Yokota Air Base personnel in Japan motivated by recent visit from UFC fighters

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

When the UFC hits the road, more often than not part of the fight week schedule includes some community outreach.

That was true 10 days ago when the promotion headed to Japan for UFC Fight Night 117. Ahead of the event, several fighters and personalities, including Hall of Famer Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and two-time flyweight title challenger Joseph Benavidez, paid a visit to U.S. military members at Yokota Air Base west of Tokyo.

Col. Kenneth Moss, the 374th Airlift Wing Commander at Yokota Air Base, said visits like that help inspire his forces.

“We’re out here 12 hours away or so from everything that we love in America, and all the people that we love,” Moss told MMAjunkie. “It’s great when America comes to visit us. You cannot imagine the morale boost it is when people see in real life, in the flesh, the people they’ve been rooting for on TV and their heroes. So getting the opportunity to spend time with them and seeing that the people back home still care and remember about everybody who’s forward – it’s fantastic. We’ll ride a little mission improvement here for a few more days, minimum.”

Check out the video above for an inside look at the UFC’s visit to Yokota Air Base.

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

The Blue Corner is MMAjunkie‘s official blog and is edited by Mike Bohn.

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

Title shot? Sure, but Ben Nguyen also happy to welcome T.J. Dillashaw to flyweight

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

A quick win over a former title challenger has opened up an array of possibilities for Ben Nguyen, but in the complicated flyweight division, it’s hard to pinpoint what’s next.

Nguyen walked into his recent UFC Fight Night 110 flyweight bout with “The Ultimate Fighter 24” winner Tim Elliott an underdog, but he walked away with a 49-second submission win and a $50,000 “Performance of the Night” bonus. Life, Nguyen will understandably tell you, is good.

But as bright as Nguyen’s octagon future looks, it’s also up in the air. With flyweight kingpin Demetrious Johnson currently engaged in a public battle with the UFC, the next challenger undefined, and the division’s existence possibly endangered, he has a few scenarios ahead of him.

First, of course, is the ideal one: becoming the 125-pound division’s next title challenger.

“I’ve been doing some reading online, and a lot of people have been speculating and talking,” Nguyen told MMAjunkie Radio. “And people are saying, ‘Ben defeated Tim Elliott, the guy who went the distance with the champ and gave him a pretty tough time. So maybe Ben should have the next shot.’ Especially with all this stupid drama going on with (T.J. Dillashaw) coming down to flyweight, and (UFC President Dana White) threatening to shut down the division.

“Maybe they should just have me jump in. I’ve got the momentum. I’ve got the style. I’ve just beat one of the top guys. So, maybe I’m not too far off. If it was offered to me, obviously I’d have to take it. It makes me really excited, like I could be fighting the champ next.”

While we’ve seen stranger things happen, a title shot doesn’t seem like the most realistic scenario for Nguyen (17-6 MMA, 4-1 UFC), currently ranked No. 5 in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA flyweight rankings. After all, two other possible challengers have been in the forefront of the public dispute all along.

First, there’s No. 5 ranked flyweight Ray Borg (11-2 MMA, 5-2 UFC), whom the champ had accepted to face before things escalated. And then there’s ex-135-pound champ Dillashaw (14-3 MMA, 10-3 UFC) – whom the promotion has been pushing to get a shot at Johnson (26-2-1 MMA, 14-1-1 UFC) in what would be the ex-bantamweight titleholder’s first 125-pound outing.

If it helps clear out the situation, Nguyen would also be happy to meet either of the two in a title-eliminator scenario. Especially considering that he agrees with both Borg and Johnson that Dillashaw must first prove he can actually perform as a flyweight before getting a chance to rule the entire division.

“That’s an option as well, fighting Borg,” Nguyen said. “Fighting T.J., I just think that would be a fun fight. I think T.J. should have a fight with someone else in the flyweight division if he wants to actually fight for the belt – just to see if he can make the weight, if he can even perform at a lower weight class. That way the belt isn’t tied up with someone who might not be able to defend it later on.”

And last but not least, there’s the one who got away: perennial contender Joseph Benavidez. The two-time title challenger was actually slated to be Nguyen’s opponent for UFC Fight Night 110, but he had to pull out a month before the fight due to an injury.

“I still want to fight Joseph Benavidez,” Nguyen said. “I still want that fight so bad. But I know he’s going to be out until next year – I think he said early next year, he’ll be ready then.”

For complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 110, 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 Videos, News, Radio Highlight, UFC, Videos
Source: MMA Junkie

Ben Nguyen still wants 'beatable' Joseph Benavidez after UFC Fight Night 110

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Ben Nguyen may have lost out on the most noteworthy fight of his career, but all things considered, the UFC Fight Night 110 fighter said the alternative is as good as it gets.

Nguyen (16-6 MMA, 3-1 UFC) was originally scheduled to fight Joseph Benavidez (25-4 MMA, 12-2 UFC) at Saturday’s event, but “Joe-B” was forced to withdraw due to an injury. Former title challenger Tim Elliott (14-7-1 MMA, 3-5 UFC) then stepped in as a replacement.

Benavidez has lost only to longtime flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson in the weight class and, with a six-fight winning streak, is widely regarded as the best fighter in the division outside “Mighty Mouse.” Beating Benavidez would have done wonders for Nguyen’s career, but he said Elliott provides plenty of upside.

“It was like waking up from a nightmare; I literally woke up and got the news (Benavidez was out),” Nguyen told MMAjunkie. “I think going from Benavidez to Tim Elliott, it’s still a challenge. He’s a tough guy, and he’s a guy that’s just really determined. Getting kicked out of the UFC then coming back in the fashion he did, it shows he’s in it for a while.”

Elliott’s stock is higher than ever ahead of UFC Fight Night 110, which takes place at Spark Arena in Auckland, New Zealand, with the televised portion of the card on FS1 following early prelims on UFC Fight Pass.

After his UFC release following three straight losses, Elliott returned to the organization in December after winning “The Ultimate Fighter 24.” The reward was an immediate title shot at Johnson. Elliott gave the champion a competitive fight but suffered a decision loss. He rebounded with a “Fight of the Night” victory over Louis Smolka (the only fighter to beat Nguyen in the UFC) at UFC on FOX 24 in April.

Elliott’s unorthodox style makes him one of the most difficult competitors in to prepare for and fight, especially since Nguyen for the matchup on just 32 days’ notice.

“The tricky part was trying to figure him out,” Nguyen said. “If you look at it really closely, his main strength is grappling and ground and pound. He’s really squirmy on the ground. We’re going to try to avoid that as best we can and keep it standing. There’s always that opportunity for takedowns. I just have to feel it out when I get in there. Preparing for him is a challenge because he’s such an awkward fighter.”

Beating Elliott, No. 15 in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA flyweight rankings, would give Nguyen four victories in five UFC appearances. It’s clear UFC matchmakers hold him in high regard after booking him against Benavidez, and Nguyen said he still wants the matchup. Benavidez could be out of action for an extended period after suffering a torn ACL, but Nguyen said he would relish the opportunity to have it happen in the future.

“I think out of all the top people, he’s one of the most beatable,” Nguyen said. “I think he’s got a lot of holes, especially in the standup. His standup is good, but I see a couple holes here and there, and feel like we could have exploited it. He’s really well rounded, but I felt like I could beat him on the feet. I still want that fight.”

If Nguyen can beat Elliott he’d certainly be deserving of a fight with Benavidez, but he may have loftier goals. Nguyen wants a title shot, but the top of the flyweight division is in flux with champ Johnson in a very public dispute with the UFC brass about whether his next defense will come against T.J. Dillashaw or Ray Borg.

UFC officials want Johnson vs. Dillashaw, but several hurdles remain. Nguyen understands why the UFC would want to book that fight. However, he doesn’t think it’s fair to fighters like him for Dillashaw to come into the division and skip the line.

“I would be a little bit offended (with Dillashaw getting an immediate title shot), but at the same time, I think it would be a great fight,” Nguyen said. “I would love to see that fight. I think everyone would like to see that fight.”

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

Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie