Category Archives: Holly Holm

Holly Holm? Cat Zingano? Another challenger? UFC champ Cris Cyborg wonders who's next

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RIO DE JANEIRO – After a tumultuous start, longtime pound-for-pound force Cris Cyborg finally has a UFC title belt – most importantly, one in her own weight division.

However, she had barely cooled off from her title-winning third-round TKO over Tonya Evinger at UFC 214 before the question was asked once more: What’s next for the world’s most dominant female 145-pound fighter? Or, more specifically, who could be next in a division that’s been surrounded by uncertainty from the start?

Cyborg can’t answer that question yet. What she can answer, though, is what she wants to happen. And, as she’s made clear before, that’s a fight with former 135-pound titleholder – and one of the two original 145-pound title challengers – Holly Holm.

The main reason, Cyborg explains, is pretty simple.

“I think it would be a great fight for the fans,” Justino said during a media day in Rio de Janeiro on Tuesday. “It’d be an exciting fight. Because Holly Holm is a great striker, and I like to strike. And then for sure somebody’s going to be KO’d.”

Stylistically, she has a point.

While Cyborg’s powerful muay Thai has become her trademark throughout her overwhelmingly victorious career, Holm (11-3 MMA, 4-3 UFC), is a well accomplished boxer in the past. Not only that, Holm has used a smart kickboxing game to pick up a pair of UFC knockouts – including the major title-winning victory over Ronda Rousey.

But when it comes to whether Holm actually deserves a title shot, things get more complicated. After all, while the ex-135-champ is coming off a win, a TKO over Bethe Correia at UFC Fight Night 111, she was on a three-fight losing skid before that. And that includes a failed 145-pound title bid.

Cyborg (18-1 MMA, 3-0 UFC) can kind of see why a title fight makes sense.

“When she fought the first time, she already didn’t deserve to fight for the belt,” Cyborg said. “When she fought (Germaine) de Randamie, I don’t think both deserved to fight for the belt. De Randamie hadn’t fought at 145 for a long time. I think last time was at Strikeforce, a long time ago.

“And then Holly, she came off (two) losses in a row to fight for the belt. But I talk about her because I think she’s the biggest girl at 135. And then she fought already at 145. And maybe this fight could happen.”

At the end of the day, in a weight class that at this point holds basically only herself, it’s not like Justino has a lot of options. The women’s featherweight division’s inaugural champion, de Randamie, was even stripped of her title exactly because she refused to face Cyborg after beating Holm at UFC 208.

Invicta FC’s most recent 145-pound champ, Megan Anderson, had to pull out of a scheduled bout with Cyborg due to personal issues that haven’t been disclosed. Evinger herself is a 135-pound fighter, who left Invicta FC’s bantamweight belt behind to take the UFC 214 call on short notice.

While Cyborg is diplomatic, she admits she’s not exactly excited about the lack of options in her division.

“It bothers me,” Cyborg said in her native Portuguese. “I wish the UFC would sign girls in my division. I didn’t want to fight 135-ers. I talk about Holly because she’s one of the bigger ones in the division, and she’s fought at 145 against de Randamie. And I think she could take the fight.

“But I’d like to fight girls in my division. I believe there are many girls. They’re signed under other promotions, but I believe that, if there were more opportunities in the division, I’d think for sure they’d want to migrate. The UFC is a great (promotion) and for sure there’ll be more opportunities.”

While that doesn’t happen, Cyborg says she’s already going into camp to prepare for her next challenge. Other than Holm, she sees possibilities in Anderson (9-2 MMA, 0-0 UFC), who she believes rankings-wise makes sense – and Cat Zingano (9-2 MMA, 2-2 UFC), who the Brazilian says won’t be medically cleared to fight until 2018.

“Maybe it can be Megan Anderson, but Megan has to fix her problems for the fight to happen,” Cyborg said. “Can be her, too. I’m going to Thailand to focus on training (for a) southpaw and get started on the camp. People say maybe Cat Zingano – Cat Zingano is a southpaw, too.

“So, we started the plan already for both girls. If it changes, we change the game. But we already started camp for that fight.”

Zingano, of course, also originally belongs to the 135-pound division – where she’s had one failed title bid against Rousey. And, as Cyborg has pointed out, she hasn’t won a UFC fight since 2014. But, with the two already at odds on social media, perhaps the very interest she’s shown in meeting Cyborg could end up paying off.

When it comes to her main target, however, Cyborg says the ball is pretty much in Holm’s court. And she believes the former champion may very well be waiting for the 135-pound title rematch between champ Amanda Nunes and Valentina Shevchenko – set for Sept. 9 at UFC 215 – to unfold before making her next move.

“I think that maybe makes (our) fight harder to happen, because she’s close to the belt,” Justino said. “Maybe if she wins and fights for the belt, she’s interested in fighting me. I think it will be a cool fight for the fans, but it’s up to her whether she wants to make it happen.”

If the fight does end up coming to fruition, Justino doesn’t seem particularly intimidated by what her possible foe might have to offer.

“I think Holly doesn’t have knockout power,” Justino said. “All her fights, she knocks them out with kicks – not punches. I don’t think she’s very aggressive. I don’t think she’s going to be really dangerous. I think it will be an exciting fight, because I like to fight. And, of course, I’m going to find her. She’s going to run in the ring, but I’m going to find her.”

To hear more from Cyborg on her future, check out the video above.

And for more on the UFC’s upcoming schedule, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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Coach: 'No doubt' that Holly Holm can pick apart and beat UFC champ 'Cyborg'

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Newly crowned UFC women’s featherweight champion Cristiane Justino has been an unbeatable MMA force over the past 12 years, but Holly Holm’s coach think she’s “definitely beatable.”

According to veteran coach Mike Winkeljohn, Holm, a former women’s bantamweight champion, can “pick apart” the famed “Cyborg” – and “there’s no doubt about that.”

As Winkeljohn told Submission Radio, Justino vs. Holm is a real possibility – and he likes the former pro boxing titleholder’s chances against “Cyborg”:

This past month at UFC 214, Justino (18-1 MMA, 3-0 UFC) finally claimed a UFC belt with a third-round TKO win over Tonya Evinger (19-6 MMA, 0-1 UFC). It was a dominant performance, but Winkeljohn wasn’t totally convinced.

“There’s no doubt there’s some holes in there and she’s definitely beatable,” he said of Justino.

After the title win, UFC President Dana White mentioned the possibility of Justino vs. Holm (11-3 MMA, 4-3 UFC), who recently halted a three-fight skid (which included title losses to bantamweight and featherweight) with a head-kick knockout of bantamweight Bethe Correia.

“It seems like she’s interested,” White said of Justino. “I like Holly vs. ‘Cyborg.’ I think it’s a good fight.”

After the victory – the 18th straight in her career – Justino said she’s open to all challengers, including Holm (watch the video above).

As for Winkeljohn, he said Holm could be game and that she “will never turn down a fight.” However, she’ll need time to put back on a suitable amount of weight to fight at 145 pounds, and the money has to be right. And if that’s all worked out? As he told Submission Radio:

“I think Holly can pick her apart. There’s no doubt about that. What people don’t understand is how strong Holly is too in the clinch, on her feet and moving and stuff. Cris is definitely going to try to do most of her damage by pushing her back against the cage. You know, good luck keeping Holly there and backing her up, coming in that hard.

“But yeah, Cris is really strong, but I think Holly wears her down and is able to stop her. You look at Holly’s knockout percentage, I think her and Amanda Nunes are the biggest out there. She stops all of her fights, everybody else other than ‘Cyborg.’ So Holly has the power to stop ‘Cyborg’ just like ‘Cyborg’ has the power. The difference is Holly’s got speed and her footwork.”

Who do you like in the potential matchup? Cast your vote below.

And for more on the UFC’s upcoming schedule, 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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Featherweight champ 'Cyborg' Justino calls for UFC 219 fight with ex-135 champ Holly Holm

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Cristiane Justino never has been shy about using her social media to let people know what – or who – is on her mind. Fresh off her title-winning UFC 214 display, that is currently Holly Holm.

Justino (18-1 MMA, 3-0 UFC), who most recently capped off yet another demolition with a third-round TKO over former Invicta FC bantamweight titleholder Tonya Evinger to earn the UFC’s vacant 145-pound belt, has always been clear about her interest in meeting Holm (11-3 MMA, 4-3 UFC). Tuesday, however, she took to Twitter and Instagram to add a time and place to her challenge.

Calling for an 145-pound title affair at UFC 219, which is expected to take place at Las Vegas’ T-Mobile Arena on Dec. 30, the champ also cited a few failed attempts of negotiating a meeting with the UFC’s former 135-pound titleholder.

“I want my next fight to be the biggest fight I can make for the fans who have supported me my entire career,” Justino said in one of two Instagram posts featuring the former champion. “I want to face Holly Holm in Vegas. Let the UFC know this is a PPV you will buy.”

Instagram Photo

“Before Holly signed with the UFC her management teased of an independent PPV one day between #TeamCyborg and #TeamHolm. When we both signed to the @UFC I tried to negotiate a fight as the Co-Main against Holly Holm the night Ronda fought Cat Zingano in LA. Holly fought Raquel Pennington instead, while I fought for @invictafc the night before. At #ufc198 I requested Holly, and then again when I was the main event on @fs1 for #ufcfn95. Holly won easily in Singapore, and Megan Anderson was forced to withdrawal my team again requested Holm for #ufc214. #CyborgNation has been very loud online since #ufc214 and wants #CyborgVHolm I want my next fight to be the biggest fight I can make for the fans who have supported me my entire career. #ufc219 I want to face Holly Holm in Vegas. Let the @UFCknow this is a PPV you will buy!”

While Holm has yet to respond publicly, UFC President Dana White did say right after Justino’s dominant UFC 214 win that both he and, apparently, the ex-champ herself were interested in the matchup.

Justino is so determined to make the encounter happen that she has changed her Twitter user name, which now reads “#UFC219 CyborgVHolm.” This is not the first time the Brazilian featherweight has used her social media to leverage bouts – and if it comes to fruition, it wouldn’t be the first successful one either.

After a heavy push, Justino got an encounter with the successor to her Invicta FC featherweight throne: Megan Anderson. The Aussie, however, had to pull out of the bout – which Evinger ultimately took on. Justino and Evinger fought for the belt that the division’s inaugural champ, Germaine de Randamie, was stripped of after refusing to fight logical contender “Cyborg.”

Justino has now fought three times under the UFC banner, although only the most recent one took place in her original 145-pound division. For her first two outings, she made a catchweight limit of 140 pounds before easily beating Leslie Smith and Lina Lansberg.

The fight would be Holm’s second stab at the 145-pound title, after dropping a controversial decision to De Randamie at UFC 208. Holm, who shocked the world by beating then-dominant champ Ronda Rousey to earn the UFC’s women’s bantamweight belt, is coming off a knockout over former title challenger Bethe Correia. The win snapped a three-fight skid.

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

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Sean Shelby's Shoes: What's next for Jon Jones and UFC 214's other winning fighters?

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The most significant UFC pay-per-view event of 2017 took place Saturday with UFC 214 at Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif.

In the main event, Jon Jones (23-1 MMA, 17-1 UFC) reclaimed the light-heavyweight championship with a third-round knockout of rival Daniel Cormier (19-2 MMA, 8-2 UFC), completing one of the most tumultuous comeback stories in UFC history.

Additionally, Tyron Woodley (18-3-1 MMA, 8-2-1 UFC) defended the welterweight belt while Cristiane Justino (18-1 MMA, 3-0 UFC) won the vacant women’s featherweight title.

Other winners included ex-UFC champ Robbie Lawler (28-11 MMA, 13-5 UFC) and rising 205-pound contender Volkan Oezdemir (15-1 MMA, 3-0 UFC).

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 214’s winning fighters.

* * * *

Volkan Oezdemir

Mauricio Rua

Should fight: Winner of Mauricio Rua vs. Ovince Saint Preux at UFC Fight Night 117
Why they should fight: Oezdemir’s arrival as a light-heavyweight contender reached another high when he put away Jimi Manuwa in just 42 seconds, marking his third consecutive win since his UFC debut less than five months ago.

Oezdemir still had questions around him after winning his first two UFC appearances in unexpected fashion, but there’s no doubting his legitimacy after he stopped Manuwa quicker than the likes of former 205-pound title challengers Alexander Gustafsson and Anthony Johnson.

In many cases, Oezdemir’s body of work would be enough for a title shot. Unfortunately, he’s in a division ruled by Jones, who’s seeking big-fight opportunities that Oezdemir simply doesn’t currently provide. That means he’s going to have to take another fight to further strengthen his case and get the champ’s attention.

Fighting the winner of September’s UFC Fight Night 117 main event between “Shogun” Rua (25-10 MMA, 9-8 UFC) and Saint Preux (20-10 MMA, 8-5 UFC) could be his avenue. Oezdemir beat “OSP” by split decision in his UFC debut earlier this year, but it was a short-notice fight. If Saint Preux wins, it may not make the most sense to rematch, but the thin nature of the 205-pound division may not give him any other option.

The best case scenario for Oezdemir is a Rua victory. The former UFC champ would be on a four-fight UFC winning streak if he beats Saint Preux, and while the Brazilian isn’t the same fighter he was in his glory days, he would still be a signature win for Oezdemir.

Robbie Lawler

Tyron Woodley

Should fight: Woodley
Why they should fight: Although he’s just one fight removed from losing the UFC welterweight title to Woodley at UFC 201 in July 2016, Lawler appears he could slide back into another title fight after his unanimous-decision win over Donald Cerrone.

Lawler vs. Cerrone was one of the most anticipated fights of the year, and for the most part, it lived up to the hype. “Ruthless” proved he’s still one of the best at 170 pounds when he went toe-to-toe with Cerrone and came out on top.

Although one win is arguably not enough to get another title shot, Lawler benefits from the fact the weight class is currently thin on worthy challengers. Most of the top-ranked fighters are coming off of losses, and the nature of Woodley’s fights since winning the belt from Lawler opens the door for a rematch.

If the first fight is any indication, Woodley is an awful style matchup for Lawler. But at the very least, it seems likely he would bring an entertaining fight out of the champ. Woodley has severely lacked that in his past two title defenses, and that’s to Lawler’s benefit in his quest to regain the gold.

Jon Jones, Tyron Woodley, Cristiane Justino

Should fight: Watch the video above to see why Jones should fight Alexander Gustafsson (18-4 MMA, 10-4 UFC), Woodley should fight Lawler, and “Cyborg” should fight Holly Holm (11-3 MMA, 4-3 UFC) after their UFC 214 title-fight victories.

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

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Dana White likes new champ 'Cyborg' Justino vs. Holly Holm – who 'seems like she's interested'

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ANAHEIM, Calif. – A megafight between Cristiane Justino and Holly Holm could be on the horizon after “Cyborg” claimed the UFC women’s featherweight championship Saturday at UFC 214.

Justino’s (18-1 MMA, 3-0 UFC) long and tumultuous journey to UFC gold came to an end in the pay-per-view bout at Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif., when she steamrolled Tonya Evinger (19-6 MMA, 0-1 UFC) for a third-round TKO to win the 145-pound belt.

Holly Holm

The biggest problem throughout Justino’s career has been finding opponents willing to fight her. Former women’s bantamweight titleholder Holm (11-3 MMA, 4-3 UFC) has said she would be willing to fight Justino under the right circumstances. According to UFC President Dana White, now could be the time.

“I was just talking to Holly Holm back there,” White said at the UFC 214 post-fight news conference. “(I said,) ‘What do you think?’ It seems like she’s interested. I like Holly vs. Cyborg. I think it’s a good fight.”

Justino on Saturday won the vacant title, which was stripped from Germaine de Randamie earlier this year. De Randamie won the belt with a unanimous decision win over Holm at UFC 208 in February, but her time as champion was nothing but problematic. With “Cyborg,” arguably the top pound-for-pound female fighter in MMA history, now atop the throne, the UFC has a champion willing to take on all comers.

White said he was impressed with what Justino had to offer at UFC 214, even if it was a more well-composed and technical performance than what she’s presented in the past.

“I think Cyborg looked good,” White said. “She was very composed. She didn’t go crazy. She took her time, picked her shots, and I think she looked good.”

For complete coverage of UFC 214, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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'Cyborg' Justino on standing her ground, filling Ronda Rousey void, Evinger, Magana and Holm

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Cristiane Justino is finally about to get her stab at the belt of a UFC division that she was basically responsible for creating.

But the road to get here was anything but smooth.

First, many wondered if the former Invicta FC featherweight champ would ever make it into the UFC octagon at all. That happened, but it took compromise – she’d have to make a tough 140-pound catchweight limit.  Twice. All the while, Justino made her weight struggles known. She spoke up about the UFC’s failure in promoting her. And she pushed for the creation of her own division.

“Cyborg” once again got her wish, but even that took a weird turn. When she was unable to make the turnaround that the promotion had in mind for its initial title fight, she was left out of it. All the while, UFC President Dana White made his difficulties in dealing with the Brazilian fighter clear. And she always fired back.

On July 29, at UFC 214, Justino (17-1 MMA, 2-0 UFC) finally gets her UFC title shot when she meets Invicta FC bantamweight champ Tonya Evinger (19-5 MMA, 0-0 UFC) for the vacant 145-pound belt. White has already admitted to a lot of wrongdoing when it comes to the long-reigning featherweight queen. And, at least for now, the two seem to have come to somewhat of a truce.

Through it all, was the vocal “Cyborg” ever afraid her willingness to speak up would hinder her career?

It doesn’t seem like it.

“I can’t be just another one in the UFC,” Justino said on Tuesday. “If I say amen to everything people say, I’ll be just another one. And I never wanted to be just another one. I want to make a difference. I want to improve this sport. I want to be remembered by the other athletes not only as the world champion, but as someone who made a difference.

“I try to fight for improvements for fighters, the same way I fought for women to have more divisions. I’ll keep fighting whenever I think something’s wrong, even if it might hurt me. I’m in there to make a difference. I’m not there just for status. Giving things to me just to keep me quiet? No, I believe that doesn’t corrupt me.

“I believe in making the sport better. I’m an athlete, and I know that I won’t fight forever. One day I won’t fight anymore, and what happens after that? I have to make things better for the athletes who come after me.”

UFC 214, which features three title fights, takes place at Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif. The main card airs on pay-per-view following prelims on FXX and UFC Fight Pass.

Ahead of the bout, Justino spoke to Brazilian reporters about numerous topics. One part of the chat, in which she addresses the rocky division, original UFC 214 opponent Megan Anderson and ex-champ Germaine De Randamie, can be checked out here.

For additional thoughts on filling the void left by former champion Ronda Rousey (12-2 MMA, 6-2 UFC), the matchup with Evinger and a possible scrap with ex-champ Holly Holm (11-3 MMA, 4-3 UFC), as well as a (very) brief update on the situation with Angela Magana (11-8 MMA, 0-2 UFC), check out the translation below.

* * * *

With Ronda Rousey out of the picture, do you think a title win at UFC 214 would solidify your as the face of women’s MMA?

Justino: I believe women’s MMA can’t be about a single face. There are many athletes in the UFC. What happened was, they made Ronda the face of MMA, and when she lost, which she did twice, she didn’t want to come back. It’s about all the women who are in there, not just a face. When you make it about one face and the person leaves, you miss that. When I carry my belt, I’ll be representing all women. The same way women in the UFC are representing all women in MMA. I think it’s bad when you make MMA about one face. MMA is about all women.

Any updates on the legal situation after you “attacked” Angela Magana at the 2017 UFC athlete summit?

Justino: She attacked me, as well. There are many types of attacks. My lawyer is handling it. I have nothing to say. When I have more information, I’ll share with you. But my lawyer is handling it.

Thoughts on Evinger saying she’s your toughest challenge yet?

Justino: I think she’s been showing a lot of courage for taking this fight on short notice. She’s a great opponent. She has many fights. She’s experienced. I believe she’ll be more work than Megan Anderson (because she’s had) more time in the cage. Let’s see. Things are different in the octagon. Everyone has a plan going in there, but after the first punch that changes.

Considering Evinger is coming in from a lighter division, do you agree that you’re the favorite coming into the fight?

Justino: I believe Tonya taking this fight saved us. It was last minute, a month before. It was very irresponsible of Megan Anderson to accept the fight and not have the documents in order to fight. Thankfully, Tonya Evinger accepted it. I believe you have to respect your opponent, and a fight is a fight. You can’t judge it before it happens. You have to be ready for whatever may happen. Whenever someone goes in the octagon with me, I never see it as an easy fight. I see that I need to be prepared for five rounds. The win or the loss will be God’s will. I just need to give it my best in there.

Who might be next after Evinger?

Justino: Since Holly Holm fought for the 145-pound belt, I believe it’d be a good fight. The fans would like it. She’s a striker. She likes standup. I like standup. Why not? It could be my next fight. I know she’s up there for the 135-pound belt. Maybe if she fights for it, or wins the belt – though I believe it stays with Amanda (Nunes, current UFC bantamweight champ). If that opportunity comes up, it’s a fight that I think all fans would like to watch. Who knows?

Do you think there is such a thing as fighters being scared of certain fights or opponents?

Justino: I believe some athletes are scared. But they have to work on that. Athletes can’t be scared. Scared of what? Losing? Anyone can lose. Some days you win, and some days you lose. We’re in a sport in which it’s impossible for both fighters to come out victorious. You need to give it your best, train and leave it in God’s hands. It’s insecurity. But losing is not the end of the world. It happens to everyone, naturally. But you have to be prepared to give it your best. If the other person is better that day, they’re going to win. If you’re a fighter, you can’t lose – you can lose a battle, and not the war. You need to keep going. That’s what the fans like: overcoming. Getting back out there and winning again. That’s what makes athletes grow, and that’s what makes the fans follow you – overcoming adversity.

Your contract with the update has been reported to expire in October. Do you have any plans when it comes to that? Do you feel that, with that deadline approaching, there’s more pressure on your next fight?

Justino: I’m thinking about this fight now. If I’m happy, I’ll keep working with them. There’s no reason why I wouldn’t. (But) as far as my opponent goes, I don’t think there’s pressure. I need to be ready to fight at my best. And I always leave it in God’s hands. If His plan is for me to win the belt and the fight, I’ll win. If that’s not His plan, it’s OK. I’m prepared. I don’t see it as added pressure on me. I see myself as the champ. I’ll defend my belt. But there’s no pressure. I have to train, to be ready, give it my best inside the octagon and leave the win in God’s hands.

You’re already looking slimmer on social media this time. How’s the weight coming along?

Justino: I think these three years I’ve been cutting to make the (140-pound) catchweight helped a little in staying lighter. It made it easier for my (145-pound) division. It’s not easy, but I believe I’ve been getting better with my diet every day. I’ve learned a lot in these three years of dieting. Now it’s a lot more professional. I’m very happy with the results. I’m working and training well, training happy. My last weight cuts, of course, were a good opportunity for me to showcase my work. But I wasn’t going into training happy. The people in my camp are a lot happier that I’m in my division now. I’m happy in training, I’m eating a little more. And I’m enjoying it more. I love my job, so going to the gym (while I’m) happy is a different vibe.

Despite the weight difficulties, would you ever consider trying for a two-division championship?

Justino: Only if they open my division at 155 pounds (laughs).

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

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Source: MMA Junkie

Sean Shelby's Shoes: What's next for Holly Holm and UFC Fight Night 111's other winning fighters?

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After a somewhat slow-paced main card, Holly Holm closed Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 111 event in spectacular fashion when she knocked out Bethe Correia in the UFC Fight Pass-streamed headliner at Singapore Indoor Stadium in Singapore.

Holm (11-3 MMA, 4-3 UFC) put Correia (10-3-1 MMA, 4-3-1 UFC) out in the third round with a perfectly placed head kick, putting an end to a career-worst three-fight skid in the women’s bantamweight main event.

“The Preacher’s Daughter” was the lone athlete on the four-fight main card to stop her opponent inside the distance. Marcin Tybura (16-2 MMA, 3-1 UFC), Colby Covington (12-1 MMA, 7-1 UFC) and Rafael dos Anjos (26-9 MMA, 15-7 UFC) all needed the judges, but won in clear-cut fashion.

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 111’s winning fighters.

* * * *

Rafael dos Anjos

Gunnar Nelson

Should fight: Winner of Gunnar Nelson vs. Santiago Ponzinibbio at UFC Fight Night 113
Why they should fight: Former UFC lightweight champion dos Anjos made a significant career decision by jumping up a division. He got no easy introduction to welterweight in Tarec Saffiedine, but the Brazilian showed he belongs with a unanimous decision win over the former Strikeforce champ.

Dos Anjos said the weight cut to 155 pounds became too great a physical toll, and as a result he moved up. He looked much healthier and filled with energy, and as someone who held gold in arguably the toughest weight class in the sport, it sets up great possibilities for his future at 170 pounds.

Saffiedine hasn’t necessarily blown the doors off during his UFC career, but he’s no pushover, and dos Anjos got past him. He said he’s prepared to prove his worth in the new weight class, and in order to climb the ranks he’ll need to get additional wins over more middling contenders like Saffiedine.

The winner of Nelson (16-2-1 MMA, 7-2 UFC) and Ponzinibbio (24-3 MMA, 6-2 UFC), who headline UFC Fight Night 113 in July, will be on a multi-fight winning streak and in a good position in the weight class. They may argue at wanting someone higher ranked, but dos Anjos’ background as a former UFC champion makes him a more valuable win than other name opponents.

Colby Covington

Neil Magny

Should fight: Neil Magny
Why they should fight: Covington did everything in his power to campaign for a big fight in the UFC welterweight division. He finally got one in the form of longtime contender Dong Hyun Kim, and made the most of it.

“Chaos” picked up his seventh victory in eight UFC appearances when he beat Kim by lopsided unanimous decision. The 29-year-old had beaten some solid opponents in the octagon coming into the fight, but the win over Kim was on a vastly different level and legitimizes him as a contender.

Covington called out almost every big name imaginable at 170 pounds before the fight with “Stun Gun” came to fruition. He called out champ Tyron Woodley at the post-fight news conference, which shows his confidence level. He’s not going to get a title shot next, but Covington should certainly get another stiff test, and Magny (19-5 MMA, 12-4 UFC) is no pushover.

Magny is coming off a win over former UFC welterweight champ Johny Hendricks at UFC 207 in December, but has been on the sidelines since due to injury. He’s apparently gearing up for a return before the end of the year, and as someone who has never been shy to a challenge, putting his skill set up against a rising contender like Covington would be an important fight for the weight class.

Marcin Tybura

Travis Browne

Should fight: Winner of Travis Browne vs. Aleksei Oleinik at UFC 213
Why they should fight: Just four fights into his UFC career, Tybura already picked up a signature win when he took out former heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski by unanimous decision.

Although Tybura came into the fight as the betting favorite against the slumping Arlovski, a win over “The Pitbull,” who is one of the most successful competitors in heavyweight history, is still a meaningful accomplishment.

The Polish fighter has recorded three consecutive victories since dropping his UFC debut in April 2016, and beating Arlovski puts him on an enhanced trajectory up the divisional rankings. He might not get an opponent with as big a name next time out, but he should get a fight of value.

The winner of July’s UFC 213 bout between Browne (18-6-1 MMA, 9-6-1 UFC) and Oleinik (51-10-1 MMA, 3-1 UFC), especially if it’s Browne, would be a fight that would test Tybura in a different way than Arlovski and also give him another notable name for his resume as he attempts to push his run of victories to four.

Holly Holm

Should fight: Winner of Cristiane Justino vs. Megan Anderson
Why they should fight: Watch the video above to see why Holm should fight the winner of the rumored “Cyborg” Justino (17-1 MMA, 2-0 UFC) vs. Anderson (9-2 MMA, 0-0 UFC) fight at UFC 214 next.

For complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 111, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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

With the right encouragement, Holly Holm found the KO artist within. Will it last this time?

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It was shaping up to be one of those main events where five rounds sounds more like a threat than a promise.

A lot of movement and meaningful stares. Some vicious pummeling of the empty air between Holly Holm and Bethe Correia. A warning from referee Marc Goddard, who told the women as politely as he could that the crowd hadn’t assembled in Singapore Indoor Stadium to watch them strategize just out of one another’s reach.

Correia (10-3-1 MMA, 4-3-1 UFC) must have been getting restless too. Early in the third round, she flashed Holm (11-3 MMA, 4-3 UFC) the international hand gesture for “Bring it.” A few seconds later Holm brought it directly upside her head.

A shin to the face sat Correia down. She raised a hand as if to say, “Could you give me a second here?” Holm replied with a left hand that ended the discussion. Just like that, the overnight journey of UFC Fight Night 111 was at an end.

What a relief this victory must have been for Holm. Remember when she was the second coming? Remember when she meme-ified Ronda Rousey and had the world by the throat? That ended up being a shockingly short-lived triumph.

First Miesha Tate took her UFC women’s bantamweight title with a fifth-round burglary. Then she dropped a pair of decisions in fights she seemed entirely capable of winning. The end result was this, a UFC Fight Pass main event on the other side of the world against an opponent known for having more aggression than skill.

This was exactly the kind of fight Holm was supposed to win, which made it the kind she had to win. Holm’s status as the very first Rousey-killer could maybe survive a couple close decision losses. But she couldn’t not beat Correia. Not if she wanted to stay even semi-relevant.

So now the dreaded three-fight losing skid is over, presenting Holm with some interesting options. The good news is she’s one of the few women under contract to the UFC who has actually fought at 145 pounds, even if it was just once and even if she lost. Still, she has a name and a history and a division that can’t seem to even keep its own champion interested in hanging around could sure use someone like her.

Then again, there are still options for her at bantamweight. The book on Holm says that she’s a skilled striker and an extremely dangerous one when she has an opponent willing to be the one who moves forward. The current champ, Amanda Nunes, is just that type of fighter. It’s not at all unreasonable to think that the women’s 135-pound wheel of fortune might spin back her way some time soon.

But let’s not act like one win, even if it’s one for the highlight reel, removes all doubt about Holm. Even in victory she showed the same reluctance at range that’s plagued her in previous fights. She has a unique gift for giving away rounds to lesser talents, which doesn’t pair well with her personal moratorium on charisma.

There’s so much to like about Holm as a fighter. You just wish it would show up every time she does.

In Singapore, at least, it did. For the fans who cared enough to pair the UFC with their morning coffee, it was a memorable ending to what had been a sleepy slog of a fight right up until then. That’s a start, at least. It’s a win. When you haven’t had one of those since 2015, you’ll probably take it any way you can get it.

For complete coverage UFC Fight Night 111, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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Source: MMA Junkie

UFC Fight Night 111's Holly Holm knew crowd would boo her game plan, but didn't care

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SINGAPORE – Former UFC women’s bantamweight champion Holly Holm had waited nearly two years to get her hand raised.

If she had to wait for the right moment to strike against Bethe Correia (10-3-1 MMA, 4-3-1 UFC), so be it, she said after returning to peak form with a head-kick knockout in the headliner of UFC Fight Night 111.

“The game plan was not to rush anything,” Holm (11-3 MMA, 4-3 UFC) told MMAjunkie after her UFC Fight Pass-streamed win Saturday at Singapore Indoor Stadium in Singapore. “We knew the crowd might boo; it’s the type of game plan the crowd might boo.”

Indeed, the audience signaled its displeasure fairly early in the fight when it became clear both fighters were approaching the main event with more caution than usual. Even referee Marc Goddard intervened to jolt the action, warning the pair for timidity.

But to Holm, the need to put on a show was outweighed by the one to be patient and seize the right opportunity, not just the first one that arrived.

“As soon as I heard it, I just thought, ‘You know what, I’m the one in here fighting. I’m going to stick to the game plan, and I’m going to pick the right shot,’” she said.

As it turned out, that came early in the third round when Correia got impatient and started taunting Holm, looking to engage in a brawl. It was a moment for which Holm had prepared, and soon after, she launched the fight-ending kick, which set up her first win since a shocking knockout of Ronda Rousey in November 2015.

Asked whether Correia’s taunting prompted her to seek revenge, Holm said she was unfazed. Yet she still relished the idea of landing that signature move that stung Rousey.

“If I was training to fight me, I’d be like, ‘OK, she has a left kick. Let’s watch out for it,’” Holm said. “It’s one of those things, just that competitive side of me that thinks, ‘You know it’s coming, but I still want to hit you with it.’

“The taunting doesn’t do anything to me. That’s never affected me in any fight I’ve ever had. My whole plan was to stick to my game plan.”

Now, Holm gets to drive a different narrative than the one that followed her into the fight. Before she smacked Correia upside the head, she’d lost three straight fights, losing the women’s bantamweight title and a chance to capture the inaugural women’s featherweight belt in her previous outing. Moving back into the win column means she gets a break from doubts about her viability, and it validates the approach she took to prepare for the fight.

“I really wanted to enjoy this camp, this fight week, and I wanted to remind myself over and over that I do this because I love it,” she said. “A lot of people keep asking me, ‘What are you going to do now? You’re on a three-fight losing streak – what are you going to do now?’ It doesn’t really matter what everybody thinks I’m going to do. I started fighting because I love it and I’m passionate about it, and that was the reminder here. I’m going to be me. I’m the one who’s getting in there and fighting, anyway.”

The crowd might not have liked every moment of her effort, but things turned out just fine. As for what comes next, she isn’t too worried about it.

“As far as what’s next for me, I see a beer and some french fries, and a beautiful view over Singapore at the hotel,” Holm said.

For complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 111, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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Source: MMA Junkie

UFC Fight Night 111 bonuses: You know Holly Holm's sick kick was worth $50,000

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Holly Holm, Ulka Sasaki, Li Jingliang and Frank Camacho each earned $50,000 bonuses for their performances at today’s UFC Fight Night 111 event.

Holm and Sasaki earned “Performance of the Night” honors, while Jingliang and Camacho won “Fight of the Night.”

The UFC announced the winners following the event, which MMAjunkie attended.

Former women’s bantamweight champion Holm (11-3 MMA, 4-3 UFC) knocked out Bethe Correia (10-3-1 MMA, 4-3-1 UFC) 69 seconds into the third round with a head kick, just seconds after Correia told Holm to come forward, apparently frustrated with a lack of activity. Correia got what she asked for and then some, and Holm snapped a three-fight skid that started when she lost the title.

As a 5-1 favorite, Justin Scoggins (11-4 MMA, 4-4 UFC) was tied with Holm and Jingliang as the biggest favorites on the card. But Sasaki (20-4-2 MMA, 3-3 UFC) didn’t care much about that. He tapped Scoggins in the second round with a rear-naked choke on the preliminary card.

Jingliang (13-4 MMA, 5-2 UFC) and Camacho (20-5 MMA, 0-1 UFC) battled for 15 minutes on the prelims before Jingliang ultimately took a unanimous decision with a pair of 29-27 scores and a 28-27 in a fight that was more competitive than the oddsmakers likely expected when they instilled Jingliang as a 5-1 favorite.

UFC Fight Night 111 took place Saturday at Singapore Indoor Stadium in Singapore. The entire card streamed on UFC Fight Pass.

For complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 111, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie