After UFC champ Cris Cyborg points to drug testing, Holly Holm points to scoreboard

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When it comes to UFC women’s featherweight champion Cris Cyborg, potential next opponent Holly Holm just wants to get real for a moment.

Cyborg (18-1 MMA, 3-0 UFC), who recently won the belt with a TKO victory over Tonya Evinger in July, could next face former women’s bantamweight champion and longtime pro boxer Holm (11-3 MMA, 4-3 UFC). The bout could be part of the year-end UFC 219 pay-per-view event in Las Vegas on Dec. 30.

Cyborg’s longtime manager, George Prajin, recently told MMAjunkie he’s in daily discussions with UFC officials while looking for the right deal to lock up the champ and the fight (Holm’s camp is also looking for the right deal). Additionally, on the 32-year-old Brazilian slugger’s social media accounts, Cyborg seems to know Holm is likely next. But early this morning, she took aim at drug testing – and Holm’s longtime home at Jackson-Wink MMA – ahead of the likely title fight (via Twitter):

Holm responded via an Instagram video, mostly to address Cyborg’s suggestion the champ has been tested a disproportionate number of times.

“So apparently there was a little bit of drama today because USADA went to Cyborg’s house,” 35-year-old Holm says in the video. “And I know I’ve been a topic of interest a lot on her social media, and I don’t mind. Fighters (are) trying to promote and hype fights, and that’s fine.

“But let’s be real for a minute.”

Holm then pointed to the scoreboard – not to remind followers that Cyborg has a less-than-perfect drug-testing past, but simply to give the champion a reminder: Holm has actually been tested more than Cyborg (nine times to eight) this year.

You can see for yourself on USADA.org.

“She said she’s being tested by USADA and wants me to be tested just as much, and she probably should have looked at the public records on the USADA webpage and seen I’ve been tested nine times compared to her eight,” Holm says. “I’m in no race, and I really don’t care. I just know I can complete clean, and they can test me all the time. So, I just never needed an applause for passing my tests.

“In the mean time, I’ll just spend my time training, and she can spend her time complaining and making false accusations and false memes.”

Here’s the full video (via Instagram):

Instagram Photo

If they finally meet, Cyborg would be looking for her first UFC title defense and 19th consecutive victory going back to 2005. Holm, meanwhile, recently halted a three-fight skid with a dazzling head-kick knockout of bantamweight Bethe Correia in June.

For more on UFC 219, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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

Bellator contract allows Heather Hardy crossover in boxing, MMA

When boxer Heather Hardy made her professional MMA debut at Bellator 180, she needed to make an impression. There was no other way to construe a one-fight contract.

On Friday, she makes her second appearance for the Viacom-owned promotion, facing Kristina Williams (0-0 MMA, 0-0 BMMA) at Bellator 185. This time, though, it’s not such a do-or-die situation.

After a bloody beatdown of Alice Yauger in June, Hardy (1-0 MMA, 1-0 BMMA) signed a two-year contract with Bellator. The deal guarantees a minimum of four bouts. But more than that, it also allows her to make a living in boxing.

Rather than be held to one promoter and one sport, Hardy gets to choose.

“I’m pretty much flexible to do whatever makes sense,” she told MMAjunkie in advance of her Spike-televised fight at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn. “If it’s a better deal with Bellator, then we do MMA. If boxing has a big opportunity for me, (I do boxing).

“The organizations want to see me do well, and they’re not interested in standing in the way of one another.”

Hardy still holds a contract with boxing promoter Lou DiBella. She estimates she spends 12 hours a day in the squared circle, coaching fighters at gym and training clients at the famed Gleason’s Gym in her hometown of Brooklyn, N.Y. But at the moment, she sees more opportunity in MMA.

“The way I see it is, the industry is not really willing to pay women moving forward,” she said. “If they can’t offer me a decent enough fight with a good opponent – I’m 20-0 and a two-time champion – I’m not interested in fights that don’t make sense.

“If they can’t pay these girls to come in and give the fans the fights they want to see, then it’s really not worth my time any more,” she said. “I’m really hopeful that, starting next year, promoters will be willing to bring in good competition and put on good women’s fights.”

Money motivated Hardy’s move away from boxing. But it was also expedited by MMA’s passage in her home state. After a nearly 20-year ban on MMA was removed and the sport was legalized, increased insurance requirements forced several New York-based boxing promoters, including DiBella, to cancel events.

Without a place to ply her trade, Hardy, the WBC’s international female featherweight champ, needed a way to provide for herself and her family.

Although she hasn’t quit her day job as a boxing coach and trainer, Hardy is breathing a bit easier now that she knows she’ll be fighting regularly.

“It does help me financially in the long run, knowing that I have certain paychecks coming my way,” she said. “The last month hasn’t been great, because I don’t get paid up front for them all. But it’s nice to know that over the next two years, I’ll be in a better spot financially. The more you work, the more you get paid.”

For her second bout, Hardy wants to put on the type of performance that keeps her phone ringing. She’s working hard to acclimate herself to range and speed of MMA. She grades her debut a C-plus based on a slow start and thinks she’ll be a greater threat with more experience in the gym.

“The first one was really an introduction, trying to cover all the bases just so that I knew what was going on in any particular situation,” she said. “It was like glossing over all the areas, because I kind of fast-forwarded and jumped feet-first into a fight at the Garden.

“I focused less on my boxing (for the second camp), and more on kickboxing and striking and jiu-jitsu, so I’m already acclimated and accustomed to fighting that fight.”

Hardy earned wide recognition from MMA fans for her aggressive comeback in the second and third round of her debut. But her personality also won notice from the MMA media, which caught her off guard after so many years of obscurity in boxing.

“It’s so nice to finally get recognition,” she said. “I worked so hard in boxing, and nobody really knew my name. After that one fight, I kind of skyrocketed overnight.”

She’s still got a long ways to go before she’s a household name. But now, there’s a foundation to build her name as a crossover star in combat sports.

“I’m still working two jobs and taking care of my daughter,” she said. “I don’t have that luxury where I can go away for a six-week fight camp and have a nanny take my daughter back to school. I’m not there yet. So it’s nice (to have the new deal), because it seems like I can be there one day.”

For more on Bellator 185, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

 

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

Why UFC 218's Justin Gaethje is publicly declaring short-notice fights are a no-no

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LAS VEGAS – A lot of big UFC opportunities have been earned through short-notice fights. And more than a few dreams have been dashed.

Lightweight standout Justin Gaethje doesn’t want to wind up in the latter situation. As frenzied as he is in the octagon, he attributes his success to long training camps. He wants it to stay that way as his UFC career develops.

Should he find himself winning the lightweight-title sweepstakes, he’d like to think he could say no. But just to provide a little extra incentive, he recently declared it to reporters.

“The effort I put in, I expect myself to have eight to 12 weeks of preparation, and that’s the way I do things,” said Gaethje (18-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC), who next faces Eddie Alvarez (28-5 MMA, 3-2 UFC) at UFC 218 on Dec. 2 at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit. “So I hope to never make the mistake – I just want to put it on the record for myself, to look back on – that I hope I never make the mistake of taking a last-second fight. Because inside, I would want to. But it shouldn’t happen.”

Gaethje, the No. 3 fighter in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA lightweight rankings, spoke to reporters backstage at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. It was prior to the pay-per-view event’s headliner, an interim lightweight title fight between No. 2 Tony Ferguson (24-3 MMA, 14-1 UFC) and No. 8 Kevin Lee (16-3 MMA, 9-3 UFC). He hinted one was about to deliver a boring performance. With Lee enduring a brutal weight cut, the likelihood of a lay-and-pray snoozer seemed high, which invited the question of what the promotion would do when undisputed champ and No. 1 ranked lightweight Conor McGregor (21-3 MMA, 9-1 UFC) returned.

“I think the name of this game is not how you win; obviously, you have to win,” he said of Ferguson and Lee. “But it’s how you win. These guys are going to come in tonight, and if there’s a decision or they have a boring decision … they’re not going to come out with any negotiating tactics.”

As it turned out, Ferguson and Lee put on a spirited fight. Lee nearly put away Ferguson in the first round before running out of energy, allowing Ferguson to take over and secure a submission in the third round.

Now, UFC President Dana White maintains Ferguson is the No. 1 contender to unify the belt against McGregor. But between the Irishman’s mercurial relationship with the promotion and the constant threat of injury withdrawal, there’s a lot to prevent that fight from happening. There’s a chance Gaethje could win that sweepstakes if he puts away No. 5-ranked Alvarez.

A fight with the UFC’s biggest box-office star is a temptation hardly any fighter could resist. Maybe that’s why Gaethje won’t entirely swear off short-notice. Instead, he’ll leave himself a public reminder.

Perhaps then, he won’t let it dictate the shape of his career.

“I’m going to go in there and finish Eddie absolutely as fast as possible,” he said. “I deserve a shot at the championship if I keep beating these guys. So I hope I earn that. I will earn it. I think Conor’s going to make somebody earn it. These boys tonight, I hope they put on a show for us. But I have a feeling one of them just wants to win.

“I don’t want to win. I want to put on a show. I want to be the most violent lightweight in the world. And if I have to go through one of these guys after I beat Eddie, I will. But I’m going to be running for sheriff around here.”

For complete coverage of UFC 218, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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LFA 24 highlights: Mackenzie Dern's finishing choke, Curtis Millender's brutal KO in headliner

Filed under: AXS TV Fights, Featured, News, Videos

Curtis Millender and Mackenzie Dern were the stars of LFA 24, earning impressive finishes in their bouts.

LFA 24 took place Friday from Comerica Theatre in Phoenix and aired live on AXS TV.

In the main event, four-time Bellator veteran Millender (13-3) helped his cause to return to the big stage with a highlight-reel head-kick knockout of Matthew Frincu (11-3) in just 38 seconds of their welterweight contest. The two explosive fighters came out looking to bang, but it was Millender who patiently absorbed blows before countering with a right high kick that landed flush on the chin and sent Frincu crashing to the canvas.

In a featured women’s flyweight fight, jiu-jitsu world champion Mackenzie Dern (4-0) earned another submission win by locking in a rear-naked choke to make Mandy Polk (3-4) tap out at the 2:55 mark of the first round. What stood out, though, was the fact that Dern’s striking – not her grappling – set up the finisher.

Watch the full highlights above.

And for more on LFA 24, check out the MMA Events section of the site.

Filed under: AXS TV Fights, Featured, News, Videos
Source: MMA Junkie

After cancer brought blooming career to a halt, Bruno Ferreira still wants shot at his dream

Bruno Ferreira didn’t literally go from “heaven to hell” in one week back in June of 2014. But what he went through shortly after signing his fist international contract came close.

Ferreira was 26 and held a spotless eight-finish MMA record when he signed with what was then Legacy FC. Unlike most up-and-comers, who have their sights set in the UFC from the start, Ferreira didn’t even put that much thought into that back then. His first major dream had already been fulfilled: he would get to fight in the U.S.

“It’d be my first time outside of Brazil,” Ferreira told MMAjunkie. “I think I’ve never even seen an airplane.”

Ferreira didn’t exactly lead a luxurious life. After moving from his native Sao Jose do Rio Pardo with a 5-0 record to train in the much bigger city of Campinas, he had to live in the gym. By the time the Legacy FC contract came, three wins later, he’d just recently been able to rent a one-bedroom apartment with his wife.

Things seemed to be quite on track for Ferreira (8-0), except for the back pain that some seriously persistent kidney stones had been giving him for nearly six months. Nothing seemed to work to ease his suffering. Still, Ferreira pushed on, training as hard as ever.

Until, after taking three consecutive trips to the hospital in one weekend, Ferreira urged the doctors to take action.

“It was the same week I had signed with Legacy,” Ferreira said. “(The signing) was even in the newspaper – I even showed it to the doctor. I hadn’t done the scan yet, so I told him I was going to fight soon and I needed to get rid of the stones. I couldn’t take the pain anymore.”

So they finally did a scan. Instead of pain relief, though, what Ferreira got something much scarier: a cancer diagnosis, and a somewhat advanced one, at that, which had already spread from one of his testicles and made its way up to other spots in the fighter’s belly.

“I went from heaven to hell in the same week,” Ferreira said. “I made my dream come true, and then the rug was pulled from under me. At first it was very hard. I was depressed. I was at a situation in which, as soon as it got dark, I started crying immediately. I was in despair.

“Because when you find out about the disease, the first thing you think is that you’re going to die. It was the only thing I thought, that I was going to die and that I wouldn’t be able to do what I love anymore, what I’d conquered, which is fighting.”

Aggressive chemo, three surgeries and a lost voice

Ferreira was admitted to the hospital, where he stayed for a week. Things, however, would only get tougher from there.

“Two weeks after I found out, I lost my voice,” Ferreira said. “I couldn’t talk for five months, due to a mass. I did six cycles of hardcore chemo. And then, in October I had surgery and removed the testicle.”

Ferreira’s chemo treatment was aggressive: The cycles, which were administered 21 days apart, consisted of Monday-to-Friday treatment, with medication going into his body from five to six hours straight. At first, Ferreira could barely gather the strength to eat.

But, after his body started getting accustomed to the aggressive treatment, he went back to the mat for some jiu-jitsu. Of course, there was some serious physical strain. But, for a man who’d just had his dream so violently snatched away, it was also therapy.

“I had no strength,” Ferreira recalled. “My friends took it easy on me. But I was always staying active. I did one hour, 40 minutes of training, and it was enough to make me happy. I felt alive again.”

In March 2015, Ferreira would have to give the mat a break again. Two eight-hour surgeries in the same spot, 15 days apart, left him recovering from a big gash on his belly for four months. And the scare wasn’t over. Late in 2016, altered blood work meant another two particularly rough rounds of chemo.

“I almost died doing the chemo,” Ferreira said. “I couldn’t eat for 10 days. I couldn’t even swallow my saliva. It destroyed my body.”

While he always got back to the mat, Ferreira felt drained and tired – even in between chemo treatments. He moved from Campinas back to his city, where he opened a gym with his wife, who’s a zumba teacher. At some point, as he battled to get his health back, Ferreira had to confront the harsh reality that perhaps his days of being an MMA fighter were behind him.

“A few times, I thought, ‘There’s no point,’” Ferreira said. “‘I’ll need to move on with my life. This part of it is done. I’ll never be as strong as I was before.’”

Determined to not surrender, though, Ferreira decided to resort to other methods as well. Ferreira, who’s very religious, heard in church about an alternative type of treatment that focuses on food and dietary supplements. While the efficiency of these kinds of treatment is a far from unanimous, Ferreira started feeling like his old self again.

“I started doing sparring,” Ferreira said. “And that fire that was deep down in me started lighting up again. I started winning jiu-jitsu fights in tournaments again. And then it started coming back to me.”

“My dream hasn’t died”

While Ferreira is still going to have to follow his health closely for years, he’s hoping the two rounds of chemo in late 2016 were his last. He’s now eating properly – mostly lean meats, vegetables and complex carbs – and says he feels just as strong as he felt before the health scare. Finally, he feels ready to return to the cage.

Ferreira says he’s now training three to four times a day and believes he could start a camp and be ready to take a bantamweight fight as soon as four months from now. A mission that his manager since before he got sick, Wade Hampel, has fully embraced.

“The time is now,” Ferreira said. “My dream hasn’t died. God gave me a chance to continue and I’m going to pursue it.”

Ferreira’s last MMA fight, in 2013, ended the same way that all of his other ones did: with a first-round finish on the ground. Even the only knockout, he explained, actually stemmed from an attack from the mount. His eye-popping record, paired with his attitude, made Hampel sure that his signee was destined for great things.

Which is why, even when Ferreira tried to come to terms with the fact that he might never return, Hampel remained confident.

“I always knew he was a great fighter in the cage and life,” Hampel said. “Even though it was a dire situation, I like to believe he was going to fight this way through this. And if there’s anyone that could fight their way through this, it was Bruno. He’s accustomed to difficult challenges in life.

“And I think he embraced it just like he does fighting in the cage. He never quit. Even though his pictures showed him sick, with cancer, they did not show a broken soul. I knew there was always hope. I knew he always had hope. And I never saw him broken.”

The manager, in fact, signed Ferreira along with a close friend of his, Ricardo Ramos, most commonly known in Brazil as “Carcacinha.” Ramos, who trained and slept in the same gym as Ferreira, was 6-0 then. The plan was the same for both then-undefeated fighters: getting them to Legacy FC first, then the UFC.

While Ramos, who’s now scheduled to fight at UFC 217 after a successful octagon debut, went on to do just that, Ferreira faced a much harder battle. But, for Ferreira, watching from the sidelines didn’t turn into frustration. If anything, Ferreira celebrated his friend’s success as his own.

“I know everything he went through, from age 14 to 21,” Ferreira said. “When he signed his UFC contract, it was the happiest day of my life. I was so happy for him, because he deserved it.

“(Watching MMA) was a way of making me feel closer to it. I was never sad watching it, like ‘I’m never going to do this.’ I loved it and I still do. I always had it in my heart. While, in my head, I sometimes thought ‘I’m going to have to give up,’ in my heart I’ve always had a lot of faith in God that it would work out. That my dream wasn’t over. That it was simply paused.”

“I was afraid of death before. But we’re here, aren’t we?”

While Hampel says he has no doubts that Ferreira would be in the UFC had he continued on his path, the bantamweight himself doesn’t think about that. The 29-year-old’s main goal, as it turns out, remains the same as it was back in 2013.

“I’ll fight for anyone that wants me,” Ferreira said with a laugh. “My dream is just to fight abroad, really. I never thought specifically about the UFC. I thought about fighting internationally – especially in the U.S. And then, if I won, the UFC could maybe follow, I don’t know.”

The dark days were made lighter by the overwhelming support Ferreira found in his wife, parents, in-laws, training partners and friends. He’s feeling good, he’s eating well but, most importantly, he’s alive. Even if it took, before his 30th birthday, dealing with difficulties that most people don’t face in a lifetime.

“I got sick at a time when people are usually so healthy, you know?” Ferreira said. “And you learn how to deal with things. Sometimes even in training, I was exhausted, gassed out, and I thought, ‘Are you going to give up again?’ So I told myself no, and I got back in there.

“I think you learn how to see life differently. I was afraid of death before. But we’re here, aren’t we? We’re all subjected to it, not just those of us who are sick.”

Ferreira is now ready and eager to re-open a book that he once feared would be closed for good. But, with the inevitable perspective that comes with dealing with uniquely difficult questions, Ferreira is happy to take it one chapter at a time.

“At first I’m thinking about this fight,” Ferreira said. “Whatever comes after it, I welcome it. Hopefully I’ll win. If anything else comes along after it, it will be a gift from God already.”

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

Filed under: Featured, News
Source: MMA Junkie

UFC's Henry Cejudo details escape from California wildfires: I was 'literally in a ring of fire'

Henry Cejudo heard his hotel’s fire alarm go off at 2 a.m., woke up, checked out the hallway, but saw nothing to make him think he was in danger.

So he went back to sleep.

What the UFC flyweight contender endured after that, though, sounds like something from a post-apocalyptic movie.

Cejudo was in Santa Rosa, Calif., for a charity event earlier this week when wildfires engulfed Northern California’s wine country. As a result of the blazes, 35 people have died, with thousands of homes and businesses destroyed.

Cejudo is grateful to be alive, but it easily could’ve been different.

In a harrowing account of his experience to ESPN.com, Cejudo said he woke up again hours later to a smoke-filled room. He could tell from his second-floor room that the hotel lobby was on fire and decided his best way to escape was by jumping out of his window.

“I pulled the curtain on the window, and it felt like daylight. It was so bright,” Cejudo said. “There were houses on fire. The hotel was on fire. I could feel the heat.

“I saw the lobby was on fire and knew there was a stairwell to get down there. I thought, ‘If I go out into the hallway and lock myself out, then I really am dead.’ There was only one way out.”

Cejudo jumped to a grassy area down below and injured his foot from landing on a branch on fire. Luckily, he wasn’t immobile. He walked away.

But Cejudo couldn’t believe his eyes as he escaped.

“I was deserted,” he said. “I didn’t see one human being. I didn’t see one cat, dog – nothing. The only noise I heard was the fire.

“As I’m walking up this hill to get a bird’s-eye view of everything, I see two-story mansions on fire. I saw buildings and cars on fire. It was surreal, like a dream. I had no shoes, no time to grab anything but my slacks. I’m walking, barefoot, thinking, ‘Damn, I’m literally in a ring of fire.’”

Cejudo eventually made it up the hill and was picked up by a fire truck, thankful to have been rescued.

Cejudo (11-2 MMA, 5-2 UFC), who’s already training for his Dec. 2 pay-per-view fight against Sergio Pettis (16-2 MMA, 7-2 UFC) at UFC 218, left behind his 2008 Olympic wrestling gold medal. While he’s hopeful firefighters will recover it from the wreckage, he’s OK if they don’t.

After all, he still has his life.

“People ask me if I’m sad about it. Nah, I’m happy, bro,” Cejudo said. “It’s weird because that type of adrenaline, you’re scared, but you’re challenged, too. You become courageous in something like that. It’s a crazy feeling knowing you may die.”

For more on UFC 218, visit the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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Source: MMA Junkie

Alexander Gustafsson will wait for Daniel Cormier-Volkan Oezdemir winner, picks 'DC' to retain

Two-time UFC light heavyweight challenger Alexander Gustafsson will wait his turn for another shot at the belt.

“Daniel (Cormier) knows I’m here to stay, that I’m waiting for my rematch against him,” Gustafsson told Viaplay Fighting in a post on his official Facebook page. “I’m not in a hurry. I’ve had longer stretches between fights than this. I’ll be fine.”

Gustafsson (18-4 MMA, 10-4 UFC) said he’ll be ready to face the winner of a likely fight between Cormier (19-2 MMA, 8-2 UFC) and Volkan Oezdemir (15-1 MMA, 3-0 UFC), which could take place in early 2018 with the champ taking time to recuperate from a busy 2017.

Although Gustafsson might not be in a rush, his desire to win UFC gold hasn’t waned.

“I want the belt,” he said. “I want a title fight. We’ll see if Volkan vs. Cormier gets confirmed. Then I’ll fight the winner and … I’m pretty sure I’ll fight ‘DC.’”

“The Mauler” pushed Cormier to the limit when they met two years ago at UFC 192, which marked Cormier’s first title defense after seizing the belt left vacant by Jon Jones’ out-of-cage troubles.

With Cormier the champ once again following Jones’ failed drug test, Gustafsson’s path to the title is clear. The Swedish star has been on a tear since his loss to Cormier, defeating Jan Blachowicz and Glover Teixeira.

Gustafsson compared Oezdemir to Anthony Johnson, who lost a pair of bouts to Cormier.

“Volkan does have a puncher’s chance,” Gustafsson said. “He’s not someone you want to underestimate. He’s a power puncher. But ‘DC’ is the better fighter.

“(Cormier) can take a punch. He has the cardio. He is a better mixed martial artist than Volkan. So I see ‘DC’ winning the fight.”

Of course, as Gustafsson well knows, heavy-handed fighters can catch you. Johnson did just that when they met two years ago, bringing “Rumble” another title shot that ended in a bizarre fight and his retirement from MMA.

The difference between Gustafsson and Cormier, however, is their wrestling pedigrees. Cormier is a world-class grappler with the ability to take anyone down.

“He’s going to put him on his ass,” Gustafsson said of the champ. “He’ll take him down and dominate on the ground. Volkan is sort of like Anthony Johnson – a power puncher. We haven’t seen much of his ground game. And I think ‘DC’ will take him down.”

But if Oezdemir pulls off the upset, Gustafsson will happily take the fight. Then he would not only get the chance to win the title, but get some payback for his teammate Jimi Manuwa, who Oezdemir knocked out in his most recent fight.

“Styles make fights,” Gustafsson said of the potential matchup. “I want to beat ‘DC.’ I want to avenge my loss. Because of that, I want ‘DC’ to win. But if Volkan were to win, that’s fine with me. Then I’ll avenge Jimi.”

Whatever ends up happening, Gustafsson figures he’s got time to let it play out.

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

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Source: MMA Junkie

UFC 217's Georges St-Pierre: No fight enhances my legacy more than Michael Bisping

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TORONTO – Georges St-Pierre is ending his four-year hiatus from UFC competition with a single purpose, and that’s to make his already legendary resume inside the octagon even better.

St-Pierre (25-2 MMA, 19-2 UFC) is one of the most credentialed UFC fighters ever. His 19 wins are second most in promotional history, and he has a record 12 title-fight victories to go along with it. The former longtime welterweight champ will attempt to join a small group of fighters to claim titles in two weight classes when he challenges Michael Bisping (30-7 MMA, 20-7 UFC) for UFC middleweight gold in next month’s UFC 217 headliner.

“Rush” said he needed a certain type of motivation to step back in the cage for the first time since November 2013, and that’s why he targeted Bisping. The current 185-pound titleholder has a lengthy list of accomplishments in the UFC, and St-Pierre said beating the Brit will bring further prestige to his own career.

“His resume speaks by itself,” St-Pierre said at today’s UFC 217 news conference in Toronto. “He’s trying to get on my nerves and stuff, but as a fighter I really respect him. He’s accomplished a lot of great things in this sport and that’s why I was very excited to take that fight. I didn’t want to fight nobody else, and Michael, for me, he’s the highest guy right now in the sport. There’s nobody else in the game right now that will help my legacy as much as if I beat Michael Bisping.”

UFC 217 takes place Nov. 4 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. St-Pierre challenges Bisping in the pay-per-view headliner following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass.

After so much time off from the sport, St-Pierre is coming back to a tall task. He’s never fought in the middleweight division during his 27-fight career, and moving up for the first time to take on the champion is a risk, even for a fighter who hasn’t lost in more than 10 years.

St-Pierre said he’s not totally concerned about what “The Count” brings to the table, though. Other than size, St-Pierre said there’s nothing Bisping can offer that’s truly a threat.

“He’s got a lot more things to worry about than I have about him,” St-Pierre said. “I can take him down, strike him, submit him. I can do all these things. Cardio has never been an issue for me. I’ve got a lot more weapons than he does. He’s only bigger, that’s it. I got a lot more weapons. My fight IQ is much higher than his.”

One place where Bisping seems to hold an undeniable advantage, however, is in the mental warfare. Bisping has got St-Pierre riled up at multiple press conferences in the lead-up to UFC 217, and although the French-Canadian has displayed some agitation by shoving Bisping during two different staredowns, St-Pierre insists his mental game is strong.

“All this is a mind game and I’m used to that,” St-Pierre said. “They always come out with the same song, every time. I hear it before. It’s no problem. It’s not going to change anything to me. I do my talking in the fight and that’s it. English is not my first language. If I would start a war of words with Michael, obviously he’s British, I’m French-Canadian and my English is not as good as his. He will win every time. I choose my battles. I will fight him in the octagon and beat him there. That’s where it’s important for me.”

St-Pierre has said in the past that he’s taking his comeback one fight at a time. If he wins, a title unification bout with interim UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker is apparently next, but a loss could send him riding off into the sunset once and for all.

For now, St-Pierre said he’s embracing the significance of his fight at UFC 217. The event is one of the biggest of the year, and St-Pierre said he’s not going to fall short on such a monumental platform.

“I’m not planning on losing anytime soon,” St-Pierre said. “I don’t lose. I do not lose. … I take a fight at a time. I used to see too much ahead of time. I’m trying to have fun and live in the present moment. It doesn’t get bigger than this. Michael Bisping middleweight title, Madison Square Garden – it’s a dream come true.

“I couldn’t wish for a better scenario. I wanted to have the biggest fight possible for my comeback and I’m at my best when I’m fighting under pressure, when I’m on the edge. That’s when I perform the best.”

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

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Source: MMA Junkie

Georges St-Pierre frightened a child after an altercation with Michael Bisping

UFC middleweight champion Michael Bisping and former welterweight champ Georges St-Pierre apparently didn’t get everything off their chests at today’s UFC 217 news conference in Toronto.

After spending nearly 30 minutes going back-and-forth and answering questions for the media (then getting heated during a staredown), the animosity between Bisping (30-7 MMA, 20-7 UFC) and St-Pierre (25-2 MMA, 19-2 UFC) spilled over behind the scenes.

Bisping and St-Pierre had to be restrained as they shouted profanities at each other while the UFC PR staff attempted to separate them. The chaos was so much, in fact, that it frightened a child out of taking a photo with St-Pierre.

Watch the complete video above.

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

The Blue Corner is MMAjunkie‘s official blog and is edited by Mike Bohn.

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Source: MMA Junkie

Tony Ferguson (or Tony Montana) – UFC champ Conor McGregor breaks silence on Twitter

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UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor finally has spoken up, and it looks like he’s accepted a fight with Tony Ferguson.

McGregor (21-3 MMA, 9-1 UFC) today tweeted a picture casting himself as the fictional character Tony Montana from “Scarface” – a la popular video game “Grand Theft Auto” – with the simple caption: “Tony.”

That can be no other Tony than Tony Ferguson (24-3 MMA, 14-1 UFC), who this past Saturday claimed the interim lightweight title with a third-round submission of Kevin Lee (16-3 MMA, 9-3 UFC) at UFC 216.

McGregor was all over the map about his future plans during a press conference this past month, indicating he could return to boxing, or possibly fight a trilogy with rival Nate Diaz (19-11 MMA, 14-9 UFC), or face off with the winner of the interim title fight.

UFC President Dana White was a little less flexible, indicating after Ferguson’s victory that he is next to face McGregor and unify the titles. Today during a press conference in support of a middleweight title bout between champ Michael Bisping and ex-welterweight kingpin Georges St-Pierre at UFC 217, he said the same.

“The Ferguson fight is the fight that makes sense,” White said.

After advocating for a rubber match with Diaz, McGregor’s team appears to be getting used to the idea of a fight with Ferguson.

“Here we go…,” tweeted McGregor’s longtime coach John Kavanagh.

Ferguson this week told MMAjunkie Radio he’s ready to unify the belts by year’s end.

“What (McGregor) needs to do is defend or vacate,” he said. “That dude’s got like less than a month. I mean compared to what UFC rules state, he’s got a year to start defending his belt. I’m more then ready for December. He said he wants to fight in 2017. I think the fans deserve it. I think I deserve it.”

UFC 219 perfectly fits the bill for a pay-per-view attraction that could accomodate the fight. But as we’ve seen before, there’s a lot that can get in the way of an easy setup.

For more on UFC 219, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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Source: MMA Junkie