Thiago Santos Signs with Professional Fighters League

Thiago Santos is headed to the PFL

The 38-year-old Brazilian mixed martial artist and former UFC title challenger has signed an exclusive deal with the Professional Fighters League (PFL), according to promotion president Ray Sefo.

Thiago Santos Santos will make his PFL debut in 2023 when he competes in the promotion’s season format with a tournament championship purse of $1 million. Santos will fight in the 205-pound division.

“We are very excited to bring in Thiago Santos to the PFL light heavyweight division,” Sefo told ESPN. “He is known throughout the MMA world as a guy who delivers exciting fights, and I’m looking forward to seeing his elite knockout power up close.”

Santos most recently appeared in a UFC Fight Night main event against Jamahal Hill in August, losing via fourth-round TKO. Six of his past seven appearances in UFC were in main events, including a failed title shot against then-champion Jon Jones at UFC 239 in July 2019. Santos lost that fight via split decision.

He was nearing the end of his UFC contract, and the two sides ultimately decided to part ways. Santos had fought exclusively in UFC since 2013.

“It was an amicable separation with the UFC,” Santos’ manager Alex Davis told ESPN. “Thiago is very grateful for everything the UFC did for him, and he’s very grateful toward the PFL for signing with him. He’s looking forward to winning a million dollars.”

Fighting out of Brazil, Santos came close to dethroning Jones in their five-round title fight despite suffering a serious knee injury during the bout. He has struggled to regain his old form since the injury, suffering losses to Glover TeixeiraAleksandar RakicMagomed Ankalaev and Hill. Nevertheless, he was still ranked No. 9 in UFC’s light heavyweight division.

The 2022 PFL finals are in November. The light heavyweight final will feature two former UFC veterans in Robert Wilkinson and Omari Akhmedov.

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).

Rafael dos Anjos In Talks to Fight Rafael Fiziev in “UFC Fight Night” This Summer

Rafael dos Anjos could be heading back to the Octagon this summer…

The UFC is targeting a lightweight main event between the 37-year-old Brazilian American professional mixed martial artist and Rafael Fiziev on July 9, according to ESPN.

Rafael dos AnjosContracts haven’t been signed yet, but the UFC is close to finalizing the 155-pound fight.

It will headline UFC Fight Night at a location to be determined.

This will be the third time the UFC has booked this particular matchup. The fight was supposed to happen at a UFC Fight Night event in February but was postponed to March. It fell through again in March after Fiziev tested positive for COVID-19.

Dos Anjos (31-13) ended up fighting Renato Moicano in March and won via unanimous decision.

The former lightweight champ has won his past two via decision, against Moicano and Paul Felder.

Fiziev (11-1), of Kyrgyzstan, is quickly rising up the lightweight rankings thanks to a five-fight win streak. Most recently, he knocked out Brad Riddell in December.

Dos Anjos and Fiziev are Nos. 6 and 10 in the UFC’s official rankings.

Renato Moicano Replacing Rafael Fiziev for This Weekend’s Bout Against Rafael dos Anjos

Renato Moicano is stepping up for a battle royale…

The 32-year-old Brazilian mixed martial artist will step in on just four days’ notice to battle Rafael dos Anjos in the co-main event of UFC 272 on Saturday, according to ESPN sources.

Renato MoicanThe fight has been reportedly verbally agreed to and both sides are awaiting contracts.

dos Anjos, the former UFC lightweight champion, originally was scheduled to fight Rafael Fiziev this weekend, but Fiziev withdrew Monday due to being sick with COVID-19. dos Anjos wanted to remain on the card and UFC was able to come to an agreement with Moicano.

The new fight will be contested at a catchweight of 160 pounds over five rounds.

A few other names, including top lightweight contender Islam Makhachev, were in discussions to replace Fiziev but Moicano won out.

dos Anjos tweeted that he called Makhachev’s bluff and Makhachev “folded.” Makhachev beat Bobby Green in the UFC Fight Night main event just three days ago.

Moicano is in Brazil and still waiting to find out when he’ll be able to travel to Las Vegas, per his manager, Oren Hodak of KO Reps. Fighters traditionally arrive Tuesday of fight week if the card is on Saturday.

dos Anjos (30-13) has not fought since a split-decision win over Paul Felder in November 2020. That was the Brazil-born fighter’s return to the lightweight division from welterweight. dos Anjos was the UFC lightweight champion in 2015 and 2016 and has one of the toughest strengths of schedule in the promotion’s history.

Moicano (16-4-1) has won two straight and three of his past four, with the lone loss during that span coming to Fiziev. Training out of American Top Team in Florida, he is coming off an impressive, second-round submission win over Alexander Hernandez at UFC 271 on February 12 in Houston.

Rafael dos Anjos’ Fight Against Rafael Fiziev Moved to UFC 272 in March

Rafael dos Anjos’ return is being postponed slightly…

The 37-year-old Brazilian professional mixed martial artist and former UFC lightweight champion will now face off against Rafael Fiziev in the lightweight co-main event of UFC 272 on March 5 in Las Vegas, according to ESPN.

Rafael dos Anjosdos Anjos was initially scheduled to take on Fiziev for the UFC Fight Night headliner on February 19 in Las Vegas.

Fiziev reportedly had a visa delay, leading to the change. dos Anjos vs. Fiziev will remain a five-round fight, per sources.

The new UFC Fight Night main event on February 19 will be a five-round light heavyweight bout between Johnny Walker and Jamahal Hill, sources said.

Walker vs. Hill was initially scheduled as the UFC Fight Night co-main event.

dos Anjos (30-13) has not fought since a split-decision win over Paul Felder in November 2020.

The Brazilian-born fighter, who lives in California, moved back to lightweight for that bout after three years at welterweight. dos Anjos had dropped four of five fights against top 170-pound fighters before moving back down to 155, where he was the UFC champ in 2015 and 2016.

Fiziev (11-1) has won five in a row after dropping his UFC debut in 2019. The Kazakhstan-born fighter of Kyrgyzstani descent has won two of his last three fights via knockout, the most recent a third-round spinning wheel kick finish of Brad Riddell in December. Fiziev, 28, is considered one of the top young strikers in MMA.

UFC 272 will be headlined by a welterweight grudge match between former interim welterweight champion Colby Covington and Jorge Masvidal, owner of the mythical BMF title.

Jose Aldo Defeats Rob Font Via Unanimous Decision to Keep Bantamweight Title Hopes Alive

Jose Aldo continues his quest for a title in a new division.

The 35-year-old Brazilian professional mixed martial artist, arguably the greatest featherweight of all time with a résumé good enough to put him on the short list of the best MMA fighters ever, defeated the up-and-coming Rob Font via unanimous decision (50-45, 50-45, 49-46) in the main event of UFC Fight Night on Saturday in Las Vegas.

Jose Aldo,Aldo rocked Font several times with right hands, hurt his legs with hard kicks and damaged him with hooks to the body. He looked like the Aldo of old while also mixing in some new wrinkles as a bantamweight, such as superior grappling.

“I want to be a champion in this division, and I’m working toward that,” Aldo said through an interpreter in his post-fight interview. “Nobody is gonna stop me.”

Coming in, ESPN had Font ranked No. 5 and Aldo No. 6 in the world at 135 pounds. Aldo said afterward he’d like a title shot next, but the situation is a bit messy.

UFC bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling has been out since March following neck surgery and is likely to face Petr Yan, the former champion and current interim titleholder, to unify the titles. Yan lost the title to Sterling when he was disqualified for an illegal knee at UFC 259 on March 6.

In lieu of a chance at the title, Aldo had another proposition: former bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw, who beat Cory Sandhagen over the summer in his return from a two-year doping suspension. Dillashaw is currently recovering from knee surgery.

“Dillashaw is right there,” Aldo said. “Let me fight Dillashaw.”

The fight Saturday was a story of volume versus power. Font had a lot of success with his boxing, especially early on and with his jab. But Aldo was mostly unfazed by the blows. Meanwhile, Aldo rocked or dropped Font in every round except for the third. Font had moments but never hurt Aldo the way Aldo hurt him.

Aldo nearly finished Font in the fourth and fifth rounds. The fifth was the closest. Font knew he was down on the cards and was coming forward looking for a stoppage victory. But Aldo lit him up with a right cross and dropped him. Aldo followed with shots on the ground, took Font’s back and nearly had a choke locked in. Font, though, survived until the bell.

Aldo’s two takedowns were the first ones of his five-fight bantamweight run in UFC, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

“I’m gonna be standing up, I’m gonna be going to the ground,” Aldo said. “I want to be all-around. This is the new Aldo you see.”

Aldo (31-7) held the UFC/WEC featherweight title for parts of six years (2009-15), including seven title defenses, a record in that division. The Brazil native moved down to bantamweight in 2019. He lost his first two fights there, including a vacant title bout against Yan. But Aldo has won three straight and looked very good in wins over contenders Pedro Munhoz and Marlon “Chito” Vera before Saturday.

This is Aldo’s first three-fight winning streak since his 18-fight winning streak was broken in 2015 by Conor McGregor. He cashed as a +125 underdog Saturday, marking just the seventh time he was an underdog in his UFC career.

Font (19-5) had a four-fight winning streak snapped. Most recently before Saturday, he took home a unanimous-decision win over former bantamweight champion Cody Garbrandt. The Massachusetts native had not lost since 2018. Font, 34, sports a 9-4 UFC record and looked better than ever since returning from knee surgery last year.

“The guy is a legend,” Font said of Aldo. “He’s tough, man. I feel like I can beat him, but it just wasn’t my night. Hats off to him. … I just went five rounds with one of the legends of the sport. I’m gonna get better off this, for sure.”

Ketlen Vieira Foils Miesha Tate’s Comeback with Unanimous Decision Win

Ketlen Vieira has foiled Miesha Tate’s comeback…

The 30-year-old Brazilian mixed martial artist defeated Tate, one of the most popular women’s fighters in MMA history, via unanimous decision (48-47, 48-47, 49-46) in the main event of UFC Fight Night on Saturday in Las Vegas.

Ketlen Vieira

Vieira used her counterpunching and length to win the standup battle and bloody Tate badly in the fifth and final round.

“That’s what I’m here for — I’m here to fight the best,” Vieira said through an interpreter. “Respect my skills.”

ESPN had Vieira ranked No. 8 in the world at women’s bantamweight entering Saturday.

Tate is the former UFC women’s bantamweight champion who returned after a five-year layoff in July with a TKO win over Marion Reneau. With a victory, Tate was hoping to earn a title shot against old rival Amanda Nunes, but she will have to go back to the drawing board.

“I’ve always dreamed about being in a main event against a legend,” said Vieira. “To be able to live that moment and get a victory, I don’t have words to express.”

The fight had many close rounds. Vieira admitted she was hesitant early on. Tate was the aggressor and landed hard shots in the early rounds. Vieira, though, always seemed to have an answer on the counter. The first round was a tossup, with both women landing big right hands. In the second, Vieira started to get into more of a rhythm, landing combinations.

Vieira kept that momentum in the third round, landing a beautiful right uppercut-left hook combination several times. Tate rebounded in a solid fourth round, landing a hard right hand at the round’s outset and then a takedown later on. Vieira really got off again with her punching combos in the fifth round, blasting Tate and making her bloody with a big right hand. By the end of the fight, Tate had a swollen left eye, bloody nose and lumped up face.

“The real thing is about enjoying the journey,” Tate said. “This is just a moment in time, you guys. We all have moments in our life. … What else can I say? I get to go home and kiss my two kids. Life is great.”

Tate was transported to the hospital after the fight for a CT scan on her head and face, according to UFC.

Vieira said she will be in Las Vegas for 10 more days and would love to work with Tate in the gym while she is in town.

“I’d love to have the chance and opportunity to train with her. She’s a legend,” Vieira said. “I look up to her.”

Added Vieira: “Miesha Tate is a world champion. She’s one of the best fighters in the world.”

Vieira (12-2) came in having lost two of her past three fights, most recently a unanimous decision loss to Yana Kunitskaya in February. She is now 2-2 in her past four. The Brazil native was 10-0 prior to this recent stretch. Vieira, 30, owns career wins over Cat Zingano and Sara McMann.

Tate (19-8) returned from retirement July 17 with a third-round TKO win over Reneau — Tate’s first-ever KO/TKO in UFC. The Washington native, who lives and trains in Las Vegas, retired in November 2016 after back-to-back losses to Nunes and Raquel Pennington.

Only Nunes has more wins in the UFC women’s bantamweight division since 2016 than Vieira, who has six victories during that span, tied with Irene Aldana and Pennington.

Tate, 35, won the UFC women’s bantamweight title at UFC 196 in March 2016 with a fifth-round submission win over Holly Holm and lost it to Nunes at UFC 200 four months later. “Cupcake” is also known for her well-publicized feud with Ronda Rousey, which included two grudge matches.

Thiago Santos In Final Talks to Face Magomed Ankalaev in UFC Fight Night Next March

Thiago Santos could be returning to The Octagon in March…

The UFC is finalizing a light heavyweight fight between the 37-year-old mixed martial artist and Magomed Ankalaev to headline an event in March, according to ESPN.

Thiago Santos

The 205-pound contest will serve as the main event of a UFC Fight Night on March 12. The UFC has not announced a location yet for the event.

A former title challenger, Santos (22-9) is coming off a decision win over Johnny Walker in October. The Brazilian fighter challenged former champion Jon Jones for the title in July 2019 and suffered a serious knee injury in a decision loss. He dropped his next two bouts coming off knee surgery before rebounding in October.

Ankalaev (16-1) is one of the fastest-rising contenders in the division. The 29-year-old Russian is on a seven-fight win streak, including a decision over former title challenger Volkan Oezdemir at UFC 267 two weeks ago.

Loopy Godinez Set to Make Modern UFC History Once Again with Fight Against Loma Lookboonmee

Lupita Loopy Godinez isn’t afraid to stay busy…

The 28-year-old Mexican mixed martial artist and UFC fighter will step in on short notice to fight Loma Lookboonmee at UFC Fight Night on November 20 in Las Vegas, UFC officials have confirmed.

Loopy Godinez Godinez’s next fight comes one month after she fought twice in the span of two weeks, making history during that period.

Lookboonmee’s original opponent, Cheyanne Buys, withdrew this week after testing positive for COVID-19, Buys wrote on Instagram. Godinez vs. Lookboonmee will be contested at strawweight.

When she steps into the Octagon next week, Godinez will set a modern UFC record with three fights in the span of 43 days, per ESPN Stats & Information research. The previous record was 65 days set by Dustin Pague in 2012. Top UFC prospect Khamzat Chimaev fought three times in 67 days last year.

Godinez’s activity would be the shortest span between three fights since Tank Abbott and Don Frye fought three times in one night at UFC: Ultimate Ultimate 96 on December 7, 1996.

Godinez (6-2) beat Silvana Gomez Juarez via first-round submission in her second UFC bout October 9. A week later, the Mexican fighter, who lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, fell to Luana Carolina via unanimous decision October 16 in a flyweight fight. Godinez, 28, is 1-2 in the UFC.

Lookboonmee (6-2), a 25-year-old prospect out of Thailand, has won two straight in the UFC.

Jorge Masvidal to Fight Leon Edwards at UFC 269 in December

Jorge Masvidal is preparing for a grudge match

One of the most infamous backstage scuffles in UFC history will be revisited in December, when the 36-year-old Cuban and Peruvian American mixed martial artist and fellow UFC welterweight Leon Edwards have agreed to meet inside the Octagon.

Jorge Masvidal

Edwards and Masvidal will square off at UFC 269 on December 11, UFC chief business officer Hunter Campbell told ESPN. Contracts have not yet been signed, but bout agreements have been sent to both parties.

This fight has held personal implications since March 2019, when Edwards and Masvidal were involved in a backstage incident at a UFC Fight Night event in London. Masvidal struck Edwards in the face after Edwards interrupted him during a postfight interview.

Later in the night, Masvidal would infamously describe the punches he landed on Edwards as a “three-piece and soda.”

Masvidal wrote in a tweet Monday: “You’re welcome #supernecessary”

In addition to settling a long-standing grudge, the matchup will have major implications on the welterweight division. Edwards (19-3) is riding a nine-fight win streak and is a strong candidate for a title shot in 2022. Masvidal (35-15) is coming off back-to-back failed title bids against Kamaru Usman in 2020 and 2021 but has said his goal is still to claim the UFC championship.

“Despite earning the next title shot, [Edwards] has always been willing to fight Jorge first, provided the terms were correct,” Edwards’ manager, Tim Simpson, told ESPN. “We are very happy with the deal, and excited to compete in December, and then for a world title thereafter.”

As a result of the UFC adding this high-profile bout to the card, a trilogy flyweight title fight between Brandon Moreno and Deiveson Figueiredo has been moved to UFC 270 on January 22, according to the UFC.

UFC 270 on January 22 does not have an official location yet, but sources told ESPN the promotion is looking at Anaheim, which is only about 100 miles north of Moreno’s hometown of Tijuana, Mexico.