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[Interview] Dominique Robinson ready to impress at Pancrase 278

Matthew Wells

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Pancrase is one of the most storied mixed martial arts promotions in the history of the sport, founded in the same year as Ultimate Fighting Championship in 1993. Not only do the two promotions share the same year of inception, they also have had some of the most legendary names in the sport competing under their banners. Names like Ken Shamrock, Bas Rutten, Nate Marquardt, Josh Barnett, and Guy Mezger were Pancrase champions (King of Pancrase as it is formally titled) who would all go on to compete in the UFC with varying degrees of success.

Dominique “Fallen Angel” Robinson (19-5-2-2) is one who hopes his travels to Japan will also ultimately open up a road to the UFC, a road that has been blocked in his career thus far.

Road blocks have not stopped him yet though and he has dealt with a fair share. Whether it be multiple surgeries keeping him sidelined at different points throughout his career or fighting with severe injuries, the “Fallen Angel” keeps coming back stronger and more hungry each time he steps into the cage. This weekend at Pancrase 278, Robinson will seek to get his hand raised in front of the crowd in Tokyo, while looking to impress everyone watching on UFC Fight Pass. Just a few days ahead of the fight that could open up that elusive road to the UFC or a shot at becoming King of Pancrase, Dominique took out the time to answer a few questions while enjoying beautiful Tokyo, Japan.

Matthew Wells: Let’s talk about your upcoming fight this weekend. This will be the second time you will be fighting for the storied Pancrase promotion in Tokyo, Japan. What’s the experience like fighting overseas?

Dominique Robinson: That question is a double-edged sword of sorts. As far as the experience, it’s great. I love geography, history, and culture, thus, I always have a great experience when it comes to the interactions with the locals and also my fellow fighters that are fighting on the same cards and the stories we are able to share with one another. When it comes to the promotions, it seems more gets done “wrong” overseas than in America because, as everyone knows, the “rumors” of them being partisan to the locals is true. This sometimes comes out in the form of referees, sometimes judges, sometimes both. Accommodations are another thing that gets tampered with so it can be a very disadvantageous and frustrating experience.

MW: Your previous opponent Eiji Ishikawa didn’t want any part of the striking game against you and made his game plan known early: clinch often and work for takedowns. The action was slow and stalled, with no breaks from the referee, ultimately resulting in a decision loss in which you took virtually zero damage from your opponent. How frustrating was it to lose in that manner, and do you expect your opponent to bring that same style of fight to the cage to grind out a win this weekend? 
 
DR: I expect all opponents to take that strategy with me if they are smart. The most frustrating part of that fight was that I won. Clearly. On tape and in person are two different things. Minor details can’t be seen like the damage being done or the rules being broken. To be exact, I was hit ONCE in that fight; when he asked to touch gloves during Round 3 and punched me instead. The rest of the fight was him grabbing the cage in order to keep me there. The outside ref, my corner man Josh Barnett, Tri Villegas, and the crowd, as well as myself, were telling the inside ref he was doing it with no actions being taken. The plan when we realized this was to just do damage to his zero damage so I destroyed his body on the inside and after the fight he was purple on the legs and ribs and limping and told me before the decision was read that he was “Sorry” and that “All I can do is hold, you are too strong, you win,” yet I lost. Oddly, my homie Will Chope, as well as Victor Henry lost fights I believed they won as well so you tell me. Also, the fight doesn’t tell the tale that I was flown in less than 40 hours before the fight itself.

MW: Talk a little bit about your shoulder surgery and the recovery process before training camp for this fight.
 
DR: Surgery was ROUGH, my man. I fought 8 years of my career, as many know by now, hiding a severe injury from being hit by a car. My spine was damaged and I had about 30% usage of my left arm and was in constant pain, every day, literally. I’ve had double spine surgery, my knee, my wrist, and I flew through them like nothing. This shoulder surgery was another animal! It is the roughest thing I’ve ever been through and very painful, the truth of the matter is that they found out it was damaged along with my neck long ago, thus, the longer recovery period…I’m not even 100% through rehab yet but I have dream to chase so it is what it is.

MW: The previous fight had a lot riding on it for you. A potential shot at the UFC was hanging in the balance if you were to come away victorious. Have you spoken with anyone with the UFC about the potential to get that call again with an impressive win? 

DR: …and a title shot with Pancrase was on the line as well! Yes, I’ve had 2-3 meetings with Dana White, Joe Silva, and Sean Shelby since then, all very positive. Let’s just say they are on high alert and I have to contact them each fight I win.

MW:  Boxing has had a very heavy influence on your mixed martial arts career. The world lost a legend recently with the passing of Muhammad Ali. Talk a bit about the influence Ali had on your career in and outside of competition. 

DR: “The Greatest” in my mind was always “Sugar” Ray Robinson and Muhammad Ali. As an avid boxing fan, mainly old school boxing, I loved them both. Unlike most I think that I loved them more for the person they were than the fighters they were. To stick to the topic at hand of Ali, he was a great, great person. You listen to the stories of him, to listening to his interviews, and furthermore interviews or short stories of people who have met him, they are all positive. The spirit of a man can be heard clearest from his interactions with his fellow man is my belief. What I took from him most, and the Robinson family is a believer of this also, is that you die standing, never on your knees. You stand up for what you believe in no matter what it cost you. Realistically, I’m not in UFC, Bellator, or OneFC long ago, not because of my skills, but because I stood up for myself and many other fighters who promoters were doing wrong long ago and got blackballed, hence, why refs, judges, fighters, athletic commission people, EVERYBODY in the game that truly knows me respects me but I still can’t get that moment I’ve searched for.
 
MW: What’s your favorite Muhammad Ali quote or moment? 

DR: LOL! Damn he has soo many! I love him saying, “If you even dream of beating me you better wake up and apologize!”

MW: The combat sports world lost another legend in his own right as well recently with the passing of Kevin Ferguson aka Kimbo Slice. What are your thoughts on the impact Kimbo made on the mixed martial arts world?
 
DR: People hated on Kimbo but folks are just that type in this generation. Being from the South and growing up in varying degrees of hardship, I’ll tell you, what kind of person do you have to be to hate on a man that was in the hood of Florida, which isn’t a joke, literally fought his way out of it, take up Dana’s challenge to do TUF, make his way to UFC, and capitalize on any opportunity to make money to feed his family? Those people need to evaluate themselves.

MW: There will be a lot of eyes on this fight as it will be streaming on UFC Fight Pass. Will this be the best Dominique Robinson we’ve seen on June 12? 

DR: There were many challenges in camp, I’m still not 100% from surgery, and it’s been a challenge since arriving here, so I won’t give the cliche’ “Best camp ever” or “Best I’ve ever been” lies all these guys give. Technically, I am the best I’ve ever been thanks to my coaches Jerome and Jeff Mayweather at Mayweather Boxing Club, John Wood at Syndicate MMA, and all my training partners, who I’d like to give credit to now. Also, I’d like to say thank you to my man Sean at Sean Early Physical Therapy for getting me through as much rehab as possible in the short amount of time we had for such a serious injury. My man Dr. Dumler who is a friend and sponsor who keeps introducing me to new sponsors of great character like himself. Trent Cotney, who jumped on board in one conversation between us two. He is a man of character and we related on many levels and I am truly grateful for him coming on board #TeamRobinson at the time he did because life has been throwing everything at me on a financial level lately and I look forward to him and I building our business and personal relationship (check out that resume I sent homie! lol). Also, my man Phil Palmer is a dude that looks out for me and is a great friend and does beyond what our sponsorship is. I have many others that people can check out ontherealfallenangel.com where they can also purchase my new walkout tee. I’d like to thank SUPER thank my sponsor and friend Kim Mason of Beyond Beauty by Kim, I literally would not have made it through camp without her, Goon Mama Tri Villegas who takes care of us all and the other half of Samsara Management Crystal Galasso as well, the pair are the best management team in the game. My mom, son, Gma, love you all. My ninjas James, Clement, Spilly, Patrick what it do! Follow my social media all at @fallenangel510. See that’s how you give hood shout outs! Thanks for the interview my man!

Pancrase 278 takes place June 12, 2016, at the Differ Ariake Arena in Tokyo, Japan and will stream live on UFC Fight Pass.

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For the latest MMA news, live event coverage and more follow @mmalatestnws on Twitter.

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Exclusive: Alexander Gustafsson eyeing summer 2018 return- wants title shot next

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Top light heavyweight contender Alexander Gustafsson hasn’t fought since an impressive knockout win back in May, against Glover Teixeira. “The Mauler” is currently on a two-fight winning streak, and for many people, is seen as one of the most logical names to fight for the title next.

Currently absent from the Octagon since May, speaking to MMA Latest, “The Mauler” explains why he’s been on such a long layoff. “I have had an injury in my shoulder,” Gustafsson told MMA Latest. “I had a surgery a couple of months back where they put in a titanium plate to keep my collarbone in place. But that plate was taken out last week so I am back to training and slowly but surely getting better with all the rehab. I’m excited to be back in the Octagon soon.”

After so many obstacles, Gustafsson details when we can expect him back in the cage. “If everything goes well with rehab, I’ll be back in the octagon in the beginning of the summer – right in time for the next title match!”

Volkan Oezdemir was calling out Gustafsson for a European number one contender fight, Gustafsson explains he was never interested in the fight. “No, my prior goal and my only interest is the title fight,” Gustafsson said. “If Volkan wins against DC he will probably be my next opponent.”

The title fight is “absolutely” what Gustafsson believes is next for him and don’t expect to see him in a number one contender fight first. “As I said previously, the title fight is my number one interest.”

With Daniel Cormier and Volkan Oezdemir fighting for the title at UFC 220, Gustafsson shares his thoughts on the matchup. “It’s an exciting matchup – DC is the more experienced fighter and he is a more complete fighter than Volkan,” Gustafsson said. “DC has also been in this situation before, Volkan has not.”

Back in July, Jon Jones failed his second test for PED’s after beating Daniel Cormier to regain his light heavyweight belt. Before the fights with Daniel Cormier, Jones went to war with Gustafsson back in 2013. Gustafsson shares his thoughts on Jones’ second failed test. “Disastrous is my first thought,” Gustafsson explains. “But for the sport, it is good that the truth is out. I wish Jon good luck in his rehab and he is one of the most talented fighters in the UFC.”

Gustafsson was also asked if he eyeing a rematch with Daniel Cormier and Jon Jones before the end of his career. “Of course, I feel good and I’m motivated,” Gustafsson said. “I would like to get the opportunity to match up against both DC and Jon before I retire.”

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Exclusive: Aljamain Sterling discusses upcoming fight and more ahead of UFC Fresno

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Alajamain Sterling is set to meet late-notice opponent, Marlon Moraes, at the UFC’s return to California. UFC Fresno is headlined by a featherweight fight between top contenders Cub Swanson and Brian Ortega.

Sterling was originally supposed to meet Rani Yahya before he was forced to pull out. Although the Moraes is a bigger fight, it doesn’t seem to matter much to the Brazilian Jui-Jitsu brown belt.

I don’t really give a sh*t honestly,” Sterling told MMA Latest. “I just want to fight, make money, whoop ass, and get paid, you know? That’s honestly all I really care about right now at this point in my career and I’m fighting to pay the bills. This what I chose to do and I have to keep the ball rolling. That’s honestly the way I’m looking at things right now and it is a bigger fight for sure. But at the end of the day, it’s another man standing in front of me trying to do the same thing, separate me from my consciousness, or detach a limb from my body.”

Sterling also shares his thoughts on his new opponent, Moraes. “I think he’s a great opponent,” Sterling said. “I think a win over him puts me in a position to fight for a number one contender spot or challenge for the world title.”

Another bantamweight who was also looking for a replacement opponent was Jimmie Rivera, but was a fight with ever a realistic possibility? “Yeah, it was,” Sterling said. “But it takes two to fight, so Rivera didn’t want the fight and here we are.”

So why did it take so long for a replacement to be booked? “Well if you look at the landscape of the top ten, top fifteen of the division, everyone was pretty much booked up,” Sterling explains. “So there really wasn’t no one readily available to fight, so that kind of left me to either take a stay busy fight or just kind of wait and see what happens.”

Sterling also discussed who he believes is next for him with a win. “Well it really depends on the landscape of the division right now,” Sterling says. “TJ’s (Dillashaw) talking about trying to fight Mighty Mouse, I don’t know if Mighty Mouse is going to take the fight and hopefully he, TJ, he’s fighting within our division so we can keep this division going. Right now this is the hottest division, I think, in my personal opinion. So for him to try to leave the division to go take a fight at a weight class when he didn’t clean out his weight class yet, that doesn’t make much sense to me. So hopefully the UFC keeps him rolling and keeps him active between the 135-pound division. I think TJ’s actually a really great fight for me stylistically, but right now the man I’m worried about is Marlon Moraes, he’s a tough opponent, has the legs kicks, and I can’t sleep on this guy.”

Speaking of TJ Dillashaw, Sterling was also asked if he watched the TJ vs Cody Garbrandt fight at UFC 217. “Oh definitely,” Sterling says. “I would have been, I’d be a fool not to watch that fight. I thought it was a great fight, I thought skillset was very close, I thought TJ was more well rounded. I think a lot of people called me crazy because I was saying TJ had a chance of touching him on the chin and knocking him out but if he didn’t it would be a five-round decision win for TJ. But he’s a very durable fighter, uses his brain, and he implements a great gameplan everytime he goes out there. I think the only reason he got dropped at the end of that first round was because he got a little frustrated and wanted the action to kind of pick up a little bit and in the second round he changed gears a little bit and he started to dictate the pace a little bit more. Cody’s just a big counter-fighter, counter-striker, hits hard, he’s really fast, and he’s athletic, but outside of that his skill set, if we’re looking at the skillset side of knocking people out I’m going to say his well-roundedness is not really all there, I’m not saying he can’t do it, he can’t do it all, but when he fights he primarily just strikes with his hands that’s pretty much it.”

Finally, Sterling gives his prediction for his fight Moraes. “I’m going to go out there and push the pace,” Sterling explains. “I’m going to put in work and cash out B.I.W.C.O. I think that second round I’m going to push the pace, get him, get on his legs early, fire those kicks, fire those punches down the middle, I’m going to be moving. I’m going to be moving, grooving, I’m just going to go out there and do my thing man, so I’m, we got to figure out what our skillsets are, what we bring to the table and I’m just going to, we’re just going to pull up a chair and see how we’re going to have to work this out.”

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Will Fleury discusses incident on “The Fighter” and upcoming bout on December 16th

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Earlier this week footage from EFC’s “The Fighter” emerged on social media. The video showed SBG’s Will Fleury being struck with countless illegal blows to the spine and to the back of the head. At first glance viewers would look and see the first strike then await the referee to stop the action and warn the other fighter. Unfortunately, that did not happen, at long last, the fight was stopped, however, instead of a disqualification win for Fleury. It was ruled a no contest. The video bodes the question to what the referee was doing as well as raising the awareness of fighter safety.

Following all the in cage drama, Fleury was forced out of the show after being told he was concussed despite no medical tests being done on him. With everything said and done, Will looks back on the situation with frustration after all the errors made by EFC.

“The situation was a mess on a number of levels. There was huge potential in the show if they’d let me fight on. But they’ve made a series of inexcusable errors that have led to this ridiculous situation. I think they wanted to brush this all under the carpet and pretend it never happened. They basically treated me like I was a problem that they didn’t want to have to deal with.”

When looking at the in-cage issues Fleury does not blame EFC, as it was, of course, the referee’s fault. The manner in which they went about removing him from the show amongst other things is something he found speculative though.

“The EFC is a promotion, their goal is profit, not fair sport. In fairness, they can’t be held accountable for the referee’s incompetence. But, how they decided to deal with it afterwards was very questionable.”

Currently, in MMA, fighter safety is one of the most talked about things, from weight-cutting to late stoppages. Ireland, in particular, takes extra precaution with the introduction of Safe MMA. In his bout, Fleury’s safety did not look like it was in the best interest of the referee. Fleury recalls meeting the ref a week later and showing him the footage only to be taken back and annoyed at the referee’s response of not seeing any issue.

“If your role as a referee is to ensure fighter safety, he clearly failed miserably. Honestly, I think he’s just not competent for the job. I don’t know how long he’s been involved in the sport for but I met him at a show a week later and showed him the video. He didn’t really think any of the shots were to the back of the head, I got so angry, I couldn’t talk to the guy. Also, It was called a no contest because my head was moving apparently that doesn’t make sense either”

Considering his health was at risk due to the referee’s actions, Will is feeling fit and well with no issues coming out of the fight.

“Yeah, it honestly seems fine. I genuinely felt fine right afterwards and in the days after too. I was winning challenges in the house 16 hours after the fight. looking at the footage is very grim tho, who knows what sort of damage its done in the long term, hopefully very little”

For those who don’t know, Will is scheduled to fight Gordon Roodman on December 16th. Not exactly pleased with the new fight offer, he is glad to finally be able to showcase his abilities but doesn’t see this fight as any consolation for what happened.

“I wouldn’t say pleased. But it gives me a welcome outlet for my frustration and I finally have a platform to show just how good I am at whooping ass. No, It’s not really a consolation. I don’t think they give a shit about what’s fair. They just reckon they can make money from me. You can expect a 1st round TKO/KO”

Will has a very close friendship with teammate Ben Forsyth, having fought before he detailed how they became friends afterwards. After mentioning how it’d be cool to fight on the same card as Ben he details that getting those ever so scarce fights at the higher weight classes come first.

“Ben contacted me about becoming less of a twat so I gave him some advice and things blossomed from there. Yeah, that’d be great but our number one priority for both of us right now is just getting the fights.”

Will then went on to detail the hardship in getting fights on the regional scene.

“Yeah, it’s a serious struggle especially when you’re known to be a good fighter and people are trying to look after their records. there’s also just not that many guys. I’ve fought twice and I’m already the best Middleweight in Ireland. If it were up to me I’d have a lot more but still, that shows you how few guys there are. and if anyone has an issue with me being the best Middleweight in Ireland make 84 and I can prove you wrong”

For those who haven’t seen the footage mentioned above, here it is. Be sure to keep an eye out for Will in his upcoming bout a few weeks from now.

EFC was approached for a comment on this footage, however, have unfortunately not responded.

This is how my time on TF1 ended. 15 elbows, 11 directly to the back of the head, 3 to the spine with the other elbow after the referee tries to stop him. I had been dominating this fight up to this point and was keen to continue (I have to full fight footage proving this). I was told I couldn’t. The fight was declared a no contest rather than a DQ as I was “moving my head”. I was then booted out of the tournament because I was “concussed” (never did any tests to prove this and I was winning challenges in the house 16 hours after this happened) I was the best fighter in that house by a considerable distance and would have smashed any of the other 10 contenders if given the chance. I proved it in every training session and every legal moment in any of my fights. I’ve been denied the chance to earn a decent contract and get my title shot. I’m Will Fleury. I win shit these fucks have disturbed the natural order and I will restore it. #Bullshit #TF1 #irishmma #EFC #mmanews #mmafighting #trykeepmedown #rawbastard #resilientbastard

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