Bellator 191's Valerie Letourneau looks to ex-UFC champ Joanna Jedrzejczyk as proof she made right move

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Filed under: Bellator, News, Radio Highlight, UFC, Videos

Six-time UFC fighter Valerie Letourneau struggled tremendously to reach the 115-pound strawweight limit during her octagon run and ultimately decided to move to flyweight upon signing with Bellator.

Letourneau (8-6 MMA, 0-0 BMMA) debuts for the promotion against Kate Jackson (9-2-1 MMA, 1-0 BMMA) at Friday’s Bellator 191 event. Ahead of that matchup, which airs on Spike (via same-day tape delay) from Metro Radio Arena in Newcastle, England, Letourneau said she’s confident the change in divisions was absolutely necessary.

“I feel like I’ve been waiting for this forever,” Letourneau told MMAjunkie Radio. “It’s been a very long year of negotiating contracts and training and training and training. Nothing was going on, so I’m very impatient. I cannot wait for this fight, especially this week when we cut weight. I’m just so grateful, so happy that I can finally fight at 125. I feel strong. I feel healthy. I’m still cutting weight, but in a normal way, so I can really focus on performing.”

Letourneau’s UFC run started in fine fashion after she earned a UFC 174 win in the bantamweight division before making a move down to the strawweight division and posting victories over Jessica Rakoczy and Maryna Moroz.

But Letourneau’s weight cuts got increasingly difficult, and she lost her final three UFC appearances, starting with a failed bid to unseat then-champ Joanna Jedrzejczyk (14-1 MMA, 8-1 UFC) and then subsequent losses to Joanna Calderwood and Viviane Pereira.

Jedrzejczyk is now a teammate of Letourneau’s at American Top Team, and “Trouble” said she’s amazed that the Polish standout can still get her body down to 115 pounds. However, she said that watching the process is a stark reminder of her own desire to compete at flyweight instead.

Letourneau heard secondhand of Jedrzejczyk’s weight cut at this past month’s UFC 217 event, where the Polish fighter lost her UFC belt, and knows she doesn’t want to deal with similar difficulties.

“Well, definitely we had that talk with Joanna, even the week before the fight, just before she left – how much it hurt her body, how much it affects us even sometimes a month and two months after the fight; we’re still paying the price for the weight cut,” Letourneau said. “It’s so hard to explain. There’s so many steps that are – it’s not healthy, but at the same time, this is what we have to do. I’m so impressed with how good (Jedrzejczyk is) because she’s pretty much cutting the same same amount of weight. We have different bodies, but it works pretty much the same.

“When we start training, we gain weight because we put muscle on, and then everything is a struggle of not putting too much muscle, going down in weight and performing. She’s been doing so great. She always had really good cardio going to those five-round fights. But these weight cuts she’s doing are brutal. People have no clue because also her attitude is so positive. She always looks like she’s good, she’s strong, but look at her body. You can tell the girl is sucked up when she gets on the scale. She’s sitting there smiling, but there’s nothing left. She’s completely drained, and there’s a price to pay.”

Letourneau said it was this experience that forced her to move up a division, especially when her body made things harder and harder for her in progressive weight cuts.

The Canadian import said it’s natural for the body to fight against the cuts no matter how frustrating it might be.

“Every time you do those weight cuts, the second time is harder,” Letourneau said. “Your body knows, and sometimes what was working the first time is not working this time. It’s like your body is protecting itself. You’re not going to lose as much water as easily, and we kind of need to switch a couple things. It’s just, your body doesn’t want to go through this. It’s not healthy, and it just gets harder and harder, and I think this weight cut (for Jedrzejczyk) – from what I’ve heard, I wasn’t there – but we have the same coach. Mike Brown was with me when I fought in Australia, so he saw her cutting weight for this fight, and he said it was a pretty similar weight cut.

“And we have no IV, also, to rehydrate. It’s hard to have 24 hours so dehydrated. You don’t just drink water and Pedialyte, and everything is going to be fine. It’s more than that, especially for your brain.”

The UFC instituted the women’s flyweight division shortly after Letourneau left the promotion, but she said she’s not upset at that turn of events. Instead, she’s simply anxious to get in the cage and said plenty of talented female flyweights are capable of stacking rosters in both the UFC and Bellator.

“I think it’s going to be the perfect mix of both – very athletic girls, very fast, and still strong, strong women, like we see at 135 and 145,” Letourneau. “And also, (we’ll be) seeing women fight at their full capacity.”

For more on Bellator 191, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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

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Filed under: Bellator, News, Radio Highlight, UFC, Videos
Source: MMA Junkie

UFC 218's Michelle Waterson not in any hurry to fight for UFC title

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Filed under: News, UFC, Videos

DETROIT – Although it’s still a big fight for the UFC’s strawweight division, Michelle Waterson knows the stakes are slightly lessened for her UFC 218 matchup with Tecia Torres after Rose Namajunas dethroned longtime champ Joanna Jedrzejczyk in November.

Namajunas (6-3 MMA, 4-2 UFC) shook up the 115-pound weight class when she scored a first-round knockout of Jedrzejczyk (14-1 MMA, 8-1 UFC) at UFC 217. Prior to the fight, Waterson (14-5 MMA, 2-1 UFC) vs. Torres (9-1 MMA, 5-1 UFC) was viewed by most as a title eliminator in the division, but with a rematch likely to take place for the gold sometime next year, “The Karate Hottie” may need to put in more work in order to get a crack at the belt.

Waterson said she’s fine with that, mainly because she’s in no rush to reach the title. She sees more to work on with her game before challenging Namajunas, Jedrzejczyk or whoever else might be holding the crown.

“I’m not in any hurry,” Waterson told MMAjunkie at Thursday’s UFC 218 media day. “I love to fight. I’m comfortable in a place in my career now where I want to go out there and I want to show everybody what I’ve been working on. I want to go out there and execute. It’s like when you practice for a game and you actually land a move you’ve been landing over and over and over in practice. That feeling you get when you land it in the live game, that’s what I’m going out there Saturday night to do. Just go out there and execute what I’ve been working on and have fun.”

UFC 218 takes place Saturday at the new Little Caesars Arena in downtown Detroit, and it’s the UFC’s first event in Michigan since UFC 123 in 2010. Waterson vs. Torres opens the pay-per-view main card following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass.

Waterson is coming off a second-round submission loss to Namajunas at UFC on FOX 24 in April. She can bounce back toward the top of the division with a win over Torres, but unless something drastic changes, not likely into a championship bout.

Although the change in titleholders had an impact on Waterson’s placement in the division, she said her feeling of happiness for Namajunas outweighs anything else. She said she also wouldn’t mind rematching “Thug Rose” is she hangs onto the strap.

“I’m happy for Rose,” Waterson said. “She was really focused that night and she did a really great job executing her game plan. She went out there and she ceased the moment. Even though we’re all opponents and fight each other, you can’t help but be happy for somebody. You know what it is and you know what you sacrifice when you’re in training camp. To be able to capitalize on the moment, I was happy for her. I would love to rematch her. It just makes it that much better when she’s the champ now.”

Regardless of what’s on the horizon with a win, Waterson said she’s focused on the task at hand, which is earning a victory at UFC 218. Torres has been angling for a matchup with Waterson for quite some time, but it’s never come to fruition. Now’s the time, though, and Waterson said she’s pleased with the matchmaking.

“I think it’s a great matchup,” Waterson said. “Her coming off two wins, me coming off the fight against Rose. We’re both closely matched up in the rankings. It’s going to be a fight that determines who gets pushed up the ladder. I’m excited. … I’m looking forward to fighting a more well-rounded, developed Tecia Torres. I see myself winning by a finish.”

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

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

Tecia Torres believes she can skip past Joanna Jedrzejczyk in title queue with UFC 218 win

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Filed under: Featured, News, UFC, Videos

DETROIT – Tecia Torres has her sights set on UFC gold. She believes an impressive victory over Michelle Waterson on Saturday at UFC 218 could get her that opportunity.

Torres (9-1 MMA, 5-1 UFC), who fights Waterson (14-5 MMA, 2-1 UFC) in the UFC 218 pay-per-view opener following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, is looking to extend her winning streak to three fights in the UFC strawweight division.

Despite the fact all signs point to former longtime champ Joanna Jedrzejczyk (14-1 MMA, 8-1 UFC) getting an immediate rematch with champ Rose Namajunas (6-3 MMA, 4-2 UFC) following her UFC 217 title loss, Torres thinks she has a chance to jump the queue with the right performance.

“I do feel coming out with a great win this weekend I could get a possible title shot,” Torres told MMAjunkie at Thursday’s UFC 218 media day. “But you never know what happens. It’s really what the matchmakers want to make and what plays a good story. I think I have a good story. We’ll see what happens on Saturday night.”

Torres’ chances of getting a fight with Namajunas could be bolstered by the history between the pair. Torres defeated “Thug Rose” by unanimous decision at Invicta FC 6 in July 2013, while Namajunas won the rematch by unanimous decision at UFC on FOX 19 in April 2016.

With each fighter holding one victory, a trilogy bout seems inevitable. Torres said she’s not going to demand anything, though. She said she was pleased to see Namajunas win at UFC 217, especially because of how she got the job done and conducted herself afterward.

“I’m very happy for Rose,” Torres said. “She’s a talented fighter and a great representation for the UFC strawweight champion. I wasn’t surprised at all that she won. I thought she had the right tools to get in there and not stand in front of Joanna, because that’s what you can’t do. If you stand in front of her she’s going to light you up all day. She went in there and used her movement and she got that quick win. That was amazing. I’m very happy for Rose and I like where it’s at.”

As far as UFC 218 goes, though, Torres said she’s thrilled to be fighting Waterson. She’s been angling for a matchup with “The Karate Hottie” for the better part of 2017 and intends on proving why she asked for the fight with a statement win. Torres is coming off the first stoppage win of her career – a second-round submission of Juliana Lima at The Ultimate Fighter 25 Finale in July – and intends on continuing that momentum against Waterson.

“(After getting a stoppage) I was like, ‘Damn. That felt so easy, that felt so great. Why don’t I go in there and just get it done like that and not have to go 15 minutes?’” Torres said. “I’d like to go get it done for this fight. I continue to say I want to hit her and I don’t want to stop hitting her. That’s what’s win my mind and that’s what my game plan is.

“She’s a great fighter, I’m a great fighter and obviously I think I have the advantage everywhere the fight goes,” she continued. “I’m stronger, I’m faster and I’m more athletic. I’m just going to continue to say that because I really believe in it.”

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

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

Ex-UFC champ Joanna Jedrzejczyk's message for critics: I will be more 'cocky,' 'arrogant' and 'loud'

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Filed under: Featured, News, UFC, Videos

SHANGHAI – Joanna Jedrzejczyk’s first pro MMA loss might have cost her a UFC belt, but it has in no way shaken her confidence.

Jedrzejczyk was on the losing end of one of the year’s biggest upsets, when a first-round knockout gave Rose Namajunas the 115-pound title earlier this month at UFC 217. Given the particularly rough loss, in New York’s iconic Madison Square Garden no less, few would fault the dethroned champ for needing some time to lick her wounds.

But judging by Jedrzejczyk’s chat with reporters in Shanghai, where she’s currently fulfilling guest-fighter duties ahead of UFC Fight Night 122, it seems that won’t be necessary.

“My life is better than before,” Jedrzejczyk said. “Some people, they can’t believe I’m smiling, I’m in good mood, and I’m looking forward. They think I should sleep and cry and do nothing. I do more. I’ve had more offers to work with big companies – the biggest companies everywhere than I had before.

“Because they see a human. At the end, they see a fighter. They see a professional athlete. I do my business from beginning to the end. And this is who I am. And I’m stronger.”

While Jedrzejczyk wasn’t exactly planning to come up short in her sixth attempt to defend the title she’d held since March 2015, she finds solace in a few things. The overwhelming support she’s received from her team, sponsors, her “real fans” and even the ex-minister of Poland – who was present at her fight – are among them.

The support, however, isn’t unanimous. While good-spirited and humorous in general, Jedrzejczyk has also been known to turn up the intimidation factor as fight time approaches. And, in the specific case of the recent title-costing bout, the Polish ex-champ’s jabs toward Namajunas’ mental state rubbed many the wrong way.

Add to that Namajunas’ post-fight vows to set a “good example” in MMA and the narrative pretty much writes itself.

But if you think the “accident” that took place at UFC 217 will translate to a change of attitude on Jedrzejczyk’s end, think again.

“People who are saying I was cocky or arrogant, this is why I lost,” Jedrzejczyk said. “I just want to tell you that I will be more cocky. I will be more arrogant. And I will be more loud. Because I know my value. I’m bigger than that night at UFC 217. Mistakes happen to everyone. And don’t you worry.

“But it was not a mistake. Because I didn’t do any mistakes. It was an accident. And people don’t know, I’m not going to blame it on anyone. Because I’m a classy lady. I’m a professional athlete. And I take this.”

Jedrzejczyk was ready for the title affair. Even two days before it, Jedrzejczyk says, she was in great shape – and she has her open workouts to show for it. But “something happened.” And while she won’t go into detail about it, she asks that people don’t place the blame of it on her team or in the UFC.

“It was not like a mental issue, or stress or pressure,” Jedrzejczyk said.

At the end of the day, Jedrzejczyk (14-1 MMA, 8-1 UFC) gives “big respect” to Namajunas (7-3 MMA, 5-2 UFC) for not only winning, but doing it in style. In fact, when it comes to all of the women she’s met in the octagon, Jedrzejczyk is clear in that she was never coming off a place of disrespect.

“When people say I don’t respect my opponents – I do respect them, more than 10 other fighters together,” Jedrzejczyk said. “Because I show that respect in how I work my ass hard every day in the gym. And that’s the thing. I never talk about their families. I never say bad things to my opponents.”

But, at the same time, the Polish strawweight believes that the belt she’s set on reclaiming is simply “on vacations” with the new champ.

“I’m still the champion,” Jedrzejczyk said. “I made this division. People texting me, ‘You’re not the strawweight queen anymore. You’re not Joanna champion.’ If you go the Olympics, you win the gold medal. If you flunk the Olympics four years after, you’re still a gold Olympic medalist.

“Same with the champion. I built this division. I defended my title five times. It means something.”

Now, after camp for UFC 217 and media duties, Jedrzejczyk is going to spend two months at home in her native Poland. She plans on returning to the U.S. for pre-camp in mid-January and also hinted at an exciting “big global thing” that she will be involved in, thought the former champion can’t yet give details.

When she returns to American Top Team, though, will Jedrzejczyk be preparing for a rematch?

“I’m clever, I don’t want a rematch,” Jedrzejczyk said. “What if (Namajunas) fights in February? What if she fights in March? What if she, for example, she will lose the belt? I will get the rematch. But like I said, I want my baby back. So I want to fight for the title. And this is what’s going to happen.”

To hear from Jedrzejczyk, check out the video above.

And for complete coverage of UFC 217, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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

Twitter Mailbag: On McGregor's career crossroads, Holloway's replacement challenger, and more

What will his next choice of opponent tell us about the UFC lightweight champion’s true goals? And who would make the best replacement to fight for the UFC featherweight title now that Frankie Edgar is injured? Plus, the UFC is getting into boxing now? Seriously?

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

* * * *

You have to decide for yourself where that point is, but this seems like a pretty clear crossroads. If Conor McGregor’s next fight (assuming the UFC gives in to his ownership demands) isn’t a UFC lightweight title defense against Tony Ferguson, or whoever holds the interim belt by then, it’s going to get a lot harder to refer to him as a UFC champion.

And I don’t say that lightly, since prior to this point I could see his reasoning for not defending his UFC belts. He’s an ambitious man, which meant he was always looking for something bigger and better. He was also looking for monster paydays and historic fights.

He’s had both in the past couple years. And we enjoyed it so much, we didn’t get overly concerned when it sometimes failed to adhere to a clear logic. But where’s he going to go from here? It’s tough to take a step up from that Floyd Mayweather bout. The best thing he can do is cement himself as a champion by making his first defense against a worthy challenger. And “El Cucuy” is as worthy as it gets.

It’s definitely not targeting the casual audience, that’s for sure. But if you heard all about how awesome UFC 217 was and you decided to tune in to the next free cable TV fight to judge the action for yourself, you could do a lot worse.

There’s bound to be some good action here, especially in the main and co-main. And if you don’t know Diego Sanchez’s long history in the sport, maybe you won’t even be bummed out if Matt Brown steamrolls him the way I expect him to.

Plus, if you can stay up and endure the commercials, Dustin Poirier and Anthony Pettis are probably going to give you one hell of a show in the headliner. I just can’t see that being a boring fight, no matter how it goes.

The question is, do any of these fights have immediate ramifications for their divisions? With a couple possible exceptions, no, not really. But that doesn’t mean they won’t be a good time for anyone with FS1 in their cable package this Saturday night.

“Needed” is a tricky term, especially since Max Holloway already beat all three of those guys. So then you ask yourself two questions: 1) Who has done the most to earn a rematch, and 2) Who’d be the most fun and/or marketable fight for the champ?

Right away that rules out Jose Aldo, I’m sorry to say. He hasn’t fought since his TKO loss to Holloway in June, and the fight was so one-sided that I don’t see anyone getting too excited about running it back.

So how about Ricardo Lamas? He’s riding a two-fight winning streak with two finishes over tough fighters, so that’s a plus. Still, it’s not like he was at the top of anybody’s contender list, and he doesn’t have a super strong fanbase pushing to see him get another shot.

That leaves Cub Swanson, a reliably exciting fighter with four straight wins, the last two of which came with “Fight of the Night” honors. MMA fans love them some Cubbie Sampson. He’s bound to give you a show in victory or defeat, and he seems very into the idea of stepping in as replacement, judging by his initial reaction to the Frankie Edgar injury news on Twitter.

The only problem is, if you pull Swanson out of his fight with Brian Ortega, you create a domino effect of booking problems for UFC matchmakers. But hey, that’s their problem.

That’s a very fair point. For as long as it lasted, Rose Namajunas looked spectacular in her UFC 217 title bout. She wasn’t the least bit intimidated by Joanna Jedrzejczyk, but she also didn’t get overly excited when the fight started to swing her way.

In short, she looked like a well-rounded, mature fighter, which is saying something for a 25-year-old champion with only 10 pro fights in under five years of competition.

The real test is what happens now. Winning a UFC title can change your life in both good and bad ways. Everything we’ve heard from her recently makes me think Namajunas can handle it, but it’ll be interesting to see what kind of challenge she faces in her first defense.

Jedrzejczyk had a long and dominant enough reign at strawweight that I think she deserves an immediate rematch – when she’s ready for it. But you’re right that she might be better off taking some time to rest and recover after that fight, especially since she still seems hazy about what happened there at the very end.

First of all, I totally want to hang out with your friend. Second, I’ve got to admit that my eyebrows were literally raised after I read your question.

But we want to be careful about this line of reasoning. Fighters can go on losing skids with or without the help of performance-enhancing drugs. This is just that kind of business. Failure can beget doubt, which begets all sorts of bad and desperate decisions, which begets more failure. We’ve seen it over and over in MMA.

And riddle me this: If Johny Hendricks’ current woes are all the result of getting off whatever you think he was on, all due to a fear of USADA, wouldn’t he have been tempted to get back on the good stuff and take his chances with the drug tests by now? I know I would.

Cris Cyborg wasn’t “installed” on the throne of the 145-pound division – she took it by force. From Strikeforce to Invicta FC to the UFC, she’s beaten the tar out of anyone willing to buy the ticket and take the ride.

As for why the division doesn’t function like all the others, part of it is the lack of naturally occurring depth. There just aren’t a ton of female fighters with the size to compete in the 145-pound division, and Cyborg’s already beaten most of the existing ones.

And so far, the UFC hasn’t seemed that interested in cultivating an actual division there, maybe because it fears there aren’t enough good fighters to populate it, especially since Bellator already has several ranked fighters in the division under contract. In the UFC’s eyes, Cyborg is the whole show at 145 pounds.

Her opponents have mostly been a rotating cast of 135-pounders who were convinced to move up and take their chances, and that didn’t end well for any of them. Perhaps as a result, the job of convincing them seems to be getting harder and harder.

I’ll believe the UFC as a boxing promoter when I see it, and even then I’m going to have some questions. Those questions may include, but are not limited to:

How are the payouts going to work, since top boxing talent usually gets paid a whole lot more than top MMA fighters?

And how can you oppose the Ali Act Expansion for MMA, but essentially admit that it’s fine for the boxing side of your business?

And speaking of the Ali Act, will the UFC try to require the same restrictive contracts of boxers that it does of MMA fighters?

Then there’s the other, arguably bigger question: Who is the intended audience for this? You need different fighting surfaces for the two different sports, so doing them both at the same event is tricky (ask Bellator). Plus, there’s not as much crossover between the two fanbases as people sometimes think, except when it comes to the few really big names in both sports.

I’m not saying the UFC can’t become a boxing promoter. What I am saying is that I wouldn’t be surprised if those “Zuffa Boxing” shirts become collector’s items soon. You know, in the same way that Atlanta Falcons 2017 Super Bowl Champions shirts are.

Short answer: no.

Slightly longer answer: depends on the circumstances, but still mostly no.

I’ve done battle with my nemesis Danny Downes on this topic before, but my position remains unchanged. I think there’s functionally very little difference between tapping to strikes and covering up in the fetal position while waiting for the referee to stop it. It makes no sense that we accept the latter as just something that happens, while the former makes a fighter an immediate object of scorn.

In fairness, what we reported is UFC President Dana White said the fight was happening. And if you’ve been following this sport for any length of time, you ought to know that White excels at the art of just saying stuff. This time, it seems like he announced a fight without even discussing it with at least one of the participants.

And wasn’t White the one who, just last week, complained about inaccurate reporting on MMA? Wasn’t he the one who claimed that there’s “nothing factual that’s ever written about this business”? If that’s true, maybe it’s because we’re too willing to take his word for it, regardless of how many times he lies to us.

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

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Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

UFC 217's 'Thrill and Agony' will make your eyes water

Filed under: Blue Corner, Featured Videos, News, UFC, Videos

Dann StuppIf you though UFC 217 was an emotional rollercoaster on fight night, wait until you see the new behind-the-scenes and cageside footage.

The “Thrill and Agony” series takes us up close and behind the scenes of pay-per-view events, and at UFC 217, we saw some emotional aftermath after three titles changed hands.

UFC 217 took place Saturday at Madison Square Garden Arena in New York, and the main card aired on pay-per-view following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass.

In “Thrill and Agony,” raw emotion is put on display, primarily with the corner and cageside cams that captured teammates, friends and family reacting to the fights.

Some of the most emotional footage comes from the night’s first title fight when heavy underdog Rose Namajunas (7-3 MMA, 5-2 UFC) upset strawweight champ Joanna Jedrzejczyk (14-1 MMA, 8-1 UFC). Check out the reactions from the fighters, their corners, family and friends – and the cageside broadcasters above.

It also includes the aftermath of new bantamweight champ T.J. Dillashaw (15-3 MMA, 11-3 UFC) taking out former teammate and training partner Cody Garbrandt (11-1 MMA, 6-1 UFC) in the co-headliner, as well as Georges St-Pierre (26-2 MMA, 20-2 UFC) dethroning middleweight titleholder via submission Michael Bisping (30-8 MMA, 20-8 UFC) in the headliner.

The above video is a preview of “Thrill and Agony.” The full episode is available on UFC Fight Pass for subscribers.

For complete coverage of UFC 217, check out 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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UFC 217 'Fight Motion:' Watch T.J. Dillashaw drop Cody Garbrandt with high kick before finish

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The UFC’s latest edition of “Fight Motion” with super slow-motion highlights is out, and in it we see highlights from all three title fights, including T.J. Dillashaw’s first knockdown of Cody Garbrandt.

Before scoring the knockout finish to become bantamweight champion for the second time, Dillashaw (15-3 MMA, 11-3 UFC) dropped Garbrandt (11-1 MMA, 6-1 UFC) with a high kick that landed flush to the face. It signaled the beginning of the end for the now-former champion.

The “Fight Motion” highlights also include the main event, which saw Georges St-Pierre (26-2 MMA, 20-2 UFC) choke out Michael Bisping (30-8 MMA, 20-8 UFC) to win the middleweight title and become the fourth two-division champion in UFC history, as well as Rose Namajunas’ (7-3 MMA, 5-2 UFC) stunning first-round knockout of Joanna Jedrzejczyk (14-1 MMA, 8-1 UFC) to win the strawweight title.

In the video above, check out the super slow-motion highlights from the action at UFC 217 this past Saturday at Madison Square Garden in New York. The main card aired on pay-per-view following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass.

For complete coverage of UFC 217, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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Dana White argues why 2017 was best year in UFC history 'by a long shot'

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NEW YORK – UFC President Dana White’s had lofty expectations for UFC 217. And judging by his talk with reporters following Saturday’s event at New York’s Madison Square Garden, they were surpassed. he said.

Asked about what the triumphant return of Canadian icon Georges St-Pierre (26-2 MMA, 20-2 UFC) – a former welterweight titleholder who joined the small club of two-division UFC champs after taking Michael Bisping’s (30-8 MMA, 20-8 UFC) middleweight crown in UFC 217 pay-per-view headliner – could mean in terms of taking the UFC back to Montreal, White replied with some bold figures.

“It would obviously make sense to go back to Montreal with (St-Pierre),” White said. “I told some of you guys this yesterday, but (Floyd Mayweather and UFC champ Conor McGregor) had the record there in Canada. We were No. 2 and 3 or something like that. We’re pretty sure that this beat Mayweather and McGregor in Canada tonight.

“I told some of you yesterday that this would do a million (pay-per-view buys). I was way wrong. It did over a million. I’ll have a definite answer tomorrow, but it’s looking like we destroyed it.”

UFC 217 featured three PPV title bouts – all of which saw belts changing hands. In the night’s headliner, St-Pierre came back from a four-year layoff to squeeze Bisping (30-8 MMA, 20-8 UFC) into a submission. The co-headliner saw T.J. Dillashaw (15-3 MMA, 11-3 UFC) overcoming an unfavorable first round to knock out previously undefeated Cody Garbrandt (11-1 MMA, 6-1 UFC) in the second and re-claim the 135-pound title.

And then, of course, there was massive underdog Rose Namajunas(7-3 MMA, 5-2 UFC) demolishing the previously unbeaten Joanna Jedrzejczyk (14-1 MMA, 8-1 UFC) in the first round of their strawweight title encounter in a way that not that, it’s safe to say, not many people saw coming.

The night was so rich in flashy finishes that five “Performance of the Night” bonuses were distributed; Namajunas, Dillashaw and St-Pierre made an added $50,000 bank, while Ricardo Ramos and Ovince Saint Preux took home $25,000 each.

While there are quite a few cards that look stacked on paper, for one of them to deliver in such a stellar way is, in White’s words, “awesome.” Still, considering the amount of solid events the promotion has put together, White said, singling out UFC 217 as the best fight card ever would be tough.

“But it was one of the best ever – if not the best ever,” White said.

But UFC 217 isn’t the only thing keeping White in good spirits. Although the UFC president had raised some eyebrows in his previous remarks that the UFC was bound to have its best year yet in 2017, he reiterated his thoughts on the  year in quite emphatic manner during Saturday’s post-fight press conference.

“Whose indications (that PPV are down) are that? People who don’t know what the (expletive) they’re talking about,” White said. “If you don’t know what’s going on in our business, how can you speculate that we’re having a bad year? This is the best year, by a long shot, in the company’s history. Boom.

“Ronda (Rousey) didn’t fight. Conor didn’t fight in MMA. Jon Jones fought once. And Anderson Silva, Chuck Liddell – the list goes on and on and on. The business is kicking ass. Best year ever, by a long shot.”

The statement, it’s worth noting, encompasses the revenue made by the mega-showdown between Mayweather and McGregor – which, according to White’s most recent account, garnered 6.7 million PPV buys around the world.

As for why would “The Money Fight” be included in this math – well, why wouldn’t it?

“You can’t take that out; it happened,” White said. “And if that didn’t happen, Conor would have fought twice this year. You can’t take it out. Who cares if it’s a boxing match? It’s revenue that the company made that we spent four months of our resources promoting.”

To hear White’s full interview, check out the video above.

And for complete coverage of UFC 217, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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Trading Shots: Did title turnover at UFC 217 teach us a lesson about the price of arrogance?

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Three very confident champions all lost their titles in brutal fashion at UFC 217. What, if anything, is the lesson here? MMAjunkie columnist Ben Fowlkes and retired UFC and WEC fighter Danny Downes discuss.

* * * *

Fowlkes: What a night, eh, Danny? For the first time in UFC history, three titles changed hands in three consecutive bouts. Another way to look at it: In all three title fights, we saw some version of a story that is as rare in real life as it is satisfying. I refer now, of course, to the story of hubris punished.

Think about it. Michal Bisping? Joanna Jedrzejczyk? Cody Garbrandt? All three came into their title defenses talking a metric ton of crap. All three, to one extent or another, played the role of the bully, constantly poking a finger in the challenger’s chest while threatening all manner of humiliating violence. Then, one by one, all three got beaten up.

To make the contrast between the defeated bullies and the victorious bullied even more glaring, you had Rose Namajunas out there using her victory speech to encourage us to be nice and hug each other. You had Georges St-Pierre apologizing for the using the word “balls” in public (surely, NYC residents were scandalized by such talk). You had T.J. Dillashaw … well, he didn’t gloat anywhere near as obnoxiously as he could have, and that’s something, especially against a bitter rival and former teammate.

Is it all one big coincidence, Danny? Or is there something to learn from a night when the plot of basically every teen movie from “The Karate Kid” to “Never Back Down” became reality in the UFC?

Downes: Who knew that all it took for Ben Fowlkes to get back into the church pew was three UFC titles changing hands in one night? Maybe next week we can change the name of this column to “Trading Blessings” and we talk about how #blessed we are in our lives.

Of course it’s a coincidence! You constantly talk about how we shouldn’t read any morality into MMA. Well, we shouldn’t attribute any metaphysical arc of justice to it either. The same night as these alleged “bullies” lost their titles, former NFL player and domestic abuser Greg Hardy started his new career as an MMA fighter.

I think there’s a mistake in grouping all three of the former title holders in the same group. They were all arrogant in their bullying, but in different degrees. Bisping was his usual, grating self, with the mix of cocky Englishman, condescension and lack of self-awareness that we’ve come to expect. He even dresses the part of a bad guy in a low budget action movie.

Garbrandt’s attitude was driven more by personal animus towards Dillashaw. He probably crossed a line or two in the etiquette department (it’s never appropriate to brag about sparring “wins”), but that could be attributed to the fact that he really did not like Dillashaw. Rightly or wrongly, he finds Dillashaw disloyal and that really annoyed him.

I personally find Jedrzejczyk’s case the most interesting. She’s always had a mean streak, but in the buildup to this fight, she seemed especially nasty. Particularly in the way she attacked Namajunas, who tried to bring awareness to mental health issues.

Was this a case of Jedrzejczyk turning up her persona to 11, or was it a case of her drinking her own Kool-Aid? When everyone in the MMA landscape says you’re the baddest woman on the planet, you’re probably going to start calling yourself the boogeywoman, speaking in crazy hyperbole and looking for a role in the new “Roadhouse” remake. (Sorry, I think that last one was somebody else who believed her own hype.)

Regardless of what type of bully they personified, it appears they all received their comeuppance. I’m sure many fans enjoyed watching them lose their respective titles. I’m also sure that many fans aren’t looking for a kinder, gentler UFC fighter.

Fighters, too, aren’t going to be telling themselves, “You know, I should be more respectful to my opponent.” Everyone is going to be chasing that Conor McGregor money. As result, you’re going to get bootleg McGregors (cough* Colby Covington cough*) trying to be a more athletic Biff Tannen.

You compared last night to “The Karate Kid.” Do you think the “good guys” won last night? Do MMA fans have cocky A-hole fatigue? What should we learn from last night other than it’s really difficult to keep your title?

Fowlkes: I’m not going to say it was a moral failing that caused the downfall of these three champions, but especially in Jedrzejczyk’s case, it did seem like a disdain for her opponent’s skills (and maybe an overabundance of faith in her own) played a role in her loss. Arrogance can be a good selling point in combat sports. But if it’s also a character trait that you bring into the fight, it can get you knocked out.

As for the question of cocky A-hole fatigue, yes and no. It was strangely refreshing to see Namajunas pull off the night’s biggest upset, only to turn around and insist that she felt “like a normal person” afterward, because it is who you are with or without the belt that really matters.

And when GSP did his polite Canadian gentleman thing, you did get the sense that people were more into it because it was such a departure from the swaggering braggadocio we’ve gotten accustomed to lately.

I’m under no illusion that this is the beginning of an MMA culture change. Fighters saw McGregor getting fame and money, so they naturally tried to emulate the form hoping for similar results. That’s not going to stop all at once, or maybe ever.

Let’s not forget, when we were used to having St-Pierre and his G-rated trash talk around on the regular, we got to a point where we found it all a bit boring. He had to go away and come back in a different era for anybody to appreciate it.

But I do think that Saturday night might have been a reminder that there’s more than one path to the waterfall. Not everyone needs to be the sneering, cocky champ. The more people who try that act, the more of an opening it creates for something – anything – else.

Downes: If there’s one thing MMA fighters can learn from Hamlet (other than don’t get involved in Danish politics), it’s “this above all: to thy own self be true.” We’re so quick to tie MMA to professional wrestling that we conflate fighters with characters.

To be sure, fighters need to have some type of “brand.” The idea of letting your fighting do all the talking is naive, and it ignores the business of the sport.

When we have fighters out there working a gimmick, though, it cheapens everything else. Chael Sonnen had a decent thing going, but he went over the line into becoming a caricature of himself. I would argue that you’re better off having a boring personality than an insincere one.

Look at Sage Northcutt. I would assume by now he’s in on the joke, but it still works because that’s his personality. When wannabe McGregors spout uncreative nonsense, it seems ridiculous. It’s like when you tried to bring back the word fetch. Stop trying to make fetch happen, Ben. It’s not going to happen!

MMA is at its best when there’s variety. That applies to fighter personalities as much as it does to fighting styles. Homogeneity isn’t entertaining, and MMA fans aren’t a monolith. We all have different opinions of what we find entertaining, and the more options we have presented, the sport in general will be healthier. Some of us cheer for the bully. Some of us root for the underdog. But all of us want the sport to grow.

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

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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Sean Shelby's Shoes: What's next for Michael Bisping and UFC 217's other losing fighters?

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(ALSO SEE: Sean Shelby’s Shoes: What’s next for UFC 217’s winning fighters?)

UFC 217 was not a good night for champions. All three titleholders who entered the octagon dropped their belts with a stoppage loss on Saturday’s pay-per-view card at Madison Square Garden in New York.

The fairytale title reign of Michael Bisping (30-8 MMA, 20-8 UFC) came to a halt in the main event when he dropped the middleweight title to Georges St-Pierre (26-2 MMA, 20-2 UFC) with a third-round technical submission.

Prior to that, Cody Garbrandt (11-1 MMA, 6-1 UFC) and Joanna Jedrzejczyk (14-1 MMA, 8-1 UFC) had their undefeated records, as well as UFC titles, taken away with knockout losses to T.J. Dillashaw (15-3 MMA, 11-3 UFC) and Rose Namajunas (7-3 MMA, 5-2 UFC), respectively.

Also on the main card, former welterweight champion Johny Hendricks (18-8 MMA, 13-8 UFC) continued his career slide while Jorge Masvidal (32-13 MMA, 9-6 UFC) experienced another disappointing setback.

After every event, fans wonder whom the losing fighters 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 217’s losing fighters.

* * * *

Johny Hendricks

Rashad Evans

Should fight: Rashad Evans
Why they should fight: Hendricks’ career slide took arguably it’s most worrisome turn when the former champ suffered a second-round TKO loss to rising middleweight prospect Paulo Costa.

After being forced out of the welterweight division due to multiple failed weight cuts, Hendricks won his 185-pound debut earlier this year. He lost his subsequent fight against veteran Tim Boetsch, but after falling short against a previously unproven prospect, he’s in a challenging position.

Hendricks is just 1-5 in his past six UFC fights dating back to March 2015. He moved his camp to Jackson-Wink MMA in Albuquerque, N.M., in hopes of finding new results, but it didn’t go his way. As long as Hendricks decides he wants to fight, he’s going to be a notable name who will have a job with the UFC or elsewhere.

“Bigg Rigg” desperately needs to win his next fight, and fighting someone who’s at a similar stage in his career might be the only thing to help him regain his confidence and form. Fellow ex-champ Evans (19-7-1 MMA, 14-7-1 UFC) is no gimme fight when he’s on point, but even the current version of Hendricks would likely be a favorite.

Jorge Masvidal

Dong Hyun Kim

Should fight: Dong Hyun Kim
Why they should fight: Just when Masvidal appeared to be on the cusp of a welterweight title shot, he suddenly finds himself on a two-fight losing skid after suffering a unanimous-decision defeat to Stephen Thompson.

Masvidal fell short against the two-time title challenger and is now in a difficult position. His two losses came against the best in Thompson and Demian Maia, but in a similar situation to when he was fighting at 155 pounds, Masvidal has had trouble winning at the most crucial moments.

Nevertheless, Masvidal isn’t going anywhere and will attempt to fight his way back into the mix. Kim (22-4-1 MMA, 13-4 UFC) is coming off a loss to Masvidal’s teammate Colby Covington, and he’d surely be happy to follow up on his good friend’s handiwork with a showdown against “Stun Gun.”

Joanna Jedrzejczyk

Rose Namajunas and Joanna Jedrzejczyk

Should fight: Namajunas
Why they should fight: After putting together one of the most dominant title runs in UFC history, Jedrzejczyk finally experienced her first career setback with an upset loss to Rose Namajunas to drop the 115-pound title.

Although it was a surprising and disappointing outcome for the Polish fighter, it’s obvious what has to happen for her next: an immediate rematch with Namajunas. The UFC often gives dominant titleholders an immediate chance to regain the belt, and Jedrzejczyk has more than earned that opportunity.

If there were a clear No. 1 contender who had been overdue for a title shot, then perhaps there would be an argument to go a different direction for Namajunas’ first title challenger. No such contender exists, so Jedrzejczyk vs. Namajunas 2 should be next.

Cody Garbrandt

Should fight: John Lineker
Why they should fight: Watch the video above to see why Garbrandt should fight Lineker (30-8 MMA, 11-3 UFC) next after his title-fight loss.

Michael Bisping

Should fight: Luke Rockhold
Why they should fight: Watch the video above to see why Bisping should have his trilogy bout with Rockhold (16-3 MMA, 6-2 UFC) following his title-fight loss.

For complete coverage of UFC 217, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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