Petr Yan Claims Aljamain Sterling’s Grappling Doesn’t ‘Bother’ Him, Predicts A ‘Very Violent Finish’

YanIt’s arguably the most competitive bantamweight matchup you could put together in the division today, and this weekend’s title fight between the incumbent Petr Yan and the challenger, Aljamain Sterling has some real animosity fueling it. Initially set to match at UFC 256 in December, Yan was forced to withdraw from the matchup, citing personal […]

Yan

It’s arguably the most competitive bantamweight matchup you could put together in the division today, and this weekend’s title fight between the incumbent Petr Yan and the challenger, Aljamain Sterling has some real animosity fueling it.

Initially set to match at UFC 256 in December, Yan was forced to withdraw from the matchup, citing personal reasons, with Sterling also removed from the card as a result. Rescheduled for this weekend’s stacked UFC 259 event at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas — in the months since, the rivalry has only continued to develop.

Taking his camp to South Florida at American Top Team from Tiger Muay Thai in Thailand amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, reigning champion Yan recently spoke with BJ PENN.com reporter, Cole Shelton, claiming that while the consensus would believe Sterling has a distinct grappling advantage, that aspect of the challenger’s game doesn’t “bother” him.

I’m ready for every aspect of MMA,” Yan said. “I can hurt him (Aljamain Sterling) standing and on the ground too. I’m not gonna shy away from the challenge. I’m training with many high-level grapplers, his grappling doesn’t bother me.

In his sole professional loss, Yan dropped a split decision defeat to recent Bellator MMA acquisition, Magomed Magomedov — in which he was taken down on multiple occasions in a vacant ACB bantamweight championship matchup. Sterling himself has recently claimed that whilst Yan may be able to defend some takedowns — all he needs is one successful shot to find his route to victory this weekend.

Opening another title tripleheader back in July of last year at UFC 251 — Yan claimed the vacant bantamweight crown with an eventual fifth-round knockout victory over former featherweight kingpin, Jose Aldo — sealing Octagon gold in just his seventh promotional appearance.

Yan had previously claimed he’s going to finish Sterling in relatively quick fashion come this weekend’s bantamweight title clash — and now predicts his finish retention will be a “very violent one“.

My goal is always to finish the fight early and do the damage,” Yan said. “I see me getting a very violent finish. It will play out very violently for him,

Earning his well-overdue title challenge, longtime contender, Sterling met with the fellow streaking, Cory Sandhagen at UFC 250 in June — lodging a career-best, highlight-reel performance. Taking the recent big winner’s back early in the opening-minute, Uniondale native, Sterling locked up a patient rear-naked choke — forcing the tap from Sandhagen. 

Casey Kenney Targeting Other Former Champions With UFC 259 Win Over Dominick Cruz

Kenney CruzCasey Kenney is only targeting big names from hereon out. Kenney takes on former bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz in the featured prelim spot of the UFC 259 pay-per-view event. It’s undoubtedly the biggest fight of Kenney’s career, especially with Cruz being one of the pioneers of the bantamweight division as well as arguably the greatest […]

Kenney Cruz

Casey Kenney is only targeting big names from hereon out.

Kenney takes on former bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz in the featured prelim spot of the UFC 259 pay-per-view event.

It’s undoubtedly the biggest fight of Kenney’s career, especially with Cruz being one of the pioneers of the bantamweight division as well as arguably the greatest 135er of all time.

Kenney even used to watch him fight, but will not be awestruck when he steps opposite the cage from him.

“I think I was in college or just on the summer of college break and I was trying to decide whether I wanted to go back or become a fighter,” Kenney told Middle Easy. “My friends and I used to sit around and watch UFC fights. Of course him (Cruz) and Faber went at it. They were the lighter guys, and they were just bringing in the (1)35 and (1)45 division too. So I been watching Dominick Cruz as far back as 2011.

“It means a lot to fight him, but at the end of the day he’s just another guy. He’s across the cage from me and in my way. He’s a legend of the sport. But all of that changes when we get locked in there.”

A win over Cruz would put Kenney on a four-fight winning streak and likely move him up the bantamweight ranks further.

And while he is not looking past Cruz, he is ideally looking to face more former champions in the division before eventually challenging for the title.

“Obviously I’m in the top 15 now. The number doesn’t really matter to me,” Kenney added. “But you beat a former champion, I feel like i’d deserve another former champion. And there’s a handful of them to pick from.

“I wouldn’t mind getting (Jose) Aldo or (TJ) Dillashaw. Aldo, Dillashaw or Garbrandt. Those are three former champions that I’ve thought of. So (I’ll) take out a couple former champs and we can go from there.”

Do you think Kenney will beat Cruz? Or will this be a case of the veteran coming out on top?

Dominick Cruz: More People Tune Into The Prelims Than The Main Card

Dominick CruzFormer UFC Bantamweight champion, Dominick Cruz, is relishing being the featured prelim of the upcoming UFC 259 PPV event. Whilst claiming a coveted spot on the main card of an event is the dream of many an upcoming fighter, the experienced veteran in Cruz is realistic about what placement on a UFC card really entails. […]

Dominick Cruz

Former UFC Bantamweight champion, Dominick Cruz, is relishing being the featured prelim of the upcoming UFC 259 PPV event. Whilst claiming a coveted spot on the main card of an event is the dream of many an upcoming fighter, the experienced veteran in Cruz is realistic about what placement on a UFC card really entails.

In a recent interview with ESPN MMA’s Ariel Helwani, Cruz had the following to say about being on the prelims:

“That’s probably the most seen position on the entire fight card. I’ll have the most eyes on me. Like I said, I’ve had a pretty decent layoff, so let’s get me in front of a lot of eyes is what I’m thinking. At the same time, being on the prelims, that’s an ego thing. I’m not really attached to my ego at this point. I know what I am. I know the things that I’ve accomplished. It doesn’t affect me to be seen more, and I will. I’ll be seen more”(transcribed by Farah Hannoun).

“More people tune into that then they will the main card. I’m right before the main card so everybody is watching that one because it’s the end of the prelims. It’s kind of like the lead-off hitter of a baseball team. That’s usually the fight that people wanna see almost every time they put these fights together. I’m excited to be in that position.”

Cruz will face off against rising prospect Casey Kenny, at UFC 259. Following a controversial loss to former champion Henry Cejudo, ‘The Dominator’ is looking to remount a title shot at 135lbs.

How well do you think Dominick Cruz will fare against Kenny? Let us know in the comments.

Dominick Cruz Maintains Keith Peterson ‘100%’ Stopped His Fight With Henry Cejudo Prematurely

CruzFormer WEC and UFC bantamweight champion, Dominick Cruz returns on March 6 at UFC 259 — headlining the preliminary portion of the card against the streaking Casey Kenney, but a certain chip appears to remain on his shoulder following his knockout loss to former titleholder, Henry Cejudo last May. Replacing former featherweight kingpin, Jose Aldo […]

Cruz

Former WEC and UFC bantamweight champion, Dominick Cruz returns on March 6 at UFC 259 — headlining the preliminary portion of the card against the streaking Casey Kenney, but a certain chip appears to remain on his shoulder following his knockout loss to former titleholder, Henry Cejudo last May.

Replacing former featherweight kingpin, Jose Aldo on short-notice at UFC 249, Cruz made his Octagon return for the first time in three years following his title loss to Cody Garbrandt at UFC 207 — clashing with Cejudo for the bantamweight crown.

Dropping just his third professional loss against the former two-weight world champion and Olympic gold medalist, Cruz suffered a second round knockout defeat after eating catching a knee on the entry, before subsequent ground strikes. With just two-seconds remaining before the klaxon would sound, referee Keith Peterson separated the two — with Cejudo wheeling away in celebration. 

Speaking with UFC reporter, Megan Olivi afterwards, Cruz voiced his displeasure with Peterson’s stoppage, before controversially claiming the official had smelled like alcohol and cigarettes backstage as he gave his pre-fight instructions and laid out the ruleset. The San Diego native also questioned if it would be possible to veto a referee from officiating your fight in the future.

Touching on the stoppage defeat to Cejudo during a recent interview with ESPN MMA reporter, Ariel Helwani, Cruz claimed once more that Peterson stopped his fight prematurely.

I believe Keith Peterson gave him (Henry Cejudo) a nice gift with that (stoppage),” Cruz said. “I was, you know — yeah I got hurt and I shouldn’t have put myself in that position but I was — if you talk to the refs, and you talk to anybody — you have a couple things you need to do in order to keep the fight going. You need to be defending yourself and you need to be working into a better position. I was doing both of those things when the fight got stopped.

You can’t be knocked out when you’re standing up on your feet while someone’s hanging on you — like I was okay. So it was hard for me to get stopped when it wasn’t — it was a premature stoppage 100%. I don’t believe I lost that fight, I believe Keith Peterson took that fight. Now I say that, in the midst of somebody who always takes responsibility for their losses. I lost to Cody Garbrandt. I think I probably won two out of five of those rounds against Cody, but he won three out of five, so I would say he won that fight. And I take responsibility for losing that fight (against Garbrandt). This fight (against Cejudo) was different — that’s what was tough about it.

Cruz also explained how whilst he respects the athletic commission’s decision no matter what the outcome may be, he plans to request that Peterson doesn’t officiate his March 6 outing against Kenney.

I’m gonna definitely request — and I can only hope and pray that the commission honours my request to not have him (Keith Peterson) in my corner — or refereeing my fight,” Cruz told. “I can’t guarantee it, the commission does whatever they want and I respect them and their decisions, but I don’t believe he’s a competent ref with the way he treated my fight and the way he treated it before the fight happened.

The way that I saw him going through the rules in the back — I’ve never had a referee that I’ve had to say, ‘hold on, hold on, stop. Can you start all over again? I can’t understand anything you’re saying. And you’re not looking me in the eyes, are you here? Are you present?’ And I don’t know if he was nervous, or if he had something going on — but I never dealt with that. I’ve had twenty fights, twenty-five fights close to.

Thiago Santos Still Targeting UFC Gold, Will Compete Even In 40s

SantosIt might surprise some to learn that Thiago Santos is 37. However, the light heavyweight contender has no plans of stopping fighting just yet. Santos is on a two-fight losing streak following defeats to Jon Jones and Glover Teixeira. He will look to return to the win column when he faces Aleksandar Rakic at the […]

Santos

It might surprise some to learn that Thiago Santos is 37. However, the light heavyweight contender has no plans of stopping fighting just yet.

Santos is on a two-fight losing streak following defeats to Jon Jones and Glover Teixeira. He will look to return to the win column when he faces Aleksandar Rakic at the UFC 259 pay-per-view event taking place March 6.

Another setback could hinder his chances of contending for the title again.

However, even if that should happen, “Marreta” has plenty left in the tank as he will even compete in his forties to achieve his goal of becoming UFC champion.

“My goal is to become the UFC champion,” Santos told MMA Junkie. “I’m not in the UFC just to be in the UFC. I plan to fight past the age of 40. It all depends on how much my body can take. As long as I can have good performances, I’ll keep working at it.”

He won’t face an easy task in Rakic next who is 5-1 in the UFC and coming off a unanimous decision win over Anthony Smith.

However, given the Austrian’s skillset along with his own, Santos is expecting an “awesome” fight.

“Aleksandar is super tough,” Santos said. “He’s young. He’s scored several great wins in the UFC. He’s tall, strong, with a great reach. He hits hard. He has very good kickboxing, and uses takedowns and wrestling when necessary. I think it’s going to be an awesome fight.

“On fight night, I believe I’ll be a better version of myself, better than the one who fought Glover. I’m going to surprise everyone. Without a doubt, it’s going to be a great fight. Fans should not miss this one. We’re both very aggressive. I’m ready to bring home another win.”

As for his submission loss to Teixeira — in which he knocked down his fellow compatriot twice prior to losing — Santos believes his preparation was perfect going into the fight.

It was just ring rust that played a major factor, however.

“Against Glover, he did what he had to do,” Santos added. “He was very strategic. We knew what he was going to do. I trained hard for that bout. I was ready. My wrestling and jiu-jitsu were on point. By that time, I was fully recovered from COVID-19.

“What really weighed on me was the time away from the octagon. The lack of fight time made the difference. Glover deserves full credit. Now, I am completely focused on what’s ahead, on winning my next fight.”

Who do you think will win between Santos and Rakic?

Javier Mendez: Islam Makhachev Has All The Tools To Be The Next UFC Lightweight Champion

MakhachevAmerican Kickboxing Academy leader, Javier Mendez has already produced one UFC lightweight champion hailing from Russian in the form of current pacesetter, Khabib Nurmagomedov, and he now claims Khabib’s compatriot, Islam Makhachev is waiting in ‘The Eagle’s’ wings — capable of becoming the next lightweight titleholder. Scheduled to make his long-anticipated Octagon return, the streaking […]

Makhachev

American Kickboxing Academy leader, Javier Mendez has already produced one UFC lightweight champion hailing from Russian in the form of current pacesetter, Khabib Nurmagomedov, and he now claims Khabib’s compatriot, Islam Makhachev is waiting in ‘The Eagle’s’ wings — capable of becoming the next lightweight titleholder.

Scheduled to make his long-anticipated Octagon return, the streaking Makhachev draws fellow surging contender, Drew Dober at UFC 259 in two week’s time, slated to make his first UFC walk since September of 2019 at UFC 242. 

Makhachev was slated to headline a UFC Vegas 14 event in November against former lightweight champion, Rafael dos Anjos — with the matchup shelved for a second time after the former was stricken with a staph infection. Niteroi native, dos Anjos would go on to lodge a split decision win over short-notice replacement, Paul Felder at the event.

The 29-year-old has amassed a six-fight winning spree since his knockout loss to Adriano Martins at UFC 192 in October of 2015, and according to renowned head coach, Mendez, Makchaev has “all the tools” to score lightweight gold next.

Well, I wouldn’t call him (Islam Makhachev) the next Khabib (Nurmagomedov), I’d just call him the next Islam — which to me is the next champ,” Mendez said during a recent interview with Mike Swick on the Real Quick with Mike Swick show. “I think he has all the tools to be the next lightweight champion. And it’s just a matter of getting by Drew Dober which is no easy task.

Drew’s ranked higher in the rankings (than Makhachev),” Mendez said. “You know, he’s not ranked lower which he should be ranked lower cause he’s really that good. But for us, beating a Drew Dober which we’re planning on doing, is not gonna do a great deal for us, only because Drew’s ranking is too high.

Failing to secure another rebooking against dos Anjos, Mendez maintains an outing and victory over the former division gold holder would’ve benefited Makhachev more than a victory over Dober — predicting he would’ve earned the #7 rank at 155-pounds.

If we would’ve got RDA (Rafael dos Anjos) as was originally scheduled, that would’ve been a good one, because then they (the ranking committee) would’ve put him in the top-ten at least, I would say top-seven for damn sure if he had of beat RDA — which I believe he would’ve.

Entering his March 6th. outing against Dober riding a six-fight winning streak, Makhachev has taken decision wins over Chris Wade, Nik Lentz, fellow prospect, Arman Tsakuryan, and Davi Ramos, as well as an armbar win over Kajan Johnson and a knockout of Gleison Tibau. 

Elevation Fight Team mainstay, Dober is enjoying a rich vein of form as well — scoring a trio of knockout victories over Marco Polo Reyes, the highly-touted, Nasrat Haqparast, as well as a UFC Fight Night Jacksonville stoppage of Alexander Hernandez last May.