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Late Replacement Main Events: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

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Report: Conor McGregor vs. Dennis Siver Slated for January UFC Event on FOX Sports 1


(“Moi suit is made otta 100% albino python. And moi shoes didn’t come from Payless, I can assure ya dat.” / Photo via Getty)

MMAJunkie is reporting that UFC featherweight star Conor McGregor is being targeted to fight fellow 145′er Dennis Siver at a yet-to-be-announced event on January 18th, which could take place at Boston’s TD Garden. From the Junkie report:

The Jan. 18 event, which falls on a Sunday, would follow the NFL’s NFC Championship Game on FOX and air on FOX Sports 1, sources close to the event told MMAjunkie. A lightweight matchup is already rumored for the event; according to FOX’s “UFC Tonight,” Donald Cerrone will face off with Myles Jury.

Fresh off his one-round whoopin’ of Dustin Poirier at UFC 178, McGregor will be in attendance at the featherweight title fight between Jose Aldo and Chad Mendes this Saturday at UFC 179 in Rio de Janeiro, just in case one of them slips in the tub. And while McGregor also just offered to fight the opponent-less Diego Sanchez at UFC 180, the UFC would rather have “Notorious” face somebody in his own weight class, pick up another win before challenging for the belt, and let’s face it, make them some more money in front of a pro-Irish crowd.

Siver most recently won a three-round war against non-wiki-fighter Charles Rosa at UFC Fight Night 53 earlier this month, which followed a PED-fail-related no-contest against Manny Gamburyan and a loss to Cub Swanson. Siver is a dangerous striker and very experienced, but is he a step up from Poirier? Nah, not really.

Crazy fact: The UFC now has Jon Jones, Ronda Rousey, Anderson Silva, Nick Diaz, and Conor McGregor all scheduled to fight in January. I can only draw one conclusion — the world is going to end in February, and the Zuffa top brass is hiding this information from the public while they prepare their escape from this doomed planet. #questioneverything

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Why Nick Diaz Has Everything to Lose Against Anderson Silva at UFC 183


(Silva vs. Diaz fan-made poster, via Shawn James)

By legendary CagePotato commenter/lurker “Old, Bald and Irish”

Of all of the upcoming matchups on the horizon for the UFC, one of them stands above the rest: Nick Diaz versus Anderson Silva at UFC 183.

Now, if this match happened two years ago, the hype would be off the charts. But today, the MMA community is looking at this event with curiosity rather than fevered passion. Sure. Eyeballs will be on this fight — mostly to see what Anderson Silva will look like in the ring following his horrific injury. But Nick Diaz as his opponent? Eh…maybe not so much.

What the hell happened?

It was just a short year-and-a-half ago when the MMA world was going wild for UFC 158: St-Pierre vs. Diaz (aka UFC 158: CANADA!…America’s Hat). This was MMA alchemy at its finest. Georges had defended his belt seven times and was clearly the king of his weight class. Nick was the trash talkin’, dope smokin’, Nashville brawlin’ fanboy favorite.

UFC 158 pulled in 950,000 pay-per-view buys. Not too shabby, especially compared to the buyrates the UFC has been pulling in lately. Both guys had hardcore MMA fan heat going in, but after St-Pierre dismantled Diaz, it proved what we pretty much knew going into the fight: Georges is a better wrestler, striker and tactician than Diaz. Period.

After beating up a past-his-prime BJ Penn, the “super fight” with St. Pierre did nothing to help Nick’s reputation. Quite the contrary, it damaged it even more and showed why Diaz isn’t on anyone’s Top 10 P4P list anymore. Now, after retiring “for realz” and spending nearly two years out of the cage (*COUGH* “ring rust” *COUGH*) Diaz is coming back to take on one of, if not the, greatest fighter in MMA history. What?

I’m looking for Nick’s silver lining, but short of a pot-fueled-double-middle-fingered-gogoplata or a pants-shitting-KO, I don’t see an upside for the scrappy pugilist from Stockton. Let’s take a few moments to be negative bastards and look at the probable and unfortunate near-future for the elder Diaz…

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Full Fight Video: Felice Herrig Out Points Heather Clark (Again) on TUF 20


(Props: TheUltimateFighter on YouTube)

After a 2-week hiatus, TUF 20 returned last night with a much anticipated grudge rematch between #6 seed Felice Herrig and #11 Heather Clark. As luck would have it, the fight went down in very similar fashion to their first encounter, with Felice using her Muay Thai background to set up her consistently improving takedowns and generally outwork Clark all around. The UFC has made the full fight available via its Ultimate Fighter Youtube channel, so check it out above.

Also on last night’s episode, it was revealed that #9 seed Justine Kish had torn her ACL and would therefore be removed from the tournament. In her place, #3 Tecia Torres — who was upset by #14 Randa Markos back in episode 1 — was reinstated to face #8 Bec Rawlings in a later episode. The twist: Torres will now fight for Team Pettis, who are currently up five to nil over Team Melendez.

After the jump: Clark and Herrig continue their war of words on TUF Talk, which is apparently a thing that exists now.

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Late Replacement Main Events: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

By Jared Jones

In a year that has seen nine pay-per-view headliners slip through the UFC’s fingers, Cain Velasquez’s injury and subsequent removal from UFC 180 might the biggest blow of them all (I hear a nasty tumble down a flight of stairs is to blame for all this). The TUF curse has now gone international, folks, and while I’m not prepared to start nailing the UFC’s coffin shut, I will say that the champ’s most recent injury has cast an ominous shadow over the UFC’s first trip to Mexico.

Then again, the UFC was able to book a hell of a replacement opponent for Fabricio Werdum in Mark Hunt, and an interim title fight between the two is probably the best thing us fans could ask for, all things considered. Late replacement main events are always a mixed bag, but before we start rioting, let’s all take a deep breath and try to remember a few last-minute headliners that actually worked out…

The Good

UFC 128: Shogun vs. Jones


(This and all photos hereafter via Getty.)

That’s right, the event that marked the beginning of the end for light heavyweights with title aspirations was never meant to happen.

Having just ended the Machida Era™ at UFC 113 in stunning fashion, Mauricio Rua was actually scheduled to face Rashad Evans at UFC 128 until a knee injury forced the latter out of the contest. Rua, who had just had his own knee repaired following the Machida fight, was then matched up against a resurgent and likeable at the time contender named Jon Jones, who had unleashed an And-1 mixtape of asskicking on Ryan Bader just two events prior.

Although it was Rua who held the tremendous experience edge, it was Jones who would dominate the fight from start to finish. Flying knees, oblique kicks, and likely an eye poke or five from the challenger had Rua in defense mode until a particularly vicious knee put him away in the third round. Despite being called up to the biggest fight of his life on a month’s notice, Jones emerged a champion and sent a chilling message to the rest of the light heavyweight division.

That message: “Hey pussy, are you still there? None of you will ever defeat me.”

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Joe Lauzon Out of UFC 180 With Injury, Diego Sanchez Currently Without Opponent


(Photo by Esther Lin/MMAFighting)

The UFC’s debut event in Mexico continues to fall the hell apart. In the wake of Cain Velasquez‘s knee-related withdrawalFOX Sports has confirmed that lightweight veteran Joe Lauzon suffered an injury in training, and will not be able to attend his bloodburner™ against Diego Sanchez at UFC 180 (November 15th, Mexico City). If you’ll recall, Lauzon was himself an injury replacement for Norman Parke.

Sanchez’s appearance at UFC 180 is now up in the air. We’ll let you know if the UFC can find another white guy for him to fight on short notice. Oh, and remember how Goyito Perez was supposed to be on this card too? Well, not anymore. UFC 182 has gone from a showcase of Mexican talent to a Samoan fighting a Brazilian and a bunch of local TUF-guys with funny nicknames. Dios mio. Our suggestion: List Jessica Eye as Jessica ¡Aye! Yeah, I got nothin’.

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Ronda Rousey vs. Cat Zingano Confirmed for ‘UFC 182: Jones vs. Cormier’ on Jan. 3


(Rousey hasn’t exactly been pushed to her limits lately. Will Cat Zingano change that?/ Photo via Getty)

UFC president Dana White confirmed last night that bantamweight star Ronda Rousey will defend her title against top contender Cat Zingano in the co-main event of UFC 182: Jones vs. Cormier, January 3rd in Las Vegas.

Rousey has been recovering from a fourth knee surgery, which followed her 16-second knockout of Alexis Davis at UFC 175 in July. Zingano recently returned from her own extended layoff due to a knee injury — which robbed her of the chance to be a coach on TUF 18 and fight Rousey last year — and TKO’d Amanda Nunes last month at UFC 178.

And so, the UFC will get off to a blazing start in 2015 with its two most high-profile champions (Jones and Rousey) fighting on the same card, followed by the must-see circus-fight between Anderson Silva and Nick Diaz in the same damn month at UFC 183. That’s the plan at least. We’ll see what the injury bug has to say about it…

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And Now He’s Fired: Paulo Thiago Cut by UFC Following Three Straight Losses


(Paulo Thiago gets cracked by Sean Spencer during their fight in September. / Photo via Getty)

After losing his last three fights — and seven out of his last nine — Brazilian welterweight veteran Paulo Thiago has been released by the UFC. Thiago most recently competed at last month’s UFC Fight Night 51: Bigfoot vs. Arlovski, where he lost a unanimous decision to Sean Spencer on the prelims.

Thiago made his UFC debut in February 2009 as a 10-0 prospect, carrying a rad backstory as a B.O.P.E. supercop. He was immediately thrown to the wolves, drawing Josh Koscheck as his debut opponent at UFC 95. Koscheck was a heavy favorite to beat the unheralded newcomer. Instead, this happened:

Thiago dropped a decision to Jon Fitch in his next outing, but then posted back to back wins against Jacob Volkmann and Mike Swick. Suddenly, Paulo Thiago seemed like a legitimate threat in the welterweight division. Unfortunately, that was essentially his career peak in the UFC. He would never win two consecutive fights again, and the opponents he lost to went from top-of-the-food-chain (Martin Kampmann, Diego Sanchez) to pretty dangerous (Siyar Bahadurzada, Dong Hyun Kim) to downright obscure (Brandon Thatch, Gasan Umalatov). The last time people were talking about Paulo Thiago, it was because of his gig working security at the World Cup.

Before his latest loss to Sean Spencer, Thiago signed a new four-fight deal with the UFC, but of course, UFC contracts can be ended at any time by the promoter, because they’re not exactly “contracts” in the traditional sense; don’t get me started. Good luck with your next gig, Paulo.

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Here’s the Video of Conor McGregor Saying That Thing About His Balls and Chad Mendes’ Forehead


(Props: BTSport)

UFC featherweight contender Chad Mendes was doing a segment for BT Sport yesterday, just trying to hype his title fight rematch against Jose Aldo this Saturday at UFC 179. Then, disaster struck. Host Gareth A. Davies asked him if he had a message for Conor McGregor, who was conveniently in the studio at the time. In retrospect, Mendes should have declined the offer.

First, Mendes argues that he is in fact only three inches shorter than McGregor. Then, Mendes asks if the Irishman knows what wrestling is. “I can rest my balls on your forehead,” McGregor says, causing pandemonium among the partisans in the building. It’s the kind of diss you’d hear from a middle-schooler, but when delivered from the smoothie in the suit, it’s OMG THE MOST EPIC BURN EVER #SHOTSFIRED #GAMERGATE. McGregor goes on to brag that he’ll be bunking up with the Fertittas in their suite this weekend.

Poor Chad. I’m sure he’d much rather talk about the actual fight that’s happening three days from now, instead of hypothetical grudge matches against cereal mascots. But unfortunately, his opponent is pretty much M.I.A. from the promotional trail, except for random interviews about how he deserves more money.

Yes, there is a UFC PPV this weekend. The card looks like this. Who’s watching?

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Cain Velasquez Out of UFC 180 Main Event With Knee Injury, Mark Hunt To Face Fabricio Werdum for Interim Heavyweight Title


(Velasquez injured himself training — for the 1985 Bay Area Breakin’ Championships, son! / Photo via Getty)

As first reported by Yahoo!’s Kevin Iole, oft-injured heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez has withdrawn from his UFC 180 headlining fight against Fabricio Werdum due to another knee injury. Coming into replace him will be Mark Hunt (?!?), who will now fight Werdum for an interim heavyweight belt (?!!?!?!??!?!).

The injury is especially devastating for the UFC because Velasquez was slated to be the marquee face for the promotion’s debut event in Mexico, which goes down November 15th in Mexico City. Here’s what Velasquez had to say about his withdrawal in an official statement:

I’m so unbelievably disappointed that this happened. To say I was looking forward to fighting in Mexico for the first time is an understatement. I wanted to fight on that card so bad. Looks like it wasn’t meant to be and it’s not going to happen. I’m going to get my [right] knee fixed and get back to training as soon as I can. I’m sorry to the fans in Mexico who were expecting this fight, and I hope to be able to come down and still be a part of this historic event.

Velasquez hasn’t competed since his 5th-round TKO of Junior Dos Santos last October. This is the part of the blog post where normally I would recap all of the injuries that have befallen Velasquez during his time in the UFC, but I’ll just embed this tweet and spare myself the effort:

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Cung Le’s HGH Suspension Lifted by UFC Due to ‘Lack of Conclusive Laboratory Results’


(Photo via Getty)

After being suspended from competition for 12 months due to a positive test for excessive human growth hormone (HGH) following UFC Fight Night 48, UFC middleweight Cung Le went on a public campaign arguing that the testing protocols used by the UFC for its August event in Macau were completely sub-standard. Essentially, the UFC farmed out the work to a local lab that maybe didn’t know what it was doing and destroyed Le’s sample so he couldn’t appeal the result.

Fortunately, the UFC has done the right thing by rescinding the suspension, and Le is now free to fight again. Here’s the official statement from UFC.com:

At UFC Fight Night Macao on August 23rd, UFC contracted with an independent drug testing laboratory in Hong Kong to perform urinalysis testing on all fighters on the card. Additionally, UFC requested the laboratory to test blood samples from 4 fighters for human growth hormone (HGH), erythropoietin (EPO) and testosterone.

One of the athletes who had his blood tested was Cung Le. The laboratory results from Le’s blood test were sent to the UFC and showed that his blood had a total HGH level outside the reference range. Based on such results, UFC officials determined that Le had violated his promotional agreement and the UFC Fighter Conduct Policy. Consequently, UFC decided that Le should be suspended from unarmed combat competition for 12 months.

Following the announcement of Le’s suspension, UFC officials have been provided with medical advice regarding the elevated total HGH present in Le’s system. In accordance with such medical advice, UFC has determined that Le’s elevated total HGH by itself does not prove that he took performance-enhancing drugs before the August 23rd bout. As a result, UFC has informed Le that his suspension is rescinded.

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MMA Meme of the Day: Ballerinas Knocking Out MMA Fighters

Beauty and strength?

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TEAM USA Britain Bound: Henry Cejudo visits York Minster

Henry Cejudo Gets a Chance to Un-Screw Himself at Bantamweight, Booked For ‘UFC on FOX: Dos Santos vs. Miocic’

Prediction: Kimura via forfeit at 5:00 in the second round the day before the weigh-ins.

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Mayhem Miller Pleads Not Guilty to Resisting and Obstructing Officer Charges

Chris Weidman is truly the yin to Miller's yang.

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Croatian Boxer Knocks Out Referee, Is Dragged Out of the Ring by His Feet [UPDATED]

Things got a little out of hand yesterday at the European Youth Boxing Championship in Zagreb, Croatia, when a disgruntled Croat boxer named Vido Loncar went superheel and punched out a referee following his match against Algirdas Baniulis of Lithuania.

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UFC Berlin Weigh-in

Report: Alexander Gustafsson vs. Rashad Evans Likely for January UFC Event in Stockholm

Essentially, it's a fight that would clinch another title shot for Gustafsson if he wins, but wouldn't necessarily do the same thing for Evans.

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Read War Machine’s Suicide Note, Left at Jail Cell Hanging Attempt

"I hope you choose to remember me for my times of strength and not for this. Society has killed men. I was never meant to live in this era anyway. Follow your dreams and think for yourselves."

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Falling Tree Knockout of the Day: Damacio Page Annihilates Brian Hall at Legacy FC 36

It was one of those super creepy knockouts where Hall was totally unconscious, but his eyes remained open (aka, "The Living Death").

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UFC 111 Hosted By Dana White, Lorenzo Fertitta and Frank Fertitta III

Serious Question: Will the UFC Exist in 50 Years?

The UFC has bested all their serious competitors, and has a virtual monopoly on the top fighters in the sport. But a lot can happen between now and 2064.

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UFC Fight Night 27: Condit v Kampmann 2

And Now He’s “Semi-Retired”: Martin Kampmann’s Indecisive Retirement Speech

Martin Kampmann is in that "I'm not actually fighting anymore--but I'm NOT retired" phase.

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UFC Fight Night Weigh-in

Cringe-worthy Interview of the Day: CBS Interviews Arianny Celeste

Have you ever felt you were destined to be far more than just a model? More than just a pretty face gracing the covers of magazines?

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The ‘Pogo Stick of Doom’ Is The Only Bellator 129 GIF Worth Watching

What happened at the event? A whole lot of nothing, really.

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Friday Links: GSP Cleared to Train Again, Medieval Knight MMA, Brandon Vera Books First Post-UFC Fight + More

Some must-see highlights from our bros around the blogosphere.

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UFC 167: St-Pierre v Hendricks

Why Georges St-Pierre Should Stay Retired — For Everyone’s Sake

GSP returning to the UFC wouldn't help either side in the long run.

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And Now He’s Fired: TUF 14 Alum Steven Siler Given the Boot Following Three-Fight Skid

"I wanna thank the @UFC @danawhite @seanshelby for everything, I will be back in the UFC I'm not done yet."

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MMA GIFs of the Day: Two Brutal Soccer Kick Knockouts From ONE FC 21

There's only one good reason to watch ONE FC events — the chance to see a knockout that would be totally illegal on this side of the Pacific.

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Bellator 129 Weigh-Ins Were a Friggin’ Disaster; Event Will Now Feature a 168-Pound Women’s Bout

You know you're dealing with a high-level MMA event when seven of the 11 bouts on the card are catchweights.

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Chris Weidman Saves 92-Year Old Neighbor’s Life, Seems Pretty Chill About It [UPDATED]

Move over Good Guy Dos Santos, there's a newer, *gooder* samaritan in town.

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War Machine Now Looking to Make a Plea Deal to Avoid Life in Prison [UPDATED]

Despite War Machine's insistence that he was defending himself against an ambush and Christy Mack and Corey Thomas "got what they deserved," the UFC/Bellator veteran is now hoping to make a plea deal to avoid being buried by the 30+ charges he faces stemming from the alleged savage beating of his girlfriend in August and previous incidents of domestic violence.

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UFC 169: Barao v Faber

Urijah Faber vs. Francisco Rivera, Renan Barao vs. Mitch Gagnon Booked for December UFC Cards

I'm not exactly sure how Faber vs. Rivera makes sense, but the opportunity to watch Faber strangle somebody is the kind of gift that you don't question.

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Hot Potato: 22 Photos of MMA Ring Girl Brittany Rhea

Brittany Rhea is a 20-year-old model and ring girl from Mississippi who has held round cards for Bellator and Attitude MMA, among many other gigs.

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