- Dave Doyle at Yahoo Sports3 days ago
Mixed martial arts' longest-reigning current champion had just defended his title in a career-defining, Fight of the Year-contending showdown.
And yet UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo had a challenger barely ranked in the division's top five on his mind when he took mic.
"My court is full now," Aldo said, after scoring a unanimous decision over Chad Mendes on Saturday night in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. "I am the king, Chad is the prince, and there is a joker now."
Mendes, for his part, took things another step and mentioned the "joker" by name when it was his turn to address the crowd.
"The one person who is lucky the decision didn't go my way is Conor McGregor," Mendes said. "I'm still looking forward to whipping your ass, buddy."
While post-fight callouts are nothing new, the scene at UFC 179 was unique. Both of the top two fighters in the division, having engaged in a battle that will be long remembered, went out of their way to try to goad someone beneath them on the pecking order, one who conveniently happened to be seated at cageside.
- Dave Doyle at Yahoo Sports10 days ago
Longtime, hardcore mixed martial arts fans will recall the fighter nicknamed "The Brazilian Killa," Alex Stiebling. The Indiana native earned his moniker by taking down one Brazilian fighter after another in the legendary PRIDE promotion before running into a gentleman named Anderson Silva in 2002.
UFC light heavyweight contender Phil Davis has been doing his part to audition for the moniker. The former NCAA wrestling champion out of Penn State is 4-0 in the UFC against Brazilian foes, including a victory over former champion Lyoto Machida in Rio de Janeiro.
And while Davis won't go so far as to proclaim himself as the new "Brazilian Killa," he won't protest too hard if others want to give him that tag.
"I'm not about to go calling myself that, but if someone else wants to go ahead and say it, then go for it," Davis said in a recent interview with Yahoo Sports. "It's OK by me."
Davis (12-2, 1 no-contest) will put his buregoning "Brazilian Killa" reputation on the line Saturday night in Rio in the co-main event of UFC 179, when he meets Glover Teixeira in a bout with pivotal light heavyweight division implications.
- Dave Doyle at Yahoo Sports23 days ago
If it wasn't already official, it is now: Conor McGregor is the UFC's new anointed one.
The charismatic Irish featherweight leads the race to fill the headline void left by the absence of pay-per-view stars Georges St-Pierre and Anderson Silva.
UFC president Dana White hinted on the company's website late last week that McGregor is likely next in line for a featherweight title shot, following the winner of the Jose Aldo-Chad Mendes rematch in the main event of UFC 179 on Oct. 19.
According to White, McGregor, who is 4-0 in the UFC, will be considered for a title shot ahead of others because longtime champion Aldo has already defeated so many of the top contenders at 145 pounds.
"Here's the thing: If you go down the list, every one of those guys has fought Jose Aldo already," White told UFC.com on Thursday. "Conor hasn't. So who do you line up next for the champ other than Conor? Everybody else has fought him."
LAS VEGAS — In case the point she made in the Octagon on Saturday night wasn't quite emphatic enough, Cat Zingano scanned the crowd until she found her boss.
The 32-year-old Colorado native had just finished off a tough opponent, Amanda Nunes, in brutal fashion, raining down ground-and-pound strikes until the referee waved off their UFC 178 bantamweight bout in the third round.
And after making such a statement in her first fight back after a tumultuous year-and-a-half out of action, Zingano was going to make damn sure UFC president Dana White, seated in the first row at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, fully understood what just happened.
"You probably didn't hear it, but she was screaming at me after the fight," White told reporters at the post-fight news conference. "She ran over and started screaming, 'Do you see me? Do you see me?' I said 'Yes, I see you.' "
The undefeated Zingano's moment of triumph was 17 months in the making. She had a memorable UFC debut in April 2013, when she rallied from a shaky start to finish former Strikeforce champion Miesha Tate in the third round.
Jim Ross will leave his trademark cowboy hat home when he makes his mixed martial arts commentating debut on Oct. 3.
The hat symbolized the pro wrestling character of "Good Ol' JR," made familiar to millions of fans who tuned into World Wrestling Entertainment broadcasts over the past two decades.
The 62-year-old Oklahoman is semi-retired after 40 years in the wrestling business. While he's proud of his body of work, the popular longtime broadcaster has long wanted to call an MMA event.
He'll get that opportunity next month, when he serves as the play-by-play announcer alongside color commentator Chael Sonnen for the BattleGrounds MMA one-night tournament in Tulsa, Okla.
"This is a bucket-list item for me," Ross told Yahoo Sports. "This is something I've always wanted to do."
Ross is destined to go down as a beloved figure within his realm. While the characters in the ring came and went, Ross was the omnipresent voice of the proceedings, making him easily identifiable to both hardcore wrestling fanatics and those casual viewers who like to pretend they don't watch wrestling, but secretly tune in.
Eddie Alvarez knows he'll have a metaphorical bull's-eye on his back when he makes his UFC debut.
The company's lightweight division is arguably the deepest weight class in any mixed martial arts organization. The upper ranks at 155 pounds are filled with some of the sport's finest athletes in their primes. The bottom and middle rungs feature veterans with chips on their shoulders who can still beat anyone on any given night and youngsters eager to make their mark.
The Philadelphia native will cut a long line when he makes his UFC debut on Sept. 27 against red-hot Donald Cerrone in the co-main event of UFC 178 in Las Vegas.
All eyes will be on the newbie. And the Philadelphia native wouldn't have it any other way.
"That's exactly how I want it," Alvarez (25-3) told Yahoo Sports. "I'm at my best when I feel like I've been backed into a corner. I've done a lot of hard work to get here, so if they don't like it, line 'em up and I'll fight them one at a time."
LOS ANGELES — Jessica Penne thought she had an understanding with her boss.
The 31-year old mixed martial artist from Huntington Beach, Calif., held down a day job as a boxing instructor at a gym in nearby Long Beach. But the former Invicta FC atomweight champion also had a potential big break awaiting, as she was offered a slot on the 20th season of The Ultimate Fighter, the UFC's signature reality show.
All she needed was six weeks off to make it happen. She thought her employer would be cooperative.
"I gave them my notice that I was going to be gone," Penne said at a recent TUF 20 media day in downtown LA. "I called them and I gave them my leave date and my comeback date, and I thought that was it."
Then she came home after the show wrapped, and found out otherwise.
"I was fired while I was on the show," she said. "They said, 'Oh, we filled your position, so don't worry about it.'"
Penne didn't want to name the gym so as not to give them any extra publicity. But she also realizes the closing of one door could open others, offering far bigger opportunities than one gym owner could ever provide.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. – If this was pro wrestling, Ronda Rousey would have shown up cageside at UFC 177 and issued a challenge.
Rousey, the UFC women's bantamweight champion, and her regular training partners – Shayna Baszler, Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir – have formed a clique they've named the Four Horsewomen, a homage to Ric Flair's famous rasslin' faction of the 1980s.
And in pro wrestling style, a foil has emerged. Undefeated Bethe Correia of Natal, Brazil, defeated Baszler on Saturday night during UFC 177's main card at Sleep Train Arena. Correia put on a vicious striking clinic to finish the veteran Baszler, essentially leaving her knocked out on her feet as the fight was waved off in the second round.
"I have a message for Ronda Rousey," Correia said through an interpreter in her postfight interview. "I want her belt and I'm coming to take it. The belt is going to be mine."
Mind you, this was the second of the Horsewomen Correia has taken out. She defeated Duke via unanimous decision at UFC 172 in April.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The toughest part of Thursday's festivities for Renan Barao was being so close to what was once his.
There sat the former UFC bantamweight champion, during a UFC 177 media day at Sleep Train Arena, no more than 15 feet away from current titleholder T.J. Dillashaw. Dillashaw was the fighter with the biggest crowd of reporters and cameras around him, the victor basking in his hometown glory, the star of the show.
And resting on a podium next to Dillashaw was the bantamweight title belt, the one which had been Barao's until Memorial Day weekend, sitting both literally and metaphorically just out of the Brazilian's reach.
"It motivates me a lot," Barao said through an interpreter. "I think about it all day, every day. I want to go over there and get my belt back."
He'll have that opportunity soon enough, as Barao and Dillashaw meet up in the main event of UFC 177, just three months after Dillashaw, as an 8-to-1 underdog, pulled off a jaw-dropping upset with a fifth-round finish in Las Vegas.
You can't blame Alexander Gustafsson for believing the next shot at Jon Jones' UFC light heavyweight title should be his for the re-taking.
After all, the 6-foot-5 Swede was slated to meet Jones on Sept. 27 in Las Vegas in a rematch of their epic fight a year ago.
But Gustafsson suffered a knee injury early in training camp, which caused him to pull out of the fight, and set in motion the circus-like chain of events which ended up making Jones vs. Daniel Cormier one of the most anticipated fights in years.
So when Jones himself had to pull out of the date because of a meniscus injury, causing the bout to be pushed back to Jan. 3, Gustafsson felt the title shot which had been his should be restored.
"I just heard the news that Jones is injured and the fight is rescheduled to January 3," Gustafsson wrote on his Facebook page. "Until then, I will be more than ready, it was my fight to begin with and I want the fight as the number 1 contender. End of story!"