Valentina Shevchenko changes tune, targets drop to UFC women's flyweight division

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From the second she lost to UFC women’s bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes at UFC 215, Valentina Shevchenko was asking for a rematch.

Shevchenko (14-3 MMA, 3-2 UFC) blasted the judges who handed her a split-decision loss and even contemplated filing an appeal in lieu of a third fight with the Brazilian.

But after some time to simmer down, she appears to have had a change of heart. Rather than push for another shot at Nunes (15-4 MMA, 8-1 UFC), she’s targeting the newly opened flyweight class as her next conquest.

“Now I’m thinking to move to 125 (pounds), and I think more probably my next fight it will be in this division,” Shevchenko told Submission Radio on Thursday. “Because 125 is like much closer weight for me. It’s my real weight category, and even at 135 I feel comfortable, and I feel like 125 I will be able to use all my techniques and all my skills because I will fight with the same-sized opponents as me.”

The UFC formally opened the women’s 125-pound division earlier this year with “The Ultimate Fighter 26,” which debuted this past month and features 16 flyweight female fighters vying for the inaugural title belt.

Shevchenko had little incentive to move with 135-pound gold within her grasp. But now that she’s fallen short and dropped two fights to Nunes, she sees it as a more logical move than trying to get an immediate rematch or appeal the fight.

“I want to win my belt in a fair battle and to receive the belt from the fight, not only from legal situation or fighting like appeal or something like that,” she said. “And I know it will come; I will have my time. And will do everything great next time. So, I prefer to be the champion in the fight, not on the paper.”

The move to 125 pounds will be very familiar for the Russian. While competing in muay Thai, she fought as a flyweight and won several championships. One of her victims in the ring was none other than women’s strawweight champ Joanna Jedrzejczyk.

“Just a little bit of cutting, and it will be everything perfect,” Shevchenko said. “Because, in my Muay Thai fights, I was fighting every time at 125. The last year I was moving a little bit up in weight class, but it was 130. So I feel very comfortable at 125.

“And even at 125, we can have like opponents (that are) very tall, but of course it will be the same physical conditions – the same head, the same size arms and everything, the same like mine.”

Shevchenko hasn’t totally let go of a possible third fight with Nunes. She eventually plans to return to the bantamweight division to exact revenge.

“And for the next time, not give any chance to make this like this decision that was made a few days ago,” Shevchenko said. “Of course, it’s on my mind, and I still want it. Not right now, not in the near future, but definitely it will happen.”

Now, Shevchenko can start entertaining a matchup repeatedly posed to her by fans and journalists who were aware of her kickboxing past at flyweight.

“Every time when people ask me about Joanna, I say that, why not? Because we have our history, our era in fighting Muay Thai, and now we can start to do the same in MMA in the UFC,” she said.

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

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Twitter Mailbag: Is this too high a price to pay for a clean(er) UFC?

The UFC’s anti-doping program can be a bummer for fans, but does that mean we’d be better off without it? Plus, did we all get what we deserved, in one way or another, with the main event scratch at UFC 215?

All that and more in this week’s Twitter Mailbag. To ask a question of your own, tweet to @BenFowlkesMMA.

Those are all pretty frustrating, though when you group them together like that it does make the “money fight” phenomenon seem a lot less annoying, because at least that one results in a fight.

The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency thing is a different matter. With some of the recent suspensions, I think a lot of people have started to wonder just how clean they really need this sport to be. We don’t want to feel like every main event is a glorified science experiment, but would that be better than no main events at all?

Plus, people are starting to wonder whether USADA is really catching dopers and cheats, or just a bunch of careless supplement shoppers. Of course, then we’d have to ask ourselves why it is that MMA fighters seem so prone to accidentally ingesting steroids, when other sports don’t seem to have the same problem, or at least not this often.

It really comes down to a simple question: Do we care about fighters doping or not? If we do, then I’m not sure we really want to complain that USADA is doing too good a job at catching them. Whatever you think of how that turinabol got in Jon Jones’ system, the positive B sample tells us that it was there. Until there’s a test developed that can tell us if someone actually meant to cheat, we have to accept that result and move on.

Unless you’re in the camp that says we shouldn’t care about doping. And, honestly, I can see how some people might be feeling that way right now. Wouldn’t it be more fun for fans if a bunch of awesomely doped-up fighters smashed each other with all manner of spinning stuff well into their forties?

And, yeah, that would probably be fun to watch, at least as long as you could ignore the human costs associated with it. A sport where doping is allowed will quickly become a sport where doping is required. Some drugs might speed your recovery time from nagging injuries, but they won’t do a thing to protect your brain from the consequences of all this trauma.

That’s exactly what has happened in the hours since you asked this question, although it wasn’t necessarily an automatic move. The outcome of the fight is handled by the commission, but the belt is the UFC’s. The promotion can do what it likes with it, as California State Athletic Commission executive director Andy Foster confirmed when I spoke to him last week.

The options here were limited. Either you give the light heavyweight belt back to Daniel Cormier, or you leave it vacant until someone can officially win it.

But does Cormier feel like the champ? Maybe, if you can convince yourself that Jones only beat him (both times) with some help from performance-enhancing drugs. If you’re more willing to buy any combination of tainted supplement defenses, it gets a little tougher.

The real problem for Cormier’s title legitimacy is that there’s almost nothing he can realistically do about it. He’s already beaten most of the other top 205-pounders, so any victory over a light heavyweight not named Jon Jones will just feel like rehashing old arguments rather proving something new. That’s a tough spot to be in, especially when you’re the one who didn’t do anything wrong.

Ha, good one. As if Dana White could “make” Conor McGregor do anything he doesn’t want to do right now.

via GIPHY

Seems like Demetrious Johnson vs. Ray Borg is slated for UFC 216 now, assuming Borg can steer clear of viral illnesses in the meantime. If that holds, it’ll mean the top three bouts look like this:

  • Tony Ferguson vs. Kevin Lee
  • Johnson vs. Borg
  • Derrick Lewis vs. Fabricio Werdum

I don’t know about you, but that’s enough for me. Now we just have to hope all those fights are still on the card come Oct. 7.

It’s tricky, because one of the first questions we have to ask is who would issue the ban.

The penalties under the UFC’s current anti-doping program are pretty stiff, with suspensions potentially doubling after each offense. But if the ban came from USADA and the UFC, then the UFC would pretty much have to release the fighter from his contract. If that happened with someone like Jones, you know Bellator would be blowing up his phone trying to cut a deal.

Even if a lifetime ban came from an athletic commission and made it impossible to get a license, that wouldn’t stop someone like Jones from ending up in Tokyo on New Year’s Eve, fighting a sumo wrestler in a one-night tournament (and the wind whispered: “Baruto…”).

Try, for a moment, to imagine that as a bad thing rather than a good one.

If you’re referring to this explanation, it leaves a little to be desired. Amanda Nunes repeatedly extended the fingers of her outstretched hand while fighting Valentina Shevchenko. John McCarthy would warn her, she’d stop for a little while, then she’d do it again.

I can see how someone might argue that as long as there’s no problem as long as there’s no actual eye poke, but that seems flawed to me. If you’re standing there with your fingers outstretched in the general region of my face, I have to weigh the possibility of getting poked when I consider coming forward.

And if I do get my retinas jabbed, hey, you might lose a point, but I might lose full vision for a few minutes or more. That could be enough of an advantage for you that the penalty on the scorecards doesn’t matter.

Maybe a little, but close fights always seem to bring out the worst in us. Georges St-Pierre was super popular when he won that decision over Johny Hendricks in his last UFC fight, and still we had to watch Dana White’s head change colors as he called for the governor of Nevada to look into the state athletic commission.

Shevchenko can be mad if she wants, but if she’s watched this sport for any length of time I don’t see how she can be surprised. She spent most of the fight trying to counter with her back nearly touching the fence. I’m not saying you can’t win a decision that way, but you can just as easily lose one if you don’t make it super clear that you’re the one doing the damage.

Francis Ngannou. He’s a heavyweight, and fans love the big guys. He’s also relatively young (31), so you could still get some mileage out of him. Plus he’s never lost in the UFC, so Dana White can’t claim that he’s on the way down and Bellator’s only reviving the rejects.

Ngannou is a huge dude who puts people away and dresses like a particularly rad Bond villain. If properly hyped, you could do a lot with a guy like that.

What, you didn’t hear? It was a “viral illness.” Nothing at all to do with the weight cut. It just so happened to hit him as he was cutting weight, which is itself a process that hasn’t gone well for him recently. What a coincidence.

People have jumped on this turn of events as proof that Johnson should have fought T.J. Dillashaw instead. What they forget is that Dillashaw has never made 125 pounds in the UFC, whereas Borg has at least proven that he can do it some of the time.

Also, let’s not forget that Johnson was willing to take the fight if the UFC would give him certain financial guarantees in the event that Dillashaw didn’t make the weight. That’s probably because Johnson was smart enough to anticipate a situation just like this, where he trains but doesn’t get paid, and now has to do it all over again a month from now.

My prediction for this one was that we’d all complain until the fight got closer, in part because it feels like we’ve been hearing about this fight for years now, but once fight time arrived we’d get at least a little bit hyped. I still think that’s what will happen, and you’re right that the complete lack of other big fights on the horizon has a lot to do with it.

Is this a kind of silly fight? Yes. Are there much better things that the middleweight champ could be doing, now that we have a wealth of middleweight contenders? Absolutely. Does that mean I’ll sit out the return of GSP? Not on your life.

Ben Fowlkes is MMAjunkie and USA TODAY’s MMA columnist. Follow him on Twitter at @BenFowlkesMMA. Twitter Mailbag appears every Thursday on MMAjunkie.

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Source: MMA Junkie

UFC 215 'Fight Motion:' In which Gilbert Melendez's lower leg swells up instantly

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Jeremy Stephens delivered a barrage of low kicks to Gilbert Melendez and, as we in the “Fight Motion: highlights for this past Saturday’s UFC 215 bout, the swelling began instantly and forced Melendez to the mat.

The super-slow-motion highlights capture the action from the event at Rogers place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada., which aired on pay-per-view following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass.

Melendez (22-7 MMA, 1-5 UFC) once again proved his durability in the cage, but he’d probably just as soon forget all about his featherweight debut against Stephens (26-14 MMA, 13-13 UFC) as he dropped a unanimous decision with scores of 30-26, 30-26 and 30-25. The story of the fight was the repeated low kicks that hammered Melendez’s left leg.

“Fight Motion” highlights also include the main event, which champ Amanda Nunes (15-4 MMA, 8-1 UFC) won over Valentina Shevchenko (14-3 MMA, 3-2 UFC) by a narrow unanimous decision and Henry Cejudo (11-2 MMA, 5-2 UFC) finishing Wilson Reis  (22-8 MMA, 6-4 UFC) via second-round TKO.

Check out the “Fight Motion” highlights above.

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

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Valentina Shevchenko explains scoring flaws in lengthy statement on UFC 215 loss to Amanda Nunes

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Valentina Shevchenko is still befuddled over the judges’ decision in her UFC 215 headliner with Amanda Nunes.

Shevchenko (14-3 MMA, 3-2 UFC) fell just short of the UFC women’s bantamweight title this past weekend when she lost a split decision to Amanda Nunes (15-4 MMA, 8-1 UFC) in the headliner of UFC 215, which went down at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, with the main card on pay-per-view following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass.

It was a narrow and hotly contested decision, which saw each judge score the bout in a different manner. Shevchenko was instantly stunned by the result and called foul, stating that she did not understand how the contest could be scored in Nunes’ favor.

After a few days of reflection, Shevchenko has not changed her tune. She is still fuming and took to social media to post a lengthy statement with her thoughts on why all who perceive Nunes as the victor are wrong (via Instagram):

Instagram Photo

The whole statement is also available below:

“First of all, I want to thank all those who supported me! The support from my dear friends, media, and fans is very important to me!

After 5 rounds fight the judges were divided in opinion, and 2-1 they gave the victory to Nunes (48-47, 47-48, 48-47). I do not think that the fight was lost, 3 rounds out of 5 I definitely won.

In the middle of the first round, after exchanging of punches, I dislocated a finger on my left hand, so I could not fully realize my advantage from the beginning of the fight. During the break after the first round, my coach Pavel Fedotov put the joint in place, and from the second round I was able to work with both hands.

And in the last 5th round Nunes made one takedown against one of mine.

In addition, the new rules say and we were advised before the fight that if you do not do any damage or action when you hold a position (including takedown) then this control does not give an advantage. And Nunes could'[t land no one punch on the ground.

For the whole fight, I did not get a hit to my face from her.

If someone else has a doubt in my victory in the 2, 3, 4 rounds, then why what advantage did Nunes win? Leading a passive right only pushing me with “tips to the leg and not landing any punches? While I had to in the same time both counterattack and attack her, because she took in a passive position.

Some write and say that she held the center of the octagon, as an advantage. Our competitions are not called – to guard the center of the octagon and win. Yes, you can occupy the center of the octagon, but then relieve all the possible attacks. A fighter must and cn use the entire perimeter of an octagon according to his tactics and style.

For example the styled of Mohamed Ali and Mike Tyson is completely different in how they used they used different parts of the ring. The rule of the center of the octagon is made for the one fighter avoids fight and running out from the fight. Then, yes, the one who is in the center of the octagon has the advantage.

Running into an open strike exchange against an opponent who is taller, bigger and heavier would be foolish of me. And how bad can end this kind of “runs forward” we have seen in various fight.

In my fights I put emphasis on technique, tactics and speed.

We are doing martial arts, it is not the hardest forehead competition to win the victory, and not to win in accidentally striking exchanges. The goal is to strike inflict damage and not receive damage in a response. And this can only be achieve by training your art to the highest level.

Therefore, after the fight, I have not a single bruise on my face, but all my fists and diners are broken from delivering punches. I am very upset that it happened, especially upset for those fans who worried about me and supported me.

MMA is a very interesting and diverse sport, anything can happen. Of course, I’m upset, but I’m not going to let this stop me from achieve my goal. I’ll rest a bit and then start training in order to get back in the octagon in the near future.

Nunes, we will meet again!”

Although getting a third bout after losing twice to a single opponent is difficult under any circumstance, Shevchenko said her top priority is to get another fight with Nunes. She originally claimed she would consider appealing the result, but her manager recently told ESPN.com that is no longer the plan.

A move down to the newly created UFC women’s flyweight division would seem like Shevchenko’s quickest path to another championship fight, but it appears her sole focus is to share the octagon with “The Lioness.”

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

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Sean Shelby's Shoes: What's next for Amanda Nunes and UFC 215's other winners?

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(ALSO SEE: Sean Shelby’s Shoes: What’s next for UFC 215’s losing fighters?)

The UFC’s first pay-per-view event in Canada this year took place on Saturday with UFC 215, which went down at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

The five-fight lineup saw Amanda Nunes (15-4 MMA, 8-1 UFC) defend her UFC women’s bantamweight championship for the second time when she earned a hotly contested split-decision victory over rival Valentina Shevchenko (14-3 MMA, 3-2 UFC) in the headliner.

Several other impressive performances were turned in, with former champ Rafael dos Anjos (27-9 MMA, 16-7 UFC), Henry Cejudo (11-2 MMA, 5-2 UFC), Ilir Latifi (13-5 MMA, 6-3 UFC) and Jeremy Stephens (26-14 MMA, 13-13 UFC) turning in convincing winning performances against their opponents.

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 215’s winning fighters.

* * * *

Jeremy Stephens

Brian Ortega

Should fight: Brian Ortega
Why they should fight: Stephens once again bounced back from a two-fight losing skid inside the UFC octagon when he earned one of the more noteworthy victories of his career, this time against former Strikeforce champ Gilbert Melendez.

With the help of vicious leg kicks, Stephens earned a dominant unanimous-decision win over “El’ Nino” to get him back on track. Despite 26 UFC appearances, Stephens is still only 31 and said he still has a lot of competitive years left.

Although Melendez is a established name in the sport, he’s not currently considered a top title threat, nor is he someone who should elevate Stephens into the title-shot discussion. There are names out there who could do more for him, though, and an undefeated rising star like Ortega (12-0 MMA, 4-0 UFC) would make for a compelling affair.

Ortega is young, dynamic and a fighter with some buzz in the weight class. Stephens would be a big test, but if he handles him, that would legitimize him in a whole new light.

Ilir Latifi

Mauricio Rua

Should fight: Winner of Mauricio Rua vs. Ovince Saint Preux at UFC Fight Night 117
Why they should fight: Latifi returned to the octagon for the first time in more than a year and halted the undefeated streak of rising light heavyweight Tyson Pedro.

Latifi improved to 4-1 in his past five UFC appearances with a unanimous-decision victory over Pedro. He’s lined himself up for a greater opportunity next time out, and the winner of the UFC Fight Night 117 headliner between Rua (25-10 MMA, 9-8 UFC) and Saint Preux (20-10 MMA, 8-5 UFC) later this month could be the perfect fit.

Although “Shogun” and “OSP” have accomplished as much in the sport as anyone Latifi has fought thus far, a victory over the winner of their upcoming matchup would help legitimize himself at 205 pounds and allow him to join the title-contender discussion.

Henry Cejudo

Sergio Pettis

Should fight: Sergio Pettis
Why they should fight: Cejudo turned in easily the most impressive performance of his career when he completely outclassed fellow former flyweight title challenger Wilson Reis for a second-round knockout win.

After beating his opponents on the scorecards in his first four UFC wins, Cejudo made a definitive statement with a stellar striking performance against Reis to help him rebound from a two-fight skid against 125-pound champ Demetrious Johnson and top-ranked contender Joseph Benavidez.

Although Cejudo eventually wants a title rematch with Johnson, he named Pettis (16-2 MMA, 7-2 UFC) as a possible next opponent. They were scheduled to fight at UFC 211 in May, but Cejudo was forced to withdraw during fight week due to a hand injury. Pettis is coming off a decision win over fast-rising Brandon Moreno at UFC Fight Night 114 in August, and Cejudo said he would be very interested in booking that fight again to further strengthen his title-shot argument.

Rafael dos Anjos

Tyron Woodley

Should fight: Tyron Woodley
Why they should fight: Former UFC lightweight champion dos Anjos continued a successful venture into the welterweight division when he defeated longtime contender Neil Magny.

Dos Anjos earned a first-round submission win to improve to 2-0 since he moved up to 170 pounds earlier this year. The Brazilian has made a quick rise in the division, and he would have already fought for the title against Woodley (18-3-1 MMA, 8-2-1 UFC) in July if Demian Maia had been unable to accept.

Woodley is still nursing some injuries from his UFC 214 win over Maia, but that works perfectly for the Brazilian, who said he’s eager to take some time off after two fights in three months. Although Woodley somewhat dismissed dos Anjos as a legitimate next challenger at this time, there are few better options available in the weight class. Dos Anjos’ performance against Magny paired with his status as a former UFC titleholder should get him the next shot.

Amanda Nunes

Should fight: Raquel Pennington
Why they should fight: Watch the video above to see why Nunes should face Pennington (9-5 MMA, 6-2 UFC) for her third title defense.

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

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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

UFC champ Amanda Nunes thinks she won 4 of 5 rounds, plans to take off rest of 2017

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EDMONTON – UFC women’s bantamweight champ Amanda Nunes has no doubt she dominated Valentina Shevchenko, winning four of five rounds in their rematch at UFC 215.

“I think in the fourth, she got me a little bit,” Nunes (14-4 MMA, 7-1 UFC) said backstage at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, which hosted the pay-per-view headliner. “But I think it’s a unanimous decision. I think she won the fourth.”

Two of three judges gave Nunes 48-47 scores while one dissented 48-47 for Shevchenko (14-2 MMA, 3-1 UFC) in a closely contested – and tough to score – split decision.

The fight played out more like an intense sparring session than fight. Interestingly, Shevchenko was the consensus winner of three of five rounds, though scores were all over the place and ultimately went to Nunes.

Many boos accompanied the tactical fight, but champ Nunes said her priority was not on delivering a crowd-pleasing fight. Instead, she wanted to answer critics of her stamina.

“I wanted to make this fight for the crowd, but tonight, this fight was for me,” she said. “To go five rounds, to prove I’m the best, (and) that I’m here for a reason.”

Nunes admitted it was tough to maintain her composure after injuring her foot in the second round. Plus, the sinusitis that forced her to withdraw last-minute from a UFC 213 headliner against Shevchenko was once again in full effect. Then there were intruding thoughts about the fate of her new house and car, which are currently endangered by Hurricane Irma in her adopted homeland of South Florida.

“You work so hard to get them, and I’m here and I can’t do anything about it,” she said.

What Nunes can do now is fix the health problems that have hindered her career. She said she will next undergo corrective surgery for her sinuses, taking the rest of the year off to recover.

“This is the first thing,” she said. “It’s still very bad. I’m still very congested.

“I think I’m going to take some time off because this is my breathing, and I have to take care of it. Sometimes, I can’t sleep at night. I think I’m going to take a break, and next year, I will come back.”

When she does, she will find a very fired-up Shevchenko waiting. The Kyrgyzstan native said she’ll ask the UFC for a third fight and may appeal the result.

Nunes said she delayed surgery so she could shut up Shevchenko. She may not have succeeded in doing that, but as far as what happened in the octagon, she holds her head high.

“I saved a lot of energy and made her do all the work,” Nunes said. “This was the strategy. Make her miss, make her do all the work, and then wait for the best moments to change the rounds.

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

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Source: MMA Junkie

Valentina Shevchenko will ask UFC for third fight with Amanda Nunes

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EDMONTON – UFC women’s bantamweight title challenger Valentina Shevchenko seeks a third fight with champ Amanda Nunes after a split-decision loss at UFC 215.

“I want my title, and I’m ready to take one more fight against Amanda because I don’t agree, and I know it was my fight,” Shevchenko told reporters following Saturday’s pay-per-view headliner at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. “If I have to fight her next, it will for sure be my victory.

“It’s difficult to say, because the UFC has to make the decision. But I will ask for the rematch.”

Shevchenko (14-3 MMA, 3-2 UFC) indicated she would happily put off a move to the new women’s flyweight division, which might better suit her frame, in favor of another crack at “The Lioness.” Against Nunes (15-4 MMA, 8-1 UFC), she appeared to be slightly undersized, though she was adamant she won rounds two through four – and was even confident she’d done enough in the final frame despite giving up a takedown.

“I agree when it’s totally right,” Shevchenko said. “If you lost, you lost. But if you didn’t lose, but the decision goes to the other side, you feel it’s totally not right.”

The judges’ decision was so poor in Shevchenko’s mind that she entertained the idea of appealing the loss, even if she doubted the efficacy of such a move.

“If I can, I will, because I totally don’t agree,” she said. “But I know from my experience, if judges make a decision once, it’s very difficult to change their mind.”

The close fight left Shevchenko with a dislocated finger in the first round of the fight courtesy of a punch from Nunes. The rest of the camp’s offense she downplayed as a factor by which judges could deny her the win. A late takedown from Nunes was nothing more than a chance to hold position while she struck from the bottom.

“It should be a clear victory,” Shevcheno said. “But from this fight, you can see on her face and my face who landed more punches. I had stitches on my skin because I hit her teeth. I totally disagree.”

Now, she’ll have to convince the UFC that the decision is controversial enough to justify putting them in the cage a third time. It was less than two years ago that Nunes handed her a decision loss in their first meeting before winning the title.

Down two fights, Shevchenko anticipates the UFC will have some thinking to do. But she hopes they’ll come to the decision she feels is just.

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

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Source: MMA Junkie

A game of inches, a questionable decision, and an uncertain future for the women's 135-pound class

When she found out she’d lost, Valentina Shevchenko was as fired up as she’d been all night.

Five rounds in the cage with UFC women’s bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes in the UFC 215 main event, and you never saw that kind of sustained intensity out of her. As soon as the matter was decided, however, and in a split decision that went for Nunes (15-4 MMA, 8-1 UFC)? Then Shevchenko (14-3 MMA, 3-2 UFC) seemed ready to go another 25 minutes.

“She didn’t hit (me) one time, not one punch, nothing significant,” Shevchenko said in her post-fight interview. “Look at her face. Her nose is red from my punches. And why is she still, she’s still (the champion). I really don’t understand.”

Of course, if the decision had gone the other way – and it easily could have, since a single point on a single scorecard swayed the outcome – Nunes would likely have been standing there saying some version of the same thing, only in a slightly different accent. She probably would have felt just as justified, too, since that’s how it goes with these kinds of fights.

For the better part of five rounds, Shevchenko fought with her back nearly touching the fence, her offense based on counter-punching and the occasional forward lunge. She never really hurt Nunes, just as Nunes never really hurt her, and she pinned her title hopes on winning a game of inches.

The problem with that approach is it leaves little room for error or misinterpretation. You need the judges to see everything you’re doing, and to appreciate it all, without even the slightest interference. There are a lot of ways for that strategy to go wrong, as Shevchenko discovered when she dropped to 0-2 against Nunes in a tortured rivalry that accidentally took some of the shine of the women’s 135-pound belt.

In a lot of ways, this is the worst-case scenario. Nunes already took a public opinion hit when she pulled out of the last scheduled fight with Shevchenko at UFC 214 due to illness. UFC President Dana White went out of his way to paint her as psychologically weak, which had to hurt her popularity, and she’s bound to get more unpopular still after winning a close and somewhat questionable decision.

So where does the women’s bantamweight division go from here? Gone are the days of the superstar Ronda Rousey. Gone even are the days of Miesha Tate, who was surprisingly resilient as the next best thing.

There’s no obvious contender for Nunes to face next. It’s not even obvious whether or not the UFC trusts her enough to give her the headliner role, since here she only stumbled into it by default after a late scratch of the men’s flyweight title bout.

Strange to think that it’s only been a little over a year since Nunes won the belt. Stranger still to think that, with her second successful title defense, she’s easily the most dominant champion the division has known in the post-Rousey era.

Unfortunately for Nunes and the UFC, all that doesn’t exactly add up to stardom. Instead, it leaves us with a bunch of questions. What both parties have to hope for is that fans still care enough to stick around for the answers.

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

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Source: MMA Junkie