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UFC Signs Charlie Ward – Welterweight From Ireland’s SBG

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This evening the UFC announced welterweight Charlie Ward has signed a contract to fight for the UFC. Ward will face Randy Brown on the UFC Fight Night 102 card held at the Times Union Center in Albany, New York on December 9th. This will be the UFC’s second event held in New York since MMA was legalized in March after a 20-year ban.

Ward trains at the Straight Blast Gym in Ireland alongside UFC featherweight champion Conor McGregor. After losing his pro debut in March of 2015 to former BAMMA middleweight champion John Phillips, Ward rattled off three straight to bring his professional record to 3-1. Ward was controlling the fight against Phillips until, in the final round of a two-round fight, the hard punching former champion caught him with a big shot that led to the eventual stoppage. Each of his four professional fights has been fought for different promotions. Although his last fight was contested at middleweight, for his UFC debut he will move back down to welterweight where he is more comfortable. Those who have seen Ward fight regard him as an extremely tough fighter both physically and mentally. In his past fights, Charlie has shown tremendous heart and he brings a fan-friendly style to the cage with a game plan to come forward and make his opponent uncomfortable. His UFC debut will also be the first time that he has fought outside of Ireland or the United Kingdom.

His opponent Randy “Rude Boy” Brown was born in Massachusetts, however, he moved with his mother to Jamaica when he was just a toddler. At the age of 15, he moved back to the United States and started boxing. 4 years later he began to transition to mixed martial arts and turned pro in 2014. In 2015, he won the Ring of Combat welterweight title, which he successfully defended twice before signing with the UFC. “Rude Boy” will have the local crowd behind him as he currently resides in Queens, New York where there is a sizable Jamaican population. Brown stands at 6’3”, which is above average for welterweights, and this will be his fourth fight in the UFC where he holds a 2-1 record. His latest fight was a win via guillotine choke over Erick Montano in September at UFC Fight Night 94 in Hidalgo, Texas.

Also on the card will be a bantamweight contest between another New Yorker, Aljamain “Funk Master” Sterling (12-1) and Brazilian Raphael Assuncao (23-5). Sterling suffered the first loss of his professional career by split decision to Bryan Caraway last May. Assuncao, who beat Caraway in October 2014, is also coming off a loss. After a 21 month layoff he came up short against former champion T.J Dillashaw, a man he had previously defeated, in April losing by unanimous decision. That was Assuncao’s first defeat in over five years.

The main event of the card will see the very dangerous and very powerful Derrick “The Black Beast” Lewis (16-4) square off against fellow heavyweight competitor, Shamil Abdurakhimov (17-3).  Lewis is riding a four fight win-streak while Abdurakhimov has won his previous two in a row. The anticipated co-main event features a man some think could be the future of the heavyweight division, 30-year-old Frenchman Francis Zavier N’Gannou (8-1). N’Gannou will be facing 20 fight veteran Anthony “Freight Train” Hamilton (15-5) who trains at Jackson-Wink MMA Academy. Hamilton is 3-3 inside the octagon, while N’Gannou is 3-0.

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UFC looks for undefeated fighters for the next season of TUF

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As the latest season of The Ultimate Fighter comes to a close in a few weeks, UFC has set tryouts for the next season of The Ultimate Fighter on December 12th but there is a catch, participates must hold an undefeated record.

Titled The Ultimate Fighter 27: Battle of the Undefeated, the next installment of TUF will be looking for male fighters with an undefeated record with a minimum of 3-0 to apply for the show. The casting call asks for featherweights and welterweights but in the early stages of tryouts, a weight class will be decided later in the process.

Fighters must be aged between 21 – 34 and will grapple and light spar in front of UFC matchmakers and must be prepared to stay in Vegas until December 16th.

It is unknown what the future of TUF will be after the TV deal with FOX ends next year but the show has been a success for the company and many fighters to emerge from The Ultimate Fighter have become champion including current interim Lightweight champion Tony Ferguson, Bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw and Strawweight champion Rose Namajunas coming from past seasons of the show.

This will be the third time in a row that a gimmick will be added to the show that has been on the decline in the ratings in recent years but yet to use only undefeated fighters. An undefeated streak can be one of the most prestigious records to keep in mixed martial arts with the wins and losses being so vital in a fighters career.

Who will keep their zero? Who will be the next Ultimate Fighter? Who will be the coaches?

These questions will be answered when the new season of TUF begins shooting in January and the show premiering later in the year.

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Tom Gallicchio on UFC Release “It’s Been a Dream of Mine to Fight in KSW”

Harry Davies

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MMA Latest spoke to TUF 22 and 25 season competitor Tom Gallicchio about being cut from the UFC, and potential promotions that he could sign for in the future.

Gallicchio (19-10) signed for the UFC after reaching the semi-finals of The Ultimate Fighter: Season 25. Losing to James Krause in his debut, “Da Tank” was informed earlier this month that the UFC had parted ways with him.


Q: Before we jump into the whole free agency stuff, talk me through how the UFC broke the news that they were going to release you?

I thought I was going to have another fight, this time at lightweight. I got a letter dated July 7th, saying they were going to keep me, I received it in September. I was getting emails to update my USADA, I never got a cut letter and I got tested by USADA on October 24th. I was hoping to fight sometime in January or February, then they broke the news to me that they need to make a room for new talent.

Q: You made your UFC debut against James Krause in July, then 4 months down the line, they cut you. How surprised were you at this somewhat out of the blue decision?

I’m thankful for my opportunity in the UFC and the fact that they gave me another shot, but it was definitely surprising how it happened.  They released a newsletter in September welcoming Jesse (Taylor) Dhiego (Lima) and myself into the UFC, all signs pointed towards another fight. Hearing that I was cut was just heartbreaking.

Q: Have any talks started with a new promotion. I saw you name a few on Twitter, the likes of  Bellator, BAMMA, KSW and ACB. Who do you see yourself signing for?

I would love to compete in any of those! A couple of them hit me up, one of which I am very happy to talk with. Since they came out, It’s been a dream of mine to fight in KSW. They’re taking care of their fighters, I would love to fight for them. I want to travel, I want to see the world, I want to fight. I’ve got a lot of fans overseas and I want to give them a show.

It’s been a dream of mine to fight in KSW.

Q: Your long time friend Jesse Taylor was victorious in the TUF 25 Finale, but he has since accepted a 1-year ban for failing a USADA test. What is your take on this given how close you two are?

I know Jesse is not a juicer, I’ve known him ever since I came down to (Team) Quest. It’s probably come from some supplement that he’s taking, it sucks for him. I think he went into a little bit of panic mode, he could have done a better job of handling it.

I don’t take supplements, if there was a way, I’d still keep myself in the USADA pool just because I believe in a clean sport. I think it’s important we keep the sport clean and if we’re cleaning up the supplement companies then good, because no one else is.

Where would you look to see Tom fight next? Let us know below!

 

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Darren Till vs Stephen Thompson set for February 24th in England

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Stephen Thompson

Wow! Nobody could have expected this news this morning. Dana White has stated he is moving the UFC Fight Night card in Orlando, Florida to the UK so rising star Darren Till (16-0-1) can face Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson (14-2-1) in his backyard.

According to Lance Pugmire of the LA Times, Dana White revealed the news during a Q&A in Santa Monica, California.

Logistically this fight has its problems. White didn’t state that the fight was scheduled to take place in Liverpool, I assume that is plan A for the UFC though. However, on the 24th the Echo Arena in Liverpool is booked by the UK MMA promotion, Cage Warriors.

Although White may be able to throw some money at the promotion, it is unlikely they’ll budge. Another possibility is to co-promote an event with Cage Warriors, but that’s even more unlikely, even though the concept is a great one.

The fight would not make sense in another UK city like Glasgow, Birmingham or Newcastle. Making the fight is strange if it’s unable to be in Liverpool, or at the top of the UFC London card.

🦍 #UFCLiverpool

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The event would be three weeks before UFC London, which is unheard of for events over in Europe. Normally England would be lucky to get two events in a year, let alone a month. Which makes you think it will either be one or the other. European cards are never typically stacked and having two in the space of three weeks in one country would eat into the quality on show in each card.

Could this be another case of Dana White talking too soon, or are we set for two mega UFC fights in the space of three weeks in the UK. We’ll find out soon enough.

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