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McKee Ready For Lawrence, Ignoring ‘Little Girl Drama’ Coming From McGregor Camp

Bellator 197: “Chandler vs. Girtz” comes to Family Center Arena in St. Charles, Mo., on April 13, 2018, featuring a main event between former Lightweight champion “Iron” Michael Chandler (17-4) against hard-hitting fellow long-time Bellator veteran, Brandon Girtz (15-7).

Elsewhere on the Paramount Network-televised card, two of the promotion’s top-ranked Featherweights will clash as one seeks to vault ahead of the pack, while the other looks to solidify his place at the front of the line. Justin Lawrence (11-4) is coming off two straight wins, but has previously lost fights to Emmanuel Sanchez and John Teixeira, which could have earned him contender status. Meanwhile, the sensational A.J. McKee (10-0) keeps on rolling through the competition. Only 30 percent of McKee’s fights have gone to a decision, and with his third round rear-naked choke at Bellator 187, he’s also proven he can bounce back late in a contest to find yet another big finish.

The subject of “Notorious” Conor McGregor was an unavoidable topic with A.J. McKee given that there is unfinished business between McKee and his fellow undefeated, friend, James Gallagher. I asked McKee for his comments on McGregor’s antics in Brooklyn the same day this interview was recorded.

“It’s Conor, man! He’s a wild man, he’s a fighting Irish, he’s wild. That’s one thing I’ve noticed about the Irish people — they’re wild. But, uhh, some of them back their shit up and some of them don’t. Some of them just like to talk. My previous fight, Brian Moore, he wasn’t a talker, but he came to fight. It was a good fight, fun fight, wish I would have trained more than three weeks for the fight but, HEY, I went in there and did what I had to do.”

McGregor’s antics at Bellator 187 also made headlines, although he wasn’t jumping in the cage a second time when Straight Blast Gym Ireland’s Moore got submitted. McKee promises that if the undefeated Gallagher wants some he can get some, too.

“Whatever!! That dude’s trash, too. He called me a pussy on national television, we’re supposed to fight, yet you’ve taken three (or) four different fights with other people and you still haven’t even attempted to fight me. You want to fight me, and then you pull out of a fight, and then you tell me you want to fight me, but you’re supposedly hurt. A week later you’re talking about you want a fight again. So are you hurt or do you want to fight? It’s a little girl drama. I think he’s scared to fight right now.”

Obviously, there’s no love lost between McKee and anybody at SBG, but the item on the docket at Bellator 197 says Justin Lawrence and not James Gallagher. McKee says he’s fully prepared for war.

“Man, Justin Lawrence is a great fighter. He’s a great opportunity for me to go out there and showcase my skills and really get a top-level contender. I feel like I haven’t fought anyone who’s on my level yet. I’ve kind of just been playing around and taking fights with mediocre guys who I can get away with training for (only) three weeks for a fight and winning, you know? Not really going into a fight prepared. Justin Lawrence isn’t someone that you can do that with. You’ve got to show up prepared, you’ve got to put in the full eight-week camp, and you’ve got to go out there and put on a show and bring the fight to him.”

Lawrence comes into Bellator 197 off back-to-back wins over Treston Thomison and Andrew Natividad. And he’ll also have the support of all the Missouri natives who’ve come to see their native son compete.

“That’s motivation! I’ve had haters motivate me my entire life. I came from nothing so what else are you supposed to do? You’re not supposed to make it if you’re coming from nothing so that’s just motivating me. When they sat there and sang their ‘ole ole ole’ (in Ireland) the whole time I laughed at them — and that thing was roaring loud. It was hilarious to me! So it’s motivation for me and I’m really looking forward to it. It’s gonna be fun and Justin Lawrence thanks for this opportunity. Thanks for making me train and preparing me to actually have to fight, you know?”

Even through all of McKee’s self-assured swagger you find a running thread of respect for Lawrence through his words. However, with current champion Patricio “Pitbull” Freire that respect dwindles.

“I’m waiting for Pitbull. I told him! I got a leash and a kennel waiting for him. There’s a couple other things I want to accomplish (first) before then. My father’s still fighting so I’m looking forward to doing a father-son fight (card) and competing with my dad. No one’s competed as professional athletes together besides in baseball so for this to be such a hands-on sport I’m really looking forward to breaking more history and being able to do that with him. But, Pitbull, he knows he’s got it coming! 2018 he’s losing that belt. It’s going to be mine.”

Above all else, McKee promises that this will be the best version of him who we’ve ever seen.

“I don’t get tired, I never get tired unless I’m not training of course, and that kind of showed in my last fight. We still know I can dig deep and pull out a W even when I’m tired. That’s a good thing to know and training this full eight weeks, man, (I’m) going to be phenomenal. Nothing against Justin Lawrence, he’s a great fighter, (but) I haven’t taken a fight over 50 percent yet. The fight I fought at 50 percent was Mazzotta and look how that finished. Being 80-90 percent ready is fun, you know? It’s fun and I’m ready to go in there and see what I can actually accomplish and do with a full eight-week camp and feeling almost 100 percent.”

Complete audio of our interview is embedded above, and complete coverage of “Chandler vs. Girtz” resides here at MMAmania.com all week long.

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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Brock Lesnar Protege, Logan Storley, Learned What Not To Do From Conor McGregor

Bellator 197: “Chandler vs. Girtz” comes to Family Center Arena in St. Charles, Mo., this Friday night (April 13, 2018), featuring former Lightweight champion “Iron” Michael Chandler (17-4) against fellow long-time promotion veteran, Brandon Girtz (15-7), in the main event of the evening.

Earlier in the night, two rising stars of the Welterweight division — “Storm” Logan Storley (7-0) and Joaquin Buckley (8-1) — will get their time to shine under the bright lights of the main card. Buckley certainly appreciates the opportunity — he’s fighting very close to home in St. Louis, coming in hot with back-to-back wins over Justin Patterson and Vinicius de Jesus.

Storley is just as impressive, though. Hailing from the mean streets of Webster, S.D., Storley has finished almost all of his opponents to date as a professional, with the resilient Matt Secor most recently taking him to the judges scorecards at Bellator 186.

MMAmania.com recently chatted with Storley about his quest to improve to keep his perfect MMA record intact, having to fight against the hometown favorite, and like every fighter of late his take on Conor McGregor’s rampage.

“Obviously, that was planned before he got there, because otherwise his bodyguards and everyone else…. I mean, it wouldn’t have happened. It was definitely planned but, it got a little more out of hand than he thought it was going to. But, you know, he’ll pay his fine and do whatever and have his charges against him. But, if he does fight Khabib (Nurmagomedov), how many more pay-per-views did that just sell?”

It’s hard to say that McGregor’s future payday is justified by six other fighters losing theirs as a result of his behavior. Storley’s take on it, though, is that Conor’s Gonna Conor, regardless of the consequences.

“Yeah — and that’s what he’s been doing. You know, he’s been doing that for his last few fights. You know, and so, that’s just — that’s him. That’s what he does and whether that’s how to do it (or not) you know there’s only one Conor. I guess for me that’s not who I am. It doesn’t affect my life or what I do as an athlete or how I conduct myself.”

At this point we should all be thankful there’s only one Conor McGregor. Moving on, though, Storley does have an important fight coming up at Bellator 197 against the locally popular Joaquin Buckley.

“That’s good for him, but it really doesn’t make a difference once he steps in the cage so I’m not too worried about it.”

There’s little for Storley to worry about with 85 percent of his fights (six of seven) being finished and 71 percent of all his matches ending in round one. You might think that would be the reason for his “Storm” nickname, but Storley calls it a happy accident.

“I think it was more of a thing in college. I don’t use it that much. I don’t use it when they announce me so I guess it was just my Twitter handle. Yeah, I don’t know why I chose that. I think it just sounded good.”

Coincidence or not, it would be apropos to his fight style, which Storley describes as a consequence of his work ethic leading up to each match.

“YI can throw shots and not be worried about getting taken down and I’m not worried about getting tired. You know, you’re gonna get tired in a fight. That’s gonna happen. It’s just the fact that … can you mentally push on? It might look sloppy, it might not look perfect, but there’s not a lot of guys who have been through a college grind that fight in Bellator or UFC. Very few guys understand what that’s truly like.”

One of the guys who does understand is fellow University of Minnesota alum Brock Lesnar. Storley has received invaluable advice from Lesnar in wrestling as a very young man.

“I’ve wrestled since I was five years old. Brock Lesnar’s from my home town (of Webster) so I spent some time with him as a freshman and sophomore when he lived in Alexandria and trained out of his Death Clutch gym over there. I’d go up there and see him. Then I had three amateur fights in high school, and then my senior year I went back up to Brock’s and got to spend time with Tony Ferguson when he was on The Ultimate Fighter. That’s kind of when I knew this is what I want to do after I was done competing in college.”

Check this out:

Even if Lesnar wasn’t the hometown hero and a childhood mentor, there’s no doubt Storley would have followed the twists and turns of Lesnar’s career like the rest of us. To Storley, it’s extra impressive though to see what a kid from South Dakota can achieve.

“It’s cool to see a guy from your same hometown, small town, be successful and you know he’s helped me out along the way, so obviously I appreciate it.”

I asked Storley if there’s something special in the water for a town of only about 1,900 people to continually turn out great wrestlers and future fighters.

“There’s something about a small Midwest town’s blue collar mentality of hard work. Waking up during the winter every morning, it’s minus five degrees outside, but you still have to go about your day. It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter how cold it is, doesn’t matter how you feel. I grew up on a farm, my dad was a farmer, and it didn’t matter how he felt — work still needed to be done. Cows still need to be fed, fields, etc. That’s something that you take with you now (in fighting).”

Now is the time for the fruits of all that labor to pay off in a main card fight with Joaquin Buckley.

“He’s an explosive southpaw, you know he’s a tough kid, he’s a good kid and has a wrestling background as well. I’m prepared. I’ve been back here since January getting ready, just improving, and I’m ready for this fight. He’s a tough kid and at this level that’s what it is. Everyone you fight is tough.”

Look forward to a tough, gritty fight between two hard working kids at Bellator 197 in Missouri this weekend. Meanwhile, complete audio of our interview is embedded above, and complete coverage of “Chandler vs. Girtz” resides here at MMAmania.com all week long.

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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All Fighters Removed From UFC 223 Due To McGregor Fiasco Will Be Paid

While a slew of fighters will be unable to compete tomorrow night (Sat., April 7, 2018) at UFC 223 from inside Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, at least they’ll be getting paid.

Following an unexpected attack on a bus by UFC superstar Conor McGregor yesterday (Thurs., April 5, 2018) during UFC 223’s media day, enough injuries surfaced to force a couple of fighters out of this weekend’s festivities. Not only was Michael Chiesa forced out of his lightweight tilt with Anthony Pettis after sustaining lacerations to his face from McGregor throwing a dolly through a glass window, but Ray Borg had to pull out of his flyweight matchup with Brandon Moreno after reportedly having trouble seeing.

McGregor’s actions were absolutely disgusting and has been taken care of by the NYPD, but where does all of this leave the fighters who were forced out of UFC 223 at the hands of a mad man?

Luckily, UFC president Dana White revealed earlier today (h/t Damon Martin) that each and every fighter removed from UFC 223 due to McGregor’s insane actions will be paid. Of course, that list doesn’t include Artem Lobov, who was expected to fight Alex Caceres on the Fight Pass undercard before voluntarily partaking in McGregor’s criminal attack.

Here are the fighters slated to be paid their show money:

Considering the unpredictability of something like this actually happening, UFC more or less had to pay the fighters that were negatively affected by McGregor’s stunt. Those fighters were simply going through the motions of fight week before enduring shattered glass and physical threats by a group of nearly 20 men.

This was one crazy week for the world of combat sports, but at least UFC is paying it forward when it matters most.

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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Watch ‘Bullet’ Show Off Bruised Elbows From UFC Belem

Remember when former UFC women’s bantamweight title challenger Valentina Shevchenko put together one of the most dominant one-sided beatdowns ever in her flyweight debut opposite Priscila Cachoeira at UFC Fight Night 125 in Belem, Brazil, this past February?

Well, despite that submission victory over Cachoeira being nearly two months in the book, “Bullet” is still feeling the after effects of her destruction in South America.

Shevchenko, 30, hurt Cachoeira so badly with ground-and-pound before choking her out in the second frame that her elbows are still battered and bruised. Being in the gym and using those same elbows to train isn’t going to help the Russian’s healing process, but Shevchenko was proud to show off her face-splitting bows earlier this week in the following Instagram post:

#FightersLife #MuaythaiElbow

A post shared by Valentina Shevchenko (@bulletvalentina) on

“I was thinking, No, I cannot believe that it’s still after from my last in Belem, I still have this injury on my elbow,” Shevchenko said.

“This is what I have — full-of-bruises elbow,” Shevchenko added after taking off her rash guards.

Pretty gnarly, huh?

We see a lot of ferocious ground-and-pound each and every week in mixed martial arts (MMA), especially when UFC is on display, but we rarely see aftermath like this two months removed from a fight. Shevchenko’s complete and utter decimation of Cachoeira didn’t just earn her her first UFC victory at 125 pounds, but it scored her these awesome battle wounds.

Look for Shevchenko to parlay her recent victory at UFC Belem into an eventual title shot with current champion Nicco Montano. And if Cachoeira’s demise is any indication of what “Bullet” can do one weight class lower than her usual stomping grounds then the entire flyweight division better take a vacation to Barbados.

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Brazilian Fighter in Coma From Weight Cut

While head trauma and CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy) seem to be the medical issue du jour plaguing the sport, there’s another problem nipping at the heels of fighter safety.

I am of course talking about weight cutting.

We’ve had so many UFC fights scrapped because of failed weight cuts. Uriah Hall fell prey to a bad cut recently, and the reason Khabib Nurmagomedov hasn’t faced Tony Ferguson already is because of one. It’s a real problem.

Sadly, MMAFighting has some news about a Brazilian minor league fighter who’s been in a coma because of a weight cut gone bad.

Mark my words, this issue is going to get worse before it gets better.

As per MMAFighting:

MMA fighter Alexandre Pereira Silva continues to fight for his life in Brazil.

Silva was preparing to make his professional MMA debut at Shooto Brazil 80 in Rio de Janeiro on Jan. 28 when he had complications while cutting weight and was rushed to a hospital on weigh-in day.

Silva’s father, Magno Pereira, spoke with MMA Fighting on Thursday and gave more details on his son’s current condition. Silva suffered multiple seizures while cutting weight and suffered a heart attack in the hospital, and has been in a coma for two months, Pereira said.

Silva was recently transferred to the Sao Francisco de Assis hospital in Rio de Janeiro.

According to Pereira, Silva suffered rhabdomyolysis, which caused internal bleeding, and he had a blood clot in the brain. Doctors told Pereira and his wife, Eliane Silva, that the MMA fighter would need a miracle to survive when he first arrived in the hospital.

Silva is currently battling an infection, Pereira said, and his organs that stopped working recently are now functioning again. There’s still a risk that Silva could go in a vegetative state. He remains in critical condition in the intensive-care unit.

The post Brazilian Fighter in Coma From Weight Cut appeared first on Caged Insider.

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Brazilian Fighter in Coma From Weight Cut

While head trauma and CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy) seem to be the medical issue du jour plaguing the sport, there’s another problem nipping at the heels of fighter safety.

I am of course talking about weight cutting.

We’ve had so many UFC fights scrapped because of failed weight cuts. Uriah Hall fell prey to a bad cut recently, and the reason Khabib Nurmagomedov hasn’t faced Tony Ferguson already is because of one. It’s a real problem.

Sadly, MMAFighting has some news about a Brazilian minor league fighter who’s been in a coma because of a weight cut gone bad.

Mark my words, this issue is going to get worse before it gets better.

As per MMAFighting:

MMA fighter Alexandre Pereira Silva continues to fight for his life in Brazil.

Silva was preparing to make his professional MMA debut at Shooto Brazil 80 in Rio de Janeiro on Jan. 28 when he had complications while cutting weight and was rushed to a hospital on weigh-in day.

Silva’s father, Magno Pereira, spoke with MMA Fighting on Thursday and gave more details on his son’s current condition. Silva suffered multiple seizures while cutting weight and suffered a heart attack in the hospital, and has been in a coma for two months, Pereira said.

Silva was recently transferred to the Sao Francisco de Assis hospital in Rio de Janeiro.

According to Pereira, Silva suffered rhabdomyolysis, which caused internal bleeding, and he had a blood clot in the brain. Doctors told Pereira and his wife, Eliane Silva, that the MMA fighter would need a miracle to survive when he first arrived in the hospital.

Silva is currently battling an infection, Pereira said, and his organs that stopped working recently are now functioning again. There’s still a risk that Silva could go in a vegetative state. He remains in critical condition in the intensive-care unit.

The post Brazilian Fighter in Coma From Weight Cut appeared first on Caged Insider.

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Holloway Won’t Take S**t From ‘Bully’ McGregor

The UFC featherweight champ is sick of the random bullying from the guy that’s not even in his weight class.

Featherweight champion Max Holloway is in a bit of an interesting position when it comes to Conor McGregor. He’s the only UFC fighter at 145 pounds that McGregor failed to finish, and has only gotten better since their initial run-in back in 2013. But McGregor has moved on to lightweight and Holloway plans on staying at featherweight and piling up title defenses.

That hasn’t stopped McGregor from taking regular pot shots at Holloway for no apparent reason.

“The guy keeps jabbing at me and jabbing at me,” Holloway said on The MMA Hour. “And every time I reply they’re like, ‘Why are you doing this? Why are you replying?’ I’m like, ‘Did you guys ever get picked on? You guys like getting picked on? Stand up for your damn self.’ Then the one time I finally — this guy goes and throws a juicy underhand pitch, I take a swing at it and hit it out of the park, and everybody’s all salty. They’re like, ‘Aw, you’re looking for a money [fight].’”

That juicy underhand would probably be this back and forth between the two from the beginning of February. Not that it’s the only time they’ve sparred on social media. But as far as Holloway is concerned, it’s not about angling for a fight. It’s about shutting up a bully.

“I ain’t looking for a money fight,” Max declared. “This guy’s been trying to bully me the whole time. He’s enjoying his retired life, talking about all this kind of wild stuff, and then the one time I attack him, you guys get on me. Get out of here with that stuff. I know what’s on the timetable, and the timetable right now is Ortega, so that’s my full focus.”

The timetable for the Ortega fight is actually still up in the air pending an ankle injury from Holloway, but preliminary plans have the match landing on UFC 226 in July or 227 in August. As for McGregor, many are expecting him to face the winner of the big Tony Ferguson vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov fight at UFC 223 on April 7th.

Until Conor has an actual opponent sorted out, we wouldn’t be surprised if the random sniping at Holloway continues.

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Holloway Won’t Take S**t From ‘Bully’ McGregor

The UFC featherweight champ is sick of the random bullying from the guy that’s not even in his weight class.

Featherweight champion Max Holloway is in a bit of an interesting position when it comes to Conor McGregor. He’s the only UFC fighter at 145 pounds that McGregor failed to finish, and has only gotten better since their initial run-in back in 2013. But McGregor has moved on to lightweight and Holloway plans on staying at featherweight and piling up title defenses.

That hasn’t stopped McGregor from taking regular pot shots at Holloway for no apparent reason.

“The guy keeps jabbing at me and jabbing at me,” Holloway said on The MMA Hour. “And every time I reply they’re like, ‘Why are you doing this? Why are you replying?’ I’m like, ‘Did you guys ever get picked on? You guys like getting picked on? Stand up for your damn self.’ Then the one time I finally — this guy goes and throws a juicy underhand pitch, I take a swing at it and hit it out of the park, and everybody’s all salty. They’re like, ‘Aw, you’re looking for a money [fight].’”

That juicy underhand would probably be this back and forth between the two from the beginning of February. Not that it’s the only time they’ve sparred on social media. But as far as Holloway is concerned, it’s not about angling for a fight. It’s about shutting up a bully.

“I ain’t looking for a money fight,” Max declared. “This guy’s been trying to bully me the whole time. He’s enjoying his retired life, talking about all this kind of wild stuff, and then the one time I attack him, you guys get on me. Get out of here with that stuff. I know what’s on the timetable, and the timetable right now is Ortega, so that’s my full focus.”

The timetable for the Ortega fight is actually still up in the air pending an ankle injury from Holloway, but preliminary plans have the match landing on UFC 226 in July or 227 in August. As for McGregor, many are expecting him to face the winner of the big Tony Ferguson vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov fight at UFC 223 on April 7th.

Until Conor has an actual opponent sorted out, we wouldn’t be surprised if the random sniping at Holloway continues.

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Amanda Nunes vs Raquel Pennington staredown video from UFC 224 media day

Big Nog in the house!

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) held a special media day on Tuesday (March 20) to help promote the women’s bantamweight title fight between current division champion Amanda Nunes and top contender Raquel Pennington, who collide in the upcoming UFC 224 pay-per-view (PPV) main event on May 12 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Nunes (15-4) hasn’t competed since Sept. of 2017 where she outpointed Valentina Shevchenko at UFC 215. Prior to that, “Lioness” had an even better showing by knocking out former division titleholder Ronda Rousey in under two minutes.

Hear “Rowdy’s” take on that loss here.

As for Pennington (9-5), she fought her way up the 135-pound ladder by winning four in a row and hasn’t tasted defeat since dropping a close split-decision to another former champion, Holly Holm, way back in 2015.

The winner could be in line for this super fight.

To see who else is competing at the upcoming UFC 224 combat sports extravaganza, which also features the all-Brazilian co-main event between former champions Vitor Belfort and Lyoto Machida, click here.

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Biggest Winners, Losers From UFC ‘London’

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) was back in action last night (Sat., March 17, 2018) as UFC Fight Night 127 took place inside O2 Arena in London, England. In the main event of the evening, Alexander Volkov knocked out Fabricio Werdum in a Heavyweight bout (recap). In the co-main event, Jan Blachowicz got some sweet revenge on Jimi Manuwa by outclassing the British banger.

Biggest Winner: Alexander Volkov

That is now six straight wins for “Drago,” who is undefeated so far inside the Octagon. His win over Werdum, though, is the biggest of his entire 10-year career. Indeed, Volkov played a pretty tactical game with Fabricio, who had his shining moments before Volkov put him down for the count in the fourth and final round. Afterward, Alexander proclaimed his intent on coming after the title, and though it won’t be there next, he put himself in good position to crack the top five, and at least get a No. 1 contender bout fairly soon. The sky is the limit for the towering heavyweight, who just put an entire division on notice.

Runner Up: Jan Blachowicz

A few years ago, Jan got worked by Manuwa inside the Octagon. Fast forward to present day, and the Poland pugilist earned some sweet get-back by outclassing “Poster Boy.” But he had to work for it though, as Jimi was hell-bent on staking his claim as the No. 1 Light Heavyweight contender. But after three rounds of intense action that saw them earn an extra $ 50,000 for “Fight of the Night,” Jan proved victorious, giving him his third straight win in a highly-competitive 205-pound weight class. Expect bigger things for Jan moving forward, who will move up the rankings and earn himself an even bigger challenge in his next outing.

Biggest Loser: Fabricio Werdum

“Vai Cavalo’s” title shot went out the window after getting slept by Volkov. It truly is a tough blow for Fabricio, as he will now have to work that much harder to even get back into contention. With plenty of young guns like Curtis Blaydes working up the mountain and old vets like Cain Velasquez on the comeback trail, “Vai Cavalo” has his work cut out for him. Werdum is now 3-3 in his last six fights, which isn’t all that good for the No. 3 ranked big man in the land. Expect him to drop down a few pegs with his latest loss, which snapped his two fight win streak. Still, Fabricio is as experienced as they come, so working hard isn’t anything new to him.

For full UFC Fight Night 127: “Werdum vs Volkov” play-by-play updates and results click here.

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