- Dave Doyle at Yahoo Sports2 days ago
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."
- Dave Doyle at Yahoo Sports12 days ago
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.
- Dave Doyle at Yahoo Sports17 days ago
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.
- Dave Doyle at Yahoo Sports21 days ago
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!"
LOS ANGELES – For once, Conor McGregor is willing to admit that it might not be all about him.
The bombastic Irish featherweight contender and self-promoter extraordinaire will step into the Octagon on Sept. 27 in Las Vegas.
But unlike his recent appearances, this time around, the cocky Dubliner is willing to admit UFC 178 is more than just the latest edition of The Conor McGregor Show. In this case, he is generous with the spotlight, willing to share it with the sport’s top pound-for-pound fighter, UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones.
“I don’t feel pressure to steal the show, but I will steal the show,” McGregor told Yahoo Sports while backstage at Club Nokia before a recent question-and-answer session with UFC fans. “I believe it’s myself and Jon’s card here. Nobody else.”
LOS ANGELES — Very few people in their right mind would call Daniel Cormier a stupid person.
The light heavyweight contender and former Olympic wrestler out of San Jose is one of the most perceptive and intelligent fighters in the sport of mixed martial arts. The fighter known as “DC” was fast to catch on as a Fox Sports UFC studio analyst, and he’s one of the media’s go-to guys for quick-witted quotes on subjects across the combat-sports spectrum.
So it shouldn’t be a surprise, then, that Cormier understands that while his UFC 178 news-conference brawl with light heavyweight champion Jon Jones on Monday in Las Vegas is the sort of thing that could cast the sport in a negative light, it will also set the cash registers ringing when the pair square off for Jones’ title on Sept. 27 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
SAN JOSE, Calif. – Just over two years ago, Anthony "Rumble" Johnson lashed out at his critics over Facebook, after he missed weight for a middleweight bout with Vitor Belfort by an astonishing 11 pounds.
"I don't give a [expletive]," Johnson said in a long-since-deleted post. "I'm laughing at you all."
Johnson went on to lose in the first round to Belfort in what was assumed to be the last anyone would ever see of the Dublin, Ga., native.
Contrast that to the words that came out of Johnson's mouth Saturday night in the Octagon at the SAP Center, after he needed just 44 seconds to score a vicious TKO victory over veteran Antonio Rogerio Nogueira in the co-feature bout of UFC on FOX 12.
Two matches into his UFC redemption tale, and now fighting as a light heavyweight, Johnson is levelheaded, humble and laser-focused on making the most of his second chance.
- Dave Doyle at Yahoo Sports2 mths ago
UFC welterweight champion Johny Hendricks took an unconventional lesson from his right bicep injury.
"Don't go see the doctor within two weeks of your fights," Hendricks told Yahoo! Sports. "They'll find something that's going to mess with your head."
Hendricks is being a little bit tongue-in-cheek, of course. But as the former NCAA wrestling champion rehabs from surgery to repair the injury that was suffered in training for his UFC 171 title victory over Robbie Lawler and exacerbated early in the five-round fight, the champ didn't need a doctor to figure something had gone wrong.
"What happened was, my final day of hard training [for the Lawler fight], I felt something and I immediately said, 'Let's shut it down,'" Lawler said. "It was like someone dead-armed me. Then in the first round, my first attempt at a takedown, I tore the bicep fully. At that point, it's all about adrenaline and the discipline from your years of wrestling training and you just push your way through."
- Dave Doyle at Yahoo Sports2 mths ago
From the UFC’s aggressive schedule expansion, to Nevada banning testosterone replacement therapy and the fallout the decision caused, to behind-the-scenes maneuvering at Bellator, and so on, the first six months of 2104 in mixed martial arts seemed to be more about what went on outside the cage than what went down when the gates were locked.
But still, several performances managed to cut through the cluttered landscape. So without further ado, let’s take a look at the best in the sport so far this year. (And yes, we set the cutoff for the first half of the calendar at July 5, the date of UFC 175, and not June 30).