Luck of the Irish: 7 things that broke Conor McGregor's way to land huge Floyd Mayweather payday

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Here we are on the eve of a fight that, when you really think about it, has no business happening. A 49-0 boxer vs. an 0-0 boxer in a boxing match. How could the Nevada State Athletic Commission have possibly sanctioned this?

And yet, UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor (21-3 MMA, 9-1 UFC) and boxing legend Floyd Mayweather (49-0 boxing) will face off Saturday night at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas in a pay-per-view event expected to be the most lucrative prize fight of all time.

Because that’s really what this is all about: money. A while back – the day McGregor was issued a California boxing license, in fact – is when I truly started to accept the possibility of this fight happening. It still kind of stuns me that it actually is, though.

We know Mayweather could fight whoever he wants any time. McGregor, on the other hand, had to put in a lot of work to reach this life-changing payday that could earn him $100 million, which remains only a dream for every other UFC fighter.

So how did “The Notorious” get here? How exactly did McGregor pull this off? Hard work is one answer. But you don’t break a barrier like this and make a once-thought-to-be-only fantasy fight simply with hard work.

Plenty of luck was involved, too, and here are seven things that broke McGregor’s way:

Only needing to beat Dennis Siver to earn a title shot

Conor McGregor and Dennis Siver at UFC Fight Night 59.

When McGregor fought Dennis Siver at UFC Fight Night 59 on Jan. 18, 2015, Siver already was 36 years old and on the down slope of his career. Ranked No. 10 in the UFC rankings at the time, Siver was 3-2-1 in his previous six bouts, the no-contest coming as a result of an overturned win thanks to a failed drug test.

Somehow, though, the decision was made that a win in this fight would earn McGregor a UFC title shot?

McGregor had yet to beat anyone ranked ahead of him (he was No. 5) and without a signature win to date. While some might point to current featherweight champion Max Holloway as a notable win, Holloway was just a 21-year-old kid and nowhere near the fighter he is today. Simply having to beat an aging Siver, which McGregor did via second-round TKO, to earn a title shot was a clear indicator that the UFC was eager to push him into the spotlight – and it worked.

Chad Mendes replacing Joe Aldo at UFC 189

Conor Mcgregor and Chad Mendes at UFC 189. (USA TODAY Sports)

McGregor and Jose Aldo embarked on a wild and crazy six-city, five-country world tour to promote their UFC 189 featherweight title fight, which is why it was such a shame that Aldo had to withdraw late.

And so on less than two weeks notice, Chad Mendes took the opportunity to face McGregor for an interim title. Mendes spent the first round taking down McGregor pretty easily and employed some solid ground-and-pound that even cut him open. But it was clear in between rounds that Mendes already was starting to gas out. His lack of cardio on short notice wouldn’t suffice for his grinding wrestling style. Sure enough, it didn’t, and McGregor capitalized with a TKO finish near the end of Round 2 by landing some hard combinations that turtled up an exhausted Mendes.

Given how that first round went, though, it makes you wonder what might’ve happened if Mendes was on a full camp.

Knocking out Jose Aldo in 13 seconds at UFC 194

Conor McGregor finishes Jose Aldo at UFC 194. (USA TODAY Sports)

There was an added benefit to Aldo pulling out of his first scheduled fight with McGregor: It gave him an extra five months get under Aldo’s skin with his trash-talk and antics during the build-up.

When they finally met at UFC 194, Aldo did something he normally wouldn’t and came out firing in the opening moments, head forward, chin out. It was reckless and provided all the momentum McGregor needed to catch him with a short left hand that knocked him out cold in just 13 seconds. The crazy thing is that Aldo actually landed, as well, but it simply didn’t faze McGregor.

Why do I chalk up this fair-and-square win as a lucky break for McGregor? I’ll answer my own question with a question: Would we have seen the same result or anything close to it if they had rematched? “Getting caught” is a phrase we use in MMA for a reason. It happened to Aldo on this night.

Getting a Nate Diaz rematch we didn’t need

Nate Diaz and Conor McGregor after their UFC 202 fight. (USA TODAY Sports)

UFC President Dana White is right about McGregor’s willingness to fight anyone, any time, anywhere, and I commend him for that. There was no upside to facing Nate Diaz the first time at UFC 196 after Rafael dos Anjos was forced to withdraw from their lightweight title fight on just two weeks notice, but McGregor accepted anyway – at welterweight.

It was a decision that backfired on McGregor, who tapped out to a rear-naked choke in the second round. Business with Diaz should’ve been done there. After all, McGregor was the featherweight champion and had challengers waiting. Rather than defend his title, though, McGregor insisted on a rematch with Diaz at welterweight. It was supposed to headline the UFC’s landmark 200th pay-per-view but fell through when McGregor refused his obligations to promote the fight.

Not even a feud with White would induce punishment on McGregor. The fight still happened at UFC 202 in August of last year, with McGregor winning a hard-fought majority decision in an epic encounter responsible for the most pay-per-view buys in UFC history. It truly was a gutsy performance by McGregor – and Diaz. But did we really need the fight? No. But without that unnecessary opportunity at redemption, the legend of McGregor doesn’t continue to grow and keep us moving toward “The Money Fight.”

Becoming a simultaneous 2-division champion (technically)

Conor McGregor after UFC 205.

By the time McGregor challenged Eddie Alvarez for the lightweight title at UFC 205, he’d held the featherweight division hostage for 11 months by not defending his title even once. McGregor went on to dominate Alvarez and finished him via second-round TKO for the greatest win of his career.

With that, McGregor made history by becoming the first fighter in UFC history to simultaneously hold championships in two divisions. The fact that it happened on the UFC’s biggest stage, in the promotion’s debut at Madison Square Garden in New York, was icing on the cake.

A star was born beyond just MMA thanks to the history-making win. This in-cage achievement is the reason McGregor’s mainstream popularity took off. But if McGregor never intended on defending the featherweight belt in the first place – and make no mistake that he didn’t – doesn’t the “history-making” aspect sort of ring hollow? Holding two belts at the same time is the kind of accolade that starts getting you noticed by Mayweather, though.

Floyd Mayweather actually entertaining the idea of a fight

Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor on the New York stop of their world tour. (USA TODAY Sports)

Mayweather had been comfortably retired for more than a year when McGregor started ramping up talk of a boxing match with the former boxing pound-for-pound king. At first, Mayweather viewed it as disrespect to even mention his name in the same breath as McGregor. On the day McGregor was issued his California boxing license, Mayweather Promotions CEO Leonard Ellerbe told ESPN.com “the con game is over,” suggesting McGregor stop trying to use Mayweather’s name for his own gain.

That’s how unrealistic Mayweather-McGregor seemed.

As everyone involved in promoting this fight has reminded us, “the fans wanted this.” There are at least 150 million reasons why Mayweather decided to finally change his mind. Without the previously mentioned string of events, though, to boost McGregor’s profile, he remains a nobody to Mayweather.

Dana White changing his mind

Conor McGregor and Dana White on the Los Angeles stop of the May-Mac world tour. (USA TODAY Sports)

As crazy as it is that Mayweather changed his mind, perhaps nobody has come a longer way than White. Just earlier this year in January, he promised “an epic fall” if McGregor wanted to defy the UFC and move forward with trying to box Mayweather. Now? The UFC president is McGregor’s No. 1 fan, reminding us often that he calls him “The Unicorn” and warning anyone not to doubt his top draw.

What a time to be alive.

For more on “The Money Fight: Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor,” check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

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Source: MMA Junkie

UFC-Oklahoma City's 10 memorable moments, with controversy and comebacks, good and bad

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The main event of Sunday’s UFC Fight Night 112 fight card was supposed to set up the victor for a matchup against a top contender in the lightweight division. That could still happen – after all, Kevin Lee did earn a first-round submission win over Michael Chiesa, but the level of controversy surrounding the stoppage, and more precisely the man who made the call, referee Mario Yamasaki, might prevent Lee from getting that immediate jump up in competition.

The co-main event had no such drama. In that bout, Tim Boetsch put Johny Hendricks away with a head kick and punches, earning himself a TKO victory early in the second round.

UFC Fight Night 112 took place at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Okla.

Here are 10 memorable moments from the event.

1. You got yourself a situation there, UFC

Before his bout against Chiesa, Lee claimed he was the better fighter in every respect. Controversial stoppage aside, Lee backed up those words at UFC Fight Night 112. Chiesa had opportunities early, missing a takedown and briefly working for a couple of submissions. However, Chiesa failed to stick any of his offense, and when Chiesa (14-3 MMA, 7-3 UFC) gave up his back, Lee (16-2 MMA, 9-2 UFC) took control, securing a body lock and a rear-naked choke.

Lee appeared to have the choke in deep, and as the clock ticked down, Yamasaki waved off the fight at the 4:37 mark of Round 1. The problem with that was Chiesa had not tapped nor lost consciousness, and Chiesa immediately protested the stoppage.

It was a messy ending to an important lightweight bout. While Lee, an honorable mention in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA lightweight rankings before the fight, did get the win, the UFC has some thinking to do about what’s next for him and Chiesa, who was ranked No. 9 before his controversial defeat.

2. Everybody’s talkin’

Chiesa didn’t have much to say regarding Yamasaki during his time on the mic with UFC commentator Jon Anik, but during his backstage chat with the media, Chiesa was less reserved.

“This is the main event – that is JV bull(expletive),” Chiesa said. “That guy (Yamasaki) is too focused on being some kind of playboy in front of the cameras, making his little heart logos. Maybe he should go back and read the (expletive) rule book.”

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UFC President Dana White also got involved, taking to Instagram to let his feelings be known.

Instagram Photo

For his part, Lee didn’t see the issue.

“Mario’s a very experienced ref,” Lee said. “Mario saw it and stopped the fight. If he wouldn’t have, there was still 45 seconds left in the fight. I don’t see what the controversy is about. It wasn’t like I was going to let go.”

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Chiesa, Lee and White weren’t the only ones offering opinions on the stoppage, social media was alive with opinions following the bout.

3. Something has to change

If Hendricks plans to succeed at middleweight, he’s going to need to add to his arsenal – and make weight. After coming in two pounds heavy, the former welterweight champion was largely ineffective against Boetsch (21-11 MMA, 12-10 UFC). “The Barbarian” used kicks to prevent Hendricks (18-7 MMA, 13-7 UFC) from setting up and landing his patented overhand left.

Not only did those kicks stop Hendricks from establishing his offense, but they also ended the fight. Early in Round 2, Boetsch stunned Hendricks with a head kick and then swarmed, finishing him with punches against the cage.

The “Performance of the Night”-winning stoppage earned Boetsch his third TKO win in his last four outings. As for Hendricks, not only has he missed weight three times in his last four fights, but he is 1-3 in those contests and 3-6 dating back to November 2013.

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4. Speaking up

Felice Herrig is on the best run of her UFC career. Her unanimous decision win over Justine Kish was her third straight victory and second straight win over a formerly undefeated opponent. Despite her winning streak, Herrig is feeling under-appreciated.

“Honestly, if you want to know the truth, I just feel like I’m not young and beautiful for the UFC to want to promote me,” she said. “It’s sad because I’ve really worked hard to be here. It’s hard to see these people who’ve not been through what I’ve been through and just got to the UFC at the right time, and they’re now getting all these opportunities.

“I’ve seen how hard I’ve worked to get here, and it just doesn’t matter because I just feel I’m not pretty enough, and I’m not getting any younger.”

After her last win, Herrig (13-6 MMA, 4-1 UFC) called for a fight against either Michelle Waterson or Paige VanZant. She didn’t call out another fighter after defeating Kish (6-1 MMA, 2-1 UFC), but based on her winning streak, Herrig should get a top 15 strawweight opponent in her next outing.

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5. Remember, a sense of humor is important

Kish was close to being choked out by Herrig in the third round, but Kish fought through the choke, using muscle and force of will more than technique to break free from the submission hold. However, Kish paid a price for her efforts, something she acknowledged on social media following the fight.

6. A good June

Dominick Reyes has had a good month. On June 2, fighting for LFA, he delivered a highlight-reel knockout which earned him a short notice call up from the UFC. In his debut with the promotion, Reyes (7-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC) wrapped things up quickly, blasting Joachim Christensen with a straight left that put Christensen (14-6 MMA, 1-3 UFC) on the mat, forcing the referee to wave off the fight 29 seconds into the first round.

Reyes absorbed just one strike during the light heavyweight fight while landing 13 of the 16 he threw.

As debuts go, things could not have gone much better for Reyes, who earned a “Performance of the Night” bonus for his efforts.

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7. Struggles continue

B.J. Penn almost had his first win since his November 2010 KO of Matt Hughes. Penn dropped Dennis Siver in the second round of their featherweight contest, but he was unable to get the finish, and instead of turning up the heat in the third round, Penn came out flat. Actually, flat might be too kind. Penn (16-12-2 MMA, 12-11-2 UFC) looked like he just wanted to survive the final five minutes of the fight, throwing a paltry 27 strikes to Siver’s 117 in the last round. In the end, Siver (23-11 MMA, 12-8 UFC), fighting for the first time in two years, got the majority decision win, handing Penn his fifth straight defeat.

Before the fight, Penn told MMAjunkie, “We’re going to take this as far as it can go,” which leads to the question, has Penn reached the end of the line?

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8. Back on track

Where Penn struggled at UFC Fight Night 112, another long-tenured UFC combatant showed he has some fight left in him. Clay Guida, competing at lightweight for the first time in five years, earned a unanimous decision victory over Erik Koch.

Guida looked excellent in his return to 155. His cardio was off the charts as usual, and his striking and defense were impressive, but where he excelled was in his pressure and takedown game. Guida (33-17 MMA, 13-11 UFC) forced Koch (14-5 MMA, 4-4 UFC) to the cage for a prolonged period in the first round and controlled the fight on the mat for most of the second and third round.

Guida was never close to getting a finish, but he looked good, and he should get a step up in completion in his next outing.

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9. A major comeback

Darrell Horcher’s run in the UFC has spanned 14 eventful months. In April 2016 he was called in on short notice duty to face Khabib Nurmagomedov. Unsurprisingly he lost that fight. One month later he was involved in a motorcycle accident which left him with a cringeworthy list of injuries.

Horcher (13-2 MMA, 1-1 UFC) was told he would never fight again, but he did, earning a split decision over Devin Powell (8-3 MMA, 0-2 UFC) in a lightweight contest at UFC Fight Night 112.

“It was so emotional for me to get back,” Horcher told MMAjunkie. “I fought so hard to be here. It was a long year and what I’ve come from, most would people say a year is very short. And if you look at it on paper it is, but for me it was very hard. I pushed myself to do this, to come back, to get a win.”

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10. Give him a call

The one misstep Jared Gordon made in his UFC debut came on the scale, where he missed the featherweight limit by four pounds. Gordon is a well-rounded fighter who was comfortable wherever his fight went against Michel Quinones. On the feet Gordon (11-1 MMA, 1-0 UFC) was aggressive, using pressure to close distance and not allow Quinones (8-2 MMA, 0-1 UFC) the space he needed to mount any offense. On the ground Gordon was just as good, coupling a heavy top game with effective ground strikes, which earned him the second-round TKO.

After the fight, the former Cage Fury champion, who has struggled with substance abuse issues, let fans know they could reach out to him if need be.

“If you have any problems or anything, you can contact me on Twitter, (or) Instagram and I will take my day to talk to you guys,” Gordon told Anik.

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For complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 112, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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Source: MMA Junkie

Dennis Siver explains why getting knocked down by B.J. Penn was actually a good thing

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OKLAHOMA CITY – Most fighters would argue that getting knocked down is not exactly something you welcome during a scrap.

Not Dennis Siver, though. After taking a majority decision over former two-division champ B.J. Penn (16-12-2 MMA, 12-11-2 UFC) on Sunday, Siver (23-11 MMA, 12-8 UFC) said the right hand that sent him straight to the canvas in the second round of their featherweight encounter turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

“Actually, it was good for me,” Siver said through an interpreter after the FS1-televised main-card scrap at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Okla. “Of course I got knocked down by B.J., but I could recover on the ground. Because B.J. was active, and I was passive. My break got even longer from just laying there and holding him. So, actually, it was good for me. Played out well.”

The win snapped a two-fight skid and a two-year layoff for Siver, who was coming off a decision loss to Tatsuya Kawajiri and a knockout defeat to current lightweight champion Conor McGregor. While the result provided him with some relief, the 38-fighter is now focused on getting back to his family before making any plans for his octagon future.

Penn’s next steps, in turn, seems a lot murkier now. While he did show flashes of his old self during Sunday’s affair, the fact is that the 38-year-old UFC Hall of Famer is currently riding a five-fight skid. He has not won since a 2010 knockout of Matt Hughes, which he followed up with a draw against Jon Fitch.

In spite of Penn’s current downswing, Siver does feel a special sense of accomplishment in beating such a big name.

“It fulfills my dreams, actually,” Siver said. “You don’t fight a legend like B.J. Penn every day. It feels awesome.”

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

And for complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 112, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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Source: MMA Junkie

Sean Shelby's Shoes: What's next for Kevin Lee and UFC Fight Night 112's other winning fighters?

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The UFC made its second stop in Oklahoma City, Okla., on Sunday with UFC Fight Night 112, which took place at Chesapeake Energy Arena. The FS1-televised main card featured six fights, with half ending in a stoppage.

In the main event, Kevin Lee (16-2 MMA, 9-2 UFC) continued to establish himself as threat in the UFC lightweight division when he picked up a first-round submission victory over Michael Chiesa (14-3 MMA, 7-3 UFC), albeit with some controversy involved.

Tim Boetsch (21-11 MMA, 12-10 UFC) added another memorable win to his lengthy UFC career in the co-headliner, beating ex-UFC champ Johny Hendricks (18-7 MMA, 13-7 UFC). Other winners included Felice Herrig (13-6 MMA, 4-1 UFC), Dominick Reyes (7-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC), Tim Means (27-8-1 MMA, 9-5 UFC) and Dennis Siver (23-11 MMA, 12-8 UFC).

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 112’s winning fighters.

* * * *

Dennis Siver

Dooho Choi

Should fight: Dooho Choi
Why they should fight: After a more than two-year hiatus, Siver made a triumphant return to the octagon and earned arguably the signature win of his career by beating UFC Hall of Famer B.J. Penn.

Although it seems Penn is far past his expiration date, his name still carries weight in the sport. Siver’s majority-decision win over the former UFC champ is a memory he can cherish, even if it doesn’t do much for him in terms of advancing his place in the featherweight division.

At 38, Siver has admitted his time in the sport is limited. He’s coming off a big high, though, and if he can keep that momentum, things could get interesting for him again. Siver is a cagey veteran, but Choi (14-2 MMA, 3-1 UFC) is a heavily hyped prospect.

“The Korean Superboy” had to recently pull out of a fight due to injury following his “Fight of the Year” clash with Cub Swanson in December, but if he can get healthy, Siver would be a good test and a matchup with big excitement potential.

Tim Means

Bryan Barberena

Should fight: Bryan Barberena
Why they should fight: Means was unable to put on another dazzling display of violence inside the octagon, but he did manage to rebound from a two-fight winless skid with a smartly fought unanimous-decision victory over Alex Garcia.

It’s almost impossible to put “The Dirty Bird” into a truly boring fight, and while he would need a dramatic career shift to be considered a title contender, he’s a reliable member of the welterweight division.

Many fighters have similar reputations at 170 pounds, and Barberena (13-4 MMA, 3-2 UFC) is one. Although the fight wouldn’t have much stakes in terms of rankings relevance, it’s a matchup that both fighters would likely embrace, and it could make for a fan-pleasing affair.

Dominick Reyes

Jeremy Kimball

Should fight: Jeremy Kimball
Why they should fight: Fighting in an FS1-televised bout on short notice in his UFC debut, Reyes overcame a challenging situation when he defeated Joachim Christensen by TKO in just 29 seconds.

Reyes showed the UFC made a wise choice by giving him an opportunity, and he scored a solid win against a far more experience opponent on the biggest stage of his career.

Still young in his career, “The Devastator” is a promising addition to the suddenly flourishing light heavyweight division. Kimball (15-6 MMA, 1-1 UFC) is in a similar position after scoring a first-round TKO of Josh Stansbury during the early prelims, and matching up two fighters looking to make a name at 205 pounds is a logical decision.

Felice Herrig

Michelle Waterson

Should fight: Michelle Waterson
Why they should fight: Herrig continued to show her lone UFC defeat against Paige VanZant was not indicative of her overall ability when she pushed her strawweight winning streak to three against by beating Justine Kish.

Herrig picked up a unanimous-decision win, marking her third straight triumph over a prospect at 115 pounds. She won’t allow an up-and-comer to make her name off her veteran status, and in every fight, she solidifies the idea she’s a contender worth paying attention to.

“Lil’ Bulldog” is deserving of a noteworthy fight that will help move her up the rankings, and Waterson (14-5 MMA, 2-1 UFC) fits the description. Herrig called for a fight with “The Karate Hottie” following her win over Alex Grasso at UFC Fight Night 104 in February, and with Waterson coming off a loss to No. 1 contender Rose Namajunas, a bout with Herrig would provide an opportunity to rebound.

Tim Boetsch

David Branch

Should fight: David Branch
Why they should fight: Boetsch has had a knack for playing spoiler throughout his UFC career. He did it again when he derailed the middleweight revival of Oklahoma’s own Johny Hendricks.

Boetsch handed the former UFC welterweight champion his first loss at 185 pounds with a second-round TKO in what was his 22nd UFC appearance. “The Barbarian” had had an up-and-down run inside the octagon, but every so often he shows what he’s capable of against a big-name foe.

Consistency has been the grinder’s biggest problem, and while the win over Hendricks was significant, the 36-year-old has to prove it’s not too late to make a run.

Boetsch has won three of his past four bouts, though, and he’s earned another chance to break into the 185-pound rankings. Branch (21-3 MMA, 3-2 UFC), who’s riding a 12-fight winning streak, holds the No. 7 spot in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA middleweight rankings, and it’d be interesting to see how Boetsch’s style would clash with the former two-division WSOF champion.

Kevin Lee

Should fight: Edson Barboza
Why they should fight: Watch the video above to see why Lee should fight Barboza (19-4 MMA, 13-4 UFC) next.

For complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 112, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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Source: MMA Junkie

UFC Fight Night 112 post-event facts: Don't let controversy overshadow Kevin Lee's success

The UFC’s return to Oklahoma City, Okla., provided plenty of fight time, with eight of the 13 fights on Sunday’s UFC Fight Night 112 lineup at Chesapeake Energy Arena going to a decision.

Kevin Lee (16-2 MMA, 9-2 UFC) didn’t need the scorecards to win the lightweight main event against Michael Chiesa (14-3 MMA, 7-3 UFC), but he could have used better officiating; his first-round submission win was overshadowed by a premature stoppage from referee Mario Yamasaki.

Nevertheless, “The Motown Phenom” got another notable win, helping advance his status in the UFC lightweight division. For more on the numbers to come out of Sunday’s event, check out 50 post-event facts from UFC Fight Night 112.

* * * *

General

Clay Guida

The UFC-Reebok Athlete Outfitting payout for the event totaled $182,500.

Debuting fighters went 2-1 at the event.

Lee, Tim Boetsch, Dominick Reyes and Jeremy Kimball earned $50,000 UFC Fight Night 112 fight-night bonuses.

UFC Fight Night 112 drew an announced attendance of 7,605 for a live gate of $549,302.

Betting favorites went 9-4 on the card.

Total fight time for the 13-bout card was 2:21:37.

Main card

Michael Chiesa and Kevin Lee

Lee’s five-fight UFC winning streak in lightweight competition is tied with Al Iaquinta for the third longest active streak in the division behind Tony Ferguson (nine) and Khabib Nurmagomedov (seven).

Lee’s nine UFC victories since 2012 in lightweight competition are most in the division.

Lee has earned eight of his nine career stoppage victories by submission.

Lee’s three-fight submission streak in UFC competition is the longest among active fighters.

Michael Chiesa

Lee has earned his past four victories by stoppage.

Lee has completed at least one takedown against 10 of his 11 UFC opponents.

Lee’s 25 takedowns since 2014 in UFC lightweight competition are most in the division.

Chiesa has suffered all three of his career losses by stoppage.

Chiesa failed to complete a takedown for the first time in his career.

Tim Boetsch (21-11 MMA, 12-10 UFC) improved to 3-1 since he returned to the UFC middleweight division in July 2016.

Tim Boetsch

Boetsch has earned his past four UFC victories by stoppage.

Johny Hendricks (18-7 MMA, 13-7 UFC) fell to 1-1 since he moved up to the UFC middleweight division in February.

Hendricks fell to 1-4 in his past five fights.

Hendricks has suffered both of his career stoppage losses by knockout.

Felice Herrig

Felice Herrig’s (13-6 MMA, 4-1 UFC) four victories in UFC strawweight competition are tied for second most in divisional history behind champ Joanna Jedrzejczyk (eight).

Herrig’s three-fight UFC winning streak in strawweight competition is the second longest active streak in the division behind Jedrzejczyk (eight).

Herrig has earned eight of her 13 career victories by decision.

Justine Kish (6-1 MMA, 2-1 UFC) had her six-fight winning streak snapped for the first defeat of her career.

Dominick Reyes

Reyes (7-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC) has earned six of his seven career victories by first-round stoppage.

Reyes’ 29-second victory marked the second fastest stoppage by any debuting light heavyweight in UFC history behind Ryan Jimmo’s seven-second win at UFC 149.

Joachim Christensen (14-6 MMA, 1-3 UFC) suffered the first knockout loss of his career.

Tim Means (27-8-1 MMA, 9-5 UFC) improved to 7-3 (with one no-contest) since he returned to the UFC for a second stint in May 2014.

Dennis Siver

Dennis Siver (23-11 MMA, 12-8 UFC) returned to competition after a more than two-year layoff and earned his first victory since October 2014.

Siver improved to 4-3 (with one no-contest) since he dropped to the UFC featherweight division in April 2012.

Siver has earned his past six UFC victories by decision. He hasn’t earned a stoppage victory since November 2010.

B.J. Penn (16-12-2 MMA, 12-11-2 UFC) suffered his fifth consecutive loss to extend the longest skid of his career. He hasn’t earned a victory since November 2010.

B.J. Penn

Penn fell to 1-7-1 in his past nine UFC appearances dating back to April 2010.

Penn fell to 0-3 since he dropped to the UFC featherweight division in July 2014.

Penn has been outlanded 747 to 312 in significant strikes during his past nine UFC fights.

Penn has suffered eight of his 12 career losses by decision.

Preliminary card

Clay Guida

Clay Guida (33-17 MMA, 13-11 UFC) was successful in his return to the UFC lightweight division. He earned his first victory in the weight class since June 2011.

Guida’s 63 takedowns landed in UFC competition are fifth most in company history behind Georges St-Pierre (87), Gleison Tibau (84), Frankie Edgar (67) and Demetrious Johnson (65).

Guida has attempted 172 takedowns during his UFC career, third most in company history behind Demian Maia (189) and Edgar (189).

Erik Koch (14-5 MMA, 4-4 UFC) fell to 2-4 in his past six UFC appearances.

Koch fell to 2-2 since returning to the UFC lightweight division in February 2014.

Carla Esparza

Carla Esparza (12-4 MMA, 3-2 UFC) improved to 2-1 since losing the UFC strawweight title to Joanna Jedrzejczyk in March 2015.

Esparza has completed at least one takedown against all five of her UFC opponents.

Esparza has completed 16 takedowns in her three UFC victories.

Maryna Moroz (8-2 MMA, 3-2 UFC) has suffered both of her career losses by decision.

Devin Powell (8-3 MMA, 0-2 UFC) has suffered all three of his career losses by decision.

Michel Quinones (8-2 MMA, 0-1 UFC) had his five-fight winning streak snapped for his first defeat since November 2012.

Quinones suffered the first knockout loss of his career.

Johnny Case (22-5 MMA, 4-2 UFC) suffered consecutive losses for the first time in nearly 10 years.

Jeremy Kimball

Case suffered the first decision loss of his career.

Kimball (15-6 MMA, 1-1 UFC) has earned 12 of his 15 career victories by stoppage.

Josh Stansbury (8-4 MMA, 1-2 UFC) suffered the first knockout loss of his career.

For complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 112, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

FightMetric research analyst and live statistics producer Michael Carroll contributed to this story. Follow him on Twitter @MJCflipdascript.

Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

Glory days are over for B.J. Penn and Fedor Emelianenko, so why won't anyone tell them?

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Filed under: Bellator, Featured, News, UFC

The circumstances alone tell you how far B.J. Penn has fallen. Sunday night, a relatively lackluster UFC Fight Night event on cable TV, and he’s there opening the main-card portion of the show against a journeyman fighter coming off a two-year layoff.

Even worse, he loses.

This is the reality now for Penn. The UFC keeps giving him more chances to turn things around, lowering the bar each time he fails to clear it, and Penn keeps finding new ways to trip over it. This one – a majority decision loss to Dennis Siver at UFC Fight Night 112 in Oklahoma City< Okla. – wasn’t even as bad as some of the others.

He didn’t get knocked out. He didn’t get embarrassed. In fact, he came closer to winning than he has in at least six years. A solid right hand put Siver (23-11 MMA, 12-8 UFC) down in the second round, and a few followup strikes from Penn (16-12-2 MMA, 12-11-2 UFC) threatened to finish him off.

But when Siver didn’t roll over and quit, Penn faced a real problem. Whatever he had, he’d just spent. Siver came out for the third round looking to do some work whereas Penn looked like he’d rather go home. Surviving seemed like enough for him then, and he barely accomplished that.

Put that in perspective, would you? The great B.J. Penn, a former two-division champ, one of the best lightweights in UFC history, and now he’s lucky to survive three rounds with an aging and rusty Dennis Siver. If he can’t do any better than that, why do it at all?

It’s a question you could just as easily put to Fedor Emelianenko, another ghost from MMA’s past who added to his list of losses this past weekend. Emelianenko (36-5 MMA, 0-1 BMMA)  got put to sleep by Matt Mitrione (12-5 MMA, 3-0 BMMA) at Bellator NYC on Saturday night, which was his reward for being the slower party in the immediate aftermath of a rare double knockdown.

While Penn’s latest loss added to the worst losing streak of his career, Emelianenko’s snapped an actual winning streak. You know, sort of. Fighting in a string of smaller promotions in recent years has given Emelianenko the advantage of the friendliest possible matchmaking, along with some friendly judging to serve as an extra safety net.

It wasn’t until he signed with Bellator that he was forced to fight a real heavyweight for the first time in several years, and it ended with him laid out on the mat a little over a minute into the fight. Like Penn, he now finds himself a long way from the glory days of 2009.

And those days, they aren’t coming back. Not for Emelianenko and not for Penn. They must know that on some level, but they keep at it because they can. They can still pocket a paycheck for it. There are enough people for whom their names still mean something.

They have not yet been forcibly ejected from the sport, which means that as long they’re willing to take the beatings, they still have a home here. The pain and the public embarrassment is the rent they pay. As long as they regard it as a fair exchange, and as long as no one close to them can convince them to stop making it, here we are.

This is nothing new in combat sports, but that doesn’t make it fun to sit through. The current climate rewards name brands and nostalgia over actual skill and talent, meaning it’s never been a better time to be a past-his-prime fighter willing to trade what’s left of his reputation and brain cells for a few more nights in the cage.

Of course, another way of looking at it is that it’s never been a worse time to be one of those fighters, since those late career letdowns don’t come for free. There’s a price to be paid, and it’s not just in cable bills and pay-per-view dollars.

Penn and Emelianenko both seem eager to keep paying it, even if they might not know for years what the final bill comes to. The rest of us, we seem strangely addicted to this specific brand of sadness. We want to see fighters we know, even when it’s painfully apparent that the name is all that’s left of the man. We get that jolt of recognition, followed by the depressing reminder of their ongoing and inevitable deterioration.

Eventually, maybe we’ll decide it’s not such a good trade. Then again, we keep waiting for guys like Penn and Emelianenko to decide the same thing. So far neither one of us is truly ready to quit.

For complete coverage of Bellator NYC and UFC Fight Night 112, check out the MMA Events section of the site.

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

Fight Tracks: The walkout songs of UFC Fight Night 112, with Johnny Cash, Zeppelin, DMX

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While it take intense training, world-class skills and maybe even a bit of luck to register a UFC win, picking the right song to accompany you to the cage is a key talent, as well.

See what the fighters of Sunday’s UFC Fight Night 112 in Oklahoma City, Okla., went with as their backing tracks.

* * * *

Kevin Lee def. Michael Chiesa via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 1, 4:37

Kevin Lee: “First Day Out” by Tee Grizzly

Michael Chiesa: “Stranglehold” by Ted Nugent

Tim Boetsch def. Johny Hendricks via TKO (punches) – Round 2, 0:46

Tim Boetsch: “The Man Comes Around” by Johnny Cash

Johny Hendricks: “I’ll Sing About Mine” by Josh Abbott Band

Felice Herrig def. Justine Kish via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-26, 29-27)

Felice Herrig: “Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey

Justine Kish: “Whole Lotta Love” by Led Zeppelin

Dominick Reyes def. Joachim Christensen via TKO (punches) – Round 1, 0:29

Dominick Reyes: “Congratulations” by Post Malone feat. Quavo

Joachim Christensen: “Holy Moly” by J Mix feat. Hakeem

Tim Means def. Alex Garcia via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)

Tim Means: “Slipping” by DMX

Alex Garcia: “Banana Boat Song” by Harry Belafonte

Dennis Siver def. B.J. Penn via majority decision (28-28, 29-28, 29-27)

Dennis Siver: “Last Resort” by Papa Roach

B.J. Penn: “Hawaii 78″/”E Ale E” by Israel Kamakawlwo’Ole

Clay Guida def. Erik Koch via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-26, 30-27)

Clay Guida: “Kickstart My Heart” by Motley Crue

Erik Koch: “C’Mon (Catch ‘Em By Surprise)” by Tiesto vs. Diplo

Marvin Vettori def. Vitor Miranda via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)

Marvin Vettori: “Falling Away From Me” by Marvin Vettori

Vitor Miranda: “Save Me” by Remy Zero

Carla Esparza def. Maryna Moroz via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)

Carla Esparza: “Bodies” by Drowning Pool

Maryna Moroz: “BomBom” by Macklemore & Ryan lewis feat. The Teaching

Darrell Horcher def. Devin Powell via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)

Darrell Horcher: “Miracle” by Nonpoint

Devin Powell: “We’re Alive” by Eyenine

Jared Gordon def. Michel Quinones via TKO (strikes) – Round 2, 4:24

Jared Gordon: “Flash” by Queen

Michel Quinones: “Keep It Thoro” by Prodigy

Tony Martin def. Johnny Case via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)

Tony Martin: “The Last Breath” by Future

Johnny Case: “Soul to Squeeze” by Red Hot Chili Peppers

Jeremy Kimball def Josh Stansbury via TKO (punches) – Round 1, 1:21

Jeremy Kimball: “You Can’t Stop Me” by Andy Mineo

Josh Stansbury: “Many Men” by 50 Cent

For complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 112, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

UFC Fight Night 112 Athlete Outfitting pay: Program payout total passes $13 million

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. – Fighters from Sunday’s UFC Fight Night 112 event took home UFC Athlete Outfitting pay, a program that launched after the UFC’s deal with Reebok, totaling $182,500.

UFC Fight Night 112 took place at Chesapeake Arena in Oklahoma City, Okla. The main card aired on FS1 following prelims on FS2 and UFC Fight Pass.

The third highest non-PPV event payout of the year saw four fighters earn a maximum non-title payout. Veterans Tim Boetsch (21-11 MMA, 12-10 UFC), Dennis Siver (23-11 MMA, 12-8 UFC), B.J. Penn (16-12-2 MMA, 12-11-2 UFC), and Clay Guida (33-17 MMA, 13-11 UFC) each took home $20,000 for making 21 or more appearances under the program structure.

The full UFC Fight Night 112 UFC Athlete Outfitting payouts included:

Kevin Lee: $10,000
def. Michael Chiesa: $5,000

Tim Boetsch: $20,000
def. Johny Hendricks: $15,000

Felice Herrig: $2,500
def. Justine Kish: $2,500

Dominick Reyes: $2,500
def. Joachim Christensen: $2,500

Tim Means: $10,000
def. Alex Garcia: $5,000

Dennis Siver: $20,000
def. B.J. Penn: $20,000

Clay Guida: $20,000
def. Erik Koch: $10,000

Marvin Vettori: $2,500
def. Vitor Miranda: $5,000

Carla Esparza: $2,500
def. Maryna Moroz: $2,500

Darrell Horcher: $2,500
def. Devin Powell: $2,500

Jared Gordon: $2,500
def. Michel Quinones: $2,500

Tony Martin: $5,000
def. Johnny Case: $5,000

Jeremy Kimball: $2,500
def. Josh Stansbury: $2,500

Under the UFC Athlete Outfitting program’s payout tiers, which appropriate the money generated by Reebok’s multi-year sponsorship with the UFC, fighters are paid based on their total number of UFC bouts, as well as Zuffa-era WEC fights (January 2007 and later) and Zuffa-era Strikeforce bouts (April 2011 and later). Fighters with 1-5 bouts receive $2,500 per appearance; 6-10 bouts get $5,000; 11-15 bouts earn $10,000; 16-20 bouts pocket $15,000; and 21 bouts and more get $20,000. Additionally, champions earn $40,000 while title challengers get $30,000.

In addition to experience-based pay, UFC fighters will receive in perpetuity royalty payments amounting to 20-30 percent of any UFC merchandise sold that bears their likeness, according to officials.

Full 2017 UFC-Reebok sponsorship payouts:

Year-to-date total: $2,807,500
2016 total: $7,138,000
2015 total: $3,185,000
Program-to-date total: $13,130,500

For complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 112, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

UFC Fight Night 112 results: Dennis Siver wins decision over B.J. Penn despite getting dropped

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Filed under: Featured, News, UFC

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Former UFC lightweight and welterweight champion B.J. Penn had just enough pop left in him to put Dennis Siver down exactly once. But when Siver got up and kept fighting, Penn didn’t have an answer.

The result was a weak finish from Penn (16-12-2 MMA, 12-11-2 UFC) and a strong one from Siver (23-11 MMA, 12-8 UFC), who took the fight via majority decision with scores of 28-28, 29-28, 29-27.

The featherweight bout opened up the main card of today’s UFC Fight Night 112 event at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Okla. It aired on FS1 following prelims on FS2 and UFC Fight Pass.

Flashes of the old Penn showed up in this fight, albeit sparingly. In the first round he struggled to get his jab going, leaving him to contend with the high striking output of Siver, but in the second frame Penn seemed to settle into his striking game.

Late in the round a counter right hand from Penn caught Siver flush and sent him stumbling to the canvas, with Penn in close pursuit. But rather than pouring on the punishment from the top or looking for a submission to finish the fight, Penn was content to ride out the round.

That would prove to be a mistake, as Siver came out for the third round fully recovered and ready to push the pace, while Penn seemed to have little left in the tank to answer him.

Siver spent that final round backing Penn into the fence, battering him with increasingly accurate combination punching and head kicks, while also attacking Penn’s lead leg with kicks and further limiting his already limited mobility. By the end, Penn seemed glad just to survive to the final horn.

There was little agreement among the judges after those three rounds, with one scoring it a draw and the other two giving the fight to Siver by slightly different scores.

The majority decision win is Siver’s first victory since 2014, marking the end of a two-year layoff. Penn has now lost five straight fights in the UFC, and has not won since his 2010 knockout of Matt Hughes.

Up-to-the-minute UFC Fight Night 112 results include:

For complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 112, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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

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

Twitter reacts to B.J. Penn's loss to Dennis Siver at UFC Fight Night 112

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Dennis Siver caused another hiccup in B.J. Penn’s long and tumultuous journey to another UFC win on Sunday when he defeated the UFC Hall of Famer.

Siver (23-11 MMA, 12-8 UFC) returned to competition from a more than two-year layoff and earned his first victory since October 2014 when he topped the former two-division UFC champ Penn (16-12-2 MMA, 12-11-2 UFC) by majority decision in the FS1-televised UFC Fight Night 112 featherweight contest at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City. Early prelims streamed on UFC Fight Pass.

Check below for the top Twitter reactions to Siver’s victory over Penn at UFC Fight Night 112.

* * * *

For complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 112, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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