Tukhugov Out, Johnson In Against Artem Lobov At UFC Moncton

Khabib Nurmagomedov made headlines when he declared he’d quit the UFC if they fired his teammate Zubaira Tukhugov for punching Conor McGregor during the UFC 229 brawl. There’s been no announcement regarding Tukhugov’s fate from the UFC or the Nevada State Athletic Commission, but he has been officially taken off the upcoming October 27th UFC Moncton card against McGregor teammate Artem Lobov.

The fight was originally set as a grudge match, as Tukhugov was part of the posse that Khabib surrounded Lobov with leading up to UFC 223 — the incident that led to McGregor jumping on a private jet to New York with 20 teammates and throwing a dolly at a bus. Lobov even went so far as to beg the UFC to keep Tukhugov on the card, saying they shouldn’t let him ‘escape his punishment.’

Now Artem faces an arguably much tougher challenge with Tukhugov’s replacement: Michael Johnson. The match up was announced by ESPN’s Ariel Helwani on Sunday night.

Johnson holds wins over some impressive names like Tony Ferguson, Edson Barboza, and Dustin Poirier. But the TUF veteran has struggled to stay in the win column against the top names in the division, going 2-3 over the past two years with losses to Khabib Nurmagomedov, Justin Gaethje, and Darren Elkins. That last fight against Elkins was in his featherweight debut. In August, Johnson returned and notched his first win at 145 pounds against Andre Fili in a hard fought split decision.

Lobov is on a two fight losing streak with defeats to Cub Swanson and Andre Fili, but hasn’t made it into hte cage since October of 2017. A fight against Alex “Bruce Leeroy” Caceres at UFC 223 was cancelled due to his presence at Conor McGregor’s bus attack, and now his fight with Tukhugov has been switched with weeks to go due to a similar but more serious violation on Tukhugov’s part.

Lobov and Johnson will fight in the co-main of the event headlined by light heavyweight contenders Volkan Oezdemir vs. Anthony Smith.

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For A Fake Fight, Fedor Sure Punched Chael Sonnen Really Hard

Bellator 208 ended on an entertaining note with a gutsy fight from Chael Sonnen against Fedor Emelianenko (watch the highlights here). Few gave the middleweight much of a chance against the heavyweight GOAT, but Sonnen dug deep and kept getting back to his feet and chasing more takedowns after multiple knockdowns and throws.

That aggressive momentum created some unique looking scrambles and breaks, which led to some MMA ‘fans’ on social media to question whether the fight was faked. There was enough rumbling that the press actually asked Bellator head Scott Coker about it during the post-fight press conference.

“Come on, that doesn’t even deserve a response to the people that are saying it,” Coker said (via MMA Fighting). “Listen, Chael got clipped. He told me, ‘Man, he hit me and he hit me really good,’ and he was done. So that’s it. With Chael, the thing with Tito, ‘oh, he let him go’ or something, come on, why would you do that? You’re a professional athlete and you’re a fighter. He wants to continue, he wants to go to the next round of the tournament. That’s just all rubbish.”

“To me, they see Chael, he’s got this character and I think they just feel like with Chael it’s just like this character, so maybe that’s what they’re thinking. But If you had Fedor punching you and kicking you and kneeing you like he was doing today — that was real, that was not fake.”

Chael himself was happy to confirm that statement.

”I don’t know why he hit me so hard,” Sonnen joked, his face covered in bruises. “I don’t know what ol’ Chael ever did to that guy but he sure felt like laying ‘em into me.”

”I would call him explosive with his punches,” Sonnen continued. “There wasn’t a ton of setups, they just came and came hard. And even on the ground, I had some good positions on him and he would just explode, it wasn’t necessarily technique based but it was impressive. He’s an impressive athlete. I don’t think I’ve ever been grounded and pounded like that.”

There were several moments in the fight where Chael seemed close to defeat, but each time he managed to regain position or stand back up. Well, until the final moments of the first round, anyway. As Fedor hit him with withering ground and pound, Sonnen covered up and the ref stopped the fight. According to Chael, that was strategy gone awry.

”The referee warned me, he said if I didn’t move they’d stop the fight,” he said. “I didn’t think he would because they were going into my hands, I thought I was blocking them. I thought I was having a rope-a-dope moment, I thought I was luring him in. That was a bad strategy, as it turns out. That was a bad plan.”

Emelianenko now moves on to the finals of the Bellator Heavyweight Grand Prix, where he’ll face light heavyweight champ Ryan Bader on January 26th in Inglewood, California. As for Chael, maybe he’ll return to 185 pounds, but more likely we imagine he’ll remain a Bellator moneyweight, fighting across three divisions against any opponent that catches his fancy. Not a bad way to close out your career.

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Bellator Double-Header Results: Fedor Is Old, Sonnen Is Old, Everyone Is Getting Old

This weekend brought us not one, but two (!) Bellator events, with Bellator 207 on Friday and Bellator 208 on Saturday. On Friday night, it was all about TUF winner Ryan Bader grinding out a win over TUF washout Matt Mitrione, while Saturday saw legendary Russian heavyweight Fedor Emelianenko move his old bones about the cage while taking on a creaky Chael Sonnen.

I guess you could say the overall theme of the weekend was, “Damn, all these got old.”

I mean, it was inevitable of course. Fedor was the best in the world back when the world was a struggling UFC and a captivating PRIDE FC. That was a long time ago. And Sonnen… Sonnen was relevant when he was giving Anderson Silva the fight of his life.

So yeah, it should’ve been expected, the ugliness that was Sonnen going for any takedown he could while Fedor wailed away. At one point, Sonnen had the Russian’s back, and inexplicably leaped off it and over the top, thereby giving Fedor a clear path to victory. But whatever. Old people do crazy things sometimes.

Fedor Emelianenko Chael Sonnen

Elsewhere on the Bellator 208 card, Chieck Kongo managed to somehow not knee anyone in the nuts and not get kneed in the nuts himself. He also won, knocking out Timothy Johnson in a little over a minute!

Former UFC champ Benson Henderson grappled the hell out of Saad Awad, earning a decision. Meanwhile, former champ Alexander Shlemenko… also old. Also sad.

At Bellator 207, Bader did exactly what he needed to do to avoid getting punched to death by Mitrione: he wrestle-humped him into oblivion.  I guess this means we’ll see Bader take on Fedor in the heavyweight grand prix finals, and Bader will furiously try to impregnate him.

Sergei Kharitonov did his thing against Roy Nelson – his thing being wail away until Nelson covered up and then fell down.

Hey, guess who’s too old and worn to be fighting? Roy Nelson.

The post Bellator Double-Header Results: Fedor Is Old, Sonnen Is Old, Everyone Is Getting Old appeared first on Caged Insider.

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