MMAjunkie's 'Fight of the Month' for October: A bloody brawl that ends in a draw

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

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

* * * *

The Nominees

Bobby Green vs. Lando Vannata at UFC 216

Every time Lando Vannata (9-2-1 MMA, 1-2-1 UFC) has stepped in the octagon he’s delivered a bonus-worthy performance. He did it again in his lightweight bout with Bobby Green (23-8-1 MMA, 4-3-1 UFC), but it wasn’t enough to leave with a victory.

Vannata had a point taken away in the first round when he threw an illegal knee. Green continued despite absorbing the blow, and it was high-intensity for the remainder of the bout. Green’s late rally got him back in the fight, and the judges rules the contest a split draw.

Instagram Photo

Beneil Dariush vs. Evan Dunham at UFC 216

It was a tale of two fights for Evan Dunham (18-6-1 MMA, 11-6-1 UFC) and Beneil Dariush (14-3-1 MMA, 8-3-1 UFC), and the result of the entertaining lightweight bout was a majority draw.

Dariush had a big first round against Dunham, and it resulted in a pair of 10-8 scores. So even though Dunham won the second two rounds from that same pair of judges, it only got him to a pair of 28-28 scores for the draw. A third judge gave the fight to Dariush, 29-28.

Instagram Photo

Tony Ferguson def. Kevin Lee at UFC 216

It was far from an easy night of work for Tony Ferguson (24-3 MMA, 14-1 UFC), but a third-round a slick triangle choke”>triangle choke got Kevin Lee (16-3 MMA, 9-3 UFC) to tap, crowning “El Cucuy” as the UFC’s newest interim champion.

After a back-and-forth two rounds began the fight, Ferguson’s superiority on the ground allowed him to set up. Lee attempted to fight out, but the choke was too fight and he was forced to tap out, crowning Ferguson as the new interim UFC lightweight champion.

Instagram Photo

Brian Kelleher def. Damian Stasiak at UFC Fight Night 118

Brian Kelleher (18-8 MMA, 2-1 UFC) had to struggle through some early adversity against Damian Stasiak (10-5 MMA, 2-3 UFC), and then he had to find a way to put away an extremely tough opponent.

Kelleher managed to do both, rallying from behind to win the bantamweight contest. He wore Stasiak down with his physicality and managed to thump his way to a TKO stoppage with less than 90 seconds remaining in the fight.

Instagram Photo

Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos def. Max Griffin at UFC Fight Night 119

Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos (18-5 MMA, 4-1 UFC) nearly put Max Griffin (13-4 MMA, 1-2 UFC) away in the first, causing many to criticize the referee, doctors and cornermen. Griffin managed to stay in the fight, though, hurting dos Santos in the second.

But after a wild fight with swings in both directions, it was dos Santos who put things together down the stretch to beat a very tough Griffin via unanimous decision after three rounds of exciting welterweight action.

Instagram Photo

* * * *

The Winner: Bobby Green vs. Lando Vannata

In a razor-thin fight, it was a point deduction that led to the draw between lightweights Vannata and Green.

Vannata had a point taken away in the first round when he threw an illegal knee against Green. Each fighter took a 29-27 score, and a third judge scored the fight 28-28. Absent the point deduction for the illegal knee, Vannata would have walked away with a split decision win.

Vannata pushed Green back early, then ducked under a Green left hand. The two tied up briefly, and when they broke it was Vannata who landed two heavy leg kicks, the second of which nearly took Green off his feet. After a brief clinch on the fence, where Green landed a solid elbow, Vannata landed a head kick.

Green survived it, but seconds later Vannata stunned Green and put him on the canvas. He went after him and landed ground-and-pound, but when Green tried to get up, with one of his knees still grounded, Vannata threw a big knee. He knew immediately it was illegal and referee Herb Dean stopped the fight.

Although the replays showed the knee didn’t land flush, it still was an illegal strike, and Dean took a point. On the restart, Vannata went after a guillotine choke, but Green fought out of it and with 75 seconds left they went back to work in the center of the cage. Vannata attacked Green’s lead leg down the stretch, then got a late takedown. But the point deduction turned a 10-9 round for Vannata into a 9-9.

Green landed a good left hand early in the second, but it was Vannata who made it look a little easier finding homes for his strikes. Green stayed in the fight with counters, but Vannata’s right was more effective. Even though it didn’t seem Green was landing heavy shots, Vannata was wearing the damage on his face from Green’s jabs. Midway through, Green pushed Vannata to the fence, but Vannata shrugged him off and dropped him to the canvas. Green got up quickly, but a scramble moments later had Vannata ready to take advantage.

Back on the feet, Vannata landed a huge right hand, then started pouring it on with Green’s hands down. With a minute left, they started slugging. Vannata landed a leg kick. Green landed a knee to the body. And they both were feeling the effects late in the frame.

The two kept trading in the third, and a takedown attempt from Vannata wasn’t there a minute in. Green made sure the cuts on Vannata’s face kept the blood flowing, touching him up just enough. Green caught Vannata a few more times midway through. But Vannata kept the offense flowing, as well. They slugged it out down the stretch, and it was Green who landed several huge combinations just before the horn. Vannata walked away still standing, but with the blood gushing.

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Beneil Dariush thought he had done enough to beat Evan Dunham at UFC 216

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LAS VEGAS – Beneil Dariush was hoping a big win at UFC 216 would help erase at least some of the memory of his most recent prior fight.

Instead, the lightweight found himself in classic kiss-your-sister territory thanks to a majority draw. Dariush (14-3-1 MMA, 8-3-1 UFC) and Evan Dunham (18-6-1 MMA, 11-6-1 UFC) settled for a draw to open up the main card on pay-per-view at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

“I felt like I won the fight,” Dariush told MMAjunkie afterward. “I felt like I was in control of the whole fight. The second round, I felt like I outlanded him with kicks. He had the takedown, but didn’t do any damage. … I’m just a little confused and hoping I’ll just get up and do this again.

“It was a good fight overall. Evan’s super tough, and he did a good job. I really felt like I had that. To say I lost the last two rounds is a tough pill for me to swallow, but I’ll respect the judges and go from there.”

Dariush had a big first round against Dunham and nearly finished him away. That led to a 10-8 frame from two of the judges. But because those same two judges gave Dunham the second and third rounds, much to Dariush’s chagrin, it turned the fight into a draw. (Dariush got the nod from the third judge.)

Dariush said if it’s a rematch his bosses want to see, he’ll do it. Or he’ll wait for whoever wants to call him out to take care of the matchmaking for him and the UFC.

“If the UFC puts that in front of me, I’ll take that. … I’ll step up to the plate no matter who calls me out,” he said. “There’s no animosity between Evan and I. It was a good fight, and that’s it.”

But what Dariush really was hoping for was a victory to help take some of the sting out of a knockout loss to Edson Barboza in March down in Brazil. Barboza took him out with a flying knee.

Dariush said a win over Dunham wouldn’t have handled that in full, though. So maybe that’s the fight he’s looking for next instead of thinking about running it back with Dunham.

“The Barboza fight is not something I’m looking to just get rid of (and) put away,” Dariush said. “I’m as disappointed as you can get with that fight. I’d like to keep that with me until I get to see Barboza again.”

For more from Dariush, check out the video above.

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

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Trading Shots: Is it time to abolish the draw in MMA?

UFC 216 had two different bouts end in draws, a rare occurrence that hasn’t happened since 1999. But is that a satisfying way for a fight to end, or should the UFC think about instituting some changes to make sure that someone ends up a winner? MMAjunkie columnist Ben Fowlkes joins retired WEC and UFC fighter Danny Downes to discuss.

Fowlkes: Who’d have guessed it, Danny? UFC 216 gave us not one but two draws on Saturday night in Las Vegas. That’s like seeing a shooting star on your drive home and then being so distracted by it that you hit a unicorn.

I can’t be mad at either result. Lando Vannata lost a point for an illegal knee, which was a penalty he deserved, so that threw the scorecards in his fight with Bobby Green out of whack. Then Beneil Dariush and Evan Dunham fought to a draw that also just felt right, considering how close the fight was.

I understand that a tie is an unsatisfying result in a lot of ways, but should MMA get a little more comfortable with the draw, or do we need to get rid of it altogether? Should we institute a “sudden victory” round in these matters? And how are promotions and rankings supposed to treat two guys who fought to a bloody stalemate? Do we just tell them both to move on and act like they kind of won, but kind of didn’t?

Downes: Get comfortable with draws? I bet you’re the Missoula hipster who calls NFL games “American Football.” Do all those soccer stars who write into your podcast send you those fancy scarves in the mail, too?

In all seriousness, I’m not opposed to draws per se, but I’m not exactly wild about them. I feel about them the way that the Griffin family felt about their vacation to purgatory. Especially in the Green/Vannata match, I understand why that was the result. but there’s no progression. What do you do with Green and Vannata? It was a great fight, but doing an immediate rematch does nothing for either fighter.

I don’t hate the draw result, but they aren’t necessary. Why not institute the “sudden victory” round? It seems to work fine on “The Ultimate Fighter.” Thanks to the beauty of editing, we don’t know how long the turnaround is between the judges’ decision and the extra round. If there’s a way to ensure there isn’t an extended lapse, what’s the issue?

At the end of the day, I’m sure it will come down to money. Fighters would obviously want some extra pay if they have to go an extra round, and promoters won’t want to pay it. There may be some other technical issues having to do with pacing or TV time, but those should be easily remedied.

What do you say Ben? Let’s abolish the draw!

Fowlkes: First of all, I’d love one of those scarves and now I’m mad no one’s sent me one. Second, instituting the sudden victory round shouldn’t be so hard.

The UFC makes you fight two extra rounds for the privilege of being the main event, which is another decision it made unilaterally without input from the fighters, so this shouldn’t be so different. The IFL did it, even if it almost never got to use it. The UFC had the provision for that flyweight title tournament, even if it was robbed of the chance to use it thanks to a screwup by officials. So clearly, it’s possible.

What I object to are the people who would rather have the judges close their eyes and pick a winner than admit that sometimes it really is too close to call. I don’t have a problem with judges who give out 10-10 rounds. I have much more of a problem with judges who see everything as a 10-9, as if there’s no difference between winning by a little and winning by a lot.

I recognize that draws create a problem for promoters who want to know who should move up and who should move down after every fight. I’d be all for an extra round to help figure it out. But after watching three awesome, bloody rounds between Vannata and Green, did anybody seriously feel disappointed by scorecards that refused to label one of them a loser?

Downes: Well what do you know? This is one of the few times you’ve seen reason and agree with the correct side (me).

I agree that the sudden victory would require some work, but it seems very plausible. It would be nice if the UFC and other organizations would negotiate with fighters, but they’ve mandated far more intrusive things in the past.

I also think the sudden victory format would improve judging. Instead of over-weighting takedowns or “octagon control,” an increase in 10-10 scoring could convince fighters to win a round more definitively. The strategy of waiting away a round and then trying to score some quick points in the final 30 seconds becomes much less beneficial under this format.

As far as your question about if anyone felt disappointed, you’re leading the witness by phrasing it that way. I don’t think anybody felt disappointed, but what if I asked, “did anybody seriously feel satisfied by scorecards that refused to label one of them a winner?” It would be the same answer.

Draws are the “meh” of decisions. Are they better than a decision which forces a winner? Sure, but being better than bad doesn’t necessarily make it something good.

It’s also worth noting that how a fight ends does have an effect on us, regardless of how much we enjoyed the match. It’s the same way that you can enjoy 90 percent of a movie, but if there’s a crappy ending, you end up hating the whole thing. I’m not saying that an increase in draws will make MMA fights into M. Night Shymalan films, but let’s not pretend they’re pleasant to see either.

Ben Fowlkes is MMAjunkie and USA TODAY’s MMA columnist. Danny Downes, a retired UFC and WEC fighter, is an MMAjunkie contributor who has also written for UFC.com and UFC 360. Follow them on twitter at @benfowlkesMMA and @dannyboydownes.

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Full UFC 216 salaries: New champ Tony Ferguson gets $500K of event's $2.1-million payout

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Newly crowned interim UFC lightweight champion Tony Ferguson was the top earner at Saturday’s UFC 216 event.

Ferguson (23-3 MMA, 13-1 UFC), who picked up a third-round submission victory over Kevin Lee (16-3 MMA, 9-3 UFC) in the headliner, earned a disclosed payout of $500,000 – $250,000 of which was a win bonus. Lee picked up $250,000, and if victorious, would have earned an extra $50,000 as a win bonus.

MMAjunkie obtained the list of disclosed payouts from the Nevada State Athletic Commission on fight night.

UFC 216 took place at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, and the main card aired on pay-per-view following prelims on FX and UFC Fight Pass.

Another top earner was flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson (27-2-1 MMA, 15-1-1 UFC), who notched a UFC-record 11th consecutive title defense with a nifty fifth-round tap-out of Ray Borg (11-3 MMA, 5-3 UFC) in the co-headliner. “Mighty Mouse” earned a flat rate of $370,000; Borg got $100,000 (and also wasn’t eligible for a win bonus).

The total disclosed payout for the event topped $2 million – $2,148,000, to be precise.

The full list of UFC 216 payouts included:

Tony Ferguson: $500,000 (includes $250,000 win bonus)
def. Kevin Lee: $250,000

Demetrious Johnson: $370,000 (no win bonus)
def. Ray Borg: $100,000

Fabricio Werdum: $400,000 (includes $125,000 win bonus)
def. Walt Harris: $28,000

Mara Romero Borella: $24,000 (includes $12,000 win bonus)
def. Kalindra Faria: $12,000

Beneil Dariush: $48,000*
vs. Evan Dunham: $40,000*

Cody Stamann: $24,000 (includes $12,000 win bonus)
def. Tom Duquesnoy: $23,000

Bobby Green: $24,000*
vs. Lando Vannata: $25,000*

Poliana Botelho: $20,000 (includes $10,000 win bonus)
def. Pearl Gonzalez: $10,000

Matt Schnell: $20,000 (includes $10,000 win bonus)
def. Marco Beltran: $14,000

John Moraga: $68,000 (includes $34,000 win bonus)
def. Magomed Bibulatov: $17,000

Brad Tavares: $74,000 (includes $37,000 win bonus)
def. Thales Leites: $57,000

* – Fight ended in a draw; no win bonuses given

Now, the usual disclaimer: The figures do not include deductions for items such as insurance, licenses and taxes. Additionally, the figures do not include money paid by sponsors, including the official UFC Athlete Outfitting sponsorship program pay. They also do not include any other “locker room” or special discretionary bonuses the UFC often pays. They also do not include pay-per-view cuts that some top-level fighters receive.

For example, as previously reported, UFC officials handed out additional $50,000 UFC 216 fight-night bonuses to Johnson and Moraga (“Performance of the Night”) and Green and Vannata (“Fight of the Night”).

In other words, the above figures are simply base salaries reported to the commission and do not reflect entire compensation packages for the event.

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

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UFC 216 Athlete Outfitting pay: Payout total 2nd highest of any 2017 event

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LAS VEGAS – Fighters from Saturday’s UFC 216 event took home UFC Athlete Outfitting pay, a program that launched after the UFC’s deal with Reebok, totaling $242,500.

UFC 216 took place at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, and the main card aired on pay-per-view following prelims on FX and UFC Fight Pass.

Leading the way was UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson (27-2-1 MMA, 15-1-1 UFC), who earned a maximum payout of $40,000 for a reigning titleholder. “Mighty Mouse” defeated Ray Borg (11-3 MMA, 5-3 UFC) in the event co-headliner.

The full UFC 216 UFC Athlete Outfitting payouts included:

Tony Ferguson: $30,000
def. Kevin Lee: $30,000

Demetrious Johnson: $40,000
def. Ray Borg: $30,000

Fabricio Werdum: $10,000
def. Walt Harris: $5,000

Mara Romero Borella: $2,500
def. Kalindra Faria: $2,500

Beneil Dariush: $10,000
vs. Evan Dunham: $15,000

Cody Stamann: $2,500
def. Tom Duquesnoy: $2,500

Lando Vannata: $2,500
vs. Bobby Green: $10,000

Poliana Botelho: $2,500
def. Pearl Gonzalez: $2,500

Matt Schnell: $2,500
def. Marco Beltran: $5,000

John Moraga: $10,000
def. Magomed Bibulatov: $2,500

Brad Tavares: $10,000
def. Thales Leites: $15,000

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: $4,492,500
2016 total: $7,138,000
2015 total: $3,185,000
Program-to-date total: $14,815,500

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

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Source: MMA Junkie

Fight Tracks: The walkout songs of UFC 216, including CCR, Skynyrd and Motley Crue

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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 216 in Las Vegas, went with as their backing tracks.

* * * *

Tony Ferguson def. Kevin Lee via submission (triangle choke) – Round 3, 4:02

Tony Ferguson: “The Party Has Just Begun” by Freestyle

Kevin Lee: “First Day Out” by Tee Grizzley

Demetrious Johnson def. Ray Borg via submission (armbar) – Round 5, 3:15

Demetrious Johnson: “Who Gon’ Stop Me” by Kanye West & Jay-Z

Ray Borg: “Shout at the Devil” by Motley Crue

Fabricio Werdum def. Walt Harris via submission (armbar) – Round 1, 1:05

Fabricio Werdum: “Hino do Gremio” by Banda Galera Campea

Walt Harris: “New Level” by A$AP Ferg feat. Future

Mara Romero Borella def. Kalindra Faria via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 1, 2:54

Mara Romero Borella: “Zoku (Japanese Drum)” by Kodo

Kalindra Faria: “Macaco Theme” by Pregador Luo

Evan Dunham vs. Beneil Dariush ruled a majority draw (28-29, 28-28, 28-28)

Evan Dunham: “Fortunate Son” by Credence Clearwater Revival

Beneil Dariush: “Broken Vessels (Amazing Grace)” by Hillsong United

Cody Stamann def. Tom Duquesnoy via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 30-27)

Cody Stamann: “Simple Man” by Lynyrd Skynyrd

Tom Duquesnoy: “Stronger” by Kanye West

Lando Vannata vs. Bobby Green declared a split draw (29-27, 27-29, 28-28)

Lando Vannata: “Let’s Groove” by Earth, Wind & Fire

Bobby Green: “I Wonder” by Kanye West

Poliana Botelho def. Pearl Gonzalez via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

Poliana Botelho: “Wild Thoughts” by DJ Khaled feat. Rihanna and Bryson Tiller

Pearl Gonzalez: “Bodak Yellow” by Cardi B

Matt Schnell def. Marco Beltran via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-27, 30-27)

Matt Schnell: “Dancing in the Moonlight” by King Harvest

Marco Beltran: “El Cameral” by Los Cojolites

John Moraga def. Magomed Bibulatov via knockout (punches) – Round 1, 1:38

John Moraga: “Thuggish Ruggish Bone” by Bone Thugs-N-Harmony

Magomed Bibulatov: “Rizavidi Ismailov”

N/A
Brad Tavares def. Thales Leites via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-26, 30-26)

Brad Tavares: “Tears” by Alborosie feat. Wendy Rene

Thales Leites: “Three Little Birds” by Bob Marley

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

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

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

UFC 216 results: Beneil Dariush strong early, but Evan Dunham rallies to force majority draw

It was a tale of two fights for Evan Dunham and Beneil Dariush, and the result was a majority draw.

Dariush (14-3-1 MMA, 8-3-1 UFC) had a big first round against Dunham (18-6-1 MMA, 11-6-1 UFC), and it resulted in a pair of 10-8 scores. So even though Dunham won the second two rounds from that same pair of judges, it only got him to a pair of 28-28 scores for the draw. A third judge gave the fight to Dariush, 29-28.

The lightweight bout opened up the main card of today’s UFC 216 event at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. It aired on pay-per-view following prelims on FX and UFC Fight Pass.

Dariush went to the center with Dunham circling left, then right, on the outside. Dunham swung hard with a right hand, but seconds later it was Dariush who landed a heavy leg kick. Dariush just missed with an uppercut on the inside 90 seconds in. They traded looping left hands, then Dariush hurt Dunham with a pair of big elbows along the fence. Dunham went to the canvas and was in serious trouble. He rolled to his back, but Dariush went with him and beat him up with ground-and-pound. Dariush wouldn’t let Dunham up and instead drilled him with a knee to the body. Dunham was in survival mode for the final two minutes, but in the final 25 seconds he got back to his feet and went on to see the next round.

Thirty seconds into the second, Dunham scored a takedown and started the process of working his way back after a first round he assuredly lost. Dariush got back to his feet, but Dunham kept after another takedown. Dariush managed to break away midway through the frame and they went back to the center. Dariush landed a solid leg kick to counter a Dunham left, and another followed seconds later. Dariush appeared to be weary late in the round, perhaps a result of all the energy he extended in the first trying to finish the resilient Dunham.

Dunham landed a high kick early in the third, then stung Dariush with a pair of punches. When Dariush pushed forward a minute in, Dunham clipped him with a perfect left. A good combo was there for Dunham not long after that. Dunham tied Dariush up for a while before Dariush broke away midway through. Both fighters looked wiped out down the stretch, though both were throwing. Dunham tried to show the judges his gas tank was better and kept after Dariush late.

Up-to-the-minute UFC 216 results include:

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

(MMAjunkie’s John Morgan and Simon Samano contributed to this report on site in Las Vegas.)

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Source: MMA Junkie

UFC vet Jon Tuck shares the secret to dumping massive weight in the bathroom

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Filed under: News, Radio Highlight, UFC

Beneil Dariush kicks off tonight’s UFC 216 pay-per-view main card, and Jon Tuck will be in his corner. The friendship has taught Tuck some tricks of the trade.

More specifically, Dariush (14-3 MMA, 8-3 UFC), who fights lightweight Evan Dunham (18-6 MMA, 11-6 UFC) at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, has shared some weight-cutting tips with Tuck.

Tuck, who flew more than 6,000 miles to get from his native Guam to Vegas for tonight’s big event and to corner his friend, learned what to do on fight week when some clogged pipes can hinder those often-brutal weight-cuts.

So, what’s the secret to get your system functioning correctly?

“Ah, man,” he told MMAjunkie Radio while guest-hosting the program. “It’s a secret, bro.”

It didn’t take much arm-twisting to get Tuck (10-4 MMA, 4-4 UFC), who scored a submission victory over Takanori Gomi in June, to finally give the goods.

“We just take tea, just the week of the fight,” he said. “If you’re cutting weight, sometimes it’s hard to use the restroom, because you’re all backed up. You’re dry, just running dry.”

In late 2016, Tuck took on Damien Brown in Australia. However, the fight came after an earlier fight camp for an ultimately canceled event in Philippines. Between the two camps and the travel and some run-of-the-mill bad luck with his body, Tuck found himself struggling to cut any substantial poundage. Considering he weighed 178 pounds – 22 pounds over the lightweight limit – a week before the bout, he knew he was in trouble.

But then he remembered Dariush’s suggestion of using green tea, which would supposedly kick his digestive system into gear.

And, it turns out, it worked.

“Man, I swear, if it was not six pounds, it was seven pounds I lost just by using the restroom,” he said. “I was like, ‘Hell yeah.’

“All (due to) tea, bro.”

For more on Tuck, Dariush’s fight and the inexact science of cutting weight, check out the video above.

And for more on UFC 216, 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: News, Radio Highlight, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

UFC 216 staff picks: Does anyone dare pick against all-time great Demetrious Johnson?

Ferguson
vs.
Lee
Johnson
vs.
Borg
Lewis
vs.
Werdum
Borella
vs.
Faria
Dariush
vs.
Dunham
MMAjunkie readers’
consensus picks
2017: 91-66
ferguson2017
Ferguson
(80%)
djohnson2017
Johnson
(90%)
werdum2017
Werdum
(62%)
borella2017
Borella
(59%)
dariush2017
Dariush
(78%)
Simon Samano
@SJSamano
2017: 100-57
klee2017
Lee
djohnson2017
Johnson
werdum2017
Werdum
faria2017
Faria
dunham2017
Dunham
Dann Stupp
@DannStupp
2017: 100-57
trophy copy 2015 Champion
ferguson2017
Ferguson
djohnson2017
Johnson
werdum2017
Werdum
faria2017
Faria
dariush2017
Dariush
Ben Fowlkes @BenFowlkesMMA
2017: 98-59
trophy copy 2016 Champion
ferguson2017
Ferguson
djohnson2017
Johnson
dlewis2017
Lewis
faria2017
Faria
dariush2017
Dariush
Steven Marrocco @MMAjunkieSteven
2017: 97-60
ferguson2017
Ferguson
djohnson2017
Johnson
werdum2017
Werdum
faria2017
Faria
dariush2017
Dariush
Brian Garcia
@thegoze
2017: 96-61
klee2017
Lee
djohnson2017
Johnson
dlewis2017
Lewis
faria2017
Faria
dariush2017
Dariush
Fernanda Prates @nandaprates_
2017: 93-64
ferguson2017
Ferguson
djohnson2017
Johnson
werdum2017
Werdum
faria2017
Faria
dariush2017
Dariush
John Morgan @MMAjunkieJohn
2017: 91-66
ferguson2017
Ferguson
djohnson2017
Johnson
dlewis2017
Lewis
faria2017
Faria
dariush2017
Dariush
George Garcia @MMAjunkieGeorge
2017: 90-67
klee2017
Lee
djohnson2017
Johnson
dlewis2017
Lewis
faria2017
Faria
dariush2017
Dariush
Mike Bohn @MikeBohnMMA
2017: 90-67
trophy copy 2014 Champion
ferguson2017
Ferguson
djohnson2017
Johnson
werdum2017
Werdum
faria2017
Faria
dariush2017
Dariush
Matt Erickson @MMAjunkieMatt
2017: 90-67
ferguson2017
Ferguson
djohnson2017
Johnson
dlewis2017
Lewis
borella2017
Borella
dunham2017
Dunham

The UFC returns to its Las Vegas home base this week, and a pair of titles are on the line.

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

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

In the main event, Tony Ferguson (23-3 MMA, 13-1 UFC) and Kevin Lee (16-2 MMA, 9-2 UFC) fight for an interim lightweight title and the chance to potentially move on to a title unification bout against Conor McGregor. Ferguson is about a 2-1 favorite, and he’s the pick of seven of our 10 MMAjunkie editors, writers and radio hosts.

In the co-feature, dominant flyweight champ Demetrious Johnson (26-2-1 MMA, 14-1-1 UFC) takes on challenger Ray Borg (11-2 MMA, 5-2 UFC) in a fight delayed from UFC 215. Johnson is a 12-1 favorite, and to little surprise he’s the lone unanimous pick on this week’s card.

Also on the main card, Derrick Lewis (18-5 MMA, 9-3 UFC) takes on former heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum (21-7-1 MMA, 9-4 UFC). And even though Lewis is a 2-1 favorite, the fight is split down the middle at 5-5 with our pickers. Mara Romero Borella (11-4 MMA, 0-0 UFC) and Kalindra Faria (18-5-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC) are a pair of promotional newcomers fighting at strawweight. Faria is a 2-1 favorite, and only one of our 10 pickers has the courage to go against her with the underdog.

And to open the main card, Beneil Dariush (14-3 MMA, 8-3 UFC) meets Evan Dunham (18-6 MMA, 11-6 UFC) at lightweight. It’s a runaway for Dariush, who is an 8-2 pick over Dunham.

In the MMAjunkie reader consensus picks, Ferguson, Johnson, Werdum, Borella and Dariush are the choices.

Check out all the picks above.

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

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

10 reasons to watch UFC 216, including Demetrious Johnson’s 1,841-day title reign

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Filed under: Featured, News, UFC

The UFC is back in its hometown of Las Vegas for the first time in three months for UFC 216. Two title fights sit atop Saturday’s event.

In the headlining bout, highly ranked competitors Tony Ferguson and Kevin Lee meet to determine the interim lightweight champion – and hopefully earn a shot at current lightweight kingpin Conor McGregor. No one’s sure what’s next on McGregor’s dance card, but you can bet the winner of this fight will have some choice words for the man who has yet to defend the title he won in November.

In the co-main event, the only flyweight champion in UFC history, Demetrious Johnson, looks to make his record-breaking 11th consecutive UFC title defense. Ray Borg is the man who hopes to put an end to Johnson’s 1,841-day title reign.

UFC 216 takes at T-Mobile Arena. The main card airs on pay-per-view following prelims on FX and UFC Fight Pass.

Here are 10 reasons to watch the event.

1. Settle those differences

Tony Ferguson and Kevin Lee

The sniping between Ferguson and Lee started in June, and it hasn’t let up since. Shortly after Lee submitted Michael Chiesa via rear-naked choke, Ferguson, working as a commentator for FS1 that night, asked Lee a question he didn’t appreciate. That launched a verbal back-and-forth between the two.

That feud culminates in the main event of UFC 216 with the victor leaving Las Vegas as the interim 155-pound champion.

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Ferguson, the No. 3 in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA lightweight rankings, has been itching for a title fight for a while. His nine-fight winning streak, the longest in UFC lightweight history, and five consecutive fight-night bonuses say he’s earned his shot.

Lee (16-2 MMA, 9-2 UFC), ranked No. 8, wasn’t the UFC’s first choice to face Ferguson, but his five-fight winning streak, two fight-night bonuses and beef with Ferguson (22-3 MMA, 12-1 UFC) earned him his shot.

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2. Find the flaw

Johnson captured the flyweight title on Sept. 12, 2012. One month earlier, Borg competed in his first professional MMA fight. That means Borg (11-2 MMA, 5-2 UFC) has effectively spent his entire career training and preparing to beat one man: Johnson (26-2-1 MMA, 14-1-1 UFC).

You would think the ability to focus on a single opponent for several years would give Johnson’s challengers an advantage. It hasn’t. The most recent contender who turned pro around the time Johnson became champion was Henry Cejudo, who had more than three years to prepare for Johnson. When the two met in April 2016, the champ claimed a TKO victory in the middle of the second round.

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Borg, the No. 5-ranked flyweight, has had five years to try to find one flaw he can exploit, one way to succeed where previous title contenders failed. If he does it, he can keep Johnson from taking sole possession of the UFC’s most prestigious record.

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3. Keep off the ground

After briefly contemplating retirement following his June loss to Mark Hunt, Derrick Lewis returns to the octagon at UFC 216. Lewis, ranked No. 12 in the heavyweight division, faces No. 3-ranked Fabricio Werdum, who enters this contest on the heels of a July loss to Alistair Overeem.

This fight could put Lewis (18-5 MMA, 9-3 UFC) to the test. Werdum (21-7-1 MMA, 9-4 UFC) is arguably the most dangerous ground fighter in the division. If Lewis, a heavy-handed striker, drops Werdum and follows him to the mat, he could find himself in deep waters. What makes things even trickier is Werdum sometimes exaggerates strikes and falls to the mat to get his opponent inside his guard.

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With champion Stipe Moicic without a fight due to a contract impasse, a dominant win could put the victor in the mix for a title shot when Miocic returns.

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4. Looking for breakthrough

In September, Evan Dunham won his fourth straight fight. The last time he had a UFC winning streak that long was more than seven years ago, when he was victorious in his first four bouts with the promotion.

Dunham faces No. 1-ranked lightweight Beneil Dariush, an opponent Dunham expressed interest in fighting when he spoke to MMAjunkie Radio in June.

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Dunham, known for his ground game, has developed his striking over the past few years. During his current winning streak, he’s has out-landed his opponents in significant strikes 449-163.

If Dunham (18-6 MMA, 11-6 UFC) scores a win against Dariush (14-3 MMA, 8-3 UFC), who enters this fight following a loss to contender Edson Barboza, he’s likely to break into the rankings post-UFC 216.

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5. Second act

Tom Duquesnoy

Tom Duquesnoy didn’t disappoint in his UFC debut. The former two-division BAMMA champion knocked out Patrick Williams early in the second round with a crisp elbow. The bantamweight victory extended Duquesnoy’s unbeaten streak to 12.

After the fight, Duquesnoy said, “Step by step, I will do everything to get the belt as soon as possible.”

Duquesnoy (15-1 MMA, 1-0 UFC) jumps to featherweight for his second UFC fight. His opponent, Cody Stamann, also won his most recent fight. Stamann (15-1 MMA, 1-0 UFC) defeated Terrion Ware by decision – his eighth straight.

This could be a fun striking battle. Both fighters landed more than six significant strikes per minute in their UFC debuts.

6. Former champ looks for break

Will Brooks

When former Bellator lightweight champion Will Brooks signed with the UFC, he was ranked No. 11 in the division and on an eight-fight winning streak. After his hand was raised in his promotional debut, Brooks climbed to No. 10. Today, he is unranked.

The reason for the former champ’s precipitous slide? He lost his two most recent fights by stoppage. Brooks was more than a 3-1 favorite in each of those contests – to Alex Oliveira and Charles Oliveira.

When he signed with the UFC, Brooks told MMAjunkie, “I believe I have everything it takes to be a UFC lightweight champion.”

Brooks (18-3 MMA, 1-2 UFC) hasn’t looked especially competitive in either of his UFC losses. He doesn’t get a break at UFC 216, where he faces the gritty and always competitive Nik Lentz (27-8-2 MMA, 11-5-1 UFC), who lost his most recent fight via decision.

If Brooks has any hopes of working his way back into the mix, he needs a definitive win here.

7. Collecting more bonuses than wins

Lando Vannata

Lando Vannata has been better at collecting fans and fight-night bonuses than he’s been at winning fights during his three-fight UFC run. The Jackson-Wink MMA fighter is 1-2 with the promotion, but he’s earned a fight-night bonus check in each of those contests.

Vannata is one of the more exciting fighters to join the UFC in the last year or so. He employs an aggressive and flashy striking style that finds him landing as many power strikes as he absorbs. Vannata expends a lot of energy, and as his fights progress, he tends to fade. That allows his opponents to find their target with more accuracy over time.

Vannata (9-2 MMA, 1-2 UFC) faces Bobby Green in this lightweight bout. Green (23-8 MMA, 4-3 UFC) was on a roll for a few years, running up eight straight wins between September 2011 and July 2014. But he’s fought only three times since then, and he’s lost each of those matchups.

8. Long wait comes to end

Poliana Botelho (photo by Anchell Fotografia)

The UFC signed Poliana Botelho in mid-2016. An injury prevented the former XFC flyweight champion from making her scheduled promotional debut at UFC 206.

In Botelho’s (5-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC) first fight in more than two years, she faces Pearl Gonzalez (6-2 MMA, 0-1 UFC) in a strawweight scrap.

Botelho, a member of Nova Uniao, is a powerful striker. She isn’t particularly aggressive in the open, but when she traps her opponent against the cage, she unleashes wild combinations. All of Botelho’s wins have come by knockout. Her only loss is a five-round decision defeat to No. 13-ranked Viviane Pereira.

Cynthia Calvillo submitted Gonzalez in the third round of her UFC debut. The loss ended her six-fight winning streak.

9. A rising star with some baggage

Magomed Bibulatov

If you’re looking for a non-ranked flyweight to keep an eye on, Magomed Bibulatov might be your guy. In his UFC debut, the former WSOF flyweight champion showed an excellent array of striking techniques, good takedowns and a strong top game on his way to a dominant decision win over Jenel Lausa.

At UFC 216, Bibulatov (14-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC) looks to move into the rankings at the expense of No. 11-ranked John Moraga (17-6 MMA, 6-5 UFC), who ended a three-fight losing skid with a decision win over Ashkan Mokhtarian in his most recent bout. The victory was the first since 2014 for the former title challenger.

Bibulatov does carry some baggage. In his UFC.com profile, he lists Ramzan Kadyrov, the controversial leader of the Chechen Republic, as his “hero.” He also told “The Buffalo News” that he “supports Ramzan fully.”

10. Keep your distance

Thales Leites

You can look at Thales Leites’ most recent fight, a decision win over Sam Alvey, as safe or smart. Against the powerful counterstriker, Leites relied heavily on leg kicks. That strategy worked well. The former middleweight title contender landed almost 90 percent of his leg strikes, which allowed him to rack up points while avoiding Alvey’s counters.

No. 13-ranked Leites might be wise to employ a similar tactical approach against rankings honorable mention Brad Tavares, who is a bit more active than Leites on the feet. Another reason Leites (27-7 MMA, 12-6 UFC) might use his leg kicks is Tavares (13-2 MMA, 5-2 UFC) has good takedown defense, which could negate Leites ground advantage. Tavares has wins in his two most recent fights.

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

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