In late 2015, Maximum Fighting Championship veteran Kurt “The Hurt” Southern returned to fighting after more than a year off with a first-round submission of Daniel Swain at the inaugural Prestige FC event in Canada.
While the fight didn’t quite go as he envisioned it would, Southern was happy to get back on the winning track following two straight losses in his previous bouts.
“Daniel is a tough opponent,” Southern told MMAWeekly.com. “He had over 20 fights and was coming in on a winning streak. He was tough, but I performed well.
“He was actually able to take me down three times in the first round, and that doesn’t happen to me very often. I ended up catching with a guillotine midway through the first. It’s not how I planned it, but goes to show in this sport you really can’t plan anything because anything can happen.”
Changes made following Southern’s back-to-back losses to Tom Gallicchio in 2014 are what he credits for putting him back in the win column.
“After the losses to Tom, I decided to switch some things up, and moving down in weight class (to 145 pound) was one of those things,” said Southern. “I also hooked up with Duane Ludwig and started running the Bang Muay Thai system as well.
“I’ve done a lot differently to improve my game, and it felt good to get that win and get that weight off my shoulders (following the losses).”
Southern (14-6) makes his return to Prestige on Saturday in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada, to take on Nick Rhoads (8-3) for the promotion’s 145-pound title in the evening’s main event.
“Nick’s tough, he’s a gamer, and he’s going to come and put it on me,” said Southern. “He’s aggressive, he’s dangerous, and comes from a good background, but I think at the end of the day I’m going to be too experienced for him.
“He hasn’t fought anybody like me, I don’t think. I think I’ve fought a lot tougher opponents than him. I think my experience and skillset is just a little bit better than him.”
Having returned successfully after time off, Southern is more focused on enjoying the run he’s on now rather than putting his thoughts too far ahead of where he is.
“I don’t want to look too far into the future,” said Southern. “I want to take each fight as it comes and go from there.
“At times, I’ve looked past a fight thinking that if I won, I’d get picked up by the UFC or something like that, but it doesn’t really go that way. You never know what’s going to happen. Right now, I’m taking it fight by fight and enjoying the moment.”
Initially signed during a transition period for Invicta, Brown had to be patient before making her debut in late 2014.
“It was tough getting into the groove and having consistent fights because they were making changes with the matchmaker and getting the deal with UFC Fight Pass, so I had to wait a while before I could fight,” Brown told MMAWeekly.com. “Since then I’ve been fighting more consistent and it’s great to see my hard work pay off.”
While Brown was able to maintain patience before finally stepping into the cage for Invicta, that didn’t mean the time was easy.
“I knew that if I kept working at it that it would come around eventually,” said Brown. “It’s a little un-motivating at times, so I’m lucky to have people around me at all times that keep me going. I knew eventually it would come. So I spent that time just staying ready until they gave me that call.”
Since her debut, Brown has excelled, winning three straight bouts for the company in increasingly quicker fashion, including her victory over Shino VanHoose in January.
“I was originally supposed to face Lisa Ellis, but she got sick, so I got a late replacement in Shino VanHoose, and I didn’t know much about her or how she would come out, so I was more focused on what I was going to do,” said Brown.
“I had already closed out my training camp, so I was mainly focused on myself and what I was going to do in there, so it didn’t matter who they put in front of me. I feel like I did well and submitted her in two-and-a-half minutes, so it worked out.”
While Brown (6-1) would like to win her upcoming 105-pound title challenge against Ayaka Hamasaki (12-1) on Friday in Las Vegas in similarly quick fashion, she feels it will be a much tougher haul to claim the belt.
“I don’t think it will go that quick,” said Brown. “Ayaka is tough. She’s been fighting a long time. It’d be awesome if it ended that fast, but I’m ready to go a full five rounds if need be.
“My coaches are really smart and they’ve watched a lot (of Ayaka’s footage) and they see all the holes, and we’ve been working on everything. I’ll capitalize on everything she gives me. I have much respect for her, but I know I can beat this girl.”
While capturing the Invicta title is the ultimate goal for Brown, she’s not going to let the pressure of the situation get to her, but instead focus on the fight itself this Friday night.
“The belt is much more motivating, and it’s good to see my hard work pay off and get that title shot, but then again, it is like any other fight,” said Brown. “I like to think of every fight I go into as the fight of my life. I train hard for everyone. There’s no pressure. I’m just excited to go out there and fight.”
After starting off 2015 strong with a 32-second knockout of Vince Eazelle at Titan FC 34 in July, former promotional featherweight champion Des “Predator” Green hit a snag in his next fight, losing a unanimous decision to current titlist Andre Harrison two months later.
Looking back on the fight with Harrison, Green can point out what he feels he did wrong in preparation for the fight, which ultimately cost him.
“The major issue for me in 2015 was my weight management,” Green told MMAWeekly.com. “I just can’t get to 145 pounds and it started to show in my performance.
“Taking that Harrison fight with a hip fracture wasn’t the smartest thing either. I’ve just got to be a bit more mature and smarter with where I fight and how I fight.”
In the nearly half a year since the loss to Harrison, Green has managed to stay healthy and up his training level.
“A month after the fight, I was about over the hip fracture and I haven’t had any injuries so far,” said Green. “I’ve been training pretty much since November down in Florida with the Blackzilians, so things are on the up and up right now.”
Following a split from Titan, Green now heads to Russia to compete in the 2016 lightweight edition of the Akhmat Grand Prix. On March 12, Green (15-5) faces Peruvian fighter David Cubas (17-3-2) in the first round of the tournament.
“It’s pretty much the same game plan,” Green said of facing Cubas. “It’s a little sharper, a little smarter, this time around.
“I’ve been working a lot on my kickboxing at Blackzilians, so expect to see more striking. I’m already an elusive fighter, but me moving up to 155 pounds, I feel I’ll be a lot bigger, stronger, and a more explosive fighter. You’ll see a more improved Desi Green.”
Green feels that if he wins the Akhmat Grand Prix, it will be just the thing he needs to take his career to the next step in 2016.
During the UFC “Unstoppable” press conference in Las Vegas on Friday, former light heavyweight champion Jon Jones admitted that he hasn’t been sober in years, but is now and feels amazing.
Jones was stripped of his 205-pound championship after his involvement in a hit-and-run incident in Albuquerque in April 2015. He had been scheduled to defend his belt for a record ninth time four weeks later at UFC 187. He returns at UFC 197 on April 23 to win back the title he never lost against a man that he’s already beaten, current champion Daniel Cormier.
Throughout his lengthy career, Gegard Mousasi has been one of the more mild mannered fighters in mixed martial arts.
He’s not one to trash talk, call names, or snag belts from other fighters, but as the focus on getting fights in the Octagon seems to transition more and more to the public splash that a fighter can make in riling up his foes, Mousasi is doing his best to accommodate.
Still, he’s not one to get disrespectful or call for ridiculous match-ups that are unwarranted, which is witnessed by his recent plea to the UFC: a fight with either Anderson Silva or Michael Bisping.
Mousasi posted a public call to action on Tuesday via his Facebook page:
“I respect both Anderson Silva and Michael Bisping a lot as sportsmen, fighters, and people. I enjoy their fights and the times we interacted. But I expect to face one of them for my next fight. It makes sense considering where the MW division is at, the fact we all last fought on the same show, and stylistically any of those match-ups will be beyond exciting.
“We are going to do this for the fans. I was a company man and stayed on board when I lost the Bisping fight the 1st time. Now it is time to make the fights that make sense. All the other relevant MW are booked or not available. Bisping, Anderson, and I are all free as we fought on the same night…and we are all ranked similarly. Now is the time!
“Dana and Lorenzo, lets make it happen for the fans!!”
Whether it is enough bluster to get the UFC’s attention remains to be seen, but it appears to be working for everyone else, so why not? Considering the champion Luke Rockhold is already paired up with Chris Weidman, and the fact that Silva and Bisping just fought, with Bisping surviving to a narrow victory, either pairing is a bout that makes sense.
While Anderson Silva is seeking a fight on the UFC 198 card in Curitiba, Brazil, it appears that Gegard Mousasi won’t be one of his options for the May 14 event.
UFC officials announced on Wednesday that Shogun had to withdraw from the fight due to an undisclosed injury, but Teixeira had already agreed to take his place in the UFC on FOX 19 co-main event.
This marks the second time that the UFC has made this fight. Teixeira and Evans were originally slated to fight each other in early 2015, but the bout was cancelled when Teixeira had to withdraw due to a slow-to-heal knee injury. Teixeira (24-4) returned later in the year to submit Ovince Saint Preux and TKO Patrick Cummins.
Evans (19-4-1), also a former UFC light heavyweight champion, spent all of 2014 on the sidelines struggling with a knee injury of his own after coming off of back-to-back wins over Dan Henderson and Chael Sonnen. Although it was Teixeira that initially pulled out of their planned match-up in 2015, Evans ended up undergoing another knee surgery and sat out the better portion of the year before returning in a losing effort against Ryan Bader in October.
Tune in Wednesday, March 9, at 6 p.m. EST, for Knockout Radio LIVE! Randy Harris and the crew break down UFC 196, talk about what’s next for Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz, weigh in on Rashad Evans’ new opponent, and hit on the week’s other top MMA news!
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Holm has competed at the highest levels in boxing and in mixed martial arts. She was a multi-time world champion in the squared circle, and is the only woman to defeat Ronda Rousey in the Octagon, of course she wants a shot at getting the belt back.
Despite UFC president Dana White indicating that a third fight between Tate and Rousey could be what’s next for the newly minted champ, Holm has since doubled down on her call for an immediate rematch, posting on Instagram that she’d like to fight Tate again as soon as UFC 200 in July. Thus far, all indications are that Rousey won’t be ready to fight again until Fall.
This is how Saturday night ended but it’s not the end for me. I am going to train hard and show that I am better than this. I am down but not out. Thank you @mieshatate for the opportunity last weekend. Well done. What do you say? ….Let’s do this again. UFC 200 is just around the corner. @ufc @jacksonwink_mma #ufc #ufc196 #downbutnotout @danawhiteufc #ufc200
A photo posted by Holly Holm (@hollyholm) on Mar 7, 2016 at 3:20pm PST
Holm’s manager, Lenny Fresquez, told ESPN that he thinks his client will be facing either Tate or Rousey next.
“I think she’ll fight Miesha or Ronda next. That’s my personal feeling, but who knows what the UFC has cooking?” said Fresquez. “Holly was dominant in that fight against Miesha except for the second and fifth round. She paid for it. Hat’s off to Miesha for capitalizing.
“What happens next is the UFC’s decision. All I can speak to are Holly’s wishes. Holly wants to fight Miesha right away. She wants to fight Ronda Rousey.”
The UFC has yet to announce any bouts for UFC 200, which it has long targeted as its blockbuster event for 2016. Although White is angling for Tate vs. Rousey 3 next, if Rousey is intent on waiting until later in the year to return, it wouldn’t be out of the question to make a rematch between Tate and Holm at UFC 200.
Stay tuned to MMAWeekly.com, as we’ll have more on how this situation as it happens.
Holly Holm on Her Loss to Miesha Tate:
Leading up to the bout Bennett’s training camp went as well as it ever had, her weight cut went perfectly, and yet it all counted for nothing just a minute and a half into the bout thanks to a Souza liver kick.
“In that fight camp, everything went perfectly, and so for that to happen, it just kills me,” Bennett told MMAWeekly.com. “I felt great to begin with and felt I that I was winning most of the exchanges, and then that kick hit me in the liver and I fell to the ground.
“I was telling myself to get up, but my body was locked down. Just as I was getting up, the ref called it. What are you going to do, honestly?”
Having been undefeated in her first eight bouts, Bennett admittedly took the loss hard, but realized that the outcome was a singular moment and came as no fault of hers.
“I took a while thinking about it, but stuff like that happens,” said Bennett. “It’s not like I went out there and did something wrong and got caught by something. It just happened to be a perfectly placed kick.
“You just kind of have to take it for what it is and go out there and be smart for the next fight and not let (the loss) affect me mentally.”
Bennett (8-1) will look to rebound when she returns to Invicta on Friday night in Las Vegas to face women’s MMA pioneer Roxanne Modafferi (18-12) in a main card 125-pound bout.
“She’s had 30 fights, and that’s crazy to think of, having that many fights and being around so long,” said Bennett of Modafferi. “She had a rough patch, but has been doing well in Invicta.
“When you have that many fights, your fight IQ is very high. She’s seen a lot of different situations and has been able to navigate and deal with that. Seeing how much she’s improved and how well-rounded she is, you have to be prepared for anything.”
For Bennett, Friday night is an opportunity not so much to prove naysayers wrong, but to regain confidence and set herself back on the path towards an Invicta championship in 2016.
“I feel like this is an opportunity for me to go back out there and put on a good show and to get my hand raised again,” said Bennett. “I want to go out there and prove to myself that I’m a fighter and I know what I’m doing out there.
“My goals haven’t changed. I had a little hiccup with my plans with the loss, but it’s the same goal with a new direction. I definitely want to work my way back up to title contention.”
— Ruslan Magomedov (@MagomedovUFC) March 9, 2016
Magomedov is on a nine-fight winning streak. He last competed in October, defeating Shawn Jordan by unanimous decision at UFC 192. Currently ranked 14 in the heavyweight division, Magomedov expects to be back in action ‘soon.’ UFC is seeking a replacement.
— Ruslan Magomedov (@MagomedovUFC) March 9, 2016
Mauricio Rua has withdrawn from his UFC on Fox 19 clash against Rashad Evans due to injury. As a result, Glover Teixeira will replace “Shogun” on the April 16 card in Tampa, Fla.
ONE: Global Rivals is set for the Mall of Asia Arena in Manila on April 15 with the full fight card announced on Wednesday. A number of the fights could be potential title eliminators, including the co-main event, which pits Gianni Subba against Geje Eustaquio.
Eustaquio (7-4) has already challenged for the flyweight title once and will be looking for a second straight win after knocking out Saiful Merican in the first round in his most recent ONE Championship outing.
Subba (7-1) has spent his entire professional career competing for ONE and has more wins for the organization than any other fighter in the division. An eighth victory would leave him on the cusp of a shot at reigning flyweight king Kairat Akhmetov.
Coincidentally, Subba is coming off a debatable split-decision win over Anatpong Bunrad in a fight where a point deduction for the Thai proved decisive. By contrast, Eustaquio was on the wrong end of a similar outcome when he faced the same opponent last year, proving just how thin the margins between success and failure in MMA can be.
Two of the top lightweights on the roster will go head to head when Lowen Tynanes takes on former title challenger Koji Ando. The Hawaiian is undefeated and will feel that a win over the Japanese veteran is all that stands between him and a 2016 title shot.
Ando (12-4-2) is a former Legend FC champion who has never been stopped. Since signing for ONE, he’s beaten Rafael Nunes, Zorobabel Moreira, and Roger Huerta, and also holds a 2013 win over the organization’s former featherweight champion Narantungalag Jadambaa.
Tynanes (8-0) burst onto the scene by beating Eduard Folayang on a local show in the Philippines. That win brought him to the attention of ONE Championship and he has won four fights out of four for Asia’s biggest MMA promotion, beating Rasul Yakhyaev, Kuat Khamitov, Felipe Enomoto, and Vuyisile Colossa.
Two featherweights will be looking to work their way back into title contention after disappointing defeats. Eric Kelly (12-2) has been in some of ONE Championship’s most memorable fights, while Timofey Nastyukhin (9-2) scored one of the best knockouts in the organization’s history at the expense of Eduard Folayang.
The first man to ever beat Kelly was former featherweight champion Honorio Banario (8-6). He will be hoping to snap a five-fight winning streak when he takes on fellow Filipino Vaughn Donayre (8-4), who is winless in two previous ONE Championship outings.
As previously announced, the main event pits welterweight champion Ben Askren (14-0-0-1) against Russian challenger Nikolay Aleksakhin (17-3). The undefeated American’s last fight was the no contest with Luis Santos in the same venue and he will be hoping for a more satisfactory ending this time around.
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The MMA portion of Bellator 152 card has been finalized, with Patricky "Pitbull" Freire taking on fellow lightweight Derek Campos in the main event.
AXS TV FIGHTS on Wednesday announced renowned combat sports personality and broadcaster Mauro Ranallo will be the new host of INSIDE MMA, the longest running and only independent MMA news series on television, beginning Friday, March 25.
A veteran broadcaster with over 30 years’ experience, Ranallo will bring his energetic broadcasting style and opinionated views on the world of combat sports to INSIDE MMA alongside UFC Hall of Famer Bas Rutten and correspondent Ron Kruck Friday nights at 9:30 p.m. PT/12:30 a.m. ET following AXS TV FIGHTS’ weekly live MMA and Muay Thai broadcasts.
Ranallo is best known for his play-by-play commentary for prestigious organizations such as Pride Fighting Championships, which he called alongside his new co-host Rutten for several years; Showtime Boxing, where he recently called the international feed of the historic Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao fight; and Strikeforce, which was home to MMA superstars like Ronda Rousey, Daniel Cormier and Luke Rockhold. In 2015, Ranallo helped AXS TV launch its hit pro wrestling series NEW JAPAN PRO WRESTLING calling matches alongside former UFC Heavyweight Champion Josh Barnett, before signing with WWE as the new voice of Smackdown.
“Mauro Ranallo’s contributions to the success of New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS TV were undeniable and we are confident he will take INSIDE MMA to new heights,” said AXS TV FIGHTS CEO Andrew Simon. “The opportunity to pair the ‘dream team’ together of Mauro and Bas Rutten is exciting and I can’t wait to see what happens when these two super-charged personalities are reunited on March 25.”
“AXS TV would like to thank longtime host Kenny Rice for his dedication to growing INSIDE MMA since our launch in 2007,” Simon continued, “and we plan to continue a relationship with him as a special correspondent.”
Said Ranallo, “In a year in which I landed a dream job with WWE, my dream to once again cover MMA and work with my broadcasting brother Bas Rutten has also come true. Filling the shoes of consummate pro Kenny Rice won’t be easy but I can’t wait to return to AXS TV for some strong style MMA coverage!”
“I am super stoked to work with Mauro again,” said Rutten. “We had such a great time in Japan for Pride Fighting Championships, so get ready for the craziness! Kenny Rice and I have become great friends over the years, so I am happy that, despite his busy schedule, he will still be involved with INSIDE MMA.”
Said Rice, “I am excited to step into the new role as a special correspondent, continuing to bring the exclusive access to our viewers that has been synonymous with Inside MMA over the past ten seasons. It’s a true team at Inside MMA and I welcome longtime friend Mauro Ranallo to it.”
Ruslan Magomedov has suffered a knee injury and has been forced to withdraw from a scheduled heavyweight clash against Gabriel Gonzaga at UFC Fight Night in Zagreb on April 10.
Tate was interviewed by TMZ and fired shots at Rousey by saying, “Her motivation to stick around was to have Travis Browne’s babies.”
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World Series of Fighting has added another familiar face to its roster: John “Doomsday” Howard.
As the fifth round approached in the women’s bantamweight title clash between Holly Holm and Miesha Tate at UFC 196, the challenger’s corner didn’t bother sugarcoating the situation.