Yair Rodriguez Reacts To Recent UFC Release

Yair Rodriguez dished out all the details about his head-scratching UFC release.

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As early as just one year ago, Yair Rodriguez was one of the UFC’s most hyped potential stars.

However, that all changed in jaw-dropping fashion on May 11 when word dropped from UFC President Dana White that he had abruptly released the flashy striker.

After six straight wins to start his career, ‘Pantera’ earned a bout with legendary former champion Frankie Edgar at last May’s UFC 211 – a fight he clearly wasn’t ready for. After a dominant, one-sided doctor’s stoppage from ‘The Answer,’ Rodriguez seemingly went into hiding in order to shore up his all-around game for his next fight. But when he was reportedly presented with bouts against longtime veteran Ricardo Lamas and rising star Zabit Magomedsharipov, he allegedly turned them down and was released for it.

Today Rodriguez finally opened up in detail about the surprising scenario on The MMA Hour, offering the revelation that he wasn’t only recovering from the Edgar loss over the past year, but also dealing with personal problems surrounding his family in Mexico.

When those were sorted out earlier this year in February, he said, he offered to fight Josh Emmett in Florida but was rebuffed by UFC matchmaker Sean Shelby:

“I got to talk to (UFC matchmaker) Sean Shelby and I told him I was able to fight Josh Emmett in February in Orlando, Florida, to headline that event (UFC on FOX 28).

“And I accepted. I stepped up, and I learned that Josh Emmett wouldn’t accept the fight, or I don’t know if the UFC didn’t want to give it to me or whatever, then I was replaced with Jeremy Stephens. Jeremy Stephens took that fight.

“Then, after that, we sat again with the UFC and talked about a few other opponents. I talked to Sean Shelby and he told me, ‘What do you have in your mind?’ I told him I think I at least deserve a top 10 [opponent]. No matter what happens, I think I deserve a top 10 [opponent] just because of what I already showed in the UFC. I’m 6-1 in the UFC. Not all the fighters in the UFC have the same record as me. I know I’m still a rising star for the sport or whatever, but I know I have done a lot already. I know [how many] fans I have inside the sport and I don’t think I have to show anybody that I’m not afraid.”

‘Pantera’ then revealed that he had indeed accepted the fight with Lamas, but ‘The Bully’ chose to fight Mirsad Bektic instead after Rodriguez admittedly let it slide when some social media heat became generated between him and Magomedsharipov:

“They said Ricardo Lamas, then I said yes to Ricardo Lamas,” Rodriguez said. “I accepted to fight Ricardo Lamas, but then I later learned that he didn’t take the fight with me. He decided to fight (Mirsad) Bektic instead. Then, during that process, the Zabit fight was causing a lot of hype on social media. … I was like, alright, this is going to be great. I started looking at the big potential for this fight.

“And it was kind of my fault that I — like a week after Lamas declined the fight, Sean Shelby called me again and he said, ‘Hey, the Lamas fight is still back open. It’s back open for you to fight.’ And after I was asking for any top-10 [opponent] and they didn’t want to give it to me, and then Lamas took Bektic instead of me, I was kind of disappointed. Just kind of disappointed, I’ll say that.”

Rodriguez claimed he said he would fight Magomedsharipov if he was given a raise given it was supposed to be at August’s UFC 227 pay-per-view from L.A. He said he didn’t want to take the fight without more money because he the Dagestani was ranked outside the top 10 and the fight was on a huge card.

When that wasn’t granted, Rodriguez asked to fight the Russian bulldozer in the UUFC’s debut in his own country this fall:

“I started looking at this other fight with Zabit. It was making a lot of sense for me because of the stylistic matchup and stuff. We saw big potential of renegotiating my contract. There was a negotiation that if they wanted me to fight him in LA (at UFC 227), which, I said I’ll fight him in LA, of course, but [only] if you pay me more, because I had saying for the last year that I wanted to fight a top 10 [opponent]. I’m not picking my opponents. I’m just saying I deserve a top 10. Anyone. I actually asked for ‘Korean Zombie’ as well, but they told me he wasn’t ready, even though he posted some stuff on Twitter saying that he wanted to fight Frankie.

“I was like, okay, I’ll fight Zabit if you give me more money in LA, because I understand how big of an event it is, and they said no,” Rodriguez continued. “I was like, okay, if you don’t want to give me more money to fight him in LA, why don’t you give [the fight] to me in Russia, and there’s no need to do any negotiation for that. I want him in Russia. Why? Because he was calling me out. I’m the guy who, I never say much, I just act. I don’t have to be talking about this on my social media.

“They didn’t even want to give it to me in Russia. Then I was like, okay, you don’t want to give me more money to fight him in LA, you don’t want to give me a top-10 [opponent]. Now I’m looking — now I see how the things are going.”

Rodriguez insisted he was not being difficult and would take any opponent in the top 10, something he felt he deserved with a 6-1 record in the world’s leading MMA promotion. He then confirmed it was about respect for him, and he soon saw how the UFC did business:

“I told them I will accept anyone in the top 10,” Rodriguez said. “I don’t need a negotiation for a top-10 [opponent]. This guy was No. 13 when I was No. 7. I just got beat by Frankie. It’s just one fight. I’m 6-1 in the UFC. I just think that’s what I deserved, and they didn’t want to give it to me. That was more about respect, respecting myself.

“This, for me, was an eye-opening experience.”

Finally, Rodriguez said he had some good offers coming in but couldn’t discuss the specifics yet. The still-potential star said he was happy with offers he had seen but was waiting to see all the offers before he made a decision. With some good money offers coming in, Rodriguez claimed he didn’t have any ill will towards the UFC because another great step was still coming in his career:

“I can’t talk too much about it, brother, but there’s been offers,” Rodriguez said. “There’s been really good offers on the table, but you’ll hear soon about what’s going to happen next with me.

“I’m happy,” he added. “Of course, you always want more because you think you deserve more. It’s just the way that it is. Nobody is happy with whatever they have. But … I’m really happy with the offers right now. I’m happy with what is on the table right now. I’m just being smart, I’ve been waiting to see all the offers, and I know my next move is going to be really important for my career and my life.

“No hard feelings,” Rodriguez said. “You’ve got to move on from things. People live in the past too much. They live the past. I’ve been learning, this is one of the things that I’ve been learning: If you are living in the past, you’re depressed. If you are living in the future, you have anxiety. If you live in the present, you are happy. So I’ve just been slowly learning how to be here and live in the moment, live in the present, and don’t let any little stuff bother me. I cannot let little stuff bother me for the rest of my life.

“This doesn’t stop here. This is the just the beginning of something greater.”

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Ian McCall Officially Retires From MMA

Ian McCall officially called it a career just moments ago:

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Ian McCall has officially retired from the sport of mixed martial arts.

The longtime UFC flyweight contender announced on today’s episode of The MMA Hour that he was stepping down from a grueling 15-year career after a ridiculous run of unfortunate circumstances over the past four years.

With events actually leading him further away from becoming the best in the world at 125 pounds, he proclaimed it just wasn’t worth it to continue fighting:

“I’m retiring finally, I think people have been waiting for this for a long time,” McCall said. “I’m done. This sport has taken so much from me — I shouldn’t say it’s taken, I’ve given this sport so much. And sure, I was the best in the world years ago and sure, people keep bringing up my ‘Al Bundy’ moment about beating Demetrious (Johnson), ‘Oh, you’re the guy, blah blah blah.’

“I’ve had a good run, it’s been fun, but at the same time, it’s over. After enough shenanigans that I’ve been through, I think physically I could still do it. Physically I go in the gym, I train hard. I beat people up, I have a good time, I love doing it, but with my luck and I hate to be the guy that’s like, ‘It always happens to me, the bad things always happen to me,’ well they kind of do in this sport. … I’m not gaining ground, I’m not getting closer to being the best in the world. The steps are getting farther and farther away and I’m not in this to be anything but the best in the world. And if I cannot compete at that level of the best in the world, then it’s just not worth it for me.”

McCall was last seen being knocked out in nine seconds by fellow former UFC title contender Kyoji Horiguchi at Rizin Fighting Federation 10 on May 6, a somewhat controversial result based on the quickness of the stoppage, but also a fight after which McCall publicly questioned if he wanted to continue fighting.

It’s tough to blame him after he was set to fight nine times over the past four years only to see each bout called off due to some complication or injury from either him or his opponent.

He eventually left the UFC after the strange, disturbing run of call-offs and found a new home in Japan’s Rizin FF, only to see more strange circumstances unfold when his first fight against Manel Kape was called off by TKO after he apparently suffered a cut from the ring rope.

Those kinds of outcomes, unfortunately, plagued McCall’s career over the last several years, and indeed he never got a chance to prove how good he truly was. His aforementioned “Al Bundy” moment against dominant UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson came at UFC on FX 2 in 2012, where he nearly finished the record-breaking MMA great in the third round of their flyweight tournament fight. The bout was declared a majority draw after mass confusion when the incorrect result declaring Johnson the winner was read at first.

The tournament rules also called for a fourth round to settle all draws, but it was somehow not taken advantage of, so rematched Johnson at UFC on FX 3 but lost a unanimous decision, allowing “Mighty Mouse” to advance to the flyweight tournament finals and defeat Joseph Benavidez for the gold at UFC 152 that autumn.

“Uncle Creepy” was once considered one of if not the best 125-pound talents in all of MMA after winning the Tachi Palace Fights belt during a time when flyweights were not competing in the UFC.

A roller coaster of injuries and unlikely scenarios caused an abrupt end to his career, signaling the injustice that the 34-year-old was never able to fulfill his full potential in the octagon.

We here at LowKickMMA wish McCall all the best in his future endeavors.

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Twitter Reacts To Action-Packed Chile

UFC Fight Night 129 went down tonight (Saturday, May 19, 2018) from the Movistar Arena in Santiago, Chile. The evening was headlined by a welterweight contender matchup between the surging Kamaru Usman and grappling ace Demian Maia. Maia had early success with his hands as well as putting Usman in some tricky spots with his […]

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UFC Fight Night 129 went down tonight (Saturday, May 19, 2018) from the Movistar Arena in Santiago, Chile. The evening was headlined by a welterweight contender matchup between the surging Kamaru Usman and grappling ace Demian Maia. Maia had early success with his hands as well as putting Usman in some tricky spots with his takedowns. But the 40-year-old tired and had less and less to offer, shooting telegraphed shots that Usman more and more easily stuffed. It was not a thrilling contest but an important win for Usman, who positions himself for a number-one contender fight, at worst.

The co-feature saw strawweight prospects Tatiana Suarez and Alexa Grasso square off to see which of them is ready to graduate to contender status. It turned out to be Suarez. The former freestyle wrestling standout leaned on her roots, quickly grounding Grasso. She soon moved to the back and sunk in the rear-naked choke for the impressive first-round victory.

See how Twitter reacted to these exciting bouts below:

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Mackenzie Dern: I Can Guarantee I Won’t Miss Weight Again

Mackenzie Dern guaranteed she’ll never miss weight again. You buying?

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Hyped women’s strawweight prospect Mackenzie Dern was the talk of the UFC last week when she missed weight by seven pounds heading into her bout with Amanda Cooper at UFC 224 from Rio de Janeiro.

Even though she weighed in at nearly a full weight class above Cooper, her opponent chose to continue with the bout at a catchweight after Dern relinquished 30 percent of her purse to her. Dern won the match with an impressive first-round submission after rocking skilled striker Cooper with a huge overhand right.

She then made even more headlines by somehow debuting on the official strawweight rankings despite her saying the UFC wanted her to fight her next contest in the new UFC women’s flyweight division. The vast weight miss prompted an obvious backlash from her critics on social media, and her rankings debut lead to some longer-tenured fighters in her division such as Felice Herrig and Angela Hill questioning the decision.

Regardless of your opinion of her, Dern has fans and media members talking, and that could mean her perceived position as one of the future stars in MMA is coming true.

Dern knows that her hype coupled with her weight miss comes with an amount of backlash. After what she saw online last week, she revealed on this week’s episode of The MMA Hour that some of it was hard to take seriously even though she knows it’s a serious issue she has to corral:

“It’s kind of crazy. I see people putting hamburgers in my hands. I want to take it serious and I want to show that this won’t happen again, but with some of the memes and stuff I have to laugh. It’s kind of crazy.”

A lot of the criticism directed towards her was due to the fact that she appeared to be a much bigger fighter than Cooper when the two finally met, and it’s not hard to see why when she weighed in at nearly the flyweight limit after reportedly arriving in Brazil at a lofty 139 pounds and finding herself unable to stand.

Yet while many claimed she was the much bigger fighter against Cooper, Dern said they were close in weight when they touched down in Brazil and didn’t feel all that much heavier in the octagon:

“As soon as I arrived the UFC weighed us and I was 138 and she was 134 or 135, so as soon as I saw that it thought, ‘She’s almost my size’. I knew my right punch was strong from the times I hit her, but I didn’t feel so much heavier or something. I wasn’t thinking about the weight anymore.”

She won the fight in dominant fashion, but the questions about her ability to make strawweight – a division in which she’s missed weight three times in six scheduled bouts – left her next fight’s weight class truly uncertain. With talk she should move up rampant, Dern confirmed her desire to stay at 115 pounds with the help of the UFC Performance Institute in Las Vegas.

The hyped submission wiz said she’s made weight at strawweight before, and closed with a guarantee she wouldn’t miss the mark again:

“I want to stay at strawweight. Hopefully, with the help of UFC Performance Institute it will be a lot easier and it will all be under control. If they told me, ‘It’s not good for you to fight at 115’, then I would go to 125. I’ve made 115 before, three times, so I think it’s a better weight for me.”

“I can guarantee [that I won’t miss weight again].”

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Kamaru Usman Reflects On UFC Journey: ‘It’s My Time Now’

Will tonight complete the rise of Kamaru Usman?

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UFC welterweight Kamaru Usman faces the biggest challenge in his MMA career to date as he takes on Demian Maia in the main event of UFC Fight night 129 tonight (Sat., May 19, 2018) in Santiago, Chile.

But “The Nigerian Nightmare” believes that after years of grueling hard work, it’s his time now – regardless of who’s in front of him.

For a wrestler who entered the fight game with no striking experience whatsoever, Usman reflected on his journey in MMA in a recent interview with FanSided’s Spencer E. Kyte, where he sports a 12-1 record overall and remains undefeated in the UFC with seven wins in a row. It wasn’t always easy, however, as he was initially thrown to the wolves at the formerly touted Blakczilians camp in Florida:

“I was thrown into the deep end right away. You’re in a room with Tyrone Spong, ‘Suga’ Rashad Evans, Anthony Johnson, Cosmo Alexandre, Michael Johnson, JZ Cavalcante, Jorge Santiago and you have to survive in that room and I came in as a wrestler, that’s it.

“I had no striking. I had never boxed before, amateur or professional. I came in as strictly as a wrestler and you’re getting beat up and smashed.

Usman credits former UFC light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans as his mentor, someone who has helped guide the welterweight and navigate the politics of the fight game.

Evans and Usman met while training at the now-defunct Blackzillians camp, where the two trained together at length. Like Evans, Usman entered the UFC strictly as a wrestler, and has had to develop his striking along the way just like “Suga” Rashad:

“My mentor is ‘Suga’ Rashad Evans and I’ve been on the road with him. I’ve done this whole process with him countless times, including where he’s headlining a pay-per-view and I did his media tour with him, I did the workouts with him, I traveled with him, so I’ve seen it first-hand.

“He’s essentially prepared me for these moments and so how ironic is it that to fly out to get here, he drove me to the airport?”

Usman’s striking has indeed come a long way since making his UFC debut in 2015. Usman scored his first ever one-punch knockout over Sergio Moraes last year, and has shown huge improvements in his stand-up game with every fight:

“But then you get to a point where you’re not getting smashed as much. Then you get to a point where you’re holding your own. And then you get to a point where that round was kind of even and then where I’m winning rounds against these guys and these guys are like, ‘Yo – you’re going to be the best.’”

Usman also said he actually had asked for  submission specialist Demian Maia years ago and called the Brazilian out after defeating Warlley Alves in Maia’s hometown of Sao Paulo:

“I asked for Demian two years ago when he was looked at as unstoppable. I would have liked to have gotten him at that point, but it is what it is.

“Demian Maia is Demian Maia – he’s a legend in the game and he’s been in the game a long time. Nothing but respect for him, but it’s my time to take over and showcase that it’s my time now.”

Usman and Maia will headline the UFC’s first-ever event in Chile at UFC Fight Night 129.

It’s Usman’s first fight with a true top-ranked challenger after several elite welterweights reportedly turned him down, something that has been wearing on the surging wrestler:

“I’ve been disappointed so many times to where I’ve learned and I don’t have expectations anymore. There’s not a name because I don’t want to disappoint myself anymore. I did it with Demian Maia. I did it with (Rafael dos Anjos). I did it with Colby (Covington).

“It makes it challenging because I didn’t get into this to just be a fighter because I can’t get a job anywhere else. I’m educated. I went to college. I can get a job and do something else, but I do this to compete and so when those guys above me are not willing to give me that opportunity to compete and continue to elevate towards that title, it’s extremely frustrating and it kills my buzz for wanting to continue to do this.

“It’s starting to show now that guys are visibly not trying to fight me and it’s been hard to get to this point,” he adds. “I’ve said I want to be champion and I’m not here to fight just anybody – I’m here to fight the best, move up and continue to elevate, so it’s up to the UFC to find that guy to elevate me toward that title because no one has been able to solve the puzzle yet.

But now that he has the big fight with Maia, who recently put together a win streak to earn an unsuccessful title shot against current champion Tyron Woodley, he believes a win over the Brazilian great should earn him the same but isn’t sure it will materialize:

“Demian Maia went on a 7-0 run and got a title shot. (With a victory on Saturday night), I’m going to be on an 8-0 run, so we’ll see what happens.”

At the end of the day, Usman wants to win in dominant fashion no matter how he has to do it in order to send a message to the UFC and the rest of the division:

“If everything goes according to plan, I’m dominating from start to finish. Whether it ends with a submission, by KO, by five-round beating – that’s what I aim to do. I am going to be dominant from start to finish.”

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CSAC Exec Will License Chuck Liddell On One Condition

Will Chuck Liddell get past this hurdle?

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Yesterday (Monday, May 14, 2018) former UFC light heavyweight champion Chuck Liddell made waves by confirming he would come out of retirement.

Many were not surprisingly questionable of the 48-year-old’s chances in any legitimate MMA fight, yet it wasn’t all that much of a surprise given that “The Iceman” had been teasing a trilogy bout with Tito Ortiz for months. What was beyond questionable, however, was his callout of currently suspended former champion Jon Jones, who responded with a seething reply later in the day.

While the ridiculous match-up would almost never happen with Jones facing a potentially lengthy suspension from USADA and Liddell out of the UFC and likely never to return, it appears that the longtime UFC fan favorite will still be able to compete in his home state on one serious condition.

California State Athletic Commission (CSAC) Executive Director Andy Foster – who is, ironically enough, dealing with Jones’ suspension at the state level – told MMAjunkie that Liddell will be licensed to fight in the state if he passes advanced medical testing:

“If Chuck passes his medicals – his advanced medicals … I will administratively grant him a license.”

The report stated that when licensing fighters older than 40 (Liddell is now 48), the CSAC follows guidelines from the Association of Ringside Physicians (ARP). The rules call for each fighter to submit a magnetic resonance angiogram (MRA) of their brain, annual testing that includes a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the brain without contrast, EKG, cardiac testing, neurocognitive testing, blood work, and a vision test.

Foster claimed he would have no issue licensing Liddell ‘if he passed all his medicals,’ but if any of his tests came back abnormal “or subsequently suggest deterioration in health status,” the ARP would side with the decision to not license ‘The Iceman.’

And after the initial series of medical tests, Foster said that Liddell’s ability to compete is different than his ability to get licensed, and would ultimately depend on whom his opponent is. With Liddell rumored to take on Ortiz under Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions later this year, Foster wouldn’t take the bait and name the opponent:

“It would obviously depend on the opponent. I don’t want to comment on who the opponent is. You’re the reporter, and you know dang well who it is. But his ability to license is different from his ability to compete, and his ability to compete would depend on who the opponent is.”

So Foster did everything but name Ortiz, and he also said that the fellow former UFC great would have to renew his license as well. ‘The Huntington Beach Bad Boy’ retired after submitting Chael Sonnen at Bellator 170.

UFC President Dana White has understandably spoken out against Liddell’s comeback after he was the one who essentially commanded ‘The Iceman’ step down after three straight knockout losses to end his career. But after the UFC offered him a job for life then took it away when new owners Endeavor came along, he obviously doesn’t care too much about what they think.

That means we could legitimately be seeing Liddell vs. Ortiz III later this year, and from the sound of it, the fight may just take place in California.

Do you want to see it happen?

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