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Dillashaw vs. Barao 2, Rampage vs. Maldonado, Bisping vs. Dollaway Confirmed for UFC 186


(Former UFC light-heavyweight champion. Undefeated in Bellator. High-score on the Pop-a-Shot. / Photo via Getty)

It’s official: UFC 186 (April 25th, Montreal) will be headlined by a rematch between bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw and ex-champ Renan Barao, and will also feature the UFC return of Quinton “Rampage” Jackson against “The Iron Hillbilly” (actual nickname!) Fabio Maldonado. Both matchups were previously rumored last week, but UFC president Dana White confirmed them yesterday during an appearance on TSN’s SportsCenter.

But that’s not all, folks. White confirmed five more matchups for the card, which are as follows…

Rory MacDonald vs. Hector Lombard: Yeah, we already knew about this one. The winner gets the next welterweight title shot. Or maybe the Hendricks/Brown winner gets it. Or maybe Kelvin Gastelum gets it? Cripes, who knows.

Michael Bisping vs. CB Dollaway: Bisping is coming off his guillotine-choke loss to Luke Rockhold at that nutso Sydney card, while Dollaway was recently blown up by Lyoto Machida. Fun fact: Bisping hasn’t won two fights in a row since 2011.

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Carla Esparza vs. Joanna Jedrzejczyk Strawweight Title Fight Set for UFC 185 Co-Main Event; Pearson vs. Stout Also Added


(“After I won The Ultimate Fighter, they told me I could pick any three toys from the middle shelf.” / Photo via Getty)

TUF 20 winner Carla Esparza will make her first UFC strawweight title defense against undefeated Polish striker Joanna Jedrzejczyk, in the co-main event of UFC 185: Pettis vs. Dos Anjos (March 14th, Dallas). The booking was announced yesterday on UFC Tonight.

Esparza won the UFC’s inaugural strawweight title with her third-round rear-naked choke submission of Rose Namajunas at the TUF 20 Finale in December. “Cookie Monster” was the #1 seed in the TUF 20 bracket due to her previous stint in Invicta FC, where she nabbed that promotion’s strawweight title as well.

Jedrzejczyk is 8-0 professionally and 2-0 in the UFC, with decision wins over Juliana Lima and Claudia Gadelha. A four-time IFMA Muay Thai European champion, J-Jed is perhaps best known for getting up in her opponents’ faces during weigh-ins and eating a late punch during her last fight against Gadelha.

Even though Johny Hendricks vs. Matt Brown is arguably a more high-profile fight, Esparza vs. Jedrzejczyk will fill UFC 185′s co-main event spot due to a title being on the line; that’s just how it works. In other UFC 185 booking news…

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Henry Cejudo (Tentatively) Returns to Flyweight, Meets Chris Cariaso at UFC 185


(Henry Cejudo [right] roughs up Dustin Kimura during their fight at UFC on FOX 13. / Photo via Getty)

After winning his UFC debut at bantamweight last month, Henry Cejudo has decided to throw caution to the wind and return to flyweight for his next bout. The 2008 Olympic freestyle wrestling gold medalist will meet former flyweight title challenger Chris Cariaso at UFC 185: Pettis vs. Dos Anjos (March 14th, Dallas), according to UFC officials.

The 125-pound limit has not been Cejudo’s friend during his budding MMA career. A series of blown weigh-ins and sudden fight withdrawals culminated in him pulling out of his originally scheduled UFC flyweight debut at UFC 177 due to a bad weight cut. The UFC agreed to give Cejudo another chance at bantamweight, and he won a decision over Dustin Kimura at UFC on FOX 13 in December.

Which begs the question: Why mess with a good thing? Why not see how far you can get at bantamweight before putting your career and health at risk once again chasing 125? From what we can gather, Cejudo’s TKO win over flyweight super-jobber Miguelito Marti at Gladiator Challenge: American Dream in May 2013 was the only time that Cejudo has ever successfully made 125 pounds in an MMA fight. And now he’s going to try again, God help him, while taking a gigantic step up in competition against one of the top ten flyweights in the world. What?

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UFC Booking Alert: Rory MacDonald vs. Hector Lombard at UFC 186


(Photo via Getty)

Rory MacDonald‘s next fight will be against the resurgent Cuban judoka and former Bellator middleweight champ, Hector Lombard at UFC 186 in Montreal this April. The initial report came from Vendetta Fighter, but was later confirmed by MMA Fighting.

Late last year, Fans and pundits alike thought MacDonald would face the winner of Robbie Lawler vs. Johny Hendricks II. A controversial decision in Lawler’s favor put the brakes on that since it forced the UFC to book a trilogy between the two welterweights.

MacDonald, left without a dancing partner, will face off with one of the top welterweights in the division in Lombard. We like to think UFC matchmaker Joe Silva booked this fight based on both fighters’ terrible nicknames. We’ve got Rory “The Waterboy” “Ares” “The Red King” vs. Hector “Lightning” “Showweather” Lombard. Ugh. How about the loser AND winner take their nicknames out back and shoot them?

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Lyoto Machida vs. Luke Rockhold to Headline UFC on FOX 15, April 18th in Newark


(Fun fact: “Lyoto” is Japanese-Brazilian for “Luke.” Crazy, right? And not at all accurate! / Props: FOX Sports/Getty)

A match between top-five ranked middleweight contenders Lyoto Machida and Luke Rockhold will serve as the main event of UFC on FOX 15, April 18th at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. MMAFighting.com first reported the booking, which was confirmed by Rockhold himself on Instagram.

Machida is fresh off his 62-second squashing of CB Dollaway at UFC Fight Night 58 in December, which was the Dragon’s first Octagon appearance since his unsuccessful (but fantastic) title challenge against Chris Weidman last July. Rockhold is coming off a 3-0 run in 2014, where he scored stoppage wins over Costa Philippou, Tim Boetsch, and Michael Bisping.

After months of politely suggesting the matchup, Lyoto Machida finally has the opponent he wants, and we’re psyched about it. No other bouts have been reported for UFC on FOX 15 yet; we’ll let you know when that changes.

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Alistair Overeem vs. Roy Nelson Added to ‘UFC 185: Pettis vs. Dos Anjos’


(Nelson’s decision to fight in March makes a 2016 presidential bid even less likely. / Photo via Getty)

In another classic matchup of tall muscular guy vs. short pudgy guy, UFC officials announced yesterday that a heavyweight slugfest between Alistair Overeem and Roy Nelson has been booked for UFC 185: Pettis vs. Dos Anjos, March 14 at the American Airlines Center in Dallas.

Nelson (20-10, 7-6 UFC) most recently fell victim to a Mark Hunt walkoff KO last September at UFC Fight Night 52. It was just the second knockout loss in Nelson’s career. Meanwhile, Overeem (38-14 w/1 no-contest, 3-3 UFC) bounced back to the victory column with a first-round knockout of Stefan Struve last month at UFC on FOX 13. Loser gets Lesnar, maybe?

No other fights have been announced yet for UFC 185, besides the main event. We’ll let you know when that changes.

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Donald Cerrone vs. Benson Henderson III Set for UFC Fight Night 59, With Eddie Alvarez Injured


(“Hell, I was probably gonna beat someone up that weekend anyway.” / Photo via Getty)

Donald Cerrone just clinched the 2015 UFC Employee of the Year award. After literally kicking Myles Jury’s ass this weekend at UFC 182, Cerrone has agreed to face Benson Henderson 13 days from now (!?) at UFC Fight Night 59: McGregor vs. Siver, January 18th in Boston. Henderson’s original opponent Eddie Alvarez has pulled out of the fight due to injury. UFC president Dana White confirmed the switch this evening on Instagram, but didn’t provide any details on Alvarez’s condition.

Cerrone and Henderson already fought twice back in the WEC, with Henderson winning their first meeting by unanimous decision in a 2009 Fight of the Year candidate (but getting lumped up nevertheless), and Henderson finishing Cerrone with a first-round guillotine choke during their 2010 rematch. Of course, Cerrone is currently on the most impressive hot streak of his career, and has made noticeable improvements to his game as of late. On the other hand, fighting Bendo on a two-week layoff?? My God.

The fight will mark Cerrone’s seventh UFC appearance in the last 14 months. Get that money, Cowboy.

Update: MMAFighting reports that Alvarez’s withdrawal is flu-related. “Alvarez’s sickness resulted in weight loss and stopped him from training. He apparently tried to fight through it, but he felt worse on Monday and was forced to pull out of the bout.”

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Holly Holm vs. Raquel Pennington Re-Booked for UFC 184


(Photo via WomensMMA)

Undefeated bantamweight contender Holly Holm was supposed to make her UFC debut against Raquel Pennington earlier this month at UFC 181, but a neck injury knocked her out of the fight. Now it appears that Holm vs. Pennington has been rescheduled for UFC 184: Weidman vs. Belfort (February 28th, Los Angeles), according to an MMAJunkie report.

The delay turned out to be the best thing for this matchup. Originally, Holm vs. Pennington seemed like a cruel mismatch — and then Pennington damn near murdered Ashlee Evans-Smith, her replacement opponent at UFC 181. Pennington will still be a steep underdog here, but she proved that she’s not to be taken lightly. Also, Holm vs. Pennington will now take place on the same card as the bantamweight title fight between Ronda Rousey and Cat Zingano, which will make any post-fight callouts a little more interesting.

UFC 184 is shaping up to be the best card of the UFC’s loaded January/February schedule. The current lineup is…

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Rashad Evans vs. Glover Teixeira Might Be Headlining UFC Fight Night 61 in Porto Alegre, Brazil


(Photo props: Ryan Loco)

Former UFC light-heavyweight champion Rashad Evans will return from a 15-month hiatus when he faces Glover Teixeira in the main event of UFC Fight Night 61, February 22nd at Gigantinho Gymnasium in Porto Alegre, Brazil. Or, maybe Evans vs. Teixeira won’t headline that card. The matchup was first reported by Globo today, but the problem is, Teixeira hasn’t been medically cleared to train:

Teixeira’s manager, Jorge Guimaraes, has called the report premature. Guimaraes says that Teixeira, who was medically suspended after his UFC 179 loss to Phil Davis, has yet to be cleared to return to competition by Brazil’s athletic commission.

“Glover hasn’t even been cleared to fight on that date yet by the athletic commission due to his injuries,” Guimaraes told MMAFighting.com’s Ariel Helwani.

Teixeira caught a 45-day medical suspension following UFC 179 on October 25th, which should be complete by now — so maybe he’s dealing with new injuries that we don’t know about. At any rate, Rashad Evans vs. Glover Teixeira seems like a somewhat necessary meeting between one fighter who hasn’t competed all of 2014 due to a knee injury, and another fighter who lost both his fights in 2014 after winning 20 straight.

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Ryan Bader vs. Phil Davis Booked for UFC on FOX 14 in Sweden


(Photo via Getty)

UFC on FOX 14: Gustafsson vs. Johnson (January 24th, Stockholm) has just added another bout between top-ten ranked light-heavyweights. The UFC confirmed this morning that Ryan Bader and Phil Davis will also throw down on the main card.

Since being TKO’d by Glover Teixeira in September 2013, Bader has scored three consecutive unanimous decision wins against Anthony Perosh, Rafael Cavalcante, and Ovince St. Preux. Davis most recently outpointed Teixeira last month at UFC 179, which followed a decision loss to Anthony Johnson, who is main-eventing the 1/24 card against Alexander Gustafsson, who lost to Phil Davis back in 2010, before they became buddies. Basically, everybody in the UFC light-heavyweight division has shared bodily fluids at this point.

The UFC on FOX 14 lineup currently looks like this…

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