Posts Tagged ‘Welterweight’
Last Saturday witnessed a shake-up in the UFC’s most unshakeupable division.
Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson melted Johny Hendricks with long punches and a massive head kick to earn a first-round knockout and contender status at welterweight.
There hasn’t been a lot of fresh blood at the top of the welterweight division for some time. Furthermore, there is a lot of inaction at the moment. You might even call it a logjam. But in the case of the welterweights, at least the logs are all mahogany, or whatever type of wood is the fanciest.
Even though most of the names are familiar, the 170-pound weight class has recently hosted some of the best fights of this or any other time period in the UFC.
Is the logjam loosening at the top? Where is the new blood coming from? Here’s a look at the state of one of the UFC’s most action-packed and star-studded divisions.
Robbie Lawler can turn it on.
Everyone talks about that metaphorical light switch. But the ability to actually do it—to find that extra gear and excel in those crunch-time moments when it matters most? That’s rare.
Granted, Lawler’s strong finishes are informed, maybe necessitated, by his notorious slow starts. But even if that’s the case, the way he employs energy, shakes off injury and wields that devastating power when he needs it most is special.
It leads to close fights. Most recently, plenty of onlookers (including UFC President Dana White) thought Carlos Condit did enough to dethrone Lawler at UFC 195. Two fights with Hendricks were split between the two men and were razor-close.
And then there was that thing with Rory MacDonald. It was only one of the best fights in MMA history and one MacDonald was probably winning until Lawler pulverized his face in the fifth and final round. I still get the chicken skins just thinking about it.
All to say, the welterweight division has a cool champion right now in Lawler. Is he unbeatable? Heck no. Will he inevitably deliver memories? Heck yes. You know what you’re getting with Lawler, and the getting is good.
You think MacDonald wouldn’t love a rematch with Lawler? Actually, maybe he wouldn’t. If my nose got caved in like Voldemort’s, I wouldn’t be in much of a hurry to recreate those conditions.
The Red King hasn’t fought since that fateful evening last July. A tangle with knockout artist Hector Lombard was iced after Lombard failed a drug test, and despite rumblings from White, it was never rescheduled.
So, it’s uncertain what’s next for the ultra-talented (and still just 26) Tristar trainee. Here’s hoping whatever it is arrives sooner rather than later. The division needs its top contender back in the mix.
Even more so than MacDonald, it’s hard to see a path for Condit that doesn’t include a title fight in the near future. The muay thai dervish said as much recently on The MMA Hour (h/t MMA Fighting), noting that a Lawler rematch is the “only fight that raises my pulse.”
Who can blame him? There are quite a few people, including Condit, who think he is the rightful champ right now. According to FightMetric, Condit landed more significant strikes than Lawler in each and every round and landed only one fewer strike (176) than Lawler threw in total (177). Obviously, this is not how fights are scored, but it is a strong piece of evidence in Condit’s favor.
Maybe UFC officials will make the rematch. Maybe they will find a way coughmoneycough to make another fight worth Condit’s while. One thing is true: The company better find a way to keep this retirement stuff out of Condit’s head. The welterweight division is a better place with The Natural Born Killer in it.
Tyron Woodley doesn’t always get the credit he deserves. That may be a function of his meat-and-potatoes style, which generally relies on clinch rides and one punch (see below) to get the job done.
A scheduled bout with Hendricks fell by the wayside last fall when the former champ’s weight cut went awry. Woodley hasn’t fought since, exacerbating the stagnation at the top of this division. Though Hendricks’ withdrawal had nothing to do with Woodley, the subsequent inaction is by his design.
— Tyron T-Wood Woodley (@TWooodley) October 2, 2015
Will he get his title shot? It hasn’t materialized yet.
One bout that might make sense is Woodley vs. Condit 2. It loosens the logjam, it’s an easy main or co-main event, and the winner gets a title shot. Over and above the obvious talent involved, the bout is easy to sell: When they first met in 2014, Condit suffered a freak knee injury and had to stop, which resulted in a TKO win for Woodley.
A chance for Condit to erase that loss—and for Woodley to prove his win was no fluke—might be too much for either man to resist.
Wonder no more: Wonderboy is for real.
It took me four hours to write that.
Good on Thompson for calling for the title shot after the biggest win of his MMA career Saturday night. Wonderboy vs. Lawler would be a terrific fight with a compelling blend of styles.
Even so, it might be a little early for that. After all, Thompson is still only 13 fights in. There’s no need to rush things. After that win over Hendricks, he could have some nice matchups headed his way. If he keeps improving like he has, that title shot won’t be far away.
It’s weird to call Cerrone a prospect. But at welterweight, that’s exactly what he is. The longtime lightweight traded up after his first-round TKO loss in December to champ Rafael dos Anjos. An exciting personality and a talented all-around fighter, Cowboy will make his 170-pound against Alex Oliveira later this month.
Tumenov is the brightest “true” prospect in the division these days. And the 24-year-old is not afraid to say it or show it, as evidenced by his 11 knockout wins in 19 pro fights (he’s 17-2 overall) and his frequent trash talk.
Just Tuesday, Tumenov called out Thompson for what he said would be a battle of the “best strikers” at welterweight. I don’t know if I’d go that far, but I do know I’d watch this matchup or just about any other involving the electrifying North Caucasian.
Some bloom is off the Gastelum rose.
Once dubbed “Mini-Cain” in reference to then-heavyweight champ Cain Velasquez, Gastelum has dropped two of his last three, most recently in a terrific fight with Neil Magny.
Gastelum’s continued struggles to make 170 pounds also have fueled fan frustration; he has missed weight twice in six welterweight bouts in the UFC. Last January, he missed by an astonishing 10 pounds before losing to Woodley.
As if that weren’t enough, Gastelum had to pull out of a January bout with Kyle Noke after suffering a wrist injury. The 24-year-old has plenty of time to make up ground, but make no mistake: There is ground to make up.
The winner of The Ultimate Fighter 21 has a high ceiling. The power wrestling and Blackzilians trainee has mind-bending athleticism and skill, honed during his time on the University of Nebraska wrestling team.
His striking is behind his wrestling, but just about everything is behind Usman’s wrestling. And his stand-up game is already improving and should continue to develop under well-known Blackzilians striking coach Henri Hooft, not to mention teammates such as Anthony Johnson and Tyrone Spong.
The 27-year-old is 2-0 in the UFC but still seeking a signature win. Here’s guessing he gets it this year.
A Long Way to Go
It’s been nothing but stormy weather for Hendricks of late. He suffered kidney stones last fall while cutting weight for the Woodley fight and had to pull out. Then, Thompson knocked him out. And just weeks before, he had to close his steakhouse because, well, apparently it sucked. No word yet on when the locusts will arrive.
On the official ledger, Hendricks is 2-3 in his last five bouts. Is he still elite? Oh yes. But the Thompson loss probably means he’ll need to start a new run from a few pegs farther down than those to which he’s recently been accustomed.
Poor Gunnar Nelson.
It’s hard to recall a fighter that talented getting pantsed that definitively. But that’s exactly what happened when he lost the grappler’s dream matchup with Demian Maia at UFC 194. Nelson is still a world grappling champ and a jiu-jitsu wizard. He’ll be back. But with the Maia loss being his second in three contests and with it being so, well, thorough, he’ll need to head back to the drawing board before he gets another high-profile bout.
Hey, speaking of Maia…
Best of the Rest
Maia is enjoying a career renaissance at welterweight and at the age of 38. He spent 2015 running through Nelson, Neil Magny and Ryan LaFlare, and he doesn’t show any signs of slowing.
A tantalizing striker-grappler matchup with Matt Brown looms at UFC 198 in May. If Maia can control Brown on the mat for the win (and I’m guessing he can), we’ll have another fresh blood infusion at the top of the division.
What does Magny have to do to get your attention?
All he’s done in the past two years is go an astounding 9-1, with his only loss coming against Maia. A well-rounded and ever-improving fighter with long reach and solid grappling, Magny is a likable welterweight with a deep gas tank and, one would hope, an even deeper reservoir of goodwill with the UFC.
He has another seemingly impossible task in front of him when he takes on Lombard in March in the latter’s native Australia. Lombard is a terrifying knockout artist and the favorite to win. It looks like Magny will just have to prove everyone wrong once again.
Scott Harris writes about MMA for Bleacher Report. For more stuff like this, follow Scott on Twitter.
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UFC Fight Night 82 post-fight facts: 'Wonderboy' winning at welterweight
Las Vegas' MGM Grand Garden Arena was the site of Thompson's (12-1 MMA, 7-1 UFC) triumph when he outclassed Hendricks (17-4 MMA, 12-4 UFC) on the feet in the FOX Sports 1-televised main event for a divisional-best sixth consecutive victory.
Making the Grade: Passes/Fails for UFC Fight Night: Hendricks vs. Thompson
UFC Fight Night 82 results: Biggest winners, losers from 'Hendricks vs Thompson' last night in Las Vegas
UFC Fight Night 82 post-fight results and analysis
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Stephen Thompson is making a habit of winning in spectacular fashion. “Wonderboy” took out former welterweight champ Johny Hendricks by first-round TKO in Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 82 headliner.
Las Vegas’ MGM Grand Garden Arena was the site of Thompson’s (12-1 MMA, 7-1 UFC) triumph when he outclassed Hendricks (17-4 MMA, 12-4 UFC) on the feet in the FOX Sports 1-televised main event for a divisional-best sixth consecutive victory.
Thompson wasn’t the only one to earn a victory of note at the event, though. For more, check out 40 post-fight facts about UFC Fight Night 82.
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The Reebok Athlete Outfitting payout for the event totaled $145,000.
Debuting fighters went 1-3 at the event.
Thompson, Diego Rivas, Mike Pyle and Sean Spencer earned $50,000 UFC Fight Night 82 fight-night bonuses.
UFC Fight Night 82 drew an announced attendance of 7,422 for a live gate of $1.435 million.
Betting favorites went 8-4 on the card.
Total fight time for the 12-bout card was 2:02:49.
Thompson’s six-fight UFC winning streak in welterweight competition is the longest active streak in the weight class.
Thompson has earned five of his seven UFC victories by knockout.
Thompson’s eight knockdowns landed in UFC welterweight competition are tied for fourth most in divisional history behind Thiago Alves (11), Jake Ellenberger (nine) and Robbie Lawler (nine).
Thompson earns 1.78 knockdowns per 15 minutes of fighting, the highest in UFC welterweight history and sixth highest overall in company history.
Hendricks suffered the first knockout loss of his career.
Hendricks was knocked down for the first time in his career.
Roy Nelson (21-12 MMA, 8-8 UFC) snapped his three-fight losing skid for his first victory since April 2014.
Nelson earned his first decision victory since June 16, 2007 – a span of 3,157 days (more than eight years) and 21 fights.
Jared Rosholt (14-3 MMA, 6-2 UFC) suffered the first decision loss of his career.
Rafael Cavalcante (12-7 MMA, 1-4 UFC) suffered his third consecutive loss to extend the longest skid of his career. He’s 1-4 with one no-contest in his past six fights.
Joseph Benavidez’s (24-4 MMA, 11-2 UFC) five-fight UFC winning streak in flyweight competition is the second longest active streak in the division behind champion Demetrious Johnson (nine).
Benavidez’s nine victories in UFC flyweight competition are tied with Johnson for the most in divisional history.
Zach Makovsky (19-7 MMA, 3-3 UFC) has suffered all three of his UFC losses by decision.
Misha Cirkunov (11-2 MMA, 2-0 UFC) has earned nine of his 11 career victories by stoppage.
Cirkunov has earned both of his UFC victories by stoppage.
Alex Nicholson (6-2 MMA, 0-1 UFC) suffered the first submission loss of his career.
Pyle (27-11-1 MMA, 10-6 UFC) snapped his two-fight losing skid for his first victory since February 2014.
Pyle has earned 23 of his 27 career victories by stoppage. Five of his past six UFC victories have come by knockout.
Pyle’s four third-round stoppage victories in UFC competition are tied with Yoel Romero for second most in company history behind Randy Couture (six).
Spencer (12-5 MMA, 3-4 UFC) suffered the first knockout loss of his career.
Josh Burkman (28-12 MMA, 6-7 UFC) was successful in his UFC lightweight debut.
Burkman snapped a six-fight UFC winless skid and earned his first octagon victory since Oct. 20, 2007 – a span of 3,031 days (more than eight years).
K.J. Noons (13-9 MMA, 2-3 UFC) fell to 3-7 with one no-contest in his past 11 UFC/Strikeforce appearances.
Derrick Lewis (14-4 MMA, 5-2 UFC) has earned 13 of his 14 career victories by knockout. That includes all five of his wins under the UFC banner.
Lewis’ five knockout victories in UFC heavyweight competition since 2014 are the most in the division.
Lewis is the only fighter in UFC history to have his first seven appearances end in a knockout.
Damian Grabowski (22-3 MMA, 0-1 UFC) suffered the first knockout loss of his career.
Noad Lahat (9-2 MMA, 2-2 UFC) has suffered both of his career losses by knockout.
Lahat became the first fighter in UFC/WEC/Strikeforce/PRIDE combined history to suffer two knockout losses stemming from a flying-knee strike.
Mickey Gall (2-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC) has earned both of his career victories by submission.
Gall’s 45-second submission victory marked the fourth fastest submission in UFC welterweight history.
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LAS VEGAS – Johny Hendricks had some trouble his last time out and never made it to the scale for UFC 192.
But today, the former welterweight champion was right on the money for his UFC Fight Night 82 main event against Stephen Thompson (11-1 MMA, 6-1 UFC). Hendricks (17-3 MMA, 12-3 UFC) managed his weight during his training camp in part thanks to nutritionist Louis Giordano and came in at 170 pounds on the button.
In addition, the co-main event fighters didn’t have to worry about making weight – well, much, anyway. Heavyweights Roy Nelson (20-12 MMA, 7-8 UFC) and Jared Rosholt (14-2 MMA, 6-1 UFC) took to the scale, as well.
Check out the highlights from Friday’s weigh-in ceremony at Grand Ballroom at MGM Grand Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. The attached MGM Grand Garden Arena hosts Saturday’s card, which airs on FOX Sports 1 after early prelims on UFC Fight Pass.
View full post on News – MMAjunkie
With another action-packed month of MMA in the books, MMAjunkie takes a look at the best fights from January. Here are the five nominees, listed in chronological order, and winner of MMAjunkie’s “Fight of the Month” award for January.
At the bottom of the post, let us know if we got it right by voting on your choice.
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Michael McDonald def. Masanori Kanehara at UFC 195
It wasn’t pretty, but Michael McDonald’s (17-3 MMA, 6-2 UFC) first fight in more than two years went his way with an out of left field submission of fellow bantamweight Masanori Kanehara (25-13-5 MMA, 1-2 UFC).
To the surprise of many, Kanehara got an early advantage on a choke-happy McDonald. He used takedowns and positioning to keep the fight in his favor, but one mistake spelled the end. In mount, Kanehara looked to lock in an arm-triangle choke. With the hold very deep, McDonald somehow slipped out and moved immediately to the back, where he locked in a rear-naked choke to get the out-of-nowhere submission victory.
Robbie Lawler def. Carlos Condit at UFC 195
Robbie Lawler (27-10 MMA, 12-4 UFC) came out on the right end of his highly anticipated welterweight championship fight with Carlos Condit (30-9 MMA, 7-5 UFC) when he edged out “The Natural Born Killer” by split decision to defend his title.
Lawler and Condit lived up to expectations when they stood and traded blows for five rounds in an instant classic. “Ruthless” did what he does best and thrived under those circumstances before he managed to convince the judges to give him the victory despite Condit landing more blows.
Paul Felder def. Daron Cruickshank at UFC Fight Night 81
Paul Felder (11-2 MMA, 3-2 UFC) took some of the best Daron Cruickshank (16-8 MMA, 6-6 UFC) could give but didn’t back down, locking in a rear-naked choke in the final frame to take home the win.
After competitive lightweight action on the feet, clinch and ground through two rounds, Felder waited for his opening to finish the fight in the final frame. As the two worked on the ground, Cruickshank left his neck open and Felder locked in a rear-naked choke that brought the fight to a close.
Dominick Cruz def. T.J. Dillashaw at UFC Fight Night 81
Dominick Cruz (21-1 MMA, 4-0 UFC) didn’t lose his bantamweight title in the cage and T.J. Dillashaw (12-3 MMA, 8-3 UFC) needed to beat him to prove that he was the true champion. Unfortunately for Dillashaw, Cruz returned in his old form, taking a competitive split decision.
Despite multiple surgeries and injury setbacks, Cruz came back in as strong a form as ever. He implemented similar movement and attacks that led him to be the UFC’s inaugural 135-pound titleholder. He edged Dillashaw and became the division’s first two-time champion.
Jimmie Rivera def. Iuri Alcantara at UFC on FOX 18
Jimmie Rivera (19-1 MMA, 3-0 UFC) kept the home crowd happy when he pulled off a unanimous decision victory over Iuri Alcantara (33-7 MMA, 7-4 UFC) in a “Fight of the Night” affair in the UFC bantamweight division.
Rivera faced his sternest challenge to date in the form of the well-traveled and durable Brazilian. He mixed in striking, wrestling, spinning attacks and more to get up early in the fight before a late storm from Alcantara that was ultimately too little too later. Rivera left the octagon with the win, which marked his 19th successful performance in a row.
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The Winner: Robbie Lawler vs. Carlos Condit
Only two days into 2016, a “Fight of the Year” candidate was delivered by welterweight champ Lawler and former interim champ Condit, who fought a bloody and exhilarating five rounds filled with twists and turns in momentum.
In an instant classic of a fifth round, Lawler charged back after lackluster showings in the third and fourth frames to batter Condit and seal a split decision victory via scores of 47-48, 48-47, 48-47 to defend his title.
“We battled it out,” Lawler said afterward. “There was two winners tonight, and still. Let’s do it again.”
Lawler notched his second title defense since capturing the belt 13 months ago in a rematch with Johny Hendricks. As with that fight, and a subsequent defense against Canadian Rory MacDonald, he appeared to open strong before lagging as the fight went into the championship rounds, only to rebound when his reign appeared to be in jeopardy.
Condit, who ceded his interim title to the returning (and now retired) Georges St-Pierre in 2012, felt he’d done enough to steal the title.
“I felt like I had three rounds in the bag, but that’s why you don’t leave things to the judges,” he said.
Condit gave Lawler trouble early, using his height and long legs to score kicks and keep the power-puncher at distance. A well-timed punch combo saw Lawler briefly dropped by an uppercut, after which he began to look for counters. Condit used that shift to his advantage, landing more punching combinations bolstered by a straight right.
Periodically, Lawler was able to catch Condit when he telegraphed his approach. In the second frame, a well-timed left and right hook dropped the former interim champ, forcing him into survival mode in the second round.
Condit appeared to widen his lead in the third and fourth round as Lawler’s output fell and he served as an easy striking target.
Early in the fifth, Condit dodged an aggressive Lawler, who sensed the fight was his to lose. Halfway through the round, the crowd chanted Condit’s name as he put together more smart striking combinations. But Lawler caught him again with a right hook, which set off a flurry of punches that saw both men take staggeringly hard punches. Condit received the worst of things and appeared to be on the verge of being knocked out. Amazingly, though, he survived.
At the final bell, both men clung to the UFC’s octagon, bloodied and exhausted after a frenzied fight.
“He was everything everyone said he was,” Lawler said of Condit. “He was tough as hell.”
View full post on News – MMAjunkie
Former UFC lightweight champion and recent Bellator acquisition Benson Henderson will get an immediate title shot at welterweight in his new home.
Henderson (23-5 MMA, 0-0 BMMA) is set to fight for the 170-pound title against champion Andrey Koreshkov (18-1 MMA, 9-1 BMMA) in the main event of Bellator 153.
Bellator Director of Communications Danny Brener confirmed the news today to MMAjunkie after an initial report from ESPN.com. Bellator 153 takes place April 22 at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn., and its main card airs on Spike TV following prelims on MMAjunkie.
Henderson on Monday announced his move to the Viacom-owned promotion, ending a period of free agency after six years under the Zuffa promotional banner, where he won titles at lightweight in the now-defunct WEC and UFC. After a pair of losses to current champ Rafael dos Anjos and Donald Cerrone, he moved up in weight to 170 pounds and won back-to-back fights, most recently a decision over Jorge Masvidal this past November at UFC Fight Night 79 in Seoul.
Henderson comes into the title bout with more recent cage time than Koreshkov, who hasn’t defended his belt since winning it this past July with a decision over Douglas Lima. The Russian is currently on a five-fight winning streak with his sole Bellator loss coming in 2013 against now-former camp Ben Askren, who later vacated the belt to sign with ONE Championship.
No other bouts have been announced for Bellator 153, which marks the promotion’s return to Mohegan Sun after Bellator 140.
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Our apologies to Will Brooks … and every other lightweight hoping to win the “Smooth” lottery.
Former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) 155-pound champion Ben Henderson will remain at welterweight for his Spike TV debut, when he challenges Andrey Koreshkov for the division title at Bellator 153 on April 22, 2016, inside Mohegan Sun Resort & Casino in Uncasville, Connecticut.
ESPN brought word of the pending match up earlier today.
“Smooth” made the most of his free agency by signing with the Viacom-owned promotion earlier this week (more on that here). Prior to leaving the Octagon behind, Henderson (23-5) rattled off a pair of welterweight wins over Brandon Thatch and Jorge Masvidal.
No hard feelings!
Koreshkov (18-1) racked up an impressive 10-1 record since making his Bellator debut back in 2012. That includes a torrid five-figh winning streak with victories over Nah-Shon Burrell and Douglas Lima. Henderson will undoubtedly prove to be his stiffest test to date, but on the flip side, an upset win over the UFC import could do wonders for his brand.
It will also be interesting to see what kind of ratings the promotion can pull on Spike TV.
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A last-minute opponent switch at UFC on FOX 18 forced Sage Northcutt to jump to the welterweight division for the first time in his UFC career. If things continue to go smoothly, he said he might stay there.
Northcutt (7-0 MMA, 2-0 UFC) originally was scheduled to face Andrew Holbrook (11-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC) in lightweight action at Saturday’s event at Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. Holbrook pulled out of the FOX-televised bout with an injury on less than two weeks’ notice, though, and Bryan Barberena (10-3 MMA, 1-1 UFC) now serves as a replacement.
The caveat that came with Barberena’s acceptance of the fight, though, was that it would have to take place at welterweight. Northcutt said he had no problem agreeing to the heavier weight.
With the fight just days away, Northcutt said he’s feeling the positive effects of not cutting weight and instead is able to enjoy his time during fight week.
“I found out that my opponent that I was going to fight broke his foot, and that was at 155,” he told MMAjunkie. “So now the new opponent that got arranged for me is at 170, welterweight. I had actually cut back the amount of food I was eating. I was already getting close to my weight of fighting at 155, and now I feel great. I feel super strong. I feel like a super human getting to eat all this foot and going back to welterweight at the last minute.”
Although Northcutt said he had no issue with the opponent switch, the fact it’s a different weight is somewhat perplexing. With more than 115 active lightweight fighters signed to the UFC roster, Northcutt was surprised a replacement wasn’t found in his own weight class.
“I imagine with only seven or eight days, to be able to find an opponent that can get their medicals done at 155 or any weight class, is very tough,” Northcutt said. “My opponent that I’m fighting currently at welterweight actually had a fight scheduled a few weeks after my fight that I have on Jan. 30. So it works out perfect. He was already going to fight at welterweight, so all I had to do was move up to make 170.”
Northcutt looks to earn his third consecutive UFC victory. He’s picked up two quick wins since his UFC debut in October, and now he has the chance to post his third in less than four months.
Although there’s some risk in Northcutt’s decision to fight up a weight class, he said another way to view the situation is as an experiment. If his welterweight debut turns out to be a success, he said the division could potentially become his permanent home.
“There is a chance that I might fight another fight at 170 or two more fights and go back to 155,” Northcutt said. “I’m not really sure yet exactly what the plan is, but it’s very possible I’ll have more fights and stay here at 170 and very possible I’ll go back to 155 in the future.”
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In what some considered a do-or-die fight even though he is undefeated, Philadelphia’s Danny Garcia out-pointed Robert Guerrero over 12 rounds to capture the vacant WBC welterweight championship. His triumph headlined the Premier Boxing Champions on Fox card from the Staples Center in Los Angeles and placed him smack dab in the middle of a plethora of super fights in the division.
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Conor McGregor believes he could beat everyone “in the game” in four months and has vowed to claim three UFC belts in 2016 while speaking at the UFC 197 press conference Wednesday in Las Vegas.
The Notorious is set to face Rafael dos Anjos at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on March 5 and said he is going to “behead” the lightweight champion, stating his aim to take him down inside a minute while comparing himself to Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, per MMA Fighting’s Ariel Helwani:
The pair’s staredown was an intense precursor to their fight, with the lightweight champion refusing to shake hands with McGregor, per UFC:
Featherweight champion McGregor is moving up to lightweight to fight dos Anjos, having downed Jose Aldo last month, and he is aiming for further division titles this year, per Helwani and BT Sport UFC:
The Irishman painted a graphic picture of what he was going to do after he beats the Brazilian in the Octagon, per UFC:
He also described dos Anjos, 31, as a “bum version of Aldo,” and earmarked his next outing in the UFC, per Helwani:
There was little civility from McGregor, unsurprisingly, with the 27-year-old describing his forthcoming opponent as a limping gazelle, “a gringo,” and questioning his Brazilian roots, per Helwani:
It is a bold move for McGregor to shift to lightweight, but his ambitions are clearly loftier than that.
While the pre-fight talk is entertaining, there is little way of knowing how successful the featherweight champion will be at 155 pounds until he steps into the Octagon.
There is still some way to go until McGregor and dos Anjos clash, but the tension is already heating up. It is sure to be a blockbuster occasion.
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