Raul Rosas Jr. Becomes Youngest MMA Fighter to Sign with UFC

Raul Rosas Jr. has earned his place in UFC history…

The 17-year-old Mexican mixed martial artist has become the youngest fighter to sign with the UFC.

Raul Rosas Jr.Rosas signed with UFC Tuesday night, following a unanimous decision win over Mando Gutierrez on Dana White‘s Contender Series.

White, impressed by Rosas’ performance, offered the teen a contract before the end of the show, which he accepted. Rosas is the youngest fighter to compete on the series.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” White said of Rosas’ age and outing against Gutierrez. “Not only that, the amount of fighters blowing me up saying you’re crazy not to (sign him). … He’s absolutely, positively talented. He’s special, he’s different.”

Rosas, a bantamweight fighter, dominated the 25-year-old Gutierrez for most of the fight with his grappling prowess. He nearly finished Gutierrez in the first round with a rarely used Suloev stretch submission from back control. Gutierrez had moments, taking Rosas down and landing some ground-and-pound. But almost always, Rosas would end up in the better position, using his dexterity, skill and creativity on the ground to scramble his way to the top.

Rosas (6-0) had finished all of his previous opponents before Tuesday night. The Mexican-born fighter, who trains out of Las Vegas, previously fought in the UWC promotion in Tijuana.

Dan Lauzon holds the record as the youngest fighter to compete in the UFC (18 years, 198 days), per ESPN Stats & Information research. As long as Rosas steps into the Octagon within the next 216 days — a likely scenario — he will beat that mark.

And Rosas is already talking about winning championships. The youngest UFC champion was Jon Jones at age 23 in 2011.

“Everybody shouldn’t be surprised,” Rosas said. “I’m the new king in here, so I’m coming for that belt now. … I’m gonna be champion when I’m 20. Respect to everybody, but I’m gonna be champion when I’m 20, or even earlier. Nobody is gonna stop me.”

Anderson Silva to Fight Jake Paul in 187-Pound Boxing Match in October

Anderson Silva has locked in his next opponent…

The 47-year-old former UFC-middleweight-champion-turned-boxer will meet YouTuber-turned-prizefighter Jake Paul in a boxing match on October 29 in Phoenix, Paul’s Most Valuable Promotions announced Tuesday.

Anderson SilvaThe bout will be contested at 187 pounds over eight three-minute rounds. Silva is one of the greatest champions in UFC history and holds the record for most consecutive victories ever in the promotion (16).

“The plan is for me to fight at 185 [pounds] going forward and that’s what I wanted this fight at given it was the weight Anderson Silva fought at during his reign as the most dominant UFC champion ever,” Paul told ESPN. “Anderson’s team asked if we could set the weight at 187, 2 pounds more than what I wanted. That level of professionalism and precision is appreciated, and of course I agreed to his request.”

Paul was supposed to fight Tommy Fury last month at New York’s Madison Square Garden, but Fury withdrew because of what he said were travel issues coming to the United States from England. Fury’s replacement was Hasim Rahman Jr., son of the former boxing heavyweight champion, but that bout was canceled because of weight complications with Rahman.

This will be Paul’s fourth fight against a former UFC fighter. Previously, Paul knocked out Ben Askren and went 2-0 against former UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley, the most recent bout a knockout win over Woodley in December. Paul has not fought since then.

Silva, though well past his prime, has a better résumé than both Woodley and Askren in MMA and boxing. He was the best pound-for-pound MMA fighter in the world for stretches during his lengthy title reign from 2006 to 2013 and one of the most creative knockout artists ever in that sport.

In boxing, Silva is 3-1 as a pro, with his best win coming over Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. last year. Silva fought Bruno Machado in an exhibition boxing match in May and looked solid there. He has also knocked out former UFC light heavyweight champion Tito Ortiz in boxing.

“I know that in life everything has its purpose,” Silva said in a statement. “Nothing comes just by chance. So, I thank God for my health, my family and my team for providing me with this opportunity to continue doing the thing that I love the most. I believe this will be the biggest combat event of the year and will truly make history in the sport forever. See you on October 29.”

Prominent people in combat sports, including UFC president Dana White, have been critical of Paul’s opponents, and White has even suggested that Paul should fight Silva, which would be more of a “real fight.”

“Anderson ‘The Spider’ Silva is the most versatile fighter the world has ever seen,” Paul said in a statement. “Just a year ago he outclassed boxing champion Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., and showed the world why he is often referred to as the greatest fighter of all time. Every expert, from MMA to boxing, has said Jake Paul won’t fight Anderson Silva. They said Jake Paul is afraid of Anderson Silva, and Jake Paul would lose to Anderson Silva. Well, to all the non-believers – Jake Paul is fighting Anderson Silva. It’s an honor to have the opportunity to share the ring with the greatest UFC striker of all time. On Saturday, October 29, I will walk humbly into the ring, touch gloves with a living legend and do my best to exterminate ‘The Spider.'”

“Jake Paul continues to take on challenges that other professional fighters at his experience level and popularity never have,” said Nakisa Bidarian, co-founder of MVP, in a statement. “Jake appreciates the platform that he has and always aims to provide fans with a compelling product that drives engagement. Anderson Silva is unequivocally the most exciting striker in UFC history. Those abilities have translated into his professional boxing career, and he most certainly has the ability to end Jake’s unbeaten streak. It’s an honor for Most Valuable Promotions to have one of the GOATs of combat sports headline our event. He is already a Hall of Famer in our books.”

Amanda Nunes Defeats Julianna Peña to Reclaim UFC Women’s Bantamweight Title

It’s a case of sweet revenge for Amanda Nunes

The 34-year-old Brazilian professional mixed martial artist defeated Julianna Peña via a dominant unanimous decision (50-45, 50-44, 50-43) in the main event of UFC 277 on Saturday night at American Airlines Center.

Amanda NunesNunes had vowed to make changes in her game and get her belt back after shockingly losing it seven months ago to Peña.

With the victory, Nunes, the greatest women’s fighter in MMA history, reclaimed the UFC women’s bantamweight title she lost to Peña at UFC 269 in December.

“The lioness, if they don’t get the prey the first time, I set the trap and I know I’d get it the second time,” Nunes said in her postfight interview.

Nunes said this fight was all about “strategy” and that the key was her going southpaw. Then, when Peña got comfortable on the feet, Nunes said she started to go for the takedowns.

“The main thing was my southpaw,” Nunes said. “I know I was gonna catch her with that tonight. I knew she was not gonna be able to adjust to that. She’s not a striker. … She was so confused. I’m not very good yet with my southpaw. I told my coach, ‘I’m gonna see how I feel.’ I tried tonight, and I felt good.”

Nunes dropped Peña with a check right hook out of the southpaw stance several times in the early rounds. As the fight wore on, Nunes began using her wrestling to take Peña down over and over, then cut her up from top position with slicing elbows.

Peña had several bad cuts on her face after the fourth round. Nunes nearly had a rear-naked choke finish in the fifth, but Peña was incredibly tough and fought it off.

Nunes had moments where she might have been able to finish the fight but perhaps didn’t want to make the mistake she did in the first fight, where she got tired after trying to finish Peña in the first round.

“Julianna is tough as nails,” UFC president Dana White said. “Her will to win is second to none. She wanted to win. As dominant as Amanda was, and she was dominant tonight — I don’t think it was close in any way, shape or form; I thought it was a complete shutout — she still looked a little gun shy to me.

“She had Julianna hurt many times, had her on crazy legs many times and never really went in for the kill.”

After the first fight, Nunes left her longtime gym, American Top Team, and moved into a private facility she has dubbed Lioness Studio. She trained under coach Roger Krahl, who was in her corner for some of her biggest fights, like the knockout of Ronda Rousey.

“The best thing I did was make my gym,” Nunes said. “In my gym, I feel like I’m safe. I feel like I can grow and evolve.”

In the second round, Nunes knocked Peña down three times, setting the record for most knockdowns in a round ever among women in the UFC, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. Overall, Nunes outlanded Peña 85-60 in significant strikes and took Peña down six times in eight attempts.

Nunes’ 15 UFC wins is the most among women in UFC history. This was her 10th title fight win, the most among women in UFC history and fifth best overall. Nunes is the first woman in the UFC to regain the bantamweight title after losing it.

Saturday’s fight was the 13th immediate rematch ever in the UFC after one fighter took the belt from another. Saturday marked just the third time in those instances that a fighter reclaimed the title. Randy Couture did it against Vitor Belfort in 2004 and Deiveson Figueiredo did it this past January over Brandon Moreno.

Judges Douglas Crosby and Sal D’Amato each scored the second round 10-8 for Nunes, while Crosby also scored the fifth 10-8 for Nunes. The other judge, Jacob Montalvo, did not score a 10-8 in any round.

Coming in, ESPN had Nunes ranked No. 2 and Peña ranked No. 4 on its pound-for-pound women’s MMA list. At bantamweight, Peña was No. 1 and Nunes was No. 2.

Nunes (22-5) was on a 12-fight winning streak before losing to Peña, with wins during that stretch over the likes of Ronda Rousey, Cris Cyborg, Miesha Tate and Holly Holm. The Brazilian slugger, who trains out of South Florida, is also the UFC women’s featherweight champion.

Nunes, 34, is the first UFC fighter to defend two titles in separate weight classes concurrently — and has seven title.

Dominick Cruz to Fight Marlon Vera in UFC Fight Night in August

Dominick Cruz is heading back to the Octagon this summer…

The 37-year-old Mexican American mixed martial artist, a former two-time UFC bantamweight champion, will face off against Marlon Vera for a UFC Fight Night headliner, according to UFC president Dana White.

Dominick Cruz The bout is scheduled for August 13, and White said the card is expected to take place in San Diego.

ESPN has Vera ranked No. 6 and Cruz ranked No. 10 in the world at bantamweight.

Cruz (24-3) is one of the best bantamweight fighters in MMA history. A San Diego resident, he’s a two-time former UFC bantamweight champion with a total of three title defenses across both reigns.

Cruz has the most bantamweight wins in UFC/WEC history (13). He has won two straight and 15 of 17 overall.

Vera (19-7-1), 29, has won three straight and nine of his past 11. The fighter from Ecuador, who lives and trains in Orange County, California, is coming off a unanimous decision win over Rob Font in April.

He has the most finishes in UFC bantamweight history (9).

Pitbull’s NASCAR Team Agrees to Partnership Deal with UFC’s Dana White

Pitbull is racing to a new deal…

UFC president Dana White has agreed to a partnership deal with the 41-year-old Cuban American rapper/singer and entrepreneur’s NASCAR team Trackhouse Racing, starting this week at the exhibition Clash in Los Angeles.

Pitbull

White’s Howler Head Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey will serve as primary sponsor of Ross Chastain‘s No. 1 Chevrolet in Sunday’s race at the Los Angeles Coliseum.

“This is an absolute (wicked) car, and I can’t wait to see it compete on the track at the Coliseum on Sunday,” White said.

Trackhouse Racing fields two full-time NASCAR Cup Series cars in 2022 with drivers Chastain and Daniel Suarez.

Trackhouse Racing, owned by Justin Marks and Pitbull, ran with Suarez last year. Trackhouse then bought Chip Ganassi‘s team and expanded to two cars for this season.

“We want to transcend our sport, work with innovative minds and powerful brands, and Dana White, along with Howler Head and UFC exemplify that. Dana’s influence, vision, and passion is inspiring and I’m looking forward to working with him on amplifying both our brands and hopefully along the way, learning from him as well,” Marks said.

Charles Oliveira to Defend UFC Lightweight Title Against Justin Gaethje 

Charles Oliveira is going back on the defense…

The 32-year-old Brazilian professional mixed martial artist and Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioner, the reigning UFC lightweight champion, will seek his second title defense against Justin Gaethje at UFC 274 on May 7, UFC president Dana White has told ESPN.

Charles Oliveira The UFC is working on finalizing the 155-pound title fight shortly. The pay-per-view event now includes two title fights.

Brazilian light heavyweight champion Glover Teixeira will face Jiri Prochazka on the same date.

The UFC has not announced an official venue. It had considered holding it in Brazil, but the card is now expected to take place in the U.S.

Oliveira (32-8) is coming off a spectacular year in 2021. He won the vacant title by knocking out Michael Chandler in the second round of an exhilarating title fight in May, and finished off the calendar year with a comeback submission victory over Dustin Poirier for his first title defense.

Gaethje (23-3) has been waiting for another crack at UFC gold since former champion Khabib Nurmagomedov retired in October 2020. Gaethje, of Arizona, challenged Nurmagomedov for the title in the final fight of Nurmagomedov’s career. His record made him worthy of fighting for the vacant title right away, but he was forced to pick up one more win before earning the shot.

That win came against Chandler in November at UFC 268 at Madison Square Garden, where Gaethje won the bout via decision.

Yair Rodriguez Reportedly Fighting Max Holloway in UFC Fight Night This Summer

It looks like Yair Rodriguez will be heading back to the Octagon this summer…

The UFC is finalizing plans for a featherweight matchup between the 28-year-old Mexican professional mixed martial artist and Max Holloway for July, according to UFC president Dana White.

 

Yair Rodriguez

Contracts haven’t been signed, but the UFC is close to finalizing the 145-pound contest, according to ESPN. Once official, it is expected to headline a UFC Fight Night event on July 17 at a location to be announced, sources said.

Rodriguez (13-2) has not fought since he earned a decision victory againsJeremy Stephens in October 2019. He was scheduled to fight last August, but withdrew due to injury.

Rodriguez, of Chihuahua, Mexico, is 8-1 in the UFC overall. His only loss came in 2017 to former lightweight champion Frankie Edgar.

Holloway (22-6), a former UFC featherweight champion, is coming off arguably one of the greatest performances in UFC history in January. He landed a UFC record 445 total strikes in a five-round decision win over Calvin Kattar at the beginning of the year on Fight Island.

Fighting out of Waianae, Hawaii, Holloway, 29, is already considered in line for a 145-pound title shot, but the division is currently on a bit of a hold, as current champion Alexander Volkanovski is expected to face Brian Ortega at some point in the second half of 2021. With no title fight available, Holloway elected to remain active.

Paulo Costa ThisClose to Closing Deal to Fight Jared Cannonier in August

Paulo Costa could be back in the Octagon this summer…

The UFC is close to finalizing a middleweight main event between the 30-year-old Brazilian professional mixed martial artist and Jared Cannonier for a UFC Fight Night in August, according to UFC president Dana White.

Paulo Costa

Contracts haven’t been signed yet, but the 185-pound contest is expected to become official shortly.

The fight will headline UFC Fight Night on August 21 at a location to be determined, according to White.

Costa (13-1) has not fought since he came up short in a title bid against Israel Adesanya in September. The 30-year-old from Brazil was scheduled to face Robert Whittaker last month but was forced to withdraw because of medical issues.

Cannonier (13-5) is coming off a loss to Whittaker in a three-round non-title fight in October. The loss snapped a three-fight winning streak for Cannonier.

The bout figures to have a major impact on the middleweight division.

Adesanya, the current champion, is scheduled to defend his title against Marvin Vettori in June.

Jessica Andrade to Fight Defending UFC flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko 

Jessica Andrade is taking on a champion…

The 29-year-old Brazilian professional mixed martial artist and former strawweight champion is set to take on defending UFC flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko at UFC 261, according to Ultimate Fighting Championship president Dana White.

Jessica Andrade

The 125-pound title fight will take place at the April 24 pay-per-view event, for which the UFC hasn’t yet finalized a location. It will mark Shevchenko’s fifth attempted title defense.

Shevchenko (20-3) has dominated the weight class since she dropped to 125 pounds from 135 pounds in 2018. She won the vacant belt by defeating another former strawweight champion in Joanna Jedrzejczyk in late 2018, then has looked more or less unbeatable in defenses against Jessica EyeLiz CarmoucheKatlyn Chookagian and Jennifer Maia.

Andrade (21-8) is widely perceived as the greatest threat to Shevchenko’s reign.

She won the UFC’s 115-pound championship by knocking out Rose Namajunas in May 2019 before surrendering the belt to current champ Zhang Weili three months later. She moved up to the 125-pound division in October, and scored a first-round knockout over Chookagian.

ESPN ranks Shevchenko and Andrade the No. 2 and No. 6 female pound-for-pound fighters in the world, respectively.

Deiveson Figueiredo Easily Defends UFC Flyweight Title Against Alex Perez

Deiveson Figueiredo has easily retained his title…

The 32-year-old Brazilian professional mixed martial artist finished Alex Perez via guillotine choke at 1 minute, 57 seconds of the first round on Saturday night to retain the UFC flyweight title in the main event of UFC 255 in Las Vegas.

Deiveson Figueiredo

The incredibly fast, explosive Figueiredo found Perez’s neck in a scramble, locked in the choke and squeezed until Perez tapped out. It was Figueiredo’s first title defense.

“I came to the flyweight division to knock out, to submit everybody,” Figueiredo said. “To bring back the excitement, show the world the power of the flyweight division. I always thought I was gonna save this weight class, because people don’t know my power.”

Figueiredo, nicknamed “God of War,” and his dynamic, all-action style has reinvigorated the 125-pound weight class.

“If you don’t like this guy, stop watching fights,” UFC president Dana White said. “You need to find a new hobby if you don’t like watching him.

“Obviously I’m glad we didn’t [get rid of flyweight]. The division needed a little bit of rebuilding. We rebuilt it, and this is the result.”

White said at the postfight news conference that Figueiredo won’t return to Brazil after this fight and will instead stay in Las Vegas to defend his title again in December.

The plan, White said, is to have Figueiredo fight top contender Brandon Moreno, who beat Brandon Royval in the UFC 255 prelims.

Sources confirmed to ESPN that Figueiredo and Moreno had verbally agreed to fight at UFC 256 on December 12.

Figueiredo asked for Moreno in his postfight interview.

“Dana, make this happen,” Figueiredo said. “That’s the fight that I want to happen.”

Going in, ESPN had Figueiredo ranked No. 2 (behind Johnson) and Perez at No. 5 in the world at flyweight. ESPN also has Figueiredo ranked No. 8 in the world in its pound-for-pound rankings.