Dave Doyle at Yahoo Sports 2 days ago
UFC middleweight champion Luke Rockhold and his newly ordained challenger, Michael Bisping, fancy themselves as gentlemen rising above the fray of a rough-and-tumble business.
So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that a Thursday conference call promoting their UFC 199 main event on June 4 in Inglewood, Calif. – their first chance to exchange pleasantries since Bisping was announced last week as a substitute for the injured Chris Weidman – featured both fighters complimenting one another at the outset.
"You earned this, I’ll give you that," Rockhold said to his challenger, who has won three straight bouts. "You earned this fight.”
“I wish you all the best,” Bisping replied. “Listen, we’ve got mutual friends, I’m sure you’re a great guy.”
From there, though, the gloves came off. Not only are both considered real gamers in the cage, but outside, they’re among the wittiest fighters in the sport of mixed martial arts. With Bisping a decided underdog competing on short notice against an opponent who finished him just two years ago, the fight buildup could be as entertaining, if not more so, than the bout itself.
Dave Doyle at Yahoo Sports 14 days ago
The San Diego resident returned to her hometown of Curitiba, Brazil, and got a hero’s welcome from an estimated crowd of 45,000 at Arena da Baixada on Saturday night at UFC 198. The current Invicta featherweight champion then electrified the third-largest crowd in UFC history by waxing an overmatched Leslie Smith in just 1:21 in a catchweight 140-pound bout, winning via TKO for her 14th career finish.
Smith (8-7-1), a gamer who trains at the vaunted Cesar Gracie gym in Northern California, vigorously protested the stoppage, and she probably had a point, as it appeared the referee had stepped in early. But it also appeared he stopped a slaughter in the making, and her protests went nowhere as Justino basked in the adoration of the crowd.
So the question, as it always seems to be after Cyborg fights, is where does she go from here? Justino is indisputably the best featherweight fighter in the history of women’s MMA, having held the Strikeforce belt for years before winning the Invicta title.
Dave Doyle at Yahoo Sports 24 days ago
SANTA MONICA, Calif. – It doesn’t take long to figure out where you stand with Muhammed Lawal. The former Strikeforce light heavyweight champion, known in MMA circles by his nickname “King Mo,” is a man who wears his heart on his sleeve.
His friends in the business – like UFC welterweight champion Robbie Lawler, who had Lawal corner him for his UFC 195 title defense against Carlos Condit – swear by Lawal and his loyalty.
But he’s also made his share of enemies. Ask him about fellow Bellator light heavyweight Tito Ortiz, for example, and Lawal won’t hesitate to tell you what he thinks of the MMA legend.
“He’s a [expletive],” Lawal said of Ortiz. “He said, ‘I don’t want to fight you because you’re not a name. I don’t want to fight you because you’re ghetto.’ OK, I went to college, and you want to fight Kimbo [Slice]. You tell me who’s ghetto? I’m winning fights. He’s won two fights in 10 years. Don’t talk about me, worry about yourself.”
During his three years in Bellator, Lawal has gotten into it with everyone from Ortiz to Quinton “Rampage” Jackson to Emanuel Newton.
So the fact he’s got nothing bad to say about his next big foe, Phil Davis, is noteworthy in and of itself.
"We were there for each other when we needed it the most," said Browne, who will meet Cain Velasquez in a heavyweight matchup at UFC 200. "When we felt like everybody was against us, when everybody was trying to knock us down, we were there for each other.”
Of course, while Rousey and Browne both found themselves facing trying times in 2015, they were for very different reasons.
Rousey, Browne’s girlfriend, became as big a star as the sport of mixed martial arts has ever experienced during her pioneering run as UFC women’s bantamweight champion. She then found out about the ugly side of fame in the modern world after her head-kick knockout loss to Holly Holm at UFC 193, when she was made the butt of jokes everywhere from Twitter to late-night TV talk shows.
"It was hard to listen, to see what people were saying about me," Browne said. "But at the same time, I know what I did and what I didn't do. And I was able to sleep at night — no problem.”
It was just over a year ago the Milwaukee native was not just the UFC lightweight champion, but also a fighter who seemed poised for a superstar breakthrough.
Pettis was the first mixed martial artist ever featured on a Wheaties box. He was capable of moves — like his famed “Showtime Kick” — that seemed more suited for a video game than a real-life sporting competition.
How the mighty have fallen.
Pettis was schooled by veteran Edson Barboza on Saturday night at UFC 197, losing by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28) at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
That marked the former champion’s third straight loss in 13 months and Pettis’ remarkable run of nine wins in 10 fights from 2010-14, in which he laid waste to the division and collected UFC and WEC belts in the process, further into the rear-view mirror.
It also was yet another indicator the UFC’s lightweight division, the deepest on the company’s roster, is an absolute shark tank.
But in a January fight against Eddie Alvarez in Boston, Alvarez stayed in Pettis’ face for 15 minutes, outwrestling him and taking the clinch battles in a dull but effective decision win.
LOS ANGELES – Dominick Cruz and Urijah Faber found themselves together at a media gathering Wednesday in downtown Los Angeles promoting their UFC bantamweight title fight at UFC 199.
But the event may as well have been held about 10 miles northwest, because the catty manner in which they tore into one another made it feel like the hallways of Beverly Hills High School in 90210.
“He’s a car salesman,” said Cruz (21-1), the defending champion. “Everyone likes the car salesman until he gives you the keys and then he never remembers you in the end. Faber’s just looking to give you guys the keys real quick.”
Faber, for his part, sees his nemesis as the type who starts trouble and then runs away.
“He’s like the kid at recess who will talk a bunch of trash,” said Faber (33-8). “Maybe throw something at you, then they go hide behind the yard lady.”
Sacramento’s Faber and San Diego’s Cruz have been at this NorCal vs. SoCal war of words nearly a decade. The duo first crossed paths in World Extreme Cagefighting, where Faber, then the reigning WEC featherweight champion, submitted Cruz in the first round of a 2007 fight in Las Vegas for what stands as Cruz’s only career defeat.
Dave Doyle at Yahoo Sports 2 mths ago
The stated reason keeping Cris “Cyborg” Justino out of the UFC over the past several years was that the former Strikeforce and current Invicta featherweight champion competes at 145 pounds and the company’s heaviest women’s division is 135.
Though fans longed for a superfight between Justino and rival Ronda Rousey, Rousey refused to budge on the notion of contesting such a matchup anywhere except in her weight class during her long bantamweight title reign, ruling out meeting somewhere in the middle.
And UFC president Dana White, always the smart promoter, stuck by his one-woman pay-per-view money-making machine.
“[Justino] has to make the weight,” White told reporters as recently as last summer. “She has to make the weight, she has to fight, and she has to be healthy.”
So it had to come as a surprise to those who haven’t recently paid close attention to Justino’s saga when the UFC announced Monday that she would meet Leslie “The Peacemaker” Smith at a catchweight of 140 pounds at UFC 198 on May 14 at Brazil’s Arena Atletico Paranaense.
Dave Doyle at Yahoo Sports 2 mths ago
The recent news of a potential rematch between Nate Diaz and Conor McGregor at UFC 200 isn’t going over so well in some circles.
Especially among the UFC’s featherweight division.
Most understand why Diaz and McGregor are likely to square off once again. Their first fight, at UFC 196, was exciting, a smashing success at the box office and in online buzz. With Ronda Rousey not returning soon and rumors of a Georges St-Pierre return not (yet) true, Diaz-McGregor 2 is the highest-profile available matchup for what promises to be a landmark event in Las Vegas on July 9.
But there’s been a strong undercurrent of criticism over the fact that going with this rematch, which is expected to be contested at welterweight, means that McGregor’s featherweight title will once again be put on hold.
And the rank and file fighters at 145 pounds aren’t thrilled about it.
But it’s not just the two fighters jostling for the top contender spot that are in a holding pattern while the UFC indulges McGregor’s outside-the-division dalliances.
Dave Doyle at Yahoo Sports 3 mths ago
LOS ANGELES – Holly Holm heard all the business arguments in the wake of her stunning knockout victory over Ronda Rousey at UFC 193 in November.
Conventional wisdom was that the smart route for the new UFC women’s bantamweight champion would be to hold out until next July and fight Rousey in a rematch at UFC 200 in Las Vegas, which would bring in a bigger payday than she ever could have imagined when she began her combat sports career.
Even UFC president Dana White came out and said he should have his promoter’s license revoked if he didn’t make the Holm-Rousey rematch.
It’s a moot point now, because it turned out Rousey won’t be ready for a return within that time frame. But from day one, Holm says, the financial arguments for holding out on a second Rousey fight went in one ear and out the other.
“I told myself I would never fight for money or for fame,” Holm said. “I would fight for passion.”
Holm is in an unusual spot as a fighter. She’s a seasoned combat sports competitor, a former three-weight class world women’s boxing champion, and she's in her mid-30s. But Holm is still learning MMA, having committed to the sport full-time just three years ago.
Dave Doyle at Yahoo Sports 3 mths ago
(Warning: Video contains strong and offensive language. Viewer discretion is advised.)
TORRANCE, Calif. – Those who doubted that giving Nate Diaz the spot opposite Conor McGregor in the main event of UFC 196 was a good move for business should have seen the scene in Los Angeles’ South Bay area Wednesday.
Less than 24 hours after the younger brother of mixed martial arts’ hardcore antihero, Nick Diaz, was announced as the substitute for injured lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos against McGregor at Las Vegas’ MGM Grand Garden Arena on March 5, the masses flocked to a news conference promoting the impromptu welterweight bout.
An hour before the event’s scheduled start time – McGregor, as it turned out, showed up a half-hour late – the parking lot outside the UFC Gym was jammed, and the line to get in stretched all the way around the block and behind the building. Inside, fans stood on unused weight benches to try to get a better view of the combatants as the raucous crowd jostled for position. On YouTube, 222,000 viewers tuned in for the live stream – a number cable shows would kill for.
It didn’t take long after McGregor arrived to get the show started with a bang.