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Tag: UFC bookings

Anthony Pettis vs. Gilbert Melendez Lightweight Title Fight Slated for UFC Year-End Event


(Props: Anthony Pettis’s Facebook page)

During a news conference in Puerto Rico* yesterday, UFC president Dana White announced that the Anthony Pettis vs. Gilbert Melendez lightweight title fight will take place at the promotion’s traditional year-end event, which will likely go down December 27th in Las Vegas. Of course, the two fighters will see a lot of each other before then, as they’ve already been booked to coach TUF 20: The Strawweights, which begins airing in September.

Pettis hasn’t competed since UFC 164 last August, when he won the UFC lightweight belt off of Benson Henderson with a first-round armbar. Due to a subsequent knee injury and surgery, he’s been sidelined ever since — meaning that he’ll be taking on Melendez after a 16-month layoff. Melendez’s layoff will be almost as long. He last competed at UFC 166 in October, winning a unanimous decision against Diego Sanchez in a Fight of the Year candidate. Then, he almost wound up in Bellator. Long story.

* So what was the UFC doing in Puerto Rico, you ask? Well, the promotion is laying some groundwork to return there for the first time since UFC 8 — the February 1996 event where Gary Goodridge famously did this to Paul Herrera. An event date hasn’t been established, but Dana White guaranteed the UFC will hold an event in Puerto Rico in 2015, and said that Pettis (who is of Puerto Rican descent) will be involved.

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UFC Fight Night 42 in Albuquerque Adds Dodson vs. Moraga Rematch, Return of Sergio Pettis


(John Dodson throws some straight-up Street Fighter 2 shit at Tim Elliott back at UFC on FOX 3. / Photo via Tracy Lee)

Unsurprisingly, the fight lineup for UFC Fight Night 42: Henderson vs. Khabilov (June 7th, Albuquerque) is loading up with Southwestern talent. Two more noteworthy matchups were added today

- Former UFC flyweight title challengers John Dodson and John Moraga will face off at UFC Fight Night 42, for the second time in their careers. Dodson and Moraga previously met at the infamously terrible Nemesis MMA: Global Invasion card in the Dominican Republic back in 2010; Dodson won a unanimous decision and most likely didn’t get paid a damn penny for his efforts. Now, the two Johns are doin’ it again for actual money, in front of actual people. Just like the main event, this matchup pits a local Greg Jackson/Albuquerque fighter (Dodson, Khabilov) vs. an Arizona-based fighter (Moraga, Henderson).

- In bantamweight news, 20-year-old prospect Sergio Pettis will try to rebound from his hype-deflating January loss against Alex Caceres when he takes on Yaotzin Meza — another Arizona-based fighter and teammate of Ben Henderson at MMA Lab in Glendale. Meza is 1-2 in the UFC, most recently dropping a decision to Chico Camus, making this one of those “loser might not get fired, but why take a chance?” kind of fights.

Southwestern MMA fans, check in: Are you excited for this one so far, and what other New Mexico/Arizona talent would you like to see on the card?

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Gegard Mousasi vs. Mark Munoz Booked as Main Event of UFC Fight Night Berlin on May 31st


(That was basically my reaction to this booking. / Photo via MMAJunkie)

The UFC Fight Night Berlin show on May 31st was originally supposed to be headlined by a “high-level featherweight contest.” Then, German 145′er Dennis Siver tested positive for a testicle-regrowing serum, and that idea pretty much flew out the window. So, new plan: How about a “winner almost leaves town” match between the last two middleweights to be beaten up by Lyoto Machida?

As announced today by the UFC UK twitter account, Gegard Mousasi vs. Mark Munoz will serve as the five-round main event for UFC Fight Night Berlin. The event will be broadcast on Fight Pass, so you’d have to be a super-hardcore fan to even have the ability to watch this fight if you wanted to. As for the local German fans…sorry guys, this is a rough one. It’s not like Mousasi and Munoz aren’t talented, exciting fighters, but there’s virtually nothing at stake in the matchup and there’s no local hook. Sheila Gaff vs. Benjamin Brinsa would have made more sense here.

Anyway, don’t blame us, blame Dennis Siver’s testicles. We’ll let you know if/when any other notable folks are added to the card.

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Matt Brown vs. Erick Silva, Junior Dos Santos vs. Stipe Miocic Added to May UFC Events


(Brown poses with his two primary investors in Topless Broad FC. / Photo via @IamTheImmortal)

After a poorly-timed back injury robbed him of a chance to fight Carlos Condit in December, Matt Brown will be returning to action on May 10th for UFC Fight Night 40 in Cincinnati. The UFC confirmed yesterday that Brown will headline the event against Brazilian welterweight Erick Silva, who thoroughly styled on Takenori Sato last month at UFC Fight Night 36: Machida vs. Mousasi.

Brown has put together six consecutive wins over the last two years, tying him for the fourth-longest active win streak in the UFC. While it might not be totally logical to match him up against an opponent who’s been steadily alternating between wins and losses during that same time period, you can’t really complain about a booking like this, which pretty much guarantees an insane level of action, and at least one POTN bonus being handed out.

Useless fact: Brown vs. Silva will mark the first time that Brown has competed in his home state of Ohio since his destruction of Pete Sell in March 2009, and the first time that Silva has competed outside of Brazil since his submission win against Charlie Brenneman in June 2012.

In other booking news…

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Scratch That — Daniel Cormier Will Compete at UFC 170, Against 4-0 Prospect Patrick Cummins


(Ladies and gentlemen, I give you…Durkin? What does that even mean? / Photo via MMAJunkie)

When Rashad Evans pulled out of his scheduled UFC 170 match against Daniel Cormier, Cormier was devastated. “I don’t want this work to be for nothing,” he told Ariel Helwani. “I’ve killed myself in this gym. I’ve spent ten weeks away from my family…I’d fight Chael in a heartbeat. I’d fight Anthony Johnson in a heartbeat. I’d fight any of those guys. There’s somebody out there who wants to fight. Line ‘em up…I just want to fight now.”

And so, in an apparent move to keep him happy, the UFC has allowed Cormier to remain on the February 22nd “Rousey vs. McMann” lineup. No, he won’t be fighting Chael Sonnen, or Rumble Johnson, or anybody else you’ve heard of. Instead, Cormier will fight 4-0 light-heavyweight prospect Patrick Cummins, who will be making his Octagon debut.

A former two-time All American wrestler for Penn State, Cummins trains out of Mark Munoz’s Reign MMA gym in Orange County, and he’s finished all four of his pro fights in the first round. Cormier, of course, is one of the greatest MMA fighters in the world. Be sure to tune in, folks, because you might not see a bigger squash match all year. Seriously, how in the hell did the Nevada State Athletic Commission approve this friggin’ thing? KEITH, GET BACK HERE!

Desperate times call for desperate measures, I guess. Not that Cormier vs. Cummins is going to jack up the buyrate for this zombie card, but at least the entire show won’t rest on Ronda Rousey‘s shoulders now. Your thoughts?

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Khabib Nurmagomedov Finally Gets an Opponent to Say ‘Yes’, Will Face Rafael Dos Anjos at UFC on FOX 11


(The first guy to show any form of emotion has to buy dinner. / Props: Khabib Nurmagomedov’s Instagram)

It’s funny how life works out sometimes. You accept a fight against “the Russian,” thinking you’ve been offered a match against the UFC’s undefeated Dagestani phenom, Khabib Nurmagomedov. Instead, you find out you’ll actually be facing Rustam Khabilov, a still-dangerous but slightly-less-established Russian. Disappointment washes over you. But then, Khabilov suffers an undisclosed injury and you get to fight the Russian you thought you were going to fight in he first place. Hollywood couldn’t write it any better.

That inspirational story has just played out in the life of Rafael Dos Anjos, who was originally slated to fight Khabilov at UFC 170, and will now be fighting Nurmagomedov at the increasingly-stacked UFC on FOX 11: Werdum vs. Browne (April 19, Orlando). UFC officials confirmed the booking yesterday. Dos Anjos has won his last five fights, most recently a unanimous decision win against Donald Cerrone in August. Nurmagomedov has won his last 21 (!) fights, and has been inactive since September as other top UFC lightweights tried to justify why they weren’t fighting him. Dos Anjos may not have been on Nurmagomedov’s 2014 to-do list, but in the absence of any other options, this is a pretty solid matchup.

In addition to the heavyweight headliner, Miesha Tate vs. Liz Carmouche, and Donald Cerrone vs. Edson Barboza, UFC on FOX 11 will also feature a middleweight battle between the streaking Brad Tavares and Cuban knockout machine Yoel Romero, and a lightweight meeting between Pat Healy (aka, the last guy Nurmagomedov beat) and Jorge Masvidal (aka, the last guy Khabilov beat). If you’ve got predictions, fire away.

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Barnburner Alert: Donald Cerrone vs. Edson Barboza Added to UFC on FOX 11


(Bitches be like “#nomakeup #nofilter” / Photo via @cowboycerrone)

Fresh off his latest Knockout of the Night performance against Adriano Martins at UFC on FOX 10, Donald Cerrone will be back on network television two months from now when he faces Edson Barboza at UFC on FOX 11: Browne vs. Werdum (April 19th, Orlando). The lightweight bout was confirmed by FOX Sports yesterday.

Known for his savage kicks — of both the leg and wheel varieties — Barboza went on a 3-0 run in 2013, culminating with a comeback decision win against Danny Castillo at UFC on FOX 9, which won him Fight of the Night honors. Cerrone and Barboza are unquestionably two of the most entertaining fighters in the lightweight division, but aren’t currently “in the mix” when it comes to title shot consideration. An impressive win for either fighter could change that. Your predictions, please.

In a related story, Khabib Nurmagomedov has tweeted out a frowny face.

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Chael Sonnen vs. Wanderlei Silva Booked for UFC 173 Co-Main Event


(…let us never forget the Battle of the MGM Grand, and the brave American who gave his life that day. / Props: Facebook.com/ChaelSonnen)

As confirmed this weekend by UFC president Dana White, UFC 173: Weidman vs. Belfort (May 25th, Las Vegas) will be supported by another high-profile American vs. Brazilian rivalry. Fresh off their unsanctioned fight on the set of TUF Brazil 3, Chael Sonnen and Wanderlei Silva will meet in the co-main event, at light-heavyweight. And for once, the phrase “grudge match” isn’t just promotional hot air; don’t expect these two to hug it out like homeboys after the fight is over.

Of course, there’s more at stake here than personal animosity. Wanderlei Silva has been competing professionally for over 17 years (!), and is coming off his bar-brawl KO of Brain Stann last March. A victory over Sonnen would give Silva two wins in a row for the first time in his UFC career. A loss would inevitably invoke calls for his retirement. That’s just the reality for a 37-year-old legend in a young man’s game.

Sonnen — who is a year younger than Silva and has been competing for nearly as long — recently got smoked by Rashad Evans at UFC 167. The American Gangster already has a promising broadcasting career in front of him, and a decisive loss against Wandy could speed up his transition out of the sport. So who are you pulling for?

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Booking Alert: Chris Weidman Will Face Vitor Belfort at UFC 173


(Chris Weidman cheers on NSAC officials as they deliberate. / Photo via Getty)

Chris Weidman‘s first middleweight title defense against someone not named Anderson Silva will take place at UFC 173 on May 24th. Weidman will be facing the young dinosaur Vitor Belfort, who is on a three-fight winning streak and most recently became the first man to knock out Dan Henderson at UFC Fight Night 32.

Of note: The fight is taking place in Las Vegas. Belfort’s last three fights were located in Brazil. Conspiratorially minded individuals suspected this clever booking had something to do with Belfort’s much-maligned TRT use. When venerable MMA journalist Kevin Iole tried to separate himself from Dana White’s cheerleaders (aka the MMA media) and call attention to the issue, he was reprimanded.

The TRT issue will, in some ways, overshadow the combatants and the other narratives present in the fight—Weidman coming into his own as champion after definitely proving his superiority over Silva, Belfort’s resurgence as a top contender, etc. The Nevada State Athletic Commission is unsure of whether they’ll award Belfort a therapeutic use exemption, while Dana White has switched stances on the TRT issue. He’s now hoping the commission denies Belfort’s TUE request and TRT gets banned from MMA. Go figure.

It’s going to be an interesting spring.

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Michael Johnson vs. Melvin Guillard Booked as New UFC Fight Night 37 Co-Main Event, With Ross Pearson Out Due to Knee Injury


(“Wait, so Ross Pearson’s not on this card anymore? F*ck it, I’m not going.” — Nobody. / Photo via Getty)

UFC officials confirmed this morning that Ross Pearson has pulled out of his lightweight do-over fight against Melvin Guillard at UFC Fight Night 37: Gustafsson vs. Manuwa (March 8th, London) due to a knee injury suffered in training. Details about the exact nature and recovery time of Pearson’s injury are scarce, though Pearson claims that he’ll require surgery.

I know what you’re thinking: Does this mean that Ilir Latifi vs. Cyrille Diabate gets bumped up to the UFC Fight Night 37 co-main event? LOL, of course not. Luckily, the UFC has already found a replacement for Pearson — Michael Johnson, who’s coming off an impressive knockout of Gleison Tibau at UFC 168, and has been calling out Nate Diaz and Khabib Nurmagomedov since then in an attempt to land a big fight. And while those call-outs may have been slightly premature, a decisive win against Guillard could go a long way in making Johnson’s case as a contender worthy of top competition.

Johnson vs. Guillard has a personal hook to it as well. The two hard-hitting 155′ers were Blackzilian training partners for a while, until Guillard left the crew. A few months later, Guillard took some shots at Johnson on Twitter for no apparent reason. Your predictions for this one, please.

“Gustafsson vs. Manuwa” will air on UFC Fight Pass (unfortunately), and will also feature Brad Pickett vs. Ian McCall and the return of Gunnar Nelson.

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