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*Exclusive* A new Johny is ready to take the stage at UFC 200

Matthew Wells

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Johny Hendricks is much more than a former UFC champion.

He’s a husband, father of four, a great teammate, and a fighter on a mission to earn another shot at reclaiming the belt. With three fights left on his current contract, Johny plans on taking it one step at a time to put himself back in contention in the welterweight division. First on the path is his current opponent, Kelvin Gastelum, whom he will share the cage with on July 9, 2016, on the prelims of potentially the biggest card in the history of the UFC during International Fight Week, UFC 200.

His last outing didn’t go so well, as the former champion admitted his focus wasn’t on his last opponent, the very dangerous striker Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson, yet rather on his weight cut, which was a dark cloud hanging over his head since the incident at UFC 192 in Houston, Texas. Leading up to the fight against Thompson, he couldn’t escape the myriad of questions about weight management, resulting in external pressure which detracted his focus from the fight itself. Johny’s fight was on the scale first and “Wonderboy” second.

This time, expect to see a new Johny Hendricks enter the cage on July 9. His focus is locked in on the fight and his opponent, with weight issues by the wayside. For the second time in a row, Johny is working with Lou Giordano, his weight management specialist, who has become good friend with the former champion. Lou’s impact on Johny’s weight cuts has been a positive one in their short time together, getting the results necessary to ensure Johny will make weight easily. With stepping on the scale no longer being an issue, Johny can focus on what he does best, and that’s inflicting pain on his opponents inside the Octagon.

Having spoken with Johny before the fight against Stephen Thompson and now this fight with Gastelum, the vibe is completely different. Johny is happier and his coaches are happier, which creates a confident team, and a confident fighter heading into the cage at UFC 200. With the renewed focus, Johny feels he’s still growing as a fighter while working with Steven Wright, his striking coach, who’s constantly pushing him in training while implementing new techniques and combinations.

During our interview, Johny spoke on what it means to fight on one of the biggest fight cards of the year and why he will see the new version of Johny.

Matthew Wells: Johny, you have a big fight coming up next weekend, facing Kelvin Gastelum. It’s UFC 200, International Fight Week, what are you looking forward to the most next week?

Johny Hendricks: What am I looking forward to the most next weekend? The 8 AM weigh-in. That’s gonna be sweet! By 8:30, I plan on eating breakfast! That’s gonna be awesome. Second, it’s UFC 200. Look at the card. Besides the Brock card (fight), Brock being on there, in my opinion…that’s a stacked card. You know what I’m saying? Even though I like Brock and I like Mark Hunt, he’s a good fighter, you know what I mean? I just see those (other) four fights alone, could hold any card, right? It’s all on UFC 200 and I’m privileged enough to be involved in that. So that right there is huge for me, I’m super excited. What can I say, I’m a fanboy! I love Cain Velasquez, so I can’t wait to see him fight. I became friends with Cain Velasquez through DC. DC was the one who said ‘hey, come hang out with us,’ and he was always around Cain, then I became Cain’s friend, and then, I’m also a big Frankie Edgar fan. Miesha Tate? Awesome. So I’m excited for four out of the five, I’ll be sitting in the back chillin’, ya know, relaxing and watching just like everybody else! I’m invested in four out of the five fights, I’m super excited. I can’t wait to see DC, Cain, and those guys to see how they’re doing. So more than anything, just being a fanboy.

MW: With all of those awesome fights going on at UFC 200, and the two nights prior to that, have you given it any thought of having a special performance to leave a lasting image? Winning the weekend and standing out against these other awesome fights?

JH: Haha! No! I mean, really, if I go out there and I perform, I’ll do that. But you’ve also gotta know that you’re competing against DC, Jon Jones, Cain, Travis Browne, then you’ve got Frankie/Aldo, Miesha Tate. You’re sitting here going, ‘Ok, I’ve gotta compete with all those guys?’ Don’t try to compete. I’ve always been the one who just tries to be the one that’s always noticed. I want to be the one that everyone talks about afterwards. If I can go in there and get a good win, show that I’m dominant,  and dominate for three rounds. If I can dominate for three rounds, then everyone’s gonna be like, ‘Did you see that Johny/Gastelum fight? Yeah, we sort of knew who was going to win the main events, but did you see that fight? He just dominated him. I thought it was supposed to be a close match.’

MW: On your UFC 200 face paint image, there are a couple of quotes on there I’d like you to explain for me. The first one that caught my eye is, “My power is back.” Is there something in your previous fights, maybe dealing with weight cutting issues and things like that that may have affected your power?

JH: That, and mentally. Sitting here saying I don’t care about any other fight. I don’t care about anything else except for this. If you go back and look at all of my other interviews, it was always about the person at that point and the belt, nothing else. It wasn’t ‘Who would you be if you beat GSP,’ or this or that, it didn’t matter.  All that mattered was this person at this moment, and then the belt, and that’s what I’m going back to. The only person that’s mattered in this camp for the last three months is Gastelum. What can he do? He can fight forward, he can fight backward, you know, figuring out any and every which way he could fight me. And then also, how do I get back to the belt? That’s why I always have it on my mind. Go out there and perform on July 9th at UFC 200.

MW: I guess that ties into the other as well where it says, “It’s a new Johny!”

JH: It’s a new Johny! Exactly. You know, take a step back, sometimes you get caught up in the fact that everyone wants to hear “What are you thinking next? What’s in your head?” Really? Nothing’s in my head this time. Nobody’s in my head except for Gastelum and that’s the way I’ve gotta treat it. You know, If I want to get back to where I want to be, that means I have to let go of everything else except for one person, and one person only.

MW: Also at UFC 200, you have the new 8% rule coming into play, and as you mentioned, the earlier weigh-ins that you’re really excited about, do you think that both of those things will  be beneficial to your performance come fight night?

JH:  Yeah! I hit 87 yesterday. So, I’ve got to hit 184. That’s the highest I can be. Ok, I’ve got to lose three pounds by Tuesday. Whoopty-freakin’-do. You know, I can come in here and lose five. I’m not too worried about that. The weight is no longer an issue. I got Louis. Loutrition! That’s why he’s here, and that’s one thing I’ve very grateful for and I’m very happy he did that article. Yeah, me and Dolce, we had a good run, but man, having Lou  by my side has been a blessing in disguise. I learn different ways. I can still eat bad, but it still be good for you. For example, in the off-season, I can go have Whataburger. Just have the burger! Don’t eat the fries! Get you a drink, eat the burger. Would he want me to do that? No. But he knows me, he knows who I am, so he’s going to say, “Johny, if you’re craving something, go get it. Just send me a picture of it, and don’t eat the fries.” If we’re going to eat pizza, I’ll eat three pieces and leave the rest, and come back later. That way I’m not devouring a large pizza by myself, and still wanting more. Self-control. That’s been the biggest thing he’s put on me so far. This last fight camp, I got up to 202, and usually I get up to 215. The fight before I was 208. This time, I’m 202, so this weight cut has been easier. I’ve been hovering right around 90, 92 for three weeks now. It’s been nice.

MW: You have three fights left on your current deal, is there anyone in your sights after you get past Kelvin Gastelum?

JH: NO!!! Nobody else matters. If I overlook Kelvin, I might look like I did last fight. That ain’t happenin’ twice in a row. I’ve got to go out there and make sure that Kelvin Gastelum is the only one in my picture. After Saturday night, when everybody starts asking questions, then I’ll answer those.

Johny and his team are confident that July 9 will be a great outing for the former welterweight champion. While Hendricks and Gastelum are both coming off losses in their last fights, they believe this is a perfect spot to get back on the winning track and working their way back up to a title shot.

Watch the interview here.

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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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