Tag Archive for Changing

Kevin Lee ‘changing up whole style’ for 2018, open to ‘easy money fight’ with Justin Gaethje

Kevin Lee saw his five-fight win streak come to an end when he was submitted by Tony Ferguson back at UFC 216 for the interim lightweight title.

In hopes of regaining some ground in the talented 155-pound division, “Motown Phenom” is changing up a few things for 2018. Not only is Lee taking some time off to refine his skills inside of the cage, but he’s mixing things up on the management side, too.

“I’m taking some time, I’m changing up my whole style,” Lee said during a recent appearance on MMA on SiriusXM.I’m changing up my team around me. You know, there have been a lot of things happening, especially at the end of this last year, unfortunately, that I’ve had to make changes (for). But it’s a new me, it’s a new start, when I come back the folks are going to see a new me.”

When Lee is ready and willing to step back inside of the Octagon he may find himself in a lightweight clash with fan favorite Justin Gaethje, who is coming off a third-round knockout loss to former champion Eddie Alvarez back at UFC 218. Gaethje recently took aim at “Motown Phenom” when he said he’d love to beat up a “loudmouth.”

“I mean, absolutely,” Lee said when asked if he’d be interested in fighting Gaethje. “I think the best thing about 155 is that there are so many options. The division is right open now. I don’t know, we’ll see.”

That said, Lee insists that “Highlight” needs even more time off than himself to heal from the beating he sustained opposite Alvarez, as well as Gaethje’s menacing UFC debut against Michael Johnson back in July.

“If it’s going to be against Justin, I like easy money,” Lee said.

“Justin likes to take a lot of damage. I like to give a lot of damage – it seems like a good match to me.

“I’m trying to look out for Justin’s health, too. He needs some time, too. The man has taken a lot of bad beatings over the last couple of months. I don’t think he wants another one right here, right now.

“If he does then so be it, but for now I’m just taking my time. I’m still young in the game. I got a long time to go. I want to make some necessary changes to my camp. I’ve just changed management, too. There are going to be a lot of changes coming and I think people are going to be excited about it.”

Whether or not Lee draws Gaethje his next time out (that seems like one of the more plausible matchups), fight fans better get used to “Motown Phenom” competing atop the UFC’s 155-pound division. Every time he has lost inside of the Octagon Lee has seemingly come back stronger, so there’s no telling how far the Grand Rapids native can take it in 2018.

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Midnight Mania! Jimi Manuwa would consider changing weight classes if Gustafsson gets title shot

Bringing you the weird and wild from the world of MMA each and every weeknight

Welcome to Midnight Mania!

Jimi Manuwa, who fights Volkan Oezdemir at UFC 214, says he will go up in weight or even take boxing matches rather than fight teammate Alexander Gustafsson for the belt.

Jimi Manuwa on not fighting teammate Alexander Gustafsson

Jimi Poster Boy MMA Manuwa förklarar varför han inte vill tävla mot sin klubbkamrat, Alexander “The Mauler” Gustafsson. Det är en komplicerad situation för de båda men Manuwa ser andra möjligheter om inte en titelchans skulle uppenbara sig.

Se hela intervjun med Jimi här: https://www.kimura.se/mma-panelen-ufc-214-jimi-manuwa/

Posted by Kimura.se on Thursday, July 20, 2017

Manuway sums up the way he sees it:

Do you know what? We don’t even need to talk about it, what if you get the belt or whatever. We’ve got an understanding on that. For me anyway, there’ll be no problem, there’ll be no problem. There’s other people to fight; the belt is what we want, but if one of us gets it, then there are other ways around it. Maybe I’ll go up or come down, or do a boxing fight, or whatever. For me, it’s no problem. It’s really no problem. We’ve got love for each other, you know? Training together is more important, and helping each other to win our fights is more important. The belt is what we want, but it’s not everything, you know?

That loyalty is significant. In a hyper-competitive sport, this is rare. We’ve seen it before, notably when Daniel Cormier himself dropped to light heavyweight rather than stay in a division where he might have to challenge Cain Velasquez for the belt. It wasn’t a loyalty Jon Jones extended to Rashad Evans. In the case where ambitions come into conflict with camp loyalties, everyone handles the situation differently. Some fighters change camps before a fight, or split coaching staff, as was the case with Tyron Woodley before he challenged Robbie Lawler.

Manuwa, who lost to Gustafsson back in 2014, is now teammates with the lanky Swede, and in his mind, changing weight classes is preferable to jeopardizing the relationship he has with Alex. If he does win against Oezdemir, Manuwa will find himself within touching distance of a title shot. The only man more likely to get the coveted opportunity (aside from a possible trilogy fight if Cormier beats Jones) is Gustafsson, who is coming off a fourth-round knockout win over Glover Texeira.

Manuwa also hates fat bullies like Daniel Cormier, who he feels is condescending. Cormier certainly seemed above it with his reply…


Poirier calls out Michael Chiesa after Chiesa got his appeal denied to overturn the result of his loss to Kevin Lee

Will Gastelum make weight though?

McGregor has infinite self belief, I’ll give him that.

McGregor Sports and Entertainment. We do it all.

A post shared by Conor McGregor Official (@thenotoriousmma) on

GSP is still in training, even though his fight with Bisping is off

At Tristar gym training with @firas_zahabi, @robinblackmma, @zach_makovsky @jamie_boomboom and @duffymma!

A post shared by Georges St-Pierre (@georgesstpierre) on

HBO featured Karim Zidan’s work exposing how Chechen dictator Ramzan Kadyrov is using MMA for his political ends.

Normally, this would go under “good reads” but I’m just going to include it here. Zidan is doing journalistic work of consequence- go read his piece up on Deadspin!

Sage looks like he belongs on the cover of a paperback romance novel from the 90s

This video of Jack Dempsey in color is incredible

Slips. Rips. Awesome Clips.

This shows just how much slapping can happen in sumo.

Good Reads

Podcasts and Video

Flyin Brian J previews Weidman-Gastelum. Hate to say it, but I’m going with Gastelum here.

Submission Radio

Random Land

These swords are from cartoons

I’m convinced Florida is the worst place on Earth by incidents like this

Stay woke, Maniacs! Follow me on Twitter @Vorpality

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Mickey Gall credits online fans for changing Dana White’s mind about walkout song

An episode of the UFC video blog Embedded showed Mickey Gall on the phone with UFC president Dana White before UFC 203 last week. White told Gall that he didn’t want him to use his preferred walkout song: the popular 1980s song “Mickey” by Toni Basil.

The conversation got people talking on social media — and might have contributed to White’s change of heart.

When Gall walked out at UFC 203 in Cleveland, it was to “Mickey” after all and he didn’t know it until he heard the first chord, Gall told Ariel Helwani on Monday’s episode of The MMA Hour.

“Then I started hearing the beginning of that song,” Gall said. “I looked at them like, ‘Did they switch it? Is this me? Am I going now?’ And then they’re like, ‘Yep, we’re rolling, let’s go.’ So I found out right there when everyone else did.”

Gall has not spoken to White since the fight, which Gall won by first-round submission against the former WWE star. He did, however, have a quick discussion with UFC matchmaker Joe Silva right after the bout. Gall said Silva told him that he also tried to convince White to let Gall use the song.

A day earlier at the UFC 203 ceremonial weigh-ins, White and Gall did speak briefly.

“Dana told me, ‘Hey dude, I’m getting f*cking abused online for this ‘Hey Mickey’ stuff,’” Gall said. “I think the people online, it shows you guys are heard. We’ve got a voice out there.”

The walkout seemed to fit a very loose Gall. And the result of the fight — albeit against a neophyte opponent — was unequivocal. “Mickey” is here to stay. At least one of them.

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UFC Hall of Fame notebook: Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira changing course from fighter to mentor

LAS VEGAS — Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira didn’t talk much about his childhood accident much during his fighting career. Now, though, it’s something Nogueira has discussed with fighters a lot.

When he was 11 years old, Nogueira was hit by a truck and somehow he survived. He was in a coma for a time, had damage to his lungs and was in the hospital for nearly a full year.

The Brazilian MMA legend told a bit about the story Sunday during his induction speech for the UFC Hall of Fame here at Las Vegas Convention Center. He has been using his background story quite a bit in his new role as an executive for UFC Brazil. Nogueira is now a mentor to young fighters in his home country.

“I hope I set an example to motivate people, to motivate the new fighters, motivate the guy who doesn’t got to the gym who doesn’t train martial arts because he has a knee injury or some little things,” Nogueira told the media afterward. “I’ve been from a big accident and I hope I can motivate them to watch the UFC and to train. I love to inspire people to train.”

Nogueira, 40, only retired from fighting after a unanimous decision loss to Stefan Struve last August at UFC 190. He is a former interim PRIDE and UFC champion with a handful of some of the most exciting fights in mixed martial arts history on his record. Nogueira (34-10-1, 1 NC), who was inducted by his brother Rogerio and Anderson Silva, owns wins over Dan Henderson, Mark Coleman, Fabricio Werdum, Randy Couture, Josh Barnett and Mirko Cro Cop. He’s unequivocally one of the top five greatest heavyweight fighters of all time.

Now, though, Nogueira is all about talking, not fighting. That’s what his job entails. “Minotauro” said he is in constant contact with fighters.

“I like a lot of new guys that are coming up, the new fighters,” Nogueira. “We are working with them in Brazil. We’re doing research. Not just the UFC fighters, but the guys that have potential to go to the UFC. We study all the greats in Brazil and we see a lot of guys that are gonna come to the UFC in the future.

“I like to talk with Jacare as well. He’s not a young fighter, but I like to talk to him a lot. He’s a big friend of mine. I love to talk to Demian Maia. Thomas Almeida, another guy I have talked to a lot in Sao Paulo. There’s a guy from Brasilia, Renato Moicano, I’m a big fan of these kids. We’re trading messages every day. I think he’s got a big potential.”

“Big Nog” doesn’t just have an office job, either. He’s out at events constantly, and not just UFC events. He’s scouting talent and imparting his wisdom.

That nearly tragic story from his past, the one he didn’t love talking about during his fighting career — he never wanted to detract from his or anyone else’s accomplishments — has now become a calling card.

“A lot of people use the excuse,” Nogueira said. “They’re hurt. They cannot do it because they’re tired. So me as a guy who came over the accident, I know I can be a lot of motivation other people.”

Frye changes mind about women’s MMA

One of the main characteristics of Don Frye’s old video blog predicting UFC fights was a steady stream of insults toward female competitors in MMA. You won’t be hearing that any more from the newly inducted UFC Hall of Famer.

Frye praised women’s MMA on Sunday after the UFC Hall of Fame ceremony. The mixed martial arts legend has done a complete 180 on the topic.

“I used to be against them. I thought women should be delivering my drinks to me, cooking my dinner,” Frye said. “Hell, these women are tough. They’re better athletes, fight better than some of the guys. Last night, the best fight there was the women.”

Frye, 50, was talking about the stellar women’s strawweight title fight between Joanna Jedrzejczyk and Claudia Gadelha in the main event of The Ultimate Fighter 23 Finale. Jedrzejczyk won a bloody unanimous decision to retain her belt.

Frye, a former two-time UFC tournament title winner, said fighters like Holly Holm, Paige VanZant and Sara McMann have helped him change his mind about women’s MMA.

“It just happened over time,” the Arizona native said. “The guys got softer and the women got harder. They put on better fights. Being an athlete my whole life, I appreciate athleticism. I appreciate somebody who sticks in there and goes after it. And the women are. It’s impressive the way they’re going after it. They’re fighting like we did back in the ‘90s.”

Notes: The 1998 fight between Mark Coleman and Pete Williams was inducted into the fight wing of the UFC Hall of Fame on Sunday. Williams beat Coleman via head kick during the UFC 17 contests. It’s still one of the most discussed — and one of the first ever — head kick finishes in MMA history. … Bob Meyrowitz, the former owner of the UFC, was also also inducted, though he could not physically attend the ceremony. Meyrowitz was one of the co-creators of the UFC in 1993 while running his Semaphore Entertainment Group (SEG) company. SEG later purchased the UFC and sold it in 2011 to Zuffa LLC, headed by Lorenzo Fertitta, Frank Fertitta and Dana White.

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Today’s UFC has become the game of changing thrones

How foolish is it to try and project even just six months into the future of the UFC? Well…it’s asinine foolish, if we’re keeping everything a hunnit. Like, preposterously, other-level ridiculous.

It’s easier to forecast earthquakes, you see.

Heading into the year plenty of the game’s most dominant icons were still intact. Anderson Silva, considered the greatest of all time, was coming back against Nick Diaz, yet another testament to his total sublimity. Jon Jones, considered the greatest of now, was still untouchable heading into his fight with Daniel Cormier. Anthony Pettis was (and still is) on the Wheaties box, for god’s sake. And Cain Velasquez was still considered by many — particularly UFCphiles who never acquired a taste for beet borscht — the greatest heavyweight of all time.

Oh yes, Velasquez. At UFC 188, Fabricio Werdum snagged another figure from the pantheon of greats, sapped him of will and aura, and smuggled his invincibility out of Mexico. Didn’t see that coming? Get used to it.

Six months into 2015 you can’t help but realize (yet again) just how unpredictable the UFC is. Champions are booked to get beat. Champions beat themselves. Champions are nothing more than really strong ephemera.

Velasquez got beat by perhaps the game’s master dupe in Werdum, who somehow always convinces everyone (including Vegas oddsmakers) that he has zero chance of beating the monstrosity in front of him. How long is Werdum’s reach? Those go-to-hell jabs he was crashing into Velasquez’s wobbling head were also aimed at our misconceptions.

The others have fallen in their various ways. Jones got beat by the guy his coach Greg Jackson feared might have his number (himself). Pettis was dominated by Rafael dos Anjos. And Silva, well…pfft.

What a mess.

Other than Ronda Rousey and Demetrious Johnson (and maybe Chris Weidman), the only constant right now is Jose Aldo, and it doesn’t take a diehard MMA fan to realize he’s the one pillar that the UFC wouldn’t mind painting Irish green. Conor McGregor fights him on July 11, and you best believe he’ll be sharing some Midleton Very Rare with the avuncular types at Zuffa headquarters should he take that belt. If McGregor can share Lorenzo Fertitta’s tailor, he can damn well share a glass of celebratory whisky.

Point is, champions aren’t meant to last in the UFC. Not anymore. Not since Georges St-Pierre, the game’s true opus, rode off into the sunset with a face battered to match its orange and purple majesty. Since then everything has been fog-based. If it’s not a challenger that gets them, it’s life. If that gauntlet is gotten through, it’s Hollywood. Or injuries. Just ask Dominick Cruz, who hasn’t lost anything since 2007 except his belt.

Werdum is the latest to rise out of some forgotten place to the greatest elevation in the sport. There was a time when Werdum was pleading with Alistair Overeem to come to the ground with him in the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix. He didn’t trust his hands. That memory, along with him getting crushed by a Junior dos Santos left at UFC 90, endured enough for him to sneak into the pound-for-pound conversation.

People refused to see him coming. Now he’s here.

Werdum joins the list of Improbable Stories, along with middleweight champion Robbie Lawler who was losing to Lorenz Larkin not all that long ago, and T.J. Dillashaw, who somehow defeated the greatest pound-for-pound fighter in the sport (for that week), Renan Barao. There’s no rhyme or reason, there are only fate-dealing fists from the blue corner that keep changing the narrative.

The good news is that all this flux means other narratives change, too. For instance, Brazilian champions are no longer on the endangered species list. For a brief moment there it was Aldo fighting not just to retain his featherweight belt, but for the pride of Brazil. Dos Anjos and Werdum have reestablished Brazil as a force. Bethe Correia will get a shot at Rousey in August, and Barao will get another shot at Dillashaw.

But I’ll tell what’s on the endangered list midway through this year — the concept of the “superfight.” The most burning superfight that could have been arranged heading into this year would have been a fight between Jones and Velasquez, and that after Jones and Silva of years past, and that after Silva and GSP back when Dallas Cowboys Stadium came up during every press conference.

These days, who knows. In six more months, it’s possible the world will appear right side up. For now, we live in a time where Rafael Dos Anjos, Fabricio Werdum, T.J. Dillashaw, Joanna Jedrzejczyk, Daniel Cormier and Robbie Lawler are all champions. What an unlikely list of names.

And by the end of 2015, here’s what we can safely say — those names are subject to change.

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Sara McMann quietly re-enters the (changing) world of contendership

Things have been a little topsy-turvy in Sara McMann’s UFC run; in fact, the one-time Olympic wrestler’s trajectory seems slightly ridiculous even though the Zuffa portion of her career is just shy of three fights old.

McMann destroyed the “Wanderlei Silva” of women’s MMA, the German fighter Sheila Gaff, in her debut on the UFC 157 prelims. It was a good start which generated the right amount of buzz. How much buzz? Ten long months later, after bout with Sarah Kaufman fell through, she leapfrogged the women’s fleet and fought Ronda Rousey for the bantamweight title at UFC 170. She went from debuting on the prelims to headlining a pay-per-view.

And now six months after that loss, McMann’s fighting UFC newcomer — and former Invicta 135-pound champion — Lauren Murphy at UFC Fight Night 47 in Bangor, Maine. Back on the prelims. And with those prelim bookends, there’s a case to be made that McMann got cut off too much too soon in drawing a title fight with Rousey back at UFC 170. In fact, conspiracy theorists who believe the UFC is protecting Rousey — opting to pursue Gina Carano ahead of Cristiane Justino, say, or giving her McMann sooner (while still green) rather than later  (when honed) — have raised their whispers to a mumble.

McMann herself isn’t among them.

“With the way everything worked out, I still think that it was the right choice,” McMann told MMA Fighting. “So I’m not upset at all about the timing thing. I think I just made a mistake [in that fight]. I made a positional error. You take that out of it, and it’s a very different fight. That’s why I need her for a rematch. If I had gone out there, and got completely dominated in positions, like she just clearly showed she’s a better fighter, I’d probably be like, oh man, maybe I don’t have what it takes. But judging from how the fight went previous to that liver shot, then I feel really confident about it.”

McMann has spent the last six months with that in the back of her mind, but it’s not been an easy thing to get past. And not from the mental side of it, but from the practical side; McMann has had trouble getting a fight. She wanted to finally step in the cage with Sarah Kaufman, a fight that was made and scrapped in 2013, but after fits and starts it never materialized.

“I told my manager [Monte Cox], you know what, forget it,” she says. “I took the fight three times against [Kaufman], and she was calling out Cat [Zingano] and Miesha [Tate] but saying she was too injured to fight me. So I said forget it. If she doesn’t want to fight, then that’s fine. I don’t need to not fight, I’ll just fight somebody else.”

Asked if she thought Kaufman was ducking her, McMann said it’s not specifically Kaufman, but more a collective.

“I think a lot of people are, because I’m the harder road to get a title shot,” she says. “You don’t want to take a risk of losing your position against me. But I can think about it a different way, too. If you aren’t willing to fight the other people underneath, then you don’t deserve a title shot. That’s how I feel. If you say I want to be the best, you have to fight everybody and prove that you are the best, not just the top girl.

“I had three different offers in June and July, and I said yes to all of them…and really Monte’s never come to me with a fight I said no to. It was frustrating to me, just because I’m 33, I’m not 23. I want to do more. I want to do this, and I love competing, and to not be out there. It gives me a lot more grit and fire when I am out there.”

Since McMann fought Rousey in February the women’s bantamweight division has gotten theoretically more intriguing. Zingano, the original No. 1 contender who has been out with a knee injury, returns to action at UFC 178. Bethe Correira is a quarter through her mission to unseat every one of the four horsewomen, and looks like a challenge for Rousey. She fights Shayna Baszler at UFC 177.

And then there’s the three-piece hypothetical of the recently signed Holly Holm, the coveted Gina Carano, and the pariah Cristiane Justino. McMann says she sees and hears all the rumblings, but there’s a lot of red tape.

“Holly Holm still has a long way to go in fighting girls, and showing that her ground game is title contender worthy,” McMann says. “And in my opinion, she has to prove it before she gets a title shot, or else she’s going to get thrown and arm-barred in quicker time than Sarah Kaufman. Cyborg, I’ve been hearing for two years that she’s coming down to 135. I mean, I can only get riled up or think about those things as a possibility for so long before I start rolling my eyes. They keep saying it’s going to happen, it’s not going to happen, who knows.

“But truthfully, when it comes to Gina, I don’t see a potential gain for her. She struggled making weight at 140 and she’s been off for five years. I really think that, unless she needs the money, it’s not going to help her popularity. Her ground game wasn’t her specialty.”

On Saturday night, McMann will finally get the chance to once again join the fray. Her opponent, Murphy, is 8-0 in her career, and a finisher. Six of her victories have come via TKO, including her fight with Miriam Nakamoto in Invicta FC 7 last December for the bantamweight belt.

McMann, who has been in competition for much of her life growing up a wrestler, sees a competitor.

“I think that [Murphy]’s more of a ground girl,” she says. “I think that also, to a certain extent, toughness goes a long way when it comes to fighting, and it’s actually the same in wrestling. You can have one person who might have more experience or be more technical or whatever, but there are strong factors when it comes to certain sports, and toughness in fighting and in wrestling, that’s the case.”

And even if she doesn’t know what comes after Murphy, whether it’s a prelim or the main card or a rematch with Rousey or a welcome to the UFC for Justino or some other thing, McMann knows this. She wants to fight again in 2014. With only three fights in two years, she wants to be busier.

“Absolutely,” she says. “I just like to compete, and I know I can’t compete forever. The only thing that’s going to stop me competing is not having an opponent or being injured. That’s it.”

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Garry Cook: ‘We’re changing the landscape of sport’

In a post-fight scrum after UFC Fight Night 41 in Berlin, UFC EMEA chief Garry Cook discusses what’s going on with the UFC in Europe, including TV deals in England and Ireland, possible events in Poland, Finland and Africa, his proudest achievement so far, and more.

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Morning Report: Bryan Caraway changing tune on Ronda Rousey

After a very ugly, public feud with UFC women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey, fellow bantamweight Bryan Caraway is working to keep his nose clean when it comes to ‘Rowdy.’ Although some fans may be expecting fireworks between Caraway and Rousey on this season of The Ultimate Fighter, Caraway says he no longer bears any malice towards her.

“I don’t have any ill thoughts or bad intentions toward Ronda. I don’t hate her and I want her to know that,” Caraway told SI.com this week. “She’s a talented, world-class athlete. I think she’s a stud fighter. I just don’t agree with the way she approaches things and conducts herself. I don’t feel like she’s a role model and I think there’s a lot better ways to go about it. Her, Miesha and I are just completely different types of people.”

Caraway’s presence as an assistant to TUF coach Miesha Tate brought a certain intrigue leading up to this season of as fans wait to see he and Rousey finally clash. Caraway, the long-time boyfriend of Tate, has a history with Rousey dating back to the Strikeforce women’s bantamweight title bout last March. Responding to an antagonizing fan, Caraway tweeted “if [Rousey] wants to challenge a man I’ll knock her teeth dwn (sic) her throat the (sic) break her arm!”

Even so, Tate credits Caraway’s participation as giving her team an edge rather than be a distraction.

“He was instrumental in the whole process because he’d been on the fourteenth season of The Ultimate Fighter,” Tate told SI.com this week. He was able to relate to the fighters in a way the rest of the staff just couldn’t. We didn’t have the experience of being locked up in a house for six weeks like he had.”

Tate, who challenges Rousey for the women’s bantamweight title at UFC 168 in December, assumed her role as coach after a knee injury to Cat Zingano forced her to withdraw. Zingano, who has her own history with Caraway, scored a decision victory over Tate in April at The Ultimate Fighter 17 Finale. The winner was to be assured a coaching spot opposite Rousey prior to an eventual title bout.



Alistair Overeem vs. Frank Mir set for UFC 167: Great fight, better card. The UFC is pulling out all the stops for its big 20th anniversary show.

FOX Sports 1 by the numbers. Dave Meltzer goes into amazing detail of the UFC’s affect on ratings for the launch of FS1. UFC president Dana White responded to our Ariel Helwani.

Jacare wanted to make statement with Okami. “I came here to destroy my opponent, finish the fight quick,” Souza said at the post-fight press-conference. “I wanted to shock the world.”

Glover not enough for Jones. Luke Thomas makes the case as to why Glover Teixeira doesn’t pose an overwhelming threat to Jon Jones‘ UFC light heavyweight crown.

Meet our TUF blogger, Julianna Pena. Set to face Shayna Baszler on next week’s episode, Pena chats with our own Shaun Al-Shatti about last night’s premier. “I was happy to see her, but at the same time, ‘No! Don’t hug me! Ronda’s going to see you hugging me and she’s not going to pick me on her team!’ (Laughs.) But at that point it was really too late.”

TUF observations: Chuck Mindenhall breaks down exactly why the UFC needed to move away from its stale format to get people intrigued in TUF again. “Just like the very first TUF, when Forrest Griffin, Kenny Florian and Diego Sanchez were the players — back when “spritzing” was all the rage — the women on the show figure to factor into the UFC’s landscape when all is said and done.”




Ronda says she’d be worried about being sued if she ever slapped Miesha Tate.


An extended preview of UFC 165.


UFC Ultimate Insider profiles Team Alpha Male head coach Duane Lugwig.


A little early for hanging mistletoe, but to each his own. It’s Nick Diaz, after all.


Josh Thompson stars in the upcoming Fist of the Dragon, not to be confused with Fist of Dragon or Fist of the Red Dragon. Look for it in theaters this Christmas.



The victory lap.


Struve not giving up.


A nearly beardless Hendricks just seems unnatural.


Not sure if it’s the angle, but Vitor looks massive.


Dana defends TUF.


The heart of a champion. I think Bart and I might be cut from the same cloth.


Akira Corassani and Bryan Caraway patch things up.



Announced Yesterday (Sept. 5 2013)

Rafael ‘Feijao’ Cavalcante vs. Igor Pokrajac to UFC Fight Night 32

Frank Mir vs. Alistair Overeem added to UFC 167



Today’s Fanpost of the Day comes via MMA Fighting member Tkeaner.

Moneyweights: The Growing Abyss

There are currently 9 weight classes wherein the UFC employs a champion, none of which hold the title of the fastest growing division. That title, however dubious under these circumstances, belongs to the “Moneyweights”; or that abyss of fighters that seems to be forming between the 185lb and 205lb weight classes.

In years past, the UFC’s moneyweight division once consisted of only a couple of fighters such as Rich Franklin or Wanderlei Silva. They have been joined in recent months, thanks to the sustained dominance of Jon Jones and Anderson Silva, by the likes of Chael Sonnen, Lyoto Machida, Vitor Belfort. Rashad Evans, Shogun Rua and Dan Henderson seem destined to follow in the coming months. These fighters all have two things in common. They have lost to the current champion (in most cases rather convincingly) or a top contender and they are all still relevant, big names that the UFC can promote in big fights. The logic is simple; they no longer have a path to the title, so hey what not take some big fights? There is even more motivation to do so for fighters moving up in weight as they have much more to gain. For example, Chael Sonnen lost two fights to middleweight champion Anderson Silva. If he goes up to light heavyweight and wins a couple of fights, goes back down to middleweight and wins a fight, one could project that he would be right back at the front of the line for a title shot at 185lbs (most likely only if Weidman beats Silva in December but you never know with Chael). Sonnen has substantially more to gain, financially and otherwise, if he goes up in weight and fights some promotable names rather than stay and toil in the middleweight division as gatekeeper.

This is the reality facing all of these fighters mentioned; stay in their current division and become a gatekeeper as long as the current champion remains or become a moneyweight and hope one day you retain that contender status? The UFC certainly prefers the latter. It frees up matchmaking restrictions and creates fights with main event caliber fighters that would be otherwise unattainable. It is only a matter of time before each of these fighters settle into one division or the other so it is wise to capitalize when possible. But for as long as they are willing, the UFC seems to be more than happy to be in the Moneyweight business.


Found something you’d like to see in the Morning Report? Just hit me up on Twitter @SaintMMA and we’ll include it in tomorrow’s column.

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SB Nation middleweight rankings: Changing of the guard


Two guys enter the Octagon. One is the UFC middleweight champion, the other his challenger. The fight ends with the challenger knocking the champion cold. The guy who entered the fight as challenger leaves with the title.

The new champion is thus first in the new middleweight rankings. It’s so simple, even a sportswriter can get it. Such was the case in the new SBNation middleweight rankings.

Chris Weidman, who, in case you’ve been sleeping for the past week, knocked out Anderson Silva in the main event of UFC 162 to end the longest title reign in major mixed martial arts history, claimed first place in the latest 185-pound poll. Weidman took five of six first-place votes to finish with 59 out of a possible 60 points. Silva took the other first-place vote and five seconds to take the second spot with 55 points.

There was unanimity as to who ranks third: Vitor Belfort, who took all six third-place votes for 48 points. With Silva and Weidman getting set for an eventual rematch, Belfort should get comfortable with placing third for the foreseeable future.

Beyond that, Mark Munoz was the month’s biggest winner. His impressive win over Tim Boetsch in his first bout in nearly a year bumped him up from ninth place to sixth, with 27 points.

All in all, there’s minimal disagreement on who belongs in the 185-pound top 10 in and of itself, as each of the top nine finishers placed on all six ballots.

(Scoring: Fighters are given 10 points for a first-place vote, nine points for a second, etc., down to one point for 10th place. The results are then tallied up and presented here. Official SB Nation rankings policy: Fighters under commission suspension are ineligible to be ranked during the duration of their suspension or if they have licensing issues. This does not affect any middleweight fighters under consideration at the moment).

1. Chris Weidman (10-0, 59 points): Since Weidman is going to hear for months from some quarters how he got lucky, the new champion clearly wants the bout as much as anyone else.

2. Anderson Silva (33-5, 55 points): You knew when Silva said in the cage that he didn’t want a rematch, that he’d come around eventually. The fact he came around in a matter of days says it all.

3. Vitor Belfort (23-10, 48 points): Belfort can protest and campaign all he wants, but he’s not getting a title shot any time soon.

4. Michael Bisping (24-5, 35 points): Bisping returns home to Manchester, England in October to meet Mark Munoz.

5. Yushin Okami (29-7, 40 points): Okami’s up for another challenge after three straight wins. A bout with “Jacare” Souza on Sept. 4 in Brazil fits the bill.

6. Mark Munoz (13-3, 27 points): Looked like a reborn fighter in his UFC 162 win over Tim Boetsch as he masterfully mixed his wrestling and striking. A consequential fight with Bisping is up next.

7. Ronaldo Souza (18-3, 1 NC, 17 points): Former Strikeforce champ has his biggest career bout against Okami.

8. Costa Phillippou (12-2, 1 NC, 20 points): The winner of five straight fights is still waiting on his next fight after an injury.

9. Luke Rockhold (11-2, 23 points): Still nothing on tap after his may knockout loss to Belfort.

10. Tim Boetsch (15-7, 6 points): A game competitor, but Boetsch’s career may have peaked.

Votes for others: Alexander Shlemenko 1, Cung Le 1.

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Things Fall Apart: Jon Jones and the UFC’s Changing Dynamic With Its Top Stars


Let’s start with a basic question: as it pertains to UFC 151, what is in UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones‘ best interest?

The two opposing arguments setting out a vision for Jones both have merit. On the one hand, accepting a very winnable fight, saving an event and pleasing fans seems like an incredibly reasonable offer. Were I part of Jones’ management team, I would’ve recommended he fight Sonnen, save UFC 151 and in the words of Greg Jackson, ‘go make some fans’.

On the other hand, Jones’ decision is anything but ludicrous. His UFC title is not to be lightly protected, which doesn’t mean not fighting. It does mean, though, preparing for specific challenges is critical and taking on admittedly out of shape yet dangerous fighter on short notice is unnecessarily risky. So what if he saves an event if he stupidly gives away his title in the process? You know, the title he’s worked to earn and defend? The title that means a financial future where his children can go to college and he can retire without having to worry how he’ll keep the lights on when he’s 50? Why should he risk that future when a) he’ll happily fight that person at a date when he’s had a full camp, b) that fighter offered as an opponent has done positively nothing to earn a title shot at that weight class and c) he isn’t the one in charge of the event?

It’s easy to ask Jones to risk what matters to him when we have to pay no costs if something goes wrong. For all the accusations lobbed at Jones for displaying selfishness, there is little more self serving than demanding from athletes they risk what they’ve built to satisfy the mostly inconsequential needs of those who share no burden for failure.

And that’s the story of UFC 151′s cancelation: shared burden. Where UFC stars and UFC once more harmoniously worked in tandem to keep the machine running, Jones represents a new era of fighters who don’t view their responsibility to the company or the sport as superseding their own interests. Whether we like it or not, he’s not crazy for thinking that way.

The frustration and anger in the character assassination of Jones yesterday is somewhat understandable, albeit unjustifiable. The UFC essentially asked Jones to help them out of a problem that is partly of their creation and he balked. Injuries to fighters are not their fault, but that’s only half of the story. Headliners have fallen out of UFC shows before and replacements have been found. What makes UFC 151 unique is that previous shows were not a product of 2012′s realities. That is, UFC 151 had no supporting cast because most of the resources had already been used, weren’t ready or just didn’t make sense. UFC President Dana White doesn’t care about media criticism, praise or opinion, which is fine. Personally speaking, however, it’s difficult to claim there’s no issue with oversaturation and cards being too thin if the loss of the main event results in the cancellation of the entire event.

Contrary to suggestion, Jones doesn’t have the ability to hold UFC hostage and was acting well within his rights. In fact, he was able to decline their offer and force the UFC’s hand in a system almost entirely of Zuffa’s creation. MMA is Zuffa’s world and they’ll be the first to remind you of it (as they should). Other than obligations to abide by U.S. law, the ecosystem of contracts, negotiations, back room dealing, expectations, tradition, precedent and more are all the product of Zuffa’s handiwork. If Jones is guilty of anything, it’s exercising the minimal powers bestowed upon him in a system he inherited. That it had such a catastrophic effect says less about Jones’ discretion and more about the precarious nature of UFC 151.

All of this is to say Jon Jones is not Chuck Liddell. I have no doubts that Liddell, if placed in a similar position, would’ve taken the fight. I’m not suggesting Liddell is a hero where Jones is a villain. Rather, they are the products of two different eras of mixed martial arts.

Aside from the personal relationship Liddell shared with White, first with White as his manager and then his boss, Liddell came from a moment in time where many of the principle actors in UFC accepted a notion of shared sacrifice leading to shared gain. The fighter relied on the brand, the brand needed the fighters and the mutual accommodation lead to mutual gain. One can quibble about who got the most out of it, but that was the general pattern. It was a time where most of the power players knew if this MMA thing was going to go anywhere, it would only happen when everyone pulled their weight working in concert.

Those days, for better or worse, could be done. Moreover, romanticizing a ‘golden age’ of MMA (or NHB) as a morally superior age filled with braver men, more eager to accept challenges in the name of championship glory and corporate assistance isn’t just lazy historical revisionism, it’s irrelevant.

Jones and many of his contemporaries fight in the UFC bequeathed to his generation, not the one they built. The downside for the UFC and fans may be those fighters adopting a more rigid view of what’s acceptable in their interests. The upside is that they represent a quantum leap in their athleticism and capability to fight. It’s the natural evolution not just of this sport, but sports generally.

It isn’t merely that they don’t share the same cultural ethos or worldview. Equally important is the consideration that today’s MMA stars aren’t as fungible or easily dispatched. The boom of the UFC since 2005 came with a notable roster of stars fans adoringly flocked to, a number of which are either gone or on their way out. There is a new generation of notable talents – Jones leads the pack – but they are fewer in number and not (yet) as popular.

The previous generation of fighters may have had more career options, but were also more easily replaced. Jones is not immune from UFC dismissal, of course, but for the UFC to get rid of it’s most promising star in a moment where every ounce of star power is needed to power the company through a transition period would be the epitome of cutting off one’s nose to spite their face.

It doesn’t matter if Jones could go to Bellator or some other promoter. Bellator probably can’t afford him and even if they could, they couldn’t make effective use of him. While true the UFC can release Jones into the ether if they so choose, it does so at a cost far more significant to their bottom line than in previous years.

After all, who would’ve headlined four of the major pay-per-views in the last year were it not for Jones? Brock Lesnar’s diverticulitis while Georges St. Pierre being on the injury shelf placed a significant responsibility on Jones to give the company a star attraction in a serious diet year. Anderson Silva has been peaking, but at age 37 he is much closer to retirement than signing another six-fight contract.

Welcome to the new MMA where the notion of communal responsibility leading to communal gain gives way to more calculated moves about career best interests.

Sure, Jon Jones is a UFC champion. But like every other fighter in the UFC, he’s not an employee or a part of some vague notion of ‘family’. He’s an independent contractor. No more, no less. There is no one at the company tasked with looking out for his best interests other than when the UFC’s best interests converge with his. If anyone is to protect them, it will be Jones or it will be no one. Unlike fighting in front of crowds, the task of preserving one’s best interest is a lonely, thankless job.

Ultimately, I don’t agree with Jones’ decision. I don’t see it as overly risky to fight Chael Sonnen even in the shortened timeline. I suspect Jones still would’ve won handily, helped the UFC (by their measurements) and became more likable. I believe he erred in turning down the Sonnen fight.

But it doesn’t matter what I (or you) think. I’m not the light heavyweight champion. It’s not my belt to protect. I have no idea what it means to achieve such heights then be asked last minute to risk it for the benefit of someone else (to whom my services are only contracted out) in a challenge that makes virtually no sense. If that were me, would I really want to do that if I didn’t have to?

Jones is good for the UFC, and Jones and UFC working together is good for MMA. Everything works best for everyone when it works harmoniously. All the parties involved know that. Yet, we are likely witnessing an eclipsing of the days when fighters view their role as one that balances their self-interest with the UFC’s. Not in total, of course, but this is not the end of fighter-UFC divergence. And it while it may have taken 11 years for the first event to be canceled, it won’t be another 11 before it happens again.

This is the evolution of sport played out in MMA. When athletes get more leverage, they use it. It’s not illegal, it’s not unethical and even though it can be unpleasant, it shouldn’t be unexpected anymore. We’ve been building towards this all along.

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