'Supervillain' Colby Covington respects Demian Maia – that's why he wants to finish him in Round 1

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Filed under: Featured, News, UFC

In reality shows, there often is a contestant who makes it clear right away he’s not there to make friends. If the UFC was a reality show, Colby Covington probably would fill that role.

From his unapologetic “embarrassment tour” to his expert Twitter trolling jobs, amid shots fired toward anyone from welterweight champion Tyron Woodley to rapper Snoop Dogg, Covington has lived up to his “Chaos” nickname outside the octagon, too.

On Oct. 28, he gets to take the role to the next level by not only going up against one of MMA’s favorite nice guys in Demian Maia – but by doing so in front of Maia’s home fans in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Not surprisingly, Covington is not at all fazed by the setup.

“I am the supervillain and this is my division now,” Covington told MMAjunkie ahead of the UFC Fight Night 119 welterweight co-headliner, which airs on FS1 from Ibirapuera Gymnasium in Sao Paulo. “I own this division. I’m a heel – it’s OK. I expect the fans to hate me, anyway. I don’t care about the fans. This isn’t about the fans anymore. This is about me being the best fighter in the world – and that’s what I am.

“I’m the No. 1 fighter in the welterweight division right now. Tyron Woodley, he’s a fake paper champ. Demian Maia, he’s a thing of the past. I’m going to put him to rest and the Brazilian crowd is going to be silent.”

Maia (25-7 MMA, 19-7 UFC), fresh off his own failed welterweight title bid, may be the task at hand. But Covington (12-1 MMA, 7-1 UFC) makes sure to mention champ Woodley’s (18-3-1 MMA, 8-2-1 UFC) name every chance he gets. The fact Covington currently is angling for a title shot is not exactly a secret – and he believes a win over Maia should make that the next move.

Covington also is aware, however, there are others trying to get the same thing. Ex-lightweight-champ Rafael dos Anjos, for instance, has been making his own case after kicking off his welterweight run with back-to-back wins over Tarec Saffiedine and Neil Magny.

Covington, who’d taken aim at dos Anjos (26-9 MMA, 15-7 UFC) in the past, is not in agreement.

“Oh, come on, let’s be honest: Who has ‘RDA’ fought?” Covington asked. “He just fought two bums at the end of their careers – the two biggest over-ranked fighters in the world. He’s been picking and choosing fights. The UFC knows who a real fighter is. I’m a real fighter. I’ve never turned down one fight. I’ve asked for the tough fights. I asked for Demian Maia.

“No one wants to fight Demian Maia. I asked to fight Demian Maia in his home city. Who wants to fight Demian Maia in his home city? No one. I’m the only one who accepted the challenge. ‘RD’A? He ducked me. We were supposed to fight two or three different times. He ducked me. He didn’t want to fight. That’s why he was put behind me on the Singapore card and I got a bigger fight against Dong Hyun Kim at the time.

“He beat Tarec Saffiedine. The guy is on his way out. He beat Magny. The guy is on his way out. Who has he beat that’s a top contender? After I put Demian Maia to rest, Tyron Woodley is next for me. ‘RDA’ is a thing of the past, as well.”

Currently ranked No. 9 in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA welterweight rankings, Covington is not delusional in his title aspirations. Not only is he coming off four straight wins, but he’s looked increasingly impressive in getting them – which peaked with the utter domination of Kim at UFC Fight Night 111 in June.

It’s hard to predict what’s going to happen atop the UFC’s 170-pound class – especially when the champion has been clear about his desire to venture into other divisions. But a win over No. 5 Maia, who was on a seven-fight tear before his failed title bid against Woodley, would certainly make Covington’s case convincing.

Of course, that’s easier said than done. While many thought they had the key to countering Maia’s stifling grappling game, the Brazilian has proven that knowing what he’s going to do inside the octagon doesn’t necessarily mean being able to stop it from happening.

Covington, however, doesn’t seem all that worried.

“Demian Maia is a one-trick pony,” Covington said. “He’s the same fighter he’s been his whole career. He’s not just going to change his game plan. He’s not a tricky guy to prepare for with the skill set that I have. The guys that he fought in the past don’t have the skill set that I have.

“He’s only going to try and come out there, take me down, get to the back, submit me. That’s not going to happen. My wrestling is on a different level than anyone he’s ever fought. My striking – I’m more athletic. I’m way too handsome to lose to a guy like that.”

Other than his high-caliber wrestling – which Covington rates as varsity-level compared to Woodley’s “decent,” but JV one – he was also able to rely on the help of a friend who happens to have recently prepared for his own UFC Fight Night 111 encounter with Maia, a split-decision loss.

“He fought Jorge Masvidal, my best friend,” Covington said. “So I’ve gotten a lot of pointers, a lot of experience from what Demian is going to try to do in the octagon. He’s very strong in the first couple of minutes, I’ll give him that. But he will break down.

“He will not be able to match my heart. He will not be able to match my pace. And he will fade and he will quit.”

While Covington is not sparing Maia from his verbal attacks, it’s also clear the Brazilian grappler hasn’t really been hit with the same type of heavy artillery that has been fired at Woodley or even Dos Anjos. In fact, Maia has even been dubbed “an absolute legend” by Covington.

Covington says he usually likes it when an opponent engages and returns his pre-fight banter. With Maia, who’s not prone to trash talking, he hasn’t been getting that. But Covington doesn’t mind it. At the end of the day, he says, it’s all about respect.

And, for better or worse, he does have it for Maia.

“I do respect the guy,” Covington said. “That’s why I’m going to put him to sleep in the first round. It won’t be pretty. I know Halloween is coming up, so it’s going to be a nightmare in Sao Paulo for him.”

In case Covington’s plans weren’t clear enough before, he doesn’t mind summing them up in one, concise answer.

“I’m coming to take out Demian Maia in impressive fashion,” Covington said. “And Tyron Woodley is next. Mark my words, you heard it here first in this interview: I will be welterweight champion early beginning of next year.

“Tyron Woodley can’t top me and Demian Maia has no chance to stop me.”

For more on UFC Fight Night 119, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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Source: MMA Junkie

Sao Paulo's 12-bout UFC Fight Night 119 lineup finalized for FS1, FS2

The fight card is set for the UFC’s return to Brazil on Oct. 28 with UFC Fight Night 119.

The event emanates from Ibirapuera Gymnasium in Sao Paulo and airs on FS1 following prelims on FS2 and UFC Fight Pass. The card featured 12 fights total.

In the main event, former light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida (22-7 MMA, 14-7 UFC) makes his return to the octagon in more than two years when he takes on Derek Brunson (17-5 MMA, 8-3 UFC) in a middleweight bout. Brunson enters the contest coming off a first-round knockout of Dan Kelly at UFC Fight Night 110, while Machida hasn’t competed since losing to Yoel Romero in June 2015.

The co-headliner features a clash of top-10 welterweights as Demian Maia (25-7 MMA, 19-7 UFC) takes on Colby Covington (12-1 MMA, 7-1 UFC). Maia looks to rebound from a failed title bid against champ Tyron Woodley at UFC 214. Covington enters in search of his fifth consecutive win.

The full UFC Fight Night 119 lineup includes:

MAIN CARD (FS1, 10 p.m. ET)

  • Lyoto Machida vs. Derek Brunson
  • Colby Covington vs. Demian Maia
  • Rob Font vs. Pedro Munhoz
  • Jim Miller vs. Francisco Trinaldo
  • Jack Hermansson vs. Thiago “Marreta” Santos
  • John Lineker vs. Marlon Vera

PRELIMINARY CARD (FS2, 8 p.m. ET)

  • Niko Price vs. Luan Chagas
  • Augusto Mendes vs. Boston Salmon
  • Antonio Carlos Junior vs. Jack Marshman
  • Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos vs. Max Griffin

PRELIMINARY CARD (7 p.m. ET, UFC Fight Pass)

  • Hacran Dias vs. Jared Gordon
  • Jarred Brooks vs. Deiveson Figueiredo

For more on UFC Fight Night 119, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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Source: MMA Junkie

Twitter Mailbag: Will Michael Bisping really retire? Would Georges St-Pierre really defend?

In this week’s Twitter Mailbag, is the UFC middleweight champ really considering retiring, or just playing us for a few extra pay-per-view buys? Plus, is the UFC Fight Night 117 headliner the weakest in recent memory? And should we care why someone failed a drug test, or is it the fighter’s responsibility to test clean no matter what?

All that and more in this week’s Twitter Mailbag. To ask a question of your own, tweet to @BenFowlkesMMA.

I believe that multiple people in Michael Bisping’s life are telling him to retire after the Georges St-Pierre fight, and why wouldn’t they?

He’ll be 39 in a few months. He’s taken a lot of damage over the course of his very memorable career. And the other top 185-pounders who are gunning for his spot? They are a group of terrifying individuals. If Bisping wins this fight and has to defend his UFC middleweight belt against actual UFC middleweight contenders, there’s no way he doesn’t end up in tougher fights for less money than he’ll make at UFC 217.

If there was a time to take the money and run, brother, it’s now.

But Bisping’s savvy enough to know a good sales angle when he sees one. He knows that a large number of MMA fans always want to see him get beat up, which is why he’s teasing retirement now. He wants those people to think that soon they won’t have Michael Bisping to kick around anymore, so they better pay their money and enjoy this last ride.

Will he really do it? I have my doubts. Bisping is a stubborn and fiercely competitive person, which is a big part of how he’s made it this far in his career. If he beats GSP, could he admit to himself that he’s better off not testing himself against the likes of Bobby Knuckles? Could he turn down that one extra payday? Could he walk away as the middleweight champ who never defended his title against a single middleweight contender?

Seems like he’s spent his whole career trying to get to this very spot. I have a hard time believing he’ll give it up without being forcibly ejected.

That’s easy: Elias Theodorou, who also happens to be one of my favorite fighters on social media. You’re telling me you don’t want to see a polite Canadian roll in there with his wavy locks and put the hurt on some Twitter troll who way overreacted to his reasonable opinions? Of course you do. Watching him kick the Mtn Dew out of an online hater would be pay-per-view material.

 

That is one thing that might hurt interest in the Bisping-GSP fight. When Luke Rockhold said that St-Pierre wouldn’t fight any top middleweights even if he does win, it had the ring of truth. And Bisping is already talking about getting out, win or lose, after UFC 217.

So how excited are we supposed to get for a middleweight title fight that might end up meaning nothing at all for the middleweight division?

If you ask me who you’d have to beat to become the top middleweight in the world right now, without question I say it’s Robert Whittaker. But if his interim title morphs into the real thing just because no actual champ will fight him, that’s bound to feel a little anti-climactic.

If it’s not, it’ll do until the weakest gets here. But let’s be honest, it’s not like any of us were that heartbroken to hear that Ovince Saint Preux vs. Mauricio Rua II was off. That rematch made no sense and mattered not at all to the light heavyweight division. It was an attempt to throw the Japanese fans a bone.

Hey, you guys used to like “Shogun,” right? Well here he is again, held together by duct tape and chewing gum, back to fight for your nostalgic pleasure.

Is it really so much different to go from Rua to a hometown figure like Yushin Okami? Yes, the fight itself is silly and doesn’t mean much. (The UFC decided Okami wasn’t worth keeping as a middleweight, and now he’s back as a light heavyweight?) Then again, the fight it’s replacing was silly and didn’t mean much, albeit for different reasons. It might be weak, but at least it’s not here in place of something strong.

The changes to the USADA rules announced earlier this year make it easier for replacement fighters to slide in without a long testing period, which seems both practical and about as fair as it can realistically be. If you need a replacement on six days’ notice, you’re probably going to have to go outside the UFC to find one. If the USADA policy didn’t allow for that possibility at all, we’d seen even more canceled fights.

Does it open the door to potential dopers sliding into a fight without having faced the same vetting their opponents did? Sure. But if you know you’ve been doping and getting away with it thanks to minimal or even non-existent testing in another organization, and you also know that USADA will be waiting for you in the UFC, wouldn’t that make you less likely to accept a short-notice fight? You won’t have time to clean out your system, and even if you get through the fight before getting popped, then you’re faced with a long suspension.

It’s not a perfect system, but when you take into account the practical realities at work, it seems like a reasonable compromise.

Sure, no problem. When I’m done with it, should I go ahead and solve crime next? How about unhappiness?

Look, we can’t set the bar for anti-doping success at complete eradication. We will never get there. As long as steroids work and winning fighters earn more money than losing ones (whether in the short or the long term), someone will be willing to take the risk.

The best we can hope for is that the testing is good enough and the punishments strong enough to act as a deterrent. I suspect that’s already happened to some extent. I’m sure somewhere out there is a UFC fighter who would have doped, who seriously considered it, but decided that the chances of being caught were too great, and the consequences too severe to make it worth it.

If we get to a point where no one is getting caught, we shouldn’t take that as a sign that the battle has been won. We should take it as a sign that the testing probably isn’t working.

First of all, GSP’s been out of the sport for that long, but not out of the public eye. In a way, it feels like he’s been back in our lives for at least a year now, because he wouldn’t stop talking about this fight while he was on the very slow train to Comebacktown. If you gave Conor McGregor a year to talk before fighting, I feel like he’d do just fine. So would Ronda Rousey, I expect.

But it is worth wondering how the former “king of pay-per-view” will draw in his return. This feels like a different era for the UFC. It’s the era where “money fight” came into our lexicon. It’s when we learned that shirts are actually optional at press conferences, and energy drink cans are pretty aerodynamic.

Can you still be the star of the show as the clean-cut French-Canadian who’s super polite to the point of being kind of boring? And what if St-Pierre loses, which is a real possibility going up a weight class after such an extended layoff? Will a lot of newer fans just write him off as someone who used to be good according to a bunch of old fogies?

The good news is, right now the UFC doesn’t have a whole lot else planned for the coming months. If you want in on a big fight, you’ve pretty much got to show up for this one. So at least the payday should be worth it.

Is it too late to get Brian Stann back? Could we sprint to the train station just in time and run along the platform, shouting at him that we can change before we run face first into a pole?

Then again, I guess it depends what we want out of a president. Dana White has his flaws, but for many years he also had the virtues of his faults. Those media scrums he used to do after press conferences? Those were so popular precisely because he was so unguarded, so free with the news nuggets, so likely to say something worth reporting. That’s the upside of the same personality defect that leads to him getting on Twitter and telling his customers that they’re fat, ugly idiots.

But White was definitely what the UFC needed for a long time. He was a loud, bombastic carnival barker who could shepherd people into the tent when the show was about to start. And maybe the UFC still needs that more than it needs a buttoned-up professional-type like Stann, but you don’t see White doing nearly as much of it. These days it’s not even a given that he’ll show up to his own events.

I pick Demian Maia, for sure. Because if I get choked out by Maia, at least I can go tell the story to all my jiu-jitsu buddies and maybe even trick them into buying me lunch in the process. If I get flattened out by Rockhold, I might end up drinking that lunch through a straw.

Definitely the best boxing movie, one of the best sports movies, even one of the best biopics. How could it not be? It’s a Martin Scorsese film about a tragic figure, and it’s got Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci in it. The death of Jake LaMotta is as good an excuse as any to go back and watch it. If you’d prefer to do some reading, I’d also recommend this story on LaMotta.

I’m old enough to remember when Carlos Condit said he was unsure of his future due to concerns about head trauma, so it’s tough to be totally enthusiastic about seeing him come back for more. Still, Condit’s so much fun to watch. If he feels up to it, how can I not get hyped to see him jump back into the fire?

Who he should fight is a tough question, though. You look around the welterweight class and you see a lot of young hitters who’d love a chance to make their name off a potentially rusty Condit. That’d be a little depressing, even if the cannibalization of yesterday’s heroes is something of a sad tradition in combat sports. Plus, Condit has fought most of the guys at or near the top, so what else can you do with him if he really wants to fight within a few months?

Just saying, if the MMA gods won’t give us Mike Perry vs. Robbie Lawler, then “Platinum Mike” vs. The NBK would be a very acceptable substitute.

For the most part, yes, I agree. But if we can do so with a reasonable degree of certainty, it is worth the effort to distinguish the intentional dopers from the careless pill and supplement-takers. That’s especially true when the supplement industry is so unregulated that you could conceivably buy a new batch of the same product you took without incident six months ago and still end up with banned substances in your system. It doesn’t make you blameless, but it also doesn’t quite make you a cheat.

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

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

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Colby Covington goes off on 'fraud' UFC champ Tyron Woodley – and adds Snoop Dogg

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UFC welterweight Colby Covington’s grudge against champ Tyron Woodley continues to simmer as he approaches a critical bout against recent title challenger Demian Maia.

Covington (12-1 MMA, 7-1 UFC) finds a reason to jab at all of his opponents – even the ones who don’t anger him. Maia (25-7 MMA, 19-7 UFC), he predicts, will be “looking for a new job, maybe at a cell phone kiosk in the mall” after getting retired in his hometown Oct. 28 at UFC Fight Night 119 at Ibirapuera Gymnasium in Sao Paulo.

Bold, but not angry.

For Woodley, on the other hand, Covington does not hold back. On Tuesday during an interview with MMAjunkie Radio, he went out of his way to mispronounce Woodley’s first name and fire off another rant of personal attacks.

“The crown’s too heavy for him, honestly,” Covington said of Woodley. “He can go back to his passion – standing around in the background of his B-list movies. He’s the type of dude that’s going out to movie sets and taking pictures. ‘Oh, let me get a picture with you, Snoop (Dogg),’ just so he can say, ‘He’s my friend’ on social media. The guy’s a joke. He’s a fake. He’s a fraud. He doesn’t even get credited in his movies. That’s how pathetic he is. Unless it’s some gas station ‘Kickboxer: Vengeance’ movie, then maybe he gets credit from that.

“He’s telling everybody, ‘He wouldn’t look at me in the gym.’ Yeah, I wouldn’t look at you because I promised my manager and owner of (American Top Team) Dan Lambert that I would keep it professional, and I wouldn’t say nothing. I didn’t want to have any problems. He has a fight coming up. I keep it classy always. But at the end of the day, he’s saying fake stuff.

“He’s on (The MMA Hour) saying, ‘Colby Covington won’t get a word out of my mouth,’ and the next thing he’s saying is, ‘Colby wouldn’t even look at me in the gym. He’s shadowboxing under my championship belt.’ What the (expletive) are you talking about? First of all, your picture’s over the bags where we work out, and second, I had to make a promise to Dan Lambert. He wouldn’t even give me (the Maia) fight unless I kept it cool with Tyron. I made some promises, but at the end of the day, (expletive) Tyron Woodley’s a fake, a fraud, and I’m going to expose him real soon.”

Woodley (18-3-1 MMA, 8-2-1 UFC) did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The champ is aiming to fight the winner of an upcoming middleweight title bout between champ Michael Bisping (30-7 MMA, 20-7 UFC) and ex-welterweight kingpin Georges St-Pierre (25-2 MMA, 19-2 UFC), which takes place in November at UFC 217. Woodley recently dispatched the long-nagging contender Maia, though his effort made no new fans, including UFC President Dana White.

Of course, Covington sided with his promoter on that one.

When it comes to another UFC contractee, however, Covington takes another side. He blasted Snoop Dogg after the rapper and UFC commentator issued an expletive-laden rant at Conor McGregor after the UFC lightweight champ’s boxing loss to Floyd Mayweather this past weekend.

“The UFC is employing him,” Covington said of Snoop. “It’s not cheap to fly him out to those summits. He’s getting a way bigger purse than I am to show up.

“I think it’s a joke how he’s going to trash on the UFC and fighters. Like, dude, you’ve never even fought. You’re a skinny little twig. How are you going to act hard and act like you’re tough? It was a boxing match. Yeah, congrats to Floyd. Conor did it as a money fight, but if it were in the streets or in the octagon, it wouldn’t have even been competitive. Conor would have killed Floyd. Don’t act all hard and say ill will toward the UFC, who employs you.”

So there’s another grudge to put on the ever-growing list. But first, Covington needs to put away Maia.

For more on UFC Fight Night 119, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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Demian Maia, Colby Covington set to meet at UFC Fight Night 119 on Oct. 28

Colby Covington’s campaign might not have earned him many fans among his peers, but it was effective.

After taking aim at a few targets, including 170-pound champ Tyron Woodley, Covington (12-1 MMA, 7-1 UFC) managed to land a pretty big one in two-time UFC title challenger Demian Maia (25-7 MMA, 19-7 UFC). (via Twitter)

The welterweight bout is now set for UFC Fight Night 119, which takes place Oct. 28 in Maia’s hometown of Sao Paulo, Brazil. Combate.com was first to report the news, which was confirmed to MMAjunkie by a person close to Covington’s camp.

Maia is currently ranked No.5  in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA welterweight rankings, while Covington occupies the No. 11 spot. It will be a quick turnaround for Maia, who comes off a long-awaited title shot at last month’s UFC 214. He dropped a unanimous decision to Woodley after five lackluster rounds. Going into it, the grappling ace was riding a seven-fight streak, including a notable first-round submission of ex-interim-champ Carlos Condit.

Covington, in turn, comes off his biggest win yet, a stifling performance over Dong Hyun Kim that earned him a unanimous decision at UFC Fight Night 111 on June 17. Covington is now four wins removed from his sole professional loss, a UFC 194 submission to “The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil” winner Warlley Alves.

UFC Fight Night 119, which takes place at Ibirapuera Gymnasium, will feature the return of former UFC champ Lyoto Machida. The event features an FS1-televised lineup following early prelims on UFC Fight Pass.

The latest UFC Fight Night 119 lineup includes:

  • Lyoto Machida vs. Derek Brunson
  • Demian Maia vs. Colby Covington
  • Misha Cirkunov vs. Glover Teixeira
  • Deiveson Alcantara vs. Jarred Brooks
  • Augusto Mendes vs. Boston Salmon

For more on UFC Fight Night 117, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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Bisping-GSP, Garbrandt-Dillashaw title fights among 7 official for UFC 217

Two championship belts will be on the line when the UFC makes its second visit this November to the famous Madison Square Garden in New York.

In the main event of the Nov. 4 pay-per-view lineup (which follows prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass), Michael Bisping (30-7 MMA, 20-7 UFC) will defend the UFC middleweight championship against Georges St-Pierre (25-2 MMA, 19-2 UFC). Bantamweight titleholder Cody Garbrandt (11-0 MMA, 6-0 UFC) takes on rival T.J. Dillashaw (14-3 MMA, 10-3 UFC) in the co-headliner.

Both title bouts were confirmed on Tuesday’s episode of “UFC Tonight” on FS1.

The matchup between Bisping and St-Pierre has been an on-again, off-again mess after it was announced in March that former UFC welterweight champion St-Pierre would end his nearly 4-year hiatus to fight Bisping, despite never having competed at 185 pounds.

St-Pierre hasn’t fought since 2013, when he notched his ninth consecutive welterweight title defense with a split-decision victory over Johny Hendricks at UFC 167. St-Pierre then vacated the title and took a break from competition. After St-Pierre recently flirted with a return, UFC officials announced earlier this year that the 36-year-old Canadian MMA great would fight Bisping sometime later in the year.

However, St-Pierre then said he could not fight until at least November due to outside commitments, and an irked UFC President Dana White later said the fight was off. Bisping was then slated to fight top contender Yoel Romero.

But when Bisping subsequently revealed a knee injury (while St-Pierre declared a lingering eye issue), Plan B for Bisping-Romero also was scrapped. Romero (12-2 MMA, 8-1 UFC) then lost a decision to fellow contender Robert Whittaker (19-4 MMA, 10-2 UFC) for an interim title earlier this month at UFC 213.

White suggested a knee injury recently suffered by Whittaker opened the door for St-Pierre to cut the line.

With Whittaker the challenger in waiting, White said in July that St-Pierre would instead fight the winner of this past Saturday’s UFC 214 co-headliner between current welterweight champ Tyron Woodley (18-3-1 MMA, 8-2-1 UFC) and challenger Demian Maia (25-7 MMA, 19-7 UFC). However, with Woodley’s heavily panned unanimous-decision win over Maia, that apparently opened the door for St-Pierre vs. Bisping once again.

Garbrandt and Dillashaw have a tenuous history after being teammates for several years at Team Alpha Male in Sacramento, Calif. Dillashaw unceremoniously left the gym to train with striking coach Duane Ludwig in Colorado, and the disdain with former teammates such as Garbrandt and Urijah Faber has grown thicker ever since.

The feud grew deeper when the pair served as opposing coaches on Season 25 of “The Ultimate Fighter” reality series. Dillashaw handled Garbrandt in the coaching aspect, seeing a greater number of his fighters advance through the tournament, with Jesse Taylor ultimately winning the tournament crown.

Garbrandt was forced to withdraw from their planned UFC 213 bout in July due to a back injury that required treatment. He’s been rehabbing since and is ready to go for UFC 217.

Also confirmed for UFC 217 was a heavyweight bout between Curtis Blaydes (7-1 MMA, 2-1 UFC) and Aleksei Oleinik (52-10-1 MMA, 4-1 UFC), a light-heavyweight showdown between Corey Anderson (9-2 MMA, 6-2 UFC) and Patrick Cummins (10-4 MMA, 6-4 UFC) and a bantamweight bout between Ricardo Ramos (10-1 MMA, 1-0 UFC) and Aiemann Zahabi (7-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC).

The latest UFC 217 lineup now includes:

  • Champ Michael Bisping vs. Georges St-Pierre – for middleweight title
  • Champ Cody Garbrandt vs. T.J. Dillashaw – for bantamweight title
  • Paulo Borrachinha vs. Johny Hendricks
  • Curtis Blaydes vs. Aleksei Oleinik
  • Corey Anderson vs. Patrick Cummins
  • Gadzhimurad Antigulov vs. Ion Cutelaba
  • Ricardo Ramos vs. Aiemann Zahabi

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

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Source: MMA Junkie

Champ Michael Bisping says Georges St-Pierre title bout official for UFC 217 in NYC

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UFC middleweight champion Michael Bisping claims his next title defense against Georges St-Pierre is finally official, and it will go down at UFC 217 in New York City.

Bisping (30-7 MMA, 20-7 UFC) today announced the bout with St-Pierre (25-2 MMA, 19-2 UFC) on FS1’s “UFC Tonight,” on which he frequently serves as a co-host.

“This is actually the third time I’ve been offered this fight, so the ship’s sailed twice,” Bisping said. “On this occasion, on the third occasion, it set off sailing but did a U-turn and it pulled up at New York City. I’ve got a chirpy little Englishman who’s going to fight Georges St-Pierre, Madison Square Garden, Nov. 4. It is official. Do not miss it. We’re taking over.”

UFC 217 takes place Nov. 4 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The main card airs on pay-per-view following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass.

The matchup has been an on-again, off-again mess after it was announced in March that former UFC welterweight champion St-Pierre would end his more than three-year hiatus to fight Bisping, despite never having competing at 185 pounds.

St-Pierre hasn’t fought since 2013, when he notched his ninth consecutive welterweight title defense with a split-decision victory over Johny Hendricks at UFC 167. St-Pierre then vacated the title and took a break from competition. After St-Pierre recently flirted at a return, UFC officials announced earlier this year that the 36-year-old Canadian MMA great would fight Bisping sometime later in the year.

However, St-Pierre then said he could not fight until at least November due to outside commitments, and an irked UFC President Dana White later said the fight was off and Bisping would instead fight top contender Yoel Romero.

But when Bisping subsequently revealed a knee injury (while St-Pierre declared a lingering eye issue), Plan B for Bisping-Romero also was scrapped. Romero (12-2 MMA, 8-1 UFC) then lost a decision to fellow contender Robert Whittaker (19-4 MMA, 10-2 UFC) for an interim title earlier this month at UFC 213.

White suggested a knee injury recently suffered by Whittaker opened the door for St-Pierre to cut the line.

With Whittaker the challenger in waiting, White said in July that St-Pierre would instead fight the winner of this past Saturday’s UFC 214 co-headliner between current welterweight champ Tyron Woodley (18-3-1 MMA, 8-2-1 UFC) and challenger Demian Maia (25-7 MMA, 19-7 UFC). However, with Woodley’s heavily panned unanimous-decision win over Maia, that apparently opened the door for St-Pierre vs. Bisping.

“I know Michael Bisping will fight,” White said. “He will show up and actually fight.”

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

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UFC 214 'Fight Motion': That time Daniel Cormier sent Jon Jones' mouthpiece flying

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Despite a crushing and emotional end, things started off well enough for Daniel Cormier over Jon Jones, as we see in the “Fight Motion” highlights for past Saturday’s UFC 214 headliner.

The super-slow-motion highlights capture the action from the event at Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif., which aired on pay-per-view following prelims on FXX and UFC Fight Pass.

Cormier (19-2 MMA, 8-2 UFC) ultimately suffered a third-round knockout loss, and he had to surrender his light-heavyweight title to rival Jones (23-1 MMA, 17-1 UFC), who reclaimed the belt with a vintage performance.

Initially, though, Cormier found some success in the long-awaited rematch again arguably the greatest fighter in MMA history. One early punch sent Jones’ mouthpiece flying, as you can see in “UFC 214 Fight Motion” above.

The highlights include other bouts, including welterweight champion Tyron Woodley’s (18-3-1 MMA, 8-2-1 UFC) decisive unanimous-decision victory over Demian Maia (25-7 MMA, 19-7 UFC), as well as Cristiane Justino’s (17-1 MMA, 2-0 UFC) lopsided third-round TKO of Tonya Evinger (19-5 MMA, 0-0 UFC) for the vacant women’s featherweight belt.

Check out the “Fight Motion” highlights above.

And for more on UFC 214, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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UFC 214 medical suspensions: Donald Cerrone gets potential 6 months for eye issue

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UFC welterweight standout Donald Cerrone is facing a six-month suspension for a possible eye injury following his loss to ex-champ Robbie Lawler at UFC 214.

Cerrone, who was outpointed on the event’s pay-per-view main card, needs doctor clearance for a “possible fracture to the left eye,” according to medical suspensions issued by the California State Athletic Commission, which regulated the event at Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif.

According to cageside doctors notes, Cerrone’s (32-8 MMA, 19-5 UFC) pupil was constricted, indicating a possible fracture after his slugfest against Lawler (28-11 MMA, 13-5 UFC).

In other suspensions, headliner and now-former UFC light heavyweight champ Daniel Cormier (19-2 MMA, 8-2 UFC) must sit out 60 days after suffering a knockout loss to re-crowned champ Jon Jones (23-1 MMA, 17-1 UFC).

Additionally, the CSAC made official an order requiring lightweight Drew Dober move up to the welterweight division because his fight-day weight was 18 percent above the 155-pound limit, or approximately 183 pounds. The commission earlier this year passed a 10-point plan that recommends fighters move up a division if they are over 10 percent above their contracted weight on fight day.

Following his first-round knockout of Josh Burkman (28-16 MMA, 6-11 UFC), Dober (18-8 MMA, 4-4 UFC) advocated for a 165-pound weight class.

The full list of UFC 214 medical suspensions includes:

  • Jon Jones: suspended 7 days
  • Daniel Cormier: suspended mandatory 7 days; also suspended 45 days with 30 days no contact for knockout, and suspended 60 days with 60 days no contact, or until cleared by physician, for laceration to right eye. Neurological clearance required
  • Tyron Woodley: suspended 7 days
  • Demian Maia: suspended 7 days
  • Cristiane Justino: suspended 7 days
  • Tonya Evinger: suspended 7 days; also suspended 45 days with 30 days no contact for TKO
  • Robbie Lawler: suspended 7 days
  • Donald Cerrone: suspended 7 days; also suspended 180 days with 180 days no contact, or until cleared by physician, for possible left eye fracture (traumatic myosis)
  • Volkan Oezdemir: suspended 7 days
  • Jimi Manuwa: suspended mandatory 7 days; also suspended 45 days with 30 days no contact for knockout, and suspended 60 days with 60 days no contact, or until cleared by physician, for laceration to right eyebrow
  • Ricardo Lamas: suspended mandatory 7 days
  • Jason Knight: suspended 7 days; also suspended 45 days with 30 days no contact for TKO
  • Aljamain Sterling: suspended mandatory 7 days
  • Renan Barao: suspended mandatory 7 days
  • Brian Ortega: suspended mandatory 7 days
  • Renato Moicano: suspended 7 days; also suspended 180 days with 180 days no contact, or until cleared by physician, for possible jaw/facial fracture
  • Calvin Kattar: suspended mandatory 7 days
  • Andre Fili: suspended 7 days; also suspended 60 days with 60 days no contact, or until cleared by physician, for right upper eyelid
  • Alexandra Albu: suspended mandatory 7 days; also suspended 45 days with 30 days no contact for hard bout; suspended 60 days with 60 days no contact, or until cleared by physician, for laceration to nose; suspended 180 days with 180 days no contact, or until cleared via CT scan by physician, for possible fracture to left orbital
  • Kailin Curran: suspended 7 days; also suspended 45 days with 30 days no contact for hard bout
  • Jarred Brooks: suspended mandatory 7 days
  • Eric Shelton: suspended mandatory 7 days
  • Drew Dober: suspended mandatory 7 days; must be cleared by physician or must move up in weight due to greater than 18 percent weight increase. Fighter needs to be in a heavier weight class per medical evaluation
  • Josh Burkman: suspended 7 days; also suspended 45 days with 30 days no contact for KO

For more on UFC 214, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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Source: MMA Junkie

UFC 214's 10 memorable moments: Jon Jones reclaims his crown, ends feud with Daniel Cormier

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The stacked main card of Saturday’s UFC 214 did not disappoint.

In the main event, Jon Jones returned to the octagon for the first time in 15 months and put on a nearly flawless performance, regaining both the light heavyweight title and his ranking as the best 205-pound fighter in UFC history with a third-round knockout of Daniel Cormier.

In the co-main event, Tyron Woodley focused on defense, much to the chagrin of fans and UFC President Dana White, while retaining welterweight crown against challenger Demian Maia with a unanimous decision.

In the first title fight of the night, the most feared woman in MMA, Cristiane Justino, became a UFC champion with a third-round TKO victory over a very game Tonya Evinger.

UFC 214 took place at Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif. The main card aired on pay-per-view following prelims on FXX and UFC Fight Pass.

Here are the most memorable moments from the biggest UFC fight card of 2017.

1. New reign, new man?

After dispatching Cormier in the third round with a head kick and ground strikes, Jones began his second stint as light heavyweight champion. The “Performance of the Night” bonus-winning victory solidified Jones as the greatest light heavyweight in MMA history. The respect Jones (23-1 MMA, 17-1 UFC) paid Cormier (19-2 MMA, 8-2 UFC) after the fight was almost as noteworthy as his victory.

We don’t know if Jones has turned a corner in his life. We don’t know if the time he spent on the sidelines due to his actions and decisions has made him a more thoughtful person. But during that brief speech, Jones provided some hope that he has learned at least some lessons.

As for Cormier, he offered his congratulations to Jones and his team via social media late Sunday night.

2. Heartbreak and confusion

The decision to speak to Cormier after his knockout loss was unwise, something UFC commentator Joe Rogan acknowledged on Sunday in his apology, but Rogan did make that decision. The brief interview provided fans a glimpse of a man who was heartbroken and confused.

“I don’t know, man,” Cormier said when asked what he was feeling. “I thought the fight was going well. I don’t even know what happened. I think I got kicked in the head. It’s so disappointing.”

The raw moment revealed to everyone just how much this fight meant to Cormier and how emotionally invested he was in defeating Jones and cementing his legacy as an all-time great.

“I guess if he wins both fights, there is no rivalry,” Cormier said, fighting back tears. “I don’t know.”

3. Recoup the losses

During his first title reign, Jones defended the light heavyweight title eight times. In his last defense, Jones earned a reported $500,000. Since then he has fought twice, taking in a reported $1 million in total for those two contests. In short, Jones left a lot of money on the table while he sat on the sidelines due to his self-destructive behavior.

What better way to get some of that money back than to follow Conor McGregor’s lead and call for the most bankable fight possible?

“Brock Lesnar, if you want to know what it feels like to get your ass kicked by a guy that weights 40 pounds less than you, meet me in the octagon,” Jones said after defeating Cormier.

While that fight is far from a lock, Jones’ callout did get the attention of the former heavyweight champion.

4. Losing by winning

Woodley (18-3-1 MMA, 8-2-1 UFC) stopped each of the 21 takedowns Maia (25-7 MMA, 19-7 UFC) attempted during their fight. That defense-first strategy allowed Woodley to retain his title via decision. Unfortunately, it seemingly cost him a fight against former champion Georges St-Pierre, which UFC President Dana White had said was “the plan” just days before Woodley’s win over Maia.

“Michael Bisping will show up, and he will fight,” White said when revealing the change at the post-fight press conference “So, yeah. I’m going to give it to him.”

Woodley, who predicted the St-Pierre fight wouldn’t come to fruition, was not surprised with the switch.

5. So dominant

How good is Justino (18-1 MMA, 3-0 UFC)? So good that a lot of the post-fight talk wasn’t about her knockout win over Evinger but of how tough Evinger (19-6 MMA, 0-1 UFC) was for extending the fight into the third round before Justino finished her.

“Tonya Evinger was awesome,” a smiling Michael Bisping said on the UFC on FOX post-fight show. “She went out there and took a beating really, really well.”

Justino was patient and technical. She never got too aggressive until the finish was in sight. While Justino’s approach might have disappointed fans of her previous fights, it showed she’s added a new, and maybe more frightening, wrinkle to her arsenal, that of the predator tiring her prey before moving in for the kill.

6. Taking shots

For someone who didn’t compete at UFC 214, former women’s featherweight champion Germaine de Randamie took a beating in Anaheim.

“I think it’s really important to mention that Germaine de Randamie, who won the title against Holly Holm, just did not want to fight this woman,” Rogan said before the Justino vs. Evinger fight began. “She said, ‘I’m not doing it. I’m stepping down, and I’m relinquishing my title.”

Rogan later said that while he was enjoying the Justino-Evinger bout, he felt “robbed” that de Randamie was not fighting.

“That proves that Evinger would put up a better fight,” replied fellow commentator Dominick Cruz. “She (de Randamie) didn’t even want to get in here; Evinger’s here.”

The duo then speculated what de Randamie must be thinking knowing someone was “tougher than her to take the fight.”

These comments came days after Evinger referred to de Randamie as a “coward” during her pre-fight media interview.

De Randamie was stripped of the belt in June due to her unwillingness to fight Justino.

7. Back in the mix

Almost one year to the day since losing the welterweight title to Woodley, Robbie Lawler returned to the title hunt with a unanimous-decision victory over Donald Cerrone.

As expected, Lawler (28-11 MMA, 13-5 UFC) and Cerrone (32-8 MMA, 19-5 UFC) delivered an exciting back and forth striking battle.

The win showed that Lawler remains one of the best welterweights in the UFC. More impressive was Lawler was without his good friend, former UFC champion Matt Hughes, who was in a terrible accident, throughout training camp. Lawler acknowledged it after the fight.

“I’m pretty good at focusing on the task at hand,” Lawler said post-fight. “But obviously, it’s a buddy of mine. He would’ve been right around the corner right now. He would have been here this whole week. It’s tough, but he’s fighting a fight now.”

8. Big time

Jimi Manuwa was an insurance policy, booked on UFC 214 as a safety net in case Cormier or Jones could not compete in the main event.

Manuwa (17-3 MMA, 6-3 UFC) did not get the opportunity to fight for the title in Anaheim, and after getting knocked out in 42 seconds by Volkan Oezdemir (a.k.a. “No Time”) he won’t be getting a title fight soon. As for Oezdemir (15-1 MMA, 3-0 UFC), who joined the UFC in February, he’s now 3-0 with two knockouts, including his “Performance of the Night” bonus-winning stoppage of Manuwa.

 

9. Nice try

Jason Knight attempted to leap up the featherweight rankings at UFC 214, stepping in to face former featherweight title contender Ricardo Lamas. It didn’t work out well for Knight.

Lamas (18-5 MMA, 9-3 UFC) was too technical for the brawling and still developing Knight (17-3 MMA, 4-2 UFC), picking him apart on the feet with precise striking. Knight showed he’s a game fighter, taking everything Lamas had to offer before referee Mike Beltran came in to stop the fight in the first round.

The win gives Lamas two-straight victories and stops Knight’s four-fight winning streak. Lamas remains a player in the featherweight division, and while Knight lost via TKO, it’s hard to see the defeat hurting him too much since he took the fight on short notice against a more seasoned opponent.

10. Keep away

A word of warning for the featherweight division: If you think you have a lead over Brian Ortega heading into the third round, do whatever you can to stay out of his grasp for those 5 minutes.

At UFC 214, Ortega finished his record-breaking fourth consecutive fight with a third-round submission of Renato Moicano. Like his previous three wins, this one looked like it could have gone either way had it made it to the scorecards, but once again Ortega ensured it didn’t.

Ortega (12-0 MMA, 4-0 UFC) and Moicano (11-1-1 MMA, 3-1 UFC) slugged it out on the feet for the majority of this “Fight of the Night” winning contest, but for some reason, Moicano attempted a takedown halfway through the final stanza. As soon as Ortega hit the mat he locked in a guillotine choke and forced the quick tap from Moicano.

For more on UFC 214, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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