Sean Shelby's Shoes: What's next for Tony Ferguson, Demetrious Johnson and UFC 216's other winners?

(ALSO SEE: Sean Shelby’s Shoes: What’s next for UFC 216’s losing fighters?)

UFC 216 took place on Saturday at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas with a pay-per-view main card that saw every winner beat her or his opponent by some form of submission.

The two championship fight finishes were especially impressive, with Tony Ferguson (23-3 MMA, 13-1 UFC) winning the interim lightweight title against Kevin Lee (16-3 MMA, 9-3 UFC) in the main event while Demetrious Johnson (27-2-1 MMA, 15-1-1 UFC) produced more excellence with his historic flyweight title defense against Ray Borg (11-3 MMA, 5-3 UFC) in the co-headliner.

Fabricio Werdum (22-7-1 MMA, 10-4 UFC) and Mara Romero Borella (12-4 MMA, 1-0 UFC) forced their opponent so tap out in short order, picking up wins early in the first round. The main card also featured one fight that didn’t produce a winner, as Evan Dunham and Beneil Dariush fought to a draw.

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 216’s winning fighters.

* * * *

Mara Romero Borella

Andrea LeeShould fight: Andrea Lee
Why they should fight: Just the second women’s flyweight fight in UFC history went in the favor of Romero Borella, who earned a main card victory over fellow promotional newcomer Kalindra Faria.

Romero Borella made her UFC debut on less than a week’s notice and managed to top a seasoned veteran in Faria by first-round submission, immediately putting her on the radar in the budding 125-pound division.

She will likely have to wait a little while to get another fight as the UFC rolls out the new weight class with the ongoing season of “The Ultimate Fighter,” which will crown the inaugural women’s flyweight champion.

Romero Borella could fight anyone who doesn’t make it to the finals of that show, but giving her a fight with Lee (8-2 MMA, 0-0 UFC), who she stepped in for at the event, in the first quarter of 2018 would also be an option that would work.

Fabricio Werdum

Should fight: Cain Velasquez
Why they should fight: Former UFC heavyweight champion Werdum bounced back from his loss to Alistair Overeem over the summer with a crucial first-round submission of outmatched last-minute replacement Walt Harris.

Had he lost, Werdum would be 1-3 in his past four octagon appearances. Instead, he’s 2-2 and can still make the argument he’s one of the top contenders in the heavyweight division.

Although Werdum seems to believe the win over Harris puts him at the top of the line to rematch current UFC champ Stipe Miocic, that’s not likely to be the case. He can strengthen his argument with another win against a contender, and if Velasquez (13-2 MMA, 11-2 UFC) can get healthy, it’s the fight to make.

Werdum won the UFC title from Velasquez by submission at UFC 188 in June 2015. The promotion has attempted to set up a rematch several times since, but for one reason or another it hasn’t happened. Velasquez recently said he’s seeking a return to action in early 2018, and that would be a perfect timeframe for Werdum’s return.

Demetrious Johnson

Sergio Pettis

Should fight: Winner of Henry Cejudo vs. Sergio Pettis at UFC 218
Why they should fight: Watch the video above to see why Johnson should fight the winner of the UFC 218 bout between Cejudo (11-2 MMA, 5-2 UFC) and Pettis (16-2 MMA, 7-2 UFC) next for his 12th consecutive title defense.

Tony Ferguson

Should fight: Conor McGregor
Why they should fight: Watch the video above to see why Ferguson should meet McGregor (21-3 MMA, 9-1 UFC) next in a lightweight title unification bout.

For complete coverage of UFC 216, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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Source: MMA Junkie

UFC's Jeff Novitzky explains exemption for Kalindra Faria and Mara Romero Borella

A rule in the UFC’s anti-doping policy cost Andrea Lee her spot on UFC 216. Should the same have applied to her opponent, and the replacement who took her spot?
Lee (8-2 MMA, 0-0 UFC), a first-time UFC fighter, was removed when it was discovered she had a previous anti-doping violation, which required her to enter the USADA drug testing pool for six months prior to fighting in the octagon.
Kalindra Faria (18-5 MMA, 0-0 UFC), Lee’s scheduled opponent, had no previous anti-doping violations. But as a UFC newcomer, it appeared she was subject to a rule requiring new fighters to be in the testing pool for one month. The same followed for Mara Romero Borella, the opponent who eventually replaced Lee. Yet both Faria and Boreal were exempted from the rule.
MMAjunkie reached out to UFC anti-doping partner USADA to clarify the situation. USADA deferred questions to UFC VP of Athlete Relations Jeff Novitzky, who said the UFC considers the new bout an injury replacement, despite the fact neither replaced an injured fighter.
“As Paige (VanZant) was injured, this fight really replaces the Paige vs. Jessica Eye fight,” Novitzky said. “So it fits under that criteria.”
Rule 5.7.6 of the UFC’s anti-doping policy indicates the exemption applies to the circumstance in which a fighter steps in for an injured fighter. An exemption is permitted “automatically” when a fighter “is named to a fight card as a replacement for an athlete who was withdrawn from the Fight Card due to loss of eligibility, injury or other event not reasonably foreseeable to UFC.”
But Novitzky said the rule is applied more broadly in cases in which an injury to one fighter causes an entire bout to be scrapped from the event, and a new bout is booked to replace it. As MMAjunkie previously reported, VanZant (7-3 MMA, 3-2 UFC) withdrew from UFC 216 with a back injury. Eye (11-6 MMA, 1-5 UFC) declined to face Lee on short notice, opening up a spot on Saturday’s pay-per-view card at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
Novitzky said the UFC and USADA work together when short-notice replacements arise, with the promotion clearing details with the anti-doping agency “to make sure they have a comfort level that the circumstances fall under any given section in the policy.”
However, he added, the ultimate authority in whether an exemption is granted lies with USADA.
“We worked with USADA to put the rules together, but they are sole authority on enforcing the rules of the policy,” Novitzky said.
With injuries and last-minute withdrawals a constant in the UFC’s business, the exemption is part of a balancing act for the promotion. One one side, its goal is to have the most comprehensive anti-doping program in sports. On the other, it needs flexibility when it needs to fill fight cards.
The issue was brought into focus this past December when Angela Hill, a strawweight UFC veteran fighting for the all-female Invicta FC, was called up on short notice only to be scratched because of a four-month window required of returning athletes. Several UFC vets then complained the anti-doping program effectively shut them out, as short-notice fights are often the only chance for a return. The UFC eventually waived Hill’s testing window, arguing it was manifestly unfair to apply it.
The exemption has been a source of controversy, however. The promotion was embarrassed after it granted one to returning ex-champ Brock Lesnar, only to see him fail a drug test that was collected prior to a winning fight with Mark Hunt at UFC 200, but not reported until after the event.
In February, when the UFC and USADA revised the anti-doping policy, the one-month injury exemption was added, while the window for athletes returning from retirement was extended to six months. For the former, Novitzky said the intention of the rule was to provide a more level playing field to athletes who’d previously competed for the UFC without any anti-doping incidents and were released by the promotion for competitive reasons.
“We saw that that wasn’t really fair,” Novitzky said. “So we changed that scenario and added the scenario we’re talking about here.”
Novitzky admits the one-month exemption also exposes the promotion to more possible anti-doping issues. Without prior testing, it is relying on the assurances of fighters and managers who have little vested interest in telling the truth about drug use. But he points to “checks and balances” put in place as a deterrent.
One check, he said, is a comprehensive review process prior to a fight booking that checks fighters’ medical, legal and anti-doping history. In the case of Lee, he said, that process was underway when the media erroneously reported the fight was booked.
“The medical team will vet a fighter to make sure they’re medically cleared, and our legal team looks at immigration and code of conduct and criminal history, and my team as well,” he said.
Another is a new rule recently adopted by the Association of Boxing Commissions to include USADA suspensions in an administrative database followed by all major athletic commissions.
“The commissions can choose what they want to do with that, but the reality is most reputable commissions are going to see those USADA suspensions and adhere to it,” he said. “And that’s good, because say in these last-minute injury replacements or other unforeseen reasons a fighter gets in there, knows they were doing something and says, ‘Hey, I want to fight anyway, this is my foot in the door.’ What’s more than likely going to happen is that fighter is tested fight night, comes back positive – now, not only are they going to be prevented from fighting in the UFC for an extended period of time, if not forever, but the odds of them returning to the regional or local show because of that suspension on the database are just diminished, as well. So it’s virtually career suicide.”
When a new UFC fighter is being considered as a short-notice replacement, Novitzky said UFC matchmakers Sean Shelby and Mick Maynard emphasize the consequences if the fighter is not clean.
“We’ve actually seen an uptick in recent instances where managers will tell Mick or Sean, ‘Ah, you know what, I think my guy’s good. He’s not interested,’” Novitzky said. “That’s a great thing. First and foremost, this program is in place to protect the UFC athletes and make our promotion healthier and safer.
“We’re starting to see that, that the trickle-down of information as far as what our program means to these local, regional fighters. Combined that with some of the advances in testing – we’re now seeing tests, and Jon Jones’ case being a perfect example, where chlorinated steroids, there’s now tests for metabolites that go out four to six months.
“I think what this means is that information is passing down to the aspiring UFC fighter that sees: ‘Hey, usually my foot in the door is that last-minute replacement. I never know when that call is coming, and if I’m doing anything within four to six months of that call coming, I’m screwed. I’m not going to be able to fight, and if I do, it’s one and done.’ I think really positive development.”
Of course, as with any program, it’s not perfect. The UFC has signed first-time fighters on short-notice, only to see them subsequently fail drug tests. Novitzky, though, defends the current policy as an effective compromise in regulatory oversight.
“The comprehensiveness and strength of the program is important, but it’s just as important to have fairness and due process,” Novitzky said. “I think a lot of these aspiring UFC fighters, their ability to have that foot in the door comes from these last-minute replacements. So to put something in place where we wouldn’t have the ability to do that wouldn’t be fair to them.
“Now, on the other side, there are those checks and balances. We don’t want want to put fighters in that are dirty. And so we have those checks and balances. But it’s clearly a balancing act.”
For more on UFC 216, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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

Andrea Lee talks USADA rule that scrapped UFC 216 debut, clears air on previously failed drug test

Former Invicta FC flyweight champ and current UFC fighter Andrea Lee has entered the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency testing pool, though she’d rather her addition have been less dramatic.

The good news, she told MMAjunkie, is that she can get the whole thing behind her more quickly.

“If this short-notice opportunity hadn’t happened now, and I got the call next year, the same thing probably would’ve happened,” Lee said. “I’d still be in the boat.”

Lee (8-2 MMA, 0-0 UFC) was scratched from her scheduled debut at UFC 216 against Kalindra Faria (18-5-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC) when UFC anti-doping partner USADA ruled her out based on a previous suspension for diuretics. Faria will now face Mara Romero Borella(11-4 MMA, 0-0 UFC) on the pay-per-view main card, which takes place Saturday at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

Per the UFC’s anti-doping policy, fighters with previous anti-doping violations are required to be available for random testing six months prior to fighting, or two months longer than fighters newly signed to the promotion.

With the clock now running on her period of ineligibility, Lee can fight in April 2018.

“I’ve already started my enrollment papers (with USADA), so they should be coming to test me any day now,” she said.

When she got an offer to fight Faria at UFC 216, the result of an impressive performance at LFA 23 on Sept. 22, Lee said she and her head coach/husband Donny Aaron were more worried about getting in the proper paperwork for the event – medicals, Reebok sizes, and her walkout music.

As far as she knew, she had resolved her case with the Nevada State Athletic Commission, which agreed to a nine-month suspension that ran its course this past December. The commission found a pair of diuretics – canrenone and spironolactone – following her submission loss to Sarah D’Alelio at Invicta FC 16 in March 2016.

But as it turned out, there is one more hurdle to pass before Lee officially becomes a UFC fighter.

In the wake of her removal, she’s made it a priority to fill out every requirement of the UFC’s anti-doping program, which includes watching a 25-minute video about anti-doping, taking a quiz, watching four additional videos, and then acclimating to the whereabouts forms that allow the agency to keep track of fighters at all times.

For Lee, it’s a dizzying amount of paperwork to fight in the big show.

“It kind of sucks,” she said. “I have to give them all my information. There was one part where they were talking about an app that’s more like a tracking device, and I was like, ‘I don’t know about that.’”

But if it’s what she needs to go, Lee will happily comply. She feels there are a lot of misconceptions about her positive test and would like to clear the air.

Although she acknowledges the fact that many will never believe any explanation, she said fans have the wrong idea about her. While she admits she took a “fluid pill” to assist her weight cut, she insists she did not take it to cheat.

“Just understand that when I was suspended and tested positive for a substance, the substance was a fluid pill,” Lee said. “It was the use of a diuretic. I was not under the influence of anything else. I’ve never done steroids.

“I’m honestly a clean fighter. I give all my credit to my nutrition and NutraBio, a supplement company, eating well and training hard. But a lot of people are confused. They automatically assume that I was tested and positive and cheating. I wasn’t cheating. That’s not what I was using the fluid pill for. It was for cutting weight, because I was bloated, and I was retaining water, and I was worried that I was going to struggle, and I thought, ‘Why not just use the fluid pill to help me pee?’ That’s one thing I want to clear the air about.”

Lee said she’ll come back stronger from the situation, adding that fans should expect to see an exciting debut in April. Hopefully, the only dramatic thing will be her performance.

“I guess more explaining for an athlete that’s ever been suspended for anything,” Lee said when asked how situations like hers could be avoided in the future. “I don’t know. It’s all new to me. To them, it’s our fault – we should know and everything. I don’t know.

“I’m content with it now. It’s taken me a few days to come down after everything and accept that I’m just going to have to wait. Which is fine – I wasn’t expecting to get a call to fight in the UFC until the very end of this year. So six months isn’t a big deal.”

For more on UFC 216, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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

Kalindra Faria remains on Saturday's UFC 216 fight card with main-card slot

Kalindra Faria will remain on Saturday’s UFC 216 lineup – with a main-card slot, no less.

After would-be opponent Andrea Lee (8-2 MMA, 0-0 UFC) was recently forced off the card, it wasn’t clear if Faria (18-5-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC) would be pulled too.

However, UFC officials today added recent Invicta FC competitor Mara Romero Borella (11-4 MMA, 0-0 UFC) vs. Faria to Saturday’s UFC 216 main card.

UFC 216 takes place at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, and the main card, including Faria vs. Borella, airs on pay-per-view following prelims on FX and UFC Fight Pass.

Faria, a 31-year-old Brazilian, made her pro debut nearly nine years ago. She’s currently on a three-fight winning streak, which included a September 2016 decision victory over vet Carina Damm to claim the Titan FC women’s bantamweight title. Thirteen of her 18 career wins have come via stoppage.

She now meets Borella, a 31-year-old Italian fighter who recently earned a split-decision victory over Milana Dudieva in Invicta FC 24’s main event. It marked her fifth straight victory, which included a host of appearances on the European circuit. Seven of her 11 career wins have come via stoppage.

The full UFC 216 lineup now includes:

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

  • Tony Ferguson vs. Kevin Lee – for interim lightweight title
  • Champ Demetrious Johnson vs. Ray Borg – for flyweight title
  • Derrick Lewis vs. Fabricio Werdum
  • Mara Romero Borella vs. Kalindra Faria
  • Beneil Dariush vs. Evan Dunham

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

  • Tom Duquesnoy vs. Cody Stamann
  • Will Brooks vs. Nik Lentz
  • Bobby Green vs. Lando Vannata
  • Poliana Botelho vs. Pearl Gonzalez

PRELIMINARY CARD (UFC Fight Pass, 6:15 p.m. ET)

  • Mark Godbeer vs. Walt Harris
  • Magomed Bibulatov vs. John Moraga
  • Thales Leites vs. Brad Tavares
  • Marco Beltran vs. Matt Schnell

For more on UFC 216, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

Andrea Lee releases statement on scrapped UFC 216 bout

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Filed under: News, UFC

Andrea Lee has gone from being tabbed for a UFC debut on about a weeks’ notice to having to wait six more months to step in the octagon for the first time.

Lee (8-2 MMA, 0-0 UFC), the current LFA women’s flyweight champion and an Invicta FC vet, was set as a late-notice addition to next Saturday’s UFC 216 lineup. She was expected to face Kalindra Faria (18-5-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC) in just the second women’s 125-pound fight in UFC history, but less than 24 hours later, she was off the card.

The UFC’s drug-testing partner, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), typically calls for a four-month testing period for newly signed talent. Exceptions can be made for short-notice signees or replacements, but Lee’s history puts her into a unique category.

The fact “KGB” failed a drug test due to a banned diuretic prior to a March 2016 Invicta FC fight means she must undergo an additional six months of randomized drug testing before she can fight in the UFC, as she explained in a statement (via Instagram):

Instagram Photo

Although disappointed, Lee said the break could be for the best. She’s fought four times this year alone, with her most recent bout a second-round submission win over Jamie Thorton in the recent LFA 23 earlier (check out the highlights above).

“It’ll be a short six months,” Lee wrote. “I’ll be back. I had four fights this year. Body probably needs a short rest then a four month camp.”

For more on UFC 216, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

Report: Andrea Lee out of UFC 216 vs. Kalindra Faria – and Sarah Kaufman wants in

Not long after finding herself on next week’s UFC 216 card, it appears Andrea Lee will have to wait a while to make her promotional debut.

According to a report from MMAFighting.com, Lee (8-2 MMA, 0-0 UFC) won’t be able to meet fellow promotional newcomer Kalindra Faria (18-5 MMA, 0-0 UFC) in Las Vegas because of a past positive drug test. That positive test, by rule, means Lee has to be in USADA’s testing pool for six months.

UFC officials had not yet made a formal announcement of the booking, and also haven’t made an announcement about Lee’s status.

UFC 216 takes place next Saturday, Oct. 7, at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The main card airs on pay-per-view following prelims on FX and UFC Fight Pass.

It’s possible Faria could remain on the card – and if she does, she already has a willing opponent in former Strikeforce women’s bantamweight champ Sarah Kaufman (18-4 MMA, 1-2 UFC). Kaufman posted on her Twitter account after hearing news of Lee’s removal that she would step up for the fight.

“I’ll step in at 135lb with Kalindra next week!” Kaufman wrote. “Talk of us fighting at 135 in December, so let’s just move it up a few months.”

Sarah Kaufman

Kaufman became a free agent after a split-decision loss to Valentina Shevchenko at UFC on FOX 19 in December 2015. It was her second straight setback. The UFC did not re-sign her after the loss. After 16 months off, she fought earlier this year in South Korea and took a decision from Jessy Rose-Clark for her first victory in nearly three years. Now she’s hoping the UFC will give her another shot.

Kaufman started her pro career 12-0, including a Strikeforce title win and defense. She lost the belt to Marloes Coenen in October 2010, but then won three straight to get another shot against Ronda Rousey, who had become the titleholder. She tapped to Rousey’s signature armbar in 54 seconds.

Faria is a 31-year-old Brazilian who made her pro debut nearly nine years ago. She’s currently on a three-fight winning streak, which includes a September 2016 decision victory over vet Carina Damm to claim the Titan FC women’s bantamweight title. Thirteen of Faria’s 18 career wins have come via stoppage.

Lee, a 28-year-old Texan, fought earlier this month and defended her LFA belt with a second-round submission victory over Jamie Thorton. It marked her first title defense. Lee, who’s also an Invicta FC vet and former Legacy FC champion, has four straight wins. But it’ll be some time now before she gets back to action.

The latest UFC 216 card includes:

  • Tony Ferguson vs. Kevin Lee – for interim lightweight title
  • Champ Demetrious Johnson vs. Ray Borg – for flyweight title
  • Derrick Lewis vs. Fabricio Werdum
  • Beneil Dariush vs. Evan Dunham
  • Tom Duquesnoy vs. Cody Stamann
  • Will Brooks vs. Nik Lentz
  • Bobby Green vs. Lando Vannata
  • Poliana Botelho vs. Pearl Gonzalez
  • Mark Godbeer vs. Walt Harris
  • Magomed Bibulatov vs. John Moraga
  • Thales Leites vs. Brad Tavares
  • Marco Beltran vs. Matt Schnell
  • Kalindra Faria vs. TBA

For more on UFC 216, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

Andrea Lee vs. Kalindra Faria a late addition to next week's UFC 216 lineup

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Filed under: AXS TV Fights, News, UFC

Next week’s UFC 216 lineup will apparently have 13 fights, after all.

A women’s flyweight bout between Paige VanZant (7-3 MMA, 3-2 UFC) and Jessica Eye (11-6 MMA, 1-5 UFC) was recently removed from the card, but another female fight has been added: LFA 125-pound champion Andrea Lee (8-2 MMA, 0-0 UFC) vs. fellow promotional newcomer Kalindra Faria (18-5 MMA, 0-0 UFC).

Lee tweeted news of the bout following an initial report from MMAFighting.com. UFC officials, though, haven’t made a formal announcement.

UFC 216 takes place Oct. 7 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, and it airs on pay-per-view following prelims on FX and UFC Fight Pass.

It’s not clear where Lee vs. Faria will be placed on the lineup, though it could take the open PPV slot in the wake of the VanZant-Eye cancellation.

Lee, a 28-year-old Texan, fought this past week and defended her LFA belt with a second-round submission victory over Jamie Thorton (watch the highlights above). It marked her first title defense. Lee, who’s also an Invicta FC vet and former Legacy FC champion, now has four straight wins.

Prior to her latest win, Lee explained why she didn’t take a spot on “The Ultimate Fighter 26,” which crowns the UFC’s inaugural flyweight champion. Lee – now proven correct – said she thought she could make it to the UFC even without a “TUF” spot.

She now meets Faria, a 31-year-old Brazilian who made her pro debut nearly nine years ago. She’s currently on a three-fight winning streak, which included a September 2016 decision victory over vet Carina Damm to claim the Titan FC wome’s bantamweight title.

Thirteen of Faria’s 18 career wins have come via stoppage.

The latest UFC 216 card includes:

  • Tony Ferguson vs. Kevin Lee – for interim lightweight title
  • Champ Demetrious Johnson vs. Ray Borg – for flyweight title
  • Derrick Lewis vs. Fabricio Werdum
  • Beneil Dariush vs. Evan Dunham
  • Tom Duquesnoy vs. Cody Stamann
  • Will Brooks vs. Nik Lentz
  • Bobby Green vs. Lando Vannata
  • Poliana Botelho vs. Pearl Gonzalez
  • Mark Godbeer vs. Walt Harris
  • Magomed Bibulatov vs. John Moraga
  • Thales Leites vs. Brad Tavares
  • Marco Beltran vs. Matt Schnell
  • Kalindra Faria vs. Andrea Lee

For more on UFC 216, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

Filed under: AXS TV Fights, News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

LFA 23 highlights: Sabina Mazo strikes again with another nasty head kick KO

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A pair of titles were on the line Friday night at LFA 23, but it was Sabina Mazo who stole the show again.

Mazo (4-0) picked up her second straight first-round head-kick knockout when she took out Linsey Williams (0-2) to continue building her name in the women’s flyweight division.

The fight took place at LFA 23, which aired on AXS TV from Bossier City Casino Hotel in Louisiana.

In the main event, James Nakashima (8-0) took the welterweight title from Derrick Krantz (20-10) with a split decision in a fight plagued by an eye poke and low blow that Krantz’s corner said contributed to the loss.

In the co-feature, women’s flyweight champion Andrea Lee (8-2) defended her belt with a second-round submission of Jamie Thorton (4-4). In addition, check out Peter Stanonik’s (5-2) second-round knockout of Kendrick Williams (1-1).

Check out all the highlights above.

For more on LFA 23, check out the MMA Events section of the site.

Filed under: AXS TV Fights, News, Videos
Source: MMA Junkie

LFA 23 results: James Nakashima takes home title in foul-marred affair

It wasn’t the prettiest of contests, but James Nakashima (8-0) is now the LFA welterweight champion after earning a decision win over Derrick Krantz (20-10) in a 25-minute affair.

The bout served as the main event of Friday’s LFA 23, which aired on AXS TV from Bossier City Hotel Casino & Hotel in Louisiana.

The two fighters were quick to engage, with both mean throwing heavy leather to start the fight. A Krantz counter left scored a flash knockdown in the opening minute, but Nakashima popped right back to his feet. The two continued to exchange in the standup game, with both men favoring boxing attacks. Late in the frame, a Nakashima eye poke drew blood from Krantz’s left eye, and the doctor was brought in to assess the visible damage. Krantz was clearly irritated by the unintentional illegal blow but wanted to continue, and after a lengthy evaluation, he was granted his request – and without a point deduction for the infraction – and the two continued to trade, albeit at a slower pace, until the bell.

The action picked up again to start the second, with Nakashima taking the center and pushing the pace. Krantz fired back valiantly, and the two traded on the feet until the final minute, when Nakashima briefly moved inside but was unable to do anything from the clinch and had to pull away. All the while, blood continued to stream down from a nasty cut on Krantz’s left eyelid.

The two continued their exchanges in the third, until Nakashima landed a low blow – his second of the contest – and Krantz again was forced to take a rest. On the restart, Krantz seemed energized, perhaps angered, and immediately forced the issue, but Nakashima did work back to the center and settle the aggression.

Exchanges continued on the fourth, with Nakashima working to a clinch but again unable to do anything with the position. Krantz’s striking found the occasional hole, but Nakashima always seemed to snap back with a counter. Late in the frame, Nakashima finally was able to work the fight to the floor and moved to his opponent’s back, but he wasn’t able to find a submission before the bell.

In the final round, the takedown came much quicker. Krantz was just a little too tired to get back to his feet, and Nakashima was happy to hold top position and let time tick away. Nakashima did look for a few opportunities to lock in a submission or advance position, but Krantz did just enough to keep himself safe. With time winding down, Krantz was able to isolate the left arm and worked hard for a comeback win, but Nakashima pulled the limb free and finished the round, taking the fight with a bizarrely scored split-decision, 49-46, 47-48 and 50-45.

Afterward, things nearly took an ugly turn, with Krantz’s corner angered at the fouls that took place in the contest, but cooler heads prevailed, and the contestants were ushered out of the cage.

Andrea Lee shines on finish-filled main card

In the night’s co-feature, LFA women’s flyweight champion Andrea Lee (8-2) against a tough but overmatched Jamie Thorton (4-4).

The two fighters were content to kickbox in the early going, with Lee pushing forward but Thorton retreating and looking four opportunities to counter. Lee wowed with a crisp spinning backfist early, but it was attacks to the legs that really slowed her opponent. Sensing the opportunity to finish early, Lee unleashed a barrage of vicious punches and elbows in the closing seconds of the first frame, but Thorton was able to make it to the bell.

Thorton was floored again to open the second and in visible pain when Lee backed away and allowed her to slowly rise. Once Thorton was back on her feet, Lee continues to barrage of punches, elbows and knees. Thorton showed grit, absorbing the damage and looking to take the fight to the floor, but Lee reversed and worked to side control, isolating the left arm and earning a tap with a kimura at the 2:54 mark.

In a featured light heavyweight contest, Ryan Spann (11-5) rebounded from a disappointing July loss at Dana White’s Contender Series 3 with an impressive first-round finish of LeMarcus Tucker (5-3). Spann took the fight to the floor early and sliced open his opponent with elbows before moving to the back and getting a tapout via rear-naked choke at the 2:55 mark of the first frame.

The evening’s early televised action featured a trio of finishes, but none was more impressive than women’s flyweight prospect Sabina Mazo (4-0), who scored her second straight first-round knockout victory via high kick. This time around, the victim was Linsey Williams (0-2).

LFA 23 results include:

  • James Nakashima def. Derrick Krantz via (split decision (49-46, 47-48, 50-45) – to claim welterweight title
  • Andrea Lee def. Jamie Thorton via submission (kimura) – Round 2, 2:54 – to retain women’s flyweight title
  • Ryan Spann def. LeMarcus Tucker via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 1, 2:55
  • Bryan Billiot def. Brandon Shavers via submission (heel hook) – Round 2, 3:07
  • Sabina Mazo def. Linsey Williams via knockout (head kick) – Round 1, 4:26
  • Peter Stanonik def. Kendrick Williams via knockout (punches) – Round 2, 4:18

For more on LFA 23, check out the MMA Events section of the site.

Filed under: AXS TV Fights, News
Source: MMA Junkie

LFA champ Andrea Lee returns tonight at LFA 23, but why isn't she on 'TUF 26'?

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Filed under: AXS TV Fights, Featured Videos, News, UFC, Videos

Officials say 14 fighters – 14! – turned down a fight tonight with LFA champ Andrea Lee. So why didn’t she just take a slot on “The Ultimate Fighter 26”?

Lee (7-2), the inaugural and reigning LFA women’s flyweight champion, co-headlines tonight’s LFA 23 event against challenger Jamie Morton (4-3), which airs on AXS TV from Bossier City Hotel Casino & Hotel in Bossier, La.

Morton has lost two straight – she was on the receiving end of a brutal Sabina Mazo head-kick KO earlier this year – but she was willing to fight Lee when so many others apparently weren’t.

So why didn’t Lee take a spot on the cast of “TUF 26,” the latest installment of the UFC’s long-running reality series – one that crowns the UFC’s first 125-pound female champion and would guarantee the 28-year-old “KGB” would have no trouble securing matchups?

“Well, I chose not to do it,” she told AXS TV’s Phoenix Carnevale.

More specifically, an injury and an aversion to reality TV also factored in to her decision.

“At the time, I had a back injury, and I just thought that it was probably better for me not to go to the ‘TUF’ house,” Lee said. “I felt like I was already established enough that I didn’t need the ‘TUF’ house to get me into the UFC.

” … I’m scheduled to fight again for (Invicta FC) before the end of the year, and I’m looking forward to that. So hopefully at the beginning of next year y’all will see me in the UFC. Who knows?”

Of course, sharing a house with 15 or so other fighters and possible opponents – on reality TV – wasn’t exactly a selling point either.

“Not my thing,” Lee said. ” … I think I need my time, and I need my space to prepare and get mentally ready for all of my fights.”

As for Morton, who’s likely to be a significant underdog when the odds open today, she simply wouldn’t pass up an opportunity so many others did.

“In this MMA game, you can not be afraid,” she said. “It’s sad that everybody missed a great opportunity. This is a wonderful opportunity – win, lose or draw – because I get to fight an awesome competitor, and I get my name out there too. So all of those other girls? They lost an awesome opportunity.”

Check out the full interviews above.

And for more on LFA 23, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

(Photo credit: Mike Jackson of mikethetruth.com)

LFA 23 is live on AXS TV tonight at 9 p.m. ET (6 p.m. PT). Make sure to tweet along using #LFA23. AXS TV airs new, live fights almost every Friday night in 2017. Find AXS TV on your TV right here: www.axs.tv/fights.

Filed under: AXS TV Fights, Featured Videos, News, UFC, Videos
Source: MMA Junkie