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Andrea “KGB” Lee Talks Women’s MMA, Invicta FC 16 and More

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Andrea “KGB” Lee is one of the most rapidly rising names, not just in women’s MMA, but in the MMA world as a whole. Last year, she captured the Legacy Fighting Championship’s flyweight title as well as winning the promotion’s Fight of the Year and Submission of the Year awards for that same win over Ariel Beck. The feat of winning two promotional end of year awards was a familiar feeling for Lee, as she emulated that in Invicta FC for her buzzer-beating armbar victory over Rachael Ostovich at Invicta FC 14. With 2016 just under two months old, I had the chance to catch up with the 27-year old starlet.

As mentioned above, 2015 was a huge year in Lee’s young MMA career and it is something she is rightfully proud of. “It feels surreal that so much has happened this year with only 3 pro bouts,” she said. “In 2014 I had around 14 fights. This year I was blessed to have Fight of the Year and Submission of the Year in both Legacy and Invicta FC, which I think that is just a product of my hard work and the direction that my career is heading. The fight with Rachael I can still remember very well, I was very aware in that fight with her. I was conscious of everything that was going on and I knew I was way up on the cards. Donny was yelling to me saying ‘don’t ride it out. Finish this fight.’ I knew what he wanted when he yelled ‘10 seconds’ so I let myself be back packed off of her back so that I could grab an arm. I still can’t believe I got it with 2 seconds left!

Lee’s next scheduled bout will be on March 11th at Invicta FC 16 where she will take on Sarah D’Alelio. At that same event, Vanessa Porto challenges Jennifer Maia for the interim flyweight title, a title shot Lee believes she is “One or two fights away from.” While D’Alelio’s record doesn’t look all that impressive on the face of it at 8 – 6, she has faced a who’s who of women’s MMA in her career, and Lee is under no illusions that she is in for an easy ride. “D’Alelio is no slouch,” she stated. “In fact, she’s probably the best 8-6 fighter in the world. She has submission wins over (Vanessa) Porto and my friend Raquel Pa’aluhi. She’s fought every legend from Ronda Rousey to Julie Kedzie to Shayna Bazzler and Sarah McMann. A win over her does more for my career than a win over a 5-0 nobody. I respect Sarah and consider it an honour to test myself against the bigger, more experienced veteran.

Another fighter on that card is veteran Roxanne Modafferi, the only person to defeat Lee in her MMA career thus far. Lee spoke in glowing terms about her former opponent and hasn’t ruled out fighting her again sometime in the future. “I love Roxanne,” Lee began. “She is such an awesome person and it was an honor to fight her. I didn’t get to perform that night at my best because a few days earlier I was drilling tech sparring to break a sweat and the guy I was working with caught me right on the ear and ruptured my ear drum. Man that hurt, I couldn’t hear very well after and then I got an ear infection and the night of the fight I had fever. It sucked. I wasn’t about to pull out because I wasn’t feeling well, I was already the replacement for her first opponent and all of my friends and fans were there to see me fight, so I wasn’t about to let them down. I think that if her and I ever do rematch it will be a lot better than the first time.

Recently, Bellator has announced it is adding a women’s flyweight division to their roster and UFC president Dana White has said that a Women’s 125pound division would likely be the promotion’s next move, so Lee could put herself in a strong position with a good 2016 – and she plans on doing just that. “No doubt I’m doing my best to be mentioned among the best flyweights in the world,” she said. “If I have it my way though, this will be the year I seperate myself from the pack a little bit. I’ll go wherever the best situation is for me and my career. Bellator is confusing me with their flyweight signees a little. But as we speak I am happy where I am.

It’s no secret that women’s MMA is growing all the time and shows no signs of slowing any time soon. Lee is excited to be a part of it now and going forward. “I think this is the greatest era to date for a woman to be involved in MMA,” she claimed. “I think WMMA has made it through probation and has proven it’s here to stay. I’m excited to be in the middle of this powder keg as it is exploding.

Every fighter has sportspeople who have inspired them at some point in their careers and Lee is no different and, when I asked her about it, she named a few of them. “There are many people, athletes etc. that inspire me,” she started. “Since we’re talking MMA though I’ll give you the short answer. I love Cowboy Cerrone, Cris Cyborg and Holly Holm. I’m greatly inspired by all three. Both as fighters and as people.

One of the more modern aspects of being an MMA fighter in this day and age is social media. Seemingly every fighter has at least one, be it Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or any other. Lee spoke of how she enjoys the experience of communicating with her fans and fellow fighters using these sites. “It can be a job having to keep up with so many different forms of social media,” she admitted. “I truly enjoy interacting with the fight community on social media though so I try to devote 30 minutes 3 times per day to keep up. Once before my breakfast and morning run. Once after morning training at Lunch and once after evening training before bed. This seems to be enough and helps me stay regimented. 

Before concluding the interview, Lee reserved some words of gratitude for her sponsors and coaches. “Thanks to everyone who helps me succeed whose names are too numerous to list. My sponsors: Apex Conditioning and Resistance, LUB MMA, Fighter Alias, MMA Roadhog, Amber Sports, Grandmaster Relson Gracie and the best coach in the world, Donny Aaron.

I would like to sincerely thank Andrea Lee for her time. Don’t forget to tune into Invicta FC 16 on March 11th to see her next fight which will be broadcast live on UFC Fight Pass.

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Dana White gives update on Conor McGregor and the lightweight division

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The top end of the UFC’s lightweight division is thriving. Dustin Poirer defeated former division champion Anthony Pettis, in dominant fashion. Tony Ferguson won the lightweight division’s interim title by carving Kevin Lee from his back. Safe to say, no everyday person would ever want to see Khabib Nurmagomedov down a damp and dark alley. Don’t forget, the gutsy performance of Eddie Alvarez stealing Justin Gaethje’s undefeated record away.  The division is thriving like gas attempting to escape a shaken champagne bottle.

On Friday, UFC President, Dana White, spoke to Kevin Iole of Yahoo! Sports, about a number of topics. One, which came up fairly quickly; Conor McGregor and his stranglehold on the lightweight belt. The pair began talking about recent performances inside the octagon when the illustrious name of, Khabib Nurmagomedov, came up. White claimed, “Conor always finds a way to win. When he hits you, you go…”. Then speaking of the potential bout between Nurmagomedov and McGregor, “I love that matchup but, Tony Ferguson is the interim champion. Conor and I haven’t really figured out when he’s coming back and what’s going on…”. He continued, “I don’t think Conor wants to fight until August, but if he waits until August or September, that’s around two years since the belt has been defended and that can’t happen”.

Iole followed up by asking, due to circumstances, does McGregor owe it to the sport to defend his title? The UFC president agreed, “And to the other fighters. Not only to the sport but, to the other fighters. This is a game of time… when you’re a professional athlete, time is your enemy and we can’t let this thing go on forever and not give other guys the opportunity. Tony Ferguson has been around for a long time and has earned his dues, Khabib has earned his dues… Conor has done very well, he’s made a lot of money, and if he decides that he doesn’t want to fight again for another however long that’s up to him… but, the belt has to move on… we gotta figure some stuff out here in the next couple months”.

It only makes sense that the UFC wants progression in the one-hundred and fifty-five lb. division. Even without their massive revenue generator, the division must move on. Athletes like Nurmagomedov may be relatively unknown outside the MMA community in the United States but, his official Instagram page holds 3.2 million followers.  While Tony Ferguson may not hold online notoriety, he does have an exciting style. A style that could win a good many of fans, the more exposure he receives.

For White, one of these two men must fight for the division’s championship title. When asked about what is next, he stated, “As long as Conor is willing to fight by March, we could do Khabib versus Tony and then the winner fights Conor… or Conor doesn’t wanna fight and wants to sit out till next fall. Then we would have to make Khabib vs. Tony for the title”.

Time can be the only truth serum in this particular situation. The UFC brass has spoken of forcing McGregor to vacate his lightweight title for some time. Yet, nothing has happened. On the other hand, it would be more than surprising to see the division’s belt sit on the shelf for another year. Considering it all, including the status of contenders and depth of the division, the bottleneck created by one man never ceases to amaze.

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Exclusive: Neil Magny: “It’s going to come down to fighting tooth and nail”

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On Saturday, December 30th, Neil Magny steps back into the Octagon as he takes on the returning Carlos Condit. Magny’s had a rough past couple of months as the 6’3 welterweight has alternated wins and losses as well as fighting a lot less than usual. Magny was known as one of the most active fighters on the UFC roster until injuries started to take away from his time in the cage.

Welcoming Magny back to the cage is a man who is also making his return after a long layoff, Carlos Condit. Fans and even Magny have been waiting a long time for the fight to come together.

I love this fight, this a fight I’ve been chasing for nearly two years now,” Magny told MMA Latest. “The fight’s going to be happening this Saturday and I’m excited for it.”

Condit hasn’t competed since he lost to Demian Maia back in August 2016. The Jackson-Wink product lost via first round rear-naked choke, the loss prompted a semi-retirement that left everyone unsure if he would ever return. The time spent away from the cage could potentially bring upon the universally hated “ring-rust”.

Not at all,” Magny said as he shot down any talks of ring-rust. “I mean, if anything, I would be more affected by ring rust than he is. I mean, I’m a guy who likes to compete all throughout the years. This is the least amount of fights I’ve had in a year- in awhile- I don’t think the ring rust will be a factor at all and I can’t let that allow me to think that this fight will be easier because of that.”

With Condit’s return being the big story in this fight, it’s easy to think Magny’s been swept under the rug. The fan-favorite has been loved for his tendency to turn every fight into a brawl and putting everything on the line. The hype and excitement haven’t lead Magny to believe he’s being overlooked.

Not all,” Magny says with a shrug. “I don’t feel like I’m being overlooked in this fight at all. There’s a lot of pressure, a lot of hype around Condit going into this fight. But yeah I don’t consider it a bad thing at all. I know I’m focused on what I need to do and I spend most of my time focusing on that rather than the other possibilities or what media attention is drawn to that kind of thing.”

Condit’s tendency to turn his fights into brawls is something Magny’s comfortable with, as technique and advantages tend to fly out the window. The Colorado native is honest about where his strengths are.

This is a fight where it’s going to be a fight and turn into a brawl and were going to fight tooth and nail,” Magny said. “Going into this fight I don’t have the grappling advantage, the submission advantage, I don’t have the significant striking advantage. So anywhere this fight goes it’s not going to be one guy just outclassing the other guy. I know it’s going to come down to fighting tooth and nail or anything that will win this fight. So that’s something that I’m looking forward to the most- going out there and allowing this fight to go down successfully.”

Magny’s rough patch continued in his last fight when he lost to former lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos by submission. While a good chunk of fighters have a tendency to dwell on losses, Magny’s moved on and, more importantly, he’s learned from his mistakes.

I could backtrack and pick the fight apart and find a thousand things I did wrong and things I could’ve done differently,” Magny begin to explain. “But at the end of the day, it is what it is. There’s nothing I can do to change the outcome of the fight, all I can do is make sure I’m as prepared as I can be for this fight. That’s what I’ve been spending my time focusing on as well as covering every angle going into this fight mentally, physically, and emotionally. Everything I need to do to be successful in this fight I’ll do it.”

Although Magny’s moved on from the loss, that hasn’t stopped him from making changes in his lead up to fights.

Since my last fight one of the main things I changed in my training camp was the use of a sports physiatrist,” Magny said. “I noticed for these last four fights I got myself into tough positions all three have been lackluster fights that I wasn’t too proud of. Coming into this fight we’ll be sure to work on all angles and we’ll see if the talks and working with a sports physiologist will make a difference. I have no idea but the thing about it is that I want to be as prepared as possible.”

Welterweight contender Kamaru Usman claimed that Magny was going to fight him, that is until Magny accepted the fight with Condit.

No, nothing was ever set for Usman and I to ever fight,” Magny said. “I was in a position where I was coming off a loss and it didn’t matter who I fought next. I was just eager to get that nasty taste out of my mouth from the last fight. So he’s done his usual call me out on Twitter call me out on Instagram wherever he could I was just like ‘meh whatever, if you really want to fight me I’m available, I’m interested in doing it right away’ so why not take the matchup sooner and get the taste out of my mouth.”

Although the fight with Usman isn’t happening, the fight with Condit definitely is. So what does Magny predict?

I see me going out there and just winning any way I see,” Magny said. “Whether its a decision where we go back and forth and go all out war, or me getting the TKO, submission, or knockout. I mean, I’m just looking forward to going out there and getting my hand raised.”

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UFC 219’s Dan Hooker: Fighting in Perth Would Be an “Ideal Situation.”

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New Zealander Dan ‘The Hangman’ Hooker is somewhat of a UFC veteran these days. On the 30th December Hooker will make his eighth UFC appearance, facing Marc Diakiese at UFC 219 in Las Vegas.

The card is a marquee event with some of the biggest names in the sport competing, but Hooker isn’t letting the magnitude of the event affect his preparation.

“It’s something you can look back on tell people you fought on a big card in Las Vegas, so it’s a milestone,” the Kiwi explained. “But when you’re focused on it you have to take every fight as just another fight. You can’t let the moment overwhelm you, or distract you.”

Hooker admitted to not knowing much about his opponent, Englishman, Diakiese, when the fight was announced. “I hadn’t seen him fight before we got matched, but he’s a big name in the UK so I’m looking forward to it”

Twenty-seven year old Hooker is just happy to fight. He had planned on fighting in Sydney this past November. “I had an infection in my knee which ruled me out of Sydney. I’m glad they can get me on [a card] before the end of the year.”

The Kiwi last fought at home on the UFC Auckland card in June, defeating veteran Ross Pearson with a devastating knee that KO’d his foe in round two. A fight that proved he belonged with the best in the world.

“It’s where I believe my skills are at. I’m showing everyone else what I know I’m capable of,” he said of the fight. “I think I’m capable of much more so I’m looking forward to getting back in there and doing it all again.”

The Pearson bout was Hooker’s first in the UFC’s lightweight division, having fought his first six bouts at featherweight, ten pounds below at 145 pounds. Hooker now intends to make 155 his home, and isn’t concerned about size difference.

“I’m not going back to 145, 155 is where it’s at. I’m more likely to go up than down,” Hooker said. “I just feel my skills have caught up, even if someone is carrying more size than me, I can beat them with my skill.”

There has been scrutiny in recent times due to weight cutting in the sport and new rules have been implemented by the UFC and various commissions to make to process safer. But not much is different, according to Hooker.

“It hasn’t changed anything. The bigger guys are still here and still cutting the same amount of weight.” Hooker also expressed his concern that more divisions would do more harm than good.

“You might get the opposite effect where guys are coming down even further, thinking its not ten pounds of weight, it’s only five pounds. Everyone needs to move up a weight class and fight at their natural weight. Lifestyle wise and longevity wise it’s going to pay off.”

A big reason why 155 is where it’s at is because of Conor McGregor. McGregor is currently the champion in Hooker’s division, yet he has been inactive for over a year and shows no signs in returning any time soon. Hooker isn’t holding his breath on the prospect of the Irishman fighting again.

“I’m not getting off the couch with a 100 million dollars in the bank, I’ll tell you that. I’ve never seen a fat lion running around chasing antelope in the desert, it just doesn’t happen,” Hooker joked.

While Hooker doesn’t see the UFC stripping McGregor anytime soon, he’s indifferent about the use of interim belts in the UFC. Tony Ferguson is the current interim champion in the lightweight division and Hooker thinks he should be next in line.

“The UFC have offered Tony [Ferguson] to defend his interim title. Defending an interim title is where I draw the line. It should be your golden ticket to a title shot, or don’t hand it out”

Interim titles aside, the stage is set for the New Zealander at UFC 219 in front of a large global audience. He aims to make his way up the lightweight ladder towards a prestigious top 15 spot on the roster.

Hooker is one of a few New Zealand based fighters making a run in the UFC. Shane Young made his debut this year, as did Luke Jumeau. Both often train alongside Hooker at City Kickboxing in Auckland. Hooker also suggested that the undefeated striker, Israel Adesanya will be next Kiwi fighter to join the UFC roster.

“The New Zealand market has quite a big talent pool and we’re able to get multiple New Zealand fighters in the UFC. It’s a really good sign.”

As for 2018, Hooker isn’t looking too far ahead as the nature of the sport of MMA means an injury can be just around the corner. If Hooker does come out unscathed – and victorious – then he has a plan in mind.

“I’d like to fight as soon as possible. I’d like to catch up to the Aussies and New Zealanders who got to fight in Sydney and will be fighting in Perth. If I can catch up in Perth then that would be the ideal situation.”

The Perth card would certainly make sense for Hooker. A win against Diakiese would give him his first win streak of his UFC career and set him up for even bigger fights in 2018. For now, Hooker is focused on his English opponent and ending his year on a high.

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