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‘The Ultimate Fighter 28: Heavy Hitters’ Episode 10 recap

Episode 10 of “The Ultimate Fighter 28: Heavy Hitters” opens with controversial Team Gastelum team member Maurice Green starting his day with a few cigarettes to help himself relax. He knows the negative impacts smoking has on fighting career but said he’s been doing it for a long time.

Team Gastelum’s Justin Frazier talks to Greene about his struggles in the competition that have included multiple drunken confrontations with his fellow cast members. Greene breaks down and becomes emotional over his behavior throughout the competition and said it’s been a much more difficult process than anticipated.

Greene visits The Ultimate Fighter Gym, where he meets with head coach Kelvin Gastelum and some of the assistant coaching staff. Coach Gastelum believes Greene has no shortage of potential and could make the heavyweight tournament final, but says he’s not pleased with how the fighter has conducted himself and urges him to get back on track.

The Team Gastelum coaching staff then force Greene to do some “childish” training exercises, but believe they will be effective in adjusting Greene’s mindset for the final stretch of the competition.

Focus shifts to Team Whittaker’s Julija Stoliarenko, who meets Team Gastelum’s Pannie Kianzad in the first women’s featherweight semifinal matchup later in the episode.

Stoliarenko says she is very confident in the matchup because she’s been watching Kianzad fight under the Invicta FC banner multiple times and is quite familiar with her style. Head coach Robert Whittaker believes it’s a competitive fight on paper but says Stoliarenko offensive pressure is going to be key in overwhelming her opponent.

Later, the athletes from both teams are freed from the typical confines of the competition and taken to a local water park in Las Vegas for some fun in the sun. Afterward, all the athletes visit a local sushi restaurant where they indulge in a massive meal.

At the official weigh-in, Stoliarenko (145 pounds) and Kianzad (145 pounds) make the women’s featherweight limit, and their semifinal matchup is set. A tense staredown between athletes follows.

The next day, Stoliarenko and Kianzad return to the TUF Gym for their fight. They finalize preparations with the coaches in the locker room before heading to the octagon to compete.

TEAM WHITTAKER’S JULIJA STOLIARENKO (4-2-1) VS. TEAM GASTELUM’S PANNIE KIANZAD (9-3)

Round 1 – Stoliarenko opens with a hard inside leg kick. She follows with another shortly after. Kianzad tags her with a counter left hook, but Stoliarenko answers with another kick. Stoliarenko shoots a terrible takedown and Kianzad easily sidesteps it. Stoliarenko continues to pound the inside leg of her opponent while Kianzad is finding a consistent home for her counters. Kianzad lands a leg kick of her own and is looking comfortable in the striking exchanges. Moments after, she eats a short left hook from Stoliarenko. Kianzad is now the one landing the more powerful leg kicks and Stoliarenko is struggling to get her offense going. Stoliarenko steps inside with a combination before she changes levels and shoots for a takedown with just over a minute left. Kianzad denies the entry but is forced to defend against the fence. She lands a slick elbow over the top on Stoliarenko, who adjusts and eventually circles out of the clinch. Kianzad lands a left hand that snaps Stoliarenko back in what’s arguably the most significant strike of the round.

Round 2 – Stoliarenko goes back to her leg kicks to begin the round, but Kianzad is ready to answer with her own. Stoliarenko pops her opponent with the jab, and Kianzad tries to answer by rushing in with multi-strike combinations. He range is just off the mark, though, and Stoliarenko is smiling every time a clean shot comes close. Kianzad is getting hit as she moves inside, but she won’t relent with her pressure game. Kianzad comes in with a huge left hook that lands hard on the chin, and Stoliarenko goes down to a knee. She quickly pops up and decides to shoot for a takedown. Kianzad, who is bleeding out of the left side of her face, stops the takedown attempt and gets back into striking range. Kianzad comes over the top with a nice punch, followed by another one. Stoliarenko shoots for another takedown, but Kianzad isn’t having it. She lands another high left hand, and Stoliarenko is beginning to take a lot of punches to the face, and it’s stagnating her offense. She ducks under another one of Kianzad’s punches in hopes of a takedown but once again fails to finish it. Kianzad is loading up with heavy punches and wobbles Stoliarenko with a combination. Kianzad just misses with a potentially devastating head kick but closes out the round by continuing to find a phone for her punches.

Round 3 – Stoliarenko goes for a high kick to begin the round, but Kianzad avoids it before stepping in with a nice punch. Both women are wearing the damage of the fight, but Kianzad is determined to keep moving forward and put pressure on her opponent. Stoliarenko is circling and trying to counter, but Kianzad has the better sense of range, and it’s causing all sorts of problems for Stoliarenko. Kianzad is bobbing and weaving to the inside and tagging Stoliarenko with more punches. There’s not a ton on them so deep in the fight. Stoliarenko shoots for another takedown, but Kianzad shuts it down, then lands a knee and a punch from the clinch. Kianzad lands another big left hand off a failed takedown attempt, and she is very much in the groove against a frustrated Stoliarenko, who is trying to do whatever she can to alter the momentum of the contest. Kianzad lands a slapping left hand with about one minute remaining and follows up with a right over the top. Stoliarenko makes one final attempt to drag the fight to the mat, but Kianzad makes her pay with even more punches before the final bell.

Pannie Kianzad def. Julija Stoliarenko via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)

“I knew she wanted to take me down, but I am in way better condition and I was ready for it,” Kianzad says of her performance. “I wanted to keep the fight standing. My nose was bleeding, but for me it is just one of those things when it starts bleeding it just doesn’t stop! But I knew she couldn’t hang with me standing-wise. I am so proud of Team Kelvin and I love everything about training with them. I am going to give the rest of training my all and do everything in my power to be the next Ultimate Fighter.”

With the victory, Kianzad becomes the first to advance to the women’s featherweight final, where she will face the winner of Macy Chiasson vs. Leah Letson.

Once the aftermath of Kianzad vs. Stoliarenko wraps up, the scene is set for the next tournament semifinal, this time in the heavyweight bracket. Team Whittaker’s Juan Francisco Espino Diepa meets Team Gastelum’s Greene.
Also see:

Catch new episodes of “The Ultimate Fighter 28: Heavy Hitters” every Wednesday at 10 p.m. ET (7 p.m. PT) on FS1. MMAjunkie recaps each episode of the reality series.

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The Ultimate Fighter 28, Episode 10 results: Stoliarenko vs. Kianzad

Julija Stoliarenko faces off with Pannie Kianzad on <em>The Ultimate Fighter 28</em>

Pannie Kianzad’s has succeeded in her quest to become the first female fighter from Iran to compete in the UFC.

The former Invicta standout claimed the first spot in The Ultimate Fighter 28 featherweight finals with a unanimous decision win over Julija Stoliarenko on episode 10 of the season. Kianzad earned a 29-28 and a pair of 30-27 scores after an entertaining striking battle with Stoliarenko.

For her part, Stoliarenko was hoping to become the first Lithuanian fighter to make the walk to the Octagon, which may still be a possibility when the season finale card rolls around.

Unsurprisingly, the plan was for the submission-minded Stoliarenko to use her striking to set up takedowns and then search for her signature armbar, a technique that earned her three consecutive first-round finishes in her most recent pro bouts before filming TUF. While she did have some success on the feet, especially when it came to counter-punching, the takedowns never materialized and Kianzad was able to defend every shot attempt.

After a close first round, Kianzad began to pull away in the second, badly bloodying and bruising Stoliarenko, who continued to press forward with a smile on her face. Kianzad found her rhythm and staggered Stoliarenko with a 1-2 combo, which turned out to be the most significant sequence of the bout.

Round three was more of the same as Kianzad continued to land combinations and avoid takedowns. Despite a spirited effort from Stoliarenko, she could not keep up with Kianzad’s output.

With the win, Kianzad joined heavyweight teammate Justin Frazier in representing coach Kelvin Gastelum in the finals, which are set to take place at The Ultimate Fighter 28 Finale on Nov. 30 in Las Vegas. The next two episodes of the show will reveal who meets them for the chance to become the TUF 28 tournament champion. So far, coach Robert Whittaker is without a representative.

In other storylines, Maurice Greene started smoking cigarettes to relieve some of the stress of the house and he expressed regret over his drinking, a problem that he said has plagued his family. Gastelum and his coaching staff forced Greene to go through re-focus drills to get him back on track.

The teams were also given a day to hang out at a water park and later during a sushi dinner, Katharine Lehner and Ben Sosoli teamed up to tackle Whittaker’s “$50-eat-a-wasabi-and-ginger-sandwich” challenge.

Here are the semifinal matchups and results so far:

Heavyweight

Justin Frazier def. Michel Batista via TKO (punches) in round one

Juan Espino vs. Maurice Greene

Featherweight

Pannie Kianzad def. Julija Stoliarenko via unanimous decision

Macy Chiasson vs. Leah Letson

Here are the complete first-round results:

Maurice Greene def. Przemyslaw Mysiala via KO (uppercut) in round one

Pannie Kianzad def. Katharina Lehner via unanimous decision

Justin Frazier def. Anderson da Silva via unanimous decision

Julija Stoliarenko def. Marciea Allen via submission (armbar) in round one

Michel Batista def. Josh Parisian via TKO (ground and pound) in round two

Leah Letson def. Bea Malecki via unanimous decision

Juan Espino def. Ben Sosoli via unanimous decision

Macy Chiasson def. Larissa Pacheco via first-round TKO (ground and pound)

On next week’s episode, Team Whittaker’s Juan Espino fights Team Gastelum’s Maurice Greene in a heavyweight semifinal bout for the right to meet Justin Frazier at the finale.


Season 28 of The Ultimate Fighter is being coached by UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker and top contender Kelvin Gastelum. Gastelum will challenge Whittaker for the middleweight title at UFC 234 on Feb. 10 at Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne, Australia.

The finalists of the TUF 28 heavyweight and featherweight tournaments will compete for a six-figure UFC contract at The Ultimate Fighter 28 Finale on Nov. 30 in Las Vegas.

Here is the TUF 28 roster divided by team:

Team Gastelum

Heavyweights
Justin Frazier
Maurice Greene
Josh Parisian
Ben Sosoli

Featherweights
Marciea Allen
Macy Chiasson
Pannie Kianzad
Bea Malecki

Team Whittaker

Heavyweights
Michel Batista
Juan Espino
Przemyslaw Mysiala
Anderson da Silva

Featherweights
Katharina Lehner
Leah Letson
Larissa Pacheco
Julija Stoliarenko

Advancing to the finals: Frazier, Kianzad

Advancing to Round 2: Greene, Kianzad, Frazier, Stoliarenko, Batista, Letson, Espino, Chiasson

Eliminated: Mysiala, Lehner, Da Silva, Allen, Parisian, Malecki, Sosoli, Pacheco

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UFC Fight Night Denver Draws 840,000 Viewers to Fox Sports 1 for 25th Anniversary Card

UFC Fight Night 139 drew the promotion’s best ratings in nearly six months, as 840,000 viewers tuned in to Fox Sports 1 watch the evening’s main card, according to ShowBuzz Daily. View full post on Recent News on Sherdog.com

The Ultimate Fighter: Heavy Hitters

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Sergio Pettis explains decision to return to bantamweight, where ‘I can just be myself’

MILWAUKEE, Wis. – Sergio Pettis could keep making the flyweight limit if he wanted to, but he believes he’s got the skills to make it at the bantamweight division where he started his octagon run.

Pettis’ (17-4 MMA, 8-4 UFC) decision to move back up was first announced by his coach, Duke Roufus, after a UFC 229 loss to flyweight contender Jussier Formiga. Shortly after, the UFC confirmed a 135-pound matchup between Pettis and Rob Font (15-4 MMA, 5-3 UFC) at UFC on FOX 31, at Pettis’ hometown of Milwaukee.

That was in early October, meaning former UFC champion Demetrious Johnson had yet to be “traded” with ONE Championship’s Ben Askren. And, of course, reports of the UFC’s trimming down of its flyweight roster had yet to start circulating.

UFC president Dana White won’t specifically say that they’re shutting flyweight down, but amid talks of pink slips being handed out, it’s an interesting time to be departing the shaken-up division.

Speaking to reporters, including MMAjunkie, at a recent UFC on FOX 31 media day, Pettis talked about the circumstances around his decision to move back up.

“Obviously, I heard the rumors and I didn’t want to fight outside the UFC – I love the UFC,” Pettis said. “I’ve been with them for the past five years. I thought it was time to go back to 135, honestly. Just the way my body is growing. I’m 25 years old now. I might not be growing taller, but sideways, man, I’m getting bigger.

“The weight cut at 125 wasn’t hard, but that’s because I’m a strict athlete. I made it easy on myself. I could fight at 125 if I want to, but I also can fight at 135. I have the skillset to fight at 135. And I think it’s time. I don’t need to do these hard weight cuts anymore. I think I can just be myself.”

Pettis has shown that he can hang with heavier competition, having gone 3-1 in his early bantamweight run. It was at flyweight, though, that the UFC’s youngest Pettis brother came closest to title contention, going on a four-fight winning streak before the division’s current champ, Henry Cejudo, halted his momentum.

Pettis went 1-1 after that, beating multiple-time title challenger Joseph Benavidez via split decision before Formiga stopped him via unanimous decision. The fight in front of his home fans will mean a quick turnaround for Pettis, less than two months after the setback.

Font, in turn, comes off a losing effort against Raphael Assuncao. While he gone 3-3 in his past six, it’s worth noting that the setbacks were only to proven competitors in longtime 135-pound contender Assuncao, as well as stand-outs Pedro Munhoz and John Lineker.

With big finish wins over Thomas Almeida and Douglas Andrade in his record, the gritty Font is generally viewed as a stiff test for any bantamweight. And while that group includes Pettis, he welcomes the type of challenge that Font provides.

“I’m expecting a war,” Pettis said. “I know Rob Font is a tough athlete. He’s going to come at me, he’s going to try to knock me out. He’s not going to hold back. Especially, moving up a weight class. He’s going to think he has the size advantage and use that against me. But I fight so much better when people are pressing me and people are trying to actually bring the fight to me. It brings out the better me.”

To hear from Pettis, check out the video above.

And for more on UFC on FOX 31, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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Guido Cannetti UFC Argentina open workout highlights

BUENOS AIRES — At the UFC Argentina open workouts, Guido Cannetti worked out with young fans ahead of his main card fight against Marlon Vera.

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UFC Fight Night Denver Medical Suspensions: Yair Rodriguez Facing Potential 180-Day Layoff

Yair Rodriguez is facing a potential 180-day layoff following his memorable battle with Chan Sung Jung at UFC Fight Night 139 in Denver. View full post on Recent News on Sherdog.com

Elkins: “I’m The Guy That Doesn’t Quit”

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Israel Adesanya has ‘business’ meeting with UFC President Dana White in Australia

Israel Adesanya had the chance to sit down with UFC President Dana White this week in Australia, and he’s teasing big things on the horizon.

Following his scintillating first-round knockout victory over Derek Brunson at UFC 230 earlier this month, Adesanya (15-0 MMA, 4-0 UFC) said he wanted to have a sit-down with the UFC boss to discuss his future plans and hopes for the next middleweight title shot.

White happened to be in Australia this week to help promote February’s UFC 234 event in Melbourne, and it’s not a long trip from New Zealand, where Adesanya resides. “Stylebender” made the trip over to Sydney and was able to meet with White. Afterward, he put out a bit of a teaser (via Instagram):

Instagram Photo

“Dana and I were never friends.” 😂😂😂
After discussing business I held court alongside Dana in a meeting and maaaan…the man is still going strong with his plans. Even hearing the story of the ups and downs of the @ufc again but straight from the horses mouth, (expletive) was inspiring!! Stay tuned…
#withouthimnoneofthiswouldbepossible #pinkyandthebrain #crazymoney

White has expressed nothing but high praise for Adesanya, who is No. 8 in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA middleweight rankings. He thinks the former kickboxing standout can have a bright future, and further expressed that position when discussing Adesanya with news.com.au while in Australia.

“He is amazing, incredibly talented, his technique is perfect,” White said. “He’s been on a run. Good looking kid and speaks really well. He’s got the whole package.

For complete coverage of UFC 230, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

The Blue Corner is MMAjunkie’s blog space. We don’t take it overly seriously, and neither should you. If you come complaining to us that something you read here is not hard-hitting news, expect to have the previous sentence repeated in ALL CAPS.

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Emmanuel Sanchez credits last loss for putting him on path to Bellator 209 title shot

Emmanuel Sanchez (pictured) challenges Patricio “Pitbull” Freire for the featherweight title at Bellator 209 on Thursday in Tel Aviv, Israel

The first split-decision loss of Emmanuel Sanchez’s career may have been the catalyst for his transformation into a world title contender.

It’s not as if Sanchez wasn’t already making waves in Bellator’s featherweight division. He won six of his first seven fights for the promotion, with his lone loss coming at the hands of two-time champion Pat Curran, and looked to be one or two victories away from a title shot before running into Daniel Weichel in July 2016.

Sanchez went on to lose a split decision to Weichel at Bellator 159, a judgment that he disputes, but has learned to live with. After all, Sanchez was on the winning end of three consecutive split calls himself, and though he truly believes he beat Weichel, he realizes now that something had to give.

His next four fights saw him defeat former World Series of Fighting champion Georgi Karakhanyan, former Bellator bantamweight champion Marcos Galvao, former Bellator featherweight champion Daniel Straus, and 12-fight UFC veteran Sam Sicilia. Sanchez actually managed to submit both Straus and Sicilia, and those convincing finishes propelled him to his first title shot and first headlining spot in Bellator.

Sanchez challenges Patricio “Pitbull” Freire for the featherweight championship Thursday in the main event of Bellator 209 in Tel Aviv, Israel, and it’s an opportunity that may never have come about if the loss to Weichel didn’t force him to step up his game.

“I think a big jump was after losing to Daniel Weichel, another split decision,” Sanchez told MMA Fighting. “Looking back on it, I’m glad I lost to Daniel Weichel. I don’t believe I lost to him, I truly, wholeheartedly believe I beat him and he knows I beat him. But I’m glad the judges gave it to him because had I won another split decision I probably would have been doing the same thing and had the same mindset, same mentality. Also, who the hell wants to set the record for most split decisions? That’s a bunch of bulls**t.

“After that loss, I had to really re-think things, look back and watch myself, and have a big, major change.”

Though he didn’t get into specifics as far as what needed to be changed, Sanchez said he had to “take out the weeds” and suggested that some of the trappings of fame and success were having a negative effect on his fighting career. Coincidentally, Sanchez just celebrated the 10th anniversary of that career earlier this month.

Sanchez recalled taking his first amateur bout on Nov. 1, 2008, which he won by unanimous decision. Even as his hand was being raised, Sanchez was hoping that the judges would give him two more rounds to work, that’s how enamored he was with the sport at the time. He turned pro three years later, also in November, and though he started off with an 8-1 record before joining Bellator in 2014, Sanchez realizes that his reach was always exceeding his grasp until now.

“I wanted to be world champion at 21, who doesn’t,” said Sanchez. “Who doesn’t want to be the youngest champ to ever do it? Youngest, best guy out there to ever do it. But I’ll stand here and tell you that I was not ready for it then. I thought I was. Everyone thinks they are, you want it that bad, you have that desire and that passion, but I know I wasn’t ready for it.

“I wasn’t ready for the limelight, wasn’t ready for the money, wasn’t ready for any of that stuff back then. Now, almost 30 years old, I just turned 28, I can honestly say that I believe I’m ready for it. It’s taken this long to make it happen, for all of it to come to fruition, what a blessing.”

After defeating Sicilia in April, Sanchez was in prime position to get the next featherweight title shot, but he had to wait on the result of the “Pitbull” vs. Weichel rematch at Bellator 203. Freire retained, and though Sanchez would love to get the Weichel fight back, he believes his fight with Freire is one fans have wanted to see for a while.

Sanchez is hoping that a championship win leads to more title fights overseas (Bellator 209 marks his first time competing outside of the United States) and maybe even a boost to his Q-Rating. Currently honing his talents at Roufusport in Milwaukee, Sanchez didn’t shy away from the possibility of someday following in the footsteps of teammate and current UFC commentator Paul Felder when asked if he’d consider a career in broadcasting when his fighting days are done.

“Maybe I should, in Portuguese or Spanish, because I study a lot and I watch a lot of MMA in Portuguese or in Brazil, and a lot of Spanish boxing and MMA. I would love to,” said Sanchez. “I think I have the charisma and I’m animated, I don’t think I’m too ugly for TV and screen time — too beat up I should say, from fighting. But yeah, that’s something my coach says too. Having the charisma, having the attitude, being able to be in front of the camera, having the microphone on you. For me, that’s how I’ve always been. …

“Yeah, in the future I should talk to Paul because that is something that I wouldn’t mind doing as a guest or eventually being able to do it full time. Something to have after fighting, for sure.”

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UFC Veteran Cody McKenzie Handed 4-Year Suspension for Submitting Fake Urine Sample

Cody McKenzie tried to pull a fast one before his most recent scheduled bout, and now the former UFC talent has to suffer the consequences. View full post on Recent News on Sherdog.com

25 Years – The Knockouts – Part 3

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Photos: Bellator 209 weigh-ins

Check out the photos from today’s Bellator 209’s official weigh-ins and face-offs in Tel Aviv, Israel (Photos by Bellator MMA).

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Sean O’Malley receives six-month NAC suspension for failed drug test

Sean O’Malley

Sean O’Malley could be back in action in the first quarter of 2019.

On Wednesday, the Nevada Athletic Commission voted to give the 24-year-old fighter a reduced suspension of six months retroactive to Oct. 6 (the date of O’Malley’s last scheduled fight) for a potential United States Anti-Doping violation that O’Malley initially announced himself via social media. It was agreed upon that O’Malley “[took] responsibility for the adverse analytical findings.”

According to that ruling, O’Malley will be eligible to compete again on March 6, 2019; however, he could still face a maximum suspension of two years from USADA.

O’Malley was also ordered to pay $472.42 in legal fees.

It was O’Malley who broke the news that he was under investigation, following USADA recently changing policy in regards to the public disclosure of potential violations. Unlike in the past, flagged athletes will only be identified after the conclusion of the adjudication process.

Soon after the news surfaced, O’Malley told ESPN that he tested positive for a low dose of ostarine, a performance-enhancing drug. He added that he believed the banned substance entered his system via a tainted supplement.

O’Malley, 24, is 10-0 in his MMA career so far with two of those wins coming inside of the Octagon. After earning a Dana White’s Tuesday Contender’s Series contract in July of last year with a first-round knockout of Alfred Khashakyan, “Sugar” went on to pick up a pair of unanimous decision wins over Terrion Ware and Andre Soukhamthath.

His next bout was to be in Las Vegas against Jose Quinonez at UFC 229 in October, but that fight was canceled as a result of O’Malley’s positive test.

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NSAC Extends Temporary Suspensions for Those Involved in UFC 229 Post-Fight Brawl

Those involved in the post-fight melee following the UFC 229 headliner could have their fates decided in December by the Nevada State Athletic Commission. View full post on Recent News on Sherdog.com

Rountree Wants To Be Watched, Remembered For The Right Reasons

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RDX Boxing MMA Gloves UFC Sparring Grappling Training Punching Fightin

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Bellator 210 headliner Chidi Njokuni ‘staying away from 170’ after big cuts caused potentially permanent damage

At 6-foot-3, Chidi Njokuani says his days as a welterweight are done.

After a few high-profile misses under the Bellator banner, Njokuani believes he may have suffered permanent damage due to cutting weight and refuses to deal with it ever again.

“Tired of taking 20 percent – that hurt,” Njokuani recently told MMAjunkie Radio. “Physically, man, it took a big toll on me. My body won’t ever be the same. My insides, like, everything just feels different now. Even my voice, I think I might have damaged my vocal cords.

“I did like two big cuts back-to-back in the same month, and ever since then, my voice hasn’t been the same. I’m done trying to make that cut. It ain’t even worth it.”

Fighting professionally since 2007, Njokuani has had a few weight misses along the way but always assumed the welterweight division was his proper home. But after he struggled to even make 175-pound catchweight limits in a few recent appearances, Njokuani said he was forced to evaluate whether or not it made sense to keep pushing his luck.

He consulted doctors, who said he may have developed lymph nodes, and Njokuani was certain the complications came from his hard weight cuts.

“My theory came from that because every time I cut weight, I lose my voice,” Njokuani said. “I know when I’m about under 180 because my voice starts to go. The second time I did that big cut in a month, my voice never came back, so I was like, ‘Yeah, it must have had something to do with that cut.’”

Njokuani (18-5 MMA, 5-1 BMMA) made his Bellator middleweight debut in December, picking up a unanimous decision over Hiasaki Kato. He returns to action later this month against John Salter (15-4 MMA, 5-1 BMMA) in the main event of Bellator 210, which takes place Nov. 30 at WinStar World Casino and Resort in Thackerville, Okla.

Njokuani was originally expected to face Melvin Manhoef on the card, but the Dutch striker was forced to withdraw, and in stepped a grappling standout, instead.

“It’s a whole different fight,” Njokuani said. “They’re not even the same – not even a little bit.

“We trained like six weeks straight for a 5-foot-8 brawler, and we got switched to a 6-foot-something southpaw jiu-jitsu guy.”

It’s a huge change, indeed, but Njokuani said it’s not an impossible task. But ever returning to welterweight? That’s a different story.

“I’m staying away from 170,” Njokuani said.

Check out the video above to hear more from Njokuani.

For more on Bellator 210, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

MMAjunkie Radio broadcasts Monday-Friday at 1 p.m. ET (10 a.m. PT) live from Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino’s Race & Sports Book. The show is hosted by “Gorgeous” George Garcia, Brian “Goze” Garcia and Dan Tom. For more information or to download past episodes, go to www.mmajunkie.com/radio.

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