Sean Shelby's Shoes: What's next for Dustin Poirier and UFC Fight Night 120's other winning fighters?

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UFC Fight Night 120 was touted as one of the most stacked non-pay-per-view and non-FOX cards this year, and in the end, the six-fight main card largely delivered at Ted Constant Convocations Center in Norfolk, Va.

Headliner Dustin Poirier (22-5 MMA, 14-4 UFC) pulled off the crowning performance of the card when he beat former UFC champ Anthony Pettis (20-7 MMA, 7-6 UFC) by third-round stoppage in the FS1-televised bout, continuing his solid run in the 155-pound division.

Elsewhere on the card, Matt Brown (21-16 MMA, 14-10 UFC), Andrei Arlovski (26-15 MMA, 15-9 UFC), Cezar Ferreira (12-6 MMA, 8-4 UFC), Raphael Assuncao (26-5 MMA, 10-2 UFC) and Clay Guida (34-17 MMA, 14-11 UFC) earned victories that ranged from total domination to scorecard squeakers.

After every event, fans wonder whom the winners will be matched up with next. And with another night of UFC action in the rearview mirror, it’s time to look forward, put on a pair of Sean Shelby and Mick Maynard’s shoes, and play UFC matchmaker for UFC Fight Night 120’s winning fighters.

* * * *

Clay Guida

Joseph Duffy

Should fight: Joseph Duffy
Why they should fight: Guida’s return to the UFC lightweight division is proving to be a good one after he moved to 2-0 with a victory over fellow UFC veteran Joe Lauzon.

Despite spending a decade together under the UFC banner, Guida and Lauzon had never crossed paths. When it finally happened, “The Carpenter” pulled off a first-round TKO victory over Lauzon to continue his revival in the 155-pound division.

Guida said his stint in the featherweight division was only to provide “star power” to the weight class, but he admitted lightweight is best for him. He believes he can do big things, but at 35 and with more than 50 pro fights, it remains to be seen how far he can go.

If Guida can consistently rack up wins like he did against Lauzon, he’ll have a place on the UFC roster for as long as he wants. He’s going to get challenging competition every time out, though, and Duffy (16-3 MMA, 4-2 UFC) is a very dangerous fighter.

Duffy is coming off a TKO loss to James Vick at UFC 217 this month and will surely be looking to rebound as quickly as possible. Guida represents a solid name for the Irishman, and Duffy would be a solid win for Guida.

Raphael Assuncao

Cody Garbrandt

Should fight: Cody Garbrandt
Why they should fight: Assuncao emerged victorious in a high-risk fight against an up-and-coming bantamweight when he picked up a brutal third-round knockout of Matthew Lopez.

Lopez came into the fight looking to threaten Assuncao’s status as an established top-five fighter in the 135-pound division. The Brazilian denied that possibility, though, and improved to a ridiculous 10-1 in his past 11 UFC appearances.

There’s good and bad for Assuncao at this point. He owns a victory over newly crowned UFC bantamweight champ T.J. Dillashaw, but he also has a loss to the currently titleholder in their rematch at UFC 200 in July 2016. A trilogy could always happen if the circumstances are right, but at this point, it’s obvious the UFC isn’t eager to push Assuncao into a title shot.

That leaves him in the undesirable position of fighting top opponents until he loses again or wins to the point he can’t be denied. He’ll surely want the latter, and that means taking on the next best available challenge. At this point, recently dethroned champ Garbrandt (11-1 MMA, 6-1 UFC) would be his best way to make a statement.

Cezar Ferreira

Antonio Carlos Junior

Should fight: Antonio Carlos Junior
Why they should fight: Ferreira’s return to the middleweight division has been largely successful. He improved to 4-1 since returning to the weight class after scoring a split-decision victory over tough veteran and former Strikeforce champion Nate Marquardt.

“The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil” winner had had some ups and downs in his UFC tenure, but his form is consistently improving. He caught a version of Marquardt wh’os in the twilight of his career, but beating “The Great” is still a somewhat meaningful accomplishment.

Ferreira has fallen short against his most notable opponents in the past, but against Marquardt, he came through. He needs a solid test at this point, and when it comes to 185-pound fighters on the rise, Carlos Junior (9-2 MMA, 6-2 UFC) looks pretty good.

Carlos Junior is another “TUF: Brazil” winner who is on a four-fight winning streak, which includes a recent submission win over Jack Marshman at UFC Fight Night 119. A matchup between the two reality-show winners is a solid enough narrative, and the fact their skills match up well only makes things better.

Andrei Arlovski

Curtis Blaydes

Should fight: Curtis Blaydes
Why they should fight: Just when Arlovski appeared to be written off for good in the UFC heavyweight division, the former champ rebounded with a crucial victory against Brazilian prospect Junior Albini.

It’s been a rough road for Arlovski in recent years. However, he managed to snap a brutal five-fight losing skid when he picked up a unanimous-decision win over Albini to return to the win column for the first time since September 2015.

Regardless of whether anyone has objections over Arlovski still fighting at this point, the 38-year-old is determined to keep going, even if he has to fight unheralded opponents in the heavyweight division.

That’s a useful item to have for UFC matchmakers, and they will likely continue to use Arlovski as a measuring stick for rising talent. Albini was unable to pass, but perhaps Blaydes (8-1 MMA, 3-1 UFC), who’s another fighter with growing momentum, would have something else to offer “The Pitbull.”

Matt Brown

Should fight: No one
Why: Although Brown has already walked back the possibility of a guaranteed retirement, a brutal knockout of Diego Sanchez seems like a solid way to ride off into the sunset for “The Immortal.”

Brown originally announced his bout with Sanchez would mark his retirement. However, he slowed those conversations ahead of fight night. Even with the first-round knockout of “The Ultimate Fighter 1” winner, it’s still an option worth considering, and Brown seems like he’s going to take some time off to make that decision.

With 24 UFC fights under his belt and at age 36, Brown has gone through the ringer inside the octagon. Every fighter who retires appears to have some measure of reluctance, but for Brown, there’s not much more to prove.

He said a hiatus from competition is coming and that it’s just a matter of whether it sticks. Only time will tell, but regardless of which way it goes, it seems Brown won’t be fighting anytime soon, and for that reason, speculating on matchmaking possibilities is a useless endeavor.

Dustin Poirier

Should fight: Winner of Eddie Alvarez vs. Justin Gaethje at UFC 218
Why they should fight: Watch the video above to see why Poirier should fight the winner of the UFC 218 bout between Alvarez (28-5 MMA, 3-2 UFC) and Gaethje (18-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC) next.

For complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 120, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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UFC Fight Night 120 post-event facts: Matt Brown most prominent KO artist in UFC welterweight history

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The UFC made its fifth stop in Virginia with Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 120 event, which took place at Ted Constant Convocation Center in Norfolk, and aired on FS1 following early prelims on UFC Fight Pass.

In the main event, Dustin Poirier (22-5 MMA, 14-4 UFC) continued to be one of the UFC’s biggest producers of stoppage wins when he defeated former UFC and WEC champ Anthony Pettis (20-7 MMA, 7-6 UFC) by third-round TKO to add another signature win to his resume at 155 pounds.

Poirier’s victory concluded a 13-fight card that had several notable results. For more, check below for 55 post-event facts to come out of UFC Fight Night 120.

* * * *

General

Clay Guida

The UFC-Reebok Athlete Outfitting payout for the event totaled $245,000.

Poirier, Pettis, Matt Brown and Raphael Assuncao earned $50,000 UFC Fight Night 120 fight-night bonuses.

UFC Fight Night 120 drew an announced attendance of 8,442 for a live gate of $642,070.

Betting favorites went 8-4 on the card. One fight had even odds.

Total fight time for the 13-bout card was 2:32:30.

Main card

Dustin Poirier

Poirier improved to 6-1 (with one no-contest) since he returned to the UFC lightweight division in April 2015.

Poirier has earned nine of his 14 UFC victories by stoppage.

Poirier’s 14 victories since 2011 in UFC competition are tied with Max Holloway for third most in the company behind Donald Cerrone (19) and champ Demetrious Johnson (15).

Poirier’s nine stoppage victories since 2011 in UFC competition are tied with Holloway and Tony Ferguson for second most in the company behind Cerrone (13).

Anthony Pettis

Pettis has alternated wins and losses over his past five fights.

Pettis fell to 1-1 since he returned to the UFC lightweight division in July.

Pettis fell to 2-5 in his past seven UFC appearances.

Pettis has suffered both of his career stoppage losses by knockout.

Brown’s (21-16 MMA, 14-10 UFC) 14 victories in UFC welterweight competition are tied for third most in divisional history behind Georges St-Pierre (19) and Matt Hughes (16).

Brown’s 12 stoppage victories in UFC welterweight competition are the most in divisional history.

Brown’s 10 knockout victories in welterweight competition are the most in divisional history.

Matt Brown and Diego Sanchez

Diego Sanchez (27-11 MMA, 16-11 UFC) is now 0-1 since returning to the UFC welterweight division. He’s 9-5 overall at the weight under the UFC banner.

Sanchez fell to 3-6 in his past nine UFC appearances.

Sanchez has suffered all four of his career stoppage losses by knockout.

Andrei Arlovski (26-15 MMA, 15-9 UFC) snapped a five-fight losing skid and earned his first victory since September 2015.

Arlovski improved to 5-5 since he returned to the UFC for a second stint in June 2014.

Arlovski’s 15 victories in UFC heavyweight competition are second most in divisional history behind Frank Mir (16).

Junior Albini

Junior Albini (14-3 MMA, 1-1 UFC) had his 10-fight winning streak snapped for his first defeat since August 2012.

Albini suffered the first decision loss of his career.

Cezar Ferreira (12-6 MMA, 8-4 UFC) improved to 4-1 since he returned to the UFC middleweight division in April 2016.

Ferreira has earned six of his eight UFC victories by decision.

Nate Marquardt (35-19-2 MMA, 14-11 UFC) fell to 3-6 since he returned to the UFC middleweight division in June 2014. He’s 3-9 in his past 12 bouts overall.

Marquardt fell to 3-9 in his past 12 bouts.

Marquardt’s 12 knockdowns landed in UFC middleweight competition are second most in divisional history behind Anderson Silva (13).

Marquardt’s 19 career losses are the most of any active member of the UFC roster.

Raphael Assuncao

Assuncao (26-5 MMA, 10-2 UFC) improved to 10-1 since he dropped to the UFC bantamweight division in August 2011.

Assuncao’s 10 victories in UFC bantamweight competition are tied with Urijah Faber for second most in divisional history behind T.J. Dillashaw (11).

Assuncao earned his first knockout victory since July 11, 2012 – a span of 1,949 days (more than five years) and nine fights.

Matthew Lopez (10-2 MMA, 2-2 UFC) suffered the first knockout loss of his career.

Clay Guida

Clay Guida (34-17 MMA, 14-11 UFC) improved to 2-0 since he returned to the UFC lightweight division in June.

Guida earned his first knockout victory since April 2, 2008 – a span of 3,510 days (more than nine years) and 19 fights.

Joe Lauzon (27-14 MMA, 14-11 UFC) has suffered eight of his 14 career losses by stoppage.

Preliminary card

John Dodson

John Dodson (19-9 MMA, 8-4 UFC) fell to 2-2 since he returned to the UFC bantamweight division in April 2016. He’s 3-2 in the weight class overall.

Dodson has suffered all nine of his career losses by decision.

Tatiana Suarez (5-0 MMA, 2-0 UFC) returned from a more than one-year layoff for her first victory since July 2016.

Viviane Pereira (13-1 MMA, 2-1 UFC) had her 13-fight winning streak snapped for the first defeat of her career.

Sage Northcutt

Sage Northcutt (9-2 MMA, 4-2 UFC) earned the second decision victory of his career. Both those wins have come in his past two fights.

Michel Quinones (8-3 MMA, 0-2 UFC) has suffered two of his three career losses by decision.

Nina Ansaroff (8-5 MMA, 2-2 UFC) earned just the second decision victory of her career and first since Sept. 11, 2010 – a span of 2,618 days (more than seven years) and 12 fights.

Angela Hill (7-4 MMA, 2-4 UFC) fell to 1-2 since she returned to the UFC for a second stint in February. She’s 5-2 since her initial release from the company in late 2015.

Hill has suffered three of her four career losses by decision.

Sean Strickland

Sean Strickland (19-2 MMA, 6-2 UFC) improved to 4-2 since he dropped to the UFC welterweight division in February 2015.

Strickland has earned four of his six UFC victories by decision.

Court McGee (18-7 MMA, 7-6 UFC) fell to 2-3 since he returned from a nearly two-year layoff in December 2015.

McGee fell to 4-4 since he dropped to the welterweight division in February 2013.

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

Jake Collier

Jake Collier (11-3 MMA, 3-3 UFC) has alternated wins and losses over his six-fight UFC career.

Marcel Fortuna (9-3 MMA, 1-2 UFC) has suffered all three of his career losses by decision.

Karl Roberson (6-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC) has earned five of his six career victories by stoppage.

Darren Stewart (7-2 MMA, 0-2 UFC) suffered the first stoppage loss of his career.

For complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 120, 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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Andrei Arlovski relieved after UFC Fight Night 120 win: 'Finally I broke the streak of losing'

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NORFOLK, Va. – Former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski relieved a significant amount of pressure from his shoulders Saturday when he snapped a five-fight losing skid with a decision victory over Junior Albini at UFC Fight Night 120.

Arlovski’s (26-15 MMA, 15-9 UFC) UFC career was likely on the line against Albini (14-3 MMA, 1-1 UFC), but he managed to get back in the win column for the first time since September 2015 and credited sticking to his game plan for the result.

“Finally my hard work pays off and for the first time in a long, long time I stick to my game plan,” Arlovski told MMAjunkie after the fight. “It was not 100 percent, but 95 percent. I kept my hands up. Coach told me, ‘Don’t clinch,’ but I clinched a couple times. I’m very happy now.”

“The Pitbull” had many doubters going into UFC Fight Night 120, which took place at Ted Constant Convocation Center in Norfolk, Va., and aired on FS1. His stretch of defeats came to the likes of UFC champ Stipe Miocic, Alistair Overeem, Josh Barnett, and Francis Ngannou, and a matchup with a hot prospect like Albini was a big test for the 38-year-old.

Arlovski’s experience played to his advantage, but he credited Albini for putting up a tough challenge.

“I have a lot of respect for Junior,” Arlovski said. “I came after the fight to the medical room, and I wished him luck in his future fights. Respect. Tonight it wasn’t personal, it was just business. Tonight I think I needed it more than he does. Of course I look for the KO, but my coach said when I go out, and I just need to keep my hands up. I did this pretty well.”

With 24 UFC bouts on his resume, Arlovski has fought the majority of big names in the heavyweight division. He believes he has a few more years of high-level competition left in him, and he said he will be willing to take on whoever UFC matchmakers throw his way.

“I want to go back home to my wife and my son, but I think I’ll be ready by February or March,” Arlovski said. “Of course it’s up to Dana White and the UFC. 2016 sucks for me, beginning and middle of the year in 2017 was same thing. Finally I broke the streak of losing fights.”

For complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 120, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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UFC Fight Night 120 Athlete Outfitting pay: Highest non-PPV payout in program history

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NORFOLK, Va. – Fighters from Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 120 event took home UFC Athlete Outfitting pay, a program that launched after the UFC’s deal with Reebok, totaling $245,000.

UFC Fight Night 120 took place at Ted Constant Convocation Center in Norfolk, Va. The card aired on FS1 following early prelims on UFC Fight Pass.

Seven fighters on the card earned a maximum non-title payout of $20,000, the most of any card thus far in the history of the program.

The full UFC Fight Night 120 UFC Athlete Outfitting payouts included:

Dustin Poirier: $20,000
def. Anthony Pettis: $15,000

Matt Brown: $20,000
def. Diego Sanchez: $20,000

Andrei Arlovski: $20,000
def. Junior Albini: $2,500

Cezar Ferreira: $10,000
def. Nate Marquardt: $20,000

Raphael Assuncao: $15,000
def. Matthew Lopez: $2,500

Clay Guida: $20,000
def. Joe Lauzon: $20,000

Marlon Moraes: $2,500
def. John Dodson: $10,000

Tatiana Suarez: $2,500
def. Viviane Pereira: $2,500

Sage Northcutt: $5,000
def. Michel Quinones: $2,500

Nina Ansaroff: $2,500
def. Angela Hill: $5,000

Sean Strickland: $5,000
def. Court McGee: $10,000

Jake Collier: $5,000
def. Marcel Fortuna: $2,500

Karl Roberson: $2,500
def. Darren Stewart: $2,500

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.

Full 2017 UFC-Reebok sponsorship payouts:

Year-to-date total: $5,322,500
2016 total: $7,138,000
2015 total: $3,185,000
Program-to-date total: $15,645,500

For complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 120, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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Fight Tracks: The walkout songs of UFC Fight Night 120

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While it takes intense training, world-class skills and maybe even a bit of luck to register a UFC win, picking the right song to accompany you to the cage is a key talent, as well.

See what the fighters of Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 120 in Norfolk, Va., went with as their backing tracks.

* * * *

Dustin Poirier def. Anthony Pettis via TKO (submission due to injury) – Round 3, 2:08

Dustin Poirier: “The Boss” by James Brown

Anthony Pettis: “Showtime” by Jim Jones & Tum Tum

Matt Brown def. Diego Sanchez via knockout (elbow) – Round 1, 3:44

Matt Brown: “The Immortal” by Jasta

Diego Sanchez: “Hall of Fame” by Script feat. WILL.I.AM

Andrei Arlovski def. Junior Albini via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)

Andrei Arlovski: “God’s Gonna Cut You Down” by Johnny Cash

Junior Albini: “It’s a Fight” by Three 6 Mafia

Cezar Ferreira def. Nate Marquardt via split decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)

Cezar Ferreira: “Gonna Fly Now” by Bill Conti

Nate Marquardt: “Why Wait” by P.O.D.

Raphael Assuncao def. Matthew Lopez via knockout (punch) – Round 3, 1:50

Raphael Assuncao: “Podo Vir” by Tiago Brasil

Matthew Lopez: “Lunatic Fringe” by Red Rider

Clay Guida def. Joe Lauzon via TKO (strikes) – Round 1, 1:07

Clay Guida: “Kickstart My Heart” by Motley Crue

Joe Lauzon: “Move” by Thousand Foot Krutch

Marlon Moraes def. John Dodson via split decision (30-27, 27-30, 30-27)

Marlon Moraes: “Coming Home” by Diddy Dirty Money feat. Skylar Grey

John Dodson: “Children of the Night” by Kids Next Door

Tatiana Suarez def. Viviane Pereira via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-26)

Tatiana Suarez: “Heads Will Roll” by Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Viviane Pereira: “Pesadao” by IZA

Sage Northcutt def. Michel Quinones via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

Sage Northcutt: “Represent” by Lecrae feat. Tedashi

Michel Quinones: “Mi Gente” by J Balvin

Nina Ansaroff def. Angela Hill via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)

Nina Ansaroff: “Try Everything” by Shakira

Angela Hill: “Battle Hymn” by Manowar

Sean Strickland def. Court McGee via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)

Sean Strickland: “Star Spangled Banner” by Electric Guitar

Court McGee: “Cinderella Man” by Eminem

Jake Collier def. Marcel Fortuna via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)

Jake Collier: “Remember My Name” by Maino

Marcel Fortuna: “Shoot to Thrill” by AC/DC

Karl Roberson def. Darren Stewart via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 1, 3:41

Karl Roberson: “New Level” by A$AP Ferg feat. Future

Darren Stewart: “Original Nuttah” by Shy-FX

For complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 120, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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

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Junior Albini's diaper-looking Reebok shorts at UFC-Norfolk were impossible to ignore

If the Reebok fight kits were intended to usher in an era of across-the-board professionalism in the UFC, doing away with the days of the occasionally embarrassing attire choice, let’s just say that the powers that be didn’t see Junior Albini coming.

The 26-year-old Brazilian came up short against Andrei Arlovski at UFC Fight Night 120 in Norfolk, Va., but he also drew all the wrong kind of attention for the look he brought into the octagon.

It wasn’t just people on Twitter who noticed the hilarity of a fighter who goes by the nickname “Baby” showing up in a pair of fight trunks that resembled an adult diaper. Even UFC commentator and fighter Paul Felder could not keep himself from remarking on the look, as Albini turned in a lackluster performance en route to a unanimous-decision loss.

It’s safe to say that it’s not exactly the look Reebok was hoping for. And for UFC executives who once expressed hope that the outfitting deal would take the sport to a new level, this wasn’t exactly a high point. Though, you can’t say it wasn’t memorable.

For complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 120, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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UFC-Norfolk Twitter reaction: Sage Northcutt's return, Clay Guida's blowout, more

Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 120 card, which took place at Ted Constant Convocation Center in Norfolk, Va., and aired on FS1 following early prelims on UFC Fight Pass, featured a number of notable matchups outside the main and co-main event.

Familiar names such as Andrei Arlovski (26-15 MMA, 15-9 UFC), Clay Guida (34-17 MMA, 14-11 UFC), Marlon Moraes (19-5-1 MMA, 1-1 UFC) and Sage Northcutt (9-2 MMA, 4-2 UFC) earned victories that ranged from decisive to somewhat controversial.

Check below for the top Twitter reactions to their winning performances at UFC Fight Night 120.

* * * *

Clay Guida steamrolls Lauzon

Marlon Moraes takes strange split

Sage Northcutt returns

For complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 120, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

UFC Fight Night 120 results: Andrei Arlovski staves off retirement, outworks Junior Albini

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With five consecutive losses, Andrei Arlovski (26-15 MMA, 15-9 UFC) knew the importance of his bout with Junior Albini (14-3 MMA, 1-1 UFC), and he outworked the Brazilian prospect to claim a decision win.

The heavyweight bout was part of the main card of today’s UFC Fight Night 120 event at Ted Constant Convocation Center on the Old Dominion University campus in Norfolk, Va. It aired on FS1 following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass.

Arlovski took the center of the cage to start, as the bigger Albini look to fire power shots from the pocket. Arlovski was the quicker man, moving in and out of striking range, while Albini simply tried to load up on the homerun shot when his opponent got in tight. The two moved to the clinch, and Albini was able to control from the outside, but Arlovski was able to slip away without taking any damage.

Arlovski kicked the legs a bit on the restart and began to rifle in combinations, but Albini walked through the blows and continued to answer back with big shots of his own that just narrowly missed. The danger was evident with every strike Albini threw, though Arlovski was able to stick and move in the early going.

Arlovski was light on his feet to start the second, while Albini simply waded forward and looked to load up for the finishing blow. When they moved into the clinch, Albini pressed in from the outside, but there was little action, and the bout was bought back to the center. Albini was quick to move back to the clinch, pressing against the cage, and holding Arlovski against the fence until he finally pressed away and escaped back to the middle. Arlovski continued to show more speed with his strikes, but he was unquestionably playing with fire as he just avoided Albini’s powerful punches.

Albini pressed a bit to start the third but was unable to trap Arlovski against the cage. With the better footwork and slicker movement, Arlovski kept himself just away from Albini’s massive punches. For his part, Albini never seemed hurt or bothered but simply walked forward, looking to land one big shot. Arlovski’s combinations found their mark, and he drew blood from Albini’s nose. Albini received a warning for an eye poke, but we carried on for the final few minutes, where Albini did press a bit with what little energy he had left. Albini landed a bit but couldn’t quite land clean, and the bout ended on the feet, with Arlovski awarded a decision win with scores of 29-28, 30-27 and 30-27.

“I knew he was tough,” Arlovski said of his opponent. “He’s young. I was sure he was going to look for a knockout. So that’s why I stuck to my gameplan and made it go longer.

“It feels amazing. I still have a couple more years in this.”

Up-to-the-minute UFC Fight Night 120 results include:

For complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 120, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

(MMAjunkie’s Matt Erickson contributed to this report on site in Norfolk.)

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

Providing for daughter is Junior Albini's 'greatest pleasure' since life-changing UFC debut

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Junior Albini’s UFC debut wasn’t the type you see every day.

Albini was by no means well known when he stepped inside the octagon to meet Timothy Johnson at UFC on FOX 25 in July. That wasn’t the case when he left, though, after scoring a first-round knockout over the veteran. The display was impressive enough, with the 26-year-old heavyweight’s quickness and accuracy standing out in a division not known for those qualities.

But the Brazilian made sure to steal the spotlight afterward, as well, as he spoke in fluent English about just how much of a struggle was behind his statement-making display. To top it all off, Albini’s first fight on U.S. soil came with a $50,000 bonus for “Performance of the Night.”

As Albini prepares to make his octagon comeback at this Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 120, it’s safe to say a lot more people will be paying attention. Not to mention that, as he goes up against a heavyweight legend in Andrei Arlovski, Albini walks in the favorite.

Albini is aware of the added stakes. But compared to his first fight experience, he has no reasons to complain.

“I take it as positive pressure,” Albini told MMAjunkie. “I believe I trained even better than for the other fight. I’m better prepared physically. It’s my second day (in the U.S.), and I’m feeling a lot better than I did the first time. My trip was much better.

“The flight was empty this time – which was a problem last time. I’m kind of big, it’s hard for me to sleep on planes. Last fight, on Friday I still felt my legs heavy. I was feeling tired. This time, I’m 100 percent. I’m very relaxed and more confident.

“Also, the first thing I felt last time is that, magnitude of the promotion aside, it’s like any other fight. It’s like any other fight or even sparring at the gym. The fighting bit is the same. The only thing that changes is the venue. So I’m very relaxed for this one, for sure.”

Albini (14-2 MMA, 1-0 UFC) meets Arlovski (25-15 MMA, 14-9 UFC) in the FS1-televised main card of Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 120, which takes place at Ted Constant Convocation Center in Norfolk, Va.

Other than the fight-week specifics, there’s also been quite the shift in the lead-up to it. The expression “life changing” gets thrown around a lot in sports, but considering Albini is someone who spent four years fighting for almost no pay, the addition of UFC-level money gives it new meaning.

First, there’s the training.

“Before, for most of my fights I had to buy my plane tickets, spend money on gas and food, on the hotel,” Albini said. “I had all these extra concerns about that. Now I got to focus solely on the fight. I was able to invest a lot in myself. I brought in a new boxing instructor to help.

“And it doesn’t just affect me. A lot of my training partners live off fighting, as well, but need to get other jobs , oo. I was able to pay them, too, so they could put in some more time to work with me.”

And that’s just on the practical side of things for Albini – who, by the way, hasn’t even touched his bonus money yet. Emotionally, too, the heavyweight gets to reap the enormous benefits of a new life.

“Right now, I can go out with my daughter,” Albini said. “I can get her anything she wants. We can go out the whole weekend, and I can treat her to whatever she wants. For me, it’s the greatest pleasure I have in my life right now: to provide my daughter with everything that she wants.”

The part where people send him messages and talk about him online, Albini says, is taking some getting used to. And he’ll also admit that he wasn’t exactly expecting his second UFC fight to come right before the co-main event in a card that includes possible barnburners like John Dodson vs. Marlon Moraes and Clay Guida vs. Joe Lauzon.

Junior Albini.

Overall, though, he’s taking the oddity of his new status in stride.

“I try to put that in the back of my mind and focus solely on the fight,” Albini said. “But I didn’t expect it to happen like this. And, as the fight comes close, the volume gets turned up even louder. So it’s been weird. But I’ve been able to deal with it.

“I’ve been able to stay calm, focusing more on my training and on the people who are here with me.”

If in a way it’s been somewhat of an overnight shift in Albini’s circumstances, in others it’s been a lifetime in the making. Getting this far, after all, involved a lot of sacrifice. But even through the rough times, the heavyweight says he always knew things would end up falling into place.

“I’m just relieved it’s really happening,” Albini said. “I don’t even think it took to long. I think it’s the right time. I believe it happened at a time when I’m ready. Even when things were hard, when money was short and I went without a lot of things, I think it made me grow as a person.

“And I think that, with everything I went through, I came into the UFC a fully prepared athlete.”

Hearing all of this, it’s easy to see why Albini isn’t particularly fazed by the thought of facing someone like Arlovski so quickly. As it turns out, Albini has not only been following his opponent’s career since before he began his own, he’s drawn inspiration from Arlovki’s “classy and composed” style to assemble his own skills.

“He has a different style than most of the heavyweights, so I have always enjoyed him,” Albini said.

But the joy and honor of meeting one of his personal idols ends the moment Albini’s own mission begins.

“I won’t let the weight of his name affect me,” Albini said. “There are many big, tough names in the UFC. So I need to see him as if he’s anyone else.”

There’s added weight in Arlovski’s case: his current skid. While he told MMAjunkie that he still sees himself fighting for a few years, a sixth consecutive loss could certainly carry some implications at least as far as Arlovski’s octagon career goes.

Still, Albini can’t afford the luxury of worrying about that.

“I’m looking for a knockout, for sure,” Albini said. “(The bonus) wouldn’t be bad. But I’m definitely going to look for a knockout.”

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

And for more on UFC Fight Night 120, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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

UFC-Norfolk staff picks: In close fight, who has edge between Anthony Pettis, Dustin Poirier?

Pettis
vs.
Poirier
Brown
vs.
Sanchez
Albini
vs.
Arlovski
Ferreira
vs.
Marquardt
Assuncao
vs.
Lopez
Guida
vs.
Lauzon
MMAjunkie readers’
consensus picks
2017: 108-72
poirier2017
Poirier
(57%)
mbrown2017
Brown
(80%)
albini2017
Albini
(62%)
ferreira2017
Ferreira
(53%)
assuncao2017
Assuncao
(90%)
lauzon2017
Lauzon
(72%)
Simon Samano
@SJSamano
2017: 114-66
poirier2017
Poirier
mbrown2017
Brown
albini2017
Albini
ferreira2017
Ferreira
mlopez2017
Lopez
lauzon2017
Lauzon
Ben Fowlkes @BenFowlkesMMA
2017: 112-68
trophy copy 2016 Champion
apettis2017
Pettis
mbrown2017
Brown
albini2017
Albini
ferreira2017
Ferreira
assuncao2017
Assuncao
lauzon2017
Lauzon
Steven Marrocco @MMAjunkieSteven
2017: 111-69
poirier2017
Poirier
mbrown2017
Brown
albini2017
Albini
ferreira2017
Ferreira
assuncao2017
Assuncao
lauzon2017
Lauzon
Dann Stupp
@DannStupp
2017: 111-69
trophy copy 2015 Champion
poirier2017
Poirier
mbrown2017
Brown
albini2017
Albini
ferreira2017
Ferreira
assuncao2017
Assuncao
guida2017
Guida
Brian Garcia
@thegoze
2017: 109-71
poirier2017
Poirier
mbrown2017
Brown
arlovski2017
Arlovski
ferreira2017
Ferreira
assuncao2017
Assuncao
guida2017
Guida
Fernanda Prates @nandaprates_
2017: 106-74
poirier2017
Poirier
mbrown2017
Brown
albini2017
Albini
ferreira2017
Ferreira
assuncao2017
Assuncao
lauzon2017
Lauzon
Matt Erickson @MMAjunkieMatt
2017: 105-75
apettis2017
Pettis
dsanchez2017
Sanchez
albini2017
Albini
marquardt2017
Marquardt
assuncao2017
Assuncao
lauzon2017
Lauzon
George Garcia @MMAjunkieGeorge
2017: 104-76
poirier2017
Poirier
mbrown2017
Brown
arlovski2017
Arlovski
ferreira2017
Ferreira
assuncao2017
Assuncao
lauzon2017
Lauzon
John Morgan @MMAjunkieJohn
2017: 102-78
poirier2017
Poirier
mbrown2017
Brown
arlovski2017
Arlovski
ferreira2017
Ferreira
assuncao2017
Assuncao
guida2017
Guida
Mike Bohn @MikeBohnMMA
2017: 101-77
trophy copy 2014 Champion
poirier2017
Poirier
mbrown2017
Brown
albini2017
Albini
ferreira2017
Ferreira
assuncao2017
Assuncao
guida2017
Guida

For the fourth time overall, and first time in Norfolk, the UFC touches down in Virginia this week.

UFC Fight Night 120 takes place Saturday at Ted Constant Convocation Center in Norfolk, Va., on the campus of Old Dominion University. It airs on FS1 following early prelims on UFC Fight Pass.

(Click here to open a PDF of the staff picks grid in a separate window.)

In the main event, former lightweight champion Anthony Pettis (20-6 MMA, 7-5 UFC) takes on perennial title contender Dustin Poirier (21-5 MMA, 13-4 UFC). The 155-pound bout is a close one with the oddsmakers – Pettis is just a slight favorite. But it’s Poirier who has an overwhelming 8-2 advantage from our 10 MMAjunkie editors, writers and radio hosts.

In the co-feature, Matt Brown (20-16 MMA, 13-10 UFC) will fight for the final time when he meets Diego Sanchez (27-10 MMA, 16-10 UFC) in a welterweight bout. Brown is a 3.5-1 favorite over Sanchez, and he has an overwhelming 9-1 edge from our pickers.

Also on the main card, heavyweight prospect Junior Albini (14-2 MMA, 1-0 UFC) takes on former champ Andrei Arlovski (25-15 MMA, 14-9 UFC), who will be trying to snap a five-fight skid. Albini is more than a 3-1 favorite and is a 7-3 pick from our staff members. Cezar Ferreira (11-6 MMA, 7-4 UFC) is yet another big favorite in his middleweight bout against Nate Marquardt (35-18-2 MMA, 13-11 UFC), and only one of our pickers is brave enough to take Marquardt with the upset, leaving Ferreira a 9-1 choice.

Bantamweight standout Raphael Assuncao (25-5 MMA, 9-2 UFC) is more than a 3-1 favorite and is a 9-1 pick over Matthew Lopez (10-1 MMA, 2-1 UFC). And to open the main card, a lightweight fight between Clay Guida (33-17 MMA, 13-11 UFC) and Joe Lauzon (27-13 MMA, 14-10 UFC) features 24 fight-night bonuses between the two. It’s the closest fight on the card from an odds standpoint, and it’s the closest fight in our picks: Lauzon has just a 6-4 edge.

In the MMAjunkie reader consensus picks, Poirier, Brown, Albini, Ferreira, Assuncao and Lauzon are the choices.

Check out all the picks above.

For more on UFC Fight Night 120, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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Source: MMA Junkie