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'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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Bellator 192's Michael Chandler is in the Michael Chandler business above all else

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Michael Chandler might be up for title shot, but he cares more about the Michael Chandler business.

It has to be that way now, as the ex-Bellator lightweight champ sees things. He can’t wait for others. He has to forge his own path.

Thus, Chandler (16-4 MMA, 13-4 BMMA) won’t make predictions about how things will unfold in his lightweight division. He stopped trying to predict things after a freak accident left him without the title, and a seemingly guaranteed rematch was scuttled.

“It doesn’t really mean anything right now,” he told MMAjunkie in advance of his main-card fight with Goiti Yamauchi (22-3 MMA, 8-2 BMMA) at Bellator 192, which takes place Saturday at The Forum in Los Angeles and airs live on Paramount. “It needs me, I’ll say that much.

“But you’ve got a champion who refuses to defend the belt, for no other reason than he’s part-time fighter and he’s on maternity leave. You’ve got me, who’s the biggest name in the division by far, head and shoulders above everyone else.

“So it’s a precarious situation, and all I can focus on is Jan. 20. I could care less about the lightweight title.”

Bellator President Scott Coker gave Chandler a very good reason to care when he told “The MMA Hour” that the winner of his fight will receive a title shot against champ Brett Primus, who delayed his first title defense in advance of his child being born.

RelatedBellator 192's Michael Chandler: Goiti Yamauchi tougher than 'so-called fighter' Brent Primus

That would give Chandler a chance to avenge a very painful loss to Primus this past June. Chandler, attempting the second defense of his second go-around as lightweight champ, hadn’t really built any momentum when he injured his ankle and hobbled around the cage until a cageside doctor called off the fight.

Chandler assumed a rematch would be on the table when he healed. Instead, he was left hanging.

Now, he leaves the decision about the future of his career to this promoter. He could continue on at lightweight. Ultimately, though, he’s interested in moving up to welterweight regardless of what happens in his division. He wants big fights.

“It’s not up to me; let’s be honest,” he said. “Bellator are the promoters, and they’re very good at what they do. We’ll do this fight and see what’s next. There’s both opportunities.

“The other ‘Pitbull’ brother (Bellator featherweight champ Patricio Freire) has been talking trash, talking about decapitating me for the last couple of years, and he needs to get smacked around. So that’s a guy that’s smaller than me. And then there are guys that are supposedly bigger than me at 170; Paul Daley and some of those guys would be a phenomenal guys for me to go out and smash.”

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

Nov 2, 2013; Long Beach, CA, USA; Eddie Alvarez (red gloves) and Michael Chandler (blue gloves) during their Bellator lightweight world championship fight at the Long Beach Arena. Chandler won the fight. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports Nov 2, 2013; Long Beach, CA, USA; Eddie Alvarez (red gloves ) and Michael Chandler (blue gloves) during their Bellator Lightweight World Championship fight at the Long Beach Arena. Alvarez won the fight. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports Nov 2, 2013; Long Beach, CA, USA; Michael Chandler during his Bellator lightweight world championship fight against Eddie Alvarez (not pictured ) at the Long Beach Arena. Alvarez won the fight. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports Nov 2, 2013; Long Beach, CA, USA; Eddie Alvarez (red gloves) and Michael Chandler (blue gloves) during their Bellator lightweight world championship fight at the Long Beach Arena. Alvarez won the fight. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports May 17, 2014; Southaven, MS, USA; Michael Chandler walks out before the fight against Will Brooks during a Bellator interim lightweight world championship bout during BFC 120 at Landers Center. Will Brooks defeats Michael Chandler by submission. Mandatory Credit: Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports May 17, 2014; Southaven, MS, USA; Will Brooks fights against Michael Chandler during a Bellator interim lightweight world championship bout during BFC 120 at Landers Center. Will Brooks defeats Michael Chandler by submission. Mandatory Credit: Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports May 17, 2014; Southaven, MS, USA; Will Brooks fights against Michael Chandler during a Bellator interim lightweight world championship bout during BFC 120 at Landers Center. Will Brooks defeats Michael Chandler by submission. Mandatory Credit: Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports May 17, 2014; Southaven, MS, USA; Will Brooks fights against Michael Chandler during a Bellator interim lightweight world championship bout during BFC 120 at Landers Center. Will Brooks defeats Michael Chandler by submission. Mandatory Credit: Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports May 17, 2014; Southaven, MS, USA; Michael Chandler between rounds against Will Brooks during a Bellator interim lightweight world championship bout during BFC 120 at Landers Center. Will Brooks defeats Michael Chandler by submission. Mandatory Credit: Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports Jun 24, 2017; New York, NY, USA; Michael Chandler (red gloves) fights Brent Primus (blue gloves) during Bellator NYC at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports Jun 24, 2017; New York, NY, USA; Michael Chandler (red gloves) ankle looked at buy doctor during fight against Brent Primus (blue gloves) during Bellator NYC at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports Jun 24, 2017; New York, NY, USA; Michael Chandler (red gloves) ankle durning the fight against Brent Primus (blue gloves) during Bellator NYC at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports Jun 24, 2017; New York, NY, USA; Michael Chandler (red gloves) fights Brent Primus (blue gloves) during Bellator NYC at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports Jun 24, 2017; New York, NY, USA; Michael Chandler (red gloves) fights Brent Primus (blue gloves) during Bellator NYC at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports Jun 24, 2017; New York, NY, USA; Michael Chandler (red gloves) fights Brent Primus (blue gloves) during Bellator NYC at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports 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/ubhrtCYNX7jFAUkbyTTKuK/296962", customAnalytics: true, title: "Michael Chandler", feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == "undefined") ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();

Dustin Poirier vs. Justin Gaethje targeted for spring showdown

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Dustin Poirier won’t get his rematch with Eddie Alvarez just yet, but a pretty nice concession is in the works.

A fight between Poirier (22-5 MMA, 14-4 UFC) and Justin Gaethje (18-1 MMA, 1-1 UFC) is in the works for spring, according to two people with knowledge of the situation, who told MMAjunkie the bout could take place as early as UFC 222 or an event in April. They spoke on the condition of anonymity because the UFC has yet to make the matchup public.

Bout sheets have yet to be signed, but verbal agreements are in place.

RelatedDustin Poirier: I owe Eddie Alvarez 'an ass-whooping,' but he knows it's a bad matchup

UFC 222 is set for March 3 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas and features a Max Holloway-Frankie Edgar featherweight title fight as the main event. The only known event currently scheduled for April is UFC 223, which takes place at Barclays Center, in Brooklyn, N.Y., and features a headliner between interim lightweight champion Tony Ferguson and Khabib Nurmagomedov.

Poirier is two months removed from an emphatic win over ex-lightweight champion Anthony Pettis (20-7 MMA, 7-6 UFC), which put him back in the win column after a controversial no-contest against Alvarez.

Alvarez pivoted on a rematch with Poirier after their UFC 211 bout, opting instead to coach Season 26 of “The Ultimate Fighter” opposite Gaethje. The two delivered a “Fight of the Year” candidate at UFC 218 with Alvarez (29-5 MMA, 4-2 UFC) gutting it out for a third-round TKO. Poirier resumed his campaign for a rematch, to no avail.

With a logjam at the top of the lightweight division soon to cleared, the winner of Poirier vs. Gaethje could be poised for a title shot.

For more info on UFC 222 and UFC 223, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

Nov 11, 2017; Virginia, VA, USA; Dustin Poirier (red gloves) reacts after beating Anthony Pettis (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; Anthony Pettis (blue gloves) walks out for the fight against Dustin Poirier (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; Dustin Poirier (red gloves) walks out tot he fight against Anthony Pettis (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; Dustin Poirier (red gloves) fights Anthony Pettis (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; Dustin Poirier (red gloves) fights Anthony Pettis (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; Dustin Poirier (red gloves) fights Anthony Pettis (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; Dustin Poirier (red gloves) fights Anthony Pettis (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; Dustin Poirier (red gloves) fights Anthony Pettis (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; Dustin Poirier (red gloves) fights Anthony Pettis (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; Dustin Poirier (red gloves) fights Anthony Pettis (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; Dustin Poirier (red gloves) fights Anthony Pettis (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; Dustin Poirier (red gloves) fights Anthony Pettis (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; Dustin Poirier (red gloves) fights Anthony Pettis (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; Dustin Poirier (red gloves) fights Anthony Pettis (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; Dustin Poirier (red gloves) fights Anthony Pettis (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; Dustin Poirier (red gloves) fights Anthony Pettis (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; Dustin Poirier (red gloves) fights Anthony Pettis (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; Dustin Poirier (red gloves) fights Anthony Pettis (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; Dustin Poirier (red gloves) fights Anthony Pettis (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; Dustin Poirier (red gloves) fights Anthony Pettis (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; Dustin Poirier (red gloves) fights Anthony Pettis (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; Dustin Poirier (red gloves) celebrates beating Anthony Pettis (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; Dustin Poirier (red gloves) fights Anthony Pettis (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; Anthony Pettis (blue gloves) leaves the fight against Dustin Poirier (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/oLeXGUMhkr8i7LDMVe8As8/297045", customAnalytics: true, title: "Poirier def. Pettis", feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == "undefined") ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();

'UFC 220 Embedded,' No. 3: Daniel Cormier is not impressed with what he sees

MMA Junkie News -

The UFC kicks off the pay-per-view portion of 2018 this week, and the promotion has rolled out its “Embedded” treatment for a preview of UFC 220.

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

In the headliner, heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic (17-2 MMA, 11-2 UFC), who’s No. 1 in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA heavyweight rankings, takes on No. 2-ranked Francis Ngannou (11-1 MMA, 6-0 UFC). And in the co-main event, Daniel Cormier(19-1 MMA, 8-1 UFC) meets Volkan Oezdemir (15-1 MMA, 3-0 UFC) in his first title defense of his second go-round as light heavyweight champion.

Here’s the UFC’s description of the second “Embedded” episode:

On Episode 3 of UFC 220 Embedded, light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier keeps the mood light in the hotel gym. Opponent Volkan Oezdemir finishes his training camp in Florida and packs a Swiss flag for the trip. Heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic makes his way to Bristol, Connecticut, where he and challenger Francis Ngannou do a day of media appearances. UFC 220 Embedded is an all-access, behind-the-scenes video blog leading up to the world heavyweight championship bout at UFC 220: Miocic vs. Ngannou on Saturday, January 20th on Pay-Per-View.

Check out the full episode in the video above.

Also see:

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/HEBcogVsJo8qj8t4c4FpL7/297036", customAnalytics: true, title: "Volkan Oezdemir", feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == "undefined") ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();

How UFC newcomer Mackenzie Dern is embracing MMA without forgetting her jiu-jitsu roots

MMA Junkie News -

When she spoke to MMAjunkie 15 months ago, Mackenzie Dern wasn’t there yet,  but she knew a time would come when jiu-jitsu would have to take a backseat to MMA.

Then two wins into her pro MMA career, the grappling ace said she simply couldn’t yet live off her new sport. Jiu-jitsu remained a passion and something that Dern still excelled at. More pragmatically, it was still what paid the bills.

Now things have changed.

Dern went on to fight three more times, with three wins. The last of them, a submission over Kaline Medeiros at Invicta FC 26, stamped Dern’s ticket to the UFC. She meets fellow strawweight Ashley Yoder on March 3 at UFC 222 in Las Vegas.

And so the time has come for a slight shift in focus.

“It’s very hard, because I really love jiu-jitsu,” Dern told MMAjunkie. “It’s very hard for me to just drop it. But, from the start, I said that when I joined the UFC – which has a much better fight purse than other promotions and is a much higher level – I said I would focus 100 percent in MMA.”

OK, so it’s more like 90 percent.

“I want to keep doing super fights if I don’t have an MMA fight scheduled,” Dern said. “I want to fight the World Championships, ADCC, the major ones. If I don’t have an MMA fight scheduled, I’ll try to do that. Obviously, I won’t fight the smaller championships like I did before.

“But I know that now I have to put 100 percent of dedication into MMA. So the priority will be MMA. Around May or June, I’ll try not to schedule MMA fights in order to be in the World Championships or something. But the priority will be MMA.”

RelatedVideo: Watch Mackenzie Dern get the tap in her Invicta FC debut

Of course, Dern is not just any UFC debutant. A jiu-jitsu practitioner since she was 3, she brings in more than two decades’ worth of mat experience and multiple world titles. As it happens with fighters who have done so much in a previous field, like Bellator’s Aaron Pico, the grappling ace has been watched from her very first time in a cage.

Sure, that means everyone got to watch as Dern scored three submission wins – including a particularly elaborate finish over “TUF 26” alum Montana De La Rosa. But, on the flip side, it also means everyone got to see her missing weight twice.

While some fighters get to grow quietly in the amateur circle, making their mistakes away from the public eye, whatever Dern does – good or bad – gets put under the microscope.

“For sure, there’s a lot of criticism,” Dern said. “Toward my striking or the fact that I missed weight. Maybe a lot more than other fighters who are just getting this experience. I think the thing I hear the most is to not be like Ronda Rousey, who thought she was a striker and fought a girl who had good timing and movement and lost.”

That’s an interesting way to get compared to former 135-pound UFC champion Rousey. A few years ago, the dominant judoka was seen as the ultimate compass for success in MMA. But then, after back-to-back knockout losses to Holly Holm and Amanda Nunes, respectively, her striking ability came under fire – and, with it, a lot of her credibility.

Dern looks at these types of comments two ways.

“It keeps me grounded. It reminds me to not make mistakes other fighters have made,” Dern said. “The fact that everyone is watching, critiquing, making these comments – I think it’s good, even. Because it keeps reminding me that I’m from jiu-jitsu.

“But I also like proving myself. I like proving people wrong – or even proving them right, too. I take it in stride. I don’t see it as a bad thing.”

Dern has been presented with the classic MMA dilemma, which seems particularly tricky considering lifelong grapplers: How to stay true to yourself and stick to your strengths without becoming one-dimensional – or even boring.

It’s a thin line, but so far Dern has been able to toe it.

RelatedUsually the one eating punches in training, LFA's Mackenzie Dern happy to land some of her own

Although most of her wins have stemmed from her area of expertise, she got to showcase her improved striking in her two most recent outings. Against Mandy Polk at LFA 24, Dern set up her submission with punches. Then in her Invicta FC debut in December, Dern rocked Medeiros a couple times before an armlock late in the third round.

“I feel a lot better (about my striking),” Dern said. “In my first fights, I thought a lot before throwing a punch. I thought, ‘I’ll throw a jab and a right hand.’ And, as I took that time to think, I was already a step behind. Now … Of course, I don’t have many combos yet. I have about three combos that are instinctive. But this is evolution.

“I’m getting to a point where I don’t really have to think that much about what I’m going to do. I can see openings. I can see the punches, too, on the defensive bit. When she punches me, I’m not closing my eyes as much. I look at my opponent a lot more.”

To a point, Dern reasons, that’s inevitable. Considering the sheer amount of time and practice that have been put into honing her striking, it would be basically impossible for her not to evolve from her first MMA bout. But it’s also the product of something that she has applied to every aspect of her life.

“I never think that I already know everything,” Dern said. “I’m always open to learning. Even in jiu-jitsu, which is my strong suit and I’ve been training for 21 years, I’m sure there’s a lot to evolve and learn.”

‘I don’t want to get punched in the face forever’

It’s with the same humble, open approach that Dern is preparing for her UFC debut. Sure, she feels absolutely prepared to be at the highest level – and even thinks it could’ve happened sooner if not for surgery earlier this year and her weight misses. But she knows there’s still a way to go before she reaches the likes of champ Rose Namajunas and Joanna Jedrzejczyk.

Even when it comes to assessing her opponent, Dern prefers to take guidance from those who have been doing this longer than she has.

“I’m not at the level yet, where I can study my opponents,” Dern said. “I don’t even know my own game yet. I’m getting to know myself as an athlete, so I leave it up to my team to watch tape and study them.”

Dern is fully aware of the attention that will be on her when she enters the cage at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. And she knows that, while many are supportive, there’s also a portion just waiting to pounce on her should this become her first loss in MMA.

“There have been people saying that I’ll get my ass beat, that I’ll lose like Ronda Rousey,” Dern said. “MMA is a lot more aggressive than jiu-jitsu in that aspect, so it’s something I’m getting used to – focusing on the good, on the people near me.

“I don’t care too much. I’ve been practicing focusing on myself and on my training. I take vacations. I have my life.”

Mackenzie Dern at LFA 6. (Legacy Fighting Alliance)

There’s also the fact that, before, Dern represented women on the mats. Now that she’s on a new stage, she’s taken it upon herself to represent both women and Brazilian jiu-jitsu. In that sense, she ponders, the more attention, the merrier.

Dern’s athletic career has been one to admire. And the strawweight, just like every other UFC athlete, hopes to achieve that same type of success in the octagon, too. Whether she’ll get there, we’ll see. But you might want to get your Dern fix while you can, because she’s not going to be around forever.

“I don’t want to stay in MMA for too many years,” Dern said. “I’ve accomplished a lot in jiu-jitsu. I come from such a big history in jiu-jitsu. I dedicated so many years to this sport. I want a life, too. I want to have kids. I want to get married. I want to do these things. I don’t want to get punched in the face forever. I want to get in there and evolve as an athlete.

“I know what I need to achieve that, to be a UFC champion. How long it’s going to take, I don’t know. I hope it’s not 10 years. I hope it’s more like three years. But that’s just a guideline. I want to keep evolving, as fast as I have been. I don’t think I’m going too fast or too slow.

“I think I’m going at the right pace. I’m 24, and I think I’m at my peak. I think things are happening at the right time. Hopefully I won’t get injured. I want to stay healthy and keep going like this.”

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

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

MMA Junkie News -

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MMAjunkie Radio co-host and MMAjunkie contributor Dan Tom provides an in-depth breakdown of all of UFC 220’s main-card bouts. Today, we look at the co-main event.

UFC 220 takes place Saturday 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.

Also see:

* * * *

Daniel Cormier (19-1 MMA, 8-1 UFC)

Daniel Cormier

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’11” Age: 38 Weight: 205 lbs. Reach: 72″
  • Last fight: No-contest against Jon Jones (July 29, 2017)
  • Camp: American Kickboxing Academy (San Jose, CA)
  • Stance/striking style: Orthodox/kickboxing
  • Risk management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+ UFC light-heavyweight champion
+ Strikeforce heavyweight grand prix winner
+ 2x U.S. Olympian (wrestling captain)
+ Brazilian jiu-jitsu brown belt
+ 8 KO victories
+ 4 submission wins
+ 7 first-round finishes
+ KO power
+ Pressure-fighting approach
^ Forces high work rate
+ Dangerous overhands and uppercuts
+ Deceptive distance closer
^ Slips and rips way inside
+ Strong clinch game
^ Effective dirty boxer
+ Diverse takedown game
^ Favors high-crotch single
+ Transitions intelligently on top

Volkan Oezdemir (15-1 MMA, 3-0 UFC)

Volkan Oezdemir

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’1″ Age:280 Weight: 205 lbs. Reach: 75″
  • Last fight: Knockout win over Jimi Manuwa (July 29, 2017)
  • Camp: Hard Knocks 365 (Florida)
  • Stance/striking style: Orthodox/muay Thai
  • Risk management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+ Kickboxing accolades (5-0 as pro)
+ 10 KO victories
+ 1 submission win
+ 11 first-round finishes
+ KO power
+ Consistent pace and pressure
+ Solid muay Thai technique
^ Seldom out of position
+ Accurate left hook
+ Hard leg kicks
^ Often punctuates combos
+ Strong inside the clinch
^ Strikes well off the breaks
+ Underrated wrestling/grappling
^ Good offensive and defensive fundamentals

Summary:

The co-main event in Boston features another title affair as Daniel Cormier attempts to defend the light-heavyweight championship against Volkan Oezdemir.

Coming off of a crushing defeat to Jon Jones, Cormier – through a crazy turn of events – would end up back on the throne of the 205-pound division after a failed drug test from Jones. Now looking to reestablish his status of champion, Cormier will be jumping right back in the octagon to fend off another young lion.

Storming the UFC scene in 2017, Oezdemir would earn himself three wins en route to his fast climb up the ranks. Seemingly unshakable in focus, the Swiss-born fighter will get his shot to make a huge statement with a win here.

Starting off on the feet, we have a battle between two pressure fighters who aren’t afraid to step into the fire.

RelatedDaniel Cormier perplexed how anyone could think he'll lose title to Volkan Oezdemir at UFC 220

Hailing from the American Kickboxing Academy, Cormier embodies a similar style on the feet to stablemate Cain Velasquez. Stalking forward with feints, fakes and measuring jabs, Cormier will slip and rip his way inside.

Often punctuating his presence with hooks up high, the champion has no issues finishing down low with leg kicks. In fact, I feel that Cormier has an underrated kicking ability, and I would not be surprised to see him compete in that department with his counterpart.

Nevertheless, the on-paper edge should still reside with the challenger.

A well-trained muay Thai practitioner who’s trained both in Thailand and the Netherlands, Oezdemir implements a bit of both styles into his MMA game. Moving well with his punches and seldom throwing himself out of position, the eight-year pro will punctuate his combinations with crushing kicks that often follow his patented left hook.

Despite typically maintaining a technical and measured approach, Oezdemir has also shown that he is not afraid to stand his ground and return with force when he needs to. And when Oezdemir gets his opponents near the fence, he will get even more aggressive, throwing kicks and combos with impunity.

If things begin to get heated on the feet, I fully suspect Cormier to exercise his advantages on the ground.

A former captain of the U.S. Olympic wrestling team, grappling – to say the least – has come second nature to Cormier.

From his high-crotch hikes to his slick trips in close, Cormier is a formidable force for anyone inside of the clinch. The champion also has good reactionary takedowns, which will likely come in handy against his aggressive counterpart.

Oezdemir, who has yet to have a chance to display much on the ground inside of the octagon, has shown that he possesses competent defensive and offensive wrestling abilities in other organizations.

RelatedIf he beats UFC champ Cormier, Volkan Oezdemir expects Gustafsson or Saint Preux next

From topside, the sturdy base and balance Oezdemir displays as a striker seem to translate well to the floor, and the 28-year-old holds a solid mount, striking and transitioning well along the way.

When taken down, Oezdemir still appears to offer good answers defensively. Demonstrating the wrestling improvements he has made state-side, Oezdemir will immediately turtle or tripod up to his base, fighting hands while making his way to a standing position.

That said, turtling can come at the cost of front-headlocks or back takes. And although those threats are fewer and far between at light heavyweight, Oezdemir will be up against one of most relentless transitional grapplers north of 205 pounds.

Even fellow Olympian Dan Henderson had difficulty in keeping Cormier off of him, and he was privy to a plethora of positional rides that were ruthless and wearing. If Oezdemir allows Cormier to get that far into his groove, then it will likely be a long night for the man from Switzerland.

The oddsmakers and public seem firm in their opinion, listing Cormier -320 and Oezdemir +260 as of this writing.

Although I hate to pick against Oezdemir – a fighter who has a pension for proving people wrong – I have to agree with the oddsmakers above. Cormier may be coming off of a brutal defeat, but he is still one of the sports most proven fighters pound-for-pound.

Ultimately, I believe that Cormier will enact a similar strategy to the one he used in his fight with Oezdemir’s stablemate Anthony Johnson. I see the champion weathering the early storm and sucking Oezdemir into his world, steadily cooking the Swiss fighter underneath him for a fourth-round finish.

Official pick: Cormier inside the distance

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/nSWP6AjXdehwFnqPirqHH5/296934", customAnalytics: true, title: "Daniel Cormier", feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == "undefined") ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();

Você sabe a diferença entre instinto e consciência no Jiu-Jitsu? Carlos Gracie Jr. explica

GracieMag News -

Carlinhos Gracie com Roger na GB América, na Califórnia. Foto por Ivan Trindade.

Aniversariante neste dia 17 de janeiro, ao completar 62 anos de vida e muito Jiu-Jitsu, o mestre Carlos Gracie Jr. já nos trouxe grandes aprendizados ao longo destas tantas décadas como professor.

Para celebrar a feliz data, nós de GRACIEMAG relembramos de uma de suas preleções históricas na Gracie Barra, no qual Carlinhos fala sobre dois tipos distintos de atletas de Jiu-Jitsu.

Confira nas linhas abaixo a aula do mestre Carlos Gracie Jr.:

“Tem pessoas que tem muito conhecimento de Jiu-Jitsu e às vezes tem pouco instinto de luta. Nesses casos o conhecimento sobrepuja o instinto. E tem o outro lado, o camarada que tem pouco conhecimento e tem muito instinto. Apenas o instinto já o salva, pois permite que ele se safe das situações de risco, não seja finalizado à toa e lute bem.”

“Já vi muitas vezes o cara saber sair da posição com o instinto, mas na hora de explicar a posição não sabe, pois não tem a consciência do que faz. Se ele um dia quiser ser professor não vai saber explicar a posição. Na academia eu tinha muitos graduados, faixas-pretas, que eu chamava para passar a posição. Eles pediam na hora: ‘Não, por favor, não me coloca para ensinar não.’ Eles ficavam apavorados.”

“O joguinho de um atleta bem treinado muitas vezes só funciona quando está cheio de gás. Na hora que bate o prego, que ele está com meio palmo de língua para fora da boca ou quando ficar mais velhinho, o Jiu-Jitsu dele cai muito”, disse o Gracie. “A técnica, o conhecimento e a consciência deixam a gente tranquilo quando se está numa posição ruim. Porque é uma posição que exige o gasto de muita energia. E você tem de sair bonitinho, na hora precisa que o cara cometer um erro.”

“Eu sempre fui muito fã do básico. Depois que você tiver um bom Jiu-Jitsu básico, o resto se desenvolve sozinho. Você cria, inventa. O resto é fácil. O difícil é o A, E, I, O, U.”

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

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Tony Ferguson will enter UFC 223 as the champion but not as the favorite.

UFC President Dana White, who recently said the fight would happen, today announced that interim lightweight titleholder Ferguson (23-3 MMA, 13-1 UFC) and Khabib Nurmagomedov (25-0 MMA, 9-0 UFC) are indeed booked for the event.

UFC 223 takes place April 7 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., with the main card on pay-per-view following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass.

RelatedDana White says UFC fighters should build themselves into stars. Now why didn't they think of that?

Despite entering on a tear and being the much more active competitor, Ferguson opens up as a firm underdog to Nurmagomedov, according to the Oddessa Line. Veteran MMA oddsmaker Joey Oddessa has set Nurmagomedov at -200 and Ferguson at +165.

At those odds, a winning $100 bet on Nurmagomedov would result in a net profit of $50 (implied win probability of 66.7 percent). A winning $100 bet on Ferguson, meanwhile, would net a profit of 165 (37.7 percent win probability).

Ferguson currently is on a 10-fight winning streak, including an impressive third-round submission of Kevin Lee in October at UFC 216 to claim interim gold. Ferguson’s streak dates back to 2013. In that same time period, the undefeated Nurmagomedov has just four fights, most recently a dominant decision win over Edson Barboza last month at UFC 219.

Khabib’s inactivity has factored into the line.

RelatedKhabib Nurmagomedov after UFC 219 win: Give me Conor McGregor, Tony Ferguson on same night

“I don’t know if Khabib is going to take him down at will, but he’s going to take him down and hold him there long enough to win rounds and win the fight,” Odessa told MMAjunkie. “If there weren’t so many cancellations and inactivity with Khabib, the price would be higher. Out-of-sight, out-of-mind mentality often brings down a guy’s stock in the eye of public opinion but not in Khabib’s case.

“He’s looked even more impressive in his recent limited appearances. He was sitting around the same price when he was forced to pull out of UFC 209, and not much has changed.”

This marks the fourth time that Ferguson and Nurmagomedov have been booked against each other after three previous fights failed to materialize. 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 last March. The fight for the then-vacant interim title fell apart on weigh-in day, though, when Nurmagomedov was hospitalized after a failed weight cut.

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

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/296964", customAnalytics: true, title: "Nurmagomedov def. Barboza", feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == "undefined") ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();

Today in MMA History: First episode of 'The Ultimate Fighter' hits airwaves

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If you were an MMA fan in January 2005, chances are you remember where you were when the first season of “The Ultimate Fighter” premiered.

That’s not just because of what the show eventually became or even because of what it meant for the growth and possible salvation of the UFC, but also because of what it was like to be an MMA fan in North America at the time.

Think of it this way: In 2004, the year before “TUF 1” debuted, the UFC put on just five events. They were all pay-per-view offerings, since there was no such thing as a UFC Fight Night event back then, or even a UFC TV deal.

Which is not to say the UFC never appeared on basic cable. There were sporadic appearances on FOX Sports Net a couple years earlier, plus the occasional TV news show piece about the new sport of MMA, which may have been either barbaric bloodsport or ascendant cultural phenomenon, depending on the timing and the source.

But other than that? MMA was something you saw on VHS tapes and DVDs that you traded with friends. It was something you hunted down on the still somewhat primordial Internet. When the year’s few events rolled around, you pitched in on a pay-per-view or went in search of some bar with a Tito Ortiz poster hastily taped to the wall.

It existed on the margins. You got excited if you met someone else with an interest in it.

RelatedInside 'The Ultimate Fighter 27' tryouts, where more than 100 unbeatens went for their dream

So when a relatively new cable network called Spike TV – billed as “the first network for men,” and anchored by pro wrestling and various iterations of “Star Trek” – starting running ads promising a weekly MMA show, it was something special.

Here was this fringe sport being wrapped up in the warm embrace of reality TV, which at the time was an immediately recognizable form that still felt like it hadn’t yet been done to death. Here, it seemed, was the introduction MMA had been waiting for. A martial arts tournament disguised as a game show, with plenty of the strangers-in-a-house drama that was a staple of the form.

Even the cast of the first season fit perfectly into the reality TV show mold. You had the seasoned coaches, Randy Couture and Chuck Liddell, who each offered different but still compelling versions of what an MMA fighter could look and be like.

As for the contestants, you had serious, college-educated types like Kenny Florian, who could also help dispel the notion that all cage fighters were tattooed skinhead bar bouncers. You had kooky ones like Diego Sanchez, who at one point ran out into a downpour in order to “harness the power” of the storm.

Then there were agents of chaos like Chris Leben – introduced in the credits as “Chris L.” like some contestant on “The Bachelor” – along with guys who clearly didn’t belong, like Jason Thacker.

It was a volatile mix clearly designed to produce typical reality-show antics, and it worked. To help things along, producers made sure that this group of professional athletes had plenty of free booze on hand, because what athletic competition is complete without a little tequila?

But there were other reality TV features that clearly didn’t fit what the show wanted and needed to be, such as the “challenges” that took place in nearly every episode, or the practice of sending fighters “home” once they’d been eliminated from the competition.

The result of the latter was a dwindling cast both in the house and in the gym, which made for fewer and fewer antics and training partners – both problems, but for different reasons.

There was also a near-mutiny when fighters balked at being asked to cut weight and fight for free, which is what precipitated UFC President Dana White’s now famous “do you want to be a f*cking fighter” speech.

For longtime fans of the sport, the true appeal was that almost every episode ended with an actual MMA fight. That’s not so special now – there have been roughly 10,000 seasons of “TUF” since then, or so it seems, and that’s in addition to the almost weekly UFC events of varying caliber.

But in early 2005, that world was a distant dream. Those of us who obsessed over this fringe sport often held our fandom close, like a semi-shameful secret, but we also stubbornly believed that other people might like this stuff if they gave it a chance.

The UFC, in fact, was betting on it. White loves to tell the story of how that first season came to be, how it was the final all-in bet from the Zuffa parent company and the Fertitta brothers who’d been losing money on it. How, even as they were filming what was essentially a weekly ad buy for Spike TV, the network itself was in a state of upheaval.

RelatedDana White, Spike TV offer different versions of 'The Ultimate Fighter 1'

To hear White tell it, it wasn’t until the wildly successful finale, helped along greatly by the epic battle between light heavyweight finalists Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar, that UFC executives even felt confident of the company’s survival.

All that still felt miles away to the average viewer tuning in on that January night in 2005. Back then, most of us were just happy to see the sport we loved on TV. We longed for more of it. We hoped it wouldn’t go away. We thought it might even thrive if only people would sit down to watch.

And if it was the trappings of reality TV that would serve as the bait to lure them in, sure, we could sit through a challenge or two. In a way, the fact that the show has now fallen into a pattern of low ratings and diminished importance in the world of MMA only proves how well it worked. It did its job so well that it eventually became obsolete.

Not bad for a formulaic reality show operating out of a Las Vegas strip mall.

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

“Today in MMA History” is an MMAjunkie series created in association with MMA History Today, the social media outlet dedicated to reliving “a daily journey through our sport’s history.”

Vitor Belfort has some thoughts on Michael Bisping's refusal to fight him in London

MMA Junkie News -

In today’s installment of “Vitor Belfort airs grievances on Instagram,” we appear to have gotten some type of closure on the Michael Bisping front.

Following a scrapped UFC Fight Night 124 meeting with Uriah Hall that was also to serve as Belfort’s (26-13 MMA, 15-10 UFC) retirement bout, “The Phenom” was quick to angle for a new matchup. More specifically, he wanted a rematch with also near-retirement Bisping (30-9 MMA, 20-9 UFC) – whom Belfort had already met and defeated in a UFC on FX 7 headliner back in 2013.

RelatedDana White: UFC offered Vitor Belfort last-minute fights, but he wants Michael Bisping

Having first met Bisping in Brazil, Belfort was even gracious enough to concede the hometown advantage to his opponent this time. He then urged the former middleweight champion to “stop finding excuses” to turn down a UFC Fight Night 127 meeting in London.

“Let’s make an amazing show for all the fans around the the world and retire in great fashion,” Belfort said.

Well, these are two huge names, about to retire, and there’s a long-running rivalry there. Not to mention Bisping had already talked about his desire to have his swan song in London at the March 17 UFC Fight Pass event. So why not?

Well, first off, they’d be missing one of the fighters.

“I’m not fighting Vitor Belfort in London,” Bisping said on his “Believe You Me” podcast. “I’m not fighting Vitor Belfort in London. I am not fighting Vitor Belfort in London. One-hundred percent, I’m not fighting him. Zero percent chance.”

Judging by a post on Belfort’s Instagram account this morning, the ex-champ has found out the fight is not happening, which prompted some choice words toward the “scared” Brit. Befort now says Bisping will be leaving MMA “through the back door.”

“What a shame, Michael Bisping. The UFC just informed me that you have declined the fight. I understand you are scared. The images above pretty much explain it all. So stop pretending that you are tough and just admit that you are afraid. And I thought you were man enough to step up in the octagon with me again, my mistake. Unfortunately, it looks like we will not be delivering to the fans the fight they want to see. Happy retirement, you must be feeling amazing leaving the sport (through) the back door. To be a legend is not to everyone”

Interestingly enough, the images indeed are a key part of why Bisping does to not want to fight Belfort. Just, perhaps, not exactly for the reasons Belfort thinks they are.

On the podcast, Bisping explained that his head-kick KO loss to Belfort led to a detached retina and, as a consequence, to “lasting disfigurement.” Taking damage, of course, is part of the fight game, but Bisping’s issue there was that Belfort, at the time, was using then-allowed testosterone replacement therapy (TRT).

Or, in Bisping’s words, “He was ‘roided out of his mind.”

Ultimately, Bisping said his ill feelings toward “known drug cheat” Belfort would end up playing a part in the promotional process. And an emotionally charged “typical Michael Bisping performance of trash-talk” is not how he wants to go out of this sport.

“I don’t want to be remembered for being a (expletive), and I feel that Vitor Belfort would bring out that side of my personality” Bisping said. “It’s my last ever fight, so I want to go there and enjoy it. I want to embrace the moment. I want to live in the moment. I want to be respectful toward my opponent and basically thank all the fans of Great Britain for always supporting my career.

“Not lunging and arguing and swearing and going at the guy and acting regrettably because years later, I would look back, and I would regret that.”

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

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

Jun 3, 2017; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Victor Belfort (red gloves) reacts to fight against Nate Marquardt (blue gloves) during UFC 212 at Rio Olympic Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports Jun 3, 2017; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Victor Belfort (red gloves) before the fight against Nate Marquardt (blue gloves) during UFC 212 at Rio Olympic Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports Jun 3, 2017; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Victor Belfort (red gloves) fights Nate Marquardt (blue gloves) during UFC 212 at Rio Olympic Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports Jun 3, 2017; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Victor Belfort (red gloves) fights Nate Marquardt (blue gloves) during UFC 212 at Rio Olympic Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports Jun 3, 2017; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Victor Belfort (red gloves) fights Nate Marquardt (blue gloves) during UFC 212 at Rio Olympic Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports Jun 3, 2017; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Victor Belfort (red gloves) fights Nate Marquardt (blue gloves) during UFC 212 at Rio Olympic Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports Jun 3, 2017; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Victor Belfort (red gloves) fights Nate Marquardt (blue gloves) during UFC 212 at Rio Olympic Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports Jun 3, 2017; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Nate Marquardt (blue gloves) reacts to fight against Victor Belfort (red gloves) during UFC 212 at Rio Olympic Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports Jun 3, 2017; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Victor Belfort (red gloves) fights Nate Marquardt (blue gloves) during UFC 212 at Rio Olympic Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports Jun 3, 2017; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Victor Belfort (red gloves) reacts to fight against Nate Marquardt (blue gloves) during UFC 212 at Rio Olympic Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports jQuery.extend( window._usmgOptions,{ scriptUrl: "https://s2.wp.com/wp-content/themes/vip/usatoday-plugins/api-galleries/assets", analyticsCallback: "galleryAnalytics", fullscreenUrl: "http://mmajunkie.com/sigallery/JmzjWf3tg9CCuDfPnHnPKj/296937", customAnalytics: true, title: "Belfort def. Marquardt", feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == "undefined") ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();

UFC champ Cris Cyborg could generate PPV buys 'in a parking lot,' but unsure about Amanda Nunes

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So the UFC really wants Cris Cyborg vs. Amanda Nunes to happen? OK, Cyborg said. But it’s going to take some compromise.

On Sunday UFC President Dana White reaffirmed his desire to have women’s 135-pound champ Nunes (15-4 MMA, 8-1 UFC) as the next challenger to Cyborg’s (18-1 MMA, 3-0 UFC) 145-pound belt. Nunes has been favorable to the Brazilian champs leaving “their marks” in the sport – a sentiment mirrored by her coach, ATT’s Conan Silveira.

All the while, Cyborg kept the same stance: she wouldn’t refuse to do it but wasn’t at all keen on the idea for a couple of reasons. Most importantly, because she believed that it was time to give actual featherweights – like Megan Anderson or Pam Sorensen – a shot.

RelatedDana White says UFC working on Cris Cyborg vs. Amanda Nunes: 'The fight everybody wants to see'

White argued that Nunes had competed at Cyborg’s division before – and was, in fact, “brought into Strikeforce” to fight her compatriot. On her end, Cyborg said that Nunes’ 145-pound stint was “a long time ago” and that, despite her achievements at the lighter weight class, she’d like to face women who competed as featherweights in 2017.

“We never had the opportunity to fight each other because (Nunes) never (got) close fights to the belt,” Cyborg told MMAjunkie Radio. “What she did at 135 pounds, it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t change 145 pounds. …

“Amanda wants to jump in front of everybody at 145. But Amanda has a lot of girls (she didn’t) beat. She lost to Cat Zingano. She lost to Alexis Davis, by TKO. She still has a lot of girl she still (can) fight. She’s thinking about a big payday, and I can understand that. But I cannot forget just – I need to help my division grow. If I just beat girls at 135, this is not going to make my 145 division grow.”

Nunes did have her Strikeforce debut at featherweight, which ended in a blistering 14-second knockout of Julia Budd. But her second fight for the promotion, a knockout loss to Davis, was at 135 pounds. At the time, Nunes told MMAjunkie that, while she was ranked at featherweight, she hoped to win and challenge for the bantamweight belt that belonged to Miesha Tate.

In any case, that doesn’t mean Cyborg won’t fight Nunes. With three fights left on her UFC contract, and plans to have at least two completed in 2018, Cyborg said Nunes can be one of them. She just thinks that her compatriot has a lot more to gain from the encounter.

“Amanda barely sold 100,000 pay-per-views in her last fight,” Cyborg said. “She’s no (Conor McGregor). To make 100,000 pay-per-views, I can fight in a parking lot (against) anybody. Of course she wants to fight me. She fought Ronda Rousey, and then she (got) big pay-per-view (points) there because Ronda is a big name. And she (got) paid $3 million to fight Amanda.

“And then other fights (Nunes) fought, too. She fought Miesha Tate, on the card with Brock Lesnar (UFC 200), and Miesha Tate made pay-per-view at the fight too. Of course she wants to fight me. She wants (to get paid), big pay. She knows she barely sold 100,000 pay-per-views.”

RelatedUFC champ Amanda Nunes joins Invicta FC matchmaking, athlete development team

Cyborg, who held titles with Strikeforce and Invicta FC, is fresh off her first UFC title defense – a five-round dominant effort over former 135-pound champion Holly Holm. Nunes, in turn, has twice defended the belt she earned over Tate: first with a knockout over Rousey, and then with a decision victory in a rematch with Valentina Shevchenko.

If White really does believe that it’s “the fight everybody wants to see,” though, the UFC can make it happen. But considering Cyborg doesn’t see what Nunes can do for either her division or her bank account, it’s going to take building some context around it.

“Of course we can do that fight, but we need to do (it) on a big card,” Cyborg said. “It has to be a big event. It has to have more championships for everybody to make money together. If it’s a super fight, you’re supposed to make super money. Of course I can fight her.

“But by herself, only her? This fight (doesn’t) mean anything for my career, and we don’t make money either. But if you put me in a bigger card, for sure. Then I’ll talk to my manager. My manager is going to talk to the UFC.”

Cyborg is quite familiar with the style of Nunes, whom she saw ascend as she was already a champion. And while she maintains Nunes is basically cutting the 145-pound line there, Cyborg thinks the two would end up putting on a good scrap.

“I respect all my opponents,” Cyborg said. “I think she’s a great fighter. She’s an aggressive fighter. I think when I fight her, it’s going to be an amazing fight. But she (hasn’t fought) somebody like me in my division, 145 pounds. Let’s see.”

To hear from Cyborg, check out the video above.

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

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

Dec 30, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Cris Cyborg celebrates her victory by unamimous decision against Holly Holm and her title defense following UFC 219 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports Dec 30, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Cris Cyborg is introduced before fighting against Holly Holm during UFC 219 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports Dec 30, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Holly Holm moves in with a hit as Cris Cyborg defends during UFC 219 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports Dec 30, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Holly Holm moves in with a hit as Cris Cyborg defends during UFC 219 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports Dec 30, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Cris Cyborg lands a hit against Holly Holm during UFC 219 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports Dec 30, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Holly Holm moves in with a kick as Cris Cyborg defends during UFC 219 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports Dec 30, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Cris Cyborg moves in with a hit against Holly Holm during UFC 219 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports Dec 30, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Cris Cyborg defends against Holly Holm during UFC 219 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports Dec 30, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Cris Cyborg moves in with a hit against Holly Holm during UFC 219 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports Dec 30, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Cris Cyborg moves in with a hit against Holly Holm during UFC 219 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports Dec 30, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Holly Holm moves in with a kick as Cris Cyborg defends during UFC 219 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports Dec 30, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Cris Cyborg fights against Holly Holm during UFC 219 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports Dec 30, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Cris Cyborg moves in with a kick as Holly Holm defends during UFC 219 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports Dec 30, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Cris Cyborg lands a hit against Holly Holm during UFC 219 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports Dec 30, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Cris Cyborg lands a hit against Holly Holm during UFC 219 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports Dec 30, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Holly Holm lands a hit against Cris Cyborg during UFC 219 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports Dec 30, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Holly Holm lands a hit against Cris Cyborg during UFC 219 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports Dec 30, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Cris Cyborg celebrates her victory by unamimous decision against Holly Holm and her title defense following UFC 219 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports Dec 30, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Cris Cyborg celebrates her victory by unamimous decision against Holly Holm and her title defense following UFC 219 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports Dec 30, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Cris Cyborg is declared the winner by unanimous decision against Holly Holm and retains her title followng 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/qPrnZ2GMzKchbr2tKPsHvf/296888", customAnalytics: true, title: "Cyborg def. Holm", feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == "undefined") ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();

Bellator 192 main-event breakdown: Expect a grimy decision – but for Chael Sonnen or Quinton Jackson?

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MMAjunkie Radio cohost and MMAjunkie contributor Dan Tom provides an in-depth breakdown of all of Bellator’s top bouts, and today, we look at Bellator 192’s main event.

Bellator 192 takes place Saturday at The Forum in Inglewood, Calif., and the main card airs on Paramount following prelims on MMAjunkie.

* * * *

Quinton Jackson (37-12 MMA, 4-1 BMMA)

Quinton Jackson

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’1″ Age: 39 Weight: 205 lbs. Reach: 73″
  • Last fight: Decision loss to Muhammed Lawal (March 31, 2017)
  • Camp: Ultimate Training Center (Huntington, CA)
  • Stance/striking style: Orthodox/boxing
  • Risk management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+ Former UFC light-heavyweight champion
+ Wrestling base
+ 18 KO victories
+ 5 submission wins
+ 16 first-round finishes
+ KO power
+ Solid boxing technique
^ Slips, rolls, feints and fakes
+ Dangerous hooks
^ Coming forward and off of the counter
+ Physically strong in the clinch
^ Strikes well off the breaks
+ Good takedown defense
^ Heavy base/solid fundamentals
+ Underrated grappler
+ Devastating ground striker
+ Improved submission defense
^ Will still look for slams

Chael Sonnen (29-15-1 MMA, 1-1 BMMA)

Chael Sonnen

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’1″ Age: 40 Weight: 205 lbs. Reach: 74″
  • Last fight: Decision win over Wanderlei Silva (June 24, 2017)
  • Camp: Gracie Barra Portland (Portland, OR)
  • Stance/striking style: Southpaw/boxing
  • Risk management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+ NCAA Division 1 All-American wrestler
+ Multiple wrestling accolades
+ Brazilian jiu-jitsu brown belt
+ 8 KO victories
+ 4 submission wins
+ 9 first-round finishes
+ Aggressive pace and pressure
+ Underrated striking ability
^ Solid boxing technique
+ Accurate left cross
+ Strong inside of the clinch
+ Excellent takedown ability
^ Favors power-doubles
+ Good transitional grappler
^ Passes, rides and floats well
+ Serviceable submission game
^ Works well from front-headlock
+ Stays busy from topside

Summary:

The main event in Inglewood features the first leg of Bellator’s heavyweight grand prix tournament, where we will be privy to a battle between Quinton Jackson and Chael Sonnen.

The tournament will take place throughout 2018 and will ultimately crown a new heavyweight champion for the organization.

Jackson, who has competed at heavyweight (or a catchweight) for his last three bouts, seems to be making himself comfortable north of his usual weight class whereas Sonnen – a man who has competed at light heavyweight for his past five fights – will now be stepping well- above his traditional home of 185 pounds. That said, I doubt these numbers will affect either man’s attitude given their background.

Related'Rampage' Jackson-Chael Sonnen is Bellator 192 headliner over Douglas Lima vs. Rory MacDonald title fight

Starting off on the feet, we have a matchup between two wrestlers who can throw their hands – but do so in much different ways.

Initially storming the scene as a body-slamming wildman, Jackson would quickly make fans from his memorable performances in PRIDE FC. Steadily developing his boxing chops to go along with his already-potent wrestling ability, Jackson would eventually find himself getting the better of strikers on the feet, even ones to the caliber of Chuck Liddell.

By the time Jackson came over to the UFC in 2007, his boxing was at an even higher level, working with then-coach Juanito Perez. Under the care of Perez, we would see Jackson more effectively fake and feint, smoothly slipping and rolling his way into crushing hooks.

Jackson would end up flirting with different training camps throughout his UFC career, but his style remained consistent: Pressure your opposition with authority and make them pay for their reactions.

Despite this style earning him a world title while with the UFC, Jackson’s predictably would cause him issues when it came to fighters who could either stick and move, or match him in the wrestling department. Although he won’t exactly be facing a stick-and-move stylist in Sonnen, the looming wrestling threats could bleed into the striking dynamic of this fight.

A self-proclaimed “gangster” from West Linn, Ore., Sonnen is a southpaw who offers more than just a shot standing.

RelatedChael Sonnen won't retire with Bellator tourney win, will exit MMA 'face down and embarrassed'

Demonstrating solid boxing fundamentals, Sonnen utilizes strong fakes while working behind a pumping jab. And with his patented left cross not far behind, Sonnen will quickly close the distance as he looks to change his level.

This high-percentage approach has served Sonnen well over the years, and it’s even earned him some memorable moments against skilled strikers like Anderson Silva. Still, the striking edge will belong to his counterpart on paper, begging the question: Will Sonnen be able to take down Jackson?

Takedown defense has long been a staple of Jackson’s game, and he’s traditionally been difficult to get down. Possessing a heavy base and balance, the 19-year professional puts his weight to good use when it comes to sprawls in the open of defending inside the clinch.

Nevertheless, top level wrestlers have been able to get Jackson down both in the open and against the fence. Should Sonnen score on Jackson early, he will need to work diligently to keep the larger man down.

Not only will Jackson have a size and strength edge, but he is also no slouch when it comes to getting back to his feet.

Whether he is utilizing an underhook getup in the open or leaning on the cage for a standing assist, Jackson will undoubtedly make Sonnen work hard. But, by that same token, Sonnen will also be making Jackson – who has shown to slow more significantly at this weight – work much harder as well.

Furthermore, Jackson may be at more risk than he realizes when attempting to stand. Sonnen, who wields an underrated submission game, has no issue in turning an underhook getup into a guillotine choke (just ask Mauricio “Shogun” Rua). Also, Jackson – like many wrestlers – will inherently turtle en route to making his way upright.

The problem, however, is that this position could briefly expose Jackson to a grappler who is good from a front headlock like Sonnen, who is also not shy when it comes jumping on a back when it suits the occasion.

That said, the 39-year-old veteran in Jackson has only been submitted by Kazushi Sakuraba and Jon Jones throughout his storied career, so Sonnen will likely have to make something special happen to add his name to the list.

The oddsmakers and public seem to be forming their opinions, listing Jackson -160 and Sonnen +140 as of this writing.

Should Jackson, whose condition has been suspect in recent years, not look good early, then he could quickly find himself in a stimying clinch war or worse – stuck underneath a formidable transitional grappler.

However, Sonnen, who has also struggled against strong wrestlers, will have a sizeable threat before him. Despite not being as mobile at this heavier weight, Jackson still displays the wrestling ability and urgency to stay on task.

Even in his lesser-inspiring performances, Jackson has always come to fight, swinging even harder when he knows the rounds are coming to a close. I don’t see this being an easy bout for either party, but I do see “Rampage” being the victor of a grimy decision, possibly stopping Sonnen should he gain a dominant position early.

Official pick: Jackson by decision

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

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Watch MMAjunkie Radio here (1 p.m. ET) with Vegas radio vet Steve Cofield

MMA Junkie News -

MMAjunkie Radio kicks off today at 1 p.m. ET (10 a.m. PT) with Steve Cofield.

Cofield, a longtime MMA and Las Vegas radio fixture, can be heard on FOX Sports Radio’s “Straight Outta Vegas” and SiriusXM.

MMAjunkie Radio airs from 1 to 3 p.m. ET (10 a.m. to noon PT), live from Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino in Las Vegas. You can watch and listen live on MMAjunkie’s Facebook and YouTube pages. Additionally, SiriusXM Rush (Ch. 93) carries a replay later in the day (8-10 p.m. ET) and the following morning (7-9 a.m. ET), or catch a replay on demand.

MMAjunkie Radio listener guide:

  • HOW TO WATCH (ON WEB): Watch a live stream on MMAjunkie’s Facebook or YouTube pages.
  • HOW TO CALL: MMAjunkie Radio takes phone calls from listeners throughout the show. Call into the MMAjunkie Radio hotline at (866) 522-2846.
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  • HOW TO VISIT THE SHOW: You can watch MMAjunkie Radio live and in person at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino on the world-famous Las Vegas Strip. The booth is located in the resort’s Race & Sports Book next to the Mandalay Bay poker room. To plan a trip to Sin City and MMAjunkie Radio, go to www.mandalaybay.com.

Stream or download MMAjunkie Radio #2601 with UFC featherweight Darren Elkins

MMA Junkie News -

Stream or download Tuesday’s episode of MMAjunkie Radio with guest Darren Elkins.

Elkins is coming off of a comeback submission win over Michael Johnson at UFC Fight Night 124 in St. Louis on Sunday. He called in to the show to talk about that fight and what he wants next. The hosts also covered the latest MMA news.

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

Money fights? UFC champ Tyron Woodley just wants fights that'll 'cement my legacy'

MMA Junkie News -

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Tyron Woodley has insisted on getting an elusive “money fight” for quite some time now.

During the last year, Conor McGregor, Georges St-Pierre and Nate Diaz are names the UFC welterweight champion has tossed around. UFC President Dana White has shot down each mention, leading to some beef between the two. Some fans have rolled their eyes at the notion that Woodley (18-3-1 MMA, 8-2-1 UFC) believes he’s deserving of such a high-profile matchup – or, “money fight,” if you will.

Woodley, though, sees things in a different light.

“I just want to fight the fights that are going to cement my legacy,” he said backstage at UFC Fight Night 124 in his native St. Louis.

That seems reasonable enough for a champion who’s repeated his desire to prove he’s the greatest 170-pounder ever. In his mind, the two contenders mentioned most as worthy of challenging him – Rafael dos Anjos and Colby Covington – don’t excite Woodley. But that’s who’s right behind him at No. 2 and 3, respectively, in the official UFC rankings.

RelatedUFC champ Tyron Woodley to Rafael dos Anjos: 'Crap talking ain't your thing'

Which, speaking of rankings, it’s funny to Woodley, 35, how they apply to some but not others – like himself.

“It depends on who it is. It’s a situation-based usage of the rankings,” Woodley said. “I think the ranking is a good thing where you can kind of see (who fought who). But that’s not the rubric anymore. They’re not really going by that. At times it’s convenient. Usually when it’s me it’s convenient to utilize the rankings.”

White has indicated Woodley’s next challenger will be former lightweight champion Dos Anjos (28-9 MMA, 17-7 UFC), who has won three straight since moving up to the division, most recently a dominant decision over ex-champ Robbie Lawler, who Woodley beat for the title in July 2016.

But what about Covington (13-1 MMA, 8-1 UFC), who just can’t seem to stop talking and tweeting about “Tyrone” Woodley? There have been rumors that the two could coach on the upcoming season of “The Ultimate Fighter,” which Woodley says he isn’t down with.

“Definitely not coaching with that buffoon,” he said.

RelatedTyron Woodley willing to vacate UFC belt for GSP, but 'open to any fight' that makes sense

Woodley and Covington used to train together, and “The Chosen One” can’t believe “Chaos,” whose called attention to himself in some ugly ways, is even in the conversation.

“I’ve silence him his entire life. I got a whole phone full of text messages – I’m his big brother, his mentor,” Woodley said. “He just decided to take the WWE route, because he thought that was going to catipult him.”

“He came in at a great time when the sport was quiet,” Woodley added. “Conor McGregor’s (been) out doing something different, Jon Jones is out for a while, Ronda Rousey’s not there. You know, he came in at a time when people were like, ‘You know what? There’s nothing going on, eff it. Let’s listen to this idiot.’ …

“I just don’t want to give him a lot of attention, a lot of talk.”

RelatedDana White says UFC fighters should build themselves into stars. Now why didn't they think of that?

Regardless of who he fights next, though, one thing is for sure: Woodley doesn’t see anyone – “money fight” or not – being able to take his title anytime soon.

“I’ve been blessed at the way I train and the way I think about fighting,” Woodley said. “I’ve thought about being in this position long before I got here. There are no new guys faster than me, stronger than me, more skilled than me. Even though these guys are coming up, I still have two or three things that I do better than they do. So I’ll be able to be champion for a very long time.”

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

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