Category Archives: John Moraga

UFC 216 gets 7 bouts, including Evan Dunham vs. Beneil Dariush, Brad Tavares vs. Thales Leites

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The UFC has added seven new bouts to UFC 216, including lightweight and middleweight showdowns with implications in the rankings.

Today, the promotion announced that lightweight standouts Evan Dunham (18-6 MMA, 11-6 UFC) and Beneil Dariush (14-3 MMA, 8-3 UFC) will face off, as will middleweights Brad Tavares (13-2 MMA, 5-2 UFC) and one-time title challenger Thales Leites (27-7 MMA, 12-6 UFC).

UFC 216 take place Oct. 7 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The main card airs live on pay-per-view following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass.

Also confirmed for the fall card: a heavyweight clash featuring Walt Harris (9-5 MMA, 2-4 UFC) vs. Mark Godbeer (12-3 MMA, 1-1 UFC); a lightweight fight between Lando Vannata (9-2 MMA, 1-2 UFC) and Abel Trujillo (15-7 MMA, 7-2 UFC); a previously reported lightweight contest between Will Brooks (18-3 MMA, 1-2 UFC) and Nik Lentz (27-8-2 MMA, 11-5-1 UFC); and a pair of flyweight bouts, John Moraga (17-6 MMA, 6-5 UFC) vs. Magomed Bibulatov (14-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC) and Matt Schnell (9-4 MMA, 0-2 UFC) vs. Marco Beltran (8-5 MMA, 3-2 UFC).

Dunham, on a four-fight win streak, will look to break into the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA lightweight rankings, where Dariush stands at No. 10. Dariush, meanwhile, is looking to rebound from a knockout loss to No. 6 ranked Edson Barboza in his previous outing. Dunham previously expressed interest in a bout with Dariush.

Tavares, an honorable mention in the middleweight rankings has won his past two bouts and hopes to break into the top 15 with a win over No. 13 Leites, who recently outpointed Sam Alvey.

Heavyweight Harris is on the upswing with back-to-back knockout wins in bouts against Chase Sherman and Cyril Asker, respectively. Godbeer most recently outpointed Daniel Spitz, upping his UFC record to 1-1 after a debut loss to Justin Ledet.

Lightweight Vannata is looking to rebound after a decision loss to David Teymur that sapped his momentum after a spectacular wheel-kick knockout of John Makdessi this past December. Trujillo also needs a boost after a submission loss to James Vick, which snapped a three-fight win streak.

Lightweight Lentz mostly suffered a decision loss to Islam Makhachev, which brought his first loss since returning to the lightweight division from featherweight. Brooks has lost back-to-back fights in bouts against Alex Oliveira and Charles Oliveira, respectively.

One-time flyweight title challenger Moraga recently got back in the win column with a decision over Ashkan Mokhtarian in June, while Bibulatov puts his unbeaten record to the test after a debut decision against Jenel Lausa.

Flyweight Schnell is in dire need of a win after losses against Rob Font and Hector Sandoval in his first two UFC appearances. Beltran, meanwhile, has hit the skids with back-to-back losses after a trio of wins.

With the additions, the UFC 216 lineup now includes:

  • Evan Dunham vs. Beneil Dariush
  • Brad Tavares vs. Thales Leites
  • Walt Harris vs. Mark Godbeer
  • Lando Vannata vs. Abel Trujillo
  • Nik Lentz vs. Will Brooks
  • John Moraga vs. Magomed Bibulatov
  • Matt Schnell vs. Marco Beltran

For more on UFC 216, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

Why John Moraga's return to the UFC win column after 30 months was 'bittersweet'

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AUCKLAND, New Zealand – John Moraga avoided a dreaded four-fight UFC losing skid when he rebounded from a rough patch in his career with a dominant performance against Ashkan Mokhtarian at UFC Fight Night 110 on Saturday.

Although Moraga (17-6 MMA, 6-5 UFC) has been among the flyweight division’s elite for the majority of its UFC existence, the past few years have been troublesome following three consecutive losses. He got back on track, though, and beat Mokhtarian (13-2 MMA, 0-1 UFC) by lopsided unanimous decision on the FS1-televised preliminary card at Spark Arena in Auckland, New Zealand. Early prelims streamed on UFC Fight Pass.

Moraga, No. 12 in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA flyweight rankings, challenged pound-for-pound king Demetrious Johnson for the 125-pound belt in July 2013. He succumbed to a fifth-round submission, but his durability led to high hopes for his future.

Moraga said he did his best not to let the skid rattle his psyche.

“You can’t really let it get to you or think about it,” Moraga told MMAjunkie after his win. “I just had to stay focused and know that I’m going to win one, the next one. I didn’t let it get to me. I knew it was an issue. I knew it would be talked about. I had to answer a bunch of interviews about it. But in my mind, I was just focused on winning as always.”

Moraga’s record of six wins in 11 UFC fights might not seem overly impressive on the surface, but he’s largely lost to the best, including Johnson, John Dodson and Joseph Benavidez. He was clearly on a different level than UFC newcomer Mokhtarian, and while the win was the most important thing, Moraga said he wishes he displayed his superiority in a more emphatic manner.

“I’m hard on myself because I always want the finish, so it’s kind of bittersweet,” Moraga said. “I wanted the finish, but I needed that (win) very bad for my career. I had to take a second as soon as I walked out the tunnel and sat sown and just thanked God for giving me the ability to perform. I’m just blessed that I was able to get the W.

“I hit him with some good shots, and I could tell he didn’t want to be there. But he kept fighting, so he made me keep fighting. I just wish I would have got the finish, but I’m just happy with the W today.”

“Chicano” now wants to be the title contender he was four years ago.

“I just want to heal up and feel good coming into the next one,” Moraga said. “I want to go into a camp feeling healthy and be smart about the rest of my career.”

For complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 110, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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

UFC Fight Night 110 results: John Moraga outclasses newcomer Ashkan Mokhtarian to end skid

Filed under: News, UFC

Former UFC flyweight title challenger John Moraga quickly exposed Ashkan Mokhtarian’s shortcomings in grappling, and spent the rest of the fight reminding the UFC newcomer.

Although Mokhtarian (13-2 MMA, 0-1 UFC) managed to avoid a submission, at no point was Moraga (17-6 MMA, 6-5 UFC) in danger of losing control when the fight was on the mat, leading him to a unanimous decision.

The flyweight bout was part of today’s UFC Fight Night 110 prelims, which took place at Spark Arena in Auckland, New Zealand. It aired on FS1 following early prelims on UFC Fight Pass.

The final scorecards were 30-27 twice and 30-25 for Moraga, who snapped a three-fight losing streak that led him to the matchup with Mokhtarian, an imposing figure with an equal number of submissions and knockouts on his record.

Mokhtarian’s recent record indicated he might try to slug it out with Moraga, but instead, he shot early for a takedown. That’s quickly where the fight went south as Moraga trapped him in a guillotine that looked very close to finishing. Mokhtarian showed off his toughness for the first time, powering his way to his feet. But given the opportunity to pursue a different avenue to victory, he surprisingly returned to the takedown game, and Moraga capitalized in every position, sneaking in elbows and punches before taking mount position. An armbar had Mokhtarian scrambling at the bell.

It took Moraga a lot longer to get the fight to the floor in the second, with Mokhtarian wisely keeping his distance and trying out his kicks for the first time in the bout. Impatient with the delay, Moraga opened up with a hard right hand and flying knee. Mokhtarian reset, only to get taken to the mat on a leg-kick. And from there, it was all Moraga again. By the end of the second, Mokhtarian was again locking his arms to prevent the armbar.

Advised by his corner to go for the TKO over a submission, Moraga took the fight to the mat early by using the cage to execute a suplex. Instead of looking for a limb, he let loose with elbows and punches, seeking capitulation from Mokhtarian. When that didn’t come, Moraga tried again for the armbar and took mount when Mokhtarian defended. Moraga tried one last time to take home a tap, but couldn’t finish a rear-naked choke and wound up on bottom by the final bell.

Mokhtarian’s octagon debut marks the end of a six-fight win streak earned on the international circuit.

Up-to-the-minute UFC Fight Night 110 results:

For more on UFC Fight Night 110, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

John Moraga enters UFC-Auckland starving for win over newcomer Ashkan Mokhtarian

Filed under: News, UFC, Videos

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND – When John Moraga steps in the octagon at UFC Fight Night 110 it will be just shy of 30 months since he last had his hand raised.

That might as well be a lifetime for the former UFC flyweight title challenger. And with three consecutive losses, he could be fighting for his spot on the roster.

Moraga (16-6 MMA, 5-5 UFC), who welcomes newcomer Ashkan Mokhtarian (13-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC) to the promotion on Saturday’s FS1-televised card following prelims on UFC Fight Pass at Spark Arena in Auckland, New Zealand, almost thought his time was over with the UFC once before. He said he was informed of his release, but then the latest opportunity came up.

“There was concern (I would be released). There was even a point where they called me and told me I was going to be let go,” Moraga told MMAjunkie. “I took the last fight (against Sergio Pettis in January) on short notice. I don’t know if that had anything to do with it. They gave me another chance, and I’m going to make the most of it.”

Although the record shows a three-fight skid, Moraga, No. 12 in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA flyweight rankings, has largely lost to elite opposition. He’s fallen short against the likes of Pettis, Joseph Benavidez, John Dodson, and current pound-for-pound king Demetrious Johnson. Regardless of the level of competition, dropping multiple fights in a row is never a positive.

Moraga said the only way to break out of the slump is to continue to train hard and put forth a maximum effort in the octagon. He can’t completely brush off the reality of what another loss would do to his career, but Moraga said he expects the pressure to bring out his peak form.

“I can’t dwell on it, but I know what it is,” Moraga said. “At the end of the day, we go out there and fight, and this guy better be ready for a fight. … I haven’t won in three years, so when I don’t win I’m not very easy on myself. I think I do my best when I’m under pressure, when my back’s against the wall.”

After fighting a long line of the top names at 125 pounds, Moraga takes what appears to be a needed step back in competition against a debuting fighter. Despite the fact he’s never fought in the UFC, Moraga said he’s taking Mokhtarian as seriously as any other opponent.

Given what both men have experienced to this point in their careers, “Chicano” said he’s confident in his chances.

“I didn’t know anything about him; there’s not much to research about him,” Moraga said. “He hasn’t fought anybody like me. He hasn’t fight anybody that’s really up there in the world that’s also fought the other guys. I don’t think he knows what to expect, either. Unless you’re really in there with the top guys, and they’re fighting you back and things might not be going your way, we don’t know how he’s going to react or how he’s going to adjust. We’ll find out.”

For more on UFC Fight Night 110, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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