Cris Cyborg: UFC 219 title fight vs. Holly Holm could go beyond just stand-up

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Filed under: Featured, News, UFC, Videos

On paper, the UFC 219 headliner between Cris Cyborg and Holly Holm offers a clear stylistic narrative.

Champ Cyborg (18-1 MMA, 3-0 UFC), who was most recently seen conquering the UFC’s women’s featherweight belt at UFC 214, has used her notorious, hyper-aggressive muay Thai to knock out her three UFC opponents and 13 of the 16 that came before.

Former 135-pound champ Holm’s (11-3 MMA, 4-3 UFC) knockout rate in MMA is slightly more modest – eight in total. But Holm, who’s also an ex-kickboxer, conquered multiple titles in boxing throughout a decade-long career in which she lost just twice.

What is apparently a striker vs. striker battle, though, might just be the chance for Cyborg to shine in lesser-known aspects of her game.

“She’s had a lot of experience in boxing. She had more than 300 rounds,” Cyborg told MMAjunkie ahead of the Dec. 30 headliner, which airs on pay-per-view from T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. “And she had a lot of sparring time. I think it’s going to be a great fight. I think she’s gonna have a lot of things to challenge myself. And it’s MMA.

“Maybe this fight, I can show (another) Cyborg, too. Not just in the stand-up, (but on) the ground, and then takedown and submit. Let’s see.”

A submission win would be the first for Cyborg. The only time one of her fights ended that way was, incidentally, her first and sole MMA loss. That was over 12 years ago. Holm, too, never has won a fight via submission – though it was a choke, by Miesha Tate, that ended Holm’s short 135-pound reign.

In any case, this could always just be a decoy. Cyborg, who’s recruited some high-level assistance in multiple-time boxing champion Cecilia Braekhus, has talked about her desire to try her hand at boxing. Outworking someone with Holm’s credentials on the feet would certainly be a nice way of setting that in motion.

Few would disagree this was the match to make. Amid Cyborg’s somewhat slim pickings in the UFC, a former champion who permanently left her mark as the first person to defeat Ronda Rousey – via knockout, no less – is certainly a good call.

There’s also the fact that, this time, Cyborg won’t be carrying a considerable size advantage as she goes up against a highly technical striker who narrowly lost to Germaine de Randamie in a bid for the UFC’s inaugural 145-pound belt (de Randamie was stripped of the title shortly after, due to her refusal to fight Cyborg).

Will that translate to numbers, though?

Cyborg, who’s fought tooth and nail to claim her place among the UFC’s hot commodities, is optimistic.

“I think I’ve already proven I can be a draw,” Cyborg said. “I think people have really (been following me) for a long time. And, after the opportunity I had to fight at 140 in Brazil. I think people who didn’t know Cyborg just met me there.

“Let’s see. December, I think, will be an amazing time, an amazing match. I think people are going to be very excited to buy the pay-per-view and watch me and Holly.”

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

And for more on UFC 219, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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

UFC 219 test run for AI-inspired glove sensors approved

Big data is coming to the octagon.

The Nevada State Athletic Commission today approved a test run for a new UFC-approved product that uses analytics and artificial intelligence to tell the story of a fight.

At UFC 219, select fighters will be equipped with glove sensors that measure everything from punch strength to stress. The data from those sensors will then be interpreted in real time using analytics and artificial intelligence.

The UFC’s hope is to give fight fans a better understanding of what’s really happening inside the octagon with a new set of stats that can be shown during broadcasts. But first the promotion needs to make sure the data is accurate – and useful.

Today during an NSAC hearing in Las Vegas, the UFC pitched the program as a way to potentially improve fighter safety, including concussion protocols and training methods. The commission was optimistic about its potential, though concerns were expressed about how the data is stored and used.

NSAC Chairman Anthony Marnell likened the program to the use of Sabermetrics in baseball but cautioned the data could sway judges if displayed on their cageside TV monitors during a fight. He said the UFC should work behind the scenes with the commission to determine the best rollout.

Before the initial findings are released, the commission also wants to sign off. Commissioner Raymond “Skip” Avansino noted that previous attempts to place sensors on fighters resulted in data being distributed without permission.

The collaboration that resulted in the new product came together in 2016, when Endeavor CEO and UFC co-owner Ari Emanuel brokered a deal between analytics company AGT International and consumer platform company HEED. A live demonstration took place this past month at the tech conference “AWS re:Invent 2017.”

After a mock sparring session between UFC fighters Edson Barboza and Mark Diakiese, HEED co-founder Mati Kochavi said the sensors used to collect data produce 70 new insights about what happens during a fight. The sensors on the gloves alone, he said, produce 12 different “stories.” There are sensors in the octagon canvas to measure movement and range, and even sensors monitoring a fighter’s cornermen and his family members.

Kochavi said all of the data is interpreted by a highly complex “AI agent,” which works from a detailed “world graph” of different data points. They include the attributes a fighter displays in the cage such as his style, emotion, and energy, as well as the surrounding environment made up of the fans, referee and media.

The AI agent can beam all that information to fans via smartphone, and fans can tailor the information they want to see based on their preference for particular stats.

“Those insights are covering entire aspects of the fight between Diakiese and Barboza,” Kochavi said. “They cover their passion, the power of the fight, the resiliency, the strategy. All of those things happen in the octagon.

“Shouldn’t we tell the story of sport that way? Shouldn’t sport be told in real time, with real data, with real information, and with real insights, and the real emotions? We are a company which is trying to revolutionize the way we’re going to (broadcast) sports and live events.”

Fans won’t immediately see the changes when they watch UFC 219, which takes place Dec. 30 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. But every time they see a punch, a new line of data will get collected.

What becomes of that data is the next big question.

For more on UFC 219, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

Referee and judges set for UFC 219's Cris Cyborg vs. Holly Holm title headliner

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Filed under: News, UFC

Veteran MMA referee Herb Dean will oversee Cris Cyborg’s first title defense as UFC women’s featherweight champion.

The Nevada State Athletic Commission today voted unanimously to appoint Dean as the third person in the cage for Cyborg’s (18-1 MMA, 3-0 UFC) fight with former bantamweight champ Holly Holm (11-3 MMA, 4-3 UFC), which serves as the headliner for UFC 219.

UFC 219 takes place Dec. 30 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The main card airs on pay-per-view following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass.

Dean, who’s refereed countless PPV headliners, will receive $1,900 for his work. The three judges assigned to the title fight are veteran officials Derek Cleary, Dave Hagen and Chris Lee, who each receive $1,600.

Cyborg makes her fourth overall appearance in the octagon and first as the UFC’s 145-pound champ. She and Holm circled each other for several months before signing a contract to fight, with Holm’s management at one point declaring negotiations “dead.” Cyborg, meanwhile, conditioned her participation on a new UFC contract that reflected her value to the promotion.

Cyborg is so far unmatched in the cage while decimating the ranks at 145 pounds and a pair of 140-pound catchweight fights in the UFC.

Holm, meanwhile, attempts to pull off the second major upset of her career after knocking out Ronda Rousey in 2015 to win the bantamweight title.

In June Holm halted a title-losing skid with a knockout of onetime title challenger Bethe Correia. One month later, Cyborg stopped Invicta FC bantamweight champ Tonya Evinger to win the featherweight title, which was left vacant after inaugural champ Germaine de Randamie turned down a bout with Cyborg.

For more on UFC 219, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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Source: MMA Junkie

Here's the official poster for UFC 219, featuring Cris Cyborg and Holly Holm

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Filed under: Blue Corner, Featured Videos, News, UFC

The UFC’s final pay-per-view of the year, UFC 219, is less than a month away. Now it has an official poster.

The event, which takes place Dec. 30 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, features a pay-per-view main card following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass.

One of the biggest fights in women’s MMA history takes center stage in the main event when UFC featherweight champion Cris Cyborg (19-1 MMA, 3-0 UFC) attempts to continue her more than decade-long run of dominance. She takes on former UFC bantamweight champion Holly Holm (11-3 MMA, 4-3 UFC), who is looking to pull off another historic upset win.

The current co-headliner pits unbeaten lightweight contender Khabib Nurmagomedov (24-0 MMA, 8-0 UFC) against highlight-reel knockout specialist Edson Barboza (19-4 MMA, 13-4 UFC).

Check out the official event poster below (via Twitter):

The latest UFC 219 lineup includes:

  • Champ Cris Cyborg vs. Holly Holm – for women’s featherweight title
  • Edson Barboza vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov
  • John Lineker vs. Jimmie Rivera
  • Cynthia Calvillo vs. Carla Esparza
  • Carlos Condit vs. Neil Magny
  • Marc Diakiese vs. Dan Hooker
  • Emil Meek vs. Kamaru Usman
  • Matheus Nicolau vs. Louis Smolka
  • Rick Glenn vs. Myles Jury
  • Omari Akhmedov vs. Marvin Vettori
  • Michal Oleksiejczuk vs. Khalil Rountree
  • Abdul Razak Alhassan vs. Sabah Homasi

For more on UFC 219, visit the UFC Rumors section of the site.

The Blue Corner is MMAjunkie‘s official blog and is edited by Mike Bohn.

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Source: MMA Junkie

Holly Holm done with boxing career despite potential for new Zuffa venture

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Filed under: Featured, News, UFC

DETROIT – Early in Holly Holm’s MMA career, she alternated between trips to the cage and boxing ring. Eventually, she tired of the commute.

There is now opportunity to return to her original discipline if the UFC makes good on a plan to promote boxing fights in addition to those in the octagon. But for Holm, a former boxing and UFC champ, she’s already made her choice.

“I am done boxing,” she told reporters ahead of UFC 218 in Detroit, where she appeared as a guest fighter. “I don’t have the passion for it any more, and it hasn’t come back to me. Maybe that’s because I’m still fighting, so I don’t feel like I ever really retired.”

Holm (11-3 MMA, 4-3 UFC) is set to face Cris Cyborg (18-1 MMA, 3-0 UFC) for the UFC women’s featherweight title at UFC 219, which takes place Dec. 30 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. It’s her third shot at gold in the MMA promotion, and undoubtedly the most dangerous.

Holm recently emerged from a three-fight skid that saw her lose the bantamweight title and fall short in a bout for the inaugural featherweight belt. Yet she’s never contemplated the idea of a return to the square circle.

She remembers leaving the locker room after an appearance at Bellator 91 with little motivation for the square circle six weeks later. She walked into her coach’s office after her first day of sparring for the bout and announced her next match would be her last.

“I didn’t know how I would feel when that fight was over, with a win if I’d be excited and want to do it again,” Holm said. “With a loss, I’d probably want to do it again, because I wouldn’t want to end like that. When the fight was over, it was beautiful. It was in my hometown and they brought a beautiful bouquet, and I’m standing there thinking, ‘I can’t wait to take my boxing shoes off.’

“And, that’s it. I keep thinking, am I going to ache for it again? And I don’t. And it’s not because I don’t love boxing. I did, obviously. I did it for 10 years professionally. It’s just my new motivation is this new career I’ve been on.”

With her accolades in both sports, Holm argues she’s the most qualified oppponent to stand across from Cyborg, who’s decimated her opposition in the cage.

“I do feel I’m her toughest opponent to date,” she said. “In an all-around way. There might have been one fighter that had a bit of a ground game. She had one fighter with a clinch game. But really, as far as the caliber of fighter and experience, I do feel like I’m somebody she hasn’t faced before, and that’s why this fight is going to be different.”

For more on UFC 219, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

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

Two-time Olympic champion Claressa Shields rates UFC champ Cris Cyborg's boxing a solid 7

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DETROIT – Two-time Olympic boxing champion Claressa Shields only got to spar with UFC champ Cris Cyborg once. But she was impressed by what she saw.

Cyborg and Shields first became acquainted via social media. The two knew of each other thanks to their accomplishments in their respective combat sports, but the relationship tightened during Shields’ campaign in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

It took a while for their schedules to line up, but the two finally got to hang out in person in Los Angeles. While they only trained together once, Shields said it was a productive session.

“She learned a lot that day,” Shields said. “She’s very athletic. I mean, 1 through 10, her boxing skills are at a 7. She’s very athletic. She’s strong. And if she puts 100 percent into boxing, to actually learn it, she’s going to have an easy transition over to boxing.” (via Twitter)

Although Cyborg also gave Shields some tips that would come in handy should she consider a transition to MMA, the boxer is not really planning on putting them to use for the time being.

“I’m going to try to stick to boxing as long as I can,” Shields said. “As long as I can make a million dollars.”

Even if they didn’t share that much time on the ring, the two hit it off. After Cyborg stayed by Shields’ side in her fight with Nikki Adler back in August, Shields returned the kindness by visiting Cyborg this weekend in Detroit, where the UFC’s women’s 145-pound champ promoted her upcoming UFC 219 encounter with Holly Holm.

Outside the ring, too, Shields is all praise for Cyborg. Like many who get a chance to personally interact with the UFC champ, Shields notices the contrast between Cyborg’s warm real-life persona and the more aggressive version that we sometimes see on social media.

But, for Shields, that too is part of the game.

“I think when you’re boxing, you have an alter ego,” Shields said. “And I think her alter ego speaks. On social media, she’s Cris Cyborg, the beast. But then off social media, she’s Cris cool, laid-back, funny. Nothing really gets to her outside the ring.”

At UFC 219, Cyborg (18-1 MMA, 3-0 UFC) gets to go against an ex-boxer in former UFC bantamweight champion Holm (11-3 MMA, 4-3 UFC). But, while Shields knows Holm is a tough challenge, she believes Cyborg has the proper tools to come out on top.

“One, she’s got to catch (Holm),” Shields said. “Holly Holm is a great mover. She has a really good jab. Some head movement and then, whenever she can, slam her a couple of times, take some of the wind out of her. And then, after that, throw hands. And I think that Cris Cyborg is really good at throwing hands.

“She’s strong, she’s fast, and she’s very physical. So I think that she needs to keep it physical with Holly, not let Holly keep it pretty. And she’ll have a victorious night on Dec. 30.”

To hear from Shields, check out the video above.

And for more on UFC 219, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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

Kamaru Usman denies ducking Emil Meek, says Colby Covington refused to fight him

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DETROIT – As far as he knows, Kamaru Usman no longer has a fight booked. But, while that situation gets resolved, he’s going a few rounds outside the octagon with a couple of his welterweight peers.

Usman (11-1 MMA, 6-0 UFC) was supposed to fight Emil Meek (9-2 MMA, 1-0 UFC) at Dec. 30’s UFC 219. Meek’s visa issues, however, soon cast some doubt as to whether the matchup would ever materialize. Eventually, Meek got his visa. But by then, Usman’s manager said, they had moved on to “mug bigger, scared fish.”

Meek kept on gunning for the fight, only to be violently rebuffed by Usman on Twitter. Speaking to reporters backstage at UFC 218, Usman elaborated on the situation.

“We knew months ago he wasn’t going to be able to get his visa, he wasn’t getting his visa,” Usman said. “So we were told, ‘Hey, we’re going to work on the visa, are you still willing to hang on?’ I said, ‘Yeah, I’ll hang on.’ In the process, they were trying to find someone who’d step in right away. And then it came to a point where, officially, it was like, ‘Yeah, it’s not looking likely.’

“Because what am I supposed to do? Sit and wait three weeks out, four weeks out, training hard for a fight that might not happen? So they said, ‘officially, we’re going to pull him. And we’re going to offer it to some guy, to see if they’ll fight.’”

The offer, Usman says, was made to controversial welterweight contender Colby Covington – who remains unbooked after a big win over ex-title-challenger Demian Maia at UFC Fight Night 119.

“That’s the fight they really want to make,” Usman said. “It’s the fight that makes sense. And he declined, once again.”

Usman sees why Covington, who’s been avidly campaigning for a shot at champ Tyron Woodley’s belt, wouldn’t want to fight him. The problem, the No. 8 fighter in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA welterweight rankings says, is that No. 5 Covington was the one accusing Usman of doing the running not that long ago.

“It’s rough because he’s one of those guys who’s specifically been saying I’ve been ducking him, when that fight was never offered,” Usman said. “Now that the fight is being offered and he’s saying, ‘oh, no.’ Blatantly, three different occasions, he said ‘No, no, no.’

“I can’t understand why he wouldn’t take the fight. Well, in a sense I can – he thinks he’s next in line for a title shot. Which, it’s clear they’re not giving you a title shot. So hey, take the fight, at least prove to the people you’re the best, (and) you are next in line for a title shot.”

In light of Covington’s alleged refusal, Usman says he was told they would try to get him booked for January. And, in the interim, he came down with a bad flu that kept him in bed for a whole week and had yet to clear by the time he talked to reporters in Detroit.

Usman says he found out about Meek’s visa clearance as soon as he got off the plane, from social media.

“I’m like, goddman – it’s kind of too late now,” Usman said. “But it just kind of sucks that’s how things happen sometimes.

Usman wouldn’t commit to it, given he hadn’t had any official discussions yet. But, “as long as I know,” the fight with Meek at UFC 219 is off. The UFC’s website, though, still shows the bout on their event page.

Either way, Usman is not exactly happy with the way his would-be opponent framed the situation.

“Let’s be honest: look at the fight,” Usman said. “What about Emil Meek scares me that’s like, ‘Wow, don’t fight this guy’? No. Does he have big power, really? No. Can he outwrestle me? No. Can he outgrapple me? No. This was a, ‘stay busy, here’s a fight because no one else will fight you, here.’

“He’s kind of trying to make it seem like, ‘Oh, you’re trying to duck me?’ What do I have to duck? I’m asking for harder guys. How is that me ducking you? It makes no sense.”

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

And for more on UFC 219, visit the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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Source: MMA Junkie

Video: Champ Cris Cyborg, Holly Holm's first face-off at UFC 219 media day

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Filed under: News, UFC, Videos

DETROIT – Cris Cyborg and Holly Holm faced off for the first time today ahead of their featherweight championship bout at UFC 219.

Cyborg (18-1 MMA, 3-0 UFC) attempts to make her first 145-pound title defense against Holm (11-3 MMA, 4-3 UFC) at the Dec. 30 event at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The main card airs on pay-per-view following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass.

With UFC 218 going down this week in Detroit, Cyborg and Holm were brought in to town to speak with the media and face off. Watch the video above to see their intense stare down.

For more on UFC 219, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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Source: MMA Junkie

UFC champ Tyron Woodley: Nate Diaz's $15 million price tag just a way of ducking

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UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley believes he had a fight with Nate Diaz at UFC 219, whether or not a UFC employee went “off the reservation” in offering it.

Despite Woodley’s best efforts to entice Diaz into a bout, it’s not happening. And Woodley (18-3-1 MMA, 8-2-1 UFC) believes the $15 million purse Diaz (19-11 MMA, 14-9 UFC) reportedly wants is the reason, and that price tag is just another version of ducking.

“It seems like him saying no without saying no,” Woodley on Tuesday told MMAjunkie Radio about the potential fight, which likely would have co-headlined or headlined the Dec. 30 pay-per-view card at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. “It seems like he was saying, ‘I’m scared, homie,’ without saying, ‘I’m scared, homie.’”

White on Tuesday told reporters that one of the UFC’s attorneys started playing matchmaker and offered Woodley the fight with Diaz, but it was never an official offer. In response to White’s claim, Woodley told MMAjunkie on Wednesday, “It was definitely a fight offer. I would have never postponed my surgery and postponed my recovery had it not been an opportunity on the line.”

But the fault for the failed deal ultimately lies in the hands of Diaz, the champ told MMAjunkie Radio.

“He’s never made $15 million to fight,” Woodley said. “I don’t know if he has amnesia, but before he was fighting Conor McGregor, he beat Michael Johnson for $16,000 (to show) and $16,000 (to win). After two fights with Conor, you think he’s going to make $15 million to fight me? I’m not even Conor. He’s not going to make that to fight Conor.

“That’s like me saying, ‘Yeah, I’ll fight Stipe Miocic right now. Sign me up. I’ll fight him.’ How much you need? ’30 million.’ I know I’m not going to get $30 million.”

By pricing himself out of the market, Woodley said Diaz can maintain his mystique with fans who think he’s down to fight anyone. When it comes time to defend that, however, that’s where unreasonable demands can provide a cover.

Woodley said he’s moving on from the drama and now plans to undergo surgery to fix a shoulder injury he suffered during a title rematch with Stephen Thompson at UFC 209. Then he hopes to be back in action in March or April.

But that wasn’t what Woodley wanted all along.

“I’d like to get three fights in this year,” Woodley said. “That’s why it was so important to finish out this year with Dec. 30, and I feel like Nate Diaz took that from me.”

For more on UFC 219, 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.

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Source: MMA Junkie

Gokhan Saki explains reason for UFC 219 withdrawal

Dann StuppBased on a hospital-bed picture, Gokhan Saki remains in good spirits despite his recent removal from next month’s UFC 219 card.

As reported earlier today, Saki (1-1 MMA, 1-0 UFC) was recently removed from his bout with light heavyweight Khalil Rountree (6-2 MMA, 2-2 UFC), who now fights replacement and promotional newcomer Michal Oleksiejczuk (12-2 MMA, 0-0 UFC).

“UFC 219: Cyborg vs. Holm” takes place Dec. 30 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, and the main card airs on pay-per-view following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass, though the full fight card and bout order haven’t been finalized.

According to Saki, an injury during a training session eventually forced him to the hospital, though he didn’t include details about the injury (via Instagram):

Instagram Photo

“As has been announced everywhere, i’m not fighting on the UFC 219 card. I wanted to announce this myself but i needed some time to recover mentally from this bad news. I got injured during a training and went to the hospital for this. My team and management took the decision with the medical team that i needed treatment and i have to think of my health first. I didn’t want to accept this but i’m glad i have the right people around me. It felt like i let my fans and supporters down, i was really looking forward to this fight. So the bad news was a bitter pil to swallow. But this is top sports and injuries are unfortunately a part of it. I’m recovering now and will be back in training soon. I want to thank my opponent Khalil for preparing for me and i wish him best of luck on December 30th. I want to thank all my fans/supporters for their great messages and i promise you 2018 i will give you KNOCK-OUTS! One knee, no knee, i will be there violently!!!!”

Saki, a 33-year-old Dutch-Turkish kickboxer, returned to MMA for the first time in 13 years in September at UFC Fight Night 117, where he scored a blistering first-round knockout of Henrique da Silva. The victory earned him a “Performance of the Night” bonus and resulted in a memorable post-fight interview.

For more on UFC 219, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

The Blue Corner is MMAjunkie‘s official blog and is edited by Mike Bohn.

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Source: MMA Junkie