Chael Sonnen responds to charge he was one of the worst drug cheats in MMA
Decastro, Soriano earn UFC contracts with wins on Dana White Contender Series
The premiere episode of the Dana White Contender Series featured four fights, but only two fighters earned a UFC contract directly from President Dana White: Yorgan Decastro and Puna Soriano.
Decastro wins first ever fight at UFC Apex with leg kick TKO
Combate Americas scores big television ratings for 6/7 event
It was another ratings home run for “Cricket Wireless Presents Combate Americas: Tucson Unbreakable” broadcast live on network television; it pulled in more than 420,000 viewers on Univision in its midnight ET time slot, on Friday, 6/7. The event was the highest rated program in the midnight ET time slot for the week on Univision’s schedule, a feat which has become common-place for Combate telecasts in that time period. “Tucson Unbreakable” drew nearly 4X as many viewers (421,000 vs. 115,000) as competitor PFL carried by ESPN2, Saturday, 7 p.m. Combate’s trend of dominating other major sports telecasts continued, with the Tucson telecast pulling in higher viewership than four FIFA Women’s World Cup matches airing on Telemundo and cross-promoted heavily on NBC. Combate Americas CEO Campbell McLaren: “Our television ratings for ‘Tucson Unbreakable’ proved once again that Combate Americas has become appointment television, particularly among young adults and that our brand of MMA brings something unique to fans of combat sports." Source: Nielsen • h/t Combate Americas
Paulo Costa: Ex-trainer attempted blackmail with IV video
Costa received a retroactive 6-month suspension by USADA for prohibited IV use prior to his wins over Oluwale Bamgbose and Johny Hendricks; the suspension followed the emergence of a video showing 'Borrachinha' receiving an IV in a hotel room. A since-fired trainer was allegedly responsible for the vid: "He tried to use that short moment to hurt me and extort me with that video. He said, ‘If you don’t give me this amount of money…’ I obviously didn’t even try to negotiate because I knew what I was doing. ... He hurt himself a lot because he was cut from the team. He was part of the team and betrayed not only my confidence, but every fighter's. I don’t know if a trainer can have the confidence of a fighter or a gym owner now because if he does that to one fighter, he’ll do to another. This guy has to be banned from the sport. ... I believe he thought, ‘He’s in the UFC, making a lot of money, I’ll extort him.’ I had worked with him four or five years before the UFC, but there was no extortion because I wasn’t making money [laughs].” Costa fights Yoel Romero at UFC 241 on 8/17. h/t MMA Fighting • AG.Fight (original Portuguese)
Brave makes London debut with invite only event on 7/25
The invite-only event at the 8,000-seat Copper Box Arena in the heart of Stratford’s Olympic Park is designed to connect the sport of mixed martial arts to the highest level of influencers across all walks of life, including social media, business, sports, and other ventures. Brave president Mohammed Shahid: “Brave is looking to connect the biggest influencers to the best fighters in the world. This is about taking MMA to the next level, to expose the best and fastest-growing sport in the world to the wider audience. We want to make sure the sport grows, regardless of BRAVE. This is the vision of His Highness Sheikh Khaled bin Hamad Al Khalifa, and that’s what we want to do.”
Titan FC 55: Redemption has 2 titles on the line
Titan Fighting Championship will host Titan FC 55 from Xtreme Action Park in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, June 28, headlined by a flyweight title fight between defending champion Juan Puerta and challenger, Claudio Ledesma. Puerta, on a four-fight win streak, recently served a suspension handed down by the Florida State Boxing Commission after the fighter admitted guilt and test results showed greater than 300 nanograms of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) prior to his scheduled Titan FC 53 title defense against Gustavo Balart in March. The fight never happened as it was canceled just minutes before it was scheduled to take place. Puerta’s suspension ended on June 15. He was also fined $500, plus costs, and is required to engage in community service which entails speaking with the Stoneman Douglas wrestling team about the mistakes he made and lessons learned. He will also volunteer as a wrestling coach this summer. Ledesma is coming into the title fight on a five-fight win streak. Irwin Rivera fights Matt Wagy for the promotion's interim bantamweight title.
UFC Apex to be ‘a big piece’ of promotion’s plans going forward
When CEO of UFC parent company Endeavor Ari Emmanuel, first visited the Performance Institute two years ago, he looked out a window at a neighboring space and said he wanted to buy it. Two years later The UFC Apex opens officially with the third season of DWTNCS begins at 8 p.m. ET tonight and airs on ESPN+. UFC president Dana White explains: “We can basically do things anywhere in the world from here. This place can run 24 hours a day. We can do a fight here at 8 in the morning, rip it apart and set it up for another fight at 11, set it up for another fight at 2, can do another fight at 5. We can produce content out of here live 365 days a year, 24 hours a day. There’s a massive master plan for this whole area here that we will be building out over the next two to three years … Let me just say this, it’s ridiculous. It’s phenomenal what’s going to happen with this land right over here.” Future plans include opening the space to public for lots of fights, plus boxing, comedy shows, and concerts. h/t Las Vegas Sun
The Story of Rivalries Fueling the Biggest Fights
UFC intends to put on shows at new 65k+ arena in Vegas
The new 65,000+ seat Las Vegas Stadium will open in August 2020, and UFC chief operations officer Lawrence Epstein is determined to hold an event there; it would be the first stadium show in the USA: “We’ve done events in Australia and Brazil and Canada that if we would have had a facility here in Las Vegas, we would have done [here]. There have been events at [AT&T] Stadium [Arlington, Texas] – big boxing events there. There’s no reason why those events wouldn’t have come to Las Vegas. I think combat sports is going to have a home in this facility. The stadium events are going to be special events. They’re going to be that event that warrants this huge crowd and the ability to sell tickets associated with 65,000-seat stadiums. We’re still going to be the vast majority of our events at the T-Mobile Arena. We love the facility. The management team is incredible. We do events around the world, and I think it’s the best arena in the world.” h/t MMA Junkie • Watch LVSportsBiz interview
Conor's coach confident of return this year
"I always loved the Diaz trilogy. I've kind of said that from the start. I'm really looking forward to seeing how Nate looks in the fight that's coming up. That would just be, as a fan, very exciting. Honestly, if it's Conor excited and motivated and pushing himself hard, it doesn't really matter all that much to me. Anybody in the UFC at the level Conor will be fighting are good opponents. You have different challenges." Diaz fights Anthony Pettis at UFC 241 on 8/18 in Anaheim. h/t ESPN • Watch Ariel Helwani's MMA Show
Elias Theodorou breaks silence on UFC release
“There are many organizations that have already reached out that pretty much pay what the UFC pays in some capacity. And now with the avenue of having sponsors potentially involved, there are avenues I could make the same money as a UFC fighter elsewhere. ... I have no ill will toward the UFC. I don’t think being upset about it does anyone good. Especially myself. I don’t want to burn any bridges, but I also want to look at it in the positive aspects where I’m happy and healthy, and I’ve been successful in 20 of my professional times. The UFC does have 600 athletes. I think they just looked at what I was making now being 8-3 in the UFC, the five or seven Canadian fighters they recently added, they probably can pay every single one of their paychecks with my paycheck. ... I’m excited for the next step in my career and make myself undeniable, wherever that is.” Theodorou has been training at TriStar for an extended period, and plans to travel to other gyms to add tools to make him a more exciting fighter: “I’ve kind of looked at myself as a Pollack painting. Abstract with its own beauty. But it seems if you don’t look at MMA as a sport, but rather entertainment, I’ve gotta be more Van Gogh, and cut my ear – or someone else’s ear.” h/t MMA Junkie
PVZ: Why no one will dethrone Valentina Shevchenko
Paige VanZant: “I am going to be real honest. She is terrifying. I plan on being in the UFC, training forever. She will probably retire before I fight for the title, to be totally honest. I am only 25 so I want to work my way up. As far as anyone I see right now to dethrone her, no there is nobody. I know she has said bad things about me in the past, but I don’t care. Her striking is absolutely next-level and she is so methodical and technical in her striking. It’s like nothing I have ever seen before. So I am working on being like her. I want striking like hers. So, congrats to the champ, it was just an awesome performance.” PVZ is currently recovering from surgery, and should resume training in twelve weeks. h/t MMA Mania • Watch Ariel Helwani's MMA Show
Adam Borics: Maybe the hype was too much for young Aaron Pico
“I knew he would try to wrestle with me because he’s a really good wrestler. He’s a world champion and I know it. His distance was shorter than me and maybe it was a good plan but everybody just thought I am good on striking but I am good on the ground. I was tutored for that. I knew that he would take me down but I was prepared for that. Maybe everybody was a little bit underrating me and I was a little bit upset. Because everybody was just talking about him and everybody was like ‘Pico will finish Adam like this and like this’ but it’s OK. We knew it. I’m going to finish him. He’s such a good guy, very talented, very technical. People forget but he was a wrestling world champion and not too many people can say that. I really respect that. He’s a boxing Golden Gloves [champion]. He looks like a very nice guy. He’s a hard worker, too. He’s so [motivated]. I think he just needs some rest and maybe the hype was too much for him because he was crazy hyped. Maybe he was too young for the pressure.” Borics next wants to get into the Bellator Featherweight Grand Prix, which starts later this year. h/t MMA Fighting
Tyron Woodley to Henry Cejudo: You're awesome, but dog ...
“Henry Cejudo, sit down somewhere, dawg. Sit down somewhere; you’re annoying everybody. He is a phenomenal fighter. It’s amazing that he’s been able to win an Olympic gold medal, which is more important to me than a UFC belt, because it’s the hardest thing that you can do in combat sports. He beat Demetrious Johnson, a pound for pound legend, won a belt in two divisions. So what I’m saying is that his resume is crazy in a very short period of time. But when you start doing that extra stuff, oof, just stop. Hey, man, you a beast. Keep killing it. Keep it up in the Octagon. Tone down the extraness by like 10. Take it down 10, and you set.” h/t MMA News • Watch The Hollywood Beatdown
Dustin Poirier: Why I'll be the first to beat Khabib Nurmagomedov
“27 have tried, 27 have failed. A lot of people have been asking me where do I see weaknesses in Khabib’s game or where do I think he makes mistakes. ... I don’t really need him to be weak for me to be strong. I don’t need huge, glaring holes. I’m going to create them with my pressure, with my fight IQ and just my experience and the amount of rounds and years I’ve been doing this.You’ve got two guys on the pound-for-pound list, one of them’s undefeated, both of them are champions. Two champions are going on, one champion is coming out. This is going to be a huge fight. I’m excited about it. I’ll make those openings that we’re talking about. ... Experience, self-belief, my mindset. I’m focused on making history and that’s all I care about. That’s what the next 11 weeks are going to be to prepare for 25 minutes to do whatever I have to do to get my hand raised. I don’t need to find huge holes. The guy’s good. I can’t sit up here and say anything bad about the guy. He’s good. He’s the world champ. But I’m going to make things happen in there and bring him to places he’s never been in there. That’s just it." The two fight in the main event of UFC 242 on 9/7. h/t MMA Fighting • Watch UFC 242 pre-fight press conference
ONE signs undefeated Muay Thai superstar Jorina Baars
A native of Den Helder, Netherlands, the 30-year old Baars is easily one of the most sought-after martial artists in the world and has attained success in every stage that she has competed in. Among Baars’ accolades include the ISKA Welterweight World Championship, a National Dutch Muay Thai Championship, the Amazon of K-1 Muay Thai Grand Prix Championship, and the inaugural Lion Fight Muay Thai Women’s Welterweight World Championship. Baars remains undefeated in 49 Muay Thai contests, owning an impressive 46-0-3 record with 16 of those victories coming by way of knockout. The most notable win in Baars’ stellar resumé is a unanimous decision victory over multiple-time mixed martial arts World Champion Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino to capture the inaugural Lion Fight Muay Thai Women’s Welterweight World Championship.
Ronda Rousey and the rise of Women’s MMA
The Prelim Primer: UFC Greenville
The Prelim Primer is the one and only podcast dedicated to the curtain jerkers. Catch host Daniel "Gumby" Vreeland, who is joined this week by Michael Fiedel, from FloCombat and The Body Lock MMA, as they break down all of the prelims of UFC Greenville.
LISTEN TO THE PRELIM PRIMER HERE
Follow host on Twitter @GumbyVreeland
Follow co-host on Twitter @MichaelFiedel
Bellator's Haim Gozali: MMA has 'become the top sport in Israel'
Israel's Haim Gozali, 46, who on Friday became the oldest fighter in promotion history to win via sub: “It’s too much To win in Madison Square Garden, for me, it’s too much. In my age, I’m old, so for me it’s great. ... Every [fight] I’m saying maybe this is the one. But no, I continue. I don’t feel old. I don’t feel [it in] the body. I’m feeling good. I did 12 surgeries in my body and I’m still feeling good. In Israel, it’s a big show. It’s like 9,000 people every show. It’s crazy over there. It’s becoming soccer or basketball. It’s become the top sport in Israel. It’s the only sport in Israel there’s been 9,000 people to an arena.” h/t MMA Junkie
Renato Moicano: What I learned from the loss to Jose Aldo
“Life is so wonderful that it shows you the right path to go, and sometimes having to take a step back helps you a lot. Jose Aldo is someone I respect a lot, I have no shame in admitting that he’s my idol, but that fight showed me I can stand with him and the best fighters. ... I got a lot of attention from fans, people coming to talk to me all the time, and maybe I didn’t handle that really well. People saying I was going to beat Jose Aldo, maybe I let that carry myself too much and didn’t dedicate to the big task I had ahead of me, which was beating Jose Aldo. I should have gotten more focused. I was fighting in Brazil and everybody talking about me being the betting favorite. I was too calm in there, and we can’t underestimate someone like Jose Aldo, a knockout artist, the best featherweight of all times. I’ve learned that we have to be the same way, no matter who we’re fighting. This is our life. It’s kill or be killed. A loss means a lot, a win means a lot. A... If you win, you’re good. If you lose, you’re bad. I’ve learned to stay focused on myself and not think about others.” Moicano fights Chan Sung Jung at UFC on ESPN+ 12 on 6/22, 2019 at Greenville, South Carolina. h/t MMA Fighting
Christian Lee Is ready for fights In two weight classes
Christian “The Warrior” Lee, 20, who became the ONE Lightweight World Champion, the youngest male world champion in MMA history when he defeated Japanese legend Shinya “Tobikan Judan” Aoki with a swift knockout at ONE: ENTER THE DRAGON last May: “It was a surreal experience. The belt has been a dream of mine for a very long time. The moment they put that strap on my shoulder was just amazing. Shinya is a teammate and a friend, and even though we were stepping in there as competitors, I still wouldn’t want any serious damage done to him, so I’m glad the stoppage came. ... going back down to challenge for the belt at featherweight, or they find a top contender to challenge for my belt at lightweight, or whatever. It doesn’t matter. I want to stay active. I’m hungry and ready to fight whoever ONE Championship throws at me next. I am still the top contender in the featherweight division. There’s no one else but me, and if I choose to and if everything lines up, I would absolutely be ready for a fight for that featherweight belt.” h/t Low Kick MMA