'No excuses' for Will Brooks after Nik Lentz loss dropped him to 'not acceptable' 1-3 in UFC

Will Brooks is still holding his head high despite going through the most challenging period of his career.

The former Bellator lightweight champion has hit hard times since joining the UFC in July 2016. After winning his debut, Brooks (18-4 MMA, 1-3 UFC) suffered his third straight loss this past weekend after succumbing to a second-round submission to Nik Lentz (28-8-2 MMA, 12-5-1 UFC) at UFC Fight Night 121 in Sydney.

When he signed with the UFC, Brooks was on a eight-fight winning streak and ranked No. 11 in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA lightweight rankings. Now he’s on an ugly skid, and though it’s a tough turn of events, Brooks isn’t hitting the panic button yet, nor is he making any excuses for faltering against Lentz (via Twitter):

Although Brooks seemingly had the upper-hand in the bout with former American Top Team teammate Lentz, he made a careless mistake that resulted in him being caught in a tight guillotine choke. The 31-year-old has been stopped inside the distance in all of the losses during his skid, but he’s apparently still undeterred.

For complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 121, 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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UFC Fight Night 121 reactions: Winning and losing fighters on social media

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 121 event in Sydney, 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 victorious

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For complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 121, 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

After choking out Will Brooks, Nik Lentz ready for whoever else from American Top Team

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SYDNEY – Former American Top Team teammates Nik Lentz and Will Brooks originally were supposed to fight last month at UFC 216 until Lentz wound up having diabetic-like symptoms that turned out to be hypoglycemia (non-diabetic low blood sugar), which forced his withdrawal from the lightweight bout.

It was no joking matter. And yet, it made him the target of trash talk by Brooks and others at ATT.

That didn’t sit well with Lentz, who submitted Brooks with a guillotine choke on Saturday at UFC Fight Night 121 from Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney.

“This is one of the first times that I’ve had, like, a serious medical issue, and my old team threw it in my face,” Lentz told MMAjunkie after his win, which aired during the FS1 prelims. “Like, ‘Hey, you’re running, you’re scared.’ Not one of them even messaged me to check on me or anything. And I have to admit that hurts. That’s supposed to be my family.”

You can imagine just how satisfying the win was for Lentz, who explained why he willingly took damage.

“I told everyone exactly how this was going to happen,” Lentz said.

He continued, “I knew that I could take that jab, and I knew if I took a couple jabs I could get him to play my game. And that’s what happened.”

What about earlier? Why was Brooks able to get out of a previous guillotine choke attempt? Lentz said he made a conscious in-fight decision to release.

“I didn’t get the guillotine on purpose, because I knew,” Lentz said. “I had it. I knew I wasn’t going to waste it. I was going to let him roll out the first time, (let him) think that he knew how to get out. And then the second time I was going to lock that b*tch up, and he ain’t ever getting away.”

With the win over Brooks out of the way, Lentz isn’t forgetting about the words directed at him from ATT. And he said he’s ready to take on anyone from the gym.

“When it comes down to it, it was f*cked up. And there’s no two ways to put it,” Lentz said. “It’s f*cked up when your old family throws you under the bus and says you’re scared. Because I ain’t scared of Will Brooks. I ain’t scared of anyone at ATT.”

For complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 121, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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Adam Wieczorek critical of UFC debut win at UFC Fight Night 121

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SYDNEY – In theory, Adam Wieczorek’s UFC debut was a success. In a reality, though, that’s not entirely true.

Wieczorek (9-1 MMA, 1-0 UFC) won a unanimous decision with a trio of 29-28 scores against Anthony Hamilton (15-9 MMA, 3-7 UFC) in a heavyweight bout that opened the preliminary card of Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 121 at Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney.

It was Wieczorek’s eighth straight win and opens up his UFC career with a victory. He hasn’t had a setback in six years.

So what was the problem? Plain and simply, Wieczorek feels like he didn’t perform up to standards, which he attributed to being tired right from the start.

Check out the video above to hear Wieczorek explain why he wasn’t completely satisfied, despite earning the win.

For complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 121, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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After unpaid 'Fight of Night' bonus, Frank Camacho wants to run it back with Damien Brown

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SYDNEY – Had he not had issues making weight for his bout with Damien Brown at UFC Fight Night 121, Frank Camacho would be $50,000 richer.

But Camacho (21-5 MMA, 1-1 UFC) didn’t make the mark on the scale for his welterweight fight with Brown (17-11 MMA, 2-3 UFC), which left him ineligible for fight-night bonuses. It turned out the pair put on a classic slugfest and won “Fight of the Night” – an award only Brown could collect on after a split-decision loss.

UFC Fight Night 121 took place at Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney. It aired on FS1 following early prelims on UFC Fight Pass.

Camacho said he miscalculated his weight cut and said no fault lies with nutritionist George Lockhart – whom Brown was using, too, coincidentally.

“What happened was I cut the water a little too early,” Camacho said. “The day before, right when I was going to start cutting, my body was actually holding (water). So I messed up on my part, and George got me a six-pack.”

But given his win was a split call, and given he couldn’t pick up the bonus, a suggestion was made by Dan Hardy in his post-fight interview with Camacho that maybe the two should fight again.

If nothing else, the fans probably wouldn’t mind it. And UFC 220 takes place in Perth, Australia, in February – so Brown could fight at home again and try to even the score.

“Dude – let’s do it,” Camacho said. “Damien Brown, man, I feel like I owe that to him. If that’s what the fans want to see, I wouldn’t mind coming back to Australia. I’ll come in and I’ll come in as a pro – let’s do it, dude. Let’s do it, dude. We’re gonna do it.”

For more from Camacho, check out the video above.

And for complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 121, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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Eric Shelton knew he was fighting for job at UFC Fight Night 121, beyond relieved to keep it

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SYDNEY – It took him three tries, but Eric Shelton got his first UFC victory with a unanimous decision over Jenel Lausa at UFC Fight Night 121 in Sydney, Australia. And if you don’t think he went into that fight feeling like his roster spot was on the line, guess again.

“That was exactly what I was thinking,” Shelton told MMAjunkie. “I knew I had to get out there and be dominant, whether it was on the ground or on my feet. And I felt when I got it to the ground that I could finish it there, and if not, be dominant.”

After the year he had, Shelton (11-4 MMA, 1-2 UFC) had every reason to believe it would take a dominant effort to win over the judges. In both his UFC debut in January, as well as his second fight at UFC 214 in July, Shelton put forth a strong effort and came up short with two consecutive split-decision losses.

And since the UFC doesn’t typically retain fighters who lose three straight to start their octagon careers, the pressure was on in this fight. So when Shelton heard his name called after three hard rounds against Lausa (7-4 MMA, 1-2 UFC), the relief was overwhelming.

“You have no idea,” Shelton said. “It feels like Heaven has come down on me, like, ‘Here you go. Here’s your gift for working hard and staying the course.’”

But with one win in three tries throughout 2017, the flyweight isn’t looking for a long layoff before he attempts to capitalize on his newfound momentum.

“I’m back in there as soon as they got me,” Shelton said. “I know I’ve got to take two months rest or whatever, but I’ve got mouths to feed and I’ve got a family that supports me, so there’s no resting for me. I’m coming and I’m coming strong.”

For complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 121, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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Jessica-Rose Clark already feels near title shot in 'wide open' flyweight division

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SYDNEY – Although she’s only one fight into her octagon tenure and still hasn’t technically made the weight class, Jessica-Rose Clark feels like a contender in the UFC women’s flyweight division.

Clark (8-4 MMA, 1-0 UFC), who made her promotional debut at UFC Fight Night 121 on Saturday with a split-decision win over Bec Rawlings (7-7 MMA, 2-4 UFC), came in two pounds overweight after accepting the contest, which co-headlined the FS1-televised card at Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney, on just 11 days’ notice.

Still, Clark feels beating Rawlings puts her on the map at 125 pounds. She regrets not making the limit, but knows she can in the future. Moreover, given the fact it was just the third bout scheduled for the weight class under the UFC banner, Clark believes the win puts her in a good position.

“100 percent, I’m supposed to be in flyweight,” Clark told MMAjunkie following her win. “I’ve felt like that for a long time and it’s just taken me a while to get my weight in check and make sure my preparation is key. It’s wide open. I feel like I’m a couple fights away from being able to fight for the belt anyway after they crown it Dec. 1 (at The Ultimate Fighter 26 Finale). I feel I stack up well with anybody they give me.”

Clark’s UFC debut came together in a whirlwind situation. She stepped in as a short-notice replacement for Joanne Calderwood and defeated a veteran opponent. It was a closely matched fight over three rounds, resulting in a split call from the judges. The all-Aussie matchup was something Clark saw in her future for quite some time, but didn’t expect it to come under the given circumstances.

“Everything about this fight and the matchup was amazing,” Clark said. “It felt like the perfect storm. It’s my 30th (birthday) in a few days and I really wanted to come home, but I couldn’t afford it. Then this fight happened and it was against Bec. This fight has been talked about in Aussie MMA for about five years now, but we were always two divisions apart. It’s crazy it finally happened, and it happened on the biggest stage in the world.”

Although missing weight will somewhat put an asterisk next to the win, Clark was just pleased to get her hand raised. She believes she would have finished Rawlings inside the distance with a full training camp, and said she hopes to have that opportunity ahead of her next fight.

“I honestly thought I could have finished that fight,” Clark said. “Obviously I took it on pretty short notice and had a tough weight cut. I feel like with a bit of better preparation I could have finished it in the second. I almost finished it anyway. I’m sure happy with that. As each fight goes by, they get better and better.”

For complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 121, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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Trading Shots: What should the UFC do about an uptick in fighters behaving badly?

From shoving referees to flinging boomerangs and homophobic epithets, UFC fighters haven’t exactly been on their best behavior lately. But when consequences are slow to appear, at what point do we need to examine the UFC’s approach to crime and punishment? MMAjunkie columnist Ben Fowlkes and retired UFC and WEC fighter Danny Downes discuss.

* * * *

Fowlkes: It was an eventful week outside the cage, Danny.

Down in Sydney, Australia, Fabricio Werdum hit Colby Covington in the neck with a boomerang that was, somewhat hilariously, still in a plastic bag.

Covington responded with a Facebook video of himself using the English version of the same gay slur that got Werdum in trouble a couple months ago, and that’s in addition to his ongoing verbal attacks on Brazilians, which is what started this mess.

Then on Sunday morning I wake up to news that Volkan Oezdemir has been arrested for battery shortly after being pegged as the next UFC light heavyweight title challenger.

All this comes, of course, in the shadow of Conor McGregor’s latest transgression, which involved leaping into the Bellator cage, shoving a ref, and then issuing an “apology” that mostly blamed that ref.

You know what all these incidents have in common, Danny? The UFC doesn’t seem to know what to do about any of them, at least not yet.

Consequences and repercussions are proving to be a tricky business for the MMA leader, and you can kind of see why. On one hand, rivalries and trash-talk and angry people paid to hurt each other are good business. But is there a connection between the UFC’s reluctance to punish anybody and what feels like an uptick in bad behavior from fighters gone wild?

Downes: I don’t know if I’d make that connection. True, the UFC hasn’t punished any of the fighters you mentioned (unless you include McGregor getting pulled from a fight card that we never heard he’d been booked on), but I think you’re attributing a larger problem to a few specific fighters.

Let’s look at some of the people in question. Werdum hasn’t received any discipline for his transgressions yet, so of course he’ll think it’s alright to throw a boomerang at somebody else.

I agree that there’s a chance that if he had received some type of fine/suspension in the past, he would be more wary of getting into confrontations, but that’s not a guarantee. If you’ll unapologetically support a Chechen dictator accused of multiple human rights abuses, I doubt your affinity for a change of heart.

Then we have Covington. He’s out there trolling anyone and everything. Either he’s willfully ignorant of his racist pronouncements, or he’s purposefully using them in his gimmick. Either way, I don’t feel like giving him any more attention.

Last but not least we have McGregor. We discussed this a little last week, but McGregor knows he has the leverage. Despite the UFC having its “best year ever,” it can’t afford to keep McGregor on the sideline. You think the UFC wants to teach him a lesson in humility if it means passing up on all that sweet McGregor money?

I know you’d like to see the UFC do something to enforce the supposed code of conduct, but I for one do not want to endorse a more heavy-handed disciplinary process. From Nate Diaz to Jason High and many other fighters in between, we’ve seen UFC discipline used to send a message against fighters that don’t tow the company line or have upset the brass.

If we give the UFC more discretion to punish athletes, won’t it lead to even more disparity in how the rules are enforced? You think the Endeavor era is beyond petty grievances?

Fowlkes: Seems to me that what you’re complaining about there is the uneven application of punishments, not the mere existence of them. And that’s a valid complaint. All are not equal in the UFC’s internal justice system, and they never have been.

Then there’s the issue of what the UFC deems worthy of punishment. Remember when Donald Cerrone made an unapproved addition to his Reebok fight kit? The UFC didn’t hesitate to hit him with what he described as a pretty serious fine. And even McGregor wasn’t immune from the penalty for blowing off pre-fight media obligations, as we saw when he got yanked from UFC 200.

You mess with the UFC’s money, there will be consequences. But what if you’re just out there acting like a jerk? What if that jerkish behavior veers into criminal territory?

That’s what surprised me about the UFC’s response to the Werdum boomerang incident (hereafter known as “Werdumerang”). The initial statement said that the UFC would be investigating whether or not it violated the “Athlete Conduct Policy.” Now, I don’t know if there’s a specific clause in there about hitting other fighters in the neck with a damn boomerang, but it’s hard for me to imagine how you could even have a code of conduct that something like that wouldn’t violate.

Seriously, we all saw the video. Werdum was standing there arguing with Covington and then decided to hit him in the neck with an aerodynamic stick. I don’t know how many brilliant detectives we really need in order to crack this case.

Let me ask you this: When you heard about this incident, did you entertain the thought, even for a second, that the UFC might pull Werdum out of his fight as punishment? Probably not. That’d be crazy, right? Just because a guy gets charged with assault outside the host hotel two days before the event, that’s no reason to scratch him from the headlining spot. Why, that’d be bad for business. Better to take your time with the investigation until after the show’s over and the money’s all been counted.

Why is it so hard to believe that, in the instant before he turned his souvenir into a weapon, Werdum ran through the same calculation in his head? And if he knew there was no way he’d lose his chance to fight and get paid, hell, why not find out if a boomerang can still fly inside a plastic bag?

Downes: You do realize you’re attributing a cold, calculated process of judgement to a man who threw a boomerang at another person, right?

You’re correct that many fighters (at least the high-profile ones) know they can get away with a certain level of misbehavior, but all the discipline in the world isn’t going to prevent impulsive people from doing impulsive things. What are the odds on Werdum picking on a bantamweight the next time he makes a public appearance? Obviously he has a hard time walking away from confrontations, and he’s not the only MMA fighter who would fall into that category.

You’ve complained about the arbitrary nature of the Nevada State Athletic Commission on multiple occasions. I fail to see how the UFC would avoid the same mistakes. That doesn’t mean that nothing should be done, but the current UFC structure is not equipped to handle these matters. If the company executives tried to take a tougher stance on conduct issues, they would bumble through it and open themselves up to lawsuits just like the NFL.

You think they’re going to risk the leverage they have in labor relations to teach Werdum that he should use his words (at least his non-homophobic ones) instead of his boomerangs? Not likely.

Perhaps all these disciplinary issues will hurt the bottom line and spurn some action. News stories about your athletes throwing boomerangs or using bigoted language are not good for the “brand.” You said that if you mess with the UFC’s money, there will be consequences. But none of the altercations we’ve discussed have done that so far.

Maybe the UFC needs to hire Matt Hughes back to get his crack team of policy strategists back together. More likely, though, what it needs is a panel to hear appeals and mete out punishments like other sports leagues. This can’t be some reactionary, spur-of-the-moment answer. It may seem more fulfilling to have someone unilaterally deal out discipline, but that doesn’t solve any longterm issues.

I do wonder, though, what type of discipline would satisfy us. MMA, by its nature, does not lend itself to effective judgments. You can’t suspend fighters for a few games (they only fight a couple times a year) and most of them don’t make enough money to make fines a fair method. Punishment and justice are two totally different things. We may desire the former, but we should aim for the latter.

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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Alex Volkanovski ready to take on biggest talkers in UFC's featherweight division

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SYDNEY – Alex Volkanovski says you didn’t see the best version of him on Saturday night in Australia, but given the right opponent, he thinks you will soon.

Volkanovski (16-1 MMA, 3-0 UFC) outclassed short-notice opponent Shane Young (11-4 MMA, 0-1 UFC) for a unanimous decision to open the UFC Fight Night 121 main card. He was a heavy favorite in the fight and picked up a pair of 30-26 scores and a 30-27.

“A win’s a win – 30-26, so it’s still a dominant performance,” Volkanovski told MMAjunkie after the fight. “But I was just playing it a bit too safe. The fact he was making his debut, and I believe I was probably expected to win, I just didn’t want to take too many risks. … But let me start shooting through these ranks, give me one of these top guys, and then I can really perform.”

UFC Fight Night 121 took place at Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney. It aired on FS1 following early prelims on UFC Fight Pass.

The fight was at a 150-pound catchweight instead of featherweight, owing to the short amount of time Young would have to cut weight when he took the fight for an injured Humberto Bandenay.

And Bandenay had been a replacement for Jeremy Kennedy. All Volkanovski wants is for someone to stick around long enough after a booking to make it to a fight with him, which would allow him to have a full camp for the same opponent. And he believes a matchup with a higher-ranked foe will help lead to that.

“It’s not up to me, but at the same time all these people are pulling out (against me),” he said. “Everyone wants a perfect camp whenever they fight me (and) that’s because they worry they’ve got a tough fight ahead of them. … But I believe if I start fighting some of these top guys, we won’t get pullouts and we’ll get the original fight. That’s what I believe will happen.”

With any luck, Australia’s Volkanovski will get to stay in his home country in February for UFC 221 in Perth. That’s where he’d be more than happy to return to try to go to 4-0 in the UFC.

As for who he’d like to fight there, if you’re a bully, feel free to raise your hand.

“Fighting in Australia is always good,” he said. “It’s pay-per-view – I can’t argue with that. It’s around the corner, and I want to fight as regularly as I can. I’m doing this for my family, so I want to make money. And all these bad boys, all these guys that like to talk a lot and try to bully people – as I’ve said many times, try to bully me and see what happens.”

For more from Volkanovski, check out the video above.

And for complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 121, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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Elias Theodorou happy he gets to haunt Daniel Kelly's dreams after UFC-Sydney

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Filed under: Featured, News, UFC, Videos

SYDNEY – Elias Theodorou was no stranger to Daniel Kelly before they threw down at UFC Fight Night 121 on Saturday.

But after his unanimous decision win, Theodorou (14-2 MMA, 6-2 UFC) went into some detail about an altercation he had with Kelly (13-3 MMA, 6-3 UFC) a couple days before their middleweight fight at Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney. Their fight aired on the main card on FS1 following early prelims on UFC Fight Pass.

“In some of the media, he was calling me two-faced,” Theodorou said after the fight. “After (media day), we said, ‘Is it OK if we take the elevator with you?’ After the door shut, he says, ‘You know what, mother(expletive)?’ and starts cussing at me.

“He goes, ‘You’re gonna act all two-faced and say you’re gonna be my friend? None of this stuff.’ And he goes, ‘It doesn’t matter. We’re gonna fight and I’m never gonna see you again.’”

Theodorou and Kelly were in the house together on the UFC’s “Nations” season of “The Ultimate Fighter,” which pitted fighters from Canada (Theororou) against fighters from Australia (Kelly).

But with his win in the books, it sounds like Theodorou isn’t harboring any hard feelings with the 40-year-old Kelly, who was a four-time Olympian in judo for Australia.

“Now I get to haunt him in his dreams,” Theodorou said. “But the important thing is, I have no animosity toward him. It’s a true honor stepping in the cage with him. … I didn’t shake his hand in the beginning (of the fight), but I did in the third round because it was a true honor.”

Theodorou won that aforementioned “TUF: Nations” season with a TKO of Sheldon Westcott in April 2014, then won two more fights for a perfect 11-0 start to his career and 3-0 in the UFC. After a loss to Thiago Santos, he got back on the right track with wins over Sam Alvey and Cezar Ferreira.

But in July, he dropped a decision to Brad Tavares. So the win over Kelly was huge to keep Theodorou from the first skid of his career, but also to get him back toward putting together another streak if he wants to be a middleweight contender.

“I’ve still got to go back to the drawing board,” he said. “For now, I’m happy I won against a really tough guy and I’m back on a win streak. Obviously, there’s things I could’ve done better.

“… He’s resilient. He’s a true warrior – especially someone in his fourth decade. He’s been doing judo longer than I’ve been on this earth. As someone that’s only been doing martial arts for eight years in any capacity – and six of those years I’ve been professional – I’m always growing and I’m learning. And I have to do that from this fight.”

For more from Theodoroou, check out the video above.

And for complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 121, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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