Jussier Formiga vs. Ben Nguyen, Tyson Pedro vs. Saparbek Safarov added to UFC 221 in Perth

The UFC’s debut event in Perth is beginning to take shape with the addition of its first two fights.

A flyweight bout between Jussier Formiga (20-5 MMA, 3-4 UFC) and Ben Nguyen (17-6 MMA, 4-1 UFC), as well as a light heavyweight matchup between Tyson Pedro (6-1 MMA, 2-1 UFC) and Saparbek Safarov (8-1 MMA, 0-1 UFC), are set to go down at February’s UFC 221 event.

The fights were announced by thewest.com.au.

UFC 221 takes place Feb. 10 at Perth Arena. The main card airs on pay-per-view following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass.

Formiga has alternated wins and losses in his past five UFC fights. He’s coming off a first-round submission of Ulka Sasaki at UFC Fight Night 117 in September. He meets the streaking Nguyen, who has won 10 of his past 11 bouts and is coming off a 49-second submission of Tim Elliott at UFC Fight Night 110 in June.

Pedro, meanwhile, will attempt to rebound after experiencing his first pro loss against Ilir Latifi at UFC 215 in September. He clashes with Safarov, who will return to the octagon for the first time since losing a “Fight of the Night” against Gian Villante in his debut at UFC Fight Night 102 in December.

For more on UFC 221, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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Source: MMA Junkie

Sean Shelby's Shoes: What's next for Valentina Shevchenko and UFC 215's other losing fighters?

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(ALSO SEE: Sean Shelby’s Shoes: What’s next for UFC 215’s winning fighters?)

UFC 215 took place Saturday at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, with a five-fight pay-pay-per-view main card.

Valentina Shevchenko (14-3 MMA, 3-2 UFC) fell short of claiming the UFC women’s bantamweight title in the headliner when she suffered a split-decision loss to Amanda Nunes (15-4 MMA, 8-1 UFC) to experience her second UFC blemish, both of which have come against “The Lioness.”

Some other fighters suffered notable losses, as well, with Neil Magny (19-6 MMA, 12-5 UFC) and Wilson Reis (22-8 MMA, 6-4 UFC) suffering stoppage losses, and Tyson Pedro (6-1 MMA, 2-1 UFC) and Gilbert Melendez (22-7 MMA, 1-5 UFC) falling short on the scorecards.

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 215’s losing fighters.

* * * *

Gilbert Melendez

Jason Knight

Should fight: Jason Knight
Why they should fight: Melendez’s experimental drop to the featherweight division didn’t go according to plan against Jeremy Stephens, and now the former Strikeforce champion is sitting on a four-fight losing skid and is winless over a nearly four-year period.

Although he’s had two title shots and a “Fight of the Year” contender with Diego Sanchez in 2013, Melendez’s run in the UFC can likely be summed up as disappointing, especially when considering only the number of wins and losses.

At 35, it remains to be seen if Melendez will want to continue to fight much longer, especially with ownership of his own gym and an analyst gig with ESPN. Assuming he wants to continue, and stay at featherweight, a number of interesting fights are available in the division.

A slugger such as Knight (20-3 MMA, 4-2 UFC) could potentially bring out the best in Melendez, and if it went the other way, Knight would add a legitimate name to his resume following a knockout loss to Ricardo Lamas at UFC 214 in July.

Tyson Pedro

Gian Villante

Should fight: Gian Villante
Why they should fight: Pedro experienced the first defeat of his career when he fell short with a unanimous-decision loss to Swedish powerhouse Ilir Latifi.

After a six-fight winning streak to begin his career, Pedro couldn’t rise to the level of his most elite opponent to date, and that shows he’s not quite ready for the higher-tier fighters in the light-heavyweight division.

A matchup with Villante (15-9 MMA, 5-6 UFC) wouldn’t be a big step back from Latifi, but he would present a winnable fight for the Australian that would also afford him a chance to add a notable name to his resume.

Wilson Reis

Brandon Moreno

Should fight: Brandon Moreno
Why they should fight: After being handed a brutal beatdown at the hands of flyweight champ Demetrious Johnson earlier this year, Reis took an even more one-sided loss when Henry Cejudo knocked him out cold in the matchup of former title challengers.

Reis was unable to accomplish anything in just over a round of cage time with Cejudo, and he got picked apart and ultimately finished with a series of second-round strikes. It’s unfamiliar territory for the Brazilian, who had never been finished in the UFC prior to this current skid.

Given the nature of his past two fights, it would probably be in Reis’ best interest to take a little time off. Once he’s recovered and recharged, though, a bout with fellow grappling specialist Moreno (14-4 MMA, 3-1 UFC) would be as compelling as any other available option at 125 pounds.

Neil Magny

Gunnar Nelson

Should fight: Gunnar Nelson
Why they should fight: After sitting out for eight months, Magny suffered a setback in his return to the octagon in the form of a first-round submission loss to former UFC lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos.

Magny has been stellar over the past few years, but in recent fights, he’s run into some issues that have prevented him from getting his hand raised. The American will need to make some adjustments in order to reach greater heights in the division, but many compelling matchups remain.

Nelson (16-3-1 MMA, 7-3 UFC) dangerous ground game and evolving striking would clash well with Magny’s versatile offense and defense. Both men would enter the fight off a loss, meaning even greater stakes and risk when they share the octagon.

Valentina Shevchenko

Should fight: Sara McMann
Why they should fight: Watch the video above to see why Shevchenko should fight McMann (11-4 MMA, 5-4 UFC) next after her title-fight loss.

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

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Source: MMA Junkie

UFC 215 results: Ilir Latifi's wrestling hands Tyson Pedro first pro loss

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Swedish sledgehammer Ilir Latifi (13-5 MMA, 6-3 UFC) appeared recharged after a year away from competition, outworking previously undefeated prospect Tyson Pedro (6-1 MMA, 2-1 UFC) for a decision win.

The light heavyweight bout was part of today’s UFC 215 main card, which took place at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, and aired on pay-per-view.

The taller Pedro kept his range early, chopping at the legs with a few early techniques. Latifi tried to fire a counter right in reply, but Pedro avoided the powerful blows. However, Latifi did catch a subsequent low kick and drive the fight to the canvas, moving to north-south. Pedro answered perfectly with a scramble back to the feet, where he landed a big kick to the body that seemed to stun his foe. A Pedro high kick nearly scored flush but saw Latifi again drive the action to the canvas. Still, Pedro was again quick in his scramble to the feet, where he defended a takedown and landed a few strikes against the cage.

Pedro again looked to attack the legs to start the second, thought Latifi was strong in reply. Pedro tried to stay at range, but Latifi did a good job of managing distance and working past the reach to attack. Latifi eventually used heavy punches to drive his way into a clinch, where he absorbed a few short strikes but then slammed Pedro to the canvas. Pedro worked hard to get back to his feet but was peppered by several big left hands on the way up. Latifi kept hold of the clinch until the bell, controlling his bigger foe.

Pedro again chopped the leg in the third, but Latifi was there to answer with huge punches over the top. The pace was moderate, but both men were firing with power. Latifi’s left eye was busted up a bit from the damage, but he was certainly landing his share of big strikes on the feet, as well. Latifi eventually pushed forward and wrapped the body, slamming Pedro to the floor and then working hard to establish firm top control. Pedro tried to work in a few elbows while on his back, but Latifi was happy to simply maintain the dominant position. Pedro suffered a cut over the left eye in the final minute, and Latifi just grinded his way to the bell, where he was granted a hard-earned decision, 29-28, 29-28 and 30-27.

Latifi is now 4-1 in his past five appearances. Pedro comes up short for the first time in his career, with the fight also marking the first time one of his bouts moved past the first frame.

Up-to-the-minute UFC 215 results include:

For more on UFC 215, visit the UFC Events section of the site.

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Source: MMA Junkie

UFC 215's Ilir Latifi not ready to judge Jon Jones during turbulent time for 205-pound division

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EDMONTON – Despite Jon Jones’ lengthy history of mishaps, Ilir Latifi is not rushing to condemn the UFC light heavyweight champion after his latest incident involving a failed drug test.

Latifi (12-5 MMA, 5-3 UFC), who fights Tyson Pedro (6-0 MMA, 2-0 UFC) on Saturday’s UFC 215 main card following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, said he’s going to hold off making any bold proclamations about Jones (23-1 MMA, 17-1 UFC) following his positive UFC 214 drug test.

The Swedish fighter knows the top of the division is filled with uncertainty due to Jones’ situation, but he feels “Bones” is entitled to due process before final judgments are made.

“I was surprised, but I think it’s too early to judge anybody or anything,” Latifi told MMAjunkie at Wednesday’s UFC 215 media day. “Let’s see when all the evidence and everything is in place and what’s going to come out of it.”

Regardless of what happens to Jones, though, Latifi believes the 205-pound division is going to be fine. He said there are a number of worthwhile athletes in the weight class, and that’s not going to change regardless of whether Jones is active or suspended.

“All divisions have these periods when there’s a lot of turbulence in the division, you don’t know what’s going to happen,” Latifi said. “You see a lot of good fighters now coming in the division, getting up and whether Jon Jones is there or is not, it’s a division that a lot of people are aiming for that title and reaching for it. Anything can happen.”

Latifi has been part of the UFC roster for more than four years but still believes he’s yet to hit his potential. He may be coming off a knockout loss to Ryan Bader at UFC Fight Night 93 in September 2016 but said he can again become someone to look out for with a win over Pedro.

Pedro has just two UFC appearances to his name and is one of the fresher faces on the roster, but Latifi said he’s not discrediting the Australian.

“I think all the fighters that fight in the UFC are top-level athletes,” Latifi said. “They’re world (class) fighters, and everybody is a tough opponent here. It doesn’t matter if it’s the UFC champ or a debuting fighter. Everybody is here to win and become the best.”

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

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Source: MMA Junkie

UFC-Auckland Q&A notebook: Pena vs. Nunes, Pedro vs. Latifi, Stann vs. anyone

AUCKLAND, New Zealand – The UFC doesn’t visit New Zealand very often. After all, this weekend’s UFC Fight Night 110 event marks just the second trip the company has made to the island nation, and the first was three years ago.

So when Kiwi UFC fans get a chance to see their favorite fighters up close, they make the most of it, as proven at this weekend’s traditional fan Q&A session.

UFC Fight Night 110 takes place Sunday (but airs live in the U.S. on Saturday due to time difference) at Spark Arena in Auckland, New Zealand. It airs on FS1 following early prelims on UFC Fight Pass.

One day prior, “The Ultimate Fighter 18” winner Julianna Pena, Australian light heavyweight prospect Tyson Pedro, and former UFC fighter and current commentator Brian Stann stepped on stage and answered everything thrown their way. We’ve featured some of the best moments.

The Q&A started out on a serious note, with the session’s very first question asking whether or not the fighters, including Stann, believed they deserved a bigger piece of the UFC pie, including revenues from broadcasting contracts, as well as sponsors like Reebok.

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Later, the fighters were asked about their next potential fight, and Pedro teased a few intriguing matchups that he’d heard might very well be possible. Meanwhile, Pena didn’t say she had anything lined up but admitted she would have a watchful eye on the UFC 213 headliner between UFC women’s bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes and challenger Valentina Shevchenko.

Pena also wasn’t afraid to reveal her gameplan for defeating Nunes, who “The Ultimate Fighter 18” winner does find beatable.

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Meanwhile, fans also wanted to know if Stann might be willing to step back inside the octagon. After all, if fellow UFC commentator Dan Hardy has expressed his desire for one more go, could “The All-American” find himself in a similar position.

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Of course, any gathering of MMA fighters that includes questions and answers wouldn’t be complete without addressing the fantasy matchup between Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor, and today was no different. One answer may surprise – and definitely got a few laughs.

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Things took a turn toward the more bizarre as things wore on, and some of the questions got a little less relevant. But one New Zealander heard Pena admit she had been a little cold thus far in her time in Auckland. After all, it is winter in the Southern Hemisphere. That was all the opportunity this fan needed to drop a little pickup line.

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Finally, all three athletes were asked to share a story about their very first fight – not the first time they stepped into the cage, but the first time they had to hold their hands up and look to defend themselves. The answers got pretty interesting, and it turns out one of the fighters knows a little more about “Fight Club” than you do.

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

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

Watch today's UFC Q&A with Whittaker, Pena, Pedro and Hardy at 7 p.m. ET

Filed under: News, UFC, Videos

AUCKLAND, New Zealand – Prior to today’s UFC Fight Night 110 ceremonial weigh-ins, you can watch a star-studded Q&A here on MMAjunkie at 7 p.m. ET (4 p.m. PT).

Hosted by UFC vet/commentator Dan Hardy, the fan and media event includes a trio of current UFC fighters: Robert Whittaker, Juliana Pena and Tyson Pedro.

All four participants take questions from fans and media during the one-hour session.

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

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Source: MMA Junkie