Category Archives: Jose Aldo

Conor McGregor '100 percent' still considers himself both UFC lightweight, featherweight champ

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Filed under: Featured, News, UFC

Conor McGregor’s message to the UFC is still “you’re fooling nobody.”

Although the UFC lightweight champion hasn’t appeared in the octagon since last November and has never defended either of the two tiles he’s won, McGregor said he “100 percent” considers himself the champion of both divisions.

“I mean, how can I not consider myself the UFC featherweight world champion and the UFC lightweight world champion?” McGregor (21-3 MMA, 9-1 UFC) said Wednesday during a conference call promoting his foray into boxing against Floyd Mayweather (49-0 boxing) on Aug. 26 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

When it comes to his status in the UFC, McGregor’s reasoning is simple: He owns the 155-pound title and has beat the guy holding the 145-pound belt.

“The current UFC (featherweight) champion is Max Holloway, a man I dismantled. And the former was Jose Aldo. I still reign supreme over that division. And then also the 155-pound division. I know there’s talk of an interim belt. I won that belt and literally one month later there was an interim scheduled.

“But it is what it is. Everyone knows I am the multiple world champion of the UFC featherweight division and lightweight division. I look forward to coming back and continuing where I left off.”

As McGregor’s boxing conquest draws nearer, the UFC plans to crown a new interim lightweight champion after an ill-fated attempt earlier this year. Tony Ferguson will get his second shot at gold when he faces Kevin Lee at UFC 216, which takes place Oct. 7 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

Ferguson was scheduled to fight for the interim belt in March at UFC 209, but opponent Khabib Nurmagomedov was forced to withdraw the day before after being hospitalized due to a bad weight cut. Ferguson and Nurmagomedov both have tried to talk their way into a fight with McGregor, no doubt seeking the lightweight title and a lucrative payout with the UFC’s biggest draw.

McGregor is expected to take home at least $75 million for his boxing match with Mayweather, who on Tuesday said he’ll make a staggering $350 million if the event sells as planned.

Holloway isn’t pining for McGregor’s return. In fact, he thinks the Irish champ won’t ever fight MMA again after making such a huge payday against Mayweather. A title defense against ex-lightweight champ Frankie Edgar is likely next on Holloway’s list.

So, the 145-pound and 155-pound classes are moving on in McGregor’s wake. He left quite a stamp on both.

For more on “The Money Fight: Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor,” check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

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Source: MMA Junkie

Cub Swanson has interesting response to ex-champ Jose Aldo's sudden interest in rematch

Cub Swanson has heard about Jose Aldo’s interest in fighting him. And he feels some type of way about the timing of it.

Nearly two months after a title-costing TKO loss to Max Holloway at UFC 212, former featherweight champ Aldo (26-3 MMA, 8-2 UFC) said he would like an octagon return before November – and that, as far as targets go, Swanson (25-7 MMA, 10-3 UFC) would fit the bill.

The meeting, of course, would be a rematch – their first bout, which took place over eight years at WEC 41, ended in less than 10 seconds thanks to Aldo’s perfectly-placed knees. Now, Aldo’s the one coming off a loss. And Swanson is riding a four-fight streak – including two “Fight of the Night” battles – since his own loss to Holloway and has been making the case for his first UFC title shot.

In light of this turn of events, Swanson took to Twitter – and the ancient art of GIF expression – to issue a response.

The matchup does carry some logic, though. Despite Swanson’s pleas, it seems like former lightweight champion Frankie Edgar will be the one challenging for Holloway’s 145-pound belt. And, currently ranked No. 6 in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA featherweight rankings, Swanson could do worse than No. 2 Aldo.

Aldo, in turn, would be involved in his first non-title fight since he joined the UFC as its original 145-pound champion back in 2011. He’s now lost two of his past three fights – a UFC 200 win over Frankie Edgar sandwiched in between the TKO to Holloway and a knockout to lightweight champ Conor McGregor.

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.

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

Jon Jones and a history of 2-time UFC champions

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Filed under: Blue Corner, Featured Videos, UFC

Claiming a UFC championship belt is one of the most difficult accomplishments in MMA. Doing it twice, however, is almost otherworldly.

Jon Jones (23-1 MMA, 17-1 UFC) became the latest to join the short-list of fighters to win a UFC title in the same weight class on two different occasions this past Saturday when he defeated Daniel Cormier (19-2 MMA, 8-2 UFC) by third-round knockout to reclaim the light heavyweight belt in the UFC 214 headliner.

“Bones” became the eighth fighter in UFC history to reign over a division on two occasions, and if his post-fight comments are any indication, the second run is going to be ever better than the first, which was one of the most dominant ever.

Here’s a rundown of the group Jones joined with his third-round knockout of Cormier at UFC 214, which took place at Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif., with a main card on pay-per-view following prelims on FXX and UFC Fight Pass.

* * * *

Randy Couture (heavyweight and light heavyweight)

Randy Couture

Not only was Couture (19-11 MMA, 16-8 UFC) the first to become a two time UFC champion, but he did it twice in both the heavyweight and light heavyweight divisions. “The Natural” first won heavyweight gold at UFC Japan in December 1997. His second reign began at UFC 28 in November 2000. Years later, Couture dropped to 205 pounds where he had title reigns in September 2003 and August 2004. Then he won the heavyweight title again in 2007, making him a three-time heavyweight champ – though one whose first ride with that belt was vacated.

Tim Sylvia (heavyweight)

Sylvia (31-10 MMA, 10-4 UFC) first became UFC heavyweight champion in February 2003. A failed drug test caused him to be stripped of the gold. However, he came back to win the belt more than three years later before he dropped it to Couture at UFC 68 in March 2007.

Cain Velasquez (heavyweight)

Cain Velasquez

The first run of Velasquez (14-2 MMA, 12-2 UFC) as UFC champ came to an abrupt end when he was knocked out by Junior dos Santos in just 64 seconds at the inaugural UFC on FOX event in November 2011. He stormed back to take the belt in the rematch when he battered Dos Santos at UFC 155 in December 2012 to set up his second run as champion.

Jon Jones (light heavyweight)

One can only wonder what Jones’ career would currently look like had he not been stripped of the title following a run eight consecutive title defenses due to a series of outside-the-cage indiscretions. The road back to a second shot at UFC gold was tumultuous, but he made the most of it by beating his biggest rival in Cormier to claim the strap.

Matt Hughes (welterweight)

Matt Hughes

Hughes (45-9 MMA, 18-7 UFC) first became UFC welterweight champion in May 2001 when he took the belt from Carlos Newton at UFC 31 in one of the closest instances of a double knockout in UFC history. He defended five consecutive times before losing it to B.J. Penn. However, when Penn was stripped of the title for leaving the organization, Hughes immediately snatched it back up at UFC 46 in January 2004.

Georges St-Pierre (welterweight)

Georges St-Pierre

The heir to Hughes’ welterweight throne was St-Pierre (25-2 MMA, 19-2 UFC), who forced a changing of the guard at 170 pounds when he beat Hughes at UFC 65 in November 2006. “Rush” would drop the gold to Matt Serra at UFC 69 in April 2007 in one of the biggest upsets in UFC history. The French-Canadian proved he was superior in the rematch, though, taking the belt back from Serra at UFC 83 in April 2008.

Jose Aldo (featherweight)

Aldo (26-3 MMA, 8-2 UFC) is the only fighter on this list who had two different UFC title reigns without ever actually winning the belt inside the octagon. He first run at 145-pound champ came when he was promoted from WEC titleholder in November 2010, and his second reign six years later was the result of being promoted from interim champion after Conor McGregor was stripped.

Dominick Cruz (bantamweight)

Similar to Aldo above, Cruz’s (22-2 MMA, 5-1 UFC) first stint as UFC champion stemmed from him being promoted from a WEC titleholder when the division was folded into the UFC late 2010. “The Dominator” had his time as champion completely derailed due to a long series of injuries, and he was forced to finally vacate in January 2014. One of the most spectacular comeback stories in the sport’s history saw him rally from those dark times and reclaim the title with a victory over T.J. Dillashaw in January 2016.

For more on UFC 214, 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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Filed under: Blue Corner, Featured Videos, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

Ex-champ Jose Aldo wants to be back by November, sees Cub Swanson as possibility

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Almost two months after his title-costing loss to Max Holloway at UFC 212, former featherweight kingpin Jose Aldo already has a desired timeframe for his octagon return.

In what was only the second loss of his UFC tenure, Aldo (26-3 MMA, 8-2 UFC) succumbed to a third-round TKO by the hands of Holloway (18-3 MMA, 14-3 UFC) in a title-unifying headliner in front of his home crowd of Rio de Janeiro. While Aldo was visibly distraught as he left the octagon, he went on to issue a forward-looking statement vowing to be back shortly after.

This past Friday, speaking to Combate.com in Rio, Aldo said he wants that to happen before November. And he thinks a former foe, whom he defeated via flying knee in the now-defunct WEC more than eight years ago, could be it.

“I asked to fight again until November, tops, because in the past few years I’ve gone a long time without fighting and I think that hindered me a lot,” Aldo said. “But we’re already talking to them so that we can return until November. I think we will go by the rankings.

“I think Cub (Swanson) is a great opponent that we can meet now in order to get back on a winning path.”

Swanson (25-7 MMA, 10-3 UFC), who’s currently riding a four-fight streak, has been angling for a title shot of his own. But, though nothing has been officially booked yet, both Holloway’s manager and UFC president Dana White have indicated that ex-lightweight-champ Frankie Edgar (22-5-1 MMA, 16-5-1 UFC) will most likely take on the current champ next.

Aldo is currently the No. 2 fighter in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA featherweight rankings, while Swanson sits at the No. 6 spot.

With an immediate rematch seemingly out of the picture, this will be Aldo’s first UFC fight with no title implications. A former WEC champ who also ended up being the UFC’s inaugural 145-pound champ, he defended his title seven times before the 13-second loss to current lightweight titleholder Conor McGregor at UFC 194.

His following fight, a rematch against Edgar at UFC 200, had the interim title on the line. After claiming that belt, and being restituted as undisputed champ after McGregor relinquished the 145-pound throne, he went on to lose to Holloway. Coming into a fight with less pressure, however, might just end up being a nice change of pace for both Aldo and the audience.

“I think it does take some of the weight – we can go in there and take risks, as usual,” Aldo said. “I’ve always respected every athlete, but now we get to be the ‘snipers’ (term used in soccer to refer to the team that has fewer expectations of winning and, therefore, less pressure) again. We get to do great, exciting fights, which I think is what the fans expect from me.”

While Holloway did bring up the heat in some of the lead-up for the match with Aldo, he kept a respectful attitude toward the longtime ex-champ both after the fight – going on to issue a heartfelt statement praising the Brazilian featherweight.

Of course Aldo isn’t exactly happy with the loss. But combine Holloway’s attitude with the fact that, unlike what happened with McGregor, he actually got to show some fight this time, Aldo seems to be somewhat at peace with the circumstances.

“It was very different,” Aldo said. “This time we got to fight, we got to show something. Max is a guy who earned the win, he has his merits, he credentialed himself. He came to Brazil, fought respectfully and won.

“To me, that’s a true athlete. I respect him and I’m glad the belt is in his hands. Of course, we’d still like to be champion, but we can accept that a great athlete took over.”

The 30-year-old athlete also dismissed the weight of age when it comes to the recent knockout results of a career that went undefeated for an entire decade – and which, before that, only showed a submission loss.

“The Conor fight was a knockout, but this last one wasn’t a knockout,” Aldo said. “(Holloway) connected a good shot, we absorbed it well, I took a beating for practically two minutes of the fight. Still, I didn’t go out. I talked to (referee) ‘Big’ John (McCarthy), saying that I was all right, but he didn’t think I was defending myself at the time and stopped the fight.

“But I think that’s part of it. There’s no way – you can be young or old, when the blow lands in the right place, there’s no way.”

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

Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

Twitter Mailbag: Does McGregor stand a chance? And what's the MMAJA for, anyway?

In this week’s Twitter Mailbag, let’s be serious now that the fight is set: Does Conor McGregor have any realistic chance of beating Floyd Mayweather? Even a little? Plus, what does the MMA Journalists Association hope to do, now that it’s a real thing? And is it worth waking up early on Saturday morning to see Holly Holm vs. Bethe Correia?

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

The number of times in the past 24 hours I’ve been asked some version of this question by friends who don’t follow MMA or boxing helps to explain how and why this fight got made. It’s ridiculous, when you think about it. But it’s the exact brand of ridiculous that captures our attention, and with it our money, so there’s a good argument to be made that winning or losing isn’t even the point anymore.

If you’re looking for reasons to think that Conor McGregor might actually beat Floyd Mayweather – and, just to be clear, this is if you are actively searching for reasons, scouring the earth for hope in any form – I can give you three.

1. The puncher’s chance
McGregor hits hard, right? This we know. He knocked out Jose Aldo in 13 seconds. He at least annoyed Nate Diaz. If he connects with that left hand, who knows?

The problem is that Mayweather is primarily known as a defensive genius. He doesn’t get hit much, and that’s when he’s up against the best boxers in the world. What good is all that power if you can’t lay a glove on the guy? And if the glove you’re wearing is of the boxing variety, which comes with significantly more padding, will the power still be as devastating?

2. The positive thinker’s chance
Let’s take a moment and appreciate what McGregor has done. Just a few years ago he was an Internet stream fighter from Ireland talking all kinds of outlandish mess. He was effectively a nobody who kept saying he was going to beat the greatest featherweight of all time. Many of us didn’t believe him, of course, but he turned out to be right. Then he said he was going to take the lightweight title, too, which he did. After that he set his sights on Mayweather, and here we are.

If you’re looking to sell DVDs of “The Secret” right now, McGregor is your huckleberry. This whole thing feels like a manifestation of his thoughts. Is the physical world an illusion? Are we all just characters in McGregor’s opioid dream? I mean, I don’t think so, but at this point I have to at least question it.

Then again, this whole scenario I’ve just laid out? The one in which he wins because he thinks good thoughts and the universe sees that and therefore he gets everything he wants? That’s insane. That is literally some stuff that people shout about on public transportation. So let’s just say I wouldn’t place a bet based on this alone.

3. The “Great White Hype” chance
This situation mirrors the underrated 1996 sports comedy film in a lot of ways. White guy with no professional boxing matches is somehow sanctioned (in Las Vegas) to take on a dominant black champion. This time the white guy actually is Irish, though the dominant champion is significantly less likable than Damon Wayons.

The movie’s 20 years old so I guess I’m not spoiling it by telling you that the white guy loses. Still, he kind of almost wins, mainly because the champion barely bothers to prepare for the fight.

I guess that could happen here. So sure of his victory, and comfortable in his pseudo-retirement, Mayweather might not put in the toughest training camp. Though it’s worth mentioning that in the movie all it takes is for the improbable challenger to land one good shot – his signature punch is the overhand right rather than the straight left, but still – and then the champ gets mad enough to pull it together. After that, “Danny Boy” becomes a slow, sad dirge.

I get what Joe Lauzon is saying. Sort of. The UFC made this deal with Reebok, and that deal cost many fighters many thousands of dollars. They got no say in it whatsoever, even though lots of them were in the middle of UFC contracts that they’d signed with a certain understanding about sponsor income, only to have that completely obliterated while their end of the contractual obligations remained.

Still, shouldn’t that make them mad at the UFC instead of Reebok? What good does it do to trash Reebok in public? That’s not going to put any more money in fighters’ pockets.

I definitely see the logic in that argument, but where do you go from there? Docile acceptance doesn’t seem like it’s going to change anything. Politely asking the UFC to give you more of the money that Reebok gave it also seems like a strategy with limited chances for success.

Some fighters seem to think that the only way forward is to be a good soldier and trust that the money will flow in the end. But it doesn’t. People don’t give money away unless they have to. So if you want more money, the question becomes how to make people feel like they have to. Maybe bashing Reebok on Facebook or Twitter won’t do it, but it’s fair to ask what will.

I’d be considerably more interested if Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 111 event didn’t start at 2:30 a.m. in the One True Time Zone. That’s the exact worst time! Should I stay up on Friday night and try to make it all the way to the main event at roughly 8 a.m. Saturday morning? Or do I try to go to bed early and set an alarm for bar closing time? What a conundrum.

But I admit, I am interested. Holly Holm is in such a strange place in her career right now. She dethroned Ronda Rousey and then sat on top of the world for about 15 minutes before it all came crashing down.

Now she’s somehow lost three in a row, including two title fights. How did it come to that? Holm is better than this … isn’t she? Style-wise, a fight with Bethe Correia right now seems designed to help her prove it. If she can’t pass that test, I hesitate to think of what comes next.

Simple stuff, mostly. Establishing members. Electing officers. Agreeing on a code of conduct. I think those are all attainable goals by the end of our first year.

A lot of people have asked why MMA journalists need an association in the first place. One reason is strength through unity. As we’ve seen in the past, some fight promoters like to isolate and bully journalists who do work they don’t like, even when that work is literally the journalist’s job. In instances like that, an association allows you to speak with one strong voice in response, and that would be very useful in this sport.

But just as importantly is the ability to establish standards within the industry. MMA is a young sport, which means MMA journalism is also a young occupation. Just as the sport grew up in public view, thanks to the Internet, so did the reporting on it. We’ve made mistakes. Hopefully we’ve learned from them.

I think we’ve also seen that when other MMA media members (or even just MMA media hopefuls) are trying to figure out what to do or not do, they’re looking around at each other, at their colleagues, at us. We are setting standards whether we mean to or not, so we should work to consciously set good ones. An association helps us not only set those standards, but also put something behind them. That will hopefully improve the media environment and the end product.

This effort started as a big group, in sputters and starts, and then the authority to push it forward was delegated to small group, those of us who you see as the initial interim officers on the website. But this isn’t our thing. It doesn’t belong to us. Once we have our first election, members can choose whoever they want to fill those roles, and those of us who have been involved in the long, tedious process just to get to this point might not mind a break from those positions.

The important thing is that the association lasts, and that it doesn’t lose sight of its goals. It doesn’t matter who gets to put their names on it. It matters that it works.

My experience helping to establish the MMAJA mostly taught me that this is a lot harder than it looks. It’s time-consuming. It’s boring. It’s frustrating.

On the flip side, you get to learn new stuff about your colleagues. I was surprised at some of the people who turned out to be valuable allies in making this happen. I was pleased at their ability to put aside differences and work together. It’s not always easy for competitors to become teammates on something like this, and I’d imagine that dynamic is many times tougher for pro fighters than it is for pro writers.

That said, their situation is very different from ours. We had the support of our employers and a lot of very generous legal and logistical help from the people at Vox Media, and it still wasn’t easy or quick. Fighters have more working against them, but in the end they may also have more to gain.

I like the existing Bellator commentary team, so I can’t say that that’s where I was hoping to see the company spend its money. Still, Mauro Ranallo is a good pickup for any combat sports broadcast and I look forward to seeing what he adds to Bellator.

It’s the Mike Goldberg hire that stumps me. Is Bellator hoping to trick people into thinking they’re watching the UFC? Is it part of a prolonged effort to court the viewers who liked the UFC when it was on Spike TV but not enough to follow it to another channel?

I know some people really liked Goldberg on UFC broadcasts. I didn’t. Especially later in his run, he seemed uninterested in learning anything new about the sport or the athletes in it, up to and including the proper pronunciation of their names. He was basically a human speak-and-spell, repeating the same phrases and banal observations.

But that’s just my opinion, and opinions on commentators can vary wildly. Maybe to some people the voice of Mike Goldberg is what big time MMA sounds like. Just seems to me like Bellator might be going a step too far in recycling the UFC’s castoffs.

Wait, is 10 the most crazy? Or is that the most sane? Regardless, I’ll put him right in the middle at about a five. Cub Swanson is smart enough to know that the metric you’re using – you know, wins and losses and common opponents – is the old way. The UFC doesn’t do it like that anymore. Now you just have to prove that you can sell. And a Swanson-Holloway title fight? I’d buy that.

If Frankie Edgar claims a second UFC title in a second division, he’ll have to go down as one of the best fighters and greatest overperformers in MMA history, especially when you consider that he’s probably undersized for both divisions.

Old Man Edgar is also 35, so taking the belt off a man a decade younger would be a huge feel-good story for what we are led to believe is the UFC’s aging demographic. If nothing else, maybe that would land him a Life Alert sponsorship or something.

In fairness to Jose Aldo and Andre Pederneiras, it’s not just when Aldo loses that we get to hear about his injuries. We’ve seen detailed images of the man’s ribs, heard tales of his many training woes, and that’s when he was one of the most dominant champs in the UFC.

Still, the time when people are least interested in hearing about your injuries is in the month or so following a big loss. And if you’re going to tell us how hurt you are, don’t make it some boring leg injury. Go cracked skull or go home.

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

Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

Andre Pederneiras: Ex-champ Jose Aldo dealt with leg injury during UFC 212 camp for Holloway

After Jose Aldo’s title-costing TKO loss to Max Holloway at UFC 212, one of the main questions was why the ex-champ didn’t throw his famously destructive leg kicks.

According to coach Andre Pederneiras, a leg injury was at the root of it. During a live broadcast at the FOX Fight Club Facebook page on Monday, Pederneiras talked about issues in Aldo’s (26-3 MMA, 8-2 UFC) camp, revealing the ex-champ had to abstain from kicking during training for the UFC 212 headliner against Holloway (18-3 MMA, 14-3 UFC) in Rio de Janeiro nine days ago.

“Many people ask why he didn’t throw kicks – Aldo had a leg injury, so he couldn’t do any kicking throughout the camp; he couldn’t run, do any of that,” Pederneiras said in his native Portuguese. “Not that it takes away from Max Holloway and his win – we’re not saying that at all – but many people asked why he didn’t kick.

“It’s funny, because every round, I’d step down (from the octagon) and the crowd would be like, ‘Tell him to kick!’ and I’d say, ‘OK, hang on’ and I’d turn around and only us in the corner knew. We were really avoiding the kicks because of this injury. We were afraid (the muscle) would tear there.

“So we spent the entire camp working on boxing, takedowns and the ground. Since Aldo felt good in the first two rounds with the boxing – he won the first two – he said he’d keep it going there until a point in which he could take (Holloway) down, without worrying too much about taking him down then. But then a punch landed, and then it all fell apart.”

Injuries had forced Aldo out of scraps before – including an infamous rib one in what would have been his first encounter with current lightweight titleholder Conor McGregor, at UFC 189. What made them stick with this one, Pederneiras explained, was that the ex-champ was actually able to train with the proper injury management and adjustments.

“Could he do boxing practice? Yes. Could he do wrestling practice? Yes. Could he do ground practice? Yes,” Pederneiras said. “But, for instance, when he kicked, or defended a takedown in which he put a lot of strain in the leg, he felt it a lot. So we adapted it, and he was able to train. Even though we didn’t get him to throw kicks, or do sprints – we opted to do other types of work to make up for that. And he was able to maintain and carry on.

“In the final week, we did some kicking, but we didn’t force it too much because it was too last minute and also it wouldn’t be that useful. And we believed that, the way he was going, that he’d be able to win the fight with his boxing. And that’s what was happening.”

Pederneiras clarified they weren’t making any excuses for the loss, going on to congratulate the “humble and respectful” Holloway for the third-round TKO win at Rio’s Jeunesse Arena. While the coach, in hindsight, believes the fight could have gone longer, he also understands the stoppage by referee John McCarthy, and said they fully expect a new stab at the title in the not-so-distant future.

Check out a translation of Pederneira’s explanation below:

Aldo came into the fight well, we did all the preparation. But athletes walk into every fight with some type of injury, things like that. Aldo, no different than everyone else, had that. Many people ask why he didn’t throw kicks – Aldo had a leg injury, so he couldn’t do any kicking throughout the camp, he couldn’t run, do any of that. Not that it takes away from Max Holloway and his win, we’re not saying that at all, but many people asked why he didn’t kick. It’s funny, because every round, I’d step down (from the octagon) and the crowd would be like, ‘Tell him to kick!’ and I’d say ‘OK, hang on’ and I’d turn around and only us in the corner knew. We were really avoiding the kicks because of this injury. We were afraid (the muscle) would tear there. So we spent the entire camp working the boxing, takedowns and the ground. Since Aldo felt good in the first two rounds with the boxing, he won the first two, he said he’d keep it going there until a point in which he could take him down, without worrying too much about taking him down then. But then a punch landed and it all fell apart. It’s part of fighting – hats off to Max, he did his job. He saw a moment in which Aldo felt the blow and left no chance for Aldo to recover.

Watching the fight, we saw it could have gone on a little longer, maybe if the round had concluded he could have recovered. Or not, there’s no telling. Of course, when someone gets punched in the head a lot, you can’t tell how he’s going to come back for the next round. (Aldo) says he was feeling well and the blows that he was taking by the end, when ‘Big John’ stopped it, were blows that Max was only throwing to show the ref that he was beating him up and (Aldo) wasn’t responding. (Aldo) says he even gave the thumbs up to let ‘Big John’ know. But the rule is clear: If you’re in the same position, not attempting to get out of it, the ref has the right to stop it. And that’s what ‘Big John’ did. Not blaming ‘Big John’ at all for having interrupted it at that time.

But that’s part of fighting. It’s what I tell all of my athletes: ‘You’re going in there, you can either lose or win.’ The only one who’s going to tell you what’s going to happen is God, who’s going to tell you go this way or that way. That day, God wanted Max to be champion. Congratulations to Max, who’s an amazing person. (Who’s) a humble and respectful person. We expect a rematch, for sure. But Aldo will probably have to do a fight before a title rematch. In a possible fight between Holloway and (ex-lightweight-champ Frankie) Edgar, I don’t know if it will be Holloway or Edgar in the event of Aldo winning his next fight. It’s a very tough fight. Edgar is a very experienced fighter, very well-rounded, who’s a handful for anyone in the division.

A few positions, especially the kicks, he felt a lot. So we carried on training slower so it wouldn’t burst. Could he do boxing practice? Yes. Could he do wrestling practice? Yes. Could he do ground practice? Yes. But, for instance, when he kicked, or defended a takedown in which he put a lot of strain in the leg, he felt it a lot. So we adapted it, and he was able to train. Even though we didn’t get him to throw kicks, or do sprints – we opted to do other types of work to make up for that. And he was able to maintain and carry on. In the final week, we did some kicking, but we didn’t force it too much because it was too last minute and also it wouldn’t be that useful. And we believed that, the way he was going, that he’d be able to win the fight with his boxing. And that’s what was happening. We adapted it and we noticed he could still train well. Unlike the other times, in which he couldn’t even train.”

For more on UFC 212, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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Source: MMA Junkie

Max Holloway's open-hand slap of Jose Aldo featured in UFC 212's 'Thrill and Agony'

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Did you see that open-hand slap in this past Saturday’s UFC 212 main event? The cameras caught it for the latest installment of “Thrill and Agony.”

The UFC’s “Thrill and Agony” videos take us up close and behind the scenes of pay-per-view events, and at UFC 212 on June 3, it was all about the headliner.

In a featherweight title-unification bout, interim champion Max Holloway (18-3 MMA, 14-3 UFC) dethroned Jose Aldo (26-3 MMA, 8-2 UFC) with a third-round TKO in the featured pay-per-view bout in Rio de Janeiro.

Holloway overcame an early deficit before his sustained ground-and-pound assault forced the stoppage. But earlier in the fight, Holloway appeared to land an open-hand slap on the Brazilian hero.

In “Thrill and Agony,” Holloway discusses that specific moment – and how he trolled referee “Big” John McCarthy a bit to do it.

Check it out above. “Thrill and Agony” also captures the emotional aftermath of the big title fight, including cageside reactions and backstage celebrations.

The video is a preview of “Thrill and Agony,” which is available in its entirety on UFC Fight Pass.

For more on UFC 212, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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Source: MMA Junkie

Twitter Mailbag: Mark Hunt's future, Max Holloway's first title defense, and more

Where will Mark Hunt go from here? Who should get the next UFC title shot at featherweight? Should WME-IMG be worried about whether or not Dana White is the right man to lead them into the future?

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

* * * *

Mark Hunt signed a six-fight deal just last year, so new contracts aren’t the big concern right now. For the moment, he’s got to worry about Derrick Lewis throwing those hammers at his head in New Zealand this Saturday at UFC Fight Night 110, but at least Lewis has to worry about the exact same thing in more or less equal measure.

The good news for Hunt here is that, after all his concern about being forced to fight opponents with a history of performance-enhancing drug use, here he can be mostly certain that his opponent isn’t on anything stronger than Fritos.

This is my favorite kind of heavyweight fight, honestly, pitting one fat guy bruiser against another. It feels like it could have taken place in the muck of the Deadwood thoroughfare, on the undercard of Dan Doherty vs. The Captain.

This is a big part of Hunt’s value to the UFC right now. He’s got an exciting style, fans love him, and he serves as a good, though at times limited test for up-and-comers in the heavyweight class. Plus, even in his declining years he can still headline a card in Auckland, and you better believe I’m not going to miss a chance to see it.

As for where he goes from here? Probably back into the cage again as soon as he can. He’s not getting any younger, and the new deal he signed pays pretty handsomely. There are worse fates for a UFC fighter in his 40s.

Either this is a genie with very specific and limited powers, or else I have made a really poor choice on the use of my wishes. But fine, for the sake of the hypothetical, here’s what I would ask of the great genie:

1. Anderson Silva

Because why not, right? Old vs. old. Brazilian vs. Brazilian. Run it back one last time to complete Vitor Belfort’s UFC contract. And then…

2. Chael Sonnen

Assuming the bad guy is willing to put some effort into selling the fight, this could be fun. You know, prior to the bell.

3. Fedor Emelianenko

This one might have to take place in Japan on New Year’s Eve, and I imagine by then Belfort may have found some way to return to the physique he had circa 2012.

4. Guy in a Cartoon Character Mask

Also in Japan. Because if we’re going to get stupid, let’s at least get fun-stupid.

5. Phil ‘CM Punk’ Brooks

After all that, the man deserves to go out on his own terms.

Maybe, but let’s not act like size explains everything here. Yes, Conor McGregor and Max Holloway are both relatively big for featherweight, and definitely bigger than Jose Aldo, who’s about average. But McGregor went on to claim the lightweight title and Holloway was on a 10-fight winning streak coming into his fight with Aldo, so they’re also both just really good fighters.

My money’s on Frankie Edgar. It’s either him or Cub Swanson, and Holloway’s win over Swanson is only about two years old.

Plus, at 25 you can still paint Holloway as a young gun, even with the title around his waist. He beat one grizzled veteran in Aldo, so why not see if he’s up for a legends butt-whooping tour of his own against old man Edgar next? That’ll give Swanson and the rest of the division more time to sort out a pecking order on their own.

Giving UFC President Dana White a share of the profits is a good way to ensure he puts the new company’s interests first, so that wouldn’t be my big concern. What I’d be worried about is the possibility that maybe he only knows one way to do this job, and maybe it’s not the best way to move the company forward.

Especially lately, we see a paint-by-numbers approach to dissent in the ranks. A fighter won’t do what you want? Run to a friendly media outlet (or a UFC-owned one) and blast him. Fighter complains? Make the case that said fighter isn’t really that good. Fighter wants more money? Hey, even if he is good, people don’t pay to see him (which may or may not be related to how many times you’ve told us he isn’t that good).

White’s primary value to the UFC has been his ability to be a bombastically quotable figure capable of hammering a narrative until it becomes true. It’s also his ability to be a constant. Superstar fighters come and go, but White will always be there, and TMZ will always want to hear what he has to say.

One problem is that the UFC is built on a business model that gives athletes a smaller share of the profits than virtually any other pro sport. That’s bound to breed discontent as fighter awareness increases, and in the past White has been known for heavy-handed responses to fighter complaints. But you can’t cut or bully or threaten or intimidate everyone, so as discontent becomes more common your strategy has to change.

Is White capable of that sort of change? I don’t know. If I were a WME-IMG executive, I’d sure hope so.

I like the general idea of referees having a more open dialogue with fans, since I’m sure we could all benefit from a clearer understanding of the rules and the thought processes that officials go through. My concern is that any referee who tried it would quickly become fed up with it, because who wants to spend their time arguing with people who may or may not understand how any of this is supposed to work?

It reminds me of what former UFC matchmaker Joe Silva told me when I asked why he wasn’t active on Twitter or any of the MMA forums. It wasn’t because he didn’t want to engage with fans or answer critics, he said. It was because he knew that if he let himself get started arguing with people, he’d never stop. It would consume his days. And who wants that?

Someone must care about Demetrious Johnson, judging by how much time we’ve all spent talking about him this week. But I think his lack of broader appeal is due in part to a one-size-fits-all approach to fight promotion.

It’s not just the UFC that’s guilty of it. Notice how you jumped right to a McGregor comparison? It’s like we’ve become convinced that the only way for a fighter to sell is by becoming a pro-wrestling cartoon character.

That’s the easiest way, painting in broad, familiar strokes so that even the people in the cheap seats can see, but there are other ways to do it. “Mighty Mouse” isn’t that guy, but he’s still an interesting guy, as anyone who’s interviewed him lately can tell you. It’s just a matter of figuring out what to do with that. One thing I can tell you is that it’s a poor salesman who tries the same approach every time, and then gives up and blames the product when it doesn’t work.

The UFC has toyed with something like that in various informal ways in the past. Back when those UFC Fight Night events on Spike were a relatively new thing, you’d see a clear progression as fighters graduated from cable to pay-per-view. More recently, you’ve seen it on those UFC Fight Pass-only prelims and events. Even “The Ultimate Fighter,” in addition to being an extremely long-running piece of TV content for the UFC, has provided a steady stream of new talent.

This is a more explicit version of that model, and that seems like the better way to go. We’ve seen the slow erosion of meaning in terms like “UFC-caliber” over the years. Now, instead of gobbling up more talent than it can reasonably use all under the same banner, the UFC is coming right out and admitting that what we’re about to see is a glorified tryout.

That helps gives those bouts added meaning, and lends an easy narrative to those who emerge from the process. As with “TUF,” it probably also helps the UFC lock young talent into contracts before they have too much bargaining power. So there’s that, too.

I don’t even think it’s in the top three reasons for it, and at the moment I’m not even prepared to call it an “exodus,” at least not of top fighters.

A lot of the fighters who have jumped from the UFC to Bellator are guys who felt like their options were diminishing inside the octagon, and the appreciation they felt they’d earned just wasn’t there.

Take Rory MacDonald, for instance. He broke his whole face giving us that epic title fight with Robbie Lawler, and afterward what did he have to show for it? He lost, so the UFC started looking at him like he was UFC Fight Night fodder, and no one could realistically tell him what he’d have to do to change that.

If you’re looking for recurring factors in some of these defections, start there. How do you make serious money as a UFC fighter? For a long time the answer was simple – win a title. But how do you get a title shot? And if you’ve already had one and lost, how do you get another one?

Winning the fights isn’t always enough to significantly advance your career anymore. Just ask Lorenz Larkin. If a fighter is unsatisfied with his pay, the UFC can’t sit him down and believably say, “X performance will lead to Y compensation.”

That’s why I think some fighters are rethinking their stance on Bellator. For some, it’s the MMA version of a lucrative old folks’ home. But for others, the ones closer to their prime, it’s a chance to have their past accomplishments really mean something. Because unlike the UFC, Bellator doesn’t have many of those kinds of fighters to choose from.

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

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

Cub Swanson wants title shot with Max Holloway; '100 percent' would've got it if Jose Aldo won

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

Cub Swanson is 13 years and 32 fights into his pro career, and “I’ve never been better than I am right now,” he said.

That’s why, he told MMAjunkie Radio, “All I’m asking for is the opportunity.”

The opportunity? A title shot, which thus far has been elusive during his decade-plus in the WEC and UFC.

However, Swanson’s time could be here. Or maybe it’s here (again) for multi-time title challenger and former champion Frankie Edgar (22-5-1 MMA, 16-5-1 UFC). We don’t know who’s up first, but it does appear it’ll be either Swanson or Edgar who gets the first crack at new undisputed featherweight champion Max Holloway (18-3 MMA, 14-3 UFC), who dethroned longtime 145-pound great Jose Aldo (26-3 MMA, 8-2 UFC) via third-round TKO this past weekend in UFC 212’s pay-per-view headliner in Rio de Janeiro.

Edgar has made his case for the fight, as has Swanson. In fact, Swanson, who’s No. 6 in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA featherweight rankings, suffered back-to-back submission losses to both No. 3 Edgar and No. 1 Holloway in 2014-2015. Since then, though, the 33-year-old has posted four consecutive victories, which included a decision victory over durable Artem Lobov in UFC Fight Night 108’s recent headliner.

With the way UFC 212 played out, Swanson thinks he deserves the Holloway fight next.

“We both knew going in that if Aldo won, I 100 percent was going to get (the next title shot),” he said. “And then if Max won, it was going to be a tossup between the two of us. That’s just because Frankie never fought Holloway.

“The reason I was going to get it over him either way was just because Frankie has fought for the title a bunch of times. And when you fight for the title a bunch of times and you don’t win, it’s hard to sell that.”

Swanson just hopes his sales pitch isn’t taken as a slight at Edgar, a fan favorite who’s fought nearly every major name at 145 and 155 pounds, though he’s come up short in recent title fights to Aldo and Henderson (both twice).

“I’m not taking anything away from him,” Swanson said. “I respect the guy. I think he’s an amazing fighter. He has a win over me. But since then, I’ve been on a tear. And the fact is he’s 0-4 in his last four title fights.

“That fact you can get that many title fights is crazy. I’m just looking for one. I’ve never had the opportunity, and I’ve been promised multiple times and had it taken away. … All I’m asking for is the opportunity.”

For complete coverage of UFC 212, check out the UFC Events 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: Featured, Featured Videos, News, Radio Highlight, UFC, Videos
Source: MMA Junkie

With his Jose Aldo tribute, Max Holloway is the UFC champ we don't deserve

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Filed under: Featured, News, UFC

Undisputed UFC featherweight champion Max Holloway is the latest fighter to come out with a message of support for dethroned champ Jose Aldo.

Holloway (18-3 MMA, 14-3 UFC) beat Aldo (26-3 MMA, 8-2 UFC) in the third round of this past Saturday’s UFC 212 headliner, unifying the featherweight title and adding an 11th win to his relentless streak. Losing the crown front of the crowd of his adopted Rio de Janeiro home was visibly hard on Aldo, who looked devastated walking out of the octagon.

Holloway carried himself with class after his TKO win, showing respect toward Aldo’s achievements. And, today, the 25-year-old champion took it up a notch with a moving post defending the ex-champ’s legacy and thanking him for serving as an inspiration (via Instagram):

Instagram Photo

“Losing is part of this fight game. Saturday night takes nothing away from his legacy. This is a guy who would show up to his gym sometimes without eating in the last day because he was so damn poor. This is a guy who built the 45 division and became king. This is a guy who found motivation to keep earning what he already had. He defended his throne. For a decade. For honor. For his team. For his countrymen. This is a guy who didn’t start at pole position in this world and look at what he achieved. Brazil needs to celebrate that man. Acai with powered milk and cashews for everyone. He’s a GOAT, and his story will always be an inspiration to me and people of Hawaii. Obrigado, Ze @josealdojunioroficial Obrigado.”

Saturday’s outcome was only Aldo’s second UFC setback, after a title-costing loss to current lightweight champion Conor McGregor. While the 30-year-old fighter wasn’t available for the post-fight press conference, he’s since issued a statement on his own Instagram page vowing to return to the cage.

For more on UFC 212, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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Source: MMA Junkie