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Biggest Winners, Loser From UFC Atlantic City

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returned to the hurt business last night (Sat., April 21, 2018) for UFC Fight Night 128 in Atlantic City, New Jersey, which was headlined by a barn-burner of a lightweight showdown that saw Kevin Lee absolutely dominate Edson Barboza for nearly five round before the action was stopped in the final frame (recap).

Also, Frankie Edgar handed Cub Swanson his second straight defeat after outscoring him on the judges scorecards after three rounds of action.

Biggest Winner: Kevin Lee

Lee proclaimed he would beat Barboza in all facets of the fight game and beat on the Brazilian bomber worse that what Khabib Nurmagomedov did, and he accomplished both feats. Indeed, from the opening bell Lee took it to Edson, taking him down at will and absolutely crushed him with ground and pound action. When on the feet, Lee didn’t shy away from striking with the best in the division, and though he ate a few good shots, even almost getting finished with a spinning wheel kick, Kevin shook them all off and went back to work. At the end of every round, Barboza looked like a shell of a man, beaten to a pulp, ultimately getting both of eyes nearly shut. And though he seemed to be catching his second wind in the final round, it seemed the ringside doctor made the right choice to put an end to the beating. Now, Lee will set his sights on a bigger fight next, though it won’t be “Khabib time,” as two — maybe three —men are ahead of him at the moment. Still, he firmly looked like a legit contender in the division.

Runner Up: Dan Hooker

Hooker is slowly starting to make a name for himself in the Lightweight division, as he has now won three in a row, including his devastating first round knockout of longtime Octagon veteran, Jim Miller (see it again here). After four years of fighting inside the eight-walled cage, it seems Hooker is ready to take the leap into the big fights, and he wasted no time in calling out Paul Felder to his face during his post-fight victory speech. I really like what Hooker is doing, going in and taking care of business and looking for the next big fight. He’s taken out two longtime veterans and a rising prospect in back-to-back-to-back fights. I expect bigger things from him moving forward.

Honorable mention: Frankie Edgar

50 days after suffering the first stoppage loss of his mixed martial arts (MMA) career, Edgar made a quick turnaround and scored his second win over Cub Swanson after 15 minutes of action. To stack the cards a bit more against Frankie, it was revealed he lost his father and his grandfather all in a span of week’s time. Indeed, “The Answer” powered through all of his persona adversity and picked up a big win in front of his hometown crowd. Whether or not he gets yet another shot at the title, remains to be seen. For now, it might be best for Frankie to spend some time with his family, mourn the loss of his loved ones and see how the division plays itself out in the next few months.

Biggest Loser: Edson Barboza

You never would’ve imagined Edson would suffer another major beating shut four months after getting worked by Khabib Nurmagomedov. But that’s just what happened after Kevin Lee took it to him for nearly 25 minutes. Sure, Edson has a few bright spots, but Lee had his way with him, and then some. The two bloody and brutal defeats can definitely take a toll on Edson’s body and his mind. How he bounces back from his last loss is tough to call, but one thing is certain, he needs to brush up on his wrestling and takedown defense, because you better believe his next opponent has a very clear blueprint on front of him.

For complete Fight Night 128 results, including play-by-play, click here

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Recovered from Shoulder Surgery, Alexander Gustafsson Awaits ‘Meaningful Offer’ from UFC

Alexander Gustafsson is fully healthy and ready to return to the Octagon, but he isn’t exactly sure what his next move will be given the current state of the light heavyweight division.
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Recovered from Shoulder Surgery, Alexander Gustafsson Awaits ‘Meaningful Offer’ from UFC

Alexander Gustafsson is fully healthy and ready to return to the Octagon, but he isn’t exactly sure what his next move will be given the current state of the light heavyweight division.
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Recovered from Shoulder Surgery, Alexander Gustafsson Awaits ‘Meaningful Offer’ from UFC

Alexander Gustafsson is fully healthy and ready to return to the Octagon, but he isn’t exactly sure what his next move will be given the current state of the light heavyweight division.
Recent News on Sherdog.com

Dustin Poirier Displays Battered Leg from Justin Gaethje Bout at UFC on Fox 29

Dustin Poirier’s lead leg took a beating at UFC on Fox 29, but he was still able to emerge with a fourth-round technical knockout win over Justin Gaethje in an entertaining main event.
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Biggest Winners, Loser From UFC Glendale 

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returned to the hurt business last night (Sat., April 14, 2018) for UFC on FOX 29 in Glendale, Arizona, which was headlined by a barn-burner of a lightweight showdown that saw Dustin Poirier knock out Justin Gaethje in the fourth round.

Also, Brazilian welterweight Alex Oliveira got back on the winning track by upsetting former UFC titleholder Carlos Condit via second-round submission in the co-main event.

Biggest Winner: Dustin Poirier

“The Diamond” came in to the fight with one objective: Cement himself as a No. 1 contender. And boy did he make a case for himself. After taking some damage early on, especially from non-stop leg kicks from Gaethje, which Poirier simply failed to check time and time again, ‘Diamond” seemed to be fading from damage sustained.

After a few unfortunate eye-pokes, and a brief stall in action, we somehow found ourselves in the fourth round of a fight many expected to be done early. A few seconds into the round, Poirier clipped “Highlight” with a clean straight left that had him on wobbly legs. Like a patient lion stalking his prey, Poirier went in for the kill in a rather calm manner, making sure not blow his load or leave an opening to get clipped himself. But Gaethje was out on his feet, anyway, as Poirier continued to land one shot after another until referee Herb Dean thankfully but an end to the punishment, much to the chagrin of Gaethje.

Poirier called for a shot at Khabib Nurmagomedov’s lightweight strap afterward, but since Conor McGregor is seemingly on his way back, he will have to wait a bit longer to punch his ticket to the big dance.

Runner Up: Alex Oliveira

Facing Carlos Condit on a few weeks notice isn’t normally an ideal situation. That said, it was one “Cowboy” simply couldn’t pass up after Matt Brown was forced out of the fight with a torn ACL.

The Brazilian made the most of it, going to war with “The Natural Born Killer” and living to tell that tale. And not only that, notching the biggest win of his combat career by submitting Condit with a guillotine choke in the second round. Prior to that, however, Oliveira clipped Condit with an upkick that wobbled the bloody fighter, setting him up for the perfect finish.

It’s a huge win for the Brazilian bomber, who gets back into the win column after coming up short against Yancy Medeiros in his previous outing. And based on his last three Octagon appearances, Oliveira is starting to become must-see TV.

Biggest Loser: Carlos Condit

Condit’s comeback run has not been what he had imagined after ending his retirement last year. After losing to Neil Magny at UFC 219, “The Natural Born Killer” was hoping to get back on track with a big win over a late replacement in Oliveira.

Mission failed.

With a submission loss at the hands of “Cowboy,” Condit drops to 0-4 in his last four outings. It’s a bad stretch for anyone. But when it happens to a former champion and a fan favorite, the impact resonates a bit more. It’s not a pretty sight to see watching a fighter go downhill, but that’s the nature of the sport we love to watch.

Condit has accomplished a lot throughout his mixed martial arts (MMA) career, but it remains to be seen if he’ll continue to try to collect his first win in two years or if he goes back to the life of retirement.

For complete UFC on FOX 29 results and coverage click here.

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Combate Estrellas I Results From Los Angeles

Rudy Morales (L) covers up against Jose “Froggy” Estrada (R) at Combate Estrellas on April 13 in Los Angeles.

Combate Americas, the world’s premier hispanic mixed martial arts (MMA) sports series, was hoping to make a huge splash in its live debut on Univision, following last month’s multi-year programming deal.

I think “The City of Angels” is underwater.

Combate Estrellas I blew the roof off The Shrine in Los Angeles, Calif., last Friday night (April 13, 2018) with an action-packed fight card that featured a bevy of highlight-reel finishes. That includes Jose Estrada’s violent technical knockout win over grizzled veteran Rudy Morales, the second straight stoppage for “Froggy” since dropping to featherweight.

Elsewhere on the televised main card, bantamweight headliner John Castaneda looked to get back to his winning ways after coming up short in the Copa Combate tournament last November, but it appears Jose Alday didn’t get the memo.

“Pochito” captured a split decision win after three hard-fought rounds.

In addition, boxing import Amanda Serrano made her highly-anticipated debut in “La Jaula” against Bellator veteran Corina Herrera in one of the best female fights in the history of the weight class. No doubt their three-round draw leaves the door open for a potential rematch.

Complete Combate Estrellas I results below:

Main Card:

135 lbs: Jose “Pochito” Alday def. John “Sexi Mexi” Castaneda by split decision (30-27, 29-28, 28-29)

125 lbs: Amanda “The Real Deal” Serrano and Corina Herrera fight to a draw (28-28 x3)

145 lbs: Jose “Froggy” Estrada def. “Ruthless” Rudy Morales by technical knockout at 1:43 of R2

Undercard

155 lbs: Rafa “Gifted” Garcia def. Chase “El Guero” Gibson by majority decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-28)

155 lbs: Erick “Ghost Pepper” Gonzalez def. Danny “The Realist” Ramirez by technical knockout at 3:15 of R1

155 lbs: Gabriel Green def. Javier “El Mariachi” Garcia by submission (rear-naked choke) at 1:03 of R3

125 lbs: “Malicious” Mikey Reyes def. Heinrich “Ricky Scraps” Wassmer by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)

144 lbs: Joey “El Cazador” Ruquet def. Keith “Danger” Carson by submission (rear-naked choke) at 4:18 of R1

Want more?

Combate Estrellas II takes place next Friday night (April 20) on Univision from inside Gimnasio Nuevo Leon in Monterrey, Mexico, featuring the debut of former UFC bantamweight Erik “El Goyito” Perez (details here).

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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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