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UFC 246 50/50 Raffle Sets UFC Record

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On Saturday, January 18, UFC kicked off its 2020 charitable initiatives with UFC 246: McGREGOR vs. COWBOY, which took place at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. More than 19,000 UFC fans representing 39 countries descended on Las Vegas, as the event marked the highly anticipated return of former two-division champion Conor McGregor, as he faced veteran Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone in the main event.

50% of the net proceeds – $54,325 – will benefit UFC’s charitable partner for the event, Opportunity Village, a long-standing Las Vegas charity and Nevada’s largest employer of people with disabilities. Opportunity Village serves nearly 2,000 individuals annually, providing vocational training, employment, habilitation and other services.

UFC 246 was a huge success that secured numerous records, such as the 4th largest gate in UFC history ($11,089,129.30) and set a new 50/50 raffle record by raising $108,650.

The winner of the other 50% of the jackpot, Kyle Klosowski of Miami, FL, immediately came forward following the event. Klosowski, a long-time UFC fan, attended UFC 246 with a group of friends, and purchased 300 entries on a single $100 ticket.

“This is amazing. We came for McGregor and he won,” Klosowski said. “Then on top of it I won $50,000, and the other half is going to an amazing cause, so not a bad trip.”

The other 50% of the proceeds ($54,325) will directly benefit Opportunity Village, which serves nearly 2,000 individuals annually, providing vocational training, employment, habilitation and other services.

“We’re really excited to be here tonight with UFC,” said Daryl Sprague, Major Gifts Officer, Opportunity Village. “We have the chance to tell people about Opportunity Village and share the work that we do for the people in Southern Nevada with disabilities. We’re proud of the partnership we have with UFC.”

During 2019, UFC conducted 11 50/50 raffles that collectively grossed more than $390,000 with net proceeds benefitting local charitable organizations in the communities that have hosted UFC during Fight Weeks in the United States and Canada.

UFC 246 was UFC’s fifth 50/50 raffle in Las Vegas. UFC 50/50’s in Las Vegas have collectively totaled more than $320,000 with net proceeds benefitting local charities Make-A-Wish, Nevada Childhood Cancer Foundation, Catholic Charities, Miracle Flights, and now Opportunity Village.

Keep an eye out for the next UFC 50/50 raffle at UFC 248: ADESANYA vs. ROMERO on Saturday, March 7 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. UFC will be partnering with Three Square Food Bank, Southern Nevada’s only food bank providing food assistance to the residents of Clark, Nye, Lincoln and Esmeralda counties.

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

UFC Rio Rancho: Fight By Fight

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COREY ANDERSON VS. JAN BLACHOWICZ

Saturday’s main event is a multitude of things: it’s a matchup between the top two contenders in the light heavyweight division; a rematch from UFC 191, which Anderson won handily; and, most importantly, a case study in allowing fighters time to develop once they reach the UFC.

Anderson won the light heavyweight competition on Season 19 of The Ultimate Fighter, and while there were some ugly losses along the way, the last two years have been the return on investment Anderson and those around him foresaw when he came off the show, as the hard-working former collegiate wrestler has developed into a more complete mixed martial artist and an undeniable threat in the light heavyweight ranks.

Over his last four fights, the 30-year-old Anderson has registered decision wins over Patrick Cummins, Glover Teixeira, and Ilir Latifi, and quickly shut down any talk of Johnny Walker being next in line for a title shot by stopping the Brazilian a little over two minutes into their meeting at UFC 244.

Blachowicz arrived in the UFC as an established name to those who follow European MMA, having ruled the light heavyweight ranks in KSW, rounding out his time with the Polish promotion by posting wins over UFC veterans Sokoudjou, Mario Miranda, Houston Alexander, and Goran Reljic. After winning his debut in impressive fashion, Blachowicz dropped four of his next five fights, including his first meeting with Anderson, leaving him in dire need of a win and observers wondering if he had what it takes to compete at this level.

The 36-year-old standout is 6-1 since then, earning victories over the likes of Jared Cannonier, Jimi Manuwa, Nikita Krylov, and Luke Rockhold, with his only setback coming against recent title challenger Thiago Santos. He’s gotten back to fighting the way he did under the KSW banner — moving confidently, playing to his strengths, not allowing opponents to dictate the terms of engagement — and it has elevated him into the championship mix.

Although there are never any guarantees when it comes to what opportunities the future may hold, these two are unquestionably the top two contenders in the 205-pound ranks at the moment and the victor will have an unassailable case for challenging for the title at some point later this year.

It was an intriguing matchup the first time it transpired, but it’s even more compelling now, and should be a fantastic close to an action-packed night of fights in Rio Rancho on Saturday. 

Nathaniel Wood Is Ready To Turn It Up

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“Provided I come out of it with no injuries, there’s no reason why I still can’t get on that London card,” said Wood. “I’d like that. My fitness would be at its high and I could keep my weight nice and low. So, for me, that would be an ideal scenario.”

Fighting as much as he can in 2020, whether in Rio Rancho, at home in England, or anywhere, for that matter, would be ideal for “The Prospect” as he looks to get some momentum back after being forced to sit out for much of last year due to a broken arm.

Before that injury, Wood was on the fast track at 135 pounds after a trio of UFC finishes over Johnny Eduardo, Andre Ewell and Jose Quinonez that extended his current winning streak to eight. And after a few weeks on vacation with his lady, Wood was raring to go until the brakes were put on him getting a second fight in 2019.

Watch UFC Rio Rancho On ESPN+ | On The Rise: UFC Rio Rancho

“I’ve had a long layoff, but in a way I feel like it’s got my body some well-needed rest and I definitely feel like I’m more hungry than ever to get in there and put myself in the top ten of the rankings,” said the 26-year-old, who can certainly get to where he wants to be should he defeat New Mexico’s own “Magician.” And though Dodson may be 1-3 in his last four, that victory was over Pedro Munhoz and the losses were via decision to Marlon Moraes, Jimmie Rivera and Petr Yan.

But you don’t have to remind Wood of his opponent’s resume.

“I was watching Dodson on The Ultimate Fighter when I was just a fanboy,” he said. “He’s been in there with the best, he’s fought for the belt twice, so to go against him, not only is it quite surreal for me, but it would one hundred percent put me in the top rankings. The names of the people he’s fought, no one could finish him, so if I can go in there and either A) knock him out or B) submit him, where does that put me in line compared to everyone else? It’s a lot of pressure, but it’s very exciting as well. It’s a big fight for me, but there will be a lot of reward come the win.”

Finishing Dodson is a tall order, especially considering that no one at 135 or 125 pounds has been able to do it, but then again, Wood has proven quite adept at ending his fights before the final horn, as he’s finished 14 of his 16 wins. In fact, all eight of the victories on his winning streak have come via knockout or submission, making it clear that the adjustments he made after his last loss to Alan Philpott in 2016 have worked.

“I was overdoing it, I think,” said Wood. “I’ve always looked at it as every training session has to be as brutal as it can be and I was trying to fit in three sessions every day. I was ticking the boxes and I was turning up and getting the sessions in, but I wasn’t really concentrating on honing my skill set. Since then, with my team, I’ve improved a lot more in the quality of my sessions. If anything, I’ve cut down the sessions, so it’s more about quality over quantity, and since then, I’ve been on an absolute tear. I feel like I’ve got the right coaches, the right pad men, the whole team behind me, and I think it’s just my confidence. I don’t over think things anymore. I’m just happy to be doing what I love for a living. There’s a lot worse things going on in the world than for me to worry about stepping into the Octagon. I just enjoy it. Do what you love, train hard, and when I turn up, just believe in my skill set.”

And he believes he can do what a Who’s Who of the flyweight and bantamweight divisions haven’t been able to:

Finish John Dodson.

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“If I’m honest, every fight I have, I always go in wanting to make a statement,” Wood said. “I’d rather the crowd come away and think, ‘Wow, what an entertaining fight that was,’ whether I won or lost, as opposed to, ‘That guy just dragged out a win,’ which I think Dodson’s known for. He’s not exactly the most exciting fighter sometimes; he can run a lot in the fight and not engage as much. So I’m hoping with it being his hometown, he’s gonna come at me and be more aggressive for this one. I think he’s gonna get a lot more excitement and adrenaline rush behind him and I think he’s gonna get daring. And, for me, that’s the style I like. I like the guys that come in and try and trade with me. And if he does what I think he’s gonna do, then I believe I’m gonna knock him out within two rounds.

“I’m on a mission to achieve my dreams and, unfortunately, Dodson’s the one standing in my way at the moment.”

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

UFC 247 Scorecard

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Before last weekend’s card, I asked Dominick Reyes if Jon Jones would go into the dark places that needed to be visited if their UFC 247 main event turned into a gritty five-round battle. Reyes agreed that Jones would, and the champion did just that, methodically coming back from an early deficit to eke out a close (one bizarre 49-46 score notwithstanding) decision victory. Now we can debate the decision and let’s do that. For the record, I had Reyes winning 48-47, but with the third being a round that could have gone either way, I have no problem with the final verdict; in other words, this was no robbery. But what’s not up for the debate is that fact that Jones has championship level heart, something that we haven’t always seen because he’s been so dominant. But when he needed to step up, he stepped up. It may not have been spectacular, but it was gritty, and sometimes we need to see that from the greats to show that despite all the accolades, they’re still human.

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

UFC Statement Regarding The Regulation of MMA in France

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On Friday, as part of the recognition process for MMA in France, the Ministry of Sports held a press conference alongside the French Boxing Federation to confirm that they will be the federation entrusted with development of MMA in France. UFC is delighted with this major step for the development of MMA in France.

Lawrence Epstein, UFC Senior Executive Vice-President & COO, stated, „We are very pleased the Minister of Sport, Roxana Maracineanu, has taken this crucial step in the recognition of MMA in France.  France is a leader in sport and a trend setter for the rest of the world.  Although the recognition process for MMA still involves several stages, we’re excited about the prospects for eventually bringing a live UFC event to France, and we would like to thank all parties who have been involved in the process to regulate our sport.  We’re also looking forward to collaborating with the French Boxing Federation (FFB), with which MMA shares many values and a sport we already have such close ties to in the U.S., to help develop MMA in France.“

Following an announcement to regulate MMA in France by the Ministry of Sports in September 2019, a tender was launched to decide which federation would develop the sport if it were to be officially recognised. The federations who applied included: FSGT (The Sports and Gymnastics Federation), FFKMDA (Kick Boxing, Muay Thai, Pancrase), Wrestling, Karate Savate and French Boxing. The Sports Ministry enlisted a board of independent consultants to provide their advice on the decision. Roxana Maracineau declared that the French Boxing Federation would be the most suitable federation to house MMA, the CNOSF (The French National Olympic and Sports Committee) was consulted on this decision.

UFC will closely follow the next steps of the recognition process.

On the Rise: UFC Rio Rancho

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Weaver was scheduled to make his promotional debut last fall in Tampa, Florida, but just a handful of days before the event, the Contender Series graduate was forced to withdraw from the card. Now four months later, Weaver is hoping his second attempt at making the walk to the Octagon for the first time continues to follow a similar trajectory as his time on the Contender Series did, as his initial appearance at the UFC Apex was scuttled before he returned a few weeks later and earned himself a contract.

The 28-year-old turned heads last summer, securing a unanimous decision victory by outworking Devin Smyth in a fight where Weaver talked to his opponent the entire time. The victory pushed his winning streak to seven, a run that includes wins over fellow Contender Series alums Max Mustaki and Tyler Hill, as well as veteran Charles Bennett.

Saturday night, Weaver is slated to face off with Kazula Vargas, a 34-year-old veteran who landed on the wrong side of the results in his first UFC appearance last summer in Uruguay. He’d won seven of his previous eight appearances ahead of that fight, so it’s possible the combination of competing in South America and Octagon jitters hampered his performance.

Of the 25 athletes to earn UFC contracts last summer in Las Vegas, Weaver was one of the most talked about of the bunch, so the expectations are high and the spotlight will be on him, especially with a main card assignment. The late withdraw last time out has only heightened the anticipation for his appearance this weekend, so it will be interesting to see how the debuting lightweight makes out on Saturday night.

UFC 247 Bonus Coverage

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On Friday afternoon there were doubts that Trevin Giles would be able to perform for his hometown. Giles’ original opponent, Antonio Arroyo, was forced to withdraw and in stepped James Krause. Now, just 24 or so hours later, Giles has a victory and a $50k bonus.

Giles overcame adversity early as Krause tried to lock in a submission for much of the first round. The final two rounds were all Giles, as he landed a flurry of powerful hooks. Krause was able to withstand the blows and result was a third-round war.

Giles was ecstatic to get a win in front of his hometown fans. But it was also important for him to right the ship – after an 11-0 start, Giles had dropped his last two bouts. The win halted Krause’s six-fight win streak – even though it was at middleweight and not at welterweight, where he usually competes.

UFC Heading To Portland and Oklahoma City

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The UFC’s spring schedule continues to take shape, with events in Portland, Oregon and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma made official Saturday.

On April 11, the Octagon will be at Moda Center in Portland, with the UFC Fight Night event headlined by the five-round heavyweight bout between Alistair Overeem and Walt Harris.
 
Also announced were six bouts featuring an array of contenders, veterans and prospects.
 
Vicente Luque vs. Randy Brown
Carla Esparza vs. Michelle Waterson
Tristan Connelly vs. Alex da Silva
Don’Tale Mayes vs. Rodrigo Nascimento
Markus Perez vs. Alessio Di Chiricio
Julia Avila vs. Karol Rosa
 
Tickets for UFC Portland go on sale on February 21.
 
Three weeks later, Chesapeake Energy Arena in OKC will host the UFC, with tickets going on sale on March 13. Stay tuned to UFC.com for fight card announcements.

UFC 247 Official Results

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Flyweight contenders Lauren Murphy and Andrea Lee left it all in the Octagon in their three-rounder, with Murphy taking a split decision victory.
 
Scores were 30-27, 29-28 and 28-29 for the No. 7-ranked Murphy, now 12-4. The No. 8-ranked Lee falls to 11-4.
 
As advertised, there was non-stop action from Murphy and Lee in the opening frame, with each standing in the pocket and throwing, with the wear of battle showing on both faces early on. Late in the frame, a takedown from Murphy wasn’t spectacular, but it may have been enough to allow her to edge the close round.
 
Murphy got a late takedown in the second round as well, but before that, it was Lee leading the action as she introduced more kicks to her attack.
 
In the second minute of the third, Lee looked to lock in a choke, but Murphy got out of trouble by turning it into a takedown followed by top control.  Once standing, both fighters continued to throw, Lee landing a hard body kick which was followed by a knee at close range by Murphy.

Katlyn Chookagian’s Moment Is Finally Here

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Chookagian is set to face one of the most dominant UFC champions on Saturday at UFC 247 when she makes her walk to the Octagon. It will also be her first shot at the title and first five-round fight in the UFC. But even under those circumstances – and standing across the cage from Valentina Shevchenko – Chookagian is unfazed.

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“I’ve been training my whole life. I started at four years old and my older brother was a black belt so I wanted to be there,” Chookagian said. “Whether I was in basic MMA class, I always wanted to be the best. Then tournaments, then boxing. Whatever level I was at I always had that push.

“When I started fighting MMA and was an amateur I knew I wanted to be best in the world. That’s always been my goal and if I didn’t see myself as being the best I don’t think I would’ve pursued MMA so strongly.”

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Chookagian’s drive from her early days of competition has carried over into professional MMA. She’s 13-2 (5-2 in the UFC) and both of her losses were split decisions. Coincidentally, her only two defeats have come against Shevchenko’s last two challengers.

So what sets Chookagian apart from those who haven’t been able to unseat Shevchenko? First off, this isn’t her first experience with a belt on the line. Chookagian fought twice – and won – for the CFFC championship. One of those fights went the full five-round distance, so preparing for a potential five-round battle with Shevchenko isn’t anything new.

MORE UFC 247: The Champs | The Challengers | Media Day Faceoffs | Jones Talks Stipe | Dan Ige | Trevin Giles | Derrick Lewis

“I had three five-round fights before UFC, so this isn’t my first time, which was very helpful,” Chookagian said. “Besides that, training has been the same, I spar a couple more rounds but everything I’ve been doing in camps previous to this has been working.”

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The only thing that’s been different for this camp has been the obligations of participating in a UFC pay-per-view title fight. Chookagian has even turned that into a positive, saying that having a full schedule, with media obligations, has kept her busy and kept her mind off constantly thinking about Saturday.

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As for what’s set to go down in the Octagon on Saturday, like Shevchenko, Chookagian is prepared for any type of fight. She knows her and the champ are both comfortable standing and on the ground, and whatever happens, she will be ready.

“I’ve been visualizing this fight since even before the UFC,” Chookagian said. “When she (Shevchenko) became champ I’ve been visualizing it with her but I’ve visualized being a world champ for many years. So to finally be here is surreal and I keep waiting for the moment where it feels intense. Right now it feels like any other fight, which I think is a good thing. I’m not putting it on a pedestal, but I’m also taking it very seriously.”

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

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