MMA Junkie News

Stream or download MMAjunkie Radio #2567 with Ryan Bader

Stream or download Thursday’s episode of MMAjunkie Radio with guests Ryan Bader and Jason Buchamer.

Bader discussed his upcoming spot in Bellator’s heavyweight grand prix, which takes place over the course of 2018 and will crown a new champion. Buchamer called in to recap the latest episode of “The Ultimate Fighter 26.”

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


Filed under: Bellator, News, Radio

10 reasons to watch UFC-Sydney, none of which include hotel drama

The UFC is in Australia on Saturday for UFC Fight Night 121. Headlining the event is a heavyweight scrap between former champion Fabricio Werdum and Marcin Tybura.

Werdum steps into the octagon having fought 42 days ago at UFC 216. He defeated Walt Harris via first-round submission on that card. Werdum got the nod for the Australia card after the UFC pulled Tybura’s original opponent, Mark Hunt, from the event over medical concerns. Tybura’s most recent fight was in June. He earned a decision over former champion Andrei Arlovski in that contest. There’s no doubt two consecutive wins over former champs would boost his status in the division.

In the co-main event, two Australian fighters meet when Bec Rawlings welcomes UFC newcomer Jessica-Rose Clark to the octagon.

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.

Here are 10 reasons to watch the event.

1. The race is on

With heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic unbooked for his next title defense, the rest of the division is left to jockey for position to be that next opponent. That includes the man Miocic took the title from, Werdum.

Werdum, currently, ranked No. 3 in the division according to the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA heavyweight rankings, has his work cut out for him in that regard since he’s gone 2-1 since his loss to Miocic. Knowing that, Werdum (22-7-1 MMA, 10-4 UFC) seems to be taking the volume route back to title consideration. He faces Tybura (16-2 MMA, 3-1 UFC) in Sydney a few weeks removed from his recent win over Harris.

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Tybura, the man who hopes to play spoiler to Werdum’s plan, is currently an honorable mention in the rankings.

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Rawlings is under pressure heading into her first flyweight bout. She’s 2-3 since she joined the UFC, with losses in her past two outings. Rawlings was also one-and-a-half pounds overweight ahead of her most recent fight, a decision loss to Tecia Torres.

Rawlings’ (7-6 MMA, 2-3 UFC) opponent, Clark (7-4 MMA, 0-0 UFC), steps in as a late injury replacement for Joanne Calderwood.

While Clark might be an unknown quantity, don’t expect her to wilt under the bright lights of the UFC. In her two most recent fights, she faced former Strikeforce bantamweight champion Sarah Kaufman and veteran Carina Damm. She lost to Kaufman and defeated Damm; both fights went the distance.

Clark mostly throws power punches and heavy low kicks with an occasional combination. She struggles if the fight hits the ground and she ends up in bottom position. Expect her to try and keep this one standing.

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It’s no surprise to see Australia-born Jake Matthews on this card. The 23-year-old has fought seven times for the UFC. Six of those outings took place in his home country or in nearby New Zealand. However, Matthews enters this fight on a two-fight losing skid. His most recent defeat was a November 2016 split-decision loss to Andrew Holbrook.

Healed up after undergoing surgery on both hips, Matthews (10-3 MMA, 4-3 UFC) moves back to welterweight, where he began his MMA career, for this fight against Bojan Velickovic (15-5-1 MMA, 2-2-1 UFC). Like Matthews, the Serbian is coming off a loss. He dropped a unanimous decision to Darren Till in his most recent bout.

Early in his career, it seemed the UFC had Matthews pegged as a promotable fighter for its Australian market. His losing skid seems to have dampened that enthusiasm, as he dropped from the co-main event at UFC Fight Night 101 to the middle of the main card in Sydney.

If the added weight and repaired hips get Matthews back in the win column, expect the promotion’s interest in him to revive.

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Daniel Kelly doesn’t have the chiseled body of many UFC fighters. The 40-year-old Australian’s knees appear to be held together by braces and tape. He’s been an underdog in almost all of his UFC fights.

Despite these apparent shortcomings, Kelly went unbeaten between November 2015 and March 2017. His most prominent win was a unanimous-decision victory over former light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans at UFC 209. Kelly’s feel-good story then ended in June, when Derek Brunson knocked him out.

Kelly’s opponent, Elias Theodorou, is also coming off a loss. The 29-year-old Canadian dropped a decision to Brad Tavares in July.

Kelly (13-2 MMA, 6-2 UFC) is a four-time Olympian in judo, so expect him to try to work from the clinch against his younger opponent. As for Theodorou (13-2 MMA, 5-2 UFC), he’s one of the more cerebral fighters at middleweight. He crafts a gameplan specific to his opponents, and he generally sticks with that approach.

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Alex Volkanovski could become the next big thing out of Australia. He joined the UFC in 2016 with a record of 13-1 and a long list of titles from smaller MMA promotions. Now 2-0 with the UFC, he faces Shane Young at featherweight.

Volkanovski is a powerful striker with good takedown skills, but he excels on the ground. When he gets his opponent to the mat, the Australian likes to posture up and rain down heavy ground strikes. Those ground strikes earned him a second-round TKO in his UFC debut.

Young (11-3 MMA, 0-0 UFC) is the third scheduled opponent for Volkanovski (15-1 MMA, 2-0 UFC) for this card. The New Zealand-born fighter’s two previously booked opponents withdrew due to injury. Young, who is on a five-fight winning streak, stepped up on less than a weeks’ notice to take this fight.

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Ryan Benoit has struggled since joining the UFC’s flyweight division in 2013. He’s alternated wins and losses and been unable to generate any momentum, even with a knockout of Sergio Pettis in 2015. His most recent fight was a split-decision loss to Brandon Moreno.

Benoit (9-5 MMA, 2-3 UFC) faces Ashkan Mokhtarian in Sydney. Mokhtarian (13-2 MMA, 0-1 UFC) debuted with the UFC in June. He entered that fight against John Moraga with 12 career stoppage victories. The Iranian-born fighter left that matchup with his second career loss.

Like Mokhtarian, when Benoit does win, it’s usually via stoppage. He has seven knockouts and one submission in his eight victories. With their recent losses, expect both of these men to do their best to avoid a second consecutive defeat.

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Will Brooks joined the UFC’s lightweight division with a lot of hype. Before he signed with the promotion, the former Bellator champion ran off eight straight wins. He won his UFC debut, but Brooks has since been stopped in his two most recent bouts by unranked fighters.

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To date, Brooks’ performances with the UFC have been uninspired. That could change when he faces Nik Lentz, who is also coming off a loss. If you recall, the UFC pulled Lentz (27-8-2 MMA, 11-5-1 UFC) from his scheduled fight against Brooks (18-3 MMA, 1-2 UFC) at UFC 216 due to “medical issues” on weigh-in day. Brooks had already made weight for the lightweight bout before the promotion scratched the contest. No fighter wants to go through camp and a weight cut only to do the same thing a month later.

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Anthony Hamilton and Adam Wieczorek were set to face off at UFC Fight Night 118. However, the heavyweight bout was scratched the day before the event due to security concerns inside Ergo Arena in Gdansk, Poland. The UFC made that decision after both fighters made weight at the official weigh-ins. The two now meet more than 9,750 miles away in Sydney.

Wieczorek (8-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC), who makes his UFC debut on this card, is on a seven-fight winning streak. Each of his victories have come by way of stoppage. Wieczorek’s sole loss was a 2011 decision defeat to Tybura. Hamilton (15-8 MMA, 3-6 UFC) briefly toyed with retirement after his most recent fight, his third consecutive first-round stoppage defeat.

9. In a hurry

Nadia Kassem has just four fights to her name. Kassem, who recently turned 22, won each of those bouts by first round knockout. Three of those stoppages came in under 30 seconds. Nicknamed “187,” Kassem’s longest outing was her most recent, when she nearly hit the 90-second mark. Her total fight time is 2:22.

Kassem (4-0 MMA, 0-0 UFC) meets fellow Aussie Alex Chambers in this strawweight contest. The 39-year-old Chambers (5-3 MMA, 1-2 UFC) has not fought since Paige VanZant submitted her in September 2015. Her opponent has fought three times since then.

Expect Kassem to come out fast and test Chambers’ cage readiness after such a long time away.

10. KO kings

Expect action in the heavyweight opener. Neither Rashad Coulter nor his opponent Tai Tuivasa have ever gone the distance. All eight of Coulter’s (8-2 MMA, 0-1 UFC) wins have come by knockout, while Tuivasa (5-0 MMA, 0-0 UFC) has five first-round KO victories in five professional fights.

The 24-year-old Tuivasa, who makes his UFC debut in his home country, is a former rugby player. He left that sport five years ago to focus on boxing and MMA. He’s a training partner of Mark Hunt, who he cornered at UFC 209. His brother-in-law is UFC competitor Tyson Pedro.

Tuivasa has been sidelined for more than a year. He underwent knee surgery following his October 2016 win over former UFC fighter James McSweeney. Coulter’s most recent fight, his UFC debut, ended in a second-round knockout loss to Chase Sherman. Coulter displayed an incredibly durable chin in that “Fight of the Night” bonus-winning performance.

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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/284984", customAnalytics: true, title: "Fabricio Werdum", feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == "undefined") ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();
Filed under: Featured, News, UFC

Don't feel bad for laughing at Junior Albini's diaper look – he's doing the same thing

You might be disappointed to find out that wearing a Reebok diaper to the octagon wasn’t part of some genius marketing plot by Junior Albini – also known as “Baby.”

The peculiar look sported by the Brazilian in his UFC Fight Night 120 loss to former heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski (26-15 MMA, 15-9 UFC), Albini (14-3 MMA, 1-1 UFC) said, was the result of an attempt to make his shorts more comfortable. And considering there was another man inside the cage to worry about, one can kind of understand that.

RelatedJunior Albini's diaper-looking Reebok shorts at UFC-Norfolk were impossible to ignore

But Albini is not oblivious to the comical effect that his attire had. How could he be, anyway, when the Internet is there to serve him constant reminders?

“People were sending my messages, making fun of me,” Albini told Brazil’s Combate.com. “I thought it was funny, too, in the fight: ‘It does look like a diaper.’ My manager was laughing. We send each other some of the memes and laugh a lot. I was a good sport about it. I have to be. If I get pissed at this, I’m going to get pissed at everything.”

Albini had worn regular shorts in his octagon debut – in which he demolished Timothy Johnson in the first round to earn a “Performance of the Night” bonus. But they kept riding up and bothering him. The weight fluctuations between the time Albini arrived in the U.S. for fight week and the time he actually got to fight made the outfit an annoyance in the leg area.

RelatedJunior Albini says UFC on FOX 25 bonus means daughter will no longer have to play with empty shampoo bottles

“The guy wants to kill me across the cage, and I’m going to worry about this, about shorts?” Albini said. “So I did that big diaper, but I had no idea it was going to look like that. Next time, I talked to my manager, I’m going to keep my weight stable and ask Reebok for (stretch material) so I can get accustomed to them. I don’t like (the shorts) tight.

“Next time I’m going to wear Lycras, no more shorts like these. Fighting in a diaper is rough.”

In any case, Albini doesn’t place the blame for the loss on his wardrobe. Rather, the 26-year-old up-and-comer said the pressure of being a favorite against Arlovksi, helped by the fact he was heavier than usual this time around, may have gotten to him.

“The main factor was that I ended up feeling pressured to win, and to win with a good knockout,” Albini said. “I believe I should have loosened up more. (I should have) made a different game and stayed more relaxed, as in a normal fight. The knockout ended up not happening, and I was a bit frustrated.”

For complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 120, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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

Nov 11, 2017; Virginia, VA, USA; Andrei Arlovski (blue gloves) celebrates beating J nior Albini (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at the Ted Constant Convocation Center. Mandatory Credit: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports Nov 11, 2017; Virginia, VA, USA; J nior Albini (red gloves) fights Andrei Arlovski (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at the Ted Constant Convocation Center. Mandatory Credit: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports Nov 11, 2017; Virginia, VA, USA; J nior Albini (red gloves) fights Andrei Arlovski (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at the Ted Constant Convocation Center. Mandatory Credit: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports Nov 11, 2017; Virginia, VA, USA; J nior Albini (red gloves) fights Andrei Arlovski (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at the Ted Constant Convocation Center. Mandatory Credit: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports Nov 11, 2017; Virginia, VA, USA; J nior Albini (red gloves) fights Andrei Arlovski (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at the Ted Constant Convocation Center. Mandatory Credit: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports Nov 11, 2017; Virginia, VA, USA; J nior Albini (red gloves) fights Andrei Arlovski (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at the Ted Constant Convocation Center. Mandatory Credit: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports Nov 11, 2017; Virginia, VA, USA; J nior Albini (red gloves) fights Andrei Arlovski (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at the Ted Constant Convocation Center. Mandatory Credit: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports Nov 11, 2017; Virginia, VA, USA; J nior Albini (red gloves) fights Andrei Arlovski (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at the Ted Constant Convocation Center. Mandatory Credit: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports Nov 11, 2017; Virginia, VA, USA; J nior Albini (red gloves) fights Andrei Arlovski (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at the Ted Constant Convocation Center. Mandatory Credit: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports Nov 11, 2017; Virginia, VA, USA; J nior Albini (red gloves) fights Andrei Arlovski (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at the Ted Constant Convocation Center. Mandatory Credit: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports Nov 11, 2017; Virginia, VA, USA; J nior Albini (red gloves) fights Andrei Arlovski (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at the Ted Constant Convocation Center. Mandatory Credit: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports Nov 11, 2017; Virginia, VA, USA; J nior Albini (red gloves) fights Andrei Arlovski (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at the Ted Constant Convocation Center. Mandatory Credit: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports Nov 11, 2017; Virginia, VA, USA; J nior Albini (red gloves) fights Andrei Arlovski (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at the Ted Constant Convocation Center. Mandatory Credit: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports Nov 11, 2017; Virginia, VA, USA; J nior Albini (red gloves) fights Andrei Arlovski (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at the Ted Constant Convocation Center. Mandatory Credit: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports Nov 11, 2017; Virginia, VA, USA; J nior Albini (red gloves) fights Andrei Arlovski (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at the Ted Constant Convocation Center. Mandatory Credit: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports Nov 11, 2017; Virginia, VA, USA; J nior Albini (red gloves) fights Andrei Arlovski (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at the Ted Constant Convocation Center. Mandatory Credit: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports Nov 11, 2017; Virginia, VA, USA; J nior Albini (red gloves) fights Andrei Arlovski (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at the Ted Constant Convocation Center. Mandatory Credit: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports Nov 11, 2017; Virginia, VA, USA; Andrei Arlovski (blue gloves) celebrates beating J nior Albini (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at the Ted Constant Convocation Center. Mandatory Credit: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports Nov 11, 2017; Virginia, VA, USA; Andrei Arlovski (blue gloves) celebrates beating J nior Albini (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at the Ted Constant Convocation Center. Mandatory Credit: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports Nov 11, 2017; Virginia, VA, USA; Andrei Arlovski (blue gloves) celebrates beating J nior Albini (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at the Ted Constant Convocation Center. Mandatory Credit: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports jQuery.extend( window._usmgOptions,{ scriptUrl: "https://s2.wp.com/wp-content/themes/vip/usatoday-plugins/api-galleries/assets", analyticsCallback: "galleryAnalytics", fullscreenUrl: "http://mmajunkie.com/sigallery/MjAnt2GJz28D7S5Cas6N2e/285009", customAnalytics: true, title: "Arlovski def. Albini", feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == "undefined") ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();
Filed under: Blue Corner, Featured Videos, News, UFC

Previously motivated by anger, Will Brooks finds comfort in happiness ahead of UFC-Sydney

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Filed under: News, UFC, Videos

SYDNEY – It took some soul-searching and some important conversations, but Will Brooks is ready to get back on track.

Brooks came into the UFC with some excitement behind him. After all, he’d not only conquered but also defended Bellator’s lightweight crown two times before the promotion granted him a contract release. When Brooks vacated that belt and entered the UFC, he was on a nine-fight winning streak.

Brooks’ UFC debut went fine, with a unanimous-decision win over Ross Pearson. But it was downhill from there. A match with an overweight Alex Oliveira ended in a TKO loss and a damaged rib. Then came Charles Oliveira and, with him, a first-round submission setback.

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

As he prepares to meet Nik Lentz (27-8-2 MMA, 11-5-1 UFC) at this weekend’s UFC Fight Night 121, Brooks (18-3 MMA, 1-2 UFC) rides the first losing skid of career.

For some fighters, consecutive losses can be traced back to personal turbulence. In Brooks’ case, though, it wasn’t that things were going bad – they were going a little too well.

“Everything I’ve done in this sport has been motivated off of being bitter, upset,” Brooks told MMAjunkie, “and having a chip on my shoulder and being angry all the time. That kind of motivated me to where I needed to go. It was kind of like me against everybody else.

“So once I got my wife, my daughter, my house, money in the bank to pay my mortgage, pay my bills, I’m like, ‘This is everything I wanted.’ I didn’t know how to be comfortable being happy in a way.”

His past few camps, Brooks admits, were lacking fire and passion. Not because he was “bored” with the sport, he clarifies.

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

“I just put all of my energy into trying to lay the groundwork to be the best father and husband that I could be,” Brooks said.

While there’s certainly nothing wrong with being focused on your loved ones, its takes some selfishness to be a high-level athlete. Finding the balance between family man and keeping the fire alive as a fighter, Brooks said, was the real struggle.

“I had to step back and really look at the whole picture,” Brooks said. “Sit down with my coaches and really ask them questions. See how they felt about some of the things that I was doing. There were days I was skipping practice to stay at home with the baby and things like that, when I should have made different arrangements.”

It took talking to his coaches, to his family and to those close to him for Brooks to get back to where he needed to be. And he singles out a specific piece of advice from Bellator stand-out Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal, who opened his eyes to the fact that it didn’t have to be Brooks against the world – it could be Brooks and his loved ones facing it all together, instead.

“That makes sense, because when you take two losses in a row, that does hurt your bank account,” Brooks said. “You start looking around, you’re like, ‘Man, everything I built, this might not sustain itself if I don’t do the things I need to do.’

“So I’m motivated, I’m focused, I’m locked in. I think I found that fire in myself again.”

Brooks will get his chance to prove that in the re-booked meeting with Lentz at UFC Fight Night 121. The lightweight bout 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.

As for how the bout will unfold?

“I’m going to finish him in the second round,” Brooks said.

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

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Filed under: News, UFC, Videos

Warlley Alves has Fabricio Werdum's back: Leave Colby Covington for me

From former UFC champ Jon Jones to contender Kelvin Gastelum, UFC fighters are feeling all types of way about the recent altercation between Fabricio Werdum and Colby Covington.

As someone who’s both a part of Covington’s past and interested in his future, UFC welterweight Warlley Alves didn’t sit this one out, either.

Alves faced Covington in December 2015. The Brazilian went into the UFC 194 encounter unbeaten and stayed that way after finishing Covington with his signature guillotine choke in the first round. It was Covington’s first and, to this day, only career loss.

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

On Thursday, Alves (11-2 MMA, 5-2 UFC), who’d already been eyeing a rematch with Covington (13-1 MMA, 8-1 UFC), heard about happened in Sydney. And not only did he not take issue with Werdum’s (22-7-1 MMA, 10-4 UFC) alleged boomerang-throwing, he actually had a special request for his fellow countryman.

“I didn’t think it was a big deal,” Alves told MMAjunkie. “Actually, I know the whole story. What happened was Colby kicked him. Werdum defended it. And people stepped in to separate them. Colby was mocking him and Werdum, who’s no push-over, threw the boomerang.

“I’ll make a request here: Werdum, please don’t hit him. Leave him for me. Or better yet, you can hit him, just don’t hurt him. Because I want to beat him up.”

Of course, it’s usually the fighter who got beat that asks for a rematch. But Alves’ interest, he says, has been sparked by something much bigger than their history: It’s about country.

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

Covington infamously incited the ire of Brazil last month, when he flew down to Sao Paulo for a UFC Fight Night 119 meeting with two-time UFC title challenger Demian Maia. While Covington’s jabs toward the country had been present all week, it came to a boiling point after he beat Maia – thanks to a post-fight speech that involved calling Brazilians “filthy animals.”

Covington has remained unapologetic – at least toward Brazilians – and, once more, brought up this rhetoric against Werdum. That – and the use of an anti-gay slur – is why some of his peers, despite the fact that the available images show Werdum as the one who turned things physical, aren’t showing Covington much sympathy.

Alves, who had just returned from his honeymoon when he was alerted to Covington’s post-fight speech in Sao Paulo, has had that stuck in his throat since.

“I’m an extremely patriotic person,” Alves sad. “People around me know how devoted I am to my faith and to my country. People who follow me on Instagram know how much I love the Brazilian flag and how much I value it.

RelatedFabricio Werdum tired of trash talk culture with Conor McGregor copycats

“Then this coward, this chicken, this idiot comes in and says my people are animals. That Brazil is a place of filthy people? I already wanted to beat him up again, because he’s too full of himself, but now I really want to beat him up.”

Alves clarified that his intention is in no way to make this an issue of Brazil vs. U.S., as his problem is not with an entire nation: it’s personal. Alves was so peeved by Covington’s remarks, he says, that he tried to get in touch through different types of media – including the phone.

The fact that Covington hung up and never replied to his Instagram message, for Alves that can mean only one thing.

“He’s running from me,” Alves said. “I called him, and he picked up. We started talking and, when he realized it was me, he hung up. He’s a coward, a chicken. He comes in here, speaks poorly of my country.

“He attacks my people from under his bed, which is where he is at when he’s making his posts talking about our people. He does that from under his bed, because he knows that if we run into each other anywhere, I’m going to get him.”

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

While Covington has said he’d take the chance to correct the “fluke” loss to Alves, he’s been aiming higher up the welterweight ladder lately. More specifically, he’s been saving most of his verbal ammunition for champion Tyron Woodley.

Since their meeting, Alves and Covington have gone on much different paths. Covington beat four opponents in a row en route to his co-headliner against Maia, while Alves has just recently bounced back from a two-fight losing skid.

Still, Alves said this is not about where they two stand in the welterweight rankings.

“I’m not doing this to promote myself,” Alves said. “Even if I beat him up, which I will do, I can stay in the same place in the rankings.”

Ultimately, Alves believes there are more worthy contenders in line for Woodley’s belt than Covington. And, of course, he’d like to get his stab at the controversial welterweight first. But, even if Covington does end up landing his title shot, Alves doesn’t mind waiting.

“He can fight for the belt. He can do whatever he wants,” Alves said. “But when we meet, I’ll get my hands on him. He’ll regret having said anything about my country. He’ll never say anything about anyone’s nation again. Because I’ll beat him up, and he’ll apologize.”

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


Filed under: News, UFC

'Rich Franklin's ONE Warrior Series' docu-series isn't 'TUF,' but it'll serve same purpose


Filed under: Blue Corner, Featured Videos, News

ONE Championship official are searching for new talent, and Rich Franklin has been chosen as the head recruiter.

Officials today announced a new documentary series, “Rich Franklin’s ONE Warrior Series,” in which former the UFC middleweight champion and ONE Championship vice president will travel throughout Asia to search for new fighters.

The series, which is expected to debut in the first quarter of 2018, will feature 30-minute episodes and include locales such as Bangkok, Manila, Seoul, Tokyo and Beijing. Chosen fighters could earn six-figure ONE Championship contracts and spots on future cards.

RelatedONE Championship 64 highlights: Martin Nguyen is a 2-division champ due to this crazy KO

In each episode, Franklin, a 43-year-old fan favorite who joined the ONE Championship executive team in 2014, will check out the local culture and customs while scouting fighters (check out a trailer above).

Here are some details from the announcement:

The screening and tryouts process will consist of pad sessions, grappling demonstrations, conditioning exams, and an interview process, among others. Once selected, athletes will compete in trial exhibition bouts with a chance at earning a six-figure contract with ONE Championship based on performance.

It’s not totally unlike “The Ultimate Fighter,” the UFC’s long-run reality series that has launched the UFC careers of hundreds of fighters. Franklin actually served as a head coach on “TUF 2” (and had a short coaching stint on “TUF 11” after replacing Tito Ortiz). He also headlined the TUF 1 Finale, which proved to be on of the UFC’s most important events for MMA breaking into the mainstream.

However, unlike the tournament-based “TUF,” “Rich Franklin’s ONE Warrior Series” is more like UFC President Dana White’s new series, “Dana White Lookin’ for a Fight,” in which the UFC executive scouts the country to recruit talent.

“Asia is the hotbed of the industry’s top martial arts prospects,” Franklin stated in the announcement. “It comes as no surprise, since martial arts has been home to the region for the past 5,000 years. Throughout my time in ONE Championship, I have been witness to some of the best martial arts talent I have ever seen. Stars today such as Angela Lee and Eduard Folayang came from the grassroots level of talent in Asia, and the next martial arts superstar is just waiting to be discovered. Follow me on this journey to showcase Asia’s greatest cultural treasure, and join me on the hunt to find ONE Championship’s new wave of superstars.”

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

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


Filed under: Blue Corner, Featured Videos, News

Alex Volkanovski wants $50,000 KO at UFC-Sydney, then fight with 'bully' Jeremy Stephens in Perth

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Filed under: News, UFC, Videos

SYDNEY – With his third UFC fight in less than a year right around the corner, Alex Volkanovski has a pretty clear plan for his future.

Naturally, it starts with Volkanovski (15-1 MMA, 2-0 UFC) taking out short-notice newcomer Shane Young (11-3 MMA, 0-0 UFC) in their featherweight fight at UFC Fight Night 121 – and in a way that gets him a $50,000 performance bonus.

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.

Young stepped in for Humberto Bandenay earlier this week, and Bandenay had been a replacement for Jeremy Kennedy. Strangely enough, Volkanovski knows a little about Young.

“We get along with their gym very well,” Volkanovski told MMAjunkie at a media day this week. “I’ve got a guy cornering me who is actually one of his training partners. They haven’t been with each other forever, but it just shows you. At the end of the day, I’m happy for him, but I’ve got to do my thing. I’m looking for that finish and I’m looking for that $50,000.”

But after this weekend, Volkanovski wants to make things a little more regular – like back again in February at UFC 221 in Perth, giving him another fight in front of his home Australian fans.

“I want to fight as regularly as I can,” he said. “I’ll be calling out all these bad boys and these top 15 guys. I’m going to prove why I’m ready for these top guys – I’m getting thrown guys and I’m finishing them, dominating performances, so I’m expecting to do that again. I want a top-ranked opponent, and I want him in Perth.”

Just how top-ranked? For now, how about Jeremy Stephens (26-14 MMA, 13-13 UFC), who despite his .500 UFC record presents a potential opponent with longevity.

“He’s highly ranked, he’s well known, and I’m after these bad boys,” Volkanovski said. “He says he’s a tough guy, he’s a bad boy. I think of him like a bully-type of person. I don’t like bullies. He can try and bully me and we’ll see what happens. I’ve got a job to do on (Saturday), but I’d love to fight him, that’s for sure.”

For more from Volkanovski, check out the video above.

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

Jun 10, 2017; Auckland, NZ; Alexander Volkanovski (red gloves) celebrates the victory against Mizuto Hirota (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Spark Arena. Mandatory Credit: Simon Watts-USA TODAY Sports Jun 10, 2017; Auckland, NZ; Alexander Volkanovski (red gloves) fights against Mizuto Hirota (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Spark Arena. Mandatory Credit: Simon Watts-USA TODAY Sports Jun 10, 2017; Auckland, NZ; Alexander Volkanovski (red gloves) fights against Mizuto Hirota (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Spark Arena. Mandatory Credit: Simon Watts-USA TODAY Sports Jun 10, 2017; Auckland, NZ; Alexander Volkanovski (red gloves) fights against Mizuto Hirota (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Spark Arena. Mandatory Credit: Simon Watts-USA TODAY Sports Jun 10, 2017; Auckland, NZ; Alexander Volkanovski (red gloves) fights against Mizuto Hirota (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Spark Arena. Mandatory Credit: Simon Watts-USA TODAY Sports Jun 10, 2017; Auckland, NZ; Alexander Volkanovski (red gloves) celebrates the victory against Mizuto Hirota (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Spark Arena. Mandatory Credit: Simon Watts-USA TODAY Sports Jun 10, 2017; Auckland, NZ; Alexander Volkanovski (red gloves) celebrates the victory against Mizuto Hirota (not pictured) during UFC Fight Night at Spark Arena. Mandatory Credit: Simon Watts-USA TODAY Sports Jun 10, 2017; Auckland, NZ; Alexander Volkanovski (red gloves) celebrates the victory against Mizuto Hirota (not pictured) during UFC Fight Night at Spark Arena. Mandatory Credit: Simon Watts-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/xtwcdhXViS8x6kotoCXTtZ/284811", customAnalytics: true, title: "Volkanovski def. Hirota", feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == "undefined") ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();
Filed under: News, UFC, Videos

Jorge Masvidal on 'crazy' Colby Covington's antics: 'He's going to do whatever he wants'

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Filed under: Featured, News, UFC, Videos

SYDNEY – It’s been an eventful past few weeks for UFC welterweight Colby Covington – and that might be putting it mildly.

The whirlwind started last month immediately after Covington’s unanimous-decision win over Demian Maia in Sao Paulo, where Covington used his octagon interview to spew disdain for Brazil, calling the people there “filthy animals.”

It continued with a fake apology, followed by callout after callout of UFC champion Tyron Woodley.

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

That brings us to this week, with Covington getting into a heated altercation with heavyweight Fabricio Werdum in Sydney, which resulted in Werdum allegedly hitting Covington with a boomerang and now facing a common assault charge for his actions.

It’s unknown who instigated the encounter, but parts of it – including the alleged assault – were caught on video. One thing made clear from Covington’s live-stream was his continued anti-Brazil sentiment.

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

If you’re a friend or teammate of Covington’s, you might think it’d be hard to defend his antics of late, which have called into question Covington’s perceived racism. But fellow American Top Team competitor Jorge Masvidal chalks it up, basically, to Colby being Colby.

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

“Colby’s Colby. That’s my partner,” said Masvidal, a guest this week for UFC Fight Night 121, which takes place Saturday at Qudos Bank Arena. “He’s going to do whatever he wants. He’s not going to definitely listen to me. He’s crazy.”

Masvidal, at least in some way, can relate to what Covington went through with Werdum. During UFC 217 fight week in New York, Masvidal got into a heated exchange with middleweight Michael Bisping – not once, but twice.

Without knowing for sure how things escalated between Werdum and Covington, all Masvidal could speak to is that sometimes, even when you don’t look for trouble, trouble finds you.

RelatedFabricio Werdum tired of trash talk culture with Conor McGregor copycats

“It’s crazy, because I don’t want to be starting more bad press for my sport and getting fines,” Masvidal said. “So, in a way, I’m glad that (I wasn’t there). I don’t want to be part of the chaos. I’m not going to run from it. If there’s a fight, and somebody’s picking it with me, well, that’s what I love to do. So, f*ck it. Might have to do a free one here and there.

“But I don’t want to, though. I don’t want to get in trouble. I don’t want no extra negative media on me.”

Is that a message Masvidal could impart on his friend?

“He’s on a different vibe. He’s got different plans,” Masvidal said of Covington. “I don’t tell him what to do when it comes to that type of stuff. He’ll listen to me, but at the end of the day, that dude’s crazy. He’s going to do whatever he wants to do.”

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

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Filed under: Featured, News, UFC, Videos

UFC Fight Night 121 official weigh-in results and live video stream (7 p.m. ET)


Filed under: News, UFC, Videos

SYDNEY – MMAjunkie is on scene and reporting live from today’s early, official and only UFC Fight Night 121 fighter weigh-ins, which kick off at 7 p.m. ET (4 p.m. PT).

The weigh-ins take place at Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney and are open to the fans. These are the only weigh-in festivities for the event; unlike other shows, no ceremonial weigh-ins are scheduled.

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, and it airs on FS1 following early prelims on UFC Fight Pass.

Among those weighing in are Fabricio Werdum (22-7-1 MMA, 10-4 UFC) and Marcin Tybura (16-2 MMA, 3-1 UFC), who meet in the heavyweight headliner.

The full UFC Fight Night 121 weigh-in results include:

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 ()

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 ()

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/284378", customAnalytics: true, title: "Fabricio Werdum", feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == "undefined") ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();
Filed under: News, UFC, Videos

The MMA Road Show with John Morgan No. 138 – Sydney: UFC-Sydney preview with Submission Radio's Denis Shkuratov, Kacper Rosolowski

Episode No. 138 of “The MMA Road Show with John Morgan” podcast is now available for streaming and download.

MMAjunkie lead staff reporter John Morgan hosts the show while traveling the world to cover the sport.

John Morgan is in Sydney for UFC Fight Night 121, and he sits down with the boys from Submission Radio to preview the card, as well as review the craziness of the past week in the MMA world.

Listen below, or check it out on iTunes or at themmaroadshow.com. You can also subscribe via RSS.


Filed under: News, UFC

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

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

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

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

Staple info:

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

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

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

Staple info:

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

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

Summary:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Filed under: Featured, News, UFC

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

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Filed under: Featured, News, UFC, Videos

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oct 7, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Fabricio Werdum (red gloves) reacts after defeating Walt Harris (blue gloves) during the first round during UFC 216 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports Oct 7, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Fabricio Werdum (red gloves) fights Walt Harris (blue gloves) during the first round during UFC 216 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports Oct 7, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Fabricio Werdum (red gloves) competes against Walt Harris (blue gloves) during the first round during UFC 216 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports Oct 7, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Fabricio Werdum (red gloves) reacts after defeating Walt Harris (blue gloves) during the first round during UFC 216 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports July 8, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Fabricio Werdum (red gloves) walks to the octagon to fight Alistair Overeem (not pictured) during UFC 213 at T-Mobile Arena. Overeem def. Werdum via majority decision (28-28, 29-28, 29-28). Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports July 8, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Fabricio Werdum (red gloves) fights Alistair Overeem (blue gloves) during UFC 213 at T-Mobile Arena. Overeem def. Werdum via majority decision (28-28, 29-28, 29-28). Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports July 8, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Fabricio Werdum (red gloves) fights Alistair Overeem (blue gloves) during UFC 213 at T-Mobile Arena. Overeem def. Werdum via majority decision (28-28, 29-28, 29-28). Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports July 8, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Fabricio Werdum (red gloves) fights Alistair Overeem (blue gloves) during UFC 213 at T-Mobile Arena. Overeem def. Werdum via majority decision (28-28, 29-28, 29-28). Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports Sep 10, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Fabricio Werdum (red gloves) competes against Travis Browne (blue gloves) during UFC 203 at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports Sep 10, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Fabricio Werdum (red gloves) competes against Travis Browne (blue gloves) during UFC 203 at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports Sep 10, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Fabricio Werdum (red gloves) competes against Travis Browne (blue gloves) during UFC 203 at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports Sep 10, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Fabricio Werdum (red gloves) competes against Travis Browne (blue gloves) during UFC 203 at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports Sep 10, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Fabricio Werdum (red gloves) competes against Travis Browne (blue gloves) during UFC 203 at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports Sep 10, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Fabricio Werdum (red gloves) is separated from Travis Browne (blue gloves) during UFC 203 at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports Sep 10, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Fabricio Werdum (red gloves) defeats Travis Browne (blue gloves) during UFC 203 at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports jQuery.extend( window._usmgOptions,{ scriptUrl: "https://s2.wp.com/wp-content/themes/vip/usatoday-plugins/api-galleries/assets", analyticsCallback: "galleryAnalytics", fullscreenUrl: "http://mmajunkie.com/sigallery/nGLZcDFY7c2f2BPH9oQDBd/284933", customAnalytics: true, title: "Fabricio Werdum", feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == "undefined") ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();
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'TUF 27' tryouts set for Dec. 12; UFC seeks undefeated male fighters only

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

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

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

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

RelatedReferee and judge assignments set for The Ultimate Fighter 26 Finale

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

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

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

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

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


Filed under: News, UFC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RelatedFabricio Werdum tired of trash talk culture with Conor McGregor copycats

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Neither man required medical treatment following the incident.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more from Brown, check out the video above.

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

Nov 27, 2016; Melbourne, Australia; Damien Brown (red gloves) reacts after his bout against Jon Tuck (not pictured) during UFC Fight Night at Rod Laver Arena. Mandatory Credit: Matt Roberts-USA TODAY Sports Nov 27, 2016; Melbourne, Australia; Damien Brown (red gloves) competes against Jon Tuck (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Rod Laver Arena. Mandatory Credit: Matt Roberts-USA TODAY Sports Nov 27, 2016; Melbourne, Australia; Damien Brown (red gloves) competes against Jon Tuck (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Rod Laver Arena. Mandatory Credit: Matt Roberts-USA TODAY Sports Nov 27, 2016; Melbourne, Australia; Damien Brown (red gloves) competes against Jon Tuck (not pictured) during UFC Fight Night at Rod Laver Arena. Mandatory Credit: Matt Roberts-USA TODAY Sports Nov 27, 2016; Melbourne, Australia; Damien Brown (red gloves) competes against Jon Tuck (not pictured) during UFC Fight Night at Rod Laver Arena. Mandatory Credit: Matt Roberts-USA TODAY Sports Nov 27, 2016; Melbourne, Australia; Damien Brown (red gloves) competes against Jon Tuck (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Rod Laver Arena. Mandatory Credit: Matt Roberts-USA TODAY Sports Nov 27, 2016; Melbourne, Australia; Damien Brown (red gloves) competes against Jon Tuck (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Rod Laver Arena. Mandatory Credit: Matt Roberts-USA TODAY Sports Nov 27, 2016; Melbourne, Australia; Damien Brown (red gloves) competes against Jon Tuck (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Rod Laver Arena. Mandatory Credit: Matt Roberts-USA TODAY Sports Nov 27, 2016; Melbourne, Australia; Damien Brown (red gloves) competes against Jon Tuck (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Rod Laver Arena. Mandatory Credit: Matt Roberts-USA TODAY Sports Nov 27, 2016; Melbourne, Australia; Damien Brown (red gloves) competes against Jon Tuck (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Rod Laver Arena. Mandatory Credit: Matt Roberts-USA TODAY Sports Nov 27, 2016; Melbourne, Australia; Damien Brown (red gloves) competes against Jon Tuck (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Rod Laver Arena. Mandatory Credit: Matt Roberts-USA TODAY Sports jQuery.extend( window._usmgOptions,{ scriptUrl: "https://s2.wp.com/wp-content/themes/vip/usatoday-plugins/api-galleries/assets", analyticsCallback: "galleryAnalytics", fullscreenUrl: "http://mmajunkie.com/sigallery/3zZbFkCZLhMtNwXeFTwKid/284852", customAnalytics: true, title: "Brown def. Tuck", feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == "undefined") ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();
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Twitter Mailbag: On McGregor's 'punishment,' Bisping's quick turnaround, and more

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

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

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

— Winston (@winstonspeak) November 16, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

— Devin Scott (@dev0ved) November 15, 2017

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

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

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

— Yellow Mat (@Yellowmat200) November 16, 2017

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

— Ryan (@quaydawg85) November 15, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

— Max Sawyer (@maxsawyer12) November 15, 2017

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

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

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

— Brandon (@_theoldcrow_) November 15, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

— Gabe Dert (@GabeDert) November 15, 2017

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

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

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


Filed under: Featured, News, UFC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more from Tuivasa, check out the video above.

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


Filed under: Featured, News, UFC, Videos

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

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Filed under: Featured, News, UFC, Videos

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more from Tuivasa, check out the video above.

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


Filed under: Featured, News, UFC, Videos

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