Go inside Georges St-Pierre's return and 3 title fights in UFC 217 extended preview

Filed under: News, UFC, Videos

When the UFC descends on New York City for the second straight November, there once again will be three titles on the line.

In the UFC 217 main event next month, Georges St-Pierre (25-2 MMA, 19-2 UFC) returns to the octagon after a four-year layoff to challenge champ Michael Bisping (30-7 MMA, 20-7 UFC) for the UFC middleweight title. St-Pierre was a longtime welterweight champ before he walked away from the sport, and now will attempt to become just the fourth two-division champ in the UFC’s history.

In the co-main event, there is bad blood all over the place when bantamweight champion Cody Garbrandt (11-0 MMA, 6-0 UFC) meets former teammate T.J. Dillashaw (14-3 MMA, 10-3 UFC). The two coached opposite each other on Season 25 of “The Ultimate Fighter” and were supposed to meet over the summer until a Garbrandt surgery delayed things.

And also on the main card, strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk (14-0 MMA, 8-0 UFC) will defend her title against Rose Namajunas (6-3 MMA, 4-2 UFC). With a win, Jedrzejczyk will hold the record for most title wins by a UFC women’s fighter.

The way Kevin Lee sees it, destiny placed him opposite Tony Ferguson.

“Me and Tony were bound to fight, whether it was going to be headlining at T-Mobile Arena for a world championship, or if it was going to be in my backyard,” Lee said in an extended preview for UFC 216.

UFC 217 takes place Nov. 4 at Madison Square Garden in New York City and airs on pay-per-view following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass. It will be the UFC’s second show at MSG following the historic UFC 205 in November 2016.

In the extended video preview above, go inside the three title fights atop the card in New York City.

And for more on UFC 217, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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

Even in super slo-mo, Demetrious Johnson's UFC 216 finish is pretty unfathomable

Filed under: Featured, News, UFC, Videos

Slow it down all you want, Demetrious Johnson’s incredible submission of Ray Borg at UFC 216 still blows the mind.

As you’d expect, Johnson’s “Submission of the Year” candidate was featured in the UFC’s latest “Phantom Cam” highlights package, covering this past weekend’s UFC 216 event in Las Vegas. The sequence might be even more impressive when it’s slowed down enough for mere mortals to understand.

Check out that highlight and more – including some fantastic footage of the “Fight of the Night” between Bobby Green and Lando Vannata, as well as Tony Ferguson’s interim title-winning performance over Kevin Lee – in the footage above.

For complete coverage of UFC 216, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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

Why are we so tolerant of the absurd insanity of weight-cutting in MMA?

At this point it’s basically a part of the routine. Fight week rolls around, the photo ops come and go, then suddenly it’s Friday morning, and we all wait to see who will show up looking like a walking corpse ready to have his remains weighed on the official scale.

At UFC 216, it was Kevin Lee’s turn. After bragging about feasting on tiramisu for dessert, he needed two tries to hit the lightweight mark, looking progressively cadaverous with each attempt. If that wasn’t enough of a fighter safety risk, we learned after the fight that he also had a staph infection on his chest. The Nevada State Athletic Commission deemed him fit to fight anyway, for reasons it wouldn’t fully explain.

Lee wasn’t the only one who struggled in Las Vegas. Nik Lentz was pulled from the event entirely after being hospitalized due to what he called “diabetic-like issues.” It seems his hands and feet went numb during his weight cut, which probably isn’t a good sign just a couple days before you’re supposed to get into a cage and fight.

This all happened just two weeks after Mizuta Hirota was scratched from UFC Fight Night 117 when he nearly fell off the scales at weigh-ins.

As if to drive home the point that it can always get worse, Pancrase weighed in a nearly unconscious Daniel Lima in Japan over the weekend, and then let him go through with the fight anyway, despite the fact that he had to be literally carried on and off the scales.

As longtime MMA referee Marc Goddard asked in a Facebook video, what if “the unthinkable” had happened in that fight, which is really not so unthinkable after seeing how depleted Lima was at the weigh-in?

“Who would take that blame?” Goddard asked. “That’s (expletive) manslaughter.”

What makes this practice more insane is how unnecessary it is. Think about weight-cutting for what it really is. A day before the competition, two athletes of roughly equal size shed their bodies of enough water and nutrients to hit the same arbitrary mark on a scale, all so they can frantically put the weight back on in time for the fight the next day, at which point they will be roughly the same size again.

As dangerous and difficult as it is, nobody’s getting a significant advantage through weight-cutting anymore. What they’re doing with all that suffering is preventing their opponents from having a significant advantage. It’s an absurd price to pay just to end up on a mostly level playing field in the end.

But how do you fix it? More weight classes aren’t going to do it, because fighters looking for an edge (or just for a fresh start in a new division) will still push their bodies to the absolute limit if they’re allowed to.

So maybe you stop allowing it. You institute hydration tests and out-of-competition weigh-ins to get a sense of what each fighter really weighs in the hopes of establishing a safe fighting weight for everyone.

That’s the direction that the California State Athletic Commission is heading in, but it’s going to take more than one commission in one state. This is a change the whole sport needs to make, if we’re going to really address the issue. The entire culture needs to change, and that’s never easy to do.

But if we’re not yet convinced that this is a problem, what’s going to change our minds? People have died cutting weight. They’ve died in the fights that followed rough weigh cuts. They’ve been hospitalized so often that it’s barely even newsworthy anymore. They’ve squandered the weeks and months spent training for a fight, all because they couldn’t survive their own weight cuts in a healthy enough state to go through with them.

The worst things that can possibly happen have already happened. The not-quite-as-bad-but-still-pretty-troubling things have also happened, and with alarming frequency.

Still, most of the powers that be in MMA don’t seem ready to make a change this big. Apparently they’re fine with the almost weekly ridiculousness of pro fighters making themselves sick on the eve of their most dangerous assignments. They’re too used to it, maybe. Too comfortable with it.

Or maybe they just need to see how bad it can really get. But if that hasn’t happened by now, I hate to think of what it’s going to take.

Filed under: AXS TV Fights, Bellator, News, PFL, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

UFC 216 medical suspensions: Ray Borg potentially out six months with finger injury

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Filed under: News, UFC

UFC flyweight Ray Borg could be out for six months following a failed bid to unseat dominant champ Demetrious Johnson.

Borg’s arm isn’t the problem, however. After tapping to an armbar in the fifth round of UFC 216’s co-headliner, the Nevada State Athletic Commission cited his right right finger as the area of concern.

Borg (11-3 MMA, 5-3 UFC) needs an orthopedist to clear him, or he could sit out a half-year, according to medical suspensions released today by the NSAC, which regulated the pay-per-view event at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

Although Johnson (27-2-1 MMA, 15-1-1 UFC) reported a potential knee injury following his record-breaking 11th title defense, he got off scot-free with no suspension.

Headliner Tony Ferguson (24-3 MMA, 14-1 UFC), who claimed the interim lightweight title, has a three-week suspension for a possible corneal abrasion, while opponent Kevin Lee (16-3 MMA, 9-3 UFC) sits for two months after his third-round submission loss, which came after a brutal weight cut made more miserable by an active staph infection.

The full list of medical suspensions stemming from UFC 216 include:

  • Tony Ferguson: Suspended until Oct. 29 for possible left eye corneal abrasion.
  • Kevin Lee: Suspended until Nov. 7.
  • Ray Borg: Needs fourth right finger cleared by orthopedic doctor or suspended until April 6; minimum suspension runs to Nov. 7 with no contact until Oct. 29.
  • Mara Romero Borella: Must repeat MRI of brain in six months, due April 7.
  • Evan Dunham: Needs ophthalmologist clearance on blurred vision or no contest until Dec. 7, no contact until Nov. 22.
  • Cody Stamann: Suspended until Nov. 7 with no contact until Oct. 29.
  • Tom Duquesnoy: Suspended until Nov. 22 with no contact until Nov. 7.
  • Lando Vannata: Suspended until Dec. 7 with no contact until Nov. 22.
  • Bobby Green: Suspended until Nov. 22 with no contact until Nov. 7.
  • Pearl Gonzalez: Suspended until Nov. 7 with no contact until Oct. 29.
  • Poliana Botelho: Needs right elbow and right thumb cleared by orthopedic doctor or suspended until April 6; minimum suspension runs to Nov. 7 with no contact until Oct. 29.
  • Matt Schnell: Needs right forearm X-rayed; if broken, needs clearance by orthopedic doctor or suspended until April 6.
  • Marco Beltran: Needs left thumb X-rayed and cleared by orthopedic doctor or suspended until April 6; minimum suspension runs to Nov. 7 with no contact until Oct. 29.
  • Magomed Bibulatov: Suspended until Nov. 22 with no contact until Nov. 7.
  • Thales Leites: Needs possible right orbital fracture cleared by orthopedic doctor or suspended until April 6; minimum suspension runs to Nov. 22 with no contact until Nov. 7.

For complete coverage of UFC 216, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

Sean Shelby's Shoes: What's next for Kevin Lee, Ray Borg and UFC 216's losing fighters?

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Filed under: News, UFC, Videos

(ALSO SEE: Sean Shelby’s Shoes: What’s next for UFC 216’s winning fighters?)

UFC 216 will go down as event to forget for some, because all four main card losers were put away in the distance on the pay-per-view lineup at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

After the opening between Evan Dunham and Beneil Dariush went to a draw, each subsequent fight saw the loser forced to tap out, including Kevin Lee (16-3 MMA, 9-3 UFC) in his interim lightweight title headlining bout with Tony Ferguson (23-3 MMA, 13-1 UFC) as well Ray Borg (11-3 MMA, 5-3 UFC) in his first UFC title bout with Demetrious Johnson (27-2-1 MMA, 15-1-1 UFC).

Prior to the championship bouts, Walt Harris (10-6 MMA, 3-5 UFC) and Kalindra Faria (18-6-1 MMA, 0-1 UFC) were put away by there respective opponents in less than three minutes each.

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 216’s losing fighters.

* * * *

Kalindra Faria

Should fight: “The Ultimate Fighter 26” cast member
Why they should fight: Faria’s UFC debut came under less than ideal circumstances. After being booked or short notice then having her opponent switched on even shorter notice, the Brazilian fell short against Mara Romero Borella with a first-round submission loss.

Faria is one of the most established veterans of the women’s flyweight division, and although the UFC debut didn’t go her way, she’s still a promising member of the organization’s newest weight class.

The Brazilian would have liked her octagon career to begin under better circumstances, but Faria will certainly get another chance to prove herself. The infancy of the 125-pound division makes it difficult to judge who her next fight should be, but a matchup with someone who does well on the current season of “The Ultimate Fighter,” which will crown the division’s inaugural champion, would be fitting.

Walt Harris

Should fight: Mark Godbeer
Why they should fight: Opportunity knocked and Harris answered, but unfortunately he wasn’t able to charge through the door. After Derrick Lewis fell off the card just before it was scheduled to begin, Harris stepped in to take on a huge task in Fabricio Werdum. To the surprise of almost no one, it didn’t go his way.

Harris had never fought anyone close to Werdum’s caliber, and it showed. He was quickly taken down and submitted within 65 seconds. Instead of getting down on a high-profile loss, though, “The Big Ticket” took it all as a learning experience to get better.

Before the last-minute scramble Harris was booked to fight Godbeer (12-3 MMA, 1-1 UFC) on the card. It would be fair to both sides to put that matchup back together considering both men put in an entire training camp for each other but never got to put it to use.

Ray Borg

Should fight: Brandon Moreno
Why they should fight: Watch the video above to see why Borg should fight Moreno (14-4 MMA, 3-1 UFC) next.

Kevin Lee

Should fight: Al Iaquinta
Why they should fight: Watch the video above to see why Lee should rematch Iaquinta (13-3-1 MMA, 8-2 UFC) next.

For complete coverage of UFC 216, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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

Conor McGregor, it's time to defend that belt – and Tony Ferguson is the perfect man for the job

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Filed under: News, UFC

One thing I feel confident saying about Tony Ferguson’s callout of Conor McGregor at UFC 216: He didn’t spend too much time beforehand thinking about precisely which words to use.

Which is not to say that he put no thought into it. Calling him “McNuggets” was proof of that, and while it might not be the burn that sets the world on fire, it was at least better than what followed, when the interim UFC lightweight champ leaned into the microphone to call the actual UFC lightweight champ a “(expletive) piece of (expletive).”

You know, keeping it simple.

But here’s one matchup that doesn’t need blistering trash talk or eloquent insults to feel important. This one is necessary just on its merits.

And if McGregor (21-3 MMA, 9-1 UFC) is smart, which he usually is, he’ll see that for himself. The time for cash-grabbing spectacle fights is over. Now’s the time to get down to the business of being the champ.

The question of who that champ should fight is now firmly settled, thanks to Ferguson (23-3 MMA, 13-1 UFC). His win over Kevin Lee (16-3 MMA, 9-3 UFC) in Saturday’s UFC 216 pay-per-view headliner in Las Vegas was classic “El Cucuy.” He got mouthy, and he got hurt, and he got loose. He came close enough to losing to make it all the more impressive when he won with a triangle choke off his back.

That’s 10 in a row for Ferguson, and in arguably the most talent-rich division in the sport. Now he has a shiny gold belt to commemorate his achievement, but it’s still unclear what, exactly, that will get him.

UFC President Dana White claims it’ll be good enough for a title-unification bout with McGregor.

“It’s the fight that has to happen,” White said after the event. “It doesn’t ‘make sense’; it’s the fight that has to happen.”

But then, the days of the UFC telling McGregor what he has to do are long gone. These days, the UFC can only request. It can ask nicely. It can hope.

Nobody can make McGregor do anything now. Not unless he wants to. But this is one he should want, at least as long as he still wants to be an MMA fighter at all.

McGregor is by far the biggest star in the sport, not to mention the biggest PPV draw in the history of the UFC. But if there’s a knock on him at this point, it’s that he’s won two UFC titles without defending either. He’s willfully ignored the usual system of champions meeting contenders in favor of lining his pockets as he jumps from one payday to the next.

It’s smart, you have to admit. In this sport, you have to look out for your own future, since everyone else is just trying to use you as fodder for theirs. But McGregor has made enough money now that he might consider turning his attention to his legacy.

It’s one thing to win a UFC title, but it’s not really yours until you defend it. And if McGregor wants to remind everyone how he ended up as the champ in the first place, he could do a lot worse than to test himself against a guy like Ferguson.

There’s a lot to like about the fight. Ferguson may not be a superstar, but the man has a swagger and a style all his own. He’ll talk to you while he’s beating you up and then breakdance once he’s done. When he’s fighting is just about the only time you’ll catch him without sunglasses on, and even then his face looks somehow naked without them.

You put this guy in a fight opposite McGregor, you can expect a couple different kinds of fireworks. You can also expect, however temporarily, a return to some sense of normalcy, which feels pretty necessary right about now.

Because in between all the expletives and food-based insults, Ferguson offered McGregor a surprisingly reasonable choice: defend or vacate.

It does feel like it’s time for a decision, one way or another. For a smart fighter and savvy businessman like McGregor, this one ought to be a no-brainer.

For complete coverage of UFC 216, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

Kevin Lee: No excuses for UFC 216 title loss to Tony Ferguson after weight cut 'damn near killed me'

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Filed under: Featured, News, UFC, Videos

LAS VEGAS – Kevin Lee sat on stage, faced the media with his sunglasses on, hiding his battered face, and held back tears until he couldn’t hold them back anymore.

“I’m not going to let this stop me,” Lee said following a loss to Tony Ferguson in an interim lightweight title fight at UFC 216. “I’m still going to be a world champion. It might not be when I’m 25.”

It almost certainly won’t after Lee (16-3 MMA, 9-3 UFC) tapped out to Ferguson (24-3 MMA, 14-1 UFC) via third-round triangle choke in the pay-per-view headliner, which took place at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

Up until the finishing sequence, Lee fought hard and seemingly had Ferguson in trouble on a few occasions, most notably toward the end of the first round. But Lee was behind the 8 ball before he even stepped inside the octagon thanks to a brutal weight cut.

Lee dropped 19 pounds in under 24 hours to make the 155-pound limit. He also revealed having a staph infection for the past week, which “didn’t make the weight cut no easier.”

“The weight cut was what it was,” Lee said. “I wasn’t going to let down the whole show, let down everybody. I was going to make the weight, even if I had to cut my foot off or something. It damn near killed me. I just had to do what I had to do. I got a job to do. I’m a professional. I’m going to come out here no matter how bad it hurts. … By the third round it just was too much for me.”

Lee, known as one of the bigger lightweights in the division, has never missed weight, but he’s expressed previous difficulties in reaching 155 and lobbied for the UFC to create a 165-pound division.

That doesn’t interest UFC President Dana White, who said Lee was offered to use the resources at the UFC Performance Institute to ensure a proper weight cut but declined to take advantage.

“He’s a grown man. I can’t tell him what to do,” White said. “Either you want to come in and do it the right way, or you want to do it your way. That’s up to him.”

Lee, who lives in Las Vegas and has access to the UFCPI anytime, hinted at a move to welterweight.

“I’m sitting here now at about 185 pounds, a little too big for the weight class now,” he said. “… It’s about time for me to go up.”

Even with what some might consider a legit built-in excuse for not getting the job done, Lee declined to go that route and gave credit to Ferguson for an impressive win.

“He’s the rightful champion,” Lee said. “I tried to make it a dog fight with him. I tried to let him know it’s going to be a fight at the end of the first (with a late hit). You have to put that man out. There’s no quit in him. He kept coming forward, and he kept the pressure. And he did what a champion is supposed to do, and I wish him the best. …

“I know how tough Tony Ferguson is, and he’s the best man in the world.”

For complete coverage of UFC 216, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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

Twitter reacts to Tony Ferguson's UFC 216 interim title-winning submission of Kevin Lee

A new interim UFC lightweight champion was crowned in Saturday’s UFC 216 headliner when Tony Ferguson defeated Kevin Lee in the pay-per-view main event at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

Ferguson (23-3 MMA, 13-1 UFC) pushed his winning streak to 10 fights and was crowned interim 155-pound champ with a third-round submission victory over Lee (16-3 MMA, 9-3 UFC), likely setting up a future showdown with reigning divisional titleholder Conor McGregor (21-3 MMA, 9-1 UFC)

Check below for the top Twitter reactions to Ferguson’s victory over Lee at UFC 216.

* * * *

For complete coverage of UFC 216, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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

UFC 216 results: Tony Ferguson taps resilient Kevin Lee in third to win interim lightweight title

It was far from an easy night of work for Tony Ferguson, but a third-round triangle choke got Kevin Lee to tap and “El Cucuy” is the UFC’s newest champion.

Ferguson (24-3 MMA, 14-1 UFC) tapped Lee (16-3 MMA, 9-3 UFC) with a third-round triangle choke to become the UFC’s interim lightweight champion. The tap came at the 4:02 mark in the third. Ferguson now puts himself in line for a possible title unification fight against champ Conor McGregor.

The interim lightweight title bout was the main event of today’s UFC 216 event at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. It aired on pay-per-view following prelims on FX and UFC Fight Pass.

Lee came forward 20 seconds in with a left high kick that was partially blocked. Not long after, Lee landed a body kick and a nice right hand. Ferguson took Lee’s legs out for a moment, then settled into a patient game in the center, dodging Lee’s big overhand rights. Lee knocked Ferguson down, but when he got back up he drilled Lee and hurt him and put him on the canvas. Lee landed a left hand, but Ferguson countered with a right.

Just past the midway point, they scrambled on the canvas. Ferguson wound up on his back looking for an armbar, but Lee got out and went to work on top. Lee managed to get to side control, then jumped to full mount with 30 seconds left. He landed heavy elbows and punches, but Ferguson survived the round. Lee landed a blatant punch after the bell and got a stern warning from referee Herb Dean.

Ferguson started to get his jab working in the second. And a couple minutes in, when Lee shot for a takedown, Ferguson was nowhere to be found. The pace slowed, but in the third, Lee scooped Ferguson up immediately and slammed him to the canvas. Ferguson had to work off his back, but Lee wasn’t providing much offense from the top position.

Back standing, Ferguson found himself put on his back again, midway through the frame. Ferguson expertly tied up Lee’s left arm and it appeared as if he had the armbar. But Lee got out of it and had to try to work out of a triangle choke. He couldn’t do it.

Ferguson pulled the head down and he forced Lee to tap. Lee immediately began to cry in the center of the cage with his hands on his face. Ferguson congratulated him on the fight and appeared to attempt to bury their bad blood.

Ferguson won for the 10th straight time and hasn’t lost since a decision setback to Michael Johnson more than five years ago. Lee had a five-fight winning streak snapped and lost for the first time in nearly two years.

Up-to-the-minute UFC 216 results include:

For complete coverage of UFC 216, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

(MMAjunkie’s John Morgan and Simon Samano contributed to this report on site in Las Vegas.)

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

UFC 216 salaries: Tony Ferguson can net $500k with interim title win

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Filed under: News, UFC

LAS VEGAS – Not only can Tony Ferguson or Kevin Lee walk away from UFC 216 with an interim championship belt, but they have an opportunity to add a solid amount to their worth.

Ferguson (22-3 MMA, 12-1 UFC) and Lee (16-2 MMA, 9-2 UFC), who meet in tonight’s pay-per-view headliner at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas following prelims on FX and UFC Fight Pass, will each receive a show purse of $250,000. Ferguson can double that amount with a win, while Lee can get another $50,000.

MMAjunkie tonight obtained the UFC 216 salaries from a Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) official during the event.

The largest base pay on the card goes to UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson (26-2-1 MMA, 14-1-1 UFC). “Mighty Mouse” will receive $370,000 win or lose, but reportedly also has the opportunity for pay-per-view points for the first time in his career. Challenger Ray Borg (11-2 MMA, 5-2 UFC) has a flat payment of $100,000.

Other notable payouts on the UFC 216 main card go to former UFC heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum (21-7-1 MMA, 9-4 UFC), who has a contracted show purse of $275,000 with another $125,000 up for grabs with a win. Walt Harris (10-5 MMA, 3-4 UFC), who was moved up the card as Werdum’s opponent when Derrick Lewis withdrew from the event just hours prior to its start, will make $28,000 to show with another $28,000 possible with a win.

For complete coverage of UFC 216, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie