Dillashaw Releasing His Own Shoe

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Rachael Ostovich before UFC on ESPN+ 1: ‘I already feel like I won’ just by fighting

NEW YORK – The lead-up to Rachael Ostovich’s fight at UFC on ESPN+ 1 has been nothing short of tumultuous. She overcame a heavy amount of personal anguish but remains excited for the chance to compete Saturday night.

Less than two weeks after being booked to fight Paige VanZant at UFC on ESPN+ 1, Ostovich (4-4 MMA, 1-1 UFC) was hospitalized with a broken orbital bone after an alleged domestic violence incident with her MMA fighter husband, Arnold Berdon. She was briefly pulled from the fight, but then Ostovich wanted back in.

Ostovich said in the aftermath of the incident that she insisted on fighting because she wanted to be an inspirational figure to others who have experienced domestic violence. She could have easily shied away from her hardships but instead has used it as a platform.

“I had every reason to pull out or not be here today, but I felt it was important to me to fight because of that,” Ostovich told MMAjunkie on Wednesday. “I feel like it’s not only a challenge to myself – fighting in general is one of the most difficult sports not just physically, but mentally all around. Then I add all of this on me, this extra stuff, it’s really defining. I’m really figuring out and finding out who I am as a person. Hopefully through my life people can get motivated and inspired through it.”

UFC on ESPN+ 1 takes place at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The women’s flyweight bout between Ostovich and VanZant (7-4 MMA, 4-3 UFC) streams on the main card on ESPN+ following prelims on ESPN and ESPN+.

Ostovich said concerns over her physical state were warranted, but mentally she was never turned off from the idea of fighting. Although the UFC would have happily given her another fight during a different time frame, Ostovich made it clear it was important to fight at UFC on ESPN+ 1.

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“I actually did not have a moment (where I regretted staying in the fight),” Ostovich said. “I remember being on the hospital bed like still, ‘I need to fight. This is my fight.’ I knew it was something I needed to do. I was crushed when I was pulled out of it. Of course, my dad, my manager, they made a good decision that would be the right decision to make. It was all for my health, and I understand. I never thought that – it was never my choice to not fight. I knew I needed to fight.”

Ostovich admits her training camp was “not ideal,” but she said she “made it work” and is confident in her preparation, especially against VanZant.

“I know Paige is a veteran of the UFC,” Ostovich said. “She’s very well known. I understand this is a big fight. She’s a big name. I know she’s very spunky, she has lots of heart, good conditioning. I’ve got lots of heart, too, and I feel like this is going to be an exciting match, not only for me and Paige, but for the fans as well. I don’t think anybody is going to lose out on this one.”

After enduring so much, Ostovich already is anticipating an outpour of emotions once her bout with VanZant reaches a conclusion. Ostovich is readying herself for victory the same way any fighter should, but given what she’s been through, the Hawaiian believes simply stepping in the octagon on Saturday is an accomplishment worth being proud of.

“I want to get the win,” Ostovich said. “I need to get the win. I feel like it’s my only option at this point, and it’s the only thing I’ve been envisioning, and I want to manifest that. Honestly, I already feel like I won. Just being here I feel like I won. That joy, I take it with me in there. I’m just so excited.”

Watch the video above for our full exclusive interview with Ostovich.

For more on UFC on ESPN+ 1, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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With one fight left in contract, Cyborg says UFC ‘would be losing’ if they let her go

Cris Cyborg celebrates her UFC 198 win over Leslie Smith in Curitiba, Brazil.

Amanda Nunes put an end to Cris Cyborg’s 13-year undefeated run at UFC 232, and the future of the former featherweight queen is still up in the air.

Cyborg, who defeated five opponents in the Octagon before losing to Nunes in December, only has one bout left on her contract with the UFC. Speaking with Brazilian outlet PVT on Tuesday, Cyborg said her manager will sit down with the promotion “soon” to discuss her next steps, “if we will re-sign or not,” and negotiate a possible rematch with Nunes.

Asked if Megan Anderson could be next for her since Nunes has been teasing a return to bantamweight to defend her second UFC belt, Cyborg said that Anderson, who recently defeated Cat Zingano, “would be a good fight”, but she’s still unsure “if (the UFC) will invest in the (featherweight) division or not.”

”I don’t know what they will do moving forward,” Cyborg said. “I will keep fighting no matter where I am. My fans love watching my fights. If they decide to remove my division, and remove me from the UFC and let me go, I think the UFC would be losing with that, and the promotion that signs me would be winning. My fans follow me wherever I go. I’m very thankful because my fans are with me no matter if I win or lose.”

”I want to continue working,” she continued. “The UFC is a great platform to continue (building) my division. I think that even Amanda felt good at 145, other fighters have as well, because they don’t hurt (their bodies) that much, but that’s out of my control. My manager will meet them and see what’s the next step, but if they decide to remove the division, I will definitely continue shining somewhere else, like I’ve always done. Let’s see what happens.”

Cyborg has a rematch with Nunes as her No. 1 priority right now, and admits she did not follow the game plan at UFC 232, acting with emotion against the fellow Brazilian, and that upsets her more than the loss itself. Yet, Cyborg reveals that no longer being undefeated for 13 years took a weight off of her shoulders.

The UFC and Cyborg have yet to sit down and discuss the possibilities for the future. If they come to an agreement, and the Brazilian knockout artist continues on the promotion’s roster, Cyborg wants to be part of UFC 237. The pay-per-view card is scheduled for May 11 in Brazil, and includes Rose Namajunas vs. Jessica Andrade for the strawweight title.

The current plan is to host UFC 237 at a 45,000-seat soccer stadium in Curitiba, the same venue where Cyborg made her Octagon debut in 2016, at UFC 198. Nunes or not, Cyborg would love to return to her hometown for another UFC fight.

”It was special for me,” Cyborg said of her first fight at the Athletico Paranaense stadium in 2016, when she beat Leslie Smith in 81 seconds. “It was eight years after my last fight in Curitiba, it was my UFC debut, and everybody waited for that. It was really special. I’m open to fighting in May in Curitiba. It could be a rematch with Amanda, but she said she wants to wait two years, or it could be with another opponent they want. Curitiba is my home. They have many athletes to sell out (the stadium) and put on a great event in Curitiba.”

”I asked for the rematch, but if it doesn’t happen, my life will continue. I will continue training and wait for my next fight. I lost my first fight and asked for a rematch, 13 years have passed and I never had it, and that didn’t stop my legacy. I kept fighting.”

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Vanessa Porto, Pearl Gonzalez to Vie for Vacant Flyweight Crown at Invicta FC 34 on Feb. 15

Vanessa Porto will face Pearl Gonzalez for the vacant flyweight title in the Invicta FC 34 headliner on Feb. 15. View full post on Recent News on Sherdog.com

VanZant Is Back To Doing What She Loves

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UFC Padded Training MMA Boxing Gloves Grey/Red Size L/XL

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15 dream MMA matchups we wish happened

Bellator recently sent its bantamweight champion, Darrion Caldwell, over to Japan to fight Rizin FF star Kyoji Horiguchi in a cross-promotional showdown, which got us thinking about dream MMA fights.

Darrion Caldwell (left) and Kyoji Horiguchi at Rizin FF 14. (Rizin FF)

And so, here are 15 of them ranging from the entirely possible to not likely. But we can still dream, can’t we?

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UFC considered moving event from Fortaleza due to wave of violence

Raphael Assuncao and Marlon Moraes visited Fortaleza for a media day in December.

The UFC officially announced its return to Fortaleza back in November 2018, but had no idea that the state of Ceara, which Fortaleza is the capital of, would be facing a historic wave of violence in 2019.

It all started on Jan. 2, when governor Camilo Santana appointed Luis Mauro Albuquerque as the secretary of newly-founded penitentiary administration in Ceara. Albuquerque promised a harder stance on security, which prompted an immediate reaction from members of several crime gangs from inside prisons, ordering attacks to public buildings, police officers and anything else they could “burn down.”

Over the past 14 days, police registered more than 200 attacks in 46 of the 184 cities in the state of Ceara, including Fortaleza. More than half of those attacks (120) happened between January 3-5. Nearly 400 people have been arrested in two weeks.

According to Brazilian news outlet G1, criminals attacked — using bombs or guns — 138 vehicles, 51 public buildings, 13 bridges and energy towers, and 10 banks. Minister of Justice Sergio Moro sent hundreds of National Public Security Force officers to the region to help control the situation.

Facing the situation is the Ultimate Fighting Championship, scheduled to return to Fortaleza on Feb. 2 with a Fight Night card headlined by a rematch between Raphael Assuncao and Marlon Moraes and former featherweight champion Jose Aldo co-headlining the show opposite Renato Moicano.

After making tough decisions in December, cancelling UFC 233 and transferring UFC 232 from Las Vegas to California on days’ notice, the promotion discussed moving the event from Fortaleza, multiple sources told MMA Fighting. In the end, the promotion opted to go on as planned and will have the event take place in the capital of Ceara.

It remains to be seen if the wave of violence will be under control by then, but the Secretary of Sports and Youth of Ceara told MMA Fighting in a statement that the government will double the security around the Centro de Formação Olímpica (CFO) on fight night.

CFO, which also hosts the ceremonial weigh-ins on Feb. 1, is a 3,369,104 ft² complex built ahead of the 2016 Olympic Games. Hundreds of officers from the National Public Security Force that flew to Fortaleza are staying in one of the buildings, but the Secretary of Sports and Youth of Ceara told MMA Fighting that it will not affect the event, booked for the main arena.

The UFC did not respond a request for comment. It’s still unclear if the company will reinforce their security protocols for all fight week events, like the open workout session at a local mall on Wednesday, and around the host hotel during all fight week, but some fighters told MMA Fighting they have safety concerns.

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T.J. Dillashaw Believes He Will Outwrestle Henry Cejudo

Ultimate Fighting Championship bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw moves down a division to take on flyweight champion Henry Cejudo this Saturday in the first event on the UFC’s new broadcasting deal with ESPN. View full post on Recent News on Sherdog.com

Ostovich Entering Her Happy Place

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Luke Rockhold def. Costas Philippou at UFC Fight Night 35: Best photos

Check out these photos highlighting Luke Rockhold’s TKO win over Costas Philippou at UFC Fight Night 35 from The Arena at Gwinnett Center in Duluth, Ga. (Photos by Joshua S. Kelly, USA TODAY Sports)

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Kevin Holland wants to return to Philadelphia 10 years after Silva vs. Griffin

Aug. 8, 2009. Philadelphia. Hot on the heels of the landmark UFC 100 card one month prior, the company makes its debut in the City of Brotherly Love.

Somewhere in the sellout crowd of 17,411 at the then-Wachovia Center was a 16-year old from Texas named Kevin Holland who was watching the UFC live for the first time.

Holland was in town visiting his father’s side of the family for the first time. While he had started training in martial arts, he wasn’t a dyed-in-the-wool UFC fan. But like an untold amount of others, he had been drawn in by the spectacle of the Brock LesnarFrank Mir fight, which was one of the UFC’s first events which truly transcended into the mainstream, and he was curious to see the product live when he had the chance.

“I wasn’t this huge UFC fan, but I saw the whole thing the month before with Brock Lesnar, and when I got the chance to go, I was like, yeah, let me see what this was all about,” Holland told MMA Fighting. “But truth be told for much of the show I wasn’t all that into it, it was like whatever.”

Then came a moment which is regularly name-checked on the short list of magic moments in UFC history: Reigning middleweight champ Anderson Silva, going up in weight, finished former UFC light heavyweight champ Forrest Griffin with the MMA equivalent of Bruce Lee’s one-inch punch.

“I came into that fight rooting for Forrest!” Holland excitedly recalled. “And then Anderson started doing his Matrix thing, started slipping punches like I’ve never seen, and then he struck like a cobra coming out of a basket. I was mesmerized. That’s when I knew. I knew.”

A decade later, Holland has established himself in the UFC, and the UFC has announced a return date in Philadelphia, a March 2 date at the Wells Fargo Center which will be the company’s second card on linear ESPN cable.

And while Holland knows he’s not in a position to go making any demands at this stage of his career, he wants to make it abundantly clear that 10 years after he saw Silva do his thing, he wants to go back to the city which got him into MMA.

“I want this for all the right reasons,” Holland said. “It’s 10 years from when i was last there. My family is still there and I want to fight in front of them. And it’s on ESPN. I want to be active in 2019 and this is where I want to get started.”

Certainly, Holland has already proven himself a fighter worth watching. The former Contender Series winner earned far more praise than a losing fighter usually receives following his UFC 227 decision loss to Thiago Santos, largely because of the circumstances: Holland took the fight on short notice, and while Santos was the clear winner, he kept taking Holland to the mat rather than stand with him, which must say something considering Santos has been knocking out light heavyweights since.

Still, Holland didn’t let the praise, which included rave reviews by UFC president Dana White at the post-fight press conference, get to his head.

“At the end of the day, all they’re doing is blowing smoke,” Holland said. “Yeah it’s nice to say good things about you, but that praise doesn’t get my wallet fat so I can’t let my head get fat. I needed to get right back to work after that.”

That, he did. Holland took a fight on four weeks’ notice at UFC Beijing and got into the win column, getting a third-round submission of John Phillips for his 12th career finish among his 13 victories.

“That wasn’t ideal,” Holland said. “You go over there and everything is different, the time is off, the food is different. But you still gotta fight and I’m glad I got to show what I can do and get a finish in the UFC.”

In Holland’s mind, that sets him up for what he envisions as a big 2019. Holland wanted to fight five times this year. While that hasn’t worked out, he still sees himself on pace to compete four times, ideally beginning with his return to Philadelphia.

“Line ‘em up,” Holland said. “There are a lot of guys here in the middleweight division who are one step away from running off to Bellator or ONE or wherever. Let me beat them one by one and build my name, and my wallet, and get me in a title position, and I want it all to start in Philly, 10 years after I got it in my mind I wanted to fight.”

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Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos to Lock Horns with Curtis Millender at UFC Wichita on March 9

A welterweight showdown pitting Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos against Curtis Millender has been added to the UFC Fight Night 146 lineup. View full post on Recent News on Sherdog.com

UFC Brooklyn Fight by Fight Preview

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UFC lightweight standouts Edson Barboza, Justin Gaethje targeted for March fight

A lightweight matchup between devastating strikers Edson Barboza and Justin Gaethje is in the works for March.

MMAjunkie verified the pairing between Barboza (20-6 MMA, 14-6 UFC) and Gaethje (19-2 MMA, 2-2 UFC) with a person close to the situation following a tweet about the matchup from MMA reporter Farah Hannoun. The person requested anonymity because the negotiations aren’t public, and said contracts for the bout have not been signed.

Although a location of UFC on ESPN+ 6 on March 23 is in consideration, so too, the person told MMAjunkie, is the following week’s UFC on ESPN 2 show.

UFC on ESPN+ 6 takes place at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville. The card streams on ESPN+. UFC on ESPN 2 takes place at Wells Fargo Arena in Philadelphia with a main card on ESPN following prelims on ESPN+.

Barboza, No. 6 in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA lightweight rankings, is one month removed from a TKO drubbing of lightweight up-and-comer Dan Hooker at UFC on FOX 31. The win was shadowed by criticism that Hooker took too much damage over two rounds, but it was a much-needed turnaround for the Brazilian after back-to-back losses against current champ Khabib Nurmagomedov and onetime interim title challenger Kevin Lee.

No. 9-ranked Gaethje recently called for a fight with Al Iaquinta, who recently issued Lee a second defeat in a rematch at UFC on FOX 31. Iaquinta dismissed the callout on MMAjunkie Radio, seeking higher-ranked opposition.

Gaethje has been inactive since August, when he destroyed the surging James Vick inside 90 seconds at UFC Fight Night 135. The win put him back on the right track after two consecutive losses against Eddie Alvarez and Dustin Poirier, respectively, that marked his only professional defeats.

For more on UFC on ESPN+ 6, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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Elizeu Zaleski meets Curtis Millender at UFC Wichita

Elizeu Zaleski (pictured) won six in a row inside the Octagon since 2016.

The next step in Curtis Millender’s fast rise in the welterweight division is set, as he faces Brazilian striker Elizeu Zaleski at UFC Wichita on March 9, sources confirmed to MMA Fighting following a report by Combate.

Millender (17-3) won three in a row since joining the UFC less than a year ago, knocking out former title contender Thiago Alves before scoring decision victories over Max Griffin and Siyar Bahadurzada.

Zaleski (20-5), who also defeated Griffin via decision in the Octagon, is currently riding a six-fight winning streak in the UFC welterweight division, capped off by spectacular knockouts against Sean Strickland and Luigi Vendramini in 2018.

UFC Wichita takes place at the INTRUST Bank Arena and features Derrick Lewis vs. Junior dos Santos in a five-round main event. The Fight Night event airs live on ESPN+.

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Fedor Believes Bellator Grand Prix Compares Favorably with Pride, Strikeforce Tournaments

Tournaments have always been a part of Fedor Emelianenko’s storied mixed martial arts career. View full post on Recent News on Sherdog.com

Catching Up With Paige VanZant

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Holly Holm says Cris Cyborg deserves rematch, but would love Amanda Nunes after UFC 235

Holly Holm is firmly focused on her UFC 235 matchup with Aspen Ladd, but she does admit to holding interest in a fight with double-champ Amanda Nunes.

Holm (12-4 MMA, 5-4 UFC), the former UFC women’s bantamweight titleholder, meets Ladd (7-0 MMA, 2-0 UFC) in a key 135-pound matchup at UFC 235 in March. It marks her return to the weight class after a two-fight stint at featherweight, but the landscape of both divisions is now different with Nunes (17-4 MMA, 10-1 UFC) holding both titles.

If Holm has been consistent with one ideology throughout her fighting career, it’s that she can’t look past the fight in front of her. That hasn’t changed ahead of UFC 235, even with all that’s at stake.

“I’ve been focusing on this particular fight because I don’t want to overlook who I’m facing now and then run into a loss because I was looking too far into the future,” Holm told MMAjunkie. “I’m never promised another day and another fight, so I need to make the most of what’s in front of me. I’m going to have this fight with Aspen Ladd and we’ll see what happens going forward. There’s always short goals and long goals. Yes, I would love to be able to fight with Nunes. It’s one of the things that could happen. I’m just 100 percent into Aspen Ladd right now.”

UFC 235 takes place March 2 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The main card airs on pay-per-view following prelims on ESPN and UFC Fight Pass.

After Nunes knocked out Cris Cyborg (20-2 MMA, 5-1 UFC) in stunning fashion at UFC 232 in December to become a dual UFC champion, talk of two options for “The Lioness” begun to flourish. First was an immediately rematch with Cyborg, who had her 13-year unbeaten streak snapped with a 51-second defeat to drop the title. The other was a matchup with Holm.

During her dominant run in the octagon, Nunes has beaten every name to hold UFC gold at 145 and 135 pounds – not to mention two wins over 125-pound champ Valentina Shevchenko – except for Holm. “The Preacher’s Daughter” said she’s aware of that fact, and she’s like to test her skills against the Brazilian.

Holm, 37, does recognize Cyborg plays a big role in her getting that potential fight, though, and won’t deny her right to a rematch.

“She deserves a rematch for being somebody in a dominant position like that for so long getting knocked out? Yes, they absolutely deserves a rematch,” Holm said. “That’s the way it goes. I believe she deserve the chance to go fight again. I don’t think she needs people to talk her into it. Rematches after getting knocked out, it needs to come from the fighter themselves. If Cyborg comes forward saying, ‘I want the rematch I can absolutely do.’ Yes, I think Amanda should honor that.”

Holm won’t be in the running to fight against Nunes in the near future unless the result at UFC 235 goes her way. The former boxing and UFC champ has an unbeaten opponent who is 13 years her junior in Ladd, and Holm knows it’s a dangerous fight.

“She is young and she is undefeated and there’s a reason why she is undefeated and it’s because she’s tough, and she believes in herself,” Holm said. “She’s gone in, had some fights in the UFC as a young fighter and handled that pressure very well. She embraces it and it doesn’t break her. She’s up and coming. It’s not like Ladd has fought nobodies. But she still hasn’t fought me. It’s going to be a different fight than what she’s faced before, but I am very aware of her strengths and I am very aware that she’s a game opponent and I do not overlook her at all.”

For more on UFC 235, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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Jake Hager on comparisons to Brock Lesnar: ‘My hands are better’

Jake Hager isn’t trading in his wrestling trunks for a pair of mixed martial arts gloves.

In fact, the man known as Jack Swagger among professional wrestling fans, plans to balance life both inside the cage with life inside the square circle.

But for now, Hager is solely focused on his upcoming professional MMA debut at Bellator 214 later this month.

A collegiate wrestling standout out of the University of Oklahoma, Hager joins the likes of Brock Lesnar as former NCAAA Division I wrestling All-Americans turned WWE Superstars to make the jump into the world of MMA.

But, for Hager, that’s where the comparison ends.

“We both have big teeth and no necks,” joked Hager when asked about any similarities between himself and Lesnar during the Bellator 214 media call. “What Brock did was incredible. He raised the bar to new heights, to something a lot of people didn’t think would ever happen. To have entertainers cross over into this highly physical industry. It’s the toughest sport int he world, bar none. Before I started training for MMA, I was like ‘I’ve wrestled all of my life, I know how to train hard.’ No. MMA training is way hard than wrestling and it has proven that over the last year and a half.

“But if I could make some comparison to me and Brock, I’d say very similar wrestling, though he might have the edge on that, but I think my hands are better.”

Outside of Lesnar, Hager also joins Phil Brooks, also known as CM Punk, among his fellow WWE alum to don the four-ounce gloves.

Brooks (0-2) previously made waves in the fight world when he jumped ship from the WWE to the UFC in 2016. While he hasn’t had the same success as Lesnar, a former UFC champion, inside the Octagon, Brooks’s name has dominated the headlines during the leadup to both of his fights.

But according to Hager, his decision to pursue MMA was made long before Brooks’ foray into combat sports

“I first got the bug [to compete] about the same time [Bellator light heavyweight champion] Ryan [Bader] did,” said Hager. “We were both in college at the same time. So our junior and senior years, my teammates at Oklahoma started delving into it. Then, back in 2013, an ex-teammate of mine, Matt Grice, was fighting for the UFC in Tampa, where I live, and we went to the fight. From then on, I had the bug. So, it wasn’t a matter of if it was a matter of when I crossed into the MMA world.”

When Hager finally does make the walk to the cage, he will stand opposite J.W. Kiser (1-1). A fellow Bellator newcomer, Kiser is looking to pick up his second straight win after earning a first-round TKO over Michael Edwards in December.

For Hager, the opponent doesn’t matter. He not only plans on sticking around in Bellator but envisions himself competing among the elite of the heavyweight division while earning as much money as possible.

“I would love to be in the finals of a Heavyweight Grand Prix,” said Hager. “I left a giant company, making hundreds of thousands of dollars for a chance to cross over into another industry. So, it’s a big investment on myself and a huge risk as far as career goes. This is very serious for me. This is life. Nobody loves cash more than I do and I want more of it. I don’t need it all, I just need a lot.”

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