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Saint Preux is healthy, motivated and ready for UFC 204

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Ovince Saint Preux is back.

Less than six months from his biggest UFC clash to date, when he stepped up on short notice to fight Jon Jones for the interim light heavyweight title, Saint Preux returns to the Octagon on Saturday ready to prove he deserves the spotlight again.

Sure, he took a loss in that matchup against Jones, the former No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter, in the main event of UFC 197 in April. But Saint Preux gained plenty from the encounter which will help him this weekend and beyond.

“I took a fight on three weeks’ notice, broke my arm in the third round, and to do what I was able to do, in that fashion just alone, let me know that I belong here,” said Saint Preux, currently ranked No. 5 in the division. “Hopefully within the next year I’ll be fighting for the belt.

“There’s a difference between being ready for it and being born for it. Something like this, a moment like this I think I was born for it.”

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The charge towards another high-profile shot begins for Saint Preux in Manchester against No. 8-ranked Jimi Manuwa.

It may not be the main event of UFC 204, but the clash is quite the challenge for Saint Preux. Not only is Manuwa a strong challenger with a 15-2 professional record, but as one of eight fighters with British ties on the card, he’ll have more than his fair share of support within the sold-out crowd at Manchester Arena.

Finally back at full health, Saint Preux is ready.

“(The crowd) isn’t going to affect me” Saint Preux said. “It’s more for him than me – he’s the one that’s got to perform in front of that crowd. More times than the other, the crowd can get you in trouble.

“I just have to go in there and do my job like I usually do. At the end of the day I just need to get my hand raised, but I’m also an entertainer so I’m going to entertain people, too. I’m going to fight my fight. There’s a reason people like watching me fight. As long as I do that I’ll be fine.”

Jorge Mondaca is managing editor of UFC.com. Follow him on Twitter at @JorgeAMondaca

Northcutt vs Gall Set for Sacramento

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Two of the top young rising stars in the UFC will collide on Saturday, December 17, when Sage Northcutt faces unbeaten Mickey Gall in a welterweight bout at Golden 1 Center in Sacramento.

The Sacramento event will air live on FOX. Stay tuned to UFC.com for more fight card announcements.

It’s been a whirlwind year for New Jersey’s Gall. After calling out WWE superstar CM Punk for a UFC bout, he defeated Mike Jackson in his Octagon debut in February before defeating Punk via submission at UFC 203 in September.

Immediately after the bout, he called out Texas phenom Northcutt, and „Super Sage,“ who has gone 3-1 in the UFC with wins over Francisco Trevino, Cody Pfister and Enrique Marin, accepted, with the two meeting this December in an eagerly-anticipated showdown.

Tickets go on sale on October 28.

Both Northcutt and Gall got their UFC break by competinig in front of UFC president Dana White on his YouTube show „Dana White: Lookin’ for a Fight.“ Watch their individual episodes below to get ready for their big fight to end 2016.

UFC Fight Night Manila: Lamas vs. Penn to be Rescheduled

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Manila, Philippines – UFC® announced today that it will reschedule its UFC Fight Night event planned for Oct. 15 in Manila, Philippines due to the loss of the main event. Former UFC champion BJ Penn was forced to withdraw from the main event bout with Ricardo Lamas due to injury.
 
„I suffered a rib injury in training and I apologize to the fans in Manila who were expecting to watch me compete,“ Penn said. “I hope to be back in the Octagon soon.”

Athletes scheduled to compete on the Oct. 15 card will be rebooked at upcoming UFC events in the near future. Each athlete set to compete on Oct. 15 will also receive compensation due to the card being rescheduled. With its 2016 calendar finalized, UFC officials will discuss future dates for the event.

„SMLEI and UFC will continue to work together in the future to deliver exciting live events for fans,”  Edgar Tejerero, President of SM Lifestyle Entertainment, Inc. said.

Fans who have purchased tickets to the event should seek refunds at the point of purchase.

UFC 204 outcome pivotal for Belfort, Mousasi

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MANCHESTER, England

Saturday night’s UFC 204 co-main event between Vitor Belfort and Gegard Mousasi comes at a pivotal moment for the two fighters – one is focused on the present while the other is looking ahead to the future.

For Mousasi, the former Strikeforce champion and No. 9-ranked middleweight, this is a fight that’s been a long time coming. He has wanted to fight “legend” Belfort since 2009, when they were on schedule to battle at a catchweight in Affliction.

RELATED: UFC 204 Countdown – Belfort vs Mousasi | UFC 204 Open Workout highlights | Predictions for UFC 204 | Pre-order UFC 204 digitally now

But this has nothing to do with the past for the Netherlands standout. Mousasi, 31, knows that to reach the promised land of a title fight, the road goes through Belfort.

“He’s a legend, he’s ranked No. 5 – it makes sense,” Mousasi said of his fight against Belfort at Manchester Arena. “Vitor’s No. 5, I’m No. 9 (in the UFC’s rankings). But with the oddsmakers, I’m favored to win. I don’t know how he can be No. 5 if I’m the favorite. I hope to be No. 5 and then we go after that.”

With Father Time catching up to Belfort, 39, “The Phenom” knows it’s all about the here-and-now.

“People have been expecting (me to retire) for my past seven fights. It’s amazing how the media has this expectation,” said Belfort, the former UFC light heavyweight champion. “I don’t have a plan — my plan is to be here right now, fight the good fight and fight the best guys. I don’t want to take any easy fights.

“I think most of us think about the past or the future. Through my career I’ve learned something that’s so special and helped to guide my life: Just live in the moment. I’m living this moment.”

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - OCT. 05: Vitor Belfort of Brazil holds an open training session for fans and media at the Manchester Arena. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC)

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - OCT. 05: Gegard Mousasi of The Netherlands holds an open training session for fans and media at the Manchester Arena. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC)With the two fighters focused on different things, it makes their crossroads clash so intriguing. Both know that, in a crowded middleweight division, nothing less than a win is acceptable to reach whatever goal they have in place – be it big fights or a push towards the title. And with so many contenders set to square off in the coming weeks (former champion Chris Weidman vs Yoel Romero at UFC 205; former champ Luke Rockhold vs “Jacare” Souza a few weeks later in Australia), it may take more than a victory.

“I think (Vitor’s) not at his best but I think he’s adjusted from (past) losses,” Mousasi said. “The guys that he fought were wrestlers. With me, he knows I’m going to fight stand up.

“I hope to finish him in one or two rounds”

Belfort has his own view.

“I think Gegard wants to fight the best guys. That’s an honor for me, having a guy who wants to fight me – one of the best guys in the sport as well. I admire fighters that want to fight the best guys, I have a lot of respect for competitors like that.

“I think (Mousasi) is wrong. Very, very wrong. I’m looking for victory. My name is victory – I’m Vitor!”

Jorge Mondaca is the managing editor of UFC.com. Follow him on Twitter at @JorgeAMondaca

The Downes Side – UFC 204 Predictions

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That’s right lads and lasses, it’s time for another English version of the Downes Side! Live from Manchester Arena, the UFC brings some late night fights at UFC 204. In the main event of the evening, Michael Bisping defends his middleweight title for the first time against Dan Henderson. We’ll examine that fight and a few others.

LEON EDWARDS VS. ALBERT TUMENOV

We start in the welterweight division with Leon Edwards and Albert Tumenov. A southpaw striker, “Rocky” Edwards defends significant strikes at a rate of 57.92%, which is about 56% higher than Rocky Balboa. Albert Tumenov saw his five-fight win streak disappear at the hands of a Gunnar Nelson neck crank back in May.

When you see an English fighter against a Russian one, the prejudiced one in you might jump to conclusions about wrestling. This time around you’re only half right. Both fighters have solid wrestling defense, but they’re not particularly adept offensively. Edwards hit some outside trip takedowns in his last fight, but it’s unlikely he’ll be able to hit those against Tumenov. In terms of striking, Edwards has great head movement, but underutilized leg movement. He plants himself heavy to the mat and doesn’t advance well. This especially happens when he overcommits on his left hand. Tumenov can be passive at times (that was his biggest mistake against Nelson), but his greatest attribute is his counterstriking. When he answers, he comes with fluid, powerful combinations. Tumenov gets back in the win column with a second round TKO.

STEFAN STRUVE VS. DANIEL OMIELANCZUK

Next we move to heavyweight for Stefan Struve and Daniel Omielanczuk. After a long layoff, Struve only needed 16Stefan Struve celebrates his win over <a href='../fighter/Antonio-Silva'>Antonio Silva</a> at Fight Night Rotterdam“ align=“right“ /> seconds to dispatch Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva in his return to action. Stepping in on short notice, Omielanczuk puts his three-fight win streak on the line. A heavy handed southpaw, has also has nine career submission victories.</p><p>Everyone talks about Struve’s reach advantage, but he rarely takes advantage of it. It’s just not his style. Instead of staying on the outside and throwing straight punches, he prefers to fight on the inside. While counterintuitive, his height makes it very easy for him to sneak in knees to the face. This is one of his preferred techniques, especially as a counter to charging opponents. Omielanczuk could take advantage of Struve’s relative passivity, but his strikes can be looping and wide. Even if Struve doesn’t batter him with 1s and 2s, the “Skyscraper” is a more refined striker. Both fighters have sub 50% defense, so expect a slugfest. At the end of the day, Struve’s superior technique and newfound power elevate him to a first round knockout.</p></div><div readability=RELATED: Watch Bisping vs. Hendo 1 from UFC 100 free | Watch Bisping win the title vs. Luke Rockhold free | Bisping reaping rewards from years of sacrifice | Henderson happy to re-write retirement script

OVINCE SAINT PREUX VS. JIMI MANUWA

That brings us to light heavyweight for Ovince Saint Preux and Jimi Manuwa. Saint Preux returns to the Octagon after going the distance with Jon Jones. Powerful, but unorthodox, OSP confuses opponents with his irregular attack rhythm. Manuwa’s two career losses have come in his last three fights. One was against Anthony Johnson and the other was to Alexander Gustafsson, but the “Poster Boy” could use some momentum.

Manuwa and OSP do best when they take control. They prefer to move forward and dictate engagements instead of sitting back and countering. Manuwa especially seems to know only one speed and one direction. OSP, on the other hand, prefers to lull opponents to sleep with inaction and then strike. Much like Struve-Omielanczuk, these two fighters also have sub 50% striking defense. Manuwa likes to stand in the pocket a bit too much, but that could be a strength in this fight. OSP may have gone five rounds with Jon Jones, but the pace of the action was muted. OSP actually threw more strikes in his three round fight against Rafael Cavalcante than in five rounds against Jones. Manuwa may lose the first round, but his pace wears down OSP en route to the upset decision victory.

MICHAEL BISPING VS. DAN HENDERSON

Time for the main event! Michael Bisping has had a storied career in the UFC. Even though he’s currently tied with Georges St-Pierre for the most wins in UFC history, few thought he’d ever receive a title shot, much less become champion. Not only did he win the title, he exacted revenge against Luke Rockhold. Now, six years removed from being a victim of one of the most famous KOs in history, he has another shot at redemption against Dan Henderson.

At lot changes in six years…except for Dan Henderson. He may be older and have some more miles on him, but his power and ability to change a fight with a single strike hasn’t changed. Bisping, however, has elevated his game. He moves around a lot more and hides his strikes with sharp angles and feints. The only problem is that he wastes a lot of punches (his accuracy rate is 38.77%). In his last 10 fights, the only people Bisping has finished are Cung Le and Luke Rockhold. Le gassed and Rockhold fell victim to his own hubris. To win, Bisping has to stay disciplined and dart in and out for five rounds. Henderson needs to connect with one big punch. Bisping’s had a fairy tale story, but this weekend it turns into a nightmare. Dan Henderson strikes again with a second round knockout.

That wraps up another fairy tale edition of the Downes Side (probably one of the Grimm ones). Follow me on Twitter @dannyboydownes. Also, don’t forget to leave your own predictions, analysis, analogues or favorite analogies on the page here.

UFC Unfiltered: Dan Henderson joins pod

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MMA legend Dan Henderson joins the show to discuss his UFC 204 Middleweight title fight against Michael Bisping, his retirement plans, and the evolution of the fight game. Later, actor Thomas Haden Church comes in-studio to discuss his new HBO show Divorce, working with Sarah Jessica Parker, going to Marlon Brando’s house, Bisping vs. Henderson, and secrets of the hotel industry, amongst other things.

Some of the highlights from Episode 32 of UFC Unfiltered include:

Hendo on the fans helping him get a title shot

Hendo will definitely retire after UFC 204

Hendo regrets not being able to test himself against Jon Jones

THC on his early days in radio

THC on SJP and HBO’s Divorce

The Ultimate Fighter 24: Episode 6 Recap

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It’s starting to become a theme on this season of The Ultimate Fighter, as the seventh opening round matchup ended in a finish, with Matt „Danger“ Schnell sinking in a second round submission to finish Matt Rizzo. For those keeping count at home, that’s seven fights and seven finishes thus far in the tournament of champions to determine who will face flyweight king Demetrious Johnson.

Schnell and Rizzo engaged in a back and forth war over two rounds in the best ground battle of the season, but before the two fighters locked horns in the Octagon, they both gave some background on how they got here.

For Matt Schnell, his journey to The Ultimate Fighter actually started when he was just a kid in Louisiana, where he emulated just about everything his older brother did while he was growing up. That meant Schnell was fighting and, according to him, it was happening almost every day for any number of reasons. If somebody looked at him sideways, Schnell would confront the person, and before long, it ended up with fists being thrown. He eventually channeled that aggression into mixed martial arts.

Four years ago, Schnell tasted his first bit of fame after he appeared on a MTV reality series called „Caged,“ which documented the lives of four up and coming MMA fighters as they made their way through the amateur circuit. Schnell was one of the most memorable cast members, and his star power earned him a lot of attention during the early part of his career. Of course that backfired on him after Schnell had somewhat unrealistic expectations about his course to get to the UFC, and after a 3-2 start to his career, he was forced to re-evaluate and make some adjustments.

Among the changes he made, Schnell ended up moving to Florida, where he began training full time with American Top Team – the camp responsible for welterweight champion Tyron Woodley, women’s bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes and fellow Ultimate Fighter cast mate Jaime Alvarez. Schnell came to the Florida-based camp thanks to his friendship with UFC lightweight Dustin Poirier, who also grew up in Louisiana before relocating to American Top Team a few years back.

Since then, Schnell has put together an impressive winning streak while also becoming the interim flyweight champion for Legacy Fighting Championships out of Texas. When he’s not fighting, Schnell is trying to find time to spend with his girlfriend Morgan, who he’s been with for the past four years but it’s all been at a distance. Schnell revealed that his girlfriend lives in St. Louis, so he’s forced to be away from her most of the time except in those rare moments when he can fly in to town to spend time with her. His long-term goal is to win the show, win the UFC title and hopefully find a way that they can be together full-time.

As Schnell prepared for the fight this week, he used coach Henry Cejudo to great effect, considering his opponent Matt Rizzo comes from a wrestling background and would likely be looking for the takedown at some point in their fight. So Schnell worked with Cejudo and the rest of the coaches to get ready for that kind of wrestling attack so he could counter and look for the knockout on the feet.

As for Rizzo, the 30-year-old Pennsylvania native comes to the UFC as the Ring of Combat flyweight champion and the owner of a 9-2 record compiled while facing some tough east coast competition throughout his career. Rizzo lives at home with his parents along with his fiancée as he tries to make it as a professional fighter. Rizzo also holds a full-time job as a security system installer, and then as soon as he punches the clock, he’s making a bee line to the gym, where he can continue to chase his dreams as a mixed martial artist

As noted by his opponent, Rizzo actually started wrestling when he was just four years old, so grappling is something that just runs through his veins. He also developed into a very slick Brazilian jiu-jitsu stylist after falling in love with mixed martial arts. Now Rizzo is trying to put it all together for a run in the UFC, and his golden opportunity came with The Ultimate Fighter this season.

MATT SCHNELL VS. MATT RIZZO

ROUND 1

Just like his coaches predicted, Matt Schnell didn’t have to wait very long for Matt Rizzo to swoop in and start looking for the takedown. Rizzo kept up with relentless pressure as he pushed Schnell up against the cage, but he couldn’t get the takedown until he nearly surrendered a guillotine choke as they fell to the mat. Schnell had his arms wrapped tight around Rizzo’s neck, but to his credit, the Ring of Combat champion toughed his way through the submission and eventually popped his head out to escape. Rizzo continuously looked for the takedown throughout the opening round, but Schnell did a great job scrambling out of bad positions and never getting locked on the ground with the wrestler. Finally, after Rizzo did manage to plant his opponent on the mat with less than a minute to go, Schnell once again looked for an escape, but he used a triangle choke that nearly got locked up before the round came to an end.

ROUND 2

The second round started out much like the first, with Rizzo shooting for a takedown, but he made a critical timing error and Schnell was able to sprawl out before landing on top when they hit the mat. Schnell didn’t maintain the position for very long, however, as Rizzo quickly escaped and then managed to get both of his opponent’s legs and landing yet another takedown. Rizzo was back on top but that maneuver ended up costing him dearly because Schnell once again saw the opening for the triangle choke. Except this time there was no bell to stop the submission from ending the fight. Schnell locked up the hold and Rizzo had no choice but to tap out.

Matt Schnell wins by second round submission via triangle choke and he’s moving on to the next round.

Rankings: Lineker, Moreno make noise in latest official release

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While TJ Dillashaw and Cody Garbrandt continue to campaign for the next title shot against Dominick Cruz, John Lineker made a big statement in the bantamweight division with his win against John Dodson at Fight Night Portland.

Lineker moves up a spot to No. 2 in the rankings, dropping Rafael Assuncao to No. 3. Jimmie Rivera continues to climb since his massive win over Urijah Faber at UFC 203. “El Terror” takes the No. 4 position and drops Bryan Caraway down to No. 5.

After the event, Lineker made his case to Megan Olivi as to why he believes he should be the one to face Cruz next.

“I think I proved to the UFC that I can do this,” Lineker said. “I’ve been winning fight after fight. But if they think I need to fight another fight, I’ll do that also.”

RELATED: Complete official UFC rankings | Watch Lineker backstage interview at Fight Night Portland | Brandon Moreno interview

Brandon Moreno’s upset victory in his UFC debut against Louis Smolka shook up the flyweight division. Moreno is a competitor on this season of The Ultimate Fighter and his early exit allowed him to step in for Sergio Pettis on short notice against Smolka, who had won four in a row.

PORTLAND, OR - OCT. 01: Brandon Moreno of Mexico celebrates after submitting Louis Smolka in their flyweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event at the Moda Center. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC)Moreno’s huge win vaults him into the rankings at 125 pounds. He takes the No. 15 spot and drops Smolka four slots down to No. 13. John Moraga, Matheus Nicolau, Dustin Ortiz and Just Scoggins all jumped ahead of Smolka.

Will Brooks took a tough defeat against Alex “Cowboy” Oliveira, who missed weight by 5 1/2 pounds. The loss dropped Brooks from the No. 12 spot in the lightweight division all the way out of the Top 15 ranks.

Rashid Magomedov reappeared in the lightweight rankings at No. 15 and Gilbert Melendez (No. 11), Francisco Trinaldo, Al Iaquinta and Evan Dunham all jumped up one spot.

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

Cormier-Johnson 2 set for UFC 206 in Toronto

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Since his first fight with Daniel Cormier in May of 2015, Anthony “Rumble” Johnson has gone on a tear, scoring three consecutive knockouts over Jimi Manuwa, Ryan Bader and Glover Teixeira. On Saturday, December 10, Johnson will get a second shot at the current UFC light heavyweight champion, as they meet in a UFC 206 bout at Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario.

Cormier made the announcement on Wednesday’s edition of UFC Tonight on FS1.

Tickets for UFC 206 go on sale on October 20 at 10 am ET. For more information on tickets and to register for the opportunity to buy tickets before the general public, visit www.UFC.com/Toronto

In their first bout at UFC 187 in Las Vegas, Cormier survived an early knockdown to submit Johnson via rear naked choke in the second round. After that bout, which earned Cormier the vacant UFC light heavyweight crown, he won an instant classic over Alexander Gustafsson and decisioned Brazilian icon Anderson Silva. Now the two-time U.S. Olympian will throw hands once more with Georgia’s “Rumble,” who is fresh from a 13-second victory over Teixeira in August, and eager to even the score with Cormier and take the 205-pound title.

LAS VEGAS, NV - MAY 23: (R-L) Daniel Cormier kicks Anthony Johnson in their UFC light heavyweight championship bout during the UFC 187 event at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC)Five other UFC 206 bouts were made official on Wednesday.

In a women’s strawweight bout, Nova Uniao prospect Poliana Botelho will bring a three-fight winning streak into her Octagon debut when she faces Canadian fighting pioneer Valerie Letourneau, a former world title challenger from Montreal.

Flyweight contenders will clash in Toronto, as the No. 7-ranked Zach Makovsky squares off with the No. 10-ranked John Moraga, both intent on stopping recent losing skids.

After a stirring UFC debut in July that saw him face Tony Ferguson on short notice and pick up Fight of the Night honors, lightweight prospect Lando Vannata will make the walk a second time, this time with a full training camp, when he meets seasoned Canadian striker John “The Bull” Makdessi.

Plus, “The Quebec Kid,” Olivier Aubin-Mercier returns in a lightweight matchup against Drew Dober, and also at 155 pounds, Rustam “Tiger” Khabilov puts his three-fight winning streak on the line against the two-fight victory streak of Toronto native Jason Saggo.

Stay tuned to UFC.com for more fight announcements.

Josh Samman, 28, made his mark on the sport

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SIOUX FALLS, SD - JULY 12: Josh Samman steps onto the scale during the UFC Fight Night weigh-in at Denny Sanford Premier Center. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)The UFC sends its sincerest condolences to the family and friends of Josh Samman, who passed away on Oct. 5. He was 28.

A popular figure in the mixed martial arts world who was embraced by the community not just for his fighting ability but for his writing and accessibility to fans and his fellow media members, the Tallahassee native was always searching for the next adventure, whether in the Octagon or in life.

A martial artist since the age of 16, Samman turned pro in 2007 and was a quick study, winning nine of his first 11 bouts. That success earned him a place on the cast of Season 17 of The Ultimate Fighter after several tries at securing a spot on the reality series.

Samman was a writer for UFC.com. Read some of his work: Three-part series on UFC’s Jeff Novitzky – Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 | Samman’s Corner: Behind the Lines, Heavy MattersGetting the call

On TUF 17, Samman won three of his four bouts, losing only to eventual winner Kelvin Gastelum in the semifinals, and thanks to that run, he received a UFC fight against Kevin Casey on the season finale card on April 13, 2013.

Samman won that bout against Casey, and two more over Eddie Gordon and Caio Magalhaes,, garnering him Performance of the Night bonuses before losing back-to-back fights to Tamdan McCrory and Tim Boetsch in 2015-16 that left his final pro record at 12-5.

The Gordon fight was particularly notable, as it wasn’t just one of the most notable knockouts of 2014, but it also took place on Dec. 6 of that year. It would have been the 24th birthday of Samman’s longtime girlfriend, Hailey Bevis, who tragically died in a car accident in August 2013.

“I saw the date on the UFC schedule and I said there’s no way that I can pass this up and not fight on that card,” he said after the bout.

Samman chronicled their relationship in his 2016 memoir, “The Housekeeper: Love, Death & Prizefighting,” a book that showed the middleweight prospect as a talented writer with a compelling tale to tell. But it wasn’t just a life story to him.

“It’s not an autobiography,” he said earlier this year. “It’s not something chronicling my whole life from beginning to end. It’s a memoir. It’s to connect with folks that are going through similar life experiences.”

Samman didn’t have an easy road in fighting or in life, but he battled through and hoped that telling of his struggles would aid those fighting the same demons.

“It’s all human stuff,” Samman said. “All things that we deal with. We all eventually deal with a loved one dying. We all deal with addiction, whether it’s ourselves or loved ones or whatever. We all deal with self-doubt and rejection and heartbreak. This is my story. For me, the purpose of life is to ride this journey and share it with people. Otherwise, what’s the point?”

ORLANDO, FL - DEC. 18: Josh Samman waits backstage during the UFC weigh-in inside the Orange County Convention Center. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)His ability to share his story endeared him to family, friends, his fighting peers as well as total strangers. Samman connected to people on multiple levels like few fighters do, and he kept them up to date with his adventures and insights as he interacted on social media and wrote for several outlets, including UFC.com.

Samman was also a gifted musician and songwriter and he ran a successful amateur MMA promotion in Florida when he wasn’t in the gym preparing for a fight. He even visited Camp Abilities in Brockport, New York in the middle of his training camp for the Boetsch fight to work with blind and visually impaired children.

“I definitely have moments where I struggle, and there are good days and bad days, but I’m healthy and I’m functional, and when I’m doing stuff like this, it helps gives me perspective,” Samman explained. “Sometimes we are dealt crappy hands, and you just have to make the best of it. Not that these kids are any more or less fortunate than I am, because everyone has their battles and stuff that they go through, but it’s just about the perspective that you keep and making sure that you’re making the best of every situation. There are children here that can’t see, that can’t get around without a cane or without a guide, and they’re still walking around smiling all day, laughing, playing and living a happy life. So it’s not just them learning from me, it’s me learning from them as well.”

Those that knew him would say that they learned a lot from Josh Samman, who made a significant mark in only 28 years on the planet.

He will be missed.

According to a statement released by his parents, in conjunction with the AMR Group, on Wednesday, Samman’s cause of death has yet to be determined, pending an autopsy.

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