- Dave Doyle at Yahoo Sports5 days ago
When Jon Jones defends his UFC light heavyweight title against Glover Teixeira on April 26 in Baltimore, there will be one particularly interested onlooker.
The 19-1 Jones has technically been defeated – thanks to a sketchy disqualification in a 2009 fight against Matt Hamill – but the sport’s top pound-for-pound fighter has only looked human once in combat competition.
That came against UFC 172’s most engaged onlooker, Alexander Gustafsson. In a bout widely hailed as 2013’s Fight of the Year, Gustafsson and Jones engaged in a 25-minute classic before Jones retained his title by the skin of his teeth.
Seven months later, the lanky Swede doesn’t hold the title, but finds himself the key cog in the UFC’s 2014 plans for the light heavyweight division.
“It’s not a bad spot to be in,” said Gustafsson in a telephone interview with Yahoo Sports. “When you work hard, good things will usually follow.”
Regardless who wins at UFC 172, Gustafsson is expected to get the next shot at the light heavyweight title. While many clamored for an immediate Jones-Gustafsson rematch, the UFC opted to place the duo in separate fights before a potential rematch.
- Dave Doyle at Yahoo Sports10 days ago
Roy Nelson has been there and done that.
Over the course of a decade-long mixed martial arts career, the heavyweight knockout artist has fought everywhere from his hometown of Las Vegas to Guam to Costa Rica to Russia. He's competed 28 times under nine different promotional banners, making the industry-leading UFC his home since 2009.
So it takes a lot to get the 37-year-old known as "Big Country" excited about much these days.
But his next fight is something different. On Friday, Nelson (19-9) will meet the only man ever to hold heavyweight titles in both the UFC and PRIDE, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, in the main event of a UFC Fight Night card in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
"When I got into this business, I wanted to fight the best," Nelson said. "When I was breaking in, Nogueira was right up there with the best of the best, and he's still one of the biggest names. In some ways you have to treat this like just another fight. But yeah, the guys like Antonio and Mirko Cro Cop and Fedor [Emelianenko] were the guys I respected and admired, so it's an honor to be able to get a fight like this."
- Dave Doyle at Yahoo Sports25 days ago
LOS ANGELES – If last month's pull-apart scuffle in the Bellator cage between Quinton "Rampage" Jackson and "King Mo" Lawal wasn't scripted, someone forgot to tell Hollywood.
The Bellator light heavyweight rivals found themselves at a Hollywood studio recently, shooting promotional features to push their pay-per-view bout in suburban Memphis on May 17.
When Bellator officials arrived, they noticed Jackson's and Lawal's green rooms were next to one another, which led to an anxious reshuffling of room assignments, lest there be any uncomfortable moments.
"I don't talk to him," Jackson snorted. "Half the reason I came to Bellator is because I want to beat his ass."
Lawal concurred. "I don't ever talk to him," he said. "We've got to do some business today so we'll be cordial, but that's it. We ain't friends."
The Jackson-Lawal bout, which is the co-feature underneath the lightweight trilogy fight between champion Eddie Alvarez and former champ Michael Chandler, is one the company has eyed since it signed Jackson, the former UFC light heavyweight champion, last spring.
“Ruthless” Robbie Lawler was given every opportunity to dispute the result of his UFC 171 main-event loss to Johny Hendricks on Saturday night.
This is mixed martial arts, after all, where a segment of the fan base is inclined to scream “robbery” every time a fight goes the distance.
Instead, the ever-stoic Iowa native resisted repeated attempts to get him to say he deserved to win his bout with Hendricks, a classic of a UFC welterweight title fight which Hendricks took on across-the-board 48-47 scores.
“The thing is, when you leave it up to the judges, these things happen,” Lawler said at the postfight news conference at Dallas’ American Airlines Arena. “I just didn’t do enough tonight.”
Sometimes in the fight business, you gain nearly as much in defeat as you would in victory. This was the case for Lawler on Saturday night. Accepting a narrow-but-firm defeat with grace was the capper on the evening, justifying all the hype bestowed on him when he first broke into the sport.
So let it be written, so let it be done: UFC president Dana White has decreed Alexander Gustafsson will get the next shot at the UFC light heavyweight title, regardless who wins the title fight between champion Jon Jones and challenger Glover Teixeira at UFC 172 in April.
“If Jones wins, we have a nasty rematch," White said, after Gustafsson waxed Jimi Manuwa on Saturday in London. "If [Jones] doesn't, it's [Gustafsson] vs. Teixeira."
Well, not so fast.
White is used to getting what he wants, but Jones hasn’t always been known as a man who blindly follows his boss’ whims. Not long after White's declaration, Jones took to Twitter and disputed the notion that Gustafsson, whom Jones beat by narrow decision at UFC 165 in the bout most consider 2013’s Fight of the Year, is deserving of a rematch just yet.
Jones believes Gustafsson should square off with another top contender, Daniel Cormier.
“Why not give the winner of Alexander and DC the winner of myself and Glover?” Jones tweeted.
LOS ANGELES – Tyron Woodley knows how the game is often played in the UFC.
The squeaky wheel more often than not gets greased. A fighter who isn't afraid to publicly campaign for his case, who is willing to use social media, who all but dares his bosses to give him the big fight he seeks, is likely to be rewarded.
Such is the case for the former University of Missouri wrestler, who finds himself less than two weeks away from his biggest career fight. Woodley meets popular former champion Carlos Condit in the welterweight co-feature bout of UFC 171 on March 15 in Dallas.
Woodley, who saw himself behind a crowded pack at 170 pounds, made a loud case for a match with Condit, and got what he asked for.
"I want to fight Condit," said Woodley, who was in Los Angeles to speak at a local Boys and Girls Club as part of the UFC's Black History Month Tour. "I don't care what people say, I don't care whose turn it is, I'm ready to fight these guys, you won't have a better champion than me."
- Yahoo Sports1 mth ago
LAS VEGAS – The question hung over the post-fight news conference at Mandalay Bay and wouldn't go away: Who's the next challenger for Ronda Rousey's UFC bantamweight title?
Rousey has just successfully defended her 135-pound championship with a fast – some would say too fast – finish of fellow Olympic medalist Sara McMann in the main event of UFC 170 on Saturday night.
It marked her third title defense in 364 days and her ninth career finish in nine fights, leaving no obvious top challenger in the immediate future.
Oh, there were suggestions. Canada's Alexis Davis improved to 3-0 in the UFC earlier in the evening with a split-decision win over Jessica Eye, and she wouldn't mind taking the spot.
- Yahoo Sports2 mths ago
Someone must have forgotten to tell Sara McMann that they call this game "prizefighting."
Or maybe the undefeated 2004 Olympic wrestling silver medalist simply chases after different goals that most of her mixed martial arts peers.
The 33-year-old native of Takoma Park, Md. is poised to make the biggest payday of her athletic career, as she meets UFC women's bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey in the main event of UFC 170 on Saturday in Las Vegas.
But McMann is resolute in her belief that mo' money equals mo' problems.
"I don't care that much about money," McMann said. "I just don't. It's not part of my value structures, it's not how I was raised. Money gets in the way of everything."
Regardless, the undefeated McMann (7-0) is poised to cash in should she beat Rousey (8-0), whom UFC president Dana White just last week referred to as the biggest star the company ever had.
- Yahoo Sports2 mths ago
GLENDALE, Calif. – A sound like a thunderclap boomed off the walls of the Glendale Fighting Club on Monday afternoon, startling a few onlookers who were paying attention to their smartphones instead of what was in front of them.
Ronda Rousey was standing in the ring in this converted retail space just outside Los Angeles city limits and was using a male sparring partner as her human guinea pig. One time after another, Rousey's partner ended up on the mat, the victim of swift and brutal judo throws.
It was as if the UFC bantamweight champion was making a point to the media assembled for an open workout promoting her UFC 170 title defense against Sara McMann on Feb. 22 in Las Vegas: Rousey, the 2008 Olympic judo bronze medalist, is first and foremost a fighter.
You might think otherwise, given that Rousey, who's attracted more mainstream crossover attention in her short time in the sport than most fighters can hope to attract in a lifetime, has just announced a pair of new movie roles, in "Entourage" and "The Athena Files."
- Yahoo Sports2 mths ago
Saturday night's fight between heavyweights Alistair Overeem and Frank Mir was considered the equivalent of an old school pro wrestling "loser leaves town" match.
So there was something strangely appropriate about Overeem calling out a pro wrestler after he easily dispensed of Mir in an across-the-board 30-27 decision at UFC 169 in Newark's Prudential Center.
Overeem had words for former UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar, the man he sent running back to the WWE in 2011.
"I heard there's word that Brock Lesnar is about to come back to the UFC. Well, I'll be here waiting for him," said Overeem (37-13, 1 no-contest).
Of course, that's not something that's going to happen in the near future. While Lesnar, whose last fight was his first-round stoppage loss to Overeem at UFC 141, did recently chat with UFC president Dana White, Lesnar is also making plenty of money over in the land of make-believe and doesn't need to come back and take a real beating to earn a paycheck.