Esparza Talks Gadelha Feud: ‘If We Didn’t Have USADA, I’d Call Roid Rage’

Two of the very best women’s strawweight fighters in the world will collide at UFC 225 on June 9 live on pay-per-view (PPV) from inside United Center in Chicago, Illinois, when former UFC champion Carla Esparza takes on former title challe…

Two of the very best women’s strawweight fighters in the world will collide at UFC 225 on June 9 live on pay-per-view (PPV) from inside United Center in Chicago, Illinois, when former UFC champion Carla Esparza takes on former title challenger Claudia Gadelha.

Despite Esparza riding a two-fight win streak (the longest of her UFC career) and Gadelha coming off a disappointing unanimous decision loss to Jessica Andrade this past September, the 115-pound matchup is a pairing that needed to happen. And unbeknownst to many, it’s a clash of personalities that had created significant bad blood even prior to this booking.

“I’m so excited. This is actually the third time this fight was supposed to happen so it’s been a long time coming,” Esparza told MMAJunkie Radio earlier this week. “I’m just excited it’s going to happen. She’s always been like a big trash talker and we’ve had our Twitter wars which came from nothing back in the day. Up until recently, she’s either talked shit about me and stuff on her Instagram, like calling me names and all these things about me.”

Much of the hostility between the two fighters stems from a social media exchange in 2016 after Esparza reportedly turned down a fight with Gadelha. The two bickered about weight cuts and missed opportunities to fight one another in the past, so this meeting at UFC 225 is long overdue.

“Even just last year, out of nowhere, talking crap about me and then right now I think she called me a dumbass and another post where she called me a little girl,” said Esparza. “It’s just her trash talking, I didn’t say anything about her I was ‘Yay, this fight is finally going to happen,’ and she was just like this, this and this, ‘see you in Chicago, you can’t run anymore dumbass.’ So I’m just like alright. You know, if we didn’t have USADA in the picture, I’d call roid rage.”

Esparza, 30, has never fully regained her divisional footing after losing her title to Joanna Jedrzejczyk via TKO back in 2015. A win over Gadelha this June will help propel her closer to her second UFC title shot.

As for Gadelha, who has teased a potential move up to the UFC’s newly-minted flyweight division, a victory over a former champion like Esparza puts her right back in the driver’s seat at 115 pounds, especially after Jedrzejczyk’s title loss to Rosa Namajunas this past November.

Stick with Mania for more UFC 225 fight card news.

Nunes Vs. Pennington Official For UFC 224 In Brazil

Reigning UFC women’s bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes is officially set to defend her 135-pound title oppposite Raquel Pennington at UFC 224 on May 12 live on pay-per-view (PPV) from inside Jeunesse Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, per a…

Reigning UFC women’s bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes is officially set to defend her 135-pound title oppposite Raquel Pennington at UFC 224 on May 12 live on pay-per-view (PPV) from inside Jeunesse Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, per a recent bout confirmation by MMA Fighting’s Ariel Helwani.

Combate first reported the title fight as in the works earlier this month.

Nunes, 29, is coming off a split-decision title defense over Valentina Shevchenko back at UFC 215 this past September. The 135-pound queen has now won her last six Octagon appearances, including three title fights in three main event spots. A victory over Pennington at UFC 224 could land “Lioness” on the doorstep of a superfight with current UFC women’s featherweight champion and fellow countrywoman Cris Cyborg.

Pennington, 29, is currently riding a four-fight win streak, including a unanimous decision victory over former UFC champion Miesha Tate back at UFC 205 in New York City. That was the last time we saw “Rocky” step foot inside of the Octagon after the Colorado native broke her leg in a hunting accident late last year. Since her promotional debut in 2013, Pennington has only lost to Holly Holm and Jessica Andrade via split decision, bringing her UFC bantamweight record to 6-2.

UFC 224 will also feature a highly-anticipated showdown between Brazilian middleweights and former UFC champions Vitor Belfort and Lyoto Machida. The main card will also feature a critical 185-pound showdown between top contenders Ronaldo Souza and Kelvin Gastelum.

For more UFC 224 fight card news click here.

Barao Expecting ‘Nice KO’ At UFC Orlando After Move To ATT

Former UFC bantamweight champion Renan Barao will look to regain momentum tomorrow night (Sat., Feb. 24, 2018) at UFC on FOX 28 from inside Amway Center in Orlando, Fla., when he takes on rising contender Brian Kelleher in the preliminary …

Former UFC bantamweight champion Renan Barao will look to regain momentum tomorrow night (Sat., Feb. 24, 2018) at UFC on FOX 28 from inside Amway Center in Orlando, Fla., when he takes on rising contender Brian Kelleher in the preliminary headliner on FOX.

Barao, 30, just hasn’t been the same since losing his 135-pound crown to T.J. Dillashaw back in 2014. Since that title loss, which ended a 33-fight unbeaten streak, the Brazilian has turned in a pedestrian 2-3 record. That includes a rematch against Dillashaw and an unsuccessful shot in the UFC’s featherweight division.

Despite his struggle to find consistency over the past couple of years, Barao is still a relevant player at 135 pounds. And if his recent move from Nova Uniao in Brazil to American Top Team (ATT) in Florida is any indication of what “Baron” is capable of moving forward, the bantamweight elites better pay close attention.

“I got the best preparation possible,” Barao said about his move to ATT in a recent interview with Combate. “I already wanted to move to the United States. I want to bring my son over here, in the future. I chose ATT so I could change my way of training, look for improvements. Since I already had some friends of mine training over there, telling me how different everything was, that’s what me decide. Everything changed. I’m doing my cardio with one coach, boxing with another, wrestling with another. I think I improved quite a lot.”

While Barao hasn’t been finished since his defeats to Dillashaw, he has dropped disappointing decisions to featherweight staple Jeremy Stephens and bantamweight contender Aljamain Sterling. Needless to say, the former UFC champion desperately needs a big win this weekend if he wishes to turn back the clock and make 2018 his comeback campaign.

Unfortunately for Kelleher, any success Barao has this weekend in Orlando will come at the expense of him. “Boom” is a finishing machine and has won two Fight Night bonuses in just three Octagon appearances to date, but it is Barao who is looking to walk away from UFC on FOX 28 with a knockout.

“He’s a tough guy, coming off a win, but I expect a nice KO,” Barao said. “I’m ready to give my best.”

UFC on FOX 28 will be headlined by a featherweight tilt pitting veteran Jeremy Stephens against rising contender Josh Emmett.

MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC on FOX 28 fight card, starting with the Fight Pass “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 4:15 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on FOX at 6 p.m. ET, before the FOX main card start time at 8 p.m. ET.

UFC on FOX 28 – Torres vs. Andrade Toe-to-Toe Preview

Phil and David break down everything you need to know about Torres vs. Andrade at UFC on FOX 28, and everything you don’t about braving the elements. Tecia Torres vs. Jessica Andrade co-headlines UFC on FOX 28 this February 24, 2018 at th…

Phil and David break down everything you need to know about Torres vs. Andrade at UFC on FOX 28, and everything you don’t about braving the elements.

Tecia Torres vs. Jessica Andrade co-headlines UFC on FOX 28 this February 24, 2018 at the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida, U.S.

One sentence summary:

David: A strawweight battle of heavyweight elements

Phil: The Tiny Tornado takes on the tank

Stats:

Record: Tecia Torres 10-1 | Jessica Andrade 17-6

Odds: Tecia Torres +265 | Jessica Andrade -295

History / Introduction to Both Fighters

Phil: Andrade failed against Joanna Jedrzejczyk, but despite being technically outclassed she showed no quit, and kept ploughing forward till the end. I think she won a few fans for how purely game she was, and she turned around afterwards with one of the best possible ways of righting the ship: by absolutely crushing the consensus #2 strawweight in the division over the final 10 minutes. She’s a steamroller.

David: Andrade is like a striking version of Sean Sherk—all momentum and volition. Her skills are somewhat raw and limited, but she won’t budget, and remains tough as nails wrapped in obsidian. It’ll be interesting to see (like Sherk) if her unique style for the division can remain consistent as fighters evolve and become more dynamic. Some fighters don’t need to evolve in order to be efficient though. Torres is a good test for this.

Phil: Torres is maybe the most consistently skilled, top-end fighter that we’ve never previewed together before. I’m struggling to think of someone in any of the divisions who has remained so planted in prelim spots despite being a clear top 10 talent. In her professional career she has one (extremely debatable) loss to Rose Namajunas, and has rolled off three straight since then. There are probably some lightweights and featherweights that are more skilled, but in terms of relative skill to the division and general under-the-radarness, she’s fairly unique.

David: Torres has always been an almost-elite fighter. She’s intelligent, measured, active, quick, and technical. I agree about the Namajunas fight and would probably argue the same against Carla Esparza on the show. She hasn’t had the strength of competition deserving of her skillset but this is a nice correction to that issue.

What’s at stake?

Phil: This should be a title eliminator, but I’m not sure what’s going on with Jedrzejczyk. She’s probably getting another crack at Rose, but it’s been surprisingly quiet on the front. Both fighters should be able to bounce back ably from a loss, though. They have a tightly-knitted technical game and a completely overwhelming physical presence respectively which should put them right back into positions like this.

David: I wouldn’t mind seeing one of these two get a shot at Namajunas, but Andrade would be a legitimate threat to Namajunas (stylistically). The UFC probably wants Jedrzejczyk at the top again, so this is one of the those rare moments where no one is being stiffed on a title shot, and I can just enjoy whatever happens.

Where do they want it?

Phil: Andrade’s game is a marvel of subtlety and elegance. OK, no it isn’t. The female equivalent of John Lineker, Andrade plods inexorably forwards behind winging hooks to the head and body. Her defense isn’t anything to write home about, but her chin is so rock-solid that it hasn’t been much of an issue. She’s a powerful if somewhat unstructured wrestler, who favours crude high-crotch lifts. On the ground it’s more bludgeoning head and body combinations and choke submissions. The attribute that impresses me the most is her cardio. She’s a massive strawweight, yet had one of her best rounds in the fifth against Jedrzejczyk after walking through punches and kicks for 20 minutes.

David: Andrade inches forward like a heavy guitar riff smashing your senses inside the mosh pit. She wings each punch to crush bones and crack skulls. It’s downright barbaric. And fun. Unlike most plodders with such a throwback style, her activity doesn’t wane. Even Joanna’s combinations, and searing strikes couldn’t keep her from coming forward with a puncher’s malice. The problem with her style is that any opponent with quality movement can tiptoe around her offense. Andrade is versatile enough to mix it up with high impact slams and keep the bout from becoming tactically wide. But against Torres, movement will definitely be a factor.

Phil: Torres is an odd and (for me at least) appealing mixture of Frankie Edgar and Lyoto Machida. Her most effective approach is when she is able to circle, and attack with rushing blitzes, which she does an excellent job of punctuating with round and side kicks. She’s a surprisingly effective offensive wrestler from the clinch and counter double legs, and her scrambling has improved by leaps and bounds: check the evolution from getting decisioned by Randa Markos to finishing Juliana Lima. Her punching power and ability to sit down on her punches has also improved dramatically in recent outings: she’s not putting people away with punches, but they are visibly hurting.

Her primary issue in this fight is that her style is so predicated on in-out movement, and Andrade doesn’t really allow for anything but “out”. How to set up will be a key question. Torres doesn’t have anything like the frame of Jedrzejczyk, so every time she throws she’ll be in the danger zone.

David: I always think of Torres like a fixed Tyson Griffin—in his brief prime, granted. She chains technical offense with spatial awareness and spirited versatility. The biggest change in her game has been her striking. Before she would dart in with combinations that seemed geared towards point aggregation. You mentioned Machida, which is interesting because stylistically they’re nothing alike but there’s the same philosophical get in-get out idea. Where Machida relies on distance management, Torres wades right into the storm, throwing straight rights and hooks in proximity for pressure only to manage back from the outside. She’s still similar, but where before she was all arm and no torque from the hip, now she’s got the torque (or at least more). She’s also grown more comfortable staying active but alert about where to pick her spots.

Insight from past fights?

David: Torres is a great scrambler, but her ability to avoid the ground altogether should be an asset and it kind of isn’t. Andrade will win with her punches and forward momentum, but in the event of a decision, those takedowns will be the difference in the eyes of the judges and Torres needs to be able to stop them because her only path to victory is winning on the scorecards with every exchange.

Phil: Torres has given up quite a few takedowns of late. Michelle Waterson? Bec Rawlings? While her scrambling and physical strength is excellent, so is Claudia Gadelha’s. She can’t let Andrade set up shop on top.

X-Factors

David: You mentioned height, but I think the real factor is conditioning. Both are well-conditioned, but if the bout’s a firefight, Andrade has the advantage IMO.

Phil: I’m interested to see how Andrade fights someone shorter than her. She’s always been able to bull in underneath strikes and land to the head and body, even at 155. In a fight between two women who are used to being “the short fighter”, there may be a comfort factor for Torres.

Prognostication

David: I think Torres has a real shot. Mainly because Andrade doesn’t have a counter fighter’s arsenal. She can swing back in the exchanges, but if Torres storms those punch entries, I can see the fight getting away from her. The problem is, this would bank of better, perhaps quicker movement from Torres on the reset. So I’ve gotta go with the obvious pick. Jessica Andrade by Decision.

Phil: I think this fight is the real main event. Both have proven themselves to be in the elite of this division, and it’s one of the best title eliminator-type fights you can make at the moment. However much I like Torres and would like to see her do well, it seems like a tough style matchup. How does she keep Andrade off her? Does she kick? Believe in her counterpunching? Gadelha’s plan of counter takedowns ended up being disastrous. Her porous TDD is also a very live concern. Jessica Andrade by unanimous decision.

Nunes vs. Pennington bantamweight title fight set for UFC 224

The UFC has gone through with plans for Amanda Nunes to defend her title on home soil. UFC 224 now has a title fight. As expected, the promotion has put together a UFC women’s bantamweight championship fight between Amanda Nunes and Raquel…

The UFC has gone through with plans for Amanda Nunes to defend her title on home soil.

UFC 224 now has a title fight. As expected, the promotion has put together a UFC women’s bantamweight championship fight between Amanda Nunes and Raquel Pennington. The bout was first mentioned by Combate earlier this month, and was recently confirmed by MMA Fighting.

Nunes (15-4, 8-1 UFC) will be defending her title in her home country for the first time. She has successfully defended it twice so far since winning it from Miesha Tate at UFC 200. Her last defense was a close split-decision win over Valentina Shevchenko in September.

Pennington (9-5, 6-2 UFC) has won four bouts in a row but hasn’t fought since 2016. Her last win was over the aforementioned Tate at UFC 205.

UFC 224 goes down in Rio de Janeiro on May 12th. As of right now, it’s unclear if Nunes vs. Pennington will headline the event or another title bout will be added. Other matchups attached to the card so far will see Vitor Belfort taking on Lyoto Machida, and Ronaldo Souza meeting Kelvin Gastelum.

Amanda Nunes’ Next Title Defense Set For UFC 224

UFC women’s bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes will defend her belt against Raquel Pennington at UFC 224, Combate reported on Friday. Nunes (15-4) will be defending her belt for the first time on her home soil in Rio de Janeiro on May 12. The Brazilian is on a six-fight win streak, having violently taken the title […]

The post Amanda Nunes’ Next Title Defense Set For UFC 224 appeared first on LowKickMMA.com.

UFC women’s bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes will defend her belt against Raquel Pennington at UFC 224, Combate reported on Friday.

Nunes (15-4) will be defending her belt for the first time on her home soil in Rio de Janeiro on May 12. The Brazilian is on a six-fight win streak, having violently taken the title from Miesha Tate before TKOing former champion Ronda Rousey in less than a minute, and will look to secure her third title defense against Pennington, who herself is on an impressive four-fight win streak.

Pennington (9-5) is coming off of a nasty leg injury due to a hunting accident following her dominant victory over Tate at UFC 205 in 2016. While talks of a super fight with UFC women’s featherweight champion Cris Cyborg gained steam recently, it appears as though both women will be defending their belts separately before fighting each other.

Brazilian legends Lyoto Machida and Vitor Belfort will throw down elsewhere on the card, as well as Jacare Souza vs. Kelvin Gastelum.

The post Amanda Nunes’ Next Title Defense Set For UFC 224 appeared first on LowKickMMA.com.