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.