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Bellator 216 ‘MVP vs Semtex’ Recap & Highlights!

Bellator 217

Bellator 216 ‘MVP vs Semtex’ aired Sat. night (Feb. 16, 2019) from Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn. MMA Mania brings you a post-fight recap, results, .gifs and interview highlights from a card with the latest bracket of the Welterweight Grand Prix!

Bellator 216: “MVP vs. Semtex” aired last night (Sat., Feb. 16, 2019) exclusively via DAZN from Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. The main event brought the Welterweight Grand Prix back into the spotlight as Michael “Venom” Page (13-0) and Paul “Semtex” Daley (40-16-2) battled for a chance to advance to face Douglas Lima.

A horrible first round saw Daley circling laterally on the outside of the cage the entire frame and not throwing a strike. Page didn’t do much more, but he did do more, so the first round would arguably be scored in his favor.

The surprising thing that few people expected was that Daley shot for and got takedowns over the next two rounds, stifling any chance at offensive output for Page. Daley was even scoring big shots against the fence when he’d back up and let Page think about getting up. Even in Daley’s dominance for ten minutes there were flashes of Page’s striking style.

Page seemed to be in danger of letting the fight slip away completely as we went into the championship rounds, but suddenly Page hurt Daley with a jump knee in the fourth round and took back control. In the fifth round he was able to reverse the takedown attempts and wind up on top doing damage, which gave him the narrow 48-47 win with all three judges.

“Venom” spoke to John McCarthy about the five round war he survived against “Semtex.”

“He didn’t come here to fight. MVP came to fight. He was bragging about being a striker and did more takedowns than he ever did in his career. MVP is here to stay. It will be an absolute honor to share the cage with someone I respected (Lima) since I joined Bellator. I’ve always had massive amounts of respect for this man.”

Douglas Lima was waiting to offer his respects in return and his thoughts on the fight.

“Definitely different than we expected. Still it was a great fight. Page got it done, he’s still undefeated, it will be an honor to fight him. Expect fireworks when we get in this cage on May 11th. He’s a puzzle that’s yet to be solved. I’m gonna do my homework, I’m gonna come prepared, I can’t wait.”

Mirko Cro Cop (37-11-2, 1 NC) looked to settle an old score with “Big Country” Roy Nelson (23-16) after the latter finished him by TKO in round three of their first encounter at UFC 137.

Cro Cop’s first and second round strategy was all about blocking shots by Nelson, turning him into the fence to land the left uppercut, then throwing leg kicks and liver shots whenever Nelson was at range. Watching live it looked a little bit like this.

As the time continued to tick away, Nelson lived up to the old J.R. adage of being “tougher than a two dollar steak.” Nelson would occasionally land an effective counter strike or knee in the clinch, but he never scored the big damage he did in his first meeting with Cro Cop.

Nelson finally got the takedown he was looking for the whole fight late in round three, but it wasn’t enough to turn the tide as Cro Cop kept it chest to chest and didn’t take any damage in the last minute. This resulted in a unanimous verdict of 30-27 and 29-28 X2 for Cro Cop, winning his seventh out of seven rematches to date.

“Big” John McCarthy spoke to Cro Cop after the result was made official.

“Roy is tough like always you know. More tough for me mentally than physically. It’s hard to say you know. When you’re getting older you’re older but I feel good in here, that’s most important.”

This was not the only Heavyweight rematch in store for the evening. Dating all the way back to Bellator 115, a renewed rivalry saw former Heavyweight champion Vitaly Minakov (21-0) try to knock off Cheick Kongo (29-10-2) again, the latter riding a seven fight win streak.

Minakov was the aggressor throughout the first round, charging forward to throw looping hooks, getting clinches, and taking Kongo off his feet. Kongo turned the tide in the second and third round, though it may have been hard to tell due to long periods of inactivity by both men. The difference in the scoring was during those lone minutes of activity, Kongo was scoring with uppercuts and knees, depleting Minakov’s gas tank to the point that at the end of the third round he was doubled over on his hands and knees.

Kongo recorded the victory via unanimous decision of 30-27, 29-28 X2, avenging his previous loss to Minakov and extending his win streak to eight. He explained the long periods of inactivity to “Big” John McCarthy afterward.

“So first of all, sorry. I want to thank you guys for all of the support and love you gave me tonight. The thing is you know I came here for the fight and I got sick. I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t digest anything. At the weigh in you could see my weight was pretty low. So that’s why (I wasn’t always active). I spent four years trying to stay in place as a contender. Who else has done it?”

An exciting Welterweight fight saw the undefeated Yaroslav Amosov (20-0) face off with Erick Silva (20-9, 1 NC) in his long-awaited Bellator debut.

The only round where Amosov seemed to have any trouble with Silva was the first, where dynamic striking gave “Dynamo” pause and even drew a little blood, but it was a close frame either way. The next two rounds were dominated by takedowns, some of them hit with emphatic authority, preventing Silva from doing anything whatsoever but getting up to get thrown to the ground again. The judges scored it all for Amosov 29-27 and 29-28 X2. No post-fight interview followed.

Finally a Flyweight bout between newcomer Valerie Loureda (0-0) and her more experienced foe Colby Fletcher (1-2) kicked off the main card.

Loureda is recognized as a Taekwando master and showed off why with a flurry of strikes from all angles until she dropped Fletcher with a combo and body kick. She poured on right hand hammerfists until Kevin MacDonald stopped it by TKO at 2:55 of Round 1.

She spoke to John McCarthy about her triumphant pro debut afterward.

“This is the moment I’ve been dreaming of since I was a little girl. I dreamed of the day I would earn the opportunity to show my martial arts to the world. Thank you Scott Coker, thank you to American Top Team for being the best of the best, thank you to Taekwando for making the best of the best, thank you to Connecticut, thank you to 305, and thank you to my father and my academy — we are the Loureda sisters. Every day I go into training it’s a mental battle with myself. I want to be at this competitive level with all of these fighters. Thank you to all of you at Top Team who have supported me and made me evolve. Thank you for sparring with me and not getting mad when I go too hard!”

For complete Bellator 216 results and coverage click here.

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Bellator 214 ‘Fedor vs Bader’ Recap & Highlights!

Bellator 214 ‘Fedor vs Bader’ aired Sat. night (Jan. 26, 2019) from The Forum in Inglewood, Calif. MMA Mania brings you a post-fight recap, results, .gifs and interview highlights from a card where Fedor Emelianenko and Ryan Bader fought for the 265 lb. crown!

Bellator 214: “Fedor vs. Bader” aired last night (Sat., Jan. 26, 2019) via Paramount Network from The Forum in Inglewood, California. A year long Heavyweight Grand Prix came to its epic conclusion as Fedor Emelianenko (38-5, 1 NC) and Light Heavyweight champion Ryan Bader (26-5) fought to crown a new 265 lb. champion.

Just 35 seconds in the fight and the imitable Mike Goldberg would be yelling “IT IS ALL OVER!” Bader clipped Emelianenko with a lead left hook, followed up with a right hand as Fedor was falling down, and got two more lefts flush before referee Mike Beltran had to save him. Take a look!

Bader spoke to John McCarthy afterward.

“Yeah look I had a great night but first and foremost please give it up for that man (Fedor), one of the best to ever do it, competing against that man I have a ton of respect for him. I’m fighting Fedor, one of the greatest of all time, it’s surreal — ton of respect for him where he’s at to keep fighting. What a night. He was setting up that right hand, I beat him to the punch. My team and I gotta get with Bellator, figure out where we want to be, I want to defend both for sure. Thanks to Scott Coker and the brass for putting this tournament together.”

Featherweight sensation Aaron Pico (4-1), winner of four straight fights, sought to prove his credentials one more time against a more experienced opponent in Henry “OK” Corrales (16-3). Even though Pico is known for his incredible stopping power, and did momentarily rock Corrales with an uppercut, when the two did a mutual clinch and started throwing haymakers like a throwback bar brawl it was Corrales who landed the killer right hand that made Pico fall back unconscious at 1:07.

A stern looking Corrales spoke to “Big” John McCarthy after the BIG win.

“At my best I’ve lived a mediocre life and I’m ready to die {edited out}. You know what dude? What’s done is done. Respect to Pico and all his people, but who the fuck is next? That’s five straight. I got my shit together in the desert. I’ll go with any of these dudes it doesn’t matter.”

About ten more seconds of shout outs to people were also censored on the broadcast.

A special attraction for the main card saw the man formerly known as Jack Swagger make his pro MMA debut as Jake Hager. To give him his best chance to succeed they paired him with J.W. Kiser (1-1), who didn’t seem to know where or for whom he was fighting. Hager and his friend Ron Killings certainly knew.

Kiser fared slightly better than you’d expect, circling on the outside and connecting with a right hand to the head when Hager shot in, but Hager easily took him down and got on top in half guard. He considered a kimura but didn’t have the leverage for it. He did however succeed with a head and arm choke, getting Kiser to tap out at 2:09 of round one. After his first win Hager spoke with “Big” John McCarthy.

“I feel like hard work pays off!! Perry, Oklahoma STAND UP!!! I was trying to slow everything down in my mind, keep control, I wanted to lay on him all day. I knew I’d get that big elbow in there and it was a matter of time before I’d get that arm triangle. I like it here at Bellator, I plan on this being life for the next decade. As long as you guys want to keep seeing me out here, I’m going to keep bringing it.”

Bantamweights with only two losses between them stepped up for the main card as Juan Archuleta (21-1) faced off with Ricky Bandejas (11-1). There was one clear round for each man. Archuleta constantly switched his stance and knocked Bandejas backward with his surprising charges forward to throw big blows. Bandejas stuffed multiple takedowns in the third round and hurt Archuleta with head kicks throughout the third round. It would be up to the judges to decide it based on a close second round that could’ve gone either way.

All three scored it 29-28 for Juan “The Spaniard” Archuleta by unanimous decision.

“Aw man I knew right away if I was dropping to 135 I had to fight the best in the division and that motherfucker was the best in the division. I snapped my knee in the first round and it gave me problems in there. Hey, hat’s off, respect, Spain I’m coming January 30th to February 12th, I’ll be out there. I knew he’s a stud, a stud wrestler, stud fighter, Caldwell spit shine that thing, Horiguchi if it’s you I’m coming for one of you guys.”

Ilima-Lei Macfarlane and Rory MacDonald were at cageside to promote the recently announced Bellator card for April 27th. Macfarlane spoke about facing Veta Arteaga.

“This is the best moment of my life and nothing can top that moment but I’m so excited to be back in the cage April 27th. I want to ride that Hawaiian wave and I’m still paddling. Veta let’s get it girl.”

MacDonald talked about facing Jon Fitch in the final opening round bout of the Welterweight Grand Prix with his title on the line.

“His strongest aspect is his wrestling, and his experience as well, but I don’t think that’s going to be enough when fighting a guy who is well rounded. Everywhere he’s strong I can counter that.”

The opening bout of the card was Brandon McMahan vs. Adel Altamimi. Altamimi saw his brothers killed in front of him in Iraq before he was saved by the Marines, and he ultimately received a Bellator contract after training at Jay Glazer’s MVP gym (Merging Vets and Players). He made the most of it by winning via armbar 76 seconds into the fight.

Afterward he spoke to John McCarthy with Chris Pratt (yes that Chris Pratt) by his side.

“Man! Ah, a dream come true from Iraq, this is my home. I don’t give up in the war, I don’t give up on God, he never give up on me. This is my brother here. Unbelievable right now. First, this fight is for my dad. He’s going for chemo this week. I did this for him, challenge myself to do this, dad I love you and I know you’ll win too — don’t give up. Teammates call me Uncle Kimura. When I grab it, I’m like it’s done, it’s over with.”

For complete Bellator 214 results and coverage click here.

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RECAP! Cejudo Decks Dillashaw In 32 Seconds!

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) talents TJ Dillashaw and Henry Cejudo battled for the Flyweight crown last night (Sat., Jan. 19, 2019) at UFC Fight Night 143 inside Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.

The UFC’s new, earnest desire for super fights and double champs started 2019 off with an admittedly excellent match up. In one corner, collegiate wrestler and kickboxing specialist Dillashaw, an incredibly exciting fighter to watch who only recently retook control of his division. Opposite him was “The Messenger,” the most decorated wrestler in the sport, a man who captured the belt in 2017 by upsetting the sport’s most dominant champion. Furthermore, the result of this fight had a direct influence on the Flyweight division’s future.

There was a lot on the line in Brooklyn.

Miraculously, Cejudo lived up to the pressure put on him. The Olympian walked straight to his larger opponent, immediately belting him in the belly with a hard kick. From his Karate stance, Cejudo advanced, while Dillashaw switched his footing around and looked to throw in combination. Instead, Cejudo’s right hand slipped in behind the ear, causing Dillashaw to lose his balance and fall back.

Cejudo swarmed with some seriously accurate ground strikes, continuing to whack Dillashaw’s jaw as he hung onto a takedown attempt. Dillashaw returned to his feet briefly, only to be put back down by more punches. There would be no second return to his feet for the Bantamweight champion, as the referee stopped the bout when Cejudo began to land ground strikes a second time.

The whole thing barely lasted 30 seconds.

This was equal parts disaster for Dillashaw, incredible for the champion. It’s a remarkably bad look for Dillashaw. This is a man who repeatedly talked about how he would walk through Cejudo, how it wasn’t a challenge for him, and how he would fight Max Holloway for the Featherweight crown next. That’s a lot of talk to get put down twice in the first 30 seconds.

Even aside from all that, it’s a miserable result for Dillashaw. Ignore all the interview quotes about the science and how easy it was to make 125 lbs. — that was a brutal, 12 week weight cut that Dillashaw will remember as a bad period of life for a long time to come. Dillashaw was forced to work extremely hard and remain almost inhumanly dedicated to make the weight; the payoff was a knockout loss.

It’s a momentous win for the Flyweight champion, who really helped guarantee his division’s immediate future. Aside from that, beating Demetrious Johnson and TJ Dillashaw back-to-back? History won’t remember the arguments of “it was a bad decision!” or “Early stoppage!” Instead, it will see Cejudo taking victories over the two best of the absolute best lighter weight fighters of his era.

It’s time for a title rematch with Joseph Benavidez.

At UFC on ESPN+ 1, Henry Cejudo flattened his challenger in short fashion. What’s next for the Olympian?

For complete UFC Fight Night 143 “Dillasahw vs. Cejudo” results and play-by-play, click HERE!

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RECAP! Iaquinta Picks Apart Lee Late!

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Lightweight rivals Al Iaquinta and Kevin Lee rematched last night (Dec. 15, 2018) at UFC on FOX 31 from inside Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Iaquinta returned from a two-year layoff to knock out Diego Sanchez and get dominated by Khabib Nurmagomedov. That’s perhaps the widest competition level disparity between two consecutive fights ever, which leaves Iaquinta in this odd position where no one really knows how good he is. Alternatively, Lee has proven himself repeatedly in the last year or so, winning some big fights and putting forth a strong effort opposite Tony Ferguson in a interim lightweight title shot. For Lee, this fight was all about smashing his opponent and making his case for another opportunity at gold.

Iaquinta opened the fight feinting toward the single leg, looking to fire off punches after touching the leg. In one nice exchange, Iaquinta spun into an elbow after touching the lead leg. As the two settled into the fight, however, Lee began to operate as a Southpaw more often: a wise choice from “The MoTown Phenom.” Lee did not bother to attempt a takedown in the first, as he was too busy picking at Lee with long straights. In addition, the left kick was landing well from Lee.

Iaquinta landed some nice counters along the way and made it close. Despite Lee’s range advantage, Iaquinta managed to slip and fire his right with some consistency.

Lee kickboxed from Southpaw for the first minute on the second round before remembering that he’s an elite wrestler. Immediately, Lee wrapped the New Yorker in a body lock and forcibly muscled his foe to the mat. Moving into back mount, Lee secured a body triangle and whacked away for a couple minutes.

Miraculously, Iaquinta managed to slip away from Lee’s best position, escaping back to his feet. Lee seemed a bit foot slow from holding the triangle for so long, allowing Iaquinta to land some good body shots and a hard right hand or two before the bell.

It was Lee’s round, but escaping the back mount was a great moment for Iaquinta.

The third round began with more kickboxing, and Iaquinta looked the sharper man. Lee worked his jab and long straight, but Iaquinta finally had a true read on his timing, allowing him to slip and rip with the right hand repeatedly. Nothing too devastating landed from either man, which made Lee’s takedown in the second half of the round rather important. Once more, Lee moved quickly into the back mount, but this time he was able to maintain control until the end of the round.

To Iaquinta’s credit, he did a much better job of fighting hands and denying both major damage and the submission than any of Lee’s past foes.

Iaquinta came out looking for his overhand in the fourth round, and he found it two-to-three times in the opening minute. Lee did his best to keep a poker face, but he was on wobbly legs and backing away from exchanges. At one point, Iaquinta also landed a clean, slapping right high kick across the jaw. Oddly, Lee largely decided to back away and shift side-to-side while recovering instead of shooting for a takedown, a strange decision considering how well Lee did whenever he actually wrestled. Lee recovered a bit by the end of the round to land, but he never did attempt a takedown in the fourth.

As a result, Iaquinta picked him apart for most of the five minutes.

Lee remembered his wrestling not long into the fifth. He took a bad single leg shot and scrambled for a while, nearly securing the shot after a bad entry. However, Iaquinta ultimately managed to deny the takedown, putting the two back in the center with two minutes left on the clock. Not long after, Iaquinta landed a hard left uppercut that stunned Lee, although the younger man answered back with some hard straight counters. Iaquinta continued forward undeterred and landed a dozen right hands in the final minute, really forcing Lee to his back foot and keeping him uncomfortable. Once more, a dominant round from the New Yorker.

Ultimately, all three judges awarded Al Iaquinta the decision victory.

Iaquinta did everything he had to do here. He found the timing on his right hand and then threw it frequently, a difficult task when you consider the level of wrestler he was facing. Speaking of, Iaquinta did a fantastic job of staying low before firing the power punch and targeting the body — a pair of factors that make shooting more difficult.

In addition, Iaquinta held up tremendously well over five rounds. He ate some hard shots throughout and pushed a solid pace, but never once did he back off or really need time to recover. When he pushed ahead of Lee, he stayed ahead.

With this win, Iaquinta proves himself a true top Lightweight and deserves another big fight next. How about a brawl with Justin Gaethje?

As great a performance this was from Iaquinta, it was an equally bad one from Lee, who really failed to make the most of his skill set. In the first three rounds, Lee had zero difficulty taking Iaquinta down whenever he actually chose to wrestle. Seeing as he was banking on winning those early rounds, doesn’t it seem advisable to score those takedowns while fresh? Instead, Lee spent the entire first round striking, and the round turned out to be the deciding five minutes.

Beyond that, Lee simply looked off. He never looked all that comfortable or confident; it looked like Lee was forcing a lot of his punches. I don’t know if his weight cut was particularly harsh, if there was another issue, or if Al Iaquinta is simply that good. Even in a different losing performance, Lee looked much sharper on his feet against Tony Ferguson.

Lee needs to head back to the drawing board.

Last night, Al Iaquinta overcame the odds to out-work Kevin Lee. Who should Iaquinta face next?

For complete UFC on FOX 31 ‘Iaquinta vs. Lee 2’ results and play-by-play, click HERE!

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RECAP! Iaquinta Picks Apart Lee Late!

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Lightweight rivals Al Iaquinta and Kevin Lee rematched last night (Dec. 15, 2018) at UFC on FOX 31 from inside Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Iaquinta returned from a two-year layoff to knock out Diego Sanchez and get dominated by Khabib Nurmagomedov. That’s perhaps the widest competition level disparity between two consecutive fights ever, which leaves Iaquinta in this odd position where no one really knows how good he is. Alternatively, Lee has proven himself repeatedly in the last year or so, winning some big fights and putting forth a strong effort opposite Tony Ferguson in a interim lightweight title shot. For Lee, this fight was all about smashing his opponent and making his case for another opportunity at gold.

Iaquinta opened the fight feinting toward the single leg, looking to fire off punches after touching the leg. In one nice exchange, Iaquinta spun into an elbow after touching the lead leg. As the two settled into the fight, however, Lee began to operate as a Southpaw more often: a wise choice from “The MoTown Phenom.” Lee did not bother to attempt a takedown in the first, as he was too busy picking at Lee with long straights. In addition, the left kick was landing well from Lee.

Iaquinta landed some nice counters along the way and made it close. Despite Lee’s range advantage, Iaquinta managed to slip and fire his right with some consistency.

Lee kickboxed from Southpaw for the first minute on the second round before remembering that he’s an elite wrestler. Immediately, Lee wrapped the New Yorker in a body lock and forcibly muscled his foe to the mat. Moving into back mount, Lee secured a body triangle and whacked away for a couple minutes.

Miraculously, Iaquinta managed to slip away from Lee’s best position, escaping back to his feet. Lee seemed a bit foot slow from holding the triangle for so long, allowing Iaquinta to land some good body shots and a hard right hand or two before the bell.

It was Lee’s round, but escaping the back mount was a great moment for Iaquinta.

The third round began with more kickboxing, and Iaquinta looked the sharper man. Lee worked his jab and long straight, but Iaquinta finally had a true read on his timing, allowing him to slip and rip with the right hand repeatedly. Nothing too devastating landed from either man, which made Lee’s takedown in the second half of the round rather important. Once more, Lee moved quickly into the back mount, but this time he was able to maintain control until the end of the round.

To Iaquinta’s credit, he did a much better job of fighting hands and denying both major damage and the submission than any of Lee’s past foes.

Iaquinta came out looking for his overhand in the fourth round, and he found it two-to-three times in the opening minute. Lee did his best to keep a poker face, but he was on wobbly legs and backing away from exchanges. At one point, Iaquinta also landed a clean, slapping right high kick across the jaw. Oddly, Lee largely decided to back away and shift side-to-side while recovering instead of shooting for a takedown, a strange decision considering how well Lee did whenever he actually wrestled. Lee recovered a bit by the end of the round to land, but he never did attempt a takedown in the fourth.

As a result, Iaquinta picked him apart for most of the five minutes.

Lee remembered his wrestling not long into the fifth. He took a bad single leg shot and scrambled for a while, nearly securing the shot after a bad entry. However, Iaquinta ultimately managed to deny the takedown, putting the two back in the center with two minutes left on the clock. Not long after, Iaquinta landed a hard left uppercut that stunned Lee, although the younger man answered back with some hard straight counters. Iaquinta continued forward undeterred and landed a dozen right hands in the final minute, really forcing Lee to his back foot and keeping him uncomfortable. Once more, a dominant round from the New Yorker.

Ultimately, all three judges awarded Al Iaquinta the decision victory.

Iaquinta did everything he had to do here. He found the timing on his right hand and then threw it frequently, a difficult task when you consider the level of wrestler he was facing. Speaking of, Iaquinta did a fantastic job of staying low before firing the power punch and targeting the body — a pair of factors that make shooting more difficult.

In addition, Iaquinta held up tremendously well over five rounds. He ate some hard shots throughout and pushed a solid pace, but never once did he back off or really need time to recover. When he pushed ahead of Lee, he stayed ahead.

With this win, Iaquinta proves himself a true top Lightweight and deserves another big fight next. How about a brawl with Justin Gaethje?

As great a performance this was from Iaquinta, it was an equally bad one from Lee, who really failed to make the most of his skill set. In the first three rounds, Lee had zero difficulty taking Iaquinta down whenever he actually chose to wrestle. Seeing as he was banking on winning those early rounds, doesn’t it seem advisable to score those takedowns while fresh? Instead, Lee spent the entire first round striking, and the round turned out to be the deciding five minutes.

Beyond that, Lee simply looked off. He never looked all that comfortable or confident; it looked like Lee was forcing a lot of his punches. I don’t know if his weight cut was particularly harsh, if there was another issue, or if Al Iaquinta is simply that good. Even in a different losing performance, Lee looked much sharper on his feet against Tony Ferguson.

Lee needs to head back to the drawing board.

Last night, Al Iaquinta overcame the odds to out-work Kevin Lee. Who should Iaquinta face next?

For complete UFC on FOX 31 ‘Iaquinta vs. Lee 2’ results and play-by-play, click HERE!

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Bellator 213 ‘Macfarlane Vs Letourneau’ Recap & Highlights!

Ilima-Lei Macfarlane

Bellator 213 ‘Macfarlane vs Letourneau’ aired Sat. night (Dec. 15, 2018) from Neal S. Blaisdell Center in Honolulu, Hawaii. MMA Mania brings you a post-fight recap, results, .gifs and interview highlights from a card where Ilima-Lei Macfarlane defended the title against Valerie Letourneau!

Bellator 213: “Macfarlane vs. Letourneau” aired last night (Sat., Dec. 15, 2018) via DAZN from Neal S. Blaisdell Center in Honolulu, Hawaii. The Flyweight title was on the line in the main event as the undefeated Ilima-Lei Macfarlane (8-0) took on former UFC contender Valerie Letourneau (10-6), looking for her third straight Bellator win.

At the start it looked as though Letourneau was willing to use her physical attributes to her advantage, staying at distance and forcing Macfarlane to come to her. They exchanged leg kicks, Macfarlane occasionally found the range, but it was a toss up to this reporter who landed more often. Even “Big” John McCarthy said it was “real close” afterward.

The second round was not any easier to call. Letourneau was taken down 12 seconds in but Macfarlane may have made a mistake by stepping back to come over the top. She wound up too high on top of Letourneau, who was able to reverse the position and deck Macfarlane with a couple of hard rights. Macfarlane survived but may have lost R2.

The third round was when everything started to flow decisively in one direction. Despite Letourneau’s attempt to widen her stance and stuff the takedown, a relentless Macfarlane drug her to her knees, battered her with her hands, then completed the takedown and took her back with over three minutes to work. When Macfarlane has your back with that much time left you’re in deep trouble. Letourneau fought off an armbar but it was the setup to cinch the triangle choke, and Letourneau had no choice but to tap at 3:19.

A visibly emotional champion spoke to John McCarthy after successfully defending her Flyweight title on home soil in her home town.

“I don’t know where those leg kicks came from. I’ve never thrown those, ask my corner, I just felt it tonight. In the third round I decided I’m not going to play her game I’m going to play my game. Oh man. I could feel it backstage before I even walked out. I was crying backstage, I was crying when I walked out, I love all of you guys. It’s the best day of my life, it’s the best night of my life, I love you guys!”

In addition former UFC Light Heavyweight champion “The Dragon” Lyoto Machida (24-8) took on former Bellator Middleweight champion Rafael Carvalho (15-2). The first round was bad news for Machida as Carvalho broke his nose with a stiff punch. The second round appeared to swing toward Machida as he rang Carvalho’s bell with a head kick.

Things got even better when “The Dragon” got a takedown to full mount in Round 3.

Carvalho was game though and survived everything, including a late guillotine attempt when he got up from one last takedown. At least one judge thought Carvalho did enough standing to give him two rounds 29-28, but the other two saw it the same for Machida. He spoke to John McCarthy after winning his Bellator debut.

“First of all, ALOHA EVERYONE! So Rafael he’s a tough opponent, so he gave me a hard punch but I could take that, if he broke my nose no problem. What’s important is never quit guys – don’t let other people make you quit your dreams. Thank you guys! I want that belt. I want to be a Bellator champion! I’ll be ready for one of those (Mousasi or Lovato).”

Undefeated fighters also took their share of the spotlight as jiu-jitsu specialist Neiman Gracie (8-0) took on collegiate wrestler turned MMA star Ed Ruth (6-0). Ed Ruth proved to be a survivor early as he avoided a triangle in the first, two attempts to grapevine his leg in the second, and a very nasty looking armbar in the third.

Unfortunately for Ruth the Welterweight tournament bracket calls for extra rounds and the fourth was his undoing. Gracie took down the collegiate all American with a blast double, had a full mount 25 seconds later, and when Ruth gave up his back the rear naked choke finished it at 2:17 of Round 4.

Although Gracie had fewer words here than in our interview with him he made every one count when “Big” John McCarthy gave him the mic.

“Since the day I was born I’ve been proving everybody wrong. Jiu-jitsu, this is jiu-jitsu. I want my belt!!!”

Light Heavyweights looking to regain their standing in the division stepped up in Hawaii as “King Mo” Muhammed Lawal (21-7, 1 NC) took on Liam McGeary (12-3).

Both men needed to bounce back from recent defeats, but McGeary needed it more after dropping two in a row and fought like a man with his back to the wall. Lawal’s strategy was to attack the leg a la Vadim Nemkov but didn’t do enough damage to make McGeary fall. By the end of the second round McGeary’s confidence was growing as he had hurt Lawal with combos and then rocked “King Mo” with elbows to the head on a takedown attempt.

McGeary finished it in the third with a big right hand that made Lawal fall straight backward — a head kick shaving his dome as he fell to the ground. The official time of the knockout was 53 seconds.

“I wasn’t expecting him to throw kicks man. He threw some fucking good ones as well. This is fantastic after the last two losses that I had. As for the leg I could feel it was swelling and I knew if I looked at it it would be even worse. My training partners worked hard for a third, fourth, fifth, tenth round. We were ready to go. (The head kick) would have took his head off it it landed so I’m glad it didn’t.”

Local Lightweight prospects with equal records squared off at 1-0 as Kona Oliveira faced Nainoa Dung. Someone’s “oh” was about to go. Oliveira seemed to have things in hand in the first two rounds scoring takedowns and working on top, although Dung made the second round more competitive than the first with his strikes.

Dung turned things around in the third by blocking a takedown, searching for an anaconda choke from the front headlock, then transitioning to full mount and laying on a beating. “Big” John McCarthy, the crowd and Oliveira felt it was stopped early though their opinions can’t overrule the referee, who officially awarded the win to Dung at 2:05 of Round 3 by TKO. He spoke to McCarthy afterward.

“That’s what I’m about. A real champion always finds a way to come back and win. No way (it was stopped early). He’s in denial. He knows he quit and the referee knows it. There’s no way he was coming back from that.”

For complete Bellator 213 results and coverage click here.

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TUF 28 Results, Recap For Ep. 7

If you missed episode six click here for a complete recap.

After a two-week hiatus to make room for MLB playoffs, Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) was back on FOX Sports 1 last night (Weds., Oct. 24, 2018) with episode seven of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 28, featuring a split cast of men’s heavyweights and women’s featherweights.

Juan Espino is tasked with battling Ben Sosoli for the next spot in the heavyweight quarterfinals, but not before we take a look at what happened to Leah Letson after her unanimous decision win over Bea Malecki. Her face looks like an old cather’s mitt but the good news is, she’s no longer interested in switching to Team Whittaker, which means she will also stop complaining about it.

Woo hoo!

We take a closer look at the Gran Canaria, part of the Canary Islands in Spain. That’s where Espino hails from and we meet some of his family. They aren’t the biggest fans of combat sports and his mom is afraid her son will get hurt. Turns out the Spaniard had a rough childhood but was able to turn his life around after discovering wrestling. Grappling is his bread and butter so of course coach Whittaker wants him to stick to what got him to the big dance and not get lured into a bar fight. That means staying on the outside and avoiding the explosive attack of his opponent. The good news is, this is only a two-round fight, so cardio should not be the deciding factor.

Then again, these are heavyweights.

On the other side of things, Sosoli prepares for the fight that worries coach Gastelum the most, though “Big Ben” expects this contest to become a wrestling match once Espino gets a taste of his power. He wanted to compete in competitive sports and picked MMA because it doesn’t require running, though I think we would all agree that we’ve seen some sprinting inside the cage, usually to avoid getting pieced up. Sosoli is from Melbourne by way of New Zealand and talks about fighting in the streets as a kid, then gives us a teary story about his marital separation and not seeing his kids.

Thanks for the lumpy throat, dude.

Maurice Greene has an issue with the way Espino was “fake” with him during tryouts and yells at him a bunch of times while Espino is gearing up for his big fight. It should be noted that Greene is holding a beer — one of many, I’m sure — during his meltdown. “I’m a genuine person!” he yells. Espino tells him to relax and that request is denied. Later that night, Greene admits that he’s an emotional guy and his teammates suggest he’s overreacting. He decides to “not be the asshole” and walks over to hash it out. Things end with a bro hug and hopefully the issues have been put to bed.

Both fighters make weight without incident.

265 lbs.: Team Whittaker’s Juan Espino (8-1) vs. Team Gastelum’s Ben Sosoli (6-2)

Round 1: Quick touch of gloves and they bounce around the cage. Sosoli has his hands at his waist and gives Espino zero respect. Gastelum calling for jabs. Espino shoots from long range and they crash into the cage. After a brief struggle, Sosoli is dumped on his ass. Whittaker tells the excited Espino to take his time. He does, and the next four minutes consist of Espino sprawled out on top of Sosoli dropping intermittent punches. Not the most exciting fight but he’s winning quite easily. Sosoli gets back to his feet with 15 seconds left and then gets tossed once again. 10-9 Espino.

Round 2: Gloves are touched and Sosoli is once again leaning in with his hands at his side and takes two punches right in the face because of it. He returns fire and Espino gets on his bicycle but the ensuing scramble results in a takedown, so now Sosoli is right back where he left off in the first frame, only now he’s more tired. Referee wants more action from Espino so he transitions and tries to take the back. Sosoli uses the motion to get upright, then gets dragged right back down. Referee unhappy with the amount of action so hammerfists begin to fall. It’s kind of amazing how in 2018 some fighters still have no idea how to work from the bottom and just seem content to be covered and smothered like a Denny’s hash brown. Lame.

Final result: Espino def. Sosoli by unanimous decision

Here’s where we stand after episode seven:

TEAM WHITTAKER:

Anderson Da Silva
Julija Stoliarenko
Juan Espino
Leah Letson
Michel Batista
Larissa Pacheco
Przemyslaw Mysiala
Katharina Lehner

TEAM GASTELUM:

Ben Sosoli
Macy Chiasson
Maurice Greene
Pannie Kianzad
Josh Parisian
Bea Malecki
Justin Frazier
Marciea Allen

Stay tuned next week as Larissa Pacheco battles Macy Chiasson for the next spot in the women’s featherweight quarterfinals!

See you in seven!

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Bellator 206 ‘Mousasi Vs MacDonald’ Recap & Highlights!

Bellator 205

Bellator 206 ‘Mousasi vs MacDonald’ aired Sat. night (Sept. 29, 2018) from SAP Center in San Jose, Calif. MMA Mania brings you a post-fight recap, results, .gifs and interview highlights from a card where Rory MacDonald went up to 185 lbs. to challenge Gegard Mousasi!

Bellator 206: “Mousasi vs. MacDonald” took place last night (Sat., Sept. 29, 2018) at SAP Center in San Jose, California. Gegard Mousasi (44-6-2) put his title on the line as Rory MacDonald (20-4) came up from Welterweight to Middleweight to seek a second belt to put around his waist.

The size difference was as apparent in Round 1 as was Mousasi’s power, as he repeatedly snapped MacDonald’s head back with his jab, and when MacDonald could land it didn’t seem to cause any damage in return. He forced MacDonald to fight off his back foot for nearly the entire round.

Things went from bad to worse for MacDonald in round two. He dove for a leg looking for a submission and Mousasi was not snake bit. In fact the opposite happened – he immediately busted MacDonald wide open, worked his way to the full mount near the three minute mark, then poured on the fists and elbows until Herb Dean stopped it at 3:23 by TKO.

Mousasi spoke to “Big” John McCarthy after his impressive Middleweight title defense.

“Much respect to Rory. I like him a lot. Phenomenal fighter, phenomenal guy. Thanks for taking the fight and making this a super-fight for Bellator. I knew I had better stand up and the reach advantage, I felt like I had the speed advantage, the plan was to make him panic and go for the takedown. I had hurt him a little bit already and it went perfect. It was just the fight I needed. Next is Lovato and then Machida if he wins. We need a lot of drug testing for Machida. I think (Lovato) deserves it. I want to fight him. April I will be ready for (Machida) if he wins but I’m not gonna wait six months for Machida.”

In the co-main event two legendary warriors meet for the fourth time as Quinton “Rampage” Jackson (37-13) and Wanderlei Silva (35-13-1-1) met in a clash of Heavyweight titans.

DAZN made sure to bring MMA fans the pre-fight breakdown of their respective stats.

As Mauro Ranallo is fond of saying, “MOMMA MIA.” This fight was contested entirely on the feet, with Jackson working the left jab to set up the right hook, and Silva clinching when necessary and firing counter strikes when available. Silva got tired of the cautious forward movement of Jackson early and dared him to go for broke. When Jackson rocked him late in round one and Silva started backpedaling, Jackson returned the favor and goaded his foe.

Mike Beltran kept law and order between rounds until they could come out and restart the fireworks. Jackson’s timing was largely on point as he read Silva’s strikes and either ducked the windmilling blows or sidestepped the kicks. He’d rock Silva and Silva would hang on trying to clear his head, but four minutes in Jackson landed an emphatic right that Silva’s chin could no longer withstand, pouring it on until Beltran awarded a TKO at 4:32.

“Big” John McCarthy stepped in to talk to the victorious “Rampage” Jackson afterward.

“I watched Wanderlei fight before I was even a fighter. I saw Wanderlei destroy a guy with knees. I was instantly a fan. Much respect to Wanderlei. We’re never going to get another Wanderlei so let’s pay respect to him. He rocked me. My chin was tested tonight. When he rocked me this time I had a flashback to when he rocked me in Japan. I knew it was coming to an end. I’ve been training boxing for a long time in Manchester. I’ve been training muay thai with Tiki, sneaky, and Wanderlei is very crafty. I got great great sparring partners. This camp was like the best camp I ever had.”

Kicking off the Welterweight Grand Prix in Bellator was an opening round bout between two former champions — Douglas Lima (29-7) and Andrey Koreshkov (21-2).

The first round was almost a stalemate. The crowd grew frustrated with referee Josh Rosenthal’s lack of separation as Koreshkov tried and failed to get multiple takedowns, lifting Lima high in the air a couple of times, but Lima always landed on his feet.

The second round was dominantly for Lima. He landed multiple leg kicks to Koreshkov and John McCarthy raved on commentary about the power and technique. Koreshkov’s only response was to stall against the fence. He didn’t seem to land any effective strikes the entire five minutes. The third round was essentially “rinse lather repeat” of the second.

After a fourth round that looked a lot like the previous two until the clapper, Lima landed a hard right hand that momentarily made Koreshkov wobble on his feet, and he charged forward to pour it on against the fence until the bell. Lima had a big lead going into Round 5.

The exclamation point on the bout for Douglas Lima was a sprawl to block a takedown that gave him a dominant position on the ground, throwing multiple lefts and rights from Koreshkov’s back, then taking the back with both hooks in for a tight rear-naked choke. Koreshkov had never been submitted before in his career, and perhaps was unwilling to let this be the first time he tapped, so he simply went out cold and Rosenthal broke the hold.

The official time of the technical submission was 3:04. Lima spoke to McCarthy afterward.

“Just before anything I want to thank God for this victory, for bringing me here healthy. Koreshkov is a tough guy, I’m sorry if it wasn’t exciting, but you can’t blink against a guy like that. Man we got it done. I was breaking him, he was slowing down a little bit, and I was able to capitalize. Man you know that’s the type of guy he is. He’d rather go to sleep than tap. It was an honor for me to compete against him one more time.”

Featherweight young gun Aaron Pico (3-1) was put to work again versus the much more experienced Leandro Higo (18-4).

Aaron Pico once again showed his ability to outwork and out-strike vastly more experienced opponents. The scary thing is that Higo was clearly out on his feet after being rocked a second time halfway through the round, but referee Mark Smith didn’t step in until Higo stumbled and fell trying a back fist. Pico spoke to John McCarthy afterward.

“Well I’ve been saying before he never fought a guy on my level, who hits as hard as me, who pushes the pace like me. It feels good to go out there and do it to a tough guy like Leandro Higo. Brazilians come to fight. I respect that. I just had to regain focus, use my jab, because I knew he would start running. You gotta just roll with the punches like they say. My progression is going fantastic, working with the best coaches in the world. Three or four years from now nobody on the planet will touch me in this cage.”

Also on the main card was a Strawweight bout between Keri Taylor-Melendez (2-0) and the debuting Dakota Zimmerman.

Melendez was winning most of the first round after a takedown and a huge slam, but Zimmerman capitalized on a momentary positional mistake and trapped an arm, then wrapped her legs around Melendez’ head and made her stay on defense until the bell, giving Zimmerman a potential scorecard lead early in the fight.

Zimmerman tried multiple times to get a takedown in Round 2 to no avail, pulled guard a couple of times, and each time Melendez calmly walked her across the cage. The second time Melendez shook her off and landed almost a dozen unanswered knee strikes to the body to tie things up going into the third frame.

There was an urgency to Zimmerman’s forward aggression to open the last round as though she knew it was too close to call, but the one takedown she landed was almost instantly neutralized as Melendez pushed off the fence with her feet to get a sweep. She landed a couple of upkicks when Melendez escaped but not directly enough to rock her, and she pulled guard late and let Melendez finish the fight on top.

Two of the three judges scored it 29-28 for Melendez to earn the split decision, while one judge gave a 29-28 to Zimmerman. No post-fight interview followed.

Rounding out DAZN action was a Featherweight bout between Gaston Bolanos (3-1) and Ysidro Gutierrez (4-2).

Bolanos landed head kicks several times throughout the first round but missed with his signature spinning elbow. Due to his high rate of activity and a few takedowns he clearly took the the opening frame 10-9.

The second round saw the “Dream Killer” blow Gutierrez out of the water by landing a powerful left hand behind the ear and multiple right hands from behind on the ground, forcing referee Mike Beltran to save a defenseless man at 1:37.

Bolanos spoke to “Big” John McCarthy afterward about his impressive knockout win.

“First of all thank you mi gente. All my people thank you so much. I’ve been dreaming about this interview my whole life. Yes sir, Darren and I worked a lot, (he said) don’t just worry about getting back up, look for your shots and they’ll be there and that’s what we did tonight.”

He also had more to say backstage after the in cage interview.

For complete Bellator 206 results and coverage click here.

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TUF 28 Results, Recap For Ep. 5

If you missed episode four click here for a complete recap.

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is back on FOX Sports 1 later tonight (Sept. 26, 2018) with episode five of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 28, featuring a split cast of men’s heavyweights and women’s featherweights.

Tonight, Team Whittaker looks to capitalize on last week’s submission win by featherweight Julija Stoliarenko by sending Michel Batista into heavyweight battle against Team Gastelum’s Josh Parisian.

Here’s where we stand heading into episode five:

TEAM WHITTAKER:

Anderson Da Silva
Julija Stoliarenko
Juan Francisco Espino Diepa
Leah Letson
Michel Batista
Larissa Pacheco
Przemyslaw Mysiala
Katharina Lehner

TEAM GASTELUM:

Ben Sosoli
Macy Chiasson
Maurice Greene
Pannie Kianzad
Josh Parisian
Bea Malecki
Justin Frazier
Marciea Allen

Be sure to tune in TONIGHT at 10 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1 and follow along with us in the comments section below. Then hit us up against just as soon as the credits roll for our complete results and recap.

See you tonight!

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RECAP! Kunchenko Brawls Past Alves!

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Welterweight strikers Thiago Alves and Alexey Kunchenko dueled last night (Sept. 15, 2018) at UFC Fight Night 136 inside Olimpiyskiy Stadium in Moscow, Russia.

It’s been many years since Alves contended for the Welterweight title opposite Georges St. Pierre, but the Muay Thai wrecking machine remains an active fighter today. As of late, Alves has spent his time trying to kick his way past fellow veterans or up-and-comers. Filling the role of prospect opposite the Brazilian was Russia’s Kunchenko, a hard-hitting kickboxer who was looking to prove his talents on the big stage. Kunchenko didn’t begin his MMA career until later in life, which added a bit of pressure on “Wolverine” to impress last night.

The newcomer took the center of the cage early, but Alves answered with solid low kicks. Before long, Kunchenko began to establish the jab, and the Muay Thai vs. boxing match up materialized from paper to inside the Octagon.

At first, Alves was finding more consistent success, landing low kicks commonly and mixing in the occasional punches. However, Kunchenko did begin finding a home for his right hand, and the exchanges consistently heated up as the round wore on.

The opening five minutes were very closely contested.

Alves continued to work behind the jab and kicks into the second, though he mixed a more active body kick into his attack as well. Kunchenko responded with by kicking more himself, and his counter right hand was scoring too.

For the most part, the two exchanged hard blows rather evenly. Alves’ tight guard and defense were on display, but Kunchenko’s quickness and power still had noticeable effect. The most effective weapon continued to be Alves’ low kick, which was buckling the Russian’s lead leg and doing obvious damage.

It was a competitive but clear round for the UFC veteran.

Possibly down heading into the third, Kunchenko had to turn it up. At first, it didn’t seem likely, as the Brazilian continued to slam him with hard kicks and keep him on the outside. In fact, it was Alves pressuring now, keeping Kunchenko on his back foot as he continued to ram his legs and body with heavy kicks.

At about the halfway point in the round, something changed. Kunchenko seemed a bit more comfortable despite their mutual fatigue, and the momentum soon shifted as a result. Pushing forward, Kunchenko’s 1-2 snapped Alves head back repeatedly, and he closed distance further into clinch. From that range, Kunchenko landed hard knees and a brief takedown.

The Russian finished the fight very strong.

Ultimately, it was enough to see his hand raised. Some will argue home cooking — an argument I’m not completely against — but the decision did hinge on a very close first round.

Kunchenko definitely showed both his skill and position on the roster in this match up. His hands were fast and dangerous, piercing the generally solid defense of Alves many times. In addition, Kunchenko showed off both his toughness and aggression, pushing through difficult moments and a battered leg to win a competitive fight.

At 34 years old, this is likely the best Kunchenko is going to be. As is, he doesn’t look the part of title contender, but there are plenty of exciting match ups for Kunchenko at 170 lbs. Perhaps Max Griffin could be next for “Wolverine?”

As for Alves, the longtime veteran has nothing to be ashamed of. He fought well against a game opponent, and more than anything else proved that there’s plenty left in the tank for Alves. No matter how many times we get to see it, it’s a joy to watch Alves destroy legs and buckle knees.

“Pitbull” is still very worth-watching.

Last night, Alexey Kunchenko battled his way to a hard-fought victory. Who should the Russian face next?

For complete UFC Fight Night 136 “Hunt vs. Oleinik” results and play-by-play, click HERE!

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