Bellator prospect Anastasia Yankova is gearing up for a return.
The Russian-born Yankova is scheduled to fight Elina Kallionidou at Bellator 176 in Torino, Italy on April 8, MMA Fighting recently confirmed with Bellator officials. The fight will take place at a 130-pound catchweight.
The undefeated Yankova (4-0) is 2-0 under the Bellator banner, most recently defeating Veta Arteaga via split decision in September.
Kallionidou (5-1) suffered the first loss of her young career in December when she dropped a unanimous decision to Sinead Kavanagh in her Bellator debut.
Yankova was recently featured in the Russian-edition of Vogue Magazine after signing a deal with Nike Russia.
The event, currently headlined by Rafael Carvalho vs. Melvin Manhoef 2 for the Bellator middleweight title, will mark the promotion’s second card at the Pala Alpitour in Torino.
The return of former Bellator welterweight champion Andrei Koreshkov highlighted a pair of fight bookings announced on Friday for Bellator 174, as Koreshkov will take on Fernando Gonzalez in a 170-pound showdown, and middleweight prospect Chris Honeycutt will meet Kendall Grove on the main card of the March 3 event.
Koreshkov (19-2) returns for the first time since dropping his welterweight title with a dramatic third-round knockout loss to Douglas Lima at Bellator 164. The setback snapped a sizzling six-fight win streak for the 26-year-old Russian — a run which included impressive victories over Lima and former UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson.
Koreshkov now looks to get back on track on against Gonzalez (25-14), a veteran of the Strikeforce, WEC, and Bellator cage who saw his five-fight win streak halted with a lethargic split decision loss to Michael Page in his most recent outing at Bellator 165.
Likewise, Grove (23-16, 1 NC) hopes to climb back in the win column when he faces off against Honeycutt (9-1, 1 NC) in a middleweight contest.
Grove, a former The Ultimate Fighter winner, suffered a second-round knockout loss at the hands of ex-Bellator champion Alexander Shlemenko late last year, bringing his up-and-down Bellator record to 4-3. He’ll look to break the momentum of Honeycutt, a former a two-time NCAA All-American who has won three straight decisions in the Bellator cage.
Bellator 174 takes place March 3 at the WinStar World Casino & Resort in Thackerville, Okla. The card is headlined by an inaugural Bellator MMA women’s featherweight world title fight between Marloes Coenen and Julia Budd, and will air live on Spike TV.
Mackenzie Dern will be back in the cage next month.
The multi-time Brazilian jiu-jitsu champion will face Katherine Roy at Legacy Fighting Alliance 6 on March 10 in San Antonio, the promotion announced Wednesday on Facebook. The main event of the card will pit Rivaldo Junior against Ray Rodriguez.
Dern (2-0) won her first pro fights under the Legacy FC banner last year. Her victory over Montana Stewart with an Imanari choke (omoplata-choke combination) was a contender for Submission of the Year. Dern, 23, is one of the top prospects in MMA, male or female. The MMA Lab product is a two-time IBJJF world champion in gi and two-time champion in no gi as a black belt. Dern also owns an ADCC gold medal.
Roy (1-0) won her pro MMA debut against May Ooi last July under the WSOF Global banner in the Philippines. The 31-year-old San Antonio native is a former Golden Gloves boxing champion.
LFA 6 will be the sixth event since the Legacy-RFA merger last month. The co-main event will be the undefeated Eryk Anders against Larry Crowe. The card will take place at Cowboys Dancehall and air live on AXS TV.
The former UFC and World Series of Fighting competitor will meet Chidi Njokuani in the main event of Bellator 171 on Jan. 27 in Mulvane, Kansas, sources told MMA Fighting on Tuesday.
Guillard was suspended one year by the Kansas Athletic Commission (KAC) back in August after failing an in-competition drug test in relation to his bout with David Rickels on July 22, 2016. The commission cannot lawfully release the name of the substance Guillard tested positive for, but sources said it was cocaine, which Guillard has popped for previously in his career.
After agreeing to go to rehab and completing the program, Guillard’s suspension was reduced to six months. The Louisiana native still had to pay a $ 10,000 fine and his knockout victory over Rickels was overturned to a no contest.
KAC boxing commission Adam Roorbach confirmed that the commission unanimously voted to reinstate Guillard after he successfully completed rehabilitation. He said the parties came to an agreement, because it was a recreational drug and not a performance-enhancer.
Guillard (32-16-2, 3 NC) has struggled with weight-cutting issues, missing the lightweight mark in four of his last five bouts. The fight against Njokuani will be at a 175-pound catchweight. Guillard, 33, was once a heralded UFC prospect and is still considered an exciting, all-action fighter.
Njokuani (16-4, 1 NC) has won three straight since coming to Bellator and has not lost a bout since 2013. The brother of former WEC and UFC veteran Anthony Njokuani is coming off a 21-second knockout of Andre Fialho last month.
In the co-main event, Kansas native Rickels takes on Aaron Derrow in a lightweight bout.
Bringing you the weird and wild from the world of MMA each and every night …
Welcome to Midnight Mania! Tonight, we have Conor McGregor’s coach, John Kavanagh, worried about brain trauma for his star pupil, Ronda Rousey’s return to Instagram with an inspirational quote, Tyron Woodley and Stephen Thompson’s beef and subsequent fight announcement, and the assorted oddball content you have come to expect from this entertaining column.
Kavanagh (via The Independent) confirmed that long-term brain trauma is something the reigning Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Lightweight champion does think about.
“It’s a concern of every fighter. At that level of fighting the risk is very real. But, I think you can add on two hands the number of clean head shots Conor has taken in 10 years of pro-fighting. His style of fighting answers that, because his style is not brawling. He doesn’t step in the pocket and exchange punches. His style is in-and-out — he’s very defensive. That style was born through not wanting to lose and not wanting to take head shots, and not wanting to damage the software.”
Professor Dan Healy recently gave a lecture in Ireland to nearly 50 professional mixed martial arts (MMA) fighters in which he addressed the concerns of brain damage to combat athletes, but struck an optimistic chord:
“I’ve seen five brain haemorrhages in Irish MMA. The fighters were a variety of ages, both amateur and professional. It included people in their twenties and early thirties. CTE concerns me more than anything about all combat sports. This can be the first generation of fighters ever who don’t get CTE.”
McGregor has seen firsthand the toll this sport can take. Remember, McGregor was cageside for Joao Carvalho, who later died following a technical knockout loss to his SBG teammate, Charlie Ward, in Ireland. That bout affected McGregor deeply. He was critical of the referee for not stopping the fight sooner and posted the following on Facebook in support of someone he regarded as a fallen comrade, someone who chased the same dream he did.
Terrible news regarding Joao Carvalho.
To see a young man doing what he loves, competing for a chance at a better life,…
However, for that move to be so readily on the table for the Irish star is a signal that we may see him depart the game sooner rather than later. He is already incredibly rich — estimates of his income in 2016 center on a figure of $ 40 million. He has other avenues to make money, too. Indeed, his acting isn’t at all bad, WWE wants him, he’s made appearances in video games such as “Call of Duty,” and is even scheduled to appear as a Viking/pirate character (a Euron Greyjoy crew member from the Iron Islands) in Game of Thrones.
However, Kavanagh was also optimistic about the progress possible for MMA athletes with increasing knowledge of the dangers surrounding the sport.
“We can reach that lofty goal of this being the first generation with no incidents of CTE.”
Perhaps that is the reason every SBG fighter is now required to undergo mandatory brain testing. Taking an honest look at the risks inherent in combat sports is an essential step in minimizing them.
Bobs and Weaves
Ronda Rousey made her social media return today with an inspirational quote that perhaps indicated her mental state is better than after her last loss.
Both athletes have faced adversity of late, though of very different nature. Cyborg is facing a positive drug test, while Rousey was of course nuked by Amanda Nunes in her Octagon return.
In other news, Meryl Streep made a passing jab at MMA during the Golden Globe acceptance speech, which, because of the platform and the nature of her comment, drew some ire from the MMA world. She essentially said MMA is not part of “the arts” (along with football), claiming they would be the only things left if all the outsiders and foreigners were kicked out. For football, that makes some sense. Football is a decidedly American phenomenon, and would probably not change all that incredibly much were only Americans to play it. MMA, however, is notable for it’s distinctly international feel. Amanda Nunes, Conor McGregor, Joanna Jedrzejczyk, Jose Aldo and Michael Bisping are not American. Max Holloway is Hawaiian, Stipe Miocic is the son of Croatian immigrants. And those are just the folks who wear UFC gold. Top contender Khabib Nurmagomedov is from poverty-stricken Dagestan. Yair Rodgriquez, who headlines next weekend’s FS1 card, is Mexican.
As far as being “the arts,” Jack Slack wrote the best response I have read so far on why MMA in particular, and combat sports in general, count as art. I just had this discussion as to what constitutes art with my girlfriend last week, which didn’t go so well, so I won’t get into it here, but it is very difficult to draw limits around what is “art” and what isn’t.
Perhaps because MMA is still regarded as a fringe sport in some places fuels the defensive response to Streep’s uninformed comments. Dana White, however, who has actually aligned himself with president-elect Donald Trump (the person Streep was ultimately targeting), is probably the worst person to offer a rebuttal. Joe Rogan had a discussion about it on Twitter in which he suggested Streep almost certainly takes the good pills:
I’m sure Meryl Streep is a very nice woman who has never had the beauty of MMA fully explained to her by someone who truly appreciates it.
Nestled in with all the freakshow fights and mismatches are some real gem matchups. That’s the Scott Coker way, and since taking over Bellator, that’s been the Bellator way, too. Last night, we got to see erstwhile Russian striking expert Alexander Shlemenko return after a chemically-induced hiatus, and he wasn’t fed any cans. No, he […]
Two former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) women’s bantamweight No. 1 contenders will collide at the upcoming Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 24 live finale, which takes place Sat., Dec. 3, 2016 inside “The Pearl” at Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Davis (17-6) recently stepped away from the fight game to give birth to her son. The submission-savvy “Ally-Gator’s” last appearance inside the Octagon was an armbar win over ex-Strikeforce champion Sarah Kaufman at UFC 186 in early 2015.
McMann (9-3) rebounded from a dismal 1-3 run to capture a unanimous decision win over Jessica Eye at the UFC Fight Night 88 event in Las Vegas. The Olympic silver medalist turned 36 just last month and needs to get something going — fast — if she wants to get back into the division title hunt.
Who ya’ got?
TUF 24 Finale will be headlined by the flyweight championship showdown pitting reigning division kingpin Demetrious Johnson opposite one lucky finalist from the “Tournament of Champions” reality show (more on that here).
In the FOX Sports 1 co-main event, TUF 24 coaches and former division No. 1 contenders Joseph Benavidez and Henry Cejudo will collide to see who stays alive in the crowded 125-pound title chase.
To see who else is fighting at TUF 24 Finale click here.
Once considered a can’t-miss prospect, Thatch (11-4) now finds himself in dire need of a win after losing three straight contests under the UFC umbrella. The 31-year-old Thatch, who trains out of Colorado’s Elevation Fight Team, lost all of three those fights via submission, stumbling against the likes of Benson Henderson, Gunnar Nelson, and Siyar Bahadurzada.
Prior to his recent slump, Thatch won 11 of the first 12 fights of his career via stoppage, highlighted by a pair of impressive first-round TKOs over Justin Edwards and Paulo Thiago to begin his UFC run.
In Homasi (11-6), Thatch now faces an intriguing prospect out of American Top Team who shares Thatch’s aversion to reaching the judges. The 27-year-old has finished all but one of his professional wins. At UFC 202, Homasi lost his UFC debut via second-round TKO to Tim Means.
UFC 207 takes place Dec. 30 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. UFC superstar Ronda Rousey returns to challenge for Amanda Nunes‘ bantamweight title in the night’s main event.
Neither Miesha Tate nor Holly Holm elected to wait for the return of Ronda Rousey during their brief reigns as UFC bantamweight champion. However, Amanda Nunes appears to be bucking the trend. Nunes, who captured the belt with a first-round victory over Tate at UFC 200, told Brazilian outlet Combate last week that Rousey “has to be” her first title defense and indicated that she would wait for Rousey if the UFC guaranteed the fight would happen.
Appearing Monday on The MMA Hour, Tate said she understood the stance Nunes was choosing to take, but that it isn’t how she would attack the situation if she was in Nunes’ shoes.
“I think, my personal opinion, as the champion you don’t wait for people, you step up when you should,” Tate said on The MMA Hour. “You should stay busy and do whatever, but it’s her choice, it’s her life, and she’s probably being advised to wait. And I can’t blame the girl. It’s going to be a big fight, it’ll be a big money fight. Financially, career-wise, it probably makes sense from a political side to wait.
“But you’ve got to balance that out, like, what are you in it for? Are you in it for the money or are you in it for doing ‘the smart thing’ or are you passionate, driven, and you want to do what the ‘fighter’ would do. So, it’s not wrong either way. It’s just personally, what I think, is to stay busy and prove that you’re the champion, why you’re the champion.”
The UFC women’s bantamweight division has hit somewhat of a standstill since Nunes dethroned Tate in dominant fashion in July, with top contenders Julianna Pena and Valentina Shevchenko calling for Nunes to defend the belt while whispers of Rousey’s inevitable return continue to swirl. An actual target date for Rousey’s return remains in limbo, although Nunes indicated she is hoping to defend her belt on Dec. 30 at UFC 207 in Las Vegas, NV.
Regardless of when Rousey does return, it would mark the end of a withdrawal from public life that Rousey has undergone since her stunning Nov. 2015 knockout loss to Holm. And considering all of that time away from mixed martial arts, Tate isn’t sure which version of Rousey would ultimately show up to fight Nunes.
“I feel like there’s so many weird variables, it’s really, really hard to say, because who knows what we’re going to get out of Ronda when she comes back,” Tate said. “If we’re getting Ronda at the best that she’s ever been, then I’d say Ronda (would win the fight). But if we’re getting Ronda coming back with a half-ass mentality, kind of like ‘I just feel like I have to do this one time,’ and then she’s got a lot of ring rust and maybe she’s still punch-shy since she hasn’t fought since Holly, and we all saw that obviously Amanda has incredible power with her right hand — so if she hits Ronda with one of those, I could see it being a huge problem for Ronda. A big, big problem.
“So it’s kind of hard to say, honestly. I really just don’t know what we’re going to get with Ronda. I know what we’re going to get with Amanda. I just have no idea what we’re going to get with Ronda.”
There is no doubt that many questions continue to surround Rousey, who over the course of a year went from one of the world’s most celebrated athletes to one of the biggest unknowns in the fight game.
The fall from grace is one that very few people could have seen coming considering the unprecedented success of Rousey’s pre-UFC 193 campaign, and although Tate can sympathize which much of what Rousey is going through, she can’t quite relate because she has handled her own tough losses in an entirely different manner.
“I understand that it can be a lot,” Tate said. “And it can overwhelming and it can be challenging, and there’s days that I have when I’m like, ‘you know what, I don’t want to put up with this anymore.’ Like, ‘I’m tried of people talking crap on my social media, I’m tired of this, I’m tired of that. I don’t want to deal with this anymore. I’m done with it.’ And then I’m like, no, my heart still just is in it. Like, I cannot bring myself to walk away.
“But, I can’t speak for Ronda. I just think that she’s probably fed up with a lot of different things and she’s chosen to go a different route than I would choose to go. She’s just different in the way she wants to handle it, so we know that clearly, we’re obviously very different. That’s why we butt heads.”
Former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) light heavyweight contender Matt Hamill, who cut his teeth on season three of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF), will continue his comeback tour when he fights Julian Marquez for Combate Americas inside Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, New York, on Fri., Oct. 14, 2016.
Combate Americas: “Empire Rising” airs live on beIN SPORTS En Español and UFC Fight Pass (more on that here).
Hamill, 39, is in dire need of a victory, having dropped three consecutive bouts and five of his last six. The 11-7 “Hammer” was last seen at Venator FC 3 back in May, where he was stopped by fellow UFC veteran Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou.
After a brief pit stop in Bellator MMA, Marquez (3-1) transitioned to the ranks of Combate Americas just a few months back. The decision proved fruitful, as “The Cuban Missile Crisis” bombed Idrees Wasi into second-round submission.
No doubt nailing “The Hammer” would cement his status as a major player at 205 pounds.
Tickets for Combate Americas: “Empire Rising” are on sale now and can be purchased at the Turning Stone Box Office, by calling 877.833.SHOW, or online at Ticketmaster.com. Tickets are priced at $ 75, for cageside, $ 65, $ 50 and $ 35, and may be subject to additional fees.