Elias Theodorou happy he gets to haunt Daniel Kelly's dreams after UFC-Sydney

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SYDNEY – Elias Theodorou was no stranger to Daniel Kelly before they threw down at UFC Fight Night 121 on Saturday.

But after his unanimous decision win, Theodorou (14-2 MMA, 6-2 UFC) went into some detail about an altercation he had with Kelly (13-3 MMA, 6-3 UFC) a couple days before their middleweight fight at Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney. Their fight aired on the main card on FS1 following early prelims on UFC Fight Pass.

“In some of the media, he was calling me two-faced,” Theodorou said after the fight. “After (media day), we said, ‘Is it OK if we take the elevator with you?’ After the door shut, he says, ‘You know what, mother(expletive)?’ and starts cussing at me.

“He goes, ‘You’re gonna act all two-faced and say you’re gonna be my friend? None of this stuff.’ And he goes, ‘It doesn’t matter. We’re gonna fight and I’m never gonna see you again.’”

Theodorou and Kelly were in the house together on the UFC’s “Nations” season of “The Ultimate Fighter,” which pitted fighters from Canada (Theororou) against fighters from Australia (Kelly).

But with his win in the books, it sounds like Theodorou isn’t harboring any hard feelings with the 40-year-old Kelly, who was a four-time Olympian in judo for Australia.

“Now I get to haunt him in his dreams,” Theodorou said. “But the important thing is, I have no animosity toward him. It’s a true honor stepping in the cage with him. … I didn’t shake his hand in the beginning (of the fight), but I did in the third round because it was a true honor.”

Theodorou won that aforementioned “TUF: Nations” season with a TKO of Sheldon Westcott in April 2014, then won two more fights for a perfect 11-0 start to his career and 3-0 in the UFC. After a loss to Thiago Santos, he got back on the right track with wins over Sam Alvey and Cezar Ferreira.

But in July, he dropped a decision to Brad Tavares. So the win over Kelly was huge to keep Theodorou from the first skid of his career, but also to get him back toward putting together another streak if he wants to be a middleweight contender.

“I’ve still got to go back to the drawing board,” he said. “For now, I’m happy I won against a really tough guy and I’m back on a win streak. Obviously, there’s things I could’ve done better.

“… He’s resilient. He’s a true warrior – especially someone in his fourth decade. He’s been doing judo longer than I’ve been on this earth. As someone that’s only been doing martial arts for eight years in any capacity – and six of those years I’ve been professional – I’m always growing and I’m learning. And I have to do that from this fight.”

For more from Theodoroou, check out the video above.

And for complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 121, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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UFC Fight Night 121 results: Elias Theodorou outworks Daniel Kelly for unanimous decision

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No matter how much Elias Theodorou kicked Daniel Kelly, Kelly wouldn’t go away – and even put Theodorou in trouble a time or two.

But ultimately, Theodorou (14-2 MMA, 6-2 UFC) just had too much output for Kelly (13-3 MMA, 6-3 UFC) on his way to a unanimous decision win. The Canadian topped the Australian home fan favorite with scores of 30-28, 30-27, 30-26.

The middleweight bout was part of the main card of today’s UFC Fight Night 121 event at at Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney. It aired on FS1 following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass.

Theodorou kicked at Kelly’s lead leg right away – a lead leg that was wrapped in a brace. Theodorou then kicked to the body and circled outside. But Kelly pushed forward offering up the potential for heavy hands. Theodorou landed another body kick, then ducked away from a looping punch from Kelly. When Kelly tried to push forward, Theodorou kicked up the middle. Two minutes in, they tied up – and Kelly just missed a left hand.

Theodorou stayed outside and tried to make Kelly chase him down. When Kelly got close, Theodorou tried to jump off the cage for a kick. Theodorou kept kicking to the body, then up high, but Kelly kept stalking. They tied up with 30 seconds left, but Kelly couldn’t get Theodorou to the ground.

Kelly aggressively came forward in the second and got a tie-up early in the round. Theodorou kicked on the break and always seemed just barely out of range of potential danger from Kelly. But 90 seconds in, Kelly finally got his judo to work. He tripped Theodorou to the canvas, though he couldn’t keep him there long. Two minutes into the round, Theodorou landed a kick too low and Kelly got a break.

On the restart, Theodorou landed a kick to the leg, then two to the body. Midway through, Kelly again tried to tie him up and landed a left hand just before the break. But Theodorou kicked him several times in the head, all partially blocked, before returning to kicks at the lead leg. With 90 seconds left, another left hand from Kelly found the mark and he clinched him up again. Kelly tried to throw Theodorou again with a minute left, but couldn’t finish it.

In the third, Theodorou landed to the lead leg once more, then to the body. It looked like Kelly was starting to be bothered by the leg kicks, but he fired back with his own heavy body kick and got a roar from his homd fans. The two exchanged wildly near the fence, and Kelly tied Theodorou up and dragged him to the ground. Kelly wrapped up a rear-naked choke, but Theodorou fought it off and popped his head off. He used it to nearly take Kelly’s back midway through the round. He landed a pair of knees, then kept Kelly clinched up.

Kelly got the break with two minutes left, then had to eat some more kicks from Theodorou. Theodorou did his best to stay out of Kelly’s range in the final minute and cicrled outside, but with 40 seconds left Kelly tied him up again looking for one final takedown. He couldn’t get it, and Theodorou cruised to the horn.

“I am proud to get a win over such an accomplished martial artist,” Theodorou said. “He’s been practicing judo since before I was born and is a skilled technician. I had to take him very seriously. I knew that the guys who he’s beaten tried to stand and box with him, so I decided to use my reach advantage and my kicks to control the tempo of the fight.”

Theodorou is back in the win column after a decision loss to Brad Tavares in July. He has won three of his past four. Kelly lost for the second straight time, which includes a 76-second knockout loss to Derek Brunson in June. It’s the first skid of his MMA career.

Up-to-the-minute UFC Fight Night 121 results include:

For complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 121, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

(MMAjunkie’s John Morgan contributed to this report on site in Sydney.)

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Source: MMA Junkie

How is ol' man Daniel Kelly dealing with 'massive, massive disappointment'?

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SYDNEY – After a four-fight winning streak came to an abrupt end, how is 40-year-old Daniel Kelly dealing with the setback?

With his trademark optimism and fortitude, as usual.

Kelly (13-2 MMA, 6-2 UFC), who meets fellow middleweight Elias Theodorou (13-2 MMA, 5-2 UFC) on Saturday at UFC Fight Night 121, was inching up the 185-pound ladder with a solid winning streak, but in his most recent bout, he suffered a 76-second knockout loss to Derek Brunson.

How’d it feel to deal with such an untimely setback?

“Massive disappointment – massive, massive disappointment,” the fan favorite told MMAjunkie. “We were on a really good run. We won like four in a row, something like that. And everything was good.

“(The loss) was my fault. I made mistakes. So, you can’t make mistakes at that level. You saw what (Brunson) did to (Lyoto) Machida that next fight. And Brunson is an awesome, awesome competitor. So, it was very disappointing. All you can do is get back to the drawing board.”

He looks to do just that when he meets Theodorou in an FS1-televised main-card bout at Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney. For the four-time Australian Olympic judoka, he’s likely going to be a massive crowd favorite.

But Kelly also knows he has a tough challenge in Theodorou, a fellow vet of “The Ultimate Fighter.” After all, Theodorou has defeated the two of the three opponents who have beaten Kelly since the Australian turned to pro MMA in 2006 – Sam Alvey and Sheldon Westcott (in a “TUF” exhibition bout).

And sure, some folks close to him may have preferred that Kelly call it a career after the Brunson loss. But despite a couple decades of combat-sports experience and Father Time peering over his shoulder, Kelly isn’t quite ready to call it quits.

“At the end of the day, I think I’m a good representation for the sport and how I conduct myself and all of that,” he said. “So, there’s still a little but of gas in there, in the tank. So I’ll get going for a little bit longer.”

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

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UFC-Sydney staff picks: Who got unanimous nods in Australia?

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Werdum
vs.
Tybura
Clark
vs.
Rawlings
Means
vs.
Muhammad
Matthews
vs.
Velickovic
Kelly
vs.
Theodorou
Volkanovski
vs.
Young
MMAjunkie readers’
consensus picks
2017: 112-74
werdum2017
Werdum
(79%)
rawlings2017
Rawlings
(62%)
means2017
Means
(66%)
matthews2017
Matthews
(66%)
theodorou2017
Theodorou
(64%)
volkanovski2017
Volkanovski
(88%)
Simon Samano
@SJSamano
2017: 117-69
werdum2017
Werdum
rawlings2017
Rawlings
means2017
Means
matthews2017
Matthews
theodorou2017
Theodorou
volkanovski2017
Volkanovski
Dann Stupp
@DannStupp
2017: 116-70
trophy copy 2015 Champion
werdum2017
Werdum
rawlings2017
Rawlings
means2017
Means
matthews2017
Matthews
theodorou2017
Theodorou
volkanovski2017
Volkanovski
Brian Garcia
@thegoze
2017: 115-71
werdum2017
Werdum
jroseclark2017
Clark
means2017
Means
matthews2017
Matthews
theodorou2017
Theodorou
volkanovski2017
Volkanovski
Steven Marrocco @MMAjunkieSteven
2017: 115-71
werdum2017
Werdum
rawlings2017
Rawlings
means2017
Means
matthews2017
Matthews
theodorou2017
Theodorou
volkanovski2017
Volkanovski
Ben Fowlkes @BenFowlkesMMA
2017: 115-71
trophy copy 2016 Champion
werdum2017
Werdum
rawlings2017
Rawlings
means2017
Means
matthews2017
Matthews
theodorou2017
Theodorou
volkanovski2017
Volkanovski
Fernanda Prates @nandaprates_
2017: 110-76
werdum2017
Werdum
rawlings2017
Rawlings
means2017
Means
matthews2017
Matthews
kelly2017
Kelly
volkanovski2017
Volkanovski
George Garcia @MMAjunkieGeorge
2017: 109-77
werdum2017
Werdum
rawlings2017
Rawlings
means2017
Means
matthews2017
Matthews
kelly2017
Kelly
volkanovski2017
Volkanovski
John Morgan @MMAjunkieJohn
2017: 108-78
werdum2017
Werdum
rawlings2017
Rawlings
muhammad2017
Muhammad
matthews2017
Matthews
kelly2017
Kelly
volkanovski2017
Volkanovski
Mike Bohn @MikeBohnMMA
2017: 106-80
trophy copy 2014 Champion
werdum2017
Werdum
rawlings2017
Rawlings
means2017
Means
matthews2017
Matthews
theodorou2017
Theodorou
volkanovski2017
Volkanovski
Matt Erickson @MMAjunkieMatt
2017: 106-80
werdum2017
Werdum
rawlings2017
Rawlings
muhammad2017
Muhammad
matthews2017
Matthews
theodorou2017
Theodorou
volkanovski2017
Volkanovski

The UFC is back in Australia this week and one of the world’s great destination cities: Sydney.

UFC Fight Night 121 takes place Sunday (but airs live on Saturday in North America due to the time difference) at Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney. It airs on FS1 following early prelims on UFC Fight Pass.

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

In the main event, former heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum (22-7-1 MMA, 10-4 UFC) takes on Marcin Tybura (16-2 MMA, 3-1 UFC), who is filling in for Mark Hunt. Werdum is more than a 3-1 favorite, and he’s also one of a pair of unanimous picks on the main card from our 10 MMAjunkie editors, writers and radio hosts.

Also a unanimous pick, welterweight Jake Matthews (10-3 MMA, 4-3 UFC) fights in front of his home fans in Australia and is a 10-0 choice over Bojan Velickovic (15-5-1 MMA, 2-2-1 UFC). The other unanimous pick comes in the fight that opens the main card. Australian featherweight Alex Volkanovski (15-1 MMA, 2-0 UFC) is as much as an 8-1 favorite over short-notice replacement Shane Young (11-3 MMA, 0-0 UFC), and to little surprise is a 10-0 pick from our staff.

In the co-feature, a pair of Australian women battle at flyweight when another short-notice fighter, Jessica-Rose Clark (7-4 MMA, 0-0 UFC), takes on Bec Rawlings (7-6 MMA, 2-3 UFC). The oddsmakers have the fight as a close one, with Rawlings just a slight favorite. But she’s a 9-1 overwhelming choice from our pickers.

Also on the main card, Tim Means (27-8-1 MMA, 9-5 UFC) is an 8-2 choice over Belal Muhammad (12-2 MMA, 3-2 UFC) in their welterweight fight. And Canada’s Elias Theodorou (13-2 MMA, 5-2 UFC) is a 7-3 pick over Australia’s own Daniel Kelly (13-2 MMA, 6-2 UFC) in their middleweight fight.

In the MMAjunkie reader consensus picks, Werdum, Rawlings, Means, Matthews, Theodorou and Volkanovski are the choices.

Check out all the picks above.

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

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UFC-Sydney in-depth breakdown: Stylistic matchups, fight picks, best bets and fantasy studs

MMAjunkie Radio cohost and MMAjunkie contributor Dan Tom provides an in-depth breakdown of all of UFC Fight Night 121’s main-card bouts.

UFC Fight Night 121 takes place Sunday (but airs live on Saturday in North America due to the time difference) at Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney. It airs on FS1 following early prelims on UFC Fight Pass.

Fabricio Werdum (21-7-1 MMA, 10-4 UFC)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’4″ Age: 40 Weight: 242 lbs. Reach: 77″
  • Last fight: Submission win over Walt Harris (Oct. 7, 2017)
  • Camp: Kings MMA (California)
  • Stance/striking style: Orthodox / Muay Thai
  • Risk management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+ Former UFC heavyweight champion
+ Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt
+ 6 KO victories
+ 11 submission wins
+ 10 first-round finishes
+ KO power
+ Dynamic attack arsenal
+ Deceptively effective showman
^ Baits/taunts opposition into game
+ Dangerous from Thai plum
+/- Aggressive in exchanges
^ Counter availabilities
+ Superb submission and ground game
+ Excellent sweeps and scrambles
+ Thrives and capitalizes in chaos

Marcin Tybura (16-2 MMA, 3-1 UFC)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’3″ Age: 32 Weight: 243 lbs. Reach: 78″
  • Last fight: Decision win over Andrei Arlovski (June 6, 2017)
  • Camp: Jackson-Wink MMA (New Mexico)
  • Stance/striking style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+ Multiple heavyweight MMA titles
+ Brazilian jiu-jitsu brown belt
+ 7 KO victories
+ 6 submission wins
+ 9 first-round finishes
+ KO power
+ Improved striking combinations
^ Good economy of movement
+ Accurate kicks and knees
^ Works well off of lead leg
+ Strong inside of the clinch
^ Sneaky elbows and solid defense
+ Underrated wrestling ability
^ Well-timed takedowns
+ Excellent transitional grappler
^ Floats, rides, finds way to back

Summary:

The main event in Sydney features a heavyweight showdown between Fabricio Werdum and Marcin Tybura.

Coming off of an impromptu matchup against Walt Harris last month, Werdum, the former champion, will step in for Mark Hunt and attempt to take out another young gun.

Seeking to stop the Brazilian is Tybura, a Polish prospect who is riding a three-fight winning streak, most recently defeating another former champ in Andrei Arlovski.

Despite being criticized early on for his lack of striking presence, Tybura has steadily developed a kickboxing game since coming into the UFC.

Actively prodding with a jab, Tybura will casually add in his right hand, variating between casting punches or hammerfists. Like many Eastern European and Russian kickboxers, Tybura typically punctuates combinations with kicks off of his lead leg.

When using strikes to mask his clinch entries, Tybura has shown a good sense about where potential danger may be coming from, as he now does a better job of moving his head appropriately with his punches. And considering that the Pole has spent this training camp stateside at Jackson-Wink MMA, I can only imagine that his game has continued to grow.

But regardless of Tybura’s potential growth, his counterpart – though a grappling champion – may be his stiffest striking test to date.

Under the care of Rafael Cordeiro, Werdum has steadily parlayed his sporadic showmanship into more of a pressure-fighting process. Putting together his punches more fluidly, the Brazilian will finish his combinations with hard kicks or knees in the clinch.

However, when not throwing in combination, he has a tendency to throw his kicks naked and without setup, as Werdum has been dropped in four of his last nine outings due to right hands finding their mark. That said, many of the former champion’s falls may have been arguable flops given that he is known for his in-cage baits and showmanship.

Akin to a basketball player trying to draw an offensive foul, Werdum will deceptively roll with punches as he relinquishes to his back. Although this may not win Werdum favor with the fans and judges, there is a method to his madness.

Presenting the ambush known as his guard game, Werdum offers up a unique predicament to all who approach.

As we’ve seen time-and-time-again, the Brazilian can submit world champions here – but more importantly, he creates situations to sweep and scramble his way topside, often utilizing deep-half and X-guard variations to escape out the back door.

If Werdum’s opposition decides not to pursue him into deep waters, then they inherently let him off the hook if he is in fact hurt, or give him a breather to recover at the very least. This tactic has stifled the best of killer instincts and has allowed the former champion back into many of fights.

Nevertheless, Werdum cannot get too comfortable in his comfort zone, as Tybura is no novice.

An accomplished brown belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Tybura has translated his grappling game seamlessly into MMA. Doing his best work when on top, the Pole utilizes positioning fundamentals and shoulder pressure to help persuade opposition into giving their back.

Once Tybura can establish some form of mount, he will quickly get to work with strikes to help set up his submission efforts. And though this type of route is highly unlikely against a competitor the caliber of Werdum, Tybura still has the skills to perhaps strategically score points on top, making any potential grappling stanzas even more compelling.

If neither man is successful in getting to the mat on their terms, then crucial parts of this contest will take place in the clinch.

Inside of close quarters, Tybura offers slick elbows off of forearm frames and a solid awareness of hip positioning and underhooks. Still, I side with Werdum in this space, as the Brazilian has developed a devastating Thai clinch since his second run with the promotion.

Currently, the oddsmakers and public have Werdum pegged as the clear favorite to win. But as recent UFC cards have proven, 3-1 odds in a heavyweight matchup can be a tricky and treacherous thing.

Even though Werdum is the better on-paper fighter who has a higher finishing potential both standing and on the floor, I could easily see a scenario where Tybura catches him at the end of a combination. The problem – in my opinion – is that Tybura ultimately allows for too much of the fight’s flow to be decided by his opponent.

For this reason, Tybura can be subject to making fights closer than they arguably should, as he often finds himself stuck against the fence and or short on initiative (and possibly gas). Should Tybura allow for Werdum to establish his pressure and presence, then I see the former champion steadily picking apart the Pole on the feet, and eventually finding his finish on the floor.

Official pick: Werdum inside the distance

Official outcome: To be determined

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Source: MMA Junkie

UFC Fight Night 121 media day face-offs: Sorry, there were no boomerangs

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SYDNEY – While former UFC heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum has been involved in the biggest headlines surrounding this week’s UFC Fight Night 121 event in Australia, “Vai Cavalo” was a bit more subdued on stage today when standing across from opponent Marcin Tybura.

UFC Fight Night 121 takes place Saturday (Sunday locally) at Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney. It airs on FS1 following early prelims on UFC Fight Pass.

Standing in stark contrast to this week’s hotel-lobby clash, Werdum (22-7-1 MMA, 10-4 UFC) and Tybura (16-2 MMA, 3-1 UFC) were respectful during a quick meeting on stage at a ballroom inside this week’s host hotel. The same stood for the session’s other featured athletes, including Elias Theodorou (13-2 MMA, 5-2 UFC) vs. Daniel Kelly (13-2 MMA, 6-2 UFC), Alex Volkanovski (15-1 MMA, 2-0 UFC) vs. Shane Young (11-3 MMA, 0-0 UFC) and Rashad Coulter (8-2 MMA, 0-1 UFC) vs. Tai Tuivasa (7-0 MMA, 0-0 UFC).

Check out the video above to see this week’s media day face-offs.

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

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MMAjunkie reader predictions: Make your picks for UFC Fight Night 121 in Sydney

We want your predictions for Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 121 event in Australia.

Our staff picks feature includes the consensus picks from MMAjunkie readers. Simply cast your vote for each bout below, and we’ll use the official tallies that are registered by Thursday at noon ET (9 a.m. PT).

Those MMAjunkie MMA reader consensus picks will be part of the UFC Fight Night 121 staff picks we release Friday ahead of the event. UFC Fight Night 121 takes place Sunday (but airs live on Saturday in North America due to the time difference at Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney. It airs on FS1 following early prelims on UFC Fight Pass.

* * * *

Fabricio Werdum vs. Marcin Tybura

Records: Fabricio Werdum (22-7-1 MMA, 10-4 UFC), Marcin Tybura (16-2 MMA, 3-1 UFC)
Past five: Werdum 3-2, Tybura 4-1
Division: Heavyweight
Rankings: Werdum No. 3, Tybura honorable mention
Odds (as of 11/13/17): Werdum -360, Tybura +300

Take Our Poll
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Jessica-Rose Clark vs. Bec Rawlings

Records: Jessica-Rose Clark (7-4 MMA, 0-0 UFC), Bec Rawlings (7-6 MMA, 2-3 UFC)
Past five: Rawling 2-3, Clark 2-2 (one no-contest)
Division: Women’s flyweight
Rankings: None
Odds (as of 11/13/17): Rawlings -150, Clark +130

Take Our Poll
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Tim Means vs. Belal Muhammad

Records: Tim Means (27-8-1 MMA, 9-5 UFC), Belal Muhammad (12-2 MMA, 3-2 UFC)
Past five: Means 3-1 (one no-contest), Muhammad 3-2
Division: Welterweight
Rankings: None
Odds (as of 11/13/17): Means -260, Muhammad +220

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Jake Matthews vs. Bojan Velickovic

Records: Jake Matthews (10-3 MMA, 4-3 UFC), Bojan Velickovic (15-5-1 MMA, 2-2-1 UFC)
Past five: Matthews 2-3, Velickovic 2-2-1
Division: Welterweight
Rankings: None
Odds (as of 11/13/17): Matthews -150, Velickovic +130

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Daniel Kelly vs. Elias Theodorou

Records: Daniel Kelly (13-2 MMA, 6-2 UFC), Elias Theodorou (13-2 MMA, 5-2 UFC)
Past five: Kelly 4-1, Theodorou 3-2
Division: Middleweight
Rankings: None
Odds (as of 11/13/17): Theodorou -260, Kelly +200

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Alex Volkanovski vs. Shane Young

Records: Alex Volkanovski (15-1 MMA, 2-0 UFC), Shane Young (11-3 MMA, 0-0 UFC)
Past five: Volkanovski 5-0, Young 5-0
Division: Heavyweight
Rankings: None
Odds (as of 11/13/17): Theodorou -260, Young +200

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

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Filed under: News
Source: MMA Junkie

Daniel Kelly vs. Elias Theodorou slated for UFC Fight Night 121 in Australia

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November’s UFC return to Australia has a new middleweight bout.

Officials recently announced a UFC Fight Night 121 matchup with Daniel Kelly (13-2 MMA, 6-2 UFC) vs. Elias Theodorou (13-2 MMA, 5-2 UFC).

UFC Fight Night 121 takes place Nov. 19 (but airs in the U.S. on Nov. 18 due to time difference) at Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney. It’s expected to air on FS1 following early prelims on UFC Fight Pass, though the full fight card and bout order haven’t been finalized.

Both Kelly and Theodorou were previously ranked but currently reside outside of the top 15 of the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA middleweight rankings.

Kelly, a 39-year-old Australian fan favorite, was riding high with a four-fight winning streak that included a split-decision victory over former champ Rashad Evans. However, in his most recent bout, the four-time Olympic judoka suffered a quick 76-second loss to Derek Brunson in June’s UFC Fight Night 110 co-headliner.

He looks to rebound against a fellow fan fave in Theodorou, a 29-year-old Canadian who won “The Ultimate Fighter Nations: Canada vs. Australia” in 2014. It was part of a promising 5-1 start to his UFC career. However, in his most recent bout, Theodorou suffered a unanimous-decision defeat to vet Brad Tavares at The Ultimate Fighter 25 Finale in July.

The latest UFC Fight Night 121 card includes:

  • Mark Hunt vs. Marcin Tybura
  • Joanne Calderwood vs. Bec Rawlings
  • Belal Muhammad vs. Jesse Taylor
  • Jeremy Kennedy vs. Alex Volkanovski
  • Rashad Coulter vs. Tai Tuivasa
  • Ryan Benoit vs. Ashkan Mokhtarian
  • Alex Chambers vs. Nadia Kassem
  • Daniel Kelly vs. Elias Theodorou

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

Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

Twitter Mailbag: Was post-fight Jon Jones the real one, or just a convincing fake?

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In this week’s Twitter Mailbag, was the UFC light-heavyweight champion extending a sincere olive branch to his vanquished challenger, and where does all this leave the former champ’s legacy? Plus, is GSP-Bisping the fight that no one but the participants has been asking for? And can you really blackmail your way into an apology from the UFC president?

All that and more in this edition of the TMB. To ask a question of your own, tweet it to @BenFowlkesMMA.

* * * *

I think he was being sincere. The things Jon Jones said about Daniel Cormier immediately after the fight were not so different from what he said about him a few days before the fight. Talking to reporters after the open workouts, Jones called Cormier “a good (expletive) dude” and admitted to liking him as a person. What stopped them from getting along, he said, was that Cormier had this weird hangup that simply wouldn’t allow him to admit that Jones was better than he was.

Now, we hear that and we can spot the ridiculousness in the argument. Of course Cormier can’t admit that. He’s one of the best fighters in the world. His whole life is about being the absolute best. He’s not killing himself in the gym just to be second place. How could Jones not realize that?

I think the answer has to do with the inherent narcissism that comes with being the best fighter in the world. It’s so obvious to Jones that everyone else is just a character in his story. So why can’t they see it, and just be happy to have a supporting role in the great drama?

That’s where his head seemed to be at before the fight. Once Jones had knocked out Cormier, then he was free to let his guard down and admit that Cormier was a good guy and a great fighter. Why not? If you praise him now, it just makes you seem greater for having beaten him. And it’s not like anybody will get confused about who the best is while Cormier is stumbling around off-camera.

So yes, I think he meant every word. I also don’t think for one second that he would have uttered anything close to that if he’d lost.

The book isn’t closed on Cormier just yet. He could stick around at light heavyweight and still trash nearly everyone in the top 15. Or he could go to heavyweight and end up fighting for the title by this time next year. A lot depends on what he wants to do next, so it’s hard to make too many sweeping statements about his legacy.

That said, if it ends here? I wouldn’t be surprised if the collective conventional wisdom fails to give Cormier his due. He was champion in the absence of Jones, that’s true. In a different era, he might have been his own dynasty. In my book, that puts him ahead of Tito Ortiz and somewhere right behind Chuck Liddell. Both those guys should be glad they came along before Jones did.

Yes. However he wants.

Tempers seem to have cooled somewhat between Tyron Woodley and UFC President Dana White, but you’re right, that was not a great strategic move on the champ’s part. The problem with trying to blackmail your way into an apology is that even if you get what you want, what does it really mean? An apology given just to stop something bad from happening is completely insincere, thus defeating the entire point.

Then there’s the question of what you’re supposed to do about it if you don’t get the apology. Assuming Woodley really does have damaging info on the UFC, leaking it because the boss hurt his feelings would probably not improve his relationship with his employers. It also doesn’t turn him into some hero of transparency in the eyes of the public, because he already told us that the only reason he was telling secrets is because White wouldn’t say he was sorry.

Of course, if White doesn’t give you that public apology and then you back down from your leak threat anyway, it just makes you look weak and desperate.

That brings us to what actually happened in the end to resolve this situation (at least for now). According to White, he spoke to Woodley privately and smoothed things over. Also according to White, Woodley explained his outrage and his threats by saying that “he was just pissed and upset and didn’t mean it.” Maybe it’s just the source, but it kind of sounds like the apology went in the opposite direction.

I see the logic at work here, but how do you enforce something like that? Especially when MMA referees seem to have such a hard time enforcing the existing rules. What, do we require fighters to tell the ref in advance what they’re game plan is, so the ref can be on higher alert for illegal moves that might nullify it? Is the ref then required to share that info with the opponent, so he can know which type of cheating will be more severely punished?

The only fix I can see is that we either allow fence-grabbing or we don’t. And if we don’t, then why aren’t fighters punished as soon as they do it? It’s not like they’re learning the rules on the fly. And a fence grab isn’t like throwing an inside leg kick and accidentally hitting the groin. It’s something you can only do on purpose. So why aren’t you penalized the moment you do it, regardless of what your opponent’s game plan is?

There’s a growing sense that this is the fight no one asked for outside of Michael Bisping and Georges St-Pierre themselves. And that’s funny, since the reason they both seem so intent on it is because they’re convinced it will make a lot of money. But how does it make money if fans are lukewarm about it?

It’s possible that we’re just suffering from hype fatigue. They’re been talking this fight up for over a year, and still nothing. Maybe by the time it actually happens we’ll have changed our tune. The return of GSP is always going to be a big deal, and Bisping is so easily hatable whenever he opens his mouth that you know he’ll convince some people to pay just on the hope that he’ll get beaten up.

But right now? I can’t say I’m excited. There are so many compelling fights for Bisping at middleweight, and welterweight is going to need some help very soon. The more I think about this fight, the more it seems like we’re all being asked to go along so that the already rich guys can make more money. Maybe it’s just me, but that is not a compelling sales pitch.

Oh, Cameron. Are you really going to force me to be the jerk who points out that there is a difference between being a legend and just being old? Not that I don’t have a lot of affection for Daniel Kelly, who seems awesome, but he’s also 13-2 at the age of 39. Sam Alvey beat him in 2015, when he had to cover slightly fewer body parts in supportive wrap, but he still wasn’t exactly a young sprout back then.

Rashad Evans is a slightly different story (even if he does have a recent split-decision loss to Kelly). He’s also edging into his late 30s, but he’s a former UFC light-heavyweight champion. Then again, he’s on a three-fight losing skid and has dropped five of his past seven.

You really want to know how far this is from being a part of any kind of legends tour? Just look at where it is, in the middle of the main card at UFC Fight Night 114 in Mexico City, on the week after the biggest pay-per-view of the year. Does that seem like where you’d stick your legends, if you thought they still qualified as such?

I suspect you are not the only one, especially since the UFC chief recently went out of his way to disparage both champions who are slated to defend their titles at UFC 215. Plus, those other three fights each feature a former champ, and they’re all likely to be exciting, competitive matchups.

That makes you wonder how they’ll do on pay-per-view, doesn’t it? We know that the UFC has written Demetrious Johnson off as box-office poison. Amanda Nunes hasn’t been a huge draw either, and is probably less of one after pulling out of UFC 213 and getting scorched by the boss for it. But that undercard? How do you not pony up the dough to see those fights? Even if you’re not that interested in what follows.

This feels a little like a return to the old UFC strategy, back before it could rely on any one fighter to sell tons of PPVs. If the main attraction won’t do it, you have to make your case in the aggregate. Honestly, this lineup looks like a pretty good way of doing just that.

From the sound of it, Volkan Oezdemir likes that fight too, and he’s even suggested that the winner would be dubbed “the real king of Europe,” which is obviously pretty awesome.

If I’m Alexander Gustafsson, I might rather wait for Jones. But if Jones is holding out for a big money fight with someone like Brock Lesnar, how long does Gustafsson really want to sit around waiting and not making money?

As for whether “No Time” has it in him to be the division’s new knockout artist, early indicators are good. But let’s not forget that in recent years there’s been a major drop-off in talent in that division once you get past the top three or four. If Oezdemir wants to prove he belongs in that elite club, Gustafsson’s a tough test to get in.

Ben Fowlkes is MMAjunkie and USA TODAY’s MMA columnist. Follow him on Twitter at @BenFowlkesMMA. Twitter Mailbag appears every Thursday on MMAjunkie.

Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

UFC-Auckland's 10 memorable moments, including Derrick Lewis' bombshell

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UFC Fight Night 110 started off slowly. The first four fights went the distance, but when things picked up steam, the card moved along rather nicely with all but one of the final six bouts ending in a finish. Those finishes included the heavyweight main event between Mark Hunt and Derrick Lewis.

Lewis entered the FS1-televised headliner on a six-fight winning streak, but despite his best efforts, he was unable to extend that streak to seven, and instead, he tasted defeat for the first time in almost two years. During the four-round contest, Lewis went deep into his bag of tricks, attempting high kicks, flying knees and even thinking about a spinning kick, but Hunt calmly took everything he had to offer. And when his opponent’s gas tank hit empty, Hunt closed the deal with strikes against the fence.

In the co-main event, another winning streak came to a close as fan favorite Daniel Kelly fell to Derek Brunson via knockout in less than 90 seconds.

UFC Fight Night 110 took place Saturday at Spark Arena in Auckland, New Zealand.

Here are 10 memorable moments from the event.

1. Sticking around

The Hunt (13-11-1 MMA, 8-5-1 UFC) and Lewis (18-5 MMA, 9-3 UFC) bout lasted longer than many expected, grinding along until late in the fourth round. The end came when an exhausted Lewis put his hands on his hips and backed into the fence, where Hunt delivered a few strikes before referee Marc Goddard waved off the contest.

The finish was more whimper than bang, but it showed that even at 43, Hunt remains a force in the UFC heavyweight division.

After his victory, Hunt, the oldest fighter in the UFC, said he plans on sticking around until he fights out the reported six-fight deal he signed in April 2016.

“I like to get beat up,” Hunt told MMAjunkie. “Shucks, there’s nothing else I’m good at. But I’ve got a couple of fights I want to finish. Why not see the contract out and then retire?”

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2. Somebody’s watching me

“It’s probably my last fight,” Lewis told UFC commentator Brian Stann after his loss to Hunt. “I’m getting married next week, and I don’t like to put my family through this. That will be my last fight.”

We all know MMA retirements have a tendency not to last, especially when they come seconds after a loss in a big fight. That didn’t stop two of Lewis’ fellow UFC heavyweights from commenting on his possible retirement via social media.

Travis Browne, whom Lewis knocked out in February, questioned Lewis’ heart in an Instagram post and offered to run back their fight, while up and coming Francis Ngannou tweeted that Hunt beat Lewis “like a baby.”

3. Back on track

Between August 2014 and September 2016, Brunson ran off five straight middleweight wins, with four victories coming via first-round knockout. Brunson’s stock took a hit after he dropped his next two fights, losing to Robert Whittaker and Anderson Silva. Expect a market correction when it comes to Brunson (17-5 MMA, 8-3 UFC) after his first-round knockout win over Kelly (13-2 MMA, 6-2 UFC).

Brunson faced criticism for his style in the Whittaker and Silva fights. He was reckless against Whittaker and not aggressive enough against Silva. Brunson found a middle ground vs. Kelly by throwing out jabs and kicks to measure distance and timing, and when he saw an opening, he threw a hard left that dropped Kelly. A few hammerfists later, Brunson was back in the win column while bringing an abrupt end to Kelly’s four-fight winning streak.

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4. Move pays off

Dan Hooker joined the UFC’s featherweight division following a run as the Australian Fighting Championships lightweight titleholder. Three years into his UFC tenure, Hooker’s record stood at 3-3, and he decided to give lightweight another shot, starting at UFC Fight Night 110. That move paid off in a big way.

Moments after his corner implored their fighter to find his range, Hooker (14-7 MMA, 4-3 UFC) connected with a knee to the chin that sent Ross Pearson (19-14 MMA, 11-11 UFC) to the mat while simultaneously launching his mouthpiece into the air. That perfectly timed strike, which ended the fight at the 3:02 mark of Round 2, earned Hooker a $50,000 “Performance of the Night” bonus.

After the contest, Hooker told MMAjunkie he will be sticking around at lightweight.

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5. Say goodnight

Ion Cutelaba was a bit belligerent at the weigh-in, where he refused to shake the hand of light-heavyweight opponent Henrique da Silva and lunging toward him. Cutelaba (13-3 MMA, 2-2 UFC) upped his aggression on fight night, marching across the cage during introductions and dragging his thumb across his throat as he got in da Silva’s (12-3 MMA, 2-3 UFC) face.

Cutelaba backed up his pugnaciousness once the fight began, throwing his punches with fight-ending intentions. Cutelaba knocked down da Silva early and didn’t let up once his opponent was hurt. He landed heavy rights from inside da Silva’s guard and ended the fight in 22 seconds.

After the victory, Cutelaba told Stann he was in a hurry to end the contest so he could say goodnight to his infant daughter, who was home in Moldova.

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6. That’ll change your mood

Ben Nguyen was bummed out when he lost his chance to face Joseph Benavidez at UFC Fight Night 110. After his “Performance of the Night” winning effort against late replacement Tim Elliott, Nguyen’s mood improved significantly.

Nguyen’s aggressive striking had Elliott (14-8-1 MMA, 3-6 UFC) looking for takedowns early. After some scrambling on the mat, Nguyen (17-6 MMA, 4-1 UFC) slipped in the hooks and sank in a rear-naked choke that ended the flyweight fight in 49 seconds. The loss was Elliott’s first submission defeat since Benavidez stopped him via guillotine choke in April 2014.

The quick stoppage will keep Nguyen in the mix to face a top-five opponent in his next outing, maybe even Benavidez if he heals up in time for that booking.

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7. No power outage

Alexander Volkanovski displayed some mean ground and pound in his UFC debut in November, earning a second-round TKO win over Yusuke Kasuya in a lightweight bout. Volkanovski dropped to featherweight for his UFC Fight Night 110 fight against Mizuto Hirota, and he brought his heavy hands with him.

Volkanovski (15-1 MMA, 2-0 UFC) was dominant in every facet of this fight, cruising to a unanimous-decision win over Hirota (14-2 MMA, 1-1 UFC). While he wasn’t able to get the finish, it wasn’t for lack of trying, as Volkanovski came close to ending Hirota’s night in the first round after knocking him down with a right and following up with ground strikes.

The win puts Volkanovski’s winning streak at 12, with 10 stoppages.

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8. Rust? What rust?

Most UFC fighters don’t go more than three years between fights, but that’s the situation Vinc Pichel found himself in heading into UFC Fight Night 110. Pichel, who had been sidelined by what he called a “steamroll ball of (expletive)” since his May 2014 win over Anthony Njokuani, stepped into his lightweight fight against Damien Brown anxious to prove he still belonged in the UFC. He did just that.

Brown’s (16-10 MMA, 2-2 UFC) game plan was to pressure Pichel (10-1 MMA, 3-1 UFC), and for most of the first round he was successful. He put Pichel on his heels. But with less than 90 seconds left in the first stanza, Pichel, backing into the fence, delivered a crisp combination that brought the fight to an abrupt end.

After the fight, Pichel informed the division of his plans.

“I ain’t stopping,” Pichel told Stann, “I’m going to go on a rampage.”

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9. He needed that

John Moraga knew he was facing questions heading into his flyweight matchup with Ashkan Mokhtarian. The former title contender hadn’t won a fight in more than two years and was in the midst of a three-fight losing streak. Had Moraga (17-6 MMA, 6-5 UFC) lost to Mokhtarian (13-2 MMA, 0-1 UFC), a UFC newcomer, his run with the promotion would have likely come to an end.

Moraga put on a clinic against the overmatched Mokhtarian, dominating the fight in every way and earning a unanimous decision. Now back in the win column, Moraga is sure to be tested by tougher competition the next time he steps into the octagon.

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10. That’s better

J.J. Aldrich came into her second UFC fight with a full camp behind her, and it showed. Aldrich represented herself much better against Chanmi Jeon than she did in her short notice debut vs. Juliana Lima.

Aldrich (5-2 MMA, 1-1 UFC) pressured Jeon (5-1 MMA, 0-1 UFC) throughout the strawweight fight, showing solid technical striking ability on her way to a unanimous-decision win.

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For more on UFC Fight Night 110, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie