Bellator 185 pre-event facts: Can Shlemenko strengthen resume at Mousasi's expense?

Despite a bevy of changes to the card, Bellator action returns on Friday with Bellator 185, which takes place at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn., with a main card on Spike following prelims on MMAjunkie.

One of the more noteworthy debuts in company history is set for the headliner when former Strikeforce champion and longtime UFC middleweight contender Gegard Mousasi (42-6-2 MMA, 0-0 BMMA) meets former Bellator 185-pound champion Alexander Shlemenko (56-9 MMA, 12-3 BMMA).

With 116 professional bouts between them, Mousasi and Shlemenko will set a new record for the most combined experience in a Bellator main event. For more on the numbers behind Friday’s Bellator 185 fight card, check out 20 pre-event facts.

* * * *

Main event

Mousasi makes his Bellator debut after a 12-fight UFC career in which he went 9-3.

Mousasi enters the event on a five-fight winning streak. He hasn’t suffered a defeat since September 2015.

Mousasi has earned 35 of his 42 career victories by stoppage. He’s earned 31 of those wins in Round 1.

Mousasi has earned his past four victories by knockout.

Mousasi’s eight victories since 2014 in UFC middleweight competition are tied with Sam Alvey for most in the division.

Mousasi absorbed just 1.42 significant strikes per minute in UFC middleweight competition, the third best rate in divisional history behind Chael Sonnen (1.12) and Ivan Salaverry (1.15).

Shlemenko competes in his 16th Bellator middleweight bout, the most appearances in divisional history.

Shlemenko enters the event on a seven-fight unbeaten streak. He hasn’t suffered a defeat since September 2014.

Shlemenko’s 12 victories in Bellator competition are tied for fourth most in company history behind Patricio Freire (14), Michael Chandler (13) and Joe Warren (13).

Shlemenko’s 12 victories in Bellator middleweight competition are most in divisional history.

Shlemenko has earned 40 of his 56 career victories by stoppage. He earned 25 of those wins in Round 1.

Shlemenko’s eight stoppage victories in Bellator middleweight competition are most in divisional history.

Shlemenko’s six knockout victories in Bellator middleweight competition are most in divisional history.

Co-main event

Neiman Gracie (6-0 MMA, 4-0 BMMA), 28, is the youngest of the 10 scheduled main-card fighters.

Gracie is 3-0 since he dropped to the welterweight division in February 2015.

Gracie has earned three of his four Bellator victories by submission.

Remaining main card

Heather Hardy

Heather Hardy (1-0 MMA, 1-0 BMMA), a pro boxing champion, returns to MMA after making a successful debut at Bellator 180 in June.

Ana Julaton (2-2 MMA, 0-0 BMMA), 37, is the oldest of the 10 scheduled main card fighters.

Julaton returns to MMA competition for the first time since Dec. 11, 2015. The 679-day layoff is the longest of her more than three-year career.

For more on Bellator 185, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

Filed under: Bellator, News
Source: MMA Junkie

USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie rankings, Oct. 17: Will UFC-Gdansk cause a welterweight shake-up?

The UFC heads to Poland this week, kicking off a run of nine straight weekends with fight cards, and much could change in divisional landscapes over that time.

It starts in the welterweight class this week, with an unexpected headliner between perennial contender Donald Cerrone (32-9 MMA, 19-6 UFC) and undefeated English upstart Darren Till (15-0-1 MMA, 3-0-1 UFC).

Cerrone has been a fixture for years in the rankings, first in the lightweight division and, more recently, at 170 pounds. Meanwhile, Till considers himself the future of the welterweight division but has yet to break into the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA rankings.

The two meet on Saturday in the main event of UFC Fight Night 118, which takes place at Ergo Arena in Gdansk and streams on UFC Fight Pass.

Could the division have an entirely new look after this weekend? Check out that weight class and more in the latest update to our lists.

jQuery.extend( window._usmgOptions,{ scriptUrl: “https://s2.wp.com/wp-content/themes/vip/usatoday-plugins/api-galleries/assets”, analyticsCallback: “galleryAnalytics”, fullscreenUrl: “http://mmajunkie.com/sigallery/F9WgF2phYGaNBwTu7LymjZ/278217”, customAnalytics: true, title: “Donald Cerrone”, feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == “undefined”) ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();
Filed under: Bellator, MMA Rankings, News, PFL, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

Watch MMAjunkie Radio here (1 p.m. ET) with Rob Font, Ana Julaton, Damian Norris, Mohammed Usman

Filed under: AXS TV Fights, Bellator, News, UFC

MMAjunkie Radio kicks off today at 1 p.m. ET (10 a.m. PT) with guests Rob Font, Ana Julaton, Damian Norris and Mohammed Usman.

Font fights Pedro Munhoz on Oct. 28 at UFC Fight Night 119, Julaton meets Lisa Blaine on Friday at Bellator 185, Norris takes on Alonzo Martinez on Friday at LFA 25, and Mohammed Usman – younger brother of UFC fighter Kamaru Usman – returns Nov. 2 at Tachi Palace Fights 33.

MMAjunkie Radio airs from 1 to 3 p.m. ET (10 a.m. to noon PT), live from Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino in Las Vegas. You can watch and listen live on MMAjunkie’s Facebook and YouTube pages. Additionally, SiriusXM Rush (Ch. 93) carries a replay later in the day (8-10 p.m. ET) and the following morning (7-9 a.m. ET), or catch a replay on demand.

MMAjunkie Radio listener guide:

  • HOW TO WATCH (ON WEB): Watch a live stream on MMAjunkie’s Facebook or YouTube pages.
  • HOW TO CALL: MMAjunkie Radio takes phone calls from listeners throughout the show. Call into the MMAjunkie Radio hotline at (866) 522-2846.
  • HOW TO DISCUSS: The MMAjunkie MMA Forums has a section devoted solely to MMAjunkie Radio. Stop by the MMAjunkie Radio forum to discuss the show, interact with the hosts, suggest future guests and catch up on the latest MMAjunkie Radio news.
  • HOW TO VISIT THE SHOW: You can watch MMAjunkie Radio live and in person at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino on the world-famous Las Vegas Strip. The booth is located in the resort’s Race & Sports Book next to the Mandalay Bay poker room. To plan a trip to Sin City and MMAjunkie Radio, go to www.mandalaybay.com.

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

Bellator contract allows Heather Hardy crossover in boxing, MMA

When boxer Heather Hardy made her professional MMA debut at Bellator 180, she needed to make an impression. There was no other way to construe a one-fight contract.

On Friday, she makes her second appearance for the Viacom-owned promotion, facing Kristina Williams (0-0 MMA, 0-0 BMMA) at Bellator 185. This time, though, it’s not such a do-or-die situation.

After a bloody beatdown of Alice Yauger in June, Hardy (1-0 MMA, 1-0 BMMA) signed a two-year contract with Bellator. The deal guarantees a minimum of four bouts. But more than that, it also allows her to make a living in boxing.

Rather than be held to one promoter and one sport, Hardy gets to choose.

“I’m pretty much flexible to do whatever makes sense,” she told MMAjunkie in advance of her Spike-televised fight at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn. “If it’s a better deal with Bellator, then we do MMA. If boxing has a big opportunity for me, (I do boxing).

“The organizations want to see me do well, and they’re not interested in standing in the way of one another.”

Hardy still holds a contract with boxing promoter Lou DiBella. She estimates she spends 12 hours a day in the squared circle, coaching fighters at gym and training clients at the famed Gleason’s Gym in her hometown of Brooklyn, N.Y. But at the moment, she sees more opportunity in MMA.

“The way I see it is, the industry is not really willing to pay women moving forward,” she said. “If they can’t offer me a decent enough fight with a good opponent – I’m 20-0 and a two-time champion – I’m not interested in fights that don’t make sense.

“If they can’t pay these girls to come in and give the fans the fights they want to see, then it’s really not worth my time any more,” she said. “I’m really hopeful that, starting next year, promoters will be willing to bring in good competition and put on good women’s fights.”

Money motivated Hardy’s move away from boxing. But it was also expedited by MMA’s passage in her home state. After a nearly 20-year ban on MMA was removed and the sport was legalized, increased insurance requirements forced several New York-based boxing promoters, including DiBella, to cancel events.

Without a place to ply her trade, Hardy, the WBC’s international female featherweight champ, needed a way to provide for herself and her family.

Although she hasn’t quit her day job as a boxing coach and trainer, Hardy is breathing a bit easier now that she knows she’ll be fighting regularly.

“It does help me financially in the long run, knowing that I have certain paychecks coming my way,” she said. “The last month hasn’t been great, because I don’t get paid up front for them all. But it’s nice to know that over the next two years, I’ll be in a better spot financially. The more you work, the more you get paid.”

For her second bout, Hardy wants to put on the type of performance that keeps her phone ringing. She’s working hard to acclimate herself to range and speed of MMA. She grades her debut a C-plus based on a slow start and thinks she’ll be a greater threat with more experience in the gym.

“The first one was really an introduction, trying to cover all the bases just so that I knew what was going on in any particular situation,” she said. “It was like glossing over all the areas, because I kind of fast-forwarded and jumped feet-first into a fight at the Garden.

“I focused less on my boxing (for the second camp), and more on kickboxing and striking and jiu-jitsu, so I’m already acclimated and accustomed to fighting that fight.”

Hardy earned wide recognition from MMA fans for her aggressive comeback in the second and third round of her debut. But her personality also won notice from the MMA media, which caught her off guard after so many years of obscurity in boxing.

“It’s so nice to finally get recognition,” she said. “I worked so hard in boxing, and nobody really knew my name. After that one fight, I kind of skyrocketed overnight.”

She’s still got a long ways to go before she’s a household name. But now, there’s a foundation to build her name as a crossover star in combat sports.

“I’m still working two jobs and taking care of my daughter,” she said. “I don’t have that luxury where I can go away for a six-week fight camp and have a nanny take my daughter back to school. I’m not there yet. So it’s nice (to have the new deal), because it seems like I can be there one day.”

For more on Bellator 185, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

 

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

Ahead of Bellator 185's main event, watch Alexander Shlemenko take out Kendall Grove

Filed under: Bellator, News, Videos

Former middleweight champion Alexander Shlemenko returns to Bellator this week with his sights set on a return to a title fight.

Shlemenko (56-9 MMA, 12-3 BMMA) takes on a big name at Bellator 185 on Saturday in Gegard Mousasi (42-6-2 MMA, 0-0 BMMA), who will be making his promotional debut after a 12-fight run in the UFC. Mousasi, a former Strikeforce champ, arguably represents one of the stiffest tests of Shlemenko’s career.

But before those two headline Bellator 185, take a look at Shlemenko’s most recent Bellator outing. He has six straight wins since losing the middleweight title in an upset to Brandon Halsey a little more than three years ago. And while only one has come under the Bellator banner (a knockout win over Melvin Manhoef in 2015 was overturned due to a positive drug test for Shlemenko), it was an impressive one.

At Bellator 162 a year ago this weekend, Shlemenko knocked out Kendall Grove in the second round. Check out that fight in full above ahead of Bellator 185, with Shlemenko vs. Mousasi in the main event, at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn. The main card airs on Spike following prelims on MMAjunkie.

And for more on Bellator 185, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

jQuery.extend( window._usmgOptions,{ scriptUrl: “https://s2.wp.com/wp-content/themes/vip/usatoday-plugins/api-galleries/assets”, analyticsCallback: “galleryAnalytics”, fullscreenUrl: “http://mmajunkie.com/sigallery/tSmDVmu2Ez7r8Ajk8PnZXf/278119”, customAnalytics: true, title: “Mousasi def. Weidman”, feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == “undefined”) ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();
Filed under: Bellator, News, Videos
Source: MMA Junkie

Watch MMAjunkie Radio here (1 p.m. ET) with Colby Covington and Alexander Shlemenko

Filed under: Bellator, News, UFC

MMAjunkie Radio kicks off today at 1 p.m. ET (10 a.m. PT) with guests Colby Covington and Alexander Shlemenko.

Covington fights Demian Maia on Oct. 28 in UFC Fight Night 119’s co-headliner. Shlemenko headlines Friday’s Bellator 185 event against Gegard Mousasi.

MMAjunkie Radio airs from 1 to 3 p.m. ET (10 a.m. to noon PT), live from Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino in Las Vegas. You can watch and listen live on MMAjunkie’s Facebook and YouTube pages. Additionally, SiriusXM Rush (Ch. 93) carries a replay later in the day (8-10 p.m. ET) and the following morning (7-9 a.m. ET), or catch a replay on demand.

MMAjunkie Radio listener guide:

  • HOW TO WATCH (ON WEB): Watch a live stream on MMAjunkie’s Facebook or YouTube pages.
  • HOW TO CALL: MMAjunkie Radio takes phone calls from listeners throughout the show. Call into the MMAjunkie Radio hotline at (866) 522-2846.
  • HOW TO DISCUSS: The MMAjunkie MMA Forums has a section devoted solely to MMAjunkie Radio. Stop by the MMAjunkie Radio forum to discuss the show, interact with the hosts, suggest future guests and catch up on the latest MMAjunkie Radio news.
  • HOW TO VISIT THE SHOW: You can watch MMAjunkie Radio live and in person at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino on the world-famous Las Vegas Strip. The booth is located in the resort’s Race & Sports Book next to the Mandalay Bay poker room. To plan a trip to Sin City and MMAjunkie Radio, go to www.mandalaybay.com.

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

Friday's Bellator 185 lineup loses 2 main-card bouts

Friday’s Bellator 185 main card has undergone some major changes.

Officials today told MMAjunkie that an undisclosed injury has forced Brennan Ward (14-6 MMA, 9-6 BMMA) out of the night’s scheduled co-headliner, and as a result, welterweight opponent David Rickels (18-4 MMA, 12-4 BMMA) has also been pulled from the card.

Additionally, Javier Torres (10-3 MMA, 0-0 BMMA) has also suffered an injury, and welterweight Zak Bucia (18-8 MMA, 0-0 BMMA) has stepped in as a replacement to fight Neiman Gracie (6-0 MMA, 4-0 BMMA) in the new co-main event.

Bellator 185 takes place Friday at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn., and the main card airs on Spike following prelims on MMAjunkie.

With the loss of Ward vs. Rickels, a fight between lightweights Ryan Quinn (13-7-1 MMA, 7-1 BMMA) and Marcus Surin (4-0 MMA, 0-0 BMMA) has been promoted to the five-fight main card.

The latest Bellator 185 card now includes:

MAIN CARD (Spike, 9 p.m. ET)

  • Gegard Mousasi vs. Alexander Shlemenko
  • Zak Bucia vs. Neiman Gracie
  • Heather Hardy vs. Kristina Williams
  • Lisa Blaine vs. Ana Julaton
  • Ryan Quinn vs. Marcus Surin

PRELIMINARY CARD (7 p.m. ET)

  • Joaquin Buckley vs. Vinicius de Jesus
  • Steve Skrzat vs. Costello Van Steenis
  • Alec Hooben vs. Jordan Young
  • Kevin Carrier vs. Kastriot Xhema
  • Vovka Clay vs. Frank Sforza
  • John Beneduce vs. Dean Hancock

For more on Bellator 185, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

Filed under: Bellator, News
Source: MMA Junkie

Gegard Mousasi's Bellator plan: Shlemenko, title, MacDonald, light heavyweight – then retire?

jQuery.extend( window._usmgOptions,{ scriptUrl: “https://s2.wp.com/wp-content/themes/vip/usatoday-plugins/api-galleries/assets”, analyticsCallback: “galleryAnalytics”, fullscreenUrl: “http://mmajunkie.com/sigallery/tSmDVmu2Ez7r8Ajk8PnZXf/277853”, customAnalytics: true, title: “Mousasi def. Weidman”, feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == “undefined”) ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();

Gegard Mousasi sees endless possibilities for his Bellator career, but he knows it all starts with getting an impressive victory in his promotional debut next week at Bellator 185.

Mousasi (42-6-2 MMA, 0-0 BMMA) signed with Bellator in July after a four-year run in the UFC. He said he’s excited about having more “freedom” with the rival organization, and it all starts with a middleweight main event against ex-champ Alexander Shlemenko (56-9 MMA, 12-3 BMMA) at Bellator 185, which takes place Oct. 20 at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn., and airs on Spike following prelims on MMAjunkie.

If he emerges victorious, Mousasi said he’s been promised the next title shot – against the winner of December’s Bellator 190 headliner between current 185-pound champ Rafael Carvalho (14-1 MMA, 5-0 BMMA) and No. 1 contender Alessio Sakara (19-11 MMA, 2-0 BMMA). Mousasi’s primary goal is to add the Bellator title to a mantel that currently includes Strikeforce and DREAM gold, but he also believes that could be just the beginning.

Mousasi, No. 6 in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA middleweight rankings, wants big-name fights, and he’s willing to welcome the likes of Rory MacDonald (19-4 MMA, 1-0 BMMA) into his weight class or even make a return to light heavyweight to get them.

“For me there are a lot of options,” Mousasi told MMAjunkie. “I have to beat Shlemenko first, then the title fight, then maybe a matchup against Rory MacDonald, and then maybe light heavyweight. In light heavyweight, you have ‘King Mo’ (Lawal); you have Ryan Bader, Phil Davis, Chael Sonnen, Wanderlei Silva, ‘Rampage’ Jackson – all big names. Plenty of names I can fight and make exciting fights.”

At 32 Mousasi said he’s not yet thinking about retirement, but with a six-fight, 28-month contract with Bellator, he knows he could be one of the last contracts – if not the not last – of his career. Mousasi is currently on a five-fight winning streak, though, and said until he sees declining results, there’s no reason to consider walking away.

“As a fighter I feel like I’m not near the end of my career because I’m still winning,” Mousasi said. “But after six fights, I will probably be around 34 or 35. I think that’s a good age to retire, but I’m not thinking about that too much. I want to see what the results of the fights are going to be. If I keep losing, then of course it doesn’t make sense to continue. If I keep winning, I will keep continuing for maybe another three fights and then see again after that.”

Although Mousasi has great aspirations for what can be done over his six-fight Bellator deal, he said he’s not overlooking the task at hand. Shlemenko is one of the very few relevant opponents Mousasi can face in MMA who actually has more fights than him (65 to 50), and for that reason alone, he can’t be underestimated.

Some other UFC crossovers have struggled with the transition to Bellator, and Mousasi said he feels some responsibility to not only beat Shlemenko, but do so impressively.

“I feel like I should bee able to finish him in two rounds,” Mousasi said. “I’m too fast. Physically I’m bigger and stronger. I have the reach. I have the advantage in the stand-up and on the ground and in wrestling. Everything is to my advantage. The only thing I have to worry about is spinning back kicks, elbows and stuff like that. He’s tough and comes to fight, but I feel like he’s too aggressive. He makes a lot of mistakes. He comes to fight, and that’s why he makes a lot of mistakes, because he wants to brawl. I will land my shots.”

For more on Bellator 185, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

Filed under: Bellator, News
Source: MMA Junkie

MMA's week out of the cage: Jon Jones and Ronda Rousey resurface, Cerrone's rattlesnake, more

Social media has become a significant part of the sporting landscape. But few, if any, professional sports match the level of interaction and personal access provided by MMA.

In an individual competition in which nearly every athlete is chasing the same goal of financial success and championship glory, it’s important for fighters to provide insight into their lives in order to connect with fans and gain followings.

Although the life of a fighter often can be mundane and repetitive, there still are moments of interest that take place outside the cage, ring or training room. Here are some of the most interesting of those occurrences from the past week.

* * * *

Jon Jones and Ronda Rousey updates

Instagram Photo

Instagram Photo

Instagram Photo

Instagram Photo

Weekly eats

Instagram Photo

Instagram Photo

Instagram Photo

Instagram Photo

Instagram Photo

Animals of Instagram

Instagram Photo

Instagram Photo

Instagram Photo

Instagram Photo

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

Ex-Bellator champ Liam McGeary 'broke my bloody thumb,' calls out top 205ers

Dann StuppRemember that injury that knocked Liam McGeary out of next week’s Bellator 185 event? We now have an X-ray of it.

As MMAjunkie reported this past week, McGeary (12-2 MMA, 9-2 BMMA), a replacement for Muhammad Lawal (21-6 MMA, 10-4 BMMA), was slated to fight Bubba McDaniel (28-10 MMA, 3-1 BMMA) at the event, which takes place Oct. 20 and airs on Spike from Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn. However, an injury knocked him out of the bout.

The nature of McGeary’s injury wasn’t immediately known, but the former Bellator light-heavyweight champion recently revealed a “bloody thumb” he broke.

Here’s a pic (via Instagram):

Instagram Photo

In a lengthy caption that accompanied the X-ray, McGeary said he still wants to fight “King Mo” – like, really wants to fight him:

“Tell you what tho bubba, you lucky bastard! You got away from a fuckin hiding there!! I was gunna prove a point on you!! I bet I could have even done that 1 handed. But the doc wouldn’t let me!
@kingmofh , I’m gunna be out for a little while longer, heal up fast mate, let’s get this fight sorted! I want to fight you man”

McGeary, who was hoping to rebound from a submission loss to Linton Vassell in May, didn’t stop there, though. The 35-year-old English striker also called out Phil Davis (17-4 MMA, 4-1 BMMA), who took the title from McGeary in 2016. He also gave out a shoutout (and callout) to Vassell (18-5 MMA, 7-2 BMMA), who meets current champ Ryan Bader (23-5 MMA, 1-0 BMMA) in Bellator 186’s main event next month.

For more on Bellator 185, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

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

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