'Dana White: Lookin' for a Fight' S2E4: Merab Dvalishvili's 15-second KO

Filed under: News, UFC, Videos

“Dana White: Lookin’ for a Fight” is back with its fourth episode of the second season, which now can be watched in its entirety.

White, who hosts the series with former UFC champion Matt Serra and MMA vet Din Thomas, uses the show to search for future UFC talent, though there are plenty of pitstops along the way.

In the fourth episode of Season 2, Gian Villante steps in for Thomas as the guys hit New York City. They celebrate Serra’s birthday while taking batting practice with the New York Mets (with special guests Chris Weidman and Kelvin Gastelum), do a ride-along with the New York Police Department, dance with the Rockettes and grab a New York slice.

The guys also visit nearby New Jersey, where they check out Serra protege and featherweight James Gonzalez at Ring of Combat 59. They also watch a fight between Roufusport fighter Raufeon Stots and Serra student Merab Dvalishvili, who got a quick win to earn himself a UFC contract.

Check it out above.

Also see:

For more on the UFC’s upcoming schedule, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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

'Silly arse kid' Luke Rockhold and 'not worth my time' Derek Brunson chirp on Twitter

Dann StuppSo much for Derek Brunson’s attempt to book a fight with a former UFC middleweight champion.

Brunson (18-5 MMA, 9-3 UFC), who scored a quick win over Lyoto Machida (22-8 MMA, 14-8 UFC) this past weekend in UFC Fight Night 119’s headliner, had his sights set on Luke Rockhold (16-3 MMA, 6-2 UFC) next. And he tried to goad the former titleholder – “Lucas,” as he called him – into a fight (via Twitter):

But Rockhold, who’s No. 3 in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA middleweight rankings following a stoppage win over David Branch in September, quickly dismissed No. 10-ranked Brunson (via Twitter):

Rockhold is likely referring to interim titleholder Robert Whittaker, ranked No. 2, and contender Yoel Romero, who’s No. 4. They beat Brunson in 2016 and 2014, respectively.

And then the back-and-forth continued (via Twitter):

Brunson’s callout of Rockhold actually came after another one – one that was also directed at an ex-champ.

However, Brunson then learned Chris Weidman (14-3 MMA, 10-3 UFC), who recently halted a three-fight skid with a submission win over Kelvin Gastelum, likely won’t be back in action anytime soon (via Twitter):

Do you want to see Brunson vs. Rockhold? Vote in the poll below.

And for complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 119, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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

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Sean Shelby's Shoes: What's next for Derek Brunson and UFC Fight Night 119's other winning fighters?

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Derek Brunson’s early knockout power has proven to be a major threat in recent years. He displayed another example with an early finish of Lyoto Machida in Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 119 main event.

Brunson (18-5 MMA, 9-3 UFC) handed former UFC champ Machida (23-7 MMA, 15-7 UFC) the fastest loss of his career in the FS1-televised middleweight headliner at Ibirapuera Gymnasium in Sao Paulo, improving his standing among the top contenders in the weight class.

Prior to Brunson’s win, Colby Covington (13-1 MMA, 8-1 UFC), Pedro Munhoz (15-2 MMA, 5-2 UFC), Rob Font (15-2 MMA, 5-1 UFC), Francisco Trinaldo (22-5 MMA, 12-4 UFC), Thiago “Marreta” Santos (16-5 MMA, 8-4 UFC) and John Lineker (30-8 MMA, 11-3 UFC) picked up notable victories on the main card.

After every event, fans wonder whom the winners will be matched up with next. And with another night of UFC action in the rearview mirror, it’s time to look forward, put on a pair of Sean Shelby and Mick Maynard’s shoes, and play matchmaker for UFC Fight Night 119’s winning fighters.

* * * *

John Lineker

Should fight: Thomas Almeida
Why they should fight: Lineker rebounded from an 11-month layoff due to a broken jaw with a solid performance in a unanimous decision victory over rising bantamweight prospect Marlon Vera.

Lineker showed improved control of his aggression to snap Vera’s winning streak. He apologized for what he considered to be a sloppy showing, but nevertheless walked away with an important victory for his career.

“Hands of Stone” has suffered just three losses in his past 27 fights, two of which came against a former UFC champion and a former title challenger. It’s clear the Brazilian is elite, but he’s struggled to get over the hump. At just 27, though, Lineker still has tremendous upside and potential to make more runs at the belt.

Another fighter in a similar position is Almeida (21-2 MMA, 5-2 UFC), who despite coming off a loss to Jimmie Rivera at UFC on FOX 25 in July, is still among the most dangerous 135-pound fighters on the roster. A matchup with Lineker has “Fight of the Night” written all over it, and more than that, has the potential to be one of the great action fights in recent memory.

Thiago “Marreta” Santos

Should fight: Tim Boetsch
Why they should fight: Santos showed why again why his striking is among the most dangerous of anyone in the UFC middleweight division when he became the first to stop Jack Hermansson with strikes.

“Marreta” not only put Hermansson away, but he did it in fierce fashion inside one round, giving him his sixth victory in his past eight octagon appearances. The Brazilian is riding a three-fight streak of knockouts and appears to be improving with every performance.

The Brazilian has few flaws offensively, but issues with durability have proven to be his downfall. It doesn’t matter much if he takes his opponents out first, though, and that’s what’s happened of late, putting Santos in position for another noteworthy matchup at 185 pounds.

Boetsch (21-11 MMA, 12-10 UFC) is a long-time UFC veteran who has essentially seen and done it all inside the octagon. His relentless style causes problems for a lot of fighters, and following his win over former UFC champ Johny Hendricks at UFC Fight Night 112 in July, “The Barbarian” would be a good test for Santos.

James Vick

Francisco Trinaldo

Should fight: Winner of James Vick vs. Joseph Duffy at UFC 217
Why they should fight: Trinaldo spoiled Jim Miller’s historic 28th trip to the UFC cage when he outworked the most seen fighter in company history for a unanimous decision, taking two of three rounds on all three scorecards.

Trinaldo has essentially been a model of consistency since joining the UFC roster in 2012. He’s won 12 of 16 fights and hasn’t fallen easily in any of his losses. “Massuranduba” might be 39, but he still shows signs of advancement against tough competition.

The Brazilian is a stellar 8-1 in his past nine fights, with the lone defeat coming against top contender Kevin Lee. He’s proven to be a talent worthy of a rankings beside his name in the lightweight division, and he should fight someone of a similar status. The winner of the UFC 217 fight between Vick (11-1 MMA, 7-1 UFC) and Duffy (16-2 MMA, 4-1 UFC) is in that territory,

Pedro Munhoz

Should fight: Eddie Wineland
Why they should fight: Munhoz has become an exciting addition to the UFC bantamweight division in recent years, and his submission win over Rob Font was another example of what he can do.

Munhoz finished Font with a one-armed guillotine choke. That’s a nifty way to make an opponent tap out for the first time, and the effort was rewarded with a $50,000 “Performance of the Night” bonus.

The 135-pound division is rather top-heavy at the moment, and more of the numbers close to the title are already booked. Munhoz will get there if he continues his current form, though, and a showdown with a divisional standout like Wineland (23-12-1 MMA, 5-6 UFC) would be a helpful step for his career.

Stephen Thompson

Colby Covington

Should fight: Stephen Thompson or winner of Carlos Condit vs. Neil Magny at UFC 219
Why they should fight: Covington’s rise up the UFC welterweight ranks took a direct shot closer to the championship when he went to Brazilian and stunned former multi-time title challenger Demian Maia.

Although Covington has become a polarizing personality outside the octagon, he’s doing tremendous work inside of it. He beat Maia by unanimous decision, marking his fifth consecutive win in the welterweight division. ‘

Covington has been calling for a matchup with 170-pound champ Tyron Woodley, but with December’s UFC on FOX 26 fight between Robbie Lawler and Rafael dos Anjos pegged as a title eliminator, he’s likely not going to be next in line.

Although it’s hard to move up from Maia in terms of ranked contenders, a fight with the winner of UFC 219’s bout between Condit (30-10 MMA, 7-6 UFC) and Magny (19-6 MMA, 12-5 UFC), whom he has called out many times, would be a fitting affair. If not that, “Wonderboy” Thompson (13-2-1 MMA, 8-2-1 UFC) would be a good matchup if he can get past Covington’s teammate, Jorge Masvidal, on Saturday at UFC 217.

Derek Brunson

Should fight: Chris Weidman
Why they should fight: Watch the video above to see why Brunson should fight Weidman (14-3 MMA, 10-3 UFC) next.

For complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 119, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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He's a fan, but Antonio Carlos Junior wants Brazilian payback on ex-champ Chris Weidman

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SAO PAULO – Let’s not label it a callout. Antonio Carlos Junior just has his eye on a certain potential next opponent.

On Saturday at UFC Fight Night 119, Carlos Junior (9-2-1 MMA, 6-2 UFC) dominated middleweight Jack Marshman (22-7 MMA, 2-2 UFC) and picked up a first-round submission victory.

Following the preliminary-card bout, which aired on FS2 prior to the FS1-televised main card at Ibirapuera Gymnasium in Sao Paulo, Carlos Junior was asked about what’s next. After all, with four straight wins and a possible debut in the upcoming USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA middleweight rankings, the 27-year-old Brazilian’s prospects are looking promising, especially in light of his latest victory.

“I said before the interviews, man, I’m going to submit the guy – he’s never been submitted before – in the first round,” Carlos Junior said of Marshman. “And I just did it. So I’m really happy. I’m not even in my prime.”

Carlos Junior, who won “The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil 3” as a heavyweight in 2014, said he’s just looking for challenges at this point in his promising 185-pound career, which includes three submission stoppages during his current four-fight winning streak. And what better challenge than a former middleweight champion like Chris Weidman (14-3 MMA, 10-3 UFC), who’s ranked No. 7?

“He’s a big name, and I’m a huge fan,” Carlos Junior said of Weidman. “It would be great to share the octagon with him. He’s beat a lot of Brazilians like Anderson Silva two times – the greatest of all-time. He beat Vitor Belfort. He beat Lyoto Machida. He beat Demian Maia. So it would be great to represent my country against him.”

Outside of the cage, Carlos Junior said he’s just looking forward to a November wedding, seeing some friends and family, and spending the holidays at home in Brazil after training the past few years at American Top Team in Florida. He’s anxious to get back to training and continue his current run of success, but first? A little break.

“I think I deserve it,” he said with a smile.

Check out the full interview above.

And for complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 119, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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Six months after controversy, New York commission officially implements instant replay

The New York State Athletic Commission now officially has an instant replay policy on its books.

The commission implemented the policy earlier this month, bringing its rules in line with recommendations set by the Association of Boxing Commisssions in July, reports Newsday.com.

Now, a referee is formally allowed to request and view a fight’s ending sequence, hopefully rendering the correct decision in situations in which the outcome is in question. The review can take place in the time between the fight’s stoppage and the announcement of the official result.

An alternate referee can be consulted by the primary referee, but the official call rests with the latter. The fight can not be restarted after an instant replace review.

“This policy sets forth a process for the use of instant replay at ringside, adding clarity, transparency and predictability,” a NYSAC spokesperson told Newsday.com.

Few would use those adjectives to describe the situation that resulted from a controversial stoppage in April at UFC 210, the third major UFC pay-per-view regulated by the NYSAC.

The event’s co-main draw between ex-middleweight champ Chris Weidman (14-3 MMA, 10-3 UFC) and Gegard Mousasi (43-6-2 MMA, 1-0 BMMA) was stopped in the second round when referee Dan Miragliotta called an illegal knee to Weidman’s head. Miragliotta then consulted with veteran referee John McCarthy, who was cageside and saw the strikes were not illegal by watching a replay of the sequence on the video monitors inside the arena. During the sequence, UFC officials incorrectly declared on the broadcast that no instant replay was available, further confusing the situation.

The crisis was averted, however, when a commission doctor ruled Weidman unable to continue from the knee he took, and Mousasi was ruled the winner by TKO.

Afterward, Weidman appealed the ruling, believing the NYSAC had misapplied its rules. But after a lengthy delay, the commission informed him it could “review video evidence in order to meet its obligation to render correct determinations and act in the best interest of the sport.” Officials cited a commission ruling in 2008 as precedent for the denial of appeal. In that case, a video review of an unintentional head-butt led to a no-contest ruling rather than a knockout win.

Despite its earlier stance, the NYSAC official acknowledged the need to clear up any confusion created by the UFC 210 incident.

“Providing clarity to the MMA community through adoption of a written process was the right thing to do, and we are glad to have the policy on the books,” he wrote to Newsday.

The new policy also maintains the commission’s power to review and potentially change official results it deems unjust.

“Nothing in this policy shall restrict the commission’s authority to review video evidence to determine the correct outcome after the final official outcome of a bout has been announced in the ring,” the policy reads.

New York and its athletic commission will again be in the spotlight next week, when UFC 217 takes place Nov. 4 at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

For more on UFC 217, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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MMA coach Ray Longo on how he looks for concussed fighters and has 'the talk'

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Fighting is a rough business, but veteran MMA coach Ray Longo tries to minimize risks in the gym.

When a fighter gets too banged up, he has “the talk” with them.

Such was the case with UFC veteran Pete Sell (10-6 MMA, 2-5 UFC), who suffered knockout losses in four of his final eight fights. Sell retired in 2012.

“‘Drago’ would fight you tomorrow,” Longo told MMAjunkie Radio. “He wants to fight. That’s what he loves to do. But we’re just not having it.”

Longo said his longtime charge Chris Weidman (14-3 MMA, 10-3 UFC) hasn’t taken too many major hits during his decorated career in the UFC. But he’s watching.

“We do a lot of concussion testing in the gym with some newer technology stuff,” Longo said. “It’s a hot topic, and we’re definitely not turning a blind eye to it. I believe we’re on top of it.”

The gym is one of the last lines of defense when it comes to resting concussed fighters. Although state athletic commissions issue suspensions to those who’ve been through knockouts or tough fights, enforcement of no-contact orders is not realistic for a sport that’s so geographically spread out.

In reality, there’s little to stop a fighter who wants to jump back into sparring after a knockout, other than professional colleagues.

Longo said he used to be a “wild man” when he was a young martial-arts practitioner. But now, he sometimes keeps students benched for up to one month if they’ve been concussed in sparring.

“Both (Aljamain Sterling) and Chris, I pulled back on their sparring for (their respective fights at UFC 214 and UFC on FOX 25),” he said. “I don’t think you can ever be too cautious, but this is the sport they choose, and they are going to get hit.”

For more on the UFC’s upcoming schedule, 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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MMAjunkie's 'Submission of the Month' for July: One of the prettiest transitions you'll see in MMA

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

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

* * * *

The nominees

Tecia Torres def. Juliana Lima at TUF 25 Finale

After going to a decision in nine consecutive fights to open her pro career, Tecia Torres (9-1 MMA, 5-1 UFC) finally picked up her first stoppage win when she choked out durable Brazilian Juliana Lima (9-4 MMA, 3-3 UFC)

Torres became the first to tap Lima when she found a way to her opponent’s back early in the second round of the women’s strawweight bout. She secured a rear-naked choke moments later, earning a win without the help of the judges for the first time (via Instagram):

Instagram Photo

Jimmy Flick def. Johnny Bedford at LFA 16

UFC veteran Johnny Bedford (23-13-1) was a 5-1 favorite heading into his bantamweight main event, and it made Jimmy Flick’s (10-3) third-round submission win all the sweeter.

Flick, who closed as a +350 underdog to -500 favorite Bedford at the sports books, picked up arguably the biggest win of his career. He threw out a number of submission attempts, and it was finally a D’Arce choke that stuck for the finish (via Twitter):

Marlon Vera def. Brian Kelleher at UFC on FOX 25

After picking up a surprising and quick submission win in his UFC debut earlier this year, Brian Kelleher (17-8 MMA, 1-1 UFC) experienced the other side of the coin when he tapped out early in the first frame of his fight with Marlon Vera (10-3-1 MMA, 4-2 UFC).

In a grappling exchange in the bantamweight bout, Vera transitioned to a slick armbar, which forced Kelleher to tap out, giving Vera his third consecutive victory (via Twitter):

Chris Weidman def. Kelvin Gastelum at UFC on FOX 25

Chris Weidman (14-3 MMA, 10-3 UFC) won’t back down. The former UFC middleweight champion survived a knockdown from Kelvin Gastelum (13-3 MMA, 8-3 UFC) in the opening frame before taking over on the mat, securing an arm triangle at the 3:45 mark of Round 3.

Weidman snapped a three-fight losing skid that had many MMA observers doubting whether he’d be able to keep his UFC job, let alone return to championship form. He did so by becoming the first to stop Gastelum inside the distance (via Instagram):

Instagram Photo

Brian Ortega def. Renato Moicano at UFC 214

Brian Ortega (12-0 MMA, 4-0 UFC) and Renato Moicano (11-1-1 MMA, 3-1 UFC) were nearly two-and-a-half rounds into a striking war that cageside fans could hear as well as they could see. Then Moicano made the questionable decision to take down Ortega in the featherweight fight.

It played right into Ortega’s submission strengths as Moicano inadvertently stuck his neck into a guillotine choke that Ortega squeezed for the finish, forcing the tap at the 2:59 mark of Round 3 (via Twitter):

* * * *

The winner: Marlon Vera

Marlon Vera

It started out looking like a run-of-the-mill submission defense by Vera, who trapped Kelleher’s arm to stop the single-leg takedown early in the opening round.

It turned into much more.

When Kelleher tried to give up on the takedown, Vera stuck with the kimura trap, using it to transition into a slick armbar that forced the submission at the 2:18 mark of Round 1.

The transition to the armbar was about as smooth a submission as you’re likely to see, and it clearly caught Kelleher off-guard. He started off well, moving to an early takedown attempt with Vera pressed against the cage.

But when Vera reached down to snag Kelleher’s arm in a kimura, it halted Kelleher’s hopes for a takedown and forced him to bail on the move. When he went to back out of the single-leg takedown, however, Vera clamped down harder on his arm, using it to spin him around before spinning himself right into position for the armbar.

Kelleher tried to get his arm back, but by that point, it was too late. Vera already had the limb extended and showed no indication that he was willing to give it back.

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The best from UFC on FOX 25

The door is closed on UFC on FOX 25, which took place Saturday at NYCB LIVE in Uniondale, N.Y. The card aired on FOX following early prelims on UFC Fight Pass and featured former UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman (14-3 MMA, 10-3 UFC) earning a submission victory over Kelvin Gastelum (13-3 MMA, 8-3 UFC) in the main event.

MMAjunkie was on-site for the event bringing the most thorough coverage from beginning to end. The UFC’s debut in Long Island proved to be an eventful one, and in case you happened to miss any of the fight-night or post-fight coverage, here are five items (in no particular order) to see before moving past UFC on FOX 25.

* * * *

1. Junior Albini says UFC on FOX 25 bonus means daughter will no longer have to play with empty shampoo bottles

2. Chris Weidman calls out ‘British bum’ Michael Bisping, who fires back on Twitter in typical fashion

3. Chris Weidman claims he’s the best, though he’s not – or is he? Here’s where it gets complicated

4. Patrick Cummins’ face was a ridiculous mess after UFC on FOX 25

5. Kelvin Gastelum planning welterweight return after loss to ‘really strong’ Chris Weidman

For complete coverage of UFC on FOX 25, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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5 thoughts to ponder after UFC on FOX 25

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UFC on FOX 25 is in the books, and while the card apparently didn’t attract much interest by drawing the lowest overnight ratings in the history of the series, there were some compelling moments and storylines coming out of Saturday’s FOX-televised event at NYCB LIVE in Uniondale, N.Y.

Here are some takeaways from UFC on FOX 25, which saw former UFC middleweight Chris Weidman (14-3 MMA, 10-3 UFC) snap a three-fight losing skid with a third-round submission of Kelvin Gastelum (13-3 MMA, 8-3 UFC) in the main event.

* * * *

Chris Weidman is still very good.

It was fairly surprising a fighter of Weidman’s caliber was sitting on three consecutive losses, but rough patches happen in MMA, and the “All-American” never gave up hope despite more than two years of disappointment.

Although he’s already being discredited for beating “a bloated welterweight,” Weidman’s performance against a rising star like Gastelum showed he has more left to offer. Weidman never let outside noise trickle in and always felt he would reestablish himself, which he did with the submission win.

There are fair questions about Weidman’s chin after getting dropped by Gastelum and taking considerable damage from Luke Rockhold, Yoel Romero and Gegard Mousasi. However, if that flaw forces Weidman to transition into a more grappling-heavy style, that probably caters best to his skillset going forward, anyway, because there are few in the division capable of hanging with him on the mat.

Kelvin Gastelum probably belongs at welterweight.

It was only four months ago that we were pleading for Gastelum to drop the talk of a return to welterweight after his destruction of Vitor Belfort, but the loss to Weidman showed he was probably onto something, after all.

Gastelum can be a serviceable fighter at 185 pounds, but at welterweight his ceiling is likely a lot higher. He struggled madly with the size and strength of Weidman, and as he moves further up in competition in the weight class, those factors will be even more prominent.

“The Ultimate Fighter 17” winner said the loss will change him for the better. If he lives up to his word and gets his act together on diet and discipline, he should get one final chance to see what he can do 170 pounds, but there’s going to be no room for error.

Darren Elkins and Team Alpha Male deserve more credit.

The emergence of Darren Elkins (23-5 MMA, 13-4 UFC) as a true featherweight threat has been an interesting storyline to follow, and it’s no coincidence the success coincides with his move to Team Alpha Male in Sacramento, Calif.

Team Alpha Male has had its turbulent moments, but the corner crew of Justin Buchholz, Danny Castillo and Chris Holdsworth have had many more successes than failures of late, and Elkins’ five-fight winning streak, capped off by a split-decision win over Dennis Bermudez, should be one of their prouder achievements.

Elkins’ style won’t ever have fans lining up at the box office, but his ability to ware opponents down through any situation is commendable. How far he can take this run remains to be seen, but the fact he has the second most wins in UFC featherweight history behind only champ Max Holloway means he can’t be ignored as a threat.

Patrick Cummins wears it like few others.

When Patrick Cummins’ (10-4 MMA, 5-4 UFC) career is done someone needs to compile an album of his face after every fight. Win or lose, Cummins leaves the octagon looking like he just came out of a car wreck, and that was no different in his split-decision win over Gian Villante.

Cummins’ chin hasn’t always held up, but it did against Villante, and actually led him into a situation where he was able to out-strike his opponent, which was a surprise.

The inconsistent nature of Cummins’ career makes his fights hard to predict, but the common theme is that it’s not going to be an easy night for anyone when “Durkin” steps in the cage.

Dominick Cruz is an excellent broadcaster who still needs work.

Going through a nearly seven-hour broadcast without flaw is an impossible feat. No other sport requires such endurance in the broadcast booth, and while Dominick Cruz has quickly become of the best to do it, his latest work alongside Brian Stann and Jon Anik showed he needs to better round out the ideas he presents to viewers.

Cruz is as knowledgeable and insightful as anyone in the sport from a technical perspective, but his attempt to juggle commentary with fight scoring revealed flaws in his ideologies. Perpetuating the dated idea that a late, ineffective takedown from a fighter losing a round can “steal” it for them is wrong, especially under the new scoring criteria.

It’s nitpicky, but fight commentary is a huge influence of the narrative viewers take away. Cruz, Stann, Joe Rogan and all the rest provide brilliant analysis, but when it comes to the (admittedly confusing) rules and regulations, there needs to be greater caution.

For complete coverage of UFC on FOX 25, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

UFC Long Island's 10 memorable moments, including yet another Michael Bisping callout

Former UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman entered Saturday’s UFC on FOX 25 main event bout against Kelvin Gastelum on a three-fight losing skid. Weidman got back in the win column with a third-round submission victory in front of a hometown crowd on Long Island. To say the win gave Weidman a boost in confidence would be an understatement.

“I’m the champ. I’m the best guy in the world, and I think people know that,” Weidman said at the post-fight news conference. “If (UFC middleweight champ Michael) Bisping grows some balls, that fight will happen. I know (Robert) Whittaker just did a great job winning the interim belt (against Yoel Romero at UFC 213), but I think he’s hurt. He’s got knee surgery. I’m available. I’m ready to go. We’ll see what happens.”

Weidman wasn’t the only fighter to take a step in the right direction at NYCB LIVE in Uniondale, N.Y. Below are 10 memorable moments from the event.

1. Picking a fight

After securing his first win since May 2015, Weidman did his best to pick a fight with Bisping, calling the champ a “British bum.” Unsurprisingly, Bisping didn’t let the remark slide and the two engaged in a social media skirmish that lasted well into Sunday.

Despite his efforts, Weidman (14-3 MMA, 10-3 UFC) isn’t likely to get a title shot with a 1-3 record in his last four fights. You can’t blame the guy for aiming high after his win over Gastelum (13-3 MMA, 8-3 UFC), especially in the current landscape where potential pay-per-view sales are one of the driving forces behind which title fights get booked.

At the very least, Weidman’s victory adds another wrinkle to a division that’s getting a bit crowded at the top.

2. An impressive run continues

Darren Elkins has been one of the bigger surprises of 2017. Well into the 10th year of his professional career, Elkins’ profile has never been higher. Fighting in the first co-main event of his UFC run, Elkins (23-5 MMA, 13-5 UFC) eked out a split decision over Dennis Bermudez (16-7 MMA, 9-5 MMA) to extend his unbeaten streak to five straight.

“The grind is my game, and those are the fights I’m going to succeed in,” Elkins told MMAjunkie after the win. “It’s not the prettiest stuff sometimes, but I make it work, and I make it work good.”

Elkins went on to say he’s looking to face a top-five fighter in his next outing, naming Chan Sung Jung or Cub Swanson as possible opponents. While Elkins doesn’t have the biggest name in the featherweight division, it’s going to be hard to deny him the type of fight he’s looking for considering the run he’s enjoying.

3. Wearing it

Maybe it was Gian Villante’s penchant for throwing strikes with the intent of turning out his opponent’s lights. Maybe it was Patrick Cummins’ ability to take an indecent amount of abuse over the course of a fight. Whatever it was, there was something about the light heavyweight bout between Villante (15-9 MMA, 5-6 UFC) and Cummins (10-4 MMA, 6-4 UFC) that made it feel like fans were in for a nasty fight.

By the end of the contest, Cummins’ right eye was swollen shut and a piece of gauze hung on the cut that opened on his head after an accidental first round headbutt. Despite looking far worse than Villante, Cummins walked away with a split-decision victory.

Cummins displayed his trademark toughness throughout the fight. He also set a career high in significant strikes landed with 86, while showing an improved defensive striking game.

4. Looking for the next test

When the bantamweight bout between Jimmie Rivera and Thomas Almeida came to an end, the striking numbers were awfully similar. Rivera (21-1 MMA, 5-0 UFC) landed 70 significant strikes while Almeida (21-2 MMA, 5-2 UFC) landed 72, with both fighters connecting on 43 percent of their attempts. The difference was in the knockdowns, takedowns and octagon control – three aspects of the contest where Rivera had the advantage, knocking down Almeida twice while landing two takedowns on his way to the unanimous decision win.

Rivera has somewhat quietly climbed the rankings, and he’s now on a 20-fight winning streak, with the last five of those wins coming in the UFC. Despite his under-the-radar rise, Rivera is hopeful his win over Almeida will earn him a title shot or a fight against a former champ sometime around November.

5. Holding back

When Lyman Good plopped down on his stool at the end of the second round of his welterweight fight against Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos, his coaches asked him why he was holding back. Good’s response did not go over well.

“I don’t want to get knocked out,” Good said.

That reluctance to fully engage his opponent might have cost Good (19-4 MMA, 1-1 UFC) the fight. Two judges scored the bout in favor of Santos (17-5 MMA, 2-2 UFC), giving him the split-decision win and extending his UFC winning streak to three straight.

With the loss, Good, fighting for the first time in two years due to an injury and a tainted-supplement-related suspension, saw his six-fight unbeaten streak come to an end. One positive for Good is the exciting striking battle did win “Fight of the Night” honors, earning both fighters an extra $50,000.

6. Short notice, shorter fight

Eryk Anders made some news at the official weigh-in for UFC on FOX 25, when he touched the towel being held in front of him while he stood on the scale, much to the chagrin of the New York State Athletic Commission. Anders made more positive news on fight night when he scored a first-round knockout in his UFC debut, putting away Rafael Natal with left hands to the head.

Anders (8-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC), the former LFA middleweight champ, took the fight against the much more experienced Natal (21-9-1 MMA, 9-7-1 UFC) on short notice. Anders made the most of his opportunity, landing 79 percent of his significant strikes on his way to his eighth straight win. After the fight, Anders put the rest of the middleweight division on notice.

“I’m ready to take over this middleweight division, and any middleweight (is) getting the same treatment (as Natal),” Anders told UFC commentator Brian Stann.

7. Eat your words

Some fighters are wound tight as a spring. Alex Oliveira is not one of those fighters. The Brazilian dances and sings on his way to the cage, and between rounds he shares smiles and jokes with his corner. While he fights, Oliveira remains extraordinarily loose and relaxed. Oliveira’s personality seemed to rub Stann the wrong way early in his fight against Ryan LaFlare.

“There’s a point where you’re too loose,” said Stann between the first and second rounds. “You’re too friendly; you’re having too much fun. You’ve got to get down to business if you want to win a fight.”

Less than two minutes later, Oliveira (18-3-1 MMA, 7-2 UFC) ended the welterweight bout with a brutal uppercut that dropped LaFlare (13-2 MMA, 6-2 UFC) face-first onto the canvas.

After the fight, Stann owned up to his remarks, telling Oliveira he proved him wrong with the “Performance of the Night” winning knockout.

8. A score to settle

Marlon Vera extended his unbeaten streak to three straight with a first-round submission win over the favored Brian Kelleher in Long Island. The end came when Vera (10-3-1 MMA, 4-2 UFC) quickly transitioned from a standing kimura to an armbar when Kelleher (17-8 MMA, 1-1 UFC) decided to take the fight to the mat while Vera remained latched to his arm.

After his win, Vera reminded everyone he had unfinished business with Jimmie Rivera who withdrew from a fight against Vera early this year.

“Me and Rivera got business,” Vera said. “I don’t know what happened. He just backed out (of the fight), because he said he was too much for me in January. It was really tough for me because I cut 15 pounds in two days for that fight. I wanted to be in the gym or be in the sauna because I was super motivated to fight a tough guy.”

9. Passing grade

Junior Albini (14-2 MMA, 1-0 UFC) accomplished two significant feats at UFC on FOX 25. The first, scoring a TKO victory in his UFC debut against a heavyweight fighter with UFC experience in Timothy Johnson (11-4 MMA, 3-3 UFC). The second, taking home a “Performance of the Night” bonus.

“I was never able to buy her a toy or something like that,” Albini said of his 2-year old daughter after his win. “All of her toys were like shampoos, empty bottles, because we didn’t have much money. My wife was following my dream, too, together, so it means a lot to me right now that I can make a living and give back to them what they suffered together with me – the pursuing of this dream.”

With his TKO victory Albini extended his unbeaten streak to 10 straight, with eight of those wins coming by stoppage.

10. Local boy makes good

Godofredo Pepey did his best to goad Shane Burgos into a brawl and/or a grappling match, but Burgos refused to bite. Instead, the featherweight prospect stayed calm and used excellent striking, especially his counters, to pick apart Pepey on the feet.

Burgos (10-0 MMA, 3-0 UFC) dropped Pepey (13-5 MMA, 5-5 UFC) three times, and had he gone to the body earlier and more often, he might have managed to get the stoppage he desired instead of a unanimous decision.

Burgos, a New York-based fighter, has fought on three UFC cards in his home state, and judging by the crowd’s response to his efforts, he’s become a local favorite.

For complete coverage of UFC on FOX 25, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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