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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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Bellator

Saad Awad talks Zach Freeman, kickboxing, 165 lb division and more ahead of Bellator 186

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Long-time Bellator veteran Saad Awad takes on Zach “the Pico slayer” Freeman at Bellator 186. Awad is currently coming off of a unanimous decision win over Ryan Quinn back at Bellator 178. Awad looks to beat top prospect Freeman in an attempt to go on a two-fight winning streak, in a stacked lightweight division.

Speaking with MMA Latest, Awad let it known he believes Freeman has the better ground game. “I think he’s a solid fighter, pretty durable, obviously better on the ground, so I know I just have to be sharp, and be precise with my striking, and get ready for a good ground game.”

Freeman made his name by beating Bellator’s hyped prospect Aaron Pico back in June, Awad had the chance to give his thoughts on the fight. “I thought it was good, I thought it was a fast win, but he didn’t shy away from it, he didn’t let Pico come in and impose his will, he struck back when he needed to, and dropped him, and got a nice submission.”

With every win helping fighters get closer to a title shot, it’s unclear whether or not Awad is close to a title shot, but he hasn’t given up hope. “I’ve been with Bellator since 2012, I think, or 2013 and I haven’t got a title fight yet so I don’t know man. To be honest, it’s on Bellator and on me to go out there and preform. So I need to win as many fights as I can, so I can go out there and win it.”

For a long time, Awad has been known mostly as the man who knocked out former Bellator champion Will Brooks. Awad believes he’s moved past that fight and more importantly, has moved on from that title. “Definitely at the time I was that guy and I feel like Zach Freeman is that guy for Pico because Pico was pumped up, obviously more than normal. I had that title for a while, but Will Brooks did go off and win a title right after he lost to me, so he had his name buzzing for a while. I definitely think I’ve moved on from that and I’ve beaten some really good guys after that, and I’ve had some really good wars since that fight. I’ll never let one fight dictate who I am and I’m glad I’ve moved past that”

Awad comes into the fight back in the win column and up against an up and coming opponent, Awad details the amount of pressure he’s on. “You know what I always put pressure on myself. Whether I’m winning or losing, because at the end of the day you want to win, whether you’re coming off of a loss or you’re coming off a win. If you lose, you lose, and that’s it, you lost, so there’s always expectation with me and yeah if this time I lose, I could possibly get cut if I lose this one, because I just won my last one and I’m not trying to have a win one, lose, win one, lose one. So there’s still that pressure to perform, especially being that Zach has only one fight in Bellator and I’m probably ten fights in. So I do have some pressure behind me.”

Awad was unable to watch the Henderson-Pitbull fight, lucky, but he did have a theory on why it went the way it did. “You know what I didn’t even watch it, normally I watch all the lightweights but I missed that fight. I read it online, people were complaining saying they both weren’t doing as much, but I understand why Henderson probably wasn’t doing as much, because Patricky hits pretty hard and usually when someone hits pretty hard, you don’t want to go out there with that person and mix it up, because you don’t want to get knocked out. I don’t know if that’s exactly what happened, but I know it could’ve happened. So I take nothing from them because they’re both really good fighters and he won a split decsion so it was obviously close enough for them to go to a split decision.”

Awad also spoke about whether he preferred lightweight or welterweight, and why Bellator should consider a 165-pound weight class. “Honestly man I hate cutting weight. I hate cutting weight but I feel like I’m one of those guys that like if there’s a 165-pound weight class, that would fit me the best. I’m a huge lightweight but I’m a small welterweight, not small but I don’t cut that much weight like my normal walk around weight is probably 165 so you know I’m not the biggest welterweight so I prefer 165 if they added that weight class. If Bellator gets that weight I’d probably be one of the first in line to fight for it.”

With Bellator’s recent splurge on free agents and former UFC fighter’s, Awad believes it’s only helped make Bellator stronger. “I think its cool. No matter where they come from at the end of the day we’re fighters and whether we get cut or we opt to get out of our contracts, it’s because we want to make money, we want to get paid as much as we can, and sometimes we feel like we’re not respected and, were not getting paid what we think we’re worth. So sometimes you have to get out of a contract whether it’s with the UFC, ONE FC or Titan wherever the hell they’re at, or Bellator even. They leave because they want to get paid more. Even if they lost a couple fights, guys can have bad nights and they lose a couple and get cut. It doesn’t mean the guys suck. They could have had something going on or they just have bad match-ups and those guys could be still just as good and dangerous as they were when they first started. So I think nothing of them, I don’t look down on any of the fighters that come here, whether they were cut or opted to get out. At the end of the day, they’re still fighters so there’s respect for their abilities.”

Awad has also been training with Duane Ludwig ahead of this fight. “You know what Duane used to train with my coaches back in the day, I think back in ‘99, 2000 and so they have a really good relationship. He was out in Colorado and we had some teammates that would train with him. Now he’s back out here in Cali, so now we have some teammates going out and mixing it up with them. I’ve only met him once but the dude brings a different aspect to training and for me training with them I would definitely like to train with him more because, like I said, it opened up a whole new book in the chapter of training. I’ll definitely look forward to learning his style of standup because I think it would be good. I’m a big fan of Muay Thai, kickboxing, and boxing, and that’s how I’m going to end being the best I can possibly be, so I think that can add a lot to my arsenal.”

Speaking of kickboxing, Awad has also shown interest in participating on Bellator’s kickboxing cards. “You know what I did ask them, it kind of got shunned away because they’re keeping me busy with MMA. If they cant keep me busy next year I’ll definitely ask them to put me on one of those cards.”

Saad Awad takes on Zach Freeman on November 3rd, at Bellator 186. MMA Latest would like to thank Saad for taking time out of his busy schedule to speak with us.

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Exclusive: Derek Brunson: “Anderson was definitely a little lubed up”

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Derek Brunson fought Anderson Silva back in February of this year, at UFC 208. Brunson would go on to lose the fight by controversial unanimous decision. However, the controversies didn’t stop at the questionable decision, Brunson also claims Silva was greasing during the fight. The Wilmington, North Carolina native, posted about it on Twitter a few days ago:

Speaking with MMA Latest, Brunson explained why he believes Silva was greasing during the fight. “Anderson was definitely a little lubed up. Every time I grabbed him he was just slipping out of everything, and his takedown defense was really good that night. I was definitely curious to know why he was very slippery, which I definitely think he had some kind of substance on his body. He knows I’m a wrestler obviously, he’s an old, savvy veteran, so he was definitely trying to play all the rules and be very strategic, and make it harder for a wrestler to grab him.”

Brunson is set to face Lyoto Machida come October 28, when asked about whether he was worried about Machida greasing, considering Gegard Mousasi accused him of doing so in their fight, Brunson admitted he wasn’t too worried.

Well I’m not too worried, but like I said, I put it out there because I know they’re friends and I know, obviously, that’s kind of what the guys do when they know they’re fighting a wrestler. They want to lube their body up really good to make it hard to grab hold, Anderson did a great job defending my takedowns. It’s because he was all greased up so he was able to stop a lot of them. When I grab guys in the clinch, it’s very tough for them to get away and I’m pretty good with my Greco takedown. He was pretty much pulling through my clinch when I had a tight grip on him and if you have some kind of substance on your body it’s easy to pull them.”

Neither Silva nor his management have commented on the greasing allegations. Anderson Silva makes his return against Kelvin Gastelum later this year, in China. While Brunson makes his return to the Octagon on October 28th, in Brazil, where he looks to add Lyoto Machida’s name to his impressive list of victories.

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Bellator

Michael Page Not Focusing on Opponent Ahead of Boxing Debut

Harry Davies

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MMA Latest spoke to Bellator’s Michael ‘Venom’ Page, as he makes his boxing debut this Friday at the Hayemaker Ringstar Fight Night.

Page (12-0 MMA) is renowned for his entertaining fight style inside the cage, with most of his knockout and submission victories ending up in highlight reels online, that almost always go viral.

‘MVP’ was supposed to make his boxing debut on the undercard of David Haye vs Tony Bellew in March of this year, but due to ongoing negotiations with Bellator, his debut was delayed. Shortly after Page signed with Haye’s promotion “Hayemaker Ringstar.”

Q: So, Michael, we’re about five days out now from your big boxing debut, and still we have no name of an opponent? Can you break the big news, who will you be fighting next week?

I honestly couldn’t even tell you his name right now! I know I’ve got an opponent, but I haven’t even looked at him because it has changed so many times. I don’t like to pay too much attention to it, because it’s added stress. For me it’s just a case of turning up, and firing punches at whoever is across the ring.

Q: Is this fight 10 or 12 rounds? Given a standard boxing fight is a lot longer than your typical 15-minute MMA bout, has there been an emphasis on cardiovascular work in your training camp?

Depending on the opponent, I think it’s 6-rounds. The preparation has been different, I’m having to stress out my shoulders and core a lot. The kicking distance as well is very different, getting used to having people a bit closer. I’m getting used to the corners of the ring, I’ve done it before but not to this extent so I am familiar of it, but my body wasn’t really used to it.

Q: So, is this kind of like a one fight deal for Haye’s Ringstar promotion? Regardless of this fight’s outcome, will you return to MMA?

Not at all, I’m taking it seriously. Otherwise, I would have just had a super fight against a big name like McGregor did. This is why I can’t just jump into a 12 round fight, I need to adjust my body and get it prepared for boxing.

There’s no future plans yet, I’d like to have an MMA fight again before the end of this year, as I haven’t fought this whole year, but another opportunity for boxing may come up and I might get a chance to jump on that, so it depends.

Q: Were you frustrated that Bellator booked Paul Daley vs. Lorenz Larkin, and if you could send a message to Daley right now what would it be?

I have no interest in him anymore. It feels so pathetic and unnecessary now. I don’t think he deserved that fight with Larkin right after the shocking display he put on in Wembley against Rory MacDonald. But good on him he beat Larkin, however he calls me out immediately after then goes on to say he’s past that fight, it just doesn’t make sense.

Credit – michaelpagemvp – Instagram

Q: A statement we hear a lot is “MVP is the only guy outside the UFC that I want in the UFC” People criticise the talent in Bellator and say you’re fighting nobodies, what do you say back to them?

The amount of times you hear “you shouldn’t fight this person, you should have fought that person.” Everyone’s got an idea of what the correct steps someone should make are, but at the end of the day it’s their career. People are so fickle and easy to forget. If you are a fan of somebody, just be a fan of them regardless of win or loss.

Q: I’ve got to ask about how things are with Bellator, because from the outside looking in it’s quite unclear. How is it relationship at the moment?

Yeah I get on with most of the guys, it’s like a small family. I’ve still got a couple of fights left with them, they’re growing very well, the only problem is I feel like they’re focusing a bit too much on ex UFC fighters. For me it says you’re classing yourself as second best. Bellator generate some amazing superstars and young talent, they should continue to promote them.

You can watch ‘MVP’ make his boxing debut this Friday night, as the Hayemaker Ringstar Fight Night will air at 21:00PM on Dave.

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