Bellator 191 headliner Michael McDonald: Insane to think I could have another 10-15 years in MMA

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Filed under: Bellator, News, Radio Highlight, UFC, Videos

As he prepares to make his Bellator debut, now is probably a good time to remind you that UFC and WEC veteran Michael McDonald is just 26.

Crazy, right?

“To think about the fact that I could have another 10-15 years (in MMA) if I wanted it is pretty insane,” McDonald told MMAjunkie Radio. “I’ve already been doing this for over 10 years now, professionally, and that’s a good thing – as long as I can keep my body intact. I’ve got a lot of miles, but I’m learning to take good care of my body.”

McDonald debuted in the WEC in 2010 as a teenager and then immediately transitioned to the UFC, earning a “Fight of the Night” bonus in a decision win over Edwin Figueroa in his promotional debut. He was victorious in his first four UFC fights before coming up short in a bid against Renan Barao for the UFC’s interim bantamweight title in 2013.

Injuries and contract disputes slowed McDonald’s output for the next several years, and he ultimately elected to leave the UFC in favor of a fresh start with Bellator.

In Friday’s Bellator 191 headliner at Metro Radio Arena in Newcastle, England, McDonald (17-4 MMA, 0-0 BMMA) faces Frenchman Peter Ligier (8-1-1 MMA, 0-0 BMMA) in a bout that airs on Spike via same-day tape delay.

It’s a fresh start for McDonald, who could still have plenty of upside remaining in his fighting career. With plenty of top-level experience already under his belt, he knows what it takes to compete against the world’s best. His only regret is that he faced top competition so early in his career that it was difficult to have his compensation match the difficulty of the challenges.

“There’s positives and negatives to it,” McDonald said of the early start to his career. “I fought such high competition so quick while I was on my first UFC contract, and that kind of sucked. I fought Miguel Torres on my very first UFC contract. It’s hard to fight someone according to my pay grade when I’ve just beaten Miguel Torres, and I’m still on my first contract after that. There are complications business-wise. But professionally, when it comes to the competitor in me, I’m very happy with it.”

It’s been nearly 17 months since “Mayday” last stepped in the cage, and he said the time away has done him wonders. At such a young age, McDonald still has plenty of time to deliver on the potential he’s long possessed.

But the first step comes Friday, when McDonald can prove his decision to walk away from the UFC was a wise one.

“I’m really excited, man,” McDonald said. “This is the most focused I’ve been in a very long time. Not only that, it’s the best shape, the best technical-wise, best strength, best cardio I’ve ever had in my entire life. Part of me wishes I felt this way for my UFC fights, particularly my title fight in the UFC, but it happens the way that is is.

“God is sovereign over what’s going on, and I’m positive that what happened was good, but I think still this is the greatest I’ve ever felt in my life, and I’m really excited to see how that translates to performance.”

For more on Bellator 191, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

MMAjunkie Radio broadcasts Monday-Friday at 1 p.m. ET (10 a.m. PT) live from Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino’s Race & Sports Book. The show is hosted by “Gorgeous” George Garcia, Brian “Goze” Garcia and Dan Tom. For more information or to download past episodes, go to www.mmajunkie.com/radio.

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Filed under: Bellator, News, Radio Highlight, UFC, Videos
Source: MMA Junkie

Bellator 191's Valerie Letourneau looks to ex-UFC champ Joanna Jedrzejczyk as proof she made right move

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Filed under: Bellator, News, Radio Highlight, UFC, Videos

Six-time UFC fighter Valerie Letourneau struggled tremendously to reach the 115-pound strawweight limit during her octagon run and ultimately decided to move to flyweight upon signing with Bellator.

Letourneau (8-6 MMA, 0-0 BMMA) debuts for the promotion against Kate Jackson (9-2-1 MMA, 1-0 BMMA) at Friday’s Bellator 191 event. Ahead of that matchup, which airs on Spike (via same-day tape delay) from Metro Radio Arena in Newcastle, England, Letourneau said she’s confident the change in divisions was absolutely necessary.

“I feel like I’ve been waiting for this forever,” Letourneau told MMAjunkie Radio. “It’s been a very long year of negotiating contracts and training and training and training. Nothing was going on, so I’m very impatient. I cannot wait for this fight, especially this week when we cut weight. I’m just so grateful, so happy that I can finally fight at 125. I feel strong. I feel healthy. I’m still cutting weight, but in a normal way, so I can really focus on performing.”

Letourneau’s UFC run started in fine fashion after she earned a UFC 174 win in the bantamweight division before making a move down to the strawweight division and posting victories over Jessica Rakoczy and Maryna Moroz.

But Letourneau’s weight cuts got increasingly difficult, and she lost her final three UFC appearances, starting with a failed bid to unseat then-champ Joanna Jedrzejczyk (14-1 MMA, 8-1 UFC) and then subsequent losses to Joanna Calderwood and Viviane Pereira.

Jedrzejczyk is now a teammate of Letourneau’s at American Top Team, and “Trouble” said she’s amazed that the Polish standout can still get her body down to 115 pounds. However, she said that watching the process is a stark reminder of her own desire to compete at flyweight instead.

Letourneau heard secondhand of Jedrzejczyk’s weight cut at this past month’s UFC 217 event, where the Polish fighter lost her UFC belt, and knows she doesn’t want to deal with similar difficulties.

“Well, definitely we had that talk with Joanna, even the week before the fight, just before she left – how much it hurt her body, how much it affects us even sometimes a month and two months after the fight; we’re still paying the price for the weight cut,” Letourneau said. “It’s so hard to explain. There’s so many steps that are – it’s not healthy, but at the same time, this is what we have to do. I’m so impressed with how good (Jedrzejczyk is) because she’s pretty much cutting the same same amount of weight. We have different bodies, but it works pretty much the same.

“When we start training, we gain weight because we put muscle on, and then everything is a struggle of not putting too much muscle, going down in weight and performing. She’s been doing so great. She always had really good cardio going to those five-round fights. But these weight cuts she’s doing are brutal. People have no clue because also her attitude is so positive. She always looks like she’s good, she’s strong, but look at her body. You can tell the girl is sucked up when she gets on the scale. She’s sitting there smiling, but there’s nothing left. She’s completely drained, and there’s a price to pay.”

Letourneau said it was this experience that forced her to move up a division, especially when her body made things harder and harder for her in progressive weight cuts.

The Canadian import said it’s natural for the body to fight against the cuts no matter how frustrating it might be.

“Every time you do those weight cuts, the second time is harder,” Letourneau said. “Your body knows, and sometimes what was working the first time is not working this time. It’s like your body is protecting itself. You’re not going to lose as much water as easily, and we kind of need to switch a couple things. It’s just, your body doesn’t want to go through this. It’s not healthy, and it just gets harder and harder, and I think this weight cut (for Jedrzejczyk) – from what I’ve heard, I wasn’t there – but we have the same coach. Mike Brown was with me when I fought in Australia, so he saw her cutting weight for this fight, and he said it was a pretty similar weight cut.

“And we have no IV, also, to rehydrate. It’s hard to have 24 hours so dehydrated. You don’t just drink water and Pedialyte, and everything is going to be fine. It’s more than that, especially for your brain.”

The UFC instituted the women’s flyweight division shortly after Letourneau left the promotion, but she said she’s not upset at that turn of events. Instead, she’s simply anxious to get in the cage and said plenty of talented female flyweights are capable of stacking rosters in both the UFC and Bellator.

“I think it’s going to be the perfect mix of both – very athletic girls, very fast, and still strong, strong women, like we see at 135 and 145,” Letourneau. “And also, (we’ll be) seeing women fight at their full capacity.”

For more on Bellator 191, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

MMAjunkie Radio broadcasts Monday-Friday at 1 p.m. ET (10 a.m. PT) live from Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino’s Race & Sports Book. The show is hosted by “Gorgeous” George Garcia and producer Brian “Goze” Garcia. For more information or to download past episodes, go to www.mmajunkie.com/radio.

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Filed under: Bellator, News, Radio Highlight, UFC, Videos
Source: MMA Junkie

Bellator announces plans for July 7 event in Rome

After hosting four successful events in Italy, Bellator officials are now planning a fight card in the nation’s capital city of Rome.

Bellator execs recently announced plans to host a July 7 event in Rome, marking the promotion’s first visit to the city.

“After the success of our events in Torino and Florence, Italy over the last two years, we knew that it was time to do a show in Rome, a city rooted deep in combat sports history,” Bellator President Scott Coker stated. “The Italian fans have shown their passion for the sport and we look forward to bringing a huge card to Rome next year on July 7.”

As with all 2018 Bellator events, the card will air on the soon-to-launch Paramount Network, a rebrand of the company’s current home on Spike.

Additional details, including a bout card, will be announced shortly.

This past weekend’s Bellator 190 event took place in Florence, where middleweight champion Rafael Carvalho (15-1 MMA, 6-0 BMMA) needed just 44 seconds to score a knockout win over Italian challenger Alessio Sakara (19-12 MMA, 2-1 BMMA).

This week, the company is in Newcastle, England, for “Bellator 191: McDonald vs. Ligier,” featuring the promotional debut of former UFC title challengers Michael McDonald (17-4 MMA, 0-0 BMMA) and Valerie Letourneau (8-6 MMA, 0-0 BMMA).

For more on upcoming Bellator events, including Bellator 191 and Bellator in Rome, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

Filed under: Bellator, News
Source: MMA Junkie

Bellator 190 reactions: Winning and losing fighters on social media

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

Since the early days when the sport was anything but a mainstream endeavor, the MMA industry has thrived and survived through various websites, forums and, perhaps most importantly, social-media platforms.

Fighters interact with fans, each other and many more through the likes of Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, which helps outsiders get a deeper look into the minds of the athletes.

Following Saturday’s Bellator 190 event in Florence, Italy, several of the winning and losing fighters, along with their coaches, training partners or family members, took to social media to react to the event or share a message with supporters.

Check out some of those reactions.

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The defeated

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The victorious

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For complete coverage of Bellator 190, check out the MMA Events 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

Bellator 190 post-event facts: Rafael Carvalho Bellator's most successful champ – by a long shot

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Filed under: Bellator, News

Rafael Carvalho’s dominance of the Bellator middleweight division continued on Saturday when he beat Alessio Sakara for his third consecutive title defense in Bellator 190’s headliner.

Carvalho (15-1 MMA, 6-0 BMMA) remained unbeaten in the Bellator cage and tied the record for most consecutive 185-pound title defenses when he scored a 44-second finish of Sakara (19-12 MMA, 2-1 BMMA) in the Spike-televised headliner at Nelson Mandela Forum in Florence, Italy.

For more on the numbers behind Carvalho’s credentials, check below for 20 post-event facts to come out of Bellator 190.

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General

Betting favorites went 1-3 on the main card.

Betting favorites improved to 16-4 (with one even odds) in Bellator main events this year.

Total fight time for the four-bout main card was 31:50.

Main card

Rafael Carvalho

Carvalho’s three consecutive Bellator title defenses are the most among current champions and as many as all other champions combined. No one else has more than one.

Carvalho’s three consecutive Bellator middleweight title defenses are tied with Alexander Shlemenko for most in history.

Carvalho’s 44-second victory marked the second fastest title-fight stoppage in Bellator history. Only Brandon Halsey’s 35-second win at Bellator 126 was faster.

Carvalho extended his winning streak to 15 fights. He hasn’t suffered a defeat since his MMA debut in December 2011.

Carvalho’s six-fight Bellator winning streak is the longest active streak in the division.

Carvalho has earned 12 of his 15 career victories by stoppage.

Carvalho has earned all 12 of his career stoppage victories by knockout.

Rafael Carvalho and Alessio Sakara

Sakara fell to 3-1 (with one no-contest) since his UFC tenure ended in October 2013.

Sakara has suffered eight of his 12 career losses by stoppage.

Sakara suffered his first knockout loss since Apr. 14, 2012 – a span of 2,065 days (more than five years) and seven fights.

Brandon Girtz (15-7 MMA, 7-5 BMMA) snapped his three-fight losing skid for his first victory since November 2015.

Girtz has earned 11 of his 15 career victories by stoppage. That includes five of his seven Bellator wins.

Brandon Girtz and Luka Jelcic

Luka Jelcic (10-3 MMA, 0-1 BMMA) has suffered both of his career stoppage losses by knockout.

Alejandra Lara (7-1 MMA, 1-0 BMMA) has earned six of her seven career victories by stoppage.

Lena Ovchynnikova (12-5 MMA, 2-2 BMMA) fell to 4-5 (with one no-contest) in her past 10 fights.

Ovchynnikova suffered her first submission loss since Mar. 11, 2012 – a span of 2,099 days (nearly six years) and nine fights.

Mihail Nica (6-1 MMA, 1-1 BMMA) had his six-fight winning streak snapped for the first defeat of his career.

For complete coverage of Bellator 190, check out the MMA Events section of the site.

FightMetric research analyst and live statistics producer Michael Carroll contributed to this story. Follow him on Twitter @MJCflipdascript.

Filed under: Bellator, News
Source: MMA Junkie

Bellator 190 highlights: A 44-second title fight and uppercuts from hell

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Filed under: Bellator, News, Videos

Once Saturday’s Bellator 190 main card got going, the finishes quickly piled up.

In the championship headliner, middleweight titleholder Rafael Carvalho (15-1 MMA, 6-0 BMMA) needed just 44 seconds to put away challenger and local favorite Alessio Sakara (19-12 MMA, 2-1 BMMA) with elbows and punches.

Check out the highlights above.

Bellator 190 took place at Nelson Mandela Forum in Florence, Italy, and aired via same-day tape delay on Spike.

In the co-headliner, veteran lightweight Brandon Girtz (15-7 MMA, 7-5 BMMA) halted a three-fight skid in a big way after scoring a first-round knockout victory over Luka Jelcic (10-3 MMA, 0-1 BMMA) with some hellacious uppercuts.

Also on the card, flyweight Alejandra Lara (6-1 MMA, 1-0 BMMA) made a successful promotional debut and scored a big upset after submitting veteran Lena Ovchynnikova (12-5 MMA, 2-2 BMMA) via third-round submission. Additionally, lightweight Carlos Leal Miranda (11-3 MMA, 1-0 BMMA) kicked off the main card and cruised to a lopsided unanimous-decision win over Mihail Nica (6-1 MMA, 1-1 BMMA).

For complete coverage of Bellator 190, including a full event recap, check out the MMA Events section of the site.

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

Fight Tracks: The walkout songs of Bellator 190

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

See what the fighters of Saturday’s Bellator 190 in Italy went with as their backing tracks.

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Rafael Carvalho def. Alessio Sakara via knockout (elbow) – Round 1, 0:44

Rafael Carvalho: “Ja Posso Suportar” by Pregador Luo

Alessio Sakara: “Kung Fu Fighting” by Carl Douglas

Brandon Girtz def. Luka Jelcic via knockout (punch) – Round 1, 1:57

Brandon Girtz: “Dead Man Walking” by Cayvs

Luka Jelcic: “Bolt Thrower” by The Killchain

Alejandra Lara def. Lena Ovchynnikova via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 3, 4:09

Alejandra Lara: “Sonido Bestial” by Richie Ray & Bobby Cruz

Lena Ovchynnikova: “Bring Me To Life” by Evanescence

Carlos Leal Miranda def. Mihail Nica via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-27, 30-27)

Carlos Leal Miranda: “Isaias 9” by Rodolfo Abrantes

Mihail Nica: “Sent To Gaja”

For complete coverage of Bellator 190, check out the MMA Events 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

Twitter reacts to Rafael Carvalho's brutal KO of Alessio Sakara in Bellator 190 title defense

Rafael Carvalho dominated again at Bellator 190 when he put Alessio Sakara away in a mere 44 seconds.

Middleweight champ Carvalho (15-1 MMA, 6-0 BMMA) stayed unbeaten and defended his title for the third time in the Bellator cage when a big elbow led to a violent knockout in the Spike-televised title bout at Nelson Mandela Forum in Florence, Italy.

Check below for the top Twitter reactions to Carvalho’s victory over Sakara at Bellator 191.

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For complete coverage of Bellator 191, check out the MMA Events section of the site.

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

'Bellator 190: Carvalho vs. Sakara' official results (8 p.m. ET)

Bellator 190 takes place today, and you can join us for official results from the tape-delayed event at 8 p.m. ET (5 p.m. PT).

The event takes place Nelson Mandela Forum in Florence, Italy, and it airs on Spike.

In the main event, middleweight champion Rafael Carvalho (14-1 MMA, 5-0 BMMA) takes on title challenger and Italian vet Alessio Sakara (19-11 MMA, 2-0 BMMA).

Official Bellator 190 results include:

  • Champ Rafael Carvalho vs. Alessio Sakara – for middleweight title
  • Brandon Girtz vs. Luka Jelcic
  • Lena Ovchynnikova vs. Alejandra Lara
  • Mihail Nica vs. Carlos Leal Miranda
  • Gregory Babene vs. Tony Zanko

For more on Bellator 190, check out the MMA Events section of the site.

Filed under: Bellator, News
Source: MMA Junkie

MMA's week out of the cage: Joanna Jedrzejczyk the stormtrooper, Mark Hunt's painful tattoo

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.

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Animals of Instagram

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Weekly eats

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Weddings, anniversaries, engagements

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