USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA rankings, Dec. 5: Ngannou now among pound-for-pound best

UFC heavyweight title contender Francis Ngannou officially has arrived.

Ngannou, whose professional MMA career began just four years ago, delivered a “Knockout of the Year” candidate in his win over Alistair Overeem this past weekend at UFC 218. As a result, Ngannou has vaulted up seven spots in this week’s USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA heavyweight rankings to No. 2, behind only UFC champion Stipe Miocic, who will next defend his title vs. Ngannou.

That development in the heavyweight rankings, impressive as it is, shouldn’t come as a surprise in the wake of Ngannou’s dominant performance. What might, though, is the fact that Ngannou has skipped honorable mention altogether in the pound-for-pound rankings and finds himself at No. 11 – ahead of interim middleweight champion Robert Whittaker (15), welterweight contender Stephen Thompson (14), and ex-bantamweight champions Dominick Cruz (13) and Cody Garbrandt (12), respectively.

Check out all of the rankings above.

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

Justin Buchholz talks Cody Garbrandt's UFC 217 title loss and current Team Alpha Male role

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Filed under: News, Radio Highlight, UFC, Videos

Cody Garbrandt’s first attempt to defend the UFC bantamweight title didn’t go as planned. But given the rough road there, coach Justin Buchholz thinks the former champion’s solid start at UFC 217 served as a testament to his skills.

Garbrandt (11-1 MMA, 6-1 UFC) was a 2-1 betting favorite heading into UFC 217’s co-headliner against then-ex-champ and former Team Alpha Male stablemate T.J. Dillashaw (15-3 MMA, 11-3 UFC). And his heavy hands almost confirmed those expectations in the first round, when he had the challenger in serious trouble.

But Dillashaw was able to turn things in around in the second, pulling off an unexpected knockout to take back the bantamweight title.

Buchholz, who cornered Garbrandt, hadn’t gotten back to Team Alpha Male by the time he checked in with MMAjunkie Radio. But he shared some thoughts on Garbrandt’s comeback.

“When it comes to Cody regaining the title, it’s honestly just the focus he has,” Buchholz said. “A focused Cody Garbrandt, man, you saw what he did against Dominick Cruz. You saw what he did last year. And he was on the losing end of kind of a firefight.

“It will be an interesting process, coming back.”

Buchholz went into some detail in regard to less-than-ideal leadup to the drama-filled UFC 217 match. The two bantamweights, of course, were originally supposed to meet in July, after they were done with their roles as opposing coaches on Season 25 of “The Ultimate Fighter.”

A back injury, however, forced “No Love” out of the booking – and we got about four extra months of beefing, with the occasional finger-pointing and even controversial leaked sparring footage.

When the two finally met in the octagon on Nov. 4, it was Dillashaw’s night. And Buchholz in no way takes away from Dillashaw’s merit there; he was always acutely aware of how dangerous of an opponent he was as they headed into the fight.

But what we saw up in the octagon was the result of a process that, especially considering such a worthy opponent, could’ve been better.

“Honestly, Cody, he was hurt a lot this year,” Buccholz said. “This is a known fact: The fight is won or lost in the gym. It’s such a known fact. So the camp going into it, it’s everything. With Cody’s injuries and what was going on with the gym. I just felt like – especially to get someone like T.J., T.J. is one of the most sickest competitors I’ve ever seen. He will train hard, and he will do whatever it takes to win this fight and this competition. He’s so ultra competitive.

“Cody has that competitive streak, as well, but I’ve never really seen another fighter like T.J. who has that type of just singular focus like that. And to train for T.J. Dillashaw for a year – this guy’s training, just in the gym, just trying to get back everything that he thinks was taken from him or whatnot. And this is the guy we’re going to face. I knew we were in for a tough fight.

“People would always ask me, they’d say, ‘What is the tougher fight?’ They’d do the MMA math, and they’d say, ‘Cody humiliated Dominick Cruz, and Cruz beat T.J.’ But that is MMA math. And we know it’s all bull(expletive). It doesn’t matter. It’s the setup. It’s the matchup. I knew we had a super tough competitor out there. And it was hard to get Cody the camp that I felt we needed to deal with someone like T.J.”

After the fight, Garbrandt briefly touched on the “long, hard road” and the adjustments he had to make “on the fly” due to the multiple procedures he had to have stemming from his back injury. But ultimately, he reiterated he made no excuses for the loss.

“I’m just thankful to be here and have health,” Garbrandt added.

Garbrandt went on to add that, at least, he went out on his shield. And the coach agrees that, all in all, his athlete did showcase some serious skill in there.

“With all that being said about Cody’s camp, he still almost put away in the first round,” Buccholz said. “That is a credit to how amazing of an athlete and a fighter he is. He was looking good. He was looking good and got caught with that kick.”

Buchholz also took the opportunity to address another topic that’s been on the news, though this time it’s one involving himself: his situation at Team Alpha Male. The UFC vet, who recently made a victorious return to fighting, caused some waves late last month when he announced that he was no longer the head MMA coach for the Sacramento-based team.

Buchholz, who now leads the muay Thai training there and has some “deep” loyalties to fighters such as UFC vets Darren Elkins and Cynthia Calvillo, clarified to MMAjunkie Radio that the situation wasn’t a “business thing.”

“I don’t run the MMA program anymore,” Buccholz said. “We were at the old gym, and I think two months into this gym we moved into a new facility. The program I had set and worked on and had coached over, it wasn’t really what I was trying to do.

“There was a lot of influences coming in. It wasn’t the same tone. I don’t want to be considered the head of a program I’m not in complete control over. It’s basically what happened.

” … Business aside, I love coaching. I love the team. I was the first guy to fight in the UFC on the team, when everyone was at WEC. I’ve done a lot for the team. So it’s not really a business thing, it’s just – I have these standards in the way that I like to run things.”

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

For complete coverage of UFC 217, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

MMAjunkie Radio broadcasts Monday-Friday at 1 p.m. ET (10 a.m. PT) live from Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino’s Race & Sports Book. The show is hosted by “Gorgeous” George Garcia and producer Brian “Goze” Garcia. For more information or to download past episodes, go to www.mmajunkie.com/radio.

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

Sean Shelby's Shoes: What's next for Dustin Poirier and UFC Fight Night 120's other winning fighters?

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Filed under: Featured, News, UFC, Videos

UFC Fight Night 120 was touted as one of the most stacked non-pay-per-view and non-FOX cards this year, and in the end, the six-fight main card largely delivered at Ted Constant Convocations Center in Norfolk, Va.

Headliner Dustin Poirier (22-5 MMA, 14-4 UFC) pulled off the crowning performance of the card when he beat former UFC champ Anthony Pettis (20-7 MMA, 7-6 UFC) by third-round stoppage in the FS1-televised bout, continuing his solid run in the 155-pound division.

Elsewhere on the card, Matt Brown (21-16 MMA, 14-10 UFC), Andrei Arlovski (26-15 MMA, 15-9 UFC), Cezar Ferreira (12-6 MMA, 8-4 UFC), Raphael Assuncao (26-5 MMA, 10-2 UFC) and Clay Guida (34-17 MMA, 14-11 UFC) earned victories that ranged from total domination to scorecard squeakers.

After every event, fans wonder whom the winners will be matched up with next. And with another night of UFC action in the rearview mirror, it’s time to look forward, put on a pair of Sean Shelby and Mick Maynard’s shoes, and play UFC matchmaker for UFC Fight Night 120’s winning fighters.

* * * *

Clay Guida

Joseph Duffy

Should fight: Joseph Duffy
Why they should fight: Guida’s return to the UFC lightweight division is proving to be a good one after he moved to 2-0 with a victory over fellow UFC veteran Joe Lauzon.

Despite spending a decade together under the UFC banner, Guida and Lauzon had never crossed paths. When it finally happened, “The Carpenter” pulled off a first-round TKO victory over Lauzon to continue his revival in the 155-pound division.

Guida said his stint in the featherweight division was only to provide “star power” to the weight class, but he admitted lightweight is best for him. He believes he can do big things, but at 35 and with more than 50 pro fights, it remains to be seen how far he can go.

If Guida can consistently rack up wins like he did against Lauzon, he’ll have a place on the UFC roster for as long as he wants. He’s going to get challenging competition every time out, though, and Duffy (16-3 MMA, 4-2 UFC) is a very dangerous fighter.

Duffy is coming off a TKO loss to James Vick at UFC 217 this month and will surely be looking to rebound as quickly as possible. Guida represents a solid name for the Irishman, and Duffy would be a solid win for Guida.

Raphael Assuncao

Cody Garbrandt

Should fight: Cody Garbrandt
Why they should fight: Assuncao emerged victorious in a high-risk fight against an up-and-coming bantamweight when he picked up a brutal third-round knockout of Matthew Lopez.

Lopez came into the fight looking to threaten Assuncao’s status as an established top-five fighter in the 135-pound division. The Brazilian denied that possibility, though, and improved to a ridiculous 10-1 in his past 11 UFC appearances.

There’s good and bad for Assuncao at this point. He owns a victory over newly crowned UFC bantamweight champ T.J. Dillashaw, but he also has a loss to the currently titleholder in their rematch at UFC 200 in July 2016. A trilogy could always happen if the circumstances are right, but at this point, it’s obvious the UFC isn’t eager to push Assuncao into a title shot.

That leaves him in the undesirable position of fighting top opponents until he loses again or wins to the point he can’t be denied. He’ll surely want the latter, and that means taking on the next best available challenge. At this point, recently dethroned champ Garbrandt (11-1 MMA, 6-1 UFC) would be his best way to make a statement.

Cezar Ferreira

Antonio Carlos Junior

Should fight: Antonio Carlos Junior
Why they should fight: Ferreira’s return to the middleweight division has been largely successful. He improved to 4-1 since returning to the weight class after scoring a split-decision victory over tough veteran and former Strikeforce champion Nate Marquardt.

“The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil” winner had had some ups and downs in his UFC tenure, but his form is consistently improving. He caught a version of Marquardt wh’os in the twilight of his career, but beating “The Great” is still a somewhat meaningful accomplishment.

Ferreira has fallen short against his most notable opponents in the past, but against Marquardt, he came through. He needs a solid test at this point, and when it comes to 185-pound fighters on the rise, Carlos Junior (9-2 MMA, 6-2 UFC) looks pretty good.

Carlos Junior is another “TUF: Brazil” winner who is on a four-fight winning streak, which includes a recent submission win over Jack Marshman at UFC Fight Night 119. A matchup between the two reality-show winners is a solid enough narrative, and the fact their skills match up well only makes things better.

Andrei Arlovski

Curtis Blaydes

Should fight: Curtis Blaydes
Why they should fight: Just when Arlovski appeared to be written off for good in the UFC heavyweight division, the former champ rebounded with a crucial victory against Brazilian prospect Junior Albini.

It’s been a rough road for Arlovski in recent years. However, he managed to snap a brutal five-fight losing skid when he picked up a unanimous-decision win over Albini to return to the win column for the first time since September 2015.

Regardless of whether anyone has objections over Arlovski still fighting at this point, the 38-year-old is determined to keep going, even if he has to fight unheralded opponents in the heavyweight division.

That’s a useful item to have for UFC matchmakers, and they will likely continue to use Arlovski as a measuring stick for rising talent. Albini was unable to pass, but perhaps Blaydes (8-1 MMA, 3-1 UFC), who’s another fighter with growing momentum, would have something else to offer “The Pitbull.”

Matt Brown

Should fight: No one
Why: Although Brown has already walked back the possibility of a guaranteed retirement, a brutal knockout of Diego Sanchez seems like a solid way to ride off into the sunset for “The Immortal.”

Brown originally announced his bout with Sanchez would mark his retirement. However, he slowed those conversations ahead of fight night. Even with the first-round knockout of “The Ultimate Fighter 1” winner, it’s still an option worth considering, and Brown seems like he’s going to take some time off to make that decision.

With 24 UFC fights under his belt and at age 36, Brown has gone through the ringer inside the octagon. Every fighter who retires appears to have some measure of reluctance, but for Brown, there’s not much more to prove.

He said a hiatus from competition is coming and that it’s just a matter of whether it sticks. Only time will tell, but regardless of which way it goes, it seems Brown won’t be fighting anytime soon, and for that reason, speculating on matchmaking possibilities is a useless endeavor.

Dustin Poirier

Should fight: Winner of Eddie Alvarez vs. Justin Gaethje at UFC 218
Why they should fight: Watch the video above to see why Poirier should fight the winner of the UFC 218 bout between Alvarez (28-5 MMA, 3-2 UFC) and Gaethje (18-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC) next.

For complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 120, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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

UFC 217's 'Thrill and Agony' will make your eyes water

Filed under: Blue Corner, Featured Videos, News, UFC, Videos

Dann StuppIf you though UFC 217 was an emotional rollercoaster on fight night, wait until you see the new behind-the-scenes and cageside footage.

The “Thrill and Agony” series takes us up close and behind the scenes of pay-per-view events, and at UFC 217, we saw some emotional aftermath after three titles changed hands.

UFC 217 took place Saturday at Madison Square Garden Arena in New York, and the main card aired on pay-per-view following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass.

In “Thrill and Agony,” raw emotion is put on display, primarily with the corner and cageside cams that captured teammates, friends and family reacting to the fights.

Some of the most emotional footage comes from the night’s first title fight when heavy underdog Rose Namajunas (7-3 MMA, 5-2 UFC) upset strawweight champ Joanna Jedrzejczyk (14-1 MMA, 8-1 UFC). Check out the reactions from the fighters, their corners, family and friends – and the cageside broadcasters above.

It also includes the aftermath of new bantamweight champ T.J. Dillashaw (15-3 MMA, 11-3 UFC) taking out former teammate and training partner Cody Garbrandt (11-1 MMA, 6-1 UFC) in the co-headliner, as well as Georges St-Pierre (26-2 MMA, 20-2 UFC) dethroning middleweight titleholder via submission Michael Bisping (30-8 MMA, 20-8 UFC) in the headliner.

The above video is a preview of “Thrill and Agony.” The full episode is available on UFC Fight Pass for subscribers.

For complete coverage of UFC 217, 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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Filed under: Blue Corner, Featured Videos, News, UFC, Videos
Source: MMA Junkie

UFC 217 medical suspensions: Georges St-Pierre, Stephen Thompson receive 45 days

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Filed under: Featured, News, UFC

Georges St-Pierre’s triumphant return at UFC 217 earned him the middleweight title and a 45-day medical suspension, likely from some nasty cuts courtesy of Michael Bisping.

St-Pierre’s (26-2 MMA, 20-2 UFC) former training partner, Stephen Thompson (14-2-1 MMA, 9-2-1 UFC), walked away from the event with a unanimous-decision win over Jorge Masvidal (32-13 MMA, 9-6 UFC) and the same 45-day term.

MMAjunkie today received a full list of medical suspensions stemming from this past Saturday’s event, which took place at Madison Square Garden in New York and was regulated by the New York State Athletic Commission.

Citing medical privacy laws, the commission said it does not release details on the nature of the suspensions.

Thompson reported a thumb injury in the wake of his win, leading to speculation about his readiness to return for a proposed fight with Darren Till at a UFC event scheduled for Feb. 24. After UFC President Dana White confirmed the matchup, Thompson told MMAWeekly.com he had not received or accepted an offer to face Till.

All fighters received a minimum 7-day suspension.

The full list of medical suspensions from UFC 217 include:

For complete coverage of UFC 217, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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

UFC 217 'Fight Motion:' Watch T.J. Dillashaw drop Cody Garbrandt with high kick before finish

Filed under: News, UFC, Videos

The UFC’s latest edition of “Fight Motion” with super slow-motion highlights is out, and in it we see highlights from all three title fights, including T.J. Dillashaw’s first knockdown of Cody Garbrandt.

Before scoring the knockout finish to become bantamweight champion for the second time, Dillashaw (15-3 MMA, 11-3 UFC) dropped Garbrandt (11-1 MMA, 6-1 UFC) with a high kick that landed flush to the face. It signaled the beginning of the end for the now-former champion.

The “Fight Motion” highlights also include the main event, which saw Georges St-Pierre (26-2 MMA, 20-2 UFC) choke out Michael Bisping (30-8 MMA, 20-8 UFC) to win the middleweight title and become the fourth two-division champion in UFC history, as well as Rose Namajunas’ (7-3 MMA, 5-2 UFC) stunning first-round knockout of Joanna Jedrzejczyk (14-1 MMA, 8-1 UFC) to win the strawweight title.

In the video above, check out the super slow-motion highlights from the action at UFC 217 this past Saturday at Madison Square Garden in New York. The main card aired on pay-per-view following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass.

For complete coverage of UFC 217, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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

Urijah Faber would consider unretiring to fight T.J. Dillashaw, but nobody get any ideas

Finally, after nearly a year of animosity between ex-teammates turned rivals T.J. Dillashaw and Cody Garbrandt, the score was settled over the weekend, with Dillashaw scoring a knockout at UFC 217 to become bantamweight champion for the second time.

So that it’s, right? This means we’re done with the whole Team Alpha Male vs. Dillashaw story line. Aren’t we?

Maybe not – and that’s got to do with more than just a potential rematch between Dillashaw (15-3 MMA, 11-3 UFC) and Garbrandt (11-1 MMA, 6-1 UFC).

Speaking to “The MMA Hour” on Monday, UFC Hall of Famer and Team Alpha Male founder Urijah Faber said he “would have to consider” coming out of retirement to fight Dillashaw if presented with the opportunity.

“I was in a Metro PCS Q&A (during UFC 217 fight week) and someone was asking me, ‘What would it take to bring you out of retirement?’ I said, ‘The biggest dollars,’ and a girl said, ‘If T.J. calls you out after this fight, would that bring you out of retirement?’ And I just said, ‘That sounds like fun,’” Faber said.

“It’s unbeknownst to me if anyone’s asking for that, calling for that or offering that. I haven’t heard it. I would have to consider that if they came and talked to me. There’s one thing I know for sure is, I’m not afraid of a good fight, and I enjoy it, and I like making money. But I would hate for that to be the focus rather than Cody getting back in there and getting his shot to redeem himself, because he’s been the guy who’s been there on the front lines. He’s been the guy who’s been putting in the time to be the world champion right now, and I’ve retired.”

These remarks come on the heels of Faber (34-10 MMA, 10-6 UFC) telling MMAjunkie Radio last month “there’d be a few scenarios” that could get him back inside the octagon, and apparently facing his former pupil is one of them.

But is that a fight we really need to see? Better yet, is that a fight we want to see?

No doubt Faber is one of the greatest featherweights in UFC/WEC history, but there’s a reason the 38-year-old hung up his gloves last December. He went 2-3 in his final five bouts to close his career, which included losses to top contenders Dominick Cruz and Jimmie Rivera.

We couldn’t possibly expect Faber to be all that competitive against Dillashaw.

To me, there’s nothing appealing about this matchup, but maybe I’m in the minority. Let us know in the poll below.

For more on the upcoming UFC schedule, visit the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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

Take Our Poll
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Source: MMA Junkie

Trading Shots: Did title turnover at UFC 217 teach us a lesson about the price of arrogance?

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Filed under: News, UFC

Three very confident champions all lost their titles in brutal fashion at UFC 217. What, if anything, is the lesson here? MMAjunkie columnist Ben Fowlkes and retired UFC and WEC fighter Danny Downes discuss.

* * * *

Fowlkes: What a night, eh, Danny? For the first time in UFC history, three titles changed hands in three consecutive bouts. Another way to look at it: In all three title fights, we saw some version of a story that is as rare in real life as it is satisfying. I refer now, of course, to the story of hubris punished.

Think about it. Michal Bisping? Joanna Jedrzejczyk? Cody Garbrandt? All three came into their title defenses talking a metric ton of crap. All three, to one extent or another, played the role of the bully, constantly poking a finger in the challenger’s chest while threatening all manner of humiliating violence. Then, one by one, all three got beaten up.

To make the contrast between the defeated bullies and the victorious bullied even more glaring, you had Rose Namajunas out there using her victory speech to encourage us to be nice and hug each other. You had Georges St-Pierre apologizing for the using the word “balls” in public (surely, NYC residents were scandalized by such talk). You had T.J. Dillashaw … well, he didn’t gloat anywhere near as obnoxiously as he could have, and that’s something, especially against a bitter rival and former teammate.

Is it all one big coincidence, Danny? Or is there something to learn from a night when the plot of basically every teen movie from “The Karate Kid” to “Never Back Down” became reality in the UFC?

Downes: Who knew that all it took for Ben Fowlkes to get back into the church pew was three UFC titles changing hands in one night? Maybe next week we can change the name of this column to “Trading Blessings” and we talk about how #blessed we are in our lives.

Of course it’s a coincidence! You constantly talk about how we shouldn’t read any morality into MMA. Well, we shouldn’t attribute any metaphysical arc of justice to it either. The same night as these alleged “bullies” lost their titles, former NFL player and domestic abuser Greg Hardy started his new career as an MMA fighter.

I think there’s a mistake in grouping all three of the former title holders in the same group. They were all arrogant in their bullying, but in different degrees. Bisping was his usual, grating self, with the mix of cocky Englishman, condescension and lack of self-awareness that we’ve come to expect. He even dresses the part of a bad guy in a low budget action movie.

Garbrandt’s attitude was driven more by personal animus towards Dillashaw. He probably crossed a line or two in the etiquette department (it’s never appropriate to brag about sparring “wins”), but that could be attributed to the fact that he really did not like Dillashaw. Rightly or wrongly, he finds Dillashaw disloyal and that really annoyed him.

I personally find Jedrzejczyk’s case the most interesting. She’s always had a mean streak, but in the buildup to this fight, she seemed especially nasty. Particularly in the way she attacked Namajunas, who tried to bring awareness to mental health issues.

Was this a case of Jedrzejczyk turning up her persona to 11, or was it a case of her drinking her own Kool-Aid? When everyone in the MMA landscape says you’re the baddest woman on the planet, you’re probably going to start calling yourself the boogeywoman, speaking in crazy hyperbole and looking for a role in the new “Roadhouse” remake. (Sorry, I think that last one was somebody else who believed her own hype.)

Regardless of what type of bully they personified, it appears they all received their comeuppance. I’m sure many fans enjoyed watching them lose their respective titles. I’m also sure that many fans aren’t looking for a kinder, gentler UFC fighter.

Fighters, too, aren’t going to be telling themselves, “You know, I should be more respectful to my opponent.” Everyone is going to be chasing that Conor McGregor money. As result, you’re going to get bootleg McGregors (cough* Colby Covington cough*) trying to be a more athletic Biff Tannen.

You compared last night to “The Karate Kid.” Do you think the “good guys” won last night? Do MMA fans have cocky A-hole fatigue? What should we learn from last night other than it’s really difficult to keep your title?

Fowlkes: I’m not going to say it was a moral failing that caused the downfall of these three champions, but especially in Jedrzejczyk’s case, it did seem like a disdain for her opponent’s skills (and maybe an overabundance of faith in her own) played a role in her loss. Arrogance can be a good selling point in combat sports. But if it’s also a character trait that you bring into the fight, it can get you knocked out.

As for the question of cocky A-hole fatigue, yes and no. It was strangely refreshing to see Namajunas pull off the night’s biggest upset, only to turn around and insist that she felt “like a normal person” afterward, because it is who you are with or without the belt that really matters.

And when GSP did his polite Canadian gentleman thing, you did get the sense that people were more into it because it was such a departure from the swaggering braggadocio we’ve gotten accustomed to lately.

I’m under no illusion that this is the beginning of an MMA culture change. Fighters saw McGregor getting fame and money, so they naturally tried to emulate the form hoping for similar results. That’s not going to stop all at once, or maybe ever.

Let’s not forget, when we were used to having St-Pierre and his G-rated trash talk around on the regular, we got to a point where we found it all a bit boring. He had to go away and come back in a different era for anybody to appreciate it.

But I do think that Saturday night might have been a reminder that there’s more than one path to the waterfall. Not everyone needs to be the sneering, cocky champ. The more people who try that act, the more of an opening it creates for something – anything – else.

Downes: If there’s one thing MMA fighters can learn from Hamlet (other than don’t get involved in Danish politics), it’s “this above all: to thy own self be true.” We’re so quick to tie MMA to professional wrestling that we conflate fighters with characters.

To be sure, fighters need to have some type of “brand.” The idea of letting your fighting do all the talking is naive, and it ignores the business of the sport.

When we have fighters out there working a gimmick, though, it cheapens everything else. Chael Sonnen had a decent thing going, but he went over the line into becoming a caricature of himself. I would argue that you’re better off having a boring personality than an insincere one.

Look at Sage Northcutt. I would assume by now he’s in on the joke, but it still works because that’s his personality. When wannabe McGregors spout uncreative nonsense, it seems ridiculous. It’s like when you tried to bring back the word fetch. Stop trying to make fetch happen, Ben. It’s not going to happen!

MMA is at its best when there’s variety. That applies to fighter personalities as much as it does to fighting styles. Homogeneity isn’t entertaining, and MMA fans aren’t a monolith. We all have different opinions of what we find entertaining, and the more options we have presented, the sport in general will be healthier. Some of us cheer for the bully. Some of us root for the underdog. But all of us want the sport to grow.

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

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

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Sean Shelby's Shoes: What's next for Michael Bisping and UFC 217's other losing fighters?

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(ALSO SEE: Sean Shelby’s Shoes: What’s next for UFC 217’s winning fighters?)

UFC 217 was not a good night for champions. All three titleholders who entered the octagon dropped their belts with a stoppage loss on Saturday’s pay-per-view card at Madison Square Garden in New York.

The fairytale title reign of Michael Bisping (30-8 MMA, 20-8 UFC) came to a halt in the main event when he dropped the middleweight title to Georges St-Pierre (26-2 MMA, 20-2 UFC) with a third-round technical submission.

Prior to that, Cody Garbrandt (11-1 MMA, 6-1 UFC) and Joanna Jedrzejczyk (14-1 MMA, 8-1 UFC) had their undefeated records, as well as UFC titles, taken away with knockout losses to T.J. Dillashaw (15-3 MMA, 11-3 UFC) and Rose Namajunas (7-3 MMA, 5-2 UFC), respectively.

Also on the main card, former welterweight champion Johny Hendricks (18-8 MMA, 13-8 UFC) continued his career slide while Jorge Masvidal (32-13 MMA, 9-6 UFC) experienced another disappointing setback.

After every event, fans wonder whom the losing fighters will be matched up with next. And with another night of UFC action in the rearview mirror, it’s time to look forward, put on a pair of Sean Shelby and Mick Maynard’s shoes, and play UFC matchmaker for UFC 217’s losing fighters.

* * * *

Johny Hendricks

Rashad Evans

Should fight: Rashad Evans
Why they should fight: Hendricks’ career slide took arguably it’s most worrisome turn when the former champ suffered a second-round TKO loss to rising middleweight prospect Paulo Costa.

After being forced out of the welterweight division due to multiple failed weight cuts, Hendricks won his 185-pound debut earlier this year. He lost his subsequent fight against veteran Tim Boetsch, but after falling short against a previously unproven prospect, he’s in a challenging position.

Hendricks is just 1-5 in his past six UFC fights dating back to March 2015. He moved his camp to Jackson-Wink MMA in Albuquerque, N.M., in hopes of finding new results, but it didn’t go his way. As long as Hendricks decides he wants to fight, he’s going to be a notable name who will have a job with the UFC or elsewhere.

“Bigg Rigg” desperately needs to win his next fight, and fighting someone who’s at a similar stage in his career might be the only thing to help him regain his confidence and form. Fellow ex-champ Evans (19-7-1 MMA, 14-7-1 UFC) is no gimme fight when he’s on point, but even the current version of Hendricks would likely be a favorite.

Jorge Masvidal

Dong Hyun Kim

Should fight: Dong Hyun Kim
Why they should fight: Just when Masvidal appeared to be on the cusp of a welterweight title shot, he suddenly finds himself on a two-fight losing skid after suffering a unanimous-decision defeat to Stephen Thompson.

Masvidal fell short against the two-time title challenger and is now in a difficult position. His two losses came against the best in Thompson and Demian Maia, but in a similar situation to when he was fighting at 155 pounds, Masvidal has had trouble winning at the most crucial moments.

Nevertheless, Masvidal isn’t going anywhere and will attempt to fight his way back into the mix. Kim (22-4-1 MMA, 13-4 UFC) is coming off a loss to Masvidal’s teammate Colby Covington, and he’d surely be happy to follow up on his good friend’s handiwork with a showdown against “Stun Gun.”

Joanna Jedrzejczyk

Rose Namajunas and Joanna Jedrzejczyk

Should fight: Namajunas
Why they should fight: After putting together one of the most dominant title runs in UFC history, Jedrzejczyk finally experienced her first career setback with an upset loss to Rose Namajunas to drop the 115-pound title.

Although it was a surprising and disappointing outcome for the Polish fighter, it’s obvious what has to happen for her next: an immediate rematch with Namajunas. The UFC often gives dominant titleholders an immediate chance to regain the belt, and Jedrzejczyk has more than earned that opportunity.

If there were a clear No. 1 contender who had been overdue for a title shot, then perhaps there would be an argument to go a different direction for Namajunas’ first title challenger. No such contender exists, so Jedrzejczyk vs. Namajunas 2 should be next.

Cody Garbrandt

Should fight: John Lineker
Why they should fight: Watch the video above to see why Garbrandt should fight Lineker (30-8 MMA, 11-3 UFC) next after his title-fight loss.

Michael Bisping

Should fight: Luke Rockhold
Why they should fight: Watch the video above to see why Bisping should have his trilogy bout with Rockhold (16-3 MMA, 6-2 UFC) following his title-fight loss.

For complete coverage of UFC 217, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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UFC 217 post-event facts: Record set as 3 new champs crowned in historic night

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UFC 217 will go down in the history books as one of the most memorable fight cards in UFC history. Underdogs reigned supreme as three new champions were crowned and a remarkable nine of 11 fights ended inside the distance.

With memorable action from beginning to end, the fact all three title bouts changed hands will be the cornerstone of UFC 217, which took place Saturday at Madison Square Garden in New York with a pay-per-view main card following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass.

In the main event, Georges St-Pierre (26-2 MMA, 20-2 UFC) returned from a four-year hiatus to take the middleweight title from Michael Bisping (30-8 MMA, 20-8 UFC). T.J. Dillashaw (15-3 MMA, 11-3 UFC) knocked out former teammate and rival Cody Garbrandt(11-1 MMA, 6-1 UFC) to take back the bantamweight title in the co-headliner, and in the most unexpected outcome of all, Rose Namajunas (7-3 MMA, 5-2 UFC) dethroned Joanna Jedrzejczyk (14-1 MMA, 8-1 UFC) of strawweight gold with a quick knockout.

The biggest UFC event of the year lived up to the hype, and it showed on paper. Check below for 50 post-event facts and footnotes to come out of UFC 217.

* * * *

General

UFC 217 became the first event in UFC history to have three new champions crowned.

The UFC-Reebok Athlete Outfitting payout for the event totaled $315,000.

St-Pierre, Dillashaw and Namajunas earned $50,000 UFC 217 fight-night bonuses. Ovince Saint Preux and Ricardo Ramos received $25,000 bonuses.

UFC 217 drew an announced attendance of 18,201 for a live gate of $6.2 million.

Betting favorites went 5-6 on the card.

Total fight time for the 11-bout card was 1:46:17.

Main card

Georges St-Pierre

St-Pierre became the fourth fighter in UFC history to win titles in two weight classes. Randy Couture, B.J. Penn and Conor McGregor have also accomplished the feat.

St-Pierre’s 13 victories in UFC championship fights are the most in company history.

St-Pierre’s 20 victories in UFC competition are tied with Bisping for most in company history.

St-Pierre’s 13-fight UFC winning streak is tied with champ Demetrious Johnson for longest among active fighters in the company. He hasn’t suffered a defeat since April 2007.

St-Pierre’s 13-fight UFC winning streak is tied with Johnson and Jon Jones for second longest in company history behind Anderson Silva (16).

St-Pierre earned his first submission victory since Dec. 29, 2007 – a span of 3,598 days (nearly 10 years) and 11 fights.

St-Pierre’s 87 takedowns landed in UFC competition are most in company history.

Michael Bisping

Bisping had his five-fight winning streak snapped for his first defeat since November 2014.

Bisping has suffered his past two losses by submission after going his entire career without being submitted.

Dillashaw’s 11 victories in UFC bantamweight competition are the most in divisional history.

Dillashaw’s 11 victories in UFC/WEC bantamweight competition are tied with Urijah Faber for second most in divisional history behind Dominick Cruz (12).

Dillashaw’s seven stoppage victories in UFC bantamweight competition are the most in divisional history.

Dillashaw’s six knockout victories in UFC bantamweight competition are most in divisional history.

T.J. Dillashaw

Dillashaw’s seven knockdowns landed in UFC bantamweight competition are second most in divisional history behind Garbrandt (eight).

Dillashaw’s seven fight-night bonuses for UFC bantamweight bouts are the most in divisional history.

Garbrandt became the first UFC bantamweight champion to lose the title before making a successful defense.

Garbrandt had his 11-fight winning streak snapped for the first defeat of his career.

Garbrandt’s eight knockdowns landed in UFC bantamweight competition are the most in divisional history.

Rose Namajunas

Namajunas became the third UFC strawweight champion.

Namajunas’ five victories in UFC strawweight competition are tied with Tecia Torres for second most in divisional history behind Jedrzejczyk (eight).

Namajunas’ four stoppage victories in UFC strawweight competition are the most in divisional history.

Namajunas earned the first knockout victory of her career.

Jedrzejczyk had her 14-fight winning streak snapped for the first defeat of her professional career.

Stephen Thompson’s (14-2-1 MMA, 9-2-1 UFC) nine knockdowns landed in UFC welterweight competition are tied for third most in divisional history behind Thiago Alves (13) and Jake Ellenberger (11).

Jorge Masvidal (32-13 MMA, 9-6 UFC) fell to 4-4 since he returned to the welterweight division in July 2015.

Masvidal has suffered 10 of his 13 career losses by decision. That includes all five of his UFC defeats.

Paulo Costa

Paulo Costa (11-0 MMA, 3-0 UFC) has earned all 11 of his career victories by stoppage.

Costa has earned 10 of his 11 career victories by knockout. That includes all three of his UFC wins.

Johny Hendricks (18-8 MMA, 13-8 UFC) fell to 1-2 since he moved up to the UFC middleweight division in February.

Hendricks fell to 1-5 in his past six fights.

Hendricks has suffered all three of his career stoppage losses by knockout.

Preliminary card

Joseph Duffy (16-3 MMA, 4-2 UFC) suffered the first knockout loss of his career.

Walt Harris (10-7 MMA, 3-6 UFC) suffered his second UFC loss in a 28-day stretch.

Harris fell to 3-3 since he returned to the UFC for a second stint in April 2016.

Ovince Saint Preux

Ovince Saint Preux (22-10 MMA, 10-5 UFC) earned his second UFC victory in a 42-day stretch.

Saint Preux’s three-fight UFC winning streak in light-heavyweight competition is tied with Mauricio Rua and Volkan Oezdemir for the longest active streak in the division.

Saint Preux’s eight stoppage victories since 2013 in UFC competition are most in the light-heavyweight division and tied with Derrick Lewis and Max Holloway for second most in the company behind Donald Cerrone (nine).

Saint Preux has earned 17 of his 22 career victories by stoppage. That includes eight of his 10 UFC wins.

Corey Anderson (9-3 MMA, 6-3 UFC) has suffered all three of his career stoppage losses by knockout.

Mickey Gall

Mickey Gall (4-1 MMA, 3-1 UFC) had his four-fight winning streak snapped for the first defeat of his career.

Curtis Blaydes (8-1 MMA, 3-1 UFC) has earned seven of his eight career victories by stoppage, all by knockout.

Aleksei Oleinik (52-11-1 MMA, 4-2 UFC) suffered his first knockout loss since July 22, 2011 – a span of 2,297 days (more than six years) and 15 fights.

Ramos (11-1 MMA, 2-0 UFC) has earned nine of his 11 career victories by stoppage.

Ramos became the second fighter in UFC history to earn a knockout victory stemming from a spinning back elbow. Dong Hyun Kim also accomplished the feat The Ultimate Fighter China Finale.

Aiemann Zahabi (7-1 MMA, 1-1 UFC) had his seven-fight winning streak snapped for the first defeat of her career.

For complete coverage of UFC 217, 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.

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