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Exciting War Between Eddie Alvarez and Dustin Poirier Ends in Controversy

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Tonight Eddie Alvarez made his first walk to the octagon since losing the Lightweight Championship last November in New York City. In his first title defense, Alvarez and Conor McGregor christened Madison Square Garden, headlining UFC 205. The rest is history, literally, as McGregor became the first person in the UFC to simultaneously hold belts in 2 divisions.

The disastrous 2nd round TKO loss at the powerful and lightening fast hands of “The Notorious” was a huge setback for Eddie in terms of embarrassing ways to lose the biggest fight of his life. But the loss was certainly not enough to expel Alvarez from the upper echelon of the division.

Eddie Alvarez entered UFC 211, headlining the preliminary card on FX, ranked #3 in the division. He battled the #9 Lightweight, fellow McGregor knockout casualty, Dustin “The Diamond” Poirier. The latter actually reinvigorated his career following his 1st round TKO loss to McGregor, moving back to lightweight after more than 3 years of success at Featherweight.

In just 14 months, Poirier made a strong impression on the 155lb division winning 4 straight against high-level competition, earning knockouts against 3 of them. He too faced a recent setback. Michael Johnson dusted “The Diamond” in just 1:35 in September 2016. Following the loss, Poirier got back on track with a victory over grisly veteran Jim Miller in a Fight of The Night performance last February.

Though Poirier arrived in Dallas coming off of a win, Alvarez is – without a doubt, the best and most accomplished fighter he has faced in the Lightweight division. [note – The current Lightweight  champion, Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier were in the Featherweight division when they fought.]

Redemption was at the forefront of Eddie’s agenda tonight, and a win over Dustin Poirier was absolutely critical if he had any chance to get back into the 155lb title conversation. Although, the perpetually log-jammed division is currently held up (more so than usual) by the champion’s boxing aspirations regarding Floyd Mayweather.

Dustin “The Diamond” came out strong, taking control of the center of the octagon and hunted Alvarez down with crisp striking. He found his range about halfway into the 1st round. And range was the biggest factor. Eddie’s inability to close the distance on the longer man kept him on the end of Dustin’s punches and his takedown attempts were shrugged off with the ease of slipping a jab.

While the 1st round saw a tentative Eddie Alvarez, reminiscent of his performance against McGregor, round 2 looked like a completely different fight. Eddie was scoring early by pressing forward and landing but he quickly paid for his overcommitment when Poirier countered him and rocked him badly. He unloaded a barrage of clean shots that wobbled Alvarez, and the fight looked as if it would be stopped at any moment. But Eddie showed incredible heart. Not only did he survive the onslaught, he turned the tables in his favor. Putting Dustin on the retreat, with his back against the cage on wobbly legs, a big takedown was the beginning of the end.

Eddie Alvarez began to unleash some ground and pound when he got overzealous and threw a pair of illegal knees to the side of Poirier’s head as he lay turtled on the canvas, flattening him with the 2nd one. Herb Dean declared the fight a no-contest due to an accidental foul in the 2nd round.

 

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Interviews

UFC 219’s Jimmie Rivera to TJ Dillashaw “Defend Your Belt or Vacate.”

Harry Davies

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MMA Latest had the chance to talk to #4 ranked UFC bantamweight Jimmie “El Terror” Rivera ahead of his fight at UFC 219 against John Lineker.

Rivera (21-1) extended his unbeaten run to twenty when he defeated Thomas Almeida at UFC Long Island in July. Originally scheduled to face former bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz, we began by asking Rivera how the opponent change had affected his preparation for UFC 219.

The only thing that’s changed is the game plan, everything else stays the same. Cruz is more of an irritating fight because he just doesn’t stop moving, but with Lineker, he’s going to stay in the pocket and bang, and I love that.

Recently, Rivera posted a video to his Twitter account of him sparring with the recently crowned bantamweight champion, TJ Dillashaw. He told us about the context of this video, and how the sparring went down between them.

It was 3 or 4 years back. I think TJ had just lost to (John) Dodson on TUF. My teammate Louis Gaudinot was actually fighting Tim Elliott at the time, and we were in Milwaukee so I got to train with (Urijah) Faber and Dillashaw.

I just sent it to TJ to say, don’t forget what happened. I was getting the best of him, and I don’t really brag about it. But he wants to leave the weight class and fight DJ for the money fight, and I want to fight for the belt, so it’s defend your belt or vacate.

After briefly referencing the potential superfight between Demetrious Johnson and TJ Dillashaw, I asked Rivera about his thoughts on the somewhat flawed UFC rankings system, and title fights being put together purely for entertainment value.

It sucks. When I become champ I won’t be like a TJ or McGregor, I’m going to be like Demetrious Johnson and defend my belt against people coming up, it’s the right thing to do. If you want to win the belt and leave the division straight away, it’s kind of bullshit.

Rivera concluded by telling me that although he isn’t looking past Lineker at 219, “the only fight that makes sense after this one, is fighting TJ for the belt.”

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Mark Hunt Returns to Fight Curtis Blaydes at UFC 221

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UFC 221 in Perth has officially added a another Australian to the main card. Joining Robert Whittaker is the knockout legend Mark Hunt.

The Daily Telegraph first reported that Hunt will be stepping into the octagon to face #9 Curtis Blaydes. Some weren’t sure if we would ever see Hunt fight again after he was pulled from the main event in UFC Fight Night 21 against Marcin Tybura. The UFC removed him due to “medical concerns” while Hunt was stating he was perfectly fine.

After getting evaluated and cleared to fight by Australian and American doctors, it looks like his time has come to return.  Hunt’s last fight was back in June when he derailed the Derrick Lewis hype train with a 4th round TKO win.

Hunt had been adamant about calling out #3 ranked heavyweight Fabricio Werdum and trying to get that rematch booked, labelling Werdum a “chicken shit” and a “coward.”

Curtis “Razor” Blaydes who has an 8-1 record, is coming off a TKO victory due to doctor stoppage at UFC 217 in November. Since losing to now title challenger Francis Ngannou in April of 2016, Blaydes has rattled off three straight wins over Alexey Oleynik, Daniel Omielanczuk, and Cody East.

With all this momentum from the win streak, Blaydes looks to capitalize and win the biggest fight of his career against Hunt.

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Valentina Shevchenko vs. Priscila Cachoeira Officially Booked for Belem, Brazil card

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The wait is over. Valentina Shevchenko (14-3, 3-2 UFC) will make her highly anticipated flyweight debut when the UFC returns to Brazil. She will face Priscila Cachoeira (8-0) on the February 3rd card scheduled for Belem, Brazil. Luciana Andrade was the first to report the match-up last week. On Tuesday, the UFC posted an article which stated the bout had been set.

Now that the flyweight tournament is over and the inaugural champion has her crown, many women shall migrate from the strawweight and bantamweight ranks in search of a more suitable weight class. The division is so infantile means a lot moving parts in the rankings. Yet, only women who fought at one hundred and twenty-five lbs. are ranked. Such practices muddy the title picture for the time being. Essentially ruling out the idea of Montano vs. Shevchenko for the first defense of the belt, illogical. An idea that floated around the internet until today’s confirmation of the newest female flyweight match-up. The TUF 26 winner, Nicco Montano called it, “kinda silly”, earlier this week while on The MMA Hour. Montano believes her first title defense, as it stands, should pit her against the original finalist of the flyweight tournament, Sijara Eubanks. Although Eubanks withdrew from the title fight, she is still ranked as the #1 contender in the division.

Shevchenko explained her desire for the flyweight belt on The MMA Hour, a week earlier than Montano, “For me it’s number one, to fight for the title… It doesn’t matter for me, if I have to have one fight before it, okay I will do it… my main goal is to be the champion… It doesn’t matter I move from one thirty-five to one twenty-five. My goal is still the same, to be the champion”. The Russian fighter is coming off an unsuccessful title shot in the bantamweight division against the current reigning champ, Amanda Nunes. The bout went to a decision after close five rounds, Nunes ultimately defeated Shevchenko via split decision (47-48, 48-47, 48-47).

Her opponent, Priscila Cachoeira, is not only new to the UFCs female flyweight division but the promotion’s roster as well. Cachoeira originally was scheduled to make her promotional debut against veteran Lauren Murphy at The Ultimate Fighter Finale 26. The Brazilian fighter withdrew from the bout due to visa issues. As a professional, she is undefeated with four knockouts in her eight fights.

UFC Belem is scheduled for February 3rd, 2018. The card will feature Timothy Johnson vs. Marcelo Golm in the heavyweight division. It will also have Thiago Santos taking on Anthony Smith in the middleweight division.

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