Tag Archive for Redemption

Mike Perry discusses Santiago Ponzinibbio fight: It’s redemption to beat the guy who beat the guy

When Mike Perry steps inside of the Octagon at UFC on FOX 26 on Dec. 16 live on FOX from inside Bell MTS Place in Winnipeg, Canada, he’ll have the opportunity to overthrow rising welterweight contender Santiago Ponzinibbio.

The main card tilt is undoubtedly Perry’s biggest test to date and a challenge he’s been waiting to conquer for a long time. In fact, the idea of defeating Ponzinibbio, who is coming off a scintillating knockout win over Icelandic contender Gunnar Nelson, offers a sense of redemption for “Platinum.”

“I seen that fight with Gunnar Nelson and it’s just another blessing, man,” Perry said during a Facebook Live interview with Dan Hardy ahead of UFC Fight Night 118 in Gdansk, Poland. “I guess I love that word, huh? It’s just a true thing that so many good things happen to me. It’s the fight I want. I got a game opponent that steps forward. We all know I come forward. I come to fight. I’m down to take one or two just to land one good one. Santiago [Ponzinibbio] is going to move forward and I’m going to hit him and we’ll see what happens when that happens. It’s kind of redemption for me to beat the guy, who beat the guy, who beat the guy.”

Perry, 26, has quickly ascended the UFC’s 170-pound ladder with four crushing knockout victories, including a Performance of the Night finish over veteran Jake Ellenberger. The hard-hitting gunslinger was scheduled to step up in competition and fight former title challenger Thiago Alves at UFC Fight Night 116 this past September, but “Pitbull” pulled out and Perry was left to quickly dispose of Octagon newcomer Alex Reyes.

With Ponzinibbio on deck, “Platinum” again has an opportunity to defeat a contender higher than him in the pecking order. And considering Ponzinibbio locked down the biggest win of his career when he flattened “Gunni” back in July, Perry finds himself in a good position entering UFC on FOX 26.

“People thought Gunnar Nelson was definitely the next champ,” Perry explained. “For sure. His ability in the Octagon, ground game, striking, trains with Conor McGregor — the super notorious biggest fighter in MMA, the biggest draw, the money man — and he’s right there with him. Calm and relaxed. That’s a weird thing that he has, how clam and relaxed he is that people fear. And here comes this Argentinian and he knocked him out in the first round and I’m going to do the same to him. It’s funny how the world turns.”

If “Platinum” is able to continue winning fights in devastating fashion and puts the Argentinian to sleep this December, he’ll put himself on a growing list of exciting title contenders entering 2018. But Ponzinibbio is an extremely dangerous opponent who packs a similar punch, so Perry must proceed with caution.

UFC on FOX 26 will be headlined by a welterweight clash between former divisional king Robbie Lawler and former UFC lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos.

For more UFC on FOX 26 fight card news click here.

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Jesse Taylor discusses redemption win at TUF 25 Finale: ‘Dhiego would have had to kill me’

Mixed martial arts (MMA) veteran Jesse Taylor captured ultimate redemption last night (Fri., July 7, 2017) at TUF 25 Finale live on FOX Sports 1 from inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, when he submitted Dhiego Lima via rear-naked choke to claim Ultimate Fighter rights. The 34-year-old journeyman looked absolutely dominant as he controlled the Brazilian from the opening bell before finding his opening for a finish early into the second round.

Taylor’s efforts were admirable, especially considering he was facing a guy in Lima who has already fought under the bright lights of the Octagon. Still, “JT Money” was not surprised by the outcome of his suffocating efforts.

“I think it was a pretty perfect fight,” Taylor said during a backstage interview with UFC’s Megan Olivi (shown above). “I do what I always do. But I think it goes to say that I keep going, I’m a grinder. I’m not going to stop. Again, it’s still kind of surreal to me. Kind of feels like a dream. Maybe it’s the punch to the head that makes it feel like a dream.

“There’s nothing that could stop me. Dhiego would have had to kill me or severely knock me out to stop me.”

Remember, Taylor punched his ticket to compete in the finale of The Ultimate Fighter Season 7 before drunkenly kicking the window out of a limousine door and getting booted from the reality show entirely. The submission expert was not going to let another opportunity slip through his hands when he found out about Ultimate Fighter: Redemption.

“Once I found out about the show it was my show to win,” Taylor said. “The story was mine and I lived up to it, thank God. I wanted this more than anything in the world. I truly did.”

With his first UFC victory officially in the books, Taylor is hoping to take a little break to spend some time with his family. But once that mini hiatus is over, the newly-crowned TUF winner is aiming to quickly climb the welterweight ladder towards UFC gold.

“I do want a little time off,” Taylor explained. “Saying that, I called this the end of one journey and the beginning of a next. I want to make a run for it. I think 170 has a lot of sharks, but at the same time I think there’s no star power. I think it could be open for the taking if I have a couple of more good performances. I could very well get the belt. That’s my goal; to take it for the full ride and go for that belt.”

For more TUF 25 Finale results and coverage click here.

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The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) ‘Redemption’ results, recap, and discussion (Ep. 9)

Episode nine is titled “Killashaw.”

Episode nine of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF): “Redemption” was back on FOX Sports 1 last night (Weds., June 14, 2017), featuring a cast of ex-TUF guys trying to redeem themselves and earn another crack at UFC superstardom under the tutelage of head coaches Cody Garbrandt and TJ Dillashaw.

If you missed last week’s episode click here for our complete recap.

We kick things off with a preview of the next welterweight quarterfinal fight, sending Diego Lima into battle against fellow Team Dillashaw housemate Gilbert Smith, as Hayder Hassan is the last man standing from Team Garbrandt.

Smith is rightfully concerned about Coach Dillashaw’s ability to prepare two teammates to fight one another without compromising their respective gameplans, a conundrum that has led past coaches to defer training duties to assistant coaches in previous seasons.

Dillashaw insists he’ll play it right down the middle.

Smith gets first looks inside the gym where he’s smashing pads and looking super serious. Coach Dillashaw remarks how Smith is the one contestant who doesn’t joke around or play grab-ass, instead focusing on his mission.

Win at all costs.

Team Garbrandt has nothing to do this week because all but one of its fighters has been eliminated. So, as you might expect with idle hands, things start to get troublesome as “No Love” pranks his bantamweight rival by pasting a snake tongue on Dillashaw’s poster (because of this).

Dillashaw promises retribution.

Coach Garbrandt shows up the following night to take the contestants out for a night on the town (Hibachi!) and what TUF season would be complete without drunken idiots making fools of themselves?

Case in point: Julian Lane on the stripper pole.

“Grumpy” Gilbert Smith (TUF 17) was not interested in partaking in the evening’s tomfoolery, though he seemed to have no problem chowing down at dinner. Joe Stevenson makes a non-alcoholic toast and Smith abruptly exits stage left.

Then goes into the men’s room to run (seriously).

The next day, Coach Dillashaw debuts a new round of “Killashaw” team t-shirts with giant snakes on the back. I guess if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. The cameras then focus on Lima’s preparation for later in the show.

It should be noted that Lima is 5-0 in TUF elimination fights.

Both fighters make weight without incident and they bro hug to make it official. There is the usual pre-fight piano music and close-up shots of each fighter, but that’s just filler until the bout gets underway, so I’ll spare you the gory details.

170 lbs.: Gilbert Smith (12-6) vs. Dhiego Lima (12-5)

Round 1: Touch of gloves to get things started and Lima opens with a front kick. Smith returns fire. Fair amount of juking and jiving as they feel each other out and try to establish range. Lima backs him up with strikes but Smith shucks him off and they reset. Smith is flat-footed looking for power shots while Lima working jabs and kicks from range. Smith catches a kick and tries to convert it to a single-leg takedown but Lima uses the fence to give him pause. Smith settles for wall-and-stall and looks for a scoop slam but gets denied. Lima reverses and gets a takedown of his own. Smith rolls and gives up his back. Lima slinks his arm in but can’t find the choke. Smith stands up and powers out, then gets a takedown of his own. He doesn’t really do anything with it until the last few seconds when ground-and-pound finds its mark. Lima escapes just before the horn. I had it 10-9 Lima.

Round 2: Touch of gloves and we’re right back at it. Sort of a paint-by-numbers offense from both fighters as they kick, back away, punch, back away, etc. Smith rushes in with power shots and they bounce into the fence. Lima spins and looks for the takedown but Smith is having none of it. Lima backs away and they go back to the center of the cage. Smith lands a punishing combination but Lima is sure-footed. Smith starting to drop his hands and strike less robotically. Lima gets bullied into the cage and gives up his back. Smith changes levels but Lima is too tall to get pulled south. Smith starts stalking with punches, perhaps realizing that Lima is not hurting him with his fists. Smith fires off another shot and Lima goes down; however, Smith can’t hold him and gets reversed. Lima jumps up and cracks him on the jaw and Smith does the stanky leg. He quickly recovers and walks forward with punches. Lima decides a takedown is the best approach and does that Johny Hendricks head-between-the-legs-stalled-shot thingy. They separate and wing punches until the horn. My score is 10-9 Smith.

Round 3: One last touch of gloves and this will probably come down to who is less fatigued. Lima drives forward with punches and backs Smith into the fence. Smith tries to punch his way out of it but Lima using those Dhalsim arms to keep him at bay. Smith eats two hard jabs. Then a 1-2. Lima drops down and shoots, dumping an exhausted Smith to the floor and raining down punches. Smith gives up his back and rolls out, landing on top and dropping some punches of his own. Lima looks for the triangle choke but Smith is too sweaty to stay trapped. That said, he uses the hold as an excuse to rest and catch his breath. He eventually breaks free and goes back to mug-and-slug. Lima rolls free and gets back to his feet. This fight will be decided in the last 30 seconds. They punch each other in the face until time expires. I have it 10-9 Lima.

Final result: Lima def. Smith by unanimous decision

Here’s where we stand after episode nine:

Team Garbrandt

Seth Baczynski
Mehdi Baghdad
Eddie Gordon
Hayder Hassan
Julian Lane
Justin Edwards
Johnny Nunez

Team Dillashaw

James Krause
Jesse Taylor
Ramsey Nijem
Dhiego Lima
Joe Stevenson
Tom Gallicchio
Gilbert Smith

And the remaining brackets:

Quarterfinals:

Tom Gallicchio vs. Justin Edwards
Dhiego Lima vs. Gilbert Smith
Jesse Taylor vs. Hayder Hassan
James Krause vs. Ramsey Nijem

Semifinals:

Tom Gallicchio vs. TBD
Dhiego Lima vs. TBD

After the fight, Smith decides to (tearfully) retire from mixed martial arts (MMA).

Stay tuned next week for both remaining quarterfinal fights, then some more hijinks from Coach Dillashaw and Coach Garbrandt. In addition, a semifinalist gets injured and is replaced by an eliminated contestant.

See you in seven!

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The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) ‘Redemption’ results, recap, and discussion (Ep. 8)

Episode eight is titled “Kryptonite.”

Episode seven of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF): “Redemption” was back on FOX Sports 1 last night (Weds., May 31, 2017), featuring a cast of ex-TUF guys trying to redeem themselves and earn another crack at UFC superstardom under the tutelage of head coaches Cody Garbrandt and TJ Dillashaw.

If you missed last week’s episode, click here for our complete recap.

We’ve already met everyone and we’ve got two fights to get through, so it’s right to the fight prep. We start with a look at Team Garbrandt’s Hayder Hassan ahead of his wildcard bout with Joe Stevenson. Garbrandt has him doing a “fight simulation,” wherein he works with multiple guys in the ring constantly shooting on him as he works the pads. Cody also warns him to be ready for the “best” Joe Stevenson.

Before we get to Joe Stevenson, Cody gets in TJ’s face about his social media comments. Cody once again does his best HOLD ME BACK, BRO routine as he warns TJ not to “run [his] mouth on the Internet.” TJ replies that he’ll say “whatever the f*ck [he] wants,” which comes off as far more reasonable than the time Angela Magana said it.

Now that that idiocy’s done with, TJ explains that he’s focusing on head movement and forceful takedowns for Stevenson. At the same time TJ makes sure not to work him too hard after his war with Justin Edwards.

Coincidentally, the fight with Hassan will take place on Stevenson’s son’s birthday. He mentions that he also fought on the day his son was born as well and takes it as a sign.

Hassan weighs in at 170.5, Stevenson at 171. Stevenson says that, win or lose, he’d like to get together with Team Garbrandt to pray after the fight. He calls it the first weigh-in where he felt “mutual love” between the teams.

Fight time.

Team Dillashaw’s Joe Stevenson (33-16) vs. Team Garbrandt’s Hayder Hassan (6-3)

Round 1: Hassan comes out moving forward and easily stops the first takedown attempt. As Stevenson circles along the fence, Hassan fires a hook and lays him out with a savage right uppercut. A couple more hammerfists and it’s over.

Final result: Hassan def. Stevenson by TKO (punches)

Cody takes the opportunity to talk some trash as Stevenson tries to wrap his head around what just happened.

Stevenson takes the loss in stride, saying that if he can’t win the fight, he can at least win by acting like a champion. He makes good on his statement during the weigh-ins and, along with some of his teammates, sits down with the Garbrandt squad for a prayer.

Commercial break, then it’s time to announce the quarterfinal matchups. Team Dillashaw’s up 6-2.

Tom Gallicchio (Dillashaw) vs. Justin Edwards (Garbrandt)

Dhiego Lima (D) vs. Gilbert Smith (D)

Jesse Taylor (D) vs. Hayder Hassan (G)

James Krause (D) vs. Ramsey Nijem (D)

Gallicchio gets first billing for the fight prep segments. TJ wants him focused on takedowns and back control, not get so caught up in his improved striking that he forgets his best skill. Joe Stevenson steps him to help Gallicchio prepare for Edwards’ guillotine.

Edwards is confident his striking and wrestling are superior. Cody hypes his pace and the highlights helpfully get pretty intense.

Before they can duke it out, though it’s time for the Coaches’ Challenge. This time? Pool tetherball on balance beams. There’s something morbidly hilarious about the bundled-up White mentioning the cold while the scantily-clad Octagon girls stand beside him.

Winner gets $ 10,000, his team $ 1,500 each. The coaches get on their little inflatable rowboats and make their way over to the beams. Dillashaw falls before the game even starts, then beefs it again within seconds of the first serve. After losing that point, he falls without even touching the ball next point.

Cody finally goes down on point three. Team Dillashaw celebrates with the Globo Gym Purple Cobras taunt.

It doesn’t last long, though, and Cody racks up a 5-1 lead. At 8-4 Garbrandt, TJ suddenly fights back to even it up. Garbrandt gives the title drop, calling his wet hair his Kyrptonite. A buzzed Ramsey Nijem starts talking nonsensical trash; as Tom Gallicchio explains, they don’t make sense but they definitely get to Cody. TJ completes a 6-0 run to take the win.

Cody does manage to get some revenge, though. As he and Nijem are making up, a member of Team Garbrandt sneaks around the side and hurls him in to the pool.

Back to the fights. Both weigh in at 170. There’s less than ten minutes of actual broadcast time left, so we’re definitely getting a finish.

Team Garbrandt’s Justin Edwards (9-5) vs. Team Dillashaw’s Tom Gallicchio (19-9)

Round 1: Edwards stings him with a right hand in the first few seconds, then goes to work with combinations. The counters continue to pile up until a right cross drops Gallicchio hard. He shoots and his training with “Joe Daddy” pays off as he fights out of a guillotine and takes the back, locking up the choke in a hurry.

Final result: Gallicchio def. Edwards by submission (rear naked choke)

Gallicchio credits Stevenson, who appears very happy with his pupil’s work. Garbrandt is immensely frustrated with Edwards for going for the guillotine instead of continuing to punish him on the feet.

Gallicchio is in tears as he and Dillashaw celebrate. He promises to use the money to further his business.

Here’s where we stand after episode eight:

Team Garbrandt

Seth Baczynski

Mehdi Baghdad

Eddie Gordon

Hayder Hassan

Julian Lane

Justin Edwards

Johnny Nunez

Team Dillashaw

James Krause

Jesse Taylor

Ramsey Nijem

Dhiego Lima

Joe Stevenson

Tom Gallicchio

Gilbert Smith

6-1 Dillashaw. As on TUF 21, it’s up to Hayder Hassan to put the team on his back.

Next week is Dhiego Lima vs. Gilbert Smith. We get a preview of Smith being a party pooper, so join us next week so we can point and laugh together.

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The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) ‘Redemption’ results, recap, and discussion (Ep. 5)

Episode five is titled “A Brutal Business.”

Episode five of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF): “Redemption” was back on FOX Sports 1 last night (Weds., May 17, 2017), featuring a cast of ex-TUF guys trying to redeem themselves and earn another crack at UFC superstardom under the tutelage of head coaches Cody Garbrandt and TJ Dillashaw.

If you missed last week’s episode click here for our complete recap.

We kick things off with a preview of the next welterweight elimination fight pitting Hayder Hassan (Team Garbrandt) against Dhiego Lima (Team Dillashaw). They train together at American Top Team (ATT), but vow to remains brothers no matter the outcome.

We shall see.

First up, we get a closer look at Lima as he trains with Coach Dillashaw, who tells Lima his kicks are “money.” Dillashaw is convinced Lima can beat Hassan “everywhere,” but is concerned about Lima’s self confidence.

On the other side of the facility, coach Garbrandt brings a doctor to the gym to give each contestant Cranial Facial Release (CFR), performed by inserting tiny balloons into the nasal cavity and quickly inflating them. As you might expect, there is some trepidation among the fighters.

Can’t imagine why anyone would be apprehensive about having a balloon animal shoved into their skull, but hey, that’s just me. A random, poorly-designed website — which no doubt is legit — claims CFR alleviates breathing disorders and other cranial issues like deviated septums and migraine headaches.

Now all they need is a guinea pig.

Assistant coach Urijah Faber volunteers and it goes about as well as expected; meaning, “The California Kid” freaks out and tells Garbrandt that he’s never doing that wacky procedure again.

We now go behind-the-scenes with Lima as he shows viewers his life inside American Top Team (ATT), where he trains in the morning and teaches classes in the afternoon. We then head over to his home, where his kids play and do all sorts of cute little kid things.

Now it’s Hassan’s turn to show us a little bit more about Hayder the man. While he’s a single guy, he does get family time (vicariously) through his brother and newphews. His brother is also a fighter, so they get to train together at ATT.

Both fighters make weight without incident.

170 lbs.: Hayder Hassan (Team Garbrandt) against Dhiego Lima (Team Dillashaw)

Round 1: Quick touch of gloves and Lima with a low kick. Hassan chasing him around the cage with big punches. Lima keeps circling and Coach Dillashaw is calling for feints. Lima shoots and gets denied, but is able to secure the takedown on a trip when Hassan tries to get on the inside with a big punch. Hassan rolls but gives up his back. Coach Garbrandt yelling for him to fight the hands. Lima has the body triangle and Hassan is in all kinds of trouble. Still three minutes left in the fight and Lima slinks over and gets the chin but not the neck. Hassan waits for Lima to break his leg grip and once that happens, he scrambles out. They get back to their feet and you can almost hear the confidence draining from Lima’s psyche. Wait, nevermind, that was my own flautlence. Hassan walking him down and throwing heavy leather. Lima waits for an opening and drives forward for a takedown. They hit the fence and Hassan breaks free. Round ends with some juking and jiving. I have it 10-9 Lima.

Round 2: After the obligatory touch of gloves, Lima opens with stinging kicks to the body. Hassan shakes them off and presses forward. Lima trying to circle out and rushes in for a takedown. Once again they end up against the fence but this time Lima gets him down. Hassan gets to one knee and Lima looks to take the back. Hassan is too strong and powers back to his feet. They reset in the center of the cage and Coach Garbrandt is screaming at Hassan to let his hands go (You gotta scrap Hayder!). Both fighters starting to tire and Lima shoots from 40 feet away and gets nothing. Hassan throws a quick combo and backs out. Lima launches one of his own but is punching scared, clearly afraid of the knockout. Hassan walks him down and Lima instinctively shoots, scoring a double-leg against the fence. Hassan, like before, tries to roll out and gives up his back in the process. Lima takes the back and once again secures a body triangle with 30 seconds left in the fight. This is a bad place to be when heading to a decision. Lima rolls for an armbar and the bell sounds. I had it 10-9 Lima.

Final result: Lima def. Hassan by unanimous decision

Here’s where we stand after episode five:

Team Garbrandt

Seth Baczynski
Mehdi Baghdad
Eddie Gordon
Hayder Hassan
Julian Lane
Justin Edwards
Johnny Nunez

Team Dillashaw

James Krause
Jesse Taylor
Ramsey Nijem
Dhiego Lima
Joe Stevenson
Tom Gallicchio
Gilbert Smith

Team Dillashaw leads Team Garbrandt 5-0.

After the fight, Lima says they left everything inside the cage as the team rewards him with high-fives and butt slaps. Hassan says he wasn’t fighting his opponent, he was fighting the clock and admits he was “frustrated” that he didn’t have one more round to work, but believes he showed his “fighting spirit.”

Next up, Coach Dillashaw will send Ramsey Nijem (TUF 13) into battle against Team Garbrandt’s Julian “Bang Bro” Lane (TUF 16).

See you in seven!

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The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) ‘Redemption’ results, recap, and discussion (Ep. 3)

Episode three of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF): “Redemption” was back on FOX Sports 1 last night (Weds., May 3, 2017), featuring a cast of ex-TUF guys trying to redeem themselves and earn another crack at UFC superstardom under the tutelage of head coaches Cody Garbrandt and TJ Dillashaw.

If you missed last week’s episode click here for our complete recap.

We kick things off with the fight announcement for Team Garbrandt’s Mehdi Baghdad (TUF 22) and Team Dillashaw’s Jesse Taylor (TUF 7). It’s the classic battle of striker (former) vs. grappler (latter) and they actually used to train together at Team Quest.

They’ll go head-to-head in welterweight elimination at the end of the episode.

As expected, we get flashbacks of Taylor acting like a lunatic and self destructing on camera during his first run on TUF. Mostly because producers stocked the TUF house with alcohol, hoping someone would act like a lunatic and self destruct on camera.

He was kicked off the show but fought his way back.

Baghdad gets some flashbacks of his own, hearkening back to his decision win over Artem Lobov. He was unable to parlay that momentum into a semifinal run, and blames a tough weight cut down to 155 pounds.

Those days are over.

As per the usual reality show formula, we get the slow piano music and a closer look at Taylor’s children. He is sad about his divorce and losing custody of his kids. Baghdad, meanwhile, has no family or attachments whatsoever and gets no piano solo.

Hey look, a Chris Leben cameo!

Both fighters make weight without incident. Then we get the usual locker room footage of each combatant pounding the pads and getting pumped up by their respective coaches.

Time to fight.

Team Garbrandt’s Mehdi Baghdad (11-5) vs. Team Dillashaw’s Jesse Taylor (30-15)

Round 1: No touch of gloves and Taylor fires right in for a takedown. Baghdad gets put on his ass and Taylor is all over him. Baghdad gives up his back but is able to avoid the rear-naked choke. Taylor dumps him onto the canvas and drops a few elbows. Two minutes down and this round is all “JT Money.” Coach Dillashaw tells Taylor to breathe and Baghdad is cut. Referee warns him to fight back. Baghdad once again gives up his back but this time he’s able to reverse and clamps down a guillotine. Taylor too strong and hulks himself free. They reset and get back to their feet and Taylor shoots once again, muscling Baghdad to the floor and mugging him with bad intentions. He draws a warning for shots to the back of the head. Baghdad gives up his back and Taylor dutifully works for the choke. 30 seconds left and you can argue this is a 10-8 round. The opening frame ends with Baghdad getting smeared across the canvas. “What a round,” coach Dillashaw says proudly.

Round 2: Mehdi is advised to keep a high guard and throw the knee. He unloads one but the shooting Taylor was grounded and we almost had a Weidman-esque controversy. Taylor shoots again and gets jaw-jacked on the way in and collapses on the mat, but recovers quickly and goes right for the takedown. Baghdad grabs the fence but can’t keep himself upright. Taylor working from half guard and Baghdad is simply in survival mode. He tries to stand up but Taylor is too strong and yanks him back down to the floor. Baghdad taking punishment and really has nothing to offer. One minute left in the round and there isn’t much new to report. Taylor is on top making life miserable for Baghdad — and the fans at home — with his relentless ground-and-pound. Fight ends and this one was not close.

Final result: Taylor def. Baghdad by unanimous decision

Here’s where we stand after episode three:

Team Garbrandt

Seth Baczynski
Mehdi Baghdad
Eddie Gordon
Hayder Hassan
Julian Lane
Justin Edwards
Johnny Nunez

Team Dillashaw

James Krause
Jesse Taylor
Ramsey Nijem
Dhiego Lima
Joe Stevenson
Tom Gallicchio
Gilbert Smith

Team Dillashaw leads Team Garbrandt 3-0.

After the fight, Team Garbrandt mopes around the locker room, having now lost the first three fights of the season. Team Dillashaw, meanwhile, is hootin’ and hollering’ with chants of being undefeated.

The next fight is announced and its Team Dillashaw’s James Krause taking on Team Garbrandt’s Johnny Nunez. Stay tuned next week for a hairy birthday card, an appearance by former women’s bantamweight champion Miesha Tate, and some otherwise TUF-insipired silliness.

See you in seven!

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A long night’s journey to redemption for Conor McGregor’s Dublin fans

DUBLIN — The hour was well after most sane folks had long since fallen asleep. But toward the end of the second round of the UFC 202 rematch between Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz, those gathered at The Living Room must have felt like they were having nightmares.

It was around 5 a.m. local time at the sports bar near Dublin’s City Centre, and the three-level complex was jammed to capacity as the city’s own McGregor attempted to avenge his loss to Diaz some 5,000 miles away in Las Vegas.

Despite the pre-dawn hour, the Guiness still flowed and the fans carried on with an energy which defied the hour, as if they were trying to live up to their partying reputations for an American visitor who had booked a vacation here back around the time McGregor was training to fight Rafael dos Anjos.

Chants of “Ole, ole, ole” started on bar’s the first level, picked up on the second floor, and reached a deafening crescendo up top as McGregor, the UFC featherweight champion, got off to a fast start against his opponent, much like the first time they met.

But in the second, McGregor noticeably slowed, and an air of nervous dread filled the joint in a matter of seconds. Much like in their first fight, back in March, a bloodied Diaz had somehow weathered everything their idol could dish out, and wrested control of the fight as McGregor seemed to fade.

Were we about to see a repeat of UFC 196, in which McGregor gassed and then was submitted by Diaz late in the second round? Fans who had moments earlier been singing at the top of their lungs were now squirming in their seats.

Angst filled the room, but the scene was not yet hopeless. If you’re a mixed martial arts supporter in Europe, you already know a level of dedication a North American fan can’t fully appreciate unless you’ve come out here and experienced it for yourself. Except for those rare European-based UFC cards which run on local time, if you simply must see a fight, and you don’t want to wait until the morning and watch a replay, you have to stay up all hours of the night to tune in.

Only the hardcore fans will do that for every fight, but a McGregor matchup is must-see TV across the Emerald Isle. McGregor-Diaz aired live on BT Sport 2, which has limited distribution. In a recent change, pay-per-view main cards are not available on UFC Fight Pass in Ireland until 48 hours after the event due to BT’s exclusivity,

So those without BT Sports 2 who wanted to see the fight were funneled into a relatively small number of venues. Dublin seems to have as many pubs as street lights, but given the bars usually close at 3 a.m. (even my mother country has its limits), establishments interested in showing the fight needed to get a special permit to stay open late. A flood of people from other neighborhood pubs arrived around the start of the pay-per-view, turning what had already been a busy enough scene into an overflow.

“They don’t make it easy to watch the fights, but if you’ve got this in your blood, you’ve got to find a may to make it happen,” one fan, who identified himself only as Aidan, tells me. “It doesn’t matter what hour of the day it is, if Conor is fighting, I’m going to be there.”

When you’re this invested in a fighter, you’re not about to mentally quit when things get tough, and there’s an palpable sense of relief when the horn sounds to end the second round without Diaz once again finishing the job.

About Diaz: While his ring introduction was greeted with boos by the Dublin faithful, they seemed more obligatory than born of hate. Maybe it’s because these guys (the crowd was about 90 percent male) were true fight fans and recognized a great fighter when they saw one, a guy whose style they’d admire if he wasn’t fighting their own local icon. After all, prior to the the main event, the most popular fighter on the card, by a landslide, was the all-action Donald Cerrone, whose win over Rick Story brought the house down.

And Diaz, that fighter who might be more like McGregor than they care to admit, was a little too efficient for their liking in the third, as he put a hurt on McGregor over the course of a round which prompted one judge to give Diaz a 10-8 score. This time, though, when McGregor got through to the end, there was a noticeable lift in the spirits of the Dublin assembled. Maybe Diaz had emptied his tank. Maybe this encore has a different conclusion than the original.

The fourth round started. McGregor, who had paced himself better in this fight than the first, started to land. It was Diaz’s turn to slow down, as his cuts impaired his vision. Every McGregor strike which found a home on Diaz’s face elicited a raucous roar from The Living Room crowd. Every time McGregor sprawled a takedown, a new chant of “Let’s go Conor” ripped through the bar. The outcome was still well in doubt, but the fans seemed aware they were now watching a brawl for the ages.

There was one final wave of despair in the crowd when Diaz landed a takedown in the fight’s closing seconds, as several onlookers noticeably buried their heads in their hands, convinced it would make the difference in a close fight. They were the same blokes pointing at the screens moments later, when a graphic showed 65 percent of fans voting McGregor the winner of the bout.

And then, pure bedlam. The announcement of Diaz as the winner went down about as you’d expect in a crowded Dublin bar. Strangers hugged. Songs were sung. People danced on top of tables. McGregor had not only avenged his loss, but insisted on doing so at 170 pounds when everyone thought he was nuts for trying it again.

It would make for a rhetorical flourish to finish this piece with scenes of the celebration spilling out into the streets of Dublin, but by this point, reality had set in. It was nearly six in the morning, a rainy night was giving way to a grey morning, and the crowd was finally out of steam.

But the whole point of staying up all night was vindicated. Mystic Mac, the man who called his own shots, who made bold proclamations and then somehow made them come true, was back on top of the world. And for the fans in Dublin, redemption was well worth the wait.

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Video: Lance Palmer’s quest for redemption at WSOF 32 (Pt. 4)

World Series of Fighting (WSOF) 32 “Moraes vs. Hill 2″ comes to Xfinity Arena in Everett, Washington, tonight (Sat., July 30, 2016). Two title rematches are scheduled to go down in epic fashion, including Lance Palmer fighting to win back a title he previously lost to Alexandre Almeida via unanimous decision.

World Series of Fighting (WSOF) 32 “Moraes vs. Hill 2″ takes place tonight (Sat., July 30, 2016) at Xfinity Arena in Everett, Washington. The NBC Sports card will be headlined by two title rematches.

The main event will be a bantamweight fight showcasing Marlon Moraes going for his fourth title defense against Josh “The Gentleman” Hill, while the co-main event has Lance “The Party” Palmer attempting to win back the featherweight title from Alexandre Almeida.

Palmer was on the road to WSOF glory after he beat Rick Glenn for the title at WSOF 16, then dominated Chris Horodecki at WSOF 21 with a first-round submission, but Almeida won a unanimous decision to claim the title at WSOF 26.

Following three previous entries in this biographical video series, our final stop on the trip from Cleveland to Sacramento to Everett before the title fight Saturday night comes with these thoughts from Palmer on what he’d say to a younger version of himself.

“I think as a guy that’s been in this sport a long time, and had success early on in my career and watched the sport grow, the advice I’d give Lance is just first and foremost you gotta enjoy the process. There’s peaks and there’s valleys. There’s times when you are struggling for cash, and there’s times when you have the money in your bank account and you’re feeling like you’re making progress, and all that stuff can change in a heartbeat.”

Palmer will try to make a change for the better later tonight by collecting the winner’s purse in Everett.

To check out the latest WSOF-related news and notes click here.

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UFC 193 Aftermath: On Ronda Rousey, hubris, and potential redemption

“Beautiful work.”

Those were coach Edmond Tarverdyan’s words to Ronda Rousey in between the first and second rounds of Rousey’s UFC women’s bantamweight title defense against Holly Holm at UFC 193.

Two minutes later, Rousey was out cold on the mat at Melbourne’s Etihad Stadium, a UFC record crowd of 56,214 serving witness to the fact Holm was the one doing beautiful work.

Tarverdyan’s words, uttered just before Rousey’s reign came to a crashing halt, may as well serve as the coda to an entire fight camp which seemed doomed from the get-go.

The first hints at cracks in Rousey’s aura of invincibility came a few weeks before the fight, when Rousey’s mother, Dr. Ann Maria DeMars, lashed out, saying among other things “Edmond is a terrible coach” who “hit the lottery when Ronda walked in there.”

Back then, DeMars seemed like an overbearing soccer mom. Today, she sounds like an oracle.

There was the news of Tarverdyan’s bankruptcy case, in which he claimed zero income during the period Rousey rocketed to superstardom.

There was Rousey disconnecting a conference call after a reporter asked her a valid question she didn’t like about her relationship with Travis Browne, which Rousey later claimed was due to her phone dying.

There were signs of hubris at every turn. Talking about doing boxing and pro wrestling. Condescending to Holm and telling her she’s doing Holm a favor because she’ll be able to go buy a house with the money she made for showing up and losing. Going on Jimmy Fallon’s show and dismissively discussing how Holm would try to win with a head kick. Confident talk when you back it up; something else entirely when things go as they did in Australia.

The final clue was Rousey’s lack of composure during Friday’s weigh-ins, which Twitter know-it-alls called a staged attempt to sell a few more pay-per-views but which now looks more like a desperate attempt at finding a way to get into the zone.

It’s worth remembering in this moment just what a positive Rousey’s ascension has been for the sport of mixed martial arts. She helped lift the UFC out of its doldrums after the 1-2 punch of losing Georges St-Pierre and Anderson Silva in a matter of weeks. In the span of three years, the UFC went from no women on the roster to a company-record turnout for a pair of women’s title fights. Along the way, Rousey became mainstream like no MMA fighter before her and served as inspiration for the empowerment an entire generation of young girls.

None of that changes just because Rousey lost a fight.

But with the always-20/20 vision of hindsight, it’s just as clear something went off the rails in the weeks since Rousey’s UFC 190 victory over Bethe Correia. From the outside, it appears hubris and complacency set in where there was once motivation and desire. It appears no one wanted to burst Rousey’s bubble, from her head coach on down. That Rousey seemed to believe she could actually make a boxing match out of a meeting with a three-time former world champion with nearly four times as many professional combat sports fights under her belt underscores just how amiss things went at Camp Rousey.

Rousey’s far from the first superstar in sports or entertainment to tumble at the height of their powers. Will the notoriously stubborn Rousey double down on her approach? Or will she have the clarity to make a fresh start? The answers to those questions will determine whether Rousey moves on to her redemption tale, the only story Americans love more from celebrities than kicking them when they’re down.

UFC 193 quotes

“With a champion like Ronda who has gone out of her way - above and beyond – to do great things, absolutely, she deserves a rematch. I don’t look at this belt and think I’ve made it. I think I still have things that I need to do.” – Holly Holm

“The rematch makes a lot of sense. I think the rematch is what people would want to see.” — UFC president Dana White

“Who’s next? I don’t know. Probably my hand is broken again. I must go to the hospital, but we will see. Probably I will need to take a few more months off.” – UFC strawweight champ Joanna Jedrzejczyk

“Honestly, f— Ronda Rousey.”Miesha Tatenot exactly hiding her feelings about her rival.

Stock report

Stock up: Holly Holm. The downside to focusing so much on what Rousey did wrong: It detracts from everything Holm did so, so right. The knock on Holm going into the fight was that she seemed to be well on her way to becoming a legitimate contender, but hadn’t put all the tools together in her transition from boxing. But she rose to the challenge in the most spectacular way imaginable during the biggest moment of her combat sports career. Holm used Rousey’s energy against her, established she was the better boxer from the outset, and slowly dismantled Rousey’s confidence. By the time she successfully parried Rousey’s attempted throws — and even voluntarily took the fight to the ground — the battle was mentally won. Take a bow, Holly Holm. And you too, Greg Jackson and Mike Winkeljohn.

Stock down: Edmond Tarverdyan. We’re not going to touch Dr. DeMars’ comments on Tarverdyan as a person, but her comments on the Glendale Fighting Club leader as a coach sure seem to carry weight the day after UFC 193. His main claim to fame before Rousey showed up in Glendale was Manny Gamburyan. Others who have ventured to his gym, from Travis Browne to Jake Ellenberger, haven’t exactly thrived. Rousey seemed woefully ill-prepared for Holm at UFC 193. A picture is being painted here.

Hold: Joanna Jedrzejczyk. The level of hype directed at the UFC strawweight champion this week came within shouting distance of the “Renan Barao is the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world” talk leading up to his loss to T.J. Dillashaw. Instead, what we saw was Joanna Champion taking a patient, clinical approach against a clearly game opponent in Valerie Letourneau, and apparently doing so while injured. The 115-pound champion is coming along just fine at her own pace, so there’s no need to try to make Jedrzejczyk into something she’s not.

Stock down: Stefan Struve. At this point, it’s hard to figure out what exactly is up with Struve. He’s been through health issues. He’s changed camps. He’s tried new approaches. And yet he just seems clinically incapable of taking advantage of what should be some of the greatest natural assets a fighter’s ever been given in his ridiculous size and reach advantage. Jared Rosholt might not be an exciting fighter, but he fearlessly waded in, took Struve down, and kept him there, easily capitalizing on what seemed his only path to victory. Struve’s still young at 27, but there are a lot of miles on him, and you wonder if he’s ever going to turn it around.

Stock up: Mark Hunt. The Super Samoan keeps on going and going. At age 41, with his last big run at a title in his rear-view mirror, it would have been easy to Hunt to mail it in and just collect a few paychecks on his way out. Instead, he slimmed down and looked like a killer in his rematch with Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva. If Hunt wants to compete in fun fights from here on out, that’s fine with us. Hunt-o can do whatever he damn well pleases.

Interesting calls

No bad judging decisions. No television glitches. No madness in the commentary booth. No terrible referee calls. Just a questionable decision to call timeout during Robert Whittaker vs. Uriah Hall for an eye poke that wasn’t, which fortunately didn’t have an effect on Whittaker’s just victory. Considering how many things could have gone wrong in front of a record crowd, we’ll give a mulligan on that one and call the evening a win.

Fight I’d like to see next: Holly Holm vs. Ronda Rousey 2

All the elements came together at UFC 100 to make it the biggest event in company history. Brock Lesnar at his peak popularity; a big grudge rematch with Frank Mir, who knows how to sell a fight; GSP playing the co-headliner role for the last time in his career. And they’re in place for UFC 200, too, with Rousey, after time off to get her head together, going for revenge in the first UFC event at the new Las Vegas arena. Assuming that Rousey, like Gina Carano before her, doesn’t bolt for Hollywood full-time after her first loss, then this is a fight that simply has to be made.

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Interview: Bellator 139′s Bubba Jenkins out for redemption against Joe Wilk in Mulvane

Featherweight Bubba Jenkins had everything going his way, including a four-fight win streak coming into Bellator 132 earlier this year. In fact, the NCAA Division I wrestling champion from Arizona State University (ASU) seemed like he was potentially one win away from a 145-pound title shot.

Jenkins freely admitted to being “borderline cocky” going into a fight with former World Series of Fighting (WSOF) champion Georgi Karakhanyan. And in one fell swoop, Karakhanyan broke the win streak and left Jenkins frozen on the mat.

It was the kind of loss that humbles even the most cocky of fighters, but the only way to avenge a setback like that is to get right back in the cage and show you’re a better man than the last time you fought.

Jenkins will get that chance this Friday night (June 26, 2015) against Joe Wilk at Bellator 139, which takes place inside Kansas Star Arena in Mulvane, Kansas.

Jenkins recently chatted with MMAmania.com about his quest for redemption and working his way back to a title shot starting with “The Nose.”

“I’m focusing on almost treating him like a little Georgi. I’m very worried about the chokes and the guillotines and things like that, so I’m becoming very very acquainted with the guillotine defense and things like that. I’m pretty sure a neck hunter like Joe Wilk is looking at my last fight to try and catch me.”

Submissions are indeed a specialty for Wilk, accounting for 15 out of 18 wins as a professional. However, Wilk has openings in his ground game, too, having been submitted four times. After dropping his last fight at Bellator 130, Wilk joins Jenkins in seeking redemption, which means he might compete like he has “nothing to lose.”

“I’ll become a deadly athlete, a deadly MMA fighter. People will be afraid of me in every aspect of the game, especially when I start shutting the jiu-jitsu game part of it down, which you know I’m doing a very good job of it now. We’re really working on mixing (it) comfortable everywhere I go, and I would say I’m 85 percent of where I want to be.”

If Jenkins seemed “cocky” before his last fight, it’s clear that getting caught by Karakhanyan has caused him to do an honest self-assessment. And he’s working very hard to achieve that last 15 percent before this weekend arrives.

“Antonio McKee, my coach at Body Shop, when he starts to see me get tired, he throws a really good jiu-jitsu guy on me. I give ‘em my back and we work from there, I get a double leg and we work from there, so we’re really working on all aspects of where I could end up with a neck hunter like Joe. We’re not underestimating a guy like him.”

Jenkins is also acutely aware that time doesn’t stand still, as Bellator MMA continues to load up its Featherweight division with talent such as former UFC fighter and RFA featherweight champion Justin Lawrence. Jenkins doesn’t intend to let anyone pass him in the race to the top.

“I don’t mind, I don’t care, I don’t focus on those guys. When I’m as good as I’m going to be, give me two or three more fights, when I get to that level I don’t care who you put in front of me — they’ll all go down a different way. I’m going to be ready, I’m going to be full of experience.”

It’s time for Jenkins to rebuild off his last loss and get that experience against a game veteran like Wilk. Until then, check out the complete audio of our interview below, as well as stay tuned to MMAmania.com for complete coverage of Bellator 139 this Friday night.

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