Cagewriter - Mixed Martial Arts

  • UFC President Dana White spoke to TMZ about Phil “C.M. Punk” Brooks, and said that the former WWE superstar is looking “phenomenal” and on track for a debut in early 2016.

    Punk has taken his fair share of critique jumping headfirst into MMA. However, Roufus Sport training partners Anthony Pettis and Ben Askren have been vocal in their support of the 36-year-old rookie and are adamant that he will be able to transition smoothly.

    White also said he thinks UFC Hall of Famer Ken Shamrock needs to retire.

    'Suga' set for October return

    Former UFC light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans has been out of action for close to two years. According to UFC Tonight’s Ariel Helwani, Evans wants a return fight at UFC 192 in October against Ryan Bader.

    Bader has expressed his desire for the fight as well and now it is up to the UFC to make it official.

    Machida goes under the knife

    Yoel Romero broke the Internet with his post-fight speech on Saturday. Unfortunately for his opponent, Lyoto Machida, that wasn’t the only thing he broke.

    Per UFC Tonight, Machida underwent successful surgery for a broken nose suffered at the hands of the “Soldier of God.” Machida is 1-3 in his last four fights and has been finished consecutively by Luke Rockhold and Romero. On the flip side, Romero has won his last six fights and is a surging contender in the UFC’s middleweight division.

    'Jacare' is ready and not waiting

    UFC middleweight contender Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza isn’t waiting around for a title shot. Souza is riding an eight-fight win streak and is ready for a September return. And according to UFC Tonight, if he can’t get a big-name fight in his division, then he will fight at 205.

    Listen, we know that “Jacare” (Portuguese for alligator) loves to mimic chomping down on his opponents after a signature submission win, but the thought of this contender moving up 20 pounds in weight – especially so close to a title shot – has us thinking he might be biting off more than he can chew.

    'The King' Returns?

    The UFC announced its plans to return to Dublin, Ireland, in October.

    And win or lose at UFC 189 on July 11, Dublin-born UFC superstar Conor McGregor wants in.

    “You don’t have a show in my hometown and not have me on it,"McGregor said on a recent conference call. "Most certainly, I want to be on that card. We'll see which way it plays out.”

    McGregor has his hands full against late-replacement terror Chad “Money” Mendes in Las Vegas. If he can get through the Team Alpha Male standout, and his all-world ground attack, McGregor will finally sit on the throne that he’s claimed was his from the start. Or, at least, he'll sit an interim throne with a 'toy' belt until Jose Aldo is healthy enough to defend his featherweight crown again.

  • UFC president Dana White told Yahoo Sports Wednesday that UFC 189 will set promotion records for largest paid gate in the U.S. and will set a Nevada record for attendance, even after the loss of featherweight champion Jose Aldo from the main event of the July 11 card at the MGM Grand.

    A broken rib suffered in training on Tuesday forced Aldo out of his title defense against archrival Conor McGregor. The UFC replaced him with Chad Mendes, and they'll meet in the newly constituted main event for the interim featherweight crown. Aldo is expected to fight the winner when he's healthy.

    The co-main event will remain the same, a welterweight title fight between Robbie Lawler and challenger Rory MacDonald.

    White said the UFC had only received 50 requests for refunds since word of Aldo's withdrawal became public.

    White said the show is already a sell-out. A check of TicketMaster.com showed only a handful of seats available and none of those available on the floor. UFC senior vice president Peter Dropick said most of the seats shown on TicketMaster were ones the UFC has added. White said that the UFC is continuing to work with the MGM to add more seats to increase the Grand Garden's capacity to over 16,000.

    "We had to get creative," Dropick said. "We stayed within the fire code, but we had to get creative. We have seats in some places we've never had seats before."

    The largest U.S. gate in mixed martial arts history is UFC 148 on July 7, 2012, at the MGM Grand, which featured a rematch between then-middleweight champion Anderson Silva and Chael Sonnen in the main event. According to Nevada Athletic Commission records, that fight did a $6.9 million gate on an attedance of 13,600. The average ticket for that show sold for $507.44.

    It is one of only two MMA fights held in the U.S. to exceed $6 million in gate revenue. UFC 168, a rematch on Dec. 28, 2013, between Chris Weidman and Silva for the middleweight belt, did a gate of $6.2 million on a state record MMA attendance of 14,574. The average ticket sold for Weidman-Silva II was $428.08.

    The U.S. attendance record for an MMA fight came at UFC 171 in Dallas on March 15, 2014. That show, which featured Lawler against Johny Hendricks for the welterweight title, had an attendance of 19,324. But the average ticket cost of $134.55 didn't come close to a record because the gate was $2.6 million.

    The UFC records for largest gate and largest attendance both came at UFC 129 on April 30, 2011 at the Rogers Centre in Toronto. There was an attendance of 55,724 and a paid gate of $12.075 million (in U.S. dollars). The average ticket price for that show was $216.69.

    "We're adding seats and when we do, they fly right out the door," White said. "We've barely had any refunds and the ones we've had, as soon as we've gotten the tickets and put them back in the system, they're scooped right up."

    White said he also expects the largest crowd at a weigh-in in Las Vegas, though he couldn't provide figures. He said the weigh-in stage, which is usually roughly in the center of the floor, will be pushed "way back" in order to allow as many fans as possible to get in.

    White wasn't prepared to speculate about the impact Aldo's loss will have on the pay-per-view. He said he won't seriously pay attention to pay-per-view trends until Tuesday, when it will be a more accurate barometer.

  • One of the most hotly anticipated fights in mixed martial arts history was scrapped on Tuesday when Jose Aldo said his rib injury was too painful and would prevent him from defending his featherweight title against Conor McGregor on July 11 at the MGM Grand in the main event of UFC 189.

    UFC president Dana White made the announcement during an appearance with McGregor on Tuesday on SportsCenter. Chad Mendes, who lost a tough match to Aldo for the belt last year in Brazil, will now meet McGregor for the interim title.

    It's the fifth time in his UFC career that Aldo has pulled out of a bout with injury, but far and away the most devastating. Previously, injuries prevented Aldo from participating in UFC 125, UFC 149, UFC 153 and UFC 176.

    This one, though, is the toughest one for all concerned to take. The bout pitted the long-time champion, one of the great fighters in the sport's history, against a fast-rising star who in just two years has skyrocketed to stardom.

    White said it had a chance to surpass UFC 100 as the best-selling pay-per-view in the sport's history.

    That's all by the boards now, as McGregor will now meet Mendes. It's an intriguing fight on many levels, but after an eight-city, five-country tour to promote Aldo-McGregor, it's going to be difficult to get fans as interested and emotional about McGregor-Mendes.

    Aldo was injured last week when he was hit with a spinning back kick by a sparring partner. The significance of the injury was debated, as members of Aldo's camp said he had a broken rib while White said doctors told him it was just a bruise.

    But on SportsCenter, White said the injury was too painful for Aldo and he had to pull out.

    McGregor has routinely mocked Mendes, who is 5 feet 6 inches. In an interview with Yahoo Sports last week, when he was put on standby in the event that Aldo couldn't go, Mendes said he has long been eager to face McGregor. 

    "This guy has talked and talked and talked and for the last year, he's made it personal," Mendes said. "I'm going to thoroughly enjoy punching him in the face. Getting in there and getting a belt against a guy like him, who in my opinion has a lot of holes in his game, is something I couldn't pass up. He's good. Don't get me wrong. He's got talent, but when you put aside the mouth and the marketing skills, he's not the kind of guy I see as a champion."

    The winner will be the interim champion, and presumably will fight Aldo when he's healed.

    The show, though, won't quite be the same after the long tour and build-up to promote Aldo-McGregor.

  • For the last week the UFC teased that fans would not want to miss Tuesday's official unveiling of the company's new UFC "Fighter Kits." They sent out emails and hit social media hard with each one of their champions campaigning for your attention.

    Now, they might be hoping some of those emails went directly to spam.

    Some of the UFC's biggest stars were on hand to give the fashion-week inspired event the extra push it needed. In fact, the only champion not on hand was UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo, who is back in Brazil nursing a rib injury that might keep him out of his UFC 189 title defense against Irish needle-mover Conor McGregor on July 11.

    The look of the kit, themselves, is a stark departure from the billboard-esque fight shorts that athletes wore in year's past. Reebok even added an official "jersey" to go along with each fighter's choice of fight-night shorts – a jersey that will run you close to $100 if you'd like to purchase one.

    The UFC and its fighters rely heavily on branding. All a fighter has is his or her name (perhaps a catchy nickname like "Pitbull" or "Spider") and likeness to earn extra cash.

    In fact, with the new Reebok partnership, how much any given fighter could earn depends on how much gear they sell (along with their tenure in the company).

    But when the sponsor misspells your name on merchandise on the day it's officially unveiled, well, you can understand that more than a few people could get upset.

    Especially when we're talking about stars like "Giblert Melendez," "Marcio" Lyoto Machida and UFC hall of famer Mark Hughes."

    Some fighters even got the parental treatment when their full names were printed on their jerseys.

    Reebok, for its part, actually responded to Lawlor's claims via social media.

    Although, one can assume given his simple reply, "Filthy Thomas" is still more than a little upset.

    These are just some of the hiccups from Reebok. Other errors include a lack of accents on a majority of fighter's names and apparent mix-ups with fighter nationality.

    Given that Reebok had ample time to ensure that this very public rollout went smoothly, these errors – and an apparent lack of attention to detail – are only going to stoke the proverbial flame of critics everywhere.

    (Here is a complete list of mistakes, courtesy of reddit user CaptainSasquatch.)

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  • Did he or didn’t he?

    That was the talk after Yoel Romero authoritatively dismissed Lyoto Machida on Saturday night at UFC Fight Night in Hollywood, Florida. The performance itself was stellar, with little to no mistakes on the Cuban-born immigrant's behalf.

    The post-fight speech, however, was an entirely different story. Fans and critics immediately rushed to their DVRs in an attempt to decipher what exactly was said when the 38-year-old contender took to the microphone after a career-defining victory over “The Dragon.”

    This much we do know: Romero was upset with America. He yelled at America through our television sets with great fervor. He wanted America to fix something.

    Then, depending on your auditory skills, you either heard Romero say something about “no for gay Jesus,” or “no forget Jesus.”

    [From Cagewriter: UFC's 'fight kit' reveal goes awry as Reebok misspells fighter names]

    Romero wanted to fix something happening in America and post-fight he clarified his statements and said he was simply referring to the decline of the “American dream” – even though we were just 24 hours removed from the Supreme Court’s benchmark ruling on marriage equality, many accepted Romero’s apology and moved on.

    UFC president Dana White has spent his entire career speaking loudly into microphones and he certainly has had more than his fair share of on-air snafus. So, he admittedly understood Romero's passion. However, like many, White would liked to have seen Romero choose a different time and place to speak his mind.

    “No, it wasn’t controversial at all,” White told MMAFighting’s Ariel Helwani. “But the reality is this: You just won the biggest fight of your career, America doesn’t want to hear your thoughts on Jesus.

    “Keep that stuff at home; religion, politics, all that stuff. When you’re out there fighting and you’re being interviewed, they want to hear about the fight. It’s awesome you love Jesus; love Jesus all you want. You just don’t have to do it publicly.”

    White, who was not in attendance on Saturday, is positive Romero made no reference to marriage equality in his post-fight speech.

    He is also positive that UFC viewers aren't exactly the type to enjoy being yelled at through a television set.

    “I know he didn’t say that,” White replied. “I know he didn’t say it, everybody knows he didn’t say that. People react to everything but if you would just keep that stuff – you know…talk about your fight. People don’t want to be preached to.”

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  • Yoel Romero put on a career-defining performance on Saturday against former light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida.

    The 38-year-old middleweight uber-prospect stood with “The Dragon” and his famed strikes until late in the third round when he attempted his very first takedown. It was a beautiful trip takedown that placed Machida on his backside and Romero followed it up with a succession of brutal elbows that had the Brazilian’s head bouncing off the mat. Referee John McCarthy rushed in and halted the action, officially, at 1:38 of the round.

    Romero transitioned to MMA at 32 in 2009 and has been lauded as one of the greatest wrestlers to ever compete in the sport. Now undefeated in all six of his UFC outings, Romero put on a performance against Machida that should have stolen the show.

    Unfortunately, it was his post-fight speech that will be getting him more attention.

    Romero, who goes by the nickname “Soldier of God” was draped in a “John 3:16” headband as UFC announcer Jon Anik approached him for the customary post-fight victory interview.

    And that is when things got confusing.

    “Wow…I’m trying English…I’m sorry if people can’t understand me, but I’m trying,” Romero said. “Hey, UFC! Hey, Miami! Hey, Florida! Listen, people, listen!

    He continued, “What happened to you USA? What happened to you? What’s going on? The name is Jesus, God. What happened to you? Why come USA? Go! Go back for you. Go for Jesus, not for gay Jesus, people!”

    Romero is a Cuban emigrant and English is not his first language, so the sentences are hard to decipher and could have been misconstrued – surely, at the very least, Romero would have liked to be more clear in his delivery on the heels of such a benchmark decision being handed down by the Supreme Court in regards to marriage equality.

    Here is the interview in question, for those who want to discern for themselves:

    Whether Romero was referencing the Supreme Court's decision is almost a moot point now, as some fighters have already lashed out via social media.

    Soon-to-be UFC fighter Phil “CM Punk” Brooks immediately offered Romero some of his officially licensed merchandise shortly after the controversial remarks were made.

    Romero, for his part, tried to clarify his comments via an interpreter in the post-fight press conference.

    "I would like to apologize if there was a misunderstanding," Romero said. "First of all, I am a man of God. And God is love. My expressions are always going to be about love. What I was trying to say in the Octagon was, live for the American Dream.

    "…I will tell you guys something: God made man to be free. Anybody can do whatever they want. I wouldn't be the type of person to critique anybody. I have to look at myself first, and be a better person, to love people. What I was trying to say was, to the United States, thank you, for giving me the American Dream. There is no better country, because it is blessed by God."

    Unfortunately for Romero, he could not have picked a more inopportune time to air his apparent grievances. His performance against Machida pushes him one step closer towards potential UFC gold, and these heated comments – no matter your opinion on the issue – could very well force him two steps back.

  • LAS VEGAS -- Here's all you need to know about Chad Mendes: When UFC president Dana White called to gauge his interest in facing Conor McGregor if featherweight champion Jose Aldo is unable to compete on July 11, Mendes said yes before he knew whether he'd be paid.

    And on Thursday, a day after the UFC announced that Aldo is planning to put his belt on the line against McGregor but bringing in Mendes as a precaution in case the pain from a bruised rib becomes too unbearable for Aldo to fight, Mendes still didn't know if he'd be paid.

    "Honestly, I don't know," he told Yahoo Sports when asked if he'd be paid even if he's not needed to fight. "I guess we're still talking. I don't really know. But they offered me the chance to be the stand-by fighter for UFC and, paid or not, I was all over it. I was 100 percent going to do it."

    For the record, White said Thursday that Mendes will be paid, regardless of whether he fights. White said the UFC does that frequently, and said it paid Jessica Eye to train and be ready as a backup to fight Ronda Rousey at UFC 184 in February if Cat Zingano wasn't able to make it.

    Aldo was hurt when he was hit with a spinning back kick on Tuesday in Brazil. With his injury history -- he's pulled out of four events since he joined the UFC -- the UFC needed to make sure that McGregor remained on the show. White expects it to be the biggest pay-per-view show in the company's history, and it's largely because of McGregor. 

    Mendes, who is the division's No. 1 contender, is 17-0 against all the other featherweights in the world but 0-2 against Aldo. He lost title fights to Aldo at UFC 142 in 2012 and UFC 179 last year.

    But he's long been eager to get a crack at McGregor, who has mocked him mercilessly over the last two years. Among other insults, McGregor referred to Mendes as "a midget."

    McGregor has gone 5-0 in two-plus years in the UFC but earned the title shot as much for his notoriety and ability to attract fans as for his accomplishments in the cage.

    If Mendes fights him, it will be because Aldo physically couldn't make it and it would be declared an interim title bout. That doesn't really matter to Mendes, who said the interim belt "would be a cool thing," but not the prize he's truly seeking.

    "This guy has talked and talked and talked and for the last year, he's made it personal," Mendes said of McGregor. "I'm going to thoroughly enjoy punching him in the face. Getting in there and getting a belt against a guy like him, who in my opinion has a lot of holes in his game, is something I couldn't pass up. He's good. Don't get me wrong.

    "He's got talent, but when you put aside the mouth and the marketing skills, he's not the kind of guy I see as a champion."

    So Mendes will train for the next two weeks as if he were going to fight, with the knowledge that with each passing day, the likelihood he's needed will decrease.

    He's not worried about it, he said, because he is always in the gym working out. His weight rarely balloons up and so he said he'd have no issue being ready to make the division's 145-pound limit.

    "Either way, I feel I'm in a positive place, whether Aldo gets in there and fights or not," Mendes said. "Basically, I've got to treat this like I'm fighting for the world title. I've got to shut out all that stuff [about possibly training and then not getting to fight] and just be ready to fight. Physically and mentally, I'm in a great place and I'm in a can't lose situation.

    "If I am fighting, I will be ready. This is a fight I've wanted for a long time. I've thought about this fight for quite a while and I'm excited to get in there and do it. But if I don't get to fight, this is a bout that not only as a fighter, but as a fan, I'd be excited to watch. So I can go pig out at the buffet and see a great fight. Either way, it's positive for me."

  • Ex-UFC light heavyweight champion Chuck Liddell was defrauded by an escrow company and was awarded a nearly $2 million judgment in a California court, the Fresno Bee reported.

    Liddell, 45, had invested in four real estate developments with developer Kelly Gearheart, who in 2012 pleaded guilty in federal court in Los Angeles to two counts of wire fraud and one count of money laundering. Federal prosecutors are seeking an 11-year jail term for Gearheart, who will be sentenced on Monday in Los Angeles.

    Liddell's attorneys successfully argued that an escrow officer for Cuesta Title Company had a conflict of interest in the case because she was close friends with Gearheart. In addition, Liddell had alleged that his signature had been forged on documents.

    The jury found in Liddell's favor and awarded him $1,982,727.

    Liddell is now the vice president of business development with the UFC. He retired in 2010 after losing his final three fights and five of his last six. He won the light heavyweight title on April 16, 2005, when he knocked out Randy Couture in the first round of their match at UFC 52. He made four successful title defenses before losing his belt to Quinton "Rampage" Jackson at UFC 71 on May 26, 2007.

    He is a member of the UFC Hall of Fame. 

  • Last Friday, Bellator MMA pulled its single-best ratings in company history, when their main event between street fighting sensation Kimbo Slice and UFC hall of famer Ken Shamrock peaked at 2.4 million viewers.

    Despite their increased age and declining skill sets, the fight between Slice, 41, and Shamrock, 51, was something that garnered legitimate interest, proven by the impressive viewership numbers.

    Fans shouldn’t be surprised, as Bellator had success in November 2014 when they put together a fight between former UFC mainstays Tito Ortiz and Stephan Bonnar. With both fighters nearing 40, the fight peaked at 2 million viewers.

    Unlike Ortiz and Bonnar’s labored and drawn out 15-minute affair, Slice and Shamrock was done in under three minutes.

    And it wasn't without its fair share of controversy.

    The fight, plainly put, was sloppy. So much so that the finish, and the moments leading up to it, were in question almost immediately after the event.

    Early in round one, Shamrock – a man known for his submission prowess – had Slice (a man known for anything other than submissions) in what seemed like a surefire rear-naked choke.

    Shaky hand fighting ensued and at one point it looked to some as if Slice actually tapped out to Shamrock’s attempts. Unfortunately for Shamrock, Slice muscled out of the choke and rose to his feet – some would say a little too easily.

    Once standing, the slugger only needed a few seconds to mount an attack and put Shamrock on his backside. And the end followed shortly thereafter.

    One man in particular who called the fight’s ending and legitimacy into question was UFC announcer and life-long martial arts practitioner Joe Rogan.

    Rogan first thought something was up during the walkouts.

    “The entrance looked so suspect,” Rogan said on his Fight Companion podcast this week. “Because [Shamrock] was shaking everybody's hand. It didn't look like he was about to go to a fight; it looked like he was about to go put on a performance.”

    When the actual fight started, Rogan didn’t like the shaky exchanges and labored movements – this, despite the fact that he was reminded by co-host, UFC heavyweight Brendan Schaub, that Shamrock is 51 years old.

    "That fight looked fake as [expletive]," Rogan continued. "There's a couple things I don't like about that fight: I don't like that clinch -- that long clinch that they had when they were mouth to ear -- they were mouth to each other's ears for a long [expletive] time.

    "When Ken did take him down he never hit him once. How bout that? He never hit him. He had him down. He had him flattened out. He's not blasting him with punches. He's got him flattened out and he's not hitting him; that doesn't make any sense."

    The other sticking point Rogan had was the submission attempt itself. Rogan, who is a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, was dumbfounded by Shamrock’s lack of efficiency, despite being a legend in the art of submission fighting.

    "He never went behind the head! He choked him but he had it, like, on top of the head in some sort of weird way.”

    He continued, "It was disturbing to me how easy Kimbo shook Ken off his back. There was a lot of [expletive] I didn't like about it."

    Rogan is also a very successful stand-up comedian who has never shied away from a good conspiracy theory, or challenging of authority. And he does make some compelling points; specifically the awkward tie-up at the opening of the fight and even more awkward submission attempt that followed.

    However, Kimbo vs. Shamrock was a big fight for Bellator, and even with Shamrock’s history as a pro wrestler, the thought of them risking their legitimacy on a staged fight seems far-fetched.

    What is your verdict, Cagereaders: Did you watch Friday’s fight? Was the fix in? Or are people getting too worked up over two men who are well past their prime?

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    Ryan McKinnell is a contributor for the Yahoo Sports Cagewriter blog. Have a tip? Email him or

  • If you are an MMA fan, you might want to be sitting down because this is going to hurt a bit.

    According to a report from Brazilian outlet Combate, UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo Jr. suffered a fractured rib during a mid-week sparring session and his fight with Conor McGregor is in jeopardy.

    The July 11 bout is set to headline UFC 189 and the company’s annual International Fight Week. The week is filled with fight festivities, a fan expo, fighter meet and greets, and countless other activities for the visiting throngs of fight fans making the pilgrimage to Sin City.

    The UFC has invested plenty in the Aldo-McGregor main event and a potential cancellation to the biggest fight in featherweight history has fans and media on the edge of their seat as the combat sports world awaits official word from Aldo's camp.

    Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time Aldo’s name has been linked to injury. In fact, Aldo has pulled out of four other UFC fights (UFC 125, UFC 149, UFC 153 and UFC 176) during his half-decade reign atop the 145-pound division.

    After fighting three times in 2013, Aldo has managed just one fight since, and the fight with McGregor has earned the Brazilian the most attention his career; this, despite the fact “Scarface” hasn’t tasted defeat in nearly a decade.

     A replacement could theoretically be brought in for McGregor. However, given his marquee value and contender status, it is hard to imagine the UFC risking the payday that would come once Aldo heals up by throwing McGregor into a stopgap fight.

    If the UFC 189 main event does fall to the wayside, the co-main event welterweight title fight between champion Robbie Lawler and Canadian Rory MacDonald will almost surely be slotted in as a replacement.

    The fight serves as a rematch of a 2013 bout at UFC 167, in which Lawler defeated MacDonald via split-decision. The victory over MacDonald paved the way for Lawler’s series with then-champion Johny Hendricks and eventual UFC gold.

    But while a second fight between Lawler and MacDonald should be entertaining, it certainly isn't on par with Aldo-McGregor.

    So now we await official word on whether the fight will carry on as planned on July 11. UFC president Dana White, for one, isn't ready to jump to any conclusions.

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    Ryan McKinnell is a contributor for the Yahoo Sports Cagewriter blog. Have a tip? Email him or

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