Jussier Formiga vs. Ben Nguyen, Tyson Pedro vs. Saparbek Safarov added to UFC 221 in Perth

The UFC’s debut event in Perth is beginning to take shape with the addition of its first two fights.

A flyweight bout between Jussier Formiga (20-5 MMA, 3-4 UFC) and Ben Nguyen (17-6 MMA, 4-1 UFC), as well as a light heavyweight matchup between Tyson Pedro (6-1 MMA, 2-1 UFC) and Saparbek Safarov (8-1 MMA, 0-1 UFC), are set to go down at February’s UFC 221 event.

The fights were announced by thewest.com.au.

UFC 221 takes place Feb. 10 at Perth Arena. The main card airs on pay-per-view following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass.

Formiga has alternated wins and losses in his past five UFC fights. He’s coming off a first-round submission of Ulka Sasaki at UFC Fight Night 117 in September. He meets the streaking Nguyen, who has won 10 of his past 11 bouts and is coming off a 49-second submission of Tim Elliott at UFC Fight Night 110 in June.

Pedro, meanwhile, will attempt to rebound after experiencing his first pro loss against Ilir Latifi at UFC 215 in September. He clashes with Safarov, who will return to the octagon for the first time since losing a “Fight of the Night” against Gian Villante in his debut at UFC Fight Night 102 in December.

For more on UFC 221, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

Sean Shelby's Shoes: What's next for 'OSP,' Andrade and UFC Fight Night 117's other winning fighters?


Filed under: Featured, News, UFC, Videos

The UFC’s latest event in Japan was arguably the weakest of all on paper, but in practice, it produced some solid action, with four of six fights on the FXX-televised main card ending inside the distance.

Ovince Saint Preux (21-10 MMA, 9-5 UFC) once again pulled off his signature submission in the light heavyweight main event, which took place at Saitama Super Arena. “OSP” put away late-notice replacement Yushin Okami (34-11 MMA, 13-6 UFC) with a Von Flue choke submission in the first round to give him consecutive wins for the first time in more than two years.

The remainder of the lineup included a statement performance from former strawweight title challenger Jessica Andrade (17-6 MMA, 8-4 UFC) as well as victories by ”Maestro” Dong Hyun Kim (15-8-3 MMA, 2-2 UFC), Gokhan Saki (1-1 MMA, 1-0 UFC), Teruto Ishihara (10-4-2 MMA, 3-2-1 UFC) and Jussier Formiga (20-5 MMA, 6-4 UFC).

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 117’s winning fighters.

* * * *

Ben Nguyen

Jussier Formiga

Should fight: Ben Nguyen
Why they should fight: Formiga put on one of the finest performances of his UFC career when he went into Ulka Sasaki’s home country and earned a submission in the opening round of the flyweight fight.

Formiga has been part of the UFC’s 125-pound since its inception, and despite being ranked in or around the top-five for the entire time, he’s one of the few contenders that’s yet to get a shot at champion Demetrious Johnson.

The win over Sasaki isn’t going to get the Brazilian his long-awaited title shot, but it moves him in the right direction. Formiga needs to string together a few in a row against relevant names. A matchup with Nguyen (17-6 MMA, 4-1 UFC), who is on a nice run of his own, would be a perfect next step.

Godofredo Pepey

Teruto Ishihara

Should fight: Godofredo Pepey
Why they should fight: After losing back-to-back fights, Ishihara got back on track with a solid unanimous decision win against lesser-known Ronaldo Dy.

Ishihara’s personality has gained him a lot of traction, but his past two performances, which were close decision losses to Gray Maynard and Artem Lobov, took some of his luster away. The step back in competition was just what he needed, and it led Ishihara to a win.

At this point Ishihara hasn’t proven himself as much more than an action fighter in the featherweight division. Fortunately for him there’s many others in his weight class who fit the same role. Pepey (13-5 MMA, 5-5 UFC) may be coming off a loss, but there’s no doubt the feisty Brazilian would give Ishihara a scrap.

Steve Bosse

Gokhan Saki

Should fight: Steve Bosse
Why they should fight: The much-anticipated debut of former kickboxing champion Saki went about as good as possible when he styled out on Henrique da Silva for a first-round knockout courtesy of his left hand.

Saki competed in one MMA fight back in 2004, but since then has gone through an extraordinary combat sports journey. After a decorated career in kickboxing, he decided to test his chops in the UFC light heavyweight division with minimal MMA experience. He passed his first test, but it’s not going to get any easier going forward.

“The Rebel” clearly has terrifying striking, but the big test will be when someone can put him in a compromising position on the ground. It would be best to avoid that as long as possible, though, so he should get another matchup with a striking-based opponent. Bosse (12-2 MMA, 3-1 UFC), the former hockey enforcer turned MMA slugger, would almost certainly be willing to stand toe-to-toe with “The Rebel.”

Scott Holtzman

“Maestro” Dong Hyun Kim

Should fight: Scott Holtzman
Why they should fight: Although Takanori Gomi is a diminished version of what he once was, “Maestro” Kim added the most noteworthy victory of his career so far to his resume when he defeated the former PRIDE FC lightweight champion by TKO in just 90 seconds.

Kim handed Gomi his fifth consecutive loss, and likely ended his UFC career, with a solid performance which put him back on even ground when it comes to his UFC record (2-2). He may lack the skills of a top 155-pound fighter, but, the South Korean has proven to be an exciting competitor each time he steps in the octagon. The UFC embraces that, and a matchup with Holtzman (10-2 MMA, 3-2 UFC) would bring out the best in Kim’s skillset.

Karolina Kowalkiewicz

Jessica Andrade

Should fight: Winner of Karolina Kowalkiewicz vs. Jodie Esquibel at UFC Fight Night 118
Why they should fight: Andrade rebounded from her title-fight loss to Joanna Jedrzejczyk earlier this year with arguably the biggest victory of her career against Claudia Gadelha.

Andrade became the first fighter outside of Jedrzejczyk to defeat her fellow Brazilian, scoring a one-sided unanimous decision win in the crucial women’s strawweight co-headliner. She put herself right back near the top of the totem pole in the 115-pound pecking order, but considering the recent and, more importantly, lopsided nature of her defeat to Jedrzejczyk, she’s going to need to do more before another crack at the gold comes her way.

It’s clear Andrade isn’t going to be an easy out for anyone in her weight class. Her primary goal is to take out any contender willing to sign a contract to face her, and her wish for the winner of the UFC Fight Night 118 between Kowalkiewicz (10-2 MMA, 3-2 UFC) and Esquibel (6-2 MMA, 0-0 UFC), who meet on Oct. 21 in Poland, is quite realistic.

Ovince Saint Preux

Should fight: Mauricio Rua
Why they should fight: Watch the video above to see why Saint Preux should rebook his rematch with Rua (25-10 MMA, 9-8 UFC) next.

For complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 117, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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

After disappointment in UFC 214 debut, Jarred Brooks to 'fight like a god' next time

Filed under: News, UFC, Videos

ANAHEIM, Calif. – Jarred Brooks his not happy with the performance he delivered in his UFC debut, despite picking up the win.

Brooks (13-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC) earned a split-decision victory over Eric Shelton (10-4 MMA, 0-2 UFC) on Saturday’s UFC 214 card, which took place at Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif., and aired on pay-per-view following prelims on FXX and UFC Fight Pass.

The debuting flyweight, who was part of the early prelims on UFC Fight Pass, talked a lot of smack in the lead-up to the contest. The result narrowly went his way, but he pointed to feeling off in the days prior to the event as one of the reasons behind what he considered an underwhelming effort. He promised to do much better in his sophomore outing.

“I felt like crap leading up to the fight, but everything happens for a reason,” Brooks said after his win. “Usually when I do things first off, I do things really (expletive) – then I always end up doing really good. I beat a qualified opponent. Eric Shelton is really good. … Hats off to him. He’s a hell of an opponent. Hopefully in the future I will show a better form of Jarred Brooks. They call me ‘The Monkey God.’ I’m going to come out there and fight like a god in the future.”

Brooks said his long layoff also contributed to his performance. He was originally scheduled to make his UFC debut on short notice against Ian McCall at UFC 208 in February, but the matchup fell apart on fight day when “Uncle Creep” was hospitalized with illness.

He doesn’t want another similar break between fights, and said he hopes the UFC will book him again immediately.

“I haven’t fought in almost year,” Brooks said. “People like Ian McCall, I wish I could have fought Ian in February. I felt a lot better leading up to that fight. Eric Shelton is a hell of an opponent, hell of a striker. He’s well-rounded. Thank God for giving me that win, but expect more out of me, guys. I’m going to come out, and I’m going to bring the ruckus within the next few months.

“Hopefully they can get me a fight every two months. I’m like ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone. I only weigh about 129. I’m probably weighing around 125 sopping wet right now. If they’re putting me to fight in the next two months, two weeks – whatever.”

If Brooks can’t get a quick fight, though, he has a more longterm plan. He would like to fight on the rumored December UFC card in Detroit, and he named Magomed Bibulatov (14-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC) and Ben Nguyen (17-6 MMA, 4-1 UFC) as two opponents he’d like to face in the 125-pound division.

“I’m ready to go,” Brooks said. “I would really like to fight Magomed Bibulatov in Detroit in December or Ben Nguyen. I think those are really good fights for me in the future.”

For complete coverage of UFC 214, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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

MMAjunkie's 'Submission of the Month' for June: A hyped debut ends in just 24 seconds

With another action-packed month of MMA in the books, MMAjunkie looks at the best submissions from June. Here are the five nominees, listed in chronological order, and winner of MMAjunkie’s “Submission of the Month” award for June.

At the bottom of the post, let us know if we got it right by voting for your choice.

* * * *

The nominees

Brian Kelleher def. Iuri Alcantara at UFC 212

There were big punches and kicks coming at Brian Kelleher (17-7 MMA, 1-0 UFC) on hostile ground. But by the time he got done squeezing Iuri Alcantara’s (34-8 MMA, 9-3 UFC) neck, the Brazilian crowd was silent.

A guillotine choke brought Kelleher a quick win over Alcantara, starting his UFC career off with a bang.

Claudia Gadelha def. Karolina Kowalkiewicz at UFC 212

In a battle between two recent women’s strawweight title contenders, Claudia Gadelha (15-2 MMA, 4-2 UFC) nabbed an early takedown, and it proved to be the beginning of the end for Karolina Kowalkiewicz (10-2 MMA, 3-2 UFC).

Moments after the fight hit the mat, Kowalkiewicz found Gadelha on her back. She made a chain of crucial mistakes, which allowed Gadelha to start squeezing for the rear-naked choke that would ultimately force the submission finish just a little over 3 minutes into the fight.

Ben Nguyen def. Tim Elliott at UFC Fight Night 110

No one will be underrating Ben Nguyen’s (17-6 MMA, 4-1 UFC) ground game after his fight with former flyweight title challenger Tim Elliott (14-8-1 MMA, 3-6 UFC).

There wasn’t much to the fight. Nguyen used Elliott’s frenetic grappling against him, taking the back and sinking in a rear-naked choke early in the first round to earn an upset win.

James Gallagher def. Chinzo Machida at Bellator 180

The next big thing to come out of Ireland continued to live up to the hype in his toughest test so far when James Gallagher (7-0 MMA, 4-0 BMMA) quickly submitted Chinzo Machida (5-3 MMA, 2-1 BMMA) in their featherweight bout.

Gallagher, a teammates of UFC champ Conor McGregor, delivered a clean performance against Machida. He got the fight to the ground early and wasted no time taking Machida’s back and sinking in the rear-naked choke (http://mmajunkie.com/2017/06/bellator-nyc-bellator-180-official-results-ppv-live-video-stream) to end the fight just over two minutes after it began.

Zach Freeman def. Aaron Pico at Bellator NYC

The long-awaited debut of MMA super-prospect Aaron Pico (0-1 MMA, 0-1 BMMA) went horribly awry when he was hurt with a huge punch and then submitted by Zach Freeman (9-2 MMA, 1-0 BMMA) all within the span of 24 stunning seconds.

Pico, who was making his pro debut against a more experience foe in Freeman, ate an uppercut from Freeman just moments after the featherweight fight began. Pico closed the distance out of instinct, but Freeman took advantage and locked up a D’Arce choke, which put Pico to sleep just as he tapped out.


* * * *

The Winner: Zach Freeman

The heavily hyped Pico is still a work in progress.

Freeman brought that fact into stark relief with an uppercut and guillotine choke that had Pico tapping quickly.

It was just over 24 seconds into the fight when Pico tapped and briefly went unconscious as Freeman modified his choke and squeezed with a D’Arce.

Pico handed him the opportunity. Perhaps eager to put a knockout on the board after promising one at the event’s weigh-ins, Pico immediately closed the distance and fired off an overhand right. Unfortunately for him, Freeman beat him to the punch with an uppercut.

Pico’s knees buckled, and Freeman grabbed the neck. Pico tried to get free but was quickly forced to tap.

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

Title shot? Sure, but Ben Nguyen also happy to welcome T.J. Dillashaw to flyweight

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

A quick win over a former title challenger has opened up an array of possibilities for Ben Nguyen, but in the complicated flyweight division, it’s hard to pinpoint what’s next.

Nguyen walked into his recent UFC Fight Night 110 flyweight bout with “The Ultimate Fighter 24” winner Tim Elliott an underdog, but he walked away with a 49-second submission win and a $50,000 “Performance of the Night” bonus. Life, Nguyen will understandably tell you, is good.

But as bright as Nguyen’s octagon future looks, it’s also up in the air. With flyweight kingpin Demetrious Johnson currently engaged in a public battle with the UFC, the next challenger undefined, and the division’s existence possibly endangered, he has a few scenarios ahead of him.

First, of course, is the ideal one: becoming the 125-pound division’s next title challenger.

“I’ve been doing some reading online, and a lot of people have been speculating and talking,” Nguyen told MMAjunkie Radio. “And people are saying, ‘Ben defeated Tim Elliott, the guy who went the distance with the champ and gave him a pretty tough time. So maybe Ben should have the next shot.’ Especially with all this stupid drama going on with (T.J. Dillashaw) coming down to flyweight, and (UFC President Dana White) threatening to shut down the division.

“Maybe they should just have me jump in. I’ve got the momentum. I’ve got the style. I’ve just beat one of the top guys. So, maybe I’m not too far off. If it was offered to me, obviously I’d have to take it. It makes me really excited, like I could be fighting the champ next.”

While we’ve seen stranger things happen, a title shot doesn’t seem like the most realistic scenario for Nguyen (17-6 MMA, 4-1 UFC), currently ranked No. 5 in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA flyweight rankings. After all, two other possible challengers have been in the forefront of the public dispute all along.

First, there’s No. 5 ranked flyweight Ray Borg (11-2 MMA, 5-2 UFC), whom the champ had accepted to face before things escalated. And then there’s ex-135-pound champ Dillashaw (14-3 MMA, 10-3 UFC) – whom the promotion has been pushing to get a shot at Johnson (26-2-1 MMA, 14-1-1 UFC) in what would be the ex-bantamweight titleholder’s first 125-pound outing.

If it helps clear out the situation, Nguyen would also be happy to meet either of the two in a title-eliminator scenario. Especially considering that he agrees with both Borg and Johnson that Dillashaw must first prove he can actually perform as a flyweight before getting a chance to rule the entire division.

“That’s an option as well, fighting Borg,” Nguyen said. “Fighting T.J., I just think that would be a fun fight. I think T.J. should have a fight with someone else in the flyweight division if he wants to actually fight for the belt – just to see if he can make the weight, if he can even perform at a lower weight class. That way the belt isn’t tied up with someone who might not be able to defend it later on.”

And last but not least, there’s the one who got away: perennial contender Joseph Benavidez. The two-time title challenger was actually slated to be Nguyen’s opponent for UFC Fight Night 110, but he had to pull out a month before the fight due to an injury.

“I still want to fight Joseph Benavidez,” Nguyen said. “I still want that fight so bad. But I know he’s going to be out until next year – I think he said early next year, he’ll be ready then.”

For complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 110, check out the UFC Events 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: Featured Videos, News, Radio Highlight, UFC, Videos
Source: MMA Junkie

Stream or download MMAjunkie Radio #2468 with Ben Nguyen and Dann Stupp

Stream or download Wednesday’s edition of MMAjunkie Radio with guests Ben Nguyen and Dann Stupp.

Nguyen discussed his UFC Fight Night 110 win over Tim Elliott and possible next opponents. Stupp, the MMAjunkie editor-in-chief, was announced as the interim president of the new MMA Journalists Association.

You can listen below or download the episode from SoundCloud.

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

Watch MMAjunkie Radio here (1 p.m. ET) with Ben Nguyen and Dann Stupp

Filed under: News, UFC

MMAjunkie Radio kicks off today at 1 p.m. ET (10 a.m. PT) with guests Ben Nguyen and Dann Stupp.

Nguyen defeated former title challenger Tim Elliott this past Saturday at UFC Fight Night 110. Stupp, MMAjunkie’s co-founder/editor-in-chief, is interim president of the new MMA Journalists Association.

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: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

UFC-Auckland's 10 memorable moments, including Derrick Lewis' bombshell

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UFC Fight Night 110 started off slowly. The first four fights went the distance, but when things picked up steam, the card moved along rather nicely with all but one of the final six bouts ending in a finish. Those finishes included the heavyweight main event between Mark Hunt and Derrick Lewis.

Lewis entered the FS1-televised headliner on a six-fight winning streak, but despite his best efforts, he was unable to extend that streak to seven, and instead, he tasted defeat for the first time in almost two years. During the four-round contest, Lewis went deep into his bag of tricks, attempting high kicks, flying knees and even thinking about a spinning kick, but Hunt calmly took everything he had to offer. And when his opponent’s gas tank hit empty, Hunt closed the deal with strikes against the fence.

In the co-main event, another winning streak came to a close as fan favorite Daniel Kelly fell to Derek Brunson via knockout in less than 90 seconds.

UFC Fight Night 110 took place Saturday at Spark Arena in Auckland, New Zealand.

Here are 10 memorable moments from the event.

1. Sticking around

The Hunt (13-11-1 MMA, 8-5-1 UFC) and Lewis (18-5 MMA, 9-3 UFC) bout lasted longer than many expected, grinding along until late in the fourth round. The end came when an exhausted Lewis put his hands on his hips and backed into the fence, where Hunt delivered a few strikes before referee Marc Goddard waved off the contest.

The finish was more whimper than bang, but it showed that even at 43, Hunt remains a force in the UFC heavyweight division.

After his victory, Hunt, the oldest fighter in the UFC, said he plans on sticking around until he fights out the reported six-fight deal he signed in April 2016.

“I like to get beat up,” Hunt told MMAjunkie. “Shucks, there’s nothing else I’m good at. But I’ve got a couple of fights I want to finish. Why not see the contract out and then retire?”


2. Somebody’s watching me

“It’s probably my last fight,” Lewis told UFC commentator Brian Stann after his loss to Hunt. “I’m getting married next week, and I don’t like to put my family through this. That will be my last fight.”

We all know MMA retirements have a tendency not to last, especially when they come seconds after a loss in a big fight. That didn’t stop two of Lewis’ fellow UFC heavyweights from commenting on his possible retirement via social media.

Travis Browne, whom Lewis knocked out in February, questioned Lewis’ heart in an Instagram post and offered to run back their fight, while up and coming Francis Ngannou tweeted that Hunt beat Lewis “like a baby.”

3. Back on track

Between August 2014 and September 2016, Brunson ran off five straight middleweight wins, with four victories coming via first-round knockout. Brunson’s stock took a hit after he dropped his next two fights, losing to Robert Whittaker and Anderson Silva. Expect a market correction when it comes to Brunson (17-5 MMA, 8-3 UFC) after his first-round knockout win over Kelly (13-2 MMA, 6-2 UFC).

Brunson faced criticism for his style in the Whittaker and Silva fights. He was reckless against Whittaker and not aggressive enough against Silva. Brunson found a middle ground vs. Kelly by throwing out jabs and kicks to measure distance and timing, and when he saw an opening, he threw a hard left that dropped Kelly. A few hammerfists later, Brunson was back in the win column while bringing an abrupt end to Kelly’s four-fight winning streak.


4. Move pays off

Dan Hooker joined the UFC’s featherweight division following a run as the Australian Fighting Championships lightweight titleholder. Three years into his UFC tenure, Hooker’s record stood at 3-3, and he decided to give lightweight another shot, starting at UFC Fight Night 110. That move paid off in a big way.

Moments after his corner implored their fighter to find his range, Hooker (14-7 MMA, 4-3 UFC) connected with a knee to the chin that sent Ross Pearson (19-14 MMA, 11-11 UFC) to the mat while simultaneously launching his mouthpiece into the air. That perfectly timed strike, which ended the fight at the 3:02 mark of Round 2, earned Hooker a $50,000 “Performance of the Night” bonus.

After the contest, Hooker told MMAjunkie he will be sticking around at lightweight.


5. Say goodnight

Ion Cutelaba was a bit belligerent at the weigh-in, where he refused to shake the hand of light-heavyweight opponent Henrique da Silva and lunging toward him. Cutelaba (13-3 MMA, 2-2 UFC) upped his aggression on fight night, marching across the cage during introductions and dragging his thumb across his throat as he got in da Silva’s (12-3 MMA, 2-3 UFC) face.

Cutelaba backed up his pugnaciousness once the fight began, throwing his punches with fight-ending intentions. Cutelaba knocked down da Silva early and didn’t let up once his opponent was hurt. He landed heavy rights from inside da Silva’s guard and ended the fight in 22 seconds.

After the victory, Cutelaba told Stann he was in a hurry to end the contest so he could say goodnight to his infant daughter, who was home in Moldova.


6. That’ll change your mood

Ben Nguyen was bummed out when he lost his chance to face Joseph Benavidez at UFC Fight Night 110. After his “Performance of the Night” winning effort against late replacement Tim Elliott, Nguyen’s mood improved significantly.

Nguyen’s aggressive striking had Elliott (14-8-1 MMA, 3-6 UFC) looking for takedowns early. After some scrambling on the mat, Nguyen (17-6 MMA, 4-1 UFC) slipped in the hooks and sank in a rear-naked choke that ended the flyweight fight in 49 seconds. The loss was Elliott’s first submission defeat since Benavidez stopped him via guillotine choke in April 2014.

The quick stoppage will keep Nguyen in the mix to face a top-five opponent in his next outing, maybe even Benavidez if he heals up in time for that booking.


7. No power outage

Alexander Volkanovski displayed some mean ground and pound in his UFC debut in November, earning a second-round TKO win over Yusuke Kasuya in a lightweight bout. Volkanovski dropped to featherweight for his UFC Fight Night 110 fight against Mizuto Hirota, and he brought his heavy hands with him.

Volkanovski (15-1 MMA, 2-0 UFC) was dominant in every facet of this fight, cruising to a unanimous-decision win over Hirota (14-2 MMA, 1-1 UFC). While he wasn’t able to get the finish, it wasn’t for lack of trying, as Volkanovski came close to ending Hirota’s night in the first round after knocking him down with a right and following up with ground strikes.

The win puts Volkanovski’s winning streak at 12, with 10 stoppages.


8. Rust? What rust?

Most UFC fighters don’t go more than three years between fights, but that’s the situation Vinc Pichel found himself in heading into UFC Fight Night 110. Pichel, who had been sidelined by what he called a “steamroll ball of (expletive)” since his May 2014 win over Anthony Njokuani, stepped into his lightweight fight against Damien Brown anxious to prove he still belonged in the UFC. He did just that.

Brown’s (16-10 MMA, 2-2 UFC) game plan was to pressure Pichel (10-1 MMA, 3-1 UFC), and for most of the first round he was successful. He put Pichel on his heels. But with less than 90 seconds left in the first stanza, Pichel, backing into the fence, delivered a crisp combination that brought the fight to an abrupt end.

After the fight, Pichel informed the division of his plans.

“I ain’t stopping,” Pichel told Stann, “I’m going to go on a rampage.”


9. He needed that

John Moraga knew he was facing questions heading into his flyweight matchup with Ashkan Mokhtarian. The former title contender hadn’t won a fight in more than two years and was in the midst of a three-fight losing streak. Had Moraga (17-6 MMA, 6-5 UFC) lost to Mokhtarian (13-2 MMA, 0-1 UFC), a UFC newcomer, his run with the promotion would have likely come to an end.

Moraga put on a clinic against the overmatched Mokhtarian, dominating the fight in every way and earning a unanimous decision. Now back in the win column, Moraga is sure to be tested by tougher competition the next time he steps into the octagon.


10. That’s better

J.J. Aldrich came into her second UFC fight with a full camp behind her, and it showed. Aldrich represented herself much better against Chanmi Jeon than she did in her short notice debut vs. Juliana Lima.

Aldrich (5-2 MMA, 1-1 UFC) pressured Jeon (5-1 MMA, 0-1 UFC) throughout the strawweight fight, showing solid technical striking ability on her way to a unanimous-decision win.


For more on UFC Fight Night 110, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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Source: MMA Junkie

Sean Shelby's Shoes: What's next for Mark Hunt and UFC Fight Night 110's other winners?

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The UFC made its second stop in New Zealand on Saturday with UFC Fight Night 110, which took place at Spark Arena in Auckland. The event, which aired on FS1 following early prelims on UFC Fight Pass, saw five of six main-card fights end in a stoppage.

In the main event, heavyweight veteran Mark Hunt (13-11-1 MMA, 8-5-1 UFC) dazzled once again when he stopped Derrick Lewis (18-5 MMA, 9-3 UFC) by fourth-round TKO in a “Fight of the Night” affair.

Derek Brunson (17-5 MMA, 8-3 UFC), Dan Hooker (14-7 MMA, 4-3 UFC), Ion Cutelaba (13-3 MMA, 2-2 UFC), Ben Nguyen (17-6 MMA, 4-1 UFC) all put their opponents away in memorable fashion, which left Alex Volkanovski (15-1 MMA, 2-0 UFC) as the only main-card fighter who needed the judges to get his hand raised.

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 110’s winning fighters.

* * * *

Alex Volkanovski

Chas Skelly

Should fight: Chas Skelly
Why they should fight: Volkanovski has burst onto the UFC scene with consecutive wins, the latest a unanimous-decision triumph over veteran Mizuto Hirota.

A winner in 15 of his 16 pro fights, Volkanovski has displayed some solid skills in his two UFC outings, but how that will play out against a higher level of competition remains to be seen.

Volkanovski is still an unknown to many fans and won’t get a truly big fight until he establishes himself more in the featherweight division. Skelly (17-3 MMA, 6-3 UFC) is not ranked in the weight class, but he has the experience and name value to help get Volkanovski there.

Ben Nguyen

Jussier Formiga

Should fight: Jussier Formiga
Why they should fight: Nguyen pulled off his biggest UFC victory to date when he shocked former flyweight title challenger Tim Elliott by submission in just 49 seconds.

Nguyen was originally scheduled to fight Joseph Benavidez, but when an injury occurred, a game Elliott stepped in on short notice. He came flying out of the gate, but Nguyen was ready for it and locked up the quick rear-naked choke for his fourth victory in five UFC appearances.

The fact Nguyen has been booked against the likes of Elliott and Benavidez prove UFC matchmakers consider him one of the best prospects on the 125-pound roster. He validated that status with the big win, which should put him in line for another marquee fight.

It’s one thing to find a way to submit Elliott, but repeating the feat against a grappling ace such as Formiga (19-5 MMA, 5-4 UFC) would be an entirely different task. Along with Nguyen, the Brazilian is one of few ranked 125-pounders who has yet to share the octagon with champion and pound-for-pound king Demetrious Johnson. Both men want their shot, and the winner of a potential fight would help build a legitimate claim to making it happen.

Ion Cutelaba

Josh Stansbury

Should fight: Winner of Josh Stansbury vs. Jeremy Kimball at UFC Fight Night 112
Why they should fight: The once-dead UFC light-heavyweight division has begun to thrive again in recent months, and Cutelaba added himself to the excitement when he scored a 22-second knockout victory over Henrique da Silva.

Cutelaba has split results over his four-fight UFC career, but at just 23, there’s a lot to like about “The Hulk.” His performance against da Silva was further evidence of why. There’s still room for development, but in each fight, the Moldovan fighter has shown growth.

The 205-pound weight class is unquestionably top-heavy, which is both a positive and a negative for a fighter such as Cutelaba. He would have to do something dramatic to be thrown in the octagon against one of the division’s biggest names, so he will continue to be pitted against fighters positioned in a similar spot.

Whoever wins the scheduled bout between Stansbury (8-3 MMA, 0-1 UFC) and Kimball (14-6 MMA, 0-1 UFC) at UFC Fight Night 112 on June 25 would be coming off his first UFC win and would be a suitable next opponent for Cutelaba.

Dan Hooker

David Teymur

Should fight: David Teymur
Why they should fight: Hooker’s move up to the lightweight division after spending his first six UFC fights at featherweight proved wise when he defeated longtime UFC vet Ross Pearson by second-round knockout.

Hooker has shown flashes of brilliance with some spectacular UFC wins, and the crushing finish of Pearson was another example. He’s failed to be consistent, though, while alternating wins and losses over his seven-fight tenure with the organization. Pearson is by far the biggest win of his career, but Hooker’s main focus should be finding a wave of momentum.

It remains to be seen if the jump to 155 pounds will mark a turning point for Hooker, but Pearson has been slumping, and a win over “The Real Deal” isn’t quite as significant as years prior. Nevertheless, Hooker put himself in a spot to fight another fan-friendly name in his new division. Teymur (6-1 MMA, 3-0 UFC), who is coming off an impressive “Fight of the Night” win over Lando Vannata at UFC 209 in March, is just that.

Derek Brunson

Chris Weidman

Should fight: Winner of Chris Weidman vs. Kelvin Gastelum at UFC on FOX 25
Why they should fight: After a two-fight losing skid that resulted from poor fight IQ and lousy judging, Brunson got back on track when he snapped the surprising winning streak of Daniel Kelly with a thunderous first-round knockout victory.

Around this time in 2016, Brunson was riding a five-fight winning streak and considered a rising threat in the 185-pound division. A first-round knockout loss to Robert Whittaker and controversial decision defeat to Anderson Silva derailed his momentum, but “The One” proved that was only a bump in the road with the 76-second destruction of Kelly.

Brunson has been booked in several notable fights over the past few years, and after beating Kelly, there’s no reason that should change. The winner of July’s UFC on FOX 25 headliner between Weidman (13-3 MMA, 9-3 UFC) and Gastelum (14-2 MMA, 9-2 UFC) would be coming off a high and represent a step up in competition from Kelly.

Beating a former champion in Weidman would be a massive statement for Bruson, and taking out a rising star in Gastelum would also be significant. There’s upside regardless of who wins – more so than a matchup with Antonio Carlos Junior, whom Brunson specifically called out post-fight.

Mark Hunt

Should fight: Cain Velasquez
Why they should fight: Watch the video above to see why Hunt should fight former UFC champ Velasquez (14-2 MMA, 12-2 UFC) next.

For complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 110, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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Ben Nguyen was 'waking up in the middle of the night in the sweats' before UFC-Auckland

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AUCKLAND, New Zealand – An underdog coming into Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 110 event, Ben Nguyen needed less than a minute to dispatch a former title challenger in Tim Elliott.

After rocking Elliott (14-8-1 MMA, 3-6 UFC) with a head-kick early in their flyweight affair, Nguyen (17-6 MMA, 4-1 UFC) also got the better of a ground exchange, sinking in the fight-ending rear-naked choke at the 0:49 mark and racking up a $50,000 “Performance of the Night” bonus in the process.

With the statement win over someone who not that long ago was giving dominant champ Demetrious Johnson a fairly tough time, Nguyen said he’s proven to be more than a one-hit wonder.

“Beating a guy like Tim Elliott puts you way past the top 10, for sure,” Nguyen told MMAjunkie after the FS1-televised main-card scrap at Spark Arena in Auckland, New Zealand. “And I put him up there with my previous opponent, Joseph Benavidez.

“They’ve seen me fight that tattooed guy (Julian Wallace, whom Nguyen famously fought at Nitro MMA in 2014), and they think I’m just a big star because of that. But I think I’ve proven myself in the octagon, especially after fighting Tim Elliott and beating him in such a fashion.”

Nguyen is currently an honorable mention in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA flyweight rankings while Elliott occupies the No. 15 spot. Nguyen is now riding a two-fight winning streak, after a UFC Fight Night 91 loss to Louis Smolka last July.

It’s hard to think of a better ending to Nguyen’s night, but it wasn’t all smooth sailing. Originally set to face two-time title challenge Benavidez, he had to overcome the initial disappointment of losing his highest-profile opponent and refocus his strategy for Elliott a month before the fight.

Nguyen ultimately made peace with the change, and it showed on Saturday. But it took a “rollercoaster” preparation to get there.

“For some reason I was really nervous for this fight,” Nguyen said. “I was really – I was waking up in the middle of the night in the sweats or something. I was like, ‘Why am I acting this way?’ But it turned out great, man.”

As big as Saturday’s win was, however, Nguyen doesn’t yet know what his momentum will mean when it comes to his immediate octagon future. After all, it’s hard to map out a plan when your entire division has some serious figuring out to do.

“The division is up in the air; I don’t even know who’s going to be the champion in the next few days,” Nguyen said. “I don’t know. Is that big matchup going to happen, D.J. vs. T.J. (Dillashaw)? I don’t know. I just – keep fighting and winning. That’s all I need to do.”

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

And for complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 110, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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