6 burning questions heading into UFC on ESPN 4

The UFC’s assembly line keeps churning with UFC on ESPN 4 the latest in an endless supply of Saturday events.

Fortunately, the UFC’s return to San Antonio features enough intriguing matchups to give even the most burned-out fans a reason to tune in, not the least of which is the welterweight main event between former UFC lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos and red-hot Brit Leon Edwards.

UFC on ESPN 4 takes place Saturday at AT&T Center in San Antonio. The card airs on ESPN.

Without further ado, let’s get to the six burning questions that must be answered at UFC on ESPN 4.

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Can a red-hot Leon Edwards seize the moment in his biggest spotlight?

It’s a well established pattern at this point: Some fighters, whether because of their perceived marketability or reaction to the amount of noise they make on social media, get put on the fast track to success.

Then there are those who the UFC seems content to just have as another name on the roster, until they win so many fights in a row they can no longer be denied.

Such is the case for Edwards (17-3 MMA, 9-2 UFC), who’s had to scrape and claw for every bit of attention he’s received. Edwards (29-11 MMA, 18-9 UFC) has won seven consecutive bouts in the UFC welterweight division and nine of his past 10. His only main event to this point was a Fight Pass-streamed win over Donald Cerrone last year in Singapore that, let’s be honest here, few of you watched.

So now Edwards finally has the chance to seize the day, in the main event of an ESPN-broadcast card in a bout with the always dangerous dos Anjos, who is looking to reestablish himself after going 1-2 in his past three fights. With a loss, you can be sure the UFC will go back to just using Edwards as a name on European shows. Win, though, and the company can no longer deny his presence on the short list of top 170-pound contenders.

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Gegard Mousasi could be headed to welterweight in near future

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

BURBANK, Calif. — Gegard Mousasi previews his upcoming fight rematch Lyoto Machida at Bellator 228, discusses his recent suspicions of Rafael Lovator Jr.’s PED usage, hints at a possible move to welterweight and more.

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UFC on ESPN 4 ‘Dos Anjos vs. Edwards’ Play-by-Play, Results & Round Scoring

Sherdog’s live UFC on ESPN 4 coverage begins Saturday at 6 p.m. ET. View full post on Recent News on Sherdog.com

Unfiltered Episode 309: Alexander Hernandez, Leon Edwards & UFC San Antonio Preview

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Photos: UFC on ESPN 4 weigh-ins, faceoffs

Check out these photos from the UFC on ESPN 4 official weigh-ins and ensuing fighter faceoffs. (Photos by John Morgan-MMA Junkie)

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UFC announces Donald Cerrone vs. Justin Gaethje to headline Vancouver event

Donald Cerrone | Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Lightweight fireworks are heading to British Columbia.

On Friday, the UFC officially announced that a lightweight scrap between Donald Cerrone and Justin Gaethje will headline the upcoming UFC Vancouver card. The bout was initially reported by Yahoo! Sports, who received confirmation from president Dana White.

Cerrone (36-12, 1 NC), a former UFC and WEC title challenger, is looking to get back into the win column after suffering an unusual TKO loss to Tony Ferguson at UFC 238. “Cowboy” previously blitzed through Alexander Hernandez in January followed by a five-round beatdown of Al Iaquinta in May. These fights marked Cerrone’s return to the 155-pound division after spending three years at welterweight.

To date, Cerrone also holds several UFC records, including most most total wins (23), finishes (16), post-fight bonuses (17) and knockdowns (20).

Gaethje (20-2), a former World Series of Fighting champion, will look to make it three straight inside the Octagon. Most recently, “The Highlight” starched James Vick at UFC Lincoln followed by a first-round KO over Edson Barboza at UFC Philadelphia. Prior to this, Gaethje dropped pair of KO losses to current interim champion Dustin Poirier and former champion Eddie Alvarez, both of which earned him Fight of the Night honors.

The entire event goes down on Sept. 14 at Rogers Arena in in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Here is how the rest of the card stands:

Donald Cerrone vs. Justin Gaethje

Glover Teixeira vs. Nikita Krylov

David Branch vs. Andrew Sanchez

Marcin Tybura vs. Augusto Sakai

Uriah Hall vs. Antônio Carlos Júnior

Todd Duffee vs. Jeff Hughes

Misha Cirkunov vs. Jimmy Crute

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UFC on ESPN 4 Weigh-in Results: One Misses Weight in San Antonio

The Octagon heads to San Antonio, Texas, this Saturday for UFC on ESPN 4, where one fighter has missed weight.

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Roxanne Modafferi Seeks Mastery

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UFC on ESPN 4 weigh-in results and live video stream (10 a.m. ET)

SAN ANTONIO – MMA Junkie is on scene and reporting live from Friday’s early and official UFC on ESPN 4 fighter weigh-ins, which kick off at 10 a.m. ET (7 a.m. PT).

The early weigh-ins take place at the UFC host hotel in San Antonio. Unlike most UFC events, there are no ceremonial weigh-ins today for the fans ahead of Saturday’s card, which takes place at AT&T Center in San Antonio. The event airs on ESPN.

Among those weighing in are former lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos (29-11 MMA, 18-9 UFC) and Leon Edwards (17-3 MMA, 9-2 UFC), who meet in the welterweight main event.

The full UFC on ESPN 4 weigh-in results include:

MAIN CARD (ESPN, 9 p.m. ET)

  • Rafael dos Anjos () vs. Leon Edwards ()
  • Walt Harris () vs. Aleksei Oleinik ()
  • Juan Adams () vs. Greg Hardy ()
  • Dan Hooker () vs. James Vick ()
  • Alexander Hernandez () vs. Francisco Trinaldo ()
  • Andrei Arlovski () vs. Ben Rothwell ()

PRELIMINARY CARD (ESPN, 6 p.m. ET)

  • Alex Caceres () vs. Steven Peterson ()
  • Irene Aldana () vs. Raquel Pennington ()
  • Klidson Abreu () vs. Sam Alvey ()
  • Jennifer Maia () vs. Roxanne Modafferi ()
  • Ray Borg () vs. Gabriel Silva ()
  • Mario Bautista () vs. Jin Soo Son ()
  • Felipe Colares () vs. Domingo Pilarte ()

For more on UFC on ESPN 4, check out the MMA Schedule.

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Greg Hardy can’t outrun his past, but all he sees is the future

UFC Fight Night: Souza v Hermansson

Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

By this point, one year into Greg Hardy’s pro mixed martial arts career, most minds have been made up in regards to his presence. There are those who believe there is no place for him in professional athletics, let alone cagefighting. There are others who think that he has to earn a living somewhere, so why not let him use his physical gifts? There are still more who are torn on whether they can truly separate the art from the artist, so to speak, the way they might do with John Lennon and The Beatles catalog, or Norman Mailer and The Executioner’s Song.

Bad people sometimes do great things. Good people sometimes do bad things. Where exactly Hardy falls on that spectrum has not been definitively, legally proven, but there are enough clues to draw personal conclusions. Hardy knows he is a lightning rod for an important issue of our times, but he also understands that he cannot control the reaction to him. To hear him tell it, all of that occurs parallel to his own existence. To hear him tell it, he is just a man with an opportunity, one that he plans to take full advantage of.

One year in — 13 months to be specific — it’s safe to say he has maximized upon those openings. Hardy has already fought five times, and has his sixth bout scheduled for the Saturday night UFC San Antonio card, against an opponent who has publicly railed about him for over two years. He’s fighting on ESPN, and media attention inevitably follows him wherever he goes.

“It’s been a roller coaster,” he told MMA Fighting recently. “It’s been the time of my life. This is the second time I get to live out my dream and attack it full-speed ahead. It’s been terrible and wonderful all at the same time.”

In April, Hardy reached the UFC win column for the first time, stopping Dmitrii Smoliakov with punches. That followed his controversial debut, where he was disqualified for connecting on an illegal knee against a downed Allen Crowder.

Of course, results are only part of the story with Hardy. A former Pro Bowl defensive end who played for both the Carolina Panthers and Dallas Cowboys, his football life came to an unceremonious end one year after he was arrested for a domestic assault against his ex-girlfriend. Hardy was eventually convicted, though the conviction was later overturned after he appealed and the victim declined to testify in a retrial.

It is a part of his history he would no doubt like to erase. Yet one year into his pro fighting career, while the incident hangs over his reputation like a dark cloud, the intensity of reaction has begun to subside. Hardy is a marked man, but not unreasonably so. Now he is a man with a name, one that opponents like Juan Adams may trade upon for their own benefit.

“When I came into the sport, I was prepared for the worst,” he said. “After the things I’ve been through on the football side, it couldn’t get any worse. I had Jay Glazer saying I didn’t belong in the sport, I didn’t deserve to be here, I don’t deserve to live. Seeing stuff like that and seeing people talk like that gave me a new perspective on life. I used to be that guy, and it’s kind of gross if you think about it. Once I changed my perspective and changed my heart, I started getting a warmer welcome. I think it’s an amazing thing, the way people can change and open up. It shows how humanity is still alive in the world and how we can get better. We’re the most adaptable, phenomenal machines ever created.”

Hardy’s ability to turn a phrase has certainly served to soften his landing, even if slightly. He deftly sidesteps uncomfortable questions. He answers other queries thoughtfully. He occasionally flashes humility.

Mostly, he wants to slide the focus from his past to everything that lies ahead. And standing before him is Adams, a 6-foot-5, 290-pounder who wrestled at the Division I level and who takes this fight personally. His mother, he said, was a victim of domestic violence. He can remember being just six years old and standing helplessly as it occurred. Hardy is a proxy for revenge of that moment. Adams has badmouthed and threatened Hardy at every turn, but Hardy says he’s been unmoved by the campaign against him. In the NFL, it would be “bulletin board material.” But not here.

“I’m hyped up by true competitors, I’m hyped up by real athletes and sportsmen,” he said. “A man who wants to beat my face in because he wants to be the best in the world, that makes sense. But a boy, a child who runs his mouth for likes and views and jumps on a side that he has no information on, no idea about, it’s kind of sad to me. So I don’t respect that at all.”

Still, Hardy’s shots back at Adams are fairly restrained. He says he envisions winning the fight by putting Adams out and “maybe a hospital trip for my guy,” but acknowledges that all of these words back and forth don’t mean much. They are more for the fans than for each other. In the end, actions will win the day.

“I wish him all the best. I hope he trained hard,” he said. “I offer every single man on this planet the opportunity to test their mettle. Fear is nothing to me. A common mistake people make with me is they think I’m new to this athletic world, this competition world. I’m one of the sickest competitors on the planet. I welcome all challenges. I fight the baddest men on the planet every single day. This is nothing for me. Let’s bleed, let’s get it out, let’s do it.”

Hardy may never fully put the past behind him but to him, that’s everyone else’s issue. He has too much to do now, in this second chance to live out a dream.

He wants to be, he says, the greatest combat sports heavyweight ever. He has dabbled with the idea of boxing, and is willing to climb the ladder rung by rung. He may never earn redemption in the eyes of some, but he hopes to earn an undeniable reputation as a top fighter. It is the only public perception he can truly control.

“There’s so much negativity in the world, there are so many opportunities, especially on social media, for people who haven’t earned the ability to talk or haven’t gained the knowledge to speak intelligently. There’s just so much hate being thrown around. I call them ‘NARPs’ – non-athletic regular people. They haven’t been through camp, they haven’t had to just run the hill, just finish, just do it. They don’t understand purpose, just like I wouldn’t understand physics. Understanding is everything. Unless you open your heart and mind, you can’t receive any of that. You can’t receive another human being. It creates another negative black hole in the world. That is not productivity. That is not how you excel at the highest level.”

He has a long way to go to reach that highest level. He is not ranked, nor particularly close to it. But he can see the day coming. Even if fans continue to look backward — especially when they look backward — his focus is straight ahead.

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Robert Whittaker Says He’s Taking Fight with Israel Adesanya Seriously despite Lack of Trash Talk

Ultimate Fighting Championship middleweight champion Robert Whittaker has been his usual calm self in the face of a barrage of trash talking coming from his opponent, Israel Adesanya, whom he meets on Oct. 5 at UFC 243. View full post on Recent News on Sherdog.com

Alexander Hernandez Rewired Himself

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Ben Rothwell opens up on ‘dark time’ after USADA suspension


SAN ANTONIO – The last time Ben Rothwell met with the media, he was in no mood to talk.

Three months later, Rothwell (36-11 MMA, 6-5 UFC) can hardly contain himself as he approaches the first rematch of his 50-fight career, a second go-around with ex-UFC champ Andrei Arlovski (27-18 MMA, 16-12 UFC) at UFC on ESPN 4.

“It’s just the whole (U.S. Anti-Doping Agency) thing bothered me so much,” Rothwell told reporters, including MMA Junkie, at a media day for Saturday’s event at AT&T Center. “It was just such a dark time for me, the whole situation.”

What Rothwell is referring to is a two-year suspension he served when an out-of-competition drug test revealed an “anabolic androgenic steroid of exogenous origin.” He took the punishment and returned to face former WSOF and Bellator champ Blagoi Ivanov. But Rothwell seethed at the way he and others had been treated by the UFC’s anti-doping partner.

“It was what happened after the fact with other fighters, this whole leniency and inconsistency that bothered me,” Rothwell said. “I feel most for guys like Tom Lawlor and Lyoto Machida and Josh Barnett. These guys had years taken off (their careers), and now you see other people having the same issues getting six-month suspensions. It’s just not right.”

Lawlor, Machida and Barnett all ran afoul of USADA for violating the UFC’s anti-doping program. Although their cases were all different, and Barnett managed to avoid a suspension, Rothwell believes they were treated unfairly.

On his own case, Rothwell faults USADA for not looking at the full picture. He maintains he took testosterone as part of a legitimate treatment for hypogonadism following a car accident in 1999. He received an exemption for testosterone-replacement therapy in connection with a 2013 fight, but was later suspended by the UFC for elevated levels of the hormone.

“USADA could have come out and said, ‘This is an unfortunate situation. This is what happened. But this is our regulations, and this has to be it.’ Just at least notify that hey, Ben wasn’t cheating.

“Everything changed when they started talking about levels of things. When they started saying, ‘Oh, the levels were low, it didn’t matter for these other people.’ Well, then mine should have been part of it, because there was no cheating. Everything was regulated. All the testing was done by my doctors. Everything was shown where they’re at, why they’re doing it, why the therapist couldn’t treat me, because I had physical conditions and then when that was fixed, my therapist could treat me. But by that time, USADA had already done everything.

“One of the greatest challenges of my life was getting through this. And I did. I did get through it, and I can honestly say I feel stronger than I ever had in my life.”

Now 20 years into his career as a mixed martial artist, Rothwell said he’s still learning and is in better condition than ever. Despite his challenges, he’s grateful for the UFC and all he’s been through in the sport. Even feeling like his back is against the wall, he’s more determined to show he can prevail.

Participating in a worldwide sport has given Rothwell a purpose. Without that, he said, he’d be dead or working in a factory. And he is convinced he hasn’t given his best.

“MMA saved my life, and I feel like God has given me a purpose, and I have to see it through,” he said. “And I’m not done yet. For me, it’s now or never. Back’s against the wall. You guys have seen me down and out before, but this is different.”

For more on UFC on ESPN 4, check out the UFC schedule.

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Video: Max Holloway UFC 240 media lunch scrum

LOS ANGELES — UFC featherweight champion Max Holloway talk about his upcoming showdown against Frankie Edgar at UFC 240, and much more with the media Thursday afternoon.

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Sam Alvey Confident Everywhere Against Klidson Abreu

Sam Alvey knows he must win this one.

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Aleksei Oleinik Still Blazing His Own Unique Trail

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Alexander Hernandez thinks toughest opponent is himself: ‘It’s me vs. me, featuring whoever’


SAN ANTONIO – The last time Alexander Hernandez was in the octagon, he had just been knocked out by Donald Cerrone.

About seven months later, Hernandez (10-2 MMA, 2-1 UFC) is slated to return to action  against Brazil’s Francisco Trinaldo (23-6 MMA, 13-5 UFC) at UFC on ESPN 4 on Saturday night.

Hernandez, an assertive 26-year-old lightweight, has used the loss and subsequent time away to improve his mental approach to MMA as a whole. At a UFC on ESPN 4 media day held Thursday, Hernandez spoke with reporters and addressed the initial devastation of the loss and what knowledge he acquired as a result.

“It (bothered me) for a long time,” Hernandez told reporters, including MMA Junkie. “Especially (because) I see myself as the best. It’s not like I handle losses well. It’s not like I can go out and grab a beer afterwards and say, ‘Hey, good job, guys.’ It was a devastating loss. I don’t prepare myself ever expecting to lose. It was something I definitely had to go through a dark place to come out and see the light and grow from.

“No, I don’t dwell on that (expletive) at all anymore. I took everything I need to take from it. I think it probably happened at the best time of my career to have it happen – and against a worthy adversary. He taught me a lot in that fight. I learned a lot about myself. Every single time I step into the cage it’s ‘Me versus me, featuring whoever.’”

Saturday night, Trinaldo will serve as the “whoever” in Hernandez’s equation. In order to prevent transforming a loss into a losing streak, Hernandez said his biggest mental betterment has taking a calmer, more calculated approach.

“I have all the same skills,” Hernandez said. “They’ve just been refined, fine-tuned, and improved. But the way that I’m displaying them now at this cadence, rather than this blow-out pace of 120% out the gate. Having a professional pace to me, it changes absolutely everything. I’m in a much better place… I feel fantastic and it’s all putting the mental and physical together in a new approach to my fighting style. I really am in the best place I’ve ever been.”

Many viewers deemed the bout against Cerrone his breakthrough performance in the trash talk department, but Hernandez doesn’t see it that way. Trash talk or not, Hernandez said he’s being true to himself – and you shouldn’t expect that to change anytime soon.

“I didn’t lose an ounce of confidence from that last fight,” Hernandez said. “I bring that heat, because that’s who I am. I’m not trying to be a good guy, a bad guy, I’m just trying to be me. You can interpret that however the (expletive) you can interpret that, am I right?

“… But I can say confidently every single time somebody asks me how I’m going to do, I’m going to kill it. I’m going to murk this guy out and I’m going to do what I do best. That’s the thing about my, ‘trash talk.’ I’m not calling people out from left field (or) right field. You’re in my lane. You’re in my scope of business. I’m going to tell you how I handle my business. That’s all it is.”

UFC on ESPN 4 takes place Saturday at AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas. The card airs on ESPN.

For more on UFC on ESPN 4, check out the MMA Schedule.

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Max Holloway expects to challenge for lightweight title again

Max Holloway | Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Max Holloway isn’t letting his failed brush with lightweight greatness deter him.

Though “Blessed” recently saw a five-year unbeaten streak come to an end at the hands of Dustin Poirier—a defeat that prevented Holloway from adding an interim lightweight title to his list of accolades—he still believes that he can join the list of fighters who have held UFC championship belts in two weight classes. Speaking at a media lunch in Los Angeles on Thursday in advance of his upcoming featherweight title defense against Frankie Edgar at UFC 241, Holloway not only sought to remind everyone that he is still evolving, but that a lightweight championship could still be in his future.

“It’s in my history,” Holloway said. “You guys watch my fights, you guys go back to all my fights, I’m a different guy every time and come July 27 you guys are going to see a different guy in there again. The kid that showed up in April, the guy you’re looking at, standing in front of him, I’d kill that kid. I’d body him. There’s no comparison and it happens, this sport or life, period, is like Chutes and Ladders. Sometimes you’ve got to slide down to climb up a bigger ladder.

“‘55 ain’t far off. That’s only 10 pounds, that’s all it is, is 10 pounds. We’ll get back there when we get back there. Hopefully it’s sooner rather than later and we’ll see what happens. If it takes a 10-fight win streak to fight for another belt up there, become the double champ, it takes a 10-fight streak. That’s what it is. I ain’t scared of no work and you guys all know that. Put my nose down and get to work I guess.”

Holloway, 27, insisted that while he didn’t feel much of a difference competing at a higher weight class, the plan was always to go back down to 145 pounds. Several names such as Alexander Volkanovski, Zabit Magomedsharipov, and Chan Sung Jung have emerged as possible title challengers and though Holloway didn’t target anyone specific, he acknowledged that it makes sense for him to defend his own championship for now.

“I always wanted to and we’ve got unfinished business,” Holloway said. “There’s a lot of guys now coming up that are doing what they’re supposed to be doing and Frankie is a legend, he’s a legend. Third times a charm. It took two times to book this fight, I can’t wait.

“And I always said, champ is a champ and a king is a king of someone who defends their land, who defends their belt. That’s what true kings are, that’s what true kings do and I wanted to come back down.”

Holloway laughed at the fact that he’s been told he’s too big for featherweight and yet when it came time for him to face off with Poirier, he was then told he was too small for lightweight.

The bout with Poirier was announced in February and took place in April, which would suggest that Holloway may not have had an ideal amount of time to bulk up to a new weight class. However, “Blessed” scoffed at that talk and kept his usual attitude of “it is what it is” in regards to when the right moment will be for him to make a permanent move to 155 pounds.

“That was seven weeks to fight day, so I only had six weeks, we were still coming off of the December thing and was figuring stuff out,” Holloway said of the preparation for his UFC 236 lightweight bout. “We’ll see what happens. When I make the move I make the move and decide to put on more muscle and this and that. There’s always a narrative that people try to explore like, ‘He had to be there, he had to weigh this and that.’ There’s no difference.

“After this fight, if they call me out for August to fight D.C. (Daniel Cormier), guess what? I’m weighing around 210, 220 pounds, I’ll make that walk and I’ll fight him. You know what I mean? There’s no time in this. If you want to be the greatest pound-for-pound fighter in the world, I don’t think you should use weight as an excuse or anything really as an excuse. You just show up to fight.”

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