‘Do Something That Hasn’t Been Done Before’

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Josh Silveira wants all of the smoke.
Silveira returns to action tonight (Fri., June 21, 2024) at PFL 5 against 2022 PFL Light Heavyweight champion Rob Wilkinson in hopes of securing a …


2024 PFL 2: Las Vegas
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Josh Silveira wants all of the smoke.

Silveira returns to action tonight (Fri., June 21, 2024) at PFL 5 against 2022 PFL Light Heavyweight champion Rob Wilkinson in hopes of securing a spot in the 2024 PFL playoffs, which will take place in the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Silveira is coming off a first-round, 74-second finish of 2022 PFL Welterweight champion Sadibou Sy at PFL 2 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Sy dislocated his thumb, resulting in a TKO.

The 2024 Professional Fighters League Light Heavyweight division is the most stacked it has ever been, as five PFL champions reside in it: Wilkinson (2022), Sy (2022), Antonio Carlos Jr. (2021), Impa Kasaganay (2023), and Jakob Nedoh (2023—European).

Silveira hopes to beat two more, leading him to a $1,000,00 championship.

“Life works in a weird way, and God works in strange ways. Last year wasn’t my year to win it, but maybe it’s this year for me to go beat previous champions- do something that hasn’t been done before,” Silveira said during PFL 5 media day. “Just imagine, I beat four previous champions to win the belt. If God would have told me that last year, I would have been calm about losing the finals. We don’t know what the future holds, but that’s what the direction looks like. Sadibou was a champion, even though it was 170 lbs. Rob is a champion. We’ll find out Friday night if I have to fight any more champions.”

2024 PFL 2: Las Vegas
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Silveira told MMAMania.com he really hopes to face Carlos Jr. in the finals. Carlos Jr. is Silveria’s main training partner and friend, and his dad, who co-founded the iconic American Top Team, is their head coach.

The 30-year-old is second in the PFL Light Heavyweight standings with six points.


For more PFL news and notes click here.

LIVE! UFC Saudi Arabia Early Weigh Ins Results!

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Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is just over 24 hours away from the upcoming UFC Saudi Arabia mixed martial arts (MMA) event, which is set to go down tomorrow (Sat., J…


UFC 298 Ceremonial Weigh-in
Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is just over 24 hours away from the upcoming UFC Saudi Arabia mixed martial arts (MMA) event, which is set to go down tomorrow (Sat., June 22, 2024) on ABC and ESPN/ESPN+ from inside Kingdom Arena in Riyadh. UFC Saudi Arabia will be headlined by a middleweight clash between Robert Whittaker and Ikram Alskerov, a five-round headliner with serious title implications for late 2024 and beyond.

Before the ABC and ESPN/ESPN+ live streams get underway this weekend in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, which also include the heavyweight showdown between top 265-pound contenders Sergei Pavlovich and Alexander Volkov, all 22 fighters must hit the scale to prove themselves worthy.

Complete UFC Saudi Arabia weigh ins text results below:

UFC Saudi Arabia Main Card on ABC/ESPN+:

185 lbs.: Robert Whittaker () vs. Ikram Aliskerov ()
265 lbs.: Sergei Pavlovich () vs. Alexander Volkov ()
185 lbs.: Kelvin Gastelum () vs. Daniel Rodriguez ()
205 lbs.: Shara Magomedov () vs. Antonio Trocoli ()
205 lbs.: Johnny Walker () vs. Volkan Oezdemir ()

UFC Saudi Arabia Prelims Card on ESPN/ESPN+:

155 lbs.: Nasrat Haqparast () vs. Jared Gordon ()
145 lbs.: Muhammad Naimov () vs. Felipe Lima ()
170 lbs.: Rinat Fakhretdinov () vs. Nicolas Dalby ()
135 lbs.: Kyung Ho Kang () vs. Muin Gafurov ()
205 lbs.: Magomed Gadzhiyasulov () vs. Brendson Ribeiro ()
135 lbs.: Xiao Long () vs. Chang Ho Lee ()


MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Saudi Arabia fight card RIGHT HERE, starting with the ESPN/ESPN+ preliminary card matchups, which are scheduled to begin at 12 p.m. ET, followed by the remaining main card balance on ABC/ESPN+ at 3 p.m. ET.

To check out the latest and greatest UFC Saudi Arabia news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archives here, here, and here. For the updated and finalized “Whittaker vs. Aliskerov” fight card and ABC/ESPN+ lineup click here.

Midnight Mania! Usyk Was TOO EASY For Fury

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Bringing you the weird and wild from the world of MMA each and every weeknight! Welcome to Midnight Mania!
It’s been just about a month since Tyson Fury’s undefeated record went up in…


Tyson Fury v Oleksandr Usyk: Ring Of Fire - Fight Night
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Bringing you the weird and wild from the world of MMA each and every weeknight!

Welcome to Midnight Mania!

It’s been just about a month since Tyson Fury’s undefeated record went up in smoke.

Oleksandr Usyk and Fury battled for 12 competitive rounds, but there was little doubt who was the better man that night when the dust settled. Fury had some strong rounds in the middle of the fight, but a knockdown in the ninth firmly shifted the momentum into Usyk’s corner (watch highlights). The Ukrainian boxer started and finished very strong, earning undisputed champion status in a second weight class as a result of the victory.

In the immediate aftermath of the split-decision defeat, Fury blamed the judges’ decision on sympathy for the Russian conflict with Ukraine and argued that he deserved the victory. Given more time to process, Fury has come up with a different conclusion: he lost because Usyk was “too easy” to hit, and subsequently, he was having “too much fun.”

“It was actually a lot easier than I thought it would be, the Usyk fight,” Fury explained on his Furocity podcast. “A lot easier. People saying, ‘Oh, he’s a hard man to hit.’ I was lighting him up with three-, four-punch combinations, laughing at him. My problem in that fight: I probably had too much fun. It was probably too easy.

“At times, it was too easy. It was like I was in there with a local amateur boxer, and I was just enjoying it too much, messing around. Paid the ultimate price in round nine where I got a 10-8 round and got clipped. That’s what happens when you have too much fun. They always tell me ‘Never mix your work with having fun’ and I always gave them the middle finger, and it’s come back now to me!”

It’s an interesting theory. Fortunately, Fury will have an opportunity to put it to the test in when the duo rematch in late December. Maybe this time there will be less showboating and goofing around from “The Gypsy King” the second time around?

Insomnia

Ikram Aliskerov is the latest contender who grew up in the Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov Sambo school.

Israel Adesanya is back in the gym, getting ready to throw down with Dricus Du Plessis.

Speaking of the South African champion, this old sparring clip featuring him and Alexander Volkanovski is a silly watch.

Here’s a fun prompt! I’m nominating BJ Penn for sloth and Kelvin Gastelum for gluttony.

I’ve written like three different articles about Gastelum’s wasted potential, so here’s Chris Curtis summing it up more concisely.

Fatigued Heavyweight action coming to an Apex near you.

Leon Edwards’ son knows the stats!

Slips, rips, and KO clips

Arguably the most iconic KO in MMA history went down 20 years ago today (June 20 at the time of writing).

… and 24 years earlier, there was a legendary boxing brawl between two of the four kings!

Nasty knees from the A Frame!

Random Land

Rhino relocation.

Midnight Music: Alternative, 1991

Sleep well Maniacs! More martial arts madness is always on the way.

Meet PFL’s UFC Killer

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Watch out, ex-Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) fighters, “The Canadian Badass” is coming …
Michael Dufort returns to action tomorrow evening (Fri., June 21, 2024) inside Huntsman …


2024 PFL 2: Las Vegas
Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images

Watch out, ex-Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) fighters, “The Canadian Badass” is coming …

Michael Dufort returns to action tomorrow evening (Fri., June 21, 2024) inside Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City, Utah, taking on former Bellator MMA mainstay, Adam Piccolotti, as he tries keep his No. 1 seed in the promotion’s latest Lightweight tournament.

Dufort has been on the best run of his career, winning five straight and finishing four. His last three wins have been against fighters who competed in UFC, which is just fine for the 30-year-old Canadian.

“I like to beat up ex-UFC fighters,” Dufort said at PFL 5 2024 media day. “It’s fun because everybody is saying UFC is probably the biggest organization in the world, and I’m beating their guys. They were good in UFC, and I finished them all.

“I finished Mads Burnell in the second round, and I finished Luis Pena in the first minute,” he concluded. “Joe Giannetti was The Ultimate Fighter, I finished him, too. So, I know that’s pretty cool. It’s pretty fun to finish people.”


While the UFC fighters Dufort has defeated did not have significant success in the promotion, having them on his resume is a big feather in his cap regardless.

Dufort is currently in first place in PFL’s Lightweight standings and is two wins away from securing the coveted $1 million grand prize.


For all the latest PFL and Bellator MMA news and notes click here and here.

Whittaker’s Relentless March Back To Gold

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Former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Middleweight kingpin, Robert Whittaker, will go to war opposite rising Russian star, Ikram Aliskerov, this Saturday (June 22, 20…


UFC 298: Whittaker v Costa
Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Middleweight kingpin, Robert Whittaker, will go to war opposite rising Russian star, Ikram Aliskerov, this Saturday (June 22, 2024) at UFC Saudi Arabia inside Kingdom Arena in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

At 33 years of age, Whittaker is not an old Middleweight by any means. At the same time, we cannot pretend there isn’t tread on these tires. Whittaker has a been a professional fighter for 15 years, a member of UFC’s roster since 2012. He won his title in 2017 — seven years ago!!! — and lost it two years later to a rising Israel Adesanya.

Since 2019, Whittaker’s focus has been on regaining 185-pound gold. In the process, he dispatched most of the same contenders who challenged for the “Stylebender” throne, routinely dominating world-class opposition. He built his legacy up further in the process, but a shocking loss to Dricus Du Plessis last year (watch it) obscured the path forward.

Whittaker responded by putting his nose back to the grind stone and taking on more dangerous names. Let’s take a closer look at the former champion’s skill set:

UFC 298: Whittaker v Costa

Striking

Whittaker’s karate background combines with quality boxing to produce one of the best Middleweight strikers of the past years. He has a unique style of explosive movement that certainly carries some risk but has also allowed him to accomplish so much.

Generally, Whittaker remains light on his feet and bounces like a Karateka. Whittaker commonly uses his speed to blitz forward, looking to catch opponents off-guard. However, once he bursts into the pocket, Whittaker’s combinations are that of a skilled boxer, and he’s willing to extend combinations and continue to fight from that range.

Whittaker most often does damage during and immediately after his spring forward. Often, he leads with the jab, a mark of his boxing experience. Whittaker’s jab and subsequent jab feints make him a very difficult man to deal with at range. Notably, Whittaker did serious damage in the rematch with Adesanya by finishing combinations with his jab, sticking Adesanya before “Stylebender” could return fire with his leaning counters.

The opening two rounds of Whittaker’s second bout with Romero were a great display of what the Aussie likes to do on offense. Keeping his hands low despite the dangerous man in front of him, Whittaker kept his feet bouncing, ready to attack or react. When attacking, most of Whittaker’s offense came from his lead side. He sprung forward with stabbing jabs, lunging hooks, stomping side kicks, and quick step up left kicks.

A common set up for Whittaker’s hook is to roll following his cross. After Whittaker commits to his cross by moving forward with sudden speed, he’ll immediately roll to his own right avoid the counter hook. As he lowers his level into the roll, Whittaker can simultaneously weave with the hard left hand. The roll is built-in defense, and it can produce a huge connection if Whittaker goes underneath a check hook and times his own left.

UFC Fight Night: Tavares v Whittaker

To score a knockout victory of Brad Tavares a few years back, Whittaker showed another crafty left hook set up. After flicking out a front kick to the mid-section, Whittaker returned into his stance balled up and ready to explode. He immediately sprung into the left hook, which caught his opponent still standing tall after the kick (GIF).

Whittaker kicks behind his jab well, often targeting his opponent’s lead leg. However, a signature technique of “Bobby Knuckles” is the right high kick, often hidden by the cross (GIF). Whittaker does an excellent job of varying the timing on his right kick, sometimes mixing in a bit of a pause that allows him to take a better angle before firing. It’s a small detail, but one that gives him a better chance at landing the strike.

In a more recent bout opposite Jared Cannonier, Whittaker’s right kick proved the deciding factor. Early in the bout, he managed to break his opponent’s arm during a blocked kick, a testament to both the power in Whittaker’s kick and his ability to kick from the correct distance. Later in the fight, that same right high kick clipped the temple of Cannonier, nearly finishing him.

This trend continued opposite Kelvin Gastelum, whom Whittaker kicked in the head several times. The really interesting new wrinkle in Whittaker’s offense in that match was his habit of angling off with the left hook. After sticking a front kick or side kick to the thigh, Whittaker would angle off and duck his head while also throwing a left hook, looking to catch Gastelum as he tried to counter.

Whittaker’s most recent bout came against Paulo Costa, who was surprisingly committed to jabbing with the Australian. In that fight, Whittaker showed off his own ability to counter that jab. He repeatedly timed Costa’s jab with his own overhand, and then he began to build off that counter by following up with the left hook or a punctuating jab. As Costa’s hands began to slow a bit, Whittaker’s counters landed with greater consistency.

Since Whittaker is often striking from outside the usual boxing range, his opponents are forced to close that extra bit of distance as well. Most fighters do not set up their blitz as well as Whittaker, and it’s generally slower, too. That’s where Whittaker’s check hook comes into play.

When facing wrestlers especially, Whittaker will carry his lead hand low to help secure an underhook. It’s a bit defensively riskier, but it also allows the counter hook to land from a blind angle (GIF). Perhaps the best example of Whittaker’s counter left hook came opposite Derek Brunson, who insisted on pressuring Whittaker face-first. He was able to get away with it for a couple minutes, but eventually Whittaker was able to gain a solid stance while moving backward and crack him (GIF).

Defensively, Whittaker’s burst forwards can be timed. It’s been an issue in various fights — Adesanya 1, Darren Till, Du Plessis — but it’s also an integral aspect of his offense. Whittaker disguises his lunges forward with good feints and lateral movement, but he’s providing a ton of force if his forward advance is timed.

UFC 271: Adesanya v Whittaker 2

Wrestling

In 2017, Whittaker won a gold medal at the Australian National Wrestling Championships and qualified himself to represent Australia in international competition, which is quite an accomplishment. There’s a reason Whittaker rose to prominence by laying waste to a series of fighters who rely on the takedown: the man can wrestle.

Whittaker’s offensive takedowns are undoubtedly his biggest improvement since losing the title. Previously, Whittaker had used the left hook to raise his foe’s guard to set up the double-leg, usually along the fence. Since losing the strap, however, Whittaker has instead made use of the Frankie Edgar-style running single leg pick up. Since he’s already tremendously quick and very active with his lead hand, it’s proven a very smart adjustment. Blitzing forward, Whittaker still blinds his foe with a high left hand, but his right hand reaches out and grabs the leg.

From that position, Whittaker looks to run his foe to the mat. Often, they instead turn their backs, allowing Whittaker to continue chaining takedowns and mat returns.

Whittaker also pretty soundly out-wrestled Gastelum, which is no easy accomplishment, and he showed off different aspects of his wrestling game. Early in the fight, Whittaker slipped inside a punch to secure double underhooks, won the knee position battle, and tipped Gastelum to the mat (GIF). Later, Whittaker changed levels and ran the pipe from a high-crotch position as if he were in a wrestling match (GIF).

Whittaker’s defensive wrestling is historically excellent. He has both great hips and a great whizzer. His wrestling defense was most on display in the first fight against Yoel Romero, like in this clip (GIF). Despite a solid entry from the Olympic silver medalist, Whittaker flings his hips backward and punishes the attempt with a knee to the midsection. Romero continues to drive into a hybrid body lock/double leg, but Whittaker backs into the fence and cranks on the overhook to break Romero’s posture. The result is Romero losing control of the Aussie, allowing him to escape back to the center.

Whittaker’s range control makes it difficult for fighters to set up shots on him, which goes a long way in denying the takedown. However, Romero did show that Whittaker’s leaps forward can be timed for a takedown, but even then Whittaker is nearly impossible to hold down as a result to his refusal to accept bottom position. Whittaker kicks at the hips and frames away, potentially giving up his back and trusting his excellent hand-fighting to keep him safe in that situation.

The Du Plessis loss was the first time Whittaker was taken down and beaten up in years. In classic Du Plessis fashion: it was strange! The South African flipped Whittaker over with the type of schoolyard headlock throw I’m always complaining about in women’s mixed martial arts (MMA). Obviously, the Aussie was surprised, but what was more surprising was that Du Plessis’ strength and grappling skill were enough to pin Whittaker to the floor with an overhook/d’arce/elbow triple threat.

A sign of decline or a sneaky one-off from the current champion? It’s too early to tell.

UFC Fight Night 27: Condit v Kampmann 2

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Though he holds a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, Whittaker isn’t often showing off his submission skills. In his recent wins that relied more upon takedowns, Whittaker did pass well, but he focused more on control and damage than strangles.

Still, his grappling defense has been tested in several fights. For example, Romero will destroy people with elbows if given the opportunity. Whittaker did not allow him to do so, immediately wrapping up double under hooks to control his opponent. From there, Whittaker grapevine’d the legs — again, preventing posture and significant strikes — before transitioning into a butterfly guard. He was unable to fully sweep, but elevating Romero did allow Whittaker to scramble to his knees and fight hands.

Whittaker also showed very intelligent defense opposite “Jacare,” who at one point nearly took Whittaker’s back standing. To defend, Whittaker remained calm and isolated a two-on-one grip on Souza’s arm, ducking underneath it. Without the ability to use that arm to latch onto Whittaker, Souza was unable to advance further toward the back mount, making a very dangerous position worthless.

UFC Fight Night: Whittaker v Till

Conclusion

Whittaker is already a future Hall of Famer, the best Australian MMA fighter in history. Even as small cracks have begun to show, he remains an elite talent fully capable of getting his title back. Seeing as Khamzat Chimaev is injured (details here) and Sean Strickland’s last win was lackluster, perhaps a strong showing here could earn him one final opportunity?


Andrew Richardson, a Brazilian jiu-jitsu brown belt, is a professional fighter who trains at Team Alpha Male in Sacramento, California. In addition to learning alongside world-class talent, Andrew has scouted opponents and developed winning strategies for several of the sport’s most elite fighters.


Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Saudi Arabia fight card right here, starting with the ESPN/ESPN+ “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 12 p.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance (on ABC/ESPN+) at 3 p.m. ET.

To check out the latest and greatest UFC Saudi Arabia: “Whittaker vs. Aliskerov” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.

PFL Salt Lake City Weigh Ins Results, Staredowns!

The road to the Professional Fighters League (PFL) playoffs will continue in Salt Lake City, Utah, tomorrow (Fri. June 21, 2024) as the light heavyweights and lightweights take center stage inside Jon M. Huntsman Center.
Headlin…



The road to the Professional Fighters League (PFL) playoffs will continue in Salt Lake City, Utah, tomorrow (Fri. June 21, 2024) as the light heavyweights and lightweights take center stage inside Jon M. Huntsman Center.

Headlining the event will be a a 155-pound fight between Clay Collard and Mads Burnell. Collard earned five points at PFL Las Vegas earlier this year by defeating Patricky Pitbull via strikes in the second round, while Burnell lost to Michael Dufort.

2023 light heavyweight season winner, Impa Kasanganay, will look to keep his momentum going in the co-main event following his first-round technical knockout (TKO) win over Alex Polizzi in “Sin City” this past April (see it again here). He will be taking on Jakob Nedoh, who is coming off a first-round loss at the hands of Dovletdzhan Yagshimuradov.

Checkout the full PFL Salt Lake City weigh ins results and staredowns — which went down earlier today — below:

155 lbs.: Clay Collard (155.8) vs. Mads Burnell (155.6)
205 lbs.: Impa Kasanganay (204.8) vs. Jakob Nedoh (206)
155 lbs.: Patricky Pitbull (155) vs. Bruno Miranda (154.6)
205 lbs.: Rob Wilkinson (205.6) vs. Josh Silveira (206)
205 lbs.: Dovlet Yagshimuradov (205) vs. Simon Biyong (203.8)
205 lbs.: Antonio Carlos Jr. (205.6) vs. Alex Polizzi (203.4)
155 lbs.: Brent Primus (155.8) vs. Solomon Renfro (156.4)*
205 lbs.: Sadibou Sy (205.2) vs. Tom Breese (206)
155 lbs.: Gadzhi Rabadanov (156) vs. Elvin Espinoza (155.8)
155 lbs.: Michael Dufort (156) vs. Adam Piccolotti (155.8)
155 lbs.: Anthony Romero (156) vs. Sergio Cossio (156)
205 lbs.: Andrew Sanchez (204.8) vs. Karl Albrektsson (205.2)
145 lbs.: Brayhan Zurcher (146) vs. Julian Ruiz (145.6)

*missed weight, fined 20-percent of fight purse

Clay Collard vs. Mads Burnell

Impa Kasanganay vs. Jakob Nedoh

Patricky Pitbull vs. Bruno Miranda

Rob Wilkinson vs. Josh Silveira

Antonio Carlos Junior vs. Alex Polizzi


For all the latest PFL news and notes click here.