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Updated: 13 hours 32 min ago

UFC on Fox 20 Co-Main Event in Chicago Postponed to Later Date

Fri, 2016-06-24 16:42

The UFC on Fox 20 co-main event between light heavyweight contenders Anthony Johnson and Glover Teixeira set for July 23 in Chicago has been postponed, as Johnson was forced to withdraw to deal with a family matter.

UFC officials announced the fight postponement on Friday. The fight promotion is expected to rebook the bout in the near future.

RELATED > Dana White on Ronda Rousey’s UFC Return: ‘She’ll Be Back’

UFC on Fox 20 takes place at the United Center and is headlined by a women’s bantamweight match between former champion Holly Holm and seventh-ranked Valentina Shevchenko.

Moving into the co-main event slot will be a lightweight bout between Gilbert Melendez and Edson Barboza. Heavyweights Bojan Mihajlovic and Francis Ngannou, and a strawweight battle pitting Kailin Curran against Felice Herrig round out the rest of the event’s main card.

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Manny Vazquez Hopes to Defend Legacy Belt and Get a Shot at UFC Chicago

Fri, 2016-06-24 11:10

While he hadn’t intended to kick off 2016 the way he did, bantamweight prospect Manny Vazquez couldn’t have asked for a better start.

In February, Vazquez was asked to step in on short notice to face Ricardo Ramos for the vacant Legacy FC 135-pound championship. He scored a first-round submission win.

“The fight in February went according to plan perfectly,” Vazquez told MMAWeekly.com. “I got the fight on three weeks’ notice. I was a little nervous and didn’t know what to expect. It was a big opportunity and it all worked out.

HOT TOPIC > Will Dana White Speak for Donald Trump at the GOP Convention?

“I got a real quick submission. (Ramos) didn’t feel real strong in the clinch. His wrestling didn’t really seem there. I was able to capitalize on that; took him down and submit him quick.”

For his first Legacy FC bantamweight title defense, Vazquez (9-1) will face what appears to be his toughest task yet in Steven Peterson (13-4) in the main event of the promotion’s show on Friday in Dallas.

“Steven Peterson is a real tough, gritty, veteran,” said Vazquez. “He’s the kind of guy who doesn’t quit. You have to try to dominate him from the bell or put him to sleep because he’s not going to stop coming forward. He’s not going to stop fighting.

“From bell to bell, I’m ready to go five rounds and just out-work him the entire time. When he makes a mistake, I’ll capitalize (on it). Grab a choke, hit him with something solid and put him to sleep, whatever I’ve got to do.”

Having the opportunity now to headline a nationally televised show with a title defense, it could be a stressful situation for Vazquez. In truth he’s approaching it as he would any other fight.

“I try to relax, but I do put a lot of pressure on me every fight,” he said. “I expect a certain result out of myself. If I don’t live up to that, I’m very disappointed. Every fight there’s always pressure, but I wouldn’t say it’s necessarily more pressure than usual.”

Moving forward, Vazquez doesn’t want to take much time off, but instead he hopes to get an opportunity to fight again in front of his hometown crowd on MMA’s biggest stage.

“Ideally, I win this fight, and I’d love to turn around real quick and (fight again) in July,” said Vazquez. “(The UFC is) coming to Chicago. If I can get a fight in Chicago at the United Center, it would be crazy in there and a hell of an experience.

“I’d like to get in there quick, if not, whenever they call me, but I think the UFC should be next, granted everything turns out right this fight.”

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Knockout Radio Podcast: UFC Ottawa, UFC Sale Reports, and Talking to Alex Nicholson

Fri, 2016-06-24 10:26

Join Knockout Radio for the podcast of their June 22 broadcast as Randy Harris and the crew talk with UFC fighter Alex Nicholson, break down UFC Ottawa, talk about reports of a UFC sale, and discuss the week in MMA news!

HOT TOPICS:

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Categories: Latest News

Dana White on Ronda Rousey’s UFC Return: ‘She’ll Be Back’

Fri, 2016-06-24 09:09

As days pass since her last fight in November 2015, one can’t help but wonder if Ronda Rousey is ever coming back to the UFC.

With doubt filling MMA’s airspace of late, UFC President Dana White hopes to breathe confidence in those asking about the former UFC champ’s return.

According to White, you have nothing to worry about.

“I just saw her recently, talked to her recently and she’s back in training,” White said on the UFC Unfiltered podcast earlier this week. “This isn’t the first time Ronda’s ever lost. She’s been an athlete her whole life, you know… Obviously Ronda is a very unique individual and has her own way of dealing with things. Apparently, this is the way she wants to deal with it. She’ll be back, though. She’ll be back.”

ALSO READ > Joe Rogan weighs in on the fall of Ronda Rousey

UFC fans last saw Rousey in the Octagon suffering her first career loss. Holly Holm, at UFC 193, headkicked Rousey into unconsciousness and took the 135-pound title as a result.

The months that passed since then have been full of uncertainty about when Rousey would come back to fighting. Some assumed she would be back for the landmark UFC 200 event, but that was not the case. There was also an inclination she would compete on the UFC’s first card in New York, UFC 205. However, knee surgery has pushed her return back to as early as December or even next year.

Regardless of the amount of time Rousey takes off before her return, White said she deserves all the time that only she sees fit.

“As far as time off, nobody’s worked harder. This girl for the last three and a half years has busted her ass in this sport, doing her thing and for the UFC,” he said. “She can take as much time off as she needs.”

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Chael Sonnen Beyond the Fight: Brock Lesnar’s Return and USADA Drug Testing Rules

Fri, 2016-06-24 08:30

Chael Sonnen discusses former heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar‘s UFC 200 return and USAD drug testing rules during the latest edition of “Beyond the Fight.”

RELATED > Georges St-Pierre Ready for UFC Return After Test Training Camp

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Toughest Fight Yet Could Lead Ilima-Mei Macfarlane to Bellator Title Fight

Fri, 2016-06-24 03:32

For her first fight of 2016, flyweight prospect Ilima-Lei Macfarlane had the strongest performance of her career yet, when she submitted Amber Tackett in the first round at Bellator 148 in January.

And while Macfarlane is happy with the win, she does wish she could have gotten a bit more cage time in the fight for experience.

“That was pretty much the game plan,” Macfarlane told MMAWeekly.com. “(Tackett) was a southpaw, and I’d never faced a southpaw opponent before, so we kind of wanted to take her down. As far as we knew, she didn’t have any ground game.

HOT TOPIC > Paige VanZant Faces Bec Rawlings in UFC Return on August 27 in Vancouver

“A win’s a win, and although I would have liked it to have gone a little further, and would have liked it to go into different positions, but I do think I develop the most during camp and during training.”

Macfarlane (2-0) will look to pick up her third straight win for Bellator when she takes on veteran Rebecca Ruth (6-1) in a 125-pound main card bout at Dynamite 2 on Friday in St. Louis, Mo.

“She’s definitely going to be my toughest opponent to date, and ‘Ruthless’ is a perfect nickname for her, because she comes forward, always keeps the pressure on and is not afraid to get hit or throw down,” said Macfarlane of Ruth. “I think that this is really going to be a really good brawl.

“I think that in order to beat her, I have to be the smarter fighter. I have to stick to my game plan and work the outside and try to avoid those power punches. She’s got a good solid wrestling base, but we didn’t really see any submissions or high-level Jiu-Jitsu, so I’m pretty confident that if we do go to the ground, I’ll be able to dominate.”

Macfarlane feels a win over Ruth could be the catalyst towards becoming Bellator’s first ever female flyweight champion.

“She’s hands down my toughest opponent yet, and he has a lot more experience than me, so a win, especially under the Bellator banner, is very important to me,” Macfarlane said. “That would actually make me, in my opinion, the Number One contender for the title.

“I’ve had the most fights with them in the flyweight division. This will be my third fight under the Bellator banner, so this is probably the biggest fight of my career so far. I’m still super-early on into my career, so something like this could catapult me to a title shot.”

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Bellator: Dynamite 2 Weigh-in Results and Video: Rampage Returns vs. Ishii

Thu, 2016-06-23 19:50

(Video courtesy of Bellator)

Quinton “Rampage” Jackson is set to make his Bellator return opposite Satoshi Ishii at Dynamite 2 on Friday night after the fighters weighed in on Thursday, making their bouts official. Dynamite 2 will be another split card for Bellator, featuring both MMA bouts and kickboxing matches.

MMA Weigh-in Results:

Satoshi Ishii (222.8) vs. Quinton Jackson (224.9)
Michael Chandler (154.7) vs. Patricky Freire (155)
Matt Mitrione (255.9) vs. Carl Seumanutafa (254.7)
Ilima MacFarlane (126) vs. Rebecca Ruth (124.9)

Kickboxing Weigh-in Results:

Joe Schilling (185) vs. Hisaki Kato (184.9)
Raymond Daniels (170.5) vs. Stefano Bruno (171)
Keri Anne Taylor-Melendez (120) vs. Sarah Howell (120)
Kevin Ross (145) vs. Justin Houghton (145.6)
Denise Kielholtz (124.1) vs. Gloria Peritore (122)

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Throwback Thursday Video: Brock Lesnar Compares Dana White to Vince McMahon

Thu, 2016-06-23 16:44

Prior to his UFC debut against Frank Mir at UFC 81, Brock Lesnar compared UFC president Dana White to his former WWE boss Vince McMahon. Lesnar returns to the Octagon at UFC 200 against Mark Hunt on July 9.

RELATED > CM Punk’s UFC Debut Set for September in Cleveland

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Will Dana White Speak for Donald Trump at the GOP Convention?

Thu, 2016-06-23 15:00

On June 10 during a rally in Virginia, presidential candidate Donald Trump said that he wanted UFC president Dana White to speak for him at the Republican National Convention in July. White, who publicly supported Trump’s presidential run in December, was asked whether he’d speak on Trump’s behalf at the convention while appearing on the first episode of UFC Unfiltered.

“We’ll see,” White said. “He said it publicly. He hasn’t asked me to do it. He said it publicly.”

RELATED > UFC Boss Dana White Says He’s Voting for Donald Trump

White is supposed to have dinner with Trump in New York within the next couple of weeks.

“We’ll see what happens,” said the UFC president. “He hasn’t asked me to. It’s one thing to say, hey, I want guys like Dana White. It’s one thing to say I want guys like Dana White as opposed to asking Dana White.”

“I’m not a big political guy,” added White. “I’m not a Republican, and I’m not a Democrat. I’m actually for the best guy.”

(White’s comments can be heard at the 34:50 mark of the podcast)

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Paige VanZant Faces Bec Rawlings in UFC Return on August 27 in Vancouver

Thu, 2016-06-23 12:30

After advancing to the finals of ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars,” women’s strawweight standout Paige VanZant (6-2) is ready to return to the Octagon. The UFC announced on Thursday that “12 Gauge” will take on Bec Rawlings (7-4) on Aug. 27 at Rogers Arena in Vancouver.

The 22-year-old VanZant had a four-fight winning streak snapped by Rose Namajunas in her last outing and hopes to rebound with a win over the TUF 20 alum in August.

RELATED > CM Punk’s UFC Debut Set for September in Cleveland

Rawlings is coming off back-to-back wins over Lisa Ellis and Seo Hee Ham.  The Australian will be looking to extend her winning streak when she faces VanZant on the UFC on Fox 12 main card.

UFC on FOX 12 takes place at Rogers Arena in Vancouver.  Three bouts have been announced for the event, including former lightweight champion Anthony Pettis‘ featherweight debut against Charles Oliveira.

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CM Punk’s UFC Debut Set for September in Cleveland

Thu, 2016-06-23 12:03

The Ultimate Fighting Championship announced that it had signed former WWE superstar Phil “CM Punk” Brooks to a contract in December 2014 during the UFC 181 pay-per-view event. On Thursday, the fight promotion revealed that Brooks will step inside the Octagon for the first time at UFC 203 on September 10, in Cleveland.

Punk will take on New Jersey’s Mickey Gall (2-0), who earned the shot  with a 45-second submission win over Mike Jackson in February.

RELATED > Dana White Says UFC Sale Rumors ‘Most Disruptive Thing in the History of the Company’

The 37-year-old Brooks wanted to test himself in mixed martial arts.  After his 2014 signing, Punk began training with Duke Roufus and the renowned Roufusport team in Milwaukee to prepare for his UFC debut.

UFC 203: Miocic vs. Overeem takes place at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland.  It will be the first time the UFC has hosted an event in The Rock and Roll Capital of the World.  Heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic puts his title on the line for the first time in the fight card’s main event against Alistair Overeem.

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Defeated TUF 23 Contestant Gets New Life After Cory Hendricks Withdraws Due to Injury

Thu, 2016-06-23 04:42

Team Claudia’s Cory Hendricks finally decided to withdraw from his The Ultimate Fighter 23 semifinals due to a neck injury that didn’t get any better. His decision resulted in a defeated fighter gaining new life in the competition.

“I’ve decided that I’m not comfortable fighting anymore. I knew from pretty early on that it wasn’t probably the smartest decision to fight, but it was what I wanted to do, but I don’t want to have a longterm neck injury from this,” said Hendricks about his decision to remove himself from the competition.

Hendricks was cleared by a doctor to continue on in the competition and was advised that he had a pinched nerve, but the pain, lack of training, and diminished strength in his arm was too much. Partially based on the advice of his coach, women’s strawweight contender Claudia Gadelha, Hendricks decided that fighting in the semifinals would only harm his career.

RELATED > UFC Goes Above and Beyond in Effort to Help TUF Contestant Save His Marriage

“It’s disappointing because I came here to fight and to win the show. To say that I’m just not going to fight is tough, but I feel it’s the smart decision,” said Hendricks.

“I’m at peace with the decision,” he said. “I hope I still get a shot in the UFC, but that’s not up to me. It’s out of my hands.”

Hendricks’ misfortune resulted in a second-chance opportunity for Team Joanna’s Khalil Rountree.  UFC president Dana White decided to bring Rountree back.

“I’m going to bring back Khalil, and give Khalil the opportunity to fight,” said White.  “I was really impressed with Khalil in his elimination fight. I love the way this guy stands up.  I love his kicks to the body.  I really like his style.”

The semifinal match-ups will remain intact except for Rountree stepping in for Hendricks against Josh Stansbury.

Hendricks decision to pull out of the competition will not haunt him.  He’ll compete on the season’s finale on July 8 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.

“I’ll give him the opportunity to fight again in the finale against somebody when he recovers,” said the UFC president.

“He deserves it,” stated Gadelha.

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TUF 23 Performance Replay: Andrew Sanchez Secures His Place in the Finals with Quick Finish

Thu, 2016-06-23 03:37

Team Claudia’s Andrew Sanchez made short work of Eric Spicely, winning by a vicious first round finish to move onto the tournament finals and the TUF 23 Finale on July 8 in Las Vegas.

RELATED > UFC Featherweight Contender Chad Mendes Breaks Silence, Owns Failed USADA Drug Test

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JC Cottrell Hoping His Legacy 56 Performance Will Put Him on the UFC Radar

Thu, 2016-06-23 03:12

As he heads into his first fight of the year, Oklahoma-based veteran JC Cottrell is looking to build off of a recent five-fight winning streak he started in 2014.

It’s a streak that Cottrell believes he can improve upon, especially considering how many fights he managed to win in a row prior to his most recent loss at the end of 2013.

“I was on a 10-fight winning streak before my last loss,” Cottrell told MMAWeekly.com. “I got a big head and thought I didn’t have to train and could win anyway, but that wasn’t the case.

“There have been a lot of changes that have been made. In these last three or four fights I’ve just kind of bounced around and trained at all kinds of different places, but now I’ve found a home at AMA.”

Cottrell believes that moving around camps the past couple of years has helped his game evolve thanks to having to adjust to different training partners.

“You get so used to the people that you’re training with and all the looks that you’re seeing, you adapt to it,” he said. “When you go and see someone else, you realize why styles make fights. You see a different style from someone and it changes everything.”

RELATED > Jason Sampson On Legacy FC 56 Opponent: ‘He’s One-Dimensional’

Cottrell (16-3) will take a step down in weight to face Cody Walker (7-3) in a main card 145-pound bout at Legacy FC 56 in Dallas, Texas, on June 24.

“I think there are multiple things I can do to get the win,” said Cottrell. “I know (Walker is) training with some good guys at a good camp, but at the same time, I’m doing the same thing. I’ve done this at 170, I’ve done this at 155, so I’m sure I can do this at 145.

“That’s the whole reason I’m doing this, I didn’t cut the weight last correctly, so I’m trying to do this one last time and see if it was just the way I was (cutting weight) or if maybe I shouldn’t fight at 145.”

While he’s been able to have nearly 20 fights over the course of seven years and rack up multiple winning streaks, Cottrell has yet to make a move up to the next level. With a win on June 24, he’s hoping to finally take that step up.

“I really want to fight for Legacy again in August, and after that I don’t really know,” he said. “I want a shot at the UFC. I’m 16-3 and so far as I know, I haven’t been looked at. I don’t know if it’s a ‘who you know’ type thing or what.”

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Dana White Explains that ‘Stockton Slap’ Video He Made with Nate Diaz

Wed, 2016-06-22 20:42

Remember when Nate Diaz slapped UFC president Dana White with the “Stockton Slap?” It was glorious.

In case you don’t remember, we got you…

Getting deals done today #immagetmymoney #stocktonslapped #ufc @representltd #100

A video posted by natediaz209 (@natediaz209) on Jun 4, 2016 at 5:14pm PDT

Well, the slap evidently sealed the deal for Nate to sign on for the Conor McGregor rematch currently scheduled for UFC 202 in August. Official business practice, apparently.

Now Dana has come forward to explain how this slap came into the limelight. Here’s what the UFC boss said on the “UFC Unfiltered Podcast.”

To the quotes!

“We had just left and were heading back to the arena and we were on Crenshaw, and there was a place called the Turf Motel. It just came to me, I said ‘pull the truck over, I want Nate to slap me. And Nate looked at me like, what the f—?’ You should have seen the look on his face when I said that. And then we pulled over and he started slapping away.”

So it was all Dana’s idea? OK, I guess I’ll try to do that next time I have an important business deal. I’ll let you folks know how that goes.

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Categories: Latest News

Dana White Says UFC Sale Rumors ‘Most Disruptive Thing In History of the Company’

Wed, 2016-06-22 15:42

Reports surfaced this week that the UFC had been sold for $4.2 billion. UFC executives denied the reports, and UFC president Dana White discussed the rumors during the first episode of UFC Unfiltered.

There have been injuries that forced events to be cancelled. Champions have tested positive to banned substances, but White considers the rumors of the company’s sale the most disruptive thing to happen in the promotion’s history.

RELATED > UFC Denies $4.2 Billion Sale, Tells Employees It’s a False Report (Yahoo Sports Special)

“This has been one of the most disruptive things. Imagine the fighters, I have 400 employees here. It’s been one of the most disruptive things going ever in the history of the company,” said White.

It’s an uneasy feeling for an employee when ownership of the company that employs you changes hands. White says the last thing his employees need to worry about is the company being sold.

“Don’t even worry about stuff like that. It’s the last thing anybody who works here needs to worry about,” he said. “It’s just crazy, but it’s the world that we live in today. With absolutely no proof or evidence whatsoever, people can just say whatever they want. It’s f**king nuts.”

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Chael Sonnen Beyond the Fight: UFC Sale Rumor, Late Stoppages and Fixed fights in Russia

Wed, 2016-06-22 05:07

Chael Sonnen recaps the week in MMA news in this episode of Beyond the Fight. He addresses Fedor Emelianenko‘s controversial win, the rumored UFC Sale and Georges St-Pierre‘s return.

RELATED > Miesha Tate Video: I Need to Fight Ronda Rousey Again, I Also Want to Fight Cris Cyborg

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Hisaki Kato Believes His MMA KO Power Will Transfer To Bellator 157 Kickboxing Bout

Wed, 2016-06-22 04:21

For Bellator middleweight Hisaki Kato, getting a chance to fight in Japan for RIZIN this past April proved to be just the thing he needed to rebound off a loss to Melvin Manhoef to close out 2015.

Kato was able to take advantage of his familiar surroundings to put together a 64-second TKO of Yuta Watanabe in his first fight in Japan in over a year.

“It’s a lot easier for me to prepare to fight in my own country,” Kato told MMAWeekly.com. “There’s no jet lag. You know the food. You know everything. So it was quite easy to get ready for that fight. It was in my hometown, so six hours after the fight, I was in my (own) home again. So it was really easy for all these reasons.”

While Kato is happy he was able to rebound with a win, he wasn’t trying to force something to happen against Watanabe in order to prove himself after the loss to Manhoef.

“It was important to me to have a win after the loss to Melvin, but I was not really desperate after the loss,” Kato said. “I was not like ‘I need to win to be back on track’, I just wanted to do a good performance, and that’s what I did. I had no injuries and I’m ready to fight again.”

RELATED  > Michael Chandler Motived by Opportunity and Challenge Heading into Bellator 157

Kato will make his return to Bellator on June 24 in St. Louis, Missouri, in a rematch of sorts against the fighter he last beat in the promotion, Joe Schilling. This time, however, the bout will be under kickboxing rules instead of MMA.

“For this time I trained specifically in kickboxing because the rules and gloves are different, so you have to get used to that,” said Kato. “With boxing gloves, you have different ways to protect yourself and to move and to use your footwork. I changed a lot of things for this fight.”

Kato believes he’ll still have his knockout ability, and will be able to implement his style in the kickboxing ring as he would in an MMA cage.

“I think I will have to use different timing, different timing and different attack combinations,” he said. “So it’s going to be quite different. But I still have to use my strong points, even if this is a kickboxing fight (rather than an MMA fight).

“I think I can have the knockout again. Of course, not in the same way, but I’m quite confident in the new skills I have and the combinations I have, so I think I have my chances.”

Regardless of the outcome of his bout with Schilling on June 24, Kato feels his future is in MMA and will look to focus on returning to that sport to close out his year.

“For now, I have no other plan for kickboxing. I never think that I could be an elite kickboxer,” Kato said. “This opportunity came, so I took it. For my next six months, I think my future will be more in MMA fights.”

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Jason Sampson On Legacy FC 56 Opponent: ‘He’s One-Dimensional’

Wed, 2016-06-22 03:38

When it came to his 2015, things went much the same way as they had gone in previous years for flyweight up and comer Jason Sampson.

Wins over Joseph Sandoval and Archie Lowe added to Sampson’s current five-fight winning streak, cementing him as one of the best prospects in the Southwest region.

“Those two fights last year went just as I planned,” Sampson told MMAWeekly.com. “I beat them both in the first round. I knew they were not on the same level as me and I knew I was going to get the finish. I just put in the work, and all the hard work I put in paid off in both fights.”

Sampson credits his abilities to make the kind of adjustments in a fight needed to secure victory, which he feels comes from the extensive training he does in preparation.

“Every fight is different, and you can’t plan on what’s going to happen in the cage, so I just try to be ready for wherever the fights goes, and I’m ready for anything,” said Sampson. “I listen to my coaches and we go out there with a plan, but I’m always ready with a Plan B if Plan A doesn’t work.”

RELATED > Georges St-Pierre Ready for UFC Return After Test Training Camp

Sampson (13-1) believes it is his versatility will be a big key in picking up a victory when he takes on veteran Ryan Hollis (11-8) in a main card 125-pound bout on March 24 in Dallas, Texas, at Legacy FC 56.

“He’s not all-around,” Sampson said of Hollis. “He doesn’t have wrestling. He’s one-dimensional on his feet. He’s long and lanky, and has some Jiu-Jitsu, but it’s nothing I’m worried about.

“He’s never been finished before, but I know he’s never fought anyone like me, and I know I’m going to finish him. It might not be Round 1, but this fight will definitely not go to Round 3.”

Should Sampson pick up his sixth win in a row, he feels it will prove he’s ready to take the long-awaited next step in his career.

“I’m not going to waste my time fighting little fights anymore,” said Sampson. “I’m going to go out and win this fight and I’m going to be ready for the next level. I’ve been ready for that next level for a few years now. I definitely belong with the best and the biggest stage in the world.”

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Michael Chandler Motived By Opportunity and Challenge Heading into Bellator 157

Wed, 2016-06-22 03:19

After picking up back-to-back wins following a three-fight losing streak, former Bellator lightweight champion Michael Chandler was looking forward to matching up with veteran standout Josh Thomson last month.

Unfortunately, Thomson had to withdraw from the fight, leaving Chandler in a lurch and having to wait an additional month before finally getting in his first fight of 2016.

“For me, there was definitely a lot of disappointment and a little of feeling sorry for yourself,” Chandler told MMAWeekly.com. “That was a big fight. I wanted to fight Josh. I wanted to test myself against him. The fans really wanted to see it. Bellator is invested in him, so they wanted him to come out and perform. It was definitely a crushing blow.”

The cancellation of his fight with Thomson not only denied Chandler an opportunity to try to pick up his third straight win, but it kept the California native in Florida on an extended training camp as he prepared for a replacement bout.

“Here I am in the middle of a 16, 17 week training camp,” said Chandler. “It’s a huge blessing that I didn’t over-train and get myself injured because of the position that I’ve been put in. You have to pace yourself.

“To be out here in camp for almost double the time I expected to be, it was definitely tough. It hasn’t been easy, because as much as you love your job, it’s still the same workouts and tough to keep the same motivation, but I do love what I do and try to keep that in mind.”

RELATED > Justin Lawrence Looking To Get Back On Track at Bellator 157: Dynamite 2

Chandler (14-3) now shifts his focus to a rematch of a 2011 bout with Patricky “Pitbull” Freire for the vacant Bellator 155-pound title on June 24 in St. Louis, Missouri, in the co-main event of Bellator 157: Dynamite 2.

“You can teach technique, you can teach wrestling, you can teach this and teach that,” Chandler said. “A couple things you can’t teach are power and heart. I think Patricky has been blessed with a large amount of power, and he knocks guys out. If he doesn’t knock you out, he shows you true heart, and that heart diminishes quickly.

“I exposed that in my last fight with him. I’m a tough dude and probably one of the hardest guys to get out of that cage that he’s ever faced. If he doesn’t knock me out in the first couple minutes of the fight, it’s going to be a long night for him.”

While regaining his title will help bring his comeback full circle, Chandler is more interested in continuing to forge a path forward rather than reconnect with the past.

“I’m not really motivated by the belt, I’ve never really been motivated by the paychecks, I’ve been motivated by the opportunity that I’ve been given,” he said. “I’ve been given two capable arms and two capable legs to be able to out and be put on a platform in front of millions of people on Spike TV, and I’ve really taken that opportunity to heart as much as I can.

“I’ve been put in a phenomenal situation, and getting the belt is great, but (I’m motivated) to out-perform previous self, really, truly testing myself and truly see how good I can get at the sport of MMA.”

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