Cathal Pendred: A Long Time Coming


He’s a good fighter and a tough fighter, but he’s not as good as me and he’s not as tough as me. I know that I’m going to come out on top. - Cathal Pendred

UFC middleweight Cathal PendredFor Cathal Pendred, his entry way into the UFC

nearly kept him from achieving one of his biggest professional goals.

Last summer when the SBG Ireland representative successfully defended his Cage Warriors welterweight title with a third-round stoppage win over Che Mills, he fully expected to get a call from Joe Silva inviting him to join teammate Conor McGregor on the UFC roster, but the call never came.

Standing atop the 170-pound ranks on the European regional circuit, there weren’t many fights that made sense for the former rugby player. After stopping a respected veteran who had previously enjoyed a cup of tea on the biggest stage in the sport, Pendred was left waiting for the right matchup to materialize, but nothing was coming together.

Instead of continuing to sit on the sidelines, Pendred heeded the advice of his head coach John Kavanagh and joined teammate Chris Fields in making the trip to Indianapolis to try out for Season 19 of The Ultimate Fighter and ended up making it into the house without having to win an elimination fight.

As the season played out, Pendred advanced to the semifinals of the middleweight competition, losing a split decision to Team Edgar’s Eddie Gordon. After the bout, UFC President Dana White confided in the Irishman that he believed he deserved the nod and would get the opportunity to compete in the Octagon once the season had played out.

Not soon after the date for the Ultimate Fighter 19 Finale was released, the organization announced it would be making its long-awaited return to Pendred’s hometown of Dublin just two weeks after the finale was set to take place in Las Vegas. The news left the 26-year-old newcomer torn.

“I got really worried that it was going to be a couple weeks after The Ultimate Fighter 19 Finale because after I had lost that split decision to Eddie (Gordon), Dana had said to me that he thought I won the fight and I was going to be getting my shot, so I thought I’d be fighting on the finale,” admits Pendred with a laugh. “I got pretty worried when they announced the Dublin card that I’d be fighting a couple weeks before that in Vegas and there would be no way of me competing on it, so when Joe Silva contacted me and told me I was on (the Dublin) card, I was over the moon.

“To be honest with you, doing The Ultimate Fighter was just about getting my foot in the door, getting that contract I’ve been looking for for a long time. I got that now. As much as not winning the show hurt at the time because I went in there believing I would win, it worked out for the better and I’m happy with the outcome.”

Fighting in front of his friends, family and countrymen inside the Octagon has been at the top of Pendred’s list of professional goals for five years, six months and three days – the exact amount of time it has been since the UFC last held an event in Dublin.

Held on January 17, 2009, UFC 93 not only boasted some major names on the fight card, including Rich Franklin, Dan Henderson, and Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, but there were a pair of potential future stars amongst the 9,000-plus fight fans that packed the O2 Arena that evening as well – Pendred and the man who will headline the organization’s return to Ireland, featherweight lightning rod Conor McGregor.

“Ireland is a small country, but it’s a very proud nation and they’ve always been proud of their fighters. The last time the UFC came around, we weren’t quite ready in MMA terms. We’ve always had a great boxing tradition and been world-class in that sport, but MMA we were slightly behind. We’ve caught up – more than caught up – with the rest of the world now and we’ve got world-beaters, myself included, in the country now and the country is behind us.

“I remember being in the audience, in the crowd in 2009 when the UFC first came to Dublin and the O2 – it was a month before my first pro fight and I said to myself, `The next time they come back here, I will be competing on the show.’ It took longer than we thought for the UFC to come back and it took longer than we thought for me to make my UFC debut, but they finally announced the card here and it’s the perfect timing.”

Though this will mark Pendred’s first official appearance in the UFC Octagon, it won’t be his first time competing before a raucous and partisan Irish crowd. He’s fought at home on a number of occasions, including serving as the headlining act for his championship encounter with Mills last June, so he has a good idea of what to expect when he makes his walk to the Octgaon.

While it is a moment he has been looking forward to for an extended period of time, Pendred also knows that the time to soak in the experience and let the powerful emotions of the moment wash over him is after he’s done trading punches with fellow Team Penn member Mike King.

“I know how loud that’s going to be and how crazy it’s going to be and I’m preparing myself to stay calm through that because I know that’s how it’s going to be. Any time I fight in Ireland, that’s the reaction that I get and it’s going to be even bigger this time around, but part of the way I fight is just keeping calm and not getting caught up in that.

“I’m so in the zone going into a fight, my mind is so set on what I have to do,” continues the 13-3-1 fighter who will compete here at middleweight before moving back to his natural 170-pound weight class. “I’ll enjoy walking down to the cage, but I won’t truly enjoy it until I look back and remember the roar that happens and the hairs sticking up on the back of my neck and the `Ole! Ole! Ole!” chants. I’ll reflect on how good that is, but I won’t get caught up in it at that moment because I still have the job to do. I’ll be so focused and so in the zone that I won’t get caught up.”

But when the fight is over and if he’s standing in the center of the Octagon, the Irish flag draped over his shoulders, Bruce Buffer bellowing his name as the referee raises his hand in victory, that is when Pendred will allow himself to take it all in.

“It will be a dream come true and I can’t wait,” says Pendred, the excitement evident in his voice. “I’ve been visualizing this and picturing this for so long and it’s going to be amazing to have it happen with the Tricolor draped around me in front of the Irish crowd going ballistic. I can’t put it into words how good it’s going to feel. I’m getting tingles just talking about it.”

As much as the bout with King will allow Pendred to cross off a major professional goal, the confident and competitive Dubliner wants to make it clear that it’s the beginning of a new and hopefully lengthy chapter in his career – one that will start with him earning the victory at home on July 19.

“I’ve kept it no secret from the start of my career that this is what I wanted to do – to fight in the UFC, in Dublin and now it’s coming true – but this isn’t the end of the dream; this is the start of the next chapter and a new journey. It took a little bit longer than I would have imagined, but I’m finally here and it feels great.

“(Every fight), I just go out there and fight my fight. I don’t take into account what his game plan might be. Even though I’ve trained with him, done a bit of sparring with him, I’m just focusing on my fight; that’s what has gotten me to where I am. I go in there, fight my fight, dictate the pace and I’m going to do that again this fight.

“He’s a good fighter and a tough fighter, but he’s not as good as me and he’s not as tough as me. I know that I’m going to come out on top.”

Anthony Joshua makes quick work of Matt Skelton in Liverpool

British heavyweight Anthony Joshua enjoyed another short night, stopping veteran Matt Skelton in the second round in Liverpool.

Joshua, who won super-heavyweight gold at the London 2012 Olympics, turned pro last year and has now put together seven straight victories, all inside two rounds.

Skelton, the 47-year-old former British, Commonwealth and European heavyweight champion, was put down by a clubbing right hand to the head late in the second round.

He just beat the count and was briefly allowed to continue before the referee stepped in moments later as the former world-title challenger immediately toppled backwards towards the ropes.

It's definitely a good name on the record, there's not much point in me fighting guys I'm knocking over all the time, Joshua told Sky Sports.

Matt was game but the plan worked, I stuck to my jab. I'm learning all the time and, if I keep on progressing, I'll keep getting these first and second round knockouts.

Joshua will return to the ring on August 30 in Dublin against Ukrainian Yaroslav Zavorotnyi, who took David Price 10 rounds on his most recent outing.

Wins for Campbell, Ogogo

Another 2012 Olympic champion, Luke Campbell, returned to the ring after a five-month absence with a comprehensive points win over Welshman Craig Woodruff.

Campbell won all six rounds of the lightweight bout thanks to his superior work-rate and is now 6-0 as a professional.

I wanted the rounds, that is what it's about now, said Hull fighter Campbell.

I'm still developing and learning every time I go in that gym... That fight was a learning curve, he was a very tricky kid and didn't give away much. You've got to beat whoever's in front of you on the day - that's what I did and beat him on points. That's what I wanted.

Earlier in the evening it was the turn of a third member of Britain's Olympic team from two years ago, Anthony Ogogo, to continue his professional education.

Ogogo, a middleweight bronze medallist in London, produced a dominant fifth-round stoppage of Wayne Reed, who was also down in the opening round.

I took my time, I wanted to get a few rounds in and am glad to get the stoppage in the end, said Ogogo (7-0). I want to be moved along now, I think I'm ready to step up a little bit.

Smiths on song

Brothers Stephen and Callum Smith both claimed points victories in their home city.

Super-featherweight Stephen (20-1) was not at his best over eight rounds against Pedro Navarrete in a tune-up fight for an expected world-title challenge later in the year, while Callum (12-0) went 10 rounds for the first time to earn a unanimous decision against American-based Cape Verdian southpaw Vladine Biosse and move into the top 10 of the WBC super-middleweight rankings.

Another local fighter, Rocky Fielding, came through a tough examination to stop experienced Uruguayan Noe Gonzalez in the fifth round of their super-middleweight fight.

Fielding, who lost his Commonwealth title on the scales after failing to make the weight for his victory over Charles Adamu in March, now boasts a 19-0 record.

UFC Fight Night 45 Results: Cerrone vs. Miller

MMA Fighting has UFC Fight Night 45 results for the Cerrone vs. Miller fight card July 16, live blogs of the main card, and live UFC Fight Night 45 twitter updates.

In the main event, Donald Cerrone will square off against Jim Miller. Edson Barboza is slated to face Evan Dunham in the co-main event.

Check out the UFC Fight Night 45 results below.

Main card

Donald Cerrone def. Jim Miller via second-round KO (3:31) (live blog)

Edson Barboza def. Evan Dunham via first-round TKO (3:06) (live blog)

Rick Story def. Leonardo Mafra via submission (head/arm choke) (2nd, 2:12) (live blog)

Joe Proctor def. Justin Salas via second-round TKO (3:27) (live blog)

John Lineker def. Alptekin Ozkilic via third-round TKO (4:51) (live blog)

Lucas Martins def. Alex White via third-round KO (2:08) (live blog)


Gleison Tibau def. Pat Healy via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28 x2)

Leslie Smith def. Jessamyn Duke via TKO (strikes) at 2:24 of round 1

Aljamain Sterling def. Hugo Viana via TKO (strikes) at 3:50 of round 3

Yosdenis Cedeno def. Jerrod Sanders via TKO (injury) at 5:00 of round 1

Claudia Gadelha def. Tina Lahdemaki via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-27, 30-27)

U.S. boxing to have ‘down under’ feel in August

Australian and New Zealand boxers will figure prominently in significant televised fights on U.S. soil over a one-month period starting next week.

It all begins July 26th when Australian Daniel Geale will challenge undefeated WBA middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin at Madison Square Garden in an HBO fight.

On August 2, Australian Blake Caparello will challenge undefeated WBO light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev in Atlantic City on HBO.

On August 9, Australian Jarrod Fletcher will take on Daniel Jacobs for the vacant WBA “regular” middleweight title at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY on Showtime.

Also on August 9, New Zealand light heavyweight Robert “The Butcher” Berridge takes on Vasily Lepikhin (15-0, 8 KOs) and undefeated Kiwi heavyweight Joseph Parker (9-0, 8 KOs) faces TBA on NBCSN Fight Night from the Sands Casino Resort in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

On August 16, Australian WBC super middleweight champion Sakio Bika will defend against undefeated Anthony Dirrell in a rematch at StubHub Center near Los Angeles on Showtime.

Finally, on August 22 Australian Daniel Dawson takes on former light middleweight world champion Austin Trout at a Southern California venue to be named in ESPN2′s final Friday Bight Fights telecast of 2014.

Gleison Tibau wants to break Tito Ortiz’s UFC record by 2015

Gleison Tibau will become the lightweight with the most UFC fights Wednesday night, but that’s not the only record he wants.

Tibau, who has built a 13-8 record inside the Octagon since 2006, targets Tito Ortiz’s record of 27 bouts in the UFC, and he wants to surpass that number by the end of 2015.

This goal keeps me inspired and motivated, Tibau told I want to break all the records. I want to be the lightweight with most fights and wins in the UFC, and I want to be the fighter with most fights in the UFC. And I want to get closer to the title by doing this. That’s my war.

Tibau was forced out of the UFC Fight Night 38 card in May with an injury, but returns on Wednesday’s UFN 45 card in Atlantic City, N.J., against Pat Healy.

I’m really excited for this fight. I miss the Octagon so much, he said. My last fight was eight months ago and I had an injury that forced me to cancel a fight in Brazil, but I’m back. I want to fight two more fights this year. If everything goes right, I want to win three fights this year.

As the American Top Team lightweight turned 31 years old a week before his 22nd UFC fight, he explains how he keeps fighting three or four times a year at his age.

I started fighting when I was 15 years old, and I’m 31 now. The big secret is having a healthy life and loving what you do, he said. You need a good training and a good team to stay in this sport and compete against these young and talented kids.

Tibau was finished for the first time in five years in his last bout against Michael Johnson, and he won’t let this happen again.

I learned a lot with my last fight, the Brazilian said. I wasn’t expecting to end like that, but I fixed some holes in my striking after that fight. I want my fans to see my evolution now.

Healy enters the cage on a three-fight losing streak, and his last win was overturned to a no-contest after he tested positive for marijuana. He has his back against the wall, and that’s why Tibau thinks he’s such a dangerous match-up.

Pat Healy is a super tough guy, he said. He’s coming off three losses, but he returned to the UFC with a huge win over Jim Miller and he was a warrior in every fight he fought. That’s why he’s in the UFC. His fights are wars, so he’s a dangerous opponent.

This is the fight of his life, so I think it’s going to be a tough fight.

Pacquiao-Chris Algieri on Nov. 22

Manny Pacquiao versus Chris Algieri is a done deal.

Algieri and his co-promoters, Joe DeGuardia of Star Boxing and Banner Promotions' Artie Pelullo, met for several hours on Tuesday and hammered out their remaining issues, resulting in an agreement that will see Algieri, a junior welterweight titleholder, get the opportunity to challenge Pacquiao for his welterweight world title.

The fight will take place Nov. 22 (HBO PPV) at the Cotai Arena at the Venetian Macao in Macau, China, where Pacquiao also fought in November 2013 and easily outpointed Brandon Rios, the promoters told

I have to talk to my lawyer, Dan Pancheri, who will spit out the contracts first thing (Wednesday) morning so they can have a copy of it in the afternoon, Top Rank promoter Bob Arum said Tuesday night. We have a deal. On my end, it wasn't a hard deal at all. I came up pretty much with what they were looking for and then Joe and Artie had to sit down with Algieri and cut it up fairly amongst themselves.

That is what Algieri, DeGuardia and Pelullo did for most of the day.

We had a marathon lunch. We started out meeting in the morning, then went and had a long lunch together, came back to the office and finished it up, DeGuardia said. I called Bob to tell me we have a deal on our end. All the terms have been reached with Top Rank and we're going to paper it up.

We were able to sit down and go through everything Chris wanted to go over and put everything together. He's gonna beat Pacquiao.

Terms were not disclosed but DeGuardia said Algieri (20-0, 8 KOs) will earn a career-high payday of more than $1 million. It will be more than 10 times his previous biggest purse, which was $100,000 for his upset split decision win against Ruslan Provodnikov to win a junior welterweight world title on June 14 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.

Eleven months ago the 30-year-old Algieri was unknown and not even fighting regularly on televised cards. Now he is fighting one of the most famous fighters on the planet for a world title and a seven-figure payday.

He's very happy. He's happy for the opportunity, DeGuardia said. I'm ecstatic we've been able to give him this. It's a great feeling. You work hard you develop him up the ranks. He fought off TV for a long time, he got on TV and now this. It's really rewarding to see him get this opportunity and a payday that will change his life.

He's wants the fight and has no problem going up in weight. He wants the welterweight championship. He wants challenges. He loves the idea. He wanted to fight for another championship and he loves that he is fighting Manny Pacquiao for it. He looks as Manny as an elite of the game. He wants to climb another mountain. If he wins this fight, you have the start of another era.

Algieri, from the Long Island, New York, town of Huntington, got knocked down twice by Provodnikov in the first round and persevered through a grotesquely swollen right eye for most of the fight. He also has a background different from most boxers.

A former kickboxer, Algieri grew up in a middle class family, went to college and eventually earned a master's degree. He says he wants to go to medical school when he is done with his boxing career. He also works as a nutritionist.

I think it's an interesting fight between him and Manny, Arum said. I'm excited. This is a college-educated kid, a good boxer, the kind of kid who will draw interest other than the just the hard core boxing fan, Arum said. And the kid can also fight.

Pacquiao (56-5-2, 38 KOs), the 35-year-old Filipino icon, has won world titles in a record eight weight classes. On April 12 in Las Vegas, Pacquiao convincingly outpointed Timothy Bradley Jr. to regain the welterweight title he had lost to Bradley in June 2012 in a fight in which Bradley received a split decision in one of the most controversial calls in boxing history.

Pacquiao and Arum have had terms in place for his next fight since Pacquiao signed a two-year extension with Top Rank in May that will take him through 2016 with the company that has promoted him since 2005. Although terms for the fight with Algieri were not disclosed, Pacquiao has been making in the $20-million-plus range for recent fights.

Although the business side of Pacquiao's next fight has been set, he didn't know who he would be fighting. Arum said Pacquiao called him on Monday morning to check in on his health -- Arum is recovering from a recent knee replacement surgery -- and they also talked about Algieri since Arum was getting close to a deal.

Manny is 100 percent for it, Arum said. I told him I was coming along with it. He said Algieri seems like a nice young man and he saw his fight with Provodnikov. Manny said he thought it would be a good fight and he was OK with fighting Algieri.

Pacquiao could be motivated for the fight by wanting to seek revenge for his beloved trainer, Hall of Famer Freddie Roach, who is also Provodnikov's trainer and was on the losing end of that in that June upset.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Edson Barboza vs. Evan Dunham full fight video highlights

Round 1: Keith Peterson is the ref. They touch them up. Dunham moves in, and Barao clobbers him to the body with a big right hand. Dunham is circling. Barboza stalks in, and lands a nice right. He's sort of wading forward, but patiently. Waiting for Dunham tom come in. Sure enough, Dunham comes flying in on cue, trying to take Barboza down. They slam into fence, but Barboza is resilient, and bounces off. Dunham back to circling. Very poised stuff from Barboza, who is letting the fight unfold. Dunham is the aggressor, though, and he's trying to find that opening. He comes in with a combo, but the fleet-a-foot Barboza scoots out. Huge body shot from Barboza sends a moan through the crowd, and Dunham folds! He's on fence clutching his stomach, and Barboza pounces! A couple of quick follow-ups and it's over! Wow. One explosive kick from the Brazilian Barboza, with his right leg -- it almost looked like it grazed Dunham -- and it's over. That was unique.

UFC Fight Night 45 official results: Edson Barboza def. Evan Dunham via TKO (strikes) at 3:06 of R1

Legacy FC 30 Quick Results And Post Fight Analysis: Rough Night For Jackson’s MMA, Holm Gets Late Finish Lots Of Post-Fight Storylines

Another memorable night of fighting is in the books and the Legacy FC promotion’s debut venture into the state of New Mexico has concluded. As the dust settles there will be significant storylines that will emerge and it is likely that a lot of the local MMA landscape will have long-term ramifications stemming directly from Legacy FC 30.

Sitting several rows deep into the auditorium style venue, I had a very unique experience sitting in the stands for the event. I was able to feel the buzz in the crowd, identify high and low points, and see how full the Route 66 Casino was throughout the fight card. This April 4th event will definitely stick in the minds of the hardcore local fans as there was so much to absorb and discuss going forward.

While many are going to talk of the main event featuring Holly Holm and Juliana Werner for the Legacy FC Women’s Bantamweight Title, I believe the most significant storylines are buried within the professional main card namely the fight between FIT NHB’s Ray Borg and Jackson-Winkeljohn product Nick Urso. Many heading into the bout thought that Nick Urso was one fight out from being in the UFC and while that may have been true, very few fans outside of the FIT NHB support circle gave Ray Borg much of a chance in the bout.

National media gave attention to Urso, as he trains out of the Greg Jackson and Mike Winkeljohn gym and trains alongside such fighters as John Dodson; our site appreciated the talents of Urso as well, labeling him one of New Mexico’s premier talents and top prospects. Urso was favored on most online forums and as mentioned previously, he was thought to be one fight out from the UFC Flyweight ranks. On the flip side, FIT NHB has never received the same attention as their counterparts down the road and Borg, while many believed he was talented they still pointed to the fact he wasn’t aligned too a world-renowned gym and world-class training partners.

Ray Borg put on a performance of a lifetime last night against Nick Urso, he was able to secure several takedowns and work effectively from top position. Urso hung tough and was able to mount his own offense but even from his usual powerful top position, Borg was able to sweep Urso and reverse position. Threatening a choke in the first round, Borg was able to show his highly-hyped talent was more than just regionally impressive as he would continue to win the fight in the second round before locking in the fight ending choke.

We will cover Borg’s win more in-depth this weekend and week, first here are some post-fight thoughts coming out of Legacy FC 30.

Holly Holm put on a kick-heavy performance and dominated throughout the five round title bout. She threw just about every kind of kick a fighter could possible unleash and she beat up Werner from the head down to the legs. The kicking arsenal of Holm has to throw her name in discussion for possessing the best kicks in the history of WMMA. I don’t recall a women fighter being so successful and so versatile in a kicking attack.

It was announced today that Holm suffered a fracture to her arm, and while that may be the reason for her kicking-heavy approach to the fight, it has to be mentioned that either Werner was as tough as a fighter comes or Holm just couldn’t find the homerun shot last night. Yes Holm won by another highlight reel knockout, but it seemed as if Holm could have finished Werner at any point last night in any of the four rounds prior to the KO.

I have always received negative backlash from promoters and managements teams for airing opinions like this but I will go ahead and say what a lot of people are thinking. We want Holm fighting someone well-known in the WMMA community. I am sure it is more difficult than we think but I can’t fully believe that there wasn’t a better title fight to make for Legacy FC then a women who wasn’t in the Legacy FC promotion and fought outside of the 135-pound weight class. (Werner is a 125-pound fighter) Holm vs. Cris “Cyborg” Santos would do the trick but if Holm’s name is going to be mentioned alongside UFC Champion Ronda Rousey’s then she needs to fight competition that will speak that she is ready for that step-up.

Holm is arguably the best WMMA striker currently competing, she has tremendous footwork and ability to gauge distance. Werner hit Holm very few times in the 20+ minutes they were in the cage and Holm’s in-cage talents are tremendous. I have said this in the past, but Holm vs. Invicta FC Champion Lauren Murphy would be the best fight for Holm to show the MMA world she is ready for the Rousey’s, Sara McMann’s, and Cat Zingano’s.

The ring announcer labeling Holm as the best Woman Fighter of All-Time after her fight really left a sour taste in my mouth. She may be the best in New Mexico, but it is very disrespectful and ignorant to completely disregard the top women fighters of WMMA who are currently fighting on the sport’s biggest stage. Holm is rightfully a New Mexico sport’s icon and even arguably the best combat athlete in New Mexico but that could have been left out during the celebration.

As mentioned above, Borg took a methodical grappling approach to defeating Nick Urso. Mike Winkeljohn, the coach of Holm, Carlos Condit, and Urso spoke very strongly at the press conference announcing this event. He took the podium to say that Urso would run through Ray Borg in their fight and they knew Borg was a pretty good wrestler. Borg may have taken that sentiment to heart as he out-wrestled, grappled and out-struck the Jackson-Winkeljohn product during their bout.

Borg’s single leg is a sight to see; he gets deep on the leg and he really commits to getting the takedown. For someone who didn’t come from a successful wrestling background, Borg is a true enigma when it comes to MMA talents. Borg, noticeably the smaller fighter was able to control and impose his will on Urso when the fight hit the ground. By the time the second round rolled around, it was apparent it was only a matter of time before he caught something on the ground.

On a side note, I got a lot of negative feedback for picking Borg to defeat Urso back in November in our hypothetical Flyweight Grand Prix (Here) but I was spot-on when I said the wrestling and grappling of Borg would be the difference maker in a fight between the two. Out of respect, I refrain from picking finishes when locals fight locals but the longer the fight goes on with Borg on the mat, the more likely a submission victory will happen. Borg almost finished the fight via ground and pound and if it wasn’t for the resilience of Urso he would have.

I expect big things for Borg forthcoming, I would be surprised if the “Taz-Mexican” hasn’t already gotten some phone calls. New Mexico should be proud in that a home-grown product earned a career defining victory. The undefeated FIT NHB fighter now carries the torch for his team as being able to produce a top talent who has dominated the regional scene, defeated a top fighter from a top gym and now will be poised to start knocking on the door of the big shows.

The night wasn’t a memorable one for the Jackson-Winkeljohn gym as they went 1-3-1 on the night with the lone win being Holm’s title victory. The card was Jackson-Winkeljohn heavy and they were unable to come out with more than that lone win. No team really stood out on the night outside of FIT NHB who just had Borg in competition as Judgement MMA and the other locals had mixed results.

Adrian Cruz and Henry Briones fought to a draw which was definitely the right decision. Judgement MMA’s Adrian Cruz looked terrific in the first round, showcasing amazing scrambling abilities and an impressive display of finding a way to get top position. It seemed as if Cruz tired in the last two rounds allowing Briones to take over. Briones was deducted a point for his third offense of hitting to the back of the head and that would be the most significant point of the fight. I would be on board for a rematch between the two as I believe they both have a lot more to show if they fought again.

Bushido MMA and Nick Diaz Academy representative Martin Sano Jr. indulged in a game of “Rock’em Sock’em” with Jackson-Winkeljohn fighter Clint Roberts. The two swung with ill-will to start the fight and the high pace was continued throughout the round. In the second round, a slowed Roberts started taking big shots from Sano Jr. and it looked as if the fight was swaying towards the El Paso based fighter. Roberts would slip on a high-kick and Sano Jr. pounced to get a rear-naked choke finish.

Donald Sanchez joined the ranks of the Jackson-Winkeljohn camp after his last bout in 2013 and he put on a solid performance against Brazilian Flavio Alvaro. While he came up short on the judge’s scorecards, Sanchez showed he still has that aggressive and dominating offensive onslaught that he had during his time with King of the Cage and FIT NHB. He looked very accurate in the fight and didn’t show any signs of tiring.

Sanchez dropped Alvaro several times during their bout, once in the first round and emphatically in the third. If Sanchez had one more minute to work in that final frame, I believe he could have picked up a TKO or KO. Alvaro used his wrestling to win the fight and I am still excited to see Sanchez continue in his progression as a fighter.

Lenny Lovato Jr. came in over weight for his bout with Blackzillian Kamaru Usman  but it wasn’t until late that those effects made the difference. While Usman implored a clinch heavy attack, Lovato hung tough landing counter punches to keep Usman from really getting comfortable in his stand-up. Usman finished a slowed Lovato Jr. in the third round and if Lovato Jr. continues his MMA career, he needs to come in on weight and definitely think about taking fights at 155-pounds.

It wasn’t a good night for the Lovato cousins as Mikey Lovato lost a close decision to Belen’s Gene Perez. It was truly a style mismatch as Lovato worked his wrestling while Perez defended and let out his own offense through strikes. Perez did a great job at fighting from underneath Lovato and that may have been the difference. I scored the fight for Lovato but there were definitely some hard rounds to score.

Apparently Gene Perez verbally submitted after landing awkward off of a takedown and referee Joe Coca didn’t hear or act upon it. The Lovato camp has expressed interest in the Athletic Commission to look into it and possibly keep that from happening in the future. It was unfortunate but mistakes are often made, it just makes you feel bad for the losing fighter.

The standout fight from the amateur undercard was Judgement MMA’s Jesse Sandoval who absolutely barraged his opponent with knees and uppercuts from the clinch. It was ferocious and very mature for an amateur fighter to showcase the ability to control a fight methodically from such a close range.

The crowd buzzed for Holm as our hometown audience always does, it was extremely loud and each time Holm fights it solidifies that she is New Mexico’s most adored athlete. The crowd was very hyped up for Donald Sanchez, the Borg/Urso bout and for Adrian Cruz. Holm, Sanchez, and Cruz represent the three most popular fighters with the most supportive fan bases in the state and they were solid choices to help pack the Route 66 Casino. It wasn’t sold-out but the venue was nearly full and loud and the buzz of a Holm fight is always exciting to experience.

Legacy FC 30 was a great show full of good fights. The outcome of the events will shape the landscape, in fact change it going forward which will label the event for being monumental for the local MMA scene.

Legacy FC 30 Quick Results:

Main Event: Holly Holm defeats Julianna Werner via TKO (Head Kick And Punches) Round 5

Flavio Alvaro defeats Donald Sanchez via Judge’s Decision (Unanimous)

Ray Borg defeats Nick Urso via Submission (Rear-Naked Choke) Round 2

Adrian Cruz Draw Henry Briones (Scorecards 29-27 Cruz, 29-28 Briones, 28-28)

Martin Sano defeats Clint Roberts via Submission(Rear-Naked Choke) Round 2

Gene Perez defeats Mikey Lovato via Judge’s Decision (Unanimous)

Kamaru Usman defeats Lenny Lovato Jr. via TKO (Strikes) Round 3

Denton Comyford defeats Stacy Cly via Submission Round 1