Last day to Buy UFC Albuquerque Tickets on Pre-Sale


Get UFC Albuquerque Tickets Early at Jackson’s MMA Fitness Academy or Get them April 18th

Sorry for the late notice but today is the LAST DAY you will be able to buy pre-sale tickets to the first UFC event in Albuquerque, New Mexico, UFC Fight Night: Henderson vs. Khabilov, before they go on sale to UFC VIP members and the general public. The tickets are available for pre-sale with an exclusive discount at the Jackson’s Martial Arts Fitness Academy located at 2801 Eubank Blvd. NE Albuquerque, NM 87112.

Tickets run between $45.25 to $155.25 and will be on sale at these special rates until 9pm and again, can only be purchased at the Jackson’s MMA Fitness Academy in the heights. Tickets for the general public will go on sale this Friday April 18th.

UFC Fight Night: Henderson vs. Khabilov will take place inside the Tingley Colisuem located on the Expo New Mexico grounds.

Check out the Jackson’s MMA Facebook Page for more details!/pages/Jacksons-MMA/161113467265884.

On Friday, April 18th tickets for UFC Fight Night – Albuquerque: Henderson vs. Khabilov will be available on Ticketmaster website.

Norman Parke: Fighting for a Finish

I’ll be looking to put this kid away and get back to the way I used to be before I joined the UFC and finish the fight. – Norman Parke

UFC lightweight Norman Parke, a self-admitted wild child as a young man, could have been a cautionary tale, if not for hearing countless tales like that in various establishments in Bushmills, Northern Ireland.

“I drank in pubs and clubs and heard the same stories every weekend,” said Parke. “This guy could have been this, he could have been that. He was a good footballer, he was a good boxer. Well, what happened? Oh, he drank too much, the drink got the better of him. You’re sitting and hearing these stories 24/7 and I said I ain’t gonna do this. So I kept chipping away and chipping away.”

First it was judo, then mixed martial arts, then The Ultimate Fighter, and finally his latest destination, as a top 155-pound prospect in the leading organization in the sport, the UFC.

Who said you never learn anything useful while sitting on a barstool?

“I think about it every day and I’m just grateful I’m actually doing something I love, something I’m very passionate about,” he said. “Some people wake up to go to their job every day and they’re just miserable – you can’t even look at them – and when you’re around those people it puts you in a bad mood. So I tell these people go find something you love. I found a hobby I loved, and MMA was a hobby for me. It wasn’t my first sport; it was just my second hobby. But then I kept at it and improved.”

Now he’s only one of a handful of people on the planet who can do what he does at the level he does it at. That’s pretty heady stuff for anyone, but the 27-year-old takes it all in stride, focusing not on the perks of the job, but the job itself. That’s precisely why Parke won the TUF Smashes series, and as he enters his Saturday matchup with returning Japanese veteran Naoyuki Kotani, he does so with a 10-fight unbeaten streak that includes three UFC victories.

Despite all this, he knows that fighting in Dublin is a perk, and it is one he’s embracing fully.

“It’s unbelievable,” he said. “It’s been something the fans have been looking forward to for the last five years, so it’s going to be a great night for Ireland. The people here are very passionate about the sport of mixed martial arts, and sports in general.”

The bout is Parke’s first in Ireland since a 2012 win over Stephen Coll in Donegal, a fight which was his last before heading off to the TUF Smashes house where he made his name on the international scene and won a UFC contract. So you would imagine that there’s a lot of weight on the shoulders of “Stormin’ Norman” to show Irish fans just how far he’s come in the last two years. He says there isn’t.

“I feel no pressure at all anytime I fight,” said Parke, a pro since 2006. “A lot of fighters over think things and they let the hype get to them, but it’s just a fight to me and I treat this just like any other fight. The most important thing with me and the only thing I’m battling with myself is trying to get the finish. I’ll be looking to put this kid away and get back to the way I used to be before I joined the UFC and finish the fight.”

Parke’s last five fights, dating back to his Smashes semifinal win over Brendan Loughnane, have gone the distance, and though he didn’t lose any of those fights, he would love to return to the days when he finished 15 of his first 16 wins.

Kotani, winner of 16 of 19 since his last UFC appearance in 2007, isn’t exactly the guy you would want to bet on finishing, and if Parke can stop or submit the veteran, it would be a significant feather in his cap, but one that may not translate to casual fans who see Kotani as a newcomer, not one of the most respected fighters on the Japanese MMA scene.

“Even though he’s been fighting in Japan and people are saying he’s fought nobodies, there are loads of great fighters that aren’t even in the UFC that are from the Asian scene,’ said Parke. “I guarantee there’s another GSP (Georges St-Pierre) or another Anderson Silva somewhere out there that has never been found. So I’m taking him seriously and I don’t care what people say. The true hardcore MMA fans know who he is, I know who he is, he’s been there before, he’s experienced, and he’s the most experienced fighter on the card, so it’s a tough matchup for me.”

Tough, but winnable, and Parke has every intention of not just picking up the W, but doing it in a way UFC fans have yet to see from him.

“He’s a crafty fighter, so I have to make sure I’m on my game, play it smart, and use my strengths against his weaknesses and I feel like I’ve got the ability to knock him out.”

Tony Bellew threatens to end Nathan Cleverly’s career if they meet again

Tony Bellew has vowed to send Nathan Cleverly into retirement if they stay on course for a rematch this Saturday.

The bitter rivals appear on the same bill at the Echo Arena in Liverpool on Saturday, live on Sky Sports, and victories for both men should pave the way for a return bout between the cruiserweights.

There is plenty at stake for each fighter, who are rebuilding their careers in a higher division, and defeat could end their hopes of fighting for a world title again.

Bellew cannot disguise his ill-feeling towards Cleverly after suffering a points defeat against him in 2011 and has vowed to deliver a career-ending loss in their second clash.

The Merseysider, who faces Julio Cesar Dos Santos this weekend, told The Liverpool Echo: Don’t get me wrong, when it comes to him (Cleverly) it will be different because I despise him.


I will never forget what he said after our first fight. He said it was easy and that he’d fought me with two broken ribs.

So when we have the rematch I am going to retire him and finish his career. He will never fight again.

Those comments he made in the after-fight press conference – having initially said it was a really hard fight and that he’d not want to fight me again – I thought ‘that’s not what you said to me in the ring’.

That has stayed with me and winds me up. When I get him in the ring in November I am going to retire him.

Cleverly will take on Alejandro Emilio Valori as he warms up for the British battle, but Bellew is refusing to look past his Brazilian opponent.

A day doesn’t go by when I don’t think about hurting Cleverly but I can’t allow that to get into my mindset because the fight now is about Dos Santos, a tried and tested cruiserweight and a dangerous one, he said.

I am a good professional and fully focused on the job. Everyone came to the press conference expecting some kind of nutty press conference.

You’ll get the insane behaviour when the time is right. If I had been provoked at the press conference then I may have reacted but I don’t think he has any intention of provoking me because I think he is genuinely intimidated by me.

King Of The Cage “Throwdown” Features Several Las Cruces Gyms And Fighters

Tonight is the night, later on this evening, April 19th, King of the Cage “Throwdown” will be live inside the Las Cruces Convention Center to showcase a stacked fight card filled with amateur bouts and one headlining professional match-up. In preparation of tonight’s festivities, we would like to introduce fans to some of the area’s gyms and the fighters they produce.

The Las Cruces MMA landscape is often unheralded and left to be more of an afterthought to the more mainstream Albuquerque area. UFC top contender Joe Benavidez has ties to the Las Cruces area and the MMA scene blends over from El Paso to make for a healthy area for MMA gyms, promotions, and fighters.

We will be covering some of these gyms and fighters more in-depth in the coming weeks but here is a preview of the area’s gyms for “Throwdown”.

Gracie Barra Las Cruces

Formerly the Three Crosses Jiu Jitsu Academy, the Gracie Barra Las Cruces is headed by Jacob Benitez who trains under Gracie Albuquerque’s “Tussa” Alencar. “Tussa” of course, a Black Belt in the martial art under Carlos Gracie Jr. Benitez is a Brown Belt in Jiu Jitsu and has several talented instructors aiding in the overall teaching within the gym. The gym boasts Purple Belt’s Angela Benitez, Roberto Nava, Craig Ansbach, Spencer Cooper, and Blue Belt Josiah Cuellar.

The gym is Jiu Jitsu focused with adult and children programs but also includes MMA and striking classes for those who fight as part of the competition team. Tonight, Ivan Rios will fight in the 135-pound division as an amateur. If his home gym is any indication as to how he performs as a fighter, competitors from Gracie Barra have strong grappling fundamentals and are very crafty grapplers.

Bonecrusher/Torres MMA Gym

Headed by Lorenzo Martinez, the Bonecrusher/Torres MMA gym takes toughness from MMA and embodies the “old school” mentality of hand-to-hand combat. The gym has been around for 12-years and more active in the most recent three years; the gym is less gym and more training center as the training takes place in the garage of Martinez who also has a cage outside of the home.

Martinez doesn’t stray away from any discipline, training fighters in wrestling, striking and grappling. The gym name “Bonecrusher” has straight forward meaning as Martinez said the name came about through the mentality of “Tap or snap. Break bones”. The competition team of 12 fighters will be well-represented tonight at the gym is scheduled to send out five fighters.

The fighters trained with emphasis on their cardio, which means their opponents better be ready for three rounds if nobody is able to capitalize to get a finish. Alfonso Vargas, James Meza, Kailin Miller and Diana Rodriguez will all represent the Bonecrusher/Torres brand of fighting tonight at “Throwdown”.

Torres Martial Arts Fitness

Operated and coached by Leo Torres, the gym has a balanced schedule of classes for children and adults. Included in the programs our Taekwondo, MMA, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and kickboxing and those martial arts are complimented by aerobic fitness classes. The gym has been opened for five years and has centered the competition fight team on quality versus quantity, training five fighters and seven children to actively participate in Jiu Jitsu.

Coach Torres is a 4th Degree Black Belt in Taekwondo and a Black Belt in Jiu Jitsu to show for his 15-year martial arts career. Amongst the competitors scheduled for tonight, Adam Juarez takes on Nathan Vidana in a lightweight clash. Juarez has been training in MMA for only nine months but already is on a successful path with a victory in the Tuff’N’Uff promotion.

Some tickets available are still available Las Cruces fight fans!  Visit or get there early and purchase tickets at the door.

Inside The Mind Of Westside Power Gym’s Carlos Casados

MMA is well-known in the state of New Mexico as the area plays host to an array and mixture of talent spanning from UFC-caliber fighters to the up-and-coming amateurs that fill our local fight cards. While the physical aspect of MMA is most often discussed, the emotional and mental states of the athletes who compete often go unmentioned. In a sport that is very demanding in all aspects and puts individuals onto a stage of scrutiny, it is interesting to dive into a fighter’s mind.

Located deep inside the busy city of Rio Rancho, the Westside Power Gym focuses on “hardcore” weightlifting and a place for one-on-one personal training. The gym is run by a very popular figure in the gym scene of New Mexico, professional MMA fighter and Boxer Rocky Ramirez. While the gym does focus on weightlifting, Ramirez coordinates a combat program that currently works with four athletes who complete regularly.

One of those athletes is the Enseneda (town near Tierra Amarilla) born Carlos Casados.

Casados is currently 2-1 in amateur MMA competition and 2-0 as an amateur kickboxer and in anticipation of his upcoming amateur MMA bout in March, SWFight caught up with the Rio Rancho trained fighter to discuss some of the more intimate details of his career thus far.

Casados on the moments before his first career MMA bout:

All I can remember was my mouth was bone dry. I was nervous as hell yet I was calm. I couldn’t remember seeing any fans or hearing anything, I just remember staring at my opponent thinking “This guy wants to break me, he wants to punish and humiliate me in front of this whole crowd, his home town, my family, and my friends, he wants to hurt me…but I’m gonna hurt him before he gets the chance.” I just remembered I needed to flip that switch, something I had never done before. It was really honestly my first “fight”, I was never an aggressive kid, I never fought and I didn’t like confrontation. I needed to flip that switch and impose my will.

To flip that switch it felt like it came natural, like I didn’t have to try to flip it, it just came on and took over. After the initial shock it was like I knew what I needed to do and I was able to do it.

The fight took place in Colorado Springs for the No Mercy Extreme Fighting promotion and Casados would win that bout back in May of 2012 against Jeff Dasalla by Unanimous Decision and would spark his combat career with the initial dose of success. In MMA however, there are always going to be ups and downs; whether that implies losses and victories, injuries or just a bad experience in training. A fighter should come to expect some obstacles along the way.

Casados on his most difficult time training:

When I initially moved here to start training here and going to school, I was in the gym and we were sparring, it was one of my first practices here. My hands were very slow and not really developed so I was getting beat by guys that were training on a daily basis. Same thing with rolling in Jiu Jitsu. I came to a place that had people training on a much higher level and more skilled guys and I was tapping out left and right. I felt like I was at the bottom of the food chain

I was in love with the sport so quitting was not going through my head at those moments. My confidence was very low however, I’d say I was down and thought about what I needed to do, if I wanted to do this seriously I would have to put in the time. That means practicing on weekends as well as weekdays, not being able to have as much “free time”. This meant that I wouldn’t always be able to go out with friends or sleep in, so I had to make that change and become 100% committed to getting better and putting in the time that was needed.

The talented Welterweight is coached by Rocky Ramirez, the head coach of Westside Power and in his coaching Ramirez brings with him loads of experience in combat sports ranging from MMA to boxing and from small regional shows to a bout for Bellator MMA. That type of experience definitely makes a difference as the mentoring of younger fighters is really based upon the sharing of knowledge from actual experience. Ramirez, one of the veterans of combat sports in New Mexico made a big difference to Casados during his time training in martial arts.

Casados on Coaches Rocky Ramirez and Quinn Mulhern (Gracie Barra):

I’ve gotten to know him (Rocky) as a friend, not just a coach. He’s somebody I can go to for advice with anything, not just about fighting. Outside the gym we get along great and outside the gym we mesh well. I’m able to understand his coaching and listen to what he’s telling me and apply it instantly. Him (Rocky) and Quinn Mulhern are my two coaches, Quinn is the one who got me started with Jiu Jitsu and I admired his fighting style. When he made the move here to Albuquerque, it was the same week I moved here.

The thing I benefit most from with my coaches is constructive criticism, I need to hear the stuff I need to work on or the things I’m doing wrong before being told what I’m doing right. I still have a long way to go and a lot to improve on, and when I’m aware of what that is, I’m able to work on it and improve.

While Casados has exceptional coaches and mentors in Ramirez and Mulhern, Casados has tasted defeat once in his young amateur career. Back at King of the Cage “Future Legends 18″, Casados came out on the losing end of a unanimous decision. Despite this site scoring the bout in favor of Casados, it would go down as his first loss as a mixed martial artists. Some of the best minds in MMA have said that a first loss truly defines a fighter and shapes his career going forward.

We do not know yet how that loss will affect Casados and if history is an indicator usually one of two things happen. When a young fighter loses for the first type, they can often trap themselves in the mental state of disappointment and send themselves spiraling down a negative trajectory. Other times, a young fighter can really grow with a loss, really mature and come into their own as an athlete.

Casados on his first career loss:

I wasn’t satisfied with how I fought. I thought I had won the fight but I should have done things that I didn’t. When it was announced that I lost, I felt an anger at myself. It wasn’t anybody’s fault but mine and that hunger grew deeper. I knew right then I never wanted to have that losing feeling again.

After the fight I was pissed off, I knew I could fight way better than what I did and I was mad at myself that I didn’t. I talked to Rocky and Quinn right after the fight, they believed that I won the fight and they told me what I could have done to ensure the win for the next time. But they pointed out the positives too. I was really down on my sled and they kind of helped me clear my mind and not get hung up on it and just move on and improve.

In one word, disappointment… in myself.

Losses are tough on the psyche and fight fans and analysts alike have seen instances where an early loss really derails a fighter’s career. When fighters are able to overcome that adversity it is usually because a true passion pushes them forward. While most MMA competitors have passion for the sport, there is a deeper passion inside most athletes that really speaks to the type of individual they are within the confines of sporting psychology.

For some fighters, that passion is built around the desire to compete and prove their worth showcasing their hard-work and for others it is a chip on their shoulder that they carry around trying to prove that they are tough mentally and physically.

Casados on his passion for fighting:

MMA and martial arts gives me a sense of peace. Like peace at mind and just gives me an escape. It’s a huge part of my life.  It allows me to clear my mind just focus on martial arts. It feels like nothing’s wrong in the world. Like everything makes sense and everything fits into place; it gives me a type of knowledge that you can’t get in a classroom or from a book.  Once your mind is clear, everything makes sense.

Anytime I walk into the gym for training, practice or for rolling, I’m able to clear my mind and focus on what I need to do in the cage. When I’m out of the gym and at home, I just sit down alone and get that focus. I visualize what I need to do and how I’m gonna do it and I prepare mentally. MMA is something that’s gonna be there for me no matter what day it is or what’s going on in my life, it’s gonna be there to let me escape and it won’t turn it’s back on me

It is comfortable to say that passion is what drives 99% of us in the daily endeavors that we take on and without that drive, fighters like Casados would find it very difficult to continue to train in a sport so physically, mentally and emotionally demanding. Mixed martial arts is a glorified term that depicts a sport that is focused upon fighting; the art of striking an opponent with intent to take away consciousness or injure a limb to the point that warrants submission.

While the sport itself has been subjected to criticism due to the violent nature of the actions that take place within the cage that fights take place in, there is definitely more to MMA then fighting. Between all the adrenaline and testosterone of fighters squaring off in the ultimate competition of toughness, Casados tells more about the mental and emotional aspect of the physical-based sport.

Casados on hitting an opponent and the feeling of being in a fight:

It (punching someone for the first time) was kind of exciting, I just didn’t really know what to expect. Sparring with teammates, you know how they’re going to react and how they attack. With a stranger, it’s a lot different, you really don’t know what to expect and you got to be on your game, because if you make a mistake they can capitalize on it and it can be bad for you. It was a feeling that I had to be prepared for hard hits and strength from across the cage.

My deepest fear was that I wouldn’t leave it all in the cage and I just didn’t know what to expect being that I hadn’t fought in the cage before. I had to tell myself that no matter what, I use everything I know how to and I leave my heart in there with no regrets coming out.

I had to clear my mind of that (having fear) way before the fight. Of course I acknowledged it (being injured) could happen but I couldn’t be afraid of it. I believe that when you walk into the cage you can’t have fear in you. It will hold you down and be in the back of your head. You have to go in with positive energy and envision yourself in good situations. The fear, doubts, anything negative like that needs to come out before the fight.

Casados comes across as very mature for a young fighter and with the proper mentality heading into a possible professional career, it seems as if he at the very least has a strong head on his shoulder to carry him past possible obstacles that will come his way. Through competition, Casados has even experienced the spiritual connection that comes with competing and the camaraderie that comes when two individuals put their talents up against the other.

Casados on the connection built with an opponent:

I’ve felt that (spiritual) connection, with all of my opponents there is a great deal of respect. It takes a lot of guts to get in that cage and when two of you put your hearts into it and your acquired skills and test each other, there’s sort of a connection that forms.

I mean, it’s not like we sit down and bond but it’s just a connection of respect and honor of a competing martial artist. It’s not that they know something about me that nobody else does, but more that there is a different kind of respect.

With all that being discussed, Casados is a down-to-earth, humble individual who combined with his in-cage talents may be on his way to becoming part of the next wave of young fighters ready to emerge as successful professionals in the New Mexico MMA scene. First, he will compete in his last amateur bout in late-March and if his articulate mental state is a precursor as to what is to come for Casados, we can expect a well-trained and prepared fighter who appreciates the hard-work aspect of martial arts competition.

‘Do Bronx’-Nik Lentz Rematch Set for Sept. 5 in Connecticut

Nik Lentz and Charles “do Bronx” Oliveira will fight again on Sept. 5, a little over three years after their first meeting ended in a no contest.

UFC officials confirmed the pairing with on Thursday evening.

The matchup will be part of the  UFC Fight Night card at Foxwoods Resort Casino in Ledyard, Conn. The event will also house a middleweight duel featuring Gegard Mousasi and Ronaldo Souza, as well as the freshly announced Derrick Lewis-Matt Mitrione heavyweight bout.

The first time “The Carny” met “do Bronx” at UFC Live “Kongo vs. Barry” in June of 2011, Oliveira landed an illegal knee to the head of Lentz. Referee Chip Snider did not call the foul, allowing the Brazilian to capitalize by sinking in a rear-naked choke for the submission victory.

After a review by the Pennsylvania State Athletic Commission, the result was subsequently overturned.

Since the fight, both men have fought seven additional times under the Zuffa banner, each with identical records of 4-3.

Oliveira has won two straight fights by way of submission, most recently earning a “Performance of the Night” bonus for his modified necktie victory against Hatsu Hioki at UFC Fight Night “Te Huna vs. Marquardt.” Prior to the bout, Hioki had never been submitted.

Lentz bounced back from his decision loss to Chad Mendes at UFC on Fox “Johnson vs. Benavidez 2” with a unanimous decision victory against Manny Gamburyan at UFC Fight Night “Brown vs. Silva.”

Fortunes changed for five at UFC Fight Night 45

Matchmaking usually isn’t so easy when it comes to people at the top of their divisions.

You have to balance out fighters who have an idea of who they want and don’t want to face. You have to balance out matches that make sense in building contenders for a title opportunity with matches that fans would want to see. And there are always timing issues.

This week, we saw two different examples of that.

A fight with Donald Cerrone vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov would have made sense this month, since both are on

winning streaks in a log jammed lightweight division. But sometimes the strangest things get in the way, like Ramadan, a Muslim holiday observed by Nurmagomedov which wouldn’t allow him to fight this month. But after Cerrone finished Jim Miller, he brought up Nurmagomedov’s name as a possible next opponent. Nurmagomedov, on Twitter, quickly responded that he was ready for such a fight.

Since champion Anthony Pettis and fellow TUF 20 coach Gilbert Melendez aren’t fighting for the title until December or January, it’s a situation where everything would seem to work out perfectly for a Cerrone vs. Nurmagomedov top contender fight from a timing standpoint.

Timing. Check. Makes sense as far as two top contenders on winning streaks. Check. Both fighters down with the idea of the match. Check. Fan appeal. While not off the charts, it’s not a fight people would complain about.

But there’s always something making things not perfect. In this case, Pettis rolled over Cerrone on Jan. 26, 2013, finishing him in just 2:35. If Nurmagomedov wins, a 23-0 record in this sport and in this weight class would be one of the great streaks in modern MMA. But a Cerrone win throws the winner of Benson Henderson vs. Rafael dos Anjos into the mix. They’re headlining the Aug. 23 show in Tulsa. Henderson and dos Anjos both have wins over Cerrone. And if Gilbert Melendez wins the title from Pettis, Henderson has a win over Melendez as well.

But there are worse curses than too many viable contenders in one weight class.

Because on the flip side, you have the flyweight division.

Usually, when UFC announces a championship fight, the challenger isn’t a surprise. Dana White frequently hints at what is next. And just following things logically will get you to UFC’s destination most of the time. Even the fights that some complain make no sense, like Chael Sonnen’s shot at Jon Jones last year, hardly came out of the blue. Any time there is a potential fight with greater public appeal than any other in the class, like Georges St-Pierre vs. Nick Diaz as well, or the Ultimate Fighter reality show coaching is involved meaning a match-up that is thought to have a three-month ratings impact, it should never shock people when UFC makes that call.

Demetrious Johnson vs. Chris Cariaso for the flyweight title fits into none of those categories. Cariaso, who gets an Aug. 30 title shot at Johnson in Sacramento, Calif., was not a name on the tip of people’s tongues for a next title shot.

Cariaso (17-6), would appear to be behind as many as eight fighters before you’d come to his name for a title shot. But that’s where timing fits in.

UFC evidently decided they wanted two title fights at UFC 177, and Johnson was going to be ready. The name White had spoken of as the next contender, John Dodson, needed major knee surgery. They wanted the announcement to coincide the tickets going on sale, meaning the day it would be announced was the day before John Lineker was fighting Alpetkin Ozkliic in Atlantic City.

Top contender Joseph  Benavidez was knocked out quickly by Johnson only a few months ago and it was too quick to go back to that direction, even though the show is in Sacramento, where Benavidez lives and trains.

Other contenders, like Brad Pickett, Zack Makovsky, Kyoji Horiguchi, Ian McCall, Jussier Formiga and Lineker all had fights scheduled. Lineker had some good knockouts, but he had lost to Ali Bagautinov in his previous fight and missed weight three times in his previous six tries.

In this case, Cariaso is from Northern California and is 4-2 as a flyweight, with losses to Formiga and former contender John Moraga. Horiguchi is from Japan, and the UFC had earmarked him for the Japan show, and he was 1-0 in the division.

But if the deadline was a week later, after Lineker’s impressive win in the best fight on Wednesday night, the decision may have been a different one.

The Cerrone vs. Jim Miller Fight Night card from Atlantic City, N.J., ended up as one of the year’s best action shows. There were eight stoppages in 11 fights, most of them highlight reel worthy.

But ratings were slightly below normal.

The show did 640,000 viewers, peaking at 756,000 in the Lineker vs .Ozkilic fight. The Wednesday night FS 1 average for a Fight Night is 652,000. The main sports competition, the ESPY awards, did 2.21 million viewers. The prelims, doing 415,000 viewers, was the best for a Wednesday offering.

Here’s a look at how fortunes changed for five key players on the show:

DONALD CERRONE – With his head kick stoppage of Miller, Cerrone (24-6, 1 no contest) broke his Zuffa record with his 15th performance bonus. Holding that record is testimony of a career filled with exciting fights and spectacular finishes.

But Cerrone’s UFC career has also been one of win streaks, and a loss right when he got into the title picture.

After the WEC buyout, Cerrone scored four wins in a row before losing a decision to Nate Diaz in a fight that would have gotten him a title shot. Then, he rebounded to where he was one fight away from a title shot, but lost to Anthony Pettis. Miller was his fourth straight victim of his latest winning streak, all four being via stoppage in two rounds or less.

He looks once again to be a win away from a title shot if he gets a top contender next. Cerrone has shored up the weak takedown defense of early in his career, and if Nurmagomedov is his next opponent, he’ll need all of that against a fighter who holds the UFC record with 21 takedowns in one three-round fight.

EDSON BARBOZA – The always exciting Brazilian has some of the best offense in the division, particularly his nasty low kicks. But Barboza (14-2), will continually have to answer questions about his chin, which failed him in his two losses to Cerrone and Jamie Varner.

With so much depth in the division, Barboza came into the fight as the No. 13 ranked contender for the title. His best case scenario would be to push for a fight with Josh Thomson, who is ranked No. 3 provided Thomson beats Bobby Green on July 26 in San Jose, Calif. That would fast-track Barboza deep into the top ten.

Failing that, there are no shortage of opponents at his level, but none of which would get him within shooting distance of a title opportunity.

RICK STORY – Story (17-8), the only fighter to ever beat welterweight champion Johny Hendricks without controversy, has struggled to regain the success of four years ago when he scored wins over Hendricks and Thiago Alves in succession.

After a switch in camps to the MMA Lab in Glendale, Ariz., best known for being the camp of Benson Henderson, he overpowered an undersized Leonardo Mafra to score his first submission win in nearly five years. The win may not even get him in UFC’s top 15 contenders, but could get him a shot at the likes of Ryan LaFlare, Erick Silva or Gunnar Nelson, who are on that list.

JOHN LINEKER – Lineker (24-7) belies the axiom that flyweights don’t have the power to finish fights. His win over Ozkilic after two hard lefts was his fourth win via knockout or TKO out of four UFC wins. From a timing standpoint, he could face the winner of Saturday’s Pickett vs. McCall fight in Dublin, Ireland, provided there are no injury hold-ups. The other opponent that would make sense would be the Makovsky vs. Formiga winner of a fight on Aug. 16 in Bangor, Maine.

But between Lineker and those two winners, one will be earmarked for a title shot at the Johnson vs. Cariaso winner. With his knockout finishes and coming off an exciting fight, Lineker would seem to have as good a chance as any.

CLAUDIA GADELHA – Gadelha (12-0) will forever go into the UFC trivia handbook as the winner of the first strawweight fight in company history. The 25-year-old was scheduled for a shot at the Invicta title in that weight class in December, but she was hospitalized at the last minute with gastroenteritis.

She was a favorite in the tournament on Ultimate Fighter, currently being filmed, to crown a first champion. She pulled out due to questions about her being able to make the weight three times in six weeks.

The fight with Tina Lahdemaki was a hit. Gadelha showed crisp striking and strong takedowns. She’ll probably have one more fight this year. With a win, Gadelha could easily wind up as the first challenger for the new champion that gets crowned on the reality show.

Four More UFC 176 Fights Find New Homes

After the postponement of UFC 176, UFC matchmakers continue to move fights from the event to other upcoming shows.

In the latest moves, the intriguing lightweight showdown between Danny Castillo and Tony Ferguson will move to UFC 177 on August 30, with Castillo getting a home game in Sacramento against El Cucuy. The middleweight clash between Derek Brunson and Lorenz Larkin will land at the Sleep Train Arena in Sactown as well.

Plus, lightweights Tony Martin and Beneil Dariush will now meet in Tulsa, Oklahoma for a UFC Fight Night bout on August 23, and they will be joined by fellow 155-pounders James Vick and Walmir Lazaro.

Stay tuned to for more updates.

For Barboza, Loss a Learning Experience

When you hear someone referred to as a “martial artist,” it’s easy to ignore the oxymoron of the term.

By definition, a martial artist – martial, meaning “warlike,” and artist, meaning “a person who practices in the creative arts, like painting, sculpting, filmmaking or writing” – is someone who is “creatively warlike.”

After watching UFC lightweight Edson “Junior” Barboza  train at Ricardo Almeida Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Academy for his July 16th fight against Evan Dunham at the Revel Casino Hotel in Atlantic City, NJ, one comes away with the idea that the term was invented just for him.

“He’s got beautiful footwork and just gorgeous kicks,” says trainer Mark Henry. “Not just kicks that look good; he’s got devastating timing and power in those kicks.”

At 5’11” tall, the 28-year-old Brazilian is big for the lightweight division. He is a Muay Thai specialist with nine wins coming via knockout, usually in spectacular fashion, most notably a highlight reel spinning heel kick against Terry Etim in January 2012.

But against Dunham, Barboza will have his hands full against an opponent who doesn’t know the meaning of quit.

“You’ve got two studs back to back,” says Henry, referring to Barboza’s first-round submission loss against “Cowboy” Cerrone earlier this year. Ironically, Dunham is also coming off a submission loss to Cerrone at UFC 167 last November.

“With Dunham you will have someone coming and coming and coming, and you have to get Edson in that mindset from day one in the camp, and I think we did a good job in that,” says Henry.

Barboza was dominating Cerrone early in the fight with leg kicks, fast hands and one spinning back kick before he was tagged with a hard jab that sent him to the mat. Cerrone pounced and cinched a rear naked choke to end the fight.

For Barboza, the loss was nothing more than a learning experience.

“I watched that fight with Cowboy a thousand times,” says Barboza. “And I know that I haven’t given my hundred percent in the cage yet, but this fight I will give one hundred percent and I will get another win in my career. It’s hard, you know, I am much stronger now because of my loss to Cowboy. I believe in my stand-up and my ground game more than ever, I’ve trained harder every day since then, and mentally and physically, you guys will see the best Edson Barboza against Evan.”

Henry says he’s counseled Barboza to look at all the positives that came out of the Cerrone fight.

“Nobody has their way with Donald Cerrone like Edson did, so we look at the best things that he did in that fight to help him get it behind him.”

And with Team Frankie Edgar, Barboza has a slight, inadvertent advantage over Dunham, who visited Edgar’s camp to help Frankie train for his first title fight against Benson Henderson.

Barboza arrived at Ricardo Almeida’s at the same time.

“We know Evan well, we love Evan to death,” says Henry. “He came down and helped us train with Frankie for Benson Henderson, but with Edson coming off a loss to Cerrone, we really didn’t have a say in accepting the fight against Evan. We are all huge Evan Dunham fans here in New Jersey. Everyone at Ricardo Almeida loves Evan Dunham, and we always support fighters who help us, but we didn’t have a choice really. He’s a great fighter and an amazing guy too. How can you not love a guy who has Performance of the Night type fights every time out? This fight is going to be epic.”

Barboza shared this camp with Edgar, who beat BJ Penn at the TUF 19 Finale July 6th, and with the most recent TUF winner, Corey Anderson, who also signed up with Team Edgar, so there’s been no shortage of activity among the fighters in south Jersey.

“I fight with Frankie, (WSOF featherweight champion) Marlon Moraes, Akira Corassani, Frankie Perez and now we have Corey Anderson, so I’m always around great fighters. We train hard every day, thank God,” says Barboza, who started his U.S. professional fighting career at The Armory in Florida.

“There were two different Edson Barbozas,” says Edson. “The one who trained at the Armory, and the one who trains with Ricardo Almeida. The coaches here show me something new every day. If I want to be the best I have to live this life. I have to be around champions every day. I can get more experience for fighting and for life. My coaches are all family men, and they teach me about life. This is a good moment for me because my wife is pregnant, and I have a fight soon, and I’m very excited for this moment. The doctor said 85% we are having a boy but I go to the doctor next week to see for sure but I think we’re having a boy, and if we do I will name him Noah Barboza. I’m very excited. I’m very, very happy. My first son. My life is great.”

For the Brazilian, NJ has become his second home, and fighting in Atlantic City is very familiar for the former Ring of Combat champion.

“Dunham is a really tough guy, he’s one of the best for sure. I want to give my best, I want to win this fight. I’ve fought in Atlantic City about four times now, so to me it’s my second home for fighting. I’m very comfortable there. When I step in the cage I am going to give my best and win this fight.”

Bellew not thinking about Cleverly round 2 as he prepares to fight Brazilian Julio Santos

Tony Bellew insists he is not thinking about Nathan Cleverly as the pair share top billing on July 12 at the Echo Arena in Liverpool, live on Sky Sports.

Bellew’s fight against rough opponent Brazilian Julio Santos is his sole focus for the coming fortnight – not revenge on Cleverly whom narrowly beat him in a WBO World title defence in October 2011.

“It’s all about July 12, not about Nathan,” said Bellew.

“I cannot think about anything other than Julio Santos. He’s a very, very durable and hard-punching Brazilian.

“I know he is strong, he has never been stopped and he does a little of everything. Fans come to see me because I stop people, and this guy is a solid proven cruiserweight so we’ll see what I can do with him.”

In a night dubbed ‘Collision Course’ by promoter Eddie Hearn, Bellew is confident that his performance in Merseyside will be worth a watch – and is setting his sights high.

“I’ve settled into the weight perfectly and you’ll see a destructive performance on July 12.

“I want to close the season in style and push towards another World title shot.

“All I have ever been interested in is fighting the best in the business for the big belts, and if I have to beat Nathan to get to the top, then that will be the icing on the cake.”


Bellew and Cleverly lead a star-studded line up in Liverpool with local favourites mixing with Olympic heroes.

Super-middleweights Rocky Fielding and Callum Smith look to extend their unbeaten records with fights against Noe Gonzalez Alcoba and Vladine Biosse respectively.

Olympic gold medal heroes Anthony Joshua and Luke Campbell close their first seasons with their first appearances in Liverpool, Joshua facing Matt Skelton while Campbell’s opponent will be announced soon. They are joined by Team GB team-mate and bronze medallist Anthony Ogogo who faces Sheffield’s Wayne Reed.

Unbeaten Liverpool featherweight John Quigley contests his 13th fight and the bill which is completed by former Team GB bantamweight star Gamal Yafai and unbeaten Cambridge lightweight Tommy Martin.

Chris Camozzi-Rafael Natal Booked for Sept. 5 UFC Fight Night in Connecticut

Chris Camozzi was visibly displeased with the way his fight against Bruno Santos went at UFC 175 in Las Vegas last Saturday, but UFC officials have given the Colorado native an opportunity to quickly wipe the bad taste from his mouth.

It was announced on Friday that Camozzi will fight Rafael Natal in a middleweight bout on Sept. 5.

The tilt will be part of the  UFC Fight Night at Foxwoods Resort Casino in Ledyard, Conn. The event will also house a middleweight duel featuring Gegard Mousasi and Ronaldo Souza, as well as the recently announced Derrick Lewis-Matt Mitrione heavyweight bout.

For Camozzi, winning is absolutely vital. The 27-year-old has dropped three straight pairings under the Zuffa banner since May of 2013. Prior to the losing streak, Camozzi had rallied off four wins in a row, earning him a fight against “Jacare” Souza at UFC on FX “Belfort vs. Rockhold.” He lost via submission, starting on his current slide.

Natal is in the midst of a losing streak of his own, dropping a decision his last time out against Ed Herman at UFC Fight Night “Brown vs. Silva.” Prior to that, “Sapo” was viciously finished by Tim Kennedy at UFC Fight Night “Fight for the Troops 3.”

Tyson Fury hopes to fight Deontay Wilder for a world title in the near future

Tyson Fury has called for a future fight with Deontay Wilder if the heavy-hitting American lands a world title later this year.

Wilder is one of the hottest properties in the heavyweight division after winning all of his 31 fights by knockout and is next in line to face new WBC champion Bermane Stiverne, with the fight likely to happen in November.

Fury must firstly get past Dereck Chisora in their rematch on July 26, but would relish a meeting with Wilder and hopes to lure the Alabama man to the home of his football team, Manchester United.

“I want to fight Deontay Wilder for the world title at Old Trafford,” he told the Manchester Evening News.

“It’s the home of the team I support – Manchester United – and the biggest venue in the city.

“It’s a fight that would catch people’s imagination. They would think he could beat me and everyone would turn out.

“Of course I don’t think anyone can beat me – that’s my mentality, my self-confidence.


“It could be a big fight in England or America, but it’s not worth doing until there is a world title involved. One of us has to get a title and then maybe it can happen.”

Victory over Chisora would guarantee Fury a shot at Wladimir Klitschko’s WBO title, but he expects the Ukrainian to vacate the belt rather than face him.

There has been bad blood between Chisora and the Wilmslow man in the build-up to next month’s clash, with Fury flipping a table at a press conference, but he vowed to keep his calm in the coming weeks.

“Before any of that can happen I’ve got to get past Dereck Chisora at the Phones 4U Arena next month,” he said.

“I went down to London last week for a question and answer session with Del Boy – and if people expected me to kick off, they were disappointed.

“I’m not interested in that any more. You’ve got two British heavyweights going up against each other. I’m not going to be the one to get fined to sell the fight.

“I’m not a promoter – I’m a fighter. All those days of causing scenes are over. I’m sick to death of them.

“I’m going to show people the nice guy. I’ve been nicknamed the bad boy of British boxing, but what more can I do?”

Lopez-Vargas winner seeks title shot

If many had left Juan Manuel Lopez’s career for dead after he suffered two knockout losses to Orlando Salido in featherweight world title fights during a three-fight stretch in 2011 and 2012, then pretty much everyone else kicked dirt on it when Mikey Garcia destroyed him in a fourth-round knockout in another title fight 13 months ago.

But Lopez, a southpaw with outstanding power, resurrected his career by knocking out former titleholder Daniel Ponce De Leon in the second round of their rematch at junior lightweight on March 15.

Puerto Rico’s Lopez, who has won world titles at junior featherweight and featherweight, is looking to put another strong victory in the bank to push himself toward a title shot in a third weight class when he faces Francisco Vargas of Mexico in a scheduled 10-round junior lightweight bout on the Canelo Alvarez-Erislandy Lara undercard Saturday night (Showtime PPV, 9 ET) at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.

I felt very good. I felt very happy, Lopez said through a translator about the win over Ponce De Leon. Unfortunately, you’re only as good as your last fight, and I was coming off a loss to Mikey Garcia, so a lot of people didn’t give me the opportunity. But I didn’t listen to them. I didn’t listen to any of them.

I only listened to my team. And we knew what we had to do and, obviously, we came out with a spectacular victory. And that’s what we look forward to doing this coming fight too.

Said Golden Boy promoter Oscar De La Hoya (whose brother, Joel, manages Vargas): In his last fight, Juanma Lopez showed everybody what it means to be a warrior, what it means to be a true fighter, because he fought with his heart and he showed everybody what he’s made of.

On paper, Lopez-Vargas looks like a 50-50 fight and just might be the most action-packed bout on the pay-per-view. A win would boost the winner’s title prospects considerably.

It’s the prospect of winning a world title in a third weight class that drives the 31-year-old Lopez (34-3, 31 KOs).

I’m very motivated to put on a great performance, a great fight, and obviously looking forward to winning the world title again, to being a three-time champion, Lopez said. Winning this fight will put me there, so that’s where the focus is.

My goal is to become world champion again. I’m very proud of what Miguel [Cotto] has done [by winning the middleweight title on June 7]. He gave Puerto Rico a title. And I’m looking forward to doing the same. But for me to do that I have to beat Francisco Vargas, and that’s where my goal is right now, that’s where my focus is, on Francisco Vargas and to beating him.

Vargas (19-0-1, 13 KOs), 29, who was a 2008 Mexican Olympian, has scored two notable victories in a row, both 10-round decisions against Jerry Belmontes in December and Abner Cotto in March.

He’s also looking for a victory Saturday to propel him into a possible world title bout.

I’m very motivated. I know he has tremendous experience and I know that he’s a great fighter, Vargas said through a translator. But that’s what we’re working on. We’re working with the sparring partners, working very hard, because I know a victory here will get me ready for the world title, and that’s what we want.

UFC 176’s Green-Trujillo, ‘Formiga’-Makovsky Bouts Moved to Aug. 16 Maine Card

Less than an hour after the  Ultimate Fighting Championship announced the cancelation of UFC 176, two of the event’s undercard bouts have found a new home.

A lightweight tilt between Bobby Green and Abel Trujillo will now take place Aug. 16 in Bangor, Maine, as will a flyweight showdown pitting Jussier “Formiga” da Silva against Zach Makovsky.

The fights will be part of  UFC Fight Night “Bader vs. St. Preux,” a Fox Sports 1-broadcast event topped by a 205-pounders Ryan Bader and Ovince St. Preux.

Green and Trujillo were originally set to meet in February at UFC 169, but that matchup was scratched when Green withdrew from the bout due to injury. Trujillo went on to score his second consecutive stoppage with knockout of replacement opponent Jamie Varner. Green last competed in December, when he extended his current winning streak to seven with a unanimous decision against Pat Healy.

Formiga moved his UFC record to 2-2 in March with a controversial submission of Scott Jorgensen, who was choked out after being knocked to the ground by an accidental head-butt. The former Shooto champion will face another stiff test in ex-Bellator titlist Makovsky, who began his Octagon tenure in December with a win over Jorgensen and then outpointed Josh Sampo in February.

Canelo Alvarez earns split decision

LAS VEGAS — Canelo Alvarez, embarrassed by Floyd Mayweather Jr. last September by his inability to hang with an elite technical boxer, obviously has learned something since then.

To the surprise of many, Alvarez accepted a fight with Erislandy Lara, a skillful southpaw, and showed vast improvement as he claimed a split decision on Saturday night before a crowd of 14,239 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

The fight was essentially to determine the No. 1 junior middleweight in the world now that Mayweather and new middleweight champion Miguel Cotto have exited the division. And even though the bout was contracted at 155 pounds, one over the weight class limit, Alvarez can claim that mantle.

It was his constant pressure, heavier punching and ability to cut off the ring when necessary that did the business as judges Levi Martinez (117-111) and Dave Moretti (115-113) scored it for Alvarez while Jerry Roth (115-113) had it for Lara. scored the fight 116-112 for Alvarez, the former unified junior middleweight titleholder.

I came to fight. I didn’t come to run. You don’t win by running. You win by hitting, Alvarez said through a translator. He definitely has a great jab but you don’t win a fight like that by running.

When the scores were announced the overwhelmingly pro-Alvarez crowd erupted in cheers. Alvarez is Mexico’s biggest active boxing star and had given them what they wanted.

I wanted to leave a good taste in the mouth of my fans, so I came to fight, said Alvarez, who has won two in a row, having also knocked out Alfredo Angulo in March in his return from the Mayweather debacle. Lara didn’t come to fight. He’s a great boxer, I respect him. But he has to throw more [effective] punches.

Lara, to the surprise of nobody, bitterly disputed the result.

I 100 percent thought I won the fight, he said through a translator. I felt I was totally in control. It didn’t seem like he was doing anything. I know one thing, 100 percent I made him look bad in front of all of his people. Everyone knows I won the fight, no matter what they say.

Said Ronnie Shields, Lara’s trainer, That’s bulls—, they robbed us.

Alvarez (44-1-1, 31 KOs), who turns 24 on Friday, is the most important fighter under contract to Golden Boy Promotions, and the win was a huge boost for a company transition following last month’s resignation of chief executive Richard Schaefer. Oscar De La Hoya, the Golden Boy president, who has taken the day-to-day reins of the company, looked relieved and happy after the fight.

I thought it was a great performance from the opening bell, De La Hoya said. He literally just chased Lara and landed effective punches, great combinations and cut him over the eye. It was a difficult and tough fight like everyone expected, but Canelo pulled it off.

Lara (19-2-2, 12 KOs), 31, a former Cuban amateur star before defecting and settling in Houston, would have preferred to be making the first defense of his world title since being elevated from an interim titleholder. But Alvarez did not want to fight for his belt and Lara couldn’t turn down the opportunity to face Alvarez, the man he had been calling out for the past year.

So while Lara still holds his belt, Alvarez gets the glory of the victory against the fighter who insulted him time and again during his attempt to land the fight, and then throughout the promotion.

Lara said he would take Alvarez to Cuban boxing school, but that never materialized.

If this is a school of boxing, that’s a poor school, said Chepo Reynoso, Alvarez’s trainer.

Lara spent much of the fight running from Alvarez. He put his back against the ropes time and again and slid along them around the ring as Alvarez chased after him and ultimately scored his most significant victory.

According to CompuBox punch statistics, Alvarez landed 97 of 415 punches (23 percent), including 73 percent of his power shots to the body, and Lara connected on 107 of 386 blows (28 percent). Alvarez’s shots were clearly heavier as he attacked, attacked and attacked.

In the first round, he landed a right hand to the body that sent Lara into the ropes, and he never stopped going after him. When he landed an overhand right in the second round, the crowd erupted with chants of Canelo! Canelo! Canelo!

Alvarez, who earned at least $1.5 million plus a share of the pay-per-view profits, also landed a lot of hard body punches, hoping to slow Lara down and get him to stand still and fight. But Lara, who made a career-high $1 million, wanted no part of that. He virtually sprinted around the ring often and threw his punches off his back foot.

He hit me with some body shots but those things had no force. They had nothing on them, Lara said.

Lara’s track meet style was frustrating to watch, but not for Alvarez.

I wasn’t frustrated, Alvarez said. I came to pressure him and that’s what I did.

Lara managed to land a few stiff straight left hands, which raised swelling around Alvarez’s right eye in about the fourth round.

Alvarez had been trying to land an uppercut and finally nailed Lara with one in the seventh round that cut him over his right eye; Lara immediately dabbed at the blood.

No, the cut didn’t bother me, Lara said. This is not baseball, this is boxing and it happens.

A body shot in the eighth round buckled Lara against the ropes as he began to slow down.

In the 10th round it was more of the same with Canelo chasing Lara around, but he did land an uppercut as Lara was backing up into the ropes.

You’re always worried about a boxer who is literally running, De La Hoya said. Lara is an excellent boxer, he’s a very dangerous boxer. I respect him because his ability to not engage in a fight is probably the best in boxing.

Alvarez was going for a knockout in the 12th round as he came out blasting. He landed a hard right hand that ignited the crowd and continued to pressure Lara. But Lara responded with a clean right hand in one of the most action-packed sequences of the fight as the crowd chanted for Alvarez again.

After the fight, Lara continued with the same disrespect toward Alvarez that he showed before the fight.

I didn’t respect him before the fight and that hasn’t changed, he said. I don’t respect him now. I want a rematch.

De La Hoya said Alvarez would return to action in November, although who he will face is unclear. A potential showdown with Cotto could happen next spring, but is unlikely for this year. Big puncher James Kirkland could be an option.

There’s plenty of time to figure out what’s next.

Right now I’m just gonna enjoy my birthday, Alvarez said.

He’s gonna enjoy his 24th birthday next week and then we’ll sit down with his team next week, De La Hoya said. I will fly to Mexico and talk to him about it.

One thing you can take to the bank is that Alvarez won’t be facing Lara again.

I’ll give him the rematch, Alvarez said mockingly, when he learns how to fight.