Category Archives: Alistair Overeem

Alistair Overeem, graphic designer extraordinaire, accepts Francis Ngannou challenge

A potentially violent battle between two dangerous strikers has apparently been arranged with the help of a few boxy cartoon figures.

Former Strikeforce and DREAM champion Alistair Overeem (43-15 MMA, 8-4 UFC) today took to Twitter to accept a recent challenge from fast-rising heavyweight contender Francis Ngannou (10-1 MMA, 5-0 UFC), suggesting the Cameroonian native is “trying to skip the line.”

Ngannou was supposed to compete at this weekend’s UFC 215 event against former heavyweight champion Junior Dos Santos, but the Brazilian was ruled out due to a potential doping violation. Ngannou later challenged Overeem to step up on short notice, but Overeem declined.

However, it appears he’s now ready to take the fight at a later date.

Overeem is currently ranked No. 2 in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA heavyweight rankings, while Ngannou sits at No. 9.

So let’s hear it – if this matchup does come together, who ya got?

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For more on the UFC’s upcoming schedule, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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

Filed under: Blue Corner, News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

Heavyweight champ Stipe Miocic didn't know UFC planned Jon Jones fight, wants better contract

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Filed under: Featured, News, UFC, Videos

The first UFC heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic heard of a possible fight with Jon Jones at UFC 218 was an article he read online.

“I had no idea they wanted me to fight him,” Miocic (23-1 MMA, 17-1 UFC) told MMAjunkie Radio on Friday. “True story. I read it in an article. (UFC President Dana White) said that, so apparently that’s what they wanted or were thinking about.”

Miocic had been waiting for good news from his managers about his contract, which became a point of contention after his knockout win over Alistair Overeem at UFC 203. Publicly released salaries revealed Overeem, a former Strikeforce, DREAM and K-1 champion, had made $200,000 more than Miocic despite losing the fight.

“I just think a guy getting paid more than the champ is kind of unfair,” Miocic said. “I don’t think that’s right. A man’s worked his way to get to the top, and then a guy that’s never fought for the title, fought for the title for the first time and made more money than the champion.”

Although Miocic said negotiations were headed in a good direction when his representatives spoke with the UFC prior to his second title defense in May against ex-champ Junior Dos Santos, he assumed he was in a holding pattern with “The Money Fight” capturing the promotion’s attention. But as it turned out, White did have something in mind for Jones (23-1 MMA, 17-1 UFC) – until the UFC light heavyweight champion tested positive for a steroid at UFC 214 last month.

Miocic now waits to hear some more good news, and he’s not sure when that will come. While he declined to specify his financial demands, he said they don’t represent a steep increase from his current pay.

“I’m not looking for Conor McGregor money,” Miocic said. “I never asked for anything like that. I just want to be treated fair. We’re going to sit down and have a conversation with them. We’ll hash it out. I’m not worried about it.”

White has defended Overeem’s contract as a byproduct of his high-profile experience. Although Overeem had never fought for a UFC title when he faced Miocic, he’d won three belts in other promotions and signed a lucrative deal in 2011 after his release from the now-defunct Strikeforce. He re-signed with the promotion in 2016.

Miocic would love to break the seven-figure mark, but he’ll leave it to his reps to get him the raise he wants. You can be sure they want him on an even keel with Overeem.

“There’s a reason why I’m in this position, because I didn’t have a team with me at the time, so that’s what they’re taking care of,” he said. “We had a good conversation before the JDS fight, so I hope they come through.”

With Jones now grappling with another potential anti-doping violation, Miocic said he’s open to fighting any heavyweight in the division. He welcomed a potential spot on UFC 218, which takes place Dec. 2 at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit.

Miocic said when he returns, he plans to keep the belt longer than any previous UFC heavyweight.

For more on UFC 218, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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

Francis Ngannou: Since Alistair Overeem can't fight, how about Stipe Miocic at UFC 218?

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Filed under: News, UFC

UFC heavyweight contender Francis Ngannou hoped to get a fight with Alistair Overeem when his originally scheduled opponent Junior Dos Santos was ruled out due to a potential doping violation.

But Overeem (43-15 MMA, 8-4 UFC) isn’t available, according to Ngannou.

“Alistair said his foot is still injured and can’t fight as soon ! so I don’t have a replacement for #UFC215,” Ngannou (10-1 MMA, 5-0 UFC) wrote today on Twitter.

That leaves the heavyweight standout again “lost” – not a great place to be if you’re looking to summit the division.

Next month’s pay-per-view was thought by many to be Ngannou’s last obstacle before a title shot. But being a pragmatic guy, the Cameroon native figures with current events, he might as well cut to the chase.

He followed up his original injury report on Overeem with a proposition for UFC brass: Why not throw out UFC 215 and pair him against heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic?

“Stipe doesn’t have an opponent for December 2nd at Detroit ! I’m here @ufc @danawhite @Mickmaynard2 let me do this fight 🔥🔥🔥,” Ngannou tweeted.

Miocic (23-1 MMA, 17-1 UFC), it was recently revealed by UFC President Dana White, was penciled in for UFC 218 against UFC light heavyweight champ Jon Jones (23-1 MMA, 17-1 UFC), who’d signaled his desire to move up for a money fight with ex-champ Brock Lesnar. The potential booking was so tentative, apparently, that even Miocic didn’t know about it.

But with Jones now embroiled in his second potential doping violation, the UFC now has an opening, and Ngannou figures the promotion might as well use him to plug the gap when UFC 218 takes place Dec. 2 at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit. With five straight octagon wins, it’s not an unheard of request. These days, lesser experienced fighters have gotten bigger opportunities.

Will the promotion accept Ngannou’s pitch? We’ll see.

For more on UFC 218, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

Francis Ngannou 'lost' after UFC 215 fight scratch, knows suitable replacement unlikely

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Filed under: News, UFC, Videos

LAS VEGAS – Francis Ngannou is disappointed with the current state of his career after losing out on a big-fight opportunity at UFC 215.

Just three weeks before next month’s event, news broke that Ngannou’s (10-1 MMA, 5-0 UFC) scheduled UFC 215 opponent, Junior Dos Santos (18-5 MMA, 12-4 UFC), had been removed from the contest due to a potential U.S. Anti-Doping Agency violation. Through no fault of his own, Ngannou lost an opponent who could elevate his place in the heavyweight title picture, and he’s not pleased about it.

“Every day of my life right now was about the fight, focus about the fight,” Ngannou told MMAjunkie. “I feel like I’m lost. I don’t know what to do, I don’t know what to say. That was not good news.”

Although Ngannou, No. 9 in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA heavyweight rankings, is frustrated, he’s not yet willing to assign the entirety of the blame on Dos Santos. He said he had a conversation with the Brazilian after the fight had been called off, and “The Predator” believes Dos Santos’ story of a potentially tainted supplement could turn out to be credible.

“I think anything is possible,” Ngannou said. “I could not judge him because I know that problem exists. … Some manufacturers use illegal products to make it be more – to make it work more. But for us fighters, it’s no good, so I never take it.”

Regardless of whether Dos Santos’ test results stick or he is ultimately proven innocent, the fight is off the table for UFC 215, which 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.

That leaves Ngannou, who hasn’t fought since a first-round TKO of ex-UFC champ Andrei Arlovski at UFC on FOX 23 in January, in a difficult situation. Ngannou said he would like a top name to step in as a replacement, but with the window before UFC 215 rapidly shrinking and few logical opponents available, Ngannou knows his odds of fighting are growing thin.

Ngannou called out No. 2-ranked Alistair Overeem (43-15 MMA, 8-4 UFC) to replace Dos Santos, but “The Reem” has not provided a formal response. All that together creates the feeling of being “lost,” and while the UFC is still actively looking for a replacement, Ngannou isn’t getting his hopes up.

“For the top 10, Alistair Overeem is the only one who is free, who is open right now,” Ngannou said. “The last time I spoke to (UFC matchmaker) Mick (Maynard) he told me they were still looking for something. I don’t think they will have something because I checked the heavyweight division, and I see that all of the top-10 fighters have a fight coming up.”

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

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

No 'JDS'? No problem. Francis Ngannou says bring on Alistair Overeem at UFC 215

Francis Ngannou got the bummer news Friday that he suddenly was without an opponent for UFC 215, just three weeks away.

Ngannou (10-1 MMA, 5-0 UFC) was supposed to fight former heavyweight champion Junior Dos Santos (18-5 MMA, 12-4 UFC) at the event. But Friday, “JDS” was taken out of the fight due to a potential U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) violation.

Ngannou’s initial response? He tweeted that he was “very, very angry.” (A rep for the ex-champ said the Brazilian tested positive for Hydrochlorothiazide, a banned diuretic, and that his team hopes to find just how it got into his system.)

But after apparently hearing from Dos Santos and getting an apology, Ngannou already is focusing his attention on remaining part of the show at UFC 215, which 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.

Today, Ngannou took to Twitter to say he wants to fight former Strikeforce champion and recent UFC title challenger Alistair Overeem (43-15 MMA, 8-4 UFC), seeing as how Overeem has been name-dropping him.

“@Alistairovereem been mentioning my name everywhere. I’m now open and free for you guy. Let do this at #ufc215,” Ngannou posted.

He even included a trio of fireball emojis, seemingly to indicate he thinks a matchup between the two of them would be, as the kids say, “lit af.”

Ngannou is about the hottest thing going in the UFC’s heavyweight title picture. He has nine straight wins, including his first five in the UFC. All 10 of his career wins are by stopppage. His most recent two wins against arguably his toughests tests yet in Anthony Hamilton and former champ Andrei Arlovski were first-round bonus winners, and he has three straight wins in less than two minutes of work.

Overeem has back-to-back wins after losing his shot at UFC champ Stipe Miocic nearly a year ago at UFC 203 in Miocic’s home city of Cleveland. He knocked out Mark Hunt at UFC 209 and took a majority decision from ex-champ Fabricio Werdum earlier this year to get back in the title picture. He has won six of his past seven with four finishes.

So what say you? Is this the fight to make on short notice? Vote in our poll below.

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

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

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

'The Reem' Season 4, No. 5: Behind the scenes of Alistair Overeem's UFC 213 win over Fabricio Werdum

Filed under: Blue Corner, Featured Videos, News, UFC, Videos

Alistair Overeem is the center of one arguably the most well-produced documentary series in MMA. Just weeks after his UFC 213 victory over Fabricio Werdum, the UFC heavyweight is back with another episode of “The Reem.”

The series is currently in its fourth season of production after debuting in February 2011, and now the latest episode has been unveiled.

In episode No. 5 of Season 4, cameras follow the former Strikeforce, DREAM and K-1 champion behind the scenes of UFC 213 fight week in Las Vegas. Overeem (43-15 MMA, 8-4 UFC) met former heavyweight champ Werdum (21-7-1 MMA, 9-4 UFC) in a trilogy bout at the event and earned a unanimous-decision victory over the Brazilian.

Watch the latest episode of “The Reem” above, and if you missed any previous episodes, a complete series archive can be found here.

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

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

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

UFC's Alistair Overeem won't be calling out boxing champ Anthony Joshua – been there, done that

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Filed under: Featured, Featured Videos, News, UFC, Videos

It’s all the rage for UFC fighters to call out champion boxers since Conor McGregor set up a fight with Floyd Mayweather. But count out Alistair Overeem.

Overeem (43-15 MMA, 8-4 UFC) just isn’t that enthused about being the next crossover star by fighting heavyweight boxing champ Anthony Joshua (19-0 boxing), even if it might be the most lucrative opportunity of his career.

The way he sees it? Been there, done that.

“I don’t shy away from challenges,” Overeem told MMAjunkie backstage at UFC Fight Night 113. “Does Anthony Joshua shy away from challenges? I don’t know. He could come into the UFC – that would be great.

“Personally, I’m not looking for new challenges. I already had all that. My challenge is the UFC championship.”

The 37-year-old veteran said his McGregor moment came eight years ago. When his Japanese promoter made a last-minute switch, offering him a kickboxing fight with decorated striker Badr Hari instead of a scheduled rematch against Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic, Overeem rolled with it. That started his kickboxing career, which led to his appearance in the 2009 K-1 Grand Prix and his win in the 2010 competition.

An MMA titleholder in now-defunct promotions Strikeforce and DREAM and kickboxing champ in K-1, Overeem belongs to a very short list of MMA fighters with major titles in both sports.

“I never had the intention of doing it, but I kind of liked it,” Overeem said of his achievement. “It was a great experience, and it all came by accident. But I liked it, and I believed in myself. I went for it, and I got my K-1 title.”

Now, he’s going for a UFC title that’s proved more elusive than any other belt. A win over Brock Lesnar in 2011 put him on the fast track to a title shot. But subsequent KO losses to Antonio Silva and Travis Browne stalled his career.

A rebound brought Overeem four straight wins and a title shot this past September at UFC 203. But after early success against current champ Stipe Miocic (17-2 MMA, 11-2 UFC), he tripped to the mat and was knocked out by a flurry of punches.

Despite recent wins over Mark Hunt (13-11-1 MMA, 8-5-1 UFC) and ex-champ Fabricio Werdum (21-7-1 MMA, 9-4 UFC), Overeem is in a holding pattern. UFC President Dana White wasn’t thrilled by his win over Werdum, and up-and-comer Francis Ngannou (10-1 MMA, 5-0 UFC) looks like a lock for a title shot if he can beat ex-champ Junior Dos Santos (18-5 MMA, 12-4 UFC) in September at UFC 215.

Overeem isn’t banking on that, however.

“What he does not have going for him is he hasn’t faced any top-quality opponents,” Overeem said of Ngannou. “When (Dos Santos beats Ngannou), nothing stands in the way of my title shot.”

Except, perhaps, the crossover ambitions of the current champ.

Since McGregor started circling Mayweather, Miocic has repeatedly called out boxing champ Joshua.

Maybe Miocic has been paying attention to how much McGregor (21-3 MMA, 9-1 UFC) is going to make when he gets down with Mayweather (49-0 boxing) on Aug. 26.

For more on the UFC’s upcoming schedule, visit the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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

Is it time to do away with the show money/win bonus pay structure in MMA?

Among the many things that Gegard Mousasi likes about his new Bellator contract, judging by his recent remarks, is the difference in pay structure. The way the UFC typically does it? You get one sum for showing up and fighting and another, typically equal, sum for winning.

That means a win is worth twice as much as a loss to most fighters, a pay structure so common in MMA (and not just the UFC) that it largely goes unquestioned and unremarked upon.

But there are exceptions, and Mousasi isn’t the only one.

For example, at last weekend’s UFC 213, co-main event winner Alistair Overeem made an event-high $800,000 with no win bonus for his narrow majority decision over Fabricio Werdum.

Mark Hunt, another heavyweight who signed a new UFC contract when his iron was hot, made a flat fee of $750,000 for his knockout loss to Overeem at UFC 209. For Hunt’s fight against Brock Lesnar at UFC 200, both men had contracts that dispensed with the show money, netting Hunt a cool $700,000 for showing up while Lesnar made $2.5 million before fines related to his ensuing suspension for a failed drug test.

Even newly minted UFC interim middleweight champion Robert Whittaker made a set sum of $350,000 with no win bonus for his unanimous-decision victory over Yoel Romero at UFC 213. It reflected a marked improvement from the $30,000 to show and $30,000 to win he made roughly a year earlier.

The advantages to the flat fee are fairly obvious. There are so many ways to lose in MMA, ranging from a legitimate knockout loss to a questionable stoppage or blatantly wrong judges’ decision, that having half your paycheck dependent on forces out of your control seems like poor financial planning. And those fighters who do negotiate flat fees usually end up getting more in show money than others do for show and win combined.

Of course, the show-win model actually works out quite well for promoters. It allows them to offer the idea of a better payday to people who naturally tend to be optimists about their own futures. If you promise a fighter $25,000 to show and another $25,000 to win, in his head he’s likely already spending the full $50,000, because of course he doesn’t step into the cage planning to lose.

But there can only be one winner in every fight, which means somebody’s payday is always half of what they were hoping for when they signed the contract. That’s money that stays in the promoter’s pocket, a guaranteed savings in virtually every fight.

Promoters will also tell you they like the incentive provided by the show-win model, but that explanation isn’t as simple as it sounds. For one thing, most fighters aren’t lacking for good reasons to try their best in any given fight. If concerns about keeping blood inside their body aren’t enough, there are the practical ramifications of defeat to consider. Winning is generally always better than losing when it comes to advancing a fighter’s career, and they know it.

In fact, including such a heavy financial penalty for defeat seems likely to be counterproductive for promoters, since it may make fighters more conservative in their approaches. Why take risks for the sake of exciting the crowd when a loss can mean the difference between a good Christmas for your kids and a dismal one?

Similarly, if you need to win to make the payout worthwhile, why stay in a fight if you’re sick or injured and don’t like your chances at victory? Why do that damage to your record, your future prospects, and maybe also your face, if it seems like you’ll be getting half pay for it in the end?

At the highest levels of combat sports, win bonuses have become something of a rarity. Jon Jones doesn’t get them. Neither does Conor McGregor. When Ryan Bader discussed his new Bellator contract, it was a key point he seized on.

At the star-studded UFC 200 event, four of the five winning fighters on the main card had contracts that did not include win bonuses. The lone exception was Jose Aldo, whose $100,000 win bonus made up a relatively paltry portion of his overall $500,000 payday.

Still, those on the lower and even middle tiers of the pay scale seem to have little choice in the matter. Their financial fates are still determined largely by who gets his or her hand raised. But if negotiating power were to shift, either due to a fighters association or some other unifying stance, that pay structure might be the first thing to change.

There are a lot of good reasons to want to know how much money you’ll make when you go to work at a dangerous and difficult job. There aren’t so many good reasons not to.

For more on the upcoming MMA schedule, visit the MMA events section of the site.

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Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

UFC 213 'Fight Motion': Whole lotta ear-wigglin' goin' on

Filed under: News, UFC, Videos

Saturday’s UFC 213 card was fairly light on knockouts, but as we see in the latest “Fight Motion” video, plenty of big blows landed.

The super-slow-motion highlights captured the action from the pay-per-view event, which took place at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

Check out the highlights, which saw more than a few ear wiggles, above.

The highlights include Robert Whittaker’s (19-4 MMA, 10-2 UFC) unanimous-decision victory over Yoel Romero (12-2 MMA, 8-1 UFC) for the interim middleweight belt, as well as Alistair Overeem’s (43-15 MMA, 8-4 UFC) narrow majority-decision win over former heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum (21-7-1 MMA, 9-4 UFC).

We also get a good look at the big body punch that set up Chad Laprise’s (12-2 MMA, 5-2 UFC) third-round TKO victory over welterweight Brian Camozzi (7-4 MMA, 0-2 UFC)

For more on UFC 213, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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

10 memorable moments from TUF 25 Finale and UFC 213, including Justin Gaethje's crazy debut

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Filed under: News, UFC

The UFC’s sixth annual International Fight Week featured two fight cards, Friday’s The Ultimate Fighter 25 Finale and Saturday’s UFC 213, both of which took place at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Plenty of memorable moments emerged.

Over the course of the two events, 22 fights took place, including former WSOF lightweight champion Justin Gaethje’s winning UFC debut in a potential “Fight of the Year” contender, as well Robert Whittaker capturing the interim middleweight title.

Of course, they weren’t the only noteworthy occurrences. As one would expect, a good number of the key takeaways from this year’s International Fight Week took place in the cage, but not all of them – and at least one revolved around someone who didn’t even strap on a pair of four-ounce gloves.

Here are the 10 most memorable moments from International Fight Week 2017.

1. How to make a first impression

As far as remarkable UFC debuts go, Gaethje’s has to rank near the top. The former WSOF lightweight champion came to the UFC and delivered what he promised: an all offense attack, with no thought of self-preservation.

As in his previous 17 fights, Gaethje (18-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC) walked away the victor, but until he finished Michael Johnson late in the second round, victory wasn’t a sure thing. After all, Johnson (17-12 MMA, 9-8 UFC), who gave his best, hurt Gaethje several times.

Those unfamiliar with Gaethje before the TUF 25 Finale card should be now. Those who had doubts about Gaethje’s UFC readiness should’ve had those questions answered. Even UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor tipped his hat in appreciation (via Twitter):

After his win, Gaethje, who earned two bonuses (“Fight of the Night” and “Performance of the Night”), took to the mic and asked, “Who’s next?”
Gaethje later said he wouldn’t mind facing Tony Ferguson (23-3 MMA, 13-1 UFC), who as Gaethje predicted, dismissed him unless the fight will be for UFC gold.

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2. One more hill to climb

Since joining the UFC middleweight ranks, Whittaker has done nothing but win while looking better each time he’s done so.

Whittaker earned his seventh victory in the division and his sixth post-fight bonus, defeating Yoel Romero by decision in a masterful performance in UFC 213’s main event. More important than the money and the accolades, the victory gave the 26-year-old the interim title, setting up a fight with 38-year-old champion Michael Bisping.

Like Bisping (30-7 MMA, 20-7 UFC), Whittaker (19-4 MMA, 10-2 UFC) is a fighter with considerable will. It’s something Whittaker displayed during the Romero (12-2 MMA, 8-1 UFC) fight, battling through a knee injury the Cuban exacerbated with a kick in the first round. The title fight between Bisping and Whittaker, when it does occur, will be highly anticipated and easily promotable, even if Bisping decides against playing the heel role.

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3. OK to be frustrated, but…

In the aftermath of International Fight Week, social media should have been discussing the fights and futures of Gaethje and Whittaker. Instead, most of the talk surrounded UFC women’s bantamweight champ Amanda Nunes’ decision to withdraw from her title defense against Valentina Shevchenko, which was scheduled as UFC 213’s main event.

A lot of that talk is due to UFC President Dana White’s willingness to shame Nunes for her decision not to compete while suffering from what she revealed was “chronic sinusitis.”

Lost in many of these 140-character discussions is that if Nunes had fought and lost, she would have relinquished not only her title, but future earning potential as UFC champ.

Nunes was scheduled to make $105,000 to show and an additional $105,000 had she defended her title. Additionally, her UFC-Reebok sponsorship amount, as champion, was to be $40,000. Had she lost, Nunes would have dropped to the $5,000 tier. That’s not to mention the fact that her job is to punch and be punched in the head, something you don’t want to do when not feeling up to par.

The frustration on this matter is understandable. The condemnation though? That’s disconcerting.

4. A real redemption story

In 2008 Jesse Taylor made it to the tournament final of “The Ultimate Fighter 7.” He didn’t fight on that card due to actions that forced his removal from the show. Instead of a UFC career, Taylor toiled in the lower rungs of MMA until this year, when he got his chance to participate in the redemption season of “TUF.” He made the most of that opportunity.

Taylor (31-15 MMA, 1-1 UFC) did what was expected in his welterweight bout vs. Dhiego Lima (12-6 MMA, 1-4 UFC), relying heavily on his wrestling and submission skills to finish the fight in the second round via rear-naked choke. The win earned Taylor the $290,000 prize as the winner of “TUF 25.”

Now that he’s redeemed himself and back with the promotion, Taylor has his eye on UFC gold.

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5. Return to form

Anthony Pettis needed a win at UFC 213. It didn’t have to be impressive or memorable; he just needed a victory so he could put a 1-4 stretch behind him.

Pettis earned that win, and he did so with an aggressive performance that left fans nodding their heads in appreciation and thinking the “Showtime” Pettis of yore is ready for a top-tier lightweight opponent following an ill-fated two-fight run at featherweight.

Pettis (20-6 MMA, 7-5 UFC) worked through some adversity early thanks to the leg kicks of Jim Miller (28-10 MMA, 17-9 UFC), but once Pettis found his groove he dominated the well-rounded Miller in all aspects of the fight, especially in the creative striking department on his way to a decision win.

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6. The door is open

Alistair Overeem defeated Fabrico Werdum by narrow majority decision at UFC 213. The victory was far from dominant and left many questioning the judges’ decision.

The matchup between these two highly ranked heavyweights should have put the winner in position to challenge heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic. Instead, the bout had UFC President Dana White commenting on the FOX post-fight show that the fight would not put “anybody in position for a title.”

Overeem seemed to agree.

“If we have to face somebody else first, fine,” Overeem told MMAjunkie after the event.

White’s comments seem to leave the door open for rising star Francis Ngannou (10-1 MMA, 5-0 UFC) to claim a title shot should he get past former champion Junior Dos Santos (18-5 MMA, 12-4 UFC) at UFC 215.

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7. Earning his nickname

Aleksei Oleinik picked up one of the biggest wins of his lengthy career with his second-round stoppage of Travis Browne. Oleinik (52-10-1 MMA, 4-1 UFC), who was coming off the first submission victory via Ezekiel choke in UFC history, forced Browne (18-7-1 MMA, 9-7-1 UFC) to tap to what UFC announcer Bruce Buffer simply referred to as a “submission.”

After the fight, Oleinik provided some detail on the hold that sent Browne to his fourth straight defeat.

“This choke was a unique submission but something I use a lot,” Oleinik said. “I set it up like a rear-naked choke but also use my body weight to twist my opponent. You could say it is actually a double submission from that angle. This is why I am ‘The Boa Constrictor.’”

Browne’s loss left White suggesting Browne retire.

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8. On the come up

If you’re looking for an under-the-radar win that stood out during International Fight Week, Rob Font deserves consideration. Font (14-2 MMA, 4-1 UFC) put on the best performance of his UFC career in earning a “Performance of the Night” bonus for his submission win over Douglas Silva de Andrade (24-2 MMA, 2-2 UFC) at UFC 213.

Font has been tagged as a fighter with a high upside for some time, but his decision loss to John Lineker in 2016 cooled that talk. With two consecutive stoppages since then, Font looks ready to wade back into the deep end of the bantamweight pool.

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9. Not letting that one go

In December, Gray Maynard was involved in one of the most frustrating contests of his career. The former lightweight title challenger, now competing at featherweight, struggled to mount any offense against the jiu-jitsu based Ryan Hall and eventually lost a decision.

Maynard (13-6-1 MMA, 11-6-1 UFC) bounced back at the TUF 25 Finale, using his wrestling to dominate Teruto Ishihara (9-4-2 MMA, 2-2-1 UFC) and earn a unanimous-decision victory.  Instead of focusing on the future and his win, Maynard disparaged Hall.

“There was no risk in that fight (with Hall),” Maynard said. “It was a waste of time. And everybody still called me out. That’s not my fault. He’s the (expletive); he’s the coward. And I’ll never take a fight like that again.”

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Maynard then called for a bout against Artem Lobov.

For his part, Hall seemed amused.

10. An emotional victory

Tecia Torres wanted to fight Michelle Waterson in August, but when Amanda Ribas was pulled from her fight against Juliana Lima for a potential USADA violation, Torres offered her services.

The UFC accepted, and the gamble paid off for Torres, (9-1 MMA, 5-1 UFC), and she submitted Lima (9-4 MMA, 3-3 UFC) in the second round of their TUF 25 Finale fight via rear-naked choke. The stoppage was the first of Torres’ career and earned her the first post-fight bonus of her UFC run.

After the win, Torres broke down in tears. Backstage, Torres spoke about the tragedy that caused her to react with such emotion: the death of former teammate Aaron Rajman.

“This is the first time (I’ve had to go through that kind of adversity),” Torres said. “It really hit home because he was there for me at the end of my amateur career. He had his own show too. I fought my last amateur fight on his show. He was a good friend. We hadn’t talked in a while, but whenever we would connect, we would be together.”

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And that Waterson fight? Torres still wants it.

For more on The Ultimate Fighter 25 Finale and UFC 213, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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Source: MMA Junkie