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Uriah Hall responds to Dana White, says he had 'mini-seizure' and 'slight heart attack'

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Sep 16, 2017; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Krzysztof Jotko (Red Gloves) fight Uriah Hall (Blue Gloves) during UFC Fight Night at PPG PAINTS Arena. Mandatory Credit: Don Wright-USA TODAY Sports Sep 16, 2017; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Krzysztof Jotko (Red Gloves) fight Uriah Hall (Blue Gloves) during UFC Fight Night at PPG PAINTS Arena. Mandatory Credit: Don Wright-USA TODAY Sports Sep 16, 2017; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Krzysztof Jotko (Red Gloves) fight Uriah Hall (Blue Gloves) during UFC Fight Night at PPG PAINTS Arena. Mandatory Credit: Don Wright-USA TODAY Sports Sep 16, 2017; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Krzysztof Jotko (Red Gloves) fight Uriah Hall (Blue Gloves) during UFC Fight Night at PPG PAINTS Arena. Mandatory Credit: Don Wright-USA TODAY Sports Sep 16, 2017; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Krzysztof Jotko (Red Gloves) fight Uriah Hall (Blue Gloves) during UFC Fight Night at PPG PAINTS Arena. Mandatory Credit: Don Wright-USA TODAY Sports Sep 16, 2017; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Krzysztof Jotko (Red Gloves) fight Uriah Hall (Blue Gloves) during UFC Fight Night at PPG PAINTS Arena. Mandatory Credit: Don Wright-USA TODAY Sports Sep 16, 2017; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Krzysztof Jotko (Red Gloves) fight Uriah Hall (Blue Gloves) during UFC Fight Night at PPG PAINTS Arena. Mandatory Credit: Don Wright-USA TODAY Sports Sep 16, 2017; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Krzysztof Jotko (Red Gloves) fight Uriah Hall (Blue Gloves) during UFC Fight Night at PPG PAINTS Arena. Mandatory Credit: Don Wright-USA TODAY Sports Sep 16, 2017; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Krzysztof Jotko (Red Gloves) fight Uriah Hall (Blue Gloves) during UFC Fight Night at PPG PAINTS Arena. Mandatory Credit: Don Wright-USA TODAY Sports Sep 16, 2017; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Krzysztof Jotko (Red Gloves) fight Uriah Hall (Blue Gloves) during UFC Fight Night at PPG PAINTS Arena. Mandatory Credit: Don Wright-USA TODAY Sports Sep 16, 2017; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Krzysztof Jotko (Red Gloves) fight Uriah Hall (Blue Gloves) during UFC Fight Night at PPG PAINTS Arena. Mandatory Credit: Don Wright-USA TODAY Sports Sep 16, 2017; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Krzysztof Jotko (Red Gloves) fight Uriah Hall (Blue Gloves) during UFC Fight Night at PPG PAINTS Arena. Mandatory Credit: Don Wright-USA TODAY Sports Sep 16, 2017; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Krzysztof Jotko (Red Gloves) fight Uriah Hall (Blue Gloves) during UFC Fight Night at PPG PAINTS Arena. Mandatory Credit: Don Wright-USA TODAY Sports Sep 16, 2017; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Krzysztof Jotko (Red Gloves) reacts to fight against Uriah Hall (Blue Gloves) during UFC Fight Night at PPG PAINTS Arena. Mandatory Credit: Don Wright-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/cUMBVvp7krEPYMynsiEwpB/297174", customAnalytics: true, title: "Hall def. Jotko", feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == "undefined") ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();

Uriah Hall has broken his silence following his late withdrawal from this past weekend’s UFC Fight Night 124 co-headliner, and the details are frightening.

On the way to official weigh-ins for his scheduled bout with Vitor Belfort (26-13 MMA, 15-10 UFC) at Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Hall (13-8 MMA, 6-6 UFC) reportedly fainted. He was unable to step on scale, and his bout with Belfort was scratched from the card.

Hall was transported to a local hospital, where he was forced to remain for more than 48 years. He returned to his Las Vegas home on Tuesday and said on an Instagram Live Q&A that he’s feeling “really good” and described his condition as “almost back to normal.”

RelatedDana White rips Uriah Hall after UFC Fight Night 124 weigh-in miss: 'He doesn't take it serious'

UFC flyweight Paige VanZant apparently witnessed Hall’s incident and called it the “scariest thing” she’d ever seen. Details weren’t immediate clear, so Hall took to social media to clear the air.

“There’s a lot of miscommunication of what’s going on,” Hall said on Instagram Live. “People think I punked out. I definitely want to apologize to Vitor and his camp. I know it sucks to go through all that and then not fight. I’ve been there, but for the record, I did make weight. I just failed to make it to the scale, which sucked.

“I’ve never had a problem cutting weight,” he continued. “What happened was I ignored some issues that happened prior. As a fighter, we don’t have sick days. I know some of you have sick days. I don’t have a sick day. So for me, it was just to show up, and I showed up, but my body just was not showing up with it.”

According to Hall, who was a finalist on Season 17 of “The Ultimate Fighter,” the entire issue stemmed from an injury that hindered his camp. He would not name the specific injury, but he did reveal the weight cut was more challenging than he expected.

“I don’t have to really get into details,” Hall said. “It was a harder cut than normal because the injuries I had didn’t allow me to really cut the weight properly. I neglected my safety and my health, which was the dumbest thing to do, I will never do that again, your health is important.

“It was an injury that I ignored and it just caught up to me,” he continued. “My body was just not responsive to it. I definitely wanted to clear the air. I’m getting better, following doctor’s orders, getting checked up.”

RelatedVitor Belfort has classy response on Instagram to Uriah Hall fight cancellation

The official doctor diagnosis for Hall’s incident is unknown, but based on the way he describes the situation, it was very bad.

“I was in the hospital, of course, and it was probably the most dramatic experience I’ve ever had,” Hall said. “I mean, I was in and out of it. I was conscious, but I was unconscious. I knew what was happening, but I was fighting over it. I was punching. I think I had a mini-seizure and at the same time a slight heart attack. My kidneys were just not good.

“I was so ready to freaking throw down, but you know what? (Expletive) happens,” he continued. “The doctor even said, even if I made weight, I probably would’ve died the next day because my body wasn’t having it. Like I said, I’m never going to ignore my health again. I did it for the fans, I did it to get paid, I did it to make sure I showed up, but at the end of the day, man, your life is not worth it.”

Following UFC Fight Night 124, UFC President Dana White piled on Hall for the incident. He claimed the UFC middleweight didn’t take his training camp seriously and was out in clubs weeks ahead of the fight. White showed little empathy for Hall and even suggested he move up to light heavyweight for his next bout.

Hall brushed off White’s criticism and said he hopes his own comments will paint a more realistic picture of what happened.

“As far as clearing up the air with (White), I heard I was partying in L.A. What else was I doing? I wasn’t taking my training seriously, and I wasn’t following procedure, there you go,” Hall said. “You mean to tell me my entire career, all of a sudden I’m going to party in L.A.? It’s too funny man. Oh my God. But that’s what happens when you don’t come out – a lot of speculation.”

Hall did not mention a timeline for his complete recovery or when he will be able to return to full-time training. He hopes it’s sooner than later, though, and said he would still like to fight former UFC champ Belfort.

“I’d love to fight Vitor again if he gets his panties out of a bunch,” Hall said. “I heard he’s complaining. Dude, it’s a fight man. (Expletive) happens. Obviously we can scrap again. Obviously I have to get better, but I would love to fight him. I definitely want to give him a proper retirement fight.”

For complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 124, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

Bellator champ Douglas Lima, Rory MacDonald gunning for world No. 1 status at welterweight

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(This story appears in Thursday’s print edition of USA TODAY.)

LOS ANGELES – Bellator MMA has employed its share of top talent over the course of the California-based promotion’s nearly nine years of live events. But never before could a Bellator fighter lay true claim to the title of being the world’s best fighter in a weight class.

That could change on Saturday night.

At Saturday’s Bellator 192 event, welterweight champ Douglas Lima (29-6 MMA, 11-2 BMMA) puts his belt on the line against 13-fight UFC veteran Rory MacDonald (19-4 MMA, 1-0 BMMA). The highly anticipated contest serves as the co-main event of the card, which takes place at The Forum in Inglewood, Calif., and airs on the newly rebranded Paramount Network (formerly Spike).

RelatedRory MacDonald isn't dwelling on Bellator 192 main-event snub: 'I feel like a champion already'

“I’ve said all along that this is the toughest division in all of MMA, and the title fight this Saturday between Lima and MacDonald will determine the best welterweight in the world,” Bellator President Scott Coker told MMAjunkie. “When you look at who these guys have beaten and how long they’ve been at the top, there’s no question.”

Champ Lima enters the bout at No. 8 in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA welterweight rankings, while MacDonald – who this past May made his Bellator debut following a six-year run in the UFC – sits at No. 3. Lima is the reigning Bellator title holder, but Canada’s MacDonald has defeated a few more high-profile opponents in his career, including a 2014 win over current UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley.

It’s that victory, in particular, that MacDonald believes favors his claim to the throne should he prove victorious over Lima.

“I mean, I already beat the other one, so I’ve just got to take this one,” MacDonald said. “I think that with the right performance, it will be a clear picture in people’s minds of who’s the best.”

RelatedDouglas Lima wants respect if he beats Rory MacDonald at Bellator 192 – but he won't beg for it

Meanwhile, the Brazilian-born Lima, who now lives and trains in Atlanta, stands at an impressive 9-1 in his past 10 appearances. While his past wins include recognizable names such as Paul Daley, Lorenz Larkin and Ben Saunders, MacDonald represents the highest-ranked opponent he’s ever faced, and Lima believes that will give him the opportunity he needs to display his abilities.

“Especially for the casual fans – I think he’s got a big following and is a lot more known, for sure,” Lima said. “This is going to be the chance to put a stamp on it that I belong at the top of this division and can beat anybody.

“Of course in this sport, there’s always going to be somebody else, but beating him is a no-brainer.”

RelatedBellator 192 pre-event facts: Champ Douglas Lima looks to add to knockout record

Woodley, the current UFC champ, would likely disagree with both Lima and MacDonald’s claims, but it’s an opinion that’s open for debate. While former Bellator champs Ben Askren and Eddie Alvarez were certainly considered elite-level fighters during their runs, neither had the type of definitive wins that would allow them to make a credible claim to the top spot.

Not since PRIDE’s Fedor Emelianenko was recognized as the best heavyweight on the planet has a non-UFC fighter enjoyed such status in their weight class, but both Lima and MacDonald will certainly look to solidify their case.

“Rory is so good, but Douglas is the champion,” Bellator 192 headliner and MMA analyst Chael Sonnen said. “He’s the most slighted champion I’ve ever seen. … I think it’s a big coming out party for him.”

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

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Hot Take: Daniel Cormier sounds off on Jon Jones reportedly passing a polygraph test

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BOSTON – Daniel Cormier has plenty of history with Jon Jones. Their beef will go down as one of the most memorable in MMA history.

So naturally, Cormier has a thought on the recent report that Jones took – and passed – a polygraph test in an attempt to give credence to his assertion he didn’t knowingly take any banned substance surrounding their UFC 214 rematch.

“Jon Jones took a polygraph test to prove his innocence,” Cormier on Wednesday told reporters after a workout at Reebok’s Boston headquarters. “Now, I’m gonna say this: Ted Bundy passed a polygraph test. Ted Bundy passed a polygraph test, and then killed the (expletive) guy that was giving it to him! Bye, guys.”

It was a mic-drop moment for Cormier, who seldom bites his tongue about Jones and their rivalry.

In the wake of UFC 214, which was a third-round TKO win for Jones, he was informed by USADA that he had a potential doping violation, which would be his second and could lead to a potentially lengthy suspension – though nothing has been finalized or announced yet.

Does the polygraph test mean anything? Maybe in the court of public opinion, but not likely to the UFC or USADA. And it certainly doesn’t mean much for Cormier, other than fodder for comedy.

Next up for Cormier (19-1 MMA, 8-1 UFC) he’ll defend his light heavyweight title against Volkan Oezdemir (15-1 MMA, 3-0 UFC) on Saturday in the UFC 220 co-main event. It’s a title he had restored despite losing to Jones after Jones was stripped of the belt in the wake of yet another steroid scandal.

UFC 220 takes place at TD Garden in Boston. The main card airs on pay-per-view following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass.

Check out Cormier’s hot take in the video above.

And for more on UFC 220, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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

Apr 8, 2017; Buffalo, NY, USA; Daniel Cormier (red gloves) celebrates after defeating Anthony Johnson (blue gloves) during UFC 210 at KeyBank Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports Apr 8, 2017; Buffalo, NY, USA; Daniel Cormier (red gloves) celebrates after defeating Anthony Johnson (blue gloves) during UFC 210 at KeyBank Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports July 29, 2017; Anaheim, CA, USA; Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier hold onto one another during UFC 214 at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports Apr 8, 2017; Buffalo, NY, USA; Daniel Cormier (red gloves) competes against Anthony Johnson (blue gloves) during UFC 210 at KeyBank Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports Apr 8, 2017; Buffalo, NY, USA; Daniel Cormier (red gloves) competes against Anthony Johnson (blue gloves) during UFC 210 at KeyBank Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports Apr 8, 2017; Buffalo, NY, USA; Daniel Cormier (red gloves) competes against Anthony Johnson (blue gloves) during UFC 210 at KeyBank Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports Jul 9, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Daniel Cormier (red gloves) enters T-Mobile Arena during UFC 200 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports Jul 9, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Daniel Cormier (red gloves) prepares to fight Anderson Silva during UFC 200 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports Jul 9, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Anderson Silva (blue gloves) is punched by Daniel Cormier (red gloves) during UFC 200 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports Jul 9, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Anderson Silva (blue gloves) is punched by Daniel Cormier (red gloves) during UFC 200 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports Jul 9, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Daniel Cormier (red gloves) reacts after his win against Anderson Silva (blue gloves) during UFC 200 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports Oct 3, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Daniel Cormier (red gloves) competes against Alexander Gustafsson (blue gloves) during their World Light Heavyweight Championship at UFC 192 at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports Oct 3, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Daniel Cormier (red gloves) is interviewed by Joe Rogan after defeating Alexander Gustafsson (not pictured) after their World Light Heavyweight Championship at UFC 192 at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports Oct 3, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Daniel Cormier (red gloves) competes against Alexander Gustafsson (blue gloves) during their World Light Heavyweight Championship at UFC 192 at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports Oct 3, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Daniel Cormier (red gloves) celebrates after defeating Alexander Gustafsson (not pictured) after their World Light Heavyweight Championship at UFC 192 at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-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/nSWP6AjXdehwFnqPirqHH5/297155", customAnalytics: true, title: "Daniel Cormier", feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == "undefined") ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();

Tony Ferguson vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov official as UFC 223 headliner; title stakes still unclear

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Dec 30, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Khabib Nurmagomedov before fighting Edson Barboza during UFC 219 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports Dec 30, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Khabib Nurmagomedov fights Edson Barboza during UFC 219 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports Dec 30, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Edson Barboza lands a kick as Khabib Nurmagomedov defends during UFC 219 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports Dec 30, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Edson Barboza moves in with a hit as Khabib Nurmagomedov defends during UFC 219 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports Dec 30, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Khabib Nurmagomedov moves in with a hit against Edson Barboza during UFC 219 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports Dec 30, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Khabib Nurmagomedov moves in with a hit against Edson Barboza during UFC 219 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports Dec 30, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Khabib Nurmagomedov moves in against Edson Barboza during UFC 219 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports Dec 30, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Khabib Nurmagomedov moves in against Edson Barboza during UFC 219 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports Dec 30, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Khabib Nurmagomedov pins Edson Barboza 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; Khabib Nurmagomedov pins Edson Barboza 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; Khabib Nurmagomedov lands punches against Edson Barboza during UFC 219 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports Dec 30, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Khabib Nurmagomedov lands punches against Edson Barboza during UFC 219 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports Dec 30, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Khabib Nurmagomedov lands punches against Edson Barboza during UFC 219 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports Dec 30, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Khabib Nurmagomedov applies a chokehold against Edson Barboza during UFC 219 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports Dec 30, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Khabib Nurmagomedov lands punches against Edson Barboza 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/78MBnsBgMaD7THB69QSSuf/297151", customAnalytics: true, title: "Nurmagomedov def. Barboza", feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == "undefined") ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();

This much we know: Tony Ferguson and Khabib Nurmagomedov will headline UFC 223.

Here’s what we don’t know: whether interim lightweight titleholder Ferguson (23-3 MMA, 13-1 UFC) and undefeated Nurmagomedov (25-0 MMA, 9-0 UFC) are fighting for Ferguson’s belt, or if the undisputed title will be stripped from Conor McGregor (21-3 MMA, 9-1 UFC) and put up for grabs at the April event.

On Wednesday, UFC President Dana White told Boston’s “Toucher and Rich” show that Ferguson vs. Nurmagomedov would fight at UFC 223.

RelatedUFC 223 opening odds: Champ Tony Ferguson a firm underdog vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov

Today, UFC executives and made it official as UFC 223’s headliner. It takes place April 7 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., and the main card airs on pay-per-view following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass.

As part of today’s confirmation, officials announced they’ll hold a press conference on Friday with Ferguson and Nurmagomedov, as well as the UFC 222 headliners: featherweight champion Max Holloway (19-3 MMA, 15-3 UFC) and opponent Frankie Edgar (22-5-1 MMA, 16-5-1 UFC).

Here’s the description of Ferguson vs. Nurmagomedov from the release:

Fans will get their first look at their UFC 223 main event, the highly-anticipated bout between interim lightweight champion Tony Ferguson and the undefeated powerhouse Khabib Nurmagomedov. Ferguson looks to extend his 10-fight win streak while Khabib looks to claim UFC gold for the first time while maintaining his perfect record.

The press conference takes place Friday at TD Garden 5 p.m. ET, and MMAjunkie will be on site with full coverage.

Perhaps we’ll find out then if McGregor, indeed, will be stripped of the belt, as White previously suggested.

Ferguson and Nurmagomedov have been booked against each other three prior times without a fight actually materializing. After each pulled out of one scheduled bout due to injury, Ferguson, No. 2 in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA lightweight rankings, and No. 3 Nurmagomedov were most recently signed to fight each other at UFC 209 in March 2017. The fight for the then-vacant interim title fell apart on weigh-in day, though, when Nurmagomedov was hospitalized after a failed weight cut.

Ferguson subsequently beat Kevin Lee for the interim belt. Nurmagomedov, meanwhile, made a successful return to the octagon this past month at UFC 219, where he dominated fellow contender Edson Barboza for a decisive decision victory.

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

Charles Byrd vs. John Phillips added to UFC Fight Night 127 in London

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The UFC’s upcoming return to London has a new addition with a pair of promotional newcomers.

It features middleweights Charles Byrd (9-4 MMA, 0-0 UFC) vs. John Phillips (21-6 MMA, 0-0 UFC), UFC officials announced via bbc.com.

UFC Fight Night 127 takes place March 17 at The O2 in London. The entire card streams on UFC Fight Pass, though the full fight card and bout order haven’t been finalized.

Byrd , a 34-year-old Legacy FC vet, makes his official UFC debut after a pair of wins at Dana White’s Contender Series events. At DWCS 1, he choked out Jamie Pickett, and at DWCS 6, he tapped out Randall Wallace. He’s won three straight and five of his past six overall, and the recent wins put him on UFC President Dana White’s radar.

RelatedDana White's Contender Series 6 results: Charles Byrd wins for 2nd time, lands UFC contract

“I love this kid, Byrd, for coming back twice and finishing both times,” White said after DWCS 6. “I respect it, so I’m going to give him a shot.”

Phillips, a 32-year-old Welshman, gets a long-awaited UFC debut after previous bookings were scrapped due to visa issues. He now fights close to home and enters the UFC on the strength of a four-fight winning streak that includes four knockout. In fact, the man who calls himself “The White Mike Tyson” has 21 stoppages (18 knockouts and three submissions) in 21 career victories.

The latest UFC Fight Night 127 lineup includes:

  • Leon Edwards vs. Peter Sobotta
  • Mark Godbeer vs. Dmitry Poberezhets
  • Magomed Ankalaev vs. Paul Craig
  • Nasrat Haqparast vs. Alex Reyes
  • Jan Blachowicz vs. Jimi Manuwa
  • Kajan Johnson vs. Rustam Khabilov
  • Charles Byrd vs. John Phillips

For more on UFC Fight Night 127, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

Bad blood? Volkan Oezdemir says UFC champ Daniel Cormier 'actually pretty funny'

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BOSTON – Volkan Oezdemir has gotten himself to a UFC title shot quicker than most, and he admitted he kind of likes the guy standing across from him.

In Saturday’s UFC 220 pay-per-view co-headliner, Oezdemir (15-1 MMA, 3-0 UFC) fights light-heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier (19-1 MMA, 8-1 UFC) with a shot at the belt.

It’s a rather quick ascent up the division; after all, who fights for a title and takes on one of the sport’s top pound-for-pound fighters in just his fourth UFC bout?

“Only me,” Oezdemir joked with MMAjunkie.

RelatedDaniel Cormier doesn't expect easy win vs. Volkan Oezdemir, but expects to win nonetheless

But when Oezdemir, who’s No. 7 in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA light-heavyweight rankings, takes on No. 2-ranked Cormier, he won’t necessarily feel rushed into the opportunity.

“I always knew inside of me I would be a champion,” the 28-year-old Swiss fighter said at Wednesday’s open workouts ahead of UFC 220, which takes place at TD Garden in Boston. “Of course, I never thought about fighting for the belt in 2017. …

“But at the end of the year, I was already signing the contract for the world title. So it’s definitely a pretty crazy intense year.”

RelatedMMAjunkie's '2017 Breakout Fighter of the Year': UFC newcomer wasted no time rising up

Ahead of his title shot, Oezdemir’s trash-talking interactions with Cormier have been pretty good-natured. The opponents haven’t gotten too personal and seem thankful to have the bout and the opportunity to move on from stripped-champ Jon Jones’ latest gaffe.

“He’s actually pretty funny,” Oezdemir said of Cormier. “I like the way he talks. I’m a big fan of humor, and I think he’s pretty smart with his way of talking and joking. He’s actually pretty funny.

“But definitely he’s going to see somebody that he’s never seen.”

For more on UFC 220, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

July 29, 2017; Anaheim, CA, USA; Volkan Oezdemir reacts following his knockout victory against Jimi Manuwa during UFC 214 at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports Feb 4, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Ovince Saint Preux (red gloves) fights Volkan Oezdemir (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports Feb 4, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Ovince Saint Preux (red gloves) fights Volkan Oezdemir (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports Feb 4, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Ovince Saint Preux (red gloves) fights Volkan Oezdemir (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports Feb 4, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Ovince Saint Preux (red gloves) fights Volkan Oezdemir (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports Feb 4, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Ovince Saint Preux (red gloves) fights Volkan Oezdemir (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports Feb 4, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Volkan Oezdemir (blue gloves) defeats Ovince Saint Preux (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports May 28, 2017; Stockholm, Stockholms Lan, Sweden; Volkan Oezdemir (red gloves) reacts before his both against Misha Cirkunov (not pictured) during UFC Fight Night at Ericsson Globe. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports May 28, 2017; Stockholm, Stockholms Lan, Sweden; Volkan Oezdemir (red gloves) fights Misha Cirkunov (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Ericsson Globe. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports May 28, 2017; Stockholm, Stockholms Lan, Sweden; Volkan Oezdemir (red gloves) fights Misha Cirkunov (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Ericsson Globe. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports May 28, 2017; Stockholm, Stockholms Lan, Sweden; Volkan Oezdemir (red gloves) reacts after defeating Misha Cirkunov (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Ericsson Globe. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports May 28, 2017; Stockholm, Stockholms Lan, Sweden; Volkan Oezdemir (red gloves) reacts after defeating Misha Cirkunov (not pictured) during UFC Fight Night at Ericsson Globe. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports May 28, 2017; Stockholm, Stockholms Lan, Sweden; Volkan Oezdemir (red gloves) reacts after defeating Misha Cirkunov (right) during UFC Fight Night at Ericsson Globe. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports May 28, 2017; Stockholm, Stockholms Lan, Sweden; Volkan Oezdemir (red gloves) reacts after defeating Misha Cirkunov (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Ericsson Globe. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports July 29, 2017; Anaheim, CA, USA; Volkan Oezdemir moves in against Jimi Manuwa during UFC 214 at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports July 29, 2017; Anaheim, CA, USA; Volkan Oezdemir moves in with a hit against Jimi Manuwa during UFC 214 at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports July 29, 2017; Anaheim, CA, USA; Volkan Oezdemir reacts following his knockout victory against Jimi Manuwa during UFC 214 at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports July 29, 2017; Anaheim, CA, USA; Volkan Oezdemir moves in with a hit against Jimi Manuwa during UFC 214 at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports July 29, 2017; Anaheim, CA, USA; Volkan Oezdemir moves in with a hit against Jimi Manuwa during UFC 214 at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports July 29, 2017; Anaheim, CA, USA; Volkan Oezdemir reacts following his knockout victory against Jimi Manuwa during UFC 214 at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports jQuery.extend( window._usmgOptions,{ scriptUrl: "https://s2.wp.com/wp-content/themes/vip/usatoday-plugins/api-galleries/assets", analyticsCallback: "galleryAnalytics", fullscreenUrl: "http://mmajunkie.com/sigallery/HEBcogVsJo8qj8t4c4FpL7/297139", customAnalytics: true, title: "Volkan Oezdemir", feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == "undefined") ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();

'Rampage' Jackson appears to be in great shape for Bellator 192

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There’s no denying Quinton Jackson is a legend of MMA, but it’s fair to say that these days a lot of fans question his motivation.

One of the main reasons is that “Rampage,” 39, no longer appears to be in the peak physical condition that we’re used to seeing. Consider how the former UFC light heavyweight champion looked at 253 pounds for his heavyweight bout last March vs. Muhammed Lawal.

“Rampage” Jackson at Bellator 175 weigh-ins in March 2017. (Bellator MMA)

Jackson (37-12 MMA, 4-1 BMMA) lost a unanimous decision that night to Lawal, and now he returns this Saturday in the Bellator 192 headliner vs. Chael Sonnen (29-15-1 MMA, 1-1 BMMA) to kick off the heavyweight grand prix. On Wednesday, “Rampage” declined to reveal his current weight when asked by MMAjunkie’s John Morgan, saying he hasn’t weighed himself in weeks.

Since they say a picture is worth a thousand words, check out this first glimpse of what shape Jackson appears to be in in this official Bellator portrait:

“Rampage” Jackson’s official portrait for Bellator 192. (Bellator MMA)

It’s amazing what cutting ketchup out of your diet can do, isn’t it? This looks more like the old-school “Rampage” we know and love. And here he is breaking a little sweat during the open workouts (via Twitter):

While Quinton @Rampage4real Jackson declined to reveal his actual weight ahead of #Bellator192, the longtime light heavyweight does look leaner than his last appearance. Check him out on the mitts at today's open workouts.

Full media scrum: https://t.co/hfhzWNUQQd pic.twitter.com/zRWX789pa8

— MMAjunkie (@MMAjunkie) January 18, 2018

Bellator 192 takes place Saturday at The Forum in Inglewood, Calif., and airs on Paramount (formerly Spike) following prelims streamed on MMAjunkie.

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

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

Ovince Saint Preux vs. Ilir Latifi rebooked for UFC on FOX 28 in Orlando

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Nov 4, 2017; New York, NY, USA; Ovince Saint Preux (red gloves) fights Corey Anderson (blue gloves) during UFC 217 at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports Nov 4, 2017; New York, NY, USA; Ovince Saint Preux (red gloves) fights Corey Anderson (blue gloves) during UFC 217 at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports Nov 4, 2017; New York, NY, USA; Ovince Saint Preux (red gloves) fights Corey Anderson (blue gloves) during UFC 217 at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports Nov 4, 2017; New York, NY, USA; Ovince Saint Preux (red gloves) fights Corey Anderson (blue gloves) during UFC 217 at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports Nov 4, 2017; New York, NY, USA; Ovince Saint Preux (red gloves) fights Corey Anderson (blue gloves) during UFC 217 at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports Nov 4, 2017; New York, NY, USA; Ovince Saint Preux (red gloves) fights Corey Anderson (blue gloves) during UFC 217 at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports Nov 4, 2017; New York, NY, USA; Ovince Saint Preux (red gloves) fights Corey Anderson (blue gloves) during UFC 217 at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports Nov 4, 2017; New York, NY, USA; Ovince Saint Preux (red gloves) fights Corey Anderson (blue gloves) during UFC 217 at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports Nov 4, 2017; New York, NY, USA; Ovince Saint Preux (red gloves) fights Corey Anderson (blue gloves) during UFC 217 at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports Nov 4, 2017; New York, NY, USA; Ovince Saint Preux (red gloves) fights Corey Anderson (blue gloves) during UFC 217 at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports Nov 4, 2017; New York, NY, USA; Ovince Saint Preux (red gloves) fights Corey Anderson (blue gloves) during UFC 217 at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports Nov 4, 2017; New York, NY, USA; Ovince Saint Preux (red gloves) fights Corey Anderson (blue gloves) during UFC 217 at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports jQuery.extend( window._usmgOptions,{ scriptUrl: "https://s2.wp.com/wp-content/themes/vip/usatoday-plugins/api-galleries/assets", analyticsCallback: "galleryAnalytics", fullscreenUrl: "http://mmajunkie.com/sigallery/jzHH59PtohDwVXecJjmDsi/297136", customAnalytics: true, title: "Saint Preux def. Anderson", feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == "undefined") ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();

Ovince Saint Preux and Ilir Latifi will fight each other, after all.

Saint Preux (22-10 MMA, 10-5 UFC), who’s No. 9 in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA light-heavyweight rankings, and honorable mention Latifi (13-5 MMA, 6-3 UFC) were recently pulled from a UFC on FOX 27 matchup and will fight at UFC on FOX 28 instead.

The rebooked fight, which UFC officials announced via orlandosentinel.com, takes place four weeks later than that original booking.

RelatedDavid Branch reacts to losing Yoel Romero as opponent at UFC on FOX 28

UFC on FOX 28 takes place Feb. 28 at Amway Center in Orlando, Fla. 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.

Saint Preux, a 34-year-old from Tennessee, is on a three-fight winning streak that includes two consecutive fight-night bonuses. Most recently, he scored a head-kick knockout win over Corey Anderson at UFC 217. Prior to that, he had back-to-back Von Flue choke finishes of Marcos Rogerio de Lima and Yushin Okami. He had three straight losses (against top contenders) before his recent three-fight winning streak.

Latifi, a 34-year-old Swedish fighter who hoped to maintain the OSP matchup despite his injury, recently picked up a unanimous-decision win over Tyson Pedro at UFC 215 to rebound from a knockout loss to Ryan Bader. He’s on a 4-1 run in his past five fights.

The latest UFC on FOX 28 card includes:

  • Ilir Latifi vs. Ovince Saint Preux
  • Olivier Aubin-Mercier vs. Gilbert Burns
  • Alan Jouban vs. Ben Saunders
  • Jessica Andrade vs. Tecia Torres
  • Max Griffin vs. Mike Perry
  • Renan Barao vs. Brian Kelleher
  • Sam Alvey vs. Marcin Prachnio
  • Sara McMann vs. Marion Reneau
  • Gadzhimurad Antigulov vs. Aleksandar Rakic
  • David Branch vs. TBA
  • Yana Kunitskaya vs. TBA

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

Underdog Stipe Miocic feels disrespected ahead of UFC 220, but still planning 'and still'

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BOSTON – It’s a bit of a no-brainer to Stipe Miocic if you ask him if he feels disrespected to be the underdog in a title fight as the UFC’s heavyweight champion.

“How would you feel?” Miocic asked after a Wednesday workout in Boston.

Miocic (17-2 MMA, 11-2 UFC) is the underdog – as champion – to challenger Francis Ngannou (11-1 MMA, 6-0 UFC) in the UFC 220 main event, which takes place Saturday at TD Garden in Boston. The main card airs on pay-per-view following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass.

Ngannou checks in as a -175 favorite, no doubt in large part thanks to his December “Knockout of the Year” starching of Alistair Overeem at UFC 218 in Detroit.

“I’m so used to it by now,” Miocic said. “I love being the underdog because I shut everyone up. That’s what this sport’s all about – it’s like ‘The Jerry Springer Show.’ … I’m walking out ‘and still.’ No one (else) is going to be champion until I leave.

“I’m going to go out there and do my job. That’s what I do every time. I know he’s a big, tough guy, and he hits hard, but so do I. I pack a little punch. I might be smaller than him, but it’s all good.”

The champ has seen Ngannou’s KO power, but to presume he can’t bring the same power would be faulty, he thinks.

“A lot of people don’t think (I have power), and they wake up looking at the lights,” Miocic said. “I can stand with anyone, but I’m going to do what I do. I have the best coaches in the world, a great game plan, I’m going to go out and execute and walk out ‘and still.'”

For more from Miocic, check out the video above.

And for more on UFC 220, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

May 13, 2017; Dallas, TX, USA; Stipe Miocic (red gloves) celebrates after he defeats Junior Dos Santos (blue gloves) during UFC 211 at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports May 13, 2017; Dallas, TX, USA; Stipe Miocic (red gloves) defeats Junior Dos Santos (blue gloves) during UFC 211 at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports May 13, 2017; Dallas, TX, USA; Stipe Miocic (red gloves) fights Junior Dos Santos (blue gloves) during UFC 211 at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports May 13, 2017; Dallas, TX, USA; Stipe Miocic (red gloves) fights Junior Dos Santos (blue gloves) during UFC 211 at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports May 13, 2017; Dallas, TX, USA; Stipe Miocic (red gloves) fights Junior Dos Santos (blue gloves) during UFC 211 at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports May 13, 2017; Dallas, TX, USA; Stipe Miocic (red gloves) defeats Junior Dos Santos (blue gloves) during UFC 211 at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports May 13, 2017; Dallas, TX, USA; Stipe Miocic (red gloves) defeats Junior Dos Santos (blue gloves) during UFC 211 at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports May 13, 2017; Dallas, TX, USA; Stipe Miocic (red gloves)celebrates after he defeats Junior Dos Santos (blue gloves) during UFC 211 at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports Sep 10, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Stipe Miocic (red gloves) competes against Alistair Overeem (blue gloves) during UFC 203 at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports Sep 10, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Stipe Miocic (red gloves) competes against Alistair Overeem (blue gloves) during UFC 203 at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports Sep 10, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Stipe Miocic (red gloves) competes against Alistair Overeem (blue gloves) during UFC 203 at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports Sep 10, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Stipe Miocic (red gloves) competes against Alistair Overeem (blue gloves) during UFC 203 at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports Sep 10, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Stipe Miocic (red gloves) defeats Alistair Overeem (blue gloves) during UFC 203 at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports Sep 10, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Stipe Miocic (red gloves) defeats Alistair Overeem (blue gloves) during UFC 203 at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports Sep 10, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Stipe Miocic (red gloves) greets Alistair Overeem (blue gloves) after their fight in UFC 203 at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports Sep 10, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Stipe Miocic (red gloves) defeats Alistair Overeem (blue gloves) during UFC 203 at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports Sep 10, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Stipe Miocic (red gloves) defeats Alistair Overeem (blue gloves) during UFC 203 at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports May 14, 2016; Curitiba, Brazil; Stipe Miocic (blue) reacts after defeating Fabricio Werdum (red) during UFC 198 Fight Night at Arena Atletico Paranaense. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports May 14, 2016; Curitiba, Brazil; Stipe Miocic (blue) exits the ring after defeating Fabricio Werdum (not pictured) during UFC 198 Fight Night at Arena Atletico Paranaense. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports May 14, 2016; Curitiba, Brazil; Stipe Miocic (blue) reacts after defeating Fabricio Werdum (not pictured) during UFC 198 Fight Night at Arena Atletico Paranaense. 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/GvaJQaMVwy6DqVjCrq5HfK/297126", customAnalytics: true, title: "Stipe Miocic", feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == "undefined") ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();

UFC 220's Francis Ngannou planning quick win, and pretty sure Stipe Miocic rematch won't happen right away

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BOSTON – Francis Ngannou wants to be sure Stipe Miocic doesn’t make UFC history Saturday night.

And if he’s successful, Ngannou (11-1 MMA, 6-0 UFC) is pretty sure he won’t need to give Miocic (17-2 MMA, 11-2 UFC) an immediate rematch, either.

Ngannou challenges Miocic for the heavyweight title in the UFC 220 main event, which takes place at TD Garden in Boston. The main card, which includes two title fights, airs on pay-per-view following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass.

RelatedRise of the Predator: Francis Ngannou, from pro debut to 'KO of the Year'

“How many contenders are in the division right now waiting?” Ngannou posited Wednesday after a workout in Boston. “So I don’t think right away they would just give the rematch to someone who lost. But if he’s there, I’m going to fight everyone. I don’t have a choice in it – I’m open to fight everyone. It doesn’t matter. But I don’t think he’ll be the first one to be a contender again (if I beat him).”

Ngannou didn’t say who he thought that next contender might be. First, he has to go through the champion, who will attempt to become the first heavyweight champion in UFC history with three straight title defenses.

That could be considered an historical indictment on the turnover of the heavyweight division’s elite, but also of just how competitive the weight class is at the highest level.

Ngannou, who less than two months ago brutally knocked out Alistair Overeem at UFC 218 to earn the title shot, believes he’s the next big thing at heavyweight – and that his scary power will continue against Miocic.

“If I was Stipe, I should be afraid of what’s coming Saturday night,” Ngannou said. “It’s a huge challenge – one he’s never faced. I don’t want to go five rounds, but if I have to go, I will go. I trained for five rounds. But I’m not looking to go five rounds. That’s not in my game plan. (My game plan) is to finish the fight quickly and go back home – maybe have a party.”

For more from Ngannou, check out the video above.

And for more on UFC 220, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Francis Ngannou (blue gloves) reacts to fight against Alistair Overeem (red gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Alistair Overeem (red gloves) fights Francis Ngannou (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Alistair Overeem (red gloves) fights Francis Ngannou (blue gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Francis Ngannou (blue gloves) reacts to fight against Alistair Overeem (red gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Dec 2, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Francis Ngannou (blue gloves) reacts to fight against Alistair Overeem (red gloves) during UFC 218 at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports Jan 28, 2017; Denver, CO, USA; Andrei Arlovski (red gloves) competes against Francis Ngannou (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports Jan 28, 2017; Denver, CO, USA; Andrei Arlovski (red gloves) competes against Francis Ngannou (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports Jan 28, 2017; Denver, CO, USA; Andrei Arlovski (red gloves) competes against Francis Ngannou (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports Jan 28, 2017; Denver, CO, USA; Andrei Arlovski (red gloves) competes against Francis Ngannou (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports Jan 28, 2017; Denver, CO, USA; Andrei Arlovski (red gloves) competes against Francis Ngannou (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports Jan 28, 2017; Denver, CO, USA; Francis Ngannou (blue gloves) reacts after defeating Andrei Arlovski (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports Jan 28, 2017; Denver, CO, USA; Francis Ngannou (blue gloves) reacts after defeating Andrei Arlovski (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports Dec 9, 2016; Albany, NY, USA; Anthony Hamilton (blue gloves) fights Francis Ngannou (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Times Union Center. Mandatory Credit: Michael Adamucci-USA TODAY Sports July 23, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Francis Ngannou (red gloves) pins Bojan Mihajlovic (blue gloves) to the mat and wins by TKO during UFC Fight Night at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports July 23, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Francis Ngannou (red gloves) celebrates after defeating Bojan Mihajlovic (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports July 23, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Francis Ngannou (red gloves) celebrates after defeating Bojan Mihajlovic (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports April 10, 2016; Zagreb, Croatia; Francis Ngannou throws a punch against Curtis Blaydes during UFC Fight Night at Zagreb Arena. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports April 10, 2016; Zagreb, Croatia; Francis Ngannou fights against Curtis Blaydes during UFC Fight Night at Zagreb Arena. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports April 10, 2016; Zagreb, Croatia; Francis Ngannou reacts after he is declared the winner by TKO against Curtis Blaydes during UFC Fight Night at Zagreb Arena. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports December 19, 2015; Orlando, FL, USA; Francis Ngannou celebrates his knockout victory against Luis Henrique during UFC Fight Night at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-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/o8xUqxTD73PHU8df7LQMhk/297124", customAnalytics: true, title: "Francis Ngannou", feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == "undefined") ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();

Daniel Cormier doesn't expect easy win vs. Volkan Oezdemir, but expects to win nonetheless

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BOSTON – Daniel Cormier has no problem giving Volkan Oezdemir some props. But that doesn’t mean he’s going to give him much of a chance against him on Saturday.

Cormier (19-1 MMA, 8-1 UFC) puts his light heavyweight title on the line against Oezdemir (15-1 MMA, 3-0 UFC) in the UFC 220 co-main event Saturday at TD Garden in Boston. The main card airs on pay-per-view following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass.

Oezdemir has his title shot as one of the fastest-rising contenders in UFC history. He came to the promotion less than a year ago and it took him just three quick finishes to earn his shot at Cormier and the belt. But Cormier believes he has a major edge.

RelatedUFC 220 co-main-event breakdown: Oddsmakers correct with Daniel Cormier vs. Volkan Oezdemir?

“It’s not going to be easy for either one of us,” Cormier said Wednesday after a workout in Boston. “It’s not going to be easy for me – this guy can fight. But I’ve been here, right? These lights, (the media), the crowd – I’ve done this on a number of occasions. I’ve headlined five UFCs, not even counting UFC 200, I’ve sold 3 million pay-per-views for the company. So I’ve been in these big spots before. I know what to expect.

“This is all brand new to this kid. He’s got to learn to do this in the biggest situation possible. He’s only been on a main card once, so he’s got to make sure the emotion of the moment doesn’t take him and make him do something crazy. But I feel like I’m going to win because I feel like I’m better.”

Cormier is more than a 3-1 favorite in the fight. He’s actually coming off a second loss to Jon Jones this past July, but because Jones tested positive for a banned steroid, that loss was flipped to a no-contest, and Cormier had his title restored by the UFC.

RelatedDaniel Cormier wants to erase Jon Jones 'stench' by smashing Volkan Oezdemir at UFC 220

There’s an expiration date for him as a champion, though – even if he doesn’t think it will happen Saturday against Oezdemir. Cormier insists he won’t fight past 40. He’ll turn the magic number in March 2019, but he doesn’t necessarily think that means he’s down to just a fight or two left.

“This isn’t my last fight,” he said. “I’m going to fight through this year – just because I say I won’t fight (after) I’m 40 doesn’t mean I won’t fight five times this year because I love to compete. I may just hustle through fights so I can fight as many times as I can before I’m 40 years old.”

For more from Cormier, check out the video above.

And for more on UFC 220, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

Apr 8, 2017; Buffalo, NY, USA; Daniel Cormier (red gloves) celebrates after defeating Anthony Johnson (blue gloves) during UFC 210 at KeyBank Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports Apr 8, 2017; Buffalo, NY, USA; Daniel Cormier (red gloves) celebrates after defeating Anthony Johnson (blue gloves) during UFC 210 at KeyBank Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports July 29, 2017; Anaheim, CA, USA; Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier hold onto one another during UFC 214 at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports Apr 8, 2017; Buffalo, NY, USA; Daniel Cormier (red gloves) competes against Anthony Johnson (blue gloves) during UFC 210 at KeyBank Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports Apr 8, 2017; Buffalo, NY, USA; Daniel Cormier (red gloves) competes against Anthony Johnson (blue gloves) during UFC 210 at KeyBank Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports Apr 8, 2017; Buffalo, NY, USA; Daniel Cormier (red gloves) competes against Anthony Johnson (blue gloves) during UFC 210 at KeyBank Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports Jul 9, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Daniel Cormier (red gloves) enters T-Mobile Arena during UFC 200 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports Jul 9, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Daniel Cormier (red gloves) prepares to fight Anderson Silva during UFC 200 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports Jul 9, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Anderson Silva (blue gloves) is punched by Daniel Cormier (red gloves) during UFC 200 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports Jul 9, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Anderson Silva (blue gloves) is punched by Daniel Cormier (red gloves) during UFC 200 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports Jul 9, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Daniel Cormier (red gloves) reacts after his win against Anderson Silva (blue gloves) during UFC 200 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports Oct 3, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Daniel Cormier (red gloves) competes against Alexander Gustafsson (blue gloves) during their World Light Heavyweight Championship at UFC 192 at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports Oct 3, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Daniel Cormier (red gloves) is interviewed by Joe Rogan after defeating Alexander Gustafsson (not pictured) after their World Light Heavyweight Championship at UFC 192 at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports Oct 3, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Daniel Cormier (red gloves) competes against Alexander Gustafsson (blue gloves) during their World Light Heavyweight Championship at UFC 192 at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports Oct 3, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Daniel Cormier (red gloves) celebrates after defeating Alexander Gustafsson (not pictured) after their World Light Heavyweight Championship at UFC 192 at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-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/nSWP6AjXdehwFnqPirqHH5/297105", customAnalytics: true, title: "Daniel Cormier", feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == "undefined") ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();

UFC's Cynthia Calvillo informed of potential USADA violation for marijuana

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On the heels of her first loss, UFC strawweight Cynthia Calvillo has been dealt another blow.

Calvillo (6-1 MMA, 3-1 UFC) has been informed of a potential violation by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency stemming from a positive drug test for marijuana, the UFC announced late Wednesday night.

The positive test stems from an in-competition sample collected in conjunction with UFC 219, which took place Dec. 30 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Calvillo that night lost via unanimous decision to former champion Carla Esparza.

The 30-year-old Calvillo, who’s only fought professionally since 2016, was named MMAjunkie’s “Newcomer of the Year” for 2017. She fought her first four fights in the UFC last year, going 3-1.

Below is the full statement from the UFC:

The UFC organization was notified today that the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) informed Cynthia Calvillo of a potential Anti-Doping Policy violation involving Carboxy-Tetrahydrocannabinol (“Carboxy-THC”) which is a metabolite of marijuana and/or hashish, above the decision limit of 180 ng/mL, stemming from an in-competition sample collected in conjunction with her recent bout in Las Vegas, Nevada on December 30, 2017, UFC 219: Cyborg vs. Holm.

USADA, the independent administrator of the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, will handle the results management and appropriate adjudication of this case involving Calvillo, as it relates to the UFC Anti-Doping Policy and future UFC participation. Because the Nevada Athletic Commission was the regulatory body overseeing the fight in Las Vegas and has licensing jurisdiction over Calvillo, USADA will work to ensure that the Nevada Athletic Commission has the necessary information to determine its proper judgment of Calvillo’s potential anti-doping violation. Additional information will be provided at the appropriate time as the process moves forward.

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

Jul 16, 2017; Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom; Cynthia Calvillo (second from left) poses with her corner crew after defeating Joanne Calderwood (not pictured) during UFC Fight Night at SSE Hydro. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports 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 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; 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 pins Cynthia Calvillo to the mat during UFC 219 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports Jul 16, 2017; Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom; Cynthia Calvillo (blue gloves) reacts before her bout against Joanne Calderwood (not pictured) during UFC Fight Night at SSE Hydro. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Jul 16, 2017; Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom; Joanne Calderwood (red gloves) fights Cynthia Calvillo (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at SSE Hydro. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Jul 16, 2017; Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom; Joanne Calderwood (red gloves) fights Cynthia Calvillo (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at SSE Hydro. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Jul 16, 2017; Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom; Joanne Calderwood (red gloves) fights Cynthia Calvillo (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at SSE Hydro. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Jul 16, 2017; Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom; Joanne Calderwood (red gloves) fights Cynthia Calvillo (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at SSE Hydro. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Jul 16, 2017; Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom; Joanne Calderwood (red gloves) fights Cynthia Calvillo (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at SSE Hydro. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Jul 16, 2017; Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom; (EDITORS NOTE: Graphic Content) Joanne Calderwood (red gloves) fights Cynthia Calvillo (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at SSE Hydro. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Jul 16, 2017; Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom; Cynthia Calvillo (blue gloves) reacts after defeating Joanne Calderwood (not pictured) during UFC Fight Night at SSE Hydro. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Jul 16, 2017; Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom; Cynthia Calvillo (blue gloves) reacts after defeating Joanne Calderwood (left) during UFC Fight Night at SSE Hydro. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Jul 16, 2017; Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom; Cynthia Calvillo (blue gloves) reacts after defeating Joanne Calderwood (not pictured) during UFC Fight Night at SSE Hydro. Mandatory Credit: Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports Apr 8, 2017; Buffalo, NY, USA; Cynthia Calvillo (red gloves) competes against Pearl Gonzalez (blue gloves) during UFC 210 at KeyBank Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports Apr 8, 2017; Buffalo, NY, USA; Cynthia Calvillo (red gloves) competes against Pearl Gonzalez (blue gloves) during UFC 210 at KeyBank Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports Apr 8, 2017; Buffalo, NY, USA; Cynthia Calvillo (red gloves) competes against Pearl Gonzalez (blue gloves) during UFC 210 at KeyBank Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports Apr 8, 2017; Buffalo, NY, USA; Cynthia Calvillo (red gloves) celebrates her victory over Pearl Gonzalez (blue gloves) during UFC 210 at KeyBank Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports Apr 8, 2017; Buffalo, NY, USA; Cynthia Calvillo (red gloves) celebrates her victory over Pearl Gonzalez (blue gloves) during UFC 210 at KeyBank Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-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/Ssxj8krjxcAidooW5PJ8Mn/297101", customAnalytics: true, title: "Cynthia Calvillo", feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == "undefined") ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();

Despite skid, UFC 220's Gian Villante has title aspirations once he gets it going again

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BOSTON – After a rough 2017, Gian Villante almost certainly was happy to see the calendar turn this month.

But he’s not one to make New Year’s resolutions, at least when it comes to his fighting career. Instead, the light heavyweight believes getting over his two-fight skid is a matter of just wrapping up things once he has an opponent hurt.

That’s something he said he didn’t do when he was stopped in the third round by former champ Mauricio Rua 10 months ago, and when he dropped a split decision to Patrick Cummins in July.

RelatedGian Villante on 'weird' UFC on FOX 25 scrap with Patrick Cummins: 'I don't know where I lost'

“I’ve had some rough ones, man – ones where I had the guys hurt and don’t finish the guys,” Villante today told MMAjunkie. “It’s something I think I’ve got to fix a little bit. I said it after the ‘Shogun’ fight, where I hurt him and didn’t finish him. The same thing happened with Cummins – I hurt him three or four times that fight and didn’t finish it.

“It’s a matter of when I do hurt the guy, I’ve got to finish the fight. It’s not a matter of if I hurt the guy, it’s when I hurt the guy. I’ve got to get that done this time around.”

This time around, Villante (15-9 MMA, 5-6 UFC) fights Francimar Barroso (19-6 MMA, 4-3 UFC) at UFC 220. The event takes place Saturday at TD Garden in Boston. The main card, which includes two title fights and Villante vs. Barroso, airs on pay-per-view following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass.

Villante had been on an up-and-down run in the UFC before his two-fight slide, and he’s dropped three of his past four. But the flip side of that equation is that in his past four wins, he’s earned three “Fight of the Night” bonuses.

“I do think I have the talent,” Villante said. “People, I’m sure, have seen it – that I do have the talent and the skill set to go pretty far in this division. … I’m a bad matchup for anyone, and I can knock anybody out at any moment. They ain’t gonna get me down to the ground and wrestle me out. I could do a lot of damage in this division, but I have to string together some wins first and see how it goes.

“I can see myself being a champ some day, but it’s a matter of putting the right fights together and getting it going.”

Villante hopes that string starts with Brazil’s Barroso, an opponent who fell into that “right fight” category, on Saturday night.

Barroso is coming off a loss of his own this past September in the Netherlands, where he dropped a decision to Aleksandar Rakic. He has setbacks in two of his past three fights, and Villante believes he knows what he’ll be trying to do once the bell rings.

“He’s a guy who’s going to try to slow it down, get me against the fence and try to take me down,” Villante said. “He’s got a good right hand – powerful dude, just like anyone else. You get to this size, these big dudes, anyone’s powerful or a decent wrestler. In the UFC, everyone’s good. There are no easy fights. But this is a fight that’s a very winnable fight for me, and I like the matchup stylistically.”

From Villante’s end of things, he needs a win, to be certain, to snap the first losing skid he’s had in the UFC. But that’s not going to stop him from wanting to make a statement with how he gets it done.

And regardless of whether or not Barroso might know just what kind of power Villante has, Villante said that power is coming no matter what.

“He can try to harp on, ‘Oh, man, this guy hits hard,’ or he can overlook it,” Villante said. “Either way, I still hit hard. It’s a matter of just doing it. No matter what he’s thinking, it’s still going to happen. (I need to) just get the knockout. I’d like to do it quick, but I’d like the knockout whenever it happens.”

For more on UFC 220, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

Nov 15, 2015; Melbourne, Australia; Anthony Perosh (red gloves) competes against Gian Villante (blue gloves) during UFC 193 at Etihad Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Roberts-USA TODAY Sports Nov 15, 2015; Melbourne, Australia; Anthony Perosh (red gloves) competes against Gian Villante (blue gloves) during UFC 193 at Etihad Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Roberts-USA TODAY Sports Nov 15, 2015; Melbourne, Australia; Anthony Perosh (red gloves) competes against Gian Villante (blue gloves) during UFC 193 at Etihad Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Roberts-USA TODAY Sports Jul 25, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Tom Lawlor (blue gloves) fights against Gian Villante (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports Jul 25, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Tom Lawlor (blue gloves) fights against Gian Villante (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports Jul 25, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Tom Lawlor (blue gloves) fights against Gian Villante (red gloves) during UFC Fight Night at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports Jul 24, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Gian Villante during weigh ins for UFC Fight Night at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports Apr 18, 2015; Newark, NJ, USA; Gian Villante (blue) reacts after knocking out Corey Anderson (not pictured) during UFC Fight Night at Prudential Center. Villante won via third round TKO. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports Apr 18, 2015; Newark, NJ, USA; Corey Anderson (red) and Gian Villante (blue) fight during UFC Fight Night at Prudential Center. Villante won via third round TKO. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports Apr 18, 2015; Newark, NJ, USA; Corey Anderson (red) and Gian Villante (blue) fight during UFC Fight Night at Prudential Center. Villante won via third round TKO. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports Apr 18, 2015; Newark, NJ, USA; Corey Anderson (red) and Gian Villante (blue) fight during UFC Fight Night at Prudential Center. Villante won via third round TKO. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports Apr 18, 2015; Newark, NJ, USA; Corey Anderson (red) and Gian Villante (blue) fight during UFC Fight Night at Prudential Center. Villante won via third round TKO. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports Apr 18, 2015; Newark, NJ, USA; Corey Anderson (red) and Gian Villante (blue) fight during UFC Fight Night at Prudential Center. Villante won via third round TKO. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports Apr 18, 2015; Newark, NJ, USA; Corey Anderson (red) and Gian Villante (blue) fight during UFC Fight Night at Prudential Center. Villante won via third round TKO. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports Apr 18, 2015; Newark, NJ, USA; Corey Anderson (red) and Gian Villante (blue) fight during UFC Fight Night at Prudential Center. Villante won via third round TKO. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports Apr 18, 2015; Newark, NJ, USA; Corey Anderson (red) and Gian Villante (blue) fight during UFC Fight Night at Prudential Center. Villante won via third round TKO. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports Nov 16, 2013; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Cody Donovan (red gloves) fights against Gian Villante (blue gloves) in their light heavyweight bout during UFC 167 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports Nov 16, 2013; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Cody Donovan (red gloves) fights against Gian Villante (blue gloves) in their light heavyweight bout during UFC 167 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports Nov 16, 2013; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Cody Donovan (red gloves) fights against Gian Villante (blue gloves) in their light heavyweight bout during UFC 167 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports Nov 15, 2013; Las Vegas, NV, USA; UFC fighter Gian Villante participates in the official weigh-in of UFC 167 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-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/7LJfw73nNMENG8KQCEbeB8/296938", customAnalytics: true, title: "Gian Villante", feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == "undefined") ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();

'Rampage' Jackson promises big improvements after big sacrifice (he went cold turkey on ketchup)

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LOS ANGELES – It’s not exactly surprising to hear a fighter tell you how phenomenal he or she feels before a contest. Yet Quinton Jackson finds a way to make even that mundane proclamation unique.

“The No. 1 thing that I improved on is I cut out ketchup,” Jackson told reporters at today’s open workouts in Los Angeles. “You guys are laughing, but ketchup has probably been my worst enemy. I drown all my food in ketchup every meal I have, and I’ve finally cut it out.”

Jackson (37-12 MMA, 4-1 BMMA) faces fellow veteran Chael Sonnen (29-15-1 MMA, 1-1 BMMA) in the main event of Saturday’s Bellator 192 event at The Forum in Inglewood, Calif. The night’s main card airs on the newly rebranded Paramount, while prelims stream on MMAjunkie.

The matchup kicks off Bellator’s year-long heavyweight grand prix, which will crown the promotion’s next heavyweight champion.

Jackson has spent the vast majority of his career at light heavyweight, while Sonnen has largely competed as a middleweight, so the contest has a bit of an old-school, openweight feel. But even fighting up a division, Jackson insists diet has been at the center of his focus.

“Fighting at 205 pretty much my whole career, then not having to worry about weight, it’s a big stress relief,” Jackson said. “The whole weight thing has been my downfall for a long time. I didn’t know I had a thyroid problem.

“Even though I’m fighting at heavyweight, I still followed a strict diet. My coaches were like (expletive) about it.”

Jackson also competed at heavyweight this past March, tipping the scales at 253 pounds, though his frame didn’t exactly impress at the Bellator 175 contest. This time around, he appears to be in better physical condition, though he declined to reveal his exact weight.

“Me being a heavyweight, I know I’m under 265, so I haven’t weighed myself in a while,” he told MMAjunkie.

Since that last outing, Jackson has sought treatment for an under-active thyroid, a condition he said not only fatigued him but also made it nearly impossible to lose weight. Now, with medication, he says his body feels better than it has in years.

Oh, and the ketchup.

“I know I’m disciplined,” Jackson said. “I know I’m really motivated to win this tournament. I gave up ketchup, and that’s something that I’ve really loved since I was a kid.

“When I cut out the ketchup, that’s when (the weight) came off. As soon as I cut out the ketchup, you could see it in my face. It took like three or four days.”

Oddsmakers currently view Jackson as the favorite, though it will certainly come down to whether or not he can keep Sonnen’s wrestling attacks at bay. If successful, Jackson’s size and power advantages should see him through to a victory.

But Jackson believes with great sacrifices will come great reward, and potentially great violence, as well.

“Chael might decide, like, ‘Wow, what the hell am I doing in here?'” Jackson said. “You’ll see it. You guys can read his eyes.

“After the first minute or so, he’s going to be like, ‘Why did I step in this cage with ‘Rampage’?’ Because he won’t see Quinton. He’s going to see ‘Rampage.'”

To hear more from Jackson, check out the video above.

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

May 17, 2014; Southaven, MS, USA; Quinton Jackson after the fight against Muhammed Lawal during BFC 120 at Landers Center. Mandatory Credit: Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports May 17, 2014; Southaven, MS, USA; Muhammed Lawal (red gloves) fights against Quinton Jackson (blue gloves) during BFC 120 at Landers Center. Quinton Jackson defeats Muhammed Lawal by unanimous decision. Mandatory Credit: Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports May 17, 2014; Southaven, MS, USA; Muhammed Lawal (red gloves) fights against Quinton Jackson (blue gloves) during BFC 120 at Landers Center. Quinton Jackson defeats Muhammed Lawal by unanimous decision. Mandatory Credit: Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports May 17, 2014; Southaven, MS, USA; Muhammed Lawal (red gloves) fights against Quinton Jackson (blue gloves) during BFC 120 at Landers Center. Quinton Jackson defeats Muhammed Lawal by unanimous decision. Mandatory Credit: Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports May 17, 2014; Southaven, MS, USA; Muhammed Lawal (red gloves) fights against Quinton Jackson (blue gloves) during BFC 120 at Landers Center. Quinton Jackson defeats Muhammed Lawal by unanimous decision. Mandatory Credit: Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports May 17, 2014; Southaven, MS, USA; Muhammed Lawal (red gloves) fights against Quinton Jackson (blue gloves) during BFC 120 at Landers Center. Quinton Jackson defeats Muhammed Lawal by unanimous decision. Mandatory Credit: Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports May 17, 2014; Southaven, MS, USA; Muhammed Lawal (red gloves) fights against Quinton Jackson (blue gloves) during BFC 120 at Landers Center. Quinton Jackson defeats Muhammed Lawal by unanimous decision. Mandatory Credit: Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports May 17, 2014; Southaven, MS, USA; Quinton Jackson walks out before the fight against Muhammed Lawal during BFC 120 at Landers Center. Mandatory Credit: Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports May 17, 2014; Southaven, MS, USA; Muhammed Lawal after the fight against Quinton Jackson during BFC 120 at Landers Center. Quinton Jackson defeats Muhammed Lawal by unanimous decision. Mandatory Credit: Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports May 17, 2014; Southaven, MS, USA; Muhammed Lawal after the fight against Quinton Jackson during BFC 120 at Landers Center. Quinton Jackson defeats Muhammed Lawal by unanimous decision. Mandatory Credit: Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports May 17, 2014; Southaven, MS, USA; Muhammed Lawal (red gloves) fights against Quinton Jackson (blue gloves) during BFC 120 at Landers Center. Quinton Jackson defeats Muhammed Lawal by unanimous decision. Mandatory Credit: Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports May 17, 2014; Southaven, MS, USA; Muhammed Lawal (red gloves) fights against Quinton Jackson (blue gloves) during BFC 120 at Landers Center. Quinton Jackson defeats Muhammed Lawal by unanimous decision. Mandatory Credit: Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports May 17, 2014; Southaven, MS, USA; Muhammed Lawal between rounds against Quinton Jackson during BFC 120 at Landers Center. Mandatory Credit: Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports May 17, 2014; Southaven, MS, USA; Muhammed Lawal (red gloves) fights against Quinton Jackson (blue gloves) during BFC 120 at Landers Center. Quinton Jackson defeats Muhammed Lawal by unanimous decision. Mandatory Credit: Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports May 17, 2014; Southaven, MS, USA; Muhammed Lawal (red gloves) fights against Quinton Jackson (blue gloves) during BFC 120 at Landers Center. Quinton Jackson defeats Muhammed Lawal by unanimous decision. Mandatory Credit: Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports May 17, 2014; Southaven, MS, USA; Muhammed Lawal (red gloves) fights against Quinton Jackson (blue gloves) during BFC 120 at Landers Center. Quinton Jackson defeats Muhammed Lawal by unanimous decision. Mandatory Credit: Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports May 17, 2014; Southaven, MS, USA; Muhammed Lawal (red gloves) fights against Quinton Jackson (blue gloves) during BFC 120 at Landers Center. Quinton Jackson defeats Muhammed Lawal by unanimous decision. Mandatory Credit: Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports May 17, 2014; Southaven, MS, USA; Muhammed Lawal (red gloves) fights against Quinton Jackson (blue gloves) during BFC 120 at Landers Center. Quinton Jackson defeats Muhammed Lawal by unanimous decision. Mandatory Credit: Justin Ford-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/qubEcY54iBjEhPfxX8V7pL/297062", customAnalytics: true, title: "Quinton \'Rampage\' Jackson", feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == "undefined") ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();

Chael Sonnen describes backstage altercation with Chuck Liddell at 'Rich Eisen Show'

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LOS ANGELES – Either a booker messed up, or someone wanted to see sparks fly.

Either way, Chael Sonnen (29-15-1 MMA, 1-1 BMMA) found himself in a shouting match with Chuck Liddell (21-8 MMA, 16-6 UFC) at a studio while promoting his upcoming fight with Quinton Jackson (37-12 MMA, 4-1 BMMA) at Bellator 192.

On Tuesday, Sonnen made an appearance on NFL Network’s “The Rich Eisen Show” and was asked to leave a message for Liddell, who would be on the show today. Of course, he didn’t leave the friendliest of messages, making fun of Liddell’s trademark mohawk.

What Sonnen didn’t realize was Liddell actually was scheduled for Tuesday, as well.

“Turns out, old Chuck was in the back, watching it in the back with my mother,” Sonnen told reporters at today’s media day for his heavyweight grand prix bout, which co-headlines the Paramount-televised event Saturday at The Forum. “So my mom and uncle had to get involved, and it was just a big colossal nightmare.”

Sonnen said the two needed to be separated, and things got weird. But he downplayed the fallout.

“I don’t think there’s anything there,” he said. “I don’t think he’s going to fight again. I didn’t ask him point blank, because we were too busy yelling at one other. He looked like he was in shape.”

It’s no wonder, because Liddell literally has been climbing mountains as a cast member on the new YouTube Red reality series “Ultimate Expedition.” The UFC Hall of Famer traveled to Peru to climb a 20,000-foot mountain in the Andes.

Sonnen has made no secret of the fact he’d like Liddell to come out of retirement. Liddell has welcomed the idea. The two have traded barbs in what seemed like the buildup to a fight.

President Scott Coker has thrown some cold water on the idea, noting Liddell would need to undergo a battery of tests before being allowed to fight. After his latest run-in, however, Sonnen is readier than ever to meet Liddell in the cage.

“I’m up for it right now,” Sonnen said today. “I’m ready to fight him yesterday in the green room, would have reached right over my mother.”

The feeling is probably mutual for Liddell, who apparently wasn’t shy about voicing some of his long-held criticisms about Sonnen. Sonnen thinks the retired fighter is just feeling left out of a changing of the guard in the sport.

“Chuck is seemingly a very nice guy,” he said. “But he came through the competition era. And we’re in the entertainment era. Some of those guys, they get offended a little easier. The table they helped set, and he did in fairness, has changed. They feel like it changes their legacy, and they feel left out.

“Let him be pissed. What do I care about Chuck’s feelings?”

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

Nov 16, 2013; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Chael Sonnen (blue gloves) walks towards the cage before his light heavyweight bout during UFC 167 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports Mar 2, 2014; Avondale, AZ, USA; NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Jimmie Johnson greets UFC fighter Chael Sonnen prior to the The Profit on CNBC 500 at Phoenix International Raceway. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports Nov 15, 2013; Las Vegas, NV, USA; UFC fighter Chael Sonnen participates in the official weigh-in of UFC 167 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports Aug 17, 2013; Boston, MA, USA; Chael Sonnen celebrates his win over Shogun Rua (not shown) during a UFC light heavyweight match at the TD Garden. Sonnen won in one round by a knockout. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports Aug 17, 2013; Boston, MA, USA; Chael Sonnen (right) celebrates his win over Shogun Rua (left) during a UFC light heavyweight match at the TD Garden. Sonnen won in one round by a knockout. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports Aug 17, 2013; Boston, MA, USA; Chael Sonnen is congratulated after defeating Shogun Rua during a UFC Light Heavyweight match at the TD Garden. Sonnen won in one round by a knockout. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports Aug 17, 2013; Boston, MA, USA; Chael Sonnen, left, fights Shogun Rua during a UFC Light Heavyweight match at the TD Garden. Sonnen won in one round by a knockout. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports Aug 17, 2013; Boston, MA, USA; Chael Sonnen (top) fights Shogun Rua (bottom) during a UFC light heavyweight match at the TD Garden. Sonnen won in one round by a knockout. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports Aug 17, 2013; Boston, MA, USA; Chael Sonnen (top) fights Shogun Rua (bottom) during a UFC light heavyweight match at the TD Garden. Sonnen won in one round by a knockout. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports Aug 17, 2013; Boston, MA, USA; Chael Sonnen, bottom, fights Shogun Rua during a UFC Light Heavyweight match at the TD Garden. Sonnen won in one round by a knockout. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports Apr 27, 2013; Newark, NJ, USA; Chael Sonnen during a press conference after UFC 159 at the Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports Apr 26, 2013; Newark, NJ, USA; Chael Sonnen (right) is interviewed by Joe Rogan after being weighed in for his light heavyweight title bout against Jon Jones (not pictured) at the Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-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 26, 2013; Newark, NJ, USA; Chael Sonnen weighs in for his light heavyweight title bout against Jon Jones (not pictured) at the Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports Jul. 7, 2012; Las Vegas, NV, USA; UFC fighter Chael Sonnen reacts after losing to Anderson Silva (not pictured) during a middleweight bout in UFC 148 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports Jul. 7, 2012; Las Vegas, NV, USA; UFC fighter Chael Sonnen in the ring prior to his fight against Anderson Silva (not pictured) during a middleweight bout in UFC 148 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports Jul. 7, 2012; Las Vegas, NV, USA; UFC fighter Chael Sonnen reacts after losing to Anderson Silva (not pictured) during a middleweight bout in UFC 148 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports Jul. 7, 2012; Las Vegas, NV, USA; UFC fighter Chael Sonnen (left) against Anderson Silva during a middleweight bout in UFC 148 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports Jul. 7, 2012; Las Vegas, NV, USA; UFC fighter Chael Sonnen in the ring prior to his fight against Anderson Silva (not pictured) during a middleweight bout in UFC 148 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports jQuery.extend( window._usmgOptions,{ scriptUrl: "https://s2.wp.com/wp-content/themes/vip/usatoday-plugins/api-galleries/assets", analyticsCallback: "galleryAnalytics", fullscreenUrl: "http://mmajunkie.com/sigallery/GuzbemZTMUQNSCBJTDq7Wk/297054", customAnalytics: true, title: "Chael Sonnen", feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == "undefined") ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();

Rory MacDonald isn't dwelling on Bellator 192 main-event snub: 'I feel like a champion already'

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LOS ANGELES – When it was announced last week that Chael Sonnen vs. Quinton Jackson would be the Bellator 192 main event, Rory MacDonald admits he was taken aback.

MacDonald  (19-4 MMA, 1-0 BMMA) didn’t get a call from president Scott Coker or anyone else from the promotion to inform him that his welterweight title fight vs. champ Douglas Lima (29-6 MMA, 11-2 BMMA) had been bumped down to co-headliner. He found out through the media like everyone else.

“Out of the blue. Didn’t see it coming,” MacDonald said of Bellator’s decision during today’s open workouts. “… Total shocker. Didn’t really know how to take it. I understand why the decision was made. After hearing why and everything, it’s their business. That’s how they want to run things. My business is in the cage, so I’m focused on that.”

RelatedBellator 192 pre-event facts: Champ Douglas Lima looks to add to knockout record

Does MacDonald plan on having a conversation with Coker this week about the snub? No.

He’s in a zone.

“It’s not something I want to have a discussion with someone and then they tell me something that’s going to affect me negatively,” MacDonald said. “I’m in a positive space right now. I’m focused on going out there and doing my thing. I’m just staying in that mind frame. I’m not going to get distracted with all these political things. My business is the fighting, so I’m just going to focus on that.”

Bellator 192 takes place Saturday at The Forum in Inglewood, Calif., and airs on the new Paramount Network (formerly Spike). In front of MacDonald is a huge opportunity to stake his claim as the best 170-pounder in the world.

MacDonald’s been in a similar position before. In 2015, he lost to then-UFC champ Robbie Lawler in a grueling, bloody battle that was named “Fight of the Year.”

RelatedDouglas Lima wants respect if he beats Rory MacDonald at Bellator 192 – but he won't beg for it

The expectation for MacDonald when he signed with Bellator last year was that he would soon compete for the title. After a second-round submission win over Paul Daley last May at Bellator 179 in his debut, the opportunity immediately presented itself.

MacDonald, as you might expect, is relaxed as ever about what’s at stake.

“There’s really no anxiety about losing in my mind,” he said. “I feel like a champion already. I just got to go out there and do exactly what I did through training camp, and it’s going to happen.”

“These are the moments that you dream about as a fighter, to be a world champion,” MacDonald continued. “Lima is a world-class competitor. Even though he’s never fought in the UFC, I could see him competing against champions in the UFC any day. I took this fight very serious, trained very hard for this, and I’m ready to take what’s mine.”

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

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