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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.
“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.
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.”
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.”
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.