Alistair Overeem vs. Francis Ngannou booked as UFC 218 co-headliner in Detroit

UFC heavyweight prospect Francis Ngannou won’t get a title shot, but he will get an ex-champion.

Ngannou (10-1 MMA, 5-0 UFC), who lost a spot on UFC 215 when Junior Dos Santos was flagged for a potential anti-doping violation, will meet the man he called out as a fill-in: Alistair Overeem (43-15 MMA, 8-4 UFC).

The UFC today announced the bout between Ngannou and Overeem, which will take co-headline UFC 218. The Dec. 2 event from Little Caesar’s Arena in Detroit will air on pay-per-view following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass.

Ngannou called out Overeem on Twitter after Dos Santos fell off the UFC 215 card. Overeem responded in kind.

“I heard someone is trying to skip the line,” he wrote, adding a nifty graphic. “Can’t allow such a thing to happen. So @francis_ngannou let’s go!”

The battle is certain to have title implications.

Ngannou has won nine straight fights, including a knockout of ex-champ Andrei Arlovski. Overeem, meanwhile, is on the rebound after a failed title bid at UFC 203, winning fights against ex-champ Fabricio Werdum and Mark Hunt.

Overeem, a former Strikeforce, DREAM and K-1 champ, is No. 2 in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA heavyweight rankings, while Ngannou is No. 9.

Ngannou didn’t exactly get his wish after calling to fight champ Stipe Miocic at UFC 218. But he definitely got a tough replacement.

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

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Source: MMA Junkie

Francis Ngannou 'lost' after UFC 215 fight scratch, knows suitable replacement unlikely

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LAS VEGAS – Francis Ngannou is disappointed with the current state of his career after losing out on a big-fight opportunity at UFC 215.

Just three weeks before next month’s event, news broke that Ngannou’s (10-1 MMA, 5-0 UFC) scheduled UFC 215 opponent, Junior Dos Santos (18-5 MMA, 12-4 UFC), had been removed from the contest due to a potential U.S. Anti-Doping Agency violation. Through no fault of his own, Ngannou lost an opponent who could elevate his place in the heavyweight title picture, and he’s not pleased about it.

“Every day of my life right now was about the fight, focus about the fight,” Ngannou told MMAjunkie. “I feel like I’m lost. I don’t know what to do, I don’t know what to say. That was not good news.”

Although Ngannou, No. 9 in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA heavyweight rankings, is frustrated, he’s not yet willing to assign the entirety of the blame on Dos Santos. He said he had a conversation with the Brazilian after the fight had been called off, and “The Predator” believes Dos Santos’ story of a potentially tainted supplement could turn out to be credible.

“I think anything is possible,” Ngannou said. “I could not judge him because I know that problem exists. … Some manufacturers use illegal products to make it be more – to make it work more. But for us fighters, it’s no good, so I never take it.”

Regardless of whether Dos Santos’ test results stick or he is ultimately proven innocent, the fight is off the table for UFC 215, which takes place Sept. 9 at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. The main card airs on pay-per-view following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass.

That leaves Ngannou, who hasn’t fought since a first-round TKO of ex-UFC champ Andrei Arlovski at UFC on FOX 23 in January, in a difficult situation. Ngannou said he would like a top name to step in as a replacement, but with the window before UFC 215 rapidly shrinking and few logical opponents available, Ngannou knows his odds of fighting are growing thin.

Ngannou called out No. 2-ranked Alistair Overeem (43-15 MMA, 8-4 UFC) to replace Dos Santos, but “The Reem” has not provided a formal response. All that together creates the feeling of being “lost,” and while the UFC is still actively looking for a replacement, Ngannou isn’t getting his hopes up.

“For the top 10, Alistair Overeem is the only one who is free, who is open right now,” Ngannou said. “The last time I spoke to (UFC matchmaker) Mick (Maynard) he told me they were still looking for something. I don’t think they will have something because I checked the heavyweight division, and I see that all of the top-10 fighters have a fight coming up.”

For more on the UFC 215, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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Source: MMA Junkie

UFC's Junior Dos Santos after potential doping violation: 'Truth will prevail … I would never cheat'

After being pulled from his heavyweight showdown against Francis Ngannou at UFC 215 due to a potential doping violation, former champion Junior Dos Santos overnight said “truth will prevail.”

Dos Santos (18-5 MMA, 12-4 UFC) was pulled from his fight next month against Ngannou (10-1 MMA, 5-0 UFC) after an out-of-competition test administered by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, the UFC’s official anti-doping program administrator, turned up positive for Hydrochlorothiazide, a diuretic.

“JDS” posted a message on his social media accounts, including Instagram, telling his fans he wouldn’t cheat and thanking them for their support.

“I’m not here to give an explanation,” Dos Santos said in his video post. “Soon, everything will be clear to all of you and no doubt – truth will prevail. I’m here in respect for all of you guys. I just want to say that this situation is very tough for me, my team and my family. And I would never cheat. It goes against everything I stand for. I play a fair game. We will get to the bottom of this, figure out what happened, learn from it and move on. And I hope in the near future, Francis Ngannou and me can face each other and give you guys the show you were expecting. For now, thank you very much for your support. It means a lot to me, and that’s why I’m here.”

Instagram Photo

Dos Santos’ heavyweight fight against Ngannou was expected to have a lot to say about the next potential challenger for champion Stipe Miocic. Dos Santos challenged the champ for the belt in March, but lost by first-round TKO in less than half a round. So a win over Ngannou might not have gotten him back in a title fight that quickly, especially after alternating wins and losses for what would then be his past nine fights, but it would disrupt Ngannou’s plans.

Ngannou, though, is about the hottest thing going in the UFC’s heavyweight title picture. He has nine straight wins, including his first five in the UFC. All 10 of his career wins are by stopppage. His most recent two wins against arguably his toughests tests yet in Anthony Hamilton and former champ Andrei Arlovski were first-round bonus winners, and he has three straight wins in less than two minutes of work. So a win over a former champ might have gotten him a coveted shot at the title.

The UFC’s original statement on Dos Santos’ positive test said a new opponent would be sought for Ngannou, but nothing has been announced yet. Ngannou on Saturday to call for a fight with Alistair Overeem at UFC 215.

For more on UFC 215, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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Source: MMA Junkie

No 'JDS'? No problem. Francis Ngannou says bring on Alistair Overeem at UFC 215

Francis Ngannou got the bummer news Friday that he suddenly was without an opponent for UFC 215, just three weeks away.

Ngannou (10-1 MMA, 5-0 UFC) was supposed to fight former heavyweight champion Junior Dos Santos (18-5 MMA, 12-4 UFC) at the event. But Friday, “JDS” was taken out of the fight due to a potential U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) violation.

Ngannou’s initial response? He tweeted that he was “very, very angry.” (A rep for the ex-champ said the Brazilian tested positive for Hydrochlorothiazide, a banned diuretic, and that his team hopes to find just how it got into his system.)

But after apparently hearing from Dos Santos and getting an apology, Ngannou already is focusing his attention on remaining part of the show at UFC 215, which takes place Sept. 9 at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. The main card airs on pay-per-view following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass.

Today, Ngannou took to Twitter to say he wants to fight former Strikeforce champion and recent UFC title challenger Alistair Overeem (43-15 MMA, 8-4 UFC), seeing as how Overeem has been name-dropping him.

“@Alistairovereem been mentioning my name everywhere. I’m now open and free for you guy. Let do this at #ufc215,” Ngannou posted.

He even included a trio of fireball emojis, seemingly to indicate he thinks a matchup between the two of them would be, as the kids say, “lit af.”

Ngannou is about the hottest thing going in the UFC’s heavyweight title picture. He has nine straight wins, including his first five in the UFC. All 10 of his career wins are by stopppage. His most recent two wins against arguably his toughests tests yet in Anthony Hamilton and former champ Andrei Arlovski were first-round bonus winners, and he has three straight wins in less than two minutes of work.

Overeem has back-to-back wins after losing his shot at UFC champ Stipe Miocic nearly a year ago at UFC 203 in Miocic’s home city of Cleveland. He knocked out Mark Hunt at UFC 209 and took a majority decision from ex-champ Fabricio Werdum earlier this year to get back in the title picture. He has won six of his past seven with four finishes.

So what say you? Is this the fight to make on short notice? Vote in our poll below.

And for more on UFC 215, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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

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Junior Dos Santos notified of potential doping violation, pulled from UFC 215

Former UFC heavyweight champion Junior Dos Santos (18-5 MMA, 12-4 UFC) has been pulled from a planned fight with Francis Ngannou (10-1 MMA, 5-0 UFC) due to a potential doping violation.

UFC officials today revealed the news after being notified by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, the independent administrator of the UFC Anti-Doping Policy.

Dos Santos was flagged after an out-of-competition drug test conducted Aug. 10. Per standard USADA procedure, details on the nature of his anti-doping violation are being withheld during the results management process.

“Because of the proximity to Dos Santos’ upcoming scheduled bout at UFC 215 in Edmonton, Canada against Francis Ngannou, Dos Santos has been removed from the card and the UFC is currently seeking a replacement,” the UFC’s statement read. “Under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, there is a full and fair legal process that is afforded to all athletes before any sanctions are imposed. Additional information will be provided at the appropriate time as the process moves forward.”

Dos Santos’ representatives issued a statement to MMAjunkie insisting the heavyweight has never taken performance-enhancing drugs and remains adamantly against their use in the sport.

“We are still trying to understand the test results, so that we can investigate and determine what happened,” the statement read. “What we know as of now is that Junior Dos Santos has never taken PED’s, has never knowingly used any banned substances, and has always supported USADA’s policies and efforts to keep the sport clean. If ever there was a fighter who made his position on this issue unequivocal, it’s Junior. We are confident that that we will be able to figure out what happened, and will provide an explanation once we have one.”

Ngannou immediately took to Twitter to post his frustration with the scrapped contest.

Dos Santos is currently ranked No. 5 in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA heavyweight rankings, while Ngannou sits at No. 9.

Dos Santos last saw action in May, when he suffered a first-round knockout loss to current champ Stipe Miocic at UFC 211 in a failed bid to regain the title. Despite the result, the Brazilian slugger was anxious for a quick return to the cage.

Featuring a pair of championship matchups, UFC 215 takes place Sept. 9 at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. The night’s main card airs on pay-per-view following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass.

For more on UFC 215, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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UFC 215: Latest fight card and trailer – with champ Demetrious Johnson chasing a major record

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Sure, another major event has captured the spotlight, but the UFC soon returns with a pay-per-view event.

UFC officials have largely cleared their August schedule to throw their promotional muscle behind the Aug. 26 boxing mega-fight between UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor (21-3 MMA, 9-1 UFC) and Floyd Mayweather (49-0 boxing). But on Sept. 9, the UFC hosts UFC 215, a championship doubleheader.

The PPV event takes place Sept. 9 at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, and the main card follows prelims on FX and UFC Fight Pass.

Check out a preview of the event – and its top three fights – above.

In the main event, flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson (26-2-1 MMA, 14-1-1 UFC) looks for his record 11th consecutive title defense when he takes on challenger Ray Borg (11-2 MMA, 5-2 UFC).

Johnson, who’s No. 1 in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA flyweight rankings (and No. 2 pound-for-pound), could break middleweight great Anderson Silva’s longstanding title-defense record if victorious. “Mighty Mouse” is currently a 10-1 favorite to beat No. 5-ranked Borg, who’s won two straight and five of his past six, though he missed weight on two occasions.

In the co-headliner, women’s bantamweight titleholder and No. 1-ranked female 135-pounder Amanda Nunes (14-4 MMA, 7-1 UFC) rematches No. 2-ranked Valentina Shevchenko (14-2 MMA, 3-1 UFC). Nunes, who took the title from Miesha Tate during her current five-fight winning streak, also defeated No. 2-ranked Shevchenko via unanimous decision during her current run. Shevchenko has since rebounded with wins over ex-champ Holly Holm (decision) and Julianna Pena (submission).

UFC 215 also features a major heavyweight clash as ex-champ and No. 5-ranked Junior Dos Santos (18-5 MMA, 12-4 UFC) takes on No. 9 Francis Ngannou (10-1 MMA, 5-0 UFC). Although Dos Santos lost to champ Stipe Miocic in his most recent bout, a title shot could be on the line for him or Ngannou, who’s won nine straight, including five in the UFC (four knockouts and one submission).

The latest UFC 215 lineup includes:

    • Champ Demetrious Johnson vs. Ray Borg – for flyweight title
    • Champ Amanda Nunes vs. Valentina Shevchenko – for women’s bantamweight title
    • Junior Dos Santos vs. Francis Ngannou
    • Gilbert Melendez vs. Jeremy Stephens
    • Rafael dos Anjos vs. Neil Magny
    • Sara McMann vs. Ketlen Vieira
    • Ilir Latifi vs. Tyson Pedro
    • Henry Cejudo vs. Wilson Reis
    • Rick Glenn vs. Gavin Tucker
    • Arjan Bhullar vs. Luis Henrique
    • Ashlee Evans-Smith vs. Sarah Moras
    • Kajan Johnson vs. Adriano Martins
    • Mitch Clarke vs. Alex White

For more on UFC 215, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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Source: MMA Junkie

Francis Ngannou meets ex-champ Junior Dos Santos at UFC 215 in Edmonton

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A heavyweight bout between Francis Ngannou and former champion Junior Dos Santos is the latest addition to September’s UFC 215 lineup.

UFC officials today announced the bout between Ngannou (10-1 MMA, 5-0 UFC) and Dos Santos (18-5 MMA, 12-4 UFC) following an initial report from the Edmonton Journal.

UFC 215 takes place Sept. 9 at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. The main card airs on pay-per-view following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass, though the bout order hasn’t been finalized.

Ngannou is riding a divisional best five-fight UFC winning streak. He’s finished all of his octagon victories inside the distance, with his most recent performance a 92-second TKO of another former UFC champion, Andrei Arlovski, at UFC on FOX 23 in January.

Although Ngannou was pushing for a fight against either Cain Velasquez or Alistair Overeem, he gets another prominent name in Dos Santos.

Despite coming off a first-round knockout loss to Stipe Miocic in a heavyweight title fight at UFC 211 in May, Dos Santos was eager to make a quick turnaround to action. He had a 13-month layoff prior to the encounter with Miocic and wanted to engage in a more active schedule in the fallout.

The former champ makes a dangerous play by fighting a rising star, but “Cigano” has never lost back-to-back fights and surely won’t want to start at UFC 215.

Also added to the card was a light heavyweight bout between Ilir Latifi (12-5 MMA, 5-3 UFC) and Tyson Pedro (6-0 MMA, 2-0 UFC).

The latest UFC 215 lineup includes:

  • Francis Ngannou vs. Junior Dos Santos
  • Ilir Latifi vs. Tyson Pedro
  • Henry Cejudo vs. Wilson Reis
  • Rick Glenn vs. Gavin Tucker
  • Ashlee Evans-Smith vs. Sarah Moras
  • Arjan Bhullar vs. Luis Henrique

For more on UFC 215, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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Source: MMA Junkie