LAS VEGAS – The battle of the UFC’s young and unbeaten knockout artists was no contest.
From the moment the bell rang, Cody Garbrandt was dominant over Thomas Almeida in the main event of their bantamweight fight Sunday at the Mandalay Bay Events Center.
They entered the bout a combined 29-0 and were seen as the future of the 135-pound division. Almeida, who was 21-0, was ranked fourth, though Garbrandt was unranked.
But in racking up his ninth win in as many tries, Garbrandt pretty much guaranteed that he’ll be way up in the rankings when they come out later in the week.
“When the lights are shining, that’s when I’m at my best,” Garbrandt said.
Garbrandt knocked Almeida out with a brutal right cross that sent the Brazilian crashing to the canvas. The super aggressive Garbrandt could have pulled a Mark Hunt and simply walked away, because it was obviously over the moment that right landed.
But Garbrandt was amped and out to make a point and he followed Almeida to the floor before referee “Big” John McCarthy dove in to stop it. The time of the finish was 2:53 of the first.
Almeida was never in the fight. He was backing up from the moment the bell rang and didn’t land, or really throw, anything of consequence.
Garbrandt’s power dictated this fight.
“I’m the hardest hitter in the division and I’ll knock anybody out, [champion] Dominick Cruz or whoever,” Garbrandt said.
Cruz, who fights Garbrandt’s teammate Urijah Faber in the co-main event of UFC 199 on Saturday, is a totally different story.
But Garbrandt proved he belongs with the best of them at 135. He’s got a solid wrestling base, good quickness and heavy hands.
He was clearly irritated that he wasn’t ranked prior to this fight, and noted that Almeida’s record was built on soft opponents. Almeida came into the fight with numerous highlight reel knockouts, and his finish of Anthony Birchak in November is still talked about with reverence.
Garbrandt predicted an early KO and delivered on his promise.
“Can I get some respect now?” he shouted to the media at cageside, hoping to be ranked.
It’s a pretty good bet he’ll get his wish.
Former UFC heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum will look to get back on track to regain his championship when he faces Ben Rothwell at UFC 203 from the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland on Sept. 10. The announcement came during the UFC Fight Night 88 main card on Fox Sports 1.
Werdum will be on the same card with the man who knocked him out to take his title at UFC 198 as Stipe Miocic will headline in his hometown against Alistair Overeem for the UFC heavyweight championship.
The Brazilian will look to reset after losing for the first time in seven fights when Miocic dropped him with one punch. Before then, Werdum had one of most intriguing stories in MMA. After losing to Overeem in 2011 at the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix, he appeared to turn a corner and peeled off six straight victories that culminated in beating Cain Velasquez for the UFC heavyweight title at UFC 188 last June.
His opponent has experienced a similar resurgence over the past few years. Rothwell had won four straight fights after lingering in heavyweight mediocrity and was on the cusp of a title shot until he dropped a unanimous decision to Junior dos Santos in April. Before then, Rothwell strung together four straight finishes against the likes of Brandon Vera, Alistair Overeem, Matt Mitrione and Josh Barnett.
The winner will likely be placed right back into the thick of the heavyweight title hunt.
The number of celebrities who support Donald Trump continues to grow as UFC Hall of Famer and current Bellator fighter Tito Ortiz has now publicly endorsed the presumptive GOP presidential nominee.
The 41-year-old was spotted in attendance at a Trump rally in Anaheim, Calif., this week. His appearance caused a stir as Ortiz was pictured holding a sign that said, “Hillary Clinton Killed My Friends,” and later joined in a “build that wall” chant.
Ortiz, whose father is from Mexico, posted a picture on Instagram alongside Donald Trump with the caption “Proud to support @RealDonaldTrump #Trump2016 #MakeAmericaGreatAgain.” Some took issue with Ortiz’s support of Trump considering the Republican candidate’s stance on immigration laws. However, Ortiz is just one of many from the Latino community who support Trump.
“History will repeat itself,” Ortiz posted on Instagram with an image that showed the similarities between Trump and former president Ronald Reagan. “I want safe borders. I want our country not to be lied too [sic] and our troops too [sic] have faith in our leader.”
Ortiz joins others from the MMA community, which includes UFC president Dana White, UFC Hall of Famer Randy Couture, former middleweight champion Chris Weidman and current UFC women’s bantamweight champion Miesha Tate, in endorsing the business tycoon-turned-presidential candidate.
Ortiz isn’t a fly-by-night supporter who is simply hopping on the bandwagon. The former contestant on "Celebrity Apprentice" called himself a Trump supporter back in January when he appeared on "In The Loop."
"I’m a Trump guy,” Ortiz said. “I wasn’t in the beginning, of course. I’m Mexican, when he said we need to take all the Mexicans out of United States … well good luck on that one. They’ll find a way to get back here anyways. But, you know in the long run, I think he wants to bring money back to our country and with the debt that we are in, I think he has an opportunity to do that."
Ortiz has long been a supporter of the troops and has been vocal about his distaste of Hillary Clinton. He’s also in favor of Trump’s stern immigration laws as it pertains to “radicals” and “Muslims.” At the rally, Ortiz can be seen seated just behind Trump and his appearance caused a stir on social media. “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” certainly didn’t shy away from the attention.
“For all the haters ignorance is bliss,” Ortiz later tweeted. “But the #TrumpTrain is gaining ground. @latinos4Trump @Women4Trump @immigrant4trump #Trump2016.”
When Paige VanZant entered the "Dancing With The Stars" competition, the 22-year-old wasn’t sure that her ability on the dance floor would match her skill as a mixed martial artist.
But as the show entered its finale, VanZant not only proved that she was a competent dancer, she ended up posting a near-perfect score in her final routine that brought two of the judges and her dance partner to tears and ended up securing a second-place finish in season 22 of the dance competition.
VanZant and her partner Mark Ballas performed the salsa and a freestyle dance that captivated the judges. The salsa performance, which was the duo’s pick during the “redemption” stage when Ballas had to be replaced due to injury, scored 29 out of 30 points. But that was only a precursor of what was to come.
For their second dance, VanZant and Ballas performed a freestyle that drew a perfect 30 out of 30. But, perhaps of more significance, the performance had an emotional effect on the judges. Two judges and Ballas, himself, were brought to tears by VanZant’s performance.
"It's a really special moment. I've been on this show now 18 seasons in a row, and I'm so proud of this girl for how far she's come," a tearful Ballas said. "She's completely opened up from when I saw her the first day, she's completely changed."
Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to defeat the mirror ball winners Peta Murgatroyd and America’s Next Top Model winner Nyle DiMarco.
But the fact that VanZant made it this far is a victory in itself for the UFC’s No. 8 ranked strawweight.
VanZant’s progression throughout the season was noteworthy and has led to other opportunities. She was recently cast in the next installment of the “Kickboxer” movie series in a role written specifically for her after producers watched her on DWTS.
With a near DWTS victory and a possible burgeoning career in Hollywood on the horizon, it will be interesting to see when (or if) she’ll have time to get back to mixed martial arts.
successful one with a first round knockout of Leslie Smith at UFC 198 was what would be next for the hard-hitting Brazilian.The only question on everyone’s mind after Cris “Cyborg” Justino made her UFC debut a
Currently, there is no weight class in the UFC for the Invicta FC World Featherweight Champion to compete in, which is why Cyborg’s fight with Smith was at a catchweight of 140 pounds. Depending on whom you ask, Cyborg could either find herself defending the Invicta featherweight title or back in the Octagon for her next fight.
“UFC Tonight” reported that there were plans in place for Cyborg to return to the UFC as early as UFC 201 on July 30 in Atlanta. It would be another 140-pound catchweight fight and her opponent would be Germaine de Randamie, a Dutch kickboxer who scored a scintillating first round TKO victory over Anna Elmose at UFC Fight Night 87.
But Cyborg balked at the reports and fired back with her desire to return to Invicta for her next fight via Twitter.
She continued with her rant in Portuguese and explained that the only opponents she would fight at 140 pounds are Miesha Tate and Ronda Rousey.
“My next title defense will be in my weight 145 pounds title defense in Invicta Fights. Catchweight only with Ronda Rousey or Miesha Tate,” she wrote in a series of tweets. “I’m a champion at 145 pounds, #UFC doesn’t have my division, that’s fine! But they don’t have the right to erase my division. No point in trying to manipulate my fans, I’ll be defending my belt next fight! I’ve proven I can make 140 pounds. I did my part.”
Cyborg continued by explaining the difficulties she had with making weight for the fight with Smith and stated that a video documenting her weight cutting process would soon be available for the fans to see.
However, one of the names that Cyborg didn’t bring up but could possibly lure her back to the UFC is Holly Holm. The former UFC women’s bantamweight champion expressed her interest in facing Cyborg when she appeared on 120 Sports.
"In boxing, I fought in three weight classes," Holm said while explaining that facing Cyborg at a catchweight is a fight she would be interested in. "I'm not gonna say that I'm against going at 140. I actually think Cyborg might able to do 135. Who knows? But that's definitely something that could be an option for the future. I'm actually really happy for her victory. I really like Cyborg. I think she's a great gal."
At this point, there’s no telling where Cris “Cyborg” Justino will end up next but she certainly has plenty of options.
The buzz surrounding a potential boxing match between retired pound-for-pound boxing champion Floyd Mayweather and UFC featherweight champion Conor McGregor hasn’t quite died down yet. After Mayweather poured gasoline on the fire by talking up the fight, McGregor is now fanning the flames as a video has surfaced of the Irishman sparring with former IBO welterweight champion Chris van Heerden.
After posting a picture of Reebok boxing boots earlier in the week, footage of McGregor sparring in headgear at the Box ‘N Burn gym in Brentwood, Calif., has hit the Internet and added to the speculation.
In the two-and-a-half minute video, McGregor is seen stalking van Heerden while eating several jabs from his opponent whenever he draws near. He also struggles to land anything of significance while being unable to cut off the ring.
The MMA instincts from the man who recently tweeted “I run boxing” are still present as he deploys a wide karate stance that gives him a distinct advantage in MMA, but it will be rendered completely useless in boxing as his opponents wouldn't have to worry about being kicked. He does have his moments and demonstrates some accuracy with his body punching and left hand but it is evident that he has a lot of work to do if he’s ever going to attempt to compete with a fighter on the level of Mayweather.
Although van Heerden is a former champion, he was most recently seen being soundly beaten down and subsequently knocked out by Errol Spence last September. The South African’s boxing record stands at 24-2-1 with 12 knockouts. He’s not exactly the guy that will help McGregor prepare for a fight with Mayweather, but it’s certainly a start.
Michael Bisping is tied with Hall of Famer Matt Hughes for the second-most victories in UFC history with 18, only one behind ex-welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre. If Bisping ties the mark in his next outing, he'll become a champion himself.
Bisping will step in to replace Chris Weidman in the main event of UFC 199 on June 4 at The Forum in Inglewood, Calif., challenging champion Luke Rockhold for the middleweight belt.
Weidman needs surgery on his neck, he noted Wednesday in a Facebook post.
Bisping, The Ultimate Fighter Season 3 winner, has been in the UFC since 2006 without a title shot. He was beaten by Rockhold in a non-title fight in Australia in 2014. Rockhold submitted Bisping with a guillotine choke on Nov. 7, 2014, in Sydney.
Since that defeat, Bisping has won three in a row, including a victory over ex-champion Anderson Silva on Feb. 27 in a Fight of the Night battle in London.
When news of Weidman's injury broke Tuesday, Bisping pleaded for the title shot.
Bisping has won three in a row since the loss to Rockhold. He won decisions over C.B. Dollaway and Thales Leites, in addition to Silva, to put himself back in the title picture.
Appearing on SportsCenter, UFC president Dana White said that Jacare Souza, who routed Vitor Belfort on Saturday at UFC 198 in Curitiba, Brazil, "makes the most sense." But White told SportsCenter that Souza injured his meniscus and needs surgery.
Belfort was the only fighter who was ranked higher than Bisping, but after the beating Belfort took from Souza, he won't be ready to fight any time soon, so Bisping was the highest available contender.
After knocking out Fabricio Werdum with one punch at UFC 198, newly crowned UFC heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic put together yet another scintillating knockout performance on Tuesday afternoon. However, instead of an Octagon, Miocic took his talents to the baseball diamond.
Upon returning home to a hero’s welcome from his hometown of Cleveland, which has been starving for over 50 years to see a championship brought home, Miocic was invited to take part in batting practice with the Cleveland Indians. Similar to his walk-off performance on Saturday night in Brazil, Miocic sent a pitch from Indians bench coach Brad Mills soaring over the wall in left field in his final swing.
Yes, another knockout performance.
The 33-year-old, who played baseball for Eastlake North High School and at Cleveland State, was never a threat to become a professional baseball player. But on this day, he was the biggest star in an Indians uniform as a handful of players filmed his final at bat on their smartphones and cheered loudly when the ball cleared the 19-foot high wall in left field at Progressive Field.
It’s certainly been a whirlwind of events for the man who splits his time between fighting in the UFC and saving lives as a firefighter and a paramedic in Ohio. He left Ohio as an underdog to take on Fabricio Werdum in the champion’s backyard and his knockout of the Brazilian was met with stunned silence. But this time, his one-hit smash was met with cheers and laughter.
"It's still surreal, honestly," Miocic said when asked by Cleveland.com about how his life has changed over the weekend. "It's never going to sink in. I think when I'm tired, old and fat, that's when I'm really going to appreciate it."
Miocic is also scheduled to attend the Cleveland Cavaliers' home opener in the Eastern Conference Finals against the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday night as LeBron James and Co. continue their own pursuit of a championship.
Cleveland finally has a world champion once again.
Stipe Miocic knocked Fabricio Werdum cold Saturday in the main event of UFC 198 in Curitiba, Brazil, catching Werdum with a right hand on the chin, finishing him at 2:47 of the first to bring the UFC heavyweight title back to his hometown of Cleveland.
Werdum was moving forward, chasing Miocic, who was back-pedaling in an effort to create distance. Miocic fired a short right at Werdum that landed squarely on the chin. Werdum fell face first and it was quickly over.
Referee Dan Miragliotta jumped in to stop it, handing Miocic, a one-time wrestling and baseball star at Cleveland State, the heavyweight title.
"Fabricio Werdum is tough, [and] he had me guessing," Miocic said. "I trained hard, man. He’s quicker than I thought. He was catching me off guard. It was a good shot."
Miocic, who is one of the finest athletes in the UFC, was relaxed throughout in the biggest fight of his life. Werdum, who has had notable wins over Fedor Emelianenko, Cain Velasquez, Mark Hunt, Travis Browne, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Alistair Overeem and Roy Nelson, was moving forward and attacking, but Miocic never got flustered.
Werdum landed a couple of good rights, which Miocic took well. The end came as the two traded blows along the cage. They each landed during a flurry, and Miocic began backing away trying to get his distance correct. Werdum was hot in pursuit but left his guard down.
Miocic, 33, who is now 9-2 in the UFC, didn't even set his feet. As he was going back, he fired the right and it was placed perfectly and a new heavyweight era had begun.
"He was better than I was," Werdum said following the bout. "But I'm going to come back and be the champion."
Miocic has been on a roll since his last loss, when he dropped a unanimous decision to Junior dos Santos on Dec. 13, 2014, in a bout many thought he had won. Since then, he has knocked out Mark Hunt — one of the toughest men in the world to finish — former champion Andrei Arlovski and now Werdum.
He's expected to fight Overeem, who defeated Arlovski earlier this month in The Netherlands, later this year.
Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino for years was the most feared female fighter in the world, but through an odd and often difficult-to-understand set of circumstances, it wasn’t until Saturday that she finally made it to the UFC.
She reminded fans who hadn’t seen here before why her reputation was so out-sized, landing two-thirds of her strikes in a one-sided demolition of Leslie Smith at UFC 198 in her hometown of Curitiba, Brazil.
For years, fans have longed to see Cyborg compete in the UFC. She built an extraordinary record, losing her pro debut in 2005 and then reeling off 15 consecutive victories, most by first-round finish.
When the UFC made the trip to Curitiba, the deal was finally made to bring her in, though she fought at a catch weight of 140 pounds.
Smith never had a chance.
Justino, who sprinted to the cage and seemed to soak in every second of the loud ovation she received from her hometown fans, roared out of her corner and put Smith away quickly.
She landed two rights in the opening 10 seconds of the bout that set the tone for the fight.
She finished it at 1:21, landing a right hand, a kick, a left hook and two more rights.
“Thank you, everyone,” she said in exultation in the cage. “This is a dream come true.”
It was more of a nightmare for Smith, who never was really in the bout. She spent her time backpedaling and trying to find a way to fend off the powerful striker who was intent on doing damage.
She is a featherweight, a division the UFC does not have, and holds the Invicta championship. But she’s been under contract to the UFC for a while and said she hopes to fight in the Octagon again.
Most of the UFC’s big names are already booked. Champion Miesha Tate will defend her title at UFC 200 on July 9 in Las Vegas. Former champ Holly Holm is set to headline a July 23 card against Valentina Shevchenko.
And the woman most fans wanted to see Justino fight, former champion Ronda Rousey, is expected to fight the Tate-Nunes winner in November at Madison Square Garden.
Since Justino wasn’t hurt, she should be able to fight in July. Since UFC president Dana White promised another major fight to be added to UFC 200, hopefully he can find a way to put Justino on that showcase card.
In running her record to 16-1 on Saturday, she reminded everyone what UFC fans missed for so long. She’s one of the best in the world and belongs in the UFC for the rest of the way.
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