Matt Brown's win, Diego Sanchez's loss, and a conflict as old as the fight game

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History told us what was going to happen when Matt Brown met Diego Sanchez in UFC Fight Night 120’s co-main event on Saturday. Not just in the fight itself, but in everything that came after.

You take a grizzled old junkyard dog like Sanchez (27-11 MMA, 16-11 UFC), up a weight class and in there against a human woodchipper like Brown (21-16 MMA, 14-10 UFC), who swears it’s his last fight? You look at the knockouts that never used to find their way to Sanchez’s door, but only recently seemed to figure out exactly where he lives. You factor in the chance for Brown to get a finish that might be the finish.

What you have there is a recipe for sudden unconscious that would leave one man in doubt and the other as resolute as ever.

What’s too bad is that each of those post-fight feelings found their way to the wrong man. But then, you knew that would happen too, didn’t you?

Start with Brown, who was offered a fond farewell on a silver platter here. Sanchez doesn’t have the size or power or resiliency for welterweight these days. He also no longer has the quickness or speed that might otherwise be the smaller man’s saving grace. As Brown caught Sanchez’s kick and used it to walk him back into the fence, you could almost see him doing this math in his head.

Then came the elbow, an almost disdainful blow that went arcing down through Sanchez’s hopeless defenses. One was all it took to turn Sanchez upside-down and inside-out. The way Brown lingered over his crumpled body before being shoved away and into his victory celebration, you kind of got the sense that he was wishing it would have required more of him.

So yeah, of course retirement doesn’t sound like such a great idea now. Of course he’s doubting his own decision. Why wouldn’t he?

He felt great out there, man. He had a great training camp. He was fit and focused and determined, which sometimes happens to fighters when they tell themselves it’s the last time they’ll ever have to put themselves through this. Then he went out there and smashed the guy who seemed tailor-made for smashing.

On one hand, what are the odds he’ll ever find a better win to end on? On the other, why quit when you clearly don’t have to yet?

But then you have to ask yourself what it will look like when you have to. And chances are, it’ll look a lot like what’s been going on with Sanchez lately. Not that he is in any way capable of seeing it for what it is.

Sanchez, to the surprise of absolutely no one, was grinning through the scar tissue over on Instagram after his second straight knockout loss, assuring us, “I’m not done.”

“I still have fight in me,” Sanchez wrote.

In a way, you know that’s probably true. Even if he doesn’t have any more wins left in him, he still has the will and the desire to march directly into the cannon fire. That’ll probably be the last thing to go, which is a good way to get yourself badly hurt in this sport.

But what else is he supposed to do? He doesn’t want to go out like that. Plus, while he’s somehow only 35, in terms of chronological age, this has been Sanchez’s life for the last 15 years. He broke into the UFC by winning “The Ultimate Fighter’s” first season, for crying out loud. You think after all that he’s going to, what, go and get a job at a bank?

These are some of the oldest conflicts in the fight game. It’s relatively easy to start this life, especially when you’re young enough that you can’t even imagine ever getting old. It’s stopping that proves to be the hard part, because whether the game tries to spit you out by force or whether it gives you the gentlest push at the end of a last loving embrace, you’re always going to wonder if it has more to offer.

Maybe just one more. And then we’ll see. But yeah, probably one more after that, just to be sure.

Because to even make it this far, you had to build up that brand of stubborn momentum, the kind that’ll carry you crashing through one wall after another – and there are a lot of them in this sport.

You can tell yourself you’re going to slow down gradually. Or you can vow to keep picking up speed. Either way, it’s probably not going to prepare you for the sudden force of that final stop.

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

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Source: MMA Junkie

UFC Fight Night 120 Athlete Outfitting pay: Highest non-PPV payout in program history

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NORFOLK, Va. – Fighters from Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 120 event took home UFC Athlete Outfitting pay, a program that launched after the UFC’s deal with Reebok, totaling $245,000.

UFC Fight Night 120 took place at Ted Constant Convocation Center in Norfolk, Va. The card aired on FS1 following early prelims on UFC Fight Pass.

Seven fighters on the card earned a maximum non-title payout of $20,000, the most of any card thus far in the history of the program.

The full UFC Fight Night 120 UFC Athlete Outfitting payouts included:

Dustin Poirier: $20,000
def. Anthony Pettis: $15,000

Matt Brown: $20,000
def. Diego Sanchez: $20,000

Andrei Arlovski: $20,000
def. Junior Albini: $2,500

Cezar Ferreira: $10,000
def. Nate Marquardt: $20,000

Raphael Assuncao: $15,000
def. Matthew Lopez: $2,500

Clay Guida: $20,000
def. Joe Lauzon: $20,000

Marlon Moraes: $2,500
def. John Dodson: $10,000

Tatiana Suarez: $2,500
def. Viviane Pereira: $2,500

Sage Northcutt: $5,000
def. Michel Quinones: $2,500

Nina Ansaroff: $2,500
def. Angela Hill: $5,000

Sean Strickland: $5,000
def. Court McGee: $10,000

Jake Collier: $5,000
def. Marcel Fortuna: $2,500

Karl Roberson: $2,500
def. Darren Stewart: $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: $5,322,500
2016 total: $7,138,000
2015 total: $3,185,000
Program-to-date total: $15,645,500

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

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Source: MMA Junkie

Matt Brown after UFC-Norfolk knockout win: Retirement decision can wait until later

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NORFOLK, Va. – The question of whether Matt Brown’s highlight-reel knockout of Diego Sanchez at UFC Fight Night 120 will be his last will have to wait to be answered.

Brown isn’t ready to make the call yet, despite announcing that Saturday’s appearance would be his last in the octagon.

“To be honest, I’m not even thinking about it right now,” Brown told MMAjunkie after his FS1-televised win at Ted Constant Convocation Center in Norfolk, Va. “It’s not even really a thought in my mind. I’m thinking about enjoying tonight, and we’ll talk about it later.”

In the cage after his win, Brown (21-16 MMA, 14-10 UFC) said he would discuss the subject of retirement with friends and family before making a final decision. Until the final weeks prior to the fight, that appeared to be made. But then he walked back his declaration that he would call it a career after his meeting with Sanchez (27-11 MMA, 16-11 UFC).

A stellar training camp made Brown reconsider his end date. But there were also plenty of people telling him he shouldn’t hang it up.

“I’ve definitely had more people tell me not to retire than to retire,” Brown said. “But nobody other than me and my family really has any bearing on that – and close friends. So I’m not even going to allow anybody else’s opinions to get into my mind like that.”

Brown’s win not only added another impressive win to his resume. It also snapped a losing skid that likely motivated his decision to give himself one final chance of turning things around.

“Ending (the skid) feels good, but I felt like I needed a finish, because I wasn’t getting the job done, Brown said. “I had to at least show myself that I’m better than I’ve been fighting.”

Now that he’s done that, it’s hard to imagine Brown deciding he’s finished. But that’s a decision he’ll make for himself.

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

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Diego Sanchez after brutal KO loss to Matt Brown at UFC-Norfolk: 'I'm not done yet'

Those pleading for Diego Sanchez to retire after his highlight-reel knockout loss to Matt Brown at UFC Fight Night 120 won’t have their wish granted.

Sanchez (27-11 MMA, 16-11 UFC), who suffered a brutal first-round knockout courtesy of a vicious elbow from Brown (21-16 MMA, 14-10 UFC) in Saturday’s FS1-televised welterweight co-headliner at Ted Constant Convocation Center in Norfolk, Va., said he intends to fight on despite a 3-6 record in his past nine octagon appearances.

“The Nightmare” released an update on social media at the conclusion of the event (via Instagram):

Instagram Photo

I love y’all fans hope you guys liked the fight, what can I say but it hurts to let down the family. But that’s the fight game. I still have fight in me I’m not done yet I know that @iamtheimmortal what a classy competitor

Sanchez, who was making his 27th UFC appearance at the event after winning Season 1 of “The Ultimate Fighter” in 2005, suffered his third knockout loss in his past four fights. He’d never suffered a true loss due to strikes prior to that, but even his latest streak of results apparently won’t deter him.

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

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Twitter reacts to Matt Brown's UFC-Norfolk KO of Diego Sanchez … that no one saw

Whether it’s his retirement fight or not, Matt Brown got another high moment in his career Saturday when he defeated Diego Sanchez in the UFC Fight Night 120 co-main event.

Brown (21-16 MMA, 14-10 MMA) flip-flopped on retirement going into the fight, but it didn’t appear to impact his performance because he delivered a vintage performance to defeat “The Ultimate Fighter 1” winner Sanchez (27-11 MMA, 16-11 UFC) by first-round knockout in the FS1-televised welterweight bout at Ted Constant Convocation Center in Norfolk, Va.

Check below for the top Twitter reactions to Brown’s victory over Sanchez at UFC Fight Night 120.

* * * *

http://twitter.com/alexvolkanovski/status/929581852846780418

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

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Source: MMA Junkie

UFC Fight Night 120 results: Matt Brown survives near finish, devastates Diego Sanchez

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It didn’t go as long as some might have hoped, but it delivered everything one might expect, as Matt Brown (21-16 MMA, 14-10 UFC) was almost finished but came back to score a first-round knockout of Diego Sanchez (27-11 MMA, 16-11 UFC).

The welterweight bout was the co-main event of today’s UFC Fight Night 120 event at Ted Constant Convocation Center on the Old Dominion University campus in Norfolk, Va. It aired on FS1 following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass.

Sanchez sprinted forward at the start and immediately shot inside for a takedown. Brown sprawled well at the fence and looked to drop in a few elbows but wisely focused on position, instead, keeping himself upright. Sanchez eventually had to back away, and the two looked to strike. Sanchez again changed levels, but Brown was able to push him away with no issue. Another takedown attempt came up short shortly after, and Brown seemed in complete control of the positioning.

A firefight followed, and Sanchez landed a beautiful left kick to the liver that saw Brown wince noticeably, but there was no follow-up attack. It was a terrible mistake, as Brown would catch another kick shortly after and back his opponent to the fence. “The Immortal” then threw a pinpoint right elbow over the top that landed flush to the head and sent Sanchez crashing to the floor. There would be no need for a follow-up blow after the highlight-reel walk-off.

Brown, who openly discussed retirement prior to the fight, remained non-committal in his post-fight speech.

Up-to-the-minute UFC Fight Night 120 results include:

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

(MMAjunkie’s Matt Erickson contributed to this report on site in Norfolk.)

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Source: MMA Junkie

UFC-Norfolk staff picks: In close fight, who has edge between Anthony Pettis, Dustin Poirier?

Pettis
vs.
Poirier
Brown
vs.
Sanchez
Albini
vs.
Arlovski
Ferreira
vs.
Marquardt
Assuncao
vs.
Lopez
Guida
vs.
Lauzon
MMAjunkie readers’
consensus picks
2017: 108-72
poirier2017
Poirier
(57%)
mbrown2017
Brown
(80%)
albini2017
Albini
(62%)
ferreira2017
Ferreira
(53%)
assuncao2017
Assuncao
(90%)
lauzon2017
Lauzon
(72%)
Simon Samano
@SJSamano
2017: 114-66
poirier2017
Poirier
mbrown2017
Brown
albini2017
Albini
ferreira2017
Ferreira
mlopez2017
Lopez
lauzon2017
Lauzon
Ben Fowlkes @BenFowlkesMMA
2017: 112-68
trophy copy 2016 Champion
apettis2017
Pettis
mbrown2017
Brown
albini2017
Albini
ferreira2017
Ferreira
assuncao2017
Assuncao
lauzon2017
Lauzon
Steven Marrocco @MMAjunkieSteven
2017: 111-69
poirier2017
Poirier
mbrown2017
Brown
albini2017
Albini
ferreira2017
Ferreira
assuncao2017
Assuncao
lauzon2017
Lauzon
Dann Stupp
@DannStupp
2017: 111-69
trophy copy 2015 Champion
poirier2017
Poirier
mbrown2017
Brown
albini2017
Albini
ferreira2017
Ferreira
assuncao2017
Assuncao
guida2017
Guida
Brian Garcia
@thegoze
2017: 109-71
poirier2017
Poirier
mbrown2017
Brown
arlovski2017
Arlovski
ferreira2017
Ferreira
assuncao2017
Assuncao
guida2017
Guida
Fernanda Prates @nandaprates_
2017: 106-74
poirier2017
Poirier
mbrown2017
Brown
albini2017
Albini
ferreira2017
Ferreira
assuncao2017
Assuncao
lauzon2017
Lauzon
Matt Erickson @MMAjunkieMatt
2017: 105-75
apettis2017
Pettis
dsanchez2017
Sanchez
albini2017
Albini
marquardt2017
Marquardt
assuncao2017
Assuncao
lauzon2017
Lauzon
George Garcia @MMAjunkieGeorge
2017: 104-76
poirier2017
Poirier
mbrown2017
Brown
arlovski2017
Arlovski
ferreira2017
Ferreira
assuncao2017
Assuncao
lauzon2017
Lauzon
John Morgan @MMAjunkieJohn
2017: 102-78
poirier2017
Poirier
mbrown2017
Brown
arlovski2017
Arlovski
ferreira2017
Ferreira
assuncao2017
Assuncao
guida2017
Guida
Mike Bohn @MikeBohnMMA
2017: 101-77
trophy copy 2014 Champion
poirier2017
Poirier
mbrown2017
Brown
albini2017
Albini
ferreira2017
Ferreira
assuncao2017
Assuncao
guida2017
Guida

For the fourth time overall, and first time in Norfolk, the UFC touches down in Virginia this week.

UFC Fight Night 120 takes place Saturday at Ted Constant Convocation Center in Norfolk, Va., on the campus of Old Dominion University. It airs on FS1 following early prelims on UFC Fight Pass.

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

In the main event, former lightweight champion Anthony Pettis (20-6 MMA, 7-5 UFC) takes on perennial title contender Dustin Poirier (21-5 MMA, 13-4 UFC). The 155-pound bout is a close one with the oddsmakers – Pettis is just a slight favorite. But it’s Poirier who has an overwhelming 8-2 advantage from our 10 MMAjunkie editors, writers and radio hosts.

In the co-feature, Matt Brown (20-16 MMA, 13-10 UFC) will fight for the final time when he meets Diego Sanchez (27-10 MMA, 16-10 UFC) in a welterweight bout. Brown is a 3.5-1 favorite over Sanchez, and he has an overwhelming 9-1 edge from our pickers.

Also on the main card, heavyweight prospect Junior Albini (14-2 MMA, 1-0 UFC) takes on former champ Andrei Arlovski (25-15 MMA, 14-9 UFC), who will be trying to snap a five-fight skid. Albini is more than a 3-1 favorite and is a 7-3 pick from our staff members. Cezar Ferreira (11-6 MMA, 7-4 UFC) is yet another big favorite in his middleweight bout against Nate Marquardt (35-18-2 MMA, 13-11 UFC), and only one of our pickers is brave enough to take Marquardt with the upset, leaving Ferreira a 9-1 choice.

Bantamweight standout Raphael Assuncao (25-5 MMA, 9-2 UFC) is more than a 3-1 favorite and is a 9-1 pick over Matthew Lopez (10-1 MMA, 2-1 UFC). And to open the main card, a lightweight fight between Clay Guida (33-17 MMA, 13-11 UFC) and Joe Lauzon (27-13 MMA, 14-10 UFC) features 24 fight-night bonuses between the two. It’s the closest fight on the card from an odds standpoint, and it’s the closest fight in our picks: Lauzon has just a 6-4 edge.

In the MMAjunkie reader consensus picks, Poirier, Brown, Albini, Ferreira, Assuncao and Lauzon are the choices.

Check out all the picks above.

For more on UFC Fight Night 120, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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Source: MMA Junkie

10 reasons to watch UFC-Norfolk, and hey, have you really seen this card's depth?

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Filed under: Featured, News, UFC

Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 120 fight card might not be as star-studded as the recent UFC 217 blockbuster, but it’s still a deep card full of recognizable names worthy of your attention.

In the main event, former lightweight champion Anthony Pettis looks to show that he’s still a player in the 155-pound division despite a record of 1-3 in his four most recent lightweight contests. Pettis’ opponent, Dustin Poirier, is anxious to keep climbing the divisional rankings since returning to lightweight in 2015.

In the co-main event, two veteran brawlers meet in a welterweight bout that might be the final fight for one of them. Matt Brown might call it a career after his bout against Diego Sanchez, but then again, he might not.

UFC Fight Night 120 takes place at Ted Constant Convocation Center in Norfolk, Va. It airs on FS1 following early prelims on UFC Fight Pass.

Here are 10 reasons to watch the event.

1. On the hunt

With a move up the 155-pound rankings on the line, the headlining bout between Poirier (21-5 MMA, 13-4 UFC) and Pettis (20-6 MMA, 7-5 UFC) is a must watch.

Poirier is currently No. 13 in the most recent USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA lightweight rankings. Former lightweight champ Pettis checks in at No. 11.

After a two-fight run at featherweight, Pettis returned to form in his most recent fight, a decision win over Jim Miller. Pettis looked loose and relaxed in that bout. He employed a high-pressure and unconventional striking game that harkened back to his glory days. As for Poirier, he’s coming off an exciting fight with former champ Eddie Alvarez that unfortunately ended in a no-contest in the second round after Alvarez landed illegal knees to Poirier’s head.

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Before the Alvarez fight, Poirier was on a 5-1 run at 155 pounds. During that stretch, he looked like a complete and confident fighter. This bout should let us know if Pettis is indeed back to form.

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2. Leather will fly

Imagine how glorious a fight between Brown (20-16 MMA, 13-10 UFC)
and Sanchez (27-10 MMA, 16-10 UFC) would have been just a few years ago. Between 2013 and 2014, Brown took home a bonus in each of his four bouts. Sanchez earned bonuses in six of his nine fights between 2009 and 2013. Neither has picked up a bonus since then.

That’s not to say this welterweight matchup is going to be a snoozer. Fans are almost guaranteed a slobberknocker, but with Brown’s record at 1-5 in his six most recent bouts and Sanchez 3-3 in his past six, it feels like this fight would have been more fun had it come a little sooner.

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Brown is the more technical striker of the two while Sanchez tends to bite down on his mouthpiece and throw caution to the wind. Brown suffered the first two knockout losses of his career in his two most recent outings. Sanchez was also knocked out in his two most recent setbacks.

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3. A hard act to follow

In his UFC debut, Junior Albini scored a first-round knockout of Timothy Johnson. He earned a sorely needed “Performance of the Night” bonus that night.

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

Albini (14-2 MMA, 1-0 UFC) faces former heavyweight champion and current rankings honorable mention Andrei Arlovski (25-15 MMA, 14-9 UFC), who, with five straight losses on his record (four by stoppage), is in the worst slump of his lengthy career.

As an aside, hopefully the UFC gets Albini a pair of shorts that fit for this fight.

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4. Itching for a title shot

Raphael Assuncao hoped a win over Marlon Moraes at UFC 212 would earn him a bantamweight title shot. And, he did win, but a title shot didn’t materialize. Instead, the No. 4-ranked Brazilian faces rankings honorable mention Matthew Lopez in Norfolk.

Assuncao is currently on a 9-1 run. His sole defeat was a unanimous-decision defeat to current bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw in 2016. That loss came after injuries kept the 35-year-old from the octagon for more than 21 months.

Lopez might not be the opponent Assuncao wanted, but he can’t take the 30-year-old American lightly. Lopez dropped his UFC debut, a short-notice fight to Rani Yahya. Since then he’s gone 2-0. After his recent first-round TKO of Johnny Eduardo, Lopez (10-1 MMA, 2-1 UFC) called for a bout with any fighter above him in the rankings. We’ll find out if he bit off more than he can chew with Assuncao (25-5 MMA, 9-2 UFC).

5. That’s a lot of bonuses

Clay Guida (33-17 MMA, 13-11 UFC) vs. Joe Lauzon (27-13 MMA, 14-10 UFC) is the kind of fight with which you look at the matchup and think, “You know, these guys aren’t what they used to be. But I like it.”

Guida has had a rough run as of late. After he dropped decisions to Benson Henderson in 2011 and Gray Maynard in 2012, he decided to give featherweight a go. The results were less than ideal. Guida wrapped up his run at 145 pounds with a record of 3-4. He moved back to lightweight in June and scored a decision win over Erik Koch.

Lauzon has alternated wins and losses since 2014 and is 4-4 over that time. His most recent fight was a majority-decision loss to Stevie Ray.

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With 24 fight-night bonuses between them, expectations are high that these two will increase that number in Virginia.

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6. A hidden gem

Two of the more entertaining bantamweights face off when No. 7-ranked Marlon Moraes meets rankings honorable mention John Dodson.

Moraes (18-5-1 MMA, 0-1 UFC), the former WSOF bantamweight champ, saw his 13-fight winning streak come to an end when he dropped a split decision to Assuncao in June. Dodson (19-8 MMA, 8-3 UFC)
is 2-1 since returning to 135 pounds. In his most recent bout, Dodson earned a decision win over Eddie Wineland.

This fight is essentially a pick’em. That makes sense because it’s the most evenly matched bout on the card. While Dodson has the speed advantage, Moraes has a deeper arsenal of striking techniques. Moraes also employs good feints, which he might use to draw Dodson into striking range.

With both fighters recently coming out on the wrong end of split decisions, fans should expect a spirited display.

7. It’s been a while

It’s been 16 months since Tatiana Suarez won Season 23 of “The Ultimate Fighter”” with a first-round submission of Amanda Cooper. The accomplished wrestler has been on the sidelines since that “Performance of the Night” bonus-winning victory. She returns against Viviane Pereira, who has fought three times since Suarez (4-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC) won “TUF.”

Pereira’s (13-0 MMA, 2-0 UFC) most recent bout was a June decision win over Jaime Moyle.

Both of these strawweights are unbeaten. Pereira has a definite advantage in experience with nine more pro fights than Suarez. However, with so much time in the gym between contests, Suarez is likely to show a fair amount of progress in her overall MMA game.

8. He’s back

Sage Northcutt (8-2 MMA, 3-2 UFC) makes his 2017 debut against Michel Quinones (8-2 MMA, 0-1 UFC) in a lightweight bout. The contest is Northcutt’s first as a member of Team Alpha Male.

Northcutt is under a lot of pressure in this fight. After two stoppage wins in his first two UFC contests, the highly promoted 21-year-old is on a 1-2 run. Both losses came at welterweight. He also packed all five of his previous fights into a 14-month span. That rushed schedule might have hampered the development of the young fighter. With nearly a year between fights, we’ll find out if Northcutt used his time away from the octagon wisely.

Quinones had a five-fight winning streak come to an end with a TKO loss in his UFC debut in June.

9. Looking for two in a row

Angela Hill had a rough go during her first run with the UFC. She won her debut against Emily Kagan but then dropped fights to Tecia Torres and Rose Namajunas. After her loss to Namajunas, which was just her fourth pro fight, Hill moved to Invicta FC. With that promotion she went 4-0, and won and defended the Invicta FC strawweight title. In her return to the UFC, Hill dropped a decision to Jessica Andrade. She bounced back with a win over Ashley Yoder in her most recent bout.

One of the biggest personalities in the sport, Hill, who is ranked No. 8 at strawweight, faces Nina Ansaroff, who ended a two-fight losing skid in her most recent fight, a January submission win over Jocelyn Jones-Lybarger.

This should be a good striking battle. Hill (7-3 MMA, 1-1 UFC) is the more technical striker with a solid muay Thai base, but Ansaroff (7-5 MMA, 1-2 UFC) has more power. Both fighters land at a 50 percent striking rate, but Hill is more active.

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10. Set the tone

Two relatively young middleweights who like to get things done in a hurry open this card. Darren Stewart, who drops from light heavyweight for this fight, has five first-round knockouts to his name (one later ruled a no-contest due to an accidental head-butt). His opponent, Karl Roberson, has finished his past four opponents in the first stanza.

Roberson (5-0 MMA, 0-0 UFC) comes into this contest on the strength of a 15-second knockout of Ryan Spann on DWCS 3. Stewart (7-1 MMA, 0-1 UFC) suffered his first career loss in his most recent bout, dropping a decision to Francimar Barroso. Stewart faded as that fight wore on, so it will be interesting to see if the drop to 185 pounds helps his cardio.

Roberson has a kickboxing background, which should give him the striking advantage in this contest. He’s also likely to have the edge in confidence, as well, after defeating 15-fight veteran Spann in July.

The full UFC Fight Night 120 card includes:

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

  • Anthony Pettis vs. Dustin Poirier
  • Matt Brown vs. Diego Sanchez
  • Junior Albini vs. Andrei Arlovski
  • Cezar Ferreira vs. Nate Marquardt
  • Raphael Assuncao vs. Matthew Lopez
  • Clay Guida vs. Joe Lauzon

PRELIMINARY CARD (FS1, 8 p.m. ET)

  • John Dodson vs. Marlon Moraes
  • Viviane Pereira vs. Tatiana Suarez
  • Sage Northcutt vs. Michel Quinones
  • Nina Ansaroff vs. Angela Hill

PRELIMINARY CARD (UFC Fight Pass, 6:30 p.m. ET)

  • Court McGee vs. Sean Strickland
  • Jake Collier vs. Marcel Fortuna
  • Karl Roberson vs. Darren Stewart

For more on UFC Fight Night 120, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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Source: MMA Junkie

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

MMAjunkie Radio co-host and MMAjunkie contributor Dan Tom provides an in-depth breakdown of all of UFC Fight Night 120’s main-card bouts.

UFC Fight Night 120 takes place Saturday at Ted Constant Convocation Center in Norfolk, Va., and it airs on FS1 following early prelims on UFC Fight Pass.

* * * *

Dustin Poirier (21-5-1 MMA, 13-4 UFC)

Dustin Poirier

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’9″ Age: 28 Weight: 155 lbs. Reach: 73″
  • Last fight: No-conest with Eddie Alvarez (May 13, 2017)
  • Camp: American Top Team (Florida)
  • Stance/striking style: Switch-stance/kickboxing
  • Risk management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+ Regional MMA titles
+ Brazilian jiu-jitsu brown belt
+ 10 KO victories
+ 6 submission wins
+ 12 first-round finishes
+ KO power
+ Improved overall boxing
^ Cage-cutting, shifting, angles
+ Accurate left cross
^ Dangerous off of the counter
+ Strong inside of the clinch
+ Underrated wrestling ability
+ Excellent transitional grappler
^ Solid submissions and scrambling
+/- Aggressive in exchanges

Anthony Pettis (20-6 MMA, 7-5 UFC)

Anthony Pettis

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’10” Age: 30 Weight: 155 lbs. Reach: 72″
  • Last fight: Decision win over Jim Miller (July 8, 2017)
  • Camp: Roufusport (Milwaukee, WI)
  • Stance/striking style: Switch-stance/kickboxing
  • Risk management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+ Former UFC lightweight champion
+ Taekowndo black belt (3rd degree)
+ Brazilian jiu-jitsu brown belt
+ 9 KO victories
+ 7 submission wins
+ 12 first-round finishes
+ Good footwork and feints
+ Improved boxing
^ Accurate counter-cross
+ Diverse kicking game
^ Dangerous body attacks
+ Improved wrestling ability
+ Excellent transitional grappler
^ Slick submission setups
+/- 2-1 against UFC southpaws

Summary:

The main event for UFC Fight Night 120 is a potential barnburner between Dustin Poirer and Anthony Pettis.

Comming off of a controversial no-contest with Eddie Alvarez earlier this year, Poirer gets another opportunity against a former champion.

Looking to avoid the role of stepping stone is Pettis, a former kingpin at 155 pound who’s seeking to make a statement in his return to the division.

Starting off on the feet, we have a matchup of two dangerous and diverse strikers.

Poirier, the southpaw, has made significant improvements to his game since moving shop to American Top Team. Demonstrating an excellent awareness of footwork, the Louisianan slugger will now shift his stance for setups or adjust his angles accordingly.

Utilizing this style of shifting to create attack opportunities, Poirier has also shown to sit down more on his punches, giving three fighters their first stoppage losses since moving to lightweight. Whether he is prodding, pulling or returning, everything Poirier throws seems to have a real potency to it.

Still, firepower is a two-way street.

Coming from a taekwondo base, Pettis has been able to bring a spectacular array of kicking attacks into the cage. Balancing out his traditional stylings under the tutelage of Duke Roufus, we have seen Pettis round out his attacks with punches and feints to help set up his fight-ending kicks.

As flashy as some of the kicks on his highlight reel may be, Pettis’ body kick seems to be his bread and butter, and he unloads them from either stance with authority. Considering that his opponent likes to utilize a shell-defense, this could be a strike worth watching for from Pettis.

That said, the former lightweight champion won’t be without trends of his own. Despite having a good radar for most strikes, left hands seem to be Pettis’ common culprit. Given that the left-cross (both coming forward and off the counter) is Poirier’s best punch, Pettis, too, will have to be on high alert inside of exchanges.

Regardless of how heated striking stanzas get, this fire could reach even higher temperatures should it touch the floor.

Both men have quietly developed their wrestling games and possess serviceable takedown abilities in the open and against the fence. Although I give Poirer a slight edge in this department for being the more consistent pursuer of shots, I would not bank on either man comfortably grounding the other.

Furthermore, each fighter does well with creating scrambles once grounded, making ground exchanges even more compelling. Neither competitor is afraid to throw up attacks from their back, nor is he afraid to bait a submission from topside to pass and advance. And with the proven grit that is attached to their technical savvy, I suspect that both men will be hard to submit soberly.

With Las Vegas odds slightly favoring Pettis, I can’t say that I disagree.

Not only does Pettis have multiple paths to victory, but he is also the more proven five-round product. Poirier, who tends to give a little too much of himself at times, could find himself in troublesome spots should he not manage his approach wisely.

However, should the Louisianan avoid the big shots early and stay present at the steering wheel, I see his pressure-fighting approach paying dividends both stylistically and on the scorecards. Pettis has the propensity to fight in between the fence and inner-black octagon lines, which also just so happens to be where Poirier makes his money (whether it be by strikes or takedowns).

If Poirier is allowed to reach his cruising altitude, Pettis could quickly find himself reacquainted with the wrong side of pressure. For that reason, I will reluctantly side with Poirier in what I feel will ultimately be a back-and-forth war.

Whichever side you are on, I suggest caution in playing it; this is a gunfight, folks.

Official pick: Poirier by decision

Official outcome: To be determined

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

Diego Sanchez rejuvenated at welterweight, ready for resurgence at UFC-Norfolk

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NORFOLK, Va. – It’s been an up-and-down run for Diego Sanchez for years now.

After the Season 1 “Ultimate Fighter” middleweight winner dropped back to lightweight from a four-fight run at welterweight, he’s gone 4-4 in the division. (He also had a one-fight stint at featherweight, which was a loss to Ricardo Lamas.)

But on Saturday, Sanchez (27-10 MMA, 16-10 UFC) returns to the welterweight division to take on Matt Brown (20-16 MMA, 13-10 UFC) in the UFC Fight Night 120 co-main event, and the extra 15-pound savings has him rejuvenated and feeling like he can make a run at a title again.

UFC Fight Night 120 takes place Saturday at Ted Constant Convocation Center in Norfolk, Va. It airs on FS1, including Sanchez-Brown in the welterweight co-feature, following early prelims on UFC Fight Pass.

“After my loss at UFC 200 … I had to lose to realize that I wasn’t fighting at my best,” Sanchez today told MMAjunkie after a workout in Norfolk, Va. “I wasn’t fighting at my healthiest. It was a hard thing to do. I took that first knockout loss by Al Iaquinta and it made me realize, ‘Ya know what, Diego? You’re 35 years old. You can’t recover from these weight cuts the way you used to when you were 25 years old.’

“I soul searched for months and I said, ‘Ya know what? For the remainder of my career, I’m going to enjoy it.’ Everybody knows I can’t fight forever. Everybody knows that from 35, you’re looking at the window closing on your career. And I know that.”

Sanchez looked around and saw the sport starting to change once USADA started more stringent drug testing. He saw fighters moving up a weight class and finding success, conceivably because they were getting the training benefit of not cutting the weight they once did.

And honestly, Sanchez said needing to make the cut to 155 just had him outright unhappy.

“I went down to 155 for the challenge,” Sanchez said. “I went down to 155 back in the day when (testosterone-replacement therapy) was allowed to be done. These guys didn’t even have a test for Human Growth Hormone. On top of that, they were using IVs to rehydrate.

“So once USADA came in the game, the sport started to adapt and evolve … things are changing. The game is changing. And you’re seeing that the real truth of it is, when fighters are natural, it’s not the size of the dog, it’s the fight in the dog.”

On Saturday, he believes he’ll have plenty of fight and is hoping for a return to the “Nightmare” of old, even though Brown is a 3-1 favorite against him.

For more from Sanchez, check out the video above.

And for more on UFC Fight Night 120, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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