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

Now sitting on 4 straight wins, UFC-Rotterdam's Leon Edwards calls for Donald Cerrone – again

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Leon Edwards is ready to break out of the circuit of smaller UFC shows in Europe and take his talents to an American audience following his victory over Bryan Barberena at UFC Fight Night 115.

Edwards (14-3 MMA, 6-2 UFC) pushed his winning streak to four in the UFC welterweight division on Saturday when he outworked Barberena (13-5 MMA, 4-3 UFC) to a unanimous decision in the UFC Fight Pass-streamed bout at Ahoy Rotterdam in the Netherlands.

All of the fights in Edward’s current run have taken place overseas. Now, the Brit wants to be booked on a major fight card in Las Vegas or another city where he’ll be exposed to a new section of the UFC fan base.

“I’ve never lost in Europe, and I enjoy fighting here, but I think it’s time for the American fans now to go out there and really appreciate my work,” Edwards told reporters during the post-fight news conference. “So, my next fight should be on a big card in Vegas or somewhere in the U.S.”

Edwards has fought stateside once before, and it didn’t go his way. He dropped a decision to Kamaru Usman at UFC on FOX 17 in Dec. 2015 in a fight that represents the most recent loss on his record. He wants to redeem himself, though, and for the second straight time had a specific opponent in mind to do that.

Fighting in the main event of that same UFC on FOX 17 was Donald Cerrone (32-9 MMA, 19-6 UFC), who at the time was challenging for the UFC lightweight title. “Cowboy” has since moved up to 170 pounds, and despite the fact he’s coming off back-to-back losses against Jorge Masvidal and Robbie Lawler, “Rocky” said it’s a matchup he desires.

“(I called him out) after I fought the last time,” Edwards said. “It would be a good contest, me and him. I want to keep moving up. I’m 26 years old now. I want to keep moving up the rankings and hopefully get top 15, top 10 next. I’m on a four-fight win streak now, so that should be guaranteed.”

Edwards would not be in the position to call out a name like Cerrone had he lost to Barberena. It was a competitive fight in which he had to overcome a second-round knockdown in order to secure the decision, but Edwards said there was never doubt his hand would be raised at the end.

“I thought I had Round 1 and Round 3, so I wasn’t very nervous (about the decision),” Edwards said. “I knew I had the victory, so it was good.”

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

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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: Leon Edwards survives knockdown, works to decision over Bryan Barberena

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In a grinding welterweight contest, Leon Edwards survived a second-round scare to earn a decision win over a gritty Bryan Barberena.

The welterweight contest kicked off the main card of Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 115 event, which streamed live on UFC Fight Pass from Ahoy Rotterdam in the Netherlands.

The two men started out in southpaw position, with Edwards holding the center as Barberena shifted side to side. Edwards was the quicker man in the early exchanges, and his snapping low kicks did some early damage. Barberena was largely patient to open, and Edwards certainly enjoyed the opportunity to strike on the feet. At the halfway mark of the first, a missed Barberena kick led to an Edwards takedown, and he moved quickly around to the back. Barberena seemed comfortable in the position, punching even as Edwards’ arm wrapped around the chin, but the opening round was clearly in the Brit’s favor.

Barberena turned up the aggression to start the second, and the pair quickly moved into the clinch. The two exchanged knees as they battled for position before eventually returning to the center. Barberena continued to keep the volume high as they progressed, though Edwards again caught a kick and pushed the action to the floor, taking the back in the process. Barberena wasted no time moving to his feet and looking to turn inside, eventually earning the position. Edwards dropped levels and looked for a takedown, but Barberena sprawled and peppered him with elbows, forcing him to back away.

The two traded shots in the pocket late in the frame before a big Barberena left sent Edwards to the floor. Barberena jumped on top and tried to finish, but Edwards survived until the bell.

Barberena came out firing in the third, and Edwards looked steady as he returned big shots. Quick strikes on the feet scored for Edwards before he decided to shoot inside, and while Barberena tried to reverse the action in the process, he ended up on the bottom. Barberena turned to his knees to escape, and Edwards happily took the back and looked for the choke, which simply wasn’t there. However, Edwards did have the legs locked around the body, securing his position. Barberena was gritty, as always, refusing to give up the submission and crawling to his feet with one minute remaining.

Barberena again turned inside and dropped in elbows while Edwards looked for takedown. Barberena hoped for a submission late, but Edwards battled him away until the bell, walking away with a decision win, 29-28 on all three judges’ cards.

Edwards (14-3 MMA, 6-2 UFC) has quietly worked his way to a four-fight winning streak, while Barberena (13-5 MMA, 4-3 UFC) falls to 1-2 in his past three contests.

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.

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Source: MMA Junkie

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

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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

UFC Fight Night 115 staff picks: Who are we picking between giants Struve, Volkov?

Struve
vs.
Volkov
Bahadurzada
vs.
Wilkinson
De Oliveira
vs.
Reneau
Barberena
vs.
Edwards
MMAjunkie readers’
consensus picks
2017: 78-60
struve2017
Struve
(58%)
bahadurzada2017
Bahadurzada
(55%)
reneau2017
Reneau
(72%)
barberena2017
Barberena
(52%)
Simon Samano
@SJSamano
2017: 85-52
struve2017
Struve
bahadurzada2017
Bahadurzada
reneau2017
Reneau
leonedwards2017
Edwards
Dann Stupp
@DannStupp
2017: 83-54
trophy copy 2015 Champion
volkov2017
Volkov
bahadurzada2017
Bahadurzada
reneau2017
Reneau
leonedwards2017
Edwards
Brian Garcia
@thegoze
2017: 82-55
struve2017
Struve
bahadurzada2017
Bahadurzada
reneau2017
Reneau
leonedwards2017
Edwards
Matt Erickson @MMAjunkieMatt
2017: 82-55
struve2017
Struve
robwilkinson2017
Wilkinson
talitaoliveira2017
De Oliveira
barberena2017
Barberena
Steven Marrocco @MMAjunkieSteven
2017: 81-56
volkov2017
Volkov
bahadurzada2017
Bahadurzada
reneau2017
Reneau
leonedwards2017
Edwards
Ben Fowlkes @BenFowlkesMMA
2017: 80-57
trophy copy 2016 Champion
volkov2017
Volkov
bahadurzada2017
Bahadurzada
reneau2017
Reneau
leonedwards2017
Edwards
Fernanda Prates @nandaprates_
2017: 78-59
volkov2017
Volkov
bahadurzada2017
Bahadurzada
reneau2017
Reneau
leonedwards2017
Edwards
George Garcia @MMAjunkieGeorge
2017: 76-61
struve2017
Struve
bahadurzada2017
Bahadurzada
reneau2017
Reneau
leonedwards2017
Edwards
Mike Bohn @MikeBohnMMA
2017: 76-61
trophy copy 2014 Champion
struve2017
Struve
robwilkinson2017
Wilkinson
reneau2017
Reneau
leonedwards2017
Edwards
John Morgan @MMAjunkieJohn
2017: 74-56
struve2017
Struve
robwilkinson2017
Wilkinson
reneau2017
Reneau
barberena2017
Barberena

The UFC returns to the Netherlands this week for another show in Rotterdam.

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

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

In the main event, Dutch fan favorite Stefan Struve (28-8 MMA, 12-6 UFC) fights in front of his home crowd against former Bellator heavyweight champion Alexander Volkov (28-6 MMA, 2-0 UFC). Volkov is a slight betting favorite at the sports books, but it’s Struve with the edge in the picks from our 10 MMAjunkie editors, writers and radio hosts. The 7-foot Dutchman has a 6-4 advantage over the 6-foot-7 Volkov in what will be the tallest combined matchup in UFC history.

In the co-feature, Siyar Bahadurzada (22-6-1 MMA, 2-2 UFC) returns from a long layoff to fight middleweight newcomer Rob Wilkinson (11-0 MMA, 0-0 UFC). It’s Bahadurzada with a 7-3 nod over the Aussie.

Also on the main card, Talita de Oliveira (5-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC) takes a short-noticed women’s bantamweight fight against Marion Reneau (7-3-1 MMA, 3-2-1 UFC), who is a 3-1 favorite. Only one of our 10 pickers is brave enough to pick the Brazilian for the upset over the 40-year-old Reneau. And to open the main card, Bryan Barberena (13-4 MMA, 4-2 UFC) takes on Leon Edwards (13-3 MMA, 5-2 UFC) in a welterweight fight, and it’s England’s Edwards with a 7-3 advantage in the picks.

In the MMAjunkie reader consensus picks, Struve, Bahadurzada, Reneau and Edwards are the choices.

Check out all the picks above.

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

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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).

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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.

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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.

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Source: MMA Junkie

Bryan Barberena wants to be promoted to 'Contender Killer' after finishing Leon Edwards

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ROTTERDAM – Bryan Barberena has already earned one pretty cool nickname. But after Saturday, he’s hoping to get a promotion.

Barberena (13-4 MMA, 4-2 UFC), who meets fellow welterweight Leon Edwards (13-3 MMA, 5-2 UFC) in a main-card bout at UFC Fight Night 115, officially has “Bam Bam” as his alias. But after the back-to-back wins over then-undefeated up-and-comers Warlley Alves and Sage Northcutt, he unofficially became “The Prospect Killer.”

Edwards may not be undefeated, but the ever-improving 26-year-old Brit does come in on the heels of three straight wins – one of them a slick submission of tough Albert Tumenov.

So, the way Barberena sees it, we’re past prospect territory here.

“I’d definitely say he’s a contender,” Barberena told MMAjunkie ahead of Saturday’s bout, which streams live on UFC Fight Pass from Ahoy Rotterdam in the Netherlands. “When I finish him and beat him, you can call me the ‘Contender Killer.’

“I’ll take the names and anything. I feel we’re both up-and-coming guys and going to be breaking into the rankings. Definitely, when I finish him, I’ll be taking my spot up there.”

Barberena comes into Saturday’s scrap off a big first-round finish of Joe Proctor at UFC Fight Night 108. The win meant recovery from a UFC on FOX 22 loss to Colby Covington – which, in turn, followed the consecutive victories over Alves and Northcutt.

Saturday’s trip to the Netherlands is in some ways familiar to Barberena: Once again, he comes in as the underdog. And, judging by Edwards’ candid thoughts on him, the 28-year-old fighter once again feels he comes in underestimated.

But, as someone who’s made kind of a habit of pulling off upsets, he’s not at all fazed by the background noise.

“(I) definitely feel like I’m going to be pushing forward, and he’s going to be backing up,” Barberena said. “(He’ll) be coming in with some shots, maybe trying to take me down, mix it up. I’m going to be finishing him in the second or third.”

To hear from Barberena, check out the video above.

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

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Source: MMA Junkie

Bryan Barberena, 'The Prospect Killer'? UFC Fight Night 115 opponent Leon Edwards disagrees

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ROTTERDAM – England’s Leon Edwards will enter the octagon at Ahoy Rotterdam on Saturday riding some solid momentum.

Edwards, who put his name on the map after an eight-second starching of Seth Baczynski in 2015, comes off a big win over touted prospect Vicente Luque to cap off a three-fight streak. At only 26, and looking more comfortable with each showing, he’s certainly one of England’s current best octagon bets.

In the opposite corner, however, stands a man who’s become pretty much known for his ability to stop hype trains dead on their tracks – as Warlley Alves and Sage Northcutt, both undefeated before their meetings with Bryan Barberena, can attest to.

Barberena’s first time entering a bout as a favorite was, in fact, his most recent one – which ended in a demolition of Joe Proctor. For his script-flipping skills, he started being regarded as the “The Prospect Killer.”

Still, his UFC Fight Night 115 opponent is not impressed.

“Skill-wise, he’s a pretty average fighter,” Edwards told MMAjunkie ahead of the main-card welterweight bout, which streams live on UFC Fight Pass from Rotterdam in the Netherlands. “I think he relies more on his toughness, and trying to outwear people. I think that’s it, really.

“As far as ‘Prospect Killer’ goes: Who has he beat, really? Sage? It wouldn’t be Sage (as a prospect), you know what I mean? Who did he kill? I don’t understand.”

Edwards (13-3 MMA, 5-2 UFC) clearly isn’t too intimidated by what Barberena (13-4 MMA, 4-2 UFC) presents. In fact, he’ll quite nonchalantly tell you he imagines himself getting the job done against “Bam Bam” either in the first or second rounds.

“I can see myself putting him away,” Edwards said.

That’s the immediate future, of course. A little further down the road, though, Edwards also has some ideas in mind. While he is riding an impressive streak, all of them took place in his native Europe. Now, Edwards thinks it’s time to expand his fanbase.

And, of course, climb the 170-pound ladder in the process.

“For next year, I’d like to travel out and fight in America, and get the American fans on board,” Edwards said. “I think the European fans, they recognize and they know what I’m about.

“So I think it’s time now, after this fight, to get someone at the top-10, top-15, and go to the U.S.A, (make) my mark there.”

To hear from Edwards, check out the video above.

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

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Video: UFC-Rotterdam media day face-offs, with towering heavyweights, tense welterweights

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ROTTERDAM, Netherlands – The featured athletes from Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 115 event came together today for media interviews and pre-fight staredowns, and while the headliners were cordial, that wasn’t true for everyone else.

UFC Fight Night 115 takes place Saturday at Ahoy Rotterdam in the Netherlands. The entire cards streams live on UFC Fight Pass. Today’s Ultimate Media Day event, which MMAjunkie attended, took place at the nearby Inntel Hotels Rotterdam Centre.

On hand were towering heavyweight headliners Alexander Volkov (28-6 MMA, 2-0 UFC) and Stefan Struve (28-8 MMA, 12-6 UFC), as well as middleweights Siyar Bahadurzada (22-6-1 MMA, 2-2 UFC) and Rob Wilkinson (11-0 MMA, 0-0 UFC), women’s bantamweights Marion Reneau (7-3-1 MMA, 3-2-1 UFC) and Talita Oliveira (5-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC), as well as welterweights Leon Edwards (13-3 MMA, 5-2 UFC) and Bryan Barberena (13-4 MMA, 4-2 UFC).

The headliner could have a significant impact in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA heavyweight rankings, with Volkov at No. 13 and Struve at No. 15 in the latest edition.

Check out the video above to get a first look of the fighters face-to-face.

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

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Source: MMA Junkie