Tag Archive for Watching

After Watching History at UFC 193, Cris Cyborg ‘Knew’ She Was Eventually Going to Face Holly Holm

For the longest time, Cristiane Justino had Ronda Rousey in her sights, but her focus began to shift following one historic November night in Melbourne.
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After Watching History at UFC 193, Cris Cyborg ‘Knew’ She Was Eventually Going to Face Holly Holm

For the longest time, Cristiane Justino had Ronda Rousey in her sights, but her focus began to shift following one historic November night in Melbourne.
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After Watching History at UFC 193, Cris Cyborg ‘Knew’ She Was Eventually Going to Face Holly Holm

For the longest time, Cristiane Justino had Ronda Rousey in her sights, but her focus began to shift following one historic November night in Melbourne.
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After Watching History at UFC 193, Cris Cyborg ‘Knew’ She Was Eventually Going to Face Holly Holm

For the longest time, Cristiane Justino had Ronda Rousey in her sights, but her focus began to shift following one historic November night in Melbourne.
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Donald Cerrone’s message for fans not watching his fight with Robbie Lawler: ‘F*ck you’

LOS ANGELES — The UFC these days is a $ 4B entity broadcast on network television, with all the headaches and controversies that go with sport as a big business.

But all that should be shoved aside on July 8, when Robbie Lawler and Donald Cerrone square off on the main card of UFC 213 in Las Vegas.

This is an old-school fight, with old-school excitement, the sort of throwdown fans used to get excited about back when there was little money in the sport and people watched because of their passion for fighting.

And Cerrone knows it.

“I’m f*cking pumped,” Cerrone said during a UFC 213 press event on Wednesday. “It’s going to be exciting, you know? I don’t even know why they need me to keep selling this fight, it’s already, if you’re not a f*cking MMA fan and watching this fight, then f*ck you.”

This bout was briefly scheduled for UFC 205 in New York last November before Lawler, the former UFC welterweight champion, had to withdraw.

Cerrone went on to knock out Matt Brown at UFC 206, then was finished by Jorge Masvidal in January. Coming off the loss, Cerrone was simply itching to get back into action, so getting that opportunity to fight Lawler which he thought has forever passed was a bonus.

“This is a fight that I think everyone’s going to want to see,” Cerrone said. “It’s like a fighter’s fight, you know? Two old-school boys getting down, I gotta say, my mentality was it doesn’t matter who they give me. I just got my ass whipped, coming off a hard fight, and now I’ve got another one. It’s good, man. It’s awesome. I’m looking forward to it.”

With 45 career finishes between the two of them, Cerrone knows the duo has a reputation to live up to, but he’s not sweating it.

“I don’t think you have to gas this up, Cerrone said. “We’re already full tanks, man. You know, Robbie’s old school. He’s been around forever, so have I. Someone’s going to lose, but I don’t think Robbie looks like at it like and neither do I. …

“I’m going to fight, fight one of the best brawlers in the standup, f*cking throw down and put on a show,” Cerrone added later. “This fight’s for me. This is what I love, there’s no place I’d rather be than in that motherf**ker. And then throwing down with one of the greatest? C’mon. I’m loving it, every minute of it.”

Your ordinary fighter might feel intense pressure coming into the Lawler fight. Cerrone’s had 70 pro fights between MMA and kickboxing, is 34, coming off a loss, and already had a title shot. A win over Lawler could put him right back into the mix.

But Cerrone says that if it ever was his motivation, it isn’t now.

“Some people are like born, and their sole purpose is they love the belt, that’s their mission in life,” he said. “Me? I enjoy having fun and doing what I love. Fighting is just something I do, man, it’s not who I am. It doesn’t complete me. So the end of the day if I get the belt, f*cking great. If I don’t, I had such a good run and I love it. There’s literally no place I’d rather be July 8 then in the fucking ring throwing down. I love it. It’s my passion. So for me, it’s the highest pinnacle of my life, It’s my passion, doing what I love every f*cking day. People are like, Cowboy, you should probably quit drinking, you should probably quit partying. I’m like no, f*ck you all, I’m doing it my way. This is what I want to do.”

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Dan Hardy declines Mickey Gall’s callout – ‘I don’t want to beat up a kid that I enjoy watching’

After submitting Sage Northcutt at UFC on FOX 22 inside Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, Calif., (watch highlights here), Mickey Gall continued his tradition of immediately calling out his next opponent. This time around, Gall asked for a bout against former Welterweight title challenger, Dan Hardy, in a fight that would be contested at Lightweight. “The Outlaw” had a brief and comical response via social media, but during a recent stop on “The MMA Hour,” Hardy respectfully declined the call-out … while Gall was on the other line listening.

He explains:

“I almost spat my tea out, it was like four in morning and I wasn’t expecting it. I appreciate the call-out and I appreciate the respect that you’ve shown me, but I have never fought anybody with less than eight fights, not even in my first pro fight. We are at different phases in our careers. I’m not looking at knocking off a future contender that I’m possibly going to be commentating for in the future. At the same time, if I was going to fight, I want to fight a veteran. I want to fight someone that has had 20 or 30 fights and has matured in their game and is sure of their fighting style, not one that is still developing. I like to see the development of these young fighters and I don’t want to interfere with that in anyway. I’m 10 years older and we are at different phases in our careers.”

After getting shut down, Gall responded by saying that he respected his decision and still considers the British brawler a legend of the sport before hanging up the phone. Hardy proceeded to say that if he does return, he wants to face a long-time veteran who he can really get motivated for.

“It just doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t appeal to me and I don’t want to beat up a kid that I enjoy watching. There are a lot more older guys out there that have mature in their style and know their capabilities. There are a lot of fighters out there that I would be motivated to fight. And Mickey is a kid, I appreciate where he is in his career, four fights, and he is an exciting future prospect and I don’t want to play a part in the building of his career in any way.”

And that’s that, though Hardy did say he wouldn’t be opposed to a grappling match with the young up-and-comer down the road. Of course, Hardy’s still unsure that he will even return to the cage anytime soon, as he has one final test to go through in January to see if he is able to sustain the rigors of a training camp and a fight after he was diagnosed with Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome back in 2013.

But, just a few months ago, “The Outlaw” teased an MMA comeback, declaring that if and when he does return, he’ll be doing it at 155 pounds. It’s a division filled with plenty of battle-tested veterans who can clearly fit “The Outlaw” criteria of a motivating challenge.

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Dan Hardy appreciates Mickey Gall’s callout, but declines: ‘I don’t want to beat up a kid that I’m enjoying watching’

The last thing Dan Hardy expected to hear in the wee hours of the morning on Sunday was a callout from one of UFC on FOX 22′s big winners.

Hardy was watching the event live from the U.K. when co-headliner Mickey Gall submitted Sage Northcutt with a second-round rear-naked choke. Gall then surprised fight fans by asking for a dance date with “The Outlaw.” The moment was especially unexpected considering that Hardy’s last fight was over four years ago, but the Englishman took it all in good fun.

“I almost spat my tea out of my mouth when I was watching it,” Hardy said in a joint interview with Gall on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour. “It was like four o’clock in the morning when I was watching, and I just wasn’t expecting it. I appreciate the callout. I appreciate the respect that you’ve shown me. But I’ve never fought anybody with less than eight fights, not even in my first pro fight. It’s just, we’re in different phases of our careers.

“I’m not looking at knocking off a future contender that I’m possibly going to commentating for in the future. And at the same time, if I was going to fight, I want to fight a veteran. I want to fight someone who’s had 20, 30 fights, who’s matured in their game and is sure of their fighting style, rather than someone who’s still developing. I like to see the development of these young fighters and I don’t want to interfere with that in any way. I’m 10 years older.”

Gall has made a name for himself for a string of UFC callouts in 2016, starting with his bout against CM Punk and leading into his prime-time tilt against Northcutt. The strategy has paid major dividends for him over the course of the year — his high-profile placement on UFC on FOX 22 despite his relative inexperience is proof of that — but in this case, Gall took his declined invitation in stride.

“He has a right to feel that way,” Gall said to Hardy in response. “I respect that too. That’s cool. You’re a legend. It would’ve been an honor to fight you. That’s cool, man. I love you, Dan.”

Hardy, 34, used to be one of the more popular figures in the UFC welterweight division, however these days he is more of a media figure than an active fighter, working as both an analyst and color commentator under the UFC umbrella.

The switch from a fight life to the one he lives now was forced in 2013, when Hardy was diagnosed with the heart condition Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome. That diagnosis forced his hand and made Hardy look elsewhere for opportunities outside the cage, though he has always remained steadfast in his desire to return to professional fighting.

Hardy is actually scheduled to undergo two final days of testing in January to determine once and for all whether fighting is a viable option for him, so in that regard, Hardy understands where Gall was coming from and appreciates the 24-year-old’s willingness to take a chance.

“I think he’s realistic,” Hardy said. “He said in the post-fight press conference that it was a bit of a haymaker, a bit of a wild callout, and I appreciate that. It surprised me, but I appreciate that. It was very respectful of him. I don’t think it was done in bad taste in any way. I wasn’t offended by it. But you know, there’s 100 guys on the UFC roster who would be much better opponents for him right now.

“I don’t want to beat up a kid that I’m enjoying watching,” Hardy added. “There’s a lot of older guys out there who have matured in their style, they know their fighting style, they know their capabilities, and there’s a lot of fighters out there that I would be motivated to fight. And Mickey is a kid. I appreciate where he is in his career. He’s had four fights and he’s an exciting prospect for the future. I don’t want to play a part in that, being a burden in his career in any way.”

Of course, Hardy is also an analyst — and a terrific one at that — so he couldn’t help but play a little fantasy matchmaker of his own.

Gall said this past weekend that Hardy’s title fight against Georges St-Pierre at UFC 111 was the first UFC event he ever attended live. Hardy’s own first UFC event that he attended live was UFC 85, which featured a headlining bout of Thiago Alves vs. Matt Hughes. And so he figured that if Gall was in search of a veteran opponent with a known name, Alves may fit the bill.

“That’d be a great fight for him,” Hardy said of Alves-Gall. “That’d be really fun, if he wants to fight a veteran. A guy struggling to make 155. I think we should introduce a 162 weight class. Have those two guys pioneer that. … 160 is five pounds over lightweight and 10 pounds under welterweight, and I think 162, the extra two pounds, it’s a better meeting ground.

“We need more divisions. We’ve got fighters to make the divisions, there’s no doubt about it. The sport is growing. We’re having more shows every year. There are more places in the world that are producing fighters, that want shows. We need more weight classes. Fifteen pounds is a big jump. If you look at boxing, we’re not close to 15-pound jumps. And we’ve got room. A light welterweight weight class at 162 would be great, maybe add a 178 in as well at some point.”

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Rafael Natal loved watching rodeos at MSG, and now it’s his time to shine

Eight years after moving to New York, Rafael Natal will finally fulfill one of his dreams.

“Sapo” left Brazil for New York City in September 2008, and it only took him two years to sign with the UFC after winning the Ring of Combate middleweight title. Way before that, he already thought about fighting mixed martial arts in the “capital of the world.” At UFC 205, on Nov. 12, he will have that chance, facing Tim Boetsch.

“Ever since I moved to New York, we dreamed about having MMA legal in the state to fight at Madison Square Garden,” Natal told MMA Fighting. “I’m super excited. It’s an historic event that will be remembered forever. I want to thank my manager and the UFC that always gave me fights in cards I wanted, like in Belo Horizonte and Newark.

“MMA is the fastest growing sport in the world, everybody knows that. And we needed this card in New York, the capital of the world, at Madison Square Garden, to put the UFC in a new level. Everywhere I go people talk about it. The city is excited for this event, and happy to have MMA finally legalized here. New York is going to be the new Las Vegas for the UFC.”

Natal trains at Renzo Gracie’s gym, a block away from Madison Square Garden, and will feel at home competing at the arena.

“I walk by Madison Square Garden twice a day. It’s an extra motivation,” he said. “When I leave the gym, MSG is right there across the street. I’m literally fighting at home. I’m happy.”

UFC 205 will be a special night for Natal, but won’t be the first time he enters MSG. In fact, “Sapo” has been to the arena multiple times in the past few years, and always wondered what it would be like to compete in front of the New York crowd.

“Many people don’t know but I love the PBR rodeo, and I go to Madison Square Garden every year for six years to watch it, so I know the arena well,” “Sapo” said. “The rodeo is a huge event, and I always wondered how awesome it would be to fight there. If it’s fun already to watch a rodeo, imagine a UFC event.

“I went to that historic UFC 100 in Las Vegas, even before I was a UFC fighter. That was my first live UFC event, and I said ‘brother, I want to be in there one day.’ And now God is giving me this gift. It will be awesome.”

“Sapo” is excited about fighting at “home,” but is aware of the dangers Boetsch brings to the table. Coming off a unanimous decision loss to Robert Whittaker, which snapped a four-fight winning streak, the Brazilian feels ready to stop “The Barbarian” in New York.

“He’s a tough fighter, a wrestler with heavy hands,” he said. “We always joke that it’s the toughest match-up, but we did a great training camp and we have a good game plan. You have to be prepared for everything because you never know what will happen. Tim Boetsch is a tough opponent and he has a good name, too, but I’m prepared to win.”

Natal’s last win was a TKO finish over Kevin Casey in January, but the jiu-jitsu black belt hasn’t tapped an opponent since a 2013 victory over Sean Spencer. And even though he calls Boetsch a durable opponent, “Sapo” thinks he has enough power and technique to stop him inside three rounds.

“I’m ready to finish him,” Natal said. “I don’t think this fight will to the distance. I’m ready to go three rounds if I need to, but we both have heavy hands, and my jiu-jitsu is good. I would like to get a submission again, it’s been a while. I want to finish him.”

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Jose Aldo believes it’s ‘impossible not to cry’ after watching his new biopic

RIO DE JANEIRO — Jose Aldo went through a lot before becoming the longest featherweight champion in history, and his life story hit theaters in Brazil.

“Mais forte que o mundo” (“Stronger than the world”, in Portuguese) premiered Wednesday in Rio de Janeiro, and the former UFC 145-pound champion couldn’t hold his tears back while watching Jose Loreto play the MMA star on the big screen.

“I have to thank (director) Afonso Poyart and the whole crew for telling my story in theaters and making me very emotional. It’s amazing,” Aldo told the media. “I think that, being a fight fan or not, this movie will move you because it’s an emotional story. The first time I watched it I was so excited about my story being told in a movie that I didn’t actually pay attention [laughs]. The second time I watched it, I really paid attention to the story. To look back at the past… It was hard for me, but I overcame everything I went through.”

The movie tells the story of a young kid from Manaus who goes through a lot of problems in his life before moving to Rio de Janeiro to pursue his dream of becoming a fighter. It mixes true facts from his life, with a bit of fiction, and Poyart decided to make Aldo’s troubled relationship with his father, Jose, the main story of the movie. There is no word yet on whether or not the movie will be released in the United States.

Aldo’s father had a drinking problem and constantly hit his wife Rocilene, and that forced his family to go in different directions. Rocilene moved to a separate house with his two daughters, and Aldo eventually moved to Rio de Janeiro to live at Nova Uniao.

“It’s impossible not to cry,” Aldo said. “A MMA fan or not, it’s a beautiful movie. It’s my movie so I thought it was wonderful [laughs]. My relationship with my father, a hero and a villain, is really beautiful in the movie.”

“A father probably is the toughest character to do in a movie,” said Jackson Antunes, who played Aldo’s father in the movie. “Having a son is the biggest responsibility you can have in your life, even if you get lost in the way. Everything is about love. I looked inside of my heart for love to build this human being. I meet Jose today and he looks into my eyes and stops for a second, remembers of his father, and gets emotional. That’s a wonderful feedback.

“Alcohol is part of their culture. Unfortunately, domestic violence is also part of their culture. But there’s a beautiful side of this story,” Antunes continued. “Aldo’s father loved him, wished the best for him. There’s a moment in the movie where he realizes he won’t have control over his son and over his own actions, and he says ‘get out of here so you don’t become someone like me. Fight for what you love and what makes you happy’. It’s the human conflict.”

It took them almost a year to shoot the two-hour movie, and Jose Loreto had to completely change his life to become a MMA fighter.

“It was stimulant. Some would say it was hard, but I call it stimulant because he’s a complex character outside of the fight,” Loreto said. “He has a special strength inside of him that he uses in the Octagon. I became a true fighter. I forgot that I was an actor, I became a fighter for this movie. I think it’s an amazing movie because of this dedication. I used Aldo’s characteristics that inspire me the most: his dedication, the warrior spirit, the martial art. I used that in my preparation.

“It was intense, it wore me out, but it was worth it. Every punch in the face I took, it was worth it. I got punched a lot in this movie, and I asked for it. I prepared myself as a fighter, so in the fighting scene I didn’t want that technical punch. I went for it. Many people got hurt, and I got hurt too. But I went back home at night, put ice in the bathtub, and I was ready to go again in the next day. It was the life of an athlete. I twisted my ankle, I got hurt a lot. I felt pain in my body that I believe I will carry with me for the rest of my life [laughs].”

The movie ends with Aldo become the UFC featherweight champion, defeating Mark Hominick in front of 55,000 fans in Canada, but many things have changed since. “Mais forte que o mundo” was expected to be released in Brazil last December, a week after UFC 194, but they decided to change plans following Aldo’s 13-second loss to Conor McGregor.

Aldo returns to action on July 9, facing Frankie Edgar for the interim featherweight championship at UFC 200. Aldo’s goal is to beat Edgar and get his rematch with “The Notorious”, and that could lead to a second movie.

“It’s a biography of a young guy, so he will still have a lot of stories to be told in the future. I think so, there could be more movies to be made,” Poyart said. “Maybe the McGregor fight could be a second movie, absolutely. This fight alone is a movie. All this conflict with McGregor would give us a spin-off, to say the least. Who knows, maybe we’ll do something in the future. After the rematch happens, McGregor would be a great archrival for Aldo.”

It’s up to Aldo to live the story that will be told in a second movie, and he wants it to end like the first one: his hands raised, a UFC belt around his waist, and a party in Rio de Janeiro.

“There’s a huge story to be told in the future,” Aldo said. “Just like in the Rocky movie, they had a lot of movies. If that happens to me, brother… I think that getting my belt back, this story would be awesome. It would be a great story with me beating up (McGregor) and getting the belt back. My focus is on the belt now. As soon as I get the belt back, defeating Frankie Edgar, I will think what’s next. We do have unfinished business.”

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UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman has never gotten around to watching gruesome Anderson Silva injury

It was one of the biggest “breaks” in the history of UFC championship fights.

After losing his middleweight belt in shocking fashion to Chris Weidman at UFC 162, Brazilian superstar Anderson Silva looked to reclaim his supremacy in the rematch at UFC 168.

Despite losing the first round badly, Silva came out in the second round with urgency, trying to stop the forward advancement of Weidman by throwing a barrage of kicks. But it was the kick thrown about a minute into the second round that will go down as perhaps the most gruesome injury anybody has ever seen in the Octagon.

Appearing on Huffington Post Live recently, Weidman said at the time the injury occurred he thought Silva bruised his shin as it is a common injury while sparring in training camp.

“It ended up that his leg was broke. I didn’t realize, I did a little circle around the ring because I knew I won, the ref called it off. And then I went over to where he was at and I just hear screaming and yelling and I’m like, what the heck? And I look over and I see him holding his leg together.”

Although photos of the leg break were widely circulated after the event, Weidman revealed he’s never actually gone back and watched the moment it breaks in the video. And who could blame him?

“You know what’s funny, I don’t think I’ve ever actually watched it. I’ve seen pictures. People always, you know, especially right after, you get these pictures and they have these crazy, what do you call them, memes. All different things and I just, when I actually watched the video I think I might have closed my eyes when it actually happens. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it either.”

The consecutive wins over Silva cemented Weidman’s status as the 185-pound champion, putting to rest most of the claims his first victory over the “Spider” was nothing more than a “fluke.”

But Weidman said it was hard to be happy in the immediate moments of victory while Silva was writhing in agony. He even apologized for what was, essentially, a legal leg check.

“I definitely said I’m sorry, I’m sorry this happened.”

Things have gone downhill for Silva since then, testing positive for banned substances at UFC 183 and receiving a one-year suspension by the Nevada State Athletic Commission. That suspension is nearly up, however, and the leg appears to be fully healed from that horrible night.

As for Weidman, he’s got bigger fish to fry when in seven days he takes on Luke Rockhold to attempt a fourth defense of his title at UFC 194.

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