hardknocks365 April 25, 2018

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Anatomy of Fighter: They call it Killer’s Row in Hard Knocks 365, because every time there is a sparring day, it will put the best of the best from both UFC and Bellator every time.

Michael Chandler and Michael Johnson, are both from the same state of Missouri and competed against each other in high school and the fact they both went on to have great wrestling careers and then on to stellar MMA careers, the competitiveness hasn’t stop them from always giving each other the best they can in sparring session.

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Aung La N Sang will defend his ONE Championship middleweight crown on June 29 on the “Spirit of a Warrior” fight card from Thuwunna Indoor Stadium in Yangon, Myanmar.

Aung La N Sang has had a great deal of success in Yangon as of late. His three most recent fights all took place in Yangon. During that stretch, Aung La N Sang went 3-0 with two stoppage victories. In June he claimed the ONE Championship middleweight crown with a five-round decision win over the previously unbeaten Vitaly Bigdash. Aung La N Sang added the light heavyweight title to his trophy case in February with a 56-second knockout of Alexandre Machado. Between those two title-winning contests, Aung La N Sang fought in an open weight bout where he stopped Alain Ngalani via guillotine choke submission at the 4:51 mark of the first stanza. Aung La N Sang’s record stands at 22-10.

The 32-year-old confirmed his upcoming title defense on Saturday while at Crazy 88 MMA in Elkridge, Md., one of the gyms he trains at while at home in Maryland. Aung La N Sang left Maryland on Saturday evening to make the 16-hour drive to Fort Lauderdale, Fla. where he will train at Henri Hooft’s Hard Knocks 365 for his first title defense.

Dominic Mazzotta (14-2) moved his record under the Bellator MMA banner to 2-1, as “The Honey Badger” topped UFC veteran Josh Sampo (11-6) via Decision at Bellator 197 this past weekend in St. Louis.

The Pittsburgh area native spent his training camp for this fight in Florida, training alongside former Bellator lightweight champion Michael Chandler with coach Henri Hooft at Hard Knocks 365.

Mazzotta dominated much of the fight, using his wrestling to get the fight to the ground and then throwing elbows to inflict punishment. He did, however, suffer a nasty cut on the top of his head due to an accidental headbutt in the first round.

Check out the full video below, courtesy of Bellator MMA.

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Michael Chandler fought with a purpose and did a little record breaking along the way.

The two-time Bellator MMA lightweight champion choked Brandon Girtz unconscious with an arm-triangle in the first round of their Bellator 197 main event on Friday at the Family Arena in St. Charles, Missouri. A fill-in for the injured Brent Primus, Girtz went limp 4:00 into Round 1 to the delight of the pro-Chandler crowd.

The two men traded barbs — and fouls — on the feet before Chandler changed levels, executed a takedown and advanced to the mounted crucifix position. After a brief burst of ground-and-pound, the 31-year-old Hard Knocks 365 representative locked in the choke, cleared his legs of the Girtz guard and waited for his squeeze to do the rest.

Chandler has gone 6-1 since enduring a three-fight losing streak between Nov. 2, 2013 and Nov. 15, 2014. He now owns more Bellator wins (15) than any other fighter.

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Michael Chandler can only play the hand he was dealt.

The former Bellator MMA lightweight champion will lock horns with short-notice replacement Brandon Girtz in the Bellator 197 main event on Friday at the Family Arena in St. Charles, Missouri. Chandler was originally booked opposite Brent Primus, the man who dethroned him some 10 months ago, in a rematch for the 155-pound crown.

A longtime cornerstone for Bellator, Chandler has compiled a stellar 14-4 record with the organization while appearing in more title bouts (nine) than any fighter in its history. The 31-year-old Hard Knocks 365 representative last competed at Bellator 192 on Jan. 20, when he pistol whipped Goiti Yamauchi to a unanimous decision across three rounds. Scores were 30-26, 30-26 and 30-25. Wins over Marcin Held, Rick Hawn and former Ultimate Fighting Championship titleholders Benson Henderson and Eddie Alvarez buoy the Chandler resume. He was an NCAA All-American at the University of Missouri, where he captained the wrestling team for three seasons.

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Editor’s note: Greg Jones is a three-time Division I national champion wrestler out of West Virginia University. Today, he trains some of MMA’s top stars in Robbie Lawler, Michael Chandler, Volkan Oezdemir, Gilbert Burns, Logan Storley, Steven Mowry, and numerous others at Florida’s Hard Knocks 365. Following is his unique insight and knowledge as it applies to the mental aspect of combat. 


“The coward and the hero… they feel the same. It’s what they do that makes them different.” – Cus D’Amato

There is a broad misconception among developing athletes that being nervous prior to competition or before pursuing a given task is a bad thing.

We all have had thoughts of “What is wrong with me?” or we allow the negative energy to control our mind and body, leading to a negative experience. Emotions don’t define you. We define how they affect us, so we must embrace these feelings and emotions.

Realize this: It is simply a natural response that your body is producing. It is nothing more than a physical manifestation of you preparing to do something great, something awesome, and it’s the same feeling you get before every competition, big or small. So do not shy away from it. In fact, embrace it. Allow it to empower you.

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MMA Today recently caught up with Viktor Pesta who now plies his trade in the Fight Nights Globalpromotion. Pesta talked about why he believes he struggled in the UFC, his training situation, contract details and future ambitions.

Pesta feels that the call to the big show came way too early for him. He began training only five years prior to joining the UFC and unlike the majority of fighters on the roster he didn’t have a combat sports background to build upon.

There are guys who in the UFC quicker than five years but they maybe did wrestling their whole life. I didn’t do anything, just five years of training and that was it.

Another reason Pesta believes that he didn’t fully show his potential in the UFC was his training situation. He began training at a small gym in his native Czech Republic and even set up a website www.letmebeyoursparringpartner.com in order to find opportunities to train in more optimal conditions. Having spent time in AllStars in Sweden, Pesta found out the importance of training with people your own size.

“They don’t really have heavyweights. I figured it out after my fight with Derrick Lewis because he was such a big guy and I only trained with light-heavyweights in Sweden.”

Pesta also ventured to California to train with Alliance MMA, however, he ran into a similar problem – not enough sparring partners of his own size. Luckily, however, he did meet Neil Melanson there who was heading to Blackzilians. Melanson recommended Pesta to join him, as the Florida-based team would be a better fit for him due to the number of heavyweights who train there.

Having linked up Henri Hooft and the HardKnocks 365 team in Florida, Pesta believes that he has improved a lot in the last two years. He is now able to train with people his own size including heavyweights such as Matt Mitrione, Stefan Struve and Steve Mowry. As well as light-heavyweights Volkan Oezdemir and Linton Vassell. Although his results in the UFC may not have shown his improvement, Pesta has an explanation for that.

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With a new four-fight Bellator MMA contract in hand, Dominic Mazzotta (13-2) has a date set for his next fight, as “The Honey Badger” is set to face Josh Sampo (11-5) at Bellator 197 in St. Charles, Missouri.

Mazzotta announced the bout in a FloCombat interview with James Lynch.

The bout will be Mazzotta’s third with the promotion, as he bounced back from a knockout loss against A.J. McKee at Bellator 178 to earn a win over Matt Lozano at Bellator 186 in Pennsylvania in November.

The Pittsburgh area native has recently made some big moves in his life, including getting married in Las Vegas last month and moving to Florida to train at the Hard Knocks 365 gym.

Mazzotta entered Bellator last year as one of the hottest prospects in the sport, riding a nine-fight winning streak with big wins at both featherweight and bantamweight.

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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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Steve Mowry (3-0 MMA) is a young heavyweight in age (25-years-old) and experience (only 3-0 as a professional). Mowry has a lot of hype behind him with his tall build at 6’9″. MMA Today had the pleasure to talk to the prospect, Mowry about his future and many other facets.

First of all, How did you get into MMA? Do you have a background in any other sports?
I had heard about a sport where everything was legal and had seen commercials for UFC and TUF on TV but I got into it when I had read about it in a magazine. At that moment I knew it was something I wanted to do and be successful at.

Is MMA your full-time job or are you working somewhere else as well?
I train full-time 2-3 times a day but I also teach kickboxing three times a week and work part-time security on the weekends.

What would be your favorite striking technique and grappling technique?
My favorite striking technique is the uppercut. My favorite grappling technique is the rear-naked-choke.

You train out of Hard Knocks 365, how were you introduced to the camp? Who are some of your main training partners? You trained with the Blackzilians in the past, correct?
Yes I joined The Blackzilians in 2016. The move to Hard Knocks 365 was the next logical step. When Henri [Hooft] and Greg [Jones] left the Blackzilians, I followed them. My main training partners are Linton Vassell, Stefan Struve, Viktor Pesta, and Volkan Oezdemir.