Tag Archive for Style’

Midnight Mania! Think Gastelum Hits Hard? Watch ‘Style Bender’ Spar ‘Rumble’

Bringing you the weird and wild from the world of MMA each and every weeknight

Welcome to Midnight Mania! Have we got a show for you.

Israel Adesanya is set to face former welterweight Kelvin Gastelum in an interim middleweight title fight this Saturday in the co-main event of UFC 236. If he wins, he will face another former welterweight, Robert Whittaker. Facing hard-hitting former welterweights is nothing new for Israel, however. Back before his UFC days, when he was only 3-0 in mixed martial arts competition, he was flown in to imitate Jon Jones in sparring against now-retired light heavyweight contender Anthony ‘Rumble’ Johnson.

It is clear they weren’t sparring at full power, but it is also evident how much power Anthony Johnson can generate. Adesanya is wholly unphased sparring with the bigger man, calmly rolling his shoulder, measuring the distance, and lining up his punches and kicks. It makes one wonder how Johnson would have done against Jones… and how Adesanya might do against Jones in a future matchup.

Will Adesanya’s striking wizardry and massive reach advantage prevail over Gastelum’s grit, power and one-two? We will find out, Saturday night. Until then, read professional fighter and resident analyst Andrew Richardson’s technical breakdown!


Insomnia

An old classic

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Wow!! Sticks and Stones do hurt

A post shared by Javier Mendez (@akajav) on

Disney’s business moves now have implications for UFC fans, especially those with families:

The UFC leaving the PPV providers let boxing promoters shake them down for more money.

2018 was a pretty good year for the UFC

Charge. Definitely a charge.

Cody Garbrandt offers to take a lie detector test saying he’s never taken performance enhancing drugs while competing in the UFC. Professor Marston would be proud, but that wouldn’t prove anything.

Daniel Cormier claiming Brock Lesnar deserves a title fight? I’m willing to tune in and watch DC get his swan song money fight, but let’s not kid ourselves.

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Money Fights > Rankings

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The ol’ Bobby Hill tactic

Michael Chiesa was among those not buying TJ Dillashaw’s strength and conditioning coach’s Shakespearean diatribe.

The idea that the S&C coach didn’t know anything, doesn’t exactly hold water.

I wanted to write a whole translation article, but Artem Lobov summed it all up in one sentence.

USADA was very interested in Ali Abdelaziz’ very intelligent comments about knowing athletes on EPO.

What I had forgotten about this immortal moment was TJ’s sneer as he shrugged off Cody’s incensed accusations.

Unbelievably good round of boxing

Gary Busey??

That wig and glasses act ain’t fooling us, Dana!

Sean O’Malley hitting pads is always a pleasure to watch

This would be embarrassing

This is ridiculously impressive, but did she just stab her carpet??


Random Land

Touching

For some reason I can’t quite place, this seems like a bad idea.

Very modern art

Sleep well, Maniacs! A better tomorrow is always possible. Follow me on Twitter and Facebook @Vorpality

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Midnight Mania! Think Gastelum Hits Hard? Watch ‘Style Bender’ Spar ‘Rumble’

Bringing you the weird and wild from the world of MMA each and every weeknight

Welcome to Midnight Mania! Have we got a show for you.

Israel Adesanya is set to face former welterweight Kelvin Gastelum in an interim middleweight title fight this Saturday in the co-main event of UFC 236. If he wins, he will face another former welterweight, Robert Whittaker. Facing hard-hitting former welterweights is nothing new for Israel, however. Back before his UFC days, when he was only 3-0 in mixed martial arts competition, he was flown in to imitate Jon Jones in sparring against now-retired light heavyweight contender Anthony ‘Rumble’ Johnson.

It is clear they weren’t sparring at full power, but it is also evident how much power Anthony Johnson can generate. Adesanya is wholly unphased sparring with the bigger man, calmly rolling his shoulder, measuring the distance, and lining up his punches and kicks. It makes one wonder how Johnson would have done against Jones… and how Adesanya might do against Jones in a future matchup.

Will Adesanya’s striking wizardry and massive reach advantage prevail over Gastelum’s grit, power and one-two? We will find out, Saturday night. Until then, read professional fighter and resident analyst Andrew Richardson’s technical breakdown!


Insomnia

An old classic

View this post on Instagram

Wow!! Sticks and Stones do hurt

A post shared by Javier Mendez (@akajav) on

Disney’s business moves now have implications for UFC fans, especially those with families:

The UFC leaving the PPV providers let boxing promoters shake them down for more money.

2018 was a pretty good year for the UFC

Charge. Definitely a charge.

Cody Garbrandt offers to take a lie detector test saying he’s never taken performance enhancing drugs while competing in the UFC. Professor Marston would be proud, but that wouldn’t prove anything.

Daniel Cormier claiming Brock Lesnar deserves a title fight? I’m willing to tune in and watch DC get his swan song money fight, but let’s not kid ourselves.

View this post on Instagram

Money Fights > Rankings

A post shared by As Shopped As It Gets (@as_shopped_as_it_gets) on

The ol’ Bobby Hill tactic

Michael Chiesa was among those not buying TJ Dillashaw’s strength and conditioning coach’s Shakespearean diatribe.

The idea that the S&C coach didn’t know anything, doesn’t exactly hold water.

I wanted to write a whole translation article, but Artem Lobov summed it all up in one sentence.

USADA was very interested in Ali Abdelaziz’ very intelligent comments about knowing athletes on EPO.

What I had forgotten about this immortal moment was TJ’s sneer as he shrugged off Cody’s incensed accusations.

Unbelievably good round of boxing

Gary Busey??

That wig and glasses act ain’t fooling us, Dana!

Sean O’Malley hitting pads is always a pleasure to watch

This would be embarrassing

This is ridiculously impressive, but did she just stab her carpet??


Random Land

Touching

For some reason I can’t quite place, this seems like a bad idea.

Very modern art

Sleep well, Maniacs! A better tomorrow is always possible. Follow me on Twitter and Facebook @Vorpality

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Holloway Wants Khabib And Conor To Combine Powers Captain Planet Style

After a colder than usual spring, Max Holloway wants people with platforms to raise awareness for real issues, not trashy feuds.

In a sport currently dominated by trash talk and outside the cage brawls, Max Holloway continues to be a class act and a gentleman. Perhaps that’s to his disadvantage, as tales of bad behavior from people like T.J. Dillashaw and B.J. Penn continue to overshadow his move up to 155 at UFC 236 to challenge Dustin Poirier for the interim lightweight title.

But even if it costs him (and us!) some clicks, Holloway is keeping it positive. He even had a suggestion for Conor McGregor and Khabib Nurmagomedov, whose feud continues to generate ugly moments. Why talk trash when you can encourage people to do something about trash? Help clean the world up because it’s going to hell and soon climate change is going to KO us all.

”Climate change is for real,” Holloway told Sports Illustrated in a recent interview. “Look at the climate change, stop looking at these guys talking about what they’re talking about. They’re not talking about fighting any more. That’s what it’s about.”

When asked about the Khabib-Conor thing by TMZ Sports in another interview, Holloway again turned things back to climate change.

”At the end of the day it’s not even about the sport any more, so I don’t even want to talk about that,” he said. “I’m glad Dana White said he’d intervene. You know, these guys got a big platform, they should talk about more important stuff like climate change.”

”Like right now in New York it’s not supposed to be this cold, I’ve heard it’s supposed to be warmer. And in Hawaii it’s been pretty cold, in the 70s. I know I sound like a big cry baby about 70s, but us Hawaiians are not used to this weather! What’s up with the climate control?”

As Holloway said, an overwhelming majority of climate scientists agree that human made climate change is happening and screwing up our spring. The polar vortexes that hit us several times this winter and the colder than usual temperatures we’re experiencing on the Eastern seaboard right now are caused by rising temperatures slowing down the gulf stream, meaning the polar jet stream heads further south.

It’s all part of thermohaline circulation, and while as usual there’s some disagreement on how badly it’s going to bitch slap us in the future, there’s no denying what it’s doing in the now. But are you going to listen to some random blogger on an MMA site if you’ve got doubts? Probably not. That’s why we need Khabib and Conor on board.

Holloway and Poirier are main-eventing UFC 236, with Israel Adesanya and Kelvin Gastelum under them in a fight for the interim middleweight title. Keep in mind this is the first UFC pay-per-view that you can’t order via traditional cable pay-per-view in the United States. Now all orders must go through ESPN+, so keep that in mind when preparing for this must-see event on Saturday April 13th.

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Midnight Mania! Anderson on Adesanya: Same Style, Different Version

Bringing you the weird and wild from the world of MMA each and every weeknight

Welcome to Midnight Mania!

Anderson Silva thinks Israel Adesanya represents an interesting and exciting challenge, but he pushed back on the Last Stylebender’s characterization of the fight as between Silva and a younger, better version of himself. Transcript via MMAJunkie.com:

“Israel is a great fighter,” Silva said. “I think he’s super talented, he’s young, he has a brilliant future ahead in this sport. I believe he might be a version of him and he’ll become a better version of himself.

“I believe Israel is not my new version. But I think this fight is very interesting, because I believe this is the first time I have the opponent (with) the same style. That’s a good test for my martial arts skills.”

Silva also resisted comparison to basketball greats Michael Jordan and Lebron James, as Adesanya had compared them to.

“Michael Jordan and LeBron and Kobe (Bryant) is the next level. I’m normal guy, and Israel, too. But I believe this is great fight.”

Silva also opened up on his motivation to continue fighting, and revealed that his family have urged him to stop fighting, but he won’t listen.

“My legacy is trying to continue. It doesn’t matter how much old or not, because old is in your mind,” Silva said. “When people talk about, ‘Oh, you’re old’ – especially in my home, because my family, my kids say, ‘Dad, stop. You don’t need to prove nothing. Stop.’ And I say say, ‘OK, you have a dream you love, something – just do it.’ The Spider Kick team helped me a lot, and helped me with a new challenge and new energy to continue my legacy.”

‘Just do it’ doesn’t seem like a very well-reasoned rebuttal of his family’s valid points, but Anderson is doing what makes him happy, and it can be hard to argue with that. He is also convinced that he is not only going to win, but that he will fight for the title next.

“(White) said, ‘OK, if you win, you will fight for the belt,’” Silva said. “I said ‘OK, then you’ll have to give me the title shot, because I will win.’”

Will this confidence turn out to be optimism, or delusion? Some of that depends on what the 43-year-old Spider looks like on fight night. He thinks what people will see will be the ‘old Anderson’, presumably meaning not the Anderson that is old, but the Anderson of old.

“I think everybody is going to see the old Anderson, but more experienced,” Silva said. “I don’t have nothing to prove. I passed through different moments in the sport. I win, I lose. I have a lot of experience. I am just doing something for my fans. I am so happy to be back to fighting and I’m here. Every day I come to training and say, ‘Thank you God. Thank you for giving me one more opportunity to do something special.’”

Does Silva have one last special moment left against the best of the next generation? We will find out in the co-main event of UFC 234 in Australia, on February 9.


Insomnia

Someone had to do it.

I know he does a lot of talking on air… but still, how does Brendan Schaub not know Dan Hooker’s nationality?

Muhammad Ali summing up how badass Jack Johnson was is amazing because he doesn’t even tell the half of it. Johnson was a pioneer far ahead of his time in many ways.

Happy birthday to Manny Pacquaio

Speaking of boxing stars, according to Dave Meltzer, Canelo Alvarez didn’t do so well on DAZN this weekend in terms of ratings

It is official! High risk, high reward fight for Zabit Magomedsharipov in Jeremy Stephens

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#seeyousoon#UFC235#LasVegas

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Only a matter of time until someone leaps off the cage to drop this knee and finish an opponent in MMA:

I love Japanese TV, especially when it involves Tenshin Nasukawa

Combat sports for the rest of 2018, as the year ends with a bang:


Slips, Rips, KO Clips

A thumping

Lex Luthor is an awesome nickname

Front kick KOs are still cool

Speaking of karate moves

I hadn’t ever heard of this fight but it looks amazing

Down he goes…

I’m not quite sure how Marcelo Garcia did this even after a few viewings


Random Land

I missed this, but it looks like a pretty unbelievable case of someone telling on themselves online.

Sleep well, Maniacs! A better tomorrow is always possible. Follow me on Twitter and Facebook @Vorpality

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Joe Rogan Blames Liddell’s ‘Marauder’ Style For Knockout Loss To Ortiz

Ultimate Fighting Championship color commentator Joe Rogan didn’t like what he saw from Chuck Liddell at Golden Boy MMA last weekend, but he is just as concerned with the process as with the result.
Recent News on Sherdog.com

Adesanya Will Style On Silva Once ‘Spider’ Makes UFC Return

After Paulo Costa demolished Uriah Hall at the UFC 226 pay-per-view (PPV) event earlier this month in Las Vegas, Nevada, fantasy matchmakers were already calling for a showdown against Israel Adesanya, fresh off his unanimous decision win over Brad Tavares at The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 27 Finale.

Unfortunately “The Eraser” never heard of Adesanya and instead called out Chris Weidman.

That’s just fine with “The Last Stylebender,” who will now set his sights on former middleweight champion Anderson Silva, once “The Spider” returns from his drug-test suspension in November.

“Yo for real…no bullshit, if not for Anderson Silva I wouldn’t have looked at fighting from a different perspective,” Adesanya wrote on Instagram. “I was under the impression you gotta look like [Paulo Costa] to be a fighter. ‘The Spider’ been fucking up muscled up beefcakes since ages ago as a lean aerodynamic man. Just cuz I’m a fan don’t mean you can’t catch these hands…and feets. So yes I am down…will do it fih di culture of fighting!”

Hopefully the Brazilian isn’t too busy dreaming about this fight to notice.

Adesanya (14-0) remains undefeated in his mixed martial arts (MMA) career after a stellar run on the kickboxing circuit. While his wins have been impressive, “The Last Stylebender” has yet to face the upper echelon of the division.

As for Silva (34-8, 1 NC), he’s now 43 years old and has just one victory over the last five years, a controversial decision win over Derek Brunson at UFC 208. What’s left in “The Spider’s” tank remains to be seen.

This potential match up doing anything for ya’?

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Kevin Lee ‘changing up whole style’ for 2018, open to ‘easy money fight’ with Justin Gaethje

Kevin Lee saw his five-fight win streak come to an end when he was submitted by Tony Ferguson back at UFC 216 for the interim lightweight title.

In hopes of regaining some ground in the talented 155-pound division, “Motown Phenom” is changing up a few things for 2018. Not only is Lee taking some time off to refine his skills inside of the cage, but he’s mixing things up on the management side, too.

“I’m taking some time, I’m changing up my whole style,” Lee said during a recent appearance on MMA on SiriusXM.I’m changing up my team around me. You know, there have been a lot of things happening, especially at the end of this last year, unfortunately, that I’ve had to make changes (for). But it’s a new me, it’s a new start, when I come back the folks are going to see a new me.”

When Lee is ready and willing to step back inside of the Octagon he may find himself in a lightweight clash with fan favorite Justin Gaethje, who is coming off a third-round knockout loss to former champion Eddie Alvarez back at UFC 218. Gaethje recently took aim at “Motown Phenom” when he said he’d love to beat up a “loudmouth.”

“I mean, absolutely,” Lee said when asked if he’d be interested in fighting Gaethje. “I think the best thing about 155 is that there are so many options. The division is right open now. I don’t know, we’ll see.”

That said, Lee insists that “Highlight” needs even more time off than himself to heal from the beating he sustained opposite Alvarez, as well as Gaethje’s menacing UFC debut against Michael Johnson back in July.

“If it’s going to be against Justin, I like easy money,” Lee said.

“Justin likes to take a lot of damage. I like to give a lot of damage – it seems like a good match to me.

“I’m trying to look out for Justin’s health, too. He needs some time, too. The man has taken a lot of bad beatings over the last couple of months. I don’t think he wants another one right here, right now.

“If he does then so be it, but for now I’m just taking my time. I’m still young in the game. I got a long time to go. I want to make some necessary changes to my camp. I’ve just changed management, too. There are going to be a lot of changes coming and I think people are going to be excited about it.”

Whether or not Lee draws Gaethje his next time out (that seems like one of the more plausible matchups), fight fans better get used to “Motown Phenom” competing atop the UFC’s 155-pound division. Every time he has lost inside of the Octagon Lee has seemingly come back stronger, so there’s no telling how far the Grand Rapids native can take it in 2018.

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Bellator 186: Linton Vassell won’t change his fight style for Ryan Bader or anyone else

Bellator 186 ‘Bader vs Vassell’ takes place Nov. 3, 2017 at Bryce Jordan Center in University Park, Penn. Today MMA Mania talks to Linton ‘The Swarm’ Vassell about finally getting his second chance at the Light Heavyweight title!

Bellator 186 “Bader vs. Vassell” comes to Bryce Jordan Center in University Park, Penn. on Nov. 3, 2017. Light Heavyweight champion Ryan “Darth” Bader (23-5) faces Linton “The Swarm” Vassell (18-5, 1 NC) Friday night, winner of three straight bouts coming into this title match.

This is not his first chance at Bellator gold. Back when he was on a nine fight win streak, Vassell faced Emanuel Newton at Bellator 130. Vassell seemed to have the “Hardcore Kid” in trouble early, but Newton outlasted his foe and retained the title with a fifth round rear naked choke.

For a while Vassell’s future seemed unclear, but starting with a Newton rematch at Bellator 149, “The Swarm” ran up a three fight win streak including a signature submission of former champ Liam McGeary that earned him this title shot.

Today MMA Mania talks to Linton Vassell on the eve of his another chance to claim the 205 lb. title in Bellator and how he plans to make the most of this second opportunity.

“This time feels so much sweeter than the first time. I feel like I didn’t really appreciate it the first time. I felt like ‘Yeah I’m fighting for a belt, I’m gonna win’ you know, and I feel like I wasn’t ready. But now I’ve been training with some of the best in the world for over two and a half years, and I definitely think you can see it in the way my performances have been.”

It would be hard to argue he’s not improved given he beat two former world champions in his last three Bellator fights.

“You know just finishing Liam (McGeary) definitely shows the level I’ve gone up, especially from the first time I fought for a title.”

Everything goes up another level for “Darth” Bader given even McGeary would admit he’s more about jiu-jitsu than wrestling, and Bader is a world class wrestler since his college days.

“The funny thing is, the way I fight doesn’t change. I fight the way I fight – it doesn’t matter who it is – that’s just the way I fight. Just because you change the name doesn’t matter to me. Obviously I’ve changed a few things, but it doesn’t actually change anything other than, you know, I have to get ready for a wrestler (rather) than a jiu-jitsu guy.”

That level of confidence may seem bold, but Vassell is the taller man on Friday (6’4” to 6’2”) with a reach advantage to boot (82” to 74”) plus a self-described unconventional fighting style.

“I either take you down, beat you up, or I beat you up standing then take you down. It’s not going to change the fight. Yes he’s a grappler, he’s a wrestler, but I feel like I stall all that. Just the way I fight is not traditional at all. My coaches are like ‘Do a double leg’ and I’ll do something else. They’re like ‘Alright that went well.’ You know so I don’t do your traditional stuff. As I say I’m pretty strong so like… it works for me if you know what I mean.”

Vassell has finished 77% of his wins (14 of 18) by knockout or submission, while only being knocked out twice and submitted once, so he’s a man who seizes opportunities when they come.

“The funny thing is sometimes I don’t even know what I’ll (do next). ‘Oh, I just took him down!’ Yeah it’s just the way I’ve always been. If I see an opening, I’m gonna go for it. And it’s not I’m just gonna go for it I’m GOING for it, so you best be ready cause I’m gonna make you pay for it. I feel like people don’t expect that and underestimate me, and when they do feel it that’s when I put that hurting on them and I finish them.”

Vassell is a little coy about his strategy but feels there are things he learned from Bader’s last fight that could give him an edge when it comes to their fight styles.

“Yeah! I won’t say, but yes, I did (see things). I also noticed that he’s not really a finisher. He likes to win on points. That’s just the way he is as a fighter. I feel like he’s willing to get in there and just ‘Okay I won that round, I won this round, I might have won that round, but you know’ and I feel like that’s just the way he fights.”

Let’s not look past the fact that Bader has won eight fights by knockout and four by submission though. He may at times win on points, but at other times, he can take your head clean off.

“I’ve seen his fights, I’ve seen some where he bangs, and I’ve seen some of his fights where obviously like which we watched (in June) against Davis. I’m ready for whatever he’s got to be honest. I’m not expecting him to just do one thing. I’m expecting to bang and (do) takedowns and pretty much do it all. But I do feel like even though he comes out to bang (at times) I still feel like he’s going to (try) to win on points. That’s the way I feel like he likes to fight.”

And just to be clear Vassell would take a win on points if it came his way, but he’d like to go out there and put on a show for the fans.

“I go to finish. I finish fights, that’s as simple as I can explain it. It’s not that I go in there and I’m like ‘Oh let me win on points’ – I go to finish. No one wants to see a five round fight, a three round fight of no finishing and no damage. If you’re inflicting damage on someone there’s no way the fight is going to go that distance. If you’re going to finish the fight there shouldn’t be no way someone can withstand your punishment and go the five rounds.”

On November 3, 2017 at Bryce Jordan Center, “The Swarm” Linton Vassell will see if Ryan Bader can withstand the punishment he brings in his quest for Bellator gold.

Complete audio of our interview is embedded above, and complete coverage of “Bader vs. Vassell” resides here at MMAmania.com all week long.

To check out the latest Bellator MMA-related news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive news archive right here.

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Augusto Sakai: Cheick Kongo changed his fighting style after multiple KO losses

Bellator heavyweight Augusto Sakai is looking to score his signature win in London.

Unbeaten in 10 pro bouts, half of them under the Bellator banner, Augusto Sakai faces longtime veteran Cheick Kongo at the SSE Arena at Friday’s Bellator 179.

But that wasn’t the fight he was expecting. Speaking with MMA Fighting, Sakai said he was previously linked to a fight with Javy Ayala, who demolished Sergei Kharitonov in 16 seconds in November, but the bout was scrapped due to his opponent’s injury. Soon thereafter, the promotion set up a fight with Kongo.

Kongo is looking for his ninth Bellator win after his 18-fight UFC run from 2006-13, where he beat the likes of Mirko Cro Cop, Matt Mitrione and Pat Barry. Yet, Sakai feels the French heavyweight is not the same fighter anymore.

“He’s fighting safer now, using his experience,” the Brazilian said. “He realized it’s better for him to fight safer after he suffered some knockouts in the UFC.”

Both of Kongo’s Bellator losses came by way of decision, but was finished three times inside the Octagon, getting knocked out by Mark Hunt and Roy Nelson, and submitted by Frank Mir after getting knocked down. Even in his wins, like the two-minute brawl with Pat Barry in 2011, Kongo was also dropped by his opponent.

“He saw he can’t get punished and knocked out all the time,” Sakai said. “He has a sequence of tough fights, getting knocked down or knocked out in every fight, and that made him change his strategy a bit.”

Sakai, who scored seven of his nine wins by knockout, won’t go for the kill right away in London, but envisions a stoppage win.

“Maybe the chin, maybe some other part of his body… maybe a kick to his ribs,” Sakai said with a laugh. “My main focus is to win. My record shows I prefer a knockout, but I’m cool. I don’t go in there gunning for the knockout. If it comes, great, I’ll finish him, but I can also submit him on the ground. It comes naturally. I see myself defeating him standing. Let’s try to get this knockout.”

Coming off a disappointing majority draw with Dan Charles a year ago, Sakai expects to be recognized as one of the best heavyweights after taking on a popular name like Kongo.

“My next fight is always the most important, but this one if big because of his name, the fact that he’s coming off a lot of wins,” Sakai said. “Winning this fight, I’d get more notoriety, people would look me as a title contender. I’m already seen as a prospect, but many still don’t believe in me, I think.

“Winning this fight, it would change the way they see me. I’m not worried about showing people what I’m capable of. I know what I’m capable of, what I can do in there. But that would come naturally with the win.”

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Augusto Sakai: Cheick Kongo changed his fighting style after multiple KO losses

Bellator heavyweight Augusto Sakai is looking to score his signature win in London.

Unbeaten in 10 pro bouts, half of them under the Bellator banner, Augusto Sakai faces longtime veteran Cheick Kongo at the SSE Arena at Friday’s Bellator 179.

But that wasn’t the fight he was expecting. Speaking with MMA Fighting, Sakai said he was previously linked to a fight with Javy Ayala, who demolished Sergei Kharitonov in 16 seconds in November, but the bout was scrapped due to his opponent’s injury. Soon thereafter, the promotion set up a fight with Kongo.

Kongo is looking for his ninth Bellator win after his 18-fight UFC run from 2006-13, where he beat the likes of Mirko Cro Cop, Matt Mitrione and Pat Barry. Yet, Sakai feels the French heavyweight is not the same fighter anymore.

“He’s fighting safer now, using his experience,” the Brazilian said. “He realized it’s better for him to fight safer after he suffered some knockouts in the UFC.”

Both of Kongo’s Bellator losses came by way of decision, but was finished three times inside the Octagon, getting knocked out by Mark Hunt and Roy Nelson, and submitted by Frank Mir after getting knocked down. Even in his wins, like the two-minute brawl with Pat Barry in 2011, Kongo was also dropped by his opponent.

“He saw he can’t get punished and knocked out all the time,” Sakai said. “He has a sequence of tough fights, getting knocked down or knocked out in every fight, and that made him change his strategy a bit.”

Sakai, who scored seven of his nine wins by knockout, won’t go for the kill right away in London, but envisions a stoppage win.

“Maybe the chin, maybe some other part of his body… maybe a kick to his ribs,” Sakai said with a laugh. “My main focus is to win. My record shows I prefer a knockout, but I’m cool. I don’t go in there gunning for the knockout. If it comes, great, I’ll finish him, but I can also submit him on the ground. It comes naturally. I see myself defeating him standing. Let’s try to get this knockout.”

Coming off a disappointing majority draw with Dan Charles a year ago, Sakai expects to be recognized as one of the best heavyweights after taking on a popular name like Kongo.

“My next fight is always the most important, but this one if big because of his name, the fact that he’s coming off a lot of wins,” Sakai said. “Winning this fight, I’d get more notoriety, people would look me as a title contender. I’m already seen as a prospect, but many still don’t believe in me, I think.

“Winning this fight, it would change the way they see me. I’m not worried about showing people what I’m capable of. I know what I’m capable of, what I can do in there. But that would come naturally with the win.”

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