Shane Burgos Reveals Plans to Join the Professional Fighters League (PFL)

Shane Burgos is makin’ money moves….

The 31-year-old half-Puerto Rican professional mixed martial artist has announced plans to join the Professional Fighters League (PFL).

Shane Burgos Burgos, a popular featherweight fighter, announced his plans to leave the UFC on Monday’s The MMA Hour.

Burgos fought out his UFC contract with his win over Charles Jourdain on July 16, becoming a free agent.

He said he’ll likely compete in PFL before the end of the year in an out-of-season fight and then enter either the lightweight or featherweight PFL season in 2023.

It’s a two-season contract with PFL, Burgos said. PFL season champions make $1 million in addition to their fight purses.

“I like the idea of the [season and playoffs] format being black and white,” Burgos told host Ariel Helwani. “There’s no gray area.”

Burgos said PFL offered him a significant raise, a deal where he would make in one fight what it took him multiple fights in the UFC to make. He did not go into specifics on the numbers, but said PFL will also offer him commentary opportunities in the future, which has been a post-career goal of his. Burgos said by the end of next year, he believes here’s a good chance he’ll be a “multi-millionaire.”

“I’m going to make the absolute most out of this deal,” Burgos said. It wasn’t an easy decision to leave the UFC, Burgos said. Being a UFC fighter and potential champion has been a goal of his since he was a child. But Burgos said from a financial standpoint signing with PFL was a “no brainer.”

Burgos (15-3) is on a two-fight winning streak. The New York native has won four $50,000 Fight of the Night bonuses in his last 10 fights and is known as an action fighter.

Burgos has won five of his last seven bouts overall.

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 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.

Brandon Moreno Defeats Kai Kara-France to Claim UFC’s Interim 125-Pound Title

Brandon Moreno is a UFC champion once again…

The 28-year-old Mexican professional mixed martial artist (20-6-2) claimed the interim 125-pound title in thrilling fashion on Saturday, as he finished Kai Kara-France in the third round with a nasty left body kick followed by ground and pound. The TKO came at 4 minutes, 34 seconds.

Brandon MorenoThe title fight co-headlined UFC 277 from inside American Airlines Arena. Figueiredo, the defending unified champion and a longtime rival of Moreno’s, was in attendance cageside.

UFC originally wanted Figueiredo to defend his title against Moreno this summer, but Figueiredo was unavailable due to injury. The Brazilian champion entered the Octagon after Moreno’s win and asked to do it in Brazil.

“This guy right here, tonight is his night and he is the champion,” Figueiredo said through an interpreter. “I have a lot of respect for him. … I want to take this fight home to Brazil.”

Brandon Moreno

Moreno, of Tijuana, quickly accepted the invitation. He also apologized to Figueiredo for any bad blood between them in the past. The two have had a heated rivalry, mostly from Figueiredo’s side, since 2020. Moreno challenged Figueiredo for the belt in December 2020 and fought him to a majority draw. He then beat Figueiredo by submission in an immediate rematch before losing a controversial decision in their third fight in January.

“I don’t hate you. I don’t feel nothing against you. I forgive you,” Moreno told Figueiredo. “Please forgive me if I did something bad against you. I want to fight in December.”

Saturday’s fight was Moreno’s first since he left his original training camp in Mexico and joined forces with veteran MMA coach James Krause in Missouri. It proved to be one of the most impressive performances of his career. He already held a prior decision win over Kara-France (24-10) from 2019, and the rematch was similar in that Moreno simply had more tools than the challenger from New Zealand.

He attacked Kara-France with leg kicks, jabs and right hands. He looked for the takedown when the opportunity came but didn’t force it.

However, Kara-France, 29, was certainly competitive until the finish. He relied mostly on leg kicks as his primary offense and had success with it. Moreno’s lead leg was very red from kicks early on. In the third round, Kara-France did his best work after he caught a Moreno kick and dumped him to the floor. He landed a hard elbow from top position that opened a cut under Moreno’s right eye.

Just when it appeared Kara-France had seized momentum, however, Moreno caught him with a spinning back fist and then the body kick that put him down. Kara-France immediately rolled over and covered up, which brought in a quick stoppage from referee Herb Dean, as Moreno swarmed on him with hammerfists.

Moreno, who was cut from UFC in 2018, now holds a 4-1-2 record since re-signing in 2019.

Marina Rodriguez to Fight Amanda Lemos at UFC 280

Marina Rodriguez has lined up her next opponent…

The 35-year-old Brazilian mixed martial artist will face Amanda Lemos at UFC 280 on October 22 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

Marina RodriguezRodriguez and Lemos, two of the top women’s strawweight fighters in the world, form part of one of the UFC‘s deepest cards of the year.

The winner of the bout could have the inside track on a title shot. Rodriguez is the No. 4 women’s strawweight in ESPN‘s rankings, while Lemos is No. 9.

In addition, sources told ESPN that Rodriguez and former UFC women’s strawweight champion Jessica Andrade have left manager Tiago Okamura to sign with Ali Abdelaziz of Dominance MMA, who represents the likes of welterweight champion Kamaru Usman and former pound-for-pound king Khabib Nurmagomedov.

Rodriguez (16-1-2 overall, 6-1-2 UFC) has won four straight and is coming off a split decision win over Yan Xiaonan at UFC 272 in March. The Brazilian fighter’s only career loss was a close split decision defeat to current UFC women’s strawweight champion Carla Esparza in 2020.

Lemos (12-2-1), also 35, has won six of her past seven fights, including a second-round submission victory over Michelle Waterson this past weekend at UFC Long Island. The Brazilian fighter’s only loss since 2017 came to Andrade in April. Lemos has finished four of her six wins inside the UFC Octagon.

UFC 280 will be headlined by a fight between former champion Charles Oliveira and Islam Makhachev for the vacant lightweight title. Also on the card, lightweight standouts Beneil Dariush and Mateusz Gamrot will meet in a potential title eliminator.

UFC Finalizing Plans for Nate Diaz-Khamzat Chimaev Fight in September

Nate Diaz is thisclose to his next fight…

The UFC is finalizing a welterweight fight between the Mexican-American mixed martial artist and Khamzat Chimaev.

Nate DiazThe Diaz-Chimaev fight would headline UFC 279 on September 10, UFC Chief Business Officer Hunter Campbell tells ESPN.

Contracts haven’t been signed, but both fighters have verbally agreed to the matchup and date according to Campbell. UFC 279 will take place at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

Zach Rosenfield, Diaz’s representative, confirmed the date and opponent of Diaz’s next fight.

“This is a fight Nate has been asking for since the middle of April,” Rosenfield told ESPN on Tuesday.

Diaz (20-13) has been vocal in 2022 about wishing to fight out his current UFC contract, which has one fight remaining. According to sources, Diaz’s camp and the UFC were involved in discussions around a new contract, however Diaz recently made it very clear he wished to fight out the deal.

One of the most popular fighters on the roster, Diaz hasn’t fought since a decision loss to current UFC welterweight title challenger Leon Edwards in June 2021.

Chimaev (11-0) is coming off a decision victory over Gilbert Burns at UFC 273 in April. It was the most competitive fight of Chiamev’s professional career, but it also came against a former UFC title challenger.

Chimaev, who was born in Chechnya and now fights out of Stockholm, is one of the fastest-rising title contenders in UFC history. He is 5-0 since signing with the promotion in 2020.

“I am going to handle Nate Diaz’s funeral with the UFC,” said Chimaev, in a statement he provided in Swedish to his representatives.

Valerie Loureda Signs Multiyear Contract with WWE

It’s a whole new world for Valerie Loureda.

The 23-year-old Cuban American mixed martial artist, wrestler and pro fighter, a top women’s MMA prospect with Bellator, has signed a multiyear contract with World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. (WWE), according to ESPN.

Valerie LouredaLoureda plans to move to Orlando from Miami and report to the WWE Performance Center on July 19. She’ll remain under contract with Bellator, the promotion told ESPN in a statement, but now she’ll be a full-time WWE athlete.

“I’m an entertainer,” Loureda said “I love glamour. I love production, I love storytelling. And when I saw the WWE, I realized this is everything I’m good at in one place. Not only that, but I saw the opportunity to be the first Cuban American woman to be a WWE superstar.”

Loureda said she attended WrestleMania and immediately fell in love with the glitz and spectacle of WWE, comparing it to the Super Bowl. She had a tryout in late April and early May with WWE and became so addicted with performing in the ring that she didn’t want to leave even though she hadn’t been signed yet. Loureda said she actually called her manager, Abe Kawa of First Round Management, crying.

“I said, ‘Abraham, I know I don’t have a contract, but is there any way I can stay here? I’m losing a week of training,'” Loureda said. “I just want to get better.”

WWE coaches praised Loureda’s ability, according to ESPN, and view her as a high-ceiling talent after her tryout, which included a match. Loureda signed with WWE soon after. She will remain under Bellator contract, though, per promotion president Scott Coker.

“Valerie Loureda is a very young and talented athlete who can accomplish plenty in MMA for years to come, but for now we wish her the best of luck as she pursues her dream of becoming a WWE Superstar,” Coker told ESPN in a statement. “She will remain an active and under contract fighter with Bellator, and we look forward to welcoming her back into the cage in the near future. We take great pride in allowing our athletes to test themselves in additional arenas such as boxing and pro wrestling.”

Up until the last few months, Loureda said she was committed to her MMA career with Bellator. But earlier this year, Loureda’s manager was having a conversation with former UFC executive James Kimball about WWE’s name, image and likeness (NIL) deal with AJ Ferrari, a college wrestler repped by First Round. Kawa brought up Loureda and Kimball, WWE’s senior vice president of global talent strategy & development, was interested.

Kimball suggested Kawa bring Loureda to WrestleMania, but Loureda initially was not interested. She wanted to focus on her MMA career.

“I had to beg her to come out to WrestleMania with me,” Kawa said. “I kept telling her over and over again, just trust me. When you come see this, this is you. I would never take you to something that’s not you. This is everything for you. You will fall in love with it. And she did.”

Loureda said she was sold almost instantly when she arrived at AT&T Stadium in Texas for WrestleMania 38 in early April.

“The moment I stepped into the suite and I saw the WWE organization, the professionalism and the production, I fell in love,” Loureda said. “I had goosebumps like the first time I saw MMA on the TV.”

Loureda, who is 4-1 as a pro fighter and projected to be a future star for Bellator, said her goal is to make NXT television by the end of the year and be on the WWE main roster within one year.

“I have big goals and I’m a little crazy,” Loureda said with a laugh. … “I just know what I’m gonna be able to do in the WWE. There’s no limits. I’m limitless.”

Antonio Carlos Jr. Earns No. 3 Seed in Professional Fighters League’s Light Heavyweight Playoffs

Antonio Carlos Jr. is playoff bound…

The 32-year-old Brazilian mixed martial artist (15-5) has earned a spot in the Professional Fighters League’s light heavyweight division playoffs.

Antonio Carlos Jr. Carlos, the 2021 champion, secured the No. 3 seed, with a decision win over Bruce Souto at PFL 4 on Friday.

He’ll face No. 2 seed Omari Akhmedov (23-7), who was a standout of the regular season.

Akhmedov knocked out Viktor Pesta in the regular-season opener and submitted Teodoras Aukstuolis in the second round on Friday.

Rob Wilkinson (15-2), of Australia, claimed the No. 1 seed with a first-round knockout of Pesta. He will meet Delan Monte (9-2), who snuck into the playoffs with a 1:32 knockout upset of 2019 champion Emiliano Sordi. Three of the four light heavyweights bound for the playoffs — Carlos, Akhmedov and Wilkinson — have competed previously in the UFC.

At lightweight, history repeated itself for fan favorite Clay Collard (21-10), who failed to make the playoffs for a second consecutive year thanks to a split decision loss to Alex Martinez. Collard came up just short of the 2021 playoffs, when he lost a controversial decision to eventual champion Raush Manfio. Collard disagreed with the scores and vowed to win the lightweight championship this year.

The bout between Collard and Martinez (10-2) was incredibly entertaining. Collard set a high pace on the feet, as he always does. He knocked Martinez down in the second round with a left hook and worked the body with effective combinations. Martinez took his back in the second round, however, and threatened with a choke. He won some grappling exchanges in a close, back-and-forth third round.

Former UFC champion Anthony Pettis currently leads the lightweight standings with six points. He’s scheduled for his second regular-season bout later this month. Pettis is already guaranteed a spot in the 2022 playoffs.

Meanwhile, Martinez and Olivier Aubin-Mercier each punched their ticket to the playoffs. The fourth spot will either go to Jeremy Stephens or Stevie Ray.

The other weight classes will settle into their playoff matchups in the coming weeks, including heavyweight, featherweight, welterweight and women’s lightweight.

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).

Adriano Moraes to Defend ONE Championship 135-Pound Title in Rematch Against Demetrious Johnson

It’s rematch time for Adriano Moraes.

The 33-year-old Brazilian mixed martial artist will fight Demetrious Johnson this summer.

Adriano MoraesMoraes will fight Johnson, one of the best MMA fighters of all time, in a rematch for the ONE Championship 135-pound title on August 26 in Singapore.

Moraes knocked out Johnson in an upset victory to defend the belt in April 2021.

Moraes (19-3) stopped Johnson via second-round knockout with a knee. The Brazil native, who lives and trains in Florida, has won three straight and has held the ONE 135-pound title since January 2019.

Moraes has won 11 of his past 13 fights in ONE overall.

Johnson (30-4-1) owns the record for the most consecutive UFC title defenses of all time (11), holding the title from 2012 to 2018. The Washington native was traded from the UFC to ONE in an exchange for Ben Askren in the fall of 2018.

Johnson most recently competed in a mixed rules match for ONE, beating Muay Thai standout Rodtang Jitmuangnon via second-round submission in March.

Mighty Mouse” won the ONE 135-pound grand prix tournament in 2019, setting up the fight with Moraes last year. He is 3-1 since coming to ONE and his only loss other than Moraes in the past 11 years came against Henry Cejudo in a UFC flyweight title bout in August 2018.