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Emily Ducote: ‘Ilima-Lei Macfarlane is my Biggest Challenge’



Emily Ducote

When Emily Ducote made her Bellator debut in July, little was expected from those outside of her camp. Ducote was scheduled to fight highly-touted, and heavily promoted, Brazilian prospect Bruna Vargas and went in as a significant underdog.

In the sport of opportunity, Ducote grabbed hers with both hands, literally. Ducote dropped Vargas with a big overhand right in the second round, before effortlessly taking the Brazilian’s back and forcing her to tap with a rear-naked choke.

It was a performance that embedded Ducote in MMA’s developing 125 pound landscape, but she was under no illusions as to what was expected of her that night in Mulvane, Kansas.

“Me and my team knew we were being “bought in” moreso.” said Ducote regarding the fight with Vargas.

“She had a lot of attention and we just knew we were not being counted on real well. So me and the team went hard and it was really great to get the win in that kinda fashion and sign with Bellator. We knew we had to do something big. We wanted that contract.”

Ducote like many of the other flyweight prospects appearing on Bellator shows this year was originally only bought in for one fight. Submitting Vargas earned the American Top Team OKC fighter another shot in the Bellator cage, against Kenya Miranda in September.

Another Brazilian opponent, another impressive submission. This time it was the arm rather than the airway that was attacked as Ducote won by second round armbar. That cemented Ducote’s place as one of the standout performers in the young history of Bellator’s flyweight division.

Next up it’s Emily Ducote vs. Ilima-Lei Macfarlane on December 3 in Thackerville, Oklahoma. Bellator are running two events that weekend, and performing as part of their big double-header against Macfarlane, in front of a home State crowd brings pressure along with it. Ducote accepts that this is the biggest fight of her career to date.

“It’s a big fight. She’s been doing really well in Bellator. I feel like it’s a pretty big matchup in the division”, said Ducote when asked about the magnitude of the upcoming bout.

“As far as my training camp, it’s been a little longer than my past few which is really nice. Just a little more extra time to train and prepare, but nothing crazy we’re gonna change. We’re just gonna go in and hopefully improve all aspects of the game, but not change too much for it.”

No need to fix something that isn’t broken, and with four wins already under her belt in 2016, Ducote is on track to complete a stellar year with a win against Macfarlane.

That is a task easier said than done, and Ducote is under no illusions as to the tests posed by her opponent on December 3. Ducote is expecting a fight that provides the fans with a little bit of everything.

“She definitely is my biggest challenge. She’s a lot more aggressive; She’s got a lot more experience in the cage; She’s well rounded.” said Ducote, ever respectful of her opponent’s abilities.

“I wouldn’t say she’s got just striking or just grappling, so I think she’s gonna come in real aggressive like she does and put a lot of pressure. I think she’s gonna try and get me to the ground, but I think she’d be happy standing. She’s not just a grappler. It’s gonna be a well rounded match.”

With the division in its Bellator infancy, there is no flyweight title to fight for. If there was, the winner of Ducote’s fight with Macfarlane would be right in line to challenge for it.

With so many great prospects already signed, and more experienced fighters like Sarah d’Alelio and Colleen Schneider fighting in the Bellator cage, it seems a case of when, rather than if, Bellator throw a 125 pound title into the mix. Ducote wants to put herself at the top of the list when Bellator are deciding who to book for a title fight in 2017.

“I don’t know if they signed Sarah (d’Alelio), but I know she just fought, and then Colleen (Schneider), so they’re both really experienced fighters. Those two are gonna be very tough and they’re gonna be great for the division because they have a lot of experience and their fights are really impressive. So I think that signing them and just building it even bigger, I just think that makes the title even more possible because they’re bringing in all these great people to fight for it.”

Ducote fully expects the flyweight expansion to continue,

“They’re really pushing for it to grow. I think that they’ve been working on it, because before I even signed with them and I knew I was gonna fight for them, I don’t remember there being that many fighters in there. I think that they’re putting all these fights in the cards, almost every card has a 125lb fight and I think they’re really scouting and signing off some impressive girls. It’s gonna be a big division.”

Five wins in a calender year, especially with three of them inside the Bellator cage, would be enough to catapult any fighter to the top of the 125 pound division. That is what Emily Ducote will be aiming to achieve against Ilima-Lei Macfarlane on December 3. While Bellator have not spoken to her about when a title will be introduced, Ducote would be hard to overlook with a win over Macfarlane added to an already impressive Bellator resume.

“No, I haven’t heard anything about it. I only personally thought that there is gonna be a title pretty soon, early next year. And I hope that this fight puts my name on the list to be considered for that kinda fight.”

Ducote is stepping into the Bellator cage as the underdog against a fighter who has been more heavily promoted. She does so in a prominent position on the Spike TV main card, with a big opportunity on the line for the winner.

If that seems familiar, it should, as it is the same position Ducote found herself in when she made her Bellator debut against Bruna Vargas. That pressure spurred her on to make a major statement. Don’t bet against her making another on December 3.

Bellator 167 takes place December 3 at the WinStar World Casino in Thackerville, Oklahoma. The event is headlined by a lightweight rematch between Patricky “Pitbull” Freire and Derek Campos. The Emily Ducote vs. Ilima-Lei Macfarlane bout will be part of the main card which airs like on Spike TV.

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Bellator 194, Nelson vs. Mitrione Pre-Fight Notes



Bellator takes over the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut later tonight. The promotion hosts, Bellator 194: Nelson vs. Mitrione from the venue, beginning at 6:30 pm (ET). Bellator 194 marks the 17th trip to the Mohegan Sun Casino. Their last trip, took place a little more than a few months ago in October of 2017, Bellator 185. The first trip to the Connecticut casino, occurred all the way back in April of 2009, and the second ever event held by the promotion, Bellator 2.

Twenty four fighters will make the walk later tonight, giving fans 12 bouts to watch from prelims to main event. Of the 24 athletes set to compete, five make their professional debuts. Peter Nascimento, Mike Kimbel, Pat Casey, Ross Richardson, and Ronnie Leon all fight for the first time, professionally. As amateurs, the group holds a combined record of 18-12. Only Ross Richardson maintained an undefeated amateur record (3-0).

In recent cards past, only some full broadcasts brought forward newly professional fighters. Events such as Bellator 191, 190, and 187, only broadcast short main card. While events like 193, 192, 189, 188, and 186 broadcast full fight cards. Since November of 2017, 15 fighters made their pro debuts with the Bellator promotion. Including Khonry Gracie in his unanimous decision loss to Devon Brock (Bellator 192), and Ty-wan Claxton, in his amazing KO finish of Johnny Bonilla-Bowman in the first round of Bellator 186. Claxton makes his second pro appearance tonight at Bellator 194 against Jose Antonio Perez, whom also fights for the second time professionally.

Upon completion of Bellator 194’s broadcast, 50% of the promotions first round matches in their Heavyweight Grand Prix will be decided. It is nearly impossible to choose, one match-up more interesting than the others. Yet, the Mitrione vs. Nelson match up is not only puzzling to fans and media alike. One half of the main event, at least, was once annoyed by the prospect of fighting his former TUF cast mate. Mitrione spoke to MMAJunkie about his reaction to the match-up, “Well, I asked them, how does that make sense? Roy is arguably the #2 guy in the division… Explain that to me, is there any seeding?…” He continued, “But the more I thought about, the less I really cared. Either I beat Roy when I have the strap, or I beat Roy to get the strap. What the hell difference does it make?”

In one bit of event news, fan favorite flyweight, Heather Hardy missed weight, in what turned out to be an odd set of circumstances. According to Hardy, she believed she made weight, without stripping down and using the towel. It was her understanding that the Mohegan Tribe Department of Athletic Regulation gave her a weight allowance for the bikini top and bottom she wore while on the scale. Hardy weighed in at 126.25 lbs. with the aforementioned bikini top and bottom.

This understanding was not shared by president of Mohegan Tribe Department of Athletic Regulation, Mike Mazzulli. The president made the decision to record Hardy’s weight without allowing her to disrobe, or take use the extra two hours allotted to make weight. It was his understanding upon examining and attempting to communicate with Hardy whilst she stood on the scale that brought him to the decision. After renegotiation of the bout agreement, Hardy was fined 20% of her purse which goes to her opponent Ana Julaton.


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Bellator 194 Weigh Ins Live Video



Bellator 194 takes place Friday, February 16th at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. The stacked main card features the second bout in the Bellator Heavyweight Grand Prix matching Roy Nelson against Matt Mitrione. Both former members of the UFC roster, Mitrione and Nelson look to make a further impact in the Bellator Heavyweight division with a potential step towards the divisions championship crown. In the co-main event, MMA veteran Patricky Pitbull takes Derek Campos. The two will most likely battle for the next shot at the promotions Lightweight title, following the Brent Primus (c) vs. Michael Chandler rematch. Other notable bouts on the card include Liam McGeary vs. Vadim Nemkov, Heather Hardy vs. Ana Julaton, and Tywon Claxton against Jose Antonio Perez. Bellator 194 airs live on the Paramount network, main card beginning at 9 pm.

The official weigh-ins took place earlier today, the results are listed below.

Main Card (9 PM ET, Paramount Network)

Roy Nelson (23-14) vs. Matt Mitrione (12-5) Heavyweight bout.

RN: 265 lb.

MM: 255 lb.

Patricky Freire (18-8) vs. Derek Campos (19-6) Lightweight bout.

PF: 155 lb.

DC: 154 lb.

Heather Hardy (1-1) vs. Ana Julaton (2-3) Women’s Flyweight bout.

HH: 126.25 lb*

AJ: 125 lb.

Liam McGeary (12-2) vs. Vadim Nemkov (8-2) Light Heavyweight bout.

LM: 203.75 lb.

VN: 205 lb.

Tywan Claxton (1-0) vs. Jose Antonio Perez (0-1) Featherweight bout.

TW: 145 lb.

JS: 142.25 lb.

Preliminary Card (7 PM ET)

Ross Richardson (3-0, Amateur) vs. Ronie Arana Leon (2-5, Amateur) Lightweight bout.

RS: 155.5 lb.

RL: 156 lb.

Mike Kimbel (4-4, Amateur) vs. Geoffrey Then (0-1) Bantamweight bout. 

MK: 135.75 lb.

GT: 135 lb.

Regivaldo Carlvalho (4-2) vs. Thomas English (6-8) Featherweight bout.

RC: 145 lb.

TE: 146 lb.

Jarod Trice (2-0) vs. Walter Howard (3-4) Light Heavyweight bout.

JT: 205.5 lb.

WH: 203 lb.

Marcus Surin (4-1) vs. Dean Hancock (3-1) Lightweight bout.

MS: 156 lb.

DH: 155.25 lb.

Peter Nascimento (2-1, Amateur) vs. Kastriot Xhema (1-1) Catchweight (165 lb.) bout.

PN: 163.5 lb.

KX 164.5 lb.

Tyler Hamilton (1-0) vs. Pat Casey (7-2, Amateur) Lightweight bout.

TH: 154 lb.

PC: 155.5 lb.

*Heather Hardy missed weight by ¼ of a pound and subsequently fined 20% of her purse. The fine will go to her opponent Ana Julaton.

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Exclusive: Saad Awad looking for the quick knockout at Bellator 193



Saad Awad makes his return to the Bellator cage Friday as he takes on JJ Ambrose.

The veteran Awad has been with Bellator since 2013, amassing a 9-5 record in the process, with five of those wins coming via knockout. Impressive wins against Will Brooks and Evangelista Santos feature on his 21-9 record.

The heavy-handed striker gets to fight in his backyard of California for the first time in over a year. A native of San Bernardino, Awad is fighting only forty-five minutes from his home, in the co-main event no less.

It’s great,” Awad told MMA Latest about co-main eventing in California. “I’m about forty-five minutes from my house, the arena sold out the week they released the tickets. So I know a lot of people are going to be here and the energy’s going to be really good, it’s going to be great, and it’s going to help me mentally.”

Meeting Awad in the co-main is a fellow California native himself, JJ Ambrose. Ambrose has been fighting since 2005 and has amassed 26 wins in his 13-year career.

He’s a veteran, he kind of flew under the radar,” Awad said. “He’s fought all over the place. I think he brings a lot of experience, a good solid stand-up, and ground game, and wrestling.”

Although Awad highlighted Ambrose’s quality, make no mistake, the “Assassin” believes he holds all the advantages.

I match-up with him great, to be honest, I think my striking is a little bit better, I think I hit a lot harder and my jiu-jitsu’s going to be a bit better, and I’m going to be able to outwrestle him,” Awad explained. “So I think stylistically it’s a bad matchup for him.”

Awad is coming off of a quick KO, one minute, seven seconds, over Zach Freeman. The quick win didn’t come as a surprise to Awad as he always expects to finish his opponents quickly.

I mean, not be cocky, but I expect to get a quick KO against everybody,” Awad said. “When I don’t get a quick KO then I’m like ‘okay something’s wrong’ so then I have to change my gameplan up. So nothing against Zach Freeman, I mean, every fight I go in there looking for the quick knockout.”

Currently, on a solid two-fight winning streak, Awad highlights what exactly the key’s been for him to get this far.

Honestly, I’ve just been training a lot,” Awad said. “I’ve just been training and focusing a lot on little details that I knew were my flaws, and every fight I’ll keep something new. If I see something go wrong in one of my fights, I’ll tweak that out and train it and get a little bit better and then just try and keep improving.”

With a win taking Awad to three victories in a row, it would make sense to offer the veteran a big fight. But Awad doesn’t have a name in mind next, although he doesn’t believe it would matter anyway.

Whoever they give me,” Awad said. “I can ask for fights but they won’t give them to me. “My only thing is trying to get a title fight, I’m not even going to ask for that anymore. I’m going to ask them to keep me busy. I just want to stay busy. I get paid the same no matter who I fight so as long as they keep me busy, that’s what I’m happy for.”

As for 2018, Awad’s goals remain simple.

Keep winning,” Awad said. “Stay busy and keep winning.”

If things go the way Awad expects, fans are in for a treat. As for Ambrose? Not so much.

I’m going to go in there and leave with a knockout, a violent knockout,” Awad said. “Get my hand raised, talk some shit, and leave.”

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