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EXCLUSIVE: UFC 216 Main Event Fighters Tony Ferguson and Kevin Lee

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The UFC Lightweight division never has a shortage of title contenders and the number one contendership is a game of musical chairs that often sees a logjam at the top of the rankings. Conor McGregor’s extensive inactivity in the UFC of late certainly has not done any justice to that tense and complicated situation. UFC has partially remedied the issue by implementing a few interim titles. The decision has been met with harsh criticism, particularly in the Middleweight division, where Michael Bisping is set to face Georges St Pierre, rather than Robert Whitaker – the Interim Middleweight Champion and rightful number one contender.

Nonetheless, the UFC is doing its level best at restoring order to the chaotic title picture, and UFC 216’s Main Event between Tony Ferguson and Kevin Lee will crown an Interim Champion in the UFC Lightweight division. Khabib Nurmagmedov was originally slated to face Tony Ferguson for the interim title in UFC 209’s co-main event, but after a devastating weight cut hospitalized the Russian, Ferguson was left without an opponent.

Tony’s situation turned out for the better in the long-term. As fate would have it, the UFC Lightweight Champion, Conor McGregor would not have been available to defend the title by mid-year due his recent boxing superfight with Floyd Mayweather. According to recent comments from Dana White and the Champion himself, McGregor is targeting a return by November or December of this year.

For the time being, his next opponent needs to be identified; enter Tony Ferguson and Kevin Lee. Though a trilogy with Nate Diaz is the most talked about, and seems to be the most favored match-up for Conor McGregor, the true number one contender to the UFC Lightweight title will be determined by the winner of UFC 216’s Main Event between Ferguson and Lee.

Tony Ferguson has largely flown under the radar of the casual fan, but a 9-fight win streak with a recent victory over former UFC Lightweight Champion Rafael Dos Anjos, has put him on a bigger platform to get well-deserved mainstream exposure. Rising star Kevin Lee has shown incredible potential to be a major force on the UFC roster and only has two losses in his 11-fight UFC career.

Following Lee’s most recent fight, a submission victory over Ultimate Fighter winner Michael Chiesa, the inevitable clash between the two outspoken lightweights played out on live television. Tony Ferguson was sitting on the Fox Sports One desk as an analyst while Kevin Lee was being interviewed, and the two engaged in a war of words that caught the attention of many fans and reporters. In August, Lee was an in-studio guest on Chael Sonnen’s podcast, “You’re Welcome,” when he explained that there was a more backstory than most people were aware.

“I’ve been in Tony’s head for a long time,” Lee told Chael Sonnen. “Tony is a fan of mine. For him to try and downplay me on air…look, there won’t be any disrespect without retaliation over here.” Kevin Lee then went on to reveal that although he and Ferguson did not attend at the same time, they are both alumni at the same alma mater, Grand Valley State College.

“Tony knows I always gave him the business, in college. When Tony would come back, he’d get the business – Tony knows. He was a national champion and I was an All-American. He would come back around with a little chip on his shoulder and I made sure to knock that shit right off.” A willing and eager ambassador for the newest generation of hybrid MMA fighters, Kevin Lee told Chael Sonnen that he is not worried in the slightest about Ferguson’s wrestling ability compared to his own, “In an MMA fight, I’m the best damn wrestler in the world.”

MMA Latest News caught up with Tony Ferguson at the UFC Headquarters and asked him if he was aware of Kevin Lee’s comments, to which he replied, “I’ve never had my eye on Kevin Lee. We never crossed paths. When would I actually take the time and go visit Grand Valley State? Maybe like one time, and that was before he went to school there,” Tony told MMA Latest News.

Tony said his plan is to apply relentless pressure, “I’ll make him quit, test his conditioning (and) hit him in the stomach – make him piss blood.” Click here to see Kevin Lee’s expletive-laced response to Tony’s threats of violence: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S0EDwfno62Q

 

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Vitor Belfort vs Uriah Hall in the works for January 14th

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Vitor Belfort vs. Kelvin Gastelum UFC

Longtime UFC veteran Vitor Belfort announced on his Instagram that he is set to meet “The Ultimate Fighter 17” runner-up Uriah Hall.

The fight is set to take place on January 14th according to “The Phenom”, no event has been announced for the date yet. The bout marks Belfort’s first fight since beating Nate Marquardt in a controversial unanimous decision, back in June. Belfort had previously announced his retirement fight would come against Marquardt but has since changed his mind.

Belfort has been on an interesting run since his amazing KO filled 2013. He came back in 2015 in a middleweight title fight against then champion Chris Weidman. He would end up losing the fight via TKO after almost knocking out Weidman early on. He went on to knock out Dan Henderson before dropping three fights in a row by TKO, the latest, against Kelvin Gastelum, was changed to a no-contest, after Gastelum failed a drug test for Marijuana.

Uriah Hall looks to make his return to the cage after knocking out Krzysztof Jotko, back in September, in a fight many deemed the “comeback of the year”. Uriah had previously been on a three-fight losing skid, dropping a decision to current interim middleweight champion Robert Whittaker, and losing his next two via TKO.

The winner of the fight would end up on a two-fight winning streak and could potentially find themselves a few fights away from a title shot. Although no event has been announced for January 14th, it seems the UFC is already looking to get some fights booked. It is still unclear if this fight will serve as the main event.

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Bellator

Bellator 185- How to Watch, Times and Fight Card

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Bellator is once again heading to Mohegan Sun in Uncasville Connecticut, and this time they are bringing with them one of the most anticipated former UFC fighter turned Bellator stars’ debut. Gegard Mousasi will be making his first appearance in the Bellator cage against a former Bellator champion in Alexander Shlemenko. Although this event has lost some of its star power over the last several weeks, it is still stacked and you can bet that the main event will bring some fireworks.

Earlier in the month, it was announced that King Mo had suffered an injury that had forced him out of his co-main event fight with former middleweight champion Liam McGeary. Bellator worked quickly to secure a replacement opponent for McGeary in Bubba McDaniels. Unfortunately for McDaniels and the fans alike, McGeary had later suffered an injury of his own and the fight was removed from the card.

This left a spot open in the co-main event slot, which would be filled by a welterweight matchup between Brennan Ward and David Rickels. Just four days out from the fight, Bellator announced that Ward had also become injured and the fight has been removed from the card as well. The main card has been shuffled around and the welterweight bout between Neiman Gracie and Zak Bucia will now serve as the co-main event.

Main Card- Spike TV (US/Canada) Spike UK (UK)- 9 pm EDT, 6 pm PDT, 2 pm UK

  • Middleweight Main Event: Gegard Mousasi (42-6-2) vs. Alexander Shlemenko (56-9, 1 NC)
  • Welterweight Feature Bout: Neiman Gracie (6-0) vs. Zak Bucia (18-8)
  • Women’s Flyweight Feature Bout: Heather Hardy (1-0) vs. Kristina Williams (Debut)
  • Lightweight Feature Bout: Ryan Quinn (13-7) vs. Marcus Surin (4-0)
  • Women’s Flyweight Feature Bout: Ana Julaton (2-2) vs. Lisa Blaine (1-0)

Preliminary Card- Live Stream (MMA Latest New)- 7 pm EDT, 4 pm PDT, 12 pm UK

  • 195 lb. Catchweight Preliminary Bout: Jordan Young (6-0) vs. Alec Hooben (5-3)
  • Middleweight Preliminary Bout: Costello van Steenis (8-1) vs. Steve Skrzat (8-9)
  • Welterweight Preliminary Bout: Vinicius de Jesus (5-1) vs. Joaquin Buckley (7-1)
  • Lightweight Preliminary Bout: John Beneduce (2-1) vs. Dean Hancock (2-1)
  • Featherweight Preliminary Bout: Timothy Wheeler (1-4) vs. Pete Rogers (2-4)
  • 150 lb. Catchweight Preliminary Bout: Don Shainis (3-1) vs. Matthew Denning (5-6)
  • 150 lb. Catchweight Preliminary Bout: Frank Sforza (6-0) vs. Vovka Clay (3-2)
  • Lightweight Preliminary Bout: Kevin Carrier (Pro Debut) vs. Jose Antonio Perez (Pro Debut)
  • Flyweight Preliminary Bout: John Lopez (6-4) vs. Billy Giovanella (9-5)
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Fight Announcements

Aldo vs. Lamas 2 and Ponzinibbio vs. Perry Added to UFC Winnipeg

Harry Davies

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The UFC has added Jose Aldo vs. Ricardo Lamas 2, and Santiago Ponzinibbio vs. Mike Perry to their UFC Winnipeg card on December 16th.

The two fights were announced as official today on the UFC’s Twitter account.

Aldo (26-3) last fought at UFC 212 in June, where he lost by third round TKO to Max Holloway. After being promoted to the undisputed 145-pound champion last November, he was looking to make the first defence of the title against Holloway.

Lamas first faced Aldo back in 2014 at UFC 169. Aldo, who was again featherweight champion at the time, defeated Lamas with ease winning by unanimous decision (49-46) on all scorecards. Lamas is on a two-fight winning streak after defeating both Charles Oliveira and Jason Knight with impressive finishes.

Since his last UFC loss to Lorenz Larkin back in 2015, Ponzinnibio (25-3) has won five consecutive fights. His most recent victory was a upset win over Gunnar Nelson in July at UFC Glasgow. There was some controversy after the fight, as replays seemed to show a short grab and several eyes pokes from Ponzinnibio before knocking out Nelson in the first round.

Mike Perry has taken the UFC by storm since making his debut for the promotion last August. Picking up four wins all by knockout, the only loss ‘Platinum’ suffered was too Alan Jouban by decision. Ranked at #9 in the welterweight division, a win over Ponzinnibio could definitely propel Perry into the top ten at 170-pounds.

With the additon of these two fantastic fights, the lineup for UFC Winnipeg is as follows:

  • Robbie Lawler vs. Rafael dos Anjos – Welterweight bout
  • Glover Teixeira vs. Misha Cirkunov – Light heavyweight bout
  • Antônio Rogério Nogueira vs. Jared Cannonier – Light heavyweight bout
  • Tim Elliott vs. Justin Scoggins – Flyweight bout
  • Chad Laprise vs. Galore Bafondo – Welterweight bout
  • Alessio Di Chirico vs. Oluwale Bamgbose – Middleweight bout
  • Vitor Miranda vs. Julian Marquez – Middleweight bout
  • John Makdessi vs. Abel Trujillo – Lightweight bout
  • Nordine Taleb vs. Sultan Aliev – Welterweight bout
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