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Just a little more than one week before the UFC’s return to the Philippines, the event has lost its headliner.
MMAjunkie today confirmed with a person with knowledge of the booking that B.J. Penn (16-10-2 MMA, 12-9-2 UFC) has suffered an injury in training and has been forced out of a planned matchup with Ricardo Lamas (16-5 MMA, 7-3 UFC) in the main event of UFC Fight Night 97. That person was not allowed to speak publicly because the withdrawal has not been formally announced.
It’s currently unclear if the UFC will be able to replace Penn in time for the event.
UFC Fight Night 97 takes place Oct. 15 at SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay, Manila, Philippines. The entire event streams on UFC Fight Pass.
It appears the UFC’s first visit to the New York state capital city has its first fight.
Heavyweight Anthony Hamilton (15-5 MMA, 3-3 UFC) says he’s been booked for a fight against Francis Ngannou (8-1 MMA, 3-0 UFC) at UFC Fight Night 102 in Albany. Hamilton told the news to Las Vegas NBC Sports Radio affiliate AM 920, though the UFC has not yet formally announced the fight.
As it turns out, Mirsad Bektic will be able to fight at UFC 204.
The UFC announced Tuesday featherweight Bektic will face Russell Doane. Doane takes the fight on five days' notice and is the third-announced opponent for Bektic.
Jose Aldo wants to leave the UFC and the sport for good, and says that not even an offer to rematch Conor McGregor would change his mind.
In an interview with Brazilian sports channel SporTV on Monday, Aldo said that not even a call from UFC president Dana White saying that he would fight McGregor would convince him to not leave the promotion or retire from the sport.
"No. Not even that because that would be the right thing to happen," Aldo said. "This fight is the fight that should happen next in the featherweight division. I conquered that [right] ever since I entered the UFC. I saw other champions losing and fighting right away for the belt. That was the right thing.
"I didn’t fight for the belt. They made me fight for the interim title, I went there and won, and still have no definition whatsoever. To me, not even a fight with McGregor… It’s not about him being fighting now or not. I don’t care where he’s going. I want to follow my path. Today, the right is me getting released from the contract."
"It’s hard for me. If there’s something good [the UFC can do] is release me," he said. "I don’t want to fight for other promotion. I’m at the level above. There’s no reason why leave the first division to fight at the second division when I’m well appreciated in the first division, it would mean taking a step back. I don’t want to fight for other promotion. I want to follow my way in a different sport, do new things. I’m a young guy, and I want to enjoy that side, too.
"A good thing would be if they release me without a fight. I’m not mad at the UFC or no one else. I like Dana, I have a special love for Lorenzo [Fertitta], a guy that always treated me well since I got to the UFC. If there’s something good from this, I hope they release me so I can follow my way and the UFC follows its way."
A UFC fighter has been removed from his scheduled fight after a domestic violence arrest.
Michael Graves was arrested by Atlanta police Saturday for misdemeanor battery (family violence) Saturday, according to Fulton County jail records. The welterweight fighter was given $5,000 bail, but has yet to be released, per the county website.
UFC senior vice president of public relations Dave Sholler told MMA Fighting on Monday in a statement that Graves has been taken out of his fight against Sergio Moraes at UFC Fight Night 100 on Nov. 19 in Brazil.
While no official cause for his condition has been made available, the Internet has run wild with speculation, probably because it’s the Internet and that’s kind of why it exists these days.
But Samman’s mother recently issued a statement to reporter Christopher Rothstein (via FOX Sports) to shoot down some of the recent rumors:
"Josh is still in a coma, and more tests are being done. That is the latest update on my son's condition. And in spite of speculation, there was no heroin found in Josh's system whatsoever. No matter what people are posting on social media. The reason I am making this statement is, because Josh touched so many lives, and loved inspiring others, especially young people. I don't want them to lose faith in him, and whatever he brought out in them, because of the lies. He would want them to ‘never give up."
It's been almost a year since Ronda Rousey last stepped foot in the Octagon. but despite that absence, UFC President Dana White is still singing her praises.
Recently, while doing promotion for the UFC's upcoming debut at Madison Square Garden in November, White spoke to Hot 97 where he fielded questions about Ronda Rousey and whether she was the biggest star in the history of the UFC.
"By far. Not even close, by far the biggest star ever."
"Ronda Rousey is such a big star that when you go down to Brazil - I don't know if you guys have watched any of the fights we do from Brazil — they don't care who you are. They want the Brazilian to whoop your ass. When Ronda went down there, they cheered for Ronda over the Brazilian. Never seen that before in my life and will probably never see it again. That's how big Ronda Rousey is."
"The truth with Ronda is this: Ronda Rousey worked her ass off for four years. She worked hard. All the time she fought, all the PR that she did for us, and more importantly the training. The training takes a lot out of you. And after the loss she said, 'I need a break. I need time off.' And the minute anybody says that in this business...you don't do that in this sport. Your head has to be in this game 24-7 and you've got to be a killer. The minute you think you need a break, you definitely need a break."
Lawler's teammate at American Top Team, Bellator contender Muhammed Lawal, believes the decision for Lawler to withdraw was necessary to protect the 34-year-old veteran, who suffered a brutal knockout loss to Tyron Woodley on July 30 at UFC 201.
"It's like this, personally, me, I think that Robbie shouldn't fight until December or January," Lawal said recently on The MMA Hour. "Take time off, because these past two years, man, at the gym, Robbie's been going to the max. Take some time to recharge, because Cerrone is a good fighter, it's a great fight for the fans -- why rush it? Cerrone ain't going nowhere. Cerrone is always in shape, always ready. So once Robbie recharges, if Cerrone wants to fight Robbie, then they can fight."
"Robbie, he's always in shape. It's just that, why rush it," Lawal said. "The past two years, man, his schedule and his fights -- man, take some time for your family, take some time for yourself. Recharge. After his last three fights, the following Monday he's back in the gym, lifting weights or doing something. He really hasn't stepped away from the gym. He has to be forced out by coach Kami (Barzini), like, ‘hey, go home. Go do something. Go fish, go mow your lawn, go do something. Go swimming.' They have to push him out of there because he always wants to be in there."
Law enforcement officers found UFC fighter Josh Samman unresponsive and his friend dead in a Florida home Thursday evening, the Hollywood (Fla.) Police Department said Monday in a statement.
Samman was breathing and had a pulse, but was not responding. The deceased was identified as Troy Kirkingburg, Samman's friend and the announcer for Samman's Florida MMA promotion. Police responded to the "call of a possible drug overdose," per the statement.
Samman and Kirkingburg were found by a friend, Hunter Sundberg, who called 911 and administered CPR until police arrived, the release said.
Police said there were no signs of foul play and detectives are currently investigating.
Samman, 28, has been in the hospital since Thursday in a coma, per the Tallahassee Democrat. He was in critical condition as of Saturday morning.
Company president Dana White declared that Punk's next fight would likely not be inside the Octagon, stating that it would be in his best interest to get some more experience on the regional circuit, first. However, during a recent interview on the "UFC Unfiltered" podcast, White didn't completely rule out CM's return to the eight-walled cage.
"So what I told him to do is go home, spend some time with your wife, be normal for a little while and we'll get on the phone and talk. Obviously we haven't talked yet, but we will, we'll see what's next," said White.
That said, Dana isn't taking anything off the table when it comes to the ex-WWE superstar.
"You know, we'll see. I've got to talk to him, see where his head's at and what he's thinking, you know."
As Michael Bisping gets set to tangle with Dan Henderson for the UFC middleweight title in less than two weeks' time at UFC 204, a mini-tournament of sorts is expected to help determine the next challenger in line.
The reigning champ has two main thoughts about the impending fights: 1. Romero should be disqualified from consideration for a title shot due to his recent USADA suspension; 2. Weidman is the fight which interests him the most out of the four potential opponents, should Bisping beat Henderson.
"I'll tell you who I don't think deserves it -- Yoel Romero," Bisping said on Monday's edition of The MMA Hour. "I don't think he deserves it. There's no smoke without fire. He got a reduced sentence, but the fact is, he still got a sentence. Even if you take performance enhancing drugs, the benefits of those stay in your system for a long, long time. So I don't think Yoel Romero deserves it."
"I would like Chris Weidman simply because, listen, for all the back and forth and the s--- talking and because for all of that, I respect Chris Weidman," Bisping said. "I like Chris Weidman and what he does. He's got a little bit of a case of sour grapes and this and that, he's talking a lot s--- about me, but, you know, I respect this guy, the way carries himself and this and that, you know, he's a likable guy. But he's talking shit, so I'd like to fight him."
With a week to go, Mirsad Bektic needs a replacement opponent – again.
On the same day Jeremy Kennedy (9-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC) was announced as a replacement for injured featherweight Arnold Allen (11-1 MMA, 2-0 UFC) at next week’s UFC 204 event, a UFC official today confirmed with MMAjunkie that Kennedy has also been forced off the card with an undisclosed injury.
Bektic (10-0 MMA, 3-0 UFC) now awaits yet another replacement opponent.
Three months ago, Bisping found himself directly in the crosshairs of Georges St-Pierre when the welterweight legend declared Bisping his "first choice" as an opponent for St-Pierre's UFC return. The fight between two of the most well-traveled fighters in UFC history ultimately failed to come together, as the promotion instead granted Bisping a shot at revenge against Henderson. However, Bisping would be more than willing to revisit talks with St-Pierre after UFC 204.
"If GSP wants to come out of retirement," Bisping recently said, "if he's finally grown a set of balls to become a fighter again, (I could) beat Anderson Silva, beat Dan Henderson, beat Luke Rockhold, beat GSP? Yeah, why not. Of course."
Let the "legends ass kicking tour" commence.
Fight fans have been waiting for an announced opponent ever since Chael Sonnen ended his retirement by signing with Bellator MMA. The self-proclaimed "Bad Guy" wasted no time calling out the "Bad Boy" himself in Tito Ortiz.
Luckily for fight fans, the legendary mixed martial arts (MMA) trashtalkers will square off early next year, per a news break by Ortiz himself on AXS TV's Inside MMA.
At a location yet to be determined, "The Huntington Beach Bad Boy" and the "American Gangster" will throw down next January in what will presumably be the main event of a "tent pole" Bellator event.
Alex Oliveira missed weight by 5.5 pounds for his lightweight bout with Will Brooks at UFC Fight Night 96 in Portland, and he can’t gain more than 20 pounds before the fight.
Brooks accepted to face Oliveira despite the weight difference and will take 20 percent of his fight purse, and the commission won’t allow the Brazilian to gain more than 20 pounds until fight night. According to the trainer, "Cowboy" usually gains 29 pounds after making weight for a lightweight bout.
"The commission imposed a limit for him, and that’s a problem," Duarte said. "‘Cowboy’ is like Wolverine, he gains weight easily, so I will have to control what he’s going to eat so he doesn’t gain weight. Everything he eats is like concrete, he gains a lot of weight, so he can’t eat that much."
Australia’s Jake Matthews was expected to be a part of the UFC’s return to his home city of Melbourne in November. Now he has his opponent.
Matthews (10-2 MMA, 4-2 UFC) will meet Andrew Holbrook (11-1 MMA, 1-1 UFC) in a lightweight bout at UFC Fight Night 101. UFC officials announced the new booking early today after an initial report from Melbourne’s Herald Sun newspaper.
The card for the UFC’s return to Northern Ireland in November continues to grow with the addition of a lightweight fight, as well a featherweight fight.
The UFC recently added a lightweight fight between Kevin Lee (13-2 MMA, 6-2 UFC) and Magomed Mustafaev (14-1 MMA, 2-0 UFC).
In addition, Artem Lobov (12-12 MMA, 1-2 UFC) has been booked for a bout against Teruto Ishihara (9-2-2 MMA, 2-0-1 UFC) at UFC Fight Night 99, according to a report from the Irish Mirror newspaper.
Unless a big offer is thrown at his direction, longtime MMA heavyweight Gabriel Gonzaga is retired from mixed martial arts.
A former UFC heavyweight title contender, Gonzaga told MMA Fighting on Wednesday that his plans for the future don’t include competing in MMA anymore. "Napao" fought the last fight of his contract with the UFC in April, losing to Derrick Lewis in Zagreb, Croatia.
"I don’t plan on coming back," Gonzaga said. "I’m taking care of my new gym, Squared BJJ. If I get an offer, it has to be a great offer, or I’ll keep competing in jiu-jitsu against people my age. I’m probably retired already. I will only fight again if there’s a good offer, financially speaking, and I don’t think any promotion wants me."
"I don’t fight for less than 100 thousand dollars," he said. "I’m 37 years old and I won’t risk my health or waste my time training and suffering for this. I don’t need it anymore. God gave me a good opportunity in life, and I don’t need this anymore. That would be my number. For less than 100 thousand, I wouldn’t step into a ring anymore."
If this is it for his mixed martial arts career, Gonzaga leaves as a happy man.
"Thank God I had a good run in this sport," "Napao" said. "I wasn’t the best in the world or became the champion in a big organization, but I was always there. I was a top 10 for almost a decade, I have the second-fastest knockout in the division, I have more than 20 fights in the biggest promotion in the world, and I believe I’m tied with Frank Mir with most finishes in the division. I had a good run. It could have been better, but it could have been worse, too."
With its debut event at Madison Square Garden finalized, the UFC is now turning its attention to nearby Albany, N.Y.
Gian Villante vs. Patrick Cummins is in the works for the Dec. 9 card, which will mark the first UFC show in New York's capital city, MMA Fighting has learned. The promotion has yet to officially announce the light-heavyweight fight.
Jose Aldo wants to leave the UFC, and another Brazilian star supports his battle against the promotion.
Wanderlei Silva, who returns to action on Dec. 29 against Mirko Cro Cop at Rizin Fighting Federation, asked the current UFC interim featherweight champion to sign with the Japanese promotion.