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Jon Fitch has conditions if he returns to career that is ‘not even a sport anymore’

Jon Fitch may or may not fight again, and either outcome is fine with him.

The former UFC title challenger and current Bellator welterweight contender stands at a crossroads in his fighting career. Fitch (32-7-2 MMA, 1-0-1 BMMA) has been fighting some of the best in the world since 2002. And at this point in his career, the 42-year-old needs certain conditions in order to continue fighting professionally.

“If they offer me more than what I’m currently contracted for, I would fight anybody. But otherwise, a title eliminator or the title – that’s what would do it,” Fitch told MMA Junkie.

Fitch hasn’t competed since April 2019, when he fought to a draw against then-Bellator welterweight champion Rory MacDonald in the company’s 170-pound grand prix.

The seasoned veteran said he hasn’t been offered fights since his last bout. He hinted at retirement after the draw, but he’s spoken to his management team about wanting a big fight or pay increase if he is to return to the Bellator cage.

The thought of retirement is not a new development for Fitch. He’s been thinking about walking away for some time after frustrations with the sport, health concerns, other factors have come together in the last few years.

“I’ve been thinking about retirement for a while because the body is beat up and the money is not there,” Fitch said. “I’ve been doing this 17 years and it’s not the sport I thought it was going to be. It’s not even a sport anymore.

“It’s pro wrestling without the pre-determined outcome. So it’s a frustrating thing to be bound to these promoters. You never know when you’re going to fight, or if you’re going to get a fight, or if it’s good fight. There’s no merit system at all – it’s all about entertainment. They’re just putting on a show. It’s a show.

“It’s not a sport, and that’s really frustrating to deal with. That, paired with physical issues – I have kids now, so if the fights are not really appealing, it’s not worth doing. It’s not worth getting into training camp and breaking down my body for the amount of money that we’re making. There’s other jobs you can do and get by and not get brain damage.

“I’ve being doing this for so long that if it’s not a main event fight and it’s not for a title or title eliminator, it doesn’t really make sense.”

Fitch is unbeaten in his past six bouts with victories over notable names like Jake Shields, Paul Daley and Yushin Okami. He said he has three fights left on his Bellator contract.

With the coronavirus pandemic canceling most major sports around the globe, including several Bellator events, it’s unclear when fighting will resume for athletes and whether or not Fitch will compete again.

If this is the end of Fitch’s career, there would be plenty to reminisce and look back on. However, there are two moments he looks at more fondly than others.

“The whole process of the (Georges St-Pierre) fight was pretty awesome – the whole training camp, and the fight it self,” Fitch said. “Also, the Erick Silva fight was pretty great in Brazil. It was something where the UFC was trying to get rid of me. He was a rising star, I was coming off a hard loss, and they wanted me to lose again and then re-sign me for half as much. That was their plan.”

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UFC full fight video: Watch Amanda Nunes’ debut against Sheila Gaff

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Watch Amanda Nunes vs. Sheila Gaff full fight video to see the reigning UFC women’s bantamweight and featherweight champion make her first walk to the Octagon at UFC 163 on Aug. 3, 2013 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

“The Lioness” took her first step towards history with a vicious flurry of elbows on the ground to pick up a first-round TKO win over Gaff.

Nunes has gone on to become arguably the greatest fighter in the history of women’s MMA and captured her first UFC title with a first-round submission win over Miesha Tate at UFC 200.

Following three successful title defenses — including a 48-second finish of Ronda Rousey at UFC 206 — Nunes became the first woman to hold titles in two different weight classes after finishing Cris Cyborg in under a minute at UFC 232 in December 2018. Finalize

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Unfiltered Episode 381: Henry Cejudo and Gilbert Burns

On today’s episode of UFC Unfiltered: Henry Cejudo and Gilbert Burns

Read the Full Article Here View full post on UFC News

Inside look: Alistair Overeem moments before Jairzinho Rozenstruik split-lip loss, and aftermath

Alistair Overeem was on the wrong end of a classic comeback.

After 24 minutes of control, using his grappling to dictate the fight, Overeem was on his way to stopping the hype of the rising and undefeated Jairzinho Rozenstruik before Rozenstruik connected with a Hail Mary overhand right with four seconds left that dropped Overeem and sliced his lip in half.

Some argued it was an early stoppage, but it put a halt to the former UFC heavyweight title challenger’s two-fight winning streak and climb back to contention.

In the latest episode of “The Reem” documentary, Overeem gives an inside look at the moments before he made the walk to the octagon this past December, and a reflection on the fight after.

Overeem was scheduled to face Walt Harris in the UFC on ESPN+ 30 main event in Portland on April 11 before the coronavirus outbreak canceled the event. Rozenstruik was matched up against Francis Ngannou in the UFC on ESPN 8 headliner on March 28, but that fight was also canceled due to the global pandemic.

Their paths may not cross in the near future, but Overeem hopes he can run things back with Rozenstruik.

“Everybody in the world could see that I was the better fighter, and I was winning, and it was just a (expletive) stoppage,” Overeem said. “So it’s just the result and the derailment that bothers me. The fight itself, you get hit, damaged, it’s all nothing.

“Maybe one day we could run it back and then we’ll be finishing him. I should have already finished because then there’s no argument. That’s what I do. I look at the mirror: We should have just finished him and we’ll do it next time if we get another chance.”

Watch the full episode in the video above.

The Blue Corner is MMA Junkie’s blog space. We don’t take it overly serious, 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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COVID-19 pandemic canceled Bellator champ Ilima-Lei Macfarlane’s wedding

Ilima MacFarlane

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Bellator strawweight champ Ilima-Lei Macfarlane planned an April Fool’s joke that wasn’t really a joke. Then COVID-19 came along and ruined the setup.

Macfarlane and her fiance, Jason Tupuola-Aiono, were going to get married in Jamaica on April 1, a day with all the significance of a national holiday for the Bellator champ.

Born on April 2, Macfarlane’s birthday celebrations were one long string of pranks. One of the most important days of her life was nothing short of the perfect opportunity.

”So people didn’t know whether if it was serious or not,” Macfarlane explained Monday on the A-Side. “I was like, this is going to be the ultimate prank.”

The engaged couple was on an extended layover in the champ’s adtoped hometown of San Diego, Calif., when a coronavirus pandemic brought life to a halt in cities around America. Suddenly, the idea of a colossal head fake didn’t seem so fun any more.

”My fiancee and I had left Hawaii – we were in Hawaii for, like, two months, and we left Hawaii to come to San Diego,” she said. “In just in our layover in San Diego, we got stuck, like holy crap.

”I’m really thankful we got stuck up here, because sh*t can get really crazy on the islands, and that’s also part of the reason we canceled our wedding in Jamaica. We would be total hippocrites telling people, ‘Don’t go to Hawaii, better stay your ass at home, stop bringing the virus to Hawaii, stop using the island’s resources’ when we were going to do the exact same thing in Jamaica.”

They could have flown to Jamaica, Macfarlane said. But they opted to cancel everything: a 30th birthday party, wedding, bachelorette party and a drag show.

”Even though the pandemic affect me professionally, it affected me personally,” she said.

There’s always next year, even if the surprise is ruined. And it could have been worse. Macfarlane isn’t one of dozens of fighters now wondering whether they’ll be able to fight any time soon. She competed this past December, notching another high-profile title defense on home soil at Bellator 236 in Hawaii.

Macfarlane gives a big shoutout to her homeland, which she said is setting a good example of taking seriously the threats the virus poses.

Now, she’ll hunker down and wait for the next step, like everyone else.

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On This Day in UFC History: UFC 47

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John Kavanagh: ‘No chance’ Conor McGregor serves as UFC 249 replacement vs. Tony Ferguson

Conor McGregor’s head coach, John Kavanagh, has ended all speculation before it could really get started: The former UFC lightweight and featherweight champion won’t fight at UFC 249.

After Khabib Nurmagomedov announced he was not going to compete in the April 18 lightweight title headliner with Tony Ferguson due to a lack of location stemming from the coronavirus pandemic, the scramble to save the event has proceeded.

McGregor (22-4 MMA, 10-2 UFC), who was one of the earliest predictors Nurmagomedov (28-0 MMA, 12-0 UFC) vs. Ferguson (25-3 MMA, 15-1 UFC) would fall apart for a fifth time (albeit not under these circumstances), teased on social media that he was in “fight shape,” which naturally generated some excitement.

If the UFC had a venue secured, or the coronavirus outbreak hadn’t thrown the entire sports world into disarray, then perhaps “The Notorious” would be slotted in. But under these circumstances? Kavanagh said it’s just not realistic.

“No chance of that,” Kavanagh told ESPN on Friday on Instagram Live. “Ireland is on a pretty strict lockdown (due to coronavirus). Me and Conor have no physical interactions. There’s no physical interaction at the gym. Gyms are shut down.”

Although McGregor has been hailed by UFC president Dana White in the past for fighting anyone at any time, the current scenario is unprecedented. McGregor’s previous short-notice fights have featured switches from his original opponent – not him stepping in for someone else.

With just 15 days until UFC 249 is supposed to take place, the idea of fighting someone of Ferguson’s caliber under such conditions is not a risk McGregor needs to take at this time.

“To try and rush that together, I just don’t think it would be smart,” Kavanagh said. “He certainly isn’t fighting so that he has food for the next six months. That’s not where he is in his life.”

Before the coronavirus outbreak caused the UFC to postpone three events (with more potentially on the way), the promotion was trying to figure out when it would get McGregor back in the octagon. Rumors have suggested that all parties were angling for a showdown with Justin Gaethje in July, who has been pushing hard for the fight.

Kavanagh confirmed Gaethje’s name was in the conversation. However, with the pandemic continuing to be a global issue – and McGregor being among the world’s most outspoken athletes during the crisis – Kavanagh isn’t sure how the future will unfold.

“(Gaethje) was certainly one of the ones that was being talked about,” Kavanagh said. “That was right up there.”

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Cory Sandhagen open to replacing Jose Aldo against Henry Cejudo at UFC 250 ‘on a week’s notice’

Cory Sandhagen | Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Even though Cory Sandhagen is keeping a level head when it comes to his standing in the UFC bantamweight rankings, he’s not going to shy away from a golden opportunity either.

With the 135-pound title fight at UFC 250 between Henry Cejudo and Jose Aldo a little more than a month away and the COVID-19 pandemic throwing the whole sporting world into disarray, there’s no guarantee that Cejudo and Aldo will meet in Sao Paulo as originally scheduled, or if Brazil’s Aldo will even be able to make it to the fight should it be moved to the United States.

The UFC’s fighters have to be prepared for pretty much anything at this point and that’s why Sandhagen is staying on weight for the May 9 show. If Aldo is out, Sandhagen is willing to replace him with almost zero notice.

“I’m ready for that May 9 fight in case Jose can’t make it back into the states,” Sandhagen said on The A-Side live chat on Friday. “I’ll be ready if they call me on a week’s notice I’m gonna be ready for that fight. It’ll kind of suck not to have any training partners other than my girlfriend, but when they call me I don’t want to be in a position where I’m like, naw I can’t because I was lazy. That’s not happening, that’s not gonna happen for me.”

Sandhagen already has the resume of a future title challenger, with a 12-1 record including wins in all five of his UFC appearances. After finishing his first three opponents inside the octagon, he picked up back-to-back decision wins over veterans Raphael Assuncao and John Lineker.

One could argue that Sandhagen, 27, already has a stronger case for a bantamweight title shot than Aldo. The most decorated featherweight in MMA history, Aldo fell short in his first fight at 135 pounds when he dropped a close split decision to Marlon Moraes last December.

Still, Aldo’s reputation led to him being Cejudo’s preferred target, much to the chagrin of contenders like Aljamain Sterling and Petr Yan. Sandhagen thinks it was smart for Aldo to risk the drop down to bantamweight because his name would allow him to close out his career with big fights. He’s not holding any grudges, especially since he doesn’t see himself in that No. 1 contender spot anyway.

“I wasn’t gonna be next, so I could really care less who was gonna get it because I knew that I wasn’t next,” Sandhagen said. “I knew that me shooting for a shot was gonna be a long shot and so I didn’t really care. I know that I’m still probably one or two fights away from him.”

If everything had gone as planned, Sandhagen would already have had the chance to test himself against a former UFC champion. A bantamweight bout between Sandhagen and former lightweight champion Frankie Edgar was booked for UFC Raleigh in January, but Edgar was called upon to save the UFC Busan main event a month earlier after Brian Ortega was forced out of a bout with Chan Sung Jung.

That’s left Sandhagen as the odd man out or as he sees it, a victim of his own success when it comes to getting opponents to sign on the dotted line.

“That fight in January that was supposed to be with Frankie was supposed to be my coming-out party,” Sandhagen said. “It was supposed to be my Urijah Faber-to-Petr Yan’s fight. The stars didn’t line up that way, what am I gonna do, just bitch about it and complain? I’m a really high-risk fight and really low reward.

“Really, there’s nothing to blame that on other than me, myself, not making myself a higher reward fight, which is 1) my own fault and 2) it’s just the nature of the beast. I was supposed to fight Frankie, it didn’t happen. I was supposed to fight in May against Aljamain, that may or may not happen. It’s just how the stars line up. I’m not tripping over it. Every day I just try to get better and I have a lot of faith that if I just keep doing that I’ll be where I’m supposed to be when it’s supposed to happen.”

The stars could align for Sandhagen to face Cejudo sooner rather than later, a situation that he welcomes even if it seems less than ideal at a glance. Sandhagen has seen past UFC champions win their titles in imperfect circumstances and that’s an example that he wants to follow as his career evolves.

“This has been the situation for a lot of the great guys and that’s why I think skill speaks louder than any words and any action,” Sandhagen said. “As long as I’ve got the skills when I need the skills and as long as the opportunities keep coming up and I put myself in the position to take advantage of all of those opportunities, I know that good will come for me.

“I fight and train with a lot of passion, I wake every morning and I tell myself I’m getting better today. I know that if I do that for the rest of my career there will be no doubt that at the end of it I’ll be one of those legendary fighters.”

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Chatri Sityodtong Envisions One vs. UFC Co-Promotion, Champ vs. Champ Matchups

If it were up to One Championship Chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong, there would be some superfights once MMA gets back on track. View full post on Recent News on Sherdog.com

Where We Stand: Bantamweight Division

As the rest of the division awaits Henry Cejudo’s first bantamweight title defense, contenders are rising in spades.

Read the Full Article Here View full post on UFC News

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In a locked-down coronavirus world, we give you the best (and worst!) MMA movies of all time

Like much of the world, you likely find yourself locked down in a social isolation bubble during the global coronavirus pandemic.

More people than ever currently are homebound, with rare exceptions, and have a new load of time on their hands. We’ve rolled this list out before, but it seems like as good a time as any to offer it up again – in case you’re among the vast mass of people looking for something to do to pass the time while the world sorts itself out.

Let’s take a look, then, at the best (but mostly worst) MMA movies around.

(And if we left some off the list, don’t be offended – just add them in the comments. For the record, if a movie was purely karate or kickboxing or boxing, etc., we left it off – we’re looking for reasonably modern-era mixed martial arts cagefighting kind of stuff to make the cut for this list. Sorry, old Bruce Lee and Jean Claude Van Damme flicks. We’ll save you for a different list.)

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Chatri Sityodtong ‘would love’ to see ONE champion Xiong Jing Nan fight Zhang Weili

Chatri Sityodtong | ONE Championship

Chatri Sityodtong has a grand idea for a clash that would make history not just for the Asian MMA scene, but for the sport in general.

The ONE Championship chairman hosted a Facebook Live Q&A on Thursday and was asked to name a “dream matchup for women’s mixed martial arts.” He answered by pairing up his strawweight (125-pound) champion Xiong Jing Nan with UFC strawweight champion Zhang Weili.

“For women’s mixed martial arts I would love to see Jingnan Xiong vs Weili Zhang,” Sityodtong said, per a press release. “I think Jingnan is the one to beat Weili Zhang.”

Though Xiong may not have the name value of her UFC counterpart—at least in North America—the 32-year-old has carved out her own niche, winning 14 of her first 15 bouts and capturing a world title at 125 pounds (classified as strawweight in ONE). She suffered her second loss last October after dropping down to 115 pounds to challenge champion Angela Lee.

Xiong remains unbeaten at 125 pounds, including consecutive title defenses against Lee, Samara Santos, and Laura Balin.

Zhang (21-1) won the UFC’s 115-pound title last August with a 42-second TKO of Jessica Andrade and then successfully defended it against Joanna Jedrzejczk by split decision at UFC 248 in an instant classic five-round battle.

Any meeting between Xiong and Zhang would require the UFC to agree to cross-promote with ONE, something the Las Vegas-based promotion has resisted doing in the past regardless of the company involved.

Should Sityodtong find a willing promotional dance partner, he also mentioned Lee as a fighter he’d like to see tested against champions from other organizations.

“I think Angela Lee vs. any atomweight in the world,” Sityodtong said. “Angela Lee is incredible. I’ve seen her in training. I’ve seen her go into a bout with pneumonia with doctor’s advice not to compete and I’ve tried my best to stop the fight. Angela Lee’s an absolute warrior and she’s just a genius on the ground.”

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Khabib Nurmagomedov Lashes Out at Critics, Including Conor McGregor

Ultimate Fighting Championship lightweight king Khabib Nurmagomedov is sick of the MMA community attacking him for the UFC 249 headliner cancellation. View full post on Recent News on Sherdog.com

Mackenzie Dern Focused On Motherhood And Learning

Mackenzie Dern’s first profession loss didn’t set her back, it made her stronger.

Read the Full Article Here View full post on UFC News

Stephen Thompson breaks down potential Kamaru Usman vs. Jorge Masvidal fight

Stephen Thompson is right back in the mix at 170 pounds.

Thompson snapped a two-fight losing skid with a masterful performance against Vicente Luque this past November, proving he’s still a threat in the division.

UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman is projected to face Jorge Masvidal next, an opponent “Wonderboy” is familiar with.

Thompson is the last man to beat Masvidal, but since then, Masvidal has skyrocketed through the ranks with three straight stoppage wins.

Usman is coming off a “Fight of the Year” contender at UFC 245, taking out Colby Covington in an all out standup war, but Thompson thinks Usman will go back to his usual grapple-heavy approach when facing Masvidal.

“I know Masvidal – he’s got great takedown defense,” Thompson told MMA Junkie. “Usman is a very strong fighter, very strong wrestler. I believe he’s not going to fight Masvidal like he did Colby Covington. I think he’s going to shoot on Masvidal. He’s going to try and take him down where he’s more comfortable. Obviously Masvidal is a phenomenal striker. I faced him and I could see that. So Usman is definitely going to try and shoot.

“If Masvidal can keep the fight standing, can fight off his takedown and keep it standing, I think he wins it all day. Usman, it’s very difficult because that guy is relentless. He’s also got a gas tank, too, and if they do fight, it’s got to be a main event. They’ve got to fight five five-minute rounds. So I think the cardio, the longer the rounds go, it favors Usman. And if it comes to the striking game, it definitely goes to Masvidal for sure.”

Thompson fell short to former champion Tyron Woodley on two occasions, but with a new king in the division, his route back to the top may now be a lot faster.

His style, with his karate stance and quick blitzes, has given fits to most who have faced him, and he thinks Usman would want nothing to do with the standup if the two were to ever fight.

“Usman is a very intelligent guy. He does his studying,” Thompson said. “He watches his opponents and I can tell that, and I can see that, so I don’t think he would keep the fight standing. He would shoot on me as he does against everybody else in the game, besides Colby Covington because both have a very similar style. I knew that they would want to keep the fight standing and Usman’s striking was amazing in that fight, especially his body shots. So he’s definitely worked on his striking game.

“He’s still getting better every day. But my takedown defense – most of the guys in the division that I’ve faced have been wrestlers and guys that are aggressive, so they kind of play into my style of fighting. So I think he’s going to make some changes and I’m going to be ready for that. My goal is to adapt to everybody that I face out there and in my head, I see him being a relentless wrestler – just getting me up against the cage, trying to tire me out like he does with everybody.”

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Thiago Santos wants to face Dominick Reyes for UFC interim title belt: ‘I don’t think the division needs to wait’

Thiago Santos and Jon Jones

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

After UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones pleaded guilty to his second DWI offense incident, Thiago Santos called to book two other fighters for an interim belt.

Hours after news broke of Jones’ arrest late this past month, Santos took to social media to suggest a fight with Dominick Reyes, the last man to challenge “Bones” for the UFC gold. In an interview with MMA Fighting, he explained the logic behind an interim title fight.

“I suggested this fight with Reyes in case (Jones) steps away to get treatment, like he said,” Santos said. “I don’t think the division needs to wait. The division can go on, even if it’s for an interim belt between Reyes and I, since we both are next in line. Fans were already talking about this fight even before this Jones situation happened, and I said I was willing to fight Reyes, and then Jones fights the winner when he returns.”

In a statement released after agreeing to plea bargain, Jones said he has an “unhealthy relationship” with alcohol. His deal includes the completion of a 90-day drug treatment outpatient program.

“It’s unfortunate – it’s sad,” Santos said of Jones’ latest run-in with the law. “I never hid that I’m a fan of the guy even before we fought, and that hasn’t changed. Unfortunately he has those problems with alcohol, he posted a statement about it, and those are problems he has to fix. You can’t overlook that, but also can’t throw rocks at him. It’s only up to him. We hope he solves that problem with alcohol and recovers.”

Jones was stripped of his title in 2015 after being arrested, but the UFC hasn’t made any decision regarding his future yet. Santos doesn’t have an opinion on that.

“It’s UFC’s decision,” Santos said. “I’m here to fight if they need and call me.”

Many MMA observers thought Jones got off with a relatively light punishment. The champ’s primary punishment was four days of house arrest and one year of probation. He also received 48 hours of community service, was ordered to install an ignition interlock device in his car, and pay a $500 fine. He is allowed to use marijuana with a medical card.

“Not that he deserves (more), or that I wanted him to be punished,” Santos said. “That’s his life, but laws usually are more severe in the U.S. than in Brazil, so that’s why it surprised me. But I don’t care about that. I just raised my hand and volunteered to fight. If there’s a fight to be made, I think I deserve it. And I’m ready.”

Santos hasn’t entered the Octagon since he challenged Jones for the undisputed belt at UFC 239, where he lost a close split decision and suffered serious knee injuries that required surgery. With the COVID-19 pandemic forcing all gyms to close in Rio de Janeiro, Santos continues training in the gym he built for underprivileged kids at the Cidade de Deus favela alongside his girlfriend Yana Kunitskaya.

Reyes, meanwhile, earned a shot at the 205-pound throne after racking up a perfect 12-0 record that included knockout wins over Chris Weidman and Jared Cannonier. But Jones also edged a close decision victory in February at UFC 247.

“I think it would be a great fight, belt or not,” Santos said. “(Reyes is) a great fighter. He surprised me last time against Jones, he was aggressive and went for it. He showed the great fighter he is, and I love facing challenges. He’s a young, fearless guy that comes forward, and that would be a great fight.”

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