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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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Ladies Fight Night 7: “Double Trouble” Preview

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Polish women’s federation Ladies Fight Night is going to celebrate their second birthday this year on the 15th to 17th of December. Two days, two events with a lot of great bouts.

LFN in Poland is being titled the new Invicta FC. The Polish owners created this federation to give European women a chance to fight on a big platform.

Hosting their first ever event in December 2015, LFN will hold two great cards next week, that will feature women who have fought under many prestigious promotions, such as the UFC, Invicta, Bellator, Glory, and Kunlun.

Two days of fantastic fights, intensified by a double dose of sports impressions. The name is not accidental, LFN 7 / LFN 8 combines two events, during which the best Polish fighters will be shown, as well as the best fighters from Europe (including France, Sweden, Italy, the Czech Republic and Romania)

The stakes are high, and we are electrified by the clashes between warriors such as Żaneta Cieśla vs Silvia La Notte and Patricia Axling vs. Cindy Silvestri. Mainly due to their vastness of their experience in the cage.

In the fight of the evening, the talented Romanian Cristina Stanciu will face Magdaléna Šormovádo. Stanciu fought twice in the UFC, but she was unfortunately cut from the promotion after suffering consecutive losses to Cortney Casey and Maryna Moroz.

Judyta Rymarzak vs Marta Waliczek is an amazing fight between two experienced kickboxers. Both making their pro MMA debuts on the night, we will witness a one-of-a-kind duel between two kickboxing perfectionists, as they look to transcend their skills into the MMA world.

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The Wake-Up Report-UFC 218

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The Wake-Up Report is a way for you to get all the important info about the fights the night before. After letting it all sink in and letting all the carnage seep deep into your soul, we get to go back and take a second look at all the madness of the night. Last night the UFC pulled off one of the best PPV cards a true fight fan could imagine. Waking up after a night of fights like we had last night is like waking up from a dream that was also a bit scary. There was two ‘Fight of the Night’ in UFC president Dana White’s eyes but in the eyes of the millions of fans watching all over the world, there could have been so many more.

UFC 218 kicked off at 6:15 ET with the UFC Fight Pass Prelims, by 6:20 we already had the first knockout of the night. Justin Willis welcomed ‘Dana White Tuesday Night Contender Series’ fighter, Allen Crowder to the UFC with a massive left hand to the chin.

Official Result: Willis def. Crowder by KO in round 1

The prelims continued with a submission win for Dominick Reyes over Jeremy Kimball.

Official Result: Reyes def. Kimball by Submission in round 1

Proceeding that fight was a strange one between Abdul Razak Alhassan and Sabah Homasi. An early stoppage by veteran UFC ref Herb Dean led to the KO win by Homasi. Immediately, the stoppage was contested by Alhassan. Dana White agreed that the fight was ended too soon and announced in the post-fight media scrum that this fight will be run back on the UFC 219 card on December 30th.

Official Result: Homasi def. Alhassan by KO in round 1

The early prelims ended with a great win by Amanda Bobby Cooper over Angela Magana.

Official Result: Cooper def. Magana by TKO in round 2

We followed that strawweight fight up with another strawweight battle when Felice Herrig squeaked out the split decision victory over Courtney Casey.

Official Result: Herrig def. Casey by Split Decision 

David Teymur was on the winning side of a unanimous decision over his opponent Drakkar Klose. Teymur has now won four in a row since coming to the UFC and should be setting himself up for a ranked opponent in his next time out.

Official Result: Teymur def. Klose by Unanimous Decision

Right smack in the middle of this massive fight card was one fight that you can tell your grandkids about one day. Alex “Cowboy” Oliveira vs. Yancy Medeiros is the reason we all love MMA. That fight had everything you could want in a fight. Both men gave their all and pushed themselves to the brink in over to get the win. On this cold December night in Detriot, MI, Yancy Medeiros was the better man and he was able to stop Oliveira in the third round by TKO. Earning themselves a well deserved ‘Fight of the Night’ bonus, these two fighters have put the rest of the welterweight division on notice.

Official Result: Medeiros def. Oliveira by TKO in round 3

The next fight featured another Oliveira, Charles Oliveira. He took on ‘The Irish Dragon’ Paul Felder. Felder put on a dominant performance and took out Oliveira in the second round with a big TKO victory.

Official Result: Felder def. Oliveira by TKO in round 2

As if the FS1 free prelims didn’t already satisfy your fight needs for the night we happily moved right along to the PPV portion of the evening. The main card kicked off in the strawweight division with a pair of title contenders looking to be the first title defense for the newly crowned champ Rose Namajumas.  Both women started off strong, but it was Tecia Torres who shortly emerged as the stronger physical fighter. She was able to get Michelle Waterson up against the cage several times and eventually worked out the unanimous decision victory and perhaps a third date with Namajunas.

Official Result: Torres def. Waterson by Unanimous Decision

Following the strawweights were the coaches of this season of The Ultimate Fighter, Eddie Alvarez, and Justin Gaethje. This fight was one of the focal points for fans in the weeks leading up to the fight. These two men had a great deal of respect for one another and showed that inside the octagon as well. A back and forth of heavy hands and vicious leg kicks ended in the TKO victory for Alvarez and he handed Gaethje the first loss of his career. This fight also earned a ‘Fight of the Night’ bonus from the bossman, Dana White.

Official Result: Alvarez def. Gaethje by TKO in round 3

Next came a bout in the flyweight division. Perhaps not as exciting as the rest of the card, but, former gold medal wrestler Henry Cejudo did what he had to do to get the nod over young talent Sergio Pettis.

Official Result: Cejudo def. Pettis by Unanimous Decision

From some of the smallest guys on the roster to the monsters of the heavyweight division, in walked rising star Francis Ngannou and Alistair Overeem. We all knew coming into this fight that we would see carnage, but nothing prepared us of the ginormous KO that was about to ensue. Francis Ngannou was able to squash Overeems plan of wrapping him up in the clinch and immediately put his massive left fist right to Overeem’s chin. The world record holder for punching power used all of his might and unleashed on his opponent. With this win, Ngannou has solidified his title shot against champion Stipe Miocic. Dana White has plans for that bout in the first quarter of 2018.

Official Result: Ngannou def. Overeem by KO in round 1

As if things couldn’t get better than that, we still had a main event featuring one of the greatest fighters to ever grace the UFC octagon. Jose Aldo was looking to regain his title, and for a good portion of the first round it looked like that would be the case. Max Holloway saw it another way. Holloway absorbed all the shots from Aldo and imposed his strength on the exhausted Aldo. The fight, that went on in very similar fashion from the first meeting between these two fighters, ended in the third round when the ref stepped in and called the fight.

Official Result: Holloway def. Aldo by TKO in round 3

Max Holloway has secured a place in the history books as one of the greatest to fight in the UFC at 145 pounds. It would seem that Frankie Edgar will get the next shot at the champ. As for Aldo, only time will tell where the former champ goes from here. Perhaps there will be a change of weight classes as he looks for another shot at the man who robbed him of his title initially, Conor McGregor.

The fight fans of Detroit, MI received an early holiday present in the form of violence and mayhem. UFC 218 was a successful fight card and one for the record books. Like true fans of fighting we take a brief moment to reflect before quickly turning our attention to next week where we begin the madness all over again. The nest card will take place in Fresco, CA on December 8th. That card will be headlined by Cub Swanson vs. Brian Ortega.

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2017 IMMAF World Championships set to be streamed live on IOS and Android app

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This years IMMAF World Championships in Bahrain is only 4 days away now and competitors from around the world are preparing themselves for what will be an extraordinary event and opportunity to make themselves known. The prestigious event is being hosted by the BMMAF under the patronage of His Highness Shaikh Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa.

For fans around the world good news came today as they will be able to watch their favourite amateur athlete take to the cage in the Khalifa Sports City Arena via an app. The BahrainTV app will be streaming all of the fights live for fans to watch at home or even on the go on their phone. You can also keep up to date via MyNextMatch.com for all relevant info for the event.

The links for the BahrainTV app are as follows:

Android: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=bh.iaa.bahraintv&hl=en

IOS: https://itunes.apple.com/ie/app/bahrain-tv/id992105518?mt=8

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