Bellator announces plans for July 7 event in Rome

After hosting four successful events in Italy, Bellator officials are now planning a fight card in the nation’s capital city of Rome.

Bellator execs recently announced plans to host a July 7 event in Rome, marking the promotion’s first visit to the city.

“After the success of our events in Torino and Florence, Italy over the last two years, we knew that it was time to do a show in Rome, a city rooted deep in combat sports history,” Bellator President Scott Coker stated. “The Italian fans have shown their passion for the sport and we look forward to bringing a huge card to Rome next year on July 7.”

As with all 2018 Bellator events, the card will air on the soon-to-launch Paramount Network, a rebrand of the company’s current home on Spike.

Additional details, including a bout card, will be announced shortly.

This past weekend’s Bellator 190 event took place in Florence, where middleweight champion Rafael Carvalho (15-1 MMA, 6-0 BMMA) needed just 44 seconds to score a knockout win over Italian challenger Alessio Sakara (19-12 MMA, 2-1 BMMA).

This week, the company is in Newcastle, England, for “Bellator 191: McDonald vs. Ligier,” featuring the promotional debut of former UFC title challengers Michael McDonald (17-4 MMA, 0-0 BMMA) and Valerie Letourneau (8-6 MMA, 0-0 BMMA).

For more on upcoming Bellator events, including Bellator 191 and Bellator in Rome, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

Filed under: Bellator, News
Source: MMA Junkie

The MMA Road Show with John Morgan No. 141.5 – Fresno: Dana White, Brian Ortega, Cub Swanson, Marlon Moraes, Benito Lopez, Alex Perez

Episode No. 141.5 of “The MMA Road Show with John Morgan” podcast is now available for streaming and download.

MMAjunkie lead staff reporter John Morgan hosts the show while traveling the world to cover the sport.

UFC Fight Night 123 is in the books, and John Morgan wraps up everything that happened onsite in Fresno. Hear from headliners Brian Ortega and Cub Swanson after a thrilling “T-City” win, as well as UFC President Dana White and additional UFC-Fresno winners Marlon Moraes, Benito Lopez and Alex Perez.

Listen below, or check it out on iTunes or at themmaroadshow.com. You can also subscribe via RSS.

Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

Benito Lopez fined 10 percent for UFC-Fresno weigh-ins shove; CSAC to keep money

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Filed under: Featured, News, UFC

FRESNO, Calif. – Benito Lopez pushed his opponent during today’s UFC Fight Night 123 weigh-ins ceremony, and the California State Athletic Commission has pushed back.

UFC officials confirmed with MMAjunkie that Lopez has been fined 10 percent of his $10,000 show money for shoving Albert Morales during their face-off at Fresno Convention Center. Unlike when a fighter misses weight, Lopez’s deducted purse money won’t be paid to Morales and instead will go to the CSAC.

As the two fighters squared off for an intense staredown, Morales suddenly yelled “boo” in Lopez’s face. Lopez’s reaction was to give Morales a hard push; Morales didn’t retaliate.

Lopez, who is making his official UFC debut after an August win on Dana White’s Contender Series, will lose $1,000 as a result of his actions. He could earn an extra $10,000 with a win.

Lopez (8-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC) vs. Morales (7-2-1 MMA, 1-2-1 UFC) is set to kick off the FS1-televised main card of UFC Fight Night 123, which takes place Saturday at Save Mart Center. Early prelims will streak on UFC Fight Pass.

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

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

UFC Fight Night 123 official weigh-in highlights video from Fresno

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FRESNO, Calif. – The weigh-ins are complete for Saturday’s UFC debut in Fresno, Calif.

Everyone played nice with the scale for UFC Fight Night 123 and hit their marks for the card – though maybe we can put an asterisk in there, since Carls John de Tomas was forced to move up to bantamweight for his fight with Alex Perez instead of flyweight when he had trouble cutting.

But that was settled Thursday and recontracted, and today everyone made weight. In the main event, Cub Swanson (25-7 MMA, 10-3 UFC) takes on Brian Ortega (12-0 MMA, 4-0 UFC) at featherweight in a bout that essentially is a pick’em with the oddsmakers.

Check out the highlights from today’s official weigh-ins at the host hotel in the video above. Then don’t miss UFC Fight Night 123 on Saturday at Save Mart Center in Fresno. The card airs on FS1 following early prelims on UFC Fight Pass.

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

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

Who ya got?! Fighters weigh in on Cub Swanson vs. Brian Ortega at UFC Fight Night 123

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FRESNO, Calif. – A perenial featherweight contender tries to hand an unbeaten prospect his first loss in this week’s UFC headliner.

Cub Swanson (25-7 MMA, 10-3 UFC) and Brian Ortega (12-0 MMA, 4-0 UFC) are a virtual pick’em with the oddsmakers in the UFC Fight Night 123 main event. Ortega never has lost. Swanson is on a four-fight winning streak.

Who are some of their fellow fighters picking in the main event? Check out the video above to get their picks.

UFC Fight Night 123 takes place Saturday at Save Mart Center in Fresno, Calif., and it airs on FS1 following early prelims on UFC Fight Pass.

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

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Source: MMA Junkie

Tonight's LFA 28 features grudge-match headliner in which opponents cap 4-year argument

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Filed under: AXS TV Fights, News, Videos

Sometimes, it’s tough to just let go of a grudge. Look at Damon Jackson (12-2-1) and Luis Luna (13-6).

The two first met in April 2013 at a local show in West Texas. On that much, they both can agree.

They also both recognize that Jackson was granted a victory that night via second-round armbar. But how things got to that point, that’s a whole different story.

To hear Jackson tell it, he was cruising in the opening round until he inadvertently landed an illegal knee, forcing a stoppage in the action. On the restart, “The Leech” believes he was the victim of a cheap shot, with Luna faking a glove touch and instead landing a punch over the top.

“We came out, we both had a pretty solid performance the first round, kind of scrapped back and forth,” Jackson told AXS TV Fight’s Phoenix Carnevale. “In the middle of all that, I got him in a front headlock, and I threw a knee while we were up next to the cage, and he had played that little touch-go game where people stick their hand on the ground, and I connected with the knee, obviously, because I was throwing it.

“The referee broke us apart, and I felt horrible because I didn’t want to be that guy that does anything illegal, so I went to go apologize by touching gloves, and in the middle of all that, he reached out like he was going to touch gloves and everything was OK, and then he came over the top with an overhand right and almost took me out of the fight. It was really frustrating because I was just going out to apologize, and then he got me with that.”

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Luna sees things a little differently. In his eyes, there was no reason for any apology, which is why he never planned on participating. In the dog-eat-dog world of a cagefight, Luna said he simply planned on keeping the pressure high and breaking the man on the opposite side of the cage.

“I made some mistakes in that fight,” Luna said. “I feel like I was clearly winning this fight. It’s not us as fighters’ job to sit here and complain about illegal knees and stuff like that that happened, and I feel like I was not nowhere near hurt, and I showed that I was not near hurt from the knee, so when we broke apart, I didn’t take a break at all, and I went right back to the fight right off.

“I didn’t think it was apology-worthy. I came into the sport as a natural fighter, believing in whatever happens, you just keep going. Don’t sit there if you get clipped in the groin or whatever happens. If they don’t see it, you just keep fighting. That’s how I always believe. I go into a fight just to fight. I put the rules second.”

Jackson ultimately walked away with the submission victory in what he considered a character-building matchup. He didn’t walk away with a ton of respect for Luna.

“It worked out great, but it was a tough fight,” Jackson said.

Meanwhile, Luna always felt like he was in the right and made only a small tactical error that haunted him as Jackson went on to fight in the UFC. But now, the two will meet again under the LFA umbrella and rematch in the main event of tonight’s LFA 28 event at The Bomb Factory in Dallas.

As with all LFA events, the card airs on AXS TV.

For Luna, especially, the chance to redeem himself seems of particular importance.

“It took me many, many years to get to this spot right here, and I’m still staying focused on coming up,” Luna said. “I’m thinking this is time for the rematch to see if Damon is ready for the same kind of fighter he fought, just a little more knowledged and better at every aspect of the sport.

“Don’t look for no excuses. … I’ve been watching you the last couple years, Damon. Tonight, I’m going to get you.”

For his part, Jackson doesn’t seem quite as emotionally charged but does expect a true battle in the headlining bout.

“It’s going to be a scrap,” Jackson said. “I can promise you that.”

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

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

The MMA Road Show with John Morgan No. 141 – Fresno: Cub Swanson, Brian Ortega, Jason Knight, Aljamain Sterling

Episode No. 141 of “The MMA Road Show with John Morgan” podcast is now available for streaming and download.

MMAjunkie lead staff reporter John Morgan hosts the show while traveling the world to cover the sport.

John Morgan is in California for UFC Fight Night 123, and he previews this week’s UFC event while also addressing some breaking news. Along the way, hear Morgan’s interviews with headliners Cub Swanson and Brian Ortega, as well as featured fighters Jason Knight and Aljamain Sterling.

Listen below, or check it out on iTunes or at themmaroadshow.com. You can also subscribe via RSS.

Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

UFC, California State Athletic Commission shift weight class on UFC-Fresno bout

FRESNO, Calif. – Working in collaboration, UFC and California State Athletic Commission officials have elected to preemptively shift weight classes for one UFC Fight Night 123 booking.

MMAjunkie today learned that a planned flyweight contest between Carls John de Tomas (8-1 MMA, 0-1 UFC) and Alex Perez (18-4 MMA, 0-0 UFC) will instead be contested as a bantamweight affair.

UFC Vice President of Athlete Health and Performance Jeff Novitzky today confirmed the switch.

“It was a collaborative effort, as it always has been with the California commission,” Novitzky told MMAjunkie. “They are definitely on top of this issue more than any other commission, and we all felt this was in the best interest of the athletes.”

Earlier this year, the CSAC approved a 10-point plan designed to take aim at extreme weight-cutting. Included among those recommendations was a plan to monitor fighters’ weights ahead of fight week and into their cut to identify athletes who might be taking unnecessary risks by attempting to make weight.

This week, it was de Tomas, who actually missed weight in his UFC debut this past June by registering 131 pounds ahead of a scheduled flyweight contest at UFC Fight Night 111.

Novitzky declined to reveal de Tomas’ exact weight at the time of the decision but said both he and CSAC officials believe it was best to seek an alternate plan, and opponent Perez signed off on the switch.

“Based on the progression of his weight leading up to this week, (CSAC Executive Director) Andy Foster expressed some concerns, and we came together to make this decision,” Novitzky said.

Foster wasn’t immediately available for comment when contacted by MMAjunkie.

UFC Fight Night 123 takes place Saturday at Save Mart Center in Fresno, Calif., and it airs on FS1 following early prelims on UFC Fight Pass.

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

Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

Expect more quick turnarounds from Marlon Moraes, who wants hard road to the top

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FRESNO, Calif. – Former WSOF champ Marlon Moraes was a poster boy for his previous organization, but now, he’s just one of the guys. Perfect, says the Brazilian bantamweight.

“I want to be part of the UFC, and I want to work my way up,” Moraes told MMAjunkie. “I’m very happy working my way up. When things come so easy, sometimes you don’t appreciate them.

“I want to work for it. If one day, I become a star, I’m going to say I am, but I worked for it. I’m here because I deserve it.”

Moraes came to the UFC earlier this year on an impressive 13-fight winning streak that included a perfect 11-0 mark in WSOF. But “Magic” hasn’t found the going quite as easy in the sport’s largest promotion, debuting with a split-decision loss to Raphael Assuncao at UFC 212 and then edging out a split-decision win over John Dodson at November’s UFC Fight Night 120 event.

Moraes said his first few fights brought exactly what he expected.

“I knew it was going to be hard,” Moraes said. “The UFC is the toughest competition in the world in mixed martial arts. I was in WSOF, and I had a couple of tough fights, but not like UFC. UFC are the best fighters. I’ve had two fights, and two tough opponents.

“I knew it was going to be like that. I knew the UFC, you go out there with somebody, and you never know who is going to win. You’ve just got to be prepared. You’ve got to train hard and perform. With Assuncao, it was a close fight, and he won. With Dodson, it was a close fight, but I won. That’s it. Now I’m ready, and Saturday night, I’m pretty sure I’m going to put on a great performance.”

Saturday is when Moraes (19-5-1 MMA, 1-1 UFC) faces Aljamain Sterling (14-2 MMA, 6-2 UFC) at UFC Fight Night 123. The card airs on FS1 following early prelims on UFC Fight Pass at Save Mart Center in Fresno, Calif.

It will be just four weeks after Moraes’ decision win over Dodson, but the 29-year-old said he was thrilled to get a shot at a quick return when Sterling’s original opponent, Rani Yahya, was forced from the card.

“I was healthy,” Moraes said. “I’ve got to be honest with you, it’s always been my dream to be in the UFC because of that. There’s such a lot of opportunities. You can fight more than three times in a year, more than five if you can. When that opportunity came, I said, ‘Of course I want the fight.’

“I’m healthy. I just fought. I’m in great shape. I’m just going to keep doing what I love. I’m going to keep sparring. Anyway, Saturday, I was going to be in the gym sparring, so now I’m here. I’m going to fight.”

And it’s a big fight in the 135-pound division. Moraes currently sits at No. 6 in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA bantamweight rankings, while Sterling checks in at No. 12. In the UFC’s official list, both sit in the top-10.

“He’s good everywhere,” Moraes said of his opponent. “He’s a dangerous fighter everywhere in the game – on the ground especially, in the wrestling, on the feet, very sneaky. Man, it’s the UFC; what are you going to expect from an opponent? The best of the best.

“It’s a tough fight for both of us. The one that’s going to be able to capitalize on the other one’s mistakes, that’s who’s going to win.”

It’s a challenging assignment, without a doubt. But facing a ranked opponent on short notice is no bother to Moraes. Quite the opposite, in fact – it’s his ambition.

“I don’t want easy fights,” Moraes said. “I want to be in there with the best guys. I want to have this in my record: ‘Man, he fought this guy. He fought that guy. He fought all the top-10 guys.’ This is what I want. I want to put on a show, I want to fight these guys.

“One day I’m going to have an opportunity to fight up there (for the title), but right now, I”m working my way to the top in the UFC.”

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

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

UFC-Fresno's Aljamain Sterling says T.J. Dillashaw needs to clean out division before challenging Demetrious Johnson

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FRESNO, Calif. – Aljamain Sterling has heard all the superfight talk about UFC bantamweight champ T.J. Dillashaw moving down to fight flyweight title holder Demetrious Johnson, and frankly, “Funk Master” isn’t a fan of the idea.

“I do understand that T.J. is a two-time world champion at this point, but at the same time, you haven’t cleaned out the division yet,” Sterling told MMAjunkie. “‘Mighty Mouse’ has cleaned out his division. He’s done his job in his weight class.

“T.J., stay put, do your job, because I’m coming for the belt. You’ve got all of us hungry young competitors coming up for the belt, and that’s all it’s all about right now. We’re all chasing gold.”

While there’s no question that Johnson is in dire need of new contenders at 125 pound, Sterling does make an interesting point. After all, Dillashaw just reclaimed the belt with a November knockout of Cody Garbrandt and only defended the title twice in his previous run.

Sure, the thought of Johnson vs. Dillashaw seems fun, on paper, but how do you justify it to the bantamweight contenders currently waiting their shot at the title? Count Sterling (14-2 MMA, 6-2 UFC) on that list ahead of his meeting with former WSOF bantamweight champ Marlon Moraes (19-5-1 MMA, 1-1 UFC) at UFC Fight Night 123, which takes place Saturday at Save Mart Center in Fresno, Calif. The card airs on FS1 following early prelims on UFC Fight Pass.

“I think there’s a lot that’s riding on this fight for the both of us,” Sterling said. “Whoever gets their hand raised – which will be me – I think they’re going to solidify themselves as a true No. 1 contender or line themselves up for a No. 1 contender fight.

“T.J. has been talking about fighting ‘Mighty Mouse.’ If that happens, that’s going to really hold up the division all over again. There’s a lot of young blood, new faces for T.J. to challenge. He hasn’t yet cleared out this division. I think he should stay put, do his job as a champion and fight the guys who are the true No. 1 contenders at this weight class. You’ve got Jimmie Rivera in the hunt. You’ve got Raphael Assuncao in the hunt, who Marlon and I both lost to via split decision. … You’ve got (John) Lineker if he gets the win over Rivera. … Dominick Cruz’s arm is broken, and Cody just came off a knockout loss to T.J., so it’s really a who’s who. It’s kind of a pick ’em.”

Of course, before he can even think about Dillashaw, Sterling has to get past Moraes, who has gone 1-1 in two split-decision results under the UFC banner since migrating over from WSOF. Despite the mixed results, Sterling admits his opponent still offers some serious challenges but has simply discovered just how deep the talent pool is in the UFC.

“I don’t really gameplan,” Sterling admitted. “I go out there, and I just fight my fight. I do what I do best. I’m going to bring my skillsets to the table, he’s going to bring what he brings to the table, and we’re just going to have to figure this (expletive) out.

“He’s a great leg kicker. He’s good off his back. He’s good on top. I think it’s just going to be a matter of will – who’s going to have the most heart when we go out there, and I think that guy is going to be me.”

Sterling carries back-to-back wins over Renan Barao and Augusto Mendes into the matchup, righting the ship after suffering the first (and to date, only) losses of his career in a pair of split-decision results to Assuncao and Bryan Caraway. But with momentum now swinging in his direction, Sterling believes it’s his time to shine.

Sterling currently sits at No. 12 in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA bantamweight rankings, while Moraes sits at No. 6. Sterling knows what’s at stake in the matchup and knows if his opinion on Dillashaw’s next move is going to matter at all, he has to prove victorious on Saturday night.

“I’m just going to fight, wherever this fight goes,” Sterling said. “If he tries to go for that patented knee-tap, Frankie Edgar, if the fight goes to the ground, I’m no stranger to fighting off my back. I will be slashing up elbows, I will be throwing up submissions, and I will be kicking like a mule, so if he wants to take it there, we can take it there. If he wants to stand up and fight, we can stand up and fight.

“I’m willing to die in there, so bring it.”

To hear more from Sterling, 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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Filed under: Featured, News, UFC, Videos
Source: MMA Junkie