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'UFC 219 Embedded,' No. 3: Barboza's pooch, Cyborg's kitty, Holm's editing notes


Filed under: News, UFC, Videos

The UFC closes out its 2017 campaign on Saturday, and the promotion has rolled out its “Embedded” treatment for a preview of Saturday’s UFC 219 event.

UFC 219 takes place at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas with a pay-per-view main card following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass.

In the headliner, women’s featherweight champion Cris Cyborg (18-1 MMA, 3-0 UFC) takes on former titleholder Holly Holm (11-3 MMA, 4-3 UFC), and in the co-headliner, Edson Barboza (19-4 MMA, 13-4 UFC) meets fellow lightweight contender Khabib Nurmagomedov (24-0 MMA, 8-0 UFC).

RelatedUFC 219 co-main event breakdown: Can Edson Barboza hand Khabib Nurmagomedov his first loss?

Here’s the UFC’s description of the third episode:

“On Episode 3 of UFC 219 Embedded, featherweight Holly Holm goes for pre-fight pedicures with friends. Lightweight Edson Barboza enjoys time with his family at home in New Jersey, as opponent Khabib Nurmagomedov, already in Las Vegas, trains at the UFC Performance Institute and Cobrinha BJJ. Welterweight Carlos Condit embraces the familiar feel of fighting in Vegas, while his teammate Holm enjoys the novelty of competing closer to home. Women’s featherweight champion Cris Cyborg travels with UFC Hall of Famer Tito Ortiz and her security feline. Cyborg has lunch at a friend’s restaurant, and her fellow headliner eats at UFC headquarters, making a stop to give editing notes.”

Check out the full episode above.

Also see:

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

Sep 21, 2013; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Khabib Nurmagomedov celebrates his victory over Pat Healy (not pictured) during their Lightweight bout at UFC 165 at the Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports Apr 19, 2014; Orlando, FL, USA; Rafael dos Anjos (red gloves) fights Khabib Nurmagomedov (blue gloves) in their lightweight fight during UFC on FOX 11 at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: David Manning-USA TODAY Sports Apr 19, 2014; Orlando, FL, USA; Rafael dos Anjos (red gloves) fights Khabib Nurmagomedov (blue gloves) in their lightweight fight during UFC on FOX 11 at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: David Manning-USA TODAY Sports Apr 19, 2014; Orlando, FL, USA; Rafael dos Anjos (red gloves) fights Khabib Nurmagomedov (blue gloves) in their lightweight fight during UFC on FOX 11 at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: David Manning-USA TODAY Sports Apr 18, 2014; Orlando, FL, USA; Khabib Nurmagomedov poses during a weigh-in for UFC on FOX 11 at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: David Manning-USA TODAY Sports Sep 21, 2013; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Khabib Nurmagomedov celebrates his victory over Pat Healy (not pictured) during their Lightweight bout at UFC 165 at the Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports Sep 21, 2013; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Khabib Nurmagomedov (right) kicks Pat Healy during their Lightweight bout at UFC 165 at the Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports Sep 21, 2013; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Khabib Nurmagomedov (right) fights Pat Healy during their Lightweight bout at UFC 165 at the Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports May 25, 2013; Las Vegas, NV, USA; UFC lightweight Khabib Nurmagomedov is taken down by Abel Trujillo during UFC 160 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports May 25, 2013; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Khabib Nurmagomedov reacts to his victory during UFC 160 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports May 25, 2013; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Khabib Nurmagomedov sits over Abel Trujillo at the end of round three during UFC 160 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports May 25, 2013; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Khabib Nurmagomedov strains to lift Abel Trujillo during UFC 160 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports May 25, 2013; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Khabib Nurmagomedov holds down Abel Trujillo during UFC 160 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports May 25, 2013; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Khabib Nurmagomedov during UFC 160 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports May 24, 2013; Las Vegas, NV, USA; UFC lightweight Khabib Nurmagomedov (left) squares off with Abel Trujillo during the weight-in for UFC 160 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports May 24, 2013; Las Vegas, NV, USA; UFC lightweight Khabib Nurmagomedov (left) squares off with Abel Trujillo during the weight-in for UFC 160 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports Jul. 7, 2012; Las Vegas, NV, USA; UFC fighter Khabib Nurmagomedov (left) hugs his trainer after defeating Gleison Tibau during a middleweight bout in UFC 148 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports Jul. 7, 2012; Las Vegas, NV, USA; UFC fighter Khabib Nurmagomedov (right) hits Gleison Tibau in the face during a middleweight bout in UFC 148 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports Jan, 20 2012; Nashville, TN, USA; UFC lightweight Khabib Nurmagomedov celebrates after defeating Kamal Shalorus during a bout in the UFC on FX 1 event. Nurmagomedov beat Shalorus. Mandatory Credit: Don McPeak-USA TODAY Sports Jan, 20 2012; Nashville, TN, USA; UFC lightweight Kamal Shalorus boxes with Khabib Nurmagomedov during a bout in the UFC on FX 1 event. Nurmagomedov beat Shalorus. Mandatory Credit: Don McPeak-USA TODAY Sports Oct 7, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Tony Ferguson (red gloves) reacts after defeating Kevin Lee (blue gloves) in the third round during UFC 216 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports Oct 7, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Tony Ferguson (red gloves) reacts after defeating Kevin Lee (blue gloves) in the third round during UFC 216 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports Oct 7, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Tony Ferguson (red gloves) and Kevin Lee (blue gloves) are seen after Ferguson defeated Lee during UFC 216 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports Oct 7, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Tony Ferguson (red gloves) reacts after defeating Kevin Lee (blue gloves) in the third round during UFC 216 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports Oct 7, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Tony Ferguson (red gloves) reacts after defeating Kevin Lee (blue gloves) in the third round during UFC 216 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports Oct 7, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Tony Ferguson (red gloves) reacts after defeating Kevin Lee (blue gloves) in the third round during UFC 216 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports Oct 7, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Tony Ferguson (red gloves) reacts after defeating Kevin Lee (blue gloves) in the third round during UFC 216 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports Oct 7, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Tony Ferguson (red gloves) reacts after defeating Kevin Lee (blue gloves) in the third round during UFC 216 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports Oct 7, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Tony Ferguson (red gloves) reacts after defeating Kevin Lee (blue gloves) in the third round during UFC 216 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports Oct 7, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Tony Ferguson (red gloves) reacts after defeating Kevin Lee (blue gloves) in the third round during UFC 216 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports jQuery.extend( window._usmgOptions,{ scriptUrl: "https://s2.wp.com/wp-content/themes/vip/usatoday-plugins/api-galleries/assets", analyticsCallback: "galleryAnalytics", fullscreenUrl: "http://mmajunkie.com/sigallery/M2MyxRBoW2MFjDZE6YSXzF/293188", customAnalytics: true, title: "Khabib Nurmagomedov", feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == "undefined") ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();
Filed under: News, UFC, Videos

Khabib Nurmagomedov: Strip Conor McGregor so I can fight for belt in 2018

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Filed under: News, UFC, Videos

LAS VEGAS – Undefeated UFC lightweight Khabib Nurmagomedov plans to recover from a difficult 2017 with a title in 2018.

First, Nurmagomedov (24-0 MMA, 8-0 UFC) needs to get past Edson Barboza (19-4 MMA, 13-4 UFC) on Saturday at UFC 219. Then, he said, he’ll fight for the UFC belt early next year.

All the promotion has to do, Nurmagomedov said, is what’s right: strip undisputed champ Conor McGregor (21-3 MMA, 9-1 UFC) of the title. Then Nurmagomedov can fight interim champ Tony Ferguson (24-3 MMA, 14-1 UFC) for the real belt.

“I think they have to take the belt from Conor and make him humble,” Nurmagomedov (24-0 MMA, 8-0 UFC) told MMAjunkie in advance of his pay-per-view co-headliner at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. “And that’s it – everything gets finished. Next fight, next year, in March or April, I’m going to fight for the title. This is the plan.”

The opinion puts him at odds with UFC President Dana White, who today made an audacious claim to ESPN.com that those who’ve called for McGregor to be stripped are “haters,” and he disputed a plain fact that the Irish champ hasn’t defended his lightweight title since winning it in November 2016.

RelatedDana White hopes Conor McGregor returns to UFC in summer 2018

“There’s some (expletive) exaggeration in saying the guy’s never defended a title,” White said.

The executive argued McGregor’s record of fighting all-comers and representing MMA well in a boxing match against Floyd Mayweather mitigated the problems stemming from his post-title absence.

Nurmagomedov has alternately brushed off and seemed resigned to the looming issue at the top of his division. That partially owes to his actions. He would have been in line to face McGregor if he’d beaten Ferguson in March.

Of course, McGregor’s stance on a comeback hasn’t exactly made the future clear. While the Irish star has said his next fight will be in MMA, White has posed the idea that he might never fight again.

With his fight drawing closer, though, Nurmagomedov is voicing his opinion on the situation, venting about the stalemate at the top. He’s also aware his words will ring hollow without a comeback win.

RelatedUFC 219 co-main event breakdown: Can Edson Barboza hand Khabib Nurmagomedov his first loss?

For Saturday’s fight, the undefeated fighter is working with a new nutritionist. With 20 hours to weigh in, he said he is “a couple” of pounds from hitting the non-title limit of 156 pounds.

Nurmagomedov is tired of being hounded about how much he weighs. At a media luncheon earlier this month, he tried to shut down questions about the number on the scale and joked he would cut off a limb to certify the fight.

“Weight, weight, weight,” he said today. “I have an opponent. Weight is not my opponent. Of course, it’s my opponent. But not like Edson Barboza. Edson is a much harder opponent than my weight.

“Sometimes, people need to talk. Fans need to talk. It’s OK. I’m OK about this. Mind you, I have to make weight. I have 20 hours. I feel great. Make weight, and that’s it. Saturday night I have to smash somebody.”

It’s been a trying year for the Dagestan native, to be sure. After being rushed to the hospital in the hours before UFC 209, he sequestered himself in Russia. There, he underwent back surgery and started the long process of healing.

So far, no opponent has been able to best Nurmagomedov in the cage. But he’s emerged from the past year with more wisdom about the struggles to make it there. And a roadmap for what comes next.

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

Sep 21, 2013; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Khabib Nurmagomedov celebrates his victory over Pat Healy (not pictured) during their Lightweight bout at UFC 165 at the Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports Apr 19, 2014; Orlando, FL, USA; Rafael dos Anjos (red gloves) fights Khabib Nurmagomedov (blue gloves) in their lightweight fight during UFC on FOX 11 at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: David Manning-USA TODAY Sports Apr 19, 2014; Orlando, FL, USA; Rafael dos Anjos (red gloves) fights Khabib Nurmagomedov (blue gloves) in their lightweight fight during UFC on FOX 11 at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: David Manning-USA TODAY Sports Apr 19, 2014; Orlando, FL, USA; Rafael dos Anjos (red gloves) fights Khabib Nurmagomedov (blue gloves) in their lightweight fight during UFC on FOX 11 at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: David Manning-USA TODAY Sports Apr 18, 2014; Orlando, FL, USA; Khabib Nurmagomedov poses during a weigh-in for UFC on FOX 11 at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: David Manning-USA TODAY Sports Sep 21, 2013; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Khabib Nurmagomedov celebrates his victory over Pat Healy (not pictured) during their Lightweight bout at UFC 165 at the Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports Sep 21, 2013; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Khabib Nurmagomedov (right) kicks Pat Healy during their Lightweight bout at UFC 165 at the Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports Sep 21, 2013; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Khabib Nurmagomedov (right) fights Pat Healy during their Lightweight bout at UFC 165 at the Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports May 25, 2013; Las Vegas, NV, USA; UFC lightweight Khabib Nurmagomedov is taken down by Abel Trujillo during UFC 160 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports May 25, 2013; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Khabib Nurmagomedov reacts to his victory during UFC 160 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports May 25, 2013; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Khabib Nurmagomedov sits over Abel Trujillo at the end of round three during UFC 160 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports May 25, 2013; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Khabib Nurmagomedov strains to lift Abel Trujillo during UFC 160 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports May 25, 2013; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Khabib Nurmagomedov holds down Abel Trujillo during UFC 160 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports May 25, 2013; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Khabib Nurmagomedov during UFC 160 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports May 24, 2013; Las Vegas, NV, USA; UFC lightweight Khabib Nurmagomedov (left) squares off with Abel Trujillo during the weight-in for UFC 160 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports May 24, 2013; Las Vegas, NV, USA; UFC lightweight Khabib Nurmagomedov (left) squares off with Abel Trujillo during the weight-in for UFC 160 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports Jul. 7, 2012; Las Vegas, NV, USA; UFC fighter Khabib Nurmagomedov (left) hugs his trainer after defeating Gleison Tibau during a middleweight bout in UFC 148 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports Jul. 7, 2012; Las Vegas, NV, USA; UFC fighter Khabib Nurmagomedov (right) hits Gleison Tibau in the face during a middleweight bout in UFC 148 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports Jan, 20 2012; Nashville, TN, USA; UFC lightweight Khabib Nurmagomedov celebrates after defeating Kamal Shalorus during a bout in the UFC on FX 1 event. Nurmagomedov beat Shalorus. Mandatory Credit: Don McPeak-USA TODAY Sports Jan, 20 2012; Nashville, TN, USA; UFC lightweight Kamal Shalorus boxes with Khabib Nurmagomedov during a bout in the UFC on FX 1 event. Nurmagomedov beat Shalorus. Mandatory Credit: Don McPeak-USA TODAY Sports Oct 7, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Tony Ferguson (red gloves) reacts after defeating Kevin Lee (blue gloves) in the third round during UFC 216 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports Oct 7, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Tony Ferguson (red gloves) reacts after defeating Kevin Lee (blue gloves) in the third round during UFC 216 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports Oct 7, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Tony Ferguson (red gloves) and Kevin Lee (blue gloves) are seen after Ferguson defeated Lee during UFC 216 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports Oct 7, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Tony Ferguson (red gloves) reacts after defeating Kevin Lee (blue gloves) in the third round during UFC 216 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports Oct 7, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Tony Ferguson (red gloves) reacts after defeating Kevin Lee (blue gloves) in the third round during UFC 216 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports Oct 7, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Tony Ferguson (red gloves) reacts after defeating Kevin Lee (blue gloves) in the third round during UFC 216 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports Oct 7, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Tony Ferguson (red gloves) reacts after defeating Kevin Lee (blue gloves) in the third round during UFC 216 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports Oct 7, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Tony Ferguson (red gloves) reacts after defeating Kevin Lee (blue gloves) in the third round during UFC 216 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports Oct 7, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Tony Ferguson (red gloves) reacts after defeating Kevin Lee (blue gloves) in the third round during UFC 216 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports Oct 7, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Tony Ferguson (red gloves) reacts after defeating Kevin Lee (blue gloves) in the third round during UFC 216 at T-Mobile Arena. 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Filed under: News, UFC, Videos

Twitter Mailbag: Rizin FF weirdness, Cyborg's dominance, 2017's biggest surprise

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Filed under: Featured, News, UFC

Is Rizin FF turning out to be a guilty pleasure, or just a guilty horror? And what does the UFC women’s featherweight title mean, exactly? Plus, what was the biggest surprise of 2017 in the wild world of MMA?

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

* * * *

Could you pay for the upcoming Rizin cards and not feel guilty? Gabbi Garcia is fighting a 53 year old, Cro Cop is fighting Kohsaka and Gomi is, well, still fighting… but Horiguchi and McCall seem to have real opponents. And Reina vs Cindy seems okay. https://t.co/a7WL2nuyRm

— Paul Robinson (@pkirkr) December 28, 2017

I’d say that any New Year’s Eve fight card in Japan needs to be approached with different expectations, but that would be a colossal understatement. When you’re watching a giant and a little old lady go through the motions of a weigh-in while a Cup of Noodles mascot poses in the background and people in suits pretend to take it all seriously, that’s when you have to face the fact that you’re dealing with a whole different ballgame.

Feeling guilty about watching an event like Rizin FF 8 is sort of like worrying about whether or not your heroin is ethically sourced. You already know the answer, and anyway it’s not really the point. You are not watching a fight card like this because you want to feel good about the sport or yourself or, well, anything. You’re watching it because it is completely insane, not in spite of that.

Should you feel bad, or at least very conflicted about that? Yes, definitely. But it doesn’t mean you have to stop.

With all reports indicating that the UFC is having difficulties securing a lucrative TV deal could there be a possibility that Endeavor replaces Dana White? And if so, who on earth would it be?

— Brandon (@_theoldcrow_) December 27, 2017

Any difficulty getting the right TV deal is much more likely to be due to big-picture issues than anything UFC President Dana White is doing. It’s a tricky media environment right now. There are suddenly a lot of huge moving parts, all grinding toward a very uncertain future, which makes it a tough time to go in search of a huge price increase.

There’s also the difficulty of predicting what the future will look like for the UFC. The hardcore audience for mid-level UFC cards is dependable, but small. Ratings for the last UFC on FOX event were among the lowest in series history. The UFC can still pull big audience numbers with its few stars, at least when the two sides are getting along well enough to book fights.

If you can blame White for any piece of this puzzle, it’s that. The UFC president only seems to know one way to deal with UFC talent, and it doesn’t work on the superstars who are too rich and popular to be publicly bullied.

He also has a serious credibility problem with fans, so much so that a fun running joke on MMA Twitter is to treat White’s denial of a rumor as its confirmation. (Hey, remember when he swore the UFC wasn’t for sale … right before it was sold? Ha, good times.)

While it’s fun to speculate about who could fill White’s shoes as the next UFC president, replacing him wouldn’t solve the complicated TV deal equation. Plus, my gut says he’s going to stay in that job until the day he spontaneously combusts in a fit of rage at some post-fight press conference.

This time last year, what would have surprised you the most about 2017 if you were able to glimpse into the 365 day future of MMA?

— MMA Goddess (@MMAGoddess) December 27, 2017

I kind of hate to admit it, because lord knows the topic has already gotten enough ink, but it’s definitely the whole Conor McGregor and Floyd Mayweather thing, plus its terrible aftermath.

In December 2016, we were still treating talk of a McGregor-Mayweather boxing match as if it were only slightly more serious than the question of whether or not Ronda Rousey could beat Mayweather in a street fight on the Las Vegas strip.

It was all empty talk from people who wanted a little more attention, and even if it wasn’t there were simply too many obstacles standing in the way of making that fight a reality.

We were secure in this knowledge. It had years of precedent behind it. All it took was one summer to toss it on its head, and we’re still feeling the aftershocks.

I’ll be honest, I did not see that coming. And yeah, it really makes me wonder how I’ll answer this same question a year from now.

Is it unfair to call Francis Ngannou the future of the heavyweight division when his only relevant wins thus far are against Arlovski and Overeem, two fighters who would seem tailor made for him? Any chance of getting another Cain title reign??

— Steve Lee (@MrTevenWee) December 27, 2017

In fairness, Andrei Arlovski is a former UFC heavyweight champion and Alistair Overeem is a perennial contender for the title, so it’s not like beating them means nothing. You make a point worth considering, though. There is still another kind of archetypal UFC heavyweight that Francis Ngannou has not yet faced, and it’s the slightly undersized but super athletic wrestler-type.

That’s one of the reasons I’m excited for Ngannou’s title shot. Stipe Miocic can stand there and box with you or he can take you down and elbow you in the face until you’ve lost your will to live. If Ngannou has a glaring weakness somewhere, Miocic has a good chance of finding it.

Then again, it’s heavyweight. When one punch can end it all at any moment, you don’t necessarily have to be the best fighter to (temporarily) own the (immediate) future.

Express, in a GIF only, your excitement level to see heavyweight Rampage compete in the Bellator tournament.

— Chris Rodriguez (@cerodriguez023) December 27, 2017

Is Darren Till’s ‘ranking doesn’t matter’ stance admirable or crazy?

— Simon Fairweather (@captain_siz) December 27, 2017

It’s an accurate reading of the current climate. The reason rankings don’t matter is because enough people – fans, fighters, the UFC – have agreed that they don’t. You no longer need to beat the number one contender in order to be the number one contender, and you don’t need to be the number one contender in order to get a shot at the title.

The key is to put yourself in exciting fights that will raise your profile, and that seems to be what Darren Till is doing when he sets his sights on Mike Perry.

We will watch that fight. Till has a good chance of winning that fight. And if everybody has a good time in the process, who’s going to complain?

What exactly does the women's featherweight title mean if there's no actual division?

Could it be equivalent to an interim title?

— Angry Albert (@Angry_Albert) December 27, 2017

The weird thing about it is that, even without an actual division to go with the title, at the moment it still feels legit. Does anyone really want to stand up and make the case that Cris Cyborg is not the best women’s 145-pound fighter in the world? And if Holly Holm beats the unbeatable Cyborg, how can you not call her the best, at least until the inevitable rematch?

What I wonder about is sustainability. Right now the legitimacy is built entirely on Cyborg’s reputation. It matters because she matters. As long as she’s the champ, the UFC can probably keep plucking contenders from other divisions and/or promotions and still manage to hold our interest. But is there a division without her? If she retires or gets beat or ditches the UFC to murder senior citizens in Japan, would the UFC even care enough to keep this belt around?

I don’t think anyone can answer that for sure right now, and that’s what makes it weird.

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

July 29, 2017; Anaheim, CA, USA; Cris Cyborg is declared the winner by TKO and champion against Tonya Evinger during UFC 214 at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports July 29, 2017; Anaheim, CA, USA; Cris Cyborg pins Tonya Evinger to the cage during UFC 214 at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports July 29, 2017; Anaheim, CA, USA; Cris Cyborg lands a kick against Tonya Evinger during UFC 214 at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports July 29, 2017; Anaheim, CA, USA; Cris Cyborg reacts following her victory against Tonya Evinger during UFC 214 at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports July 29, 2017; Anaheim, CA, USA; Cris Cyborg reacts following her victory against Tonya Evinger during UFC 214 at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports May 14, 2016; Curitiba, Brazil; Cris Justino (red) awaits the start of her fight against Leslie Smith during UFC Fight Night at Arena Atletico Paranaense. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports May 14, 2016; Curitiba, Brazil; Cris Justino (red) lands a punch to the face of Leslie Smith (blue) during UFC Fight Night at Arena Atletico Paranaense. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports May 14, 2016; Curitiba, Brazil; Cris Justino (red) throws a kick defended by Leslie Smith (blue) during UFC Fight Night at Arena Atletico Paranaense. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports May 14, 2016; Curitiba, Brazil; Cris Justino (red) fights against Leslie Smith (blue) during UFC Fight Night at Arena Atletico Paranaense. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports May 14, 2016; Curitiba, Brazil; Cris Justino (red) reacts after defending Leslie Smith (not pictured) during UFC Fight Night at Arena Atletico Paranaense. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports May 14, 2016; Curitiba, Brazil; Cris Justino (red) reacts for the fans and cameras after defending Leslie Smith (not pictured) during UFC Fight Night at Arena Atletico Paranaense. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports May 14, 2016; Curitiba, Brazil; Cris Justino (red) reacts for the fans and cameras after defending Leslie Smith (not pictured) during UFC Fight Night at Arena Atletico Paranaense. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports May 14, 2016; Curitiba, Brazil; Cris Justino (red) reacts after defending Leslie Smith (not pictured) during UFC Fight Night at Arena Atletico Paranaense. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports May 14, 2016; Curitiba, Brazil; Cris Justino (red) reacts after defending Leslie Smith (not pictured) during UFC Fight Night at Arena Atletico Paranaense. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports May 14, 2016; Curitiba, Brazil; Cris Justino (red) reacts after defending Leslie Smith (not pictured) during UFC Fight Night at Arena Atletico Paranaense. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports Sep 24, 2016; Brasilia, Brazil; Cris Cyborg (red gloves) before her fight against Lina Lansberg (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Nilson Nelson Gymnasium. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports Sep 24, 2016; Brasilia, Brazil; Cris Cyborg (red gloves) fights Lina Lansberg (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Nilson Nelson Gymnasium. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports Sep 24, 2016; Brasilia, Brazil; Cris Cyborg (red gloves) fights Lina Lansberg (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Nilson Nelson Gymnasium. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports Sep 24, 2016; Brasilia, Brazil; Cris Cyborg (red gloves) fights Lina Lansberg (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Nilson Nelson Gymnasium. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports Sep 24, 2016; Brasilia, Brazil; Cris Cyborg (red gloves) fights Lina Lansberg (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Nilson Nelson Gymnasium. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports Sep 24, 2016; Brasilia, Brazil; Cris Cyborg (red gloves) celebrates defeating Lina Lansberg (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Nilson Nelson Gymnasium. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports Sep 24, 2016; Brasilia, Brazil; Cris Cyborg (red gloves) celebrates defeating Lina Lansberg (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Nilson Nelson Gymnasium. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports Sep 24, 2016; Brasilia, Brazil; Cris Cyborg (red gloves) celebrates defeating Lina Lansberg (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Nilson Nelson Gymnasium. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports Sep 24, 2016; Brasilia, Brazil; Cris Cyborg (red gloves) celebrates defeating Lina Lansberg (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Nilson Nelson Gymnasium. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports Sep 24, 2016; Brasilia, Brazil; Cris Cyborg (red gloves) celebrates defeating Lina Lansberg (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Nilson Nelson Gymnasium. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports jQuery.extend( window._usmgOptions,{ scriptUrl: "https://s2.wp.com/wp-content/themes/vip/usatoday-plugins/api-galleries/assets", analyticsCallback: "galleryAnalytics", fullscreenUrl: "http://mmajunkie.com/sigallery/y5eH9VBEbCKAge5sGWfVGJ/293054", customAnalytics: true, title: "Cris Cyborg", feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == "undefined") ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();
Filed under: Featured, News, UFC

Israel Adesanya set for promotional debut at UFC 221 in Australia

A highly touted promotional newcomer is set for a debut at UFC 221.

UFC officials today announced via foxsports.com.au that kickboxer Israel Adesanya (11-0 MMA, 0-0 UFC) is set to fight middleweight Rob Wilkinson (11-1 MMA, 0-1 UFC).

UFC 221 takes place Feb. 10 at Perth Arena in Perth, Western Australia, Australia. The main card airs on pay-per-view following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass, though the full fight card and bout order haven’t been finalized.

RelatedUFC 221 odds: Early money on Robert Whittaker over Luke Rockhold

Adesanya, a 28-year-old Nigerian born-New Zealander, has competed and in excelled in MMA, boxing (5-1) and kickboxing (50-5) since 2011. He’s 11-0 with 11 knockouts in MMA, where he made his debut in 2012. He picked up one of his most notable victories in July, when he stopped UFC vet Melvin Guillard in the first round at a regional show in Australia.

Here are some highlights (via YouTube):

He now meets Wilkinson, a 25-year-old Australian who recently served as an injury replacement at UFC Fight Night 115. In that promotional debut, he suffered a TKO loss to Siyar Bahadurzada. The former BRACE and Australia Fighting Championship titleholder had an 11-0 start to his career that included 10 stoppages.

The latest UFC 221 card now includes:

  • Champ Robert Whittaker vs. Luke Rockhold – for middleweight title
  • Tyson Pedro vs. Saparbek Safarov
  • Jussier Formiga vs. Ben Nguyen
  • Curtis Blaydes vs. Mark Hunt
  • Cyril Asker vs. Tai Tuivasa
  • Damien Brown vs. “Maestro” Dong Hyun Kim
  • Teruto Ishihara vs. Jose Quinonez
  • Mizuto Hirota vs. Ross Pearson
  • Jeremy Kennedy vs. Alex Volkanovski
  • Israel Adesanya vs. Rob Wilkinson

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

Sep 2, 2017; Rotterdam, Netherlands; Siyar Bahadurzada (red glove) fights Rob Wilkinson (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Ahoy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Sep 2, 2017; Rotterdam, Netherlands; Rob Wilkinson (blue gloves) enters the arena before the fight against Siyar Bahadurzada (red glove) during UFC Fight Night at Ahoy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Sep 2, 2017; Rotterdam, Netherlands; Siyar Bahadurzada (red glove) fights Rob Wilkinson (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Ahoy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Sep 2, 2017; Rotterdam, Netherlands; Siyar Bahadurzada (red glove) fights Rob Wilkinson (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Ahoy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Sep 2, 2017; Rotterdam, Netherlands; Siyar Bahadurzada (red glove) fights Rob Wilkinson (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Ahoy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Sep 2, 2017; Rotterdam, Netherlands; Siyar Bahadurzada (red glove) fights Rob Wilkinson (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Ahoy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Sep 2, 2017; Rotterdam, Netherlands; Siyar Bahadurzada (red glove) fights Rob Wilkinson (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Ahoy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Sep 2, 2017; Rotterdam, Netherlands; Siyar Bahadurzada (red glove) fights Rob Wilkinson (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Ahoy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Sep 2, 2017; Rotterdam, Netherlands; Siyar Bahadurzada (red glove) fights Rob Wilkinson (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Ahoy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Sep 2, 2017; Rotterdam, Netherlands; Siyar Bahadurzada (red glove) fights Rob Wilkinson (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Ahoy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Sep 2, 2017; Rotterdam, Netherlands; Siyar Bahadurzada (red glove) fights Rob Wilkinson (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Ahoy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Sep 2, 2017; Rotterdam, Netherlands; Siyar Bahadurzada (red glove) fights Rob Wilkinson (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Ahoy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Sep 2, 2017; Rotterdam, Netherlands; Siyar Bahadurzada (red glove) fights Rob Wilkinson (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Ahoy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Sep 2, 2017; Rotterdam, Netherlands; Siyar Bahadurzada (red glove) reacts to fight against Rob Wilkinson (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Ahoy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports jQuery.extend( window._usmgOptions,{ scriptUrl: "https://s2.wp.com/wp-content/themes/vip/usatoday-plugins/api-galleries/assets", analyticsCallback: "galleryAnalytics", fullscreenUrl: "http://mmajunkie.com/sigallery/qE3pfGNhaJBYswDa9GBEM4/293159", customAnalytics: true, title: "Bahadurzada def. Wilkinson", feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == "undefined") ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();
Filed under: News, UFC

Video: UFC 219 media day face-offs, with (mostly) respectful rivals

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

LAS VEGAS – The main-card fighters from Saturday’s UFC 219 event faced off today in Las Vegas, and MMAjunkie has the highlights.

Headlining the card are UFC women’s featherweight champion Cris Cyborg(18-1 MMA, 3-0 UFC) and former women’s titleholder champion Holly Holm (11-3 MMA, 4-3 UFC). Top lightweight contenders Edson Barboza (19-4 MMA, 13-4 UFC) and Khabib Nurmagomedov (24-0 MMA, 8-0 UFC) meet in the co-feature.

UFC 219 takes place at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas with a pay-per-view main card following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass.

RelatedUFC 219 pre-event facts: Holly Holm hunting for history

Competitors from the two top fights were respectful on stage today, leaving the most palpable tension to lightweights Marc Diakiese(12-1 MMA, 3-1 UFC) and Dan Hooker(14-7 MMA, 4-3 UFC), who were recently promoted to the main card.

Rounding out the event were strawweights Cynthia Calvillo (6-0 MMA, 3-0 UFC) and Carla Esparza (12-4 MMA, 3-2 UFC), as well as welterweights Carlos Condit (30-10 MMA, 7-6 UFC) and Neil Magny (19-6 MMA, 12-5 UFC).

Check out the face-offs in the video above.

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

July 29, 2017; Anaheim, CA, USA; Cris Cyborg is declared the winner by TKO and champion against Tonya Evinger during UFC 214 at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports July 29, 2017; Anaheim, CA, USA; Cris Cyborg pins Tonya Evinger to the cage during UFC 214 at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports July 29, 2017; Anaheim, CA, USA; Cris Cyborg lands a kick against Tonya Evinger during UFC 214 at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports July 29, 2017; Anaheim, CA, USA; Cris Cyborg reacts following her victory against Tonya Evinger during UFC 214 at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports July 29, 2017; Anaheim, CA, USA; Cris Cyborg reacts following her victory against Tonya Evinger during UFC 214 at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports May 14, 2016; Curitiba, Brazil; Cris Justino (red) awaits the start of her fight against Leslie Smith during UFC Fight Night at Arena Atletico Paranaense. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports May 14, 2016; Curitiba, Brazil; Cris Justino (red) lands a punch to the face of Leslie Smith (blue) during UFC Fight Night at Arena Atletico Paranaense. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports May 14, 2016; Curitiba, Brazil; Cris Justino (red) throws a kick defended by Leslie Smith (blue) during UFC Fight Night at Arena Atletico Paranaense. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports May 14, 2016; Curitiba, Brazil; Cris Justino (red) fights against Leslie Smith (blue) during UFC Fight Night at Arena Atletico Paranaense. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports May 14, 2016; Curitiba, Brazil; Cris Justino (red) reacts after defending Leslie Smith (not pictured) during UFC Fight Night at Arena Atletico Paranaense. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports May 14, 2016; Curitiba, Brazil; Cris Justino (red) reacts for the fans and cameras after defending Leslie Smith (not pictured) during UFC Fight Night at Arena Atletico Paranaense. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports May 14, 2016; Curitiba, Brazil; Cris Justino (red) reacts for the fans and cameras after defending Leslie Smith (not pictured) during UFC Fight Night at Arena Atletico Paranaense. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports May 14, 2016; Curitiba, Brazil; Cris Justino (red) reacts after defending Leslie Smith (not pictured) during UFC Fight Night at Arena Atletico Paranaense. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports May 14, 2016; Curitiba, Brazil; Cris Justino (red) reacts after defending Leslie Smith (not pictured) during UFC Fight Night at Arena Atletico Paranaense. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports May 14, 2016; Curitiba, Brazil; Cris Justino (red) reacts after defending Leslie Smith (not pictured) during UFC Fight Night at Arena Atletico Paranaense. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports Sep 24, 2016; Brasilia, Brazil; Cris Cyborg (red gloves) before her fight against Lina Lansberg (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Nilson Nelson Gymnasium. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports Sep 24, 2016; Brasilia, Brazil; Cris Cyborg (red gloves) fights Lina Lansberg (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Nilson Nelson Gymnasium. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports Sep 24, 2016; Brasilia, Brazil; Cris Cyborg (red gloves) fights Lina Lansberg (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Nilson Nelson Gymnasium. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports Sep 24, 2016; Brasilia, Brazil; Cris Cyborg (red gloves) fights Lina Lansberg (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Nilson Nelson Gymnasium. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports Sep 24, 2016; Brasilia, Brazil; Cris Cyborg (red gloves) fights Lina Lansberg (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Nilson Nelson Gymnasium. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports Sep 24, 2016; Brasilia, Brazil; Cris Cyborg (red gloves) celebrates defeating Lina Lansberg (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Nilson Nelson Gymnasium. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports Sep 24, 2016; Brasilia, Brazil; Cris Cyborg (red gloves) celebrates defeating Lina Lansberg (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Nilson Nelson Gymnasium. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports Sep 24, 2016; Brasilia, Brazil; Cris Cyborg (red gloves) celebrates defeating Lina Lansberg (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Nilson Nelson Gymnasium. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports Sep 24, 2016; Brasilia, Brazil; Cris Cyborg (red gloves) celebrates defeating Lina Lansberg (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Nilson Nelson Gymnasium. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports Sep 24, 2016; Brasilia, Brazil; Cris Cyborg (red gloves) celebrates defeating Lina Lansberg (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Nilson Nelson Gymnasium. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports jQuery.extend( window._usmgOptions,{ scriptUrl: "https://s2.wp.com/wp-content/themes/vip/usatoday-plugins/api-galleries/assets", analyticsCallback: "galleryAnalytics", fullscreenUrl: "http://mmajunkie.com/sigallery/y5eH9VBEbCKAge5sGWfVGJ/293127", customAnalytics: true, title: "Cris Cyborg", feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == "undefined") ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();
Filed under: Featured, Featured Videos, News, UFC, Videos

Former Strikeforce champ and longtime UFC vet Nate Marquardt retires

December 19, 2015; Orlando, FL, USA; Nate Marquardt defends against CB Dollaway during UFC Fight Night at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports December 19, 2015; Orlando, FL, USA; Nate Marquardt is declared the winner by technical knockout against CB Dollaway during UFC Fight Night at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports May 14, 2016; Curitiba, Brazil; Nate Marquardt (blue) reacts after being knocked out by Thiago Santos (not pictured) during UFC Fight Night at Arena Atletico Paranaense. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports May 14, 2016; Curitiba, Brazil; Thiago Santos (red) fights against Nate Marquardt (blue) during UFC Fight Night at Arena Atletico Paranaense. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports Oct 1, 2016; Portland, OR, USA; Nate Marquardt (red gloves) fights against Tamdan McCrory (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Moda Center. Mandatory Credit: Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports Oct 1, 2016; Portland, OR, USA; Nate Marquardt (red gloves) fights against Tamdan McCrory (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Moda Center. Mandatory Credit: Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports Oct 1, 2016; Portland, OR, USA; Nate Marquardt (red gloves) defeats Tamdan McCrory (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Moda Center. Mandatory Credit: Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports Jan 28, 2017; Denver, CO, USA; Nate Marquardt (red gloves) competes against Sam Alvey (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports Jan 28, 2017; Denver, CO, USA; Nate Marquardt (red gloves) competes against Sam Alvey (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports Jun 3, 2017; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Victor Belfort (red gloves) fights Nate Marquardt (blue gloves) during UFC 212 at Rio Olympic Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports Jun 3, 2017; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Victor Belfort (red gloves) fights Nate Marquardt (blue gloves) during UFC 212 at Rio Olympic Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports Jun 3, 2017; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Nate Marquardt (blue gloves) reacts to fight against Victor Belfort (red gloves) during UFC 212 at Rio Olympic Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports Nov 11, 2017; Virginia, VA, USA; Nate Marquardt (red gloves) fights Cezar Ferreira (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at the Ted Constant Convocation Center. Mandatory Credit: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports Nov 11, 2017; Virginia, VA, USA; Nate Marquardt (red gloves) fights Cezar Ferreira (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at the Ted Constant Convocation Center. Mandatory Credit: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports Nov 11, 2017; Virginia, VA, USA; Nate Marquardt (red gloves) fights Cezar Ferreira (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at the Ted Constant Convocation Center. Mandatory Credit: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports Nov 11, 2017; Virginia, VA, USA; Nate Marquardt (red gloves) fights Cezar Ferreira (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at the Ted Constant Convocation Center. Mandatory Credit: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports Nov 11, 2017; Virginia, VA, USA; Nate Marquardt (red gloves) fights Cezar Ferreira (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at the Ted Constant Convocation Center. Mandatory Credit: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports Nov 11, 2017; Virginia, VA, USA; Nate Marquardt (red gloves) fights Cezar Ferreira (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at the Ted Constant Convocation Center. Mandatory Credit: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports Nov 11, 2017; Virginia, VA, USA; Nate Marquardt (red gloves) fights Cezar Ferreira (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at the Ted Constant Convocation Center. Mandatory Credit: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports Nov 11, 2017; Virginia, VA, USA; Nate Marquardt (red gloves) fights Cezar Ferreira (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at the Ted Constant Convocation Center. Mandatory Credit: Peter Casey-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/rgmzYgdaif8fcT6kZoPWUT/293104", customAnalytics: true, title: "Nate Marquardt", feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == "undefined") ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();

Nate Marquardt is hanging up his gloves after 18 years as a professional MMA fighter.

The former Strikeforce champion and onetime UFC middleweight title challenger today announced his retirement in a post on his personal blog, www.natemarquardt.com, acknowledging his accomplishments and setbacks over a long and fruitful career.

“I have had many accomplishments and victories as well as many trials and upsets in my career,” Marquardt (35-19-2 MMA, 13-12 UFC) wrote. “I have won 4 world titles and I have subsequently lost three of them. I have had many winning and losing streaks. I have battled chronic injuries and had 6 surgeries. I have learned that I can trust God in every situation and need to put him first.

“After 22 years as an athlete in the sport of Mixed Martial Arts, I believe God is calling me in another direction.”

RelatedUFC Fight Night 120 results: Cezar Ferreira edges out Nate Marquardt, calls out Paulo Costa

Marquardt, 38, leaves with a professional record of 35-19-2. He most recently appeared in the UFC’s octagon this past month at UFC Fight Night 120, where he lost a split decision to Cezar Ferreira. The setback marked his third consecutive defeat in the promotion, which re-signed him following a stint in the now-defunct Strikeforce promotion, where he won the welterweight title by knocking out current UFC champ Tyron Woodley.

The past four years of Marquardt’s second UFC stint were the rockiest of his career. He went 3-8 in the octagon and suffered four losses by knockout or TKO.

Earlier in his career, Marquardt showed flashes of brilliance. He once stopped three straight notables in the octagon, pounding out Martin Kampmann, Wilson Gouveia and future two-time title challenger Demian Maia.

He also earned the middleweight title in the long-running Japanese MMA promotion Pancrase as well as in other regional promotions.

A four-fight winning streak in his early UFC career led to middleweight title shot against now-former champ Anderson Silva at UFC 73. After a spirited early effort, he was stopped in the first round. During a pair of subsequent title runs, he fell short in pivotal matchups against Chael Sonnen and Yushin Okami, leading UFC President Dana White to proclaim he was a “choker” who fell short in big fights.

Despite his setbacks, Marquardt leaves the octagon with several notable accomplishments. His 23 UFC middleweight fights are the second most in divisional history behind ex-champ Michael Bisping, who has 24. His 13 middleweight victories are tied with Okami for third most in divisional history behind Bisping (16) and former titleholder Anderson Silva (14). And his nine stoppage victories at middleweight competition are tied with Chris Leben for second most in divisional history behind Silva (11).

Marquardt, a longtime Denver resident, said he will remain in the sport as a coach and owner of a “sports ministry,” Resurrection Jiu-Jitsu. A devout Christian, he also said he is pursuing a degree at a seminary school.

Here is Marquardt’s full post:

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6). Since I became a Christian, this has been one of my favorite passages in the Bible. Jesus said we must become like children to enter the kingdom of heaven. The humility that a child has is shown in their dependency on and trust in their parents. I have had many accomplishments and victories as well as many trials and upsets in my career. I have won 4 world titles and I have subsequently lost three of them. I have had many winning and losing streaks. I have battled chronic injuries and had 6 surgeries. I have learned that I can trust God in every situation and need to put him first. After 22 years as an athlete in the sport of Mixed Martial Arts, I believe God is calling me in another direction.

“I want to thank everyone that has supported me throughout my career, including the UFC, Strikeforce and Pancrase. I have many fans that have stuck by me in the ups and the downs and I want you to know that I really appreciate it. I have been blessed to work with so many of the best coaches and training partners in the world and I have much gratitude for every moment of it. I cherish all the relationships that have been formed through this that sport we love. I am exceedingly grateful for those closest to me: my coaches, teammates, friends, wife and family. Above all, I thank God for his provision, protection, patience and guidance through my career.

“I am also happy to say that I will still be involved in MMA on many levels. I will continue training in all aspects of MMA and I will also continue to run my sports ministry, Resurrection Jiu-Jitsu. I am currently pursuing a degree at Gateway Seminary, and I plan on using my experience in MMA and the UFC on the mission field. At this point, my family and I are praying for direction for where God is leading us globally and by what means. Wherever and however we go, I believe God will use MMA in some capacity, either teaching at a gym, coaching fighters, running a sports ministry, and/or teaching seminars. Either way, we are excited for this next season in our life as a family and we are confident that God is directing our paths!”

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


Filed under: News, UFC

Dana White hopes Conor McGregor returns to UFC in Summer 2018

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Filed under: Featured, News, UFC

With Conor McGregor’s year-end return off the table, UFC President Dana White is shifting his attention to another high season for pay-per-view business.

White today told ESPN’s “Sportscenter” (via MMANYTT.com) he hopes to have McGregor back in the octagon by Summer 2018.

“Get through the holidays, and hopefully he starts to get the itch to come back and hopefully we can get him back this summer,” said White.

McGregor (21-3 MMA, 9-1 UFC), the No. 1 ranked fighter in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA lightweight rankings and No. 3 pound-for-pound fighter, has yet to defend the lightweight title he won in November 2016. A return was targeted by the UFC for its end-of-the-year event at UFC 219, but the promotion reportedly nixed that following a McGregor’s recent misbehavior outside the cage.

A blockbuster payday from his August boxing match with Floyd Mayweather has put McGregor in the driver’s seat with his career. The Irish champ, who reportedly banked more than $100 million for “The Money Fight,” has said he wants an ownership stake in the UFC, which White won’t entertain.

Meanwhile, a logjam of title contenders now waits to advance while interim champion Tony Ferguson (24-3 MMA, 14-1 UFC) pushes for a title unifier.

White called the situation a “mess” and said a fight on Saturday between Khabib Nurmagomedov (24-0 MMA, 8-0 UFC) and Edson Barboza (19-4 MMA, 13-4 UFC) at UFC 219 will begin to clear the blockage at the top of the lightweight division.

“Whoever wins the Barboza-Khabib fight – while we’re trying to figure out this Conor mess – could end up fighting Tony Ferguson for the opportunity to fight Conor McGregor,” he said.

Despite the situation, the UFC executive said his recent conversations with McGregor haven’t been about fighting. After the holidays, though, he plans to get serious about making a deal.

The UFC typically holds a major summer event in July during its International Fight Week gathering, with major stars and title fights booked to bolster crowds in Las Vegas.

A McGregor return undoubtedly would propel any event to blockbuster status. But White claimed money isn’t the main factor that will determine whether the champ returns.

“Money is always a factor, but we’ve never had a problem getting a deal done with Conor McGregor,” White said. “I don’t see that being a problem,” White said. “The question is, does he want to come back and do it?

“No matter how much money you make, I always feel like with certain people, you can only go on so many vacations, (and) there’s only so much stuff you can buy, and then you’re ready to get back to the grind, hopefully.”

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

Aug 11, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Conor McGregor warms up in the ring during a media workout in preparation for his fight against Floyd Mayweather, Jr. at UFC Performance Institute. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports Aug 11, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Conor McGregor speaks with reporters after a media workout in preparation for his fight against Floyd Mayweather, Jr. at UFC Performance Institute. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports Aug 11, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Conor McGregor enters the workout area during a media workout in preparation for his fight against Floyd Mayweather, Jr. at UFC Performance Institute. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports Aug 11, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Conor McGregor speaks to reporters while getting his hands wrapped during a media workout in preparation for his fight against Floyd Mayweather, Jr. at UFC Performance Institute. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports Aug 11, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Conor McGregor speaks with reporters after a media workout in preparation for his fight against Floyd Mayweather, Jr. at UFC Performance Institute. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports Aug 11, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Conor McGregor speaks with reporters after a media workout in preparation for his fight against Floyd Mayweather, Jr. at UFC Performance Institute. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports Aug 11, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Conor McGregor speaks with reporters after a media workout in preparation for his fight against Floyd Mayweather, Jr. at UFC Performance Institute. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports Aug 11, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Conor McGregor speaks with reporters after a media workout in preparation for his fight against Floyd Mayweather, Jr. at UFC Performance Institute. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports Aug 11, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Conor McGregor speaks with reporters after a media workout in preparation for his fight against Floyd Mayweather, Jr. at UFC Performance Institute. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports Aug 11, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Conor McGregor warms up in the ring during a media workout in preparation for his fight against Floyd Mayweather, Jr. at UFC Performance Institute. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports Aug 11, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Conor McGregor warms up in the ring during a media workout in preparation for his fight against Floyd Mayweather, Jr. at UFC Performance Institute. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports Aug 11, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Conor McGregor hits a heavy bag during a media workout in preparation for his fight against Floyd Mayweather, Jr. at UFC Performance Institute. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports Aug 11, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Conor McGregor has looks on during a media workout in preparation for his fight against Floyd Mayweather, Jr. at UFC Performance Institute. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports Aug 11, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Conor McGregor hits an uppercut bag during a media workout in preparation for his fight against Floyd Mayweather, Jr. at UFC Performance Institute. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports Aug 11, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Conor McGregor hits an uppercut bag during a media workout in preparation for his fight against Floyd Mayweather, Jr. at UFC Performance Institute. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports Aug 11, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Conor McGregor hits an uppercut bag during a media workout in preparation for his fight against Floyd Mayweather, Jr. at UFC Performance Institute. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports Aug 11, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Conor McGregor hits a heavy bag during a media workout in preparation for his fight against Floyd Mayweather, Jr. at UFC Performance Institute. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports Aug 11, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Conor McGregor looks on during a media workout in preparation for his fight against Floyd Mayweather, Jr. at UFC Performance Institute. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports Aug 11, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Conor McGregor hits a heavy bag during a media workout in preparation for his fight against Floyd Mayweather, Jr. at UFC Performance Institute. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports Aug 11, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Conor McGregor drinks water during a media workout in preparation for his fight against Floyd Mayweather, Jr. at UFC Performance Institute. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-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/68dBFQsn94fMkuPbDjykuH/293092", customAnalytics: true, title: "McGregor workout before Mayweather fight", feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == "undefined") ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();
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Khalil Rountree: UFC 219 opponent in way of what I really want – fight with Gokhan Saki

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Filed under: News, UFC, Videos

LAS VEGAS – Khalil Rountree still mourns the loss of a fight with Gokhan Saki at UFC 219.

Thinking about Saki being forced to withdraw from the pay-per-view event with an injury, Rountree doesn’t mince words about how he took the news.

“It crushed me,” Rountree told MMAjunkie in advance of his FS1-televised fight with Michal Oleksiejczuk on Saturday at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. “I was crushed. I felt like someone had taken everything away from me.”

Although Rountree (6-2 MMA, 2-2 UFC) is now scheduled to face Oleksiejczuk (12-2 MMA, 0-0 UFC), he hasn’t let go of the idea of fighting Saki (1-1 MMA, 1-0 UFC). The next time he walks to the octagon after UFC 219, Rountree wants the Turkish kickboxer to be standing opposite him. He told Saki as much when the two recently crossed paths at the UFC Performance Institute in Las Vegas.

“I told him I still want that fight,” Rountree said. “I see that you’re injured. I know that it takes some time. But whenever you’re ready, I want that fight. Don’t choose anybody else.”

RelatedUFC 219 pre-event facts: Holly Holm hunting for history

The matchup seemed like destiny to Rountree after a recent career epiphany. On the mend after two straight losses, he got his act together at the promotion’s training and recovery laboratory.

In February, Rountree knocked out Paul Jolly, an opponent he’d accepted before hopping on the plane back to the U.S. on the heels of his second UFC loss. Then, in July, he knocked out Paul Craig to halt the Scottish fighter’s momentum.

A fight with Saki wasn’t just an opportunity to advance his career. It also came with the potential to show up his doubters.

After accepting the bout, Rountree said he received well intentioned advice from observers and threats from Saki’s fans. Both thought he would get blown out of the water if he stood and traded strikes.

“I didn’t want to fight in (Las) Vegas,” Rountree said. “But because it was Gokhan Saki, because it was such a huge opportunity, I would have taken anything.

“I was preparing to give the fans the fight they wanted to see. Everybody’s telling me, ‘Take him down’ – that’s the way you’re going to win.’ I’m like, ‘That’s the way you’re going to win because you’re afraid. But I’m here to entertain.'”

And then Saki fell out, killing all of Rountree’s physical and mental momentum in the gym. He never considered withdrawing, because that would be against his values. But it wasn’t easy to get used to the idea of fighting an unknown newcomer.

“I had to make a huge shift, because I was so amped up for that fight,” he said. “I still am. I’m not going to say a minor adjustment; it was a huge one. Now, there’s just something in the way of something that I really want, and now I’m 100 percent dialed in on that.”

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

Jul 16, 2017; Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom; Kahlil Rountree Jr (red gloves) reacts after defeating Paul Craig (right) during UFC Fight Night at SSE Hydro. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Jul 16, 2017; Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom; Kahlil Rountree Jr (red gloves) fights Paul Craig (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at SSE Hydro. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Jul 16, 2017; Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom; Kahlil Rountree Jr (red gloves) fights Paul Craig (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at SSE Hydro. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Jul 16, 2017; Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom; Kahlil Rountree Jr (red gloves) fights Paul Craig (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at SSE Hydro. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Jul 16, 2017; Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom; Kahlil Rountree Jr (red gloves) fights Paul Craig (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at SSE Hydro. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Jul 16, 2017; Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom; Kahlil Rountree Jr (red gloves) fights Paul Craig (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at SSE Hydro. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Jul 16, 2017; Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom; Kahlil Rountree Jr (red gloves) fights Paul Craig (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at SSE Hydro. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Jul 16, 2017; Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom; Kahlil Rountree Jr (red gloves) fights Paul Craig (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at SSE Hydro. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Jul 16, 2017; Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom; Kahlil Rountree Jr (red gloves) fights Paul Craig (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at SSE Hydro. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Jul 16, 2017; Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom; Kahlil Rountree Jr (red gloves) fights Paul Craig (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at SSE Hydro. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Jul 16, 2017; Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom; Kahlil Rountree Jr (red gloves) fights Paul Craig (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at SSE Hydro. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Jul 16, 2017; Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom; Kahlil Rountree Jr (red gloves) fights Paul Craig (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at SSE Hydro. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Jul 16, 2017; Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom; Kahlil Rountree Jr (red gloves) fights Paul Craig (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at SSE Hydro. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Jul 16, 2017; Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom; Paul Craig (blue gloves) reacts after his bout against Kahlil Rountree Jr (not pictured) during UFC Fight Night at SSE Hydro. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports jQuery.extend( window._usmgOptions,{ scriptUrl: "https://s2.wp.com/wp-content/themes/vip/usatoday-plugins/api-galleries/assets", analyticsCallback: "galleryAnalytics", fullscreenUrl: "http://mmajunkie.com/sigallery/kLXWrYz9NLL99fnGSy7tRA/292973", customAnalytics: true, title: "Rountree def. Craig", feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == "undefined") ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();
Filed under: News, UFC, Videos

Jimmy Smith parts ways with Bellator broadcast team after lengthy run

After a long run beside the Bellator cage, commentator Jimmy Smith is stepping away.

The Viacom-owned promotion today announced the sudden departure of Smith in a press release, stating the decision was mutual.

“I am very grateful to the entire Bellator organization and fans for an amazing and unforgettable nine years,” Smith said in a prepared statement. “As I move on to the next phase in my career, I want to wish all of the fighters, producers, and Bellator staff the absolute best.”

Although the announcement didn’t specify the promotion’s future plans, it is assumed current Bellator commentators Mike Goldberg and Mauro Ranallo will assume respective full-time roles in play-by-play and color commentary.

Smith, a former MMA fighter, earned consistent praise for his breadth of knowledge and passion for the technical aspects of the action inside the cage. Along with play-by-play Sean Wheelock, he was an integral part of the Bellator brand during its early years under a tournament format.

After the departure of promoter Bjorn Rebney and installation of former Strikeforce chief Scott Coker in 2014, there were changes beside the cage. Wheelock was ousted, he said, at the behest of executives from TV partner Spike. In his place went Celtics play-by-play Sean Grande.

More guests also were heard cageside during events, to varying degrees of success. Smith famously tried to corral Mike Tyson as the former boxing champ lolled his way through an apparently drunken interview during Bellator 149.

In June, Grande departed Bellator to focus on basketball. The promotion announced permanent changes to the lineup, hiring former UFC play-by-play commentator Goldberg and veteran MMA and boxing color commentator Ranallo. The promotion didn’t immediately allocate roles for the bigger team and switched the cast members as events progressed.

Details on Bellator’s 2018 on-air team are expected to be announced soon.

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


Filed under: Bellator, Featured, News

Watch MMAjunkie Radio here (1 p.m. ET) with UFC's James Vick, James Krause


Filed under: News, UFC, Videos

MMAjunkie Radio kicks off today at 1 p.m. ET (10 a.m. PT) with guests James Vick and James Krause.

Vick is hoping to get on the card at UFC Fight Night 126 in Austin in his home state of Texas. He recently sounded off about the announced main event between Donald Cerrone and Yancy Medeiros. Krause is in Las Vegas to corner Tim Elliott on Saturday at UFC 219 and has his own fight coming up against Alex White at UFC Fight Night 124 in St. Louis.

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 YouTubepages. Additionally, SiriusXM Rush (Ch. 93) carries a replay later in the day (8-10 p.m. ET) and the following morning (7-9 a.m. ET), or catch a replay on demand.

MMAjunkie Radio listener guide:

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

Filed under: News, UFC, Videos

Stream or download MMAjunkie Radio #2588 with Cris Cyborg, Yancy Medeiros

Stream or download Wednesday’s episode of MMAjunkie Radio with guests Cris Cyborg and Yancy Medeiros.

Cyborg, who headlines UFC 219 on Saturday, called in to talk about her upcoming title fight with Holly Holm and more. Medeiros, coming off a win over Alex Oliveira at UFC 218, stopped by to unpack the experience and share what’s next for him.

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


Filed under: News, Radio, UFC

Andrei Arlovski vs. Stefan Struve headed to UFC 222 in Las Vegas

A pair of veteran heavyweights, including a former champion, have been booked to fight in March.

Former heavyweight champ Andrei Arlovski (26-15 MMA, 15-9 UFC) will take on Stefan Struve (28-9 MMA, 12-7 UFC) at UFC 222. UFC officials announced the new booking today.

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

RelatedSean O'Malley vs. Andre Soukhamthath booked for UFC 222 in Las Vegas

Arlovski got back on track in November with a unanimous decision win over Junior Albini at UFC Fight Night 120 in Virginia. The victory snapped a disastrous stretch of five straight losses, four of which had come by stoppage.

Prior to the five-fight skid, Arlovski returned to the UFC after six years away fighting for Affliction, EliteXC, Strikeforce, ONE Championship and WSOF and went on a four-fight winning streak against Brendan Schaub, Antonio Silva, Travis Browne and Frank Mir. But his slump featured TKO losses to current champ Stipe Miocic, Alistair Overeem and upcoming title challenger Francis Ngannou, as well as a submission loss to Josh Barnett.

RelatedAndrei Arlovski relieved after UFC Fight Night 120 win: 'Finally I broke the streak of losing'

Stefan Struve

Struve will be looking to get back on track after a third-round TKO loss to Alexander Volkov in the UFC Fight Night 115 main event in his home country of the Netherlands. Prior to that, the 7-footer had won three of four fights with a decision over Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, 16-second bonus-winning knockout of Silva and submission of Daniel Omielanczuk.

With the addition, the UFC 222 card includes:

  • C.B. Dollaway vs. Hector Lombard
  • Sean O’Malley vs. Andre Soukhamthath
  • Andrei Arlovski vs. Stefan Struve

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

Nov 11, 2017; Virginia, VA, USA; Andrei Arlovski (blue gloves) celebrates beating J nior Albini (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at the Ted Constant Convocation Center. Mandatory Credit: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports Nov 11, 2017; Virginia, VA, USA; J nior Albini (red gloves) fights Andrei Arlovski (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at the Ted Constant Convocation Center. Mandatory Credit: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports Nov 11, 2017; Virginia, VA, USA; J nior Albini (red gloves) fights Andrei Arlovski (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at the Ted Constant Convocation Center. Mandatory Credit: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports Nov 11, 2017; Virginia, VA, USA; J nior Albini (red gloves) fights Andrei Arlovski (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at the Ted Constant Convocation Center. Mandatory Credit: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports Nov 11, 2017; Virginia, VA, USA; J nior Albini (red gloves) fights Andrei Arlovski (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at the Ted Constant Convocation Center. Mandatory Credit: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports Nov 11, 2017; Virginia, VA, USA; J nior Albini (red gloves) fights Andrei Arlovski (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at the Ted Constant Convocation Center. Mandatory Credit: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports Nov 11, 2017; Virginia, VA, USA; J nior Albini (red gloves) fights Andrei Arlovski (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at the Ted Constant Convocation Center. Mandatory Credit: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports Nov 11, 2017; Virginia, VA, USA; J nior Albini (red gloves) fights Andrei Arlovski (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at the Ted Constant Convocation Center. Mandatory Credit: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports Nov 11, 2017; Virginia, VA, USA; J nior Albini (red gloves) fights Andrei Arlovski (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at the Ted Constant Convocation Center. Mandatory Credit: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports Nov 11, 2017; Virginia, VA, USA; J nior Albini (red gloves) fights Andrei Arlovski (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at the Ted Constant Convocation Center. Mandatory Credit: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports Nov 11, 2017; Virginia, VA, USA; J nior Albini (red gloves) fights Andrei Arlovski (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at the Ted Constant Convocation Center. Mandatory Credit: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports Nov 11, 2017; Virginia, VA, USA; J nior Albini (red gloves) fights Andrei Arlovski (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at the Ted Constant Convocation Center. Mandatory Credit: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports Nov 11, 2017; Virginia, VA, USA; J nior Albini (red gloves) fights Andrei Arlovski (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at the Ted Constant Convocation Center. Mandatory Credit: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports Nov 11, 2017; Virginia, VA, USA; J nior Albini (red gloves) fights Andrei Arlovski (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at the Ted Constant Convocation Center. Mandatory Credit: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports Nov 11, 2017; Virginia, VA, USA; J nior Albini (red gloves) fights Andrei Arlovski (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at the Ted Constant Convocation Center. Mandatory Credit: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports Nov 11, 2017; Virginia, VA, USA; J nior Albini (red gloves) fights Andrei Arlovski (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at the Ted Constant Convocation Center. Mandatory Credit: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports Nov 11, 2017; Virginia, VA, USA; J nior Albini (red gloves) fights Andrei Arlovski (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at the Ted Constant Convocation Center. Mandatory Credit: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports Nov 11, 2017; Virginia, VA, USA; Andrei Arlovski (blue gloves) celebrates beating J nior Albini (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at the Ted Constant Convocation Center. Mandatory Credit: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports Nov 11, 2017; Virginia, VA, USA; Andrei Arlovski (blue gloves) celebrates beating J nior Albini (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at the Ted Constant Convocation Center. Mandatory Credit: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports Nov 11, 2017; Virginia, VA, USA; Andrei Arlovski (blue gloves) celebrates beating J nior Albini (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at the Ted Constant Convocation Center. Mandatory Credit: Peter Casey-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/MjAnt2GJz28D7S5Cas6N2e/293051", customAnalytics: true, title: "Arlovski def. Albini", feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == "undefined") ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();
Filed under: Featured, News, UFC

UFC 219's Carla Esparza focused on Cynthia Calvillo, not potential Rose Namajunas rematch for title

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Filed under: News, UFC, Videos

LAS VEGAS – Former UFC champ Carla Esparza is one of two people to own an octagon victory over current strawweight queen Rose Namajunas. However, even that achievement isn’t enough to get her to scream from the hills for a title shot.

Esparza (12-4 MMA, 3-2 UFC) is not the type to ruffle feathers. She knows Saturday’s UFC 219 showdown with Cynthia Calvillo (6-0 MMA, 3-0 UFC) is a critical matchup for the weight class, with the winner in a good spot to argue for a championship bout. Even with that knowledge, “The Cookie Monster” is reluctant to make demands or assumptions about the future.

“Every fight is a step towards being the best,” Esparza told MMAjunkie. “Wherever that puts me, it puts me. I definitely think people have been talking about, ‘Title this, title that.’ For me it’s just about focusing on what’s in front of me.”

RelatedUFC 219 pre-event facts: Holly Holm hunting for history

UFC 219 takes place Saturday at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Esparza vs. Calvillo airs on the pay-per-view main card following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass.

Esparza defeated Namajunas (7-3 MMA, 4-2 UFC) by submission in the UFC’s inaugural 115-pound title fight at The Ultimate Fighter 20 Finale in December 2014. She quickly dropped the strap to Joanna Jedrzejczyk, who went on a long defense run before having her reign thwarted by Namajunas in a stunning upset at UFC 217 in November.

Although she reiterated her focus is solely on the fight against Calvillo this weekend, Esparza admits she couldn’t ignore the title change and what it potentially means for her position in the division.

“I couldn’t help but really think about it when Rose won the belt,” Esparza said. “Everyone was messaging me about it. Personally I think she’s grown a lot since we initially fought. I think I’ve grown a lot since we fought. I’m just happy for her now and what she has now.”

RelatedWhy Cynthia Calvillo feels unstoppable ahead of UFC 219 bout vs. Carla Esparza

As a veteran of the sport, Esparza is more than aware every hypothetical for the future means absolutely nothing unless she wins her upcoming fight. It’s no easy one, either, because Calvillo has been red-hot since making her UFC debut earlier this year.

“I think Cynthia has a really good grappling game,” Esparza said. “She’s really fast on the ground, has really good transitions in the scrambles. I think her fighting isn’t super standard. I don’t think she has the most experience striking, but I think she has a different style. Very off-the-line, moves a lot. I think that might pose a little bit of a challenge.”

Calvillo specifically requested to fight Esparza at UFC 219. The Team Alpha Male product already has three UFC wins this year and wants to add the name of a former UFC champion to her resume and hopefully slide into a title fight of her own.

Esparza admits she was “caught a little bit off guard” when Calvillo asked to fight her, mainly because she had minimal knowledge of her upcoming opponent before the booking. Nevertheless, Esparza said she knows what she’s in for now and plans on getting the win.

“I was like, ‘Oh, this girl wants to fight me?'” Esparza said. “I had honestly never even seen her fight at that point. Eventually when I got the fight I looked her up and I was like, ‘All right, this girl has some good stuff, and she’s a good fighter.’ It’ll be a good challenge.

“I think she’s definitely going to be moving around and trying to impose her timing on the striking and everything,” she continued. “I just want to impose my will. I think I have a superior wrestling game to hers, dictate where the fight goes and impose my will.”

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

Jun 25, 2017; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Carla Esperza (red gloves ) fights Maryna Moroz (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sean Pokorny-USA TODAY Sports Jun 25, 2017; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Carla Esperza (red gloves ) fights Maryna Moroz (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sean Pokorny-USA TODAY Sports Jun 25, 2017; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Carla Esperza (red gloves ) fights Maryna Moroz (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sean Pokorny-USA TODAY Sports Jun 25, 2017; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Carla Esperza (red gloves ) fights Maryna Moroz (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sean Pokorny-USA TODAY Sports Jun 25, 2017; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Carla Esperza (red gloves ) fights Maryna Moroz (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sean Pokorny-USA TODAY Sports Jun 25, 2017; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Carla Esperza (red gloves ) fights Maryna Moroz (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sean Pokorny-USA TODAY Sports Jun 25, 2017; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Carla Esperza (red gloves ) fights Maryna Moroz (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sean Pokorny-USA TODAY Sports Jun 25, 2017; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Carla Esperza (red gloves ) fights Maryna Moroz (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sean Pokorny-USA TODAY Sports Jun 25, 2017; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Carla Esperza (red gloves ) fights Maryna Moroz (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sean Pokorny-USA TODAY Sports Jun 25, 2017; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Carla Esperza (red gloves ) fights Maryna Moroz (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sean Pokorny-USA TODAY Sports Jun 25, 2017; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Carla Esperza (red gloves ) fights Maryna Moroz (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sean Pokorny-USA TODAY Sports Jun 25, 2017; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Carla Esperza (red gloves ) fights Maryna Moroz (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sean Pokorny-USA TODAY Sports Jun 25, 2017; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Carla Esperza (red gloves ) fights Maryna Moroz (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sean Pokorny-USA TODAY Sports Jun 25, 2017; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Carla Esperza (red gloves ) fights Maryna Moroz (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sean Pokorny-USA TODAY Sports Jun 25, 2017; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Carla Esperza (red gloves ) reacts after beating Maryna Moroz (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sean Pokorny-USA TODAY Sports jQuery.extend( window._usmgOptions,{ scriptUrl: "https://s2.wp.com/wp-content/themes/vip/usatoday-plugins/api-galleries/assets", analyticsCallback: "galleryAnalytics", fullscreenUrl: "http://mmajunkie.com/sigallery/qFpWp77GPr4kiPA6oUpzsT/292953", customAnalytics: true, title: "Esparza def. Moroz", feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == "undefined") ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();
Filed under: News, UFC, Videos

Things escalate between Ian McCall, Mane Kape at Rizin FF 8 weigh-ins

Lesson of the day, kids? “Don’t you ever put your (expletive) hands on a cowboy,” apparently.

At least that’s what Mane Kape learned this morning, when weigh-ins for Friday’s Rizin FF 8 event got out of hand. After both he and Ian McCall confirmed they’d met the bantamweight limit for their co-headlining bout, Kape slapped the back of the UFC veteran’s head.

McCall (13-5-1) reacted quickly, hitting Kape (7-1) back in the face with a left hand. Kape tried to land follow-up blows of his own before officials intervened. (via Twitter)

The McCall/Kape weigh-in went as you'd expect. Co-main tomorrow. #RIZIN2017 pic.twitter.com/RGbtBWWrCT

— caposa (@Grabaka_Hitman) December 28, 2017

Judging by his post-altercation tweet, McCall didn’t feel particularly bad about the whole thing.

Don’t you ever put your fucking hands on a cowboy! https://t.co/t1hLxsfskg

— Ian McCall (@Unclecreepymma) December 28, 2017

The two may have been pulled apart before things physically escalated any further, but apparently McCall still had some energy left in him. So he took to Twitter to not only resume a previous exchange with Kape, but to make sure everyone at least got one fact straight: It was a slap, not a punch.

It was a slap. If my hand was closed he would have dropped https://t.co/SE8zcJh1pu

— Ian McCall (@Unclecreepymma) December 28, 2017

Who knows, McCall later consulted directly with the source, maybe it was a slap worthy of  getting the noble  “Stockton” stamp?

I think there’s no other way! @NateDiaz209 https://t.co/WY9JM8t679

— Ian McCall (@Unclecreepymma) December 28, 2017

We’ll see how the fighters channel all this nervous emotion on Friday, when they meet in one of the quarterfinals of Rizin’s year-end bantamweight tournament. The winner of the bout advances to the semifinals, which take place on Sunday, also at Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan. Both events air via online pay-per-view.

For more on Rizin FF 8 and Rizin FF 9, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

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


Filed under: Blue Corner, Featured, News

Video: Watch Episode 1 of 'Cyborg Nation' UFC 219 all-access series


Filed under: Blue Corner, News, UFC, Videos

Cris Cyborg’s first UFC title defense takes place Saturday when she meets Holly Holm at UFC 219.

Cyborg (18-1 MMA, 3-0 UFC) had a long and tumultuous journey to reach UFC women’s featherweight gold. Soon she’ll find out if she can defend it when she meets Holm (11-3 MMA, 4-3 UFC), the former UFC women’s bantamweight champion, in the anticipated event headliner, and the Brazilian is documenting everything in the final days leading up to the event.

Cyborg has released the first edition of her UFC 219 all-access video blog, “Cyborg Nation,” which can be seen above.

UFC 219 takes place at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas with a pay-per-view main card following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass.

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

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

July 29, 2017; Anaheim, CA, USA; Cris Cyborg is declared the winner by TKO and champion against Tonya Evinger during UFC 214 at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports July 29, 2017; Anaheim, CA, USA; Cris Cyborg pins Tonya Evinger to the cage during UFC 214 at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports July 29, 2017; Anaheim, CA, USA; Cris Cyborg lands a kick against Tonya Evinger during UFC 214 at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports July 29, 2017; Anaheim, CA, USA; Cris Cyborg reacts following her victory against Tonya Evinger during UFC 214 at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports July 29, 2017; Anaheim, CA, USA; Cris Cyborg reacts following her victory against Tonya Evinger during UFC 214 at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports May 14, 2016; Curitiba, Brazil; Cris Justino (red) awaits the start of her fight against Leslie Smith during UFC Fight Night at Arena Atletico Paranaense. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports May 14, 2016; Curitiba, Brazil; Cris Justino (red) lands a punch to the face of Leslie Smith (blue) during UFC Fight Night at Arena Atletico Paranaense. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports May 14, 2016; Curitiba, Brazil; Cris Justino (red) throws a kick defended by Leslie Smith (blue) during UFC Fight Night at Arena Atletico Paranaense. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports May 14, 2016; Curitiba, Brazil; Cris Justino (red) fights against Leslie Smith (blue) during UFC Fight Night at Arena Atletico Paranaense. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports May 14, 2016; Curitiba, Brazil; Cris Justino (red) reacts after defending Leslie Smith (not pictured) during UFC Fight Night at Arena Atletico Paranaense. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports May 14, 2016; Curitiba, Brazil; Cris Justino (red) reacts for the fans and cameras after defending Leslie Smith (not pictured) during UFC Fight Night at Arena Atletico Paranaense. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports May 14, 2016; Curitiba, Brazil; Cris Justino (red) reacts for the fans and cameras after defending Leslie Smith (not pictured) during UFC Fight Night at Arena Atletico Paranaense. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports May 14, 2016; Curitiba, Brazil; Cris Justino (red) reacts after defending Leslie Smith (not pictured) during UFC Fight Night at Arena Atletico Paranaense. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports May 14, 2016; Curitiba, Brazil; Cris Justino (red) reacts after defending Leslie Smith (not pictured) during UFC Fight Night at Arena Atletico Paranaense. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports May 14, 2016; Curitiba, Brazil; Cris Justino (red) reacts after defending Leslie Smith (not pictured) during UFC Fight Night at Arena Atletico Paranaense. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports Sep 24, 2016; Brasilia, Brazil; Cris Cyborg (red gloves) before her fight against Lina Lansberg (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Nilson Nelson Gymnasium. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports Sep 24, 2016; Brasilia, Brazil; Cris Cyborg (red gloves) fights Lina Lansberg (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Nilson Nelson Gymnasium. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports Sep 24, 2016; Brasilia, Brazil; Cris Cyborg (red gloves) fights Lina Lansberg (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Nilson Nelson Gymnasium. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports Sep 24, 2016; Brasilia, Brazil; Cris Cyborg (red gloves) fights Lina Lansberg (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Nilson Nelson Gymnasium. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports Sep 24, 2016; Brasilia, Brazil; Cris Cyborg (red gloves) fights Lina Lansberg (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Nilson Nelson Gymnasium. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports Sep 24, 2016; Brasilia, Brazil; Cris Cyborg (red gloves) celebrates defeating Lina Lansberg (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Nilson Nelson Gymnasium. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports Sep 24, 2016; Brasilia, Brazil; Cris Cyborg (red gloves) celebrates defeating Lina Lansberg (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Nilson Nelson Gymnasium. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports Sep 24, 2016; Brasilia, Brazil; Cris Cyborg (red gloves) celebrates defeating Lina Lansberg (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Nilson Nelson Gymnasium. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports Sep 24, 2016; Brasilia, Brazil; Cris Cyborg (red gloves) celebrates defeating Lina Lansberg (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Nilson Nelson Gymnasium. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports Sep 24, 2016; Brasilia, Brazil; Cris Cyborg (red gloves) celebrates defeating Lina Lansberg (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Nilson Nelson Gymnasium. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports jQuery.extend( window._usmgOptions,{ scriptUrl: "https://s2.wp.com/wp-content/themes/vip/usatoday-plugins/api-galleries/assets", analyticsCallback: "galleryAnalytics", fullscreenUrl: "http://mmajunkie.com/sigallery/y5eH9VBEbCKAge5sGWfVGJ/292905", customAnalytics: true, title: "Cris Cyborg", feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == "undefined") ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();
Filed under: Blue Corner, News, UFC, Videos

Gabi Garcia ridiculously overweight for Rizin FF 8, bout with 53-year-old Shinobu Kandori in jeopardy

An open-weight fight at Rizin FF 8 is in jeopardy after Gabi Garcia came in 28 pounds over the 209-pound limit.

Garcia (4-0) weighed in at 237 pounds today for her scheduled fight against 53-year-old retired professional wrestler Shinobu Kandori (4-1), who was 162.25. According to reports on social media, Kandori screamed at Garcia on the stage, then stormed off.

Rizin FF 8 takes place Friday at Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan, near Tokyo. The event airs via online pay-per-view.

Commentator Joe Ferraro said on Twitter that Rizin FF head Nobuyuki Sakakibara came on stage and said “Competition-wise, we cannot make this happen.” But so far, the bout has not officially been scrapped.

#RizinFF Update: Gabi Garcia was 12 kgs over. Opponent Shinobu Kandori freaked out and started yelling “this is a disgrace”. Sakikibara came on stage and said “competitionwise, we cannot make this happen.” Stay tuned.

— Joe Ferraro (@ShowdownJoe) December 28, 2017

If it goes ahead, though, Garcia would have a weight advantage of nearly 75 pounds against a 53-year-old opponent who hasn’t competed in MMA in more than 17 years.

The two were booked to fight a year ago for Rizin, but Kandori pulled out with an injury.

RIZIN FF weigh-in results: Gabi Garcia misses weight by 27lbs, RIZIN president considers cancelling fight against Kandori https://t.co/CBlrpmvWLc pic.twitter.com/YFSJdntg4Q

— Women's MMA Rankings (@WMMARankings) December 28, 2017

Stay tuned to MMAjunkie for more on this story as it develops.

For more on Rizin FF 8 and Rizin FF 9, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

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


Filed under: Blue Corner, Featured, News

Robert Follis' death weighs heavy on Tim Elliott ahead of UFC 219

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Filed under: Featured, News, UFC, Videos

LAS VEGAS – Onetime UFC flyweight title challenger Tim Elliott almost withdrew from his second consecutive octagon bout.

No one would have blamed him. Elliott’s coach, Robert Follis, took his own life two weeks ago.

Elliott (14-8-1 MMA, 3-6 UFC) has decided instead to honor his contract to fight Mark Delarosa (9-0 MMA, 0-0 UFC) at UFC 219.

“I spent two months training every day with a guy, and now he’s gone,” Elliott told MMAjunkie in advance of his UFC Fight Pass-streamed bout on Saturday at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. “I’m never going to get another chance. I don’t want to waste his time, and I don’t want to waste mine.”

RelatedTim Elliott feels like UFC 'spit in my face' by not paying full purse after UFC on FOX 26 scratch

Follis’ shocking death, which prompted an outpouring of grief from the MMA industry, came on the heels of an already traumatic month for Elliott, who was scheduled to face Pietro Menga (13-0 MMA, 0-0 UFC) earlier this month at UFC on FOX 26.

When Menga came in heavy, the promotion requested a catchweight bout. Elliott and his coaches declined and were at the brunt of online insults from MMA fans, who berated him for requesting his show and win money to compensate for the lost flyweight bout. In turn, he berated the promotion.

Elliott had just moved from Kansas to Nevada to take his career to the next level. He bought a house for $270,000. He specifically joined up with Follis at Xtreme Couture.

“Now, I’m stuck in a spot where I don’t really want to be here anymore,” Elliott said. “(Follis) was the reason I was here. All the Xtreme guys are awesome, but the fact of the matter is, I moved here to be near him. So I don’t know what I’m going to do.”

RelatedMMA community mourns passing of coach Robert Follis

When Elliott’s teammates and coaches arrived from Kansas to corner him, there was talk of withdrawing from the bout, a bantamweight contest booked to make his weight cut more manageable after his ill-fated bout at flyweight.

Elliott said he couldn’t sleep, and he’d been “drinking quite a bit and not eating.” When he stepped onto the promotion’s scale at the beginning of fight week, he was 134 pounds, 14 less than when he showed up for the canceled fight.

“I thought that staying at it and keeping my mind busy would make it where I wasn’t stuck in my head so much,” Elliott said. “But there’s little things, like going to the (UFC Performance Institute), that will trigger me, and I get a little emotional. And I never fight with any emotion.”

Eventually, longtime coach and UFC veteran James Krause convinced him to compete. Elliott, though, is uncertain how he’ll feel inside the octagon with such a huge shadow lingering overhead.

“I’m a little worried how my emotions are going to play out,” he said. “I don’t want it to wear me out. I feel if I can just get in there and do what I love to do, then everything will be fine.”

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

Apr 15, 2017; Kansas City, MO, USA; Tim Elliott (blue) celebrates the win over Louis Smolka (red) and fight during UFC Fight Night at the Sprint Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports Apr 15, 2017; Kansas City, MO, USA; Louis Smolka (Red Gloves) fights Tim Elliott (Blue Gloves) during UFC Fight Night at the Sprint Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports Apr 15, 2017; Kansas City, MO, USA; Louis Smolka (red) and Tim Elliott (blue) fight during UFC Fight Night at the Sprint Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports Apr 15, 2017; Kansas City, MO, USA; Louis Smolka (Red Gloves) fights Tim Elliott (Blue Gloves) during UFC Fight Night at the Sprint Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports Apr 14, 2017; Kansas City, MO, USA; Tim Elliott reacts during weigh ins for UFC Fight Night at the Kansas City Power and Light District. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports Nov 16, 2013; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Tim Elliott (red gloves) fights against Ali Bagautinov (blue gloves) in their flyweight bout during UFC 167 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports Aug 31, 2013; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Louis Gaudinot (bottom) fights Tim Elliott during the UFC-164 bout at BMO Harris Bradley Center. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports Aug 31, 2013; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Louis Gaudinot (left) fights Tim Elliott during the UFC-164 bout at BMO Harris Bradley Center. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports Aug 31, 2013; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Louis Gaudinot (left) fights Tim Elliott during the UFC-164 bout at BMO Harris Bradley Center. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports Aug 31, 2013; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Louis Gaudinot (bottom) fights Tim Elliott during the UFC-164 bout at BMO Harris Bradley Center. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-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/YxSP9Yf8SQWULLMtUmxooP/292985", customAnalytics: true, title: "Tim Elliott", feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == "undefined") ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();
Filed under: Featured, News, UFC, Videos

Marc Diakiese vs. Dan Hooker set for UFC 219 main card with Lineker-Rivera scrapped

Just a few days out, a lightweight bout from the UFC 219 preliminary card has been elevated to the pay-per-view.

Marc Diakiese (12-1 MMA, 3-1 UFC) and Dan Hooker (14-7 MMA, 4-3 UFC) now will meet in the middle of the main card instead of the middle of the prelims on Saturday. UFC officials announced the change following the cancellation of the bantamweight bout between John Lineker (30-8 MMA, 11-3 UFC) and Jimmie Rivera (21-1 MMA, 5-0 UFC). Lineker was forced out due to a dental issue.

UFC 219 takes place at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas with a pay-per-view main card following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass.

The shift up for Diakiese and Hooker means the welterweight fight between Omari Akhmedov (17-4 MMA, 5-3 UFC) and Marvin Vettori (12-3 MMA, 2-1 UFC) heads from the UFC Fight Pass prelims to the FS1 portion of the card. That leaves just one bout on UFC Fight Pass – Mark Delarosa (9-0, 0-0 UFC) vs. Tim Elliott (14-8-1 MMA, 3-6 UFC) – with a new 7:30 p.m. ET start time.

Hooker returns to action for the first time since a “Performance of the Night” win over Ross Pearson at UFC Fight Night 110 in June. The 27-year-old Kiwi has alternated wins and losses during a seven-fight UFC run – a stretch that includes a decision loss to Yair Rodriguez at UFC 192, which represents Hooker’s only previous U.S. appearance.

Diakiese is considered a top European prospect and already owns a trio of UFC wins over Teemu Packalen, Frankie Perez and Lukasz Sajewski. However, the 24-year-old Englishman currently seeks to rebound from the first loss of his professional career after suffering a split-decision loss to Drakkar Klose at The Ultimate Fighter 25 Finale in July.

The revised UFC 219 card now includes:

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

  • Champ Cris Cyborg vs. Holly Holm – for women’s featherweight title
  • Edson Barboza vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov
  • Marc Diakiese vs. Dan Hooker
  • Cynthia Calvillo vs. Carla Esparza
  • Carlos Condit vs. Neil Magny

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

  • Michal Oleksiejczuk vs. Khalil Rountree
  • Rick Glenn vs. Myles Jury
  • Omari Akhmedov vs. Marvin Vettori
  • Matheus Nicolau vs. Louis Smolka

PRELIMINARY CARD (UFC Fight Pass, 7:30 p.m. ET)

  • Mark Delarosa vs. Tim Elliott

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

Oct 8, 2016; Manchester, UK; Marc Diakiese (blue gloves) enters the octagon before his fight against Lukasz Sajewski (not pictured) during UFC 204 at Manchester Arena. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Oct 8, 2016; Manchester, UK; Lukasz Sajewski (red gloves) fights against Marc Diakiese (blue gloves) during UFC 204 at Manchester Arena. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Oct 8, 2016; Manchester, UK; Lukasz Sajewski (red gloves) fights against Marc Diakiese (blue gloves) during UFC 204 at Manchester Arena. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Oct 8, 2016; Manchester, UK; Lukasz Sajewski (red gloves) fights against Marc Diakiese (blue gloves) during UFC 204 at Manchester Arena. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Oct 8, 2016; Manchester, UK; Lukasz Sajewski (red gloves) fights against Marc Diakiese (blue gloves) during UFC 204 at Manchester Arena. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Oct 8, 2016; Manchester, UK; Lukasz Sajewski (red gloves) fights against Marc Diakiese (blue gloves) during UFC 204 at Manchester Arena. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Oct 8, 2016; Manchester, UK; Lukasz Sajewski (red gloves) fights against Marc Diakiese (blue gloves) during UFC 204 at Manchester Arena. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Oct 8, 2016; Manchester, UK; Lukasz Sajewski (red gloves) fights against Marc Diakiese (blue gloves) during UFC 204 at Manchester Arena. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Oct 8, 2016; Manchester, UK; Marc Diakiese (blue gloves) celebrates his victory over Lukasz Sajewski during UFC 204 at Manchester Arena. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Dec 9, 2016; Albany, NY, USA; Frankie Perez (red gloves) fights Marc Diakiese (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Times Union Center. Mandatory Credit: Michael Adamucci-USA TODAY Sports Dec 9, 2016; Albany, NY, USA; Frankie Perez (left) fights Marc Diakiese during UFC Fight Night at Times Union Center. Mandatory Credit: Michael Adamucci-USA TODAY Sports Dec 9, 2016; Albany, NY, USA; Marc Diakiese reacts after defeating Frankie Perez during UFC Fight Night at Times Union Center. Mandatory Credit: Michael Adamucci-USA TODAY Sports Mar 18, 2017; London, United Kingdom; Marc Diakiese (red gloves) fights Teemu Packalen (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at O2 Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Flynn-USA TODAY Sports Mar 18, 2017; London, United Kingdom; Marc Diakiese (red gloves) fights Teemu Packalen (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at O2 Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Flynn-USA TODAY Sports Mar 18, 2017; London, United Kingdom; Marc Diakiese (red gloves) fights Teemu Packalen (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at O2 Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Flynn-USA TODAY Sports Mar 18, 2017; London, United Kingdom; The referee dives in to protect Teemu Packalen (blue gloves) after being knocked out by Marc Diakiese (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at O2 Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Flynn-USA TODAY Sports Mar 18, 2017; London, United Kingdom; Marc Diakiese (red gloves) celebrates with a flip after knocking out Teemu Packalen (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at O2 Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Flynn-USA TODAY Sports Mar 18, 2017; London, United Kingdom; Marc Diakiese (red gloves) defeats Teemu Packalen (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at O2 Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Flynn-USA TODAY Sports Mar 18, 2017; London, United Kingdom; Marc Diakiese (red gloves) celebrates after knocking out Teemu Packalen during UFC Fight Night at O2 Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Flynn-USA TODAY Sports Mar 18, 2017; London, United Kingdom; Marc Diakiese (red gloves) defeats Teemu Packalen (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at O2 Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Flynn-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/8ZB25vZMggp4EvtocYw9yB/293012", customAnalytics: true, title: "Marc Diakiese", feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == "undefined") ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();
Filed under: Featured, News, UFC

Strawweight contenders Jessica Andrade, Tecia Torres meet at UFC on FOX 28

A key strawweight bout between Jessica Andrade and Tecia Torres is the latest addition to February’s UFC on FOX 28 lineup.

UFC officials today announced the bout between Andrade (17-6 MMA, 8-4 UFC) and Torres (10-1 MMA, 6-1 UFC) via Orlando Sentinel.

UFC on FOX 28 takes place Feb. 24 at Amway Center in Orlando. The event airs on FOX following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass, though the bout order hasn’t been finalized.

Andrade, No. 3 in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA strawweight rankings, previously was reportedly set to fight Karolina Kowalkiewicz at the event. UFC officials called that information erroneous, and she now is confirmed for a different matchup. The former 115-pound title challenger is coming off a thrilling unanimous decision win over Claudia Gadelha at UFC Fight Night 117 in September, helping her rebound from a title-fight loss to then-champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk at UFC 211 in May.

No. 5-ranked Torres is riding a three-fight winning streak, which is among the longest in the weight class. She beat Bec Rawlings, Juliana Lima and most recently Michelle Waterson at UFC 218 this month, during her run.

The latest UFC on FOX 28 card now includes:

  • Jessica Andrade vs. Tecia Torres
  • Jake Collier vs. Marcin Prachnio
  • Olivier Aubin-Mercier vs. Gilbert Burns
  • Alan Jouban vs. Ben Saunders
  • Gadzhimurad Antigulov vs. Aleksandar Rakic

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

Sep 22, 2017; Saitama, Japan; Jessica Andrade (blue gloves) defeats Claudia Gadelha (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Saitama Super Arena. Mandatory Credit: Susumu Nagao-USA TODAY Sports Sep 22, 2017; Saitama, Japan; Jessica Andrade (blue gloves) before her fight against Claudia Gadelha (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Saitama Super Arena. Mandatory Credit: Susumu Nagao-USA TODAY Sports Sep 22, 2017; Saitama, Japan; Jessica Andrade (blue gloves) before her fight against Claudia Gadelha (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Saitama Super Arena. Mandatory Credit: Susumu Nagao-USA TODAY Sports Sep 22, 2017; Saitama, Japan; Claudia Gadelha (red gloves) before her fight against Jessica Andrade during UFC Fight Night at Saitama Super Arena. Mandatory Credit: Susumu Nagao-USA TODAY Sports Sep 22, 2017; Saitama, Japan; Jessica Andrade (blue gloves) fights Claudia Gadelha (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Saitama Super Arena. Mandatory Credit: Susumu Nagao-USA TODAY Sports Sep 22, 2017; Saitama, Japan; Jessica Andrade (blue gloves) fights Claudia Gadelha (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Saitama Super Arena. Mandatory Credit: Susumu Nagao-USA TODAY Sports Sep 22, 2017; Saitama, Japan; Jessica Andrade (blue gloves) fights Claudia Gadelha (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Saitama Super Arena. Mandatory Credit: Susumu Nagao-USA TODAY Sports Sep 22, 2017; Saitama, Japan; Jessica Andrade (blue gloves) fights Claudia Gadelha (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Saitama Super Arena. Mandatory Credit: Susumu Nagao-USA TODAY Sports Sep 22, 2017; Saitama, Japan; Jessica Andrade (blue gloves) fights Claudia Gadelha (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Saitama Super Arena. Mandatory Credit: Susumu Nagao-USA TODAY Sports Sep 22, 2017; Saitama, Japan; Jessica Andrade (blue gloves) fights Claudia Gadelha (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Saitama Super Arena. Mandatory Credit: Susumu Nagao-USA TODAY Sports Sep 22, 2017; Saitama, Japan; Jessica Andrade (blue gloves) fights Claudia Gadelha (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Saitama Super Arena. Mandatory Credit: Susumu Nagao-USA TODAY Sports Sep 22, 2017; Saitama, Japan; Jessica Andrade (blue gloves) fights Claudia Gadelha (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Saitama Super Arena. Mandatory Credit: Susumu Nagao-USA TODAY Sports Sep 22, 2017; Saitama, Japan; Jessica Andrade (blue gloves) fights Claudia Gadelha (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Saitama Super Arena. Mandatory Credit: Susumu Nagao-USA TODAY Sports Sep 22, 2017; Saitama, Japan; Jessica Andrade (blue gloves) fights Claudia Gadelha (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Saitama Super Arena. Mandatory Credit: Susumu Nagao-USA TODAY Sports Sep 22, 2017; Saitama, Japan; Jessica Andrade (blue gloves) fights Claudia Gadelha (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Saitama Super Arena. Mandatory Credit: Susumu Nagao-USA TODAY Sports Sep 22, 2017; Saitama, Japan; Jessica Andrade (blue gloves) fights Claudia Gadelha (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Saitama Super Arena. Mandatory Credit: Susumu Nagao-USA TODAY Sports Sep 22, 2017; Saitama, Japan; Jessica Andrade (blue gloves) fights Claudia Gadelha (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Saitama Super Arena. Mandatory Credit: Susumu Nagao-USA TODAY Sports Sep 22, 2017; Saitama, Japan; Jessica Andrade (blue gloves) fights Claudia Gadelha (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Saitama Super Arena. Mandatory Credit: Susumu Nagao-USA TODAY Sports Sep 22, 2017; Saitama, Japan; Jessica Andrade (blue gloves) fights Claudia Gadelha (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Saitama Super Arena. Mandatory Credit: Susumu Nagao-USA TODAY Sports Sep 22, 2017; Saitama, Japan; Jessica Andrade (blue gloves) fights Claudia Gadelha (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Saitama Super Arena. Mandatory Credit: Susumu Nagao-USA TODAY Sports Sep 22, 2017; Saitama, Japan; Jessica Andrade (blue gloves) fights Claudia Gadelha (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Saitama Super Arena. Mandatory Credit: Susumu Nagao-USA TODAY Sports Sep 22, 2017; Saitama, Japan; Jessica Andrade (blue gloves) fights Claudia Gadelha (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Saitama Super Arena. Mandatory Credit: Susumu Nagao-USA TODAY Sports Sep 22, 2017; Saitama, Japan; Jessica Andrade (blue gloves) fights Claudia Gadelha (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Saitama Super Arena. Mandatory Credit: Susumu Nagao-USA TODAY Sports Sep 22, 2017; Saitama, Japan; Jessica Andrade (blue gloves) fights Claudia Gadelha (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Saitama Super Arena. Mandatory Credit: Susumu Nagao-USA TODAY Sports Sep 22, 2017; Saitama, Japan; Jessica Andrade (blue gloves) defeats Claudia Gadelha (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Saitama Super Arena. Mandatory Credit: Susumu Nagao-USA TODAY Sports Sep 22, 2017; Saitama, Japan; Jessica Andrade (blue gloves) defeats Claudia Gadelha (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Saitama Super Arena. Mandatory Credit: Susumu Nagao-USA TODAY Sports Sep 22, 2017; Saitama, Japan; Jessica Andrade (blue gloves) defeats Claudia Gadelha (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Saitama Super Arena. Mandatory Credit: Susumu Nagao-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/ANkB3WeyZqmgrpdYLPbtCJ/293007", customAnalytics: true, title: "Andrade def. Gadelha", feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == "undefined") ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();
Filed under: News, UFC

As 2017 comes to a close, we look back on the UFC champions left behind

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Filed under: Featured, News, UFC

Over the course of yet another busy year in the octagon, we saw a handful of happy women and men claim their crowns – usually at the expense of other certainly less happy ones. As we get ready to bid 2017 farewell, we take a look at those who lost their titles and what it meant in the bigger picture of their respective divisions.

* * * *

Jon Jones, yet again

Jon Jones is such an omnipresent name in MMA that, for a few moments, he was able to upstage another inescapable presence at a time when it seemed impossible.

In July, Jones returned from a one-year suspension directly into a title match in UFC 214’s headliner. Unlike his first meeting with Daniel Cormier, which Jones won via unanimous decision, this one didn’t go the distance. After a nasty third-round head kick, Jones re-claimed the throne that he’d never really stopped haunting.

Could it be that, finally, the see-saw that had been Jones’ career was going to stay up this time?

*Somber off-screen narrator voice* Oh, but the see-saw that had been Jones’ career was not going to stay up this time.

On Aug. 22, just a few days before Conor McGregor was scheduled to meet Floyd Mayweather in a boxing bout we just couldn’t seem to get away from, Jones’ name was once more the one making headlines. And, once more, it wasn’t for a good reason.

Jon Jones

News broke that Jones (21-1-1 MMA, 15-1-1 UFC) had failed a drug test again, this time, for the steroid turinabol.

Maybe it was the fact this was a second offense in such a tight timeframe. Maybe it was the fact that outside-the-cage contraventions had already cost him the title before. But truth is people weren’t too willing to extend Jones the benefit of the doubt here. Public opinion weighed heavy. Once the B sample came back positive, the belt was swiftly returned to Cormier.

While he’s affirmed his innocence, the 30-year-old Jones could be looking at a four-year layoff once due process occurs.

Considering what we’ve seen from him so far, rebound specialist Jones may very well end up adding a positive twist to the bittersweet story of one of our generation’s most talented fighters. But, as we prepare to close out 2017, the former champion stands as one of MMA’s most tragic tales of “what if.”

* * * *

Joanna Jedrzejczyk, shockingly

If in a weird, twisted way we’d sort of learned to rely on Jones’ unreliability, the opposite could be said for dominant strawweight force Joanna Jedrzejczyk.

Jedrzejczyk seemed to do everything right. She did dieting right. She did training right. She did career management right. And, of course, she did fighting right. As grueling as her cuts seemed, she always made weight. And, apart from a dubious split call over Claudia Gadelha early in her UFC run, Jedrzejczyk had not only beaten every competitor she’d met in the octagon, she’d made it look easy.

So, when Rose Namajunas (7-3 MMA, 5-2 UFC) showed up as a challenger, people weren’t exactly crazy to see Jedrzejczyk (14-1 MMA, 8-1 UFC) as a huge favorite. That wasn’t a diss to the ever-evolving Namajunas’ skill set as much as it was a testament to how scary the battle-tested Jedrzejczyk had proven to be.

Of the few who did pick Namajunas to win at UFC 217, fewer figured that “Thug” Rose, who had never stopped an opponent in the octagon via strikes before, was going to start with the laser-sharp striker.

But doing what’s expected of her doesn’t really seem to be Namajunas’ thing.

After leading the upset of the year, Namajunas made sure to use her time in the spotlight positively, before resuming what seems to be a pretty chill life. Jedrzejczyk, in turn, has remained in good spirits and, after pointing to weight-cutting issues that became somewhat apparent when she hit the scale, has vowed to re-claim the throne.

Given Jedrzejczyk’s aggressive attitude toward her opponent before their encounter, people were quick to pin this as a good vs. evil narrative. But, behind the easy storylines, sit two very different, but equally strong and hard-working women who may have found different ways to channel – and express – all the emotional energy that goes into those quite often life-changing 25 minutes.

* * * *

Germaine de Randamie, awkwardly

Yeah, so that was a pretty weird one.

* * * *

Michael Bisping, for better or worse

Michael Bisping’s volatile relationship with the rest of the MMA community seems to have found a perfect representation in his controversial middleweight reign.

Bisping’s aggressive fight-promotion tactics, propelled by a unique, biting sense of humor, turned him into a polarizing presence among the UFC’s 185-pound roster. Haters, they say, are going to hate – but even they had a tough time taking away from what Bisping did to take the belt from heavy favorite Luke Rockhold, and on short-notice, via first-round knockout, no less.

The general sense of vindication after a career of close calls, however, soon gave way to frustration. While some did defend Bisping’s right to enjoy the hard-earned laurels of a career that involved a hefty amount of damage, most weren’t too pleased with the then-champ’s octagon pairings – starting with the now-retired Dan Henderson, especially with perfectly suitable killers like Yoel Romero and Ronaldo Souza impatiently (and vocally) waiting on the sidelines.

But Bisping didn’t budge. After false alarms and an injury-recovery period, he got the profitable super fight that he wanted in former welterweight kingpin Georges St-Pierre. Again, while one could understand why “The Count” would want to make the twilight of his career a lucrative one, the matchup was far from an unanimous hit.

Of course there was some excitement around the return of one of the sport’s biggest legends after more than three years. But it also came with one major doubt: What would a win for either men mean for the future of middleweight division?

That question has already been answered. In a non-surprising twist, two-division champ St-Pierre* vacated the belt he earned with a third-round submission win. Previous interim champion Robert Whittaker is now set meet  ex-champ Rockhold in a title bout. Order in the 185-pound division appears to have been restored.

Still, there was little satisfaction in seeing Bisping make a questionably quick turnaround only to get knocked out by a fresh Kelvin Gastelum. It seems that, in this love-hate relationship, there will always be some respect for the relentless, resilient Count.

*It’s worth noting that, technically, St-Pierre also counts as one of 2017’s fallen UFC champions.

* * * *

Jose Aldo, with all due respect

As far as narrative arcs go, it’s hard to think of one as fitting as the one of the UFC’s featherweight division.

For years, Jose Aldo reigned as the self-made man who beat the odds in order to make it. When he wasn’t fighting or training, Aldo was either at home playing video games with his family or at the beach tossing a soccer ball around. Aldo never particularly enjoyed doing media and mostly kept to himself.

To have his reign end in a mere 13 seconds by the flashy, big-talking Irishman who’d been anything but quiet since he took MMA by storm would have been such a cliché.

But Aldo got a second chance. Like most things, it wasn’t just handed to him: first, he had to claim the interim title in a rematch with a fellow former champion in Frankie Edgar. Then, whether the 145-pound belt was given up or taken away, fact is that it no longer belonged to freshly-crowned lightweight champion Conor McGregor. Aldo was once again the king.

In comes Max Holloway – an initially quiet presence whose voice grew louder as the wins inside the octagon kept piling up. By the time he’d earned the interim title, with a statement win over ex-champ Anthony Pettis, the Hawaiian carried a 10-fight streak.

Jose Aldo and Max Holloway

Holloway’s (19-3 MMA, 15-3 UFC) first win over Aldo (26-4 MMA, 9-3 UFC), at UFC 212, was preceded and followed by a measure of respect. And, when Edgar couldn’t make it to UFC 218, Holloway gave Aldo yet another proof of courtesy in form of an immediate rematch.

Not much changed from one fight to the other: again, Holloway seemed mostly unfazed by the best Aldo had to offer. Again, he got a third-round knockout. And again, rather than in-your-face claims, the champ made sure to praise Aldo’s accomplishments.

If Aldo was first violently evicted from the throne by McGregor, Holloway made sure he was smoothly escorted out. Either way works for the victor, and neither are pain-free for the loser, but there’s an almost romantic feel to the latter.

While Aldo remains in the game, the passing-of-the-torch will not yet be entirely complete. But as it stands, if you absolutely must be dethroned by someone, you can do worse than Holloway.

* * * *

Cody Garbrandt, with bad blood spilled

Sometimes, a good ol’ smashing of each other’s faces inside a fenced environment is enough to settle a dispute between two men.

But sometimes, as ex-champ Cody Garbrandt and champion T.J. Dillashaw have shown, it isn’t.

It’s one thing when two fighters take aim at each other to hype up a fight. With these former Team Alpha Male stablemates, however, there was both history and one seriously long lead-up.

From their later-scrapped original booking to the time they actually met in the octagon – with tapings for an entire “The Ultimate Fighter” season in between –, there was enough time there for steroid accusations, physical altercations and an infamously leaked bit of sparring footage.

The winner of the pre-fight back-and-forth is a matter of personal taste, really. But their contractual in-cage encounter had a clear victor: after a thrilling first round, Dillashaw (15-3 MMA, 11-3 UFC) came back from a somewhat dire situation to dispatch Garbrandt (11-1 MMA, 6-1 UFC) in the second.

After methodically dismantling then-champion Dominick Cruz to earn the title, “No Love” failed to defend it.

Although Garbrandt was classy enough to address the media and even congratulate Dillashaw for his efforts afterward, he made it clear that a) he was still the better fighter; b) he wanted a rematch; c) he still thinks Dillashaw is “a piece of (expletive) teammate.”

For now, the former and the current bantamweight champions have bigger things in mind, as both of their significant others are pregnant. And Dillashaw has already made it quite clear that, upon return, he’d like to have a stab at flyweight kingping Demetrious Johnson. Not to mention, contenders like Jimmie Rivera who are still waiting in line.

But, judging by what we saw from the two in and outside the cage, a solid foundation for a rematch has certainly been laid out.

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

Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) celebrates with family after fight against Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Jose Aldo (blue gloves) enters the arena before the fight during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) before the fight against Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) fights Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) fights Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) wife watches the fight against Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) fights Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) fights Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) fights Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) fights Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) fights Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) fights Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) fights Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) fights Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) fights Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) fights Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) fights Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) fights Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) fights Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) fights Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) fights Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) fights Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) fights Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) fights Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) fights Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) fights Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) fights Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) fights Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) fights Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) fights Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) fights Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) fights Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) fights Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) fights Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) celebrates with family after fight against Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Max Holloway (red gloves) celebrates with family after fight against Jose Aldo (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports jQuery.extend( window._usmgOptions,{ scriptUrl: "https://s2.wp.com/wp-content/themes/vip/usatoday-plugins/api-galleries/assets", analyticsCallback: "galleryAnalytics", fullscreenUrl: "http://mmajunkie.com/sigallery/zafjwopo8yyQsrsuvMkt48/292788", customAnalytics: true, title: "Holloway def. Aldo", feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == "undefined") ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();
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