Posts Tagged ‘future’

 

Through the first 4 years of Marlon Moraes’s  Professional MMA career, it was hard to tell what he would become. Fast hands and a good ground game, but unable to create an impressive winning streak. Posting a respectable 7-4-1 record, but not doing much to stand out. That was until November of 2012 when Moraes stepped up and fought long time veteran Miguel Torres at the inaugural World Series of Fighting. Putting his name on the map with a split decision victory. Follow that up with one of the most devastating knockout’s in MMA history against Tyson Namm at WSOF 2, and a new star was born.

Marlon is on the verge of becoming the sports most highly touted Free Agent. The only thing standing in front of him and a potential lucrative contract, is former foe Josh Hill. Marlon is ready to do whatever it takes to get a repeat victory over Hill, “…it doesn’t matter how. It doesn’t matter what is going to have to happen. If I have to give my blood. If I have to go the 5 rounds. If I have to finish. If I have to knock somebody out. It doesn’t matter how man. I just want to sit on my couch man and see the fight. I’m the winner.”

Listen to the full interview and hear what Marlon has to say about his teammate Eddie Alvarez becoming Champion, his future with World Series of Fighting, and why he thinks Jose Aldo’s spy claims are “bullshit”. All that and more with one of the best Bantamweights in the world today.

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On an average day President of World Series of Fighting Ray Sefo sifts through dozens of e-mails, takes numerous phone calls, and sits through hours of meetings.  The e-mails from current fighters, trying to give good reason on why they should headline the companies next card. The calls, from managers trying to get their fighters a chance to compete in one of the Top 3 MMA organizations in the United States. Every day Ray is in the office, working hard, doing everything in his power to make W.S.O.F. as big as it can be. Same as Scott Coker of Bellator or Dana White of the UFC. Same as role in President, but totally different in his understanding of a fight and fighters mentality.

Before becoming President of W.S.O.F. Ray Sefo was one of the best Kickboxers in the world. Fighting the “Who’s Who” list of competitors. Big names in Kickboxing and MMA alike. From Ernesto Hoost to Mark Hunt, Ray has fought the best and at 45 years old. He may not be done yet, “…It just has to be the right fight. There is no point in me fighting a fight that doesn’t make any sense. In other words, if Cro Cops team called up and said, ‘hey would you like to have a rematch with Cro Cop?’ that makes sense to me, ya know what I mean?…”

In this exclusive interview we got to talk to Ray about everything from childhood, to fighting, to his thoughts on all of the hot button topics in MMA today. Listen and discover how Ray continues to work on his transition from one of the best fighters in the world to one of the most powerful sports presidents in the world.

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MMA fans didn’t need another reminder, but Michael “Venom” Page gave them one anyway.

On Saturday, the 29-year-old Page advanced his pro record to 11-0 with a sensational flying-knee knockout of Evangelista “Cyborg” Santos at Bellator 158.

It was Page’s 10th win by stoppage and seventh by knockout. The welterweight is 7-0 under the Bellator banner.

At the same time, Page has only faced one fighter, Nah-Shon Burrell, with UFC experience. His seven Bellator opponents combine for a pro record of 86-56-1. 

What should come next for Page? What makes sense for him and Bellator? Should he get a bump in competition or continue to face inferior foes against whom the chances of a knockout are greater?

Opinions vary. Bleacher Report MMA writers Scott Harris and Steven Rondina are here to debate and break it down.

Steven Rondina

Scott, as I’m sure you saw last night on social media—or maybe on television, if you’re a fan of tape-delayed and thoroughly spoiled sporting events—Page scored what may have been the most impressive win of his MMA career. 

Facing well-traveled veteran Santos, Page accurately predicted a takedown attempt and countered with a flying knee. Santos, who has always been a tough cookie, folded back, writhed on the mat and clutched his face. The ref declared Page the winner. A doctor subsequently declared Santos had a fractured skull from the finish (warning: graphic image).

The win, alongside the Pokemon-inspired celebration afterward, has put Page under a mainstream spotlight for the first time and raised one important question: Is MVP the most exciting fighter outside the UFC, or in all of MMA? 

What’s the answer to that, Scott?

   

Scott Harris 

He’s in the conversation. WSOF’s Justin Gaethje, ONE Championship’s Bibiano Fernandes and Bellator’s own Michael Chandler, plus several UFC fighters beside, come to mind alongside Venom. 

But Page is right up there. You can’t watch his highlight reel of flying knees and tornado kicks and reach any other conclusion. And that’s before you factor in the exuberance, even arrogance, he injects into his camera time. Those Pokemon moves weren’t a huge surprise if you recall he actually molds his fighting style after video games.

It’s more than flash too. Steven, you already mentioned the exquisitely timed knee that quite literally dented Santos’ skull. That sort of thing takes skill and it takes power. And by the way, credit Page for later tweeting his best wishes to Santos and indicating he donated money to a GoFundMe page established to help with Cyborg’s medical bills.

 

So there’s a lot to commend the Englishman for on this.

There’s just one little problem: He hasn’t beaten anybody yet.

Santos is 38 years old and had lost two of his last four fights going into Saturday’s bout with Page. And even so, he’s a big step up for the Englishman, whose recent hit list includes illustrious names such as Rudy Bears and Charlie Ontiveros. The combined UFC record of his opponents comes to 1-1, and both those fights come from Burrell. 

If Bellator wants to continue to rise Page’s star, they have to get him better opponents. Steven, your thoughts?

   

Rondina

I wholeheartedly disagree with the complaints of how Bellator has handled Page—no offense to you personally, but it’s just been a major part of the discussion with him for years. Ever since MVP went viral back in 2012 with that tornado kick KO, he’s been subject to the normal questions about how he’d do against a wrestler and what’d happen against somebody who doesn’t just stand there.

Your question is, “can Page’s star continue to grow exclusively from crushing tomato cans?” And the answer is, “of course it can.” I’ll pitch a few examples. 

Who’s a bigger name among MMA fans: Page or Albert Tumenov? Whom do MMA fans care more about? Which fighter do MMA fans want to see more of? The answer to all those is Page. And not by a little.

Tumenov is an exceptionally skilled fighter with some impressive wins over stiff competition, but which scenario is more likely to make a fighter a star? A split-decision win over Lorenz Larkin and a loss to Gunnar Nelson, or nailing a WWE-era Ken Shamrock-style toehold and crushing a dude’s skull? I’d bet you cash money it’s the latter.

There are so many fighters who are technically solid and have wins over “somebody” fans couldn’t pick out of a police lineup. If anything, the UFC should be taking notes on how Bellator has handled Page when it comes to making a star.

    

Harris

As MMA fans, we should give ourselves a little credit. While we’re at it, let’s give some to Page too.

Bellator positions itself as a fun alternative to the UFC. Its leaders don’t have the roster depth they’d need to compete with the big league on a fight-for-fight basis. So they get creative with things such as aging legends and theatrics and mismatches. This approach is fine, but it’s also playing with fire. 

Other concerns aside, if you lose credibility, it’s awfully hard to get back. If Bellator doesn’t advance the plot of this unscripted reality show by moving Page up the ladder, the company moves itself and Page a little closer to stagnation and delegitimization.

Fans can smell that from a mile away. If a star beats the same jobber over and over again, is he a star? Comparing Page to Tumenov is apples to oranges. The UFC isn’t pushing Tumenov like Bellator is pushing Page because it doesn’t need to. All the tornado kicks in the world couldn’t pull you out of the UFC’s welterweight crowd, especially if, like Tumenov, you don’t speak fluent English. He’s not exactly on even marketing ground with Page.

A loss would be bad for Page, too, just as it was a few months ago for Tumenov. But if Page keeps waxing no-names with nothing on the line, fans will lose interest and drift away. Page’s mystique will lose its traction. The window will close on what is, in Page, Bellator’s best chance to cultivate a bona fide star outside of a UFC context. None of those things would be good for business.

After Saturday’s fight, Bellator matchmaker Rich Chou tweeted he was getting a lot of interest from other welterweights on the roster. The brains trust could make several matchups that deliver—bear with me now—excitement and high stakes. Chidi Njokuani. Saad Awad. Brennan Ward. Paul Daley.

Any of those guys would be a substantial step up in competition. Should Bellator be afraid to match Page up with any of them? Should fans? Should Page?

Who knows? Maybe Page could even be in a main event some day. Maybe he could score one of those big knockouts in one of those contests. That sounds like a good business move to me. Hey, at the end of the day, why are you really watching?

    

Rondina

While you’re completely correct that not speaking English (or even having a thick accent) can be a major detriment to a fighter’s promotional ceiling, my point still stands. You could substitute in Rick Story circa 2011, Jake Ellenberger circa 2012 or Neil Magny circa 2016.

And that’s just in the welterweight division! Never mind all the bantamweights, featherweights and lightweights who got thrown into the deep end and forgotten about before ever hitting the main card despite being generally great fighters—here’s lookin’ at you, Bryan Caraway.

It’s easy to say fans will eventually get bored of Page stylin’ all over random bums, but I’m pretty sure people were saying that back in 2014 when he destroyed Ricky Rainey too. And let’s be straight, MVP could fight Awad at the next event and knock him out cold with a triple-axle spinning hook kick. The discussion wouldn’t change. Fans would still try and find some way to chop him down. And worse, Bellator’s already-thin welterweight division suddenly looks even thinner.
That isn’t to say Page should just crush cans forever. Page’s slow burn has served to making his eventual showdown with a seasoned competitor a must-watch affair. But I’m also not going to stop salivating over the idea of Page vs. Andrey Koreshkov if there are a couple more squashes in between.
But ultimately, why do we watch? We watch to be entertained, and Page in that circular cage has been pure excitement thus far. That counts for way more than trivialities such as wins and losses.
   
Harris

Wins and losses are just trivialities? Back away from the participation trophies, Steven.

Seriously, though, excitement does count for a lot. For me, the Page show is a little like watching repeats of a television episode. As great as it is, there are only so many times you can watch the Red Wedding before the effect wears off, no matter how big of a Game of Thrones fan one might be. Eventually, the show has to go on, and that’s where we are with Page, particularly given the low stakes involved to date. Think Red Wedding with animated gerbils.

There seems to be fundamental agreement between us on that, even if we disagree about whether it should happen in his next contest. A step up in competition, not another meaningless knockout, is what it might take to make Page a star, both inside and outside the MMA bubble. There’s no denying both things are important and carry their own risks and rewards.

In any case, Page has established himself as a compelling part of any Bellator main card on which he appears. That may have been the hardest part. It will be interesting to see whether he and those around him can establish him as something more.

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LONDON – This weekend’s Bellator 158 event has a noticeable absence following the recent death of would-be headliner Kevin “Kimbo Slice” Ferguson.

Ferguson (6-2 MMA, 2-0 BMMA), the famed heavyweight slugger who helped propel MMA to mainstream appeal with organizations such as EliteXC and the UFC, was expected to rematch James Thompson (20-16 MMA, 1-1 BMMA) in Saturday’s Bellator 158 event at The O2 in London. However, on June 6, the recent Bellator signee died at age 42 due to heart failure.

Ahead of Bellator 158, we spoke to a number of Bellator folks about Ferguson. Check out the above video as Bellator President Scott Coker and fighters Royce Gracie, Tito Ortiz, Michael Page, Paul Daley, Matt Mitrione, Oli Thompson and Douglas Lima share their memories of one of MMA’s most unique personalities. Coker event shares a story about how Ferguson was still planning future Bellator fights on the day of his death.

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Johny Hendricks is stuck.

The former UFC welterweight champion loves fighting and competing inside the Octagon.

However, after a third loss in his last four fights, coupled with issues weighing in once again, “Bigg Rigg” is questioning what’s next.

“I’ve got to take a step back and refocus,” Hendricks told the UFC’s Megan Olivi after his recent UFC 200 loss to Kelvin Gastelum. “It might be a month, two months, three months…hell, I don’t know.”

Hendricks (17-5) has fought 17 times for the UFC, going 12-5 including a decision win over Robbie Lawler that won him the belt. However, the former Oklahoma State University wrestling standout has lost to Lawler, Stephen Thompson and now Gastelum since around a win vs. Matt Brown.

“I love fighting,” he said. “To get in that Octagon makes me so happy, but to perform like (I did)…Do I still want to fight? Because (the Gastelum fight) right there shows me that I don’t.”

The post Johny Hendricks Questions His Future Following UFC 200 Loss appeared first on Fightline.com.

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After beating Mark Hunt at UFC 200, the question of whether or not Brock Lesnar would return to the UFC was inevitable.

It was the very first question asked at the post-fight press conference. His response to the question? “Brock Lesnar does what Brock Lesnar wants to do.”

Simple and straight-forward.

Lesnar is currently scheduled to take on Randy Orton at WWE’s SummerSlam on Aug. 20, but nothing is on his slate after that match. The fact still remains that Lesnar is under contract with the WWE regardless of what he wants to do following SummerSlam.

Veteran MMA and pro wrestling reporter Dave Meltzer was asked about Lesnar’s future on Twitter, and Meltzer stated matter-of-factly that Vince McMahon has to agree to terms for it to become a reality.

UFC President Dana White and McMahon agreed to terms for this encounter, and that should mean they are able to communicate and cut a deal in the future as well. Although the price will likely be steep.

But Brock Lesnar does do what Brock Lesnar wants to do. If Lesnar wants to fight in the UFC , there is great likelihood that he will fight again in the Octagon. After defeating Hunt, Lesnar is right back in the mix as a title contender. It is a gold-plated carrot dangling in front of the WWE’s “Beast Incarnate.”

Lesnar is an ultimate competitor who is willing to take the risks to challenge himself. As a true contender once again, it may be too tempting not to explore. The UFC should be preparing the canvas bags as we speak for the possibility of his next trip under the UFC banner.

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The Beast is back. 

Now we get to wonder what exactly that means.

Brock Lesnar‘s return at UFC 200, as best we know, was designed as a one-off special attraction. Who can really believe that, though? Who can accept that Lesnar waltzed back into the Octagon after nearly five years away, beat a top-10 heavyweight in Mark Hunt and will never again strap on a pair of 4XL gloves? Knowing his competitive drive, can that be enough?

It’s a hard scenario to accept, and thankfully, we don’t have to.

The one thing we learn from watching MMA is that nothing is guaranteed. Promoters change their minds, fighters age quickly, locks lose to ego. 

Nothing is guaranteed, meaning everything is negotiable now after Lesnar put his stamp on the landmark event by beating up Hunt in a unanimous decision by a trio of 29-27 scores. 

“One day at a time,” Lesnar told UFC commentator Joe Rogan after the fight when asked what the future holds for him. 

I ain’t buying it. 

If he wasn’t able to put the sport in his rearview mirror after all that time away, after a brutal illness and a second run in the WWE, how can he do it now after feeling his body respond to the challenge?

I would be shocked if this was how it ended. If he really felt his body betrayed him in his first UFC run, he’s got to want to see how far a healthy one can take him.

For now, we only know one thing for sure: Lesnar is scheduled to return to professional wrestling with an appearance at WWE’s SummerSlam in August. That’s a certainty. 

“Let’s get one thing clear,” Lesnar said in his post-fight press conference. “Brock Lesnar does what Brock Lesnar wants to do.” 

Don’t we know it. And that’s exactly why his MMA future is an open-ended question. 

For Lesnar, that somehow makes perfect sense.

He has basically been an athletic mercenary for most of his adult life, going from wrestling to football to MMA to wrestling to MMA again. 

Lesnar didn’t make this comeback for the money. By all accounts, he’s been smart with his cash and has never been big on material things. So if he felt a need to return solely to answer some abstract question, you have to wonder how he can resist answering a more concrete one, which is, just how far can he go now?

He even admitted as such.

“I believe any man could do whatever he wants when he puts his mind to it,” he said. “I’ve been out of the game five years, trained for six weeks and put a beating on Mark Hunt. I think anything’s possible, ain’t it?”

It’s not a long climb from Hunt to the top of the division. Only seven fighters stand between him and current champion Stipe Miocic. 

During his first foray into MMA, Lesnar was pretty clear in saying that he felt more comfortable in the competition of professional sports than the performance of professional entertainment. If he still feels that way, it could put him in a situation where he has to work out some kind of deal with WWE chairman and chief executive officer Vince McMahon. And if the pay-per-view does big numbers (hint: it will), UFC President Dana White will be by his side to negotiate it. 

Because Lesnar prefers to conduct his business in secrecy, we may not know any outcome until it is decided.

This latest return announcement came as a bombshell, a thunderbolt from the sky with no forewarning. It had been just over a year ago when the former UFC champion announced on ESPN that he had re-signed with WWE, and “closed the door” on a return to fighting.  

Considering his age—he will turn 39 years old on July 12—it seemed that we could take him at his word. 

But realizing it was now or never for one more chance, Lesnar had a change of heart and quietly negotiated a return that required permission from the WWE.

Fully healed from the diverticulitis that compromised his health in the midst of his UFC run, the question regarding Lesnar was whether his time on the shelf and age combined into an insurmountable issue.

If he had one thing going for him, it was that, generally, heavyweights peak later than other divisions. The UFC, for instance, doesn’t have a single top-10 heavyweight under 30 years old, and Lesnar’s opponent, Hunt, is 42.

The intrigue of the matchup came in the style clash between them. While Lesnar is a lifelong wrestler, Hunt is one of the most crushing punchers MMA has ever seen, the king of the one-punch knockouts. 

But Lesnar looked surprisingly comfortable in the standup, spending significant time on his feet with the terrifying Hunt and holding his own. 

The fight was even after two rounds, but Lesnar showed both perseverance and skill in closing out the bout with a dominant third. Although he looked tired, he got in deep on Hunt’s legs and took him down, keeping him there for the remainder of the round and feeding Hunt dozens of shots. According to FightMetric, Lesnar landed 103 strikes in the third. In the end, it was only Hunt’s legendary chin and toughness that held off a TKO result.

Any fighter will tell you that winning is addictive. To stand in the cage by yourself, succeed and bask in the adulation of the crowd is a feeling that is not replicable in any pursuit. That was Lesnar at UFC 200.

“I had a hell of a time,” he said, “but I don’t know what I’m going to do.”

I don’t know about that. His words didn’t tell the story here; everything else did. The entertainer was shelved and the athlete was out. For a lifetime, that’s what he’s been and what he’s wanted to be. And now we’re supposed to believe that just when he gets back here, he’s had enough? I ain’t buying it. The Beast is back, and I think he’s staying awhile. 

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LAS VEGAS – As one of China’s chief MMA exports, UFC welterweight Li Jingliang knows he carries a nation on his back. And while the 28-year-old is proud to wave his country’s flag, he doesn’t want to just be known as a top Asian fighter.

“I definitely love representing my country,” Jingliang told MMAjunkie. “I’m very proud to be from China. I’m a strong Chinese man, and I believe in myself. But this time, I believe I represented myself and my own style a little bit, so I’m just really happy.”

At Saturday’s The Ultimate Fighter 23 Finale, which took place at Las Vegas’ MGM Grand Garden Arena, Jingliang (11-4 MMA, 3-2 UFC) flashed real finishing power, taking opponent Anton Zafir (7-3 MMA, 0-2 UFC) to the floor in the first round of their UFC Fight Pass-streamed contest, and knocking him out with clean ground-and-pound blows.

It was just the third career knockout for “The Leech,” but with his past two UFC wins coming in that manner, Jingliang believes he’s turning a corner in his career.

“This was always the plan, and I believed from day one that I was going to knock him out,” Jingliang said.

Jingliang has struggled to gain consistency in his UFC career, alternating wins and losses in five octagon appearances. Still, Jingliang said the opportunity to take part in a historic UFC stretch gave him faith that his bosses are appreciative of his talents – and offered proof that the promotion’s other 170-pounders are certainly aware of his potential.

“I believe a lot of people already knew about me,” Jingliang said. “They were already on notice. That’s why I’m here on International Fight Week. The UFC doesn’t just pick anyone to come out here.

“I know a lot of people back home and in the UFC know who I am and know what I can do. I also have a lot of belief in myself and my confidence. I know what I’m capable of.”

With a quick victory under his belt, Jingliang said he’s looking forward to a few cold beers and some time at home with his family, including an 8-month-old daughter. But with the UFC returning to Asia in the fall, he’d certainly like to work on his next booking.

“As you can see, I didn’t really get hurt in the fight, so I’m hoping the UFC will give me a fight real soon,” Jingliang said. “I just found out recently that on Oct. 15, there’s a fight in Manila, Philippines, so I’d like to get on that fight if I can.”

Wherever he ends up next, Jingliang believes it’s time to start down a winning road. If he’s able to flash the same kind of power that ended Zafir’s night, Jingliang may very well be able to accomplish everything he intends.

“I have to thank so many people here – my coaches, my team, all the people that helped me, but also my fans who supported me,” Jingliang said. “I know a lot of people in China have been watching, and I definitely think this is going to bring things to China – and I believe really strongly that I’m going to be a champion one day.”

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Joaquim Silva

Joaquim Silva

Joaquim Silva says he’s a fan of all the changes happening in MMA of late. From USADA drug testing to earlier weigh-ins and more, the Brazilian believes the sport is heading in a more professional direction.

As a result of all these changes, Silva (8-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC), who fights Andrew Holbrook (11-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC) at The Ultimate Fighter 23 Finale, said fighters are going to be forced to adjust methods of preparation. That means being ready to compete year-round rather than setting up long and grueling training camps once fight bookings are announced.

“With the new USADA anti-doping policies, if we’re fighting on a Saturday, we’re not allowed to show up on Tuesday of fight week more than eight percent above fight weight – I think that’s great,” Silva told MMAjunkie. “It makes things fair to all of those who trained their entire lives without any illegal shortcuts. I believe this will distill the quality of the fighters so only true athletes get in, keeping everyone else out.

“I think that going forward, people won’t have three-month fight camps. Fighters will have to keep their weight low and be ready at all times.”

The Ultimate Fighter 23 Finale takes place Friday at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. The card airs on FOX Sports 1 following early prelims on UFC Fight Pass, though the bout order hasn’t been finalized.

Silva vs. Holbrook is a matchup between two undefeated fighters looking to score a second UFC win after making successful, but not particularly convincing, octagon debuts in 2015.

Silva, 27, bested Nazareno Malegarie by split decision at UFC 191 in September, while Holbrook narrowly edged Ramsey Nijem by split decision at UFC on FOX 16 in July. Silva’s goal going into the next fight is to leave with a more decisive result, and he thinks Holbrook is the perfect style match up to help make that happen.

“I come from jiu-jitsu, as does he, but I feel I’m much more versatile and complete,” Silva said. “Nowadays, I use my striking more than my ground game. I’m very comfortable on the feet.”

With a nickname like “Netto BJJ,” it is hardly surprising Silva prefers to fight on the ground, even if his striking is making progress. Holbrook has earned nine of his 11 career victories by submission, though, so it’s unlikely that he’ll be afraid to tango on the mat.

Silva embraces the challenge of a grappling battle, he said, and is ready to attack and outclass Holbrook at his biggest strength.

“My fight against Andrew will be a clash of two grapplers,” Silva said. “I’ll defend takedowns and punish him on the feet. I plan to wear him down and surprise him with my own takedowns so that I can put my superior jiu-jitsu into play.

“My jiu-jitsu is from Brazil. I have faith in my roots. I feel ours will be a very strategic bout. We’re both undefeated, but I’m very well trained. At the end of the day, I’m confident I’ll be victorious, and he’ll be tasting the bitter flavor of defeat for the first time.”

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From prospects to contenders, the following collection of fighters has started to make that move towards a world championship. But more importantly, each of the athletes below has that star quality that should keep them in the public eye for years to come. Countdown to UFC 200

Best of the best: Strikers | Entrances | Upsets | Moments | Events | KO’s
Figures that helped us get here: Hughes | Lesnar | Faber | Griffin | Tate | St-Pierre
Behind the lens – over 15 years of greatest UFC photography
Behind the lens – Photos that w … Read the Full Article Here

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