Nadia Kassem wants Paige VanZant flyweight fight after missing 115 pounds in UFC debut


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SYDNEY – The last time Nadia Kassem mixed it up with Alex Chambers was during a training session before she was even a pro fighter.

This time was on the prelims of UFC Fight Night 121 in Sydney, where Kassem (5-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC) won a unanimous decision in her UFC debut, and she’s hoping for a much higher profile bout in her next outing as a result.

“I would love to fight Paige VanZant at 125 (pounds),” Kassem said. “She beat Alex previously, I just beat her tonight, and I feel like that would make the most sense.”

It would also make things a little easier on Kassem, who missed weight for this 115-pound affair and found herself trying to explain it in post-fight remarks backstage.

“I tried my best,” Kassem told MMAjunkie. “I stopped sweating in the sauna. I was in there all night, cutting water weight for a whole day. … Everyone feels like crap in the sauna. Sweatsuit on, the boys are sweating, and I’m not. That scares me.”

According to Kassem, she had to practically be carried back to her room, which resulted in a blown weight cut that was “not professional,” but at least it ended in a victory in front of her hometown crowd after a strong performance against the more experienced Chambers (5-4 MMA, 1-3 UFC).

“It was an awesome feeling getting a win,” Kassem said. “I was attacking the (submissions), going for everything. My heart was on the line. I wanted to prove a point that I’m here to stay.”

For complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 121, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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Source: MMA Junkie

UFC Fight Night 121 results: Nadia Kassem goes the distance to top gritty Alex Chambers

After averaging just 36 seconds a fight her first four pro bouts, Nadia Kassem got a taste of 15 minutes in the UFC against Alex Chambers. She passed the test.

Kassem (5-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC) took a unanimous decision from Chambers (5-4 MMA, 1-3 UFC) with a pair of 29-27 scores and a 29-28. Chambers was returning after more than two years away.

The catchweight bout (Kassem missed the strawweight limit) was part of the preliminary card of today’s UFC Fight Night 121 event at at Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney. It streamed on UFC Fight Pass ahead of the rest of the card on FS1.

Chambers pushed Kassem to the outside and kicked the inside leg. Kassem fired back with some leg kicks of her own, then tried to take Chambers down. But Chambers stayed upright and caught a kick from Kassem. Chambers tied Kassem up, but couldnt’ take her down on the fence, and Kassem landed a punch to force the break. But 90 seconds in, Chambers put a nice combination together, then landed a big left hook.

She drove in and took Kassem to the canvas. Kassem worked for a heel hook in defense midway through, which was a dangerous spot for Chambers, who was returning after two years off thanks to knee surgeries. But with 90 seconds left, Chambers powered through and got on top in half-guard looking to land elbows and punches to the body.

Kassem worked kicks from the outisde early in the second, but after an exchange 15 seconds in she found herself on the canvas again. Kassem got back to her feet, but Chambers tired for a standing arm-triangle choke. Kassem broke away with a kick, then missed a left hand that allowed Chambers to tie her up again. Chambers landed a right on the break, then kept pushing forward. Kassem landed a punch and kick combo, then two more kicks to the body.

On the second, though, Chambers caught it and took Kassem back to the canvas for her third takedown. Kassem stayed aggressive from her back and went after a triangle choke. She got it and transitioned to an armbar when Chambers tried to move out. Kassem punched to the head, then stayed after the choke with plenty of time to work. On the ground, Chambers stepped over and was in danger from the armbar. She survived it, but Kassem got on top and pounded away trying to get the finish, but Chambers made her way to the third.

Kassem came out swinging in the third, but Chambers pushed forward and tried to close the distance. Kassem saw the takedown attempt coming 30 seconds in and kicked to the body. Kassem threw a nice trio of kicks a minute in. Ninety seconds in, Kassem suddenly got a bit cocky and lifted her arms, beckoning Chambers forward. It may have been a mistake, though – Chambers took her down soon after and went to work on top with more than three minutes to go.

Kassem tried to set up a triangle again from her back, then attacked the arm again. Chambers stood up, but when she went back down, Kassem threatened with a heel hook again. That let Kassem back into it, and she tried a reverse triangle. With a minute left, Chambers got back to her feet and pressed Kassem to the fence. With 40 seconds left, Kassem landed a big head kick, tehn a knee and another head kick. Chambers walked through them, but Kassem made sure to steal the round late.

Kassem continued the perfect start to her pro career with her fifth straight win. Chambers has lost back-to-back fights, including a submission loss to Paige VanZant in September 2015. She has lost three of her past four.

Up-to-the-minute UFC Fight Night 121 results include:

For complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 121, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

(MMAjunkie’s John Morgan contributed to this report on site in Sydney.)

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Source: MMA Junkie

Ahead of UFC Fight Night 121, try to not be moved by the Mokhtarian brothers' passion


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SYDNEY – It’s somewhat of a family affair for the Mokhtarians at UFC Fight Night 121.

When he enters the octagon at Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney to meet Ryan Benoit (9-5 MMA, 2-3 UFC), Ashkan Mokhtarian (13-2 MMA, 0-1 UFC) will have his brother, Suman, on his corner. Suman (8-0 MMA) not only is a fellow MMA fighter and the head coach of Australian Top Team, he’s also the person who, at 16, gave Ashkan the wake-up call he needed to turn his turbulent life around.

So, as he looks to rebound from a UFC debut loss to John Moraga, Ashkan must give credit where it’s due.

“I can’t see myself losing,” Mokhtarian told reporters in a lengthy, passionate chat ahead of the FS1-televised preliminary card bout. “I hope (Benoit) brings the fight, because I’m there to fight. I’ve got the best coaches. I’ve got the best support crew. I can’t ask for anything more. It’s not just a coach I have next to me: I have my right hand man. I have my brother.

“When I have an insecurity, when I have something that I’m worried about, I look at him with full confidence that he’s going to give me the upmost truth. And there’s where I believe most of my confidence and most of my victories come from.”

Ashkan means the “next to me” bit literally – as he stood in front of the cameras after this week’s open workouts, his brother was by his side. Suman, it turns out, will be cornering another Australian Top Team member that night: his girlfriend, Nadia Kassem.

Kassem (4-0 MMA, 0-0 UFC) makes her UFC debut opposite Alex Chambers (5-3 MMA, 1-2 UFC) in a strawweight bout in the UFC Fight Pass-streamed preliminary portion of the evening.

When brought into the conversation by reporters, Suman is clear in that the occasion is not about him – rather, it’s about Ashkan and Kassem. But, once he gets started, it’s hard to miss a somewhat familiar impassioned tone.

“Obviously it’s a bit stressful – I’ve got my brother and my girlfriend on the same card,” Suman said. “But, just like my brother, when the bright lights are on him, usually he’s going to come to perform. I think I’ve had to step my game up, like my brother says, as a father, a husband, as boyfriend, as a coach, as a brother, I had to step up as well. It’s made us all better people, together.

“In a time like this – my brother can be selfish, my girlfriend can be selfish, I can be selfish. But in times like that, in times when we fight, when we make up, it kind of makes us all better. And it drives us all to be just a little bit hungrier.”

Mokhtarian and Kassem might be the only two representatives of Australian Top Team in the UFC for now. But like Ashkan, who believes soon it will be his brother up there, Suman is fully confident that this is just the beginning of what the team is going to accomplish.

“Don’t be surprised if next year you see five, six of us in the UFC,” Suman said.

To hear Ashkan and Suman Mokhtarian’s full speeches, which we highly recommend, check out the video above.

And for more on UFC Fight Night 121, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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Source: MMA Junkie

Report: Aussies Alex Chambers, Nadia Kassem booked for UFC Fight Night 121 in Sydney

The UFC’s return to the “Land Down Under” has another fight ticketed for the card, and it’s between a pair of Aussies who used to train together.

According to a report from in the Netherlands, Alex Chambers (5-3 MMA, 1-2 UFC) will take on Nadia Kassem (4-0 MMA, 0-0 UFC) in a women’s strawweight bout at UFC Fight Night 122. UFC officials have not made a formal announcement of the booking.

UFC Fight Night 121 takes place Nov. 19 (but airs in the U.S. on Nov. 18 due to the time difference) at Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney. It’s expected to air on FS1 following early prelims on UFC Fight Pass.

Chambers will be fighting in front of her home fans in Sydney, where she’s based. She’ll be looking to get back on track following a submission loss to Paige VanZant at UFC 191 back in September 2015. She’s been on the sidelines since then.

Prior to her loss to VanZant, she picked up a bonus for a submission of Kailin Curran in Australia to bounce back after a loss to Aisling Daly at the TUF 20 Finale after appearing on that season of the show trying to become the UFC’s first strawweight champion. Chambers is a perfect 4-0 when fighting in Australia, so will be looking to five wins in her home country.

Kassem was supposed to make her promotional debut in June in New Zealand, but an injury took her out of a fight against J.J. Aldrich. She told The Daily Telegraph in Australia that prior to her amateur debut, she did some training with Chambers, who already was in the UFC.

The 21-year-old Kassem has all four of her pro wins by knockout – in a combined 2:22 of fight time. She has wins in 26 seconds, 10 seconds, 19 seconds and 87 seconds, but Chambers will be her biggest name opponent yet.

With the addition, UFC Fight Night 121 now includes:

  • Mark Hunt vs. Marcin Tybura
  • Joanne Calderwood vs. Bec Rawlings
  • Belal Muhammad vs. Jesse Taylor
  • Jeremy Kennedy vs. Alex Volkanovski
  • Rashad Coulter vs. Tai Tuivasa
  • Ryan Benoit vs. Ashkan Mokhtarian
  • Alex Chambers vs. Nadia Kassem

For more on UFC Fight Night 121, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

J.J. Aldrich: Spunky 19-year-old Chanmi Jeon was 'out of her element' at UFC-Auckland

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AUCKLAND, New Zealand – J.J. Aldrich was dominant in her first UFC victory when she halted the undefeated streak of prospect Chanmi Jeon at UFC Fight Night 110 on Saturday.

Jeon (5-1 MMA, 0-1 UFC) accepted the fight on short notice after Aldrich’s (5-2 MMA, 1-1 UFC) originally scheduled opponent, Nadia Kassem, suffered an injury. At 19, the South Korean fighter became the youngest member of the UFC roster.

She missed weight, though, and was required to forfeit 20 percent of purse to her opponent in the unanimous-decision loss. Aldrich said she wasn’t bothered by the situations leading up to fight night, and while she wasn’t thrilled with her opponent missing weight, she was just thankful to fight.

“My last fight was a last-minute fight, I took it on seven days’ (notice), and I still made the weight,” Aldrich told MMAjunkie. “She came in at fight week lower than I did and couldn’t make the weight, so I think it’s just maybe being from a different country, not knowing how to do it yet.

“I know it’s her first time trying to make 115, so I’m just appreciative she still stepped up and took the fight and I got it done. I can’t complain.”

Aldrich’s victory over Jeon took place on the UFC Fight Pass early prelims of UFC Fight Night 110, which streamed prior the televised card on FS1 at Spark Arena in Auckland, New Zealand.

Prior to her UFC debut, Jeon had competed only in her home country against inferior opposition. She hung tough despite 30-27 scorecards across the board in Aldrich’s favor, but when time ran out, the American viewed experience as a deciding factor.

“She’s kind of out her element a little bit,” Aldrich said. “She’s used to being like the hometown hero, so I think her confidence was pretty high coming in just because of that. She’s never been in a tough situation. She’s always had good fights and had high confidence. (There was) no reason for her to come in here without it.”

After falling short against Juliana Lima at UFC Fight Night 102 in December in her own short-notice UFC debut, Aldrich is in the UFC win column and ready to proceed with her career. She’s not wasting any time, either; she already a name and date in mind for her next trip to the octagon.

“I had a great time out here in New Zealand, and I heard there’s a card in Sydney,” Aldrich said. “I would love to get on that card in November. The girl that I was originally supposed to fight, Nadia, she got hurt, but that’s her hometown in Australia, so I’d love to go fight her in Sydney in November.”

For complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 110, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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Source: MMA Junkie