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Hayes “Haymaker” Christensen: An Amateur With A Professional Love of MMA Titles, the Lord, and Family

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10626539_835272166577736_8210017081423734772_nThe path to the top in mixed martial arts is the most difficult sporting journey for an individual, but, with faith and a supportive cast of teammates and family, Hayes “Haymaker” Christensen (am 7-4), a fighter who yo-yos from lightweight up to welterweight, is scheduled to compete twice over the next thirty days, expecting to line his waist with more glory as an amateur before proceeding into the pros.

Long before passing through the doors of the Lord’s home or Xtreme Couture in Las Vegas, Nevada, Christensen would argue his instincts as a fighter were evident at birth. During his youth, while most focus their attention on swinging from the monkey bars during recess and trading snacks in the cafeteria, Christensen survived life on the streets. In a tone removed from his troublesome upbringing, he opened up about his childhood, telling of: an alcoholic father who left the family when he was seven years old; and a mother who met an addiction to drugs and abandoned him four years later,

“I was eleven and started selling drugs when I was twelve. Then, it just got worse and worse as I got older. I dropped out of school when I was eleven, didn’t have an education and was mad at the world, wanted money but was poor. Most often, I had to sleep on the streets as a kid. I was money-driven, and I was willing to do whatever I could for it.” As if struck with an overhand right thrown like a Hail Mary, Christensen continued, “I finally felt like a failure at a point and gave my life to the Lord. That’s kind of how the turnaround all started.”

Fast-forward several years—though prior to discovering MMA and his role as a husband and father—Christensen’s drastic changes were as obvious as the brick-and-mortar walls forming the construction business he built from the ground up. When the economy slammed everyone in 2012 with the force of a wildly thrown fist, Christensen lost his small company, which actually steered “Haymaker” in the direction of MMA. He described his moment of clarity,

“I had my own business in construction, and right when the economy went bad, everybody was losing their business, and I lost mine. I couldn’t find work for like nine months.” A bell went off to signal the first round of a fresh possibility, “I’ve been fighting since I was a little kid on the streets, so I was thinking, ‘Hmm. What can I do that I wouldn’t have to start at square one?’ I thought, ‘I’ll become a fighter!’ After I moved out to Las Vegas to train, I went to my first gym, and that’s how it all got started.”

Christensen’s present-day situation started in Las Vegas, but, at thirty years of age, he’s far from 13138884_871349829636636_8799976739932060726_nfinished in the ‘Fight Capital of the World.’ Relocating from his first gym, where he felt undervalued, to Xtreme Couture, a facility with a storied history in MMA, was, Christensen would contend, the best decision he could have made,

“I’ve only been here [Xtreme Couture] the last two years, and my game has gone up immensely.” The proof of Christensen’s gains line his mantle, with space reserved for more trophied accessories, “I’ve got the 160 [pound] KOTC (King of the Cage) title and the 170 pound WFC (World Fighting Championships) title, and I’m going on July 16th for the 155 [pound] WFC title [at WFC 55]. Then, on September 3rd, I’m defending my KOTC amateur championship [at KOTC: World Amateur Championships III], which is live on TV and a chance to win a $100,000 pro contract.” Christensen quickly interjected another piece of hardware he’s earned, and proudly flashes up and down the strip, since joining the fold at Xtreme Couture, “In the first two years of my amateur career, my ears never puffed up, but in the two years I’ve been here, my ears are all swollen up and I’ve now got cauliflower ear.”

Entering the professional pool and challenging for straps at the lightweight division is Christensen’s goal in the sport, but he wouldn’t think of scribbling his name across the dotted line unless his coach, Dennis Davis, co-signs,

“I’ve seen guys go pro too early, but Dennis Davis is a ‘been there, done that’ kind of coach. He’s been around and knows what he’s talking about, and I’m not going pro without his say so.”

As “Haymaker” continues to weather his skillset for the July 16th and September 3rd title bouts, Screen Shot 2016-06-25 at 8.46.44 AMfight fans will recognize him, beyond simply the man with his hand raised and rolled into a shiny, leather belt—either in the center of the WFC or KOTC cage—when they hear the words he finds power in playing repetitiously into the microphone on seven previous occasions,

“Every fight, I say something about Christ. I say, ‘I’m out here for the Lord. He’s brought me on this path, and people that know me and my path; they know where I’ve come from.’”

Much like Christensen has found his pathway, which he lines in championship gold, to walk with God, he intends on harboring the same level of conviction when he attempts to walk down his next two opponents with one “Haymaker” after another. Even after the celebratory buzz of Christensen’s MMA career has faded to mute, he will continue hoeing the road that has brought him such happiness,

“I’ve got a wife, a one year old son, and a daughter on the way. I’m really blessed. This sport is hard, but it’s really put my life in a better direction. Overall, a way more positive direction than it was going.”

Travel with Hayes “Haymaker” Christensen to his upcoming contests and those in the future by following him at:

Facebook: www.facebook.com/JorDanHayesMMA

Instagram: @hayes_haymaker_christensen

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Exclusive: Josh Emmett: “I think I can make a run at the featherweight title”

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On Saturday, Team Alpha Male’s Josh Emmett takes on his toughest challenge yet as he steps up to face Ricardo Lamas on short notice at UFC Winnipeg. Lamas was originally supposed to take on Jose Aldo, only for Aldo to take on Max Holloway on short notice and leave Lamas without an opponent. Although it took some time to find a replacement, Emmett was the one who eventually stepped up.

So the fight came together, as everyone knows, Jose Aldo went up to fight Holloway, Ricardo Lamas didn’t have an opponent,” Emmett told MMA Latest. “The UFC and Sean Shelby were looking for an opponent for Lamas since that had happened and they went through the top 15. They asked, basically, everyone who wasn’t scheduled to fight or had a fight already if they wanted that fight and everybody turned it down. I was one of the few- actually I was the only fighter who wasn’t ranked that my name was thrown in the hat, and my managers they talked to Shelby. I was going to fight in January and Shelby kind of just threw that out there like ‘oh Lamas needs a fight too’ so my managers told me this.”

“I went to bed that night and then I just thought about it and when I woke up the next morning I called my managers right away and I said ‘hey I want that Lamas fight’. It’s a huge opportunity and these are the opportunities I want and I won’t pass up an opportunity like that. They told Shelby and he basically asked Lamas, he said ‘this is the only person that will take the fight against you, it’s either you fight Josh on December 16th or you have to wait ‘til a later card to fight a higher ranked opponent’ and I figured as a fighter and a family man, with the holidays coming up, and you know we don’t get paid if we don’t fight, so I thought he’d take the fight and he accepted it so here we are.”

Lamas is currently the number three ranked featherweight in the UFC. The veteran of twenty-three fights is the best opponent Emmett has faced so far, but the Sacramento native doesn’t seem fazed as he predicts a fun fight for the fans.

He’s one of the best fighters in the world he’s been at the top of the sport since he’s been in the sport,” Emmett said. “I think stylistically this is a great match-up. He’s well rounded, I’m well rounded, and I think we’re going to put on one hell of a fight for the fans in Canada and around the world and this definitely has fight of the night written all over it, he has the kind of heart, so do I. I think we’re just going to clash in the middle and see who’s the better man that night.”

The currently unranked Emmett could certainly find himself ranked into the top-ten with a win.

“I think a win over Lamas- for sure I’m in the top ten maybe ranked a little higher, maybe even the top five, you never know,” Emmett explains. “It depends on my performance. So if I can go out there and it’s just a close fight but I still get the win, I think I’m still up there but if I go out there and do what I’ve been doing in most of my fights and just dominating the fights and being one-sided or I get a finish. Then I think I can be ranked a little higher, maybe even in the top five.”

Although Emmett only has three weeks to prepare for the fight, preparation isn’t any different.

Preparation is really no different for me,” Emmett said. “Do I wish I had a six or eight-week camp for one of the best fighters in the world? Of course. But I’m taking the cards I’m dealt- I fought six weeks ago and got right back into practice probably 10 days or 2 weeks after the fight, because I help my other teammates get ready for a fight and I jump back into sparring too, because I was helping some other boxers prepare for their fight. So I’m in good shape and I literally just ramped it up as soon as I got the notice. I know it’s 3 weeks but I had the hardest 3 week camp of my life and the weight’s good. I feel really good. I just have to show up and perform the way I typically do fight night.”

Emmett is back at featherweight for only the second time since 2014. The former WCFC lightweight champion started off his career at 145 before trying out 155, ultimately he decided 145 was the best option for him in the UFC.

I feel good I think that’s my weight,” Emmett said. “I should have been fighting there all along. Like I’ve said before when I was starting out my MMA career I was fighting regionally. I was fighting at 145 but it was such a rough cut and I don’t know why but I wanted to try 155 one time and I feel, felt great. So I just stayed there and I got in the UFC at 55 so I just kept that going, but 45 I feel faster, my footwork- just everything, my movement is better, more fluid. I’m average to a bigger featherweight as well.”

“I think the lightweight division, I was just a small lightweight and at that level too I think every little ounce counts, as long as you’re doing everything right. I have a nutritionist, doctor, I have a whole team behind me that monitor a lot of my- just everything, besides my fight camp with like Team Alpha Male, and I just kind of dialed into that. Everything is scientific to the T. I just feel phenomenal and I think I can make a run at the featherweight title and that’s why I made the decision to drop down to featherweight.”

Visualization is also an important part of Emmett’s training camp as he believes the mental game is just as important as the physical one.

“I don’t know how the fights going to happen,” Emmett said. “It’s always unpredictable, one thing I constantly visualize is seeing my hand raised at the end of the fight. I do a lot of visualization, I work with a mind coach and I get put into every position good and bad, finishing the fight multiple ways grinding it out but always coming away victorious and to see my hand raised at the end of the fight.”

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[Exclusive] Demarte Pena talks rematch with Sayed at EFC 66 and coaching on the “The Fighter”

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EFC 66: The Fighter 1 Finale is only two days away now in what is expected to be a historic night for the promotion as they round off their first season of the reality show “The Fighter”. In the finale fighting for a shot at the title and 500,000 rand is Brendan Lesar and Ibrahim Mané. Topping the card though is the rematch between Demarte Pena and Irshaad Sayed fight for the bantamweight strap. In their last fight, Pena walked away with the decision win, however, it was later ruled a no contest after Pena failed a drug test as a result of a tainted supplement.

Demarte Pena comes into this fight determined to take that win and is confident it will be easier than the last. Having worked hard on his overall game, in particular, his boxing, we could see a somewhat different approach to this fight.

“Yeah, the first fight I controlled the fight really well, used my kicks kept the distance and took him down when I wanted to. But for this fight, I’ve improved a lot, especially my boxing, I’ve been boxing a lot, with professional boxers that are both African and World Champions. So I feel that my hands will be a lot better for this fight, I’ll be able to use them a lot better. And I truly believe this fight will much easier for me in terms of stand up and if it goes to the ground obviously I’ll be better than him.”

Following the tainted supplement issue, Sayed has recently been vocal about wanting to see a positive test prior to the fight. Pena did not hesitate in mentioning how he has been tested numerous times leading up to this fight.

“The last time I remember Sayed was just a fighter and he doesn’t work for WADA or SAIDS, so he might just do his job, those people are doing their job. I’ve been tested multiple times so I feel that fighters should just fight and stop worrying about other people’s jobs.”

The Fighter 1 will officially come to an end this weekend, looking back on the show, Pena described the difficulties he experienced at first but quickly grew to like the coaching aspect of the despite it being time-consuming. His overall view of it being very positive.

“Y’know coaching was very cool, at first it was, hard because I train very hard throughout the day and my time was taken up during the show. I didn’t like that as much, but after some time I started to enjoy more. In the beginning, it wasn’t as nice but the exposure was great for me and that it was going to be ultimately something good. After a while, I got to know the guys and they’re really cool guys, I made a few friends on the show so overall it was great”

The opposing team coach was, of course, Irshaad Sayed, who did a lot of talking throughout the season, something that Pena anticipated so it didn’t faze him.

“With him there as a coach I knew he was going to talk a lot, but it is what is, it’s tough sport you just gotta take the shots and give them as well”

A member of Pena’s team, Will Fleury, was tipped to do great things in the competition but was removed early after receiving numerous illegal blows to the head. Demarte agreed with many stating that the fight should have been clearly ruled a disqualification.

“Yeah, the Will Fleury incident was right in front of our corner, I do feel that Shaw should have been disqualified because those shots were illegal but I think EFC only made that decision because Will couldn’t fight anymore. In an ideal world, Shaw should have been disqualified for sure.”

Despite Fleury missing out on a chance at reaching the final, Ibrahim Mané, who was on the same team on the show made it to the final. Pena spoke highly of him as he enters the fight Saturday, believing that if the fight is kept standing it’s Mané’s fight.

“I have trained with Ibrahim for the past two weeks, he’s an extremely talented athlete, very explosive, very strong with very good cardio but he does have a disadvantage on the ground. If he gets taken down him to ground, Brendan will have the advantage.”

Confident he’ll get the win once again on Saturday, Pena is looking for bigger things having accomplished everything he can in the EFC. The UFC being mentioned as what could be on the cards moving forward.

“After I beat Sayed, there’ll be nothing more for me to do in EFC I feel that I have done everything. Yeah, definitely I think the next is to try and fight in the UFC or any other big promotion.”

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Exclusive: Curtis Blaydes on Francis Ngannou: “He’s not the cleanest striker but he is very powerful”

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The last time fans saw Curtis Blaydes in the Octagon was against Oleksiy Oliynyk at UFC 217. Blayes ended up winning the fight via a weird stoppage. In the second round of their fight, Blaydes got up from Oliynik’s guard and threw an illegal soccer kick aimed at his opponents head. Although the kick didn’t land, the referee stopped the fight and had the doctor check out Oliynyk. Oliynyk informed the doctor that he was unable to continue and the referee called a stop to the fight. The fight was ruled a TKO win for Blaydes in what proved to be a lackluster ending.

Even with the fight ending the way it did, it didn’t seem to take anything away from Blaydes’ victory. “No,” Blaydes told MMA Latest. “I was winning the fight. I would of won, anyone who says otherwise is just irritating. I don’t think the weird ending has anything to do with how the fight was going.”

Although Blaydes has moved on from his fight with Oliynek, one man who hasn’t moved on from a fight with Blaydes is new UFC signee and DWTNCS alum, Allen Crowder. Crowder has been calling out Blaydes in almost every interview he’s done so far. The Mebane, North Carolina native first fought Blaydes in April 2015, with Blaydes winning by TKO in the second round. “He’s not worth it,” Blaydes said. “If anyone wants to watch the video of our last fight they can look it up, it wasn’t much of a fight.”

Speaking of former opponents, Blaydes also represents the only fighter in the UFC to have gone toe to toe with Francis Ngannou without having his lights shut off. The Chicago native wound up with a closed eye and the doctors were forced to step in and stop the fight. But unlike Ngannou’s former opponents, Blaydes was able to experience the power first hand without going to sleep. “He has been getting a lot of hype but he is extremely powerful, Blaydes said. “I won’t- I’m not going to be a sore loser and downgrade all the things he does, but he is a powerful striker. He’s not the cleanest striker but he is very powerful.”

Ngannou was able to successfully able to shed the prospect label after he knocked out Overeem and punched (pun intended) his ticket to a title shot. Meanwhile, Blaydes believes he’s shed the prospect label himself after winning four straight in the UFC. “I mean I think so, but I guess it’s not for me to say,” Blaydes said. “It’s up to the audience and the media to say. I wasn’t the one who gave myself the prospect label in the beginning so it’s just up to the people who gave it to take it away.”

After four straight wins, three in 2017, Blaydes goals heading into 2018 remain simple. “To get better every fight, just trying to climb the rankings.”

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