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UFC 192 Fight Pass Prelims: Preview

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With so much hype around future fight cards, UFC 193 and 194, UFC 192 is flying under the radar as one of the most stacked cards of the year. On paper, this card has the potential to be one of the best PPV events in recent memory and it all starts on the Fight Pass prelims.

Sage Northcutt vs Francisco Trevnio

Rising welterweight contender Sage Northcutt makes his UFC debut at just 19 years old. After posting an impressive undefeated 5-0 professional record Northcutt enters the UFC only having been out of the first round 1 time. Northcutt has an impressive stand-up game and compliments that with some dangerous submission skills should the fight go to the ground. Northcutt will be looking to continue his winning ways and make his UFC debut a memorable one as he starts his the road to the 170lb belt.

Northcutt won’t have an easy time of it in his debut fight as he draws the 12-1 Francisco Trevino. Trevino is coming off of a decision loss to Johnny Case at UFC 188, the first loss of his career. Before that loss however, Trevino had shown himself to be a well rounded fighter, winning 4 fights by TKO/KO, 4 by submission and 4 by decision. His last finish came in 2012 but he has been a part of some strong decision wins since then. Northcutt may be the hot name right now, but Trevino is looking to play the spoiler role to the 19 year olds debut and he is more than capable of coming away with a win.

Derrick Lewis vs Viktor Pesta

The 2nd Fight Pass prelim is a heavyweight battle between UFC veterans. Derrick “The Black Beast” Lewis is coming off of a devastating KO loss to Shawn Jordan at UFC Fight Night 68 and is 3-2 in the UFC. All 5 of his fights have ended by KO/TKO in either the 1st or 2nd round. Lewis is a brawler who loves nothing more than to stand and trade with his opponent. He has brutal power in his hands as he showed in his TKO win over Ruan Potts at UFC 184. He’s the kind of fighter who is looking for the knockout with every punch.

Viktor Pesta may not have the same UFC experience that Lewis does, sporting a 1-1 record in the UFC, but he is arguably the more well rounded fighter. In his 10 pro wins, 4 have come by KO/TKO while 3 have come by submission. His 1 UFC win came by decision in a fairly one sided affair at UFC on Fox 14. Pesta will most likely want to take this fight to the ground where he would have the advantage against the heavy handed Lewis but he has shown in the past that he has the ability to put his opponent to sleep with a well placed strike. The heavyweight division is wide open right now so a win by either fighter could go a long way on their quest for the title.

Sergio Pettis vs Chris Cariaso

Sergio Pettis returns to the octagon after an upset TKO loss in brutal fashion to Ryan Benoit at UFC 185. The younger brother of former lightweight champion, Anthony Pettis, Sergio has amassed a 3-2 record in the UFC and is looking to “right the ship” against the #10 ranked Flyweight in the UFC. Pettis has shown flashes of his brother’s talent but has yet to be able to put all the pieces together in the UFC. He has looked better in every fight he’s been in – outside of the Benoit loss – and will be looking to show that he is a force to be reckoned with in the flyweight division.

Chris Cariaso is the #10 ranked Flyweight in the UFC with a 7-5 UFC record. He is coming off of back to back losses via the current flyweight champion, and arguably best pound for pound fighter in the world, Demetrius Johnson, and the #5 ranked flyweight Henry Cejudo. The caliber of those opponents speaks for themselves and those losses shouldn’t be held against him. Cariaso is a well-rounded fighter who tends to go the distance in his fights but pushes the pace throughout. If Cariaso can manage to finish the fight against a fighter like Pettis then it could be just the spark he needs to turn his luck around and make another run at the top of the division.

Adriano Martins vs Islam Makhachev

The final fight on the Fight Pass prelims is a showdown in the 155 lb division. Adriano Martins is 3-1 in the UFC and is coming off a split decision victory over Rustam Khabilov at UFC Fight Night 61. Martins has shown that he can win the fight on the feet, on the ground, or if it goes to the judges. He likes to push the pace and keep his opponent off balance with his mix of striking combined with great cardio that lets him keep a rhythm that not everyone can match. He’ll probably be looking to keep the fight standing against his opponent this time around.

Islam Makhachev is an undefeated submission specialist coming off an impressive win by rear naked choke against Leo Kuntz at UFC 187. With 6 of his 12 professional wins coming by way of submission, it’s no secret that Makhachev is incredibly comfortable when the fight goes to the mat. He’s had his share of 3 round fights as well and has shown that his cardio can stack up pretty well against almost anyone. I would guess that Makhachev wants to get this fight to the ground early and use his skills to wear down Martins before going for the submission victory. He won’t have an easy go of it in his 2nd UFC fight against a fighter like Martins but this fight promises to be entertaining from start to finish.

Those 4 fights are already enough to get MMA fans excited about this card, make sure to tune in to Fight Pass at 6:15 on Saturday October 3rd so you don’t miss a second of what’s shaping up to be one of the most underrated cards of the year.

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Exclusive: Mike Ekundayo, “He could come with anything, I don’t care”

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In a little less than a week, Rise of Champions crowns its inaugural bantamweight champion. The crowning of the first 135 lb. champion marks the young promotions first champion. It makes sense why the promotion owned and operated by UK MMA star, Brad Pickett, and Team Titan head coach, Mickey Papas plan to crown the promotions first champion in the bantamweight division. Pickett competed in the division throughout his tenure with the WEC, and ultimately the entity which absorbed the light weight promotion, the UFC. Even more-so, two young and rising prospects of the division. One undefeated in his professional and amateur career, the other riding a seven consecutive victories, five by submission. The two meet February 17th, Mike Ekundayo puts his career unbeaten streak up against Jonas Magard’s at ROC 5, for the aforementioned, inaugural bantamweight championship.

Speaking to the undefeated Ekundayo before his fight, he believes this opportunity to be inevitable. Born in Hackney, (a borough of London) early in life, Ekundayo was no stranger to cramming his belongings into large cardboard boxes. At the age of 7, he moved from Hackney to Herne Hill, a district located in South London. Two years later he found himself in similar situation, moving from his vaguely new home in Herne Hill to Brixton. A road trip in the car to his new home, took approximately 5 minutes.

It is admittedly, not an easy life. In a harrowing article describing the horrors of gang life in London by the metro.uk, former gang member turned community activist, made the claim, “When you are from Brixton, from Peckham, west London, anywhere in London, you are seeing hardship where a lot of communities can’t reach their full potential”.

In his own words, Ekundayo describes his home as, “not the best start to have in your life. It’s not the best upbringing”. But that couldn’t matter any less for him. Not only does the London resident consistently work to grow his potential, he gets to see it every day. His coaches Brad Pickett and Mickey Papas hold the knowledge as well as first-hand experience, increasing his limits with every session. “We’re all close”, speaking of his coaches and team. “My head coach is Mickey Papas, he’s very knowable in the game. He’s been around for a very long time. He teaches me a lot, I can learn a lot of stuff from Mickey Papas. Sometimes I just think, how does he know all of this? Where did he get this information from?”

He continued, “While I was coming up through amateur, Brad (Pickett) was still an active fighter, but nowadays he’s taken a coaching approach. So he’s coaching us prospects getting us to where he got to and further… He’s been through it all, gotten to the top, and stayed at the top”.

Further discussing his coach, “For UK MMA, you could definitely call Brad a legend. He’s done a lot in his career, and someone who I rate highly as an MMA fighter is Demetrious Johnson, and of course Brad has got a win over (him). I feel like just being surrounded by someone like Brad, you’re working towards the right things. When he passes information onto you, you respect it that bit more because of far he got in his career. He’s definitely given me the right guidance, I trust his guidance”.

When it comes to the upcoming title fight, confidence poured out from where praise and respect had once been. “I just think it’s my time, to be honest. I really do believe it’s my time for all of this. The work I put in, certain things become inevitable”, he said. “I actually called this after I won my third fight, I called for belts and big shows. I spoke it to existence”. He continued, “It’s my time to finally to get a strap of some sort. All the straps is what we’re going for, all of them. We’re going for every one”.

“Rise of Champions is my show… That’s how I feel when I’m performing on ROC, it’s just my show, it’s my time to shine. Everyone knows who there here to see, there not really there to see the other guys. It’s my time, it’s my show and I’m going to put on a show on February 17th and I’m going to win that belt”.

The infectious nature of his positive attitude was palpable. Although we only spoke through small rectangular devices, I could feel his energy in the room. His attitude shined brightest when talking about what it would mean to be the first ever ROC Bantamweight champion. Ekundayo claimed, “It just means a lot to have my first belt in anything to be honest… Within myself, I call myself a champion, every day. But now, other people would have to call me a champion because I’ve got a belt… And one thing I really want to do is, which sounds a bit weird, I just want to take the belt home to my area, to Brixton.”

“I just want to take it to my area, and just show the people of that area what hard work can achieve… I want to just take it to my people and show them that not for nothing, we are from Brixton, it’s not the best start to have in your life. It’s not the best upbringing but you can rise above it and you can achieve your goals and that’s what the belt will mean”.

When the conversation shifted to the topic of his opponent, Ekundayo had less encouraging words rolling off his tongue. Jonas Magard, the second half of the ROC 5 main event, holds a record of 7-4. Currently he owns a seven fight win streak after starting his career 1-3. Ekundayo thought, “He did fight quite decent guys in his three loses… but in the seven fight win streak, none of his opponents have been of caliber”.

He elaborated further, “What’s in my thoughts is more me, then it is of him. So, he could come with anything, I don’t care. I’m just focused on how I’m going to be picture perfect. How I’m going to paint a masterpiece, how I’m going to make it a beautifully perfect performance. That’s what my primary focus is on, so what he does to me is irrelevant, I’m just going to focus on how I’m going to be perfect on the night of February 17th”.

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UFC 222 Re-Worked with Cris Cyborg vs. Yana Kunitskaya, and Frankie Edgar vs. Brian Ortega

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UFC 222 has been saved, and it didn’t take a superhero to lift the burning boulder which was Max Holloway’s injury and withdrawal. All it took was a female named Cyborg and a man with a demeanor so smooth, he could be mistaken for an alter-ego. Cris Cyborg now serves as the UFC 222 main event when she defends her featherweight belt against Yana Kunitskaya. Frankie Edgar bumped down to the co-main event to face Brian Ortega in what is likely a title eliminator. The news of the UFC 222 revival originally stemmed from a report by MMAFighting.com and confirmed later in the evening by the UFC.

Over the course of the week, reports surrounded the Las Vegas card and whether it would survive. Multiple options were reportedly being mulled over; cancelling the card outright, changing the pay-per-view (PPV) to a ‘Fight Night’ with an Edgar vs. Ortega main event, Dillashaw vs. Garbrandt 2 main event, among others. Ultimately, the promotion landed on Cyborg vs. Kunitskaya as the new main event, while also booking Brian Ortega.

This adjustment of the card places their women’s Featherweight champion in the second PPV main event in three months. Cris Cyborg recently put her undisputed Featherweight title on the line against Holly Holm at the year ending card, UFC 219. She successfully defended her belt by unanimous decision, in what was an amazing technical display from the Brazilian. In her octagon career, Cyborg is undefeated in her four appearances with three KO/TKO stoppages.

The second half of the new main event, Yana Kunitskaya, makes her UFC debut against the scariest women on the roster. If the 145 lb. champion was not enough of a challenge, Kunitskaya also makes her first appearance in the division since defeating Cindy Dandois in December of 2010. Of Russia descent, her most recent performances came inside the Invicta FC cage. At the female-only promotion, she posted a record of 1-1, with 1 No Contest. Her loss and no contest, both came at the hands of former UFC Featherweight title challenger, Tonya Evinger.

Turning to the co-main event, both fighters have been relatively inactive but, for good reason. Brian Ortega amazingly forced perennial men’s Featherweight contender, Cub Swanson, to tap in the second round of their ‘Fight Night: Fresno’ contest. Ortega fought twice in 2017, but more-so stayed inactive following his stoppage victory over Swanson. The Californian contender announced his desire to wait in line for the next title shot following the recent victory.

For Frankie Edgar, his last fight took place at UFC 211 when he absolutely demolished young and rising star, Yair Rodriguez. A card which took place last May. While Ortega holds an undefeated record, Edgar is undefeated in his previous 9 fights, excluding people named Jose Aldo.

UFC 222 takes place at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada on March 3rd.

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UFC Middleweight Champion, Robert Whittaker Announces Birth of Third Child

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Times seem dull and dreary for the UFC’s Middleweight Champion, Robert Whittaker. The New Zealand born fighter withdrew from the promotions event debut in the eastern region of his residence, Australia. UFC 221, which takes place this Saturday, booked Whittaker to defend his title for the first time against former division champion, Luke Rockhold. His withdrawal was due to mistreatment of a serious staph infection inside of the Australians stomach.

It couldn’t get much worse, having to disappoint fans, and missing the first UFC event in eastern Australia. As it turns out, it could not get worse for Whittaker. Life only got better, as he had the pleasure of announcing the birth of his third child.

His new child is the champions third and first girl. Information regarding his child is limited as this moment is a tender and special time for the Whittaker family.

UFC 221 takes place in Perth, Australia at Perth Arena on February 11th. The cards main event features Whittakers short notice replacement, Yoel Romero taking on Luke Rockhold. Much to the satiety of fans, an interim belt is not in the equation in this instance.

Thank God. Excuse me, thank Dana White.

UFC 221 also features the ‘Super Samoan’ Mark Hunt vs. Curtis Blaydes, Tai Tuivasa faces Cyril Asker, Alexander Volkanovski vs. Jeremy Kennedy and more.

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