Youssef Zalal wants to keep making the most of big opportunities after UFC on ESPN+ 32


LAS VEGAS – Youssef Zalal beat Peter Barrett with a unanimous decision Saturday on the preliminary card at UFC on ESPN+ 32 in Las Vegas.

Take a look inside the fight with Zalal, who moved to 3-0 with three decision wins in the UFC since signing earlier this year.

Result: Youssef Zalal def. Peter Barrett via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-26, 30-27)
Updated records: Zalal (10-2 MMA, 3-0 UFC), Barrett (11-4 MMA, 0-1 UFC)
Key stat: Zalal more than doubled up on Barrett in the striking department, 85-41, and had nearly six and a half minutes of control time on the canvas.

Zalal on the fight’s key moment

“I feel good! I had a lot of things to prove to myself from that last fight, so I came in today – I don’t know if you guys saw me in the corner just talking to the coaches. I really didn’t listen in the last fight. It kind of messed me up. I’m young. I just learn every day and every fight. So I did a lot better than the last fight. I’m happy with that. I wish I got a finish. I’m so mad that I didn’t get a finish, but you move on to move on.”

Zalal on making the most of his opportunities

“This is my second fight in six weeks. It just shows the hard work that we did for the past, I don’t know how many years. I’ve got an amazing team, amazing people around me. I’m blessed and grateful for the opportunities. These opportunities don’t come around that often, so when you have the chance, you take them.”

Zalal on what he wants next

“Before 2020, we sat down with the coaches and decided it was really time to go and grow, really just push it, and see where life takes us. We never knew we would have three fights in 2020. We just went with the flow and really focused on getting better as a mixed martial artist – as a person in general. So for me, that was the main focus and fights came to me. I didn’t really have to rush for fights. Fights came in and I took them. I took the opportunities, and thank God – I’m grateful and blessed that I’m doing great.”

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

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Video: UFC 252 Embedded, Episode 1: ‘That felt more exhilarating than knocking out Eddie’

In the first episode of UFC 252: Embedded, headliners take center stage: Ex-champ Daniel Cormier faces his dislike of cold water and indicates his wrestling is going to win his triology with Stipe Miocic; Sean O’Malley trains for Marlon Vera in a humid warehouse and does a little Twitch streaming for his fans; and Stipe Miocic gives a tour of his man cave and a reveals a fondness for print media.

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Ashley Yoder Keen On Finding Her Groove

Even though wins haven’t been easy to come by for Ashley Yoder, she is confident she can still find her way in the Octagon.

Read the Full Article Here View full post on UFC News

Nasrat Haqparast credits newfound maturity for win over Munoz

LAS VEGAS – Nasrat Haqparast beat Alexander Munoz with a unanimous decision Saturday on the preliminary card at UFC on ESPN+ 32 in Las Vegas.

Take a look inside the fight with Haqparast, who handed Munoz the first loss of his pro career.

Result: Nasrat Haqparast def. Alexander Munoz via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Updated records: Haqparast (12-3 MMA, 4-2 UFC), Munoz (6-1 MMA, 0-1 UFC)
Key stat: Haqparast doubled up on Munonz in the striking department, 81-40.

Haqparast on the fight’s key moment

“It was for sure a very big moment for me personally. I had a lot of pressure and I really just wanted to show my real skill set. In my last fight against Drew Dober, I was immature. I wanted to kill him – my emotions took the best of me. Today, I really got to show my skill set and it’s just the beginning.”

Haqparast on not underestimating his opponent

“Alex was 6-0 and you should not forget he is the wrestling coach of Team Alpha Male. In the octagon, it’s always 0-0. It’s not the guy with the biggest experience against the other one. Sometimes we see big upsets. You should never take anyone lightly just because he doesn’t have UFC fights. It was his debut. He had a lot of pressure. He was trained for years. He was a super athlete and had a good chin. It was a good test for me just to improve my skills, improve my octagon confidence. In my opinion, I have the best team in the world. We can beat everybody with good preparation. It takes time. We will get better and I really think we have the potential to do something great.”

Haqparast on what he wants next

“Now I’ll go back to Germany, take some family time, take some rest because of some injuries, then I’ll go back to training.”

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

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Colby Covington vs. Tyron Woodley targeted for showdown at UFC event on Sept. 19

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

The long-awaited fight between former teammates Colby Covington and Tyron Woodley finally has a targeted date, with the welterweights expected to meet at a UFC event on Sept. 19 in Las Vegas.

Woodley initially posted the news on Instagram. Multiple people with knowledge of the booking confirmed to MMA Fighting that the matchup is currently in the works for the Sept. 19 card, although contracts have not been issued or signed at this time. UFC officials have not confirmed the matchup yet.

The rivalry between Covington and Woodley stretches back several years after they were previously training partners at American Top Team in Florida. Covington then went on a very public campaign against Woodley in hopes of scoring a welterweight title shot.

Covington eventually went onto claim the interim welterweight title in June 2018, but he was forced to undergo sinus surgery in the aftermath of a five-round fight with Rafael dos Anjos. That ultimately prevented him from fighting Woodley in September, and the UFC eventually moved onto offer the title opportunity to Darren Till.

Woodley then suffered a thumb injury that prevented him from competing again until March 2019. But the UFC decided to give Kamaru Usman a title shot rather than offering the matchup to Covington again.

The latest attempt to book the fight came in August after Covington posted a copy of a signed bout agreement while calling out Woodley for not signing the contract. It turned out Woodley was offered that date, but he was unable to compete on that timeline following his loss to Gilbert Burns in May.

Now it appears all of the obstacles have been cleared for Covington and Woodley to finally go to war on Sept. 19.

The fight will not only bring the rivals head-to-head in a highly anticipated clash between top welterweights, but it will also serve as an opportunity for both to bounce back from recent losses.

Woodley seeks to return to the win column after back-to-back losses to Usman and Burns. Meanwhile, Covington makes his first appearance since suffering a fifth-round TKO to Usman this past December.

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Russian Lightweight Roman Bogatov Released from UFC After Foul-Filled Debut

Roman Bogatov has been released from the Ultimate Fighting Championship after just one appearance with the Las Vegas-based promotion. View full post on Recent News on Sherdog.com

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Triple Take: Who should Michael Chandler fight if he joins UFC?

Following his first-round demolition of former UFC and WEC lightweight champion Benson Henderson in the main event of Bellator 243, three-time former Bellator lightweight champ Michael Chandler confirmed his intention to explore free agency.

Given his top-level record and marketability, there’s likely to be no shortage of potential suitors for the 34-year-old Chandler, but his comments during his post-fight press conference hinted that his preference is likely to be to join the UFC. So if he did, who should Chandler fight in his octagon debut?

That’s the question we posed to MMA Junkie’s Simon Head, Farah Hannoun and Nolan King in this installment of “Triple Take.”

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Coach: Geoff Neal expected to recover after mysterious ailment that caused staphylococcal pneumonia, sepsis

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

UFC welterweight Geoff Neal is resting at home after a serious health scare sent him to the ICU in critical condition.

Neal’s coach, Sayif Saud of Fortis MMA, said his fighter is expected to make a full recovery with the right precautions after the close call that canceled his fight against Neil Magny.

“We’re glad he’s getting back to health and he’s fine,” Saud told MMA Fighting. “We’ll deal with the MMA stuff down the road. That’s just not a priority right now.”

It’s still unclear exactly what happened to Neal, Saud said. Several doctors were unable to diagnose the issue. When the he arrived at an emergency room this past Friday, he was suffering from staphylococcal pneumonia. After being transferred to another hospital, his kidneys started failing, and he was septic. He was immediately put on dialysis and transferred to critical care.

“His blood pressure was so low, the nurse said, ‘We’re going to move him to the ICU right now,’” Saud said. “I was like, ‘Why? She goes, ‘He’s in critical condition.’”

Neal’s temperature got as high as 104 degrees at the peak of the illness. The severity shocked Saud, who’d ordered Neal to go to the hospital this past week after the fighter sent several texts saying he didn’t feel right, and a team doctor diagnosed a fever.

“For a few days, I thought he wasn’t going to make it,” Saud said. “To go from getting a fight, [and] everybody was waiting for him, no one would fight him and Neil Magny stepped up, to go from that to hearing that was just heartbreaking. I was just so worried about him as a person.”

Tests run on Neal at the first hospital were negative for the flu, COVID-19 and other ailments, Saud said. Doctors suspected he might have viral viral meningitis, which can’t be cured with antibiotics, or may have had a weakened immune system from a previous bout with COVID. But because hospitalization wasn’t recommended, he was sent home.

The next day, Neal told Saud he had a pain in his neck and the back of his head and felt “just not normal.” Saud ordered him to another hospital, where he was diagnosed with pneumonia and other lung ailments and transferred.

Saud credits his physician, Dr. Anthony Lyssy, for spotting the pneumonia and sepsis and getting Neal the care he needed. He also said the UFC was “there to support us 100 percent” and received daily calls from UFC execs Hunter Campbell and Sean Shelby.

“The exact words were, ‘Whatever Geoff needs, we got him,’” Saud said.

The coach plans to visit Neal soon; the welterweight was released from the hospital on Sunday and wasn’t allowed to see anyone due to pandemic protocols. Neal posted on Instagram that “life hit me with a check hook” and advised his followers, “stay healthy out there y’all and listen to your body at all times.”

Ex-champ Robbie Lawler will step in for Neal against Magny on Aug. 29. When Neal starts the recovery process, Saud expects his student to excel.

“If there’s anybody who’s going to put into building their body back strong, it’s going to be these guys,” he said. “They work so hard anyway.”

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Colby Covington-Tyron Woodley Welterweight Showdown Agreed to for Sept. 19

A long-awaited welterweight showdown between bitter rivals could be a little more than one month away. View full post on Recent News on Sherdog.com

Brandon Moreno vs. Alex Perez targeted for Nov. 21 at UFC 255

Neither Brandon Moreno nor Alex Perez were chosen as the next UFC flyweight title challenger, but both men still could be in play if needed.

As it stands, Moreno (17-5-1 MMA, 6-2-1 UFC) and Perez (24-5 MMA, 6-1 UFC) are expected to fight each other Nov. 21 at UFC 255. A person with knowledge of the situation confirmed the planned booking to MMA Junkie on Monday following an initial report from Spanish-language website Milenio.

UFC 251 currently is set to be headlined by a 125-pound title fight between champion Deiveson Figueiredo and ex-bantamweight champ Cody Garbrandt, who was chosen to challenge for the belt over top contenders Moreno and Perez. Should Garbrandt, who’s making his flyweight debut, not make weight, the UFC could turn to Moreno or Perez to step in.

Moreno is ranked No. 4 in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMA Junkie flyweight rankings. He hasn’t been beaten in his last four fights, going 3-0-1 during that stretch. In his most recent bout, Moreno won a unanimous decision against Jussier Formiga in March at UFC on ESPN+ 28.

Perez, meanwhile, is No. 5 at 125 pounds and is riding a three-fight winning streak. His most recent victory also came against Formiga in June at UFC 250. Perez won the fight by TKO with vicious leg kicks.

Prior to Garbrandt getting the nod, both Moreno and Perez had expressed their desire to challenge Figueiredo, who claimed the vacant title last month with a first-round technical submission of Joseph Benavidez. If nothing else, Moreno vs. Perez could serve to determine the following No. 1 contender.

With the addition, the latest UFC 255 lineup includes:

  • Champ Deiveson Figueiredo vs. Cody Garbrandt – for flyweight title
  • Champ Valentina Shevchenko vs. Jennifer Maia – for women’s flyweight title
  • Brandon Moreno vs. Alex Perez

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Brandon Moreno vs. Alex Perez set for UFC 255 in November

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

With the flyweight championship on the line in the main event, a pivotal matchup has been added to the UFC’s November pay-per-view card to likely determine the next title challenger.

Multiple people with knowledge of the promotion’s plans confirmed to MMA Fighting that a top-five matchup between Brandon Moreno and Alex Perez is being targeted for UFC 255 following an initial report from Milenio. The event will take place Nov. 21 in a location yet to be officially announced, but expected to be Abu Dhabi.

While both fighters stated their case to be the first to challenge newly-crowned champion Deiveson Figueiredo on a recent episode of MMA Fighting’s What the Heck, the shot went to former bantamweight champion Cody Garbrandt in the event’s headliner.

Moreno is unbeaten in his last four fights, which began with a fourth-round TKO win over Maikel Perez at LFA 69 that lead to a quick return to the UFC after being released in 2018. “The Assassin Baby” opened up his second promotional stint by fighting Askar Askarov to a split draw at UFC Mexico City this past September before picking up back-to-back wins over Kai Kara-France and Jussier Formiga.

Perez enters the fight a winner of three straight, and 11 of 12. Following a first-round TKO loss to Joseph Benavidez at the TUF 28 Finale in November 2018, the Team Oyama 125er picked up a unanimous decision victory over Mark De La Rosa, and consecutive finishes of Jordan Espinosa at UFC Raleigh in January and Formiga at UFC 250.

The women’s flyweight title will also be on the line in the UFC 255 co-main event as Valentina Shevchenko will defend against Jennifer Maia.

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Flyweights Brandon Moreno, Alex Perez to Clash at UFC 255 on Nov. 21

A pivotal flyweight tilt pitting Brandon Moreno against Alex Perez has been added to the UFC 255 lineup. View full post on Recent News on Sherdog.com

UFC 252 ‘Embedded,’ No. 1: Sean O’Malley just feels ‘super dangerous right now’

The UFC returns to pay-per-view Saturday with UFC 252, and the promotion’s popular “Embedded” series is back to help build the excitement ahead of the action.

UFC 252 takes place at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. The main card streams on pay-per-view following prelims on ESPN and ESPN+.

In the main event, a highly anticipated trilogy takes place as heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic will defend his title against former champ-champ Daniel Cormier to settle their 1-1 tie. And in the co-headliner, rising prospect Sean O’Malley takes on Marlon Vera in a key bantamweight showdown.

The first episode of “Embedded” follows three of the featured fighters as fight night draws near. Below is the UFC’s description:

Daniel Cormier trains in the swimming pool, practices his golf swing and watches UFC with his family. Sean O’Malley works hard and games hard. Heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic shows off his man cave ahead of his rubber match against Cormier.

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Roman Bogatov released from UFC following foul-filled debut loss to Leonardo Santos

UFC 251: Santos v Bogatov

Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

Roman Bogatov’s stint in the UFC is over after only one fight.

The Russian was released from his contract following a loss to Leonardo Santos at UFC 251 in July. Promotion officials confirmed the news to MMA Fighting on Monday following an initial report from TASS in Russia.

Bogatov’s short career with the UFC came to an end after he engaged in one of the most foul-filled fights in recent memory.

He was cautioned after a pair of illegal knee strikes tagged Santos below the belt. A third illegal blow hit Santos in the head, and at that point referee Marc Goddard issued a rare two-point deduction.

Bogatov ultimately lost the fight by unanimous decision after three rounds.

Prior to his UFC debut, Bogatov had amassed a 10-0 resume including a run as the M-1 lightweight champion. He is the latest athlete to be released by the UFC following news that both Ray Borg and Eric Spicely also had their contracts terminated.

Despite the repeated fouls, Santos managed to keep his sense of humor intact. He cited a previous career fight where he took several illegal shots before winning and quipped, “When it hurts my groin, I win the fight.”

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Mason Jones to Meet Adam Proctor for Vacant Welterweight Championship at CW 116

Two of the best European prospects are going to clash at Cage Warriors Fighting Championship as part of “The Trilogy”, the trio of consecutive events the British promotion has planned for its September return. View full post on Recent News on Sherdog.com

Undefeated Grant Neal promises the best is yet to come after Bellator 243 victory

UNCASVILLE, Conn. – Grant Neal continued his perfect start to life as a professional mixed martial artist with a shutout victory on the scorecards at Bellator 243, but admitted there is still plenty of room for improvement.

Neal (4-0 MMA, 3-0 BMMA) defeated Hamza Salim with scores of 30-26, 30-27 and 30-24 in a dominant performance in his preliminary card bout at Mohegan Sun Arena. Reflecting on his victory, the Colorado light heavyweight said the scorecards showed not just his dominance, but also his opponent’s staying power.

“Well, I mean, it’s definitely rare, and that’s actually a compliment to my opponent,” Neal told reporters, including MMA Junkie, after the fight. “I mean, 30-24, that sounds like a finish to me, but he stayed in there and he stayed tough. He was sticky, like, he wanted to be there in the cage, so that’s kudos to him (for) coming out there tough. It’s a tough sport.

But rather than being satisfied with his dominance on the scorecards, Neal saw the result against Salim (5-3 MMA, 0-1 BMMA) as an opportunity to improve, and said that he should be turning positions of dominance into fight finishes.

“That’s just back to me and the drawing board,” he said. “I’ve got to recognize those positions and finish the fight.”

Just four fights into his professional MMA career, Neal is keeping his feet firmly on the ground, and said he’s looking forward to seeing how far he can progress in the sport after his latest victory.

“He was a tough opponent, and that just gives me excitement, because it means there’s a lot more to come,” he said. “I’m not anywhere near the peak or the pinnacle, so I’m super-excited about it.”

Rather than resting on his laurels, Neal said he’d love the opportunity to keep the momentum rolling, and said he would be happy to take whatever opportunities to compete Bellator throws his way. During the uncertain times of the COVID-19 pandemic, he said he feels an obligation to take whatever he’s offered.

“Right now I really feel for everybody out there in the world who don’t have the opportunity to work,” he said. “The coronavirus has really uprooted a lot of people’s lives. So it would be absolutely selfish of me to have an opportunity to continue to work and not do it. And I have an awesome opportunity and I’m just going to continue to put on shows for all of my fans and gain more fans. I want to bring everybody along for the ride, especially during such hard times.”

Check out Neal’s full post-fight comments via the video above.

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Zabit Magomedsharipov announces he will not fight on Aug. 29, returning to Russia for now

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Featherweight contender Zabit Magomedsharipov will not be fighting on Aug. 29 after his original opponent Yair Rodriguez dropped out of their scheduled matchup due to injury.

The Russian fighter made the announcement on Instagram with additional sources confirming the news to MMA Fighting on Monday.

Based on his post, Magomedsharipov said a viable option was not available to keep him interested in the upcoming August date for his return to action. He added that he “asked for either a fight for the belt or a fight with some interesting opponent with a name” but nothing came together in time.

The 18-1 featherweight, who has gone undefeated thus far in his campaign with the UFC, ultimately decided to return home to Russia and wait to fight another day.

Magomedsharipov last fought in November 2019 when he earned a unanimous decision over Calvin Kattar in a main event fight in Moscow, Russia.

Since that time, the 29-year-old fighter has been rumored for the showdown with Rodriguez but after he suffered an ankle injury that will keep him sidelined for several weeks, the fight was scrapped.

In the wake of that fight falling apart, Kattar attempted to land a rematch with Magomedsharipov but obviously it didn’t happen.

Magomedsharipov vs. Rodriguez was also rumored to headline the upcoming card on Aug. 29 but now the UFC will be forced to scramble to find a new main event.

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Zabit Magomedsharipov Announces He Will Not Fight at UFC Card on Aug. 29

It appears that Zabit Magomedsharipov will not receive a replacement opponent at UFC Fight Night on Aug. 29. View full post on Recent News on Sherdog.com

Marlon Vera confident win over ‘brat’ Sean O’Malley puts him close to top five at bantamweight

Marlon Vera’s next performance will have the MMA world looking closely.

The Ecuadorian fighter will be competing in the co-main event of UFC 252 on Saturday night in Las Vegas, which is being headline by a heavyweight trilogy bout between champion Stipe Miocic and Daniel Cormier. And of top of getting co-main event billing on a pay-per-view card, Vera (15-6-1 MMA, 9-5 UFC) takes on Sean O’Malley (12-0 MMA, 4-0 UFC) – one of the most popular fighters today in the sport.

Vera is eager to get in the cage and fight O’Malley and sees it as a great opportunity to boost himself up in the rankings.

“This is a fight that puts me close to the top five,” Vera said in Spanish on Monday’s episode of “Hablemos MMA.” “We’ve seen fighters like Cody Garbrandt, who are coming off three defeats, beat someone who’s basically outside of the rankings like (Raphael) Assuncao, knocks him out, and gets in the top three above Pedro Munhoz, who knocked him out.

“So the rankings make no sense. But since this is a popularity contest, I beat the brat, and they have to put me in the top, so good for me.”

Vera is in one of his best career moments, standing at 5-1 in his past six outings, with the lone loss being a controversial decision defeat to Song Yadong in May.

“Chito” is glad to be getting a big fight despite having come up short in his previous bout.

“They’re treating me like if I were coming off a win,” Vera said. “I’m fighting co-main event with someone who’s in the rankings, so obviously it was a robbery of a defeat. It still sets you a few steps down, but what the UFC is giving me is if I were coming off a victory. So I’m happy, and I’m going to recover what was taken from me last time.”

O’Malley has been beefing online with other fighter in the buildup to UFC 252. Vera said he doesn’t care if “Sugar” is underestimating him and finds it silly that top-ranked fighters are engaging with responding to O’Malley comments.

“I couldn’t give a sh-t if he’s underestimating me or not,” Vera said. “I don’t care what he thinks or does. What does matter is that Saturday, he’s going to have me in front of him and not those idiots that are replying to him, giving him fame and credibility.

“If I’m on top, why am I going to be trash-talking someone below me? It doesn’t have logic. The champion, himself, is replying to him. People need to use their brain a little more, but it seems they’re stupid because if I’m the champion and someone if the top-15 is talking sh-t, I’m obviously going to keep an eye on him and be ready for him, but I’m not going to be replying to someone who’s far from fighting for the title. But to each to their own. Thanks to them for making this fight bigger for me.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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