Before their rematch, watch the thrilling 1st fight between Angela Lee and Mei Yamaguchi

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Before their highly anticipated rematch, watch the thrilling first fight between ONE Championship women’s atomweight titleholder Angela Lee and Mei Yamaguchi.

In 2016 at ONE Championship 42, Lee and Yamaguchi fought for the organization’s inaugural belt.

It resulted in a wild fight that earned MMAjunkie “Fight of the Month” honors for May 2016.

Check out the highlights of their first fight above.

And catch 21-year-old phenom Lee (8-0) and 34-year-old Japanese veteran Yamaguchi (16-10-1) back in action on Nov. 24, when they meet at “ONE Championship 65: Immortal Pursuit” at Singapore Indoor Stadium in the online pay-per-view event’s headliner.

And for more on ONE Championship 65, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

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Source: MMA Junkie

Why the UFC? Why not kickboxing? UFC-Japan's Gokhan Saki says fans are 'going to be in shock'

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Why now?

That’s the most obvious question facing Gokhan Saki, who slugged it out for 15 years in the kickboxing ring against some of the world’s most decorated strikers. But now he make his UFC debut on Saturday at UFC Fight Night 117.

Saki, 33, built a reputation as a brick-tough competitor in K-1, and he once fought Overeem with a broken arm in the tournament final of the 2010 Grand Prix.

But it’s been two years since he’s stepped into the ring. The one time he stepped into an MMA cage, 13 years ago at an easily forgotten event in Liverpool, England, he was stopped in the first round.

Saki (0-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC) could return to kickboxing. So why give MMA another shot, much less in the biggest and toughest promotion in the world?

The easiest answer, of course, would be money. Kickboxing is no longer the powerhouse it was in the ’80s and ’90s. MMA is where the real money can be made. But to Saki, it’s a story about age and fulfillment.

“If you asked me 10 years ago why not MMA, it wasn’t the time,” Saki, who faces light heavyweight Henrique da Silva (12-3 MMA, 2-3 UFC) on the FXX-televised main card of Friday’s event at Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan, told MMAjunkie. “I was still hungry to beat people up in kickboxing. That time, there were still big challenges in kickboxing, which I didn’t have for two years. I decided to stop kickboxing because I wasn’t hungry any more to train and to fight, because there was nobody like in the old times with K-1. So I stopped for two-and-a-half years.”

Stripped of the Glory light-heavyweight title for inactivity, Saki said he tried to reboot his life by focusing on other activities. But eventually, the tug to fight became to great to ignore.

“One year ago, there was an empty place in my heart; like, I fought for 20 years and I won the title, and I stopped,” he said. “(It was) in my prime. It was not the right time to stop, because I was 30 years old, and I won the title, but didn’t defend it, and also because of a couple of issues with the organization.

“I stopped for two years, and I felt an emptiness (in my heart), and I came back on a bigger stage, the biggest martial arts organization in the world, the UFC, with a lot of challenge for me. I am hungry again, and it’s time to open a new book and finish my career in the right way.”

How long will this chapter last? Saki can only speculate. A run at the title might satisfy his desire to compete at the highest level. Or it could teach him that his desire isn’t enough to match the demands of learning an entirely new set of skills. Most fighters at Saki’s age are thinking more about the end of their careers than the beginning.

But Saki has always been a fighter with a terrifying amount of heart. And to him, training in MMA has renewed his passion for beating people up.

“In my mind, it’s like I’m 11 or 12 years old again, learning things very fast again,” he said. “I’m ready to fight for four or five years more.”

As long as Saki’s journey has been, many fans who tune in Friday will get their first look at his style. If he can promise one thing about his new foray, it’s that nothing has changed about the way he fights.

“I am a striker, and they try to be a striker,” he said. “I’m 100 percent sure I’m going to bring new things to MMA. My style is kickboxing, but my style is special. Why? I can fight everybody. I can fight Thai style. I can fight with a lot of footwork. I can fight big guys.

“So for every fight, I have a different game plan. I train 20 different systems. Because of that, my style became special. Explosive. Hard. This is what people want to see. I’m sure, they’re not used to this. They’re going to be in shock.”

For more on UFC Fight Night 117, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

Filed under: News, UFC, Videos
Source: MMA Junkie

UFC's Paige VanZant wrote a book, and here's the cover

Dann StuppUFC fighter, “Chopped” winner, “Dancing with the Stars” runner-up and now author? Paige VanZant is making the most of her time in the spotlight.

The bubbly 23-year-old fan favorite will soon release “Rise: Surviving the Fight of My Life.”

The 288-page book, set for an April 2018 release, is a book “for all those who got knocked down and came up swinging,” according to the publisher, Hachette Book Group.

On Tuesday Van Zant (7-3 MMA, 3-2 UFC) released the cover of the book (via Instagram):

Instagram Photo

Here’s a description of the autobiography:

Paige VanZant is a rising Mixed Martial Arts star in the UFC’s women’s strawweight division and holds a reputation for her ability to defeat obstacles and brutal fights in and out of the octagon. Long before she was a fighting champion and household name winning over fans on ‘Dancing with the Stars’ with her beauty, strength, and infectiously bold personality, Paige struggled with her self-esteem.

On ‘Dancing with the Stars,’ Paige won hearts when she opened up for the first time about being bullied but there is so much more that she hasn’t shared until now. The journey that brought Paige to the UFC is a stunning story of overcoming tragedy and finding the strength and skills to defend oneself in the face of evil. Within the pages of ‘Rise’ is a girl who was so severely bullied in high school she had garbage thrown on her, so tortured she had to move hometowns. She sought refuge but nothing worked until one day, feeling spiritually broken and emotionally shattered, she visited her dad at his gym, and everything changed: she decided to fight back. She became Paige VanZant, a bone-breaking, head-smashing competitor and world renowned fighter.

‘Rise’ is the moving and inspiring journey of a woman who is not only one of the toughest fighters in the world, but also a beloved symbol of strength.

VanZant was on a 5-1 run, which included a dazzling jump-switch-kick KO of Bec Rawlings that earned “Performance of the Night” honors, before a submission loss to strawweight Michelle Waterson in her most recent bout. She moves up to the flyweight division for an Oct. 7 fight with Jessica Eye (11-6 MMA, 1-5 UFC) at UFC 216.

For more on UFC 216, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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

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Michael Bisping Explains the Only Way He’ll Stick Around After Fighting Georges St-Pierre

Michael Bisping’s career is coming to an end soon.

The UFC middleweight champion has long addressed the possibility that he would be retiring from the sport sooner rather than later with only a couple of fights left before he would walk away from mixed martial arts for good.

There’s a distinct possibility that Bisping may even wrap up his career in November after he faces Georges St-Pierre in the main event at UFC 217 in New York, which would serve as his second straight title defense while also facing off with a future Hall of Fame fighter.

That’s part of the reason why those closest to Bisping have advised him to think about retirement in the immediate aftermath of a win because he would finish his career in a historic venue with a victory over arguably one of the greatest fighters of all time.

“My manager says I should retire, he says this should be your last fight. He said there’s no better way and he’s right, there’s no better way than in Madison Square Garden, defending the title, beating a legend like Georges St-Pierre then putting the gloves down in the Octagon. That is the dream. That’s what everybody says,” Bisping said on his “Believe You Me” podcast.

It’s hard to argue with the logic.

At 38, Bisping is already in the latter part of his career and he achieved a lifetime goal when he knocked out Luke Rockhold last June to become UFC middleweight champion. Since then, Bisping has avenged arguably the most devastating loss of his career when he defeated Dan Henderson in his first title defense and now he has the opportunity to headline the biggest UFC card of 2017 against St-Pierre.

It all seems like a perfect way to wrap a bow on his career, but Bisping says there is one more event that could potentially lure him back to the Octagon for another fight.

“I’m kind of torn. I’m going to retire soon and it’s either going to be the GSP fight or….and me and my wife kind of agrees…I want my last fight to be in Manchester [England],” Bisping said. “So there’s a possibility this is going to be my last one or my last one will be my next one against Robert Whittaker in Manchester.”

Whittaker is the current UFC interim middleweight champion after he defeated Yoel Romero in July but then was unable to compete for the remainder of 2017 after suffering a knee injury.

Bisping has talked in the past about retiring in the cage after fighting in his home country of England, but as of now he still hasn’t made up his mind.

The biggest factor for Bisping is being able to go out on top, which is not very common at all when it comes to fighters leaving the sport of MMA.

Even in the situation of his upcoming opponent at UFC 217, Bisping wonders why St-Pierre would return after he left the sport in 2013 as a nine-time defending welterweight champion and now he’s coming back with a chance to tarnish his legacy with a loss in their fight.

“You can’t do it forever and you’ve got to know when to walk away,” Bisping said. “Georges St-Pierre did. He’s the only person to ever do it, he retired as a champion and he should have stayed retired as a champion because he’s coming out of retirement and he’s fighting me. He’s going to lose that fight, I’m assuming he’s going to lose, I’m hoping he’s going to lose but he’s going to lose that fight and that’s going to tarnish his legacy.

“What better way to do it than become the champion and retire as champion. I have a lot of things going on outside the Octagon. Of course health is an issues. I’m also young enough to do other things in my life. I’ve enjoyed being a fighter and I still enjoy being a fighter and I’m truly grateful for all the benefits it’s brought me.”

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Source: MMA Weekly

UFC 216 finalized: With Johnson-Borg addition, 1 bout moves from PPV to UFC Fight Pass

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With the addition of a new title fight, next month’s UFC 216 lineup has experienced a slight shuffle.

As recently reported, officials recently added a second title fight when flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson (26-2-1 MMA, 14-1-1 UFC) vs. Ray Borg (11-2 MMA, 5-2 UFC) was rebooked after their UFC 215 matchup was scrapped earlier this month.

UFC 216 takes place Oct. 7 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, and the main card airs on pay-per-view following prelims on FXX and UFC Fight Pass.

Despite Johnson going for a record 11th straight UFC title defense, an interim lightweight title fight between Tony Ferguson (23-3 MMA, 13-1 UFC) and Kevin Lee (16-2 MMA, 9-2 UFC) has maintained headliner status at UFC 216. Johnson’s shot at history has second billing on the card.

To make room for Johnson vs. Borg on the five-fight main card, heavyweights Walt Harris (9-5 MMA, 2-4 UFC) and Mark Godbeer (12-3 MMA, 1-1 UFC) have been bumped from the PPV portion of the lineup. However, they’re now in the featured UFC Fight Pass prelim spot and will close out the night’s early prelims.

The full UFC 216 lineup now includes:

MAIN CARD (Pay-per-view, 10 p.m. ET)

PRELIMINARY CARD (FXX, 8 p.m. ET)

PRELIMINARY CARD (UFC Fight Pass, 6 p.m. ET)

For more on UFC 216, visit the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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Source: MMA Junkie

Rory MacDonald Tapped for Bellator Welterweight Championship Challenge

Former UFC welterweight title challenger Rory MacDonald is only one fight deep into his Bellator tenure, but he’s already been tapped to challenge for the promotion’s 170-pound divisional championship.

MacDonald will challenge reigning champion Douglas Lima on Jan. 20, 2018, when Bellator returns to The Forum in Los Angeles. MMAWeekly.com confirmed the bout with Bellator officials following an initial report by the Los Angeles Times.

MacDonald (19-4) made his promotional debut in May of this year at Bellator 179, where he finished Bellator mainstay and fellow UFC veteran Paul Daley. It didn’t take long for MacDonald to prove he belonged in the Bellator welterweight upper echelon, as he choked Daley out less than two minutes into the second round. Now, he’s taking aim at the first part of his lofty Bellator goals.

“When I signed with Bellator, I made it clear I wanted to take over — multiple weight classes and multiple championships,” MacDonald said in a prepared statement first published by the Los Angeles Times. “Douglas Lima and his title are first on the list before I move onto the next.”

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Lima (29-6) also defeated Daley before he captured the title by knocking out Andrey Koreshkov at Bellator 164 last year. He has since defended the strap once, winning a five-round unanimous decision over another UFC transplant in Lorenz Larkin at Bellator NYC in June.

The champ is currently at the top of his game, and doesn’t expect any slowdown against MacDonald.

“I haven’t been this healthy in a long time and Rory is going to be just another win on my record.”

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Source: MMA Weekly

Why Sabina Mazo has so much buzz heading into Friday's LFA 23 return

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What a difference a highlight-reel knockout makes.

Colombia’s Sabina Mazo entered an LFA 9 meeting with Jamie Thorton in April as a promising but largely unknown flyweight face. Thanks to one beautiful head kick, however, she comes into Friday’s LFA 23 event with some newfound recognition as the author of one of the most talked-about knockouts of the year.

LFA 23 takes place at Horseshoe Bossier City Hotel Casino & Hotel in Bossier City, La. The main card, headlined by 170-pound champ Derrick Krantz vs. challenger James Nakashima, airs on AXS TV.

The 20-year-old Mazo moved to California less than two years ago looking to focus on her MMA career under Rafael Cordeiro at Kings MMA. While she’s only three fights into her pro run, Mazo fed her competitive nature by taking part in muay Thai, kickboxing and jiu-jitsu tournaments throughout South America before.

“I love to compete,” Mazo said before her last LFA outing. “I was born for that, so boxing, jiu-jitsu, everything and MMA. It’s everything.”

Ahead of Friday’s meeting with Linsey Williams (0-1), check out the footage of Mazo (3-0) honing her well-rounded game Rocky style, at both the beach and Kings MMA’s headquarters.

And for more on LFA 23, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

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

Filed under: AXS TV Fights, Blue Corner, Featured Videos, News
Source: MMA Junkie

Today, in gross-stuff news: UFC lightweight Dan Hooker's post-surgery knee

After Ed Herman’s gross decapitated finger, The Blue Corner presents you Dan Hooker’s gross knee.

Hooker, who’s been in the hospital treating a knee infection that required surgery, gave us a slightly graphic update on his situation. In the video, you can see the dressing being removed to reveal the expected: a recently surgically repaired knee.

The UFC lightweight even gave it a nice little closeup, to make sure. In his defense, he did warn us it was not for the fainthearted – though the sight is not quite as disgusting as Herman’s injury.

“They removed the dressing to make sure the infection was gone, and I don’t require another operation,” Hooker wrote on his 20four.com.au page. “I’m on antibiotics via a drip line, the doctors are saying maybe another couple days in hospital.”

Here it is (via Twitter):

And a happy Hooker (via Instagram)

Instagram Photo

A few weeks ago, “The Hangman” shared a video showing the badly swollen knee, which looked a few times the size of its counterpart after a “tough wrestling session” the night before.

It’s quite curious that Hooker (14-7 MMA, 4-3 UFC) is coming off a knockout win over Ross Pearson (19-14 MMA, 11-11 UFC) via – you guessed it, a knee. The knee-of-doom that earned Hooker a $50,000 fight-night bonus at UFC Fight Night 110, however, was the right one (via Twitter):

We at the Blue Corner wish Hooker a speedy recovery.

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

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Bellator books Douglas Lima vs. Rory MacDonald title fight for Jan. 20

The Bellator welterweight title will be on the line in January.

Reigning champion Douglas Lima (29-6 MMA, 11-2 BMMA) will meet Rory MacDonald (19-4 MMA, 1-0 BMMA) at the event, which doesn’t currently have a name/number, Bellator officials announced via latimes.com.

It’s slated for Jan. 20 at The Forum in Inglewood, Calif., and airs on Spike. No other bouts were announced for the card.

MacDonald is No. 4 in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA welterweight rankings, and Lima is No. 7.

Lima, a 29-year-old Brazilian, is currently in his second Bellator title reign and looks for his second straight title defense. He reclaimed the belt in November 2016 with a knockout of Andrey Koreshkov (which avenged his first title loss), and he then defended it in June with a unanimous-decision victory over Lorenz Larkin.

He meets another former UFC fighter in MacDonald. The onetime UFC title challenger left the organization after back-to-back losses to then-champ Robbie Lawler and Stephen Thompson. The 28-year-old Canadian then became one of Bellator’s top free-agent signings. In his promotional debut, he submitted Paul Daley in May.

For more on “Bellator: Lima vs. MacDonald,” check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

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Filed under: Bellator
Source: MMA Junkie

Ovince Saint Preux: ‘I Can Beat Anybody You Put in Front of Me’

(Courtesy of UFC)

Ovince Saint Preux was supposed to rematch Mauricio “Shogun” Rua at UFC Fight Night 117 on Saturday at Saitama Super Arena in Japan. That fight fell apart when Shogun had to withdraw from the fight because of a knee injury.

Instead of canceling the main event, the UFC moved swiftly to keep Saint Preux on the fight card. 

Matchmakers inked a deal with former UFC middleweight title contender Yushin Okami, who agreed to step in on short notice to fight Saint Preux at light heavyweight.

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While many fighters might hesitate at a last-minute change, Saint Preux did not. He’s ready for whomever the UFC puts in front of him. 

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Source: MMA Weekly

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