Tagged in: MMA

Adesanya still champ with TKO of Costa

Israel Adesanya once again proved his power in the middleweight division with a second-round TKO victory over Paulo Costa in the main event of UFC 253 on Saturday.

The champion was in the driver’s seat for the first round. Costa showed some patience in waiting to commit to an attack but Adesanya took advantage of that wait-and-see approach by peppering him with leg kicks. 

Costa was more interested in goading Adesanya into throwing more than actually throwing much himself. The second round featured a more aggressive Adesanya and that was all kinds of bad news for the Eraser.

The Last Stylebender opened up, continued to mercilessly attack the lead leg while also throwing head kicks. When he targeted the head with punches Costa quickly buckled and the champion added another successful title defense to his name. 

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It was as baffling a presentation for Paulo Costa as it was a great performance for Adesanya.

The champion was certainly dominant but Costa’s lack of activity and inability to mount any offense had analysts wondering what happened to the Borrachina that mowed over each of his opponents to this point. 

Adesanya has already made quick work of a loaded middleweight division. His list of victories includes Anderson Silva (albeit an older version of The Spider), Robert Whittaker and Yoel Romero. There are some highly ranked contenders out there, but only one has the champion’s eye right now.

“There’s one more I’m really interested in and that’s Jared Cannonier,” Adesanya stated, per Thomas Gerbasi of UFC.com. Cannonier has put together three consecutive wins by TKO and has a fight calendared with former champion Whittaker in October.

Adesanya will be watching that matchup very carefully, but at this point, it’s hard to find someone in the division he won’t be favored against.

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Cris Cyborg to make 1st defense of Bellator title vs. Arlene Blencowe

Cris Cyborg is back, and her first Bellator title defense will ring in the promotion’s debut on a new network.

Cyborg will put her Bellator women’s featherweight title on the line versus Arlene Blencowe on Oct. 15 at Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Connecticut, promotion officials revealed Friday.

The card will air in a Thursday night time slot on CBS Sports Network. Bellator had been on Paramount Network (formerly Spike TV) since 2013.

Cyborg (22-2, 1 NC), ESPN’s No. 3-ranked pound-for-pound female fighter in the world, won the Bellator title in her last outing, stopping Julia Budd by fourth-round TKO in January.

The Brazilian knockout artist has won two consecutives after losing the UFC women’s featherweight title to Amanda Nunes at UFC 232 in December 2018. Cyborg, 35, departed the UFC after her contract expired last year. She is one of the most fearsome women’s MMA fighters of all time with 18 KO/TKO finishes in 22 pro victories.

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Blencowe (13-7) has won three straight and is coming off a unanimous decision win over UFC veteran Leslie Smith last November. The Australia native has just two MMA losses in the past five years, both to Budd. Blencowe, a 37-year-old boxing veteran, has seven KO/TKOs in 13 pro wins.

Bellator president Scott Coker also revealed Friday the main event for a card Oct. 29 at Mohegan Sun. Bellator welterweight champion Douglas Lima will move up to middleweight to fight Gegard Mousasi for the vacant middleweight title.

Lima (32-7) has won three straight and is a three-time Bellator welterweight champion. The 32-year-old Brazilian is tied for the most knockouts in Bellator history (9).

Mousasi (46-7-2) has won nine of his past 10, including five straight in the UFC before he left as a free agent in 2017. The 35-year-old Netherlands resident, a former Strikeforce and Dream champion, has been a perennial contender in multiple divisions for more than a decade.

In addition, Coker announced that a welterweight bout between Paul Daley and Derek Anderson will headline an Oct. 1 in Milan, Italy.

Bellator’s show in Paris on Oct. 10 — the first major MMA event in France since the country legalized the sport earlier this year — will be acceptable to have up to 5,000 fans in attendance. Michael Page vs. Ross Houston and Frenchman Cheick Kongo vs. Tim Johnson will be on the Paris card.

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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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UFC Edgar vs Munhoz preview

Frankie Edgar believes his edge in high-level experience will make the difference on Saturday versus Pedro Munhoz in the main event of UFC Fight Night: Munhoz vs. Edgar. The future Hall of Famer gets an opportunity to prove it when he makes his bantamweight debut versus the division’s fifth-ranked contender.

Their fight headlines the marquee at the Apex facility in Las Vegas, with the main UFC Fight Night card slated for 8:30 p.m. ET. Edgar, the former lightweight champion, remains confident he has another title run left in him at UFC on ESPN.

However, the motivated Munhoz seeks a victory to bolster the pursuit of his first title. Munhoz is a -240 favorite (risk $240 to win $100), while Edgar is a +200 underdog in the latest Edgar vs. Munhoz odds from William Hill.

The 33-year-old Munhoz (18-4-1) has been considered a potential title-contender since his UFC debut in February 2014.

All four of his UFC losses have come against fighters who are still ranked, with three of them in the top 10. 

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The Brazil-born Californian had perhaps the biggest win of his career when he knocked out former titleholder and third-ranked Cody Garbrandt in March of last year. But he was outclassed three months later by the second-ranked Sterling, who now seems to be in line for a title fight versus new champion Petr Yan.

Edgar (23-8-1) is widely regarded as a UFC legend who has been involved in numerous memorable bouts. He won the lightweight championship in 2010 versus fellow icon B.J. Penn and made three successful defenses before dropping a pair of bouts against Benson Henderson, who is now in Bellator.

But the New Jersey native is just 1-3 in his last four appearances, with the lone victory coming against fading former contender Cub Swanson. He was stopped by Chan Sung Jung in the first round of their December bout and also suffered a first-round knockout loss in 2018 against Brian Ortega, who is ranked No. 2 at featherweight.

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Nevada extends suspensions of 4 UFC fighters

Four UFC fighters had temporary suspensions extended Wednesday by the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC).

Jamahal Hill, Tim Elliott, Luis Pena and Marc-Andre Barriault failed in-competition drug tests in relation to their last fights in Nevada. Upon the results coming back, the four fighters were temporarily suspended.

On Wednesday, the commission extended those suspensions at its monthly meeting. The suspensions will be in effect until the athletes can have disciplinary hearings when the length of the suspensions and any other discipline — like fines — will be determined.

Hill, Elliott and Peña tested positive for cannabis. Barriault tested positive for the banned substance ostarine, a performance-enhancer in the family of selective androgen receptor modulators (SARMs). It is projected that the four fighters will have disciplinary hearings at the NSAC meeting next month.

The most recent NSAC suspensions for marijuana have been for nine months. Cannabis is prohibited in-competition by the NSAC over a threshold of 150 ng/ml.

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The commission can suspend a fighter for ostarine use anywhere between nine months and two years.

Barriault overpowered Oskar Piechota via second-round TKO at UFC Fight Night: Blaydes vs. Volkov on June 20. With his failed drug test, Barriault is facing that victory being overturned to a no contest.

Hill, an unbeaten light heavyweight prospect, defeated Klidson Abreu by first-round TKO at UFC Fight Night: Woodley vs. Burns on May 30. Peña fell to Khama Worthy by third-round submission at UFC Fight Night: Poirier vs. Hooker on June 27. All the bouts took place at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas.

The four UFC fighters could also face discipline from USADA, the UFC’s anti-doping partner.

Also Wednesday, the NSAC came to an adjudication agreement with PFL fighter Glaico Franca, suspending him for nine months and fining him $3,500 for failing a drug test for the anabolic steroid Stanozolol last October in relation to his PFL playoff fight with David Michaud.

Franca’s suspension already expired July 12. The adjudication agreement delay was due to Franca having issues having his dietary supplements tested in his native Brazil and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

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Usman vs Masvidal agree to UFC 251

It will still take clearing some legitimate hurdles to reach the finish line, but according to ESPN’s Ariel Helwani, UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman and Jorge Masvidal have completed negotiations and agreed to terms for a last-minute bout to serve as the main event of Saturday’s UFC 251 card in Abu Dhabi. 

With the new UFC 251 main event now essentially being cleared on paper, both warriors will undergo COVID-19 testing in Las Vegas and immediately enter quarantine while awaiting the results. Should Usman and Masvidal both test negative, then they will be en route to Abu Dhabi as soon as possible from there. With 48 career fights under his belt, Masvidal would serve as the fighter with the most MMA appearances before receiving his first title shot. 

Shortly after the news of the agreement broke, UFC president Dana White posted a hype video to Twitter which seemingly confirmed that he was able to secure the new blockbuster main event. 

The inaugural Fight Island card saw its original headliner fall apart Saturday when top contender Gilbert Burns pulled out of a shot at Usman’s title after testing positive for COVID-19.

Masvidal, the ceremonial BMF champion, was the opponent UFC initially targeted for Usman before negotiations went sideways and Masvidal started a public protest over fighter pay. 

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Masvidal (35-13) spent his July 4th holiday undergoing the first of what would be multiple coronavirus tests while negotiating the fight, per photos released on social media by his manager, Malki Kawa.

The 35-year-old brawler rose from journeyman status in 2019 with a trio of stoppage victories which earned him global fame and Fighter of the Year honors. 

Among the major hurdles facing the proposed fight are the logistics of how the fighters would safely arrive in the United Arab Emirates amid quarantine protocols in such a last-minute scenario.

Usman (16-1) did not board a chartered UFC flight which carried fighters, trainers, media and promotional personnel upon hearing the news of Burns (19-3) pulling out. 

In the event the fight does not take place, the original co-main event of featherweight champion Alexaner Volkanovski taking on former titleholder Max Holloway in a rematch would take top billing. The card also contains a vacant bantamweight title fight between Petr Yan and former featherweight king Jose Aldo. 

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Jones teases multiyear holdout, expects UFC deal

UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones said if he needs to sit out several years to stand up for what he considers is right, it’s something he will be remembered for more than his fighting. But he is optimistic the UFC ultimately will meet him halfway in negotiations.

Jones has said he would be willing to vacate his belt after talks for a superfight with heavyweight knockout artist Francis Ngannou fell through. Jones and fellow UFC superstar Jorge Masvidal are waging social media battles with the UFC and promotion president Dana White to get more money and rise revenue sharing among fighters.

“I’m not asking for anything outrageous, and I know we’re in a pandemic, and I know when you’re a multimillionaire and you’re asking for more, it makes you seem like this greedy person,” Jones said on Steve-O’s “Wild Ride” podcast. “I’m very aware of all of this, but I’m also very aware that I have the voice and the platform to make difference.

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“Most of the guys who are doing the absolute worst are not in the position that they can say publicly, ‘I have a second job, I’m borrowing money from my parents.’ I know so many fighters who are living in the Jackson Wink MMA gym because they can’t afford to have their own apartment, and they’re UFC fighters. So this is sad.

“And if I have to have a bad relationship with Dana, sit out for two years, three years, to bring light to what’s happening, then these are the things people remember you for more than winning belts. I stood for the younger fighters.”

White, who has described Jones as the greatest MMA fighter of all time, recently stated Jones can fight whenever he wants.

He said Jones and Masvidal both signed new contracts within the past year.

“Being the greatest of all time doesn’t mean you get $30 million. It’s being able to sell,” said White, who added that UFC walked Jones through the recent numbers on his fights. “[Jones] said, ‘I don’t give a f— what the numbers are. I want what I want.’

“That’s not how life works.” Jones said he wished he had a better relationship with White.

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Cejudo retired, bantamweight title vacant

Earlier this month at UFC 249, Henry Cejudo shocked the world when he retired at the age of 33. The news came right after he made his first bantamweight title defense by earning a TKO victory over former longtime champ Dominick Cruz.

After the stunning news, many people doubted his retirement, but now his retirement seems to be the real thing as the UFC removed Cejudo’s name from the title page and the official rankings on the UFC website.

Once the world noticed the removal of Cejudo’s name, ESPN confirmed that Cejudo is now considered retired by promotion officials and therefore, the UFC bantamweight title is now vacant.

While the UFC views Cejudo as retired, there is now word at this time as to whether or not Cejudo has removed himself from the USADS drug-testing pool.

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Cejudo is one of the most successful combat athletes of all time.

In 2008, he won an Olympic gold medal in wrestling and following his wrestling career, he started competing in mixed martial arts, where he went on to conquer the UFC’s flyweight and bantamweight championships. He also is one of four people in UFC history to hold two titles in two different weight classes at the same time.

At the time of his retirement announcement, Cejudo was considered to be in the prime of his career. He was on a six fight undefeated streak and his last loss came in 2016. He also ended Demetrious Johnson’s reign as flyweight champion, which snapped Johnson’s UFC record of 11 title defenses.

The UFC has not officially announced any further plans regarding the vacant bantamweight title. UFC president Dana White said after UFC 249 that Petr Yan would be one of the two men that will compete for the belt at 135-pounds. Yan was planned to fight Marlon Moraes in June, but the travel ban from the global coronavirus pandemic as affected that fight.

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Teixeira dominant in fifth-round TKO of Smith

One day, Glover Teixeira will cease to be one of the world’s best light heavyweight MMA fighters. That day was not Wednesday.

Eighteen years after his pro debut, Teixeira proved his caliber yet again in the main event of UFC Jacksonville, beating Anthony Smith via TKO at 1 minute, 4 seconds of the fifth round. Teixeira, at 40 years old and six years after his most recent title shot, has won four straight fights.

“It’s not how hard you hit,” Teixeira told Daniel Cormier in the postfight interview. “It’s how hard you get hit and keep coming forward.”

Teixeira laid plenty of hard hits on Smith, who was transported to a hospital and told ESPN’s Ariel Helwani afterward that he suffered a broken nose and a broken orbital bone and had two of his teeth knocked out, including one of his front teeth. The card took place at an empty VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida.

It was the second UFC event in four days, following UFC 249 on Saturday at the same venue. The promotion caps its busy eight-day stretch with another show from VyStar on Saturday. Before last weekend, UFC had not run an event since March 14 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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Smith vs. Teixeira was supposed to headline a UFC card on April 25 in Lincoln, Nebraska, before the schedule was reshuffled.

Smith had a strong first two rounds Wednesday, using a very good jab and right hand, which found its home over and over. Teixeira’s left eye began to swell.

But in the third, Teixeira turned the tide. He landed a big combination with a head kick against the cage and a monstrous uppercut seconds later. A Teixeira uppercut put Smith down. The bout could have been stopped there, but referee Jason Herzog let it continue and Smith survived the rest of the round.

Teixeira got Smith down in the fifth, slipped into mount and rained down huge punches until Herzog stopped the fight. It was only the second fifth-round TKO in UFC light heavyweight history. The other featured Alexander Gustafsson stopping Teixeira in the final round of their 2017 bout.

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Gaethje batters Ferguson to win UFC interim title

Two months ago, Justin Gaethje was training and waiting for the UFC to find his next rival.

On Saturday night, after accepting a short notice opportunity to compete in the UFC 249 main event, he stopped Tony Ferguson by TKO in the fifth round to become interim lightweight champion, setting up an inevitable showdown with Khabib Nurmagomedov later this year.

It was a jaw-dropping show, as Gaethje punished Ferguson round after round before finally putting him away with less than two minutes remaining in the combat.

“I knew I was a killer stepping in here,” Gaethje said about his performance. “No better drug on Earth. Adrenaline coursing through my veins.”

Following two consecutive losses, Gaethje started making noticeable changes to his strategy and approach to fighting without sacrificing any of his highlight-reel finishes.

It was more of the same at UFC 249 as he attacked Ferguson with devastating power behind his punches while refusing to engage in the wild exchanges that cost him so dearly in many past fights.

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“I had to lose to change,” Gaethje stated. “Can’t fix what’s not broken. I was getting hit too much, and I was having too much fun. At this level you absolutely cannot do that.”

While Ferguson did manage to put Gaethje down briefly at the end of the second round with a staggering uppercut, the former Ultimate Fighter winner failed to mount much offense over 25 minutes. He did display incredible durability, though, as he absorbed punches that would have likely knocked out every other lightweight on the roster.

Gaethje’s controlled aggression continued to add to his significant strike total as he cut up Ferguson’s face and left him a bloody mess by the fifth round. It was a stiff jab late in the fight that rattled Ferguson for the final time, and as he wobbled backwards toward the cage shaking his head, that forced referee Herb Dean to stop the fight.

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