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Posts Tagged ‘future’

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) heavyweight smashing machine, Antonio Silva, continues to struggle inside the Octagon, dropping three straight and five of his last six.

That includes last weekend’s knockout loss to Roy Nelson.

Not surprisingly, Silva’s manager (via MMA Junkie) expects “Bigfoot” to receive his walking papers at some point over the next few weeks, just as he also expects the Brazilian to continue his career on the international circuit.

And one promotion in particular will be waiting with open arms.

“As always we are looking for fighters with International appeal and with great character and Bigfoot has both,” Jerry Millen, Senior Vice President of RIZIN told “He has had a difficult time in his last few outings but he is a professional and you can NEVER count out a professional.”

Those who do, often pay dearly.

“In RIZIN we want the fans to be entertained as they were in our Sept. 25th event,” Millen continued. “If Bigfoot is released and has interest in fighting in RIZIN we are always open to talking with fighters and their management.”

Silva is currently ranked No. 15 in the official UFC rankings.

The Brazilian behemoth is no stranger to Japanese combat sports, having blasted his way through a pair of K-1 “Hero’s” bouts roughly a decade ago. In addition, “Bigfoot” went 2-0 for the now-defunct Sengoku promotion.

RIZIN, under the direction former PRIDE head cheese Nobuyuki Sakakibara, returns to action with the second round of its open weight grand prix in December.

So … how about Silva vs. Fedor 2?

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After Michael Johnson knocked out Dustin Poirier in the very first round, “Menace” proceeded to stand over his fallen foe and yell at him in the main event of UFC Fight Night 94 (full video highlights here).

Granted, Johnson later apologized for his actions on national television, admitting his emotions got the better of him after the two combatants got into a heated confrontation at the pre-fight weigh in event, one which saw “Diamond” push Johnson’s head.

Nevertheless, Johnson’s actions caught the attention of fellow UFC lightweight Will Brooks — Poirier’s American Top Team (ATT) teammate — and put “Menace” on notice that he wants a piece of the “arrogant” striker down the line.

“Ill” laid down the gauntlet on a recent appearance on The MMA Hour:

“Yeah I was fired up. It sucks to see a teammate lose and in that fashion. You never want to see a teammate lose. Look, you win a fight, this is the fight business, the fight game is unforgiving at times, you will win and you will lose. Michael Johnson won and good for him; but the way he carried himself after winning by standing over Dustin and cussing him out the way he did, I feel like you never do that as a man. You always respect the other man because that guy that you just beat, he came into the gym everyday and made sacrifices, put in the time to deserve your respect and he showed up that day, stood across the cage from you and battled with you. For you to stand over him and talk to him the way you was talking, that is disrespectful. As a man, I can’t respect that. So yeah, he’s on my radar. I have come across him on other occasions and he seems like a real arrogant person and I don’t like his demeanor or his attitude. And what he did in the cage just put me over the top. So yeah. After this fight I definitely will be looking for Michael Johnson. And I will make that clear as day to everyone every chance I get.”

Brooks, though, first has to get through Alex Oliveira, who he will meet in the center of the Octagon at UFC Fight Night 96 (details here), which goes down this Saturday (Oct. 1, 2016) in Portland, Oregon.

Should he get the win, the former Bellator MMA Lightweight champion wants his chance to not only avenge his teammates loss, but teach Johnson some respect in the process.

“Menace,” though, has a different type of revenge on his mind.

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The problem with CM Punk was he’d never done this before.

Well, that was one problem.

Among the many other things hampering Phil Brooks during his MMA debut at UFC 203 this month was the fact the former professional wrestler was making his first foray into competitive sports at nearly 38 years old.

From the footage we’d seen of him leading up to his highly publicized fight against Mickey Gall, he didn’t look like a particularly gifted natural athlete, either.

But mostly it was the sheer naivete that did him in.

You could see it in the sloppy right hand Punk tried to throw during the opening seconds of their welterweight fight and the ease with which Gall ducked under it for a takedown before the strike even got halfway to its target.

You could see it in the “Oh No!” face Punk made when he realized Gall was taking him down.

And yes, you could see it in the way Punk then floundered around on the ground, accepting punches from all angles before Gall forced him to tap with a rear-naked choke two minutes, 14 seconds into the first round.

None of this was a surprise to the people who’d been paying attention.

Punk wasn’t signed and immediately booked into a UFC pay-per-view bout because he was expected to win—or even do well. His signing was merely the latest out-of-the-box promotional move by an increasingly profit-minded company amid a free-agent market that has sneakily gotten more and more competitive over the last few years.

Punk came, he saw and was conquered. All indications are that the now 0-1 MMA rookie will live to fight another day in the UFC.

The real question is: Will this sort of thing become a trend? Will the wave of the future in the UFC and across the MMA industry be—gasp—inexperience?

Roughly 24 hours after Punk implored the kids at home never to give up on their dreams during his classy but beat-up postfight interview, decorated amateur wrestler Kyle Snyder tweeted that he wants to be next:

Snyder, an Olympic gold medalist and NCAA champ currently in his junior year at Ohio State, was ringside at UFC 203 in Cleveland. Apparently, he was pretty impressed with the show. So impressed, he wants in—like—right away.

The 225-pound Snyder told Fox Sports’ Damon Martin he thinks he could make a go of it as a professional fighter while simultaneously pursuing his dream of winning a second gold at the Olympics in 2020.

“[The UFC] put on a great show, it’s really exciting,” Snyder said. “I think it’s something that I could excel in. I haven’t done much boxing or jiu-jitsu or striking or stuff like that but I think that I could pick it up pretty quickly.”

Let’s be clear: Punk and Snyder are obviously members of two very different species of fighters.

Snyder’s elite wrestling background would make him an immediate blue-chip prospect, perhaps a future champion in either the light heavyweight or heavyweight divisions. Yet, if he were indeed to ink a deal with the UFC, he’d be entering the highest level of MMA just as Punk did: At 0-0.

He’d be cutting the line, so to speak.

Since Snyder’s first move was to tweet his intentions to enter MMA directly at the UFC, it appears he’d want to go straight from the wrestling mat to the Octagon. He might well have the chops to do it, too, but such a direct path would eschew the more traditional maturation process of getting at least a few fights under his belt on the independent circuit.

For a guy of his caliber, that would be unorthodox but certainly not unprecedented.

Brock Lesnar came to the UFC on the strength of his own NCAA wrestling championship and exactly one previous MMA fight. It didn’t hurt, either, that Lesnar enjoyed the double-whammy of also being a popular WWE superstar before crossing the aisle.

It seemed to work out OK for the enormous South Dakota native, as Lesnar won the UFC heavyweight championship in his fourth pro fight. He also nearly instantaneously became one of the fight company’s biggest-ever pay-per-view draws.

Yet it’s worth wondering if Lesnar would have had even more success in the cage had he been allowed to evolve like a normal up-and-comer. As it stood, his wrestling prowess and natural athleticism carried him farther than one might have imagined.

Still, by the time he fought guys like Shane Carwin, Cain Velasquez and Alistair Overeem, it was clear Lesnar’s all-around MMA skills lagged behind the best of his peers. His striking never had the chance to catch up with his grappling, and even when he returned for a comeback fight against Mark Hunt at UFC 200, he was still a liability on his feet.

For a guy like Snyder, the same phenomenon might turn out to be true. Certainly a neophyte like Punk would’ve had more opportunity for success had he started small and worked his way up, instead of being dropped directly into the Octagon.

There’s a reason such a trajectory has historically been rare, after all. The UFC has always been something to aspire to for young fighters. Depending on the depth of talent in their weight class, people might have to scrap their way through six, 10 or even 20 bouts before finally scoring their sought-after UFC contracts.

Fighters like Matt Mitrione and Amir Sadollah—who each made their professional debuts in the UFC after stints on The Ultimate Fighter—were an extreme rarity.

It’s possible, however, that’s starting to change ever slightly. More and more, the UFC and its main competitors at Bellator MMA appear to be snapping up potential talents and promotable personalities as early as possible.

Perhaps for no other reason than so the competition can’t land them.

To that point: Veteran MMA and pro wrestling reporter Dave Meltzer has publicly mentioned that Bellator had also expressed interest in Punk. Had the UFC not signed him, Bellator may well have done it. So perhaps once Punk decided he was making the jump to MMA, there was no way to avoid the sad spectacle of his debut happening before a large audience.

Maybe it was just a matter of determining which platform would carry it.

Regarding Snyder’s future, it’s also worth mentioning that the UFC already has another Olympic medalist—Russia’s Bilyal Makhov—under contract.

The 29-year-old heavyweight won the bronze in freestyle wrestling in 2012 to go along with his three world championships and signed with the UFC in September 2015. Makhov still has not made his professional MMA debut, but when he does, he’ll immediately become someone to watch in the puddle-shallow 265-pound division.

“To conquer this new mountain called UFC will give me new emotions, new feelings, new challenges—kind of like a rebirth and start everything from zero,” Makhov told’s Jorge A. Moncada at the time of his signing. “This is what I want to get out of it. I want to get that feeling of rebirth and start all over again.”

Bellator too has been actively scouting for unproven but potentially elite talent. As America’s second-largest MMA promoter, company CEO Scott Coker has arguably had to be even more aggressive in his efforts to lock up prospects before they become established MMA stars.

Perhaps Coker’s biggest splash came in November 2014, when he signed wrestling wunderkind and former Golden Gloves champion Aaron Pico to a long-term deal just a month after Pico turned 18. At the time of the signing, Coker said Pico had “all the makings of MMA’s next great superstar,” via MMA’s Luke Thomas.

Two years later, he has yet to fight for Bellator but remains a member of the highly regarded American Kickboxing Academy and just missed qualifying for the 2016 Olympics in wrestling. When he does debut, Pico is expected to be a featherweight.

In 2015, Bellator also signed standout wrestlers and MMA hopefuls Ed Ruth and Tyrell Fortune. In 2016, the fight company added the likes of Jarod Trice and Joey Davis.

So far, only Davis has fought for Bellator—scoring a unanimous-decision victory in his welterweight debut in August—but their presence on the roster alone raises interesting possibilities for the future of a company that sometimes seems as though it will do anything to make a splash.

Make no mistake, however, any time a top-ranked MMA promotion takes on an athlete with zero fights, it’s most likely going to turn into a long-term undertaking. After the UFC signed Punk in December 2014, for example, he took nearly two years to try to make himself Octagon-ready.

Even then, and after an injury had delayed his eventual bout with Gall, he looked woefully unprepared.

In the big picture, though, perhaps this is the next natural development for the MMA market.

Maybe it’s just one iteration of a newly competitive industry, where talent is at premium. If not a full-scale shift, it at least represents a developing willingness to take on projects rather than market-ready commodities.

Another thing competition might breed among fight promoters is desperation. As we forge into MMA’s uncertain future, it’s highly possible that spectacles like Punk and legitimate prospects like Snyder begin making earlier and earlier appearances on the big stage.

Will that negatively affect the product?

Will it positively affect the bottom line?

Only time will tell.

It’s possible, however, that fans should get used to seeing more inexperienced fighters mixed in with the usual seasoned pros at the sport’s top level.

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Hear from Cain Velasquez as he sits down with Daniel Cormier on “UFC Tonight” to discuss his future.

The post Cain Velasquez Talks His Future On “UFC Tonight” With Daniel Cormier appeared first on

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Urijah Faber doesn’t appears to be stressing too hard about being on the first two-fight losing skid of his career after dropping a unanimous decision to Jimmie Rivera at UFC 203.

The bantamweight fight, which Faber (33-10 MMA, 9-6 UFC) lost to Rivera (20-1 MMA, 4-0 UFC) by 30-27 scorecards across the board at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, marked a crucial point for “The California Kid.” Not only did he drop back-to-back fights for the first time, but he was also beaten in a non-title fight at 135 pounds, another first.

Although that could be a cause for panic in some cases, Faber unsurprisingly took his current situation in stride. That might have been made easier considering his previous loss was a unanimous decision to current UFC champ Dominick Cruz at UFC 199 in June.

Faber came back to action fairly quickly after losing to Cruz earlier in the summer, and that may have played a role in the fight with Rivera. The back-to-back weight cuts were physically challenging, he said, but he wasn’t willing to use that as a direct excuse.

Nevertheless, at 37, Faber is at a curious stage in his career, but he said no decisions have been made in regards to what comes next, so it could anything from another fight soon to retirement.

“I don’t know (what’s next),” Faber told after his loss. “I’m going to go back and relax. This week I came and I was doing my water load and I cut 21 pounds since Tuesday, so that was kind of rough. I’m going to take some time and think about things and watch the fight and see what happens after that. I’ve got no plans.”

Faber didn’t have a whole lot to offer Rivera in the bout. All his takedown attempts were denied and Rivera chewed him up from the outside with leg kicks and punching combinations. The kicks were the most devastating aspect of the fight, though, because Rivera had Faber on wobbly legs on more than one occasion.

That prevented Faber from finding any kind of offensive groove, and he admits it cost him.

“He caught me with a low ankle kick that kind of made my leg go numb for a second for whatever reason,” Faber said on UFC 203’s post-fight show on FS2. “He’s tough. He’s a solid guy. I got my arms on him a couple times and he’s like a slippery barrel. Just round.

“I was going to definitely look for some openings on scrambles and stuff like that, but you get yourself in danger when you’re just hunting for a takedown,” he continued. “I was definitely looking for opportunities to take it to the ground if I could, but he was so compact and small to find any openings for a lot of stuff. There wasn’t as many opportunities.”

Faber’s career has been Hall of Fame worthy, but the loss to Rivera could be taken as a sign. Not to take anything away from “El Terror,” who has won 19 consecutive MMA fights including four in a row under the UFC banner, but dating back to 2005, Faber hasn’t lost to anyone that hans’t held a UFC or WEC championship belt at some point in their career.

Rivera doesn’t fit into that description, so it’s possible Faber could start to comtemplate whether he’s beginning to regress. Or maybe not.

“I would have like to get the W but I just couldn’t find some openings today,” Faber said. “So it is what it is.”

For complete coverage of UFC 203, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

Filed under: News, UFC

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HAMBURG, Germany – After notching a second consecutive UFC win in an old-school fight against fellow ex-champ Andrei Arlovski, Josh Barnett plans to take his career one fight at a time rather than push for a title shot.

“I think of just being able to perform at my best at any given moment and completely living in that immediate now,” Barnett told MMAjunkie after his third-round submission of Arlovski at UFC Fight Night 93, which took place at Barclaycard Arena in Hamburg, Germany, and streamed on UFC Fight Pass. “At this point, guys like me and Andrei, we’ve already won belts. There’s a slew of guys out there like us in the heavyweight division that have already proven we’re capable of being the world champion, anywhere you put us, and we’re always ready to take the challenge. And it’s always acceptable for us to be in the title fights.”

Saturday’s fight wasn’t a title fight, of course, but it might have been 10 years ago when the former UFC champs were at the top of the sport. Now in their late 30s, both fighters are closer to retirement than their peak, though they haven’t dropped out of the rankings – Barnett (35-8 MMA, 7-3 UFC) sits at No. 10 in the USA TODAY Sports MMA heavyweight rankings despite losses to Travis Browne and Ben Rothwell, while Arlovski (25-13 MMA, 14-7 UFC) is No. 6.

Barnett defended the Belarusian fighter, who’s now lost three straight, and said they’re part of an elite band of veteran heavyweights who are never far from getting a title shot.

“If (Alistair) Overeem got injured (prior to next week’s title fight against champ Stipe Miocic), Andrei or myself, there are some of us that can slide right in and fight in that match, and that’s completely legitimate,” Barnett said. “But the biggest thing we can control are the performances that lie in front of us, one at a time, and I’m sure a heavyweight championship fight could be in the future. But right now, all I was concerned with was fighting Andrei, taking him very seriously, and doing what I could to come out on top, and going from there.”

It wasn’t an easy trip to the victory lap, with Arlovski landing big shots in the first round. Both fighters were staggered with punches early, though Barnett claims he was no worse for the wear.

“I was never hurt in the fight,” he said. “That’s more due to having either an abnormally thick skull or very little brain matter to be damaged in the first place. I think if you look at the library of fights I’ve had, I’ve taken pretty much the best shots from the hardest strikers, and still stood in front of people. So taking a hard punch is not a big deal.”

Taking a finger to the eye is a different matter, of course. Prior to a winning grappling exchange in which he secured a rear-naked choke, Barnett was fouled and turned away from Arlovski, who gave chase and smacked him with another punch when the referee didn’t intervene. Despite the unlawful turn of events, Barnett said he doesn’t hold his opponent at fault.

“No, that’s his job,” he said. “The ref doesn’t tell you to stop, you’re not supposed to stop. (Arlovski’s) job is not to go out there and be my best friend; this isn’t the best-friend-making competition – this is the Ultimate Fighting Championship. I hold no grudges against him. He was grabbing the inside of my glove, too. Blatantly illegal. Don’t hold any grudges about it, in the least. Only disappointed I didn’t do it first.”

Maybe that’s part of being a veteran – sharing in all the tricks of the trade.

View full post on News | MMAjunkie

Josh Barnett was rocked early in the opening round against Andrei Arlovski in the main event of UFC Fight Night “Arlovski vs. Barnett” in Hamburg, Germany, on Saturday, but the former Ultimate Fighting Championship heavyweight champion’s resilience paid off.

The post Josh Barnett Thinks ‘Heavyweight Championship Could Be in the Future’ appeared first on

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Cristiane Justino and the UFC have recently been able to call a truce in a long-standing tug-of-war.

Achieving this delicate balance, however, took some compromise on both ends. While “Cyborg” was given a pay-per-view slot in front of her home crowd, she did have to step out of her original division to make a 140-pound catchweight limit in order to meet (and quickly beat) Leslie Smith at the star-studded UFC 198.

Now, scheduled for yet another home country scrap – this time as a headliner – Justino will once again make the weight descent. While that’s a sacrifice she is willing to make, the Invicta FC featherweight champion is still missing something.

And this one’s not on the UFC.

“I want to do catchweight bouts, but I wanted to fight top-10 girls,” Cyborg said. “I think the UFC is having problems making fights with girls like Holly Holm, Miesha Tate, Ronda (Rousey), the 135-pound girls.

“I don’t think it’s the UFC that doesn’t want it, I think it’s the athlete. You can’t force athletes to challenge themselves. You need to take the challenges yourself. I do that. Recently I fought a muay Thai champion. She had 40 fights and I had three. And I took it. So I think it’s up to the athlete. I don’t see things as win or lose, I think it’s about putting on a great fight, and people thinking of me as a girl who put on a great fight. I think you can’t put that on someone’s heart.

“I think the motivation is lacking a bit.”

One woman who did take the challenge was UFC newcomer Lina Lansberg (6-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC), who, like Justino’s (16-1 MMA, 1-0 UFC) previous opponent, is moving up from her 135-pound division. The two will headline UFC Fight Night 95 on Sept. 24 at Nilson Nelson Gymnasium in Brasilia, Brazil. The bout tops the FS1-televised lineup after early prelims on UFC Fight Pass.

Meeting opponents halfway, however, hasn’t stopped “Cyborg” from publicly calling for the creation of her original 145-pound division in the UFC. The prevailing argument against the idea, Justino says, is that there just aren’t enough women to fill up a class – to which she replies once the doors are open, competition will start walking in.

While that issue remains unsolved, Justino’s octagon future seems to be as much as a question mark for her as it is for the rest of us.

“I believe the argument is always that there aren’t enough opponents,” Justino said. “I believe they think I can go to 135. I’m working with my team, doing my best and making 140. But my health comes first. Regardless, I want to be there and put on good fights – not just go (into) the octagon. I want to fight like Cris ‘Cyborg’ fights. I don’t want to go in there and be a mummy.

“So it depends on me continuing to do my job. They liked my last fight, my debut, and are giving me an opportunity to do a main event in Brasilia. And I’m certainly going to give it my best now, do a good job, and I’m sure a lot of fruits will come from this fight.”

But, just to be clear, can we even entertain thoughts of having Justino on the 135-pound roster?

“No, just my division and superfights,” Justino said. “I’m not going to say ‘impossible,’ but I’m always going at my limit. For every fight, I go to the doctor, take a test, make sure everything is OK. I take it one step at a time, so let’s take this first step at 140.”

And this first step, Justino clarifies, was already a big one to take. After a recently released backstage video showed a visibly distraught “Cyborg” trying to beat the scale prior to her UFC debut, the Invicta FC champion said it took her a long period of planning just to be able to even get that far.

“I’d actually been dieting for two years to make bantamweight,” Cyborg said. “And I said I could do 140, but not bantam. There was the opportunity to fight at UFC 198, in Curitiba. 140 was hard for me. My weight is already hard, I’ll usually walk around at 175 pounds, around 77 kilos, but I thought nothing is impossible and I thought it was so special that it was in Curitiba, in my hometown in Brasil, that I thought I had to try and give it my all.”

As for a much-repeated argument that cutting down on muscle mass would help with shrinking her frame, Justino is in agreement. The thing is, she says, that has already been done

“I’ve cut a lot (of muscle mass),” Justino said. “In two years, I cut a lot. If you’d met me before, if you see pictures of me between fights, I’ve already lost a lot of muscle mass and we did extensive work. Because when you lose muscle mass, you lose strength. So you need to do extensive work, which we’ve been doing for two and a half years, so as not so lose strength, just the mass. We’re trying, we’re working.”

Whatever happens in the next few months, Justino’s mind is now on Lina Lansberg – who, in spite of the somewhat modest MMA record, has been in more than 80 muay Thai scraps and doesn’t seem the least bit intimidated by the competition.

When it comes to that part of her future, however, “Cyborg” can actually point to more palpable plans.

“I’m going to look for the knockout at all times,” Justino said. “That’s my game. I’m not going to tell you that I’m going for the takedown and the submission, because everyone knows knockouts are what I like. And I hope my opponent has the same focus so we can put on a great fight for the fans.”

View full post on News | MMAjunkie

Helen Maroulis is open to transitioning from wrestling to MMA, but only after she fulfills the rest of her Olympic dreams.

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A fighters union for mixed martial artists has been a hot-button topic lately, and last week a new group formed hoping to further that agenda in the UFC.

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