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KO of the Week: Stipe Miocic vs Fabricio Werdum

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For this installment of KO of the Week, we look back at UFC 198 when Stipe Miocic traded with Fabricio Werdum. Watch Miocic defend his strap against Francis Ngannou at UFC 220 on January 20.

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Unfiltered Episode 160: Uriah Hall

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UFC Staff Report
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Uriah “Primetime” Hall calls in from the road and discusses his upcoming co-main event bout against Vitor Belfort at UFC Fight Night St. Louis, training at Xtreme Couture with the late Robert Follis, rankings just being a number, and more. Later, Jim and Matt talk about Dana White's plan for Cris Cyborg's next fight, Robbie Lawler's injuries, Jeff Novitzky on Jon Jones, Marlon Moraes and Jimmie Rivera's war of words on social media, and more. Plus, another installment of Matt's Movie Minute.

Full Episode

Uriah on training at Xtreme Couture

Uriah is confidently ready to take whatever Vitor Belfort has to offer

Uriah on Robert Whittaker vs. Luke Rockhold

Uriah on training at the UFC Performance Institute and his ground game

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Uriah Hall embraces his inner bad ass

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The comment came in reference to his most recent outing – a bout with Krzysztof Jotko in September that showcased the good and the bad of the enigmatic finisher.

Over the opening five minutes, Hall was hesitant and it cost him as the Polish kickboxer dropped him with a series of uppercuts along the cage before taking him down to the canvas, mounting him and dominating the round. In the second, as soon as Hall started coming forward, he found success, planting a right hand between Jotko’s eyes that dropped him to the canvas, where a series of clean, accurate follow-ups brought the fight to a close.

“The moment I embraced it, something happened,” he said. “I zoned in, I had clear vision and everything made sense and I knocked him out.

“I didn’t believe it,” Hall said in regards to his standing as one of the most dangerous men on the roster. “Someone can tell you, ‘You’re this,’ but I didn’t see it. If you don’t see it for yourself, it’s almost like it doesn’t make sense and that’s hard to say in the MMA world because you have to be a bad ass.”

That too has been part of Hall’s story thus far in his career.

In a sport where bravado is almost a prerequisite and most everyone brandishes an aura of invincibility and unflappable belief in his or her self – even after an ugly loss – the articulate New Yorker who now resides in Las Vegas has never been shy about his struggles with self-doubt and the pressure that comes with stepping into the Octagon.

Some of those feelings reared their head on the road to St. Louis, as a strong start to his training camp that included a visit from his younger brother Malik was derailed following the death of one of his coaches, Robert Follis.

RELATED: Uriah Hall on UnfilteredReasons To Watch Fight Night St. Louis

Around the same time, one of Hall’s best friends from childhood also passed away. Combined with Follis’ death and the feeling of loneliness that comes with being apart from your family during the holidays, the stress began to mount, prompting a call home to mom.

“My mom said, ‘Listen, as bad as something is, you have to accept what is happening. You have to accept the good that is happening and you have to accept the bad. You have to get your s*** together – you have to – because you have a fight coming up. You have to get it together. There is no other choice.’

“I was at headquarters almost every day, watching them work together, so I can imagine what he was going through,” he said of Elliott and Follis. “Homeboy just went out there and he had a lot weighing on him and he overcame it because he expressed himself and it was beautiful and I applaud the dude for it.

“It must have been probably the hardest thing he’s had to go through, but it was very inspiring to see him go out there and overcome that – use that passion and express it.”

Now it’s his turn to do the same.

The days of questioning his talents are a thing of the past, replaced by an understanding that he is abundantly talented, that losing isn’t the end of the world and that wolves don’t worry about the opinions of the sheep.

“I had a fear of the ring,” said Hall. “I started to think about the transition I had in fighting and I was like, ‘What turn of events made me switch?’ and I think it was when I fought Kelvin. That was the first time I had ever been in a situation where there was so much pressure, where there were so many people watching me and I was so afraid to fail.

“I started to forget who I really was. I started to forget that I could kill people. I started to forget that I’m articulate. I started to forget that I have pinpoint accuracy. I had forgotten all those things and I think I replaced it with social media, wanting to impress, wanting to win in front of the boss and in front of the crowd.

“I replaced it with all these things that were really unnecessary and I had to be really honest with myself that it’s okay to go out there and attempt and maybe not have things go your way.

“Maybe I didn’t have it right the whole time,” he added.

Maybe he didn’t, but he’s starting to figure it out and starting to believe that he is, in fact, a certified bad ass inside the Octagon.

Consider yourselves warned.

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Francis Ngannou talks about journey leading up to UFC 220

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Francis Ngannou sat down with MMAjunkie’s John Morgan for an in-depth interview covering his quick ascension in the heavyweight ranks, his title shot against reigning champion Stipe Miocic, leaving his homeland to pursue his dreams, his favorite flavors of sports drinks, and much more.

Ngannou will attempt to take the heavyweight strap from Miocic Saturday January 20 in the main event of UFC 220, which also features the light heavyweight title bout between champion Daniel Cormier and Volkan Oezdemir.

A few tickets remain for the event, and you can find them by clicking here.

Order the event on Pay-Per-View here.

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Fight Night St. Louis – Jeremy Stephens: There’s Levels To This

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Jeremy Stephens previews his main event fight against Dooho Choi at Fight Night St. Louis on Sunday live on FS1.

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On the Rise: St. Louis Edition

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Welcome to another year of On the Rise, where every fight week, I’ll shine a spotlight on a trio of new and emerging talents set to step into the Octagon for your viewing enjoyment.

A ton of great fighters have appeared in this series over the last couple years – contenders like Brian Ortega and Jimmie Rivera, intriguing upstarts like Curtis Blaydes and Paulo Costa and title challengers Francis Ngannou and Volkan Oezdemir – and the plan is to introduce you to another crop of similarly talented athletes over the next 12 months, starting with the kickoff event for the 2018 campaign.

This is On the Rise: St. Louis Edition.

Matt Frevola

The latest graduate of Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series to make his Octagon debut, Frevola carries a perfect 6-0 mark into his lightweight matchup with Marco Polo Reyes on Sunday.

After rattling off three wins in eight months to push his record to 4-0, Frevola took a step up in competition under the Titan FC banner, earning a unanimous decision win over Team Nogueira’s Raush Manfio before handing Luke Flores his first professional setback this past summer in Las Vegas. The 27-year-old has earned stoppages in four of his six previous appearances and has never suffered a loss inside the cage, having gone 8-0 as an amateur before making a seamless transition to the pro ranks in 2014.

Frevola will have his hands full this time around, though, as Reyes is the most seasoned and savvy opponent he’s faced to date, boasting a 3-1 record under the UFC banner and a 7-5 mark overall. The lightweight division is stacked with talent, so the only way for Frevola to stand out and start making a name for himself is to add another impressive performance to his resume and keep his perfect record intact as he begins his UFC journey.

Danielle Taylor

Taylor came out on the wrong side of a split decision result in her promotional debut in August 2016, but found her footing in the strawweight division last year, posting decision wins over Seohee Ham and Jessica Penne. Now she looks to make it three in a row with a tough preliminary card showdown against durable veteran JJ Aldrich in St. Louis.

The 28-year-old Taylor is a stick-and-move artist, making up for her small stature by darting in with quick punches and kicks before retreating back into space. After struggling to connect with much in her first Octagon appearance, the Saekson’s Muay Thai representative has done a good job of making the required adjustments and using her speed and movement over her last two appearances.

Fresh off her first UFC victory, Aldrich is more experienced than her 5-2 record shows and a tough out for anyone. Should Taylor be able to collect another victory and extend her winning streak to three, we could see “Dynamite” breaking into the Top 15 in the 115-pound weight division.

Mads Burnell

While most simply see the result, the truth about Burnell’s UFC debut back in September is that the Danish lightweight acquitted himself quite well against Brazilian powerhouse Michel Prazares given that he took the fight on a month’s notice and Prazares missed weight by three pounds.

With the benefit of a full training camp behind him for this one, the 23-year-old neophyte aims to get back into the win column with a victory over fellow sophomore Mike Santiago.

Results aside, there was a lot to like about Burnell’s performance against Prazares in Rotterdam as he was able to hang with the veteran grappler in the early going and showed flashes of potential. Boasting good size for the division and a solid ground game, Burnell is definitely one to keep an eye on going forward in the lightweight ranks.

Santiago was one of the first DWTNCS alumni to matriculate to the Octagon, filling in for Nick Hein opposite surging newcomer Zabit Magomedsharipov on the same early September fight card in the Netherlands where Burnell faced Prazares. The loss brought his impressive 11-fight winning streak to a halt and he’ll be champing at the bit to get back into the win column here, so if Burnell can prevent that from happening and pick up his first UFC victory in the process, he’ll take a step forward in the deep and talented lightweight depths as 2018 gets underway.

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Reasons To Watch Fight Night Saint Louis

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When this Sunday night rolls around, it will only have been 16 days since the last UFC event, but coming off such an amazing avalanche of fight cards in late 2017, it already feels like an eternity. This special Sunday night presentation will not only mark the first UFC event of the new year, but also the UFC's inaugural visit to Saint Louis. And what a debut it's shaping up to be.

These are the reasons to watch Fight Night Saint Louis: Stephens vs Choi

Johnson returns home following ‘Fight of the Year'

For his debut at featherweight, Johnson will bring that same destructive power and abandon. He'll need it. His opponent, No. 10 Darren Elkins, is riding a five fight winning streak, and has shown that he has the chin and the cardio to outlast the kind of beating Johnson can dish out.

Johnson is fighting in front of his hometown crowd and the motivation will be high for “The Menace” to bring some fireworks on Sunday.

You leave us no Choi

It’s not often that the UFC Free Fight that promotes a fighter’s upcoming bout highlights a loss by that fighter, but it’s a testament to the technique and excitement delivered by Dooho “The Korean Superboy” Choi that even his (rare) losses will having audiences wanting more. It's preceisely because of this phenomenon that you'll want to watch him fight now.

Like his fellow countryman “The Korean Zombie” Chang Sung Jung, Choi will fulfill the obligation of all male citizens of South Korea by serving two years of mandatory military service, beginning in roughly a year from now. It's a bit of a tease for fight fans who have already been spoiled by his prowess and will have to say goodbye for a spell. He's aiming for a title shot before he takes his hiatus, and given that he only has 12 months to accomplish that, he really has his work cut out for him. The easiest task on that path is not likely his next opponent, Jeremy Stephens, an unrestrained fighter with aspirations of his own. Don't miss out on what has the potential to be one of the wildest one-year rides of any UFC fighter's career.

RELATED: On The Rise: Saint LouisSpecial Sunday FS1 Fight Night

Flygirl VanZant

It has been more than a year since we saw Paige VanZant in the Octagon, and it's not because she hasn't wanted to fight.

Thrilled to be moving up to 125lbs after a much-publicized battle with weight-cutting, her initial debut at flyweight against Jessica Eye was stymied by a back injury. And that wasn't all. PVZ also counted sinus infections, pink eye, ringworm and a herniated disc among her opponents, all of which were victorious in keeping her out of action.

Finally healthy in body and spirit, she's set to make her long awaited entry into the division against Australia's Jessica-Rose Clark. It won't be the warmest welcome. Clark already has a convincing division win over compatriot Bec Rawlings, and is looking to climb past her current #10 ranking.

Incidentally, VanZant's original debut opponent, Jessica Eye, is fighting on the same card against Kalindra Faria, and regardless of the results Sunday night, a re-booking of the VanZant-Eye fight feels inevitable.

Witness a Living Legend

There are plenty of 40 year old fighters still in the game, but none that fought in (let alone won in) UFC 12. True, Vitor Belfort was the youngest fighter to score an Octagon win way back in 1997, but it's safe to say ‘The Phenom' has already forgotten more fights in his storied career than most of today's stars will ever undertake. Dan Henderson, Luke Rockhold, Michael Bisping and Anthony Johnson are just a few of the many behemoths Belfort has dispatched on his way to legend status, and his convincing unanimous decision win over Nate Marquardt back in June showed he still had the goods.

It won't be a cake walk in St. Louis. His co-main opponent is a resurgent Uriah Hall, himself coming off an impressive TKO win over Krzysztof Jotko that was an embodiment of power and heart. But the middleweight matchup is an intriguing interplay of distinct skill sets. Further, the chance to witness a fighter of Belfort's stature competing at such a high level more than 20 years removed from his debut is not only special, it's a gift.

The Nigerian Nightmare

Named by EA Sports as one of four fighters to watch in 2018, Kamaru Usman‘s stock has continued to climb since his blistering KO of Sergio Moraes back in September. Usman's lone professional loss predated his UFC career in 2013, and since arriving in the promotion, he's walked through any opponent put in front of him, and is easily one of the most exciting and upwardly mobile welterweights in the division.

Promising to give #3 Colby Covingtonthe spanking your father failed to do“, Usman will first have to cross paths with viking Emil ‘Valhalla' Meek, who makes his second Octagon appearance following his 2016 defeat of Jordan Mein.

A win over Meek would increase his win streak to 11 and almost certainly catapult him higher than his current #10 ranking in the division. Usman himself has suggested that the only reason he hasn't fought top contenders like Covington already is because they are “smart enough to know that they have no chance.”

If he dominates again Sunday night and doesn't fight a ranked opponent next, his point would be hard to argue.

Steve Latrell is a digital producer and writer for UFC.com. Follow him on Twitter at @TheUFSteve

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Cummings has discovered a huge reason to deliver Octagon success

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MORE FROM ST. LOUIS: Reasons to Watch | Explose main event set for Sunday nightThree fighters On the RiseFree Fight: Choi vs. Swanson

It’s the way of the world in the fight game. You don’t get to a certain level until after you beat a name opponent ahead of you. Cummings, 6-2 in the UFC since coming off TUF 17, has had a couple opportunities against Nelson and Ponzinibbio, but came up short. He knows he can hang with that level of opposition; now it’s time to beat that name.

“I think coming in through The Ultimate Fighter, I was getting a lot of those Ultimate Fighter-quality opponents,” said Cummings, a pro since 2007. “I’ve been around the game a long time, and I think I was above that. I didn’t perform how I thought I should on the show, but I was just flying under the radar.

“Then I had a couple ranked opponents and it just didn’t go my way,” he continues. “I had a weird injury in the Gunnar Nelson fight with my eye and that definitely impacted that fight. And the Ponzinibbio fight was extremely close and, depending on what you’re looking at, it could have gone either way. He hands down won the third round, but the first two were very, very close. He’s doing really well and it proves I deserve to be at that level, and everybody else, I’m pretty much running through. So I’m excited for this year. I think 2018 is gonna start off with a bang and I think I have a bright future in front of me.”

Since the Nelson defeat in 2014, Cummings has elevated his game, going 4-1 with three finishes. He’s won two in a row, submitting Alexander Yakovlev and Nathan Coy, and while he’s in one of the UFC’s most treacherous shark tanks, he hasn’t gotten the attention some fighters with that same slate in their last five bouts have received. But he’s not ranting and raving about it, as he’s confident his time will come.

“I understand it, I get the game,” he said. “It’s the entertainment business.”

But you’ve been very entertaining, Zak.

He laughs.

“I know, I’m a very entertaining fighter. I like to finish fights. Even if I lose, it’s entertaining, and if it goes to a decision it’s entertaining. Maybe I haven’t done my part as far as pushing myself as much on social media. And some people can do some jump, spinning, twist, cool-looking stuff. (Laughs) I don’t know exactly what it is. I know I can do better on social media and start building my brand. But if they’re looking for people who are going out and being entertaining and winning fights, my time will come. If I keep doing what I’ve been doing, I can’t really be denied too much longer.”

And just for the record, Zak Cummings is undefeated in 11 fights in Missouri.

“That is very true,” he said. “Can’t forget that little stat.”

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Game On: Holloway vs Edgar Set For UFC 222

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A title fight between the 145 pound champion Max Holloway and perennial top contender Frankie Edgar has been rescheduled. The championship bout will serve as headliner for UFC 222, on March 3rd in Las Vegas at the T-Mobile Arena. The duo were suppose to face off this past December at UFC 218, but Edgar was injured in training and was forced to withdraw due to a broken orbital bone. 

In Edgar's absence, former champ Jose Aldo stepped up on short notice and re-matched the young Hawaiian champ. Holloway dispatched of the aging Aldo by TKO, once again in the third frame. It was in almost identical fashion as their first fight. Max is currently sitting on a twelve fight win streak, with nine of those wins by finishes.

Frankie Edgar, the 36 year old New Jersey native is coming off of two very impressive wins. “The Answer” turned in a unanimous decision win against the always game Jeremy Stephens and most recently TKO'd young up and coming star Yair Rodriguez. In both fights, the former Lightweight World Champion has looked to be in top form.

Image result for Mackenzie Dern
The Undefeated Star Makes Her UFC Debut At UFC 222

Elsewhere on UFC 222, Mackenzie Dern makes her long awaited debut in the octagon against Ashley Yoder. Dern is a grappling wiz with an impressive five wins and no losses to start her MMA career. She will be competing in the strawweight division. Fan favorite heavyweights Andrei Arlovski and Stefan Struve will wage war as well as a battle between middleweight main stays, C.B. Dollaway and Hector Lombard. Overall, UFC 222 is looking to be building up nicely.

 

 

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Fight Night St. Louis: Stephens vs Choi – Daniel Cormier Preview

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Light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier breaks down the intriguing main event at Fight Night St. Louis between Jeremy Stephens and Dooho Choi on Sunday, January 14 live on FS1.

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Yan entering UFC at ‘perfect time’

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Historic night for UFC hopefuls on Week 2 of DWTNCS

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Dana White Announces UFC Contract Winners – Week 2 | Dana White’s Tuesday Night...

UFC President Dana White made it a record setting night when he announced that four athletes were being awarded UFC contracts! Powered by WPeMatico