Tag Archive for Heading

With No Weight Cut to Consider, Daniel Cormier Feels Stronger Heading Into UFC 226

UFC light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier is looking forward to becoming a two-division world champion when he faces heavyweight kinh Stipe Miocic at UFC 226, which takes place on July 7 during the promotion’s International Fight Week.
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‘Prime Time’ Confident About Weight Issues Heading Into UFC 226

Uriah Hall continues to regroup after missing weight for his bout with Vitor Belfort at UFC Fight Night 124 back in January and being hospitalized for acute kidney failure and a mini seizure.

It was truly a scary moment for Hall.

As Hall gears up for his return to the Octagon opposite undefeated middleweight contender Paulo Costa at UFC 226 on July 7 from Las Vegas, Nevada, he believes that his weight troubles are a thing of the past. After coming to grips with his physical needs, “Prime Time” is ready to turn over a new leaf.

“I’m a lot better now because I understand what was the issue and I’m attacking it,” Hall told MMAjunkie earlier this week in Las Vegas.

“As I get older, I’m forgetting that I’m not young,” Hall continued. “So my body is like, ‘Hey bro, we can’t do the same stuff we do.’ So, sleeping is one of them that I’m starting to do more, because I don’t sleep. Just small, basic things that my body is catching up to. It’s just mainly being disciplined.”

UFC president Dana White blasted Hall for going out and partying the week before his botched weight cut earlier this year. While White caught some heat for his remarks, he may have been right. If Hall can limit his extracurricular habits and give his body what it needs then he could finally cash in on the elite potential he possesses.

It all starts with UFC 226. Hall will have to be at his best, both physically and mentally, to overthrow one of the biggest wrecking balls in the division.

“He’s somewhat talented, but he’s hungry, so that makes me want to train even harder,” Hall said. “First fight didn’t happen for whatever reason, but I’m working on the diet part of it. And the training I switched up to focus on things that I haven’t, really.

“My body is one of the main things I neglected, because youth will leave you. My mindset and my pride was like, I’m fine, but as an athlete, you’ve got to work around that. You can’t just have one dimension to say I’m going to tough through it. You’ve got to have the responsibility to say, all right, there’s certain things that are not working in my favor. What can I do to adjust and move forward?”

Hall is coming off a Performance of the Night knockout finish over middleweight staple Krzysztof Jotko, while Costa stopped former UFC welterweight champion Johny Hendricks via second-round TKO back on November.

UFC 226 will be headlined by a heavyweight superfight between current divisional champion Stipe Miocic and UFC light heavyweight titleholder Daniel Cormier. The main card will also feature a featherweight clash between current champion Max Holloway and undefeated contender Brian Ortega.

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Jason Knight embracing Diaz brothers comparison heading into UFC Fight Night 123

Rising UFC featherweight contender Jason Knight is hoping to put a loss to Ricardo Lamas behind him tomorrow night (Sat., Dec. 9, 2017) at UFC Fight Night 123 live on FOX Sports 1 from inside Save Mart Center in Fresno, Calif., when he takes on Mexican finisher Gabriel Benitez in the co-main event.

Knight, who lost to Lamas after filling in for an injured Chan Sung Jung at UFC 214 this past July, has become one of the more entertaining fighters to watch. His brawling tendencies and gritty attitude have led to comparisons to Nick and Nate Diaz, which in turn has left Knight with a rather catchy moniker.

“I like it,” Knight said about his “Hick Diaz” nickname in a recent interview with UFC.com.

“Some people might get offended if you call them a ‘hick’ or something like that but man, I embrace that. I was born in the South, raised up as country as can be and it doesn’t really bother me. Every chance I get I’m out there mud riding on my four-wheeler or out in the woods hunting, so it really doesn’t bother me none.”

While Knight has a long way to go before stacking his resume up against that of the Diaz brothers, two Performance of the Night awards over his last three Octagon appearances leads us to believe the Mississippi native is already on his way.

“The Diaz Brothers have always been some of my favorite fighters, guys I looked up to,” Knight revealed. “They don’t give a damn what you think about them. They’re going to go out there and fight their asses off and win, lose or draw, they’re going to talk sh*t and have a blast while they’re doing it.

“That’s the way that I am and that’s the way I like to be too. If you’re going to beat me in a fight, I bet you can’t beat me in a sh*t-talking match while we’re fighting; that’s kind of how I am. They’re my kind of people and it doesn’t bother me one bit to get compared to them.”

Knight is not exaggerating. The 25-year-old featherweight contender has been known to chirp quite heavily at opponents mid-fight, whether he was winning or not. Things shouldn’t change for “Hick Diaz” when he gets his hands on Benitez tomorrow night in Fresno.

“I’ve worked my ass off for this fight and I’m ready to go,” Knight said. “I’m gonna show the fans why I deserve to be in the Top 15 and show Sean Shelby why my next fight should be against one of those guys that’s on up the ladder instead of someone that’s way, way out of the rankings.

“They might have given me this fight as a comeback fight – and that’s no disrespect to Gabriel Benitez, who I know is going to be a very tough fight – but I don’t want to be fighting guys out of the Top 15 now. I want to fight whoever gets me closer to the title. I’m gonna go out here and fight my heart out so I can get closer to that belt.”

UFC Fight Night 123 will be headlined by a featherweight matchup pitting veteran Cub Swanson against undefeated contender Brian Ortega.

MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 123 fight card, starting with the UFC Fight Pass “Prelims” matches online at 6:30 p.m. ET, followed by the FOX Sports 1 “Prelims” bouts at 8 p.m. ET, before the main card start time at 10 p.m. ET, also on FOX Sports 1.

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Bisping Says He Was ‘Emotionally, Physically, Mentally Spent’ Heading Into Gastelum Bout

Michael Bisping accepted a short notice fight with Kelvin Gastelum last month in large part because he wanted to erase the pain of the defeat that cost him his middleweight title three weeks earlier.
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Paul Daley Puts Weight Cut Issues, Koscheck Rivalry Behind Him Heading Into Bellator 170

Paul Daley had a rough second half of 2016.
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Heading into UFC 205, Joanna Jedrzejczyk looking for a new manager who will ‘bring me some money’

Heading into her fourth title defense against Karolina Kowalkiewicz at UFC 205, UFC strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk has been undergoing a good many changes. For starters she has settled on a steady training camp with American Top Team in Florida, after a nomadic stint of stopping into different gyms across the country.

She also recently parted ways with her manager, Tiago Okamura, making her a free agent for business. As for that second thing, Jedrzejczyk said she’s open for discussion with any managers who might thing they can represent her.

“I am waiting for a good offer,” the 29-year old Polish champion said. “Bring me some money, and that’s all what I want from my manager. I’m here. I’m in the U.S.”

Jedrzejczyk will be defending her title against Kowalkiewicz on the biggest stage possible, at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The fight will take place third from the top behind Tyron Woodley’s welterweight title fight with Stephen Thompson and the big headliner, Conor McGregor against Eddie Alvarez for the lightweight belt.

In other words, she’s a hot commodity right now — and she wants representation that reflects her standing in the game.

Asked why she parted ways with Okamura, Jedrzejczyk said it wasn’t personal.

“We’re still friends, I like Tiago Okamura so much,” she said. “But I decided to change something in my life and…you know, sometimes you need to change something in your life to go higher. I want to work with the best people in the world because I’m the best in the world. I want to retire as a champion, and this is my goal. This is my dream. And mark my word, because I’m going to do this.

“People are afraid of changes, and afraid to change in their life. But they like to complain. I don’t like to complain, I like to work. So it wasn’t easy for me to leave my gym or my coaches or my manager, but I want to keep on growing.”

Jedrzejczyk had a rapid ascension in the UFC, debuting against Juliana Lima in 2014 and then eking out a split decision victory over Claudia Gadelha at UFC on FOX 13 in December of that same year. That set up a title fight with the inaugural strawweight champion, Carla Esparza, at UFC 185 in March 2015. Jedrzejczyk seized the moment, dominating Esparza early and ending the fight via TKO late in the second round.

Since they she has steadily beat back all challenges, including victories over Jessica Penne, Valerie Letourneau and her rematch with Gadelha in July.

With the ascension comes change, Jedrzejczyk said.

“Yes, I’d like to talk to [potential managers],” she said. “But I am very thankful to my old manager, my coaches, for the job, which we have done together, and what they’ve done for me.

“But the thing is, I’m different, you know? I am the UFC’s strawweight champion and I’m going to be the flyweight champion as well.”

Her former manager Okamura also represents strawweight contender Jessica Andrade, who is coming off yet another impressive performance against Joanna Calderwood at UFC 203 in Cleveland.

Asked if that factored into her decision to part ways, Jedrzejczyk said it played a minimal role.

“I don’t know,” she said. “I don’t know…no, I can face Jessica. I can face anyone. I spoke Tiago about that, because I left him like a month ago, or a few weeks ago. But we’ve been talking about what’s going to happen, if I’m going to face Jessica. He was mine and her manager at the time, so, a fight is a fight. We must take this serious.”

As for how she views Andrade, who could be waiting in the wings for her should she successfully defend the title against Kowalkiewicz on Nov. 12, Jedrzejczyk was complimentary.

“Jessica is a very strong fighter,” she said. “Her boxing is on point, her jiu-jitsu is very good, she’s very strong. She dropped from 135, so she’s very strong for the 115 pound division.”

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Heading into biggest fight of his career, Tony Johnson copes with his brother’s suicide

As Tony Johnson was in his final preparations for this Friday’s main event against Cheick Kongo, he got a most dreadful phone call. It was news that his little brother, William Johnson, had committed suicide in Cleveland, where he lived. Just like that, Johnson went from punching a heavy bag to the receiving end of one of life’s heaviest blows.

That was over Labor Day weekend, just two weeks before his scheduled fight at Bellator 161 in Cedar Park, Texas. Johnson traveled from Tennessee to Ohio for the viewing, and spent time with his grieving parents in Cincinnati. He processed everything as fast he could as he helped organize the memorial. He grieved along with his family and asked a lot of unanswerable questions. He tried to remain a pillar for those who expect it of him, though his bereavement hollowed out a place in him that will remain there for a long while.

Still, even with everything upside down, he never considered backing out of the fight — Johnson took his brother’s passing as a reminder to seize the moment.

“It’s definitely more motivating, man,” Johnson told MMA Fighting. “It teaches me, you may have problems but somebody may have way worse problems. So at this stage, enjoy life. It’s definitely motivation, and it’s a wake up call just to enjoy life and cherish today. You’re never promised tomorrow. That’s what I’m doing now. I’m enjoying life, and I’m taking it all in.”

The 27-year-old William, it turns out, was battling depression. Tony, just like many others who knew William intimately, didn’t realize it until it was too late. Everything came as a surprise.

“No one knew,” he says. “He was hiding his tears behind the smile. But yes, he was depressed, and nobody knew through that. We talked every once in a while, but not as much as we should have. But at the end of the day, it’s unfortunate.

“It was a tragedy, but it’s life. That’s life, and life will hit you hard. Nothing hits you as hard as life. I have to find the strength to just get up and keep going.”

Tony, a massive heavyweight who carries the nickname of “Hulk,” has lived his whole life to reach the moment he’s arrived at. He will take on the longtime UFC veteran Kongo, most likely for the chance to fight for Bellator’s vacant heavyweight title. He has won three fights in a row, including a decision over former champ Alexander Volkov and most recently a TKO over Raphael Butler. He has stood in against some of the most feared names in the sport, people like Daniel Cormier (who beat him) and Derrick Lewis (who did not).

He’s fought to get to this chance, right at a moment when he’s forced to accept that his brother gave up a far more harrowing fight of his own. 

Maybe Tony has compartmentalized his shock, simply shoved it aside out of necessity to focus on the fight at hand, but he is handling things stoically. Even matter-of-factly. 

“You know, I have a job to do, and I’ve got to go step in the cage with Cheick Kongo,” he says at one point. And, “I closed that chapter of my life last week, and I’m ready for this challenge in front of me,” he says at another. He is a father himself, and says he wants to provide for him. Tragedy so close to home has to be internalized.

Still, he saw the grief on his parent’s faces, and pain has given him stronger resolve.

“I’m a back home family man, and it’s tough on my parents,” Tony says. “We were there last weekend and I was kind of planning the memorial with my parents, and I could see it in my parent’s eyes. No parent wants to bury their child. It’s tough man. But my dad stayed strong, my mom stayed strong and they’re praying. And they’re both going to get through this. It’s tough, it’s a tough thing to have to go through.

“And especially, the timing is horrible. I’ve got a big fight. But, like I say, it’s life. It’s unfortunate. You’ve got to push forward. But the hardest thing honestly was going back home Monday and doing that first training [after].”

Johnson insists that each day has been better since that Monday after Labor Day weekend. He says by Tuesday he was rolling along. By Wednesday, he felt good in his training — like he has regained his rhythm. He told Bellator immediately that the fight was still on. He said there was nothing that would prevent it from happening.

“Not one time did I think about not fighting,” he says. “Bellator was awesome. They said, hey, we understand this tragedy, if you don’t want to fight, we understand. But you don’t get these moments in life very much. And you’ve got to seize the moment no matter what happens. I’m headlining in one of the best organizations in the world. I never thought even one time I’m not going to do this. I just had to get my head right, and get ready for this fight.

“And I thank Bellator, they’ve been awesome, helping me out. They sent me flowers, and I’ve never been sent flowers before. But I never thought about not fighting, it never crossed my mind once.”

The 6-foot-4, 41-year old Kongo has won two in a row, and six of eight overall since signing with Bellator in 2013. Johnson says he’s able to focus on Kongo, and to focus on him alone.

“I see a guy who has a lot of experience, a guy that know a lot of tricks,” he says. “I respect Cheick Kongo. I think he’s a great fighter, but it’s my time now. It’s my time to shine, and I’m ready to seize this moment. I’m just ready to go. I’m not going to be that same guy he saw on TV. I’ve grown so much, and I’m ready.

“My confidence has never been more strong.”

Kongo’s as formidable as they come in the division, and yet his clinch, his power and his range become abstract measures of strength when dealing with the loss of a loved one. Johnson just did vulnerable. It’s led to him feeling invincible.

“Last week was the hardest week of my life,” he says. “That hurt so much personally. There’s nothing that Cheick Kongo can do that will hurt.”

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Frankie Edgar: ‘Pretty Basic’ Jose Aldo Hasn’t Evolved Much Heading Into UFC 200

The first time Frankie Edgar stepped into the cage with Jose Aldo, he lost a narrow five-round verdict in his featherweight debut at UFC 156.
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Trainer: ‘The Lion is Awake’ Inside Mauricio Rua Heading Into UFC 198

After being awarded “Coach of the Year in 2015,” Rafael Cordeiro will start 2016 in great fashion with three of his fighters competing at UFC 198 in his hometown of Curitiba.
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Rampage Jackson Settles Lawsuit With Bellator…By Heading Back to Bellator

Together again at last. (FLAWLESS Photoshop work by yours truly.)

If you’re like us, you’ve not only forgotten that Quinton Jackson has been locked in a bitter contract dispute with Bellator for over a year, but that he in fact violated that contract in order to re-sign with the UFC and take a fight against Fabio Maldonado at UFC 186 last year — a fight which, again, you may have also forgotten ever happened.

Well, he has been, and the falling out has been vicious — like, “Rampage vs. the UFC” vicious – with both parties claiming breach of contract against the other and preliminary injunctions being upheld and overturned seemingly at random. Today however, it looks like Rampage has squashed yet another of his many beefs, and will be heading back to one of his many former promotions as a result.

Yes, Page is heading back to Bellator, and the latter couldn’t be happier. As Bellator announced in a press release this morning:

Following an amicable agreement to settle the litigation between the two parties, the always entertaining and exciting Quinton “Rampage” Jackson is returning to Bellator.

Bellator MMA is thrilled to have “Rampage,” one of the most recognizable fighters in the history of the sport, joining a very competitive light heavyweight division featuring champion Liam McGeary, Phil Davis, King Mo, Tito Ortiz, Emanuel Newton, Linton Vassell among others.

Call me crazy, but I think Rampage Jackson is a perfect fit for a promotion who has been steadily rebuilding its brand on relics of a bygone era. It’s not like we were going to see him challenging for another UFC title anytime soon, and at least he’ll be re-entering his former promotion on a three-fight win streak. If we’re lucky enough, maybe we’ll get to see him take on his former TUF pupil, Kimbo Slice, in a fight that will no doubt be described by both fighters as “black on black crime.”

According to MMAFighting, Jackson’s contract will consist of two fights, with the first to allegedly take place later this year. We say “allegedly” because unhappy Rampage is easily the most unpredictable Rampage…next to “sleep-deprived and high on energy drinks” Rampage, of course.

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