MMA Junkie News

Stream or download MMAjunkie Radio #2622 with Belal Muhammad, Malki Kawa, Oscar Askar

Stream or download Wednesday’s episode of MMAjunkie Radio with guests Belal Muhammad, Malki Kawa and Oscar Askar.

UFC welterweight Muhammad stopped by the studio to talk about a multitude of MMA topics, including whom he wants to fight next. Kawa, who manages the likes of Jon Jones, Tyron Woodley and Yoel Romero, called in to the program to share the latest on his stable of fighters. Askar, a flyweight who fights for Titan FC, also joined the hosts in the studio to talk about his training with Muhammad and Roufusport in Milwaukee.

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

UFC's Ruslan Magomedov and Zubaira Tukhugov accept two-year USADA suspensions

May 14, 2016; Curitiba, Brazil; Renato Moicano (red) fights against Zubaira Tukhugov (blue) during UFC Fight Night at Arena Atletico Paranaense. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports May 14, 2016; Curitiba, Brazil; Zubaira Tukhugov (blue) throws a kick at Renato Moicano (red) during UFC Fight Night at Arena Atletico Paranaense. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports May 14, 2016; Curitiba, Brazil; Zubaira Tukhugov (blue) defends a kick by Renato Moicano (red) during UFC Fight Night at Arena Atletico Paranaense. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports May 14, 2016; Curitiba, Brazil; Renato Moicano (red) fights against Zubaira Tukhugov (blue) during UFC Fight Night at Arena Atletico Paranaense. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports May 14, 2016; Curitiba, Brazil; Zubaira Tukhugov (blue) defends a punch by Renato Moicano (red) during UFC Fight Night at Arena Atletico Paranaense. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports May 14, 2016; Curitiba, Brazil; Zubaira Tukhugov (blue) throws a punch defended by Renato Moicano (red) during UFC Fight Night at Arena Atletico Paranaense. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports May 14, 2016; Curitiba, Brazil; Zubaira Tukhugov (blue) looks on after losing to Renato Moicano (not pictured) during UFC Fight Night at Arena Atletico Paranaense. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports December 10, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Zubaira Tukhugov celebrates his victory against Phillipe Nover during UFC Fight Night at The Chelsea at the Cosmopolitan. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports December 10, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Zubaira Tukhugov moves in against Phillipe Nover during UFC Fight Night at The Chelsea at the Cosmopolitan. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports December 10, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Zubaira Tukhugov throws a punch against Phillipe Nover during UFC Fight Night at The Chelsea at the Cosmopolitan. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports December 10, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Zubaira Tukhugov pins Phillipe Nover against the mat during UFC Fight Night at The Chelsea at the Cosmopolitan. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports Feb 15, 2014; Jaragua do Sul, SC, Brazil; Douglas Silva de Andrade (red gloves) fights against Zubaira Tukhugov (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night Machida vs Mousasi at Arena Jaragua. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports Feb 15, 2014; Jaragua do Sul, SC, Brazil; Douglas Silva de Andrade (red gloves) fights against Zubaira Tukhugov (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night Machida vs Mousasi at Arena Jaragua. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports Feb 15, 2014; Jaragua do Sul, SC, Brazil; Zubaira Tukhugov (blue gloves) during his fight against Douglas Silva de Andrade (red gloves) on UFC Fight Night Machida vs Mousasi at Arena Jaragua. 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/rS9gRgicauxxzupTfHvC9F/302823", customAnalytics: true, title: "Zubaira Tukhugov", feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == "undefined") ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();

The UFC’s drug-testing partner, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA),  today announced UFC heavyweight Ruslan Magomedov and UFC featherweight Zubaira Tukhugov have both accepted two-year suspensions stemming from failed drug tests.

Magomedov (14-1 MMA, 3-0 UFC) and Tukhugov (18-4 MMA, 3-1 UFC) tested positive for ostarine. They both failed out-of-competition tests conducted on Sept. 7, 2016. Tukhugov came up positive for the same substance following an out-of-competition test conducted Oct. 29 of the same year, the UFC anti-doping agency wrote in a press release.

Because Tukhugov’s second sample was collected before the results of his first test came back positive, USADA treated the dual failures as a single violation.

The suspensions are retroactive to Sept. 26, 2016, when USADA temporarily suspended them and news of their potential anti-doping violations were first announced.

Magomedov and Tukhugov denied using ostarine – a selective androgen receptor modulator (SARM) that’s repeatedly popped up in potential anti-doping violations – and traced the positives back to a contaminated supplement. USADA said it was unable to confirm that fact and elected to give the fighters the standard two-year term for first-time offenders caught with non-specified substances in their system.

According to USADA, Magomedov and Tukhugov challenged their suspensions with a third-party aribrator. Their cases were heard as a “single presentation” over a multi-day hearing.

“The athletes presented testimony and submitted evidence in an attempt to support their supplement contamination claims and request for a reduced period of ineligibility,” USADA’s statement read. “Nevertheless, after two days of testimony, USADA informed Magomedov and Tukhugov that it was still unwilling to consider a reduced sanction because it did not believe supplement contamination was a valid explanation for their positive tests.

“Thereafter, and before the conclusion of the hearing, USADA and the athletes reached an agreement to resolve the case, with Magomedov and Tukhugov each accepting a two-year period of ineligibility and agreeing to contribute a total of $10,000 toward the costs of the arbitration proceedings.”

Several UFC fighters have linked ostarine to legal supplements and accepted suspensions despite proclaiming innocence. This past month, women’s strawweight Amanda Ribas accepted a two-year term for ostarine and heavyweight Josh Barnett went into arbitration with USADA after the substance was traced to a legal herbal supplement.

Magomedov, who dropped out of a fight with Stefan Struve at UFC 204 claiming a staph infection, most recently fought in the octagon at UFC 192, outpointing Shawn Jordan to pick up his third consecutive win.

Tukhugov, who was slated to face Tiago Trator at UFC Fight Night 102 prior to his temporary suspension, lost a split call to Renato Carneiro at UFC 198, suffering his first defeat in four octagon appearances.

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

5 reasons to watch Bellator 194, with high-stakes rematches, boxer vs. boxer, and 'Air Claxton'

Two high stakes rematches top Friday’s Bellator 194 fight card.

In the main event, Roy Nelson and Matt Mitrione meet in a heavyweight contest. In their first fight, which took place in 2012 under the UFC banner, Nelson handed Mitrione the first TKO loss of his career. Since that bout, Nelson has a record of 5-7 while Mitrione is 7-3.

In the co-headliner, Patricky Freire and Derek Campos face off in a rematch four years in the making. The two first met in a semifinal-round bout of the Season 10 lightweight tournament. Freire won that fight via first-round TKO.

Bellator 194 takes place at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn. The main card airs on Paramount following prelims on MMAjunkie.

Here are five reasons to watch the event.

1. Those odds sound right to Mitrione

Mitrione enters the first-round of the Bellator MMA world grand prix as the favorite to walk away from the eight-man tournament with the heavyweight title strapped around his waist.

Mitrione, who is No. 12 in the most recent USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA heavyweight rankings, feels those odds are spot on.

“I should be the favorite,” Mitrione told MMAjunkie. “I think I’m one of the best heavyweights in the world in any promotion, and I think I’m really coming into my own stride now, so that’s kind of how I feel. It didn’t surprise me at all. I think everyone else is pretty damn solid; I just think I’m a little bit better.”

Mitrione (12-5 MMA, 3-0 BMMA) has a 3-0 record as a Bellator heavyweight. All three of those victories have come by via knockout. That stretch includes his first-round stoppage of Fedor Emelianenko in June.

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Nelson (23-14 MMA, 1-0 BMMA) has fought only once under the Bellator banner. He won that bout when he defeated Javy Ayala by unanimous decision.

The winner of this bout is scheduled to face the victor of the upcoming grand-prix matchup between light heavyweight champ Ryan Bader and Muhammed Lawal.

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Freire has one Bellator title fight on his record; Michael Chandler knocked him out in the first round of that bout to claim the vacant lightweight title. Since that 2016 defeat, Freire has bested two former lightweight champions. In February of last year, he knocked out ex-Strikeforce champion Josh Thomson. He followed that stoppage with a September split-decision victory over former UFC kingpin Benson Henderson.

Campos hasn’t faced former titleholders during his current four-fight winning streak, but with two knockouts and two decisions, he’s one win away from matching the longest winning streak of his MMA career.

These two were booked for a rematch at Bellator 181, but Freire was pulled from that fight and moved to the Henderson bout at Bellator 183. The promotion did not explain why Freire (18-8 MMA, 11-7 BMMA) was picked to face Henderson instead of Campos (19-6 MMA, 8-4 BMMA). Don’t be surprised if that slight continues to gnaw at Campos.

Brandon Girtz replaced Freire at Bellator 181. Campos won that fight by doctor stoppage when he opened a nasty gash on Girtz’s forehead with a knee.

While Freire isn’t all that jazzed about the rematch, he knows what’s at stake in this matchup.

“This isn’t the opponent I wanted,” Freire told MMAjunkie. “I always like to face different fighters. But Derek Campos is coming off four wins. No matter what, whether I win or he does, one of us should challenge for the belt next. If that doesn’t happen, it would bother me.”

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Liam McGeary opened his MMA career on an 11-0 run. During that stretch, he won and defended the Bellator light heavyweight title. McGeary also gained a reputation as a fighter with porous takedown defense who was dangerous off of his back. In his title-losing bout against Phil Davis, McGeary struggled mightily with the heavy top game of the former NCAA Division I national wrestling champion.

In his bounce-back fight, McGeary earned a doctor’s stoppage TKO win in a slugfest with Brett McDermott.

McGeary then tangled with Linton Vassell, who won that fight by submission when his top game was too much to handle.

It’s not like McGeary got exposed in those losses, but his reputation as a master of the “Hail Mary” submission took a significant hit.

Don’t be shocked if Vadim Nemkov decides not to test McGeary (12-2 MMA, 9-2 BMMA) on the mat. Nemkov (8-2 MMA, 1-0 BMMA) has won seven fights by first-round knockout, including his Bellator debut against Phillipe Lins. Nemkov, a world champion in sambo and a training partner of Fedor Emelianenko, is a young fighter on the rise. If he can get a win over a McGeary, who is ranked No 15 at light heavyweight, he’ll find himself in the mix in Bellator’s 205-pound division.

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Heather Hardy tasted defeat for the first time in her combat sports career in October when the doctor stopped her fight against Kristina Williams at the two-minute mark of the second round. It was Hardy’s first loss in 23 combined boxing and MMA fights.

Ana Julaton ended a two-year break in October when she made her Bellator debut at Bellator 185. The former WBO women’s super bantamweight champion employed a kickboxing approach in her fight against Lisa Blaine. While Julaton showed that she’s more than just a puncher in that fight, she ended up on the wrong side of a unanimous decision.

Hardy, who is the current WBC international women’s featherweight champion, is still finding her way in MMA. She has relied almost entirely on her boxing skills in her MMA fights. While that has made for two exciting scraps, she could struggle against an opponent who has even one more weapon in her arsenal.

The expectation is that this flyweight bout will be a boxing match. But don’t forget: These two are in talks to meet in the ring sometime later in 2018. With that, don’t be surprised if Julaton (2-3 MMA, 0-1 BMMA), who has five MMA fights to her name, uses her kickboxing and ground skills in an attempt to let Hardy (1-1 MMA, 1-1 BMMA) know that she’s the more well-rounded fighter.

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Tywan Claxton made his pro debut on the preliminary card of Bellator 186. Entering that event, Claxton, who had a 7-0 record as an amateur, went by the nickname of “Speedy.” When the fight ended at the 89-second mark of the first round, Claxton had his first knockout as a pro and a new nickname: “Air Claxton.”

He earned that nickname when he caught some serious air and knocked out Jonathan Bonilla-Bowman cold with a flying knee. The stoppage had Claxton in the running for MMAjunkie’s “Knockout of the Year.”

After his impressive debut, the featherweight tried to pick a fight with Aaron Pico. He also served notice to the rest of the division that he had plans to rise up the ranks.

“It’s over,” Claxton told MMAjunkie Radio in November. “It’s over. Grab a shovel. Dig your own grave. I’m coming for you.”

Claxton (1-0 MMA, 1-0 BMMA) now gets his first shot at a Bellator main card spot. His opponent is Jose Antonio Perez (0-1 MMA, 0-1 BMMA), who lost his pro debut when he dropped a decision to Kevin Carrier at Bellator 185.

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For more on Bellator 194, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

Oct 20, 2017; Uncasville, CT, USA; Heather Hardy (red gloves) before fighting Kristina Williams (blue gloves) during Bellator 185 at Mohegan Sun Arena. Mandatory Credit: Dave Mandel-USA TODAY Sports Oct 20, 2017; Uncasville, CT, USA; Heather Hardy (red gloves) before fighting Kristina Williams (blue gloves) during Bellator 185 at Mohegan Sun Arena. Mandatory Credit: Dave Mandel-USA TODAY Sports Oct 20, 2017; Uncasville, CT, USA; Kristina Williams (blue gloves) fights Heather Hardy (red gloves) during Bellator 185 at Mohegan Sun Arena. Mandatory Credit: Dave Mandel-USA TODAY Sports Oct 20, 2017; Uncasville, CT, USA; Kristina Williams (blue gloves) fights Heather Hardy (red gloves) during Bellator 185 at Mohegan Sun Arena. Mandatory Credit: Dave Mandel-USA TODAY Sports Oct 20, 2017; Uncasville, CT, USA; Kristina Williams (blue gloves) fights Heather Hardy (red gloves) during Bellator 185 at Mohegan Sun Arena. Mandatory Credit: Dave Mandel-USA TODAY Sports Oct 20, 2017; Uncasville, CT, USA; Kristina Williams (blue gloves) fights Heather Hardy (red gloves) during Bellator 185 at Mohegan Sun Arena. Mandatory Credit: Dave Mandel-USA TODAY Sports Oct 20, 2017; Uncasville, CT, USA; Kristina Williams (blue gloves) fights Heather Hardy (red gloves) during Bellator 185 at Mohegan Sun Arena. Mandatory Credit: Dave Mandel-USA TODAY Sports Jun 24, 2017; New York, NY, USA; Heather Hardy (red gloves) fights Alice Yauger (blue gloves) during Bellator NYC at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports Jun 24, 2017; New York, NY, USA; Heather Hardy (red gloves) fights Alice Yauger (blue gloves) during Bellator NYC at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports Jun 24, 2017; New York, NY, USA; Heather Hardy (red gloves) reacts to fight against Alice Yauger (blue gloves) during Bellator NYC at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports Jun 24, 2017; New York, NY, USA; Heather Hardy (red gloves) fights Alice Yauger (blue gloves) during Bellator NYC at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports Jun 24, 2017; New York, NY, USA; Heather Hardy (red gloves) fights Alice Yauger (not pictured) during Bellator NYC at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports Jun 24, 2017; New York, NY, USA; Heather Hardy (red gloves) reacts to fight against Alice Yauger (blue gloves) during Bellator NYC at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports Jun 24, 2017; New York, NY, USA; Heather Hardy (red gloves) reacts to fight against Alice Yauger (blue gloves) during Bellator NYC at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports Jun 24, 2017; New York, NY, USA; Heather Hardy (red gloves) reacts to fight against Alice Yauger (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/5qsRgNpM2LaHVBCxL7FpCV/302798", customAnalytics: true, title: "Heather Hardy", feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == "undefined") ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();

UFC on FOX 29 gets two new bouts, including Matthew Lopez vs. Alejandro Perez

December 9, 2017; Fresno, CA, USA; Alejandro Perez (red gloves) fights Iuri Alcantara (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Save Mart Center. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports December 9, 2017; Fresno, CA, USA; Alejandro Perez (red gloves) fights Iuri Alcantara (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Save Mart Center. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports December 9, 2017; Fresno, CA, USA; Alejandro Perez (red gloves) fights Iuri Alcantara (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Save Mart Center. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports December 9, 2017; Fresno, CA, USA; Alejandro Perez (red gloves) fights Iuri Alcantara (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Save Mart Center. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports December 9, 2017; Fresno, CA, USA; Alejandro Perez (red gloves) fights Iuri Alcantara (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Save Mart Center. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports December 9, 2017; Fresno, CA, USA; Alejandro Perez (red gloves) fights Iuri Alcantara (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Save Mart Center. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports December 9, 2017; Fresno, CA, USA; Alejandro Perez (red gloves) fights Iuri Alcantara (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Save Mart Center. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports December 9, 2017; Fresno, CA, USA; Alejandro Perez (red gloves) fights Iuri Alcantara (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Save Mart Center. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports December 9, 2017; Fresno, CA, USA; Alejandro Perez (red gloves) fights Iuri Alcantara (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Save Mart Center. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports December 9, 2017; Fresno, CA, USA; Alejandro Perez (red gloves) fights Iuri Alcantara (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Save Mart Center. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports December 9, 2017; Fresno, CA, USA; Alejandro Perez (red gloves) fights Iuri Alcantara (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Save Mart Center. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports December 9, 2017; Fresno, CA, USA; Alejandro Perez (red gloves) fights Iuri Alcantara (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Save Mart Center. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports December 9, 2017; Fresno, CA, USA; Alejandro Perez (red gloves) fights Iuri Alcantara (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Save Mart Center. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports jQuery.extend( window._usmgOptions,{ scriptUrl: "https://s2.wp.com/wp-content/themes/vip/usatoday-plugins/api-galleries/assets", analyticsCallback: "galleryAnalytics", fullscreenUrl: "http://mmajunkie.com/sigallery/MJrfB4uFakw9o8Nabk4Fa/302808", customAnalytics: true, title: "Perez def. Alcantara", feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == "undefined") ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();

April’s UFC on FOX 29 lineup has two new matchups.

The include bantamweights Matthew Lopez (10-2 MMA, 2-2 UFC) vs. Alejandro Perez (19-6-1 MMA, 5-1-1 UFC), and welterweights Abdul Razak Alhassan (9-1 MMA, 3-1 UFC) vs. Muslim Salikhov (13-2 MMA, 0-1 UFC).

UFC officials announced the matchups via azcentral.com.

RelatedGet yourself cageside for Dustin Poirier vs. Justin Gaethje for $160

UFC on FOX 29 takes place April 14 at Gila River Arena in Glendale, Ariz. The main card airs on FOX following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass, though the full fight card and bout order haven’t been finalized.

Lopez looks to get back in the win column. After posting victories over Mitch Gagnon and Johnny Eduardo, the 31-year-old Arizona native missed weight and then suffered a knockout loss to Raphael Assuncao.

He now meets Perez, who’s 5-1-1 in the UFC, which included winning “The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America” in 2014. In his most recent bout, the 28-year-old Mexican fighter scored a decision victory over Iuri Alcantara.

Alhassan, a 32-year-old Ghanaian fighter, is coming off back-to-back knockout victories over Sabah Homasi, the latter of which earned “Performance of the Night” honors. He now meets Salikhov, a 33-year-old Dagestani-born Russian who suffered a submission loss to Alex Garcia in his recent UFC debut.

The latest UFC on FOX 29 card now includes:

  • Dustin Poirier vs. Justin Gaethje
  • Matt Brown vs. Carlos Condit
  • John Moraga vs. Wilson Reis
  • Arjan Bhullar vs. Adam Wieczorek
  • Dhiego Lima vs. Yushin Okami
  • Cortney Casey vs. Michelle Waterson
  • Tim Boetsch vs. Antonio Carlos Junior
  • Shana Dobson vs. Lauren Mueller
  • Krzysztof Jotko vs. Brad Tavares
  • Patrick Williams vs. Luke Sanders
  • Matthew Lopez vs. Alejandro Perez
  • Abdul Razak Alhassan vs. Muslim Salikhov

For more on UFC on FOX 29, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

'The Bat Hang' is MMA's best new post-fight celebration

Jumping atop the cage to celebrate your big MMA victory? That’s so 2017.

Welcome to 2018 – the year of “The Bat Hang.”

This past Saturday at Johnathan Ivey’s Cage Fighting Championship 3 in Murfreesboro, Tenn., Logan Nash was successful in his MMA debut after submitting Aaron Kim in 63 seconds with a crafty triangle choke.

Then came the celebration and the introduction of “The Bat Hang” (via Twitter):

Over the weekend, I invented a new way to celebrate an MMA fight. Introducing: #TheBatHang pic.twitter.com/vneh1FnasX

— Logan Nash (@JiuJitsuLogan) February 13, 2018

Here’s the full fight, including the fight-ending choke (via Facebook):

As far as MMA debuts go, Nash could’ve done worse. If nothing else, he gets points for creativity.

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

Who ya got?! Fighters predict Matt Mitrione vs. Roy Nelson at Bellator 194

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UNCASVILLE, Conn. – Bellator is back in the woods of Southeast Connecticut once again for the continuation of its 2018 heavyweight grand prix tournament.

In the Bellator 194 main event, Matt Mitrione (12-5 MMA, 3-0 BMMA) meets Roy Nelson (22-14 MMA, 1-0 BMMA) in a rematch from when the two fought in the UFC. In their first meeting in December 2012, Nelson won with a first-round knockout.

This time, Mitrione is a slight favorite in the opening-round tournament fight. The winner will move on to the semifinals and keep his hopes alive to become the next Bellator heavyweight champion.

But who are the real experts – other fighters – picking in the fight?

RelatedBellator 194 main-event breakdown: Can Roy Nelson upset tourney favorite Matt Mitrione?

Check out the video above to get the predictions from their fellow fighters on Bellator 194’s main card.

Bellator 194 takes place Friday at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn. The main card airs on Paramount following prelims on MMAjunkie.

For more on Bellator 194, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

Daily debate: Anyone other than Yoel Romero deserve UFC champ Robert Whittaker next?

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Does anyone other than recent UFC 221 main-event winner Yoel Romero deserve the next shot at middleweight champion Robert Whittaker?

That was the question for MMAjunkie Radio’s new daily debate feature.

We polled MMAjunkie readers and MMAjunkie Radio listeners to see who should be next for Whittaker (19-4 MMA, 10-2 UFC), who was supposed to fight Romero (13-2 MMA, 9-1 UFC) at UFC 221 before a staph infection forced him off this past Saturday’s card. Romero instead fought and knocked out ex-champ Rockhold (16-4 MMA, 6-3 UFC) – but he missed weight for the interim title fight and wasn’t eligible for the belt.

Should his inability to make weight for the fairly short-notice fight – or the fact that Romero suffered a decision loss to Whittaker in his bout prior to Rockhold – preclude him from getting the next shot at the champ?

Or should Whittaker, who was later promoted from interim to undisputed champ after the Romero victory, find someone else? After all, Chris Weidman (14-3 MMA, 10-3 UFC), who’s No. 7 in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA middleweight rankings, thinks he should get it. No. 5 Ronaldo Souza (25-5 MMA, 8-2 UFC) and No. 8 Kelvin Gastelum (14-3 MMA, 9-3 UFC) are also options.

But the voters weighed in, and the majority clearly sees Romero as the rightful choice (via Twitter):

Today's @MMAjunkieRadio poll question: With #UFC221 in the books, who should be the next opponent for @UFC middleweight champ Robert Whittaker?

— MMAjunkie (@MMAjunkie) February 14, 2018

Check out the video above as MMAjunkie Radio hosts “Gorgeous” George Garcia, Brian “Goze” Garcia and Dan Tom – as well as guest host/UFC fighter Belal Muhammad – discuss Whittaker’s options and why Romero should get the next shot at the belt.

And for complete coverage of UFC 221, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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

February 10, 2018; Perth, Australia; Yoel Romero defends against Luke Rockhold during UFC 221 at Perth Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stewart Allen-USA TODAY Sports February 10, 2018; Perth, Australia; Yoel Romero defends against Luke Rockhold during UFC 221 at Perth Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stewart Allen-USA TODAY Sports February 10, 2018; Perth, Australia; Yoel Romero moves in with a kick against Luke Rockhold during UFC 221 at Perth Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stewart Allen-USA TODAY Sports February 10, 2018; Perth, Australia; Yoel Romero lands a kick against Luke Rockhold during UFC 221 at Perth Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stewart Allen-USA TODAY Sports February 10, 2018; Perth, Australia; Luke Rockhold moves in with a hit against Yoel Romero during UFC 221 at Perth Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stewart Allen-USA TODAY Sports February 10, 2018; Perth, Australia; Yoel Romero moves in with a hit against Luke Rockhold during UFC 221 at Perth Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stewart Allen-USA TODAY Sports February 10, 2018; Perth, Australia; Luke Rockhold lands a hit against Yoel Romero during UFC 221 at Perth Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stewart Allen-USA TODAY Sports February 10, 2018; Perth, Australia; Luke Rockhold lands a kick against Yoel Romero during UFC 221 at Perth Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stewart Allen-USA TODAY Sports February 10, 2018; Perth, Australia; Yoel Romero defends against Luke Rockhold during UFC 221 at Perth Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stewart Allen-USA TODAY Sports February 10, 2018; Perth, Australia; Yoel Romero moves in with a hit against Luke Rockhold during UFC 221 at Perth Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stewart Allen-USA TODAY Sports February 10, 2018; Perth, Australia; Luke Rockhold defends against Yoel Romero during UFC 221 at Perth Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stewart Allen-USA TODAY Sports February 10, 2018; Perth, Australia; Yoel Romero defends against Luke Rockhold during UFC 221 at Perth Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stewart Allen-USA TODAY Sports February 10, 2018; Perth, Australia; Luke Rockhold reacts following his TKO loss against Yoel Romero during UFC 221 at Perth Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stewart Allen-USA TODAY Sports February 10, 2018; Perth, Australia; Yoel Romero reacts after his victory by TKO against Luke Rockhold during UFC 221 at Perth Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stewart Allen-USA TODAY Sports February 10, 2018; Perth, Australia; Yoel Romero celebrates his victory against Luke Rockhold following UFC 221 at Perth Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stewart Allen-USA TODAY Sports February 10, 2018; Perth, Australia; Luke Rockhold reacts following his TKO loss against Yoel Romero during UFC 221 at Perth Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stewart Allen-USA TODAY Sports February 10, 2018; Perth, Australia; Luke Rockhold reacts following his TKO loss against Yoel Romero during UFC 221 at Perth Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stewart Allen-USA TODAY Sports February 10, 2018; Perth, Australia; Yoel Romero celebrates his victory against Luke Rockhold following UFC 221 at Perth Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stewart Allen-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/FoDGj8jmjQkAP94uK2TTwJ/302789", customAnalytics: true, title: "Romero def. Rockhold", feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == "undefined") ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();

Will Brooks confirms UFC release, announces PFL tourney entry

Nov 18, 2017; Sydney, Australia; Nik Lentz moves in with a hit as Will Brooks counter hits during UFC Fight Night at Qudos Bank Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hyde-USA TODAY Sports Nov 18, 2017; Sydney, Australia; Nik Lentz moves in with a hit as Will Brooks defends during UFC Fight Night at Qudos Bank Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hyde-USA TODAY Sports Nov 18, 2017; Sydney, Australia; Will Brooks moves in with a hit as Nik Lentz defends during UFC Fight Night at Qudos Bank Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hyde-USA TODAY Sports Apr 8, 2017; Buffalo, NY, USA; Will Brooks (red gloves) competes against Charles Oliveira (blue gloves) during UFC 210 at KeyBank Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports Oct 1, 2016; Portland, OR, USA; Will Brooks (red gloves) fights against Alex Oliveira (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Moda Center. Mandatory Credit: Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports Oct 1, 2016; Portland, OR, USA; Will Brooks (red gloves) fights against Alex Oliveira (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Moda Center. Mandatory Credit: Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports Oct 1, 2016; Portland, OR, USA; Will Brooks (red gloves) fights against Alex Oliveira (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Moda Center. Mandatory Credit: Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports Oct 1, 2016; Portland, OR, USA; Will Brooks (red gloves) fights against Alex Oliveira (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Moda Center. Mandatory Credit: Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports Oct 1, 2016; Portland, OR, USA; Will Brooks (red gloves) fights against Alex Oliveira (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Moda Center. Mandatory Credit: Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports Oct 1, 2016; Portland, OR, USA; Will Brooks (red gloves) after losing to Alex Oliveira (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Moda Center. Mandatory Credit: Jaime Valdez-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/9seo3dyYgaQq2mGKNpQzLW/302787", customAnalytics: true, title: "Will Brooks", feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == "undefined") ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();

Will Brooks’ UFC run was a bust, but he’s making no excuses for it, and he’s ready for the next chapter of his career.

Brooks (18-4 MMA, 1-3 UFC), a former Bellator lightweight champion (with a pair of wins over notable Michael Chandler), has announced his UFC release and his plans to join the PFL and one of its upcoming $1 million tournaments.

Brooks, a 31-year-old who went 4-0 in Bellator title fights, was a highly regarded addition to the UFC roster in 2016. However, after a UFC-debut win over Ross Pearson, the American Top Team fighter suffered consecutive losses to Alex Oliveira, Charles Oliveira and Nik Lentz.

As he wrote in a lengthy Instagram post: “I’ve been doing this for a while now and I understand the business side of it. I didn’t do the job that was expected of me and like all jobs I was released, rightfully so. Unfortunately, I under performed with the UFC and didn’t achieve the goal I wanted to with that opportunity. I regret nothing, I took a chance at something I wanted and came up short. The fighter/competitor in me is highly disappointed with myself for allowing things to get away from me.”

Here’s the full post:

PFL (formerly WSOF) recently announced a broadcasting/streaming deal with NBC Sports Group and Facebook. The revamped fight promotion is expected to feature 72 total fighters competing in six tournaments in various weight classes. A regular season kicks off in June, playoffs are scheduled for October, and the season and tourneys conclude with a year-end show on New Year’s Eve.

Additional tournament participants and exact events dates are expected to be announced in the coming weeks.

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

Calvin Kattar vs. Renato Moicano added to UFC 223 in New York

Jan 20, 2018; Boston, MA, USA; Calvin Kattar (red gloves) fights Shane Burgos (blue gloves) during UFC 220 at the TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports Jan 20, 2018; Boston, MA, USA; Calvin Kattar (red gloves) fights Shane Burgos (blue gloves) during UFC 220 at the TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports Jan 20, 2018; Boston, MA, USA; Calvin Kattar (red gloves) fights Shane Burgos (blue gloves) during UFC 220 at the TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports Jan 20, 2018; Boston, MA, USA; Calvin Kattar (red gloves) fights Shane Burgos (blue gloves) during UFC 220 at the TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports Jan 20, 2018; Boston, MA, USA; Calvin Kattar (red gloves) fights Shane Burgos (blue gloves) during UFC 220 at the TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports Jan 20, 2018; Boston, MA, USA; Calvin Kattar (red gloves) fights Shane Burgos (blue gloves) during UFC 220 at the TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports Jan 20, 2018; Boston, MA, USA; Calvin Kattar (red gloves) fights Shane Burgos (blue gloves) during UFC 220 at the TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports Jan 20, 2018; Boston, MA, USA; Calvin Kattar (red gloves) fights Shane Burgos (blue gloves) during UFC 220 at the TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports Jan 20, 2018; Boston, MA, USA; Calvin Kattar (red gloves) fights Shane Burgos (blue gloves) during UFC 220 at the TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports Jan 20, 2018; Boston, MA, USA;Shane Burgos (blue gloves) is examined by medical staff after his loss to Calvin Kattar (not sen) during UFC 220 at the TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports jQuery.extend( window._usmgOptions,{ scriptUrl: "https://s2.wp.com/wp-content/themes/vip/usatoday-plugins/api-galleries/assets", analyticsCallback: "galleryAnalytics", fullscreenUrl: "http://mmajunkie.com/sigallery/jVScFdzHbb6gdUUeVfB4bE/302785", customAnalytics: true, title: "Kattar def. Burgos", feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == "undefined") ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();

UFC 223’s lineup has another featherweight addition.

The fight pits fast-rising Calvin Kattar (18-2 MMA, 2-0 UFC) against Renato Moicano (11-1-1 MMA, 3-1 UFC), officials recently announced.

UFC 223 takes place April 7 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. 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.

RelatedArtem Lobov returns at UFC 223, meets 'Bruce Leroy'

Kattar, a former CES MMA fighter, is 2-0 since joining the UFC in 2017 with a decision victory over Andre Fili and a TKO win over Shane Burgos. The 29-year-old Massachusetts native is now riding an overall winning streak of 10 fights that dates back to 2010.

He now meets Moicano, a former interim Jungle Fight champion who joined the UFC in 2014. He then posted victories over Tom Niinimaki, Zubaira Tukhugov and recent UFC headliner Jeremy Stephens. In his most recent bout, though, the 28-year-old Brazilian suffered a submission loss to top contender Brian Ortega, which marked the first loss of Moicano’s eight-year pro career.

The latest UFC 223 lineup includes:

  • Tony Ferguson vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov – for lightweight title
  • Champ Rose Namajunas vs. Joanna Jedrzejczyk – for women’s strawweight title
  • Felice Herrig vs. Karolina Kowalkiewicz
  • Paul Felder vs. Al Iaquinta
  • Chris Gruetzemacher vs. Joe Lauzon
  • Ray Borg vs. Brandon Moreno
  • Michael Chiesa vs. Anthony Pettis
  • Alex Caceres vs. Artem Lobov
  • Calvin Kattar vs. Renato Moicano
  • Ashlee Evans-Smith vs. Bec Rawlings

For more on UFC 223, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site

UFC 221's 'Thrill and Agony': What Romero said during that post-fight kiss with Rockhold

After defeating Luke Rockhold in this past weekend’s UFC 221 headliner, Yoel Romero had some words – and a kiss – for his opponent.

In the UFC 221 installment of “Thrill and Agony,” we see Romero (13-2 MMA, 9-1 UFC) embrace Rockhold (16-4 MMA, 6-3 UFC) after his third-round knockout win.

After the pay-per-view headliner at Perth Arena in Australia, Romero who missed weight for the interim middleweight title fight and wasn’t eligible for the belt, ventured across the cage and delivered a simple message to his rival. They had a bit of a heated buildup to the fight, but Romero was apparently ready to forget it.

RelatedManager: Yoel Romero nearly didn't fight at UFC 221; UFC 225 possible for return

“And don’t forget, I love you,” Romero tells Rockhold. “I love you, brother.”

“Thrill and Agony” also showcases the range of emotions for winning UFC newcomer Israel Adesanya (12-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC), who scored a TKO win over middleweight Rob Wilkinson (11-2 MMA, 0-2 UFC), as well as Tai Tuivasa (7-0 MMA, 2-0 UFC), who enjoyed a “shoey” after his TKO victory over heavyweight Cyril Asker (9-4 MMA, 2-3 UFC).

RelatedA flip, a finish, and some pretend public urination add up to a memorable UFC debut for Israel Adesanya

Check out the full clip above.

The above video is a preview of “Thrill and Agony.” The full episode is available on UFC Fight Pass for subscribers.

For complete coverage of UFC 221, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

February 10, 2018; Perth, Australia; Yoel Romero defends against Luke Rockhold during UFC 221 at Perth Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stewart Allen-USA TODAY Sports February 10, 2018; Perth, Australia; Yoel Romero defends against Luke Rockhold during UFC 221 at Perth Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stewart Allen-USA TODAY Sports February 10, 2018; Perth, Australia; Yoel Romero moves in with a kick against Luke Rockhold during UFC 221 at Perth Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stewart Allen-USA TODAY Sports February 10, 2018; Perth, Australia; Yoel Romero lands a kick against Luke Rockhold during UFC 221 at Perth Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stewart Allen-USA TODAY Sports February 10, 2018; Perth, Australia; Luke Rockhold moves in with a hit against Yoel Romero during UFC 221 at Perth Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stewart Allen-USA TODAY Sports February 10, 2018; Perth, Australia; Yoel Romero moves in with a hit against Luke Rockhold during UFC 221 at Perth Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stewart Allen-USA TODAY Sports February 10, 2018; Perth, Australia; Luke Rockhold lands a hit against Yoel Romero during UFC 221 at Perth Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stewart Allen-USA TODAY Sports February 10, 2018; Perth, Australia; Luke Rockhold lands a kick against Yoel Romero during UFC 221 at Perth Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stewart Allen-USA TODAY Sports February 10, 2018; Perth, Australia; Yoel Romero defends against Luke Rockhold during UFC 221 at Perth Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stewart Allen-USA TODAY Sports February 10, 2018; Perth, Australia; Yoel Romero moves in with a hit against Luke Rockhold during UFC 221 at Perth Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stewart Allen-USA TODAY Sports February 10, 2018; Perth, Australia; Luke Rockhold defends against Yoel Romero during UFC 221 at Perth Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stewart Allen-USA TODAY Sports February 10, 2018; Perth, Australia; Yoel Romero defends against Luke Rockhold during UFC 221 at Perth Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stewart Allen-USA TODAY Sports February 10, 2018; Perth, Australia; Luke Rockhold reacts following his TKO loss against Yoel Romero during UFC 221 at Perth Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stewart Allen-USA TODAY Sports February 10, 2018; Perth, Australia; Yoel Romero reacts after his victory by TKO against Luke Rockhold during UFC 221 at Perth Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stewart Allen-USA TODAY Sports February 10, 2018; Perth, Australia; Yoel Romero celebrates his victory against Luke Rockhold following UFC 221 at Perth Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stewart Allen-USA TODAY Sports February 10, 2018; Perth, Australia; Luke Rockhold reacts following his TKO loss against Yoel Romero during UFC 221 at Perth Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stewart Allen-USA TODAY Sports February 10, 2018; Perth, Australia; Luke Rockhold reacts following his TKO loss against Yoel Romero during UFC 221 at Perth Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stewart Allen-USA TODAY Sports February 10, 2018; Perth, Australia; Yoel Romero celebrates his victory against Luke Rockhold following UFC 221 at Perth Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stewart Allen-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/FoDGj8jmjQkAP94uK2TTwJ/302781", customAnalytics: true, title: "Romero def. Rockhold", feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == "undefined") ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();

Bellator 194 official weigh-in results (11 a.m. ET)

UNCASVILLE, Conn. – MMAjunkie is on scene and reporting live from today’s early and official Bellator 194 fighter weigh-ins, which kick off at 11 a.m. ET (8 a.m. PT).

The early weigh-ins take place at Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Conn., and precede the ceremonial weigh-ins for the fans, which take place at 5 p.m. ET at Mohegan Sun. The same venue hosts Friday’s event, which has a main card on Paramount following prelims on MMAjunkie.

Among those weighing in are Roy Nelson (22-14 MMA, 1-0 BMMA) and Matt Mitrione (12-5 MMA, 3-0 BMMA), who meet in the main event as part of the opening round of Bellator’s grand prix heavyweight tournament.

The full Bellator 194 weigh-in results include:

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

  • Roy Nelson () vs. Matt Mitrione ()
  • Derek Campos () vs. Patricky Freire ()
  • Liam McGeary () vs. Vadim Nemkov ()
  • Heather Hardy () vs. Ana Julaton ()
  • Tywan Claxton () vs. Jose Perez ()

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

  • Pat Casey () vs. Tyler Hamilton ()
  • Peter Nascimento () vs. Kastriot Xhema ()
  • Dean Hancock () vs. Marcus Surin ()
  • Walter Howard () vs. Jarod Trice ()
  • Regivaldo Carvalho () vs. Tom English ()
  • Mike Kimbel () vs. Geoffrey Then ()
  • Ronie Arana Leon () vs. Ross Richardson ()

For more on Bellator 194, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

Video: Watch today's Bellator 194 ceremonial weigh-ins live on MMAjunkie at 5 p.m. ET

UNCASVILLE, Conn. – Bellator 194 ceremonial fighter weigh-ins take place today, and you can catch a live video stream of the proceedings here on MMAjunkie at 5 p.m. ET (2 p.m. PT).

The weigh-ins take place at Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Conn. The Mohegan Sun Arena hosts Friday’s event, which has a main card on Paramount following prelims on MMAjunkie.

In addition to the video stream above, you can check out the early and official Bellator 194 weigh-in results from earlier in the day.

For more on Bellator 194, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

Check out the trailer for KSW 43, where tattoos are definitely required

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I’m not sure exactly why, but I find myself looking forward to each new trailer Poland’s KSW puts out.

I don’t speak Polish, so I don’t understand anything that’s said. I’ve traveled to Poland twice for UFC events, and like most countries I’ve visited, I did take time to learn how to order a frosty beverage: “piwo,” in this case. But KSW’s production team does a solid job of catching my interest, anyway, with fantastic visual effects. The latest effort is no exception.

KSW 43 takes place April 14 at Centennial Hall in Warsaw. As with all KSW events, the card streams globally via online pay-per-view. The main event isn’t set just yet – Olympic bronze medalist wrestler Damian Janikowski (2-0) will face off against an opponent yet to be determined. But those are small details that are hardly enough reason to not cut a good promo.

Dricus du Plessis (11-1) faces Roberto Soldic (13-2) in the night’s co-feature.

Slightly less mysterious than the KSW 42 trailer, this latest edition simply shows some intense fighting – in and out of the cage – between some of the night’s featured competitors. Key takeaway: You need tattoos if you’re going to succeed at KSW 42. They can be temporary, but you better bring them if you want your hand raised.

Dan Tom isn’t going to bring you breakdowns like that. You’re welcome.

Check out the trailer in the video above.

For more on KSW 43, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

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

Heather Hardy, Ana Julaton head down boxing-MMA crossover road at Bellator 194

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UNCASVILLE, Conn. – Under the watch of promotion President Scott Coker, Bellator has not shied away from doing things a little differently in the mixed martial arts space when it’s called for.

On Friday, boxing and MMA will meet in Bellator’s latest gamble on trying something unique. And while it’s far from Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor, their recent fight may be fresh enough to give a little push to what will go down between Heather Hardy and Ana Julaton at Bellator 194.

Hardy (1-1 MMA, 1-1 BMMA) and Julaton (2-3 MMA, 0-1 BMMA) are professional boxers. They’re new to the cage, but their prominence in women’s boxing is well known. Hardy, a 36-year-old single mother from Brooklyn, is 20-0 as a boxer and holds the WBC international women’s featherweight title. San Francisco-based Julaton, 37, is 14-4-1 in the ring and is a former WBO women’s super bantamweight champion.

What’s unique about their fight at Bellator 194 at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn. (9 p.m. ET, Paramount Network) is when it’s over and one of them gets her hand raised, the talk almost immediately will move to the rematch – which will take place later this year in a boxing match put together by their promoters in that sport.

“I’m just glad that Bellator was on board, my boxing promoter was on board, her boxing promoter was on board – this is something that’s going to be the first of its kind,” Julaton on Wednesday told USA TODAY Sports. “It’s going to be a classic fight, and I’m excited it’s going to promote mixed martial arts, (not to mention) women’s mixed martial arts and women’s boxing.”

Like any classic combat sports rivalry, it helps when there’s at least a little beef between the two fighters. For Hardy and Julaton, that started this past October when both fought on the same card at Bellator 185. They weren’t fighting each other, but already the talk had started about when that might be. The fact they both lost that night didn’t do much to stem the tide of a fight most presumed was an eventuality.

That Bellator is willing to let two of its most recognizable women’s flyweights toggle back and forth between MMA and boxing might say something about the kind of opportunity that is there – not just for Hardy and Julaton, but for future fighters, as well.

“You’re starting to see a lot of female boxers cross over to MMA because the short-term pay is way, way better,” Hardy said. “The promotion side in MMA is way, way better. So more female boxers are crossing over, but we’re not crossing over because we don’t still love boxing. So this is the first, but I’m sure it will be the first of many where you’ll see big champions crossing back and forth.”

The timing of their fight, just six months after UFC champion McGregor crossed over to fight Mayweather in a mega-boxing match, and on the heels of Mayweather’s hints that he might try an MMA fight, seems to be a bonus for Julaton.

“With Mayweather fighting McGregor, it caused a domino effect and caused a lot more interest,” Julaton said. “… This is untapped territory, so we’ll see how it all folds out.”

But don’t get it too mixed up. This is still a sport about punching the opponent across the mouth. And for Hardy, the timing works out well for reasons beyond advancing women’s MMA and women’s boxing.

“She’s running around talking about how I’m afraid to fight her,” Hardy said. “So of course I want to do it now and don’t want to wait. But the God’s honest truth is I don’t care about her. Who is she?”

For more on Bellator 194, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

Manager: Yoel Romero nearly didn't fight at UFC 221, UFC 225 possible for return

Middleweight contender Yoel Romero nearly didn’t fight Luke Rockhold at UFC 221, according to his manager.

Romero’s participation was in question up until three hours prior to his stunning win this past Saturday at Perth Arena in Perth, Australia, Malki Kawa today told MMAjunkie Radio.

“He almost pulled out of the fight,” Kawa said. “The man rehydrated, went to sleep the next morning, and still he wasn’t feeling the best. He even told me, ‘I’m not 100 percent.’ He could have fooled me.”

Kawa said the strain of cutting weight on short notice and the stress of traveling halfway around the world badly affected Romero (13-2 MMA, 9-1 UFC), who’s known as one of the bigger middleweights on the UFC’s roster. After initially missing weight by three pounds for the interim middleweight title bout against Rockhold (16-4 MMA, 6-3 UFC), he went back to the sauna with three hours to make the limit.

Kawa said Romero gave everything he could and still wound up shedding only an additional third of a pound. UFC executive Donna Marcolini even sat with the fighter in the sauna for the last hour for encouragement, and still he could not sweat.

Romero had barely slept the night before and was cramping up on the day of the fight, Kawa furthered.

Critics immediately questioned Romero’s professionalism given the huge gap between his weight and his required target. His manager dismissed the idea that Romero sought an advantage and estimated a weight-miss fine cost Romero a whopping $105,000.

“Nobody that I know wants to lose $100,000 over three pounds,” Kawa said. “The man wasn’t trying to do that. He tried, and he couldn’t do it. He paid the penalty.”

Given Romero’s turnaround in the octagon, Kawa said the 40-year-old Cuban-born competitor should be considered among the best to fight in the UFC.

Romero didn’t emerge from his meeting with Rockhold unscathed; he immediately sat down on the canvas nursing a leg injury. Doctors eventually found a deep bone bruise that will require one-to-two weeks of healing.

When he spoke with MMAjunkie, Kawa was about to meet with Romero to determine when he’ll be able to face champ Robert Whittaker, who’s also recovering from health issues that forced him out of UFC 221.

Whittaker’s timeline will be the biggest factor in determining when he faces Romero, Kawa said. Although manager likes the idea of a showdown at UFC 225, which takes place June 9 at United Center in Chicago, he said the date could be any time this summer.

“I’m thinking that (UFC 225) might be the card, only because his leg is just a deep shin bruise, and he’ll be off of it for this week and maybe next week,” Kawa said. “I think it’s enough time. The thing is Whittaker; his health is the one in question right now. The poor guy had staph and then he got the chicken pox, so if he’s healthy and able to have a full training camp. I’m going to figure that out today.”

For more on UFC 225, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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

February 10, 2018; Perth, Australia; Yoel Romero defends against Luke Rockhold during UFC 221 at Perth Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stewart Allen-USA TODAY Sports February 10, 2018; Perth, Australia; Yoel Romero defends against Luke Rockhold during UFC 221 at Perth Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stewart Allen-USA TODAY Sports February 10, 2018; Perth, Australia; Yoel Romero moves in with a kick against Luke Rockhold during UFC 221 at Perth Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stewart Allen-USA TODAY Sports February 10, 2018; Perth, Australia; Yoel Romero lands a kick against Luke Rockhold during UFC 221 at Perth Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stewart Allen-USA TODAY Sports February 10, 2018; Perth, Australia; Luke Rockhold moves in with a hit against Yoel Romero during UFC 221 at Perth Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stewart Allen-USA TODAY Sports February 10, 2018; Perth, Australia; Yoel Romero moves in with a hit against Luke Rockhold during UFC 221 at Perth Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stewart Allen-USA TODAY Sports February 10, 2018; Perth, Australia; Luke Rockhold lands a hit against Yoel Romero during UFC 221 at Perth Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stewart Allen-USA TODAY Sports February 10, 2018; Perth, Australia; Luke Rockhold lands a kick against Yoel Romero during UFC 221 at Perth Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stewart Allen-USA TODAY Sports February 10, 2018; Perth, Australia; Yoel Romero defends against Luke Rockhold during UFC 221 at Perth Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stewart Allen-USA TODAY Sports February 10, 2018; Perth, Australia; Yoel Romero moves in with a hit against Luke Rockhold during UFC 221 at Perth Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stewart Allen-USA TODAY Sports February 10, 2018; Perth, Australia; Luke Rockhold defends against Yoel Romero during UFC 221 at Perth Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stewart Allen-USA TODAY Sports February 10, 2018; Perth, Australia; Yoel Romero defends against Luke Rockhold during UFC 221 at Perth Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stewart Allen-USA TODAY Sports February 10, 2018; Perth, Australia; Luke Rockhold reacts following his TKO loss against Yoel Romero during UFC 221 at Perth Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stewart Allen-USA TODAY Sports February 10, 2018; Perth, Australia; Yoel Romero reacts after his victory by TKO against Luke Rockhold during UFC 221 at Perth Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stewart Allen-USA TODAY Sports February 10, 2018; Perth, Australia; Yoel Romero celebrates his victory against Luke Rockhold following UFC 221 at Perth Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stewart Allen-USA TODAY Sports February 10, 2018; Perth, Australia; Luke Rockhold reacts following his TKO loss against Yoel Romero during UFC 221 at Perth Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stewart Allen-USA TODAY Sports February 10, 2018; Perth, Australia; Luke Rockhold reacts following his TKO loss against Yoel Romero during UFC 221 at Perth Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stewart Allen-USA TODAY Sports February 10, 2018; Perth, Australia; Yoel Romero celebrates his victory against Luke Rockhold following UFC 221 at Perth Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stewart Allen-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/FoDGj8jmjQkAP94uK2TTwJ/302749", customAnalytics: true, title: "Romero def. Rockhold", feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == "undefined") ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();

Carla Esparza vs. Claudia Gadelha announced for UFC 225 in Chicago

Former women’s strawweight champion Carla Esparza (13-4 MMA, 4-2 UFC) will meet onetime title challenger Claudia Gadelha (15-3 MMA, 4-3 UFC) at UFC 225.

UFC officials today announced the matchup for the June 9 pay-per-view event at United Center in Chicago. The contest marks the first official fight announced for the card.

Gadelha is currently ranked No. 4 in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA strawweight rankings, while Esparza sits at No. 7.

Esparza vs. Gadelha has long been discussed as a potential matchup in the 115-pound division, dating back to their days under the Invicta FC banner when two scheduled contests between the fighters failed to come to fruition.

Esparza was the UFC’s first strawweight champion, claiming the belt with a submission win over now-champ Rose Namajunas at The Ultimate Fighter 20 Finale. Esparza would lose the belt to Joanna Jedrzejczykin her next outing but has since gone 3-1 in the octagon, including recent back-to-back wins over Maryna Moroz and, most recently, Cynthia Calvillo.

Meanwhile, Gadelha looks to rebound from a hard-fought “Fight of the Night” loss to Jessica Andrade at this past September’s UFC Fight Night 117 event in Japan. Prior to that, Gadelha had earned consecutive wins over  Karolina Kowalkiewicz and Cortney Casey.

For more on UFC 225, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

Dec 30, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Cynthia Calvillo brings down Carla Esparza during UFC 219 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports Dec 30, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Carla Esparza moves in with a hit against Cynthia Calvillo during UFC 219 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports Dec 30, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Cynthia Calvillo pins Carla Esparza to the mat during UFC 219 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports Dec 30, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Carla Esparza applies a hold against Cynthia Calvillo during UFC 219 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports Dec 30, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Carla Esparza lands hits against Cynthia Calvillo during UFC 219 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports Dec 30, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Carla Esparza lands hits against Cynthia Calvillo during UFC 219 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports Dec 30, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Carla Esparza pins Cynthia Calvillo to the mat during UFC 219 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports Dec 30, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Carla Esparza lands a hit against Cynthia Calvillo during UFC 219 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports Dec 30, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Cynthia Calvillo moves in with a hit as Carla Esparza defends during UFC 219 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports Dec 30, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Cynthia Calvillo defends against Carla Esparza during UFC 219 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports Dec 30, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Carla Esparza moves in with a hit as Cynthia Calvillo defends during UFC 219 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports Dec 30, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Cynthia Calvillo moves in with a hit as Carla Esparza defends during UFC 219 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports Dec 30, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Carla Esparza lands a hit against Cynthia Calvillo during UFC 219 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports Dec 30, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Carla Esparza lands a hit against Cynthia Calvillo during UFC 219 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports jQuery.extend( window._usmgOptions,{ scriptUrl: "https://s2.wp.com/wp-content/themes/vip/usatoday-plugins/api-galleries/assets", analyticsCallback: "galleryAnalytics", fullscreenUrl: "http://mmajunkie.com/sigallery/xgkkqf9RYXeSR8QCKAbjGP/302744", customAnalytics: true, title: "Esparza def. Calvillo", feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == "undefined") ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();

He's missing Valentine's Day, but Matt Mitrione going straight from Bellator 194 to daddy-daughter dance

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UNCASVILLE, Conn. – Make no mistake: Matt Mitrione likes getting in the cage to compete. And he likes winning. And he likes the thought of becoming the next Bellator heavyweight champion.

But if given the choice, he’d be home this week to spend Valentine’s Day with his daughter.

The way it stands, Mitrione (12-5 MMA, 3-0 BMMA) has a job to do Saturday night when he headlines Bellator 194 at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn., in a Paramount-televised rematch with Roy Nelson (22-14 MMA, 1-0 BMMA). Their fight is part of the opening round of Bellator’s heavyweight grand prix tournament, which Mitrione is the betting favorite to win to become the next champ.

After he fights Friday, he’s set to be on one of the first flights out Saturday morning so he can get home to a different dance partner. He’s got a daddy-daughter dance to think about, and he said he hopes his face isn’t showing too many signs of his fight with Nelson. (The first time they fought, in the UFC, Nelson knocked Mitrione out in the first round.)

It won’t be the first time Mitrione has had a school function with his daughter soon after a fight. When he fought Travis Browne in what turned out to be his final UFC fight before coming to Bellator as a free agent, Mitrione suffered a gruesome eye injury from an inadvertent poke.

Check out the video above to hear Mitrione recall that injury and what his daughter thought about it when father-daughter picture day came up. Then don’t miss his main event Friday against Nelson on Paramount.

And for more on Bellator 194, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

Jon Jones' CSAC hearing set for Feb. 27

Former UFC light heavyweight champ Jon Jones will soon go before the California State Athletic Commission to answer to an alleged steroid offense at UFC 214.

According to a CSAC agenda posted on its website, Jones’ hearing will take place on Feb. 27 in Anaheim, Calif. The hearing venue, a DoubleTree Suites by Hilton Anaheim Resort, sits a stone’s throw from Disneyland.

The hearing promises at least some resolution to the disciplinary cloud hanging over Jones’ (22-1 MMA, 16-1 UFC) head since the UFC’s anti-doping partner, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, announced he’d failed an in-competition drug test, coming up positive for the steroid turinabol. Jones has denied that he knowingly took the banned substance, and his attorney looked forward to appealing the decision with USADA.

Jones’ case with the anti-doping agency is still pending. He faces a potential four-year suspension for his second anti-doping offense under the UFC’s anti-doping program; he failed a pre-fight drug test prior to a title unifier at UFC 200 for two banned substances and received a one-year suspension. His longtime manager, Malki Kawa, confidently predicted Jones would fight again before the end of this year. CSAC, meanwhile, is moving forward with its case, which is independent of USADA as the regulator of record for the July 29 pay-per-view event in Anaheim.

CSAC temporarily suspended Jones and overturned his title-winning knockout of Daniel Cormier (20-1 MMA, 9-1 UFC) to a no-contest when his B sample confirmed an initial positive for the banned steroid turinabol. Jones was subsequently stripped of the UFC light heavyweight title and Cormier was reinstated as champ.

Jones and his legal team will have a chance to answer for the alleged steroid violation, which typically carries a one-year suspension and $2,500 fine. The team’s answer could provide a preview as to Jones’ strategy in explaining how the banned substance – an drug atypical in current anti-doping cases – got into his system on the night of the fight. The commission could modify the punishment levied against Jones if swayed by the testimony.

In an effort to clear his name and prove he didn’t knowingly take turabinol, Jones reportedly took and passed a polygraph test. The two-time champ also received support from UFC anti-doping czar Jeff Novitzky, who opined the fighter’s failure didn’t indicate intentional use.

Cormier (20-1 MMA, 9-1 UFC), who recently defended the title he got back, is unconvinced by Jones’ recent efforts to clear his name and is moving on with his career. In July, he will attempt to add another belt to his collection when he challenges for the heavyweight title against current champ Stipe Miocic (18-2 MMA, 12-2 UFC).

For complete coverage of UFC 214, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

July 29, 2017; Anaheim, CA, USA; Jon Jones before the match against Daniel Cormier during UFC 214 at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports Jan. 31, 2009; Las Vegas, NV, USA; UFC fighter Jon Jones (red trunks) against Stephan Bonnar (black trunks) during the light heavyweight swing bout in UFC 94 at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports Jan. 31, 2009; Las Vegas, NV, USA; UFC fighter Stephan Bonnar (black trunks) is lifted off the mat by Jon Jones (red trunks) during the light heavyweight swing bout in UFC 94 at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports Jan. 31, 2009; Las Vegas, NV, USA; UFC fighter Jon Jones (red trunks) stands above Stephan Bonnar (black trunks) during the light heavyweight swing bout in UFC 94 at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports Dec 10, 2011; Toronto, ON, Canada; UFC fighter Jon Jones before his fight against fighter Lyoto Machida (not pictured) before a light heavyweight bout at UFC 140 at the Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports Dec 10, 2011; Toronto, ON, Canada; UFC fighter Jon Jones (right) against fighter Lyoto Machida during a light heavyweight bout at UFC 140 at the Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports Dec 10, 2011; Toronto, ON, Canada; UFC fighter Jon Jones (left) against fighter Lyoto Machida during a light heavyweight bout at UFC 140 at the Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports Dec 10, 2011; Toronto, ON, Canada; UFC fighter Jon Jones after defeating fighter Lyoto Machida (not pictured) during a light heavyweight bout at UFC 140 at the Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports Dec 10, 2011; Toronto, ON, Canada; UFC fighter Jon Jones wears the championship belt after defeating fighter Lyoto Machida (not pictured) during a light heavyweight bout at UFC 140 at the Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports Apr 21, 2012; Atlanta, GA, USA; Jon Jones before fighting Rashad Evans in the main event and light heavyweight title bout during UFC 145 at Philips Arena. Mandatory Credit: Paul Abell-USA TODAY Sports Apr 21, 2012; Atlanta, GA, USA; Jon Jones (left) fights Rashad Evans in the main event and light heavyweight title bout during UFC 145 at Philips Arena. Mandatory Credit: Paul Abell-USA TODAY Sports Apr 21, 2012; Atlanta, GA, USA; Jon Jones (left) fights Rashad Evans in the main event and light heavyweight title bout during UFC 145 at Philips Arena. Mandatory Credit: Paul Abell-USA TODAY Sports Apr 21, 2012; Atlanta, GA, USA; Jon Jones (left) fights Rashad Evans in the main event and light heavyweight title bout during UFC 145 at Philips Arena. Mandatory Credit: Paul Abell-USA TODAY Sports Apr 21, 2012; Atlanta, GA, USA; Jon Jones reacts to beating Rashad Evans in the main event and light heavyweight title bout during UFC 145 at Philips Arena. Jon Jones won the bout by unanimous decision. Mandatory Credit: Paul Abell-USA TODAY Sports Sep 22, 2012; Toronto, ON, Canada; UFC fighter Jon Jones against fighter Vitor Belfort (not pictured) during a light heavyweight bout at UFC 152 at the Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports September 22, 2012; Toronto, ON, CANADA; Jon Jones kicks Vitor Belfort in the light heavyweight championship during UFC 152 at the Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports September 22, 2012; Toronto, ON, CANADA; Jon Jones defeats Vitor Belfort on this pin in the light heavyweight championship during UFC 152 at the Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports September 22, 2012; Toronto, ON, CANADA; Jon Jones wears the championship belt after defeating Vitor Belfort (not pictured) in the light heavyweight championship during UFC 152 at the Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports Apr 26, 2013; Newark, NJ, USA; Jon Jones (left) and Chael Sonnen face off after the weigh-in at the Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports Apr 27, 2013; Newark, NJ, USA; Jon Jones (right) prior to fighting Chael Sonnen (left) during UFC 159 at the Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports Apr 27, 2013; Newark, NJ, USA; Jon Jones (black shorts) competes against Chael Sonnen (white shorts) during UFC 159 at the Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports Apr 27, 2013; Newark, NJ, USA; Jon Jones (black shorts) celebrates defeating Chael Sonnen (white shorts) during UFC 159 at the Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports Sep 18, 2013; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; UFC Light heavyweight champion Jon Jones poses with Toronto Blue Jays mascot and pitcher Mark Buehrle (56) prior to a game against the the New York Yankees at the Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports Sep 21, 2013; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Jon Jones enters the octagon before his fight against Alexander Gustafsson (not pictured) during their light heavyweight championship bout at UFC 165 at the Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports Sep 21, 2013; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Jon Jones moments before the start of his fight against Alexander Gustafsson (not pictured) during their light heavyweight championship bout at UFC 165 at the Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports Sep 21, 2013; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Jon Jones connects on a kick against Alexander Gustafsson (left) during their Light Heavyweight Championship bout at UFC 165 at the Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports Sep 21, 2013; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Jon Jones fights Alexander Gustafsson (right) during their light heavyweight championship bout at UFC 165 at the Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports Sep 21, 2013; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Blood bleeds from a cut on the eye of Jon Jones during his fight against Alexander Gustafsson (not pictured) during their light heavyweight championship bout at UFC 165 at the Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports Sep 21, 2013; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Jon Jones after his fight against Alexander Gustafsson (not pictured) during their light heavyweight championship bout at UFC 165 at the Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports Sep 21, 2013; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Jon Jones reacts after being handed the decision against Alexander Gustafsson during their light heavyweight championship bout at UFC 165 at the Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports December 13, 2013; Sacramento, CA, USA; UFC light heavyweight Jon Jones (right) is interviewed on stage for the announcement of the EA Sports UFC video game cover winner before the official weigh-in for UFC on FOX 9 at Sleep Train Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports Apr 26, 2014; Baltimore, MD, USA; Jon Jones kicks Glover Teixeira in the head during the UFC light heavy weight championship fight at Baltimore Arena. Jones retained the light heavy height championship by defeating Teixeria. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports Apr 26, 2014; Baltimore, MD, USA; Jon Jones hits Glover Teixeira with an upper cut during the UFC light heavy weight championship fight at Baltimore Arena. Jones retained the light heavy height championship by defeating Teixeria. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports Apr 26, 2014; Baltimore, MD, USA; Jon Jones puts his arms in the air after the UFC light heavy weight championship fight against Glover Texeira at Baltimore Arena. Jones retained the light heavy height championship by defeating Teixeria. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports Jan 2, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Jon Jones during the weigh in for his Light Heavyweight Title Bout against Daniel Cormier (not pictured) at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports Jan 2, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; UFC President Dana White separates Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier during the weigh in for their Light Heavyweight Title Bout at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports Jan 3, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Jon Jones (red gloves) and Daniel Cormier (blue gloves) compete in the light heavyweight title fight at UFC 182 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports Jan 3, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Jon Jones (red gloves) and Daniel Cormier (blue gloves) compete in the light heavyweight title fight at UFC 182 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports Jan 3, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Jon Jones (red gloves) and Daniel Cormier (blue gloves) compete in the light heavyweight title fight at UFC 182 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports Jan 3, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Jon Jones (red gloves) and Daniel Cormier (blue gloves) compete during their light heavyweight title fight at UFC 182 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Jones won. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports Jan 3, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Official referee Herb Dean separates Jon Jones (red gloves) and Daniel Cormier (blue gloves) as they fight after the buzzer to end their light heavyweight title fight at UFC 182 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Jones won. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports Jan 3, 2015; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Jon Jones (red gloves) celebrates after defeating Daniel Cormier (not pictured) in their light heavyweight title fight at UFC 182 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Jones won. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports Mar 4, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; UFC fighter Jon Jones holds his championship belt during a press conference prior to weigh-ins for UFC 196 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports Mar 4, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; UFC president Dana White (center) separates fighter Jon Jones (right) from Daniel Cormier during a press conference prior to weigh-ins for UFC 196 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports Apr 23, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Jon Jones (red gloves) before his fight against Ovince Saint Preux (blue gloves) during UFC 197 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports Apr 23, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Jon Jones (red gloves) before his fight against Ovince Saint Preux (blue gloves) during UFC 197 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports Apr 23, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Jon Jones (red gloves) competes against Ovince Saint Preux (blue gloves) during UFC 197 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports Apr 23, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Jon Jones (red gloves) competes against Ovince Saint Preux (blue gloves) during UFC 197 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports Apr 23, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Jon Jones (red gloves) reacts after defeating Ovince Saint Preux (blue gloves) during UFC 197 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports July 29, 2017; Anaheim, CA, USA; Jon Jones before the match against Daniel Cormier during UFC 214 at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports July 29, 2017; Anaheim, CA, USA; Daniel Cormier defends as Jon Jones moves in for a hit during UFC 214 at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports July 29, 2017; Anaheim, CA, USA; Jon Jones lands an elbow hit as Daniel Cormier defends during UFC 214 at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports July 29, 2017; Anaheim, CA, USA; Jon Jones lands a hit against Daniel Cormier during UFC 214 at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports July 29, 2017; Anaheim, CA, USA; Jon Jones reacts following his TKO victory against Daniel Cormier during UFC 214 at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports July 29, 2017; Anaheim, CA, USA; UFC president Dana White puts the championship belt on Jon Jones following his victory against Daniel Cormier during UFC 214 at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. 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Bellator 194's Derek Campos: Rematch with Patricky Freire should be title eliminator

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UNCASVILLE, Conn. – Veteran Bellator lightweight Derek Campos wasn’t bothered when a second fight with Patricky Freire came across his desk. Of greater concern was the payoff.

Rematches are nothing new for the 29-year-old veteran. But potential title shots don’t come around every day.

“This should be an eliminator for the No. 1 spot to fight for the title,” Campos (19-6 MMA, 8-4 BMMA) told MMAjunkie in advance of Friday’s Bellator 194, where he’ll face Freire (18-8 MMA, 11-7 BMMA) in the Paramount-televised co-main at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn. “Come Friday night, that’s going to be the one thing on my mind, is one step closer to goal.

“Unfortunately for Patricky, he’s in my way, and I want to take him out.”

Campos seeks revenge nearly four years after the two met in the semifinals of a lightweight tournament under Bellator’s previous tournament structure. Campos is now on a four-fight win streak he built in the wake of a 1-3 skid that started with a TKO loss to Freire.

With a potential title shot on the line, Campos said he’s going to make sure he doesn’t fall short.

“I’m sure everybody expects me to go in there and brawl it out with (Freire),” he said. “But I have a strategy that I’m going to go in there and implement, and I see myself breaking him this fight.

“I want to grind him out, and I want to break his will, and I want the ref to pull me off of him.”

Campos isn’t very impressed with the recent wins Freire brings to the table. The elder “Pitbull” brother owns victories over ex-champs Josh Thomson and Benson Henderson, but Campos said the Brazilian fighter has played it safe.

Still, he expects Freire will want to make the same kind of statment he does to convince Bellator brass that a title shot is warranted.

“Patricky is a game opponent, even though his last two fights, the way he won wasn’t really spectacular,” Campos said. “You can’t ever underestimate a guy like Patricky. Do I expect a war come Friday night? Yeah, I do.”

With a long-anticipated rematch between ex-champ Michael Chandler and champ Brent Primus now set for April 13, Campos said the winner of Friday night’s rematch is perfectly positioned to challenge for the belt. All he needs to do is deliver.

“Going into this fight, I feel like I’m in the best shape I’ve ever been on in my career,” he said. “The four-fight streak that I’m on right now, it’s a great feeling, because each fight, I’ve grown and changed some of my strategy and really took on each opponent with everything I had.”

For more on Bellator 194, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

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