All posts by Mike Bohn

Episode No. 4 recap: 'The Ultimate Fighter 26: A New World Champion'

Episode No. 4 of “The Ultimate Fighter 26: A New World Champion” opens with focus on No. 3 Lauren Murphy, who is fighting No. 14 Nicco Montano in the fourth opening-round tournament bout later in the episode.

Team Alvarez’s Murphy admits she’s had to stop and catch herself from looking too far ahead in the tournament when the most important fight is right ahead of her with Team Gaethje’s Montano. Murphy tells teammate Barb Honchak that she was already thinking about a fight between them prior to the start of the tournament, which creates some awkwardness.

During preparation, coach Eddie Alvarez calls Murphy a “coach’s dream.” He believes her four fights of UFC experience, which is more than all the rest of the tournament field combined, is a great advantage. Murphy says her well-rounded game is going to be too much for Montano to handle.

At the “TUF” house, Murphy, a former Invicta FC champion, opens up with some of her teammates about her troubled past. She discusses how her father passed away in a plane crash when she was young. That led her to a downward spiral of drug and alcohol abuse which resulted in an overdose. Murphy eventually got past her addiction and turned to a career in MMA.

Team Gaethje has its next training session, and Montano continues preparation for her upcoming fight. Despite only five pro bouts, Montano won a championship in the King of the Cage organization. UFC President Dana White calls Montano a “dark horse” in the tournament. Coach Justin Gaethje says the goal for Montano to turn it into a “dog fight.”

The official weigh-ins for the fight takes place, and both fighters come in under the 126-pound women’s flyweight limit. A tense staredown follows.

Fight day arrives, and the fourth tournament bout is nearly underway. Murphy and Montano finalize preparation with their coaches, and the athletes walk to the cage for the debut contest of the season.

#3 Lauren Murphy (9-3) vs. #14 Nicco Montano (3-2)

Round 1 – Murphy presses the action to begin the fight and is throwing combinations. Montano attacks with leg kicks and counter strikes. Montano is landing the better shots early, but Murphy is starting to settle in. Murphy works the jab, but Montano is coming at her with body and leg kicks. Murphy gets the clinch, but Montano pressures her against the fence. Montano misses with an elbow on the break, and Murphy takes the center of the cage. Montano lands a hard body kick followed by a grazing kick to the head. Murphy is struggling to find her range and is consistently being tagged with kicks. Murphy catches one of the kicks and turns it into a clinch situation. She attempts to drag Montano to the mat, but her takedowns are well defended. Montano is keeping busy with short punches and knees to the body before turning Murphy in the clinch. She works for a body-lock takedown of her own but has no success. They continue to battle in the clinch before separating. Murphy is starting to land some better shots before the end of the round.

Round 2 – Murphy is throwing with bad intentions to begin the round. Montano is keeping a solid range, but eventually they fight into the clinch. Murphy drops for a takedown. Her initial entry is stuffed, but she partially gets Montano down. Montano hammers Murphy with elbows before fighting her way back up to the feet. They are still in the clinch, and Montano is landing some good knees. Murphy refuses to disengage and is still fighting for takedowns. Montano refuses to go down and cuts Murphy open with a knee to the head. Montano lands more solid blows before turning Montano around. They finally separate from the clinch, and Montano lands a left kick to the body followed by a right hand. Murphy shoots for another takedown, but Montano has it easily scouted. Murphy is pressuring from the clinch, but she can’t get Montano down before the round ends.

Nicco Montano def. Lauren Murphy via unanimous decision (20-18, 20-18, 20-18)

“I did what I had to do to get the win,” Montano says after her stunning upset victory. “‘Whatever it takes’ is our team motto, and I think I demonstrated that pretty well tonight.”

Murphy, who is the first higher seed to fall so far in the tournament, becomes emotional back in the locker room.

“I’m tired of losing,” Murphy says. “I’m so (expletive) tired of losing. I was already coming off a loss coming into this showm and I thought maybe dropping to 125 was going to be the answer to all my problems, and clearly it’s not. I’m away from my family and I just miss them so much. It’s hard to go through a loss like this and be the upset in the show and not have them here to comfort me.”

Team Gaethje takes a 3-1 lead in the competition with Montano’s victory. Team Gaethje takes control of fight selection, and with his choice, coach Gaethje selects No. 5 Maia Stevenson to go up against No. 12 Sijara Eubanks of Team Alvarez next.

Also see:

Catch new episodes of “The Ultimate Fighter 26: A New World Champion” every Wednesday at 10 p.m. ET (7 p.m. PT) on FS1. MMAjunkie recaps each episode of the reality series.

Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

UFC Fight Night 117 pre-event facts: Jessica Andrade 1st female with a dozen UFC fights

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Filed under: Featured, News, UFC

The UFC makes one of its infrequent stops in Japan on Friday with UFC Fight Night 117, which takes place at Saitama Super Arena in Saitama and airs on FXX following early prelims on UFC Fight Pass.

After going through all sorts of changes, the card will feature a light heavyweight main event cobbled together at the last minute when Ovince Saint Preux (20-10 MMA, 8-5 UFC) welcomes former 185-pound title challenger Yushin Okami (34-10 MMA, 13-5 UFC) back to the octagon for the first time in more than four years.

The sport has a lot of history in “The Land of the Rising Sun.” The fighters will attempt to add to that when they step in the cage, but for now, it’s time to see what they’ve accomplished so far. Check below for 40 pre-event facts about UFC Fight Night 117.

* * * *

Main event

Ovince Saint Preux

Saint Preux competes in his fifth UFC main event. He’s 1-3 in previous headliners.

Saint Preux has earned 15 of his 20 career victories by stoppage. That includes six of his eight wins under the UFC banner.

Saint Preux is the only fighter in UFC/WEC/PRIDE/Strikeforce history to earn two submission victories by Von Flue choke.

Saint Preux has earned two of the four Von Flue choke victories in UFC history. Jason Von Flue and Jordan Rinaldi also accomplished the feat.

Saint Preux’s six stoppage victories since 2013 in UFC light-heavyweight competition are the most in the division.

Yushin Okami

Okami returns to the UFC for the first time since September 2013. He suffered a first-round TKO loss to Ronaldo Souza in his most recent appearance at UFC Fight Night 28.

Okami is 5-2 since his initial UFC release in late 2013.

Okami moves up to the UFC light heavyweight division for the first time in 19 promotional appearances.

Okami’s four-fight winning streak is his longest since April 2007.

Okami has earned eight of his 13 UFC victories by decision.

Okami defends 84.6 percent of all opponent takedowns in UFC middleweight competition, the second highest rate in divisional history behind Krzysztof Jotko (86.8 percent).

Co-main event

Claudia Gadelha

Claudia Gadelha’s (15-2 MMA, 4-2 UFC) competes in her seventh UFC strawweight bout, tied with Randa Markos for the second most appearances in divisional history behind Joanna Jedrzejczyk (eight).

Gadelha’s four victories in UFC strawweight competition are tied for third most in divisional history behind Jedrzejczyk (eight) and Tecia Torres (five).

Gadelha enters the event on the first two-fight winning streak of her UFC career.

Gadelha’s 27 takedowns landed in UFC strawweight competition are the most in divisional history.

Jessica Andrade (16-6 MMA, 7-4 UFC) makes her 12th UFC appearance, the most by any female in company history.

Jessica Andrade

Andrade is 3-1 since she dropped to the UFC strawweight division in June 2016.

Andrade’s seven UFC victories are third most of any female in company history behind Jedrzejczyk (eight) and Amanda Nunes (eight).

Andrade landed 206 significant strikes against Rosi Sexton at UFC Fight Night 30, the third most ever in a single UFC fight.

Andrade is one of three female fighters in UFC history to earn victories in two weight classes. Valerie Letourneau and Joanne Calderwood also accomplished the feat.

Remaining main card

Takanori Gomi (35-13 MMA, 4-8 UFC), who competes on his 39th birthday, is the oldest of the 22 fighters scheduled to compete at the event.

Takanori Gomi

Gomi enters the event on a four-fight losing skid, the longest of his career. He’s suffered all four losses by first-round stoppage in a total fight time of 7:39.

Gomi is 1-5 in his past six appearances overall and hasn’t earned a victory since April 2014.

Gomi is one of 12 fighters in UFC/WEC/PRIDE/Strikeforce combined history to earn a winning streak of 10-plus fights.

Gomi recorded the fastest knockout in the history of the now-defunct PRIDE organization when he stopped Ralph Gracie in just six seconds at PRIDE Bushido 3.

”Maestro” Dong Hyun Kim (14-8-3 MMA, 1-2 UFC) is 1-1 since he dropped to the UFC lightweight division in June 2016.

Henrique da Silva (12-3 MMA, 2-3 UFC) enters the event on a three-fight losing skid, the longest of his career. He hasn’t earned a victory since December 2016.

Da Silva has earned all 12 of his career victories by stoppage.

Gokhan Saki (0-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC), a former kickboxing champion, returns to MMA competition for the first time since July 2004.

Teruto Ishihara (9-4-2 MMA, 2-2-1 UFC) has earned eight of his nine career victories by knockout. That includes both of his UFC wins.

Mizuto Hirota (18-8-2 MMA, 1-3-1 UFC) has suffered seven of his eight career losses by decision.

Charles Rosa (11-3 MMA, 2-3 UFC) has alternated wins and losses over his five-fight UFC career.

Rosa has been awarded three “Fight of the Night” bonuses during his five-fight UFC career.

Rosa’s submission of Sean Soriano at 4:43 of Round 3 at UFC Fight Night 59 marked the latest submission ever in a three-round UFC featherweight bout.

Preliminary card

Keita Nakamura (32-8-2 MMA, 2-5 UFC) has suffered all five of his UFC losses by decision.

Jussier Formiga (19-5 MMA, 5-4 UFC) has earned four of his five UFC victories by decision.

Ulka Sasaki (20-4-2 MMA, 3-3 UFC) is 2-1 since he dropped to the UFC flyweight division in May 2016.

Sasaki has earned all three of his UFC victories by submission.

Chan-Mi Jeon (5-0 MMA, 0-0 UFC), 20, is the youngest of the 22 fighters scheduled to compete at the event.

Jeon is the youngest active fighter on the UFC roster.

Hyun Gyu Lim (13-5-1 MMA, 3-2 UFC) has earned his past 11 victories by stoppage. He hasn’t won a fight by decision since his first career victory.

Lim is one of two fighters in UFC history to win two consecutive fights by knockout stemming from a knee strike. Thiago Alves also accomplished the feat.

Shinsho Anzai (9-2 MMA, 1-1 UFC) competes in just his second fight since August 2004.

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

FightMetric research analyst and live statistics producer Michael Carroll contributed to this story. Follow him on Twitter @MJCflipdascript.

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

Bellator 183's Lorenz Larkin despises Paul Daley: 'I've never not liked somebody like this guy'

In an era of MMA where it’s difficult to separate the real beefs from the manufactured ones, Lorenz Larkin’s negative feelings toward Paul Daley comes off as genuine.

How genuine?

So genuine that Larkin (18-6 MMA, 0-1 BMMA) is hardly willing to address Daley (39-15-2 MMA, 5-2 BMMA), who he meets in the Bellator 183 co-main event, ahead of their welterweight fight on Saturday at SAP Center in San Jose, Calif. The card airs on Spike following prelims streamed on MMAjunkie.

During a Bellator 183 pre-fight interview with MMAjunkie, Daley’s name naturally was mentioned to Larkin. Immediately a Bellator PR member noted “The Monsoon” was not going to discuss his upcoming opponent because of some comments Daley had made, specifically ones downplaying Larkin as “below the level of fighter” the Brit is used to facing.

When pushed on the matter, Larkin gave a little bit of insight, but not much. His answer, though, made it obvious he took Daley’s comments personally.

“I just don’t like the mother(expletive), man,” Larkin told MMAjunkie. “I don’t. I’ve never not liked somebody like this guy. I’ve never had a problem in my whole career with a fighter. This is a fighter that I genuinely don’t like. That’s the whole reason for all of this.”

Larkin, No. 8 in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA welterweight rankings, and Daley have been competing in similar circles for many years. Both were fighting under the now-defunct Strikeforce banner before the organization closed its doors in 2013, albeit at the time Larkin was competing at light heavyweight and middleweight while Daley was in the 170-pound division.

According to Larkin, he had no problem with Daley until he started “talking (expletive)” after the matchup was booked. Personal feelings aside, he said he believes Daley is a great fight for him, mainly because there are more weapons at his disposal.

“I just plan on going in there and taking care of business,” Larkin said. “I’m a good style matchup for everybody – this whole division. I’m coming in there like I always do, to fight. He comes in there, and he’s pretty much one-dimensional.”

Larkin knows how meaningful a victory at Bellator 183 would be for his career. Not only because he wants to get one over on Daley, but also due to the fact he needs to rebound from a title-fight loss to champ Douglas Lima at Bellator NYC in June.

After a successful run in the UFC and a lengthy period in free agency, Larkin was inserted into a championship contest in his Bellator debut. He came up short via unanimous decision, but Larkin said the result didn’t discourage him. He wants to get back to another title fight soon, and he plans on using Daley as a pedestal to help get there.

“That’s the goal,” Larkin said. “I got nothing but respect for Lima. I’m going to do all the right things to get me back (to the title). This is just a part of it. This is phase one of getting back there and getting right back to that spot.”

For more on Bellator 183, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.


Filed under: Bellator, News
Source: MMA Junkie

UFC champ Michael Bisping: Georges St-Pierre fight could be my last – win or lose

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Michael Bisping will take sole possession of the record for most UFC fights at UFC 217. The historic trip to the octagon could also be his last.

Retirement is not a foreign topic to Bisping (30-7 MMA, 20-7 UFC), who is scheduled to put his UFC middleweight title on the line against Georges St-Pierre (25-2 MMA, 19-2 UFC) in the Nov. 4 headliner at Madison Square Garden in New York. “The Count” has broached the subject in the past, but it appears he’s more serious now than ever.

Bisping, 38, today appeared on “The MMA Hour” and casually revealed the clash with St-Pierre could be his final fight – win or lose.

“This might be my last-ever fight,” Bisping said. “I don’t know if I’ll fight again after this. What a way to go out if it is. … I don’t know (if I’ll retire). Maybe, there’s a possibility. This may be my last fight. So if everyone wants to see Michael Bisping get knocked out, this is your last chance to do it, guys.”

Bisping made his UFC debut in December 2006 after winning Season 3 of “The Ultimate Fighter.” In that time he’s racked up numerous records. He is tied for the most fights in UFC history (27) and is the record-holder in prestigious categories such as wins (20) and significant strikes landed (1,533).

It’s been a long career for Bisping in which he’s endured many highs and some painful lows. He said his passion for competition hasn’t faded, but given his accomplishments, financial success and growing opportunities outside of fighting, he said the option of retirement is growing increasingly more attractive.

“I’ve done it for so long now,” Bisping said. “There’s other things to do in life. I still love this, don’t get me wrong. You can’t do it forever. Georges should have stayed retired. Georges should have retired as the champion. I’m going to beat Georges, and I’ll retire as the champion – maybe. I haven’t made my mind up on that yet. It depends. If there’s enough money involved, maybe I’ll stick around. I don’t know.

“I’ve got a lot of things going on outside the octagon, and I’m very lucky in that regard. I love fighting. I’ll keep fighting until I’m 50 years old. But, if you truly want a legacy, I say win the belt, defend it a few times and then retire as champion. There’s no better way to go out than that.”

Although part of Bisping is thinking about a dream exit from the sport, he said he’s not looking past St-Pierre. He wants to show the former long-time welterweight champion that he made a grave error deciding to end his four-year retirement against him.

Bisping said he’s not ready to make any bold or final decisions about his future beyond UFC 217. However, he admits the outside noise from those closest to him is difficult to ignore.

“My family wants me to retire, my wife wants me to retire,” Bisping said. “There’s a lot of people saying, ‘Mike, you should retire.’ My manger says it. Everyone says I should retire as champion. I’ve made some money along the way, I’ve had a great career, I’ve represented my country. I’ve received more through mixed martial arts than I ever could have dreamed of. But you can’t go on forever. You have to know when the time is right. I’m not saying the time is right, but I am contemplating. We’ll see.”

For more on UFC 217, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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

UFC-Japan broadcast plans set for FXX, including Alan Jouban's analyst debut

The UFC’s ninth event in Japan takes place Friday when UFC Fight Night 117 goes down from Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, and it’ll feature the in-studio analyst debut of a current UFC fighter.

The card airs on FXX following an early prelim on UFC Fight Pass and is headlined by a light heavyweight bout Ovince Saint Preux (20-10 MMA, 8-5 UFC) and former UFC title challenger Yushin Okami (34-10 MMA, 13-5 UFC).

A FOX Sports official today told MMAjunkie that UFC welterweight Alan Jouban (15-6 MMA, 6-4 UFC) will join the studio crew for the first time. He will accompany UFC champions Daniel Cormier and Michael Bisping at the desk, while Karyn Bryant serves as host. Megan Olivi is set to conduct backstage interviews.

Jouban will join the crew for Thursday’s weigh-in show on FS1, as well as the post-fight show on FXX following the event.

Doing commentary cageside for UFC Fight Night 117 will be the combination of Todd Grisham and former UFC welterweight Dan Hardy.

Jouban, who is coming off a first-round TKO loss to Niko Price at UFC Fight Night 114 in August, is no stranger to being in front of a camera. On top of his dual-career as a model, Jouban also has appeared on FS1’s “UFC Tonight,” UFC Fight Pass’ “UFC Now” program and also co-hosts a weekly podcast.

“Brahma” said he feels comfortable moving into the role as analyst but admitted his greatest challenge is going to be educating fans about athletes who are fresh faces to the UFC roster.

“Being that it is a Friday card, in Japan, there’s going to be some fighters who are making their UFC debut or a Japanese fighter name I’ve never heard or pronounced before,” Jouban told MMAjunkie. “Just making sure I do all the homework on those guys (is important). If this was a pay-per-view card in the states, and there was a bunch of very well known fighters, you know everything about them already. For this you need to do more research.”

Coincidentally, Jouban’s most anticipated matchup at UFC Fight Night 117 involves a promotional newcomer. Former kickboxing standout Gokhan Saki (0-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC) makes his UFC debut, and Jouban said he’s thrilled to see what he can do in MMA.

“He’s always been an undersized heavyweight fighting bigger guys,” Jouban said of Saki. “He was fighting Alistair Overeem when he was ‘The Reem,’ fighting 265 and Gokhan was 220. He’s such a smooth striker. He’s got this Mike Tyson-type style where he digs the body, throws the double left hook, kicks to the head. That’s the fight I’m most looking forward to. How does Saki fair with the four-ounce gloves.”

The full UFC Fight Night 117 card includes:

MAIN CARD (FXX, 10 p.m. ET)

  • Ovince Saint Preux vs. Yushin Okami
  • Jessica Andrade vs. Claudia Gadelha
  • Takanori Gomi vs. “Maestro” Dong Hyun Kim
  • Henrique da Silva vs. Gokhan Saki
  • Rolando Dy vs. Teruto Ishihara
  • Mizuto Hirota vs. Charles Rosa

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

  • Alex Morono vs. Keita Nakamura
  • Jussier Formiga vs. Ulka Sasaki
  • Chan-Mi Jeon vs. Syuri Kondo
  • Shinsho Anzai vs. Luke Jumeau

PRELIMINARY CARD (UFC Fight Pass, 7:30 p.m. ET)

  • Daichi Abe vs. Hyun Gyu Lim

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

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Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

Sean Shelby's Shoes: What's next for Luke Rockhold and UFC Fight Night 116's other winning fighters?

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Filed under: Featured, News, UFC, Videos

Former champ Luke Rockhold returned to the UFC middleweight title contender mix on Saturday when he put a thorough beating on David Branch in the UFC Fight Night 116 main event.

Rockhold’s (16-3 MMA, 6-2 UFC) ground game was far too much for Branch (21-4 MMA, 3-3 UFC) to handle in the FS1-televised headliner, which took place at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh. He battered his opponent with strikes for the second-round stoppage, putting Rockhold back in the queue of 185-pound contenders.

The finish in the main event concluded a main card where five of six fights ended inside the distance. Mike Perry (11-1 MMA, 4-1 UFC), Anthony Smith (27-13 MMA, 4-2 UFC), Gregor Gillespie (10-0 MMA, 3-0 UFC) and Kamaru Usman (11-1 MMA, 6-0 UFC) all stopped their opponents in exciting fashion, while Justin Ledet (9-0 MMA, 3-0 UFC) was alone in winning on the scorecards.

After every event, fans wonder whom the winners will be matched up with next. And with another night of UFC action in the rearview mirror, it’s time to look forward, put on a pair of Sean Shelby and Mick Maynard’s shoes, and play UFC matchmaker for UFC Fight Night 116’s winning fighters.

* * * *

Justin Ledet

Should fight: Dmitriy Sosnovskiy
Why they should fight: In what was arguably the most forgettable bout on the card, Ledet made a successful return from a lengthy layoff with a split-decision victory over short-notice UFC newcomer Zu Anyanwu.

Ledet essentially jabbed his way to a win on the scorecards, giving him a win that pushed him to 3-0 in the UFC heavyweight division. Ledet has shown flashes of brilliance in his fights, but his performance against Anyanwu did not provide much excitement for his next trip to the octagon.

Perhaps Ledet deserves a bit of slack for having to change to a new opponent on short notice. Because of that, he should get the fight he was originally intended for against Sosnovskiy (10-0 MMA, 0-0 UFC). The pair has already been booked to fight twice, but each time it’s fallen through. It’s possible it’s time to just move on from the fight, but given they’ve already trained to face off so many times, it would be interesting to see how it plays out.

Kamaru Usman

Santiago Ponzinibbio

Should fight: Santiago Ponzinibbio
Why they should fight: Usman has been nothing short of sensational since making his UFC debut, and Sergio Moraes was the next victim in his run toward the top of the welterweight division, courtesy of a first-round knockout.

Usman made some bold statements about where he sees himself among the contenders at 170 pounds, and he’s already taken aim at current champion Tyron Woodley. He’s not going to get that fight next, but if he continues to knock people out in a similar fashion to Moraes, it won’t be long until he’s fighting for UFC gold.

By adding dangerous striking to his already existing standout wrestling game, Usman is evolving into a threat on multiple levels. There aren’t many who will be capable of stopping his game, but Ponzinibbio (25-3 MMA, 7-2 UFC) could be equipped to handle it.

The Argentinian is riding the second-longest UFC winning streak in his division behind Usman following his knockout of Gunnar Nelson at UFC Fight Night 113 in July, and a matchup between the two streaking fighters could have a big impact on the future of the weight class.

Gregor Gillespie

Vinc Pichel

Should fight: Vinc Pichel
Why they should fight: Highly regarded lightweight prospect Gillespie had another promising performance early in his career when he submitted Jason Gonzalez in the “Fight of the Night.”

Gillespie improved his record to 10-0 when he came out on the top of a back-and-forth war by submitting Gonzalez with an arm-triangle choke in the second round. “The Gift” has strong wrestling and improving striking, and at 30, still has a lot of upside as someone to watch at 155 pounds.

Gillespie’s first three UFC performances have come against opponents with limited UFC experience. It’s time for that to change, and Pichel (10-1 MMA, 3-1 UFC) is someone who has been around the promotion for several years on top of appearing on “The Ultimate Fighter” reality series.

Pichel is riding a three-fight winning streak with his most recent octagon appearance being a first-round knockout of Damien Brown at UFC Fight Night 110 in June. If he could hand Gillespie his first loss, he would make a big statement that he’s not going to be pushed around by anyone with hype.

Anthony Smith

Uriah Hall

Should fight: Uriah Hall
Why they should fight: The second coming of Smith in the UFC took another memorable step forward when “The Lionheart” scored yet another come-from-behind knockout victory, this time at the expense of Hector Lombard.

After falling behind on the scorecards in the middleweight fight, Smith landed a fight-ending combination of strikes to extend the former Bellator champ’s losing skid to four fights. Smith said prior to the bout that he needed to get past Lombard to prove his worth, and he did just that.

Smith was arguably released prematurely during his first UFC stint in 2013. He’s put together a 4-1 run since coming back this past year, and his maturity is evident. Smith should be in for another noteworthy fight, and Hall (13-8 MMA, 6-6 UFC) fits the description.

Hall scored a massive knockout win of his own against Krzysztof Jotko on the preliminary card, helping him bounce back from a three-fight drought. “Primetime” is a lethal striker when he’s on, and if he shows up on point, Smith would surely have his hands full.

Mike Perry

Thiago Alves

Should fight: Thiago Alves
Why they should fight: Perry did his job against an overmatched short-notice replacement when he scored a 79-second knockout of UFC newcomer Alex Reyes.

Originally meant to fight Alves (22-11 MMA, 14-8 UFC), “Platinum” had no hesitation in taking another matchup when the former UFC title challenger pulled out on three days’ notice. Perry delivered another violent finish due to strikes, and afterward he called out former UFC welterweight champion Robbie Lawler to a future matchup.

Perry deserves credit for aiming high, but it’s likely much bigger fights are in Lawler’s immediate future. Because of that, rebooking the showdown with Alves seems much more realistic. It still makes sense despite Perry’s win, and facing “The Pitbull” still represents the most high-profile fight of his career.

Luke Rockhold

Should fight: Yoel Romero
Why they should fight:
Watch the video above to see why Rockhold should fight Romero (12-2 MMA, 8-1 UFC) next.

For complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 116, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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

Luke Rockhold labels Robert Whittaker 'true champion,' plans eventual move up to 205

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Filed under: News, UFC, Videos

Luke Rockhold is keeping his options open with regard to his future following a successful return to competition from a 15-month layoff at UFC Fight Night 116. That includes a potential change in weight class down the line.

Rockhold’s (16-3 MMA, 6-2 UFC) comeback fight after losing the UFC middleweight title to Michael Bisping in June 2016 went largely free of error on Saturday when he managed to overwhelm David Branch (21-4 MMA, 3-3 UFC) for a second-round stoppage win in the FS1-televised headliner at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh.

After the fight, Rockhold heavily criticized the upcoming 185-pound title fight between Bisping (30-7 MMA, 20-7 UFC) and Georges St-Pierre (25-2 MMA, 19-2 UFC) at UFC 217 on Nov. 4. He said “The Count” will smoke St-Pierre and thinks he should instead get the next title shot because he will put up a real fight.

Rockhold is unlikely to be next in line, though. Interim UFC middleweight champ Robert Whittaker (19-4 MMA, 10-2 UFC) sits atop the queue and is waiting for his unification match against the UFC 217 winner. Rockhold said he would be interested in fighting Whittaker in the meantime, because he views him as the most legitimate titleholder.

“Whittaker is definitely an interesting fight,” Rockhold told MMAjunkie after his main-event win. “I think he’s the true champion right now – the man who fights the fights that count, other than some poser up there running away with the belt.”

It seems illogical for Whittaker to accept another fight before facing the Bisping vs. St-Pierre winner, which leaves Rockhold in a bit of a predicament. A rematch with fellow former UFC champ Chris Weidman (14-3 MMA, 10-3 UFC), who Rockhold defeated by fourth-round TKO at UFC 194 in December 2015, was suggested. However, there doesn’t appear to be much interest, at least from Rockhold’s side.

“Chris Weidman’s lost three in a row,” Rockhold said of Weidman, who is actually coming off a win over Kelvin Gastelum at UFC on FOX 25 in July. “That doesn’t make much sense at this point. I’d rather not do that again at the moment.”

With options limited, Rockhold said a change in weight class could be in his future. His top priority is still to regain the UFC middleweight title, but Rockhold admits his weight cut for UFC Fight Night 116 was among the worst he’s ever endured ahead of a fight.

A move up to the light heavyweight division is almost guaranteed before his career is over, Rockhold said, but he doesn’t intend on jumping up a weight class while his good friend and training partner Daniel Cormier holds the position as UFC champion.

“I’ll fight light heavyweight,” Rockhold said. “The weight cut was rough. I’m not going to lie, it always is. … I’d love to go to light heavyweight. I’d do really well. In the gym, it’s more natural for me. I think I could do things. But ‘DC’ is obviously the man in the division right now. I’m not going up until he gets out. If he goes up or he retires, you can damn well guarantee I’m coming up. I have business to do here first.”

Rockhold’s ability to handle more meaningful business in his division going forward stems from a winning performance against Branch. It wasn’t Rockhold’s best showcase in the octagon, he said, but ultimately he got the job done.

Despite some criticisms of a slow start, Rockhold said the early portions of the fight where he struggled was all about getting his footing back after a long layoff. He managed to get past that and batter Branch into submission with strikes.

“I was OK with (my performance),” Rockhold said. “I didn’t expect him to come forward so hard. I wanted to find my timing, get my range. It was a bit of a weight cut and just trying to get my bearings there in the clinch and figure it out. When I’m best, I wait.”

For complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 116, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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UFC Fight Night 116 post-event facts: Mike Perry's power gaining a reputation

The return of Luke Rockhold was a triumphant one on Saturday when the former UFC middleweight champion defeated David Branch in the UFC Fight Night 116 main event.

After a more than 15-month layoff, Rockhold (16-3 MMA, 6-2 UFC) added another stoppage to his historically illustrious resume in the 185-pound division when he forced Branch (21-4 MMA, 3-3 UFC) to tap out to strikes in the second round on the FS1-televised fight card at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh.

Rockhold’s victory capped off an event which featured eight stoppages out of 10 fights. For more on the numbers behind the card, check below for 40 post-event facts about UFC Fight Night 116.

* * * *

General

The UFC-Reebok Athlete Outfitting payout for the event totaled $92,500.

Debuting fighters went 0-2 at the event.

Mike Perry, Uriah Hall, Gregor Gillespie and Jason Gonzalez earned $50,000 UFC Fight Night 116 fight-night bonuses.

UFC Fight Night 116 drew an announced attendance of 7,005 for a live gate of $396,190.75.

Betting favorites went 7-3 on the card.

Total fight time for the 10-bout card was 1:20:40.

Main card

David Branch and Luke Rockhold

Rockhold has earned 14 of his 16 career victories by stoppage. That includes all six of his wins under the UFC banner.

Rockhold’s 13 stoppage victories in UFC/Strikeforce middleweight competition are the most in combined divisional history.

Branch had his 11-fight winning streak snapped for his first defeat since May 2012.

Branch fell to 1-1 since he returned to the UFC for a second stint in March 2017.

Branch fell to 13-2 since his original release from the UFC in March 2011.

Branch absorbed 58 significant strikes in his loss. He had absorbed just 56 significant strikes in his previous five UFC appearances combined.

Branch suffered his first knockout loss since July 3, 2010 – a span of 2,632 days (more than seven years) and 18 fights.

Mike Perry

Perry (11-1 MMA, 4-1 UFC) has earned all of his career victories by knockout. He’s earned seven of those wins in Round 1.

Perry has landed seven knockdowns in five UFC appearances.

Perry averages 2.58 knockdowns per 15 minutes of fighting in UFC competition, the third-highest rate in company history.

Alex Reyes (12-3 MMA, 0-1 UFC) had his 10-fight winning streak snapped for his first defeat since November 2007.

Reyes suffered his first knockout loss since his MMA debut on Sept. 15, 2007 – a span of 3,654 days (10 years) and 14 fights.

Hector Lombard and Anthony Smith

Anthony Smith (27-13 MMA, 4-2 UFC) is 4-1 since he returned to the UFC for a second stint in February 2016.

Smith improved to 11-2 since his original release from the UFC in June 2013.

Smith has earned 25 of his 28 career victories by stoppage.

Smith has earned all three of his UFC stoppage victories by knockout.

Hector Lombard’s (34-8-1 MMA, 3-6 UFC) four-fight losing skid is the longest of his career. He’s on a five-fight winless skid and hasn’t earned a victory since March 2014.

Lombard fell to 0-3 since he returned to the UFC middleweight division in June 2016. He hasn’t earned his first victory in the weight class since December 2012.

Lombard has suffered all three of his career stoppage losses by knockout.

Gillespie (10-0 MMA, 3-0 UFC) has earned eight of his 10 career victories by stoppage.

Gonzalez (11-4 MMA, 1-2 UFC) has suffered all four of his career losses by stoppage.

Kamaru Usman

Kamaru Usman (11-1 MMA, 6-0 UFC) extended his winning streak to 10 fights. He hasn’t suffered a defeat since May 2013.

Usman’s six-fight UFC winning streak in welterweight competition is the longest active streak in the division.

Usman did not attempt a takedown for the first time in his UFC career.

Sergio Moraes (12-3-1 MMA, 6-2-1 UFC) suffered his first knockout loss since Oct. 17, 2009 – a span of 2,891 days (nearly eight year) and 10 fights.

Justin Ledet (9-0 MMA, 3-0 UFC) improved to 4-0 with one no-contest since he returned to MMA competition after a nearly four-year layoff.

Ledet’s three-fight UFC winning streak in heavyweight competition is tied for the third longest active streak in the division behind Stipe Miocic (five) and Francis Ngannou (five).

Preliminary card

Olivier Aubin-Mercier (10-2 MMA, 6-2 UFC) has completed at least one takedown against seven of his eight UFC opponents.

Anthony Hamilton (15-8 MMA, 3-6 UFC) suffered his third consecutive loss, the longest skid of his career.

Hamilton has suffered five of his six UFC losses by stoppage.

Hall (13-8 MMA, 6-6 UFC) snapped his three-fight losing skid for his first victory since September 2015.

Hall has earned 11 of his 13 career victories by stoppage. That includes five of his six UFC victories.

Krzysztof Jotko (19-3 MMA, 6-3 UFC) suffered the first knockout loss of his career.

Gilbert Burns (12-2 MMA, 5-2 UFC) has earned 11 of his 12 career victories by stoppage.

Jason Saggo (12-4 MMA, 3-3 UFC) suffered the first knockout loss of his career.

For complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 116, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

FightMetric research analyst and live statistics producer Michael Carroll contributed to this story. Follow him on Twitter @MJCflipdascript.

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Source: MMA Junkie

Thiago Alves stands behind UFC-Pittsburgh withdrawal, says Mike Perry still has 'ass whooping' coming

Thiago Alves made history this past week when he withdrew from a scheduled UFC bout for a record eighth time in his career. It’s a dubious footnote to have on his resume, but he doesn’t regret his decision in the slightest.

Alves (22-11 MMA, 14-8 UFC) was booked to fight Mike Perry in Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 116 co-headliner, which took place at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh. “The Pitbull,” who lives and trains in Florida, was in the path of Hurricane Irma, but instead of leaving early to avoid the storm like some other fighters based in the state, opted to stay put.

That decision ultimately cost the former UFC welterweight title challenger his ability to compete. He was unable to travel to Pittsburgh and was therefore forced to withdraw from the matchup with Perry on just three days’ notice. The Brazilian received some heat over the situation, but he said he was simply prioritizing the safety of his family, and he won’t apologize for that (via Instagram):

Instagram Photo

This was my first hurricane as a husband and a father. The safety of my family it’s my duty and they will always come first! Still, i did make every attempt suggested by the UFC Travel Team to get to Pittsburgh besides taking a “Road Trip” with my wife and my 13 months son when the whole state of FL was evacuating. All my flights continued to get cancelled from Friday am all the way to Tuesday 11 pm. After spending 6 hours at the airport with no real idea when I would make to the fight, having no electricity, sleeping in the gym with my family, and dealing with my dog dying from heat exhaustion … I decided to stay with my family and rebuild. I will never apologize for that, it’s not in my nature.

I have too much love and respect for my Sport, Family, Team and the MMA Fans to go to war not being 100% ready. Me and the UFC are in great terms, they understand my decision. I’ve been with the company for 12 years. I’ve known Sean Shelby for a very long time and he knows I always come to fight. I trained for 16 weeks bc this fight was originally happening in August. If I don’t fight I don’t get paid, so nobody suffers but Me and My Family. I’m ready and will stay ready. I should be rebooked by December. My support to everyone that went through Hurricane Irma. My thoughts and prays are with you #RipTanky

Perry (11-1 MMA, 4-1 UFC) ultimately defeated short-notice replacement Alex Reyes (12-3 MMA, 0-1 UFC) by first-round knockout at UFC Fight Night 116. He accused Alves of “ducking” him after the bout, but given his explanation the decision to withdraw comes across as an understandable one.

Alves said he hopes to fight again before the end of the year, and it appears he still wants a piece of Perry (via Twitter):

For complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 116, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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David Branch on tapping to strikes at UFC-Pittsburgh: 'I didn't just give up'

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PITTSBURGH – David Branch insists his loss to Luke Rockholdin the UFC Fight Night 116 won’t prevent him from his ultimately goal of becoming middleweight champion.

In the most high-profile fight of his career, Branch (21-4 MMA, 3-3 UFC) suffered a second-round stoppage loss to Rockhold (16-3, 6-2 UFC) in the headlining bout of the FS1-televised card at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh. It was his first defeat in more than five years, and one that he admits showed he has more to do before contending with the absolute elite of his weight class.

“I’m right there,” Branch told MMAjunkie after his loss. “I’ve just got more work to do. I’m not going to stop now. It’s taken me too long. I will be back. I will return. I came to the UFC to be the champion and I’m not going to let anything deter me. I’ve had these falls before. I know how to deal with these things. I’ve come back from adversity before and I’m going to do it again.

“I learned a lot. Not losing in almost six years – perhaps victory defeated me. Getting comfortable, winning all the time and losing a little bit of that fear of losing again. Now I have it again, the same way he had it. When I come back out there again I’m going to be real hungry.”

Branch had some success early in the fight, clipping Rockhold with a series of strikes during a combination. The former two-division WSOF champion was the aggressor in the opening round and took it on all three judges’ scorecards, but then the tide turned.

In Round 2, Rockhold took Branch to the mat and put his dangerous ground game to use, eventually climbing on Branch back and pounding him with strikes until he decided to tap out from punishment. Branch received criticism from fellow fighters for tapping out before the referee jumped in, but his explanation for doing so was all about future self-preservation.

“I just got caught in a position that I couldn’t escape,” Branch said. “I tried to take the punishment as much as I could, I got busted up a little bit and I decided to save the fight for another day and just come back stronger. I took as much punishment as I could. I didn’t just give up. Eventually it came, but I took a lot of knocks before that happened.”

Despite a beaming level of pre-fight confidence that he would beat Rockhold at UFC Fight Night 116, Branch ultimately fell short of his goal. He said he has no excuses for the outcome not going his way, and promises to fill out the holes in his game the next time he steps in the octagon.

“He was the better man tonight,” Branch said. “He defeated me fair and square. I did not go out there to try to lose that fight. I worked really, really had for a long time leading up to this. I thought the skills that I had and the effort would be enough to get the victory tonight, but apparently it wasn’t. There’s a lot I’ve got to go back and address.”

For complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 116, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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