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Predictions! Full Bellator 204 Main Card Preview For ‘Caldwell Vs. Lahat’

Noad Lahat

Bellator 204: “Caldwell vs. Lahat” takes place tomorrow night (Fri., Aug. 17, 2018) at Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. With no other contenders on the horizon for awhile at Bantamweight, a unique non-title fight has emerged for the main event pitting two men with 12 wins each against each other for pride and glory.

Let’s break it down:

145 lbs.: Darrion Caldwell (12-1) vs. Noad Lahat (12-3)

When Darrion Caldwell walks into the Sanford Pentagon the crowd can chant “The Champ Is Here” like Jadakiss. With only one blemish on his record for his entire professional mixed martial arts (MMA) career — contested almost entirely inside the Bellator cage — Caldwell is a homegrown Bantamweight champion. He made it look it easy by wrestling Eduardo Dantas to defeat at Bellator 184, then made it look even easier with a first round finish of Leandro Higo in March. Caldwell has put such a stamp on his weight class that for the moment — at least — there’s literally nowhere to go but up.

That makes Israeli fighter Noad Lahat the man of the hour for his second main event in a row. With a 3-1 record in Bellator’s competitive Featherweight division, Lahat is certainly on the rise toward a title shot somewhere down the road. Even though he was born in Petah Tikva he fights out of American Kickboxing Academy (AKA) in San Jose, already well known as one of MMA’s elite stomping grounds for current and future world champions. Lahat has scored submissions in 50 percent of his wins (six out of 12) and — given that Caldwell’s lone loss comes via a guillotine choke — that has to give Lahat a lot of confidence going into this fight.

That’s the good news for Lahat. Now, here’s the bad news: Even though he’s a naturally strong and stocky 145-pound fighter, he gives up both height (5’9” vs. 5’10”) and reach (69” to 74”) to Caldwell. “The Wolf” has always been an incredibly tall drink at Bantamweight, so going up for this fight is simply a matter of cutting less weight, which may if anything make him stronger and faster. Caldwell is also in the habit of training for five rounds, but here he can dump his gas tank quicker for a non-title fight. Even though Caldwell only has one knockout versus five submissions, his striking technique and reach are what can rock the bells of opponents to make them vulnerable to a finish. If it doesn’t come the decorated collegiate champion can double Lahat to the ground over and over to grind out a win.

Final prediction: Darrion Caldwell wins via unanimous decision

170 lbs.: Logan Storley (8-0) vs. A.J. Matthews (9-7)

This fight isn’t necessarily as lopsided as their pro MMA records may indicate. Veteran experience benefits Matthews as he’s had twice as many fights at 30 as the younger Storley has at 25. Matthews has also been on the wrong end of a few split decisions, including a fight with Andre Fialho that could have gone either way. After an emotional win over his friend Kendall Grove, Matthews has proved himself ready for this fight, but Storley is as blue chip a wrestler as they come and learned from one of the best as both an amateur and a “pro.” Matthews does have some stopping power (six knockouts), but we haven’t seen it since 2014, and Storley is what Jim Ross would call a “hoss” — he’s got thick, stocky strength straight off the farm in Webster, S.D., with six knockouts. Matthews is a good test of his potential.

Final prediction: Logan Storley wins via technical knockout

135 lbs.: James Gallagher (7-0) vs. Ricky Bandejas (10-1)

Bandejas comes to Bellator straight out of Cage Fury Fighting Championship (CFFC) in New Jersey. The former CFFC interim champion boasts a 10-1 record with three knockouts and three submissions. By now you know “The Strabanimal” Gallagher, but if you need a refresher he’s a training partner of Conor McGregor out of Straight Blast Gym (SBG) in Dublin, Ireland, submitting all but one opponent he has faced. Gallagher is so young (21) that he can only be getting better with age, and that’s a scary prospect for nearly every Featherweight out there — only he’s going the opposite direction of Caldwell and cutting to 135 pounds. He’ll still be the bigger man at 5’9” vs. 5’7,” so if he doesn’t have a difficult drawn out weight cut this is his fight to lose, although Bandejas didn’t sign a multi-fight deal just to be anyone’s stepping stone.

Final prediction: James Gallagher via majority decision

145 lbs.: Tywan Claxton (2-0) vs. Cris Lencioni (4-1)

Featherweight prospects get a nice share of the main card spotlight on the same night as Gallagher thanks to this bout. Tywan Claxton’s nickname is “Speedy” although only one of his professional wins was “fast” per se — his flying knee knockout of Jonny Bonilla-Bowman at Bellator 186. That highlight reel finish gained him some viral fame and a bigger push from Bellator though, so he’ll get another fight with a slightly more experienced man. If Claxton keeps it standing he should score the win whether or not he makes the highlight reel again.

Final prediction: Tywan Claxton via unanimous decision

That’s a wrap!

MMAmania.com will deliver coverage of Bellator 204 tomorrow with Paramount Network fights starting at 9 p.m. ET. To check out the latest Bellator MMA-related news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive news archive right here.

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Full Boat! Complete UFC 226 ‘Prelims’ Undercard Predictions, Preview

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is bringing a bevy of “Prelims” fights to both UFC Fight Pass and FOX Sports 1 this weekend (Sat., July 7, 2018) when UFC 226: “Miocic vs. Cormier” storms T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. MMAmania.com’s Patrick Stumberg delivers a complete UFC 226 “Prelims” undercard preview, including fight picks, below.

For the first time since B.J. Penn squared off with Georges St-Pierre for the second time way back in 2009, two Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) champions with actual title defenses will duke it out this Saturday (July 7, 2018) as Heavyweight kingpin Stipe Miocic welcomes Light Heavyweight roost-ruler Daniel Cormier back to the division where he got his start. Meanwhile, 120 pounds below, Featherweight champion Max Holloway squares off with the surging Brian Ortega in UFC 226’s pay-per-view (PPV) co-main event, while Derrick Lewis gets his long-awaited grudge match with Francis Ngannou.

We’ve got seven “Prelims” undercard matches that will first set the stage inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, with three on Fight Pass and the rest on FOX Sports 1. Because this is a double fight week — The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 27 Finale takes place the night before — we’ve crammed them all into one post.


FOX SPORTS 1 ‘Prelims’ (8 p.m. ET start time)

185 lbs.: Paulo Costa vs. Uriah Hall

Paulo Costa (11-0) — the martial artist formerly known as “Borrachinha” — bounced back from an unsuccessful TUF: “Brazil” 2 run to win and defend the Jungle Fight Middleweight title. He has been every bit as successful in UFC, smashing Garreth McLellan, Oluwale Bamgbose and Johny Hendricks in his 2017 campaign.

He has never gone past 1:23 into the second round as a professional, knocking out 10 opponents and submitting one other.

Uriah Hall’s (13-8) ridiculous upset of Gegard Mousasi gave way to three consecutive losses, including first-round (technical) knockouts against Brunson and the aforementioned Mousasi in the rematch. Down on the cards and with his back against the wall, “Primetime” knocked out Krzysztof Jotko to win “Performance of the Night” and keep his Octagon career afloat.

These two were originally slated to fight in April before Costa suffered a biceps injury.

We all know how it goes at this point. Hall has the potential to knockout anyone in the division at any time, but it is beyond foolhardy to put any faith in his ability to execute against competent Middleweight competition. This is a guy who lost to Josh Howard and then went on to knockout Mousasi, a feat multiple world champions and quality Heavyweight kickboxers have failed to accomplish.

Costa is young, huge, incredibly powerful and seemed to have solid cardio in his two trips to the second round. The obvious outcome sees him pressure Hall against the cage and blast him with hooks for the finish as Chris Weidman and the aforementioned Brunson did. Barring another Hall miracle, that’s my call.

Prediction: Costa via first-round technical knockout

170 lbs.: Paul Felder vs. Mike Perry

Paul Felder (15-3) is 5-1 since consecutive losses to Edson Barboza and Ross Peason, securing three consecutive (technical) knockout victories. He was originally slated to fight James Vick in Boise, Idaho, but answered the call when Vick got called up to face Justin Gaethje and Yancy Medeiros busted a rib.

“The Irish Dragon” has knocked out 10 opponents and submitted one other.

Mike Perry’s (11-3) thunderous knockouts of Jake Ellenberger and Alex Reyes put him within spitting distance of title contention, only for Santiago Ponzinibbio to out-slug him in a grueling affair. He returned two months later against Max Griffin in what looked to be a rebound fight, but “Max Pain” defied considerable odds to pick Perry apart and secure a decision.

Seven of his 11 knockout wins have come in the first round.

Perry has all the tools to be a truly standout Welterweight, boasting hellacious power, hand speed and physicality, but his technique isn’t advancing the way it should. While losses to Alan Jouban and Santiago Ponzinibbio are understandable, Griffin is someone he should have destroyed. Felder is durable enough, adaptable enough, and versatile enough on the feet to recreate Griffin’s winning effort.

There is the concern of Felder being unable to stand up to the power of a genuine Welterweight, but he has absorbed blows from quality finishers like Edson Barboza and Daron Cruickshank without flinching. I have faith in his ability to steer clear of Perry’s bombs and pick him apart for a decision win.

Prediction: Felder via unanimous decision

135 lbs.: Raphael Assuncao vs. Rob Font

It hasn’t always been the prettiest of affairs, but Raphael Assuncao (26-5) is 10-1 since his knockout loss to Erik Koch, beating the likes of T.J. Dillashaw, Bryan Caraway, Aljamain Sterling and Marlon Moraes, among others. His latest win was the most eye-catching yet, a brutal one-punch knockout of Matthew Lopez that earned the Brazilian his first post-fight bonus since 2013.

He is three inches shorter than Rob Font (15-3) and will give up five inches of reach.

Font scored brutal finishes in four of his first five UFC appearances and looked poised for another win in Oct. 2017, but succumbed to Pedro Munhoz’s infamous guillotine late in the first round. Against another dangerous foe in Thomas Almeida, Font survived a competitive first round to drop and stop “Thominhas” in Boston.

Font has knocked out seven opponents and submitted another four.

Well, if there’s anyone outside of Cody Garbrandt and John Lineker who could drag a great fight out of Assuncao, it’s Font. Dangerously powerful and aggressive, he’s everything you’d want in a young fighter. For all that destructive potential, though, I’m not convinced he’s sharp enough to take the Brazilian out of his comfort zone. Assuncao’s counterpunching is some of the best in the division — only Dillashaw and the incredibly adaptive Moraes have been able to consistently land on him without taking more in return. Based on what I’ve seen, he can slow this fight to his pace and consistently punish Font’s aggression.

I’m pulling for Font, as he’s exponentially more entertaining, but I say Assuncao picks him off enough to take a controversial decision.

Prediction: Assuncao by unanimous decision

170 lbs.: Max Griffin vs. Curtis Millender (15-3)

Max Griffin (14-4) — after splitting bouts with Colby Covington and Erick Montano — threw down with Elizeu Zaleski at UFC Fight Night 119, coming up short on the cards but securing a $ 50,000 bonus for his troubles. Four months later, “Max Pain” took a wholly unexpected decision over Mike Perry, whom he outclassed on the feet.

Half of his pro wins have come by form of knockout.

The early 1-3 skid for Curtis Millender’s (15-3) didn’t stop him from winning six straight afterward, including solid victories in LFA. His Octagon debut pitted him against Thiago Alves, whom he caught with a vicious knee in the final minute of the second round.

“Curtious” stands four inches taller than Griffin at 6’3.”

Griffin impressed pretty much everyone against Perry, so it wouldn’t surprise me at all to see him shut down “Curtious,” but this looks like a rough match up for him. In addition to the height disadvantage, Griffin is fairly easy to hit and got knocked down more than once against Zaleski. It’s also worth noting that his arsenal doesn’t prominently feature takedowns or low kicks, which are Millender’s key weaknesses.

Without the tools to get inside on Millender or make him hesitate on those long kicks, Griffin is going to struggle to bring his heavy hands to bear. Millender finds the mark with a head kick partway through the second round.

Prediction: Millender via second-round knockout


UFC Fight Pass ‘Prelims’ (6:30 p.m. ET start time)

155 lbs.: Gilbert Burns vs. Dan Hooker

Gilbert Burns’ (13-2) Brazilian jiu-jitsu pedigree earned him quite a bit of attention when he joined UFC and he lived up to the hype with wins in his first three Octagon appearances. A 1-2 stretch slowed his roll, but he has smashed his way back into contention with crushing knockouts of Jason Saggo and Dan Moret.

Burns has submitted seven professional foes, four by armbar, and knocked out another five.

After an inconsistent run at Featherweight, Dan Hooker (16-7) has reinvented himself as a Lightweight contender with three impressive finishes. He opened his 155-pound run with a knee knockout of Ross Pearson, submitted Marc Diakiese soon after, and went back to the basics with another savage knee against Jim Miller.

He will have two inches of height, four inches of reach, and three inches of leg reach on “Durinho.”

Hooker has looked like a new man at 155 pounds, discarding his face-first brawling in favor of a varied, tricky offense. Burns has looked ferocious as well, but I’m not sure energy-intensive headhunting is the best approach against the iron-jawed Kiwi. Hooker is notoriously durable and has gotten out from under ace grapplers like Hatsu Hioki in the past.

If he’d showed a better jab and more blended wrestling, I’d take Burns over most of the division. As is, while he’ll get plenty of highlight-reel finishes, the stylistic match up isn’t in his favor — Hooker is just too damn tough to get rid of and too sharp with his game planning. Heavy knees and straight punches keep the hard-charging Burns at bay for 15 minutes.

Prediction: Hooker via unanimous decision

155 lbs.: Lando Vannata vs. Drakkar Klose

Lando Vannata (9-2) opened his UFC career with a near-upset of Tony Ferguson, dropping “El Cucuy” with a head kick before ultimately tapping to a d’arce choke. His Octagon career since has been inconsistent but entertaining, as he has gone 1-1-1 and earned three post-fight bonuses.

He has knocked out and submitted four professional foes apiece.

Drakkar Klose (8-1-1) — fighting out of The MMA Lab — defeated “Lookin’ for a Fight” product Devin Powell in his Octagon debut before using powerful leg kicks to upset Marc Diakiese. He had less success against David Teymur, who shut down his wrestling and picked him apart at range.

He will give up an inch of height and 2.5 inches of reach to the “Groovy” one.

Vannata is a match for anyone in the division in the first round. The reason he’s sitting on a losing UFC record despite his obvious skills is his inability to pace himself. That said, he still gave David Teymur a much tougher fight than Klose did and his slickster stylings seem well-equipped to shutting down Klose’s straightforward offense.

Klose will struggle to keep Vannata on the fence, isn’t a sufficiently overpowering wrestler to take him down in the center of the cage, and doesn’t have the power to put him away. Vannata banks at least two rounds with nifty long-range striking before fading enough for Klose to start connecting.

Prediction: Vannata via unanimous decision

115 lbs.: Emily Whitmire vs. Jamie Moyle

Representing Team Justin Gaethje on TUF 26, Emily Whitmire (2-2) submitted Christina Marks in 40 seconds before falling to Roxanne Modafferi in the quarterfinals. Her woes continued at the Finale, which saw her tap to a Gillian Robertson submission in little more than two minutes.

She is five inches taller than Jamie Moyle (4-2), but will give up two inches of reach.

Moyle likewise went 1-1 in her TUF run, beating Alyssa Krahn in the elimination round of TUF 23 before falling to eventual finalist Amanda Cooper. Things have been similarly up-and-down in the Octagon, defeating Kailin Curran in her Octagon debut and losing to Viviane Pereira six months later.

This will be her first fight in 13 months because of injury.

Whitmire’s two professional victories came over opponents who were 0-0 and 2-7. She was a Strawweight before moving to 125 pounds for TUF, so she shouldn’t have much of a weight advantage. She has been submitted twice as a professional and got ground-and-pounded into the dirt on TUF.

That said, you can see why I’m not picking her over a capable wrestler.

Moyle has faced much stronger competition and has the stylistic edge to overcome the height disadvantage. She outstrikes, outwrestles and outgrapples Whitmire for up to 15 minutes.

Prediction: Moyle via unanimous decision

UFC 226 will feature two incredible world title fights, a grudge match, and the return of Gokhan Saki. If that’s not worth your money, I don’t know what is. See you Saturday, Maniacs!

Remember, too, that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 226 fight card, starting with the Fight Pass “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on FOX Sports 1 at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET.

Current UFC “Prelims” Prediction Record for 2018: 86-40

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Edwards Vs. Cerrone Full Fight Video Highlights

Leon Edwards extended his current win streak to six earlier today (Sat., June 23, 2018) at UFC Fight Night 132 live on Fight Pass from inside Singapore Indoor Stadium in Kallang, Singapore, when he defeated Donald Cerrone via unanimous decision in the main event.

Edwards controlled most of the fight. He was stronger inside and landed the more meaningful shots over the course of five rounds, including some vicious body kicks and slicing elbows inside. “Cowboy” would battle back in the later frames and land his own offense, but it just wasn’t enough to edge out “Rocky” on the scorecards.

In the end, it was Edwards who walked away with the unanimous decision win, leaving a bloodied Cerrone with his fourth loss in his last five fights.

Check out below for some of the most memorable action from Edwards’ main event clash with Cerrone:

With this performance, Edwards captures the biggest victory of his career thus far and pushes himself further up the 170-pound ladder. The UFC’s welterweight division is one of the most jam-packed factions around, but six in a row should put the 26-year-old Englishman in good position to contend among the elite heading into the second half of 2018.

For complete UFC Singapore results and coverage click here.

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ESPN Acquires Full UFC Package, Adds Broadcast Television Deal to Streaming Rights

ESPN is going all-in on the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
Recent News on Sherdog.com

Dana White: Tyron Woodley ‘Couldn’t Be More Full of S—t’ About Nate Diaz Fight

Just like he did in December, UFC President Dana White is denying Tyron Woodley’s claims that a fight with Nate Diaz is in the works.
Recent News on Sherdog.com

Midnight Mania! Dana White calls Tyron Woodley full of shit, Woodley fires back

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

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Despite Dana White’s strong feelings about it, Tyron Woodley continues to push for this Nate Diaz fight. Nate wants the bout too, telling ESPN.com:

“I’m getting to the point where I’m sick of not fighting. I’m not getting any younger,” Diaz told ESPN. “I put that tweet out saying I wanted to fight in May or June, but I didn’t say who because I was weighing my options. And now, Woodley is my best option.

”I see him on TMZ every week, talking about me. I’m like, ‘What the f—? If that’s what you want to do.’ It’s not really my weight class, but I’m with it. I think it’s my title we’re fighting for. If he’s the one calling me out, whose title are we fighting for? Who’s the real champion here?”

Diaz is right about Woodley calling him (literally) on TMZ.

Dana fired back with all the scorn he could muster, telling UFC Tonight that the welterweight champion is full of shit. Via MMAFighting.com:

“[Woodley’s] full of sh*t,” White said. “That fight was never made, you couldn’t be more wrong, he couldn’t be more full of sh*t, and it’s absolutely not true. It’s so not true that our lawyer hit him up today and said he needs to stop saying these kind of things, because it’s absolutely not true.”

“Dos Anjos is the fight we’re looking at for Woodley,” White said. “That’s the fair fight, he just won a great fight against Robbie Lawler and looked good and what I love about that fight is dos Anjos will bring it. He will come after Tyron Woodley and it will be a great fight. That’s the fight that’s gonna happen.”

White also repeated his talking point that Diaz had turned down several fights with lightweight opponents:

“We’ve offered Nate Diaz five or six fights in the last several months and he’s turned them all down,” White said. “I’ve said many times over the last several months that I don’t see Nate Diaz fighting. Will he fight this year? Maybe he’ll come out and see he wants to fight eventually, but no, he’s turned down every fight we’ve offered.“

Woodley wasn’t long in responding to Dana White, and he certainly has a point.

White, not unlike the current United States President, does have a long and frequent history of factually incorrect and misleading statements. Among many other examples, he said Anderson Silva would not be fighting Daniel Cormier at UFC 200 (hours before the bout was announced), and most memorably denied the UFC was being sold for 4 billion dollars, including releasing a memo to his employees to that effect. (Many of those employees were subsequently let go.)

In this case, Tyron Woodley is angling for a bout which, divisionally, makes very little sense, but from a promotional standpoint, might very well make sense. Given the direction WME-IMG have taken in these cases lately, it does seem possible Woodley is right.


Insomnia

Some Wednesday trash talk between Tyron Woodley and Rafael Dos Anjos also went down:

TJ Dillashaw and Cody Garbrandt went at it on Twitter too:

Congratulations to Robert Whittaker and his wife on the birth of Bobby Knuckles Jr., destined to rule women’s divisions twenty years from now.

Do we approve or disapprove of these Reebok jerseys?

I never wanted to know this about Kenny Florian.

Head movement! Head movement! Head movement:

This seems like a great grappling match to make.



Slips, Rips, and Head Kicks

Head kicks are cool

Early Groovy Lando

Look at this spinning back kick.


Podcasts and Video

The MMA Outsiders! Check us out on SoundCloud as well as iTunes and Stitcher on the official MMA Mania channel! And be sure to follow MMA Mania on Youtube!

My top three fights for UFC 221 are Luke Rockhold vs. Yoel Romero, Mark Hunt vs. Curtis Blaydes, and the debut of Israel Adesanya.

Meisha Tate says the Cyborg title defense isn’t enough for her to buy UFC 222.

Dominick Cruz on the secrets to life:


Random Land

Stay woke, Maniacs! Follow me on Twitter and Facebook @Vorpality

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Dana White: Tyron Woodley ‘Couldn’t Be More Full of S—t’ About Nate Diaz Fight

Just like he did in December, UFC President Dana White is denying Tyron Woodley’s claims that a fight with Nate Diaz is in the works.
Recent News on Sherdog.com

Dana White: Tyron Woodley ‘Couldn’t Be More Full of S—t’ About Nate Diaz Fight

Just like he did in December, UFC President Dana White is denying Tyron Woodley’s claims that a fight with Nate Diaz is in the works.
Recent News on Sherdog.com

Dana White: Tyron Woodley ‘Couldn’t Be More Full of S—t’ About Nate Diaz Fight

Just like he did in December, UFC President Dana White is denying Tyron Woodley’s claims that a fight with Nate Diaz is in the works.
Recent News on Sherdog.com

Lyoto Machida vs. Eryk Anders full fight video highlights – UFC Fight Night 125

Despite getting his face bloodied throughout 25 minutes of action last night (Sat., Feb. 3, 2018) at UFC Fight Night 125 live on FOX Sports 1 from inside Arena Guilherme Paraense in Belem, Brazil, former UFC light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida captured a split-decision win over formerly undefeated middleweight contender Eryk Anders.

Machida would find some success early by dropping Anders with a sweeping leg kick. “The Dragon” was back to his usual tricks as he eluded danger on the Octagon warning track and controlled the action. That was until Anders landed a solid straight left in the second round that sent the former champion back into the cage.

Anders would add to his efforts by landing a nasty inside knee in Round 3. It left a cut on the bridge of Machida’s nose, which ultimately spilled blood into the eye and mouth of “The Dragon.” Still, Machida was able to mix in some timely counter shots whenever Anders pressed his offense. He was taken down by Anders a few times, but quickly returned to his feet where he was able to score points with precision punching and piercing body kicks.

It was a back-and-forth affair that had a few momentum changes, but it was Machida who did enough through the course of five rounds to walk away with the split-decision win.

Check out the full fight video highlights above courtesy of UFC.

With this performance, Machida gets back into the win column after dropping his last three Octagon appearances. Machida called out former UFC middleweight champion Michael Bisping after the victory and may end up getting his wish. It would be a nice retirement matchup for “The Count,” and another chance for Machida to prove he’s still a contender at 185 pounds.

For complete UFC Fight Night 125 results and coverage click here.

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