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RIZIN FF Signs Daron Cruickshank and Huggy Bear, Announces Five More Fights

Jim Edwards



RIZIN FF, the combat sports promotion led by former PRIDE FC head Nobuyuki Sakakibara, announced during a press conference today, that it has inked five new, star-studded Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) bouts for its much-anticipated mega-event in Nagoya, Japan on Sunday, April 17, including a lightweight (155 pounds) contest between newly signed striking sensation Daron Cruickshank (16-8, 1 NC) and submission expert Shinji “Torao Supernova” Sasaki (16-8-3), as well as a heavyweight matchup between fellow knockout artists Chris “Huggy Bear” Barnett (14-2) and Kirill Sidelnikov (8-4)

In women’s open weight action, decorated Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu world champion and women’s MMA heavyweight prospect Gabi Garcia (1-0) will collide with two-time Pankration champion Anna Malyukova (1-0).

Recent RIZIN FF Grand Prix tournament semifinalist Teodoras Aukstuolis (8-3) will square off with former K-1 champion Jaideep “Heart” Singh (2-1 MMA; 40-10, 13 KO’s kickboxing) in a 216- pound catchweight fight.

Sambo world champion Vadim Nemkov (5-1) will take on undefeated, aggressive-minded striker and top Nordic prospect “King” Karl Albrektsson (4-0) in a light heavyweight (205 pounds) tilt.

Daron Cruickshank vs. Shinji Sasaki

Cruickshank of Wayne, Mich. will set foot in the RIZIN FF ring for the first time, following a 4-year, 13-fight stint with the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) that included wins over rival stars Yves Edwards, Erik Koch and Anthony Njokuani.

A two-time NCAA Division III wrestling national qualifier for Olivet College and a second degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do, the 5-foot-8, 30-year-old Cruickshank has gained admiration from fans worldwide with his set of explosive striking skills.

Sasaki of Hiroshima, Japan is a former Shooto Pacific Rim champion in the midst of a three-fight win streak. In his last start on March 12, the 5-foot-9, 35-year-old who has earned 10 of his 16 career wins by way of submission, scored a thunderous, 40-second TKO on Won Sik Park with a storm of punches.

(Above: Chris “Huggy Bear” Barnett, clad in his signature, full-body bear suit, stands behind MMA legends Fedor Emelianenko (left) and Wanderlei Silva (right) at a press conference in Japan before Barnett’s first round TKO victory over Shinichi Suzukawa on New Year’s Eve 2014)

Chris Barnett vs. Kirill Sidelnikov

With heavy hands, incredible agility for his massive physique and an eccentric personality that spawned his “Huggy Bear” moniker, Barnett of Tampa, Fla., has been making noise in the MMA world of late.

The 5-foot-9, 29-year-old who makes his ring entrances wearing a full-body bear suit and celebrates his victories by performing breakdance moves and cartwheels in the ring, has earned 12 of his 14 career wins to date by way of (T)KO. In his last start, he scored a first round TKO (punches) on Shinichi Suzukawa, in Tokyo on December 31

Sidelnikov of Stary Oskol, Russia is a 5-foot-11, 27-year-old former protégé of all-time MMA great Fedor Emelianenko. On December 29, he made his return to the ring after a five-year hiatus, scoring a devastating, first round (2:23) TKO (punches) on Carlos Toyota at the inaugural RIZIN FF event in Saitama, Japan.

Gabi Garcia vs. Anna Malyukova

A six-time Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu world champion and ninth degree black belt, the 6-foot-2, 30-year-old Garcia of Los Angeles, Calif. via Sao Paulo, Brazil will return to the RIZIN FF ring for the second time after scoring a first round (2:36) TKO (punches) on Lei’d Tapa on December 31.

Malyukova of Penza, Penza Oblast, Russia is a former collegiate basketball star turned Russian MMA Championship and World Cup of MMA winner. After amassing a near unblemished, amateur career record of 7-1, Malyukova made her professional debut on September 26, 2015, earning a unanimous decision over Tatiana Portova.

Teodoras Aukstuolis vs. Jaideep “Heart” Singh

The 6-foot, 24-year-old Aukstuolis of Ukmerge, Lithuania is a national Judo champion who has been dubbed the “Lithuanian Werewolf” by Japanese fans who witnessed the young fighter use his aggressive style to knock out (punch) Bruno Henrique Cappelozza in the first round (3:32) of the RIZIN FF Grand Prix tournament’s quarterfinal stage of battle on December 29, 2015, before being ousted by eventual tournament champion “King Mo” Lawal in the semifinal round

All but one of Aukstuolis’ wins, thus far, have come by way of (T)KO or submission.

Singh of Punjab, India is a 6-foot-6, 28-year-old, former K-1 and RISE heavyweight kickboxing tournament champion who took his biggest risk to date when he stepped in the ring with Emelianenko in the main event of the RIZIN FF kick-off event on December 31, losing to the iconic Russian fighter by way of first round (3:02) TKO (punches).

Singh’s highest profile win to date came at the K-1 World Grand Prix 2010 Final event in Tokyo, Japan when he scored a first round (2:58) KO on Russian superstar Sergei Kharitonov with a right hook.

Vadim Nemkov vs. Karl “King” Albrektsson

Another protégé of Emelianenko and the younger brother of M-1 Global light heavyweight kingpin Viktor Nemkov, the 23-year-old Vadim of Stary Oskol is a three-time national and 2014 world combat Sambo champion.

Nemkov reached the semifinal stage of the RIZIN FF Grand Prix tournament on December 29, finishing Goran Reljic by way of first round (2:58) TKO (punches) before being ousted from the eight-man playoff by Jiri Prochazka.

The 6-foot-2, 22-year-old Abrektsson of Sweden will make his RIZIN FF promotional debut as one of the hottest emerging forces in Europe. With a fearless, straightforward style of offense, the Pancrase Gym team member has finished all four of his professional opponents inside of two rounds, via (T)KO or submission.

Priced from 100,000 yen, tickets for “Top Presents RIZIN Fighting Federation I,” which takes place at Nippon Gaishi Hall, are on sale and can be purchased online at

In the main event, former PRIDE FC middleweight champion and prolific superstar Wanderlei “The Axe Murderer” Silva (35-12-1, 1 NC) will team up with a fighter to be announced soon, in a special grappling “tag match,” and battle a duo consisting of fellow legend, Kazushi Sakuraba, (26-17-1, 2 NC) and Hideo Tokoro (33-28-2).

In a 180-pound MMA rules catchweight contest, devastating power puncher Hisaki Kato (5-2) will take on fellow finisher Yuta “Andre” Watanabe (19-6-4).

Returning to action for the first time in five years, beloved heavyweight Kazuyuki “Ol’ Ironhead” Fujita (15-10), will face recent RIZIN FF Grand Prix tournament runner-up and dangerous knockout artist Jiri “Denisa” Prochazka (16-3-1).

In flyweight (125 pounds) action, submission ace Allan “Puro Osso” Nascimento (14-3) will lock horns with red-hot champion Yuki Motoya (15-4, 1 NC).

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Exclusive: Derek Brunson: “Anderson was definitely a little lubed up”



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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Ovince Saint Preux Steps in to Face Corey Anderson at UFC 217



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



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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