Eddie Alvarez talks 'TUF 26' gripe with Lauren Murphy – and lack of heat with Justin Gaethje

if(typeof(jQuery)==”function”){(function($){$.fn.fitVids=function(){}})(jQuery)};
jwplayer(‘jwplayer_JjDtMIyx_FLu19iir_div’).setup(
{“playlist”:”http://content.jwplatform.com/feeds/JjDtMIyx.json”,”ph”:2}
);

Filed under: News, Radio Highlight, UFC, Videos

Eddie Alvarez has no qualms with fellow “The Ultimate Fighter 26” coach Justin Gaethje, who he thinks is a “hell of a human being.” But that’s not to say his “TUF” stint has been beef-free.

Rather than fellow lightweight Gaethje (18-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC), whom he’s set to meet at UFC 218, Alvarez (28-5 MMA, 3-2 UFC) had some drama with “Team Alvarez” team member and UFC flyweight Lauren Murphy. That much was clear on episode No. 5, in which the coach was clearly peeved by Murphy’s decision to not show up for morning practice following a loss to Nicco Montano.

That did take place. But the real reasons for the riff, Alvarez later told MMAjunkie Radio, went far beyond that particular disagreement.

“The story that’s being told in the media is basically: I’m a bad guy because I wanted someone back in the gym immediately after their fight,” Alvarez said. “And that was barely my gripe with that girl, in particular. That was the smalls thing that I didn’t like that was done that she did. I would also have to agree with you guys, to give somebody time off.

“I did want everyone back in the gym just to keep – personally, I did. But that was barely my gripe. My real gripe with that girl was that at that the first day, almost, she conspired against (Sijara Eubanks). Immediately, she was like, ‘We don’t care if ‘Sarj’ is 150 pounds.’ We – she’s speaking for the whole team now. And we just created the team.

“She goes, ‘We don’t care if ‘Sarj’ is 150 pounds. You can put her out first. It’s her fault she’s not prepared.’ So I was like, ‘Wow.’ Coach Marlon (Moraes) came to me and said, ‘Lauren said she don’t care if we put out ‘Sarj.” And this is in the mist of me, Mark and Marlon trying to put together a solid roster and win this thing. So I’m like, ‘No, that ain’t going to happen.’ I understand maybe she feels threatened by ‘Sarj,’ but ‘Sarj’ is on our team.”

And that wasn’t the last time Alvarez was under the impression that Murphy was “conspiring” against her teammates. A few days later, when the bracket went up, he said the flyweight came “in a panic” looking for advice on how to prepare for fellow Team Alvarez member Barb Honchak.

“She starts, ‘Hey, can you help me with a takedown, to take Barb down?’” Alvarez said. “I’m like, ‘Lauren, slow down. You have to fight Team Gaethje first.’ She still hasn’t fought her first fight against Nicco, and she’s already conspired twice or three times against everyone from Team Alvarez.

“I understand it’s Team Lauren Murphy because only one girl can win this, but it’s got to be one step at a time. Let’s beat Team Gaethje. Let’s get to the semifinals. Even then it’s bad to conspire, but let’s conspire then. Let’s take one thing at a time. There was a lot of bad energy, bad vibes when I’m trying to create a team.”

As for the missing practice thing that seemed like such a big deal on TV?

“(Expletive), it was a good thing she missed practice,” Alvarez said. “Her attitude sucked. It was probably a good thing, at the end of the day. I could care less about the practice.”

Talking to MMAFighting.com, Murphy denied conspiring against her teammates, saying Alvarez assumed “I was being an (expletive), because he’s an (expletive), and that’s the way he thinks.” She also blogged about the missed-practice situation, throwing some shade in the process.

“Besides, I’m pretty sure Eddie didn’t go running to the gym the day after Conor McGregor knocked him out so he could help his teammates get ready for their fights,” Murphy wrote (via Twitter):

Although things got rocky with one of his team members, Alvarez had no issues with the man he’s supposed to fight on Dec. 2 at UFC 218. The former UFC and Bellator champion, who’s hopped around promotions throughout his career, had become familiar with ex-WSOF champ Gaethje a few years ago – when he was considering fighting for the organization (now referred at as PFL).

A few months ago, when Gaethje joined the UFC, Alvarez said they shared a friendly conversation. And while it’s common for tempers to flare between rival coaches after a few weeks of competition, Alvarez said the amicable relationship continued throughout taping.

“He’s always been a cool cat,” Alvarez said. “I wish I could bring up some beef for you guys and say I smacked him in the face or I shoved him. But there wasn’t much drama to be told on that level.

“He’s actually a hell of a human being. And he fights like a demon. So it was all good on that level.”

It doesn’t take getting to know Gaethje on a personal level to agree with the “fighting like a demon” bit. After tearing through his competition at his former WSOF home, the aggressive lightweight put on a wild scrap with Michael Johnson to kick off his UFC stint.

While Alvarez has also been known to engage on a few barnburners, he’s also shown he can show some restraint should the occasion call. So which one can we expect to square off against Gaethje?

Well, Alvarez has some encouraging news.

“What I’m trying to do is not let a couple of punches go by before that comes out,” Alvarez said. “I’m going to do a full round in the back, and I’ll be out hot. I’m going to come out of the tunnel hot. And we’re going to get right to it, right from the gate.

“More than jiu-jitsu, striking, boxing, whatever aspect of this game you want to talk about. More than anything, that’s the aspect I’ve been working on. If I can explain it, just not giving a (expletive). That’s what I’m working on.”

To hear from Alvarez, check out the video above.

And for more on UFC 218, check out the UFC Rumors 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.

jQuery.extend( window._usmgOptions,{ scriptUrl: “https://s2.wp.com/wp-content/themes/vip/usatoday-plugins/api-galleries/assets”, analyticsCallback: “galleryAnalytics”, fullscreenUrl: “http://mmajunkie.com/sigallery/6CC7Bo3VyAHjPVGzSgfoFD/277998”, customAnalytics: true, title: “Alvarez vs. Poirier”, feedsrc: 2 } );(typeof _usdpgw == “undefined”) ? _usdpgw = new _usdpGalleryWall(window._usmgOptions) : _usdpgw.start();
Filed under: News, Radio Highlight, UFC, Videos
Source: MMA Junkie

Episode No. 5 recap: 'The Ultimate Fighter 26: A New World Champion'

Episode No. 5 of “The Ultimate Fighter 26: A New World Champion” opens with a still-emotional No. 3 Lauren Murphy riding back to the TUF house with the rest of Team Alvarez following her upset loss to Team Gaethje’s No. 14 Nicco Montano on the previous episode.

Murphy says she expected to reach the finals and be one half of the inaugural UFC women’s flyweight title fight, but she admits some moments of self-doubt began to creep into her mind just moments before the bout. Back at the TUF house, Murphy is upset she can’t get the comfort of her family after the disappointing result.

The next morning, Murphy is feeling better but decides to skip practice. She says she hopes coach Eddie Alvarez doesn’t give “some big speech at the gym about how, like, I should be back in there already.” That’s exactly what happens, though.

“She lost, and you’re not here? You’re probably not built for this,” Alvarez tells his fighters at the next Team Alvarez training session. “I appreciate you being here. Shana (Dobson) did the same. She came in, she lost, took it on the chin, came out and started training again. It’s not what happens, it’s how we react to it. So let’s react properly today. Thoughts and feelings mean nothing here. Zero, zilch. They’re not going to win you a fight here, your thoughts and feelings. I just need you girls to fight.”

Focus shifts to preparation for the next fight, where No. 12 Sijara Eubanks of Team Alvarez will fight No. 5 Maia Stevenson of Team Gaethje. Coach Alvarez says he believes Eubanks’ seeding in the tournament is way off, and her power and well-rounded ability are going to become advantageous in the upcoming bout.

At the second Team Alvarez training session of the day, Murphy returns to practice. She’s greeted by Alvarez and the rest of the coaching staff. They have a discussion about Murphy’s loss, and coach Alvarez attempts to lift Murphy’s spirits. She doesn’t say much at first but in confessional vents a lot of frustration in Alvarez’s direction.

The TUF gym is later overtaken by Team Gaethje. Stevenson, who is the wife of 16-fight UFC veteran and “TUF 2” winner Joe Stevenson, is feeling some pressure to make her own name in the sport. She doesn’t want people to think she’s only in the competition because of her husband and says it’s a “mental game” to get it out of her mind, but coach Justin Gaethje believes she’s capable.

As the fight approaches, there is some concern within Team Alvarez regarding Eubanks’ weight cut. She still has 10 pounds to cut, but believes, “everyone else is more concerned about my weight than I am.” At 126.5 pounds, though, Eubanks runs into a wall with her weight loss. She’s having difficulty ridding herself of the final half-pound, and the drama begins.

Instead of putting herself through anymore physical strain, though, coach Alvarez suggest Eubanks cuts off a sizable portion her lengthy dreadlocks. Eubanks takes it in stride and says, “My girlfriend is not going to be happy.”

The official weigh-ins for the fight take place, and both fighters hit the 126-pound women’s flyweight limit. A tense staredown follows.

Fight day arrives, and the fifth tournament bout is nearly underway. Stevenson and Eubanks finalize preparation with their coaches, and the athletes walk to the cage.

#5 Maia Stevenson (6-4) vs. #12 Sijara Eubanks (2-2)

Round 1 – Eubanks pumps the jab to begin the fight and tags Stevenson with a left hand. Eubanks shoots for a takedown, but it’s easily stuffed. Stevenson comes in with some combinations and is tagging Eubanks with clean shots. Stevenson’s jab is on point early, and Eubanks shoots for another takedown. She gets Stevenson down and immediately spins to the back. Stevenson works up to her feet slowly but Eubanks is working her with her with hard, short strikes. Stevenson is pinned against the cage and struggling to deal with Eubanks’ strength. Eubanks is landing shots at will against the fence then decides to change to a single leg and drag Stevenson back to the canvas. Eubanks postures up and batters Stevenson with some heavy strikes until the end of the round.

Round 2 – Eubanks misses on two big punches and eats a counter combination. She shoots for a takedown and Stevenson defends until her back is against the fence. Eubanks drops for the single-leg takedown and gets Stevenson down again. Eubanks advances to half guard and applies an americana. Stevenson squirm her arm free but Eubanks easily controlling her. She switches to the kimura and wrenches Stevenson’s arm behind her back, forcing her to tap out and end the one-sided fight.

Sijara Eubanks def. Maia Stevenson via submission (kimura) – Round 2

“The fight went really well,” Eubanks says after her victory. “It felt like all the suns and stars and stuff aligned for me, because it was a rough day yesterday, but we doubled down and had a super great day today.”

Team Gaethje’s lead is cut to 3-2 in the competition with Eubanks’ win for Team Alvarez, who take control of fight selection. With his choice, coach Alvarez selects No. 2 Barb Honchak to go up against No. 15 Gillian Robertson of Team Gaethje next.

Also see:

Catch new episodes of “The Ultimate Fighter 26: A New World Champion” every Wednesday at 10 p.m. ET (7 p.m. PT) on FS1. MMAjunkie recaps each episode of the reality series.

Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

Episode No. 4 recap: 'The Ultimate Fighter 26: A New World Champion'

Episode No. 4 of “The Ultimate Fighter 26: A New World Champion” opens with focus on No. 3 Lauren Murphy, who is fighting No. 14 Nicco Montano in the fourth opening-round tournament bout later in the episode.

Team Alvarez’s Murphy admits she’s had to stop and catch herself from looking too far ahead in the tournament when the most important fight is right ahead of her with Team Gaethje’s Montano. Murphy tells teammate Barb Honchak that she was already thinking about a fight between them prior to the start of the tournament, which creates some awkwardness.

During preparation, coach Eddie Alvarez calls Murphy a “coach’s dream.” He believes her four fights of UFC experience, which is more than all the rest of the tournament field combined, is a great advantage. Murphy says her well-rounded game is going to be too much for Montano to handle.

At the “TUF” house, Murphy, a former Invicta FC champion, opens up with some of her teammates about her troubled past. She discusses how her father passed away in a plane crash when she was young. That led her to a downward spiral of drug and alcohol abuse which resulted in an overdose. Murphy eventually got past her addiction and turned to a career in MMA.

Team Gaethje has its next training session, and Montano continues preparation for her upcoming fight. Despite only five pro bouts, Montano won a championship in the King of the Cage organization. UFC President Dana White calls Montano a “dark horse” in the tournament. Coach Justin Gaethje says the goal for Montano to turn it into a “dog fight.”

The official weigh-ins for the fight takes place, and both fighters come in under the 126-pound women’s flyweight limit. A tense staredown follows.

Fight day arrives, and the fourth tournament bout is nearly underway. Murphy and Montano finalize preparation with their coaches, and the athletes walk to the cage for the debut contest of the season.

#3 Lauren Murphy (9-3) vs. #14 Nicco Montano (3-2)

Round 1 – Murphy presses the action to begin the fight and is throwing combinations. Montano attacks with leg kicks and counter strikes. Montano is landing the better shots early, but Murphy is starting to settle in. Murphy works the jab, but Montano is coming at her with body and leg kicks. Murphy gets the clinch, but Montano pressures her against the fence. Montano misses with an elbow on the break, and Murphy takes the center of the cage. Montano lands a hard body kick followed by a grazing kick to the head. Murphy is struggling to find her range and is consistently being tagged with kicks. Murphy catches one of the kicks and turns it into a clinch situation. She attempts to drag Montano to the mat, but her takedowns are well defended. Montano is keeping busy with short punches and knees to the body before turning Murphy in the clinch. She works for a body-lock takedown of her own but has no success. They continue to battle in the clinch before separating. Murphy is starting to land some better shots before the end of the round.

Round 2 – Murphy is throwing with bad intentions to begin the round. Montano is keeping a solid range, but eventually they fight into the clinch. Murphy drops for a takedown. Her initial entry is stuffed, but she partially gets Montano down. Montano hammers Murphy with elbows before fighting her way back up to the feet. They are still in the clinch, and Montano is landing some good knees. Murphy refuses to disengage and is still fighting for takedowns. Montano refuses to go down and cuts Murphy open with a knee to the head. Montano lands more solid blows before turning Montano around. They finally separate from the clinch, and Montano lands a left kick to the body followed by a right hand. Murphy shoots for another takedown, but Montano has it easily scouted. Murphy is pressuring from the clinch, but she can’t get Montano down before the round ends.

Nicco Montano def. Lauren Murphy via unanimous decision (20-18, 20-18, 20-18)

“I did what I had to do to get the win,” Montano says after her stunning upset victory. “‘Whatever it takes’ is our team motto, and I think I demonstrated that pretty well tonight.”

Murphy, who is the first higher seed to fall so far in the tournament, becomes emotional back in the locker room.

“I’m tired of losing,” Murphy says. “I’m so (expletive) tired of losing. I was already coming off a loss coming into this showm and I thought maybe dropping to 125 was going to be the answer to all my problems, and clearly it’s not. I’m away from my family and I just miss them so much. It’s hard to go through a loss like this and be the upset in the show and not have them here to comfort me.”

Team Gaethje takes a 3-1 lead in the competition with Montano’s victory. Team Gaethje takes control of fight selection, and with his choice, coach Gaethje selects No. 5 Maia Stevenson to go up against No. 12 Sijara Eubanks of Team Alvarez next.

Also see:

Catch new episodes of “The Ultimate Fighter 26: A New World Champion” every Wednesday at 10 p.m. ET (7 p.m. PT) on FS1. MMAjunkie recaps each episode of the reality series.

Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

Twitter Mailbag: Demetrious Johnson chases UFC history, makes a questionable nickname change

Should the UFC flyweight champ be worried about his challenger making weight for a potentially historic bout? Are we buying “Mighty” as a new nickname? Is Reebok finally taking some strides in the right direction?

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

In order for Demetrious Johnson to “fix” it, he’d first have to care about it. If we can believe anything he’s said in the past, he doesn’t. He feels like he’s made his case, he does what he does, and either you want to watch him or you don’t.

So sure, if we need to assign blame, we can give him his portion based on that. Then again, if you’re paying close attention you’ll see he gives us a lot of the stuff we say we want from fighters.

Finishes? He put away two of his last three challengers, and six out of 10 overall. Mic skills? Here he is explaining how pretty he looks after a successful title defense, and here he is calling out Chael Sonnen and Conor McGregor. You want an aggressive mean steak? Here he is telling Herb Dean to get out of the way so he can keep beating up John Dodson even after being kicked in the junk.

Anyone who has interviewed the man can tell you, Johnson is not boring to listen to. One problem might be that, aside from his social media presence, which is great if you’re into video game streaming stuff and maybe not so much otherwise, we don’t get a chance to hear from him that often. The only time he really gets the mic is right before and right after his fights, then he goes back to being ignored.

Still, that doesn’t explain it all. Part of it is his size. The same way people will watch even garbage heavyweights, just because they’re so mesmerized by the spectacle of all that power, they’re less interested in the smallest fighters, even when they’re basically modern-day ninjas.

Part of it is also the entrenched narrative surrounding him. The story with him is always that he’s so good, yet so few people seem to care. Even UFC President Dana White has complained about it. It’s a guaranteed discussion point before every title defense, and it kind of has to be, but it doesn’t exactly make people want to check out his fight.

As for what he could do to fix it, clearly winning a bunch of fights isn’t enough. Neither is dominating and finishing people. Neither is straight-up telling us how great (and pretty) he is. Unless he feels like gaining roughly 100 pounds, I’m at a loss.

Ray Borg has missed weight for two of his last four flyweight fights, so yeah, it has to be a concern. But unlike T.J. Dillashaw, Borg has also made the flyweight limit many, many times in his career. As in, way more times than he’s missed it. So at least we know he’s capable of it, which we didn’t know about Dillashaw.

Sorry, no, I just can’t sit here and pretend like that’s his nickname now. I get that “Mighty Mouse” is a copyright-protected character, but if he’s going to change up, he needs to change all the way up. A lot of people can go by “Mighty.” People with the last name Johnson are not among them.

Personalized gear is a huge improvement. Ideally, it wouldn’t be something reserved for champions and headliners, since it’s usually those lower down on the totem pole who are most in need of a way to stand out, but still.

You might recall that personalized merchandise was one of the early promises of the Reebok deal. Then we watched a bunch of fights between one dude in white-with-black shorts against another dude in black-with-white shorts, and gradually we lowered our expectations.

Things have improved since then, and it looks like they’re improving still. Hopefully that trajectory holds, because if you actually want to sell this stuff to fans of these individual fighters, you probably need to do more than just spell their names right.

Gilbert Melendez fought for the WEC back when it was still in single digits in terms of events. He fought for Shooto back when it was cool. He fought in PRIDE. He fought in the very first Strikeforce event. He fought in one of the last Strikeforce events.

The point is, Melendez had a whole well-traveled career’s worth of fights before he even got to the UFC. Now he’s 35, riding a three-fight losing streak, and the main question is how much longer he’ll try to hold on.

If he loses to Jeremy Stephens at UFC 215 on Saturday, that’s four straight, at which point it would make some sense to let him go. Of course, his old pal Scott Coker would probably love to reunite with him in Bellator, so there’s that to consider, too.

What I’m curious about is which Melendez we’ll see here. He can put his head down and brawl when he wants to. But then, Stephens would love that more than anything. Typically, the alternative for Melendez is to wall-and-stall, and that’s no fun to watch. But then, if your future might be on the line, maybe you don’t care so much what we want to see.

One of the things that I secretly like about MMA is that it will never get so mainstream or so corporate and professional that we won’t be able to find a bizarre event somewhere in the world filled with all manner of ridiculousness.

And, be honest, if I told you that a fighter in the UFC had jumped out of the cage after trading fouls with his opponent, you’d have to at least check a few websites before you felt sure enough to call me a liar.

Barb Honchak was the Invicta FC champ. Lauren Murphy’s been in the UFC since 2014. Roxanne Modafferi has fought all over the place, seemingly forever.

My point? There are some legit fighters on this season of “The Ultimate Fighter.”

But, OK, there are also some with far less experience. That’s par for the TUF course though, isn’t it? You can never accuse the producers of forgetting that it’s reality TV and not just an athletic competition. On every season there are people who are there to win and move on, and then there are people who are there to make things interesting. It’s been that way since the beginning, and it’ll be that way until TUF is finally cancelled in the year 2098.

Give it a few more months and it might turn out to be USADA’s sample cup.

Oh boy, where to even begin with this. First of all, does pointing out that someone is one of the best fighters in the world really count as “defending” him? Because apart from that, I can’t see what there is to defend Johnson from. He doesn’t run around committing crimes or failing drug tests. He doesn’t say a bunch of stupid stuff on Twitter. He doesn’t need much defending, as far as I can tell.

But then there’s the unstated premise of your question, which is that the MMA media should limit itself to covering only those topics that “mainstream fans” care about. So, basically, just wall-to-wall coverage of Conor McGregor and Ronda Rousey, with a sprinkling of Jon Jones and Brock Lesnar.

And the thing is, there are already is tons of coverage of all those subjects. Any excuse to write about them, we do. But the media’s job isn’t just to accumulate clicks. The media has a responsibility to pursue and report relevant, meaningful stories. They won’t always be the most popular or profitable stories, but they’re still important, even if they occasionally get in the way of rehashing whatever was on McGregor’s Instagram page today.

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: Featured, News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

Meet 'The Ultimate Fighter 26' cast: Lauren Murphy, UFC veteran who made 'no-brainer' decision

if(typeof(jQuery)==”function”){(function($){$.fn.fitVids=function(){}})(jQuery)};
jwplayer(‘jwplayer_3XYR50tG_FLu19iir_div’).setup(
{“playlist”:”http://content.jwplatform.com/jw6/3XYR50tG.xml”}
);

Filed under: News, UFC, Videos

LAS VEGAS – “The Ultimate Fighter” returned this week for its 26th season, which will culminate with the crowning of the inaugural UFC women’s flyweight champion.

MMAjunkie recently sat down with all 16 cast members. Watch the video above to get to know Lauren Murphy (9-3, 1-3 UFC), who discussed why she decided to join the ‘TUF’ cast despite already being on the UFC roster, being away from her husband and son, and more.

“The Ultimate Fighter 26,” featuring former UFC and Bellator champion Eddie Alvarez and former WSOF champ Justin Gaethje as coaches, airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET on FS1.

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

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