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UFC Rio Rancho Results

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UFC Rio Rancho Prelims -5pm/2pm ETPT on ESPN+

Mark De La Rosa vs Raulian Paiva

Macy Chiasson vs Shanna Young

Casey Kenney vs Merab Dvalishvili

Devin Clark vs Dequan Townsend

Jim Miller vs Scott Holtzman

Jim Miller’s Best Finishes

Jim Miller’s Best Finishes

John Dodson vs Nathaniel Wood

Tim Means vs Daniel Rodriguez

UFC Rio Rancho Main Card -8 pm/5pm ETPT on ESPN+

Lando Vannata vs Yancy Medeiros

Rogerio Bontorin vs Ray Borg

UFC Rio Rancho Free Fight: Anderson vs Walker

UFC Rio Rancho Free Fight: Anderson vs Walker

Brok Weaver vs Kazula Vargas

Montana De La Rosa vs Mara Romero Borella

Diego Sanchez vs Michel Pereira

Diego Sanchez: Top TUF Moments

Diego Sanchez: Top TUF Moments

Corey Anderson vs Jan Blachowicz

Sean O’Malley Is Eager To Add To His Highlight Reel

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What seemed like a sure-handed rapid ascension came to a halt when O’Malley was pulled from a scheduled bout against Jose Quinonez at UFC 229 due to a potential Anti-Doping Policy violation, for which he was suspended six months. A hip surgery followed, as did a second six-month suspension that forced a scratched matchup with Marlon Vera at UFC 239.

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Going from a rising, undefeated star to a pair of suspensions and a pair of surgeries, O’Malley said there was a certain amount of “depression” and “anxiety” to work through while he was out of action. While he still carries some frustration regarding the circumstances around the suspension, he does try to spin the situation in a positive manner.

“(People) get sentenced for stuff they have never done, and that’s how I feel, in a way,” he said. “But it’s so much smaller than stuff like that. I have food. I have water. I have shelter. So, my life is still really good; I just have to make sure I keep that perspective that it could be a lot worse.”

He added that the time off allowed him to allow lingering injuries to fully heal, as well as work on his skillset. His coach at The MMA Lab, John Crouch, has been particularly impressed with how O’Malley handled the layoff.

“I’ve seen a really strong man,” Crouch said. “He’s steadfast in his belief. He hasn’t let it get him down. He’s seen the positive of it as a good chance for him to get better.”

Part of that improvement lies in O’Malley’s taking to Brazilian jiu-jitsu. 

As he started taking kickboxing classes as a teenager, he remembers seeing the preceding jiu-jitsu classes rolling in their gis and not wanting any part of it. In fact, he admitted he didn’t really want to get into mixed martial arts because he didn’t want to learn jiu-jitsu.

“It’s funny looking back now because I love jiu-jitsu,” he said. “If I had to go pick what I’m going to go do that day, I’d go do jiu-jitsu. Competition rolls, live from your feet grappling, that, to me, is the best sport in the world.”

This Is Brok Weaver’s Movie

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“Am I doing this all in vain?” thought Alabama’s Weaver. But he kept pushing, kept fighting, and when approached with a fight against highly-touted Florida prospect Socrates Pierre, he had no qualms about taking it.

“I was undefeated at the time,” recalled Weaver, who was 3-0 as a pro. “Socrates had big hype coming in, he was Josh’s protégé on the local shows and nobody wanted me to take the fight. Everybody’s like, ‘Nah, man, you’re not ready for him yet.’ I’m like, ‘I’m gonna smoke this dude. Get me in there with him.’”

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With seconds remaining in the second round, Weaver’s confidence was rewarded with a submission victory that took place right in front of Samman, by then a UFC fighter with one Octagon win under his belt.

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“I had done it right in the corner and Josh was like, ‘Do not tap, Soc, there’s three seconds,’” said Weaver. “After the fight, Josh found me at the after party and he said, ‘If you ever want to come to Miami and train, hit me up. There’s great fighters out there, people who can fight and people who’ve got a good story, but you’ve got that ‘it’ factor. You could be the next big thing.’

Weaver appreciated the kind words but brushed off the invitation. That big win over Pierre turned into a 1-3 stretch over the next year, and he needed a change and some direction.

“Partying and stuff got me,” he admits. “I had a couple losses, just wasn’t focused anymore and was kind of burned out on it. Dean Toole, one of the fight promoters and my best friend in the game, like a big bro to me, he said hit Josh up. See if he’s still got that opening.”

About three months away from getting evicted, Weaver got Samman’s number and gave him a call.

“I’ve got an extra room in my house right now that’s come available,” Samman said. “Move down here, I’ll find you a job and you can train with me every day.”

The Jackson native packed his bags and left for what he expected to be a two-month trip. He ended up staying a lot longer than that, gaining not just a training partner, but a friend, one who wasn’t just trying to make his own way in the UFC, but also trying to cope with the death of his girlfriend in a car accident in 2013. 

One of the ways he did was through writing, with his memoir, The Housekeeper: Love, Death, and Prizefighting, gaining critical acclaim upon its release in 2016. But he was also chronicling the story of Weaver and his tribe, the MOWA Choctaw Indians, a process that was cathartic for the budding prizefighter.

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“He had so much belief in me,” said Weaver. “It encouraged me and he had pages and pages and pages in his computer. There were nights of us sitting up until 3, 4 O’clock in the morning, just telling my story. He loved it.”

Samman had one condition on finishing the book, though. 

“He told me, ‘The only way I’m putting you this much in the book is if you make it to the UFC,’” said Weaver, who was hit as hard as everyone in the MMA community on October 5, 2016, when what the Broward County chief medical examiner ruled as a “probable drug overdose” killed Samman at the age of 28.

“It crushed me,” said Weaver. “I lived a year with him and never did he do that. I never saw any signs. I saw a healthy eating person, he’d train as hard as he could two to three times a day. I think he just got around the wrong crowd, it brought up some memories and he just messed up.”

A month earlier, Weaver lost a Titan FC bout to Martin Brown, putting his record at 7-4. Not UFC caliber to say the least, but “Chata Tuska” was determined to get to the Octagon, to show those who believed in him that they right.

“No one is out there battling for a tribe,” he said. “My tribe is going down, I’m trying to bring them up. There’s stories out there that every hundred years a Choctaw warrior comes in and saves his people. Maybe that’s me.”

“Chata Tuska” means Choctaw warrior, and since the loss to Brown, Weaver has gone 7-0. In the seventh bout of that stretch last August, he decisioned Devin Smyth on season three of Dana White’s Contender Series and was awarded a UFC contract. 

On Saturday, he breaks that contract in with a bout against Kazula Vargas in Rio Rancho, New Mexico.

“It’s still really humbling and crazy,” said Weaver. “Every day I wake up and accept that I made it. I always knew I was gonna make it, but it never really hits you until you do.”

It wasn’t expected for him to make it here. But he’s here now. Just try to get rid of him. 

More From UFC Rio Rancho: Fight by Fight Preview | Jan Blachowicz’ Second Act | Fighter’s On The Rise | Pereira’s Unconventional Style | Diego Sanchez’s Top TUF Moments

“I was not athletic, not like my friends,” Weaver said. “All my boys are tremendous athletes – all of them could have been something at basketball, football or even fighting. All the MOWAs are just natural fighters. But they just let the world get to them after high school. I didn’t have none of that; I lost all the fights and lost all the games. My amateur career was up and down and everybody was telling me to quit, that I wasn’t gonna make it. But once I found that rhythm and that hype and I got on the next level, I hit on a win streak, people started really believing in me, and 13 years later, I’m here. It took me a very long time to get here; I took no shortcuts at all. I fought all the hardest fights, I took every fight I could, I was always put to the test, I’ve had plenty of wars.”

The 28-year-old is ready for more, because the story he began jotting down with Samman needs extra chapters. And he’s ready to write them with his fists.

“I want all the pressure because I shine the best under pressure,” he said. “When the lights hit me, that’s when I shine, that’s when I go into another mode, and that’s when it becomes my movie.”

For more information and updates, sign up for the UFC Newsletter here.

Corey Anderson Is Fixated On The Belt

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So as Anderson put himself through another rigorous training camp in New Jersey, it wasn’t to prepare for the same Blachowicz he beat the last time, it’s to beat the 2020 version. 

“It’s a brand new fight, a brand new opponent,” he said. “I’m not even thinking about anything that happened the first fight. We’re not thinking about anything I did or he did. It’s a whole new camp, a whole new study, a whole new plan, a whole new breakdown. Everything is brand new, so it’s like I’m fighting a whole other person.”

In the case of the 30-year-old Anderson, he may be an entirely different fighter than he was in his fourth UFC bout. Back then, it was wrestling, wrestling and more wrestling from “Overtime,” who specialized in taking opponents to places they didn’t want to go. But in recent years, and especially during his current four-fight winning streak, there’s been an evolution in his striking game that was never more evident than when he put a momentary stop to the rise of Brazil’s Johnny Walker last November at Madison Square Garden.

It was that Performance of the Night knockout that put Anderson in this main event and in the conversation for a shot at Jon Jones’ UFC light heavyweight crown. All that in a little over two minutes, but he’s not surprised how things played out both during and after the fight.

More From UFC Rio Rancho: Fight by Fight Preview | Jan Blachowicz’ Second ActFighter’s On The Rise | Pereira’s Unconventional Style | Diego Sanchez’s Top TUF Moments

“I was visualizing it the whole camp and I knew what would happen,” Anderson said. “We go out there and flat line this guy and they were gonna put the respect on my name and give me the opportunity to fight in a main event and possibly fight for the title next. Sometimes, I look back, and me and Frankie (Edgar) talked and I asked him, ‘Is it crazy to you to think it was only five or six years ago that I was on The Ultimate Fighter and only had three fights and now we’re here together? We live in Jersey, and I’m about to be fighting for the title soon if I win this one?’ So we have that talk. As for what happened after Johnny Walker, nah, I expected all that to happen.”

Having grown up as a fighter in the UFC, Anderson’s defeat of Walker could almost be described as Graduation Day, because he put everything together on the night when he needed to be on point everywhere. That’s what separates fighters in the Octagon, and Anderson has learned the hard way in the past that what happens in the weeks leading up to a fight most likely determines what happens in it.

Jim Miller: A Man Of Three Decades

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Almost perfectly? Most would say a Performance of the Night submission that took two minutes and 12 seconds is about as perfect as you can get.

“It’s one of those bittersweet things,” Miller laughs, then explains. “The fight went really fast and I don’t think they had the opportunity to really drink it in. We get done, and my older son’s like, ‘Hey dad, did you win?’ (Laughs) It was so fast. There was no struggle to overcome, no build-up, it wasn’t like a good story.”

No, it wasn’t a good story. To everyone who watched it, it was the perfect story, a reminder that a story – and a career – doesn’t have to have everything pristine to be great. The struggle is part of the beauty of it. Jim Miller’s kids will understand that when they get older, and he’s just glad he’s been giving them plenty of life lessons in and out of the Octagon.

“I’m excited that I’ve been able to share that with my kids and my niece and nephew,” he said. “There have been some awesome fights. Even the ones that haven’t gone my way, I had some fights with some of these guys that I’m a fan of and I’ve learned a lot from them, and they’ve been experiences that have left a mark on me, but that two-minute fight, being able to share it, that was the best so far.”

For more information and updates, sign up for the UFC Newsletter here.

UFC Unfiltered Episode 367: Diego Sanchez, Tim Means & Phoenix Carnevale

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Always a fun time when Phoenix Carnevale makes an appearance in studio to hang with Jim and Matt.

The trio weighs in on the current state of judging in the UFC, including Matt telling a few stories from the Pride era about how they used to judge fights.

We all know UFC welterweight Diego Sanchez as a wild storyteller, and he does not disappoint on this episode.

Tim Means also joins the show and talks about his time in prison, why his fight this Saturday is personal, and violently defending his hometown when he enters the Octagon 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

Court McGee Serves As Keynote Speaker For 7th Black Monday Event

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The keynote speaker for the event was UFC welterweight Court McGee. A recovered alcoholic and drug addict, McGee now spends his free time outside of the Octagon actively engaging in anti-drug campaigns to educate teenagers about the dangers of substance abuse. Based in Utah, McGee travels the United States serving as a motivational and keynote speaker addressing teens and young adults through his non-profit organization, The McGee Project.

“It was an honor to serve as the keynote speaker for the 7th Annual Black Monday event,” said McGee. “It’s great to be able to share my personal story with people who may be in recovery or who may be witnessing their loved one’s struggle with addiction. My experience with substance abuse is incredibly powerful and it drives me to be a better husband, father, and overall person. The No Hero In Heroin Foundation is doing an incredible job of delivering its message of hope throughout this community, and last night’s event, with more than 750 people in attendance, is a perfect example of its reach.”

McGee credits his success and recovery to a life changing event in 2006 in which was declared clinically deceased for more than eight minutes following a heroin overdose. 

In addition to McGee serving as keynote speaker, the Las Vegas Fire & Rescue conducted Overdose Prevention & Narcan Administration training sessions. One of the additional highlights of the evening was the construction of a carnation wall, which was built to remember those who lost their lives to an overdose. The wall was also erected to celebrate those who overcame their addiction and honor those who are still struggling.

Over the last six years, There is no Hero in Heroin has become a leader in the recovery community as well as a vocal advocate for sustainable recovery programs at local, state, and federal levels.

The organization’s long-term objective is to become the very first opioid-specific recovery support provider in the United States. The organization’s banner achievement is the creation of the Clark County School District’s Mission High School in downtown Las Vegas. Mission High School is recognized as the first entirely publicly funded recovery-focused school in the nation.

For more information, please visit www.tinhihlasvegas.info.

Vannata Knows Greatness Takes Time

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It has been six years since Lando Vannata has had a fight in his adopted home state of New Mexico, and he’s clearly relishing every second. To him, the horror stories of every person a fighter knows wanting a piece of their local hero this week are of no concern.

“I delegate those roles to my coaches,” he laughs. “They handle all the friends and family and everything.”

From New Jersey to Florida, the lightweight has lived in all corners of the East Coast, but it’s clear in speaking to him that Albuquerque is his home.

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It has been six years since Lando Vannata has had a fight in his adopted home state of New Mexico, and he’s clearly relishing every second. To him, the horror stories of every person a fighter knows wanting a piece of their local hero this week are of no concern.

“I delegate those roles to my coaches,” he laughs. “They handle all the friends and family and everything.”

From New Jersey to Florida, the lightweight has lived in all corners of the East Coast, but it’s clear in speaking to him that Albuquerque is his home.

“It’s been great out here. I’ve been here nine years now. I moved out here when I was 18 to train by myself. I’ve been here ever since. I love it, man. It’s changed me so much for the better. Turned me into a man. Made me grow up. See life in a different way.”

Vannata speaks in a calm, low-key manner that makes his nickname “Groovy” sound more like a holdover from the 60s hippies that co-opted the word.

“It was great getting out of Florida and coming here. Coming to the mountains. Coming to the desert. Coming to where we have four seasons. I’m a big outdoors person, so I really enjoy it.”

Of course, it’s when you review Vannata’s chosen profession and resumé that the peace and love associations come to a screeching halt. A feared, unorthodox striker, Vannata’s first four UFC bouts each saw him going home with bonus money; win, lose or draw.

Speaking of losses and draws, folks hearing Groovy’s name for the first time might be confused as to what the hype is about if they were to just look up his recent record.

“I’ve got one of the weirdest records in the UFC, for sure. Some bad judging, some bad nights from myself. Life lessons,” he concedes. But in this reality, Vannata is philosophical.

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“A good friend of mine told me the other day that simple styles come to fruition pretty quickly and they figure themselves out pretty quickly. But more dynamic, more diverse styles…greatness takes time. I’ve had to go through a lot, both in the cage and out of the cage. It’s taken a lot of time to get where I am right now. But I’m very, very confident in my skill set and what I’m able to accomplish, and I’m looking to show a beautiful return.”

There’s an excellent chance to begin that beautiful return this weekend. 

“When they called me with this fight, I had just woken up. My manager says ‘Hey man, Yancy Medeiros at home February 15.’ I just grinned from ear to ear. Just stoked. I love fighting people with big names. I love high-profile fights. That’s what makes me feel alive. So being able to get this fight when I got this fight? It really made me feel good.”

It made fight fans feel really good, too. As word of the bout began to make its way around,  prognosticators across the MMA spectrum predicted it to be the Fight of the Night, without hesitation.

Vannata is flattered, but begs to differ.

“I mean…I guess to the fans it’s Fight of the Night because they see that Yancy and myself both have these attitudes where it’s like ‘All right, if you’re gonna throw, I’m gonna throw. Let’s go then.’

“In my mind, it’s not Fight of the Night, it’s Performance of the Night.“

Jan Blachowicz’s Second Act

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To this point, the Polish veteran’s UFC tenure can be split into two very distinct halves — his first six fights and his last seven appearances.

His opening half dozen fights produced a 2-4 record, including a lopsided decision loss to Anderson in their first meeting at UFC 191. His victories — a first-round stoppage win over Ilir Latifi in his debut and a unanimous decision triumph over Igor Pokrajac — were each chased by tandem setbacks, and left many observers wondering if the long-time KSW standout was capable of competing with the best light heavyweights in the world.

But over his last seven outings, Blachowicz has answered that question with a resounding “Yes,” posting a 6-1 mark that includes wins over Jared Cannonier, Luke Rockhold, and Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza; a run that has elevated the 36-year-old into the thick of the title chase in the 205-pound weight class.

So what has changed?

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“I did a lot of mistakes in the first fight,” Blachowicz said of his initial meeting with Anderson, which took place in Las Vegas. “No excuses, he beat me. I had to find out what went wrong and I know that what went wrong was that I was over-trained and I had jetlag.

“You saw that fight — after two minutes, I was completely exhausted. This time, I’m not over-trained and I came to Rio Rancho more than two weeks before the fight, so no jetlag. I feel great and like I posted on Instagram, ‘Same opponent, different story.’”

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To anyone that hasn’t crossed multiple time zones through the air or dealt with shifts in elevation, the idea of needing to acclimate to a different location or elevation and the challenges of doing so may sound like easy excuses that don’t really carry much weight, but those who have traveled know the struggle is real and the results are evident in Blachowicz’ past performances.

The fight with Anderson in Las Vegas was his first in North America. His second was a loss to Patrick Cummins at UFC 210 in Buffalo, New York, where he again felt lethargic. Since then, any time he’s fought outside of Europe, Blachowicz has made his way to the host city well in advance, giving himself ample time to get acclimated to his surroundings and thereby ensuring he’ll be at his best come fight night.

In addition to making sure to ward against jetlag following the Cummins bout, he also reconnected with his long-time coach, Robert Jocz.

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“I came back to my old coach when the UFC was in Gdansk when I fought Devin Clark,” explained Blachowicz. “When I was with that coach, I won almost everything. When I came back to him, I’m where I am right now — one of the best fighters in the world.

“It’s a big difference,” he added. “I lost a couple fights and now I’ve won almost everything and I’m one of the best in the world, so it’s a big difference. My worst decision was that when I signed my UFC contract, I changed gyms. This was the worst decision in my sporting life. I came back to him and everything is moving in a good way now.”

It most certainly is.

Currently riding a two-fight winning streak and victorious in six of his last seven, Blachowicz is in a prime position to cement his position as a top contender in the light heavyweight ranks with a win on Saturday night in New Mexico.

Despite his impressive current form, however, discussion of this fight and what the future of the light heavyweight division looks like in the wake of last weekend’s title clash between Jon Jones and Dominick Reyes seems largely focused on Anderson, with Blachowicz being cast as a non-threatening obstacle in the former Ultimate Fighter winner’s path to title contention.

“I don’t care,” he said when asked about being somewhat overlooked by the public heading into this weekend’s main event. “I can be the underdog; I don’t care. The pressure is on Corey’s side, not on me, so I don’t care. It’s good for me.

“He beat me the first time and he knocked out Johnny Walker, so everybody thinks he’s much better than me, but they are wrong and I’ll prove that on Saturday,” he added. “They put pressure on him, not on me. My mind is clear, I know what I have to do, and I will do this.”

While things with Anderson certainly didn’t go his way four-plus years ago at the MGM Grand, his history in rematches has provided Blachowicz with a little additional comfort and assuredness heading into their second meeting on Saturday.

“Everybody has to learn,” began Blachowicz, who has squared off against an opponent who has beaten him twice before, emerging victorious both times. “When you lose, you lose, but you have to learn something in order to be a better fighter. Every time I lose, I learn something and try not to make the same mistakes.

“I like rematches,” he added. “I won my rematch with Sokoudjou, my rematch against Jimi Manuwa, and I’m going to win this time against Corey. I’m a better fighter in the second fight, always. I’m always better in the second fight and this time is going to be the same.”

It may have taken Jan Blachowicz a little time to figure out how to be at his best inside the Octagon every time out, but since getting the old band back together and becoming an early traveler, everything has clicked for the Polish standout and he expects that to continue this weekend.

“I am ready for everything, but I think Corey is going to use his boxing and try to take me down; do the same thing he did in the first fight,” he said. “But when I visualize this fight, I see myself knocking him out in the second round.

“I don’t know if it will be a left hand or a right hand, but I see me knocking him out.”

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