Twitter Mailbag: Does Michael Bisping feel like UFC champ yet? Conor McGregor co-promoter?

Does the UFC middleweight champion really feel like the division’s best fighter heading into UFC 217? Will the transitive property tell us which way the co-main event will go? And is the UFC ready to consider co-promotion now that its biggest star demands it?

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

* * * *

Did you “believe” that Luke Rockhold was the champ? I’m guessing yes, since we all saw him finish Chris Weidman, who himself had knocked out the greatest middleweight of all time to claim the title in the first place. Then Michael Bisping knocked out Rockhold, so the line of succession is about as clear and unambiguous as it can be.

But I know what you mean. Bisping has been at this for so long, hovering in that good-but-not-great zone for years, so it’s hard for people to suddenly think of him, at 38, as the best middleweight in the world. It feels like we already made up our minds about where he fits in the division, and it’s not at the top.

That part is on us. As MMA fans, we’re sometimes too quick to form conclusions and too rigidly stubborn to revise them in the face of new information. If we weren’t, we might be willing to consider the explanation that Bisping himself favors: He was always the best clean middleweight, but it took the USADA anti-doping program to create the conditions under which he could prove it.

Still, Bisping hasn’t done much as champion to change our pre-conceived notions. At a time when the division is clogged with legit contenders, he’s defended his title against none of them.

You can understand why. The title means money, and he’s trying to get paid before this ride ends. But if he wants people to accept him as the true champ, he needs to defend his belt against a true challenger. Sadly, it’s not going to happen this Saturday night, even if he beats Georges St-Pierre.

It depends what co-promoting means to Conor McGregor. Does he just want to put his name on the canvas? Does he want to go down as a promoter of record for the event? Does he want an ownership stake in the UFC? Is there a clear, tangible goal here, or does he mostly want to make the UFC bend to his will and give him something no other fighter has ever gotten?

Some of those wishes are easier to fulfill than others, but now is the right time to make some big demands. The UFC needs McGregor. By every meaningful metric, he’s the biggest star in the history of the sport. If you want to sell pay-per-views (and the UFC needs to sell pay-per-views, especially right now), then you’d better do what it takes to get him back in the cage.

To make his negotiating position even stronger, McGregor is coming off a monster payday. If his fight with Floyd Mayweather really did top six million buys, as Dana White has claimed, he can afford to put his feet up for a long while. For once, time is on the fighter’s side – not the UFC’s.

If I’m McGregor right now, I start reeling off my list of demands in alphabetical order. And I don’t stop until every single one of them has been met.

An open disregard for merit-based matchmaking hasn’t historically been a major dealbreaker for fight fans, so I’m not sure that’s it. But you’re right that, with Bisping-GSP, demand originated with the fighters and not the fans, which doesn’t tend to create a ton of momentum.

We all know why St-Pierre wanted to make his comeback now, and why he wanted to do it at middleweight. He saw a champion who perceived as: a) very beatable, and b) very promotable.

We also know why Bisping liked the pairing more than he liked the idea of defending his belt against the top contender. It’s because he wanted the PPV riches that GSP used to carry with him wherever he went, and, to a lesser extent, he also liked the idea of being able to say he’d beaten the two greats of his era – GSP and Anderson Silva.

Those are the fighters’ reasons for wanting this bout. But that alone is not enough of a sales pitch for fans. It’s like telling people they should go see a movie because the studio and the actors all crunched the numbers and decided this film would make them richer without making them work too hard.

Which is not to say that fans won’t watch this event. It’s got three title fights on it, plenty of names people care about, and it’s the only thing even close to that big fight feel since Mayweather-McGregor.

But even while this will probably end up being at least a moderate success, it does highlight some of the shortcomings of the “money fight” approach to MMA matchmaking. Just because someone thinks it’ll result in a mountain of cash, that’s not always a good enough reason for us to want to contribute to it.

You’re seriously going to ask me that before a fight card that includes Johny Hendricks? I mean, really?

Anything, as they say, can happen. But I have to admit that I’m having a hard time picturing it.

Rose Namajunas is a game fighter and a good athlete, and her opportunistic submission game works well when she can put opponents where she wants them.

But how’s she going to do that against Joanna Jedrzejczyk? The champ is tough to take down, and even tougher to keep down. Meanwhile, every moment you’re standing up with her is another chance for her air out your face with punches, elbows and kicks.

I’m not saying Namajunas can’t solve the puzzle or even just catch Jedrzejczyk slipping. All I’m saying is that when I try to picture it in my mind, I draw a blank.

Noooooooo. The last thing we need is the UFC handing out scripts and acting coaches. If anything, the trend of MMA fighters borrowing pro wrestling schticks to hype fights just proves that it’s tougher than it looks.

Even Colby Covington isn’t particularly good at it. What saves him is that he’s just awkward enough, yet still somehow aggressively and supremely confident that he is absolutely killing it, so he comes off as unintentionally comedic in a way that we (or, well, some of us) can enjoy without having to take too seriously.

(And the thing about him calling Brazil “a dump” and its citizens “filthy animals,” it’s obviously not complimentary. But I ask myself: Would he have done the same thing if he’d fought GSP in Montreal? Or Nick Diaz in Stockton? Yeah, I think so.)

The people who don’t enjoy Covington’s gimmick? They mostly end up hating him for it. Which is, of course, exactly what he wants. So either way it (kind of) works. I just don’t think it’s something we’d want to see night after night. Or maybe I’m just speaking for myself.

Generally, the transitive property has a poor track record in MMA. But since there is some legitimate similarity between T.J. Dillashaw’s style and Dominick Cruz’s, you’re right that it’s worth asking if the same guy who styled on Cruz will go right back out there and breakdance all over Dillashaw’s face.

One added variable is that Dillashaw’s seen the same tape we have. He knows now how Cody Garbrandt approached and defeated that style. He doesn’t know if the UFC bantamweight champ will try to do it the exact same way this time, but he at least has more information to work with than Cruz had.

I still think the toughest thing for Dillashaw to account for is Garbrandt’s power. Afighter who can move and evade like that and still hit you back hard? That’s a tough person to game plan for. I’ll be interested to see how Dillashaw looks to solve that problem.

If the winner is St-Pierre, I doubt it. I think he wants to win the UFC middleweight title, but I don’t think he actually wants to be the UFC middleweight champion.

Plus, since he’s a natural welterweight he has something of a built-in escape pod. He says there’s a clause in his contract that says he has to defend the belt, but it’s not hard to picture him convincing the UFC that a fight with McGregor would be a smarter financial move for all involved.

If Bisping wins, however, I think the chances of a Robert Whittaker showdown improve. As tortured as his relationship with MMA fans might be at times, Bisping longs for respect. You can hear it as he’s reeling off his accomplishments, vowing to prove the haters wrong.

And you know Bisping’s never suffered for a lack of confidence. He believes he can beat “Bobby Knuckles,” even if he’s in the minority on that one. You really think he could bring himself to retire rather than try, willingly giving up the belt he’s spent years chasing, and all without a literal fight? I’m not so sure.

As for the second question: For me, the best fight on the card is Garbrandt-Dillashaw. After that, it’s a little bit of a struggle for second place.

You don’t think Donald Cerrone has enough sense to wait it out until Senator Rock runs for president and needs a VP pick who can carry the Western states? My friend, you underestimate this man.

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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USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie rankings, Oct. 24: Where does Darren Till land with his upset of 'Cowboy'?

Darren Till stayed unbeaten this past Saturday and worked his way into the upper echelon of the welterweight division.

With his first-round TKO of Donald Cerrone (32-10 MMA, 19-7 UFC) in the main event of UFC Fight Night 118 in Poland, Till (16-0-1 MMA, 4-0-1 UFC) made a big leap in the rankigns at 170 pounds.

Cerrone has been a fixture for years in the rankings, first at lightweight and, more recently, at welterweight. So with the win, Till made an easy leap up the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA rankings.

The UFC has events every weekend for the rest of the calendar year, save for one. There is a lot of opportunity for shake-ups in the rankings coming up. Check out the new welterweight rankings and more in the latest update to our lists.

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

UFC-Gdansk medical suspensions: Forced time off for Donald Cerrone with potential 6-month term

UFC welterweight Donald Cerrone hates to take time off, but with a potential six-month medical suspension, he’s benched for the time being.

Cerrone (32-10 MMA, 19-7 UFC), who reported a broken nose following a first-round TKO loss to Darren Till (16-0-1 MMA, 4-0-1 UFC) at UFC Fight Night 118, drew a six-month suspension from the UFC, according to medical suspensions released by the UFC and reported by official ABC record keeper mixedmartialarts.com.

That suspension can be lifted, of course, with clearance from a doctor, in this case a maxillofacial specialist. But Cerrone is also suspended 45 days with 30 days no contact for his stoppage loss, which marked his third straight defeat.

In other notable suspensions, light heavyweight opponents Jan Blachowicz (20-7 MMA, 3-4 UFC) and Devin Clark (8-2 MMA, 2-2 UFC) both drew potential 180-day terms for injuries sustained prior to Blachowicz’s surprise second-round submission. Despite a gritty effort, bantamweight Damian Stasiak (10-5 MMA, 2-3 UFC) needs clearance for his right knee or faces a six-month suspension. So, too, does Sam Alvey (31-10 MMA, 8-5 UFC), who’s listless performance against Ramazan Emeev (16-3 MMA, 1-0 UFC) may have been influenced by an apparent right knee injury.

All fighters received a minimum 7 day suspension.

The full list of medical suspensions stemming from UFC Fight Night 118 includes:

  • Donald Cerrone: suspended 180 days or until cleared by maxillofacial doctor, and suspended 45 days with 30 days no contact
  • Darren Till: suspended 7 days
  • Jody Esquibel: suspended 30 days with 21 days no contact
  • Karolina Kowalkiewicz: suspended 30 days with 21 days no contact
  • Jan Blachowicz: suspended 180 days or until cleared by left foot X-ray, and suspended 30 days with 21 days no contact
  • Devin Clark: suspended 180 days or until cleared by right calf and right elbow X-ray, and suspended 30 days with 21 days no contact
  • Oskar Piechota: suspended 7 days
  • Jonathan Wilson: suspended 30 days with 21 days no contact
  • Marcin Held: suspended 30 days with 21 days no contact
  • Nasrat Haqparast: suspended 30 days with 21 days no contact due to right orbital laceration
  • Brian Kelleher: suspended 30 days with 21 days no contact
  • Damian Stasiak: suspended 180 days or until cleared by right knee MRI, and suspended minimum 45 days with 30 days no contact
  • Ramazan Emeev: suspended 7 days
  • Sam Alvey: suspended 180 days for until cleared by right knee MRI
  • Andre Fili: suspended 45 days with 30 days no contact
  • Artem Lobov: suspended 30 days with 21 days no contact due to left brow laceration
  • Warlley Alves: suspended 30 days with 21 days no contact due to right brow laceration
  • Salim Touahri: suspended 30 days with 21 days no contact
  • Aspen Ladd: suspended 7 days
  • Lina Lansberg: suspended 45 days with 30 days no contact due to TKO
  • Josh Emmett: suspended 30 days with 21 days no contact due to right brow laceration
  • Felipe Arantes: suspended 30 days with 21 days no contact

For complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 118, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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Sean Shelby's Shoes: What's next for Darren Till and UFC Fight Night 118's other winning fighters?

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A potential star was born in Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 118 headliner when Darren Till added a most noteworthy win to his undefeated record against fan favorite and former UFC title challenger Donald Cerrone.

Till (16-0-1 MMA, 4-0-1 UFC) bludgeoned Cerrone (32-10 MMA, 19-7 UFC) for a first-round TKO in the UFC Fight Pass-streamed welterweight main event at Ergo Arena in Gdansk, Poland, adding more credibility to those touting him as the next big thing from England.

Prior to Till’s impressive win, Karolina Kowalkiewicz (11-2 MMA, 4-2 UFC), Jan Blachowicz (20-7 MMA, 3-4 UFC) and Oskar Piechota (10-0-1 MMA, 1-0 UFC) all made impressions for various reasons with key victories.

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 118’s winning fighters.

* * * *

Oskar Piechota

Should fight: Trevor Smith
Why they should fight: He didn’t have a thrilling fight or decisive finish, but as far as UFC debuts go, Piechota turned in a solid performance with his unanimous-decision victory over Jonathan Wilson.

The former Cage Warriors champion admitted post-fight that he probably wasn’t as physically prepared for his first octagon appearance as he should have been. His conditioning showed, but he vowed to come back in better shape for his next fight.

Piechota is another solid European to join the UFC roster, and in a middleweight division filled with opportunity, the unbeaten fighter has some potential to flourish. Smith (15-7 MMA, 5-4 UFC) is a tested veteran who has a lot of experienced in the UFC, Strikeforce and various other notable organizations. “Hot Sauce” was forced out of a fight on the same card due to injury, but as soon as he recovers, a matchup with Piechota would work for his comeback.

Jan Blachowicz

Should fight: Jared Cannonier
Why they should fight: With his UFC career likely on the line, Blachowicz delivered in a key moment when he scored a slick second-round submission of Devin Clark in their light heavyweight bout.

Blachowicz entered the UFC several years ago with a lot of hype behind him. He’s struggled against top competition, but perhaps his strong effort against Clark will represent a turning point.

The Polish fighter needs to continue his rebuild process, and a matchup with Cannonier (10-2 MMA, 3-2 UFC) is fitting. Cannonier just lost his UFC on FOX 26 opponent Antonio Rogerio Nogueira due to a potential USADA violation. and Blachowicz is in position to be a suitable replacement.

Karolina Kowalkiewicz

Should fight: Jessica Andrade
Why they should fight: Former strawweight title challenger Kowalkiewicz rebounded from a two-fight skid with a unanimous decision win over promotional newcomer Jodie Esquibel to get her career back on track.

Kowalkiewicz is still one of the top contenders in the 155-pound division, and now that her rough patch is a thing of the past, she can return to fighting fellow elite names in her weight class.

During her post-fight interview Kowalkiewicz mentioned a showdown with Andrade (17-6 MMA, 8-4 UFC), who is coming off a dominant win over Claudia Gadelha at UFC Fight Night 117. The Brazilian named Kowalkiewicz as someone she wants to fight, and with all sides apparently on board, the matchup makes itself.

Darren Till

Should fight: Winner of Santiago Ponzinibbio vs. Mike Perry at UFC on FOX 26
Why they should fight: Watch the video above to see why Till should fight the winner of the UFC on FOX 26 bout between Ponzinibbio (25-3 MMA, 7-2 UFC) and Perry (11-1 MMA, 4-1 UFC) next.

For complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 118, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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Trading Shots: What does it tell us when former UFC fighters struggle in Bellator?

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Former UFC fighters are finding that the transition to Bellator isn’t always an easy one, so what does that tell us about the true difference in talent between the two promotions? MMAjunkie columnist Ben Fowlkes and retired UFC and WEC fighter Danny Downes discuss.

Fowlkes: Well, Danny, if you were thinking that you’d come out of retirement and cruise through the Bellator ranks, might be time to reconsider that strategy.

On Friday night Gegard Mousasi was the latest former UFC fighter to meet more resistance than expected in Bellator. Unlike Lorenz Larkin and Benson Henderson, he still got the win in the end, but he faced some stiff competition from Alexander Shlemenko, and the evidence was written all over his face by the end.

As the sample size grows, is it time to start asking ourselves whether we’ve been selling the competition short in Bellator? Mousasi left the UFC on a five-fight winning streak. If you put him in a fight with the current UFC middleweight champion, he’s probably the favorite. Yet he still got all he could handle in his first fight with Bellator.

As Bellator CEO Scott Coker loves to point out, people did the same with Strikeforce fighters, downplaying their skills because they weren’t in the UFC. But several of them became champs once they finally made the jump to the UFC. Are we making the same mistake all over again with Bellator as the lesser-known MMA organization? If so, will we ever stop making that particular blunder?

Downes: Welcome to the club, Ben! Those of us who actually watch the sport of MMA instead of being a Zuffa Zombie (although I guess now they’re the Endeavor Eunuchs) have known about Bellator for some time. Especially considering the way the UFC roster has ballooned the last couple years, the talent gap outside the top five has drastically narrowed.

We should be asking ourselves if we’ve been selling the competition short, but I wouldn’t count on too many others joining the fold any time soon. The UFC bias is too strong. In Mousasi’s case, despite the fact that he’s competed in every MMA organization you can think of, people will think of him as an “also ran,” like he couldn’t hack it in the UFC.

The same holds true for Phil Davis and Ryan Bader. Even Eddie Alvarez, who became UFC champion after a successful career in Bellator, doesn’t get the credit he deserves. He lost his UFC debut to Donald Cerrone, therefore Bellator is the minor leagues!

Part of it is also Bellator’s own doing. In an effort to deliver some name brand fighters, the “legends tour” moniker can seem too familiar. We all love a good “freak show” fight, but even then Bellator is held to a different standard. If Royce Gracie vs. Ken Shamrock III happens inside a Rizin ring instead of a Bellator cage, I think the feelings and expectations are much different.

We often talk about how the number of UFC events can make fans feel less inclined to watch. This has ramifications outside the UFC. Even though Bellator and the UFC rarely go head to head, there’s only so much MMA you can consume. Even the hardcore fans have to go to work and occasionally bathe. Who has time for another MMA promotion?

The boom period of MMA is over. Isn’t it too late to catch up to the UFC now? If not, how do they gain ground?

Fowlkes: First of all, props for being the hip guy who knew Bellator was good before it was cool. Second, how do you catch the UFC from behind? Maybe you have to meet it halfway.

Bellator has been slowly gaining ground on the UFC, both through its own talent acquisitions and the UFC’s missteps, but there’s still a ways to go. What I wonder is whether it helps that cause to see former UFC fighters struggle in the Bellator cage.

On one hand, you paid good money to lure these fighters away, so you want to make your investment back. You want them to be the successful stars you thought you were paying for, right?

On the other hand, if they come over and get roughed up by existing Bellator fighters, it prompts the kind of conversation we’re having now.

Or maybe it doesn’t. Maybe some people see it as proof that the UFC was right to let that guy go. Maybe they don’t even notice, because Bellator just draws so much less attention to begin with.

Or maybe this conversation about quality of fighters isn’t one that most fans are truly interested in anymore. We used to love that argument when it was PRIDE vs. UFC. We loved it slightly less when it was Strikeforce vs. UFC. But could it be that the UFC brand name is so solidified at this point that a certain segment of the fan base doesn’t even care if it’s where the best fighters are?

That’d be a little depressing, now that I think about it. But does that mean it’s not true?

Downes: I take it back. We don’t want you in our club anymore. I bet you’d probably never pay your dues.

There is something to the thought that the UFC is so ingrained as the face of MMA that it would be hard to catch it (there’s something to it because I said the exact same thing earlier, and you repackaged it as your own thought). People like to make fun of the “I train UFC” crowd, but there’s something to the joke. The term MMA may have more traction now than ever, but there are still a huge number of fans who think UFC = MMA.

Part of that has to do with the role of media. Dana White may talk about Bellator’s Viacom money, but the UFC has a lock on content. In mainstream outlets like ESPN or FS1, the UFC is the MMA content.

This brings us to a chicken or the egg argument. The UFC receives the most coverage because that’s what fans want. But how much of that has to do with what we give them?

Can you name three Bellator champs? How many fighters on the Bellator roster can you list? Is Alexander Griboyedov a current heavyweight or a 19th century Russian playwright? Certainly the failure to answer those questions isn’t the media’s fault, but we have to wonder if fans will ever be willing (or able) to make up that lost ground in the information battle.

Having good fights isn’t enough. What that extra piece of the puzzle is, I don’t know. I do know that there are only so many hours in a day, so many articles a website can write, and so much time an MMA fan can commit. Maybe fans will start to commit more of that time to Bellator. But maybe they’ll find something else to do. If they do that, it won’t just be bad for Coker – it’ll be bad for everyone.

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

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Darren Till and Mike Perry are perfect for each other – but oh, that 3rd wheel

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So Darren Till beats up Donald Cerrone, puts him away in the first round, then calls out Mike Perry (who is conveniently stationed at cageside), and the two of them engage in a heated face-to-face with the octagon fence between them, which is weird because it seems like they actually agree, at least on one key point.

These guys? Till and Perry? Yeah, they should probably fight each other. The only thing they disagree on is who’ll be left standing at the end.

There’s just one problem, and it’s Santiago Ponzinibbio. As in, the guy Perry already is booked to fight Dec. 16 at UFC on FOX 26.

It’s a bummer, isn’t it? No disrespect to Ponzinibbio, who has a healthy five-fight winning streak in the UFC to go along with his surprising knockout of Gunnar Nelson in July.

But let’s be honest. Perry-Ponzinibbio wasn’t on anyone’s list of dream fights. Even Perry can’t convincingly pretend to be excited about it. The best he can do is say he’s “not disappointed” by the pairing.

Meanwhile, the moment Till mentioned his name in the aftermath of his win at UFC-Gdansk, Perry seemed to materialize on the other side of the cage, already in a three-quarter rage. How dare someone say he wants to fight him. Even though that is, you know, pretty much the basis on which his chosen profession is built.

For the UFC, it’s almost too perfect. Two young welterweights, both of them rocketing up the ranks with exciting fighting styles and swaggering, polarizing personalities, and now they have their sights set on each other? The matchmaking doesn’t get much easier than that.

But then, there’s that Ponzinibbio fight again interrupting the easy flow of things, or at least delaying them.

The UFC isn’t in the habit of pulling one fighter out of a scheduled matchup just to make another, possibly more interesting one, and that’s mostly a good thing even if it’s hard not to wish for an exception just this once.

You can’t let yourself be tossed around by whatever gusts happen to kick up on any given weekend. It’s hard enough keeping things in check with injuries and illnesses forcing necessary replacements. Asking a UFC matchmaker to go messing with the schedule just because the mood has changed is the kind of thing that strokes are made of.

But that doesn’t mean we have to pretend like the mood hasn’t changed. Before Saturday, Perry-Ponzinibbio was a bit of a head-scratcher. After racking up the knockouts and building up the hype, Perry asked for Robbie Lawler and got … Ponzinibbio?

Again, nothing against the man, but if you were in the mood for knockouts, and you typed Lawler’s name into the UFC Fight Pass search bar, and it gave you results for Ponzinibbio instead, you can’t tell me your first thought would be, “Well, this is just as good.”

Come on, that’s like asking for a shot of whiskey and getting cough syrup. Same idea, and you can make it work if you have to, but it’s not the same thing.

The fact that Perry now has a relatively organic beef with another rising welterweight only makes the existing pairing more anti-climactic. As things stand now? Perry’s fight with Ponzinibbio just looks like the Darren Till sweepstakes. If Perry wins, things can proceed according to plan. If he doesn’t, hey, maybe Ponzinibbio will be a serviceable replacement?

If you were an executive at FOX, hoping to get the most out of the UFC ratings while the current TV rights deal is in effect, you can’t tell me that a part of you wouldn’t be hoping to hear that Ponzinibbio had injured himself in training or even just slammed his hand in a car door.

All those times when the injury bug ruined your best-laid plans, and it can’t step up and do you a favor now?

But, of course, you can’t think that way. You can’t hope someone gets hurt or sick and has to pull out of a fight. That would be unseemly. That would be wrong.

If it happened on its own, though, it might also be perfect.

For complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 118, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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UFC Fight Night 118 Athlete Outfitting pay: Total among lowest of 2017

GDANSK, Poland – Fighters from Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 118 event took home UFC Athlete Outfitting pay, a program that launched after the UFC’s deal with Reebok, totaling $100,000.

UFC Fight Night 118 took place at Ergo Arena in Gdansk, Poland. The entire card streamed on UFC Fight Pass.

Leading the way was Donald Cerrone, who earned a maximum non-title payout of $20,000 in his loss to Darren Till in the welterweight headliner.

The full UFC Fight Night 118 UFC Athlete Outfitting payouts included:

Darren Till: $2,500
def. Donald Cerrone: $20,000

Karolina Kowalkiewicz: $5,000
def. Jodie Esquibel: $2,500

Jan Blachowicz: $5,000
def. Devin Clark: $2,500

Oskar Piechota: $2,500
def. Jonathan Wilson: $2,500

Marcin Held: $2,500
def. Nasrat Haqparast: $2,500

Brian Kelleher: $2,500
def. Damian Stasiak: $2,500

Ramazan Emeev: $2,500
def. Sam Alvey: $10,000

Andre Fili: $5,000
def. Artem Lobov: $5,000

Warlley Alves: $5,000
def. Salim Touahri: $2,500

Aspen Ladd: $2,500
def. Lina Lansberg: $2,500

Josh Emmett: $2,500
def. Felipe Arantes: $10,000

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: $4,592,500
2016 total: $7,138,000
2015 total: $3,185,000
Program-to-date total: $14,915,500

For complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 118, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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Source: MMA Junkie

Donald Cerrone congratulates Darren Till with classy Instagram post after TKO loss

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Donald Cerrone has no excuses for his first-round TKO loss to Darren Till in today’s UFC Fight Night 118 headliner.

Unsurprisingly, Cerrone (32-10 MMA, 19-7 UFC) was all class in the wake of his decisive defeat to Till (16-0-1 MMA, 4-0-1 UFC) in the UFC Fight Pass-streamed welterweight headliner. “Cowboy” posted an update on social media following the contest, giving his opponent credit and revealing a possible broken nose (via Instagram):

Instagram Photo

One hell of a job @darrentill2 safe to say you broke the fuck out my nose 👃!!! I don’t make excuses nor will I ever. You had a great game plan and executed it perfectly. I did not over look nor take you lightly. So again congratulations.

If Cerrone’s nose is indeed broken, it could keep him out of action for an undetermined lengthy period of time. It also would come as another tough blow in a forgettable 2017 for the fan favorite.

Cerrone’s loss to Till extended his losing skid to three fights, which is the longest run of his career without a victory. Given his character, Cerrone will likely take the rough patch in stride, though, much like he did the outcome with Till.

For complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 118, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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Darren Till – heated before – cools off on Mike Perry, will stay patient after TKO of Donald Cerrone

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GDANSK, Poland – It didn’t take long for Darren Till to cool off on the idea of a fight with Mike Perry.

Although the red-hot prospect did everything but sign a bout agreement in the moments after stopping Donald Cerrone (32-10 MMA, 19-7 UFC) at UFC Fight Night 118, Till (16-0-1 MMA, 4-0-1 UFC) shrugged his shoulders at the potential booking when asked about it during the post-fight press conference.

“I didn’t call him out,” Till said of Perry after his first-round knockout at Ergo Arena, which hosted Saturday night’s UFC Fight Pass-streamed event. “(Perry) said ‘Cowboy’ was going to beat me on Twitter, and I said he wouldn’t. I was, in my mind, going to call out Mike Perry. But he got the fight booked with Santiago Ponzinibbio, who I want to fight as well. So I don’t really care about (Perry) now.

“The fight can happen if he beats Santiago, which I don’t think he will do, and then we can get it on. But he has a fight right now, so I don’t really care.”

Perry might care a little more. After jawing with Till cageside, he happily targeted Till as his next victim after the Dec. 16 fight with Ponzinibbio at UFC on FOX 26 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.

“I look forward to it, but I got work to do first with Santiago Ponzinibbio in Winnipeg, Canada,” Perry told UFC commentators Dan Hardy and John Gooden. “I can’t wait to do it. I look forward to skyrocketing myself off this kid’s undefeated record. I’m ready to take that 0 from that boy. He went fishing for bass, and he caught a shark. Be careful what you wish for.”

If it does happen, however, the two agree the location should be Till’s backyard in England. Till wants the UFC to come to his hometown of Liverpool to set a new record for decibels inside the arena.

But apparently, he’s not going to get too worked up about it. A one-month break is his immediate plan – unless the promotion comes calling for a big end-of-year opportunity.

“I’d fight every weekend if I could,” Till told MMAjunkie. “I used to fight every two weeks. But right now, it’s different. You have to be smart. My manager said he doesn’t want me to fight again this year. He said he wants me to have one month off.

“Maybe I’ll have one month off, get blathered a few times, and we’ll see what the new year brings. But if the UFC says they’ll give me a fight in December, I think I’ll beg my coaches to take it.”

In the meantime, Till won’t follow in the footsteps of other contenders who called for a title shot immediately after a huge win. Although Cerrone put a huge feather in his cap and undoubtedly will bump him up the rankings, Till said he’ll patiently work his way to the top of the division.

“There’s so many more guys in front of me,” said Till, who’s currently unranked in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA welterweight rankings, while Cerrone is No. 10. “They need the shot first, and then when I get my shot, I’ll just take the champion out. But I’m certainly closer. I’ll ask for the title shot when I take the No. 2 guy out.”

That guy should be a lot closer following his one-sided beatdown of Cerrone. Till kept telling the world to be ready for a shock, but it might not have taken notice until Saturday night. Now he’s really got everyone’s attention.

“It’s only what I’ve visualized every day since my last fight, every day in the gym, just seeing not even ‘Cowboy’ fall, but just a body fall in front of me,” Till said. “And it happened.”

Although many questioned whether he was ready for an opponent like Cerrone, Till said he never doubted himself.

“I never took disrespect, but when people see me in the flesh and see how I carry myself, they see it’s not fake,” Till said. “I’m not a fake confidence. I just totally believe in myself. When he walked into the cage, he could feel that air of confidence from me, and I already knew I had (Cerrone).”

For complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 118, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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Mike Perry gets heated with Darren Till cageside at UFC-Gdansk, issues warning after

It took Darren Till a matter of seconds to set up his next fight after scoring the biggest victory of his career against Donald Cerrone in today’s UFC Fight Night 118 headliner.

Following Till’s (16-0-1 MMA, 4-0-1 UFC) first-round TKO of Cerrone (32-10 MMA, 19-7) in the UFC Fight Pass-streamed welterweight headliner at Ergo Arena in Gdansk, Poland, the unbeaten prospect immediately called out Mike Perry (11-1 MMA, 4-1 UFC), who was sitting cageside for the contest.

Perry jumped onto the octagon apron and got into a heated verbal exchange with Till through the fence. Both fighters were restrained, and immediately interest was generated in a fight. It went a step further just before the conclusion of the broadcast, when Perry conducted an interview with commentators John Gooden and Dan Hardy.

Although Perry has a fight set up for Dec. 16 with Santiago Ponzinibbio at UFC on FOX 26, he said Till is on his hit list next, and he’s willing to go to the Brit’s hometown of Liverpool to do it.

“He’s got a great record,” Perry said. “I’m No. 15 (in the UFC rankings). I don’t know where that puts him in the rankings, but rankings don’t matter. They haven’t mattered since I got here. It’s about how hard I hit you with my right and my left hand. He wants to box? I look forward to any MMA fighter that wants to box with me. Santiago Ponzinibbio’s going to be the first example of that, then I’m going to show you, Darren Till, in England. I’m going to KO this man in his hometown.”

Till’s victory over Cerrone was the finest of his career. He picked apart “Cowboy” from beginning to end before the TKO at the 4:20 mark of Round 1. It was a breakthrough moment for the 24-year-old Till, but Perry said he wasn’t impressed by the version of Cerrone that Till beat.

“He looked good against Donald, against Donald Cerrone – not against the ‘Cowboy,’” Perry said. “That’s not the ‘Cowboy’ that wins fights. That was Donald that shows up. I wasn’t happy with Donald’s performance. I’ve seen him fight a lot better, and Darren didn’t get a tough fighter tonight. He got someone who gave up in the first round, but that’s definitely not the case (with me).

“You know that’s not what you’re going to see with me. And after I KO No. 9 Santiago Ponzinibbio, I really look forward to fighting that boy Darren Till in England. What’s up? In his hometown I want to knock that boy out.”

Despite the sudden heat between Perry and Till, “Platinum” said his focus won’t be shifted away from his upcoming fight. He knows he has a tall task ahead of him in Ponzinibbio, but he plans on putting on a performance that warns Till of what’s to come.

“I look forward to it, but I got work to do first with Santiago Ponzinibbio in Winnipeg, Canada,” Perry said. “I can’t wait to do it. I look forward to skyrocketing myself off this kid’s undefeated record. I’m ready to take that 0 from that boy. He went fishing for bass, and he caught a shark. Be careful what you wish for.”

For complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 118, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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