Category Archives: UFC 211

Before UFC-Pittsburgh main event, watch David Branch's successful return to the UFC

Filed under: News, UFC, Videos

Earlier this year, David Branch made some waves when he vacated his pair of WSOF titles to return to the UFC.

His trip back was a successful one. Branch took a split decision from Krzysztof Jotko at UFC 211 in May, running his winning streak to 11. The bout was his first in the UFC since 2011. After his first stint with the promotion, he eventually caught on with WSOF and won both the middleweight and light heavyweight titles.

On Saturday, Branch (21-3 MMA, 3-2 UFC) gets arguably the biggest fight of his career when he takes on former UFC middleweight champ Luke Rockhold (15-3 MMA, 5-2 UFC) in the UFC Fight Night 116 main event at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh. The card airs on FS1 following an early prelim on UFC Fight Pass.

Can Branch pull off the upset and insert himself into middleweight title contention? We’ll find out on Saturday. But first, check out his win over Jotko in full above.

For more on UFC Fight Night 116, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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

How Yair Rodriguez has been dealing with first UFC loss

http://link.brightcove.com/services/player/bcpid4621179066001?bckey=AQ~~,AAAABvaL8JE~,ufBHq_I6FnxR-PQW_F3sm5QdUbP7D6E9&bctid=5535393551001
Filed under: News, UFC, Videos

Yair Rodriguez won’t go so far as to say his first UFC loss was a good thing, but he’ll tell you he’s learned a lot from it.

Rodriguez (10-2 MMA, 6-1 UFC) was coming off his most high-profile win yet – a second-round TKO  victory over former two-division champ and UFC Hall of Famer B.J. Penn – when former lightweight champion Frankie Edgar (22-5-1 MMA, 16-5-1 UFC) came into the picture.

For Rodriguez, who’d been looking increasingly sharp with every octagon outing, a pay-per-view main-card spot against an ex-champ had the makings of a career-defining moment. But it was Edgar who rose above at UFC 211, dominating Rodriguez for two rounds before a badly swollen eye deemed the rising star unable to continue.

The win turned Edgar into the most likely challenger to champ Max Holloway’s recently-conquered featherweight belt. For Rodriguez, it provided another opportunity: growth.

“I learned a lot from that fight,” Rodriguez told MMAjunkie. “I actually think that it was – I’m not saying good, but I’m learning a lot from it. I feel like I used to have a lot of weight on my back. And now that I lost, that fear went away. So now, whatever happens, I don’t care. I don’t really care. I’m just only looking one way, and that’s forward.”

Rodriguez, No. 14 in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA featherweight rankings, has since taken some time off to travel, visit his family and tend to some media obligations. But he’s also been working on addressing what exactly went wrong. That involved being back at the gym the Monday after the fight – with the limitations imposed by the hurt eye, of course – and exhaustively reviewing what happened during it.

“I was moving; I was doing some light sparring, some shadow-boxing,” Rodriguez said. “You’ve got to keep going – shake it off and move on. I was watching the film of the fight several times a day, for probably like two weeks just to see what I was doing wrong. And, well, I learned from it.”

Ultimately, Rodriguez doesn’t want to make excuses for the setback. Edgar, he said, did a great job. But in hindsight, Rodriguez thinks something was off about his own mindset that night.

“I think my mental side, it wasn’t there,” Rodriguez said. “I trained really hard. I always train really hard. And I think the most important thing sometimes in a fight is being healthy up here – in your thoughts, or whatever. And I wasn’t. I just wasn’t. I wasn’t there. I lost the fight, I accept the loss, and I don’t want to put any excuses.”

Was it maybe the added weight that came with not only being a young, exciting prospect – but one who became such a key piece when it came to the Latin American fanbase and market?

“Probably, a little bit,” Rodriguez said. “But I can tell you it wasn’t an excuse. Because I feel a lot of support. But I used to feel a lot of pressure, as well. Even myself – I was putting a lot of pressure on myself. Either in training or my life.”

After a busy few weeks, Rodriguez said he’s now looking to slow down on the media obligations, take one week off to rest and review things, and get back at it. He’d like to fight once more before year’s end. As for whom that return might be against, Rodriguez neither knows nor cares. He does know one thing, though.

“I don’t ask for opponents,” Rodriguez said. “But whatever comes, I’ll be ready for it. Like I’m telling you – if I used to be afraid, I’m not anymore.”

To hear more from Rodriguez, check out the video above.

And for more on UFC 211, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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

Reports: Cortney Casey's Texas suspension from UFC 211 lifted, win over Aguilar restored

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In the wake of a statement from the UFC calling for one of its fighters to be exonerated in a recent anti-doping case in Texas, the state’s athletic commission has reversed its decision.

According to reports from BloodyElbow.com and MMAFighting.com, the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation on Friday sent Cortney Casey (7-4 MMA, 3-3 UFC) notification that her win over Jessica Aguilar (19-6 MMA, 0-2 UFC) at UFC 211 has been restored, and the 90-day suspension she had been given has been lifted.

After an initial test by a laboratory hired by the commission revealed a testosterone-to-epitestosterone (T/E) ratio slightly higher than 4-1, Casey’s “B” sample came back negative for banned substances and synthetic testosterone, Jeff Novitzky, the promotion’s VP of athlete health and performance, told MMAjunkie.

Last week, the promotion announced Casey was cleared of wrongdoing both by a World Anti-Doping Agency-accredited laboratory and a TDLR-hired lab after a failed post-fight drug test at UFC 211, which took place in March in Dallas.

Yet, the TDLR still hadn’t reversed its decision, prompting the UFC to release a statement Thursday night to put the pressure on. UFC President Dana White also spoke out on Twitter, imploring the TDLR to “get their (expletive) together for the protection of our athletes.”

The statement in full:

“UFC has made it very clear that it takes anti-doping very seriously, instituting the most comprehensive anti-doping program in sports. One of the keys to this program, and any effective world-class program, is ensuring that all athletes are treated to proper due process.

“UFC strawweight Cortney Casey’s recent case, stemming from her fight in Dallas on May 13, 2017, is a perfect example of the type of negative and damaging backlash for an athlete resulting from a false-positive. There is no better example than this for the need to have proper due process and testing in combat sports and professional sports anti-doping.

“Following the results of the additional tests at the WADA-accredited laboratory, proving that Cortney did not cheat nor break any rules, UFC is requesting that the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR) immediately reverse its ruling and exonerate Cortney of any wrongdoing.

“UFC has offered, and continues to offer, Texas and any other Commission and regulatory body around the world, the world-class expertise and experience of USADA, to assist them in properly carrying out anti-doping efforts in their state or country.”

After the initial test result, the TDLR declared Casey’s win over Aguilar a no-contest and suspended her for 90 days. She also was ordered to pay a fine between $2,000 and $5,000.

According to BloodyElbow.com, the letter Casey received from the TDLR said, in part: “After reexamination of the documents in our possession and careful examination of the Sample B results, your 90-day suspension is lifted effective June 29, 2017, the enforcement case dropped with no further action taken, and the bout “win” reinstated on your record.”

For more on UFC 211, visit the UFC events section of the site.

Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

UFC speaks out against Texas commission on Cortney Casey, calls for reversal in decision

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The UFC is not happy with the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation.

Last week the promotion announced that strawweight Cortney Casey was cleared of wrongdoing both by a World Anti-Doping Agency-accredited laboratory and a TDLR-hired lab after a failed post-fight drug test at UFC 211 in Dallas. Yet, the TDLR still hasn’t reversed its decision, which the UFC addressed in a statement Thursday night.

In full:

“UFC has made it very clear that it takes anti-doping very seriously, instituting the most comprehensive anti-doping program in sports. One of the keys to this program, and any effective world-class program, is ensuring that all athletes are treated to proper due process.

“UFC strawweight Cortney Casey’s recent case, stemming from her fight in Dallas on May 13, 2017, is a perfect example of the type of negative and damaging backlash for an athlete resulting from a false-positive. There is no better example than this for the need to have proper due process and testing in combat sports and professional sports anti-doping.

“Following the results of the additional tests at the WADA-accredited laboratory, proving that Cortney did not cheat nor break any rules, UFC is requesting that the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR) immediately reverse its ruling and exonerate Cortney of any wrongdoing.

“UFC has offered, and continues to offer, Texas and any other Commission and regulatory body around the world, the world-class expertise and experience of USADA, to assist them in properly carrying out anti-doping efforts in their state or country.”

Following her dominant unanimous-decision win over Jessica Aguilar (19-5 MMA, 0-1 UFC), Casey (6-4 MMA, 2-3 UFC) tested positive for elevated levels of testosterone during an in-competition screening, resulting in the bout being declared a no-contest by TDLR. Casey also was suspended 90 days and ordered to pay a fine between $2,000 and $5,000.

After an initial test by a laboratory hired by the commission revealed a testosterone-to-epitestosterone (T/E) ratio slightly higher than 4-1, Casey’s “B” sample came back negative for banned substances and synthetic testosterone, Jeff Novitzky, the promotion’s VP of athlete health and performance, last week told MMAjunkie.

UFC President Dana White himself also spoke out on Twitter, imploring the TDLR to “get their (expletive) together for the protection of our athletes.”

For more on UFC 211, visit the UFC events section of the site.

Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

Anti-doping chief: UFC may steer away from Texas after Cortney Casey cleared of wrongdoing

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According to the UFC’s anti-doping czar, Cortney Casey has been cleared of wrongdoing both by a WADA-accredited lab and a testing laboratory hired by the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation after she failed a post-fight drug test at UFC 211, which took place May 13 in Dallas.

After an initial test by a laboratory hired by the commission revealed a testosterone-to-epitestosterone (T/E) ratio slightly higher than 4-1, Casey’s “B” sample came back negative for banned substances and synthetic testosterone, Jeff Novitzky, the promotion’s VP of athlete health and performance, told MMAjunkie.

“Basically, she hadn’t done anything wrong,” he today said.

Yet the UFC women’s strawweight’s case remains “still under review” by the TDLR, which upon receiving the initial positive overturned Casey’s (6-4 MMA, 2-3 UFC) unanimous-decision win over Jessica Aguilar (19-5 MMA, 0-1 UFC), suspended her for 90 days, and ordered her to pay a fine between $2,000 and $5,000.

“It’s burning me up because the whole process has been unfair to begin with, and here we are 36 hours later,” said Novitzky, who said the WADA-accredited Sports Medicine Research and Testing Laboratory confirmed Casey’s negative and forwarded the results to the commission and UFC officials.

“This girl should be cleared publicly, and she hasn’t been yet,” he said.

Novitzky urged the TDLR to reverse its decision and cautioned the promotion could steer away future UFC events from Texas if the issue isn’t resolved.

“I think it’s pretty extreme, but thinking through things, if these problems aren’t fixed, the only recourse may be that we don’t make our athletes subject to this, and in the future, we can’t go to Texas,” he said. “I don’t think it’s going to get to that level, but certainly that’s been a topic of discussion.”

In a prepared statement, TDLR spokesperson Susan Stanford declined to comment on the matter and stated it’s still an open case.

She added: “The Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR) consistently reviews all Combative Sports program rules, including those related to anti-doping. During the last review of the rules TDLR received a single public comment related to drug testing procedures. That comment sought to include all prohibited drugs in the standard testing panel.

“The Department welcomes additional comments about anti-doping and other concerns from the public and industry affecting the combative sports program.”

Casey did not express confidence the matter would be resolved quickly and said she’s preparing to fight the decision if it’s not reversed.

“I just want things to be right,” she told MMAjunkie. “There have been mistakes. It’s just been an extreme lack of professionalism on their part. I really hope everything gets fixed and I can move on from this. But the way it looks, it’s not going to be that easy.”

Casey said the TDLR notified her via email on May 26 of the positive test, stating her T/E ratio was 5.4-1. After informing Novitzky, she took the TDLR’s offer to have her “B” sample tested at her expense.

Since then, she said she’s heard little from the commission other than receiving a phone call in early June from a TDLR inspector that flatly asked, “What did you take to elevate your testosterone?”

Novitzky said upon hearing of Casey’s failure, he immediately contacted the regulator and cautioned that Casey’s elevated levels could’ve come from a legal substance such as birth control, which the fighter takes, she said, “so I don’t get pregnant so I can fight.”

“There are instances where athletes have physiological issues within their body that they just naturally have higher T/E ratios,” Novitzky said. “An athlete could potentially be taking an allowed substance, potentially birth control, (and) they could suppress some of the epitestosterone and show a mildly elevated level.”

The response, Novitzky said, was a blanket statement that any T/E result over 4-1 is a positive test.

On Thursday morning, Novitzky said he was informed by the TDLR’s drug testing laboratory, Austin Mobile Drug Testing, that Casey had come back negative for banned substances and exogenous testosterone, backing a result forwarded to him by SMRTL.

“I reached out to the attorney general’s office, the commission, and the investigator – I said, ‘Hey, here are the results. When can we expect a redaction of her previously announced positive test?’” he said. “And it’s been complete radio silence. Here we are 36 hours later, and they have not communicated with me, and they have not communicated with Cortney.”

The alleged mistake highlighted a last-minute request from the TDLR to handle all drug testing for the event, Novitzky said. The UFC anti-doping partner had agreed to cover the majority of drug tests for the event but changed course just beforehand and announced they would test all competitors.

Still, Novitzky said USADA did conduct drug tests at the event, which is how Casey’s situation came into focus.

“It’s an awful scenario for her,” he said. “She’s always going to have to live with that. It’s a headline on Page 1 and a redaction on Page 12. My concern is that there will be others that don’t hear she was cleared and always will look at her as a cheater, and that’s simply not the case.”

Casey laughed when asked whether she felt vindicated by the test results. It’s not the first time she’s encountered trouble with an athletic commission overseeing her fight. A previous decision loss to Claudia Gadelha at UFC Fight Night 100 was marred with accusations from the Brazilian Athletic Commission (CABMMA) that she faked an injury to sell an illegal head kick from Gadelha. The commission later toned down its remarks.

“I knew from the beginning that it’s just a waiting game to get the test results back,” she said. “It was a shock to me when I was told about the original test results. I hardly take any supplements. It was just a matter of the proper testing being done to prove I wasn’t at fault in any way.

“But at the same time, my win’s taken away. Articles have been written. Until all that gets reversed, I don’t feel vindicated at all. I already knew that was clean. I already knew that I didn’t do anything wrong. They chose to release everything to the public. So now I’m having to backtrack instead of doing the test to begin with before they say anything. They kind of put me in the position where I have to do damage control.”

For more on UFC 211, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

Texas commission initially rejects Dustin Poirier's UFC 211 appeal, but manager presses on

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The Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation informed Dustin Poirier the no-contest declared in his UFC 211 bout against Eddie Alvarez will stand.

But Poirier’s rep is not giving up and argues the Texas commission is trying to sweep a bad decision under the rug.

“It’s so bizarre to me that they’re trying to railroad him without anybody knowing,” Poirier’s manager Robert Roveta told MMAjunkie.

In a letter sent May 31 to Roveta, obtained via public records request by MMAjunkie, TDLR Executive Director Brian Francis wrote that referee Herb Dean’s call was “consistent with the rules and laws and therefore did not affect the outcome of the bout.”

Dean called the bout a no-contest, ruling Alvarez (28-5 MMA, 3-2 UFC) did not intentionally land three illegal knees to the downed Poirier (21-5 MMA, 13-4 UFC) in the May 13 bout, which was regulated by the TDLR’s combative sports division and took place at American Airlines Center in Dallas.

Francis cited the TDLR’s statute on accidental injuries, which states a no-contest must be ruled if a competitor is accidentally injured in the first four rounds of bout.

“Although the referee determined that Mr. Alvarez committed a foul, the referee also determined that the foul was accidental and occurred in the first round … of the bout,” he wrote.

Roveta, however, said he did not receive the TDLR’s denial and was shocked to hear the commission had done so prior to receiving his formal appeal, which, according to the documents obtained via records request, he filed June 7 – one week after the denial.

“I never received the response on May 31,” Roveta said. “I had multiple conversations via telephone and email letting them know we were drafting a formal appeal and requesting as much information as possible on their appeals process and expected timelines.”

The TDLR disputes that claim, however. Susan Stanford, the regulator’s public information officer, said the TDLR treated an email sent by Roveta on May 15 as a complaint that triggered the investigation and subsequent denial.

“This decision was made on that first email complaint,” she said. “He filed a complaint immediately after the fight, and that’s what we responded to.”

Stanford added the TDLR is currently preparing a response to Poirier’s June 7 appeal, in which Roveta and attorney Rob Cardenas lay out the case for the bout’s decision to be overturned.

In the appeal, Roveta and Cardenas actually anticipate the argument Francis makes in the initial denial, countering the rule about accidental injuries is “inapplicable” because it doesn’t address intent.

“Mr. Poirier was not ‘accidentally injured,’” the appeal states. “This was not akin to an inadvertent eye-poke; rather, Mr. Alvarez intended to land knees to the head of Mr. Poirier. He succeeded in doing so. The resulting injury was not an accident.”

Citing the rules in place that night, they argue Dean made a bad call, not relying on the previous version of the unified rules, which allows a fighter to be considered downed merely by touching the canvas, the position Poirier was in when he took two of the three illegal shots.

“Since Texas has not adopted and/or implemented the changes to the unified rules, all three knees were illegal,” stated the appeal, which can be read here. “After being struck by illegal knees to the head, Mr. Poirier was unable to continue. Under existing Texas rules, codes and law, all three knees were illegal, and therefore a disqualification of Mr. Alvarez was warranted.”

The appeal also argues Dean acted improperly by consulting UFC executive Marc Ratner prior to declaring the no-contest, stating, “Mr. Poirier submits that Herb Dean went beyond his authority in first conferring with the promoter and then instituting his own subjective interpretation of what Mr. Alvarez may have heard and/or seen.”

Poirier’s reps want the no-contest overturned to a disqualification win, noting the UFC lightweight missed out on a $65,000 win bonus, suffered a concussion, and was denied the chance to move up the rankings with the uncertain result.

“This Commission has an opportunity to right a wrong and render a decision, which comports and complies with the rules and code governing UFC 211,” stated Poirier’s appeal. “This Commission has an opportunity to enforce (its) rules in order to send a message of clarity and consistency to the fight industry. Without enforcement, the industry runs the risk of having fighters violate the rules with no fear of repercussion.

“If a fighter is allowed to end a fight via an illegal tactic and/or foul and simply receive a No Contest, the integrity of the sport, along with its promoters and its governing commissions, will be forever jeopardized. There are rules governing this sport and there are ramifications for violating those rules. There has to be an enforcement of those rules. This Commission has an important opportunity in this case to do just that.”

After hearing of the initial denial, Roveta said he simply wants the commission to review the appeal before making a final decision.

“How can they make a decision without reviewing the appeal?” he said.

Reached for comment on Wednesday, Poirier said he wants a rematch with Alvarez whether or not his appeal is successful.

For complete coverage of UFC 211, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie