Brian Ortega looking to prove a point against ‘Korean Zombie’ at UFC Busan

Brian Ortega will look to bounce back from his first career loss and do so with a vengeance.

He heads to enemy territory when he takes on Chan Sung Jung in the main event of UFC on ESPN+ 23 in Busan, South Korea on Dec. 21, a fight he hopes will propel him back into featherweight contention.

After an undeniable run of excellence in the UFC’s 145-pound division, finishing every one that was put in front of him, Ortega (14-1 MMA, 6-1 UFC) earned a title shot against champion Max Holloway at UFC 231.

But it proved to be a little too much for Ortega, who showed a ton of heart, but was battered throughout the fight. The doctor waved off the fight at the end of the fourth, and Ortega suffered his first loss as a pro.

That prompted “T-City” to make some changes, and after taking some time off to heal from nose and hand surgery, Ortega wants to pick up right where he left off, when he was taking everyone out.

“I feel like coming out here and really putting on a show and demonstrating who I am and what I’m made out of,” Ortega said at the UFC Busan pre-fight press conference. “That I can really go back and to climb the ladder again. I’ve only had one defeat in my career, and that was to the champ, and that night, I was not myself so I want to get back in there and let the world know who I really am when I step in there. The same guy that finished everyone in the UFC, and I just want to keep that streak going.”

And he believes the “Korean Zombie” is the perfect dance partner, who will bring the best out of him. Stylistically, both guys have shown that they are unafraid to exchange in a firefight, and Ortega says the South Korean fans are in for a treat on Dec. 21.

“When you look at who is out there, that is going to bring a fight to you, it’s going to be him,” Ortega said. “It’s going to be the guy who likes to go in there and likes to fight. There’s very few fighters now at the top who are willing to stand in the pocket and really pretty much trade punches for punches and see who is the toughest man in this sport and those are the type of fights that I love.”

“I love when I go in there, I love it when we both go in there with heart, strength, honor and put it all on the line, and I love that type of style. I’ve seen his fights, he loves that type of style, and the fans love it so it’s going to be a beautiful show.”

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Video: Maycee Barber doubts Paige VanZant accepts fight: “I will ruin her Instagram career”

MMA Fighting

BOSTON — After her win at UFC on ESPN 6, Maycee Barber talks about being confident that she could out-grapple Gillian Robertson, why she doesn’t think Paige VanZant will fight her, a possible future at strawweight, and more.

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5 biggest takeaways from UFC on ESPN 6: Reyes’ title shot, Weidman’s future, inhaler-gate and more

What mattered most at UFC on ESPN 6 in Boston? Here are a few post-fight musings …

* * * * *

1. Inhaler-gate

It’s hard to know where to even beginning with this whole inhaler controversy that turned Greg Hardy’s (4-1 MMA, 2-1 UFC) unanimous decision win over Ben Sosoli (7-2 MMA, 0-0 UFC) into a no contest. Never in all my years covering combat sports have I seen a fight ask to use an inhaler mid-fight, let alone actually receive approval to do it.

The crux of this issue seems to come down to this: Hardy believed disclosing the inhaler to the commission pre-fight in Boston as well as on his U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) paperwork allowed him use of the inhaler at all times. He apparently didn’t have knowledge that in-competition use is illegal, and the commission member who gave him approval in the footage was misinformed, as well.

Hardy’s chief corner, Din Thomas, probably should have recognized using an inhaler between rounds was a violation of the rules. However, it’s understandable that in the midst of the chaos of a fight, he didn’t fully comprehend what was going on. Still, though, he should’ve had a better understanding of the moment, as there’s a reason this has never happened to anyone else.

The entire thing was just bizarre, and it’s magnified by the fact it happened to Hardy, who is a lightning rod for controversy as it is. It didn’t much seem like he needed it, anyway, because he was way ahead in the fight with Sosoli.

Hardy did the illegal action, though, and while it may not always be the case with him, he suffered the consequences this time.

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‘Bigfoot’ Silva, Gabriel Gonzaga respond to critics of bare-knuckle boxing bout

“Bigfoot” Silva will face fellow Brazilian heavyweight Gabriel Gonzaga at BKFC 8. | Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva and Gabriel Gonzaga once challenged for the UFC heavyweight championship, but those days are in the past.

Now, “Bigfoot” and “Napao” prepare to enter a ring to meet each other in a bare-knuckle boxing bout, a decision that raises questions.

The two MMA veterans will clash over five, two-minute rounds in the main event of BKFC 8 in Tampa, Fla., on Saturday night, making their debuts in the burgeoning sport after multiple knockout defeats in MMA.

Silva, who turned 40 in September, had 10 of 12 MMA losses come by way of knockout and won just one of his past 10 fights. “Bigfoot” also competed once in kickboxing in 2017 and was finished in the second round by heavyweight star Rico Verhoeven.

Gonzaga’s recent record isn’t the greatest either. The 40-year-old jiu-jitsu specialist also has been knocked out 10 times in MMA, going 1-5 in the sport since 2014. “Napao” has boxed once in his life, defeating Alejandro Esquilin Santiago via majority decision two years ago.

The question about whether or not they should be competing again, especially in an aggressive ruleset like bare-knuckle boxing, arose on social media when BKFC announced the match-up in August, but the Brazilian heavyweights are not worried.

The damaged he has suffered in recent years isn’t a concern for Silva, who mentions the two-year layoff — forced by a knee surgery — as something that helped him recover his “chin” and absorb strikes better when he returned to the gym.

“I’m feeling great,” Silva told MMA Fighting. “Criticism will always come. There are people that don’t even understand or like the sport, but still criticize, but I don’t even read it. I went to Las Vegas once and did all the exams and it’s all beautiful, I’m like a 15-year-old boy [laughs]. I’m great. I definitely wouldn’t be fighting if I wasn’t, I wouldn’t take that risk.

“I’m speaking for myself here. I don’t know about Gabriel, but I’m on fire. I’ve been resting for two years, preparing for my comeback, and this is my time to return. Taking that time off was great for my mind, to absorb strikes. I spent two years doing more of cardio and jiu-jitsu to then get my confidence again after the knee surgery. the last time I felt this great was in 2013, when I was very hungry and excited.”

Gonzaga isn’t worried either. In fact, he defends bare-knuckle boxing as being safer than more popular sports like football, soccer and racing.

“If you stop and think about it, I don’t know if you ever played soccer, but when someone crosses the ball and you hit it with the head, that’s harder than one of these punches,” Gonzaga said. “People get knocked out in soccer and no one says a word. Same with football. People don’t know how dangerous ‘normal’ sports are, they don’t focus on that because it looks less aggressive.

“People say that because they are scared about the blood. If you stop and think about is, what’s more dangerous: Formula 1, with Ayrton Senna, or a bare-knuckle boxing match? How many people have died in motorcycle or car accidents and they keep racing out there? BMX, skate, surfing giant waves… People die and they aren’t afraid, meanwhile boxing is around for millions of years and not many people have died. People are afraid, but it’s not as dangerous as they think.”

A spokesperson for the Florida State Athletic Commission emphasized standard safety protocols in place for Saturday’s event. She added that Gonzaga and Silva both were required to clear additional hurdles given their age.

“Fighters over the age of 40, like the two mentioned in your inquiry, must also present an good EKG and a clean MRI of the brain,” wrote Karen Smith, Director of Communications for the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, which oversees the commission.

BKFC promoter David Feldman acknowledged a request for comment, but didn’t provide a statement at the time of this writing.

Silva admits he had only watched one bare-knuckle boxing event before receiving the offer to compete against Gonzaga at BKFC 8, and thought it was an “exciting” idea. He decided to give it a go and “try something new” in Tampa years after starting his fighting career training with bare hands in Brazil.

“I’ve watched some fights later to understand how the sport works,” Silva said. “Rounds are short, so they are very aggressive right away since there are no gloves and one punch can land and end the fight. I’m ready to go five round if I have to, but I don’t like to go the distance. We never know what the judges are thinking, so we better guarantee the win ourselves in there.”

Gonzaga, who has been active in jiu-jitsu tournaments this year, was actually competing at the World Master IBJJF Jiu-Jitsu Championship in California — he won the gold medal in the ultra heavyweight class — when BKFC officials called and suggested a fight with Silva.

Back in 2016, Gonzaga told MMA Fighting he wouldn’t fight in MMA again unless he was paid six figures. In the bare-knuckle match, the Brazilian says his demands have been met, and he’s going to “challenge my boxing.”

“I have good boxing, and not many people know,” Gonzaga said. “I wasn’t looking for a fight, but they asked if I was interested. Boxing is easier than MMA, and that’s why I came back. It’s good money, a cool event, so it’s all good.

“MMA gloves are small and thin, so it doesn’t make much difference if we’re wearing them of not. MMA gloves are made for the TV, to avoid cuts. I’m old school, man. I’ve trained at Chute Boxe in 2004 and 2005, and back then we had a doctor that would stitch us up in the gym whenever someone had a cut. We didn’t even go to the hospital. Getting cut is not a problem.

“We’re two heavyweights with no gloves, so it probably won’t go five rounds,” he continued. “I only went the distance a few times in my MMA career because I go for the finish. Sometimes I lose, but all I care is giving fans what they want to see.”

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UFC on ESPN 6 rookie report: Grading the newcomers in Boston

Fighters from around the globe dream of the day they’ll step into the UFC octagon for the first time. For seven athletes, Saturday’s UFC on ESPN 6 event marked that special moment in their career.

Check out this week’s rookie report to see what kind of first impression those fighters made on the sport’s biggest stage from TD Garden in Boston.

* * * * *

Tanner Boser

Tanner Boser

Division: Heavyweight
Result: Tanner Boser def. Daniel Spitz via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Record: (17-5-1 MMA, 1-0 UFC)
Grade: B+

Tanner Boser is just fine with you talking about his mullet rather than his fighting skills. He also doesn’t mind if you say he looks like a fitter version of the man best known as “Big Country,” Roy Nelson. But focusing on only those aspects of his debut would be a great disservice to “The Bulldozer.”

Boser was incredibly composed in his UFC debut, moving well for a big man, switching stances and peppering Daniel Spitz’s legs before landing big punches up top, as well. Boser wasn’t necessarily always the man moving forward, but it was clear he was sticking to a solid gameplan, utilizing his mobility to neutralize his opponent’s length.

In terms of evaluating his complete game, we didn’t get to see much in the realm of grappling, but Boser’s ability to manage range and fire in punches and kicks from both sides was impressive, especially in a UFC debut. His performance didn’t necessarily scream “future UFC champion,” but he’s not going to be an easy out for anyone looking to stand and trade at heavyweight.

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Jon Jones tells Dominick Reyes, ‘Many talk s*it, all have fallen,’ gets challenged in return

UFC 239 Jones v Santos

Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

UFC light heavyweight standout Dominick Reyes is definitely on champ Jon Jones’ radar. As for a potential fight is on the horizon, that’s unclear. But let the war of words begin.

Jones on Saturday answered an emphatic callout by Reyes less than one day after his stoppage win of ex-middleweight champ Chris Weidman at UFC on ESPN 6. He appeared to welcome the fight before his attention went elsewhere.

Jones, who remains unbooked following a win over Thiago Santos at UFC 239, claimed his response was a pivot away from new middleweight champ Israel Adesanya, who earlier this week went hard on him via social media.

The two have sparred back and forth to whip up anticipation about an eventual showdown. But Jones claimed he’d already taken home a victory after those exchanges.

Jones again entertained a possible move to heavyweight, which he’s repeatedly hedged on despite intense fan interest. Once targeted to fight Stipe Miocic, “Bones” said he’d rather stay at 205 pounds than challenge Miocic or avowed rival Daniel Cormier.

But amid all the verbal sparring, he again shifted gears and toyed with the idea.

None of that meant anything to Reyes, whose highlight-reel win set up a direct message to “Bones.” Quick to the keyboard, he tried to entice Jones to put his money where his mouth is.

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Molly McCann won on her ‘worst day’ after sickness struck at UFC on ESPN 6

BOSTON – Molly McCann beat Diana Belbita with a unanimous decision Friday on the preliminary card at UFC on ESPN 6 at TD Garden in Boston.

Take a look inside the fight with McCann, who has now earned all three of her UFC victories by decision.

Result: Molly McCann def. Diana Belbita via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-26, 30-26)
Updated records: McCann (10-2 MMA, 3-1 UFC), Belbita (11-5 MMA, 0-1 UFC)
Key stat: McCann’s three-fight UFC winning streak in women’s flyweight competition is tied for the second longest active streak in the division behind Valentina Shevchenko (four).

McCann on fighting through illness

“I felt a little sick. My attributes and game plan require a massive engine and gas tank, and I couldn’t give anything because I felt like I was going to be sick. So to come away with winning three rounds with an average performance is not good enough for me. But I’m not complaining. I’ve won again – I just wish it was more spectacular because I know how good I am. I feel like I’ve earned more than just another debuting prospect, but thank God – that’s all I had tonight with the way my body was feeling.”

McCann on disappointment with performance

“I’ll be happy when I look back, but I’m devastated right now. I want to get back in there and do another three rounds to fix it. The cut, the training camp, everything was perfect – so it’s on me. I just felt weird out there with my belly. I couldn’t get going. My lungs weren’t tired, but my body was just shutting down. At least on my worst day, I still produced a performance that got me a win.”

McCann on what she wants next

“If they give me another chance before the end of the year, I’ll jump all over it.”

To hear more from McCann, check out the video of the full post-fight interview above.

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PFL 8 salaries: Lance Palmer, Natan Schulte among highest-paid fighters on card 

Lance Palmer | Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

The lightweight and featherweight finalists in PFL season 2 were determined on Thursday night in Las Vegas with Natan Schulte, Loik Radzhabov, Lance Palmer and Daniel Pineda punching their tickets to the $1 million finale in December.

On Friday, the Nevada State Athletic Commission released the salaries for the event to MMA Fighting following a 12-fight card where several fighters competed twice in one night.

Schulte, who won the $1 million grand prize in PFL season 1, returned to the finals with another dominant showcase while being one of the highest paid fighters on the latest card as well.

The reigning lightweight tournament champion earned $99,900 in total for his two wins that helped him move into the finals. Radzhabov, who faces Schulte on New Year’s Eve, also took home the same base salary but he had to hand over $36,000 in foreign withholding, which is presumably used to pay taxes to the United States.

In the featherweight division, Palmer also returned to the finals for the second straight year while taking home $99,950 after two fights and two wins on Thursday night. Pineda, who finished both of his opponents en route to the finals, took home $99,800 after stepping into the tournament as a late replacement.

All of the fighters competing at PFL 8 made a base salary of $25,000 per round along with a $25,000 win bonus except for Palmer, Schulte and Rashid Magomedov, who earned $50,000 for the quarterfinals but then did not receive a win bonus for the semifinals if they made it that far.

Here are the full salaries for PFL 8 per the Nevada State Athletic Commission:

Chris Wade: $74,800 — $25,000 to show, $25,000 to win in the quarterfinals. $25,000 to show in the semifinals minus $200 in licensing fees

Nathan Andrews: $24.550 — $25,000 to show minus $150 in licensing fees and $300 in miscellaneous fees

Islam Mamedov: $24,850 — $25,000 to show minus $150 in licensing fees

Loik Radzhabov: $63,800 — $25,000 to show, $25,000 to win in quarterfinals. $25,000 to show, $25,000 to win in semifinals minus $200 in licensing fees and $36,000 in foreign withholding.

Akhmed Aliev: $74,850 — $25,000 to show, $25,000 to win in quarterfinals. $25,000 to show in semifinals minus $150 in licensing fees.

Rashid Magomedov: $49,800 — $50,000 to show minus $200 in licensing fees

Nathan Schulte: $99,900 — $50,000 to show, $25,000 to win in quarterfinals. $25,000 to show in semifinals, no win bonus minus $100 in licensing fees.

Ramsey Nijem: $24,850 — $25,000 to show minus $150 in licensing fees

Luis Laurentino: $17,110 — $25,000 to show minus $50 in licensing fees, $340 in miscellaneous fees and $7,500 in foreign withholding.

Jeremy Kennedy: $74,900 — $25,000 to show, $25,000 to win in quarterfinals. $25,000 to show in semifinals minus $100 in licensing fees.

Movlid Khaibulaev: $24,950 — $25,000 to show minus $50 in licensing fees

Daniel Pineda: $99,800 — $25,000 to show, $25,00 to win in quarterfinals. $25,000 to show, $25,000 to win in semifinals minus $200 in licensing fees.

Alex Gilpin: $74,950 — $25,000 to show, $25,000 to win in quarterfinals. $25,000 to show in semifinals minus $50 in licensing fees

Andre Harrison: $24,850 — $25,000 to show minus $150 in licensing fees

Lance Palmer: $99,950 — $50,000 to show, $25,000 to win in quarterfinals. $25,000 to show in semifinals, no win bonus, minus $50 in licensing fees.

Alexandre de Almeida: $24,055 — $25,000 to show minus $200 in licensing fees and $745 in miscellaneous fees.

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Dana White admits he doesn’t agree with many Donald Trump tweets but still stands by him

UFC president Dana White turned heads when he became one of the first high-profile people to endorse Donald Trump’s bid for U.S. President.

White’s support was such that he spoke on Trump’s behalf at the Republican National Convention in the summer of 2016.

For White, this wasn’t just about politics. He has an old-school sense of Boston Irish loyalty, and Trump welcomed UFC events at his casinos long before most of North America opened doors to MMA.

“When we first bought the UFC, no venues wanted us,” White told The Boston Globe in an interview released Friday. “He actually reached out and said, “Come to the Taj (Mahal). We’d love to have you at the Taj.’ So our first two events were at the Taj Mahal. He showed up at the first fight, stayed until the last fight. Couldn’t have been nicer. Cut us a great deal.

” … Then, for the rest of my career, anything good that ever happened, the president was the first guy to pick up the phone and call me,”  White continued.  “He said, ‘Congratulations, I knew you were going to do this, I knew this thing was going to big, I knew this, I knew that.’”

But then Trump won the Presidency over Hilary Clinton in a deeply polarizing election, and in its third year, his administration is mired in what seems to be a never-ending string of scandals. The House of Representatives has opened an impeachment inquiry, and a recent Gallup poll found that 52 percent of Americans support his impeachment and removal from office, including 55 percent of self-identified independents.

White, for his part, still stands by Trump. But he also said he doesn’t agree with everything the President does or says.

“Everybody thinks I’m a Republican, but I’m not a Republican,” White said. “I’m for the best man or woman for the job. I don’t agree with all of his politics, but it doesn’t matter what president is in there, I don’t agree with everything they say. 

“There’s a little bit of me that’s Republican, and there’s a little bit of me that’s Democratic. I believe in taking care of people that don’t have, I believe in taking care of the planet, you know, all that type of stuff.”

On the other hand, White is a member of the small percentage of Americans in the uppermost income brackets who receive the bulk of benefits of the recent changes to the federal tax code under Trump’s watch, so there still remain things that he and the President see eye-to-eye on.

“Then there’s a conservative side to me, too,” White said. “I believe in less taxes, and so I don’t agree with all his policies, and I definitely don’t agree with all of his tweets and the things that he says. But there’s a lot of people that I’m friends with that I don’t agree with everything they believe in and everything they say. It’s not that perfect, and that black and white. … He’s been one of the most solid guys that I’ve ever come across.”

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Video: Zhang Weili prefers fight against Valentina Shevchenko or Rose Namajunas over Joanna Jedrzejczyk

MMA Fighting

BOSTON — Backstage at UFC on ESPN 6, strawweight champion Zhang Weili talks about her recent visa issues, her thoughts on matchups with Valentina Shevchenko, Rose Namajunas, and Joanna Jedrzejczyk, not being aware of the conflict between the NBA and China, and more.

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Conor McGregor lashes out at Dana White’s comment that he’s no longer ‘the man’

It didn’t take long for Conor McGregor to offer up a response to his boss’s mild Friday takedown of him.

UFC president Dana White, ahead of Friday’s UFC on ESPN 6 card in Boston, told the Boston Globe that McGregor “isn’t the man anymore.” Instead, White said lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov, who happens to be McGregor’s fiercest rival carries that unofficial title.

“Khabib is the man now … so Khabib gets to sit back and call the shots,” White told the paper.

Saturday, McGregor fired off a response on Twitter taking aim at Nurmagomedov’s title defense in September at UFC 242, which took place in Abu Dhabi.

“Who’s not the man?” McGregor posted on Twitter. “Your man had that marquee event did he? More like an event in a marquee. A tent in the fucking sand it was. Keep spoofing to your self horse. Jock strap sniffer championships.”

McGregor’s social media response comes not long after the New York Times published a report saying the former two-division UFC champion is being investigated in his native Ireland for a second alleged sexual assault.

McGregor has not fought since a little more than a year ago, when Nurmagomedov submitted him in the fourth round at UFC 229. After his win, Nurmagomedov jumped over the cage and went after McGregor teammate Dillon Danis cageside, which set off a melee that wound up with both fighters suspended and fined by the Nevada Athletic Commission.

McGregor won the featherweight title in December 2015, but never defended it. Instead, he went after the lightweight belt and won it in November 2016. He never defended that title, either. He opted for a boxing match with Floyd Mayweather Jr. in August 2017 that paid him reportedly near $100 million.

The UFC 229 fight with Nurmagomedov is all he’s had since then, and though he announced on Twitter in March that he was retiring – the same day a report of a first sexual assault allegation in Ireland dropped – he has said he wants to come back, and who he’d like to fight.

But despite hints from White that things could be in the works for a McGregor return, nothing has come close to fruition. Earlier this week, White said a potential fight between McGregor and former lightweight champ Frankie Edgar wouldn’t happen, despite both fighters apparently wanting it.

Just about all the news McGregor has made since his loss to Nurmagomedov has been of the negative variety, and not fight-related. He has the two reported alleged sexual assault investigations in Ireland. He punched a man at a bar in Ireland and was caught on camera. He was caught on camera taking a man’s phone outside a hotel in Miami Beach, smashing it, then walking away with it. And the bad-boy image truly kicked off when he threw a hand truck through the window of a bus carrying UFC 223 fighters in Brooklyn, including Nurmagomedov, which truly ignited their rivalry.

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Joe Lauzon non-committal on retirement after UFC on ESPN 6 win, but Dana White pushing for it

Joe Lauzon | Thomas Lakes, MMA Fighting

If there’s one thing that Joe Lauzon and Dana White can agree on, it’s that his performance at UFC on ESPN 6 would be a hell of a high to go out on. It might also be a head-scratcher to keep on going.

Lauzon, the 43-fight veteran who has long been a proud representative of Massachusetts MMA, put on a vintage performance on Friday at TD Garden in Boston, tying Octagon newcomer Jonathan Pearce up on the mat and finishing him with a torrent of punches in the first round. Given Lauzon’s experience, and the fact that he entered the bout on a three-fight losing streak, there was a question of whether this could be the last time Lauzon made the walk to the Octagon.

According to White, the plan was for Lauzon to hang up the gloves regardless of the outcome, so he was as surprised as anyone when Lauzon declined to commit to a retirement at the evening’s post-fight press conference.

“Me and Joe Lauzon had a deal that he would retire after this fight, win, lose, or draw,” White said. “And he didn’t do it.”

“What better way to go out than tonight?” White continued. “He beat a real guy tonight. He beat a tough guy that I bet a lot of people didn’t think he was gonna beat and he made it look easy.

“This is one of those things when you’re talking to a guy who loves to fight like Joe Lauzon loves to fight and the Chuck Liddells and many, many more in the past that I’ve dealt with. It’s so hard to walk away – (they say) ‘I looked great tonight,’ and then if they lose, ‘Well, I can’t go out like this. Getting beat in my hometown in front of all my…’ It’s just…you know.”

Lauzon’s relationship with the UFC dates all the way back to UFC 63 in September 2006, when he picked up a shocking 48-second knockout of former lightweight champion Jens Pulver. He earned further exposure as a cast member on The Ultimate Fighter 5 before embarking on a lengthy UFC career. Friday marked his 27th Octagon appearance, the third-most among lightweights behind only Gleison Tibau (28) and Jim Miller (32).

In his last fight prior to UFC on ESPN 6, Lauzon lost via TKO (doctor stoppage) to Chris Gruetzmacher last April. He said he’d been in fight mode ever since while also enjoying a break from competition that lasted over 550 days, the longest time he’d ever taken off between bouts.

Lauzon admitted that it was emotional returning to action in his home state.

“I was definitely crying a little bit,” Lauzon said. “I was trying to keep it in as best I could. I try not to be all that emotional about stuff, I try to be a little stoic, but I was definitely feeling it.

“Even like, walking out before the fight, I was just looking around, we had all the people in the green shirts we printed up at my gym. I was feeling it. There’s so much that went into this. Usually you hear about, ‘Oh, it’s been eight or 10 weeks, it’s been really, really hard,’ (and) literally since April of last year I’ve been thinking about this.

“I was super unhappy with my last fight, and then since November, I’ve literally been in fight camp since last November. I’ve just been crushing it. Not complaining to anyone, just doing what I’m supposed to do, just silently going and torturing myself, just getting ready and then it finally was here. It was nice that it went so smoothly.”

Regarding concerns about his chin, Lauzon explained that he was never overly concerned outside of his TKO loss to Clay Guida in November 2017. Otherwise, he’s felt confident competing with the younger fighters at his gym, which includes several names on the UFC roster.

Lauzon didn’t mention whether or not he had spoken to White about retirement and kept the door open for another booking.

“It’s a great way to end it if that’s the end, for sure,” he said. “But we’ll kind of see how things go. I’m always going to be training, whether I’m cornering or helping out guys. We got a lot of guys that train at my gym now: Rob Font, Calvin Kattar, Mike Rodriguez, Peter Barrett, we’ve got a lot of guys that are always getting in for fights. So I’m in the gym with them all the time anyways.

“We’ll kind of see what happens. I’m not like, ‘This is definitely the last fight,’ but I’m also not saying I’m definitely going to do it again. Tonight was a great night, but I think too many guys kind of fall into the trap of like, they have a good fight, like ‘I’m back, here we go!’ I’m not there, but we’ll take it and we’ll see what happens. Maybe I fight in six months, maybe I fight in a year, maybe I’m done, who knows? I’m not going to commit to anything. I’ll stay in the USADA pool. I don’t mind. They come banging on my door every once in a while, no big deal. We’ll see what happens.”

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UFC Boston: Bonus Coverage

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Report: Conor McGregor investigated for second sexual assault allegation in Ireland

Conor McGregor once again is making international news – and not for a good reason.

According to a new report in The New York Times, McGregor is being investigated for a sexual assault in his home country of Ireland.

It is the second sexual assault investigation he is facing in Ireland. The first case first was reported by The Times in March. McGregor has not been charged in either case, though he was arrested in January for an alleged assault that took place in December 2018, questioned, and released pending the investigation – which is standard procedure in Ireland.

In the new allegation, The Times reports that a woman in her 20s was sexually assaulted outside a Dublin pub while in a vehicle this past week. The Times report says McGregor has not been charged or interviews by Irish police in the case.

“Conor McGregor is frequently the subject of rumors. He emphatically denies any report accusing him of sexual assault,” a McGregor publicist told The Times in a statement via email.

Ireland’s police force, the Garda, told The Times in a statement that investigations were proceeding and no arrests have been made.

Ireland’s laws don’t allow individuals charged with sexual assault or rape to be named until they are convicted. To get around issues of potential libel, news outlets in Ireland in both cases typically have referred to the suspect as a “well-known Irish sports star.”

The same day news of the first alleged sexual assault was reported by The Times in March, McGregor abruptly announced his retirement from MMA. But he has walked that back in recent months almost to the point of most forgetting it even happened.

Most recently, he started a campaign to fight former lightweight champion Frankie Edgar, but UFC president Dana White said that fight will not happen.

White has stayed largely mum on the first alleged sexual assault, though in August he said he was under the impression that it wasn’t McGregor.

“I know zero about that,” White said. “To be honest with you, the back-and-forth that I’ve had with him about that (is) that it’s not him, that it’s somebody else. So I don’t know.”

McGregor has been no stranger to brushes with the law in recent years. In April 2018, he showed up in Brooklyn at UFC 223, where rival Khabib Nurmagomedov was scheduled to fight. After being let into a back entrance to Barclays Center, McGregor and a crew of people went after a bus carrying UFC fighters, including Nurmagomedov and his camp. McGregor threw a hand truck through a bus window and left two fighters injured – and subsequently off that week’s event.

He wrapped up the criminal case from that infamous incident earlier this year with a plea deal to avoid jail time.

In March in Miami Beach, he was charged with strong-arm robbery and criminal mischief after he took a person’s phone outside a hotel and smashed it, then left with it. That case ultimately wound up with reduced charges, and a civil suit was dropped.

In April, McGregor was caught on video punching a man at a Dublin pub after he apparently rejected McGregor’s offer of a serving of his Proper Twelve whiskey brand. McGregor later did an interview with UFC broadcast partner ESPN and apologized for the incident, admitting it was him in the video.

McGregor’s rise to MMA superstardom was in full force when he became the first simultaneous two-division champion in UFC history in November 2016. He stopped Eddie Alvarez to win the lightweight title at Madison Square Garden in New York to add to the featherweight belt he won in December 2015 with a 13-second knockout of long-reigning champion Jose Aldo.

McGregor was stripped of the featherweight belt not long after he won the lightweight title so the UFC could move on with the division. Ultimately, he never defended the lightweight belt, either. Instead, he took a highly lucrative boxing match against undefeated champion Floyd Mayweather Jr. in August 2017 that reportedly was worth in the $100 million range for him.

After the infamous bus incident in Brooklyn, Nurmagomedov became the lightweight champion, which set up a fight with McGregor at UFC 229 in Las Vegas a little more than a year ago. After Nurmagomedov submitted McGregor in the fourth round, he jumped over the cage and went after McGregor teammate Dillon Danis cageside, which set off a melee that wound up with both fighters suspended and fined by the Nevada Athletic Commission.

But despite his lack of MMA fights the past three years, McGregor remains arguably the UFC’s most bankable star – even if people like White now admit that others, like Nurmagomedov, may be passing him by in the cage.

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Greg Hardy on UFC on ESPN 6 performance, inhaler that ‘helps me breathe just like you’

UFC Fight Night: Hardy v Sosoli

Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Wearing sunglasses and a dour expression, heavyweight Greg Hardy felt a little bit of deja vu after his UFC on ESPN 6 fight against Ben Sosoli.

Again, a night that was supposed to move him up the UFC ladder – and prove to the world he was more than a headline sideshow – had ended in controversy.

A Ventolin albuterol inhaler he used between rounds to curb what he said was lifelong exercise-induced asthma was, in fact, illegal. As a result, the UFC announced his lackluster win over Ben Sosoli was overturned to a no-contest.

“It clears the airway so I’m able to breathe,” Hardy said of the breathing aid. “It doesn’t help me breathe better. It helps me breathe just like you – pretty much evens the playing field.”

Hardy thought he’d been cleared by the Massachusetts State Athletic Commission and the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency – which he embraced “so that y’all know that I’m not taking steroids, and I’m just naturally a monster” – only to hear his win had been nullified.

”I’m just worried about what my boss thinks,” said Hardy, who was disqualified from his octagon debut for an illegal knee. “The worst part for me is, here I am letting people down again. It’s a sucky feeling, dude.”

The boss, UFC President Dana White, was incredulous that Hardy, his corner and coach Din Thomas, or an MSAC inspector that allegedly approved the inhaler, could ever think that anything other than water would be OK to ingest during the fight.

“His corner, they’ve got to know you can’t use an inhaler in the corner,” White said. “They should know that. Shouldn’t even be a question.”

Since his entry into the UFC, Hardy has promoted himself as a company man, so another drama-filled ending muted most of the pride in his performance against Sosoli.

”The first 15-minute rounds that I’ve ever done,” he said. “I just fought more time than I’ve ever fought my whole entire career, and we’re sitting here talking about an inhaler that I’ve used my whole entire life. That’s a crappy feeling, dude.

”I never want to take away from the UFC brand. I never want to take away from anybody’s shine, and I think that’s what’s happening, and I’m not OK with it.”

While the win he initially earned quickly slipped through his fingers, Hardy wasn’t sure where he stood with White. But maybe those sunglasses were rose-colored, because he suggested the whole thing might just blow over.

”I’m a worker,” he said. “I’m supposed to do my job. I’m not sure if I did yet. So until that comes down, the crowd’s out. I hope that he can forgive me and look over it and be happy with the show I put on. I hope everything in retrospect turns out to be one of the best shows Boston has ever seen.”

It wasn’t, if the audience’s response could be interpreted as anything other than a verbal thumbs-down. Always planning his next move, Hardy vowed to work out that problem.

”I hate when people boo,” he said. “I hate when people want action and I can’t give it to them. So we’re going to analyze and figure out how to pick the pace up intelligently, instead of going out there all wild.”

Hardy praised Sosoli’s toughness and said he’d been hit harder than any of his previous fights. That wasn’t hard to imagine given that most of them ended inside one round. Just the fact that the bout went the distance was something of a victory for Hardy.

A newcomer who’s been a lightning rod for criticism from the moment he’s stepped into the octagon, the former NFLer resolved to stay somewhat positive.

”Tonight, what I take out of it was this was a great process for me,” he said. “I got to move around, I got to go through 15 minutes and experience and show a lot of people that, hey, we had a plan. We stuck to the plan. I’m an educated fighter, and I’m learning faster than anyone else in the business.

”I’m super proud of my team. I’m happy all around with the performance. I’m ready to watch the film and get better. I’m still a rookie, so more to fix. More to analyze.”

View full post on MMA Fighting – All Posts

Greg Hardy Aiming to KO Derrick Lewis, Francis Ngannou & Stipe Miocic on Title Path

Greg Hardy returns to the Octagon when he faces off against Aussie Ben Sosoli at UFC on ESPN 6, with the former NFL star claiming he’ll one day become the heavyweight champ. View full post on Recent News on Sherdog.com

Greg Hardy ‘super sad’ after inhaler use overturns UFC Boston win; Dana White blames corner


Wherever Greg Hardy goes, controversy seems to follow. Things were no different Friday at UFC on ESPN 6.

Hardy (5-1 MMA, 2-1 UFC) pulled off what was seemingly a first in UFC history when, between the second and third round of his heavyweight fight with Ben Sosoli, he used an inhaler. The former NFL standout went on to a unanimous decision win, but there was immediate outrage and questions after what transpired..

Once the event, which took place at TD Garden in Boston, came to a conclusion, the UFC announced Hardy’s win had been overturned to a no contest due to the inhaler use. Hardy believes he did nothing wrong because he asked a Massachusetts State Athletic Commission official in the octagon if he could use the inhaler, citing U.S. Anti-Doping Agency approval.

That ultimately proved false, with Hardy’s victory being changed to a no contest, much to his dismay.

“(I’m) super sad,” Hardy told reporters, including MMA Junkie, post-fight at UFC on ESPN 6. “It’s a ventolin albuterol inhaler for exercise-induced asthma. I used it my whole life. I sign the commission paperwork when I weighed in. It’s on the USADA paperwork when I take every single drug test so that y’all know that I’m not taking steroids. I’m just naturally a monster.”

UFC president Dana White was at a loss for words over the entire situation. He understands how it unfolded when watching the footage back, but he put the onus on Hardy’s chief corner, Din Thomas from American Top Team, for not having awareness that use of the inhaler would be illegal.

“I think if you watch it you can understand how it happened,” White said. “But he asked the guy, and the guy said, ‘Is it medically approved?’ And he said, ‘It’s USADA approved.’ Because he put it down on his sheet that he was using an inhaler, and they knew he used an inhaler. So it’s crazy.

“I don’t even know what to say. First of all: Din Thomas … come on, Din. You’ve been in this game forever. His corner, they’ve got to know you can’t use an inhaler in the corner. They should know that. Shouldn’t even be a question. You can drink water. It’s pretty simple. Gatorade in some states.”

Hardy reiterated that he did not intend to break rules by using the inhaler mid-fight. He believed at the time that it was legitimate and attempted to clarify that, even though the inhaler gave him no performance advantage.

“You have complete control of your diaphragm and your lungs (when using the inhaler),” Hardy said. “They can expand and contract normally. Mine do not. They inflame. It restricts the breathing and airflow. I’m sure a lot of people out here have kids with asthma. You can’t leave them alone, or they’ll die. So it literally just clears the airway so I am able to breath. It’s not so I can breath better. It helps me breath just like you, which evens the playing field.”

Hardy ultimately was most frustrated with being caught up in another controversy that took away from his performance, which he believes went well against Sosoli, going three rounds for the first time and taking “the most and the hardest” shots of his MMA career thus far.

Nevertheless, Hardy said he intends to keep moving forward with a positive attitude.

“The worst part is, here I am letting people down again,” Hardy said. “It’s a sucky feeling. All I’m trying to do is – we had a conversation before the fight, I’m doing everything I’m supposed to be doing. I asked permission, they told me I could, and I’m in trouble again. My mind’s on just make sure everyone is happy, making sure everything is cool because it’s a crappy feeling. Everything is about my inhaler instead of me watching a sweet (Chris) Weidman knockout from my boy (Dominick Reyes). Same as any other situation: I’m worried about my team.

“I just fought more time than I’ve ever fought in my whole entire career, and we’re sitting here talking about an inhaler that I’ve used my whole entire life. That’s a crappy feeling, dude. I never want to take away from the UFC brand. I never want to take away from anybody, and I feel like that’s what’s happening, and I’m not OK with that.”

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UFC on ESPN 6 post-fight show

Yair Rodriguez and Jeremy Stephens | Thomas Lakes, MMA Fighting

BOSTON — With UFC on ESPN 6 in the books, MMA Fighting’s Jose Youngs and FloCombat’s Mike Heck break down the top storylines from an action-packed night in Massachusetts.

View full post on MMA Fighting – All Posts

Retirement Watch: Luke Rockhold Declares He Has ‘No Interest in Fighting Now’

Former Ultimate Fighting Championship middleweight champion Luke Rockhold may be set to hang up his gloves after declaring he has no interest in fighting following another knockout loss, this time to Jan Blachowicz back in July. View full post on Recent News on Sherdog.com

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