UFC Austin: Fights to make

All the best, most interesting, and unquestionably coolest fights the UFC should book, following their latest event in Austin, TX. UFC Austin got back to a little classic Fight Night magic for the UFC. A card packed with action bouts, top to bottom, that delivered a ton of first round finishes and pretty much nothing in the way of truly boring MMA. New faces in Curtis Millender and Geoff Neal got strong wins, while Derrick Lewis and Donald Cerrone came up big as mild underdog veterans.
And with that much action in the offering, it’s on the UFC to ride the momentum and book some more cool action fights. To help them do that, I’ll be using the classic Silva/Shelby model of old. That means pitting winners against winners, losers against losers, and similarly tenured talent against one another. If you’d like to take your own shot at some MMA matchmaking, leave a comment below starting, “I’m going to knock it out of the box.” I’ll pick one response to join me for next week’s card.
This week’s winner is BE reader @P4PMMA:
Hey, I’m Ryan Tardiff, a queer ID’ed person (him or they are both fine) currently making Greensboro, NC my home and attending Guilford College as a Peace and Conflict Studies major making my MMA fandom a little puzzling for many. That said, I’ve been a fan for years now and excited to get it on the action here. I wish I could say I have a thrilling MMA fandom origin story but just a long time casual turned more hardcore in the last 4-5 years little by little. My Twitter handle, as well as my tag here on Bloody Elbow is @P4PMMA.
DONALD CERRONE
Ryan – Cerrone, of course, is known for ‘anytime, anywhere’. Having gotten back on the horse with his first win in 4 tries, Cerrone is back into the mix at Welterweight – if not too close to that always a-little-too-high height of true title contention. The possibilities I’m seeing are the streaking Santiago Ponzinibbio – who just, quite frankly, seems too big and too heavy a hitter for a guy who is perpetually a little undersized for the division in Cerrone – Neil Magny, which is the sort of lunch pail scrap that both could work in a pinch but feels a little hollow to pick and my choice, and the man who’s been known for a while now as the guy people in the top 10 hang up the phone when offered: Kamaru Usman. Any time, any place? Seems like a natural.
Zane – Cerrone is in that weird spot where I both feel like he’s not about to go on another run at welterweight, but I also don’t see any reason to match him up easy. I wouldn’t be opposed to the Usman idea, especially since Kamaru has trouble getting opponents (apparently), but I feel like there’s got to be more fun action-driven fights for a scrapper who will just take on whoever. I’d love to see Cerrone take on Dong Hyun Kim. Kim’s wildly unstructured striking and massive size should make for a fun test for Cerrone’s precision and problems with pressure.
YANCY MEDEIROS
Ryan – On one hand, I’m upset that my ‘conquered consecutive Cowboys’ alliteration will go to waste. On the other? Yancy was pretty game for someone who got KO’d in the first round and has looked good in his stint at welterweight. But a loss is a loss and this is undoubtedly a bit of a setback to Mederois’ momentum. The way forward could go a few different ways – facing Mike Perry, win or lose next week, seems like a way forward for another big time scrapper. On the other hand, trying his hand at another long-time vet of the WW top 10 top ten, Tarec Saffedine, could be a nice way to look to get back into the win column or re-assert Saffedine as a gamer. Both look good on paper, but Li Jingliang, who lost last week to Jake Matthews is nicely in the middle – a reasonable challenge, a young guy with potential, someone in the right locale, on the right card could take up a nice main card slot and would prove something on either side for the winner.
Zane – Yancy ran hard up against the fact that, when push comes to shove, he’s just not an elite technical striker. He’s still a tough dude with solid timing and a lot of heart, but once Cerrone figured out his timing, he turned the tide in a hurry. A good test to see what Medeiros could take away from that would definitely be Li Jingliang, with his slowly adaptive boxing game. But it could also be Tim Means, who has reasons to feel he deserves another solid action fight after ending up on the wrong side of a decision to Sergio Moraes. Means is technical, but tends to be predictable on defense. Another chance for Medeiros to put together a run, or fall further back into the deep waters at 170.
DERRICK LEWIS
Ryan – It wasn’t that pretty and as the fight went on, he looked more and more tired… but you can’t say he isn’t always dangerous, even when he’s clearly over-matched against better-rounded opponents. He was supposed to fight Werdum once before, so it’d make a lot of sense to give him the winner of Werdum/Volkov. I’d rather, however, that we revisit a fight that people were calling for a year or so ago, when both ‘The Black Beast’ and ‘The Predator’ Francis Ngannou were on the rise. Now that both have had a few setbacks, it could be seen as a little less sexy but when it comes to heavyweight action between two heavy hitters, I bet it’d still draw plenty of eyeballs.
Zane – I like the Ngannou fight even more after this performance from Lewis, to be honest. Lewis’ willingness to mix in some wrestling, his ability to put together a big flurry late, they all suggest a fighter who could compete for more than just one round with Ngannou’s physicality. And beyond that, both men have the kind of technical gaps that could put fans on the edge of their seat, anticipating the KO. Make the fight while the making is good. Francis Ngannou vs. Derrick Lewis.
MARCIN TYBURA
Ryan – Tybura proved himself well rounded and game but just doesn’t seem to have the dynamism to keep up with anyone with an elite level ability, like Lewis’ power or Werdum’s submissions in the fight before. He could try and prove me wrong, as he faces fellow name in the top 10 heavyweight fringe Aleksei Oleinik.
Zane – Unfortunately for Tybura, the division is pretty firmly booked around him. He could wait for Oliynyk & Albini to fight and take on the loser of that, but beyond needing to recover from a KO, he’s probably just better off taking whatever fight he can get as soon as he can get it. If Stefan Struve beats Arlovski, Tybura/Struve would be a good win/loss match, but I’ll say go ahead and book Tybura against Walt Harris. It’s a big step back, rankings wise, but Tybura’s ranking spot is built entirely off wins over Pesta, Henrique, and Arlovski. A fight against Harris, coming off his recent DQ over Mark Godbeer is a fun fight on paper and would be a good way to bounce back from two straight losses, or give Harris another chance to prove he could actually make some kind of run.
JAMES VICK
Ryan – I was interested in the idea of Vick getting back in there quick to be the replacement opponent for Beneil Dariush and attempt to avenge his only career loss, something that generally would be a tough booking to get but given the need for a replacement could have worked out well but the dislocated pinky is probably enough reason he can’t get a turnaround so quick. As such, if he’s going to continue to climb the ranks, it makes sense to put him in there with the winner of Iaquinta/Felder in a few weeks, to provide a slightly stiffer test.
Zane – Depending on how badly Vick’s hand is hurt, I’d love to see him jump in against Dariush at UFC 222. Assuming that doesn’t happen, however, Vick has to get a solid elite level booking. I don’t know if Kevin Lee would take the fight, but if he would, now is the time. Vick looked like his most technical self out there, but still got taken down and put into some rough grappling spots. If Lee can do that, he has a great chance of getting more done than Trinaldo. If not, Vick’s command of range could be a huge problem for Lee’s still less-than-fluid boxing. If all that fails, the winner of Pettis/Chiesa would be solid, especially since Chiesa would be a shot at some TUF revenge.
CURTIS MILLENDER
Ryan – Curtis Milender looked good tagging Alves right and left. But as with many impressive strikers before him the next step is to face a good grappler. I am thinking Randy Brown could be a fun pairing of up and comers with upward potential.
Zane – He dialed himself up one hell of a legit welterweight win in his debut, now it’s a question of whether or not the UFC keeps him in action striking matches or tests the rest of his game. A fight with Luke Jumeau would be a solid power striking affair, and Shinsho Anzai could test his wrestling, but I like a bout with Niko Price more. Price’s mix of single power shots, porous defense, and strong sub-hunting ability should make for an interesting battle. Randy Brown would also be a matchup of ridiculously stretched out welterweights that feels like it’ll need to happen sooner or later.
BRANDON DAVIS
Ryan – Brandon Davis had a fun, go-forward war. You know who else at Featherweight could give him a higher level version of that? Former WSOF champ Rick Glenn. It might be too much too soon but I think it’d be useful to see if Davis is right when he calls his initial UFC loss a fluke and Glenn has mostly had a hard road thus far in the UFC and could use a little bit of a bounce back, if it wasn’t.
Zane – As an action fighter, Davis is fun, but he’s just a little too stationary for me to feel like he should get rushed into tougher veteran fights. Bochniak picked him off with a pretty simple approach, and Peterson didn’t show anything like it to suggest Davis had solved the problem. To that end, I’d love to see Brandon Davis vs. Cory Sandhagen. Sandhagen isn’t the best athlete, but his stick and move combination style and use of angles and body work should be big problems for Davis. A fight against Mads Burnell after his controlling win over Mike Santiago would also be an interesting change of pace.
SAGE NORTHCUTT
Ryan – Sage Northcutt is still young but it feels like he’s been around for longer. The hype cycle has cooled a little and his performance didn’t do a lot to re-raise his stock. Part of me wants to match him up with someone on the rise to give shine to someone on the come up like Gregor Gillespie or even David Teymur, part of me wants to give him a solid vet like Scott ‘Hot Sauce’ Holtzman but ultimately, if just as a matter of making an interesting twist, I’m going to go winner/loser and give him Jim Miller. It’s one of those fights that will catch people’s eye and either prove Sage has something or provide a nice Cinderella story win for Miller. Either way, it gives the UFC something to hold on to.
Zane – This Northcutt vs. Miller idea is honestly decent. Miller hasn’t looked consistent at all lately. Technically he should absolutely beat a still way-too-hittable Northcutt, but realistically, he may just not. Still, I think Northcutt’s problems defensively are too big to throw at veteran opposition. It wasn’t that long ago that Mickey Gall found his chin and Thibault Gouti didn’t have any less trouble. Marc Diakiese called Northcutt out, and I don’t mind that fight, just because DIakiese is an amazingly unstructured striker, even if he should still win. The fight would be all wild athletic potential for as long as it lasts. Most realistically Sage should still be fighting guys like Matt Frevola and Claudio Puelles, who are less likely to make him pay at every turn for hanging his chin out. But, what the hell, give Diakiese the chance, make the fun fight. It’s either that or him in another softball fight nobody cares about outside Sage fans.
CARLOS DIEGO FERREIRA
Ryan – Cesar Diego Ferreira called out Abel Trujillo. There’s an argument that he could fight a fellow mid-tier lightweight coming off a win like Nick Hein or even a kid on the rise like Oliver Aubin-Mercier but the Abel fight made sense a few years ago and still makes plenty of sense now. I always like for the matchmakers to show that call outs lead to fights, if just to get a few less ‘whoever they want to put against me’ responses. So… Ferriera vs Trujillo is my fight to make.
Zane – No idea why Ferreira called Trujillo out. Maybe he just hasn’t paid attention to the UFC since 2015, and thought he’d go for a guy who looked like a tough fight back then. But Trujillo’s dropped two straight, listless fights, and Ferreira just dusted a pretty reasonable prospect. I’d be down to see him fight someone like Gregor Gillespie or David Teymur, really make Ferreira earn his way back into the division. Between them, Gillespie would be the more interesting style matchup. Another relentless fighter, but this one with a heavy wrestling game.
OTHER BOUTS: Trinaldo vs. C. Oliveira, T. Alves vs. Saffiedine, Peterson vs. Arnett, Gordon vs. Klose, Neal vs. Kenan, R. Sanchez vs. Schnell, J. Sanchez vs. Lausa, Pudilova vs. Mazany, Moras vs. Bernardo, Morono vs. R. Brown, Piechota vs. Di Chirico, Williams vs. Braga Neto
Source: bloody

Elias Theodorou to act as ‘ring boy’ at Invicta FC 28

Considering he refers to himself as “The Mane Event”, Elias Theodorou’s next venture probably isn’t all that surprising.

The finely-coiffed UFC middleweight announced Monday on The MMA Hour that he has been recruited to act as a “ring boy” for Invicta FC 28, which takes place at the Union Event Center in Salt Lake City on March 24.

You read that right: Theodorou will soon be following in the footsteps of world famous Octagon girls like Arianny Celeste and Brittney Palmer, proudly holding a number over his head to let the fans know what time it is.

“Mixed martial arts has been at the forefront of equality in many different ways,” Theodorou told Ariel Helwani. “You can see in regards to women being on top of pay-per-views and selling millions and also now myself included as the first ring boy.”

Fortunately for Theodorou, he won’t be completely unprepared as he gets ready to strut his stuff cageside. Earlier this month, the 29-year-old Canadian made his ring boy debut at a small show in Montreal, an event that will be uploaded to his soon-to-be-launched YouTube channel.

The next time he shows out, it will be broadcast live to a much larger audience on the UFC’s Fight Pass service. With added exposure comes benefits, including the chance to represent several sponsors that would typically be forbidden for a UFC fighter appearing on one of their shows.

When Theodorou circles the Invicta cage, he won’t be restricted to just wearing Reebok.

“I’ve talked to (Invicta FC president) Shannon (Knapp) and I will be allowed to put all my sponsors on my shorts and beyond that all the local sponsors that I have like Fuel Foods, and HPN, which I’m going to be doing a campaign for, essentially show and performance, because I’m hoping to fight in April in Atlantic City if all goes well,” Theodorou said. “I’m going to be ring boy ready and then fight ready in just a couple of months.

“And more importantly, I have really large brands that are going to be jumping in. I’m the world ambassador for Mattel and I work with them promoting Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em robots and they also love the whole idea of the equality and the openness to actually put yourself in this position. And I’m actually going to be partnering, if all goes well, with Barbie for ring boy and I will be ‘Man-Bun Ken’.”

As for who Theodorou would like to fight in Atlantic City on April 21, he named middleweight veteran Thales Leites as his ideal opponent. In his most recent fight, Theodorou defeated Dan Kelly by unanimous decision to improve his UFC record to 6-2.

Theodorou is no stranger to taking advantage of opportunities outside of the Octagon. He also works as a global ambassador for Pert, will soon produce and star in a movie in which he plays a fighter who is forced to transition from MMA to eSports, and he and girlfriend Max Altamuro were contestants on the Canadian version of The Amazing Race back in 2015.

With so many pigs on the iron, it’s a wonder that “The Spartan” still finds time to train, but he insisted that fighting remains his passion even as he works to secure his future.

“I love mixed martial arts,” Theodorou said. “I’m a huge believer in the fighter’s journey, I love traveling and training. My last fight was in Australia. I’ve been to Thailand and Brazil and everywhere in between, learning and growing. You only live once, to quote the immortal words of Drake, but I want to build my brand beyond fighting because this is a platform and this is an opportunity and yours truly doesn’t want to get hit in the head forever.”

Source: mmafighting

Tom Duquesnoy vs. Terrion Ware set for UFC London

Bantamweight prospect Tom Duquesnoy will face Terrion Ware at UFC London in March. A pair of bantamweights looking to get back in the win column will square off in the UFC’s return to London, England.
On Monday, the UFC announced that Tom Duquesnoy will take on Terrion Ware on Saturday, March 17th. The entire card will stream live on UFC Fight Pass, with a main card start time of 3 PM ET/12 PM PT.
Duquesnoy (15-2, 1 NC) suffered a split decision loss vs. Cody Stamann back at UFC 216. The Frenchman came into the UFC with plenty of hype behind him as a potential title contender, having won and defended the BAMMA bantamweight and featherweight belts before getting the big call-up. His Octagon debut saw him TKO Patrick Williams last April.
Ware (17-6) is still in search of his first UFC win, and this fight may be his last chance to get one. “Flash” debuted on short notice against Cody Stamann, falling short by unanimous decision. In an entertaining battle vs. Dana White’s Contender Series signing Sean O’Malley, Ware also was on the wrong end of the judges’ scorecards.
UFC Fight Night: London is headlined by a heavyweight bout between former UFC champion Fabricio Werdum and former Bellator champion Alexander Volkov.
Source: bloody

Missed Fists: Check out the world’s smallest flyweight at Titan FC, and more

Welcome to the latest edition of Missed Fists where Jed Meshew and Alexander K. Lee shine a light on fights from across the globe that may have been overlooked in these hectic times where it seems like there’s an MMA show every other day.

This past week, there were almost too many events to count and that’s not even including the major league offerings from Bellator and the UFC. We’ve managed to narrow our list of sleeper fights down to three, one each from Alaska Fighting Championship, Absolut Championship Berkut, and Titan Fighting Championship.

AL: Up first, we head to the outer reaches of the United States to check in on what’s quickly becoming one of my favorite regional promotions, the AFC. Last Friday, the co-main event of AFC 137 featured undefeated lightweight Patrik White taking on Tyson Duckworth, who was making his professional debut. Duckworth acquitted himself well considering this was his first pro bout and White showed him the proper respect, resulting in a competitive start to this one.

Tyson Duckworth vs. Patrik White

JM: If your idea of “proper respect” is hacking off a man’s leg with 300 chopping low kicks then I’d hate to discover what you consider disrespectful.

Seriously, White chewed up Duckworth’s lead leg, dropping him a half dozen times over the back half of the fight. Duckworth was certainly game but the referee should have stopped that fight long before he finally saw enough.

AL: Agreed. I’d make a crack that this is just the sort of “high-level” officiating you see at the regional level, but considering some of the blunders we regularly see even in the UFC and Bellator, it would be unfair. Duckworth was able to match White’s pace and output in Round 1, but simply fell prey to an opponent with more experience and more educated striking. Credit to him for wanting to tough it out and to White for improving to 5-0.

I’d also recommend that readers check out Anchorage’s own Maurice Mitchell, an Alpha Male product who is now 11-1 after taking out Jordan Mackin in the main event. You can watch a replay of his and White’s impressive performances on the UFC’s Fight Pass service.

JM: Let’s move on to a promotion that usually provides some a least a few gems worth revisiting: ACB. ACB 80 also took place on Friday and while the card was a bit of a dud with literally all 13 bouts going to decision, the second fight of the evening was a certified banger. Daniel Santos and Dukvakha Astamirov got after it for 15 minutes in one of the most action-packed fights of the weekend.

Daniel Santos vs. Dukvakha Astamirov

AL: This definitely felt like a Freaky Friday situation where the ACB, normally the home of fast and furious finishes, swapped places with the UFC, whose card in Austin, Texas on Sunday saw six fights end in the first round, one short of the UFC record.

Regardless, the fans in Krasnodar, Russia were treated to an exciting contest in which both guys came out looking good, regardless of who actually had their hand raised at the end. Astamirov reminds me a little bit of Diego Sanchez, just constantly pressuring and looking to corner Santos so he could land straight punches, and otherwise looking to take the fight to the mat.

JM: Yeah, all due credit to Astamirov. He did his level best to pull this one out, but he just didn’t have enough on the feet. Santos was jawing him over and over and had Astamirov’s face pouring blood by the second round. Still, the Russian fighter wouldn’t quit. He clearly still lacks some tools but Astamirov definitely isn’t lacking in heart.

And at only 22 years old with a 8-0 record, I’d be happy to see Santos make his way into the UFC. The flyweight division would be bolstered by a guy who seems pretty well-rounded and definitely fun to watch.

AL: If he keeps putting on performances like this one, he’s probably no more than a couple of fights away.

Readers can watch the exciting three-round battle between Santos and Astamirov above courtesy of ACB’s official YouTube channel and can also catch up on the whole event there or for free on FITE TV.

Lastly, let’s zip over to sunny Florida for Titan FC 48, which took place on Friday at the Xtreme Action Park in Fort Lauderdale.

Gustavo Balart v. Juan Puerta

AL: Before we get into the featured fight, I’ll highlight some odds and ends that need addressing. Felipe “Pipe” Vargas deserves recognition for his beautiful guillotine choke finish of Alberto Blas, a sequence that saw Blas both tap out and pass out.

Pipe is a Columbian bantamweight currently training with the American Top Team in Coconut Creek and he’s definitely one to watch after improving to 4-0 with the win over Blas.

The “odd” that has to be pointed out is the nickname of welterweight Ladarious Jackson. I would have assumed that his listed nickname on Tapology was an error or a gag, but sure enough, on the broadcast he was announced as Ladarious… “The Limitless Nuclear Bombs”… Jackson.

Where do we even start with this?

JM: Look, is it the world’s greatest nickname? No. But it’s creative and I’m a fan of any nickname so long as we don’t add another “Pitbull” to MMA.

AL: Tell me right now, is it better or worse than Jordan “I’m Gonna” Winski?

JM: Hmmm. Worse. Winski cleverly uses his own name which gives him a boost.

AL: I’m nearly certain that Jackson had three different nicknames he liked, couldn’t decide on one, and just jammed all three together. It’s the only explanation that will help me to sleep tonight.

JM: The only fight from this card I’m particularly interested in talking about was Juan Puerta knocking out Gustavo Balart. Balart was a Cuban Olympic wrestler and Puerta took his head off with a savage jump knee that literally sent Balart skidding across the canvas.

AL: I have to mention just how small Balart is, even for a flyweight. He’s billed at 4’11” and actually looks even shorter than that, especially compared to Puerta who is seven inches taller with a nine-inch reach advantage! This created an incredibly intriguing fight that saw Puerta wisely staying at range to peck away at Balart, and Balart employing the overhand right to close the distance. It was a tough fight for the Olympian, but when he got in close, the results were spectacular:

But as you mentioned, it was only a matter of time until Goliath killed David:

JM: Maybe if the UFC opens up a men’s strawweight division Balart can be the 115 lb. Yoel Romero.

AL: I think Balart might need a men’s atomweight division. He makes Demetrious Johnson look like Stefan Struve.

If you want to check out the full fight between Puerta and Balart that evoked fond memories of the UFC’s early openweight days, head over to their Fight Pass service and watch the Titan FC 48 replay.


If you know of a recent fight or event that you think may have been overlooked or a promotion that could use some attention, please let us know on Twitter @JedKMeshew and @AlexanderKLee using the hashtag #MissedFists.

Source: mmafighting

Tapped Out: Is the UFC just an aging Gen-X fad?

When the UFC made the move to FOX they were expected to bring in a whole new demographic. Instead, as ratings dwindle, it seems they’re stuck with the same core fanbase they had a decade ago. One that’s closer to 50 than they are 30. In April 2013, UFC President Dana White was ready to turn away the President of the United States.
“We couldn’t seat Obama,” White told Bloomberg.com ahead of UFC 159. “He’d have to sit on my lap.”
That the light heavyweight championship clash between then champ Jon Jones and Chael Sonnen still had tickets available for sale didn’t dissuade White from a hypothetical rebuff of POTUS. The event selling 15,227 tickets for a $2.7 million live gate two years after UFC 111 sold 17,000 for $4 million at the same Prudential Center venue in Newark, New Jersey didn’t matter too much after the fact, either.
In the following weeks, White would try to one-up himself when speaking with Manchester Evening News, claiming the UFC had surpassed soccer’s in popularity in Brazil. The sentiment validated what White had been saying for years: the UFC would overtake soccer as The World’s Sport™.
White was, after all, a soccer skills truther – exposing the global conspiracy to the Calgary Sun a year earlier.
“Can’t stand soccer,” White told the Canadian paper after the PR-savvy move to fist-bump hockey. “It’s the least-talented sport on Earth. There’s a reason three-year-olds can play soccer. When you’re playing a game when the net is that big and the score is 3-1 (and that’s a blowout) are you kidding me?”
You’re goddamn right they couldn’t have fit Obama anywhere but White’s lap at UFC 159. In a world “where everything has been so pussy-fied,” the UFC had finally burned soccer to the ground.
Violence is in our DNA.
Just bleed.

The most Gen X of sports was ill prepared for Gen X to begin aging out of relevance.
Why wouldn’t 2013 Dana White have been so dick-swingingly arrogant, though?
The UFC was still in the honeymoon period of their deal with FOX, and while ratings were down, it was possible it was more of a settling in than a frightening long-term downward trend that would carry into the early months of 2018.
It was a different time.
A simpler time.
A time when you could shoo away talk of bad ratings by blaming The Avengers’ box office power and have people take it seriously.
Truth, in the UFC’s world, has always been flexible. From the bloodsport days of single digit UFC events, where death was sold as a possible winning condition, to the long-festering lie known as “The Zuffa Myth,” fiction is fact.
And White served as the sport’s perfect pitchman. He’d say anything, and any disagreement was to side you as the other. Mild criticism of the narrative could get a media member – or fighter – blackballed.
But all was well.
There was a FOX deal.
There were big enough pay-per-view buyrates.
And most importantly, the UFC was still cool.
White was quick with an expletive in any and every interview and with the kind of bold proclamations that made headlines. Fuck soccer, the UFC was taking over. The NFL? Nobody cares outside of America. Biggest sport in the world by 2020!
This all was good enough to keep the chip on the shoulder of the sport and its fans. Meanwhile, the mainstream was curious about the emerging sport and there was always a Chuck Liddell or Brock Lesnar or Ronda Rousey or Conor McGregor to stick in the middle of your story. A shining star ready for primetime, rising from the collective muck of an ever-bloating roster.
Until there wasn’t.
And when the stars went out, what was left in the darkness was a sport that suddenly seemed far less appealing to the people aging in to its key demographic.
A Sports Business Journal study released last summer showed a three percent decline in “young viewers” from 2006 to 2016 and a jump from 34 to 49 in the median age of television viewers. While the UFC told Bloomberg the median is now actually 39, the fact remains that as the years tick by, young fans are not coming in as fast as they are aging out. This has led to situations like the UFC 221 prelims when the 50+ demographic beat the 18-49 demo by a considerable margin.
The once diverse looks of fighters had faded to dull, decidedly un-cool Reebok “fight kits,” which were already doomed with hardcore fans when the store launched by offering kits for “Giblert Melendez” and “Jacare ‘Ronaldo’ Souza.”
An increasing amount of people in the target demo were becoming socially aware while the UFC couldn’t get away from fighters — and White himself — casually tossing around homophobic and misogynistic slurs and issuing “sorry you were offended” non-apologies.
And White had become an embarrassing uncle, showing up to the holidays ready to talk about how Donald Trump is good for the country and will help fix this damned PC culture. After his appearance at the Republican National Convention, it wasn’t hard to imagine White hosting Paul Ryan and friends at a listening party where the attendees were blissfully unaware they were the machine so desperately needing to be raged against.
The most Gen X of sports was ill prepared for Gen X to begin aging out of relevance.

Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

In fairness, 2015 and 2016 were huge years for the UFC. On the backs of Conor McGregor and Ronda Rousey, the Fertitta brothers parlayed a $2 million 2001 purchase into a more than $4 billion sale to WME-IMG in 2016.
Of course, you could argue the stability of those numbers. And a 2017 without Rousey, Lesnar and McGregor led to a down year on PPV. And there’s that steady decline in the FOX numbers, which have only gotten worse over the past year as the UFC is working to establish a new broadcast rights deal.
Cormier vs. Jones 2 and Bisping vs. St. Pierre were needle movers in 2017. Outside of those two events, the UFC had an awful year on paper.
Still, White took those two events and the UFC’s cut of the McGregor vs. Mayweather boxing match, threw it in front of a funhouse mirror and called 2017 the promotion’s “biggest year ever.”
Reminder: The truth is flexible.
So, is the UFC coming off it’s biggest year ever a scant four years after turning Fantasy Obama away? Is the UFC running away with the title of the world’s most popular sport ahead of White’s 2020 prediction?
Or, are FOX ratings struggling, PPV buyrates down and stars developing with even less regularity than ever? Is the loss of interest driven by a relentlessly un-cool positioning by the power-players in the sport?
Is that why FOX is lobbing $200 million offers for TV rights when WME-IMG was expecting $450+?

“There’s obviously an audience for faceless, skilled violence that carries the UFC branding,” Patrick Wyman wrote in a recent piece at Deadspin. “It’s not a small one, either, but that audience isn’t growing in any meaningful way. Rousey and McGregor could pull viewers from the mainstream, but those viewers didn’t stick around for the rest of what the UFC was offering.”
The problem is the brand.
The UFC established itself as the power player in the industry. Try as they might via developing strong, young talent or utilizing faded stars of the previous era, Bellator hasn’t made tremendous inroads as a viable mainstream alternative in the sport.
The UFC is still the thing. And they’re a thing bogged down by a dated personality.
Tuning in to a UFC broadcast still involves being smacked in the ears by the angsty tunes of the early aughts. And the visuals aren’t much better, though the UFC has attempted some minor upgrades in the graphic departments over the past few years.
And while there’s no better advertisement for the sport than the action in the cage – which is at a higher level than ever before – the UFC constantly snuffs out chances to have gifs of the sport’s beautiful violence go viral with their heavy-handed copyright protections. It is their material, but there’s a time to know that letting gifs survive in the social media ecosystem helps people to remember what makes the sport special.
The brand did not establish itself as being compelling enough to stick around unless the personalities were of a Rousey or McGregor-ish level. And there appears to be no plan for how to capture a larger audience.
In 2018, everyone knows what the UFC is. But fewer and fewer people know why they should be invested.
Source: bloody

UFC Austin’s Cerrone: ‘Khabib, I’m coming’ for you next

Donald Cerrone called out Khabib Nurmagomedov after his knockout win at UFC Austin. The lightweight division was put on red alert last night when Donald Cerrone knocked out Yancy Medeiros at UFC Fight Night 126 and announced that he will moving back down to 155-pounds to pursue the championship.
Cerrone, 34, snapped a three-fight losing skid at the Frank Erwin Center in Austin, Texas and called out feared lightweight contender Khabib Nurmagomedov in the FS1 post-fight interview.
“I want [155 pounds]. I want to go get that belt,” Cerrone said shortly after his first-round TKO over Medeiros, per MMA Weekly’s Damon Martin. “Khabib [Nurmagomedov], I’m coming baby. I’m coming. I ain’t scared to fight you.”

“I want 155, I want that belt. @TeamKhabib, I’m coming. I ain’t scared to fight…”Raise your hand if you’re down for a Khabib vs. @cowboycerrone fight! https://t.co/tfHXmnxyW0— FOX Sports: UFC (@UFCONFOX) February 19, 2018

Nurmagomedov, 29, will look to extend his win streak to 26-0 and become the ‘undisputed’ lightweight champion when he takes on interim titleholder Tony Ferguson at UFC 223 on April 7. The proud Dagestani and Sambo world champion is widely considered one of the best grapplers in the sport and has manhandled most of his opponents.
Cerrone, who trains out of Jackson-Wink MMA academy in Albuquerque, New Mexico, has strong defensive grappling and a slick Muay Thai game, making him a threat to any grappler in the lightweight division.
The MMA veteran has spent the bulk of his career at lightweight and admits that his transition to welterweight was a tough one.
“These big old boys hit hard and they’re a lot bigger,” Cerrone said. “Like I woke up at 168 [pounds] made weight easy. I wish there was a [165 pound] weight class. UFC could we get a 165 weight class, please? Cause that would be cool.”
With that said, Cerrone has a reputation as one of the most active fighters on the UFC roster and is still open to competing at 170-pounds in the future.
“I’ll just fight whatever they tell me. They’ll call me and tell me ‘we need you at 170’ and I’ll be like OK.” I’ll take any fight. They all pay the same to me so it don’t matter what it is.”
Cerrone, a former lightweight title challenger, is currently ranked at No. 11 in the official UFC welterweight rankings.

Source: bloody

Cezar Ferreira meets Karl Roberson at UFC 224 in Brazil 

A middleweight bout between Cezar Ferreira and Karl Roberson has been added to UFC 224, sources confirmed to MMA Fighting following a report by Combate.

UFC 224 will take place at the Jeunesse Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on May 12.

Ferreira (12-6) last competed in November, when he scored a split decision victory over Nate Marquardt in Norfolk. The TUF Brazil season 1 middleweight winner has won four of his last five UFC fights.

Roberson (6-0) signed with the UFC after scoring a 15-second knockout victory at Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series last July, then finished Darren Stewart in the first round in his promotional debut.

The UFC 224 lineup currently features Vitor Belfort vs. Lyoto Machida, Davi Ramos vs. Nick Hein, Alberto Mina vs. Ramazan Emeev and Alexey Oleynik vs. Junior Albini.

Source: mmafighting

Brazilian fighter Davina Maciel will appeal loss after scary TKO at SFL

A flyweight bout between Davina Maciel and Tatiane Couto ended in controversy at Super Fight League’s event in Mumbai, India, on Sunday night.

Couto quickly dropped Maciel with a right hand, then eventually took her back and won via TKO. The whole fight lasted less than two minutes, but Couto clearly connected on at least three illegal punches to the back of the head. In fact, the referee simply stood there and watched while Maciel clearly couldn’t continue fighting.

“Brutus” Couto was declared the winner, but Maciel doesn’t think it was fair.

”They say you can’t hit the back of the head,” Maciel told MMA Fighting. “The referee was blind or he didn’t want to stop. He was standing right in front of me. She had hit me in the back of the head earlier, and then she landed more. From that moment on, I don’t remember anything.”

”I remember that we went to the ground, I tried to use my jiu-jitsu, and then I don’t remember anything that happened,” she added. “I woke up when I was on a stretcher, outside the cage. I don’t remember much of what happened. I still feel pain in my head. I went to the doctor and we did some exams and there’s nothing (wrong), but I’m feeling some pain. That’s it. Other than that, it’s all fine.”

Maciel doesn’t speak English, and neither does anyone from her team in India. She entered the cage with a 6-2 record, and now worries that she will return to Brazil with a defeat that she doesn’t feel is right.

”They should have stopped the fight,” Maciel said. “I don’t want to cause any problem to the promotion, but they should have saw it right there.”

The fight starts at the 46:00 mark on this stream.

Source: mmafighting

McGregor and Holloway taunt each other on social media

Conor McGregor reminisces over his victory over Max Holloway, ‘Blessed’ fires back. It’s been almost five years since Conor McGregor and Max Holloway locked horns in the Octagon at UFC Fight Night 26, and ‘The Notorious’ wanted to remind fans of his dominant decision victory at the TD Garden in Boston.
McGregor, the current lightweight champion, was matched up against Holloway in his second fight under the UFC banner and tore his ACL at some point in the second round.
‘The Notorious’ bragged about beating ‘Blessed’ after suffering a career-threatening injury and mocked the ‘young’ Hawaiian in an Instagram post.

This was just moments after I tore my ACL in a fight in Boston Massachusetts. It was when I faced off against the current featherweight champion Max Holloway, who I dismantled before and after this ligament tear, to win a lopsided victory. It was father against son in there that night in just my second UFC bout. Young Max is a hell of a fighter, I wonder what the future holds for my young Uce. Ligaments are needed in a fight definitely. Some can fight on however, where as some can not. I always think there are moments in your career that can make you or break you. I have had many in my storied career and this was most certainly one of them. God bless. Boston Strong A post shared by Conor McGregor Official (@thenotoriousmma) on Feb 16, 2018 at 5:59pm PST

Holloway, who fought McGregor as an aspiring 21-year-old featherweight contender, is now the reigning 145-pound champion, having beat Jose Aldo in back-to-back fights last year.
The now 26-year-old responded to McGregor’s Instagram post in a sarcastic tone and mocked the Irishman for having never defended a title.

This was just moments after I dabbed in the octagon with my son after a fight in Detroit Michigan. It was when I faced off against the former featherweight champ and legend Jose Aldo who I stopped for the second time. It was a great legend against me in there that night in just my first title defense. Aldo is a hell of a fighter, I wonder what the future holds for my Brazilian brother. Getting paid is needed in a fight definitely. Some can find the motivation to defend no matter what however where as some can not. I always think there is a moment in your career that make you a true champion. It’s when you find the motivation to keep earning what you already have, to defend. I have had one in my blessed career and this was most certainly the first of many #blessedera A post shared by Max Holloway (@blessedmma) on Feb 17, 2018 at 5:10pm PST

Although McGregor is still listed as the official champ, it’s expected that the UFC will strip him of the belt in the lead-up to UFC 223, which features a highly anticipated championship bout between Tony Ferguson and Khabib Nurmagomedov on April 7.
McGregor’s recent digs at Holloway on social media are probably a way to gauge fan interest in a potential rematch, as the SBG Ireland standout says he has a few opponents in mind for his UFC return.
Holloway, who trains out of Gracie Technics in Honolulu, recently pulled out of his scheduled featherweight title defense against Frankie Edgar at UFC 222 due to injury. Edgar, the former lightweight titleholder, will now face top contender Brian Ortega in the new main event. The PPV takes place next month, March 3 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

Source: bloody

Tom Duquesnoy vs. Terrion Ware set for UFC London 

Blue-chip European prospect Tom Duquesnoy will look to bounce back from his first UFC loss when he meets Terrion Ware at UFC Fight Night 127 in London on March 17.

The UFC announced the fight on Monday morning.

After marking his promotional debut with a second-round TKO finish of Patrick Williams at UFC on FOX 24, “Fire Kid” was bested over three rounds when he clashed with another promising bantamweight, Cody Stamann, at UFC 216. The loss to Stamann snapped a 12-fight win streak for the French fighter.

Duquesnoy (15-2) was snapped up by the UFC after rising to prominence on the European scene with BAMMA. He claimed both the promotion’s featherweight and bantamweight titles before he put pen to paper with the UFC.

Ware (17-6) has provided litmus tests for two exciting bantamweights since signing for the UFC. Despite losing decisions to Stamann and DWTNCS standout Sean O’Malley, “Flash” has showcased some stellar boxing attributes as well as a granite chin.

Source: mmafighting