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Chris Weidman targets Jon Jones and 205 division

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UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman has been sitting pretty on his throne since he finished Anderson Silva to win the title in 2013. He’s successfully defended it three times and is set to take on Luke Rockhold in December.

Although he has a heavy task against Rockhold, Weidman is looking toward the future and eyeing new challenges.

During a Twitter takeover with the New York Mets during their Aug. 14 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates, 3-2, a fan asked Weidman about moving up to the light heavyweight division.

Another asked Weidman about who he’d like to face and the middleweight champion responded with one name.

Jones hasn’t fought since January when he defeated Daniel Cormier at UFC 182, which marked his eighth successful title defense. He made headlines in April after being arrested for allegedly fleeing the scene of a hit-and-run accident. The UFC suspended Jones indefinitely and stripped him of the light heavyweight title for violating the promotion’s Athlete Code of Conduct.

Although it’s not uncommon for former champions to move up or down weight classes after they’ve suffered a few losses, it’s rare to see a world champion make that move while he’s currently on top of his own weight division. Prior to interim featherweight champion Conor McGregor coming to the UFC, 145 titleholder Jose Aldo teased a run at lightweight.

There’s been some speculation of Weidman moving up to light heavyweight and he certainly wouldn’t be the first UFC champion to do so. Silva, Rich Franklin and Murilo Bustamante are former 185-pound champions who enjoyed some success at 205.

I think Weidman would do well at 205. The UFC could either give him a tune up fight with someone in the lower top 10 in his light heavyweight debut to see how he’d fare against a well-known opponent. Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira or even Glover Teixeria are possible opponents for Weidman’s first foray at light heavyweight.

If the UFC wanted to give Weidman a crack at the title, he would face the current champion, Cormier – who may want to fight if the “All-American” defeats Rockhold in an embarrassing manner.

With Weidman saying he won’t pursue 205 for a couple of years, there’s a good chance he’d faces Jones. The former champion will have returned – and probably have a fight or two under his belt – in that time frame. He may even be champion once again.

But does a fight between Jones and Weidman make sense? Stylistically it would be a close match. Both fighters are well-rounded and have great strength. Jones may be unorthodox, but so is Silva.

From a business perspective, this fight would do well in numbers. There’s no even ground with Jones – fans love him or hate him – while Weidman is probably the third-most popular UFC champion, behind McGregor and women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey. It also gives the UFC a chance to promote a super fight between two of the promotion’s most dominant champions. If Weidman isn’t the champion in two years – unlikely as that may be – they could promote it as a bout on par with Silva vs. Nick Diaz, hopefully with better and entertaining results.

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Fight Announcements

Gilbert Burns vs. Olivier Aubin-Mercier Added to UFC Orlando

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The UFC has now added more bouts to the front end of their 2018 schedule. Gilbert Burns (13-2, 5-2 UFC) will face Olivier Aubin-Mercier (10-2, 6-2 UFC) in Orlando, Florida on February 24th, 2018.

Alongside a few other high-profile fight announcements, is the addition to the UFC Orlando, Florida card. The two lightweights will join Jake Collier and Marcin Prachnio, as the second fight set for the event.

It has been a while since the UFC hosted an event in the state of Florida. Last seen by the Floridians was UFC on Fox: Texeira vs. Evans, on April 16, 2016 in Tampa Bay. The card was a success, despite the cancellation of its planned main event between Tony Ferguson and Khabib Nurmagomedov. Drawing a gate of $1.05 million and 2.13 million viewers.

Gilbert Burns signed with the UFC after accumulating an undefeated record of 8-0. His first loss came in his home country of Brazil, as Rashid Magomedov defeated him via unanimous decision at UFC Fight Night: Belfort vs. Henderson 3, in November of 2015.

In his most recent bout, Burns defeated Jason Saggo by KO with five seconds remaining in the second round at UFC Fight Night: Rockhold vs. Branch.

Aubin-Mercier will come into the contest as a winner in his last three bouts. The Canadian fighter trains out of the Tristar gym, alongside legends such as Georges St. Pierre and head coach, Firas Zahabi.

In 2011, Aubin-Mercier was chosen to compete on The Ultimate Fighter: Nations. Competing in the welterweight bracket, he became a finalist by defeating both, Jake Mathews (unanimous decision) and Richard Walsh (rear naked choke). In the finale, Aubin-Mercier lost to Chad Laprise by split decision.

UFC Orlando will take place at the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida on February 24th, 2018.

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Eryk Anders vs. Lyoto Machida Officially Headlines UFC Belem

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Eryk Anders vs. Lyoto Machida is officially booked to headline UFC Belem in Brazil.

Following his unanimous decision victory over Markus Perez on last weekends, UFC Fight Night: Ortega vs. Swanson, undefeated middleweight, Eryk Anders, called for the match-up with former UFC light heavyweight champion, Lyoto Machida. The UFC heard, and obliged.

First reported by The MMA Kings (@mma_kings.)

Anders holds a 2-0 undefeated record in the UFC. The Alabama native made his promotional debut against Rafael Nata in July of this year. A bout he took on short notice, replacing Alessio di Chirico whom withdrew from the fight due to a neck injury. Anders defeated Natal by knockout in the first round that night at UFC Long Island.

Prior to his indoctrination to MMA, the undefeated middleweight played for the University of Alabama football team, between 2006-2009.

Machida recently returned to the UFC roster after an 18-month suspension handed down by USADA, stemming from a failed out-of-competition test leading up to his April 2016 contest against Dan Henderson.

In his return to the octagon, Machida faced Derek Brunson in the main-event of the UFC Fight Night: Brunson vs. Machida, in Sao Paulo, Brazil. “The Dragon” lost the bout via first round KO.

UFC Belem, Brazil is scheduled for February 3rd, 2018, at the Mangueirinho Arena. The card will also feature the flyweight debut for Valentina Shevchenko as she faces Priscila Cachoeira. 

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Announcement

Sensor Equipped Tracking Gloves to be Used at UFC 219

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From implementing the likes of USADA, the UFC Performance Instiute and the introduction of the instant replay. The UFC has always prioritized being at the top of the sport science game. 

Now, at UFC 219 on December 30th, the Nevada State Athletic Commission has approved a test run for sensor equipped tracking gloves to be worn by a selection of fighters on the card.

The technology behind the gloves comes from AGI International (an analytics company) along with HEED (a consumer platform company). A collaboration founded by the UFC.

After a sparring exhibition between top lightweights, Edson Barbosa (19-4-0) and Mark Diakiese (12-1-0), HEED co-founder Mati Kochavi had this to say regarding how “70 insights” collected from sensors on the gloves, the corner-men, the octagon itself can depict a clearer image of a fight.

“Those insights are covering entire aspects  of the fight between Diakiese and Barbose. Their passion, power of the fight, resiliency and strategy. All happen in the octagon.“

Shouldn’t sport be told in real-time, with real data, information and emotions?”

He finally promises “We are a company which is trying to revolutionize the way we (broadcast) sports and live events”

As for now there is little to zero information into the technical aspects of the gloves, however products like a Fit Bit have similar abilities to give data on speed,  force, motion, elevation, heart rate etc.

The UFC 219 card takes place on Decemebr 30th at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. It will be headlined by a women’s featherweight title fight between current champion Cris Cyborg (18-1) and former UFC bantamweight champion, Holly Holm (11-3).

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