Preparations at Straight Blast Gym are continuing everyday for UFC featherweight champion Conor McGregor in his rematch with Nate Diaz at UFC 202. Along with team SBG McGregor has drafted in the likes of BJJ world champion Dillon Danis, 6 time national boxing champion Conor Wallace and world champion kickboxer Robbie Hageman to help in his preparations.
Hageman is regarded as one of the best fighters in the world having won the Enfusion 70kg world championship in 2014. Hageman has trained at SBG previously and was invited back to help in McGregor’s preparation for UFC 202.
“I trained at SBGi last year before Conor fought Aldo. At that time he had a cut above his eye, so we couldn’t spar. I trained with the sbg team and Conor’s coaches like Owen Roddy and John Kavanagh. I think they liked working with me because they contacted me to come back and train with Conor for the Diaz fight”
Hageman will spend three weeks at SBG in Dublin training with team SBG and McGregor and Hageman has been impressed with the SBG team.
“I really like Dublin and I really like training at SBG it’s a great team of guys. They treat each other like family that’s what I think that’s making the team so strong. I’m here in total for 3 weeks, I leave the 28th of July. Conor will go to America around that time. And I will have my first son around that time, my girlfriend is pregnant and my son will come the beginning of July”
Hageman has been extremely impressed with all aspects of McGregor’s skills and says McGregor has drafted in some of the best fighters in the world to work on all aspects of his game.
“Conor is working on all kinds of things, he’s a complete fighter with a great image so I’m learning from him a lot to! He’s a real boss. I’m just here for the standup work, because I’m a K1 fighter. He works with other fighters for the ground game(ufc fighter Makwan, blackbelt bjj Dillon Danis and #no3 ranked Australian MMA fighter Raja Shippen). He also works with a guy for the footwork too. So he’s working on everything to stay sharp. He fights every one on their rules, so he fights me K1, Dillon Bjj, Makwan and Raja mma, Conor is training like a real champ”
Hageman has trained and competed with some of the best fighters in the world and believes McGregor is right up there with them.
“I trained with all the best K1 fighters in the world like: Alistair Overeem, Gohkan Saki, Errol Zimmerman, Sem Schilt and many more. I fought a lot of good fighters too and became the world champion in enfusion -70kg in 2014. McGregor compares to these fighters because they were the best in their game and Conor is that in the UFC. But Conor is also different. I have never seen a guy with such a great personality. If he walks into the gym me, you, and everybody can see the champ walks in. And he fights all the best fighters on their own styles”
McGregor will finally get his eagerly anticipated rematch with Nate Diaz in just two months time and Hageman says McGregor is now used to the weight and will beat anybody.
“I’ll bet my house on it that Conor is going to win without a problem! First time he wasn’t used to the weight, it was too much in a short space of time, this time he is ready. He’s well prepared this time and used to the weight! With his confidence he’ll beat everybody. I’m sorry for Nate but he’s going to lose for sure”
Hageman himself has his own big plans as he is planning on opening his own gym in August in his hometown of Eindhoven Netherlands.
“I’m opening my gym in my own town, Eindhoven the Netherlands . I don’t want to train fighters there because there are to much of those gyms in Holland. I’m going to be the first world champion with a gym for businessman and woman to train in. It will be for models or professional football players to stay fit. The gym will be opened soon”
Hageman is hoping to continue training with McGregor and team SBG in McGregor’s future camps.
” I am really enjoying being apart of team SBG, it’s a great experience for me too and I would love to be back for his next camp”
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Felice Herrig vs. Karolina Kowalkiewicz in the works for UFC 223
UFC 223 looks to add a variety of intriguing bouts. With Paul Felder vs. Al Iaquinta reportedly set for the unannounced UFC 223 card, the promotion looks to add a high stakes female flyweight match-up. According to MMANYTT.com, sources confirmed a bout between Felice Herrig and Karolina Kowalkiewicz, is in the works for the pay-per-view card.
Assuming the match-up does come to be, both women have much to gain from a victory. For Herrig, she currently sits on a four-fight win streak. A streak in which the strawweight contender defeated Kailin Curran, Alexa Grasso, Justine Kish, and Cortney Casey. The MMA veteran, Herrig, began fighting professionally in 2009. As of late, her issues with the marketing machine that is the UFC have intensified.
After demonstrating her technical prowess over Justine Kish at UFC Fight Night 122: Chiesa vs. Lee, Herrig put her emotions on display. She stated at the post-fight media scrum, “Sometimes, I feel like, I’m not young and beautiful enough for the UFC to want to promote me. And it’s sad because I’ve really worked so hard to be here and it’s hard to see these people who’ve not been through what I’ve been through. Who just got into the UFC at the right time. They’re getting all these opportunities and I see how hard I work to get here and it’s just like, it doesn’t matter. I just feel like, ‘I’m not pretty enough and I’m not getting any younger'”.
A frustrated Felice Herrig then spoke to MMAJunkie.com in December. She claimed, “Aside from (former UFC women’s strawweight champ) Joanna (Jedrzejczyk), I’m the only strawweight who’s gone on a four-fight winning streak. That’s a fact. At this point, I want to fight someone in the top 10. It doesn’t really make sense for me to keep fighting girls that are ranked below me. That’s the whole point. If I want to keep working my way up. I fight the most dangerous girls outside the top 10”. The #9 ranked women’s flyweight has a point. In her UFC career, she recorded one loss in six appearances. Yet, she has one co-main event booking, while fighters like Michelle Waterson, booked the main event in her second UFC bout. In Waterson’s third bout, she received a co-main event scheduling. Understandably, Felice Herrig is upset with her situation.
Later in her interview, Herrig brought up Kowalkiewicz as a potential next opponent. “For whatever reason, I really want to fight Karolina. I just think that would be an exciting fight… Stylistically, I really like that fight. She’s ranked above (me), and it may be a good gauge for me,” she stated. Right now, it looks like Herrig is close to getting what she wants.
Kowalkiewicz last fought in her native country of Poland on the UFC Fight Pass card, UFC Fight Night 118: Cowboy vs. Till, in October. The Polish star defeated Jody Esquibel, after losing consecutive contests to former UFC female strawweight champion, Joanna Jedrzejcyk and Claudia Gadelha, respectively.
A win for either makes a good case for the next or an eventual title challenger. Kowalkiewicz holds a victory over current division champion, Rose Namajunas. While a win for Herrig would further establish her impressive win streak and undoubtedly give her the boost in the rankings she deserves.
Douglas Lima found out about change to co-main event at Bellator 192 from the internet
Bellator 192 fight card has gone through a shake-up over the past week. Bellator president Scott Coker revealed last week that the scheduled welterweight title fight between Rory MacDonald and champion Douglas Lima will now be serving as the co-main event and the heavyweight matchup between Chael Sonnen and Rampage Jackson would instead take top billing. At the time no explanation was made for the change. Monday Douglas Lima was a guest on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani to discuss this change.
“I was little bummed, but it is what it is, it’s business you know. I was pretty excited you know? Being the main event, having Rampage fight as the co-main event, I was happy there. Then I was bummed out that they changed it back to the co-main event. It’s not going to change a thing for me, I’m just focusing on the fight.”
Lima has been notoriously looked over in the eyes of fight fans. A longtime member of Bellator and a two-time champion has not gotten the notice he deserves and hopes to get.
“I found out through the internet, nobody tells me anything, I didn’t know. the same thing happened in New York, I thought my fight would be before the two main events there, but it ended up being the first fight of the night on Pay-Per-View. Hopefully, it doesn’t take anything away from the fight, you know spotlight and stuff.”
Lima is looking to make all the naysayers take notice at Bellator 192 that takes place at The Forum in Inglewood, Califonia on January 20th.
“This is the fight I’ve been waiting for for a long time. To get my name out there, to get people to know who I am. I’ve been delivering a lot of good fights, fights fans like to watch but no attention yet. I’m hoping though that after a win over Rory this week it will really put my name out there and show all these welterweights out there that I am for real.”
Al Iaquinta vs. Paul Felder rescheduled for UFC 223 in April
MMA fans around the world wept in deep sorrow when Al Iaquinta withdrew from a bout scheduled for UFC 218 against Paul Felder. Weep no more, for Paul Felder faces Al Iaquinta at UFC 223. Rumblings behind the match-up, first reported by FloCombat.com, came Sunday night before MMAFighting.com confirmed the bout scheduled for unannounced pay-per-view card, later in the evening.
The original bout fell through due to a severe knee injury to Iaquinta. He spoke to BJ Penn Radio about the injury nearly a week before the December 2nd, PPV event in Detriot. The Long Island real estate agent claimed, “I tore my PCL and my MCL maybe three or four months ago… for me to really put in a full training camp and do what I need to do, I would’ve had to just focus on fighting and physical therapy… it was the kind of thing where all roads led to me not kind of taking a risk and fighting on December 2nd”.
Iaquinta went on to say, “I kind of accepted the fight, but I never signed a bout agreement… I was kind of told I had to give them an answer pretty quick. It was a fight I thought I really wanted. I thought it was a good stylistic match-up for me, so I accepted the fight, and then thinking about it over the course of a day, we realized it probably wasn’t a smart decision for my health, for everything”.
An outspoken lightweight, he is not the first of his kind. Al Iaquinta is no stranger to idly waiting on the sideline for the UFC to make a move. Contract disputes and other bad strokes of luck left the Serra-Longo with three octagon appearances since 2015. The feud between Iaquinta and the promotion comes as a surprise when looking at the credentials of the aforementioned fighter. With an octagon record of 8-2, he earned notoriety as one of the best lightweights in the world. During his time in the UFC, he defeated Kevin Lee, Ross Pearson, Joe Lauzon, Jorge Masvidal, and most recently Diego Sanchez.
His opponent, “The Irish Dragon”, Paul Felder, holds an impressive UFC record of his own. At 7-3, Felder defeated tough competition as well. His record notes wins over Daron Cruickshank, Jason Saggo, Stevie Ray, and Charles Oliveira. Even more impressive than his record, his knockout ratio. At this stage of his career, Felder knockouts 55% of his opponents (10 knockouts in 18 career pro bouts).
Like his opponent Iaquinta, Paul Felder has a separate career outside of fighting. As many should notice, Felder found a role as a color commentator with the promotion he fights for. Following the footsteps in a long line of fighters before him, Felder announced multiple events alongside another new addition to the UFC broadcast team, Brendan Fitzgerald.
PPV card, UFC 223 and its location are not official yet. Despite a lack of an announcement, the event takes place in Brooklyn, New York at the Barclays Centre, according to multiple reports. Currently, the card features no official bouts. Reports state Felice Herrig vs. Karolina Kowalkiewicz (per Jim Edwards), and Evan Dunham vs. Mairbek Taisumov (per Farah Hannoun) are both in the works for UFC 223.
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