Dave Doyle at Yahoo Sports 4 days ago
CHICAGO -- You don’t exactly need to put Miesha Tate in an armbar to get her to agree to another fight with her most bitter rival, Ronda Rousey.
So Tate, having racked up her fourth consecutive victory Saturday night with a dominant performance against Jessica Eye in the co-feature bout at UFC on FOX 16, was succinct about her thoughts on the third fight with Rousey, which UFC president Dana White said is coming her way.
“I love punching Ronda in the face,” Tate said at the post-fight news conference at United Center.
Two years ago, the idea of another bantamweight title shot for Tate seemed farfetched. She was finished by Cat Zingano in a bout to determine the next contender for Rousey’s title in June 2013. She lucked into the title shot when Zingano injured her knee. Then at UFC 168 she lost to Rousey, who also defeated her for the Strikeforce belt in 2012.
But two years after that second defeat, Tate has shown remarkable resilience and improvement as a fighter, and that was enough to convince White that Tate deserves another crack at the belt (assuming he’s not simply using the prospect of a Tate rematch to steer Rousey toward a fight with Cris “Cyborg” Justino).
Dave Doyle at Yahoo Sports 15 days ago
"Oh absolutely, I have a lot of respect for Fedor," Mir said. “It would be an honor.”
Before we continue, perhaps we should stop here and clear something up. We did not dig back into the vault for this quote. This was not the Mir of 2004, then the UFC heavyweight champion, talking about a potential unification fight against Emelianenko, at the time the PRIDE heavyweight champion.
No, this is the summer of 2015. And in the back-to-the-future heavyweight picture, the 36-year-old Mir, who everyone thought was washed up a year ago, is being asked about a fighter who has been retired for three years, the 38-year-old Emelianenko, about a potential match.
Not only is this fight feasible, it’s also potentially big. And this doesn’t even take into account that a contemporary of theirs, former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski, also wants a piece of “The Last Emperor.”
So how has this all happened? Well, Mir (18-9) did his part with a ferocious 73-second knockout victory over Todd Duffee on Wednesday night in the main event of UFC Fight Night 71 at the Valley View Casino Center.
But time off and a change of approach got Mir back on the right path.
Dave Doyle at Yahoo Sports 18 days ago
The bout was such an epic encounter that the new king of Las Vegas, Conor McGregor, felt compelled to pause from his own, well-earned victory lap to toss plaudits at the warriors who took to the cage at the MGM Grand Garden Arena immediately before him.
“That Robbie and Rory fight was absolutely phenomenal," McGregor said at the post-fight news conference. "I must pay my respect to that. Two absolute warriors took every shot and still came forward. This is what this sport is about. What a night of fighting.”
On any night except for Saturday, when McGregor capped the show with a dramatic comeback victory over Chad Mendes in front of a throng of delirious Irish fans, Lawler’s fifth-round TKO victory over MacDonald to retain his championship would have been the unquestioned lead story coming out of the evening.
But when the dust settles and the initial post-fight buzz subsides, the five-round battle full of twists and turns will likely be remembered on a shortlist of the greatest battles in UFC history, right up there with the likes of Dan Henderson vs. Mauricio “Shogun” Rua at UFC 139 in 2011 and Jon Jones vs. Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 165 in 2013.
Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 70 put the wrap on the first half of MMA’s 2015 schedule. And while Fourth of July weekend is a rare breather, things pick up later that month, with Jose Aldo vs. Conor McGregor at UFC 189 leading the pack in a crowded field.
Since we have a moment or two to catch up, let’s take a look at the year’s best in the sport through six months:
Fighter of the Half-Year: Joanna Jedrzejczyk. Due to injuries and just the way the schedule has panned out, only two of the UFC’s current 10 champions have competed twice thus far in 2015. One, Daniel Cormier, lost to Jon Jones on Jan. 3, then came back to defeat Anthony Johnson to win the vacant light heavyweight title on Memorial Day weekend at UFC 187.
Jedrzejczyk, meanwhile, is the only champ with a 2-0 record in 2015. The native of Poland destroyed Carla Esparza to win the strawweight title at UFC 185 on March 14 via second-round TKO. On June 20, she became the first fighter to successfully defend the 115-pound crown with an equally one-sided win over Jessica Penne -- this time, a third-round finish.
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When Kimbo Slice roughed up Ken Shamrock on Friday night with the heavy-handed fists which made him one of YouTube’s original sensations, mixed martial arts fandom’s pseudo-intellectual wing scoffed.
The main event of Bellator 138 wasn’t MMA at its purest, they brayed. It was an embarrassment to the sport. Throwing the 41-year-old brawler in with the 51-year old UFC Hall of Famer would kill credibility.
All the other metrics, however, indicate otherwise.
Google searches for “Kimbo Slice” over the weekend were around 500,000, putting it on par with UFC 182 (Jon Jones vs. Daniel Cormier) and UFC 183 (Anderson Silva vs. Nick Diaz), the UFC’s biggest events over the past year. Bellator 138 took first for the day in the Nielson Twitter TV ratings in the Series and Specials category. Media outlets like the New York Times, which rarely touch MMA, much less the sport’s second-place brand, covered the event.
While television ratings haven’t been released at the time of this writing, Bellator 138 buzzed big.
It’s not as if Bellator is banking its entire future on fighters like Slice, the fatal mistake which finished off companies like Elite XC.
Velasquez spent two weeks in Mexico's capital before his UFC 188 heavyweight title unification bout with Werdum, thinking it would be enough time to acclimate to the city's 7,389-foot altitude.
Werdum, who went into Saturday night's event at Arena Ciudad de Mexico as UFC interim heavyweight champion and came out the undisputed champ, had set up camp in the mountains near Toluca, Mexico, at 10,000-feet elevation, where he stayed for 40 days leading up to fight week.
The story of Werdum vs. Velasquez was in many ways the story of UFC 188 itself. From the opening bout of the night, when Gabriel Benitez and Clay Collard had a frantic first round and then noticeably tired before Benitez won a unanimous decision, it was clear the altitude was the evening's second-biggest storyline, after Werdum's title victory.
Those who were ready to compete in the thin air had a good night; those who didn't were in for a long evening.
"People think Denver [elevation, 5,130] is a tough place to fight," said White. "This is a tough place to fight."
White, for one, noticed the difference. Werdum seemed prepared. Velasquez didn't.
But Carlos Condit (29-8) is looking at his major knee injury, which was suffered on a simple takedown, as something of a blessing in disguise.
As one of the sport's most popular fighters gets set to return to the cage on Saturday, the 31-year-old Albuquerque native says that he took a philosophical approach to an injury which has stopped the careers of some of the world's greatest athletes.
"In a weird way I was kind of lucky, because it was a dozen years into my career that this happened," Condit said. "It could have happened a long time ago and really set me back. At least I've accomplished quite a bit in the sport before this happened and things like these are inevitable in a sport like MMA."
The fighter nicknamed "The Natural Born Killer" returns to action on Saturday night, when he headlines a FOX Sports 1-televised UFC Fight Night card in Goiania, Brazil, against Thiago Alves (21-9).
Condit injured himself last year at UFC 171, when a fluke shift of the leg as he attempted to defend a takedown quickly turned into a loss to Tyron Woodley.
Will the post-surgery Condit look like the vintage Condit?
Sounds like the script for a Hulk Hogan vs. Iron Sheik match from the 1980s, right? And yet, this was essentially how things played out when Chris Weidman defeated Vitor Belfort to retain his UFC middleweight title Saturday night.
Weidman’s matchup was UFC 187’s co-feature bout, behind Daniel Cormier’s light heavyweight title win over Anthony Johnson. But the MGM Grand Garden Arena rocked and rolled to the Weidman-Belfort fight and treated it like the evening’s real main event.
Nearly two years after defeating Anderson Silva for the title in what many considered a fluke knockout, the message is clear: Weidman is on the brink of A-list stardom, and Saturday night likely marked the last time he’ll play second fiddle to anyone.
And the undefeated champion seems to know it, too.
"Hey, stop doubting me," Weidman said during his post-fight interview. "It's enough. Stop doubting me. You better join the team now. This is my last invitation. Join the team. I love you."
Weidman’s last four victories have come against certified legends of mixed martial arts, future Hall of Famers and champions over two weight classes.
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LOS ANGELES – Those who aren't familiar with the culture of mixed martial arts might find this an odd dynamic: Your roommate today could be the guy you're punching in the face in front of 15,000 people somewhere down the road.
UFC heavyweight contender Travis Browne (17-2-1) knew this was a possibility a couple years back, when he let former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski (23-10, 1 no-contest) crash on his couch in Browne's Albuquerque home while Arlovski got settled into the city.
Browne was a mainstay at New Mexico's famed Jackson's MMA gym. Arlovski, coming off a string of bad losses, was just joining up with Jackson's, looking for a fresh start on a career gone awry.
They'd push each other in the gym as sparring partners, help each other to be their best. But with only so many top-notch heavyweights out there, chances were good that their paths would cross at some point.
While Browne maintains his friendship with Arlovski, Saturday night will be all business.
Johnson broke Arlovski's jaw midway through the fight, but Arlovski not only went the distance, he won the final round on the scorecards before losing via unanimous decision.
The American Kickboxing Academy, the San Jose home to UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez and a host of the sport’s top contenders, was the subject of a recent Dana White rant on UFC training-camp injuries.
"Some of the camps are still in the stone ages and need to be brought up to date," the UFC president recently said. "AKA is one of those places. You've got Cain Velasquez, our heavyweight champion, who's always hurt. Those guys go to war every day.”
While AKA was the specific target of White’s wrath, the gym may as well have served as a surrogate for the UFC boss’ frustrations over the ongoing battle with injuries and out-of-competition issues that wreak havoc on the company’s fight schedule.
Yet, while the constant flow of fighters on and off cards has continued unabated, the issue no longer seems as front-and-center as it once was. Why the seeming lack of urgency?
Werdum holds that interim belt because Velasquez had to pull out of their first fight date, on Nov. 15, which was caused by ongoing knee issues.