Cris Cyborg: UFC 219 title fight vs. Holly Holm could go beyond just stand-up

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On paper, the UFC 219 headliner between Cris Cyborg and Holly Holm offers a clear stylistic narrative.

Champ Cyborg (18-1 MMA, 3-0 UFC), who was most recently seen conquering the UFC’s women’s featherweight belt at UFC 214, has used her notorious, hyper-aggressive muay Thai to knock out her three UFC opponents and 13 of the 16 that came before.

Former 135-pound champ Holm’s (11-3 MMA, 4-3 UFC) knockout rate in MMA is slightly more modest – eight in total. But Holm, who’s also an ex-kickboxer, conquered multiple titles in boxing throughout a decade-long career in which she lost just twice.

What is apparently a striker vs. striker battle, though, might just be the chance for Cyborg to shine in lesser-known aspects of her game.

“She’s had a lot of experience in boxing. She had more than 300 rounds,” Cyborg told MMAjunkie ahead of the Dec. 30 headliner, which airs on pay-per-view from T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. “And she had a lot of sparring time. I think it’s going to be a great fight. I think she’s gonna have a lot of things to challenge myself. And it’s MMA.

“Maybe this fight, I can show (another) Cyborg, too. Not just in the stand-up, (but on) the ground, and then takedown and submit. Let’s see.”

A submission win would be the first for Cyborg. The only time one of her fights ended that way was, incidentally, her first and sole MMA loss. That was over 12 years ago. Holm, too, never has won a fight via submission – though it was a choke, by Miesha Tate, that ended Holm’s short 135-pound reign.

In any case, this could always just be a decoy. Cyborg, who’s recruited some high-level assistance in multiple-time boxing champion Cecilia Braekhus, has talked about her desire to try her hand at boxing. Outworking someone with Holm’s credentials on the feet would certainly be a nice way of setting that in motion.

Few would disagree this was the match to make. Amid Cyborg’s somewhat slim pickings in the UFC, a former champion who permanently left her mark as the first person to defeat Ronda Rousey – via knockout, no less – is certainly a good call.

There’s also the fact that, this time, Cyborg won’t be carrying a considerable size advantage as she goes up against a highly technical striker who narrowly lost to Germaine de Randamie in a bid for the UFC’s inaugural 145-pound belt (de Randamie was stripped of the title shortly after, due to her refusal to fight Cyborg).

Will that translate to numbers, though?

Cyborg, who’s fought tooth and nail to claim her place among the UFC’s hot commodities, is optimistic.

“I think I’ve already proven I can be a draw,” Cyborg said. “I think people have really (been following me) for a long time. And, after the opportunity I had to fight at 140 in Brazil. I think people who didn’t know Cyborg just met me there.

“Let’s see. December, I think, will be an amazing time, an amazing match. I think people are going to be very excited to buy the pay-per-view and watch me and Holly.”

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

And for more on UFC 219, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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Source: MMA Junkie

UFC's Joseph Benavidez on initial pain, isolation, helplessness of injury recovery: 'I cried every day'

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Scrolling through Joseph Benavidez’s Instagram account, you’ll see a few things: pictures of him with wife Megan Olivi, snapshots of movies, and cute selfies with their dog, Benny.

What you won’t see are too many pictures of his recovering knee.

That doesn’t mean that the two-time UFC flyweight title challenger isn’t going to the UFC Performance Institute every day. Or that he isn’t training. Or that he isn’t powering through every rough stage of rehabilitation after surgically repairing a torn ACL.

In the more than six months that have passed since Benavidez announced that an injury had forced him out of a scheduled bout with Ben Nguyen, he’s done all those things.

We just haven’t since much of it.

“It was only me going through it, and that’s the way I thought about it,” Benavidez told MMAjunkie Radio. “Like, no one else is going to care. That’s why I’m not like, ‘Hey guys, I’ll be back soon. Check it out. I just bent my leg to 30 degrees or whatever.’ In this sport, there’s such a short memory. There’s always something happening. Someone getting injured, a fight that weekend.

“I’m just like, ‘People are not even going to know I’m injured by the time nine or 10 months comes. And I’m going to win, and I’m going to fight. So they’re not even going to remember that, anyway. So I’m not going to start with everybody else, so I’m going through it myself.’”

For those interested in updates of his recovery, though, Benavidez will gladly give them.

“It’s coming along,” Benavidez said. “You can get places faster banding and lateral and stuff. But it takes a certain amount of time for the tendons and everything to heal properly. I’m like at a six-, six-and-a-half-month mark right now. I’m training and stuff. Nothing live – anything where an injury can happen.

“Just like you would a week before a fight or something. Something you would do where you couldn’t get injured? That’s kind what I’m doing. Going through the mitts, the motions, the drills and stuff.

“I’m getting there. Hopefully shooting for a March, April return next year.”

Benavidez has been “good” for months now. But that’s after what often felt like a very slow process that had him relying heavily on others for basic things. For two months, he had to use at least one crutch. He was stuck with an ankle-to-hip cast. His wife, who’s also a host and reporter for the UFC, had to skip trips to help him.

For the first week, Benavidez had to sleep in the couch because couldn’t even go up the stairs in his home. After that, he could go up slowly, with Olivi’s help, to do basic things like taking showers.

“It was miserable, of course,” Benavidez said. “And I know Megan wouldn’t be doing anything else, but she was in there helping me shower, you know. I cried every day. On my couch, like – it was just terrible to have something taken away from you like that.

“I would cry all the time, and Megan would go down and sleep with me on the couch because I couldn’t go up the stairs. And I’d have to wake her up because I was just crying. Just breaking down and just kind of – I don’t know. It was just a long road. And then the pain and everything as well. There were times when I was crying naked with my dog on my lap.”

With time, it got better. Eventually, Benavidez could walk. Then he could drive. And now, possibly three or four months away from an octagon return, the flyweight is looking ahead to what’s currently an interesting division.

Since Benavidez had to withdraw from his UFC Fight Night 110 meeting with Nguyen, 125-pound kingpin Demetrious Johnson has cruised past yet another challenger at UFC 216, pulling off a crazy submission win over Ray Borg to break Anderson Silva’s previous record of 10 consecutive title defenses.

Benavidez, who’s suffered two losses to Johnson in the past, has made no secret of his desire for a third stab at the belt. And, considering he’s coming off six straight victories, the No. 2 fighter in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA flyweight rankings isn’t exactly crazy to feel that way.

If it does come to fruition, however, that shot might involve peculiar circumstances. While nothing’s been officially announced, there’s a strong push to make Johnson’s (27-2-1 MMA, 15-1-1 UFC) next fight against bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw (15-3 MMA, 11-3 UFC) – a matchup that Benavidez thinks is “awesome.”

The specifics of that are also up in the air. Would it be at flyweight? Bantamweight? Somewhere in between? But if it ends up being Dillashaw going down to the 125-pound division, and becoming a two-division champ in the process, that could lead to Benavidez going up against a former Team Alpha Male stablemate and friend.

When talks of a Johnson-Dillashaw fight first started, Benavidez figured he’d have time to see the whole thing unfold. But Johnson had other plans. And Benavidez was always aware, as small as it was, as much as he knew both ex-teammates would tried to get around it, of the possibility of fighting Dillashaw.

Now that it seems more real than never?

“I’ll fight the best guy in my weight,” Benavidez said.

To hear more from Benavidez, 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.

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Before UFC-debut win, Sean O'Malley went through DWCS 2 camp with concussion

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At the second Dana White’s Contender Series event, Sean O’Malley impressed with a flashy striking display that culminated in a first-round finish of Alfred Khashakyan.

The win, as we found out later that night, was impressive enough to catch the UFC president’s eye. At 22 and with an unblemished eight-fight record at the time, O’Malley was the only fighter to come out of the July 18 UFC Fight Pass event with a UFC contract and some serious hype behind him.

But what ended as a perfect night started as anything but.

“That Contender Series fight, I couldn’t spar,” O’Malley recently told MMAjunkie Radio. “That was the worst training camp I’ve ever had for any fight. I woke up that morning, and I was like, ‘(Expletive), man. Not feeling it.’ Just because I hadn’t been sparring hard. I wasn’t able to practice.

“I haven’t said anything about it, but I had a bad concussion that whole fight camp. I woke up that morning, I had headaches. I was like, ‘(Expletive).’ I was just thinking I had to go in there and scrap and just make it ugly – just do whatever I had to do to win it.”

Who knew having a lousy camp could end up working out so well?

Fortunately for O’Malley (9-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC), things were different ahead of his recent UFC debut. In the months that elapsed between his DWCS bout and his TUF 26 Finale meeting with Terrion Ware (17-7 MMA, 0-2 UFC) on Dec. 1, O’Malley got to better every bit of his MMA game, throughout a camp in which he was confident.

We got to see the result of that in the octagon. While it wasn’t an entirely spotless performance – O’Malley’s slower second round cost him on all three judges’ scorecards for that frame – he showcased style and heart as he dug deep against a gritty opponent in a co-headlining affair. O’Malley took a unanimous-decision nod for his efforts.

Overall, O’Malley was happy with his display against a a “tough-as-(expletive)” opponent. Even as he stepped off the gas pedal in the second frame, “Sugar” was confident that his preparation would translate to a second wind when he came back for the last one. He never gave up on the finish, even though Ware wouldn’t let him have it, and ultimately got the win and the attention.

By all accounts, it was one solid way to kick off a UFC run. But for O’Malley, who’d finished seven of the eight opponents who came before, something was still missing.

“I was just upset I didn’t get the finish,” O’Malley said. “It just doesn’t feel right.”

A 23-year-old with an unbeaten record, a creative striking style and finish-driven mentality, one would assume, shouldn’t have too much trouble getting chances to right that wrong. When the next opportunity will take place, however, is to be determined.

With a few minor injuries to tend to right now, he’s looking at at least a few months of rest. He has no specific opponents in mind, but UFC 222, set for March 3 in Las Vegas, seems like a good option.

However it turns out, O’Malley wants to make the most of 2018.

“I definitely want to fight three or four times next year, as well,” O’Malley said. “I had four fights this year, so as long as I’m healthy, I want to fight.”

For complete coverage of The Ultimate Fighter 26 Finale, check out the UFC Events 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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Scott Holtzman: I owe ref Mike Beltran a beer after 'choice words' about weird standups

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FRESNO, Calif. – Scott Holtzman had his reasons to be upset at referee Mike Beltran on Saturday. But in hindsight, the fighter thinks he could have gone about it a different way.

Holtzman (11-2 MMA, 4-2 UFC) walked out of UFC Fight Night 123 with a clean sweep on the judges’ scorecards. Officially, getting the victory meant overcoming Darrel Horcher (13-3 MMA, 1-2 UFC), but there was someone else in that cage who didn’t seem to be making things much easier for the lightweight.

It was clear during the bout that Holtzman wasn’t very happy with the times Beltran stood up the fighters. And he wasn’t alone. Twitter’s choice of words for the standups went anywhere from “bizarre” to “bogus,” but the gist of it was pretty much the same.

A sampling:

Holtzman apparently wasn’t entirely off-base. But, still, he said he perhaps could have taken a classier route to the whole thing.

“I owe Mike a beer, I think,” Holtzman said. “I gave him the business a couple of times – gave him some choice words. You get caught up in the heat of the moment. But, man, he’s telling us to work on the ground. I’m hitting the guy in the face. I don’t know what else he wants us to do.

“If I’m dominant, if I can hold him and hit him at the same time. That’s called work to me. That’s called dominating. And then that one time that I stepped into mount, and he already had his mind made up that he was going to stand us up.

“I gave him the business that time and told him he messed up. I told him after the fight too. I shouldn’t have said some of that. You don’t want to embarrass the referee, and I’ll keep some of that stuff between he and I. But I got caught up in the heat of the moment, and I have to apologize to him for that.”

It may not have been all smooth sailing, but Holtzman managed. He’s now two fights removed from his last loss, a decision to Josh Emmet at UFC on FOX 22 last December, and he managed to put together his first winning streak since joining the UFC in 2015.

Holtzman has needed the judges’ scorecards in his past five fights – wins and losses included. Even his sole finish in the octagon – a submission win over Tony Christodoulou in Holtzman’s debut – didn’t happen until the second half of the final round. So now that he’s got some momentum, it’s time for another goal.

“We need to get some finishes, man,” Holtzman said. “It’s no secret. I’m a smart guy. I know what it takes. So they’re coming, I promise.”

For Holtzman, a good place to start would be UFC on FOX 27, set for Jan. 27 at Spectrum Center in Charlotte, N.C. As for possible competition, Holtzman doesn’t have any outlandish requests. In fact, he’s heard that Charlotte’s own Jordan Rinaldi, who’s 1-1 in the UFC after a submission win in August, needs a dancing partner.

“That’s a home town fight for me,” Holtzman said. “If he needs an opponent, let’s get in there and throw some leather, baby.”

To hear from Holtzman, check out the video above.

And for complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 123, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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Alex Perez wasn't happy to have his UFC-Fresno bout moved to 135: 'At least make it a catchweight'

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FRESNO, Calif. – UFC newcomer Alex Perez made sure to enter his new home on the right foot after cruising past Carls John de Tomas en route to a second-round choke at UFC Fight Night 123.

As far as coming out victorious of the bantamweight bout in his backyard goes, Perez (19-4 MMA, 1-0 UFC) is on cloud nine. But here’s the thing: Perez is a flyweight. And, after taking steps to make sure he hit the 125-pound mark on the scale, that’s the division in which he expected to meet de Tomas (8-2 MMA, 0-2 UFC) on Saturday.

On Thursday, though, that changed. Upon hearing of de Tomas’ issues getting the weight down, the UFC and the California State Athletic Commission (CSAC) thought it would be best to move the fight up a class. After Perez signed off on it, the decision was made official.

Perez said he was basically given two options: “Either fight, or don’t get paid.” And considering a 10-week camp had gone into it, he went with the first choice. But he wasn’t exactly happy about it.

“I was kind of mad,” Perez told MMAjunkie backstage at Save Mart Center in Fresno, Calif. “ CSAC doesn’t know how much it costs to get a nutritionist. I pay a nutritionist to help me get down the weight. That’s money out of my pocket. And then to tell me the week of that he can’t make it? They need to do a better job at checking.

“I came in at at 139 (pounds). The morning they told me, I was 137. An 11-pound cut to 125 does nothing – still eating three to four times a day, drinking a gallon, a gallon-and-a-half of water. They’re punishing the guy that did their job, and I felt like it was unfair. I didn’t get no percentage to move to a weight class up. He came in a lot bigger than me. I came in at 143, (and) we ate a lot last night.”

This year, the CSAC approved a 10-point plan that aims to discourage extreme weigh-cutting. This includes monitoring the fighters’ weight ahead of fight week.

When he confirmed the division switch to MMAjunkie, UFC Vice President of Athlete Health and Performance Jeff Novitzky said both the promotion and the commission felt it was “in the best interest of the athletes.”

Novitzky didn’t disclose the weight de Tomas was by the time they made the call. It was the fighter’s second time dealing with weight issues: in June, he came in at 131 pounds for a UFC Fight Night 111 flyweight meeting.

The idea of the plan is, of course, to preserve the fighters’ safety. But Perez said that there was one person whose health didn’t seem to have been taken into account on Saturday.

“It felt like they weren’t worried about my safety,” Perez said. “They were worried about the other guy’s safety, but they weren’t worried about my safety. I could have got really hurt if the guy were to connect or something. He might have come in above 160. Who knows? …

“I don’t think it was fair. At least make it a catchweight. I did my work outside of camp, and I got down. It’s not my fault that he got sick. Whatever happened on him, that’s on him. I didn’t get nothing out of it. The guy actually got something out of it: He actually got to be healthy.”

In any case, the size difference was no issue when Perez sunk in the fight-ending D’Arce choke. At 25, he continued to impress after the submission that caught the UFC rresident’s eye at Dana White’s Contender Series 5 back in August.

All in all, fight-week stress aside, Perez is in a good place.

“It’s amazing,” Perez said. “It was destined to be. I got signed, also them having a show in Fresno. It couldn’t be any better.”

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

And for more on UFC Fight Night 123, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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UFC-Fresno's Benito Lopez sorry about weigh-in shove but plans to appeal CSAC fine

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FRESNO, Calif. – Benito Lopez is sorry for shoving Albert Morales during weigh-ins for their UFC Fight Night 123 encounter, but he will try to appeal the penalty he got for it.

Lopez (9-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC) earned a unanimous-decision victory over Morales (7-3-1 MMA, 1-3-1 UFC) when the two met inside the cage on Saturday. But that was only the last chapter of a feud that Lopez said started when they were first set to fight, about two years ago. A concussion forced Lopez out of the bout, but the rivalry lingered.

Things came to a boiling point on Friday, when a scream by Morales led to a push by Lopez. The physical reaction got Lopez a 10 percent fine of his $10,000 show money ($1,000), which the California State Athletic Commission (CSAC) will keep.

Lopez acknowledges his role on the scuffle, but he’s not about to simply take the punishment.

“Honestly, it was probably my fault for pushing him,” Lopez said after the FS1-televised main-card bout at Save Mart Center in Fresno, Calif. “But he did scream in my face, when we were face to face. It really pissed me off. We already had bad blood, so it is what it is.

“Yeah, it’s unfortunate. It sucks. On social media it kind of went a little viral, and all the MMA sites and all the fans have my back on it. And we’re going to try to appeal it and see what happens. I’m sorry, California State Athletic Commission for doing that. It won’t happen again.”

Here’s the shove (via Twitter):

As for the bad blood with “The Warrior”? It seems slugging it out for three rounds in a battle that left Lopez with an apparently broken nose is the type of thing that can really bring people together.

“It’s like, how can you (share) blood sweat and tears with someone, and go to war, and still be mad?” Lopez said. “I felt his best, and he felt my best. Nothing but respect for him. He’s a true warrior. His nickname does him justice.”

Here’s the post-fight embrace (via Twitter):

Other than burying a beef, Lopez did something else on Saturday: He added a UFC win to his still-unbeaten record. And doing it after a Dana White’s Contender Series 7 win, with an exciting back-and-forth battle, is certainly one way to get your name out there.

But while his two most high-profile wins yet came from decisions, Lopez said not to get too used to that.

“I like to go in there and knock someone out in the first 10 seconds,” Lopez said. “That’s the kind of fights I like to be in. It didn’t go that way. It was a war. It is what it is. I’m confident I’ll be back stronger than ever and I’ll get back to my finishing ways.”

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

And for complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 123, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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Why UFC-Fresno winner Eryk Anders wants to fight Lyoto Machida on ex-champ's turf

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FRESNO, Calif. – Eryk Anders is only two fights into his UFC career, but he’s already aiming high.

After earning a unanimous-decision win over Markus Perez (9-1 MMA, 0-1 UFC) in a battle of unbeaten middleweights on Saturday at UFC Fight Night 123, Anders (10-0 MMA, 2-0 UFC) used his time on the mic to ask for a fight with former UFC light heavyweight champion and onetime 185-pound title challenger Lyoto Machida (22-8 MMA, 14-8 UFC).

Backstage, Anders detailed why he not only wants to fight “The Dragon” – but would like to do so on the ex-champ’s turf.

“He has a very similar style to Markus’,” Anders said after the FS1-televised main-card bout at Save Mart Center in Fresno, Calif. “(He’s) probably a little bit more precise with the strikes. Obviously, much more experienced. A former titleholder. I love the hostile environment. There’s no more hostile place on Earth, I feel like, than in the cage, in a ring, with a Brazilian in Brazil.

Lyoto Machida

“Especially a guy that’s held in such high regard as Lyoto Machida. He’s a little bit better than Markus Perez, and I think I can get there and find that home on that chin.”

While it’s a callout that not many would expect, it was a smart one for the surging Anders, especially considering the UFC’s next Brazilian foray, set for Feb. 3 in Belem do Para, takes place in the city that Machida called home for most his life.

It remains to be seen if now-middleweight Machida, who suffered losses to Luke Rockhold, Yoel Romero and Derek Brunson in his past three fights, will want to take on a hungry up-and-comer almost a decade his junior in Anders. But “The Dragon” recently said he’s neither retiring nor ruling out the Feb. 3 card.

Meanwhile, Anders is set to go to Brazil with his wife to relax after what’s been quite a successful few months. Anders was last seen at UFC on FOX 25 July, when a knockout win over now-retired Rafael Natal guaranteed some eyeballs toward the former Alabama football player.

Despite his dominance, Anders couldn’t get the first-round finish that he wanted on Saturday. That, Anders said, probably had something to do with his own display in the opening frame, in which he caught himself “headhunting” instead of picking his shots.

On the other hand, by staying in there for three rounds, at least Anders was able to showcase other aspects of his game.

“I’m well-prepared, well-conditioned and well-coached,” Anders said. “So, no matter where the fight takes place, whether I’m on my back as I was in the first round – he had that thing, I think it was the D’Arce or the Anaconda, sunk in a little bit. I was able to fight out of it.

“I’ve got great training partners who try to choke me out all the time, so no matter where the fight takes place, I’m well-prepared, and I’m able to slow it down. And find a way to get out of the position and get a dominant position.”

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

And for complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 123, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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Source: MMA Junkie

Brian Ortega's nasty choke wasn't too shabby considering 'my whole life, I thought I sucked'

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FRESNO, Calif. – On Friday, on the eve of Brian Ortega’s headlining affair opposite fellow featherweight contender Cub Swanson, he had an interesting chat in an elevator.

“They were like, ‘Brian is probably too stupid to go to the ground. He’s going to try to bang,’” Ortega said.

The tone, Ortega explained, was playful. Still, it stuck with him.

“I was like, ‘Hmm. I’m not stupid. I just like to bang,’” Ortega said with a laugh. “But I realized (Swanson) wasn’t trying to bang. So I was like, ‘If he’s not trying to bang, then let me take full advantage of it and go to my forte, which is jiu-jitsu.”

And what a forte that is. After a near-miss in the first round against a game-ready Swanson (25-8 MMA, 10-4 UFC), Ortega (13-0 MMA, 5-0 UFC) capped off Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 123 event at Save Mart Center in Fresno, Calif., with a beautiful guillotine choke. His efforts earned him two $50,000 fight-night bonuses – for both “Fight of the Night” and “Performance of the Night.”

It was the third submission in a UFC run consisting only of finishes. But this one comes with some added flair: Not only was it against a battle-tested veteran, but it was a brilliantly executed move that required a slick grip readjustment. The finish inspired a frenzy in the MMA community.

Clearly, after 14 years of Brazilian jiu-jitsu, 26-year-old black belt Ortega knows his way with chokes – even if it took being on the other end of the submssions by the likes of Rener Gracie to get there.

“You don’t realize, because I’m getting beat up all the time,” Ortega said. “My whole life, I thought I sucked. And then I get in here and I grapple other people, and I’m like, ‘I’m actually good.’ So it feels good. I’ve been getting choked out by these guys for so long, I’m just used to another caliber of jiu-jitsu.”

After a high-profile win, the perennial dark horse has certainly launched himself into the vicinity of the title picture. And he’d be happy to get that. As he said in the octagon, though, Ortega is not in the business of jumping in line. The rightful challenger, he understands, is Frankie Edgar, who withdrew from a title meeting with champ Max Holloway at UFC 218.

If it’s possible to get the winner of that, Ortega said, than that would be fine with him. But if not?

“I’m just going to keep doing what I’ve been doing,” Ortega said. “I’m blessed and happy to be here.”

While he awaits his next fight, though, Ortega will most likely continue to focus on the work that he discussed with UFC President Dana White immediately after his fight (via Twitter):

“I’ve been saying, I really want to help people out,” Ortega said. “I want to use this light – to not just have it on me. They invested a lot of money to promote me and everything. And now that my name is getting out there, I want to help people out. That’s my main thing. I love kids. I love helping kids out. I’m not the perfect person, but I have the perfect heart, I feel, when it comes to helping people. …

“There’s too much negativity going on in the world, and I don’t just want to talk about, ‘Hey, let’s make the world a better place.’ I want to be the change that you want to see in the world. I’ve been there; I’ve done it. I’ve been doing charity work since I was 20 years old, and now that I’m on a huge platform, maybe I can use this opportunity to help as many people as I can.”

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

And for complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 123, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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Source: MMA Junkie

Invicta FC 26 results: Jennifer Maia retains belt with win over game Agnieszka Niedzwiedz

Agnieszka Niedzwiedz didn’t make it easy, but there was simply no getting rid of 125-pound champion Jennifer Maia in the headlining affair of Friday’s Invicta FC 26.

It wasn’t all smooth sailing for Maia (15-4-1), who was knocked down a couple of times by a perpetually unbothered Niedzwiedz (10-1). But, while Niedzwiedz herself stayed in the fight until the final bell, Maia was ultimately the fresher fighter as the fight advanced into the championship rounds. Maia’s ability to recover from danger and the late rally, paired with her efficient striking, did the trick.

With across-the-board 49-46, 49-46 and 49-46 scores, Maia defended the 125-pound title she’s held since 2016. As a bonus, she had her post-fight interviewed translated by none other than the UFC women’s bantamweight champ Amanda Nunes.

Poland’s Niedzwiedz, in turn, suffered the first loss of her pro career at only 22. The headliner streamed live on UFC Fight Pass from Scottish Rite Temple in Kansas City, Mo.

The first round saw Niedzwiedz going in assertively with three and four-strike combos, while Maia seemed more interested in keeping the distance. The challenger had more volume, but the champion responded and countered accordingly. Maia was the first one to connect a somewhat significant blow in a technical round, but Niedzwiedz turned the tables later on with a right hand that knocked down Maia. Niedzwiedz followed her to the ground but a finish didn’t materialize.

Niedzwiedz, once more, rocked Maia early in Round 2. Maia, however, was able to keep it together long enough to drive the challenger to the fence. There, Maia clinched and kept just enough pressure to recover. Niedzwiedz threw knees and angled for a takedown but didn’t land anything. As they broke off, strikes were thrown on both ends toward the center of the cage. Despite the early scare, Maia looked alert. The champ peppered in some solid punches, but Niedzwiedz remained stone cold as she ate the damage. The round ended with the two fighters clinched against the fence – Maia, however, was the one in control.

Maia pushed the pace to start off Round 3, landing the harder shots on a still-game Niedzwiedz. The Polish challenger’s judo background paid off almost three minutes into it as she took Maia down and landed in favorable position. Maia managed to restore guard but, despite her efforts to keep Niedzwiedz close, a few elbows made their way to her face. Niedzwiedz, however, eventually relented, and the two went back to their feet.

The fourth round took place mostly with uneventful clinch battles against the cage. While they took turns, and both landed some blows in the brief moments they broke away, Maia controlled most of the action. Niedzwiedz came out aggressively in the final frame, which saw the two fighters once more engaged in overall balanced striking exchanges in the center of the cage. Maia looked fresher and landed the more damaging blows, but Niedzwiedz pressed on.

Both fighters looked impressively active at the end of a balanced 25-minute match – which they sealed with a hug. Niedzwiedz didn’t take the win but certainly earned some serious respect by hanging tough in one grind of a fight.

Full Invicta 26 results:

  • Champ Jennifer Maia def. Agnieszka Niedzwiedz via unanimous decision (49-46, 49-46, 49-46) – to retain flyweight title
  • Mackenzie Dern def. Kaline Medeiros via submission (armbar) – Round 3, 4:45
  • Janaisa Morandin def. Kinberly Novaes via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27 and 30-27)
  • Vanessa Porto def. Milana Dudieva via TKO (strikes) – Round 3, 3:02
  • Virna Jandiroba def. Amy Montenegro via submission (armbar) – Round 1, 2:50
  • Amber Brown def. Tessa Simpson via submission (armbar) – Round 1, 0:50
  • Karina Rodriguez def. Christine Ferea via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
  • Kay Hansen def.  Emilee Prince via submission (armbar) – Round 1, 1:23

For more on Invicta FC 26, check out the MMA Events section of the site.

Filed under: News
Source: MMA Junkie

Invicta FC 26 results: Mackenzie Dern shows improved striking en route to submission win

If Mackenzie Dern had any jitters ahead of her Invicta FC debut, it didn’t show in her handling of seasoned opponent Kaline Medeiros.

While it was her well known jiu-jitsu that ultimately sealed the deal in the Invicta FC 26 co-headliner, Dern (5-0) showed she wasn’t afraid to keep the fight standing. It wasn’t flawless, as Dern herself admitted, but the strides made by the undefeated prospect in her striking were once again on display as she pushed around Medeiros (8-6) at Scottish Rite Temple in Kansas City, Mo.

After rocking Medeiros a couple of times, Dern found the fight-ending armbar in the third round of the strawweight bout, which streamed on UFC Fight Pass. It was the third submission win of the jiu-jitsu expert’s rapidly rising pro career. In October, Dern choked out Mandy Polk at LFA 24 after rocking her with strikes.

Dern and Medeiros didn’t waste much time studying each other, engaging in some striking early in Round 1. Dern threw low kicks and haymakers with gusto, while Medeiros, more tentative, mostly avoided the strikes and picked her shots. Medeiros slammed Dern’s back to the ground but didn’t seem particularly interested in following Dern.

After the first half of the frame, Dern landed a strong punch that had Medeiros clearly disoriented. A high kick by Dern also made its way to a slightly disgruntled Medeiros later in the round.

Dern remained aggressive early in Round 2, but that also exposed her to some counters. Overall, the second frame involved more clinch work. After controlling Dern against the cage, Medeiros faced a dilemma: She got the takedown, but that led to her being on the ground with Dern. The grappling expert landed in an unfavorable position but was quick to make the necessary adjustments. Dern’s chase for Medeiros’ leg didn’t pan out, but things didn’t get much better for Medeiros after that as Dern was soon in full mount, raining down the punishment. By the final seconds, Medeiros was turtled up, barely defending herself.

Dern landed yet another solid punch to start Round 3, but Medeiros was able to annul her offense as she pressed Dern against the cage. Dern didn’t surrender looking for takedowns but couldn’t succeed. As the two broke up, Medeiros got a solid punch in, but nothing that deterred Dern. Once again, the fighters were pressed against the cage, though this time Medeiros was unable to resist the takedown. Dern almost was immediately in full mount, while Medeiros desperately held on to her head. Dern moved quickly, grabbing ahold of Medeiros’ arm to lock in the finish.

After tapping at the 4:45 mark of Round 3, Medeiros is on a two-fight skid that includes a decision loss to ex-champ Angela Hill.

Official Invicta FC 26 results include:

  • Champ Jennifer Maia vs. Agnieszka Niedzwiedz – for flyweight title
  • Mackenzie Dern def. Kaline Medeiros via submission (armbar) – Round 3, 4:45
  • Janaisa Morandin def. Kinberly Novaes via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27 and 30-27)
  • Vanessa Porto def. Milana Dudieva via TKO (strikes) – Round 3, 3:02
  • Virna Jandiroba def. Amy Montenegro via submission (armbar) – Round 1, 2:50
  • Amber Brown def. Tessa Simpson via submission (armbar) – Round 1, 0:50
  • Karina Rodriguez def. Christine Ferea via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
  • Kay Hansen def.  Emilee Prince via submission (armbar) – Round 1, 1:23

For more on Invicta FC 26, check out the MMA Events section of the site.

Filed under: Featured, News
Source: MMA Junkie