MMAjunkie's 'Fight of the Month' for September: A bloody, all-Brazil slugfest

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Filed under: Cage Warriors, Featured, News, UFC

With another action-packed month of MMA in the books, MMAjunkie looks at the best fights from September. Here are the five nominees, listed in chronological order, and winner of MMAjunkie’s “Fight of the Month” award for September.

At the bottom of the post, let us know if we got it right by voting on your choice.

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The Nominees

Alexander Volkov def. Stefan Struve at UFC Fight Night 115

In a much-hyped heavyweight contest between two of the sport’s tallest competitors, Russia’s Alexander Volkov (29-6 MMA, 3-0 UFC) brushed aside a nasty cut and some eye pokes to rally for a third-round TKO over Stefan Struve (28-9 MMA, 12-7 UFC).

Bloodied and battered, Volkov just walked through the strikes of his opponent to land flush with a right and topple Struve. More punches on the floor landed clean as Struve’s tried to cover, and the fight was called to an end with 90 seconds left in the third.

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Nathaniel Wood def. Josh Reed at Cage Warriors 86

After looking all but finished in the first round of his headliner against challenger Josh Reed (7-1), Cage Warriors bantamweight champ Nathaniel Wood (12-3) managed to keep his composure and land the left hand that changed it all.

After a few tentative exchanges, Reed charged forward with a series of haymakers. While somewhat careless, the blows landed – and, with Wood wobbling around the cage, it seemed like a matter of seconds before the referee intervened and the belt switched hands. Wood, however, weathered the storm and saw the opening to land a hard left that set up a dazzling comeback win.

Uriah Hall def. Krzysztof Jotko at UFC Fight Night 116

Uriah Hall (13-8 MMA, 6-6 UFC) has been plagued with inconsistency in his UFC career, sometimes looking unbeatable, other times not so much. Against Krzysztof Jotko (19-3 MMA, 6-3 UFC), he was both.

After taking a massive beating in the first round of the middleweight bout, a devastating straight right landed for Hall and changed the game. He sent Jotko crashing to the canvas and that’s when “Primetime” jumped on top with additional punches to seal the incredible comeback knockout win and snap an ugly three-fight losing skid.

Gregor Gillespie def. Jason Gonzalez at UFC Fight Night 116

Rising lightweight Gregor Gillespie (10-0 MMA, 3-0 UFC) kept his career record perfect, but Jason Gonzalez (11-4 MMA, 1-2 UFC) certainly didn’t make it easy on him in barnburner of a bout.

After slugging it out on the feet for a good portion of the fight, Gillespie reverted to his wrestling pedigree as the clock ticked on. Gillespie eventually worked himself into an arm-triangle choke from mount and committed to the squeeze, pressing forward and tightening the hold until Gonzalez was forced to tap in the second round.

Jessica Andrade def. Claudia Gadelha at UFC Fight Night 117

The crucial matchup of UFC women’s strawweight contenders could only result in one winner, and Jessica Andrade (17-6 MMA, 7-5 UFC) was able to get the job done against Claudia Gadelha (15-3 MMA, 4-3 UFC) in one of the most highly-praised female bouts in company history.

In a clash of two fighters looking to get another crack at 115-pound champ Joanna Jedrzejczyk, Andrade took a lopsided unanimous decision victory over fellow Brazilian Gadelha in a blood-and-guts type of battle which will revered for quite some time going forward.

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The Winner: Jessica Andrade vs. Claudia Gadelha

Gadelha only had lost to strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk before her trip to Japan for UFC Fight Night 117. Then Andrade came into her life.

Andrade took a unanimous decision from Gadelha, her fellow Brazilian, with a mostly dominant performance that had both fighters bloody through most of the fight. Andrade won with scores of 30-25, 30-26 and 30-27.

Gadelha got her hands going a minute in. Andrade tried to work her head out of the way, but Gadelha got her strikes through. Andrade tried to lead the charge not long after that with punches, but Gadelha countered wht an elbow. Two minutes in, the two slugged it out, and Gadelha opened a cut on Andrade’s forehead.

With blood pouring from her opponent, Gadelha kept her striking going until Andrade pressed her against the fence. There, Andrade picked Gadelha up for a massive body slam that seemed to take Gadelha by surprise. Gadelha went after a guillotine choke, but couldn’t hold it, and that allowed Andrade to get on top to work ground-and-pound for the final 90 seconds of the round.

After some more slugging early in the second, and a clinch, Gadelha tried to take the fight to the ground – but it was Andrade who again got on top and landed big ground-and-pound with Gadelha against the fence. When Gadelha got back up, Andrade landed heavy knees.

The two went back to standing midway through, then slugged it out again. With both fighters bleeding, Andrade started to pour on the punishment with two minutes left. Gadelha backed up and looked wiped out while Andrade landed low kicks, then punches. Gadelha went after a takedown that was weak to say the least. And Andrade made her pay for it up against the fence, landing a barrage of punches.

With a minute left, they broke apart and traded again, and Gadelha landed a solid counter. But Andrade kept swinging for the finish. She couldn’t get it, and instead tried to pick Gadelha up for a slam. It didn’t come, but what came instead was the need to defend a deep guillotine choke from Andrade for the final 15 seconds of the round.

Andrade easily defended a takedown attempt 30 seconds into the final frame, then ate a knee to the midsection. And seconds later, Andrade easily picked Gadelha up for another massive slam. She quickly went into side control, then worked ground-and-pound. Gadelha recovered to partial guard, but it didn’t keep Andrade’s punishment at bay. Gadelha tried to answer when she got back to full guard, but there wasn’t much there.

With 90 seconds left, Andrade easily passed to side control, then Gadelha gave her back trying to get back to her feet. Gadelha got back to her feet late, but just before the horn Andrade landed another big slam in a near perfect performance.

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

MMAjunkie's 'Submission of the Month' for September: Another Von Flue for you

With another action-packed month of MMA in the books, MMAjunkie looks at the best submissions from September: Here are the five nominees, listed in chronological order, and winner of MMAjunkie’s “Submission of the Month” award for September.

At the bottom of the post, let us know if we got it right by voting for your choice.

* * * *

The Nominees

Michael Prazeres def. Mads Burnell at UFC Fight Night 115

Although the victory was marred by a failed trip to the scales, Michel Prazeres (23-2 MMA, 7-2 UFC) did pick up a nice submission win over octagon newcomer Mads Burnell (8-2 MMA, 0-1 UFC).

In the final round of the welterweight bout, Prazeres muscled the fight to the floor and spun to position for a north-south choke. He locked it in to become the first fighter in UFC history to earn multiple wins with the technique.

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Sarah Moras def. Ashlee-Evans Smith at UFC 215

After more than two years away from the octagon, unheralded underdog Sarah Moras (5-2 MMA, 2-1 UFC) shocked Ashlee Evans-Smith (5-3 MMA, 2-3 UFC) with a first-round submission in their women’s bantamweight bout.

Once Moras positioned herself for an armbar, she refused to let go of the limb. Evans-Smith tried desperately to work free, but Moras rolled and adjusted and stuck with the hold until she flipped her opponent to her back and cranked the arm to get the tap.

Ketlen Vieira def. Sara McMann at UFC 215

Undefeated Brazilian contender Ketlen Vieira (9-0 MMA, 3-0 UFC) earned the biggest win of her career, scoring a gutsy submission win over former women’s bantamweight title challenger Sara McMann (11-4 MMA, 5-4 UFC).

After surviving a storm in the opening round, Vieira managed to get a takedown and top position on Olympic medalist McMann in the second frame. Vieira worked into an arm-triangle choke on the left side, squeezing and somehow earning the tap despite being unable to clear McMann’s half-guard.

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Rafael dos Anjos def. Neil Magny at UFC 215

Former UFC lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos (27-9 MMA, 16-7 UFC) may soon find himself challenging for a welterweight belt following an impressive first-round finish of Neil Magny (19-6 MMA, 12-5 UFC).

Dos Anjos picked up his first submission win in more than five years when he established top position early in the first round and went to work. He sliced through Magny’s defense and locked in an arm-triangle choke. Magny initially relented, but eventually the squeeze from the Brazilian was too much, and he was forced to give up.

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Ovince Saint Preux def. Yushin Okami at UFC Fight Night 117

Ovince Saint Preux (21-10 MMA, 9-5 UFC) was successful in his fifth UFC main event when he defeated short-notice opponent Yushin Okami (34-11 MMA, 13-6 UFC) with his specialty submission in the opening round.

Saint Preux made the most of his advantages, using his size and strength to capitalize on an Okami mistake. He locked in a Von Flue choke to end the light heavyweight bout, finishing a fight in the octagon with the technique for the third time.

* * * *

The Winner: Ovince Saint Preux

Just call him “Ovince Saint Flue” at this point.

Saint Preux finished Okami with a Von Flue choke quickly in the first round of the UFC-Japan headliner. It was Saint Preux’s third Von Flue choke in the UFC and second straight – and there have been only five of those finishes in UFC history.

Okami shot for a takedown in the first few seconds, but Saint Preux stuffed it and got on top in half-guard. The fight was basically over as soon as Okami shot for that takedown.

Saint Preux wrapped Okami’s neck up and tried to step over to full mount. He couldn’t get there and settled back into half-guard to try to work ground-and-pound from up top. Saint Preux went to work for his Von Flue choke – and he got it. Okami never had an opportunity to tap. He was out cold.

Saint Preux said he’ll keep working to get back to a light heavyweight title shot, which he had in 2016 for the interim belt against Jon Jones.

“I pretty much knew the choke was there when he put his hand around my head and I basically trapped his glove,” Saint Preux said. “After that, it was just waiting for him to pass out.

“Pretty much, I have to keep on doing what I’m doing tonight and get ready for another fight (if I want another title shot).”

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

Ouch: Watch UFC main-event winner Alexander Volkov get a nasty cut stitched up

Dann StuppAlexander Volkov took some damage in his recent UFC headliner, but the pain continued after he left the cage.

This past Saturday at UFC Fight Night 115, Volkov (29-6 MMA, 3-0 UFC) stopped fellow big man Stefan Struve (28-9 MMA, 12-7 UFC) via third-round TKO in a grueling heavyweight attraction.

Volkov endured heavy blows, some eye-pokes and a nasty gash under his left eye during the fight, which streamed on UFC Fight Pass from Ahoy Rotterdam in the Netherlands. Afterward, Volkov, who was cut open with a Struve knee, got the wound stitched up.

It’s not fun to watch (it’s a pretty big cut, after all) – and it was clearly even less fun to experience, despite Volkov’s efforts to play it cool. Check it out (via Instagram):

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Volkov, who’s No. 13 in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA heavyweight rankings, is now 3-0 in the UFC. After the Struve victory, the 28-year-old Russian and former M-1 champion stumped for a UFC event in Russia.

For more on UFC Fight Night 115, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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

Per Häljestam's best photos from UFC Fight Night 115 in Rotterdam

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ROTTERDAM – Check out the best photos from Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 115 event in the Netherlands.

MMAjunkie and USA TODAY Sports photographer Per Häljestam was cageside at Ahoy Rotterdam for the UFC Fight Pass-streamed event.

Check out his favorite images from the fight card, which saw Alexander Volkov (29-6 MMA, 3-0 UFC) stop fellow big man Stefan Struve (28-9 MMA, 12-7 UFC) via third-round TKO in the heavyweight main event.

And complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 113, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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

UFC Fight Night 115 reactions: Winning and losing fighters on social media

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Since the early days when the sport was anything but a mainstream endeavor, the MMA industry has thrived and survived through various websites, forums and, perhaps most importantly, social-media platforms.

Fighters interact with fans, each other and many more through the likes of Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, which helps outsiders get a deeper look into the minds of the athletes.

Following Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 115 event in Rotterdam, Netherlands, several of the winning and losing fighters, along with their coaches, training partners or family members, took to social media to react to the event or share a message with supporters.

Check out some of those reactions.

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The defeated

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The victorious

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For complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 115, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

Aleksandar Rakic sees incoming 'new era' of UFC fighters: 'We are really hungry for it'

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ROTTERDAM – Aleksandar Rakic had never set foot in the octagon when he met Francimar Barroso on Saturday. But you probably couldn’t tell just by looking at the fight.

At only 25, Rakic (9-1 MMA, 1-0 UFC) looked calm and composed against the veteran Barroso (19-6 MMA, 4-3 UFC) at UFC Fight Night 115. And while he did need the full three rounds to get the job done – a first in a professional career that previously featured only finishes – it wasn’t like he struggled at any point, either.

If Rakic didn’t seem overwhelmed by the bright lights, that’s because he wasn’t. While fight week can be a stressful experience for some, Rakic says being around UFC fighters helped him know what to expect and simply enjoy it. And sharpening his skills at the world-class American Top Team headquarters didn’t hurt, either.

But when the cage door closed, it was his own patience that paid off.

“This guy was really, really tough,” Rakic said after the light heavyweight preliminary card affair, which streamed on UFC Fight Pass from Ahoy Rotterdam in the Netherlands. “He was, I think, my toughest opponent. Because he took many many hard shots. I would see him wobbling, but I didn’t want to rush.

“Because he has this dangerous overhand, and he can throw it at any time. I didn’t want to rush. I wanted to stay patient and pick him apart to smash him every time I can. I think I did a lot of damage, and it’s OK that I won all three rounds.”

Since a loss in his pro debut, the Austrian light heavyweight has been on a tear: Barroso was the ninth straight victim of a streak that goes back to 2012. While what he can do with the rest of the division remains to be seen, it’s undeniable that a 25-year-old up-and-comer is a welcome addition to a division that’s been thirsty for renewal.

While expectations are bound to be placed over him, Rakic seems quite invested in living up to them.

“I want to improve a lot,” Rakic said. “I want to be – every fight to be better and better. I want my striking, my grappling, my wrestling to be better. And I want to show it in every fight. I think in the next few years, I have to take over the light heavyweight division, because I’m a young fighter, and there are a lot of young fighters who are really hungry for this. And the new era is coming. And we are really hungry for it. I want it so bad. I want to be No. 1 of the world.”

As for the immediate future? Rakic says bring it on.

“Whomever the UFC gives me, I will take the fight and show that I am better than this performance,” Rakic said.

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

And for complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 115, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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Source: MMA Junkie

UFC Fight Night 115 winner Michel Prazeres says weather to blame for weight miss

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ROTTERDAM – Fighting overseas can be quite the inconvenience. After all, long flights, different food and climate changes can add stress to an already tense week.

But for some, it might mean meeting places and people they wouldn’t get to know otherwise. That was the case for Brazil’s Michel Prazeres (23-2 MMA, 7-2 UFC). The lightweight, of course, isn’t mad about adding a fifth straight win to his streak with the third-round submission of Mads Burnell (8-2 MMA, 0-1 UFC) on Saturday.

But when it came time to break down his solid UFC Fight Night 115 display, Prazeres chose to discuss his fight-week experience instead.

“I’m happy not only because of my performance, but also because I’m getting to know Rotterdam,” Prazeres said after the preliminary-card bout, which streamed live on UFC Fight Pass from Ahoy Rotterdam in the Netherlands. “I come from a very humble family in Belem, Brazil. I’m in the military police.

“To me, it’s a dream to be here in the Netherlands, get to know this first-world country. Brazil is very beautiful, but the culture here is beautiful as well, and the people are very polite. I was very happy to get to know them, this other vibe and these great people.”

The Rotterdam experience wasn’t all positive, though. Prazeres said he had a tough time dealing with the city’s weather. The result of that, the Brazilian explained, was the three-pound weight miss that we saw on the scales on Friday.

“We arrived to a very cold hotel, and I’m from a very warm region,” Prazeres explained. “So I struggled with that to make weight, the local weather.”

Prazeres apologized to both the UFC and Burnell for the miss, which he knows was “irresponsible.” And, should he be called to fight under similar circumstances again, he said he’ll make sure to arrive early and adjust properly.

While he did lose 20 percent of his purse due to that, Prazeres walked away with his second finish in a row – to cap off a five-fight winning streak. Now, with some solid standings in a highly competitive division, the lightweight hopes he’s earned some good will.

“I’d like (UFC matchmaker) Sean Shelby and the UFC people to put me against a top-15 opponent,” Prazeres said. “I don’t have a specific name. But if they put me against a top-15 I’ll say yes. And I’ll fight happily, as I usually do.”

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

And for complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 115, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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Trading Shots: Has MMA returned to normal, or are we suffering from a 'Money Fight' hangover?

Did UFC Fight Night 115 represent a return to normalcy after Conor McGregor’s boxing match with Floyd Mayweather, or was it a missed opportunity to strike while the iron was hot? MMAjunkie columnist Ben Fowlkes and retired UFC and WEC fighter Danny Downes discuss.

Fowlkes: Well Danny, looks like things have finally gotten back to normal around here. The Mayweather-McGregor circus is over, the UFC’s late summer lull has ended, and on Saturday afternoon we celebrated with UFC Fight Night 115.

Actually, well, “celebrated” might be a strong word. We sort of eased into this one, a UFC Fight Pass-only fight card with no huge names or stakes or even too many compelling reasons to watch, aside from the most basic one: This was MMA, and you’re an MMA fan.

Watching this event, I was reminded of something I’d forgotten amid all the MayMac hype, which is that the UFC is not only a fight company – it’s a media company. One of its main functions is to churn out hours and hours of content.

That feels like mostly what we got on Saturday. We got MMA content, which is a long way from the weird cultural event of last weekend. Was it a letdown, in that sense? Or was a part of you glad to get back to this low key sense of normalcy?

Downes: It wasn’t a letdown for me because I barely paid attention. It was my son’s first birthday party, so I was more concerned with making sure children didn’t drown in the kiddie pool while I was also silently fuming at the fact that my brother-in-law’s gift was a ball pit. There are plastic balls everywhere, Ben! Everywhere!

I suppose that’s the point, though. Mayweather vs. McGregor was a cultural event that presents a high bar to clear, but yesterday’s card wasn’t even relevant to the UFC. Alexander Volkov may be a top-10 heavyweight, but if I told you he was the current Bellator champ, you’d probably believe me.

In one sense, it makes sense to check a box in Rotterdam with this card. It’s a holiday weekend in the U.S. More importantly, the MayMac hangover would have rendered even a high-profile card obsolete.

The big worry, though, is if this feeling of obsolescence turns out to be a long-term symptom. Once you get a taste of that circus, can you go back to Fight Pass-only cards and still be satisfied? It would be like McGregor wearing shoes that cost less than $1,000. Once you live a certain lifestyle, it’s hard to go back.

You could have completely ignored yesterday’s event and not missed anything in the UFC’s big picture. As the number of UFC events swelled a few years ago, we all worried that it would hurt the larger brand. I wonder if there’s a cumulative effect. As time goes by, do the UFC Rotterdams of the world make you less interested in the UFC as a whole? Has McGregor inadvertently exacerbated this disinterest?

Fowlkes: Honestly, a part of me felt relieved to return to regular old unspectacular MMA. It was like settling into a lukewarm bath. It doesn’t overpower the senses or require an exhaustive build-up, and you can basically forget about it right up until fight time and then forget it again as soon as it’s over. It was exactly what it appeared to be, which was a nice change of pace after weeks of MayMac hype.

At the same time, in the wake of the big boxing match, I heard a lot of people asking if the spectacle of McGregor would translate to increased interest in the UFC. It seemed like a reasonable enough question, but then I found myself wondering what exactly these people would see if they suddenly decided to give the UFC a try.

They almost certainly didn’t see this event, since who’s going to get so hyped by that Mayweather-McGregor fight that they run right out and subscribe to UFC Fight Pass, especially after all the news about the UFC’s streaming issues? They probably also won’t further abuse their cable bills by purchasing UFC 215, which the UFC has done little to promote and which even UFC President Dana White has talked about in tones that suggest he wouldn’t watch it if he didn’t have to.

I guess that leaves UFC Fight Night 116 on FS1 later this month. It’s not a bad event, but it’s also not exactly the best the UFC has to offer. It’s enough to make you wonder, should the UFC have done more to strike while the iron was hot? Or is it enough to keep on churning out that content, doing what it’s always done and hoping that people who weren’t fans will suddenly decide to become fans, even absent a new or especially compelling pitch?

Downes: If the UFC’s goal is to grow the fan base, then it would make sense to try to strike while the iron is hot. Then again, perhaps that isn’t the goal.

Think of it like a bar or restaurant. Maybe the goal isn’t to get new customers, but to keep the same customers coming back for more. If you keep the same number of regulars while simultaneously watering down the drinks, well, that leads to pure profit, my friend.

Beyond what’s happened over the last few months, we’re dealing with a larger question here. Many people involved in MMA (media, promoters, fans etc.) have had this idea that mixed martial arts could be “mainstream.” Individual definitions of what that entails vary from person to person, but the overriding idea was that MMA could break out of its niche status. The same way the UFC moved from the “human cockfighting” era to the Zuffa era, there would be another level of development.

The truth is, that progress has stalled. The WME-IMG ownership has changed some things, but it looks essentially unchanged from late-stage Zuffa. Same production values, same fighters, and same schedule. The two companies are virtually identical!

Attributing this mixed martial ennui to a MayMac hangover makes sense on the surface, but we have to be careful not to exaggerate its importance. There are structural issues in the UFC and MMA in general which we push to the background because a new, shiny toy comes around. Now that there’s nothing new and shiny on the horizon in the near future, perhaps it’s time to take a long look at what we already have in the toy chest.

Ben Fowlkes is MMAjunkie and USA TODAY’s MMA columnist. Danny Downes, a retired UFC and WEC fighter, is an MMAjunkie contributor who has also written for UFC.com and UFC 360. Follow them on twitter at @benfowlkesMMA and @dannyboydownes.

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Source: MMA Junkie

Let's talk about Abdul-Kerim Edilov, a UFC fighter with troubling connections to a brutal regime

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There may come a time when Abdul-Kerim Edilov can fight in the UFC and we won’t need to discuss where he comes from or what he does there. His UFC debut is not that time.

That much was evident even on the UFC Fight Pass event stream, in which commentators John Gooden and Dan Hardy felt obliged to at least mention Edilov’s connection to Chechen dictator Ramzan Kadyrov, who, they noted, ensures that Edilov “gets everything he needs.”

That’s a bit of understatement, as this story by BloodyElbow.com’s Karim Zidan illustrates. Edilov isn’t just an acquaintance of the Chechen strongman; he’s the coach and bodyguard to his young sons. He’s also something of a walking propaganda tool for the brutal Chechen regime, which makes him a problematic pickup for the UFC.

Edilov first signed with the UFC in late 2015, only to be sidelined almost immediately due to a violation of the UFC’s anti-doping program. But in the time between when he officially joined the UFC and when he finally made his debut this past Saturday, awareness of Kadyrov’s MMA program has grown significantly.

At least some of that is due to a recent segment on HBO’s “Real Sports,” which documented how the Chechen leader uses MMA to strengthen his grip on power and to feed his armed forces. That might be slightly less troubling if Kadyrov’s regime didn’t stand accused of torturing and killing gays as part of an ongoing purge in the tiny Russian republic. Kadyrov himself openly encouraged violence against Chechen gays, and his “Real Sports” interview ended with an ominous threat of nuclear armageddon.

You wouldn’t think that this is the kind of person the UFC would want to be in business with. But by hiring a fighter from Kadyrov’s trusted inner circle, that’s exactly what it’s done.

Edilov is different from other Chechen UFC fighters. He’s not just an athlete who happens to be from a region where you have to play nice with the local dictator in order to get along. Edilov is a very active participant in this violent regime. He was even reported to have personally threatened HBO’s David Scott when he saw him recording video of Kadyrov’s sons while in Chechnya for the “Real Sports” story.

Keeping him in the UFC is, while not necessarily an endorsement of the Chechen regime, still very far from a condemnation of it.

From a public-relations standpoint, it’s also a big risk for a small gain. Is Edilov going to turn out to be the Chechen Conor McGregor? Is he going to become so vital a piece of the UFC’s light heavyweight division that it’s worth getting into bed with a violent anti-gay dictator in order to keep him around? Probably not.

The best argument you can make in favor of keeping Edilov on the roster is that fighters shouldn’t be blackballed from the sport’s most prominent organization just because of their national origin. That’s certainly a good enough reason to give most other Chechen fighters a pass. Then again, that argument gets tougher to make when you’re on the dictator’s payroll, serving as surrogate big brother to his children.

Like it or not, the company Edilov chooses to keep says something about him. The same is true for the UFC.

For more on UFC Fight Night 115, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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Source: MMA Junkie

After 5th straight UFC win, Rustam Khabilov wants Kevin Lee to know 'I'm chasing' you

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ROTTERDAM – After adding a fifth victory to his winning streak on Saturday, lightweight Rustam Khabilov didn’t have to look far to spot his next target.

Well, one of his targets, anyway.

After edging out Desmond Green (20-6 MMA, 1-1 UFC) to earn a unanimous-decision win, which streamed on UFC Fight Pass from Ahoy Rotterdam in the Netherlands, Khabilov (22-3 MMA, 8-2 UFC) was – predictably – asked who he’d like to fight next. He seemed to have that one pretty figured out already.

“That was Michael Johnson in the corner of Desmond Green, and I wish to fight with him,” Khabilov said through an interpreter.

But Johnson, who’s coming off a TKO loss to Justin Gaethje at a memorable TUF 25 Finale affair, isn’t the only one on Khabilov’s mind.

“There’s another fighter who’s talking a lot of smack, who’s talking a lot of trash,” Green said. “That’s Kevin Lee. He was talking a lot of (expletive) about me, about the whole wrestling game and stuff. And I challenged him. I was tweeting him, and he was responding back.

“And he said, ‘I’m going to fight with you anywhere, anytime.’ But when things get real, he just disappears somewhere/ I don’t know. Now he’s talking. He’s trying to fight for the interim (belt). But I want to let him know that I’m chasing him.”

That matchup seems unlikely now, being that Lee (16-2 MMA, 9-2 UFC) is currently scheduled to meet fellow contender Tony Ferguson in a UFC 216 showdown for the division’s interim title. Johnson (17-12 MMA, 9-8 UFC), in turn, remains unbooked – but seems to be headed for the featherweight division.

In any case, Khabilov has earned the right to put in some requests. After a rough 2014-2015 period that saw him snap a six-fight winning streak with back-to-back losses to ex-champ Benson Henderson and Adriano Martins, Khabilov bounced back with four wins in an undefeated 2016 campaign.

Khabilov wasn’t able to keep up the same pace this year due to injuries. But with his first 2017 scrap – and win – in the bag, he’s on the right track when it comes to his objectives.

“The goal was to get in the top 15,” Khabilov said. “Because I used to be in the top 15 before. And it’s like a renewing of my career, after the two losses. Last year, 2016, I did really well. I did the four fights.

“This is my 10th fight in the UFC, and that was the motivation: Get to the top, get my position back, and fight the best in the division.”

After the lightweight scrap, Green made sure to let people know that he wasn’t in agreement with with how the judges viewed it (via Twitter):

Instagram Photo

On his end, while certainly happier than his opponent, Khabilov wasn’t entirely satisfied with how things ended either.

“Honestly, I’m not very happy that I ended the fight with a decision,” Khabilov said. “Because I was looking for the finish. But, after my last fight in December, I had two surgeries – on my knee and on my shoulder. And I had a one-year layoff. I think that’s affected the fight.

“And the opponent, himself, he’s the kind of opponent who’s not fighting himself, (he’s) defensive, and he’s not attacking. All the time, just running away, running away. This kind of stylistic matchup is not very good.”

To hear from Khabilov, check out the video above.

And for complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 115, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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Source: MMA Junkie