Former UFC champ Germaine de Randamie cleared for return to training after hand surgery

Former UFC women’s featherweight champion Germaine de Randamie has officially received clearance to return to training.

De Randamie (7-3 MMA, 4-1 UFC) underwent surgery on her right hand in early September after, she said, it had been an issue for several fights. She was forced to withdraw from a scheduled UFC Fight Night 115 matchup with Marion Reneau this past month and finally opted to go under the knife.

After the operation was completed with “no complication,” de Randamie recently announced that she’s able to return to training and book her next fight.

“Got the best news today (which feels like it’s been forever),” de Randamie wrote on Instagram. “Got green light from my doctor to start training again. Thank you so much Dr. Feitz.”

De Randamie has not competed since UFC 208 in February, when she earned a unanimous-decision victory over Holly Holm to win the inaugural UFC women’s 145-pound belt. Officials attempted to set up a first title defense against Cris Cyborg at UFC 214 in July. However, de Randamie didn’t accept the fight, and as a result, she was stripped of the title.

“The Iron Lady” moved back down to the women’s bantamweight division for the fight with Reneau, and though the bout never happened, that seems to be her desired weight class going forward.

De Randamie, No. 8 in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA women’s bantamweight rankings, did not mention any potential opponents for her next fight, but she made it clear she’s returning with no shortage of motivation.

“More determined than ever before,” de Randamie wrote. “I’m coming back stronger, faster, more hungry than ever before!”

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

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Source: MMA Junkie

Twitter Mailbag: UFC's decision to sideline Mark Hunt against his will is a tricky one

If you make your struggle with the effects of brain trauma public, how surprised can you be when a promoter won’t let you fight? But if the promoter won’t let you fight, what do you get to do?

Plus, what’s the fight of the year so far in 2017? And does the UFC flyweight champ need to jump up a division now?

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

I’m torn on this. On one hand, you want the UFC to be proactive about fighter health and safety. If a fighter tells us that he’s slurring his words and struggling with short-term memory – both major red flags – you don’t want to put that person in a cage to fight for money.

On the other hand, Mark Hunt is currently suing the UFC for what he alleges is a failure to look out for fighter health and safety, so we can’t ignore the context of this move by the UFC.

It’s also worth asking if the UFC just set a precedent that it’s not willing to stick to. Georges St-Pierre has also described issues with his memory (which he attributed to possible alien activity, which is not necessarily any less concerning), but he was never pulled from any fights, and is slated to return for more in November.

Then there’s the question of what you do with a fighter who you’ve deemed medically unfit to fight based on a column he wrote for a website. How can you keep him under contract if you’re not going to let him work?

And if you do release him, does that mean any fighter can get out of his contract by publicly proclaiming his brain to be damaged, only to pop up in Bellator a couple months later declaring that, actually, he’s feeling much better now, thank you?

These are uncharted waters. This wasn’t an athletic commission that pulled Hunt from the fight. And, as far as we know, the decision to pull him wasn’t based on any actual medical testing. UFC officials just read a column with Hunt’s name on it and yanked him, which forces us to wonder about the true motives here.

(Also, if talking openly about brain trauma leads to a de facto suspension, what you’ve really done is ensure that fighters will stay quiet about their symptoms if and when they do appear.)

But again, if Hunt really is experiencing the symptoms he wrote about, he shouldn’t be fighting. I wish the UFC had done more to confirm and investigate that before acting. I also wish it hadn’t decided to make this unprecedented principled stance with a fighter who’s currently battling the promotion in court. Then it would have been a lot easier to know what to make of it.

Are those the only two choices? Because if you told me right now that Rory MacDonald has a goat who he cares for and talks to and secretly feels is the only one in this world who understands him, I would believe that in a heartbeat.

First of all, that’s awesome. Second of all, if ever there was a situation where you don’t want to walk around with an imported IPA in your hand, loudly discussing the superiority of Japanese motorcycles, this is it. Third of all, Roy Nelson? Now that’s natural sponsor synergy, right there. Fourth, remember to have a good time. Fifth, but not so good that you forget to apply sunscreen and end up with the inevitable tank top tan. That’s experience talking, my friend.

Is this love? That you’re feeling? Is this – and here I’m just thinking out loud – the love that you’ve been waiting for?

But I know what you mean. Watching Demetrious Johnson pull off a brand new submission reminded me of one of the things that I’ve always loved about MMA, which is that it’s a sport that’s always growing and changing.

Remember 15 years ago when Tito Ortiz would take somebody down, wedge their head against the fence, and elbow a hole in their face? At the time that felt like a new answer for the relatively old problem of the jiu-jitsu guard. Now it’s the first step to having someone wall-walk their way to an escape.

The nature of MMA – just two humans trying to hurt each other in a cage, with relatively few rules restricting them – makes it an environment that allows for a lot of creativity. The opportunities for evolution are everywhere. New attacks lead to new counters, which then breed new variations on the old moves. Every once in a while, an artist appears to blaze a fresh trail.

You don’t really get as much of that with most other sports. Instead you get people who do the old stuff slightly better than their predecessors. This is one of the things that makes MMA special. I hope we never lose that.

Since we’re talking about a health and safety issue, I’m not sure we want to use “try something – anything!” as our mantra here. Some proposed fixes, like same-day weigh-ins or lengthy suspensions for missing weight, are likely to make things worse, because fighters are still going to take the risks even when it’s a bad idea, and you’re not going to punish your way out of this problem.

I think the best hope for a solution is something along the lines of what California is trying to do, using hydration testing and other methods to determine a safe fighting weight for every athlete, then making the fighters stick to those guidelines even when they don’t want to.

Even that system won’t be perfect. There will be times when it feels like regulatory overreach for a commission to tell someone like Renan Barao that he doesn’t get to be a bantamweight anymore.

Plus, fighters’ bodies change. They get old. Or they just let themselves get out of shape. Just because you determine a safe fighting weight, it doesn’t completely rule out the possibility of fighters trying for last-minute, extreme weight cuts. And if you think it’s a bummer when a fight is scratched due to someone missing weight, wait until a big one is called off because someone is too far from the target weight for the commission to even let them try.

Still, this is obviously an issue. Fighters can literally die this way. Not to mention, it’s just insane to put athletes through that kind of intense depletion a day before the competition. There’s no doubt that performances suffer as a result. Careers are probably shortened, and for what? Just so fighters can face someone roughly their own size in the end?

I support athletic commissions that are serious about changing that culture, but it can’t just be one or two of them. As with anti-doping efforts, this needs to be something the whole sport does if we’re every going to get anywhere.

Ultimately? Antonio Silva is. But I see your point. It’s madness to me that GLORY would even book this fight. What’s the point? To let Rico Verhoeven show out against a big, slow punching bag of an opponent for the sake of some memorable violence? What, to prove some point about kickboxing vs. MMA? Is this some kind of sad, off-brand attempt at a Mayweather-McGregor-esque cross-sport challenge? I don’t get it.

Ideally, the people who love and care about Silva would stop him from doing this, but for various reasons I wrote about back when this fight was announced, that’s not happening. Instead we’re just charging ahead with this like these mismatches aren’t very dangerous, which they are.

I like face-punching and knockouts as much as anyone, but I won’t watch this. I can’t. As viewers and fans, that feels like the least we can do to make this sort of matchmaking stop.

 

Really, that’s your list? There’s something to spoil every one of those, and I’m pretty sure the last one is a cartoon.

If you ask me to pick a fight of the year that I can still feel good about as of this writing, I have to go with Justin Gaethje vs. Michael Johnson. No one got popped for drugs. The judges didn’t screw it up (because Gaethje didn’t give them a chance). The fight was competitive and rational from a matchmaking perspective.

And if that’s not enough, the action was just bananas. B-A-N-A-N-A-S.

That’s not a call for the UFC to make; that’s up to the athletic commission. And no, based on precedence alone, that’s not something that merits an official punishment. We’ve seen fighters get away with much more egregious shots after the bell (looking at you, Germaine de Randamie) and there was no punitive action beyond whatever the referee was willing to do in the fight itself, which is usually nothing at all.

He doesn’t have to, because weight classes exist for a reason. But man, it sure would be great if he did, wouldn’t it?

I can’t help but feel underwhelmed by the thought of watching Johnson keep beating up the same flyweights over and over, all while the UFC has to reach further down the rankings ladder just to find fresh opponents. It feels too easy for a fighter as good as Johnson. He needs a challenge. I’d argue he needs it more than he needs another victory. It’s just a question of whether or not he sees that – and whether or not he cares.

Ben Fowlkes is MMAjunkie and USA TODAY’s MMA columnist. Follow him on Twitter at @BenFowlkesMMA. Twitter Mailbag appears every Thursday on MMAjunkie.

Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

Ex-UFC champ Germaine de Randamie completes hand surgery with 'no complications'

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After months of deliberation, former UFC women’s featherweight champion Germaine de Randamie finally underwent hand surgery on Tuesday. From all indications, it was a success.

De Randamie (7-3 MMA, 4-1 UFC) was forced to withdraw from a scheduled UFC Fight Night 115 matchup with Marion Reneau, which took place this past weekend in her native Netherlands, due to the lingering problems with her right hand.

“The Iron Lady” said earlier this year that the issue has bothered her for the past several fights, but she did her best to avoid surgery. She finally went under the knife, and the ex-champ provided an update for her fans (via Instagram):

Instagram Photo

Just had my surgery. Everything went well no complications!! Thank you so much for the great care #DrFeitz #xpertclinic 🙏🏻 time to let my body heal and come back stronger, faster and more motivated than ever before. Thank you to my family, my love, friends, team and all who supported me☺️🙏🏻 I’m forever thankful for all you have done❤️ ” DIE WITH MEMORIES,NOT DREAMS”

De Randamie has not competed since UFC 208 in February, when she earned a unanimous-decision victory over Holly Holm to win the inaugural UFC women’s 145-pound belt. Officials attempted to set up a first title defense against Cris Cyborg at UFC 214 in July. However, de Randamie didn’t accept the fight, and as a result, she was stripped of the title.

A timeline for de Randamie’s return to the octagon following surgery was not revealed.

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

Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

Sean Shelby's Shoes: What's next for Alexander Volkov and UFC-Rotterdam's other winning fighters?

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UFC Fight Night 115’s main event didn’t go well for the hometown crowd.Alexander Volkov defeated Dutchman Stefan Struve in the heavyweight headliner, which took place at Ahoy Rotterdam in the Netherlands.

In a matchup of fighters looking to move up the rankings, Volkov (29-6 MMA, 3-0 UFC) managed to halt Struve (28-9 MMA, 12-7 UFC) for a third-round TKO win in the UFC Fight Pass-streamed contest to remain perfect inside the UFC octagon.

Other main-card winners included Siyar Bahadurzada (23-6-1 MMA, 3-2 UFC) and Marion Reneau (8-3-1 MMA, 4-2-1 UFC), who finished their opponents inside the distance with strikes, as well as Leon Edwards (14-3 MMA, 6-2 UFC), who picked up a win on the scorecards.

After every event, fans wonder whom the winners will be matched up with next. And with another night of UFC action in the rearview mirror, it’s time to look forward, put on a pair of Sean Shelby and Mick Maynard’s shoes, and play UFC matchmaker for UFC Fight Night 115’s winning fighters.

* * * *

Leon Edwards

Should fight: Alex Oliveira
Why they should fight: With four consecutive UFC victories in the welterweight division, Edwards’ request for a top-15 opponent should be granted following his unanimous-decision win over Bryan Barberena.

Aside from a few missteps, the Brit has been solid throughout his UFC career. His current run is not to be taken lightly, especially if he continues to improve going forward. “Rocky” wants an opponent of note, and fortunately for him, Oliveira (17-3-1 MMA, 7-2 UFC) is available.

Oliveira is riding a five-fight unbeaten streak inside the octagon, which includes back-to-back finishes of Ryan LaFlare and Tim Means. The Brazilian may be interested in someone more highly ranked at 170 pounds, but given the current landscape of the division, he might have to settle for someone slightly below him in Edwards.

Marion Reneau

Should fight: Germaine de Randamie
Why they should fight: All credit goes to Reneau for her willingness to accept and win a risky matchup with newcomer Talita Oliveira after a much more high-profile fight with ex-champ de Randamie fell through on short notice.

Reneau lost the matchup with de Randamie (7-3 MMA, 4-1 UFC) on less than two weeks’ notice, which was surely a disappointment. Moving from a former UFC champion to a promotional newcomer would be tough for most fighters to get motivated for, but Reneau still showed up and handled her business in the form of a third-round TKO win.

Despite some criticism of her own performance, Reneau should be rewarded for her handling of the entire situation and give her the big fight that was originally intended. Unless de Randamie is out for an extended period with her injured hand, the UFC should make it right with Reneau and give her a fight with “The Iron Lady.”

Siyar Bahadurzada

Should fight: Jake Ellenberger
Why they should fight: Bahadurzada hopefully put his years of injury woes behind him with a successful return to the octagon with a second-round TKO of UFC newcomer Rob Wilkinson.

Bahadurzada showed his power is still as prevalent as ever when he overwhelmed Wilkinson with strikes until the referee waved off the fight. When healthy, Bahadurzada’s hands are as difficult as any to deal with, be it at middleweight or welterweight. The issue, though, is that he can’t seem to stay healthy.

With just three fights in four-plus years, Bahadurzada’s main priority should be getting back in the cage as soon as possible to get some momentum going. It’s been far too long since he’s had a quick turnaround, and that should happen soon.

Bahadurzada could fight pretty much anyone, but with a planned return to 170 pounds for his next fight, a bout with a fellow hard-hitter like Ellenberger (31-13 MMA, 10-9 UFC) has highlight-reel potential.

Alexander Volkov

Should fight: Francis Ngannou
Why they should fight: Watch the video above to see why Volkov should fight Ngannou (11-1 MMA, 5-0 UFC) next.

For complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 115, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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Source: MMA Junkie

UFC-Rotterdam winner Marion Reneau wants top-10 fight after ex-champ de Randamie 'backed out'

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Marion Reneau was ready and willing to fight Germaine de Randamie at UFC Fight Night 115. The former UFC champ was unable to compete, however, so Reneau had to take care of business against newcomer Talita Oliveira.

Reneau (8-3-1 MMA, 4-2-1 UFC) was originally scheduled to welcome former UFC women’s featherweight champ de Randamie (7-3 MMA, 4-1 UFC) back to the bantamweight division at UFC Fight Night 115, which took place Saturday at Ahoy Rotterdam in the Netherlands. “The Iron Lady” pulled out on less than two weeks’ notice with a hand injury, though, and Reneau ended up defeating replacement opponent Oliveira (5-2 MMA, 0-1 UFC) by third-round TKO.

There’s been loads of uncertainty around de Randamie’s career since she was stripped of the 145-pound belt earlier this year. Reneau said she was advised against taking the fight, and while it ultimately didn’t happen, she hopes her willingness to fight anyone from a former champion to a debuting foe will set her up for more big opportunities going forward.

“Hopefully someone in the top 10 (is next),” Reneau told reporters at UFC Fight Night 15’s post-fight news conference. “They offered me Germaine and without hesitation I said, ‘Yes.’ Even though I was told many times, ‘Don’t take that fight, don’t take that fight.’ I’m like, ‘Why? Why am I even going to be in the UFC and turn down fights, that doesn’t make sense to me.’

“I want the hardest, I want the best because I want to be the best. I want to fight against the best. I want to move up. I absolutely said yes. Unfortunately she backed out, but I want to work my way to the top 10.”

Although it wasn’t the swift and one-sided performance she was hoping for, Reneau outworked Oliveira until she scored the latest stoppage in a three-round UFC women’s bantamweight fight, clocking in at the 4:54 mark of Round 3.

Oliveira was unheralded coming into the fight on short notice but gave a solid showing in the UFC Fight Pass-streamed contest, which is exactly what Reneau was expecting, she said.

“I absolutely expected her to be tough,” Reneau said. “I don’t think the UFC is going to bring any girls into the octagon who are not tough and are not ready. She was very hungry for this, as well as I. I knew she was going to be a little tough.”

The fight was so rough, in fact, that Reneau left the octagon wearing quite a bit of damage on her face. “The Belizean Bruiser” has some bruises of her own to tend too, but once she’s got some recovery time in, said she will be right back in the gym working on her skills in hope of being booked in a high-profile fight along the lines of de Randamie.

“As soon as these things heal I’ll be right back in,” Reneau said. “Next week I’ll be back to training. It’s not something that is going to hinder me or stop me. You’re going to get battle wounds any time you’re in there. … This is my first cut that I’ve ever experienced inside the octagon. It’s not one of those things where I’m going to back down and go, ‘I need to take six months off.’ No, I want to get right back to it.”

For complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 115, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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Filed under: News
Source: MMA Junkie

Video: Hardy, Gooden break down Stefan Struve vs. Alexander Volkov at UFC Fight Night 115

Filed under: News, UFC, Videos

Ahead of UFC Fight Night 115, UFC Fight Pass analyst Dan Hardy and broadcast partner John Gooden, along with Nick Peet, break down Saturday’s main event and other fights on the card.

UFC Fight Night 115 takes place Saturday at Ahoy Rotterdam in the Netherlands. The entire card streams live on UFC Fight Pass.

In the main event, Stefan Struve (28-8 MMA, 12-6 UFC) takes on former Bellator heavyweight champion Alexander Volkov (28-6 MMA, 2-0 UFC). In the video above, Hardy and Gooden preview this weekend’s headliner.

Additionally, they break down what was supposed to be the co-feature: a women’s bantamweight fight between former featherweight champ Germaine de Randamie (8-3 MMA, 4-1 UFC) and Marion Reneau (7-3-1 MMA, 3-2-1 UFC). Unfortunately, de Randamie pulled out of the fight this past week – after Hardy, Gooden and Peet filmed the piece – and was replaced by newcomer Talita de Oliveira (5-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC).

The trio also discusses the welterweight fight between Bryan Barberena (13-4 MMA, 4-2 UFC) and Leon Edwards (13-3 MMA, 5-2 UFC) on the main card, as well as the middleweight fight between Siyar Bahadurzada (22-6-1 MMA, 2-2 UFC) and Rob Wilkinson (11-0 MMA, 0-0 UFC). Darren Till (14-0-1 MMA, 2-0-1 UFC) also pays a visit to the show to talk about his welterweight fight with Bojan Velickovic (15-4-1 MMA, 2-1-1 UFC), which closes out the prelims.

Check out the “UFC Breakdown” video in full above.

For more on UFC Fight Night 115, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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

Talita de Oliveira in for de Randamie vs. Marion Reneau at UFC Fight Night 115

Marion Reneau has a short-notice replacement opponent to keep her bout at UFC Fight Night 115 on Saturday in The Netherlands.

Brazil’s Talita de Oliveira (5-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC) will make her promotional debut, filling in for injured former women’s featherweight champion Germaine de Randamie (8-3 MMA, 4-1 UFC) against Reneau (7-3-1 MMA, 3-2-1 UFC) at UFC Fight Night 115. A UFC official confirmed the news to MMAjunkie following an initial report form MMABrasil.com.

Featuring a heavyweight headliner between Stefan Struve and Alexander Volkov, UFC Fight Night 115 takes place Sept. 2 at Ahoy Rotterdam in the Netherlands. The entire card streams live on UFC Fight Pass.

De Oliveira made her pro debut in early 2015 in Brazil. After a decision loss in her second fight, she has rattled off four straight wins, including a trio of submissions. Most recently, she picked up a rear-naked choke win in April in Poland.

Reneau hopes returns to action for the first time since a March majority draw with Bethe Correia at UFC Fight Night 106 in Brazil. Reneau has endured mixed results since making her way to the UFC, opening her octagon run with victories over Alexis Dufresne and Jessica Andrade before falling short against Holly Holm and Ashlee Evans-Smith. This past November, she picked up a TKO win over Milana Dudieva before the draw with Correia.

Former champ de Randamie was looking to fight for the first time since being stripped of her featherweight belt after refusing to defend it against top contender Cris Cyborg, who the Dutch fighter branded “a known and proven cheater.” The UFC’s decision brought to a close a strange chapter in the promotion’s history that saw de Randamie crowned champ after a hotly contested decision win over Holly Holm at February’s UFC 208.

MAIN CARD (UFC Fight Pass, 3 p.m. ET)

  • Stefan Struve vs. Alexander Volkov
  • Talita de Oliveira vs. Marion Reneau
  • Siyar Bahadurzada vs. Rob Wilkinson
  • Bryan Barberena vs. Leon Edwards

PRELIMINARY CARD (UFC Fight Pass, 11:30 a.m. ET)

  • Darren Till vs. Bojan Velickovic
  • Felipe Silva vs. Mairbek Taisumov
  • Mads Burnell vs. Michel Prazeres
  • Desmond Green vs. Rustam Khabilov
  • Francimar Barroso vs. Aleksandar Rakic
  • Zabit Magomedsharipov vs. Mike Santiago
  • Abdul-Kerim Edilov vs. Bojan Mihajlovic

For more on UFC Fight Night 115, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

Germaine de Randamie out at UFC Fight Night 115, promotion seeking replacement

Former UFC women’s featherweight champion Germaine de Randamie is out of next week’s UFC Fight Night 115 co-headliner, and the promotion is looking for a new opponent for Marion Reneau.

MMAjunkie today confirmed with UFC officials that injury has forced de Randamie out of the contest. A timetable for her return was not immediately established.

Featuring a heavyweight headliner between Stefan Struve and Alexander Volkov, UFC Fight Night 115 takes place Sept. 2 at Ahoy Rotterdam in the Netherlands. The entire card streams live on UFC Fight Pass.

More on this in just a moment.

Filed under: News
Source: MMA Junkie

Trading Shots: The UFC is taking the rest of August off, but is that a bad thing?

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Filed under: Featured, News, UFC

Saturday night’s UFC Fight Night 114 was the first and last event for the company in the month of August. As the UFC clears the way for a big-money boxing match, is it a good thing to go so long between events at this point in the year? Retired UFC and WEC fighter Danny Downes joins MMAjunkie columnist Ben Fowlkes to discuss.

Downes: Ben, I hope you savored every bit of last night’s fight card from Mexico City, because there isn’t another UFC event planned until a Fight Pass-exclusive card on Sept. 2.

There have been similar lulls in the schedule throughout the years, but this one seems to rest on the fact that the UFC is putting all its might behind that whole Floyd Mayweathervs. Conor McGregor thing.

Why? Are you telling me that people have no interest in watching cage fights two weeks before the biggest freak show fight of this generation? Is every venue in Macau booked up this time of year? Does this mean we can now definitively say that McGregor is bigger than the UFC itself?

Fowlkes: I might wait to see what the sales figures look like for the Mayweather fight before I make too many definitive statements, but odds are that this boxing match (that the UFC is not officially involved in) will be the biggest payday for the company in 2017, solely because it gets to take a cut of McGregor’s money.

When you look at it that way, it’s understandable that the UFC opted to back off in the weeks surrounding the fight. Consider what it could possibly offer us during this time. We just wrapped up UFC 214, which was loaded with three title fights and a whole bunch of fun scraps. That was the top tier of UFC programming, and indications are that it did well on pay-per-view.

Now look at UFC Fight Night 114. It didn’t have much in the way of stars, but it was still surprisingly fun. Of course, it was also on FS1, which means you’re going to have to sit through about six hours of mostly filler just to get to the good stuff, so chances are that a lot of people skipped it and missed all that action, which was better than it looked on paper.

That wasn’t quite the lowest tier of UFC programming, but it’s close. The next UFC event on the calendar, the one headlined by Stefan Struve vs. Alexander Volkov on Fight Pass – that’s the absolute lowest tier. At least, it is if you don’t count Dana White’s Contender Series, which is not officially a UFC product.

Seems to me that this is indicative of a shift in strategy. The UFC is churning out more content, but it is mostly concentrated on the low end of the spectrum. I suspect that’s because it’s cheaper to produce (those DWCS fights take place in a gym, for crying out loud, and the fighters all get about half the usual UFC minimum wage), but still captures a portion of the hardcore MMA fan audience that the UFC has come to take for granted.

So what are you saying here? We want more of that type of programming? And why, just so the UFC can pretend that it’s not content to sit back and wait for Red Panty Night? Which, come on – we both know it totally is.

Downes: You’re calling a Fight Pass-only fight card in Rotterdam the “lowest tier”? But it has former women’s featherweight champion Germaine de Randamie facing off against the “Belizean Bruiser” Marion Reneau! Don’t act like you’re not intrigued to see how “The Iron Lady” competes with a hand that badly needs surgery.

I know MMA hipsters like you confuse cynicism and rudimentary knowledge of “the business” for intelligence, so I’m going to try to set you straight. First off, just because an event may not have the cache of UFC 214, it doesn’t mean that it’s not valuable in a business sense or that MMA fans don’t want to watch it.

You know what else doesn’t get the people going? Flyweight title fights with Demetrious Johnson. Yet, I’m sure once UFC 215 rolls around you’ll talk about how “real” fans appreciate his performances and you’ll probably blame Dana White for not promoting the fight properly.

Secondly, this August recess is much more than a “shift in strategy,” as you put it. Doing more Fight Pass shows would be a shift in strategy. Eliminating or revising “The Ultimate Fighter” would be a shift in strategy.

Shutting down your whole promotion to focus on one fighter, competing in a totally different sport, for one night only isn’t a shift. It’s a monumental deviation. Sure, there will be a big payoff, but it’s what we in “the business” call penny wise and pound foolish. It’s like that time you saved $50 by not buying a bike helmet.

I recall you criticizing the UFC and White for telling fans that they don’t have to watch every fight. The thrust of your argument was that if you tell fans they can ignore some events, they’ll just start ignoring all the fights. The same principle applies here. If the UFC can leave the public eye for six weeks and then ask people to drop 60 bucks on a flyweight title fight, doesn’t that teach people that they don’t need the UFC at all?

Like it or not, the UFC schedule has changed. There have been some negative repercussions to the glut of programming, but that’s the new normal. Consumers and fans have adjusted to the schedule. When you cut it off completely, they’ll find something else to watch. Is feast or famine really the best way to manage your resources?

Fowlkes: You know how long it is between Saturday night’s UFC event and the next one? Slightly less than a month. Only in this age of oversaturation could you look at that and act like the UFC is starving us of the vital combat sports nutrients we need in order to keep our fandom alive.

It seems like you want the UFC to pretend that this Mayweather-McGregor thing is not the only fight people care about in the month of August, even though it clearly is. But no, what we really need is Fight Night: Tupelo to round out the schedule. As if it’s better to put on events that people don’t watch than to do nothing and let the money roll in anyway.

Personally, I don’t think it’s a terrible idea to take a few weeks off and let your fans miss you. That’s especially true if you don’t have anything to offer that they’d be really excited by anyway. Just admit the truth, which is that this boxing match will dominate the headlines, then take your cut and come back when it’s over.

By then, maybe we’ll long for the sober athletic legitimacy of Struve vs. Volkov. In the meantime, sure, people will find other stuff to watch. But that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t do the same thing if you were offering up bottom-shelf programming just to fill the calendar.

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.

For complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 114, check out the UFC Events section of the site. And for more on “The Money Fight: Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor,” check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

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Source: MMA Junkie

Tonya Evinger finally got the UFC call, and all she had to do was the thing no one else wanted to

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Filed under: News, UFC

After a quick workout for the fans on Thursday, Tonya Evinger strolled over to talk to reporters and quickly found herself confronted with questions about whether she ever felt overlooked by the UFC during her two-year reign as Invicta FC bantamweight champion?

“Is that a joke?” Evinger shot back. “My whole career – everybody I beat gets signed to the UFC.”

Hopefully she did not intend that as a statement of fact. Obviously, not everybody she’s beaten has gone on to a UFC contract. A few have, and usually not immediately after losing to Evinger (19-5 MMA, 0-0 UFC), but still, this must be how it feels from Evinger’s perspective.

She became a champion in Invicta FC. She built up a fan following. Then she watched as other, less accomplished fighters got UFC deals and left her behind.

And yet now here she is, one day away from a UFC 214 bout that will give her a shot at the UFC women’s featherweight title in her promotional debut. And all she had to do to finally break in was agree to fight Cristiane Justino (17-1 MMA, 2-0 UFC), the woman who has terrorized the weight class above hers for most of the last decade.

In other words, in order to get the job she’s rightfully earned, she had to be willing to do the job that so few others wanted, and even then she only got offered the gig as the replacement for someone else.

And you can see why others might not want it, right? “Cyborg” is scary enough to other featherweights. The first and so far only champion of the division, Germaine de Randamie, relinquished the belt specifically to avoid fighting her. If you care at all about your face, to say nothing of your professional record, there’s always a reason to say no to this fight.

According to Evinger, she agreed “as soon as they told me how much they were paying me.” And now the UFC has somehow backed into a strangely compelling matchup that might fairly be called a “superfight.” Both were champions in different divisions for Invicta FC. Both held onto their titles until the UFC came calling. Now one has agreed to cross divisional lines in order to get the opportunity that she couldn’t seem to get any other way.

If you believe the oddsmakers, she’ll likely pay in blood for that opportunity. Justino is by far the biggest favorite on the card, going off at roughly 13-1 at the time of this writing. That, too, is understandable. She’s a powerhouse striker going up against a grappler who’s accustomed to bullying and grinding her way to victory. Putting Justino on her back is tough for anyone. Keeping her there when she’s got the size advantage could be borderline impossible.

That Evinger is willing to try, when she could just as easily stay home and keep holding it down as an Invicta FC champ, shouldn’t surprise anyone who knows her. Stubbornness is one of her defining features, according to friends and family. Somewhere inside her still lives the little girl who used to beat up her brothers and then go riding around on her bike, looking for a tackle football game to join.

When you look at it that way, a longshot crack at a UFC title against a colossus from another division might be the perfect point of entry for someone like Evinger. Her entire career has been an exercise in doing things her own way, from her climb up the ranks to her self-promotion via social media.

Now that her moment has finally arrived, why shouldn’t it be a terrifying challenge that everyone else thinks is a very bad idea? Any other path to the UFC would be too conventional for Evinger. And she’s never been known for making things easy on herself.

For more on UFC 214, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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Source: MMA Junkie