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Predictions! Bellator ‘Newcastle’ Main Card Preview, Quick Picks

Patricky Pitbull

Bellator Newcastle: “Pitbull vs. Scope” airs tomorrow afternoon (Sat., Feb. 9, 2019) from Metro Radio Arena in Newcastle upon Tyne, England via Bellator.com. The main event will see a ferocious battle between two Lightweight contenders gunning for a shot at the crown Michael Chandler wears once again.

Let’s break it down:

155 lbs.: Patricky “Pitbull” Freire (20-8) vs. Ryan Scope (10-1)

When you make a list of the most feared fighters in Bellator’s Lightweight division, Patricky Freire’s name should be at or near the top. Thirteen of 20 wins (65 percent) have come via knockout, or looked at another way, he’s finished one out of every two opponents he has faced to date. A winning percentage that high in mixed martial arts (MMA) can only mean one thing — prodigious punching power. After his last highlight-reel finish he called out Brent Primus, but one can only assume he’d call out Chandler if he scores another big win in Newcastle.

The Sunderland Fight Pit prospect unapologetically called “Big Baby” would love to be a road block to Freire’s title shot. Ryan Scope started out his career with three straight rear naked choke wins, then showed off the power of his own hands by finishing four of his next six opponents. Unfortunately it’s hard to get a read on whether or not Scope could be a flash in the pan due to long periods of inactivity — two years off from 2014-2016 and only two fights from 2017 to the present day. He also took his first professional loss via (ironically) a rear naked choke to unheralded fighter Lewis Long (16-5), who also has a date on this card with “Judo” Jim Wallhead.

Fighting at home will certainly motivate Scope to be at his best against Freire, and he may have a small physical advantage at 5’10” to Freire’s 5’7” (Scope’s reach has not been disclosed before press time). Advantages on paper tend to diminish when you fight a “Pitbull” though, which is what makes Patricio and Patricky’s nickname so apt. They are relentlessly determined in every bout and always turn in a performance bigger than they are. While the younger Patricio has had more frequent and more lasting success at the highest levels, one can only assume Patricky could finally earn his shot too in this fight.

Final prediction: Patricky Freire wins via second round technical knockout

155 lbs.: Aaron Chalmers (4-0) vs. Corey Browning (3-1)

If you remember the name Aaron Chalmers it’s because we’ve covered the reality show star turned-professional fighter before. After making quick work of a sub-par opponent at Bellator 200, it’s now time to Chalmers to step up and face some stiffer competition to prove he really belongs in the big leagues. I’m not sure Corey Browning is that man, though. Let’s all be honest that Browning was brought in to be fed to “Baby Slice” at Bellator 207 yet Browning turned the tables and submitted him when he gassed out. That win earned him this return fight yet I can’t imagine they’re flying him in from Tennessee just to do the same thing to another up-and-comer they are trying to make into a star.

Final prediction: Aaron Chalmers wins via first round knockout

185 lbs.: Fabian Edwards (5-0) vs. Lee Chadwick (24-13-1)

In what is sure to be a crowd pleasing affair for Newcastle attendees, local stars Fabian Edwards (hailing from Birmingham) and Lee Chadwick (hailing from Liverpool) will put on a show at Middleweight. Chadwick owns an obvious experience advantage and comes in with a three fight win streak that includes two submissions. He’s also the elder fighter at 33, which may tip a small edge to the undefeated Edwards, young and hungry at only 25 years old. Although he hasn’t gotten as much press for it as Tywan Claxton did, Edwards also won his Bellator debut via flying knee, and has diversified his attack with two knockouts and two submissions since. Call it a hunch but I think Chadwick will get more than he bargained for. He has been submitted five times and to me that’s his Achilles heel.

Final prediction: Fabian Edwards taps out Lee Chadwick with a first round rear-naked choke

155 lbs.: Terry Brazier (10-1) vs. Chris Bungard (11-4)

This is another bout for the local boys to shine with Brazier hailing from London and Bungard hailing from Coatbridge, Scotland. Bungard’s record seems more shaky from the word go. Although he’s won four of his last five, he lost to “Freakshow” Colin Fletcher in that span, who I find to be a very middling Lightweight who losses to almost every decent man he faces — Norman Parke, Mike Ricci, Andre Winner, Alex Lohore, et cetera. Fletcher is your basic “gatekeeper” fighter and if Bungard couldn’t even beat him that’s troubling. Meanwhile Brazier has racked up nine straight wins dating back to 2015 and has a very well rounded game with four knockouts, two submissions and four decisions. Do I really need to say anything else?

Final prediction: “The Dominator” Terry Brazier finishes Chris Bungard in round one

That’s a wrap!

MMAmania.com will deliver coverage of Bellator “Newcastle” tomorrow with a main card start time of 5 p.m. ET on Bellator.com (“Prelims” undercard begins at 3 p.m. ET). To check out the latest Bellator MMA-related news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive news archive right here.

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Predictions! Bellator 214 Main Card Preview, Quick Picks

Fedor Emelianenko

Bellator 214: “Fedor vs. Bader” airs tomorrow night (Sat., Jan. 26, 2019) from The Forum in Inglewood, Calif., featuring a Paramount Network-televised (also on DAZN) main event that will see the mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion crown its first new Heavyweight champion since Vitaly Minakov was stripped in 2016 (details) with the conclusion of a year-long Heavyweight Grand Prix.

Let’s break it down:

265 lbs.: Fedor Emelianenko (38-5, 1 NC) vs. Ryan Bader (26-5)

Sports fans and MMA pundits alike branded Fedor the “G.O.A.T.” many years ago when he had nearly a decade of dominance, sporting a Heavyweight win streak from 2001-09 that saw him beat Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (twice), Mark Coleman (twice), Mirko Cro Cop and Mark Hunt just to name a few. Then, a surprising trilogy of losses in Strikeforce shattered the myth of “The Last Emperor” and not long after he went into a self-imposed retirement.

We all know the lure of the spotlight and the thrill of one-on-one competition leads to fighters making ill-advised choices about coming out of retirement, but Emelianenko has been largely successful since his 2015 return. The only blemish on his record in that time was arguably the best night of Matt Mitrione’s career. He rebounded from that loss by entering himself into Bellator’s tournament to crown a new champion, and finished both Frank Mir and Chael Sonnen via first round technical knockout to advance to the finals.

If you argued that Bader had the harder road to the main event I would 100 percent agree with that assessment. Timing and accuracy were on his side in a quick finish at Bellator 199 against Muhammed Lawal, but given “King Mo’s” wrestling pedigree and knockout power it could easily have gone the other way. It would be very difficult to pull off the same trick against the much larger Mitrione in round two, so Bader made the sensible choice to out-wrestle him instead.

In short, Bader fought two dangerous athletes who more than likely have their best years ahead of them, while Emelianenko fought two past their prime athletes whose best years are clearly behind them. If you have any doubt about that look at Frank Mir’s performance against Javy Ayala, because just like “The Iceman” he needs to be talked out of ever taking another fight. In theory that makes Bader is the clear favorite. He’s younger (35 vs. 42), he’s bigger (6’2” vs. 6’0”), and he’s on a six-fight win streak. Is it game over for the G.O.A.T.?

One of the oldest cliches in fighting is that “power is the last thing to go.” Emelianenko’s submission skills (17 of 38 wins, 44 percent) should probably be given as much or more credit than his knockouts (12 of 38 wins, 31.5 percent), but fans and fighters alike talk with reverent awe about the power of Fedor’s punch. Even the fight he had with Matt Mitrione resulted in an amazing double knockdown when each landed a hard strike at the same time. Bader on the other hand should get more credit for his power (11 of 26 wins, 42 percent) so it’s not out of the question the exact same thing could happen here.

As someone who still remembers buying Pride FC on pay-per-view (PPV) before it folded up its tent and sold its assets to Zuffa, I have to put nostalgia aside and stick to what we know of present day Emelianenko. This is a man who very nearly got folded by a middling fighter in Fabio Maldonado. This is a man who had his chin tested by both Mitrione and Mir, and he failed the test on one of two occasions. And whether you like it or not, Bader knows that history is at stake here if he can become a dual-weight champion.

If Bader wasn’t going to stand and trade with Mitrione, there’s very little chance he wants to do it with Emelianenko. Expect a takedown each round — maybe several — and potentially lots of booing. Bader won’t care how you feel once they read the scores, wrap that new Heavyweight title around his waist, and hand him a nice large check for his performance. If it’s crowd pleasing that will be an unexpected and surprising bonus.

Final prediction: Ryan Bader wins the Heavyweight title via unanimous decision

145 lbs.: Aaron Pico (4-1) vs. Henry Corrales (16-3)

Pico has become a force to be reckoned with at the very young age of 22. He is consistently knocking off more experienced foes in fight after fight and has shown off scary power in the process. It’s actually stunning to think he was planning to go to the Olympics as a wrestler in 2016 when boxing could have easily been his calling. Everyone (including me) talks more about his grappling than his junior Golden Gloves championship in 2009, and he’s had almost a decade to work on those hand skills and get better over time.

Pico keeps getting tested over and over again and to pass this time he’ll have to surpass Corrales. He’s a forgotten figure in this division despite racking up four straight wins, including his recent finish of Andy Main, who had both height and reach on him in the fight. Like better known Featherweight compatriot Patricio “Pitbull” Freire, he’s not intimidated by larger men, although his stature compares well to Pico. Corrales stands 5’8” with a 69” reach, while Pico stands 5’8” with a 70.5” reach, so if Mike Goldberg is on commentary for this bout you’ll no doubt hear that, “everything else is virtually EYE-dentical.”

The one thing that’s not identical is that Corrales had a three-fight skid before his current win streak, dropping bouts to Daniel Straus, Emmanuel Sanchez and the aforementioned Freire, losing two of three by guillotine choke. Pico is so good with his hands that we’ve never seen him tap somebody out, but to be fair we’ve also never seen him in a fight that lasted longer than 3:45. Some fighters soften you up to take you down and submit you, but Pico simply bypasses softening and goes straight to stiffening. As much as anybody he’s fought, Corrales will be a “stiff test” for Pico but it’s one I expect him to ace.

Final prediction: Aaron Pico wins via first round knockout

265 lbs.: Jake Hager (0-0) vs. J.W. Kiser (1-1)

If you don’t know Jack Swagger by now you will after he makes his professional MMA debut on Saturday. All puns aside, Hager was a legitimate wrestling badass at the University of Oklahoma and it was that pedigree that led him to be recruited for pro wrestling by WWE. He now has the chance to go back to those roots and see if they can land him success in MMA, and since it worked out reasonably well for Brock Lesnar and Bobby Lashley, he’s got plenty of reason to think it will for him, too, as a fellow Heavyweight. Let’s be honest, though — Kiser is no kind of competition for anybody. He lost the only fight he had to date in 24 seconds, and unless Hager shits the bed worse than C.M. Punk, he should be just fine here.

Final prediction: Jake Hager f/k/a Jack Swagger takes a unanimous decision

135 lbs.: Juan Archuleta (21-1) vs. Ricky Bandejas (11-1)

“The Spaniard” Juan Archuleta hasn’t lost in 16 straight fights and has knocked out 10 of his opponents. Bandejas, meanwhile, shocked the world at Bellator 204 by finishing James Gallagher, and has finished almost 60 percent of his fights (four knockouts and three submissions) thus far. Archuleta owns both the height and weight advantage going into this fight, but Bandejas was a Cage Fury prospect who was overlooked until he cleaned Gallagher’s clock with a kick. It would be easy to count out Bandejas again given his more experienced opponent, but Bandejas has a six-fight win streak of his own and has shown no fear of aggressive fighters who try to swarm early. It could very well be another quick finish for Bandejas unless Archuleta keeps his cool.

Final prediction: Juan Archuleta finishes via third round technical knockout

145 lbs.: Brandon McMahan (5-6) vs. Adel Altamimi (7-5)

Let’s make this short and sweet: McMahan is a sub-.500 fighter by any record you can find for him anywhere online. Altamimi’s only loss in his last six fights was to the aforementioned Archuleta and 86 percent of his wins end by submission. What more can I say?

Final prediction: Adel Altamimi wins via kimura

That’s a wrap!

MMAmania.com will deliver coverage of Bellator 214 on Saturday night with a main card on Paramount Network at 9 p.m. ET (also on DAZN) and DAZN “Prelims” undercard bouts starting at 7 p.m. ET. To check out the latest Bellator MMA-related news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive news archive right here.

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Greg Hardy Is The Co-Main Event For UFC’s First ESPN Card

The special treatment for disgraced former NFL player Greg Hardy continues.

Many members of the MMA media and martial arts scene in general have been unhappy with Dana White’s decision to sign Hardy to the UFC, due to his controversial past which includes an extremely disturbing incident of domestic violence. That unhappiness grew when it was announced that Hardy would make his debut January 19th on the first UFC show broadcast on ESPN and ESPN+. And we imagine some will be even less impressed to learn Hardy’s fight has now been slotted in the co-main event spot, just under the champion vs. champion fight between TJ Dillashaw and Henry Cejudo.

It’s a somewhat surprising move considering the amount of pushback the UFC has received on the fighter. Leading up to UFC 231, the promotion attempted to block questions from reporters about Hardy, and Dana White flat out told media during a scrum that he was done talking about it before abruptly storming off.

”I’m not going to talk about Greg Hardy any more,” White said. “I already covered this. I’m not playing this bulls**t with you guys. He’s on the UFC roster. Period. End of story.”

Placing the 3-0 Hardy so high up the card is the UFC making it very clear that they’re all in, and done listening to moralizing about his past. Someone obviously thinks the former Dallas Cowboys defensive end could turn into a real star for the organization, and they’re providing Sage Northcutt levels of favorable treatment to make Greg Hardy happen.

The UFC fast tracked him into the league via Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series, then signed him to a rare development deal where they got him a fight in the minor leagues. Now his fight sits right in the spotlight under the main event on a historic card. If he beats Allen Crowder (9-3 MMA 0-1 UFC) on January 19th, you better believe the Hardy hype train will be full steam ahead.

The big question: can the UFC turn this already tainted tale into one of redemption or will it produce a dark cloud over every event Hardy participates in, making your average Jon Jones fiasco or Colby Covington interaction seem quaint by comparison?

Here’s the full card:

Main Card (ESPN+, 10 PM ET)

Henry Cejudo vs. T.J. Dillashaw
Allen Crowder vs. Greg Hardy
Gregor Gillespie vs. Yancy Medeiros
Joseph Benavidez vs. Dustin Ortiz
Rachael Ostovich vs. Paige VanZant
Ion Cutelaba vs. Glover Teixeira

Preliminary Card (ESPN TV, 8 PM ET)

Donald Cerrone vs. Alexander Hernandez
Joanne Calderwood vs. Ariane Lipski
Alonzo Menifield vs. Vinicius Moreira
John Lineker vs. Cory Sandhagen

Preliminary Card (ESPN+, 6:30 PM ET)

Randy Brown vs. Chance Rencountre
Belal Muhammad vs. Geoff Neal
Dennis Bermudez vs. Te Edwards

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UFC 232 Weigh-in Results: Main Card Set, Montel Jackson Heavy

Jon Jones looks to become the first three-time light heavyweight champion in UFC history as he takes on an old foe in Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 232.
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UFC 232 Weigh-in Results: Main Card Set, Montel Jackson Heavy

Jon Jones looks to become the first three-time light heavyweight champion in UFC history as he takes on an old foe in Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 232.
Recent News on Sherdog.com

Latest Bellator 214 Fight Card, Rumors For ‘Fedor Vs. Bader’

Fedor vs Bader

Event: Bellator 214: “Fedor vs. Bader”
Date: Sat., Jan. 26, 2019, on Paramount Network
Location: The Forum in Inglewood, California

Bellator 214 Main Event:

265 lbs.: Fedor Emelianenko (38-5, 1 NC) vs. Ryan Bader (26-5)

Bellator 214 Main Card (9 p.m. ET):

185 lbs.: Middleweight champion Gegard Mousasi (45-6-2) vs. Rafael Lovato Jr. (9-0)
145 lbs.: Aaron Pico (4-1) vs. Henry Corrales (16-3)
265 lbs.: Jake Hager (0-0) vs. J.W. Kiser (0-1)

Bellator 214 “Prelims” Undercard (7 p.m. ET):

155 lbs.: Mike Segura (9-6) vs. Richard LeRoy (7-1)
155 lbs.: Jorge Juarez (3-0) vs. David Pacheco (0-0)
145 lbs.: Jay-Jay Wilson (1-0) vs. Tyler Beneke (0-0)
185 lbs.: Bobby Newman (0-0) vs. Christopher Reyes (0-0)
170 lbs.: Jesse Merritt (5-4) vs. Thor Skancke (10-8-1)
265 lbs.: Sean Johnson (3-1, 1 NC) vs. Arturo Rivas (5-2)

To check out the latest Bellator MMA-related news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive news archive right here.

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Predictions! Bellator 212 Main Card Preview, Quick Picks

Salute the Troops

Bellator 212: “Salute the Troops” airs tomorrow night (Fri., Dec. 14, 2018) from Neal S. Blaisdell Arena in Honolulu, Hawaii, featuring a Lightweight title defense in the main event of the evening that is so long overdue it almost doesn’t feel real that it’s finally happening.

Let’s break it down:

155 lbs.: Brent Primus (8-0) vs. Michael Chandler (18-4)

This all started on June 25, 2017, at Bellator 180 in Madison Square Garden. Then-defending Lightweight champion, “Iron Mike” Chandler, was ready to collect his fifth straight win against the previously undefeated Brent Primus, but then the unthinkable happened. Primus landed a precise kick that wobbled his left leg and left him unsteady on his feet. Despite barely being able to stand, Chandler roared back and hurt Primus with a right hand, but as he continued to limp and stumble, referee Todd Anderson paused the match. And on the advice of the ringside doctor, the bout was stopped moments later. Indeed, Primus officially became a world champion via technical knockout at 2:27 of round one.

Several opportunities to make the rematch since fell through, including Bellator 197 earlier this year, and every step of the way Chandler blasted Primus as “heartless” and a “part timer” in the sport. Given Primus hasn’t taken a single fight until now since winning the Lightweight title it’s very hard to argue with at least one of Chandler’s two points. Unless a monster tsunami rises from the ocean and takes Honolulu off the map, we’ll finally find out if he’s right about the other point and see just how much “heart” Primus has in a rematch.

The Oregon-born, raised and trained Primus stands 5’10” with a 73” reach and mixed bag of finishes — two knockouts, four submissions, two decisions. Of those two knockouts one was actually the doctor’s stoppage mentioned above, so his power in the striking department can be questioned. Chandler’s power, on the other hand, cannot be disputed. He has knocked out seven foes, submitted seven more, and only four wins went to the judges scorecards. Even notoriously tough brawlers like “Pitbull” Patricky Freire have fallen to the power of his right hand.

In addition, Chandler’s two return fights since losing the title have both been convincing, from a brutal beatdown of Goiti Yamauchi for a lopsided unanimous decision to a strangulation of Brandon Girtz in a match Primus bowed out of. He has looked so good that the loss of his title now seems like even more of a fluke than it did in New York City. Meanwhile, because of his sheer inactivity, there’s little of Primus to compare against him, and split decision wins in two of his last three fights don’t suggest an ability to dominate over five rounds if it even lasts that long. There was no reason on paper to pick Primus the first time and sadly for the champion there’s even less reason to do so now.

Final prediction: Michael Chandler whoops ass until scoring a technical knockout in round two

205 lbs.: Frank Mir (18-12) vs. Javy Ayala (10-7)

This is another fight that is unlikely to go the distance. Already the loser of three straight, Mir has competed just once over the last two years, getting destroyed by Fedor in just 48 seconds back in April. Ayala, meanwhile, has been more active over that same span, but he lost a decision to Roy Nelson then got knocked cold by Cheick Kongo in May. You can put as much sugar and honey on this fight as you like, including the fact Mir is a former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) title holder and Ayala once finished Kharitonov, but the fact is neither of these fighters are even near the middle of Bellator’s Heavyweight division. The only deciding factor to me is that Mir actually tagged Emelianenko with a punch in their fight that he admitted hurt him, and if Kongo can rock Ayala, I suspect Mir will too in a fight that should end quickly … and dramatically.

Final prediction: Frank Mir knocks out Javy Ayala in round one

145 lbs.: Derek Campos (19-7) vs. Sam Sicilia (15-9)

Campos was on a four-fight roll before Patricky Pitbull stopped him cold at Bellator 194 earlier this year. That may have motivated him to drop down from Lightweight to Featherweight, and if so, it could work well against Sam Sicilia. Campos stands 5’9” and has a 68” reach, while recent Bellator newcomer Sicilia is 5’8” with a 67” reach. Not only does that make the weight a better fit for Campos, he benefits from fighting a fighter on the decline who has lost four of his last five bouts dating back to 2015. As long as he makes a successful weight cut and isn’t dried up like a raisin this will go Campos’ way.

Final prediction: Derek Campos scores a third round technical knockout

125 lbs.: Alejandra Lara (7-2) vs. Juliana Velasquez (7-0)

Alejandra Lara had the honor of being the first woman to challenge Ilima-Lei Macfarlane for the women’s Bellator Flyweight title, but easily got outclassed in that fight and hasn’t been heard from since. This will mark her most active year since 2015 though as Lara has previously taken approximately one bout a year until now. Other than her debut and last year, Velasquez typically has two fights a year, and this will be her second of 2018 following an impressive technical knockout of Rebecca Ruth in April. The young Lara (24) stands 5’7” with a 68” reach, while the elder Velasquez (32) stands 5’6” with a 67.5” reach. As Mike Goldberg would say other than their age, “everything else is virtually identical.”

Velasquez has finished 57 percent of her opponents (three knockouts, one submission) in a thus far flawless career. Lara has fought more though and has finished 66 percent (three knockouts, three submissions). The most telling thing for me though is what doesn’t show up in the stats — how one-sided Lara’s loss to the champion was. When she’s faced older fighters — even if they have relatively the same number of professional bouts — they clearly don’t have the same level of experience between fights in the gym. I suspect what was true with Macfarlane is perhaps even more true with Velasquez — when “everything else is virtually identical” it’s that hard work outside of the cage that gives one woman the edge.

Final result: Alejandra Velasquez wins via technical knockout in round three

145 lbs.: A.J. McKee (12-0) vs. Daniel Crawford (10-2)

I’d like to say the Englishman Crawford has a chance here … but if I did I’d be lying. For “Mercenary” McKee this is simply a “stay busy” fight until he finally gets a world title shot against Emmanuel Sanchez. Crawford already lost his Bellator debut to Pedro Carvalho by split decision, and if that’s the best he can muster at anything above the BAMMA level, I don’t see him beating McKee. McKee stands 5’10” and has a 73” reach, while Crawford is at least one inch shorter in height with an undisclosed reach I don’t see closing the range of McKee with his hand speed and devastating kicks.

Final result: A.J. McKee wins via first round knockout

That’s a wrap!

MMAmania.com will deliver coverage of Bellator 212 tomorrow with Paramount fights starting at 9 p.m. ET. To check out the latest Bellator MMA-related news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive news archive right here.

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Dana White Responds to Criticism About Booking Greg Hardy on Brooklyn Card

Addressing the controversy regarding the booking of Greg Hardy on the same card as recent alleged domestic violence victim Rachael Ostovich, Ultimate Fighting Championship President Dana White defended the decision while responding to criticism.
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Dana White Responds to Criticism About Booking Greg Hardy on Brooklyn Card

Addressing the controversy regarding the booking of Greg Hardy on the same card as recent alleged domestic violence victim Rachael Ostovich, Ultimate Fighting Championship President Dana White defended the decision while responding to criticism.
Recent News on Sherdog.com

Dana White Responds to Criticism About Booking Greg Hardy on Brooklyn Card

Addressing the controversy regarding the booking of Greg Hardy on the same card as recent alleged domestic violence victim Rachael Ostovich, Ultimate Fighting Championship President Dana White defended the decision while responding to criticism.
Recent News on Sherdog.com