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UFC 198 Preview

Vinny Craig

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The last time Brazil got a PPV event, Ronda Rousey was the spotlight as she knocked out Bethe Correia for her sixth consecutive title defense. Brazil gets an absolute killer of a card as they go to Curitiba for the first time. MMA legends such as Anderson Silva, Cris ‘Cyborg’ Santos, and Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua are from Curitiba and will be able to fight in their hometown for the first time in the UFC. The event will be headlined by a Heavyweight title fight between Brazil native Fabricio Werdum as he takes on Stipe Miocic for the title.

Main Card- PPV (10 PM EDT, 7 PM PDT, 3 AM GMT)

  • Heavyweight: (c)Fabricio Werdum vs. Stipe Miocic- for the UFC Heavyweight Championship
  • Middleweight: Ronaldo Souza vs. Vitor Belfort
  • Middleweight: Anderson Silva vs. Uriah Hall  (read: Anderson Silva out of UFC 198)
  • Catchweight (140 lbs): Cris Santos vs. Leslie Smith
  • Light Heavyweight: Mauricio Rua vs. Corey Anderson

Preliminary Card- Fox Sports 1 (8 PM EDT, 5 PM PDT, 1 AM GMT)

  • Welterweight: Demian Maia vs. Matt Brown
  • Welterweight: Warlley Alves vs. Bryan Barberena
  • Middleweight: Thiago Santos vs. Nate Marquardt
  • Bantamweight: John Lineker vs. Rob Font

Early Preliminary Card- UFC Fight Pass (6 PM EDT, 3 PM PDT, 11 PM GMT)

  • Light Heavyweight: Patrick Cummins vs. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira
  • Lightweight: Francisco Trinaldo vs. Yancy Medeiros
  • Welterweight: Sergio Moraes vs. Luan Chagas
  • Featherweight: Renato Moicano vs. Zubaira Turkhgov

Mauricio Rua vs. Corey Anderson

It’s only fitting that Curitiba’s own Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua (23-10 MMA; 7-8 UFC) takes on Corey Anderson (8-1; 5-1) to start off the main card in a Light Heavyweight bout

Shogun is the former UFC Light Heavyweight champion and PRIDE Middleweight Grand Prix winner. After spending the beginning of his career with PRIDE, he joined the UFC in 2007 at UFC 76. He lost to another future champion in Forrest Griffin. He went on to win his next two over Mark Coleman and Chuck Liddell to earn a title shot against Lyoto Machida. The two would fight a close fight with Machida retaining his title. It called for an immediate rematch where Rua won the fight in the first round by knockout. He would lose the title in his next fight to consensus Pound-for-Pound #1 fighter Jon Jones at UFC 128. Since losing the title, he has gone 4-6 in the UFC. He last fought at UFC 190 in a rematch of a great fight against Antonio Rogerio Nogueira. He won the fight by decision in the co-main event to Ronda Rousey. Rua is a very well rounded fighter with 3.60 Significant Strikes Landed per Minute (SLpM), 51% Striking Accuracy, 2.26 Takedowns per 15 min. and 0.9 Submission Attempts per 15 min.

Anderson won The Ultimate Fighter 19 Light Heavyweight winner. He beat Matt Van Buren by TKO in the finale and has gone 4-1 since that point with the last three coming in a row. He has beaten Jan Blachowicz, Fabio Maldonado, and Tom Lawlor in his last three. Anderson has landed a combined 199 Significant Strikes and 11 Takedowns in his current win streak.

Cris ‘Cyborg’ Santos vs. Leslie Smith

It’s been long awaited as Cris ‘Cyborg’ Santos (15-1, 1 NC; 0-0) makes her UFC debut against Leslie Smith (8-6-1; 2-2). The fight will happen at a catchweight of 140 lbs.

Cyborg is the current Invicta Featherweight Champion. She won the inaugural title against Women’s MMA legend Marloes Coenen at Invicta 6, their second fight. She has defended it three times over Charmaine Tweet, Faith Van Duin, and Daria Ibragimova. She fought for Strikeforce when she beat Gina Carano to win the inaugural Featherweight title. She picked up wins over Marloes Coenen and Jay Finney to defend her belt. In her final Strikeforce bout, she fought and beat Hiroko Yamanaka just 16 seconds into the fight. She tested positive for a banned substance and the decision was overturned. She has not lost since her first professional fight in 2005. While in Strikeforce, her stats were off the charts with 7.29 SLpM and only 1.55 SApM.

Smith will be in her fifth UFC fight with none being bigger than this one. She has won two of her last three fights with wins over Jessamyn Duke and Rin Nakai. She last fought at Fight Night Adelaide where she dominated Nakai for three rounds to a decision. She was one of many to come over from Invicta when the UFC created their women’s divisions. She has fought Raquel Pennington, Sarah Kaufman, and Barb Honchak. She has been in some battles with 5.27 SLpM and 51% Striking Defense.

 

Ronaldo Souza vs. Vitor Belfort

The co-main event is an all Brazil Middleweight bout between Ronaldo Souza (22-4, 1 NC; 5-1) and Vitor Belfort (25-11; 14-7).

Souza is the former Strikeforce Middleweight champion. He beat Tim Kennedy for the title and defended it against current UFC Welterweight champion Robbie Lawler. He lost the title to current UFC Middleweight champion Luke Rockhold. ‘Jacare’ came over in the merger and made his debut at UFC on FX 8, headlined by his opponent Vitor Belfort. That started a five-fight win streak with finishes over Chris Camozzi (Armbar), Yushin Okami (TKO), Gegard Mousasi (Guillotine), and Camozzi again (Armbar). He last fought at UFC 194 where he lost a close decision to top contender Yoel Romero. The high-level grappler has shown how good his ground game really is with 16 of his 22 career wins coming by submission. He has developed a wrestling game with 3.49 Takedowns per 15 min. and 2.0 Submission Attempts per 15 min.

Belfort is the former Light Heavyweight champion in the earlier days. He started his illustrious career at UFC 12 where he won the Heavyweight tournament. He went on to fight Randy Couture in a title eliminator. The two would meet again for the Light Heavyweight belt at UFC 46 when Belfort won by TKO. A rematch would happen immediately with Couture the winner in the rubber match. He would get another shot at gold in the Middleweight division against Anderson Silva. He would fall short again and lose out on a title again. After a three-fight win streak over Michael Bisping, Luke Rockhold, and Dan Henderson, another title shot was granted at Middleweight. After losing the title bout, he won his last fight in a rubber match with Dan Henderson with another knockout.

 

(c)Fabricio Werdum vs. Stipe Miocic

The main event is for the Heavyweight championship of the world as champion Fabricio Werdum (20-5-1; 8-2) will look to defend his belt for the first time against challenger Stipe Miocic (14-2; 9-2). Werdum was originally expected to fight in a rematch against Cain Velasquez at UFC 196 in February. Velasquez had to pull out of the bout and was replaced by Miocic. Less than 24 hours later, Werdum pulled due to injury as well. The card was changed to a Fight Night on Fox Sports 1 and the main event changed to UFC 198.

Werdum is the current Heavyweight champion. He won the belt at UFC 188 when he beat Velasquez with a Guillotine in the third round. He has made a remarkable turnaround from a pure grappler to an all-around mixed martial artist. Since re-joining the UFC after a stint in Strikeforce, he has won all six fights with wins over Roy Nelson, Mike Russow, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Travis Browne, Mark Hunt (interim title bout), and then Velasquez. He has had a great career with wins over Gabriel Gonzaga, Alistair Overeem, Antonio Silva, and Fedor Emelianenko. The former Jiu-Jitsu world champion has sharpened his striking, landing 238 Significant Strikes in his last there fights. For a career, he has 3.29 SLpM, 50% Striking Accuracy, and 1.4 Submission Attempts per 15 min.

Miocic earned his shot by winning five of his last six fights with three finishes. The Cleveland native made his UFC debut at UFC 136 where he beat Joey Beltran by decision. His current run has come with wins over Roy Nelson, Gabriel Gonzaga, Fabio Maldonado, Mark Hunt, and Andrei Arlovski. His last fight was an early TKO win over Arlovski in a title eliminator bout. Miocic holds the record for most Total Strikes in a UFC fight with 361 against Mark Hunt in the main event slot. Miocic is top ten in many categories with the second best Striking Defense in the active division at 62.6%.

*All records from Sherdog.com

**All stats from FightMetric.com


For up to date MMA news, live event coverage, and more, follow @mmalatestnws on Twitter

 

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Forget Cormier vs. Jones – Cyborg vs. Megan Anderson Should Headline UFC 214

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Cris Cyborg UFC

Daniel Cormier vs. Jon Jones II is all but confirmed for UFC 214 in Anaheim, California on July 29. Despite the magnitude of the light-heavyweight championship rematch, the UFC would do well to look elsewhere for their UFC 214 main event — namely in the direction of Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino and Megan Anderson.

The UFC’s schedule for the first half of 2017 is largely booked as of now. Fight announcements for July are coming in daily but there is still no clue as to who might headline UFC 213, the promotion’s International Fight Week pay-per-view offering. Jon Jones is expected to make his long-awaited return in July however not for 213.

UFC President Dana White has stated that Jones will not be eligible to compete during International Fight Week due to his suspension, making UFC 214 in late July the most likely option. White also insisted that Jones cannot be trusted to headline an event due to his past transgressions.

If White holds true to his word it’ll be a bizarre and unfortunate set of circumstances to promote the most important rematch in the history of the UFC. Many titleholders are booked for the moment, so the Cormier vs. Jones rerun would seem the most logical choice. However, as has been the norm in the past two years of UFC promotion an interim title can be slapped on to any semi-interesting match.

Countless arguments are made about how interim titles are senseless and harmful to the actual titleholder but those arguments although valid, are not much more than gripes.

The absence of sanctioning bodies in mixed martial arts are a contentious point of debate in the MMA community and combat sports in general but sanctioning bodies in regard to titles are almost always a nuisance in the world of boxing.

Any educated fan knows who the real champion is. Even in the rare instance where the interim titleholder is held in higher regard or more popular than the actual champion as was the case with Conor McGregor and Jose Aldo, nothing was done to diminish the value of the featherweight belt.

The notion that a title fight must headline a card may be antiquated but it seems that is the manner that the UFC will continue to handle business for the foreseeable future. Five rounds are seldom a negative in high-level MMA and an interim belt would be most justified if a match is made between former Invicta featherweight champion Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino and current champion Megan Anderson.

If Cormier vs. Jones will play second fiddle to another fight, an interim featherweight title fight between “Cyborg” and Anderson would be a sensible headliner for UFC 214. Given the lack of options and the current featherweight champion’s fighting future in doubt, the fight would merit its headlining spot.

Jones in a co-headliner may seem strange business wise. It is rare for Dana White to put morale ahead of dollar signs but if it is the case it may be for the better. An alpha male like Jones doesn’t want to be second to anyone. The very fact that the marquee will say Cormier vs. Jones instead of Jones vs. Cormier most likely rankles with the superstar.

Yet the promotion of Jones is more intriguing now than it ever has been. Jones reportedly pulled in right under 500,000 buys for UFC 197. Not too shabby for a 15-month layoff with a lukewarm undercard.

Moreover, a fight with the magnitude of Cormier Vs. Jones will be heavily promoted under any circumstance. ESPN, TMZ, Deadspin, will all be pulled towards covering the event, so the co-main event placing may not be that big of a deal. The benefits that the Cormier/Jones rematch can provide for the women’s featherweight division are substantial.

..that the fight itself was between a 135 pounder who had lost her last two and a fringe top 10 bantamweight didn’t make matters any better.

UFC 208 was the official introduction of the featherweight division in the Ultimate Fighting Championship and it wasn’t loved by many spectators. Germaine de Randamie outpointed Holly Holm in a 25-minute striking affair.

Technically, the fight was brilliant but provided not a single awe-inspiring moment. The fact that there was controversy regarding some illegal blows, a contested decision, and that the fight itself was between a 135 pounder who had lost her last two and a fringe top 10 bantamweight didn’t make matters any better.

The great thing about a Cyborg/Anderson fight is that both women really want the fight and also happen to be great kickboxers that have genuine horsepower. “Cyborg” trounced Leslie Smith in less than a round and utterly pummeled Lina Lansberg in just over five minutes. Anderson is young and still relatively raw but has some exceptional power at featherweight.

The desire to improve is also not lost on the talented Aussie. Her Invicta FC debut was an embarrassingly one-sided loss to notorious overachieving veteran Cindy Dandois.

Grappling is an aspect of MMA that Anderson hasn’t fully grasped as of yet but is miles ahead of where she was in 2015. Anderson’s 2016 was outstanding with three knockouts in a row and she showed her artistic side as she used Charmaine Tweet’s blood to splatter the canvas red like a deranged college activist student.

There was a USADA flagging for “Cyborg” after her last win that was retroactively cleared. Unfortunate and badly timed, it ended up rekindling an old hatred that some in the MMA community have had for the Brazilian since her first positive test in 2011.

“Cyborg” is a respectful competitor and her fighting style is barbaric but her past with PEDs rubs some fans the wrong way, making her a lightning rod for controversy. More often than not, controversy sells.

In the skills and experience department “Cyborg” will hold a distinct advantage, however, Anderson is not lacking in confidence and may be the first fighter that can match “Cyborg’s” power. Anderson also happens to be a fan favourite in Invicta and isn’t shy about trash talking when the opportunity calls for it.

Justino vs. Anderson would not only be a well-matched and entertaining scrap, it would possess something many women’s MMA fights are too commonly missing, intrigue.

Ronda Rousey is unlikely to come back and that leaves the UFC looking for ways to create a new female star. This bout would seem like the most probable one to do that.

Rousey had a great home backing in Southern California from early on in her career and it might be time for “Cyborg” to take some of those fans as she has been a SoCal native for years. Anaheim is only a few miles from “Cyborg’s” hometown of Huntington Beach and it shares an ocean with The Land Down Under.

If a sacrifice is made by the UFC to prove a point, then let it be one that carries some positive possibilities for other athletes who are hungry and deserving of the spotlight. Step aside Jones, and let the ladies handle this one.

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Reports: Vitor Belfort to step in against Anderson Silva at UFC 212

Matthew Wells

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UFC 212 may have a new co-main event featuring two legends from Brazil.

Ag.Fight has reported Vitor Belfort has offered to fill in for Kelvin Gastelum to face Anderson Silva at UFC 212 in Rio on June 3.

Gastelum was originally scheduled to face Silva, but due to a potential USADA anti-doping violation which saw Gastelum flagged for marijuana metabolites stemming from an in-competition sample collected on March 11, 2017, a provisional suspension was levied and he was removed from the card.

Silva, who celebrates his 42nd birthday on April 14, will remain on the UFC 212 card which is headlined by a featherweight title fight between Max Holloway and Jose Aldo. Silva found his way back into the win column at UFC 208 where he won a unanimous decision over Derek Brunson, notching the 34th professional victory for the former UFC Middleweight Champion. The win over Brunson is the first official victory on Silva’s record since UFC 153 over Stephan Bonnar since the win over Nick Diaz at UFC 183 has since been overturned to a No Contest.

Due to Gastelum’s USADA issues, we may have a rematch of a title bout that took place at UFC 126 that saw Silva defend his middleweight strap against Belfort in devastating fashion.

Belfort, who turned 40 on April 1, has one more fight remaining on his UFC contract and expressed his desires to fulfill his contract after suffering a loss in his last outing to the aforementioned Gastelum at UFC Fight Night 106 in March. The loss was the third straight TKO loss for the former champion, whose last win came over Dan Henderson at UFC Fight Night 77 in November 2015. Belfort always wants the biggest fight available, and name-wise, they don’t come much bigger than Anderson Silva.

While both men have had their bumps in the road in the recent final chapters of their careers, fighting on their home soil in Brazil is something both men always look forward to.

UFC 212 takes place at the HSBC Arena in Rio de Janerio, Brazil on June 3, 2017.

Confirmed bouts include:

  • Jose Aldo vs. Max Holloway
  • Claudia Gadelha vs. Karolina Kowalkiewicz
  • Antonio Carlos Junior vs. Eric Spicely
  • Johnny Eduardo vs. Matthew Lopez
  • Marco Antonio Beltran vs. Delveson Alcantra
  • Yancy Medeiros vs. Erick Silva
  • Paulo Henrique Costa vs. Oluwale Bamgbose
  • Leonardo Santos vs. Olivier Aubin-Mercier
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Rafael Carvalho – I Hope Manhoef Comes to Fight This Time

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Bellator 176 takes place this Saturday on April 8th from Torino, Italy and will mark the promotion’s second trip to Italy after Bellator 152 which took place almost one year ago. The main event for the event will be a middleweight title rematch between champion Rafael Carvalho and challenger Melvin Manhoef.

The two first met at Bellator 155 in May of last year. On that occasion, Carvalho left with a decision victory that some felt should have gone the way of his Dutch opponent. Carvalho does not believe that the judges will be required this time, however. “I will defend my title with a knockout,” Carvalho told MMA Latest News. “I hope he (Manhoef) comes to fight this time like the Manhoef we know.”

The fight received some criticism at the time from fans and even Bellator commentator Jimmy Smith. However, Carvalho believes the blame for that lies squarely at the feet of Manhoef, whose tactics on the night surprised him. “I trained for, and came with, a tactic to knock him out,” Carvalho explained. “However, he did not come to fight and was not as aggressive as he usually is. He was afraid I would take him to the ground. I do not understand why he ran away from the fight. I was always moving forward but he did not want to come and strike, just to use low kicks. You do not win a fight with only low kicks.”

The rematch takes place in Europe, which is a first for Carvalho, but will also be in front of a crowd that loves striking, as the card takes place in conjunction with a Bellator kickboxing event. That is something which excites the Brazilian. “It will be really good to fight in Europe,” Carvalho enthused. “Europe is the land of the great K-1 strikers – the fans love strikers. Manhoef is a feared striker and I hope he does not sh*t himself scared and comes for a murderous striking fight.”

The fact that the event is happening alongside a Bellator kickboxing event has another level of intrigue to it, as Carvalho also revealed that he is planning on competing on a Bellator kickboxing card in the near future and hopes to fight in both Bellator disciplines. “I think about it a lot,” he said. “My manager has already informed Bellator that I would like to fight in Bellator Kickboxing also.”

The expansion of Bellator in recent times has been there for all to see, from signing big name free agents such as Rory MacDonald and Ryan Bader, to hosting more shows in different countries such as Italy and Ireland. However, one country that the promotion has not yet visited is Brazil, which is something that Carvalho believes should happen in the near future – and one would have to believe that Carvalho would have a strong case to headline  such an event. “It would be a great show,” he began. “Bellator cannot stay out of Brazil. Brazilians love MMA – it is where it all started. A show in Curitiba or Rio de Janeiro would be a great success. We have many top Brazilian fighters in Bellator. A card in Brazil cannot wait any longer.”

Bellator 176 takes place on April 8th from Pala Alpitour in Torino, Italy. Tune in to see Rafael Carvalho and Melvin Manhoef settle the score once and for all to see who will leave Europe with the Bellator middleweight title.

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