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‘The Ultimate Fighter’ 24 casts regional champions as competitors

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It has been announced by the UFC that the latest installment of The Ultimate Fighter will boast not just up-and-coming talent, but champions as contestants for the show’s tournament.

TUF 24 will include the following current champions:

  • Adam Antolin: (11-3), 34, of California, U.S.
  • Alexandre Pantoja: (16-2), 26, of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
  • Brandon Moreno: (11-3), 22, of Baja California, Mexico
  • Charlie Alaniz (8-1), 30, of Victoria, Australia
  • Damacio Page: (19-10), 33, of New Mexico, U.S.
  • Eric Shelton: (10-2), 25, of Illinois, U.S.
  • Hiromasa Ogikubo: (15-3), 29 of Chiba, Japan
  • Jamie Alvarez (6-1), 28, of Florida, U.S.
  • Kaiwhare Kara-France: (12-5), 23, of Auckland, New Zealand
  • Matt Rizzo: (9-2), 30, of Pennsylvania, U.S.
  • Matt Schnell: (9-2), 26, of Louisiana, U.S.
  • Nkazimulo Zulu: (7-2), 27, of Geuteng, South Africa
  • Ronaldo Candido: (6-0), 27, of Sao Paulo, Brazil
  • Terrence Mitchell: (11-2), 26, of Alaska, U.S.
  • Tim Elliott: (16-6), 29, of Kansas, U.S.
  • Yoni Sherbatov: (5-0-1), 27, of Quebec, Canada

Eight countries will be represented, and a few notable names will take part in the show such as UFC veteran Tim Elliott, and Jackson/Winkeljohn product Damacio Page.

Earlier in the year, it was revealed that the format for this upcoming season would have a slight difference from previous ultimate fighter shows. Aside from winning a contract, the winner of this season will earn a title shot against the Flyweight champion and current # 1 pound for pound UFC fighter, Demetrious ‘Mighty Mouse’ Johnson.

The last time a winner of the show’s tournament received a title shot was ten years ago when Matt Serra won the ultimate fighter 4: the comebacks season. Serra went on to defeat the Welterweight Champion Georges St. Pierre, winning his first world title.

The show’s coaches will have former title challengers Joseph Benavidez (24-4) and Henry Cejudo (10-1) overlooking and training the athletes. Both are slated to face one another at the finale in the co-main slot with the flyweight champion, Johnson defending his title against the show’s winner in the main event.

The Ultimate Fighter Finale will take place on Dec. 3rd in Las Vegas. Be sure to stay tuned as more will be announced surrounding the finale’s venue and fight card.

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Felice Herrig vs. Karolina Kowalkiewicz in the works for UFC 223

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UFC 223 looks to add a variety of intriguing bouts. With Paul Felder vs. Al Iaquinta reportedly set for the unannounced UFC 223 card, the promotion looks to add a high stakes female flyweight match-up. According to MMANYTT.com, sources confirmed a bout between Felice Herrig and Karolina Kowalkiewicz, is in the works for the pay-per-view card.

 

Assuming the match-up does come to be, both women have much to gain from a victory. For Herrig, she currently sits on a four-fight win streak. A streak in which the strawweight contender defeated Kailin Curran, Alexa Grasso, Justine Kish, and Cortney Casey. The MMA veteran, Herrig, began fighting professionally in 2009. As of late, her issues with the marketing machine that is the UFC have intensified.

After demonstrating her technical prowess over Justine Kish at UFC Fight Night 122: Chiesa vs. Lee, Herrig put her emotions on display. She stated at the post-fight media scrum, “Sometimes, I feel like, I’m not young and beautiful enough for the UFC to want to promote me. And it’s sad because I’ve really worked so hard to be here and it’s hard to see these people who’ve not been through what I’ve been through. Who just got into the UFC at the right time. They’re getting all these opportunities and I see how hard I work to get here and it’s just like, it doesn’t matter. I just feel like, ‘I’m not pretty enough and I’m not getting any younger'”.

A frustrated Felice Herrig then spoke to MMAJunkie.com in December. She claimed, “Aside from (former UFC women’s strawweight champ) Joanna (Jedrzejczyk), I’m the only strawweight who’s gone on a four-fight winning streak. That’s a fact. At this point, I want to fight someone in the top 10. It doesn’t really make sense for me to keep fighting girls that are ranked below me. That’s the whole point. If I want to keep working my way up. I fight the most dangerous girls outside the top 10”. The #9 ranked women’s flyweight has a point. In her UFC career, she recorded one loss in six appearances. Yet, she has one co-main event booking, while fighters like Michelle Waterson, booked the main event in her second UFC bout. In Waterson’s third bout, she received a co-main event scheduling. Understandably, Felice Herrig is upset with her situation.

Later in her interview, Herrig brought up Kowalkiewicz as a potential next opponent. “For whatever reason, I really want to fight Karolina. I just think that would be an exciting fight… Stylistically, I really like that fight. She’s ranked above (me), and it may be a good gauge for me,” she stated. Right now, it looks like Herrig is close to getting what she wants.

Kowalkiewicz last fought in her native country of Poland on the UFC Fight Pass card, UFC Fight Night 118: Cowboy vs. Till, in October. The Polish star defeated Jody Esquibel, after losing consecutive contests to former UFC female strawweight champion, Joanna Jedrzejcyk and Claudia Gadelha, respectively.

A win for either makes a good case for the next or an eventual title challenger. Kowalkiewicz holds a victory over current division champion, Rose Namajunas. While a win for Herrig would further establish her impressive win streak and undoubtedly give her the boost in the rankings she deserves.

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Chael Sonnen vs. Rampage Jackson the new main event at Bellator 192

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Bellator is getting ready to kick off their heavyweight grand prix at Bellator 192 on January 20th. The grand prix gets started with two former UFC greats who have now set their sights on Bellator gold, Chael Sonnen and Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson. Today it was announced that this heavyweight matchup of two ordinarily light heavyweights will be getting the bump up to the main event. The reason for the change has not been announced.

The main event was scheduled to be the much anticipated welterweight matchup between champion Douglas Lima and former UFC title challenger Rory MacDonald. Bellator has been promoting this event as such the welterweight title fight would get top billing. Earlier this week the fighters involved in the main and co-main event were part of a conference call. At the time there was no mention of the switch to the lineup.

This fight between Sonnen and Jackson is just the first in a series of heavyweight fights leading up to the crowning of the Bellator heavyweight championship in December. There has been great interest shown in this heavyweight grand prix between fans and media, which could attribute to the last minute change.

Lima vs. MacDonald will now serve as the co-main event on January 20th. Lima, who has been with Bellator since 2011 has been accused of being overlooked by the organization. He has held the welterweight title since November 2016 and perhaps has not gotten the showcases he deserves. This event will take place at The Forum in Inglewood, California.

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Bellator announces longtime referee ‘Big’ John McCarthy to join broadcast team

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After the announcement last week that Bellator would be parting ways with their longtime color commentary man Jimmy Smith, Bellator has now found their replacement. Bellator announced Tuesday through a press release that they have signed well known MMA referee ‘Big’ John McCarthy to fill the void left by Smith.

McCarthy will be making his commentary debut on January 20th at the much anticipated Bellator 192: Lima vs. MacDonald at The Forum in California. McCarthy will join the likes of Chael Sonnen, as Bellator has also extended his contract as well. The two will be added to the broadcast team that already included former UFC broadcaster Mike Goldberg and Mauro Ranallo.

“With the addition of ‘Big’ John to our broadcast team, we have put together the premier group of MMA commentators ahead of our Jan. 20 debut on the Paramount Network,” Bellator President Scott Coker said via the press release. “With John and Chael providing analysis, you’re getting two people who have spent more time in the cage than they have spent with a headset on, and that will translate to a positive viewing experience for Bellator fans.”

McCarthy has been seen inside the cage for the last 20 years. He is most likely the most recognized referee in MMA. In addition to refereeing, McCarthy is the founder of a program called “C.O.M.M.A.N.D.” This program trains and certifies future MMA referees and judges.

“I first want to say how grateful I am for the opportunity I have been given to work with the incredible team Bellator has assembled. It is always so hard to leave something you love, but I have always wanted to step away based on my terms rather than someone else’s. My goals are to work as hard as I can to meet the expectations everyone will have for me and to hopefully someday exceed them.” McCarthy said via the press release. “I cannot think of anyone I would rather be working with than Scott Coker. Scott has always been a person I admire because of his honesty, loyalty, and love for the martial arts. I want to thank everyone from Bellator and Viacom for the trust you are bestowing upon me to keep the commentating of Bellator MMA at the highest levels of the sport.”

Bellator is in the midst of transitioning their live broadcasts from Spike TV to the new Paramount network.

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