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Exlcusive Interview with Randa Markos: The Dark Horse in the Strawweight Division

Vinny Craig

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This Saturday, UFC on Fox returns with a Lightweight title fight between champion Rafael dos Anjos and Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone. The main card, live and free on FOX, will start off with a Women’s Strawweight bout between Randa Markos and Karolina Kowalkiewicz. This is just the second time a Strawweight fight has been on the main card of a FOX show (the other Paige VanZant vs. Felice Herrig as the main card opener of UFC on Fox 15).

Markos came to the spotlight on TUF Season 20 where she was the dark horse of the season. Her victory as a #14 seed over the #3 ranked Tecia Torres was the biggest and most shocking upset of the season. Markos has continued that success into the UFC with a Fight of the Night, Split-Decision loss to Jessica Penne and a decisive win over Aisling Daly.

‘Quiet Storm’ recently packed up her stuff and moved from Windsor to Montreal, seemingly overnight, to train at Tristar gym. I talked to her about her move of camps, leaving her job and old gym behind and her upcoming fight with the UFC newcomer.

 

Vinny Craig: Over the summer you had a sudden change in camps, seemingly overnight. Why the sudden change in camps?

I always wanted to come to Tristar for a while now; it’s been in the back of my mind. I wasn’t getting a fight and seemingly my entire division was getting a fight, I wanted to elevate my game during this time and I made the decision that now was the time do it. The competition is only getting tougher and I want to keep sharp. I didn’t get the fight with Paige that I wanted, it made me mad so I packed up my stuff and went to Montreal.

VC: Sage Northcutt and his father had mentioned how outside life was difficult in Montreal while he was up there. Have you had an issue acclimating to the outside life?

Montreal is very different from what I’m used to. Everyone speaks French and you even try and get some food and it’s all in French. Other than that, I live in the dorms right next to the gym where I sleep, eat, and breathe training. Training is what I’m focused on and I don’t care what’s going on outside of that. We have a ton of people that come and go, a lot of UFC fighters. You get to talk to them and see what they’re like with their training. The dorms are really cool, living with a bunch of fighters and all around awesome athletes.

“Here [at Tristar] it’s just strictly training and it’s different for me to be 100% focused on training for the first time in my career.” – Randa Markos

VC: Was the idea of living in a dorm while training for a fight a new thing to you?

The only time I had done anything like this was on TUF. But that was different because they’re all potential opponents I might fight. Living in the dorms is really cool, I like being away from everything to focus on training. Back home I’d be taking care of things, working my job and spending time with my husband. Here it’s just strictly training and it’s different for me to be 100% focused on training for the first time in my career.

VC: How difficult was it leaving a job, team, husband and your family behind to train?

It was a really tough decision to make. My whole family is in Windsor and I had my job and my whole life there. I’m not getting any younger and you don’t get too many chances to fulfill your dreams. I’m in the UFC and I’m going to do whatever it takes to do to be the best.

Unfortunately staying in Windsor wasn’t me doing everything I could. I need to make sure I’m doing everything I can, and moving to the best gym in the world was my best option. I needed to make the sacrifice for my career.

VC: Was part of the reason you left because you had to work a job, cross the Canadian-American border to Dearborn to train, and then go back every day?

Sort of. It was mainly working wasn’t helping me at all. It was taking my mind off of training for a bit because I would train in the morning and then work for a few hours only to go back to train at night. It was good at the time, but I knew I wasn’t doing everything I could to be the champ. I need to give myself the best team to become the champion I know I am.

Training at Michigan Top Team, I had to cross the border and my coaches all had their families and didn’t have enough time for me. I needed to make this change to make sure I’m fully dedicated to this sport. Now I’m completely surrounded by fighters with a similar mentality and focus as I do. There are so many UFC fighters here and everyone is goal driven, it’s a great atmosphere.

“My improvement against Aisling Daly is all from [Michigan] Top Team.” – Randa Markos

VC: Your previous team is Michigan Top Team in Dearborn, which is run by Daron Cruickshank. How is your relationship with him now?

Still really good! I’m still going to train there when I’m home in between fights. He’s an awesome guy who is very dedicated to his craft. It’s an awesome gym and they helped me a lot. I just needed to make the change and I always wanted to go to Tristar to see if it was a fit for me. My improvement against Aisling Daly is all from Top Team. We (Me and Daron) are still really close and I’ll see him and the whole team when I get back home.

VC: That team has gotten a bad reputation from fans that say they didn’t do anything for you, but I have to refute that.

They helped me a lot for my fight with Aisling, a lot of credit goes to them.

VC: You mentioned before that you wanted a fight with Paige VanZant and it didn’t go through. Were there serious talks between your team and the UFC to make that fight happen?

I didn’t ask the UFC for it, I just put it out on social media. I was waiting for a fight and nothing was happening, so I finally said ‘I’m going to take a shot and see if I get it’. She had a really good fight with Alex Chambers and then they moved her up ahead of me in the rankings, which made me want it even more. That was a big reason why I wanted that fight, if she was going to move me down in the rankings she should, at least, have to fight me for it. When I didn’t get it, it was whatever to me. Everything happens for a reason and it helped me in my decision to come to Tristar.

“I think I can beat anybody in the UFC. I’m here to be the champ!” – Randa Markos

VC: Seeing her against Rose Namajunas, a former opponent of yours and in a fight that you wanted, could you have beaten that Paige VanZant?

I think I can beat anybody in the UFC. I’m here to be the champ! I thought the VanZant fight would be a good fight, especially because of the rankings thing. I wanted her to have to fight me for it instead of just being handed it. I definitely think I can beat her.

VC: What did you think of the fight?

I thought it was an awesome fight. Rose looked really good and was extremely technical.

VC: You’re fighting Karolina Kowalkiewicz, how do you see that fight playing out for you?

You can play it out in your head all you want, but once you get in the cage anything can happen. I know she’s going to try and keep it on her feet, but I’m ready for anything. I’ve been training the ground game just as much as the standup for this fight. I feel confident anywhere and I’m ready for anything. I have a feeling she’s going to try and keep it on the feet and use her great take down defense.  I’m aware of all of her skills; she has two submissions in the past which means we can’t take her ground game lightly.

VC: You mentioned rankings as a motive for wanting a fight with Paige. Kowalkiewicz is pretty unanimously top 5 best Strawweights in the world. Was that a motive for this fight?

I don’t really care about rankings. I wasn’t getting a fight and she was moving ahead of me while I received notice after notice of ‘there’s no fight for you’ or ‘this persons injured’. It was very discouraging while I was training hard and still nothing. The rankings thing was just a reason to ask for a fight because I’m not the type to bad mouth anyone. She was constantly moving up and she’s moving me down after beating opponents I know I can beat. I know rankings don’t matter, especially in our division because of unknowns. Take Karolina, she’s 7-0 and no one has even heard of her, but she is definitely top 5 for sure.

” I will get my turn to fight Tecia again; I just have to be patient.” – Randa Markos

VC: Your season of TUF was based off rankings 1-16. You had the upset of the season as a 14 seed beating the 3 seed Tecia Torres. What’s it like, watching her getting fights and [becoming] closer to a title shot?

It doesn’t bother me. She beat Rose in Invicta and Rose is a very tough opponent. I will get my turn to fight Tecia again; I just have to be patient.

VC: You only fought twice in 2015, what does 2016 bring for you?

It all depends on this fight. If I do well, my future will be better. If not, then I’m doing alright for 2016. I’ll still be working hard, win or lose it’s a lesson for me. Either way, I’m going to get better from this fight. I don’t really know what the future will bring me, but I’m ready to fight whenever and I hope 2016 brings me more fights.

You can follow Randa on twitter: @randamma, Instagram: randamarkos, Snapchat: randamma and her own website: www.randamarkosmma.com

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Exclusive: Derek Brunson: “Anderson was definitely a little lubed up”

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Derek Brunson fought Anderson Silva back in February of this year, at UFC 208. Brunson would go on to lose the fight by controversial unanimous decision. However, the controversies didn’t stop at the questionable decision, Brunson also claims Silva was greasing during the fight. The Wilmington, North Carolina native, posted about it on Twitter a few days ago:

Speaking with MMA Latest, Brunson explained why he believes Silva was greasing during the fight. “Anderson was definitely a little lubed up. Every time I grabbed him he was just slipping out of everything, and his takedown defense was really good that night. I was definitely curious to know why he was very slippery, which I definitely think he had some kind of substance on his body. He knows I’m a wrestler obviously, he’s an old, savvy veteran, so he was definitely trying to play all the rules and be very strategic, and make it harder for a wrestler to grab him.”

Brunson is set to face Lyoto Machida come October 28, when asked about whether he was worried about Machida greasing, considering Gegard Mousasi accused him of doing so in their fight, Brunson admitted he wasn’t too worried.

Well I’m not too worried, but like I said, I put it out there because I know they’re friends and I know, obviously, that’s kind of what the guys do when they know they’re fighting a wrestler. They want to lube their body up really good to make it hard to grab hold, Anderson did a great job defending my takedowns. It’s because he was all greased up so he was able to stop a lot of them. When I grab guys in the clinch, it’s very tough for them to get away and I’m pretty good with my Greco takedown. He was pretty much pulling through my clinch when I had a tight grip on him and if you have some kind of substance on your body it’s easy to pull them.”

Neither Silva nor his management have commented on the greasing allegations. Anderson Silva makes his return against Kelvin Gastelum later this year, in China. While Brunson makes his return to the Octagon on October 28th, in Brazil, where he looks to add Lyoto Machida’s name to his impressive list of victories.

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Ovince Saint Preux Steps in to Face Corey Anderson at UFC 217

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UFC 217 just got even more interesting. Earlier this week, Patrick Cummins pulled out of his light heavyweight matchup with Corey Anderson due to a Staph infection. Corey “Overtime” Anderson was not happy with his opponents decision, even calling out his opponent on Instagram asking how Cummins could, “call it quits so far from fight night”.

The UFC left Anderson on the card, and he found an opponent through the magic of Twitter. Ovince Saint Preux tweeted out directly to Anderson stating:

It didn’t take long for Anderson to respond agreeing to the fight, tagging Mick Maynard and Dana White in his response.

Only a few short hours later, the fight announcement came from the official UFC twitter account.

 

This top 10 Light Heavyweight matchup should add to an already amazing card coming in November at Madison Square Garden. Saint Preux is coming off of back to back wins both due to the very rare von flue choke, he finds himself ranked #7th in the latest edition of the 205-pound rankings. Corey “Overtime” Anderson is 4-2 in his last 6 fights, but is coming off a brutal first round knockout loss to Jimi Manuwa in March.

With such a exciting fight added to this card, what do you see happening November 4th?  Will Corey Anderson bounce back and look to jump into the top 5 of the rankings, or will Ovince Saint Preux go for a third straight von flue choke? Let us know.

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*Watch* Bellator 185 Weigh in: Live Stream, Results

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Watch the live weigh-ins for Bellator 185 here.

Gegard Mousasi takes on Alexander Slemenko live this Friday night October 20th at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville CT. This is the first appearance for Mousasi in the Bellator cage as he looks to secure a title shot with a win over the very tough former Bellator champion Slemenko. Joining these men of the main card will be a pair of welterweights as Neiman Gracie from the famous Gracie BJJ family takes on Zak Bucia in the co-main event.

Full Weigh-in Results: (Updated in real time)

Main Card:

Gegard Mousasi (185) vs. Alexander Shlemenko (186)
Neiman Gracie (170.5) vs. Zak Bucia (170)
Heather Hardy (126) vs. Kristina Williams (126)
Ryan Quinn (155.5) vs. Marcus Surin (155)
Ana Julaton (125.5) vs. Lisa Blaine (122)

Preliminary Card:

Jordan Young (200) vs. Alec Hooben (194)
Costello van Steenis (185) vs. Steve Skrzat (186)
Vinicius de Jesus (170) vs. Joaquin Buckley (171)
John Beneduce (154.5) vs. Dean Hancock (155)
Timothy Wheeler (144) vs. Pete Rogers (144)
Don Shainis (150) vs. Matthew Denning (149)
Frank Sforza (149) vs. Vovka Clay (150)
Kevin Carrier (156) vs. Jose Antonio Perez (153)
John Lopez (126) vs. Billy Giovanella (125)

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