokorny-USA TODAY Sports Jun 25, 2017; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Tim Boetsch (red gloves) fights Johny Hendricks (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sean Pokorny-USA TODAY Sports Jun 25, 2017; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Tim Boetsch (red gloves) fights Johny Hendricks (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sean Pokorny-USA TODAY Sports Jun 25, 2017; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Michael Chiesa (red gloves) reacts after being called for a tap out Kevin Lee (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sean Pokorny-USA TODAY Sports jQuery.extend( window._usmgOptions,{ scriptUrl: "https://s2.wp.com/wp-content/themes/vip/usatoday-plugins/api-galleries/assets", analyticsCallback: "galleryAnalytics", fullscreenUrl: "http://mmajunkie.com/sigallery/uxQYxuaJvSonaWRBh9kA2H/294974", customAnalytics: true, title: "Best UFC Photos of 2017: May-June", feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == "undefined") ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();
Filed under: Featured, News, UFC, Videos

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

John Kavanagh doesn’t seem bothered by the growing narrative Conor McGregor needs to be booked for a fight soon or give up the UFC lightweight championship.

UFC President Dana White said this past week that McGregor (21-3 MMA, 9-1 UFC), who hasn’t competed in MMA since winning the 155-pound belt from Eddie Alvarez at UFC 205 in November 2016, must soon give a timeframe for his return or the division would have to “move on.”

With interim UFC lightweight champ Tony Ferguson (23-3 MMA, 13-1 UFC) awaiting a unification bout with McGregor, and unbeaten contender Khabib Nurmagomedov (25-0 MMA, 9-0 UFC) eager to fight either, there’s a growing discontent with the many unknowns surrounding “The Notorious.”

RelatedKhabib Nurmagomedov after UFC 219 win: Give me Conor McGregor, Tony Ferguson on same night

Kavanagh, who is McGregor’s longtime head coach at SBG Ireland in Dublin, conducted an interview with BBC Northern Ireland and was asked for an update on his fighter. He wasn’t convinced the belt is going anywhere.

“Conor’s still the champion. They can say what they want – I have his belt at home, actually,” Kavanagh said. “He’s still the champion. He’s making the decision on what makes sense for the next move. It’s kind of early days yet. We’re just watching how that has developed while he’s been away; he’s had other going things on. Let’s see what happens in 2018. I’m excited about it, anyway.”

Although McGregor hasn’t seen UFC action in more than 14 months, he did have a high-profile boxing match with Floyd Mayweather in August. He lost that fight by TKO in Round 10, but received a massive payday which has contributed to his layoff.

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

In recent months, McGregor has been in the headlines for many reasons unrelated to his own fighting career. Kavanagh said 29-year-old is now back in the gym often, though, and that’s likely a promising sign.

“I’m happy to see him back just regular training,” Kavanagh said. “He had a lot going on in his life, a lot of stuff outside of fighting was going on in his life. He seems to be getting the hang of all that. He’s back training almost everyday now.”

And for anyone concerned about McGregor potentially delaying his UFC return even further in favor of pursuing another boxing match, Kavanagh said that won’t be the case if he has his druthers. However, he also wouldn’t reveal much insight into McGregor’s real plans.

“I think 2018 will be another big year for us,” Kavanagh said. “Exactly what that is, I don’t know yet. The plan is forming, but as they say, stay tuned. … My opinion, I’ll be pushing very hard for MMA. The boxing was a nice detour from what we’ve done, but mixed martial arts is my passion. If I have anything to do with it, he’ll be in the octagon this year.”

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

Nov 12, 2016; New York, NY, USA; Conor McGregor (blue gloves) celebrates with his two championship belts after defeating Eddie Alvarez (red gloves) in their lightweight title bout during UFC 205 at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports Nov 12, 2016; New York, NY, USA; Conor McGregor (blue gloves) fights Eddie Alvarez (red gloves) in their lightweight title bout during UFC 205 at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports Nov 12, 2016; New York, NY, USA; Conor McGregor (blue gloves) fights Eddie Alvarez (red gloves) in their lightweight title bout during UFC 205 at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports Nov 12, 2016; New York, NY, USA; Conor McGregor (blue gloves) fights Eddie Alvarez (red gloves) in their lightweight title bout during UFC 205 at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports Nov 12, 2016; New York, NY, USA; Conor McGregor (blue gloves) fights Eddie Alvarez (red gloves) in their lightweight title bout during UFC 205 at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports Nov 12, 2016; New York, NY, USA; Conor McGregor (blue gloves) fights Eddie Alvarez (red gloves) in their lightweight title bout during UFC 205 at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports Nov 12, 2016; New York, NY, USA; Conor McGregor (blue gloves) fights Eddie Alvarez (red gloves) in their lightweight title bout during UFC 205 at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports Nov 12, 2016; New York, NY, USA; Conor McGregor (blue gloves) fights Eddie Alvarez (red gloves) in their lightweight title bout during UFC 205 at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports Nov 12, 2016; New York, NY, USA; Conor McGregor (blue gloves) fights Eddie Alvarez (red gloves) in their lightweight title bout during UFC 205 at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports Nov 12, 2016; New York, NY, USA; Conor McGregor (blue gloves) fights Eddie Alvarez (red gloves) in their lightweight title bout during UFC 205 at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports Nov 12, 2016; New York, NY, USA; Conor McGregor (blue gloves) fights Eddie Alvarez (red gloves) in their lightweight title bout during UFC 205 at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports Nov 12, 2016; New York, NY, USA; Conor McGregor (blue gloves) fights Eddie Alvarez (red gloves) in their lightweight title bout during UFC 205 at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports Nov 12, 2016; New York, NY, USA; Conor McGregor (blue gloves) fights Eddie Alvarez (red gloves) in their lightweight title bout during UFC 205 at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports Nov 12, 2016; New York, NY, USA; Conor McGregor (blue gloves) fights Eddie Alvarez (red gloves) in their lightweight title bout during UFC 205 at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports Nov 12, 2016; New York, NY, USA; Conor McGregor (blue gloves) fights Eddie Alvarez (red gloves) in their lightweight title bout during UFC 205 at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports Nov 12, 2016; New York, NY, USA; Eddie Alvarez (red gloves) after losing to Conor McGregor in their lightweight title bout during UFC 205 at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports Nov 12, 2016; New York, NY, USA; Conor McGregor (blue gloves) celebrates after defeating Eddie Alvarez (red gloves) in their lightweight title bout during UFC 205 at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports Nov 12, 2016; New York, NY, USA; Conor McGregor (blue gloves) celebrates after defeating Eddie Alvarez (red gloves) in their lightweight title bout during UFC 205 at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports Nov 12, 2016; New York, NY, USA; Conor McGregor (blue gloves) celebrates after defeating Eddie Alvarez (red gloves) in their lightweight title bout during UFC 205 at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports Nov 12, 2016; New York, NY, USA; Conor McGregor (blue gloves) celebrates after defeating Eddie Alvarez (red gloves) in their lightweight title bout during UFC 205 at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports Nov 12, 2016; New York, NY, USA; Conor McGregor (blue gloves) celebrates after defeating Eddie Alvarez (red gloves) in their lightweight title bout during UFC 205 at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports Nov 12, 2016; New York, NY, USA; Conor McGregor (blue gloves) celebrates after defeating Eddie Alvarez (red gloves) in their lightweight title bout during UFC 205 at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports Nov 12, 2016; New York, NY, USA; Conor McGregor (blue gloves) celebrates after defeating Eddie Alvarez (red gloves) in their lightweight title bout during UFC 205 at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports Nov 12, 2016; New York, NY, USA; Conor McGregor (blue gloves) with his championship belt after defeating Eddie Alvarez (red gloves) in their lightweight title bout during UFC 205 at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports Nov 12, 2016; New York, NY, USA; Conor McGregor (blue gloves) celebrates with his two championship belts after defeating Eddie Alvarez (red gloves) in their lightweight title bout during UFC 205 at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports Nov 12, 2016; New York, NY, USA; Conor McGregor (blue gloves) celebrates with his two championship belts after defeating Eddie Alvarez (red gloves) in their lightweight title bout during UFC 205 at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports Nov 12, 2016; New York, NY, USA; Conor McGregor (blue gloves) celebrates with his two championship belts after defeating Eddie Alvarez (red gloves) in their lightweight title bout during UFC 205 at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports Nov 12, 2016; New York, NY, USA; Conor McGregor (blue gloves) celebrates with his two championship belts after defeating Eddie Alvarez (red gloves) in their lightweight title bout during UFC 205 at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports Nov 12, 2016; New York, NY, USA; Conor McGregor (blue gloves) celebrates with his two championship belts after defeating Eddie Alvarez (red gloves) in their lightweight title bout during UFC 205 at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports Nov 12, 2016; New York, NY, USA; Conor McGregor (blue gloves) celebrates after defeating Eddie Alvarez (red gloves) in their lightweight title bout during UFC 205 at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports Nov 12, 2016; New York, NY, USA; Conor McGregor (blue gloves) celebrates with his two championship belts after defeating Eddie Alvarez (red gloves) in their lightweight title bout during UFC 205 at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-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/vrVi9We5U25a7XmMU7AJpW/295018", customAnalytics: true, title: "McGregor def. Alvarez", feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == "undefined") ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();
Filed under: Featured, News, UFC

Best Bellator photos from May-June 2017: A rare double knockdown in New York

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

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

The flourishing organization put on just two events between May and June of this past year. But one of them was the biggest in company history. May’s Bellator 179 event in London set the table for Bellator 180/Bellator NYC in June, which marked the company’s debut at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

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

For more of Bellator’s best images from 2017:

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


Filed under: Bellator, Featured, News

Donald Cerrone not thinking about 3-fight losing skid ahead of UFC Fight Night 126 headliner

Donald Cerrone hasn’t been the type to worry about much throughout his UFC career. Even on a three-fight losing skid, his mentality hasn’t changed.

After going his entire career without dropping consecutive fights, Cerrone (32-10 MMA, 19-7 UFC) has now lost three straight. He could potentially be walking on dangerous grounds going into Feb. 18’s UFC Fight Night 126 headliner against Yancy Medeiros (15-4 MMA, 6-4 UFC), which takes place at Frank Erwin Center in Austin, Texas, and airs on FS1 following early prelims on UFC Fight Pass. “Cowboy,” however, doesn’t see it that way.

“Everyone asks me in interviews, they’re like, ‘Dude, you’re on a three-fight losing streak, how is that mentally affecting you?'” Cerrone said on the “UFC Unfiltered” podcast with Matt Serra and Jim Norton. “I didn’t event think about it until you (expletives) brought it up.”

Following a knockout loss to Darren Till at UFC Fight Night 118 in October, Cerrone said he wanted to return to the lightweight division and have a less frequent fight schedule. His past seven fights have taken place at 170 pounds, and although a drop in weight is still in his plans, Cerrone said it’s not happening for at least one more fight.

“I’m like 174, 175 (pounds) right now,” Cerrone said. “That’s my walk-around weight. I want to go back to 155, but my next fight is at 170, of course. I mentioned to UFC I want to go back to 155, and they said, ‘We’ll talk about it and see what’s going on after this fight.’ Who knows? I’m not here making excuses and saying it’s the weight or it’s this or it’s that. I’ve just had a bad run of luck, I guess, with getting my ass whipped.”

RelatedDonald Cerrone talks Jackson-Wink MMA's skid, '(expletive)' Cris Cyborg social media incident

Despite his skid, Cerrone didn’t attempt to pursue an easy fight to help him rebound. He said he was first proposed a matchup against Matt Brown (21-16 MMA, 14-10 UFC), who he knocked out at UFC 206 in December 2016, but when that fight didn’t come together, he immediately took the matchup with Medeiros.

“I thought the fight was supposed to be with Matt Brown,” Cerrone said. “Matt Brown called the UFC and asked for the fight and said he wanted to do it, and originally the fight was me and Matt Brown, Austin main event. I said, ‘I want to go down to 155, but (expletive) it, whatever.’ Then they said for Matt, the date didn’t work for him. I don’t know what the excuse was. So now, here I am, main event in Austin by myself. Then Yancy’s like, ‘I’ll do it.’ So I said, ‘OK, here we go.'”

Medeiros will counter Cerrone’s three-fight losing skid with a three-fight winning streak of his own, including a “Fight of the Year” contender win against Alex Oliveira at UFC 218. The two sides are trending in different directions at the moment, but Cerrone said he hopes to turn it around.

“He’s on a three-fight win I’m on a three-fight lose,” Cerrone said. “What the (expletive)? Somebody’s streak must go.”

For more on UFC Fight Night 126, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

Oct 21, 2017; Gdansk, Poland; Darren Till (blue gloves) defeats Donald Cerrone (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Ergo Arena. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Oct 21, 2017; Gdansk, Poland; against Donald Cerrone (red gloves) before his fight against Darren Till during UFC Fight Night at Ergo Arena. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Oct 21, 2017; Gdansk, Poland; Darren Till (blue gloves) before his fight against Donald Cerrone (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Ergo Arena. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Oct 21, 2017; Gdansk, Poland; Darren Till (blue gloves) fights against Donald Cerrone (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Ergo Arena. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Oct 21, 2017; Gdansk, Poland; Darren Till (blue gloves) fights against Donald Cerrone (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Ergo Arena. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Oct 21, 2017; Gdansk, Poland; Darren Till (blue gloves) fights against Donald Cerrone (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Ergo Arena. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Oct 21, 2017; Gdansk, Poland; Darren Till (blue gloves) fights against Donald Cerrone (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Ergo Arena. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Oct 21, 2017; Gdansk, Poland; Darren Till (blue gloves) defeats Donald Cerrone (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Ergo Arena. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Oct 21, 2017; Gdansk, Poland; Darren Till (blue gloves) defeats Donald Cerrone (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Ergo Arena. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Oct 21, 2017; Gdansk, Poland; Darren Till (blue gloves) defeats Donald Cerrone (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Ergo Arena. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports jQuery.extend( window._usmgOptions,{ scriptUrl: "https://s2.wp.com/wp-content/themes/vip/usatoday-plugins/api-galleries/assets", analyticsCallback: "galleryAnalytics", fullscreenUrl: "http://mmajunkie.com/sigallery/UZsamSNiLxzY8ii5puwMNW/294949", customAnalytics: true, title: "Till def. Cerrone", feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == "undefined") ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();
Filed under: Featured, News, UFC

Check out Emil Meek's vlog series ahead of UFC-St. Louis clash with Kamaru Usman

It’s been a process for the fight to come together, but on Sunday, Emil Meek will finally share the octagon with Kamaru Usman when the pair face off at UFC Fight Night 124.

The matchup between Meek (9-2-1 MMA, 1-0 UFC) and Usman (11-1 MMA, 6-0 UFC) has been an on-again, off-again rollercoaster, but the welterweight will get their chance to throw down at UFC Fight Night 124, which takes place at Scottrade Center in St. Louis and airs on FS1 following early prelims on UFC Fight Pass.

It’s an important fight for the 170-pound division, and particular for Meek, who gets a chance to derail a heavily hype up-and-comer in the division in what will be just his second octagon appearance.

It’s been a challenging road for Meek to get to UFC Fight Night 124. It’s been more than a year since he won his UFC debut against Jordan Mein at UFC 206, but Meek is giving fans an inside glimpse at his life ahead of his return with a video blog series.

Watch all eight parts of the series, released over the past two-plus weeks, below.

For complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 124, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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

Dec 10, 2016; Toronto, ON, CAN; Emil Meek (blue gloves) reacts to fight with Jordon Mein (red gloves) during UFC 206 at Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports Dec 10, 2016; Toronto, ON, CAN; Emil Meek (blue gloves) reacts to fight with Jordon Mein (red gloves) during UFC 206 at Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports Dec 10, 2016; Toronto, ON, CAN; Emil Meek (blue gloves) reacts to fight with Jordon Mein (red gloves) during UFC 206 at Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports Dec 10, 2016; Toronto, ON, CAN; Jordon Mein (red gloves) fights Emil Meek (blue gloves) during UFC 206 at Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports Dec 10, 2016; Toronto, ON, CAN; Jordon Mein (red gloves) fights Emil Meek (blue gloves) during UFC 206 at Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports Dec 10, 2016; Toronto, ON, CAN; Jordon Mein (red gloves) fights Emil Meek (blue gloves) during UFC 206 at Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports Dec 10, 2016; Toronto, ON, CAN; Jordon Mein (red gloves) fights Emil Meek (blue gloves) during UFC 206 at Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports Dec 10, 2016; Toronto, ON, CAN; Emil Meek (blue gloves) enters the arena during UFC 206 at Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-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/A9mywvREWmC4GDEDBM2Hm4/294979", customAnalytics: true, title: "Meek def. Mein", feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == "undefined") ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();
Filed under: Blue Corner, News, UFC, Videos

Joe Rogan: Unbeaten Khabib Nurmagomedov is 'most terrifying lightweight contender'

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Filed under: Featured, News, UFC

Longtime UFC commentator Joe Rogan has nothing but praise for Khabib Nurmagomedov following his blowout performance against Edson Barboza at UFC 219.

Nurmagomedov (25-0 MMA, 9-0 UFC) returned to action from a nearly 14-month layoff at the Dec. 30 event in Las Vegas and provided a stern reminder of his ability. He completely dominated Barboza (19-5 MMA, 13-5 UFC) for three rounds, winning a unanimous decision by scores of 30-25, 30-25 and 30-24.

RelatedUFC 219 post-event facts: Khabib Nurmagomedov hits incredible 25-0 mark

The Brazilian was completely at the mercy of Nurmagomedov’s game. “The Eagle” said he used the octagon time to get himself back in a proper groove after so much time off, and although a finish would have been nice, Rogan explained on a recent edition of the “JRE MMA Show” podcast that the 15-minute performance was just as frightening as a quick knockout or submission.

“He’s just on such another level that the odds of beating him drop significantly after the first minute-and-a-half,” Rogan said. “You saw the look on Barboza’s face: Two minutes in and he’s trying to get up. You saw the look on his face and it’s like, ‘(Expletive), how am I gong to do deal with this?’ It’s just so next level.”

In the time since Nurmagomedov got his head raised at UFC 219, the 155-pound title picture has become even more intriguing. The Russian got into a Twitter feud with UFC lightweight champ Conor McGregor (21-3 MMA, 9-1 UFC), but Nurmagomedov also said he’s more interested in fighting interim titleholder Tony Ferguson (23-3 MMA, 13-1 UFC), who he has been scheduled to fight on three separate occasions, but would also face both champs on the same night if he could.

RelatedKhabib Nurmagomedov camped out at Dana White's car after dominant UFC 219 win

The natural order of the weight class should see McGregor fight Ferguson in a unification bout, while Nurmagomedov gets a crack at the winner. It remains to be seen if that’s how the situation will play out, but Rogan made it clear he feels anyone who steps in the octagon with Nurmagomedov is going to have a lot to worry about.

“Khabib, after this performance, has set it up to a place where he’s the most terrifying lightweight contender in the world,” Rogan said. “Then you have Tony Ferguson, whose a (expletive), and has the interim championship, then you have Conor – who knows what happens with him? I think the UFC’s going to give him some time, let the holidays pass, see what the (expletive) happens and then make some moves.”

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

Dec 30, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Khabib Nurmagomedov before fighting Edson Barboza during UFC 219 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports Dec 30, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Khabib Nurmagomedov fights Edson Barboza during UFC 219 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports Dec 30, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Edson Barboza lands a kick as Khabib Nurmagomedov defends during UFC 219 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports Dec 30, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Edson Barboza moves in with a hit as Khabib Nurmagomedov defends during UFC 219 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports Dec 30, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Khabib Nurmagomedov moves in with a hit against Edson Barboza during UFC 219 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports Dec 30, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Khabib Nurmagomedov moves in with a hit against Edson Barboza during UFC 219 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports Dec 30, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Khabib Nurmagomedov moves in against Edson Barboza during UFC 219 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports Dec 30, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Khabib Nurmagomedov moves in against Edson Barboza during UFC 219 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports Dec 30, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Khabib Nurmagomedov pins Edson Barboza to the mat during UFC 219 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports Dec 30, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Khabib Nurmagomedov pins Edson Barboza to the mat during UFC 219 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports Dec 30, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Khabib Nurmagomedov lands punches against Edson Barboza during UFC 219 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports Dec 30, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Khabib Nurmagomedov lands punches against Edson Barboza during UFC 219 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports Dec 30, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Khabib Nurmagomedov lands punches against Edson Barboza during UFC 219 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports Dec 30, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Khabib Nurmagomedov applies a chokehold against Edson Barboza during UFC 219 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports Dec 30, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Khabib Nurmagomedov lands punches against Edson Barboza during UFC 219 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports jQuery.extend( window._usmgOptions,{ scriptUrl: "https://s2.wp.com/wp-content/themes/vip/usatoday-plugins/api-galleries/assets", analyticsCallback: "galleryAnalytics", fullscreenUrl: "http://mmajunkie.com/sigallery/78MBnsBgMaD7THB69QSSuf/294976", customAnalytics: true, title: "Nurmagomedov def. Barboza", feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == "undefined") ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();
Filed under: Featured, News, UFC

For Matheus Nicolau, promising UFC career launched by Wanderlei-Sakuraba VHS tape

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Filed under: News, Radio Highlight, UFC, Videos

Before he chose his current profession, Matheus Nicolau and his brother ran across an old VHS tape that eventually solidified his career choice.

It contained a 2001 PRIDE fight between Wanderlei Silva and Kazushi Sakuraba – the first of three between the MMA legends.

When it came time to think about his own future, a young Nicolau (13-1-1 MMA, 3-0 UFC), who continued his undefeated octagon run with a recent and dominant decision victory over flyweight Louis Smolka (11-5 MMA, 5-5 UFC) at UFC 219, popped in the tape and watched in awe. It was 98 seconds of pure violence.

RelatedUFC 219 results: Matheus Nicolau swarms and dominates Louis Smolka

“Wanderlei is liking using nasty knees and stuff, like kicking the head on the ground and stuff and everything,” Nicolau recently told MMAjunkie Radio. “And man, that for me was like, ‘I want to do that. I want to do that one day.'”

The 24-year-old Brazilian prospect was also familiar with the famed Gracie clan, who bought Brazil and its version of jiu-jitsu to the world. But with Silva, he saw how grappling and muay Thai could be combined and create a seemingly unstoppable fighting style.

“I started training jiu-jitsu, but since the beginning when I started jiu-jitsu, I had it in my mind, ‘Hey, I want to do MMA. I want to try MMA,'” he said. “Back in the day, it wasn’t even MMA. We called it vale tudo.”

And it was all due to the savage fighting style he saw Silva successfully implement. Sure, he soon learned to appreciate the likes of Georges St-Pierre and longtime training partner/former UFC featherweight titleholder Jose Aldo, but for Nicolau, watching that Silva-Sakuraba tape proved to be a life-changer.

Nicolau, who turned pro as a 17-year-old, was a semifinalist on “The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil 4” in 2015. Although he’s registered just one official UFC fight per year from 2015-2017, the win over Smolka gave him some serious momentum heading into 2018.

RelatedUFC 219 winner Matheus Nicolau 'grew up a lot' during USADA suspension, wants flyweight contender fight

The goal now? Ranked opponents, preferably non-Brazilian ones since he trains with and knows so many fighters from his home country.

“I want a gringo and a top-ranked guy,” he said. “I can tell you that for sure.”

One possibility? Former title challenger Henry Cejudo (12-2 MMA, 6-2 UFC), who’s No. 3 in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA flyweight rankings. The Olympic gold-medalist wrestler is coming off back-to-back wins over Wilson Reis and Sergio Pettis.

“I’m ready for whoever,” Nicolau said. “I’ve been training like a champion since I was 17, and I really believe I’m ready for whoever. Let’s see who the UFC has for me, and let’s see if (Cejudo) wants it.

“I’m open. Cejudo would be a huge challenge for my career, and that’s what I’m looking for.”

For complete coverage of UFC 219, check out the UFC Events 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, Brian “Goze” Garcia and Dan Tom. For more information or to download past episodes, go to www.mmajunkie.com/radio.

Dec 30, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Matheus Nicolau defends against Louis Smolka during UFC 219 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports Dec 30, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Matheus Nicolau applies a hold against Louis Smolka during UFC 219 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports Dec 30, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Matheus Nicolau moves in with a hit against Louis Smolka during UFC 219 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports Dec 30, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Matheus Nicolau moves in with a hit against Louis Smolka during UFC 219 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports Dec 30, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Matheus Nicolau moves in with a hit against Louis Smolka during UFC 219 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports Dec 30, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Matheus Nicolau applies a hold against Louis Smolka during UFC 219 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports Dec 30, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Matheus Nicolau lands a hit against Louis Smolka during UFC 219 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports Dec 30, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Matheus Nicolau moves in with a hit against Louis Smolka during UFC 219 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports Dec 30, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Matheus Nicolau defends against Louis Smolka during UFC 219 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports Dec 30, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Matheus Nicolau defends against Louis Smolka during UFC 219 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports Dec 30, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Matheus Nicolau defends against Louis Smolka during UFC 219 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports Dec 30, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Matheus Nicolau applies a hold against Louis Smolka during UFC 219 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports Dec 30, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Matheus Nicolau hugs Louis Smolka following their match during UFC 219 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports jQuery.extend( window._usmgOptions,{ scriptUrl: "https://s2.wp.com/wp-content/themes/vip/usatoday-plugins/api-galleries/assets", analyticsCallback: "galleryAnalytics", fullscreenUrl: "http://mmajunkie.com/sigallery/yogtaznLbSJ3TNcgJPibrd/294938", customAnalytics: true, title: "Nicolau def. Smolka", feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == "undefined") ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();
Filed under: News, Radio Highlight, UFC, Videos

MMA's week out of the cage: T.J. Dillashaw's new arrival, Ian McCall's engagement, New Year's Eve extras

Social media has become a significant part of the sporting landscape. But few, if any, professional sports match the level of interaction and personal access provided by MMA.

In an individual competition in which nearly every athlete is chasing the same goal of financial success and championship glory, it’s important for fighters to provide insight into their lives in order to connect with fans and gain followings.

Although the life of a fighter often can be mundane and repetitive, there still are moments of interest that take place outside the cage, ring or training room. Here are some of the most interesting of those occurrences from the past week.

* * * *

New Year’s Eve extras

Animals of Instagram

Weekly eats

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Filed under: Bellator, Blue Corner, News, UFC

MMAjunkie's 'Submission of the Year' for 2017: An insane finish makes history

Oct 7, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Demetrious Johnson (red gloves) reacts after defeating Ray Borg (blue gloves) during UFC 216 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports Oct 7, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Demetrious Johnson (red gloves) is seen before his fight against Ray Borg (not shown) during UFC 216 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports Oct 7, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Demetrious Johnson (red gloves) kicks Ray Borg (blue gloves) during the first round during UFC 216 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports Oct 7, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Demetrious Johnson (red gloves) kicks Ray Borg (blue gloves) during the first round during UFC 216 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports Oct 7, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Ray Borg (blue gloves) fights Demetrious Johnson (red gloves) during the first round during UFC 216 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports Oct 7, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Demetrious Johnson (red gloves) competes against Ray Borg (blue gloves) during the first round during UFC 216 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports Oct 7, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Demetrious Johnson (red gloves) fights against Ray Borg (blue gloves) during the second round during UFC 216 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports Oct 7, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Demetrious Johnson (red gloves) punches Ray Borg (blue gloves) during the third round during UFC 216 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports Oct 7, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Demetrious Johnson (red gloves) fights against Ray Borg (blue gloves) during the third round during UFC 216 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports Oct 7, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Demetrious Johnson (red gloves) competes against Ray Borg (blue gloves) during the third round during UFC 216 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports Oct 7, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Demetrious Johnson (red gloves) fights against Ray Borg (blue gloves) during the fourth round during UFC 216 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports Oct 7, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Demetrious Johnson (red gloves) fights Ray Borg (blue gloves) during the fourth round during UFC 216 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports Oct 7, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Demetrious Johnson (red gloves) competes against Ray Borg (blue gloves) during the fourth round during UFC 216 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports Oct 7, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Demetrious Johnson (red gloves) punches Ray Borg (blue gloves) during the fifth round during UFC 216 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports Oct 7, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Demetrious Johnson (red gloves) picks up Ray Borg (blue gloves) during the fifth round during UFC 216 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports Oct 7, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Demetrious Johnson (red gloves) picks up Ray Borg (blue gloves) during the fifth round during UFC 216 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports Oct 7, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Demetrious Johnson (red gloves) picks up Ray Borg (blue gloves) during the fifth round during UFC 216 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports Oct 7, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Demetrious Johnson (red gloves) puts Ray Borg (blue gloves) in an armbar during the fifth round during UFC 216 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports Oct 7, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Demetrious Johnson (red gloves) puts Ray Borg (blue gloves) in an armbar during the fifth round during UFC 216 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports Oct 7, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Demetrious Johnson (red gloves) puts Ray Borg (blue gloves) in an armbar during the fifth round during UFC 216 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports Oct 7, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Demetrious Johnson (red gloves) puts Ray Borg (blue gloves) in an armbar during the fifth round during UFC 216 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports Oct 7, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Demetrious Johnson (red gloves) puts Ray Borg (blue gloves) in an armbar during the fifth round during UFC 216 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports Oct 7, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Demetrious Johnson (red gloves) puts Ray Borg (blue gloves) in an armbar during the fifth round during UFC 216 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports Oct 7, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Demetrious Johnson (red gloves) puts Ray Borg (blue gloves) in an armbar during the fifth round during UFC 216 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports Oct 7, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Demetrious Johnson (red gloves) puts Ray Borg (blue gloves) in an armbar during the fifth round during UFC 216 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports Oct 7, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Ray Borg (blue gloves) reacts after being defeated by Demetrious Johnson (not shown) during UFC 216 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports Oct 7, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Demetrious Johnson (red gloves) reacts after defeating Ray Borg (blue gloves) during UFC 216 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports Oct 7, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Demetrious Johnson (red gloves) reacts after defeating Ray Borg (blue gloves) during UFC 216 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports jQuery.extend( window._usmgOptions,{ scriptUrl: "https://s2.wp.com/wp-content/themes/vip/usatoday-plugins/api-galleries/assets", analyticsCallback: "galleryAnalytics", fullscreenUrl: "http://mmajunkie.com/sigallery/6MMse4cmK35LaEcs9B39fh/294532", customAnalytics: true, title: "Johnson def. 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With another action-packed year of MMA in the books, MMAjunkie takes a look at the best submissions from January to December. Here are the top five and the winner of MMAjunkie’s “Submission of the Year” for 2017.

* * * *

Honorable mentions

5. Georges St-Pierre def. Michael Bisping at UFC 217

Georges St-Pierre (26-2 MMA, 20-2 UFC) promised to make history against Michael Bisping (30-9 MMA, 20-9 UFC), and he delivered by becoming just the fourth fighter in UFC history to win belts in two weight classes when he claimed the middleweight belt at UFC 217 in November.

Former longtime welterweight champ St-Pierre was successful in his return from a four-year layoff when he defeated Bisping by third-round technical submission via rear-naked choke, tying the record for most wins in UFC history.

4. Aleksei Oleinik def. Viktor Pesta at UFC Fight Night 103

Aleksei Oleinik (55-11-1 MMA, 4-2 UFC) became the first fight in UFC history to finish a fight with a rare Ezekiel choke when he tapped a visibly stunned Viktor Pesta (12-4 MMA, 1-4 UFC) in the first round.

Amazingly, it was the 11th Ezekiel choke finish in Oleinik’s lengthy career. But it’s a submission that’s more common in jiu-jitsu tournaments since it involves using the gi to tighten up the choke. He did it at UFC Fight Night 103 in January, though, and put himself on the radar in the heavyweight division.

3. Brian Ortega def. Cub Swanson at UFC Fight Night 123

The book on Brian Ortega (13-0 MMA, 5-0 UFC) is if he gets your neck, it’s pretty much game over. Cub Swanson (25-8 MMA, 10-4 UFC) found that out against the unbeaten featherweight contender at UFC Fight Night 123 in December.

Swanson was having some success in the standup game against his opponent, but when Ortega latched onto his neck in the second round with a brilliant guillotine choke, Swanson had to tap.

2. Brett Johns def. Joe Soto at TUF 26 Finale

Welsh bantamweight Brett Johns (15-0 MMA, 4-0 UFC) kept his perfect record intact at December’s The Ultimate Fighter 26 Finale event, needing just 30 seconds to tap out a legitimate grappler in Joe Soto (18-6 MMA, 3-4 UFC) with a technique used just once prior in UFC history.

Soto turned to his wrestling early in the bantamweight bout, but it was his undoing. As Johns stuffed the takedown, he expertly locked his left leg around his opponent’s as they transitioned to the floor. With the limb secure, Johns finished the setup, sat back and torqued the leg for the quick finish via calf-slicer.

* * * *

Winner: Demetrious Johnson def. Ray Borg at UFC 216

In what may go down as the slickest finish in his record-breaking title reign, UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson (27-2-1 MMA, 15-1-1 UFC) tapped Ray Borg (11-3 MMA, 5-3 UFC) with a fifth-round armbar.

Just when it appeared Johnson was going to cruise to an easy decision win, “Mighty Mouse” lifted Borg, grabbed his left arm in one fluid motion, and got a tap-out from an armbar at the 3:15 mark of the fifth round.

Johnson was listening when Borg said in a pre-fight interview he liked to upset his opponents’ balance to initiate winning scrambles. When he saw an opportunity to do the same, Johnson seized it and pulled off his eye-popping armbar.

“A couple of weeks ago, he was saying when somebody’s planted, you have to shift their weight, and when they shift their weight, they’re light,” Johnson said following the pay-per-view event at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. “So I kneed him, and then I shook his weight. I shifted his weight, and when he shifted, he went back and threw and elbow, and I was like, ‘Got you.'”

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It wasn’t the first time Johnson had pulled off such a move, which he dubbed the “Mighty Armbar,” as improvisational as it seemed. He had pulled it off several times in practice for UFC 215, where he was originally scheduled for his try at the all-time UFC record before Borg fell ill and was forced to withdraw the day before the fight.

But the general public never knew it was coming since Johnson has a strict rule of secrecy when it comes to his work in the gym.

“You see a lot of people that are doing their (video blogs), but I don’t show any of my training,” he said. “I just don’t do it. It’s none of your guys’ business what I’m doing in the gym. But we do have the ‘(UFC) Embedded’ crew come out there, and I show my warmup, and they’re like, ‘Dude, you need to let us film your sparring because the stuff you’re doing in sparring, you’re actually doing in the octagon.’

“When I was in Edmonton (for UFC 215), I was practically throwing people up. I do it all the time in the gym.”

Also see:

 


Filed under: News, UFC

Brad Tavares offers to serve as Michael Bisping's final opponent

With former UFC middleweight champion Michael Bisping (30-9 MMA, 20-9 UFC) planning on one more fight before calling it a career, all that’s left is to pick an opponent and a date.

Fourteen-time UFC veteran Brad Tavares (16-4 MMA, 11-4 UFC) recently took to Twitter to voice his interest in signing up for that assignment.

What's up @bisping I know you're looking for a fight in England. Respectfully, I would like to share the octagon with you, and show the English fans how Hawaiians get down!!! @danawhite @Mickmaynard2 @ufc

— Brad Tavares (@BradTavares) January 5, 2018

While Bisping has not been announced for the card, the UFC does return to his native England on March 17 for UFC Fight Night 127 at The O2 in London. “The Count” has made it clear he does intend for his final career fight to take place on English soil.

Tavares is currently ranked No. 15 in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA middleweight rankings. He currently owns a three-fight winning streak after earning consecutive decision victories over Thales Leites, Elias Theodorou and Caio Magalhaes.

Tavares today told MMAjunkie that while the March 17 date is just six weeks away, he’d be more than happy to accept a matchup for that date.

Meanwhile, Bisping – who is currently No. 9 in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA middleweight rankings – is reeling from a pair of losses suffered in a three-week span of November. First, it was a technical submission loss to Georges St-Pierre at UFC 217, a bout that saw Bisping cede the UFC middleweight title. Shortly after, he suffered a devastating knockout loss to Kelvin Gastelum.

Bisping, 38, has admitted his career is coming to and end but has expressed interest in one more fight. However, criticism surrounding his quick turnaround from St-Pierre to Gastelum may lead him to favor a little more time off before booking that final bout.

But if not, Tavares says he’s game.

For more on UFC Fight Night 127, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

Oct 8, 2016; Manchester, UK; Michael Bisping (red gloves) reacts after winning his fight against Dan Henderson (blue gloves) during UFC 204 at Manchester Arena. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Oct 8, 2016; Manchester, UK; Michael Bisping (red gloves) enters the arena before his fight against Dan Henderson (blue gloves) during UFC 204 at Manchester Arena. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Oct 8, 2016; Manchester, UK; Michael Bisping (red gloves) cut under his left eye during his fight against Dan Henderson (blue gloves) in the UFC 204 at Manchester Arena. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Oct 8, 2016; Manchester, UK; Michael Bisping (red gloves) fights against Dan Henderson (blue gloves) during UFC 204 at Manchester Arena. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Oct 8, 2016; Manchester, UK; Michael Bisping (red gloves) cut under his left eye during his fight against Dan Henderson (blue gloves) in the UFC 204 at Manchester Arena. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Oct 8, 2016; Manchester, UK; Michael Bisping (red gloves) bleeds from a cut during his fight against Dan Henderson (blue gloves) in the UFC 204 at Manchester Arena. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Oct 8, 2016; Manchester, UK; Michael Bisping (red gloves) enters the octagon before his fight against Dan Henderson (blue gloves) during UFC 204 at Manchester Arena. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Jun 4, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Michael Bisping (blue) celebrates his first round knockout of Luke Rockhold (red) during UFC 199 at The Forum. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports Jun 4, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Michael Bisping (blue) fights Luke Rockhold (red) during UFC 199 at The Forum. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports Jun 4, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Michael Bisping (blue) fights Luke Rockhold (red) during UFC 199 at The Forum. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports Jun 4, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Michael Bisping (blue) celebrates his first round knockout of Luke Rockhold (not pictured) during UFC 199 at The Forum. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports Jun 4, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Michael Bisping (blue) celebrates with his wife after his first round knockout of Luke Rockhold (not pictured) during UFC 199 at The Forum. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports Feb 27, 2016; London, United Kingdom; Anderson Silva (red gloves) competes against Michael Bisping (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at O2 Arena. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Feb 27, 2016; London, United Kingdom; Anderson Silva (red gloves) competes against Michael Bisping (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at O2 Arena. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Feb 27, 2016; London, United Kingdom; Michael Bisping reacts after his fight against Anderson Silva during UFC Fight Night at O2 Arena. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports 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/mCWH6kigogSDYNhSJ5YG4T/294944", customAnalytics: true, title: "Michael Bisping", feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == "undefined") ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();
Filed under: Featured, News, UFC

Best Bellator photos from March-April 2017: An absolutely perfect head-kick KO

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

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

The flourishing organization put on five events between March and April of this past year. Bellator 174 kicked things off in Thackerville, Okla., followed by Bellator 175 in Rosemont, Ill.; Bellator 176 in Torino, Italy; Bellator 177 in Budapest, Hungary; and finally, Bellator 178 in Uncasville, Conn.

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

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


Filed under: Bellator, Featured, News

For Kevin Lee, dealing with Robert Follis' death has been 'tougher than people realize'

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The MMA community lost a talented coach with the death of Robert Follis. Fighters like UFC lightweight Kevin Lee, however, lost more than that in last month’s tragedy.

As it had been the case for almost all of his UFC outings, Lee (16-3 MMA, 9-3 UFC) had Follis in his corner when he met fellow interim title challenger Tony Ferguson at UFC 216 in October. That week, the coach spoke glowingly of his pupil, whom he’d dubbed “one of the top athletes” he’d ever worked with in his long career.

That was the last time Lee was be able to count on the coach’s guidance; two months later, Follis committed suicide.

RelatedMMA community mourns passing of coach Robert Follis

Follis, who’d recently departed Las Vegas’ Xtreme Couture, was an almost unanimously admired presence in the sport and helped the careers of countless fighters. But for some of them, including Lee, Follis’ influence extended beyond his technical knowledge.

“It’s been very, very tough,” Lee told MMAjunkie Radio. “And I think it’s been tougher than people realize. Rob meant a little more to me than just a coach. A lot of people look at my confidence and think it was always just like that. He did have a large part to play in that.

“When Rob talked, I just listened. I listened to him, and it just made me feel better about myself. Whenever I was down, he was always a person I could go to.”

Lee wasn’t the only fighter who was personally impacted by the tragedy. People such as now-retired ex-champion Miesha Tate, whose own UFC title push was propelled by Follis, and ex-title-challenger Tim Elliot publicly talked about how deeply their careers and lives were impacted by the late coach.

RelatedKevin Lee open to 'easy money' fight vs. Justin Gaethje but not before big changes to style, camp

“(Follis) was the reason I was (in Las Vegas),” Elliott told MMAjunkie before a victorious UFC 219 affair on Saturday. “All the Xtreme guys are awesome, but the fact of the matter is, I moved here to be near him. So I don’t know what I’m going to do.”

Lee’s exemplary rise through the 155-pound division is certainly a testament to Follis’ work. The only time the coach wasn’t in his corner, Lee said, was a UFC 194 meeting with fellow lightweight Leonardo Santos in Brazil. Lee, who’d never been finished in a pro MMA bout before, was shockingly knocked out in the first round.

“I called him the very next day, and I was like, ‘I made a huge mistake,” Lee said. “I’m never doing that again. I’m never fighting without you in my corner again.’”

That, we now know, unfortunately will not be the case. But, with Follis in his corner, Lee went on to win his five subsequent bouts – finishing all but one of them – before the meeting with Ferguson.

If Lee credits Follis with helping build the self-confidence he’s become known for, Follis’ words on Lee before the failed title bid show the coach knew that it was always in there.

“I’ve got to say it,” Follis said. “You know. I don’t know how you put your finger on that. Some people have that it. They’ve got the charisma, they’ve got the confidence, and they have that self-belief.

“Man, if I could make that happen – and I could control that – every guy would have it. Every woman would have that. But not everybody gets it, and not everybody can ever have it. It’s a special gift, and it’s part of what makes a champion. I saw that in Kevin from the beginning, and it’s only shined brighter as time has gone on.”

RelatedHow Tim Elliott kept emotions in check for UFC 219 win to honor Robert Follis

Surely, the emotional aftermath of such an impactful loss is not something that’s easily dealt with. But Lee was able to get at least some measure of closure after sitting down for a long conversation with Follis’ girlfriend and brothers.

Lee has yet to set a date to return to the octagon. But he’ll be back, eventually. And he’s taking Follis’ memory with him.

“Now, its about doing it for him,” Lee said. “And, I think his life is going to be even bigger now. It’s hard to say that, but it really is. He’s touched so many people, especially in MMA, and he’s changed so many people’s lives.

“That I feel like if I keep going and I really show him that it meant even bigger to me, then it’s going to be even bigger for him.”

To hear more from Lee on Follis, check out the video above.

And for more on the UFC’s schedule, 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, Brian “Goze” Garcia and Dan Tom. For more information or to download past episodes, go to www.mmajunkie.com/radio.

Jan 31, 2014; Newark, NJ, USA; Kevin Lee and Al Iaquinta (not pictured) weigh in for their lightweight bout at Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports Jan 31, 2014; Newark, NJ, USA; Kevin Lee (right) and Al Iaquinta (right) face off after weighing in for their lightweight bout at Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports Feb 1, 2014; Newark, NJ, USA; Al Iaquinta (red gloves) fights Kevin Lee (blue gloves) during UFC 169 at Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports Feb 1, 2014; Newark, NJ, USA; Al Iaquinta (red gloves) fights Kevin Lee (blue gloves) during UFC 169 at Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports Jul 6, 2014; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Kevin Lee (blue gloves) lands a kick to Jesse Ronson (red gloves) during a lightweight fight at Mandalay Bay Events Center. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports Sep 27, 2014; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Kevin Lee (blue gloves) fights Jon Tuck (red gloves) during a lightweight fight during UFC 178 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports Sep 27, 2014; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Kevin Lee celebrates his victory over Jon Tuck during a lightweight fight during UFC 178 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports Feb 14, 2015; Broomfield, CO, USA; Kevin Lee (blue) and Michel Prazeres (red) compete during UFC Fight Night at the 1stBANK Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports Feb 14, 2015; Broomfield, CO, USA; Kevin Lee (blue) celebrates his win over Michel Prazeres (left) during UFC Fight Night at the 1stBANK Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports December 11, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Leonardo Santos and Kevin Lee pose during weigh-ins for UFC 194 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports Nov 19, 2016; Belfast, Northern Ireland; Kevin Lee (red gloves) fights Magomed Mustafaev (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at SSE Arena. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Nov 19, 2016; Belfast, Northern Ireland; Kevin Lee (red gloves) reacts to fights against Magomed Mustafaev (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at SSE Arena. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Mar 11, 2017; Fortazela, Brazil, USA; Kevin Lee (blue gloves) fights Francisco Tinaldo (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Centro de Formacao Olimpica de Fortaleza. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports Mar 11, 2017; Fortazela, Brazil, USA; Kevin Lee (blue gloves) defeats Francisco Tinaldo (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Centro de Formacao Olimpica de Fortaleza. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports Mar 11, 2017; Fortazela, Brazil, USA; Kevin Lee (blue gloves) defeats Francisco Tinaldo (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Centro de Formacao Olimpica de Fortaleza. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports Jun 24, 2017; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Micheal Chisea and Kevin Lee face off after weigh in before UFC fight night at Renaissance Waterford Oklahoma City Hotel. Mandatory Credit: Sean Pokorny-USA TODAY Sports Jun 25, 2017; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Michael Chiesa (red gloves) fights Kevin Lee (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sean Pokorny-USA TODAY Sports Jun 25, 2017; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Kevin Lee (blue gloves) reacts after beating Michael Chiesa (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sean Pokorny-USA TODAY Sports Oct 7, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Tony Ferguson (red gloves) competes against Kevin Lee (blue gloves) during the first round during UFC 216 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports Oct 7, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Kevin Lee (blue gloves) fights Tony Ferguson (red gloves) during the first round during UFC 216 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports jQuery.extend( window._usmgOptions,{ scriptUrl: "https://s2.wp.com/wp-content/themes/vip/usatoday-plugins/api-galleries/assets", analyticsCallback: "galleryAnalytics", fullscreenUrl: "http://mmajunkie.com/sigallery/R7CSdPnbAmFtwD9uk257uV/294566", customAnalytics: true, title: "Kevin Lee", feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == "undefined") ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();
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Emil Meek expects a good Kamaru Usman, but 'if he overlooks me, that’s good for me'

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Emil Meek is not expecting Kamaru Usman to underestimate him. But if that’s the case, that’s fine, too.

The lead-up to Jan. 14’s welterweight meeting hasn’t exactly been a smooth process. There were visa issues. There was a rescheduling. There were doubts as to whether the matchup would ever happen.

And there was, naturally, some shade.

The two were supposed to meet last weekend at UFC 219 before Meek’s visa became an issue. While “Valhalla” eventually solved it, both Usman and his manager indicated it could be too late. Meek, in turn, kept pushing for the fight against “Kamaru Duckman.”

A few weeks before the original booking, when it was all but certain that at least Dec. 30 was a no-go, Usman had a composed, yet brutal explanation of why he would have no reason to avoid Meek.

RelatedThe key to beating Kamaru Usman? A bunch of crazy f*cking vikings, Emil Meek says

“Let’s be honest: look at the fight,” Usman told reporters in Detroit. “What about Emil Meek scares me that’s like, ‘Wow, don’t fight this guy’? No. Does he have big power, really? No. Can he out-wrestle me? No. Can he out- grapple me? No. This was a, ‘Stay busy, here’s a fight, because no one else will fight you, here.’

“He’s kind of trying to make it seem like, ‘Oh, you’re trying to duck me?’ What do I have to duck? I’m asking for harder guys. How is that me ducking you? It makes no sense.”

Ouch.

Then, in line with his manager’s talks of chasing “much bigger, scared fish” than Meek, Usman also took the opportunity to vent about controversial rising welterweight Colby Covington, who, according to Usman’s own account, had repeatedly avoided a fight with him.

As we now know, the original booking panned out. And Meek (9-2-1 MMA, 1-0 UFC), who gets a crack at the highly touted Usman (11-1 MMA, 6-0 UFC) in an FS1-televised main card bout at Scottrade Centre in St. Louis, Mo., doesn’t seem to be taking Usman’s attitude too personally.

RelatedKamaru Usman denies ducking Emil Meek, says Colby Covington refused to fight him

“He’s an intelligent guy, I guess,” Meek told MMAjunkie Radio. “I don’t want to admit it, but he probably is. He’s probably just trying to put himself up in the position after the fight where he can get fights like that.

“If he overlooks me, that’s good for me. I’m not expecting it. I’m expecting a good Kamaru Usman. I expect him to prepare for me, as well, as anyone else. So I don’t really care what he says.”

One can see why Meek doesn’t seem too bothered by anything right now. Faced with the No. 9 fighter in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA welterweight rankings in what will be his second octagon appointment, there’s certainly a lot to be gained here.

To hear from Meek, watch the video above.

And for more on UFC Fight Night 124, 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, Brian “Goze” Garcia and Dan Tom. For more information or to download past episodes, go to www.mmajunkie.com/radio.

Dec 10, 2016; Toronto, ON, CAN; Emil Meek (blue gloves) reacts to fight with Jordon Mein (red gloves) during UFC 206 at Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports Dec 10, 2016; Toronto, ON, CAN; Emil Meek (blue gloves) reacts to fight with Jordon Mein (red gloves) during UFC 206 at Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports Dec 10, 2016; Toronto, ON, CAN; Emil Meek (blue gloves) reacts to fight with Jordon Mein (red gloves) during UFC 206 at Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports Dec 10, 2016; Toronto, ON, CAN; Jordon Mein (red gloves) fights Emil Meek (blue gloves) during UFC 206 at Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports Dec 10, 2016; Toronto, ON, CAN; Jordon Mein (red gloves) fights Emil Meek (blue gloves) during UFC 206 at Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports Dec 10, 2016; Toronto, ON, CAN; Jordon Mein (red gloves) fights Emil Meek (blue gloves) during UFC 206 at Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports Dec 10, 2016; Toronto, ON, CAN; Jordon Mein (red gloves) fights Emil Meek (blue gloves) during UFC 206 at Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports Dec 10, 2016; Toronto, ON, CAN; Emil Meek (blue gloves) enters the arena during UFC 206 at Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-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/A9mywvREWmC4GDEDBM2Hm4/294652", customAnalytics: true, title: "Meek def. Mein", feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == "undefined") ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();
Filed under: News, Radio Highlight, UFC, Videos

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

Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) celebrates with family after fight against Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Jose Aldo (blue gloves) enters the arena before the fight during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) before the fight against Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) fights Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) fights Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) wife watches the fight against Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) fights Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) fights Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) fights Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) fights Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) fights Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) fights Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) fights Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) fights Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) fights Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) fights Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) fights Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) fights Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) fights Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) fights Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) fights Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) fights Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) fights Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) fights Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) fights Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) fights Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) fights Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) fights Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) fights Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) fights Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) fights Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) fights Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) fights Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) fights Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) celebrates with family after fight against Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) celebrates with family after fight against Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports jQuery.extend( window._usmgOptions,{ scriptUrl: "https://s2.wp.com/wp-content/themes/vip/usatoday-plugins/api-galleries/assets", analyticsCallback: "galleryAnalytics", fullscreenUrl: "http://mmajunkie.com/sigallery/zafjwopo8yyQsrsuvMkt48/294815", customAnalytics: true, title: "Holloway def. Aldo", feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == "undefined") ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();

The UFC had another busy year in 2017, and 39 events took place around the globe. During that time, many records were set and produced a host of historic moments.

Now that the year has come to a close, and with the help of FightMetric research analyst and live-statistics producer Michael Carroll, here are some of 2017’s most significant events, fights and individual performances.

* * * *

Events

Little Caesars Arena

The UFC held 39 events in 34 different cities across 14 countries and five continents. The 39 events were the organization’s fewest since 2013 (33).

Those event had 457 fights across 13 different weight classes (including catchweight bouts). Those 457 fights combined for a total cage time of 83:36:56.

The longest event of the year was “UFC Fight Night 121: Werdum vs. Tybura” in Sydney (3:04:18 – a UFC record).

The shortest event of the year was “UFC Fight Night 116: Rockhold vs. Branch” (1:20:40).

The UFC drew an announced total attendance of 453,333 for a live gate total of $44,744,143.28. (Note: the live-gate figure was not announced for seven events.)

Madison Square Garden

The highest reported attended event of the year was “UFC 217: Bisping vs. St-Pierre” at Madison Square Garden in New York (18,201). The lowest-attended event was The Ultimate Fighter 26 Finale at Park Theatre in Las Vegas (2,798).

The highest reported gate of the year came at “UFC 217: Bisping vs. St-Pierre” ($6.2 million) while the lowest was the TUF 26 Finale ($124,847.40).

In 2017, 155 fight-night bonuses were given out for a total of $7.7 million.

In 2017, athletes were paid $6.3 million in UFC-Reebok Athlete Outfitting Policy money.

The most knockouts at a single event came at “UFC 218: Holloway vs. Aldo 2” (eight).

In 2017, 26 fights ended with a knockout stemming from kicks and knees, tying 2013 for second most in a calendar year; 2014 holds this record (28).

Six different events had a year-high six submission finishes.

The TUF 26 Finale featured three armbar finishes, tied with UFC on FUEL TV 10 for the most on a UFC card in the modern era.

T-Mobile Arena

“UFC 216: Ferguson vs. Lee” was the first pay-per-view card since UFC 81 in February 2008 to have the final four fights end via submission.

“UFC Fight Night 114: Pettis vs. Moreno” featured seven first-round stoppages, tied with UFC 146, The Ultimate Fighter 1 Finale, UFC Fight Night 14, UFC Fight Night 32 and UFC Fight Night 68 for the most in modern history.

“UFC Fight Night 121: Werdum vs. Tybura” featured 4,036 total strike attempts, a new single-event UFC record. It also featured 2,213 total strikes landed, a new single-event UFC record.

The most fights to go to a decision at a single event came at “UFC Fight Night 121: Werdum vs. Tybura” with 10, which tied UFC Fight Night 101, UFC Fight Night 84, UFC Fight Night 36 and UFC 169 for most at a single UFC show.

“UFC 208: Holm vs. de Randamie” marked the second card in UFC history with just one stoppage result, joining UFC on FUEL TV 6.

“UFC 216: Ferguson vs. Lee” joined UFC 22 in September 2001 as the only events in UFC history with two draws.

“UFC 217: Bisping vs. St-Pierre” became the first event in UFC history to have three new champions crowned.

Betting favorites went 305-138. Fourteen fights ended in a draw, no-contest or had even odds.

Ahoy Rotterdam

“UFC Fight Night 115: Volkov vs. Struve” had the most favorites come through with victories, where 11 of 12 had their hand raised. On the flip side, seven underdogs won at “UFC on FOX 25: Weidman vs. Gastelum.”

Twenty-eight fighters officially missed weight. The 21 fighters in that group to compete went 11-10.

A total of 116 fighters made their UFC debut in 2017. Those fighters went 60-54-2. Debuting fighters who faced an opponent with at least one prior UFC bout went 45-38.

Twenty one UFC main-event or co-main-event fights to be adjusted, postponed or canceled entirely.

* * * *

Heavyweight

Number of fights: 39
Knockouts: 19
Submissions: Five
Decisions: 13
Other: Two
Champion at beginning of year: Stipe Miocic
Champion at end of year: Miocic
Most fights in divisional history: Frank Mir (27)
Longest winning streak in division: Francis Ngannou (six)
Most wins in divisional history: Mir (16)
Most stoppages in divisional history: Mir (13)
Most knockouts in divisional history: Cain Velasquez (10)
Most submissions in divisional history: Mir (eight)
Most fight-night bonuses: Miocic (eight)

Light heavyweight

Number of fights: 40
Knockouts: 19
Submissions: Six
Decisions: 14
Other: One
Champion at beginning of year: Daniel Cormier
Champion at end of year: Cormier
Most fights in divisional history: Ryan Bader (20)
Longest winning streak in division: Mauricio Rua, Volkan Oezdemir and Ovince Saint Preux (three)
Most wins in divisional history: Jon Jones (16)
Most stoppages in divisional history: Jones and Chuck Liddell (nine)
Most knockouts in divisional history: Liddell (nine)
Most submissions in divisional history: Jones (five)
Most fight-night bonuses: Jones (eight)

Robert Whittaker

Middleweight

Number of fights: 56
Knockouts: 24
Submissions: Nine
Decisions: 22
Other: Two
Champion at beginning of year: Michael Bisping
Champion at end of year: Robert Whittaker
Most fights in divisional history: Bisping (24)
Longest winning streak in division: Whittaker (seven)
Most wins in divisional history: Bisping (16)
Most stoppages in divisional history: Anderson Silva (11)
Most knockouts in divisional history: Silva (eight)
Most submissions in divisional history: Thales Leites, Rousimar Palhares and Demian Maia (five)
Most fight-night bonuses: Silva (11)

Welterweight

Number of fights: 73
Knockouts: 23
Submissions: Eight
Decisions: 41
Other: One
Champion at beginning of year: Tyron Woodley
Champion at end of year: Woodley
Most fights in divisional history: Matt Brown and Josh Koscheck (24)
Longest winning streak in division: Kamaru Usman and Santiago Ponzinibbio (six)
Most wins in divisional history: Georges St-Pierre (19)
Most stoppages in divisional history: Brown and Matt Hughes (12)
Most knockouts in divisional history: Brown (10)
Most submissions in divisional history: Chris Lytle (six)
Most fight-night bonuses: Lytle (10)

Lightweight

Number of fights: 70
Knockouts: 23
Submissions: 14
Decisions: 32
Other: One
Champion at beginning of year: Conor McGregor
Champion at end of year: McGregor (Tony Ferguson interim champ)
Most fights in divisional history: Jim Miller (27)
Longest winning streak in division: Tony Ferguson (10)
Most wins in divisional history: Miller and Gleison Tibau (16)
Most stoppages in divisional history: Joe Lauzon (12)
Most knockouts in divisional history: Melvin Guillard (seven)
Most submissions in divisional history: Lauzon and Nate Diaz (seven)
Most fight-night bonuses: Lauzon (15)

Featherweight

Number of fights: 45
Knockouts: 14
Submissions: Seven
Decisions: 24
Champion at beginning of year: Jose Aldo
Champion at end of year: Max Holloway
Most fights in divisional history: Holloway (17)
Longest winning streak in division: Holloway (11)
Most wins in divisional history: Holloway (14)
Most stoppages in divisional history: Holloway (nine)
Most knockouts in divisional history: Holloway (seven)
Most submissions in divisional history: Charles Oliveira (six)
Most fight-night bonuses: Cub Swanson (seven)

Women’s featherweight

Number of fights: Three
Knockouts: One
Submissions: Zero
Decisions: Two
Champion at beginning of year: None
Champion at end of year: Cris Cyborg
Most fights in divisional history: Cyborg and Holly Holm (two)
Longest winning streak in division: Cyborg (two)
Most wins in divisional history: Cyborg (two)
Most stoppages in divisional history: Cyborg (one)
Most knockouts in divisional history: Cyborg (one)
Most submissions in divisional history: None
Most fight-night bonuses: Cyborg and Holm (one)

Bantamweight

Number of fights: 39
Knockouts: Nine
Submissions: Eight
Decisions: 21
Champion at beginning of year: Cody Garbrandt
Champion at end of year: T.J. Dillashaw
Most fights in divisional history: Urijah Faber (15)
Longest winning streak in division: Jimmie Rivera (five)
Most wins in divisional history: Dillashaw (11)
Most stoppages in divisional history: Dillashaw (seven)
Most knockouts in divisional history: Dillashaw (six)
Most submissions in divisional history: Faber (six)
Most fight-night bonuses: Dillashaw (seven)

Women’s bantamweight

Number of fights: 16
Knockouts: Four
Submissions: Four
Decisions: Eight
Champion at beginning of year: Amanda Nunes
Champion at end of year: Nunes
Most fights in divisional history: Nunes, Sara McMann and Miesha Tate (nine)
Longest winning streak in division: Nunes (six)
Most wins in divisional history: Nunes (eight)
Most stoppages in divisional history: Nunes and Ronda Rousey (six)
Most knockouts in divisional history: Nunes (four)
Most submissions in divisional history: Rousey (three)
Most fight-night bonuses: Rousey (seven)

Demetrious Johnson

Flyweight

Number of fights: 29
Knockouts: Six
Submissions: Eight
Decisions: 15
Champion at beginning of year: Demetrious Johnson
Champion at end of year: Johnson
Most fights in divisional history: Johnson (14)
Longest winning streak in division: Johnson (13)
Most wins in divisional history: Johnson (13)
Most stoppages in divisional history: Johnson (seven)
Most knockouts in divisional history: John Lineker (four)
Most submissions in divisional history: Johnson (five)
Most fight-night bonuses: Johnson (eight)

Women’s flyweight

Number of fights: 10
Knockouts: One
Submissions: Four
Decisions: Five
Champion at beginning of year: None
Champion at end of year: Nicco Montano
Most fights in divisional history: 22 fighters tied with one
Longest winning streak in division: 10 fighters tied with one
Most wins in divisional history: 10 fighters tied with one
Most stoppages in divisional history: Six fighters tied with one
Most knockouts in divisional history: Joanne Calderwood and Shana Dobson (one)
Most submissions in divisional history: Four fighters tied with one
Most fight-night bonuses: Montano and Roxanne Modafferi (one)

Women’s strawweight

Number of fights: 34
Knockouts: Two
Submissions: Six
Decisions: 26
Champion at beginning of year: Joanna Jedrzejczyk
Champion at end of year: Rose Namajunas
Most fights in divisional history: Jedrzejczyk (nine)
Longest winning streak in division: Felice Herrig (four)
Most wins in divisional history: Jedrzejczyk (eight)
Most stoppages in divisional history: Namajunas (four)
Most knockouts in divisional history: Jedrzejczyk and Paige VanZant (two)
Most submissions in divisional history: Namajunas (three)
Most fight-night bonuses: Namajunas, Jedrzejczyk, Jessica Andrade and Claudia Gadelha (three)

* * * *

Championship feats

Germaine de Randamie

Germaine de Randamie became the inaugural UFC women’s featherweight champion when she defeated Holly Holm at UFC 208.

De Randamie became the sixth European-born champion in UFC history and second from the Netherlands, joining Bas Rutten.

Joanna Jedrzejczyk’s 225 significant strikes landed against Jessica Andrade at UFC 211 set a new UFC title-fight record.

Jedrzejczyk’s 75 leg kicks landed against Andrade at UFC 211 set a new single-fight UFC record.

Stipe Miocic’s two consecutive UFC heavyweight title defense (with his win over Junior Dos Santos at UFC 211) tied the record for most of any champion in divisional history.

Max Holloway became the second Hawaiian-born champion in UFC history when he defeated Jose Aldo at UFC 212. B.J. Penn also accomplished the feat.

Robert Whittaker

Robert Whittaker became the first New Zealand-born fighter to win a UFC championship when he claimed the interim middleweight title at UFC 213. He was later promoted to undisputed champion.

Tyron Woodley’s fight vs. Demian Maia at UFC 214 consisted of just 86 combined total strikes landed, the fewest in UFC welterweight history for a title fight that went all five rounds.

Demetrious Johnson set the record for most consecutive UFC title defenses with his 11th against Ray Borg at UFC 216.

Tony Ferguson became the second in UFC history to win a title bout by triangle choke at UFC 216. Anderson Silva also accomplished the feat against Chael Sonnen at UFC 117.

Georges St-Pierre

Georges St-Pierre became the fourth fighter in UFC history to win titles in two weight classes when he defeated Michael Bisping at UFC 217. Randy Couture, Conor McGregor and Penn have also accomplished the feat.

St-Pierre became the second in UFC history to have three separate title reigns. Couture also accomplished the feat.

St-Pierre’s 13 victories in UFC championship fights are the most in company history.

Nicco Montano became the inaugural UFC women’s flyweight champion at The Ultimate Fighter 26 Finale.

* * * *

Individual feats

Cynthia Calvillo

Cynthia Calvillo became the first fighter since Tito Ortiz to compete on consecutive UFC pay-per-view cards, at UFC 210 and UFC 209. Ortiz accomplished the feat at UFC 132 and UFC 133 in 2011.

Aleksei Oleinik earned the first Ezekiel choke victory in UFC history when he submitted Viktor Pesta at UFC Fight Night 103.

B.J. Penn suffered the first knockdown of his UFC career against Yair Rodriguez at UFC Fight Night 103 after absorbing a record 1,034 total strikes.

Jessica Andrade became the first female to make 10 UFC appearances when she competed at UFC Fight Night 104.

Phillipe Nover became just the second in UFC history to have a 1-6 record with the promotion when he lost to Rick Glenn at UFC 208. Elvis Sinosic is the other.

Nik Lentz passed Chris Lytle for the most guillotine-choke submission attempts in UFC history with his 17th at UFC 208. He now has 19 attempts.

Iuri Alcantara was victorious against Luke Sanders at UFC 209 despite a -107 total strike differential (134 to 27), the second-largest deficit for a winner by stoppage in UFC history behind A. Silva’s comeback against Sonnen at UFC 117 (-256).

Darren Elkins

Darren Elkins was victorious against Mirsad Bektic at UFC 209 despite a -91 total strike differential (146 to 72), the third-largest deficit for a winner by stoppage in UFC history.

Michel Prazeres earned just the fourth north-south-choke submission victory in UFC history at UFC Fight Night 106. Rani Yahya, Jake Ellenberger and Jeff Monson have also accomplished the feat. Prazeres subsequently earned the fifth such finish in his next fight at UFC Fight Night 115.

Bethe Correia and Marion Reneau fought to the first draw in women’s UFC history at UFC Fight Night 106.

Edson Barboza became the first in UFC history with knockout finishes stemming from a head kick, body kick, leg kicks and flying knee when he stopped Beneil Dariush with a flying knee at UFC Fight Night 106.

Kamaru Usman became the first welterweight since Marcus Davis in 2007 to win his first five UFC appearances with his victory at UFC 210.

Jeremy Stephens’ 13th loss in UFC competition at UFC on FOX 24 set the record for most in company history.

Stephens became the first fighter in UFC history to suffer 10 decision losses with his defeat at UFC on FOX 24.

Ovince Saint Preux became the first fighter in UFC/WEC/PRIDE/Strikeforce combined history to earn two submission victories by Von Flue choke when he defeated Marcos Rogerio de Lima at UFC Fight Night 108.

Cub Swanson

Cub Swanson’s 209 significant strikes landed against Artem Lobov at UFC Fight Night 108 set a new single-fight record for a UFC/WEC featherweight bout.

Swanson and Lobov’s combined 332 significant strikes landed were second most in UFC history behind the 334 between Nate Diaz and Donald Cerrone at UFC 141.

Jedrzejczyk’s 225 significant strikes landed against Andrade at UFC 211 are second most in a UFC fight behind Nate Diaz’s 238 significant strikes against Donald Cerrone at UFC 141.

Alexander Gustafsson’s victory against Glover Teixeira at the 1:07 mark of Round 5 at UFC Fight Night 109 marked the latest stoppage in a UFC light-heavyweight fight. It also marked the first fifth-round stoppage in divisional history.

Holloway became the first in UFC/WEC featherweight history to land 100 or more significant strikes in four separate fights when he defeated Aldo at UFC 212. He pushed that stretch to five in their UFC 218 rematch.

Derek Brunson

Derek Brunson broke the record for most first-round stoppage wins in UFC middleweight history with his knockout of Daniel Kelly at UFC Fight Night 110. He earned his seventh such win with a knockout against Lyoto Machida at UFC Fight Night 119.

Holm became the first female in UFC history to earn two head-kick knockout victories when she stopped Correia at UFC Fight Night 111.

Gray Maynard became the first in UFC history to go 10 victories without a stoppage when he defeated Teruto Ishihara at The Ultimate Fighter 25 Finale.

Leslie Smith became the first in UFC history to land 100-plus significant strikes in two women’s bantamweight bouts, at UFC Fight Night 113 and UFC on FOX 22.

Galore Bofando earned the ninth knockout victory stemming from a slam in UFC history at UFC Fight Night 113.

Calvillo became the first UFC fighter to earn three victories in 2017 with her victory at UFC Fight Night 113. She was the only fighter on the roster with three wins in the calendar year.

Brian Ortega

Brian Ortega extended his UFC record for most consecutive third-round stoppage victories to four at UFC 214.

Dustin Ortiz’s 15-second knockout of Hector Sandoval at UFC Fight Night 114 marked the fastest finish in UFC flyweight history.

Jordan Rinaldi earned just the fourth Von Flue choke submission victory in UFC history, at UFC Fight Night 114.

Andre Soukhamthath became the first in UFC history to suffer a decision loss despite scoring three knockdowns of his opponent when he lost at UFC Fight Night 114.

Reneau’s victory at the 4:54 mark of Round 3 against Talita Bernardo at UFC Fight Night 115 marked the latest stoppage in a three-round UFC women’s bantamweight fight.

Mairbek Taisumov

Mairbek Taisumov became the first lightweight in UFC history to earn five consecutive knockout victories, at UFC Fight Night 115.

Stephens’ five knockdowns landed at UFC 215 tied the single-fight UFC record set by Forrest Petz vs. Sammy Morgan at UFC Fight Night 6 in 2006.

Andrade landed 242 total strikes against Claudia Gadelha at UFC Fight Night 117, the most in a strawweight fight.

Saint Preux vs. Yushin Okami at UFC Fight Night 117 was just the second fight in UFC history to feature zero combined significant strike attempts. Ilir Latifi vs. Cyrille Diabate at UFC on FUEL TV 6 was the other.

Saint Preux earned his third Von Flue choke submission in UFC competition at UFC Fight Night 117, further breaking his own record for most in UFC history.

Demetrious Johnson

Johnson earned his third fifth-round stoppage in UFC competition at UFC 216, the most in company history.

Josh Emmett’s four knockdowns in a round against Felipe Arantes at UFC Fight Night 118 marked the new single-fight UFC record.

Ricardo Ramos became the second fighter in UFC history to earn a knockout victory stemming from a spinning back elbow when he defeated Aiemann Zahabi at UFC 217. Dong Hyun Kim also accomplished the feat The Ultimate Fighter China Finale.

St-Pierre earned his 20th UFC victory at UFC 217, tied with Bisping for most in company history.

Tai Tuivasa earned just the second knockout stemming from a flying knee in UFC heavyweight history with his victory at UFC Fight Night 121.

Fabricio Werdum

Fabricio Werdum and Marcin Tybura combined for 282 significant strikes landed at UFC Fight Night 121, a new single-fight record for a UFC heavyweight bout.

Kailin Curran became the first strawweight in UFC history to suffer four consecutive losses when she lost at UFC Fight Night 122.

Kenan Song’s 15-second win at UFC Fight Night 122 was the second fastest in UFC history by a debuting welterweight behind Anthony Johnson’s 13-second win at UFC Fight Night 10.

Michael Bisping set a new record for most UFC fights with his 29th appearance at UFC Fight Night 122.

Brett Johns earned just the second calf-slicer submission in UFC history, at The Ultimate Fighter 26 Finale. Charles Oliveira also accomplished the feat.

Yancy Medeiros vs. Alex Oliveira at UFC 218 was the first fight in UFC history to feature two knockdowns for each fighter.

Francis Ngannou

Francis Ngannou became the first heavyweight in UFC history to earn a six-fight stoppage streak when he defeated Alistair Overeem at UFC 218.

Holloway, 25, became the youngest fighter in UFC history to earn 15 victories with the organization when he won at UFC 218.

Holloway became the first in UFC history to land 100 or more significant strikes in six separate fights at UFC 218.

Holloway earned his sixth third-round finish in UFC competition at UFC 218, breaking Couture’s longstanding record of five.

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


Filed under: Featured, News, UFC

MMAjunkie's best UFC photos from March-April 2017: Blood, bruises and backflips

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Filed under: News, UFC, Videos

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

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

The organization put on a total of six events between March and April, including UFC 209 in Las Vegas; UFC Fight Night 106 in Fortaleza, Brazil; UFC Fight Night 107 in London; UFC 210 in Buffalo, N.Y.; UFC on FOX 24 in Kansas City, Miss.; and UFC Fight Night 108 in Nashville, Tenn.

USA TODAY Sports Images photographers Joe Camporeale, Jason Silva, Steven Flynn, Kevin Hoffman, Ron Chenoy and Christopher Hanewinckel were on assignment for those events and captured the best moments in and out of the cage.

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

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

Mar 4, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Luke Sanders (blue gloves) and Iuri Alcantara (red gloves) fight during their bout at UFC 209 at T-Mobile Arena. Alcantara won via second round submission. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports Mar 4, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Darren Elkins (blue gloves) reacts after submitting Mirsad Bektic (not pictured) during their bout at UFC 209 at T-Mobile Arena. Elkins won via third round TKO. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports Mar 4, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Tyron Woodley (red gloves) and Stephen Thompson (blue gloves) fight during their welterweight championship bout at UFC 209 at T-Mobile Arena. Woodley won via majority decision. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports Mar 11, 2017; Fortazela, Brazil, USA; Rony Jason (red gloves) fights Jeremy Kennedy (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Centro de Formacao Olimpica de Fortaleza. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports Mar 11, 2017; Fortazela, Brazil, USA; Joe Soto (blue gloves) bleeds from a cut during his fight against Rani Yahya (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Centro de Formacao Olimpica de Fortaleza. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports Mar 11, 2017; Fortazela, Brazil, USA; Mauricio Rua (red gloves) defeats Gian Villante (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Centro de Formacao Olimpica de Fortaleza. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports Mar 11, 2017; Fortazela, Brazil, USA; Kelvin Gastelum (blue gloves) fights Vitor Belfort (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Centro de Formacao Olimpica de Fortaleza. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports Mar 18, 2017; London, United Kingdom; Lina Lansberg (red gloves) defeats Lucia Pudilova (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at O2 Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Flynn-USA TODAY Sports Mar 18, 2017; London, United Kingdom; Marc Diakiese (red gloves) celebrates after defeating Teemu Packalen (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at O2 Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Flynn-USA TODAY Sports Mar 18, 2017; London, United Kingdom; Joe Duffy (red gloves) fights Reza Madadi (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at O2 Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Flynn-USA TODAY Sports Mar 18, 2017; London, United Kingdom; Brad Pickett places his famous hat in the middle of the octagon during UFC Fight Night at O2 Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Flynn-USA TODAY Sports Apr 8, 2017; Buffalo, NY, USA; Gregor Gillespie (red gloves) knocks out Andrew Hollbrook (blue gloves) during UFC 210 at KeyBank Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports Apr 8, 2017; Buffalo, NY, USA; Kamaru Usman (red gloves) competes against Sean Strickland (blue gloves) during UFC 210 at KeyBank Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports Apr 15, 2017; Kansas City, MO, USA; Zak Cummings (Red Gloves) verses Nathan Coy (Blue Gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Sprint Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports Apr 15, 2017; Kansas City, MO, USA; Jeremy Stephens (red ) and Renato Moicano (blue) fight 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 Apr 15, 2017; Kansas City, MO, USA; Michelle Waterson (blue) is pinned by Rose Namajunas (red) and (red) during UFC Fight Night at the Sprint Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports Apr 15, 2017; Kansas City, MO, USA; Rose Namajunas (red) celebrates the win over Michelle Waterson (not pictured) during UFC Fight Night at the Sprint Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports Apr 15, 2017; Kansas City, MO, USA; Demetrious Johnson (red) wins the fight over Wilson Reis (blue) fight during UFC Fight Night at Sprint Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports Apr 22, 2017; Nashville, TN, USA; Jake Ellenberger (red gloves) is knocked out by Mike Perry during UFC Fight Night at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports Apr 22, 2017; Nashville, TN, USA; Cub Swanson (red gloves) fights Artem Lobov (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports Apr 22, 2017; Nashville, TN, USA; Cub Swanson (red gloves) fights Artem Lobov (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports Apr 22, 2017; Nashville, TN, USA; Cub Swanson (red gloves) defeats Artem Lobov (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/eRX3wXMfstDmRcNvoPD8CW/294764", customAnalytics: true, title: "Best UFC Photos of 2017: March-April", feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == "undefined") ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();
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Official poster and latest card for 'UFC Fight Night 125: Machida vs. Anders'

Check out the official fight poster and latest 12-bout lineup for next month’s “UFC Fight Night 125: Machida vs. Anders” event.

UFC Fight Night 125 takes place Feb. 3 at Mangueirinho Gymnasium in Belem, Pera, Brazil. It airs on FS1 following early prelims on UFC Fight Pass, though the bout order hasn’t bee finalized.

The event poster, which features the traditional Brazilian colors that are often part of the UFC-Brazil promotional efforts, features the top three bouts.

Here it is, with a note from a first-time UFC headliner (via Twitter):

Im ethstatic (Mike Tyson voice)@ufc #ufcbelém pic.twitter.com/lcsob0ZwRN

— Eryk Anders (@erykanders) January 6, 2018

In the headliner, former light-heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida (22-8 MMA, 14-8 UFC), who’s No. 13 in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA middleweight rankings, takes on undefeated and fast-rising prospect Eryk Anders (10-0 MMA, 2-0 UFC), who could score his biggest victory to date.

RelatedWhy UFC-Fresno winner Eryk Anders wants to fight Lyoto Machida on ex-champ's turf

Also on the card are No. 14 bantamweight Pedro Munhoz (15-2-1 MMA, 5-2-1 UFC) vs. rankings honorable mention John Dodson (19-9 MMA, 8-4 UFC), as well as No. 2 women’s bantamweight Valentina Shevchenko (14-3 MMA, 3-2 UFC) vs. promotional newcomer Priscila Cachoeira (8-0 MMA, 0-0 UFC) at flyweight.

The latest UFC Fight Night 125 card includes:

  • Lyoto Machida vs. Eryk Anders
  • John Dodson vs. Pedro Munhoz
  • Priscila Cachoeira vs. Valentina Shevchenko
  • Desmond Green vs. Michel Prazeres
  • Marcelo Golm vs. Timothy Johnson
  • Thiago “Marreta” Santos vs. Anthony Smith
  • Tim Means vs. Sergio Moraes
  • Damir Hadzovic vs. Alan Patrick
  • Douglas de Andrade vs. Marlon Vera
  • Iuri Alcantara vs. Joe Soto
  • Deiveson Figueiredo vs. Joseph Morales
  • Polyana Viana vs. Maia Stevenson

For more on UFC Fight Night 125, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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

Jul 22, 2017; Long Island, NY, USA; Eryk Anders (blue gloves) reacts to fight against Rafael Natal (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Nassau Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports Nov 21, 2009; Tuscaloosa, AL, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide linebacker Eryk Anders (32) during the game against the Chattanooga Mocs at Bryant Denny Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports Nov 29, 2008; Tuscaloosa, AL, USA: Alabama Crimson Tide linebacker Eryk Anders (32) reacts after sacking Auburn Tigers quarterback Kodi Burns (18) during the first half of the Iron Bowl at Bryant Denny Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports Oct 24, 2009; Tuscaloosa, AL, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide linebacker Eryk Anders (32) attempts to block the pass of Tennessee Volunteers quarterback Jonathan Crompton (8) at Bryant Denny Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports Jan 7, 2010; Pasadena, CA, USA; Texas Longhorns quarterback Garrett Gilbert (3) fumbles as he is sacked by Alabama Crimson Tide linebacker Eryk Anders (32) during the fourth quarter of the 2010 BCS national championship game at the Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports Jul 22, 2017; Long Island, NY, USA; Rafael Natal (red gloves) fights Eryk Anders (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Nassau Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports Jul 22, 2017; Long Island, NY, USA; Rafael Natal (red gloves) fights Eryk Anders (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Nassau Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports Jul 22, 2017; Long Island, NY, USA; Rafael Natal (red gloves) fights Eryk Anders (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Nassau Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports Jul 22, 2017; Long Island, NY, USA; Rafael Natal (red gloves) fights Eryk Anders (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Nassau Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports Jul 22, 2017; Long Island, NY, USA; Eryk Anders (blue gloves) reacts to fight against Rafael Natal (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Nassau Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports December 9, 2017; Fresno, CA, USA; Eryk Anders (red gloves) fights Markus Perez (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Save Mart Center. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports December 9, 2017; Fresno, CA, USA; Eryk Anders (red gloves) fights Markus Perez (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Save Mart Center. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports December 9, 2017; Fresno, CA, USA; Eryk Anders (red gloves) fights Markus Perez (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Save Mart Center. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports December 9, 2017; Fresno, CA, USA; Eryk Anders (red gloves) fights Markus Perez (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Save Mart Center. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports December 9, 2017; Fresno, CA, USA; Eryk Anders (red gloves) fights Markus Perez (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Save Mart Center. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports jQuery.extend( window._usmgOptions,{ scriptUrl: "https://s2.wp.com/wp-content/themes/vip/usatoday-plugins/api-galleries/assets", analyticsCallback: "galleryAnalytics", fullscreenUrl: "http://mmajunkie.com/sigallery/XeoSw22FriqHk66aooWmSD/294935", customAnalytics: true, title: "Eryk Anders", feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == "undefined") ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();
Filed under: Blue Corner, News, UFC

Stream or download MMAjunkie Radio #2594 with A.J. Hawk, Eric Nicksick

Stream or download Friday’s episode of MMAjunkie Radio with guests A.J. Hawk and Eric Nicksick.

Hawk, former Packers linebacker and co-host of “MMA Tonight” on SiriusXM Rush 93, talked about how he got into MMA and what NFL players he thinks would make good fighters. Nicksick, general manager of Xtreme Couture in Las Vegas, gave an update on what’s been going on at the gym.


Filed under: Bellator, News, Radio, UFC

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

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Filed under: Featured, News, UFC, Videos

In an extended preview for this month’s UFC 220 event, veteran UFC commentator Joe Rogan has some major praise for headliner Francis Ngannou.

Is the heavyweight contender and title challenger the “scariest man in the history” in MMA?

Rogan is known to get a bit loose and liberal in his praise during event promos, but during Ngannou’s short and often-violent MMA career, he’s certainly earned himself some consideration for the label.

UFC 220 takes place Jan. 20 at TD Garden in Boston. The main card, including the headliner between Ngannou (11-1 MMA, 6-0 UFC) and heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic (17-2 MMA, 11-2 UFC), airs on pay-per-view following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass.

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

“He was homeless just a few years ago,” Rogan says while discussing Ngannou’s quick rise in the sport. “Five years ago, he walks into an MMA gym, has virtually no traditional martial-arts training. Five years later, he’s the scariest man in the history of the sport.”

Ngannou, who’s No. 2 in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA heavyweight rankings, now meets No. 1-ranked Miocic (17-2 MMA, 11-2 UFC), a fellow knockout artist who looks for a UFC-record third straight heavyweight title defense when they tangle in two weeks.

Miocic, who’s won five straight fights via knockout, seems unfazed by the challenge head of him.

RelatedStipe Miocic intimidated by Francis Ngannou? 'I guess so,' champ says

“I can beat anyone on their best day,” he says in the preview.

Check out the full video, which includes a look at the co-headliner between light-heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier (19-1 MMA, 8-1 UFC) and Volkan Oezdemir (15-1 MMA, 3-0 UFC), above.

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

Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Francis Ngannou (blue gloves) reacts to fight against Alistair Overeem (red gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Alistair Overeem (red gloves) fights Francis Ngannou (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Alistair Overeem (red gloves) fights Francis Ngannou (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Francis Ngannou (blue gloves) reacts to fight against Alistair Overeem (red gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Francis Ngannou (blue gloves) reacts to fight against Alistair Overeem (red gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Jan 28, 2017; Denver, CO, USA; Andrei Arlovski (red gloves) competes against Francis Ngannou (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports Jan 28, 2017; Denver, CO, USA; Andrei Arlovski (red gloves) competes against Francis Ngannou (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports Jan 28, 2017; Denver, CO, USA; Andrei Arlovski (red gloves) competes against Francis Ngannou (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports Jan 28, 2017; Denver, CO, USA; Andrei Arlovski (red gloves) competes against Francis Ngannou (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports Jan 28, 2017; Denver, CO, USA; Andrei Arlovski (red gloves) competes against Francis Ngannou (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports Jan 28, 2017; Denver, CO, USA; Francis Ngannou (blue gloves) reacts after defeating Andrei Arlovski (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports Jan 28, 2017; Denver, CO, USA; Francis Ngannou (blue gloves) reacts after defeating Andrei Arlovski (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports Dec 9, 2016; Albany, NY, USA; Anthony Hamilton (blue gloves) fights Francis Ngannou (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Times Union Center. Mandatory Credit: Michael Adamucci-USA TODAY Sports July 23, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Francis Ngannou (red gloves) pins Bojan Mihajlovic (blue gloves) to the mat and wins by TKO during UFC Fight Night at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports July 23, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Francis Ngannou (red gloves) celebrates after defeating Bojan Mihajlovic (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports July 23, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Francis Ngannou (red gloves) celebrates after defeating Bojan Mihajlovic (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports April 10, 2016; Zagreb, Croatia; Francis Ngannou throws a punch against Curtis Blaydes during UFC Fight Night at Zagreb Arena. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports April 10, 2016; Zagreb, Croatia; Francis Ngannou fights against Curtis Blaydes during UFC Fight Night at Zagreb Arena. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports April 10, 2016; Zagreb, Croatia; Francis Ngannou reacts after he is declared the winner by TKO against Curtis Blaydes during UFC Fight Night at Zagreb Arena. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports December 19, 2015; Orlando, FL, USA; Francis Ngannou celebrates his knockout victory against Luis Henrique during UFC Fight Night at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-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/o8xUqxTD73PHU8df7LQMhk/294923", customAnalytics: true, title: "Francis Ngannou", feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == "undefined") ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();
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Bellator 192's Michael Chandler: Goiti Yamauchi tougher than 'so-called fighter' Brent Primus

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Despite Brent Primus’ claims, Michael Chandler wants to make it abundantly clear that he never turned down a fight with Bellator’s current 155-pound champ.

The news of a matchup between Michael Chandler (16-4 MMA, 13-4 BMMA) and Goiti Yamauchi (22-3 MMA, 8-2 BMMA) was received with some level of surprise a few weeks ago. After all, following the strange first encounter that saw Primus (8-0 MMA, 6-0 BMMA) taking Chandler’s belt, the rematch seemed like the obvious fight to make.

At the time, Primus told MMAFighting.com that Chandler had turned down the title rematch in favor of a move to 170 pounds. And the news of the 155-pound booking with Yamauchi, Primus said, was just as surprising to him as it was to everyone else.

Chandler, however, is emphatic: He’s never been one to turn down fights and was not about to start with Primus.

RelatedWatch ex-Bellator champ Michael Chandler train hard for comeback in powerful mini-doc

“You would literally fall on the floor and pass out if somebody told you that Michael Chandler pulled out of a fight or passed up a fight or turned down a fight,” Chandler told MMAjunkie Radio. “That’s not who I am; that’s not who I’ve ever been. Yet, the so-called fighter on the other side has had eight fights in the last eight years. He has consistently fought one time in the last eight years. He and I have been in the game the same amount of time, yet I have almost three times the amount of fights that he has.

“I have fought with injuries, I have taken fights that I shouldn’t have, I have taken fights on short notice. I’ve moaned and complained and cried and screamed at the top of my lungs that I don’t fight enough, that I don’t get used enough. I fought one time in the year of 2017, and I am not happy about it. So, man, it’s one of those things where people are going to say what they want to say.

“The people who know me, who are real fans, the people who know me and my character and my tenacity to want to go out there and compete for my pay checks know that I haven’t turned down the fight. Bellator told me that he didn’t want to fight me. And then, supposedly, Bellator told him I didn’t want to fight him.”

While Chandler had expressed his desire to fight at 170 pounds in the past, he’s been quite vocal about his dissatisfaction with the TKO loss at Bellator NYC. Primus insists he was the one who caused nerve damage and, therefore, should get credit for his win, but Chandler has consistently discounted the validity of Primus’ title.

RelatedPrimus rematch? Sure, but Michael Chandler also eyes 170 with MacDonald and Daley

Even Bellator President Scott Coker had previously said Chandler was next in line for the title shot, beating Patricky Freire to it, and that the hold-up was Primus and his baby.

Obviously, that isn’t happening. And Chandler, who also just recently became a proud father, is now ready to “move on to bigger things.” Career-wise, that starts Jan. 20, when he meets 25-year-old Yamauchi on the main card of Bellator 192, which takes place at The Forum in Inglewood, Calif., and airs on Paramount following prelims on MMAjunkie.

Yamauchi enters the bout on an impressive three-fight win streak – all by first-round submission. And while his name is a relatively obscure one, the former 155-pound champ believes he’s got a more credentialed opponent in him than he did in Primus.

“Yamauchi is a tougher fight than (Primus) is,” Chandler said. “Yamauchi is a more dangerous fight than he is. Yamauchi takes the sport more seriously – as you can see in his 20-something fights and 18 submission wins, compared to eight professional fights in eight years.

“So, man, you can have the belt. You can have the world champion behind or name or whatever you want to call it. But it’s got an asterisk. And that asterisk is that you didn’t truly beat Michael Chandler.

“Everybody knows it. I gained more fans losing at Madison Square Garden and telling the whole world to cut my leg off, and I’ll continue to fight than he did at winning a fight. So I’m not worried about that stuff. I’m the most violent, most exciting fighter in mixed martial arts. I just want to go out there and beat this guy, who’s a young, hungry, real fighter.”

To hear from Chandler, check out the video above.

And for more on Bellator 192, check out the MMA 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, Brian “Goze” Garcia and Dan Tom. For more information or to download past episodes, go to www.mmajunkie.com/radio.

Jun 24, 2017; New York, NY, USA; Brent Primus (blue gloves) reacts to fight against Michael Chandler (red gloves) during Bellator NYC at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports Jun 24, 2017; New York, NY, USA; Michael Chandler (red gloves) fights Brent Primus (blue gloves) during Bellator NYC at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports Jun 24, 2017; New York, NY, USA; Michael Chandler (red gloves) fights Brent Primus (blue gloves) during Bellator NYC at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports Jun 24, 2017; New York, NY, USA; Michael Chandler (red gloves) fights Brent Primus (blue gloves) during Bellator NYC at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports Jun 24, 2017; New York, NY, USA; Michael Chandler (red gloves) fights Brent Primus (blue gloves) during Bellator NYC at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports Jun 24, 2017; New York, NY, USA; Michael Chandler (red gloves) ankle looked at buy doctor during fight against Brent Primus (blue gloves) during Bellator NYC at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports Jun 24, 2017; New York, NY, USA; Michael Chandler (red gloves) ankle durning the fight against Brent Primus (blue gloves) during Bellator NYC at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports Jun 24, 2017; New York, NY, USA; Michael Chandler (red gloves) fights Brent Primus (blue gloves) during Bellator NYC at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports jQuery.extend( window._usmgOptions,{ scriptUrl: "https://s2.wp.com/wp-content/themes/vip/usatoday-plugins/api-galleries/assets", analyticsCallback: "galleryAnalytics", fullscreenUrl: "http://mmajunkie.com/sigallery/AL7ThTk8Mg3iohryXbwYNG/294826", customAnalytics: true, title: "Primus def. Chandler", feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == "undefined") ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();
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UFC 221 lineup is finalized; how do you rate Western Australia's PPV debut?

July 8, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Robert Whittaker (blue gloves) is awarded the belt from UFC president Dana White after defeating Yoel Romero (red gloves) during UFC 213 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports July 8, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Robert Whittaker (blue gloves) walks to the octagon to fight Yoel Romero (not pictured) during UFC 213 at T-Mobile Arena. Whittaker def. Romero via unanimous decision (48-47, 48-47, 48-47). Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports July 8, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Yoel Romero (red gloves) fights Robert Whittaker (blue gloves) during UFC 213 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports July 8, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Yoel Romero (red gloves) fights Robert Whittaker (blue gloves) during UFC 213 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports July 8, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Yoel Romero (red gloves) fights Robert Whittaker (blue gloves) during UFC 213 at T-Mobile Arena. Whittaker def. Romero via unanimous decision (48-47, 48-47, 48-47). Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports July 8, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Yoel Romero (red gloves) fights Robert Whittaker (blue gloves) during UFC 213 at T-Mobile Arena. Whittaker def. Romero via unanimous decision (48-47, 48-47, 48-47). Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports July 8, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Yoel Romero (red gloves) fights Robert Whittaker (blue gloves) during UFC 213 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports July 8, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Robert Whittaker (blue gloves) celebrates after fighting Yoel Romero (red gloves) during UFC 213 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports July 8, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Robert Whittaker (blue gloves) celebrates after fighting Yoel Romero (red gloves) during UFC 213 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports July 8, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Robert Whittaker (blue gloves) leaves the octagon with wife Sofia Whittaker (left) after defeating Yoel Romero (not pictured) during UFC 213 at T-Mobile Arena. Whittaker def. Romero via unanimous decision (48-47, 48-47, 48-47). Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-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; 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; 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; 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; 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 Nov 27, 2016; Melbourne, Australia; Robert Whittaker (red gloves) competes against Derek Brunson (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Rod Laver Arena. Mandatory Credit: Matt Roberts-USA TODAY Sports Nov 27, 2016; Melbourne, Australia; Robert Whittaker (red gloves) celebrates winning his bout against Derek Brunson (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Rod Laver Arena. Mandatory Credit: Matt Roberts-USA TODAY Sports Nov 27, 2016; Melbourne, Australia; Robert Whittaker (red gloves) celebrates with fans after winning his bout against Derek Brunson (not pictured) during UFC Fight Night at Rod Laver Arena. Mandatory Credit: Matt Roberts-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/BhQBf9KhhmkmxUUyXybkMR/294917", customAnalytics: true, title: "Robert Whittaker", feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == "undefined") ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();

The lineup is set for “UFC 221: Whittaker vs. Rockhold,” which marks the organization’s debut pay-per-view event in Western Australia.

Although the country has hosted previous UFC shows – 11 to be exact – the organization has banked its lucrative PPV business on just a couple of Australian events, including “UFC 193: Rousey vs. Holm,” which took place in Melbourne in 2015.

Its first such event in Western Australia takes place Feb. 11 (but airs live in North America on Feb. 10 due to the time difference) at Perth Arena in Perth, Western Australia, Australia. The main card airs on PPV following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass.

RelatedRobert Whittaker, Luke Rockhold discuss Georges St-Pierre's departure before UFC 221 title fight

It’s not exactly the deepest PPV offering in UFC history, but the card does feature a title fight. In the headliner, champion Robert Whittaker (19-4 MMA, 10-2 UFC), who’s No. 2 in the TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA middleweight rankings, meets former titleholder Luke Rockhold (16-3 MMA, 6-2 UFC). Whittaker, a former interim champ, was promoted to undisputed titleholder after Georges St-Pierre recently vacated the belt shortly after winning it from Michael Bisping.

Whittaker, a 27-year-old New Zealander who’s the centerpiece of the fight card, is on an eight-fight winning streak (with four knockouts) since a 2014 loss to Stephen Thompson. Meanwhile, No. 3-ranked Rockhold, 33, rebounded from his title loss to Bisping with a submission victory over former WSOF champ David Branch in September.

In the co-main event, veteran slugger Mark Hunt (13-11-1 MMA, 8-5-1 UFC), who’s No. 10 at heavyweight, meets No. 14-ranked Curtis Blaydes (9-1 MMA, 4-1 UFC) at UFC 221.

RelatedMegan Anderson dismisses Cris Cyborg's claim of UFC 221 title fight as ‘fake news’ (Updated)

Hunt, a 43-year-old native New Zealand and crowd favorite, is coming off a “Fight of the Night” win over Derrick Lewis, but his future was in jeopardy following a controversial first-person column that discussed the health effects of a career in combat sports. He was recently cleared to return to competition and now fights 26-year-old Blaydes, who’s 3-0 (with one no-contest) since a 2016 loss to top contender Francis Ngannou.

Rounding out the main card are heavyweights Cyril Asker (9-3 MMA, 2-2 UFC) vs. Tai Tuivasa (6-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC), welterweights Jake Matthews (11-3 MMA, 5-3 UFC) vs. Li Jingliang (14-4 MMA, 6-2 UFC), and light heavyweights Tyson Pedro (6-1 MMA, 2-1 UFC) vs. Saparbek Safarov (8-1 MMA, 0-1 UFC).

In the featured prelim, lightweights Damien Brown (17-11 MMA, 2-3 UFC) and ”Maestro” Dong Hyun Kim (15-8-3 MMA, 2-2 UFC) clash.

The full UFC 221 lineup includes:

MAIN CARD (Pay-per-view, 10 p.m. ET)

  • Champ Robert Whittaker vs. Luke Rockhold – for middleweight title
  • Curtis Blaydes vs. Mark Hunt
  • Cyril Asker vs. Tai Tuivasa
  • Li Jingliang vs. Jake Matthews
  • Tyson Pedro vs. Saparbek Safarov

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

PRELIMINARY CARD (UFC Fight Pass, 6:45 p.m. ET)

For more on UFC 221, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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