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Austin-Based Strike League to Launch April 8th, Bubba McDaniel Headlines Promotional Debut

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People may criticize the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation [often mistakenly referred to as the Texas Athletic Commission] for the various blunders that have made headlines over the years but, regardless of what they say, there is an incredible MMA scene in the Lone Star State. Some of the world’s best fighters, top Jiu-Jitsu practitioners and many of the country’s best MMA Schools call the Republic of Texas home. Additionally, the fan population is vast, expanding and incredibly loyal. Why else would UFC and Bellator consistently host events in both Dallas and Houston, or frequently bring fan-expos to Texas that are usually limited to Las Vegas?

210 miles south of Dallas-Fort Worth another pair of big cities, Austin and San Antonio, sit in close proximity to one another. Though the state’s capital and the Alamo City may not get the UFC and Bellator love that has shone upon H-Town and the Big D, they are making plenty of moves on their own. San Antonio has recently hosted UFC Fight Night, Legacy Fighting, RFA and the newly formed LFA; as well as promotions from further south, like Fury FC and Cage Combat.

Up the road, in Austin, local professional MMA competition has rarely been on display, but that will soon change. On April 8th, Strike League debuts at the H-E-B Center, a state of the art facility that seats a little over 8,500 people. Strikeforce held an event there in 2011 and Bellator 161 took place in the venue last September. It is truly the perfect stage for concerts and cagefights.

MMA Latest News sat down with local fighter, Stetson Horne and his significant other, CeCe Chancellor; the co-owners of Strike League, a newly formed, Austin-based promotion.

“It’s really hard to find a good venue for mixed martial arts in Austin,” CeCe Chancellor told MMA Latest.  “Most of them seat anywhere from 600-1,000 people and from there they jump to 3,000 seats. Stetson said ‘go big or go home’ so we’re going to the H-E-B Center. It’s perfect. Everyone loves it. Fans especially love it, as do all the vendors and sponsors.”

Most regional show posters are adorned with little known businesses with names such as Dirty Doug’s Dive bar or Bootleg Tattoo – not Strike League. Keeping the ‘go big or go home’ philosophy intact, Stetson and CeCe secured juggernaut sponsorships from Bud Light and even H-E-B, a powerhouse grocery chain based in south Texas.

“Not only is Bud Light sponsoring the event, they’re giving us all the premium accommodations,” the Strike League owners said. “They’re giving us advertising on radio stations, online media, print media and even hosting fighter meet and greet events here in Austin.”

It appears that the recently crowned owners of Austin’s first pro MMA organization have all of their priorities in line. They are showcasing their brand at the best venue in town and they have enticed the biggest sponsors anyone could hope to obtain. Once those two key elements were in place, only the most important aspect remained – booking great fighters to put on the show.

Name recognition certainly enhances the advertising appeal of upcoming prize fights, in fact, a marquee is precisely what all promoters strive to build their card around. Most of the time, the regional circuit has to cultivate local fighters from the ground up, which is largely what Strike League is doing with their event. They did however, manage to secure another heavyweight (literally) to complete their recipe for an event that is sure to be a success.

Headlining the card is Ultimate Fighter alumni and former Jackson-Winklejohn protégé Bubba “The Menace” McDaniel. “I had a little retirement phase, and that’s what it was – a phase.” McDaniel told MMA Latest News. “I realized that I couldn’t go without some kind of training in my life. It’s ridiculous to even fathom,” Bubba reflected on his hiatus. “For a guy my age that’s been fighting since I was 20 years old, it was just weird. Whenever I ‘retired’ I hated looking at myself in the mirror. It seemed like I was looking at a completely different person and I didn’t like it.”

Bubba had his ups and downs in UFC and Bellator, posting a 1-2 record in the former and going 1-1 in the latter; however, his post UFC run is 8-2. Bubba comes into the April 8th bout on 2-fight KO streak, having won 5 of his last 6 fights. With a respectable 28-10 overall record, the 33 year old McDaniel still has plenty of fight left in him.

“I got a call from the producers at TUF about the (current season) redemption show, and it’s part of the reason I came back to fighting to be honest with you. It kind of lit a fire under me.” McDaniel said, “I told them ‘if you get a 205lb show together, give me a call back.’”

When and if that call comes remains to be seen. Until then Bubba McDaniel is not holding his breath. Instead, he is fully committed to staying ready. Consistently training has renewed his love for the sport of mixed martial arts and for the first time in a long time, his head is in the right place.

Few things are certain in life, especially in MMA, but one thing is certain at this point in time. Bubba McDaniel will face Juan “El Toro” Torres in the main event at Strike League, on the 8th of April. Tickets can be purchased here.

 

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Ovince Saint Preux Steps in to Face Corey Anderson at UFC 217

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UFC 217 just got even more interesting. Earlier this week, Patrick Cummins pulled out of his light heavyweight matchup with Corey Anderson due to a Staph infection. Corey “Overtime” Anderson was not happy with his opponents decision, even calling out his opponent on Instagram asking how Cummins could, “call it quits so far from fight night”.

The UFC left Anderson on the card, and he found an opponent through the magic of Twitter. Ovince Saint Preux tweeted out directly to Anderson stating:

It didn’t take long for Anderson to respond agreeing to the fight, tagging Mick Maynard and Dana White in his response.

Only a few short hours later, the fight announcement came from the official UFC twitter account.

 

This top 10 Light Heavyweight matchup should add to an already amazing card coming in November at Madison Square Garden. Saint Preux is coming off of back to back wins both due to the very rare von flue choke, he finds himself ranked #7th in the latest edition of the 205-pound rankings. Corey “Overtime” Anderson is 4-2 in his last 6 fights, but is coming off a brutal first round knockout loss to Jimi Manuwa in March.

With such a exciting fight added to this card, what do you see happening November 4th?  Will Corey Anderson bounce back and look to jump into the top 5 of the rankings, or will Ovince Saint Preux go for a third straight von flue choke? Let us know.

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*Watch* Bellator 185 Weigh in: Live Stream, Results

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Watch the live weigh-ins for Bellator 185 here.

Gegard Mousasi takes on Alexander Slemenko live this Friday night October 20th at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville CT. This is the first appearance for Mousasi in the Bellator cage as he looks to secure a title shot with a win over the very tough former Bellator champion Slemenko. Joining these men of the main card will be a pair of welterweights as Neiman Gracie from the famous Gracie BJJ family takes on Zak Bucia in the co-main event.

Full Weigh-in Results: (Updated in real time)

Main Card:

Gegard Mousasi (185) vs. Alexander Shlemenko (186)
Neiman Gracie (170.5) vs. Zak Bucia (170)
Heather Hardy (126) vs. Kristina Williams (126)
Ryan Quinn (155.5) vs. Marcus Surin (155)
Ana Julaton (125.5) vs. Lisa Blaine (122)

Preliminary Card:

Jordan Young (200) vs. Alec Hooben (194)
Costello van Steenis (185) vs. Steve Skrzat (186)
Vinicius de Jesus (170) vs. Joaquin Buckley (171)
John Beneduce (154.5) vs. Dean Hancock (155)
Timothy Wheeler (144) vs. Pete Rogers (144)
Don Shainis (150) vs. Matthew Denning (149)
Frank Sforza (149) vs. Vovka Clay (150)
Kevin Carrier (156) vs. Jose Antonio Perez (153)
John Lopez (126) vs. Billy Giovanella (125)

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Bellator 185 Fight to Watch: Heather Hardy vs. Kristina Williams

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Heather Hardy will compete in MMA for the second time at Bellator 185 on Friday night, as she faces Kristina Williams in a strawweight contest. The fight takes place on the main card at the Mohican Sun Arena in Connecticut.

Potentially, what Bellator have in Heather ‘The Heat’ Hardy is a major draw that they can build their 125 pound division around. While relatively new to the organisation she is fast becoming one of the more popular names on the roster. Her career is in the early stages, but many have already started to draw comparisons with former boxer turned MMA star, Holly Holm. Holm’s UFC success partly inspired the native New Yorker to make the switch from boxing.

Hardy is already an established world champion in the land of the ‘sweet science’, holding a 21 fight undefeated professional record. She made her MMA debut in June this year with a victory over Alice Yauger, at Bellator 180. At 35, Hardy is a late starter in the sport, but proved at Madison Square Garden against the credible Yauger that she has a bright future.

Hardy’s first outing in the cage was disciplined and composed. Despite a slow start in round one, Hardy grew in confidence as the fight progressed and her cardio never faltered. She mixed in plenty of kicks that complimented her boxing and looked at ease in the clinch, even defending a couple of takedown attempts in the process.

Despite looking on course for a decision win, Hardy forced the TKO stoppage with just thirteen seconds remaining in round three. Even a large cut that required seven stitches from an accidental head clash could not deny her victory.

Hardy was fighting an experienced professional, competing for the tenth time in MMA, which makes the win over Yauger more impressive. However, her upcoming opponent Kristina Williams will be making her professional debut.

There is little known about Williams except that she is 3-0 at amateur level. One of those wins came by way of submission so there may well be a threat to Hardy if the fight goes to the ground. More importantly for Williams is how she copes on the big stage against a popular opponent, who is more familiar competing in high pressure combat situations. If Williams can produce an upset it will be a huge boost in her young career.

But in all honesty, this fight is about Hardy. It’s about getting the win and gaining valuable experience. The boxing career is on hold while MMA takes centre stage. Beating Williams will mean she likely continues fighting inside a cage rather than a boxing ring.

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