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Posts Tagged ‘Greatest’

Every caveat, every jinx protection applies.

But it must be said. Barring injuries or failed drug tests or spilled salt or one open umbrella too many inside UFC headquarters, UFC 205, the first UFC event to take place in New York City, is the greatest collection of talent and matchups that anyone in the history of mixed martial arts has ever assembled. And it’s not even particularly close.

“This is the biggest card we’ve ever done,” UFC President Dana White said at the UFC 205 news conference Tuesday. “This is the best all-around fight card in UFC history.”

It isn’t possible to argue with White this time.

Maybe it was Tuesday morning when you realized this card had been bitten by a radioactive spider and morphed into the MMA card that ate New York. That was when White announced on Boomer & Carton that native New Yorker and former middleweight champ Chris Weidman would face fellow top contender Yoel Romero—and quite possibly do so on the evening’s undercard.

Maybe it came Tuesday night, when 23-0 lightweight phenom Khabib Nurmagomedov was plugged into the card against the hard-charging Michael Johnson. Again, a bout that could probably headline a cable TV card will be likely be relegated to prelim duty November 12 in Madison Square Garden.

Plenty of fans certainly felt a sudden lightning bolt Monday night when, amid some grousing about the card’s tepidity, word burst onto social media that Conor McGregor, the UFC featherweight champ and the unquestioned king of all he cares to survey in the game of MMA, will face Eddie Alvarez for the lightweight title. A win would make him the first fighter to simultaneously hold two UFC titles.

With McGregor (20-3) as the de facto face of the card, you have a charismatic and gregarious personality whose mere existence in front of cameras and behind microphones will help to move quite a few metaphorical units.

That makes three title fights for UFC 205—itself a virtually unprecedented number. (UFC 33 back in 2001 also contained three title bouts.) McGregor and Alvarez join strawweight champ Joanna Jedrzejczyk, who defends her title against Karolina Kowalkiewicz, and welterweight belt-holder Tyron Woodley, who fights kickboxing dynamo Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson, as the evening’s championship bouts.

Factoring in McGregor‘s featherweight strap, you have four reigning champs on this card. Throw in Weidman, New Jerseyite Frankie Edgar, Miesha Tate and Rashad Evans, that’s a whopping eight current or former title holders scheduled for action.

And this is to say nothing of talented and popular competitors such as Donald Cerrone, Jeremy Stephens, Thiago Alves, Tim Boetsch, Jim Miller and Tim Kennedy rounding out the card as if they were mere ham-n-eggers.

Perhaps that’s why Forbes magazine predicted Tuesday that UFC 205 would break various company records—and that came before the Weidman and Nurmagomedov bouts were announced.

“First, UFC 205 should be able to set a new [record] for live gate, or money generated by the venue,” wrote Forbes‘ Matt Connolly. “Can 205 also become the promotion’s new pay-per-view king? This victory is less decisive, but well within reach.”

With prices for some tickets already well-ensconced in the quadruple digits for 18,200-seat MSG, a new UFC record for gate—currently $10.1 for UFC 129, held in 2011 in Toronto, according to UFC stats (via CBSSports.com’s Robby Kalland)—seems doable. The second-highest live gate in UFC history, by the way, came last December at UFC 194, which was headlined by McGregor knocking out Jose Aldo for the featherweight title.

UFC’s current pay-per-view record may be a bit more daunting but appears more attainable when considering that the current record, according to MMA business site MMA Manifesto, of an estimated 1.65 million buys was set just a month ago in large part by—you guessed it—McGregor. UFC 202, featuring McGregor‘s rematch with Nate Diaz, set the new record after UFC 100 and its 1.6 million buys held the record for seven years.

Now, none of this is to say there aren’t concerns. As McGregor chases dual-belt glory, the featherweight division languishes on the sidelines. Top fighters like Max Holloway are forced to spin their wheels. Former champ Jose Aldo, frustrated by the inaction, went so far Tuesday as to request his UFC release, according to Brazilian website Combate (h/t Guilherme Cruz of MMA Fighting).

There is also the wider notion that the UFC is chasing money here, rather than rewarding those who have worked their way to a title shot. As McGregor, who has never fought as a lightweight in the UFC, cuts the line in the name of making a big splash in the Big Apple, fighters who are more deserving on paper, such as Nurmagomedov, receive matches that are below what they feel they’ve rightfully earned.

That’s unfortunately, but fans who worry about “deserve” may be looking a gift horse in the mouth. Hopefully every fighter ultimately has a chance to reap what he or she has sewn, but this is a business, and by any metric, this card will be quite a thing to witness. MMA fans should let themselves be excited for and enjoy UFC 205 for what it is, which is, simply, the best.

Here’s hoping the MMA gods keep the black cats out of its way.

For reference, here’s the full lineup as currently scheduled for UFC 205:

  • Conor McGregor vs. Eddie Alvarez (for lightweight title)
  • Tyron Woodley vs. Stephen Thompson (for welterweight title)
  • Joanna Jedrzejczyk vs. Karolina Kowalkiewicz (for strawweight title)
  • Chris Weidman vs. Yoel Romero
  • Donald Cerrone vs. Kelvin Gastelum
  • Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Michael Johnson
  • Miesha Tate vs. Raquel Pennington
  • Frankie Edgar vs. Jeremy Stephens
  • Tim Kennedy vs. Rashad Evans
  • Tim Boetsch vs. Rafael Natal
  • Jim Miller vs. Thiago Alves
  • Lyman Good vs. Belal Muhammad
  • Liz Carmouche vs. Katlyn Chookagian

     

Scott Harris writes about MMA for Bleacher Report. For more stuff like this, follow Scott on Twitter.

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With a Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) heavyweight title shot opposite Stipe Miocic at UFC 203 on Sept. 10 staring him in the face, mixed martial arts (MMA) mainstay Alistair Overeem will have the opportunity to forever solidify his legacy in the sport.

Unlike Overeem, who currently competes in the best promotion in the world, MMA legend Fedor Emelianenko has never fought in UFC. According to “The Reem” during UFC 203’s media lunch earlier this week (transcribed by MMA Fighting), “The Last Emperor” shouldn’t be considered the greatest heavyweight of all time because of that reason only.

“He’s a friend of mine,” said Overeem. “I like him as a person. I never had anything negative with him, even when we were supposed to fight and he declined. But at the time that he could test himself — and he had several occasions — he turned down the UFC. And the UFC is where the competition is at. He declined to do that.”

Emelianenko, 39, is widely considered one of the best fighters to ever compete by going undefeated under Pride rule from 2002-2006. However, his return to MMA hasn’t been all that impressive over the past few years.

“I think he messed it up with Strikeforce and he totally messed it up in coming back,” added Overeem. “He fought Maldonado, Maldonado is a light heavyweight. Fedor is a heavyweight. And he actually lost that fight, right?”

While Overeem may be right that Emelianenko’s return to the sport hasn’t gone the way many people may have thought, the Russian heavyweight has certainly done enough to be called the greatest of his kind. Overeem is probably better off spending his time gameplanning for Miocic.

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After what’s been “the worst run” of her career, UFC bantamweight Jessica Eye is optimistic about her upcoming home state challenge.

Set to face Bethe Correia (11-5 MMA, 1-4 UFC) in the same card as friend and teammate Stipe Miocic at UFC 203 in Cleveland, Ohio, a “pumped” Eye (11-5 MMA, 1-4 UFC) went into detail about important additions to her fight preparation.

“After my lackluster performance against Sara McMann, who was a friend of mine and I think that kind of screwed up my ability to fight the way that I needed to,” Eye told MMAjunkie Radio. “I went to a sports psychologist because I knew the Cleveland card was coming, I knew they were going to want me on it. I’m a huge star here along with Stipe, Cleveland adores both of us so much.

“I started seeing a sports psychologist. Probably the greatest decision I’ve ever made in my life and I wish I’d done it sooner.”

Eye and Correia meet on the featured FS1 prelim of UFC 203, which takes place Sept. 10 at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. The main card airs on pay-per-view following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass. In the main event, heavyweight champ Miocic looks to defend his title for the first time, against Alistair Overeem.

With only one win in her previous five octagon outings, Eye knows her moment is not particularly favorable. But, taking the home state advantage into account, the bantamweight believes the conditions are perfect for a career turnaround.

“I get to bring myself back on track in the place that started with me,” Eye said. “The place that made me realize I wanted to fight and showed me that I had an impact. I’m pumped, it’s going to be amazing, I’m so excited for Cleveland. We’ve been waiting such a long time just for some of the attention we’ve been getting, between the Monsters, the Cavs, even the Republican convention which brought so much to our city.

“Now the UFC is finally coming here, and during the warmer season, which is awesome, because people would hate it if they came in the cold time. It’s just awesome, I can’t wait for people to see why we love Cleveland so much and why it’s so electric and why I can’t wait just fight here and just pound the crap out of Bethe in my home town and just get back on track.“

Fighting on the same card as a close friend can be mentally tricky. But, in this particular case, Eye sees no added nerves in stepping into the octagon only four fights before Miocic. In fact, with the corner logistics figured out, she believes being there will actually help.

“We’re splitting the corners up in a way that we know will work for the both of us,” Eye said. “And to be honest, I don’t think Stipe is nervous for me and I’m not nervous for him. We’ve fought in Cleveland – I probably fought in Cleveland 15 times.

“You know, I feel like I’m less nervous because I’ll be right there. These other times I’m not in the back, I don’t get to see him fight there, I don’t get to see him weigh in there, you know he’s out of town and I’m here. I just feel like there’s no nervousness about it this time, it’s weird.”

View full post on News | MMAjunkie

 

LOS ANGELES – Should he prove victorious at UFC 203, Alistair Overeem might have a real case for being considered the greatest heavyweight combat sports athlete of all time. In the meantime, “The Demolition Man” admits he doesn’t consider two other names often thrown into the discussion of “greatest MMA fighter of all time” as truly deserving.

Champions.co attended a Monday media session with Overeem (41-14 MMA, 6-3 UFC) ahead of his shot at current UFC heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic (15-2 MMA, 9-2 UFC) at UFC 203, and “The Demolition Man” gave his thoughts on some of the best heavyweights to ever compete in MMA – including where he might rank with a win.

“The UFC is the one big one left, and it truly is the biggest one that’s worldwide,” Overeem said. “Everywhere I go, I get recognition. I get recognized. UFC truly is the elite, and it is the only one missing. So, the last belt, Sept. 10 w’ere going to get it, and we’re going write history.”

UFC 203 takes place Sept. 10 at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. The evening’s main card airs on pay-per-view.

At 36, Overeem is an incredibly accomplished martial artist who boasts heavyweight titles in both Strikeforce and DREAM, not to mention a kickboxing crown as a K-1 world grand prix champion.

Overeem is deserving of a mention in the discussion of the best heavyweight fighters in history, and while he insists he doesn’t worry too much about his slot in history, he recognizes his accomplishments are meaningful.

“It’s been a long career,” Overeem said. “Twenty-two years of training and competing, and we beat Vitor (Belfort), we beat Badr (Hari), we beat Peter (Aerts). We beat all these names. We’ve got six UFC champions. Pretty proud of that, too. Stipe would make a great No. 7.

“But yeah, we’re just focused on work. We’re not really enjoying it. Why would you? Let’s just get this over with, and then we’ll take some time enjoy it after.”

So while he’s not certain of his own place in history, Overeem is certain that Fedor Emelianenko and Fabricio Werdum, two names sometimes brought up in those discussions, don’t belong at the top of the list. Here why in the video above from our partners at Champions.co.

View full post on News | MMAjunkie

LOS ANGELES – Should he prove victorious at UFC 203, Alistair Overeem might have a real case for being considered the greatest heavyweight combat sports athlete of all time. In the meantime, “The Demolition Man” admits he doesn’t consider two other names often thrown into the discussion of “greatest MMA fighter of all time” as truly deserving.

Champions.co attended a Monday media session with Overeem (41-14 MMA, 6-3 UFC) ahead of his shot at current UFC heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic (15-2 MMA, 9-2 UFC) at UFC 203, and “The Demolition Man” gave his thoughts on some of the best heavyweights to ever compete in MMA – including where he might rank with a win.

“The UFC is the one big one left, and it truly is the biggest one that’s worldwide,” Overeem said. “Everywhere I go, I get recognition. I get recognized. UFC truly is the elite, and it is the only one missing. So, the last belt, Sept. 10 w’ere going to get it, and we’re going write history.”

UFC 203 takes place Sept. 10 at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. The evening’s main card airs on pay-per-view.

At 36, Overeem is an incredibly accomplished martial artist who boasts a grand prix title win in PRIDE, as well as heavyweight titles in both Strikeforce and DREAM, not to mention a kickboxing crown as a K-1 World Grand Prix champion.

Overeem is deserving of a mention in the discussion of the best heavyweight fighters in history, and while he insists he doesn’t worry too much about his slot in history, he recognizes his accomplishments are meaningful.

“It’s been a long career,” Overeem said. “Twenty-two years of training and competing, and we beat Vitor (Belfort), we beat Badr (Hari), we beat Peter (Aerts). We beat all these names. We’ve got six UFC champions. Pretty proud of that, too. Stipe would make a great No. 7.

“But yeah, we’re just focused on work. We’re not really enjoying it. Why would you? Let’s just get this over with, and then we’ll take some time enjoy it after.”

So while he’s not certain of his own place in history, Overeem is certain that Fedor Emelianenko and Fabricio Werdum, two names sometimes brought up in those discussions, don’t belong at the top of the list. Here why in the video above from our partners at Champions.co.

View full post on News | MMAjunkie

In most sports, the debate over who is the greatest of all time is sort of a static one.

Sure, there’s plenty of room for disagreement, but the overall parameters of the discussion are mostly set. In a well-established mainstream pastime like baseball, for example, you’ve got your handful of perennial candidates—Ruth, Bonds, Mantle, Mays, etc.—and that’s about it. You keep the door open for Mike Trout or Bryce Harper, but most of the guys under consideration are longstanding legends.

In a fledgling sport like MMA? Things are a little bit different.

For starters, the sport is still so new that debating the GOAT must be taken with a grain of salt. It’s not like there is a huge pool of applicants or decades of history to sort through. For another thing, many of the people who are making their cases as the best ever are still active—so their resumes continue to unfold before our very eyes, both for better and worse.

Anderson Silva, for example, once the consensus pick for GOAT status, may have undermined his candidacy after putting up an 0-4-1 record since the dawn of 2013. His one win during that time, over Nick Diaz at UFC 183, was overturned after Silva failed a drug test.

Likewise, Fedor Emelianenko’s claim to the throne has suffered as he continues to push his flagging career into his late 30s.

Meanwhile, Jon Jones simply can’t get out of his own way, and Jose Aldo recently had his aura of invincibility shattered by Conor McGregor.

After so much turmoil during the last few years, who is the greatest MMA fighter of all time?

We’re glad you asked. Here, Bleacher Report’s Chad Dundas and Mike Chiappetta take their best shots at breaking down the current scene…


 

Chad Dundas: Unpopular opinion alert, Mike. I’m going to tab former welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre as my current pick as greatest of all time. Previous to this, arguments against St-Pierre passing Silva as the GOAT have been largely stylistic ones. Silva was the popular knockout artist who blazed a trail through the middleweight division, while St-Pierre was seen as a play-it-safe wrestler.

After Silva’s positive drug test in 2015, I’d argue that logic no longer holds water.

Fact is, during the seven or so years he spent as champion, St-Pierre fought arguably a higher level of competition than Silva. He put together 12 wins in a row between 2007-13, making the rest of the best 170-pound fighters in the world look mostly helpless while mastering a discipline (wrestling) he had next to no background in before coming to MMA.

Aside from an early-career defeat to Matt Hughes, GSP had all of one real slip-up—against Matt Serra at UFC 69—and he avenged both losses with extreme prejudice. Otherwise, he was nearly spotless. He did it all without a stain on his personal life, without ever being arrested, without ever failing a drug test.

He was, in fact, one of the first advocates for real, enhanced testing in MMA, proving he was ahead of his time both in and out of the cage.

Until St-Pierre abruptly announced his retirement after UFC 167, he was the picture of consistency and professionalism. He also walked away with the belt still in his possession. Not too shabby, considering how things have gone recently for a few all-time greats who’ve stuck around too long.

Mike Chiappetta: At his peak, St-Pierre was perhaps the most perfect fighter we’ve ever seen, efficient in all of his movements, confident in all of his decision-making and with exceptional skills in every facet of the game. He was mostly flawless to watch, a textbook fighter if ever there was one. In any objective analysis of GSP’s work, he’s a worthy candidate for the GOAT conversation.

However, in examining the top candidates and casting my vote, it is difficult for me to raise St-Pierre above the level of Jon Jones, the 29-year-old wunderkind who’s biggest challenges have come outside of competition.

Inside the Octagon, there is little doubt of Jones’ brilliance. Were it not for the existence of a rule forbidding the “12-to-6” elbow, one that is likely to one day soon be abolished, he would be undefeated. Regardless, his .957 career win percentage is tops all-time among fighters who have held major championships, and his 2011-2012 run of defeating five straight former UFC champions remains unprecedented.

If you examine all of the individual elements of his game, he was not the best at any one thing. He didn’t have the top wrestling pedigree, his striking could be awkward, he had no jiu-jitsu lineage to speak of. But the sum of the parts added up to something close to untouchable. What other argument needs to be made?

While the relatively short length of his career may stand as a fair counter of Jones’ place atop such a list, the fact remains that he never lost a championship fight, and that he was without peer in the cage.

Chad: Jones is certainly a defensible choice. For a long time, he seemed like he was shoo-in to become the undisputed greatest of all time. The stretch you mentioned when he defeated five former champions in a row is perhaps the greatest 12-month span for any individual fighter in the history of the sport. But I can’t shake the feeling that at least a bit of our notion of Jones’ greatness was based on potential.

At this point, can we be sure he will ever reach that? I’m not so sure. I’m also not totally convinced that—were his career to end today, with him being stripped of the title and then prematurely removed from a highly publicized second fight with Daniel Cormier for a potential doping violation—I could in good conscience consider Jones the best ever.

I’d still favor St-Pierre.

As far as other contenders to the crown go, however? I think Jose Aldo can make an interesting case.

Especially if you track Aldo back to his WEC days, it’s tough to find someone who had been so dominant over his weight class for so long. Prior to his stunning KO loss to McGregor at UFC 194, he’d gone 15-0 in WEC/UFC fights, had defended the 145-pound title nine times and breezed through all his top competition without much difficulty.

That loss, though, is a tough one to get out of your head. Seeing McGregor topple Aldo like a stack of bricks in just 13 seconds at UFC 194 undid a lot of the thinking about him. Now that he’s bounced back to recapture an interim version of the title, it seems he’s back on a good path. Perhaps if he ever meets McGregor again and emerges victorious in the rematch, he could make a compelling argument.

Mike: I don’t think the perception of Jones’ greatness rests on potential at all. What he accomplished is a full body of work that can stand on its own. Let’s remember, he was literally four months into his professional career when he got called up to the UFC, and even then as an anonymous nobody, rose to the occasion in a way few ever do. He had no business being in the cage that day, but instead, he won. That’s all he would ever do.

Jones never truly stumbled in the cage, whether he was an underdog or everyone’s target. He fought 17 times in the Octagon and destroyed both opponents and our notion of what a truly transcendent talent could do on his best day.

Of course, his legacy could be radically altered—maybe even destroyed—by his recent United States Anti-Doping Agency drug test result, which remains under adjudication and awaits a decision. And even if he somehow skirts any harsh reprimand, his legacy can also change through time, whenever (and if) he makes it back. It is usually the late years that change these things, after all. Look, for instance, at both Silva and Emelianenko, both of which you named. These men were so great for so long, and yet we downgrade them for their failures as past-their-prime athletes. (Silva, too, it must be noted, may lose support based upon his own performance-enhancing drugs failure.)

There are surely complicated histories involved, but if you want to look past GSP and disqualify Jones from the argument, I think Emelianenko would be the pick. Small and undersized in a land of giants, he was for a time indestructible, a myth in human form who wrote one of MMA’s all-time storied win streaks. While his list of vanquished may not blow you away, the consistency he displayed throughout his prime in a sport full of traps remains nearly inconceivable.

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With the UFC’s middleweight division currently receiving as much attention as any time in previous years, Thiago “Marreta” Santos may be flying a little under the radar. But the Brazilian believes the UFC, at least, is paying attention.

“I’m very happy to be in the two greatest events this year – UFC 198 and UFC 200,” Santos told MMAjunkie. “I’m very happy that my work is being recognized and for this opportunity from the UFC. I also appreciate the fans’ support. It’s the fans who make the UFC pay attention to me.”

Santos was in action most recently at May’s UFC 198 event in Brazil, a record-breaking stadium show in Curitiba. The 32-year-old Santos scored an impressive first-round stoppage of Nate Marquardt at the event, extending his octagon winning streak to four fights.

But “Marreta” isn’t waiting long to get back to work. When Derek Brunson was injured and forced to withdraw from next week’s UFC 200 event at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Santos (13-3 MMA, 4-2 UFC) stepped in to face his biggest name to date, Gegard Mousasi (38-6-2 MMA, 5-3 UFC), who is currently ranked No. 9 in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA middleweight rankings.

It’s a stiff challenge, especially on a little less than three weeks’ notice, but Santos said he’s more than prepared.

“I had already been watching his fights,” Santos revealed. “Actually, I watch all the fights in my weight class. I’d been watching him. He’s very complete and dangerous, both with his jiu-jitsu and striking. He is in no way to be underestimated.

“I had already been training all facets of MMA, so now I’m focusing on strategy. He likes to control the pace of the fight, so my objective is not to allow him to feel comfortable. I’ll fight my way and impose my rhythm.”

Santos, who recently has begun to split time training between Brazil and the U.S., wasn’t able to take advantage of that arrangement this time around. On short notice, Santos felt his time was best spent in one location, but with his last outing so closely in the rearview mirror, “Marreta” believes his preparation wasn’t impacted with limited options.

“There wasn’t enough time to travel to American Top Team, so I’m doing my work at my team, Tata Fight Team,” Santos said. “We’re also assisted by master Pedro Rizzo. We’re drawing up my strategy and tightening up my diet.

“I’m ready. I didn’t fight that long ago, so it’s just a matter of continuing to do the same things.”

Santos and Mousasi meet on the UFC Fight Pass-streamed prelims of an incredibly stacked UFC 200 card. Additional prelims then air on FOX Sports 1 before the main card shifts to pay-per-view.

Santos knows it’s a massive opportunity, and he appreciates the UFC bringing him from one blockbuster event to another.

“Thankfully, I’m in a good moment in my career,” Santos said. “I’m on a four-fight win streak in the UFC. This is an important transitional moment. I’m entering the rankings. I’m amongst the top fighters now, and I’m closer to fighting for the belt. I’m renewing my dedication after the opportunity materialized for this next fight. I’ll seize the moment. I expect to be victorious and continue my climb in the weight class.

“A lot of people feel I’m a future champion. I’m thankful for all the love I’ve received.”

For more on UFC 200, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.


Filed under: News, UFC

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Fedor Emelianenko, Royce Gracie, and Georges St. Pierre all must be included in any debate regarding the greatest MMA legends of all time. Exactly where they rank is a matter of perspective.

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Sudden or methodical, technical or power-driven, there’s nothing like a submission to get fans up and cheering on fight night. It’s the finish that separates MMA from boxing, and this added dimension is a big reason why the sport continues to grow in popularity. As the road to UFC 200 continues, here’s a look at a selection of the best subs ever seen in the Octagon.UFC 1 – Royce Gracie-Ken Shamrock IWhen Royce Gracie submitted Art Jimmerson in the first UFC tournament in 1993, observers were confused. When the skinny gi-wearing Brazilian did the same thing to the imposing Ken … Read the Full Article Here

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How do you capture nearly 23 years of a sport in 10 nights? You don’t. But as UFC 200 approaches on July 9, why not look back at some nights that captured the true essence of mixed martial arts and reminded you just what it means to be a fight fan. Here’s one fan’s favorites.MORE ON UFC 200: Tickets On Sale Now | Complete fight card | Live in Las Vegas on July 9 from brand new T-Mobile Arena | Cormier vs Jones to headline UFC 200 | Brock Lesnar returns to fight Mark Hunt | Jose Aldo vs. Frankie Edgar 2 meet for interim title | … Read the Full Article Here

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