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Knocked Down, Stock Up

Matthew Wells

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Has it settled in yet? Did the thirteen-second knockout of Jose Aldo register in your senses? Can Frankie Edgar do anything more to impress you? Is Sage ready for the next level of competition? We’re still in the aftermath of the record-breaking UFC 194 card that capped off an incredible three-card-week of fights in Las Vegas, and there are plenty of questions to be answered.

How does a fighter stand out in such a congested week? What can you do to ensure your name stays on the mind of fans and analysts alike in the wake of the Conor McGregor show? The obvious answer: Win your fight and win in an impressive fashion.  However, even in defeat, your stock can rise as a fighter. It usually takes a dynamic performance to do so, but it’s not necessarily always the case as you’ll read below. With 68 fighters squaring off over the course of three nights, half of those competitors left the cage with a loss on their record, but some left a lasting image in our thoughts.
Paige VanZant
Rose Namajunas gave Paige VanZant a proverbial wake-up call on Thursday evening. From opening bell to  tap-out, Rose completely outworked Paige in all aspects of mixed martial arts. From getting the better of exchanges on the feet, to takedowns, to slick BJJ and multiple deep submission attempts, Rose established her place on the shortlist of strawweight title contenders with a very impressive performance in the headlining bout on Thursday night.

Though, not to completely discredit Paige’s performance as she showed an incredible ability to stay calm and escape multiple deep chokes and armbar attempts from Namajunas. She also showed an incredible will to stay in the fight and keep coming back for more, while looking for that opportunity to shift the fight in her direction.  While her heart in the cage wasn’t enough to get her hand raised on the night, it’s what Paige did after the fight that has her stock rising.

In sharp contrast to Ronda Rousey, who went into a brief hiding period after her knockout loss by way of Holly Holm, Paige showed up at the post-fight press conference ready to face her detractors head-on. Like Ronda, some MMA pundits believed she was limited in her skill set and a benefactor of a hype train that would be derailed as she reached the upper echelon of the division.

It happened, and Paige VanZant completely owned it.

She immediately acknowledged the opportunities she has to improve as a fighter and let everyone see her scars and emotions on full display. It was refreshing to see someone with so much hype behind her show up and take it on the chin from the press afterward. “I got outclassed in every way. So, just get back with my team, game plan, and work on my technique,” said Paige at the post-fight press conference. Accepting and acknowledging there are holes in your game are the keys to improving as a fighter.

Frankie Saenz

Undefeated in his first three bouts in the UFC, Frankie Saenz found himself in a hell of a fight to cap off the prelims of UFC 194 against perennial title-contender, Uriah Faber. Not just any Faber, the most dangerous superlative version of Faber: Non-title shot Faber.

All but one of Faber’s 8 losses on his professional record were in bouts for a championship belt (the one being the other Frankie).

This was a fight that would have (and maybe still should have) been Fight of the Night, if it were not on the most stacked card of 2015. Saenz stood in the pocket and traded with Faber, hit him with brutal leg kicks, and popped the California Kid with some nasty uppercuts. Even in the second round after getting rocked with a knee to the head, Saenz stayed composed, weathered the storm of Faber’s hopeful fight-ending flurries, and found himself taking the back of Faber and controlling him to close out the round. While Frankie couldn’t seal the deal in the third round, he impressed the crowd and earned a lot of respect from the fans in attendance as he went the distance with the leader of Team Alpha Male in a hotly contested battle. Want to impress people? Don’t get finished in a tough fight against one of the most popular fighters in the sport, in the last free prelim slot on the biggest card of the year.

Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza

In one of the most interesting fights of the uber-stacked UFC 194 card, Jacare vs. Romero was one of the matchups many people couldn’t get off the fence about who they were picking to win. Jacare came into the fight on an 8-fight win streak, not tasting defeat since he lost the Strikeforce title to the man who would go on later that night to win the UFC Middleweight strap, Luke Rockhold. Yoel Romero’s last loss also came under the Strikeforce banner, but since that defeat had rattled off six-straight wins in the UFC, albeit not completely free from controversy (Google: Stoolgate).

The fight looked as if it were going to be over in the first round as Romero landed a vicious spinning backfist that dropped Jacare, leading to heavy ground and pound for what was the better part of the final minute in what scored as a 10-8 round in the eyes of some. Not to mention as the horn sounded, while Romero went back to his corner, Jacare was very slow to get up from the mat in the center of the Octagon. When he finally made it to his feet, he was very wobbly which garnered a lot of concerned rumblings from the crowd and prompted the cage-side doctor to come in for a closer look while being tended to by his corner. The fight went on to a second round that was relatively uneventful. However, the third round was when Jacare looked fully recovered from the first-round beating and unleashed heavy offense on the fading Romero by landing hard strikes on the feet and heavy elbows from top position after taking down the Olympic silver medalist.

This was a fight in which the first and third rounds were clearly decided, meaning the fight hinged on the second round. If you scored the second round for Jacare, was the first round a 10-8 for Romero? If so, that would mean the bout would result in a draw. What about that cage-grab from Romero that referee Marc Goddard could have taken a point away for? (See also: Is Using Your Warning “Dirty”?) Regardless of how the split decision was read by Bruce Buffer, the heart and determination shown by Jacare as the fight wore on, proved to be very impressive even though two of the judges’ scorecards saw it for Romero.

 

Even in defeat, your stock can rise as a fighter. Sometimes the performance outside the cage, after the fight is equally as important as the battle in the Octagon. Owning up to your shortcomings and working hard to overcome them is not only a lesson to be learned in mixed martial arts, but in everyday life. Heart, grit, and determination will get you through a lot of adversity throughout your journey in this life.

To quote Carlos Gracie Jr., “You either win, or you learn.”

 

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EXCLUSIVE: Jack Shore talks Cage Warriors 87 Opponent Change, Pressure and Being Ready for A Big Opportunity

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Jack Shore, a promising up and coming Welsh Featherweight who will be fighting on his fourth main Cage Warriors card in only his sixth professional fight. Despite his opponent, Federico Mini, dropping out days prior to the event, Shore isn’t concerned ahead of the opponent change. “Just another fight, I’m ready for anything come fight night and I’m looking forward to the challenge”. Cage Warriors have confirmed that Shore will now be fighting Italian, Mattia Galbiati.

Shore last fought at the Newport Centre, Wales at Cage Warriors 83, defeating his opponent Konmon Deh convincingly with a first-round submission. The crowd was electric for both his entrance and when his opponent tapped due to armbar, “I have a massive following and they like to make themselves heard on fight night, it’s getting bigger and bigger every time!”

Whilst using his extensive grappling to win the fight, the Tillery Combat MMA Academy fighter was very aggressive with his strikes on the ground, “I believe my grappling style is very different to what people are used to seeing and that’s why it’s entertaining to watch. I’m always looking to advance and put the pressure on, but I also try to use punches and elbows to set up my transitions.”

Being undefeated throughout his amateur career (including winning the IMMAF European Championships), to then continue being undefeated throughout his early professional career, Shore has a mature mindset for such a young fighter to how the sport works, “Obviously no one wants to lose but you have to be aware that it’s a possibility because anything can happen in this sport. But by being aware it allows me to train and prepare correctly to do everything I can (do) to prevent that from happening.”

Whilst growing up, Shore states that he wasn’t the most confident of people, “As a kid growing up I was never the world’s most confident person.” Cage Warriors being on BT Sport within the UK, being the biggest European MMA promotion, and having the following Shore has, he feels no pressure of fighting, “But as far as MMA is concerned I don’t feel any pressure at all. There’s obviously the fight day nerves but anyone will tell you I deal with them very well and am more than comfortable in that environment.”

With the current revolution of MMA in Wales occurring, former Cage Warriors fighters Brett Johns, Jack Marshman and John Philips all in the UFC, Josh Reed who has just come off a title shot with Cage Warriors Bantamweight champion Nathaniel Wood, Lewis Long being the best Welterweight in the UK. It brings a realistic opportunity of making the UFC, “Definitely. Since the first bunch of Welsh guys have been signed to the UFC it’s shown for guys like me, Lewis Long and Josh Reed that what we are pushing for is no doubt achievable. I believe that if we keep doing what we are doing then that dream won’t be too far away.”

Whilst having such a successful start to his professional career, and with the attention, this young Welshman is bringing, Shore is in no rush for the Cage Warriors belt, but is prepared if the opportunity arises. “I’m just taking one fight at a time. I’m aware that I’m still young in terms of my pro career so I will continue to fight whoever Cage Warriors put in front of me. Should a big opportunity like that present itself I’ll make sure I’m ready.”

Shore seems to be mature for someone of the age of just 22, the future seems bright for the young Welshman. Jack Shore fights on the up and coming Cage Warriors 87 card Saturday, 14th October at the Newport Centre, Newport, Wales. The event will be free-to-air on UK sports channels FreeSports, as well as be on UFC FightPass and via the red button on BT Sport.

Check the main card out for Cage Warriors 87 below:

Lewis Long vs Roberto Soldic (Welterweight)
Craig White vs Matt Inman (Welterweight)
Jack Shore vs Mattia Galbiati (Featherweight)
Aiden Lee vs Ludovit Klein (Featherweight)
Aaron Khalid vs Ross Houston (Welterweight)

By Ieuan Thomas.

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Gokhan Saki vs Khalil Rountree JR Added to UFC 219

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Kickboxing superstar Gokhan Saki will make his return to the octagon just three months after his UFC debut, as he faces Khalil Rountree at UFC 219.

Saki (1-1 ) made a big statement at UFC Japan in September, knocking out Henrique de Silva with a devastating, statement making left hook.

Rountree (6-2) is a TUF-23 alumni. His UFC run started unsuccessfully losing two in a row including his TUF 23 contract fight. However, Rountree is now on a two-fight winning streak after picking up consecutive first round knockout victories against Paul Craig and Daniel Jolly.

After making his MMA debut in 2004, Saki signed a multi-fight deal with the UFC in May and was succesful in his return to the cage. Saki’s first round KO of de Silva earned him a Performance of the Night bonus.

Neither Saki or Rountree are currently ranked in the UFC’s light heavyweight division, so a win at UFC 219 could most certainly push either of the two in the top fifteen at 205-pounds.

With the addition of Saki vs. Rountree, your current line-up for the UFC 219 card on December 30th is as follows:

Dominick Cruz vs. Jimmie Rivera – Bantamweight bout
Cynthia Calvillo vs. Carla Esparza – Women’s strawweight bout
Carlos Condit vs. Neil Magny – Welterweight bout
Louis Smolka vs. Matheus Nicolau – Flyweight bout
* Gokhan Saki vs. Khalil Rountree – Light heavyweight bout

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*Live Updates* UFC 216 Official Results

Harry Davies

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Live from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, the UFC hosted their eighth PPV card of this year as fans were treated to UFC 216.

The card was headlined by a Interim Lightweight title fight between Tony Ferguson (23-3) and Kevin Lee (16-2). Ferguson entered the octagon holding the record for the longest winning streak in UFC lightweight division history (9). Beating top names such as Rafael Dos Anjos and Edson Barboza in the process.

#7 ranked Lee last fought in June of this year, earning the biggest victory of his career when he defeated Michael Cheisa by first round submission (rear-naked choke).

In the co-main event, UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson (26-2-1) was hoping to break the record for most consecutive title defenses as he faced Ray Borg (11-2). The record (10) was held by both Johnson and former middlweight champion, Anderson Silva.

Johnson and Borg were originally scheduled to fight in the main event of UFC 215 last month, but the title fight was cancelled a day before the event was supposed to take place, as Borg pulled out of the fight due to illness.


UFC 216 Official Results:

MAIN CARD – PAY PER VIEW – 10PM/7PM ETPT

  • #2 Tony Ferguson (24-3) vs. #7 Kevin Lee (16-3) – For UFC Interim Lightweight Championship
    • Result: Tony Ferguson def. Kevin Lee via SUB (triangle choke) Round 3 – 4:02
  • (C) Demetrious Johnson (27-2-1) vs. #3 Ray Borg (11-3) – For UFC Flyweight Championship 
    • Result: Demetrious Johnson def. Ray Borg via SUB (armbar) Round 5 – 3:15 
  • #2 Fabricio Werdum (22-7-1) vs. Walt Harris (10-6)
    • Result: Fabricio Werdum def. Walt Harris via SUB (armbar) Round 1 – 1:05
  • Mara Romero Borella (12-4) vs. Kalinda Faria (16-6-1)
    • Result: Mara Romero Barella def. Kalindra Faria via SUB (rear-naked choke) Round 1 – 2:54
  • #12 Beneil Dariush (14-3-1) vs. #14 Evan Dunham (17-6-1)
    • Result: Beneil Dariush vs. Evan Dunham declared a Majority Draw (29-29, 28-28, 28-28)

PRELIMINARY CARD – FS1 – 8PM/5PM ETPT

  • Tom Duquesnoy (15-2) vs Cody Stamman (15-1)
    • Result: Cody Stamann def. Tom Duquesnoy via Split Decision (29-28, 28-29, 30-27)
  • Bobby Green (23-8-1) vs. Lando Vannata (9-2-1)
    • Result: Bobby Green vs. Lando Vannata declared a Draw (split) (29-27, 27-29, 28-28)
  • Marco Beltran (8-6) vs. Matt Schnell (10-4)
    • Result:  Matt Schnell def. Marco Beltrán via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 29-28, 30-27)

EARLY PRELIMINARY CARD – UFC FIGHT PASS – 7PM/4PM ETPT

  • #15 Magomed Bibulatov (14-1) vs. #11 John Moraga (18-6)
    • Result:  John Moraga def. Magomed Bibulatov via KO (punch) – Round 1 – 1:38
  • #13 Thales Leites (27-8) vs. Brad Tavares (16-4)
    • Result: Brad Tavares def. Thales Leites via Unanimous (30-27, 30-26, 30-26)
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