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Statement on Chase Sherman

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Upon being added to the UFC Anti-Doping Program, an athlete who voluntarily and promptly discloses the use of a prohibited substance prior to testing will not be deemed to have committed a violation if they test positive from the prior use. While Sherman provided sufficient evidence that his use of anastrozole occurred prior to entering the program, he did not declare anastrozole on his onboarding declaration form and therefore he faces a violation for the presence of the substance in his sample.

Sherman received an additional reduction to the period of ineligibility for his Full and Complete Cooperation. Under the revised UFC ADP announced on November 25, 2019, a Full and Complete Cooperation reduction may be granted in the event that an athlete demonstrates that they did not intend to enhance their performance and provided full, prompt, and truthful responses and information to all reasonable inquiries and requests for information.

Sherman’s nine-month period of ineligibility began on May 13, 2020, the date his positive sample was collected.

Sherman’s positive test also falls under the jurisdiction of the Florida State Boxing Commission, which is resolving the case in accordance with its rules.

Full Statement Here

Magomed Ankalaev Wants To Settle The Score

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With each blow that crashed home, veteran referee Kevin MacDonald crept forward for a closer look, anticipating a finishing blow and eager to ensure that the staggering Cutelaba didn’t take any unnecessary punishment.

When Ankalaev connected with a left hook that caused Cutelaba to stagger backwards, then fire off a wild right hand that was nowhere near the target, MacDonald jumped in, waving off the contest and kicking off a strange odyssey that will end this weekend on Fight Island in Abu Dhabi.

“I wouldn’t say I feel a duty to do so, but I have to finish this,” Ankalaev said of his protracted feud with Cutelaba, whom he faces for a second time on Saturday in the opening bout of the UFC 254 pay-per-view main card.

As soon as MacDonald raced in between the two combatants on that crisp February evening in Norfolk, Virginia, Cutelaba began vehemently protesting the stoppage. Slow-motion replays illustrated why.

While Ankalaev was attacking, many of the blows failed to land flush, and the wobbles Cutelaba exhibited that drew MacDonald in were clearly a case of the 26-year-old Moldovan playing up their impact in hopes of making Ankalaev overextend and leave himself open to a powerful counter that could shift the tides in his favor.

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The stoppage brought Cutelaba’s flawed plan to an abrupt halt, but the controversial nature of the finish prompted the UFC to re-book the two competitors against one another again in an immediate rematch at UFC 249 in April, only to have the COVID-19 pandemic that has swept the globe in 2020 decide to take an active role in determining when these two emerging light heavyweights would once again stand opposite each other inside the Octagon.

The original incarnation of UFC 249 was mothballed as the global pandemic brought sports everywhere to a halt. Rebooked for UFC 252 in mid-August, the rematch was delayed for a second time when Cutelaba tested positive for COVID-19, pushing the bout back another two weeks.

On the day of the fight, the pairing was scrapped for a third time, as Cutelaba once again tested positive for COVID-19, delaying things one more time.

“It has been a little frustrating, especially with everything going on in the world right now and our bout being rescheduled for the third time already,” said Ankalaev, who has remained tethered to Cutelaba since February, creating a nearly eight-month separation between appearances at a time when the light heavyweight division is undergoing a major shift.

Back in August, long-time champion Jon Jones vacated the title, creating a void atop the division and an abundance of opportunities for its competitors.

More from UFC 254: Fighters On The Rise | Where We Stand: Lightweights

Having won four straight and boasting a 14-1 record overall, the 28-year-old Ankalaev, who is currently stationed at No. 11 in the rankings, was an ideal candidate for a pairing with a Top 10 opponent as the matchmakers worked to establish a new pecking order in the light heavyweight ranks.

But while others in the Top 15 have been paired off two-by-two, he’s remained connected at the hip with the aggressive and improving Cutelaba, who has split his first eight appearances inside the Octagon as they once again look to run it back this weekend.

On the eve of hopefully finishing things with his seemingly permanent 2020 opponent on Saturday, Ankalaev is hopeful that he can continue to work his way up the divisional ladder after this one, though he’s solely focused on the piece of the equation he can control.

How To Watch UFC 254

“I don’t have any sense of urgency,” began Ankalaev, who sees this oft-delayed, highly anticipated rematch with Cutelaba as a chance to make some noise in the suddenly shifting light heavyweight division. “I would like to face someone from the Top 10 next so I could get closer to the title.

“But it’s up to the UFC,” he continued. “If they want to see me in the Top 10, they will give me next an opponent from the Top 10. I just need to do what I have to do: win the fights.”

While the stoppage in their first encounter was widely panned by critics and observers, Ankalaev’s performance in the 38-second affair seems to have been obscured and overshadowed by the controversy.

The reason MacDonald was primed to jump in and wave off the action is because it was largely one-way traffic heading towards Cutelaba during that initial flurry; he was the one on his heels as Ankalaev tossed head kicks at him with ease and attacked with lefts and rights, several of which found a home and made his opponent’s pantomime appear realistic in the heat of the moment.

Though few want to give him full marks for the victory, Ankalaev had shown an abundance of upside in his three bouts prior to his first appearance of 2020, rebounding from a last-second submission loss to Paul Craig in his promotional debut with dominant performances against Marcin Prachnio, Klidson Abreu and Dalcha Lungiambula before stepping into the Octagon with Cutelaba on February 29.

And after finding success early in their first encounter, the promising upstart sees no reason why the outcome will change when these star-crossed light heavyweight combatants finally — fingers crossed — square off for a second time this weekend.

“The result will be the same,” Ankalaev said without pause. “I’m not sure how, but I will get the victory.”

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Unfiltered: Aljamain Sterling, Joaquin Buckley and Coach Javier Mendes

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Jim and Matt kick off fight week with Khabib’s coach, Javier Mendez. He discusses how Khabib has approached this fight camp after the death of his father, why he still considers Conor McGregor to be Khabib’s toughest challenge, and how it felt to be treated as a celebrity in Dagestan.

Then, after Jim and Matt recap the action from UFC Fight Night: Ortega vs The Korean Zombie, Aljamain Sterling calls in to share how it feels to finally have a title shot booked against Petr Yan at UFC 256 and how he’s been keeping active during quarantine.

Joaquin Buckley closes out the show by revealing the mistake Impa Kasanganay made that led to his epic flying-kick KO and responding to James Krause calling Buckley a ‘sh*tbox’ after his win on Saturday.

Follow the show @UFCUnfiltered on Instagram, and check out the full video show on UFC FIGHT PASS – sign up today at www.ufcfightpass.com

Tai Tuivasa Ready to Get Back on Track

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After he suffered back-to-back losses in 2019, pushing his current skid to three fights, some fans worried we might not see “Bam Bam” compete inside the Octagon again. But this is one fighter you should never count out.

“I’m back and I’ve done a lot of work this year,” says the 27-year-old, who will face Stefan Struve at UFC 254. “I’m coming off losses, so it had to be a different sort of fight camp. I’ve worked a lot on my mental state and now I’m feeling really good. I’m ready to get out there and do my thing.”

How To Watch UFC 254

Tuivasa is no stranger to adversity. “I’ve lost worse things in life,” he told the media after a previous defeat. “Family, people you love, opportunities, and friends. A fight’s nothing.”

Hailing from some of the meanest streets in Western Sydney, he grew up running with a tough crowd. That, and the fact his dad was a boxer, meant fighting was second nature. At age 19, he looked set for a career as a rugby league player, but he’ll be the first to admit the sport wasn’t his passion.

“I was getting sent off every other game for fighting. It never really suited me, especially at that professional level. I love fighting. I enjoy it more than footy, so I went with my heart.”

“I was going down a wrong path at one point in my life. The fact that I can do this in front of the world is a blessing.”

Tuivasa doesn’t dwell on any dark days – he prefers to look forwards rather than backwards.

“Life’s pretty good right now, brother,” he enthuses via satellite. “I’m lying on a sunbed on Fight Island, getting a tan.

“It’s been a rough year with COVID-19, but the UFC has really pulled it off with these events. Fight Island is awesome!”

Stefan Struve, Tuivasa’s UFC 254 opponent, is the tallest UFC fighter of all-time at 6-11 ½, and he sports a victory over current heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic. However, the Aussie remains relaxed about the whole deal.

“Struve’s experienced – they always give me these experienced guys,” notes Tuivasa. “He’s seen everything, so I think he’s just going to come out and do what he usually does.”

Fortunately, “Bam Bam” has received advice from another Sydney-based fighter of Samoan descent who handed the towering Dutchman one of his most spectacular losses.

“Mark Hunt and I are very close. We’ve trained together and talked a lot about how to fight [Stefan]. But talking is talking and fighting is fighting – two very different things. All I can say is that it will be entertaining.”

More from UFC 254: Fighters On The Rise | Where We Stand: Lightweights

Tuivasa sees himself as something of a dying breed in modern MMA, less of a technician and more someone doing it out of sheer love. “There’s not a lot of straight-up fighters anymore,” he declares. “There’s a lot of mixed martial artists, but I represent the people who are just in it to blue.”

It’s statements like that which have made the heavy-hitting youngster a fan favourite, along with his habit of joking around…and drinking the occasional beer out of a stranger’s shoe. It’s a kind of everyman appeal that he embraces.

“Yeah, I’m nobody. I’m a Joe Blow no different to any other bloke,” he laughs. “I’m just lucky that I get to whack some heads in front of the whole world. That I get the opportunity to represent me and my area.”

Speaking of which, another reason for Tuivasa’s good mood of late is that his local rugby league team in Australia’s top competition, the Penrith Panthers, have made the grand final, which will take place mere hours after UFC 254. “Man, I’m so rapt about it,” he says. “I’m fighting on the same day. It’s awesome. It’s the year of the West!”

But back to more pressing matters, how does he picture the bout with Struve going down?

“I’m ready to do three fives if I have to and go the distance. But I’ve always got that killer instinct in there. If I see an opening, I’m definitely going to grab it with both hands.”

And if he gets the big W to put his UFC career right back on track? We’re picturing beer and shoes…

“We all know how that goes down,” laughs Tuivasa. “But this will be times fifty! ’Cos it’s been a long time coming. All I can say is I’m ready. I’ve dotted my Is, I’ve crossed my Ts. I’m ready.”

Visit Abu Dhabi: http://www.abudhabievents.ae/

UFC 254: Fight by Fight Preview

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LAUREN MURPHY VS. LILIYA SHAKIROVA

Lauren Murphy was initially scheduled to face fellow emerging contender Cynthia Calvillo in a clash of championship hopefuls, but with Calvillo being a late scratch, the streaking TUF alum welcomes Liliya Shakirova to the Octagon for the first time instead.

Murphy, who won gold under the Invicta FC banner before matriculating to the Octagon, was four fights into her UFC career when she joined the cast on Season 26 of The Ultimate Fighter in hopes of becoming the inaugural flyweight champion. She was bounced early but defeated fellow former Invicta champ Barb Honchak on the finale card and enters this weekend’s clash with consecutive victories over Mara Romero Borella, Andrea Lee, and Roxanne Modafferi.

Free Fights: Khabib vs Poirier | Gaethje vs Ferguson

A national champion in freestyle wrestling in her native Uzbekistan, Shakirova arrives in the UFC with an 8-1 record and riding a three-fight winning streak. She’s spent time training at Tiger Muay Thai in the past, including working with Calvillo there last fall, but it’s difficult to get an accurate read on where she fits in the division and how she matches up with Murphy heading into this one.

This year has been one where several newcomers have made instant impressions and established themselves as immediate contenders, so it’s certainly not out of the realm of possibility that the spirited newcomer walks into this short-notice pairing and announces her presence in the flyweight division.

At the same time, this is a chance for Murphy to potentially log a dominant performance and establish herself as a clear challenger for reigning champ Valentina Shevchenko heading into 2021.

MAGOMED ANKALAEV VS. ION CUTELABA

Let’s try this one more time.

Magomed Ankalaev and Ion Cutelaba fought earlier this year in Norfolk, Virginia. Ankalaev won the bout by first-round stoppage after hitting Cutelaba with a collection of solid shots that made the hulking Moldovan feign that he was wobbled, which prompted the referee to inadvertently stop the fight early. An immediate rematch was booked and has subsequently been shuffled multiple times, ultimately landing as the main card opener this weekend.

In addition to the tensions between these two from how their first encounter played out, this is also a critical contest in a light heavyweight division that is at the dawn of a new era.

Khabib vs Gaethje: This Is My Dream

Ankalaev is quite literally one second away from being 15-0, having suffered his lone loss at 4:59 of the third round in his promotional debut. Since then, the 28-year-old has been impressive, registering three consecutive victories prior to his first dance with Cutelaba while showcasing a diverse striking game and the potential to be a perennial contender going forward.

Still only 26, Cutelaba has grown from a rambunctious newcomer with more power and brawn than anything else to an emerging talent who better understands how to deploy his considerable power and play to his strengths inside the cage. He’s alternated wins and losses since arriving in the UFC, and if the pattern holds on Saturday, the only fair thing to do would be to book these two in a rubber match next year.

But that’s for the matchmakers to consider come Sunday morning.

For now, let’s just hope these two finally get to settle their differences this weekend, because this one should be every bit as entertaining as the first encounter, just without the controversial ending.

UFC 254 Where We Stand: Lightweights

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(22-2, 19 KOs, 1 Submission)

Last Fight: TKO win vs Tony Ferguson (5/9/2020)

Next fight: vs Khabib Nurmagomedov @ UFC 254 (10/24/2020)

Outlook: Your favorite fighter’s favorite fighter put together a masterclass of patient violence in his interim championship win over Tony Ferguson, tagging “El Cucuy” with clean, heavy shots while breaking down the man who seemed unbreakable. Gaethje’s maturity in his game is well-documented, and his ability to unleash bombs without taking too many himself has birthed the most interesting challenger to Nurmagomedov’s pursuit of perfection. His All-American wrestling pedigree is the matchup’s X-factor, and his one-punch power is the tension-maker. If Gaethje succeeds in the singular accomplishment of beating Nurmagomedov, plenty of fun fights await. Maybe there’s an immediate rematch with Nurmagomedov. He and Dustin Poirier could run back their classic 2018 bout from which Poirier came away victorious. Dan Hooker, Conor McGregor and Michael Chandler are all there, too. But before anyone gets ahead of themselves, Gaethje’s mountain of a Dagestani challenge awaits.

See which UFC 254 Fighters are on the rise

UFC Fight Island 6 Scorecard

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Can’t get a bigger winner than someone who earned himself a title shot with his win last Saturday night, so here in the number one spot is Mr. Brian Ortega. I have to admit I had my doubts about Ortega coming back against a fighter like Chan Sung Jung, not just because of his long layoff and the punishment he took against Max Holloway in his last bout, but because “The Korean Zombie” is a truth machine. If you’re not on top of your game, he’s going to find out, usually in a painful fashion. But Ortega looked better than ever on Fight Island, disciplined, dynamic and ready for anything. And if you’re not excited about the future matchup between “T-City” and 145-pound champ Alexander Volkanovski, you may have stumbled across the wrong website.

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UFC Fight Island 6 Bonus Coverage

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In her flyweight debut, Jessica Andrade announced herself as a fun and new flyweight contender with a bulldozing finish of Katlyn Chookagian in the first round.

Andrade showed that the height and length difference was no factor, closing the distance with ease and landing a takedown within the first minute of the bout. While Chookagian did well to return to her feet, but Andrade’s well-known strength helped to maintain pressure along the fence and wear on Chookagian. After dealing with some rangy strikes from the former title challenger, Andrade secured her signature slam and unleashed some ground-and-pound. As the two rose to their feet, Andrade unleashed a hook to the body that got a big reaction from Chookagian. Immediately, Andrade blitzed Chookagian, quickly landing another short shot to the body that crumbled the American, securing a win in her third weight class.

UFC 254 On The Rise

With the flyweight division wide-open and begging for a challenger to Valentina Shevchenko, Andrade is potentially the most interesting and most dangerous threat to the indominable 125-pound champion thus far.

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On the Rise: UFC 254 Edition

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From a stylistic standpoint, Gaethje looks like the type of fighter who would have the best chance to contend with Nurmagomedov’s relentless approach, as he is a punishing striker who chops at his opponents’ legs and has a strong wrestling pedigree in his back pocket that allows him to dictate where his fights take place. But so far, no one has been able to keep Khabib from putting them on the canvas and smashing, which is why their championship unification clash carries so much interest and excitement.

Before the main event participants make the walk, Saturday’s fight card offers a collection of matchups featuring a group of intriguing prospects looking to use the attention this card will garner as a means of introducing themselves to the UFC audience, including an undefeated newcomer with a familiar last name, a potential rising star in the flyweight ranks, and a former top prospect who finally seems to be putting it all together heading into his promotional debut.

Here’s a closer look at those athletes.

This is the UFC 254 edition of On the Rise.

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Umar Nurmagomedov

Khabib isn’t the only undefeated Nurmagomedov set to compete on Saturday as much earlier in the card, his 24-year-old cousin Umar will put his 12-0 record on the line against fellow newcomer Sergey Morozov.

The bantamweight has been on people’s radar for a couple years now, benefitting from training alongside a host of elite talents and his familial ties to the lightweight kingpin. But it’s not just his last name that has gotten the 24-year-old noticed, as Nurmagomedov posted a pair of quality decision victories in individual appearances under the Professional Fighters League banner in 2018 and 2019.

Nurmagomedov has faced a motley crew of competitors during his journey to the UFC, with his most recognizable victory coming against 40-year-old CFFC veteran Sidemar Honorio, so it will be interesting to see how he adjusts to fighting on the biggest stage in the sport and taking on an experienced, seasoned opponent like Morozov this weekend.

How To Watch UFC 254

The 31-year-old from Kazakhstan enters on a five-fight winning streak, most recently drawing level in his two-fight series against Josh Rettinghouse. Morozov has displayed solid power and keen finishing instincts over his career, and his last loss came more than two years ago against rising featherweight prospect Movsar Evloev, which helps establish a baseline for what to expect from him and how to gauge Nurmagomedov when they meet on Saturday.

Carrying the last name Nurmagomedov brings automatic pressure and the advanced billing Umar has received ratchets it up even more, but he’s been surrounded by very skilled training, experienced training partners throughout his career and should be ready to deal with everything that comes with stepping out under the bright lights for the first time.

And if he can handle his business against Morozov, don’t be surprised if he gets an accelerated push in the 135-pound weight class going forward.

Miranda Maverick

Initially scheduled to make her debut earlier this summer, Miranda Maverick will finally make her first trek into the Octagon this weekend as she squares off with Georgian submission specialist Liana Jojua in Abu Dhabi.

The 24-year-old has spent much of her career competing under the Invicta FC banner, and after catching a couple losses against more seasoned competition early on, Maverick has rallied to post five straight wins. In addition to getting by tough outs Victoria Leonardo and Shanna Young, Maverick avenged her earlier setback to DeAnna Bennett, submitting the former Ultimate Fighter contestant in the third round.

A quality athlete who logged a 7-1 record as an amateur before turning pro, Maverick is in that range where she continues to grow by leaps and bounds between each appearance and as she continues to gain experience. Bennett and Pearl Gonzalez are solid veterans who have each graced the Octagon in the past and she handled each with aplomb in her last two outings, setting the stage for her UFC debut this weekend.

The pairing with Jojua should help quickly establish where the American new arrival stands in the division, as the 25-year-old “She Wolf” enters off a slick first-round submission win over Diana Belbita in July and having won six of her last seven appearances.

Maverick has the look of someone who could blossom into a contender in the flyweight division over time and it will be interesting to see if she can take her first steps towards fulfilling that promise Saturday on Fight Island.

UFC 254: Khabib vs Gaethje – Unbreakable

UFC 254: Khabib vs Gaethje – Unbreakable

Phillip Hawes

Phillip Hawes is what fantasy sports experts would call a “post-hype sleeper” — a guy who carried a ton of expectations and buzz early in his career, didn’t reach those heights the first time around, but has now reached a point where he seems poised to contribute.

The 31-year-old started his career with three straight victories and got a ton of pub as a training partner of Jon Jones, but the expectations exceeded where his abilities were at and a series of setbacks prompted many to label the talented middleweight a bust before he ever really got a chance to gain any meaningful experience.

He failed to make it past the elimination round on Season 23 of The Ultimate Fighter, but only because he was paired off with the eventual winner, Andrew Sanchez, before he dropped back-to-back outings against Louis Taylor and Julian Marquez, the latter coming on the Contender Series. It was nearly two years before Hawes resurfaced in the cage, but he’s been unbeaten since, posting four consecutive victories, all by stoppage, culminating in his Contender Series win over Khadzi Bestaev earlier this summer.

This weekend, Hawes squares off with unbeaten fellow newcomer Jacob Malkoun.

While it took a lot longer for him to arrive in the UFC than many anticipated earlier in his career, the Sanford MMA representative remains the same imposing physical specimen that stood out as a prospect, but he’s added experience and a much greater understanding of how to deploy his considerable talents inside the cage.

If he turns in a performance anywhere near the effort he delivered in Las Vegas against Bestaev, there will be plenty of people rushing to join the Hawes bandwagon come Sunday morning.

UFC 254 Free Fight: Khabib vs McGregor

UFC 254 Free Fight: Khabib vs McGregor

Mark Striegl Living an ‘Absolute Adventure’

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In August, he traveled from his home in Baguio City, Philippines to Las Vegas to make his long-awaited UFC debut. Little did he know that he would have to continue waiting for that moment, as he was diagnosed with COVID-19 during fight week and his bout was cancelled.

It wasn’t an easy moment for Striegl (18-2, 1 NC) but the 32-year-old Filipino wasn’t deterred from his dreams one bit.

Watch Saturday With Your ESPN+ Subscription | Preview The Entire UFC Fight Night: Ortega vs Korean Zombie Card

“It’s a rollercoaster, I mean MMA is a rollercoaster in general, especially during these COVID times,” Striegl told UFC.com. “Coming from Baguio City to Manila to Las Vegas, getting COVID when I thought that was the last thing that would happen, then getting rescheduled and rebooked onto Fight Island and then finally being here, it’s been an absolute adventure but all part of the journey and I’m just super excited about it.”

One of the things that excites Striegl the most about his opportunity to face Said Nurmagomedov on the UFC Fight Night: Ortega vs The Korean Zombie card this weekend is the chance to put on for his country.

“MMA and combat sports are huge in the Philippines. Filipinos love fight sports. I mean, look at Manny Pacquiao. The people love boxing, and MMA is no different,” Striegl said. “It’s an absolute honor to represent the Philippines on the global stage here in the UFC. This is the Super Bowl of MMA, this is the largest platform for mixed martial arts. To represent the Philippines here in the UFC and on Fight Island during these crazy COVID times it’s a complete honor.”

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Striegl plans to bring honor to the Filipino flag by bringing the type of fight that gets fans off their couches. And in order to deliver the performance that he envisions on Saturday, he’ll need to avoid any UFC debut nerves.

“It’s, for sure, overall excitement and anticipation – a whole jumble of all sorts of emotions for sure,” Striegl said when thinking about the emotions he’ll experience on fight night. “But it’s all about keeping it under control and keeping the breathing under control, going out there and taking care of business.”

MORE: Fighters On The Rise | Jimmy Crute Is Back 

So far in his career, Striegl’s favorite way to take care of business has come on the canvas, with 14 of his 18 victories coming by submission. With wins by guillotine, keylock, rear naked choke, scarf hold armlock, armbar and triangle choke, it’s clear that Striegl is as dangerous as they come once the fight hits the floor.

Due to his ground game, he isn’t sure what to expect from Nurmagomedov in the Flash Forum arena this weekend. Regardless of his opponent’s game plan, Striegl plans on bringing fireworks to their bout.

“I think we are both explosive fighters and I just feel that I match up very well against him. It’s just going to make for an action-packed fight,” Striegl said. “I’m an action-packed fighter. I’m never in a boring fight so the fans can expect a high pace, a lot of aggression and me getting my hand raised. That’s it.”

Make sure you catch Striegl’s Octagon debut in the first fight of UFC Fight Island 6 live on ESPN+ at 4pm ET / 1pm PT.

Visit Abu Dhabi: http://www.abudhabievents.ae/

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