The last time fans saw Carlos Condit fighting in the Octagon, his knee unraveled on pay-per-view in the second round of his fight against Tyron Woodley at UFC 171.
It had been 14 months since that night in Dallas, and coming off a fresh ACL reconstruction, Condit made up for lost time, putting on a fiery and inspired performance against Thiago Alves on Saturday night in Goiania, Brazil.
After an opening round filled with troubleshooting and respectful prodding, Condit came unleashed in round two. The harbinger of Alves’ defeat came on a lead left elbow that was set up off a jab. The slicing shot came at Alves so quickly that it was virtually unrecognizable on the broadcast.
Even UFC announcer Brian Stann, who was seated cageside, thought the strike was an uppercut when viewed with the naked eye.
It was an unbelievable combination by Condit, and in true “Natural Born Killer” fashion, he wasted little time applying the pressure.
Credit to Thiago Alves, though; he did not go quietly.
It took numerous flurries from Condit, an all-out ground assault and plenty of back and forth between the two before the fight was eventually stopped.
The end came in between the second and third rounds, after Alves' nose had become so mangled by Condit's onslaught that he admittedly could not breathe. The ringside physician had no choice but to halt the action.
The stoppage wasn’t for lack of trying on Alves’ part, however, as he connected with more than a few powerful punches before the fight was waived off.
“I thought I could keep fighting for at least another round," Alves said. “But congratulations to Condit, he did a really good job, and the doctor stopped the fight and I have to respect it.”
The performance displayed by Carlos Condit, coming off such a lengthy layoff, was nothing short of amazing. He arguably lost the first round due to stiff counter punches and stifling leg kicks brought on by Alves.
But after a between-rounds pep talk from coach Greg Jackson, Condit came out with a stone-cold focus in round two and it didn’t take long for him to land the fight changing elbow.
“Well, after the feeling-out process, I just started thinking about the different things we worked on,” Condit explained. “We put together a lot of different tools -- a lot of different tactics. And the first thing that I threw [the elbow], that we have worked on, really, really worked.”
Alves was covered in at the end of the second round. He was understandably displeased with his performance after losing such an exciting fight in front of his home country fans.
The finish of Alves moves Condit into rarefied welterweight air. It was his 10th finish for the UFC and WEC, which makes him second on the all-time finish list behind only Hall-of-Famer Matt Hughes.
Unfortunately for Condit, this win marks just his second win in five fights. So, a potential title shot is probably not in the immediate future of the UFC’s No.4 ranked welterweight.
Post-fight, Condit says he’s OK with whoever is next. He just wants to fight people that the fans want to see him fight.
With performances like Saturday night, “The Natural Born Killer” is a fighter who continues to sit atop MMA’s pound-for-pound most entertaining list.
And sometimes – as we’ve seen with his contemporaries – being noticed for your grit, is better than being noticed for your gold.
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Dwayne Johnson knows a thing or two about what it takes to generate interest on a microphone. It's one of the reasons he is captivated by UFC featherweight title contender Conor McGregor.
McGregor, one of the UFC’s hottest prospects, takes on divisional king Jose Aldo at UFC 189 in Las Vegas in July. McGregor has built his rise on devastating performances inside the cage and wild media snippets outside of it.
Johnson, admittedly, loves watching a good fight, but it’s McGregor’s ability to generate buzz and create emotion that have one of Hollywood’s biggest stars seeing a lot of himself in the Irish upstart.
"I love that guy," Johnson said in a recent interview. "What I love about Conor is the same thing, by the way, what I love about Aldo. With Aldo, there’s a quiet confidence. In Conor, the confidence is not quiet.
"It reminds me of how I was in the WWE, man. I was bold, talking [expletive] and there was nothing I wouldn’t say … obviously in the WWE it’s a work. It’s not real, we know who wins and loses. But I would do everything I could, just in terms of what could I do to create interest. And Conor’s a smart guy like that; he creates great interest."
"The Rock" famously started his pro career as a slick-tongued wrestler for sports entertainment behemoth, World Wrestling Entertainment. Today, Johnson is the pound-for-pound box office king and one of the most recognizable faces in the world.
Johnson is currently in the midst of an all-out media tour for his summer blockbuster "San Andreas." Over his career, The Rock has been a vocal proponent of fight sports, and specifically Dana White’s UFC.
From declaring himself "King" of the entire sport to snatching the champ’s belt right out from under his nose at a news conference in Brazil, McGregor has had more than his fair share of headline-worthy moments. The Rock never fought professionally, however, he is familiar with high-level athletic competitions, as he was a member of the 1991 national champion Miami Hurricanes.
Johnson loves what McGregor is doing in the buildup to UFC 189. He admits that everyone has a "puncher's chance" and that McGregor is a "bad dude." But it’s McGregor’s ability to harass and annoy the champion that Johnson thinks could pave the way to potential UFC gold for the Irishman.
"We’ve all seen that by the way – Conor get under Aldo’s skin – it becomes an edge, man," Johnson said.
Brazilian bantamweight Bethe Correia caused quite a stir Tuesday when she said that she hopes Ronda Rousey doesn’t ‘kill herself’ after their UFC 190 title tilt on Aug. 1.
That comment, alone, could be looked at as a bit of a promotional snafu, even without any prior context. However, when you take into account that Rousey’s father killed himself when she was just 8, then the barb takes on a whole new level of disrespect.
Many wondered if Rousey would even take the time to address the comment. It was undoubtedly in very poor taste, and no one would have held it against her if she just let the comment fall to the wayside.
Then again, that isn’t Ronda Rousey’s style.
Earlier today, Rousey took to social media to address Correia’s shortsighted comments.
It didn’t take long for Correia to issue a very formal, and very public apology.
The issue with Correia’s apology is that it comes after the challenger already made more than a few, personal references to Rousey’s autobiography “My Fight/Your Fight.” She trounced Rousey in the press with comments about her past drug use, mental stability and even went as far as to bring Rousey’s mother into the mix.
So, as seemingly heartfelt as Correia’s apology is, the thought of her not being aware of Rousey’s past trauma in dealing with her Dad’s suicide is unlikely.
What’s the verdict, Cagereaders? Do you believe Correia? Does it even matter at this point?
Ronda Rousey must have known when she wrote her autobiographical tell-all "My Fight/Your Fight" that her fans and contemporaries would be given a glimpse into her life’s journey that otherwise would have remained shrouded in mystery.
Rousey documents her rise to MMA superstardom, her desires and fears as an early 20-something Olympic hopeful, and all the bumps in the road along the way.
One particularly stunning revelation that “Rowdy” makes in her book is that after her Olympic run in 2008, Rousey became addicted to painkillers and alcohol. The period of her life even saw Rousey living out of her car at different points.
The personal nature of her book is a great way for fans to learn more about the superstar fighter who finishes her foes in mere seconds. It is also a way for her future opponents to learn more about the champ, and if they so choose, use her openness in print to try to get inside her head.
Rousey’s next opponent, Brazilian Bethe Correia, hasn’t pulled any proverbial punches in the buildup to their Aug. 1 showdown at UFC 190 in Rio de Janeiro.
First, Correia told Brazilian outlet Combate that when she beats Rousey, she hopes Rousey doesn’t go back on drugs. But then Correia crossed a major line – one she may very well regret crossing.
"I want to knock her out, show to everyone that she is a lie," Correia said. "She wants to stand up with me, let's see. I want to humiliate her and show the world she has no MMA. She is focused on movies, books…
"Under pressure, she is proving weak. When her mom put pressure on her, she ran away from home. When she lost, it was because of drugs. That's not a superhero. She is not mentally healthy; she needs to take care of herself. She is winning, so everybody is around her cheering her up, but when she realizes she is not everything that she believes she is, I don't know what might happen. I hope she does not kill herself later on (laughs)."
One of the topics in Rousey’s book is the suicide of her father when Rousey was just a child. Her father suffered a traumatic accident earlier in his life that left him with crippling back pain. When the pain became too much, he killed himself.
Rousey talks about the incident in her book and admits that, “none of us were the same after that.”
It is unclear if Correia is aware of Rousey’s father’s tragic end, but given her familiarity with Rousey, it sure seems as if the Brazilian has been reading up on the champ.
There are some things in sports and entertainment that are sacred. It’s one thing to sell a fight; it’s another thing to prop up a bout by bringing in someone’s family history – a history, which in this case, is marred by personal tragedy.
Maybe this was Correia's way of poking the bear, trying to throw Rousey off her game. But considering this bear has finished her last two opponents in a combined 30 seconds, maybe it's unwise to prod. Especially with a dig as tasteless as that.
What do you think? Did Correia knowingly step over the line, or is this just a case of someone’s mouth running wild?
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LAS VEGAS – For being a former UFC heavyweight champion in the midst of an unlikely career resurgence, Andrei Arlovski's nonchalant approach toward redemption is kind of refreshing.
"One step at a time," said the 36-year-old after a rousing first-round knockout of former teammate Travis Browne at UFC 187. "Obviously, in the future I want to be a champion. But sooner or later, it doesn't really matter. I can be in line like the other heavyweights, so I'm good. I still have few more years in the UFC."
Grinning from ear to ear after the fight, the victorious Belarusian was understandably pleased with his performance against Browne. It was not only one of the greatest rounds in heavyweight history – it the early frontrunner for Fight of the Year, and it marked his third consecutive victory since returning to the UFC in June 2014 after nearly six years away from the place where he first became a world champion.
Arlovski reigned as UFC heavyweight champion from Feb. 2005 to April 2006. With his trademark "fangs" and his signature walkout music, "The Pitbull" was one of the larger characters to come out of the original "TUF" era. As the sport was beaming to televisions all across the country on SPIKE TV, Arlovski was a premium product, headlining four PPVs during his tenure as champ.
But after losing his belt to Tim Sylvia at UFC 59, Arlovski would be gone from the UFC by 2008. By 2011, it looked as if Arlovski's career was all but done. He had lost four fights in a row for the Affliction and Strikeforce promotions, and his desire seemed to fade along with his skills.
Then something quite unexpected happened. Andrei Arlovski started winning again. A lot, actually. Over his next 11 fights, he won 10. The only loss was to Saturday's main event title challenger Anthony Johnson at a World Series of Fighting event in the spring of 2013.
Arlovski's win over Browne marked his 11th win in 12 fights and it didn't come easy.
After some initial pressure and successful flurries in Round 1, Arlovski caught a huge punch from Browne that brought him to his knees. Most thought Arlovski was on his way out, but the 36-fight veteran had other plans.
"I was kind of surprised to be honest with you," Arlovski said about Browne's punch, "and at the same time I was confused. Because I throw many punches and for some reason I saw him smile on all my combinations. And it was scary. I dropped. And it was good that I stood up and finished him. Everything was lucky for me."
Arlovski was being rather humble. Luck had absolutely nothing to do with him scraping himself off the canvas and fighting back to score a statement win like he did.
Continuing with his humble proclamations, the team Jackson-Winklejohn transplant thanked his dedicated team, along with embattled UFC light heavyweight Jon Jones for his help preparing him for the 6'7, 240-pound Hawaiian, Browne, "I had two amazing sparring partners who simulate Travis' style – thank you very much to Jon Jones," he said "It's what I did for like 13 weeks maybe more; I just tried to go forward, throw combinations.
"And plus all my coaches are in my head all the time, 'Do this, throw that, don't do this, don't do that' – so, it's great coaches and great teammates. I'm blessed, man."
The heavyweight division is thinning and Arlovski is climbing the ranks once again. The interim champion Fabricio Werdum meets lineal heavyweight champ Cain Velasquez in June at UFC 188 and whoever the winner is, Arlovski has a claim to contendership. After all, Arlovski already beat Werdum once, at UFC 70 in 2007, so if the Brazilian wins, all the better. He's never met Velasquez, so a former champ vs. reigning champ is an intriguing storyline, too.
Leaning back in his chair, smiling with his victorious Jackson-Winklejohn teammates Donald Cerrone and John Dodson seated next to him, Arlovski is once again questioned about a potential title run. And with his newfound confidence and obvious love for the sport, Arlovski gave -- what under normal circumstances would be considered 'boring' -- a smooth response, followed by a shrug.
"It's totally up to the UFC. I can fight, I can wait, whatever."
Not exactly something you'd expect from "The Pitbull," but then again, nothing about the former champ's resurgence has been predictable.
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LAS VEGAS - Arnold Schwarzenegger knows a thing or two about what it takes to become a champion. The seven-time Mr. Olympia, Austrian-born immigrant used his ridiculous size to muscle one of the most successful careers in Hollywood history.
And he governed a state in America for a little while, too – a pretty big one too from our recollection.
The Hollywood legend was on hand Saturday for UFC 187 to witness one of the best fight cards in recent memory, and to congratulate the various athletes on their performances.
The highlight of the night came when Schwarzenegger interrupted a backstage interview with newly minted light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier fresh off his third-round submission victory over Anthony Johnson.
Cormier has made it no secret he loves his post-fight Popeye's and his downhome Louisiana soul food. So, consequently, he carries a reputation for being a thicker-than-average light heavyweight. Schwarzenegger, being a vocal fan of the sport, showered "DC" with post-fight praise.
And right before he left, the iron-pumping icon couldn't resist getting in a little jab at Cormier's belly – figuratively, of course.
Jokes aside, Cormier, 36, looked more Popeye than Popeye's on Saturday as he was in prime physical condition on his way to capturing UFC gold. However, it wasn't without a bit of high drama in the desert after a first-round blast from Johnson put him on wobbly legs.
Post-fight, Cormier himself even managed to take a few moments to laugh at himself in the midst of all the chaos.
"In the moment I rolled, 'cause I'm kinda chubby, you know – so I roll when I fall. I look behind me and there's Anthony and he's coming."
"I wasn't completely out," said the champ, "but I did get stunned. That's the first time I've ever been knocked down in competition, in practice, anything."
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LAS VEGAS – UFC flyweight Joseph Benavidez is in fighter purgatory. He is, by all accounts, one of the 125-pound division’s very best talents and is 10-2 in his last 12 fights.
The problem is, those two losses came against champion Demetrious Johnson.
After a wildly entertaining unanimous decision victory over John Moraga at UFC 187 on Saturday, Benavidez – the No. 2 ranked challenger in the division – inched that much closer to a third fight with Mighty Mouse.
Unfortunately, given Benavidez’s two performances against the champ – the last coming in 2013 via devastating first-round knockout – there aren’t that many people banging down the doors at UFC HQ demanding to see that trilogy.
And Joe Benavidez gets that.
“Well, I’m a realist,” admitted Benavidez at the UFC 187 post-fight press conference, “so, I know that logically it doesn’t make sense for me to go for the title right away. I believe in my skill 100 percent, that I can go out there and beat Demetrious Johnson and give him the best fight there is. But I also know I’m not crazy. I lost to him twice. I know that’s not how it works; Dodson’s only fought him once.”
John Dodson, the flyweight division’s No. 1 contender was sitting directly to the left of Benavidez at the UFC 187 post-fight dais and perked up when his name is called. On Saturday, Dodson had a fine performance himself, dispatching No. 9 ranked Zach Makovsky via unanimous decision. It’s a fight that most think will put Dodson next in line for Johnson, and it’s as Benavidez said: Dodson has only lost to Johnson once.
Dodson's first fight with Johnson in Jan. 2013 was an outstanding one. It won Fight of the Night and it was a fight where Dodson thought he was the rightful winner, despite what the official scorecard read. And when the rematch does happen, Dodson will be ready the second time around, “Yeah, it’s a no-brainer for me,” said Dodson when asked if he thought he was next in line. “I always still want to beat up Demetrious Johnson. I want to knock him out.
“I thought I won the first time, me and him faced each other and I believe this next time we come around, the outcome is gonna be way different. I’m still going to go out there and beat him up and get a clearer victory by knocking him out.”
One person who might be cheering for a Dodson KO is Joseph Benavidez.
The reality is that no one wants to see Demetrious Johnson vs. Joseph Benavidez III, but everyone would be intrigued with Benavidez vs. Dodson I.
“If Dodson wins, that is probably going to expedite my journey to the title faster,” admitted Benavidez. “It’s just taking the positives of both options. So, if Dodson wins, that’d be cool; they’d probably give me a title shot right away. But with Demetrious, it would be that much more sweeter to work my way over there and beat him.”
So, is Joseph Benavidez a John Dodson fan?
“Uh, not quite,” said Benavidez.
Dodson, never short on words or a snappy delivery, shot back with a smirk: “Dude, that hurts my feelings.”
Not as much as losing to Demetrious Johnson does – and there has been plenty of that going around.
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LAS VEGAS – Donald Cerrone assured anyone and everyone who would listen that he wasn’t taking his UFC 187 late-replacement bout against John Makdessi lightly.
If Makdessi’s broken jaw is any indication of Cerrone’s desire, then “not taking it lightly” may just be the understatement of the year.
Cerrone dissected Makdessi with kicks to the legs and body for the entirety of their bout. When it was time for the “Cowboy” to send his fans home happy, at 4:44 of Round 2 to be exact, he went high with a kick to Makdessi’s jaw, breaking it. His opponent quickly retreated, waving off the action as Cerrone closed in for the finish.
“I think I might finally get this title shot by default, huh?” Cerrone said post-fight after his eighth consecutive victory inside the Octagon. “I’m upset with my performance, but I always am. I don’t know what’s next. My manager probably won’t let me take another fight before I get a title shot so I guess we’ll just wait and see.”
The win marked Cerrone’s sixth outing since the beginning of 2014 and caps off one of the most impressive runs of activity (and dominance) in recent memory and a title shot is all but assured. Rather than waiting on the sidelines, hoping for a title shot to materialize, Cerrone took the fight with Makdessi after top contender Khabib Nurmagomedov bowed out due to injury last month.
The choice to fight is the only option for Cerrone. He is a fighter who admittedly performs when active – when he has less time to sit around and eat, as he says. Also, with more fights come more options, especially when you win.
“That’s who I am, I never paint myself into a corner,” he said when asked about his propensity for taking fights at the drop of a hat.
Cerrone admitted that the late replacement and the questions surrounding his dedication played on his mind. He also elaborated on the finish that will surely go down in a UFC highlight reel, or two, for years to come.
“I had no idea what happened, I thought maybe I poked him in the eye or something. I was blown away. I should’ve wrestled him more but he made that comment about how good strikers always turn into wrestlers when they face another good striker; that was in my head a little bit.”
Never content, and always honest – just some of the traits that make Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone one of the most unanimously beloved fighters on the UFC roster today.
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LAS VEGAS – For being former roommates, Andrei Arlovski and Travis Browne fought like bitter enemies on Saturday night at UFC 187. The fight didn’t even make it out of the first round as former heavyweight champion Arlovski scored a first-round TKO over Browne and took one step closer to a career resurgence that just a few years prior seemed unthinkable.
Arlovski has now rattled off three consecutive victories since his return to the UFC, toppling foes Brendan Schaub, Antonio “Bigfoot” Sivla, and now his former teammate at Jackson-Winklejohn in Browne.
In what many will remember as one of the most action-packed rounds in heavyweight history, both fighters exchanged powerful flurries from the pocket. Arlovski kicked off the action, pressuring Browne against the cage and landing accurate power combos as Browne found himself on wobbly legs.
Midway through the opening round Browne mustered a thudding shot of his own that floored Arlovski, but the 36 year old found his composure and rose from his feet.
It didn’t take long for Arlovski to shake off any cobwebs and get right back in the pocket with Browne. He continued to use the flurry punching that worked so well earlier in the round and eventually found space for an accurate straight right.
Arlovski recognized the potency of his straight right and fired off a succession of devastating follow-ups. Browne once again found himself in trouble as he attempted a retreat. But Arlovski showed no mercy and finished Browne off with repeated blows, as the referee stepped in at 4:41 of Round 1.
“It’s not going to affect our friendship,” Arlovski said post-fight, “I love him like a brother.”
Making the Fight of The Year candidate that much more impressive was the post-fight revelation that Arlovski was dealing with a pretty serious injury heading into the fight. That, coupled with the mid-round blows by Browne, had Arlovski on the verge of quitting.
“Man, I was tired. I almost quit,” admitted Arlovski. “There were so many punches being thrown and I was so tired. I am injured, I hurt my leg during my last workout on Thursday. We finished up training and I told my coach I wanted to go one more round just to test my reactions. We were moving around and he kicked me on the inside of my shin and I got a little cocky and started dancing around and I felt something in my leg. I thought my coach kicked me again so I asked him, but he said no. I really don’t know how it happened, but the UFC doctors were there right away and they took care of me. I’m really grateful for the care they gave me.”
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UFC president Dana White went on Jim Rome's show on Wednesday to discuss UFC 187 and all things MMA. Since Saturday's event was supposed to feature Jon Jones, the promotion's struggling star was a natural part of the conversation.
Jones, of course, was slated to meet Anthony Johnson in the event. But after being arrested for an alleged hit-and-run in late April, the UFC stripped Jones of his light heavyweight title and suspended him indefinitely.
Now Johnson faces Daniel Cormier at UFC 187 for the vacant title and questions surround the division as to just what exactly the UFC has in store for Jones if and when he ever returns to the Octagon.
But there's no speculation necessary as far as White and the UFC are concerned. If the pound-for-pound king returns, he will bypass any other would-be contenders and receive an immediate title shot.
“No way. He comes right back and fights for the title,” White said. "After all, Jones is one of, if not the greatest fighter to ever live. And with that title comes certain exceptions.
“He hasn’t had the time that Anderson Silva has had, but he’s the most dominant champion. If you look at the murderer’s row of the 205-pound division that he went through – and he just went through it like a hot knife through butter – he’s the man. Whenever he gets his stuff together, he’d come right back and fight for the title.”
Still, White acknowledges the importance of Saturday’s main event. With either Johnson or Cormier’s win, the 205-pound division – arguably the company’s most storied division – will see its first new champion in four years. And, yes, of course White wants to see one of his greatest assets return to the company sooner rather than later, but he admits that everything is currently up in the air regarding Jones’ future.
If Jones does eventually return, he is going to need to show the UFC that he is a changed man.
"Well, like I said, he has these legal issues and he has a civil suit against him,” White said. “He has a civil suit against him and all this other stuff. Let’s see how he gets through this and see where his head is. How does he handle himself through this situation and after it? I mean, I’ve got to see from him that he’s doing the right thing.
“Once he gets through those – he’s either going to end up with a felony or jail time. Or, a felony and jail time. So, I don’t know how this thing is going to play out. We’ll see how it goes. This Saturday is real important for us.”
What do you think? Does Bones deserve an immediate title shot if and when he returns to the UFC? Or should he be forced to re-establish himself in a division he has already conquered?
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