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Bellator announces partnership with NASCAR

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Big news coming out of the “City of Angels” as Bellator and Spike TV announced that they will be partnering Monster Energy and NASCAR to promote MMA fights that will take place at four select races during the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season.

It what is surely one of the shrewdest business moves in MMA history, the fights will be a pre-race activity available for the just under one hundred thousand people that NASCAR routinely averages for their live gate at these races.

The following was released via an official press release from the promotion:

“I’m excited to announce Bellator’s partnership with the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series,” said Bellator President Scott Coker. “Bellator and NASCAR fans are some of the most passionate in sports and we couldn’t be happier to bring MMA and motorsports together. Monster Energy has been a great partner of ours over the years and we’re excited about the opportunity to integrate our brand into another great sports property within the Monster Energy family. I want to thank Cody Dresser and Hans Molenkamp from Monster Energy for helping put this great partnership together, and I’m looking forward to introducing Bellator to a whole new fan base.”

“MMA is an exciting sport that appeals to a wide demographic,” said Mitch Covington Vice President of Sports Marketing. By partnering with Bellator to bring mixed martial arts to NASCAR we are able to bring a fresh dynamic to the racetrack and a taste of what Monster Energy is into, allowing us all to connect with a new fan base in relevant and meaningful ways to further elevate the series.”

Bellator is currently scheduled to host events at four races throughout the current Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season, including both NASCAR’s championship and all-star race weekends.

Bellator MMA will be featured at the following 2017 NASCAR races:

  • Monster Energy All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Saturday, May 20
  • Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on Saturday, August 19
  • Alabama 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on Sunday, October 15
  • Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Sunday, November 19″

 

This announcement continues to reinforce that the promotion owned by massive media conglomerate VIACOM has a willingness to “think outside the box” and are not afraid to use other sports as a platform to promote their own brand. Something the UFC has failed to do in the past. Although the rabidness and loyalty of NASCAR fans may not be truly appreciated by many MMA fans around the world, there is no denying that stock car racing’s biggest company has a huge market. Despite being seen by some as a fringe sport, NASCAR races draw bigger crowds than any other sport in the world both in terms of live attendance and television viewership. NASCAR fans also happen to be the exact demographic upon which MMA was marketed towards in the early years of the sport almost 25 years ago.

2016 saw Bellator bring their brand to the international landscape as they promoted bouts in three countries that the UFC has yet to visit, Italy, Israel and Hungary. In 2017 they have continued to grow that presence as they have already scheduled 4 international shows, one of which has already taken place in Belfast and the second of which, an MMA and Kick Boxing Card, is to be held this Saturday, April 8th in Torino, Italy. It will be their second event in that city and will be headlined by a consensus top 10 ranked lightweight, Bellator Champion Eduardo “Dudu” Dantas versus former RFA and LFA title holder Leandro Higo. In the past, champions from these promotions have traditionally been signed to the UFC.

The company has also continued to solidify their role as being a power player in terms of fighter pay as they have landed a number of high-profile free agent signings of homegrown UFC fighters in recent years such as Rory McDonald and Benson Henderson, just to name a few. The biggest coup perhaps being the legendary Fedor Emelianenko, who chose to sign with Bellator over the UFC in November of 2016. “The Last Emperor” will make his Bellator debut against former UFC fighter Matt Mitrione at Bellator 180 on June 24th. That show will be the promotion’s second pay-per-view and their first show in New York City at the Mecca of fight venues, Madison Square Garden.

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Angela Magana says she has been cut from the UFC

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Angela Magana announced her release from the UFC on Twitter yesterday.

The now-former UFC strawweight was 0-3, in as many contests with the promotion. Her most recent loss came at the hands of Amanda Cooper, at UFC 218, on the UFC Fight Pass Prelims. A bout which she lost by TKO in the second round.

Her first opportunity arose with the UFC when she appeared on, The Ultimate Fighter 20. A #12 seed, in the tournament of strawweights, Magana lost her preliminary round bout to #4 seed, Aisling Daly. Unfortunately, her promotional debut, on The Ultimate Fighter Finale: 20, resulted in another loss. Tecia Torres defeated Magana that night via unanimous decision. The following summer, Magana fought Michelle “Karate Hottie” Waterson at The Ultimate Fighter Finale: 21. Waterson won by submission (rear-naked choke) in the third round of the bout.

Oddly enough, following her July 2015, loss to Waterson and before her final bout with the UFC, Magana seemingly instigated a feud between herself and current featherweight champion, Cris Cyborg. A feud which began on social media and boiled over at the 2017 UFC Athlete Retreat. Disregarding her well-documented spat with Cris “Cyborg”, Magana managed her way through a storm of misfortune on her way to UFC 218.

After falling in love with Puerto Rico while on vacation, Magana moved to the island in the fall of 2016. Her entire life followed her there, as she began to train on the island she fell in love with. The tropical paradise turned to an apocalyptic wasteland following Hurricane Maria, the category five hurricane which decimated the area. The disaster became an extreme hindrance for the strawweight.

Her UFC 218 bout became official in early October. Yet, in spite of horrendous living conditions, she powered on through the natural disaster that left her home without power, until the week of the fight. Magana took to social media to tell fans that she would not stop fighting and is currently training for her next opportunity.

 

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Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone intends to move back to lightweight in next bout

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Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone (32-10 1 NC, 19-7 UFC) has been a jewel in the eyes of fight fans for quite a while. How can fans avoid gravitating to the man with the most post-fight bonuses in UFC history? The fan favorite appeared on former UFC heavyweight, Brendan Schaub and comedian, Bryan Callen’s podcast, The Fighter and The Kid, on Thursday. Cordially, the trio briefly discussed a few topics pertaining to “Cowboy”, and his combat sports career.

Schaub and Callen peppered the UFC veteran on what takes precedent moving forward, his acting career or his fighting career. Schaub asks, “So, is the plan to forget the octagon and go full Hollywood?”, a question which Cerrone scoffed at.  Schaub was referencing news the active fighter broke a few minutes earlier on the podcast; Cerrone would be co-starring with Denzel Washington in, The Equalizer 2.

Callen then followed up with his partner’s question, “See, Schaub and I, secretly, want you never to fight again, (because) you already proved everything. All we want is you to stay healthy and become an actor.”

Eventually, the group reached the topic of Darren Till, when the former fighter turned comedian, Brendan Schaub, asked, “In retrospect, the Darren Till fight, would you still have taken it?” In typical “Cowboy” style, he nonchalantly claimed he would have still taken the fight. Less than a minute later, Schaub made the point, “While you’re doing movies and traveling with your boys in RVs, guys like Darren Till are in the training room.”

Cerrone adamantly stated on what was not the first occasion, “I’m there, five years. Five years come on guys,” referring to how long he wishes to continue fighting for. After a question on how many fights he plans to schedule per year he states, “Well, I’m going back to fifty-five… I’m more focused. At seventy, I can just not train, f*ck off more… I put more into at fifty-five… Let’s do it, man…let’s go back have a couple more fights. Yea, I won’t take like twenty a year anymore, I’ll probably take it down a little bit”.

“Cowboy” is coming off a three-fight losing streak, after falling to young prospect Darren Till but, prior to his past three fights, Cerrone had only lost once since late 2013. As many fans know, he is an active fighter. Since November of 2013, he has fought sixteen times. On that list, are wins over Benson Henderson, Edson Barboza, Eddie Alvarez, and Rick Story.

With over forty professional MMA fights, and a budding acting career, it looks like Donald Cerrone is doing exactly what he should. It is a bit sad to see one of the great modern fighters begin to close out his career. Yet, like Callen and Schaub, I imagine anyone who calls them-self a “Cowboy” fan, wants to see the talented Denver, Colorado-based fighter walk away with health and a new promising career.

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Sijara Eubanks out of TUF 26 Finale, Roxanne Modafferi steps in on short notice

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Sijara Eubanks (2-2 MMA, 0-0 UFC)  is out of The Ultimate Fighter: A New World Champion finale. In her absence the UFC has announced that #1 ranked TUF 26 semifinalist, Roxanne Modafferi (21-13 MMA, 0-0 UFC) will be stepping up to fight Nicco Montano for the inaugural women’s flyweight championship.

Modafferi lost to Eubanks in the very last episode of TUF, she was then set to fight fellow castmember Barb Honchak in the finale that takes place on December 1. Early Thursday afternoon, Sijara has forced to pull out of the fight giving Roxanne the opportunity to fight for the championship against Nicco Montano

UFC released an official statement about the change courtesy of MMA Junkie “Due to medical issues, Sijara Eubanks, was hospitalized Thursday morning and has been pulled from her bout against Nicco Montano at Friday’s The Ultimate Fighter Finale. Stepping in for Eubanks to fight in the inaugural UFC women’s flyweight championship bout will be Ultimate Fighter 26 semifinalist Roxanne Modafferi.”

Honchak will now likely be facing TUF 26 alternate Lauren Murphy on December 2. Murphy lost her opponent Priscila Cachoeira after Cachoeira failed to get a visa for the fight.

Eubanks has taken to her personal Instagram to put out a statement to her fans. In the post, she writes, “First of all, I’m a champion. Point blank. I will be UFC champion, but it’s God’s will that it won’t be Friday night. I’m a gangster and I’ve cut more weight than most male fighters, and unfortunately, there were some miscalculations this cut, no excuses, I worked my ass off and went out on my shield. I was hospitalized early this morning for kidney failure but best believe I’ma be right back training and right back after that belt. This game is full of ups and downs, true champs know that and bounce back. Nicco and Roxanne I’m sure will have a great fight and best wishes to both those ladies. True class, those two. Nothing changes, I’m still the queen and I will claim my throne.
Thank you to all my coaches, friends and family and the wonderful staff at UFC.
God is good and I am truly blessed.”

The entire fight card to date is as follows:

  • Roxanne Modaferri vs Nicco Montano
  • Emily Whitmire vs Gillian Robertson
  • Barb Honchak vs Lauren Murphy
  • Ariel Beck vs Shana Dobson
  • DeAnna Bennett vs Melinda Fabian
  • Rachael Ostovich vs Karine Gevorgyan
  • Montana De La Rosa vs Christina Marks
  • Sean O’Malley vs Terrion Ware
  • Eric Spicely vs Gerald Meerschaert
  •  Joe Soto vs Brett Johns

The Ultimate Fighter 26 Finale “A Champion Will Be Crowned” is still set to take place Dec.1st at The Park Theater, Paradise Nevada.

 

 

 

 

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