Jake Matthews announces return to welterweight for fight vs. Bojan Velickovic at UFC-Sydney

Jake Matthews will fight in front of his home fans again, and he’ll do so in his original weight class.

Matthews (10-3 MMA, 4-3 UFC) will move back up to welterweight to fight Bojan Velickovic (15-5-1 MMA, 2-2-1 UFC) at UFC Fight Night 121 next month. The Australian announced his move from lightweight and the fight booking to Australia’s Herald Sun. The UFC has not yet made a formal announcement of the booking.

UFC Fight Night 121 takes place Nov. 18 at Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney. The event airs on FS1 following early prelims on UFC Fight Pass.

Matthews started his career at welterweight for his first six fights, all of which came in his native Australia. But he dropped to lightweight for an opportunity to sign with the UFC, where he won four of his first five fights with the promotion – all by stoppage.

But in July 2016 at the TUF 23 Finale, he was stopped with a first-round TKO by Kevin Lee, and later that year, in November, he dropped a split decision to Andrew Holbrook, who was the biggest underdog at UFC Fight Night 101, giving him the first losing skid of his career. When he steps in the cage against Velickovic, it will be his first fight in a year.

Bojan Velickovic

Velickovic will try to get back on track after a decision loss to Darren Till in September in the Netherlands. That erased the good memory of a bonus-winning knockout of Nico Musoke in Sweden in May, which was his first win in more than a year.

The latest UFC Fight Night 121 card includes:

  • Fabricio Werdum vs. Marcin Tybura
  • Joanne Calderwood vs. Bec Rawlings
  • Tim Means vs. Belal Muhammad
  • Daniel Kelly vs. Elias Theodorou
  • Humberto Bandenay vs. Alex Volkanovski
  • Ryan Benoit vs. Ashkan Mokhtarian
  • Jenel Lausa vs. Eric Shelton
  • Alex Chambers vs. Nadia Kassem
  • Rashad Coulter vs. Tai Tuivasa
  • Jake Matthews vs. Bojan Velickovic

For more on UFC Fight Night 121, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

Fight Tracks: The walkout songs of UFC Fight Night 115, including multiple Eminem selections

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

See what the fighters of Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 115 in Rotterdam, Netherlands, went with as their backing tracks.

* * * *

Alexander Volkov def. Stefan Struve via TKO (punches) – Round 3, 3:30

Alexander Volkov: “Mother Winter” by 25/17

Stefan Struve: “He’s a Pirate (Tiesto Remix)” by Klaus BadeIt

Siyar Bahadurzada def. Rob Wilkinson via TKO (punches) – Round 2, 3:10

Siyar Bahadurzada: “All The Way” by Fat Joe

Rob Wilkinson: “Wrist” by Logic feat. Pusha T

Marion Reneau def. Talita de Oliveira via TKO (punches) – Round 3, 4:54

Marion Reneau: “X Rated” by Excision

Talita Oliveira: “Bate Pesadao” by Pregador Luo

Leon Edwards def. Bryan Barberena via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)

Leon Edwards: “1942 Flows” by Meek Mill

Bryan Barberena: “Outsiders” by Eric Church

Darren Till def. Bojan Velickovic via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

Darren Till: “In the Air Tonight” by Phil Collins

Bojan Velickovic: “Run This Town” by Jay-Z feat. Rihanna

Mairbek Taisumov def. Felipe Silva via knockout (punch) – Round 1, 1:24

Mairbek Taisumov: “Kunta Mayan” by Nasheed

Felipe Silva: “Burning Heart” by Survivor


Michel Prazeres def. Mads Burnell via submission (north-south choke) – Round 3, 1:26

Michel Prazeres: “Nego Drama (Ao Vivo)” by Racionais MC’s

Mads Burnell: “B.M.F.” by Rick Ross feat. Styles P

Rustam Khabilov def. Desmond Green via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)

Rustam Khabilov: “Extreme Ways” by Moby

Desmond Green: “Last Breathe” by Future

Aleksandar Rakic def. Francimar Barroso via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

Aleksandar Rakic: “Ready for War” by 50 Cent

Francimar Barroso: “Go To Sleep” by Eminem

Zabit Magomedsharipov def. Mike Santiago via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 2, 4:22

Zabit Magomedsharipov: “Era” by Enea Volare Mezzo

Mike Santiago: “Bantering” by Skrillex

Abdul-Kerim Edilov def. Bojan Mihajlovic via TKO (strikes) – Round 2, 2:32

Abdul-Kerim Edilov: “Forward Ahmat” by Rizavdi Ismailov

N/A

Bojan Mihajlovic: “Love My Life” by Robbie Williams

Thibault Gouti def. Andrew Holbrook via TKO (strikes) – Round 1, 4:28

Thibault Gouti: “Without Me” by Eminem

Andrew Holbrook: “Let’s Go (Ricky Luna Remix)” by Yelawolf & Busta Rhymes

For complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 115, 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 Fight Night 115 post-event facts: A late finish, a KO streak, a rare sub and more

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The UFC’s return to the Netherlands was a hit on Saturday with UFC Fight Night 115, which took place at Ahoy Rotterdam and streamed on UFC Fight Pass.

Alexander Volkov (29-6 MMA, 3-0 UFC) capped off a card that featured eight stoppages in 12 fights when he put away Stefan Struve (28-9 MMA, 12-7 UFC) with a third-round TKO to move further up the UFC heavyweight ranks.

Volkov was one of multiple fighters who earned a big finish at an event with some worthwhile footnotes. For more on the numbers behind the first of four UFC events in September, check below for 50 post-event facts about UFC Fight Night 115.

* * * *

General

Alexander Volkov

The UFC-Reebok Athlete Outfitting payout for the event totaled $90,000.

Debuting fighters went 3-4 at the event.

Volkov, Struve, Mairbek Taisumov and Zabit Magomedsharipov earned $50,000 UFC Fight Night 115 fight-night bonuses.

UFC Fight Night 115 drew an announced attendance of 10,224 for an estimated live gate of $900,000.

Betting favorites went 11-1 on the card.

Total fight time for the 12-bout card was 2:10:46.

Main card

Alexander Volkov

Volkov’s three-fight UFC winning streak in heavyweight competition is tied for the third longest active streak in the division behind champ Stipe Miocic (five) and Francis Ngannou (five).

Volkov is 5-0 since his final Bellator bout in June 2015.

Volkov has earned 22 of his 29 career victories by stoppage.

Struve fell to 1-1 in UFC main events.

Struve has suffered all six of his UFC stoppage losses by knockout.

Struve’s six fight-night bonuses for UFC heavyweight fights are tied for fourth most in divisional history behind Miocic (eight), Mark Hunt (seven) and Travis Browne (seven).

Siyar Bahadurzada

Siyar Bahadurzada (23-6-1 MMA, 3-2 UFC) earned consecutive victories for the first time in his UFC career.

Bahadurzada has earned six of his past seven victories by knockout.

Rob Wilkinson (11-1 MMA, 0-1 UFC) had his 11-fight winning streak snapped for the first defeat of his career.

Marion Reneau (8-3-1 MMA, 4-2-1 UFC), 40, became the oldest female fighter to earn a UFC victory.

Reneau has earned seven of her eight career victories by stoppage.

Reneau’s victory at the 4:54 mark of Round 3 marked the latest stoppage in a three-round UFC women’s bantamweight fight.

Talita Oliveira (5-2 MMA, 0-1 UFC) suffered the first knockout loss of her career.

Leon Edwards

Leon Edwards’ (14-3 MMA, 6-2 UFC) four-fight UFC winning streak in welterweight competition is tied with Santiago Ponzinibbio and Colby Covington for the second longest active streak in the division behind Kamaru Usman (five).

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

Bryan Barberena (13-5 MMA, 4-3 UFC) fell to 3-2 since he moved up to the UFC welterweight division in January 2016.

Barberena has suffered all three of his UFC losses by decision.

Preliminary card

Darren Till

Darren Till’s (15-0-1 MMA, 3-0-1 UFC) 16-fight undefeated streak in MMA competition is tied for fifth longest among active UFC fighters behind Khabib Nurmagomedov (24), Jimmie Rivera (20), Cris Cyborg (19) and Justin Gaethje (18).

Bojan Velickovic (15-4-1 MMA, 2-2-1 UFC) fell to 1-2-1 since he dropped to the UFC welterweight division in July 2016.

Velickovic has suffered all five of his career losses by decision.

Taisumov’s (26-5 MMA, 6-1 UFC) five-fight UFC winning streak in lightweight competition is tied for the third longest active streak in the division behind Tony Ferguson (nine) and Khabib Nurmagomedov (seven).

Taisumov has earned 24 of his 26 career victories by stoppage. That includes five of his six wins under the UFC banner.

Taisumov became the first lightweight in UFC history to earn five consecutive knockout victories.

Taisumov’s five-fight UFC stoppage streak is tied with Francis Ngannou and Miocic for longest among active fighters in the organization.

Taisumov’s five-fight UFC knockout streak is tied for second longest in UFC history behind Chuck Liddell (seven).

Taisumov’s five knockout victories in UFC lightweight competition are tied for fourth most in divisional history behind Melvin Guillard (seven), Edson Barboza (six) and B.J. Penn (six).

Felipe Silva (8-1 MMA, 1-1 UFC) had his eight-fight winning streak snapped for the first defeat of his career.

Michel Prazeres

Michel Prazeres’ (23-2 MMA, 7-2 UFC) five-fight UFC winning streak in lightweight competition is tied for the third longest active streak in the division behind Ferguson (nine) and Nurmagomedov (seven).

Prazeres became the first fighter in UFC history to earn two north-south choke submission victories. He has two of the five such finishes overall in UFC history.

Prazeres has completed 35 takedowns in his nine UFC appearances. He’s landed at least one takedown against all nine of his UFC opponents.

Mads Burnell (8-2 MMA, 0-1 UFC) suffered the first submission loss of his career.

Rustam Khabilov

Rustam Khabilov’s (22-3 MMA, 8-2 UFC) five-fight UFC winning streak in lightweight competition is tied for the third longest active streak in the division behind Ferguson (nine) and Nurmagomedov (seven).

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

Aleksandar Rakic (9-1 MMA, 1-0 UFC) extended his winning streak to nine fights. He hasn’t suffered a defeat since his MMA debut in October 2011.

Rakic earned the first decision victory of his career.

Zabit Magomedsharipov

Magomedsharipov (13-1 MMA, 1-0 UFC) extended his winning streak to nine fights. He hans’t suffered a defeat since April 2013.

Magomedsharipov has earned 11 of his 13 career victories by stoppage.

Mike Santiago (19-10 MMA, 0-1 UFC) had his nine-fight winning streak snapped for his first defeat since January 2014.

Santiago has suffered nine of his 10 carer losses by stoppage. Eight of those defeats have come by submission.

Abdul-Kerim Edilov

Abdul-Kerim Edilov (17-4 MMA, 1-0 UFC) extended his career-high winning streak to 11 fights. He hasn’t suffered a defeat since April 2013.

Edilov has earned 16 of his 17 career victories by stoppage.

Edilov out-landed his opponent 77-1 in significant strikes.

Bojan Mihajlovic (10-6 MMA, 0-3 UFC) has suffered all three of his UFC losses by knockout.

Thibault Gouti

Thibault Gouti (12-3 MMA, 1-3 UFC) snapped his three-fight losing skid for his first victory since November 2015.

Gouti has earned 10 of his 12 career victories by stoppage.

Andrew Holbrook (12-3 MMA, 2-3 UFC) has suffered all three of his career losses by knockout.

For complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 115, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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

Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

UFC-Rotterdam Athlete Outfitting pay: Stefan Struve tops payout scale despite loss

Fighters from Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 113 event took home UFC Athlete Outfitting pay, a program that launched after the UFC’s deal with Reebok, totaling $90,000.

UFC Fight Night 115 took place at Ahoy Rotterdam in the Netherlands. The card streamed on UFC Fight Pass.

Leading the way was headliner Stefan Struve (28-9 MMA, 12-7 UFC), who received $15,000 for his 19th UFC appearance, which was a third-round TKO loss to Alexander Volkov (29-6 MMA, 3-0 UFC).

The full UFC Fight Night 115 UFC Athlete Outfitting payouts included:

Alexander Volkov: $2,500
def. Stefan Struve: $15,000

Siyar Bahadurzada: $2,500
def. Rob Wilkinson: $2,500

Marion Reneau: $5,000
def. Talita Oliveira: $2,500

Leon Edwards: $5,000
def. Bryan Barberena: $5,000

Darren Till: $2,500
def. Bojan Velickovic: $2,500

Mairbek Taisumov: $5,000
def. Felipe Silva: $2,500

Michel Prazeres: $5,000
def. Mads Burnell: $2,500

Rustam Khabilov: $5,000
def. Desmond Green: $2,500

Aleksandar Rakic: $2,500
def. Francimar Barroso: $5,000

Zabit Magomedsharipov: $2,500
def. Mike Santiago: $2,500

Abdul-Kerim Edilov: $2,500
def. Bojan Mihajlovic: $2,500

Thibault Gouti: $2,500
def. Andrew Holbrook: $2,500

Under the UFC Athlete Outfitting program’s payout tiers, which appropriate the money generated by Reebok’s multi-year sponsorship with the UFC, fighters are paid based on their total number of UFC bouts, as well as Zuffa-era WEC fights (January 2007 and later) and Zuffa-era Strikeforce bouts (April 2011 and later). Fighters with 1-5 bouts receive $2,500 per appearance; 6-10 bouts get $5,000; 11-15 bouts earn $10,000; 16-20 bouts pocket $15,000; and 21 bouts and more get $20,000. Additionally, champions earn $40,000 while title challengers get $30,000.

In addition to experience-based pay, UFC fighters will receive in perpetuity royalty payments amounting to 20-30 percent of any UFC merchandise sold that bears their likeness, according to officials.

Full 2017 UFC-Reebok sponsorship payouts:

Year-to-date total: $3,865,000
2016 total: $7,138,000
2015 total: $3,185,000
Program-to-date total: $14,188,000

For complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 115, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

UFC-Rotterdam results: Darren Till strikes, showboats his way past Bojan Velickovic in crowd pleaser

English welterweight Darren Till remained unbeaten as a professional, flashing his confidence and creativity in an exciting decision win over Bojan Velickovic.

The welterweight bout closed out the prelims of Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 115 event, which streamed live on UFC Fight Pass from Ahoy Rotterdam in the Netherlands.

The two strikers met in the center at the start, each looking to strike from the southpaw stance. Low kicks were the best shots for both men to start, and Till was immediately showboating with his dropped hands and disapproving head nods. A devastating step-in elbow came next, sending Velickovic to the floor, and Till jumped on top to finish. Somehow, Velickovic cleared his head, taking advantage of Till’s pause to complain of an illegally held glove to recover and eventually crawl to his feet.

With blood streaming down the right side of his face, Velickovic tried to find a few strikes of his own, but Till confidently waded forward, looking to score another thunderous blow. Both men played to the crowd at the close of the first, but it was clear who was in control.

Till came out with a snapping jab to start the second, and Velickovic answered with a few strong kicks to the leg before shooting from range for takedowns. Till easily pushed the efforts aside, shoving Velickovic to the floor and taking top position. Velickovic tried to hammerfist from the bottom, and Till simply smiled as he absorbed the blows, much to the crowd’s delight.

The two eventually scrambled to the feet, where Till continued to look incredibly relaxed while looking to attack. Velickovic’s best responses remained to Till’s lead leg, which was purple and swollen at the bell.

Velickovic continued to look for a takedown as third began but never really came close to success. Meanwhile, Till’s pace never seemed one of true urgency, but his measured attacks remained on point. Velickovic’s work started to mark up his opponent before a Till left again sent his opponent wobbling to the floor. Till jumped on top but backed away as soon as Velickovic tried to slow things down, again thrilling the crowd. Velickovic never planned to back down, hopping up and trading shots on the feet until the end.

Till (15-0-1 MMA, 3-0-1 UFC) now has two straight wins since his lone professional blemish, a draw with Nicolas Dalby, while Velickovic (15-5-1 MMA, 2-2-1 UFC) falls to 11-2 in his past three appearances.

Up-to-the-minute UFC Fight Night 115 results include:

For complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 115, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

In-depth main-card breakdown: 'UFC Fight Night 115: Volkov vs. Struve'

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Filed under: News, UFC

MMAjunkie Radio cohost and MMAjunkie contributor Dan Tom provides an in-depth breakdown of all of Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 115 main-card bouts.

UFC Fight Night 115 takes place at Ahoy Rotterdam in the Netherlands, and the entire event streams on UFC Fight Pass.

* * * *

Alexander Volkov (28-6 MMA, 2-0 UFC)

Alexander Volkov

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’7″ Age: 28 Weight: 245 Reach: 80″
  • Last fight: Decision win over Roy Nelson (April 15, 2017)
  • Camp: Strela Team (Russia)
  • Stance/striking style: Orthodox/kickboxing
  • Risk management: Good

Supplemental info:
+ M-1 heavyweight champion
+ Bellator tournament winner
+ Kyokushin karate brown belt
+ 18 KO victories
+ 3 submission wins
+ 15 first round finishes
+ Accurate right hand
^ Coming forward and off the counter
+ Well-balanced attack/combinations
^ Often punctuates off of left side
+ Deceptively effective knees
+ Improved wrestling ability
+ Competent grappling ability
– Traditionally struggles from bottom

Stefan Struve (28-8 MMA, 12-6 UFC)

Stefan Struve

Staple info:

  • Height: 7’0″ Age: 29 Weight: 265 lbs. Reach: 84″
  • Last fight: Submission win over Daniel Omielanczuk (Oct. 8, 2016)
  • Camp: Combat Club (Florida)
  • Stance/striking style: Orthodox/Kickboxing
  • Risk management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+ Regional MMA title
+ 8 KO victories
+ 17 submission wins
+ Hard leg kicks and teeps
+ Accurate right hand
+ Improved takedown defense
^ Off the cage and in the clinch
+ Strikes well off of the breaks
+ Floats/scrambles well on top
^ Dangerous from front-headlock
+ Deceptive guard game
^ Favors triangle-choke setups
– Traditionally takes damage

Summary: Rotterdam’s main event is a heavyweight showdown between two of the tallest competitors in the organization as Alexander Volkov meets Stefan Struve.

A prospect who came up fighting for promotions such as M-1 and Bellator, Volkov now finds himself headlining his first UFC show in what will be his third appearance under the promotion’s banner. Standing in Volkov’s way is no easy task as the Russian steps behind enemy lines to face Struve.

A native of the Netherlands, Struve has since moved shop to South Florida to train under the care of Henri Hooft. Appearing to be in a mid-career renaissance after a rough couple of years, Struve has set his sights on the title; a win over a higher-ranked opponent would certainly help his case.

Starting off on the feet, we essentially have a battle between a diverse kickboxer and Dutch-style Thai boxer.

Coming from a karate background that emphasizes more on the sparring and sporting aspects (Kyokushin and Tsu Shin Gen), Volkov has done an excellent job of building a kickboxing game for MMA.

Taking more of a squared stance than traditional martial artists tend to do, Volkov opens up his offensive options from both sides as he still carries the in-and-out abilities typically associated with karate fighters. A diverse striker who is effective coming forward and off of the counter, Volkov will likely need to do both against his tallest test to date.

Coming in at 7-feet tall and tying Jon Jones for the longest reach at 84.5 inches, Struve comes in with a lot to like on paper. At his best, we have seen the Dutchman put his punches and kicks together seamlessly as he is still the only man to date who has stopped current champ Stipe Miocic.

Capable of hitting intercepting knees and punches off of the counter, Struve seems to do his best work when coming forward, something I suspect he will need to do to be victorious in this matchup. However, despite Struve’s reach and other on-paper advantages, he traditionally takes damage since defense has long been the Dutchman’s criticism.

Should Struve not show improvements to his head movement or overall defensive awareness, then he may be subject to the right hands of Volkov as the Russian is competent with it both coming forward or countering.

Where this fight’s momentum has the most potential of being shifted, is whenever these two hit the floor.

Although Volkov appears to be a competent purple belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, he’s arguably too comfortable fighting off of his back. Opponents who have implemented a top-heavy pursuit have typically succeeded in grappling stanzas with the Russian, or at the very least, earned enough control time to win the round.

Against Struve, Volkov faces – in my opinion – a more talented grappler in almost every phase. Despite being associated with the high-risk guard pulling and submissions he would hit early on in his career, the depth of the Dutchman’s ground game has grown even further in recent years.

Improving his wrestling and takedown defense in close spaces, Struve has shown to work well from a front headlock whether he’s setting up chokes or floating to the back. Although Volkov has also demonstrated steady improvements to his wrestling abilities and get-up game, I suspect the Russian may draw the short straw in stanzas should he get sucked into Struve’s world for long.

Heavyweight intangibles aside, this is a close fight on paper no matter how you cut it. I suggest strong caution to any gamblers looking to play this one. That said, I cannot blame the oddsmakers for opening Volkov as a slight favorite over Struve.

Even though his conservativeness on the floor forces more questions than answers, the Russian is arguably more efficient on the feet. From his accuracy and output to his overall shot selection, Volkov’s slow-burn style could serve him well on the scorecards if he gets going in a five-round affair.

But, lest we forget, Struve is no slouch in the standing department either. This recent iteration of the “Skyscraper” may end up being Volkov’s stiffest striking test to date. When feeling in stride, Struve has shown strike well in and out of breaks as he looks to land uppercuts opportunistically –– something that has traditionally troubled Volkov.

And regardless of neither man being known to shoot a double-leg, Struve has shown time and time-again that he’s only a clinch transition away from changing the terms of a fight. Ultimately, I will be siding with the fighter who I feel has more weapons to win the battle, and I see Struve making a statement by scoring a submission before the final horn.

Official pick: Struve inside the distance

Official outcome: To be determined

Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

10 reasons to watch UFC Fight Night 115, where it's not just about 2 tall dudes

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The UFC’s summer break is over. After nearly a month off, the promotion heads to the Netherlands for Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 115 event. While this show might be light on big-name star power, it does feature some intriguing fights that should have fans tuning in at the start of the prelims.

In the main event, Stefan Struve and Alexander Volkov meet in a bout that could launch the victor into the top 10 of the heavyweight division.

In the co-main event, Siyar Bahadurzada returns from an extended time away from the octagon to face unbeaten UFC newcomer Rob Wilkinson.

The card also features three other UFC newcomers who are on lengthy winning streaks. Abdul-Kerim Edilov has won 10 straight while Alexsander Rakic and Zabit Mogomedsharipov are both unbeaten in their past eight fights.

UFC Fight Night 115 takes place at Ahoy Rotterdam, and the entire event streams on UFC Fight Pass

Here are 10 reasons to watch the event.

1. More than just 2 tall dudes

Struve, ranked No. 15 in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA heavyweight rankings, has looked excellent as of late. In his past two fights, Struve knocked out Antonio Silva in the first round and submitted Daniel Omielanczuk in the second stanza. The 7-foot-tall Struve enjoyed significant height and reach advantages over those opponents.

Those benefits remain against 6-foot-7 Volkov, but they aren’t nearly as noteworthy.

While Struve has the edge in both height and reach over Volkov, those advantages could be negated due to inactivity. Struve (28-8 MMA, 12-6 UFC) hasn’t fought in 11 months; No. 13-ranked Volkov (28-6 MMA, 2-0 UFC) has picked up two UFC wins, both via decision, since November.

Don’t be surprised if Volkov, with 15 first-round finishes to his name, looks to pressure Struve early, testing his readiness to return to action and his ability to deal with a similarly sized opponent.

2. A dangerous striker returns

In his UFC debut, Bahadurzada knocked Paulo Thiago out cold in 42 seconds. He then dropped decisions to Dong Hyun Kim and John Howard. After those losses, Bahadurzada was sidelined for 26 months while he tended to shoulder injuries.

He returned in March 2016 against Brandon Thatch and won that fight by submission. Not long after that victory, Bahadurzada was again bitten by the injury bug.

At UFC Fight Night 115, Bahadurzada fights for the first time in more than a year. His opponent in his first middleweight contest since 2010 is unbeaten UFC newcomer Wilkinson.

Bahadurzada is a dangerous striker with 11 knockout wins. Expect Bahadurzada (22-6-1 MMA, 2-2 UFC) to attempt to his fight to his strengths and avoid the ground game of Wilkinson (11-0 MMA, 0-0 UFC), who has six submission wins on his record.

3. Defying the odds

Leon Edwards and Bryan Barberena, two under-appreciated welterweights, open the main card. Edwards is the more technical fighter of the two. He also enters this fight with more hype behind him.

Edwards (13-3 MMA, 5-2 UFC) is a fast and powerful striker, but he’s not overly aggressive, averaging just 2.17 significant strikes per minute. Aggression is not a concern for Barberena (13-4 MMA, 4-2 UFC), who nearly doubles Edwards’ striking output.

The odds favor Edwards in this fight, but let’s not forget that defying the odds is kind of Barberena’s thing. Three of his UFC victories came when he was the underdog.

4. New deal

A pro since 2013, Darren Till has not lost during his 15-fight career. The UFC recently rewarded the 24-year-old welterweight prospect with a five-fight contract extension. What’s noteworthy about the deal is Till (14-0-1 MMA, 2-0-1 UFC) has fought only once since October 2015, and he entered that bout five pounds overweight. Till’s first opponent on his new deal is 28-year-old Bojan Velickovic (15-4-1 MMA, 2-1-1 UFC).

Instagram Photo

Till, an extremely confident fighter with a strong muay Thai base, blamed his flubbed May weight cut on a long layoff following shoulder surgery. Till cruised to a decision win over Jessin Ayari in that fight. With only three months between fights, expect Till, who made weight and is anxious to work his way up the rankings, to be more active against Velickovic.

Velickovic, a former RFA welterweight champ, knocked out Nico Musoke in his most recent fight.

5. Request denied

Mairbek Taisumov has knocked out his past four opponents. The problem is inactivity has prevented him from capitalizing on his stoppage streak. The first win of his run was in 2014; Taisumov’s most recent victory came in April 2016.

Taisumov is likely to have a chip on his shoulder when he faces Felipe Silva. Taisumov hoped to face a ranked lightweight in 2016. Having once again been denied his request, Taisumov (26-5 MMA, 5-1 UFC) has an opportunity to show the matchmakers their mistake in matching him up against the unbeaten, but unranked, Silva (8-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC).

Silva made his UFC debut in August 2016. He knocked out Shane Campbell in the first round of that bout.

6. Tough choices

Michel Prazeres trucked Josh Burkman in his most recent outing and landed 34 strikes before he submitted him via north-south choke at the 1:42 mark of the first round. The stoppage was the first of Prazeres’ UFC career.

Prazeres is a powerfully built lightweight. What he lacks in height and reach he makes up for with potent striking. He also possesses a strong takedown game. He’s racked up a whopping 31 takedowns in eight UFC fights.

Prazeres’ opponent, UFC newcomer Mads Burnell, who has five career submission wins, has some tough choices to make in this matchup. If Burnell (8-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC) fights to his strengths, he could find himself in deep waters against Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt Prazeres (22-2 MMA, 6-2 UFC), who missed weight for the fight. On the other hand, a striking battle with Prazeres is also ill-advised.

7. The gas is on the right

Rustam Khabilov was 3-0 in the UFC when the organization matched him against former WEC/UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson. Khabilov lost that fight by fourth-round submission. Adriano Martins then defeated Khabilov by split decision.

Khabilov followed those losses with four decision victories. Despite his winning streak, Khabilov (21-3 MMA, 7-2 UFC) hasn’t seen a main card since his loss to Martins. His fight against Desmond Green, a former Titan FC featherweight champ, is also on the prelims. Green (20-5 MMA, 1-0 UFC) has won five straight, including his April UFC debut.

Both these fighters have good wrestling and sound striking, but neither is very aggressive.

Khabilov and Green have the talent to move up the rankings, but that’s not likely to happen in the stacked 155-pound division until they become less risk-averse. With Khabilov and Green on winning streaks, this fight is the right time for them to step on the gas and make some noise.

8. Streaking 205er looks to make his mark

Rakic lost his debut fight in 2011. Since then he has run off eight straight stoppage victories, and six of those fights ended in the first round. Rakic, an Austrian light heavyweight with a kickboxing base, spent five weeks with American Top Team in Florida preparing for his fight against the more experienced Francimar Barroso.

Instagram Photo

Rakic (8-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC) should have the speed and striking advantage over Barroso (19-5 MMA, 4-2 UFC). With those advantages, Rakic wants to keep the 37-year-old Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt on his feet.

Win or lose, this fight will be a good indicator of the potential upside of the 25-year-old Rakic.

9. He has some big-name fans

Magomedsharipov has earned high praise from the likes of Frankie Edgar, Mark Henry and Marlon Moraes. The 26-year-old Dagestani fighter surrendered the Absolute Championship Berkut featherweight title to sign with the UFC. He makes his UFC debut on the strength of an eight-fight winning streak with seven of those victories coming via stoppage.

Magomedsharipov is an aggressive and flashy striker with lightning fast speed. He also has strong wrestling and vicious ground-and-pound. In short, he could be a star in the making.

Magomedsharipov (12-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC) hasn’t fought in a year. Inactivity isn’t a problem for his opponent, Mike Santiago.

Santiago (19-9 MMA, 0-0 UFC) knocked out Mark Cherico on Dana White’s Contender Series event on Aug. 22. The first-round stoppage didn’t earn Santiago a contract that night, but an injury to Nick Hein, Magomedsharipov’s original opponent, provided an opportunity for Santiago, who enters this contest on a nine-fight winning streak. He earned stoppages in eight of those victories.

10. Long-awaited debut

Bojan Mihajlovic and Edilov both signed with the UFC on the strength of 10-fight unbeaten streaks. Mihajlovic inked his deal with the UFC in 2016; Edilov signed in 2015.

Since signing his deal, Mihajlovic is 0-2. Mihajlovic (10-5 MMA, 0-2 UFC) suffered TKO losses in both fights.

Edilov (16-4 MMA, 0-0 UFC) makes his UFC debut in Rotterdam. An injury and a failed out-of-competition USADA drug test for meldonium delayed his promotional debut. Edilov is the cousin of controversial Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, who was the focus of a recent MMA-themed episode of HBO’s “Real Sports.”

Edilov has finished each fight of his winning streak via first round stoppage. If Edilov, the biggest favorite on this card, earns an 11th straight victory, don’t be surprised if he faces a top-15 light heavyweight opponent in his next outing.

For more on UFC Fight Night 115, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

UFC Fight Night 115 pre-event facts: Marion Reneau becomes UFC's first 40-year-old female fighter

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Filed under: Featured, News, UFC, Videos

After a nearly month-long break, the UFC returns to the Netherlands on Saturday.

UFC Fight Night 115 takes place Ahoy Rotterdam in Rotterdam and streams on UFC Fight Pass.

A heavyweight bout is featured in the main event: Stefan Struve (28-8 MMA, 12-6 UFC) looks to improve to 2-0 as a UFC headliner when he meets former Bellator champ Alexander Volkov (28-6 MMA, 2-0 UFC).

For more on the numbers behind the first of four UFC events in September, check below for 35 pre-event facts about UFC Fight Night 115.

* * * *

Main event

Stefan Struve

Struve competes in his 18th UFC heavyweight bout, tied with Roy Nelson for fourth most appearances in divisional history behind Frank Mir (27), Andrei Arlovski (23) and Gabriel Gonzaga (22).

Struve’s 12 victories in UFC heavyweight competition are tied for third most in divisional history behind Mir (16) and Arlovski (14).

Struve has earned 10 of his 12 UFC victories by stoppage.

Struve’s 10 stoppage victories in UFC heavyweight competition are tied for fourth most in divisional history behind Mir (13), Arlovski (11) and Gonzaga (11).

Struve’s five submission victories in UFC heavyweight competition are the second most in divisional history behind Mir (eight).

Struve’s 20 submission attempts in UFC heavyweight competition are the second most in divisional history behind Mir (21).

Struve’s 16-second knockout of Antonio Silva at UFC Fight Night 87 marked the third fastest knockout in UFC heavyweight history.

Struve has suffered five of his six UFC losses by knockout.

Alexander Volkov

Volkov is a former Bellator heavyweight champion.

Volkov is 4-0 since his final Bellator bout in June 2015.

Volkov has earned both of his UFC victories by decision.

Remaining main card

Marion Reneau

Marion Reneau (7-3-1 MMA, 3-2-1 UFC), 40, is the oldest of the 22 fighters scheduled to compete at the event.

Reneau becomes the first female fighter age 40 or older to compete in a UFC bout.

Reneau has earned six of her seven career victories by stoppage.

Reneau fought to the first draw in a women’s UFC fight against Bethe Correia at UFC Fight Night 106.

Siyar Bahadurzada

Siyar Bahadurzada (22-6-1 MMA, 2-2 UFC) competes for just the second time since December 2013.

Leon Edwards’ (13-3 MMA, 5-2 UFC) three-fight UFC winning streak in welterweight competition is tied for the fourth longest active streak in the division behind Kamaru Usman (five), Santiago Ponzinibbio (four) and Colby Covington (four).

Edwards’ eight-second knockout of Seth Baczynski at UFC Fight Night 64 stands as the second fastest in UFC welterweight history. Duane Ludwig holds the record for his six-second finish of Jonathan Goulet at UFC Fight Night 3 in January 2006.

Bryan Barberena (13-4 MMA, 4-2 UFC) is 3-1 since he moved up to the UFC welterweight division in January 2016.

Barberena is one of seven fighters in UFC history to earn an arm-triangle submission from either half or full guard. He accomplished the feat against Northcutt at UFC on FOX 18.

Preliminary card

Darren Till

Darren Till’s (14-0-1 MMA, 2-0-1 UFC) 15-fight undefeated streak in MMA competition is tied for fifth longest among active UFC fighters behind Khabib Nurmagomedov (24), Jimmie Rivera (20), Cris Cyborg (19) and Justin Gaethje (18).

Bojan Velickovic (15-3-1 MMA, 2-1-1 UFC) is 1-1-1 since he dropped to the UFC welterweight division in July 2016.

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

Mairbek Taisumov

Mairbek Taisumov (25-5 MMA, 5-1 UFC) returns to competition for the first time since Apr. 10, 2016. The 510-day layoff is the longest of his more than 10-year career.

Taisumov has earned 23 of his 25 career victories by stoppage. That includes four of his five wins under the UFC banner.

Taisumov’s four-fight UFC stoppage streak is tied for second longest among active fighters in the organization behind Francis Ngannou (five) and Stipe Miocic (five).

Felipe Silva (8-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC) has earned seven of his eight career victories by stoppage.

Michel Prazeres

Michel Prazeres (22-2 MMA, 6-2 UFC) has fought to a decision in seven of his eight UFC appearances.

Prazeres is one of four fighters in UFC history to earn a north-south choke submission victory. Rani Yahya, Jake Ellenberger and Jeff Monson have also accomplished the feat.

Prazeres has completed 31 takedowns in his eight UFC appearances. He’s landed at least one takedown against all eight of his UFC opponents.

Mads Burnell (8-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC), 23, is the youngest of the 22 fighters scheduled to compete at the event.

Rustam Khabilov

Rustam Khabilov (21-3 MMA, 7-2 UFC) absorbs 1.53 significant strikes per minute in UFC lightweight competition, the best rate among active fighters in the weight class.

Khabilov is one of nine fighters in UFC history to earn a knockout victory stemming from a slam. He accomplished the feat at The Ultimate Fighter 16 Finale.

Desmond Green (20-5 MMA, 1-0 UFC) has earned 14 of his 20 career victories by decision.

Francimar Barroso (19-4 MMA, 4-2 UFC) lands 52.4 percent of his significant strikes in UFC light heavyweight competition, the second highest rate among active fighters in the weight class behind Jon Jones (55.8 percent).

Mike Santiago (19-9 MMA, 0-0 UFC) enters the event on a nine-fight winning streak. He was 10-9 as a pro prior to his current run.

Abdul-Kerim Edilov (16-4 MMA, 0-0 UFC) makes his UFC debut on a 10-fight winning streak. He’s earned all of those victories by first-round stoppage.

For more on UFC Fight Night 115, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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

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

Video: Hardy, Gooden break down Stefan Struve vs. Alexander Volkov at UFC Fight Night 115

Filed under: News, UFC, Videos

Ahead of UFC Fight Night 115, UFC Fight Pass analyst Dan Hardy and broadcast partner John Gooden, along with Nick Peet, break down Saturday’s main event and other fights on the card.

UFC Fight Night 115 takes place Saturday at Ahoy Rotterdam in the Netherlands. The entire card streams live on UFC Fight Pass.

In the main event, Stefan Struve (28-8 MMA, 12-6 UFC) takes on former Bellator heavyweight champion Alexander Volkov (28-6 MMA, 2-0 UFC). In the video above, Hardy and Gooden preview this weekend’s headliner.

Additionally, they break down what was supposed to be the co-feature: a women’s bantamweight fight between former featherweight champ Germaine de Randamie (8-3 MMA, 4-1 UFC) and Marion Reneau (7-3-1 MMA, 3-2-1 UFC). Unfortunately, de Randamie pulled out of the fight this past week – after Hardy, Gooden and Peet filmed the piece – and was replaced by newcomer Talita de Oliveira (5-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC).

The trio also discusses the welterweight fight between Bryan Barberena (13-4 MMA, 4-2 UFC) and Leon Edwards (13-3 MMA, 5-2 UFC) on the main card, as well as the middleweight fight between Siyar Bahadurzada (22-6-1 MMA, 2-2 UFC) and Rob Wilkinson (11-0 MMA, 0-0 UFC). Darren Till (14-0-1 MMA, 2-0-1 UFC) also pays a visit to the show to talk about his welterweight fight with Bojan Velickovic (15-4-1 MMA, 2-1-1 UFC), which closes out the prelims.

Check out the “UFC Breakdown” video in full above.

For more on UFC Fight Night 115, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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

UFC Fight Night 115 lineup set with 11 bouts in the Netherlands, led by Struve-Volkov

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The lineup is set for the UFC’s return trip to the Netherlands next month.

The card features 11 fights, including a heavyweight headliner. UFC Fight Night 115 takes place Sept. 2 at Ahoy Rotterdam in the Netherlands. The entire event, with four main-card fights and seven prelims, streams on UFC Fight Pass.

Alexander Volkov

In the main event, Dutch big man Stefan Struve (28-8 MMA, 12-6 UFC) gets a home fight and takes on former Bellator heavyweight champion Alexander Volkov (28-6 MMA, 2-0 UFC). Struve has won three of his past four fights, including a bonus-winning 16-secodn knockout of Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva in the UFC’s first trip to Rotterdam in 2016.

Germaine de Randamie

In the co-feature, inaugural women’s featherweight champion Germaine de Randamie (8-3 MMA, 4-1 UFC) moves back to bantamweight after having her 145-pound title stripped. She’ll be fighting in front of her home fans, as well, and will take on Marion Reneau (7-3-1 MMA, 3-2-1 UFC).

To fill out the main card on UFC Fight Pass, Siyar Bahadurzada (22-6-1 MMA, 2-2 UFC) fights Rob Wilkinson (11-0 MMA, 0-0 UFC) in a middleweight bout, and Bryan Barberena (13-4 MMA, 4-2 UFC) takes on Leon Edwards (13-3 MMA, 5-2 UFC) at welterweight.

The prelims will feature seven fights on UFC Fight Pass. The featured bout is Darren Till (14-0-1 MMA, 2-0-1 UFC) vs. Bojan Velickovic (15-4-1 MMA, 2-1-1 UFC) at welterweight. There also are a trio of lightweight fights ahead of that: Felipe Silva (8-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC) vs. Mairbek Taisumov (26-5 MMA, 5-1 UFC), Mads Burnell (8-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC) vs. Michel Prazeres (22-2 MMA, 6-2 UFC), and Desmond Green (20-5 MMA, 1-0 UFC) vs. Rustam Khabilov (21-3 MMA, 7-2 UFC).

In addition, Francimar Barroso (19-5 MMA, 4-2 UFC) meets Aleksandar Rakic (8-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC) at light heavyweight, Nick Hein (14-2 MMA, 4-1 UFC) takes on newcomer Zabit Magomedsharipov (12-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC) at featherweight, and 205-pounders Abdul-Kerim Edilov (16-4 MMA, 0-0 UFC) and Bojan Mihajlovic (10-5 MMA, 0-2 UFC) will meet.

The complete UFC Fight Night 115 lineup includes:

MAIN CARD (UFC Fight Pass, 3 p.m. ET)

  • Stefan Struve vs. Alexander Volkov
  • Germaine de Randamie vs. Marion Reneau
  • Siyar Bahadurzada vs. Rob Wilkinson
  • Bryan Barberena vs. Leon Edwards

PRELIMINARY CARD (UFC Fight Pass, 11:30 a.m. ET)

  • Darren Till vs. Bojan Velickovic
  • Felipe Silva vs. Mairbek Taisumov
  • Mads Burnell vs. Michel Prazeres
  • Desmond Green vs. Rustam Khabilov
  • Francimar Barroso vs. Aleksandar Rakic
  • Nick Hein vs. Zabit Magomedsharipov
  • Abdul-Kerim Edilov vs. Bojan Mihajlovic

For more on UFC Fight Night 115, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie