Eryk Anders meets John Phillips – 'The White Mike Tyson' – at UFC Fight Night 123 in Fresno

The UFC’s return to California in December has another fight ticketed for the lineup.

Eryk Anders (9-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC) will fight promotional newcomer John Phillips (21-6, 0-0 UFC) – “The White Mike Tyson” – in a middleweight bout at UFC Fight Night 123. Anders announced the fight today on his Instagram account.

UFC Fight Night 123 takes place Dec. 9 at Save Mart Center in Fresno, Calif. The event airs on FS1 following early prelims on UFC Fight Pass.

Anders, a national championship winner with Alabama as a college football player, had brief opportunities in the NFL, CFL and Arena Football League before settling into life as a fighter. After winning LFA’s middleweight title earlier this year, he signed with the UFC and knocked out Rafael Natal in the first round in a short-notice fight to stay perfect as a professional.

Phillips, from Wales, has won four straight fights since a loss to Jesse Taylor at Cage Warriors 54 in May 2013. All four of those wins have come by knockout, including three in the first round. And one of those wins was over Conor McGregor teammate Charlie Ward, now in the UFC. But he’ll be fighting for the first time in more than a year.

For more on UFC Fight Night 123, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

Ex-linebacker Eryk Anders talks love from fellow former Alabama players after huge UFC debut

http://link.brightcove.com/services/player/bcpid4621179066001?bckey=AQ~~,AAAABvaL8JE~,ufBHq_I6FnxR-PQW_F3sm5QdUbP7D6E9&bctid=5520957133001
Filed under: News, Radio Highlight, UFC, Videos

Eryk Anders traded football for MMA, but he believes his story might still be used to inspire his former University of Alabama teammates.

Anders (9-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC) made one hell of a UFC entrance at last Saturday’s UFC on FOX 25, where he plowed through octagon veteran Rafael Natal (22-8-1 MMA, 9-7-1 UFC) en route to a first-round knockout. After the fight, he spoke a little about his background as a linebacker – and even explained why he prefers his new sport.

Speaking to MMAjunkie Radio, Anders says word of his win had already spread among his football peers. And while he’s yet to hear from Alabama coach Nick Saban, he would assume at this point he’s caught wind of his spectacular UFC debut.

“He’s always looking for an example for the guys,” Anders said. “Maybe he’ll use me as an example of a guy who took the road less traveled and is kind of making it happen in his own way.”

Anders, who helped lead Alabama to a national title in 2009, says he has already received an outpouring of support from fellow former teammates.

“Mark Ingram, Kareem Jackson, Alphonse Taylor, O.J. Howard,” Anders said. “A bunch of guys. Really showing a lot of love and respect for what I’m doing and what I did.”

The undefeated Anders has certainly proven worthy of such respect when it comes to the cage. Not only did his UFC debut stem from a short-notice call after Alessio Di Chirico was unable to make the UFC on FOX 25 middleweight bout with Natal, it came only days after Anders won LFA’s middleweight title.

For Natal, the set-up wasn’t particularly ideal either. According to him, Anders was actually the fourth opponent presented to him. Not to mention the pressure of meeting a newcomer in what was quite close to a hometown scrap for the long-time New York resident.

As far as who had the odds stacked against him goes, however, Anders thinks he still takes the cake.

“At the same time, he should’ve been consistently training,” Anders said. “Because he knew he was going to have a fight anyway. Me, on the other hand, I was just coming off a fight. They called me a week or two before the fight. I had to cut weight and put together a gameplan and whatnot. Fighting a vet, in New York, where he’s from.”

But unlike the veteran Natal, who might just have his job threatened now with a dangerous three-fight octagon skid, Anders is off to a promising octagon start.

“I’m just glad I was able to get out there and put on the performance that I wanted,” Anders said. “Got that knockout and put the rest of the division on notice.”

For complete coverage of UFC on FOX 25, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

MMAjunkie Radio broadcasts Monday-Friday at 1 p.m. ET (10 a.m. PT) live from Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino’s Race & Sports Book. The show is hosted by “Gorgeous” George Garcia and producer Brian “Goze” Garcia. For more information or to download past episodes, go to www.mmajunkie.com/radio.

jQuery.extend( window._usmgOptions,{ scriptUrl: “https://s2.wp.com/wp-content/themes/vip/usatoday-plugins/api-galleries/assets”, analyticsCallback: “galleryAnalytics”, fullscreenUrl: “http://mmajunkie.com/sigallery/zJRzXSqQfcNuy5Fgxc6szR/261697”, customAnalytics: true, title: “Anders def. Natal”, feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == “undefined”) ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();
Filed under: News, Radio Highlight, UFC, Videos
Source: MMA Junkie

Stream or download MMAjunkie Radio #2496 with Eryk Anders and Marlon Vera

Stream or download Monday’s episode of MMAjunkie Radio with guests Eryk Anders and Marlon Vera.

Both fighters competed at UFC on FOX 25 this past Saturday. Anders had a first-round knockout of Rafael Natal in his UFC debut and talked about hearing from his former Alabama football teammates after. Vera scored a first-round submission of Brian Kelleher and spoke about wanting Brett Johns next after an exchange in the host hotel post UFC Fight Night 107.

You can listen below or download the episode from SoundCloud.

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

Watch MMAjunkie Radio here (1 p.m. ET) with UFC on FOX 25's Eryk Anders, Marlon Vera

Filed under: News, UFC, Videos

MMAjunkie Radio kicks off today at 1 p.m. ET (10 a.m. PT) with guests Eryk Anders and Marlon Vera.

Both fighters picked up big wins this past Saturday night at UFC on FOX 25 in Uniondale, N.Y. Anders, in his UFC debut, knocked out Rafael Natal in the first round. Vera submitted Brian Kelleher with a first-round armbar for his third straight win.

MMAjunkie Radio airs from 1 to 3 p.m. ET (10 a.m. to noon PT), live from Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino in Las Vegas. You can watch and listen live on MMAjunkie’s Facebook and YouTube pages. Additionally, SiriusXM Rush (Ch. 93) carries a replay later in the day (8-10 p.m. ET) and the following morning (7-9 a.m. ET), or catch a replay on demand.

MMAjunkie Radio listener guide:

  • HOW TO WATCH (ON WEB): Watch a live stream on MMAjunkie’s Facebook or YouTube pages.
  • HOW TO CALL: MMAjunkie Radio takes phone calls from listeners throughout the show. Call into the MMAjunkie Radio hotline at (866) 522-2846.
  • HOW TO DISCUSS: The MMAjunkie MMA Forums has a section devoted solely to MMAjunkie Radio. Stop by the MMAjunkie Radio forum to discuss the show, interact with the hosts, suggest future guests and catch up on the latest MMAjunkie Radio news.
  • HOW TO VISIT THE SHOW: You can watch MMAjunkie Radio live and in person at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino on the world-famous Las Vegas Strip. The booth is located in the resort’s Race & Sports Book next to the Mandalay Bay poker room. To plan a trip to Sin City and MMAjunkie Radio, go to www.mandalaybay.com.

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

UFC Long Island's 10 memorable moments, including yet another Michael Bisping callout

Former UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman entered Saturday’s UFC on FOX 25 main event bout against Kelvin Gastelum on a three-fight losing skid. Weidman got back in the win column with a third-round submission victory in front of a hometown crowd on Long Island. To say the win gave Weidman a boost in confidence would be an understatement.

“I’m the champ. I’m the best guy in the world, and I think people know that,” Weidman said at the post-fight news conference. “If (UFC middleweight champ Michael) Bisping grows some balls, that fight will happen. I know (Robert) Whittaker just did a great job winning the interim belt (against Yoel Romero at UFC 213), but I think he’s hurt. He’s got knee surgery. I’m available. I’m ready to go. We’ll see what happens.”

Weidman wasn’t the only fighter to take a step in the right direction at NYCB LIVE in Uniondale, N.Y. Below are 10 memorable moments from the event.

1. Picking a fight

After securing his first win since May 2015, Weidman did his best to pick a fight with Bisping, calling the champ a “British bum.” Unsurprisingly, Bisping didn’t let the remark slide and the two engaged in a social media skirmish that lasted well into Sunday.

Despite his efforts, Weidman (14-3 MMA, 10-3 UFC) isn’t likely to get a title shot with a 1-3 record in his last four fights. You can’t blame the guy for aiming high after his win over Gastelum (13-3 MMA, 8-3 UFC), especially in the current landscape where potential pay-per-view sales are one of the driving forces behind which title fights get booked.

At the very least, Weidman’s victory adds another wrinkle to a division that’s getting a bit crowded at the top.

2. An impressive run continues

Darren Elkins has been one of the bigger surprises of 2017. Well into the 10th year of his professional career, Elkins’ profile has never been higher. Fighting in the first co-main event of his UFC run, Elkins (23-5 MMA, 13-5 UFC) eked out a split decision over Dennis Bermudez (16-7 MMA, 9-5 MMA) to extend his unbeaten streak to five straight.

“The grind is my game, and those are the fights I’m going to succeed in,” Elkins told MMAjunkie after the win. “It’s not the prettiest stuff sometimes, but I make it work, and I make it work good.”

Elkins went on to say he’s looking to face a top-five fighter in his next outing, naming Chan Sung Jung or Cub Swanson as possible opponents. While Elkins doesn’t have the biggest name in the featherweight division, it’s going to be hard to deny him the type of fight he’s looking for considering the run he’s enjoying.

3. Wearing it

Maybe it was Gian Villante’s penchant for throwing strikes with the intent of turning out his opponent’s lights. Maybe it was Patrick Cummins’ ability to take an indecent amount of abuse over the course of a fight. Whatever it was, there was something about the light heavyweight bout between Villante (15-9 MMA, 5-6 UFC) and Cummins (10-4 MMA, 6-4 UFC) that made it feel like fans were in for a nasty fight.

By the end of the contest, Cummins’ right eye was swollen shut and a piece of gauze hung on the cut that opened on his head after an accidental first round headbutt. Despite looking far worse than Villante, Cummins walked away with a split-decision victory.

Cummins displayed his trademark toughness throughout the fight. He also set a career high in significant strikes landed with 86, while showing an improved defensive striking game.

4. Looking for the next test

When the bantamweight bout between Jimmie Rivera and Thomas Almeida came to an end, the striking numbers were awfully similar. Rivera (21-1 MMA, 5-0 UFC) landed 70 significant strikes while Almeida (21-2 MMA, 5-2 UFC) landed 72, with both fighters connecting on 43 percent of their attempts. The difference was in the knockdowns, takedowns and octagon control – three aspects of the contest where Rivera had the advantage, knocking down Almeida twice while landing two takedowns on his way to the unanimous decision win.

Rivera has somewhat quietly climbed the rankings, and he’s now on a 20-fight winning streak, with the last five of those wins coming in the UFC. Despite his under-the-radar rise, Rivera is hopeful his win over Almeida will earn him a title shot or a fight against a former champ sometime around November.

5. Holding back

When Lyman Good plopped down on his stool at the end of the second round of his welterweight fight against Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos, his coaches asked him why he was holding back. Good’s response did not go over well.

“I don’t want to get knocked out,” Good said.

That reluctance to fully engage his opponent might have cost Good (19-4 MMA, 1-1 UFC) the fight. Two judges scored the bout in favor of Santos (17-5 MMA, 2-2 UFC), giving him the split-decision win and extending his UFC winning streak to three straight.

With the loss, Good, fighting for the first time in two years due to an injury and a tainted-supplement-related suspension, saw his six-fight unbeaten streak come to an end. One positive for Good is the exciting striking battle did win “Fight of the Night” honors, earning both fighters an extra $50,000.

6. Short notice, shorter fight

Eryk Anders made some news at the official weigh-in for UFC on FOX 25, when he touched the towel being held in front of him while he stood on the scale, much to the chagrin of the New York State Athletic Commission. Anders made more positive news on fight night when he scored a first-round knockout in his UFC debut, putting away Rafael Natal with left hands to the head.

Anders (8-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC), the former LFA middleweight champ, took the fight against the much more experienced Natal (21-9-1 MMA, 9-7-1 UFC) on short notice. Anders made the most of his opportunity, landing 79 percent of his significant strikes on his way to his eighth straight win. After the fight, Anders put the rest of the middleweight division on notice.

“I’m ready to take over this middleweight division, and any middleweight (is) getting the same treatment (as Natal),” Anders told UFC commentator Brian Stann.

7. Eat your words

Some fighters are wound tight as a spring. Alex Oliveira is not one of those fighters. The Brazilian dances and sings on his way to the cage, and between rounds he shares smiles and jokes with his corner. While he fights, Oliveira remains extraordinarily loose and relaxed. Oliveira’s personality seemed to rub Stann the wrong way early in his fight against Ryan LaFlare.

“There’s a point where you’re too loose,” said Stann between the first and second rounds. “You’re too friendly; you’re having too much fun. You’ve got to get down to business if you want to win a fight.”

Less than two minutes later, Oliveira (18-3-1 MMA, 7-2 UFC) ended the welterweight bout with a brutal uppercut that dropped LaFlare (13-2 MMA, 6-2 UFC) face-first onto the canvas.

After the fight, Stann owned up to his remarks, telling Oliveira he proved him wrong with the “Performance of the Night” winning knockout.

8. A score to settle

Marlon Vera extended his unbeaten streak to three straight with a first-round submission win over the favored Brian Kelleher in Long Island. The end came when Vera (10-3-1 MMA, 4-2 UFC) quickly transitioned from a standing kimura to an armbar when Kelleher (17-8 MMA, 1-1 UFC) decided to take the fight to the mat while Vera remained latched to his arm.

After his win, Vera reminded everyone he had unfinished business with Jimmie Rivera who withdrew from a fight against Vera early this year.

“Me and Rivera got business,” Vera said. “I don’t know what happened. He just backed out (of the fight), because he said he was too much for me in January. It was really tough for me because I cut 15 pounds in two days for that fight. I wanted to be in the gym or be in the sauna because I was super motivated to fight a tough guy.”

9. Passing grade

Junior Albini (14-2 MMA, 1-0 UFC) accomplished two significant feats at UFC on FOX 25. The first, scoring a TKO victory in his UFC debut against a heavyweight fighter with UFC experience in Timothy Johnson (11-4 MMA, 3-3 UFC). The second, taking home a “Performance of the Night” bonus.

“I was never able to buy her a toy or something like that,” Albini said of his 2-year old daughter after 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 – the pursuing of this dream.”

With his TKO victory Albini extended his unbeaten streak to 10 straight, with eight of those wins coming by stoppage.

10. Local boy makes good

Godofredo Pepey did his best to goad Shane Burgos into a brawl and/or a grappling match, but Burgos refused to bite. Instead, the featherweight prospect stayed calm and used excellent striking, especially his counters, to pick apart Pepey on the feet.

Burgos (10-0 MMA, 3-0 UFC) dropped Pepey (13-5 MMA, 5-5 UFC) three times, and had he gone to the body earlier and more often, he might have managed to get the stoppage he desired instead of a unanimous decision.

Burgos, a New York-based fighter, has fought on three UFC cards in his home state, and judging by the crowd’s response to his efforts, he’s become a local favorite.

For complete coverage of UFC on FOX 25, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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

Why Ex-Alabama linebacker Eryk Anders prefers MMA over football

http://link.brightcove.com/services/player/bcpid4621179066001?bckey=AQ~~,AAAABvaL8JE~,ufBHq_I6FnxR-PQW_F3sm5QdUbP7D6E9&bctid=5517781722001
Filed under: Featured Videos, News, UFC, Videos

UNIONDALE, N.Y. – Eryk Anders relishes the pressure of having all eyes on him. That’s just one of the reasons why he enjoys competing in MMA over football.

Anders (9-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC), who made a successful UFC debut on Saturday with a first-round knockout of Rafael Natal (22-8-1 MMA, 9-7-1 UFC) at UFC on FOX 25, is a former linebacker at the University of Alabama who helped lead the Crimson Tide to a 2009 national title.

He’s no stranger to a competitive environment but said finding success in MMA brings more personal satisfaction than anything else.

“I think single-person sports is the purest form of sports there is,” Anders said following his promotional-debut win. “It is a team sport; it has a team aspect. I can’t get better if I don’t have guys to train with and vice versa. But when the cage door closes, it’s just me and the voice of my coaches, and I prefer it that way.”

Anders made his UFC debut on just nine days’ notice. Alessio Di Chirico was originally scheduled to fight Natal, but when he suffered a last-minute injury, Anders got the call to step in for the FOX-televised middleweight bout at NYCB LIVE in Uniondale, N.Y.

On top of taking the fight on short notice, Anders was just 29 days removed  from a five-round title win under the LFA banner. The turnaround was short, but he said he wasn’t fazed. Anders said his UFC opportunity was going to come eventually, and he kept himself physically and mentally prepared to make sure he could answer the call no matter the circumstance.

“I knew going undefeated, winning the belt in LFA – a fantastic organization, and they have more people in the UFC than any other promotion in the world,” Anders said. “We kind of knew that would be a stepping stone to get here, so it’s no surprise how quickly it happened and how quick the turnaround was. Short-notice fights are an excellent way to get into the UFC, so our philosophy at Spartan Fitness is, ‘Stay ready so you don’t have to get ready.’ That’s exactly what we did.”

The way Anders performed against a 17-fight UFC veteran in Natal made it seem like he was the one who had been on the big stage for a long time. He tore through the Brazilian, hurting him multiple times before finishing the fight with his powerful strikes at the 2:54 mark of Round 1.

Anders said he had the “utmost confidence” he’d stop Natal, and the fact he went out and executed in a near-flawless manner provided further credence to the notion that he’s in the right sport.

“Patience is a virtue,” Anders said. “I was waiting for my shots to set up in the first round. I waited for my opportunity. It came after the kick. He was kind of wobbled, stumbling across the mat and whatnot. He backed himself up against the cage, put himself in position, and I was able to capitalize on it.”

For complete coverage of UFC on FOX 25, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

jQuery.extend( window._usmgOptions,{ scriptUrl: “https://s2.wp.com/wp-content/themes/vip/usatoday-plugins/api-galleries/assets”, analyticsCallback: “galleryAnalytics”, fullscreenUrl: “http://mmajunkie.com/sigallery/zJRzXSqQfcNuy5Fgxc6szR/261126”, customAnalytics: true, title: “Anders def. Natal”, feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == “undefined”) ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();
Filed under: Featured Videos, News, UFC, Videos
Source: MMA Junkie

UFC on FOX 25 results: Eryk Anders dominates, knocks out Rafael Natal in UFC debut

jQuery.extend( window._usmgOptions,{ scriptUrl: “https://s2.wp.com/wp-content/themes/vip/usatoday-plugins/api-galleries/assets”, analyticsCallback: “galleryAnalytics”, fullscreenUrl: “http://mmajunkie.com/sigallery/zJRzXSqQfcNuy5Fgxc6szR/260798”, customAnalytics: true, title: “Anders def. Natal”, feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == “undefined”) ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();

Eryk Anders landed two sharp left hands, one after the other, and soon Rafael Natal was staggering across the octagon, running face-first into the chain link fence.

A couple more left hands after that, and Natal (21-9-1 MMA, 9-7-1 UFC) faceplanted into the mat, giving Anders (8-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC) a quick knockout win at the 2:54 mark of Round 1 in his UFC debut.

The middleweight bout was part of the preliminary card of today’s UFC on FOX 25 event at NYCB LIVE at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y. It aired on FOX following additional prelims on UFC Fight Pass and ahead of a main card on FOX.

Anders, a former linebacker at the University of Alabama who helped lead the Crimson Tide to the 2009 national title, acted quickly to pin Natal up against the fence. He closed the distance and looked to land his straight left as Natal circled away.

After eating a looping right from Natal early, Anders scored with two successive lefts that clearly had Natal hurt. Anders wasted no time jumping on his wounded foe as Natal staggered across the cage, elevating him for a takedown and then mixing in knees and a head kick as Natal got back to his feet.

With Natal still hurt but trying to back Anders off with his right hand, Anders landed a hard left hand counter that put Natal down for good, dropping him on his face and forcing referee Keith Peterson to jump in and call it off as soon as Natal hit the mat.

With the win, Anders remains perfect as a professional, getting the victory in just under three minutes in his first UFC outing. Natal has now lost three in a row.

Up-to-the-minute UFC on FOX 25 results include:

For complete coverage of UFC on FOX 25, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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

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

Eryk Anders learns lesson in weigh-in towel etiquette from NYSAC at UFC on FOX 25

http://link.brightcove.com/services/player/bcpid4621179066001?bckey=AQ~~,AAAABvaL8JE~,ufBHq_I6FnxR-PQW_F3sm5QdUbP7D6E9&bctid=5516074611001
Filed under: Featured, Featured Videos, News, UFC, Videos

UNIONDALE, N.Y. – Remember that time Daniel Cormier was embroiled in controversy for UFC 210’s “towelgate” in Buffalo, N.Y.?

Or how about the time Sergio da Silva used every sleight-of-foot trick he knew to try to fool the scale – and the New York State Athletic Commission – at the weigh-ins for Bellator NYC in June?

Well, it’s pretty safe to assume the NYSAC remembers those incidents, and the commission members were taking no chances today at the weigh-ins for UFC on FOX 25 in Uniondale, N.Y.

Eryk Anders (7-0 MMA, 0-0 UFC) needed the towel brought out to make the middleweight limit for his fight on the prelims against Rafael Natal (21-8-1 MMA, 9-6-1 UFC). But the second Anders laid a finger on the towel, the commission members were all over it. (To be fair, Anders may only have been trying to pull back the towel to see what his weight was going to be sans shorts; he came in at 185.6 pounds in the buff, so he had a few ounces to spare.)

Check out the video above to relive some memories of Cormier in April and da Silva in June, and to see how the NYSAC responded in a hurry when Anders was on the scale at the official weigh-ins this morning.

UFC on FOX 25 takes place Saturday at NYCB LIVE at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y. The card airs on FOX following early prelims on UFC Fight Pass.

For more on UFC on FOX 25, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

jQuery.extend( window._usmgOptions,{ scriptUrl: “https://s2.wp.com/wp-content/themes/vip/usatoday-plugins/api-galleries/assets”, analyticsCallback: “galleryAnalytics”, fullscreenUrl: “http://mmajunkie.com/sigallery/kZFvcg8is9MNUQrumKCeeT/260567”, customAnalytics: true, title: “UFC on FOX 25 Official Weigh-ins”, feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == “undefined”) ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();
Filed under: Featured, Featured Videos, News, UFC, Videos
Source: MMA Junkie

10 reasons to watch UFC on FOX 25, including a must-win middleweight feature

http://link.brightcove.com/services/player/bcpid4621179066001?bckey=AQ~~,AAAABvaL8JE~,ufBHq_I6FnxR-PQW_F3sm5QdUbP7D6E9&bctid=5512522996001
Filed under: News, UFC

The UFC heads back to New York for Saturday’s UFC on FOX 25. While this is the promotion’s fifth trip to the Empire State in eight months, it is the UFC’s first visit to NYCB LIVE at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale. Unsurprisingly, the card is packed with local fighters, including former middleweight champion and Long Island native Chris Weidman, who competes in the headlining bout opposite Kelvin Gastelum.

Weidman is under significant pressure. Not only is he fighting just a short drive from his home, but he’s also mired in the worst stretch of his career, losing his last three fights, with his two most recent setbacks happening in New York. As for Gastelum, a victory over the former champ would do wonders for his rising profile at 185 pounds.

In the co-main event, Darren Elkins, who will be up for some end-of-the-year awards thanks to his gritty come-from-behind victory over Mirsad Bektic, looks to carry the momentum from that March battle into his matchup against Dennis Bermudez.

UFC on FOX 25 airs on FOX following early prelims on UFC Fight Pass.

Here are 10 reasons to watch the event.

1. Time marches on

On May 10, 2015, Robert Whittaker fought for the second time at middleweight. Thirteen days later, Weidman defended that weight division’s title for the third time, knocking out Vitor Belfort. Today, Whittaker is 7-0 at 185 pounds and the current interim champ. Weidman is 0-3 since defeating Belfort, losing each fight by knockout. The former champ has dropped to No. 8 over that time, according to the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA middleweight rankings.

Weidman (13-3 MMA, 9-3 UFC) looks to end his slide and take a few steps up the rankings against No. 13 ranked Gastelum (13-3 MMA, 8-2 UFC), who could establish himself as a top middleweight contender with a win.

Gastelum is coming off a first-round TKO victory over Belfort. That win was later ruled a no-contest after Gastelum failed a fight-day drug test for carboxy-tetrahydrocannabinol or “THC,” a metabolite found in marijuana.

2. A man of will

It took Elkins 16 UFC fights before he earned his first fight-night bonus. Elkins, currently No. 13 in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA featherweight rankings, spent most of his bout against Bektic absorbing strikes — and bleeding. It looked like the best Elkins could hope for would be a one-sided decision loss, but midway through the third round Bektic provided an opening. Elkins took Bektic’s back and stopped him via head strikes as Bektic attempted to get to his feet. The TKO win, Elkins’ fourth consecutive victory, will undoubtedly be a contender for “Comeback of the Year.”

Coming off that fight, Elkins (22-5 MMA, 12-4 UFC) has never had a higher profile. He makes the first co-main event appearance of his UFC career opposite Bermudez (16-6 MMA, 9-4 UFC).

Bermudez needs a comeback of his own. A rankings honorable mention, he is coming off a first-round knockout loss to Chan Sung Jung which ended his two-fight winning streak.

3. Staying alive

Gian Villante and Patrick Cummins are talented athletes. The problem they’ve both endured during their UFC careers is they’ve been unable to translate those talents into long-term success.

Cummins has a great wrestling base but struggles with defending strikes. Those defensive deficiencies have led to each of Cummins’ (9-4 MMA, 5-4 UFC) four defeats, which have all come via TKO. Villante (15-8 MMA, 5-5 UFC) is a powerful striker with strong takedown defense, but he often fades as fights wear on, which leaves him susceptible to strikes.

Both these competitors have 2-3 records over their last five outings. A win here might be the last chance for the victor to make a run up the light heavyweight rankings.

4. Rising bantamweight stars

A crucial bantamweight contest opens the main card. In one corner, you have No. 7-ranked Jimmie Rivera, who has won 19 straight, four of which have come with the UFC. Opposite Rivera is No. 12-ranked Thomas Almeida, who saw his 21-fight winning streak come to an end last May when he was knocked out by current bantamweight champ Cody Garbrandt.

Almeida (21-1 MMA, 5-1 UFC), a flashy striker, is the underdog in this matchup, a first during his six-fight run in the UFC. One reason for that might be Almeida’s loss to Garbrandt, another might be Rivera’s (20-1 MMA, 4-0 UFC) ability to combine power, volume, a fast pace over three rounds and effective combinations on the counter.

Almeida hasn’t gone the distance since his UFC debut in 2014. He needs to be ready for a full three rounds from an opponent who has heard the final bell in 15 of his 21 fights.

5. Back on the accelerator

Lyman Good was 22 fights – and 10 years – into his career before getting the call from the UFC. The former Bellator welterweight champ vacated his Cage Fury welterweight belt for the opportunity to face Andrew Craig at UFC Fight Night 71. Good knocked out Craig in the second round of that contest. After some time off due to injury, Good was booked to face Belal Muhammad at UFC 205.

Good was pulled from that fight after being notified of potential anti-doping violation stemming from an out-of-competition test. A tainted supplement was the cause of Good’s failed test and he received a six-month suspension.

Now, more than two years removed from his win over Craig, Good (19-3 MMA, 1-0 UFC) looks to regain the momentum he had in 2015. Good faces Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos (16-5 MMA, 1-2 UFC), who is coming of a “Fight of the Night” bonus-winning victory over Keita Nakamura.

6. Moving fast

Before LFA 6, Eryk Anders predicted he would defeat Jon Kirk and then fight for the LFA middleweight title. Those predictions came true. He TKOd Kirk in 95 seconds and then won the inaugural LFA title in June with a decision over Brendan Allen. Before that win, he said he felt a victory over Allen would get him a shot in the UFC. He was right about that, as well.

The former Alabama Crimson Tide linebacker replaces an injured Alessio Di Chirico (10-2 MMA, 1-2 UFC) vs. Rafael Natal (21-8-1 MMA, 9-6-1 UFC) at UFC on FOX 25. An undrafted signee of the Cleveland Browns upon leaving college, Anders (7-0 MMA, 0-0 UFC) was a 2010 training camp cut by the NFL team. Anders went on to have brief stints in the Canadian Football League and Arena Football League before deciding to concentrate on MMA, where he remains unbeaten as a pro.

Anders gets a stiff step up in competition in his UFC debut, facing Natal, a 16-fight UFC veteran who is coming off losses to current interim middleweight champ Whittaker and Tim Boetsch.

7. Exuding confidence

Winning improves a fighter’s confidence. A knockout victory that scores a “Fight of the Night” bonus improves confidence exponentially, at least for heavyweight Chase Sherman.

Sherman stopped Rashad Coulter in the second round of a wild striking battle at UFC 211, ending a two-fight losing skid. After the win, Sherman took some shots at the rest of the division.

“I’m blessed enough to be in a division that’s not very stacked,” Sherman said. “It’s not stacked with very young, athletic guys.”

The 27-year-old Sherman (10-3 MMA, 1-2 UFC) meets Damian Grabowski in Long Island. Grabowski (20-4 MMA, 0-2 UFC), a 37-year-old former M-1 heavyweight champ, has lost both of his UFC bouts by first-round knockout.

8. Young and unbeaten

The UFC Fight Pass prelims feature a pair of young featherweight fighters looking to extend unbeaten streaks. In the featured Fight Pass prelim, Jeremy Kennedy (10-0 MMA, 2-0 UFC) looks to take his streak to 11 straight against Kyle Bochniak (7-1 MMA, 1-1 UFC). Further down the card, Shane Burgos (9-0 MMA, 2-0 UFC) hopes to move into double digits in consecutive victories vs. UFC veteran Godofredo Pepey (13-4 MMA, 5-4 UFC). Bochniak and Pepey are both 1-1 in their last two outings.

9. Big man, big step

The UFC’s heavyweight division is rare in that one win can mark a fighter as a rising contender. If that fighter happens to be under 30 years of age, that tends to increase the amount of hype. Junior Albini gets his chance to start his hype train rolling against five-fight UFC veteran Timothy Johnson.

The 26-year-old Albini (13-2 MMA, 0-0 UFC) has won his last nine fights, but the 32-year-old Johnson (11-3 MMA, 3-2 UFC), who is coming off a split-decision win over Daniel Omielanczuk is a big step up in competition for the young Brazilian. At worst, this fight will be an indicator of what Albini needs to shore up to grow as a UFC competitor. At best, Albini adds a 12th career stoppage to his resume and becomes an instant player in the division.

10. A rematch three years in the making

The first time Frankie Perez and Chris Wade fought, Wade was the reigning Ring of Combat lightweight champion. Wade (11-3 MMA, 4-2 UFC) won that contest by split decision, handing Perez (10-3 MMA, 1-2 UFC) his first career defeat. Wade moved on to the UFC after that victory, opening his promotional run with a 4-0 record. He’s stumbled in his two most recent bouts, dropping decisions to Rustam Khabilov and Islam Makhachev.

Meanwhile, Perez picked up a win with WSOF before he was signed by the UFC. After a loss in his promotional debut, Perez defeated Sam Stout and abruptly retired. Perez returned in December, dropping a decision to Marc Diakiese.

To add to the rematch angle, there seems to be some lingering hard feelings between these two.

For more on UFC on FOX 25, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

jQuery.extend( window._usmgOptions,{ scriptUrl: “https://s2.wp.com/wp-content/themes/vip/usatoday-plugins/api-galleries/assets”, analyticsCallback: “galleryAnalytics”, fullscreenUrl: “http://mmajunkie.com/sigallery/kZFvcg8is9MNUQrumKCeeT/260474”, customAnalytics: true, title: “UFC on FOX 25 Official Weigh-ins”, feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == “undefined”) ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();
Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

Stream or download MMAjunkie Radio #2490 with Kurt Holobaugh, Eryk Anders, Tyler King, Ryan Stoddard

Stream or download MMAjunkie Radio #2490 with guests Kurt Holobaugh, Eryk Anders, Tyler King, and Ryan Stoddard.

Holobaugh talked about his recent win at Dana White’s Contender Series 1, where he earned a contract back in the UFC after defeating Matt Bessette. Anders, a former college football player at Alabama, makes his UFC debut Saturday at UFC on FOX 25 vs. Rafael Natal. King travels to Japan to compete at Rizin FF 6 vs. Amir Aliakbari on July 30. Victory Fighting Championship promoter Stoddard joined the program to talk about his upcoming card, VFC 58, which takes place Saturday and airs on UFC Fight Pass.

You can listen below or download the episode from SoundCloud.

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