Category Archives: UFC

Mammoth heavyweight Steve Mowry will make his Bellator debut at September’s Bellator 205 event.

MMAjunkie today verified with a Bellator official that Mowry (4-0 MMA, 0-0 MMA) will make his promotional debut at Bellator 205 against another debuting fighter in Ben Moa (4-0 MMA, 0-0 BMMA).

The heavyweight matchup will air on the preliminary portion of the Sept. 21 card, which streams on MMAjunkie prior to the Paramount-televised main card at CenturyLink Arena in Boise, Idaho.

Mowry, 25, is just over two years into his professional MMA career. He’s off to a hot start, winning all four of his fights by stoppage, with each victory coming via a different method.

Training out of Hard Knocks 365 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Mowry has fought all of his bouts under the Titan FC banner. His most recent fight was a second-round TKO of Said Sowma at Titan FC 49 in April.

He meets Moa, 37, who made his promotional debut in July 2017 and had won all his bouts by stoppage due to strikes, including three finishes in the first round.

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UFC fighter Desmond Green was involved in a five-vehicle crash early Saturday morning, according to authorities in Davie, Florida.

Green suffered minor injuries, but two people — Emelina Morfa, 67, and Emma Suarez Hernandez, 76 — were killed.

Alvaro Feola, a spokesman for the Florida Highway Patrol, told reporters that Green lost control of his Dodge Durango just before 6:15 a.m. on Interstate 75. The SUV veered into the path of a tractor-trailer, causing a chain-reaction crash with three other vehicles.

The driver of a Toyota Yaris, in which Morfa and Suarez Hernandez were passengers, was seriously hurt and is being treated at Memorial Regional Hospital in Hollywood, Florida. Armando Alvarez, 23, was driving an Acura 3.2TL and also suffered minor injuries.

Feola told reporters the Florida Highway Patrol is still investigating why Green lost control of his vehicle.

Green (21-7) trains in Florida with Hard Knocks 365. He has won six of his past eight fights and was set to face Mairbek Taisumov in Moscow on Sept. 15.

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Imagine revising for weeks ahead of a history exam, then being told just one week before exam day that you’ll actually be turning in a biology paper.

That’s not too far off what welterweight Danny Roberts (16-3 MMA, 5-2 UFC) had to deal with at UFC Fight Night 134 this past weekend in Hamburg, Germany.

Roberts (16-3 MMA, 5-2 UFC) had gone through a full training camp at Hard Knocks 365 in Florida, preparing studiously for a bout with fellow hard-hitting welterweight Alan Jouban. But when injury forced the American off the card, the UFC drafted in a late replacement.

The promotion settled on German debutant and KSW veteran David Zawada, who was almost everything Jouban wasn’t. Both had a host of knockouts on their respective records, but Zawada’s fighting style and orthodox stance were certainly different to Jouban’s southpaw kickboxing style. And with precious little footage of Zawada (16-4 MMA, 0-1 UFC) floating around on the Internet for Roberts’ team to study, the Brit described feeling like he was “fighting blind” as he was forced to adapt on the fly against a very different opponent.

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Careers in mixed martial arts have peaks and valleys, just like any other professional sport. True talents with staying power learn to evolve. Bellator MMA mainstay Linton Vassell finds himself in a position where change has become necessary to remain relevant. As such, he plans to move from 205 pounds to heavyweight.

Vassell has been a stalwart of Bellator’s light heavyweight division since the promotion signed him in August 2013. He was with the company as it changed formats and leadership, and he has been a 205-pound title contender during both the Bjorn Rebney and Scott Coker eras. However, similar to what he saw the company do a few years ago, he too finds himself in a transition to something new. In an era where so many veteran fighters — Diego Sanchez, Rashad Evans and Wanderlei Silva, to name a few — often choose to go down a division late in their careers, Vassell is making the sensible decision to move up in weight.

“I’m 35 now,” he told Sherdog.com. “I wouldn’t say the weight cut was hard, but I feel like it’s time to start a new journey.”

For a man who stands 6-foot-4 and often walks around at 235 pounds, the decision to head to heavyweight made a lot of sense. Cutting weight at the backend of a career only gets more difficult.

“I feel like it’ll work better for me,” Vassell said.

As a light heavyweight, his camps usually spanned eight weeks, in part so he could slowly work off the 30 pounds to make the 205-pound limit. Competing at heavyweight would require a six-week camp, meaning far less wear and tear on his body. Vassell’s early light heavyweight bouts raised his profile in the United Kingdom and ultimately drew Bellator’s attention.

“I found that I had more success in the light heavyweight division,” he said, “so I carried on, won a few belts in the UK and got signed by Bellator.”

However, Vassell admits his efforts to capture 205-pound gold in Bellator have run their course. Recent losses to Ryan Bader and Phil Davis affirmed that reality.

“Unfortunately, the two big losses that I just had definitely helped me make the decision,” Vassell said. “I’ve always wanted to go back to heavyweight. I used to fight heavyweight when I was first starting off.”

Vassell claims that over the years he has let Bellator officials know of his interest in returning to the heavyweight division, yet he was never given ideas for potential opponents. He thinks he will settle in at his fighting weight of 240 pounds once he returns to twice-a-day training. While bulking up does not ensure he will be able to compete with some of the promotion’s biggest heavyweights, Vassell does not sound the least bit concerned.

“I feel like I’ve got the grappling, the striking [and] the power [to compete],” he said. “I feel like I’m going to be a great addition to the heavyweight division.”

Vassell draws his confidence from the work he puts in at Hard Knocks 365 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. There, he trains alongside the 6-foot-3, 255-pound Matt Mitrione, the 6-foot-11, 266-pound Stefan Struve and the 6-foot-8, 238-pound Steve Mowry. Vassell believes his grappling skills will prove vital to any success he enjoys as a heavyweight.

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ONE middleweight champion Aung La Nsang (22-10-0, 1NC) added the light heavyweight crown to his mantle with a spectacular knockout victory over Brazilian Alexandre Machado (8-3-0) at ONE: Quest for Gold in Yangon, Myanmar on Feb 23.

“The Burmese Python,” fighting in his native country, unloaded a right leg head kick through the guard of Machado to send him to the canvas. Follow up strikes forced referee Olivier Coste to call the bout at 56 seconds of the first round. The stoppage was the fastest in ONE’s light heavyweight history.

La Nsang now joins Martin Nguyen as the company’s only dual champions, with Nguyen looking to become the company’s only three-division champ with a win over bantamweight kingpin Bibiano Fernandes in March at ONE: Iron Will.

“One thing’s for sure. Myanmar, if we are united, nothing can stop us,” he said in the post-fight interview, while thanking his team, Hard Knocks 365 and striking coach Henri Hooft of The Netherlands.

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UFC 221 wasn’t a card that likely drew a lot of eyeballs on pay-per-view, but for those who did watch the event, it offered some thrilling moments. It’s often hard to predict which MMA events will stand out the most. Some fights like Dustin Poirier-Justin Gaethje are pretty much can’t-miss ventures, but MMA in general delivers more surprises when it comes to action than other sports. Jake Matthews’ perseverance against Jingliang Li and Tyson Pedro’s deft submission of Saparbek Safarov were highlights on Saturday in Perth, Australia, but arguably the biggest thrills came from three destructive knockout finishes.

Israel Adesanya generated buzz ahead of his Ultimate Fighting Championship debut because of his glossy record: all wins, all knockouts. UFC 221 was a nice teaser of the promise he offers. Adesanya acknowledged himself it wasn’t his most impressive performance, but you could still see all the tools: the speed, movement and precision in his striking. It was also hard to miss the way Rob Wilkinson reacted to his strikes, as even Adesanya’s jabs landed emphatically. By the end, Wilkinson’s face was a mess and he was just covering up to protect himself from Adesanya’s barrage of offense.

If it was a bad night for Wilkinson, it was an even worse night for Cyril Asker, who was tasked with taking on young knockout artist and beer shoe enthusiast Tai Tuivasa. Like Adesanya, Tuivasa has knocked out every opponent of his MMA career. Unlike Adesanya, it has never taken him longer than a single round. That power was on display against Asker, as Tuivasa delivered incredible damage to the Frenchman’s face in very short time. It was the sort of performance that fans love from heavyweight fighters.

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Much has been written about Luke Rockhold’s decision to train with Hard Knocks 365 in Florida rather than at American Kickboxing Academy (AKA) in California where he has been based for most of his career.

The decision was scrutinized because Volkan Oezdemir, his AKA teammate light heavyweight and champion Daniel Cormier’s opponent at UFC 220, also trained at Hard Knocks 365.

“I think that he’s looking for something a little bit different right now and I think as his brothers, we have to really respect and applaud him for that,” Cormier told the Sammy and the Punk show during an interview prior to UFC 220, indicating he was okay with Rockhold’s decision.

To those who felt Rockhold was being disloyal to his AKA teammates, he puts the blame on a narrative created by Conor McGregor. During The Ultimate Fighter season 22, McGregor accused T.J. Dillashaw, a coach on Team Faber, of turning his back on his camp, Team Alpha Male.

“Back in the day, people were jumping and changing training camps and doing what they needed to do to build upon their repertoire and their game and now one stupid Conor McGregor comment has driven everybody into this disloyalty, ‘snake in the grass’ bull[expletive],” Rockhold told The TSN MMA Show. “It’s just stupid. People need to wake up and learn.”

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Throughout the first episode the UFC’s Embedded series for this weekend’s pay-per-view event in Boston, light heavyweight title challenger Volkan Oezdemir is shown training alongside former middleweight champ Luke Rockhold.

The same Rockhold who came up alongside Daniel Cormier at the American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose and who remains close friends and training partners with the main he’ll face in the first of Saturday night’s twin title fights.

It’s an odd situation, but one that has had little impact on the unflappable Swiss challenger, who looks to complete an incredible initial 12 months on the UFC roster by claiming championship gold this weekend in Boston.

“We keep it really professional,” Oezdemir said of working alongside Rockhold at Hard Knocks 365, the South Florida facility that has become home to a number of elite talents over the last year. “I know he’s close to Cormier, so I’m not trying to get any insight or information. We’re training side-by-side, but basically I’m doing my stuff and he’s doing his stuff.

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As the New Year rolls in, so do new obstacles and challenges to overcome. There is no such thing as a holiday in our dictionary; Henri Hooft was busy training his troops on both Christmas and New Years day. There is no room for complacency in this industry and Hooft knows this better than anyone.

First up, is a rescheduled fight that will take place as part of the main card of UFC Fight Night 124 on January 14th. Kamaru Usman, will finally bump heads with Emil Weber Meek. They were originally due to fight at UFC 219, but Meek allegedly had visa issues. Now, it seems all the pieces are in place for this battle to happen. Though Meek is not a top 10 contender that Kamaru has long desired, his victory over him will surely secure him a top-10 opponent thereafter.

Michael Johnson will be in-tow with Kamaru, as he too is fighting on the card. It will be his first stint at featherweight and his imminent victory should see him be immediately propelled into the top-10 of the division, given that his opponent Darren Elkins, is at the 10th spot himself.

Next is a long-awaited fight in Volkan Oezdemir challenging Daniel Cormier for the light heavyweight title at UFC 220 in Boston. After some friendly back-and-forth banter on twitter, the gloves are starting to come off, as both held nothing back at the UFC 220 press conference. After only 3 fights, Volkan is in line for the title and it is without a doubt one of the quickest rises to the belt the UFC has seen in years. Though the bout was perceived as the main event, it is now in fact the co-main, as the UFC has booked Stipe Miocic versus Francis Ngannou for the heavyweight title as the de facto main event.

February 11th will see normalcy restored to the Middleweight title debate, as GSP has vacated, leaving Robert Whittaker the undisputed champion. Up steps, Luke Rockhold. The bout will take place at the Perth Arena in Australia, and serve as the main event. That’s right, Rockhold wants his belt back, and given his recent training-regime, he seems nothing short of hell-bent on getting it back, even though he’s fighting on Whittaker’s home turf. The main event is due to begin at 11 am, local Perth time, in order to accommodate the primetime broadcasting over on the western hemisphere.

Gilbert Burns will be next up, taking on Oliver Aubin-Mercier at UFC Fight Night at UFC on Fox 28, on February 24th at the Amway Center only 3 hours north of Hard Knocks 365, in Orlando. He is coming off an emphatic over-hand KO over Jason Saggo, and will look to improve upon his 13-2 record.

And finally, at UFC 222 on March 3rd at the acclaimed T-Mobile Arena, The Skyscraper, Stefan Struve, will make his return to the octagon versus UFC Heavyweight Veteran, Andrei Arlovski. Struve is coming off a loss versus Aleksander Volkov at UFC Fight Night 115 last year. No matter, as he is still in the top 15, and after beating Arlovski, he’ll be back in the top-contenders in no time.

Fresh off a victory in his MMA debut, Denzel Freeman (1-0) is ready to compete again.

Freeman defeated Davaun McKoy (0-1) by technical knockout in the second round of Titan FC 47. A healthy Freeman said he is set to compete on Titan FC 48, which will occur Feb. 16, 2018 at the Xtreme Action Park in Fort Lauderdale.

Freeman joined Rodolfo Roman of The Roman Show to talk about his debut and more.

“These were the biggest nerves I had ever felt so far,” he said. “They did go away, but I had it till I walked to the cage. I think I had it until then.”

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