Tagged in: fight

Derrick Lewis KO’s Curtis Blaydes in biggest UFC main event upset in 5 years

Curtis Blaydes made no apologies about his strategy coming into a huge heavyweight fight with Derrick Lewis. Blaydes was going to use his dominant wrestling early and often. He told anyone who would listen.

Maybe it was a decoy. But Blaydes should have stuck to his original game plan, as Lewis crushed him with an uppercut knockout at 1:26 of the second round in Saturday’s main event of UFC Fight Night in Las Vegas.

Blaydes gained confidence on the feet in the first round and attempted only one takedown, which Lewis stuffed. And Lewis, one of the most dangerous KO artists in the history of MMA, made him pay.

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It was the biggest upset in a UFC main event since Michael Bisping defeated Luke Rockhold at UFC 199 in 2016, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. Lewis was a +350 underdog, per Caesars Sportsbook by William Hill, ESPN’s odds provider. Bisping was +400 against Rockhold five years ago.

With the stoppage, Lewis ties Vitor Belfort with the most knockouts in UFC history (12).

Lewis also is now tied for the second-most wins in UFC heavyweight history (16) with Frank Mir. Andrei Arlovski is the all-time UFC heavyweight victories leader, with 19.

Saturday’s finish came when Blaydes ducked in, trying to close the distance for a clinch or a takedown. Lewis saw it coming and let loose with a massive uppercut. Blaydes’ body shook on impact, and he was unconscious as he fell to the canvas. Lewis followed up on the ground with punches, until referee Herb Dean came in to pull him off.

“That was the only punch I was waiting for the entire fight,” Lewis said. “I knew he was gonna come in. … That’s all I was waiting for. I wasn’t worried about throwing a one-two, a jab or anything.”

The fight was originally arranged for Nov. 28, but Blaydes tested positive for COVID-19, and the contest was pulled one day prior to the event before official weigh-ins.

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Donald Cerrone, Diego Sanchez agree to welterweight fight May 8

Two of the biggest fan favorites in UFC history — and a pair of former teammates — will fight this spring.

UFC veterans Donald Cerrone and Diego Sanchez have verbally agreed to a May 8 fight, sources confirmed to ESPN on Thursday. The bout will be contested at welterweight, sources said.

While both fighters’ respective teams have agreed, no contracts have been signed and the fight has not yet been officially declared. Sanchez wrote Thursday on Twitter that the bout versus Cerrone will be his “UFC finale.”

Sanchez and Cerrone were training partners for many years at the storied JacksonWink MMA gym in Albuquerque, New Mexico, but had a falling out in 2018 when Cerrone left the team. Sanchez has since left JacksonWink MMA, as well.

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Cerrone (36-15, 2 NC) is a surefire future UFC Hall of Famer and one of the best fighters of all time who has not held a UFC title.

“Cowboy” owns the most victories in UFC history (23), the most finishes in UFC history (16) and the most postfight bonuses in promotion history (18). He is tied for the most UFC fights with Jim Miller (36).

Cerrone, 36, is winless in five consecutive and trying to pick up his first victory since May 2019.

Sanchez (30-13) in 2005 was the first-ever tournament winner on “The Ultimate Fighter” reality show, which is credited with helping take the UFC to the next level in terms of popularity. His 2009 fight with Clay Guida was inducted in the UFC Hall of Fame’s fight wing in 2019.

Sanchez, 39, is tied for the second-most Fight of the Night bonuses in UFC history (7). The New Mexico native is coming off a loss to Jake Matthews at UFC 253 in September but has won three of his past five fights. MMA Fighting was first to report the agreement for the fight.

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Promoter — Deal done for Anthony Joshua-Tyson Fury heavyweight title fight

Anthony Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn stated a deal for the world heavyweight champion to meet Tyson Fury in an undisputed world heavyweight title fight this year is all but done, with a venue in the Middle East a front-runner to host it.

Joshua defeated Bulgarian Kubrat Pulev last month to keep his IBF, WBO and WBA titles to set up the prospect of a mouth-watering clash with fellow Briton Fury who holds the WBC belt.

“The deal is done, really — without being signed,” Hearn told the Times.

“The financial elements of the deal are done. We’re talking through the broadcast situation, the only thing really now is to paper it. “And when you paper a deal like that, it does go back and forwards 15 times before every single letter is approved on the document.”

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Fury has not fought since beating American Deontay Wilder in their Las Vegas rematch in February to claim the WBC crown.

Fury and Wilder had a rematch clause in their contract but they couldn’t make the fight.

Hearn said Joshua and Fury would face off in two fights — with the first likely to be in the Middle East later this year — and he hoped to bring the rematch back to Britain.

“The Middle East will be aggressive and will be front-runners in this. To stage this fight, you need significant government support. You need someone who is staging this fight as a statement for their country,” Hearn added.

“I’d like it [the rematch] to be [in the United Kingdom]. Where? Millennium Stadium.”

Fury’s American promoter Bob Arum has stated before that he is “95 per cent confident the fight happens”. Arum said: “I don’t want to make a deadline, but I just can report that everything so far has been going splendidly, and we hope to have a signed document within the next couple of weeks.

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Conor McGregor-Dustin Poirier UFC 257 bout to be on Fight Island Jan. 23

The UFC is formally headed back to Fight Island for its first slate of events in 2021, and it includes the return of former two-weight champion Conor McGregor at UFC 257.

UFC president Dana White informed on Tuesday that McGregor’s nontitle lightweight fight versus Dustin Poirier on Jan. 23 will take place on Yas Island, Abu Dhabi. The pay-per-view-event will cap off a series of three events in seven days: UFC Fight Night events on Jan. 16 and Jan. 20, followed by UFC 257.

A previously announced featherweight fight between former champion Max Holloway (21-6) and Calvin Kattar (22-4) will headline the card on Jan. 16. According to White, a welterweight matchup featuring 2020 breakout star Khamzat Chimaev (9-0) and title contender Leon Edwards (18-3) will serve as the main event on Jan. 20.

Per sources, the UFC is also finalizing a new welterweight matchup between Michael Chiesa (16-4) and Neil Magny (24-7) for the Jan. 20 event. Chiesa or Magny would presumably serve as a potential backup option for the main event, should anything happen to that 170-pound fight.

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Mike Jackson (1-1) will also return to action on the Jan. 20 card in a 170-pound fight versus Dean Barry (3-1), who will be making his UFC debut, per sources. This will mark Jackson’s first fight since his June 2018 victory over former WWE star CM Punk at UFC 225 in Chicago.

This will mark the UFC’s third trip to Abu Dhabi since the promotion’s operations were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in March. The UFC has held its events exclusively in either Yas Island or Las Vegas since mid-May.

Previously, events in Yas Island have taken place without fans inside Flash Forum; however, there has been discussion around moving events to Etihad Arena and including fans. Those details are not yet completed.

This will also mark the second year in a row that McGregor (22-4) headlines the UFC’s first pay-per-view event of the year. He headlined UFC 246 in January 2020, and knocked out Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone in just 40 seconds.

That would turn out to be McGregor’s only appearance of 2020. He has fought only twice since capturing the 155-pound title in 2016.

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Fury says he may not face Wilder in next fight

WBC world heavyweight champion Tyson Fury says he’s “moved on” from confronting Deontay Wilder for a third time.

“I was looking forward to smashing Wilder again. A quick and easy fight,” Fury told The Athletic. “But Wilder and his team were messing around with the date. They don’t really want to fight the lineal heavyweight champion. They know how it ends. The world knows how it will end: with Wilder on his ass again.”

Fury was originally expected to face Wilder in a third encounter between the pair at Allegiant Stadium, the home of the NFL’s Las Vegas Raiders, on Dec. 19.

But with no crowd due to restrictions for the coronavirus pandemic, promoters and broadcasters have yet to inform plans for the trilogy fight.

Fury also stated Wilder’s side kept moving back the date. “Then they asked me if I would agree to push it to December. I agreed to Dec. 19,” Fury said. “Then they tried to change the date again into next year. I’ve been training. I’m ready. When they tried moving off Dec. 19 and pushing to next year, enough was enough. I’ve moved on.”

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Fury (30-0-1, 21 KOs), 32, from Manchester, England, wants to box again this year after stopping Wilder in seven rounds in February.

Wilder (41-1-1, 40 KOs), 34, from Alabama and who drew with Fury in December 2018 in their first fight, is contractually entitled to a rematch, but Warren says if a third fight cannot be prepared with Fury in December, then the Englishman will fight someone else.

One option for Fury would be to box an alternative opponent — and possibly without the titles on the line — at the Royal Albert Hall in London on Dec. 5, when Warren will stage a show featuring English light heavyweight Anthony Yarde and Lyndon Arthur.

If Fury passes on Wilder, it opens up the opportunity of a world title unification fight in 2021 versus English rival Anthony Joshua, the WBA-IBF-WBO world champion, who will defend his titles against Bulgaria’s Kubrat Pulev on Dec. 12.

Warren also said rival world junior welterweight champions Josh Taylor (WBA-IBF) of Scotland and Jose Ramirez (WBC-WBO) of the United States will face each other next. Ramirez’s WBO mandatory challenger, Jack Catterall, has agreed to wait to face the winner of Taylor-Ramirez, according to Warren.

And American Jamel Herring will defend his WBO world junior lightweight title versus Northern Ireland’s Carl Frampton, a former world champion at featherweight and junior featherweight, before the end of the year, according to the British promoter.

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Anderson Silva says Uriah Hall could be final opponent

All signs point to Anderson Silva making his final walk to the octagon on Halloween.

Silva (34-10 MMA, 17-6 UFC) will face Uriah Hall in a the main event of UFC’s Oct. 31 fight card, which is expected to take place at Yas Island in Abu Dhabi.

It’ll have been 17 months since the former longtime UFC middleweight champion participated by the time he enters the octagon for what he projects could be his swan song from the sport. UFC president Dana White his expressed multiple times that “The Spider” will retire after this bout, win or lose.

Silva would not 100 percent commit, but at 45, he’s aware this could be the last one. “Maybe this is my last fight,” Silva told ESPN.

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“That’s why I’m training hard everyday and do my best in my training. My whole team came to help me and everybody stayed in quarantine to start training, and I’m very excited because I think this is my last performance inside the cage for my fans, and we’ll see.”

Although Silva says a fairytale ending would be for him to recollect the 185-pound title that he once defended 10 successive times, he knows that won’t be the case.

But in Hall (15-9 MMA, 8-7 UFC), he sees the perfect dancing partner that has him motivated to potentially cap off his storied career in special fashion.

“The good story is Anderson Silva fights again for the belt and win and done, but that’s in the script,” Silva said.

“You can’t do this in real life, and I’m excited to continue working, continue doing something special and this fight helped me to create something huge inside my mind, for my fans, for legacy. Especially because I have a story with the UFC. I have a great story inside the cage, in the UFC too.”

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Edgar defies critics, edges Munhoz by decision

Frankie Edgar is shopworn. He has been in too many wars, and he’s too old. Moving down to bantamweight 15 years into his career? A last-gasp move.

Those were some of the storylines coming into the UFC Fight Night main event Saturday night in Las Vegas. Like he has so many times before, Edgar hushed the doubters.

Edgar defeated Pedro Munhoz by split decision (48-47, 46-49, 48-47) in his bantamweight (135 pounds) debut. Edgar, 38, is the former UFC lightweight (155 pounds) champion and was a perennial featherweight (145) contender. Now he has knocked off a top-flight bantamweight.

“We also recognize the world class facilities at Grove and confirm that there are no plans to relocate,” he added. Edgar, who became the 11th fighter in modern UFC history to collect in three divisions, addressed his critics in his postfight interview.

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“I proved all them wrong,” said Edgar, who cashed as a +235 underdog, according to the Caesars Sportsbook. “I still got some fight in this tank, and we’re gonna make a run at [135].”

The card took place in front of no fans at the UFC Apex, a facility owned by the promotion across the street from its corporate campus. Coming in, ESPN had Munhoz ranked No. 7 among MMA bantamweights. Edgar is a surefire future UFC Hall of Famer.

Edgar vs. Munhoz was awarded Fight of the Night by the UFC, earning both men bonuses of $50,000. The two combined for the most significant strikes landed in UFC bantamweight history (301), with Munhoz landing 166 and Edgar landing 135.

The fight was extremely close and could have gone either way. Edgar showed from the outset that he was just as fast, sharp and quick at bantamweight as he was two weight classes above. But Munhoz carries big power and landed hard right hands in the first round.

Judges Derek Cleary and Eric Colon scored the fight for Edgar. Judge Sal D’Amato had it for Munhoz. Cleary gave Edgar the second, third and fifth rounds, while Colon gave him the first, second and fifth. D’Amato had Munhoz winning all but the second round.

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UFC sets Adesanya-Costa for Sept. 19

UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya will face Paulo Costa at UFC 253, per Combate.

Ariel Helwani of ESPN confirmed the report and said that a location is to be determined for the fight, which is slated for Sept. 19.

Adesanya holds a perfect 19-0 record (8-0 UFC). Fourteen of his victories have come via knockout. His most recent fight occurred at UFC 248 in March versus Yoel Romero, which ended with a unanimous-decision win.

The fourth-ranked pound-for-pound fighter in UFC’s rankings will take on the No. 2 middleweight contender in Costa, who is also undefeated (13-0) and coming off a unanimous-decision victory over Romero.

Mike Bohn of MMA Junkie confirmed that both fighters’ camps have agreed to a fight.

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The UFC 253 card will include fights between Mackenzie Dern and Randa Markos, Hakeem Dawodu and Zubaira Tukhugov and Shamil Abdurakhimov vs. Ciryl Gane, per Bohn.

But the main event should have plenty of fireworks, and the lead-in might be epic. As Helwani noted, the two have exchanged a “war of words” since last year.

Of note, Costa’s manager, Wallid Ismail, told Cole Shelton of BJPenn.com that Adesanya had rejected fights versus Costa for UFC 251 and 252.

“UFC offered Adesanya to fight on July 11 and August 15 and Adesanya declined both times,” Ismail said. His coach claims Adesanya hasn’t gotten an offer which is not true. We have proof.”

The two fighters will be facing off in two months, however, as one of the more anticipated MMA matchups of the year is set to take place. The fight will mark just the second time in UFC history that two undefeated males fight for an undisputed title.

The first time was back in 2008 when champion Rashad Evans defended the light heavyweight title against Lyoto Machida at UFC 98.

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Usman defeats Masvidal to retain belt

Kamaru Usman pushed Jorge Masvidal up against the cage. He struck Masvidal with his shoulder, stomped Masvidal’s feet and dug in with hard punches to the body.

With an opponent coming in on a week’s notice, Usman’s strategy was clear: grind and wear Masvidal out. And it worked entirely.

Usman overpowered Masvidal via unanimous decision (50-45, 50-45, 49-46) in the main event of UFC 251 on Sunday morning in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. With the win, Usman retained his UFC welterweight title.

Usman vs. Masvidal came together only in the past eight days. Usman’s scheduled opponent, Gilbert Burns, tested positive for the coronavirus on July 3, just hours before the UFC charter was set to leave Las Vegas for Abu Dhabi.

Over the Fourth of July holiday weekend, the UFC was able to come to terms with Masvidal — who balked at the promotion’s initial offer for the fight six weeks ago — to fight for the 170-pound title as a late replacement.

“‘[Masvidal] is the biggest, baddest dude out there right now,” Usman told UFC play-by-play announcer Jon Anik after the fight. “I had to switch gears and prepare for him on a week’s notice. … I had to make a mental shift. I trained for Gilbert. I had a completely different game plan.”

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The addition of Masvidal, one of the UFC’s biggest stars, actually made the fight more highly anticipated. Masvidal and Usman had been feuding since a verbal altercation on Super Bowl radio row back in February.

Usman’s 12 consecutive victories ties lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov for the longest active winning streak in the UFC. That figure also ties Georges St-Pierre for the longest winning streak in UFC welterweight history.

Usman (17-1) has never lost in the UFC.

The Nigerian-born Florida resident has not lost since his second pro bout, in 2013. Usman, 33, was coming off a fifth-round TKO over Colby Covington at UFC 245 in December, the latest UFC title-fight finish ever. This was Usman’s second title defense.

Masvidal (35-14) stopped Darren Till, Ben Askren and Nate Diaz within an eight-month span last year, making him one of the hottest pugilists on the UFC roster. The 5-second KO of Askren was the quickest in UFC history.

Masvidal, a 35-year-old Miami native, had 48 career fights coming in, which was the second-highest total ever for a fighter competing in his or her first UFC title bout.

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WBC orders Luke Campbell-Ryan Garcia fight for interim lightweight title

The WBC has ordered a fight between Luke Campbell and Ryan Garcia for the organization’s interim lightweight title.

This occasion became available after the WBC’s top-rated lightweight, Javier Fortuna, opted to face Jorge Linares on Aug. 28. Campbell and Garcia are ranked second and third by the WBC, respectively.

“I’m finally getting to fight a southpaw my favorite fighters to fight! Bring it on luke Campbell,” Garcia wrote on Twitter. The entire WBC lightweight title scenario is a bit of a quagmire. The WBC “franchise” champion is Vasiliy Lomachenko, the organization’s regular champion is Devin Haney, and Fortuna-Linares will be contested for the WBC’s “Diamond” title.

It’s not clear just how this will ultimately be cleared up, or if the winner of Campbell-Garcia will face any of the other champions in the foreseeable future.

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While it’s an enticing matchup on paper, it doesn’t necessarily mean that this fight is destined to happen.

Both sides must come to an agreement, and recently Garcia (20-0, 17 KOs) and his promotional company, Golden Boy Promotions, have been at odds. The popular young prizefighter was arranged to kick off Golden Boy’s return to action on July 4, but was unable to come to terms.

It has become a very public spat between the two parties, who are meeting later this week, according to Eric Gomez, the president of Golden Boy Promotions.

“We just got the letter today [from the WBC], so we’re in the process of talking to Ryan,” Gomez said. “We’re going to talk to his team, we’re going to see what he wants to do.

“That’s one of the guys he’s said repeatedly that he wants to fight,” Gomez said regarding Campbell.

First and foremost, it seems as though the relationship between Garcia and Golden Boy has to be mended. “We’re meeting with team Ryan later this week, most likely Friday,” Gomez said.

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