Tag Archive for Eyes

All Eyes On ‘Thug’ Tonight In Brooklyn!

Just five months ago, Rose Namajunas shocked the mixed martial arts (MMA) world and knocked out undefeated UFC women’s strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk at UFC 217 in the very first round. It was an unprecedented feat, especially considering Jedrzejczyk was, and still is, one of the best female fighters in MMA history.

Luckily for “Thug,” she’ll get the opportunity to defend her 115-pound crown later this evening (Sat., April 7, 2018) at UFC 223 live on pay-per-view (PPV) from inside Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, and prove that her first encounter with Jedrzejczyk wasn’t a flash in the pan. If she can defeat Jedrzejczyk once more, the sky is truly the limit for the 25-year-old Namajunas.

While we’ve seen newly-crowned champions get caught up in their own hype and believe that they’re truly untouchable inside of the Octagon, Namajunas has remained cool, calm, and collected. In fact, her and her team have made it a point to train as if she was fighting for the UFC women’s strawweight title, not defending it. At the end of the day, that’s a tremendous outlook for a new champion, especially one who still has to prove a ton of doubters wrong.

Even as a champion coming off a first-round knockout win over the best strawweight fighter of all time, Namajunas is a perfect example that fighting careers are not meant to be perfect. Not only did “Thug” lose her first UFC title shot to Carla Esparza in 2014 following a productive stint on The Ultimate Fighter, but she lost a close split decision to Karolina Kowalkiewicz back at UFC 201, which would have led to an earlier title shot against Jedrzejczyk.

Still, despite her past struggles, Namajunas continues to grow and show improvements in herself, both inside and outside of the cage. As the soft-spoken champion from Colorado gears up for her rematch with the highly out-spoken Jedrzejczyk later tonight at UFC 223, she’ll be looking to make another big stride in her career. A victory over Jedrzejczyk will force all naysayers to bow at Namajunas’ feet, understanding that she may represent the new era of female champions in UFC — one that doesn’t need to dress provocatively or talk trash in every interview to gain momentum among the masses.

We will find out one way or another if now is Namajunas’ time to shine and reign supreme over a talented 115-pound division. Jedrzejczyk may very well be the best fighter “Thug” will ever face in her entire career, so beating her for a second time will forever cement her legacy in this sport.

MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 223 fight card, starting with the FOX Sports 1 “Prelims” at 8 p.m. ET before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET.

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All Eyes On Emmett Tonight In Orlando!

The rise of Josh Emmett has been a quick one. After starching Ricardo Lamas with one punch back in December, the Team Alpha Male (TAM) standout will have yet another opportunity to improve his divisional ranking later tonight (Sat., Feb. 24, 2018) at UFC on FOX 28 from inside Amway Center in Orlando, Fla., when he takes on featherweight veteran Jeremy Stephens.

Needless to say, Stephens is going to test Emmett at every turn. He’s a skilled veteran with devilish power and is currently experiencing one of the best upticks in performance of his lengthy career. Unlike Emmett, Stephens has already headlined a few UFC events and understands what it takes to pace his output and production in a five-round affair.

Considering Stephens’ track record in UFC, it’s going to be difficult to find a fighter on the featherweight roster with more relevant experience. Luckily for Emmett, he has already demonstrated the ability to punch his way through a lack of experience and heavy odds when he smoked Lamas via knockout at UFC on FOX 26. Not only was “Bully” the first ranked opponent Emmett had ever encountered in UFC, but Emmett only had 30 days to prepare for the fight after filling in for former UFC champion Jose Aldo.

While few mainstream fight fans knew who Emmett was before his incredible finish over Lamas, it’s going to be hard to ignore the 32-year-old’s appeal moving forward. Emmett has always possessed a lot of potential as an up-and-coming prospect under the close watch of TAM head coach Urijah Faber, but he’s finally getting the high-profile matchups that his skill set requires. If it wasn’t for a split-decision loss to lightweight Desmond Green at UFC 210 last year Emmett would be currently undefeated at 14-0. Instead, that lone loss has helped propel Emmett’s urgency inside of the cage, which may or may not have played into his knockout of a former UFC title challenger.

Even though Emmett is unlikely to land a featherweight title shot with a win over Stephens this weekend due to the impending UFC 222 clash between top dogs Frankie Edgar and Brian Ortega, a victory over “Lil Heathen” should land Emmett a No. 1 contender’s bout sometime this summer. That’s incredible considering Emmett made his return to 145 pounds just four months ago.

MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC on FOX 28 fight card, starting with the Fight Pass “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 4:15 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on FOX at 6 p.m. ET, before the FOX main card start time at 8 p.m. ET.

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John Gotti III Eyes Pro MMA Debut at CES MMA 46 on Oct. 27

John Gotti III, the grandson of the late New York mobster John Gotti, will meet Johnny Adams in a featured CES MMA 46 pairing on Oct. 27 at Twin River Casino in Lincoln, Rhode Island.
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Stephen Thompson eyes September for next UFC fight, targets Jorge Masvidal showdown

After undergoing surgery to repair a bum knee, Stephen Thompson is itching to get back on the horse, eying a potential return to Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) action this September. And the two-time Welterweight title contender isn’t looking to ease back into it, telling Submission Radio he wants to face nothing but the cream of the 170-pound crop.

He wasn’t shy about throwing out some names as potential opponents, either. Jorge Masvidal included.

“The goal, to be honest, the goal is to be able to fight in September. I’m not really sure what fights they have in September. Late August, early September’s the plan, but we’ll talk with my management company, the UFC and see if we can get something going. I want to fight someone in the top five, but the question is who? I wanted Robbie Lawler to begin with, but I know he’s fighting Donald Cerrone coming up. Demian Maia, I hear he has the next title shot. Not really sure what Carlos Condit is doing. I don’t know if he’s back in his training, if he’s gonna retire. I know there was some talks about him doing that. I would love to fight Carlos Condit. The number five-ranked guy right now is Jorge Masvidal. I would love to fight him. Anybody in that top five I think would be perfect, man. I would love to fight you once this knee heals up, which is the truth. I wanna fight the best guys. He went three fight-minute rounds with one of the best in the division – and to be honest with you, I thought he won the fight – but it didn’t go his way, but I think we would put on a good show. He’s a tough opponent, good striking, good Muay Thai and I think it would just be fireworks.”

Indeed, Masvidal went toe-to-toe with Demian Maia at UFC 211, but ultimately came up short on the judges’ scorecards. Shortly thereafter, “Gamebred” called for a showdown against “Wonderboy.” And since Thompson — who came up short for the second time in his bid to dethrone Tyron Woodley at UFC 209 — is more than eager to oblige, it seems UFC matchmakers don’t have to work too hard to get this bout going.

Right?

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After meeting with UFC brass, Edson Barboza eyes Khabib Nurmagomedov or Tony Ferguson next

Edson Barboza wants a shot at the UFC lightweight championship, lineal or interim, and went to Las Vegas to find out what he needs to do to fulfill his dream.

Two months after scoring his third win in a row with one of the best knockouts of the year, stopping Beneil Dariush with a flying knee in Brazil, Barboza flew to Las Vegas to meet with the UFC brass and discuss what’s next for him.

“I went there with my manager, Alex Davis, to talk to the UFC and see where we’re at, what I need to do to get a chance for the belt,” Barboza told MMA Fighting. “We went there to talk and see what my next steps will be in the company.”

Barboza says he sat down with UFC president Dana White and matchmaker Sean Shelby, but didn’t get a clear answer to his question: after defeating Anthony Pettis, Gilbert Melendez and Dariush in 11 months, what more is needed to earn a fight for the UFC gold?

“When I talked to Sean Shelby and Dana, they said they also don’t know what is going to happen,” Barboza said. “They are waiting, too. There’s this possibility of fighting of the belt, the possibility of waiting, the possibility of fighting one more time. They don’t know. Nobody knows what’s going to happen in this division.

“Nobody knows the next steps for Khabib (Nurmagomedov) and (Tony) Ferguson. I think I’m the only one stepping up to fight. We’ll see what happens.”

Barboza was called out by new UFC signee Justin Gaethje, former WSOF lightweight champion, and was willing to take the fight if no one else was available. However, a left shoulder injury will keep him away from the Octagon a little longer.

“I can do jiu-jitsu drills, wrestling, but I can’t punch,” Barboza said of his injury. “I learned in my last fight that I can’t fight if I’m not 100 percent.”

The Brazilian lightweight will visit his doctor early next week to get a definitive answer about his return. However, a minute after saying it’s too risky to take fights when you’re not 100 percent, Barboza said he would do it again if given the opportunity to face Ferguson or Nurmagomedov.

“I’ll talk to the doctor again and he will let me know what I have to do,” Barboza said. “But I told the UFC I’m ready if they really want to give me a fight for the belt, that I’m ready for any date they want. If they want, I’d fight tomorrow.”

“That’s why I’m here for, to fight for the belt,” he continued. “But it doesn’t even need to be for an interim belt. One of those two, I’d fight them now, for sure. If it’s for the interim belt, even better.”

Currently ranked at No. 5 in the UFC lightweight division, Barboza sees Ferguson and Nurmagomedov as the only fights that make sense for him next. Rafael dos Anjos, who’s also ahead of him in the ranking, has moved up to welterweight, and Eddie Alvarez is not an option since they train together.

“My last fights were against guys ranked below me, and I think I deserve to fight someone ahead of me now, and they are the two only options,” Barboza said. “I’d fight them any time, even with an injured shoulder.”

“El Cucuy” scored a win over Barboza in 2015, part of his nine-fight winning streak, while “The Eagle” holds a perfect 24-0 MMA record with eight Octagon wins.

“I’m positive that I’d beat both of them if I’m there at my best,” says Barboza, who is leaning towards a rematch with Ferguson as the ideal scenario.

“A fight with Tony would be more interesting because it’s a rematch. I accepted that fight on four weeks’ notice — and this is not an excuse — and he landed that weird kick that everybody saw, and I was dizzy, but no excuses. A fight with him, full camp and no illegal kick, I’m sure I’d come out victorious.”

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Irene Aldana disagrees with scoring in Katlyn Chookaigan loss, eyes ‘Rocky’ comeback in next fight

Irene Aldana hasn’t quite had the UFC career many were expecting.

The Mexican fighter, who was picked up from Invicta FC and signed to the UFC last November, currently finds herself winless inside the Octagon. Aldana suffered a unanimous decision loss in her promotional debut against Leslie Smith, which won ‘Fight of the Night’ honors, and most recently dropped a controversial split-decision to Katlyn Chookagian last month at UFC 210.

Aldana recalls feeling shocked after hearing that the judges at UFC 210 scored the bout for Chookagian. The Lobo Gym fighter believes she did enough to win the contest according to the updated Unified Rules of MMA, which were implemented that night in Buffalo, N.Y.

“I analyzed it, and it was a very good fight, but I believe I won that,” Aldana told MMA Fighting. “I know it was a competitive bout, but I thought I won. Many of her strikes were hitting air. When we were in the back warming up before the fight, the referee [Todd Anderson] came up to us and explained the rules to us. When he explained the rules, he said that damage and the effectiveness of the strikes were going to count more than the striking volume.

“So after he said that, we went by that, and that’s why I didn’t focus on throwing too many strikes. I focused more on actually connecting them. I saw myself fighting more offensive, moving forward more, putting the pressure, and connecting the better shots of the fight. So yeah, it was very disappointing. After the fight, we all thought that I won and even her corner came to congratulate us, and you can see it in their expressions, so I think they also thought I won. But things happen. I’m someone that doesn’t like to leave it in the hands of the judges. I’m someone that likes to finish fights, and that was my intention in this bout, but unfortunately I wasn’t able to get it done. It’s one more experience in the books, one more lesson learned, and next time, I’lll try my hardest to not leave it in the hands of the judges.”

Following the bout, Aldana says that Dana White, Sean Shelby, Bruce Buffer came up to her to congratulate her on her fight. This gave the 29-year-old fighter confidence that she would be getting a third fight in the UFC. Aldana, who’s considered one of the best female prospects to come out of Latin America, is certainly not happy with the way things have gone in her UFC run, but she is proud to have given fans exciting fights in both of her performances.

“I’m a little sad with the way things have turned out,” Aldana explained. “But I’m not disappointed with my performances because I know that in both fights, I’ve given my best and people have stood up from their seats to applaud and that says something about my work.

“I’ll never show up to give a mediocre performance or a boring fight. In a way, I’m winning a lot of experience. I think I’ve taken tough challenges, and I’ve managed to do a lot with the little experience I have. I’ve been fighting women that have 20 years of experience, so I think I’m on the right path and I’m taking these experiences as motivation. I’m not sure what’s going to happen, but I know that my career is at stake for my third fight, and I have to do a Rocky-like comeback to show that I belong in the UFC.”

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John Lineker eyes late July return to the UFC after surgery for broken jaw

John Lineker is gearing up for his return to the Octagon.

The bantamweight striker, who fractured his jaw in the first round against T.J. Dillashaw in December, is not cleared to compete just yet, but he’s getting close to the finish line.

“I’m already training well,” Lineker told MMA Fighting. “I can’t get hit in the head yet. I’m using a helmet, but I’m already training well.”

Lineker was on a six-fight winning streak when he faced Dillashaw at UFC 207, and says he will be ready to step back inside the cage by the end of July

The Brazilian is currently ranked at No. 4 in the bantamwe.ight division, and former champion Dominick Cruz, one of the fighters he always wanted to face since moving up from 125 pounds, is the only bantamweight ranked above him who currently doesn’t have a fight booked.

However, “Hands of Stone” expects to face someone else in his return.

“I don’t believe the UFC will give me Dominick Cruz,” Lineker said. “They will definitely give me someone else. I’m not sure who I’ll fight next, but it’s definitely not Dominick Cruz.

“I’m here to fight anyone. I want to go back in there and put on a fight.”

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John Lineker eyes late July return to the UFC after surgery for broken jaw

John Lineker is gearing up for his return to the Octagon.

The bantamweight striker, who fractured his jaw in the first round against T.J. Dillashaw in December, is not cleared to compete just yet, but he’s getting close to the finish line.

“I’m already training well,” Lineker told MMA Fighting. “I can’t get hit in the head yet. I’m using a helmet, but I’m already training well.”

Lineker was on a six-fight winning streak when he faced Dillashaw at UFC 207, and says he will be ready to step back inside the cage by the end of July

The Brazilian is currently ranked at No. 4 in the bantamwe.ight division, and former champion Dominick Cruz, one of the fighters he always wanted to face since moving up from 125 pounds, is the only bantamweight ranked above him who currently doesn’t have a fight booked.

However, “Hands of Stone” expects to face someone else in his return.

“I don’t believe the UFC will give me Dominick Cruz,” Lineker said. “They will definitely give me someone else. I’m not sure who I’ll fight next, but it’s definitely not Dominick Cruz.

“I’m here to fight anyone. I want to go back in there and put on a fight.”

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John Lineker eyes late July return to the UFC after surgery for broken jaw

John Lineker is gearing up for his return to the Octagon.

The bantamweight striker, who fractured his jaw in the first round against T.J. Dillashaw in December, is not cleared to compete just yet, but he’s getting close to the finish line.

“I’m already training well,” Lineker told MMA Fighting. “I can’t get hit in the head yet. I’m using a helmet, but I’m already training well.”

Lineker was on a six-fight winning streak when he faced Dillashaw at UFC 207, and says he will be ready to step back inside the cage by the end of July

The Brazilian is currently ranked at No. 4 in the bantamwe.ight division, and former champion Dominick Cruz, one of the fighters he always wanted to face since moving up from 125 pounds, is the only bantamweight ranked above him who currently doesn’t have a fight booked.

However, “Hands of Stone” expects to face someone else in his return.

“I don’t believe the UFC will give me Dominick Cruz,” Lineker said. “They will definitely give me someone else. I’m not sure who I’ll fight next, but it’s definitely not Dominick Cruz.

“I’m here to fight anyone. I want to go back in there and put on a fight.”

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John Lineker eyes late July return to the UFC after surgery for broken jaw

John Lineker is gearing up for his return to the Octagon.

The bantamweight striker, who fractured his jaw in the first round against T.J. Dillashaw in December, is not cleared to compete just yet, but he’s getting close to the finish line.

“I’m already training well,” Lineker told MMA Fighting. “I can’t get hit in the head yet. I’m using a helmet, but I’m already training well.”

Lineker was on a six-fight winning streak when he faced Dillashaw at UFC 207, and says he will be ready to step back inside the cage by the end of July

The Brazilian is currently ranked at No. 4 in the bantamwe.ight division, and former champion Dominick Cruz, one of the fighters he always wanted to face since moving up from 125 pounds, is the only bantamweight ranked above him who currently doesn’t have a fight booked.

However, “Hands of Stone” expects to face someone else in his return.

“I don’t believe the UFC will give me Dominick Cruz,” Lineker said. “They will definitely give me someone else. I’m not sure who I’ll fight next, but it’s definitely not Dominick Cruz.

“I’m here to fight anyone. I want to go back in there and put on a fight.”

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