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Misha Cirkunov: The Universal Language of Fighting

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With the torso of a sturdy refrigerator and logs for limbs, Misha Cirkunov (11-2) raises the hairs on the back of everyone’s neck when he carries the stone cold stare of a killer into the UFC’s Octagon. Interestingly enough, instead of running for the exits of the arena, fans inch closer to the edge of their seats. Even if the pronunciation of his name hasn’t been mastered by the majority, Cirkunov, after compiling two straight wins in devastating fashion, has attracted the attention of MMA enthusiasts. On episode 80 of the MMA Latest News P4P Podcast (link here), the light heavyweight, who doubles as a marble statue, shared a piece of his journey that drew listeners to their speakers like iron filings to a magnet. Cirkunov, at an early age, demystified the universal language of fighting.

Born in Riga, Latvia, the fading accent of Cirkunov flashed back to his discovery of martial arts, but the practice was quickly buried when his family moved to Toronto, Canada,

“As soon as I fell in love with Judo, my parents decided to emigrate to Canada, just for the better opportunities and better future.”

Today, Cirkunov comfortably travels from continent to continent as a prizefighter, but an adolescent without the ability to read a GPS quickly becomes lost,

“I went to Canada, and I was like: here I am, and I cannot speak the language; I don’t know anybody; I have no friends. I was twelve years old. That is the age when you have friends, and you go hang out. I had nobody, and I was really depressed.”

Usually, the first four-letter words learned in a new language gets your mouth washed out with soap, but Cirkunov rekindled his spirits when the word ‘Judo’ registered like a pop-up book,

“I was just sitting at home, and I saw a newspaper with an article about a Judo Club. I had totally forgotten about Judo because I was so depressed.”

Upon reaching the welcome mat of the YMCA Judo Club, Cirkunov exploded through the entrance with the same firepower he’ll display in his upcoming matchup at UFC Fight Night Ottawa: MacDonald vs. Thompson on June 18, 2016,

“You know when you go in a club and you smell the mats, sweat, and kind of grappling environment? I almost had tears because it was the same smell as back home. I got on the mats and was like: I’m home now.”

It was heartwarming to hear Cirkunov self-medicate his depression with a gi and an endless refill of hip throws and knee wheels. The speakers of any streaming device will detect a smile, with the same vascular pump as the rest of his body, curving Cirkunov’s face when he described his time during these sessions, as well as their lasting impression,

“Every time I went on the mat, everyone was my friend. Ever since then, I like being on the mats.”

No matter where home is, there’s no need for an interpreter during Cirkunov’s fifteen minutes because, as of now, a full three rounds hasn’t been needed; he’s fluent in any exchange.

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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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Bellator 185 Fight to Watch: Heather Hardy vs. Kristina Williams

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Heather Hardy will compete in MMA for the second time at Bellator 185 on Friday night, as she faces Kristina Williams in a strawweight contest. The fight takes place on the main card at the Mohican Sun Arena in Connecticut.

Potentially, what Bellator have in Heather ‘The Heat’ Hardy is a major draw that they can build their 125 pound division around. While relatively new to the organisation she is fast becoming one of the more popular names on the roster. Her career is in the early stages, but many have already started to draw comparisons with former boxer turned MMA star, Holly Holm. Holm’s UFC success partly inspired the native New Yorker to make the switch from boxing.

Hardy is already an established world champion in the land of the ‘sweet science’, holding a 21 fight undefeated professional record. She made her MMA debut in June this year with a victory over Alice Yauger, at Bellator 180. At 35, Hardy is a late starter in the sport, but proved at Madison Square Garden against the credible Yauger that she has a bright future.

Hardy’s first outing in the cage was disciplined and composed. Despite a slow start in round one, Hardy grew in confidence as the fight progressed and her cardio never faltered. She mixed in plenty of kicks that complimented her boxing and looked at ease in the clinch, even defending a couple of takedown attempts in the process.

Despite looking on course for a decision win, Hardy forced the TKO stoppage with just thirteen seconds remaining in round three. Even a large cut that required seven stitches from an accidental head clash could not deny her victory.

Hardy was fighting an experienced professional, competing for the tenth time in MMA, which makes the win over Yauger more impressive. However, her upcoming opponent Kristina Williams will be making her professional debut.

There is little known about Williams except that she is 3-0 at amateur level. One of those wins came by way of submission so there may well be a threat to Hardy if the fight goes to the ground. More importantly for Williams is how she copes on the big stage against a popular opponent, who is more familiar competing in high pressure combat situations. If Williams can produce an upset it will be a huge boost in her young career.

But in all honesty, this fight is about Hardy. It’s about getting the win and gaining valuable experience. The boxing career is on hold while MMA takes centre stage. Beating Williams will mean she likely continues fighting inside a cage rather than a boxing ring.

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