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Opening odds: TBA has better odds to win Bellator tourney than 'King Mo,' Sonnen, 'Rampage'

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Filed under: Bellator, Featured, News

Welcome to the wild world of multi-event MMA tournaments, where chaos often reigns supreme.

Take for instance the Bellator MMA World Grand Prix 2018, where eight fighters – heavyweights and light heavyweights – will fight for the organization’s vacant heavyweight title. The veteran-heavy field (the youngest participant is a not-so-young 34, after all) features many familiar names, and the odds are now out for who will claim the tournament championship.

And here’s an interesting tidbit: “The field” – or, a fighter not currently in the group of eight – has better odds to win the tournament than three of the announced participants.

RelatedWho wins Bellator heavyweight grand prix? A primer on the good, the old and the weird

Veteran MMA oddsmaker Joey Oddessa recently posted the lines for the full tournament field, which includes four heavyweights: former PRIDE champion Fedor Emelianenko (36-5 MMA, 0-1 BMMA), two-time former UFC titleholder Frank Mir (18-11 MMA, 0-0 BMMA), Matt Mitrione (12-5 MMA, 3-0 BMMA) and Roy Nelson (23-14 MMA, 1-0 BMMA). Additionally, at light heavyweight, we have current Bellator 205-pound champ Ryan Bader (24-5 MMA, 2-0 BMMA), former UFC titleholder Quinton Jackson (37-12 MMA, 4-1 BMMA), ex-Strikeforce champ Muhammed Lawal (21-6 MMA, 10-4 BMMA) and multi-time UFC title challenger Chael Sonnen (29-15-1 MMA, 1-1 BMMA).

Here are the odds via Oddessa, listed from best to worst (via Twitter):

  1. Mitrione +200
  2. Bader +260
  3. Mir +380
  4. Nelson +500
  5. Emelianenko +500
  6. Field (any other fighter) +1000
  7. Sonnen +1200
  8. Lawal +1200
  9. Jackson +1500

At those odds, a winning $100 bet on Mitrione would result in a net profit of $200; a winning $100 bet on “Rampage” Jackson would net $1,500. And if you bet the field and none of the eight listed fighters wins the tourney, the payoff would be $1,000.

The odds are close to mirroring a poll we ran earlier this week in which we asked MMAjunkie readers to predict the eventual tourney winner:

The opening-round matchups and event dates haven’t been formally announced, but they could have an impact on the odds once they’re set. For now, though, the big men – with the exception of Bader, who has the second-best odds – are the frontrunners to win the grand prix.

Should “TBA” pull off the tournament victory, it wouldn’t be the first time Bellator President Scott Coker has seen a replacement claim a grand-prix title. When Coker was at the helm of now-defunct Strikeforce organization, current UFC light-heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier won the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix in 2012.

For more on the upcoming Bellator schedule, visit the MMA Rumors section of the site.


Filed under: Bellator, Featured, News

Michael Chandler vs. Goiti Yamauchi slated for Bellator 192

Jun 24, 2017; New York, NY, USA; Brent Primus (blue gloves) reacts to fight against Michael Chandler (red gloves) during Bellator NYC at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports Jun 24, 2017; New York, NY, USA; Michael Chandler (red gloves) fights Brent Primus (blue gloves) during Bellator NYC at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports Jun 24, 2017; New York, NY, USA; Michael Chandler (red gloves) fights Brent Primus (blue gloves) during Bellator NYC at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports Jun 24, 2017; New York, NY, USA; Michael Chandler (red gloves) fights Brent Primus (blue gloves) during Bellator NYC at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports Jun 24, 2017; New York, NY, USA; Michael Chandler (red gloves) fights Brent Primus (blue gloves) during Bellator NYC at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports Jun 24, 2017; New York, NY, USA; Michael Chandler (red gloves) ankle looked at buy doctor during fight against Brent Primus (blue gloves) during Bellator NYC at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports Jun 24, 2017; New York, NY, USA; Michael Chandler (red gloves) ankle durning the fight against Brent Primus (blue gloves) during Bellator NYC at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports Jun 24, 2017; New York, NY, USA; Michael Chandler (red gloves) fights Brent Primus (blue gloves) during Bellator NYC at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports jQuery.extend( window._usmgOptions,{ scriptUrl: "https://s2.wp.com/wp-content/themes/vip/usatoday-plugins/api-galleries/assets", analyticsCallback: "galleryAnalytics", fullscreenUrl: "http://mmajunkie.com/sigallery/AL7ThTk8Mg3iohryXbwYNG/285268", customAnalytics: true, title: "Primus def. Chandler", feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == "undefined") ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();

Former lightweight champion Michael Chandler isn’t getting an immediate title rematch.

Instead, Chandler (16-4 MMA, 13-4 BMMA), who lost his title after suffering a lower-leg injury in a June loss to Brent Primus, is slated to fight Goiti Yamauchi (22-3 MMA, 8-2 BMMA) at Bellator 192.

Chandler announced the fight via Instagram following an initial report from MMAFighting.com:

Bellator 192 takes place Jan. 20 at The Forum in Inglewood, Calif. The main card airs on Spike following prelims on MMAjunkie, though the full fight card and bout order haven’t been finalized.

Before the title loss – which proved to be a major debacle – Chandler, who’s an honorable mention in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA lightweight rankings, halted a three-fight skid with four straight victories. During that run, the 31-year-old, who earned NCAA Division I All-American wrestling honors at the University of Missouri, defeated the likes of former UFC champ Benson Henderson and vet Patricky Freire.

RelatedBellator NYC highlights: Look what happened to Michael Chandler's ankle against Brent Primus

He now meets Yamauchi, a 24-year-old Japanese-born Brazilian submission specialist who’s riding a three-fight winning streak with six victories in his past seven fights. Most recently, he scored a submission victory over Adam Piccolotti in September. His past five wins have all come via submission.

The latest Bellator 192 card now includes:

  • Champ Douglas Lima vs. Rory MacDonald – for welterweight title
  • Michael Chandler vs. Goiti Yamauchi

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


Filed under: Bellator, News

Stream or download MMAjunkie Radio #2568 with Aljamain Sterling, Matt Mitrione, Fowlkes, Martin

Stream or download Friday’s episode of MMAjunkie Radio with guests Aljamain Sterling, Matt Mitrione, Ben Fowlkes and Damon Martin.

Sterling recently lost Rani Yahya as an opponent at UFC Fight Night 123 in Fresno, Calif., on Dec. 9. He talked about what he wants next in the wake of that news. Mitrione talked about his upcoming spot in Bellator’s heavyweight grand prix, which will take place over the course of 2018 and crown a new champion.

MMAjunkie’s Fowlkes called in to discuss some of the latest MMA news, including his thoughts on the Fabricio Werdum-Colby Covington incident and Conor McGregor’s apology. Veteran MMA journalist Martin shared some insight into a possible Tyron Woodley-Nate Diaz booking, as well as what’s next for the UFC in 2018.

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


Filed under: Bellator, News, Radio, UFC

Lineup set for UFC's debut in Shanghai with a dozen bouts on UFC Fight Pass

Nov 4, 2017; New York, NY, USA; Georges St-Pierre (blue gloves) fights Michael Bisping (red gloves) during UFC 217 at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports Nov 4, 2017; New York, NY, USA; Georges St-Pierre (blue gloves) fights Michael Bisping (red gloves) during UFC 217 at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports Nov 4, 2017; New York, NY, USA; Georges St-Pierre (blue gloves) fights Michael Bisping (red gloves) during UFC 217 at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports Nov 4, 2017; New York, NY, USA; Georges St-Pierre (blue gloves) fights Michael Bisping (red gloves) during UFC 217 at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports Nov 4, 2017; New York, NY, USA; Georges St-Pierre (blue gloves) fights Michael Bisping (red gloves) during UFC 217 at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports Nov 4, 2017; New York, NY, USA; Georges St-Pierre (blue gloves) fights Michael Bisping (red gloves) during UFC 217 at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports Nov 4, 2017; New York, NY, USA; Georges St-Pierre (blue gloves) fights Michael Bisping (red gloves) during UFC 217 at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports Nov 4, 2017; New York, NY, USA; Georges St-Pierre (blue gloves) fights Michael Bisping (red gloves) during UFC 217 at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports Nov 4, 2017; New York, NY, USA; Georges St-Pierre (blue gloves) fights Michael Bisping (red gloves) during UFC 217 at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports Nov 4, 2017; New York, NY, USA; Georges St-Pierre (blue gloves) fights Michael Bisping (red gloves) during UFC 217 at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports Nov 4, 2017; New York, NY, USA; Georges St-Pierre (blue gloves) fights Michael Bisping (red gloves) during UFC 217 at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports Nov 4, 2017; New York, NY, USA; Georges St-Pierre (blue gloves) fights Michael Bisping (red gloves) during UFC 217 at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports Nov 4, 2017; New York, NY, USA; Georges St-Pierre (blue gloves) fights Michael Bisping (red gloves) during UFC 217 at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports Nov 4, 2017; New York, NY, USA; Georges St-Pierre (blue gloves) defeats Michael Bisping (red gloves) during UFC 217 at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports Nov 4, 2017; New York, NY, USA; Georges St-Pierre (blue gloves) defeats Michael Bisping (red gloves) during UFC 217 at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports Nov 4, 2017; New York, NY, USA; Georges St-Pierre (blue gloves) defeats Michael Bisping (red gloves) during UFC 217 at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports Nov 4, 2017; New York, NY, USA; Michael Bisping (red gloves) reacts after losing to Georges St-Pierre (not pictured) during UFC 217 at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports Nov 4, 2017; New York, NY, USA; Georges St-Pierre (blue gloves) greets Michael Bisping (red gloves) after their fight in UFC 217 at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports Nov 4, 2017; New York, NY, USA; Georges St-Pierre (blue gloves) greets Michael Bisping (red gloves) after their fight in UFC 217 at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports Nov 4, 2017; New York, NY, USA; Georges St-Pierre (blue gloves) greets Michael Bisping (red gloves) after their fight in UFC 217 at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-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/t2pBbXqn6WUG8Z2WigLLpQ/285156", customAnalytics: true, title: "St-Pierre def. Bisping", feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == "undefined") ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();

The UFC heads to mainland China for the first time next week, and the lineup is set for the card.

UFC Fight Night 122 takes place next Saturday, Nov. 25, at Mercedes-Benz Arena in Shanghai. The entire card streams on UFC Fight Pass.

In the main event, former middleweight champion Michael Bisping (30-8 MMA, 20-8 UFC) will make a 21-day turnaround from his UFC 217 title loss to Georges St-Pierre after agreeing to fight Kelvin Gastelum (13-3 MMA, 8-3 UFC) on short notice.

UFC Fight Night 122 lost its original main event last week when former UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva (34-8 MMA, 17-4 UFC) was flagged with a potential U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) violation.

In the co-main event, welterweights Li Jingliang (13-4 MMA, 5-2 UFC) vs. Zak Ottow (15-4 MMA, 2-1 UFC) will hook up. Also on the main card, Alex Caceres (13-10 MMA, 8-8 UFC) takes on Wang Guan (16-1-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC) at featherweight. And to open the main card, Alex Garcia (14-4 MMA, 4-3 UFC) takes on Muslim Salikhov (12-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC) at welterweight.

The full UFC Fight Night 122 card now includes:

MAIN CARD (UFC Fight Pass, 7 a.m. ET)

  • Michael Bisping vs. Kelvin Gastelum
  • Li Jingliang vs. Zak Ottow
  • Alex Caceres vs. Wang Guan
  • Alex Garcia vs. Muslim Salikhov

PRELIMINARY CARD (UFC Fight Pass, 3:45 a.m. ET)

For more on UFC Fight Night 122, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

 


Filed under: News, UFC

Bellator 188 highlights: John Salter is really on a roll

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Filed under: Bellator, News, Videos

John Salter’s career resurgence continued at Friday’s Bellator 188 event.

Salter (15-3 MMA, 5-0 BMMA) picked up his seventh straight stoppage victory – and his fifth conservative Bellator win – after tapping out Jason Radcliffe (12-5, 1-1 BMMA) with a first-round rear-naked choke.

Salter, who set the Bellator-middleweight submission record with four, is now 10-1 with 10 stoppages since a 1-2 stint with the UFC in 2010.

RelatedBellator 188 results: Noad Lahat grinds out clean-sweep win over Jeremiah Labiano

Bellator 188 took place Thursday at Menora Mivtachim Arena in Tel Aviv, it and aired Friday on Spike via one-day delay.

Also on the card, Israeli featherweight Noad Lahat (12-3 MMA, 3-1 BMMA) topped Jeremiah Labiano (11-5 MMA, 2-1 BMMA) via points in the headliner, welterweight Haim Gozali (8-4 MMA, 2-1 BMMA) put Arsen Faitovich (4-2 MMA, 0-1 BMMA) to sleep with a triangle choke in the co-headliner, and flyweight Denise Kielholtz (1-1) submitted Jessica Middleton (2-3) with a scarf hold armlock.

Check out all of the highlights above.

For complete coverage of Bellator 188, including a full event recap, check out the MMA events section of the site.


Filed under: Bellator, News, Videos

CES MMA 47 highlights: 6 main-card fights, 6 stoppages, 6 in 1st round

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Filed under: AXS TV Fights, News, Videos

If you like to keep the judges out of your MMA viewing, Friday’s CES MMA 47 event was the show for you.

The event, which aired on AXS TV from Twin River Casino in Lincoln, R.I., featured six main-card bouts. Six ended via stoppage – all in the first round.

For real.

In fact, the entire main card featured just 16 total minutes of fighting.

In the headliner, Greg Rebello (23-8) needed just 82 seconds to stop fellow heavyweight Derrick Brown (7-5) via TKO with punches. It marked his 11th victory under the CES MMA banner, where the 35-year-old Rhode Island native almost exclusively since 2012. After the win, which came via stiff combo, he called for a shot in the UFC.

In the co-main event, Nate Andrews (12-1) picked up his sixth straight victory and fifth consecutive submission win with a first-round rear-naked choke of Tyler Combs (15-17-1) in a 160-pound catchweight affair.

Check out all of the highlights above.

The full CES MMA 47 results included:

For more on CES MMA 47, check out the MMA Events section of the site.


Filed under: AXS TV Fights, News, Videos

James Mulheron pulled from UFC-Shanghai opener due to potential USADA violation

Jul 16, 2017; Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom; Justin Willis (blue gloves) reacts after defeating James Mulheron (left) during UFC Fight Night at SSE Hydro. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Jul 16, 2017; Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom; James Mulheron (red gloves) fights Justin Willis (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at SSE Hydro. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Jul 16, 2017; Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom; James Mulheron (red gloves) fights Justin Willis (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at SSE Hydro. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Jul 16, 2017; Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom; James Mulheron (red gloves) fights Justin Willis (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at SSE Hydro. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Jul 16, 2017; Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom; James Mulheron (red gloves) fights Justin Willis (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at SSE Hydro. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Jul 16, 2017; Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom; James Mulheron (red gloves) fights Justin Willis (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at SSE Hydro. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Jul 16, 2017; Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom; James Mulheron (red gloves) fights Justin Willis (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at SSE Hydro. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Jul 16, 2017; Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom; James Mulheron (red gloves) fights Justin Willis (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at SSE Hydro. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Jul 16, 2017; Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom; James Mulheron (red gloves) fights Justin Willis (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at SSE Hydro. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Jul 16, 2017; Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom; James Mulheron (red gloves) fights Justin Willis (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at SSE Hydro. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Jul 16, 2017; Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom; James Mulheron (red gloves) fights Justin Willis (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at SSE Hydro. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Jul 16, 2017; Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom; James Mulheron (red gloves) fights Justin Willis (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at SSE Hydro. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Jul 16, 2017; Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom; James Mulheron (red gloves) fights Justin Willis (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at SSE Hydro. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Jul 16, 2017; Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom; James Mulheron (red gloves) fights Justin Willis (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at SSE Hydro. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Jul 16, 2017; Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom; James Mulheron (red gloves) fights Justin Willis (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at SSE Hydro. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Jul 16, 2017; Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom; James Mulheron (red gloves) fights Justin Willis (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at SSE Hydro. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Jul 16, 2017; Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom; James Mulheron (red gloves) fights Justin Willis (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at SSE Hydro. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Jul 16, 2017; Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom; James Mulheron (red gloves) fights Justin Willis (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at SSE Hydro. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Jul 16, 2017; Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom; James Mulheron (red gloves) fights Justin Willis (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at SSE Hydro. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Jul 16, 2017; Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom; Justin Willis (blue gloves) reacts after defeating James Mulheron (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/bcw2gWk39FmHvD3snpHraK/285250", customAnalytics: true, title: "Willis def. Mulheron", feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == "undefined") ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();

James Mulheron has failed a U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) drug test and has been notified of a potential UFC anti-doping policy violation.

Mulheron (11-2 MMA, 0-1 UFC) also has been pulled from next week’s UFC Fight Night 122 event, where he was slated to open the card in a bout against fellow heavyweight Cyril Asker (8-3 MMA, 1-2 UFC).

Officials announced the news on Friday.

UFC Fight Night 122 takes place Nov. 25 at Mercedes-Benz Arena in Shanghai, and the entire card streams on UFC Fight Pass. A replacement search is underway so Asker can remain on the card, according to the announcement.

Mulheron, a 29-year-old Englishman who suffered a decision loss to Justin Willis in his July promotional debut, failed a test that was the result of an out-of-competition sample collected on Nov. 10.

From USADA:

“USADA, the independent administrator of the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, will handle the results management and appropriate adjudication of this case involving Mulheron. Under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, there is a full and fair legal process that is afforded to all athletes before any sanctions are imposed. Additional information will be provided at the appropriate time as the process moves forward.”

Mulheron’s social-media accounts have been quiet since the announcement of his UFC-Shanghai fight cancellation.

For more on UFC Fight Night 122, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.


Filed under: News, UFC

How to watch UFC Fight Night 121: Fight card, start time, online results, how to stream Werdum-Tybura

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Filed under: Featured, News, UFC

The UFC heads to Australia once again with today’s UFC Fight Night 121 event. Here’s how to watch.

UFC Fight Night 121 takes place at Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney. The card airs on FS1 following early prelims on UFC Fight Pass, the UFC’s digital streaming network. You may also be able to stream part of the event on the FOX Sports GO app.

The early prelims kick off at 6:30 p.m. ET. The FS1 prelims commence at 8 p.m. ET, and the six-fight main card starts at 10 p.m. ET.

RelatedUFC Fight Night 121 play-by-play and live results (6:30 p.m. ET)

For all the ways to watch the event, check out this UFC.com list.

In the headliner, former heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum (22-7-1 MMA, 10-4 UFC) takes on Marcin Tybura (16-2 MMA, 3-1 UFC). Werdum stepped in for Mark Hunt, who was not medically cleared to fight and pulled. In the co-headliner, a pair of Aussies hook up when Jessica-Rose Clark (7-4 MMA, 0-0 UFC) meets Bec Rawlings (7-6 MMA, 2-3 UFC) in a women’s flyweight bout.

The full UFC Fight Night 121 fight card is available below. You can also join us for on-site live round-by-round UFC Fight Night 121 coverage on the MMAjunkie homepage.

UFC Fight Night 121 main card (FS1, 10 p.m. ET)
  • Fabricio Werdum vs. Marcin Tybura
  • Jessica-Rose Clark vs. Bec Rawlings
  • Tim Means vs. Belal Muhammad
  • Jake Matthews vs. Bojan Velickovic
  • Daniel Kelly vs. Elias Theodorou
  • Alex Volkanovski vs. Shane Young
UFC Fight Night 121 preliminary card (FS1, 8 p.m. ET)
  • Ryan Benoit vs. Ashkan Mokhtarian
  • Will Brooks vs. Nik Lentz
  • Anthony Hamilton vs. Adam Wieczorek
  • Damien Brown vs. Frank Camacho
UFC Fight Night 119 preliminary card (UFC Fight Pass, 6:30 p.m. ET)
  • Alex Chambers vs. Nadia Kassem
  • Jenel Lausa vs. Eric Shelton
  • Rashad Coulter vs. Tai Tuivasa

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

Oct 7, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Fabricio Werdum (red gloves) reacts after defeating Walt Harris (blue gloves) during the first round during UFC 216 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports Oct 7, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Fabricio Werdum (red gloves) fights Walt Harris (blue gloves) during the first round during UFC 216 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports Oct 7, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Fabricio Werdum (red gloves) competes against Walt Harris (blue gloves) during the first round during UFC 216 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports Oct 7, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Fabricio Werdum (red gloves) reacts after defeating Walt Harris (blue gloves) during the first round during UFC 216 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports July 8, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Fabricio Werdum (red gloves) walks to the octagon to fight Alistair Overeem (not pictured) during UFC 213 at T-Mobile Arena. Overeem def. Werdum via majority decision (28-28, 29-28, 29-28). Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports July 8, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Fabricio Werdum (red gloves) fights Alistair Overeem (blue gloves) during UFC 213 at T-Mobile Arena. Overeem def. Werdum via majority decision (28-28, 29-28, 29-28). Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports July 8, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Fabricio Werdum (red gloves) fights Alistair Overeem (blue gloves) during UFC 213 at T-Mobile Arena. Overeem def. Werdum via majority decision (28-28, 29-28, 29-28). Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports July 8, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Fabricio Werdum (red gloves) fights Alistair Overeem (blue gloves) during UFC 213 at T-Mobile Arena. Overeem def. Werdum via majority decision (28-28, 29-28, 29-28). Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports Sep 10, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Fabricio Werdum (red gloves) competes against Travis Browne (blue gloves) during UFC 203 at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports Sep 10, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Fabricio Werdum (red gloves) competes against Travis Browne (blue gloves) during UFC 203 at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports Sep 10, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Fabricio Werdum (red gloves) competes against Travis Browne (blue gloves) during UFC 203 at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports Sep 10, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Fabricio Werdum (red gloves) competes against Travis Browne (blue gloves) during UFC 203 at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports Sep 10, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Fabricio Werdum (red gloves) competes against Travis Browne (blue gloves) during UFC 203 at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports Sep 10, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Fabricio Werdum (red gloves) is separated from Travis Browne (blue gloves) during UFC 203 at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports Sep 10, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Fabricio Werdum (red gloves) defeats Travis Browne (blue gloves) during UFC 203 at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports jQuery.extend( window._usmgOptions,{ scriptUrl: "https://s2.wp.com/wp-content/themes/vip/usatoday-plugins/api-galleries/assets", analyticsCallback: "galleryAnalytics", fullscreenUrl: "http://mmajunkie.com/sigallery/nGLZcDFY7c2f2BPH9oQDBd/285120", customAnalytics: true, title: "Fabricio Werdum", feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == "undefined") ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();
Filed under: Featured, News, UFC

UFC Fight Night 121 play-by-play and live results (6:30 p.m. ET)

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SYDNEY – MMAjunkie is on scene and reporting live from today’s UFC Fight Night 121 event, and you can join us for live play-by-play and official results beginning at 6:30 p.m. ET (3:30 p.m. PT).

The event takes place at Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney, and it airs on FS1 following early prelims on UFC Fight Pass. In the headliner, former heavyweight champ Fabricio Werdum meets Marcin Tybura.

Follow along with our round-by-round updates and official results beginning at approximately 6:30 p.m. ET for the UFC Fight Pass prelims, 8 p.m. ET for the FS1 prelims, and 10 p.m. ET for the pay-per-view main card.

To discuss the show, be sure to check out our UFC Fight Night 121 discussion thread. You can also get behind-the-scenes coverage and other event notes from on-site reporter John Morgan (@MMAjunkieJohn) on Twitter.

Enjoy the fights, everyone.

* * * *

 

Rashad Coulter vs. Tai Tuivasa

Round 1 –

Result:
Recap:
Photos:
Records: Rashad Coulter (8-2 MMA, 0-1 UFC), Tai Tuivasa (7-0 MMA, 0-0 UFC)
Division: Heavyweight
Rankings: None
Broadcast: UFC Fight Pass
Referee:
Judging:

Jenel Lausa vs. Eric Shelton

Round 1 –

Result:
Recap:
Photos:
Records: Jenel Lausa (7-3 MMA, 1-1 UFC), Eric Shelton (10-4 MMA, 0-2 UFC)
Division: Flyweight
Rankings: None
Broadcast: UFC Fight Pass
Referee:
Judging:

Alex Chambers vs. Nadia Kassem

Round 1 –

Result:
Recap:
Photos:
Records: Alex Chambers (5-3 MMA, 1-2 UFC), Nadia Kassem (4-0 MMA, 0-0 UFC)
Division: 120-pound catchweight (Kassem missed weight)
Rankings: None
Broadcast: UFC Fight Pass
Referee:
Judging:

Damien Brown vs. Frank Camacho

Round 1 –

Result:
Recap:
Photos:
Records: Damien Brown (17-10 MMA, 2-2 UFC), Frank Camacho (20-5 MMA, 0-1 UFC)
Division: 160-pound catchweight (Camacho missed weight)
Rankings: None
Broadcast: FS1
Referee:
Judging:

Anthony Hamilton vs. Adam Wieczorek

Round 1 –

Result:
Recap:
Photos:
Records: Anthony Hamilton (15-8 MMA, 3-6 UFC), Adam Wieczorek (8-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC)
Division: Heavyweight
Rankings: None
Broadcast: FS1
Referee:
Judging:

Nik Lentz vs. Will Brooks

Round 1 –

Result:
Recap:
Photos:
Records: Nik Lentz (27-8-2 MMA, 11-5-1 UFC), Will Brooks (18-3 MMA, 1-2 UFC)
Division: Lightweight
Rankings: None
Broadcast: FS1
Referee:
Judging:

Ryan Benoit vs. Ashkan Mokhtarian

Round 1 –

Result:
Recap:
Photos:
Records: Ryan Benoit (9-5 MMA, 2-3 UFC), Ashkan Mokhtarian (13-2 MMA, 0-1 UFC)
Division: 129-pound catchweight (Benoit missed weight)
Rankings: None
Broadcast: FS1
Referee:
Judging:

Alex Volkanovski vs. Shane Young

Round 1 –

Result:
Recap:
Photos:
Records: Alex Volkanovski (15-1 MMA, 2-0 UFC), Shane Young (11-3 MMA, 0-0 UFC)
Division: Featherweight
Rankings: None
Broadcast: FS1
Referee:
Judging:

Elias Theodorou vs. Daniel Kelly

Round 1 –

Result:
Recap:
Photos:
Records: Elias Theodorou (13-2 MMA, 5-2 UFC), Daniel Kelly (13-2 MMA, 6-2 UFC)
Division: Middleweight
Rankings: None
Broadcast: FS1
Referee:
Judging:

Jake Matthews vs. Bojan Velickovic

Round 1 –

Result:
Recap:
Photos:
Records: Jake Matthews (10-3 MMA, 4-3 UFC), Bojan Velickovic (15-5-1 MMA, 2-2-1 UFC)
Division: Welterweight
Rankings: None
Broadcast: FS1
Referee:
Judging:

Tim Means vs. Belal Muhammad

Round 1 –

Result:
Recap:
Photos:
Records: Tim Means (27-8-1 MMA, 9-5 UFC), Belal Muhammad (12-2 MMA, 3-2 UFC)
Division: Welterweight
Rankings: None
Broadcast: FS1
Referee:
Judging:

Bec Rawlings vs. Jessica-Rose Clark

Round 1 –

Result:
Recap:
Photos:
Records: Bec Rawlings (7-6 MMA, 2-3 UFC), Jessica-Rose Clark (7-4 MMA, 0-0 UFC)
Division: 128-pound catchweight (Clark missed weight)
Rankings: None
Broadcast: FS1
Referee:
Judging:

Fabricio Werdum vs. Marcin Tybura

Round 1 –

Result:
Recap:
Photos:
Records: Fabricio Werdum (22-7-1 MMA, 10-4 UFC), Marcin Tybura (16-2 MMA, 3-1 UFC)
Division: Heavyweight
Rankings: Werdum No. 3, Tybura honorable mention
Broadcast: FS1
Referee:
Judging:


Filed under: News, UFC

UFC Fight Night 121 discussion thread

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SYDNEY – MMAjunkie is on scene and reporting live from today UFC Fight Night 121 event at Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney, which kicks off at 6:30 p.m. ET (3:30 p.m. PT). You can discuss the event here.

Be sure to follow along with the latest card updates in our UFC Fight Night 121 live results post, and then discuss the event in the comments section below.

Round-by-round updates and official results begin at approximately 6:30 p.m. ET for the preliminary card and 10 p.m. ET for the main card.


Filed under: News, UFC

Video: Watch UFC Fight Night 121's post-event press conference on MMAjunkie


Filed under: News, UFC, Videos

SYDNEY – UFC Fight Night 121 takes place today at Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney. As usual, you can watch a live video stream of the post-event press conference here on MMAjunkie at approximately 1:30 a.m. ET (10:30 p.m. PT).

Expected to take part in the press conference are headliners Fabricio Werdum vs. Marcin Tybura, and other winners from the card.

For complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 121, check out the UFC Events section of the site.


Filed under: News, UFC, Videos

Nik Lentz says it was a no-brainer to rebook fight with ATT's Will Brooks at UFC-Sydney

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Filed under: Featured, News, UFC, Videos

SYDNEY – Nik Lentz might feel like a new man when he steps in the cage against Will Brooks in Australia.

A little more than a month ago, the lightweights were supposed to fight at UFC 216 in Las Vegas. But when Lentz wound up having diabetic-like symptoms that turned out to be hypoglycemia (non-diabetic low blood sugar), the fight was scrapped.

After Lentz saw some doctors and got his blood work in order and started to understand just how he could control his levels with his diet, the fight was rebooked for UFC Fight Night 121.

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

There never was a doubt in Lentz’s mind that he would want to rebook the fight with Brooks, a former Bellator lightweight champion.

“I wanted to beat up Will Brooks,” Lentz told MMAjunkie this week in Sydney. “Second, it’s really not my fault I had those issues. The fact I had a week to try to figure out how to manage blood sugar and stuff, that’s not really a thing that I messed up. Now that I’ve got it figured out, now that I understand, I owe it to Will Brooks to reschedule the fight. If you say you’re going to fight somebody, and then whether it’s your fault or not you back out of it, you better sign up and do it again. I was all about it.”

Lentz took his fair share of grief from some fans – the keyboard warrior types, no doubt – on social media who said he just wanted out of the fight with Brooks.

And Brooks himself has not been shy about throwing some verbal shade Lentz’s way. Lentz believes that’s just in Brooks’ nature.

“He can say whatever he wants,” Lentz said. “The fact of the matter is, I never had a grudge with Will Brooks. He’s one of these guys that has to make something up in his head to get motivated – the world’s got to be against him. He did the same crap in Bellator before he left. He’s always been this guy that has to perceive that something is against him, because that’s how he motivates himself.”

But when it comes to reciprocation, Lentz doesn’t think he needs to go down that path. Instead, he’d rather do his talking in the cage, where Brooks will walk in as a 5-1 favorite, making Lentz one of the biggest underdogs on the card.

It might help matters a little than Lentz was a longtime resident of American Top Team in South Florida, but since has moved on to Combat Club, the team Henri Hooft formed in the wake of the dissolution of the Blackzilians. Brooks remains at ATT, and Lentz believes the lightweights still there may harbor a grudge with him for leaving.

“I’ve gotten myself into trouble through the years because I really don’t take this stuff personally, and sometimes it shows on camera,” he said. “But when it comes to Will Brooks, he kind of annoys me, and I would love to smack him – and I’m going to.”

For more from Lentz, check out the video above.

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

December 19, 2015; Orlando, FL, USA; Nik Lentz moves in with a punch against Danny Castillo during UFC Fight Night at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports December 19, 2015; Orlando, FL, USA; Nik Lentz fights against Danny Castillo during UFC Fight Night at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports December 19, 2015; Orlando, FL, USA; Nik Lentz moves in against Danny Castillo during UFC Fight Night at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports December 19, 2015; Orlando, FL, USA; Nik Lentz moves in with a kick against Danny Castillo during UFC Fight Night at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports December 19, 2015; Orlando, FL, USA; Nik Lentz lands a punch against Danny Castillo during UFC Fight Night at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports December 19, 2015; Orlando, FL, USA; Nik Lentz moves in with a punch against Danny Castillo during UFC Fight Night at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports May 30, 2015; Goiania, GO, Brazil; Nik Lentz (red gloves) fights Charles Oliveira (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Goiania Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports May 30, 2015; Goiania, GO, Brazil; Nik Lentz (red gloves) fights Charles Oliveira (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Goiania Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports May 30, 2015; Goiania, GO, Brazil; Nik Lentz (red gloves) reacts before his fight against Charles Oliveira during UFC Fight Night at Goiania Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports May 30, 2015; Goiania, GO, Brazil; Nik Lentz (red gloves) reacts before his fight against Charles Oliveira during UFC Fight Night at Goiania Arena. 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/5SipvqucUW8AFcQkQwGQPM/285081", customAnalytics: true, title: "Nik Lentz", feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == "undefined") ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();
Filed under: Featured, News, UFC, Videos

Flyweight Ryan Benoit explains 'Navy SEAL' approach to UFC Fight Night 121 preparations

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Ryan Benoit’s next opponent might be only 0-1 in the octagon, but he refuses to reduce him to that.

Benoit (9-5 MMA, 2-3 UFC) meets Ashkan Mokhtarian (13-2 MMA, 0-1 UFC) at this weekend’s UFC Fight Night 121 event while looking to get back on the winning path after a split-decision loss to Brandon Moreno last December. And while Mokhtarian’s only octagon showing had him dropping a unanimous nod to John Moraga, Benoit refuses to see anything less than a very tough guy on the opposite corner.

“First fight in the UFC – you definitely get those UFC jitters, and things are going to throw you off,” Benoit told MMAjunkie Radio. “So I give him the benefit of the doubt in that situation. I’m preparing for this guy like he’s the best striker on the planet – (like he’s) the best grappler on the planet.

“I think this is by far the most in shape I’ve been for a fight. This is the most prepared I’ve been for a fight, mentally.”

The flyweight bout is set to close out the FS1-one televised preliminary card of UFC Fight Night 121, which takes place on Sunday (but airs in the U.S. on Saturday due to time difference) at Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney.

RelatedRyan Benoit vs. Ashkan Mokhtarian added to UFC Fight Night 121 in Australia

Benoit knows firsthand what it’s like to come up short in your first octagon outing. After all, he was the one on the losing end of a rear-naked choke in his debut – a “Fight of the Night” affair against Josh Sampo in 2013. Benoit has since alternated wins – over Sergio Pettis and Fredy Serrano – and losses – to Sampo, Moreno and Ben Nguyen.

As he looks to get back on track, Benoit feels “phenomenal.” Since he started doing part of his training out of Las Vegas, where he works alongside coach Ricky Lundell, the Texas native started really seeing what the city can offer to high-level fighters.

“There’s an unlimited amount of sparring partners,” Benoit said. “There’s an unlimited amount of trainers and gyms and coaches out here. This is where you have to be if you want to make it.”

Other than that, the flyweight can attribute his shift in mentality to a change made for this particular camp. Benoit, who was used to having his family close during training, stepped away from them for a little longer this time around. That type of distancing, Benoit ponders, has different results on different fighters.

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

So how did it go for him?

“It just turned me into an absolute killing machine,” Benoit said. “It kind of brought out some different stuff in me. And put like a different type of focus in me. I kind of go back to Navy SEAL kind of training – is that these guys don’t get to talk to their family.

“They don’t speak to their family. They’re completely isolated, just with the brothers and the guys that they’re around. And they go to war and perform at their best that way.

“So I kind of tried to put myself in this Navy SEAL mind frame, to where everything is going to be hard. And I’m here for a purpose. And I’m not going to let any distractions, emotion or anything get in my way. Try to control my emotions and try to put them into hard work. And I’m very focused on the process right now.”

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

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

Jul 30, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; Ryan Benoit (red gloves) competes against Fredy Serrano (blue gloves) during UFC 201 at Phillips Arena. Mandatory Credit: Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports Dec 3, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Brandon Moreno (red gloves) fights Ryan Benoit (blue gloves) during the TUF tournament of champions at Palms Casino. Mandatory Credit: Tracy Lee-USA TODAY Sports Jul 30, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; Ryan Benoit (red gloves) competes against Fredy Serrano (blue gloves) during UFC 201 at Phillips Arena. Mandatory Credit: Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports Mar 14, 2015; Dallas, TX, USA; Ryan Benoit (blue) before fighting Sergio Pettis (red) in the flyweight bout during UFC 185 at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports Mar 14, 2015; Dallas, TX, USA; Sergio Pettis (red) fights Ryan Benoit (blue) in the flyweight bout during UFC 185 at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports Mar 14, 2015; Dallas, TX, USA; Sergio Pettis (red) fights Ryan Benoit (blue) in the flyweight bout during UFC 185 at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports Mar 14, 2015; Dallas, TX, USA; Sergio Pettis (red) fights Ryan Benoit (blue) in the flyweight bout during UFC 185 at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports Mar 14, 2015; Dallas, TX, USA; Sergio Pettis (red) fights Ryan Benoit (blue) in the flyweight bout during UFC 185 at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports Mar 14, 2015; Dallas, TX, USA; Sergio Pettis (red) fights Ryan Benoit (blue) in the flyweight bout during UFC 185 at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports Mar 14, 2015; Dallas, TX, USA; Ryan Benoit (blue) defeats Sergio Pettis (red) in the flyweight bout during UFC 185 at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-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/3Vn5zNSJUzTCeKMrMD6wW5/285060", customAnalytics: true, title: "Ryan Benoit", feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == "undefined") ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();
Filed under: News, Radio Highlight, UFC, Videos

Ahead of UFC Fight Night 121, try to not be moved by the passion of the Mokhtarian brothers

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Filed under: News, UFC, Videos

SYDNEY – It’s somewhat of a family affair for the Mokhtarians at UFC Fight Night 121.

When he enters the octagon at Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney to meet Ryan Benoit (9-5 MMA, 2-3 UFC), Ashkan Mokhtarian (13-2 MMA, 0-1 UFC) will have his brother, Suman, on his corner. Suman (8-0 MMA) not only is a fellow MMA fighter and the head coach of Australian Top Team, he’s also the person who, at 16, gave Ashkan the wake-up call he needed to turn his turbulent life around.

So, as he looks to rebound from a UFC debut loss to John Moraga, Ashkan must give credit where it’s due.

“I can’t see myself losing,” Mokhtarian told reporters in a lengthy, passionate chat ahead of the FS1-televised preliminary card bout. “I hope (Benoit) brings the fight, because I’m there to fight. I’ve got the best coaches. I’ve got the best support crew. I can’t ask for anything more. It’s not just a coach I have next to me: I have my right hand man. I have my brother.

RelatedUFC Fight Night 121 official weigh-in results: Headliner set, but four fighters heavy

“When I have an insecurity, when I have something that I’m worried about, I look at him with full confidence that he’s going to give me the upmost truth. And there’s where I believe most of my confidence and most of my victories come from.”

Ashkan means the “next to me” bit literally – as he stood in front of the cameras after this week’s open workouts, his brother was by his side. Suman, it turns out, will be cornering another Australian Top Team member that night: his girlfriend, Nadia Kassem.

Kassem (4-0 MMA, 0-0 UFC) makes her UFC debut opposite Alex Chambers (5-3 MMA, 1-2 UFC) in a strawweight bout in the UFC Fight Pass-streamed preliminary portion of the evening.

When brought into the conversation by reporters, Suman is clear in that the occasion is not about him – rather, it’s about Ashkan and Kassem. But, once he gets started, it’s hard to miss a somewhat familiar impassioned tone.

“Obviously it’s a bit stressful – I’ve got my brother and my girlfriend on the same card,” Suman said. “But, just like my brother, when the bright lights are on him, usually he’s going to come to perform. I think I’ve had to step my game up, like my brother says, as a father, a husband, as boyfriend, as a coach, as a brother, I had to step up as well. It’s made us all better people, together.

“In a time like this – my brother can be selfish, my girlfriend can be selfish, I can be selfish. But in times like that, in times when we fight, when we make up, it kind of makes us all better. And it drives us all to be just a little bit hungrier.”

Mokhtarian and Kassem might be the only two representatives of Australian Top Team in the UFC for now. But like Ashkan, who believes soon it will be his brother up there, Suman is fully confident that this is just the beginning of what the team is going to accomplish.

“Don’t be surprised if next year you see five, six of us in the UFC,” Suman said.

To hear Ashkan and Suman Mokhtarian’s full speeches, which we highly recommend, check out the video above.

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


Filed under: News, UFC, Videos

Bellator 188: Lahat vs. Labiano results (9 p.m. ET)

Bellator 188 took place Thursday at Menora Mivtachim Arena Arena in Tel Aviv, but the main card airs tonight on Spike via tape delay, beginning at 9 p.m. ET, and you can follow along the results here on MMAjunkie.

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

In the main event, Noad Lahat meets Jeremiah Labiano in a featherweight bout elevated from the co-feature when featherweight champion Patricio Freire was forced out of his title defense against Daniel Weichel. In the welterweight co-main event, Haim Gozali takes on Arsen Faitovich.

Complete Bellator 188 main-card results include:

  • Noad Lahat vs. Jeremiah Labiano
  • Arsen Faitovich vs. Haim Gozali
  • Jason Radcliffe vs. John Salter
  • Denise Kielholtz vs. Jessica Middleton

For complete coverage of Bellator 188, check out the MMA events section of the site.


Filed under: Bellator, News

Who ya got?! Fighters weigh in on Fabricio Werdum vs. Marcin Tybura at UFC-Sydney

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Filed under: Featured, News, UFC, Videos

SYDNEY – A former champion continues his quest to get back to heavyweight title contention in the UFC Fight Night 121 main event.

Ex-champ Fabricio Werdum (22-7-1 MMA, 10-4 UFC) meets Marcin Tybura (16-2 MMA, 3-1 UFC) in the headliner of UFC Fight Night 121, which takes place Sunday (but airs live on Saturday in North America due to the time difference) at Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney. It airs on FS1 following early prelims on UFC Fight Pass.

Werdum is No. 3 in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA heavyweight rankings. Tybura is an honorable mention. Werdum is more than a 3-1 favorite in the fight.

But who are some of their fellow UFC-Sydney fighters picking in the main event? Check out the video above to get their picks.

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

Oct 7, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Fabricio Werdum (red gloves) reacts after defeating Walt Harris (blue gloves) during the first round during UFC 216 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports Oct 7, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Fabricio Werdum (red gloves) fights Walt Harris (blue gloves) during the first round during UFC 216 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports Oct 7, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Fabricio Werdum (red gloves) competes against Walt Harris (blue gloves) during the first round during UFC 216 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports Oct 7, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Fabricio Werdum (red gloves) reacts after defeating Walt Harris (blue gloves) during the first round during UFC 216 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports July 8, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Fabricio Werdum (red gloves) walks to the octagon to fight Alistair Overeem (not pictured) during UFC 213 at T-Mobile Arena. Overeem def. Werdum via majority decision (28-28, 29-28, 29-28). Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports July 8, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Fabricio Werdum (red gloves) fights Alistair Overeem (blue gloves) during UFC 213 at T-Mobile Arena. Overeem def. Werdum via majority decision (28-28, 29-28, 29-28). Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports July 8, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Fabricio Werdum (red gloves) fights Alistair Overeem (blue gloves) during UFC 213 at T-Mobile Arena. Overeem def. Werdum via majority decision (28-28, 29-28, 29-28). Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports July 8, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Fabricio Werdum (red gloves) fights Alistair Overeem (blue gloves) during UFC 213 at T-Mobile Arena. Overeem def. Werdum via majority decision (28-28, 29-28, 29-28). Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports Sep 10, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Fabricio Werdum (red gloves) competes against Travis Browne (blue gloves) during UFC 203 at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports Sep 10, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Fabricio Werdum (red gloves) competes against Travis Browne (blue gloves) during UFC 203 at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports Sep 10, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Fabricio Werdum (red gloves) competes against Travis Browne (blue gloves) during UFC 203 at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports Sep 10, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Fabricio Werdum (red gloves) competes against Travis Browne (blue gloves) during UFC 203 at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports Sep 10, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Fabricio Werdum (red gloves) competes against Travis Browne (blue gloves) during UFC 203 at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports Sep 10, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Fabricio Werdum (red gloves) is separated from Travis Browne (blue gloves) during UFC 203 at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports Sep 10, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Fabricio Werdum (red gloves) defeats Travis Browne (blue gloves) during UFC 203 at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports jQuery.extend( window._usmgOptions,{ scriptUrl: "https://s2.wp.com/wp-content/themes/vip/usatoday-plugins/api-galleries/assets", analyticsCallback: "galleryAnalytics", fullscreenUrl: "http://mmajunkie.com/sigallery/nGLZcDFY7c2f2BPH9oQDBd/285135", customAnalytics: true, title: "Fabricio Werdum", feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == "undefined") ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();
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UFC champion Cris Cyborg signs new deal with promotion

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Not only does Cris Cyborg have her first UFC title defense coming up next month, she has a new deal to go with it.

Cyborg, the women’s featherweight champion, announced on her web site today that she’s signed a new UFC contract that will keep her with the promotion for “at least the next 15 months,” making her the “highest paid female fighter currently on the UFC roster.”

The new deal comes one day after the UFC announced Cyborg (18-1 MMA, 3-0 UFC) will defend her title against ex-bantamweight champion Holly Holm (11-3 MMA, 4-3 UFC) on Dec. 30 at the UFC 219 pay-per-view from T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

RelatedOpening odds: Champ Cris Cyborg is a hefty favorite over Holly Holm at UFC 219

“I am excited to be committed to the UFC,” Cyborg said in a statement. “Dana White has proven himself as the best promoter in the sport, and with the recent addition of Mick Maynard as women’s matchmaker, I felt it was time to come to an agreement where we can both work together and be committed in both building the UFC and the Cris Cyborg brands. … I am excited to start this new chapter in my career as a real partner with the UFC and the fights we will promote together.”

Cyborg shed light on her contract situation back in July, prior to her title win over Tonya Evinger at UFC 214. Cyborg said then that her deal with the UFC was set to expire in October, but she was hopeful she’d sign a new one.

RelatedCris 'Cyborg' explains taking high road during Joe Rogan interview after UFC title win

The relationship between Cyborg and the UFC hasn’t always been smooth. UFC President Dana White and analyst Joe Rogan, in particular, have made some unnecessary and harsh comments about Cyborg over the years. But things began to turn earlier this year when White admitted to MMAjunkie that the UFC has “made some mistakes” in its dealings with Cyborg.

Cyborg is one of the greatest, if not the greatest, fighters in women’s MMA history. She hasn’t lost since 2005 on her way to winning championships in Strikeforce, Invicta and the UFC.

For more on UFC 219, visit 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 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; Tonya Evinger moves in with a hit against Cris Cyborg 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 fights against Tonya Evinger during UFC 214 at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports July 29, 2017; Anaheim, CA, USA; Tonya Evinger moves in with a punch against Cris Cyborg 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 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/xjyzqu9SEBQ2qzNqSUgEgD/285113", customAnalytics: true, title: "Justino def. Evinger", feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == "undefined") ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();
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How is ol' man Daniel Kelly dealing with 'massive, massive disappointment'?

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SYDNEY – After a four-fight winning streak came to an abrupt end, how is 40-year-old Daniel Kelly dealing with the setback?

With his trademark optimism and fortitude, as usual.

Kelly (13-2 MMA, 6-2 UFC), who meets fellow middleweight Elias Theodorou (13-2 MMA, 5-2 UFC) on Saturday at UFC Fight Night 121, was inching up the 185-pound ladder with a solid winning streak, but in his most recent bout, he suffered a 76-second knockout loss to Derek Brunson.

How’d it feel to deal with such an untimely setback?

RelatedTwitter reacts to Derek Brunson's quick KO of Daniel Kelly at UFC Fight Night 110

“Massive disappointment – massive, massive disappointment,” the fan favorite told MMAjunkie. “We were on a really good run. We won like four in a row, something like that. And everything was good.

“(The loss) was my fault. I made mistakes. So, you can’t make mistakes at that level. You saw what (Brunson) did to (Lyoto) Machida that next fight. And Brunson is an awesome, awesome competitor. So, it was very disappointing. All you can do is get back to the drawing board.”

He looks to do just that when he meets Theodorou in an FS1-televised main-card bout at Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney. For the four-time Australian Olympic judoka, he’s likely going to be a massive crowd favorite.

RelatedDaniel Kelly vs. Elias Theodorou slated for UFC Fight Night 121 in Australia

But Kelly also knows he has a tough challenge in Theodorou, a fellow vet of “The Ultimate Fighter.” After all, Theodorou has defeated the two of the three opponents who have beaten Kelly since the Australian turned to pro MMA in 2006 – Sam Alvey and Sheldon Westcott (in a “TUF” exhibition bout).

And sure, some folks close to him may have preferred that Kelly call it a career after the Brunson loss. But despite a couple decades of combat-sports experience and Father Time peering over his shoulder, Kelly isn’t quite ready to call it quits.

“At the end of the day, I think I’m a good representation for the sport and how I conduct myself and all of that,” he said. “So, there’s still a little but of gas in there, in the tank. So I’ll get going for a little bit longer.”

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

Nov 27, 2016; Melbourne, Australia; Daniel Kelly (red gloves) after winning the bout against Chris Camozzi (not pictured) during UFC Fight Night at Rod Laver Arena. Mandatory Credit: Matt Roberts-USA TODAY Sports Mar 4, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Daniel Kelly (blue gloves) celebrates after defeating Rashad Evans (not pictured) in their bout at UFC 209 at T-Mobile Arena. Kelly won via split decision. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports Mar 4, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Rashad Evans (red gloves) and Daniel Kelly (blue gloves) fight during their bout at UFC 209 at T-Mobile Arena. Kelly won via split decision. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports Mar 4, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Rashad Evans (red gloves) and Daniel Kelly (blue gloves) fight during their bout at UFC 209 at T-Mobile Arena. Kelly won via split decision. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports Mar 4, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Rashad Evans (red gloves) and Daniel Kelly (blue gloves) fight during their bout at UFC 209 at T-Mobile Arena. Kelly won via split decision. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports Mar 4, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Rashad Evans (red gloves) and Daniel Kelly (blue gloves) fight during their bout at UFC 209 at T-Mobile Arena. Kelly won via split decision. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports Mar 4, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Rashad Evans (red gloves) tears the shorts of Daniel Kelly (blue gloves) during their bout at UFC 209 at T-Mobile Arena. Kelly won via split decision. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports Mar 4, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Daniel Kelly (blue gloves) celebrates after defeating Rashad Evans in their bout at UFC 209 at T-Mobile Arena. Kelly won via split decision. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports Nov 27, 2016; Melbourne, Australia; Daniel Kelly (red gloves) competes against Chris Camozzi (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Rod Laver Arena. Mandatory Credit: Matt Roberts-USA TODAY Sports Nov 27, 2016; Melbourne, Australia; Daniel Kelly (red gloves) competes against Chris Camozzi (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Rod Laver Arena. Mandatory Credit: Matt Roberts-USA TODAY Sports Nov 27, 2016; Melbourne, Australia; Daniel Kelly (red gloves) competes against Chris Camozzi (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Rod Laver Arena. Mandatory Credit: Matt Roberts-USA TODAY Sports Mar 20, 2015; Brisbane, Australia; Daniel Kelly (red gloves) competes against Antonio Carlos Junior (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Brisbane Entertainment Centre. Mandatory Credit: Matt Roberts-USA TODAY Sports Mar 20, 2015; Brisbane, Australia; Daniel Kelly (red gloves) competes against Antonio Carlos Junior (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Brisbane Entertainment Centre. Mandatory Credit: Matt Roberts-USA TODAY Sports Mar 20, 2015; Brisbane, Australia; Daniel Kelly (red gloves) celebrates after defeating Antonio Carlos Junior (not pictured) during UFC Fight Night at Brisbane Entertainment Centre. Mandatory Credit: Matt Roberts-USA TODAY Sports Mar 19, 2015; Brisbane, Australia; Daniel Kelly (red gloves) celebrates after defeating Antonio Carlos Junior (not pictured) during UFC Fight Night at Brisbane Entertainment Centre. Mandatory Credit: Matt Roberts-USA TODAY Sports jQuery.extend( window._usmgOptions,{ scriptUrl: "https://s2.wp.com/wp-content/themes/vip/usatoday-plugins/api-galleries/assets", analyticsCallback: "galleryAnalytics", fullscreenUrl: "http://mmajunkie.com/sigallery/B4PizUmMtNCNkqLSVEN4NP/285058", customAnalytics: true, title: "Daniel Kelly", feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == "undefined") ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();
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Aljamain Sterling gets Marlon Moraes as UFC-Fresno replacement opponent

Nov 11, 2017; Virginia, VA, USA; John Dodson (red gloves) fights Marlon Moraes (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; John Dodson (red gloves) fights Marlon Moraes (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; John Dodson (red gloves) fights Marlon Moraes (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; John Dodson (red gloves) fights Marlon Moraes (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; John Dodson (red gloves) fights Marlon Moraes (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; John Dodson (red gloves) fights Marlon Moraes (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; John Dodson (red gloves) fights Marlon Moraes (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; John Dodson (red gloves) fights Marlon Moraes (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; John Dodson (red gloves) fights Marlon Moraes (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; John Dodson (red gloves) reacts after being poked in the eye by Marlon Moraes (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; John Dodson (red gloves) fights Marlon Moraes (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; John Dodson (red gloves) fights Marlon Moraes (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; John Dodson (red gloves) fights Marlon Moraes (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; John Dodson (red gloves) fights Marlon Moraes (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; John Dodson (red gloves) fights Marlon Moraes (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; John Dodson (red gloves) fights Marlon Moraes (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; John Dodson (red gloves) fights Marlon Moraes (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; John Dodson (red gloves) fights Marlon Moraes (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/ArNPrNCJHDU7YgPXXgeKng/285082", customAnalytics: true, title: "Moraes def. Dodson", feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == "undefined") ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();

Aljamain Sterling has been in need of a replacement opponent, and he’s found one in Marlon Moraes.

A bantamweight fight between Sterling (14-2 MMA, 6-2 UFC) and Moraes (19-5-1 MMA, 1-1 UFC) is set for UFC Fight Night 123, people with knowledge of the situation told MMAjunkie. The people requested anonymity because the UFC had yet to make an announcement.

Sterling originally was slated to face Rani Yahya at the FS1-televised event Dec. 9 in Fresno, Calif., until Yahya was forced out because of injury. Moraes will be making a quick turnaround after picking up a split decision over John Dodson last week at UFC Fight Night 120.

RelatedAljamain Sterling rips Jimmie Rivera after wife gets involved in their feud

Sterling, No. 12 in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA bantamweight rankings, brings a two-fight winning streak to the cage after decisions over former UFC bantamweight champion Renan Barao and top Brazilian prospect Augusto Mendes. Six of his 14 career wins have come by way of submission, including four by rear-naked choke, though all were prior to his UFC run.

Sterling had been hoping to land a fight with No. 5 Jimmie Rivera, who remains in need of a replacement opponent for UFC 219 after ex-champ Dominick Cruz withdrew because of injury. Moraes wanted the same and used his post-fight interview last week for an impassioned plea to step in and fight Rivera.

As it turns out, it’ll be Sterling and Moraes going at each other instead.

With the addition, UFC Fight Night 123 now includes:

  • Cub Swanson vs. Brian Ortega
  • Marlon Moraes vs. Aljamain Sterling
  • Liz Carmouche vs. Alexis Davis
  • Scott Holtzman vs. Darrell Horcher
  • Eryk Anders vs. Markus Perez
  • Trevin Giles vs. Antonio Braga Neto
  • Carls John de Tomas vs. Alex Perez
  • Chris Gruetzemacher vs. Davi Ramos
  • Bryan Caraway vs. Luke Sanders
  • Merab Dvalishvili vs. Frankie Saenz
  • Benito Lopez vs. Albert Morales
  • Gabriel Benitez vs. Jason Knight

For more on UFC Fight Night 123, visit the UFC Rumors section of the site.


Filed under: Featured, News, UFC

Jake Matthews admits there's pressure to perform at UFC Fight Night 121

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SYDNEY – Sometimes, a change of scenery can be just what the doctor ordered. Jake Matthews is hoping that’s the case with his move back up to welterweight this weekend.

Matthews (10-3 MMA, 4-3 UFC) returns to 170 pounds after fighting his first seven UFC bouts at lightweight when he meets Bojan Velickovic (15-5-1 MMA, 2-2-1 UFC) on the UFC Fight Night 121 main card.

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

The move for Matthews comes on the heels of back-to-back lightweight losses in 2016 to Kevin Lee, who recently fought for an interim 155-pound title, and Andrew Holbrook. The latter fight came by split decision nearly a year ago, and Matthews hasn’t seen action since. He was the heaviest favorite on the card against Holbrook at UFC Fight Night 101 in New Zealand.

In his return, he’s hoping to give a glimpse of the potential that was pegged on him when he debuted in the promotion as a 19-year-old Australian in 2014.

“I know it’s a must-win fight, but that’s not adding to the pressure at all,” Matthews told MMAjunkie at a media day in support of UFC-Sydney. “I expect myself to go in there and win the fight, anyway. I’m just going to go in there and this time, do what I normally do when we’re sparring and training and just not hold back – still be smart, still be patient where I need to be, but just have that aggressiveness that I used to have back in the day.”

Back in the day, Matthews started out 8-0, including consecutive submission wins over Dashon Johnson and Vagner Rocha to open his UFC tenure. After a submission loss to James Vick, he stopped Akbarh Arreola with a TKO at UFC 193, then got a “Fight of the Night” bonus for his submission win over Johnny Case, which moved him to 4-1 in the promotion with four stoppages.

But it’s been a struggle since then, and one he thinks he could’ve avoided. He blames himself for both losses, saying he didn’t give all he could have given.

“I could’ve dug deeper and tried to push and really win those fights,” Matthews said. “And it does make me hungry. I want to go in there and show everyone what my skill set is, what my potential is, and show that I could’ve won those last two fights. And even though Kevin is a top contender now, I could’ve won that fight.

“But if I win this fight, I’ll be right back up there with guys like Darren Till and hopefully get a bigger fight and keep moving up.”

For more from Matthews, check out the video above.

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

Mar 20, 2016; Brisbane, Australia; Jake Matthews (red gloves) celebrates after defeating Johnny Case (not pictured) during UFC Fight Night at Brisbane Entertainment Centre. Mandatory Credit: Matt Roberts-USA TODAY Sports Mar 20, 2016; Brisbane, Australia; Jake Matthews (red gloves) competes against Johnny Case (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Brisbane Entertainment Centre. Mandatory Credit: Matt Roberts-USA TODAY Sports Mar 20, 2016; Brisbane, Australia; Jake Matthews (red gloves) competes against Johnny Case (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Brisbane Entertainment Centre. Mandatory Credit: Matt Roberts-USA TODAY Sports Mar 20, 2016; Brisbane, Australia; Jake Matthews (red gloves) competes against Johnny Case (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Brisbane Entertainment Centre. Mandatory Credit: Matt Roberts-USA TODAY Sports Mar 20, 2016; Brisbane, Australia; Jake Matthews (red gloves) competes against Johnny Case (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Brisbane Entertainment Centre. Mandatory Credit: Matt Roberts-USA TODAY Sports Mar 20, 2016; Brisbane, Australia; Jake Matthews (red gloves) celebrates after defeating Johnny Case (not pictured) during UFC Fight Night at Brisbane Entertainment Centre. Mandatory Credit: Matt Roberts-USA TODAY Sports Nov 15, 2015; Melbourne, Australia; Jake Matthews (red gloves) competes against Akbarh Arreola (blue gloves) during UFC 193 at Etihad Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Roberts-USA TODAY Sports Nov 15, 2015; Melbourne, Australia; Jake Matthews (red gloves) competes against Akbarh Arreola (blue gloves) during UFC 193 at Etihad Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Roberts-USA TODAY Sports Nov 15, 2015; Melbourne, Australia; Jake Matthews (red gloves) reacts after his fight against Akbarh Arreola (blue gloves) during UFC 193 at Etihad Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Roberts-USA TODAY Sports Nov 15, 2015; Melbourne, Australia; Jake Matthews (red gloves) celebrates after defeating Akbarh Arreola (blue gloves) (not pictured) during UFC 193 at Etihad Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Roberts-USA TODAY Sports jQuery.extend( window._usmgOptions,{ scriptUrl: "https://s2.wp.com/wp-content/themes/vip/usatoday-plugins/api-galleries/assets", analyticsCallback: "galleryAnalytics", fullscreenUrl: "http://mmajunkie.com/sigallery/eAAiYMSqbVgfkBX3MUMSrU/285056", customAnalytics: true, title: "Jake Matthews", feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == "undefined") ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();
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