UFC 215's Kajan Johnson says UFC debuting new program to benefit fighters in October

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EDMONTON – UFC lightweight Kajan Johnson didn’t fear for his job stepping into the octagon against Adriano Martins.

Despite his very public confrontation with the UFC and Reebok, he didn’t think he was skating on thin ice.

“I was coming off two wins, so if I lost, I doubt I would have gotten cut,” Johnson (22-12-1 MMA, 3-1 UFC) said backstage after stopping Martins (28-9 MMA, 4-3 UFC) in the UFC Fight Pass opener of UFC 215 at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. “If I lost two in a row, I probably would have gotten cut – say I just kept picking and poking at this guy, and I never got the knockout and it went to decision and I lost, and then I had another fight and it was a similar situation.”

Johnson did, in fact, pick and poke at Martins, leading many in the arena to boo the fight. But then, he turned things around in a big way, stopping Martins with a punch behind a front kick in the third round.

“I think it’s my years of skateboarding, to tell you the truth, because of the way you kick in skateboarding,” Johnson explained of his finishing move.

All levity aside, it couldn’t have been a better return for the 33-year-old Johnson, who spent two years on the bench dealing with injuries. His confrontation, which spurred a private meeting with UFC and Reebok officials, came while he was on the disabled list.

It’s well known that many fighters who’ve spoken out about the promotion have found slimmer margins of competitive tolerance from their employer after going public. Johnson claimed before his fight the promotion was trying to put him in his place.

The good news, however, is that his protest appears to have motivated change. Johnson said the UFC is planning to roll out a new program in October that will “have some positive effect on our abilities to make revenue.” He said it’s not related to Reebok but will, in the end, improve fighters’ bottom lines. He also said the promotion will be “more one-on-one” with athletes and conduct more fighter retreats so they can voice concerns and brainstorm solutions.

Ultimately, Johnson said the best course of action will be when fighters organize. A member of Mixed Martial Arts Fighters Association (MMAFA), he supports the bill currently in Congress to add MMA to the Ali Act, which affords protections to boxers against onerous contracts. He said there are now 36 co-sponsors to the action, which is more than the number that sponsored the original bill.

“We’re moving in the right direction,” he said.

It just so happens Johnson’s career is now moving in the right direction, too. And funny enough, he likes the new Reebok gear unveiled this past week.

“Super dope,” he said.

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

And for complete coverage of UFC 215, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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Source: MMA Junkie

UFC 215 post-event facts: Which fighter tied an 11-year-old UFC record?

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The UFC made a successful debut in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, on Saturday with UFC 215, which took place at Rogers Place with a main card on pay-per-view following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass.

The 11-fight card was capped off by a razor-thin title defense from UFC women’s bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes (15-4 MMA, 8-1 UFC), who edged rival Valentina Shevchenko (14-3 MMA, 3-2 UFC) by split decision in their anticipated title rematch.

Nunes’ victory continued to raise her profile in the divisional record books, but she wasn’t the only fighter on the card to make some history. For more, check below for 35 post-even facts to come out of UFC 215.

* * * *

General

Amanda Nunes

The UFC-Reebok Athlete Outfitting payout for the event totaled $185,000.

Rafael dos Anjos, Henry Cejudo, Jeremy Stephens and Gilbert Melendez earned $50,000 UFC 215 fight-night bonuses.

Debuting fighters went 1-0 on the card.

UFC 215 drew an announced attendance of 16,232 for a live gate of $2,028,307.14.

Betting favorites went 6-5 on the card.

Total fight time for the 11-bout card was 2:06:50.

Main card

Amanda Nunes and Valentina Shevchenko

Nunes’ six-fight UFC winning streak in women’s bantamweight competition is the longest active streak in the division.

Nunes’ eight victories in UFC women’s bantamweight competition are the most in divisional history.

Shevchenko has suffered both of her UFC losses to Nunes.

Shevchenko has suffered both of her UFC losses by decision.

Shevchenko failed to complete a takedown in a fight for the first time in her UFC career.

Rafael dos Anjos

Dos Anjos (27-9 MMA, 16-7 UFC) improved to 2-0 since he moved up to the UFC welterweight division in June 2017.

Dos Anjos earned his first submission victory since May 15, 2012 – a span of 1,943 days (more than five years) and 14 fights.

Neil Magny (19-6 MMA, 12-5 UFC) has suffered four of his six career losses by submission.

Henry Cejudo

Cejudo (11-2 MMA, 5-2 UFC) earned the first stoppage victory of his UFC career.

Wilson Reis (22-8 MMA, 6-4 UFC) fell to 5-3 since he dropped to the UFC flyweight division in August 2014.

Tyson Pedro (6-1 MMA, 2-1 UFC) had his six-fight winning streak snapped for the first defeat of his career.

Stephens (26-14 MMA, 13-13 UFC) improved to 6-5 since he dropped to the UFC featherweight division in May 2013.

Jeremy Stephens

Stephens has earned four of his six featherweight victories by decision.

Stephens’ five knockdowns landed tied the single-fight UFC record set by Forrest Petz vs. Sammy Morgan at UFC Fight Night 6 in 2006.

Melendez (22-7 MMA, 1-5 UFC) suffered his fourth consecutive loss to extend the longest skid of his career. He’s 1-5 in his past six bouts overall and hasn’t earned a victory since October 2013.

Melendez was unsuccessful in his UFC featherweight debut. He hasn’t earned a victory in the weight class since August 2005.

Melendez has suffered six of his seven career losses by decision.

Preliminary card

Ketlen Vieira and Sara McMann

Ketlen Vieira’s (9-0 MMA, 3-0 UFC) three-fight UFC winning streak in women’s bantamweight competition is tied for the third longest active streak in the division behind Nunes (six) and Raquel Pennington (four).

Sara McMann (11-4 MMA, 5-4 UFC) has suffered three of her four career losses by stoppage.

Ashlee Evans-Smith (5-3 MMA, 2-3 UFC) has suffered both of her career stoppage losses by submission.

Gavin Tucker (10-1 MMA, 1-1 UFC) had his 10-fight winning streak snapped for the first defeat of his career.

Mitch Clarke

Mitch Clarke (11-5 MMA, 2-5 UFC) suffered his third consecutive loss to extend the longest skid of his career.

Clarke retired from MMA following his defeat.

Alex White (12-3 MMA, 3-3 UFC) improved to 1-1 since he moved up to the UFC lightweight division in January.

White has earned 10 of his 12 career victories by stoppage.

Luis Henrique (10-4 MMA, 2-3 UFC) suffered the first decision loss of his career.

Henrique failed to complete a takedown for the first time in his UFC career.

Kajan Johnson

Kajan Johnson (22-11-1 MMA, 3-1 UFC) earned his first knockout victory since Nov. 6, 2009 – a span of 2,864 days (nearly eight years) and seven fights.

Adriano Martins (28-9 MMA, 4-3 UFC) has suffered both of his UFC stoppage losses by knockout.

For complete coverage of UFC 215, 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

UFC 215 Athlete Outfitting pay: 2017 payout total passes $4 million

EDMONTON – Fighters from Saturday’s UFC 215 event took home UFC Athlete Outfitting pay, a program that launched after the UFC’s deal with Reebok, totaling $185,000.

UFC 215 took place at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, and the main card aired on pay-per-view following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass.

Leading the way was UFC women’s bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes (15-4 MMA, 8-1 UFC), who as a titleholder earned a maximum program payout of $40,000. “The Lioness” earned a split-decision victory over Valentina Shevchenko (14-3 MMA, 3-2 UFC) in the main event.

With UFC 215 in the books, the UFC’s 2017 annual outfitting payout pushed past $4 million.

The full UFC 215 UFC Athlete Outfitting payouts included:

Amanda Nunes: $40,000
def. Valentina Shevchenko: $30,000

Rafael dos Anjos: $20,000
def. Neil Magny: $15,000

Henry Cejudo: $5,000
def. Wilson Reis: $5,000

Ilir Latifi: $5,000
def. Tyson Pedro: $2,500

Jeremy Stephens: $20,000
def. Gilbert Melendez: $5,000

Ketlen Vieira: $2,500
def. Sara McMann: $5,000

Sarah Moras: $2,500
def. Ashlee Evans-Smith: $2,500

Rick Glenn: $2,500
def. Gavin Tucker: $2,500

Alex White: $5,000
def. Mitch Clarke: $5,000

Arjan Bhullar: $2,500
def. Luis Henrique: $2,500

Kajan Johnson: $2,500
def. Adriano Martins: $5,000

Under the UFC Athlete Outfitting program’s payout tiers, which appropriate the money generated by Reebok’s multi-year sponsorship with the UFC, fighters are paid based on their total number of UFC bouts, as well as Zuffa-era WEC fights (January 2007 and later) and Zuffa-era Strikeforce bouts (April 2011 and later). Fighters with 1-5 bouts receive $2,500 per appearance; 6-10 bouts get $5,000; 11-15 bouts earn $10,000; 16-20 bouts pocket $15,000; and 21 bouts and more get $20,000. Additionally, champions earn $40,000 while title challengers get $30,000.

In addition to experience-based pay, UFC fighters will receive in perpetuity royalty payments amounting to 20-30 percent of any UFC merchandise sold that bears their likeness, according to officials.

Year-to-date total: $4,050,000
2016 total: $7,138,000
2015 total: $3,185,000
Program-to-date total: $14,373,000

For complete coverage of UFC 215, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

Video: 2 sleepy rounds, then a sudden finish for Kajan Johnson in UFC 215's opener

If you missed the fight between Kajan Johnson and Adriano Martins to kick off today’s UFC 215 prelims, maybe do yourself a favor and skip to the third round on the replay.

That’s our polite way of saying that the first two rounds would serve as an effective sleep aid, but it wasn’t from a lack of effort on Martins’ (28-9 MMA, 4-3 UFC) part. The Brazilian did the majority of the work in the first two frames, chasing after Johnson (22-12-1 MMA, 3-1 UFC) as he did a quick tour of the octagon’s perimeter.

In the first 10 minutes of action, Johnson threw just 29 strikes, according to FightMetric. By comparison, Martins threw 30 just in the second round alone.

But as we were reminded in the third, it’s not always how many you throw, but what you do with them (via Twitter):

Johnson proved that in the opening minute of the final round, as he caught a Martins kick and landed a right hand that seemed to glance off Martins’ ear. At first it looked more like a miss than a hit, but then Martins hit the mat and froze there in a full system shutdown.

Even Johnson seemed a tad bit confused after he followed up with two right hands to prompt the knockout stoppage, at which point he moved toward the center of the cage for the first time all night, seeming to mouth the words: “What happened?”

The answer is that Johnson got his first win in almost exactly two years. And if you only pay attention to the highlights, it’s a pretty good one.

For more on UFC 215, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

The Blue Corner is MMAjunkie‘s official blog and is edited by Mike Bohn.

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UFC 215 results: Kajan Johnson's right hand stuns Adriano Martins

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Following nearly two years away from the cage, Kajan Johnson (22-12-1 MMA, 3-1 UFC) didn’t exactly impress for two rounds but eventually scored a highlight-reel finish of Adriano Martins (28-9 MMA, 4-3 UFC).

The lightweight bout kicked off today’s UFC 215 early prelims, which took place at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, and aired on UFC Fight Pass

Johnson moved well to start, shifting laterally on the outside as he looked to get comfortable in the cage. Meanwhile, Martins was patient in the center, looking to cut off the cage and set up a striking opportunity. Johnson stayed true to the plan as the first round unfolded, but the lack of engagement proved less than thrilling for the fans for most of the frame. Kicks proved the best weapon for both men for most of the round, until Martins scored a pair of big left hands, the second of which sent Johnson to the floor.

Martins refused to leave the center of the cage to start the second, attempting to slow Johnson’s constant movement. However, he eventually waded forward and looked to push the pace with strikes as Johnson continued his lateral shifting. Johnson did land the occasional kick from the outside, but there was never any threat of a real sustained attack. In the final minute of the frame, Martins did again return to the center and motion for his opponent to do the same, but Johnson simply smiled and returned to the outside, landing his best punch of the frame with a right hand in the closing seconds.

With little offense between the two heading into the third, neither man could feel confident in the judges’ tallies. Martins looked to push inside early, but Johnson countered with a right hand that landed over the ear, sending his opponent crashing to the canvas, out cold 49 seconds into the final round.

With the win, Johnson now owns a three-fight winning streak. Martins has dropped back-to-back fights for the firs time in his UFC run.

Up-to-the-minute UFC 215 results include:

  • Kajan Johnson def. Adriano Martins via knockout (punch) – Round 3, 0:49

For more on UFC 215, visit the UFC Events section of the site.

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Source: MMA Junkie

10 reasons to watch UFC 215 (*sigh* – even without Demetrious Johnson's shot at history)

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It’s funny how fast things can change in the UFC. One day flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson is headlining UFC 215, an event where he has the opportunity to break the all-time record for consecutive UFC title defenses. The next day women’s bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes is fighting in the main event.

This despite the fact UFC President Dana White recently said Nunes would not get the chance to headline another fight card.

A viral illness to Johnson’s opponent, Ray Borg, is the reason behind the change. Borg was ruled unfit to compete by the UFC medical team less than 12 hours before weigh-ins.

In the new main event, Nunes, the only woman not named Ronda Rousey to successfully defend the women’s bantamweight title, puts her belt on the line against top-ranked contender Valentina Shevchenko. Coincidentally, this matchup was rebooked for UFC 215 after Nunes withdrew from UFC 213 after weigh-ins for health reasons.

The welterweight fight between Neil Magny and former lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos is the new co-main event.

UFC 215 takes place at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. The main card airs on pay-per-view following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass.

Here are 10 reasons to watch the event.

1. Something to prove

UFC President Dana White was unhappy with Nunes when she withdrew from her UFC 213 fight against Shevchenko the morning of the event. Some fans think Nunes, No. 1 in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA women’s bantamweight rankings, withdrew from the fight not due to chronic sinusitis, but because she was afraid of Shevchenko (14-2 MMA, 3-1 UFC). No. 2-ranked Shevchenko accused Nunes (14-4 MMA, 7-1 UFC) of “backing out because of a flubbed weight cut. The thing about all that is, Nunes doesn’t care.

“Honestly, I don’t really worry about what people think,” Nunes said during a recent conference call.

Despite her claim, one wonders, does Nunes have a point to prove? And if she does, is Nunes going to put herself at risk by being ultra-aggressive against Shevchenko?

Nunes has fought three full rounds on only two occasions; she’s never gone five. Nunes lost one of her three-round bouts, and in the other, against Shevchenko, she faded, leaving everyone to wonder if Shevchenko would have won had the fight been a five-rounder. With Nunes defending her title in this bout, we could get an answer to that question.

2. Looking up

After 34 lightweight fights, former 155-pound champion dos Anjos moved to welterweight. In his 170-pound debut, he earned a unanimous-decision win over former Strikeforce champion Tarec Saffiedine. After his victory, dos Anjos said he wanted to work his way up the rankings. He gets his wish at UFC 215 where he meets No. 10-ranked Magny.

Where dos Anjos and Saffiedine were close in height and reach, that’s not the case with Magny. Magny (19-5 MMA, 12-4 UFC) has a 10-inch reach advantage and a 7-inch height advantage over dos Anjos (26-9 MMA, 15-7 UFC).

Dos Anjos wanted a test, and he gets one in Magny. If he can deal with the lanky Magny, who’s coming off a win over former champion Johny Hendricks, expect dos Anjos to ask for a top-five opponent in his next outing.

3. Stay in the mix

Two recent victims of “Mighty” Johnson, Henry Cejudo and Wilson Reis, meet in an important flyweight bout.

No. 8-ranked Reis (22-7 MMA, 6-3 UFC) was on a three-fight winning streak before a submission loss to Johnson. Cejudo (10-2 MMA, 4-2 UFC), currently ranked No. 3 in the division, was a perfect 10-0 before his April 2016 TKO loss to Johnson.

Reis hasn’t fought since losing to Johnson. Cejudo is currently on a two-fight skid after dropping a split decision to perennial top contender Joseph Benavidez in December.

The winner of this fight should stay in the mix for another shot at the flyweight title. The loser could find himself relegated to gatekeeper, testing the next generation of 125-pounders – fighters such as Sergio Pettis, Brandon Moreno, Ben Nguyen and Alexandre Pantoja.

4. Getting things done fast

Tyson Pedro has been a wrecking machine since turning pro in 2013. He’s ended all six of his bouts, including two with the UFC, in the first round. At UFC 215, he faces Ilir Latifi, who has 18 fights on his record.

Pedro, an honorable mention in the light heavyweight rankings, has looked good during his limited octagon time. He displayed sound submission skills in his win over Khalil Rountree and vicious ground strikes when he knocked out Paul Craig.

Latifi will be at a height and reach disadvantage in this contest. That has not been an issue for him in the past. He’s knocked out fighters nearly as tall as Pedro (6-0 MMA, 2-0 UFC) and submitted taller opponents. Latifi (12-5 MMA, 5-3 UFC) is not the most active striker, but his one-punch knockout power makes up for his low output. Like Pedro, Latifi tends to get things done quickly after racking up eight career first-round stoppages, with four of those coming in the UFC.

5. Trying something new

Things have not gone well for former Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez since he joined the UFC. His record with the promotion is 1-4, he was suspended for a failed drug test, and he’s fought only three times in the past 33 months. At UFC 215, Melendez makes the drop to featherweight in the hope of making a title run.

Melendez’s opponent is another former lightweight, Jeremy Stephens. The vet made his drop in 2013. Since then, he’s gone 5-5, and he’s 2-3 in his past five outings.

Stephens (25-14 MMA, 12-13 UFC) is one of the more powerful punchers in the division, but as we saw in his recent loss to Renato Moicano, if his opponent stays in motion and out of range, Stephens can become ineffective and frustrated. Melendez (22-6 MMA, 1-4 UFC) could follow Moicano’s blueprint, but on the other hand, Melendez has never been afraid to brawl.

6. No takedowns allowed

Former women’s bantamweight title challenger Sara McMann is on the best run of her UFC career., She’s an accomplished wrestler who’s won three straight, with her two most recent wins being her first two submission victories with the UFC. Currently ranked No. 9 in the division, McMann looks to extend her winning streak against No. 15-ranked, and unbeaten, Ketlen Vieira.

McMann has opened up her striking and relied less on her wrestling as of late. That could come in handy; Vieira (8-0 MMA. 2-0 UFC), like McMann (11-3 MMA, 5-3 UFC), has defended all of her opponents’ takedown attempts.

Vieira is a black belt in judo. She also has an aggressive striking game that progressed exponentially between her first and second UFC fights.

If this one stays off the mat, it could be a barnburner of a striking battle.

7. Let’s see the second act

Gavin Tucker

Gavin Tucker’s UFC debut against Sam Sicilia couldn’t have gone better. Tucker entered the fight with an unbeaten record, but there were questions about his ability to face UFC-level talent.

Tucker displayed fantastic speed, movement and footwork against Sicilia. On more than one occasion, UFC commentator Brian Stann compared Tucker to bantamweight champion Cody Garbrandt. Tucker dominated Sicilia. In fact, by the third round, he was more or less clowning Sicilia.

Tucker (10-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC), who established himself as a featherweight to watch with that decision win, faces tough as nails Rick Glenn in Edmonton. Glenn (19-4 MMA, 1-1 UFC) is coming off a split-decision win over Phillipe Nover.

8. Turn it around

Mitch Clarke and Alex White both entered the UFC with unbeaten records. Clarke (11-4 MMA, 2-4 UFC) built a 9-0 record on the Canadian MMA circuit. White (11-3 MMA, 2-3 UFC) was 9-0, fighting almost exclusively in Missouri.

Since joining the UFC, the fortunes of these two lightweights have changed. Clarke’s UFC record stands at 2-4 while White is 2-3.

Fighting in one of the deepest divisions, these two need to get back in the win column in a bad way.

Clarke might be under more pressure in this fight. The matchup against White is an opportunity for him to fight in front of his hometown fans for the first time under the UFC banner. It also marks the first time he’s had the chance to compete in more than a year due to knee injuries.

9. The lone debut

Luis Henrique

Arjan Bhullar is the only fighter making his promotional debut at UFC 215. He represented Canada in freestyle wrestling at the 2012 Olympics. After his wrestling career ended, he transitioned to MMA. He captured the Battlefield Fight League heavyweight title in his third pro fight.

Bhullar was the first Indian to represent Canada in freestyle wrestling at the Olympics. He is now the first fighter of South Asian descent to fight in the UFC. It would be an understatement to say Bhullar (6-0 MMA, 0-0 UFC) feels a sense of pride and responsibility heading into his bout against Luis Henrique (10-3 MMA, 2-2 UFC).

10. A big favorite

Adriano Martins enters his lightweight bout against Kajan Johnson as more than a 4-1 favorite. The former Jungle Fight champion is a tremendous striking threat. The problem with Martins is, though he has one-punch knockout power, he’s not very active. He lands just 1.85 significant strikes per minute. That inactivity might have been the reason he dropped a split decision to Leonardo Santos in his most recent fight.

If Martins (28-8 MMA, 4-2 UFC) wants to face higher level competition, as he did early in his UFC run, he needs to up his aggression or score a fourth fight-night bonus award. The latter might be a possibility because the active Johnson (21-12-1 MMA, 2-1 UFC) will provide Martins opportunities to land big counterstrikes.

Johnson has not fought since he earned a decision over Naoyuki Kotani in September 2015.

For more on UFC 215, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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Source: MMA Junkie

In-depth main-card breakdown: 'UFC 215: Johnson vs. Borg'

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Filed under: Featured, News, UFC

MMAjunkie Radio cohost and MMAjunkie contributor Dan Tom provides an in-depth breakdown of all of UFC 215’s main-card bouts.

UFC 215 takes place Saturday at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. The main card airs on pay-per-view following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass.

* * * *

Demetrious Johnson (26-2-1 MMA, 14-1-1 UFC)

Demetrious Johnson

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’3″ Age: 31 Weight: 125 lbs. Reach: 66″
  • Last fight: Submission win over Wilson Reis (April 15, 2017)
  • Camp: AMC Pankration (Kirkland, Wash.)
  • Stance/striking style: Switch-stance/kickboxing
  • Risk management: Excellent

Supplemental info:
+ UFC flyweight champion
+ Amateur MMA tites
+ 5 KO wins
+ 9 submission victories
+ 9 first-round finishes
+ Relentless pace and pressure
+ Incredible speed
+ Superb footwork
^ Finds and creates angles
+ Diverse arsenal of attack
^ Variates timing and techniques
+ Adjusts well throughout fight
+ Creative clinch game
^ Stifles, strikes, sets up takedowns
+ Excellent transitional grappler
+ Never slows / recovers well

Ray Borg (11-2 MMA, 5-2 UFC)

Ray Borg

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’4″ Age: 30 Weight: 125 lbs. Reach: 63″
  • Last fight: Decision win over Jussier Formiga (March 11, 2016)
  • Camp: Jackson-Wink MMA (New Mexico)
  • Stance/striking style: Orthodox/Kickboxing
  • Risk management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+ Regional MMA title
+ Wrestling base
+ 1 KO victory
+ 6 submission wins
+ 4 first-round finishes
+ Aggressive pace and pressure
+ Improved overall striking
^ Defensively and offensively
+ Excellent takedown ability
^ Solid level changes and chains
+ Superb scrambler / transitional grappler
^ Always looks for back
+ Works well from topside
^ Floats and rides smoothly
+ Effective ground striker
^ Dangerous elbows

Summary:

The main event for UFC 215 is a title fight in the flyweight division as Demetrious Johnson takes on Ray Borg.

Considered by many to be the sport’s best pound-for-pound tactician,“Mighty Mouse” Johnson has continued to display dominance amongst his contemporaries. Currently tied with Anderson Silva for most title defenses in UFC history (10), Johnson will attempt to further cement his name in the history books of MMA.

Seeking to spoil the party is “The Tazmexican Devil” Borg, the division’s No. 3-ranked contender (according to the UFC), who has long-been considered a dark horse by many. Now, tasked with his tallest order to date, Borg will attempt to upset the oddsmakers as he goes trophy hunting at the highest level.

Starting off on the feet, I suspect the champion, Johnson, will have his biggest on-paper advantages, as I see his speed and footwork playing his most crucial role for success. Since entering the organization in 2011, we have seen steady but tangible improvements from Johnson.

Demonstrating a preternatural sense of range, Johnson has been able to apply his speed to techniques, as he finds angles beautifully from both stances. Not only can the champion fight from each side, but he can also shift smoothly between southpaw and orthodox as he attacks in combination.

Still, Johnson will need to respect what is coming back at him, as Borg will have offense of his own to offer. A quick, explosive striker himself, the New Mexican native has been steadily sharpening his game under the care of Brandon Gibson and the rest of the staff at Jackson-Wink MMA.

Demonstrating improvements to his head movement and footwork, Borg can now better facilitate the strikes that he likes to throw. And considering that Borg throws sharp hooks and uppercuts with an occasional flying knee, he could come up big against an opponent who is consistently dipping and/or changing his level.

Regardless of how striking stanzas play out, I believe that the clinch battles will be the make-or-break point of this matchup, making it a key junction for both men.

Despite the clinch being a gateway for Borg to get this fight to the floor, it is also a pathway that can be deceptive to pass through considering the clinching acumen of the champion. A flow master and multi-tasker, there is no better examples of Johnson’s brilliance than when watching the evolution of his game inside of the clinch.

After being dropped in his first fight with John Dodson, Johnson intelligently adjusted by taking the fight into the clinch. Using a myriad of grips to trips, or strikes into high-crotch hikes, Johnson has developed quite the taste for breaking his opponents in close.

Since then, we have only seen these skills sharpened as we witnessed the champion dismember an Olympic wrestler within his comfort of the clinch, using brutal knees to break down his opposition.

Nevertheless, Johnson cannot afford to be caught sleeping or shifting gears in this space, as Borg is no slouch in tight. An excellent chain wrestler himself, Borg is relentless in his pursuit of the takedown, creatively utilizing his opponent’s levers against them.

Even if Borg fails to ground the champion, he could still create problems by simply doing enough to open up a scramble opportunity – a space the New Mexican native has proven to thrive within.

As his nickname would indicate, Borg is a ravenous scrambler who looks to snatch up submissions and positions in transit. That said, Borg’s game will need to be air-tight, as Johnson has shown that he can play the role of an escape artist when necessary.

Staying calm and composed at all times, Johnson typically uses textbook techniques to get out of very troublesome spots. Often utilizing a single-leg to lever himself to safety and or control a scramble, the champion will usually reverse position or break away with success.

The potential problem – in my opinion – is that the process of turtling out or into your opponent traditionally gives way to back-takes and front-headlocks, positions that are arguably Borg’s best spots.

Working well from the front-headlock, Borg has displayed an array of submission and positional threats as he sets up the back mount well from here. And given the success both Ian McCall and Tim Elliot had against Johnson from the front headlock, I would not be surprised to see Borg force the issue should he end up there.

Ultimately, it is hard to see either man easily getting ahead of the other on the mat without having to earn it first. Although the oddsmakers are not giving the challenger much of a chance at +800 odds, let’s not forget that there was a time where Borg was one of the few fighters pulling -800 lines in his favor.

Still, the numbers do arguably reflect the task at hand as the New Mexican native will need to venture deep into the woods to get his kill. And though I do not doubt Borg’s belief in himself for a second, it is hard to go against the best all-terrain fighter in the sport, as I see Johnson doing the bulk of his damage standing and in the clinch, frustrating the title challenger as he finds his finish in the later rounds.

Official pick: Johnson by decision

Official outcome: To be determined

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

UFC 215 lineup set with 2 title fights in Edmonton, including Demetrious Johnson's quest for record

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Filed under: Featured, News, UFC

The lineup is set for the UFC’s return trip to Canada next month, including a pair of title fights at the top of the bill.

The card features a dozen fights on Sept. 9 at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. The main card airs on pay-per-view following four prelims on FS1 and three on UFC Fight Pass.

In the main event, flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson (26-2-1 MMA, 14-1-1 UFC) looks for his record 11th consecutive title defense when he takes on challenger Ray Borg (11-2 MMA, 5-2 UFC).

Johnson, who’s No. 1 in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA flyweight rankings (and No. 2 pound-for-pound), will break middleweight great Anderson Silva’s longstanding title-defense record if victorious. “Mighty Mouse” currently is as much as a 12-1 favorite at some online sports books to beat No. 5 Borg, who’s won two straight and five of his past six – though he missed weight on two occasions.

In the co-headliner, women’s bantamweight titleholder and No. 1-ranked female 135-pounder Amanda Nunes (14-4 MMA, 7-1 UFC) rematches No. 2 Valentina Shevchenko (14-2 MMA, 3-1 UFC). Nunes, who took the title from Miesha Tate during her current five-fight winning streak, also defeated No. 2-ranked Shevchenko via unanimous decision during her run. Shevchenko has since rebounded with wins over ex-champ Holly Holm (decision) and Julianna Pena (submission).

To fill out the main card, former lightweight champ Rafael dos Anjos (26-9 MMA, 15-7 UFC) fights at welterweight for the second time when he meets Neil Magny (19-5 MMA, 12-4 UFC); Ilir Latifi (12-5 MMA, 5-3 UFC) takes on Tyson Pedro (6-0 MMA, 2-0 UFC) at light heavyweight; and former Strikeforce lightweight champ and two-time UFC title challenger Gilbert Melendez (22-6 MMA, 1-4 UFC) moves to featherweight to fight fellow veteran Jeremy Stephens (25-14 MMA, 12-13 UFC) to open up the pay-per-view portion.

The featured bout on the FS1-broadcast prelims is a women’s bantamweight fight between former title challenger and Olympic medalist Sara McMann (11-3 MMA, 5-3 UFC) and Ketlen Vieira (8-0 MMA. 2-0 UFC). McMann will be fighting for the first time since moving her training camp to the esteemed Team Alpha Male in California.

The featured bout on the UFC Fight Pass preliminary card is a lightweight matchup between Mitch Clarke (11-4 MMA, 2-4 UFC) and Alex White (11-3 MMA, 2-3 UFC). Clarke is based in Edmonton and gets a fight in front of his home fans.

The complete UFC 215 lineup includes:

MAIN CARD (10 p.m. ET, pay-per-view)

  • Champ Demetrious Johnson vs. Ray Borg – for flyweight title
  • Champ Amanda Nunes vs. Valentina Shevchenko – for women’s bantamweight title
  • Rafael dos Anjos vs. Neil Magny
  • Ilir Latifi vs. Tyson Pedro
  • Gilbert Melendez vs. Jeremy Stephens

PRELIMINARY CARD (8 p.m. ET, FS1)

PRELIMINARY CARD (6:30 p.m. ET, UFC Fight Pass)

For more on UFC 215, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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

UFC 215 in Canada adds Kajan Johnson vs. Adriano Martins

The quickly filling UFC 215 lineup has a recent lightweight addition.

Officials recently announced a fight between Kajan Johnson (21-12-1 MMA, 2-1 UFC) and Adriano Martins (28-8 MMA, 4-2 UFC).

UFC 215 takes place Sept. 9 at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. The main card airs on pay-per-view following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass, though the bout order and full lineup haven’t been finalized.

Johnson, a semifinalist on “The Ultimate Fighter Nations: Canada vs. Australia” in 2014, fights for the first time since 2015, when the 33-year-old Canadian scored a decision victory over Naoyuki Kotani. He’s 2-0 since a UFC-debut loss to Tae Hyun Bang in 2014 that earned “Fight of the Night” honors.

He now meets Martins, a 35-year-old Brazilian who was riding a three-fight winning streak that included knockout wins – both of which earned “Performance of the Night” bonuses – over Juan Puig and Islam Makhachev. However, in his most recent bout, the former Jungle Fight champion and onetime Strikeforce fighter suffered a narrow split-decision defeat to Leonardo Santos.

The latest UFC 215 card includes:

  • Champ Demetrious Johnson vs. Ray Borg – for flyweight title
  • Champ Amanda Nunes vs. Valentina Shevchenko – for women’s bantamweight title
  • Junior Dos Santos vs. Francis Ngannou
  • Gilbert Melendez vs. Jeremy Stephens
  • Henry Cejudo vs. Wilson Reis
  • Ilir Latifi vs. Tyson Pedro
  • Sara McMann vs. Ketlen Vieira
  • Rick Glenn vs. Gavin Tucker
  • Ashlee Evans-Smith vs. Sarah Moras
  • Arjan Bhullar vs. Luis Henrique
  • Kajan Johnson vs. Adriano Martins

For more on UFC 215, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie