Derek Brunson says Edmen Shahbazyan’s UFC 248 hype reminds him of himself

RALEIGH, N.C. – Derek Brunson is taking on another young prospect he can relate to.

Brunson (20-7 MMA, 11-5 UFC) faces the undefeated Edmen Shahbazyan (11-0 MMA, 4-0 UFC) at UFC 248. He said Shahbazyan reminds him of himself when he was tearing through the UFC’s middleweight ranks.

“Edmen is a young, reckless, confident guy,” Brunson told MMA Junkie this past Saturday at UFC on ESPN+ 24 in Raleigh, N.C, a couple hours from his home base in Wilmington. “It’s kind of funny because I remember being his age and being where he was at and just having hype behind me. So I know what it feels like for him.”

But after a fast start in the UFC, Brunson went through his ups and downs. He lost fights to notable names and former champions, including Robert Whittaker and current middleweight champ Israel Adesanya. Their wins over Brunson springboarded them to title contention.

In his most recent outing, Brunson took on another surging middleweight in Ian Heinisch at UFC 241 and halted his five-fight winning streak. Brunson now has four wins in his past six fights.

“This fight (against Shahbazyan), it kind of reminds me of the Israel fight,” Brunson said. “You’ve got a young guy with a lot of hype, undefeated. But again, it reminds me of my last fight with Ian Heinisch. (He was) near undefeated – 13-1. He had one blemish, but a lot of hype behind him. I kind of feel the same way. It’s my job to go out here, do my thing, and rack up another one after this one. I think that’ll put me right here at a title shot.”

Brunson has displayed a more composed approach in his current two-fight winning streak. He credited the change to his recent move to the Hard Knocks gym in South Florida, home to the likes of current UFC welterweight champ Kamaru Usman.

“I think I’ve got a solid situation,” Brunson said. “I switched my training up over the past year and a half at Hard Knocks down in Florida, and we have a good group of guys who try and get each other better and come in the training room every day, and it’s more of a team effort. So it’s definitely been working out for me and working out in my fights, also.”

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Manager: Conor McGregor is ‘serious’ about pursuing boxing world title 

Conor McGregor

Esther Lin, Showtime

When rumors first started that Conor McGregor was in talks to fight boxer Floyd Mayweather, no one really believed it would happen.

Mayweather had already retired with an undefeated 49-0 record. But more importantly, McGregor was under UFC contract, and not since Chuck Liddell traveled to Japan to take part in the PRIDE Middleweight Grand Prix in 2003 had the organization shared an athlete with another promotion.

McGregor willed that fight into existence, and he did much better over 10 rounds with Mayweather than most expected. But in the end, he lost by TKO and returned to the sport of MMA.

As the Irishman embarks on what he hopes will be a very busy 2020, McGregor has once again started to stoke the flames of a potential return to the squared circle.

“He’s serious about boxing,” McGregor’s longtime manager Audie Attar told MMA Fighting. “He said it. That’s something that I can tell you, if he says something he has interest in, it’s likely going to happen.”

Following McGregor’s win over Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone at UFC 246, Mayweather was already promoting a potential rematch on Instagram. Manny Pacquiao called for a fight with McGregor even before his first fight in 15 months.

Most recently, Top Rank promoter Bob Arum, who’s hated by UFC President Dana White and once infamously called UFC fans “a bunch of skinhead white guys,” has now jumped aboard the McGregor bandwagon.

This past week, Arum suggested a two-fight deal where McGregor would box undefeated champion Terence Crawford and then face him inside the UFC’s octagon.

For his part, Attar keeps an eye on all of these potential offers, not only to see what interests McGregor, but figure out what would entice fans to tune in.

“We definitely monitor everything,” Attar said. “We monitor not only fan engagement and interest from the public, but then you look at who’s out there talking what. Because it could be where we have a few different options to weigh and decide on.

“At the end of the day, I saw Floyd, I saw Manny and now Bob Arum, who at one point said, ‘It’s not a smart idea to crossover.’ He’s a believer now as well.”

McGregor’s focus seems to be aimed at the UFC right now. But just like what happened with the first Mayweather fight, he’ll always be ready to answer when opportunity knocks. His manager is excited about the prospects for the future with a motivated client ready to stay busy in 2020 and beyond with goals in both MMA and boxing.

“Yes it’s going to be busy, but we welcome that,” Attar said. “We’re super excited for it. I think we’re all on the same page when it comes to ambition and goals, and so that’s really fun to see when your entire team is in sync.

“I think we all welcome that type of work load. We don’t look at it as pressure. We look at it as opportunity.”

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Bellator 238 Medical Suspensions: Four Fighters Facing 180-Day Terms

Juan Archuleta is one of four fighters from the Bellator 238 card who is facing six months on the shelf. View full post on Recent News on Sherdog.com

Dustin Poirier still interested in Nate Diaz fight – and even is willing to box him

LAS VEGAS – Dustin Poirier is willing to fight Nate Diaz under just about any circumstance.

Former UFC interim lightweight champion Poirier (25-6 MMA, 17-5 UFC) currently is sidelined due to a hip injury and is targeting a return in April.

He was booked to face Diaz at UFC 230 in 2018, and despite the fight falling through, Poirier still would like to get his hands on Diaz. After all, it’s the stylistic type of matchup that gets him up.

“I know it’s a fight I can shine in,” Poirier told MMA Junkie. “I know it’s a fight that at this point of my career where I’d be excited to do that training camp and do those boxing rounds and do those jiu-jitsu rounds. That’s a fun opponent to get ready for with my style of fighting, and with the coaches I have around me, I think I can prepare very well for that fight and put on a great performance.”

He’d even be willing to face him even in a straight boxing match.

“I’d be willing to box him if they wanted to do that,” Poirier said. “I wish Zuffa Boxing was around and we’d have an opportunity – him and his brother were always talking about crossing over to boxing, I’d love to put the paws on him and show you guys my boxing skills.”

Poirier hasn’t competed since his third-round submission loss to UFC lightweight champ Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 242, but still is one of the top-ranked lightweights. Diaz, on the other hand, is coming off a controversial stoppage loss to Jorge Masvidal at UFC 244, which was his fourth straight fight at 170 pounds.

But Poirier is willing to move up a weight class to face him.

“I would love that fight,” Poirier said. “I would do it at 170, I would do it at whatever weight they wanted to do it. I think that’s a fun fight. I think the fans would like that fight. But we’ll see. That is a fight that I want, but I don’t know what’s next. I don’t even know if that guy will fight again.

“I still respect the guy as a fighter. I’ve said in a recent interview, and I’ll admit I’m a fan of the guy. Anytime he fights, I’m going to buy the pay-per-view. I’m going to watch him fight. He’s a fighter’s fighter. I like to see the stuff he brings into the octagon. He’s a fun fighter to watch, and those are the kind of guys that I want to fight.”

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Morning Report: Tyron Woodley admits he ‘blew through a lot of f*cking money’ when he was champion

Tyron Woodley

Tyron Woodley | Esther Lin/MMAFighting.com

It’s a tale as old as time: a fighter comes from humble beginnings, rises through the ranks, and then summits the mountain, earning fame and making more money than he’d ever dream of, only to squander his newfound riches just a few years later. And while it may not be that severe for him, former UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley admits that he himself has had to stare this cliche in the face since losing his title last year.

Speaking with ESPN’s Ariel Helwani on Monday, Woodley revealed that in his time as champion, he spent lavishly and now that he’s no longer champion he’s gone “back to basics”.

“I blew through a lot of f*cking money, man,” Woodley said. “A lot. A lot of money. And I was jewelry and VIP and all these experiences, all these things that came with the championship life. You really, when you come from where I come from, you never imagine making that type of money, you never imagine being in that type of position. You work hard for it – and I didn’t get there by accident because I was busting my ass – but nobody taught me finance. Everybody taught me 1+1 is 2. That’s math. That ain’t finance. That ain’t wealth, that ain’t investing, that ain’t saving, that ain’t tax. That’s basically: you made money and, f*cking, you spend it. Because when I was growing up, we spent it when it came in. My mom’s check was already cut up, it was done before she even got it. She had to pick which utility bills was not gonna be on that, that month. And it was something that I didn’t recognize, as a kid, that it wasn’t normal. I thought everybody had to do that.

“So, when you started making money? I bought, like, seven cars and, f*cking, two houses, and all these trips, and nobody ever lifted a f*cking hand when we was at a restaurant, 10-15 people went to dinner. And I was going to VIP clubs and all this sh*t, like, every other week and I just imagined making that amount of money for a very long time and they very quickly said, ‘Poof! Damn! You gonna tell me, March 3rd, that this is different? It’s not the same?’ And it’s just a lesson learned.”

Before losing his title to Kamaru Usman at UFC 235 last year, Woodley had spent three years as the welterweight champion, enjoying the financial incentives that come with holding a UFC title by fighting on four PPV events and making points on the buys. Now, Woodley is set to face Leon Edwards at a Fight Night event in London and the dramatic swing in compensation has him hungry to get back to the top. It also has him reflecting on the financial incentive structure of MMA and how that affects fighter actions.

“This f*cking division is getting so corny, and it’s starting to irk me so bad,” Woodley said. “I just really need to come back and try to f*ck everybody up. I’m so annoyed with everyone. When I get to that point, it’s a very, very dangerous point…

“Who makes the most money in our sport? Not the world champion Kamaru Usman,” Woodley said. “[Jorge] Masvidal, he’s finally making his paydays. He’s at the top of the list now. So are the Diaz brothers, so is Conor McGregor. Some of these people have never had a belt. Cowboy Cerrone just earned a big payday, never been remotely close to a world title in the UFC. When you look at guys like Demetrious Johnson when he was pound-for-pound and he was making less money than Joanna Jedrzejczyk. . . In no other sport are you going to see Steph Curry making less than somebody because they talking crap and wear a fly suit to the presser.”

Woodley is not wrong. Of the people generally considered to be the biggest stars in the sport, only Khabib Nurmagomedov and Jon Jones are holding world titles. That being said, when Woodley was champion he continually called for title defenses against the likes of Conor McGregor, Nick Diaz, and even Nate Diaz which may not be exactly the same as what Woodley is lamenting here but is certainly in the neighborhood of it. But that’s one more for Woodley. Now the former champion is just focused on assaulting the entire welterweight division to prove a point, and in the process he may just make some more money doing so.

“Right now my goal is to really just focus on winning and just proving that I’m capable of so much more,” Woodley said. “And the good thing about me is I haven’t even peaked yet. I haven’t peaked as a professional. I’m looking back at some of these fights and a Leon Edwards, a Kamaru Usman, a Colby Covington, none of those guys are going to make me that much more of a great than a Carlos Condit, a Robbie Lawler, than a Josh Koscheck, than a Dong Hyun Kim. People that are going to put my name into the record books are the people I’ve already defeated. This sh*t is just personal now.”


MUST-READ STORIES

Return. Maycee Barber opens up about UFC 246 loss and ‘trashed’ knee, expects to return in late 2020.

Response. Stephen A. Smith responds to Conor McGregor’s apology request for ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone comments.

Trilogy. Michael Bisping believes Conor McGregor will choose Nate Diaz trilogy over Jorge Masvidal fight.

Coronavirus. Chinese fighters monitor coronavirus outbreak before upcoming UFC fights in Auckland and Las Vegas.


VIDEO STEW

Bellator Rewind.

Coffee Talk: Bellator 238

Conor’s worst fights.

Free fight.

Izzy talking Kobe and training for UFC 248.

Woodley’s latest music video.


LISTEN UP

The Co-Main Event. Recapping UFC Raleigh and chatting with Ray Longo.

Anik & Florian. Recapping UFC Raleigh, Bellator, and Stephen A. Smith.


SOCIAL MEDIA BOUILLABAISSE

Well played, Jorge.

Coming for Yoel.

Respect.

MMA is a ruthless sport.

Winning time.

This means he sweats a lot.


FIGHT ANNOUNCEMENTS

Paul Daley (42-17-2) vs. Sabah Homasi (13-8); Bellator 241, March 13.

Jai Herbert (10-1) vs. Marc Diakiese (14-3); UFC London, Match 21.

Jack Marshman (23-9) vs. Kevin Holland (16-5); UFC London, Match 21.

Aspen Ladd (9-1) vs. Julianna Pena (9-3); UFC Columbus, March 28.

Mackenzie Dern (7-1) vs. Ariane Carnelossi (12-2); UFC Lincolm, April 25.


FINAL THOUGHTS

Thanks for reading and see y’all tomorrow.


EXIT POLL


If you find something you’d like to see in the Morning Report, hit up @JedKMeshew on Twitter and let him know about it. Also follow MMAFighting on Instagram, add us on Snapchat at MMA-Fighting, and like us on Facebook.

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Jamahal Hill unhappy with UFC Raleigh win over Darko Stosic


RALEIGH, N.C. – Jamahal Hill beat Darko Stosic with a unanimous decision Saturday to open up the main card at UFC on ESPN+ 24 in Raleigh, N.C.

Take a look inside the fight with Hill, who came to the UFC from Dana White’s Contender Series and won his official promotional debut.

Result: Jamahal Hill def. Darko Stosic via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Updated records: Jamahal Hill (6-0 MMA, 0-0 UFC) vs. Darko Stosic (13-3 MMA, 1-2 UFC)
Key stat: Stosic landed six of his nine takedown attempts, but Hill’s but 102-32 striking edge made the difference.

Hill on the fight’s key moment

“My game plan was to just beat him down and break him. He didn’t break, though – he’s a tough dude. He was fighting for a lot out there. He was fighting for his UFC life.”

Hill on DWCS getting him ready

“I’m not a really nervous fighter, but the experience from the Contender Series definitely helped a lot with preparing me for this week. I take something from every fight, and just keep building toward the champion I want to be. You never know with the judges, so I wasn’t happy I left it in their hands. I’m frustrated with myself, but I’m just going to come back better.”

Hill on what he wants next

“I’m happy that I got the win, but I feel like I should have performed a lot better. I expect a lot more from myself. I’m going to get back to the gym and get on it tough and hard. I wanted a finish. I should have finished him and should have put on a much better show for these fans.”

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

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Chinese fighters monitor coronavirus outbreak before upcoming UFC fights in Auckland and Las Vegas

Ruy Menezes (left) will corner Xiaonan Yan (right) against Karolina Kowalkiewicz in New Zealand. | Photo via Ruy Menezes

The coronavirus outbreak that spread over several cities in China with dozens of deaths could force a change of plans for UFC fighters.

Celebrations started this past Friday for the China’s most important holiday, the Lunar New Year’s Eve, but it’s a different scenario on the streets today. With several cities on lockdown by order of the government, the population fears leaving their houses.

Weili Zhang, the company’s strawweight champion, defends her UFC gold against Joanna Jedrzejczyk on March 7 in Las Vegas. Jingliang Li also competes that night, taking on Neil Magny, while Xiaonan Yan travels to Auckland to battle Karolina Kowalkiewicz on Feb. 22.

The trio of UFC fighters train in different gyms in Beijing, a city that to date hasn’t had any confirmed cases of coronavirus. But they still could be affected in different ways.

Ruy Menezes, who trains Li and Yan at China Top Team in Beijing, told MMA Fighting that the current plan is to fly to Auckland on Feb. 15, a week before Xiaonan’s fight, and then travel directly to Las Vegas for Li’s appointment at UFC 248.

Zhang co-headlines the March 7 card against Joanna Jedrzejczyk, and her team is confident they won’t have any issues before traveling to the United States.

“Weili and her camp have not been affected at all and have always kept a pretty tight circle,” Zhang’s manager Brian Butler told MMA Fighting’s Damon Martin. “She is having the best camp of her career so far.”

Top Rank had a boxing event scheduled for Feb. 1 in Haikou, China, with welterweight champion Jose Ramirez putting his title on the line against Viktor Postol in the main event. But the promotion recently announced the cancellation of the entire card.

Menezes’ gym will be closed until Feb. 1 for New Year’s holiday, and only athletes that currently have fights booked are going there to train, which includes ONE Championship flyweight Getu Hexi, who fights Adrian Mattheis in Singapore on Feb. 28.

“We’ll travel earlier to New Zealand if (the virus) comes to Beijing, but I don’t think that will be necessary,” Menezes said. “We’ll only do it if the worst happens, and I don’t even know if New Zealand would let people from China in if that was the case. But I don’t think that will happen because the Chinese government already has the cities that are dealing with this problem on lockdown.

“I’m going to the gym in the morning and then going back home. Life goes on, but we’re being careful. I’ve warned my jiu-jitsu students that if anyone is coughing or experiencing fever, cold or headache, don’t come to the gym when I reopen it, because I won’t let them in.”

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Emilee King credits teammate Taylor Turner for big win over Ava Knight at Bellator 238

INGLEWOOD, Calif. – Emilee King took out a boxing champion and had an example to look back at in preparation.

King (4-4 MMA, 1-0 BMMA) upset WBC boxing champ Ava Knight (1-1 MMA, 1-1 BMMA) in her promotional debut. King submitted Knight in a little more than two minutes at Bellator 238 this past Saturday.

It wasn’t the first time a former boxing champion crossed over to the Bellator cage. Former WBO featherweight champ Heather Hardy had a rude awakening in her second MMA bout when she was battered and stopped by Kristina Williams at Bellator 185.

Hardy also took on King’s teammate, Taylor Turner, this past June and suffered a second-round TKO loss at Bellator 222.

With Taylor in King’s corner, King had the kind of pointers she needed against a boxing champion, herself.

“We absolutely did read into (Turner’s win over Hardy),” King said after her win. “I relied heavily on coach Taylor, not only for my strength and conditioning, and as like a mentor, but she relived some of her experiences with that Heather Hardy fight with me and that was a huge asset to me during this fight camp – so very thankful.”

Once the fight hit the canvas, it was right in King’s world. After a couple submission attempts, she was able to transition to a rear-naked choke and made quick work of Knight.

“My whole goal was just to get to the ground, and I knew once I hit the ground, I was fine,” King said. “I’m not sure exactly what takedown I hit. We’ve worked several throughout the game plan. It might have been a guard pull, to be honest. But I knew I threw one side kick, and that was kind of the game plan – of setting up the takedowns with the kicks. And after that, it was just hunt for the submissions, so one after the other.”

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Stephen A. Smith responds to Conor McGregor’s apology request for ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone comments

UFC Fight Night: VanZant v Ostovich

Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

ESPN personality Stephen A. Smith has no plans to apologize for his comments made about Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone in the wake of his loss at UFC 246.

Smith came under fire after he took aim at Cerrone following a 40-second TKO loss to Conor McGregor in the main event. The “First Take” host said he was “quite disgusted” by his performance, adding of “it look like he gave up” in a rant about the perennial contender’s performance.

That resulted in a back and forth exchange with UFC color commentator Joe Rogan. But Smith’s initial response has brought McGregor into the fray.

“The call you discuss here is A+,” McGregor wrote on Twitter. “I didn’t show enough. I’m not paid by the hour though. Joe’s comments however, come from you saying the opposition fighter quit. Broken nose/orbital bone say different. Fighting is vicious. Those who make the walk deserve full respect! Apologize.”

Smith took to Twitter to answer McGregor and justified the nature of his initial criticism of Cerrone and his performance on that night.

“Sir, much respect to the great Conor McGregor,” Smith wrote. “My recollection on what I said is “That’s the way it looked.” “Cowboy” Cerrone is a perennial top-10 fighter. Much respect to him for the lengthy career he has had. Wishing him nothing but the best. But I don’t think it’s unfair to say that more than 40-seconds was expected from as tough of an SOB as he is.

“Nor do I think it’s wrong to assume that there’s no way that’s 40-second fight would take place with you vs. [Khabib] Nurmegamedov or [Jorge] Masvidal. We expected more than what we got. Props to YOU for that. But to know how tough Cowboy is, lots of fans like myself expected more and I don’t think Joe Rogan is right to question my knowledge about a fight just because I wasn’t satisfied with what I saw. I said what I said and I meant it. It’s possible to do that and still have tremendous respect for you along with Joe Rogan. Both of you are fantastic for the UFC. I wouldn’t enjoy it nearly as much without the both of you. I wish you both prosperity in the future. But we clearly disagree about “Cowboy’s performance on Jan.18.”

For his part, Cerrone hasn’t made a public statement regarding the fight with McGregor or Smith’s comments in the aftermath of the fight. During that 40-second barrage, Cerrone suffered a broken nose and a broken orbital bone.

Smith isn’t a regular part of ESPN’s UFC coverage, but he has appeared for some of the bigger fight cards, particularly when McGregor has been involved.

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Priscila Cachoeira Replaces Rachael Ostovich, Meets Shana Dobson at UFC Auckland

Priscila Cachoeira will step in for Rachael Ostovich and square off against Shana Dobson at UFC Auckland. View full post on Recent News on Sherdog.com

Report: Crime-fighting MMA superhero ‘Phoenix Jones’ arrested on drug charges

The crime-fighting persona of “Phoenix Jones” has taken an interesting twist.

Jones is the alter ego of Seattle’s Ben Fodor, a mixed martial artist whose highest-profile fights were in World Series of Fighting.

In costume, Fodor garnered headlines through his vigilante crime patrols in downtown Seattle and adjacent neighborhoods.

But according to Seattle television station KOMO, Fodor recently found himself on the wrong side of the law, as he was arrested earlier this month in King County (Wash.) and faces multiple drug charges after allegedly selling Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) and cocaine.

According to KOMO, Jones sold 7.1 grams of MDMA, known on the streets as “Molly,” to an undercover agent of the Seattle Police Department at a Starbucks on Nov. 21. The agent had sent Fodor $300 via Venmo prior to the deal, paid another $200 in person, and had an agreement for a future deal.

That second transaction was consummated on Jan. 9, after which Fodor and alleged accomplice Andrea Irene Berendsen were arrested. Seven bundles of cocaine were discovered, according to the KOMO report.

This is not Fodor’s first run-in with law enforcement, as he has been cited eight times for driving on a suspended license.

Fodor was released on Jan. 11 and is scheduled for arraignment on Feb. 3.

In MMA, Fodor has a 7-3-1 record, which includes a 1-2 run in WSOF in 2015 and 2016. He last competed on Oct. 14, 2017, dropping a unanimous decision to Austin Vanderford in Tacoma, Wash.

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Mackenzie Dern returns against Ariane Carnelossi at UFC Lincoln

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Strawweight prospect Mackenzie Dern will look to bounce back from the first loss of her career when she faces Ariane Carnelossi at UFC Fight Night from Lincoln, Neb. on April 25.

Multiple sources confirmed the matchup to MMA Fighting following an initial report from Combate.

Regarded as one of the top up and comers in the women’s divisions, Dern came to the UFC with a pedigree in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and she quickly rattled off two wins in a row to start her career inside the Octagon.

Dern took off several months to welcome the birth of her first child before returning this past October. In her first fight back, Dern fell to Amanda Ribas via unanimous decision over three rounds.

Now she will return in April with a fight against Carnelossi, who is still attempting to secure her first win in the UFC.

Carnelossi debuted last September but lost to Angela Hill in the third round after she was not allowed to continue due to a cut.

She faces Dern in a growing card headed to Nebraska with light heavyweights Anthony Smith and Glover Teixeira set as the main event.

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Alexander Emelianenko Arrested, Jailed for Disturbing the Peace

Veteran Russian heavyweight Aleksander Emelianenko is serving a seven-day jail sentence for disturbing the peace in the Black Sea resort town of Anapa. View full post on Recent News on Sherdog.com

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Triple Take: Who was the biggest winner between UFC Raleigh and Bellator 238?

Saturday was another one of those wild and woolly MMA nights. The UFC and Bellator went head to head for the first time in 2020, with UFC on ESPN+ 24 and Bellator 238 going down on opposite coasts.

Plenty of stars shined on both shows, but who shined brightest? MMA Junkie’s Dave Doyle, Danny Segura, and Simon Samano sound off on who they think was the weekend’s biggest winner in the latest edition of Triple Take.

Without further ado …

****

Dave Doyle: Cris Cyborg’s history-making performance the obvious choice

Full disclosure: As of this writing, I’ve yet to watch UFC Raleigh. I covered Bellator 238 at The Forum in Inglewood, Calif., late in the night, and Sunday was my off day.

But that said? Working cageside meant I got to see Cris Cyborg’s handiwork up close and personal, and I’m quite confident nothing I’ll see when I catch up with the UFC show could convince me that anyone other than Cyborg was the weekend’s biggest winner. 

We’re on the back end of MMA’s third decade, and as the sport becomes more established and entrenched, history-making moments become fewer and further between. 

Saturday night was one of those nights, and Cyborg lived up to the moment. By finishing Julia Budd, she became the first fighter, regardless of gender, to win championships in four separate major promotions, all in the same weight class, 10-plus years apart. 

But it’s not just the fact she got the job accomplished: It was how she did it. Budd’s a legit talent who has ruled over a Bellator women’s featherweight division that is deeper than the UFC’s version. Cyborg never let Budd get untracked. Cyborg has evolved as a fighter over the years, one capable of going into deep waters. The combination of ferocity and pinpoint accuracy Cyborg displayed in finishing Budd in the fourth round was the type of display she used to put on in the opening minutes of fights during her early days. 

An all-time great adding to her legacy and creating history in the process? Yeah, I’ll take that over anything else either card could possibly serve up.

Next page – Danny Segura: Michael Chiesa is quickly becoming a threat welterweight

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Video: Sergio Pettis admits he was ‘stressed out’ over Bellator debut

MMA Fighting

INGLEWOOD, Calif. — Newly minted Bellator bantamweight Sergio Pettis reflects on a successful debut at Bellator 238.

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Bellator 238 Salaries: Cris Cyborg ($250K), Julia Budd ($350,000) Top Payroll

Bellator 238 main event competitors Cristiane Justino and Julia Budd were the highest earners from Saturday’s card at the Forum in Inglewood, Calif. View full post on Recent News on Sherdog.com

Curtis Millender relieved after Bellator 238 win, reveals three possible targets for next fight

INGLEWOOD, Calif. – Curtis Millender kicked off his second stint as a Bellator fighter with a unanimous decision win at Bellator 238, then said he has earmarked three prominent members of the promotion’s welterweight division as future opponents.

Millender (18-5 MMA, 3-2 BMMA) outpointed Moses Murrietta (8-4 MMA, 1-1 BMMA) at The Forum to claim victory on his return to the organization he last fought for back in January 2017, and said he was happy with his display after a solid all-around performance.

“I feel like I performed very well,” he told reporters, including MMA Junkie, backstage after the fight. “I went out and I showed a lot of things that I wanted to show. I wrestled a little bit, got a couple of takedowns, dropped him a couple of times. Overall, without getting a finish, getting two 10-8 rounds is just close (enough).”

As well as his reunion with Bellator, the fight also represented Millender’s return to a familiar venue, and the Anaheim native said he was both happy and relieved to pick up a much-needed win to halt his two-fight losing skid.

(It was ) a big load (off my shoulders),” he admitted. “The last time I won was in this building, in December 2018, so it’s been a while, so just hearing that I won, it’s awesome.”

Now back in the win column with his new promotion, Millender is now targeting more eye-catching matchups, and has a trio of potential opponents in mind for future matchups in 2020, with fellow striker Michael Page at the top of his list.

“I still want that, man,” he said. “It’s up to him. It’s clearly up to him, because everybody knows I want the fight. I want exciting matchups: (Jason) Jackson, I wouldn’t even mind Ed Ruth. I have to beat the kind of guys who have been my Achilles heel throughout my career. That’s the only way I’m going to get what I deserve.”

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UFC 246 prelims give McGregor four of top five prelim numbers in modern era

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Conor McGregor’s presence, and a strong college basketball lead-in, helped the UFC 246 prelims draw the largest audience for such a show in more than three years – and the largest since the UFC’s move to ESPN.

The Jan. 18 show did 1,767,000 viewers and was the top-rated show on cable in the key 18-49 demo as well as the 18-34 demo. It was also the top-rated show of the day with males in both the 18-34 and 18-49 age groups. It placed second overall in 18-49, garnering a 0.73 rating behind the Los Angeles Lakers vs. Houston Rockets game on ABC that did a 0.9 in 18-49 with 2,916,000 viewers. Because of the difference in homes between ESPN and ABC, a 0.73 in the key demo on ESPN is actually more impressive than an 0.9 on ABC.

The UFC show followed a Duke vs. Louisville college basketball game on ESPN that attracted 2,150,000 viewers and drew a 0.61 in the key demo. With an 8:22 p.m. start, the UFC show had a time slot advantage because the college game started at 6:17 p.m.

Head to head, the UFC show also handily beat PBC boxing on FOX, with Jeison Rosario’s IBF, IBO and WBA title win over Julian Williams attracting 1,302,000 viewers, but only drawing a 0.3 rating in the 18-49 demo.

It was the largest number for a UFC pay-per-view prelim since UFC 205, the night of the first Madison Square Garden show on Nov. 12, 2016. That event was headlined by McGregor’s lightweight title win over Eddie Alvarez; the prelims for the much more loaded show did 1,801,000 viewers.

The record for prelim viewership is UFC 194, which garnered 1,931,000 viewers for McGregor vs. Jose Aldo. In second place is UFC 196, which was headlined by the first McGregor vs. Nate Diaz fight and did 1,843,000 viewers. Overall, cards headlined by McGregor occupy four of the top five spots. Only the UFC 200 prelims, in third place, cracked the top five without McGregor in the headliner.

While no pay-per-view numbers are available, 11 million people searched for the event on Google, one of the biggest totals in UFC history. A good UFC show typically amasses one million searches, so that would indicate McGregor vs. Donald Cerrone’s pay-per-view buyrate was easily the biggest since the promotion’s move to ESPN for streaming-only pay-per-views.

The show peaked at 1,911,000 viewers for one of the biggest upsets in UFC history, where Roxanne Modafferi won a decision over the previously unbeaten Maycee Barber, who fought most of the fight on a torn ACL.

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