Trading Shots: On toughness, tapping to strikes, and the things that only fighters know

Is tapping to strikes a reassuring sign that at least someone knows when to quit, or do non-fighters fail to understand just how much toughness – both mental and physical – matters in MMA? Former UFC and WEC fighter Danny Downes joins MMAjunkie columnist Ben Fowlkes to discuss in this week’s Trading Shots.

Downes: Ben, I had to get my oil changed this Monday, so that gave me a little time to kill. Instead of taking a walk or trying to engage with a person, I did what any of us would do – stare at my phone.

That was when I came across your column about the difference between toughness and stupidity.

It’s always nice to get a layman’s interpretation of what constitutes toughness in the cage. The overall message of the piece was that referees and cornermen don’t do enough to save fighters from themselves. This was in the immediate aftermath of Gilbert Melendez and Gavin Tucker suffering significant injuries.

After last night’s UFC Fight Night 116 in Pittsburgh, though, I wonder if you’d like to revise this story. Should Uriah Hall’s corner have stopped his fight? David Branch may have done the intelligent thing by tapping to strikes, but are you going to tell me you didn’t hold that against him?

Fowlkes: Yes, I am going to tell you that I did not and do not hold that against Branch. I know there’s that stigma about tapping to strikes, but it’s mostly pretty dumb. We regularly see fighters get hurt and go full fetal as a signal to the referee that they’ve had it, which is basically like tapping to strikes without actually doing it.

Branch was stuck, he was getting pummeled, he was beat and he knew it. Why take a dozen more punches just so people on the internet will be slightly less critical?

You do raise a good point with Hall, though. He had some bleak moments against Krzysztof Jotko in the opening round, only to come back and win with strikes in the second. Comebacks like that keep people hoping. Yes, you’re getting beat down now, but who knows, maybe you land one punch and change everything any minute now.

But you and I both know that’s way more the exception than the rule. I’m not saying we’ve got to pull the plug at the first sign of trouble, but I am saying that sometimes this sport gets hung up on stuff that doesn’t matter. Stuff like going the distance in an obvious losing effort. Stuff like taking a ton of abuse just to prove your own toughness, even when it wasn’t in doubt. Stuff like hanging on until the referee stops it, rather than just admitting what your body position has already told us.

I get that you have to be tough to do this sport, Danny. But are you going to tell me that sometimes it doesn’t cross the line into stupid?

Downes: First off, I’m going to totally disagree with you on the tapping to strikes comment. Does going “full fetal,” as you put it, end up being a type of de facto tapout? Yes it does. Is it the same as tapping to strikes? Absolutely not.

When you just stop answering your girlfriend’s texts, that’s de facto breaking up. When you look her in the eye and tell her it’s over, that’s something different. The result is the same, but one takes more courage.

I’m not going to say that it doesn’t cross the line, but I don’t think you realize the implications of what you’re asking. You’re essentially trying to change the nature of MMA. This might come as a shock to you Ben, but there’s no logical, objective reason to fight someone in a cage for money. I’ll try to put in terms you may understand: There’s also no logical, objective reason to put a helmet on and hit someone carrying an oblong-shaped ball.

American football and MMA are inherently violent sports. Especially in MMA, the violence is the key component. All these attempts to put the onus on referees, cornermen and fighters, themselves to avoid uncomfortably violent or tragic outcomes may seem like a noble pursuit, but I don’t think it is. How much of this is an attempt to make ourselves feel better about watching young men and women concuss themselves? I’m not a brute; I thought Melendez should have quit earlier!

Furthermore, if we were to take your criteria to its logical conclusion, that would make Bob Sapp the smartest fighter in MMA history. Facing any resistance? Quit. Down on the scorecards and going to lose? Don’t even finish the fight. Why test yourself when you can give up!?

You flippantly dismiss the idea of proving your toughness, but it’s something that matters. Being tough on the practice mat doesn’t mean anything. There is nothing at stake. Who cares if you’re supposed to spar five rounds and you stop after three? Your coaches may not be happy and you might even piss off a sparring partner or two, but there’s always the next sparring day.

When you’re standing in the middle of the cage in front of thousands of people as it’s being broadcast on national television, the stakes are much different. Character and strength isn’t what you do when things are going well; it’s what you do when times are tough.

Fowlkes: So, wait, I’m confused about the girlfriend analogy. There, doing something proactive is the brave thing, while passively waiting for her to get the point is cowardly. But what you’re saying is that it’s the same but completely opposite in MMA? Branch isn’t tough because he admitted he was done, rather than waiting for the referee to notice that he’d stopped fighting back?

To quote Sheriff Ed Tom Bell, Danny, that don’t make no sense.

I don’t disagree that toughness matters. I’d even argue that this sport requires a different brand of it than most others do, because you can’t limp to the sidelines or call timeout or go get an MRI in the locker room. It’s all about what you do in those few minutes inside the cage, and if it doesn’t go well there is not going to be another chance to redeem yourself next weekend.

Still, you can’t tell me that we don’t fetishize toughness beyond all good sense at times. Other sports sometimes do a better job of realizing that injuring yourself for a lost cause just to make a point is dumb. In MMA, we act like as long as you can stand (and sometimes even when you can’t) you’re obligated to keep going.

And we wonder why fighters have a hard time retiring when we think they should. What’s wrong with these guys, we ask each other. It’s like they don’t know when to quit!

I think you’ll agree that there’s a point where it’s smarter to stop and take your loss than it is to keep fighting just to impress people or prove something to yourself. It’s why tapping out is even an option. We can argue about where the line is, or who gets to decide, but once we admit that it’s there we can longer justify endless abuse in the name of toughness über alles.

What do you think when you see someone hobbling around for weeks, unable to train or fight, all because he refused to tap to a heel hook? Do you think “tough,” or do you think “stupid”? The distinction matters, Danny, and that’s only more true when it’s your brain rather than your ACL.

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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Source: MMA Junkie

The long struggle to understand the difference between tough and stupid

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When the referee comes to visit you in the hospital so he can apologize, it’s a pretty good sign that you didn’t have a great night.

Still, UFC featherweight Gavin Tucker (10-1 MMA, 1-1 UFC) isn’t complaining. In fact, he’s glad that referee Kyle Cardinal didn’t stop Rick Glenn (20-4 MMA, 2-1 UFC) from thumping on him at UFC 215 in Edmonton on Saturday night, or so he would have us believe.

“Stop blaming the ref for a bad call,” Tucker wrote on Facebook. “That man let me go out on my shield.”

He also let Tucker suffer through four broken bones in his face, including fractures in his jaw and orbital bones. He didn’t know that at the time – it’s not like he has X-ray vision – but what he should have been able to see was that, as of about the middle of the second round, Tucker was no longer in this fight.

Cardinal should have stopped it there. When he failed to, Tucker’s corner should have stopped it before the third. Instead, everyone with a responsibility to look out for his safety let Tucker get beat up for five more minutes, and for what?

I found myself asking a similar question later in the evening, when Gilbert Melendez’s corner talked him out of quitting on the stool before the third round of his pay-per-view main-card opener. Melendez (22-7 MMA, 1-5 UFC) had suffered a very obvious and visible leg injury early in the fight with Jeremy Stephens (26-14 MMA, 13-13 UFC). It clearly hampered his ability to move and defend and, at times, stand.

And yet when Melendez told his corner that he thought he was done, they talked him out of it. They told him he was fine. They told the doctor to pay no attention to the man with the ice pack on his shin. They told Melendez he could do anything for five minutes.

Of course, you go out there with limited mobility against a knockout artist like Stephens, one of the things you might do is hobble right into a concussion. Melendez didn’t, which is as much a testament to his poise and experience as his toughness, and in the end he managed to hear the final horn.

He still lost, of course, and he wasn’t able to do much but survive in the final round. Surviving might have been enough to help him net his $50,000 share of the “Fight of the Night” bonus, but it’s hard to say whether that’s genuine admiration from the UFC or just pity.

We have this strange attachment to pointless suffering in combat sports. Maybe it’s part of the morality play aspect of watching two people battle in a cage. We think that they are teaching us about how to suffer with strength and dignity, and to some extent maybe they are. Or maybe they’re just accumulating damage in the service of a lost cause.

The fact that both these fights happened on the same night in Edmonton helps to drive home a certain point. It’s the same Canadian city where, some three months ago, former UFC fighter Tim Hague died after being knocked out in a boxing match.

There was another fight where there seemed to be no real reason to continue after a first round in which Hague hit the deck four times. But again, combat sports love finality and hate even the tiniest shred of doubt. We often seem to feel that it’s easier to keep going than to stop and explain why.

And you can understand why the fighters want to keep going. Fans aren’t kind to those they deem a quitter. Plus, all that training for one night – and one paycheck that doubles with a victory – who can blame you for wanting to give yourself every last chance?

But then you look at Tucker, who was 10-0 with a promising future before he got his face broken in several places, all to prove what we already knew or suspected, which is that he’s a tough guy who can withstand some pain. It didn’t do him or his career any favors to take that extra five minutes worth of punishment. It was pointless and dumb and dangerous.

Same with Melendez, whose corner no doubt thought they were doing him a favor by talking him through a low point so he wouldn’t hate himself in the morning. Then again, in 10 years covering this sport, I’ve seen a handful of fighters get talked into continuing by well-meaning cornermen. I don’t think I’ve ever seen one of those fighters win, but I have seen a lot of ugly fights that only got uglier.

There’s definitely a place for this mentality in sports like MMA, where you’ll never get anywhere if you don’t know how to get hurt, recover and overcome some adversity. But there’s a difference between fighting through the pain and being someone’s punching bag.

There are times when the pursuit of some minor moral victory will come at the expense of actual victories later on, the same way refusing to tap to a joint lock only earns you more time in surgery and rehab, when you could have been training and fighting and learning instead.

Seems to me we could do a better job of understanding and recognizing that distinction, and not valorizing empty risks that only serve to reinforce a point that’s already been proven. We get that UFC fighters are tough. You don’t make it to this level if you’re not.

But there’s a point where tough gives way to stupid. There are already enough ways for this sport to send you to the hospital. We don’t need to go looking for new ones.

For more on UFC 215, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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

Despite 4 broken facial bones, Gavin Tucker says ref deserves no blame at UFC 215

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Many fight fans, UFC President Dana White and even his own opponent thought the fight should’ve been stopped, but the man who suffered the beating, Gavin Tucker, is thankful it wasn’t.

During Saturday’s UFC 215 preliminary card, featherweight Rick Glenn (20-4 MMA, 2-1 UFC) mauled Tucker (10-1 MMA, 1-1 UFC) for three rounds before claiming a unanimous-decision victory.

After the bout, which aired on FS1 from Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, Glenn said the fight “definitely” should have been stopped.

“Midway through the fight, definitely in the third round, I looked up to the ref and asked him, ‘Hey, you know, stop the fight?’” Glenn said. “But (Tucker) would move just enough. But he was taking some unnecessary damage, I thought. It’s too bad. We’re in the hurting business, but I don’t want to see anyone getting hurt unnecessarily. It definitely should have been stopped.”

Tucker, who entered the fight as nearly a 4-1 favorite, disagrees, though.

In a Facebook post, he wrote that he suffered four broken bones in his face. However, he said fans should “stop blaming the ref for a bad call” and “that man let me go out on my shield.” In fact, the ref, Kyle Cardinal, even visited him in the hospital afterward, he wrote.

Here’s the full post (via Facebook):

“In victory say little. In defeat ….less.
ill keep it short and sweet. i lost on Saturday. stop blaming the ref for a bad call. that man let me go out on my shield. he visited while i was in the hospital and apologized. was him and i in that cage. I didnt stop fighting. he saw that. he should sleep easy.
I have four broken bones in my face. the first which started on the jaw in rd 1 and the fight went down for me from there. i have 2 fractured orbital and another vertical fracture in the jaw according to the x ray/CT scan. the heartbreak of losing hurts much worse. throughout the day i wiped alot of blood off my cheek and i can’t say for sure there weren’t some tears in there. I fought w blurred vision and 3 different Rick Glenns kicked the fuck out of me for the last two rds. (i tried to hit the one in the middle) congrats to my opponent. i hope you go far because i plan on seeing you again.
I fought my heart out. I’m a rare breed of straight savage and i don’t need social media to tell me that. however…i am appreciative of all the support i received on here. which is why I’m writing this. I have no excuses and won’t stand for anyone making them for me. that’s not how the north folk get it done.
I have a great Family. a great team. and the greatest women. ill be twice the man for this.
thats it….. Tucker 2.0 is on the way”

Tucker debuted with the UFC in February and picked up a decision victory over Sam Sicilia in his promotional debut. It gave the 31-year-old Canadian fighter and former Extreme Combat Championship 145-pound champion a perfect 10-0 start to his pro career.

For more on UFC 215, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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Source: MMA Junkie

Should UFC 215 thrashing of Gavin Tucker been stopped? Rick Glenn says 'definitely'

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EDMONTON – Some violence is to be expected in the octagon. But every now and then, a beating gets so bad that it crosses into hard-to-watch territory.

We certainly got (at least) one of those this Saturday, at UFC 215, when the demolition of Gavin Tucker (10-1 MMA, 1-1 UFC) earned featherweight Rick Glenn (20-4 MMA, 2-1 UFC) a dominant decision win and ref Kyle Cardinal some serious heat from the MMA community.

With a rare 10-7 third-round score by one of the judges, many – including UFC President Dana White – argued that the brutal beating should have never been allowed to continue as long as it did.

Glenn, it turns out, is one of those people.

“Midway through the fight, definitely in the third round, I looked up to the ref and asked him, ‘Hey, you know, stop the fight?’” Glenn said backstage at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, following the FS1-televised preliminary-card bout. “But (Tucker) would move just enough. But he was taking some unnecessary damage, I thought. It’s too bad.

“We’re in the hurting business, but I don’t want to see anyone getting hurt unnecessarily. It definitely should have been stopped.”

Despite scorecards weird enough to make MMA history, the bout ended with an obvious unanimous call for Glenn. Not only did the veteran win, but he cruised against a previously undefeated opponent who was the favorite coming in.

Glenn may have made it look easy in there. But, looking back, it took some hard times to get to this point.

“It wasn’t easy preparing for it and leading up to it,” Glenn said. “My whole career trickles down to this one match. Everything leading up to it is quite a bit – I really wanted the finish. It sucks that I didn’t get the finish. It should have been a finish.”

Glenn, who was balancing his training with a job at Costco not that long ago, credits his evolution to changes he’s only now been able to make. Thanks to two UFC wins – and a “Fight of the Night” bonus that stemmed from his ultimately unsuccessful debut – the featherweight is now a full-time fighter.

Not only that, he’s been able to relocate to Sacramento, where he currently trains with renowned Team Alpha Male. Now, happy with everything from the positive atmosphere at the gym and California’s weather, the 28-year-old celebrates the improvements in his game.

“Definitely my movement,” Glenn said. “Just constant level change and movement. We moved clear cross the country, something I’ve been wanting to do since I started fighting. I’ve been fighting over 11 years now.

“Since I was just a kid. I wanted to train with Urijah Faber, and now I’m financially able to do that. I’m doing what I love to do, fighting in the UFC. This is a dream come true for me, so I’m very blessed.”

With two UFC wins and a bonus under his belt, Glenn can dare to dream a little bigger in the exciting 145-pound division. But as far as callouts go, he’s got a reasonably modest one: Calvin Kattar, who recently beat Team Alpha Male’s own Andre Fili.

“(He’s) a good boxer,” Glenn said. “I thought that was a pretty close fight (with Fili), so it’d be nice to get that win back for the team. So that’s who I want next.”

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

And for complete coverage of UFC 215, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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Source: MMA Junkie

UFC 215 post-event facts: Which fighter tied an 11-year-old UFC record?

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The UFC made a successful debut in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, on Saturday with UFC 215, which took place at Rogers Place with a main card on pay-per-view following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass.

The 11-fight card was capped off by a razor-thin title defense from UFC women’s bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes (15-4 MMA, 8-1 UFC), who edged rival Valentina Shevchenko (14-3 MMA, 3-2 UFC) by split decision in their anticipated title rematch.

Nunes’ victory continued to raise her profile in the divisional record books, but she wasn’t the only fighter on the card to make some history. For more, check below for 35 post-even facts to come out of UFC 215.

* * * *

General

Amanda Nunes

The UFC-Reebok Athlete Outfitting payout for the event totaled $185,000.

Rafael dos Anjos, Henry Cejudo, Jeremy Stephens and Gilbert Melendez earned $50,000 UFC 215 fight-night bonuses.

Debuting fighters went 1-0 on the card.

UFC 215 drew an announced attendance of 16,232 for a live gate of $2,028,307.14.

Betting favorites went 6-5 on the card.

Total fight time for the 11-bout card was 2:06:50.

Main card

Amanda Nunes and Valentina Shevchenko

Nunes’ six-fight UFC winning streak in women’s bantamweight competition is the longest active streak in the division.

Nunes’ eight victories in UFC women’s bantamweight competition are the most in divisional history.

Shevchenko has suffered both of her UFC losses to Nunes.

Shevchenko has suffered both of her UFC losses by decision.

Shevchenko failed to complete a takedown in a fight for the first time in her UFC career.

Rafael dos Anjos

Dos Anjos (27-9 MMA, 16-7 UFC) improved to 2-0 since he moved up to the UFC welterweight division in June 2017.

Dos Anjos earned his first submission victory since May 15, 2012 – a span of 1,943 days (more than five years) and 14 fights.

Neil Magny (19-6 MMA, 12-5 UFC) has suffered four of his six career losses by submission.

Henry Cejudo

Cejudo (11-2 MMA, 5-2 UFC) earned the first stoppage victory of his UFC career.

Wilson Reis (22-8 MMA, 6-4 UFC) fell to 5-3 since he dropped to the UFC flyweight division in August 2014.

Tyson Pedro (6-1 MMA, 2-1 UFC) had his six-fight winning streak snapped for the first defeat of his career.

Stephens (26-14 MMA, 13-13 UFC) improved to 6-5 since he dropped to the UFC featherweight division in May 2013.

Jeremy Stephens

Stephens has earned four of his six featherweight victories by decision.

Stephens’ five knockdowns landed tied the single-fight UFC record set by Forrest Petz vs. Sammy Morgan at UFC Fight Night 6 in 2006.

Melendez (22-7 MMA, 1-5 UFC) suffered his fourth consecutive loss to extend the longest skid of his career. He’s 1-5 in his past six bouts overall and hasn’t earned a victory since October 2013.

Melendez was unsuccessful in his UFC featherweight debut. He hasn’t earned a victory in the weight class since August 2005.

Melendez has suffered six of his seven career losses by decision.

Preliminary card

Ketlen Vieira and Sara McMann

Ketlen Vieira’s (9-0 MMA, 3-0 UFC) three-fight UFC winning streak in women’s bantamweight competition is tied for the third longest active streak in the division behind Nunes (six) and Raquel Pennington (four).

Sara McMann (11-4 MMA, 5-4 UFC) has suffered three of her four career losses by stoppage.

Ashlee Evans-Smith (5-3 MMA, 2-3 UFC) has suffered both of her career stoppage losses by submission.

Gavin Tucker (10-1 MMA, 1-1 UFC) had his 10-fight winning streak snapped for the first defeat of his career.

Mitch Clarke

Mitch Clarke (11-5 MMA, 2-5 UFC) suffered his third consecutive loss to extend the longest skid of his career.

Clarke retired from MMA following his defeat.

Alex White (12-3 MMA, 3-3 UFC) improved to 1-1 since he moved up to the UFC lightweight division in January.

White has earned 10 of his 12 career victories by stoppage.

Luis Henrique (10-4 MMA, 2-3 UFC) suffered the first decision loss of his career.

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

Kajan Johnson

Kajan Johnson (22-11-1 MMA, 3-1 UFC) earned his first knockout victory since Nov. 6, 2009 – a span of 2,864 days (nearly eight years) and seven fights.

Adriano Martins (28-9 MMA, 4-3 UFC) has suffered both of his UFC stoppage losses by knockout.

For complete coverage of UFC 215, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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

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Source: MMA Junkie

UFC 215 Athlete Outfitting pay: 2017 payout total passes $4 million

EDMONTON – Fighters from Saturday’s UFC 215 event took home UFC Athlete Outfitting pay, a program that launched after the UFC’s deal with Reebok, totaling $185,000.

UFC 215 took place at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, and the main card aired on pay-per-view following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass.

Leading the way was UFC women’s bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes (15-4 MMA, 8-1 UFC), who as a titleholder earned a maximum program payout of $40,000. “The Lioness” earned a split-decision victory over Valentina Shevchenko (14-3 MMA, 3-2 UFC) in the main event.

With UFC 215 in the books, the UFC’s 2017 annual outfitting payout pushed past $4 million.

The full UFC 215 UFC Athlete Outfitting payouts included:

Amanda Nunes: $40,000
def. Valentina Shevchenko: $30,000

Rafael dos Anjos: $20,000
def. Neil Magny: $15,000

Henry Cejudo: $5,000
def. Wilson Reis: $5,000

Ilir Latifi: $5,000
def. Tyson Pedro: $2,500

Jeremy Stephens: $20,000
def. Gilbert Melendez: $5,000

Ketlen Vieira: $2,500
def. Sara McMann: $5,000

Sarah Moras: $2,500
def. Ashlee Evans-Smith: $2,500

Rick Glenn: $2,500
def. Gavin Tucker: $2,500

Alex White: $5,000
def. Mitch Clarke: $5,000

Arjan Bhullar: $2,500
def. Luis Henrique: $2,500

Kajan Johnson: $2,500
def. Adriano Martins: $5,000

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.

Year-to-date total: $4,050,000
2016 total: $7,138,000
2015 total: $3,185,000
Program-to-date total: $14,373,000

For complete coverage of UFC 215, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

Rick Glenn's beatdown of Gavin Tucker made UFC history – in a weird way

In addition to being one of the ugliest beatdowns in recent memory, Rick Glenn’s unanimous-decision win over Gavin Tucker at UFC 215 also made UFC history, albeit in a pretty weird way.

After battering an exhausted and bloodied Tucker in Rounds 2 and 3, Glenn won an obvious unanimous-decision victory in a fight that certainly should have been stopped well before it got to the judges. But once the scorecards were tallied up, they almost made you wonder if all the judges were watching the same fight.

Judge Sal D’Amato gave Glenn every round, including a 10-8 in the second and the rarely seen 10-7 in the third. Dave Hagen saw it similarly, but limited himself to a pair of 10-8 scores in the last two rounds.

The outlier was Sean Gerke, who was the only one to give Tucker the first round, and also the only one to score the dominant second frame for Glenn as a mere 10-9:

The result? According to MMADecisions.com, it was the first bout in UFC history to finish with a scorecard that included one 30-24 score and one score that didn’t even start with a 30.

It also went on and on to an almost nauseating degree, and somehow referee Kyle Cardinal – to say nothing of Tucker’s corner – didn’t see a reason to stop it. That fact let one of those parties in for some typically direct and plain-spoken criticism from UFC President Dana White (via Twitter):

For more on UFC 215, visit the UFC Events 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

UFC 215 results: Rick Glenn overwhelms Gavin Tucker, who earns no mercy from referee

Eleven-year veteran Rick Glenn (20-4 MMA, 2-1 UFC) turned in one of the best performances of his career, battering a previously undefeated Gavin Tucker (10-1 MMA, 1-1 UFC) en route to a decision win that probably should have been halted in the third.

The featherweight bout was part of today’s UFC 215 prelims, which took place at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, and aired on FS1.

Tucker nearly walked himself right into a choke in the opening seconds after a spinning strike went awry, but he was able to pull free and reset to more traditional attacks. The rangy Glenn looked to keep himself at distance and strike from the outside, thought Tucker answered with wild strikes from all angles. Switching stances and darting in and out of range, the shorter Tucker did find success on the feet, keeping a high pace and constantly looking for options. That said, it was Glenn who landed the first big blow, scoring a flash knockdown with a big left hand that seemed to have a lasting effect when Tucker did crawl back to his feet.

The second round kicked off with a rapid pace, and both men met in the center to brawl. Glenn was able to take the fight to the floor and secure a dominant position, and thought Tucker appeared to be fading a bit, he did battle his way back to the feet. Still, Glenn kept the pressure high, moving forward and striking both on the outside and in tight. A bloodied Tucker was again taken to the floor, and Glenn simply swarmed with nonstop attacks. Tucker kept himself moving and looking for options, but Glenn swarmed him until the bell.

Tucker tried again to sway the momentum with aggression to start the third, but Glenn met it head on and instantly seized control once again. A takedown came with relative ease, and Glenn continued to batter Tucker on the floor. Tucker tried to grab a leg whenever possible, but Glenn had no problem pulling free and just pounding away. An exhausted Tucker turtled for survival, and Glenn just beat up on an opponent who really should have been saved by referee Kyle Cardinal. Instead, Glenn took home a one-sided decision with scores of 30-25, 30-24 and 29-27.

Glenn improves to 5-1 in his past six fights. Tucker loses for the first time as a pro.

Up-to-the-minute UFC 215 results include:

For more on UFC 215, visit the UFC Events section of the site.

Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

10 reasons to watch UFC 215 (*sigh* – even without Demetrious Johnson's shot at history)

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Filed under: News, UFC

It’s funny how fast things can change in the UFC. One day flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson is headlining UFC 215, an event where he has the opportunity to break the all-time record for consecutive UFC title defenses. The next day women’s bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes is fighting in the main event.

This despite the fact UFC President Dana White recently said Nunes would not get the chance to headline another fight card.

A viral illness to Johnson’s opponent, Ray Borg, is the reason behind the change. Borg was ruled unfit to compete by the UFC medical team less than 12 hours before weigh-ins.

In the new main event, Nunes, the only woman not named Ronda Rousey to successfully defend the women’s bantamweight title, puts her belt on the line against top-ranked contender Valentina Shevchenko. Coincidentally, this matchup was rebooked for UFC 215 after Nunes withdrew from UFC 213 after weigh-ins for health reasons.

The welterweight fight between Neil Magny and former lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos is the new co-main event.

UFC 215 takes place at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. The main card airs on pay-per-view following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass.

Here are 10 reasons to watch the event.

1. Something to prove

UFC President Dana White was unhappy with Nunes when she withdrew from her UFC 213 fight against Shevchenko the morning of the event. Some fans think Nunes, No. 1 in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA women’s bantamweight rankings, withdrew from the fight not due to chronic sinusitis, but because she was afraid of Shevchenko (14-2 MMA, 3-1 UFC). No. 2-ranked Shevchenko accused Nunes (14-4 MMA, 7-1 UFC) of “backing out because of a flubbed weight cut. The thing about all that is, Nunes doesn’t care.

“Honestly, I don’t really worry about what people think,” Nunes said during a recent conference call.

Despite her claim, one wonders, does Nunes have a point to prove? And if she does, is Nunes going to put herself at risk by being ultra-aggressive against Shevchenko?

Nunes has fought three full rounds on only two occasions; she’s never gone five. Nunes lost one of her three-round bouts, and in the other, against Shevchenko, she faded, leaving everyone to wonder if Shevchenko would have won had the fight been a five-rounder. With Nunes defending her title in this bout, we could get an answer to that question.

2. Looking up

After 34 lightweight fights, former 155-pound champion dos Anjos moved to welterweight. In his 170-pound debut, he earned a unanimous-decision win over former Strikeforce champion Tarec Saffiedine. After his victory, dos Anjos said he wanted to work his way up the rankings. He gets his wish at UFC 215 where he meets No. 10-ranked Magny.

Where dos Anjos and Saffiedine were close in height and reach, that’s not the case with Magny. Magny (19-5 MMA, 12-4 UFC) has a 10-inch reach advantage and a 7-inch height advantage over dos Anjos (26-9 MMA, 15-7 UFC).

Dos Anjos wanted a test, and he gets one in Magny. If he can deal with the lanky Magny, who’s coming off a win over former champion Johny Hendricks, expect dos Anjos to ask for a top-five opponent in his next outing.

3. Stay in the mix

Two recent victims of “Mighty” Johnson, Henry Cejudo and Wilson Reis, meet in an important flyweight bout.

No. 8-ranked Reis (22-7 MMA, 6-3 UFC) was on a three-fight winning streak before a submission loss to Johnson. Cejudo (10-2 MMA, 4-2 UFC), currently ranked No. 3 in the division, was a perfect 10-0 before his April 2016 TKO loss to Johnson.

Reis hasn’t fought since losing to Johnson. Cejudo is currently on a two-fight skid after dropping a split decision to perennial top contender Joseph Benavidez in December.

The winner of this fight should stay in the mix for another shot at the flyweight title. The loser could find himself relegated to gatekeeper, testing the next generation of 125-pounders – fighters such as Sergio Pettis, Brandon Moreno, Ben Nguyen and Alexandre Pantoja.

4. Getting things done fast

Tyson Pedro has been a wrecking machine since turning pro in 2013. He’s ended all six of his bouts, including two with the UFC, in the first round. At UFC 215, he faces Ilir Latifi, who has 18 fights on his record.

Pedro, an honorable mention in the light heavyweight rankings, has looked good during his limited octagon time. He displayed sound submission skills in his win over Khalil Rountree and vicious ground strikes when he knocked out Paul Craig.

Latifi will be at a height and reach disadvantage in this contest. That has not been an issue for him in the past. He’s knocked out fighters nearly as tall as Pedro (6-0 MMA, 2-0 UFC) and submitted taller opponents. Latifi (12-5 MMA, 5-3 UFC) is not the most active striker, but his one-punch knockout power makes up for his low output. Like Pedro, Latifi tends to get things done quickly after racking up eight career first-round stoppages, with four of those coming in the UFC.

5. Trying something new

Things have not gone well for former Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez since he joined the UFC. His record with the promotion is 1-4, he was suspended for a failed drug test, and he’s fought only three times in the past 33 months. At UFC 215, Melendez makes the drop to featherweight in the hope of making a title run.

Melendez’s opponent is another former lightweight, Jeremy Stephens. The vet made his drop in 2013. Since then, he’s gone 5-5, and he’s 2-3 in his past five outings.

Stephens (25-14 MMA, 12-13 UFC) is one of the more powerful punchers in the division, but as we saw in his recent loss to Renato Moicano, if his opponent stays in motion and out of range, Stephens can become ineffective and frustrated. Melendez (22-6 MMA, 1-4 UFC) could follow Moicano’s blueprint, but on the other hand, Melendez has never been afraid to brawl.

6. No takedowns allowed

Former women’s bantamweight title challenger Sara McMann is on the best run of her UFC career., She’s an accomplished wrestler who’s won three straight, with her two most recent wins being her first two submission victories with the UFC. Currently ranked No. 9 in the division, McMann looks to extend her winning streak against No. 15-ranked, and unbeaten, Ketlen Vieira.

McMann has opened up her striking and relied less on her wrestling as of late. That could come in handy; Vieira (8-0 MMA. 2-0 UFC), like McMann (11-3 MMA, 5-3 UFC), has defended all of her opponents’ takedown attempts.

Vieira is a black belt in judo. She also has an aggressive striking game that progressed exponentially between her first and second UFC fights.

If this one stays off the mat, it could be a barnburner of a striking battle.

7. Let’s see the second act

Gavin Tucker

Gavin Tucker’s UFC debut against Sam Sicilia couldn’t have gone better. Tucker entered the fight with an unbeaten record, but there were questions about his ability to face UFC-level talent.

Tucker displayed fantastic speed, movement and footwork against Sicilia. On more than one occasion, UFC commentator Brian Stann compared Tucker to bantamweight champion Cody Garbrandt. Tucker dominated Sicilia. In fact, by the third round, he was more or less clowning Sicilia.

Tucker (10-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC), who established himself as a featherweight to watch with that decision win, faces tough as nails Rick Glenn in Edmonton. Glenn (19-4 MMA, 1-1 UFC) is coming off a split-decision win over Phillipe Nover.

8. Turn it around

Mitch Clarke and Alex White both entered the UFC with unbeaten records. Clarke (11-4 MMA, 2-4 UFC) built a 9-0 record on the Canadian MMA circuit. White (11-3 MMA, 2-3 UFC) was 9-0, fighting almost exclusively in Missouri.

Since joining the UFC, the fortunes of these two lightweights have changed. Clarke’s UFC record stands at 2-4 while White is 2-3.

Fighting in one of the deepest divisions, these two need to get back in the win column in a bad way.

Clarke might be under more pressure in this fight. The matchup against White is an opportunity for him to fight in front of his hometown fans for the first time under the UFC banner. It also marks the first time he’s had the chance to compete in more than a year due to knee injuries.

9. The lone debut

Luis Henrique

Arjan Bhullar is the only fighter making his promotional debut at UFC 215. He represented Canada in freestyle wrestling at the 2012 Olympics. After his wrestling career ended, he transitioned to MMA. He captured the Battlefield Fight League heavyweight title in his third pro fight.

Bhullar was the first Indian to represent Canada in freestyle wrestling at the Olympics. He is now the first fighter of South Asian descent to fight in the UFC. It would be an understatement to say Bhullar (6-0 MMA, 0-0 UFC) feels a sense of pride and responsibility heading into his bout against Luis Henrique (10-3 MMA, 2-2 UFC).

10. A big favorite

Adriano Martins enters his lightweight bout against Kajan Johnson as more than a 4-1 favorite. The former Jungle Fight champion is a tremendous striking threat. The problem with Martins is, though he has one-punch knockout power, he’s not very active. He lands just 1.85 significant strikes per minute. That inactivity might have been the reason he dropped a split decision to Leonardo Santos in his most recent fight.

If Martins (28-8 MMA, 4-2 UFC) wants to face higher level competition, as he did early in his UFC run, he needs to up his aggression or score a fourth fight-night bonus award. The latter might be a possibility because the active Johnson (21-12-1 MMA, 2-1 UFC) will provide Martins opportunities to land big counterstrikes.

Johnson has not fought since he earned a decision over Naoyuki Kotani in September 2015.

For more on UFC 215, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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Source: MMA Junkie

In-depth main-card breakdown: 'UFC 215: Johnson vs. Borg'

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Filed under: Featured, News, UFC

MMAjunkie Radio cohost and MMAjunkie contributor Dan Tom provides an in-depth breakdown of all of UFC 215’s main-card bouts.

UFC 215 takes place Saturday at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. The main card airs on pay-per-view following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass.

* * * *

Demetrious Johnson (26-2-1 MMA, 14-1-1 UFC)

Demetrious Johnson

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’3″ Age: 31 Weight: 125 lbs. Reach: 66″
  • Last fight: Submission win over Wilson Reis (April 15, 2017)
  • Camp: AMC Pankration (Kirkland, Wash.)
  • Stance/striking style: Switch-stance/kickboxing
  • Risk management: Excellent

Supplemental info:
+ UFC flyweight champion
+ Amateur MMA tites
+ 5 KO wins
+ 9 submission victories
+ 9 first-round finishes
+ Relentless pace and pressure
+ Incredible speed
+ Superb footwork
^ Finds and creates angles
+ Diverse arsenal of attack
^ Variates timing and techniques
+ Adjusts well throughout fight
+ Creative clinch game
^ Stifles, strikes, sets up takedowns
+ Excellent transitional grappler
+ Never slows / recovers well

Ray Borg (11-2 MMA, 5-2 UFC)

Ray Borg

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’4″ Age: 30 Weight: 125 lbs. Reach: 63″
  • Last fight: Decision win over Jussier Formiga (March 11, 2016)
  • Camp: Jackson-Wink MMA (New Mexico)
  • Stance/striking style: Orthodox/Kickboxing
  • Risk management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+ Regional MMA title
+ Wrestling base
+ 1 KO victory
+ 6 submission wins
+ 4 first-round finishes
+ Aggressive pace and pressure
+ Improved overall striking
^ Defensively and offensively
+ Excellent takedown ability
^ Solid level changes and chains
+ Superb scrambler / transitional grappler
^ Always looks for back
+ Works well from topside
^ Floats and rides smoothly
+ Effective ground striker
^ Dangerous elbows

Summary:

The main event for UFC 215 is a title fight in the flyweight division as Demetrious Johnson takes on Ray Borg.

Considered by many to be the sport’s best pound-for-pound tactician,“Mighty Mouse” Johnson has continued to display dominance amongst his contemporaries. Currently tied with Anderson Silva for most title defenses in UFC history (10), Johnson will attempt to further cement his name in the history books of MMA.

Seeking to spoil the party is “The Tazmexican Devil” Borg, the division’s No. 3-ranked contender (according to the UFC), who has long-been considered a dark horse by many. Now, tasked with his tallest order to date, Borg will attempt to upset the oddsmakers as he goes trophy hunting at the highest level.

Starting off on the feet, I suspect the champion, Johnson, will have his biggest on-paper advantages, as I see his speed and footwork playing his most crucial role for success. Since entering the organization in 2011, we have seen steady but tangible improvements from Johnson.

Demonstrating a preternatural sense of range, Johnson has been able to apply his speed to techniques, as he finds angles beautifully from both stances. Not only can the champion fight from each side, but he can also shift smoothly between southpaw and orthodox as he attacks in combination.

Still, Johnson will need to respect what is coming back at him, as Borg will have offense of his own to offer. A quick, explosive striker himself, the New Mexican native has been steadily sharpening his game under the care of Brandon Gibson and the rest of the staff at Jackson-Wink MMA.

Demonstrating improvements to his head movement and footwork, Borg can now better facilitate the strikes that he likes to throw. And considering that Borg throws sharp hooks and uppercuts with an occasional flying knee, he could come up big against an opponent who is consistently dipping and/or changing his level.

Regardless of how striking stanzas play out, I believe that the clinch battles will be the make-or-break point of this matchup, making it a key junction for both men.

Despite the clinch being a gateway for Borg to get this fight to the floor, it is also a pathway that can be deceptive to pass through considering the clinching acumen of the champion. A flow master and multi-tasker, there is no better examples of Johnson’s brilliance than when watching the evolution of his game inside of the clinch.

After being dropped in his first fight with John Dodson, Johnson intelligently adjusted by taking the fight into the clinch. Using a myriad of grips to trips, or strikes into high-crotch hikes, Johnson has developed quite the taste for breaking his opponents in close.

Since then, we have only seen these skills sharpened as we witnessed the champion dismember an Olympic wrestler within his comfort of the clinch, using brutal knees to break down his opposition.

Nevertheless, Johnson cannot afford to be caught sleeping or shifting gears in this space, as Borg is no slouch in tight. An excellent chain wrestler himself, Borg is relentless in his pursuit of the takedown, creatively utilizing his opponent’s levers against them.

Even if Borg fails to ground the champion, he could still create problems by simply doing enough to open up a scramble opportunity – a space the New Mexican native has proven to thrive within.

As his nickname would indicate, Borg is a ravenous scrambler who looks to snatch up submissions and positions in transit. That said, Borg’s game will need to be air-tight, as Johnson has shown that he can play the role of an escape artist when necessary.

Staying calm and composed at all times, Johnson typically uses textbook techniques to get out of very troublesome spots. Often utilizing a single-leg to lever himself to safety and or control a scramble, the champion will usually reverse position or break away with success.

The potential problem – in my opinion – is that the process of turtling out or into your opponent traditionally gives way to back-takes and front-headlocks, positions that are arguably Borg’s best spots.

Working well from the front-headlock, Borg has displayed an array of submission and positional threats as he sets up the back mount well from here. And given the success both Ian McCall and Tim Elliot had against Johnson from the front headlock, I would not be surprised to see Borg force the issue should he end up there.

Ultimately, it is hard to see either man easily getting ahead of the other on the mat without having to earn it first. Although the oddsmakers are not giving the challenger much of a chance at +800 odds, let’s not forget that there was a time where Borg was one of the few fighters pulling -800 lines in his favor.

Still, the numbers do arguably reflect the task at hand as the New Mexican native will need to venture deep into the woods to get his kill. And though I do not doubt Borg’s belief in himself for a second, it is hard to go against the best all-terrain fighter in the sport, as I see Johnson doing the bulk of his damage standing and in the clinch, frustrating the title challenger as he finds his finish in the later rounds.

Official pick: Johnson by decision

Official outcome: To be determined

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