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Misha Cirkunov gunning for the light heavyweight elite by end of 2017

Matthew Wells

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The UFC’s light heavyweight division is the promotion’s most estranged division by far. It’s very top heavy – to be precise, it’s a three-horse race in the title picture, with one horse on the sidelines due to his own transgressions. Among some aging fighters whose best days may be behind them, there is a handful of very talented fighters with world class talent that simply haven’t been able to break through the triforce that is Anthony Johnson, Jon Jones, and Daniel Cormier.

On the outside looking in, we have Alexander Gustafsson, Ryan Bader, andJimi Manuwa – all perennial contenders who have come up short in championship bouts, title eliminator fights, or have knocked each other off on their journey to UFC gold. However, considering the lack of depth at 205, they are always one big win away from another shot at the throne in a division that needs a new face to make waves in the upper ranks. Misha Cirkunov has plans to do exactly that by the end of 2017.

Born in Latvia and fighting out of Toronto, Canada, Cirkunov made his latest statement this past weekend in front of the Canadian crowd at UFC 206 with an impressive win over Nikita Krylov. It was Misha’s fourth fight in the UFC and he only needed 4:38 to get the job done via submission against a very, very tough opponent. The support from the local fans gave Cirkunov a feeling of invincibility as he stated during his post-fight scrum, “Having this kind of crowd supporting me, I thought I could go into anything. I thought I could go into a fire and just like, come out not burned.” He truly soaked in the moment as he climbed on top of the cage and screamed, “I LOVE THIS CITY!”

While he may not be truly flame resistant, he’s as hot as they come right now among light heavyweights. With all four of his UFC wins coming by stoppage, the Cirkunov hype train is starting to gain some real momentum. Admittedly, he understands his time to crack into the upper echelon of the division is coming soon, and he feels by the end of 2017 he’ll be ready to compete at the highest level. “I’ve just got to work on a few more things. I like to play chess – MMA chess. I think at the end of 2017, beginning of 2018, I’ll be at the level of those elite guys.” In the meantime, Cirkunov is ready to take on some of the light heavyweight “legends” such as Mauricio “Shogun” Rua to test his skills against a true veteran of the sport with high fight IQ.

Perhaps the most interesting part of Cirkunov’s success is that he doesn’t have a dedicated MMA coach. He trains and works with a group that considers themselves “MMA nerds” who simply love the sport, but there is no one man steering the ship. “We consider ourselves big, big fans of the game. We really like mixed martial arts and we don’t have any man above us and any man below us. We just absorb, we talk, we study. We create a game plan on the go,” explained Misha. Not having a coach focused on his career and development is rarely seen at the highest level of the sport, but it’s worked well for him thus far and doesn’t see an immediate need to make a change to that approach. “Now that I’m reaching an elite level, I think next year I’m planning on fighting twice. I’ll be studying, getting to know who I’m going to be fighting, preparing for that matchup,” stated Cirkunov. The self-dubbed “MMA nerds” have found success with Cirkunov, and very well may create a new player at the top of the 205-pound division.

“Now that I’m reaching an elite level, I think next year I’m planning on fighting twice. I’ll be studying, getting to know who I’m going to be fighting, preparing for that matchup,” stated Cirkunov. The self-dubbed “MMA nerds” at Xtreme Couture Toronto have found success with Cirkunov, and very well may create a new player at the top of the 205-pound division.

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Interviews

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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Announcement

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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Announcement

*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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