Tyron Woodley Willing to Fight Nate Diaz at UFC 219

Speculation has run rampant about the UFC trying to put together a welterweight fight between champion Tyron Woodley and Nate Diaz.

Although there has been no public announcement about the UFC trying to put the fight together, the champ is willing to do it. 

When the rumors began to gain steam – oddsmakers even installed Woodley as a heavy favorite over Diaz in their opening lines – Woodley spoke to ESPN and confirmed that he is more than willing to take the fight. 

“If Nate wants to go UFC 219, I’m ready,” Woodley said.

Woodley’s comment to ESPN piggybacks on his earlier comments to MMAWeekly.com’s Damon Martin, who recently interviewed the champion on his Fight Society podcast, where Woodley said that he should be announcing a fight within the next few days.

Tyron Woodley“Don’t be surprised if you see me in the next couple days announce a fight. It’s a sport about risk and reward. It’s a sport about becoming a legend. You look at guys that have stepped up on last minute and it changed their lives. I don’t think that I should be any different,” Woodley said.

While most people would have thought Woodley was talking about a fight with one of the division’s top contenders, it appears the UFC had other plans. 

Reading deeper into Woodley’s interview on Fight Society, perhaps he was already alluding to the idea of a fight with Diaz.

“There’s a lot of guys in my weight class that are talking, they’re chirping, everybody wants the title, everybody wants to fight me, everybody thinks they can beat me. People are talking because they think I can’t fight. They think I’m injured to the point where I can’t compete and I’m not going back and forth with them so that gives them more wings to keep flying,” he said.

TRENDING > Anderson Silva Defiant After Doping Violation Forced Him Off UFC Shanghai

“At the end of the day, none of the people in my division right now are the fight that are going to get me to legendary status. Get me to the point where I’m a household name. I’m looking for that and I might have found that fight.”

Woodley has been on the sidelines dealing with a shoulder injury since his victory over Demian Maia at UFC 214 in July. Now that he’s started to heal up, it appears he is ready to help save the day for the UFC by giving them a main event for the year-end fight card slated for Dec. 30 in Las Vegas. 

Attempts to put Conor McGregor or Cris Cyborg on the card have thus far failed, so Woodley appears to be ready to step in and save the day.

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Source: MMA Weekly

Anderson Silva Defiant After Doping Violation Forced Him Off UFC Shanghai

Former UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva issued his first comments since being flagged for a potential UFC Anti-Doping Policy violation.

Silva was slated to meet Kelvin Gastelum on Nov. 25 in the UFC Shanghai main event. He was removed from the bout last week when the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency notified the UFC that Silva had been flagged for a potential anti-doping policy violation for the second time in his storied career.

Silva was first flagged in relation to his UFC 183 headlining bout with Nick Diaz in January of 2015. He was suspended for one year, fined upwards of $380,000, and his victory over Diaz was changed to a no contest result.

No details have yet been revealed as to the nature of this recent potential violation, but after being replace by Michael Bisping in the fight, Silva issued the following statement, indicating that he isn’t prepared to let this latest incident end his career.

Anderson Silva“Obviously, I think everything is part of a process of evolution, with each passing day, I can learn more about who I am. I’m here to thank all my fans, especially my coaches and all the contributors for this long journey. I can’t express my feelings and how sad I am, because we all invest love, passion and time in this camp, I don’t know exactly the plans of GOD for me, but anyway, I can only thank him and all of you, for the love and affection, nothing is more gratifying at this moment than having you by my side,” Silva wrote.

“I will not give up, much less stop doing what I love, not because of fame or money, it’s because I love to fight. So no matter what happens from now on, nothing changes, my plans are the same, nothing has changed.

“A big kiss for everyone and see you soon.”

Aside from being the second time Silva has been flagged for a potential anti-doping violation, this is the second time that a bout between Silva and Gastelum has been derailed because of a violation. 

Silva and Gastelum had been slated to meet in the Octagon at UFC 212 last June, but Gastelum was pulled from the fight after testing positive to marijuana. 

TRENDING > Michael Bisping Reveals Retirement Plan

Obviously, I think everything is part of a process of evolution, with each passing day, I can learn more about who I am. I’m here to thank all my fans, especially my coaches and all the contributors for this long journey. I can’t express my feelings and how sad I am, because we all invest love, passion and time in this camp, I don’t know exactly the plans of GOD for me, but anyway, I can only thank him and all of you, for the love and affection, nothing is more gratifying at this moment than having you by my side. I will not give up, much less stop doing what I love, not because of fame or money, it’s because I love to fight. So no matter what happens from now on, nothing changes, my plans are the same, nothing has changed. A big kiss for everyone and see you soon. . Obviamente, acho que tudo faz parte de um processo de evolução, a cada dia que passa, consigo aprender mais sobre quem sou. Estou aqui para agradecer todos os meus fãs, principalmente meus treinadores e todos os colaboradores nesta longa jornada. Não tenho como expressar meus sentimentos e o quanto estou triste, pois todos nós investimos amor, paixão e tempo neste camping, não sei exatamente os planos de DEUS para mim, mas de qualquer maneira, só posso agradecer a ele e a todos vocês, mais uma vez, pelo amor e carinho de todos, nada é mais gratificante neste momento do que ter vocês ao meu lado. Não vou desistir, muito menos parar de fazer o que amo, não é pela fama ou pelo dinheiro, é porque amo lutar. Então, independente do que acontecer daqui pra frente, nada muda, meus planos são os mesmos, nada mudou. Um grande beijo pra todos e nos vemos em breve. . #spiderkick @spiderkick

A post shared by Anderson "The Spider" Silva (@spiderandersonsilva) on Nov 14, 2017 at 6:42pm PST

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Commissioner Claims UFC Pulled Conor McGregor from Year-End Fight Card

The commissioner overseeing the Bellator 187 event in Dublin, where UFC champion Conor McGregor scaled the cage and interfered with the outcome of a teammate’s bout, on Monday stated that the UFC has already sanctioned McGregor by pulling him from its year-end event.

McGregor was caught on video jumping into the cage at the end of the first round of his SBG Ireland teammate Charlie Ward’s bout before exchanging words with and shoving referee Marc Goddard. After exiting the cage, he again jumped up on the fencing, slapping a Bellator official before exiting the arena.

He basically went full-on WWE. The problem being, of course, this is mixed martial arts not professional wrestling.

Though he already issued a statement about the incident to MMAWeekly.com, Mike Mazzulli, the president of the Association of Boxing Commissions and director of the Mohegan Tribe Depart of Athletic Regulation, joined The MMA Hour on Monday, where he delved a little deeper into the incident, saying that while he believes the UFC is taking action against its champion, he also plans to consult his attorneys to see if he has grounds for further sanctions.

“I had some executives from the UFC contact me within 2 hours of what occurred. They basically said to me that is completely unacceptable in their eyes and that they will be doing something about it. They did inform me that he was set to be on the Dec. 30 card and he will not be on it. So, I do commend the UFC to some extent for doing that,” Mazzulli said, later confirming that UFC officials told him McGregor had been scheduled to fight at UFC 219 on Dec. 30, despite public perception being quite different. 

According to MMAWeekly.com sources, McGregor had never come to terms or even verbally accepted any bout for UFC 219, although UFC president Dana White had publicly targeted McGregor vs. Tony Ferguson for the year-end event. In fact, UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley on Saturday night tipped his hand, saying on a UFC Fight Night broadcast that he might defend his belt by year’s end. 

There had already been speculation that the UFC had shifted away from a McGregor return for the Dec. 30 event and had instead been focusing on Woodley for the UFC 219 headliner, although nothing has been announced.

Regardless of what the UFC allegedly told Mazzulli and what else the promotion might do to reprimand McGregor, who could be in violation of the company’s Athlete Code of Conduct, the ABC president isn’t letting the matter simply fade away.

After handling regulation of the Bellator 187 event in Dublin, Mazzulli is now in Israel to oversee the promotion’s Bellator 188 event on Thursday before returning to the United States, where he intends to consult with his attorneys. about potential further action he might be able to take.

“I may not be done with what I’m doing. I need to speak to my attorneys,” said Mazzulli. “If Mr. McGregor was licensed at Mohegan and he did this at another commission overseas, I would suspend him indefinitely, and I would require for him to come to a hearing and explain himself.

TRENDING > Conor McGregor Expresses No Remorse for Incident at Bellator

“I’m a policy guy. I don’t care if you’re a kid that has his first pro debut or if you’re Conor McGregor, you follow policy and you follow it to the tee. If you don’t, you’re in fault. You have the right to be sanctioned.”

McGregor’s only public comment after the fight was a defiant tweet that he deleted a short time after its initial posting. 

UFC officials have yet to respond to multiple requests for comment on the situation.

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Source: MMA Weekly

Injury Forces Bellator to Swap Israel Main Event on Short Notice

For the second even in a row, Bellator has had to make a quick shift to its main event.

Bellator featherweight champion Patricio “Pitbull” Freire removed himself from a fight with Daniel Weichel, which was slated to headline Thursday’s Bellator 188 in Israel. 

Freire posted on his Instagram account late Sunday to announce the move.

“I’m sad to announce I’ll no longer be fighting in Israel next week. Multiple injuries prevent me to perform,” he wrote. “A couple months ago due to a training accident, I suffered a serious injury and started treating it immediately. I had to stop training for a few weeks and then I was able to start with several limitations. But due to those, other parts of my body were overcharged and new injuries kept piling up.”

Freire went on to say that he had been doing extensive physical therapy and the fight was still on as recently as mid-week last week, but after testing himself in a sparring session, he had “no condition to step up in that cage.”

He will instead be taking 30 days off and then return to training with plans to put his belt on the line against Daniel Weichel, hopefully in February.

With Freire vs. Weichel removed from the Bellator 188 card, the promotion moved swiftly to elevate the co-main event bout between Noad Lahat and Jeremiah Labiano to headlining status. Following that move, the bout between Haim Gozali and Arsen Faitovich was slotted in as the new co-main event.

TRENDING > Commissioner Claims UFC Pulled Conor McGregor from Year-End Fight Card

Though it’s not the best thing for Bellator, the change is a somewhat fortunate turn of events for Labiano, who was moved from the Bellator 187 event in Dublin to the Bellator 188 card in Israel after his original opponent, James Gallagher, had to pull out  last week’s bout due to injury.

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Source: MMA Weekly

Andrei Arlovski Staves Off Retirement with Win Over Junior Albini (UFC Norfolk Results)

Andrei Arlovski staved off retirement with a unanimous nod over Junior Albini at UFC Fight Night 120 on Saturday in Norfolk, Va.

This fight really was make or break for Arlovski, who entered the bout having lost five consecutive times. Facing a top up-and-comer like Albini, who was on a 10-fight winning streak, was an ultimatum for the former UFC heavyweight champion.

Albini and Arlovski couldn’t have been starker in contrast as heavyweights. Arlovski tipped the scale at the weigh-ins at 244 pounds, while Albini was a full 20 pounds heavier, and that was with him barely making weight.

The same held true of their fighting styles. Arlovski was lighter on his feet, showing a lot of movement, working combinations to the body and head. Albini, meanwhile, stood flat footed and plodded forward, launching powerful punches and elbows, and using his massive size to press Arlovski to the cage.

Arlovski used his size, or lack thereof, to his advantage by remaining light on his feet and constantly moving, all the while peppering Albini with punch combinations to the body and the head, deftly avoiding most of Albini’s power, especially early in the fight.

RELATED > UFC Fight Night 120: Poirier vs. Pettis Live Results and Fight Stats

As Albini tired, Arlovski continued to move, and even stepped up his pace a little bit in the final round. He never really threatened to finish Albini, but the Brazilian didn’t ever have Arlovski in much danger either. His power flared on occasion, but he didn’t have the steam to follow up and do much real damage to the former champion, who was a constant ball of motion.

When the judges scorecards were read, Arlovski walked away with a unanimous decision victory and his career intact. Arlovski admitted that he was on the verge of retirement had he not been successful.

“I was feeling the pressure, especially after five straight losses. I said if I’m gonna lose tonight, I’m probably done,” he said in his post-fight interview in the Octagon.

“Hard work paid off tonight.”

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Source: MMA Weekly

Marlon Moraes Out-Hustles John Dodson at UFC Norfolk

Former World Series of Fighting champion Marlon Moraes took the split-decision nod over John Dodson at UFC Fight Night 120 on Saturday in Norfolk, Va.

Each fighter’s strategy was clear from the opening bell. Moraes went to work attacking Dodson’s lead leg with inside kicks, while Dodson was working his double-straight-left punch from his southpaw stance. 

It was Dodson who drew first blood, countering a Moraes right hand with a left hand that put Moraes on the canvas, but he quickly returned to his feet. Moraes landed a low kick square to the groin that affected Dodson for the remainder of the round.

Marlon MoraesDodson scored two takedowns in round two, taking the early lead, but Moraes made it a difficult round to score. Moraes landed a big right hand at the start of the round and even when Dodson took him down, he immediately attacked with a heel hook on one attempt and a leg lock on the other. He also controlled the final couple minutes of the frame and took Dodson to the canvas in the waning moments of the round.

Both men turned up the heat for the final frame, Dodson going back to attacking primarily with multiple straight left hands, while Moraes again amped up his kicking attack. 

RELATED > UFC Fight Night 120: Poirier vs. Pettis Live Results and Fight Stats

The round played out with a lot of back-and-forth action, but Moraes locked in a guillotine choke on a Dodson takedown attempt, sinking it tight, but time ran out before he had a chance to finish. Dodson tapped Moraes’ side, but the tap came a second or two after the final horn sounded.

Moraes took scores of 30-27 on two of the judges’ scorecards, while Dodson also got a 30-27 nod, but only from one judge. The split decision fell in Moraes’ favor and he took the moment he had on the mic to call out Jimmie Rivera, who is without an opponent for UFC 219 on Dec. 30, after Dominick Cruz fell out of the fight due to injury.

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Source: MMA Weekly

Commission Rep Says Conor McGregor Assaulted Referee, is in Talks With UFC

UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor caused a stir at Bellator 187 on Friday in Dublin, and the official in charge at the event is now pursuing further action.

McGregor was at Bellator 187 to support his SBG Ireland teammates, including main card fighter Charlie Ward. After Ward knocked out John Redmond, but before the referee and other officials could check on the health of the fighters, McGregor scaled the Bellator cage and tackled his teammate in celebration. When he did so, referee Marc Goddard had some words with McGregor and appeared to direct him out of the cage. 

McGregor didn’t take kindly to Goddard’s direction and shoved him before exiting the cage. 

Conor McGregor Grand Arrival scrumEven after he exited the cage, McGregor wasn’t done. He could later be seen skipping around the cage and jumping back onto the fence briefly before being rebuked by another official, whom McGregor slapped across the face for trying to force him down off of the cage.

All the while, cameras were cageside, taking in McGregor’s actions.

Bellator 187 was under the regulatory charge of Mike Mazzulli, the director of the Mohegan Tribe Depart of Athletic Regulation and also the president of the Association of Boxing Commissions. 

Mazzulli was not happy with McGregor’s actions, telling MMAWeekly.com on Friday, “Mr. McGregor is not larger than MMA,” before issuing the following statement on Saturday: 

“While the Mohegan Tribe Department of Athletic Regulation (MTDAR) was regulating Bellator 187 in Dublin, Ireland, on November 10, 2017, the following events took place during the Ward vs Redmond bout.

“Mr. Conor McGregor who was a spectator at the time, disrupted the event by scaling the cage prior to the conclusion of the bout. Mr. McGregor’s conduct jeopardized the health and safety of the bout participants by delaying necessary medical attention to the fighters that were injured during the round.

“In addition, Mr. McGregor assaulted Referee Mark Goddard and a Bellator staff.

“The MTDAR has been in consultation with the upper management of the UFC regarding Mr. McGregor’s inappropriate and unacceptable behavior.

“The MTDAR has also contacted members of the Association of Boxing Commissioners that have licensed Mr. McGregor in their jurisdictions to inform them of Mr. McGregor’s behavior.”

(Courtesy of BellatorMMA)

McGregor is certainly a special circumstance in this instance, not because he is the biggest star in all of combat sports, but more so because of his official capacity at the event. 

Considering he was in attendance at Bellator 187 as a guest in support of his teammates and not a licensed cornerman or in any other official capacity, as Mazzulli mentioned, McGregor was basically a spectator. Obviously, being who he is and being there with his SBG Ireland team, he is more than just another spectator in the audience. 

That said, it is unclear what type of ramifications his actions might trigger.

TRENDING > Georges St-Pierre’s Comeback Nearly Derailed by Profuse Vomiting

It isn’t immediately clear what regulatory sanctions, if any, he might be subject to, but he is contractually obligated to abide by the UFC’s Athlete Code of Conduct, although UFC officials have yet to respond to requests for comment on the situation. He could, of course, also face any legal ramifications that he might be subject to as a spectator at the event, although no one has mentioned pursuing that course of action.

While we don’t yet know what the full repercussions of his actions might be, Mazzulli doesn’t sound as if he is willing to let McGregor simply walk away from the incident unfettered.

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Source: MMA Weekly

Bellator Uses Conor McGregor Storming the Cage to Promote Tape-Delayed Dublin Card

(Courtesy of BellatorMMA)

If you weren’t planning on watching Bellator’s tape delayed fight card from Dublin on Friday night, you may want to rethink your plans now that Conor McGregor is part of the show.

What started as a middle-of-the-road Bellator fight card that was to air on Spike TV on a tape delay due to the time difference between the United States and Ireland took an interesting turn on Friday. The UFC’s biggest star was in attendance and stormed the cage before putting hands on referee Marc Goddard.

McGregor was at Bellator 187 to support SBG Ireland teammate Charlie Ward. After Ward got the win over John Redmond, McGregor climbed up and over the Bellator cage and rushed across to celebrate with his teammate. When he did so, Goddard had some words with McGregor and appeared to direct him out of the cage. 

McGregor didn’t take kindly to Goddard’s direction and shoved him before exiting the cage. 

As all of this was happening, camera crews were rushing around to record the actions of the biggest athlete in all of combat sports. 

Even after he exited the cage, McGregor wasn’t done. He could later be seen skipping around the cage and jumping back on the fence briefly before being rebuked by a commission official, whom McGregor slapped across the face for his efforts.

Again, cameras appeared to be cageside, taking in McGregor’s actions.

TRENDING > Georges St-Pierre’s Comeback Nearly Derailed by Profuse Vomiting

Not letting the opportunity slide by, Bellator and Spike have been posting clips of the situation on social media and Youtube, taking advantage of McGregor’s star power to boost a card that wasn’t likely to draw particularly large numbers.

It remains to be seen if their efforts will boost Friday night’s audience on Spike, but it certainly can’t hurt to play the angle with the biggest star in the sport losing his mind at their event.

UFC officials had yet to comment on McGregor’s actions at the time of publication.

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Source: MMA Weekly

Georges St-Pierre’s Comeback Nearly Derailed by Profuse Vomiting

While Georges St-Pierre‘s return to the Octagon was an unmitigated success, it wasn’t without significant hurdles. Unbeknownst to most of the combat sports world, one of the hurdles nearly derailed his comeback fight.

St-Pierre returned at UFC 217 to submit Michael Bisping and became the first fighter in UFC history to hold the belt at welterweight and then move up and take the middleweight championship, as well. 

One of the biggest hurdles to his achievement was size. St-Pierre has long said that he would have to put on a tremendous amount of weight to make an effective move to middleweight. It’s a significant part of the reason why it took him so long to make it back to the cage. 

Having achieved the goal, it’s unclear if St-Pierre will continue on as a middleweight or return to the welterweight division that he once ruled with an iron fist. The odds of him remaining at middleweight seem to get less and less likely by the day, particularly after his longtime grappling coach, John Danaher, revealed just how close St-Pierre came to cancelling the fight with Bisping because of difficulties in putting on weight.

Georges St-Pierre - UFC 94“The victory by welterweight Georges St-Pierre at middleweight to gain a new world title was a bold experiment with a truly great result, but was not without its problems. The fundamental problem was always going to be size,” Danaher wrote on Instagram on Thursday.

“Mr. St-Pierre always walked into the octagon around 189 pounds on fight night throughout his career. This made him a very averaged sized welterweight. In order to move up to middleweight, Mr. St-Pierre took on a nutritional program designed to facilitate weight gain and hold weight during the rigors of a full fight camp. The result was a disaster.”

Danaher’s admission was quite the revelation, putting into perspective just how precarious the moves that we, as fans and pundits, often take for granted. 

We often expect that it is simply a matter of money and desire for a fighter to go up or down in weight for a big fight. But doing so effectively can be another story altogether, as was the case with St-Pierre’s move to middleweight.

While it would seem easy to gain weight, St-Pierre wasn’t simply trying to get heavier, he was trying to do so and get stronger, more physical. It nearly cost him the Bisping fight altogether according to Danaher, who went on to detail the complications and how St-Pierre’s coaches gave him an ultimatum.

“Two weeks into camp he developed severe stomach pains and vomiting. Initially it was suspected that he had an illness, but all tests came back negative. The situation deteriorated to the point that for two weeks of a six-week camp there was no training at all. At a critical point we gave him a two-day window to either get back in the gym or call off the fight,” said Danaher.

“The first grappling workout he had he vomited heavily prior to workout and then went to work. The next day he had the worst standing sparring session I have ever seen him have. Finally, the stomach issue resolved itself to a degree where he could train satisfactorily and the workouts improved dramatically – though the vomiting continued all the way up to the day of the fight.”

TRENDING > Conor McGregor Explains Why ‘It’s Hard to Get Excited’ To Fight Tony Ferguson

The way Danaher tells it, St-Pierre was apparently having trouble with the amount of food he had to consume in order to hit his target weight.

“He was eating so much more than usual in an attempt to keep weight on and stay close to 200 pounds. When he went through the final weight cut, the big question was, would he return to his bigger size? The answer was a resounding no. On fight night he weighed in at 190.5 – almost identical to his usual fight weight as a welterweight,” Danaher claimed.

“The great effort to increase size just didn’t work out and Mr. St-Pierre went in to win the title as a mid-sized welterweight. It seems his body just finds a comfort zone around 190 pounds for fighting after a weight cut and no amount of work to change that has any effect.

“It’s one thing to gain weight, it’s another to do so through a fight camp culminating in a weight cut and then regain the weight. It seems his body has an optimal weight for athletic performance which cannot be drastically changed.”

With this new information about St-Pierre’s struggles through training, if it doesn’t somehow get rectified to the point that the increased size is a benefit to him and not just another hassle that produces little result, it would seem unlikely that St-Pierre would continue at middleweight, which has already come into question.

Experiment with mixed results: The victory by Welterweight Georges St-Pierre at middleweight to gain a new world title was a bold experiment with a truly great result, but was not without its problems. The fundamental problem was always going to be size. Mr St-Pierre always walked into the octagon around 189 pounds on fight night throughout his career. This made him a very averaged sized Welterweight. In order to move up to middle weight, Mr St-Pierre took on a nutritional program designed to facilitate weight gain and hold weight during the rigors of a full fight camp. The result was a disaster. Two weeks into camp he developed severe stomach pains and vomiting. Initially it was suspected that he had an illness, but all tests came back negative. The situation deteriorated to the point that for two weeks of a six week camp there was no training at all. At a critical point we gave him a two day window to either get back in the gym or call off the fight. The first grappling workout he had he vomited heavily prior to workout and then went to work. The next day he had the worst standing sparring session I have ever seen him have. Finally the stomach issue issue resolved itself to a degree where he could train satisfactorily and the workouts improved dramatically- though the vomiting continued all the way up to the day of the fight. He was eating so much more than usual in an attempt to keep weight on and stay close to 200 pounds. When he went through the final weight cut the big question was, would he return to his bigger size? The answer was a resounding no. On fight night he weighed in at 190.5 – almost identical to his usual fight weight as a Welterweight. The great effort to increase size just didn’t work out and Mr St-Pierre went in to win the title as a mid sized Welterweight. It seems his body just finds a comfort zone around 190 pounds for fighting after a weight cut and no amount of work to change that has any effect. It’s one thing to gain weight, it’s another to do so through a fight camp culminating in a weight cut and then regain the weight. It seems his body has an optimal weight for athletic performance which cannot be drastically changed

A post shared by John Danaher (@danaherjohn) on Nov 9, 2017 at 1:28pm PST

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Source: MMA Weekly

Rampage Jackson Free of UFC, Inks New Deal with Bellator

Bellator on Thursday announced that it has signed a new multi-fight contract with Quinton “Rampage” Jackson that will likely keep the former UFC light heavyweight champion under the Bellator promotional banner for the duration of his career.

Jackson (37-12) has flirted with retirement several times in the past, but at 39 years of age, it’s unlikely that he plans to fight much beyond his new deal, depending upon its duration. Details of the contract were not revealed.

Jackson has been in a unique position in the latter part of his career. After several years under the UFC banner, Jackson moved over to Bellator in 2013. He won three bouts for the promotion before claiming that Bellator had breached his contract and returning to the UFC.

While a legal battle ensued, Jackson fought one fight for the UFC before returning to Bellator for two more bouts. 

Though the legal wrangling continued, sources told MMAWeekly.com on Thursday that the UFC released him from any potential obligations, making way for the new Bellator deal.

Jackson is expected to return to the Bellator cage in early 2018.

“I am excited for this new beginning and looking forward to an action packed 2018,” Jackson said in a Bellator release. “I can’t wait to get back in the cage and put on exciting fights for both the Rampage and Bellator fans.”

“With Rampage Jackson, you know what you’re going to get every time he steps inside the Bellator cage – an exciting fight and interest from fans all over the world,” Bellator President Scott Coker said. “I knew that keeping Rampage with Bellator was integral to our continued growth as a promotion and I’m pleased that we were able to come to an agreement that allows us to plan some great future matchups for him.”

TRENDING > Georges St-Pierre Raises Doubt About Defending UFC Belt

Jackson is currently 4-1 under the Bellator banner and 5-1 in his last six bouts, including one UFC victory over Fabio Maldonado during the legal entanglements.

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Source: MMA Weekly