Jimi Manuwa moving toward return as ‘more complete fighter,’ explains Luke Rockhold callout

Jimi Manuwa ultimately wasn’t done when he decided to hang up his gloves.

After his fourth straight loss to Aleksandar Rakic last June, Manuwa (17-6 MMA, 6-6 UFC) announced his retirement, a decision he admits came in the moment.

“The love for fighting never left me,” Manuwa told MMA Junkie. “It was more the losses and how I felt at the time (is) why I decided to retire. The love of competition still runs deep in my blood, and I know it always will because that’s how I was made as a human being.”

It’s tough for Manuwa to gauge when exactly he’d be able to return considering the current circumstances of the global pandemic, but he’s been staying in shape.

“With this coronavirus, who knows when things are going to get back to normal,” Manuwa said. “All I’ve asked for is the gyms to be back open, so let’s see what happens. I really got back into my training, especially my boxing just before the virus hit, and it’s affected me the same as everyone else, but I’ve been getting into my home workouts and staying in shape.

“I’m training to be a better fighter and concentrate on things I should have been doing, which I wasn’t in camp. Now (that) I’ve had time to sit down and evaluate my training and the mistakes I made throughout my career, I can focus on becoming a more complete fighter.”

With news of Luke Rockhold also itching to return, Manuwa proceeded to call him out, and he explained why.

“I’d fight Rockhold in a heartbeat like I would everyone else, and I’ve shown that in my career,” Manuwa said. “Luke is a great fighter, former Strikeforce and UFC Champ. We both retired and have the itch to come back, so why not?”

Manuwa has competed against the division’s best, with notable wins over Corey Anderson, Jan Blachowicz, and Ovince Saint Preux. His last few outings haven’t gone his way, and he hopes to get the opportunity to run those losses back at some point.

“I’ve fought the who’s who in the division, yes, and there are a few losses that I know I should have not had,” Manuwa said. “But I was mentally not prepared, which is a part of my game, which I didn’t work on at all, and it’s the little things that count when you are at the top of the mountain.

“I’d like to get some of my losses back for starters, but at this moment I’m just taking it a day at a time and enjoying training, and getting better with one eye on the division.”

Angela Lee admits sharing ONE cards with brother Christian is getting ‘more and more difficult’

While their last event together was a special one, ONE Championship starlet Angela Lee admits it’s getting hard to compete on the same card as her brother Christian.

Reigning women’s atomweight champion Lee (10-2) defended her title for the fourth time at “ONE Championship: Century Part 1,” while her brother Christian, won the lightweight tournament to add the grand prix title to his ONE lightweight championship.

The two have shared cards before, but their most recent experience fighting on the same event in Tokyo took things to a different level.

“I don’t think we’re going to be able to top that event,” Lee told MMA Junkie. “It was truly a special moment, not just for Christian and myself, but for our family as well. And for everyone to be there together and witness (it), that was just so special.”

But now, with the stakes higher than ever for both siblings, Lee says sharing a card with her brother will only get more stressful.

“Honestly, it’s getting more and more difficult,” Lee said. “Christian and I, we’re used to competing with each other. We have been ever since we were small, but now that it’s on a much bigger scale, we’re both world champions and each fight will be a world championship title defense. It’s getting a little bit more difficult, more stressful.

“Our last fight in October, we really had to talk it over with our family and see if it was something that we were able to do. Luckily, with the fights in between myself and Christian, we were able to do it but it was still pretty close. But yeah, we love fighting with each other. When it’s good, when we both win, it’s great. But sometimes it’s just a bit stressful.”

UFC free fight: B.J. Penn dethrones Matt Hughes to claim welterweight title

B.J. Penn and Matt Hughes faced off for the first time in 2004 in what would be the start of a memorable rivalry.

Penn faced five-time defending welterweight champion Hughes at UFC 46 as he made his 170-pound debut, but the Hawaiian looked instantly at home as he dominated the reigning champion on the mat to secure a memorable victory.

Penn got Hughes on his back early, and “The Prodigy” never let him off the hook. He controlled him in top position for the majority of the round before eventually transitioning to his back with under a minute left and securing the rear-naked choke that forced the tap.

At the time it was a huge upset win for Penn, and it went on to set up a memorable trilogy between the pair. Hughes won the second fight two years later, finishing Penn in the third round, but it was Penn who got the last laugh, knocking Hughes out in just 21 seconds in their final meeting in 2010.

That was Penn’s last victory in the octagon, and he has recently hinted at the possibility of officially calling time on his career.

Check out Penn’s win over Hughes in the video above.

Combat Rewind, April 25: Kevin Randleman’s monster PRIDE finish of Mirko Cro Cop

There’s “Flashback Friday” and “Throwback Thursday” (and Tuesday, too, if you want). But at MMA Junkie, we figured why not expand that to every day?

“Combat Rewind” brings you some of combat sports’ best highlights from every calendar day of the year. It’s a look back at history, courtesy of the UFC Fight Pass archives, featuring stellar finishes and classic moments in MMA and beyond on their anniversaries.

Today, our highlights include several finishes from the legendary PRIDE FC, including the late Kevin Randleman’s memorable takeout of Mirko Cro Cop.

So kick back and relive the following bits of greatness in the video above:

Fight footage courtesy of UFC Fight Pass, the UFC’s official digital subscription service, which is currently offering a seven-day free trial. UFC Fight Pass gives fans access to exclusive live UFC events and fights, exclusive live MMA and combat sports events from around the world, exclusive original and behind the scenes content and unprecedented 24-7 access to the world’s biggest fight library.

eUFC 2: Live streaming simulated fights with MMA Junkie Radio on SportsCastr


For now, the MMA world is left without fights. But Saturday night, we’ve got something unique for you.

MMA Junkie Radio hosts “Gorgeous” George and “Goze” built a fight card with some intriguing matchups, and they’ll host a watch-along event on SportsCastr with commentary during the simulated fights.

The live stream goes down at 8 p.m. ET (5 p.m. PT), when your hosts will break down the simulated fights and discuss the simulated results.

The simulated card includes:

Be sure to check back and follow @MMAjunkie@MMAjunkieRadio and @SportsCastrLive on Twitter to be notified when the guys go live.

How would they do in MMA? ‘Bloodsport’ fighters, ranked

Revisiting old sporting events and movies is an act that’s quickly become popular given the current COVID-19 climate of self-imposed quarantine.

So, whether you’re bored while stuck at home or just a super nerd like myself and can’t help but further dissect things, I thought it would be fun to rank some of our favorite characters (both fictional and non) on how well they’d do competing in modern mixed martial arts.

For the first installment, we’ll cover “Bloodsport,” which is currently streaming on Netflix.

Regardless of what your level of skepticism is when it comes to both Frank Dux and Hollywood’s telling of this story, it’s hard to deny the influence that the film carries over 30 years later, as you’ll be hard-pressed to find fighters who have never seen or don’t own a copy of this cult classic (for those unaware, this movie, to martial artists, is arguably the equivalent to what “Scarface” is to rappers).

The Kumite in “Bloodsport” features a plethora of fighting styles that give off strong UFC 1 vibes, so it feels like it’s both cheating and inviting to compare this childhood favorite to my current passion.

Nevertheless, as much as I encourage you to engage your nostalgic nerve-endings for this one, I warn anyone who applies “MMA math” to this article, as the rankings here won’t necessarily reflect the outcome of the tournament that took place in the film. Again, this is about how these characters would do in today’s MMA – not against each other.

So, without further ado …

****

No. 15: Sadiq Hossein

(YouTube)

Discipline: Bullying?
Strengths: Making bad bets, being a jerk
Analysis: Don’ be surprised to see a question mark attached to many of the martial arts discipline sections in this article, as neither the movie nor the glimpses of most of the action offer much in regards to fighting style or concrete credentials.

Hossein, however, does seem to fit the classic bully archetype, for whatever that’s worth, as he earns this bottom-of-the-barrel ranking for his two meager appearances.

First, we see Hossein attempt to use his “fighting abilities” to strike leading lady Leah Ayres, which was thankfully thwarted by the fast hands of Frank Dux. As if treating women poorly (in a movie that doesn’t exactly do the ladies any justice in the first place) isn’t bad enough, Hossein then falls for a bad bet/borderline grift that shows both how slow and stupid he is.

Next we see Hossein draw Dux first in the Kumite, which pretty much ends up looking like an even shorter version of Anderson Silva’s debut in regards to accuracy. Unfortunately for Hossien, he showed zero ability to defend a basic punch or round kick before getting leveled (apparently in real life) by a Dux spinning elbow en route to trying to deliver a cheap shot.

I’m not even sure this guy picks up a win on the amateur MMA circuit, much less makes it to fight night without getting into a scuffle at the weigh-ins.

No. 14: Gustafson

(YouTube)

Discipline: Board breaking?
Strengths: Stylin’ and profilin’
Analysis: I don’t think “board breaking” is even a style, but wood is pretty much the only thing we see Gustafson hit this whole movie.

Sure, he gets taken out by none other than Chong Li, but how on earth did Gustafson even make it to the third day of the Kumite in the first place?

I mean, the dude is basically fighting with pants on that even MC Hammer would think are too big, and that’s not even mentioning the fact that he can be seen shadow boxing (poorly) in the background of the “Dim Mak” scene wearing a sweater tied around his neck like a 90s preppie.

Regardless of what iteration of our sport you insert Gustafson into, it’s hard to see him being anything more than a sub .500 regional fighter who is used to putting over up-and-coming prospects.

Ovince Saint Preux moves to heavyweight, meets Ben Rothwell at UFC’s May 13 event

Ovince Saint Preux will dabble at heavyweight for his next fight.

Saint Preux, who has the second-most light heavyweight fights in UFC history with 20, will jump up a weight class to fight Ben Rothwell on the UFC’s May 13 event.

MMA Junkie verified the matchup between Saint Preux (24-13 MMA, 12-8 UFC) and Rothwell (37-12 MMA, 7-6 UFC) with a person close to the situation following an initial report from ESPN. The person requested anonymity because the UFC has yet to make an official announcement.

The May 13 card (which does not have an official name) will take place at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Fla. It would be the UFC’s second event back after suspending all cards to the coronavirus pandemic, with UFC 249 on May 9 being the first.

Saint Preux, 37, is coming off a second-round submission of Michal Oleksiejczuk at UFC on ESPN+ 18 in September. He finished the fight using his patented Von Flue choke, the fourth time he’s done so in UFC competition.

Now “OSP” will see if those skills translate against bigger opponents when he takes on Rothwell, 38, who in December snapped a three-fight losing skid with a TKO of Stefan Struve at UFC on ESPN 7.

The latest lineup for the UFC’s May 13 event includes:

  • Anthony Smith vs. Glover Teixeira
  • Ben Rothwell vs. Ovince Saint Preux

Twitter Mailbag: Why rush Tony Ferguson at UFC 249, and how does Conor McGregor fit in?

Questions on your mind about recent happenings in MMA or the sport in general? MMA Junkie’s Twitter Mailbag is here – and this week it’s @Farah_Hannoun to answer:

  • What’s the point of the UFC rushing Tony Ferguson considering fans have been waiting for him to fight Khabib Nurmagomedov for half a decade now?
  • Do you think Georges St-Pierre vs. Khabib will ever happen, and what advantages does each fighter have over the other?
  • Who are the top five UFC fighters to never win a championship belt?
  • If Justin Gaethje beats Ferguson to claim the interim title at UFC 249, is it a guarantee he’d unify vs. Khabib? OR Could Conor McGregor potentially be next in that scenario?

Those are answered in the video above.

To ask a question of your own, follow @MMAjunkie on Twitter and let us know.

Joe Rogan slated to be part of UFC 249 broadcast team

After all the hoopla, Joe Rogan is indeed planned to be on commentary for UFC 249.

As the coronavirus pandemic became a bigger issue in the U.S., Rogan, the longtime UFC color commentator, expressed concern about calling fights in a time with so much uncertainty. He said he wasn’t going to do it, but UFC president Dana White apparently was urging him to do so when the promotion had plans to host a fight on April 18.

The event ultimately was postponed, and Rogan was saved from having to make a choice. But now UFC 249 is rescheduled for May 9 at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Fla., and as of now, Rogan is expected to be cageside.

MMA Junkie verified with a person close to the situation that current plans call for Rogan to share commentary with lead play-by-play man Jon Anik, as well as former UFC heavyweight and light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier.

White also said as much on a recent Instagram Live with ESPN.

“Rogan will be there,” White said. “He’ll be there.”

In addition to the commentary team, Bruce Buffer is penciled in to work cage announcer duties, while Megan Olivi will serve as the backstage and roving reporter.

It’s possible circumstances could force a change to the UFC 249 broadcast team before fight night arrives, but as of now, the most familiar faces are on the docket.

UFC files for trademarks around Dana White’s planned ‘Fight Island’

The UFC has filed 22 trademarks for the terms “Fight Island” and “UFC Fight Island.”

According to trademark attorney Josh Gerben, the promotion filed 11 trademarks for the term “Fight Island” and 11 for the term “UFC Fight Island,” with each application filed for specific goods and services, including gear, equipment and even jewelry.

After intervention from top-level executives at UFC broadcast partner ESPN and its parent company, Disney, the UFC was forced to pull the plug on UFC 249, which had been planned for Saturday. UFC president Dana White now says the promotion’s next planned event will take place on May 9.

White revealed the promotion’s plans to go ahead with “Fight Island” during the global coronavirus pandemic – a location he said should be ready within the next month. He plans on shipping fighters to the undisclosed location to train and host future events there.

Although he also mentioned plans of hosting events at the Apex Center at UFC headquarters in Las Vegas, White says the May 9 event won’t take place on either “Fight Island” or at the Apex. The location has not been announced.

Sean O’Malley respects ‘cringey dude’ Henry Cejudo’s skills, but says his antics are ‘hard to watch’

Sean O’Malley is a big fan of Henry Cejudo’s fighting skills. But “The King of Cringe’s” persona away from the cage? Not so much.

A rising star in the bantamweight division, undefeated O’Malley (11-0 MMA, 3-0 UFC) has become one of the most popular fighters on the roster after just three UFC fights.

Although he’s in no hurry to get fast-tracked, O’Malley’s ever-growing popularity could potentially lead to a title shot earlier than expected if he continues the sort of outstanding form we’ve seen from him so far, including in his most recent outing, when he dispatched Jose Quinonez at UFC 248.

Meanwhile, reigning UFC bantamweight champion Cejudo has taken a specific route to notoriety, dubbing himself the “King of Cringe,” flashing his gold, using props and creating call-out videos. But while O’Malley certainly respects Cejudo’s fighting credentials, he admitted he’s not a huge fan of the way the current champ has chosen to promote himself.

“I wouldn’t consider that working for him,” O’Malley told MMA Junkie. “I think he’s definitely trying, but he’s just trying too hard and it’s hard to watch. And I guess that’s the way they’re going for – the cringe – but I think he could have taken that a different route. I don’t know. I think as a champ, he’s beat some really, really good dudes. Yeah, he’s really good – but he’s just a cringey dude.”

Cejudo was scheduled to face Jose Aldo at UFC 250, but the travel ban restrictions in Brazil due to the COVID-19 pandemic forced Aldo out. Now Cejudo is expected to face another fighter coming off a loss – former champion Dominick Cruz – on May 9.

O’Malley admits it’s a little strange to see Aldo and Cruz getting title opportunities, especially when there is no shortage of in-form contenders vying for a shot. But he also understands where the promotion is coming from by booking notable former champs against the reigning belt-holder.

“Yeah, it’s super weird,” O’Malley said. “That Jose Aldo fight, I definitely thought he won against Marlon (Moraes). … Dana’s like, ‘No, I thought he won that fight, I’ll give him a title shot.’ So it’s pretty cool Dana has that power and it’s his company, (but) it’s pretty weird coming off a loss.

“I mean, Cruz deserves it in a sense – all the injuries he’s had to deal with and how his career went, so I don’t know. I wouldn’t be upset with him getting it but there’s also guys like (Cory) Sandhagen and (Aljamain Sterling) that probably deserve it more, coming off wins. Yeah, that’s a tough one.”

Michael Bisping thinks Israel Adesanya could have the advantage on the feet against Jon Jones

Michael Bisping likes Israel Adesanya’s chances against Jon Jones.

UFC champions Adesanya and Jones continue to build up a potential fight through their continuous back-and-forth on social media.

Though the two compete in different weight classes, Adesanya has expressed interest in moving all the way up to heavyweight for a potential fight with Jones, but not until he’s done clearing out the 185-pound division.

And former UFC middleweight champion Bisping thinks Adesanya would match up well against Jones, considering how Jones’ past few outings have gone.

“On the feet, they’d match up pretty well,” Bisping told Submission Radio. “I can’t see why Israel wouldn’t have at least an equal footing or potentially an advantage. We saw in (Jones’) last few fights he’s not invincible, he’s not superhuman – he is beatable. Everybody’s beatable, trust me. And Jon, the longer he does it, the longer he goes, it’s kind of a game of odds. At some point, someone’s going to beat him, and it seems to be happening more and more. I mean, the fight against Dominick Reyes – and I’m not trying to dump on Jon Jones – but I feel that Reyes won that fight.

“The one before, Thiago Santos, that was a close fight, and Thiago Santos had a bloody blown ACL from Round 1. The fight before that, Anthony Smith. So, you know, Jon isn’t unbeatable, and Adesanya is also undefeated. They’re both pretty undefeated in my eyes. It’s a great fight. I’d love to see it one day, but I’m not sure I would ever see Israel at heavyweight. That’s why I kind of laughed there, ’cause he’s certainly very tall. But he’s a light middleweight at the end of the day. So at heavyweight, he’s gonna have a big disadvantage there.”

Famous for his trash talk, Bisping can certainly appreciate how Adesanya continues to spark up the beef with Jones.

However, realistically speaking, Bisping doesn’t think the fight actually happens.

“I like what he’s doing with Jon Jones – I like what he’s doing,” Bisping said. “I don’t know if that fight will ever happen. It probably won’t. Not anytime soon. I think Jon’s talking about going up to heavyweight, so obviously that would put a barrier between them. But I like it. I certainly liked seeing Israel talk (expletive) about Jon Jones. It is funny. I just sit there in the morning eating my Corn Flakes and get a little chuckle out of it. So, yeah – he’s great, he’s great. I’m a big fan.

“He’s great – undefeated, which is very marketable. He looks good, he talks good, he fights good. The guy’s a superstar. He’s got all the qualities that the UFC are looking for in a superstar, and he fights great.”

Combat Rewind, April 17: Start of Pat Curran vs. Daniel Straus, end of Strikeforce on CBS

There’s “Flashback Friday” and “Throwback Thursday” (and Tuesday, too, if you want). But at MMA Junkie, we figured why not expand that to every day?

“Combat Rewind” brings you some of combat sports’ best highlights from every calendar day of the year. It’s a look back at history, courtesy of the UFC Fight Pass archives, featuring stellar finishes and classic moments in MMA and beyond on their anniversaries.

Today’s highlight include the launch of a career trilogy between Pat Curran and Daniel Straus four years before they would resume the series in the Bellator cage, as well as the infamous “Strikeforce: Nashville” brawl that signaled the end of Striekforce’s run on network television.

So kick back and relive the following bits of greatness in the video above:

Fight footage courtesy of UFC Fight Pass, the UFC’s official digital subscription service, which is currently offering a seven-day free trial. UFC Fight Pass gives fans access to exclusive live UFC events and fights, exclusive live MMA and combat sports events from around the world, exclusive original and behind the scenes content and unprecedented 24-7 access to the world’s biggest fight library.

The MMA Road Show with John Morgan, No. 264 – Las Vegas – Oscar Willis, Ali Abdelaziz

Episode No. 264 of “The MMA Road Show with John Morgan” podcast is now available for streaming and download.

MMA Junkie lead staff reporter John Morgan hosts the show while traveling the world to cover the sport.

The Mac Life’s Oscar Willis joins John Morgan and Cold Coffee to talk about the latest headlines in the sport. Morgan shares an extended interview with Dominance MMA CEO Ali Abdelaziz, as well as featuring MMA Junkie staff members’ work from the week, including Farah Hannoun, Nolan King and Danny Segura.

Check it out on iTunes or at themmaroadshow.com. You can also subscribe via RSS.

Today in MMA history: Chuck Liddell knocks out Randy Couture, earns first UFC title

Fifteen years ago today, Chuck Liddell became a UFC champion.

On April 16, 2005, Liddell won the UFC light heavyweight championship for the first time. At MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Liddell headlined UFC 52 against then-titleholder Randy Couture. The two fighters had just served as coaches on Season 1 of “The Ultimate Fighter.”

Both men found success early, with Couture clipping some particularly solid shots on Liddell’s temple. The action was stopped, but only briefly, when Liddell’s thumb caught Couture in the eye. The fight resumed after the cage-side physician gave his stamp of approval.

Upon time-in, Liddell and Couture wildly exchanged. Liddell cranked Couture with a brutal straight right hand that sent the champion to the mat. From there, Liddell went for the kill. “The Iceman” pounced on his downed opponent and removed whatever consciousness was left inside Couture.

Not only did Liddell clinch the title at UFC 52, he avenged a loss suffered to Couture at UFC 43 in June 2003. In the first meeting, Couture finished Liddell with punches in Round 3.

The two completed the trilogy 10 months later at UFC 57 in February 2006. That night, it was Liddell topping Couture in the best-of-three series, knocking out “The Natural” in Round 2.

In the video above, relive Liddell’s title-earning knockout of Couture at UFC 52.

PFL champion Ray Cooper III’s 2020 hit list includes Magomed Magomedkerimov, Rory MacDonald

Ray Cooper III has his eyes on multiple matchups for the upcoming PFL season.

Cooper (20-7-1 MMA, 7-2-1 PFL) won the 2019 welterweight season, capturing the title and $1 million dollars.

Heading into the semifinals, Cooper was matched up with Magomed Magomedkerimov, who beat him in the 2018 finals, but an injury forced Magomedkerimov out, and Cooper never got his shot at redemption.

Instead, he faced Chris Curtis, whom he knocked out, leading to a showdown in the final with David Michaud. Cooper also took out Michaud in Round 2, and was crowned the season’s champion.

Cooper had contemplated a move up to middleweight last season, but is ultimately glad that he stuck around at 170 pounds. Though he missed out on facing Magomedkerimov in the semi-finals, he hopes to get the opportunity to run things back this season.

“It didn’t come through and I still had a bone to pick with Magomed, but obviously I didn’t get to get that matchup,” Cooper told MMA Junkie. “I’m glad I stayed at 170 and finished what I started in 2018.”

Another name Cooper is targeting is the newly signed Rory MacDonald, and he has a specific reason for wanting to fight him.

“That’s my main concern right now with Rory MacDonald entering the season, but whoever they put in front of me, I’m going to go out there in the same way I go out there and take them out. But with Rory, it’s kind of personal. He took out B.J. Penn, and I’m going to get him back for that.”

With the PFL currently on hold due to the coronavirus outbreak, the promotion is yet to determine a date for the next event.

Coming off a torn ACL, Chris Gutierrez eyes June UFC return against Andre Ewell

Chris Gutierrez hasn’t competed since August 2019.

That night, he defeated Gil de Freitas by split decision. By doing so, Gutierrez parlayed his result into a two-fight UFC winning streak. But while he won the fight, he did not walk away unscathed.

According to Gutierrez, he suffered a knee injury in the third round. It didn’t hurt too badly at first because of the adrenaline, but as time progressed, that changed.

“I completely tore my ACL,” Gutierrez told MMA Junkie. “It was in the fight, in the last round. I felt it kind of give. During the fight, you don’t really feel it because your adrenaline is going. Afterward, there’s the pain. I thought maybe I tweaked it. I didn’t really think anything bad about it. A couple days later, I was like, ‘Man, this is not good.’

“I waited a little bit longer. Then, I had to go get it checked out. Then, the worst news ever. Especially as an athlete – to be told your tore your ACL or anything? Especially your legs. You’re on them everyday to get around. When one of them is gone, it’s like life takes a pause there, as well.”

Gutierrez had ACL surgery in September. Weeks prior to the coronavirus pandemic causing UFC postponements, Gutierrez finally received clearance to resume competition. Despite the UFC’s current hiatus, Gutierrez is still preparing for a June return to action.

“I got cleared in February and was going to take a fight in June,” Gutierrez said. “That’s when my comeback was. It was supposed to be in June. Hopefully people can get on board with finding a damn cure for this damn coronavirus thing, so life can resume back to normal. I don’t like this.”

When he steps into the cage for his next fight, Gutierrez hopes a particular opponent is standing across from him: Andre Ewell. Gutierrez (14-3-1 MMA, 2-1 UFC) said he has the utmost respect for Ewell (16-6 MMA, 3-2 UFC) and actually sees similarities between them, including outside of the cage, as they both have gone through recent custody battles for their children.

“No disrespect to him,” Gutierrez said. “It’s not like any bad blood. I heard some people saying that we must dislike each other. No, it’s actually the complete opposite. Yeah, he fought one of my teammates. I thought Jonathan Martinez beat him. It is what it is. I want it because stylistically it’s a great fight. The fans get a good show. We get to go out there and perform.

“Most importantly, I respect him as an individual. We’re both going through the same thing as fathers. He’s kept away from his son. I’m kept away from my son. I have nothing but respect for him. He goes out there and puts on a show. I’m going to do the same thing.”

Check out MMA Junkie’s full interview with UFC bantamweight Chris Gutierrez in the video below.

MMA Junkie Radio weekly live stream on SportsCastr


MMA Junkie Radio hosts “Gorgeous” George and “Goze” will go live Wednesday at noon ET with streaming commentary and analysis on the latest news and developments via SportsCastr, where you can chat with the guys and ask questions.

They’ll discuss the latest on the UFC’s planned May 9 return, this past week’s cancellation of UFC 249, Ronda Rousey’s recent meltdown, the Jon Jones-Israel Adesanya beef and more.

Be sure to check back and follow @MMAjunkie@MMAjunkieRadio and @SportsCastrLive on Twitter to be notified when the guys go live.

Josh Emmett looking to book new UFC contract, clears air on Edson Barboza fight rumors

Josh Emmett is not one to turn down opponents, but he was surprised to see his next fight announced without even knowing about it.

It was posted on various media outlets that Emmett (15-2 MMA, 6-2 UFC) would face Edson Barboza at UFC Oklahoma City on May 2, which was news to Emmett.

Emmett told MMA Junkie that while the name had been discussed, there was certainly no deal in place to face Barboza.

“When my wife and I were in Vietnam, my manager asked me, just because the UFC threw out a name, and they’re like, ‘Hey, they’re wondering if you wanted to fight Edson Barboza April 25 in Nebraska,’” Emmett said. “And at this time, I was on vacation. I was injured – that’s why I was out there – and I was thinking that was just too soon. I wasn’t even coming back to the States for another week or two.

“I actually just found out online. I was on the phone with my manager when this was put out there and I was asking him about possible dates, possible opponents, and then my phone was blowing up and I opened Instagram. … I was like, ‘Oh, they announced this fight,’ They never even asked me.”

Emmett was scheduled to face Arnold Allen at UFC on ESPN+ 24 in January, but was forced out due to an undisclosed injury. He was targeting a return starting mid-May through July, but was initially offered the Barboza fight too early. Emmett said that while it was never going to happen on May 2, he is open to facing Barboza in the future.

“I’m really not opposed to the fight, but they have to ask me,” Emmett said. “I never got the call. I never asked to fight on that date or against him there, and I just saw people (saying), ‘Oh, I’m going to buy tickets to this,’ and I felt bad because I don’t even have a bout agreement. They haven’t even asked me to fight in Oklahoma, and supposedly it was going down.

“I also have one fight left on my contract, so the whole thing with that is, I was saying I’ll fight anybody – it just has to make sense because from a business standpoint and what I’m trying to accomplish. If Barboza were to come down to featherweight, it’s high risk for not much of a reward. He comes down – say he beats me. Then he takes my spot, and they probably push him. For me – I win, I stay where I’m at.”

Since dropping down to featherweight, Emmett has won four of five and is coming off back-to-back finishes of Michael Johnson and Mirsad Bektic. He’s hoping to secure a fight against a top-ranked opponent next, but so far hasn’t been offered the names he’s looking for.

Barboza, on the other hand, has lost four of his past five. So Emmett hopes that with one fight left on his contract the UFC would sweeten the pot if he’s offered the Barboza fight again.

“I’m not opposed to it,” Emmett said. “It has to make sense, and in that case (Barboza), whether there’s something in there, I beat him, then I get this. Or financially, if it’ll set me up for later on, then of course – yeah, I’m open to it. But it has to make sense. He’s a threat. He’s a dangerous fighter, but it seems like I’m fighting all these people behind me, or I’m always the person, when someone is coming down from ’55, I’m the one to stay there when I do want to move forward.”

Josh Parisian wants to welcome Juan Adams to ARES FC: ‘I don’t care for him that much’

Josh Parisian sees Juan Adams as a good opportunity to prove he belongs in the big leagues.

Parisan (12-3 MMA) had numerous opportunities that could have led to the UFC, but they never materialized. He scored a spinning backfist knockout over Greg Rebello at Dana White’s Contender Series in 2018, but wasn’t awarded a contract.

He then took part in Season 28 of “The Ultimate Fighter,” but lost his first fight to Michel Batista. Since then, Parisian has gone 5-1, with all five wins coming by finish.

He signed with ARES and scored a second-round finish over Matunga Djikasa in his promotional debut this past December.

Parisian has been on a mission to get a call from the UFC, and he thinks that a fight with the recently signed Adams may help him get one step closer to achieving that.

“At this point, I want the hardest fights that I can get, that will get me where I want to go,” Parisian told MMA Junkie. “I’ve been fighting guys with winning records. My last fight wasn’t (an opponent with) a winning record, but I had a fight lined up with a dude with a good record. At this point, maybe just because I’m having a daughter, I’m like, ‘I’ve got to make something happen.’ So if I’m going to the UFC, who do you want me to fight? Who are you looking to sign right now, and I will beat his ass so you can see that I’m there. I’m ready.

“I did see that Juan Adams was cut from the UFC, and I don’t care for him that much simply because when I was going on the show, he was running his mouth on Twitter. When I was on the show, we got to watch the Contenders (Series), and I didn’t like his arrogance. Although he’s been served some humble pie in the UFC, I would like that fight with ARES.”

The coronavirus outbreak has postponed ARES FC 2, which is now projected to take place in October, giving matchmakers plenty of time to potentially match these two heavyweights up.

With UFC schedule on hold, freelance production crew hoping for financial support

While many UFC fighters currently don’t know when they’ll get a chance to earn their next paychecks, they aren’t the only ones impacted by the promotion’s indefinite hiatus.

Several dozen independent contractors who assist in producing the company’s live events also are wondering if they’ll receive any compensation for dates that already have been postponed or canceled.

MMA Junkie heard from two such workers who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they feared backlash from ConCom, the production company that hires the freelance workers to help produce UFC events. Each expressed frustration that they have been left in the dark since the UFC’s March 14 event in Brazil while the organization tries to map out its return to live action.

“In these uncertain times, the UFC television production crew is hoping that the UFC and ConCom would provide assistance for the crew that performs for them on a weekly basis,” one worker wrote in a statement given to MMA Junkie. “The crew members leave their families, travel across the world and work long hours because they love what they do. They understand that the show is bigger than any one of them, and they were willing to put themselves in harm’s way in order to allow Dana White and the UFC to continue on with their shows during the coronavirus pandemic.”

The workers in question include the crew responsible for the in-house audio and video elements visible to attending fans, as well as workers on the broadcast production side.

ConCom officials, who are directly responsible for the hiring and payment of the independent contractors, did not respond to a request for comment from MMA Junkie.

Meanwhile, UFC officials have remained adamant that the promotion eventually will hold all 42 events planned for the 2020 calendar year, despite the massive impact the COVID-19 outbreak continues to have on sports around the globe. In terms of the independent contractors who have been left without income for the past month, UFC executives said a determination for any financial assistance has not yet been determined.

“UFC is still reviewing and determining compensation in light of this very fluid situation,” promotion officials wrote in a statement to MMA Junkie.

The coronavirus pandemic first impacted the UFC schedule at its March 14 card in Brasilia, which was held behind closed doors due to a government ban on large gatherings in the Brazilian capital. Several of the freelance workers then were slated to travel to London for the following week’s UFC on ESPN+ 29 card and say they were asked if they were willing to make the trip.

“I am unaware of anyone from the UFC production crew not agreeing to go to London,” one worker stated. “For the good of the show and because we have such a strong and loyal crew, we were willing to potentially put ourselves and our families at risk of contracting the virus and maybe even the possibility of being stuck or quarantined in a foreign country just so the show could go on.”

When UFC officials attempted to relocate that event to the U.S., the freelance workers again expressed their willingness to work at a new location. But five days before the card, UFC officials announced the London event would be postponed, and the workers were told they would be paid for two-and-a-half days, despite most of the crew being contracted for six days.

UFC officials also announced additional domestic cards scheduled for subsequent weeks in Ohio and Oregon would be postponed, and the workers say they have yet to hear anything about potential compensation for those dates.

The crew hoped to return to work at this week’s UFC 249 event, but with the indefinite postponement of the promotion’s schedule, there has been a very significant impact on the income of the freelance workers, despite the fact that full-time employees of the UFC and ConCom thus far continue to be paid during the turbulent period.

“The television freelancers that work for the UFC are paid by the event, so if there are no shows and they don’t work, they don’t get paid,” one worker stated. “We had been confirmed on those UFC shows for months and had passed up work on other shows that we cannot get back now.

“As freelance workers, we are not provided with any benefits from the UFC or ConCom. All medical coverage is paid for out of our own pockets. Many of us had passed up on other work on other sporting events in order to work the UFC events. And now, many of those organizations are compensating the freelance workers that they had to cancel because of the coronavirus situation, but the UFC production crew is not being compensated.”

UFC officials on Monday announced a targeted May 9 return to live action, though the possibility of hosting an event without government intervention is anything but certain. In the meantime, the independent contractors left in waiting are hoping ConCom and the UFC can commit resources to their cause.

While other sports leagues and major franchises have announced initiatives to help stadium workers and event staff to stabilize their incomes as the pandemic continues to threaten the cancellation of entire seasons, as well as a massive number of one-off events, the freelance workers involved in UFC production say they feel “forgotten.”

“The UFC production team is a very dedicated, loyal and hardworking crew,” one worker stated. “We have always given our best for the UFC product and the shows that they produce for and with them for the past 25-plus years. Now, the UFC production crew needs the UFC to be loyal to us – to step up, to do the right thing, and to support the people who have always supported them.”

Combat Rewind, April 15: Probably don’t drop your hands when standing in front of Jack Hermansson

There’s “Flashback Friday” and “Throwback Thursday” (and Tuesday, too, if you want). But at MMA Junkie, we figured why not expand that to every day?

“Combat Rewind” brings you some of combat sports’ best highlights from every calendar day of the year. It’s a look back at history, courtesy of the UFC Fight Pass archives, featuring stellar finishes and classic moments in MMA and beyond on their anniversaries.

Today’s highlight include a vicious Jack Hermansson knockout prior to his UFC run, as well as some true vintage violence from 20 years ago with Rumina Sato picking up a quick win over Yves Edwards, and Matt Hughes picking up the first of five wins he would pick up in a 10-week stretch in 2000.

So kick back and relive the following bits of greatness in the video above:

Fight footage courtesy of UFC Fight Pass, the UFC’s official digital subscription service, which is currently offering a seven-day free trial. UFC Fight Pass gives fans access to exclusive live UFC events and fights, exclusive live MMA and combat sports events from around the world, exclusive original and behind the scenes content and unprecedented 24-7 access to the world’s biggest fight library.

Dana White: UFC Apex to host live events ‘starting next month and for the foreseeable future’

The UFC’s new multi-million dollar production facility will soon serve as the company’s primary location for live events.

Earlier today, UFC president Dana White today told ESPN the company is targeting a return to hosting live events on May 9. While he has declined to reveal a location for that fight card, the UFC boss subsequently told Variety that the UFC Apex, located adjacent to UFC headquarters in Las Vegas, will soon be hosting fight cards.

“We built the Apex facility next door just in time to save the day from this pandemic,” White told Variety.com via email. “Live fights will be produced out of there starting next month and for the foreseeable future.”

Opened in 2019, the UFC Apex served as the host of the third season of Dana White’s Contender Series, which streamed live on ESPN+.

UFC officials have been forced to seek out alternative locations for the company’s live events due to constantly changing health recommendations and safety guidelines issued by various state and federal governments during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The state of Nevada is currently under a stay-at-home order that lasts until April 30, but Variety reports UFC officials are expecting those orders to be relaxed in May. As White previously announced, though, live crowds will not be present for any live events in the coming months – and perhaps longer.

The utilization of the UFC Apex will apparently not slow the company’s pursuit of a location in international waters that has colloquially been dubbed “Fight Island.” White told Yahoo! Sports the facility remains in development and should also be open sometime in May.

That location would allow the company to host fights between fighters around the globe who may encounter trouble getting into the U.S. while travel restrictions remain in place.

“We’re going to run through the American fighters pretty quickly, so we have to get that up and ready to roll,” White told Yahoo! Sports’ Kevin Iole.

The UFC’s most recent live event took place in Brazil on March 14. Subsequent events planned for London, Ohio and Oregon were postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, and the promotion initially hoped to return to action at UFC 249, which was to take place this Saturday. Initially planned for New York, UFC officials tried to relocate the card to tribal land in California but ultimately scrapped the card at the request of their broadcast partners at ESPN and Disney.

UFC officials previously announced plans to host the Ohio and Oregon cards at the UFC Apex, but Nevada State Athletic Commission officials in March put a moratorium on fight cards in the Silver State. The commission has yet to meet again since holding an emergency session to issue the temporary order.

White has announced a star-studded lineup is in the works for May 9. While all indications point to Florida as a potential location for the card, the UFC boss has declined to commit to a host venue for the time being.

Movlid Khaybulaev featured in new episode of PFL’s ‘Inside the Knockout’ series

Mixed martial arts action is on hiatus during the coronavirus pandemic, but the PFL is doing its best to fill the void.

“Inside the Knockout” is a weekly show that tells the story of the best knockouts from the 2018 and 2019 PFL seasons with new camera angles and broadcast audio. The series second episode – which streams live Wednesday morning at 11 a.m. ET on the promotion’s YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram channels – will feature 2019 featherweight quarterfinalist Movlid Khaybulaev and his stunning 10-second knockout of UFC and LFA veteran Damon Jackson at PFL 2019, Week 2.

New episodes of “Inside the Knockout” will air every Wednesday. You can watch the tease to Khaybulaev’s episode in the video above.

Kamaru Usman: Jorge Masvidal 100 percent next for him – maybe on UFC’s ‘Fight Island’

Despite the fight falling through again, Kamaru Usman assures people that Jorge Masvidal is next for him.

Masvidal (35-13 MMA, 12-6 UFC) revealed there was a deal on the table for the two to fight at UFC 249, but he didn’t like the offer for the short-notice fight.

After all scheduled UFC events were suspended indefinitely due to the coronavirus outbreak, the fight still has no set date or location.

But Usman (16-1 MMA, 11-0 UFC) is confident the fight will happen, which he says is personal.

“We are at 100 percent,” Usman told ESPN. “This is the guy. I’ve said it over and over again: Anything you say about me, to me, can and will be used against you, and he has just stepped over that line to where it’s 100 percent. That’s the fight that I want. That’s the fight that makes sense. That is the next victim, and look at what they just pulled. I mean, look at the situation they just pulled. You ran your mouth. You said you wanted to fight. All right. Let’s do it.

“Then all of a sudden, oh, it wasn’t working out for you. It wasn’t working out for you, so you pulled out of the fight. So it sucks, but it is what it is. He for sure has won a date with me. He’s got a golden ticket with his name on it. He’s won a date. That’s the next guy that I’m going to step inside that octagon and put my hands on.”

With UFC president Dana White revealing that “Fight Island” should be ready by May, Usman is certainly willing to face Masvidal there.

“I want to see how he’s going to react, stepping into the cage with me when there’s no fans around,” Usman said. “There’s no one to scream, no one to cheer for him – just him getting pummeled, taken down, dropped on his neck, dropped on his head. I might suplex him a couple times. I mean, Rustam Khabilov did all kinds of things to him, so I might just reenact that.

“Absolutely, that ‘Fight Island’ sounds good. It doesn’t matter if there’s people there, if nobody’s there – it doesn’t matter. I get the same paycheck.”