Blog Page 976

Thompson wants to win the belt for New York

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NEW YORK

Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson has been making the trip from South Carolina to New York City regularly for about three years.

The famed training partner of Georges St-Pierre during his illustrious title reign caught the eye of rising middleweight star Chris Weidman and the rest, as they say, is history.

Thompson and Weidman have become as close as brothers – and they are actually family. Weidman’s sister married Thompson’s brother.

Over the course of the last three years, Thompson has made New York City his home away from home.

“There’s no fans like New York fans. I’m going to win this title for you guys,” Thompson said Wednesday at the UFC 205 Open Workouts. “I’ve been coming out here since Chris Weidman fought Anderson Silva, and you guys have made me feel very welcomed and like one of your own.”

Thompson is one of the most dynamic strikers in all of MMA. He was a professional kick boxer become making the switch to MMA, and his elusive quickness, hand speed and lethal head kicks have made him a virtually unstoppable force in the division.

UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley brought in young rising star Sage Northcutt for his training camp to try and provide a similar look and feel that he’ll have against Thompson. Northcutt is a karate fighter, but Wonderboy thinks that nobody can emulate his style.

“I don’t think he’s ready. Sage Northcutt is a good karate guy but if you watch him fight he’s more of a wrestler,” Thompson said. “It’s very difficult to figure (me) out. I’ve fought a lot of guys who have brought in karate guys and I’m just a little different.”

Woodley fine with proving people wrong, again

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NEW YORK

For UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley, the path to stardom and the title belt he now holds was a grueling trek.

Almost 10 years after he made his mixed martial arts debut, Woodley now defends the crown in arguably the UFC’s most competitive division on the biggest stage in the history of the sport – Madison Square Garden.

And the champ is going to stop and smell the roses Saturday before he tries to defeat Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson.

“This is a dream come true. I used to fight in bars where the smoke would go into the ring as I was fighting,” Woodley said Wednesday at the UFC 205 Open Workouts. “So to fight in Madison Square Garden – I’m going to tear this place down Saturday night.”

Woodley is coming off one of the most destructive finishes in the history of the division at UFC 201 when he knocked out former champion Robbie Lawler in just two minutes. It was the fastest finish in welterweight championship history, but the champ still isn’t getting the respect he feels he deserves.

In the co-main event on the greatest fight card ever assembled, Woodley is a 2-to-1 underdog against Wonderboy. But the slight isn’t bothering “The Chosen One.”

“They like me to fuel my fire and I prove them wrong every single time. I’ve been the underdog my last five fights and I’ve won them all,” Woodley said.

UFC Unfiltered: T. Woodley & R. Lamas

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UFC Welterweight champ Tyron Woodley calls in to talk about his UFC 205 fight with Wonderboy Thompson, telling moments during faceoffs, idolizing Mike Tyson, and more. Later, Featherweight contender Ricardo Lamas joins Jim and Matt in studio to talk about his big win over Charles Oliveira, the cancelled BJ Penn fight, Conor McGregor and the state of the Featherweight division, Jean-Claude Van Damme movies, and more. Plus, Jim and Matt discuss the cancellation of Rashad Evans vs. Tim Kennedy at UFC 205 and Jon Jones’s suspension.

Some of the highlights from Episode 42 of UFC Unfiltered include:

Tyron responds to Wonderboy saying he’s „breaking“ already

Tyron on the importance of faceoffs

Tyron is just focusing on Wonderboy, nobody else

Ricardo says Diego Sanchez talked BJ out of fighting

Ricardo on the state of the Featherweight division

Ricardo on how he matches up to Conor McGregor

UFC Announces First Quarter Schedule for 2017

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After an action-packed 2016 campaign, the UFC is not resting on its laurels in 2017, as the promotion announced the ten events that will fill the first three months of the year with plenty of high-impact bouts.

With the Sunday, January 15 event at Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix (to be aired on FS1) already announced, fight fans got a new dose of dates on Wednesday, beginning with UFC 208, which lands at Honda Center in Anaheim on Saturday, January 21.

The first FOX event of 2017 will take place on Saturday, January 28, as the Octagon travels to Pepsi Center in Denver.

After the FS1 card on Super Bowl weekend in Houston’s Toyota Center on Saturday, February 4, the UFC will make its debut in the borough of Brooklyn, New York, as February 11th’s UFC 209 event will be at the home of the Brooklyn Nets and New York Islanders, Barclays Center.

Sunday, February 19 will see the first Canadian event of the year, as Scotiabank Centre in Halifax hosts a UFC Fight Night event on FS1.

Next up will be a two-night extravaganza in Las Vegas, as T-Mobile Arena hosts a Fight Night card on Friday, March 3, and UFC 210 on Saturday, March 4.

A week later, on March 11, the UFC will be at a location to be announced in Brazil for a UFC Fight Night card on FS1, and then it’s off to London, England’s O2 Arena for a Fight Night event on Saturday, March 18.

Stay tuned to UFC.com for fight card announcements and ticket on-sale dates.

The Ultimate Fighter 24: Episode 9 Recap

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The quarterfinals rolled on in the latest episode of The Ultimate Fighter, as Hiromasa Ogikubo from Team Benavidez took on Adam Antolin from Team Cejudo.

The fight matched up one of the competition’s best grapplers in Ogikubo against an upstart contender in Antolin, who made big waves with his first win in the competition as he pulled off a TKO victory over UFC and WEC veteran Damacio Page. While Ogikubo and Antolin were focused on their fight, there was plenty else happening away from that quarterfinal showdown this week inside the house.

As the fighters enjoyed a barbecue thanks to some of the coaches, teammates Tim Elliott and Eric Shelton ended up enjoying a few too many adult beverages, and that led to a heated discussion in the hot tub that later continued into the house.

Elliott, a multi-time UFC veteran, was trying to explain to his teammate that just making it to fight in the Octagon doesn’t solve anybody’s problems and it’s a lot of hard work to maintain that spot. Elliott found that out the hard way after he won two fights in a row in the UFC and then dropped his next three bouts, leading to his exit from the promotion. Elliott and teammate Damacio Page have both experienced the absolute highs of fighting inside the world famous Octagon and the unbelievable lows that accompany being released as well.

Elliott tries to explain to Shelton in some very harsh terms that just getting a shot in the UFC doesn’t exactly mean you’ve „made it,“ but instead suggests that inking the deal only begins the real hard work of maintaining a top spot on the roster.

„You think being in the UFC is going to fix all your problems – it ain’t!“ Elliott shouted at his teammate.

The heated argument never got physical by any means, but it certainly tested the relationshio between the two teammates, who could potentially meet in a fight if they both make it to the semifinals.

Elsewhere this week, as Adam Antolin prepares for his showdown with Hiromasa Ogikubo in, he’s also dealing with a back injury that got tweaked in his matchup with Page a few weeks ago. Back injuries are sometimes the most painful for a fighter to go through because it can severely hamper the ability to move or train properly, which then leads to less preparation ahead of a big fight. In addition, if the back is still acting up in the fight, Antolin then has to face a dangerous opponent while also battling against his own body as well.

Thankfully, Antolin did get some extra help from his teammate Nkazimulo Zulu, who fought Ogikubo in the opening round of the tournament. Zulu gave Antolin some tips and tricks to deal with Ogikubo’s unorthodox striking as well as the way he looks for the takedown while applying his versatile grappling attack on the mat.

As for his opponent, Ogikubo has been trying his best to learn more English throughout the season while dealing with a severe communication barrier with his coaches and teammates since the first day he arrived on the show. This week, some of the fighters decide to help Ogikubo out with his English as he tries to learn a few more words ahead of his bout with Antolin. Ronaldo Candido, who was born in Brazil but now speaks great English, seemed like a huge help as he tried to teach his teammate a few words and phrases this week.

The competitors from Team Benavidez and Team Cejudo also enjoyed a little down time this week, with a game of charades that involved everybody picking from a hat and then imitating the fighting style from somebody else in the house. As hilarious as it was to watch the guessing game, perhaps the best moment came when Ogikubo got involved and was given the task to imitate boxing legend Muhammad Ali.

Ogikubo pulled off the impression with flawless accuracy as the other fighters cracked up laughing as he showed off some of Ali’s signature punches and taunting inside the ring.

Once the fun and games were over it was time to prepare for the battle ahead.

Ogikubo showed off a ton of promise in his opening round matchup against Zulu, but there’s no doubt Antolin pulled off the real shocker when he finished Page by TKO in arguably the biggest upset of the season thus far.

„He treats every fight like it’s his last,“ UFC President Dana White said about Antolin ahead of the bout with Ogikubo.

HIROMASA OGIKUBO VS ADAM ANTOLIN

At the start of the opening round, Ogikubo came out with an aggressive attack that Antolin countered with a nice trip that put his opponent on the mat, but the move actually backfired on him as the Japanese grappler quickly latched onto a leg and swooped under for a takedown of his own. Once Ogikubo got the fight to the ground, he showed off his world-class grappling skills by methodically breaking down Antolin’s guard and working to advance his position. Ogikubo showed incredible patience while inching his way past Antolin’s full guard and then past his half guard until he got the mount.

Ogikubo started to rain down shots from the top and it looked like he might get a finish, but Antolin did a good job surviving and kicking out of the position. Ogikubo wasn’t going to be deterred, however, as he continuously pressed the action and eventually took Antolin’s back against the cage. Ogikubo nearly locked in a rear naked choke, but he couldn’t quite get the submission before the round came to an end.

The second round saw a lot more of the same as Ogikubo constantly pressured Antolin while looking for takedowns, and the American was left playing defense for the biggest part of the five-minute session. To his credit, Antolin was able to resist Ogikubo’s takedowns and ground control much better in the second round, but it still didn’t lead to much offensively on his part. Ogikubo’s ground control was masterful throughout, and even when it seemed like he was giving up a takedown to Antolin, he always seemed to find a way to reverse positions and end up on top instead.

When it was all over, there was no question that Ogikubo did more than enough to earn the unanimous decision victory and move on to the semifinals.

With Ogikubo joining Alexandre Pantoja in the third round, the next episode will actually feature the final two semifinal bouts, as Tim Elliott takes on Matt Schnell while Eric Shelton squares off with teammate Ronaldo Candido.

McGregor sees UFC dream fulfilled at MSG

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NEW YORK

The presidential election may be over, but featherweight champion Conor McGregor wasn’t done campaigning, even greeting a baby in the crowd at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday before getting down to the open workout that precedes his UFC 205 main event against lightweight king Eddie Alvarez this weekend.

But if it comes down to popularity, “The Notorious” may have already taken this one in a landslide, based on the greeting he got from his fans as he worked with striking coach Owen Roddy. And McGregor was appreciative of the support, smiling from ear to ear as he celebrated being one half of the first UFC main event to be held in New York City

“It (fighting in the Garden) means the world to me,” McGregor said. “I’ve had a crazy, busy year, I’ve been working very hard for the fans and I couldn’t miss this event, no way. I built this event.”

That comment drew a sizable roar, and a smile from a gentleman who wondered if the UFC taking place in Madison Square Garden would ever be a reality.

“This is more than history; this is the fulfillment of a dream,” said Bruce Beck, the award-winning sportscaster who was the UFC’s play-by-play man from 1994 to 1997. “It was a pipe dream. I don’t know if we ever thought that this was possible.”

Back then, from UFC 4 to UFC 15, it was seen as an accomplishment to get sanctioned anywhere for an event. As the years went on, even that appeared to be a mountain too high to climb.

Live from New York blog: Alvarez brings ‘it’ factor to McGregor fight | Lone undefeated UFC champ making most of changes | Nurmagomedov hopes NYC win leads to title shot | Romero returns for MSG glory | NY Native Weidman ready for Romero challenge

“They (the UFC) were just trying to get sanctioned in New York for so long, but early on, there were so many other things to worry about,” Beck said. “There were no weight classes, there were no time limits, no judges. There were only three rules: no biting, no eye gouging, no fish hooking. So we were in the early stages of a sport that was a renegade sport, and (Senator John) McCain was calling us ‘human cockfighting.’

“We did not know it would evolve into this billion dollar empire, which is handled brilliantly and that (UFC President) Dana (White) has taken to a level that I never expected.”

McGregor, 28, has played a big role in the UFC’s growing popularity, and his spot atop the bill at MSG is a testament to that. Beck, who called the fights of UFC legends like Royce Gracie, Dan Severn, Ken Shamrock, as well as the promotion’s only previous event in New York (UFC 7 in Buffalo), has watched the development of the Dubliner with great interest.

“He transcends the MMA world,” Beck said of McGregor. “He’s a little bit of an eclectic, eccentric, out there guy. He’s got the talent, he’s got the braggadocio, and you look back at all the great boxers in history that we talk about like Ali, Mike Tyson, Floyd Mayweather — these guys all talk and a lot of the things they do outside the ring or the Octagon are taken upon as gospel too. So he’s a guy that’s not only looked upon as this great fighter, but as a guy who is an absolute character that represents the sport, and his following is amazing.”

McGregor, who topped off his Wednesday performance in typical mic-dropping style by picking up a basketball and hitting his one and only shot from the top of the key at MSG, would probably agree with statement. And if he had any doubts (not likely), making history by beating Alvarez and becoming the first fighter to hold two UFC titles simultaneously would probably do the trick.

And he agrees, saying that if he wins on Saturday, “I become immortal.”

More on UFC 205: Fight card for Nov. 12 | Reasons to watch  | Champions Alvarez, McGregor to headline historic card | Woodley-Wonderboy welterweight title clash set | Polish stars Jedrzejczyk, Kowalkiewicz perfect for NYC | Preview the main cardand the prelims | By the Numbers: UFC 205 has big non-title fights too | Limited seats available | Pre-order the digital PPV

Stipe Miocic talks UFC 205 in New York City

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Lone undefeated UFC champ Jedrzejczyk making most of move to ATT

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NEW YORK

Joanna Jedrzejczyk is one of the greatest fighters in the UFC.

The only remaining undefeated champion in any of the UFC’s weight divisions, the Polish-born superstar has systematically laid waste to most of the women’s strawweight division in a manner that rivals current pound-for-pound king, Demetrious Johnson.

Live from New York blog: Alvarez brings ‘it’ factor to McGregor fight | Nurmagomedov hopes NYC win leads to title shot | NY Native Weidman ready for Romero challenge | Romero returns to MSG

So if things are working so great, why has she suddenly opted to change things up dramatically and join American Top Team ahead of this weekend’s UFC 205 bout against compatriot Karolina Kowalkiewicz?

It’s about more than wins – the 29-year-old wants no doubt that she is the best. And she feels ATT can help her reach the next level.

“Obviously she was an undefeated world champion, so (the move) shows that she is always striving to be better, to be the best she can,” ATT coach Mike Brown said during Wednesday’s open workouts. “She’s making small improvements, but not changing too much – but there’s a lot to be gained from the team, a lot of world class training partners and world class coaches with many different ideas.

NEW YORK, NY - NOV. 09: UFC straight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk of Poland holds an open training session for the media and fans inside Madison Square Garden. (Photo by Brandon Magnus/Zuffa LLC)“It’s really just tightening up some things, some small technical changes but nothing major. We don’t want to change too much, she’s an undefeated world champ for a reason, but we’re improving in all areas. Small improvements, nothing major – she’ll be the same killer she has always been.”

With such a big spotlight fighting in New York City, not only the media capital of the world but also one of the biggest concentrations of people of Polish descent outside Poland, it’s clear Jedrzejczyk wants to put on a show against Kowalkiewicz.

But Brown is looking beyond this fight and into the future for the newest ATT champion, joining Amanda Nunes and Tyron Woodley.

“She’s getting better each week and I think in six months to a year you’ll see a completely different fighter,” Brown said.

Jorge Mondaca is managing editor and writer for UFC.com. Follow him on Twitter at @JorgeAMondaca

Kennedy-Evans clash shifted to UFC 206

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Tim Kennedy vs Rashad Evans has been rescheduled.

Originally slated to take place at UFC 205 on Nov. 12, the Kennedy-Evans bout has been shifted to UFC 206 on Saturday, Dec. 10 from the Air Canada Centre in Toronto.

The middleweight bout is the latest addition to a packed fight card in Toronto, one which already features Daniel Cormier vs Anthony Johnson in the main event, Max Holloway vs Anthony Pettis and a battle between Top 15 light heavyweights Nikita Krylov vs Misha Cirkunov, amongst others.

See the full UFC 206 fight card

Tickets for the night of fights on Dec. 10 are available on Ticketmaster.ca. For those unable to make it to Toronto, the main card will be available on Pay-Per-View.

Romero recalls MSG experience ahead of UFC 205

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NEW YORK

If it appears that middleweight contender Yoel Romero has been the forgotten man in his UFC 205 matchup against native New Yorker Chris Weidman, Cuba’s “Soldier of God” hasn’t noticed.

“Forgotten by who?” Romero asked with a smile during Ultimate Media Day for Saturday’s bout at Madison Square Garden.

Not by the fight fans who have been eagerly anticipating the clash between the No. 4-ranked Romero and Weidman, the former UFC middleweight champion who currently sits in the No. 2-spot at 185 pounds. But even if Romero isn’t bothered by the attention being afforded his opponent, the reality is that the pre-fight focus of the media has been on Weidman fighting at home for the first time in his pro MMA career.

But the last one to compete in the Garden wasn’t Weidman, but Romero, a 2000 Olympic Silver medalist in freestyle wrestling who took to the mat in the mecca in 2003.

Live from New York blog: Alvarez brings ‘it’ factor to McGregor fight | Nurmagomedov hopes NYC win leads to title shot | NY Native Weidman ready for Romero challenge

“I feel comfortable here,” said Romero, 39, who surprisingly still decided to leave NYC.

“That’s correct,” he laughs. “This is a beautiful city.”

Romero, who carries an unbeaten seven-fight UFC streak into the Octagon this weekend, will likely have an even fonder place in his heart for the Big Apple if he wins, especially since it would put him firmly in line for a shot at champion Michael Bisping.

“The rumors that are going about is that whoever wins goes for the title,” said Romero, but he’s not looking that far ahead. Well, he is a little, and he wouldn’t mind contesting for the title in the Garden.

“Right now, I don’t have much focus on the title, but it would serve as a great finish for my career,” Romero said. “Not only in my career, but in the career of any athlete. To have the opportunity to fight for a world title, here, in the mecca, would be extraordinary. But that’s just a comment, that’s not what I’m thinking about right now.”

More on UFC 205: Fight card for Nov. 12 | Reasons to watch  | Champions Alvarez, McGregor to headline historic card | Woodley-Wonderboy welterweight title clash set | Polish stars Jedrzejczyk, Kowalkiewicz perfect for NYC | Preview the main cardand the prelims | By the Numbers: UFC 205 has big non-title fights too | Limited seats available | Pre-order the digital PPV

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