UFC 178: Conor McGregor’s Irish invasion; ‘Stoolgate’ as Tim Kennedy confronts Yoel Romero; Cruz and Zingano back?

  Who can doubt Conor McGregor when he delivered the walk after the talk in Las Vegas on Saturday night. It was mesmerising. Dustin Poirier looked like he’d been caught up in a whirlwind, and the Irishman fought like a dervish, his predictive words of ‘first round KO’ underlined by a major statement. McGregor admitted [...]

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Frank Mir wants third Brock Lesnar Fight in UFC

Former UFC heavyweight champion Frank Mir (16-9) has been ambivalent about whether or not he’d return to MMA competition after a long career and losing four straight. In a recent interview, however, Mir said he wants to fight again, if he can get a rubber match with fellow former champ, the retired Brock Lesnar (5-3).

“If Lesnar comes back, I think it will be good for MMA,” Mir told Globo.

“He is still popular, people still know who he is and this brings more attention. He and I have a win each in the times we face. A new fight between us would be very welcome. I’d love to welcome him in the UFC.”

Lesnar has been retired from MMA competition for years, and is back in professional wrestling. There have been rumors floating that Lesnar’s WWE contract may be running out soon, and that the former NCAA wrestling national champion might be interested in returning to fighting.

Mir submitted Lesnar in the wrestler’s UFC debut back in 2008. The following year, however, Lesnar brutalized Mir and won via TKO.

Lesnar ended his MMA career with two straight losses, and retired in late 2011. Mir has not fought since Feb., when he lost his fourth straight bout, to Alistair Overeem. 

Are you interested in a third fight between Mir and Lesnar? Let us know in the comments section.

Follow Elias on Twitter @EliasCepeda & @YahooCagewriter

 

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Jose Aldo says UFC fighters deserve better pay

UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo’s confidence seems to extend outside of the Octagon, and into the business world of MMA. “Scarface” seems just as quick with a criticism of UFC brass (well, at least since president Dana White began to inexplicably bash his dominant and entertaining champ) as he is with one of his nasty leg kicks.

With a title defense this Saturday in his home of Brazil against Chad Mendes (14-1), Aldo recently once more spoke up about what he views as he and other UFC fighters’ relatively meager pay to take part in one of the world’s most extreme sports. When Brazilian outlet Globo asked Aldo (24-1) – by far, the UFC’s longest reigning champion – in a recent interview if he deserved higher pay from the UFC, he said, ‘yes,’ but also that he isn’t the only one.

“Not only me, but also other athletes deserve it,” he said.

“We [fighters] give a lot to the company, and I think it is not as valued as it should… Nowadays the company is very large and athletes are very devalued.”

Aldo says that, while the UFC pays fighters well when things are going well, the promotion is fickle and not particularly loyal once things go a bit rougher. “If you’re fighting well, you are valued by the company,” he explained.

“But you’re fired if you lose three straight fights.” 

Fighting for purses makes for an unpredictable, and difficult-to-budget, life. Aldo says that fighters like himself have no problem laying it on the line in the sport they love, but he wishes that the labor got a bigger share of the UFC’s all-time high riches.

“We do not earn a monthly salary, so we have to keep fighting,” Aldo said.

“We try to always give the maximum in training to get in there and fight, thus raising millions for the company. We also want to have part of these millions.”

Do you think that exciting, dominant UFC champs like Aldo should get a higher percentage of the UFC’s revenue? Or, do you think the increasing wages, over the years, are about right, given how new the UFC is, and all their expenses?

Let us know in the comments section.

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UFC on FOX 5 includes prelims on FX and Facebook, Schaub-Johnson in featured bout

In addition to a stacked main card, next week’s UFC on FOX 5 event includes a super-sized preliminary-card lineup with nine fights.

Unlike past UFC on FOX events, the featured prelims air on FX instead of FUEL TV.

In the main FX bout, which follows additional prelims on Facebook, heavyweights Brendan Schaub and Lavar Johnson clash at Seattle’s KeyArena.

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Ryan Ford: ‘Ain’t nobody gonna stop me come fight night’

World Series of Fighting Canadian welterweight champion Ryan Ford (22-4) grew up athletic, and with professional fighting all around him in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. He had to wait until he was much older, however, to be allowed to throw any punches of his own.

“I always grew up around boxing because my dad was a Canadian lightweight champion and was ranked as high as No. 3 in the world, at one point,” Ford told Cagewriter.

“So, boxing was always around. When I was in junior high school, I started wrestling. I was an athletic kid and I played every sport I could. But my mom really didn’t want us to box so we didn’t get to do the boxing, too much. Dad did show us how to hit pads and throw a punch, though.”

Once Ford became an adult and a professional fighter himself, it ended up being in the newer combat sport of MMA, instead of boxing. His mom may not have approved of it, but Ford’s father was also initially a bit dubious of his son’s career choice.

“He had that old school boxing mentality of, ‘What is this stuff?’ ” Ford laughs.

“After seeing a few of my fights he actually was like, ‘OK.’ I actually got into it. He saw that it isn’t this crazy sport.”    

Once Ford’s dad bought into MMA, he was eager to give his son pointers and advice. Sometimes, a little bit too eager, according to the fighter.

“Yeah, he gives me some pointers after fights with stand up striking. He’s a boxing analyst,” Ford says.

“But, It’s changed. He used to box back in the ’70s and ’80s. A lot has changed between then and what we do now.”

Ford has readily accepted the advice and game-planning ability of his head MMA coach Firas Zahabi in preparation for his fight against Jake Shields (29-7-1) Saturday night in Edmonton. Zahabi also prepared Georges St-Pierre for his 2011 UFC welterweight title defense against Shields, and so he knows the “American Jiu-Jitsu” specialist.

“Coach Firas set the game plan when Georges fought him, so I’ve definitely relied on his knowledge. Firas knows the game. He knows what game plans to use. At the same time, I’m a totally different fighter than GSP, so his game plan is different,” Ford admits.

Ford respects Shields and all the savvy and experience he will bring to the cage against him, yet still believes this his own hunger to achieve what Shields already has will make him the more dangerous fighter.

“I believe in myself,” he says.

“I believe in the hard work and dedication I put into the gym. Ain’t nobody gonna stop me come fight night. Jake has been there before, done that before, whereas I haven’t. I’m a lot more hungry than he is. Come fight night, he is going to understand.”

Ford takes on Shields Saturday, Oct. 11 in the main event of a four-fight card airing on NBC Sports Network at 9 pm ET/6 pm PT.

Follow Elias on Twitter @EliasCepeda & @YahooCagewriter

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Score Fighting Series 7 results: Mein quickly stops Petz, Ronson batters Healy

Strikeforce took a gamble by loaning out Jordan Mein, one of its top welterweight prospects, for Friday’s Score Fighting Series 7 headliner.

Against UFC vet Forrest Petz, he faced a heavy-handed fighter with proven knockout power.

Yet, quickly in the main-event fight, it looked like anything but a risky proposition.

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The peace and accomplishment behind Charles Rosa’s UFC debut

Only UFC fighters themselves know what they feel as they walk into the cage, glove up and fight one another. One can only imagine that it has to be a daunting sense.

First time ?Octagon jitters? are almost legendary among debuting UFC combatants.  The lights, cameras, large arena, and quite conscious sense of how what?s about to happen is both an incredible career opportunity, after years of work and dedication, as well as perhaps the most dangerous and high-level fight you?ve ever been in, can doubtless make for an interesting brew of nerves for most fighters.

Maybe featherweight Charles Rosa (9-1) felt all of that, heavily, as he stepped into the cage for the first time on October 4 and fought top 10 fighter Dennis Siver (22-9). After all, Rosa had been thisclose to getting a UFC contract for some time, now, as a top prospect.

And when he finally got the call, it was to fight on short notice against a much more experienced fighter in Siver, on another continent, and after cutting nearly 30 pounds in one week. If Rosa felt the ?Octagon jitters,? he sure didn?t show it.

For three rounds, Rosa looked to be not just a top-level UFC fighter, but someone who was so at home in the Octagon, that he enjoyed every second of his close battle to Siver.

Rosa lost a close decision, but earned a performance bonus check and put the division on notice that he was for real. Perhaps he was able to look so comfortable, and even happy, while fighting a Hercules look-a-like on short notice because of how far he?d gone to get there.

Rosa, at just 28 years old, is a young man. He has already, however, lived plenty, and persevered through a lot already.

In fact, MMA may have very well helped him save his own life.

Ultimate Rehab

Charles Rosa is from the Boston area, yet he began his fight training down in South Florida. When we spoke with the featherweight some months ago, while he was still fighting on regional circuits and hoping to get a call up to the major leagues of MMA, Rosa revealed that it wasn?t training that initially brought him to Florida from Massachusetts years ago, but rather a drug rehabilitation program.

Rosa had experienced things many other young people his age had ? a sense of aimlessness, coupled with frustration and anger ? after losing both his first athletic love in hockey, and a beloved brother. Charles wasn?t doing a whole lot up North, and was eventually compelled to go to rehab.

Florida, he hoped, would be a fresh start. It became just that, thanks to a new sport for the man who would go on to be called, ?The Boston Strangler.?

?I was on the bus one day, heading to the facility and I saw a guy with a gym bag,? Rosa recalled, to us.

?I recognized it as a fight gym bag, and I asked him where he trained. He told me, and I decided to go check it out.?

Rosa had an uncle who boxed, and thought of himself as a tough guy, though he had little in the way of formal training. Still, when he walked into American Top Team black belt, and UFC veteran Charles ?Chainsaw? McCarthy?s gym for the first time, he sought out as much action as possible.

First, he unintentionally insulted Cole Miller by challenging him to spar. Miller obliged him and battered the rookie around a bit.

Most importantly, however, Rosa came back the next day. And the next, and the next day after that.

?I thought I was tough, and I was expecting them to say, ?good job,? or something like that. But nobody said anything, so I kept coming back and training more,? he said.

Eventually, Rosa?s diligent attendance in class did get McCarthy?s attention, and he sat the newbie down for a talk. ?He told me that he thought I could be good, if I trained hard,? Rosa recounted.

?When I first walked in, I knew nothing about MMA, so I didn?t know who all the guys around me were. Eventually, I learned that a lot of them were some of the best fighters in the world. I realized who I was working with. These were world-class guys and I was surviving with them, on just guts.?

Rosa took McCarthy?s talk seriously, and trained harder than ever, with the hopes of landing his own MMA debut, sooner than later. McCarthy initially rebuffed Rosa?s many attempts to have a fight booked, but there was a reason.

?Every week I?d come in and ask, ?do you have a fight for me?? And he would say, ?not yet, not yet.? Later, he told me that he had a plan for me,? Rosa said.

?They thought I could become a world champion one day. So, they wanted to take things seriously, slowly, and build a career.?

The planning and deliberation paid off for Rosa because once he made his pro debut, in 2012, he would rattle off nine straight wins over the next two years. More than that, Rosa had gotten clean and found a new calling.

?MMA kind of replaced hockey for me, I think,? he told us.

?This was something new that I loved, and got good at.?

To be sure, Rosa had a lot on the line when he made his UFC debut a week ago against Siver. More than that, perhaps, he was exactly where he wanted to be, and so he was able to look so fluid and confident against a savvy veteran, many years and battles his elder.

?I don?t think I could do a regular, nine to five job,? he told us.

?[MMA] fits my personality and temperament well. This is what I?m supposed to do.?

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UFC on FOX 5 weigh-ins slated for Dec. 7 at Seattle’s KeyArena

Fans are invited to pre-event festivities for the next major UFC event, UFC on FOX 5.

The network-televised event takes place Dec. 8 at Seattle’s KeyArena.

Fans are invited to the traditional pre-event open workouts, press conference and weigh-ins throughout fight week. All of the events are free.

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Ask the Fight Doc: What do you make of Nick Denis’ unexpected MMA retirement?

Promising UFC bantamweight Nick Denis caught many surprise when he announced his MMA retirement on Thursday.

As the former Ph.D. student detailed in his blog, Denis was concerned about brain injury and decided to call it quits at just 29 years old.

MMAjunkie.com medical columnist and consultant Dr. Johnny Benjamin read Denis’ blog and gives his thoughts on the fighter’s decision.

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Jake Shields: ‘The hunger is back’

Jake Shields went unbeaten for two straight years in the UFC, before losing handily to Hector Lombard last March. Immediately prior to that loss, Shields won a main event grappling battle with Demian Maia.

In fact, Shields headlined three out of his last seven UFC bouts, in all. The Cesar Gracie black belt was a long-time top ten welterweight and star fighter.

That’s why it was so shocking to the MMA world, and the fighter himself, when he was cut by the UFC after his loss to Lombard at UFC 171. “I was shocked, yeah,” Shields admits to Cagewriter.

“Before that loss, I was coming off a nice winning streak, and had headlined an event. I just had to not let it keep me down, and I had to stay focused.”

As the 35 year-old pondered a future outside of the world’s top MMA promotion, he found solace in the fact that he had made a living without the UFC for so many years, prior to joining it in 2010. I had spent most of my career outside the UFC, anyway,” he explains.

“So, I didn’t feel my career was defined by fighting in the UFC. Plus, I was a bit tired of dealing with the UFC on some issues, anyway.”

Shields signed with the World Series of Fighting (WSOF) and was set to make his organization debut against fellow former top UFC welterweight contender Jon Fitch before an injury cancelled that bout. The fighter out of San Francisco says that latest set back was also mainly a psychological challenge.

“It was more psychologically hard than physical,” he says.

“Because I knew I’d be back. It was just an annoying injury that took me out of the fight, but I knew I’d recover fine.”

Now, Shields is set to headline yet another event – WSOF 14 – against Ryan Ford in the Canadian’s home town of Edmonton. All his set backs, including his time away from competition, have only made Shields more motivated and eager to step into the cage.

“Definitely,” he says.

“I’m raring to go, get in there and fight. It’s good because, prior to this, I was a little burned out. Now, I’m refreshed and have that hunger back.”

Shields fights Ryan Ford Saturday, Oct. 11 on a four-fight card airing on NBC Sports Network at 9 pm ET/6 pm PT

Follow Elias on Twitter @EliasCepeda & @YahooCagewriter

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