Yokota Air Base personnel in Japan motivated by recent visit from UFC fighters

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When the UFC hits the road, more often than not part of the fight week schedule includes some community outreach.

That was true 10 days ago when the promotion headed to Japan for UFC Fight Night 117. Ahead of the event, several fighters and personalities, including Hall of Famer Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and two-time flyweight title challenger Joseph Benavidez, paid a visit to U.S. military members at Yokota Air Base west of Tokyo.

Col. Kenneth Moss, the 374th Airlift Wing Commander at Yokota Air Base, said visits like that help inspire his forces.

“We’re out here 12 hours away or so from everything that we love in America, and all the people that we love,” Moss told MMAjunkie. “It’s great when America comes to visit us. You cannot imagine the morale boost it is when people see in real life, in the flesh, the people they’ve been rooting for on TV and their heroes. So getting the opportunity to spend time with them and seeing that the people back home still care and remember about everybody who’s forward – it’s fantastic. We’ll ride a little mission improvement here for a few more days, minimum.”

Check out the video above for an inside look at the UFC’s visit to Yokota Air Base.

And for more on the UFC’s upcoming schedule, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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

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

The MMA Road Show with John Morgan No. 131 – Las Vegas: UFC, Bellator recap, featuring Carano, Werdum, Ferguson

Episode No. 131 of “The MMA Road Show with John Morgan” podcast is now available for streaming and download.

MMAjunkie lead staff reporter John Morgan hosts the show while traveling the world to cover the sport.

John Morgan and Cold Coffee are back together in Las Vegas and recapping their weeks at UFC Fight Night 117, Bellator 183 and Bellator Kickboxing 7. As they recap their weekends on opposite sides of the Pacific Ocean, Morgan also shares his interview with Gina Carano, not to mention the wild scene that unfolded in Los Angeles with Fabricio Werdum and Tony Ferguson, as well as the latest headlines in MMA.

Listen below, or check it out on iTunes or at themmaroadshow.com. You can also subscribe via RSS.

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

UFC-Japan winner Jussier Formiga wants title shot, and his reason is at least (somewhat) logical

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SAITAMA, Japan – Jussier Formiga looked nothing short of brilliant at UFC Fight Night 117.

Two minutes into his FXX-televised fight with Ulka Sasaki, Formiga (20-5 MMA, 6-4 UFC) caught a kick and used it to land a solid punch. He then scooped up the taller Sasaki (20-5-2 MMA, 3-4 UFC) and took him to the canvas, where he exhibited excellent groundwork until sinking in a rear-naked choke to earn the submission win with 30 seconds remaining in the first round.

It was an overall impressive performance for Formiga, who afterward called for a flyweight title shot in front of the crowd at Saitama Super Arena. Backstage, he further made his case to MMAjunkie.

“Some of the guys that I beat got a chance (at the title),” Formiga said through an interpreter. “So I think it’s my time. But if the UFC decides not, I’m an employee of the company, and I’ll keep on fighting.”

Formiga, who’s 2-2 in his last four fights, holds wins over previous title contenders Wilson Reis and Chris Cariaso. Prior to defeating Sasaki, Formiga lost to Ray Borg, who’s next in line to face champ Demetrious Johnson at UFC 216.

Given the state of the division thanks to Johnson’s dominance and those two wins over Reis and Cariaso, to go along with Friday’s impressive win, why not Formiga next? Does he have a case?

To hear more from Formiga, watch the video above.

And for complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 117, visit the UFC Events section of the site.

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UFC Fight Night 117 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 Friday’s UFC Fight Night 117 event in Saitama, Japan, 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 117, check out the UFC Events 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

UFC Fight Night 117's Syuri Kondo wants to add UFC champ to long list of accomplishments

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Syuri Kondo has just about done it all in combat sports and entertainment. But there’s one mountain she hasn’t yet climbed, and that’s in the UFC women’s strawweight division.

“I became a champ in kickboxing and pro wrestling, and when I thought about the next goal, I saw the imagery of the UFC and fighting, and I thought, ‘This is it. This is the top of the world, and that’s where I’m going to go,’” Kondo told MMAjunkie.

On Friday, Kondo (6-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC) made a successful debut with the promotion, outpointing the tough Chan-Mi Jeon (5-2 MMA, 0-2 UFC) on the FXX-televised prelims of UFC Fight Night 117 at Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan.

Even with her extensive experience in kickboxing, karate and pro wrestling, Kondo felt like a newcomer fighting in the octagon.

“Making a debut in the UFC is totally different than other debuts, and my goal is to become a UFC champion one day,” she said. “I think I had a great start.”

It wasn’t an easy first night of work, but Kondo showed off impressive durability and pressure against Jeon, who grunted and screamed through three rounds in the pocket with her older foe. A stinging straight helped Kondo score on Jeon, ut as the fight went into deep waters, her early pressure paid dividends and Jeon faded.

One judge surprisingly called it 29-28 for Jeon. But the remaining two gave Kondo the shutout on scorecards, announcing her entry into the world’s toughest proving ground for MMA fighters.

Kondo, 28, has a long way to go before she’s challenging the likes of Joanna Jedrzejczyk in the octagon. But she’s liking her new home so far and is ready for whatever lies head.

“I was focused so much on this match, so I have no idea who I want to fight next,” Kondo said. “But whoever it’s going to be, I’m going to train hard and make sure I win.”

For complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 117, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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Source: MMA Junkie

Shinsho Anzai breaks down into tears discussing what UFC-Japan win means to him

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SAITAMA, Japan – Shinsho Anzai spent two years away from the octagon and finally returned at UFC Fight Night 117.

Anzai (10-2 MMA, 2-1 UFC) topped Luke Jumeau (12-4 MMA, 1-1 UFC) with a pair of 29-28 scores and a 30-27 thanks to solid work in the clinch and takedowns in front of his home-city fans.

For Anzai, it was a hard-fought victory that was a long time coming. And afterward, during an interview with MMAjunkie, he was overcome with emotion as he thought about the road back and what his wife said to him the night before his FXX-televised win at Saitama Super Arena in Japan.

“Last night – I’m newly married – and my wife told me …” Anzai said through an interpreter with tears in his eyes. “I was feeling really nervous looking in the mirror and she told me, ‘It’s going to be OK tomorrow. You’re going to have a great day tomorrow.’”

She was right.

To hear more from Anzai, watch the video above.

And for complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 117, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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Keita Nakamura 'felt a little conservative' at UFC-Japan, wasn't sure he'd get the win

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SAITAMA, Japan –  Keita Nakamura engaged in a slugfest with Alex Morono and after three rounds came away with a split-decision win at UFC Fight Night 117.

The welterweight bout closed out the preliminary card of the event, which took place at Saitama Super Arena in Japan and aired on FXX.

It was a bloody, back-and-forth affair between Nakamura (33-8-2 MMA, 3-5 UFC) and Morono (13-5 MMA, 2-2 UFC). But even so, Nakamura felt he could’ve done more.

“I was not going forward enough,” he told MMAjunkie through an interpreter, “and I felt a little conservative.”

Still, he got the win in front of his home fans, despite a lack of confidence that it would go his way,

Watch the video above to hear more from Nakamura.

And for complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 117, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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Charles Rosa hopes to get rebooked soon after UFC Fight Night 117 scratch

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Featherweight Charles Rosa said the promotion compensated him in spite of his canceled fight against Mizuto Hirota at UFC Fight Night 117.

“Luckily, they made it right and took care of me,” Rosa told MMAjunkie after his scratch in Saitama, Japan, which hosted the FXX-televised event Friday at the hallowed Saitama Super Arena. “I’m really happy with the UFC and the way they handled it.”

Although Rosa did not specify how he was compensated, the promotion often pays out “show money” – usually the contracted purse, albeit without any potential “win money” – to fighters whose opponents are scratched at the last minute due to medical issues.

“Obviously, it was out of their hands,” Rosa said. “It wasn’t their fault – it was my opponent’s fault.”

Hirota (18-8-2 MMA, 1-3-1 UFC) came in four pounds over the allowed limit and teetered on the scale at the event’s official weigh-ins. Although Rosa (11-3 MMA, 2-3 UFC) agreed to fight his heavier opponent, concerns over Hirota’s health prompted officials to cancel the bout the day of the event.

Rosa was getting in one last workout when he got the news. He now hopes to get rebooked as soon as possible.

“I told (UFC matchmaker Sean Shelby) whatever he can do to try to get me on soon, and he said he’d try to get me on a card soon,” Rosa said. “You’ll definitely see me back in the UFC soon.”

When he gets back, Rosa aims to be back in the win column after a loss in his previous outing at UFC 210. An extra $50,000 bonus check helped soothe the pain of a third-round TKO at the hands of Shane Burgos, but it left him at 2-3 in the octagon.

Rosa, an American Top Team product, has bounced between losses and wins since his UFC debut in October 2014. Momentum is his first order of business.

For complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 117, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

 

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

UFC-Japan winner Teruto Ishihara definitely felt that final kick to his groin

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SAITAMA, Japan – Teruto Ishihara picked up a much-needed win over Rolando Dy on Friday night, but he had to go through a lot of pain to get it.

Ishihara (10-4-2 MMA, 3-2-1 UFC) took a unanimous decision from Dy (8-6-1 MMA, 0-2 UFC) at UFC Fight Night 117 in Japan. The win came in part because Dy lost a point in the third round for a third low blow. Absent that point deduction, the fight would’ve been a majority draw.

But after the win, Ishihara said he won’t hold ill will – even though the third kick to the groin hurt him badly.

“The first was OK, but the (third) one really affected me,” Ishihara said through his translator. “I’m a fighter, so I don’t think it was intentional at all.”

UFC Fight Night 117 took place Friday at Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan, near Tokyo. The card aired on FXX.

After his win, which snapped a two-fight skid, Ishihara weighed in on the fight backstage with MMAjunkie. Check out the video above.

And for complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 117, visit the UFC Events section of the site.

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Trading Shots: Was Mizuto Hirota's struggle at weigh-ins a public version of a typically private issue?

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A weight cut gone bad led to a fight getting pulled last minute from UFC Fight Night 117 in Japan, but was the struggle more of an exception or the rule for pro fighters in MMA? MMAjunkie columnist Ben Fowlkes and retired UFC and WEC fighter Danny Downes discuss.

Fowlkes: UFC Fight Night 117 went off with one fewer fight than planned this weekend, Danny, and it was all thanks to Mizuto Hirota’s failed weigh-in attempt. Not only did he come in four pounds over the featherweight limit for his fight with Charles Rosa, he could barely stand up long enough to get weighed on the scale.

That’s not an exaggeration, either. After shuffling onstage like a hospice patient forced to move death beds, Hirota almost collapsed while stepping down from the scale and had to be saved by UFC VP of athlete health and performance Jeff Novitzky, which naturally put the UFC in a precarious position.

There’s no athletic commission for events in Japan, so it was entirely up to the UFC whether to let Hirota fight or not. But after the guy who’s supposed to be safeguarding athlete health has to step in and catch a clearly ailing fighter, it’s not a great look to give him the thumbs up for a cage fight.

So the UFC pulled him from the fight, which was the right move. But am I the only one wondering if Hirota’s big mistake was letting us all see how bad he was struggling at the weigh-in? We’ve all heard stories of fighters who endured terrible weight cuts and still fought. Mike Pyle famously based out in the MGM Grand just trying to make it to the scales for his UFC debut, and that show still went on.

If this had happened away from the cameras, do you think Hirota would have been allowed to fight? And does something like that highlight the problem with extreme weight-cutting right before a strenuous and dangerous activity, or just the problem with weight cuts gone bad?

Downes: I can’t say for certain that Hirota would have fought if the whole episode had not been caught on video, but I’m pretty sure he would have. Imagine, though, if he decided not to fight without us actually witnessing him nearly collapse. He would have been raked over the coals like every other fighter. There is still room for criticism (which we will get to), but it takes some of the sting away when you see an individual nearly pass out.

Outside a few episodes of “The Ultimate Fighter,” most fans and members of the media have no idea what goes into a weight cut. Yeah, they know that involves saunas, sweating and maybe a sodium load, but they don’t see the process. I don’t know if a glimpse behind the curtain would change people’s minds, but they would realize the majority of fighters are severely depleting themselves on weigh-in day. Most are just able to hide it better.

When I fought Chris Horodecki on short notice, I had to cut about 25 pounds in five days. In order to reach the right number, the majority of my time was spent in the sauna cutting water weight.

My memory is a little hazy, but at some point I passed out naked in the warm-up room and remember being woken up by Anthony Pettis, who told me that I had to get back into the sauna (and that my naked corpse made a very awkward sight when Jamie Varner tried walking in with his girlfriend).

The point is, if I had stepped on the scale at that time, I would have looked just as bad as Hirota. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on your perspective), I had a bus ride over to the arena to get my wits about me.

My story is nothing unique. In fact, I’ve seen a lot of fighters who looked way worse. They were just able to keep it together for a few minutes in front of the crowd.

I appreciate the concern for fighter well-being, but what’s the answer? The benefits of drastic weight cuts may be overstated, but as long as fighters see a perceived value in dropping down, it’s not going to stop. I believe that Hirota is not an extreme case. What say you?

Fowlkes: You’re probably right that there have been plenty of fighters worse off than Hirota who still managed to fight, but just because it’s not uncommon doesn’t make it a good idea. If we’re really concerned about fighter safety, at some point we have to address the fact that it’s not super healthy to drain that much water from your body just before you get hit in the head a bunch.

A big part of the problem is the culture surrounding this stuff. Fighters drop down in weight not so much to get an advantage, but to avoid giving one, since everyone else is dropping so much weight. Fighters assume that extreme weight cuts are just part of the job. Promoters and commissions generally either don’t try to find out or don’t care to know how fighters hit the mark on the scale, just as long as they make it to the church on time.

And when commissions do try to get more proactive about telling fighters which weight classes they can and can’t fight in, as California has done, it somehow comes off as regulatory overreach. As if that is not the exact type of safety precaution that you have a commission for in the first place.

These seem like entrenched problems with the culture of this sport, which is what makes them so hard to fix. So maybe what we need is more than just the occasional peek behind the curtain, Danny.

If we only seem to care about this stuff when we see the ugly reality of it, as with Hirota or back when Cris Cyborg was killing herself trying to make 140 pounds, maybe the solution is to ensure that this process sees the light of day more regularly. If brutal weight cut videos started showing up all the time, do you think fans would become horrified enough to support some serious changes?

Downes: Ben, I don’t care what all the other people at MMAjunkie say, you aren’t a one dimensional guy. I’m amazed that you can find a way to be the most cynical person in the industry and supremely naïve. I know School House Rock had a great impact on you, but knowledge isn’t always power.

First off, weight-cutting videos aren’t always great #content. Watching fighters dehydrate themselves in a hot box is boring. Fans can’t learn anything if they’re so uninterested they don’t pay attention.

Secondly, I wonder if people really want to see how the sausage is made. Making a human connection with athletes can hurt the viewing experience. How am I supposed to yell at Mike Glennon and tell him he sucks when I learn that he has a baby boy?

Thirdly, I doubt an increased view into the weight-cutting experience would have an effect. Sure, there might be a few fans who pause and say, “Wow, that’s dangerous.” The vast majority, though, would shrug it off and blame the fighters. “If they didn’t want to cut so much weight, they shouldn’t be such a fat ass!” How many people blame Cyborg for not making bantamweight?

When it comes to making weight, most fans assume it’s a lack of discipline which accounts for the extra pounds. The Johny Hendrickses of the world don’t help that perception, but I would argue he’s an exception to the norm.

Much like the throwing in the towel argument we had last week, weight-cutting is one of those issues where we’ll have to save fighters from themselves. As long as there is the perceived value of drastic weight cuts, fighters will do it.

You’re right that they’ll view any attempts to regulate weight-cutting as overreach, but it will be a necessary evil. We should be wary, however, of expanding the weight classes as a way of combating this issue.

Rightly or wrongly, one of the classic arguments for the decline of boxing is the explosion of weight classes. The talent pool is already pretty thin at certain levels. Further diluting that pool will only lead to more problems. We need to fix things, but sometimes the cure can be more harmful than the disease.

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.

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