Amanda Ribas is thisclose to returning to the Octagon…
The UFC is close to finalizing a strawweight bout between the 27-year-old Brazilian mixed martial artist andMichelle Watersonfor UFC 257, according to multiple sources.
The UFC 257 pay-per-view event is the first on the company’s 2021 schedule. The promotion hasn’t announced a location for the event or a main event, although UFC president Dana White has said the event is earmarked for Conor McGregor‘s return to the Octagon against Dustin Poirier.
Ribas (10-1) is one of the most promising prospects in the division. She is undefeated since signing with the UFC last year, and has taken out the likes of Emily Whitmire, Mackenzie Dern, Randa Markos and Paige VanZant. She finished VanZant with a first-round armbar at UFC 251 in July.
Waterson (18-8) is one of the most established names of the strawweight division, with a 6-4 record in the UFC dating back to 2015. The former Invicta FC champion was knocking on the door of title contention in 2019 before she suffered back-to-back decision losses to former champions Joanna Jedrzejczyk and Carla Esparza. Fighting out of Jackson Wink MMA in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Waterson has since rebounded from the two-fight skid with a win over Angela Hill.
The 30-year-old Brazilian jiu-jitsu legend has signed a multiyear contract with Asia’s ONE Championship, according to his manager Ali Abdelaziz.
Almeida, a 13-time Brazilian jiu-jitsu world champion, who stands at 6-foot-3, will compete in the heavyweight division.
Per Abdelaziz, Almeida will debut in ONE either near the end of this year or early in 2021. He’ll do his training camps at Evolve MMA in Singapore, which has a relationship with ONE, also based in Singapore.
Almeida is considered one of the top pound-for-pound Brazilian jiu-jitsu competitors of all time.
He announced just last week his intention to retire from BJJ gi competition and focus on mixed martial arts, which drew buzz in the MMA community due to his potential in the sport.
“Buchecha” has won a record six Brazilian jiu-jitsu world titles in the openweight category, a mark previously held by Roger Gracie (3).
Almeida has also won two titles in the prestigious Abu Dhabi Combat Club (ADCC) tournament.
The 26-year-old Puerto Rican and Mexican American mixed martial artist, the younger brother of former UFC champion Anthony Pettis, defeated Ricky Bandejas via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27) this weekend in the bantamweight main event of Bellator 242.
Bellator, the second-most prominent MMA promotion in the U.S. after the UFC, hadn’t held an event since February 22 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The card took place at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut, overseen by the Mohegan Tribe Department of Athletic Regulation.
COVID-19 protocols were implemented, including multiple coronavirus tests and the keeping of fighters, corners and staff within a kind of bubble at the Mohegan Sun resort and casino.
The original Bellator 242 main event was supposed to be a bout for the bantamweight title between Juan Archuleta and Patrick Mix, but Archuleta withdrew. The expectation is that bout will be rebooked for the belt.
During his fight, Pettis put himself in the No. 1 contender conversation. He had an economical performance against Bandejas, outstriking the taller man and piling on the calf kicks through the first two rounds. At one point, Bandejas seemed to lose his footing due to the damage caused by those repeated kicks to the lower part of his left leg.
In the third round, both men opened up. Pettis wasn’t content to cruise to a decision and put forth several flashy techniques, clearly looking for a knockout. Pettis threw spinning kicks, and Bandejas came back with some of his own, including a wheel kick to the head that was just barely blocked by Pettis. Pettis threw another spinning kick with seconds remaining that narrowly missed as well.
Pettis (20-5) has won three straight, including his first two in Bellator. The Milwaukee native left the UFC as a free agent last year with a 9-5 record in the organization, going back and forth between flyweight and bantamweight. Pettis owns a victory over Joseph Benavidez, who just fought for the UFC flyweight title last weekend in Abu Dhabi.
Bandejas (13-4) had a two-fight winning streak snapped. The New Jersey native propelled himself up the Bellator bantamweight ladder in 2018 when he stunningly knocked out Conor McGregor protégé James Gallagher. Bandejas, 28, trains out of the vaunted American Top Team in Florida.
Israel Adesanya will defend his middleweight title against the 29-year-old Brazilian mixed martial artiston September 19, according to ESPN.
This weekend, Costa tweeted: “The fight is on folks!” News of the fight was first reported by Combate.
The fight, which will take place at UFC 253, doesn’t have a location yet. It probably will take place in either Las Vegas or Abu Dhabi, but the promotion hasn’t finalized those plans just yet because of the coronavirus pandemic, sources said.
Originally, Khabib Nurmagomedovvs. Justin Gaethjewas targeted for September 19. Though no official determination has been made regarding that fight, sources say the current plan is to headline the card with Adesanya vs. Costa and then do Nurmagomedov vs. Gaethje for the lightweight title later in the fall.
Adesanya (19-0) successfully defended the middleweight title for the first time in March when he defeated Yoel Romerovia unanimous decision. That fight was supposed to be against his bitter rival, Costa, however, Costa was forced out of the fight after suffering a torn left biceps.
Costa (13-0), most recently defeated Romero via unanimous decision in August 2019.
The duo have been entangled in a war of words since before Adesanya won the middleweight title in October.
The fight will mark just the second time in UFC history that two undefeated males fight for an undisputed title. The first time was back in 2008 when champion Rashad Evans defended the light heavyweight title against Lyoto Machida at UFC 98.
The 32-year-old Brazilian mixed martial artist and UFC fighter has defeated Joseph Benavidez to claim the vacant UFC flyweight championship.
In a rematch of their controversial bout earlier this year, Figueiredo knocked down Benavidezthree times and then choked him out at 4:48 of the first round in the main event of Sunday’s UFC Fight Night in Abu Dhabi.
In the opening seconds Figueiredo clipped Benavidez with a right hand, then attempted to cinch in a rear-naked choke on the ground. Benavidez bravely fought off the move and was able to get back on his feet. But he couldn’t do that a second time. Figueiredo blasted him with a whipping right hand in the final minute of the first, then pounced and locked in the submission to earn the title victory. Benavidez didn’t have a chance to tap out — he went unconscious and referee Marc Goddard called the fight.
“I said I was going to break Benavidez, and that’s exactly what I did,” Figueiredo said. “I gave him his first submission on his record, and the fight itself was a great show. I gave everyone a show. He didn’t surprise me at all tonight.”
Coming in, ESPN had Figueiredo ranked as its No. 2 MMA flyweight in the world, and Benavidez No. 3. Figueiredo is now just the third flyweight champion in UFC history, following the legendary Demetrious Johnson and the recently retired former double champ Henry Cejudo.
“I’m available for whoever the UFC wants to put in front of me. Anyone at my level,” Figueiredo said. “But you have to be at my level, because I’m a knockout artist, I’m going to knock you out. I’m going home tomorrow, and we’re going to start celebrating with all Brazilians on the flight back, and as soon as I land in Brazil everyone is going to be taking pictures and congratulating me, so it’s going to be a great party.”
Benavidez and Figueiredo first fought on Feb. 29 in Norfolk, Virginia. The bout was supposed to decide the vacant title, but Figueiredo missed weight by 2.5 pounds. Due to the weight miss, Benavidez was the only one who could win the belt in the fight — but Figueiredo ended up stopping Benavidez by TKO in the second round.
There was some dispute there, too. Figueiredo’s finish came right after a clash of heads that rocked Benavidez, who had won the first round. The circumstances led to the UFC granting Benavidez an immediate rematch.
The 33year-old Mexican American mixed martial artist and former UFC bantamweight and flyweight champion tells TMZ that he’d consider a return to the Octagon if he were given a fight against Alexander Volkanovski.
Cejudo wants a crack at Volkanovski’s UFC featherweight title to complete the championship trifecta — a feat no one in promotion history has ever pulled off.
“I’ve done everything in MMA,” Cejudo told TMZ.
“I’m satisfied with my career. There would only be one fight that would really bring me back — that would really wake me up in the morning. Other than [boxer] Ryan Garcia, it would be Alexander Volkanovski. That overgrown midget. I would love to make him bend the knee. He’s already halfway there.”
Since the retirement announcement, the UFC has removed Cejudo from the promotion’s official rankings and taken him off the website as bantamweight champion. UFC president Dana White has said that a vacant bantamweight title fight between Petr Yan and former featherweight champion Jose Aldo is in the offing this summer.
Cejudo, though, acknowledged to TMZ for the first time that there was indeed a way to bring him back. That would be a chance at a third belt.
“I want to be different,” Cejudo said. “There’s a lot of champ champs. Obviously there’s only one Triple C — there’s only one Olympic champ, flyweight champ, bantamweight champion of the world. It’s just to cement it and go in the history books as the greatest mixed martial artist of all time.”
Cejudo (16-2) is on a six-fight winning streak, a stretch that goes back to 2016. The Arizona resident is one of only four fighters in UFC history told hold two titles in two different weight classes at the same time. Cejudo owns wins over Cruz, TJ Dillashaw and Demetrious Johnson.
Gilbert Burns is officially a UFC welterweight contender…
The 33-year-old mixed martial artist, a former multiple-time jiu-jitsu champion, beat former champion Tyron Woodley by unanimous decision (50-45, 50-44, 50-44) in Saturday’s main UFC Fight Night event in Las Vegas.
Burns nearly finished Woodley in the opening minutes and never let his foot off the gas pedal, winning every single round.
“That was a former champion right there — you saw,” Burns said. “And I had a dominant performance.”
ESPN had Woodley ranked No. 5 among MMA welterweights coming in, while Burns was No. 9. Woodley had not fought since dropping the welterweight title to Kamaru Usman via unanimous decision at UFC 235 on March 2, 2019.
Burns trains at Sanford MMA in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, with Usman, the current UFC welterweight champion. Despite that relationship, Burns called for a title shot after his win.
“I want to fight for the title,” Burns said. “Lot of respect, a lot of love for [Usman]. But I think I’m next. I’m next. I’m right there.”
Woodley, who finished with 28 significant strikes to 83 for Burns, said it simply wasn’t his night.
“To be honest, I feel crappy that I lost,” he said. “I didn’t imagine losing to Gilbert Burns. But at the end of the day, I’m really proud of myself because mentally, I knew what I was going through in the Octagon. He gave me some hard shots, and I just kept saying, ‘I’m not fixing to give up. I’m not feeling that this dude beat me. I’m coming back. I’m gonna win this fight.’
The card was the UFC‘s first back in its hometown since March due to the coronavirus pandemic. It took place at the UFC Apex, a facility across from the promotion’s campus, in front of no fans.
Burns (19-3) has won six in a row and four straight since moving up from lightweight to welterweight. He has just one loss going back to 2016. He has made huge strides in the striking department under coach Henri Hooft.
Said Burns after Saturday’s victory, “Not bad for a jiu-jitsu guy, right?”
The 33-year-old mixed martial artist, a two-weight UFC champion and former Olympic gold medal-winning wrestler, defended his 135-pound title for the first time on Saturday night, defeating Dominick Cruz (22-3) via TKO at 4 minutes, 58 seconds of the second round at UFC 249at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida.
Cejudo (16-2) shocked the mixed martial arts world moments later when he announced he doesn’t intend to fight again.
“I’m happy with my career,” Cejudo said. “I’ve done enough in the sport. I want to walk away and enjoy myself. I’m 33 years old. I have a girl now, watching me from back home. Since I was 11, I’ve sacrificed my life to get to where I was tonight. I’m retiring tonight. Uncle Dana [UFC president Dana White], thank you. Everybody here, thank you so much.”
White appeared on SportsCenter later Saturday and said he wasn’t surprised by Cejudo’s announcement.
“It really didn’t shock me,” he said. “Cejudo has been talking about retirement to us for months. I’m of the belief that if you’re talking about retirement in the fight business, you should probably retire.”
Before leaving the cage, Cejudo declared himself the best combat-sports athlete of all time. His only two losses in MMA came against Demetrious Johnson, the longest-reigning flyweight champion in UFC history, and Joseph Benavidez. Cejudo avenged his loss to Johnson two years after the first meeting.
If this does prove to be Cejudo’s final appearance, it was an impressive one.
Cruz hadn’t fought in 1,226 days because of injury, but he was still widely recognized coming in as the greatest bantamweight of all time.
Cejudo’s longtime head coach, Eric Albarracin, told ESPN that he believed Cejudo was still “in his prime.”
“I only think he’s getting better. It’s a somber moment, when someone retires in his prime,” Albarracin said. “I understand it, though. We’ve been on a hell of a run. I’ve been with him since 2004. He’s gotten it done. Every goal we’ve ever set, he’s accomplished. He’s beaten every legend they set in front of him.”
Albarracin said “there was something a little bit off this week” with Cejudo.
“I was trying to figure it out, but I couldn’t put my finger on it,” Albarracin said. “I was ready to have him call out Jose Aldo, Alex Volkanovski and Conor McGregor after this fight, and he told me no. I think if Dana White were to add another zero to his paycheck, he’d have a hard time not coming back, but maybe he just does want to move on.”
Cejudo appeared to echo Albarracin’s point, saying at his postfight news conference, “I really do want to walk away, but money talks.”
The second-round finish came after Cejudo badly hurt Cruz with a right knee to the temple. Cejudo immediately pounced on him and dropped a hard right hand and a series of unanswered left hands until referee Keith Peterson stopped the bout. It is the first knockout loss of Cruz’s 15-year professional career.
“I’m ruthless,” Cejudo said. “I may be cringe-y, corny — but boy, can I fight.”
Coming into this weekend, ESPN ranked Cejudo the No. 3 pound-for-pound fighter in the world.
The 38-year-old Mexican actor has been cast in the Halle Berry’s feature directorial debut, the MMA drama Bruised.
Written by Michelle Rosenfarb, the film follows Jackie Justice (played by Berry), a washed-up MMA wrestler who has failed at the one thing she’s ever been good at – fighting. When 6-year-old Manny, the son she walked out on years ago, returns to her doorstep, Jackie has to conquer her own demons, face one of the fiercest rising stars of the MMA world and ultimately fight to become the mother this kid deserves.
Canto will play Berry’s character’s MMA manager and boyfriend.
Canto’s credits include the acclaimed Netflix series Narcos, ABC’s Designated Survivor and Blood and Oil and Fox’s The Following.
On the film side, he co-starred as the Sunspot in 20th Century Fox’s X-Men: Days of Future Past. He recently wrote, directed and produced his first short The Shot, starring Theo Rossi.