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UFC 175 preview show

MMA Fighting’s Ariel Helwani and Chuck Mindenhall take a closer look at the top storylines heading into Saturday night’s UFC 175, including UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman facing Lyoto Machida in the main event. UFC 175 also features UFC women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey battling Alexis Davis in the co-main event.

Check out the preview above.

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Twice-Eliminated ‘Ultimate Fighter’ Heun Ahead of WSOF Debut: ‘I Always Put on a Show’

If the name Jake Heun sounds familiar, it is probably because he appeared twice on “The Ultimate Fighter” reality series.
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Alex Caceres: might as well not buy the pay-per-view because we’re going to steal the show

LAS VEGAS — Alex Caceres talks about fighting Urijah Faber on the UFC 175 prelims, why he suggests not buying the PPV, why his training camp got off to a rocky start, and more.

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UFC partners with Vale Tudo Japan for TV show and tournament

While in Japan on Thursday, Dana White announced a partnership with Vale Tudo Japan for a television show in some ways similar to The Ultimate Fighter, but with a few different tweaks, including a 30-week season and a round-robin style format.

Everyone knows the UFC’s battle plan when it comes to a new market. The idea is to get an Ultimate Fighter reality show on a strong television outlet, and audiences get to know the fighters, see them fight, and the best ones become television stars that can be used to build the sport’s popularity in those markets.

But Japan is very different from most markets UFC has tried to open up, because they already have had a long history of different fighting styles, both modern mixed martial arts, and styles somewhat similar.

The popularity of Japanese MMA has declined greatly over the past few years, due to a number of factors, the key being the lack of new superstars that captured national attention and limited television exposure to create new ones.

On Thursday, Dana White, from Tokyo, talked about the usual battle plan, except with a few tweaks.

For the first time, UFC will be partnering with a local promotion, Vale Tudo Japan, formerly the Shooto promotion. Shooto, first called Shooting, a pro wrestling term for legitimate fight, was formed by pro wrestling legend Satoru Sayama, the original Tiger Mask, in 1985, long before the UFC or anything of the type hit the U.S.

The two companies will be a very different type of television tournament, using featherweights and bantamweights.

“It’ll be eight guys per weight class,” said UFC President Dana White, on the final leg of his Far East tour after stops in Hong Kong and Macao in trying to put together television and live event deals in those markets. “There will be 30 episodes on television, three fights on each show, over eight months.”

The difference is the tournaments will be round-robin style, meaning all eight fighters in a weight class will face the other seven. The fighter in each weight class with the best win-loss record in the tournament will get a UFC contract. That style of tournament format is part of the Japanese culture. Sumo, one of the country’s biggest sports, has done tournaments that way over a shorter time frame for generations. Every major pro wrestling company has used that format for annual major tournaments as well, dating back 55 years.

“Much like The Ultimate Fighter, this series will continue to cultivate and popularize top talent for us in new markets,” White said. “The round-robin tournament concept is going to make for amazing fights, with a lot at stake. Every fight will matter, every performance will count.”

The big announcement of a terrestrial television deal, the first time UFC has had regular programming on a major network in Japan, will come at the Sept. 20 show at the Saitama Super Arena, just outside of Tokyo. The roster of fighters will also be announced at the show, as well as the announcement of the network and time slot. The television is expected to start airing in December.

White explained the other differences between this format and the traditional Ultimate Fighter seasons.

“They won’t live in a house, and they won’t train under guys that we bring in,” he said. “They will train with their own coaches and do their own thing. People will see they where they train, where they live, and their families.  They’ll get more in-depth. It’ll be a real look at who these guys are. The thing about TUF is you put guys in a pressure cooker, and it’s f***ing insane. Well, it wasn’t last season, but the other seasons.”

The show will be filmed more like a documentary on the fighters lives, leading up to fights.

“These guys will become known because of television,” he said. “So you’ll have people with some star qualities or you’ll have fighters people dislike and want to see them lose, no different from anywhere in the world.”

“This show will be very Japanese,” he said. “It will be shot here in Japan by a big, reputable company, for the Japanese market, to build Japanese stars.”

While not official, the show is expected to be airing simultaneously outside Japan on Fight Pass.

“It’s still a work in progress,” said White. “But if I had to give an answer right now, I’d say, yes, it will.”

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Akiyama, Yamamoto, Gomi all set to compete on UFC’s Sept. 20 show

Three of the biggest stars from the heyday of Japanese mixed martial arts, Yoshihiro Akiyama, Takanori Gomi and Kid Yamamoto, will return on UFC’s Sept. 20 show at the Saitama Super Arena. For Akiyama and Yamamoto, it will be their first fight in more than two years.

Three of the biggest stars in Japanese mixed martial arts history will return for UFC’s Sept. 20 show at the Saitama Super Arena in what is scheduled to be the most star-loaded show to date on Fight Pass.

Takanori Gomi (35-9, 1 no contest), Norifumi “Kid’ Yamamoto (18-6, 1 no contest) and Yoshihiro Akiyama (13-5, 2 no contests) all return on a show that has already announced a heavyweight slobberknocker with Roy Nelson (21-9) vs. Mark Hunt (9-8-1) as the main event.

Gomi, “The Fireball Kid” was the star lightweight in Pride from 2004-07 during the Japanese MMA heyday. He’s the only one of the three who has remained active in recent years, coming off a decision win over Isaac Vallie-Flagg at UFC 172 on Apr. 26, which got Fight of the Night honors.

Yamamoto and Akiyama have been absent from the sport for lengthy periods of time.

Yamamoto, 37, is the son of a former Japanese Olympic wrestler and coach, whose two older sisters, Miyu and Seiko, were well known for their model-like looks and world championships in amateur wrestling. As the youngest sibling and a college wrestling star, he became a celebrity fighter with national endorsements, and drew gigantic television ratings as one of the big stars during the era of New Year’s Eve fighting shows on network television. His biggest fights drew more than 30 million viewers and he was the top star of the old Dream promotion from 2005-07. During that period, he and Urijah Faber were generally considered the two best featherweight fighters in the world.

But after serious elbow and knee injuries, he was never the same. His record over the last five years, since major knee surgery, is 1-5, and he went 0-3 in UFC with his last fight coming more than two years ago.

Akiyama, the famed “Sexyama,” was a star in Japan before MMA, after winning a gold medal in judo for Japan in the 2002 Asian Games. He was recruited to MMA by K-1 to be a major star in the Hero’s promotion, for a major match on the December 31, 2004, show at the Osaka Dome before 40,000 fans. It was billed as judo vs. boxing, with Akiyama facing  former multi-time heavyweight title contender Francois “White Buffalo” Botha, who had fought Mike Tyson, Lennox Lewis and Wladimir Klitschko. Akiyama, giving up 60 pounds, won in 1:54 with an armbar in the type of a high-profile fight that created an instant star.

Akiyama continued to have success and garnered significant popularity, to where he was groomed to replace Kazushi Sakuraba as the country’s MMA hero. The passing of the torch match was scheduled on December 31, 2006, also at the Osaka Dome, which drew a television audience of 27 million viewers. Akiyama won, but surveillance cameras later showed he rubbed oil on his legs so he was able to slip away from Sakuraba’s low takedowns. He became a villain, which actually made him more marketable and famous, as the guy who cheated to beat a national idol. But he remained one of the country’s biggest-name fighters before signing with UFC in 2009.

Now 38, Akiyama struggled in UFC, going 1-4, with his last fight two years ago, losing an uninspired decision to Jake Shields.

Besides Nelson vs. Hunt, also announced was Miesha Tate (14-5) vs. the debuting Rin Nakai (16-0-1), the Queen of Pancrase champion who has been promoted heavily in Japan by other promotions with very sexually suggestive workout videos, and a flyweight battle with Kyoji Horiguchi (13-1) vs  Chris Cariaso (17-5).

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UFC 174 post-fight show

VANCOUVER, B.C. — MMA Fighting’s Ariel Helwani and Sherdog’s Jordan Breen break down the top storylines coming out of UFc 174 on Saturday night.

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UFC 174 preview show

MMA Fighting’s Ariel Helwani and former Strikeforce women’s bantamweight champion Sarah Kaufman take a closer look at the top storylines heading into Saturday night’s UFC 174, including UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson facing Ali Bagautinov in the main event. UFC 174 also features welterweights Rory MacDonald and Tyron Woodley battling in the co-main event.

Check out the preview above.

More Coverage: UFC 174 Results | UFC news
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Bjorn Rebney Questions UFC Decision To Schedule Show Opposite His This September

Bjorn Rebney doesn’t believe it was all “coincidence” that the UFC announced a return to Connecticut on the same September night as Bellator’s scheduled show. The two MMA promotions will go head-to-head roughly five miles from one another on September 5, as the UFC holds a Fight Night show from Ledyard, Connecticut, while Bellator 123 […]

The post Bjorn Rebney Questions UFC Decision To Schedule Show Opposite His This September appeared first on Caged Insider.

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Rafael dos Anjos: I want to finish Jason High to show that I’m back

Khabib Nurmagomedov taught Rafael dos Anjos some good lessons at UFC on FOX 11, and the Brazilian is ready to get back on track Saturday night after losing for the first time in six fights.

dos Anjos returns to the Octagon 50 days after a unanimous decision loss to Nurmagomedov and plans to finish Jason High at UFC Fight Night 42 in Albuquerque, N.M., to prove he belongs among the best lightweights in the world.

“I will do my best to finish this fight,” dos Anjos told MMAFighting.com. “I will do my best because I want to go in there and show that I’m back, that I’m here to fight for the title. I’m not focused on the title, that’s the consequence of the wins. I will continue doing my job and the title will eventually come. I want to finish him.

“Every time you win you bring more responsibility over you, and I want to go there and show that I’m back. I will work hard for that. I know that I’m capable of being (at the top). I’m going to turn 30 now, so I still have six or seven years to go after it.”

A quick turnaround to the Octagon is exactly what the Brazilian was hoping for.

“I wasn’t hurt at all after my last fight, so I asked my manager to get me a fight as soon as possible,” he said. “I’m in great shape and hungry to win.

“The long layoff affected my performance a little bit (against Nurmagomedov),” he continued. “I will be more disciplined now. I fought Khabib eight months after fighting Cerrone, but I want to stay in shape now. Sometimes after the fight you just want to relax and eat, but I won’t do it anymore. After this fight, I will stay in shape to be ready to fight again two months later.”

dos Anjos was dominated by Nurmagomedov in April, and he has no excuses.

“He was better than me,” he said. “I couldn’t do my game, but I always learn a lot with my losses. It was good for me. It opened my eyes to certain things I have to train more. He did his strategy and was better than me.”

Jason High enters the bout on a two-fight win streak, and only one loss over the past 10 bouts, and that’s not the type of opponent dos Anjos was expecting.

“I thought I would drop down a lot (in the rankings) with that loss and be far away from the title, but that’s not what happened,” he said. “I’m hungry to win on Saturday night, and I want to build a win streak again.”

The Brazilian lightweight expected High to fight like Nurmagomedov and try takedowns on Saturday night, but he promises the outcome will be different.

“He’s a wrestler that likes to work on top and I think he will try to take me down, but I’m ready for everything,” he said. “I trained a lot my takedown defense and jiu-jitsu, something that lacked in my last fight. And my striking is on point. I’m ready for everything he brings.”

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UFC 173 post-fight show

LAS VEGAS — MMA Fighting’s Ariel Helwani, Dave Meltzer, and Dave Doyle break down the top storylines coming out of UFC 173 on Saturday night.

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