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Dana White: UFC in ‘no hurry’ to book Michael Chandler’s first fight, hints at ‘Fight Island’ debut

LAS VEGAS – Michael Chandler may not have his UFC debut booked just yet, but there’s no reason to worry, according to UFC president Dana White.

The UFC lightweight division is the subject of much speculation and excitement following Khabib Nurmagomedov’s retirement announcement after UFC 254 in October, and a pair of big-time lightweight matchups have already been booked, with Tony Ferguson set to face Charles Oliveira before Dustin Poirier rematches Conor McGregor.

The fact that Chandler (21-5 MMA, 0-0 UFC), who was drafted in as a backup for Nurmagomedov’s win over Justin Gaethje at UFC 254, hasn’t yet been booked for his octagon debut has raised question marks over who he’ll face, and when. But when speaking to reporters, including MMA Junkie, backstage at the UFC Apex after UFC on ESPN 18, White explained that the UFC was simply making sure the former Bellator champion arrived for his debut at 100 percent.

“The problem with Michael Chandler right now is he stepped up for that fight and he cut weight, so he can’t turn around as fast as these other guys can right now. We can’t do that to him,” he said. “So, no hurry, take his time, get his body back together. We’ll get him something soon.”

While White wouldn’t be drawn on identity of Chandler’s debut opponent, he did hint that the new arrival may make his debut when the UFC returns to “Fight Island” in Abu Dhabi early in 2021.

“Once we go back to Abu Dhabi there’s going to be a lot of big fights coming up here, so he’ll be a part of something,” he stated.

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Randy Costa vs. Trevin Jones on tap for UFC event on March 6


Thomas Lakes, MMA Fighting

A fight between exciting bantamweights is heading to the octagon in early March.

Multiple people with knowledge of the promotion’s plans confirmed to MMA Fighting that a matchup between Randy Costa and Trevin Jones will take place at the UFC’s event on March 6. The card, as of now, does not have a location or venue.

MMA Junkie was the first to report the booking.

After losing his octagon debut in just his fifth pro fight to Brandon Davis at UFC 236, Costa has responded with consecutive first-round finishes. “The Zohan” put away Boston Salmon in just over two minutes in front of a hometown crowd at UFC Boston in October 2019. In his most recent appearance, Costa earned his first performance bonus when he knocked out Journey Newson in just 41 seconds at UFC Vegas 11.

Jones opened up a ton of eyes with an outstanding come from behind finish of Timur Valiev at UFC on ESPN 15. Unfortunately, the Nevada Athletic Commission overturned the victory to a no-contest following a positive marijuana test.

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MMA’s week out of the cage: Dillon Danis responds to Jake Paul’s boxing challenge

Social media has become a significant part of the sporting landscape. But few, if any, professional sports match the level of interaction and personal access provided by MMA.

In an individual competition in which nearly every athlete is chasing the same goal of financial success and championship glory, it’s important for fighters to provide insight into their lives in order to connect with fans and gain followings.

Although the life of a fighter often can be mundane and repetitive, there still are moments of interest that take place outside the cage, ring or training room. Here are some of the most interesting of those occurrences from the past week.

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UFC books Beneil Dariush vs. Diego Ferreira rematch for Feb. 6


Carlos Diego Ferreira looks to remain unbeaten against Beneil Dariush at UFC 179.
Diego Ferreira and Beneil Dariush first met at UFC 179 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 2014. | Guilherme Cruz, MMA Fighting

Diego Ferreira will attempt to avenge his first MMA loss when he meets Beneil Dariush at a UFC Fight Night event on Feb. 6, multiple people with knowledge of the booking told MMA Fighting. ESPN first reported the matchup.

Dariush and Ferreira were originally scheduled to face Charles Oliveira and Drew Dober in October and November, respectively, but both bouts fell through.

Dariush (19-4-1) was in his first year as a UFC fighter when he met the Brazilian in Rio de Janeiro in 2014, winning via unanimous decision. Dariush enters the rematch riding a five-fight winning streak over Scott Holtzman, Drakkar Klose, Frank Camacho, Drew Dober and Thiago Moises.

Ferreira (17-2) had a perfect 11-0 record when he lost to Dariush in his home country. Ferreira, who turns 36 in January, won his last six in the UFC, including a second-round stoppage over Anthony Pettis and decisions against Mairbek Taisumov and Rustam Khabilov.

The Fight Night show will be headlined by heavyweights Alistair Overeem and Alexander Volkov. The UFC has yet to announce its location.

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Beneil Dariush vs. Diego Ferreira set for UFC’s Super Bowl Saturday card

The UFC’s Super Bowl Saturday event continues to build with the addition of a lightweight fight – and it’s a rematch.

Beneil Dariush (19-4-1 MMA, 13-4-1 UFC) will put his hot streak on the line when he takes on Diego Ferreira (17-2 MMA, 8-2 UFC), who is on a big run of his own. MMA Junkie on Sunday confirmed the matchup with a person with knowledge of the booking. The person requested anonymity because the promotion has not yet made a formal announcement. The new first was reported by UFC broadcast partner ESPN.

The UFC’s Super Bowl weekend card takes place Feb. 6. A location and venue have not yet been announced, but the promotion’s U.S.-based events have been taking place at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas during the pandemic. International events have been on “Fight Island” in Abu Dhabi.

Dariush and Ferreira first fought inn October 2014 at UFC 179. Dariush won a unanimous decision in that fight – and handed Ferreira the first loss of his pro career after a perfect 11-0 start.

Dariush is on a five-fight winning streak that includes four straight stoppage wins. In August, a first-round spinning backfist knockout of Scott Holtzman was marred by Dariush missing weight for the first time. Prior to that, he had three straight bonus-winning performances with submissions of Drew Dober and Frank Camacho and a knockout of Drakkar Klose.

Ferreira has won six straight fights, and by the time he steps into the cage with Dariush he’ll have gone nearly six years since his most recent loss. After he lost to Dariush, he was knocked out by Dustin Poirier in April 2015 for a second straight setback, and he’s been perfect since then. Included in Ferreira’s current streak are three stoppages, including a January submission of former lightweight champion Anthony Pettis, which arguably is the biggest win on his resume.

With the addition, the UFC’s Feb. 6 card now includes:

  • Alistair Overeem vs. Alexander Volkov
  • Macy Chiasson vs. Marion Reneau
  • Molly McCann vs. Lara Procopio
  • Macy Chiasson vs. Marion Reneau
  • Aliaskhab Khizriev vs. Wellington Turman
  • Julio Arce vs. Timur Valiev
  • Seungwoo Choi vs. Steven Peterson
  • Clay Guida vs. Michael Johnson
  • Beneil Dariush vs. Diego Ferreira

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Roy Jones Jr. praises Mike Tyson, discusses fighting again: ‘Thank God boxing ain’t drugs, ‘cause I’d never say no’


Roy Jones Jr. and Mike Tyson | Getty Images for Triller

Roy Jones Jr. improbably crossed an item off his bucket list on Saturday.

In an exhibition boxing bout that drew massive interest despite some confusion about its rules, Jones went the distance with fellow legend Mike Tyson in the main event of a show that took place at Staples Center in Los Angeles. Though Tyson was the aggressor for much of the bout, Jones apparently did enough to earn a draw decision on celebrity judges’ scorecards.

Jones, a four-division champion who won a middleweight world title in 1993 and 10 years later became a heavyweight champion, wasn’t ecstatic about the draw, but he reflected positively on the experience of going the distance with one of the most feared fighters in boxing history.

“Of course, everybody’s always gonna feel like they won the fight,” Jones said at the Saturday’s post-fight press conference. “I thought I won the fight, I thought I jabbed, moved around, and kind of controlled the pace better. But I took a draw with Mike Tyson, how could you get mad about that? He’s throwing more power punches anyway, I’m throwing more jabs and other punches, he landed more power punches, so it could go either way.

“I’m cool with the draw. I hear him talking about how he want to do it again, but he’s a big ol’ dude. He weighed 220, but he’s more massive than 220, trust me.”

With interest for the event reportedly trending well (buyrate information for the Tyson vs. Jones Jr. pay-per-view event won’t be available until a later date), Jones might not shut the door on competing again, even if just in an exhibition capacity. He previously competed as a pro in February 2018, ending his career with a win over Scott Sigmon.

While Jones, 51, is planning to have a discussion with his family first before even considering another walk to the ring, he’s confident that Tyson, 54, could find success in a comeback run.

“Mike can fight anybody if he just keeps going and stays in shape like he’s doing now,” Jones said. “Because it surprised me that he was able to go them eight rounds like that, so with him going eight rounds as strong as he was, he’s capable of fighting anybody.

“Truthfully, people are going to have problems getting out of the first couple of rounds with him. That was the hardest part is getting past them first two or three rounds. If he catch you, you’re gonna have problems. Like I said, I was feeling everything, so I now that he’s a really exceptional puncher still and he can do anything he wants to do. For him, it makes sense to do it a smart way, but he can do anything he want to do.”

Though there were stretches of inactivity, prior to his retirement in 2018 Jones was an active competitor for nearly 30 years. He’d stuck to that up until booking this exhibition bout with Tyson, but now that he’s back in action it sounds like he wants more. Earlier this week, he entertained the notion of an oft-discussed boxing bout with former UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva, who is currently a free agent.

But again, Jones has people to answer to at home and if they don’t sign off on another fight, then don’t expect to see Jones fighting anymore.

“I don’t really have a good sense about boxing,” Jones said. “If somebody calls me I’ll say I’ll do it. It’s not really fair to ask me, you should ask my other counsel because I’m not really too smart. I don’t know how to say no. So thank God boxing ain’t drugs, ‘cause I’d never say no.

“I don’t really know what to tell you right now. If it’s me, of course you know me I want to get back in there. But it’s not just about me.”

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4 biggest takeaways from UFC on ESPN 18: Did Anthony Smith save his career?

What mattered most at UFC on ESPN 18 in Las Vegas? Here are a few post-fight musings …

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Video: Lukasz Borowski suffers gruesome ear injury at FEN show


Pawel Trybala and Lukasz Borowski at an FEN show in Lodz, Poland, on Saturday | @FENmma, Twitter

(Warning: Post contains video and photos of graphic injury)

They always to protect your neck, but maybe now it’s time for fighters to start protecting their ears?

On Saturday, Lukasz Borowski nearly lost his ear in the middle of his fight with Pawel Trybala at a Fight Exclusive Night show in Lodz, Poland. Early in the second round, the referee noticed that the bloody organ was hanging off the side of Borowski’s head and he quickly moved to have the injury examined.

Trybala, who improved to 7-3 with the win, actually landed a couple of hard shots to the side of Borowski’s head before the referee intervened. Fortunately for Borowski, the bout was waved off before any further damage could occur.

Borowski is the third fighter in six weeks to nearly lose his ear. At a Taura MMA show on Oct. 23, Johnny Campbell’s left ear was ravaged in a bout against Ary Farias, and two weeks later it was Ramiz Brahimaj who suffered a similar injury in a loss to Max Griffin at UFC Vegas 13.

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Bill Algeo Explains Reasoning Behind Callout of ‘D—head’ Giga Chikadze

Shortly after Bill Algeo earned his first Octagon triumph with a unanimous verdict over Spike Carlyle at UFC on ESPN 18, he issued a callout to Giga Chikadze. View full post on Recent News on Sherdog.com

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UFC on ESPN 18 post-event facts: Heavyweights set new benchmark for output

The UFC’s final event of a busy November went down Saturday with UFC on ESPN 18, which unfolded at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas.

The makeshift headliner saw Anthony Smith (33-16 MMA, 9-6 UFC) regain momentum as a light heavyweight contender in the form of a first-round submission win over Devin Clark (12-5 MMA, 6-5 UFC).

For more on the numbers behind Smith’s victory, as well as the rest of the card, check below for 35 post-event facts to come out of UFC on ESPN 18.

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Video: 139-pound woman TKO’s 529-pound man at MMA event in Russia



Just when you thought you’ve seen everything in the wild world of mixed martial arts, something else comes around that creates a double take.

Russian promotion “Our Business” put together a matchup at their most recent event that saw 139-pound female fighter Darina Madzyuk take on a male fighter named Grigory Chistyakov. If a cross-gender matchup isn’t enough to make you shrug your shoulders a bit, Chistyakov is 529-pounds.

After Madzyuk was landing strikes at distance, Chistyakov was able to push her against the fence. The referee would call for a separation which turned out to be a complete game changer for Madzyuk.

The women’s bantamweight fighter landed a flurry of shots on the feet, stunning and dropping her opponent to the canvas.

Being outweighed by nearly 400 pounds, Madzyuk landed a barrage of punches to her grounded opponent and forced Chistyakov to tap to strikes in the first round.

All’s well that ends well, and here’s hoping for responsible matchmaking in the sport moving forward.

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Miguel Baeza Praises Teammate Colby Covington: ‘He’s a Different Person in the Gym’

With three finishes in his first three promotional appearances, Miguel Baeza looks like an emerging star in the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s welterweight division. View full post on Recent News on Sherdog.com

Mike Tyson says he smoked marijuana before Roy Jones Jr. fight: ‘It’s just who I am’

(This story first was published at USA TODAY.)

LOS ANGELES – Mike Tyson said he smoked marijuana right before he fought Roy Jones Jr. on Saturday in his celebrated return to the boxing ring at 54.

“Absolutely, yes,” he said during his post-fight news conference.

Tyson and Jones fought to a draw in an eight-round exhibition match at Staples Center in Los Angeles. The fight was scored by three former WBC champions.

After the bout, Tyson indicated he smoked again, apparently before he met with the media to discuss his first fight in 15 years.

“Listen, I can’t stop smoking,” he said. “I smoked during fights. I just have to smoke. I’m sorry. I’m a smoker. … I smoke every day. I never stopped smoking.”

Fighting in an exhibition rather than a professional fight apparently gave Tyson some wiggle room. The Voluntary Anti-Doping Association tested the fighters for performance-enhancing drugs prior to the bout, but marijuana reportedly was not on the list of banned substances.

Tyson said he stopped using cocaine about 2 1/2 years ago, but that turns out not to be the case for marijuana – even inside the ring.

“It’s just who I am,” he said. “It has no effect on me from a negative standpoint. It’s just what I do and how I am and how I’m going to die. There’s no explanation. There’s no beginning. There’s no end.”

Did the marijuana help numb the pain Saturday night?

“No, it just numbs me,” he said. “It doesn’t numb the pain.”

The bout proved entertaining, with Tyson looking fit and powerful and landing hard punches to Jones’ body. For his part, Jones flashed some of his old showmanship but also kept Tyson tied up for much of the fight as a means of survival.

Although Tyson said he didn’t know how much money the fight generated, but he assured his winnings won’t be spent the way they were in the past, when he squandered much of the $685 million that Forbes reported Tyson earned during his career.

“I’m here for a purpose,” he said. “I’m not here for my ego. My ego is taking the money, buying some planes, some nice houses, packing up a bunch of chicks and have some orgies and stuff.

“This is not who that is right now. That guy was just somebody that had to be. Eventually, he was a platform to become me.”

What Tyson cares about now, he said, are his family, his pigeons, his clothes and, yes, his joints. They must be easy to come by considering in 2017 the former heavyweight champion founded Tyson Ranch, a cannabis company.

He said he cares deeply about something else, too: charity. Although Tyson has offered few specifics, he said he’s focused on helping people less fortunate than himself.

“In a perfect world, I’m a missionary,” he said. “In a perfect world.”

In the real world, Tyson said he plans on boxing again, perhaps against Jones in a rematch. He also has expressed interest in fighting against top heavyweights like Tyson Fury, Anthony Joshua or Deontay Wilder.

But there are other options.

“Maybe we do something in the south of France,” he said. “Monaco. In Saint-Tropez. We do something out there, one of the European fighters out there or something. Anything is possible. Sky is the limit.”

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Roberto Leitao, former coach of Marco Ruas, Pedro Rizzo and ‘Babalu’ Sobral, dies of COVID-19 in Brazil


Roberto Leitao founded the first Brazilian wrestling federation in 1979 | Photo via Roberto Leitao’s Instagram

Roberto Leitao, a revered wrestling and grappling coach and a pioneer in the Brazil scene, died of COVID-19 Saturday morning in Rio de Janeiro, his family announced on social media.

Leitao, who trained the likes of Marco Ruas, Pedro Rizzo and Renato “Babalu” Sobral in the early vale tudo days in Brazil in the 1980’s and 1990’s, was admitted to a local hospital on Oct. 14, but lost his battle against the virus 45 days later.

“Master Leitao,” as he was known in Brazil, began coaching Ruas for his vale tudo bout with Fernando Pinduka in 1984. Rizzo, a protege under “The King of the Streets,” first trained with Leitao seven years later. Leitao cornered Ruas at UFC 7 in 1995, when the Brazilian won three fights on the same night in Buffalo.

“I’ll never forget when I first trained with Leitao at Budokan gym,” Rizzo said. “He loved training with someone young and strong. We rolled and he submitted me. … We became really close after that.”

“Yesterday was a very sad day for me,” said Ruas, who saw Leitao “as a father.” “I know him for 36 years, back when I did my first vale tudo fight, and he helped me a lot, helped my team. He was 47 when we trained for the first time and he was so smart, it was impressive. I’ll miss him a lot. It’s hard to express myself. We met every time I went to Brazil, and now there’s this void.”

Leitao founded the first wrestling federation 1979 in Brazil, and his son Roberto Leitao Filho, who competed at the 1988 and 1992 Olympics, is a member of the Brazilian wrestling confederation.

“Mr. Leitao was a very important person in my career,” said Babalu, a former Strikeforce light heavyweight champion and UFC title contender. “He was patient to teach me in the beginning when I didn’t know anything. He sat down and explained me everything, taught me everything. I’m so thankful.

“This man gives meaning to the word ‘master.’ The word ‘master’ is overused these days, people call their coaches ‘masters’ for affection, but, to me, Leitao is a master.”

“The Rock” Rizzo, who continued to train with Leitao and his son after Ruas moved to the United States in 1996 and scored MMA wins over the likes of Josh Barnett, Mark Coleman, Tank Abbott, Dan Severn, Andrei Arlovski, Ken Shamrock, Jeff Monson and Ricco Rodriguez throughout his career, says he “owes him” for most of his grappling knowledge.

“He always said people might like fighting, but no one loves it more than him. And that’s true,” Rizzo said. “He would always bring shorts with him everywhere he went. He was always ready in case he met someone and they were close to a gym. And if the other guy said he didn’t have shorts, he’d have a spare one so there would be no excuses. He loved training.”

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Anthony Smith Made Significant Statement to Himself With Win at UFC on ESPN 18

Anthony Smith needed to get his mind right heading into his UFC on ESPN 18 showdown with Devin Clark. View full post on Recent News on Sherdog.com

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