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UFC-Sydney in-depth breakdown: Stylistic matchups, fight picks, best bets and fantasy studs

MMAjunkie Radio cohost and MMAjunkie contributor Dan Tom provides an in-depth breakdown of all of UFC Fight Night 121’s main-card bouts.

UFC Fight Night 121 takes place Sunday (but airs live on Saturday in North America due to the time difference) at Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney. It airs on FS1 following early prelims on UFC Fight Pass.

Fabricio Werdum (21-7-1 MMA, 10-4 UFC)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’4″ Age: 40 Weight: 242 lbs. Reach: 77″
  • Last fight: Submission win over Walt Harris (Oct. 7, 2017)
  • Camp: Kings MMA (California)
  • Stance/striking style: Orthodox / Muay Thai
  • Risk management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+ Former UFC heavyweight champion
+ Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt
+ 6 KO victories
+ 11 submission wins
+ 10 first-round finishes
+ KO power
+ Dynamic attack arsenal
+ Deceptively effective showman
^ Baits/taunts opposition into game
+ Dangerous from Thai plum
+/- Aggressive in exchanges
^ Counter availabilities
+ Superb submission and ground game
+ Excellent sweeps and scrambles
+ Thrives and capitalizes in chaos

Marcin Tybura (16-2 MMA, 3-1 UFC)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’3″ Age: 32 Weight: 243 lbs. Reach: 78″
  • Last fight: Decision win over Andrei Arlovski (June 6, 2017)
  • Camp: Jackson-Wink MMA (New Mexico)
  • Stance/striking style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+ Multiple heavyweight MMA titles
+ Brazilian jiu-jitsu brown belt
+ 7 KO victories
+ 6 submission wins
+ 9 first-round finishes
+ KO power
+ Improved striking combinations
^ Good economy of movement
+ Accurate kicks and knees
^ Works well off of lead leg
+ Strong inside of the clinch
^ Sneaky elbows and solid defense
+ Underrated wrestling ability
^ Well-timed takedowns
+ Excellent transitional grappler
^ Floats, rides, finds way to back

Summary:

The main event in Sydney features a heavyweight showdown between Fabricio Werdum and Marcin Tybura.

Coming off of an impromptu matchup against Walt Harris last month, Werdum, the former champion, will step in for Mark Hunt and attempt to take out another young gun.

Seeking to stop the Brazilian is Tybura, a Polish prospect who is riding a three-fight winning streak, most recently defeating another former champ in Andrei Arlovski.

Despite being criticized early on for his lack of striking presence, Tybura has steadily developed a kickboxing game since coming into the UFC.

Actively prodding with a jab, Tybura will casually add in his right hand, variating between casting punches or hammerfists. Like many Eastern European and Russian kickboxers, Tybura typically punctuates combinations with kicks off of his lead leg.

When using strikes to mask his clinch entries, Tybura has shown a good sense about where potential danger may be coming from, as he now does a better job of moving his head appropriately with his punches. And considering that the Pole has spent this training camp stateside at Jackson-Wink MMA, I can only imagine that his game has continued to grow.

But regardless of Tybura’s potential growth, his counterpart – though a grappling champion – may be his stiffest striking test to date.

Under the care of Rafael Cordeiro, Werdum has steadily parlayed his sporadic showmanship into more of a pressure-fighting process. Putting together his punches more fluidly, the Brazilian will finish his combinations with hard kicks or knees in the clinch.

However, when not throwing in combination, he has a tendency to throw his kicks naked and without setup, as Werdum has been dropped in four of his last nine outings due to right hands finding their mark. That said, many of the former champion’s falls may have been arguable flops given that he is known for his in-cage baits and showmanship.

Akin to a basketball player trying to draw an offensive foul, Werdum will deceptively roll with punches as he relinquishes to his back. Although this may not win Werdum favor with the fans and judges, there is a method to his madness.

Presenting the ambush known as his guard game, Werdum offers up a unique predicament to all who approach.

As we’ve seen time-and-time-again, the Brazilian can submit world champions here – but more importantly, he creates situations to sweep and scramble his way topside, often utilizing deep-half and X-guard variations to escape out the back door.

If Werdum’s opposition decides not to pursue him into deep waters, then they inherently let him off the hook if he is in fact hurt, or give him a breather to recover at the very least. This tactic has stifled the best of killer instincts and has allowed the former champion back into many of fights.

Nevertheless, Werdum cannot get too comfortable in his comfort zone, as Tybura is no novice.

An accomplished brown belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Tybura has translated his grappling game seamlessly into MMA. Doing his best work when on top, the Pole utilizes positioning fundamentals and shoulder pressure to help persuade opposition into giving their back.

Once Tybura can establish some form of mount, he will quickly get to work with strikes to help set up his submission efforts. And though this type of route is highly unlikely against a competitor the caliber of Werdum, Tybura still has the skills to perhaps strategically score points on top, making any potential grappling stanzas even more compelling.

If neither man is successful in getting to the mat on their terms, then crucial parts of this contest will take place in the clinch.

Inside of close quarters, Tybura offers slick elbows off of forearm frames and a solid awareness of hip positioning and underhooks. Still, I side with Werdum in this space, as the Brazilian has developed a devastating Thai clinch since his second run with the promotion.

Currently, the oddsmakers and public have Werdum pegged as the clear favorite to win. But as recent UFC cards have proven, 3-1 odds in a heavyweight matchup can be a tricky and treacherous thing.

Even though Werdum is the better on-paper fighter who has a higher finishing potential both standing and on the floor, I could easily see a scenario where Tybura catches him at the end of a combination. The problem – in my opinion – is that Tybura ultimately allows for too much of the fight’s flow to be decided by his opponent.

For this reason, Tybura can be subject to making fights closer than they arguably should, as he often finds himself stuck against the fence and or short on initiative (and possibly gas). Should Tybura allow for Werdum to establish his pressure and presence, then I see the former champion steadily picking apart the Pole on the feet, and eventually finding his finish on the floor.

Official pick: Werdum inside the distance Official outcome: To be determined

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Fabricio Werdum wants to erase Colby Covington from his mind with UFC-Sydney fight looming

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SYDNEY – Fabricio Werdum is putting Colby Covington out of his mind.

Werdum on Thursday (Friday locally) was charged with common assault for allegedly throwing and hitting Covington with a boomerang outside the Hilton Sydney, the host hotel for UFC Fight Night 121.

The ugly incident caught on camera, and its subsequent ramifications, were an unexpected distraction for Werdum (22-7-1 MMA, 10-4 UFC) as he prepares for his headlining bout with Marcin Tybura (16-2 MMA, 3-1 UFC) on Saturday in the FS1-televised headliner. And now, with his fight just days away, Werdum would like to shift focus back to what brought him to Australia in the first place.

RelatedJon Jones blasts Colby Covington for racism, throws shade after Fabricio Werdum altercation

“I just talk about my fight. My focus, I’m here for a fight,” Werdum told MMAjunkie. “Talking about my fight is best for me.”

Given the unexpected events that have unfolded since Wednesday, and with a December court date in Sydney now looming over him, can Werdum completely focus on the task at hand?

“I have focus for sure. This doesn’t affect nothing, my job. This is nothing for me,” Werdum said. “I’m just focusing on the fight. I have my career. I’m here to fight Marcin Tybura, and he’s a very tough guy. That’s it, man. Sunday, I want to put on a big show for the fans. That’s my big thing here.”

Tybura isn’t expecting anything less from Werdum, either.

“I don’t think I could take advantage of him being part of the situation,” Tybura told MMAjunkie. “I think he’ll still be focused on the fight, and it’ll be the toughest Fabricio Werdum ever.”

Though he faces legal trouble as the result for his encounter with Covington (13-1 MMA, 8-1 UFC), Werdum said the UFC assured him the “main event is going to happen, 100 percent.”

RelatedAustralian TV news report on Werdum-Covington boomerang incident is ... interesting?

Earlier in the day, Werdum spoke about being tired of the growing trash-talk culture in MMA, which Covington has embraced in controversial fashion. Werdum reiterated his feelings, citing newly crowned women’s strawweight champion Rose Namajunas’ post-UFC 217 message as the example for how he wishes fighters would conduct themselves.

“She’s amazing, man,” Werdum said. I saw the interview. I posted it on my Instagram. She’s very emotional. She said very nice, real things. Why is this new generation starting to talk bad things and saying bad things about your country … this is no good. Martial arts is about respect. Why don’t we respect everyone?”

For more on UFC Fight Night 121, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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UFC Fight Night 121 media day face-offs: Sadly, there were no boomerangs

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SYDNEY – While former UFC heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum has been involved in the biggest headlines surrounding this week’s UFC Fight Night 121 event in Australia, “Vai Cavalo” was a bit more subdued on stage today when standing across from opponent Marcin Tybura.

UFC Fight Night 121 takes place Saturday (Sunday locally) at Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney. It airs on FS1 following early prelims on UFC Fight Pass.

RelatedUFC Fight Night 121 pre-event facts: Fabricio Werdum brings big numbers

Standing in stark contrast to this week’s hotel-lobby clash, Werdum (22-7-1 MMA, 10-4 UFC) and Tybura (16-2 MMA, 3-1 UFC) were respectful during a quick meeting on stage at a ballroom inside this week’s host hotel. The same stood for the session’s other featured athletes, including Elias Theodorou (13-2 MMA, 5-2 UFC) vs. Daniel Kelly (13-2 MMA, 6-2 UFC), Alex Volkanovski (15-1 MMA, 2-0 UFC) vs. Shane Young (11-3 MMA, 0-0 UFC) and Rashad Coulter (8-2 MMA, 0-1 UFC) vs. Tai Tuivasa (7-0 MMA, 0-0 UFC).

Check out the video above to see this week’s media day face-offs.

For more on UFC Fight Night 121, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

Oct 7, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Fabricio Werdum (red gloves) reacts after defeating Walt Harris (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; Fabricio Werdum (red gloves) fights Walt Harris (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; Fabricio Werdum (red gloves) competes against Walt Harris (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; Fabricio Werdum (red gloves) reacts after defeating Walt Harris (blue gloves) during the first round during UFC 216 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports July 8, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Fabricio Werdum (red gloves) walks to the octagon to fight Alistair Overeem (not pictured) during UFC 213 at T-Mobile Arena. Overeem def. Werdum via majority decision (28-28, 29-28, 29-28). Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports July 8, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Fabricio Werdum (red gloves) fights Alistair Overeem (blue gloves) during UFC 213 at T-Mobile Arena. Overeem def. Werdum via majority decision (28-28, 29-28, 29-28). Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports July 8, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Fabricio Werdum (red gloves) fights Alistair Overeem (blue gloves) during UFC 213 at T-Mobile Arena. Overeem def. Werdum via majority decision (28-28, 29-28, 29-28). Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports July 8, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Fabricio Werdum (red gloves) fights Alistair Overeem (blue gloves) during UFC 213 at T-Mobile Arena. Overeem def. Werdum via majority decision (28-28, 29-28, 29-28). Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports Sep 10, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Fabricio Werdum (red gloves) competes against Travis Browne (blue gloves) during UFC 203 at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports Sep 10, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Fabricio Werdum (red gloves) competes against Travis Browne (blue gloves) during UFC 203 at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports Sep 10, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Fabricio Werdum (red gloves) competes against Travis Browne (blue gloves) during UFC 203 at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports Sep 10, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Fabricio Werdum (red gloves) competes against Travis Browne (blue gloves) during UFC 203 at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports Sep 10, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Fabricio Werdum (red gloves) competes against Travis Browne (blue gloves) during UFC 203 at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports Sep 10, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Fabricio Werdum (red gloves) is separated from Travis Browne (blue gloves) during UFC 203 at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports Sep 10, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Fabricio Werdum (red gloves) defeats Travis Browne (blue gloves) during UFC 203 at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-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/nGLZcDFY7c2f2BPH9oQDBd/284933", customAnalytics: true, title: "Fabricio Werdum", feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == "undefined") ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();
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'TUF 27' tryouts set for Dec. 12; UFC seeks undefeated male fighters only

The search for the next crop of “The Ultimate Fighter” contestants begins begins next month with one major catch: Hopefuls must hold undefeated professional records.

The casting call for “The Ultimate Fighter 27: Battle of the Undefeated” is for male fighters only who compete at featherweight (145 pounds), lightweight (155) and welterweight (170). As history has shown, though, there are no guarantees of which weight classes – or class – will end up on the show.

The tryouts will be held Dec. 12 at Palace Station Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, and they begin at 8 a.m. PT.

The undefeated fighters who wish to participate need to have at least three fights as a pro. The show begins taping in January 2018 and will air on FS1 later in the year.

RelatedReferee and judge assignments set for The Ultimate Fighter 26 Finale

Candidates must be aged 21 to 34. They need to fill out an application (available at UFC.com) and bring it to the tryouts. The fighters will grapple and hit pads, and must bring appropriate gear.

If selected to continue the casting process past the first day, fighters will need to be prepared to remain in Las Vegas until Dec. 16.

“TUF” is currently airing its 26th domestic edition. “The Ultimate Fighter 26: A New World Champion” features 16 competitors angling for an opportunity to become the inaugural UFC women’s flyweight champion. The two teams have been led by former UFC champion Eddie Alvarez and ex-WSOF champ Justin Gaethje.

“TUF” debuted in 2005 and has launched the careers of hundreds of current and past UFC fighters. It’s also produced champions in Forrest Griffin, Rashad Evans, Michael Bisping, Matt Serra, T.J. Dillashaw, and Carla Esparza.

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


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Marcin Tybura sees major opportunity in UFC-Sydney headliner vs. Fabricio Werdum

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SYDNEY – Marcin Tybura’s training camp already was underway when the UFC sort of pulled the rug out from underneath him.

Citing “medical concerns,” the promotion pulled Mark Hunt from the UFC Fight Night 121 headliner and replaced him with Fabricio Werdum, a drastic change in opponent in terms of fighting style. Tybura didn’t mind, though, feeling like he still had plenty of time to alter his preparation.

“It was a big change, because he’s a completely different fighter from Mark Hunt,” Tybura told MMAjunkie on Thursday. “Coaches just came up with a new plan with new stuff. There was lots of ideas. … They’ve experienced lots of opponents changing short notice. (This) wasn’t really short notice, because it was still six weeks to go. So, we changed the plan and started to prepare for Fabricio.”

RelatedUFC Fight Night 121 pre-event facts: Fabricio Werdum brings big numbers

Werdum (22-7-1 MMA, 10-4 UFC) and Tybura (16-2 MMA, 3-1 UFC) will meet in the FS1-televised UFC Fight Night 121 headliner on Saturday night (Sunday morning in Sydney) from Qudos Bank Arena.

For Werdum, it’s a rather quick turnaround. He competed just last month at UFC 216, where he submitted Walt Harris with an armbar in just 65 seconds. Werdum accepted the fight with Tybura just three days later.

The fight with Werdum is the biggest of Tybura’s career. For starters, it’s Tybura’s first UFC main event. And the change in booking from Hunt to Werdum means Tybura, who’s No. 8 in the official UFC rankings, jumps up from originally facing the No. 5 fighter to No. 2.

Tybura naturally is the underdog, and he’s quite comfortable with that.

RelatedFabricio Werdum tired of trash talk culture with Conor McGregor copycats

“I feel good as the underdog,” Tybura said. “That’s what it takes to climb to the top. You’re always the underdog. If you want to challenge yourself, you pick the better opponents, and you want to climb the ladder to beat the best fighters in the world.”

Werdum presents a major challenge with his Brazilian jiu-jitsu, which goes back to how Tybura adjusted his preparation some six weeks ago. He’s confident with the fight going anywhere – even down to the mat.

“I think I can survive there,” Tybura said. “That’s really what the thing is. This is my first fight where my opponent is a better grappler. That’s something new for me. I know he’s a good striker, as well. He’s well rounded. For sure it’s the hardest fight in my career. But I think I can handle the fight in all of the aspects. … There’s danger with everything. I just need to be focused.”

To hear more from Tybura, check out our one-on-one interview with him above, as well as his open workouts scrum below.

For more on UFC Fight Night 121, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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Fabricio Werdum charged with assault for allegedly hitting Colby Covington with boomerang

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The ugly altercation between Fabricio Werdum and Colby Covington in Australia has resulted in legal action.

Werdum, 40, on Thursday was charged with common assault for allegedly throwing and hitting Covington, 29, with a boomerang outside the Hilton Sydney, the host hotel for UFC Fight Night 121.

Werdum, who is scheduled to headline Saturday’s event vs. Marcin Tybura, is expected to appear in court next month.

The New South Wales Police force announced the news on its website:

A man will face court after he allegedly assaulted a man with a boomerang yesterday.

About 1.30pm (Thursday 16 November 2017), a 40-year-old man and a 29-year-old man became involved in an altercation outside a hotel on George Street, Sydney.

The incident escalated when the 40-year-old man allegedly threw a bag containing the boomerang at the other man, which hit him in the neck.

Officers from Sydney City Local Area Command were later alerted to the incident and commenced investigations.

Following inquiries, a 40-year-old man was issued with a Field Court Attendance Notice for common assault.

He is expected to appear at Downing Centre Local Court on Wednesday 13 December 2017.

Neither man required medical treatment following the incident.

The encounter took place Wednesday (Thursday locally), and parts of it were captured in two videos.

Werdum told MMAjunkie the incident started in the hotel lobby, where he crossed paths with Covington while on the way out. Werdum said he didn’t notice Covington, who’s there as a UFC guest, until Covington called him a “Brazilian animal.” That’s when Werdum said he reacted by knocking Covington’s phone out of his hand. Covington, in turn, responded with a low kick that Werdum said he blocked.

Werdum made no mention of the alleged boomerang-throwing incident, though video surfaced on Facebook.

Covington’s live stream picks up near the end of the incident. By the time Covington’s video begins, he’s already on an expletive-filled tirade aimed at Werdum, which includes the use of at least one homophobic slur.

“Look at this f*cking clown! You’re a f*cking clown, Fabricio Werdum!” Covington says. “You’re a filth … yeah, what’s up? You just punched me in the face! You wanna come punch me again, b*tch! What? What? Yeah, you think you’re so tough! Look at you, f*cking f*****! That’s right! You’re a little b*tch! What? I’m gonna see you soon! I’m gonna see you soon, motherf*cker! You’re old, motherf*cker! You ain’t shit!”

RelatedAustralian TV news report on Werdum-Covington boomerang incident is ... interesting?

Covington then turns the camera on himself and speaks into it before the video cuts off.

“F*ck Brazil. F*ck Fabricio Werdum. Little b*tch ass,” Covington says. “F*ck Brazil. A bunch of filthy animals. And they wonder why they get talked to like that. Because they’re a bunch of animals.”

The UFC said it would investigate to determine if either fighter broke Athlete Conduct Policy regulations.

For more on UFC Fight Night 121, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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Damien Brown admits stress of fighting out contract proved tough in last outing

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SYDNEY – When Damien Brown started his training camp for UFC Fight Night 121, it was with a pretty massive leap of faith.

Eight weeks before the event, Brown didn’t have an opponent. He didn’t have official confirmation he was on the card. Hell, he actually didn’t even have a UFC contract. His deal was up after a knockout loss to Vinc Pichel in June.

But that leap of faith included the hope a deal with get done, and he’d wind up fighting at home in Australia. That’s what Brown (17-10 MMA, 2-2 UFC) will do on Saturday in a welterweight bout against Frank Camacho (20-5 MMA, 0-1 UFC).

UFC Fight Night 121 takes place Sunday (but airs live on Saturday in North America due to the time difference) at Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney. It airs on FS1 following early prelims on UFC Fight Pass.

Brown said in his loss to Pichel, he had put pressure on himself because it was the last fight on his deal – and he wanted to make a statement.

“Getting hit in the chin in the right spot puts people to sleep – it doesn’t have to be hard,” Brown told MMAjunkie. “That’s the fight game. I think I’ve done all right – 27 pro fights, and I’ve only lost twice by knockout. I’m not worried about it. I felt like I was winning the fight.

“It wasn’t to be. There was a bit of pressure, and maybe I put it on myself – it was the last fight on my deal. But that’s in the past. I think I’ve put a solid camp in this time and I’ve made the appropriate changes. I think we’ll move forward this (Saturday).”

Against Camacho, Brown is a slight underdog and will be trying to avoid his first losing streak since 2014, when he was mired in a four-fight slump, including three under the Cage Warriors banner.

Because of times like that, and a three-fight skid earlier in his career, Brown said he knows about dealing with adversity and plans to just get right back to the winning ways that saw him win seven of eight before Pichel caught him.

“I put pressure on myself,” he said. “I think the disappointment wasn’t so much the loss, but the effect the loss had on potential contract negotiations. I was off contract after that fight. I didn’t just want to go in there and bust out a lazy decision like some guys do. I wanted to go in there and make a statement. That’s what I did, and it wasn’t my day. But the matchmakers and the UFC did like they said they would – they re-signed me, and we took the deal we were offered, and here we are.”

For more from Brown, check out the video above.

And for more on UFC Fight Night 121, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

Nov 27, 2016; Melbourne, Australia; Damien Brown (red gloves) reacts after his bout against Jon Tuck (not pictured) during UFC Fight Night at Rod Laver Arena. Mandatory Credit: Matt Roberts-USA TODAY Sports Nov 27, 2016; Melbourne, Australia; Damien Brown (red gloves) competes against Jon Tuck (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Rod Laver Arena. Mandatory Credit: Matt Roberts-USA TODAY Sports Nov 27, 2016; Melbourne, Australia; Damien Brown (red gloves) competes against Jon Tuck (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Rod Laver Arena. Mandatory Credit: Matt Roberts-USA TODAY Sports Nov 27, 2016; Melbourne, Australia; Damien Brown (red gloves) competes against Jon Tuck (not pictured) during UFC Fight Night at Rod Laver Arena. Mandatory Credit: Matt Roberts-USA TODAY Sports Nov 27, 2016; Melbourne, Australia; Damien Brown (red gloves) competes against Jon Tuck (not pictured) during UFC Fight Night at Rod Laver Arena. Mandatory Credit: Matt Roberts-USA TODAY Sports Nov 27, 2016; Melbourne, Australia; Damien Brown (red gloves) competes against Jon Tuck (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Rod Laver Arena. Mandatory Credit: Matt Roberts-USA TODAY Sports Nov 27, 2016; Melbourne, Australia; Damien Brown (red gloves) competes against Jon Tuck (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Rod Laver Arena. Mandatory Credit: Matt Roberts-USA TODAY Sports Nov 27, 2016; Melbourne, Australia; Damien Brown (red gloves) competes against Jon Tuck (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Rod Laver Arena. Mandatory Credit: Matt Roberts-USA TODAY Sports Nov 27, 2016; Melbourne, Australia; Damien Brown (red gloves) competes against Jon Tuck (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Rod Laver Arena. Mandatory Credit: Matt Roberts-USA TODAY Sports Nov 27, 2016; Melbourne, Australia; Damien Brown (red gloves) competes against Jon Tuck (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Rod Laver Arena. Mandatory Credit: Matt Roberts-USA TODAY Sports Nov 27, 2016; Melbourne, Australia; Damien Brown (red gloves) competes against Jon Tuck (blue gloves) 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/3zZbFkCZLhMtNwXeFTwKid/284852", customAnalytics: true, title: "Brown def. Tuck", feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == "undefined") ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();
Filed under: Featured, News, UFC, Videos

Twitter Mailbag: On McGregor's 'punishment,' Bisping's quick turnaround, and more

Did the UFC settle on an appropriate punishment for Conor McGregor’s Bellator run-in? And is Michael Bisping really fit to fight again so soon after his loss at UFC 217? And, honestly, who throws a boomerang at somebody?

All that and more in this week’s Twitter Mailbag. To ask a question of your own, tweet to @BenFowlkesMMA.

Which do you think is more likely: (1) that the UFC was actually planning to have Conor fight at the end of December or (2) Dana White going on a camping trip with Ariel Helwani?

— Winston (@winstonspeak) November 16, 2017

First of all, there’s nothing about either Dana White or Ariel Helwani that screams, “I love camping.” Second, I have some questions about the Dec. 30 bout that Conor McGregor was supposedly secretly booked in before he got pulled as punishment for his antics in Dublin.

For starters, this incident at Bellator 187 happened on Nov. 10. That’s about seven weeks prior to UFC 219, and we’d heard not even the slightest rumbling about a McGregor fight being booked.

Nothing on social media from McGregor or his camp. Nothing from Tony Ferguson or any other likely next opponent. Nothing from the UFC, which is weird because you’d think this would be the kind of thing the company would want to get out there and promote. The rest of the card is mostly set, so much so that it’s already suffered a major injury withdrawal.

Plus, with its year-end events, the UFC usually announces headliners far in advance. Remember when Brock Lesnar fought Alistair Overeem? Announced in September. Amanda Nunes vs. Ronda Rousey? Announced in October. Chris Weidman vs. Anderson Silva? Announced in July.

You’re telling me that when it comes to the biggest star in the sport, you sit on the news of his next fight until we’re less than two months out?

That makes you think that either the plan to have McGregor headline UFC 219 was in very preliminary stages, or else it didn’t exist.

Even if it did exist, so what? The punishment for a more egregious version of the same transgression that’s gotten other UFC fighters fired is that McGregor’s next fight gets … slightly delayed? In what way is that a punishment for the guy who’s a few months removed from a monster boxing payday?

The whole thing smacks of wolf tickets, as Nick Diaz might say. And as his brother might say, I’m not surprised.

Let’s say there was an alternate world where the UFC had legitimate rankings and scheduled fights accordingly. How much more/less popular/profitable would it be compared to the current model?

— Devin Scott (@dev0ved) November 15, 2017

Depends. In this alternate reality, are fans more interested in rankings, or will they still drop everything and reach for their credit cards when the next “money fight” rolls around?

If we’re upset with the current matchmaking trends, we can’t blame promoters. They have no ideals to abandon. They’re just chasing our dollars and following wherever it leads. If we really wanted a world where No. 1 always fights No. 2 – even if we’ve already seen it, and even if it wasn’t much fun the last time – then promoters would give it to us. But apparently we don’t want that reality, because we keep paying for the other one.

Between Jon Jones, Werdum & Covington – when will we learn that people who live in glass houses shouldn't throw boomerangs?

— Yellow Mat (@Yellowmat200) November 16, 2017

Thoughts on Bisping returning to the cage three weeks after getting dropped a couple times and choked unconscious? Doesn't seem like fighter safety was really taken in to thought with this.

— Ryan (@quaydawg85) November 15, 2017

It’s always a questionable move to fight twice in three weeks, especially when you’re in your late 30s and you’ve taken a lot of punishment over the years, which Michael Bisping certainly has.

The choke doesn’t worry me. It was a blood choke, released right away once Bisping was out, so I wouldn’t worry about lasting damage.

But according to the Fightmetric stats, GSP landed 41 significant strikes to Bisping’s head in that fight, including the hard left that dropped him at the end. Add to that all the blows he likely took in training, plus the blows he may very well have to take against Kelvin Gastelum in either victory or defeat, and you have an awful lot of brain-jostling in a short period of time.

Bisping should be concerned about that, but so should the UFC. I suspect that in the not-too distant future some brain trauma chickens are going to come home to roost for MMA, in much the same way they have in other sports. If and when that happens, the UFC could face some tough questions about its decision to give a 38-year-old man two fights in three weeks – especially when it’s acting as its own regulator for the second one.

Woodley/Diaz…fan? Not a fan? I'm not a fan. I'm very very much not a fan. Chances it's real? If it is why would UFC tarnish a fun fighter in Diaz with what could be a stupid boring fight with a very good but often boring champion outside his weight class? #280

— Max Sawyer (@maxsawyer12) November 15, 2017

As of this writing, a welterweight title fight between champion Tyron Woodley and challenger Nate Diaz is still just a rumor. Hopefully it stays that way. There’s so much interesting stuff going on at welterweight that it makes no sense to reach for Diaz, whose last win at welterweight came against a lightweight.

Diaz has barely fought in the division in the last six years, and the only reason for him to do so now would be to inject some of that Diaz flair into the welterweight title picture. Not a fan.

I'll be in attendance for UFC Fight Night in St. Louis. As someone who has never attended a live event, what will I experience watching fights in person that I normally wouldn't watching at home?

— Brandon (@_theoldcrow_) November 15, 2017

A whole different energy, for one. It seems obvious, but everything seems bigger and louder and more urgent in the arena. Even little stuff like the walkout music, which you hear as background noise on the TV broadcasts (if it’s broadcast at all), becomes an assault on the senses when you’re there live. That carries over into those big, fight-ending moments. You get sucked into the experience more fully inside the arena.

Also, especially since you’re going to a UFC “Fight Night” event? You can use the delays between fights to hit up the beer and hot dog vendor. Instead of, you know, getting forcibly thrown back to the studio in between FarmersOnly.com commercials.

.@benfowlkesMMA do u think ufc boxing is a way to head off some of the work viacom has done with glory/k1 or pbc with nbc? And possibly securing a tv deal? #tmb

— Chris A. N. (@jokercymaos14) November 15, 2017

Until I see with my own eyes a person in boxing gloves throwing a punch at another person with boxing gloves at a Zuffa-promoted event, I will regard any talk of the UFC getting into boxing as pure Just Saying Stuff. It’s the simplest possible explanation at this point.

@benfowlkesMMA Bellator HW tourney is actually more of a cruiser weight affair, could they be onto something here? # twitter mailbag

— Gabe Dert (@GabeDert) November 15, 2017

What Bellator is onto is this: Its biggest names are all fighters who used to be somebody, and that only gets you so far one matchup at a time. But throwing them all together for a tournament that is almost guaranteed to get weird is a way of leveraging their collective drawing power, as well as appealing to the disaster-loving rubberneck impulse of MMA fans in general.

And, honestly, it’s probably going to work. We’re going to watch this thing. At least for as long as it lasts.

Ben Fowlkes is MMAjunkie and USA TODAY’s MMA columnist. Follow him on Twitter at @BenFowlkesMMA. Twitter Mailbag appears every Thursday on MMAjunkie.


Filed under: Featured, News, UFC

Finally ready for promotional debut, Tai Tuivasa ready to take spotlight at UFC-Sydney

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Filed under: Featured, News, UFC, Videos

SYDNEY – The time finally has come for Tai Tuivasa in the UFC. Like play-by-play voice Jon Anik might say, “It shall be done.”

Tuivasa (7-0 MMA, 0-0 UFC) makes his long-awaited promotional debut on Saturday against Rashad Coulter (8-2 MMA, 0-1 UFC) in a heavyweight bout at UFC Fight Night 121, and he gets to do it front of his home fans in Australia.

UFC Fight Night 121 takes place Sunday (but airs live on Saturday in North America due to the time difference) at Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney. It airs on FS1 following early prelims on UFC Fight Pass.

Tuivasa signed with the UFC a year ago, but an injury and knee surgery kept him out till now.

“It’s been a pretty hectic year,” Tuivasa told MMAjunkie at a media day in support of the event. “This time six months ago, I couldn’t move. I had a full knee reconstruction. But it’s been a long time coming and it’s finally here, so I’m ready to grab it with two hands.

“I think I’ve changed a lot myself (in the time off). I’ve got myself fully prepared – mentally prepared. I think this weight cut’s been the easiest. Plus, it’s at home in front of my home crowd, so it can’t get any better than that.”

Tuivasa’s most recent fight came in October 2016 when he defended his AFC heavyweight title with a first-round TKO of UFC vet James McSweeney. That made him a perfect 5-0 as a pro – with five knockouts or TKOs.

And he seems to think against Coulter, more of the same could be on the way.

“Whatever there is, I’ve got to do it – if that’s keep knocking people out, that’s what I do,” Tuivasa said. “He’s going to come to fight, I’m going to come to fight, so it’s going to be a good show.”

For more from Tuivasa, check out the video above.

And for more on UFC Fight Night 121, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.


Filed under: Featured, News, UFC, Videos

Finally ready for promotional debut, Tai Tuivasa ready to take spotlight at UFC-Sydney

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Filed under: Featured, News, UFC, Videos

SYDNEY – The time finally has come for Tai Tuivasa in the UFC. Like play-by-play voice Jon Anik might say, “It shall be done.”

Tuivasa (7-0 MMA, 0-0 UFC) makes his long-awaited promotional debut on Saturday against Rashad Coulter (8-2 MMA, 0-1 UFC) in a heavyweight bout at UFC Fight Night 121, and he gets to do it front of his home fans in Australia.

UFC Fight Night 121 takes place Sunday (but airs live on Saturday in North America due to the time difference) at Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney. It airs on FS1 following early prelims on UFC Fight Pass.

Tuivasa signed with the UFC a year ago, but an injury and knee surgery kept him out till now.

“It’s been a pretty hectic year,” Tuivasa told MMAjunkie at a media day in support of the event. “This time six months ago, I couldn’t move. I had a full knee reconstruction. But it’s been a long time coming and it’s finally here, so I’m ready to grab it with two hands.

“I think I’ve changed a lot myself (in the time off). I’ve got myself fully prepared – mentally prepared. I think this weight cut’s been the easiest. Plus, it’s at home in front of my home crowd, so it can’t get any better than that.”

Tuivasa’s most recent fight came in October 2016 when he defended his AFC heavyweight title with a first-round TKO of UFC vet James McSweeney. That made him a perfect 5-0 as a pro – with five knockouts or TKOs.

And he seems to think against Coulter, more of the same could be on the way.

“Whatever there is, I’ve got to do it – if that’s keep knocking people out, that’s what I do,” Tuivasa said. “He’s going to come to fight, I’m going to come to fight, so it’s going to be a good show.”

For more from Tuivasa, check out the video above.

And for more on UFC Fight Night 121, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.


Filed under: Featured, News, UFC, Videos

Bec Rawlings feeling like a different fighter with no need to worry about a stupid weight cut

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Filed under: Featured, News, UFC, Videos

SYDNEY – Bec Rawlings had been itching for the UFC to add a women’s flyweight division for a while. This week, she finally gets to take advantage of her wish.

Rawlings (7-6 MMA, 2-3 UFC) meets fellow Australian fighter and UFC newcomer Jessica-Rose Clark (7-4 MMA, 0-0 UFC) in the co-main event of UFC Fight Night 121 in front of their home-country fans. After missing the strawweight limit in her most recent fight, Rawlings is glad the days dropping an extra 10 pounds are over.

“Last week, I felt awesome – I had so much energy,” Rawlings told MMAjunkie this week in Sydney. “I was like, ‘This doesn’t feel right. Something feels wrong.’ My coach was like, ‘Yeah, you’re in good shape, and you’re healthy.’ It’s an amazing feeling that I can just focus on open workouts, focus on the media and my fight, and not have to worry about a stupid weight cut.”

UFC Fight Night 121 takes place Sunday (but airs live on Saturday in North America due to the time difference) at Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney. It airs on FS1 following early prelims on UFC Fight Pass.

RelatedMMAjunkie reader predictions: Make your picks for UFC Fight Night 121 in Sydney

Rawlings will be trying to rebound from back-to-back losses to Paige VanZant and Tecia Torres, for whom she missed weight in February at UFC Fight Night 104.

She also will have to deal with a short-notice opponent in Clark, who took the fight a little more than a week ago after Rawlings’ original opponent, Joanne Calderwood, pulled out with an injury.

But Rawlings thinks Clark will bring it – and knows that a pair of Aussie women fighting in front of their home fans could turn in something special.

“The energy from the Australian crowd, it just feels like home,” Rawlings said. “It just gives you a different feeling and makes you want to work even harder out there.

” … It’s annoying getting last-minute changes, but her style is somewhat the same as Joanne. Joanne is somewhat technical, whereas Jess – she’s a tough Aussie. You look at all Aussie girl fighters – we’re tough, we’ve got heart. She’s skillful, and she’s tough, so it’s going to be a hard fight for me. But I’m confident I’m going to win.”

For more from Rawlings, check out the video above.

And for more on UFC Fight Night 121, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

Feb 4, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Bec Rawlings (blue gloves) fights Tecia Torres (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports Feb 4, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Tecia Torres (red gloves) fights Bec Rawlings (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports Feb 4, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Tecia Torres (red gloves) fights Bec Rawlings (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports Feb 4, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Tecia Torres (red gloves) fights Bec Rawlings (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports Feb 4, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Tecia Torres (red gloves) fights Bec Rawlings (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports Aug 27, 2016; Vancouver, BC, Canada; Bec Rawlings (blue gloves) fights Paige VanZant (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Rogers Arena. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports Mar 20, 2015; Brisbane, Australia; Bec Rawlings (red gloves) celebrates after defeating Seohee Ham (not pictured) during UFC Fight Night at Brisbane Entertainment Centre. Mandatory Credit: Matt Roberts-USA TODAY Sports Aug 27, 2016; Vancouver, BC, Canada; Paige Vanzant (red gloves) fights against Bec Rawlings (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Rogers Arena. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports Aug 27, 2016; Vancouver, BC, Canada; Bec Rawlings (blue gloves) fights Paige VanZant (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Rogers Arena. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports Aug 27, 2016; Vancouver, BC, Canada; Bec Rawlings (blue gloves) reacts to the fight against Paige VanZant (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Rogers Arena. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports Mar 20, 2015; Brisbane, Australia; Bec Rawlings (red gloves) prepares to compete against Seohee Ham (not pictured) during UFC Fight Night at Brisbane Entertainment Centre. Mandatory Credit: Matt Roberts-USA TODAY Sports Mar 20, 2015; Brisbane, Australia; Bec Rawlings (red gloves) competes against Seohee Ham (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Brisbane Entertainment Centre. Mandatory Credit: Matt Roberts-USA TODAY Sports Mar 20, 2015; Brisbane, Australia; Bec Rawlings (red gloves) competes against Seohee Ham (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Brisbane Entertainment Centre. Mandatory Credit: Matt Roberts-USA TODAY Sports Mar 20, 2015; Brisbane, Australia; Bec Rawlings (red gloves) competes against Seohee Ham (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Brisbane Entertainment Centre. Mandatory Credit: Matt Roberts-USA TODAY Sports Sep 9, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Bec Rawlings from Launceston, Tasmania arrives on the Red Carpet at Lure Nightclub for the premier of The Ultimate Fighter women in the newly formed women in the strawweight class. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports jQuery.extend( window._usmgOptions,{ scriptUrl: "https://s2.wp.com/wp-content/themes/vip/usatoday-plugins/api-galleries/assets", analyticsCallback: "galleryAnalytics", fullscreenUrl: "http://mmajunkie.com/sigallery/H236pkjCELHW2WzNWgYDDK/284800", customAnalytics: true, title: "Bec Rawlings", feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == "undefined") ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();
Filed under: Featured, News, UFC, Videos

Bec Rawlings feeling like a different fighter with no need to worry about a stupid weight cut

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Filed under: Featured, News, UFC, Videos

SYDNEY – Bec Rawlings had been itching for the UFC to add a women’s flyweight division for a while. This week, she finally gets to take advantage of her wish.

Rawlings (7-6 MMA, 2-3 UFC) meets fellow Australian fighter and UFC newcomer Jessica-Rose Clark (7-4 MMA, 0-0 UFC) in the co-main event of UFC Fight Night 121 in front of their home-country fans. After missing the strawweight limit in her most recent fight, Rawlings is glad the days dropping an extra 10 pounds are over.

“Last week, I felt awesome – I had so much energy,” Rawlings told MMAjunkie this week in Sydney. “I was like, ‘This doesn’t feel right. Something feels wrong.’ My coach was like, ‘Yeah, you’re in good shape, and you’re healthy.’ It’s an amazing feeling that I can just focus on open workouts, focus on the media and my fight, and not have to worry about a stupid weight cut.”

UFC Fight Night 121 takes place Sunday (but airs live on Saturday in North America due to the time difference) at Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney. It airs on FS1 following early prelims on UFC Fight Pass.

RelatedMMAjunkie reader predictions: Make your picks for UFC Fight Night 121 in Sydney

Rawlings will be trying to rebound from back-to-back losses to Paige VanZant and Tecia Torres, for whom she missed weight in February at UFC Fight Night 104.

She also will have to deal with a short-notice opponent in Clark, who took the fight a little more than a week ago after Rawlings’ original opponent, Joanne Calderwood, pulled out with an injury.

But Rawlings thinks Clark will bring it – and knows that a pair of Aussie women fighting in front of their home fans could turn in something special.

“The energy from the Australian crowd, it just feels like home,” Rawlings said. “It just gives you a different feeling and makes you want to work even harder out there.

” … It’s annoying getting last-minute changes, but her style is somewhat the same as Joanne. Joanne is somewhat technical, whereas Jess – she’s a tough Aussie. You look at all Aussie girl fighters – we’re tough, we’ve got heart. She’s skillful, and she’s tough, so it’s going to be a hard fight for me. But I’m confident I’m going to win.”

For more from Rawlings, check out the video above.

And for more on UFC Fight Night 121, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

Feb 4, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Bec Rawlings (blue gloves) fights Tecia Torres (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports Feb 4, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Tecia Torres (red gloves) fights Bec Rawlings (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports Feb 4, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Tecia Torres (red gloves) fights Bec Rawlings (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports Feb 4, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Tecia Torres (red gloves) fights Bec Rawlings (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports Feb 4, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Tecia Torres (red gloves) fights Bec Rawlings (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports Aug 27, 2016; Vancouver, BC, Canada; Bec Rawlings (blue gloves) fights Paige VanZant (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Rogers Arena. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports Mar 20, 2015; Brisbane, Australia; Bec Rawlings (red gloves) celebrates after defeating Seohee Ham (not pictured) during UFC Fight Night at Brisbane Entertainment Centre. Mandatory Credit: Matt Roberts-USA TODAY Sports Aug 27, 2016; Vancouver, BC, Canada; Paige Vanzant (red gloves) fights against Bec Rawlings (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Rogers Arena. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports Aug 27, 2016; Vancouver, BC, Canada; Bec Rawlings (blue gloves) fights Paige VanZant (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Rogers Arena. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports Aug 27, 2016; Vancouver, BC, Canada; Bec Rawlings (blue gloves) reacts to the fight against Paige VanZant (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Rogers Arena. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports Mar 20, 2015; Brisbane, Australia; Bec Rawlings (red gloves) prepares to compete against Seohee Ham (not pictured) during UFC Fight Night at Brisbane Entertainment Centre. Mandatory Credit: Matt Roberts-USA TODAY Sports Mar 20, 2015; Brisbane, Australia; Bec Rawlings (red gloves) competes against Seohee Ham (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Brisbane Entertainment Centre. Mandatory Credit: Matt Roberts-USA TODAY Sports Mar 20, 2015; Brisbane, Australia; Bec Rawlings (red gloves) competes against Seohee Ham (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Brisbane Entertainment Centre. Mandatory Credit: Matt Roberts-USA TODAY Sports Mar 20, 2015; Brisbane, Australia; Bec Rawlings (red gloves) competes against Seohee Ham (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Brisbane Entertainment Centre. Mandatory Credit: Matt Roberts-USA TODAY Sports Sep 9, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Bec Rawlings from Launceston, Tasmania arrives on the Red Carpet at Lure Nightclub for the premier of The Ultimate Fighter women in the newly formed women in the strawweight class. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports jQuery.extend( window._usmgOptions,{ scriptUrl: "https://s2.wp.com/wp-content/themes/vip/usatoday-plugins/api-galleries/assets", analyticsCallback: "galleryAnalytics", fullscreenUrl: "http://mmajunkie.com/sigallery/H236pkjCELHW2WzNWgYDDK/284800", customAnalytics: true, title: "Bec Rawlings", feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == "undefined") ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();
Filed under: Featured, News, UFC, Videos

Watch MMAjunkie Radio here (1 p.m. ET) with Bellator champ Ryan Bader, Phil Baroni

MMAjunkie Radio kicks off today at 1 p.m. ET (10 a.m. PT) with guests Ryan Bader and Phil Baroni.

Bader, Bellator’s light heavyweight champion, is coming off a TKO win to defend his title at Bellator 186 earlier this month in Pennsylvania. Next up, he’ll take part in the promotion’s heavyweight grand prix to attempt to become a two-division champion. MMA veteran Baroni will co-host the show in the second hour and help us understand how the Ali Act could affect MMA.

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

MMAjunkie Radio listener guide:

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

Filed under: Bellator, News, Videos

Stream or download MMAjunkie Radio #2566 with Gray Maynard, Jose Torres, Eric Nicksick

Stream or download Wednesday’s episode of MMAjunkie Radio with guests Gray Maynard, Jose Torres and Eric Nicksick.

Maynard stopped by the studio to talk about his future in the UFC featherweight and lightweight divisions. Torres, who defends his bantamweight title against Gleidson DeJesus on Friday at Titan FC 46, talked about his preparation. Nicksick, who is the general manager at Xtreme Couture, also co-hosted the show and shared what’s next for the gym and its fighters.

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


Filed under: News, Radio, UFC

Matt Serra's take on Conor McGregor's Bellator 187 incident? 'Man, (expletive) that dude'

If you thought the news cycle was over for the Conor McGregor incident in Dublin this past weekend just because Colby Covington and Fabricio Werdum had an open-weight boomerang fight, think again.

By now, you no doubt have heard about and seen McGregor jump the fence to go into the cage at Bellator 187 in Ireland to celebrate with teammate Charlie Ward.

Thanks to some confusion, according to referee Marc Goddard’s explanation, an irate McGregor ultimately went after Goddard and put a hand on him. Videos on social media also show McGregor taking a slap at another event official who told McGregor to get off the cage.

McGregor issued an apology. Goddard issued multiple statements. A commission representative called McGregor’s actions “assault.” The UFC condemned his behavior, though there’s been no word of whether he’ll get an official punishment. (He was not a licensed cornerman at the Bellator event.)

But on the latest episode of the “UFC Unfiltered” podcast with hosts Jim Norton and Matt Serra, the incident was brought up – and former welterweight champion Serra didn’t mince words.

“The point is this: He makes it about himself,” Serra said. “He doesn’t make it about his friends. He’s not doing that to support his friends … Dude – you’re an attention whore. That’s not respectful to your fighter. And what about him jumping on the cage and smacking the official?

“If I did that, if anybody did that, they’d be called a (expletive) asshole. How does this guy get a pass? … He’s acting like a (expletive) asshole.”

The Irishman may be the biggest draw in MMA history, and is coming off a megafight boxing match with Floyd Maywather in August.

He hasn’t competed in MMA in more than a year, since becoming the first concurrent two-division champ in UFC history when he won the lightweight title against Eddie Alvarez at UFC 205 in Madison Square Garden. After that, his featherweight title was stripped, leaving him to focus on lightweight – but he hasn’t defended that belt yet. He didn’t defend his featherweight title, either, choosing instead to fight Nate Diaz at welterweight, then rematch him after being submitted.

Serra believes McGregor can get away with antics like what went down in DUblin because of the star power he brings to the table.

“I just think it’s (expletive) silly that people are like, ‘Ahh, well, that’s Conor, he’s bigger than life!’ He’s allowed to smack somebody? Man, (expletive) that dude. I don’t give a (expletive).”

For complete coverage of Bellator 187, check out the MMA Events section of the site.

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

Aug 26, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Floyd Mayweather Jr. lands a hit against Conor McGregor during their boxing match at the at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports Aug 26, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Floyd Mayweather Jr. reacts before his bout against Conor McGregor at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports Aug 26, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Conor McGregor reacts with the audience before his bout against Floyd Mayweather Jr. at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports Aug 26, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Conor McGregor before fighting Floyd Mayweather Jr at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports Aug 26, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Conor McGregor moves in against Floyd Mayweather Jr. in the first round at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports Aug 26, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Conor McGregor moves in against Floyd Mayweather Jr. in the first round at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports Aug 26, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Conor McGregor moves in against Floyd Mayweather Jr. in the first round at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports Aug 26, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Conor McGregor moves in with a hit against Floyd Mayweather Jr. in the first round at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports Aug 26, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Floyd Mayweather Jr. (black trunks) and Conor McGregor (white trunks) box in the first round of their boxing match at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports Aug 26, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Floyd Mayweather Jr. (black trunks) and Conor McGregor (white trunks) box in the first round of their boxing match at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports Aug 26, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Floyd Mayweather Jr. (black trunks) and Conor McGregor (white trunks) box in the first round of their boxing match at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports Aug 26, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Floyd Mayweather Jr. (black trunks) and Conor McGregor (white trunks) box in the first round of their boxing match at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports Aug 26, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Floyd Mayweather Jr. (black trunks) and Conor McGregor (white trunks) box in the first round of their boxing match at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports Aug 26, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Floyd Mayweather Jr. lands a hit against Conor McGregor during their boxing match at the at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports Aug 26, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Floyd Mayweather Jr. fights against Conor McGregor during a boxing match at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports Aug 26, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Conor McGregor moves in with a hit against Floyd Mayweather Jr. during a boxing match at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports Aug 26, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Conor McGregor fights against Floyd Mayweather Jr. during a boxing match at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports Aug 26, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Conor McGregor holds onto Floyd Mayweather Jr. during a boxing match at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports Aug 26, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Conor McGregor moves in with a hit against Floyd Mayweather Jr. during a boxing match at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports Aug 26, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Floyd Mayweather Jr. lands a hit against Conor McGregor during a boxing match at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports Aug 26, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Floyd Mayweather Jr. lands a hit against Conor McGregor during a boxing match at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports Aug 26, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Conor McGregor lands a hit on Floyd Mayweather Jr. during a boxing match at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports Aug 26, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Floyd Mayweather Jr. lands a hit on Conor McGregor during a boxing match at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports Aug 26, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Conor McGregor moves in with a hit against Floyd Mayweather Jr. during the sixth round at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports Aug 26, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; during a boxing match at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports Aug 26, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Floyd Mayweather Jr. (black trunks) celebrates after knocking out Conor McGregor (white trunks) during their boxing match at T-Mobile Arena. Mayweather won via 10th round TKO. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports Aug 26, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Floyd Mayweather Jr. (black trunks) celebrates after knocking out Conor McGregor (white trunks) during their boxing match at T-Mobile Arena. Mayweather won via 10th round TKO. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports Aug 26, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Floyd Mayweather Jr. (black trunks) celebrates after knocking out Conor McGregor (white trunks) during their boxing match at T-Mobile Arena. Mayweather won via 10th round TKO. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports Aug 26, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Floyd Mayweather Jr. reacts following his TKO victory against Conor McGregor in the tenth round at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports Aug 26, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Referee Robert Byrd stops the fight between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Conor McGregor in the tenth round at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports Aug 26, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Boxing referee Robert Byrd holds Conor McGregor after stopping the right in the tenth round against Floyd Mayweather Jr. in the tenth round during a boxing match at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports Aug 26, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Floyd Mayweather Jr. (black trunks) reacts after knocking out Conor McGregor (not pictured) in their boxing match at T-Mobile Arena. Mayweather won via tenth round TKO. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports Aug 26, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Conor McGregor (left) and Floyd Mayweather Jr. (right) shake hands after their boxing match at T-Mobile Arena. Mayweather won via tenth round TKO. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports Aug 26, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Conor McGregor reacts following his loss in the tenth round by TKO to Floyd Mayweather Jr. at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports Aug 26, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Floyd Mayweather Jr. (left) embraces Conor McGregor following their boxing match at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports jQuery.extend( window._usmgOptions,{ scriptUrl: "https://s2.wp.com/wp-content/themes/vip/usatoday-plugins/api-galleries/assets", analyticsCallback: "galleryAnalytics", fullscreenUrl: "http://mmajunkie.com/sigallery/HPw3CvabZ8Rz65P6nkwQP6/284767", customAnalytics: true, title: "Mayweather def. 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Filed under: Bellator, Blue Corner, Featured Videos, News, UFC

Will home pressure get to Noad Lahat in Bellator 188 headliner? Jimmy Smith weighs in


Filed under: Bellator, Featured, News, Videos

Is the pressure on for Noad Lahat when he fights for Bellator for the second time in front of his home fans in Tel Aviv?

If there’s pressure being a home fan favorite, and being the de facto top guy for a whole country, Lahat didn’t show it a year ago in his promotional debut at Bellator 164. And that impressed Bellator analyst Jimmy Smith.

“Everybody thinks about crowd support – they think about having everyone behind you, they think about having everybody chanting your name,” Smith said in the latest edition of Bellator’s “Foundations” video series, which focused on Lahat. “Fighting has enough pressure, and the idea that you have the hopes of an entire country on your shoulders … everybody’s expecting you to win, hoping that you win, praying that you win – that weighs on you.”

Lahat (11-3 MMA, 2-1 BMMA) takes on Jeremiah Labiano (11-5 MMA, 2-1 BMMA) in Bellator 188’s main event in Israel, where he was born. The fight takes place tonight, but airs Friday night on Spike on tape delay.

At Bellator 164, Lahat took out Scott Cleve in Tel Aviv with a first-round rear-naked choke. Tonight, he’ll be looking to rebound from his first loss in the promotion with an entire country rooting him on.

“In Israel, the sport is growing, but it’s not huge,” Smith said. “There aren’t a lot of representatives that the country can get behind and go, ‘This is our guy.’ Noad Lahat’s that guy.”

Check out the video above to hear more from Smith about Lahat’s return to Israel.

And for more on Bellator 188, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.


Filed under: Bellator, Featured, News, Videos

Alex Davis: Hype always has been part of fight game – but no need to be jerks about it

Looking to attract fans and hype up your image has always been part of the fight game.

Even before MMA, Muhammad Ali talked smack about everything and everyone. I remember many different entertaining fighters who would put on a display before the fight. Who remembers Genki Sudo and his theatrics? They were entertaining, they were positive and they had a meaning to them.

And who remembers when Melvin Manhoef would come in held on a leash by his trainer? How about James Te Huna,  when he and his corners came out to a UFC fight dressed as the Men in Black, dancing and everything?

In the UFC, Rebook put an end to those things.

And then there have always been the talkers. I remember I was at a Cage Warriors event in England back in the day. Ex-UFC champ Michael Bisping fought and caught his opponent in an armbar. He already talked crap way back then. And it was simply him; he wasn’t forcing anything, he just said what came into his head. It was natural. Or Phil Baroni? The “New York Bad Ass” had always been arrogant. Or Chael Sonnen, who was always articulate and intelligent – even when he talk badly about Brazil. And, of course, UFC lightweight champ Conor McGregor: universal smack master.

But not everyone can do this in a smart and intelligent way.

We are starting to see guys try to pick up from McGregor’s example. They pick up the mic after the fight and act like complete jerks. All you hear is rubbish coming out of them. They are simply trying to build hype, get their names out there, get a connection with the public. But I see this is starting to go in a very negative direction.

These guys are watched by millions of people, including millions of kids and teenagers. As in every other sport, they have big followings. The kids tend to emulate them – to talk, walk and dress like they do. Now I wonder: Is this how we want this sport to go mainstream? As a bunch of punks cursing each other?

Is this really the way to make the sport of MMA go to the next level?

MMA is still considered a bloodsport by many – “human cockfighting.” Those who understand it know that it is, really, a combat sport engaged in by very high level masters in the art of fighting. Of course, as a combat sport, there will always be animosity between opponents. They are going to fight you, you know. But it seems to me that we are overdoing our attempts to gain recognition in a very negative way. I think that each individual has his own charisma. Each person and fighter is different.

“Brazilian Cowboy” Alex Oliveira can’t speak enough English to say bad things about anyone even if he wanted to. But he comes out dancing and happy, so people love him. And how about Junior Albini? He isn’t even trying. He came out unintentionally with his shorts rolled up like diapers, but he made the headlines.

I loved what UFC strawweight champion Rose Namajunas said after she took the title from Joanna Jedrzejczyk at UFC 217: enough negativity. UFC middleweight champion Georges St-Pierre is one of the biggest stars in the sport, but I have never seen him being disrespectful toward anything.

They are proof that you do not need to be a jerk to promote yourself.

Sure, as I said before: This is fighting. We get it. You do not have to be in love with your opponents, actual or future. But if your sole modus operandi is to badmouth people, most likely you will end up having an adverse effect on your image. I am looking down the road and I can foresee a time when we will get tired of this. When it will go full circle and we will again appreciate athletes for what they can do inside the ring.

A little entertainment will always be welcome. We are all humans, after all. But how about putting some imagination into it, as it’s been done ages before our time?

Alex Davis is a lifelong practitioner of martial arts and a former Brazilian judo champion. A founding member of American Top Team, Davis currently oversees the careers of a number of prominent Brazilian fighters, including Edson Barboza, Luiz Cane, Rousimar Palhares, Antonio Silva and Thiago Tavares, among others. Davis is a frequent contributor to MMAjunkie and shares his current views on the sport built through his perspectives that date back to the Brazilian roots of modern MMA.


Filed under: Featured, News, UFC

Fabricio Werdum tired of trash talk culture with Conor McGregor copycats

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Filed under: Featured, News, UFC, Videos

SYDNEY – Former UFC heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum has a main event on his hands this weekend, but everyone’s talking about an altercation he had with a guy 70 pounds below him.

Werdum (22-7-1 MMA, 10-4 UFC) fights Marcin Tybura (16-2 MMA, 3-1 UFC) in the UFC Fight Night 121 main event on Saturday. But Wednesday, he ran into UFC welterweight Colby Covington (13-1 MMA, 8-1 UFC) in Sydney, and things got ugly.

In the buildup to his recent fight against Demian Maia in Brazil, Covington put himself out there as MMA’s latest infamous Brazilian insulter. After he beat Maia, his verbal assaults continued.

Werdum is Brazilian. When Covington allegedly had some insults to lob, Werdum lobbed back, both verbally … and with a boomerang. (They’re in Australia, after all.)

“The guys think you can say whatever you want, and it’s not like that,” Werdum told MMAjunkie after a Wednesday workout session for the media. “He didn’t respect Brazil his last fight. He said a lot of bad things, and it’s not good.”

UFC Fight Night 121 takes place Sunday (but airs live on Saturday in North America due to the time difference) at Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney. It airs on FS1 following early prelims on UFC Fight Pass.

Werdum thinks a lot of this trash talk culture comes from UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor, who has become a millionaire many, many times over in part thanks to talking the talk to promote fights.

And more power to him, Werdum thinks – but when others, like Covington, try the same approach, it’s not going over as well.

“These guys try to copy Conor McGregor,” Werdum said. “Conor McGregor did very well, did very good promotion – he’s a very rich guy now. But the other guys try to copy him, and it’s very ridiculous. I don’t like it.”

Werdum lost his heavyweight title by first-round knockout to current champion Stipe Miocic in May 2016. He rebounded that fall with a decision win in a rematch with Travis Browne. In July, he dropped a fight to Alistair Overeem, but bounced back with a 65-second armbar win over Walt Harris at UFC 216 in October.

Getting a streak going again for the first time in three years is crucial for Werdum if he wants to get back into the title picture. Having Covington serving as a distraction ahead of Tybura would not appear to be the best thing – even if Werdum is as much as a 4-1 favorite.

But he says he’s got only the fight on his mind … unless someone like Covington says something to him that requires a response. Then he’ll respond in kind.

“This is nothing,” he said. “I don’t like the guy saying a lot of bad things. But with me, it’s different. I never start saying bad things. I just stay quiet. If the guy says something, I’ll respond for sure. But my big focus is the fight.”

For more on UFC Fight Night 121, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

Oct 7, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Fabricio Werdum (red gloves) reacts after defeating Walt Harris (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; Fabricio Werdum (red gloves) fights Walt Harris (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; Fabricio Werdum (red gloves) competes against Walt Harris (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; Fabricio Werdum (red gloves) reacts after defeating Walt Harris (blue gloves) during the first round during UFC 216 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports July 8, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Fabricio Werdum (red gloves) walks to the octagon to fight Alistair Overeem (not pictured) during UFC 213 at T-Mobile Arena. Overeem def. Werdum via majority decision (28-28, 29-28, 29-28). Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports July 8, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Fabricio Werdum (red gloves) fights Alistair Overeem (blue gloves) during UFC 213 at T-Mobile Arena. Overeem def. Werdum via majority decision (28-28, 29-28, 29-28). Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports July 8, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Fabricio Werdum (red gloves) fights Alistair Overeem (blue gloves) during UFC 213 at T-Mobile Arena. Overeem def. Werdum via majority decision (28-28, 29-28, 29-28). Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports July 8, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Fabricio Werdum (red gloves) fights Alistair Overeem (blue gloves) during UFC 213 at T-Mobile Arena. Overeem def. Werdum via majority decision (28-28, 29-28, 29-28). Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports Sep 10, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Fabricio Werdum (red gloves) competes against Travis Browne (blue gloves) during UFC 203 at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports Sep 10, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Fabricio Werdum (red gloves) competes against Travis Browne (blue gloves) during UFC 203 at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports Sep 10, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Fabricio Werdum (red gloves) competes against Travis Browne (blue gloves) during UFC 203 at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports Sep 10, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Fabricio Werdum (red gloves) competes against Travis Browne (blue gloves) during UFC 203 at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports Sep 10, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Fabricio Werdum (red gloves) competes against Travis Browne (blue gloves) during UFC 203 at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports Sep 10, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Fabricio Werdum (red gloves) is separated from Travis Browne (blue gloves) during UFC 203 at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports Sep 10, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Fabricio Werdum (red gloves) defeats Travis Browne (blue gloves) during UFC 203 at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-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/nGLZcDFY7c2f2BPH9oQDBd/284760", customAnalytics: true, title: "Fabricio Werdum", feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == "undefined") ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start(); if(typeof(jQuery)=="function"){(function($){$.fn.fitVids=function(){}})(jQuery)}; jwplayer('jwplayer_TUqP4BNl_RbnemIYZ_div').setup( {"playlist":"http:\/\/content.jwplatform.com\/feeds\/TUqP4BNl.json","ph":2} );
Filed under: Featured, News, UFC, Videos

Belal Muhammad comfortable in UFC, ready to announce himself as true contender

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Filed under: Featured, News, UFC, Videos

SYDNEY – Belal Muhammad wants you to start taking his nickname literally.

“Remember the Name” is how the 29-year-old Muhammad (12-2 MMA, 3-2 UFC) gets introduced when he fights, and that’s precisely what he hopes you’ll start doing after his welterweight fight against Tim Means (27-8-1 MMA, 9-5 UFC) at UFC Fight Night 121.

“The welterweight division is one of the top divisions right now and it’s bringing a lot of attention,” Muhammad told MMAjunkie this week in Sydney. “You’ve got all of them talking about different guys right now and I just want to add another name to that mix where you’re like, ‘Goddamn, we’ve got another one, too.'”

UFC Fight Night 121 takes place Sunday (but airs live on Saturday in North America due to the time difference) at Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney. It airs on FS1 following early prelims on UFC Fight Pass. The Muhammad-Means fight is part of the main card.

The expectation is that Muhammad’s fight with Means should be a barnburner – the kind of scrap that gets each guy an extra $50,000 for “Fight of the Night.” But it’s not the fight that was supposed to happen this weekend.

Muhammad was booked to fight recent “Ultimate Fighter” winner Jesse Taylor on the card, but Taylor popped for a potential USADA doping violation and was yanked from the fight. A month ago, Muhammad got his replacement: Means.

And that replacement was one he welcomed.

“We usually train everything, anyway, no matter what – I’m always training to fight the best guy,” Muhammad said. “Against Jesse Taylor, he wasn’t going to be able to take me down. He’s just a big wrestler, so I wasn’t really worried about it. That was an easier fight for me. I was happy with that fight. So when I got Tim Means, it’s a size difference. That’s the only thing I’m worried about. I went from a shorter guy to a taller guy. That’s the only thing I’m really thinking about. I wasn’t really worried about his grappling or his striking because I’m good everywhere. I can strike with anybody and I can grapple with anybody.

“… He’s definitely a fun fighter. I always watched him. I liked watching him when he was coming up – he always brings a fight.”

And if Means indeed brings it, as more than a 2-1 favorite, and Muhammad can pull off an upset for his third straight win, that “Remember the Name” thing is going to start to become all the more natural for people.

Muhammad has either been favored or just a mild underdog in all his UFC fights so far. Seeing Means around -250 as the favorite and Muhammad at +170 as the ‘dog is new territory. But the more he fights, the easier that walk becomes, and the more confidence he brings to a fight against someone as established as Means.

“I’m just getting more comfortable in there,” he said. “I’m feeling more at home now in the UFC cage and getting more acclimated to everything. I just feel like I belong now. Before, you’d be like, ‘I’m in the UFC,’ and you think about it and you’re scared about it. But now, it’s just another day in the office.”

For more on UFC Fight Night 121, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

July 8, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Belal Muhammad (blue gloves) celebrates after defeating Jordan Mein (not pictured) during UFC 213 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports July 8, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Jordan Mein (red gloves) fights Belal Muhammad (blue gloves) during UFC 213 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports July 8, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Jordan Mein (red gloves) fights Belal Muhammad (blue gloves) during UFC 213 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports July 8, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Jordan Mein (red gloves) fights Belal Muhammad (blue gloves) during UFC 213 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports July 8, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Jordan Mein (red gloves) fights Belal Muhammad (blue gloves) during UFC 213 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports July 8, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Jordan Mein (red gloves) fights Belal Muhammad (blue gloves) during UFC 213 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports July 8, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Jordan Mein (red gloves) fights Belal Muhammad (blue gloves) during UFC 213 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports July 8, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Jordan Mein (red gloves) fights Belal Muhammad (blue gloves) during UFC 213 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports July 8, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Jordan Mein (red gloves) fights Belal Muhammad (blue gloves) during UFC 213 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports July 8, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Jordan Mein (red gloves) fights Belal Muhammad (blue gloves) during UFC 213 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports July 8, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Jordan Mein (red gloves) fights Belal Muhammad (blue gloves) during UFC 213 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports July 8, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Belal Muhammad (blue gloves) celebrates after defeating Jordan Mein (blue gloves) during UFC 213 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports July 8, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Belal Muhammad (blue gloves) celebrates after defeating Jordan Mein (blue gloves) during UFC 213 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports July 8, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Belal Muhammad (blue gloves) celebrates after defeating Jordan Mein (not pictured) during UFC 213 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports 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/KTakjFzjHMHnh4t4v3xVfS/284758", customAnalytics: true, title: "Muhammad def. Mein", feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == "undefined") ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();
Filed under: Featured, News, UFC, Videos

Oddsmakers like Tyron Woodley over Nate Diaz if fight happens

So here we are talking about Nate Diaz maybe, actually, potentially making a return to the octagon, and it involves him fighting for a UFC title, but not against lightweight champion Conor McGregor.

Wait, what?

Indeed, Diaz strength and conditioning coach Jose Garcia sent folks into a tizzy Tuesday on social media when he posted – and then quickly deleted – an update on Instagram suggesting Diaz (19-11 MMA, 14-9 UFC) has begun training camp for a fight. On Wednesday, we found out thanks to ESPN.com that the UFC has looked into possibly booking Diaz in a title fight against Tyron Woodley (18-3-1 MMA, 8-2-1 UFC), an idea the welterweight champion welcomes.

RelatedTyron Woodley isn't amused by Colby Covington's schtick, but is he missing a golden opportunity?

You know that’s all it takes for the oddsmakers to get going as online sports book Bovada has opened the following line:

Tyron Woodley vs. Nate Diaz
Tyron Woodley -260 (5/13)
Nate Diaz +200 (2/1)

Translation: If a fight does come to fruition, Woodley is a sizeable favorite, requiring a $260 bet to win $100.

This probably makes sense. Diaz would have a considerable height advantage (6-foot to 5-9) and a reach advantage (77 inches to 74), but he hasn’t fought in 15 months, when he dropped a majority decision in a rematch with Conor McGregor at UFC 202.

Woodley, meanwhile, has gone six straight bouts without a loss since August 2014, with two successful title defenses to his credit against Stephen Thompson and Demian Maia.

Are you feeling this potential matchup? Vote in our poll below.

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

For more on UFC 219, visit the UFC Rumors section of the site.

Take Our Poll (function(d,c,j){if(!d.getElementById(j)){var pd=d.createElement(c),s;pd.id=j;pd.src='http://s1.wp.com/wp-content/mu-plugins/shortcodes/js/polldaddy-shortcode.js';s=d.getElementsByTagName(c)[0];s.parentNode.insertBefore(pd,s);} else if(typeof jQuery !=='undefined')jQuery(d.body).trigger('pd-script-load');}(document,'script','pd-polldaddy-loader')); March 5, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Conor McGregor reacts following his loss during UFC 196 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports March 5, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Conor McGregor reacts following his loss against Nate Diaz during UFC 196 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports March 5, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Conor McGregor reacts following his loss during UFC 196 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports March 5, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Conor McGregor reacts following his loss against Nate Diaz during UFC 196 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports March 5, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Conor McGregor reacts following his loss during UFC 196 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports March 5, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Conor McGregor during UFC 196 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports March 5, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Conor McGregor during UFC 196 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports March 5, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Conor McGregor during UFC 196 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports March 5, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Conor McGregor reacts following his loss against Nate Diaz during UFC 196 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports March 5, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Nate Diaz celebrates his victory by submission against Conor McGregor during UFC 196 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports March 5, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Conor McGregor reacts after losing during UFC 196 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports March 5, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Nate Diaz celebrates his victory by submission against Conor McGregor during UFC 196 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports March 5, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Nate Diaz celebrates his victory by submission against Conor McGregor during UFC 196 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports March 5, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Conor McGregor is tended to by a doctor during UFC 196 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports March 5, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Conor McGregor is looked at by the ring doctor following his loss against Nate Diaz during UFC 196 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports March 5, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Conor McGregor is tended to by a doctor during UFC 196 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports March 5, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Nate Diaz lands punches against Conor McGregor during UFC 196 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports March 5, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Nate Diaz (top) against Conor McGregor during UFC 196 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports March 5, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Nate Diaz pins Conor McGregor against the mat during UFC 196 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports March 5, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Nate Diaz (top) against Conor McGregor during UFC 196 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports March 5, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Nate Diaz (top) against Conor McGregor during UFC 196 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports March 5, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Nate Diaz (top) against Conor McGregor during UFC 196 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports March 5, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Nate Diaz lands punches against Conor McGregor during UFC 196 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports March 5, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Nate Diaz (right) against Conor McGregor during UFC 196 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports March 5, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Nate Diaz applies a chokehold against Conor McGregor during UFC 196 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports March 5, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Nate Diaz (right) against Conor McGregor during UFC 196 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports March 5, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Nate Diaz (right) against Conor McGregor during UFC 196 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports March 5, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Nate Diaz (left) against Conor McGregor during UFC 196 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports March 5, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Nate Diaz (left) against Conor McGregor during UFC 196 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports March 5, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Nate Diaz pins Conor McGregor against the mat during UFC 196 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports March 5, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Nate Diaz lands a punch against Conor McGregor during UFC 196 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports March 5, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Nate Diaz (right) against Conor McGregor during UFC 196 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports March 5, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Conor McGregor (left) punches Nate Diaz in the face during UFC 196 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports March 5, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Conor McGregor (left) against Nate Diaz during UFC 196 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports March 5, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Conor McGregor (left) against Nate Diaz during UFC 196 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports March 5, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Nate Diaz pins Conor McGregor against the cage during UFC 196 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports March 5, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Conor McGregor (left) against Nate Diaz during UFC 196 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports March 5, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Conor McGregor (right) against Nate Diaz during UFC 196 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports March 5, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Conor McGregor during UFC 196 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports March 5, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Conor McGregor during UFC 196 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports March 5, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Nate Diaz (right) against Conor McGregor during UFC 196 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports March 5, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Nate Diaz moves in for a punch against Conor McGregor during UFC 196 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports March 5, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Nate Diaz moves in for a punch against Conor McGregor during UFC 196 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports March 5, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Nate Diaz reacts against Conor McGregor during UFC 196 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports March 5, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Nate Diaz (right) reacts against Conor McGregor during UFC 196 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports March 5, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Conor McGregor (left) against Nate Diaz during UFC 196 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports March 5, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Conor McGregor (right) against Nate Diaz during UFC 196 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports March 5, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Nate Diaz (right) reacts against Conor McGregor during UFC 196 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports March 5, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Conor McGregor (left) against Nate Diaz during UFC 196 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports March 5, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Nate Diaz (right) against Conor McGregor during UFC 196 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports jQuery.extend( window._usmgOptions,{ scriptUrl: "https://s2.wp.com/wp-content/themes/vip/usatoday-plugins/api-galleries/assets", analyticsCallback: "galleryAnalytics", fullscreenUrl: "http://mmajunkie.com/sigallery/vkPdyLSw6Lk9egr9uQGKB8/284698", customAnalytics: true, title: "Diaz def. 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