At this stage, any fighter going up against Ben Askren knows he is going to be an underdog. The odds are against Nikolay Aleksakhin ahead of ONE: Global Rivals, but the Russian believes he can register a win that would probably go down as the greatest upset in the history of Asian MMA.
Aleksakhin has had plenty of time to prepare for Friday night’s title fight in Manila and he says he has spotted some holes in his opponent’s game.
“His weakness is his striking, he doesn’t use his legs or his hands. I know he’s an Olympic level wrestler with great technique, but I think I will win this fight.”
The show at the Mall of Asia Arena is being billed as Global Rivals because it pits the U.S. against Russia. Askren’s had a few choice words for the challenger and Aleksakhin is looking forwards to ramming them back down his throat.
“I think trash talking is very popular in the USA (but) in Russia if you say something you must do it. On fight night I will give him an answer for his words.”
To prepare for this fight he’s been training with the best pound-for-pound fighter Russia has ever produced. Aleksakhin is a student of Fedor Emelianenko and credits the former Pride heavyweight champion for transforming him into a title contender.
“When I was a child, I saw Fedor fight and I wanted to be like Fedor. My life changed when I was in Fedor Emelienaneko’s team and I saw how he trained. I started to see it as a professional sport.”
Just like his hero and mentor, Aleksakhin trains in Combat Sambo and he believes that it is the perfect base for MMA.
“Combat Sambo is very close to MMA. They share a lot of the same techniques. On fight night, I think Combat Sambo uses more techniques than wrestling. It is better than wrestling.”
As a child, Aleksakhin was a keen swimmer as well as training in Combat Sambo, but he didn’t take up MMA until the age of 20. He credits the sport with helping him to keep him on the straight and narrow, despite growing up in a rough area in Russia.
“When I was growing up, my hometown was very bad. I grew up fighting on the streets. When I started training in sports that became my whole life.”
Aleksakhin is still fiercely proud of his Russian roots and admits that patriotic pride will be on the line when he takes on the former U.S. Olympian.
“It’s important to fight for my country and my motherland. It’s important to raise the Russian flag.”
ONE Championship already has two Russian champions with Vitaly Bigdash holding the middleweight strap and Marat Gafurov the current featherweight title holder. If Aleksakhin can upset the odds by beating Askren to take his title, he promises not to let the achievement go to his head.
“If I win against a guy who talks more trash, it is good, but not the most important thing. Most important thing for me is just to win. Fedor did not lose in 10 years and he stayed a humble guy. He didn’t become a become a big superstar; he stayed humble the whole time.”
Fedor experienced defeat relatively early in his career, but bounced back to go an entire decade undefeated and establish himself as the greatest fighter on the planet. Aleksakhin will be hoping to enjoy a similarly steep trajectory and knows a win over the seemingly unbeatable Askren would be a huge step in the right direction.
“I want to finish him, but I understand this fight could be five rounds. All my life it’s been my goal to be a champion. It’s the most important thing for me.”
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Jessica Andrade will make her 115-pound debut against Jessica Penne at UFC 199 on June 4.
Since taking over as Bellator’s president in 2014, Strikeforce founder Scott Coker has pushed to expand the company by adding kickboxing to the sports they promote, as well as expanding the promotion’s reach internationally.
On Saturday, Bellator will hold its first event in Torino, Italy, headlined by the company’s new kickboxing venture, which will feature multi-sport fighter Melvin Manhoef in the evening’s main event.
For Manhoef, returning to kickboxing after spending recent times focusing on MMA, came as an opportunity to help his promotion as much as his own career.
“I told people I wanted to focus on MMA, but this is a moment, this is something big and I want to be part of it,” Manhoef told MMAWeekly.com. “It’s nice that Bellator people are bringing people out to showcase the skills they have. As huge as Bellator is, it’s a bright future for kickboxing in America I think.
“It is good for me because I focused just on my kickboxing (again) and my stand-up is getting (better). We’re putting the dots on the ‘i’. For my next (MMA) fight I’ll be sharper with my stand-up again.”
When asked if he feels pressure being the main event for Bellator’s first kickboxing and international show, Manhoef said, “I don’t know if I’m the headliner. I just think it is a fight. I don’t think about the things around it.
“I have to do my thing and what I’m best at doing. That’s what I’m going to do. I have no pressure. I want to help Bellator have a great show on this first event and that’s what I have to do; it’s my job.”
In Torino, Manhoef will face Alexandru Negrea in a bout he feels could produce some fireworks and end with a bang.
“He likes to come forward. He comes to bang and I think it’s going to be a good match-up for me. Those fighters are much better for me than fighters who are moving around and everything.”
While he feels the fight has a good chance to not go the distance, Manhoef isn’t going to force things, but rather wait for an opening to present itself.
“Yeah, because we are both going for it, it’s a good chance for a knockout,” said Manhoef. “I’m not going to look for my knockouts, because I have to prepare for all three rounds, and let the knockout come (when it comes).”
Following his return to kickboxing, Manhoef once again will set his sights on MMA and winning a championship there.
“First I’m going to do this fight, after this fight I’m going to fight for the title,” said Manhoef. “This is my goal for 2016. I want to fight for the title and keep the title.”
Even before the ink could dry after Governor Andrew Cuomo signed mixed martial arts sanctioning into law in New York on Thursday, the UFC issued an announcement of its first event in the state since UFC 7: The Brawl in Buffalo took place in 1995. UFC 7 featured Ken Shamrock vs. Oleg Taktarov in a superfight, and Marco Ruas won a one-night, eight-man, no-weight-class tournament.
The UFC will host “a major Pay-Per-View” event at Madison Square Garden on Saturday, Nov. 12. Unlike at UFC 7, weight classes and a full set of rules and regulations will be in play.
Additionally, UFC will be adding another live event in Upstate New York before the end of the year. The organization has pledged four events per year for the first three years after passage of the bill. The events will be held in Upstate cities such as Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Utica, and Albany, in addition to Madison Square Garden and the Barclays Center in New York City.
Gov. Cuomo signing the bill on mixed martial arts sanctioning was the final hurdle to clear the way for New Yorkers such as Jon Jones, Chris Weidman, and Rashad Evans to finally fight on their home turf, and the UFC wasted no time in making its first event under the new sanctioning a reality.
“I want to thank Governor Andrew Cuomo, Assembly Majority Leader Joseph Morelle, Senator Joe Griffo and the many other leaders in the state of New York for legalizing and regulating the sport of mixed martial arts,” said UFC Chairman and CEO Lorenzo Fertitta. “Our commitment to bringing incredible live events to New York starts immediately, as we’ve planned a major Pay-Per-View event at Madison Square Garden on November 12. It’s going to be a historic, monumental moment for this sport and our passionate fans when the Octagon finally arrives in New York.”
“Today marks a great day for both MMA fans and New York,” said Joel Fisher, executive vice president, Marquee Events and Operations, The Madison Square Garden Company. “We think it’s only fitting that the first UFC event is taking place at The World’s Most Famous Arena and look forward to these world-class athletes becoming part of The Garden’s storied history.”
Further information about the upcoming live event at Madison Square Garden will be announced in the weeks to come.
Governor Andrew Cuomo signed mixed martial arts sanctioning into law in New York on Thursday. The UFC immediately followed with an announcement of its first event in the state since UFC 7: The Brawl in Buffalo took place in 1995. UFC 205 will take place on Saturday, Nov. 12, at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
With it being such a monumental day in mixed martial arts – New York was the final state in the U.S. to sanction MMA – the UFC was in attendance, with Chris Weidman and Ronda Rousey taking the stage with Gov. Cuomo, as he signed the legislation.
(Video courtesy of Governor Cuomo)
— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) April 14, 2016
— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) April 14, 2016
(Photo courtesy of Governor Cuomo)
In 2015, bantamweight prospect Matthew Lopez had his most productive year to date.
In three fights last year, Lopez picked up three finishes, putting him among the top 135-pound fighters in the RFA promotion.
“I’m progressing my way up, and I want to keep that momentum going and keep building on that in 2016,” Lopez told MMAWeekly.com.
“I think I did pretty well in (my fights), but the last one in Vegas against Justin Linn I was surprised by his speed. I didn’t think he’d be as fast as he was, so I ended up grappling with him – which worked in my favor – but I hoped to showcase more of my stand-up game in that one.”
Since turning pro three years ago, Lopez believes he’s made good progress in his development. He especially feels that 2016 has been particularly beneficial.
“I am growing every single day, but I feel like there are pockets where I really grow, and I think this is one of them,” said Lopez. “The last 12 weeks have been probably the most growing I’ve done as a mixed martial artist. I’ve really stepped it up to the next level.”
On Friday in Sioux Falls, S.D., Lopez (7-0) will seek to remain undefeated when he takes on Eli Finn (5-1) in a main card bantamweight bout at RFA 37.
“This is my third opponent for this card, so I don’t know much about (Finn). So I’ve focused on myself and getting myself prepared for this fight in all aspects of MMA,” Lopez said.
“My goal is to be better than I was yesterday, and if I achieve that, when fight time comes, that will show. Whatever happens in a fight, I’ll have an answer for it, and he won’t have an answer for what I bring to the table.”
Having run into problems before preparing specifically for one technique or style, Lopez now focuses more on himself when he prepares for bouts.
“Now that I’ve grown and matured in this sport, watching video and all that is in the past, that’s what they looked like six months ago, so have to be prepared for the best that they have,” said Lopez. “I have to be prepared for all aspects, no matter what.”
Picking up his fifth win in the RFA could be the thing that helps propel Lopez to the next stage in his career, but until that move actually happens, he’s fixated on having the best fights he can.
“Obviously, the best case scenario would be that I perform really well and get signed to the UFC after this fight, but with the UFC being so densely populated, it may take two or three more fights,” Lopez said. “No matter what, I can’t have lackluster performances. I have to go out there every time and prove I belong.”
(Photo courtesy of RFA and EDH Photography)
Dan Henderson will get a new dance partner.
TUF Latin America 3 Finale
(The Ultimate Fighter Latin America 3 Finale)
Date: November 5, 2016
Venue: Arena Ciudad de México
Location: Mexico City, Mexico
TUF Latin America 3 Finale Fight Card
UFC 205: New York City Fight Card
UFC 205: New York City Start Times
Main Card on Pay-Per-View: ? p.m. ET / ? p.m. PT
UFC heavyweight Mark Hunt has signed a multi-fight contract to remain with the Las Vegas-based promotion until the end of his mixed martial arts career.
The Ultimate Fighting Championship’s renewed relationship with the Big Apple now has a date.
Kevin Ross has been a staple of the muay Thai and kickboxing world a long time and has beaten some of the elite of his weight class. He’s not a household name by any stretch of the imagination, but those who follow the often overlooked sport know that “The Soul Assassin” is the real deal.
Welterweight titleholder Ben Askren will defend his belt against Russia’s Nikolay Aleksakhin in the One Championship 40 “Global Rivals” main event on Friday at the Mall of Asia Arena in Manila, Philippines.
UFC lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos was slated to face featherweight titleholder Conor McGregor at UFC 196 in a champion vs. champion superfight. In the eleventh hour, the fight dematerialized when dos Anjos suffered a foot injury, while sparring ten days before the scheduled event.
A number of fighters offered to fill-in for the injured lightweight champion. Others turned down the fight. Fifth-ranked lightweight Nate Diaz accepted the short-notice bout that was agreed to take place at the 170-pound limit.
Diaz handed “The Notorious” his first UFC loss, and the two are scheduled to rematch in the UFC 200 main event in July. The fight will again be a welterweight match-up.
In the UFC 200 co-main event, former featherweight champion Jose Aldo will take on former lightweight titleholder Frankie Edgar for the interim 145-pound title. Dos Anjos thinks that the featherweight champion fighting outside of his weight class for the second time, while two contenders compete for an interim title in his division, on the same fight card, doesn’t make any sense.
“I think on the same card, an interim belt between Aldo and Edgar doesn’t make any sense, not only for me, but for nobody,” dos Anjos told Inside MMA.
Dos Anjos doesn’t think the Irishman will ever defend his 145-pound belt. McGregor is fighting 25 pounds above the weight class he holds the title in. The Brazilian also insinuated that McGregor will retire soon.
“The champion, it’s not an injury. The champ is fighting two weight classes above on the same day. In my opinion, he’ll never fight for his 145 title again. He wants to retire as a champion.”
A few short hours after it became public that he admitted to using a banned substance in a routine out-of-competition drug test, Lyoto Machida took to his Facebook page to explain the situation, and to apologize.
“I’m here to tell you that I was caught by surprise by this news. It has been very dificult for me,” Machida wrote on Facebook. “I’ve trained a lot for this fight, I’ve dedicated a lot with all my team mates. I want to tell you that I really didn’t know about this substance, so I listed it on my declaration form amongst everything else I was taking, and this substance was recently banned in 2016, so I take the blame for not knowing that, and I’d like to say I’m really sorry and apologize to my fans, team mates, and my family… I always try to play by the book, but unfortunately this happened.
“The supplement used by Lyoto was 7-Keto, that contains the substance DHEA, found in products sold at every supplement store and it’s very popular.”
Due to the violation, Machida’s UFC on FOX 19 bout with Dan Henderson, slated for Saturday’s event in Tampa, Fla., was cancelled. UFC officials intend to put Henderson on a future fight card with a new opponent.
After another successful year in which he won both of his fights and raised his undefeated streak to eight, Tynanes is eager to kick off 2016 and see where it takes him.
“Last year was fun but looking forward to see what this year has in store for me,” he told MMAWeekly.com.
Since turning pro in 2011, Tynanes has also maintained a desire to improve, no matter how successful he’s been.
“I have the same mind set, just smarter, faster, stronger, more experienced now. I’m just trying to get better every way I can.”
On Friday in Manila, Tynanes (8-0) seeks to remain undefeated when he faces veteran Koji Ando (12-4-2) in a main card 155-pound bout at ONE: Global Rivals.
“Ando is a tough guy, should be a good fight,” said Tynanes.
Having picked up wins in his previous four ONE bouts, Tynanes feels a victory over Ando could be just the thing he needs to get a shot at the lightweight belt.
“Most definitely,” said Tynanes. “A win could get me a title shot.”
A featherweight clash pitting Clay Guida against Brian Ortega has been added to the UFC 199 lineup.
UFC middleweight Lyoto Machida on Wednesday revealed that the the supplement 7-Keto, which contains the substance DHEA, was the cause of his potential anti-doping violation.
While UFC president Dana White on Tuesday confirmed that UFC Hall of Fame fighter and two-division former champion BJ Penn (16-10-2) would officially end his retirement and return to the Octagon to fight Dennis Siver (22-11, 1 NC) at UFC 199 on June 4, there were still questions swirling around recent allegations accusing Penn of sexual assault.
The UFC, which hired the Campbell & Williams law firm to investigate the matter, issued a statement on Wednesday re-confirming the fight and defending its decision to reinstate Penn.
“UFC announced today that former UFC champion BJ Penn will return to competition on June 4 at UFC 199 against Dennis Siver in a featherweight bout,” read the UFC’s statement.
“Following a review of the matter by Campbell & Williams, a Las Vegas-based law firm hired by UFC to evaluate the situation, UFC has been informed that no criminal or civil charges have been filed against Penn to date, nor has any action been taken by local law enforcement. It should be noted that UFC reserves the right to reevaluate the matter should new information be made available.”
Former light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida and two-division PRIDE titleholder Dan Henderson were supposed to rematch in the UFC on FOX 19 co-main event in Tampa, Fla. on Saturday, but the fight was canceled on Wednesday after Machida was flagged for an anti-doping violation by the U.S. Anti-Doping agency.RELATED: Anti-Doping Violation Forces Lyoto Machida Out of Dan Henderson Rematch
As a result of Machida being pulled from the fight card, Henderson was left without an opponent three days before the event. He’s expected to be rebooked against another opponent on an upcoming fight card, but Henderson was not happy that he’s losing an expected payday.
Henderson reacted to the news via Twitter, posting, “P.O.S. – No respect.”
P.O.S. -No respect https://t.co/03O5oM7sM9
— Dan Henderson (@danhendo) April 13, 2016@MMAHotSauce on Twitter and Facebook. Also follow MMAWeekly.com on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.