DALLAS – At UFC 211 workouts, Joanna Jedrzeczyk discusses the difference between this fight and the last time she was in Dallas, her opponent, and more.
Both fighters were given front-office jobs by former UFC owners Zuffa as inducements to give up fighting and protect their legacies. But both were subjected to new owner WME-IMG’s job cuts, as they were let go from their positions late last year.
With the idea both fighters could return to action on the table, speculation soon turned to whether the former champions could find a home in Bellator, which has garnered big television ratings in recent years by matching legends of the past against one another.
On a Tuesday media call, Bellator CEO Scott Coker said the company has not yet talked to either Liddell, the former UFC light heavyweight titleholder, or Hughes, his welterweight counterpart.
“We have not talked to either athlete, so, right now I’m really focused on this event coming up in England, this is going to be an exciting week for us coming up with the festivities and the big fights at Wembley. Then my focus really is on New York after that.”
That’s not to say the door is slammed on the idea, however. Coker said that once Bellator gets through its upcoming stretch with major events in London and New York, they’ll have a chat with the two competitors.
“At some point, I’m sure we’ll talk and we’ll just hear each other out and see if there’s anything that can be done, but really, it hasn’t been on our radar, yet.”
In the meantime, the headliners on the next Bellator event both say they’d welcome Hughes and Liddell into the company. Paul Daley, who meets Rory MacDonald in the main event of Bellator 179 on May 19, says he wouldn’t mind fighting Hughes.
“Chuck’s a legendary fighter, produced some high-level knockouts, great character for the sport of mixed martial arts,” Daley said. “And Matt Hughes was a consistently dominant champion. It would be great to have two legends back in the sport, in particular, Matt Hughes, you know, he’s in my division, it would be great to get in there and fight against a legend. it would be great to have them both back and even better if its in Bellator.”
For his part, MacDonald would also like to see them in the company. But he’d prefer to see Liddell and Hughes fight their contemporaries, rather than compete against current top names.
“I think Bellator has done a fantastic job in bringing in these legendary fighters and matching them up against each other,” MacDonald said. “I think it’s good for the legendary fighters to come in and stay busy and do what they love without having to come in against the young, dangerous guys, so I like it, the fans like it, it really works. I’d like to see more of the old-school guys come back.”
Nate Diaz says he was amused by the UFC’s offer to fight Alvarez earlier this year. UFC fan favorite Nate Diaz just doesn’t ‘give a f—ck’.
The Stockton local blasted the UFC in a series of interviews, turning his nose up at an opportunity to fight Tony Ferguson for the interim ‘fake’ lightweight title and slamming the promotion for not making him one of the UFC’s flagship stars.
But Diaz didn’t stop there. The former lightweight title challenger ripped the UFC for offering him a fight against former 155-pound champion Eddie Alvarez, claiming that he has no interest in fighting the man that just got ‘melted’ by Conor McGregor at UFC 205.
Diaz did have an altercation with Alvarez in 2015 in Mexico City, but says the thought of fighting him in 2017 is laughable.
“They texted me about the Eddie Alvarez fight,” Diaz to Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour, per MMA Fighting’s Marc Raimondi. “And I’m just like pshht. Eddie Alvarez had his chance. Remember when I seen him in Mexico and I called him out? I was like I want to fight him the next day.”
“I just laughed,” Diaz said. “‘Do you want the Eddie Alvarez fight?’ How dare you. He just got melted by the guy I just beat up. He just got plumbed by Conor and I just beat Conor’s ass. I just laughed at them, like ‘Get the f-ck out of here, call me with some real sh-t.’”
The Cesar Gracie Jiu-Jitsu black belt says Alvarez had his chance at UFC 188 in Mexico City, claiming that a real fighter would have been willing to throw down in the heat of the moment. Alvarez, though, was busy preparing for Diaz’ teammate Gilbert Melendez, who he beat via split decision on the main card.
“You had your chance,” Diaz said of Alvarez. “That’s not a fighter. You’re not a fighter. … You didn’t want the fight. You had your chance.”
Alvarez, 33, overwhelmed and battered Rafael dos Anjos to win the lightweight strap last year but lost the belt in his first title defense against McGregor. The former two-time Bellator 155-pound champion is scheduled to take on Dustin Poirier this Saturday at UFC 211.
Diaz, 32, is the only fighter to beat McGregor in the UFC, finishing the Irishman with a rear-naked choke at UFC 196 but losing via majority decision in the blockbuster rematch at UFC 202. The Californian hasn’t fought since the welterweight rematch and seems happy to sit on the sidelines until the UFC offers him a worthy opponent.
In the fourth episode of UFC 211 Embedded, Joanna Jedrzejczyk and Jessica Andrade run into each other in the fighter hotel, Stipe Miocic plays the card game euchre with his team, Junior dos Santos stays focused, and Yair Rodriguez discusses not wanting to make a name off Frankie Edgar.
Zane Simon & Connor Ruebusch are here to give you all the ins, outs, ups, and downs of this week’s UFC event in Dallas Texas. We’ll have picks and odds for every fight from Stipe Miocic vs. Junior dos Santos down to Joachim Christensen vs. Gazhimurad Antigulov. The UFC is putting on a spectacular card this week. In a year plagued by lack of excitement, UFC 211 may not supercharge the causal fanbase, but it promises to be a fantastic event for the diehards. Stipe Miocic vs. Junior dos Santos 2 headlines alongside the strawweight title fight as Joanna Jedrzejczyk puts her title on the line against Jessica Andrade. Add in Frankie Edgar vs. Yair Rodriguez, Eddie Alvarez vs. Dustin Poirier, and Demian Maia vs. Jorge Masvidal and it may all actually be too much.
As always, if you enjoyed the show, give us a “like” over on YouTube. And while you’re there, subscribe to your channel, MMANATIONDOTCOM. That way you’ll always be among the first to get the latest BE shows, interviews, and analysis.
If you’re just here for the audio, you can find that on SoundCloud and iTunes.
Here’s a look at the UFC 211 card as it stands right now:
PPV CARDStipe Miocic vs. Junior dos SantosJoanna Jedrzejczyk vs. Jessica AndradeDemian Maia vs. Jorge MasvidalFrankie Egar vs. Yair RodriguezKrzysztof Jotko vs. Dave Branch
FX PRELIMSEddie Alvarez vs. Dustin PoirierChas Skelly vs. Jason KnightJared Gordon vs. Michel QuinonesMarco Polo Reyes vs. James Vick
FIGHT PASS PRELIMSJessica Aguilar vs. Cortney CaseyChase Sherman vs. Rashad CoulterGabriel Benitez vs. Enrique BarzolaJoachim Christensen vs. Gadzhimurad Antiguolv
Dana White gives an update on McGregor-Mayweather and says ‘The Notorious’ wants to fight twice in 2017. Good news for Conor McGregor fans and the UFC: The Irishman wants to fight twice this year, per UFC head promoter Dana White.
McGregor hasn’t fought since he beat Eddie Alvarez to win the lightweight title last year, opting to pursue a boxing megafight against Floyd Mayweather Jr. and take some time off for the arrival of his baby boy, Conor McGregor Jr.
According to White, Mayweather vs. McGregor, which was targeted for September 16, lost its date to Canelo Alvarez vs Gennady Golovkin and the UFC president says there is no longer a ‘targeted date’ for the mega money bout.
“We’re not even that far along in the [McGregor-Mayweather] process,” White said on a recent appearance on ESPN’s SportsCenter (h/t Patrick McCarry of SportsJoe). “So I guess I don’t have to worry about the date any more.”
Although negotiations between McGregor and Mayweather may have stalled, White revealed that the UFC lightweight champion is hungry to return to competition this year and wants to fight twice.
“Conor wants to fight,” he said. “Conor wants to fight Floyd, Conor wants to fight twice this year, so we’ll just have to see how this thing plays out.”
The SBG Ireland product sent out a retweet of White’s statement shortly after.
Dana White: Conor McGregor wants to fight twice this yearhttps://t.co/zMQ3EkEb2c pic.twitter.com/gA3jRCDSaf— TheMacLife (@Maclifeofficial) May 10, 2017
If the potential bout between McGregor and Mayweather is pushed back to October/November, it’s going to be a tight squeeze for The Notorious to return to the UFC by the end of the year.
If the Mayweather fight falls through, expect McGregor to defend his lightweight strap against Tony Ferguson or Khabib Nurmagomedov.
Wilson Reis wants a quick turnaround.
“I’m already training twice a day to stay in shape and stay active,” Reis told MMA Fighting. “I’ll go back to the United States later this month, so I’d have enough time for a full camp there. I’d really love to fight close to home on July 29.”
Reis had two opponents in mind: Tim Elliot, who defeated Louis Smolka on the same night he faced “Mighty Mouse”, is no longer available, as he replaced injured Joseph Benavidez against Ben Nguyen. His second option is Ray Borg, who recently beat Jussier Formiga in Fortaleza, Brazil.
The Brazilian flyweight is not the type of fighter that calls people out, and explains why he’s suggesting a fight with Borg.
“I’d like to fight him because of his position in the rankings,” said the 32-year-old Brazilian. “He’s coming off good wins, and a win over him would put me in a good position.”
Reis has two fights left in his current contract with the UFC, and doesn’t want to waste any time wondering what he has to do in order to guarantee another shot at the flyweight championship.
“I don’t want to worry about a title shot now,” Reis said. “I wanted it, I got it, but didn’t win the belt. Obviously, winning two or three fights can get me up there again, but I won’t worry about it now. I want to evolve and get good wins.”
Take a deep look into the televised prelims of UFC 211, headlined by a highly anticipated lightweight clash between former Bellator and UFC champion Eddie Alvarez squaring off with hard-hitting Dustin Poirier. It isn’t too difficult to see just how deep UFC 211 is. You know the main card has to be exceptional when Eddie Alvarez and Dustin Poirier aren’t on the main card. Not only is that a contest that could easily headline a Fight Night card, Alvarez headlined the one of the biggest cards in UFC history in his last contest. Granted, he largely has Connor McGregor to thank for that, but Alvarez deserves some sort of credit. Don’t overlook Chas Skelly and Jason Knight either. They aren’t as well known as Alvarez or Poirier, but they tend to be just as entertaining.
I realize that there are four contests on the FX prelims, but the Jared Gordon-Michael Quinones preview was released in yesterday’s preview. Thanks to a hand injury to Henry Cejudo, he was forced to pull out of his contest with Sergio Pettis, shuffling the card. Krzysztof Jotko and Dave Branch was moved from the televised prelims to the main card with Gordon and Quinones being moved into its current position on the prelims from the Fight Pass preview.
The televised prelims air on FX at 8:00 PM ET/5:00 PM PT on Saturday.
Eddie Alvarez (28-5) vs. Dustin Poirier (21-5), Lightweight
From headlining the UFC’s first trip to Madison Square Garden opposite McGregor to closing out the prelims. Quite the fall for Alvarez. Regardless, Alvarez and Poirier are two of the most notable action fighters at 155, making this a wet dream for many fans.
Given how easily McGregor handled Alvarez, there are questions of whether Alvarez is on the decline. Though is it a fair question to ask given the mileage on Alvarez’s body, McGregor was a stylistic nightmare for the former champion, owning a five-inch reach advantage and knowing how to use it. Poirier will still have the advantage there, though only by three inches while not using his outside striking as effectively as our current champion. In fact, both competitors tend to stay in the pocket for long periods of time. Translation: Expect this to be a slobber knocker.
Alvarez has become less inclined to slug it out in recent contests thanks to his mentoring from Mark Henry. His diverse attack and willingness to mix his strikes to all levels makes it difficult to know where Alvarez’s attack is going to come from. The added discipline hasn’t completely eliminated Alvarez’s tendency to brawl, but he picks his spots better now while relying more on the threat of the takedown than he has in the past.
Poirier has also made improvements to avoid taking so much damage, though they haven’t been quite as obvious as Alvarez’s. Then again, fans are rarely looking at what is happening with footwork which is where Poirier has made the most strides. Like Alvarez, Poirier still enjoys biting down on the mouthpiece and swinging, but also realizes that approach isn’t always going to work for him despite his above average punching power. While speed isn’t an asset Poirier possesses, that has only come into play against the superior athletes of the division. Though I won’t discount arguments that Alvarez once belonged in that category, Alvarez’s slight physical decline makes it unlikely Poirier will pay a serious price for that deficiency as he did against Michael Johnson.
The other aspects of the contest are very close. Poirier is probably slightly better in the clinch, though Alvarez has been improving in that area. Alvarez likely has a slight edge in the scrambling department, yet Poirier’s underrated grappling skills has allowed him to hold his own there. I’m not even going to try and guess who is the better wrestler. The point I’m trying to make is this contest should be mostly contested and decided on the feet. Given Alvarez’s status as a former champion, he’s the easy pick to go with. Then again, there are signs of physical decline in Alvarez. Alvarez has traditionally responded well following his losses. Not the most scientific reason to pick the former champ, but I don’t know if there is a strong scientific argument for one way or the other. Alvarez via decision
Chas Skelly (17-2) vs. Jason Knight (17-2), Featherweight
Probably the most underrated contest on the card, don’t be surprised to see these two hard-nosed scrappers steal the show.
Though Skelly and Knight are under the radar of most casual fans, those in the know were excited when this contest was announced. Both are determined grapplers with aggressive striking who don’t back down from anyone. Between the two, Knight has received more love from the fans thanks to his abrasive personality which has earned him the moniker of Hick Diaz. Oh yeah… his tendency to talk trash, constant forward movement while throwing his fists, poor wrestling, and dangerous guard had something to do with that too. Sounds just like a Diaz, right?
Labeling Knight as a poor man’s Diaz brother isn’t fair to Knight’s recent improvements. A reactionary double-leg takedown has been the most obvious addition, creating a more favorable option to take the fight to the ground than he utilized in the past. Upon his entry, Knight’s dangerous guard was the most notable part of his game as he threatens with armbars and triangle chokes at all times. His top control is still developing, though it doesn’t take away from his danger as a submission artist.
Skelly’s guard isn’t as dangerous as what Knight has to offer, though no less effective as Skelly’s activity off his back is more likely to lead to a sweep. He’s also far more likely to get the fight to the ground as his impressive collegiate wrestling background – an NAIA All-American — has served him well. Like Knight, he times his shots well, but also has a bit more burst and technique in his shots. Skelly’s very active early in the contest searching for subs with chokes being his specialty. He has tended to fade down the stretch, though better dieting and conditioning has seemingly solved that.
The standup battle will be an interesting one. Knight keeps his jab out there constantly, though he also leaves his own chin to be touched up in the process. Still, his toughness allows him to find success trading shots as he lays the volume on thick. Skelly has typically been a sloppy –though powerful – striker. He has shown improvement since hooking up with Henri Hooft, improving his accuracy to his awkward striking. Perhaps the biggest key to the contest will be the progress Skelly has made.
I was leaning towards picking Knight until taking a deeper look into this contest. Knight is likely to win the striking battle as his boxing is far sharper than what Skelly offers and I don’t see Skelly landing a haymaker to put Knight on the ground. However, Skelly’s ability to make a fight ugly in the clinch and dictate where the fight takes place with his superior wrestling should be just enough to edge out Knight in the eyes of the judges. Regardless of who wins, I very much look forward to this contest. Skelly via decision
Polo Reyes (7-3) vs. James Vick (10-1), Lightweight
Even though Vick has been vocal about his disappointment in his being matched up with Reyes, it should be an entertaining contest for the fans regardless of who comes out on top.
Even though Vick has a right to be upset with the contest as it isn’t going to advance his position in the ultra-competitive lightweight division if he is able to pull off the win. However, an opportunity to fight in his home state and pick up an extra paycheck pushed him to accept the contest. Standing at 6’3″ with a 76″ reach, Vick’s freakish size makes him a unique puzzle for anyone in the division. He has developed a strong jab with a series of front kicks to maintain distance. That often forces opponents to telegraph their level changes where Vick often snakes in his signature guillotine choke off of opposing takedowns.
Reyes isn’t likely to fall into the guillotine as he rarely looks to take the fight to the ground. He would much rather stand and trade, developing a reputation as one of the more entertaining brawlers in the organization. Reyes did show far more discipline in his last contest against similarly lengthy Jason Novelli, getting down his timing and countering everything in the second round to show progression in his technique and timing. His greatest weapon is his chin as few have proven to be able to withstand punishment quite like he can.
Considering the two of them have combined to land a single takedown in 10 combined UFC contests, don’t expect much wrestling and/or grappling to come into play. Reyes should have the advantage in scrambling situations, but he’ll be hard-pressed to penetrate Vick’s above-average takedown defense should he attempt to create.
Vick is the easy favorite here. He’s faced better competition than Reyes and emerged victorious against all but Beneil Dariush. However, if he decides to look past Reyes – and he could be given his attitude towards his opponent – Vick has enough holes in his standup defense that Reyes could easily land a big overhand and put the big Texan down for the count. Though it’s a good possibility that happens, the safe money is still on Vick to pull out a W. Vick via decision
UFC 212 is scheduled for June 3 at Rio de Janeiro’s Jeunesse Arena, and Silva was expected to co-headline the pay-per-view card against Gastelum. When the Kings MMA fighter was removed from he bout, the promotion tried to find a replacement, but failed to get a deal done.
“Following the April 6 removal of Kelvin Gastelum from his UFC 212 bout against Anderson Silva, UFC officials attempted to find a replacement to meet Silva on June 3,” read a statement released by the promotion on Thursday. “However an opponent was not secured to face the former middleweight champion on short notice, prompting his removal from the card at Jeunesse Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
“Due to Anderson Silva’s withdrawal, customers may request a full refund of their purchased tickets until May 18, 2017.”
“The Spider” changed his tone and criticized the UFC for the way the promotion handled the situation, and threatened to retire if he wasn’t given a fight with Yoel Romero for the interim belt. Romero agreed with the idea, but UFC president Dana White said that wasn’t an option shortly after.
With Silva-Gastelum out of the table, UFC 212 now includes 12 bouts. In the main event, featherweight champions Jose Aldo and Max Holloway will collide to see who remains at the top of the 145-pound division. In the co-main event, Claudia Gadelha faces Karolina Kowalkiewicz.
Jose Aldo vs. Max Holloway
Claudia Gadelha vs. Karolina Kowalkiewicz
Vitor Belfort vs. Nate Marquardt
Erick Silva vs. Yancy Medeiros
Leonardo Santos vs. Olivier Aubin-Mercier
Johnny Eduardo vs. Mathew Lopez
Marco Beltran vs. Deiveson Alcantara
Antonio Carlos Jr. vs. Eric Spicely
Paulo Borrachinha vs. Oluwale Bamgbose
Raphael Assuncao vs. Marlon Moraes
Viviane Pereira vs. Jamie Moyle
Luan Chagas vs. Jim Wallhead