hardknocks365 July 12, 2019

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International Fight Week 2019 is in the books after being capped off by UFC 239, which went down Saturday at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The card was headlined by arguably the greatest fighter of all time, Jon Jones, defending his light heavyweight title against Brazilian slugger Thiago Santos. The fight was a surprisingly close back-and-forth contest which saw “Bones” winning a split decision using a slower, more calculated attack. The main event came after three straight spectacular knockouts that might have stolen some of the headlines from Jones’ title defense.

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Former middleweight world champion Luke Rockhold (16-4) isn’t a middleweight anymore. His next fight, July 6 at UFC 239 (10 p.m. ET, PPV), will be up a class at light heavyweight against Jan Blachowicz (23-8).

So, when Rockhold is asked about the lunch he just had in Florida where he’s conducting his training camp at Henri Hooft’s Hard Knocks 365, he focuses on the quantity, not the specific flavors of the dish.

“Lunch was a hefty portion,” he chuckles.

Eating big during training camp is new to Rockhold, who for years whittled the weight from his 6-foot-3 frame down to the middleweight limit (185 pounds) for competition. Since moving up to the 205-pound class, however, the Californian says his mind, body, and training have benefited a great deal.

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LAS VEGAS – There’s a long line of top contenders waiting for their crack at welterweight champion Kamaru Usman.

Speaking to MMA Junkie last Friday at the UFC Hall of Fame ceremony, Usman (15-1 MMA, 10-0 UFC) was asked who he thought would be his toughest challenge. His answer? Tteammate Robbie Lawler.

The former 170-pound champ Lawler (28-13-1 MMA, 13-7 UFC) proved he is still a threat in his controversial stoppage loss to Ben Askren in his last outing. He was submitted via bulldog choke early in the fight but showed his toughness. And Usman gets to see that on a daily basis, training with Lawler at the Hard Knocks 365 Gym in South Florida.

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LFA CEO Ed Soares announced on Thursday that the promotion will have a new title fight at LFA 71. Junior Marques, who was scheduled to fight for the welterweight title, was denied entry into the country due to an immigration issue after his flight landed in the United States.

The main event of LFA 71 will now feature a welterweight title fight between LFA standout Jason “The Ass-Kicking Machine” Jackson and respected Brazilian prospect Hemerson “Toco” Souza for the vacant championship. LFA 71 – Jackson vs. Souza takes place tomorrow Friday, July 12th at the Coca-Cola Roxy in Atlanta, Georgia. The entire main card will be televised live and nationwide on AXS TV at 9 p.m. ET / 6 p.m. PT.

“Jason Jackson will now face Hemerson “Toco” Souza for the LFA welterweight championship at LFA 71,” stated Soares. “Junior Marques was denied entry into the country due to an immigration issue, so we are moving Souza up from the co-main event to face Jackson for the title. Stylistically, Jackson and Souza will give fight fans in Atlanta a fantastic headliner tomorrow night at the Coca-Cola Roxy in Atlanta, Georgia.”

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Derek Brunson knows his three-round battle against Elias Theodorou in early May wasn’t the most exciting fight in history, but he got the job done.

Dealing with an awkward counter fighter, Brunson had to make some adjustments to ensure the victory but ultimate he swept the scorecards to get back in the win column following a pair of consecutive losses.

Heading into the fight, Brunson acknowledged that Theodorou is a tough puzzle to figure out at times and he had to make his own adjustments after switching teams where he began working with the coaches and fighters out of Hard Knocks 365 in Florida.

“He’s a smart guy. He went out with his game plan and he fought the normal way that he always fought and he thought I was going to present the same attributes or come out the same way I did in my previous fights just really aggressive,” Brunson told MMAFighting when speaking about the fight with Theodorou. “He didn’t deviate from that game plan and I said to myself ‘you can’t keep doing the same dumb stuff over and over again’.

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NEW YORK – While basking in the glow of victory over Sebastian Ruiz in a bantamweight (135 pounds) preliminary fight during Bellator 222 on Friday night, Mike Kimbel was regaling the scrum of reporters at his post-match press conference about a former teacher that doubted his dream of becoming a professional mixed martial arts fighter.

While a student at Crosby High, Kimbel gave a presentation about the battle to legalize MMA in New York and Connecticut. His teacher joked that he had a better chance of reaching the NFL than Kimbel did becoming a professional fighter.

Standing in a back area of Madison Square Garden, Kimbel still hadn’t forgotten the slight. The significance was not lost on the 22-year-old from Waterbury.

“It was a bit unreal walking in the streets, looking at the Garden out of my hotel room like, ‘I said I was going to do this and I’m doing it at 22 on the biggest stage with probably the most pressure any teenager – not even teenager, I forget, sometimes I think I am – that any 22-year-old can go through,” he said.

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Alton Meeks was two days away from basic training and set on spending time with family before heading off to join the military. The former high school wrestler and Division I football player at Iowa State and Northern Illinois was going to join the U.S. Army wrestling team and had designs on making his way up the Olympic ladder as part of the Army’s World Class Athlete Program.

Last Oct. 2, Meeks and his father, Sanford, had just taken cows to market near their home in central Florida and were on their way to see relatives. Driving on East Memorial Boulevard in Lakeland, their Chevrolet pickup was struck in a head-on collision.

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Adam Borics believes fans need to slow down when talking about Aaron Pico.

Borics, an undefeated featherweight who meets Pico at Bellator 222, said Pico is a “good fighter” but people think too highly of him. Bellator 222 takes place Saturday night at Madison Square Garden in New York.

“He has two or three good knockouts, but I think he is overrated,” Borics told Bloody Elbow. “Maybe he got too much hype. Maybe he got the most hype ever. I never saw like this, ‘Oh, he’s the future’ and everything. He got the knockouts and they are pushing him. I just want to show the world who deserves the hype.”

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New York, NY – Adam Borics is off to great start in his career. The Hungarian is 12-0 with eight finishes. He’s really showcased his abilities since joining Bellator, winning by rear-naked choke twice, and a flying knee in three appearances. Now he’ll get his toughest test against top prospect Aaron Pico, but the result will be the same in his eyes.

“I’m going to finish him. I’m a finisher, I’m going to finish him.”

Aaron Pico has had the spotlight on him since his MMA career began, and will be looking to recover from a loss at Bellator 222. On the other side, this can be Borics’ coming-out party after quietly amassing his 12-0 record.

“I don’t care about it. He gets a lot of hype, and if I get this hype, I can say that ‘oh, I don’t need this, I don’t want to do this, I don’t want to do commercial, I don’t want to do this.’  But I understand this. I’m just thinking about the fight. Maybe it’s easier if I don’t [have the hype].”

If the hype does come, however, Borics says “I’m ready for that.”

Borics started his run with Bellator in the best way possible, fighting in his home country of Hungary twice before making his American debut last year. While he’s well-known in Hungary, the rest of the world is about to catch up.

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No fighter ever wants to suffer their first loss, but in the world of combat sports it’s not always about winning or losing, more so about what can be learned from both winning and losing. Just a month before he turned 22 years-old, Mike Kimbel suffered his first professional loss in his career to John Douma.

While the fight didn’t go his way, Kimbel now prepares to take on Sebastian Ruiz at Bellator 222 which takes place on Friday, June 14, at Madison Square Garden. Kimbel spoke to MyMMANews about suffering his first loss, the lessons learned from that fight, how he’s going to bounce back at MSG, and why he’s focused on fighting for himself now.

For some fighters, all that matters to them is winning or losing inside the cage, but for Mike Kimbel, who is always focused on winning, every chance he gets inside the cage, is another opportunity for him to learn.

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