Larissa Pacheco Upsets Kayla Harrison to Claim PFL Women’s Lightweight Championship Belt

The third time proved to be the charm for Larissa Pacheco

The 28-year-old Brazilian mixed martial artist, who twice before had faced two-time defending PFL women’s lightweight champion Kayla Harrison and had lost both times times, has finally logged a victory.

Larissa Pacheco,Pacheco defeated Harrison, considered the PFL’s most dominant fighter, on Friday night in New York.

The fight was one of six weight division Professional Fighters League season championship finals contested inside Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden.

Harrison (15-1), a two-time Olympic gold medalist in judo, came in as an 8-1 betting favorite. She and the PFL were already making plans for next year, removing her from regular-season competition in order to book her in “superfights,” presumably with a step up in competition. Pacheco might have spoiled those plans.

The fight started well for Harrison, who scored an early takedown and threatened a submission for much of the first round. But Pacheco (19-4) withstood those difficult five minutes and fought back in the second round, using her powerful stand-up skills to land heavy strikes and utilizing strong takedown defense to turn the tide.

The fight appeared to be tied going into the fifth round, and Pacheco was the fresher fighter at that point. She landed some hard punches on Harrison, who eventually landed a takedown but could not capitalize.

All three judges scored the bout 48-47 in favor of Pacheco. Before this bout, Harrison had not lost even a single round in her career. Harrison is No. 8 in the ESPN pound-for-pound women’s top 10, the only PFL fighter in either those rankings or the divisional ones.

When Pacheco was awarded the championship belt and an oversized replica of a $1 million check, she credited her opponent for playing a role in getting her to where she now stands in her career.

“Just like Kayla said before: I’ve always made her a better competitor,” Pacheco said through an interpreter. “Well, she’s always made me a better competitor. She drove me to this moment.”

Alex Pereira Defeats Israel Adesanya via TKO to Claim UFC Middleweight Title

Alex Pereira has pulled off a massive upset…

The 35-year-old Brazilian professional mixed martial artist and former kickboxer stopped Israel Adesanya via TKO at 2 minutes, 1 second of the fifth and final round this weekend in the main event of UFC 281 at Madison Square Garden.

Alex Pereira With the victory, Pereira won the UFC middleweight title in just his fourth fight with the promotion. Adesanya had been the champion since 2019.

Adesanya had been winning the fight until the final sequence, with Pereira firing a barrage of punches with Adesanya hurt against the cage. Referee Marc Goddard stepped in to stop it after a flurry of left hooks and right hands, though Adesanya was never dropped.

Pereira said that in his corner before the fifth round, his coaches and his MMA mentor Glover Teixeira, the former UFC light heavyweight champion, “kept it real” with him.

“I said, ‘Do I have to knock him out?'” Pereira said through an interpreter. “Glover said, ‘You do have to knock him out.’ I said, ‘OK, let’s do it.'”

Pereira and Adesanya fought twice before in kickboxing, with Pereira winning both times, the most recent a 2017 knockout of Adesanya.

“It’s another great story for him, but it’s not over,” Adesanya said. “This is still war.”

Coming in, ESPN had Adesanya ranked No. 2 on its pound-for-pound list of best MMA fighters. At middleweight, Adesanya was No. 1, and Pereira was ranked No. 7.

All three judges had Adesanya ahead 39-37 going into the fifth round, with Adesanya winning every round except the second. There were similar circumstances in their second kickboxing match, with Adesanya dominating the first two rounds before Pereira knocked him out in the third.

“F—ing crazy, isn’t it?” Adesanya said. “Similar to the last time — same story.”

In the first round on Saturday, Adesanya rocked Pereira at the end, and a wobbly Pereira was essentially saved by the bell. Pereira came back strong in the second round with a pair of his signature left hooks. Adesanya was able to keep Pereira at bay in the third and fourth and even did some wrestling and grappling to win the third.

In the fifth, Adesanya oddly stumbled and rolled backward after a leg kick exchange. He said in the postfight news conference that Pereira landed a kick to the peroneal nerve of his right leg, which can numb the leg.

“That’s why my footwork was compromised,” Adesanya said. “It was just my leg. My leg gave away. Kudos to him. He invested in those [calf kicks] well.”

Pereira (7-1) knocked out Sean Strickland in the first round at UFC 276 in July to earn the title shot. The Brazilian slugger has six KO/TKOs in seven career MMA victories and is 4-0 in the UFC. Pereira, is a former Glory Kickboxing middleweight and light heavyweight champion.

“So many years of hard work and dedication, and here I am, champion of the world,” Pereira said.

Adesanya (23-2) had won three straight fights and was undefeated at middleweight coming into this bout. His only career loss before this was in a light heavyweight title fight last year against Jan Blachowicz. The Nigerian-born New Zealand resident had five successful middleweight title defenses following a win over Robert Whittaker to earn the belt in October 2019. Adesanya, 33, was coming off a unanimous decision win over Jared Cannonier at UFC 276 in July.

UFC president Dana White said he wouldn’t rule out an immediate rematch between Pereira and Adesanya, which Adesanya said he is expecting.

“He’s been a great champion for us,” White said of Adesanya. “He likes to fight all the time. He doesn’t say no. He’ll fight anybody. Those are fun guys to have. And he’s a good person.”

CBS to Present Mariah Carey’s Primetime Holiday Concert Special Next Month

Mariah Carey is ready to spread a little holiday cheer…

The 52-year-old half-Venezuelan American singer, songwriter, actress, and record producer, also known as the Queen of Christmas, is returning with a two-hour primetime holiday concert special next month.

Mariah CareyCBS will present Mariah Carey: Merry Christmas to All! on Tuesday, December 20 from 8:00-10:00 pm, ET/PT. The show will also be available to stream live and on demand on Paramount+.

Filmed in New York City at Madison Square Garden, the concert special will feature the singer-songwriter performing a repertoire of her festive holiday hits, including the perennial favorite, “All I Want for Christmas Is You.”

MTV will offer additional opportunities to view the special after the CBS broadcast.

Carey is the best-selling female artist of all-time, with more than 200 million albums sold to-date and 19 Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 singles. She is also an inductee to the Songwriters Hall of Fame, and has been recognized with multiple Grammy Awards, numerous American Music Awards, three Guinness World Record titles, both Billboard’s Artist of the Decade and Icon awards, the World Music Award for World’s Best Selling Female Artist of the Millennium, the Ivor Novello Award for PRS for Music Special International Award and BMI’s Icon Award for her outstanding achievements in songwriting.

Mariah Carey: Merry Christmas To All! is a coproduction of Sony Music Entertainment and Supply & Demand. Carey, Joseph Kahn, Charleen Manca and Nicola Doring are executive producers. Sony Music Entertainment is distributing the special.

Mariah Carey to Perform Two Christmas Concerts This Holiday Season

Mariah Carey is planning for an extra special holiday season.

The 52-year-old half-Venezuelan American Grammy-winning singer, songwriter and actress, the Queen of Christmas, has revealed plans to perform a pair of Christmas shows.

Mariah CareyCarey will deck the halls with all her jingle bell best during a set of her classic holiday songs.

“It’s almost time NEW YORK + Toronto!!!” she wrote. “Come celebrate Christmas with me this December! lil’ excited lil’ excited to be back on stage and get festive with everybody!!”

Tickets for the shows — December 11 at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, December 13 at Madison Square Garden in New York — will go on sale on Friday (October 28) at 10:00 am ET on Ticketmaster.

According to a release, these will be Mariah’s only Christmas concerts this yuletide season and fans purchase a ticket will also get a chance to buy an exclusive t-shirt and a copy of the singer’s illustrated holiday fairytale book, The Christmas Princess, which is due out on November 1.

The announcement also tees up the annual chart watch to see if Carey’s perennial Christmas classic, “All I Want For Christmas Is You,” will hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for a fourth year in a row.

Last week, the Christmas Queen got fans excited to get in the spirit by teasing the kick-off to “All I Want for Christmas Is You” season by tweeting, “It’s almost time…,” in which she showed off her festive red robe draped on the steps leading to her luxurious jacuzzi-style bathtub. The scene was filled out with a giant display of red and white roses spelling out her initials.

But, before you get too revved up, as the first, twinkly notes of “All I Want for Christmas Is You” bubbled up, Mariah tapped the brakes and in a follow-up tweet cautioned, “Not yet.”

Chris Avila to Fight YouTube star Doctor Mike in October

Chris Avila is puttin’ on the boxing gloves…

The 29-year-old Latino UFC and Bellator MMA veteran will compete against YouTube star Doctor Mike in a four-round, professional boxing match on October 29 in Glendale, Arizona.

Chris AvilaThe contracted weight will be 185 pounds, and the pair will fight with 10-ounce gloves. An official announcement is expected to be made soon.

Doctor Mike, whose real name is Mikhail Varshavski, is a well-known social media influencer with more than 23 million followers across platforms and more than 10 million YouTube subscribers.

Varshavski competed in an amateur boxing match back in May, a unanimous decision win over YouTube personality IaniDubbbzWashburn. That event raised $1.3 million for charity, and Varshavski donated his entire fight purse to Ukraine relief. For the Avila fight, Varshavski will donate his purse to the Boys & Girls Club, per officials.

“As a practicing physician, I’ve taken an oath to ‘do no harm,’ but when those ‘exam’ gloves come off and the boxing gloves slide on: all bets are off,” Varshavski said via a statement. “With one win under my belt, I’m hungry to add more. And this pro-fight with Chris Avila could be just what the doctor ordered.”

This will be Varshavski’s pro boxing debut, as he joins the likes of Jake Paul as famous YouTubers competing against professional boxers.

Avila is 1-1 as a pro boxer and is an eight-year veteran of mixed martial arts, a longtime member of Nate Diaz‘s team in Northern California. Most recently, Avila beat Paul sparring partner Anthony Taylor last December in a boxing match via majority decision. Avila is expected to be the first fighter signed to Diaz’s new promotional entity Real Fight Inc., which is still going through the process of getting licensed by athletic commissions.

“Hmmmm, let’s see. I am giving him a height advantage, a reach advantage and a medical degree advantage,” Avila said on Tuesday. “It’s whatever though. If he wants to go to boxing fantasy camp, then I’m glad to give him the lesson he wants. A real fight against a real fighter who is not here to play games or clout chase for Instagram.”

Also on the card, Paul’s Most Valuable Promotions‘ top prospect, 18-year-old Ashton Sylve, will face boxing veteran Braulio Rodriguez in an eight-round fight contracted at 133 pounds, per officials. Sylve is undefeated at 7-0 with seven knockouts, and Rodriguez (20-4, 17 KOs) is just one fight removed from competing against Ryan Garcia, a 2018 knockout loss at Madison Square Garden. This represents a major step up in competition for Sylve.

The card will be put on by MVP and distributed by Showtime.

“MVP was started 14 months ago with a goal to elevate fighters and provide a platform that puts them first,” Paul and MVP co-founder Nakisa Bidarian said via a statement. “From the highest levels of boxing like Amanda Serrano, to young elite prospects like Ashton Sylve and unique crossover matchups like Avila vs. Dr. Mike, we pride ourselves on delivering exciting events that have something for everyone. On Saturday October 29, we are proud to partner with Showtime once again and deliver a night of boxing for the ages.”

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.”

Carla Esparza to Defend UFC Women’s Strawweight Title Against Zhang Weili

Carla Esparza is ready to defend her title…

The 34-year-old part-Mexican and part-Ecuadorian American will face off against Zhang Weili at Madison Square Garden in a UFC women’s strawweight title fight.

Carla Esparza

Esperza, the current champion, and Zhang, the former champ, has been verbally agreed to for UFC 281 on November 12 in New York, according to ESPN.

The fight hasn’t yet been signed, nor officially announced by the UFC. But bout agreements have been sent out, per sources.

Both fighters have posted about the fight on their respective social media accounts. The news of the fight was first reported by MMA reporter Ariel Helwani.

ESPN has Esparza ranked No. 1 in the world at 115 pounds and Zhang at No. 3.

Esparza (19-6) became a two-time UFC women’s strawweight champion when she beat Rose Namajunas via split decision at UFC 274 back in May. The California native was the first-ever UFC women’s strawweight champion, beating Namajunas to win The Ultimate Fighter — and the inaugural belt — in 2014. Esparza, 34, is on a six-fight winning streak.

Zhang (22-3) is coming off a second-round knockout of Joanna Jedrzejczyk in June. The Chinese-born fighter lost the title to Namajunas at UFC 261 in April 2021 and then lost the rematch to Namajunas at Madison Square Garden last November at UFC 268. Zhang, 33, became the first Chinese-born fighter and second Asia-born fighter to win a UFC title when she beat Jessica Andrade to win the 115-pound belt in 2019.

UFC 281 will be headlined by a middleweight title fight between champion Israel Adesanyaand former kickboxing rival and top contender Alex Pereira.

Alex Pereira to Fight UFC Middleweight Champion Israel Adesanya at UFC 281

Alex Pereira is taking on a champion…

Israel Adesanya will defend his UFC middleweight title against the 35-year-old Brazilian professional mixed martial artist and former kickboxer, his old rival, in the headliner of UFC 281 on November 12 in New York’s Madison Square Garden.

Alex Pereira

Pereira owns two wins over Adesanya in kickboxing, including one via knockout. ESPN has Adesanya ranked tied for third on its pound-for-pound MMA list. At middleweight, Adesanya is No. 1 and Pereira is No. 7.

Pereira, a former two-division Glory Kickboxing champion, beat Adesanya in kickboxing once by decision in 2016 and then again a year later via knockout.

Adesanya (23-1) is undefeated in his career at middleweight. The Nigerian-born New Zealand resident has won three straight since falling in a light heavyweight title bout to Jan Blachowicz in March 2021. Adesanya, 33, owns five successful title defenses at middleweight, holding the undisputed title since October 2019.

Pereira (6-1) is coming off a first-round knockout of Sean Strickland at UFC 276 last month, the same card in which Adesanya defended his title successfully against Jared Cannonier. The Brazilian slugger has five finishes in six career pro MMA victories since coming over from kickboxing.

Pereira, 35, is 3-0 in the UFC with a pair of $50,000 Performance of the Night bonuses to his name.

Amanda Serrano to Share Fight Card with Jake Paul in Return to Madison Square Garden in August

Amanda Serrano is returning to the ring this summer…

The 33-year-old Puerto Rican professional boxer, mixed martial artist and professional wrestler will once again share a fight card with Jake Paul when they fight on August 6 at Madison Square Garden in what they’re labeling “two main events.”

Amanda SerranoThe fights will be on Showtime Pay Per View. It’s the second straight fight for Serrano at MSG and Paul’s first in the iconic venue.

Serrano will fight at featherweight, where she’ll defend her WBO and WBC belts for the first time since her August 29, 2021 fight against Yamileth Mercado.

Serrano, one of two clients of Paul’s management and promotional company, Most Valuable Promotions, last fought on April 30 at a sold-out Madison Square Garden in a fight considered one of the best in women’s boxing history in a split-decision loss to Katie Taylor for the undisputed lightweight championship.

This will be the fourth fight for Serrano (42-2-1, 30 KO) attached to Paul. She first fought as the co-main event on Paul’s first fight against Tyron Woodley last August.

She signed with his promotional company a month later and fought as the co-main event on Paul’s second fight against Woodley in December.

She then fought Taylor in April, which was co-promoted by Paul and Eddie Hearn from Matchroom Boxing.

There was thinking that Serrano’s next fight would be a rematch against Taylor in Ireland later this year — Serrano and Paul both said they would be open to it immediately after the April fight — but Hearn told multiple outlets in the past couple of weeks that such a fight would not take place in Ireland in the immediate future.

Paul (5-0, 4 KO) last fought in December, knocking out  Woodley. He said he was going to take a break after fighting four times in 13 months between November 2020 and December 2021, then announced an August return to the ring the day after Serrano fought Taylor at MSG in April.

“Back in the gym, back to training and excited, more excited and motivated than ever,” Paul told ESPN back in March. “You know, that was Chapter 1 of my boxing career, that was my rookie season, and now I get to go on another chapter here.”

Paul had initially said he was returning to the ring on August 13, but has now moved it up a week.

HBO Max to Release “Menudo: Forever Young” Documentary This Summer

Here’s your chance to relive Ricky Martin’s breakthrough moments…

HBO Max will release Menudo: Forever Young, a new documentary about the Latin American boy band that helped make the 50-year-old Puerto Rican singer, songwriter and actor a star.

Ricky Martin, MenudoHailing from filmmakers Angel Manuel Soto and Kristofer Ríos, the documentary will be released on June 23.

The premiere will follow the project’s debut at the 2022 Tribeca Festival on June 11.

Menudo was formed by producer Edgardo Diaz in 1977 with five original members: Ricky Melendez, brothers Carlos and Oscar Meléndez, and the Sallaberry brothers, Fernando and Nefty. The group changed members often mostly after the pre-teen and early teenage boys aged out around age 15 or 16. Two of its most famous members include Ricky Martin and Draco Rosa (as Robbi Rosa).

Diaz, who served as the band’s manager, was accused of sexual abuse by multiple members beginning in 1991. He denied the allegations that same year on El Show De Cristina, a popular talk show at the time hosted by Cristina Saralegui.

Menudo disbanded in 2009 though reunion tours and performances have taken place with various former members.

The four-part documentary will deep dive into the rise and fall of the boy band, including the allegations against Diaz.

“The Puerto Rican diaspora in New York played a critical role in the success of Menudo and its crossover in the US, shutting down traffic for blocks surrounding the band’s hotel and selling out Madison Square Garden on multiple occasions,” said Soto in a statement. “We couldn’t be more excited to premiere this series in their backyard at TriBeCa and honor their contribution to the band’s legacy.”

Menudo: Forever Young is executive produced by Cristina Costantini and Jeff Plunkett of Muck MediaAlex Fumero of Trojan Horse, Bryn Mooser and Justin Lacob of XTR, and Soto.

Costantini and Fumero most recently collaborated on the popular Netflix documentary Mucho, Mucho Amor following the life of Walter Mercado.