Darren Till's simple plan? Be the 'greatest fighter that ever fought in MMA'

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GDANSK, Poland – When you ask fighters how they feel on the cusp of potentially career-defining moments, there’s one particular descriptor that seems downright inescapable: excited.

But as Darren Till (15-0-1 MMA, 3-0-1 UFC) prepares to headline his first UFC card, against WEC and octagon vet Donald Cerrone (32-9 MMA, 19-6 UFC), that’s not the word that he would use.

“I’m not excited,” Till told MMAjunkie ahead of Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 118 event. “I’m not getting into my emotions right now. I’ve been saying this for the past few weeks: I just live in the moment. I’m seeing my face on the poster, but it hasn’t hit me yet. That that is me and that I’m fighting Cerrone.

“I’m just living every moment. I’m not taking anything for granted because opportunities like these only come around every so often, especially after I only got four fights in the UFC. It takes guys 10 fight-plus to get main events. So I’m honored. I really am.”

UFC Fight Night 118 takes place at Ergo Arena in Gdansk, Poland, and the entire card streams on UFC Fight Pass.

Till’s unique choice of words falls right in line with his UFC trajectory. As the welterweight himself pointed out, it’s not common for a fighter to earn such a big opportunity after an exciting, but timid four-fight UFC run – especially with a draw among those results.

Not only that: Despite being unbeaten, Till came out of relative obscurity to debut in the UFC – which he did as an underdog, back in 2015. But the charismatic Liverpool native, who’d had all of his previous pro MMA bouts in his temporary home of Brazil, seems to have a knack for making the opportunities count.

After taking a decision over Bojan Velickovic in a UFC Fight Night 115 barnburner in September, Till’s poise on the mic also stood out. And then the striking specialist famously turned a bar chat with matchmaker Sean Shelby into his biggest career opportunity yet.

Till hasn’t exactly been shy about his high aspirations. He’s not in this simply to build a career and, hopefully, make some money in the process. In fact, he’s not even in this to simply be a UFC champion.

“I want to be remembered as the greatest fighter that ever fought in MMA,” Till said.

But even with all of his ambition and remarkable self-confidence, Till carries some self-awareness with him. Which is why he took no ounce of offense when “Cowboy” Cerrone talked about not knowing who he was before agreeing to the welterweight scrap.

“Why should he know who I am? He’s got no reason to,” Till said. “Everyone thinks that I took disrespect to that. No, I didn’t. The guy has got no right in knowing who I am. Obviously, he knows who I am now.”

In fact, when it comes to Cerrone, the 24-year-old Till holds no grudges or no ill ill. The two, the Brit said, have run into each other in the hotel lobby a few times already and have exchanged nothing but friendly nods in a week that’s all about “good vibes.”

That is, until it isn’t.

“I came up watching him when he was fighting in the WEC (and) all of his UFC fights,” Till said. “I’m a fan. But I am still going to knock him out on Saturday. I respect him. After the fight he can have a Budweiser with me. But I will go in there to knock him straight out. That’s what I will do.”

Till, who’s clearly not one for modest plans, sees himself going on to be one of MMA’s biggest game-changers – joining the likes of former 205-pound champ Chuck Liddell, ex-middleweight-kingpin Anderson Silva and current lightweight titleholder Conor McGregor.

Saturday’s headliner, Till said, will be his “historic” moment, the one that reveals all of his greatness to the world. But even his grandiose plans are grounded in reality. While he fully expects a title shot to come some time in the future, he disagrees with those who think that a win over Cerrone could get him there already.

“I don’t want a title after this fight,” Till said. “I don’t believe I’ve earned that fight. I will never disrespect the champion that way. I want to (expletive) that champion up anyway. But I’m not going to disrespect that guy. That guy has racked years and years to get where he is now.

“And I just beat Cerrone, and it’s like, the guy thinks he deserves a title shot? No. I’ve got a good head on me. And I know after Cerrone I need to beat maybe one or two more people until I get that title.”

Upon getting those top-10 foes that should get him in line for the belt, though, Till has very little doubt as to what would happen.

“There’s no one in there that can beat me,” Till said. “They’re all bums.”

In fact, why stop at the top 10 of his own division?

“I am just the best fighter out there,” Till said. “There’s not a guy who’s better than me, on my level. In my mind, there’s not a guy who can beat me. I really truly believe that when I say it. Guys, they come out to say they’re the best and this and that. You can see, when they say it, they don’t believe it.

“When I say something, I believe it totally. I don’t look at someone – I don’t look at (170-pound champion Tyron) Woodley. I don’t even look at light heavyweights that are better than me. I believe I’m better than every single one of them.”

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

And for more on UFC Fight Night 118, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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Source: MMA Junkie

Eddie Alvarez talks 'TUF 26' gripe with Lauren Murphy – and lack of heat with Justin Gaethje

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Eddie Alvarez has no qualms with fellow “The Ultimate Fighter 26” coach Justin Gaethje, who he thinks is a “hell of a human being.” But that’s not to say his “TUF” stint has been beef-free.

Rather than fellow lightweight Gaethje (18-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC), whom he’s set to meet at UFC 218, Alvarez (28-5 MMA, 3-2 UFC) had some drama with “Team Alvarez” team member and UFC flyweight Lauren Murphy. That much was clear on episode No. 5, in which the coach was clearly peeved by Murphy’s decision to not show up for morning practice following a loss to Nicco Montano.

That did take place. But the real reasons for the riff, Alvarez later told MMAjunkie Radio, went far beyond that particular disagreement.

“The story that’s being told in the media is basically: I’m a bad guy because I wanted someone back in the gym immediately after their fight,” Alvarez said. “And that was barely my gripe with that girl, in particular. That was the smalls thing that I didn’t like that was done that she did. I would also have to agree with you guys, to give somebody time off.

“I did want everyone back in the gym just to keep – personally, I did. But that was barely my gripe. My real gripe with that girl was that at that the first day, almost, she conspired against (Sijara Eubanks). Immediately, she was like, ‘We don’t care if ‘Sarj’ is 150 pounds.’ We – she’s speaking for the whole team now. And we just created the team.

“She goes, ‘We don’t care if ‘Sarj’ is 150 pounds. You can put her out first. It’s her fault she’s not prepared.’ So I was like, ‘Wow.’ Coach Marlon (Moraes) came to me and said, ‘Lauren said she don’t care if we put out ‘Sarj.” And this is in the mist of me, Mark and Marlon trying to put together a solid roster and win this thing. So I’m like, ‘No, that ain’t going to happen.’ I understand maybe she feels threatened by ‘Sarj,’ but ‘Sarj’ is on our team.”

And that wasn’t the last time Alvarez was under the impression that Murphy was “conspiring” against her teammates. A few days later, when the bracket went up, he said the flyweight came “in a panic” looking for advice on how to prepare for fellow Team Alvarez member Barb Honchak.

“She starts, ‘Hey, can you help me with a takedown, to take Barb down?’” Alvarez said. “I’m like, ‘Lauren, slow down. You have to fight Team Gaethje first.’ She still hasn’t fought her first fight against Nicco, and she’s already conspired twice or three times against everyone from Team Alvarez.

“I understand it’s Team Lauren Murphy because only one girl can win this, but it’s got to be one step at a time. Let’s beat Team Gaethje. Let’s get to the semifinals. Even then it’s bad to conspire, but let’s conspire then. Let’s take one thing at a time. There was a lot of bad energy, bad vibes when I’m trying to create a team.”

As for the missing practice thing that seemed like such a big deal on TV?

“(Expletive), it was a good thing she missed practice,” Alvarez said. “Her attitude sucked. It was probably a good thing, at the end of the day. I could care less about the practice.”

Talking to MMAFighting.com, Murphy denied conspiring against her teammates, saying Alvarez assumed “I was being an (expletive), because he’s an (expletive), and that’s the way he thinks.” She also blogged about the missed-practice situation, throwing some shade in the process.

“Besides, I’m pretty sure Eddie didn’t go running to the gym the day after Conor McGregor knocked him out so he could help his teammates get ready for their fights,” Murphy wrote (via Twitter):

Although things got rocky with one of his team members, Alvarez had no issues with the man he’s supposed to fight on Dec. 2 at UFC 218. The former UFC and Bellator champion, who’s hopped around promotions throughout his career, had become familiar with ex-WSOF champ Gaethje a few years ago – when he was considering fighting for the organization (now referred at as PFL).

A few months ago, when Gaethje joined the UFC, Alvarez said they shared a friendly conversation. And while it’s common for tempers to flare between rival coaches after a few weeks of competition, Alvarez said the amicable relationship continued throughout taping.

“He’s always been a cool cat,” Alvarez said. “I wish I could bring up some beef for you guys and say I smacked him in the face or I shoved him. But there wasn’t much drama to be told on that level.

“He’s actually a hell of a human being. And he fights like a demon. So it was all good on that level.”

It doesn’t take getting to know Gaethje on a personal level to agree with the “fighting like a demon” bit. After tearing through his competition at his former WSOF home, the aggressive lightweight put on a wild scrap with Michael Johnson to kick off his UFC stint.

While Alvarez has also been known to engage on a few barnburners, he’s also shown he can show some restraint should the occasion call. So which one can we expect to square off against Gaethje?

Well, Alvarez has some encouraging news.

“What I’m trying to do is not let a couple of punches go by before that comes out,” Alvarez said. “I’m going to do a full round in the back, and I’ll be out hot. I’m going to come out of the tunnel hot. And we’re going to get right to it, right from the gate.

“More than jiu-jitsu, striking, boxing, whatever aspect of this game you want to talk about. More than anything, that’s the aspect I’ve been working on. If I can explain it, just not giving a (expletive). That’s what I’m working on.”

To hear from Alvarez, check out the video above.

And for more on UFC 218, 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 and producer Brian “Goze” Garcia. For more information or to download past episodes, go to www.mmajunkie.com/radio.

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Source: MMA Junkie

Dhiego Lima unloads on 'TUF 25' winner Jesse Taylor after doping fail

Dhiego Lima is feeling some type of way about Jesse Taylor’s recent failed doping test.

Taylor (31-15 MMA, 1-1 UFC), who earned the “The Ultimate Fighter 25” crown with a second-round submission of Lima (12-6 MMA, 1-4 UFC) at the show’s finale back in July, was flagged by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) after estrogen blocker clomiphen was caught in a test conducted on Aug. 22.

Other than adding quite the unfortunate twist to what had been the redemption story of the year, the bust forced Taylor out of a UFC Fight Night 121 encounter and got him a one-year suspension from USADA. Still, given it stemmed from an out-of-competition test, it doesn’t change the outcome of his most recent bout.

That’s where Lima comes in.

Had it been a straightforward steroid, Lima said, it would be one thing. But the fact that clomiphen can also be used to cycle off steroids has him thinking – well, it has him pretty damn certain – that Taylor used PEDs in the leadup to their fight.

“For our fight, he knew our anti-doping would only be a normal pee test,” Lima told MMAjunkie. “So he must have done a cycle for that. And then, one month later, he flunked with a post-cycle drug. Of course he was taking stuff to fight me.”

Understandably, Lima is grappling with quite the plethora of emotions. Let’s start with the first and perhaps most surprising one, which he got right after a Twitter user alerted him to the bust.

“It was a relief for me, to be honest,” Lima told MMAjunkie.

Allow Lima to explain. He was on the same team as Taylor on “TUF,” which means the two had trained together for weeks. Lima knew how strong Taylor was. But as a big 200-pound welterweight, Lima’s not exactly frail himself. So when Lima was faced with a much stronger opponent than the one he’d shared a mat with, he was puzzled.

“That was on my mind – ‘Why was that guy so much stronger than me?’” Lima said. “I trained so hard, and the guy tossed me around like I was nothing? How? It’s not possible. I knew how strong he was in the house. So for me, it would be the same at the fight.

“I did what I had to do to win, but come fight time, he was like three times stronger than me. I got depressed, you know. I thought about the fight so much, and I couldn’t understand. I knew it. I told everyone after the fight that he was too strong, that there was no way that was possible. And there you go.”

Clomiphene was the same substance that caused former champions Brock Lesnar and Jon Jones to be flagged in relation to their respective UFC 200 bouts. According to USADA, it “indirectly promotes the secretion of testosterone,” which, especially combined with strength training, “has been demonstrated to increase fat-free mass, muscle size, and strength in males.”

For Lima, who even considered moving up to 185 pounds in fear that his weight cut had depleted him of strength, the failed drug test meant some vindication. After months of going over it all and telling himself – and everyone else – that being “thrown around like a kid” by Taylor didn’t make any sense, he at least got some peace of mind.

“I knew I’d done everything right,” Lima said. “It all clicked.”

But there’s also quite a bit of frustration. After all, Taylor’s win over Lima earned him not only the “TUF” crown, but also a generous fight purse that had never been given to a season winner before.

“It wasn’t just any fight,” Lima said. “It was a finale. There was $250,000 (it actually ended up amounting to $290,000) on the line. I have three kids. I trained very hard for this fight. I suffered so much. Some days, I couldn’t even walk because I was training so hard. I knew about his strength. I knew about his wrestling. I prepared for everything. I trained with him for six weeks. He was on my team.

“I knew what I had to do to win the fight. I did everything right. I passed my post-fight tests. And then I hear the guy flunked a test a month later, knowing he did a cycle for my fight? This hurts me a lot. I suffered so much for this fight, and the guy cheats to beat me? It pisses me off.”

Despite Lima’s claims, Taylor has maintained his innocence (via Facebook):

Instagram Photo

While Lima is aware that he’s not seeing any of that “TUF” money, he hopes the UFC will find some way of making it up for him. Considering that “TUF” winners get better UFC deals – in this case, Lima said, Taylor’s is $20,000 heftier than his. So he’d be happy just to get that.

“USADA is trying to clean up the sport, so they need to see that he took a post-cycle drug,” Lima said. “Who doesn’t see that? It’s common sense. They need to take care of me. And I believe they will. They have to give me his contract. We’ll see. He’s suspended, so he won’t even fight. I’m here. I passed my tests. I’m training hard. I’ll fight anyone.”

Of course, there’s one pretty obvious obstacle to getting his demands met. Although Lima, personally, seems quite certain that Taylor took the substance to get his levels back to normal after a PED cycle leading up to their fight, there’s really not much he can do to prove it.

Still, Lima is confident that, with some added support from his colleagues and a proper social media campaign, he should be able to get the UFC on board.

“The fighters are all on my side – especially the clean ones,” Lima said. “They know where I’m coming from. Brian Stann, who I used to train with, always told me: ‘Dhiego, when you fight someone who’s on PEDs, you will know.’ And that’s what happened in this fight.

“I have the fighters on my side. I’m taking to social media. Dana White likes me. So I think there is a chance of at least getting a better contract, especially now that they’re trying to clean the sport with USADA.”

Taylor, who ended up getting the highest possible sanction for a first-time offender caught with a specified substance, immediately maintained he’s “never done steroids.” Lima, however, suspects that’s exactly what his former opponent had been doing for a while.

“I’m no one to judge anyone,” Lima said. “But it’s common sense. The guy is 35 and has a back full of pimples. Where have you seen that before? Is he just hitting puberty now?”

The problem isn’t personal. Lima, in fact, won’t deny that Taylor’s comeback story was quite the intriguing one. But as someone who’s adamant on the fact that he’s 100 percent clean, the Brazilian is not OK with any fighter who tries to take shortcuts.

“There is a different in strength, of course, but this also helps them mentally,” Lima said. “We do a camp, we train very hard, and sometimes our body can’t keep up. Sometimes you’re all hurt and broken, so you’re not always training at 100 percent. They say it helps with everything. Their training sessions will always be good, because they have that.

“These guys don’t wanna go through the suffering, they want the easier way. The thing that helps with performance and recovery. And these guys need to be banned. For a guy like me, who’s never taken anything, who diets every day, who trains hard, who goes through all the hardships, it’s so unfair to us. It’s ridiculous. These guys need to be banned. They need to go away. It makes me angry.”

As upset as he is with the situation, Lima said that it’s also going to allow him to start fresh. When he returns to the octagon, which he plans on doing in December, he will be doing it with a clear mind.

As for his most recent opponent? Well, that’s his problem.

“His story was amazing,” Lima said. “What he did the first time, what he did to return. But if he can sleep at night knowing that he had to cheat to beat me? That’s his problem. I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night knowing I had to cheat to get something like this.

“He fought well and all, but I knew what I had to do. If he can sleep at night, that’s good for him. But I wouldn’t be able to.”

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

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Evan Dunham is a Conor McGregor fan – but if anybody asks, Tony Ferguson is the UFC champ

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While matchmaking is not an exact science, there is a general logic to the process, which often involves fighters paired with peers who are coming off equally positive or negative outcomes.

But then how do you go about planning your octagon future when you neither won nor lost your most recent bout?

That’s what lightweight Evan Dunham, who fought Beneil Dariush to a majority draw last week at UFC 216, will find out.

“I’m not going to fight down,” Dunham told MMAjunkie Radio. “I’ll tell you that right now. I’m only fighting up. And I said that going into my last fight. Because they tried to give me someone who wasn’t ranked.

“And I was like, ‘Dude, I’m coming off four wins. If this isn’t an opportunity for me to fight up, I don’t know what is.’ And since I didn’t take a loss, I’m not changing my stance.”

Dunham (18-6-1 MMA, 11-6-1 UFC) and Dariush (14-3-1 MMA, 8-3-1 UFC) opened UFC 216’s pay-per-view main card on a solid note. Dariush’s strong start had him taking a pair of 10-8 scores in the first round, but Dunham’s rally granted him the 10-9 scorecards that he needed to even things out – despite one judge seeing it Dariush’s way.

As it often happens with outcomes like these, both Dariush and Dunham were left thinking they’d done enough to win the fight. But at least one of them found out that, after 10 years, there are still surprises to be had in the octagon.

“A draw never even crossed my mind until they said it, to tell you the truth,” Dunham said. “Because I think this was what, my 33rd fight or something like that total, counting amateurs. And I’d never had a draw before. So I wasn’t thinking draw. I was actually thinking I won that, because I won (Rounds 2 and 3).

“When I’m there, I don’t think about, ‘How did they score this round?’ I think about, ‘Did I win that round, or did I lose that round?’ But after this fight I’m probably going to start thinking a little bit more, like ‘OK, how exactly did they score it?’”

Dunham’s plans moving forward were made clear: He’s not dipping below himself in the official UFC rankings, in which he occupies the No. 14 spot. But like a lot of his fellow UFC lightweights, Dunham knows that making your way up can be complicated given the division’s current state of affairs.

“Kevin Lee said it best, the rankings don’t mean (expletive) at this point,” Dunham said. “Which breaks my heart, hearing that as a guy who’s based my whole career trying to make my way up the rankings. Because, in my idea, you work your way up the rankings, that’s what gets you a title shot.”

Instead, Dunham believes there’s a logjam atop the division – with a few key players making it harder by their inactivity. That starts with champion Conor McGregor, who Dunham clarifies he is actually a fan of, but also goes by the likes of McGregor’s two-time opponent Nate Diaz and undefeated contender Khabib Nurmagomedov.

“The division is so jammed up at the top that it makes it really tough for anybody to work their way up,” Dunham said. “Because you’ve got Diaz, who’s not doing anything. You’ve got Conor, who’s – well, last weekend kind of helped it out. Now we have an interim champion, and there is starting to be some movement.”

The way Dunham – as well as a large group of people that includes UFC President Dana White – sees it, the title fight to make now is between newly crowned interim champion Tony Ferguson (24-3 MMA, 14-1 UFC) and McGregor (21-3 MMA, 9-1 UFC). Of course, rankings logic is one good reason for that. But Dunham also sees the battle as an intriguing stylistic matchup.

“That’s why the interim title was made,” Dunham said. “That’s the reason why they did the whole thing last weekend. Ferguson is the champ. In my book, if anybody asks, Ferguson is the champ of the 155 division right now.”

The next title challenger, Dunham reasons, could very well emerge from a UFC 218 meeting between ex-titleholder Eddie Alvarez and former WSOF champion Justin Gaethje. A meeting that, it turns out, Dunham is particularly invested in.

“I would like to fight the loser of that,” Dunham said. “Usually, they go loser-loser, and I’m kind of in this grey area of a draw. I don’t know what it means, but I guess I’ll figure it out pretty soon. But I would love to fight the loser of that fight, because the winner should get a title shot. It makes sense to me.”

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 and producer Brian “Goze” Garcia. For more information or to download past episodes, go to www.mmajunkie.com/radio.

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After cancer brought blooming career to a halt, Bruno Ferreira still wants shot at his dream

Bruno Ferreira didn’t literally go from “heaven to hell” in one week back in June of 2014. But what he went through shortly after signing his fist international contract came close.

Ferreira was 26 and held a spotless eight-finish MMA record when he signed with what was then Legacy FC. Unlike most up-and-comers, who have their sights set in the UFC from the start, Ferreira didn’t even put that much thought into that back then. His first major dream had already been fulfilled: he would get to fight in the U.S.

“It’d be my first time outside of Brazil,” Ferreira told MMAjunkie. “I think I’ve never even seen an airplane.”

Ferreira didn’t exactly lead a luxurious life. After moving from his native Sao Jose do Rio Pardo with a 5-0 record to train in the much bigger city of Campinas, he had to live in the gym. By the time the Legacy FC contract came, three wins later, he’d just recently been able to rent a one-bedroom apartment with his wife.

Things seemed to be quite on track for Ferreira (8-0), except for the back pain that some seriously persistent kidney stones had been giving him for nearly six months. Nothing seemed to work to ease his suffering. Still, Ferreira pushed on, training as hard as ever.

Until, after taking three consecutive trips to the hospital in one weekend, Ferreira urged the doctors to take action.

“It was the same week I had signed with Legacy,” Ferreira said. “(The signing) was even in the newspaper – I even showed it to the doctor. I hadn’t done the scan yet, so I told him I was going to fight soon and I needed to get rid of the stones. I couldn’t take the pain anymore.”

So they finally did a scan. Instead of pain relief, though, what Ferreira got something much scarier: a cancer diagnosis, and a somewhat advanced one, at that, which had already spread from one of his testicles and made its way up to other spots in the fighter’s belly.

“I went from heaven to hell in the same week,” Ferreira said. “I made my dream come true, and then the rug was pulled from under me. At first it was very hard. I was depressed. I was at a situation in which, as soon as it got dark, I started crying immediately. I was in despair.

“Because when you find out about the disease, the first thing you think is that you’re going to die. It was the only thing I thought, that I was going to die and that I wouldn’t be able to do what I love anymore, what I’d conquered, which is fighting.”

Aggressive chemo, three surgeries and a lost voice

Ferreira was admitted to the hospital, where he stayed for a week. Things, however, would only get tougher from there.

“Two weeks after I found out, I lost my voice,” Ferreira said. “I couldn’t talk for five months, due to a mass. I did six cycles of hardcore chemo. And then, in October I had surgery and removed the testicle.”

Ferreira’s chemo treatment was aggressive: The cycles, which were administered 21 days apart, consisted of Monday-to-Friday treatment, with medication going into his body from five to six hours straight. At first, Ferreira could barely gather the strength to eat.

But, after his body started getting accustomed to the aggressive treatment, he went back to the mat for some jiu-jitsu. Of course, there was some serious physical strain. But, for a man who’d just had his dream so violently snatched away, it was also therapy.

“I had no strength,” Ferreira recalled. “My friends took it easy on me. But I was always staying active. I did one hour, 40 minutes of training, and it was enough to make me happy. I felt alive again.”

In March 2015, Ferreira would have to give the mat a break again. Two eight-hour surgeries in the same spot, 15 days apart, left him recovering from a big gash on his belly for four months. And the scare wasn’t over. Late in 2016, altered blood work meant another two particularly rough rounds of chemo.

“I almost died doing the chemo,” Ferreira said. “I couldn’t eat for 10 days. I couldn’t even swallow my saliva. It destroyed my body.”

While he always got back to the mat, Ferreira felt drained and tired – even in between chemo treatments. He moved from Campinas back to his city, where he opened a gym with his wife, who’s a zumba teacher. At some point, as he battled to get his health back, Ferreira had to confront the harsh reality that perhaps his days of being an MMA fighter were behind him.

“A few times, I thought, ‘There’s no point,’” Ferreira said. “‘I’ll need to move on with my life. This part of it is done. I’ll never be as strong as I was before.’”

Determined to not surrender, though, Ferreira decided to resort to other methods as well. Ferreira, who’s very religious, heard in church about an alternative type of treatment that focuses on food and dietary supplements. While the efficiency of these kinds of treatment is a far from unanimous, Ferreira started feeling like his old self again.

“I started doing sparring,” Ferreira said. “And that fire that was deep down in me started lighting up again. I started winning jiu-jitsu fights in tournaments again. And then it started coming back to me.”

“My dream hasn’t died”

While Ferreira is still going to have to follow his health closely for years, he’s hoping the two rounds of chemo in late 2016 were his last. He’s now eating properly – mostly lean meats, vegetables and complex carbs – and says he feels just as strong as he felt before the health scare. Finally, he feels ready to return to the cage.

Ferreira says he’s now training three to four times a day and believes he could start a camp and be ready to take a bantamweight fight as soon as four months from now. A mission that his manager since before he got sick, Wade Hampel, has fully embraced.

“The time is now,” Ferreira said. “My dream hasn’t died. God gave me a chance to continue and I’m going to pursue it.”

Ferreira’s last MMA fight, in 2013, ended the same way that all of his other ones did: with a first-round finish on the ground. Even the only knockout, he explained, actually stemmed from an attack from the mount. His eye-popping record, paired with his attitude, made Hampel sure that his signee was destined for great things.

Which is why, even when Ferreira tried to come to terms with the fact that he might never return, Hampel remained confident.

“I always knew he was a great fighter in the cage and life,” Hampel said. “Even though it was a dire situation, I like to believe he was going to fight this way through this. And if there’s anyone that could fight their way through this, it was Bruno. He’s accustomed to difficult challenges in life.

“And I think he embraced it just like he does fighting in the cage. He never quit. Even though his pictures showed him sick, with cancer, they did not show a broken soul. I knew there was always hope. I knew he always had hope. And I never saw him broken.”

The manager, in fact, signed Ferreira along with a close friend of his, Ricardo Ramos, most commonly known in Brazil as “Carcacinha.” Ramos, who trained and slept in the same gym as Ferreira, was 6-0 then. The plan was the same for both then-undefeated fighters: getting them to Legacy FC first, then the UFC.

While Ramos, who’s now scheduled to fight at UFC 217 after a successful octagon debut, went on to do just that, Ferreira faced a much harder battle. But, for Ferreira, watching from the sidelines didn’t turn into frustration. If anything, Ferreira celebrated his friend’s success as his own.

“I know everything he went through, from age 14 to 21,” Ferreira said. “When he signed his UFC contract, it was the happiest day of my life. I was so happy for him, because he deserved it.

“(Watching MMA) was a way of making me feel closer to it. I was never sad watching it, like ‘I’m never going to do this.’ I loved it and I still do. I always had it in my heart. While, in my head, I sometimes thought ‘I’m going to have to give up,’ in my heart I’ve always had a lot of faith in God that it would work out. That my dream wasn’t over. That it was simply paused.”

“I was afraid of death before. But we’re here, aren’t we?”

While Hampel says he has no doubts that Ferreira would be in the UFC had he continued on his path, the bantamweight himself doesn’t think about that. The 29-year-old’s main goal, as it turns out, remains the same as it was back in 2013.

“I’ll fight for anyone that wants me,” Ferreira said with a laugh. “My dream is just to fight abroad, really. I never thought specifically about the UFC. I thought about fighting internationally – especially in the U.S. And then, if I won, the UFC could maybe follow, I don’t know.”

The dark days were made lighter by the overwhelming support Ferreira found in his wife, parents, in-laws, training partners and friends. He’s feeling good, he’s eating well but, most importantly, he’s alive. Even if it took, before his 30th birthday, dealing with difficulties that most people don’t face in a lifetime.

“I got sick at a time when people are usually so healthy, you know?” Ferreira said. “And you learn how to deal with things. Sometimes even in training, I was exhausted, gassed out, and I thought, ‘Are you going to give up again?’ So I told myself no, and I got back in there.

“I think you learn how to see life differently. I was afraid of death before. But we’re here, aren’t we? We’re all subjected to it, not just those of us who are sick.”

Ferreira is now ready and eager to re-open a book that he once feared would be closed for good. But, with the inevitable perspective that comes with dealing with uniquely difficult questions, Ferreira is happy to take it one chapter at a time.

“At first I’m thinking about this fight,” Ferreira said. “Whatever comes after it, I welcome it. Hopefully I’ll win. If anything else comes along after it, it will be a gift from God already.”

For more on upcoming MMA schedule, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

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Source: MMA Junkie

Ex-UFC champ Lyoto Machida talks pressure, support ahead of big return on home turf

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On the lead-up to this month’s UFC Fight Night 119, the main narrative has been around headliner Lyoto Machida and his long-awaited return to competition.

Machida (22-7 MMA, 14-7 UFC), who was issued an 18-month suspension by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency after admitting to taking a banned substance ahead of a scheduled UFC on FOX 19 bout, will end a more than two-year layoff when he meets fellow middleweight Derek Brunson (17-5 MMA, 8-3 UFC) on Oct. 28.

The last time the UFC’s former 205-pound champ and onetime middleweight title challenger was seen in action was in June 2015, when a knockout loss to Yoel Romero added to a two-fight skid.

Neither the time away nor the consecutive losses, however, seem to have diminished Machida’s prestige – at least not in Brazil. After all, not only does he get to come back as a headliner, he gets to do it in his native country, at Sao Paulo’s Ibirapuera Gymnasium.

When it comes to such a high-stakes comeback, does being at home make the situation easier – or does it only add more pressure?

“Both,” Machida told MMAjunkie Radio. “There is a lot of pressure, of course, because I’m going to fight in my country. But on the other hand, I have a lot of support. I can feel that through social media and through interviews that I’ve been doing.

“I can feel that I have a lot of support in Brazil. At the same time, a lot of pressure, but I have to handle that, just do my best and just keep my focus on what I have to do there.”

At 39, Machida has seen his share of action throughout a decade-long UFC run that started on an eight-fight winning streak – including a huge title win over Rashad Evans and a historic, closely contested defense over Mauricio Rua. He’s retired a legend in Randy Couture, tried his hand against Jon Jones and challenged for titles three times, in two separate weight divisions.

Amid his lengthy record, the karate-based Machida can point to quite a few wrestlers, as well. And, given the outcomes against the likes of Couture, Ryan Bader, Mark Munoz and Dan Henderson, it’s safe to say he’s not exactly unequipped to deal with the dangers they present.

That will certainly come in handy against the 33-year-old Brunson, who also comes from a wrestling background. But, considering the five first-round knockouts that Brunson carries on his octagon record, Machida is probably wise in not reducing his opponent to a “wrestler” label.

“He’s a complete fighter,” Machida said. “He’s well-rounded. He drops people with hands, too. Of course, his background is in wrestling. But, with the camp that I’ve been doing here, I believe that I can stop his takedowns.

“And my background is in karate, and (as a) standup fighter, so I believe I can stop Derek Brunson and bring this victory to my team and my country.”

That doesn’t mean Machida is sleeping on Brunson’s wrestling. But, other than his experience, the former UFC champion is confident in the work he put in to handle it, with the guidance of wrestling coach Eric Albarracin and even former opponent Munoz.

Other than the fight-specific preparation, which Machida says was mostly conducted at Rafael Cordeiro’s Kings MMA, he’s had quite some time to make tweaks in his game. Which is why “The Dragon” tries not to view his somewhat harsh suspension as entirely bad.

“I used this break to put some different tools, and I incorporated different techniques,” Machida said. “Improved a little bit more, evolved a little more my overall style, My karate and my standup fighting.”

Even for the experienced Machida, the return after such a long gap feels like a beginning of sorts.

“But I know as soon as I step in the octagon, I’ll realize that I already did this before,” Machida said.

For more on UFC Fight Night 119, 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 and producer Brian “Goze” Garcia. For more information or to download past episodes, go to www.mmajunkie.com/radio.

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Source: MMA Junkie

After battling 'trickier' Anderson Silva, Derek Brunson unfazed by Lyoto Machida's striking

Derek Brunson has in UFC Fight Night 119 opponent Lyoto Machida a skilled, elusive striker. But, after dealing with the “trickier” Anderson Silva, Brunson isn’t too worried.

Brunson (17-5 MMA, 8-3 UFC) and Machida (22-7 MMA, 14-7 UFC) meet in a UFC Fight Night 119-headlining affair on Oct. 28, at Ibirapuera Gymnasium in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Brunson comes into the bout riding a first-round knockout win over Daniel Kelly – which snapped a two-fight losing skid, capped off by an unanimous-decision loss to Silva in February.

Machida and Silva have a few things in common. Other than being talented counter-strikers who have previously held UFC belts, the Brazilians have shared training sessions and a management team. And, as it appears, they’ve also shared insight on Brunson.

Brunson, however, isn’t concerned about whatever intel Machida might be gathering. If anything, Brunson walks into the FS1-televised bout made all the more confident by his encounter with Silva.

“Anderson doesn’t really have any valid advice,” Brunson told MMAjunkie. “The only valid advice is he can say, ‘Derek is going to shoot for a takedown. Derek is going to do this, or do that.’ But everything he’s telling him, he can see it in the film. But he might want to take into consideration that fight was on three weeks, a month’s notice – very short notice. So I wasn’t the best that I was in.

“In my opinion, Anderson is harder to deal with than Machida. He has more length and he has more deception in his strikes. Whereas Machida, you pretty much know what he’s doing, and you know the blitz is coming. I think Anderson is trickier, and I was able to deal with that, so I’m feeling very comfortable to go out and fight with a good striker, but less tricky.”

There are a few variables around Machida for this one. At 39, the former 205-pound champ hasn’t fought in over two years. The time away wasn’t voluntary – at least not the 18 months determined by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), after Machida admitted to taking a prohibited substance prior to his last scheduled bout.

Machida, himself, has been putting a positive spin on the suspension. But not everyone was on board with the harshness of the penalty, considering the facts that the ex-champ was upfront about the intake of 7-keto-DHEA before even failing a test and that some of his peers received more lenience in light of seemingly worse offenses.

In the polarizing discussion about ring rust, Brunson sides with those who don’t really see it as that big of a factor. But, when it comes to the USADA situation, it’s safe to say we can’t expect Brunson to advocate for the ex-champ’s innocence.

“I’m not really a believer in inactivity being an advantage,” Brunson said. “I know he’s been out because of some supplement, or some PED, I’m not really sure what it was. I also know that guys often come up with excuses for what they did so it wouldn’t reflect as PEDs, also.

“So I think maybe he might come out looking like a different fighter as far as, you know, the cardio, the strength and stuff like that. But I think that he will still have his skillset.”

Other than the layoff, Machida has another thing going against him: He enters the fight riding back-to-back losses to former middleweight champion Luke Rockhold and contender Yoel Romero. It’s Machida’s first skid of consecutive losses since 2010 – when he followed a title-costing loss to Mauricio Rua with a decision setback to Quinton Jackson.

While “The Dragon” has never ceased being a menacing presence in the UFC’s roster, the mystique that surrounded his karate-based movement has certainly grown weaker over the years, as more and more opponents were able to crack his code in the octagon.

On his end, Brunson sees Machida as a “very patient” and “accurate” striker –but, also, a predictable one.

“I think he’s the same type of fighter since he entered the UFC,” Brunson said. “But there’s more material on him. More video. More film. You can kind of see what he does.”

Meanwhile, the 33-year-old Brunson has been working to fill some of the holes in his own game. While his power is undeniable – as consecutive knockout victims Sam Alvey, Roan Carneiro and Uriah Hall would probably agree – the flip side of Brunson’s aggression showed last November, when interim champ Robert Whittaker knocked him out after a wild start to a UFC Fight Night 101 affair.

Don’t get him wrong: Brunson is still as finish-driven as ever. But he believes he’s become better at navigating the fine line between being aggressive and downright reckless.

“I think I’ll get the finish,” Brunson said. “I definitely think I’ll get my hand raised. But yeah – I’m going to fight looking for the finish. And I’m finding better ways to do it without putting myself in so much risk. I know that guys are expecting this fireball to come at them, and waiting for the counter or whatever. I understand.

“In the Anderson fight, I understood Anderson is a great counter-striker. With Lyoto, I understand he’s a good counter-striker. With that being said, there are some things I have to adjust and I think I’ll be able to find the finish.”

Adding a second win to his streak with an incisive display over an ex-champ who’s currently ranked No. 11 in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA middleweight rankings would certainly be a good statement for the No. 10-ranked Brunson, especially considering he was on a four-fight winning streak prior to his brief skid.

In fact, Brunson ponders, it could very well mean he’s one fight away from a title shot. But, at the same time, it could mean nothing in a “crazy weight class” that could become even crazier after titleholder Michael Bisping puts his belt on the line against former 170-pound kingpin Georges St-Pierre at UFC 217.

Considering that, while well-known, Machida’s standing in the division after the time away is hard to even calculate, Brunson won’t dwell too much on what may follow. So, given all the variables, why the dangerous Machida, in his home country?

“I like good fights, you know,” Brunson said. “Machida definitely has a name value, so I’m definitely interested in that aspect.”

For more on UFC Fight Night 119, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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Source: MMA Junkie

No rush for UFC 216's Mara Romero Borella as she savors stunning short-notice debut

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It’s been quite an eventful few days for Mara Romero Borella.

Barely a week ago, Borella (12-4 MMA, 1-0 UFC) was sitting at 142 pounds, coming off an Invicta FC win in July, with no UFC contract in place. But then came the call to fill in for Andrea Lee against Kalindra Faria (18-6-1 MMA, 0-1 UFC) at UFC 216. Now, Borella has not only added a win to her octagon record – it was a first-round submission, in a pay-per-view main-card slot, against a more than 2-1 favorite in Las Vegas’ T-Mobile Arena.

Borella’s first UFC step was simply a “dream come true.” But after an emotional rollercoaster that also involved a weight cut down to the flyweight’s 125-pound limit, she understandably wants to let things sink in before plotting the next ones.

“I’m going to live today and take it little by little,” Borella said after Saturday’s UFC 216 bout.

The 31-year-old flyweight, who’d been previously riding a five-fight winning streak capped off by a split call over Milena Dudieva at Invicta FC 24, knew her manager had been working toward getting her a UFC contract. But as it usually happens with these things, it’s never a done deal until it is.

Borella, in fact, didn’t even know until the Monday or Tuesday prior to the fight her UFC 216 spot was on the main card. Not that it would have mattered, anyway. While she understands the placement is a bigger deal, she simply received an opportunity and took it.

Once that happened, though, Borella and her team had some serious cramming to do. The preparation time might not have been ideal – but the rear-naked choke that came from it certainly was.

“My training camp was just a week,” Borella said. “So I was working on my head and also on the technique for this fight. Basically, that’s exactly the result that we were looking for.”

To hear from Borella, check out the video above.

And for complete coverage of UFC 216, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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Police waiting to hear from UFC vet Rony Jason after alleged assault of woman caught on tape

Brazilian police are expecting to hear from Rony Jason after videos of what appears to be the UFC featherweight allegedly assaulting a woman started circulating online.

According to a report from Brazilian news outlet G1.com, the woman shown in the videos is Jason’s sister. The outlet spoke to the chief of the local Women’s Protection Police Precinct, Janaina Siebra, who said police have seen the images and are taking “appropriate measures. However, to not disrupt the investigations, she didn’t say what those measures are.

The alleged assault took place in the city of Quixada this past Saturday after a party. Two videos of the Oct. 7 incident have surfaced since. The first, which is 13 seconds long, shows what appears to be Jason having to be pulled away by bystanders after striking the downed woman. The second one lasts three seconds and shows him pointing and yelling at her (via Twitter):

Siebra said the alleged assault is being looked into as intentional bodily harm under Brazil’s “Maria da Penha” law, designed to protect victims of domestic and family abuse. The alleged victim, the report says, so far hasn’t pressed charges. But, in this case, that doesn’t stop investigations from going forward.

“We were made aware (of it) through social media, and we’ve notified the victim,” Siebra said. “Since it’s a public action, the investigation doesn’t depend on the victim’s will. She didn’t reach out to the precinct. The precinct reached out to the victim to investigate the fact.”

The police did not say if they’d located Jason, but did say he’s expected to give a statement “soon.” The report also said there was no information about his sister’s health conditions.

After becoming the 145-pound winner of “The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil,” Jason has fought another eight times under the UFC banner. His octagon run, however, hasn’t exactly been smooth. Other than a nine-month suspension after testing positive for a diuretic after a UFC Fight Night 67 encounter with Damon Jackson, Jason was also suspended for 30 days due to a backstage outburst after a knockout loss to Jeremy Stephens.

Although Jason submitted Jackson, the result was overturned. That means Jason hasn’t had an official win since March 2014, when he knocked out Steven Siler. He’s currently on a two-fight skid after dropping unanimous decisions to Dennis Bermudez and Jeremy Kennedy.

UFC officials did not respond to an MMAjunkie request for comment.

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

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Source: MMA Junkie

UFC champ Daniel Cormier apologizes to Anthony Johnson: 'The reality is, I was wrong'

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It’s not exactly rare for a fighter to have some words with past or future opponents. Apologies, though, don’t come around that often.

So there’s something refreshing about UFC light-heavyweight champ Daniel Cormier’s willingness to admit he was wrong, during a recent MMAjunkie Radio appearance, in the way he went about former title challenger Anthony Johnson.

Cormier (19-1-1 MMA, 8-1-1 UFC) and Johnson (22-6 MMA, 13-6 UFC) met twice in the octagon, at UFC 187 and UFC 210. Other than the fact both fights ended in rear-naked-choke submission wins by Cormier, they had in common somewhat respectful lead-ups. Things, however, turned sour recently – when Cormier took issue (via “Talk and Talker”) with Johnson’s possible return from retirement and buddy-buddy attitude with former 205-pound champ Jon Jones prior to the UFC 214 encounter between Cormier and Jones.

Johnson, who announced he was hanging up his gloves immediately after their UFC 210 encounter, didn’t take too kindly to being called “(expletive) soft” on Cormier’s podcast. So he responded to the “crybaby” champ on Facebook:

To which Cormier fired back. (via Twitter)

After speaking to other people, though, Cormier realized he was off base. While there’s a side of him that’s measured on his words and approach, Cormier said, there’s also the ultra competitive side, which comes out swinging when he feels disrespected in any way.

That, the champ explained, is what we got in this whole Johnson ordeal. But that doesn’t make it right.

“After Rumble put that post up, I tweeted him,” Cormier told MMAjunkie Radio. “But then I texted him. Because I was mad. Like, ‘I’m mad. I want to fight.’ The reality is, I texted him, and I said some things that weren’t very cool. But then I was talking to somebody that means a lot to me and they said, ‘Why are you so mad? You started it. You said stuff. And you’re mad at him.’

“So the reality is, I was wrong. I should not have called him soft. But I thought that I didn’t like the action, but why do I expect so much out of him? Why do I expect him to not be able to be respectful and still compete at the highest level of the sport?

“So I walk it back a little bit. I was wrong. I shouldn’t have said anything about him being soft. Everybody does not have to view competition like I do. And I think that’s why – if he wants to be friends with (Jones) and be nice and cordial, then fine. What does that matter to me?”

In his post, Johnson joked about the lack of logic in Cormier’s thinking that he could have given Jones any advice on how to beat him; after all, Cormier did beat Johnson twice. And Cormier, now, agrees.

Mostly, though, Cormier said he was peeved by seeing his two two-time opponents hugging and being playful with each other – simply because that’s something that he wouldn’t do due to his competitive nature. But he, with a hand from his wife, also realizes that not everyone has to go about things the same way he does.

“I was wrong,” Cormier said. “It took me talking to Ali Abdelaziz (Johnson’s manager) of all people. Ali was like, ‘You guys are like – what the hell?’ He was right. But I talked to somebody last night. And my wife, she goes, ‘I get it. You’re a man. You’re from Louisiana. You don’t like to be disrespected. So when you feel a challenge, you go at it head-on.’

“But she goes, ‘You were wrong. You didn’t have to say that about him in the first place. What was the point? You won both fights.’ But, again, it’s just me looking at competition a certain way. And I guess just expecting people to do it too. And it really doesn’t have to be that way.”

Cormier’s issue with Johnson, however, wasn’t only with the Jones situation – but rather with the former challenger’s quite unexpected announcement that he would be leaving MMA to pursue other endeavors after the loss to Cormier. Which, again, the champ now sees is not his place to judge.

“I think the bigger issue for me was just not even the thing with Jones; it was like, ‘Man, I wish you would have just thought about it a little more before he made that decision,’” Cormier said. “Look, I said it before: I hope he comes back. Because he should be fighting. He’s that good. But it was just so quick.

“It just seemed like he should have taken a little more time in regards to making that decision, but who am I to pick when he retires? I’ve just got a different way of viewing stuff, man. I guess that’s why I am who I am.”

While Johnson has yet to formally announce anything on that end, his manager recently told “The MMA Hour” that a comeback was being discussed – this time, at heavyweight. Cormier, on his end, thinks a “Rumble” comeback is imminent. And he wants to make amends.

“I do believe he’ll fight again,” Cormier said. “So I’ve got to talk to ‘Rumble.’ I need to talk to ‘Rumble’ and try to either apologize or make it right in some way, shape or form.”

It’s unclear whether Cormier has since reached out directly to Johnson. But, in the meantime, the champ used the MMAjunkie Radio stage to get his message out there.

“The reality is, I was wrong,” Cormier said. “Not everybody should view competition like I do. So to Anthony Johnson, I apologize. I should not have said that. I should not have said that. I should not have said that. And because I said it, I have to truly expect him to respond. And he did.

“And because he responded, I should not try to fight him in the streets of Las Vegas. I’ve got to be better than that.”

To hear from Cormier, 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 and producer Brian “Goze” Garcia. For more information or to download past episodes, go to www.mmajunkie.com/radio.

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