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Gonzalez proving to family that dreams can come true

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As Pearl Gonzalez prepared for her UFC debut against Cynthia Calvillo this Saturday, she spent three months back home in Illinois, about an hour away from where she grew up in Pilsen, a neighborhood in the Lower West Side of Chicago.

It was a lot more peaceful for the 30-year-old strawweight in the suburbs, but she never forgot where she came from.

“When I lived downtown in Pilsen, which is where I grew up, it was very tough being here, and being in the area of where I grew up is always risky,” she said. “It’s heavily gang-infested, there are shootings every other day, but when I come to Chicago, I stay with my coach, who lives an hour out in the suburbs, and it’s really nice. I only go to the city when I need to and I feel a lot safer in the suburbs.”

Even being a professional prizefighter isn’t enough to guarantee safety on the streets of Chicago these days. In December, highly regarded boxing prospect Ed Brown was murdered, another tragic statistic for a town in need of some hope for its young people. Gonzalez, a former Golden Gloves champion who is now 6-1 as a pro mixed martial artist, wants to be that hope.

“It’s what I live for,” she said. “I was one of those kids. Both of my parents were drug addicts, they were homeless when I was young, and I’ve literally been fighting for my life since I was born. I have 11 little cousins and nieces who are unfortunately still in that same hell, and what I live for is to prove to them that it doesn’t matter where you come from, it doesn’t matter what you are a product of. All that matters is that you dream and you stay focused and committed to that dream. I’m gonna show that to them on April 8th.”

Get ready for UFC 210: Check out the full fight card | Reasons to watch | Cheat Sheet | Ouch! Feel Rumble’s power | DC-Rumble, Weidman-Mousasi ready to fight | Listen: Cynthia Calvillo joins UFC UnfilteredKatlyn Chookagian | Watch: UFC 210 Countdown | Snoop Dogg breaks down DC … and Rumble | How to order the PPV

Gonzalez, long considered a top prospect and owner of a 2013 victory over UFC vet Cortney Casey, can’t get a better showcase for that dream than on the UFC 210 main card, where she will face off with fellow up and comer Calvillo, who made an impressive splash in her debut last month, submitting Amanda Cooper in less than four minutes.

“I am a big fan of hers,” Gonzalez said of her foe. “I loved her walkout – she was so confident and comfortable and it looked like she was having a great time – and then she came out and put on a great performance. It was very exciting and quick, so I’m a big fan of hers. I think she’s very tough, she’s adding a lot of flavor to the division, and I’m really excited for this fight.”

It’s a far cry from the trash talking battles often seen before a fight, but Gonzalez, who sees no need to act tough since she has already proven herself, doesn’t get caught up in such matters.

“She’s just the next opponent, the next challenge,” she said. “It’s not personal. All that matters is what happens in those 15 minutes that I’m in the cage with her.”

Pearl Gonzalez (right) and Cynthia Calvillo (left) pose at UFC 210 Media Day in Buffalo, NY
After a rough start, it’s clear that Gonzalez is well on her way to role model status in her chosen trade, and it can only get better from here. In her eyes, the only reason it’s all happening for her now is because of mixed martial arts.

“There were a lot of dysfunctional people that were drawn to the sport and I was one of them,” she said. “I found much success and an outlet for that dysfunction through fighting and, today, it’s so different. I’m disciplined, and when it comes to being out in the streets I’m not looking for a fight. I’m the exact opposite of what I was and it was because of MMA. It made me who I am today. There’s a stereotype (of fighters), but as the sport evolves, we’re showing that we’re professionals.”

And as such, Gonzalez has made the sacrifices necessary to succeed. That includes giving up time with her husband and family in order to chase a dream. Those sacrifices won’t stop now. In fact, as a UFC fighter, they’re only beginning. But she’s willing to pay that price.

“Unfortunately, this career is very selfish,” she said. “I’ve been away from home, my husband, my family for the past three and a half months and I’m a hundred percent focused on what I need to do to prepare for my debut. It has been this way for many years, and in fact I’ll be more selfish these next few years than I’ll ever be. This is a very selfish sport and I am one hundred percent dedicated and committed and I have an amazing partner that understands that this is what’s required. So my family understands and they’re so supportive of this. I’ve been dreaming of this moment since I was 21 years old and I’m here today. It’s a dream come true that I’m living and I’m just enjoying every single moment.”

PRIDE’s 30 most memorable moments

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In celebration of „PRIDE never die“ Week on UFC FIGHT PASS, UFC.com takes a look back at the 30 most memorable moments in the organization’s history – from the epic Sakuraba-Gracie clash, Fedor’s reign to the Frye-Takayama battle and much more.

PRIDE Grand Prix 2000 Finals – Sakuraba outlasts Gracie in 90 minute epic
UFC FIGHT PASS subscribers: Click here to watch this memorable moment
It was an epic battle never seen before in the modern era of mixed martial arts and will probably never be seen again. For 90 minutes, Kazushi Sakuraba and Royce Gracie matched wits, and eventually, the tenacious Sakuraba was able to pull ahead in the bout, and with Gracie exhausted and punished by a series of leg kicks, cornerman and brother Rorion Gracie threw in the towel, rendering Sakuraba the winner.

PRIDE 17 – Wanderlei Silva begins 205-pound title reign
UFC FIGHT PASS subscribers: Click here to watch this memorable moment
Brazil’s Wanderlei Silva made his reputation on the brutal vale tudo circuit in his home country, but the style that earned him the nickname “The Axe Murderer” didn’t truly get honed until his tenure in PRIDE. On November 3, 2001, Silva stopped Japanese hero Kazushi Sakuraba for the second of three times, becoming the first PRIDE middleweight (205-pounds) champion and beginning a reign that wouldn’t end until 2007.

PRIDE Grand Prix 2000 Finals – Mark Coleman resurrects career, wins 2000 Grand Prix
UFC FIGHT PASS subscribers: Click here to watch this memorable moment
Neil Young said it’s better to burn out than fade away, and that looked to be the case with Mark Coleman, who pounded out six UFC victories before going on a three-fight skid and getting his walking papers. But ‘The Hammer’ wasn’t about to fade away, and in PRIDE’s 2000 Grand Prix he showed it, finishing off Igor Vovchanchyn in the finals and then putting on one of the sport’s most memorable post-fight celebrations.

PRIDE 1 – Rickson Gracie kicks off the PRIDE era
UFC FIGHT PASS subscribers: Click here to watch this memorable moment
Considered by many to be the greatest fighter of the Gracie clan, Rickson Gracie kicked off the PRIDE era in Japan just like his brother Royce began the reign of the UFC in the United States – with a submission victory. Gracie forced Nobuhiko Takada to tap via armbar 4:47 into the first round, and with the launch of PRIDE, MMA would never be the same again.

PRIDE FINAL CONFLICT ABSOLUTE – Cro Cop wins 2006 Openweight Grand Prix
UFC FIGHT PASS subscribers: Click here to watch Cro Cop vs Wanderlei | Re-live the Cro Cop-Barnett clash
After countless wars and losses in two of his previous three bouts, Mirko Cro Cop was perceived as a fighter who may have seen better days when he entered the 2006 Openweight Grand Prix. His demise was greatly exaggerated though, and after wins over Ikuhisa Minowa and Hidehiko Yoshida, Cro Cop ended his emotional run with a one night command performance that saw him finish Wanderlei Silva and Josh Barnett to win the Grand Prix.

PRIDE 21 – Frye vs Takayama – And then a hockey game broke out
UFC FIGHT PASS subscribers: Click here to watch this memorable moment
“Subtlety will not be apparent in this fight,” said commentator Stephen Quadros before the Don Frye vs Yoshihiro Takayama fight, and he couldn’t have been more spot on, as the fighters met and immediately threw bombs, with the sequence of the two holding on while delivering right hand after right hand in hockey fight fashion remaining one of the most memorable moments of the PRIDE era. Oh yeah, and Frye won via first round TKO.

2003-04 – The Wanderlei Silva-“Rampage” Jackson Rivalry
UFC FIGHT PASS subscribers: Click here to watch this memorable moment
Though UFC fans with short memories may just remember “Rampage” Jackson’s UFC 92 win over Wanderlei Silva, back in PRIDE, it was “The Axe Murderer” who left two savage bouts against Jackson with his hand raised. These two standouts didn’t like each other, and they let everyone know about it, adding an intensity to their bouts that captivated fight fans. And the Silva who took out Jackson was the best Wanderlei we’ve ever seen.

PRIDE Critical Countdown 2005 – Rua and Lil’ Nog engage in a battle for the ages
UFC FIGHT PASS subscribers: Click here to watch this memorable moment
When rising stars “Shogun” Rua and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira met, stakes were higher than usual. It was the quarterfinal round of the 2005 Grand Prix, and it was also a clash between the warring Chute Boxe (Rua) and Brazilian Top Team (Nogueira) factions. But all that was forgotten during a three round battle that showed off all the best aspects of MMA, and though Rua was declared the victor, the fans were the real winners.

PRIDE Final Conflict 2003 – Nogueira rises again to finish Cro Cop
UFC FIGHT PASS subscribers: Click here to watch this memorable moment
In a career of amazing comebacks, this may be the one you have to put in Antonio Rodrigo “Minotauro” Nogueira’s time capsule. Beaten and battered by the game’s most ferocious striker, Mirko Cro Cop, Nogueira’s resolve was tested like never before during a horrific first round. But in the second, “Minotauro” took Cro Cop down and finished him off with an armbar, completing a miraculous come from behind victory.

PRIDE 25 – Fedor: The reign begins
UFC FIGHT PASS subscribers: Click here to watch this memorable moment
Antonio Rodrigo “Minotauro” Nogueira was the first and unquestioned king of PRIDE’s heavyweight division, but like any inevitable change of power, the new monarch will come in by force, and after PRIDE wins over Semmy Schilt and Heath Herring, Russia’s Fedor Emelianenko decisioned Nogueira in March of 2003, beginning a reign that lasted for the rest of the organization’s history, making his nickname, “The Last Emperor”, even more fitting.

PRIDE 15 – Rampage debuts against Sakuraba
UFC FIGHT PASS subscribers: Click here to watch this memorable moment
Few were aware of who Quinton Jackson was when he was recruited to face Kazushi Sakuraba at PRIDE 15 in July of 2001. But with a heavy-duty chain around his neck, a haunting howl, and thudding slams that would become his trademark, the man now known as “Rampage” introduced himself to the world in memorable fashion despite losing to the Japanese superstar via first round submission.

PRIDE Total Elimination 2005 – Shogun makes statement with destruction of Rampage
UFC FIGHT PASS subscribers: Click here to watch this memorable moment
Brazil’s Mauricio “Shogun” Rua was rightfully seen as one of MMA’s top prospects when he entered the 2005 Middleweight (205-pound) Grand Prix. But when he took on perennial contender “Rampage” Jackson in the first round of the competition and delivered a frightening first round beatdown that ended with soccer kicks, Rua went from tournament hopeful to favorite in the matter of four minutes and 47 seconds.

PRIDE Critical Countdown 2004 – “Rampage” almost puts Arona through the ring
UFC FIGHT PASS subscribers: Click here to watch this memorable moment
Its part of every “Rampage” Jackson highlight reel, and rightfully so. Two fights removed from his first loss to Wanderlei Silva, Jackson needed a win over Ricardo Arona to get a rematch, but when the Brazilian ground ace locked in a triangle choke, things didn’t look good. Then the American picked Arona up over his head and slammed him to the mat, knocking him out instantly in a blistering display of power.

PRIDE Shockwave 2004 – Gomi gets a Lil’ Evil on Jens Pulver
UFC FIGHT PASS subscribers: Click here to watch this memorable moment
With the UFC’s lightweight division on hiatus from 2004 to 2006, it was the perfect time for Japan’s Takanori Gomi to stake his claim as the top 155-pound fighter in the game, and what better statement to make than to beat the last (and then only) man to hold the UFC crown in Jens Pulver? And ‘The Fireball Kid’ did just that, knocking Pulver out in the first round of an exciting standup scrap.

PRIDE 19 – Bad Blood: Don Frye vs Ken Shamrock
UFC FIGHT PASS subscribers: Click here to watch this memorable moment
It was a fight that probably should have happened in the Octagon in the mid-90’s, but better late than never, as early UFC pioneers Don Frye and Ken Shamrock finally met in PRIDE in 2002. And the fight lived up to the hype, as Frye won a hard-fought decision in a bout that may have been the first to put PRIDE on the mainstream radar in the United States.

PRIDE Final Conflict 2003 – Liddell iced in Tokyo
UFC FIGHT PASS subscribers: Click here to watch this memorable moment
With UFC President Dana White sending Chuck Liddell to PRIDE to represent the UFC in the 2003 Middleweight Grand Prix, the idea was that “The Iceman” would eventually meet PRIDE standout Wanderlei Silva in the finals. But fellow American Quinton “Rampage” Jackson was going to have something to say about that, and he did, stopping Liddell in the second round of their semifinal bout in the Tokyo Dome.

PRIDE Total Elimination 2003 – Cro Cop Crushes Vovchanchyn
UFC FIGHT PASS subscribers: Click here to watch this memorable moment
It may be safe to say that hard-nosed Ukrainian heavyweight Igor Vovchanchyn was before his time, as his prime came before the worldwide MMA explosion. Mirko Cro Cop was right on time though, and armed with the phrase “right leg hospital, left leg cemetery,” he made his bones in PRIDE with a single devastating head kick that knocked Vovchanchyn unconscious at 1:29 of the first round.

PRIDE 10 – The Gracie Hunter wins, but Renzo won’t tap
UFC FIGHT PASS subscribers: Click here to watch this memorable moment
Nicknamed “The Gracie Hunter” for good reason, Kazushi Sakuraba sent four members of MMA’s first family (Royler, Royce, Renzo, Ryan) to defeat in PRIDE, but what was memorable about his fight with Renzo Gracie wasn’t what happened, but what didn’t, as Renzo refused to tap out to the fight-ending kimura, breaking his arm in the process. To this day, Gracie keeps one picture in his New York academy – that of the Sakuraba fight.

PRIDE Final Conflict 2005 – Fedor defeats Cro Cop
UFC FIGHT PASS subscribers: Click here to watch this memorable moment
When Fedor Emelianenko won the PRIDE heavyweight title, he was on a collision course with Mirko Cro Cop, and after the Croatian put together a seven fight winning streak that included a knockout of Fedor’s brother Aleksander, he was finally granted his shot in what was one of the most highly-anticipated bouts of all-time. Emelianenko took the drama out of it early though, dominating from start to finish en route to a decision victory.

PRIDE Shockwave – “Minotauro” slays “The Beast”
UFC FIGHT PASS subscribers: Click here to watch this memorable moment
For a split second, many watching the Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira vs Bob “The Beast” Sapp bout wondered whether it was even possible for “Minotauro” to survive the repeated pro wrestling style piledrivers he absorbed from the 6-4, 300-pounder. But like a horror movie character, Nogueira rose from the dead, exhausting Sapp with his resolve before submitting him with an armbar in the second round.

PRIDE 17 – “Minotauro” Nogueira becomes PRIDE’s first heavyweight champion
UFC FIGHT PASS subscribers: Click here to watch this memorable moment
When the history of mixed martial arts is written, the heavyweight chapter will undoubtedly feature the name of Antonio Rodrigo “Minotauro” Nogueira. A little more than two years into his pro career, his legend truly began when he pounded out an impressive unanimous decision win over Heath Herring on November 3, 2001, becoming PRIDE’s first ever heavyweight champion in the process.

2000 / 2007 – The Dan Henderson – Wanderlei Silva series
UFC FIGHT PASS subscribers: Click here to watch the first battle at PRIDE 12 | Watch the PRIDE 33 battle here
Two-time United States Olympic wrestler Dan Henderson got rude welcome to the PRIDE organization in 2000 when he was met by the furious assault of “The Axe Murderer”, Wanderlei Silva, who decisioned him at PRIDE 12. Nearly seven years would pass before Henderson would get his shot at redemption, and he made the most of it, knocking Silva out to become the first man in history to hold PRIDE titles in two weight classes simultaneously.

PRIDE 16 – Don Frye in the first event after 9/11
UFC FIGHT PASS subscribers: Click here to watch this memorable moment
With the tragic events of 9/11 still on the minds of millions around the world, Don Frye entered the PRIDE ring on September 24th to face Gilbert Yvel, and for the first time, the end result (a Frye win via disqualification) really didn’t matter. What did matter was that Frye, the quintessential American, showed the country’s fighting spirit, particularly during an unforgettable ring entrance that tugged on even the toughest heartstrings.

2003-2004 – Fedor is human – well, at least a little
UFC FIGHT PASS subscribers: Click here to watch the PRIDE 26 battle | Watch the PRIDE Critical Countdown clash
With his long reign over the heavyweight division, mechanical precision and unassuming manner, it’s easy to forget that Fedor Emelianenko is also human, something shown when he got rocked badly by Kazuyuki Fujita at PRIDE 26 and suplexed by Kevin Randleman at PRIDE Critical Countdown. Those fights were in 2003-04, and he came back to win both by submission. No one in PRIDE came close to beating him after that.

PRIDE 32 – The US Invasion
UFC FIGHT PASS subscribers: Click here to watch this memorable moment
After years of success in Japan, PRIDE was going to test its brand in the fight capital of the world – Las Vegas, Nevada, and though the rules were altered to adhere to the unified ones used in the United States, fans were pleased to find out that PRIDE was still PRIDE, complete with stars “Shogun” Rua, Kevin Randleman, Dan Henderson, Vitor Belfort, and a main event that saw Fedor Emelianenko submit Mark Coleman.

PRIDE 33 – Bad boy Diaz stuns Gomi
UFC FIGHT PASS subscribers: Click here to watch this memorable moment
After a spotty UFC campaign that saw him lose three of his last five fights in the organization, Nick Diaz looked to get himself back on track in PRIDE’s second United States show, and he did more than that against lightweight champion Takanori Gomi, as he pounded “The Fireball Kid” before a gogoplata ended matters in the second round, a result overturned when Diaz tested positive for marijuana after the bout.

PRIDE Shockwave 2004 – Chonan submits “The Spider”
UFC FIGHT PASS subscribers: Click here to watch this memorable moment
Although the record of current pound-for-pound king Anderson Silva shows a 2006 defeat to Yushin Okami via disqualification, the UFC middleweight boss’ last “real” loss came to another Japanese standout, Ryo Chonan, who stunned the Brazilian with one of the rarest of submissions – a flying scissor heel hook that ended the bout at the 3:08 mark of the third round.

PRIDE 31 – Coleman vs Rua I – the Aftermath
UFC FIGHT PASS subscribers: Click here to watch this memorable moment
The fight itself was nothing to brag about, but after Mark Coleman was awarded a victory after “Shogun” Rua broke his arm while getting taken down by “The Hammer”, all hell broke loose, and when you’ve got a brawl in the ring involving Coleman, Rua’s brother “Ninja”, Wanderlei Silva, and Phil Baroni, it tends to stick in your mind. Cooler heads eventually prevailed, and Rua got even by stopping Coleman at UFC 93 in 2009.

2005 – Chute Boxe vs Takanori Gomi
During the PRIDE years, Chute Boxe had their issues with Brazilian Top Team and Mark Coleman’s Hammer House squad, but in 2005, the standouts from Brazil got into it with one man – PRIDE lightweight boss Takanori Gomi, who beat Jadson Costa and Luiz Azeredo, the latter provoking an in the ring altercation over Gomi’s late shots on Azeredo. Gomi apologized, but still got the last word with two more wins over his rivals that year.

PRIDE Shockwave 2004 – Olympians meet in Saitama
It was a marketer’s dream, two Olympic gold medalists meeting in the PRIDE ring for all the world to see. And while the bout between judo gold winner Hidehiko Yoshida and wrestling’s Rulon Gardner wasn’t a barnburner, it does deserve a footnote in history, especially considering that Gardner’s unanimous decision win came in his first and only mixed martial arts match.

Mousasi confidence sky-high at media day

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Gegard Mousasi’s confidence is sky-high. Maybe it’s no different from how his attitude has always been, but now he is comfortable expressing it. Mousasi doubled-down on some brash statements at Wednesday’s UFC 210 Media Day.

Mousasi has new attitude, says he’s in his prime

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An interview with Gegard Mousasi, who faces Chris Weidman in Saturday’s UFC 210 co-main event, is very similar to the way the 31-year-old middleweight has been performing lately.

Economical, but effective, his words – like his punches – are delivered without any apparent exertion, yet they crack home with the power to stop you dead in your tracks.

While the style in the cage doesn’t come with any flourishes or flare that sets it apart from his colleagues and contemporaries, the direct, genuine responses he gives at all times when stationed on the other end of a microphone or telephone are dramatically different than the standard fare. In the process, it has turned the talented contender into even more of a cult favorite than he was before he eschewed the “nice guy says nice things” approach in favor of just spitting the truth.

Just a handful of days away from one of the biggest fights of his career, Mousasi’s confidence is at an all-time high. Where others would offer up a string of compliments about their opponent before adding a thought or two about why things will fall their way on fight night, Mousasi opts instead to omit any praise for Weidman and cut to the quick when it comes to his thoughts on this weekend’s penultimate tilt.

“I’m in my prime,” he says in his trademark laconic flow. “He has to be lucky to be able to win or may the best man win, but I doubt if he can beat me April 8.”

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The brashness of the statement is muted by the fact that he says it without any change in pitch or passion.

A handful of days away from stepping into the cage with a highly motivated former champion, Mousasi has set Weidman’s odds of winning at “slim to none” and declared them as such with about as much energy and passion as you can muster when thanking your great aunt Trudy for buying you an ugly pair of socks for the sixth consecutive birthday.

People read the obituaries aloud with more gusto than the former Dream and Strikeforce standout managed while assessing Weidman’s chances, but the matter of fact delivery underscores that Mousasi isn’t saying these things to garner attention or give journalists an easy headline.

He believes it fully and completely and has zero hesitation sharing his views with anyone who asks for them.

After struggling with injuries and rushing back to action quicker than he admits he should have, the Netherlands-based veteran has found his rhythm. Since making a collection of changes to his coaching staff and training regimen following his September 2014 loss to Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza, Mousasi has been on a roll, showcasing his smooth, technical boxing while building a ton of momentum in the dangerous middleweight division.

Jacare Souza submits Gegard Mousasi during their middleweight bout in 2014
Gegard Mousasi celebrates after defeating <a href='../fighter/Uriah-Hall'>Uriah Hall</a> last November. For Mousasi, it avenged a loss to Hall he suffered in 2015″ align=“center“/><p>“I changed everything, a lot of things – training, trainers – after the Jacare fight,” he said. “Since then, I had seven different opponents and I dominated every single one of them. Only guy I lost to, I set it straight, so I think after the Jacare loss, I’m a different fighter.”</p><p>Mousasi has indeed been rolling, running through <a href=Thales Leites, Thiago Santos and Vitor Belfort with little resistance before earning a first-round stoppage victory over Uriah Hall in November, just six weeks after settling Belfort at UFC 204, to avenge his previous defeat to the former Ultimate Fighter standout.

Long viewed as a potential title threat in the treacherous 185-pound ranks, everything seems to be coming together at the right time for Mousasi and it’s that combination of factors that provides him with the confidence to admit he has doubts about Weidman’s ability to beat him Saturday night at KeyBank Center.

“I think being injury-free, having the right people around me, being physically strong, mentally strong, experienced, a couple wins in a row, you get motivation,” he said, running through the elements that have coalesced in advance of this weekend’s contest to fill him with certainty about its outcome. “I’m confident. I’m very confident going into this fight.

“No one is taking me down in training and I don’t feel like he’s gonna. I train with heavyweights. He’s in my weight class, so I have no doubt I can beat him.”

While he’s been quick to share his thoughts on the state of the division in advance of this weekend’s return to “The Queen City,” don’t let Mousasi’s willingness to discuss current events lead you to believe that he is distracted or his focus is divided.

The fact that Saturday’s bout with be the 50th of his career hadn’t crossed his mind, nor was he interested in investing a moment of thought in the milestone. Instead, he thinks about the six losses and two draws on his record and how – with the right training and proper preparation – he could have avoided those setbacks.

So while he may be willing to share his opinions on the title picture, Mousasi knows everything hinges on beating Weidman and that exactly what he intends to do.

How?

“I don’t know,” he said, the perfect honest starting point for his assessment of how the bout will play out. “I think I will keep it standup – punish him for every mistake – and I will look for the takedowns also. I’m going to shoot on him if he’s not careful. Other than that, let him make mistakes.

“If I hit him and he goes down, he goes down. If not, I’m fine with a decision. I’m here to put on a solid performance, not a finish. If it comes, it comes; I’m just here to win.”

Buffalo native Green ready to make most of UFC opportunity

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BUFFALO, N.Y.

Desmond Green has had a recurring dream the past six years. In it he gets a call from the school he broke records for as a Division-1 wrestler.

“The Predator” was the first University at Buffalo wrestler in history to record 100 wins before his senior season and needed just 36 more to break the all-time mark.

But Green, who is set to make his UFC debut at UFC 210 on April 8 at Keybank Center, never got his chance at history. He was dismissed from the team after a second positive test for marijuana.

In his dream, Green said UB officials offered him his last year of eligibility back so he could go for the record.

“So many times I look back at that situation and – I love UB but I feel ashamed,” Green said. “It wasn’t even the NCAA, it was the school. I feel like I was targeted. But everything happens for a reason though. When that happened it sprung me into MMA.”

Photo via Desmond Green's instagram @predatortoon

Green (19-5) has been knocking on the door of the UFC for years. The lightweight prospect, who takes on Josh Emmett (10-0) on the UFC FIGHT PASS prelims at UFC 210, feels like he’s just now blossoming into a complete fighter.

After leaving UB, Green’s journey took him on a trek across the U.S. and even abroad. He has spent time in New York, Colorado, Montreal and now calls Florida home as a member of the transitioning Blackzilians team.

While training and studying other fighters during his travels, Green said he’s tried to implement Bruce Lee’s famous instruction: “Absorb what is useful, discard what is not, and add what is uniquely your own.”

“I’ve been blessed to be able to train at some of the top gyms in the world,” he said. “I’ve trained with top fighters from Georges St-Pierre to Anthony Johnson. I’ve been able to see all these fighters go through different regimens and what works for them. I’ve been able to take a little bit from everybody.”

Green found his most influential training partner in Florida with No. 6-ranked UFC lightweight Michael Johnson. “The Menace” has helped Green round out his game. The two go at it training and have developed a special bond.

“Our team is known for having the best strikers in the world and he’s right in there, competing with everybody and getting better day by day,” Johnson said. “His wrestling is his biggest threat but people shouldn’t sleep on his striking because he has knockout power. He loves to scrap.”

Green has won his last four fights since moving to lightweight after struggling with the weight cut down to 145 pounds. He said that he was basically at 60 percent in his featherweight fights because of the drastic cut. He even had to go so far as to chop off his trademark dreadlocks (where he gets his nickname Predator) on two occasions just to make weight.

Get ready for UFC 210: Check out the full fight card | Reasons to watch | Cheat Sheet | Ouch! Feel Rumble’s power | DC-Rumble, Weidman-Mousasi ready to fight | Listen: Cynthia Calvillo joins UFC Unfiltered, Katlyn Chookagian | Watch: UFC 210 Countdown | Snoop Dogg breaks down DC … and Rumble | How to order the PPV

After what Green called the best fight camp of his career, the Rochester native is ready to perform in front of his hometown crowd. It may not be the wrestling homecoming he dreamed of, but it’s still a dream come true.

“For this fight everything is going to be perfect,” he said. “I’m putting together the weight, the diet and the training, and people are going to see the best Desmond Green.”

Matt Parrino is a digital producer and writer for UFC.com. Follow him on Twitter at @MattParrinoUFC

Dana White’s fate-tastic tale

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NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 10: (L-R) Opponents Eddie Alvarez and Conor McGregor of Ireland face off during the UFC 205 press conference inside The Theater at Madison Square Garden on November 10, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)BROOKLYN – At the time, Dana White was a 20-something in Boston who was just trying to make an honest buck while searching for his lot in life. He took college for a spin, enrolling at the local University of Massachusetts campus and lasting two semesters. When that didn’t take, he roamed the New England landscape working odd jobs.

He checked IDs and ejected unruly drunks as a bouncer at the Black Rose, an egg toss away from Quincy Market. He had a gig as a bellhop in a Boston hotel. He had five years of hard labor while working for a paving company. A former amateur boxer, his side job to side jobs was giving lessons to prospective fighters.

It was the early 1990s in South Boston, hardly the environment tourists experienced while strolling through rich history along the Boston Harbor. The visitors’ bureau didn’t distribute pamphlets for Southie, which had become an exercise in survival during notorious gangster Whitey Bulger’s reign of terror.

„I was in Southie,“ White said, „when Southie was still Southie.“

Read entire article now at buffalonews.com…

UFC Unfiltered: Don Frye, Doug Benson

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Comedian Doug Benson joins in studio to talk about his new Comedy Central show, „The High Court“, superhero movies, hosts a contest between Jim and Matt, and more. Later, UFC Hall of Famer Don Frye calls in to talk PRIDE Never Die! week on UFC Fight Pass, overcoming his recent health issues, and gaining perspective from his near-death experience. Plus, Jim talks about getting tricked on April Fool’s Day, and the guys discuss Michael Chiesa vs. Kevin Lee, Tim Boetsch vs. Johny Hendricks, and much more.

Some of the highlights from Episode 83 of UFC Unfiltered include:

Don talks about his back surgery and going into a coma for three weeks

Don talks about waking up in the ICU

Don on his changed outlook after his near-death experience

Dos Anjos Makes Welterweight Debut in June

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Former UFC lightweight champion Rafael Dos Anjos will travel to Singapore this June to make his 170-pound debut against former Strikeforce champion Tarec Saffiedine on Jun. 17.

The UFC Fight Night bout will air live on UFC FIGHT PASS from Singapore Indoor Stadium in Kallang.

Winner of five of his last seven bouts, Brazil’s Dos Anjos held the 155-pound crown from March 2015 to July 2016. But after a Fight of the Night battle with Tony Ferguson last November, RDA has decided to test the waters of the welterweight division, beginning with Belgium’s Saffiedine, a seasoned veteran who has scored UFC victories over Hyun Gyu Lim and Jake Ellenberger.

Anthony Johnson: ‘DC didn’t break me; I broke myself’

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When most people think about the first fight between Anthony Johnson and Daniel Cormier at UFC 187, one of the first things that come to mind is the looping right hand that put Cormier on the canvas just 28 seconds into the opening round.

A lightning quick jab pierced Cormier’s guard before the thunderous overhand chased it home, taking the feet out from under the American Kickboxing Academy product and sending a jolt of electricity through the MGM Grand Garden Arena. As they prepare to meet for a second time this weekend in the main event of UFC 210, that initial blow and the trio of punishing knockout finishes Johnson has amassed since stand as Exhibits A through D for pundits and fans making the case for a new champion being crowned in Buffalo.

While the impact of that blow and Johnson’s destructive power are the explosive fuse wrapped around Saturday’s main event rematch, it’s everything that transpired immediately following that connection that momentarily eliminated Cormier’s ability to stand that remains at the forefront of the challenger’s mind heading into the sequel.

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Frustrated by his performance and knowing that he made mistakes inside the cage, Johnson went roughly six months without watching the tape of his first meeting with Cormier before a restless night prompted him to press play, study the film and examine the decisions that resulted in him coming away on the wrong side of the result the first time around.

“I think I was too afraid to watch it because you never want to see yourself making the mistakes that I made in the fight because they were so critical,” the challenger explained. “It was eating at me the whole time and in the middle of the night, I was like, ‘Screw it!’ and decided to watch the fight.

“I still look at it and think, ‘That’s not me out there.’ It’s more of a disappointment because of my performance, not even the fact that I lost; just my performance. That’s the main reason why I didn’t want to watch it, because I wasn’t myself.”

He points to the sequence following the knockdown, where he rushes forward slinging wild shots as Cormier quickly gathered himself only to have the standout wrestler slip behind him and take his back, as a mental error, one of several that contributed to his demise.

“You keep making mistakes during a fight, pretty soon you’ll break mentally,” Johnson offered. “Daniel didn’t break me; I broke myself.”

Though it took him several months before he was able to re-watch the fight with Cormier, Johnson didn’t spend any time licking his wounds on the sidelines or dwelling on the defeat. Four months after the bout, he was back in the Octagon collecting a second-round knockout win over current contender Jimi Manuwa before needing just 99 seconds to finish Ryan Bader and Glover Teixeira in his two 2016 appearances.

After starching the Brazilian in August, Johnson respectfully asked Cormier for a rematch and the champion was happy to oblige, only to have the bout postponed when “DC” suffered a leg injury just a handful of days before they were set to clash at UFC 206 in Toronto.

Now the contest shuffles down the QEW and across the Peace Bridge to KeyBank Center in Buffalo, where “Rumble” aims to rebound from his only loss in the last five years and earn a measure of revenge against Cormier.

“When I lost to DC, it opened up a whole other chapter in my life. It made me see things a lot differently because the things that I was doing back then, they were working for that moment and that time. Not taking any credit away from any of the fighters I fought before DC, but I never had to use anything that I had been taught with the jiu-jitsu and that type of stuff.

“I’m not a jiu-jitsu fighter; you don’t see me out there trying to throw an armbar on anybody. The day you see me throw an armbar, that’s probably the day I retire.”

While the challenger cackled at the notion of him becoming a submission fighter, it also underlines the blessing and the curse that carrying such prodigious power can be inside the cage.

LAS VEGAS, NV - MAY 23: (L-R) Anthony Johnson kicks Daniel Cormier in their UFC light heavyweight championship bout during the UFC 187 event at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on May 23, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC)

In many instances, both during his initial time competing in the UFC as a welterweight and the five years since, Johnson has only needed that one shot to land clean for his night of work to be over. Having legitimate one-shot knockout power is an immeasurable trump card to carry into the Octagon and Johnson might very well be the most devastating striker on the entire roster, but when those big shots land and the fight doesn’t end, staying composed and avoiding mistakes are crucial.

Johnson was unable to do that the first time and it cost him, but the challenger has no intention of making the same mistakes again.

“When I lost to DC, the moment I stepped out of the cage, I was already thinking of what I needed to do to win, to beat him, to beat somebody at that level because I was right there scratching at the surface,” he said. “I’m still there, but I’m about to break some ground.

“With the training that I’m doing now, with the coaches that I have in my corner, it’s amazing. They got me ready. They have me ready and they have me right. Everybody is pretty excited for what’s about to happen.”

Santos vs. Aubin-Mercier heads to Rio

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Ultimate Fighter alums Leonardo Santos and Olivier Aubin-Mercier will both attempt to extend their winning streaks on Jun. 3 when they collide in a UFC 212 lightweight bout at Jeunesse Arena in Rio de Janeiro.

In the main event, Jose Aldo and Max Holloway collide in a battle for the undisputed UFC featherweight title.

Owner of back-to-back finishes of Thibault Gouti and Drew Dober, Montreal’s Aubin-Mercier is a submission ace who has won five Octagon bouts since making it to the finals of TUF Nations in 2014. A year earlier, Santos won TUF Brazil 2 by submitting William Macario, and after a draw with Norman Parke, he has won four in a row, including finishes of Kevin Lee and Tony Martin.

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