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  • DraftKings $20000 One-Day Fantasy MMA Contest - MMAWeekly (blog)
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If heart could be measured, then there is no doubt that Chuck O’Neil would be one of the wealthiest fighters on the planet.

As one of the few remaining fighters carrying the Forrest Griffin gene, O’Neil built his MMA career as a blood-and-guts fighter, always willing to push forward regardless of the circumstances. For years, he was the temporary fix for “Just Bleed” addicts looking to see a good old-fashioned street brawl.

Throwing caution to the wind is by and large what put O’Neil on the map and eventually led to him being cast on Season 13 of The Ultimate Fighter. Unfortunately, It is also what led him to being one-and-done as a UFC fighter.

Much has changed since O’Neil basked in the mainstream spotlight. His evolution as both a fighter and a human being helped him defeat UFC veteran Ricardo Funch in October 2014 to capture the Classic Entertainment and Sports welterweight title.

Leading up to his first title defense on January 30, an older and more mature O’Neil reflected on being cut by the UFC and his overall growth and evolution as a fighter.

“I know Dana really liked me after the show because I was a hard-fighting guy, I was tough,” O’Neil told Bleacher Report. “But at the same time, I made it to the show by being tough. I still had a long way to go in my career, and a lot of times people would look at me as being uncoachable at the time. Since losing [to Chris Cope] and getting released by the UFC, I have changed things up.

“I’ve found a better camp, a coach that really helps me out. I’ve got another coach that really helps me out a lot now too, so I have a great team around me of coaches and training partners and everything. Without that experience of losing and looking like a jerk on national TV while losing, I wouldn’t be where I’m at today. I’ve completely evolved as a person and a fighter since then.”

Life is often thought of as a winding road of twists and turns to an unknown location. We all have thoughts and dreams, but our itineraries in life are often realized upon arrival.

As a kid, O’Neil envisioned himself parading around in tights as a glorified stuntman in the world of professional wrestling. It’s a dream of many young men when taking in the larger-than-life spectacle that is World Wrestling Entertainment.

But things quickly changed when O’Neil started watching the first season of The Ultimate Fighter. It was the show that changed everything for MMA, turning a dying sport into a billion-dollar empire. O’Neil realized right then that he had found his life’s calling.

“Growing up in middle school and high school, I was a huge wrestling fan, like sports entertainment wrestling and WWF and everything,” he said.

“I always said that I wanted to be a wrestler after high school, and I was a real heavy-set kid. But around the time I graduated high school, the first season of The Ultimate Fighter was on TV. I was like, ‘Wow this is pretty awesome.’ I was thinking how great it would be to be on that show, and then I started researching where to train and find places to train and I ended up at Lauzon MMA, Joe Lauzon’s school back in 2005. I just started getting in better shape and kind of changed my life for the better.”

O’Neil’s dream to enter the TUF house became a reality several years later.

After being cast on the 13th season, he was chosen as a member of former UFC heavyweight champ Brock Lesnar’s team. He made it all the way to the semifinals before losing to the season winner, Tony Ferguson.

Few fighters actually enjoy living in the TUF house. You are cut off from the rest of the world for several weeks and placed into a house full of people you’ll have to fight. It isn’t an ideal situation for any MMA fighter.

But unlike most, O’Neil enjoyed every minute spent in the house, outside of being coached by Lesnar.

“It was awesome to tell you the truth,” he said. “I have friends who have been on the show, and they’re like, ‘Oh man, I couldn’t wait to get out of there.’ I loved every minute of it, and like I said, that was my first initial goal when I got into the sport is that I wanted to be on The Ultimate Fighter.

“It was a cool experience. I mean, obviously, I wish I could have had a better coach than Brock Lesnar, someone that was more involved with the team or seemed to care a little bit more than he did. But at the same time, I loved every bit of it, being away from everything for six weeks. My food was paid for and just training all day. That’s all I had to worry about. They take your phone and everything away. It was a great experience, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”

O’Neil is scheduled to defend his welterweight title against Emmanuel Walo in the main event of CES MMA 27.

While he has grown and matured since his stint on TUF, O’Neil still embodies the blood-and-guts approach that helped him achieve earlier success, but he now balances his urge to stand and bang through refined technique and a vastly improved skill set.

Under the tutelage of Nate Ryan and Dave Keith at Mass BJJ, O’Neil hopes to turn his recent welterweight run into something significant. It is often said that a fighter isn’t truly a champion until the belt is defended.

For O’Neil, the journey back to the mainstream spotlight begins with Walo, a dangerous challenger who hasn’t lost a fight in over three years.

“Leading up to the fight, there’s nothing but respect between the two of us,” said O’Neil. “Again, that just shows the evolution of the sport. You don’t have to sit there and talk s—t about each other. We’re going to go out there, we’re going to have a great fight, we’re going to shake hands before and shake hands after.

“Obviously every fight starts on the feet. We’ll be mixing it up really good, and I think like most of my opponents that have fought me before, they underestimate me a little bit in all aspects of the game. I think he’s going to feel my power on the feet and say, ‘I don’t like this.’ Then he’s going to try to push me against the cage and feel my strength against the cage and say, ‘Oh I don’t like this either.’

“I feel like I have an advantage on him everywhere, but he’s not going to be easy. I don’t think it’s going to be an easy fight, but in my mind, I see a finish in the second round.”

CES MMA 27 takes place on Friday night at the Twin River Casino in Lincoln, Rhode Island.

 

Jordy McElroy is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report. He is also the MMA writer for Rocktagon and FanRag SportsAll quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.

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Jon Jones needed five grueling rounds to defeat Alexander Gustafsson. Anthony Johnson made the task look far simpler on Saturday night.

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When it comes to Conor McGregor and television ratings, no headliner has ever drawn more eyeballs on Fox Sports 1 than “Notorious” and his opponent, Dennis Siver.

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The Time Is Now for Europe’s biggest ever UFC event! Tickets are available now for UFC Fight Night Stockholm at the 30,000 seater Tele2 Arena. The event features Alexander Gustafsson vs. Anthony Johnson, Gegard Mousasi vs. Dan Henderson and Phil Davis vs. Ryan Bader. Tickets: http://www.AXS.com/UFC

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Myles Jury talks about if he’s undefeated, his two stints on The Ultimate Fighter, Donald Cerrone, when he started training mixed martial arts, if this puts him in title shot mix, and much more.

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Donald Cerrone has earned every ounce of his reputation.

The hard-charging lightweight’s “anytime, anywhere” approach to the fight game has made him somewhat of an anomaly in the current realm of mixed martial arts, where the large majority of competitors attempt to strategically make their way up a variety of ladders. Yet, that’s just not “Cowboy’s” way, and his willingness to trade leather with any fighter who signs on the dotted line to face him has been a key aspect to his rise to become a fan-favorite.

His love for the scrap and the 31-year-old Albuquerque transplant’s ruckus-heavy fighting style have made him a must-see attraction come fight night. When you factor in the unique stat that Cerrone has never pulled out of a scheduled bout, and has made all 15 appearances he’s been contracted to make in his three years under the UFC banner, the picture starts to take shape that the Jackson/Winkeljohn-trained fighter is truly a rare breed in the chaotic environment of MMA.

Yet, while Cerrone‘s work inside the cage has been well documented, so has his love for adrenaline-based endeavors on his downtime. Where other fighters are grinding out several sessions a day inside the gym, the Colorado native has made a habit out of deviating from that particular approach, and the results have shown when it’s time to compete under the bright lights.

His methods may not be suitable for all, but for Cerrone himself, mixing pleasure with the rigorous work that is done inside the gym has allowed him to strike a balance in his life. Cerrone is just as full throttle as he’s ever been, but finding that rhythm has helped him turn a corner in his career and morph into a different type of monster.

Cerrone has notched five consecutive victories with all but one of those wins coming by way of finish. The only man to make it to the cards against him was Eddie Alvarez at UFC 178 back in September, but even then, the former Bellator lightweight champion took a battering for his troubles. The scrappy striker will look to make Myles Jury his sixth straight victim at UFC 182 this Saturday night in Las Vegas, and with his co-main event approaching on the horizon, the perennial title contender has never felt better.

“I put it all together this year,” Cerrone told Bleacher Report. “My coaches and everyone I train with are down there together and they don’t hold me back from being me. If I want to go out duck hunting until two in the morning, they are like whatever. If I want to go snowmobiling or jet skiing, I do it. They are like, ‘Do it…but we are gonna get work in.’

“We have a lot of young fighters who come out to the house and I try to teach that to them. You start grinding your body in training to the point where you need to take time off and I’ve learned how to balance those things. Your body needs to recover and on those days I go hunting and then come back fresh and ready to go hard. In the back of your mind you have those thoughts that you have to be in shape and there are all of these high expectations, but on the other end your body can’t keep up. Training four times a day definitely takes a toll and mixing in some pleasure in the middle helps to take the edge off all that.”

While Jury has been shaking up the ranks of the lightweight division since coming off The Ultimate Fighter, and is looking to battle his way into title contention, Cerrone sees their upcoming collision as just another day in the office. Following his victory over Alvarez, the versatile knockout artist refused to leave Las Vegas before UFC President Dana White had another fight lined up for him. Cerrone prefers to keep things moving and he made his way back to his ranch with another matchup locked and loaded.

Nevertheless, there would be some twists and turns in the road, and the fight would get pushed back a bit, but Cerrone and the undefeated prospect are going to step into the Octagon to handle their business this Saturday night. While Cerrone is notorious for not watching tape on his opponents and admittedly isn’t well-versed on his opponent, he knows Jury is a talented fighter and is expecting fireworks at UFC 182.

Cerrone can say those things because he knows what he brings to the table, and he’s looking to make another impressive addition to his resume on Saturday night.

“I don’t know much about him other than he’s undefeated,” Cerrone said. “He’s a good kid and he’s like the new breed or new generation of fighter where they are pretty good at everything. We’ll see. I feel like I’m still young in this sport too so we’ll see.

“I don’t care who I fight and people seem to have a hard time believing that. When I fought Eddie Alvarez he was saying that I’ve seen tape on him and whatever and I told him, ‘No…I’ve never seen you fight.’ It’s the same thing with Myles. The only fight I’ve ever seen of his is when he fought Diego [Sanchez]. I’ve seen zero tape on him and the only time I ever watch UFC is when I’m watching teammates or people I know fight. I just live my life and get it done.”

Should Cerrone emerge victorious at UFC 182, his red-hot winning streak will make a strong case for a shot at the UFC lightweight title—one that has seemingly eluded him for a long time. That said, chasing championships isn’t what motivates Cerrone because those particular situations always seem to come with a lot of “wait and see,” and he isn’t much the type for waiting for anything to come around to him.

Cerrone is in the UFC to fight, and if that doesn’t line up with how a title shot rolls out, then he’ll just catch it on the next pass. Again, just another detail that makes Cerrone‘s path through the highest level of MMA unlike any other fighter in the sport, but there’s only one Donald Cerrone.

“I don’t really look who is above me for a title shot or anything like that,” he said in conclusion. “If Khabib [Nurmagomedov] is ready then let’s fight. I can tell you that I definitely wouldn’t be one of those guys who are at No. 1 and is just gonna sit there and wait for his title shot to come around. No way. If Dana White told me I’m next for a shot but had to wait, I wouldn’t do it. I have money to make and a legacy to uphold.”

 

Duane Finley is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report. All quotes are obtained firsthand unless noted otherwise.

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Lyoto Machida has always been a complex puzzle to figure out inside the cage.

He’s a fighter with an elusive style who has the ability to close distance rapidly and with such force that it has brought an abrupt end to many a fighter’s night. Furthermore, with his deep arsenal of kicks, punches and knees, the proverbial kill shot can come from anywhere at any time. Those aspects add up to make The Dragon one of the most dangerous strikers to ever compete inside the Octagon, but even in a game as universally well-rounded as the one Machida brings, there are always going to be some holes.

At least there were in a certain regard.

While there is no doubting the 36-year-old Shotokan karate master possesses one of the most fluid and diverse attacks in the UFC, there have always been questions about his ability to stand tall in the face of an equally relenting attack. With Machida’s style, getting hit wasn’t part of the game plan, and fighters who have been able to touch him up have typically fared well against him, therefore making the “Machida puzzle” solvable if you can get in and stay in his face.

That said, his most recent showing against middleweight champion Chris Weidman may have significantly changed the tone and perspective of his story and added yet another wrinkle to his complex style. While Machida had a crisp first round that he took on the scorecards, the following four frames were nothing short of a dogfight. Several times both champion and challenger appeared to have the other in trouble, and neither was willing to give an inch inside the cage.

And while the end result was another successful title defense for Weidman, the Team Black House fighter emerged victorious in his own right. In those 25 minutes, Machida proved once and for all there was no quit in him and that he could buckle down into a donnybrook if need be. For a fighter who has the ability to out-quick and outmaneuver the majority of opponents, knowing he has the ability to fight in the trenches simply adds one more dangerous wrinkle to an already dynamic offensive attack.

“I definitely think I earned some new respect from the fans that night,” Machida told Bleacher Report with the assistance of a translator. “I fought with my heart, and I left it all in there. It’s great to know I have the ability to dig in and fight in close quarters because that situation may arise again in the future. It’s good to know that I’ve been there and can do it.”

The former 205-pound champion will once again put his talents to the test when he faces a resurgent CB Dollaway at UFC Fight Night 58 on Saturday night in Brazil. Whereas The Doberman was once riddled with injury and stuck in a “give one, take one” pattern in the middleweight ranks, the Power MMA representative has been on a hot streak as of late, winning four of his last five showings.

Two victories during his recent run have come in the hostile environment of a Brazilian arena in bouts where he’s played the role of underdog and pulled off a pair of impressive upsets. Yet, this will be his first test against a seasoned former titleholder in Machida, and The Dragon has no plans of being the biggest addition to Dollaway’s resume.

He’s looking forward to putting on another show for his countrymen and getting back into striking distance of another championship opportunity.

“It’s a great opportunity to be fighting here in Brazil again,” Machida said. “I get to represent my country and fight in front of my Brazilian fans. I think CB [Dollaway] is a guy who may not have any one particular skill that is necessarily special, but he’s a very dangerous guy all around. That said, I am not thinking about what he’s done before or plans to do in this fight. I’m only focused on my game and what I need to do to get the victory.

“Every fight that I have I’m one step closer to the belt, and I’ve always kind of been up there in both divisions I’ve competed at. I think a win here gets me back to being one step closer to a title shot.”

 

Duane Finley is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report. All quotes are obtained firsthand unless noted otherwise.

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Phil Brooks has zero professional UFC fights. He has zero amateur fights. He’s spent his adult life as CM Punk in the world of professional wrestling, which is certainly athletic but not competitive in a traditional sense.

And still, he said that signing with the Ultimate Fighting Championship was the easiest decision he’s ever made.

“It was actually a really easy decision to make,” Brooks said at the UFC 181 post-fight press conference. “Time will tell how wise of a decision it was. I’m excited. I finally feel there’s something I can put 100 percent of myself into and I will get 100 percent back.”

Brooks said the deal, which has been in the works since early November, is something he has been thinking about for a long time. He is a devout practitioner of Brazilian jiu-jitsu and trains under Rener Gracie. But he is 36 years old and has no UFC fighting experience. To hear him tell it, he’s doing this because he wants to challenge himself, and because he wants to send a message.

“I’m not going to try to give you some inspirational message. There are a lot of kids out there that look up to me, or at least I think there are,” Brooks said. “I always tell them: do not let anyone tell you that you cannot do something. Choose a path and work towards it to the best of your abilities.”

Brooks is not the first former WWE superstar to make the leap to the UFC’s Octagon. Brock Lesnar, one of the best big men ever in the world of scripted wrestling, made the leap and captured the heavyweight championship. But Brooks said he’s no Lesnar, even though he welcomes the comparisons as favorable ones.

“If someone is going to compare me to Brock Lesnar, I’ll take that. I think I’m a little cuter, though,” he said.

Brooks said he is currently 200 pounds and is targeting a debut in the middleweight division. But he won’t rule out a move to 170 pounds, he said, especially since he’s losing weight due to his new training schedule. And he has not picked a training camp, but said that he would not be cherry-picking training partners.

“I am considering them all,” Brooks said when asked about training camps. “I need to go somewhere that’s best for me. Being the WWE guy, I’ve been in gyms across the country where I walk in and guys are like, ‘hey, let’s break the fake wrestler’s arm.’ And I just wanted to roll or to sweat. So I have to make sure I’m comfortable with everybody.

Reaction to the signing was mostly negative, with many assigning freak-show connotations to the deal. Brooks said he’s staying off Twitter and staying away from the negativity for the time being, but that he knows the backlash will be severe. But, he noted that the UFC is a business, and that while he considered fighting outside of the Octagon to get his feet wet, the real big business will be his first fight.

“If I went somewhere else and lost the first fight, it would lose some luster,” Brooks said. “But I was willing to do that, and I still am.”

All quotes were obtained firsthand 

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MMAjunkie.com
Still considering retirement, Bobby Green not sure he can ever please both
MMAjunkie.com
Bobby Green (23-6 MMA, 4-1 UFC) didn't really enjoy his Thanksgiving. Sure, the time with family was great, but Green is still steaming after a unanimous-decision loss to Edson Barboza (15-2 MMA, 9-2 UFC) and isn't certain whether or not he wants to …

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MMAjunkie.com
Bobby Green not sure he can ever please both fans and judges
MMAjunkie.com
Bobby Green (23-6 MMA, 4-1 UFC) didn't really enjoy his Thanksgiving. Sure, the time with family was great, but Green is still steaming after a unanimous-decision loss to Edson Barboza (15-2 MMA, 9-2 UFC) and isn't certain whether or not he wants to …
UFC lightweight Bobby Green believes he was 'robbed' of a win vs. Edson BarbozaBloody Elbow

all 2 news articles »

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  • Nick Diaz On No-Showing UFC 183 Open Workouts: “It’s Pretty Inconsiderate Of Me, I Apologize”
    Following a hectic Wednesday afternoon in Las Vegas, where Nick Diaz no-showed the UFC 183 open workouts, the Stockton native has broken his silence, offering an apology. During the UFC 183 media day on Thursday, Diaz explained the confusion regarding his absence. "I had to go back home for some things, so I didn't make […]
  • UFC 183 Predictions & In-Depth Analysis
    UFC wraps up what has been a loaded first month of 2015, as Anderson Silva and Nick Diaz headline UFC 183, the final event for the promotion for the month of January. UFC 183 features a solid pay-per-view lineup, but for all intents and purposes, is a one-fight show in terms of true main event […]
  • Video: Anderson Silva & Nick Diaz’s UFC 183 Media Day Staredown
    At the UFC 183 media day in the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada on Thursday afternoon, Anderson Silva and Nick Diaz had their first fight-week staredown. Courtesy of the official UFC YouTube channel, above is video footage of the Silva-Diaz staredown. Silva vs. Diaz headlines this Saturday's UFC 183 pay-per-view event at the MGM […]
  • Ian McCall On Team Alpha Male: “They’re The Douchebag Frat Guys Of MMA”
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  • UFC Raises Prices Of Pay-Per-View Events
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  • Dana White Talks About Jon Jones’ Short Stay In Rehab
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  • Update: Nick Diaz Finally Arrives In Las Vegas
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  • Phil Baroni Training With Former WWE Stars To Become A Pro Wrestler
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