Tagged in: UFC

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 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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Brunson stops Shahbazyan by third round TKO

The only way to the top of UFC’s middleweight division is through Derek Brunson. On Saturday, he slammed that door shut for a red-hot prospect.

Brunson stopped Edmen Shahbazyan via TKO 26 seconds into the third round in the main event of UFC Fight Night in Las Vegas.

The previously unbeaten Shahbazyan had all the hype coming in as the former training partner of UFC legend Ronda Rousey. But Brunson nearly finished him at the end of the second round and then did so early in the third.

The card took place with no fans at the UFC Apex, a facility owned by the promotion right across from its corporate campus. It was the first event in the United States after a month-long run in July on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, which was dubbed Fight Island.

Brunson said in his post-fight interview that he was disappointed he was a heavy underdog. He said he is 3-0 since going to train under coach Henri Hooft at Sanford MMA — and recalled advice Hooft gave him when he first got to the South Florida gym.

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Brunson was a +290 underdog coming in.

This was the largest upset in a UFC main event since Michael Bisping (+400) knocked out Luke Rockhold to collect the UFC middleweight title at UFC 199 in 2016, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

When the third round started, Brunson started his onslaught again. He came forward with a big left hand, took Shahbazyan down and landed more ground-and-pound. This time, Dean had a quick hook and called it off, awarding Brunson a TKO.

Brunson said his instant thoughts were going home to see his family after being apart for the past four weeks while training. He said he will start thinking about his next opponent with his coaches within a week.

Brunson (21-7) is considered one of the strongest outs in the middleweight division. The North Carolina native is on a three-fight winning streak. Brunson, 36, has lost only to current or former champions since 2016: Israel Adesanya, Robert Whittaker, Anderson Silva and Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza.

Brunson is now tied with three others for the third-most finishes in UFC middleweight history with eight. UFC president Dana White stated he was impressed with Brunson’s performance.

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Holm-Aldana UFC weekend main event called off

The organized main event for the Aug. 1 UFC Fight Night card between Holly Holm and Irene Aldana has been called off.

Aldana took to Instagram on Wednesday to announce that she had to withdraw after testing positive for the coronavirus.

According to ESPN’s Ariel Helwani, the main event will be Derek Brunson vs. Edmen Shahbazyan with Holm vs. Aldana no longer on the card.

Helwani added that the current plan is to rearrange Holm vs. Aldana for Oct. 5 as the main event.

The 32-year-old Aldana has won five of her past six fights and is among the fastest-rising stars in UFC’s female ranks. Holm was set to be arguably the biggest challenge of Aldana’s career despite her recent inconsistency.

Holm is best known for her shocking upset victory over Ronda Rousey in 2015, but she is just 3-5 since the win of her life. She has fallen to big names such as Miesha Tate, Cris Cyborg and Amanda Nunes, but she is coming off a win over Raquel Pennington at UFC 246 in January.

Aldana lost to Pennington last year, but she has bounced back with victories over Vanessa Melo and Ketlen Vieira.

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Overall, Aldana is 12-5 with six wins by way of knockout and three submission victories professionally, while the 38-year-old Holm is 13-5 with eight knockouts. Holm is ranked second in the UFC women’s bantamweight division, and Aldana is sixth.

Whenever the Holm vs. Aldana fight does take place, the winner could be in line for a title shot versus Nunes.

The middleweight bout between Brunson and Shahbazyan will be a classic case of a clash between a grizzled veteran and an up-and-coming youngster.

Brunson, 36, is 20-7 professionally and has faced some of the biggest names in the sport, including Anderson Silva, Israel Adesanya and Lyoto Machida. Meanwhile, the 22-year-old Shahbazyan is a perfect 11-0 with nine of those wins by knockout.

Shahbazyan hasn’t faced the big names Brunson has, but he is 5-0 under the UFC banner and viewed as one of the top prospects in the sport.

If Shahbazyan manages to defeat Brunson, it will be the biggest win of his career and should help him rise significantly from his No. 9 ranking in the middleweight division.

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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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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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